In these European elections, nobody really campaigned against abstention; and yet, it has become the worst enemy of our democracies; the most terrible indicator, too, of the decadence of our moral spirit, and the weakening of our capacity to resist the threats of the world to come.

In our European societies, it would seem to have become a matter of course to consider freedom as an irreversible achievement, and to think that we will always enjoy all the means to exercise it, i.e. security, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, housing, employment, healthcare and education. It would even seem that it is no longer necessary to worry about who pays for all this, or to want to contribute to it, or even to want to decide about it. Each and every one of us, radically free individuals by essence, sees the society in which we live as a mere tool at the service of our needs, desires and whims. We forget that it’s a fragile collective creation, to be protected, constantly built and governed.

What is the cause? The left will say that it’s economic liberalism that has imposed this ultra-individualistic vision of a society in which everyone has the illusion of being definitively free, of not having any collective responsibility, of not feeling obliged to decide on a common destiny. The right, on the other hand, will say that it’s the ideology of the left that has enabled everyone to believe that large collective machines are there to provide everything everyone needs, and that society is there to finance them without everyone having to worry about them. In both cases, this leads people to believe that politics is no longer important and that voting is pointless.

In fact, a perverse alliance has developed between absolute ideological liberalism and crude materialistic socialism, giving everyone the feeling that they are absolutely free, that everything is owed to them, and that there is no longer anything collective that has not already been definitively decided.

It’s a sad irony that the two major achievements of democracy (individual freedom and social protection) have ended in the negation of their very raison d’être, because they have already been achieved.

And yet this is not the case. Democracy is fragile. Freedom is under constant threat. Social protection, security, education, the environment and infrastructure cannot be financed without choice, effort and rigor. Our way of life, our values, are under attack from all sides. We can’t be sure of keeping them forever. We have to deal with all this.

Abstention is a deadly poison, because those who don’t vote leave everything to those who do. And, of course, those who vote the most are the advocates of the most extreme theses, whose only common denominator is their desire to put an end to democracy, which is so much appreciated by those who abstain.

In particular, to abstain in the European elections is to give full power to those who want to undo Europe, by denying the primacy of treaties over national law, and by rejecting all forms of financial, social, technological, ecological and military solidarity.

Let there be no mistake. Democracy practically only exists in Europe. Elsewhere, it either does not exist, or is in the hands of moneyed forces far more powerful than those that traverse the old continent.

To abstain is to resolve to enjoy servitude. The dictatorship of abstention paves the way for many other totalitarianisms. As long as we fail to understand that the rule of law in a country protects us far better than indifferent freedom, that voting is the condition of sovereignty, that in Europe, European treaties and decisions taken in common must retain a higher value than national law, and that there are great universal human values which it is up to us to defend and promote, we will be promised anarchy, i.e. submission. To vote is to defend freedom.

Image: Philippe Lopez/AFP.