Mahatma Gandhi once said that a nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people. Perhaps that was in the minds of a small group of independent-minded Conservative MPs earlier this week when they defied the whips and voted against Brussels's latest act of nation-building - the £154million "Europe for Citizens Programme" - which seeks to sweep away centuries of national identity and replace them with an artificial European sense of self.
Ask yourself this question. Are you British, English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish? Or are you European? If you answered yes to any one of the first four, you are a target for the EU's continuing Orwellian campaign to promote a European identity in place of supposedly outmoded national identities. And, of course, the same applies if you think of yourself as German, French or Italian - or any of the 28 nationalities that make up the EU.
In truth, the treasure set aside for the citizens programme is a vast underestimate of the cash being pumped every year into this pan-European cultural imperialism. My former MEP colleague Chris Heaton-Harris, now a Conservative MP, estimated the budget for this kind of proselytising, via Brussels's hydra of tame quangos, think-tanks and charities, at around £800 million a year. Other estimates, folding in all the legions of the Brussels cultural carnival, put the figure as high as nearly £2 billion a year - more than the promotional budget for Coca Cola worldwide.
EU PROPAGANDA IN NUMBERS
- £2 billion - the total annual EU propaganda budget (more than Coca Cola spends globally on advertising)
- £1 billion - 'Lifelong Learning', a scheme which promotes a "European dimension" in education
- £735 million - 'Youth in Action', "aims to inspire a sense of active European citizenship, solidarity and tolerance among young Europeans"
- £200 million - the annual UK taxpayer contribution to the EU propaganda budget
- £154 million - the 'Europe for Citizens Programme 2014 - 2020' which funds organisations to promote Europeanism
- £20 million - the annual spend on 'Eurobarometer' a polling organisation used to justify EU interference
- £9 million - annual cost of Euronews, a news channel which gives "a European point of view". The channel bizarrely now also broadcasts in Arabic
Most of us are familiar now with the main features of the EU's ambition to transform itself into a superstate. So we have a flag, an anthem, a Parliament, a Court, citizenship, a civil service (the Commission) and a raft of treaties underpinning collective decision-making in key areas such as justice, home affairs, foreign affairs and defence. Some 17 countries have a common currency and a central bank. Shortly, we will acquire the further, not to say final, trappings of a single country - fiscal union, budgetary supervision and banking union.
We have some European-wide tax policies (eg VAT) and we might yet be forced to accept a financial transactions tax.
In other words, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, then it is a duck. Commissioner Viviane Reding called it a duck only a few days ago - "a United States of Europe with the Commission as government".
But of the myriad attempts to cajole and coerce us into the superstate, few are as insidious as the multi-pronged cultural offensive from the heart of the empire. The Romans would be envious.
Just like someone from Dallas thinks of himself as an American first and a Texan second, so people from Birmingham, England must come to think of themselves as European first and British second (if not third or fourth after Midlander or Brummie).
The EU has used a vast number of mechanisms to promote the idea that we are not British but European. Through manipulating our sport, our history, through our cities and our citizenship, the EU has sought to instil the teaching of Jean Monnet, the 'Father of Europe', into our everyday lives.
The EU has tried to infiltrate British sport with a 'European identity' on numerous occasions. Take the (unsuccessful) attempt by the European Parliament to make national football teams add the EU stars emblem to their football shirts. Or the shameless attempt to cash in on the success of the London Olympics in 2012 by trying to fly the EU flag at the events.
It is interesting to note that all British MEPs were opposed to these ludicrous proposals except for the Liberal Democrats, who increasingly seem to be the unashamed representatives of the European superstate in Britain.
British history is being corrupted by European meddling. Take the £44 million 'House of European History', a vanity project in Brussels due to open in 2015, paid for by the European taxpayer. Rather absurdly, inside this museum dedicated to promoting European identity, national histories are in danger of being air-brushed out.
We have yet to see the final result, but the Euro-federalists behind the project find talk of the world wars embarrassing and divisive. They would rather talk of the European civil wars, a huge insult to our Commonwealth war dead and one that conveniently overlooks Hitler's signal responsibility for the carnage of World War Two and German militarism for the appalling war mounted 100 years ago this summer.
So what is the Citizen's Programme, condemned by veteran Tory Eurosceptic MP Bill Cash as promoting political union, all about?
How does such an initiative burn up £154 million? It is quite simple, by funding pro-European NGOs, think-tanks and charities and general busy-bodies to promote the utopia of a single Europe, in which peace, harmony and brotherly love have replaced the greed, power-hunger and selfishness of the wicked and outdated nation state. Countries are, of course, the source of all evil in the federalist mind as Monnet himself believed. Commission President Barrosso recently implied critics of the EU were the same kind of national forces that started world wars.
Even our cities have been invaded by the EU. In 1985, the EU introduced the "European Capitals of Culture", an award given to cities. The purpose of the award is "candidate cities must present the role they have played in European Culture, their links with Europe, their European identity." Cities willing to sell their soul to the European machine benefit from a cool taxpayer-funded £1.2 million.
There are some underlying similarities between the tactics employed by the European Union to promote European identity and those used by the Soviet Union to promote Communist ideology. What is perhaps more sinister about the EU's approach is that it has been more underhand than that of the Soviets.
The key outlets for propaganda in the Soviet Union were youth organisations and schools, posters, film, art, and theatre - all of which are used by the EU today.
The EU too pays particular attention to the indoctrination of children. The European Commission publication manager famously highlighted why exposure to EU propaganda should begin at a young age - "before they form prejudices and are misinformed by other sources." True to their word, the EU has developed some quite frightening material for British schools. The booklet "Let's Explore Europe", aimed at children as young as 9, doesn't pull any punches with its European citizenship message, using lines worthy of a cult, including "we are today's European children: before long we'll be Europe's adults".
In my book, Time to Jump: A Positive Vision of a Britain Out of the EU and In EEA Lite, I set out how the EU has come to represent a serious threat to British culture and a crusader for European identity in place of the centuries-old national version.
Grandiose projects such as the single currency and common foreign and defence policies are the superstructure of the empire - the castles in the sky you can just about see from the white cliffs of Dover. Less obvious, but more pernicious, are the billions of euros being pumped into brainwashing our people, especially the young, into embracing the new European dawn.
My judgement is that for all their money and power, the Eurocrats will fail as they are so disjointed from the peoples of Europe. But it is best we understand the dangerous, shadowy game they are playing.