The corrective effects of Donald Trump’s victory on the wider world have started.
The first thing it is doing is striking fear into the hearts of those who need to be made to fear.
Who are they? They are the Powers that rule us.
They have silenced the voice of the people by creating the undemocratic European Union. They do their utmost to impose their orthodoxy by suppressing freedom of speech.
Most of the press and the mainstream media are their lackeys.
And now, inspired by the British exit from the EU by popular vote, and even more by the triumph of Donald Trump, the suppressed are emboldened to speak out, to protest, to challenge the power of Their power.
They know it, they fear it, and they admit that they fear it.
Reuters, one of the leading media lackeys, “reports” the parties and organizations that pose the threat – without recognizing that some of them are corrective movements. The word “populist“ is applied to all of them, and considered enough to condemn all of them. But in this article the groups cited make a very mixed bag. All they have in common is that they threaten the monopoly of power that the Establishment now holds.
Back in May, when Donald’s Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election seemed the remotest of possibilities, a senior European official took to Twitter before a G7 summit in Tokyo to warn of a “horror scenario“.
Imagine, mused the official, if instead of Barack Obama, Francois Hollande, David Cameron and Matteo Renzi, next year’s meeting of the club of rich nations included Trump, Marine Le Pen, Boris Johnson and Beppe Grillo.
A month after Martin Selmayr, the head of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s cabinet made the comment, Britain shocked the world by voting to leave the European Union. Cameron stepped down as prime minister and Johnson – the former London mayor who helped swing Britons behind Brexit – became foreign minister.
Now, with Trump’s triumph over his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, the populist tsunami that seemed outlandish a few months ago is becoming reality, and the consequences for Europe’s own political landscape are potentially huge.
In 2017, voters in the Netherlands, France and Germany – and possibly in Italy and Britain too – will vote in elections that could be colored by the triumphs of Trump and Brexit, and the toxic politics that drove those campaigns.
The lessons will not be lost on continental Europe’s populist parties, who hailed Trump’s victory on Wednesday as a body blow for the political mainstream.
“Toxic politics”? “Toxic” because they are “populist”. “Populist” simply means “of the people”. But the Establishment and its media lackeys use it to imply the will of a rabble, a frenzied mob, driven by foaming irrational hate to do violence for no reason but a sheer lust for destruction – the very thing Leftist mobs do so often under the banners of, for instance, the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Politics will never be the same,” said Geert Wilders of the far-right Dutch Freedom Party. “What happened in America can happen in Europe and the Netherlands as well.”
Geert Wilders’s party “far right”? Read his latest speech here. He is proud of the Dutch tradition of freedom, tolerance, impartial justice. He is a patriot, a defender of the nation-state of Holland. That does not make him a Nazi, which is what Reuters, and all those for whom Reuters speaks, mean to imply by the label “far right”.
French National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen was similarly ebullient. “Today the United States, tomorrow France,” Le Pen, the father of the party’s leader Marine Le Pen, tweeted.
Aligning Marine Le Pen with her father Jean-Marie Le Pen is again an attempt to apply the “far right” or “Nazi” smear. She did take over the leadership of the originally neo-Nazi Front National from her father, but changed it into a tolerant conservative party, expelling members who held pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic views.
Daniela Schwarzer, director of research at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), said Trump’s bare-fisted tactics against his opponents and the media provided a model for populist European parties that have exercised comparative restraint on a continent that still remembers World War Two.
Again the implied smear: Trump “with his bare-fisted tactics” is corrupting the people of Europe hitherto restrained from active “populist” political action -“restrained” because they “remember World War Two” – ie. they have an impulse to be Nazis, and now are likely to break out in full Nazi form, inspired to it by Trump. Implication: Trump is a Nazi.
“The broken taboos, the extent of political conflict, the aggression that we’ve seen from Trump, this can widen the scope of what becomes thinkable in our own political culture,” Schwarzer said.
The “taboos” are those imposed by the Establishment. They are the locks on the lips of the people. That is the suppression of free speech.
Eyes on Austria next:
Early next month, Austrians will vote in a presidential election that could see Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party become the first far-right head of state to be freely elected in western Europe since 1945.
The Austrian Freedom Party was founded by a Nazi, an erstwhile SS officer, but moved away from its Nazi roots. It formed an alliance, temporarily , with the Social Democratic Party. What does it stand for? Pretty well everything. It is a “liberal” party, a “social welfare” party, but it favors “privatization” and low taxes. It has been described as “right-wing populist”, “national conservative”, and “national liberal”. It calls itself libertarian, and holds individual freedom as one of its highest principles. It is strongly anti-establishment and against Muslim immigration into Austria.
Now to Italy:
On the same day, a constitutional reform referendum on which Prime Minister Renzi has staked his future could upset the political order in Italy, pushing Grillo’s left-wing 5-Star movement closer to the reins of power.
So here’s a rebel movement against the Establishment that even Reuters cannot smear with the label “far right”. It calls itself a “left-wing” movement. But it also calls itself “populist”, “anti-establishment”, “anti-globalist”, and against the undemocratic European Union. One thing it also believes in that puts it decidedly on the left, is Environmentalism.
“An epoch has gone up in flames,” Grillo said. “The real demagogues are the press, intellectuals, who are anchored to a world that no longer exists.”
He dares to say it!
On to Poland and Hungary, where the Muslim invasion is not welcomed by their governments. That alone, of course, in the eyes of the Establishment makes them “right-wing”. Yes, they are nationalists, and nationalism now, in the age of the EU, of the Establishment’s preference for “open borders” and globalization, is the very essence of “Far Rightism”.
Right-wing nationalists are already running governments in Poland and Hungary.
But that’s Eastern Europe, where they are inclined to be more nationalist because of their years under the heel of International Communism, aka the Soviet Union.
In Western Europe, the likelihood of a Trump figure taking power seems remote for now.
In Europe’s parliamentary democracies, traditional parties from the right and left have set aside historical rivalries, banding together to keep out the populists.
Banding together, as in certain ways Republicans and Democrats have been doing for the last eight years in Washington, D.C., to safeguard their power. They are the Establishment in America against which Trump is leading a movement of the people.
But the lesson from the Brexit vote is that parties do not have to be in government to shape the political debate, said Tina Fordham, chief global political analyst at Citi. She cited the anti-EU UK Independence Party which has just one seat in the Westminster parliament.
“UKIP did poorly in the last election but had a huge amount influence over the political dynamic in Britain,” Fordham said. “The combination of the Brexit campaign and Trump have absolutely changed the way campaigns are run.”
UKIP leader Nigel Farage hailed Trump’s victory on Wednesday as a “supersized Brexit”.
As new political movements emerge, traditional parties will find it increasingly difficult to form coalitions and hold them together.
Now a look at Spain:
In Spain, incumbent Mariano Rajoy was returned to power last week but only after two inconclusive elections in which voters fled his conservatives and their traditional rival on the left, the Socialists, for two new parties, Podemos and Ciudadanos.
Podemos is a left-wing party, and Cuidadanos a “liberal-progressive, postnationalist” party – so also left-wing. Their inclusion in an article about the fear of the European Establishment is because they too are “populist”.
After 10 months of political limbo, Rajoy finds himself atop a minority government that is expected to struggle to pass laws, implement reforms and plug holes in Spain’s public finances.
The virus of political fragility could spread next year from Spain to the Netherlands, where Wilders’s Freedom Party is neck-and-neck in opinion polls with Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberals.
That was a bad segue. What is happening in the Netherlands is not, and will not be, a result of anything that is happening in Spain. But Reuters is now taking a wide view over Western Europe.
For Rutte to stay in power after the election in March, he may be forced to consider novel, less-stable coalition options with an array of smaller parties, including the Greens.
In Europe, the Greens are a mainstream movement, forming mainstream political parties.
In France, which has a presidential system, the chances of Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, emerging victorious are seen as slim.
The odds-on favorite to win the presidential election next spring is Alain Juppe, a 71-year-old centrist with extensive experience in government who has tapped into a yearning for responsible leadership after a decade of disappointment from Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy.
But in a sign of Le Pen’s strength, polls show she will win more support than any other politician in the first round of the election. Even if she loses the second round run-off, as polls suggest, her performance is likely to be seen as a watershed moment for continental Europe’s far-right.
It could give her a powerful platform from which to fight the reforms that Juppe and his conservative rivals for the presidency are promising.
In Germany, where voters go to the polls next autumn, far-right parties have struggled to gain a foothold in the post-war era because of the dark history of the Nazis, but that too is changing.
The trick of the Left to label Nazism a “right-wing” movement continues to stick. The Nazis were of course National Socialists. Their rivals for power were the International Socialists – the Communists. (Then Nazi Germany made a pact with Communist Russia. Both invaded Poland. Later the two totalitarian Socialist countries fought each other.)
Reuters does not mention PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West). It was started in Dresden in October 2014, and now is not only a significant force in Germany, but has branches in other European countries, including Britain. It is a nationalist movement, and it is, above all, against the Islamic invasion of Europe, so of course the press always labels it “far right”. The report deals with another movement, as strongly against Muslim immigration, which participates in elections as a political party:
Just three years old, the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), has become a force at the national level, unsettling Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, who have been punished in a series of regional votes because of her welcoming policy toward refugees.
The AfD is specifically against Muslim immigration. The Left does not like to mention the word “Muslim”.
Merkel could announce as early as next month that she plans to run for a fourth term, and if she does run, current polls suggest she would win.
But she would do so as a diminished figure in a country that is perhaps more divided than at any time in the post-war era. Even Merkel’s conservative sister party, the Bavarian Christian Social Union, has refused to endorse her.
So all over Europe there are populist movements rising against the undemocratic Leftist Islam-favoring Establishment. They dare to be opposed to big government, statism, collectivism, redistribution, open borders, world government, mass Muslim immigration, a globalized economy, and the elitist class that dictates the direction of the world towards those goals, and for which the retention and augmentation of their own power is the only thing that genuinely matters to them.
The populist movements have been timid or “restrained”. But now that America has voted for a populist leader, they will swell in number, become more demanding, perhaps appeal to a majority of voters, perhaps take power as ruling government parties. And they will defy the “taboos”. They will bare their knuckles. They will speak freely, even against Islam. They may go so far as to withdraw their countries from the EU; close borders; stop and even reverse the tide of Islamic immigration; resist globalization.
They may overthrow the Establishment, chuck the corrupt Clinton-type cabals out.
They really are much to be feared.
They are the hope of the West.
Conservative friends and associates in Britain tell us they despair of saving the Kingdom from becoming an Islamic state.
Even if Britain comes out of the EU – which is highly possible at last if the promised referendum goes the right way next year – it is unlikely to be able save itself from its looming fate.
Mark Steyn writes:
Canadians are dead, and so is satire. Six Quebeckers get slaughtered by Islamic terrorists in Burkina Faso, and to honor their memory Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leads a moment of silence … at a mosque.
Speaking of prime ministers, having spent his entire premiership assuring us that whatever happens in the news headlines is nothing to do with Islam, David Cameron has suddenly discovered a few things that are to do with Islam. The opening paragraph from Mr Cameron’s column in the London Times:
Where in the world do you think the following things are happening? School governors’ meetings where male governors sit in the meeting room and the women have to sit out of sight in the corridor. Young women only allowed to leave their house in the company of a male relative. Religious councils that openly discriminate against women and prevent them from leaving abusive marriages. The answer, I’m sorry to say, is Britain.
Ah, right. And who in Britain bears responsibility for letting a parallel self-segregating society incubate and grow these last 20 years?
Much more than 20 years. Nearer to 50 years. See our post Europe betrayed, February 11, 2010 here, where we give an account of how and why the first twenty million Muslims were imported into Europe.
Mr Cameron has just noticed that 22 per cent of Muslim women in the United Kingdom speak little or no English, despite having lived there for decades. If you’re a Muslim female, the moment of silence can last for decades.
So what’s Cameron proposing to do about it? Well, that’s all a bit more iffy:
Forcing all migrants to learn English and ending gender segregation will show we’re serious about creating One Nation.
Fifty years ago, aside from a few querulous Scots, Welsh and Ulster Catholics, you didn’t need to “create” One Nation, because you already had one. Anointing the most “gender segregating” culture on earth as your principal source of population growth is why you no longer have “One Nation”, and why you’re back starting from scratch. Good luck with that.
Mr Cameron has no serious intention of slowing the right of entry of masses of primitive misogynists into Britain, but in an hour or so he and his fellow MPs will be debating whether to ban Donald Trump. Like I said, satire is dead.
Do some people in Britain really want to ban a possible future president of the United Sates from entering their country? Yes. Because he suggested it might be a good idea to ban Muslims from entering the US since Muslims are committing acts of terrorism on US soil. Our guess is that most of the petitioners to have Trump banned are Muslims.
And any number of primitive misogynistic Muslims are allowed to enter Britain. Bringing sharia law with them.
As for “gender segregation” in the Muslim world, let’s go back to that Peterborough [Canada] mosque where Justin Trudeau had his moment of silence to dishonor the Canadian dead at Islam’s hands. The mosque is run by Imam Shazim Khan …
Who is all for gender segregation:
“Gender segregation”? Bring it on!
There is no need for her [a wife] to go out. There is no need for her to call anybody. There is no need for her to talk to anybody … She only makes available herself to her husband and she protects herself and she stays away from everything that her husband doesn’t like in order to please him and to make the marriage work …
Incidentally, Trudeau’s imam says that, if David Cameron thinks “gender segregation” is bad now, wait till the hereafter:
The Prophet PBUH said because of this ingratitude [of the wives towards their husbands] that is why most inhabitants of hell are women.
Cameron isn’t serious about “assimilating” the likes of Imam Khan, and Trudeau kisses his ass.
Speaking of European leaders, most of them would dearly like to impose a moment of silence on Milos Zeman, the President of the Czech Republic. Mr Zeman has a different take on all this:
The experience of Western European countries which have ghettos and excluded localities shows that the integration of the Muslim community is practically impossible … Let them have their culture in their countries and not take it to Europe, otherwise it will end up like Cologne.
… referring to the mass New Year’s Eve assaults on women in Germany and elsewhere.
President Zeman is a leftie, but not a suicidal one.
Zeman, Cameron, Trudeau: Which of these guys has a better handle on reality?
It will end up as even worse than Cologne. Much worse. Already hundreds of British girls have been made sex-slaves by Muslim men. The British authorities did nothing whatever to put a stop to it.
Well before the end of this century, Britain and most of Europe will end up like Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Later maybe Canada will too.
Just 68 years ago, Britain still possessed the greatest empire in history.
Now it is submitting to weak, primitive Islam.
Here is Geert Wilders delivering a great speech recently at the Danish parliament in Copenhagen, to mark the 10th anniversary of the murder by a Muslim terrorist of Theo van Gogh, November 2, 2004.
Please listen to it. It is nothing less than a rousing call to Europe to rise up against its colonization by Islam. (We posted it yesterday as part of a piece on fighting for liberty in the US. But on second thoughts we think it deserves a place to itself.)
Play it loudly. It’s that sort of speech. You won’t hear such things said loud and clear in many places anywhere in the world these days.
He dares to declare a burning truth – that the enemy of liberty, the enemy of the West, the enemy of civilization, is Islam. Not “Islamism”, not “Islamic extremism”, not “radicalized Islam”, but ISLAM.
The discussion following the speech is also inspiring to listen to. Though at moments a little hard to hear, the answers Wilders gives to the questions are very much to the point.
This is from Gatestone, by Soeren Kern:
The project — Muslims in the Eyes of Czech Schoolchildren — is being spearheaded by a Muslim advocacy group and is being financed by American taxpayers through a grant from the US Embassy in Prague. (The US State Department is also promoting Islam in other European countries.)
The group says the Czech Ministry of Education has authorized it to organize lectures and seminars aimed at “teaching Czech schoolchildren about Islamic beliefs and practices” and at “fighting stereotypes and prejudices about Muslims”.
But critics — there are many — say the project’s underlying objective is to convert non-Muslim children to Islam by bringing proselytizing messages into public schools under the guise of promoting multiculturalism and fighting “Islamophobia”.
The group’s website says the first phase of the project involves “analyzing the accuracy of the information about Islam in Czech textbooks on history, geography and social sciences, and mapping the level of teaching about Islam in Czech grammar schools and other secondary schools”.
The second phase of the project involves the implementation of a three-level program that will “acquaint both pupils and teachers with Islam and Muslims” and help them to develop better “critical reception skills” when analyzing supposedly Islamophobic information.
Develop “critical reception skills”? What is a “reception skill”? The ability to swallow any tosh that’s shoved down your throat? As for critical skill, that’s exactly what Muslims don’t want to have brought to bear on their holy texts.
This is a farce, a ruse, a sly cover for proselytizing. “Dawa” they call it. The wonder is that the Czech Ministry of Education cannot see that that’s the case – or doesn’t care that it is.
According to the group’s website:
“The first level acquaints the reader with the history of Islam, the basic religious concepts of tradition and contemporary issues such as family [Sharia] law, the veiling of women and Islamophobia.”
Notice how (unfortunately non-existent) “Islamophobia” is added on to the fact of “the veiling of women”, so that it seems to be equally factual.
“The second level offers a deeper look at the issues and puts more emphasis on the involvement of the pupils.… Pupils will be divided into three groups within which they will study any of the following topics: the veiling of women, media coverage of Islam, and Muslims in the Czech Republic.
The veiling of women, we have little doubt, will be explained to seem a Very Good Thing; and “media coverage of Islam and Muslims” will be objected to wherever it says anything that Muslims don’t like to have said, regardless of whether it is true or not. Any media discussion of Islam which is not obsequious will be condemned as “Islamophobic”.
Each group will be led by an experienced tutor, who will acquaint students with the problems by means of prepared materials and subsequent debate.
The experienced “tutor” will be a trained indoctrinator. The debate on his side will amount to “‘Shut-up,’ he explained.”
“The third level provides schools with artistically oriented projects or discussions with Muslims and professionals dealing with Islam. Artistic activities would involve making a film or taking photographs focused on a day in the life of a Muslim or art workshops and competitions focused on the possibility of integrating Muslims into Czech society.”
But not making cartoons of Muhammad, or there will be Muslim riots from Britain to Bangladesh.
A thought in passing: it seems that Muslims really believe that Islam is attractive; that once infidels know about it, they will be irresistibly drawn to it. Women to subjugation. Men to putting their foreheads on the ground five times a day. And perhaps even more amazing – there are apparently thousands of men and women who are drawn to it. Is it possible, we wonder, that the constant condemnation of our civilization by a dominant left-intelligentsia, our failure to teach the virtues of individual freedom, capitalism, and reason, is leaving our children easy prey to any confidence trickster with a mission, any ideological mountebank who comes along and offers them his certainties?
But to return to the text:
Do the Czech Muslims want to integrate? There’s yet more sly wording to confuse the easily gulled Ministry of Education. When they get down to the nitty-gritty in those classrooms, the “tutor’ will demonstrate that, as Sharia law cannot be reconciled with Czech law, it would be best to have just Sharia. “After all,” he will say, smiling all the while, “it is the word of Allah.”
The group also organizes thematic lectures, workshops and debates for schools or groups of students, many of which are held at the Municipal Library in Prague — and which are more openly geared toward converting Czech youth to Islam.
One such lecture entitled “Paths of Young Czech Women to Islam” answers questions such as: What makes a young Czech woman want to become a Muslim? It is the main motive always falling in love with a Muslim man or are there other reasons? How does one convert to Islam? How can new Muslims cope with non-Muslim relatives?
Another lecture entitled “Koran, Sunna and the Internet: Where to Do Muslims Get Their Information?” answers questions such as: Where can one get information about the Muslim faith? Is the Koran the only source of information about Islam or are there other sources? Where can one find information that is not mentioned directly in the Koran? The lecture is supplemented by providing students with hands-on opportunities to work with various Islamic texts, including the Koran and the Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet Mohammed].
Students wanting to participate in the lectures but lacking previous knowledge of Islam are advised to attend a 15-minute introductory course that “represents the characteristics of Islam and advocates it in the context of Christianity and Judaism.” The lectures are “suitable for children from about the age of 15, although it is possible to customize the program for younger pupils.”
A statement on the group’s website justifies the project this way:
The Muslim community in the Czech Republic is small, but it raises strong emotions. Issues relating to Muslims or Islam appear almost daily in television news, newspapers and Internet debates. But the topic is discussed only marginally in regular school lessons. This condition leads to acceptance and subsequent consolidation of prejudices and stereotypes that are supported by latent Islamophobia. We would like this project to contribute to improving the situation. We provide information about Islam that is factually accurate. Students will also have the opportunity to meet with Muslims and get to know them before forming an opinion of them.
We would laugh at the idea that Islam is dead keen on factual accuracy, if we were not depressed over this whole enterprise, and the degree of pusillanimity among Western governments that it so maddeningly illustrates.
One of the co-founders of the project, a Czech-Palestinian named Sadi Shanaah, was quoted by the Prague Post as saying, “School lessons do not pay sufficient attention to Islam. Pupils want to learn more about it.”
Czech school-children are clamoring to learn about Islam? A lie that is instantly contradicted by the group itself:
But the group recently ran an advertisement promising to pay 250 Czech korunas ($13 dollars) to any student aged 15 to 18 years who would agree to attend a two-hour presentation about Islam.
The ad — which indicates that the American embassy in Prague was financing the April 2 event — states:
Event will take place at a school in New Butovice (7 minutes’ walk from the metro station). You get a brief introduction to Islam through which you can learn more about the veiling of Muslim women, media coverage and Muslims in the Czech Republic. Then you will have the opportunity to meet with Amirah, a Malaysian Muslim who is studying medicine in Prague, and to ask her everything you want about Islam or Muslim life in the Czech Republic.
… Most Muslims in the Czech Republic are immigrants from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria and Turkey. But a study produced for the Czech Interior Ministry in 2007 … found … a large number of Czech converts to Islam. It is estimated that at least 2,000 Czechs have converted to Islam since the end of Communist rule in 1989.
They got to like being oppressed? Couldn’t bear being unyoked?
Many are women who have married Muslims, but just as many are young males who are “looking to Islam in their search for spirituality,” according to Radio Free Europe. …
As the Muslim population grows, so do tensions with the population at large.
In November 2013, two Muslim women threatened to file an anti-discrimination lawsuit against a nursing school in Prague after they were asked to remove their hijab head covering in class.
“The principal summoned me and told me: ‘If you want to be in the school, you must not wear the scarf.’ I said this was against my religion as I am a Muslim,” Nasra, one of the women, told Czech Television.
The school defended itself, saying that although Czech law does not regulate the wearing of headgear, the school’s dress code bans the practice. The school also said the women, one from Somalia aged 23, and another from Afghanistan aged 25, disagreed with the compulsory physical education and the conditions of compulsory practice.
More recently, Muslims in the Czech Republic have tried to ban a book about Islam they say is Islamophobic.
The book, Islam and Islamism, was written by Lukas Lhot’an, a former Muslim who is now an apostate from Islam. Released in 2011, the book describes how some Muslims are abusing the ideology of multiculturalism to infiltrate Czech schools.
Lhot’an … says Muslim institutions in the country are now headed by Islamists who dominate the entire Islamic community. He accuses Muslim extremists of giving lectures aimed at recruiting converts and new jihad fighters, and alleges that Czech mosques are being controlled by Saudi Arabia.
The Islamic Center of Prague has filed a ten-page criminal complaint against Lhot’an, accusing him of promoting hatred, while the head of the Muslim community in Brno, Muneeb Hassan Alrawi has this to say about Lhot’an: “He is a hyperactive idiot, but also an unhappy man. He makes his living from doing harm. The police investigation will only provide publicity to him. He desires nothing but this.”
But others say the objective of the criminal complaint is obvious: Its aim to prevent Lhot’an from disseminating his view of Islam. … [His] book describes extremist tendencies inside the Czech Muslim community and tries to highlight their contempt for democracy and women’s rights and their justification of suicide bombers.
And the Obama administration, through the State Department, is providing them with your money to help them.
It is commonly said of Communism (as also, incidentally, of Christianity): “You can’t say it hasn’t worked because it has never really been tried.” The idea is that only rogues and sadists have led Communist revolutions and ruled Communist countries, but if that really nice Communist that everyone knows in private life were to implement his ideas, then – voila! – Utopia.
Sometimes one of the Communist faithful will speak of Alexander Dubcek as an example of a man who could have headed a Communist government that would have made Czechoslovakia happy if he had not been stopped by the wrongly-led USSR.
Question: Can any collective, any serfdom, ever make for human happiness?
Our answer: No.
Vladimir Tismaneanu, professor of politics at the University of Maryland gives his answer to the question in an article at Front Page. Here it is, almost in full:
In August 1968, the Warsaw Pact tanks and half a million-strong military killed the Prague Spring. It was not simply the end of a daring political experiment, but also a gigantic defeat for the dreams of reconciling communism and democracy. Marxist revisionism, the utopian endeavor to rediscover the presumably forgotten thesaurus of left-wing radicalism, suffered a terrible blow. In the words of a Polish dissident, “We then realized that there was no socialism with a human face, but only totalitarianism with broken teeth.”
Even Jean-Paul Sartre, the philosopher who in the 1950s had been silent (to put it mildly) about the Gulag, lambasted the invasion as “the socialism which came in from the cold.” It was the Leninist communism of barbed wire, fear, suspicion and lies. Stalin, as famous East European dissidents showed, was Lenin’s most faithful heir. He was also the most successful disciple. Post-Stalin Soviet leaders refused to allow for genuine democratization, remained faithful to the original one-party autocracy.
A joke of those times captured this continuity: “What are Brezhnev eyebrows? Stalin’s mustache at a higher level.”
The leader of the Prague Spring was Alexander Dubcek, a Moscow-trained communist apparatchik with reformist propensities. Elected Communist Party leader in January 1968, he launched an ambitious renewal program. In a few months, many Stalinist institutions lost their power. Censorship was disbanded, intellectuals were excited, civil society returned. Warsaw Pact leaders, headed by the sclerotic Leonid Brezhnev, panicked. Romania’s Nicolae Ceausescu supported Dubcek not because of solidarity with the attempt to humanize socialism, but rather as a way to challenge Soviet imperialist claims.
Adopted in April 1968, the “Action Program” of the Czechoslovak communists pledged to put an end to repressive policies and engage the party in a genuine dialogue with the citizens. One its main authors, Zdenek Mlynar, had studied law in Moscow in the early 1950s. He shared a dormitory room with a young Soviet student, an arduous Komsomol militant named Mikhail Gorbachev. They became close friends. Years later, Gorbachev would resume the Prague Spring agenda hoping against hope that democratic communism could somehow be accomplished.
In June, writer Ludvik Vaculik issued a document that entered history as “The Two Thousand Words” manifesto. The Soviets and their allies went ballistic. The Manifesto was an unmitigated, outspoken, unambiguous call for political pluralism. Millions supported it expecting a multi-party system to emerge soon. As events unfolded in breathtaking speed, the neo-Stalinists East European despots acted pre-emptively and crushed the Prague Spring. Dubcek and his comrades were arrested, transported to Moscow and forced to sign a humiliating capitulation. A few months later, Dubcek was expelled from the communist party.
A new freeze followed under the name “normalization.” It was the normalcy of jails, denunciations, terror. … Opposition activists were harassed, besmirched, jailed. They acted heroically in spite of the most unpropitious circumstances. Among them, critical intellectuals like Vaclav Havel who argued in favor of the power of the powerless.
Then in March 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in Moscow. In his belief that communism included such a humanistic dimension and his insistence that Stalin had been a vicious traitor to the original Marxist and Leninist messages, Gorbachev was part of a long tradition within the communist chapels. Students of Marxism refer to the attempt to turn such beliefs into policy as revisionism.
Of course, Gorbachev was not the first celebrated revisionist. Before him, attempts had been made by others to reconcile socialism with democracy and to jettison the repressive features of the system as distortions of an intrinsically healthy order. Consider Imre Nagy*, Hungary’s premier during the 1956 revolution, executed in 1958, and then Alexander Dubcek. Both Nagy and Dubcek failed because Soviet intervention crushed their experiments and dashed hopes of renovating socialism from within. But when Gorbachev came to power in March 1985 and announced his program of renewal, there was no foreign force to threaten the great shaker in the Kremlin. The seeds of the negation of the old order were planted in the empire’s innermost sanctum.
What have been the main illusions of Nagy, Dubcek, Gorbachev and other revisionists?
First, that the Communist Party, as the initiator of reforms, should preserve a central role during their implementation.
Second, that there was a middle way between the conservation of Stalinist structures and their complete disbandment.
Third, that a compromise of sorts could be reached with the exponents of the old regime.
And fourth, that the population at large was ready to enthusiastically espouse the revisionist program and endorse the new leaders in the frantic search for modernization. The revisionists naively believed in their popular mandate.
But this logic was basically flawed. The system could not tolerate structural changes and secreted antibodies. In the case of the Soviet Union, instead of foreign intervention, Gorbachev was faced with the morose inertia of the bureaucratic colossus. His exhortations increasingly fell on deaf ears, as economic performance failed to improve. The work ethos was plagued by apathy and indifference.
Were Dubcek and Gorbachev true believers? In a sense yes, because only a true believer would have engaged in such destructive action while hoping that there was enough loyalty to the system among its subjects to keep the regime alive.
The crushing of the Prague Spring was justified as defense of socialist internationalism. In fact, Marxist internationalism was nothing but hollow, ludicrous rhetoric, a facade for Soviet imperialism, ethical dereliction, civic paralysis, and bureaucratic domination. …
It demonstrated a truth that East Europeans had been long familiar with: There is no communism with a human face.
*We have doubts that Imre Nagy would have tried very hard to “reconcile socialism with democracy and to jettison the repressive features of the system as distortions of an intrinsically healthy order”, but every other point in the Professor’s expert demolition of the starry-eyed argument for a kinder gentler Communism supports our own convictions.