The EU is a much prettier version of tyranny than rough Russia.
One might say it is the feminine version. It dresses nicely. It has its hair styled. It paints its nails. It smiles. It thinks it is alluring. It spends more than it has.
It is easy to understand why half the Ukrainians want to live with it. With her. Rather than with unshaven, violent, shabby, ill-mannered Daddy Russia.
Her corruption is prettily packaged. Her despotism has a gentle touch. It really is more pleasant to live with her than with him.
But it would be better for the Ukrainians if they just took off on their own.
Bruce Bawer offers that very advice. He writes at Front Page:
It’s in Europe, and it’s huge – after Russia and the top five EU members, it has Europe’s largest population, and twice as many inhabitants as all the Scandiavian countries put together – but Ukraine isn’t a nation we often think of in the West, except when, as in recent days, it’s in the midst of a crisis. It has spent most of its history being conquered and brutalized by its more powerful neighbors, and in the last century underwent one savage chapter after another: 1.5 million people died in the civil war that ended with its absorption into the USSR; millions more died in Stalin’s deliberately engineered famine in 1932-33; during World War II, Hitler slaughtered an additional three million in what was intended to be the first stage of a program of exterminating two-thirds of the country’s population and enslaving the rest.
Today, unsurprisingly, Ukraine is a basket case of a country, riddled with corruption and living in the shadows of its historic horrors. It’s also a linguistically and philosophically divided land, torn between a western chunk whose people speak Ukrainian and identify with Europe and an eastern chunk whose people speak Russian and still feel an attachment to their massive neighbor to the east.
Viktor Yahukovych, the corrupt, autocratic president who disappeared last weekend in the face of mounting public unrest, is a Russiophile whose fatal error was his decision to strengthen bonds with Moscow (which coveted Ukraine as a key ally in a new Eurasian Union) and to turn down a free-trade agreement with the EU; most of the rioters who sent him packing are Europe-oriented types, the majority of whom are eager to see Ukraine become a Western-style democracy free of Putin’s influence, but some of whom, it should be noted, are neo-Nazis who look westward to Germany for the least attractive of reasons.
Most of the Ukrainians who favor European ties also want to see their country join the EU – which, in their eyes, as one Swedish newspaper put it the other day, is “above all…a symbol of a society free of corruption”. Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister who was sprung from prison on Saturday after Yahukovych took it on the lam – and whose own years in office (ending in 2010) were far from corruption-free – told the Kiev crowds shortly after her release that she’s “sure that Ukraine will be a member of the European Union in the near future and this will change everything”.
Change everything! What is it that makes presumably liberty-loving Eastern European politicians talk about the EU as if it were a magic freedom elixir, a miracle cure for former victims of tyranny?
I suppose part of the explanation is that these politicians travel to the great cities of Western Europe and take in the relative freedom, the relative prosperity, and the relative lack of corruption and thuggery, and assume that all this has something to do with the EU. And part of it, naturally, is the ceaseless stream of pro-EU propaganda poured out by the Western European media and, not least, by the Western European politicians whom the likes of Tymoshenko consort with when they visit the West.
Yet how odd that the superstate’s economic woes haven’t put a dent in the magic for people like Tymoshenko. How odd that even the merest glimpse of the way things work in Brussels – where corruption is, needless to say, very much alive and well, even though it doubtless falls far short of Ukrainian levels – doesn’t give them pause. And how odd that when they witness the arrogance that’s characteristic of virtually all Brussels bigwigs – their habit of responding to any reasonable criticism of the EU not with cogent arguments but with vicious ad hominem attacks – they don’t immediately recognize that they’re observing tyrants in the making, the sort of folks that you’d think they’d had more than enough of over the centuries, thank you very much.
Take European Council president Herman van Rompuy, that colorless, Politburo-style mediocrity, who in a 2011 speech blithely ignored the essentially undemocratic nature of the EU, describing it – outrageously – as “the fatherland, or the motherland of democracy”.
Or take European Commission president José Manuel Durrão Barroso, who started his political career as a Maoist, and who in 2012 argued that the EU’s democracy deficit isn’t a bug but a feature: “Governments are not always right. If governments were always right we would not have the situation that we have today. Decisions taken by the most democratic institutions in the world are very often wrong.”
What he says is not untrue (even democratically-elected governments are almost always wrong), but he is making an argument for despotism.
Or take halfwit EU Foreign Affairs honcho Catherine Ashton, whose 2011 Guardian article lecturing Hosni Mubarak on the need for democracy in Egypt was widely (and rightly) ridiculed as the work of someone who, as Brendan O’Neill neatly put it in the Telegraph,
… has never once bothered the ballot box, never once ventured into the rowdy arena of public opinion to win the masses’ backing, and who was elevated to her current position as the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs through backroom wheeling and dealing.
Noting Ashton’s enthusiasm, in her Guardian piece, for what she called “deep democracy”, O’Neill explained that “she doesn’t mean deep as in profound – she means bureaucracy, the grey and unaccountable sphere that she haunts, the removed realm of experts and unelected high representatives” – a phenomenon Ashton contrasted (favorably, of course) with mere “surface democracy”, the undesirable, old-fashioned sort of system in which elected officials actually seek (horrors!) to honor their constituents’ wishes.
Even a cursory look at the careers and pronouncements of these unelected demigods, these self-regarding technocratic hacks, is to recognize them as people who itch to rule an empire and who are, quite simply, outraged at anyone who dares to stand in their way for a moment. Given the transparency of their lust for monolithic power – a power, moreover, utterly liberated from any notion whatsoever of responsibility to an electorate – it’s baffling that so many observers can actually take the EU seriously as a formula for European peace rather than for European autocracy.
What Europe has in Barroso, Ashton, & co., after all, is a pack of men and women who have done their level best to impoverish real political debate, to blunt its impact, and to make it seem obsolescent, counterproductive, and in every way undesirable.
Former Czech president and staunch EU critic Václav Klaus asked in his 2011 book Europe: The Shattering of Illusions:
Do we have real politics in Europe today – the political conflict of opinions – or have real politics been in fact eliminated by reducing the weight and importance of the nation states and by the self-confessed apolitical ways of Brussels?
Which is another way of saying that Brussels isn’t a city of politicians who have different political philosophies and who come together to debate ideas and hammer out compromises; it’s a city of technocrats who share an ideology and who work together as a team to translate that ideology into policy – never mind what the rabble think. (Or, as Klaus put it even more bluntly: “the European Union is no longer the symbol of democracy it pretends to be.”)
Klaus has coined the term “Europeism”. It’s a useful word, because it places the unreflecting, reality-defying enthusiasm for Europe in the category it belongs to, along with other, earlier European-isms. Among much else, Europeism views the free market as uncivilized and anarchic, places collective rights above individual rights, and strives, as Klaus excellently puts it, “for a homogenized, ‘decaffeinated’ world (with no flavour, aroma, and smell)”.
Europeists, he writes,
… do not believe in spontaneous, unregulated and uncontrolled human activity. They trust the chosen ones (not the elected ones), they trust themselves or those who are chosen by themselves. They believe in a vertically structured and hierarchized human society … They want to mastermind, plan, regulate, administer the others, because some (they themselves) do know and others do not. They do not want to rely on spontaneity of human behavior and on the outcomes resulting from this spontaneity because they think that rationalistic human design is always better than an unplanned result of interactions between free citizens, constructed and commanded by nobody. Even though we thought that after the collapse of communism all this was a matter of the past, it is not so. It is around us again. Europeism is a new utopism and, I add, it is an extremely naive and romantic utopism.
Above all, writes Klaus, Europeism “is based on the idea that states, more precisely the nation states, represent the Evil – because they were once the cause of wars among other things – while the supranational, continental and global entities represent the Good, because they – according to eurocrats – eliminate all forms of nationalist bickering once and for all”. This understanding of things, he adds, “is obviously childish, yet it is generally accepted in Europe”. Yes, it’s accepted because millions of today’s Europeans have been brainwashed into thinking that national feeling – patriotism – was the root of all of the worst things that happened to the continent in the twentieth century. No, ideology was the root – ideology in the form of Nazism, fascism, and Communism. And Europeism – which, by the way, has multiculturalism and fanatical environmentalism built into it – is the twenty-first-century heir of those wretched systems of thought.
Which brings us back to the latest developments in Ukraine. Tymoshenko’s speech on Saturday night was followed on Sunday by the news that the EU – notwithstanding its own massive financial difficulties – is now ready to hand over bushels of cash to the newly Europe-friendly government in Kiev. …
Note to Ukrainians: accepting the EU’s money is one thing. Go for it. But why this longing, on the part of Tymoshenko or anyone else in your country, to board the Superstate Express? Set aside, if you wish, the economic downside of the whole project, the looming disaster that is the eurozone, and just ask yourselves this: after spending most of your history taking orders from far-off imperial capitals, most of the twentieth century living under the nightmare of Communism, and most of the greater part of the generation that followed under the gravitational pull of post-Soviet Kremlin despotism, why be so desperate to subordinate yourselves to yet another set of haughty, high-handed foreign rulers? Why slip away from being under one thumb only to voluntarily place yourself under another?
Ukraine, here’s one simple piece of unsolicited advice: vote for sovereignty. Vote for freedom. Take the money and run.
Stay out of the EU.
The method of terrorism will continue to be used by Muslim jihadis (and others) because it works.
The West, out of cowardice, stupidity, sentimentality, and apathy, has allowed it to work.
How? The BBC provides an example :
The MailOnline reports that the director-general of the BBC, Mark Thompson, defends the notorious pro-Islam bias of his publicly-funded institution on the grounds that if it wasn’t obedient to Muslim demands it would be subjected to terrorist violence.
Mr Thompson said: ‘Without question, “I complain in the strongest possible terms”, is different from, “I complain in the strongest possible terms and I am loading my AK47 as I write”. This definitely raises the stakes.’
He said the BBC would never air a satirical show about Muhammad because for Muslims it could have the same impact as a piece of ‘grotesque child pornography’.
Mr Thompson said the fatwa against Salman Rushdie over his novel The Satanic Verses, the September 11 terror attacks, and the murder in Holland in 2004 of film-maker Theo van Gogh, who had criticised Islam, had made broadcasters realise that religious controversies could lead to murder or serious criminal acts.
That is, if the “religious controversies” concern Islam. Only Islam, the terrorist religion.
Commenting on this, Bruce Bawer writes:
When the most powerful media organization in the U.K. is run by someone whose readiness to admit his utter lack of courage would seem, from all the evidence, to reflect the fact that the concept of courage isn’t even on his radar, it doesn’t bode well for the future of British freedom.
British freedom? Ah yes, we remember it well.
Another point that was important to Thompson was that, as he put it, “for a Muslim, a depiction…of the Prophet Mohammed might have the emotional force of a piece of grotesque child pornography.” He added that “secularists” fail “to understand…what blasphemy feels like to someone who is a realist in their religious belief.” I would humbly submit that Thompson himself fails to understand something rather important – namely, that when the head of an outfit like the BBC starts thinking and talking in such terms, he has become nothing more or less than a sharia puppet.
Another thing Thompson apparently fails to understand is this: when it becomes the duty of citizens in a secular democracy to edit what they say or write in order to avoid committing what the adherents of some religion or other might consider blasphemy, then secular democracy, individual liberty, and freedom of expression are, in practice, no more. I wonder if it has occurred to Thompson at all that for more than a few freedom-loving people in his own country and elsewhere, the fact that a man in his position could follow such an outrageously pusillanimous policy might well, to coin a phrase, “have the emotional force of a piece of grotesque child pornography”?
He cites an instance of how the BBC pr0-Islam bias routinely manifests itself:
The Beeb’s Stacey Dooley is visiting her hometown, Luton, to discover if the situation with extreme Islam is really as bad there as some people say. Upon arriving in town, she stumbles upon a Muslim march whose participants are chanting “To hell with the U.K.” and carrying signs calling for sharia law. There are plenty of women in niqab, one of whom tells Dooley to put on some clothes. For a while you think that Dooley is actually going to wake up and smell the coffee. But in the end, ignoring everything she’s witnessed, the little ditz closes with the standard, canned, de rigueur, mainstream-media conclusion – namely, that both sides need to listen to each other with respect, for the only reason for all this intercultural friction is “ignorance.”
Given the deliberate, depressing refusal of so many members of the British media to face up to the advent of sharia in the land of Magna Carta and Winston Churchill, it was at least a bit cheering the other day to see Brendan O’Neill, in the Telegraph, spelling out the dramatic, and telling, difference between the way in which the framers of the U.S. Constitution understood the concept of rights and the way today’s European leaders think about the same subject.
While the makers of the American revolution “emphasized individuals’ capacity to make judgments…free from state interference,” explained O’Neill, Europe today is plagued by a “paternalistic” notion of human rights “in which the individual is treated as an at-risk creature who must be protected from harm and bullying by…human-rights lawyers.” While the U.S. Bill of Rights concisely sets limits on state power, the European Convention on Human Rights “spends thousands of words telling the state what it should be doing…and how it must go about protecting individuals from abuse and mental distress.” And while the U.S. Bill of Rights makes it clear that free speech is sacrosanct, the European document is awash in weasel words, saying that “freedom of expression” is “subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety,” and on and on.
Which is, of course, simply a very long and legalistic way of saying that in Europe today, even (alas) in Britain, freedom of speech is severely endangered – just as Mark Thompson (whether he realizes it or not) has essentially admitted, and … as the BBC’s own Stacey Dooley, despite having seen reality close-up in her hometown of Luton, still refuses to grasp.
But in Obama’s America freedom of speech is severely endangered in the same way for the same reason. It’s good that a Telegraph journalist has pointed out the difference in theory between the way the American revolutionaries and the US Bill of Rights “emphasized individuals’ capacity to make judgments free from state interference,” and the European “paternalistic notion of human rights in which the individual is treated as an at-risk creature who must be protected from harm and bullying by human-rights lawyers … in the interests of public safety”; but the Obama administration does not feel bound by the US Bill of Rights, and is trying pertinaciously to follow the European model.
The more chilling difference between the European cringe in the face of the Islamic threat and the Obama submission to it, is that Obama and his henchmen are not motivated by fear. Despite the Islamic act of destruction on 9/11, and the exposure of many a jihadi plot in the US since then, it is not Muslim violence that has them eager to submit to Islam, but their own sympathy with it.