The former West European communists of the fifties and sixties are posing as socialists these days and are largely in charge of the EU. The former communist parties of Eastern Europe changed their names and now pose as socialists. Together they act as comrades in arms and appear prone to build another ‘utopian Marxist society.’ What the Soviet Union did not achieve through sheer brutality is being achieved now with kid gloves by the new authorities in Brussels. As of now no East European country has decided to leave the EU, but the seeds of discontent have been sown.
By Nicholas Dima | March 19, 2016
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
For more than forty years the Eastern Europeans lived under Soviet repression. During those years they dreamt of becoming free to rejoin the rest of Europe. At long last, communism collapsed, the Soviet Union imploded, and the Eastern countries regained their independence. Yet, the same countries now question Western European and especially EU policies. Why is Eastern Europe turning against the European Union?
The change in attitude toward the West has been caused by the unrealistic expectations of the Eastern countries and by the cynical attitude of the West. Politically, the West accepted the new Eastern governments although they were still under the control of the former communists. This recognition led to duplicity and hypocrisy in both regions – Eastern and Western Europe.
Economically, the West demanded the privatization of state enterprises, but the process triggered chaos and huge unemployment. Morally, the West imposed human rights as a substitute for religion and new and questionable norms of conduct. The ensuing process of globalization also undermined the newly gained independence of the Eastern European countries and threatened the very existence of their nationhood.
The reaction to the EU policies has been slow, but steady and mostly negative. While the West abandoned religion and traditions, Russia returned to old values and began to exploit the dissatisfaction of the East. Most Eastern Europeans reject Russia’s new advances, but they are increasingly displeased with the West. And the recent refugee crisis and the decision to impose refugee quotas for each EU country have made some leaders take a strong stand against Brussels. In fact, the European Union is now challenged both in the East and in the West and from both sides of the political spectrum — the right and the left.
Great Britain, for example, may opt out of the union. The refugee crisis has only added fuel to the long simmering fire. The upcoming June referendum will be at least a wake-up call, if not the beginning of a painful break-up. Greece on the other hand is in a double bind — a financial crisis coupled with a flood of refugees.
Although Greece is led by a leftist government, it is deeply displeased with the EU policies. At the right of the political spectrum, the recent terrorist attacks in France and Belgium have given a boost to the right-wing movements in Western Europe. These movements also question Brussels’ policies. Something is rotten with the EU and many people are up in arms. The former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky actually wrote that the EU’s bureaucracy works as the former Politburo of the USSR. And, he sounded an alarm regarding the future of individual EU countries.
Opposition to the EU in Eastern Europe is currently strong in Hungary and Poland, but it is also boiling in Romania and elsewhere. Poland was the first to oppose the idea of accepting refugee quotas. However, it was Hungary that denounced the EU. Prime Minister Viktor Orban compared the EU with the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Soviet Union saying that those two empires were sick and destined to dismember. On March 15, Orban delivered an anniversary speech in Budapest reaffirming Hungary’s national identity and blaming the EU for the current crisis. In a way, he spoke for the entire region and his long list of woes reflects many common worries in Eastern Europe.
Orban emphatically declared (his speech is available on YouTube):
“Today in Europe it is forbidden to speak the truth; to say that those arriving people are not refugees; to say that tens of millions are ready to set out in our direction; to say that this immigration brings crime and terror; to point out that masses arriving from other civilizations endanger our way of life, our culture, and our Christian traditions; to say that Brussels is now stealthily devouring our national sovereignty… Today enemies of freedom are cut from a different cloth than those who ran the Soviet system; they use a different set of tools to force us into submission…” Orban expressed all his country’s worries, but ended on a hopeful note saying, “the task which awaits the Hungarian people, the nations of Central Europe and the other European nations which have not yet lost all common sense is to defeat, rewrite and transform the fate intended for us.”
Each Eastern European country has its own problems, and the closer they are to Russia, the more threatened they feel. Given its geopolitical location near Russia, Romania does not dare to officially criticize the EU. However, its intellectual leaders are increasingly critical of Brussels. Gabriel Liiceanu, for example, a leading philosopher, is accusing the EU of a “lack of leadership and determination”. According to the Romanian media, he wrote “it is regrettable that beyond a few ridiculous and ritualistic statements, Europe was unable to come up with any plan to address the current refugee crisis.’ And further he stressed that ‘many of the current refugees are incapable of respecting Europe’s values while Europe’s leaders are incapable of saving Europe.”
Another leading Romanian personality, Ana Blandiana, a renowned poet and human rights activist, compares the current European crisis with the end of the Roman Empire…“What is going on presently in Europe is beyond any logic,” she stated recently at Cluj-Napoca University. And she continued… “We are in the middle of a clash of civilizations and Europe has lost its faith and has denied its Christian roots….” Then she stressed the traditional importance of the nation and of family values and criticized the ‘politically correct trend’ imposed by the EU. She said that Brussels is trying to impose ‘new kind of families which are unable to produce children.” Obviously she referred to LGBTs, but in the new political climate she did not dare mention them by name. And, as reported by the Romanian media, at the end of her speech she compared the EU with “a pod of whales swimming toward an unknown shore only to commit suicide…”
There are many people in Eastern Europe unhappy with the EU’s policies. They complain of a host of issues from stressful consequences of globalization to negative effects of micro-management. They fear a new form of European socialism that could be in the end as poisonous as the old Soviet brand. And many people are revolted against their own governments for accepting centralized policies contrary to the interests and aspirations of their own nations.
It is shocking and it is sad. The former West European communists of the fifties and sixties are posing as socialists these days and are largely in charge of the EU. The former communist parties of Eastern Europe changed their names and now pose as socialists. Together they act as comrades in arms and appear prone to build another ‘utopian Marxist society.’ What the Soviet Union did not achieve through sheer brutality is being achieved now with kid gloves by the new authorities in Brussels. As of now no East European country has decided to leave the EU, but the seeds of discontent have been sown. Will the EU change its policies and stick together, or will Brussels stick to its gun and risk breaking up the union?
Nicholas Dima, Ph.D, is a former professor and author of numerous books and articles including the autobiographical memoir, Journey to Freedom, a description of the effects of communist dictatorship on a nation, a family and an individual. He currently lectures and is a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.