First of three articles
By Radu Toma
When money keeps silent, the liberal democracy is gasping: The EU in East Europe and the Black Sea region after the fall of communism
„We have a society in which money is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people, and that concentration of income and wealth threatens to make us a democracy in name only. (Paul Krugman, ‘The New York Times’, 3 November 2011)
I considered that an essential topic in the economy of my last book on the Black Sea geopolitics should be the presence and commitment of the European Union in the East, after Europe’s return to its geographical and historical borders. And that is because, in the last two decades, the EU’s official documents, but also those of the North Atlantic military alliance, the annual summits or occasional meetings, insisted that the two main institutions of the Euro-Atlantic region must work together, in a symbiotic coordination, to optimize their efforts and missionary endeavours in this part of the continent including the Black Sea.
But the official rhetoric was one thing, and the reality another.
The current state of affairs: Kiev and Tbilisi in an agonising stand-by at the Euro-Atlantic door and, in reverse, an apparently incapable West to decisively ‘settle’ in those two places, has probably a deeper explanation than Russia’s opposition. It is an explanation revealed to us by the cohabitation and, especially, the contradictory, rather negative experience gained over the last 30 years by Eastern Europe with the institutions, ideologies and economic doctrines of the West, an experience to which the aspiring Black Sea riparian states, Ukraine and Georgia should absolutely resort to (1). In order to support this opinion, we will elicit and comment on essential fact from the last three decades’ existence of the Eastern Europeans returned to capitalism.
On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, but not long after the collapse of communism, in the general enthusiasm of those historical moments, the first signs of the invisible face of capitalism returning to East appeared, a far less attractive one. From the very beginning, a coherent program, quickly brought from the West, to restore Eastern Europe after 45 years of faulty Marxist-Leninist economic and financial management, did not exist. Also, a second Marshall Plan did not come to life and US’ East European policies went in other directions. The hope from 30 years ago was not fulfilled. It was impossible as, at the time of the communism fall and the USSR’s collapse, the US’ treasury was empty. 10 years after 1980, from the world’s first crediting nation, US has become a debtor, former Reagan President heavily indebted the nation, with $ 2.6 Trillion. USA was not able to generate a new Marshall Plan. With soldiers scattered all over the world and neoconservatives breathing down his neck, Bill Clinton barely managed to find $ 4.5 Billion for his friend, Boris Yeltsin, a drop in an ocean, just .4% of what Europe received between 1947 and 1951, his offer being 40 cents for each Russian. After 1990, USA’s economic and financial assistance was minimal, the EU’s insufficient, Eastern Europeans, from the Baltic sea to the Black sea had to fend for themselves.
Also, after 1990, the Baltic states, for example, embraced with the greatest enthusiasm liberal democracy, market radicalism and macroeconomic stability, and left behind the industry reform and population protection, the latter remaining defenceless in the face of world economic pressures. Millions came out to vote, to enjoy the benefits of parliamentary democracy. But, as it is often said, ever since then, they vote with their feet, not with their heads or hands, meaning that they leave, emigrate. They leave their countries, where a social and economic inequality has been established, unknown in the past, with many close to poverty and even beyond it. In recent years, a strong Euroscepticism has emerged from it, a free public debate about the bureaucratic structure in Brussels, which is huge, expensive, dysfunctional, alienated from the common man, and ignoring the economic and cultural particularities of the three Baltic States. Equally, dissatisfactions of all kinds have accumulated everywhere, from Poland to the south of the East, in Bulgaria.
Times not too far away, detested by all, of an authoritarian leadership from an outside centre, over the head, will, and interests of the nation, have insistently returned into the collective memory of Eastern Europe.
Estonia has had a formidable market promotion, as an ‘inexpungable fortress’ of the economic neoliberalism. It became a favourite example for the austerity supporters, for those wanting the quickest implementation of the euro and the exit at all costs from the post-2007-08 crisis and recession (2). That meant ‘recovery’ by any means and at any cost. Its price, however, was paid by the younger generation, pensioners and unemployed people, compelled to bear the austerity and the purely political decision to adopt in 2011 the Euro currency, while the recession effects were still visible at every turn. The income differences between the majority of the population and a small group of people became massive, and the emigration for working in other countries transformed into an exodus. And, it is said that, the subsequent recession exit was neither due to the euro adoption nor to the austerity but to the geographic luck that Tallinn is right around the corner from Helsinki. Every day, hundreds of ferries carry the bulk of the 133,000 Estonians who went abroad (12% of the population) to Finland, and are employed in construction, services, IT, various communications and electronics industries, etc. (3)
Estonia, since the day it was free from Communism and the Soviets’ presence, has always faced a very high unemployment (4), reaching a considerable 20% percentage of the country’s workforce. But Estonia’s paradox, whose economy is ranked in the West as the healthiest of Europe, is that Tallinn, its capital, has become the ‘European drug capital’, with 123 deaths in 2011, all young people, in a country with a population of only 1.3 million, as reported by the American weekly ‘TIME’ (5).
After 12 years as Estonia’s representative at the European Court in Brussels, since October 2016, Mrs. Kersti Kaljulaid is the President of the country. An ardent supporter of EU’s unity, she regrets Brexit and hopes that Macron, the one belonging to a few Frenchmen and refused by 72% of them, will be able to repair the ‘damage’ caused by London (6). Prudent when discussing protectionist measures in the world trade of US President Donald Trump, Kaljulaid is a top product of anti-Trump and anti-Russian neo-liberalism, lost in pro-EU, pro-NATO, pro-globalism rhetoric. Otherwise, nothing of substance about her own country, about the outstanding inequality in the income there, nothing about the chronic national mega unemployment; nothing about the most recent mass Euroscepticism, nothing about the necessity of recovering the national labour market and containing the emigration haemorrhage; nothing about the appreciable opportunities offered further on by the neighbouring, large ex-Soviet market, etc. Just a presidential approach cobbled together from pieces of neo-liberal economic doctrine, historical grudges and myopic strategies of a carried away leader, from a small country seated next to a geographical, political, economic, nuclear colossus, etc. It is another declaration of vassalage towards the West, copy-paste from the Romanian model 2004-2019, of the sell-outs Băsescu and Iohannis.
The bruxellocrat Kaljulaid has set the goal of her mandate: to create the world’s first ‘digital society’ in Estonia. A society, therefore, where all: mass emigration, endemic unemployment, indecent income inequality, poverty unknown in the past, Euroskepticism, anti-Trumpism, anti-Putinism, Rusophobia in general, lethal drug consumption, etc. everything, absolutely everything, is to be digitized …
Complimented by the World Bank as being ‘a friendly business environment’, Latvia was presented as a neoliberal success story, a ‘model’. But, according to Western economists, in fact it was an experiment that should not be followed by anyone. The economic collapse of this country after the financial collapse of 2008 was unparalleled throughout the East (7). Emigration has gotten out of control, a percentage of 14% of the population has left the country since 2004, since entering the EU. In the last seven years 78,692 people have emigrated solely from Riga, according to the data communicated by the central statistical office of the country (8). ‘People are getting less, the problems are getting less’, the corrupt governors whisper, ‘we vote not with our hands, but with our feet’, say the Latvians who started on the road towards other places, and the outflow plus the reduced number of births, according to demographers and universities, are equivalent with a kind of demographic euthanasia, possibly leading to the extinction of the nation. And indeed, statistics show that, from 2.66 million in 1990, Latvia’s population has dropped dramatically, by almost 30%, to 1.9 million on November 10, 2018, and is forecasted for 2050 to be 1.6 million, a decrease of 40% of the population reserve since 1990 (9).
Far from being a ‘model’ and a success story, the neo-liberalism brought by the EU to Latvia has proved to be a calamity.
The economic and financial austerity, when joining the Euro-Atlantic structures, proposed by Brussels to the aspirants from the Black Sea, Ukraine and Georgia, was accompanied, for the 1990s Latvia, by the industrial dissolution and transformation of that country from a functional past reality, into a socio-economic experiment with unknown future finality. Having left the former Soviet Union without debt, with a substantial, but ‘nobody’s’, estate capital, i.e. the old socialist state property left unattended in ‘the middle of the street’ and ripe to be plundered, with a very educated population, Latvia was privatized by its former politicians and by foreign capital. The ‘real-estate bubble’ imported from America in 2006-2008 has enriched western banks and has thrown the customers bankrupted by the system in the street. INET, George Soros’s NGO, was deeply involved in what remained of the public domain. Latvian kleptocracy was and remains fully loyal to the neoliberal economic power, the forced austerity did not offer any magical solution and remained another sad ‘triumph’ of globalization in Eastern Europe.
How did the new political beneficiaries in Latvia succeed in convincing the people to vote for neoliberalism? By scaring them. Fooling them that the alternative would be to return to Stalinism, to deportations to Siberia. That the Russian invasion is possible at any moment, that, and read well, ‘Putin and the Jews will come and steal everything.’ This is what Latvian anti-Semites and nationalists kept close by… a Jew named George Soros (?!) his people and his ‘open’societies in Latvia have said, as everywhere else where the deceit worked, in Estonia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, or elsewhere (10).
Nearly a decade after independence, the economic ‘meltdown’ has generated unprecedented historical cases of spontaneous local hunger strikes in Latvia. It became clear that the austerity enforced from abroad also brought decline in that country.
Latvia recorded one of the most serious economic crises in the world in 2007-08. Equally, it was accompanied by a demographic one, and the euro introduction was the main pretext for tightening the belt further. The ‘friendly economic reforms’ coming from the West created a new model of kleptocracy – locals and foreigners closely united in the secrecy of plundering, at night, together. In the Chile’s ‘Chicago Boys’ from the late 1980s style, the experts from Georgetown, a Washington district, who arrived in Latvia, did the same: they demolished social security and industries, and leased the government to local associates. The new pagan deities, with prayer and sacrifices altars and statues in all the corners of the country (ATM machines), were corporate capitalism, the free market economy and liberal democracy. Fallen into the hands of banks, of foreign capital and kleptocracy, real estate, taxed softly for its owners, was put up for sale to the public at exorbitant prices, much higher than the market value – see Romania 2007-2009. On the other hand, the remaining labour and industries were drastically taxed, sometimes by 59%. It was, say Latvians and foreigners, an out of control economic experiment, worse than a foreign military invasion. When they spoke of Latvia, neo-liberals called the austerity and emigration ‘stability’, even economic growth and recovery, as long as people did not complain, or did not actively claimed an alternative.
Meanwhile, Latvia’s political life has been and continues to be dominated by oligarchs, corruption, influence trafficking, control on the democratic institutions, of the press, etc. Russia, through the ethnic party Harmony of Latvian Russians, which is strong in Parliament, business, society, media, culture and, especially, in foreign relations, permanently remains an alternative to governance, an alternative to pro-EU, pro-NATO, pro-West political groups in general.
Will the biggest danger come to Latvia from Russia? In Riga, but also in Washington, realistic experts suspect someone else. They say that corruption has reached, in that country, levels which remove it from the legal and economic fields and make it a national security issue. While nationalist politicians accuse the Latvian Russians of being a 5th Column of Moscow, shocking testimonies have been published in Riga, that the real danger is the oligarchs, those who, pursuing personal gain, are hijacking the democracy and weaken the state institutions. Many fear that Russia could destabilize Latvia using the Russian media to stir up the Russian population in Latvia, considerable in number (11), but the evidence suggests that the local, greedy without measure elites would be ready at any moment to demolish the Latvian state (12).
Since the 1990’s independence, Lithuania has undergone major post-communist transformations and a number of transitions in different fields. The former Soviet republic became a democratic and liberal state, the former socialist state became a member of NATO and the European Union, with a market-economy etc.
And, contrary to all expectations, also since 1990 up to now, from a stable country, with a former functional economy, a reasonable gross domestic product, with the problems of real-estate, social and medical assistance solved, with a decent urban standard of living, but also rural, it became a country of exile, of massive emigration, with an inert population, disinterested in the EU, NATO, parties and politicians and living, not a few, on the edge of poverty, and with a political class present daily in courts, for corruption.
The political pluses mentioned at the beginning imposed dramatic costs.
In recent years, net migration from Lithuania has been the highest in the whole European Union, surpassing even those from Romania and Poland (13) and, due to the extensive emigration among youth people, this country records the fastest population aging rate throughout Europe. It is understood that these demographic movements continue to have drastic consequences for the labour market, social security system and, ultimately, economic development. Austerity has generated a continuous demographic crisis, forecasts show that, from 3.69 million in 1990, the country’s population will decrease to 2.82 million in 2030, a percentage decrease of 24%. The long-term recovery seems to be compromised, despite the optimistic rhetoric of politicians about improving macroeconomic performance. For example, villages lost more than 50% of the inhabitants, departures transformed into a true depopulation, the Lithuanian rural area became a declining world, a world of the elderly, with an economic level stuck in the poverty range (14).
Population’s mobility free of any control, so highly glorified by the European Project, in reality generated a dangerous instability, on the eastern, Lithuanian periphery of Europe. Today, Lithuania is supported by the forced import of euro currency and the export of its emigrants. The large emigration determined the government to look for solutions on maintaining the population in the country. On December 1, 2018 a long-term national plan, mainly targeting the youth, was adopted for the 2018-2030 period. Subsidies, free tuition, flexible work schedules, substantial tax exemptions for future pensions are provided, yada yada. But there is a general skepticism about these programs. Experts and the public opinion say they are cumbersome, bureaucratic, resembling past failed experiences, that they are ‘a package of documents born already dead,’ drawn up by a gang of bureaucrats on the payroll of politicians, said a future candidate in the 2019 presidential election (15).
Under these conditions, in Lithuania the former crisis of the planned economy from the time of socialism has transformed into a current crisis of the unplanned, free market economy from the time of capitalism (16). Despite serious economic performance, labour productivity is only two-thirds from the average of West-European’s, due to professional qualification and lower quality of work. Wage inequality, very high social contributions and strict labour market regulations mean that about 17% of the population lives in relative poverty, with an income below 50% of the average, women, young people and the elderly being particularly affected (17). After years of decline, the illegal trade in alcohol and cigarettes is growing again, as revealed by a study by the Lithuanian Free Market Institute in Vilnius. In 2017 the underground economy took over a high percentage, 24%, of the national market for alcoholic beverages and tobacco (18). Despite numerous incentives, foreign investors are reluctant, and as a consequence the national labour market ‘froze’, public opinion polls show that many Lithuanians are disappointed by the social and psychological climate in the country (19).
In a few words, the previous difficulties and failures, caused by the mega extension of the EU in 2004 in 10 countries and by the accession itself, have now been replaced in Lithuania by the social failures brought about by neoliberal austerity.
In May 2009, the former EU Commissioner for Budget and Finance, Dalia Grybauskaite, was elected President of Lithuania. The elections provoked a wave of criticism regarding the country’s political life, and the opinion that outstanding leaders are missing got emphasized. In that 2009, the public confidence in the government was the lowest of all the previous 20 years, the parties taken together managed to gather a ridiculous percentage of members, of only 2.8% of the total population, and the presidential election turnout was the lowest in the whole EU. With a bruxellocratic president, similar to Estonia, it is easy to understand that Lithuania has also unconditionally followed EU policies, including economic ones. As a result, the crisis control plans in this country have also resulted in increased taxes and duties, drastic reductions in public spending and social benefits, as well as a decrease in the number of state employees. Unlike Tallinn, however, Vilnius has made a slightly more pronounced change in foreign economic policy and taken a more pragmatic approach towards some eastern neighbours, Belarus and others, and to some extent Russia (20). Grybauskaite, as suits to a zealous brussellocrat, is not one of Donald Trump’s fans either (21).
In the last year, the Grybauskaite administration has made obvious efforts to integrate Lithuania into the free market democracy model and Western value system promoted by the EU institutions. However, the local political intrigues and manoeuvres and the long-winded reforms have had unfavourable consequences on the political management. The apathy and the public’s removal from the political processes deepened, as did the citizens’ participation in civil-administrative affairs. The crisis and recession accentuated these negative trends, the national budget has diminished. The deficit of the public sector has increased, ‘consolidated’, similarly to the unemployment. Lithuania’s austerity policy successes, proclaimed by local neoliberal politicians and economists and EU ones, are strongly challenged by its social and economic consequences, such as the on growing national debt, emigration, lack of work, negative demographic change, strong income inequality in the urban area, social exclusion and poverty especially in the rural area what little there is still left of it, the deterioration of the health system, the misery and the perpetual financial crisis of ordinary people. Moreover, Lithuania is probably the best spot to see from in all East, how the permanently installed policy of austerity contravenes the very fundamental principle of ‘social Europe’ obsessively trumpeted by Brussels, but also contravenes the representative democracy, which places first the role of state as the guarantor of citizens’ welfare.
In Lithuania, 2017 was preceded by a year of political turmoil, all parties showed signs of instability which, Western analysts believe, could influence the country’s democratic governance (22). Its political stability faces a very high ballot absenteeism, and a pronounced apathy regarding the population involvement in any kind of actions, social, or administrative, and all these around the triple elections of 2019, presidential, local and for the Europe Parliament. On the other hand, however, the same numb Lithuanian society strongly rejected the guarantee of legal rights for minority sexual groups. A new law, adopted in 2017, clearly defines the family as a union between a man and a woman, Western LGBTs have been disappointed and anxious about this ‘discrimination’ which surprisingly emerged in the docile Lithuania…
Despite the economic growth recorded by the Bank of Lithuania at 3.3% in 2017, the issue of socio-economic inequality has become extremely serious. The income gap in this country is one of the largest in the EU, 20% of its rich people earn five times more than 20% of its poor. Also, in the following year, corruption continued to take ‘the lion’s share’, involved top politicians from four of the six parties represented in Parliament, and public institutions managers. 48% of the population believes that this is the most pressing problem in the country.
Following the 2008 financial collapse, Lithuania’s governors assumed that they found the solution to remove all the hardships of crisis, austerity, unemployment and mass emigration. Under the slogan ‘It is not only a job, but also a vocation’ displayed in Vilnius and on all roads, they introduced the compulsory military service and went on to militarize the country (23), in fact a manoeuvre to keep the working population loyal, in the absence of any real material incentives. Of course, it was said that the Lithuanian citizen was made into a soldier to defend Lithuania against ‘the other’. An ‘other’ – guess who? – the one that in the last 28 years no longer appeared. But, this manoeuvre to divert public attention had an unexpected result, tens of thousands of Lithuanians went out into the streets, first in Kaunas on May 14, 2010, under the anti-slogan ‘We will not serve’ neither the neoliberal state, nor the Army and neither the business owners.
In Lithuania, as in other parts of the East, the hegemony of a West delegitimized by its own excessive export of liberal democracy and economic neoliberalism, of corporate capitalism, survives.
In Poland, the ‘shock therapy’, of economic restructuring, after the communist era was terrible and useless, its father, the American economist Jeffrey Sachs admits it now. Youth unemployment reached 50%, over two million Poles left the country permanently, and those who believed in the neoliberal myth, especially small entrepreneurs, found themselves competed by transnationals and big corporations, lost everything and were re-proletarialised under the name of precariats, meaning those with a precarious existence. Social status, social protection and social solidarity were shattered, people became selfish, in 2014 the mothers of children with disabilities, who protested in front of Parliament, were labelled as ‘hysterical broads’, aiming to live on the back of others, on a Tv-station on the payroll of multinationals. But, from 2015 until now, Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his party Law and Justice (PiS) have raised the minimum wage and substantially increased the children allowance – adult poverty has decreased by 20-40% and that of minors by 70-90 % – they reduced the retirement age by seven years, granted government loans for the purchase of housing and, by doing so, were labelled by the opposition and media in the neoliberal service not as a populist leader and party, but … a Nazi one! (24) In recent years, when Brussels raised its voice, snapped, threatened sanctions and took out the ‘nuclear weapon’, meaning threatened to cancel the right to vote in the European Commission and cease EU funding to Poland, Warsaw announced that they will continue to go on their path. Will maintain the reform of Justice, will strengthen the control over foreign companies, will take over more than 50% of the banks, will further improve the social state; will bring democratic direction changes in media and propaganda, will reconfigure diplomacy and external relations, in one word will continue to say a categorical NO to neoliberalism and the hegemonic market imposed by the West. In Kaczynski’s Poland the rejection of EU quotas of Islamic immigrants took on epic proportions, millions of people took to the streets and organized the ‘Patriots’ Marches’ against the Brussels elites and called for the defence of Christianity, with slogans such as ‘For God, Honour and Country, ‘Here our King is Jesus Christ, out with Muslim immigrants’ etc. On May 26, 2017, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo announced that Warsaw had not signed an agreement on mandatory immigrant quotas and, in a brave speech in the country’s Parliament, said: ‘Poland cannot and will not accept Muslim refugees. Poland will not give in to blackmail from the European Union’.
The political opponents of Law and Justice and its leader have no long ago expressed their hope that in the coming years the EU will lose its patience and will act energetically in the case of Warsaw. But, at that questionable moment in the future, with the Polish nation on its side, the nationalists and those hundreds of thousands who came out on the streets, or those millions at national marches and demonstrations, it could be the other way around. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, his party and Poland may no longer need the EU.
2015 was the glory year for the Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland. In May, its candidate Andrej Duda won the presidential election; in the October elections he obtained the parliamentary majority in both chambers and appointed the prime minister, and thus, its leader gathered ‘under one sceptre’ the presidency, government and parliament. The winner took everything, and the unanimous opinion in the country and in the world is that, since then, Jaroslaw Kaczynski is the most powerful man in his country and an influential leader in the European Union. Bruxellocrat, neoliberal and senior official of a German-direction EU, the de-polonised Polish, connected to western channels of fake news (25), Donald Tusk speaks treacherously of the dangers for Poland’s independence represented by the ‘dictatorship’ of Kaczynski, of course ‘reached’ in the hands of Putin’s Kremlin.
Poland’s de facto leader has become, along with President Donald Trump, a symbol of populist threats to the Western model of democracy. After two years of government, Kaczynski managed to change national policies and set in motion the two desiderata for which he got the population’s endorsement: social transformations – child and family protection, the containment of poverty, free healthcare for the elderly, reduction of the retirement age , reduction of taxes and duties for those with low incomes etc. – and the refusal to receive EU quotas from outside Europe migrants.
PiS committed itself to a process of ‘de-Europeanisation’, to give the Poles a stronger sense of national sovereignty and to reject the socio-cultural model imposed by Western Europe. The efforts made by Kacszynski’s Poland to distance itself from the EU are ideologically and economically motivated, this country believes that its values and identity are threatened by the Union, believes that the goal of becoming one of the six major economic players in Europe is being foiled by the excessive competition from Western countries. For fulfilling these two desiderata, Warsaw moved away from Berlin, its traditional partner in recent decades, and approached Britain and the neighbouring states of the Visegrad group, as a counterpart to Germany. PiS reproaches Germany that it was the source of the extra-European refugee crisis and that is trying to impose its multiculturalism policy on other Europeans. Western politicians also estimate that PiS has turned 180 degrees from EU in terms of security and Defence, that it opted for a partnership with the US and NATO and abandoned the project of a common European defence. The single currency, euro, refusal, the anti-immigration position and the internal social policies, to which the vital issue of common defence is added are the essential motivations for Poland’s removal from the EU. The list also includes something that in the West already received the false name of ‘the assault on democracy in Poland’, that is, on the pluralist media, the independent judiciary, the public administration free of political interference, against a civil society outside political and governmental control.
The state of affairs in Poland clearly shows that, once entering the EU, an East European country, whatever it is, must forget everything, from the poverty of its own children to the security and national Defence, and to follow docilely only the dogmas and coercions of an European Union increasingly abstract, tyrannical and detached from the pluralistic reality of 500 million Europeans. They must unconditionally accept the dogmas and imperatives imposed by a West where free market democracy – an aberrant impossible jumble of political, moralizing ideas, and market economic norms – is the unique ideology, without any nuances and circumstances objectively imposed by history or geography, and where everything else is labelled ‘like Hitler and Stalin,’ putinism, etc. A West where nationalism, traditionalism, economic patriotism, banks removed from foreign discretionary control and recharged with domestic capital, and the populism in Poland, or other eastern countries, are considered fascism (26), ‘the darkest hours of Europe’ (27), or xenophobia and ‘returning to former Soviet policies’ (28). This inquisitorial West, mccarthyst (29), embarked on the path of the last human invention in the field of totalitarianism, we propose to baptize now and here as free market totalitarianism.
In the meantime, what do the ordinary Polish and people worldwide sympathising with them say? Here are some opinions of readers in Poland, and some Westerners, in articles or comments on the state of Poland, collected from the Internet:
‘Alexandre – Those who are desperate due to the lack of arguments call everyone fascists;
Andzrej K. – Fear arises when you see in Western Europe the hysteria campaign of the media and NGOs against Poland. You simply cannot identify Poland in the apocalyptic picture painted by the German and Anglo-Saxon media, this media’s fantasies do not correspond to reality. See the comments full of lies and exaggerations from CNN and Washington Post;
Irishpol – It is amazing how the Western media likes to discredit Poland;
@CB – In fact, Poland is today a country with the greatest freedom of speech, media, demonstrations, etc. from the EU. You can talk freely, you can demonstrate for whatever you want and for as long as you want, and people take advantage of this. You have all kinds of manifestations, left, right and centre, for and against any cause;
Croc – The European Union dislikes Polish patriotism but has nothing to object to patriotism in Western countries. Also, it never criticizes the United States for being overly patriotic, though there you see the American flag on every street corner and in every movie. As a Polish, I would say that only now we began to learn from the West what patriotism is. Only now, after living in the West for many years, I see how the English, Dutch, French and Germans love their countries, are proud of their traditions, their way of life, but from what I read here, it seems that we Poles are not allowed to do the same. Probably because Poles’ traditions are connected with Catholicism, of which the EU wants to get rid of, to replace it with secular ‘traditions’, such as Halloween, Oktoberfest, parades of equality, black Friday and other nonsense;
@edel -It must be said that Poland has every right to be proud of its history, as it has never committed such brutal crimes and on such a large scale, so many atrocities, such as the Western imperialist nations, such as the British Empire, France, Dutch or Spanish empires, Portugal, Germany. The whole history of Western countries is full of bloodshed, violence, extreme damage, destruction and extermination. And, what are the values of Western democracies today? Is it better? The present-day Western civilization is marked by a savage capitalism, ruthless and on plundering, by the desire to obtain immediate profits, by a large-scale corruption, lobbyism, a false and hypocritical democracy, a propagandistic media, the subjugation of other continents and by geostrategic wars;
Sylvester Fiet – Greetings from Poland, an island of freedom! Defend yourself from neo-Marxism, it’s a monstrous system;
Citizen – The Polish patriots are called fascists. The march of the 50 000 people with Polish flags is used by the political competition against Poland. Calling the Poles Fascist and anti-Semitic means xenophobia, these accusations are completely false:
Veritas-Semper – Give just one name, someone from Poland who, in the last two years, since PiS was elected with a parliamentary majority, was imprisoned for their political opinions, or for their associations? No doubt PiS is doing the right thing since, after two years in power, is gaining even more supporters. And the self-titled ‘total opposition’ has never been so low, at only 20% in polls;
Rafael – I think it should be clear to all of us Eastern Europeans that the West has never considered or treated our part of the world as an equal. Western Europe has always seen Eastern Europe as a market expansion, as a place where production is cheap and where is possible to completely dominate people, people who they considered being inferior, good to be mocked and despised. So, let’s not get lost in the details when talking about Poland and Hungary. There we are talking about a huge and dramatic change, a change in all, in diplomacy and external relations. Poland no longer accepts to play according to the instructions and rules established by the West.
The European Union, but mostly France and Germany, fear they will lose control over Eastern Europe. They also know that the Visegrad group should not be underestimated. Eastern forces opposing EU have the potential to create an avalanche and make things look very ugly for Brussels. And we all know too well that the EU is not in its best shape right now and is causing headaches for the entire continent. And for this very reason, there is a lot of pressure on the ‘rebel countries’, Poland, Hungary and whoever else.
And now a final argument. It was not the Eastern European countries that were desperate to join the EU. The West has been eager to take over Eastern Europe as a huge market for their products and as a place where production can be made at lower costs, considering the advantages offered by cheap labour. The Poles were very distrustful before joining the EU, I am talking about 2004. Huge amounts of money were spent on media and advertising campaigns, to convince Polish society that accession will mean a bright future for Poland. The Poles were afraid to enter this countries bloc, thinking of all sorts of disadvantages, such as the considerable increase in prices, which actually happened, and the taking over of their business and the exploitation of the country by corporations and foreign capital, which, again, happened.
In Poland, from 1990 until today, so for more than a quarter of a century, the discontent generated by the post-communist transition, which became popular anger – at first it was the ‘shock therapy’ and the drastic austerity prescribed in the West, then the harsh conditions of integration and Europeanization and, in the end, the so-called perpetual globalist financial crisis – have brought and strongly support a conservative, nationalist, populist, traditionalist and reformist party. It has been proven in that country that economic neoliberalism and free market democracy do not work in Eastern Europe. Undoubtedly, it would not work either in the case of Ukraine, or Georgia, both riparian to the Black Sea, but unaffiliated to the West. Both are nationalist, traditionalist, heavily addicted to their historical misfortunes, orthodox, eager for social and populist reforms. What lunatic would believe, or what lying politician would be able to say, that another 50 million East Europeans with such a ‘business card’ could one day be accepted and then able to find peace and fulfilment in the EU and NATO? (to be continued)