While the Western world is increasingly post-Christian and cosmopolitan, its Eastern sibling is trapped in a post-ideological bubble: strikingly entrenched and enveloped in its neo-religionism. No wonder: Eastern European communities on all their levels are using failed models of leadership. Too many institutions are still mired in a narrative of past victimization, and too many have no any mechanism for producing new leaders to serve true national interests.
Currently, percentage of Eastern Europeans obtaining the foreign diplomas – most notably those from the universities in Atlantic-Central Europe – that are afterwards admitted to the higher echelons of their national socio-economic, cultural and politico-military policy-making is higher than even in sub-Saharan Africa (e.g. in the LDC, situated around Chad or Victoria lakes or Horn of Africa). Their quantities and configurations reveal us that the ‘elites’ in Eastern and Russophone Europe are among the most unauthentic, least indigenous or less patriotically connected with its electorate – probably a cleavage larger than anywhere else in the world.
That explains in detail why over the last two decades, the policies and their protagonists in that region are so little responsive to a public opinion.
Any research, which is not a pre-paid or guided by remote control, is usually quickly denounced. E.g. debate about alarming de-industrialisation and brain-drain is simply a no-go. Any independent thinking must be condemned as a ‘radical nationalism’. As if the emancipative democracy should be a lame talk-shop, not a pursuit of happiness’ road-map.
Finally, East is sharply aged and depopulated –the worst of its kind ever– which in return will make any future prospect of a full and decisive generational interval simply impossible.
Is the Honduras-ization of Eastern Europe, in additional to refeudalization, now taking place? This term refers to an operationalization of XIX century Monroe Doctrine in Latin America, by which Washington ever since allowed its strategic neighborhood to choose their own domestic political and economic systems to an acceptable degree, while the US maintained its final (hemispheric) say over their external orientation. The so-called Brezhnev doctrine (of irreversibility of communist gains) postulated the Soviet (Suslov-Stalin) equivalent to Honduras-ization – Finlandization. Hence, it is safe to say that the Honduras-ization of Eastern Europe nowadays is full and complete.
Thus, if the post-WWII Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe was overt and brutal, this one is subtle but subversive and deeply corrosive?
The key (nonintentional) consequence of the post WWII Soviet occupation was that the Eastern European states –as a sort of their tacit, firm but low-tempered rebellion – preserved their sense of nationhood. However, they had essential means at disposal to do so: the right to work was highly illuminated in and protected by the national constitutions, so were other socio-economic rights such as the right to culture, language, arts and similar segments of collective nation’s memory. Today’s East, deprived and deceived, silently witnesses the progressive metastasis of its national tissue.
Eastern Europe, the (under-)world of dramatic aging which, is additionally demographically knocked down by the massive generational and brain drain. Passed the dismantling of the communist order, these emerging economies, countries in transition of the new Europe contain reactionary forces (often glorifying the wrong side of history), predatory ‘elites’ and masses of disillusioned (in a life without respect and dignity, humiliated and ridiculed in the triviality of their lasting decline).
Even if the new jobs are created or old kept, they are in fact smoke screens: Mostly a (foreign-loans financed) state-sponsored poverty programs where armies of the underemployed and misemployed cry out miserable wages in dead-end jobs. Clero-nationalism and ethno-chauvinism is therapeutically offered as a replacement for a reasonable life-prospect.
Former Slovakian cabinet minister laments in private: “Our ‘liberated East’ lives on foreign loans, or in the best case as the industrial suburbia of Western Europe, having these few ‘generously’ franchised factories like Renault, VW or Hugo Boss. Actually, those are just automotive assembly lines and tailor shops – something formally done only in the III World countries. Apart from the Russian Energia-Soyuz (space-program related) delivery system, what else do we have domestically created anywhere from Bratislava to Pacific? Is there any indigenous high-end technical product of past decades known? ... Our EU accession deals are worse than all Capitulation agreements combined that the Ottomans and Imperial China have ever signed in their history.”
His former Polish counterpart is even more forthcoming: “Unexperienced and naïve as it was in 1990s, Eastern Europe – in shock of sudden geopolitical change – foolishly embraced shock therapy in lieu of a badly needed economic program… We failed to understand that this destabilizing doctrine was simply a continuation of the Milton Friedman’s experiment, which brought about one of the most notorious dictatorships, of Pinochet in Chile, and then discharged its plague elsewhere in Latin America, Middle East and Yeltsin’s obedient Russia. We missed to make a comparative analysis and spot that this doctrine always follows the same pattern in three stages: (i) the first impact of primary destruction; (ii) ‘economic’ shock measures; (iii) their brutal enforcement, along with an absence of any democratic debate… Implications are practically irreversible reengineering that stretches far beyond our macroeconomic fabrics. Consequences are socio-political, cultural, moral and demographic, therefore existential…”
Ergo, euphemisms such as countries in transition or new Europe cannot hide a disconsolate fact that Eastern Europe has been treated for 25 years as defeated belligerent, as spoils of war which the West won in its war against communist Russia.
It concludes that (self-)fragmented, deindustrialized and re-feudalized, rapidly aged rarified and depopulated, (and de-Slavicized) Eastern Europe is probably the least influential region of the world – one of the very few underachievers. Obediently submissive and therefore, rigid in dynamic environment of the promising 21st century, Eastern Europeans are among last remaining passive downloaders and slow-receivers on the otherwise blossoming stage of the world’s creativity, politics and economy.
Persistent pauperization of the East is nothing else but a lasting victimization of core sectors of the continent. That, in return, inevitable leads to an accelerated (wealth, demographic and generational) redistribution and hence a re-feudalization of the whole of Europe. Once the black hole is formed, no star in proximity will ever prevail.
Anis H. Bajrektarevic
Vienna, 13 JUN 2017
Author is chairperson and professor in international law and global political studies, Vienna, Austria. He authored three books: FB – Geopolitics of Technology (published by the New York’s Addleton Academic Publishers); Geopolitics – Europe 100 years later (DB, Europe), and the just released Geopolitics – Energy – Technology by the German publisher LAP. No Asian century is his forthcoming book, scheduled for later this year.