When Umberto Bossi, the leader of Italy’s Northern League now “Minister of devolution” in the newly-installed government of Silvio Berlusconi described the European Union (EU) as “the Soviet Union of the West,” Europe’s elites went ballistic: Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel spluttered that Bossi and some of Berlusconi’s other coalition partners “spout values which have no place in the new Europe.” Ah, but what values do have a place in it? EU bigwig Goran Persson (of Sweden) gave an indication at a “dialogue” held between the EU leadership and the “anti-globalization” protesters and assorted leftists protesting the EU meeting in Gothenburg, Sweden. The meeting was staged in order to defuse another protest like the ones that have dogged similar meetings, or at least prevent this one from turning violent. With three protesters seriously wounded by gunshots one almost killed, and still, as of this writing, in critical condition this effort would seem to have been a resounding failure; in any case, it wasn’t as if Persson didn’t try to speak to the assembled Commies in their own language. Reuters describes his part of the “dialogue” as follows:
“While Bush was talking in Brussels, Persson was quoting communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin to environmental and anti-globalization protesters and urging them not to disrupt the meetings in Gothenburg because of anger at Bush’s policies. . . . ‘It’s (EU) one of the few institutions we can develop as a balance to US world domination,’ Persson told protest leaders at a so-called confrontation dialogue.’ Addressing their worries that the 15-member EU is serving international business rather than the needs of ordinary people, Persson said the European Union should also be developed to help balance the power of ‘world capital.’ ‘I’m not a fanatical supporter of the EU. I never have been. But that’s what we have got and we have to make use of,’ he said.”
LENIN, YES HITLER, NO
Not that his effort at a rhetorical rapprochement got him anywhere, for the report goes on to say that “despite quoting Lenin several times in keeping with the left-wing tone of the dialogue, Persson and three other ministers were met with jeers and foot-stamping rather than any sense of comradeship.” Naturally, they were jeering Persson, not Lenin. What is shocking is that the Prime Minister of any Western European country would dare to cite as an authority such a monster as V. I. Lenin a man who founded a movement responsible for the murder of millions. The Soviet state murdered more than Hitler’s Holocaust, and yet its founder is hailed as a patriot of European unionism without a peep of protest from anyone. Can you imagine the outcry if, instead, Persson had cited a fascist or Nazi ideologue in support of the European idea? (One could come up with quite a few, as readers of John Laughland’s The Tainted Source have discovered.) The outcry, however, was not over the Lenin quotes, but over the apparent rift this revealed in US-EU relations.
KHRUSHCHEV’S OTHER SHOE
This rift is naturally not news to regular readers of this column, where we have been keeping tabs on the growth and evolution of the Euro-monster for quite some time now, but there are a couple of new developments. What’s really interesting is that Persson’s appeal to the reflexive anti-Americanism of the far Left was ideological as well as tactical : he was not merely asking them to support the EU as the only possible counterweight to US hegemony, but also to join with the Eurocrats in an assault on the bastion of “world capital.” It was just like old times again! Reading this sort of thing is like going back in a time machine: it could have been said by Brezhnev, Andropov, Khrushchev, or any number of past Soviet leaders, even stern old Uncle Joe himself. While this time they confined themselves to strictly verbal histrionics, perhaps at some future US-EU summit the Eurocrats will start pounding the table with their shoes as a signal of their extreme displeasure.
TWO YOUNG COMMIES
The two most radical European politicians when it comes to economic and political integration are French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and Joschka Fischer, German Foreign Minister both of whom have recently been exposed a youthful Commies. Jospin was a member of the International Communist Party (OCI), a rather stodgy Trotskyist organization that even today holds high the banner of the phantom “Fourth International.” Confronted with evidence that he might indeed be a Trotskyist “mole,” Jospin deflected the question and instead said he was proud of his red past:
“It is true that in the1960s I took an interest in Trotskyist ideas, and I established relations with one of the groups of this political movement. It was a personal, intellectual and political journey of which I am not in the least ashamed. . . . In the very different world that was the 1960s, two elements were essential in my political development anti-colonialism and anti-Stalinism.”
I won’t bore you with a mini-lecture on the history of French Trotskyism (instead, see A. Belden Fields’ Trotskyism and Maoism: Theory and Practice in France and the United States), except to say that infiltration was and is a favorite tactic of the French Trotskyists, and indeed a secret faction had long been embedded in the French Socialist Party. I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if Jospin is one of the fabled “Pabloists,” who found a fertile recruiting ground among the hothouse flowers of French Trotskyist intellectuals, of which the young Jospin was one. The OCI was formed as a result of the French Trotskyist rebellion against the infiltration tactics of the international Trotskyist high command, with General Secretary Michel Pablo ordering all the national sections of the Fourth International to infiltrate the Communist parties. If we take Jospin’s description of his “journey” as a journey away from upfront orthodox Trotskyism toward Pablosim, which sought to import Trotskyist ideology into the political mainstream via the mass Socialist and Communist parties, then it makes perfect sense that France has become the most visible and militant champion of European political union. “For a socialist United States of Europe” is a Trotskyist slogan from waaaay back, and it is bizarre to see what I always thought of as the most abstract and unrealistic intellectual construction of the exotic far Left now close to becoming a reality.
A COMMON “IDEALISM”
But the aggressive attitude of the French toward European integration is matched by the Germans, whose Foreign Minister made a sensational speech in which he called for an elected European President and the construction of a federal political system. Fischer, too, was involved with far Left groupings, and has since “matured” into a “Green” of the watermelon variety green on the outside, but bright red on the inside. Photos of him and his fellow leftie thugs beating the sh*t out of a policeman cropped up recently, and he has admitted his past “errors,” which are attributed to “youthful idealism.” In this common “idealism,” then, shared by Fischer, Jospin, and their fellow commies of the “New” Left, we can see the vision of Euro-socialism as having originated, in large part, from the failure of Soviet-style Communism to attract the majority of youthful socialists and self-conscious Marxists during the turmoil of the 1960s. The radicals, at that time, didn’t join the pro-Soviet Communist parties, but instead affiliated with independent groups: New Left movements like Students for a Democratic Society (in the US), and dissident Communist groups like the Trotskyists or the Maoists. So by the time the Soviet bloc nations rose up in rebellion, and the Soviet Union collapsed, these leftists had already written off Stalinism as a mistake: instead of mourning, they applauded, and exulted that now they could wipe the slate clean and start all over. And in the EU they have made an auspicious beginning. . . .
A SPECTER IS HAUNTING EUROPE
The arrogance of the EU, its bureaucratism which rivals that of the old Soviet Union in its wastefulness and self-aggrandizement, its unwillingness to let its future subjects vote either for or against abandoning national sovereignty, its explicitly socialist ideology all conjure up the ghost of the Kremlin. This haunting feeling is exacerbated by the harsh diplomatic sanctions (and even harsher rhetoric) that targeted Austria when it elected a government not to Brussels’ liking. The Austrian Freedom Party was deemed to be too right-wing to be recognized as legitimate, and the international hate campaign against Joerg Haider, the Freedom party leader, was taken up by the Left on a European-wide scale, smearing him as a “Nazi.” (In reality, Haider, aside from his populist opposition to increased immigration, is nothing but Newt Gingrich in lederhosen.)
The same treatment was being readied for Bossi, and the same propaganda apparatus that demonized Haider warned the Italians that if they elected Berlusconi it would be to the “shame” of Europe. Italians ignored the implicit threats, and elected Berlusconi anyway. The Eurocrats’ reaction has so far been merely rhetorical, at least for the moment, but the rapid political integration of the EU, as eagerly anticipated and pushed by the French and the Germans, may not rule out some action in the future. Like the old Soviet Union in its heyday, the EU takes action against member states who dare to defy the party line: and if the EU gets its much-touted “Rapid Reaction Force,” might it not rapidly react against a future Haider? Oh, but these “European patriots” wouldn’t bomb one of their own cities, now would they? But just look what they did to Belgrade, and Novi Sad, two of the oldest cities in Europe. They would, they could, and they will if they aren’t stopped.
ATTACK ON FREE SPEECH
The EU, as the economist and author Bernard Connolly put it, "is a threat not only to our prosperity, but also to our liberties and, ultimately, to our peace.” For writing those words, by the way, Connolly, an economist and a former EU employee, was sacked from his job. The EU defended its speech-stifling policies in court on the grounds that Connolly, in publishing his critique of the EU, The Rotten Heart of Europe, had committed the secular equivalent of blasphemy, or seditious libel, and therefore his book did not fall into the category of protected speech. The EU’s top court attacked the book as “aggressive, derogatory, and insulting,” and ruled that the EU commission could restrict dissent in order to “protect the rights of others” and punish individuals who “damaged the institution’s image and reputation.” The implications for those not in the EU’s employ are clear, and ominous. . . .
LETTER TO A READER
My last jeremiad against the evolution of the European super-state was greeted with jeers by at least one letter writer, who berated me for “selling out” to “US imperialism” in not welcoming the Euro-monster on the world stage and I have the sinking feeling that not a few of my readers, particularly some on the Left, agree with this dangerous and entirely wrongheaded sentiment. Is it really necessary to point out to advocates of a more peaceful world that the growth of a new, aspiring superpower is nothing to celebrate? Yet another superpower with imperial pretensions, with its own military force and its own visions of global “hegemony,” is bad news for anti-interventionists and opponents of imperialism the world over. For this means that the danger of war is even greater, that the arms race will accelerate, and that the militarization of the world including the world economy will proceed apace, in spite of the alleged end of the cold war.
The added danger is that this super-state is explicitly committed to socialism, and is already exhibiting an ominous tendency to silence its political opponents. Germany currently outlaws all parties alleged by a special department of the German federal government to be “extreme rightist” or "neo-Nazi." France has "hate speech" laws with clear and ominous political implications. To be a neo-Communist, though, is fine and dandy: far from jailing you, they may even make you Foreign Minister (or, in the case of France, Prime Minister).
GO, BOSSI, GO!
Umberto Bossi is right: the EU is indeed the Soviet Union of the West. The “anti-Stalinist” leftists of Western Europe slipped into power just as their old Stalinist rivals were losing their grip in the East. The great irony here is that the socialist West, under the aegis of the “European idea,” is moving in on the former Soviet bloc nations, as the EU (and NATO) expand eastward to the Russian border so that socialism will be restored in Eastern Europe under the guise of “European integration.” And the Left is flocking to the banner of Europeanism. “Ex-“Communist parties that once embraced the Marxism of Lenin and/or Trotsky now embrace the Marxism of Karl Kautsky and the old German Social Democracy, the ideological engine of European integration. Lenin, of course, denounced Kautsky as a traitor who had defected to the bourgeoisie, but it is the Leninists, after all, who lost out: the state they founded is dead, while the EU is yet to be born. The Euro-socialists may yet succeed where Lenin failed, and that appears to be what Persson was trying to explain to his fellow dialoguers.
The consolidation of a rival superpower, one that will challenge the US for the position of No. 1, ought to chill advocates of peace to their bones, no matter what their nationality or political ideology. For this heightens the possibility of war, and I’m not talking here about the small-scale localized conflicts of the post-cold war era, but a renewed cold war that could conceivably get white hot. It is true that a counterweight is needed against the overwhelming military, political, and economic dominance of the US government, but that balancing force is not a rival state, or any state, but the peoples of the world organizing, each in their own countries, against the twin evils of imperialism and globalism.
DEVOLUTION AND DEMILITARIZATION
As the great turn-of-the-19th-century liberal Randolph Bourne put it: “War is the health of the state.” War requires and thrives on the centralization of economic and political power; peace, on the other hand, requires the devolution of authority. Without firmly grasping the reins of power at home politically, economically, and in every other sense a nation cannot hope to build an empire abroad. Conversely, a strictly limited republican form of government cannot long coexist with an imperial foreign policy: one must naturally overthrow the other. It is for precisely this reason that we fight, here in this country, against a foreign policy of intervention on a global scale. Every country, like Italy, should have a “Minister of Devolution,” for in that case we would live in a much more peaceful world.
Another point needs to be made in this regard: The US is not the sole source of military aggression or globalism in the world. The emerging European super-state, although not yet jelled, is a potentially equal danger to peace. Nor should one rule out the consolidation of yet another challenge to the American “hyperpower,” this one centered in Eastasia, with China at its core. George Orwell‘s frightening scenario of a future in which three superpowers contend for world hegemony and the earth is consumed by perpetual war seems to have been remarkably prescient: his terrifying vision was presented in the form of a novel that made an enormous impression ever since it was first published in 1949. So much so that it led to the coining of a word, “Orwellian,” meaning a dystopia of unusual grimness and horror. If and when the Euro-monster is born, instead of being killed in its cradle by Europe’s remaining patriots, its first howl will be a war-cry. That’s the way all nation-states are born. If and when that dreadful birthday comes, we will be living in a truly Orwellian world.