Fading Myths

By her own choice, Europe is not the global power that, by her size and economic strength, she could be. At the same time, Europe resents the consequences of her chosen option while it rejects, on “moral grounds”, its alternative. To play a fitting role, Europe would have to create adequate instruments and would have to be prepared to use these to exercise due influence.

Measuring up to its potential would bring about two things. First, the local left would be provoked. It resent, as a matter of principle, the resort to violence – unless, the source is to the left of Stalin. The other predictable upshot is that some of the holy cows of the left-liberal clan would have to fear slaughter.

Europe’s contemporary liberalism churns on the axis of soothing myths that become, by proclamation, the dogma of proclaimed non-conformists. The resulting holy cows and their calves have a license not to be examined critically, and thus to avoid exposure. Overlooked inconsistencies are a benefit the elite extends to its members.

After the war, under American protection, a successful technology of governing emerged in Europe’s western zone. It benefited from the American umbrella and of the calm in the East-West storm’s center. Additionally, the economic recovery –the Marshall Plan primed the pump- produced several national “economic miracles”. All this created an illusion. Its gist: security, even in the context of a global struggle, is unconditional, permanent, and for free. In time, an adjunct of the legend unfolded. It projected the experience gathered in the protected gazebo, that Europe was automatically safe on the global scene even if the weather there is, well, rough.

To the generations that thrived in that sheltered micro-bubble, it appears that all conflicts can be settled by “negotiation”. Talks demand that, suspending reason, the other side be recognized as having a point regardless the demands raised. To bolster the recipe of appeasement with a formal agreement, “peace”, meaning to be spared briefly, is secured by transferring money. Just do not call it ransom, and ignore that, the moment’s “last” demand is never the final one.

It makes sense that the now discernibly limping conflict management practiced by Europe’s elites troubles the electorate. That is the mass, so the elite, that is politically illiterate, and so in need of “guidance” by the brainy. Mismanaged migration, the undefended borders and cultural identity, alert nations to being badly governed. Increasingly, that discovery about the fading myths finds an expression in public life. Concern brings about protest by new forces and ends in a challenge to the power monopoly of the governing class. Trump, the Brexit, Orbán in Hungary, elections in Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, even the AfD rebellion in docile Germany, are telling cases and are indicators of more to come.

The causes of Western Europe’s feebleness flow from an experience – the external protection during the Cold war- that is misinterpreted and unduly generalized. Label that as misunderstood history. Another cause of needless fragility is forgotten history. The last century’s vicissitudes can teach us something; the DNA of certain regimes (infallible leader, global mission) precludes meaningful negotiations because, their sine qua non for deals -meant to be violated- is a mere armistice to be followed by submission. Translate that as “war by diplomacy”.

Remember the once celebrated Chamberlain who presented the pre-war world with Hitler’s guarantee of “peace for our time”? The reoccurring inclination of democratic Western leaders and their political class is to assume, as did Roosevelt at Yalta, that if one sees no evil, there will be no evil. Such credulousness amounts to a recipe that harvests misfortune. Alas, the lessons are forgotten by the time the next chance to practice leadership by a “hands-up” arises. The current, reluctantly waged and denial spiced, “war on terror” confirms the charge.

An amplifier of this self-deceit is that misapplied liberalism and the web of myths behind multicultural illusions assume, that “they are as we are and do what we would do”. Besides this diminution of principal disparity, the elites that carry the virus depict capitulations as agreements, and overlooking that the aggressor does not mellow, as an evidence of wisdom that confirms statesmanship.

This is the juncture of a pseudo-reality where the anti-American reflex becomes operative. Acting in her own behalf, and as Europe’s protector, the US confronts utopias and aggressors. Threats are not only publicized, there is also action to meet them. When this happens, America is made responsible for having caused the peril about which she warns. “Creating tensions” is brought as a charge –leveled against the US and, increasingly, against several central European governments. These challenge faded liberal illusions by pointing out challenges and by acting against them to preserve their newly re-won independence.

An extreme case of the irrationality that amounts to accusing the blaring fire alarm for the fire is furnished by the North Korean crisis. Conveniently, the elites place Baby Kim and Trump on the same level to insinuate an equivalency. Doing so creates an excuse to play the unaffected, therefore inactive, sophisticated bystander.

Neutrality in risk-laden conflicts that ultimately involve the survival of distanced critics, has functioned in the past. America acted as the “defender of last resort”. She had leaders, a motive, and she did the “dirty work” in behalf of “cultured” censors that kept their paws clean while commenting the crude, muddied Yanks. Recent events indicate that the era of having the cake and eating it too, is ending. Washington is tiring of the role into which it let itself cast. At the same time, the ability to continue as the sole defender of the developed world is, with China and Russia rising, reaching its limits. Several countries have produced leaders that know this. Taken together, these factors suggest a coming realignment to cope with new conditions. Those that wish to eat at the table need to be told to share the heat in the kitchen.

Regardless of the efforts of the emerging central Europeans, what Europe will do next, depends on Germany, its traditional QB. The world wars have shown that Germany is not a superpower. No European country –not even “The Grand Nation”- can be one in an age when the technological gap narrows and the top league’s players have continental dimensions.  Even so, with France, Germany co-determines Europe’s fate by taking joint control of the continent’s affairs. The division of labor is that France contributes verbal moral legitimacy, while Germany provides the heavy lifting -the means of joint ventures. Germany’s internal development will determine the future of this arrangement.

As in other entities, in Germany, too, established ways wilt and become discredited. Carrying on is tied to Chancellor Merkel’s political survival. Rated as the world’s most powerful woman, her “merkelism” fades. If so, automatic compliance with everything that can raise a hard fist to back up eccentric demands will end.

In jest, the writer rates Merkel as Germany’s “best socialist governor”. Had she been navigating under a red flag, this would be a compliment. However, Merkel happens to be an in-name-only conservative. In campaigns, she sells the goods as a centrist, but when it counts, she acts as a leftist. Sailing the political seas under flags of convenience is not unprecedented. However, it is, signaling a lack of commitment to anything, an effective instrument to undermine the pillars our way of life.

In 2015, misjudging the nature and the extent of the invasion, furthermore, seeking to “atone” for Hitler, the Chancellor consented to the inundation of Germany. Those imported by the “culture of welcome” were not, as claimed, genuine refugees. Nor were they, in terms of the sales pitch, “experts” to help the economy. In reality, most entrants were migrants, often illiterate, and even if trained, unqualified to operate in an advanced economy. To the “natives”, great benefits from “diversity” were promised. However, the newcomers, besides importing their resentment for their host, had their own interpretation of “multiculturalism”. Accordingly, the throng, said to have fled violence, responded to the entitlement to welfare as a career by forming a hostile parallel society in which crime and extremism thrived. The effects of the inundation became, regardless of the press’ buzz, the intellectuals, and the political class, painfully obvious, even if abashedly soft-pedaled.

Two developments saved Merkel from disaster. One: Hungary’s Orbán closed, as he was supposed to, Hungary’s borders. Other nations that feared for their identity followed, and so the “Balkan Route” clogged up. Regardless of her posturing rebuke of the “inhuman” measures, that saved Germany from hundreds of thousands of new settlers for the reviled measure stopped the tide and so saved Merkel’s hide.

With the temporary halt of the pressure, during a calm interval, elections were held. The results were a disaster for Merkel’s “conservatives”, and their Social Democratic coalition partner. Making things worse, the AfD cut a good figure. That party’s name describes the process that unfolds. Merkel used to claim that there “is no alternative” to her policy. Responding to that, AfD stands for “Alternative for Germany”.

As the “alternative to what has no alternative” flexes its muscles, a government is to be formed. Not known for their realism, the socialist blame their loss on their old alliance and, therefore, they opt out of a coalition. For want of a solution –the AfD being officially a fascist gang- the Greens, the Liberals, and Markel’s “union” (Bavarian conservatives and her own “centrists”) negotiate. If they can agree, the result will be unstable.

The Greens are actually Reds. The Liberals, as libertarians, do not fit Merkel’s off-the-center centrist opportunism and Green collectivism. Only the craving for power may persuade these ill-fitting partners to surrender their principles. Come bad weather, internal contradictions will paralyze the government and that will mean new elections. It is likely that, the coming reverses will persuade more silent voters, that the old myths have, indeed, faded. With the “proper” traditional parties compromised by their failures, many more will vote for the “unthinkable”, namely the AfD.

If the foreseeable scenario unfolds, the German component of the constellation that runs Europe will crumple. The effect will hardly be what good tales, invented to scare, predict. There will be no Nazi take over –how odd that no one fears a Stalinist revival. However, the EU is likely to return to its intended roots. It will emphasize that it is a confederation to protect small member states, and not a federation deputized to impose centralization. Furthermore, the Union will undertake to protect its borders. It will also cease to pressure its members not to exercise their sovereignty to protect their internal order by setting the norms of their migration policy. Overall, thereby strengthened, Europe will end its role as a vacuum within the global order, become more resolute toward its enemies, and more valuable to its allies as a friend.


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