Civilisational Wheel of Fortune (critique of the EU)

Published in A. Kuklinski & B. Skuza (eds), 2003, Europe in the Perspective of Global Change, Club of Rome, pp.273-280
.
Motto:
“I’ve seen things…you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the Shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near Tanhauser Gate. All those…moments will be lost…in time, like tears in the rain. Time…to die.”
Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”
.
Author’s note: I was asked to present a Europe as seen by a 29-year old Pole, who has travelled extensively and was educated in the Western higher education system. The thoughts below reflect (probably) a mixture of knowledge acquired in the West coupled with Polish idealism, all stewed in a healthy dose of global cynicism.
.
.
I left Poland in 1994, just as the systemic reforms began in earnest and people were still filled with hope. The following 8 years were a painful time, when, from afar, I watched my home spasm itself into chaos and ruin as countless miracle healers proposed a string of “ultimate” remedies, be that economic, political or social reform, that brought the nation to the brink of disaster. I came back to a country where people seek escapism from the horrors of their everyday existence. My brethren grasp at anything that promises a short respite from what we were “sold” by a group of “advisers”, Westerners who came to Central and Eastern Europe to assist in our transformation—the process of metamorphosis, after which we were supposed to “become like them”.
.
Few promoters mentioned and even fewer implementers questioned the simple fact that the West achieved its success through centuries of hard work combined with the rape and pillaging of foreign lands, exploitation of generations and countless bloodshed, all brought together by the lowest common denominator—greed[1]. We wanted what “they” had and, as a result, we were sold the dummy of the millennium—the biggest advertising project in known history—where nations freed from the “yoke of Communist oppression” leaped blindly into the waiting arms of the so-called free-market and democratic system.
.
“Their” free-market is nothing of the kind—a system promoted by those it suits the most, those ready to compete, with knowledge, skills and tricks honed to perfection on internal markets, long before they emerged onto the global scene. Central and Eastern Europe learned the truth very fast—we can rarely compete and are reduced to a zone filled with skilled labourers, waiting for their chance to serve an outside investor[2]. The strong talk about fairness when it suits them or when they need to feel good after defeating a weaker, less competent foe.
.
“Their” democracy is a myth. Elections come and go, public faces change with boring slowness while the electorate are bombarded with monotonous populist slogans and cynical smiles. Modern-day politicians have become a product, and as such they are marketable—millions[3] are spent on making the particular demagogue look like Father Christmas-cum-Jesus Christ in disguise. When money meets a marketable product, we initially experience a period of aggressive promotion, when our eyes, ears and minds are filled with information about the “added goodness of Brand X”. A few months later we are led to the political checkout to place our order regarding the preferred Saviour. Unfortunately, when buying a TV we know that if it breaks, the manufacturer will repair it, give us a refund or offer a new model. Not so in politics—and Central & Eastern Europe did in 12 years what took the Americans several decades. Voter disenfranchisement and protest voting all point in a single direction—voters know that the even the brightest and healthiest shell can easily hide a rotten core.
.
After the old system collapsed, we were cheated of an opportunity to decide for ourselves in what specific direction should our nations evolve. Central and Eastern Europe dropped one utopia and dived headlong into another, without pausing for breath, the necessary precursor for a long period of repeated submergence. During that historically short time, C&EE countries should have refrained from a reckless leap into the unknown, taken a moment to reflect on where they came from, and where they wanted to go. This aspect was crucial—the will of a nation is something super-powerful and with skilled hands it can be channelled to create miracles[4]. A period of systemic contemplation would have focused our minds on the tasks at hand, helped to identify the upcoming challenges, list our aims and objectives and generate the initial momentum upon which systemic transformation could have begun in earnest—our way.
.
I remember the final years of “Communism”, and it was a sad time, yet people survived, had families and even semblances of a career. Now, whenever I walk to work in our “reformed” country and pass a “diver”[5] scavenging for cans and bottles so that he or she can earn an additional 2-5 dollars a week, I deeply despise Jeffrey Sachs and his self-righteous colleagues for the “advice” they gave Poland and other C&EE countries[6].
.
In 2004 a group of Central European countries will be “buying into”[7] a very flashy Club, its corridors filled with vague promises, idealistic slogans and long-gone symbols of power. We are once again rushing head over heels to join a new utopia—the glorious European Family of Nations, with the European Union carrying its unique Torch of Truth and Inevitability.
.
If all goes according to plan, I will soon become its Citizen.
.
My Europe, seen through the prism of the E.U. expansion drive appears borderless—an extrapolation of ongoing processes seems to promise an ever-increasing membership, from the Atlantic and Arctic Circle to…where? The Urals? North Africa? Whether looking through the mentality of an animal pack or through the hunter-gatherer tribe psyche we have always focused on a recognisable patch of land that we could call our own. Lacking specific, identifiable and reasonably unchangeable[8] borders, there is little chance for territory-based common identification to emerge and thus an important aspect in the definition of what it is to be a “European” is lost from the outset. If we define ourselves as Europeans through the Union’s geographical location, can citizens acquire an “opt out” clause when Muslim Turkey joins? I might think of myself as a European now or in 15 years, but I will definitely reconsider my membership of a Pan-European entity that extends further than Napoleon or Hitler ever managed to conquer with their vast armies. I don’t want to live as a citizen of a Pangean Union.
.
Ghosts from its bloody and cruel past haunt my Europe as historical correctness infects our continental bloodstream, imported from the United States, a country itself suffering from guilt-induced schizophrenia[9]. Following the tradition of conventional medicine, we look at the causes of our sickness, obsessing about things long gone, whereas holistic medicine would argue that a simpler, better solution comes from looking optimistically into the future, focusing on a time where the sickness is long gone.
.
Over the years, the German government has apologised to the Poles for atrocities committed during the War, and we reciprocated for our own wartime sins, simultaneously glancing at Ukraine, silently praying for a show of empathy from our Eastern neighbour that might allow for another symbolic wound cleansing. Claims and counter claims fly between courthouses as people fight for land, houses, factories, anything that belonged to their long-dead forefathers, even if in the meantime borders have been moved several times and completely new countries appeared. How far into the past is enough? Once upon a time someone owned everything so, to sort out all the claims, will we create a Tribunal for the Alleviation of Pre-Historical Grievances?[10]
.
I fear that my Europe suffers from a very specific and virulent strain of post-colonial romanticism—a fixation on the belief that the United States is a slightly misguided, differently located part of Europe[11]. How else can I explain the never-ending examples of camaraderie and cooperation between powers with often competing interests who share no more than (at most) a religious approach, some language and skin colour? Huntington[12] argues that Americans must reaffirm their Western identity in order for our civilisation to survive, whereas I fail to identify the abovementioned uniform identity—one that spans the Atlantic and provides a common framework for two sub-civilisations that have been diverging for decades[13].
.
My Europe has no heroes, no symbols, nothing on offer that could focus our minds and allow for the building of a recognisable brand[14]. Without authorities and social icons that last longer than the proverbial 15 minutes, we are denied a single continuous reality—that nearly mystical string of faces and events, following which allows us to appreciate the passage of time, around and through us. Continuity is only a buzzword and we live a day at a time, knowing too well that anything and anyone can be attacked, questioned, discredited and finally, destroyed. We are denied a possibility of orienting our lives around a focal point, be that a religious or ethical outlook, political affiliation or even a football star[15]. Without identifiable commonalities there is no possibility for initiating and building group affiliation, and that negates any recreation of the social fabric that has been breaking down around us at frightening speed.
.
Lacking a Pan-European DeGaulle or Pilsudski to focus upon, we cannot peer outside our little private worldview bunkers and admire the far-away horizon that promises a change for the better. European leaders from all aspects of life—those actual, those able and those yet unwilling to emerge—can all be speedily and at will Springerised[16] by the media that, like Doctor Frankenstein’s little project, have taken on a life of their own and feed us a twisted and generally negative vision of reality. Why would anyone want to willingly suffer such an attack and expose his family and inner circles to over-zealous scrutiny by an uncontrollable pack of information scavengers?
.
Europeans do not believe in the inherent goodness of man, especially when he comes from a neighbouring country, with which there have most certainly been “historical altercations” of a bloody nature. Our nation-specific brand recognition is still imbedded too deeply for Pan-European (and thus higher-level) brands to find a secure place in our psyche. Without a focal point for our dreams and desires we cannot apply the will and exert the effort to realise the Dream of a Good Europe.
.
My Europe is run by elites that are too inflexible and overly accustomed to compromise for the sake of peace and quiet, whose resulting primary interest seems to be the upholding of the present status quo. Calls for an “evolutionary approach” can be heard, justified by an appeal to man’s lowest instincts—the need for security and certainty, although the latter is available only to God. The masses, with their limited attention span are flooded with Reason-resembling info-bites about gradualism, restraint and promises of controlling the Uncontrollable, yet we all know that the quickest way to build something new is through creative destruction. Only then, when systemic chaos rules and established orders are overturned, does Mankind’s true genius emerge—our ability to build upon ruins of old Empires and our God-given talent of Progressing to the Next Step, each time a bit further, pushing the boundaries, be that of social organisation, economic systems or Thought.
.
We gently tiptoe around the unavoidable fact that our continent has offered Humanity the greatest joys and the greatest tragedies—with Genius, there are always two extremes, and praying for one whilst hoping the other never comes is a delusion, which a continent, home to hundreds of millions of people, can ill afford.
.
My Europe is home to gutless people, who are unwilling to take a decisive stand, one that might require taking a side or enduring suffering, but one that results in the upholding of crucial values without which life is otherwise pointless. Cowards share our cities, towns, streets and shops and we permit them to exist amongst us, tainting our already weak moral and ethical aura. I don’t know what to despise more—moral relativists or the society that permits them to remain within its ranks. Even if we can delude ourselves as to the appropriateness of harbouring such individuals, how can we look God in the face without admitting unforgivable weakness? I understand that many things can be seen as relative, but I can readily name three that are Absolute—Love, Honour and Duty.
.
I am joining a Europe tainted with weakness and covered in shame, which is symbolised by one man—Captain Luc Lemaire, UNAMIR. European civilisation is built around people taking a stand on the deepest and often-controversial issues, defining their perception of reality through identification with specific ideas, and exhibiting a readiness to fight and die for them. UNAMIR illustrated our betrayal of a universal Duty to protect the weak, yet Lemaire went further and single-handedly gave away our Honour and Love, with its inherent compassion. The Don Bosco massacre[17] taints my soul—when the Belgian troops pulled out, they left behind everything that was special about European civilisation. The blood of 3000 Tutsis is on our hands yet Europe has done nothing to wash away the shame of our troops running away[18].
.
The Europe I will be joining faces a two-fold challenge—coping with unprecedented external pressures whilst simultaneously reconstituting itself around the Union ideal and building secure foundations for a Future Europe.
.
Globalisation[19] is everything and anything—the ultimate panacea for all our ills or the greatest form of cancer our planetary society has ever encountered. In reality, globalisation is a simple thing—the Challenger, who knocks on our door to find if we are ready to take the Next Step.
.
Globalisation brings the progressive removal of time[20] as a buffer permitting a civilisation to adapt gradually to the changes happening around it. Historically, distance and time were directly correlated—ideas, technologies or people were “delayed” in their move from one continent, civilisation or country to another, thereby giving the receiver an opportunity to prepare. Time permitted contemplation, comparison and analysis of possible consequences emerging from “newness”, and offered a possibility to say “no”. No longer—the current wave of globalisation[21] forces the European civilisation to face an uncontrollable assault.
.
Unfortunately, a stand in the face of overwhelming odds is always difficult, but when combined with the breakdown of our own cultural grounding, a decisive stand becomes virtually impossible.
.
Reverse outlook imperialism[22] seems to be History’s joke, played on our civilisation that has over the centuries imposed its own views on virtually every corner of this little planet. Now, whenever white middle and upper class youth look and act like black American lumpen-proletariat hoodlums, Europe openly admits defeat through accepting ideas spawned by other cultures located thousands of kilometres away. Nintendo and Playstation game consoles have invaded the rooms of European families bringing with them Japanese ideas, Hollywood pumps out Gigahours of American “culture”, while Brazilian soaps flood family channels, showing us the tough life of South American elites in their well-defended enclaves. Thanks to the Internet, people know more about what happens in Singapore or South Africa than they know about their own region. Satellite television uncritically pumps out hundreds of channels containing an undecipherable mixture of sadness, weakness, and societal and family breakdown.
.
Thanks to our wealth, Europeans drink this mixture through extensively developed informational systems and we have long ceased to comprehend the subversive nature of this assault. When informational overload is combined with lack of time, we abandon defending our minds through conscious analysis and filtering, and permit the assaulting information direct access to our subconscious. That way we free ourselves from the necessity of critically appraising anything and everything, a process that is difficult and time consuming, especially that we have been conditioned to avoid needless effort and to fight for our “free time”, even if it is at the cost of our worldview.
.
A direct highway to our society’s subconscious brings with it a terrible danger—a society conditioned into the avoidance of Reason and obsessed with the need for immediate solutions. I worry about possible spasms when unconscious societal reflexes emerge, as Europeans begin uncritically reacting to a wide range of stimuli, turning themselves into an unruly mob driven by the need for immediate gratification (or simply the removal of the problem at hand). Ceausescu’s short “trial” and the resulting execution, the cases of anti-paedophile mobs rampaging through UK’s housing estates or LePen’s near-victory all should be treated as powerful, last-minute wake-up calls for a Europe teetering on the brink of madness.
.
Yet, Globalisation also brings an efficiency drive. While efficiency in the economic sense, where resources like land, labour or capital aren’t wasted, is good for the planet and our continent in general, I look towards an efficiency of continental management, which will be all about the Return of Reason.
.
Managing my Europe will require a deep and painful analysis of our strengths and weaknesses. The resulting S.W.O.T.[23] model will be widely debated, pulling in a variety of actors into the process of shaping our future. By looking at ourselves in a critical light, we will discover how much has been recklessly given away, how much has been lost and how much have we simply forgotten. Europe will finally end its obsession with history and look towards a future filled with promise.
.
Once completed, the process of self-analysis will enable our entire civilisation to focus on the tasks at hand, those painful yet necessary activities, which will result in a New Europe. The aims and objectives will be properly justified, permitting even the feeblest of minds to understand our New Tao. Milestones will be set and timetables adhered to, with appropriate alternative scenarios and consequence matrixes set up should Fate decide to throw a spanner into the works. Many will smile, but I want and need a five-, ten- and twenty-year Plan, without which we will quickly loose focus, as short-term issues will strain to cloud European minds and distract European society from its long-term goal of civilisational Resurrection.
.
Managing my Europe will require absolute logic in goal setting and execution. Logic based on fundamental values that have for centuries powered our Ascension, and without which we are simply another mob.
.
From logical organisation comes transparency, that currently unattainable comprehension of the inner workings of small, medium and large organisations. Without understanding our own civilisation and its institutions, like the Union, citizens will once again be reduced to objects of governance, and that approach is what led us to the present-day tragedy. Undoubtedly, Europe will face a huge challenge of transforming its grey masses into Evolved Citizens and Educated Voters, yet without publicly held Knowledge, the process of rebuilding our civilisation will be as secure as Lenin’s Communism built by a revolutionary elite.
.
Systemic transparency has an external dimension—friends, partners, even enemies will know our positions on important issues—European foreign, economic or social policies will be predictable, allowing external players to fully comprehend our behaviours and thus plan for a distant future where our relations are still strong. When someone plans for 30, 50, even 100 years, he (be that a person, company, state or civilisation) shows optimism in the future. We need optimism.
.


[1] Only during my studies in the West did I come across the term “robber barons”—men whose wealth was in no sense their own creation (M. Josephson, 1934). C&EE seems to copy American economic history, but as always with the “next generation reproduction” the process is vastly accelerated. Russian oligarchs are a prime example that history repeats itself.
.
[2] G. Soros (2002) and J. Stilgitz (2002). They are both ex-free-marketers, who have taken the road of criticising the current system (from which they have first reaped extensive rewards) and argue against the amorality of the free market and the US-imposed “Washington Consensus”.
.
[3] Recently billions, as was the case with the Bush-Gore electoral battle.
.
[4] Despite the various evils attributed to the Communists, they did rebuild a splendid Warsaw—the often-criticized grey, like-a-concrete-wedding-cake monolith of the Palace of Culture notwithstanding. In my opinion, the post-war rebuilding was a project that inspired the entire nation.
.
[5] To fully convey the connotations, “nurek” should be translated as “garbage diver/scavenger”. The reference is popular in many media and normal conversations. I have some across comments that the “divers” play an important role in the “invisible” (outside established channels) recycling of rare metals that would otherwise be lost to the economy.
.
[6] Strangely, I haven’t heard of Mr. Sachs for a long time—maybe he’s “helping” some other nation increase it mass of unemployed?
.
[7] I use that term with full awareness. Accession is expensive—the actual “levy of allegiance” is sizeable, we can expect dramatic shifts in prices and what is most tragic for a less developed country—a noticeable brain drain. Politically we give away sizeable aspects of our sovereignty, which grow in severity as our commitment progresses. Social upheavals are to be expected as our society strains to adapt.
.
[8] At least from the perspective of a single generation—anything else is History or the Future.
.
[9] “Political correctness” in reality stems from historical guilt. Most recent example: claims by black activists about possible reparations to the descendants of black slaves that could (or should) be perceived as direct (if involuntary and unpaid) participants in the process of creating the foundation of the US’s economic might. A doubtful historically justified process of redistribution at its finest.
.
[10] Courts have been established for providing “civilised” solutions to existing (otherwise insurmountable) differences between people, yet the current Western judicial system has been perverted by misguided idealists and pirated away from serving the society in its entirety.
.
[11] Here I borrow from R. Sandall’s (2001) “designer tribalism” concept and modify it (away from promoting primitive cultures) to “designer colonialism”—glorifying an ex-colony for evolving into something we can recognise as still belonging to our culture group, yet different enough to be exciting.
.
[12] The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of Social Order, 1996.
.
[13] The percentage of white Americans is declining relative other races—the long identifiable shift sends a clear signal that the United States has ceased being a classically-perceived “Western” nation. Rather, it should seek its own identity, based on the racial, religious and worldview makeup of its actual population.
.
[14] A king’s flag symbolised his presence on the battlefield and served as a focal point for the army’s group psyche. Of course, once it fell, defeatism easily set in.
.
[15] In 2002 by Glen Hoddle, the UK’s football coach, sent shockwaves through the British Isles by claiming that: “disabled people are suffering for their sins in previous incarnations”.
.
[16] The Jerry Springer Show—a process of Circus Maximus-like destructive showmanship where the IQ-deficient, challenged by reality, social outcasts and those with delusions of grandeur or complete lack of self-respect are placed in front of the gawking public to feed its lowest emotional needs.
.
[17] For a detailed outline of what happened during the 1994 Rwanda crisis visit the CBS for their programme “The Triumph of Evil” at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/evil
.
[18] Throughout history Europeans have often stood-by as tragedies happened, yet Lemaire, even if it called for ignoring his superiors and orders, consciously sulked away from taking a decisive stand on basic Human issues. How many times will people justify themselves by saying “I was just following orders?” Haven’t we yet evolved out of unconscious servitude?
.
[19] I bypass the analysis of current writings about the process, since it can only be truly described by historians, looking back at its entirety.
.
[20] Giddens’s writings about modernity highlight the occurring separation between space and time. Look at “The Consequence of Modernity” (1991).
.
[21] The “newness” of globalisation is grossly overstated. Look at Glynn & Sutcliffe (1992).
.
[22] An interesting notion, where countries previously affected by Europeans and their culture are now able to reciprocate with their own brand of ideas, usually vastly different from ours.
.
[23] SWOT—an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, a tool used in the preliminary stages of decision-making and as a precursor to strategic planning. Look at Johnson et al. (1989).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *