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PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post Brexit Revisited; Trump-Putin
Created by John Eipper on 07/22/18 5:36 AM

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Brexit Revisited; Trump-Putin (Istvan Simon, USA, 07/22/18 5:36 am)

I have often crossed keyboards with Nigel Jones on WAIS about Brexit, and shall do so again.

I agree with JE that Nigel's July 20th post was an excellent appraisal of Boris Johnson. Nonetheless, Nigel also slips in his own biased views of Brexit. It seems to me that Nigel and Boris Johnson have an exaggerated sense of dominance of the UK over Europe, a dominance that simply does not exist.

Those of us, even Anglophiles like I am, tried to warn Nigel many times without avail that his visceral hatred of the EU is exaggerated, unnecessary, and his passionate belief in Brexit misplaced.

Before I continue, let me reaffirm here that I love England, as much as I love the United States, my adopted country, so what I write here is out of love, and as far from hatred as it can be. But those of us that are even though benevolent towards England, nonetheless realists, warned Nigel that the rosy divorce that he was foreseeing was very unlikely to be achieved, and indeed it turned out not to be achievable.

So harping about Theresa May's appeasement is once again misplaced and wrong. I repeat that I love England and wish it the absolute best. I love it culturally, love London perhaps more than any other large city in the world, I love the British ways that I experienced in 1983 when I lived a whole year in Cambridge. My first son was born there. It is obvious that I have deep and enduring personal roots in England. Recently I wrote on WAIS about our wonderful visit to Cambridge's Trinity College and King's College. I am an American citizen, and a Brazilian citizen, born in Hungary, but one of the places where my heart has always been and shall always be is England. I repeat these lines in the hope that Nigel will understand that it is not for lack of love for England that I disagree with him.

Theresa May is not to be blamed for the soft divorce that is coming, that Nigel abhors. There was no better deal to be made. So she was forced into a divorce that Nigel (or Boris Johnson) dislike. Fuming though, even if for justifiable reasons, never achieved a better deal.

Take Greece, another country I love. Once again those of us who understand the realities of life warned when the leftist government that promised a hard deal with the EU that it would not be able to deliver. And it was not able to deliver. One can say that the deal that Greece got was deeply unfair--and I really think it was. Germany got a lot of assets for peanuts, For example Germany owns all airports, and got them for much less than what they were worth. So Greece got a rotten deal. But unfortunately no better deal was available!

The same is true in Brexit. There is no better deal than what Theresa May is getting. Britain needs the EU much more than the EU needs Britain. That is why Brexit was a bad idea in the first place, no matter how bureaucratic and unreasonable the EU is, all that Nigel hates, probably justifiably so. Hatred, even justifiable hatred, does not get better deals than what is realistically obtainable.

Trump brags about his deal-making abilities. But so far he did not deliver a single deal that was even half good. In my opinion that is in part because he cannot ever impose the one-sided deals that he would like to have. He did not get anything from Kim Jong Un and gave a lot, so he got the worst possible deal, while trumpeting and always blowing his own horn on how great a deal he got. It is much much much worse than the nuclear deal with Iran that he criticized so vociferously. With Russia in Helsinki he got nothing at all. Putin had fun with him, and humiliated the "president" of the United States in front of the entire world. Putin made him look weak and ineffective, but publicly praised him how great he was. Trump loves adulation and believes his own hype. And he believes that if he keeps saying what a fabulous success he got, then his supporters will support him even more.  Contrary to Britain v EU, the United States could have gotten a much better deal with Russia, because we are a much stronger nation than Russia will ever be. We are stronger militarily by several orders of magnitude, with a better economic outlook for the future, our power grows continuously while Russia's wanes. So a truly good negotiator could have gotten much better deals from Russia, and we could also deliver offers to Putin that he could not refuse, in the immortal words of the Godfather. But Putin owns Trump, so certainly this president cannot ever get anything better out of Russia than the nothing he got.

JE comments:  Many of us outside the UK do not have a clear understanding of Ms May's deal with the EU.  Is there a deal?  I am under the impression that the process is still at the jaw, jaw stage, hence the controversies about "soft," "hard," and my favorite acronym of 2018, BRINO (Brexit in Name Only).

John Heelan (next) will comment on Johnson and Brexit.


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  • The Totalitarianism of the EU: Response to Istvan Simon (Nigel Jones, UK 07/24/18 4:49 AM)
    It is flattering that Istvan Simon (July 22nd) is an Anglophile, and takes such a close interest in UK and European politics that he bothers to devote an entire post to my views on the EU, thus obliging me to answer him!

    Of course I understand why Istvan and many other Americans, observing events in Europe from a distance, still vaguely think the EU is a good thing:  co-operation between nations, no more war and all that. The modern reality is somewhat different.


    So, with all due respect, can I suggest that the 1980s, when Istvan last lived in England and formed his views, is a very long time ago, and the Atlantic is a very broad ocean?


    In other words, I am suggesting that politics in both Britain and Europe have changed utterly since Istvan experienced them personally, and that from the distance of California he may not appreciate the full extent of that change.


    In brief, in the 21st century, the European Union has finally revealed itself ever more clearly not as the economic entity which Istvan saw back then, but as an essentially political project that is encountering ever more extreme opposition and is doomed--like all empires--to collapse, as it does not enjoy the popular support that, for example, the US had from its people during its creation.


    Why else would a puzzled Mikhail Gorbachev, of all people, question why the EU bureaucracy, having seen the fate of the Soviet Union, were constructing the self-same doomed system in Europe? I find it quite ironic that Istvan, with his own grim experience of totalitarianism, does not recognise the self-same phenomenon surfacing again. It is, after all, in Europe's genes.


    Istvan, like most EU supporters, always stresses the supposed economic benefits that the EU has brought to its people, and rarely if ever mentions the politics behind it. Doing that would cause him to acknowledge its undemocratic and dictatorial nature.


    I contend that the benefits of the EU have disappeared since the ruinous introduction of the Euro, which has beggared the southern European nations of Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Spain, leading to stagnation, mass unemployment--especially among the young--and escalating social tension.


    In Eastern and central Europe, the situation is much the same, and fear and resentment at the EU's attempts to offload millions of unwanted and mainly Muslim migrants from the Middle East on them, has led to the election of populist right-wing parties fiercely determined to resist the EU diktat in Poland, the Czech republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria and--most strongly of all--in Istvan's native Hungary.


    Even in the traditionally docile and stable nations of Northern Europe, resistance to race replacement by the EU dictatorship is growing. In Holland, Geert Wilders' party is the largest, while in Sweden, the anti-immigration Democrats are expected to emerge as the largest party from the elections this autumn. Traditionally Euro-sceptic Denmark has just banned the burka. And so on. It cannot be denied that there is a pattern to these events: The European Union is in chronic and terminal crisis. It is a case of an unelected, self-appointed, corrupt elite defending itself against its own people.



    And then there is Brexit...


    I never foresaw a "rosy" Brexit, as Istvan suggests. Forty years of immersive entanglement cannot be undone overnight, nor without pain and suffering. But that is the price of freedom and opportunity. That pain, however, is being made much worse by the refusal of the British elite to accept the democratic decision of the British people to Leave. The elite--politicians, civil servants and big business--are currently conspiring to frustrate, water down to nothing, or reverse Brexit. That is why the sundering is proving so protracted and painful.


    If Theresa May had stuck to her stated intention, voiced in her Lancaster House speech in January 2017, to walk away from negotiations when the EU proved intransigent, and really meant her mantra that "no deal is better than a bad deal," all would have been well.


    Instead, she has repeatedly lied to the public, her party members, and her own Ministers: pretending to pursue Brexit while secretly pursuing a policy of capitulation to each and every demand made by Brussels.


    Now she has been found out, and her double-dealing has exploded in her face. Her "deal" which would entail us remaining in the EU in all but name, taking their rules, cannot be sold either to the EU, or to an angry Leave voting electorate


    May has therefore managed to screw up on every front, in the process signing her own political death warrant and that of her party too. The jury is out on whether she has done this for reasons of sheer incompetence or whether she is a tool of the powerful vested banking and corporate interests who want us to remain locked inside the EU prison. Probably a bit of both.


    I certainly don't believe that Britain is dominant in Europe, as Istvan alleges, but neither are we Greece. We are the world's fifth largest economy, London is Europe's financial centre and we along with France are the only European country with a significant military capability (though much reduced thanks to the ineptness of recent governments).


    Finally--and perhaps most importantly--is the sheer hatred of Britain in the EU that has become ever more evident since the referendum. A tiny but telling example: Martin Selmayr, the German who runs the EU's vast civil service at the behest of his alcoholic mentor, EU president Jean-Claude Juncker (known as "Drunker"), tweeted delighted emojis when England was kicked out of the World Cup by Croatia. Why on earth would we want to belong to a "club" that quite clearly detests us?


    I do agree with Istvan that Brexit is now likely to end in BRINO (Brexit in name only) thanks to the bumbling cowardice and even treason of our despised political class. But if he thinks that will put the issue to bed he could not be more wrong. It will fester on, poisoning politics until we get a clean break--or the EU itself breaks asunder like the Soviet empire that it increasingly resembles.


    Let me close by putting a question I have posed before to Istvan without getting an answer. If a pan-American bloc was formed with its capital in say Caracas, the US President, Congress and Supreme Court were superseded by this bloc, and Washington DC became just another state capital, and the US constitution a dead letter--would Istvan support it? I think we know the answer. So if he wouldn't, why should we surrender to its European equivalent?


    JE comments:  A very thorough overview of the Euroskeptic position.  But Nigel, isn't your argument undermined by the Soviet analogy?  Where are the EU Gulags, secret police, travel restrictions, and single-party rule?


    I've noticed a new term in the Euroskeptic discourse:  "race replacement."  It seems to refer to Muslim immigration, but the sound of it is jarring to my sensitive ears.  What are the origins of "race replacement" in its present-day usage?

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    • EU's Problem? No European Identity (Istvan Simon, USA 07/25/18 4:47 AM)
      I want to thank Nigel Jones for his excellent post of July 24th, with of his view of Brexit, EU and so on. I have read all his previous posts on this subject, and I think that this was by far the best he has written. So congratulations, Nigel.

      I think I do understand your point of view, and I think your views in this post are perfectly reasonable and respectable. I do have some problems with the political party you adhered to, UKIP, for I believe that Nigel Farage is a demagogue, a Trump supporter, and just as bad as Trump. Furthermore UKIP was a one-issue party, so presumably lost its raison d'être once Brexit won.


      Nigel brings up several European politicians (Wilders, Orban, Babis, etc.) who are in vehement opposition to Muslim immigration. I cannot say that I am crazy for Muslim immigration into Europe. I do see the possible dangers involved in this, and the possibility does worry me that our worst fears of the consequences of this migration might happen. Personally I believe that it is this issue that inflamed much of the anti-EU crowd--certainly all the leaders that Nigel mentioned directly or indirectly. The Atlantic usually has excellent articles and here is a piece on Babis that I'd recommend to WAISers.


      https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/10/czech-elections/543669/


      But personally I am not very sympathetic to any of these leaders, including Hungary's Orban, whom Nigel referenced indirectly. Frankly Orban is little more than a right-wing fascist. The Atlantic details some of the awful ways that Babis used his ill-acquired wealth to buy up media favorable to his views.


      So, while I do understand the possibility that Muslim migration might turn out to be awful, and the resentments it produced in today's European politics, it is by no means obvious that this migration necessarily will turn out to be bad. I mentioned the Turkish immigration into Germany in a previous post, and I may add equally the Pakistani and Indian migration into the UK that did also turn out reasonably well. I also might mention France's World Championship, which in part at least seems to be because of past migration. The sensational French soccer player Kylian Mbappé, for example, was born in Paris. His mother is Muslim, his father Christian.


      I completely agree with Nigel on the disastrous adoption of the Euro. But the UK stayed out of the Euro, and therefore was not affected by this particular disaster. I also agree with him that the UK is a large and diversified economy. But the UK economy does depend heavily on trade with the EU. Nigel says that this is the price of freedom, and if so, so be it. But I suspect many are less sanguine on just how steep a price Brexit is worth.


      Nigel asks me what I would think if a supranational political entity would install itself in Caracas and override the US Constitution. I would oppose it, and it is a fair question that if I oppose it in the case of his example, why would I tolerate it in the EU?  The answer is that the 28 countries that make up the EU are much smaller countries than is the United States. I might add further that even in the case of the United States, I strongly support NAFTA, and I think that it has been very beneficial for the economies of all countries concerned. Which is not to say that every consequence of NAFTA was good for America, or everyone in the United States. Some people were hurt by the agreement, a fact exploited shamelessly by Trump. But overall, NAFTA has been very very good for the United States and also very good for Canada and Mexico. I totally oppose the stupid attempts of president Trump to "renegotiate" NAFTA. As everything that this president has done, his policies regarding NAFTA are half-baked, not well thought out, and overall I believe that will be a disaster for the interests of the United States if allowed to be implemented.


      I think that the problem of the EU is more a question of identity than economics. The EU makes perfect economic sense. It also makes some political and military sense. But from Nigel's point of view none of this matters because it does not make sense as a basis for identity. The EU tried and failed to create a "European citizen." There is no such thing, and in this the EU failed. People of the EU by and large do not think of themselves as Europeans first. They think of themselves as Germans, or French, or English, or Spanish and so on. Thus no European identity has emerged from the EU project. Maybe this is what is at the center of Nigel's anxiety regarding the EU.


      JE comments:  Kylian Mbappé, just 19, has possibly done more to quiet anti-immigration sentiment in France than all the essays and "Hate has no home here" rallies combined.  His father is from Cameroon and his mother Algerian--there's something symbolic and "New Francey" about that. 


      Le Pen's FN, which thrives on discord, must be very disappointed by the French victory.

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      • Brexit Again; Why I Joined UKIP (Nigel Jones, UK 07/26/18 4:02 AM)
        At the risk of turning WAIS into a mutual admiration society, may I too thank Istvan Simon (July 25th) for his graceful response to my post on Brexit and the EU?

        Civilised debate and discourse is what WAIS is supposed to be all about.


        Just to explain my history with UKIP, which Istvan questions. In 2012 my then partner, tiring of my dining table tirades on the EU, suggested I did something about it. As UKIP were the only British political party committed to getting Britain out of the EU's deadly grasp, I joined them and quickly became a candidate for both British Parliamentary and European elections.


        The 2015 elections brought a Conservative majority and David Cameron--who had pledged to hold a referendum on our EU membership after UKIP topped the polls in the 2013 European Parliamentary elections--was forced to keep his word.  This was an unusual experience for slippery Dave.


        I spoke and campaigned during the referendum, and when--against all expectations--Britain voted for Brexit, I let my UKIP membership lapse, as I wrongly believed the battle was won and the job was done.


        I had not foreseen the blatant betrayal of the British people's democratic decision by May's Tories, which will cost her and them very dear indeed. They are once again justifying the epithet John Stuart Mill gave them in the 19th century:  "the stupid party."


        As for Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader who Istvan quite unfairly and inaccurately calls a demagogue and as bad as Trump, I got to know him during my UKIP years, and can tell Istvan that he has got the man completely wrong. He is not a demagogue but a charismatic speaker--two completely different things, who devoted 20 thankless years to achieving a noble objective. He has his faults--don't we all?--but he has had a more profound effect on politics than any other single person, since without him there would be no Brexit. The fact that Westminster's elite is now betraying Brexit is hardly his fault. Like me, he too trusted the Tories to deliver on their promises. Never again!


        Istvan is too keen to dismiss populist politicians who quite rightly resist the invasion of their countries by people who are unwelcome and unwilling to adapt to their host country's culture. Istvan calls Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary, "a fascist." This is nonsense. Orban has thrice been elected with big majorities in free and fair elections. So if he is a "fascist," so are most Hungarians. As an authority on the subject I should add that the word "fascist" is used far too loosely today, and that the real fascists are on the left.


        Finally I am glad that Istvan and I are in agreement on the EU's failure to create a European identity. Europe is not a single entity but a collection of ancient states with their own customs, cultures, languages and economies. Any attempt by what Orwell called "shiny-bottomed bureaucrats" to unite them from above by force and stealth was always going to end in tears, and provoke the resistance we are now seeing right across the continent. The EU has only itself to blame and I look forward to the day when crowds set its hated flag aflame.


        JE comments:  Pax et...Love!  My mornings are happiest when WAISers play nice.


        After the Brexit victory over two years ago, UKIP lost its raison d'être.  Yet with the Tory wavering and dawdling, the party is reinvigorated.  Nigel, do you see UKIP playing a major role, perhaps that of "kingmaker," in the next government?  By the by, what is Farage up to these days?

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      • Prague Report: Immigration, Babis and the EU (Paul Pitlick, USA 07/27/18 11:20 AM)
        This is in response to a number of WAIS posts recently about the EU, in particular Istvan Simon's of July 25h, which included a reference to an article about the Czech elections of last fall.

        I have just returned from 10 weeks in Prague, a city in a country which is very easy to live in. I have learned a little Czech, but am not fluent enough to read the newspapers or to converse in anything except English (which many speak fluently; the woman who owns the hotel where we stay speaks five languages). My wife and I have been able to befriend a number of people, including some very distant cousins. I have been engaged in several discussions about "immigrants," but I don't really see a problem there. As an aside, I also don't see real problems about immigration in the US--most of what I see and read here (thanks to the Fake News of the Republican Party and the Murdoch Empire) is, frankly, nonsense, in my opinion. For example, a few years ago I was visiting relatives in South Dakota, and ran across a newspaper article and a radio broadcast in which there was concern about imposition of Sharia courts in the US. C'mon folks--think for yourselves--how is that ever going to happen here in any way? All of my ancestors were immigrants, by definition, and many of my neighbors are also. Immigrants have a constructive place here. I don't see a problem in the Czech Republic, either, but the topic is a significant part of conversation, as a result of decisions by the European Union that the Czech Republic accept a quota of immigrants.


        I've never seen a discussion of one aspect I observe about the European Union, which is that it seems portrayed as a bloc of fairly homogeneous states. I don't recall seeing significant discussion about the variety in size (both areas and populations), military history, economic power, religious backgrounds, governance, etc., etc. between the various members. In particular, there is a wide variety in the histories and cultures of the different countries. For example, some (Great Britain, France, Spain, etc.) were overtly colonial powers at one time. All of these former colonial powers exist in some way on the European continent now, but the empires are gone. In contrast, the Czech Republic is a young country formed only in 1993, upon the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, which in turn had been established in 1918. However, Czech culture goes back 1000 years or more, including a kingdom of Bohemia, which by the 1500s was incorporated into the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It's not my area of expertise, but I think the latter would also be considered a colonial power. However, the Czechs were more colonized than colonizers. By the late 19th century, they were agitating for independence, which finally happened after the Austro-Hungarian Empire ended up on the losing side of World War I. They were able to begin to develop their own culture for the next 20 years, until the German occupation. Then after the war there were two years before the communists took over, which became the national identity, rather than a "Czech" focus, which was suppressed in various ways. For the past 25 years they have again been able to operate with a Czech identity, and my sense is that this is important to them.


        I wonder if much of the immigration discussion today is the result of a lot of decisions made over many years by the European colonizing powers (including Russia) plus the US. One can understand why there are people of Asian or African descent in London, or Arabs in Paris, or Czechens in Moscow. Germany needed manpower after WWII, and in the 1960s began welcoming Turkish guest workers. The Czechs did expel the German minority after WWII (a topic for another time), but they haven't done anything to cause the current Arab immigrant "problem." Why are they being forced to be part of the solution?


        Istvan's post referenced an article published last fall. Since then, Babiš was elected Prime minister in October. However, he was unable to form a governing coalition until June, which then included the Communist Party. It's still too early to see where that's going, but none of the people I spoke with were happy about the latter. As one of my cousins said, "Didn't we learn anything during the years 1948-1992?"


        JE comments:  The Poles (and I presume, the Hungarians) are also of the "we didn't cause the refugee problem, why should we solve it?" mentality.  The question is whether one considers the present wave of immigration a punishment for colonial transgressions, or a humanitarian imperative.  How about seeing immigration as a positive that can bring in diversity, expertise and even wealth?


        Ahoj Paul, your ten weeks in Prague are the longest visit ever!  I presume you and Jan made great strides in language proficiency.  A question:  you've been traveling each year to the Czech Republic for a decade or more.  What changes have you noticed over these years?

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        • In Praise of the Czechs (Istvan Simon, USA 07/28/18 4:10 PM)
          Many thanks to Paul Pitlick (July 27th) for his interesting observations on visiting the Czech Republic. I would like to add a few thoughts to his excellent post.

          For as long as I can remember I have been an admirer of this wonderful little country, whose people have customs and culture so close to my heart. I see the Czechs as amazing freedom-loving people, so deserving of admiration, high-achieving in every field of human activity, politically so "just right," who peacefully but forcefully resisted all the despots who oppressed them, from Hitler to the communists. A country of culture, the Czechs love freedom and music. They have always produced first-rate musicians and composers Dvorak, Smetana, Janacek. Their love of music goes back hundreds of years.


          No country treated Mozart better than the Czechs did. Shamefully, Mozart's own country Austria treated him much worse. His operas were huge successes in Prague, while often being sabotaged by the Italian mafia that controlled the Vienna Opera House at the time. Don Giovanni was premiered in Prague and was an immediate huge success. In Vienna it was received with less enthusiasm. His Prague symphony was first performed in Prague on Mozart's first visit to the city.


          There is no doubt that Prague is one of the loveliest cities of Europe, beautiful and charming, with its distinctive characteristic and very picturesque architecture, on the Vtlava river, with the beautiful views of the Prague Castle, the Charles bridge, and multiple lovely landmarks the Astronomical Clock, great Museums, the monument to the victims of the Nazi occupation and many others.


          The Czech are tolerant, democratic, cultured, fun-loving wonderful people. It is always a great pleasure to visit this admirable country.


          So we must ask how is it that a freedom-loving country, normally so tolerant of diversity, respectful of all minorities, that has always welcomed Jews, who had the extraordinary moral giant and statesman Vaclav Havel its president for so long, who was an example for the whole world of what a politician should look like, how is it that a country like that elected an intolerant Prime Minister like Babis? The distance between Havel and Babis is like the distance between the Earth and the moon.


          I of course do not have an answer to my own question, but we can try some educated speculation. The anti-immigrant frenzy in the Czech Republic was fomented by President Milos Zeman, himself light years away from the greatness of Vaclav Havel. Though Zeman did his utmost best (or worst) to whip up anti-immigrant sentiment, we still must ask why such intolerance found resonance in the country?


          I think that part of the answer may be the sheer number of Muslim immigrants that shocked the people of the Czech Republic and Hungary. The sudden arrival of tens thousands of such refugees disrupted normal life in these small countries. Both Hungary and the Czech Republic have a total population of about 10 million people. The residents of Prague are a mere 1.3 million people. While this does not justify their reaction, still one can at least try to understand that the arrival of thousands of foreigners with strange customs felt to them like an invasion of unwanted foreigners. Had their number been much smaller, I feel that they would have been welcomed. After all this is the country that gave an example to the world on how to handle "divorce" in a civilized way in the violence-free breakup of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.


          JE comments:  A glowing Czech-up from Istvan Simon!  (No more puns today, I promise.)  Can Babis be compared to the ultra-Right firebrand Orban, or to Poland's PiS, or is he more of a "Velvet" demagogue?  I know very little about him other than his wealth ($4 billion).

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    • Is the EU-Soviet Analogy Valid? (John Heelan, UK 07/25/18 5:20 AM)
      In answer to Nigel Jones's good analysis of July 24th, JE questioned Nigel's comparison of the EU to the old Soviet Union: "Where are the EU Gulags, secret police, travel restrictions, and single-party rule?"

      Maybe that was the wrong question, revealing some ignorance of life in the EU. The "Gulags" house the majority of the Muslim immigrants awaiting deportation--these places are called something more PR-worthy, although "Detention Centres" is still pretty robust.


      Then there is "single-party rule." Some might consider that the EU has only one party composed of all the MEPs, Commissioners, and apparatchiks on the lucrative (for them) EU gravy train and combining into ideological groupings to vote in Strasbourg.


      See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_groups_of_the_European_Parliament#Current_composition_of_the_8th_European_Parliament


      Then there are the confusing bureaucratic restrictions placed on MEPs by the EU Commission, the EU court system, the EU Central Bank, the Eurozone, the unelected European Council that uses the specious argument that because its member have been elected in their own countries, the EU Council itself is "elected."


      JE comments:  We're forgetting just how horrific life in the Gulags was for millions of Soviet citizens.  I'm presently reading Anne Applebaum's Pulitzer-winning Gulag:  A History (2003).  Her book would quell any thoughts of analogies with the EU.


      Still, the anti-Euroskeptic views we've seen recently on WAIS have all come from outside Europe.  Is a change of attitude (if not of latitude) truly afoot on the Continent?  I hope we'll hear soon from Ángel Viñas, who knows the EU from the inside.

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      • Gulags and the EU (John Heelan, UK 07/26/18 7:42 AM)
        John E commented on 25 July: "We're forgetting just how horrific life in the Gulags was for millions of Soviet citizens."

        Maybe JE is undervaluing WAISers? I wonder how many WAISers have never read Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago or Cancer Ward, and especially his 1976 speeches given to the Americans and British from June 30, 1975 to March 24, 1976--"Warning to the West"?


        In one of his speeches he commented:


        "[A]t the moment the question is not how the Soviet Union will find a way out of totalitarianism but how the West will be able to avoid the same fate."


        Brexit is aimed at "avoiding the same fate" either from the EU itself using a specious form of democracy, or more directly from a Franco-German economic and military alliance.


        Currently there are plans being prepared for a UK Centrist party funded by Big Business.


        JE comments: I would never undervalue WAISers!  All I was trying to do is temper the hyperbole.  You may not like the EU, but compare it to the Soviet Union?  As for totalitarianism, I see greater danger in Orban, Babis, Kaczynski and (ouch) Trump than from faceless bureaucrats in Brussels.


        John, tell us more about the UK's new centrist political party.  What I've read is that it's amply funded, anti-Brexit, and (according to most analysts) doomed to fail.  Remember Jim Hightower's "there's nothing in the Middle of the Road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos"?

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        • UK's New Centrist Party (Tor Guimaraes, USA 07/27/18 4:35 AM)
          In his latest post, John Heelan wrote of "plans being prepared for a UK Centrist party funded by Big Business."

          John Eipper confirmed that the new part is "amply funded, anti-Brexit, and (according to most analysts) doomed to fail."


          What I don't understand is, why would big business be interested in creating another party since they already control the ones operating today?


          Is it just to make people feel they live in a more democratic nation?


          JE comments: Isn't the point that BB [Big Business] doesn't control the UK's present political landscape? Two reasons stand out: Brexit (BB hates uncertainty) and Jeremy Corbyn.  The Liberal Democrats used to occupy the Center, but they have become "irrelevant," "mired in the doldrums," and "dormant."  Why is this so?  Poor leadership is usually cited.  Is that all?

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        • Solzhenitsyn Ten Years Later (Istvan Simon, USA 07/27/18 7:31 AM)
          I disagree with John Heelan's view of Alexander Solzhenitsyn (26 July).

          Solzhenitsyn was a great writer and a great man. But in terms of political ideas he was a troglodyte.  He had much to learn, and never learned it. Solzhenitsyn was a profoundly spiritual yet reactionary man.  So I would say that while he had much to teach us about the Gulag and the worst excesses of the Soviet Union, he had very little to teach us politically otherwise. The very opposite was true. But he was too stubborn and arrogant to learn.


          Solzhenitsyn was uncomfortable with freedom. He yearned for a dominance of the Orthodox Church, and was authoritarian at heart. In this he was very very different from his friend and protector, Mstislav Rostropovich. Rostropovich loved freedom and loved the West. He was full of passion and loved people. Solzhenitsyn was a hermit. He isolated himself from his fellow men, and was profoundly ungrateful for the asylum he received in the US. His political thinking is abhorrent to me. He would be perfectly at home with Putin. In contrast, Rostropovich would never be comfortable with Putin.


          JE comments:  As chance would have it, one week from today is the tenth anniversary of Solzhenitsyn's death (August 3rd, 2008).  At that time, WAIS discussed his life and thinking at length.  See, for example, this post from Cameron Sawyer, who describes the great writer as a gadfly and crank, but not a philosopher in any coherent sense.  Despite our assumption that Solzhenitsyn would be very pro-Putin today, he was actually quite critical.  (Granted, the Putin of 2018 is far different from the Putin of '08.)


          http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=22661&objectTypeId=16911&topicId=1


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    • A Defense of the EU (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 07/25/18 10:33 AM)
      I was reading Nigel Jones's latest post (24 July) where he again presented his bitter resentment against the EU. Nigel repeatedly called the EU, and I quote, "imperialist, undemocratic, totalitarian, dictatorial, corrupt and bureaucratic," among other epithets and apocalyptic judgments such as "it is domed to collapse," or that "it is in chronic and terminal crisis."

      I was not surprised, as most of the Europhobic Europeans repeat pretty much the same arguments to disguise what I suspect are xenophobic motivations.


      The fact is that they so far have not presented any valid or objective argument to convincingly prove that the EU is undemocratic, totalitarian, dictatorial, or corrupt. These are mere rhetorical accusations. The EU organizational structure is not intended to be any of these things, nor is it in practice. I would acknowledge that the critics are right, if such negative "attributes" were ever objectively demonstrated.


      A look at the EU organizational institutions to reveals that they are similar in nature and structure to any other democratic state in Europe, far from being dictatorial or undemocratic. I invite interested people to look carefully into the subject and to correct me if I am wrong.


      You could say the EU is bureaucratic. Yes, perhaps it is. But which nation-state government structure is not? Is England any different? You could also say the EU is imperialist. Yes, maybe in a very broad sense, as a supranational state, but not in the infamous sense that old European states were, such as the British Empire.


      The most likely reason for the negative opposition to the EU in some countries in Europe, where nationalism and political populism are on the rise, is a combination of these factors: fear of immigration, xenophobic feelings, and particularly Islamophobia. Those are the ingredients feeding nationalism in the sense I have already explained in previous WAIS posts. They are expressions of supremacy, feelings of being superior or at least superiorly different. That was the main reason for the success of Brexit.


      Please do not get me wrong, I like and respect Great Britain, I have some close British friends, and from them I know that some are Europhobic and others are not. They explained their reason for supporting Brexit was the uncontrolled and massive African and Islamic immigration. I agreed that fearing foreigners, their unknown cultures, their failure to integrate, as well as the threat of destroying the roots, employment situation, and basic national identities are challenges which most societies are not well prepared to cope with. There have been mistakes in EU policies dealing with this major problem, but should we blame only the EU or are European governments and their respective societies the ones who should be responsible for dealing with the problem?


      Of course there are other economic arguments that are cited in criticizing the EU, but those are far from being convincing to discredit the fact that Europe as a whole, North and South, is now and thanks to the EU is more advanced and better off than 40 or 50 years ago.


      JE comments:  So we can call the EU somewhat liberal and democratic?  José Ignacio Soler goes to the heart of the matter:  is Euroskepticism really xenophobia in disguise (or not in disguise)?  We've seen both positions argued on WAIS.  One emerging trend in Eastern Europe seems to be, "Hell yes, we're xenophobic."


      I'd like to focus more on the trade-off between an additional layer of stupefying bureaucracy and the benefits of standardized norms and laws.  It may be harder to certify your widget both at home and in Brussels, but when you do so you can sell it anywhere in the EU.  How, I wonder, will Brexit impact this?

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      • Euroskeptics Are Not Xenophobic (Nigel Jones, UK 07/28/18 4:37 AM)
        I wonder if José Ignacio Soler (July 25th) is now, or has ever been, employed by the EU?

        Because they and the politicians are about the only people who still support this manifestly failing organisation. Full disclosure please!


        Obviously, José's suspicion that I am xenophobic is absurd. As I have frequently said on WAIS, I have a half- French daughter and a half- Austrian son, and have spent a decade living and working in Europe.


        Why can't EU supporters get their heads around the fact that to oppose the openly undemocratic EU is not to be anti-European? Quite the reverse!


        The EU is a lousy and outdated system dreamed up by a couple of French civil servants in the 1940s. It no longer suits us and has merely become the mask for Merkel's Fourth Reich.


        If the EU is as wonderful as José believes, perhaps he can explain why voters across Europe are voting against it. Next up Sweden in early September, where the Swedish Democrats will become the largest party.


        I repeat: the EU has had its day and I glory in its death.


        JE comments:  I'm quite sure that José Ignacio (Nacho) Soler isn't on the EU payroll.  As for xenophobia, Nacho was referring to Euroskeptic anti-immigration (read anti-Muslim) sentiment, not feelings of antipathy among "natives" of the Member States.  But I'll let Nacho respond for himself.

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        • Euroskepticism, Immigration, and Assimilation (John Heelan, UK 07/29/18 5:09 AM)
          JE commented on 28 July: "As for xenophobia, José Ignacio Soler was referring to Euroskeptic anti-immigration (read anti-Muslim) sentiment, not feelings of antipathy among 'natives' of the Member States."

          I am Euroskeptic for the reasons that Nigel Jones argues, but not anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim. I am sad that many recent waves of immigrants have not assimilated themselves into British society as did previous waves (e.g. the Windrush generation--I played cricket with many Caribbean team members and against completely Caribbean teams). They were/are great people whose joie de vivre is catching. The same thing could be said about the waves of Indian/Pakistani immigrants who have become the backbone of small businesses in the UK.


          Recent waves from Eastern Europe and further South exporting their unemployed (thanks to Schengen) are more likely to be economic migrants seeking support from the living benefits, health services and sometimes accommodation offered by the Lady Bountiful UK government. (I except from that criticism Poles that I have met who usually seem to be hardworking. We have many Poles working and running businesses on the Isle of Wight--a measure is the ready availability of Polish delicatessens and newspapers.)


          Those immigrants I do object to are economic migrants and those whose religious communities are more important than integrating into the wider national community and thus have no intention so doing. It is noticeable that those local communities are often centred on their mosques whose building and Imams are funded by Saudi oil money from Wahhabi and Salafist sponsors. These places are becoming hotbeds of jihadism. Similar to the Windrush generation(s), immigrants do the lower-skilled jobs that Brits would not touch--many here on the Island work in the massive greenhouses producing early crops and in crowded accommodations and are preyed on by gang-masters, often their own countrymen.


          JE comments:  I absolutely agree about Polish people.  We often laugh at WAIS HQ that Poles can only relax when they're working.  Regarding the assimilation question, isn't it a truism that immigrants have always been criticized for failing to integrate themselves into the host culture?  In the US context, the "if only they would try to fit in" lament has been applied successively to Germans, Irish, Italians, Poles, Puerto Ricans, and so on.  And when a new group comes in, the previous pariah group is suddenly promoted to the status of "good" immigrant.


          Do I oversimplify?  Next:  José Ignacio Soler responds to Nigel Jones.

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        • Euroskepticism and Xenophobia Again (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 07/29/18 5:55 AM)
          In response to Nigel Jones's 28 July post on the EU, first of all, I should perhaps apologize to him when I called Europhobes fundamentally xenophobic. I was not trying to be offensive or rude; however I still believe this to be the case.

          Answering Nigel's question about if I ever was employed by the EU, I have never been. I am only an ordinary citizen who has traveled all over Europe. I do not believe it is necessary to work for the EU to perceive (as a curious observer) the obvious economic and social benefits of EU membership for most countries. In a continent with a long history of conflicts, wars as well as social, political and economic disputes, the elimination of borders is a success to me, not a failure. Besides, I am still waiting for Nigel to present any valid or objective argument to convincingly demonstrate that the EU is undemocratic, totalitarian, dictatorial, or corrupt. In the meantime, his accusations, I insist, remain chiefly rhetorical.


          The full consolidation success of the EU remains to be seen. Nevertheless it is evident that even in the so-called poorest member countries, standards of living have increased, and every member of the EU has benefited since its creation--even the British, the Germans and the French. To achieve a national identity is another matter, because the diversity of cultures is too strong.


          I believe it was never intended for the EU to be a consolidated supranational state, a "nation" with only one national identity. To transform a set of extremely different cultures and languages into such an entity would be a utopia, a miracle, and if ever possible, it would take ages, a very long time. However it is understandable that the EU is intended to consolidate itself as a supranational institution. It is also logical that many European citizens perceive this as an intrusion and even perhaps a loss of their own sovereignty. Is there not always some price to pay for the sake of peace, general well-being and mutual benefits?


          Nigel asked, "Why can't EU supporters get their heads around the fact that to oppose the openly undemocratic EU is not to be anti-European? Quite the reverse!" I never made the claim that being anti-EU it is to be anti-European!  What I meant is, I repeat, the most likely reason for the negative opposition to the EU in some countries is a combination of fear of immigration, particularly African and Islamic, resulting in strong xenophobic feelings, because of the supposedly humanitarian immigration policies of the EU. That is the case in Hungary, Italy, France, Germany, perhaps Poland (?), and Great Britain, where nationalistic-xenophobic political movements are on the rise. I believe that is not the case in Spain--yet!--despite of the recent waves of uncontrolled immigration.


          Perhaps the EU policies regarding immigration are wrong. Sometimes I have doubts myself, but this fact does not fully discredit the EU´s achievements.


          A final reflection. I always had the felling the Europeans, in a general sense, seem to be xenophobic, even racist in many ways, despite it is very difficult to think of a pure race or a "pure" nation in Europe. Europeans are mostly mestizos, mixed-race or multicultural states, the product of centuries of immigration, invasions, conquest and shifting borders. Take my family blood line for instance. I am from Spain, but I have certainly genes from Romans, Greeks, Jews, Arabs, Irish, Germans, French, etc. How could I despise any of them?


          Traditionally, in the past and very likely in the present, the British used to despise the French, the French rejected Spaniards, Spaniards rejected the British, Germans rejected Italians, Italians despised Croatians, the Polish despised...Russians? And so on! Is it not time to leave behind and overcome this atavistic resentment and nationalistic feelings?


          JE comments:  If the EU implodes, then what?  The re-establishment of borders and national currencies is the obvious answer.  Germany and Russia would then vie for continental hegemony, with France thinking it is also taking part.  Who would benefit from this, other than Vladimir Putin?


          Ed Jajko weighs in next, with a historical perspective on Eastern Europe's Islamophobia.


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          • The "New Illiberal International": John Lloyd in "New Statesman" (Nigel Jones, UK 07/30/18 12:41 PM)

            By way of answering José Ignacio Soler (July 29th), may I pray in aid an article that has just appeared in the left-wing UK weekly The New Statesman by John Lloyd, an eminent left-wing journalist (now an editor on the Financial Times)?


            I can't find a link but it can be easily accessed by Googling its title "The illiberal international."  It will tell anyone who is interested why the
            EU is doomed. And it has not been killed: It has committed suicide. RIP.


            JE comments:  Try the link below.  The term "illiberal democracy" is from Hungary's Viktor Orbán, who waxed admiringly about the economic progress of what I take to be his model nation-states:  Singapore, China, India, Turkey, and Russia.  The leaders of this new anti-immigration "axis," in Lloyd's view, are Kurz (Austria), Orbán, and Salvini (Italy).  Let's throw in Babis and parts of Poland, and you have the old Habsburg Empire.


            The first two "Internationals" (Communist and then Fascist) didn't fare so well.  Is there any reason the Illiberal International will turn out differently?


            https://www.newstatesman.com/world/2018/07/new-illiberal-international

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            • The "New Illiberal International": Will the Austro-Hungarian "Axis" Destroy the EU? (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 08/01/18 3:43 AM)
              Nigel Jones (30 July) forwarded an article titled "The Illiberal International," by John Lloyd.  I read the essay. Please forgive me, but I do not see the relevance of this article for Nigel's intended purpose of answering my previous post. But thanks anyway to Nigel.

              The core of the article seems to address the threat of an EU collapse through the actions of the so-called populist illiberal democracies in Hungary, Austria and Italy, as well as Poland, together with Brexit and support from Mr Trump. However, the question I proposed to Nigel J and John E (which were directly related to Nigel's arguments) was that: a) the main motivation for Europhobia was the immigration problem, xenophobia and racism, and b) I challenged Nigel to give direct evidence of his rhetorical accusations against the EU as undemocratic, totalitarian, dictatorial, or corrupt.


              Regarding xenophobia and racism (point a), I believe the Lloyd article precisely reinforces this argument. From my understanding of the article and recent public events, the rising populist-nationalistic-xenophobic-racist-illiberal-authoritarian political movements in those countries are mainly and strongly motivated by such feelings. On my second point b), nothing is said in the article.


              As for Nigel's hope, the final collapse of the EU, this remains to be seen. I agree there is an obvious crisis, to deny it would be foolish, but to clearly declare and inexorably anticipate the end is another matter.


              JE comments:  José Ignacio Soler has found the Mother of All Compound Adjectives:  populist-nationalistic-xenophobic-racist-illiberal-authoritarian political movements.  Speaking of hyphenization, I nonchalantly wrote "Austro-Hungarian Axis" in the subject line here, to refer to the illiberal governments of Kurz and Orbán.  Then I proofread and had a eureka event:  "Wait a minute:  we've seen that compound adjective before..."


              It could be a coincidence--or not?--that the old Hapsburg nations are leading the illiberal charge.  But we historical types cannot fail to notice the irony of Modern Europe's original multi-lingual, multi-ethnic empire turning so sharply inward.  (Note that the American First Lady is also from a Habsburg nation--Slovenia.)


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    • Eastern Europe and the Ottoman Threat (Edward Jajko, USA 07/29/18 7:05 AM)
      Commenting on Nigel Jones's posting of July 24 on the "totalitarianism" of the EU, I note his following paragraph (and I put his word in quotation marks to indicate simply that I am quoting him, and not by way of critical opinion):

      "In Eastern and Central Europe, the situation is much the same, and fear and resentment at the EU's attempts to offload millions of unwanted and mainly Muslim migrants from the Middle East on them, has led to the election of populist right-wing parties fiercely determined to resist the EU diktat in Poland, the Czech republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria and--most strongly of all--in Istvan Simon's native Hungary."


      Traditionally, Europeans have scorned Americans' knowledge of and appreciation of history (not without reason, but with too-great condescension). One thing that has fascinated me from the beginning of the mass migration from the largely Islamic Middle East, the resistance in certain countries of Europe, the more than welcoming arms of Angela Merkel and Germany, and the contumely against certain "right-wing" regimes, is how this all betrays a loss of historical sense and identity in Europe.


      The states that Nigel lists, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria, and Hungary, that now face EU and German opprobrium, were the states that confronted and bore the brunt of the attacks of the Ottoman Empire over the span of centuries. (Well, maybe not the Czechs.) Those attacks, wars, sieges, and occupations, were the previous mass movements of many thousands of people from the Middle East into Europe.


      Poland, the intermarium state, was for centuries the frontier between Turkey and Europe. In 1683, the year-long siege of Vienna by an Ottoman army under vizier Kara Mustafa was relieved by the success of Polish and other forces led by king Jan Sobieski. Istvan can attest, I believe, that the Ottoman battles of Mohacs and their occupation of Hungary live in the memories of Hungarians.


      But what is now German territory was never touched by Ottoman armies. The closest Germany got to the Ottoman armies, or vice versa, was the short popularity of Musica alla turca. Germans seem even to have forgotten the anti-Turkish fulminations of Martin Luther.


      The new European might say that was then; this is now; the world has changed and moved on. But events linger in national memory for centuries. A good example of that may be found in the analysis by the late Bernard Lewis, "License to kill: Usama bin Ladin's declaration of jihad," in the November-December, 1998, issue of Foreign Affairs, of UBL's declaration of war "against Crusaders and Jews" that had been published on February 23 of the same year in the London newspaper al-Quds al-‘Arabi. Lewis is considered by some as showing too high a regard for UBL as student of philosophy or Islam, but his translation, summaries, and analysis show that UBL and his followers had a world view and historical reference points, well remembered, that differed in toto from those of the West.


      JE comments:  It's always important to take the long view.  I wonder, however, whether a collective Hungarian memory of Ottoman occupation actually persists, or whether it is stirred up by present-day political interests.  I suspect a combination of both.  Istvan Simon grew up in postwar Hungary.  I hope he can shed light on this.


      Spain's identity was also forged from the clash of Christianity and Islam, yet it is not following the rightward turn of the Central European states.  It's hard to say why.

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      • Euroskepticisms in Central and Eastern Europe (Tom Hashimoto, UK 07/30/18 3:49 AM)

        Living in Poland and Lithuania, I have a slightly different point of view on Euroscepticisms (yes, plural) in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).


        First, let us not forget that the policy to accept the refugees from Syria etc., was considered "imposed" by the EU, and most notably, Germany. Anti-German sentiment persists, especially in Poland when it comes to EU-wide policies. This is one of the reasons why many ordinary Poles resist adopting the Euro, as having their own currency is considered a symbol of independence.


        Then, there is a bit of "competition" among CEE countries. If Hungary can successfully resist taking refugees, why shouldn't Poland? It sounds childish, but losing this "competition" is often taken as a weakness by domestic opposition parties. No governing parties would risk that, I reckon.


        Regarding Edward Jajko's CEE-Ottoman history (29 July), I disagree when it comes to Poland. In the mind of Poles, we defeated them in Vienna. What is considered an "invasion" is more religious. Poland is largely Catholic and conservative. Those "infidels" roaming around the street is not a view they would like to accept. Yes, there is an element of racism, but many refugees (or even ordinary migrants) trying to enter CEE often come from a lower class, as those who have skills try to migrate to Germany or Scandinavia. So, CEE is their second choice. Coming from a lower class, in addition to persistent sexism, some migrants and refugees (yes, an emphasis on "some") harassed local girls--and a small number of examples were enough to make a sweeping general judgement against them.


        To its credit, the Church, in accordance with a letter from the Pope, tried to show compassion to the refugees, hosting them in their chapels and residences. But alas, the Church is not necessarily good at PR campaigns.


        Many argue that refusing the refugees is hypocritical, as many refugees from CEE moved to the rest of the world during the war. But they would say they did not go to Syria...


        For some reason, the Lebanese seem to do well in Poland (at least in Warsaw). I suspect that Lebanese succeeded in marketing their high culture (especially cuisine), and this might be a way out for the Syrians.


        JE comments:  So good to hear from you, Hashimoto-sensei.  Are you still making the monthly flight to Vilnius?  Could you give us an update on the Baltic "take" on immigration, the EU crisis, and especially the Putin-Trump show?

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      • Ottoman Hungary and Collective Memory (Istvan Simon, USA 07/30/18 4:13 AM)
        It is always a pleasure to read my friend Ed Jajko's WAIS posts.

        Ed (29 July) is correct about the Turks and Hungary. Hungary suffered over 150 years of Turkish occupation. The first battle of Mohacs on August 29, 1526 was lost by Hungary, and eventually led to the Turkish occupation of most of Hungary. King Louis II died in the battle.


        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Moh%C3%A1cs


        The second battle of Mohacs (1687) resulted in a decisive victory of Hungary.


        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Moh%C3%A1cs_(1687)


        These battles are indeed taught to Hungarians (I was aware of this as a 10-year-old), though I did not not know much more about it than the name of the second battle, and that it resulted in a major Hungarian victory. Hungarians are taught that we saved the rest of Europe from the Turks. As Ed's post showed, this is not quite accurate, but it is what Hungarians learn.


        Ed's post suggests that the historical memory of these battles might account for the anti-Muslim sentiment in Eastern Europe. This is a deep idea, but how valid is it?


        Regarding Hungary for example, the Turkish occupation of Hungary ended over 300 years ago. I do not think that there is much anti-Turkish sentiment left after that long-ago history. One could argue that much more recent atrocities committed by Germany and Russia would be remembered more by Hungarians. Yet I think that Hungarians understand the difference between Nazi Germany and today's Germany, and even the difference between communist Russia and Russia under Putin's dictatorship. Putin's rule of Russia is awful, but it does not rise to the level of the horrors under Lenin, Stalin and their communist successors.


        Then there is the issue that not all Muslims are created equal, that there are marked differences between the various flavors of Islam in the Middle East. It seems implausible to me that all of that would be associated with the Turkish occupation of Hungary more than three centuries ago.


        JE comments:  Collective memory must be refreshed or it turns to amnesia, and Hungary's rulers are staying busy with the history lessons.  I Googled "Orban Ottoman rule" and came up with this piece from 2015:


        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/09/04/hungarys-orban-invokes-ottoman-invasion-to-justify-keeping-refugees-out/?utm_term=.7cb3ce0c57b3


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      • History as a Grievance Map? From Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 07/30/18 5:11 AM)

        Gary Moore writes:



        My thanks to Edward Jajko for his reminder (July 29) about "historical reference points"
        in oppositional thinking.


        Ed's example is Usama bin Laden declaring war in 1998
        on "Crusaders and Jews," thus referencing grievances centuries in the past as the
        warrant for his destructiveness. Obvious? In fact, this insight may lead much farther,
        to at last supply the needed iron in frustratingly weak classroom axioms about why
        we should study history, axioms saying, with zombie-like illogic: "So it won't repeat itself."


        Perhaps not exactly a contempt for history but a passive reliance on cant is behind
        our frequent inability to articulate the worth. In my research into the Lynching Era,
        a lair repugnantly morbid to some, vanishingly trivial to others, one hears repeatedly
        the argument (dead in the water almost before it's uttered), that "we should study
        these things so history won't repeat itself." That always gets politically correct nods
        of assent--and a nugget of truth is in there somewhere--but anybody can see that history,
        however serendipitous and eerie at times, is no mechanical repeater, where we have
        to be good or the boogey man will come back. Pondering Edward's thought, it seems
        to me the limp remonstrance ("so it won't repeat itself") is in part actually trying to say
        what he said: that perceived history becomes a mental web of reference points, which
        both politics and personal demons can use as a battle standard, with many of us drawn
        to the exciting call--if we don't know the real history.


        History as grievance map? Of course, it's not going to stop the fantasizing if we know
        the reality it distorts, a historical reality that may mix real grievances with pompous myths.
        But somehow the attempt to know what's really there helps retrieve us from Usama's brink.
        Is this why the classroom admonitions remain so wan and vague--the difficulty of explaining
        the word "civilized"?


        "Lorraine is ours!" "Sarajevo was stolen!" "The circle closes!"
        Murky reference points. Large century of world war.


        JE comments:  So Santayana's dictum can just as well be turned on its head:  the best way to ensure that history does repeat itself is to remember it--more precisely, to remember the "useful" parts.  There's a massive and depressing book to be written about political figures who stir up history to serve their agendas.  Chapters would cover revanchism, ethnic cleansing, and "make X great again" nostalgia.


        Perhaps Henry Ford was on to something...?

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        • Those Who Stir Up History (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 07/31/18 4:32 AM)

          Gary Moore writes:



          Is there an umbrella term to cover JE's great insight (July 30)
          on Ed Jajko's "historical reference points" in the "grievance map"
          (my own term) of history?


          JE envisioned the mystery topic as being
          cataloged in a hypothetical book, which would segment the subject
          into related sub-topics, including revanchism, ethnic cleansing. and
          "make X (nation) great again" (that last category could touch the pre-World War I fantasized "Greaters"--Greater Serbia, Greater Greece,
          others; and it brings in Wallace's "revitalization movement" concept).


          But what is the overall name of such a book? Is its central theme,
          as John suggests, the selective use of history to rationalize aggression,
          as casus belli? Well, is there a casus belli that does not use history?
          Is "grievance collecting" as seen on an individual psychopathological
          level, merely writ large in politics? This niche should have a name.
          Shouldn't it? What's the larger kind of behavior or thinking that
          revanchism et al. is a part of?


          Anthony F. C. Wallace made a great start
          in his study of Native American nations, once powerful but overwhelmed,
          that developed magical revitalization movements (the Dance of the
          Lakes almost skewed the War of 1812; later Ghost Dancers were more
          pathetic), and they were less heroic in such power-recovery rites
          as killing their dogs or burning witches ("Wretched delusion!" cried
          even Ole Tippecanoe).


          Language seems such an humble, tangential tool when confronting the
          great hatreds. But could conquest of mere looseness in language be much
          of the ballgame? Could taxonomy be not just the beginning of understanding,
          but the User's Manual?


          What's the name?
          History And Hate? Historical Projection? Historical Rationalization?
          Close. But this ain't horseshoes.


          JE comments: Gary, I can't think of a good book title, but here are a few (possibly) adequate ones: Our Past, Our Beef, Let's Pause and Remember that We're Angry, and a version for younger readers, My Big Saber-Rattlin' Book of Grievances!


          I was unfamiliar with Anthony F. C. Wallace's "revitalization moments," but it's a very useful concept.  Here's a definition:


          Revitalization movement. In 1956, a revitalization movement is a "deliberate, organized, conscious effort by members of a society to construct a more satisfying culture" (p. 265), and Wallace describes at length the processes by which a revitalization movement takes place.

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          • Timothy McVeigh, Turner Diaries, and "My Big Saber-Rattlin' Book of Grievances" (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 08/04/18 4:33 AM)

            Gary Moore writes:



            When I asked for suggestions on what to name a book on the intentional manipulation of history, John E came up with a version for young readers:  My Big Saber-Rattlin' Book of Grievances. Inspired!


            When Timothy McVeigh went to baleful Christian Identity gun-nut conventions,
            he had a nice table peddling a book, The Turner Diaries, by a nut-case physicist
            who luxuriated in visions of racial extermination, via righteous mass lynchings
            on a "day of the rope." But Tim missed a bet. Where was his retail display for
            that masterwork of literature, "My Big Saber-Rattlin' Book of Grievances,"
            and its should-have-been-author, Tim McVeigh?


            And (very last): Anthony F. C. Wallace's work is a key to understanding blow-up-the-world
            movements, showing the universality of a simple equation: anarchism = disastrous
            magical thinking. Kill all the whites (plus our dogs and old women), and the buffalo
            will magically come back (plus even our dead warriors from the grave).


            Okay, got the dog killed? Great. Now hold your breath, Wait for the buffalo...


            JE comments:  MBSRBoG should include a chapter on collective "doubling down":  if half-baked idea X doesn't yield the prophesied results, then try 2X or 3X --slaughter more dogs, sacrifice more victims on the pyramid, send in additional troops...

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