Monday 24 February 2020

Did the end of the Soviet Bloc prefigure the end of the European Union?

I just read Robert Service's The Cold War 1985-91 but I wouldn't recommend it, gentle reader. It is not badly written, but bored me by concentrating on the details of Russian-US diplomacy rather than the things that led Gorbachev to change the USSR. It's good narrative history, using the archives, but does not have interesting insights into the deep causes of the end of Marxism-Leninism. If you like historians to provide zinger aphorisms, they aren't here. 

Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev are the heroes, of course. Mrs Thatcher and President Mitterand have impressive minor roles.

There are lots of parallels between the 1980s and now which have an Alice in Wonderland quality. Then Hungary stood out from the Warsaw Pact countries because of Kadar's supposed liberalism (he was a KGB agent all the time, though Dr Service does not mention this), now she stands out from the European Union because of Viktor Orban's Toryism. China, then as now, was seeking to expand her influence in Eastern Europe.

There is much in common between Mikhail Gorbachev's relations with his Eastern European allies and the reception Western Europe gives nowadays to Donald Trump. I see plenty of parallels between the two great reformers. Will Donald Trump end up starring in commercials for Pizza Hut?

The increasing integration of the EEC was a factor that discouraged the Kremlin. The Soviet Union's allies did not want more integration with Comecon but loans from Western Europe. They got them and thereby sealed their fate.

It was the nationalities question, not economics or American power, which brought the USSR to an end, of course. In 1991 George Bush the Elder 
"declined to espouse Ukrainian independence and condemned anyone who decided to 'promote a suicidal nationalism based on ethnic hatred.'"
This disgusted me at the time. Ronald Reagan would not have used such words. It was right both from a  conservative and liberal point of view that Ukraine should be an independent country.

These words from the mouth of an American Republican and theoretical lifelong anti-communist capture the essence of the globalist spirit. It could be Frau Merkel or Herr Juncker talking about Brexit. On the other hand, Bush was being a conservative of a certain type, a sort of perverse Metternichian.

Once the Communists had been the internationalists, but conservatives became internationalists too to defend the world from the Marxists. As communism was defeated by national identity and the war of the Yugoslav Succession began, nationalism replaced Communist Russia as the principle threat in the minds of the international political class who rule the West. 

Democracy won in 1991, but thereafter the masses became the democracies' greatest fear. 


  1. The Bush family have always been elite "educated" - hence their misunderstanding of patriotism, confusing it with "ethnic hatred". Ronald Reagan had an economics degree - but from an ordinary midwestern college which (back in the 1920s) an ordinary person could afford to go to (no government tuition "loans" in those days). And Donald Trump went to Wharton (the Business School) - but in the 1960s before even Business Schools went "Woke". So neither Reagan or Trump were taught that "nationalism" = "ethnic hatred".

    By the way the President of Ukraine is ethnically Jewish - hard for even Moscow to claim that he is really a Nazi motivated by "ethnic hatred". He just wants the Ukraine to be independent - and their is nothing wrong with that.

  2. Funny, Donald already starred in a pizza commercial back in the 90s with his ex-wife.