Tuesday 28 September 2010
The winter of bureaucrats
History moves in mysterious ways its wonders to perform; it always has. It’s like the tension between tectonic plates: for prolonged periods, for generations even, little seems to be happening on the surface, at least anything of any significance, until the underlying pressures can no longer be contained, with earth-shattering consequences.
The revolution of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the revolution which brought the end of communism across the whole of the old Soviet block was an event of unparalleled significance, I have little doubt the most important historical event in the lives of most who may come across this blog. It was as significant in its own way as the European revolutions of 1848, as significant…and as disappointing.
The fall of communism offered the prospect of a new birth of freedom, as well as an opportunity for a new and better understanding of Russia, emerging from decades of sclerotic bureaucratic tyranny. But the springtime of peoples was smothered in a new blanket of bureaucratic tyranny, softer but no less invidious, in the onward advance of the European Union, not anti-democratic, just post-democratic. It’s the one-dimensional Europe of the one-dimensional man, something anticipated long ago in the thinking of Herbert Marcuse.
Not only this but also the opportunity for a better understanding with Russia was squandered by a process of gung-ho pseudo-imperialism which saw Western expansion into Eastern Europe. It saw the support of various ‘coloured’ revolutions which had the effect of belittling and humiliating one of the most important nations in Europe, deliberately so, it seems to me. The consequences of this could be clearly seen in the conflict between Russia and Georgia, a piece of adventurism on the part of the latter, encouraged by the irresponsibility and ignorance of the European Union and NATO. If the Putin state is a Frankenstein monster, something I have little doubt over, it is our Frankenstein monster.
These thoughts were brought in reading a first class feature article in the Mail on Sunday by Peter Hitchens, who reports from Sebastopol (The world’s most absurd city.) Sebastopol is part of the republic of Ukraine, though its inhabitants, like most of the inhabitants of the Crimean Peninsula on which it stands, are of Russian ethnic origin.
The thing that Hitchens neglects to mention is that although the Crimea is geographically part of the Ukraine it was politically part of Russia, at least until it was ‘gifted’ away by Khrushchev and the then leadership of the Soviet Union in 1954. Hence the absurd situation where few in Sebastopol, the main city, speak any Ukrainian, though they are obliged to have street sign in Ukrainian, just as the schools are obliged to teach Ukrainian history, which has been given a distinctly anti-Russian slant. The whole thing is bizarrely absurd, a potential source of future trouble, all the more worrying because Sebastopol continues to be an important base for the Russian as well as the Ukrainian navies.
Hitchens makes reference to the ‘New Cold War’ in which Russia was cast as the enemy, a war in which ‘we’, the European Union, were going to extend ‘our’ rule deep into former Soviet lands;
Well, if there was such a war, we are losing it because ‘our’ side is misguided and wrong, and because it was always absurd to try to dislodge Russia from the great plains of the Ukraine and the shores of the Black Sea. In this part of the world Russia just is. You might as well try and shift the Himalayas with a bulldozer.
I completely agree with his assessment that our treatment of Russia since the fall of communism has been unbelievably stupid and crude. It was this stupidity that created Putin, Hitchens continues, and his shady, corrupt state. Russia was never a threat to our freedom. While we watched the bear dance liberty here and across the rest of the Continent was being eroded by the ghastly apparatchiks in Brussels in their relentless pursuit of uniformity where there is only difference. The promise of 1989 has been betrayed. The springtime of peoples has turned into the winter of bureaucrats.