« The Holy Sepulchre | Main | The Clinton Foundation - warts and all »

23 June 2016


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Absolute power corrupts absolutely, it seems. I will not profess to know all the dynamics involved but I am firm believer in the human penchant to consolidate power and then to work to make everyone fit in the same mold. Sometimes it is by war, other times by the ultimate constrictor, bureaucracy. Your excellent writing is quite an education for me and many thanks for it


Very powerful. The EU's (and the USG's) trick of equating opposition to wage-depressing illegal immigration as the same as advocating racism is a key feature of the new War on Truth.

Babak Makkinejad

Balint Somkuti:

Putin said something to the effect that the leader of a European country (I imagine from Eastern Europe) had confided in him that for years a certain Foreign Embassy had to approve their government's choice for the Defense Minister Portfolio.

Balint Somkuti

Thank you for your kind words.

Nihil novum sub sole. (There is nothing new under the sun.)

We are 'lucky' to be able to see through it. We paid the price for this capability. Soros' open society is nothing more but the old communist dream refashioned.

L Sarik

What is particularly galling about the immigration issue is that the refugee migrants have been caused by the deranged neocon neoliberal policies. NAFTA flooded Mexico with cheap US industrial ag products. It destroyed the livelihood of small Mexican farmers leaving them no choice but to hit the road north.
Same for the hell on earth that neocon policy has caused in the NA/MENA countries from Libya to Afghanistan.
Those Syrians drowning in the Agean could live with Assad, just not with the help they were getting from the R2P nutcases running our foreign policy.
And what's up with NATO? Has it become the private army of the corporate war mongers? Outside and above any government? sure starting to look like it. When the German Foreign Minister is telling NATO to lose the hardon for Russia and Putin, one wonders.


This reminds me of an illuminating book I ran across a few decades ago: "Private Truths, Public Lies" by Kuran.

Discussed are the hysteretic situation when acceptable social paradigms become riddled with contradiction. At first the reaction of elites is to clamp down on heresy. This, of course, drives things further underground until a tipping point is reached...

It's not a feature limited to the abominable communist systems. The road to Hell is truly paved with good intentions. They never stay good for long.


By a strange coincidence the Archdruid weekly post is just about ignoring the lessons of history and extremism inviting backlash, but only after some while:

Gary K

"I, like most of the kids in our yard, developed 'sensors' for unsaid things. Small pauses during a conversation, invisible nods towards the direction of present, but outside hearing range persons, overly zealous speaches about insignificant ideological issues or the opposite going suddenly completely silent about things we used to discuss."

Orwellian at its best. But it is much worse. It is witches brew of massive influx of third-world immigrantion, intolerant oligarchic technocracy, unhinged feminism fueled by anti-white & anti-Christian motivations, a decline of the demographic who made Western civilization and all that the rest of world covets and scams to acquire, et al. It's almost like Camp of the Saints meets Fahrenheit 451... on bath salts.

I was told by a retired friend, who works in background investigations, that he rarely sees a new hire for adjudicator or officer for USCIS that was born in this country. He tells me that the typical USCIS hire is a Latina or a far-left white female with a law degree who volunteered during law school to spend her summers in Central America instructing local how to enter the U.S., where to go, whom to contact to get welfare AND employment. I work in a investigative field and I can attest to the fact is orders of magnitude worse than how the most pessimistic alarmist portrays it.

Babak Makkinejad

:...all that the rest of world covets and scams to acquire..."

Not going to happen, in less than a few hundred years, even then...

Balint Somkuti

very well could be.


Balint Somkuti

The Brexit vote today, Donald Trump’s nomination and the right wing movements in Europe are all a result the colossal failure of the western elite to get their heads out of their asses. They all are a direct result of the loss of family supporting jobs and the influx of refugees from a world at war.

This is not top secret. Washington Post reported that “Hillary Clinton says the economy and government have failed many white, working-class Americans, and that she understands why those workers would respond to the appeals of her likely Republican opponent, Donald Trump”.

Your post is an excellent description of the effects of totalitarianism and the collapse of the Soviet Union. I am fearful that apt historical analogies for today are the French or Bolshevik revolutions. The world economy is teetering in midst of a depression for everyone except the top 5%.

Bill Herschel

I strongly recommend reading the biography of Victor Hugo by Graham Robb. Hugo fought on both sides of post-revolutionary France. He both invented and resembled the nun in Les Misérables who slept in her coffin to be closer to God. What stands out in your post is that corruption doesn't care about a system of government, only about grasping and keeping power. Hugo, who created perhaps the holiest man in literature, the Bishop of Digne, was himself a contemptible miser.

sans racines

As an alternative view, and knowing many Hungarians, having lived there for some time post system-change I would say that it was not a feeling of oppression for everyone - people got by and knew how to work the system, who you needed to know and it was not so different from Western countries in that respect. I know many who remember the former days fondly, not because they were tools of the system - but how to explain this..? Well, at the Sochi olympics I recall the British commentator being surprised or rather incredulous that there seemed to be nostalgia for the old days in the opening(?) ceremony - surely that was just for show, right? Not according to my experience. But Hungary is full of extreme opposites. The political Right vibrantly despises the Left and in general all ills that befell the country were at one time blamed on this Left, and among many in society even (although not publically) possibly a number of obviously rich Jewish figures. My lasting impression is that the mafias did very well whoever was in power and were not challenged, and that politicians of all stripes did very well out of their private business and connections. When the Hungarian Television building was attacked and ransacked by a mob for being perceived as too close to the socialist government a few years ago there was a particular private tv channel that portrayed this bunch of Frodi football team hooligans as freedom fighters, a misconception also taken up by the BBC for a day. It is a Hungarian characteristic to blame the country's problems on external actors, partly justifiable but also partly disengenious as Hungary's actions leading up to these catastrophes are always ignored, in this case Communism, but also Triannon did its part to leave lasting scars on many Hungarians and now many on the Right long for the one time 'Greater Hungary' stretching to the Adriatic, hence the profusion of bumper stickers with Hungary 'made whole' again. But during the real economic boom years in the late 90's and early 00's my overriding impression was that the various governments left or right were not building Hungarian industry with the great influx of Western money. The multinationals moved in, motorways were built, money siphoned off by both politicians and mafias, but where was the nation building - no one was concentrating on this, instead being wrapped up in parochial infighting, this age-old obsession to bicker and find fault in the other party. An opportunity lost I think - Hungary deserved better and for its leaders to rise up out of the old arguments. So finally I would respectfully suggest that to focus on Communism as the defining story of Hungary is too narrow. As a counterpoint I had an experience early in my time in Hungary at a May day celebration where a brown-shirted individual stood in front of a military lorry wearing a red/black armband - this was the Munkas Part or far right worker's party in action. I was outraged - how could this be allowed in modern civil society - this was freedom of expression gone too far. But then this was somewhat accepted and my impression was that the Left had better not say anything about it now that the system had changed... So I believe there is more to Hungary's story than a single facet - there are many threads...



Thanks for your poignant note on the Orwellian nature of a totalitarian state.

A decade and a half ago my neighbor for a few years was a Czech family who fled communist Czechoslovakia with only the shirts on their back. They have told me many stories of the absurdities, the nomenklatura, the oppressiveness and the pitting of social groups to maintain their new class structure. I also recall many conversations I had with young people in Beijing who would approach me to practice their English when I visited China a few times before Deng's liberalization. What I took away from those conversations was the arbitrariness, the system of fear and the complete disregard of individual choice. From schools to education to travel, everything was controlled. Only if you belonged to the nomenklatura did you have the chance to pursue your dreams.

The EU as you note is reminiscent of that system. With 5 unelected presidents, a legislature that can't bring forward any laws but only rubber stamps regulations written by the mandarins in Brussels. And the Commissars receive tax-free wages and benefits that the tax slaves can only envy. Perfectly Soviet in structure. The EU project IMO is a great example of how once a bureaucracy is formed it grows like a cancer and spreads its reach into every nook and cranny. The will of the people never mattered as the apparatchiks amassed ever more power. From the Maastricht treaty to the Nice treaty to the EU constitution and the Lisbon treaty, it didn't matter how people voted. If the desired result was not achieved either people were made to vote again or some other way was found.

Much to my chagrin the US too is well on its way to be an Orwellian state. Here, both the left and right want big and bigger government. And the politicians and bureaucracy happily oblige. Institutional failure means even more power and funding for that institution. The consequence of failure to uncover the 9/11 plot is mass surveillance, arbitrary watch lists, trashing due process and ever increasing powers that a Chekha commissar would have killed for. And not to be outdone the Fed with the charter to regulate banks to insure their soundness, not only instigated and cheerlead the speculation but failed when all the largest banks nearly imploded. This failure was rewarded with even more power and the central planners in the Mariner Eccles building have now gone hog wild and taken on new mandates well beyond their lawful ones. This country, unique in history, with a written constitution that affirmed the rights of individuals and constrained government to protect essential liberty has squandered that legacy. Now, all we are left with is rhetoric of that legacy. Civil forfeiture, the discretionary application of the law for the elites and the nanny state are just few examples of how far down the rabbit hole we've gone. The intensity of the propaganda by the elites enables manufactured consent. They don't yet need the knock on the door at night to keep wayward citizens in line. They're getting close though. Only those who have lived in totalitarian states understand the tyranny. What I find fascinating is how in just a few generations the descendents of those with the greatest vision to date of a free society have voluntarily given up their liberty and now are becoming more and more subjects of the state run by the elites.

Balint Somkuti

And the top 5% is just as ignorant as were the Czar & co, as well as the french nobility. (see If they dont have bread why dont they eat cake?).

Being a historian by profession let me tell you that a revolution is probably the second most ugly and disgusting thing in human history. The first is the situation before a revolution.


power s power. whether it is EU style or Chinese style.

Balint Somkuti

Yes the hungarian communist ruler, Kádár, had a much more lax system, than the other east bloc states. It has rested on two things. The presence of 300 000 soviet troops, and a subtle system of soft coercion, instead of upfront terror, including some channels to let off the steam so to say. He was famously quoted, paraphraseng the Bible (!), ’who is not against us is with us’. Kadar once dared to travel with his retinue on a public transportation tram, a completely unique deed among communist rulers. He was the same kind of leader as Governor Horthy before him. A sort of father-figure for many, and a humble person himself devoid of most passions of the other communist dictators.

This fact also explains the nostalgia. The average person lived better off than anybody in the sorrounding countries (e.g. in 1985 standards of living were comparable to contemporary spanish) maybe with the exception of the Czech parts of Czechoslovakia. We had freedom compared to other communist countries, and those who wanted to work could expect a slow but stabile growth. Ont he top of that Kadar was not hated like other communist leaders.

When the change came the communists were not driven away or banned like in other countries, but simply changed master replacing Moscow with Berlin, Brussels and Washington. The quick and unthought privatization brought quikc changes and a faster increase of living standards at the expeanse of completely selling out state companies even the strategically important ones.

And yes blaming outside actors is a habit in countries like ours. Those nations living centuries under foreign rule became accustomed to not being able to influence their own fate. As simple as that. In any historical example there were always renegades willing to cooperate with the occupier. In our case the communists suddenly turned european democrats discrediting ’europeanism’ and those who willinlgy allied with them almost immediately. Unfortunately the „developed world” embraced these internationalist traitors immediately and completly making the population losing faith in their goodwill and honesty. For various reasons this treason became only obvious to the majority of the public opinion only in 2006 in Hungary.

The stickers you see are a complete mistake since the Kingdom of Croatia was living only in a personal union with the Kingdom of Hungary for a mere 1000 years. The fact that they are a separate country was also shown by the fact that the croats had their own parliament during all that time called sabor.


When I helped my niece to write her thesis, I looked at a couple of EU sponsored publications in economic development. The subject of my niece was in IT. Thus the publications I looked at were, suggested economic strategies for Eastern European or former communist states. The Baltics, by the way are doing very, very well in that field.

Of the publications I checked there was one, that looked at the effects of a system change. I know the German East slightly in this respect, both from own and from the experience of friends during the time of change or what we call "die Wende".

There was only one article that looked into the change from party dominated to a free market system. Mind you, privatization was the gold calf, if I may, at the time. It would ultimately take care of everything. .... But in the larger economic context, or in my special case the idea that information technologies are not only an important factor, but a guarantee for economic growth, only the authors of this article discussed possible sociological results. Their argument: Substituting free market for party dominated production, would result in some groups losing their jobs and connected with that their livelihood. One cannot in these states expect--the main argument of these two authors was--hope the drop-down-principle would successfully deal with the larger social upheaval. In other words it wasn't a guarantee everyone would does at least have the basic level of survival.

I'd prefer to leave out your red/black armband allusion. But strictly there is a strain of historical evidence that partly explains why and how there was a connection between some political actors in my country and support by a group in Hungary even before the takeover. Not a surprise in the larger historical context, maybe, but some of the propagandist exaggerations made, to pick one single issue, somewhat more of a "statistical sense" in Hungary.

But really, I would prefer to use my own country in this context. More basically: Over here in East Germany the right was enormously successful post "Wende" in the East. It partly resulted in nationally freed zones. This makes a certain sense, let's better pick the opposite. ;)

For the European right the British exit is a starting shot for the complete break up for the European union. They were hoping for this to happen. They are in the process of demanding referenda everywhere. ...

Balint Somkuti

You know we did not joined the EU to have a soviet union light. Even though Kadar was less of a dictator than an autocrative leader he still had much blood on his hand.


Aka, this is why American Exceptionalism is so dangerous. Our Founders were intensely practical people with a jaundiced eye. They understood human nature. They distrusted the Leviathan.

We forget their wisdom.

Babak Makkinejad

Francisco Franco did more for Spain in the areas of water management and hydro-electric power than any government since his death.

His social security system was superior to what is today in Spain.

And lastly, the devolution of power to provinces in Spain since his death is slowly making that country again ungovernable as parochial interests are once again reasserting themselves against national ones.

Heard in Spain: "Why build a dam here and pump water to there when only Moroccans are going to be working on those farms?"

Babak Makkinejad

Chinese style is the worst of the too without a doubt.

Babak Makkinejad

"Soviet Union Light/Lie":

Isn't that the inevitable consequence of any level of political and economical integration?

A single man in New Cannon decides to close a factory in New Bedford since that factory's return on investment is a mere 5% but buying some corporate bonds would return 8%.

So, all of a sudden, a 1000 people are without jobs and will have to leave the area - selling their houses, disrupting their social connections etc. - in order to hopefully begin to earn an income.

Did the Central Planners ever do anything like that?

"Capitalists beat you into line, Communists beat you into line.." said the hobo - as reported by one Loren Eiseley in his autobiography.


BS, I doubt the Soviets left a social security system in place. From their perspective it made no sense. I am not really an expert in the field to what extend EU transfers to Hungary made sure that such a system could be established. I somewhat doubt.

Even in Greece it seems to not exist to the extend it does elsewhere. Varoufakis at one point suspected Schäuble to wanting to push Greece out of the union and only after institutionalizing something like a European social security system. He suggested Schäuble already had this plan, and therefore wanted Greece to leave. This part was cut from the video, as it was distributed by his network over here.

It feels European economic developments may have been based on a pure filter-down-idea. Never mind it's dead for longer now. As long as there is private business versus restrictions based on bureaucrats deciding what can or what cannot be produced, the rest will work fine. Thus there would be an argument, that the EU wasn't maybe authoritative enough on a regional/state level. Not that this would be easy to sell. Notice, I cannot see anyone, maybe I didn't look hard enough, that made sense other then suggestions to simply print more money, yes simplified somewhat.

My mind is pretty limited. Maybe versus the 19th century and it's aftermath some type of nationalist* European alliance is possible, I have no idea. More likely the respective European leaders will get more suspicious of each other after a break up of the union ... There may also be, beyond whatever other tools in the box are available, attempts to make others pay via pure money politics.

But maybe then as now or in the future, public emotions can be stirred into the "right" direction. And in times of a somewhat doubtful growth or double, triple, quadruple .... gains that have come to be expected in some quarters on input, what other enlightening input can you see other then long-term war production feeding the populace? This is no doubt from a possibly ill-informed assumption how the German leaders at one time dealt with it. Or managed to feed their populace. ---

You tell me.

PS: Babak, in your short summary on Europe and/or it's driving factors somewhere around here, this was a factor I missed: nationalism, national interest. But then, I am also some type of incorrigible brat and ignorant that tries to avoid the real world out there via his basic left-wing ideology somewhat made worse by the fact that I am female. But I always also realized that Europe or the European Union had an purely economic foundation stone, and it's ideological superstructure was always a vision only, that may one day turn out to be a day dream.

Babak Makkinejad

The European Thinkers, over the last 50 years, failed to articulate a believable sense of what it means to be European.

Men in Oxford shire, in Vilnius, in Cadiz, in Montpelier, in Trieste, in Skopje, what do they have in common except Christianity?

Of course they were bound to fail - trying to bridge the Diocletian divide.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad