EU as a tool of global conspiracy?

Slovakia has been an independent state for 20 years already. The Slovak history in the 20th century is characterized by frequent changes – both of political regimes and state arrangements in whichSlovakiawas a constituent part.  The Slovaks have not always been free to decide about their own destiny. There were often external actors (countries and foreign politicians) and outer circumstances (wars, conflicts, configurations of regional and international relations) that affected the decisions that shaped the geopolitical and socio-economic conditions of the people’s lives inSlovakia. It led to the formation of a specific kind of public narrative according to whichSlovakiaacted largely as an object of policy of dominant external forces (“the powerful of this world”) that were ultimately deciding in a manner “about us without us”. Such a perception served in favor of various domestic actors, including collaborators who were willingly cooperating with external hegemonies.  They later  justified this collaboration arguing that they could not act otherwise, because it was decided about everything in abroad in advance and that they were just trying to avoid the worst, to soften the impact of a dictatorship and repression of the people. As a result, for example, the responsibility for the tragic fate of the Slovak Jews during World War II has been ascribed only to the Nazi Germany, but not to the genocidal policy of the domestic collaborationist fascist regime.  Similarly, the responsibility for the so-called normalization after suppression of the  ”revival process” in 1968 that affected lives of hundreds of thousands of people, was largely attributed to the occupation policy of  the Soviet Union, but less to the Stalinist “hard core” of the Communist Party.  It was the latter that, first, created favorable conditions for the intervention of the Soviet and other Warsaw Pact countries’ troops, then invited them, and eventually servedMoscowdevotedly until 1989.  Of course, tossing the blame for own failures to external foes went hand-in-hand with seeking an internal enemy who was disrupting everything inside, conspiring, harming the country and helping its external enemies. Such universal internal enemies were mostly Jews; others were various “anti-national” and “anti-state” elements – Hungarians, Czechs, “Czechoslovakists”, “right-wing opportunists”, dissidents, believers, “cosmopolitans”, agents of the West, Free Masons, liberals.  The list of internal enemies varied according to changes of regime and current political situation.

After the split of Czechoslovakia and the establishment of the independent state,Slovakiawent through quite turbulent developments which ultimately led to its membership in the EU, NATO and OECD.  These were the international groupings that set the country’s status as part of the West. After 1989, similarly as before, external factors in internal developments played inSlovakiaan important role, yet with one substantial difference: this time it was about how the Slovaks would be able to use the external factors on their own and voluntarily, which ultimate solution they would voluntarily lean towards. After 1989, nobody from outside forcedSlovakiato do anything against the will of the country. The Slovaks held decision about their fate in their own hands,.  They had a range of options.  The choice of options thus depended solely on them. Democracy has given people the tools to implement their ideas on the preferred type of social order and international partnerships they wanted to live in. In the first free elections in 1990,Slovakia’s citizens elected a coalition which started to reform the country after decades of the communist dictatorship, bringing it closer to the West. The split ofCzechoslovakiain 1993 – carried out without referendum – was for many Slovaks a cold shower (since most were in favor of maintaining the common Czechoslovak state).  However, it could not be said that decision came out of the blue. The decision to dissolveCzechoslovakiawas made on behalf of the public by those politicians who were elected by them in free elections in 1992.  In the subsequent years, however, when the democratic part of the political scene engaged into confrontation with authoritarian forces led by HZDS (the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, led by Vladimír Mečiar), many people have already acted with greater vigilance and made their electoral decisions with respect to what may follow the day after.

Few years after the fall of the communist regime, the predominant trend in public opinion inSlovakiabecame the orientation to the closest possible cooperation withEuropeand eventually to join the European Union. The overall course of the transformation process inSlovakia, as well as in the neighboring Central European countries, could not be separated from the efforts to become an actor in the European integration. The deeper were the reforms in the country, the closer country kept moving in the direction of joining the EU. Public support for EU membership reached 75%. For any political party not to support the idea of the country’s accession to the EU meant committing political suicide. It was basically a society-wide consensus between political elites and the public. This did not mean, however, that there were no voices among politicians that questioned in one or another  way the country’s European orientation, even using traditional formula on decisions “about us without us”, marked by the hint of conspiratorial vision of the world. In the mid-1990s the EU made it clear to the then Slovak Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar  that his power distortions and authoritarian practices of HZDS could become an obstacle toSlovakia’s  membership in the EU.  Consequently and suddenly, in the minds of the HZDS ideologists and other representatives of national-populist opinion stream,  the EU was virtually transformed from the integration grouping that could provide Slovakia stability and prosperity into an organization wanting to dictate Slovakia and force it to accept  its own value system  alien to Slovak national aspirations. Augustín Marián Húska, HZDS Vice-Chairman and Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, was the most active author of contributions of this kind.  He produced lengthy texts on the changing geopolitical lines in the world, ´explaining´ how the global powers were aiming to swallow small nations. Other HZDS representatives argued that the EU was applying double standards to Slovakia, that it was making decisions behind the closed doors, it fell under the influence of the allegedly powerful Hungarian lobby and that Slovaks had no real chance to influence decisions about their own fate in Europe. They also argued that the EU membership was more advantageous for large member states than for Slovakia.

Such statements have been a response to EU’s refusal to accept as its member state a country with a government that was obstructing the referendum, with a parliament that ousted its members by stripping them of their mandates against their will, with an intelligence service that kidnapped the President’s son to a neighboring country. Paradoxical situation emerged. On the one hand, the government officially stated that its aims is the EU accession.  On the other hand, senior government officials were spreading myths about the EU among the public – for example that the EU was a closed organization, which decides the fate of candidate countries without their participation on the direct command from the large  member states. Such vision at the time touched not only the EU. When in 1997 as  it became clear that Mečiarist Slovakia would not have a chance to join either the EU or NATO, the then Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin visitedSlovakia. After the talks,  Vladimír Mečiar announced thatSlovakiahad no chance to join NATO because theUSandRussiasilently agreed between themselves thatSlovakiawould not be accepted in theAlliance(Russiasubsequently denied the claim). Mečiar indeed well knew what kind of delusion he spread.  Yet he also knew that the message about the conspiracy of the global powers would find fertile soil. He calculated with the fact that his fans would not criticize him for his authoritarian policy that compromised the chances of the country´s Euro-Atlantic.  On the contrary that it only would enhance their conviction that, similarly as before, again the “powerful” of the world decide secretly and would even praise the brave Slovak politician, who succeeded to discover such a plot.

This curious type of conspiratorial “Euroscepticism”, combining the declared support to the EU and its questioning and even attributing the hidden  intentions, did not last long. It de facto ceased to exist after Vladimír Mečiar ended up in the opposition in 1998. Yet the vision of the world in which decisions are made through secret mechanisms did not disappear. It is 9 years thatSlovakiais EU member state.  The EU is one of the most transparent organizations (if not the most transparent at all) in the world.  Still the attempts to portray it as part of global domination and a tool for promotion of global interests of powerful circles to the expense of the interests of smaller nations are still alive. It has two forms – the extreme and the moderate. Fortunately, both versions have little chance to become a dominant trend in public opinion, but they can serve as an example of argumentation used by the fighters for the purity of Slovak national life.

The proponents of conspiracy theories among the Slovak extreme nationalists fill the internet with characteristics of the EU as an oligarchic grouping, captured by financial groups, bankers, globalists and partocracy. In this scheme the EU acts as part of the efforts of the “global elite to achieve the total control of the world through the globalism”. According to the radical-nationalist internet portal, the EU together with other international organizations, including the NATO, conducts this policy in line with an agreement of the Bilderberg group, allegedly an association of “the most influential people in the world”, who  seek to establish a “total world domination”. Radical nationalists warn that the EU practices the “economic imperialism” against Slovakia and other countries, drove them into the debt slavery,  implants its own educational system,  exploits them using cheap labor force, even allegedly sprays the aerosols, containing variety of pollutants, throughout their territory from civil airplanes in order  to modify weather and quietly vaccinate and control populations. The conspiracy action of “greedy capital”, which transformed Slovak politicians into “puppets”, according to extreme nationalists, was the approval of the European financial stability pact (EFSF) by which EU has drivenSlovakiainto position of “lackey servility”.

The grotesque conspiratorial Europhobia of the extreme nationalists is part of their anti-globalist agenda and an expression of their opposition to liberal democracy, which, in their understanding, is simply an invention for global domination and enslavement of small European nations. The extreme nationalists often protest against being referred to as anti-European. There is a pinch of rationality in their complaints. In reality, they indeed stand forEurope, but not for the current democratic, open and multiculturalEuropeas represented by the EU. They would like to build a differentEurope– where the racial, ethnic and confessional purity would dominate and the social order inspired by the European totalitarian regimes of the 1930s and 1940s would be established.

Much more developed than the case of extremists is the Eurosceptic agenda of the mainstream Slovak National Party (SNS).  In recent years the party is trying to respond to EU problems. The SNS “European” credo is a combination of isolationism, revisionism and national egoism. Party declares that it is for perpetuating the EU as an organization, but adds that it should be EU “in fundamentally changed shape or form” (that is classic formula to camouflage the principle resistance). In its electoral manifesto of 2012 the SNS had virtually no positive view of the EU; it only referred to the EU in negative terms. The main point of the SNS European agenda (as it presents in its programmatic documents and in statements of leading officials) includes a refusal of the principle of solidarity as a cornerstone of the EU internal relations, recognition of the possibility for Slovakia to leave EU, rejection of the common European currency, preference of the “Europe of nations” model over the one of so-called “European super-state”. The SNS challenges the legitimacy of European institutions, it perceives the EU as a tool of globalization that threatens the nations and their ethnic and cultural distinctiveness. It supports the view ofEuropeas a Christian club. The SNS strictly refuses to assist EU member states that face with financial difficulties, considers the EU regulatory system a major threat to national sovereignty. SNS have elaborated sort of indictment list, accusing the EU of promoting internationalist policies and principles (multiculturalism), an introduction of alien cultural patterns (including Islam), unlimited bureaucracy, over-centralization and disrespect of the nations. The SNS accuses the EU of making the national states, includingSlovakia, dependent on foreign forces and of favoring the “lazy”, “irresponsible”, “sick” states at the expense of the “hard-working” states. The SNS leaders also complain that the EU became an instrument of pressure of the European socialists againstSlovakiaand failed to protectSlovakiafrom Hungarian expansionism.

In its electoral manifesto the SNS creates the following image of the EU leadership marked by conspiratorial perception of reality: “The current EU leadership … serves multinational financial groups, monopoly and globalists, it is not responsible to any of us and it has absolute immunity. …. Instead of identifying the problems and seeking solutions it concentrates on creating a super-state and providing guarantees for survival of its  bureaucratic machinery”. According to the quoted document, the EU’s partners inSlovakiaare governments which “sell out our sovereignty and economic interests of Slovaks.Slovakiais now in a state of psychological, political and economic surrender and total dependence”.

The effectiveness of the SNS anti-EU propaganda as a tool for voter mobilization proved very limited. The voters recognized the falsity of arguments about “total dependence” of the country that has risen to the highest level in its development ever thanks to its EU membership. The traditional “Hungarian” card did not help the SNS either and the party failed to enter the Parliament in the 2012 elections.

Although the view that the EU is an oligarchic group making decisions behind closed doors and promoting interests of its own bureaucracy and of ”the powerful of this world” is likely to continue on the Slovak political scene and around it, the conspiracy-styled propaganda can hardly gain an overwhelming public support. The public may not know exactly how the internal mechanisms of the EU work, but, after 9 years of the EU membership, it will hardly believe the nationalist screaming that the EU imposes something on us against our will and decides “about us without us”.

(Grigorij Mesežnikov, IVO)

Categories Analyses, News, Slovakia | Tags: | Posted on January 16, 2013

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