Friday, September 02, 2016

Billionaire Babiš in hot water after gypsy concentration camp comments

If I ignore his war against the small entrepreneurs and his self-evident conflicts of interest, I think that the Slovak-born food industry billionaire Andrej Babiš – widely considered as the most powerful Czech politician at this moment (and often painted as the next Führer) – is doing a good job as the finance minister (but so did many predecessors).

For example, the Czech government budget shows the record surplus over CZK 80 billion after August; it seems very likely to me that the whole year will end in a surplus. Obviously, I don't think that it's mostly Babiš's achievement but I don't want to discuss these things here.

Off-topic: Obama, Kerry, and their equally racist f*cked-up friends have imposed sanctions on [Czech company] Škoda JS [nuclear machinery] Pilsen, once a part of the Škoda Holding and now the main sponsor of the great ice-hockey team in my hometown, HC Škoda Pilsen (which has several North American players, a Native American 2nd-U.S-army-imitating logo, and a post-NHL owner) – because of some Russian owners. This gets rather personal. Do these megajerks in the U.S. administration also want to damage the ice-hockey team, using the fallacy by association? I prefer if you die quickly, you unAmerican Kerries.

However, it's his (and his voters') general totalitarian mindset – so perfectly compatible with the persuasive claims that he was a communist secret agent codenamed Bureš – that is so terribly troubling.

A minister (the most SJW-like minister Jiří Dienstbier Jr) and an emeritus opposition leader (Karel Schwarzenberg, an aristocrat) demand his resignation after some potentially controversial statements about the gypsies and work that he made in Northern Bohemia yesterday. This main part of the Sudetenland was mostly successfully repopulated after the 1945 expulsion of the ethnic Germans. When things are added, the Romani people represent a significant fraction of the population today and there are a few well-known gypsy ghettos in Northern Bohemia.

Babiš visited a Romani household and said that "he was shocked how messy it was" and that "neither the father nor the son were employed". Some people could be surprised by this statement but I am only partly surprised. Everyone in Czechia knows that the Romani households are not the cleanest ones (although I was just assured that the interiors are often much cleaner than the shared spaces) and that the unemployment rate among the gypsies is really high, some 80%.

Gypsies' households may be mostly messy but this is what the Czech summer 2016 forced typical pure Czech scouts do in a summer camp. ;-)

So it's more surprising for me that Babiš was surprised. It looks like he is disconnected from the life of the nation, from the ordinary facts that everyone knows. But he quickly turned to a discussion of a more controversial topic, the Lety concentration camp in Southern Bohemia (Lety near Písek [literally: Flights near Sand]).

An 80-year-old friend from Písek has told Babiš that there were times when all the gypsies were working. And who wasn't working, was sent to the camp. Babiš clearly presented that era as a great example for us and emphasized that it was a "lie" that Lety was a concentration camp. Instead, it was a labor camp.

However, the Lety labor camp was promoted to a concentration camp in 1942 and must be considered a part of the Holocaust scheme – in this case, against the Romani people.

So his SJW PC critics immediately turned Babiš into a Holocaust denier.

Well, I surely disagree with this oversimplification of Babiš's views but I am troubled by those views, too, perhaps for different reasons than the SJWs. First, some history. The Lety labor camp was established according to an order of the Czecho-Slovak government issued on March 2nd, 1939. Note that I wrote Czecho-Slovakia with a hyphen. That's how Czechoslovakia was renamed after the Sudetenland was annexed in late 1938 and after Hitler gave some support to the Slovak softcore fascist nationalists.

(For a while, Czecho-Slovakia was spelled in this way in the early 1990s as well, although only in Slovakia: it's hard not to see that this preferred notation reflected quite some nostalgia of the Slovak nationalists about their independent clerofascist state during the war.)

OK, the 6-month period after the Munich treaty but before the full occupation of the Czech lands – the birth of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia on March 15th, 1939 – is known as the Second Republic of Czecho-Slovakia. The period succeeded the celebrated First Republic, 1918-1938. I think that economically, it worked just like the First Republic but politically, it was already a very bad period when various pro-Nazi Czech traitors, informers, and filth were feeling very strong. The Second Republic was simply a moderate prelude to the full occupation.

So in the last 2 weeks of this Second Republic, the already Nazism-compatible (and perhaps scared-to-death-by-Germany) government of the formally independent truncated country decided it was a good idea to create labor camps like that. The labor duty was mandatory and I think that from the beginning, most or all of the tenants were gypsies. It seems that the inspiration by the Nazi policies was self-evident. In 1942, the facility was "promoted" to a concentration camp. But that term doesn't mean that everyone was eradicated (one would need to say "extermination camp" to imply such a thing, and Lety wasn't one). About 3/4 of the prisoners survived their stay in the camp. (Later, in the 1950s, communists built a pig farm on the very place of the concentration camp. This facility has been unsurprisingly labeled disrespectful and people have disagreed whether it should be demolished – the U.N. demanded "yes" in 2013.)

As you may guess, what I am most troubled with is Babiš's implicit support for the "labor duty" if not his enthusiasm for similar "labor camps" that would impose such a "duty". We learned what Babiš thinks about these matters and these opinions worryingly agree with the lessons we could learn previously, from his brutal war against the self-employed people and small entrepreneurs etc.

Babiš would clearly like a society where only he – and perhaps just a few other powerful people – are the owners and managers and everyone else is an employee who must obey orders or be fired and sent to a labor camp or something like that. His explicit claims that he wants to transform Czechia into a "company" mean exactly that – this is nothing else than the rejection of democracy and a call for the "big boss". It wouldn't be so scary that one former communist secret agent has these totalitarian ideas about the society. What's more worrisome is that dozens of percent of the Czech population clearly have the same dreams and they are willing to let these dreams be heard in the elections. His ANO party is likely to collect more than 20% in the next elections again – and when it comes to these questions, the voters of the unreformed Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (which oscillates between 10% and 15% and sometimes may get higher than that) think very similarly. Once again, it's (almost?) one-half of the Czech society that can't hide its attraction to some characteristically totalitarian ideas.

One of his supporters in a discussion endorsed the idea
He who does not work, neither shall he eat
You may know it from the New Testament. However, St Paul actually said "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat". The word "willing" makes quite some difference. Why? You know, if someone is not willing to work, he probably doesn't work – and he's not working according to "everyone" or at least "both sides".

However, Lenin and his Czechoslovak sycophants have used the slogan as a weapon against those whose work wasn't "enough of a work" according to the communists' and primitive workers' appraisals of the society – especially capitalists, managers, much of the intellectuals, or any job except for blue-collar jobs. Anyone who didn't have dirty hands could have been heavily harassed or liquidated.

I hope I don't have to explain to you how devastating it was for the society when capitalists, managers, intelligence, or any "fancier" workers were treated in this way. Much of the inefficiency of communism may be blamed directly on this institutionalized hatred towards these often essential jobs. Needless to say, this institutionalized hatred is inseparable from the crippling rules that communism imposes across the society.

OK, so let's get used to this scary fact. Babiš and millions of his Czech voters want some "mandatory labor" that is closer to the Leninist or at least Second-Republic ideas than to the Biblical or democratic ones. Do democratic countries agree that "He who does not work, neither shall he eat"? Well, I surely don't think so. Democratic countries with the rule of law have a different rule:
Those who make their living and who were not proven to have violated the law by the courts, are being wished bon appétit.
Can you see the difference? The difference between Babiš's and Babiš's voters' ideas about the society and the free society is huge. In a totalitarian or Babiš-like society, everything that is not forbidden is mandatory. In a free society, everything that is not forbidden is allowed. The two sentences may sound similar but they're very, very different. The difference is almost as large as the difference between "yes you can" and "no you can't".

So in a free society, one can make his living as a capitalist, manager, investor, researcher, writer, blogger, worker, housewife, or in many other ways. The person is treated as a full-fledged citizen with all the rights that other have unless he's been proven guilty of violating some law. And the laws must be tolerant enough to allow the basic diversity in the society that I have mentioned.

You know, many people make their livings in ways that most of their compatriots don't understand or couldn't understand – even though, in many cases, this work is beneficial for the society. If there's no plaintiff or no proof of guilt, these people must be allowed to make their living in this way, despite the other people's misunderstanding of the mechanisms.

I don't think that Babiš has said something about the labor/concentration camps that is spectacularly unacceptable. But given the knowledge about his plans for the transformation of a society, I would like him to be removed, even if the reason were this silliness. I know that it's very unlikely that he will be removed, however. Instead, these borderline unacceptable comments will bring him some extra votes in the next elections. Votes from the bottom of the society, I think, and I think that already his current electorate may be approximately characterized as scum.

Update: In the afternoon, social democratic prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that the borderline Nazi Babiš is acting as a parasite on the problems with the co-existence of gypsies and majority Czechs. I agree with that. But I am unfortunately almost sure that it's Babiš who will earn a greater number of votes out of this exchange.

The discussions about this topic also involve some finer aspects of the policies towards the Romani people. During the First Republic of Czechoslovakia, 1918-1938, we still respected the "right of domicile" (which was valid in the Czech lands between 1849 and 1948: nice permutations). Towns and villages created their own local "citizenships" and others – including many gypsies – could have been prevented from entering.

I think that it was sensible. After all, it was just some immigration policies at a more local level. Just like a nation may think of itself as a "big family" that collectively owns a territory and has some other shared rights and assets (which may sometimes need to be defended from others), the people in a town or a village may do the same. As a result, the gypsies were often leading a nomadic life. They were often staying close to the city borders etc. When someone complained about the gypsies during the First Republic, it was usually the countryside.

The Second Republic, the Protectorate, the post-war Third Republic, and communism were introducing various kinds of "labor duty" for the gypsies. Communism was apparently "integrating" them. So almost all gypsies were formally employed. Except that they often made more harm than good and no one has ever paid attention to such things. When freedom and capitalism got restored after 1989, most gypsies suddenly realized that they don't really want to work for the modest salary that was being offered to them and most employers realized that they don't want to employ gypsies for a higher salary. As some "reliability of the workers" is getting more important in the economy, the gypsies' disadvantages are becoming more self-evident. That's why the Romani people's unemployment kept on rising in recent years, even though the general unemployment rate was decreasing.

So the actual state of affairs – the labor market – was just honestly displayed. I think this transparency is mostly a good thing.

Now, there is a question whether it's better to "push" the gypsies towards some job which may be a mostly bogus job, or just admit that they have no job and subsidize them by the welfare system in some way. I am not sure. Both solutions are bad. But it seems to me that the third solution, the most immediate pro-freedom solution, i.e. let them be unemployed and stop the support for them, would lead to even worse outcomes.

We – and the Czech children – could see a lot of suffering, violence, hatred. We could cease to be a humane society according to many people's opinions. So I think that it's right to acknowledge that the gypsies as an ethnic group are a net recipients of some help and the society is paying this money because given the existing conditions, this spending is needed for us to remain a humane society.

At the end, I can imagine that many gypsies make their living in ways that could even be legal. I am pretty sure that none of them can or wants to fill the complicated tax forms etc. that I often have to submit. In my opinion, these duties – like taxes for gypsies except for some high-income ones – should simply be abandoned because they only lead to lots of problems. In the same way, I think that taxes in pubs or grocery stores in villages with less than XY people etc. should also be abolished. The taxes just barely repay the bureaucracy, hassle, and wasted time – and they often don't.

These proposals are obviously diametrically opposite to Babiš's and Babiš's voters' ideas about the future Czech society. It's an overbureaucratized society in which the government – especially Babiš – knows everything about everyone and has the right to dictate almost anything to anyone. It's a society where free commercial pubs or grocery stores are basically extinct on the countryside because the entrepreneurs can't survive the same taxation as their counterparts in the city and can't even learn to deal with all the e-bureaucracy etc. It's a society that looks at every millionaire or entrepreneur as if he were a parasite who doesn't deserve to eat – unless he is a billionaire in the food industry.

It's very similar to the society I was fighting against in the 1980s and I simply don't want to see such a society or a similar society in my country again.

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