For years, we have known France as a little flaccid organ squeezed in between two giant German muscles.
While this description will remain accurate for many years, France's new left-wing star decided to change at least the perception of this reality among its gullible frogeaters so during an EU summit in Brussels, he painted himself as the new Napoleon who will be a tougher warrior against the evils of the world such as the United States of America (which has "partly disappeared from the world"), climate change (no comment), Islamic terrorism (he wants to fight it by smuggling millions of new terrorists into Europe), and especially the Central and Eastern Europe. He wants to be tougher on these Untermenschen than even the Germans.
Macron: Some political representatives of Eastern Europe have displayed a cynical attitude to the European Union. But the European Union isn't a supermarket. It is a fatal union [or common destiny].That's both serious and amusing. I assure you that if the EU were really bound to be a "fatal union", the support in our part of Europe for the plans to dissolve it would surpass 90%. The word "fate" or "destiny" indicates that the people no longer have a control over the detailed events – which are being imposed on them. We surely don't want that. Indeed, whether a left-wing babbler likes it or not, our political representatives mostly view the future of the European Union – if the bloc survives at all – as a supermarket. They do so because most of their constituencies see it in this rational, pragmatic way. This word "supermarket" nicely summarizes several dimensions:
- A free trade zone – which is the aspect of the European integration that is widely and most universally viewed as a benefit.
- Maybe, a unified labor market – but the free movement of the European citizens in between the member countries is much more questionable and was the main reason behind Brexit, among other things.
- Cherry-picking of the products, rules, and parts of the life that the European nations want to share with others, get from others, or otherwise coordinate or unify.
Years ago, even the EU acknowledged this common sense constructive principle. It was known as the principle of subsidiarity in the Eurospeak. But this principle was too rational and democratic so it is being gradually eliminated from the EU ideology.
Such a pragmatic, supermarket-like approach is a necessary condition for the European Union – or any entity in the world – to get improved as time goes by. The good things are being picked, the bad things are not. And the mechanisms that determine what is good and what is bad must be working well, they must allow the nations to have their say, and they must ultimately boil down to some democratic decisions of the European nations. If Mr Macron has a problem with these common sense things, it is very, very bad because he misunderstands absolutely everything about the human psychology and the progress of the economies and human societies.
The selection and discrimination must occur everywhere. For example, we have learned that the Ukrainian immigrants are very likely to assimilate and be a welcome addition to our labor market. Even though the immigration procedures haven't been abolished for them, the understanding that they're a greater benefit than e.g. the Muslim migrants unavoidably influences some officials' actions, and it is right that it does.
Needless to say, Mr Macron added:
The countries of Europe that don't respect the rules must bear all the consequences.In the context of the migration mess, the primary countries that have violated the vital rules were Greece and Italy which failed to defend the shared border and countries like Germany which allowed lots of illegal, and often dangerous, immigrants to be settled in Germany and threaten other European countries as well, thanks to the absence of the intra-European borders.
Countries such as Hungary, Poland, Czechia, and Slovakia are doing very well. They have been carefully enforcing the standard asylum and immigration laws that have passed the test of time. One of the results is shown on this map.
The terror threat level is low in our countries but it is high in France and similar countries. As several politicians from post-communist Europe have pointed out, by his attacks against others, Macron is only trying to distract from problems in his own country. That's a main observation in an interview with a Czech MEP. The Polish president's spokesman Křištof Lapinski pointed out that it is France, and not Poland, that has failed to lower the threat level from "high" for some two years so it surely doesn't have the credentials to teach others about the right way to deal with migration and security issues caused by migration.
Czech PM Sobotka is almost always "less assertive" than what you expect from a politician but when such verbal battles are being staged, I often think that his moderating influence is the right one. Mr Sobotka said that he didn't view the EU as a supermarket but we will keep on disagreeing with the migration quotas which are tools to encourage illegal migration to Europe. Concerning Macron's claims that we don't have the "solidarity", he pointed out that we realize our solidarity differently – by finances and experts sent to the Middle East and Africa, something we're ready to extend.
A special part of Macron's tirade was about the protectionism. At the end, Macron's policy in this respect is very similar to Le Pen's. Czech PM Sobotka opposed it. Well, again, while I would mostly support the free movement of the workers, I am convinced that individual nations must have the right to regulate the inflow of labor force from abroad. But the insensitive opening of the borders is something that the European Union has brought us. So if it is considered a problem, it must be counted as an argument against the European integration in general.
Needless to say, it sounds breathtaking to us in post-communist Europe when a man such as Mr Macron wants to allow the Muslims to drift into France and Europe but he would like to prevent us, the post-communist Europeans, i.e. "citizens of the EU", from moving across the same Europe. This implicitly says that the Muslims – exotic foreigners – are placed above us when it comes to their legal status if not the institutionally recognized value. This is obviously unacceptable to virtually everyone in our half of Europe. The Muslims in Europe don't stand above us – and they are not even equal to us in any important sense. To suggest that they are equal if not superior is obviously interpreted as a fatal insult by hundreds of millions of Europeans. If this kind of "equality talk" is acceptable among the frogeaters, well, be sure that it doesn't mean that it's acceptable in post-communist Europe.
Macron has also said some of the usual left-wing nonsense about social justice while he was paying lip service to the individual freedom, too. Sorry but these two principles aren't quite compatible – they are standing against each other.
The full version of a quote I mentioned above said:
Macron: Some political representatives of Eastern Europe have displayed a cynical attitude to the European Union because the union serves them to redistribute the money – while they do not want to share its values. But the European Union isn't a supermarket. It is a fatal union.Many of us think that the redistribution of money within the EU is just wrong. The subsidies are wrong, they distort our market, they corrupt our institutions, scientists, and others. Some of the people in post-communist Europe find the subsidies important and beneficial, however. It's a political issue where no clear consensus exists. But it's clear that if the subsidies were reduced, the attractiveness of the EU as viewed by the post-communist nations could change dramatically. It is absolutely ludicrous to pretend that the money doesn't matter. It surely does matter but in some cases, something may be more important than the money, too.
As I have stressed many times, the subsidies – which tend to flow in the direction from the West to the East – are legally meant to be a tool to make Europe more uniform which the European Union has decided to be a good thing, and they come with no strings attached. They don't create any gratitude that the recipients should repay, e.g. by some kind of obedience. If you wanted something in exchange for the money, you should have said it earlier and persuade the other, recipient side to voluntarily sign up to a commitment. But no such commitment exists now – and the recipient side wouldn't have accepted the offer if the subsidies were linked to Islamization.
Whether e.g. Czechia is a net recipient or a net donor is a matter of conventions. By purely bureaucratic EU criteria, the redistributed funds flow into Czechia and the country gets some 1% of its GDP as a bonus from the EU. However, at the same moment, 5% of our GDP is flowing to Western Europe in the form of dividends. When you consider all the financial flows, and the Western ownership and dividends were partly enabled by the European integration, you may agree that the EU has helped to transform us into net financial donors.
In the quote above, Mr Macron said that we "don't respect the European Union's shared values". If Macron means the green light for illegal Muslim immigrants to circumvent the usual, highly nontrivial migration procedures, that's obviously not a shared European value. About 1/2 of Europe finds this "value" unacceptable. It's just not acceptable here, we don't "share" such "values". It is not a "European value", either. Islamization is a Middle Eastern or North African "value".
I won't even discuss Macron's delusions about the climate change, he is just a brainwashed moron and it would be ludicrous to pretend that it makes sense for a scientist to interact with such uneducated simpletons about similar scientific issues.
At any rate, most of the things that Mr Macron has said are unacceptable to most of the citizens as well as politicians in post-communist Europe, to say the least. Sometimes it seems that he has overlooked that he was elected just a leader in France (actively by a quarter of the French citizens), not a leader of Europe. He doesn't have any credentials whatever to impose his rules on other European countries and his views are indeed considered junk here. He has probably emitted all this "I will be another Napoleon" garbage to impress his undemanding voters but the voters should be warned. Virtually everyone in our region considers Mr Macron's words to be a combination of mindless hostility and delusions and every Napoleon is waiting for his Waterloo and for his St Helena island.
And that's the memo.
P.S.: Orbán has described Macron's words as "not very encouraging for Europe" because he thought that the best way to express his friendship was to kick the Central European countries [into their aß]. "That's not considered normal here," Orbán pointed out. Some tougher words have been heard but the top leaders of the Central European countries are generally aware of the gravity of the situation.
But if you know how to use Google Translate effectively, you may look at the comments at the new mainstream right-wing news server Echo24.cz or hard-left-turned-centrist Novinky.cz. It's a polarizing issue. Virtually everyone opposes Macron, supports our politicians including Sobotka, points out that the respect to the rule of law is a European value.
Also, some clever enough commenters have noticed Macron's criticism of the Eastern European Untermenschen that are "ready to work for lower wages". There are good, mostly historical, reasons why we have lower wages right now. And lots of wise people in the West, not just the employers, also know about the advantages of the pool of cheaper labor. As some commenters point out, an intelligent French man knows that the real problem isn't a working Eastern European, but a not working Arab or African.
But a funny thing is that the fact that we are paid less is mostly being decided by the Western European employers who are really employing people in both parts of Europe. So if the asymmetry is a fault, it's mostly your fault, Western Europeans, so it's mostly laughable to use our low wages as an argument that our behavior is wrong. Also, some commenters mention that Mr Macron likes to criticize a supermarket but he is immune to the stinky scent from the money from Veolia, a deeply unpopular (at least here) French transnational company owning a big part of the Czech water-and-pipelines industry.
Other commenters are comparing e.g. the unemployment rates – France (where one works 32 hours a week) has 10%, Czechia has 4%. Some right-wing people also criticize Macron for importing the bad American habit of using the word "liberalism" for anti-liberty ideologies such as socialism.
I decided to translate an op-ed by well-known sci-fi writer Ondřej Neff at his The Invisible Dog internet news server, It's Getting Colder. Neff – whom I have e-communicated with – may be defined as an ultimate Czech mainstream, somewhere in between Klaus, center right, and the politically correct Prague café, with a lot of emphasis on common sense.
It's getting colder
French president Macron did a lot of work to make sure that he insults a partner nation in the EU by the assertion that she behaves as if she were in a supermarket. Why? We refused to adopt the buck-passing policy of Brussels named "adoption of the decision about a policy" and we have only embraced 12 refugees, instead of 16 (or 25?), as Slovakia did, following in the footsteps of the good soldier Švejk. Obviously, we may jump over his statement silently. Nevertheless, his comment is symptomatic: there is a growing chasm in between the current West and the former East.
These adjectives "current" and "former" deserve a clarification.
The current West no longer resembles the West that was so attractive for the former East before the Iron Curtain collapsed. The West of those times was characterized by the notions such as freedom, rationality, efficiency. After 25 years, we got out of the deepest problems, despite the long journey that is still ahead of us. With some shock, however, we are finding out that 25 years later, a new wall of the only allowed ideological truth, a single doctrine backed by someone's power, is being erected in front of our eyes once again.
In its essence, regardless of some quotas or non-quotas, it is all about the eternal axis of the European history – about the dichotomy between centralization and decentralization. During the course of history, the axis has had different manifestations, most typically as a tension between the crown and burgeoisie (a conflict for which we have paid dearly after the 1620 Battle of the White Mountain). Both concepts are equally legitimate, however. If Czech president Miloš Zeman talks about the national interests and statehood, it is as legitimate as someone else's promotion of the federalist arrangement of Europe. Even the fathers of the European project have perceived this dichotomy strongly – and that is why they established the principle of subsidiarity, i.e. the right approach to a given issue in which the issue is being solved at the appropriate level. This is the principle that is currently being rejected by Mr Macron with Ms Merkel, hegemons of the new Europe.
In the situation when Frontex has been turned into a limb of the human-smuggling organizations transporting consumers from the third world to the welfare sources in the West, we are refusing to approve the thesis that the so-called quotas are a solution. They are not. They are nothing more than an alibi used by the current leaders of the Union. The essence of the dispute is a petty, silly thing. Whether 12 or 1,200 or 12,000 refugees, it is not a problem for the Czech Republic economically, when it comes to organization, or technology. The actual key problem is a political one.
We are allergic to the extreme when someone seems to use his force to impose his ideologically driven nonsense on us, nonsense that is self-evidently contradicting common sense. It is sad but demonstrable: slowly and gradually, Brussels is acquiring the same role that Moscow has played for us for half a century, the role of a source of an irrational nonsense that is being enforced by brute force. Indeed, the situations aren't quite identical yet, but they are converging and become more equivalent every day.
Brussels led by the likes of Juncker has lost the U.K. with its 65 million people. Right now, it is pushing the Visegrád Group to the corner – a territory with the same population as the U.K. Can Mr Macron, a Mr Nobody, a Mr "where he appeared, here he appeared" [a phrase used when a character or object emerges for the first time in a Czech fairy-tale] that was unknown to everyone just yesterday, credibly believe that a whole bloc that was toughened by half a century of experience with the Russian dictatorship will start to shiver? It will certainly not start to shake but one thing is clear: It is getting colder.
(Fast translation by L.M.)
By the way, the statements by Macron may be viewed as a "mere foreplay" of the meeting. The actual meeting took place later. The Czech media chose would-be witty titles such as A sour meeting: Macron has negotiated with the "cynical and treacherous" V4. The article quickly attracted 1,000 comments.