Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A true democrat in Europe

Vaclav Klaus, second president of the Czech Republic, is our new hero here at TKM. Why? Because he has the intellectual honesty and intestinal fortitude to challenge the new socialism and anti-democratic nature of the EU -- something that other Eastern European leaders see and fear but will not speak against. Some cuts from his recent speech to the Mont Pelerin Regional Society Meeting in Reykjavik:

Fifteen years after the collapse of communism. I am afraid more than at the beginning of its softer (or weaker) version, of social-democratism, which has become – under different names, e.g. the welfare state or the soziale Marktwirtschaft – the dominant model of the economic and social system of current Western civilization. It is based on big and patronizing government, on extensive regulating of human behavior, and on large-scale income redistribution.

* * *

Illiberal ideas are becoming to be formulated, spread and preached under the name of ideologies or “isms”, which have – at least formally and nominally – nothing in common with the old-styled, explicit socialism. These ideas are, however, in many respects similar to it. There is always a limiting (or constraining) of human freedom, there is always ambitious social engineering, there is always an immodest “enforcement of a good” by those who are anointed (T. Sowell) on others against their will, there is always the crowding out of standard democratic methods by alternative political procedures, and there is always the feeling of superiority of intellectuals and of their ambitions.

I have in mind environmentalism (with its Earth First, not Freedom First principle), radical humanrightism (based – as de Jasay precisely argues – on not distinguishing rights and rightism), ideology of “civic society” (or communitarism), which is nothing less than one version of post-Marxist collectivism which wants privileges for organized groups, and in consequence, a refeudalization of society. I also have in mind multiculturalism, feminism, apolitical technocratism (based on the resentment against politics and politicians), internationalism (and especially its European variant called Europeanism) and a rapidly growing phenomenon I call NGOism.

All of them represent substitute ideologies for socialism. All of them give intellectuals new possibilities, new space for their activities, new niches in the market of ideas. To face these new isms, to reveal their true nature, and to be able to get rid of them, may be more difficult than in the past. It may be more complicated than fighting the old, explicit socialism. Everyone wants to have healthy environment; everyone wants to overcome loneliness of the fragmented post-modern society and to participate in positive activities of various clubs, associations, foundations and charity organizations; almost everyone is against discrimination based on race, religion or gender; many of us are against the extensive power of the state, etc. To demonstrate the dangers of these approaches, therefore, very often means blowing against the wind.

Read it all.

HT: Instapundit who hat-tipped Brussels Journal.

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