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(E) Quest For The Opulent West
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  01/29/2002 | Published Articles | Unrated
(E) Quest For The Opulent West
 
http://www.whtt.org/articles/rpr021025.htm 
Quest For The Opulent West 01/25/02 
By Tomislav Sunic 
 
Catching up with the West is the big dream of all post-communist countries 
in Eastern Europe. This dream transpires through imported liberal slogans 
such as "transition," "integration" and "market democracy" aired daily on 
all local TV and radio wavelengths. This rhetorical switch from former 
socialist command economy to capitalist market economy appears to East 
European leaders far more palatable than the necessity of removing their 
own ossified past. In fact, proponents of globalism and their institutional 
transmission belts, such as the IMF and WTO had never given the green light 
for the Eastern European masses to forcefully remove communist officials 
from power. With the choice between local nationalists and local 
ex-communists, the global plutocrats have opted for the latter. 
 
In reality though, the transition to market economy has been going on for 
 years, yielding meager results and only in some areas of Eastern Europe. 
The countries of Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary now on the 
fastest track to "catching up with the West," benefit from their geographic 
vicinity of affluent Germany. Other post-communist countries further to the 
East do not have the same comparative geographic advantage, offering little 
incentive for direct foreign investments. 
 
The modern financial network based in Brussels and New York, makes a 
mistake, despite its financial ingenuity. These assume that rapid economic 
growth in Eastern Europe could be solely achieved through liberal formulas 
or by resorting to some Asian role modeling. What was successful in 
denazified Germany in the 1950's, in Thailand and Singapore in the 1980's, 
does not apply to present day Rumania, Ukraine, or Croatia. It is also a 
frequent error among many US politicians to project their own wishful 
thinking onto Eastern Europe, pumping their taxpayers' money into the hands 
of bankrupt East European leaders. 
 
The gap between Eastern and Western Europe is bigger today than ever and 
likely to get even bigger. In terms of economic output, from a ratio 12 in 
1989, the gap in productivity between East and West increased threefold in 
1999, notably to the ratios of 13 and 14 respectively. On the whole, east 
European countries have reached only 60 to 70 per cent of their 1989 
communist GDP level. In plain English it means that the purchasing power of 
the majority of east European citizens is worse off than during the last 
days of communism. 
 
The leading slogan which had brought down communist economies was the 
popular outcry, "join Europe." The main motor behind this naive idea was 
that Western affluence would suddenly follow suit. But catching up with the 
West has not occurred. One can now sense a widespread nostalgia for the 
economic predictability and guaranteed social security which communism once 
provided for all. 
 
A Western visitor should not be duped by the shopping mall glitz in 
Croatia's Zagreb, Hungary's Budapest, or Russia's Moscow. Nor should the 
presence of rowdy young "conspicuous consumers" be viewed as the trademark 
of an improvement in living standards. The core of any democracy is its 
middle class. However, in late 1945, the communists physically destroyed 
the middle class. 
 
An overzealous mimicry by east European leaders copies the free market 
canons with the incessant regurgitation of slogans such as "the rule of 
law," and "market democracy." But the real market is a mixture of bandit 
capitalism and shadow economy in full swing. This is true not only for 
Russia, but also for every other country in the region. The so-called 
basket-case economies of neo-communist Croatia and the bankrupt 
post-Milosevic Serbia garner little support from their respective 
citizenry. This will result in a mass appeal for yet another muscled man in 
the not too distant future. In such a fragile economic environment that is 
still governed by never repentant communists now turned phony liberals, it 
would be unwise for individual US businessmen to make any professional 
commitments. 
 
Of course, for global sharks it is easy to lecture East European 
politicians on the virtues of market democracy. Despite their planetary 
influence modern plutocrats ignore the heritage of communist psychology. 
All the present political elites from the Baltic to the Balkans are 
basically recycled communists who have no idea of what a free market really 
means other than verbal virtuosity in free market recitals. 
 
The road to genuine democracy in Eastern Europe can only be achieved 
through reeducation and the removal of all former communists from power. 
Prior to its economic miracle, post-war Germany had to start the process of 
denazification first - in order to attain the certificate of democracy much 
later. It is impossible for the present recycled neo-communist political 
class in Eastern Europe to shed its old Bolshevik carapace. Half a century 
of communist social leveling, a culture of mendacity and the lack of 
personal initiative have left deep scars on the souls of all East 
Europeans. This tragic area of Europe has historically been subject to 
unpredictable tremors. A new version of bandit capitalism mixed with the 
legacy of communism creates a breeding ground for all sorts of terrorist 
temptations. - 
 
TOMISLAV SUNIC 
 
Mr Sunic is an author, former professor in political science and contributor 
from Europe. 
 
Related study Divide and Disarm The Warmakers Plan for the Occupation of 
Yugoslavia. 
 
Copyright (c) 2001, We Hold These Truths All Rights Reserved 
May be reproduced only in full. 
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