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Does Europe need to split? The East-West divide is back with a vengeance

Monsieur Stratégie (Emmanuele Contini/Getty Images)

Monsieur Stratégie (Emmanuele Contini/Getty Images)


April 17, 2023   6 mins

Emmanuel Macron’s call for Europe to reduce its dependency on the United States and develop its own “strategic autonomy” caused a transatlantic tantrum. The Atlanticist establishment, in the US as much as in Europe, responded in a typically unrestrained fashion — and, in doing so, missed something crucial: Macron’s words revealed less about the state of Euro-American relations than they did about intra-European relations.

Very simply, the “Europe” Macron speaks of no longer exists, if it ever did. On paper, almost the entire continent is united under one supranational flag — that of the European Union. But that is more fractured than ever. On top of the economic and cultural divides that have always plagued the bloc, the war in Ukraine has caused a massive fault line to re-emerge along the borders of the Iron Curtain. The East-West divide is back with a vengeance.

This was underscored by the reaction to Macron’s remarks. On the one hand, Charles Michel, the Belgian President of the European Council, implied that the French president’s position reflects the views of several Western European leaders, including in Germany. On the other, Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister of Poland, spoke for most Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries when he stated: “The alliance with the United States is the absolute foundation of our security… Instead of building strategic autonomy from the US, I propose a strategic partnership with the US.” This isn’t a tactical or even a strategic disagreement; these are two existentially dichotomous visions.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. The East-West divide has been one of Europe’s defining geographical and political paradigms for centuries. The end of the Cold War and, then, the CEE countries’ accession to the EU just over a decade later were both heralded as the post-Communist countries’ much-awaited “return to Europe”. It was widely believed that the EU’s universalist project would smooth out any major social and cultural differences between Western and Central-Eastern Europe — meaning that the latter would slowly become more like the former. Such a hubristic (and arguably imperialistic) project was bound to fail; indeed, tensions and contradictions quickly became apparent between the two Europes.

One early topic of disagreement was, inevitably, Russia. Since they emerged from Soviet occupation, several CEE states, especially those on or close to the border with Russia, have remained suspicious of Moscow’s geostrategic intentions. By contrast, Western European nations, with Germany at the forefront, boosted economic ties with Russia, especially in the field of energy. Some even envisaged building an integrated Eurasian geopolitical bloc theoretically stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok. From a Central-Eastern European perspective this might have seemed crazy, but from a Western European perspective it made perfect sense, given the strong historical, cultural and even ideological ties (especially in those countries with once-powerful Communist parties) between Western Europe and Russia.

Over the years, America amplified these divisions. In 2003, for example, on the eve of the Iraq War, Donald Rumsfeld famously scorned France and Germany as the “old Europe”, which he contrasted with the vitality of the “new Europe” — the CEE states that were soon after included in Nato. “The centre of gravity is shifting to the East,” he said.

Several CEE countries — Poland in particular, for obvious reasons — also had historic grievances against Germany, and serious misgivings about the emergence of a potential Russo-German axis. This is why the Nord Stream project was almost unanimously opposed by CEE states. The East’s integration into the German value chain, considered one of the EU’s success stories, reinforced the region’s ambivalent relationship with Germany: while Central-Eastern Europe benefited from being part of Germany’s powerful “assembly chain”, it also reignited fears of EU-German economic imperialism (in this respect, many CEE countries were smart enough not to join the eurozone).

The most pronounced East-West cleavages, however, emerged along cultural lines, rather than economic or geopolitical ones. In 1993, Samuel Huntington was the first to predict that the Iron Curtain, which had politically and ideologically divided Europe for half a century, would be replaced by “the Velvet Curtain” of culture. Western Europe, he wrote, has been predominantly Catholic, Protestant, and Anglican, while Eastern Europe has been predominantly Orthodox — and this has led to the emergence of very different social values. Where Western Europe developed a more individualistic and secular culture that values “liberal” rights and freedoms, Eastern Europe has historically had a more collectivist and family-oriented culture, with a greater emphasis on family, community, social relationships and religion. Following the Cold War, the CEE states strove to be more politically and socially aligned with the West. But key differences remained on issues such as immigration, abortion and gay rights, as well as over national sovereignty.

In recent years, the EU’s aggressive attempts to impose its integrationist and socially progressive values across Central and Eastern Europe have led to an increasingly assertive pushback. The result has been a souring of EU-CEE relations, and increased coordination among CEE states — such as with the Visegrád Group and the Three Seas Initiative — to boost their autonomy.

Until recently, the turn towards “illiberal” or “post-liberal” democracy in various CEE countries — most notably Hungary and Poland — was described as one of the greatest threats to the EU, with those nations branded as the bloc’s bêtes noires. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed this. Overnight, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania became the EU’s direct border with a war zone. The invasion also enhanced the geostrategic importance of countries that border Russia or Russian-controlled Belarus (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland), as well as those which overlook the strategically crucial Northern Sea Route (Norway and Sweden). In other words, the conflict has dramatically shifted Europe’s geopolitical balance of power from the West to the East (and partly to the North). These countries have been receiving unprecedented international attention, funding and, most important, defence equipment.

The number of US soldiers in Central-Eastern Europe, for instance, has more than doubled to over 14,000. Most of them — around 10,000 — are in Poland, which is also the country that has most benefited from these developments. As the biggest and richest nation in the CEE (and the sixth-largest economy in the EU), it has long aspired to a leading role in the central and north-eastern quadrant, capable of counterbalancing both Russia and the Franco-German axis. The conflict has given this project a huge impetus.

Poland, which has always been staunchly pro-US and pro-Nato, already had one of the most formidable armies in Europe before the conflict. And in the past year, it has launched a massive rearmament plan to build a 300,000-strong high-tech army and transform the country into Europe’s military superpower. Crucially, this strategy is aimed at Germany (and the EU) as much as it is at Russia: last August, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau likened “Russian imperialism” to “imperial practices within the EU”, particularly in Germany.

Meanwhile, Poland has welcomed millions of Ukrainian refugees and given Ukraine hundreds of tanks and other weapons systems (including some MiG-29 fighter jets). Following America’s decision to make Poland a permanent base for the US Army’s V Corps, which commands the eastern flank’s US land forces, the country has, in effect, become the logistical hub of Nato’s war efforts in Ukraine. As a result, Poland’s self-perception as an aspiring regional power is also becoming more pronounced. Last month, the Polish Ambassador to France suggested that Poland might “enter the conflict” if necessary. And there is even a lively debate in Poland as to whether it should merge with Ukraine into a federal or confederal state.

Poland’s ambition clearly aligns with America’s aim to shift Europe’s balance of power towards the “new Europe”, which explains why the US has been quick to lend it considerable support, even at the cost of sowing further divisions on the continent. “Poland has become our most important partner in continental Europe,” a senior US Army official in Europe told Politico. Significantly, after visiting Ukraine last month, Biden made only one other additional stop on his European trip: Warsaw.

Whether this will translate into a long-term shift in political power to the East will also depend on economic dynamics. Western Europe continues to hold primacy on this front, but its economies, particularly Germany’s, have suffered a serious blow as a result of the conflict and related sanctions. Much will hang on whether the re-militarisation of Europe becomes a permanent feature in the coming years, in which case the CEE and Baltic countries — which are currently investing the most in their defence and technological sectors — would benefit economically as well, acquiring a central role in the EU’s long-term defence industrial policy.

Another factor will be the growing rifts caused by the conflict in the CEE. Hungary, formerly Poland’s closest ally in the Visegrád Group, has refused to send weapons to Ukraine, and has maintained close economic ties with Moscow, including continuing to import Russian energy on favourable terms. Viktor Orbán has explicitly sided with Macron on the question of Euro-American relations. “At present, the EU is uncritically adopting the US position wholesale, with US interests simply being presented as European interests,” Orbán said last October. “This is precisely why today Europe is one of the losers in this war and the US is one of the winners.”

None of this, however, significantly alters the fact that the East-West divide in Europe is greater than it has been for decades — and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Ultimately, Western Europe has every interest in reducing its dependency on the US and Nato, reaching a diplomatic solution to the conflict and, as Macron argued, re-normalising security and economic relations with Russia. Central and Eastern Europe, on other hand, has every reason to be fearful of Russia and to favour tighter relations with the US and Nato.

It is, therefore, hard to see how the interests and aspirations of the two sub-blocs could ever be reconciled, especially in the context of EU politics. If countries such as France are serious about “strategic autonomy”, it appears they will have to go it alone.


Thomas Fazi is an UnHerd columnist and translator. His latest book is The Covid Consensus, co-authored with Toby Green.

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Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago

“It was widely believed that the EU’s universalist project would smooth out any major social and cultural differences between West and East”
Much like it was widely believed that China’s embrace of capitalism would smooth over its authoritarianism and gradually liberalize its governance.
Two of the largest foreign policy errors of the last 80 years, both made by the same people. And they (or others who went to the same universities and think the same way) are still in charge.
“the turn towards ‘illiberal’ or ‘post-liberal’ democracy in various CEE countries”
This is just not accurate and it’s high time to stop using it as a slur against Eastern Europe. The EU is the “illiberal” actor on this stage. Believing that different groups of people have different historical cultures and will produce slightly different governance structures isn’t giving up on liberalism at all. Look at France vs the USA: very different, but both liberal countries. Similarly, there’s nothing illiberal about Hungary. There are real elections. There is real media (with 2 sides, unlike in most of Europe or the USA). Unlike in most of Western Europe though, in Budapest, Orthodox Jews go to synagogue without fear and gay men hold hands in public without fear. Hungary certainly has problems, but real elections, press that covers both sides, and physical safety for religious and sexual minorities… what else could you ask for in a liberal society?
There is however, something very illiberal about blackmailing countries you don’t like, holding up their COVID aid or freezing their bank reserves until they comply with your wishes. Both the US and the EU do that routinely.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brian Villanueva
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago

Agreed. It is the EU that is the illiberal bureaucratic bully seeking to impose its dictat.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

It is hardly surprising that the EU is an arrogant bully because the driving force behind it is Germany, and due no doubt to a deep seated historical inferiority complex*, Germany is a ‘natural born bully’.

(* Failure to be fully integrated into the Classical Roman Empire perhaps being just one factor.)

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

Clement Attlee once remarked: “I’m not very keen on the Common Market. After all, we beat Germany and we beat Italy and we saved France and Belgium and Holland. I never see why we should go crawling to them.”
That is, the mere fact of EU membership – on any terms – was humiliating in itself. And any mainland European state which refuses to know-tow will always be seen as “arrogant”.
As a Paddy in NI, I can only say that the EU always treated us with much more respect than either London or Dublin ever did. Re the Protocol, the EU flew people in and visited the border region and listened carefully to local business concerns and took them on board. By contrast, Johnson said it was no different from passing from one London borough to the next lol. 

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I seem to recall that the US was rather keen on ‘us’ taking the lead in Europe at the time, but as you say ‘we’ just couldn’t do it. Magnanimity just didn’t stretch that far!
They (US) should have made our enormous tranche of ‘Marshall Aid’ dependent upon it.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Surely they did just that but in a covert, and shared out way. GB and 90% of Europe are currently behaving like vassal states under US ‘persuasion’ (threats more like)..

Last edited 1 year ago by Liam O'Mahony
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

That maybe so, but ‘we’ only have ourselves to blame.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

That maybe so, but ‘we’ only have ourselves to blame.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

We couldn’t do it because we are not Europeans.
We have a system of Common law which the Europeans do not have and do not understand.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Stoater D

Agreed, which makes our entry in The Common Market in 1973 all the more absurd.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

Of course.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

Of course.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Stoater D

Such a good point, and different criminal law elements, and not least that in UK ( well, until woke) all is legal unless illegal, but the opposite in Europe.So few people know, let alone understand this?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Stoater D

Agreed, which makes our entry in The Common Market in 1973 all the more absurd.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Stoater D

Such a good point, and different criminal law elements, and not least that in UK ( well, until woke) all is legal unless illegal, but the opposite in Europe.So few people know, let alone understand this?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Surely they did just that but in a covert, and shared out way. GB and 90% of Europe are currently behaving like vassal states under US ‘persuasion’ (threats more like)..

Last edited 1 year ago by Liam O'Mahony
Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

We couldn’t do it because we are not Europeans.
We have a system of Common law which the Europeans do not have and do not understand.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

..and of course it was the Russians who defeated Nazi Germany with the US and the Brits playing a bit part.. Humility, Gratitude and Shame were never part of the British make up, sadly. It would help them so much now in their hour of need.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

You’re up early today Liam! The Lusitanian sun getting rather hot?

I very much doubt that the Soviets could have done it without US Lend-Lease.
However given the tsunami of Marxist piffle still swilling around in academia I can understand your point.

P Branagan
P Branagan
1 year ago

Ah that superior all knowing AngloSaxon Stanhopeless brain sneering and looking down on everyone else – again.
You should come to the great state of Oklahoma – we’re tough no nonesense folks. We’d sort you out good and proper by injecting a substantial, and very badly needed, element of Christian humility and the brotherhood of all mankind into that sneering hate filled AngloSaxon brain of yours.

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
1 year ago
Reply to  P Branagan

Judge not, lest ye be judged?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  P Branagan

isnt your state named after a musical?

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  P Branagan

You sound pretty hate filled yourself.

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
1 year ago
Reply to  P Branagan

Judge not, lest ye be judged?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  P Branagan

isnt your state named after a musical?

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  P Branagan

You sound pretty hate filled yourself.

P Branagan
P Branagan
1 year ago

Ah that superior all knowing AngloSaxon Stanhopeless brain sneering and looking down on everyone else – again.
You should come to the great state of Oklahoma – we’re tough no nonesense folks. We’d sort you out good and proper by injecting a substantial, and very badly needed, element of Christian humility and the brotherhood of all mankind into that sneering hate filled AngloSaxon brain of yours.

Adrian Neville
Adrian Neville
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

ooh such red minus numbers. But really Liam that is pretty much what I wish to say. British exceptionalism is so last century, but the hold is strong still sadly.

Emre S
Emre S
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Not sure why you got downvoted most for. The former or the latter half.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Russian blood, American machinery, British tech know-how.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

You’re up early today Liam! The Lusitanian sun getting rather hot?

I very much doubt that the Soviets could have done it without US Lend-Lease.
However given the tsunami of Marxist piffle still swilling around in academia I can understand your point.

Adrian Neville
Adrian Neville
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

ooh such red minus numbers. But really Liam that is pretty much what I wish to say. British exceptionalism is so last century, but the hold is strong still sadly.

Emre S
Emre S
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Not sure why you got downvoted most for. The former or the latter half.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Russian blood, American machinery, British tech know-how.

Ian Ogden
Ian Ogden
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Of course the EU did and would as NI is the connection with the UK and losing NI would be akin to cutting off one big toe, there would be a lack of balance in the UK favour. plus having to protect a long border line.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Ogden
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I seem to recall that the US was rather keen on ‘us’ taking the lead in Europe at the time, but as you say ‘we’ just couldn’t do it. Magnanimity just didn’t stretch that far!
They (US) should have made our enormous tranche of ‘Marshall Aid’ dependent upon it.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

..and of course it was the Russians who defeated Nazi Germany with the US and the Brits playing a bit part.. Humility, Gratitude and Shame were never part of the British make up, sadly. It would help them so much now in their hour of need.

Ian Ogden
Ian Ogden
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Of course the EU did and would as NI is the connection with the UK and losing NI would be akin to cutting off one big toe, there would be a lack of balance in the UK favour. plus having to protect a long border line.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Ogden
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Couple of real stretches there Charlie I think.. as usual you’re somewhere between 70 and 1,700 years out of date.. Germans don’t have any kind of inferiority complex. What they do have is a guilt complex and that is to their credit.. you Brits could do with some yourselves.. but no such luck!

Last edited 1 year ago by Liam O'Mahony
Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Guilt? An apologist for a genocidal belief system such as Communism has the gall to prattle of guilt?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

My country never engaged in such heinous war crimes so we have nothing to be ashamed of.. I’m no apologist for any regime but I call out countries that have engaged in such crimes, Russia and China included! The one difference is that they persecuted their own, civil war style etc. Other countries invaded foreign nations with the sole intent of genocide, starvation, enslavement, exploitation and resource theft.. and those actions not only call for shame and guilt but reparation!

Last edited 1 year ago by Liam O'Mahony
Ian Ogden
Ian Ogden
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

You are correct but neglect to say one ex EU member country left most invaded areas in a better state (when allowed to) than before entry.

Ian Ogden
Ian Ogden
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

You are correct but neglect to say one ex EU member country left most invaded areas in a better state (when allowed to) than before entry.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

My country never engaged in such heinous war crimes so we have nothing to be ashamed of.. I’m no apologist for any regime but I call out countries that have engaged in such crimes, Russia and China included! The one difference is that they persecuted their own, civil war style etc. Other countries invaded foreign nations with the sole intent of genocide, starvation, enslavement, exploitation and resource theft.. and those actions not only call for shame and guilt but reparation!

Last edited 1 year ago by Liam O'Mahony
Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Guilt? An apologist for a genocidal belief system such as Communism has the gall to prattle of guilt?

Bruni Schling
Bruni Schling
1 year ago

….and I have told my German friends back home that the crassest forms of Gemanophobia in the UK were a thing of the past. Krautbashing is still well and alive, it seems

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruni Schling

Jawhol mein fuhrer…

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruni Schling

Jawhol mein fuhrer…

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

Clement Attlee once remarked: “I’m not very keen on the Common Market. After all, we beat Germany and we beat Italy and we saved France and Belgium and Holland. I never see why we should go crawling to them.”
That is, the mere fact of EU membership – on any terms – was humiliating in itself. And any mainland European state which refuses to know-tow will always be seen as “arrogant”.
As a Paddy in NI, I can only say that the EU always treated us with much more respect than either London or Dublin ever did. Re the Protocol, the EU flew people in and visited the border region and listened carefully to local business concerns and took them on board. By contrast, Johnson said it was no different from passing from one London borough to the next lol. 

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Couple of real stretches there Charlie I think.. as usual you’re somewhere between 70 and 1,700 years out of date.. Germans don’t have any kind of inferiority complex. What they do have is a guilt complex and that is to their credit.. you Brits could do with some yourselves.. but no such luck!

Last edited 1 year ago by Liam O'Mahony
Bruni Schling
Bruni Schling
1 year ago

….and I have told my German friends back home that the crassest forms of Gemanophobia in the UK were a thing of the past. Krautbashing is still well and alive, it seems

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

It is hardly surprising that the EU is an arrogant bully because the driving force behind it is Germany, and due no doubt to a deep seated historical inferiority complex*, Germany is a ‘natural born bully’.

(* Failure to be fully integrated into the Classical Roman Empire perhaps being just one factor.)

Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago

Well said. The “illiberalism” comes from the Marxist establishment of the west, not from the properly Liberal east of Europe, which can smell the stench of communism from miles away.

Jim Denham
Jim Denham
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

“the Marxist establishment of the west”: are you *seriously* arguing that the ruling classes of the west are actually secret Marxists? Seriously? Or are you, perhaps, thinking of the antisemitic concept of “cultural Marxism”?

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Denham

Since hanging out round here, I’ve come to understand that the definition of Marxist is pretty elastic. A bit like my kids calling anything the tiniest bit unfair, “racist”.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
1 year ago

Yes, I’ve noticed that. Most people don’t seem to have a clue what Marxism is. It is the exact opposite of post modernism but you wouldn’t think it from here.

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Butler
Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Not true. There is a persistent anti-Enlightenment strain in Marxism; indeed, it is found in Marx himself. Nor can it be separated from the bulk of his output, for the very emphasis on perspective – invalidating the perception of reality based on “where the speaker is coming from”, (ie, “bourgeois sophistry”) – carries with it the bacillus of extreme relativism – as Karl Popper unanswerably demonstrates in his “Open Society…” So this latest iteration of lunacy from the left is most certainly and assuredly of Marxist origin. I suspect it is usually Marxists who seek to deny this, in order – with their usual mendacity – to cover their traces.

Last edited 1 year ago by Selwyn Jones
Martin Butler
Martin Butler
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

But relativism is incoherent at the best of times. But surely it is not unreasonable to ask who benefits from a particular point of view? Just as you would hardly trust a tobacco company that put out research showing that smoking is perfectly safe. Despite the flowery language that is all Marx is doing. And I am certainly not a Marxist – Marx was just one of many 19thC writers who said some interesting things about society and economics. He is not responsible for the twits who came after him, but not sure why people get so worked up about him.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

But relativism is incoherent at the best of times. But surely it is not unreasonable to ask who benefits from a particular point of view? Just as you would hardly trust a tobacco company that put out research showing that smoking is perfectly safe. Despite the flowery language that is all Marx is doing. And I am certainly not a Marxist – Marx was just one of many 19thC writers who said some interesting things about society and economics. He is not responsible for the twits who came after him, but not sure why people get so worked up about him.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Boris and his cabinet WERE Marx Brothers, but far less funny…

Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Not true. There is a persistent anti-Enlightenment strain in Marxism; indeed, it is found in Marx himself. Nor can it be separated from the bulk of his output, for the very emphasis on perspective – invalidating the perception of reality based on “where the speaker is coming from”, (ie, “bourgeois sophistry”) – carries with it the bacillus of extreme relativism – as Karl Popper unanswerably demonstrates in his “Open Society…” So this latest iteration of lunacy from the left is most certainly and assuredly of Marxist origin. I suspect it is usually Marxists who seek to deny this, in order – with their usual mendacity – to cover their traces.

Last edited 1 year ago by Selwyn Jones
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Boris and his cabinet WERE Marx Brothers, but far less funny…

Simon S
Simon S
1 year ago

Yes the term seems to be used for denouncing totalitarianism of any kind. I’m not quite sure why.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon S

All Marxists to the left; all Fascists to the right; nothing in between.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon S

All Marxists to the left; all Fascists to the right; nothing in between.

Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago

Perhaps instead of spending so much time heeding the complaints of your “kids” you might care to observe the world beyond the hearth for a moment.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

Marxists always deny that they are in fact, Marxists.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
1 year ago

Yes, I’ve noticed that. Most people don’t seem to have a clue what Marxism is. It is the exact opposite of post modernism but you wouldn’t think it from here.

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Butler
Simon S
Simon S
1 year ago

Yes the term seems to be used for denouncing totalitarianism of any kind. I’m not quite sure why.

Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago

Perhaps instead of spending so much time heeding the complaints of your “kids” you might care to observe the world beyond the hearth for a moment.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

Marxists always deny that they are in fact, Marxists.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Denham

What is antisemitic about cultural Marxism? The weird sh*t infecting our culture seems driven largely by college “educated” white women.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago

Say it sister!

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago

Say it sister!

Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Denham

The usual libellous bilge from an unhinged pink. Cultural Marxism has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. Pretending that it has is a dodge typical of persons who, bankrupt of argument, resort to smears – and of course to the very smear to which Marxism, cultural or otherwise, has such abundant recourse today.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

Can you tell us what cultural Marxism is? I haven’t a clue but I suspect most others don’t either. It is simply a term of abuse.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Woke.

Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

The replacement of “the working class” by the “rainbow coalition” of “marginalised groups” to overthrow a society based on inherited ethno-cultural identity. That is “cultural Marxism”. It involves diluting / overwhelming the religion and / or customs of that ethno-culture whilst casting doubt on even deeper norms which arise from the habits and imperatives natural to humanity as a species. Clear?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

As mud!

Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago

To you, perhaps. A knavish speech and all that…

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

Can’t you take a joke?

Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago

When it’s funny.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

Just as I thought.
Thank you.

Janny Lee
Janny Lee
1 year ago

Oh dear. Children please!

Janny Lee
Janny Lee
1 year ago

Oh dear. Children please!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

Just as I thought.
Thank you.

Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago

When it’s funny.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

Can’t you take a joke?

Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago

To you, perhaps. A knavish speech and all that…

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

What then is ‘ethno-cultural identity’? Sounds like you are buying into the kind of identity politics which is surely part of the idea of a ‘the rainbow coalition’.

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Butler
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Sophistry – and hence typically Marxist – for you know full well that the ethno-cultural identity of an established majority in its homeland is a very different thing from toxic, minority “identity politics” as practised by the left; for the first promotes and the second undermines social stability. Like so many on the left, your comments are less than honest; and replying to them involves disentangling threads which everyone else can see are perfectly distinct.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Sophistry – and hence typically Marxist – for you know full well that the ethno-cultural identity of an established majority in its homeland is a very different thing from toxic, minority “identity politics” as practised by the left; for the first promotes and the second undermines social stability. Like so many on the left, your comments are less than honest; and replying to them involves disentangling threads which everyone else can see are perfectly distinct.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

As mud!

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

What then is ‘ethno-cultural identity’? Sounds like you are buying into the kind of identity politics which is surely part of the idea of a ‘the rainbow coalition’.

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Butler
Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Marx believed all history was based on class struggle; cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School added gender and race to the mix, from there we get via Focault and Derrida, inter-sectionality, sexual preference and transgender… meanwhile class is forgotten, the white workers (once the noble vanguard) despised, and the corporate, academic and adminstrative bourgoisie in the box seat, of not just capitalism but socialism as well playing all sides against the middle to their astonishing profit. Karl and Frederick must be turning in their graves.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Woke.

Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

The replacement of “the working class” by the “rainbow coalition” of “marginalised groups” to overthrow a society based on inherited ethno-cultural identity. That is “cultural Marxism”. It involves diluting / overwhelming the religion and / or customs of that ethno-culture whilst casting doubt on even deeper norms which arise from the habits and imperatives natural to humanity as a species. Clear?

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Marx believed all history was based on class struggle; cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School added gender and race to the mix, from there we get via Focault and Derrida, inter-sectionality, sexual preference and transgender… meanwhile class is forgotten, the white workers (once the noble vanguard) despised, and the corporate, academic and adminstrative bourgoisie in the box seat, of not just capitalism but socialism as well playing all sides against the middle to their astonishing profit. Karl and Frederick must be turning in their graves.

michael harris
michael harris
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

I think it’s fairly clear that what Jim Denham meant (and said) was that the concept/label ‘Cultural Marxism’ is an anti-semitic slur. Thinking, I suppose, of Theodore Adorno, Judith Butler and others.
California Marxism might be an apter name, or German Marxism.
Heck, was Hegel a Marxist rather than Marx a Hegelian? Oh dear, could Marx have been an anti semite?
And so on, round and round the maze of naming. Enough, already!

Last edited 1 year ago by michael harris
Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  michael harris

He certainly said some very nasty things about his fellows on that score.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  michael harris

He certainly said some very nasty things about his fellows on that score.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

Can you tell us what cultural Marxism is? I haven’t a clue but I suspect most others don’t either. It is simply a term of abuse.

michael harris
michael harris
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

I think it’s fairly clear that what Jim Denham meant (and said) was that the concept/label ‘Cultural Marxism’ is an anti-semitic slur. Thinking, I suppose, of Theodore Adorno, Judith Butler and others.
California Marxism might be an apter name, or German Marxism.
Heck, was Hegel a Marxist rather than Marx a Hegelian? Oh dear, could Marx have been an anti semite?
And so on, round and round the maze of naming. Enough, already!

Last edited 1 year ago by michael harris
Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Denham

What is seriously being argue is rather something like this: “Liberalism’s intolerance springs from fear of its inherent nihilism. Liberals are nihilists too cowardly to face their own nihilism.” Harry Neumann

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Denham

Since hanging out round here, I’ve come to understand that the definition of Marxist is pretty elastic. A bit like my kids calling anything the tiniest bit unfair, “racist”.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Denham

What is antisemitic about cultural Marxism? The weird sh*t infecting our culture seems driven largely by college “educated” white women.

Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Denham

The usual libellous bilge from an unhinged pink. Cultural Marxism has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. Pretending that it has is a dodge typical of persons who, bankrupt of argument, resort to smears – and of course to the very smear to which Marxism, cultural or otherwise, has such abundant recourse today.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Denham

What is seriously being argue is rather something like this: “Liberalism’s intolerance springs from fear of its inherent nihilism. Liberals are nihilists too cowardly to face their own nihilism.” Harry Neumann

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

If there is a stench from Communism then Unbridled, war-driven, US style Capitalism has the stench of death and decay every bit as bad as (far worse in my opinion than) Communism. I guess if you’re in the top 10% you’re happy to put up with the smell as you are always upwind of it.. If you’re among bottom 50% Communism looks a far better deal I submit.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

The 100 million souls murdered by Communism would likely disagree.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

And so would many of the living, who have lived in squalor for generations. If you have to build a wall to keep people from leaving, that’s a pretty good indication. (side note to A.O.C.)

michael harris
michael harris
1 year ago

Souls, Alison, are immortal. it was their poor bodies that were slaughtered.

Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago

Well said. But I suspect that words are wasted on such a catastrophically ignorant apologist for communism.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

And so would many of the living, who have lived in squalor for generations. If you have to build a wall to keep people from leaving, that’s a pretty good indication. (side note to A.O.C.)

michael harris
michael harris
1 year ago

Souls, Alison, are immortal. it was their poor bodies that were slaughtered.

Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago

Well said. But I suspect that words are wasted on such a catastrophically ignorant apologist for communism.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Time for your pill now, Liam

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Neither Communism or Capitalism actually exist – or ever have. You’re confusing the product with its branding. The choice is only between oligarchy and democracy.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

“If there is a stench from Communism then Unbridled, war-driven, US style Capitalism has the stench of death and decay every bit as bad as (far worse in my opinion than) Communism.”
Few comments make me speechless. But congratulations.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

He pinched it from Hobsbawm.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

He pinched it from Hobsbawm.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

You are confusing capitalism with corporatism.
Capitalism is simply the free market or business everyone would be poor without it.
Corporatism is when huge media companies and banking organisations
control governments and make the people poor and less free.
EG, the climate change grift.

Janny Lee
Janny Lee
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Watch out. He’s here again.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

The 100 million souls murdered by Communism would likely disagree.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Time for your pill now, Liam

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Neither Communism or Capitalism actually exist – or ever have. You’re confusing the product with its branding. The choice is only between oligarchy and democracy.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

“If there is a stench from Communism then Unbridled, war-driven, US style Capitalism has the stench of death and decay every bit as bad as (far worse in my opinion than) Communism.”
Few comments make me speechless. But congratulations.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

You are confusing capitalism with corporatism.
Capitalism is simply the free market or business everyone would be poor without it.
Corporatism is when huge media companies and banking organisations
control governments and make the people poor and less free.
EG, the climate change grift.

Janny Lee
Janny Lee
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Watch out. He’s here again.

Jim Denham
Jim Denham
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

“the Marxist establishment of the west”: are you *seriously* arguing that the ruling classes of the west are actually secret Marxists? Seriously? Or are you, perhaps, thinking of the antisemitic concept of “cultural Marxism”?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

If there is a stench from Communism then Unbridled, war-driven, US style Capitalism has the stench of death and decay every bit as bad as (far worse in my opinion than) Communism. I guess if you’re in the top 10% you’re happy to put up with the smell as you are always upwind of it.. If you’re among bottom 50% Communism looks a far better deal I submit.

Thomas Fazi
Thomas Fazi
1 year ago

1) “Illiberal democracy” is not a slur but that a term that Orban and others have themselves used for themselves in a positive sense.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hungary-orban-idUSKBN1KI0BK
2) The EU is liberal – in the sense that it places a high emphasis on individual rights and rule of law (even though quite selectively applied) – but it’s not a democracy.
The problem seems to be that you conflate liberalism and democracy when historically the two are very different things.

Last edited 1 year ago by Thomas Fazi
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Fazi

With perhaps the sole exception of Switzerland there is NO democracy in the West that either Pericles, Diogenes or even Demosthenes would recognise.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Oh no, again I agree Charlie! Today we have the best governments than money can buy! Sure, unlike classical Greece even women can vote now!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Wasn’t it the women’s vote that got Herr Hitler into power?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Wasn’t it the women’s vote that got Herr Hitler into power?

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 year ago

Pure democracy has another name… mob rule.

Charles Savage
Charles Savage
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

And it will be the women’s vote in Scotland that gets rid of the SNP!

Charles Savage
Charles Savage
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

And it will be the women’s vote in Scotland that gets rid of the SNP!

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
1 year ago

Yes, thank goodness for that. Direct democracy is usually a disaster as it was in ancient Greece. Even then it only covered a select few of the populace.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Too many wannabe Alcibiades!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Too many wannabe Alcibiades!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Oh no, again I agree Charlie! Today we have the best governments than money can buy! Sure, unlike classical Greece even women can vote now!

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 year ago

Pure democracy has another name… mob rule.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
1 year ago

Yes, thank goodness for that. Direct democracy is usually a disaster as it was in ancient Greece. Even then it only covered a select few of the populace.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Fazi

Liberalism has too quite distinct meanings these days: Classic liberalism meaning a respect for individual freedoms and Liberal Capitalism meaning the 1% are entirely free to amass obscene wealth, bribe politicians into total submission and grind the 90% into increasing poverty. The latter type of ‘liberalism’ is, in reality, total economic control and so much closer to Totalitarianism.
Just like the word Spohisticated now means almost the opposite of it’s original meaning. Similarly news is now what we used to call propaganda while truth is now called propaganda so truth tellers are accused of treachery and apologism (I made up the last word; why not.. these days I’m entitled!)

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Fazi

With perhaps the sole exception of Switzerland there is NO democracy in the West that either Pericles, Diogenes or even Demosthenes would recognise.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Fazi

Liberalism has too quite distinct meanings these days: Classic liberalism meaning a respect for individual freedoms and Liberal Capitalism meaning the 1% are entirely free to amass obscene wealth, bribe politicians into total submission and grind the 90% into increasing poverty. The latter type of ‘liberalism’ is, in reality, total economic control and so much closer to Totalitarianism.
Just like the word Spohisticated now means almost the opposite of it’s original meaning. Similarly news is now what we used to call propaganda while truth is now called propaganda so truth tellers are accused of treachery and apologism (I made up the last word; why not.. these days I’m entitled!)

David McKee
David McKee
1 year ago

“…. and gay men hold hands in public without fear.”
Hm, well, I would not be too sure about that. (https://www.euronews.com/my-europe/2021/07/23/what-s-it-like-to-be-lgbt-in-hungary-amid-orban-s-rights-crackdown)
What is rather more to the point is that Orban is a notable dissenter in the West’s pro-Ukraine support. Great news for Putin, bad news for us.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  David McKee

Orban seems more motivated by the meddling by the US in his nation. All it took was a Tucker interview and the resist response in return – then Orban fell off the approved list.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  David McKee

Orban seems more motivated by the meddling by the US in his nation. All it took was a Tucker interview and the resist response in return – then Orban fell off the approved list.

Darren Turner
Darren Turner
1 year ago

You are absolutely spot on. In general, EU/Western moralising about other cultures is at best annoying and at worst racist. Encourage by all means, but lecturing and moralising is not acceptable. I know I feel very safe at night in Eastern European city centres, I can’t say I feel the same in any Western European city centres.

Sam M.
Sam M.
1 year ago

It seems strange to say the word “illiberal” is some kind of slur, and then go on to say, “there is nothing illiberal about Hungary.” But you seem to be widely overstepping the fact that Victor Orban often uses the word “illiberal” to describe Hungary, has used it for at least a decade, and clearly is proud of giving Hungary the title of “illiberal state.” In other words you make is sound unfair to use a word to describe Hungary that its own leaders use to describe it as well.
If you are going to go on the defense because somebody uses some word that triggers you, maybe you should at least familiarize yourself with the basic facts surrounding your grievance first! Because it seriously undermines the rest of your argument, even for someone who is sympathetic to it like me.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

Very well said. Liberalism increasingly means whatever the unholy alliance of ivory tower academics, environmentalist nuts, and globalist oligarchs decide that it means, and anyone who doesn’t agree is a racist, xenophobic, knuckle-dragging troglodyte. When shame and persuasion stop working, they resort to blackmail and extortion. Once that stops working they’ll punish dissidents using whatever means they have available.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago

Apart from calling some of the Eastern European Countries “post-liberal” (they are certainly trying to block some of the “liberal” undemocratic EU Commission’s/President’s decisions ), the author also inaccurately states that “the velvet curtain” symbolises a cultural line between Western Catholic/Protestant nations and an Eastern Orthodox Europe, stating in his article that Orthodox Christians are supposedly more family oriented. I can’t think of more Catholic Nations than Poland, Slovakia and a big portion of Hungary. There are some Orthodox minorities in the Baltic, but Lithuania has a huge Catholic population, leading back to the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth.
The big difference in culture is that Eastern Europe seems to be still more conservative and religious compared to the woke and PC West. I would also argue, that most of Eastern governments are highly sceptical about the slavish faith in NetZero, which will eventually bring the industrial power of mighty “Green” Germany to a sudden halt.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago

Thanks, you saved me replaying directly to author claims about “velvet curtain”.
Western Slaws (Poles, Czechs, Slovakians) and Hungarians are Catholic.
But Romanians, Bulgarians and Serbians are mostly Orthodox.
Even then divisions, in Poland anyway, are between quite woke population of big cities and more culturally traditional denizens od small cities and villages.
What unites traditionalists and some of modernists is refusal to allow mass immigration of culturally incompatible people like Muslims and Africans.
Which EU is trying to impose via quota mechanism.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago

Thanks, you saved me replaying directly to author claims about “velvet curtain”.
Western Slaws (Poles, Czechs, Slovakians) and Hungarians are Catholic.
But Romanians, Bulgarians and Serbians are mostly Orthodox.
Even then divisions, in Poland anyway, are between quite woke population of big cities and more culturally traditional denizens od small cities and villages.
What unites traditionalists and some of modernists is refusal to allow mass immigration of culturally incompatible people like Muslims and Africans.
Which EU is trying to impose via quota mechanism.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago

Agreed. It is the EU that is the illiberal bureaucratic bully seeking to impose its dictat.

Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
1 year ago

Well said. The “illiberalism” comes from the Marxist establishment of the west, not from the properly Liberal east of Europe, which can smell the stench of communism from miles away.

Thomas Fazi
Thomas Fazi
1 year ago

1) “Illiberal democracy” is not a slur but that a term that Orban and others have themselves used for themselves in a positive sense.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hungary-orban-idUSKBN1KI0BK
2) The EU is liberal – in the sense that it places a high emphasis on individual rights and rule of law (even though quite selectively applied) – but it’s not a democracy.
The problem seems to be that you conflate liberalism and democracy when historically the two are very different things.

Last edited 1 year ago by Thomas Fazi
David McKee
David McKee
1 year ago

“…. and gay men hold hands in public without fear.”
Hm, well, I would not be too sure about that. (https://www.euronews.com/my-europe/2021/07/23/what-s-it-like-to-be-lgbt-in-hungary-amid-orban-s-rights-crackdown)
What is rather more to the point is that Orban is a notable dissenter in the West’s pro-Ukraine support. Great news for Putin, bad news for us.

Darren Turner
Darren Turner
1 year ago

You are absolutely spot on. In general, EU/Western moralising about other cultures is at best annoying and at worst racist. Encourage by all means, but lecturing and moralising is not acceptable. I know I feel very safe at night in Eastern European city centres, I can’t say I feel the same in any Western European city centres.

Sam M.
Sam M.
1 year ago

It seems strange to say the word “illiberal” is some kind of slur, and then go on to say, “there is nothing illiberal about Hungary.” But you seem to be widely overstepping the fact that Victor Orban often uses the word “illiberal” to describe Hungary, has used it for at least a decade, and clearly is proud of giving Hungary the title of “illiberal state.” In other words you make is sound unfair to use a word to describe Hungary that its own leaders use to describe it as well.
If you are going to go on the defense because somebody uses some word that triggers you, maybe you should at least familiarize yourself with the basic facts surrounding your grievance first! Because it seriously undermines the rest of your argument, even for someone who is sympathetic to it like me.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

Very well said. Liberalism increasingly means whatever the unholy alliance of ivory tower academics, environmentalist nuts, and globalist oligarchs decide that it means, and anyone who doesn’t agree is a racist, xenophobic, knuckle-dragging troglodyte. When shame and persuasion stop working, they resort to blackmail and extortion. Once that stops working they’ll punish dissidents using whatever means they have available.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago

Apart from calling some of the Eastern European Countries “post-liberal” (they are certainly trying to block some of the “liberal” undemocratic EU Commission’s/President’s decisions ), the author also inaccurately states that “the velvet curtain” symbolises a cultural line between Western Catholic/Protestant nations and an Eastern Orthodox Europe, stating in his article that Orthodox Christians are supposedly more family oriented. I can’t think of more Catholic Nations than Poland, Slovakia and a big portion of Hungary. There are some Orthodox minorities in the Baltic, but Lithuania has a huge Catholic population, leading back to the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth.
The big difference in culture is that Eastern Europe seems to be still more conservative and religious compared to the woke and PC West. I would also argue, that most of Eastern governments are highly sceptical about the slavish faith in NetZero, which will eventually bring the industrial power of mighty “Green” Germany to a sudden halt.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago

“It was widely believed that the EU’s universalist project would smooth out any major social and cultural differences between West and East”
Much like it was widely believed that China’s embrace of capitalism would smooth over its authoritarianism and gradually liberalize its governance.
Two of the largest foreign policy errors of the last 80 years, both made by the same people. And they (or others who went to the same universities and think the same way) are still in charge.
“the turn towards ‘illiberal’ or ‘post-liberal’ democracy in various CEE countries”
This is just not accurate and it’s high time to stop using it as a slur against Eastern Europe. The EU is the “illiberal” actor on this stage. Believing that different groups of people have different historical cultures and will produce slightly different governance structures isn’t giving up on liberalism at all. Look at France vs the USA: very different, but both liberal countries. Similarly, there’s nothing illiberal about Hungary. There are real elections. There is real media (with 2 sides, unlike in most of Europe or the USA). Unlike in most of Western Europe though, in Budapest, Orthodox Jews go to synagogue without fear and gay men hold hands in public without fear. Hungary certainly has problems, but real elections, press that covers both sides, and physical safety for religious and sexual minorities… what else could you ask for in a liberal society?
There is however, something very illiberal about blackmailing countries you don’t like, holding up their COVID aid or freezing their bank reserves until they comply with your wishes. Both the US and the EU do that routinely.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brian Villanueva
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

Worth saying that while elite opinion may differ, there are huge constituencies in Western Europe who look on Eastern Europe’s response to wokeism with great envy.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

Worth saying that while elite opinion may differ, there are huge constituencies in Western Europe who look on Eastern Europe’s response to wokeism with great envy.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
1 year ago

‘while Eastern Europe has been predominantly Orthodox’
Poland is about 95% Catholic.
About 70% of Lithuanians are Catholic.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Quite. Estonia is Lutheran. Hungary has just about every variant of non-Orthodox Christianity, but mainly Catholic. Romania like Hungary, but now very Orthodox. Czechia and Slovakia are Catholic.
The whole thing is far more complicated than a simple East/West split into two distinct blocs.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Hungary used to be mostly Protestant. I suppose they all ended up in Ukraine and Romania, or simply, as with the Magyars, dead.

Sarolta Rónai
Sarolta Rónai
1 year ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

It was around the end of the 16th century that the majority of Hungary was protestant (overwhelmingly Calvinist with some Lutherans as well). But after the Ottoman empire was pushed out of Hungary and Hungary was reunified with Transylvania under the Catholic Habsburgs, many Protestants re-catholized, some due to the pressure, some voluntarily as it was feared that Catholic-Protestant religious heterogenity would endanger the national unity (but this fear turned out to be non-justified).
Today about 20-25% of religious people are Calvinists, with 8-10 % Lutheran and about 60% Catholic.
Magyars are absolutely not dead: “magyar” means Hungarian in Hungarian and we are very much alive.

Sarolta Rónai
Sarolta Rónai
1 year ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

It was around the end of the 16th century that the majority of Hungary was protestant (overwhelmingly Calvinist with some Lutherans as well). But after the Ottoman empire was pushed out of Hungary and Hungary was reunified with Transylvania under the Catholic Habsburgs, many Protestants re-catholized, some due to the pressure, some voluntarily as it was feared that Catholic-Protestant religious heterogenity would endanger the national unity (but this fear turned out to be non-justified).
Today about 20-25% of religious people are Calvinists, with 8-10 % Lutheran and about 60% Catholic.
Magyars are absolutely not dead: “magyar” means Hungarian in Hungarian and we are very much alive.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Put more accurately, these countries USED to practice these religions.. you forget the churches are more or less empty these days. More people today follow the Kardashians than the Christ!

Last edited 1 year ago by Liam O'Mahony
Charlie Dibsdale
Charlie Dibsdale
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

The piece also omits to discuss the UK and our attitude toward the US and the growing relationship with Poland, and most importantly our military support of Ukraine since 2014 (albeit small, but it was far more than France and especially Germany)

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Czechia was Catholic. It is now probably least religious country in Europe.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Hungary used to be mostly Protestant. I suppose they all ended up in Ukraine and Romania, or simply, as with the Magyars, dead.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Put more accurately, these countries USED to practice these religions.. you forget the churches are more or less empty these days. More people today follow the Kardashians than the Christ!

Last edited 1 year ago by Liam O'Mahony
Charlie Dibsdale
Charlie Dibsdale
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

The piece also omits to discuss the UK and our attitude toward the US and the growing relationship with Poland, and most importantly our military support of Ukraine since 2014 (albeit small, but it was far more than France and especially Germany)

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Czechia was Catholic. It is now probably least religious country in Europe.

Isabel Ward
Isabel Ward
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Indeed. What should be said is their take on Catholicism is more conservative and thus more closely resembles Catholicism.

Nigel Rodgers
Nigel Rodgers
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia are also predominantly Catholic, although religious affiliation is fading there as elsewhere. Whatever the divide between Mitteleuropa and western Europe, it is not based on religion.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Nigel Rodgers

Indeed: the Czech Republic is the most irreligious nation in Europe, at least if the surveys are to be believed

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

The legacy of burning Jan Hus*, whilst supposedly under ‘safe conduct ‘!

“You may burn a weak Goose…………..”.

(* The word for Goose in Czech.)

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

The legacy of burning Jan Hus*, whilst supposedly under ‘safe conduct ‘!

“You may burn a weak Goose…………..”.

(* The word for Goose in Czech.)

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Nigel Rodgers

Indeed: the Czech Republic is the most irreligious nation in Europe, at least if the surveys are to be believed

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

You omitted the word Roman.. without it COE are catholics.. though you did use a capital C.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Correct!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Correct!

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Quite. Estonia is Lutheran. Hungary has just about every variant of non-Orthodox Christianity, but mainly Catholic. Romania like Hungary, but now very Orthodox. Czechia and Slovakia are Catholic.
The whole thing is far more complicated than a simple East/West split into two distinct blocs.

Isabel Ward
Isabel Ward
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Indeed. What should be said is their take on Catholicism is more conservative and thus more closely resembles Catholicism.

Nigel Rodgers
Nigel Rodgers
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia are also predominantly Catholic, although religious affiliation is fading there as elsewhere. Whatever the divide between Mitteleuropa and western Europe, it is not based on religion.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

You omitted the word Roman.. without it COE are catholics.. though you did use a capital C.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
1 year ago

‘while Eastern Europe has been predominantly Orthodox’
Poland is about 95% Catholic.
About 70% of Lithuanians are Catholic.

David McKee
David McKee
1 year ago

The views ascribed to Huntingdon (hidden behind a paywall) are simplistic in the extreme. There is a religious cleavage in Europe, but it’s much further east than the old Iron Curtain.

What animates CEE is being stuck between two powerful and historically aggressive countries – Germany and Russia. It was the desire not to be a weak buffer zone between these two powers that persuaded CEE to join NATO.

The fact of the matter is that CEE countries think for themselves. They are not the chorus line behind France and Germany.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  David McKee

Having been let down by France (e.g. Czechoslovakia) and invaded by Germany and then the Soviet Union, they are well advised to think for themselves.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

You can blame most of that on the Treaty/Dictate of Trianon (1920.)

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

..as we are are!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

You can blame most of that on the Treaty/Dictate of Trianon (1920.)

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

..as we are are!

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  David McKee

Having been let down by France (e.g. Czechoslovakia) and invaded by Germany and then the Soviet Union, they are well advised to think for themselves.

David McKee
David McKee
1 year ago

The views ascribed to Huntingdon (hidden behind a paywall) are simplistic in the extreme. There is a religious cleavage in Europe, but it’s much further east than the old Iron Curtain.

What animates CEE is being stuck between two powerful and historically aggressive countries – Germany and Russia. It was the desire not to be a weak buffer zone between these two powers that persuaded CEE to join NATO.

The fact of the matter is that CEE countries think for themselves. They are not the chorus line behind France and Germany.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

The East Europeans will be well aware of the instability in The Russian Federation. What we call Russia in an empire run from Moscow. Whether Putin prevails or loses in The Ukraine, the situation in Russia will not remain static. I would argue that he has already lost, and that The Russian Federation could easily descend into semi-chaos if Moscow’s grip weakens.
Thomas Fazi will be aware that a Polish – Lithuanian state, incoporating western Ukraine, has existed before and might look attractive again. As the cornerstone of such an entity, Poland would do well to arm itself as much as possible, and await developments.

Last edited 1 year ago by polidori redux
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

They can align themselves with the US as they are doing already. The US might have some difficulty keeping its jackboot on the neck of all of Europe but it will find a willing vassal in the (greater) Poland you describe; and of course having its 51st state on Russia’s doorstep (and the EU’s) will suit the US wonderfully. Far easier to drive a wedge between the EU and Russia that way than try to coral the ‘awkward’ French into the mix. Germany might as well revert to the old East-West arrangement but with a Protocol rather than a border like NI? I think that will make everyone happy, except the Russians but when did anyone care what the Russians want?

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Our resident swivel-eyed fanatic is on manoeuvres!

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Have you ever considered that based on lessons of history, USA is the only viable ally of Poland?
Germany and French policy of strategic independence from USA is just nonsense for both economic and military reason.
And their appeasement of Russian aggressions turned out to be wrong policy.
So no wonder that countries which might be next on Russia wish list are looking to USA for leadership and security.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Our resident swivel-eyed fanatic is on manoeuvres!

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Have you ever considered that based on lessons of history, USA is the only viable ally of Poland?
Germany and French policy of strategic independence from USA is just nonsense for both economic and military reason.
And their appeasement of Russian aggressions turned out to be wrong policy.
So no wonder that countries which might be next on Russia wish list are looking to USA for leadership and security.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Yes, that state existed but since then relations between Lithuanians and Poles were not that friendly because of territorial disputes over Wilno etc.
Obviously not as bad as between Poles and Ukranians.
For those interested, pour yourself stiff drink and watch movie “Wolyn”.
Former Polish PM and EU Council President newer denied rumour that Putin offered him partition of Ukraine.
But there is neither desire or any benefit to Poland of ever considering return to lost lands.
For a start, Polish inhabitants were resetled by Stalin first in Siberia and Kazakhstan and then in what is now Western Poland.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

“Yes, that state existed but since then relations between Lithuanians and Poles were not that friendly because of territorial disputes over Wilno etc.”
But they are united in their (justified) fear of Russia.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

“Yes, that state existed but since then relations between Lithuanians and Poles were not that friendly because of territorial disputes over Wilno etc.”
But they are united in their (justified) fear of Russia.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

They can align themselves with the US as they are doing already. The US might have some difficulty keeping its jackboot on the neck of all of Europe but it will find a willing vassal in the (greater) Poland you describe; and of course having its 51st state on Russia’s doorstep (and the EU’s) will suit the US wonderfully. Far easier to drive a wedge between the EU and Russia that way than try to coral the ‘awkward’ French into the mix. Germany might as well revert to the old East-West arrangement but with a Protocol rather than a border like NI? I think that will make everyone happy, except the Russians but when did anyone care what the Russians want?

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Yes, that state existed but since then relations between Lithuanians and Poles were not that friendly because of territorial disputes over Wilno etc.
Obviously not as bad as between Poles and Ukranians.
For those interested, pour yourself stiff drink and watch movie “Wolyn”.
Former Polish PM and EU Council President newer denied rumour that Putin offered him partition of Ukraine.
But there is neither desire or any benefit to Poland of ever considering return to lost lands.
For a start, Polish inhabitants were resetled by Stalin first in Siberia and Kazakhstan and then in what is now Western Poland.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

The East Europeans will be well aware of the instability in The Russian Federation. What we call Russia in an empire run from Moscow. Whether Putin prevails or loses in The Ukraine, the situation in Russia will not remain static. I would argue that he has already lost, and that The Russian Federation could easily descend into semi-chaos if Moscow’s grip weakens.
Thomas Fazi will be aware that a Polish – Lithuanian state, incoporating western Ukraine, has existed before and might look attractive again. As the cornerstone of such an entity, Poland would do well to arm itself as much as possible, and await developments.

Last edited 1 year ago by polidori redux
Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
1 year ago

The countries need to split from the EU and close down the communist monster that is being created.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Russia hasn’t been Communist for a long time! Are you referring to Communist China?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Russia hasn’t been Communist for a long time! Are you referring to Communist China?

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
1 year ago

The countries need to split from the EU and close down the communist monster that is being created.

stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago

Despite the ideological differences, the ”Old Europe” has wasted no time in exploiting the emergence and development of a large economy which Poland represents. There is a large Franco-German presence in retail, some in banking, also in infrastructure development where EU investments are finding their way back westwards. I’m guessing the same actors just can’t wait to expand into Ukraine if and when Ukraine manages to kick out the Russians. As an aside, I believe Macron and France in general are the greatest threat to European unity.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Your last two sentences are completely and utterly wrong.. Russia will NEVER be driven out of East+South Ukraine. France is very keen on a united Europe but with France leading it of course..

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Ukraine is finished already.
Zelenskyy cannot give up because the Nazis in his army will kill him if he negotiates.
Zelenskyy will continue to send old men and young men to their deaths.
Zelenskyy is no hero, he’s a crook.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Stoater D

I agree 100% with all you say, except Zelenskyy goes abroad a lot.. what’s to stop him staying there? He has loads of dosh!

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

He will end up in exile in the US by the end of the year.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Stoater D

How very unfortunate!

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

Why ?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Stoater D

Would you want to ‘retire’ to the USA?

Magali
Magali
1 year ago