Weekly Reading List: Did we miscalculate Eastern European Ultra-Nationalism?

I would like to thank at the outset, to Katja Lihtenvalner who pointed it out to me, the shocking xenophobic posters coming up in Slovenia. (Photo by Nina Krajčinović)CSZjp19UwAEsKeM

For those who can’t read, it points out to random young people saying how Hitler was right, and the refugees should be gassed or shot en masse, to save Europe. Ironic, as it seems East Europeans forgot what Hitler did to them, considering them Untermensch beneath the Aryan race of the North-West Europe, and how Eastern Europeans migrated to the New World to flee Second World war, or even during the immediate aftermath of the collapse of Soviet Union, for a better life in the West.

Here’s my hypothesis. We never really understood the character of East Europe.

The fault lies in understanding of East Europe’s character. Eastern Europe was never liberal nor multicultural, not during second world war, not after it, neither during the Cold war, never after it. The fact that the resistance movements in Eastern Europe against Nazi occupation was not a leftist or socialist movement, nor a Western liberal democratic movement against Fascism, although they got considerable help from both the sides and often adopted their political rhetoric. The primary resistance started against Nazism was by the ultra-right Nationalists. It was a Serbian nationalist who shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand and started the First world war. It was ultra right nationalists who were the partisans against both the Nazi and Soviet forces.

The Hungarian revolt against the Soviets as well as the Czech revolt of 1968 were both by nationalists. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the subsequent rhetoric was that East Europe was a heaven of Western Liberal free market democracy. What it failed to understand  was the unique, insular, and Clanist Tribalistic character of the region. East Europe was never united, and the unique religious cultural character orthodoxy of the region always instigated extreme xenophobia in times which are strenuous. Yes, Prague was the original Bohemia, but Prague was also the safe heaven of extreme Russian right wing groups just immediately after Cold war (for those of us old enough to remember). Eastern Europeans took all the benefit of a EU zone and free market and moved in and resettled in different parts of Europe, as long as the society back home stayed linear, conservative, extremely homogenous and mono-cultural. Added to that is a victimhood which runs for over five hundred years, which puts East Europe as the battle ground of western forces and eastern empires, and also simultaneously develops a psyche as the vanguard of Christendom against Muslim invasion from the East.

Samuel Huntington wrote about this. Walter Russell Mead wrote about this over three years ago. So did James Traub wrote an entire series recently in Foreign Policy, which almost echoed my earlier paper, where I stated that Hungary is just a start in a new era of ethno-nationalism.

Here’s my this week’s columns talking about the sad irony of Eastern Europeans forgetting the lessons of history.

Eastern Europe’s selective amnesia and return of ultra-nationalism

and my second column, where I analyse the elections of Canada and Poland.

Tale of two elections

Let me know if I missed anything!


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1 Comment

  1. smrad

    you can’t even find slovenia on the map, but looking up a few wikipedia articles made you an expert

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