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The Caviar Elite’s Affair with Popular Sovereignty – An Essay By Mária Schmidt, Chief Director Of The House Of Terror Museum

Four years of war and four years of revolution
destroyed the work of several generations.
Reconstruction will require several generations.
Anything else is illusion and self-deception.

Ferrero

Popular Sovereignty

From the First World War which broke out hundred years ago, a new world was born. The year 1917 became decisive for the future of Europe. The February revolution, followed by the Bolshevik coup sent the Russia of the Tsars to the grave and introduced a new untested government formula, while spreading the universal promise to create a new order based on social equality and devoid of exploitation, following Marx’s teachings. Once it would eliminate conflicts between social classes, it would also put an end to its own rule and would lead us to Communism – the perfect society. While Europe was looking increasingly anaemic after the huge loss of blood suffered in great power confrontations, it was offered an alternative universal promise – US President Woodrow Wilson’s 14-point scheme. From that moment on, the whole of 20th century history, namely the fate of our continent and, by implication, the world as a whole, were to be marked by the competition between those two worldviews.

During the last year of the war, the ruling dynasties of Europe fell one after the other. The Romanovs, the Hohenzollerns, the Habsburgs. The Sultan of Turkey was chased from his throne; and much of our continent gave up or rather was forced to give up its monarchic and aristocratic ideals of organising its societies and opt, in the spirit of an apparently utterly modern promise, for majoritarian democracy based on popular sovereignty. That was the endpoint of a process that by the second half of the 19th century had resulted in a sweeping democratic transformation of monarchies, as well as by an alliance of Throne and Parliament – that is constitutional monarchy.

When after World War I the countries of Central and Eastern Europe were compelled to replace legitimacy based on sacrality with the principle of popular sovereignty, that change was received as being forcibly imposed from outside and an expression of foreign rule exercised by the victors. New forms of government take a long time to be accepted anyway, so the more so when the rule based on popular sovereignty is not supported by the will of the people. In fact, no referenda were or could be held on the introduction of the Republic, not unlike in the case of the new borders where the principle of national self-determination was only allowed to prevail in exceptional cases. The legitimacy of democratic regimes was thus being undermined from the very start which made them vulnerable and shaky. The feeling of insecurity around legitimacy was further aggravated by the peace system which was based by its creators on utopian principles while fully ignoring considerations of realpolitik which would have produced agreements taking into account reciprocal interests.

The competing utopian views of the future were equally universalist in their ambitions. They saw sovereign nation-states as obstacles to defeat and overcome and their particular interests as hindrances to the ambitious projects that would require world-wide revolution according to the communists, while a world government according to the democrats, that is global power centres in both cases. Therefore. they set up international organisations which on the one hand were due to promote the communist world-wide revolution, while on the other they were meant to make the world a safe place for democrats. The communists put through most of their will via the Comintern and later on via the Cominform, but after having closely worked together with the Western democracies during their joint war experience from 1941 to 1945, they had no difficulty in cooperating with their rivals in international organisations run by the Westerners, including the US. After having defined their separate spheres of influence, they both considered in fact making national sovereignty unviable or at least rolling them back as their joint interest.

Thus, in the new post-war world the aristocratic-monarchic order based on inheritance was replaced by popular sovereignty and majoritarian democracy based on popular representation. In the democratic system. members of Parliament are being chosen in free elections and then are responsible for exercising state power; promulgate laws and leading the government. In those systems, the majority has the right to govern, while the minority has a right to criticise those in power availing itself of the right to free speech, free organisation and the freedom of press in order to be able to try and convince the majority of the electorate to opt for its alternative at the next election. When those conditions are met, the power exercised by the political force voted into government is legitimate and constitutional. In the first half of the 20th century, the League of Nations, created upon an initiative by the Anglo-Saxon powers had the task of putting into practice the peace treaties which were meant to put an end to World War I as well as to shape a global method and procedure of conflict management which would allow the old and new forces in power to put their imperial interests through, while adapting to the requirements of the new world. International organisations are in fact inclined to leaving the incumbent dominating influence in the background; de-personalising it and acting as independent from it. As the United States confined its role in the League of Nations to financing while staying away from its deliberations, the organisation remained under the guidance of Great Britain, which concentrated its efforts on the survival of the British World Empire; not unlike its successors, the United Nations with its subsidiaries being under US control or the European Union being controlled by Germany. The job of the global organisations is to hide from us the real intentions, interests and actors behind the processes and the measures being taken. The impression UN peacekeeping troops make on local populations is very different from the one American, British or French Armed Forces would make. It is easier to make the public accept austerity measures and a debt trap when they are imposed by the IMF, the European Bank and the Council of Europe than it would be, were they simply dictated by the Germans. However, after a certain time, the officials running the global organisations start believing their own stories and considering themselves to be autonomous players. While keeping their own interests in mind, they attempt to subordinate elected politicians who have been voted into office and can be voted out to the interests of international bureaucracy which forms a separate cast. Unlike those leaders, most representatives of the bureaucratic castes are faceless and unaccountable.

Anyone who has ever tried to convince a bouncer
of anything, may have an idea about where the actual place
of the intelligentsia is in society.

István Kemény

The Bureaucratic Caste

And that leads us to the present day European Union. The European Union and its organisations have by now undeniably been placed under the control of European bureaucrats. Their employees, whether being civil servants or members of political bodies draw huge salaries. Their revenues are way above the European or even the world average, coupled with tax exemption and full-scale health and retirement insurance. In order to safeguard their privileges, they ceaselessly attempt to broaden their competences and try to extend their control over ever newer areas. National sovereignty is the most important hindrance in their eyes. They say its demolition as a guarantee of their personal careers and material advantages. To achieve this goal, they do not shrink from employing any means. They are not at all discouraged by the complete lack behind their ambition of any kind of legitimacy or at least any kind that would be remotely linked to the principles of popular sovereignty and majoritarian democracy. Union bureaucracy is by now completely separated from the interests of European citizens and has nobody and nothing in mind apart from its own caste interests. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan’s famous aphorism, the most terrifying words nowadays are: I’m from the Union and I’m here to help.

One of these days the left-wing majority of the European Parliament, seconded by a few dozens of their People’s Party comrades adopted one more resolution against Hungary. (I would refrain from describing the inglorious role the Hungarian Left played in lobbying for and preparing that text, since their treacherous role has been uninterrupted from the 1920s to this very day and reached its climax in their opposition to the dual citizenship referendum on 5 December 2004. They never fail to find the alien interest group to serve!) On top of it all, Guy Verhofstadt, one of the most repelling figures in European politics wrote an article on the issue entitled Confronting Europe’s Illiberals, on May 24, 2017. Verhofstadt is a former Belgian Prime Minister and is the floor leader of the liberal group within the European Parliament. We should bear in mind that his party has never won an absolute majority in national elections and that the federal Belgium he represents has been practically and continuously ungovernable. Coalition negotiations sometimes have lasted for more than a year which is obviously overly desirable and exemplary in the eyes of the bureaucrats who consider political control a nuisance anyway. This cantankerous character who only enjoys a few percentage points of support within Belgium itself and who was parachuted to Brussels finds endless joy in having taken over the role of the most aggressive and most disagreeable politician within the Union after Daniel Cohn-Bendit retired and joined newly elected French President Macron’s team. His article repeats the salient points of the resolution adopted against us, which cannot be a mere coincidence.[1]

In his opening remark, this professional liberal points out that “The refugee crisis has shaken Europe to its core, because, rather than taking collective responsibility for managing the flood of migrants and refugees into Europe, we have mostly shifted the burden to frontline countries. This has eroded European solidarity. Likewise, our inability to come together to stop Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s war crimes against his own people has left a void that Putin and Iran have filled.”

That’s what we call a nice liberal – he speaks about collective rather than individual responsibility! Collective responsibility was part of the mumbo-jumbo of the 20th century totalitarian dictatorships – it was imagined on a racial basis by the Nazis, while on a class basis by the communists and the result was collective persecution and genocide in both cases.Verhofstadt starts out by claiming that Europe should have left the migrant flow in, rather than peddling about some kinds of borders. He mentions that as one criteria of European solidarity, while another one would be our active interference in the Civil War in Syria with the aim of overthrowing President Assad. How it should be done when the Union has no joint defence policy and consequently has no joint Armed Forces is an insignificant factor not worthy of a committed liberal’s attention. Nor does such a liberal care for who is going to take over if Assad falls. Who is to guarantee if Syria wouldn’t sink even deeper in hopelessness, just as it happened to Libya and the rest of the neighbouring countries bombed into democracy? Coming from a small country, politician Verhofstadt can certainly afford the luxury of uttering anything, since decisions and execution are equally outside of his competence, just like it is not his duty to contemplate or to bear the consequences. It is obvious however that his modest calibre prevents Mr Verhofstadt from learning from the experience piled up since the Arab Spring he was one of the supporters of, which suggests that we are facing a hopeless case here.

That view is corroborated by his diatribes against Jarosław Kaczyński and Viktor Orbán. Fasten your seat belts, well-known accusations follow which have been repeated over and over again: Orbán had the face of making the Hungarian Parliament adopt a new constitution. (It was passed by a two thirds majority of Hungarian MPs. If I may add a shy remark, the amendment to the German constitution was adopted in a similar way by the Bundestag after German re-unification.) Orbán wants to remain in power! Which is of course an unprecedented illiberal and of course illegitimate attempt. (Mrs Merkel is just about to run for her fourth term. Mr Verhofstadt still keeps us waiting for him to criticise her for that ambition!) Orbán also mistreats NGOs and keeps taxing opposition media until they declare default. (Why is requiring transparency qualify as mistreatment? Those NGOs never stop fumbling in other people’s pockets and suspects corruption everywhere. How about mentioning one example for special taxes on the media? For I strongly suspect that Mr Verhofstadt has misheard something.) He uses European funds to advertise Euroscepticism. (It was shameful enough from the social liberal governments of the time not to allot public funds to the campaign of the opponents of accession before the referendum on the issue.) That argument is further proof that nowadays to be liberal, one has to prescribe what others are allowed to say or think. Not that one should be surprised. We have had our share of that kind of liberalism. That policy was represented in our country by the SZDSZ which was eventually voted out of political life in 2010. He wants to close down CEU which equals to stifling critical thinking. (CDU is a liberal nest 80% of whose students are foreigners; where a safe space is in operation; where migrant-caressing is daily practice and where no one with a different world outlook is ever invited. It ceaselessly claims being one of the best universities in the world, which is unfortunately completely unknown by the world itself, otherwise it might have been mentioned in one of the several university rankings among the first 500.) On that basis, Mr Verhofstadt declares that Orbán is a despot who has no place in the value-based European Union, nor have the Poles. He therefore calls on the Union to expel them.

The same tone and the same system of arguments could be read in the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on May 17, 2017 on the situation in Hungary. (2017/2656 (RSP) [2]

What’s most striking in this shameful and dumb resolution is that the European Parliament whose mission it should be representing the interests of Europeans has adopted a resolution which prioritises the interests and the rights of illegal economic migrants who are not European citizens and most of whom even refuse to produce their travel documents, against a Union member country. In doing so, the MEPs invoke the kind of human rights that have been made boundless by the ruling Union caste; and the kind of solidarity which has never been taken seriously or practised in connection with us, East Europeans.

According to the majority of MEPs, “Ahmed H., a Syrian resident in Cyprus was sentenced by the Hungarian court to 10 years in prison in an unfair trial in November 2016 on the sole grounds of using a megaphone to ease tensions and of throwing three objects at the border police”. One is nevertheless prompted after all to ask a few questions in connection with that accusation. If Ahmed H. had a residence permit in Cyprus, why didn’t he produce his European travel document at the border crossing? People in possession of such documents in fact do not have to “ease tensions” or throwing objects at the border police to cross into the European Union. What were his motives then? Was it because he had been instructed by someone to move in and out across the European border to lead groups of illegal migrants refusing to produce IDs and their fingerprints to be taken towards their final destination? Or could he be part of the human trafficking network? Or a sleeping terrorist agent? Could it have been his job to supply Angela Merkel’s colour portraits to those entrusted to him? He was only given a 10-year sentence in Hungary, while at the borders of many other countries, including the United States he may well have been shot dead on the spot. I’m just bringing that up here, because the report goes to great lengths in representing US interests, for instance in the case of CEU.

“Since the adoption of the resolution of 16 December 2015, concerns have been raised about a number of issues, namely theuse of public spending, attacks against civil society organisations and human rights defenders, the rights of asylum seekers, mass surveillance of citizens, freedom of association, freedom of expression, media pluralism and the closure of the newspaper Népszabadság, Roma rights, including the eviction of Roma in Miskolc and segregation of Roma children in education, LGBTI rights, women’s rights, the judiciary system, including the possibility to hand down a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, the forced eviction of Hungarian NGOs Roma Parliament and Phralipe Independent Gypsy Organisation from their headquarters, and the risk of closure of the Lukács Archives.”

Let’s try and dissect all this. What kind of mass surveillance are these people bleating about? As far as we know, it is the Americans and the Germans who excel in that. As far as Népszabadság, the daily of the ruling party of the party state is concerned, it is a shame that elected people with seats in the European Parliament in 2017 may include those who have the face to stand up for a former communist newspaper. It’s just like it would have been for some to worry about the fate of the Nazis’Völkischer Beobachter about 30 years ago. Of course, we are not faultless in this matter either, because that news outlet should have been closed down at the time of the regime change. But instead of doing so, the post-communist and their liberal chums tried to rebrand it according to the requirements of the post-communist Socialist Party (MSZP). Thanks to its competitive advantage, Népszabadság had several hundreds of thousands of readers in 1990, but since then it gradually became heavily indebted; the Socialist Party sold its share and the new owner decided to close it down. Would it have been the job of the state to interfere with the workings of the free market? Why was Népszabadság not bailed out by the European Parliament itself? Or by the socialist sister parties? That would at least have made everything clear.

The Roma Parliament building had been out of use for years and that hollowed organisation is left with less than a dozen members. The government decided to refurbish the dilapidated building which was in a dismal life-threatening state and to open a Roma Cultural Centre in it. What’s the problem? And now let’s see the issue of the Lukács Archives which belongs to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and is being run by a foundation consisting of former Lukács disciples. It is their competence to take care of the future of the Archives; the state has no business there. But since when is the fate of the heritage of a Hungarian philosopher a Union matter? The European Parliament obviously feels itself competent because it has to do with a communist. I don’t remember in fact any Hungarian artist or thinker whose heritage would have been cause for concern is in the European Parliament. Their sensitivity threshold is only passed when a comrade of theirs is concerned. Let me recall one of Lukács’ golden sayings: Even the worst kind of communism is better than the best kind of capitalism!

According to the Union, “The rights of the Roma, the Jews and the LGBTQ people are in jeopardy, nor are the rights of pregnant women and their protection at their workplace guaranteed”. Very politically correct Union people are the only one allowed to mention the Roma, the Jews and the LGBTQ persons in one breath. I don’t know what kind of people the LGBTQ persons are. I doubt that such persons exist at all. I don’t think that anyone’s dignity can be reduced to such a meaningless acronym or that they should be put in the same category as our Gypsy and Jewish fellow citizens with the obvious intention to reduce them all to some kind of collective common denominator. Gypsies and the Jewish community have their special problems and many of them may be and should be tackled by the government. The same goes for the LGBTQ (?). But improving their plight most of the time does not depend first and foremost on the government. Therefore, such summary statements can only serve as an alibi for MEPs whose intention is merely to declare their allegiance to the political correct canon. And now let’s face my favourite remark that is the idiocy about pregnant women. If there is one country where special attention is devoted to them, it is Hungary. Pregnant care, their nursing network, maternity grants and child raising benefits are being taken care of by Social Security. The latter can be claimed by men to, although they are unable to get pregnant, and pregnant women are entitled to a thousand further subsidies. And they have been for decades. We are not second to any other European country in this respect. What do those ignorant and uninformed button-pushing machines do and think during all those happy years spending our money in Brussels? Shouldn’t they be checked one day? With the record pays they cash, couldn’t they be expected to do some fact checking?

Viktor Orbán was right in finding that this report had been dictated by George Soros. Otherwise the European Parliament would have not dared to perform the unprecedented insolence of putting the leading world power, the United States of America under its protection and claim the role of defending US interests with the obvious intention to humiliate it. The European Parliament called on Hungary in fact “to start immediate dialogue with the relevant US authorities in order to guarantee the future operations of the Central European University issuing US-accredited degrees, and to make a public commitment that the university can remain in Budapest as a free institution”. The USA, the majority of MEPs believe, is unable to represent its own interest efficiently and therefore needs their protection! Apparently, since President Obama’s departure, European leaders excel in denigrating the USA. I would not do so if I were them.

All the remaining statements concern imposing migration, broadening migrants’ rights and stem from the obvious intention to deny the right of the sovereign Hungarian state to defend its own territory!

To sum things up. here is a list of desires by MEPs paid and controlled by Soros and their chums at the helm of the Union: Hungary should “repeal the act amending certain acts related to increasing the strictness of procedures carried out in the areas of border management and asylum and the act amending the National Higher Education Act, withdraw the proposed Act on the Transparency of Organisations Receiving Support from Abroad and immediately suspend all deadlines in the act amending the National Higher Education Act.”

And finally, let’s return to Verhofstadt: A value-based community (Does he mean the European Union? Or rather the leftist International? Or Soros’s parliamentary group? He doesn’t elaborate, this is why am at a loss.) has no place for governments such as those that now rule Hungary and Poland. The EU should invoke Article 7 as soon as possible, and with the broadest possible majority among member states. And, after Orbán, we must turn our attention to Kaczyński!

That is surely what the Union needs most in post-Brexit state! That’s a textbook case of self-destruction, just like what is being done about migration. To quote a classic as a concluding remark: nobody is dumb free of charge. Supposedly not even Verhofstadt. Soros’s purse is large enough.

Throughout history, destruction has always
been preceded by internal weakening and
waning. The external push putting an end to
it all only comes afterwards.

Jacob Burckhardt

The Adjective as a Privative Prefix

As it is undeniably proven by the above, the European Union is in a deep crisis. It should resolve itself to change. But in order to change direction it should know what it has to change for everything to remain unchanged. That is for our consciousness of being bound together in a common destiny to survive and possibly even strengthen.

The main problem the Union is facing is a problem of legitimacy. Without recognising and admitting that we will have no common ground to stand on in our effort to overcome the centrifugal forces that now threaten the mere survival of our community. All Union member countries are majoritarian democracies based on popular sovereignty. They are being led by the victors of free electoral contests among competing political forces. They are being returned or voted out of office depending on the decision taken by the citizens. The leaders of the European Union do not possess the same kind of strong legitimacy enjoyed by the leaders of the member countries.

They cannot be discharged; the Union statutes do not provide the possibility of snap elections in case the governing groups would lose the trust of the public. Instead of popular sovereignty, transparency and accountability, Europe’s ruling elites have shifted towards juristocracy, that is the primacy of the rule of law, in order to guarantee their hold on power. As we can all testify, invoking democracy and free elections starts becoming out of date and is being replaced by references to the rule of law and to checks and balances. The primacy of the rule of law in reality means putting popular representation in doubt and is intended to repair undesirable decisions taken by the people, that is decisions which are not supported by the elite. Attempts of this kind have been made in post-Brexit Britain, in the United States since Trump’s election to President as well as innumerable times in the European Union. To make things worse, the rule of law by now puts citizens in a defenceless position because justice is being delivered with increasing delays and legal competences are being increasingly widened, which results in undermining the democratic order.

The law means prejudices and immunity to the elites as we could experience in the case of the big players of well-known corruption cases. Or conspicuously lenient sentences when violent crimes are committed by minorities who are seen as being victims. Citizens must be prepared for procedures lasting a decade before the sentence is handed down. Judges often break the law themselves and their sentences only survive appeal court rulings in rare cases. In most cases they don’t even try and conceal their political biases. People have seized hoping for justice for a long time now. Instead, they are supposed to content themselves with the law which obviously is not at our service. All this undermines the very foundations of democratic regimes. The message the European Union irradiates towards European citizens is that their will and their opinions are unimportant and will be overwritten by juridical and bureaucratic bodies whose members cannot be voted out of office and are not accountable to anyone. They have not been elected and bear no responsibility.

To make things worse, it is our everyday experience that some Union member countries consider themselves more equal than the rest. The Western countries, small and big, have made their conviction clear that they are entitled to special rights because they are worth more than their brethren who used to be secluded behind the Iron Curtain. Underneath that attitude there is the conviction that the wealthier are obviously also cleverer. And of course, what is even more important, they are right. Always and about everything. After all, they are on the right side of history and stand unwaveringly on the side of progress. It would be senseless to analyse the cold war conditions in order to prove to what extent the affluence of the West and its welfare identity based on it, which makes it so confident are due to the particular division of powers of the bipolar world. But it would be worthwhile to remember that in history there are no eternally allotted seats, nor can anyone book the front seat of the world, of the continent or again buy a ticket for eternal affluence. Anyone having doubts about that should cast a glance at the 20th century.

The Union is facing a wave of new Great Migration. It is stricken by a demographic crisis, while its elites, being socialised in excessive affluence, are imposing liberal projects which may fatally undermine the immune system of our continent. China, India and the so-called Third World have assimilated all the technical conquests of the Western World; they have determined fighters at hand who are avid of victory. They want to work, conquer and succeed and have no respect for our preference for having some good time for the moment or for our inability to face the challenge they represent, busy as we are providing a sufficient number of special lavatories for transsexuals throughout the Western hemisphere.

Europe’s half living behind the Iron Curtain was not born into affluence. They have fought hard for everything they have. They have learned a lot about the nature of the great powers and have realised that they must stand up for their own interests. They have lived too long in democracies with an adjective and claim the right to live in democracies tout court. Those who used to lecture them about the superiority of people’s democracy, now want to convince them about the exclusive salutary nature of liberal democracy. Those are often the very same people and are doing it in the same aggressive fashion, leaving no room for argument. We have psyched them out. We learned under communism that the adjective was in reality a privative prefix. They are wasting their wind.

 

[1] (Confronting Europe’s Illiberals 2017 https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/hungary-orban-european-union-article-7-by-guy-verhofstadt-2017-05?utm_source=Project+Syndicate+Newsletter&utm_campaign=7ad4f0b43f-sunday_newsletter_28_5_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-7ad4f0b43f-104778077)

[2] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P8-TA-2017-0216

Editor’s Note: This essay was originally published by the author’s own blog first in Hungarian and later in English.