by Cato 6/27/16
Think back about 26 years to the moment you first realized the USSR had just evaporated. No shots fired. No riots; no coups; no tanks rolling through Prague and Budapest. It just ceased to exist. Guards along borders with Kalashnikovs who yesterday shot to kill walked away. People with sledge hammers pounded the Berlin Wall into souvenirs.
Here’s the foretelling in this rough history, to be found in the Brexit vote … not for the UK but for the remaining states of the EU: some of the SSR’s welcomed the freedom and quickly became democratic republics, and some including Russia flirted with republicanism and failed. These latter few, many along the southern rim with ‘stan’ in their names, migrated back to dictatorship and various forms of Stalinism. No revolution is ever complete and it doesn’t uniformly alter the landscape.
So I’m looking down the road a bit, asking which of the EU’s remaining 27, and the Euro’s 17 especially, will embrace the UK’s independence and welcome the return of self-governance and which of them will cling to the Politburo-lite, anti-democratic bureaucracy in Brussels, choosing to remain under the rule essentially of the Germans.
That Europe will split … either formally into self-governed and Brussels-controlled blocs, or informally with strong economies grouping to the north and weak ones to the south … seems, as George Soros opined, inevitable. But the real question is, for me, which ones will embrace the gradually hardening authoritarianism that prompted Jürgen Habermas to decry the EU’s “democratic deficit” and which ones will step back as has the UK, placing liberty above submission and willingly paying the price liberty always exacts. It comes down to which you value more: ‘freedom from’ or ‘freedom to’.
The collapse of the USSR from its own internal rot was a stunning event. The question in my mind is whether the EU, a construct of the same rotted timber, will in one or another way echo that event 26 years later.
Michael Booth, often posting and commenting as Cato, lectured in finance and economics at the Univ. of Texas, and worked for 20 years as an independent contractor and managerial trainer on financial topics in the technology industry.
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