Why the Central European Elites Love WarPetr Hampl
The radical attitudes of some of the Central European state’s leaders and their demands to escalate the war with Russia — Hungary is a notable exception — is not the result of these states’ specific historical experiences. If we want to understand them, we need to understand how a layer of aspirants to membership in the global elite was formed there.
How it really was
In Communist Czechoslovakia, sometime around 1980, my mother-in-law (meaning future mother-in-law, as I was 11) was involved in a car accident with some Soviet soldiers. After the accident, she slapped the Soviet military driver so hard that his nose bled. She didn’t have any problems, however; the Soviets fairly paid all the damages, and the slapped Soviet soldier still came to apologize after a few days. He brought my future wife a doll, the kind you couldn’t buy in Czechoslovakia at the time.
I describe this incident to refute the notion that Central Europeans have some horrible memories of the Soviet (basically Russian) occupation. Not at all. Most of us never met the Russian occupiers, and when we did, they were very friendly to the locals. The annoying thing was that we had to listen to stupid slogans about brotherhood with the Soviet Union and the victory of the working class all the time, but it was no more than what is common in today’s corporations. Perhaps the only difference is that many of today’s managers proudly attend woke workshops, whereas back then it annoyed people. Among other things, this is because political correctness is a badge of the upper class, whereas in the Communist regime, Marxist ideology was for everyone.
In the Czech Republic today, it is said that those who suffered most under Communism were those who were born after its end. There is something to that. The image of life under Communist rule that is created in the media is far more horrific than the reality. Many people in the countries of Central Europe really do hate the Russians, but this is partly because of the short historical stages (in Hungary during 1956-58, and in the Czech Republic and Slovakia during 1968-73) and partly because of the arrogant and uncultured behavior of the Russian “golden youth” who not long ago came here as tourists.
Do people want war and sanctions?
None of this can explain the vigorous attitude of most Central European governments against Russia, especially given that these countries suffer more from such sanctions than Russia itself and are most at risk in the event of an escalation of the conflict. An American war fought to the last Ukrainian could easily turn into a war fought to the last Czech or Pole.
As for the popular masses, we do not yet have clear research data on their attitudes. The Hungarian elections showed something: a peace party clashed with an implacably anti-Russian party, and the peace party won by a landslide. In the Czech Republic, the constitution has been effectively suspended and the Prime Minister is calling on citizens to monitor each other’s views and denounce those who disagree with the government’s approach to the war. The Attorney General openly threatens imprisonment for expressing dissent. The situation is very similar in Slovakia, where opposition MPs are being arrested.
Let us not be surprised that open anti-war voices are at a minimum. Even polls are not entirely reliable in such a situation. How many respondents are brave enough to declare an anti-state stance? Data published in the Czech Republic show that a solid majority of 60% demand a halt to arms shipments to Ukraine. If there was a free atmosphere, would 80% say so? We don’t know.
Whatever the popular position, however, it is clear that most of the Central European elites are warlike. They are prepared to take unlimited risks, including a nuclear attack on their own countries. They are prepared for unlimited impoverishment of their own countries if it is in the interests of the war.
If we want to understand these strange views, we need to understand how these local elites were formed.
Three waves of elite growth
The first wave of the local Central European elites is linked to privatization. In 1990, everything was state-owned: factories, shops, entertainment, infrastructure, schools, land, banks, most housing . . . everything you can imagine. And it was in good shape. Communist central planning of the economy is very bad for introducing innovation and is not flexible — for example, when one toilet paper factory burned down, there were shortages in Czech shops throughout the entire following year because other factories couldn’t increase production. Nor can it produce attractive consumer goods. But its strength is stability. State assets were in decent shape, and the country was not in debt, so there was plenty to give away. Central European governments gave away huge fortunes, and whoever had the right connections became a tycoon. But that period ended, because after a few years there was nothing left to give away.
The second wave of local elites was created in the decade around the Czech Republic’s accession to the European Union, when foreign corporations entered the Czech market — but don’t imagine that they were bringing in capital. Local governments paid multinational corporations to come in and take a business, a bank, a water pipe, and so on. Often the next step was for the multinational corporation to close the Czech business to get rid of the competition. Sophisticated manufacturing, which often had a tradition of 150 years or more, disappeared. It was replaced by the production of simple components. For the Central European countries this meant economic disaster, but for the individuals who worked for these corporations locally, it meant personal enrichment — not on the same scale as the privatization wave, but still very respectable.
George Soros’ non-profits and many others were likewise entering Central Europe at that time. Today they effectively control Czech education, Czech public media and have a strong position in the Czech judiciary. Their first local managers have also become quite wealthy. So have the owners of the law firms that worked for them.
But that period is also now over. There is nothing left to privatize and nothing to give away to foreigners. Everything important belongs to them. All the important decisions are taken abroad. Thus, the other contenders for membership in the elite have only one option: to get into the global structures, such as by getting a position at a corporate headquarters, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, or the European Commission. But they’re finding it extremely difficult to do this. There is a lot of competition, and there is no interest these institutions in bringing in more competitors from Central Europe — especially if those people are white.
Two strategies to get to the top
In such a situation, there are two strategies to choose from. The first is that such contenders can network and support each other. A Pole who becomes a global marketing director can start recruiting Poles, Czechs, and Hungarians into his department. In meetings, he will help to promote ideas that will strengthen his colleagues from the same region. After all, members of certain ethnicities and religions have been doing this for generations, and quite successfully.
But this requires an ideology that unites them, and it also involves risk. Your Central European fellow tribesmen will support you, but you can expect a more cautious or even dismissive attitude from others, so it’s a strategy that is only suitable where some of you are already at the top, but problematic in cases where all of you are trying to climb the ladder.
And then there is the second option: Ditch your own country and try to draw attention to yourself. Be much more radical than your Western competitors. Demand things that they are reluctant to demand. Attempts to go down this road on migration and the Green Deal have been met with mass popular resistance in Central European countries, but time is passing, those countries are gradually adapting to the West, and their elites are no longer reluctant to repress their populations — much like the Communist ones. And most people absolutely don’t care about such things until they see it reflected in their utility bills — so it’s an opportunity to get off the ground.
My guess is that it will be successful and that there will be more Polish, Czech, and Slovak names in the world headquarters over the next few years — but it won’t be nearly as successful as today’s Central European leaders imagine. When you hear them speak again, do not let them tell you that they are defending their countries.
After all, it is no different with the Ukrainian leadership.
* * *
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There is a new series currently on in Europe called The Informant. It’s about a college student in early 80’s Budapest. I would like to see a review here . It’s meant to depict that time and place as a totalitarian miserable existence and the good guys are the pro democracy students but the entire time I’m watching it I think that it looks preferable to any big city in the West now and I’m rooting for the bad guys (govt)
I hadn’t heard of that, so thanks for mentioning it; as someone living in Hungary I’ll have to see it. My experience of Hungary only begins in the 2010s, but I’ve certainly talked to many Hungarians who remember what things were like circa 1980, and depicting Hungary as a totalitarian hellscape then is preposterous. There was certainly truth to it in the late 1940s and 1950s, which is why Hungary had its 1956 revolution, but after that Hungary slowly moved into what has been termed “goulash Communism,” which was basically “Communism lite” mixed with capitalist elements and freedoms. Essentially, by the 1960s, Moscow didn’t really care what the Hungarians did in their own country as long as they remained in the Warsaw Pact. Friends of mine who have described conditions in the 1980s, even those on the Right of the spectrum, will say that many things were actually better then than now. There were no food shortages or a lack of access to Western media, as in some other parts of the Eastern bloc; censorship hadn’t disappeared but was considerably lessened; there were no immigrants; and everyone was working. There was no heavy-handed government intrusion in people’s lives in Hungary of the 1980s. It’s not the case that everything was great but describing it as a place where people were groaning under the Communist yoke is not accurate, either.
I visited Hungary three or four times in the 80s and it was a beauty. One time I was in Budapest just after they restored the central railway station, Keleti, I think it is called, and it looked absolutely like something out of a fairy tale. Not only that, but, unlike these days, apart from no graffitti, it was sparkling clean. People I talked with only complained about money, in the sense that they could buy everything they could possibly want from the stores, including a lot of Western consumer goods, just that everything was so expensive and quite often not affordable. Many Hungarians at the time could work for a month or two in Austria which also increased their bottom line. I also visited some new houses on the hill that rivaled anything you could find in the West today. Of course, I’m not saying it was only roses, but it wasn’t that bad, or at least that was my direct experience.
I think you will enjoy the series. As much as it depicts Budapest as totalitarian it seemed very nice to me. The college students were lacking in vcr’s and sony walkmans… The horror, but it doesn’t show poverty and degeneracy. I think the series is up to episode 7 now. If you can’t find it I can send a link
Well, there certainly were still informants and such in Hungary in the 1980s, most especially monitoring those involved in politics, so it’s not completely off the mark. But thanks, I will definitely give it a watch.
Here is the trailer : https://youtu.be/J3i02ZJwJX0
It really seemed like a nice place in the 80’s. I’d take this over current London, NY etc in a heartbeat.
Are you part Hungarian ethnically? Do you speak the language? I ask because I’ve heard it’s incredibly difficult for English speakers to learn Hungarian, especially as adults.
I’ve never been to Hungary, or anywhere around there. But I was in East Berlin as well as Leningrad and Moscow for a bit in 1982. It was about what you’d expect the living conditions to be for whites under socialism. Everything was very drab, and the people looked hard up, but not starving, like Ethiopians a short time later. I saw nothing suggesting “ghetto” or Third World poverty, which always includes great disorder, as well as dilapidation. But the difference in evident affluence between East and West Berlin was tremendous. It’s important to understand that anything good under socialism existed in spite of, or in addition to, socialism, not because of it. And whatever might have been preferable in those countries to today’s world could also exist under capitalism if there were sufficient political will. If the West today is unpleasantly degenerate, that’s due to moral, racial and cultural liberalism, not our mode of economic production (which is also very far from pure capitalism).
I think it’s important to point out that in many cases, the post-communist elite is either the old communist elite or their children. There is genetic identity between someone who spouted Marxist lies in 1982 and someone who spouts progressive lies in 2022.
It mostly applies to the first years after transformation. Later their influence decreased to various degrees depending on a country. The West no longer needs ex-communist compradors in Central Europe, they’re raising a new class, more fanatical and owing everything to their benefactors. Compared to them, old commies will come across as conservatives. Their children either adopted a new faith or inherited robber-baron cynicism from their parents. Either way, red dynasties are becoming increasingly irrelevant as neo-colonial processes take hold.
Here in the Balkans, the red bourgeoisie have almost completely transitioned to becoming progressive liberals. I keep hearing about how “communism fell”, but I see the same rancid seed in power now as 30 years ago. I’ve become fully convinced that the countries of Eastern Europe will not be free and safe for our people until the commie and post-commie ruling class and their crotch droppings are gone.
I noticed those characteristics in the Balkans as well. However, you may take advice from (formerly) “the happiest barrack in socialist camp”: Reds are thieves who likely pass down their servile/comprador genes, but their progeny tend to piss away daddy’s inheritance rather quickly. Once the red fiefs come under increased pressure of western business, their days are counted. Sure, those who estabilished themselves in strategic sectors of economy will prevail for the longest time, but others will wither away, litlle by little.
From what I heard here, people generally acknowledge that their economy is controlled by mafias and don’t care as long as they get a shot at western corpo or emigrate for better options. Where I currently live, the capital city is quite “european” and cosmopolitan for Balkan standards. While removing red mafias would be a definitive plus, the resulting power-vacuum will hasten the settlement of western hegemony. I hope there’re some organized movements for political and economic autonomy, because otherwise the former red fiefdoms will become foreign assets. Nationalization of oligarch estates won’t be very welcomed in Brussels.
You also briefly discussed the issue of lustration in your podcast with Tuuka Kuru and the main problem with that is the timing. Communists and their liberal allies fought Polish lustration fervently in the first decade of transformation since it threatened the “new deal” between emerging oligarchy and former opposition. They even filled a no-confidence motion in Parliament against the minority government that managed to find resolve and start the procedure, effectively ousting it from power, then reverting the decisions. Right now, even if somebody pushed through lustration, it wouldn’t matter much. Most people don’t care anymore, new generations have a poor grasp on history, revelations about communist past or dynastic connections no longer create the same shockwaves as they used to. It’s mostly a partisan tool of gotcha! games between the parties. Maybe it’d be more beneficial here, but the connections between old state security apparatus and modern elites seem to be an open secret that doesn’t raise much fuss.
A lot of people see the west’s enticements as an opportunity to escape the red fiefdoms. This is something that is very difficult for Westerners to understand, but the red bourgeoisie and their mutant offspring are so disgusting that many people prefer the rule of powerskirt and tranny HR dictators in the West to spending another second under the thumb of these bloodsuckers.
The exact same thing, allowing for local specifics, happened in Romania and I suspect everywhere else in the Eastern block. Reading the excellent article I was thinking of Kevin Macdonald’s gradient of individualism among Europeans going from very high in Northwestern Europe to somewhat lower in Southeastern Europe. From my experience the somewhat lower is not too far away from the very high. The intensity and scope of individualism I encountered in Eastern Europe is worrying especially if we consider its consequences for the survival of our own kind in a globalized world. That being said it is no wonder these upstarts are eager to sell their own mothers to climb the global social ladder. I think one of the major problems we have is that in our societies treason has paid handsomely for too long a time. To what Nick said I would add that the post-communist elites unfortunately include the grandchildren of the old communists these days, really sickening sometimes.
This was a good introductory article, Mr. Hampl. There are many misconceptions among western dissidents pertaining to our area.
Likewise, the war hysteria is strong in Poland and speaking against it (or critizing our Ukrainian allies) can even carry the risk of losing employment, especially in public sector. Sites considered to be pro-russian were either blocked or attacked. Hence why many right-wing dissidents from russo-realist orientation had to retreat into anonymity or cave in to the mob. To say that the public discourse became poisoned is an understatement, it’s filled with brainless foaming at the mouths of anti-russian fanatics and bandwagoners from liberal wing. Advocating cold calculation and detachment from emotions is no longer treated as fence-sitting, but outright treason. Bark with us or ESAD, Russian sock! One funny aspect is that liberal germanophilia decreased as a result of their waivering on the issue.
It’s a shame that our Czech brothers succumbed to that miasma as well. You always provided a more balanced approach towards Russia and acted calmly. Now we all have to deal with the new Current Thing. Our elites are warlike either because they believe completely in Article 5 or made arrangements in case they need to evacuate (or both). Suffice to say, they imagine themselves as selfless heroes triumphing over the behemoth and treating historical complexes. Galloping inflation, cold winter, rising debts, job markets affected by immigration, only realist scum cares about those while imponderabilia are at stake! It’s all so tiresome.
Central European elites DO NOT love war. After the WWII tragedy everyone is scared to death of Russia and what Russian soldiers want and are able to do.
Some, like Orban, have a pro Russian stance hoping he might pick some territories from the neighboring countries and is stepping and stumbling in every and each diplomatic plates – Slovakia, Croatia, Romania, Ukraine. Strangely enough he is now pall with the Serbian confused leader. It’s wonderful that he showed us all how much are we all loved in Budapest. Guess EU will stop spending soon for that damn goulash. It just become enormously expensive.
Others will do anything possible to keep the Russians the hell out. Everything. They know all too well what Russians did with the “elites”. They are too smart to fall for cheap publicity stints. (Like the Russian army giving a puppet to little girls.) It is enough to listen to some of the Putin’s talking heads and see how many times they are evoking the need to exterminate the “nazies”. That and the Wagner operative smashing the head of a tied up terrorist with a hammer. What is his name? He is on Russian patriotic T-shirts. Along with his hammer.
So tell me again, who invaded whom? In your reality looks like those damn war loving “elites”, central European especially, have invaded mother Russia and are raping small girls and toddlers around Kiev.
Anyway, good news from Ukraine. Another based Tatar, white saving, nazies killing machine was made good and six feet under. Col Karimov, GRU special forces, was on a divine mission to save every confused individual from the “central European elites” yoke. Damn “elites”.
You really seem compelled to continuously demonstrate the fact that you know nothing about Hungarian politics.
Yes. Thank you. I’ll try harder.
Anyway I stopped this month to fill the tank at MOL. And surely I’ll be more careful with the rest. You know, the word plays are not enough anymore.
It’s true that Hungarians aren’t as proficient at switching sides as Romanians are.
Let’s put an end to this unproductive sniping.
You really seem compelled to continuously demonstrate the fact that you know nothing about Romanian history and politics. To quote someone.
And to spoil your snide remark.
“In March 1945 the Waffen SS-Grenadier Regiment No 1 was thrown into the fighting to the north of Stettin to hold up the Red Army’s offensive in Pomerania. Romanian soldiers dressed in SS uniforms were fighting within the Tank Corps, led by General Felix Steiner, occupying positions on the Oder. A large part of the unit of volunteers was concentrated on the last line of defense in front of Berlin, and we can say with confidence that the last bullets fired against Soviet troops were fired by Romanians. The regiment of 3,000 soldiers was in practice completely destroyed in those battles.”
Does it looks like switching sides to you?
The difference is that I don’t shoot my mouth off about Romania all the time.
Just to be clear I have nothing against Romanians whatsoever, the people my ancestors lived among for 800 years, but I was presenting you with the same type of biased and simplistic views about Romania that you are presenting in some of your comments about Hungary. Fidesz is not a revanchist party and its current geopolitical stance has nothing to do with dreams of territorial expansion. But in keeping with our Editor-in-Chief’s sensible wishes I do not want to continue with the mudslinging.
John, I understand the heat of the moment, but the switching sides event occurred as a result of a coup orchestrated by the KGB, the allies and some nice Romanian traitors, how else. Even if it were true and not a smear, the havoc wrought on the country by 45 years of communism and 33 years of “free market capitalism” with no sign of abating any time soon, it’s more than enough penance for any past sins, real or imaginary, in my opinion. Frankly, I think it’s a miracle we are still around. Anyway let’s hope we’ll find the wisdom to move ahead united. Best!
Practically the young and incompetent German king Michael (manipulated by Russians spies – and possible by some American spies) arrested the legal government of Romania, placed the Romanian army under soviet command.
The rest is a horrible history. With the hundreds of thousands of Romanian soldiers made prisoners by the Russians, sent to Russia never to return.
What is known is that some American spies in Romania advised the incompetent that the communism was inevitable. These “Americans” were later discovered as soviet spies. The “Georgetown group” it was later called and their origins track back to Bucharest and their first and probably biggest feat was this coup d’etat.
What are the most important things here is that it had established the soviet modus operandi for a long time.
If Russia is not able to heavily penetrate the target country government they will always suffer heavy to unbearable loses.
Russia/USSR friendly regimes are always heavily penetrated.
The intensification of Russian/USSR propaganda is always the prelude of an coup d’etat, invasion, occupation, genocide
The army of a Russian conquered country is automatically transformed into cannon fodder, the goal being their extermination
That much of “switching” sides.
Everything that has been said can be applied to the current situation. Besides social media, drones, Kinjals, smart phones and satellites everything else stays the same.
Anglosphere white nationalist scene 5-10 years ago: (((cultural marxism))), (((banksters))), (((Communism))) Kills, Uncle did nothing wrong, race is real, Socialism is gay, remove Kebab! DEUS VULT.
Current year American “””right”””: life under communism was good akcually, cultural capitalism, goy, based Stalin, based pan-Arabian Socialist dictators, uhm, the KGB Colonel, Stasi agent and former head of FSB denazifying Ukraine is good akcually, we need more socialism, the communist party of China is your friend, because not real communism or something. Red-br*wn alliance, literally.
It’s funny people in this scene are scared they could get doxxed and gay-OPed by US FEDs. Within a few years your scene became literally indistinguishable from old leftists raised on a strict diet of Chomsky. There is someone who co-opted this scene alright and it’s not the FBI. — Do they pay in Rubles or Dollars? Probably should ask the little Nicker.
That’s right Schopi, all we need is to get the goddang gubmint off our backs!
When someone thinks that everything needed is to topple the gubmint is the first sign that a boatload of bad things are going to happen. Soon.
Down with the gubmint! All right. And after that?
Schopi’s comment was exceptional.
Yes, exceptionally cringy. If I never, ever hear about muh “cultural marxism” and muh DEUS VULT!!1!111!! again from people who haven’t the vaguest notions of the Frankfurt School or Catholicism, I could die a happy man.
Are you AI? Because what you say is too vague and miles away from the subject.
Shopi had a funny-witty comment and is describing a reality. In 10 years things changed too much for the taste of too many.
If you’re struggling to follow the subject, take it from the top, and go slowly, word by word if you have to. Sarcasm often doesn’t translate well to text.
You are off topic, and illogical.
In the Czech Republic, the constitution has been effectively suspended and the Prime Minister is calling on citizens to monitor each other’s views and denounce those who disagree with the government’s approach to the war. The Attorney General openly threatens imprisonment for expressing dissent. The situation is very similar in Slovakia, where opposition MPs are being arrested.
This misleadingly conjures up Orwellian images of martial law and brutal police state, without actually saying it outright. It’s probably as close to a reality as a MSNBC segment on religious Right, I’d imagine.
Disapproval or even outright disgust over Russian actions indeed are quite widespread and probably fairly organic in former Warsaw pact countries, as far as I can tell.
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