18/01/12

As duas contra-revoluções da Europa de Leste

Este é um texto escrito em 2007 por G.M. Tamás (o húngaro Tamás era inicialmente um politico liberal, inspirado por Hayek e Michael Oakeshoot e dirigente da Aliança dos Democratas Livres, mas que depois virou bastante para a esquerda, um pouco a contra-corrente do percurso habitual). Pode ser interessante lê-lo com 5 anos de distância.

Counter-revolution against a counter-revolution:


In Hungary, a socialist-liberal coalition led by the young and gifted Ferenc Gyurcsány, a billionaire businessman and a former secretary of the Communist Youth League before 1989, was returned to office in 2006 after an election campaign based on left-populist promises which, in a secret speech to his parliamentary party, Gyurcsány himself announced to have been a bunch of deliberate lies. After the speech had been leaked, riots erupted in Budapest, and the headquarters of state television – the symbol of mendacity – was torched. On 23 October 2006, the fiftieth anniversary of the Hungarian revolution of 1956, the police, who had been so signally defeated in the riots a few days before, visited retribution on the protesters, beating up rioters, passers-by, already immobilized prisoners, and whoever else was in their way. (The liberal intelligentsia, to its eternal shame, took the side of police terror.) 

Protests continued for months, deteriorating rapidly, dominated by the symbolism of the Arrow-Cross, the Hungarian Nazis famous for their anti-Jewish terror in the encircled Budapest of 1944. The protests were adroitly mined by the parliamentary right, led by the former prime minister, Viktor Orbán. The government coalition proceeded with its radical austerity measures, immense tax increases, and social and health expenditure cuts, closing down hospitals (the first deaths caused by the chaos in the health service have already occurred), schools, and cultural institutions, cutting or stopping subsidies altogether, planning to privatize the hospitals, the railways, the electricity board, and municipal services, liberalizing prices (e.g. those of medications), introducing fees for every visit to a (state) doctor and for university students, doubling the price of public transport, freezing wage and pension increases – all necessary to reduce public debt and trade deficit in order to meet the so-called "convergency criteria" demanded by the European Union, mandatory for joining the eurozone. Credit-rating agencies such as Standard and Poor's, have more influence on government policy than the electorate.

All this is opposed by deafening anti-communist vociferation, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-Western, and anti-immigrant agitation (there are practically no immigrants in Hungary, but never mind, there may be at some point in the future if the rootless cosmopolitans now in office are not chased away). The polls show that the parliamentary centre-left may disappear; government supporters are openly threatened. There would be a referendum, initiated by the parliamentary right, on the most unpopular measures – certain to be another, unsurprising major defeat for the socialist-liberal government. Because of police abuses, the three major chiefs of the national police, the head of the secret service, and the justice minister responsible had to resign in ignominy. Corruption is rife. Motorway and underground railway construction is in tatters. High-rise office blocks are unfinished or empty. Trust in public institutions is nil. 

Thousands of motorcyclists, sporting imitation Wehrmacht helmets and huge Nazi and Arrow-Cross flags on their machines, with the official name of their association – Goy Bikers – proudly emblazoned on their leather jackets, are filling the main streets of central Budapest with their thunderous noise and billowing exhaust fumes. The country is rife with rallies demanding an unelected, non-party upper chamber, and a constitution ascribing sovereignty to the Holy Crown (instead of to the people). (...)

When, after the regime change of 1989 (in which the present writer played a rather public role, and about which his feelings are retrospectively quite ambivalent), the concomitant onslaught on "state property" through privatization at world market prices, asset-stripping, outsourcing, management buy-outs (companies subsequently bought up by multinationals and closed down to minimize competition and to create new captive consumer markets), caused unheard-of price rises, plummeting real wages and living standards, and massive unemployment. Market liberalization meant that hitherto protected, cushioned, technologically backward local industries could not withstand the intense competition in retail markets which has led to the collapse of local commerce, unable to resist dumping and similar techniques. Almost half of all jobs have been lost. The very real rejoicing over pluralistic political competition and hugely increased freedom of expression was dampened by immiseration and lack of security, accompanied by the ever-increasing dominion of commercial popular culture, advertising, tabloids, and trash. What had been conceived of at first as colourful proved merely gaudy, and as it became more and more shop-soiled, its novel charm has waned. 

All this was regarded by the unhappy eastern European populations as unmitigated and incomprehensible catastrophe. The political groups on the ground who possessed a little critical sense had been those which fought the former regime and continued to fight its ghost for a long time to come, and pushed the post-World War II liberal agenda – freedom of expression, constitutionalism, abortion rights, gay rights, anti-racism, anti-clericalism, anti-nationalism – certainly causes worth fighting for but bewildering to the popular classes, who were otherwise engaged – without any attention to the onset of widespread poverty, and social and cultural chaos. These groups combined the "human rights" discourse of the liberal left with the "free to choose" rhetoric of the neoconservative right (they still do, after 18 years) and thought of privatization as the break-up of the almighty state, which – armed with the weapon of redistribution – appeared to be the enemy to beat, saw the "dependency culture" as the ideological adversary, preventing the subjects of the Sozialstaat from becoming freedom-loving, upright, autonomous citizens. I remember – I was a member of the Hungarian parliament from 1990 to 1994 – that we discussed the question of the republican coat of arms (with or without the Holy Crown; the party of "with" won) for five months, but there was no significant debate on unemployment while two million jobs went up into the air in a small country of ten million.

The task of a welfarist rearguard action went to any political force now considered to be beyond the pale. In countries where there was official discrimination against functionaries of the "communist" apparat and where the members of the former ruling party had to stick together for self-protection and healing wounded pride, as in East Germany and the Czech Republic, this was incumbent upon the so-called "post-communist left"; and for the rest, the task was usually taken up by extreme nationalist and "Christian" parties. Since there was a certain continuity of personnel between the ruling "communist" parties' pro-market, reformist wing (and their expert advisers in universities, research institutes, and state banks) who, being at the right place at the right time, profited handsomely from privatizations, there was a superficial plausibility to the popular theory according to which "nothing has changed"; it was just a conspiracy to prolong the rule of a discredited ruling class. The truth of the matter is, of course, that the changes have been so gigantic that only a fraction of the nomenklatura was able to recycle itself into capitalist wheeler-dealers. The ultimate winner was nobody local, but the multinational corporations, the American-led military alliance, and the EU bureaucracy


Nevertheless, there is a grain of truth in this popular theory, namely the suspicion that the contrast between planned state capitalism (a.k.a. "real socialism") and liberal market capitalism may not be as great as was solemnly proclaimed in 1989. Popular theories formulated as paranoid urban legends, however understandable, cannot (and should not) replace analysis. But they do have political significance, especially as many successor parties to former "communist" organizations are now touting the neoconservative gospel (the term "neoliberal" is something of a misnomer: today's ultracapitalists and market fundamentalists are no liberals by any stretch of the imagination) and are dismantling the last remnants of the welfare state. Hence the strange identification in some countries of eastern Europe of "communists" with "capitalists" – after all, it is frequently former "communists" who are doing this to us, it is always the same people on top, the democratic transformation was a fraud, this is all a Judeo-Bolshevist cabal and so on. (...)

This is why and how the neoconservative counter-revolution is countered by forms of resistance couched in the terms of the pre-war nationalist and militarist right, often intermingled with open fascist rhetoric and symbols and, in the case of the former Soviet Union, extreme eclecticism trying to synthesize Stalinism and fascism. (The Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the main opposition force in Russia, is inspired by the loony ideologues of the White Guards who represented the political "brains trust" of the general staff of Admiral Kolchak and Baron Wrangel.) There is a great variety of political solutions. After the defeat of the "neoliberal" or neoconservative regime of ex-communist President Kwasniewski in Poland, the ultra-Catholic Kaczynski twin brothers' act, however ridiculous it may have appeared at first, is quite successful and is consolidating itself by combining extreme social conservatism, anti-gay, anti-women, anti-minorities, anti-Russian, anti-German, anti-Semitic, and, above all, anti-communist paranoia, with monetarist orthodoxy, pro-Bush military zeal, persecution of everybody on the left (they have stopped the pensions of the few surviving veterans of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s), censorship, and savage ethnicist propaganda. Forty-one Polish MPs, members of the majority in the Diet, proposed a bill for the election of Jesus Christ as honorary president of Poland (some would amend this to honorary king). The speaker threw it out on a technicality, they did not dare to put it to a vote: it might have won. 

In Slovakia, the government of the left social democrat, Robert Fico, is an alliance of his own party with the nationalists of Vladimír Meciar and the quasi-fascist National Party led by the notorious alcoholic blowhard, Ján Slota. Mr Fico had the effrontery to increase pensions, cut public transport prices, and stop the dismantling of state-managed, essentially free healthcare and public education. It is an immensely popular government, made even more so by its sharp anti-Czech and anti-Hungarian nationalism combined with pro-Russian leanings. Add to this the seeming inability of the Czech Republic, Romania, and Serbia to put together a working parliamentary majority; the anti-Russian madness gripping the Baltic statelets together with very real, apartheid-style discrimination against their ethnic Russian minorities; the persecution and segregation of the Roma minorities everywhere (said the president of Romania of a journalist from whom he personally wrestled and stole, well, confiscated, her mobile phone: "I won't talk to this stinking Gipsy girl"); the total collapse of ethnic enclaves "statified" by the august "international community" – Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Moldova/Transnistria, and the Stalinist intermundium of Belarus; the expulsion of ex-Yugoslav residents from Slovenia: and you have a picture of the "new democracies", the brave soldiers of the "coalition of the willing", Mr Rumsfeld's and Mr Cheney's "new Europe".


Liberal commentators speak of an insurgency against modernity. This is utter nonsense. The neoconservative (or neoliberal) counter-revolution has attacked the nation and especially the lower middle classes on two fronts.

First, it has ignored the fact that social welfare institutions are the backbone of national identity, the only remaining principle of cohesion in a traditionless capitalism. It is not only the loss of livelihood, but the perceived loss of dignity, the loss of the sense of being looked after, protected, and thus respected by the community represented by the state which is at stake. Upward mobility was the greatest triumph of planned welfare states, internalized as dynamic equality. The loss of class status (this latter characteristically symbolized in eastern central Europe by a university degree: even a starving Herr Doktor is a gentleman), the feeling that the descendants of tradespeople, civil servants, teachers, and physicians may have to do physical work, again, or flee somewhere as illegal migrants, to be déclassé, is an intolerable threat. This insurgency is the revolt of the middle classes against loss of nation and loss of caste.

Second, identifying with the bulwarks and battlements of the welfare state created by the communists is ideologically impossible for the middle classes. It would be a tremendous loss of face, since "communism" symbolizes defeat and the past, and the petty bourgeoisie is nothing if not modernist and driven by the myth of achievement, self-improvement, and the rest. They cannot openly defend the institutions that gave them their dignity in the first place, which have made peasants into bureaucrats and intellectuals, since this would be to acknowledge the shameful agrarian past and the equally shameful "communist" legacy. Thus, by representing the neoconservative (or neoliberal) destruction as the work of communists, shame can be avoided and the defence of pre-1989 institutional arrangements made acceptable. Also, former communist party or communist youth secretaries cannot say that they never belonged to that institutional order and they have nothing to be thankful for its blessings; they have to declare that the dismantling of that order is the correction of a mistake. So they appear fallible and opportunistic, not the harbingers of a new era, liberty, or whatever. 

So the new counter-revolutionaries can be fashioned as being of both the left and the right, and the impeccably anti-communist foes of the "communist" privatizers, monetarists, supply-siders, and globalizers. They can defend the Bolshevik-created welfare state without giving an inch to Bolsheviks who went from the International to the Multinational, since both can be opposed by the idea of militant ethnicity, something quite different from classical nationalism, the latter built upon the legal and political equality of all citizens, regardless of creed and race within an independent and sovereign nation-state. 

Meanwhile, even more than in the west, the working class is silent. There are hardly any strikes. This battle is fought between transnational capital and its native agents, and the local, ethnic middle classes and the ethnicist and clericalist intelligentsia. An authentic left has not surfaced.

Yet.

2 comentários:

Nightwish disse...

Parece-me, de fato, que falta muito pouco tempo para conseguir evitar as consequências do caminho escolhido.
Merkel e Sarkozy serão para sempre lembrados como os líderes que voltaram a trazer, a todos os níveis, a instabilidade à Europa, e mais do que provavelmente, criaram as condições para que os golpes de estado e as guerras voltem a matar milhões na Europa.
E daí, não sei se há recuperação possível

Anónimo disse...

Esse autor merece mesmo ser lido,e há vários textos em inglês.
Por exemplo, nesta entrevista http://www.isj.org.uk/?id=555 mostra como acabou por encontrar o marxismo como única alternativa para compreender a realidade social e política do leste pós-queda do muro. Tão longe disso anda a nossa esquerda, já para não falar dos indignados populistas.