Does today’s EU mirror the USSR in 1984?

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Casper, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. Casper

    Casper Member

    Sep 6, 2010
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    By Alexei Fenenko

    Over the last decade comparing the European Union with the Soviet Union under Brezhnev has become a banal cliché much overused in political analysis. Both suffered from bloated bureaucratic systems and were characterized by the reallocation of resources for subsidized regions, fiscal redistribution to benefit socially vulnerable groups, and a belief in certain “values” so strong it verged on the religious. Compare, for example, the attitude of the mainstream media across the EU to the spread of liberal democracy, the idea of “democratic peace” and even ecology with the Soviet belief in the “inevitable victory of communism.” Hopes for the smoothing-over of national differences through the construction of a “European identity” are strikingly similar to the “new historical community – the Soviet people”. Russians often compare the rhetoric of Euronews and the Brussels bureaucracy with the world of Brezhnev's “developed socialism”.

    The doubts over this “multicultural society” that David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy voiced in official speeches (after Germany’s Chancellor Merkel gave an unofficial speech in October 2010 declaring multiculturalism dead) pose similar questions to the European Union today. The project of European integration was originally rooted in a desire to resolve international conflicts through creating a “European identity”. EU leaders have, since 1992, presented it as the model of a future multicultural society. But if this project has proved a failure, then what should the EU now do? Should it opt for greater multiculturalism? However appealing that may seem, adopting that slogan could lead to public dissatisfaction with the European project as a whole. The question arises: what is the EU left with if, after all these years of striving, it has failed to achieve its main aim?

    Add to this the fact that in the Soviet Union in 1984, nothing seemed to be particularly amiss. Economic growth continued, albeit at a slower pace. New technologies were appearing in the defense sector, along the lines of those used in the West. “The working classes’ living standards” continued to rise. Moreover, the USSR had achieved nuclear parity with the United States, and even had superiority in conventional weapons to NATO. The achievements of Soviet science, education and medicine were widely recognized, even by the USSR’s enemies. There was a trade deficit, and occasional rumblings of discontent emanating from the Baltic republics. But amid so many truly global achievements it barely registered. Every day the Soviet Union’s mainstream media reported on economic successes and the progress of communism.

    A similar process can be observed in today’s European Union. Economic growth seems to have recovered (especially since the recession did not hit it all that hard in 2009). The United States’ military guarantees thoroughly protect EU member states from any foreign aggression. Besides, the EU considers itself a leader in the innovation economy – especially in space science and biotechnology. As a model for educational reform, the Bologna process involves a host of countries in addition to Russia. Military conflicts between the countries now joined together in the European Union are a thing of the past. The beleaguered Lisbon Treaty finally came into force, enabling the European Union to become a legal entity. Despite the problem immigration poses, few doubt the need to continue this process of European integration.

    These parallels are no mere coincidence. Both the Soviet Union and the EU suffer from a bloated bureaucracy. There was a time when this allowed both Moscow and Brussels to achieve tremendous success. But gradually these systems give rise to increasingly negative processes

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