- Jan 20, 2016
- Reaction score
- Y Cae Ras
I dont see any link between cultural and physical survival and adherence to religion. Cultures evolve. Always have done. Generally for the better. Our lives are better now than they were 100 years ago and even 50 years ago.My point was less about the evident cultural distinctions, or lack of them, neither about relation to minorities as whole. Rather their connection to roots and what seems to be a natural leaning towards seeing religion as a sacred aspect they will hold close to their national heart, so to speak.My experience of Eastern European nations is that they are not well disposed to minority groups. Most likely due to the period they were behind the iron curtain and isolated. Apart from that I dont see them as different to western nations.Reflections on 'Sapiens' & 'The Strange Death of Europe'The rift between Western and Central Europe runs deep. It is the result of different definitions of what the EU is and what it should be.
In 2006 I joined official meetings in Warsaw between the Belgian prime minister and the two Kaczyński brothers. The first meeting was with Lech Kaczyński, then president of Poland, who died in a plane crash in 2010; the second was with Jarosław Kaczyński, then prime minister of Poland, who is still the leader of the ruling Law and Justice Party (or PiS) today. I remember well how both the Belgian and the Polish delegations did not seem to understand each other. On the Belgian side, we were surprised to hear how much the Kascyńskis were rambling on about the Russian and the German dangers. The Polish side, on the other hand, didn’t understand why we Belgians were pleading for more European integration, once again.
Today, some twelve years later, this perhaps personal misunderstanding has transformed into an open rift between Western and Eastern (or Central) Europe. This divide was made abundantly clear in the European Parliament in September, when many Eastern European parties voted against sanctioning the Hungarian government, led by Viktor Orbán, for rule-of-law breaches. Many Western Europeans couldn’t understand this support for what Orbán himself calls “illiberal democracy.” At the same time, many Eastern Europeans considered the sanctions unhelpful and certainly one step too far.
Where does this mutual misunderstanding come from? Some would argue it is the result of Europe’s so-called refugee crisis of 2015, when Western European countries tried to push all EU member states to accept and integrate a percentage of the refugees. The refusal by the East frustrated the West. But I believe that the EU’s East-West rift is much older and more fundamental. It is the result of different histories and different views of what Europe is or should be. In other words, Eastern and Western Europe don’t share the same political psychology.
Europe: The Psychological Gap Between East and West
Even though it sounds somewhat oversimplified, I think this might be the main difference.
One may not like certain things about eastern Europe, its spirit, consider those nations somewhat less evolved, less "shiny", or for personal reasons, namely belonging to specific minority, more hostile. But without involving this natural emotional reaction, seems to me, they're more straightforward and in touch with their roots, which is a thing I can respect, and are of essential importance to cultural survival in this day and age.
Latvia and Ireland are similar sizes and they have their own distinct cultures. History, food, language, literature, customs and so on.
And this being an advantage the west lacks for eventual cultural and physical survival in the circumstance Europe, but not only, finds itself in these days and foreseeable future.