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English Pages, 6. 4. 2022
Putin's horrible, inexcusable war has not only resulted in thousands of casualties, enormous material damage, the disintegration of many countries' finances and a severe blow to the world economy – which is being noticed by many – but has resulted, and especially will result in a significant shift in the current global cultural and civilizational conflict.
We have become witnesses of and participants in a fatal clash between traditionalists, who do not want to give up the "old world", and progressivists. The former emphasize traditions, customs, values, morals and the "old" well established and fully respected institutions such as the family and the nation state. They take the biological constants of man for granted (for more on all this, see our book The Self-Destruction of the West, published in Czech language in 2020). That is why they disagree with the progressivists (or progressives) who want to create a "brave new world", which – as a repugnant vision of the future – brilliant anti-utopians like Huxley, Orwell, Zamyatin (or even Bradbury and Erenburg) so convincingly formulated already in the first half of the twentieth century. They saw it so clearly because of their sharp way of looking at the two horrible totalitarianisms of the twentieth century – fascism and communism.
I would like to avoid misunderstanding or easy abuse of my argument. I do not share the view of those of our fellow citizens who defend Putin's war on the grounds that it is a historic mission, a new crusade by the orthodox to stop progressivist tendencies. The war cannot be defended or justified.
Moreover, I don't think that's what this war is about. I don't know what spiritual turn Putin may have taken lately. I have spoken to him several times, most recently five years ago, but he has never said a single word about anything of that kind. There was not even a hint of such thinking on his part. We have always had a completely businesslike debate about Czech-Russian economic relations, not about changing the world.
If I may mention one case when the topic was more ideological, it was at the EU energy summit in Lahti, Finland, to which Putin – as a representative of a non-member state, but a key energy supplier to Europe – was also invited. During the break, we both shook our heads in unison at the green blindness of some key European politicians.
By starting the war in Ukraine, Putin has succeeded in giving wings to all kinds of progressivists and multiculturalists. What they used to do quietly and slowly, because they knew that the majority of our citizens did not want it, they are now doing loudly and fast, because any opposition is now easily dismissed as downplaying Putin's war. Their advocacy of multiculturalism is not based on compassion for refugees but on the apotheosis of “refugeeism”. The weak but nonetheless existing debate about the irrationality of the Green Deal and European energy policy has come to an end. What has emerged is the genuine joy about the shortages of oil and gas.
At the top of all this are the explicit preparations for the mass settlement of hundreds of thousands of refugees in our country. Something totally unprecedented in human history. Mass refugee settlement is, beyond any doubt, a huge burden that often causes a breakdown of the countries to which the refugees go. It is fashionable today to overlook this.
Let's not make this too simplistic for ourselves. We are not talking about individual migration, but about mass migration. Moreover, I do not think that we (and our neighbors) may aspire to "steal" millions of people from Ukraine. Who is fleeing the Ukraine? The capable ones or the less capable ones? The hard-working or the lazy? The successful or the losers? Don't we care if it's the latter or the former? Wouldn't the exodus of millions be an irreplaceable loss for Ukraine?
The apparent "disregard" for the consequences (and the lack of attention to details) is part of the ideology of the progressivists who think that it is normal to live "anywhere" because they think that living "somewhere" – to use this now fashionable phrase of David Goodhart – is reactionary and old-fashioned. Yet, this is not the way to build a cohesive human community. Such a community has no life of its own. It may have a high consumption level and enjoy frequent travel, but that is not enough.
It is precisely this kind of self-destruction of the West that I have long been warning against. This is not in the slightest a defense of Putinism. His invasion of Ukraine has, unfortunately, made the reversal of many people's thinking much easier. I am terrified of what will follow when the war is over.
Václav Klaus, published in MF Dnes daily, March 31, 2022. Translated from Czech.
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