NOT WHAT MOST AMERICANS ARE EXPECTING
The Future of Eastern Europe

March 1990By Thomas Molnar

Thomas Molnar recently retired from teaching philosophy at Yale and the City University of New York. His latest book is Twin Powers: Politics and the Sacred. He was born in Budapest in 1921 and left Hungary in early 1946; since then he has been a fre­quent traveler to Europe.

Last fall’s controversy surrounding Francis Fukuyama’s article in The National Interest (“The End of History?”) was a good indicator of the ideology and aspirations of the demo­cratic globalists. We in the United States, safely protected by politicians and the media from hearing foreign interpretations of world events, readily believe the globalists that (A) our version of these events is objective and correct, and (B) the world is following us and our model of democratic capitalism.

As it will be remembered, Fukuyama’s thesis was that if Sovietism has given up the ghost, it was because of exhaustion in the ti­tanic struggle against America and its capitalist system. “We will bury you!” Khrushchev said. “We have buried you!” Fukuyama answers — from inside the State Department, where it ought to be known that with under­priced wheat shipments and diplomatic/mili­tary timidity vis-à-vis Moscow (at Budapest, Berlin, Prague, and Gdansk), Washington was not exactly a champion deserving laurels. Nevertheless, Moscow was the loser.

To what or to whom did Moscow lose? Lose to the point that even if Gorbachev were removed, his follower would have to continue riding the tiger. The forces compelling the Kremlin’s surrender have been nationalism and religious faith, the first symbolized by the Islamic resistance in Afghanistan, the second by the martyrdom of the Polish priest, Fr. Popieluszko. In both cases and in innumerable others, religion and national consciousness combined against Russian occupation and Marxist ideology; in fact, they were fused because in Eastern Europe they have always been inseparable. Churches preserved the language, taught the youth, and exalted the nation’s sacred symbols; patriotic insurgents went into battle with fervent prayers under the banner of patron saints, usually Our Lady.

This background tells us a great deal about the general situation as it is likely to develop in the near, and perhaps more dis­tant, future in Eastern Europe (and Russia it­self). Let’s note first that 40 years of Commu­nism changed hardly anything in the mental and cultural make-up of East Europeans. Cer­tainly many apparatchiki of the regimes, and certain circles in the West too, expected all along that the national/religious foundations would be liquidated, and if not the “commu­nist man,” at least a completely secularized man would emerge from the torment. These Western circles were painfully shocked by the collapse of the status quo (it was so comfy, wasn’t it, in spite of that raving reactionary, Solzhenitsyn?), perhaps more shocked than even Gorbachev and his friends. The truth is that, like the many-centuries Turkish occupa­tion, Soviet occupation left hardly a trace: It dragged with it a simplistic ideology (an infe­rior religion) to confront the indigenous one. That Sovietization would be a dismal failure was self-evident by 1956 — except to our secularist ideologues who did not want to give up their (secretly or openly) cherished dreams.


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