March 17, 2000 Halifax Herald
Courting the extreme right: in desperation
Courting the extreme right: in desperation
The history of the free world is chequered with incidents where short-sightedness has unintentionally helped create horrific political situations. When grabbing absolute power, Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Castro, Mao, etc., all had a hugh amount of such help from the West. Let’s lightly examine a few cases.
Germany: If, after the First World War, the allies had assisted the country with rebuilding its economy, instead of ostracizing and driving it into abject poverty, it’s likely that the fertile conditions which permitted Hitler to seize power and unleash a hell would not have materialized. Such an assertion is well-supported by the positive results achieved by the visionary, proactive measures implemented by the United States in Europe after the Second World War. Because vision was used, instead of seeking protracted vengeance, Germany today is an economic powerhouse and a stalwart of democracy. The visionary Marshall Plan put both European friend and foe back on their feet.
Russian Empire: If the West had reacted positively and swiftly to the overthrow of the Empire's despotic Czars and given unconditional support to their democratic replacement, democracy might have survived. Instead, the West procrastinated and helped create the conditions that made the country ripe for Lenin and Stalin's communistic rule - which, although brutal, was better than what Russians had known under the Czars.
Cuba: Although Baptista was a right-wing, barbarian dictator, the West gave him unconditional support because Cuba's economy was a money-making machine for many rich Western citizens - including many with organized crime connections. Under Baptista, the average Cuban was illiterate, in ill health, and living in absolute poverty. Although in Castro's Cuba, Cubans do not live in paradise, in comparison to what they had under Baptista, it's paradise.
Haiti: Haitians, amid chaos, chucked out their dictators and opted for democracy. The West initially went in and helped restore a semblance of order to a turbulent situation. However, it now mostly sits back and offers very little assistance to help them build a modern society from scratch. Because of the lack of investment capital, little progress is being made. If the West permits this to continue long enough, Haitians will possibly try to find a radical solution to ease their poverty that will cause the West to spend billions to try to contain and isolate it.
Due to space limitations, I'll just lightly discuss the rise and collapse of one of the examples mentioned - the former USSR's communist system. Because of politics, we tend to ignore, when discussing Russian history, that life for the country's average citizen under communism was a tremendous improvement from their previous miserable Czarist existence. The new system took an inadequately fed and freedom-deprived, illiterate population to the point where they were adequately fed, literate and had access to a fairly good health system but were still freedom-deprived.
Under the system, the USSR became a super power. Over time, corruption began to undermine the ideal of striving to create the classless society envisioned by Marx. The system became worn, tired, self-serving and without vision. When it collapsed the only ones living a decent existence were the empowered.
Today, the same types of problems that developed and assured the fall of the former USSR's brand of communism are beginning to appear with regularity among the Western Democracies. The fact that the malaise is eating away at the souls of these Nations is witnessed by the continuous airing of new revelations of corruption and arrogant disregard of the law by Western leaders. Stories about how the system is used to serve the empowered's vested interest, instead of the People’s, pour in from all over: the US, Japan, Germany, Canada and Israel, to name a few of the most recent places.
Recited in these stories are incidents of how political games are played with reckless abandon for the purposes of retaining power, making money, personal satisfaction or to punish the "enemy within." Examples include Bill Clinton's impeachment trial and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's election-financing scandal. The malaise has also infected such institutions as the Olympics and the European Parliament.
Fuelled by frustration with political corruption and non-responsiveness many citizens of Western Democracies are turning to the radical right, looking for solutions. This will not, as turning to the radical left did not for past generations, create an equitable society.
The real answer to humanity's problems lies in the virtue called honour. We need to find men and women to serve who will rely on ideas, and not rely on lies to acquire and retain political power. This will not be easy because the modern world has almost institutionalized lying and made it a clear virtue. For example, Canadian electors elected Chretien's Liberals primarily on the basis of a promise to rescind the GST. Upon gaining office they immediately reneged on their promise. Then the electorate rewarded them for dishonesty by re-electing them during the following election. What does this tell you?
If the West wants to prevent more extremist political parties, such as Herr Haider's Austrian Freedom Party, from coming to prominence, then it had better clean up the political and social mess it created. Proactive action is needed, pronto.
Daniel N. Paul