Between Fourth Reich and Fifth Republic

The Polish government increasingly resembles those young girls who happily allowed themselves to be seduced by Jeffrey Epstein’s money, only then to moan about being used and objectified.

Orban and Kaczynski are making my life harder

What did they expect? A quid without a pro quo? Life isn’t like that.

Extending the simile, when Poland complains about the EU’s “bureaucratic centralism”, that’s like those girls complaining that Jeffrey had a penis. The nature of the beast, that.

This brings me to Jarosław Kaczynski, head of Poland’s ruling party, PiS. Mr Kaczynski has made a startling discovery: if Brussels can overrule the Polish government, then Poland is “not a sovereign state”.

Hello? What else is new, Jarosław? Of course, Poland isn’t a sovereign state. None of the EU members is – that’s the whole point of that political contrivance, as it was in 2004, when Poland joined. From its very inception, the manifest objective of the EU has been the creation of a single European state.

In the early 1950s, one of the EU godfathers, Jean Monnet, explained both that objective and the smokescreen designed to conceal it:

“Europe’s nations should be guided towards the superstate without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose but which will irreversibly lead to federation.”

Words to live by. All the members are to pool, or rather dissolve, their sovereignty in a Brussels bureaucracy dominated by Germany and France. For the EU isn’t a German project, but a Franco-German one. It was hatched in the dying days of the Third Reich, when the Nazi and Vichy administrators realised they were so much in love they had to stay together come what may.

Mr Kaczynski went on to say that Germany is trying to turn the EU into a Fourth Reich, which was both imprecise and unnecessarily emotive. That said, there are indeed some similarities between Nazi Germany and the EU.

These come from the traditional German quest to be the dominant continental power. Ever since Prussia unified Germany under her aegis in 1871, the country has been seeking to lord it over Europe. The Germans felt their talents and industry entitled them to pursue that quest at the expense of nations less gifted or driven.

However, apart from the 1918-1939 interbellum, Germany also was by far the most muscular military power in Europe. She was so strong that, in the years outside that demarcated period, it took the combined efforts of the rest of the world to subdue her. Since 1945, however, Germany’s war machine has had its speed artificially limited.

The Federal Republic may be the most virile economic power in the EU, but she certainly isn’t the strongest military power. France’s Fifth Republic is. The two countries dovetail naturally, with Germany perhaps the senior partner, but France not far behind.

Hence Poland has nothing to fear from German panzers. They aren’t going to roll towards Warsaw to turn Poland into a Generalgouvernement Mark II, and nor is Germany going to establish another network of death camps in Polish places like Oświęcim, Sobibor or Treblinka.

If Mr Kaczynski sought an historical parallel, he should have cited the less emotive but more accurate Zollverein, the customs union used by Prussia to bring all German principalities under her sway. They eagerly traded their sovereignty for the bribes Prussia was generously dispensing, and no coercion was needed.

The only exception was Schleswig-Holstein, and there Prussia had to flex her military muscle. But by and large the technique of bringing Germany together provided a useful model for the EU.  

Poland’s sovereignty wasn’t wrenched from her at gunpoint. At play there was a business transaction, not conquest. And any business contract, including the one in question, has to have a clause for its termination.

If Poland wishes to regain her sovereignty, all she has to do is activate Article 50 of the EU Treaty, thereby starting the process of leaving the EU. Britain showed the way in 2016, and Poland can learn both from our achievement and our mistakes made along the way. Is this what Mr Kaczynski wants?

Well, not quite. Although Europe’s variously named ‘populist’, ‘conservative’ or ‘right-wing’ politicians huff and puff about the loss of their sovereignty, they judiciously stop just short of calling for exit. They may dislike the EU, but they still like the euro (the Deutschmark by another name).

Such parties also like the rouble, which currency, suitably converted, either pours or at least drips into their coffers. Putin bankrolls, partly or wholly, all European forces he sees as disruptive, which, in Mr Kaczynski’s case especially, creates a cognitive dissonance.

In 2010, the plane carrying his twin brother Lech, Poland’s president, and other high officials crashed trying to land in Smolensk, killing all 96 people onboard. The Poles were flying there to commemorate the 24,000 Polish officers murdered by the Soviets at Katyn and elsewhere.

Jarosław Kaczynski immediately declared that the crash was no accident, and he was right. A meticulous analysis conducted by the Russian historian Mark Solonin, an aircraft engineer by training, showed beyond any doubt that the plane was blown apart by an onboard bomb.

Mr Solonin’s analysis doesn’t show who planted the device, but the ancient cui bono principle should make the conjecture fairly easy. Yet, though Mr Kaczynski is confident that his brother was murdered, he doesn’t press the case with much persistence. His party, and that of his Hungarian ally Orban, needs Putin’s support.

His cognitive dissonance thus becomes mine as well. On the one hand, I welcome every tectonic tremor threatening to engulf the EU in an eruption. On the other hand, I see Russia as the greater evil, one I wouldn’t like to see strengthened by the EU weakening.

I don’t know if Mr Kaczynski’s animadversions are helping Poland, but they are certainly not helping me.

6 thoughts on “Between Fourth Reich and Fifth Republic”

    1. Oh, it started long before that. I read half a dozen books at least 20 years ago, where this comparison was made. I myself must have succumbed to the temptation in the heat of debate. The problem is that there are grounds for it, ample grounds as a matter of fact. Here we have the makings of a pan-European empire, with Germany at its heart. Yet any historical parallel always has as many points against it as it has in favour. Hence it doesn’t help rational analysis, and in fact hurts it by introducing emotive elements.

  1. “A meticulous analysis conducted by the Russian historian Mark Solonin, an aircraft engineer by training, showed beyond any doubt that the plane was blown apart by an onboard bomb.”

    Rather I have always thought since the plane was landing in bad weather by instruments that the cause was deliberate interference with navigation systems.

    1. It was definitely a bomb. Solonin studied every possible detail, including the position of the bodies, the nature of injuries, the spread of fragments, etc — comparing all those to the known patterns of crashes at landing. There’s really no room for doubt.

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