Vladimir Bukovsky knows all about dictatorships. He lived in one for over a decade. The former Soviet dissident was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1976 after enduring the hells of the Soviet Gulag.
He penned two important volumes during the height of the Cold War, both describing his twelve years in prisons, psychiatric hospitals and labor camps. His 1978 To Build a Castle and 1987 To Choose Freedom both gave testimony to the power of the human spirit to overcome the horrors of totalitarianism and the need to champion freedom.
Thus he is more than qualified to warn us about another example of the loss of freedom and the rise of tyranny. I refer to the European Union, which in the eyes of many is heading in the direction of a new dictatorship. Its ever-expanding bureaucracies and centralisation of government is resulting in the loss of freedom and the erosion of democracy.
Bukovsky is so concerned about this that he penned an important article on the subject several years ago entitled, “The European Union, a New USSR?” More recently he gave an interview to Paul Belien of the Brussels Journal outlining his concerns. I present here parts of that interview:
“Paul Belien: You were a very famous Soviet dissident and now you are drawing a parallel between the European Union and the Soviet Union. Can you explain this?
“Vladimir Bukovsky: I am referring to structures, to certain ideologies being instilled, to the plans, the direction, the inevitable expansion, the obliteration of nations, which was the purpose of the Soviet Union. Most people do not understand this. They do not know it, but we do because we were raised in the Soviet Union where we had to study the Soviet ideology in school and at university. The ultimate purpose of the Soviet Union was to create a new historic entity, the Soviet people, all around the globe. The same is true in the EU today. They are trying to create a new people. They call this people ‘Europeans’, whatever that means.
“According to Communist doctrine as well as to many forms of Socialist thinking, the state, the national state, is supposed to wither away. In Russia, however, the opposite happened. Instead of withering away the Soviet state became a very powerful state, but the nationalities were obliterated. But when the time of the Soviet collapse came these suppressed feelings of national identity came bouncing back and they nearly destroyed the country. It was so frightening.
“PB: But all these countries that joined the European Union did so voluntarily.
“VB: No, they did not. Look at Denmark which voted against the Maastricht treaty twice. Look at Ireland [which voted against the Nice treaty]. Look at many other countries, they are under enormous pressure. It is almost blackmail. Switzerland was forced to vote five times in a referendum. All five times they have rejected it, but who knows what will happen the sixth time, the seventh time. It is always the same thing. It is a trick for idiots. The people have to vote in referendums until the people vote the way that is wanted. Then they have to stop voting. Why stop? Let us continue voting. The European Union is what Americans would call a shotgun marriage.”
In addition to this interview with Bukovsky, a speech he gave in Brussels in 2005 is also worth reproducing in part:
“It is no accident that the European Parliament, for example, reminds me of the Supreme Soviet. It looks like the Supreme Soviet because it was designed like it. Similarly, when you look at the European Commission it looks like the Politburo. I mean it does so exactly, except for the fact that the Commission now has 25 members and the Politburo usually had 13 or 15 members. Apart from that they are exactly the same, unaccountable to anyone, not directly elected by anyone at all. When you look into all this bizarre activity of the European Union with its 80,000 pages of regulations it looks like Gosplan. We used to have an organisation which was planning everything in the economy, to the last nut and bolt, five years in advance. Exactly the same thing is happening in the EU. When you look at the type of EU corruption, it is exactly the Soviet type of corruption, going from top to bottom rather than going from bottom to top.
“If you go through all the structures and features of this emerging European monster you will notice that it more and more resembles the Soviet Union. Of course, it is a milder version of the Soviet Union. Please, do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that it has a Gulag. It has no KGB – not yet – but I am very carefully watching such structures as Europol for example. That really worries me a lot because this organisation will probably have powers bigger than those of the KGB. They will have diplomatic immunity. Can you imagine a KGB with diplomatic immunity? They will have to police us on 32 kinds of crimes – two of which are particularly worrying, one is called racism, another is called xenophobia. No criminal court on earth defines anything like this as a crime [this is not entirely true, as Belgium already does so – pb]. So it is a new crime, and we have already been warned. Someone from the British government told us that those who object to uncontrolled immigration from the Third World will be regarded as racist and those who oppose further European integration will be regarded as xenophobes.”
He concludes his speech with these words. “This is why, and I am very frank about it, the sooner we finish with the EU the better. The sooner it collapses the less damage it will have done to us and to other countries. But we have to be quick because the Eurocrats are moving very fast. It will be difficult to defeat them. Today it is still simple. If one million people march on Brussels today these guys will run away to the Bahamas. If tomorrow half of the British population refuses to pay its taxes, nothing will happen and no-one will go to jail. Today you can still do that. But I do not know what the situation will be tomorrow with a fully fledged Europol staffed by former Stasi or Securitate officers. Anything may happen.”
Since making this speech, things have gone further downhill in the EU. The question is, are there enough Europeans concerned about freedom and democracy who will resist this growth in totalitarianism, or will the descent into dictatorship simply have to take its fateful course? Time will tell.