Vol 1, No 25
13 December 1999
L E T T E R S:
On Cavemen and Aliens
Re: Sam Vaknin's "The Caveman and the Alien" in last week's CER.
This morning, sitting at my computer, the weather an unseasonable 20C, trying to write an optimistic conclusion to a paper, my e-mail subscription to CER Direct pops up to reveal the conclusion I did not want to reach: that history is, of course, not over; that political realists, with their dark vision of nations acting always and only in self interest - despite the nice new liberal, humane, paternalistic terms they may used to hide true intent - are alive and well.
Despite the sun outside, the birds chirping in this false spring and the solstice just around the corner, one cannot hide from the darkest day and the coldest time of the year, anymore than one can escape the reality that the West does not have the best interests of CEE countries in mind when it reaches out with half-eaten carrots to nations that are willing to grasp at anything with a little color and flavor to it.
I am a grad student in transnational law, researching the accession process between the EU and the Czech Republic, and I have come to the same conclusions as Sam Vaknin. I'd love to write my paper with his emotional intensity (actually, I did, but am now re-writing it in American political science jargon so I can get a decent grade) because he speaks the truth.
I spent some time teaching in the Czech Republic last year, and I listened to the press and academics bemoan the incompetence of Czech leaders and their lack of desire to join the EU club. Daily, I heard complaints of Czech corruption, poor business judgment, poverty, political naivete - Czech this, Czech that.
And still the refrain from the Czechs: "We're a poor country. We don't have the resources. We don't have the training."
Look around, folks. What are all those Westerners doing in Prague, Krakow and Budapest if the locals have nothing to offer? It's not just the good exchange rate.
The West is there to make money, not hand it out, and the EU has little intention of welcoming the countries of Central and Eastern Europe as full-fledged members of the club.
Those countries would do better to simply realize this and unite with one another as they started to do at Visegrad. Central European politicians should stop the name-calling and finish their country's transformation to the society they need, not the one dictated by the EU. Perhaps it would end up being something between socialism and capitalism, but it should definitely be something their own.
Also, CER should not discredit Dr Vaknin's writing with bright red disclaimers. His rhetoric may be a bit harsh, but he's not far from many of your other writers who speak as eloquently, if a tad less dramatically.
Susan Smolens, EdM, JD, Wayne, PA, USA
Editors note: The disclaimers in Sam Vaknin's articles are there at the author's request. It is his wish that his views are not confused with official views of the Macedonian government, whom he advises.
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