26 May 2017

A blue crest in the pink tide

President Igor Dodon, the socialist president of Moldova, recently had a meeting with Russian government representatives in which he outlined the four non-negotiables for his country’s public and geopolitical life. They are:
  1. Moldova’s statehood and sovereignty;
  2. Moldova’s neutrality and rejection of NATO;
  3. Moldova’s religious values - specifically Orthodoxy;
  4. Moldova’s friendly relations with Russia.
The Eastern Orthodox, socialist president of Bulgaria, Rumen Radev, has also shown a similar assertiveness of late. He issued some brash language against Erdoğan’s neoliberal-Atlanticist Turkey:
Every politician must learn the lessons of history and geography. I want to assure you that the elections in Bulgaria will take place in a calm atmosphere. Bulgaria is a European country that is led by its laws, not by foreign emotions.
The Eastern European left has always been tinged, even and particularly in its populist incarnations, with a strong traditional streak, being wont to take the long rather than the short view. It is, as Dimitar Bechev puts it, ‘socially conservative and holds in high regard institutions such as the army and the Orthodox Church’. It is not surprising that the left-wing parties of this age, when the Marxist social dogmas lie discredited, are beginning to show counterrevolutionary colours, and are beginning to speak the old languages of stability, sovereignty, realism and international non-alignment, and appeal to religious principles.

This is a trend to be welcomed. It signals a further shift of the mainline parliamentary Left (at least in Eastern Europe) away from utopianism, postmodernism and neoliberalism, and more toward the traditionally-minded realism of figures like Slovakia’s Róbert Fico and Belarus’s Aliaksandr Lukašenka. Though such a shift has been blamed by the neoliberal parties for the rise of the populist right, the failure of that same neoliberal centre to front any kind of meaningful challenge on the level of ideas to the politics of Trump, Farage and the European nouvelle nouvelle-droite (and let us be clear, Macron’s victory in France is a fleeting one), means that the dawn of a more realistic (sovereigntist, non-aligned or even Russia-friendly) left in Eastern Europe is really only just beginning.

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