Europe’s Problem–and Ours: Will the EU choose collectivism over individualism? Will we? (PETE DU PONT, 3/21/05, Opinion Journal)
Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, was recently in Washington to meet with President Bush and release his new book, “On the Road to Democracy.” When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Velvet Revolution came to Czechoslovakia, Mr. Klaus became finance minister in the new democracy. He became prime minister in 1992, and later president. His market principles replaced communism with freedom and choice; he liberated prices and foreign trade, deregulated markets and privatized state ownership of assets. Communism was dismantled and prosperity came to his country.
But now President Klaus sees an unsettling new challenge: the zeal of Old Europe–France, Germany, Brussels–to impose collective choices on New Europe–Poland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Ireland. “Ten years ago,” Mr. Klaus writes, “the dominant slogan was: ‘deregulate, liberalize, privatize.’ Now the slogan is different; ‘regulate . . . get rid of your sovereignty and put it in the hands of international institutions and organizations.’ ”
“The current European unification process is not predominantly about opening up,” he continues, “It is about introducing massive regulation and protection, about imposing uniform rules, laws, and policies.” It is about a “rush into the European Union which is currently the most visible and the most powerful embodiment of ambition to create something else–supposedly better–than a free society.”
As Vaclav Havel symbolizes the defeat of communism, so too might Vaclav Klaus one day symbolize the defeat of transnationalism, a far more important fight since it affects us directly and has a domestic appeal the other isms never did.