Hoppa till innehåll

A Totalitarian Veil – Article in New Europe

We are still used to the simple and transparent political pattern of the cold war. The enemies were on the other side of the borders and the borders were easy to point out. Behind them were dictatorships and planned economies – societies more or less closed to us. It was us, them and the others living in the so called undeveloped world where poverty was combined with political weakness.

The world was divided. The concept of ”The Third world” presumed the existence of the Second world and the First world, concepts we tend to have forgotten.

We were the First world, unchallenged regarding political strength and economic dominance and only challenged by the Second world regarding military force. The conflict between the First and the Second World, which was about the divided Europe after World War 2, could more or less explain and control all other conflicts in the world.

Today there is one world and we are all in the middle of it wherever we are.
China will be the world’s biggest economy by 2040. In 8 years 800 million people will be middle-wage earners in the so called BRIC-countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) only. They will be middle-wage earners, not by their standards but by our.
The balance of the global economy is shifting from us in the direction of the emerging economies. Never has the world seen such big markets being opened, and never have we seen such an enormous increase of labour supply.

But dictatorships and grey-zone democracies will also enjoy economic growth, due to globalisation, of a kind that their political systems could not create on their own.

Globalisation makes it possible for dictatorships to meet the efficiency of market economy and free trade without having free and open societies as fundaments. Thus the global economic dominance of democracies risks being weakened as the economic role of dictatorships is strengthened.

This is even more problematic as we can see totalitarian Islamism emerge, challenging stability and security not only in the Middle East but also in other parts of the world. There is a Totalitarian Veil falling down not only over our civilizations’ cradle and cities like Cairo, Teheran, Bagdad, and Bethlehem. It is also covering the light of democratic ideas in the suburbs of most of our European cities. It is hindering research, the freedom of speech, market economy and the respect of human rights from developing.

Under that Veil, ideas of oppression, terror, censorship and hatred emerge. This Veil has no geographic borders and cannot be seen as an outcome of Arab, Iranian or Muslim civilization, no more than Communism was a consequence of Western civilization or Nazism of European identity. However, it emerges from the Muslim world. We can see its shadows, either by threats of terror or by the threat of the overturn of regimes. It is by definition opposing enlightenment.

The impact of the Iranian development of missiles, the exports of weapons to its agents in Lebanon, its financing of terror, and the threat to eliminate a nation is an indication of what could be coming. The development in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Syria is alarming. The worries in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Pakistan demand a new era of an ideological containment.

This calls for a new era of transatlantic cooperation with consistent policies. We need to influence the emerging economies in order to ensure that the road to prosperity is used for the democratisation and stabilisation of open societies. More than ever the voice of democracy in the world must be coherent, setting the standards for democratic countries.

By using our economic strength to enforce the rules of the WTO and rules of competition we can contribute to the separation of business and industry from state, securing the deepening of sound market economies in countries like China or Russia.

Russia, for example, would prosper from the competition rules of the EU applied on the gas- and petroleum industry. Such rules would benefit democracy and a Russian market economy.

The threats of totalitarian Islamism and the development of economical strong dictatorships are calling for action. We have to be active and strong in our influence on the emerging economies of today in their aim of becoming the democracies of tomorrow. That would be a contribution to the containment of totalitarian ideas wherever they reside.

Gunnar Hökmark

Member of European Parliament and leader of the Swedish delegation to EPP-ED