Letter FromnEuropenby Thomas MolnarnHistory LessonsnAs I write I have in front of me annumber of statements, articles, and conferencenprojects—and more are comingnto my attention almost daily—nindicating what amounts to an invasionnof Eastern and Central Europe bynWestern zealots, do-gooders, investors,ngurus, and sharks. They emanate fromnAmerican and West European offices,nbanks, institutes, universities, and othernheadquarters of alleged aid projects,nsome plainly admitting their interest innprofit, others camouflaging their motivenbehind the usual moral propaganda.nA few samples. The Dawson Newsletternissues “an invitation,” signed bynDr. Joseph Koterski, S.J., to its readersn”to consider what forms the reconfigurationnof Europe could take,” andnasks “what to do with so much freshnenergy and the good will of a newnmorning?” Jacques Attali, ex-advisor tonpresident Mitterrand, has left his jobnand is now heading a woridwide Developmentnand Reconstruction Bankn(with the initials “BERD”) that willninvest in the Eastern and Central Europeanncountries, but makes its loansnconditional on the adequate “displaynby these countries of a democraticnrestructuring and observance of humannrights.” Even Robert Bellahnwrites in the March issue of the NewnOxford Review that “if we are exhilaratednby the triumph of capitalism [innEurope] rather than by the triumph ofndemocracy, we are showing a singularnlack of self-critical awareness.”nWhat is common to these threenmen is the assumption that emergingnEurope constitutes a territory open tonforeign interference. Who grants thenDawson Newsletter readers the rightnand the competence to consider then”reconfiguration of Europe” and ofncourse eventually to give advice? WhatnCORRESPONDENCEnkind of democracy and human rightsnprotections will satisfy Monsieur JacquesnAttali and convince him to makeninvestments, which is obviously not anmatter of human rights but of business?nAnd, I am sorry to say, why doesnMr. Bellah think that democracynwould be exhilarating to these nations?nThey may answer with Vergil: “TimeonAmericanos et dona ferentesl” Therenare such things as poisoned gifts.nAll this and much more is a case ofndejd vu, reminiscent of when WoodrownWilson wanted to teach high principlesnto these same nations and endednup abetting innumerable holocausts. Itnalso reminds us of post-1960 Africa,ndecolonized by men with high principlesnwho dictated the exact shape ofnthings to come among the continent’sntribes and ended up imposing beastlyntyrants on them, or, in the best cases,nallowing them to fall back on their oldnstructures and traditions. If there wouldnhave been a BERD bank, distributingnmanna according to Africa’s compliancenwith Western standards of democracynand human rights, the bank’snassets would have remained undisbursed.nI am sure Mr. Bellah wrote thenabove sentence in good faith, becausenhe is steeped in a democratic worldnview. But has he reflected on thenpossibility that while he is critical ofncapitalism, other people and nationsnmay be critical of both capitalism andndemocracy? It comes down to this:nwhy do we so matter-of-factly assumenthat the emerging nations of Europenare interested in democracy? Becausenthey have the Greeks, the Romans,nand Christianity in their tradition, likenwe do? But Greek thinkers and Romannjurists actually rejected democracy, andnChristian philosophers are not known,nuntil Jacques Maritain, to have favorednit. Does Eastern and Central Europe’sntradition contain the seeds of democracy?nHardly; perhaps the Czechs (butnnot the Slovaks); the Poles had a verynbad experience with it; the Hungariansnnever really tried; the Rumanians paidnlip service to it only. It is with capital­nnnism as it is with democracy: everybodynwants private property, but this desire isna far cry—as Mr. Bellah’s Hungariannfriend confirmed — from a “marketneconomy” and from “capitalism.” Privatenproperty is to capitalism whatnleisurely morning exercise is to trainingnfor the Olympics.nThis is not to say that the nations ofnEastern and Central Europe have notnpracticed democracy for centuries, inntheir own way — in village communities,nassemblies, personal relationships.nWhat they have not had is Leviathan,nan ideological mechanism that stopsnnot at the voting booth but invades thenfamily, the classroom, the courts, andnevery aspect of public life. Those nationsndo not want and do not need ournkind of democracy. Mr. Bellah speaksnof small communities, involvement,nneighborliness. The essentially peasantnISnTHE ROCKFORD INSTITUTEnIN YOUR WILL?nPerhaps a better question is:nDo you have a current will?nIf not, the laws of your particularnstate will determine what is to bendone with your estate upon yourndeath. What’s more, federal estatentaxes, unless there is proper planning,ncan claim up to 55% ofnyour property. If you would likento discuss elements of your estatenplanning, please write or call:nMICHAEL WARDERnLEGACY PROGRAMnTHE ROCKFORD INSTITUTEn934 N. MAIN STREETnROCKFORD, IL 61103n(815) 964-5811nAUGUST 1991/41n