By voting to distort history, MEPs are legitimating fascism and imperialism, argues LeftEast editor Vladimir Unkovski-Korica in an article initially published on Counterfire.
On 18th September this year, the European Parliament passed a resolution entitled ‘On the Importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe’, by 545 votes to 66.
The resolution is summed up by the claim that the Second World War ‘was started as an immediate result of the notorious Nazi-Soviet Treaty on Non-Aggression of 23 August 1939…whereby two totalitarian regimes that shared the goal of world conquest divided Europe into two zones of influence’.
Without a hint of irony, it goes on to call on Member States to, among other things, take steps to organise remembrance of the crimes of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, as well as various educational and cultural measures which would ‘provide future generations with a clear example of the correct [!!!] attitude to take in the face of the threat of totalitarian enslavement’.
Perhaps today’s youth should learn to repeat that the Nazi regime’s Holocaust is just as bad as the Red Army’s liberation of Auschwitz, until their ears bleed.
But one does not need to defend the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939 to see the fallacies promoted by this resolution. Only revisionist charlatans – sadly, a majority of MEPs, including the social democratic bloc and the Labour MEPs – could possibly explain the Second World War with sole reference to the events of 1939, as if no pre-history existed.
Yet the resolution does just that, making no mention of inconvenient truths, such as that the UK and France appeased Hitler and Mussolini for much of the 1930s, allowing them, among other acts of aggression, to intervene in support of a military coup against a democratically elected left-leaning government in Spain while observing an arms embargo against the besieged Republic.
Indeed, to interrogate the causes of the Second World War before 1939 would throw up far too many embarrassing and inconvenient truths, as would any discussion of the motivations of those who fought against Nazism and Fascism. No, the war was not fought by democracies against any totalitarianism.
Rather, the UK and France were two empires that effectively ‘shared the goal of world conquest’, to nick a phrase from the resolution that purports to describe ‘totalitarian regimes’. Their colonial administrations, as empires before them, surely committed ‘mass murders, genocide and deportations’, to nick another phrase from the resolution.
The resolution bravely declares ‘that European integration as a model of peace and reconciliation has been a free choice by the peoples of Europe to commit to a shared future’. Only, it forgets that among the founders what became the EU were indeed empires, which continued to subjugate their subject populations well after the Second World War, and gave them no free choice in the matter.
The resolution also glorifies NATO but neglects to mention that black Americans fought against Hitler – but formed segregated black units separate from white Americans. So much for the beacon of democracy across the Atlantic. Heck, though, it is an ally of the EU, so forget the US segregation.
None of these inconvenient truths bother our MEPs when they graciously declare that ‘the European Union has a particular responsibility to promote and safeguard democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, not only within but also outside the European Union’, striking notes which recall Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘The White Man’s Burden’.
So the fight to preserve western empires and capitalist interests – integral to the Second World War – are written out of the text, as the European Parliament instructs its President to send a copy of the resolution to, among others, the Russian Duma. Presumably, Russia should watch out, the EU may want to export some democracy and correct remembrance.
Just as the resolution stokes up the fires of right wing aggression abroad, legitimating military adventurism in the future, so it is aimed also at immobilising and silencing the left at home.
Presumably, those communists and other leftists who fought for the Spanish Republic were just as bad as Stalin – who was just as bad as Hitler – so the left today should simply learn to take the ‘correct attitude’ to political events today, in the happy words of the resolution of our dear MEPs. That is, like the UK and France in the 1930s, they should stand aloof.
There is no need to defend Stalin’s record in the USSR – and indeed, it is not a record that Counterfire would defend, as Stalin’s ascendancy negated the democratic legacies of the October Revolution which we celebrate – for us to see where the European Parliament resolutions leads. It is an attempt at establishing guilt by association.
The resolution negates any positive role in history for the millions of sincere trade unionists, anti-war activists, anti-colonial freedom fighters and anti-fascist members of the resistance who fought against the tyrannies and injustices of the world of their time, because some of them knew little about but believed that Stalin’s Soviet Union was some kind of workers’ state.
Today, such beliefs are shallower than in the past and there is no longer a Soviet Union, but the left is still tainted by association. That is a calculated move. This resolution is part of a revisionist, right wing war against truth and a war for the silence of the exploited and the oppressed. It encourages passivity in the face of the brutalities of austerity, imperialist war and far right, racist thuggery today.
No one should be misled by such base red-baiting akin to the McCarthyism of the 1950s in the United States. No one should be silenced and made apathetic in the face of the horrors of the past and the present under capitalism. We should not let them pass.