Decisions by the European Union have always been taken by consistently adhering to one sacred principle: unity. European Union member-states used to wait for the German signal before knowing that a decision would move forward. Once Germany would have had approval from France, the decision would already be set.
This German-led setup is no longer valid, today. EU member-states are becoming so frustrated at Germany’s failure to take the right decision with regard to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that they have started taking decisions which would normally have been taken unanimously, unilaterally. It is incredibly remarkable how quickly European Union politics are changing right now. What has been the norm for many years is no longer acceptable. Europeans are pushing back against Germany’s absurd and illogical decisions and this pushback will only grow further as Germany keeps messing up its energy policy and as it retains its appeasement of Russia. The result is that Europe is being divided into two blocks: the complacent appeasers of Russia led by Germany, which includes France and (probably) soon-to-be far-right Italy, Malta and Hungary, and the other block of European nations who have their energy policy sorted and are taking a strong position against Russia, namely the Nordic countries and the Eastern Europeans. Spain with its energy policy in the right place is still sitting on the sidelines, but Sanchez’s political loyalties lie with Macron and Scholz.
This division is being marked by the issue of the Russian tourist-visa ban which Germany opposes. Finland, Denmark and Lithuania are moving ahead with reducing tourist visas for Russians despite Germany’s opposition, however, these countries are still insisting that the ban should still be applied across the EU. The decision to ban visas for Russian tourists is logical: it’s a security matter but it’s also a matter of principle. Russians should not be able to holiday in Europe while their state wages a genocidal war on a prospective member of the EU. And one should neither shy away from the Nazi comparison which is very fitting for Russia’s situation today. Many Russians believe that the West owes them something for the catastrophic economic collapse which followed the break-up of the Soviet Union. Russians can also hate the West, but they still make use of its freedoms, often to propagate Russian authoritarianism, all the while they suppress the same Western freedoms at home. The situation is bizarre at best, and many left-wingers embrace it by wittingly or unwittingly clinging to inherent authoritarian ideas, such as that Russians have no agency and that the war is not theirs. It’s a situation which reminds me of the scene in Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace where the Russian elite indulges in French literature and music, speak French, and yet, they consider the French and Napoleon as devils, and this was before Napoleon had even invaded. In this regard, Adorno’s reference on anti-semites comes to mind. Adorno, who would have been terrified at Scholz and the left-wingers who support him, wrote an extensive treatise on the ideological and cultural cause of the rise of Nazism in The Dialectic of Enlightenment and writes:
“There is no anti-Semite who does not basically want to imitate his mental image of a Jew, which is composed of mimetic cyphers: the argumentative movement of a hand, the musical voice painting a vivid picture of things and feelings irrespective of the real content of what is said, and the nose – the physiognomic principium individuationis, symbol of the specific character of an individual, described between the lines of his countenance.”
Today, the Russian hatred towards Westerners is converging with the extremism of antisemitism. Russian TV hosts and top politicians call for the destruction of Europe with nuclear weapons. Europe is to be exterminated in order to allow Russia free reign in its imperialist ambitions. Russia should be kept pure in its ideals and united. You don’t want to give us tourist visas to enjoy the French Riveria? We’ll bomb you with nuclear weapons. In turn, Europe is accused of Russophobia.
The first step we should acknowledge is that Russia is already at war with Europe, economically. This should be enough to consider a tourist visa ban. The fact that Russia is committing a genocidal war should leave no doubts about the issue. Germany as the leading member of the European Union should have shown leadership and prioritised European security, but instead, it has chosen to remain in its myopic shell. This is one of Germany’s greatest historical failures which is creating a new opportunity in European politics. Southern Mediterranean countries can benefit greatly from this situation by aligning themselves with the Nordic block. Germany chose to punish Greece and the Southern Mediterranean during the Euro crisis, yet today, they are being asked to carry Germany’s burden over its disastrous energy policy. The Southern Mediterranean will choose the reasonable path or will learn the hard way that Germans won’t have any sympathy for them in their next economic crisis. Germany is morally bankrupt, opportunistic, myopic and self-destructive and those who follow it will lead to the same fate.