Ivan Krastev: There are two parallel processes in the EU: continuous integration in certain sectors, but at the same time disintegration in terms of practices

Discussion between Prof. Dr. Ivan Tchalakov (sociologist and head of the Center of  Excellence Jean Monnet in University of Plovdiv “Paisii Hilendarski and Ivan Krastev (political scientist and member of the advisory board of the Center of Excellence Jean Monnet in University of Plovdiv “Paisii Hilendarski”. Ivan Krastev is also Chairman of the Board of the Center for Liberal Strategies (Bulgaria) and Senior Researcher at the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences (Vienna, Austria). Founder and member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, board member of the International Crisis Group. He is a founding member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the global advisory board of the Open Society Foundation, New York, and a member of the advisory board of the Center for European Policy Analysis and the European Cultural Foundation. Author of numerous books and articles on European issues.

Prof. Ivan Tchalakov (I.Tch.) – Mr. Krastev, let’s start with a few introductory words. Our idea to establish the “Jean Monnet” Center at the University of Plovdiv (PU) was to try to continue in some way the work of colleagues from the European network “Tensions of Europe” (https://www.tensionsofeurope.eu/). It still exists, but has somehow lost its momentum, especially since its original ideas and charge seem to have run out. In our European “periphery” we thought that a kind of continuation of these ideas would be interesting, i.e. to try to look at the hidden and overt processes of integration and disintegration in Europe. The main idea of ​​this network is that, in general, the integration of Europe takes place long before its political constitution, at the level of technology, knowledge, circulation of educated people, later on standards – legal, economic, etc. As people who live in this latitude, we have focused a little more on disintegration processes, which, of course, in the duration of the project we could adjust and balance. In general, this is it.

I.Tch. In the last ten years, the EU has been hit hard by a cascade of crises: financial, migrant, Brexit and now the coronavirus pandemic. All of them seem to have left deep scars on the face of the EU. Have they weakened its attractiveness or made it stronger? It seems that in recent years, and not only on the surface, disintegration has become a more pressing issue, in contrast to the optimistic and expanding atmosphere in the EU in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But is integration really weakening or do we have something else going on?

Ivan Krastev (I.K.). In my opinion, from the very beginning of the European project, both processes of integration and disintegration have been going on all the time. Moreover, there is integration in one area, disintegration in another … But what I see especially in relation to the corona crisis is the following: it can be seen as the “second coming” of the previous three crises (terrorist, financial, migration). If we look at the three main debates it provoked, the first crisis that came with terrorist attacks and anti-terrorism legislation, in other words everything that happened after 2001 in the United States, back then there was a very strong reluctance in Europe to allow any idea for a state of emergency, and unlike the United States, there was a much stronger idea here of protecting civil rights. If we look at (subsequent developments), this consensus has been largely revised as a result of the corona crisis. Although it has been going on for a long time, it has happened in more European countries – because this crisis has been seen as different, because much of the different technologies – including infection tracking and others of this type – have made it impossible to eliminate this policy. So this consensus that Europe, unlike America, will in no way allow the mass application of tracking technology, the use of artificial intelligence to regulate and monitor the movement of people and information, seems to have been rethought.

The second thing that happened to us for the second time was the migration crisis. In the end, the corona crisis closed more borders in the EU than the crisis of 2015-16. And yet, unlike the migration crisis of 2015-16, which sharply divided Europe, when pro-European and nationalist attitudes were sharply divided, the idea of ​​open borders and the idea of ​​closed borders. Now, despite the fact that it was a matter of closing borders – de facto all countries closed their borders in March 2020, there are three big differences. The first is that although the borders were closed, and perhaps because of this, within the nation states, if you look at the way in which all non-citizens of these countries were treated, it can be seen that in the end almost the same approaches were used and almost the same attitudes as the citizens of these countries existed. For example, you cannot but isolate migrants, you cannot but vaccinate them … In this sense, it turned out that this type of nationalism that emerged with the crisis was much more inclusive. It was not ethnic, it was territorial. Secondly, it has also become clear that within the EU, borders cannot be closed economically for a long time without paying a high price for everyone. What we are seeing after the initial restrictions is any attempt to open the borders to people and goods within the EU, while closing the external borders. As today, the response to external borders is very different than in 2015-2016. The third thing the corona crisis has done is, at least in my interpretation, part of the great tensions that have taken place in Eastern Europe. not only with the effect of people coming and going from here, but also with the effect of emigration, depopulation, leaving. As a result of the corona crisis in Eastern Europe, many people have returned! At least the Bulgarian data I studied. Whether these people will stay in Bulgaria or not is another question, but it has also happened in Poland – 1 million people have left Britain alone in the last year. So, suddenly, the movement of people turned in the opposite direction, from the center to the periphery of the EU!

The third crisis, the financial crisis, is back. Then, in 2008, it was the idea of ​​Eurobonds, now it’s “corona virus” vouchers, but the economic decision that came as a result of this crisis was the exact opposite of what was done in 2010-2011. Back then the idea was that in no way should future loans be guaranteed by all parties. And now this has happened with the idea of ​​“Recovery Fund”! I say that because, after all, what we are seeing as a result of the corona crisis – in the light of your question, is about integration and disintegration, is a strange process. On the one hand, almost all EU countries this year have seen a decline in trust in public institutions, with a few exceptions in some of the Nordic countries. On the other hand, if you look at the Eurobarometer, and also in the two consecutive surveys of the European Council on Foreign Relations, confidence in the EU has suddenly increased. But what has changed is that Europe is beginning to think of itself as a possible protectionist space. At a time when there is a fear that everyone is becoming a protectionist, that everyone is closing down, small European countries have realized that economically you can only close at EU level. Bulgaria could not have its own protectionist policy due to the absence of a national economy. And this is true for almost all EU countries.

So to your question – more integration or more disintegration, the answer is that the reason why Europeans want to stay together has changed. If before the EU saw itself as a laboratory of the world to come and somehow as a model of opening, the moment the world began to close suddenly, the idea is that closing to Europe is possible only at EU level.

I.Tch. In one of your last interviews you say that the coronavirus pandemic has made you Bulgarian again. In this perspective, we can’t help but ask you, has the pandemic put an end to the globalization project and are we going back to the nation state? Years ago, there was an idea that the nation was no longer the core of development in late modernity and was moving more towards development based on distinct regions that interact on a global scale. We have Europe, on the one hand, Russia and its space, Turkey … Isn’t that exactly what is happening today?

I.K. Economically it is so. In fact, the process of globalization crisis is not about returning to nation states and national economies, but rather about regionalization. At the same time, there are two parallel processes, one of fragmentation – say global supply chains, global supply chains are beginning to restructure, because today we want production to be closer, not on the other side of the world. This is especially strong in all things related to the pharmaceutical industry, this is one of the effects of the corona. But at the same time, the spaces in which you think are large spaces – India, China … This is by no means the space of small nation states.

I.Tch.So the movement is not from nation states to globalization, but to regionalization and tensions between regions?

I.K. – Yes, polarization and fragmentation at the same time. Polarization mainly in relation to the United States – China, but at the same time fragmentation, which can be seen at the regional level, where everyone is trying to lead their own economic region and from this point of view thinks it can guide the process of globalization and de-globalization .

I.Tch. In your book, After Europe, you say that if disintegration happens, it will not be because the periphery has fled, but because the center has revolted? It is obvious that the situation has changed since the publication of this thesis. Can we still describe the processes in Europe in such terms that the center has revolted and the periphery has fled … Hence, what about the idea of ​​a two-speed Europe, for example? I think we can combine the answer here with our next question. In Imitation and Democracy, you argue that the Western model’s attractiveness to CEE countries has faded. In this sense, do you feel that they are in the process of looking for an alternative or creating their own?

I.K. What emerges from the latest sociological research is that the two societies in which distrust of the EU is currently highest are Germany and France … This is not so strange, because only these two big economies can somehow imagine that they could function as national economies within a global world. This is largely due to the policy of delaying vaccination, which has generated a great deal of negativity, especially in Germany. It seems that the French and the Germans think that if they had negotiated the vaccines on their own with the pharmaceutical companies, they would have taken them faster and been vaccinated faster … Of course, these are things that are changing, but these current results of public opinion polls are interesting.

I.Tch. Yes, Germany fully meets the definition of a region you gave – in fact, it has always been one such region, along with Austria, the Scandinavian countries and some other neighbours … In this situation, our Eastern European countries, turn out to be even more attached to the European project …

I.K. The problem of our countries is different. Unlike Britain, or some of the more radical movements in some Western European countries, here they have never tried to leave Europe, but rather to change it the way they envision it. In this sense, there is currently no serious political party or serious government in Eastern Europe in purely economic terms that thinks of itself as wanting to leave the EU. What I think has been felt and seen since the refugee crisis is the strengthening of the idea of ​​political and cultural sovereignty within the EU. Today, the European project from the East is economic integration, specifically strengthening redistribution within the EU. But along with reducing the pressure for political integration, including or especially in some “soft” social and cultural areas, such as the rights of sexual minorities, of this kind. Tensions are running along this line, it is not on the line of leaving the EU. One of the paradoxes is that there is currently no major political party in any of the countries that wants a referendum on leaving the EU. In 2016, there were 17 such parties, including large structural parties – such as Marine Le Pen in France, Salvini in Italy … At the moment, it seems that the eurozone and the EU are accepted as the only possible format in which Europe is somehow present in world politics. But the question is how individual countries in the EU can preserve their political and cultural characteristics, and for some countries, political characteristics are understood as a special political regime.

I.Tch. You say preserving political peculiarities … In February, within the framework of the project, we had a discussion on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, with a focus on vaccination. You may remember, in September 2020, materials were published about the logistics created by the United States, then the government of Donald Trump, where a special staff led by generals from the logistics departments of the US Army coordinates all stages of development, production, storage and delivery of vaccines in close collaboration with the companies that develop these vaccines. In addition to the government’s direct investment of more than $ 15 billion in these companies, it turned out that from the very beginning, this headquarters stood closely behind the companies and assisted and controlled them. It is no coincidence, therefore, that the United States did not have these problems with the supplier companies that the EU had, which had opted for a much more commercial approach to negotiations, prepayment contracts and the benefits of buying on a large scale. Then it was much easier for companies to afford to breach these trade agreements. In this process, the EU did not act as an integrated nation state or at least as a confederation. Do these features of the EU not pose a threat to it in this new competition at regional level?

I.K. Undoubtedly it does! What is very clear is that in a state of emergency, the key is what type of prerogative / discretionary power the central government has. And this is very clear, for example, when we see how the negotiations for the purchase of vaccines between a classic nation-state such as Israel went, and what happened during the EU negotiations. The EU is negotiating, but it is negotiating on behalf of the Member States. In this sense, paradoxically, the European Commission does not have a single vaccine. All vaccines are redistributed across nation states, and this explains the fact that the EU did not have a vaccination policy. We have allowed more than 50% of vaccines produced in the EU to be consumed elsewhere, but this was the result of contracts concluded between companies. What Russia is doing, what China is doing – their ambassadors are flying and delivering vaccines, what Vucic did in Serbia to give vaccines to neighboring countries, in fact the reason we do not give any vaccines to Northern Macedonia, Ukraine or Albania – countries , which are the first periphery of the EU, are related to the fact that the EU does not have vaccines and the nation states state that they must first vaccinate their population …

When the EC does not have this discretion, three things happen and they are really problematic. The first is that you want to maximize everything – first the lowest price, because you are a really big market and you have advantages … But for example Israel paid 40% more to Pfizer than the EU, saying that the most important thing for them is speed of delivery! The second is that due to the very specific and high protection of personal data of EU citizens, the Commission did not agree to provide this data to pharmaceutical companies during vaccination, something that is particularly important to them, access to information, data – in addition to the money they will receive. The EU has refused to give such access to anyone, including nation states. The third is transparency – it has been left to high-ranking EU officials, roughly speaking lawyers, to negotiate. However, they are not interested in the political cycle, which has created a big problem in certain countries, Bulgaria is one of them. These are the countries that have elections this year and wanted the vaccines to come to them as soon as possible.

I.Tch. But isn‘t that really the way European integration is developing? With each crisis, discretion at EU level increases – for example, this is the case in the environment, as is the case after the migration crisis with the creation of FRONTEX – new tools for influence at EU level appear. In the field of health, this process is slow, although France has been proposing common health policies since 1954, but this is not accepted … Will increasing discretion at EU level not enter the political sphere itself, give more power to the EC  to intervene on issues such as the rule of law, human rights and others in individual countries? I also mean such revelations from recent weeks, about the cases of pressure on businessmen in our country, various forms of raiding, i.e. attempts to hostilely take over iconic businesses such as Monbat and Prista Oil … This simply cannot happen in most Western European countries.

I.K. I agree that the integration process is chained – all the time you focus and start to integrate. However, one of the things, and this is very strong in your project, is that gradually not only are the standards starting to be harmonized, but there is also a unification of policies. The idea is to have maximum convergence when it comes to political practices – to feel equally protected within the EU. Here, too, one of the paradoxes is that within the territory of Bulgaria, foreign companies from EU countries feel more protected than local Bulgarian companies. This is the big turn. What happened to some of the companies you are talking about could have been much more difficult if it were German, French or Italian companies … This situation today is a total reversal of the idea that if you are a national your company has hidden advantages over foreign companies coming to the country.

At the same time, a process is underway, and there will be very strong pressure to unify policies. This is in environmental policy, that’s where it’s definitely going. Secondly,  a similar process will start with regards to tax policy – I do not think that the EU can maintain this large difference in tax regimes in different countries. The problem is that while this thing is going on and this type of integration is absolutely visible and happening, what is becoming increasingly difficult to converge are precisely the political practices of the type we talked about above. These (national) political practices do not necessarily go through a clash with the EU, but rather go through their implementation! Let’s say that Hungarians and Poles are at war with Brussels. Nobody is waging such a war in Bulgaria, but here the idea is to behave as if Brussels is not there … These are the different possibilities for how political convergence begins and is realized under conditions that, for example, between Northern and Southern Europe we are seeing a great diversification of incomes – after each crisis Germany is getting richer than Italy… after each of the three crises!

In my opinion, these are processes that run simultaneously: integration in certain sectors is constantly going on, integration is also going on in the way the main problems are formulated, etc., and at the same time there is roughly disintegration and divergence in practices! How the laws are applied is starting to become more important than what the laws are and what they are …

I.Tch. I am reminded of Northrop Frye‘s book The Great Code, which examines the relationship between the Bible and the development of European languages ​​and argues that beyond the immediate meaning of words in a language, there are deeper, tectonic processes that define the relationship between language and reality. . It seems that we have something similar here …

I.K. What, in my opinion, is especially evident in these countries, such as Bulgaria, is that there are areas in which you cannot pretend that the EU does not exist. But suddenly there is a split in socio-economic life: there are areas where you live as a European, according to EU rules; but suddenly other spheres appear in which you do not live like this. Here I remember and there is serious research, including in Third World countries, on the so-called dualistic economy – you have one economy that is fully integrated into the global one and you have another that operates completely in parallel and seems unrelated to it. In our country, this is not so much at the level of the economy as at the level of social behavior, social activities. Interestingly, this often goes through the same people – it is not the case that you have one European part of the population and another is not. Rather, we live in two different modes, depending on what you maximize in this case.

I was very interested in this process, this huge movement of people, which the corona crisis caused. This was, of course, from the center to the periphery of Europe, but inside each country it was also from the big cities of the countryside. Suddenly – with the advent of the Internet and other remote technologies, you suddenly start to really imagine how you can live 3-4 months there, which you never imagined before. This is starting to look like … Let’s say you went to a village, and your presence in that village is starting to change the village. Literally – income is brought in, but prestige is also brought in. This seems very important to me – under the surface they are constantly flowing … how can I say it: underwater rivers are flowing in all directions.

I.Tch. This is very interesting. But let us realize that some of the Bulgarians who stayed in Western Europe and did not come, they also closed in a special way …

I.K. Bulgaria is the country with the largest decrease in money transfers for the last one year. Compared to all other emigrants in the world, the money that Bulgarians abroad send to their relatives in Bulgaria has decreased the most. By one billion. Either they returned to Bulgaria or they stayed, but they had the means only to survive, but not to save and send. This, by the way, is one of the criteria by which we can see how financially successful part of the emigrated population is. For example, you work in a restaurant, which is closed. And you get money just enough to survive and it is much harder for you to send money back to Bulgaria. At least for me, this process of integration / disintegration is constantly going on, different nuances are changing, different accents are changing. The narratives through which the story is told change. But the fact is, at least in the sociological reality, that as a result of a crisis in which the majority of people believe that the EU has not done something extraordinary, confidence in it is rising sharply. This is mainly due to the fact that we suddenly see the world with different eyes.

I.Tch. The book The Great Reset” shows that the state of emergency has set in motion and intensified the introduction of new technologies and processes that are gaining ground in everyday life. Does Europe have the potential to retain some leadership, or will China dominate again?

 I.K. Perhaps you can answer this much better. What is visible and what almost everyone already agrees on is that this latest crisis was not so much a classic disruption as a confirmation of trends that were present before. Like digitalization, for example. It’s just that these trends have intensified. It’s like getting something from the slow train to the fast train, but you don’t change direction. However, this has also led to great tensions, especially geopolitical polarization between China and the United States, for example. The prospect of the emergence of two different technological zones has been created. For example, what is the search engine you use; what is the technology you use for 5G. Whether you work with Chinese or American software. All this is increasingly being thought of not just as a technological choice, but as a geopolitical choice. In this sense, Europe does not necessarily benefit from this. Because even when we have high-tech production in Europe, because it does not have the big high-tech companies that have the United States or China. In fact, outside of these two countries, most of the others have specializations in certain fields. As it became clear with the example of pharmacy. What the Germans did in collaboration with Pfizer is enormous. But somehow they are not alone. In fact, the hardware is more American-Chinese.

I.Tch. And here, along with integration, we have some hidden disintegration processes…

I.K. Here they mostly relied on the fact that there is a global market, that there is a global technological space. And here is the difference with the Americans and the Chinese, who can much more easily work in an area that is “the world is technologically divided in two” (which is not the Cold War model, they are by no means as divided as the United States and the USSR). But the truth is that there will be some limitations. And they are already running. Especially with regard to military technology, this is very clear when the Americans told Turkey “if you buy the C 400, you are leaving the F 35 programme”. This type of division is emerging, and Europe is simply forced to take sides. It is very difficult for it to constitute itself as a third technological pole.

I.Tch. …it was. Even 100 years ago, Germany was a peak …

I.K. Yes … It is still in certain areas, in certain sectors. Europe has huge competitive advantages. But what I does not have, in my opinion, is scale. These large companies, such as Google and Alibaba. And here is a very interesting question about the EU. EU competition law is designed to prevent any monopolies within the EU. But not in the same way it protects you from the emergence of monopolies from outside the EU. Since small countries have always had this fear that large economies will dominate, it is done so as not to allow a French or German company to fail to become a monopolist. But suddenly this makes you insufficiently competitive on the external level, being limited in the ability to produce such a large company that can compete with Chinese or American companies. In the 1950s and 1960s, the main thing was how to regulate competition within the EU, because it was thought that somehow we could not allow only one to dominate. And this is one of the big problems of some successful Eastern European countries, such as Poland, who say, “… we are doing very well, but where is the big Polish European bank, where is the big Polish company?” Now all of a sudden, when you turn and you see that you are not competing with the French or the Poles, but you are competing with the Indians, the Chinese or the Americans, then the point is that you need a scale. And I am convinced that if this famous project with the Franco-German initiative in railway transport had to be solved now, they would be allowed to merge. Because it is already clear that in this world it is very important to have big European companies. This bothers you a lot, because it turns out that, for example, Chinese are coming to your market that you can’t compete with.

I.Tch. In recent years, we have been working on a path dependency concept. It made a name for itself some time ago with the work of David Stark. Can we think of such a bad legacy of the Europeans coming from the early decades of the EU?

I.K. In fact, the idea of ​​the EU is still linked to the fact that it is a project of small and medium-sized countries that want to unite and work together, but not allow a dominant force to emerge among them. In a way, this is the problem of any constitutional democracy. You both want to have enough power, and this power can be limited. However, in a state of emergency, you need more power to solve the problem. This is a matter of balance and it is constantly being renegotiated. I am fully convinced that, as a result of this crisis and in the context of the things we are talking about, the EU will change the framework in which competition is regulated in order to allow European companies to be competitive outside Europe.

I.Tch. How would Europe resist the appetites of other major world powers and economies and the attempts to separate regions from it?

I.K. The problem is that in this world, which is both polarized and depreciated, medium-sized powers are beginning to play a particularly important role. Unlike the United States and China, which are trying to reshape a world that works relatively well for them again, we have medium-sized powers like Russia, Turkey, Britain after leaving the EU. They are too big to wait to see what happens, but not big enough to reshape the world. And the problem with the EU is that all these countries that we have mentioned are constantly facing it with completely different types of advantages than those that it has. In economic terms, it is completely pointless to compare the EU with Russia and Turkey. The problem is not only the size of the economy, but also dynamism, high level of technology, labor productivity, etc. At the same time, Europe (despite high military budgets) has no desire or will for power projections. It is not a question of what military budgets you have, how many tanks you have. The question is how ready you are to use them. In fact, both for Russia and for Turkey, the problem with the EU is that it constantly tells them to talk about economic things where they feel somehow asymmetrically threatened. No, let’s talk about military issues, they say. Some talk about how to protect the border, others – about migration. In this sense, the EU’s problem is that a periphery has suddenly emerged around it that speaks a completely different language of power from it.

I.Tch. The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia is an illustration of this.

I.K. Absolutely! It is a clash between different cultures that speak different languages. Some want to play chess and others want to play backgammon.

I.Tch. But this is not the problem of our countries on the inner periphery?

I.K. Our countries, paradoxically, on the one hand, are very different from the European center, but on the other hand, they have never been so integrated because of the movement of people. If one realizes, Bulgaria has never been so integrated into the outside world precisely from the point of view of Bulgarians who go, return, live, study, work somewhere. In this sense, the idea of ​​peripherality is largely related to the fact that we see the EU as “somewhere” where we are going, and not as “somewhere” where we belong. The problem with the periphery is that the EU never thinks like us. Whenever we try to define ourselves, we always define ourselves in relation to the EU. And not as part of the EU in relation to others. This is very clear, for example, in the following example: there is no debate on China in Bulgaria. It is not a question of whether it is positive or not. We don’t just see it. (Of course there are areas in which we are integrated – academic, financial, etc.). On the other hand, all neighboring external countries (such as Russia, Turkey) could produce a disintegration effect. But they could not produce an integration effect. And this is a fact. Even in relation to extremely positive countries towards Russia, such as Bulgaria or Slovakia. The idea that Bulgaria has any desire to join a Eurasian project is simply not true. And this is not true, because a large number of Bulgarians were integrated into the EU individually. While Russia is thought of more as an alternative. That’s why it’s so attractive, because it’s kind of abstract. It is a symbol of something else that you do not have. And real Russia does not interest you deeply. In Turkey, the issue is even less valid. It applies only to a certain part of the population.

I.Tch. Last question, again regarding the covid crisis and the hesitation about vaccines. Can we consider this phenomenon as an indicator of the decline of science as a major integrative mechanism of modernity?

I.K. Well, maybe you’ve read more about it. In any case, one of the main things is that science itself constantly presupposes disagreements, different opinions, and this is its strength, this is the way it produces knowledge. For the average person, the very fact that different doctors have different views on the issue is proof that somehow they should not be trusted. From this point of view, vaccine hesitancy seems to me a super important problem, if you look at it sociologically. To see in different societies who does not believe and how he does not believe. For example, I looked at the latest data for Russia, where 63% of people under the age of 30 refuse to be vaccinated. In this sense, on the one hand, it is focused on science. But not only. On the other hand, what has happened in modernity is that science is just another name for power. And all distrust of power as such is suddenly transferred to science. Before, science legitimized power. If before that you trusted the expert, it makes you trust the minister he advises, today, because you do not trust the minister, it follows that the distrust is transferred to the expert who advises him.

I.Tch. In your last article you talked about the problem of hypocrisy. To conclude: hypocrisy as an integrating and disintegrating motive. The hypocrisy of the rulers in front of their own people, the hypocrisy of the rulers in front of Europe. (We have the opposite examples – such as Churchill with his firm position, which, nevetheless, is sometimes very expensive and leads to many negatives). And hypocrisy in general as a cultural model.

I.K. This is an extremely interesting question. Judith Shklar has a famous book called “Ordinary Vices”. And there she claims that hypocrisy is characteristic of any liberal society. Because when you walk down the street and they ask you how you feel, you don‘t have the feeling that they really wants to know how you feel, nor will you answer them. We do not live in a world where we say how much we do not like it. But this clashes with a culture of authenticity that dates back to 1968, which is getting stronger and stronger. So when you don’t express yourself and try to look polite, it starts to look like untruth. Suddenly, only something that is divisive, negative, is accepted as true. And this creates a big problem. Because, on the one hand, politicians are really hypocritical. But hypocrisy also has a transformative power. For example, there are studies that show that in the early 2000s, the regimes that most vigorously and hypocritically tried to prove that they were respecting certain rights (say, Mubarak) were actually changing. When you say something for a long time, even if it‘s a fake, you still apply some things. Changing your language, changing your language in some way is slowly starting to change your behavior. And this whole idea is that if you hypocrisy long enough, you unwittingly even internalize these problems and change. This is very clear today by the fact that if you want to attack some liberal statements, you use the language of liberalism, you use the language of rights. And the question is how much is strength and how much is weakness. In my opinion, it is different in different contexts. But people‘s sense of living in a hypocritical world is also related to the fact that when you attack someone for being hypocritical, it gives you a sense of moral superiority, without necessarily having to show an alternative to what he offers.

I.Tch. I remember an idea of ​​Andrey Raychev that socialism was a society that could not overcome crises locally, thus letting the steam off. As a result of that tension accumulates, which leads to implosion inwards. Isn‘t hypocrisy a capitalist, liberal equivalent and something like that? You hide, you hide, as a result of which centrifugal forces accumulate…

I.K. Yes, absolutely. Globalization is, in a sense, a regulation of the languages ​​we speak. She creates a kind of “Esperanto”. But the problem is that using this “Esperanto” no one feels that they can express what they really think. Like Latin at the time of the emergence of national languages. And then the feeling arises that in fact those who govern you are not the same as you. You don’t speak the same language, they can’t understand you.