Texts in English
Speech in Istanbul
Humanity Deserves Better (but what does this slogan mean?)

It has become fashionable and politically correct to speak extensively and dramatically about covid and its epidemic. What bothers me much more, however, is the reaction of the international community and national governments. We shouldn’t underestimate the human losses and the human suffering caused by the aggressive coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, but the man-made, politically motivated collateral damage is far greater.

The artificially induced panic and fear (through 24-hour covid news coverage), the economic and social costs brought about by unnecessary flat, unfocused restrictive measures (all kinds of lockdowns), the destruction of the health of public finances in many countries and their dangerously growing indebtedness, the damaging losses of education for our children and grandchildren, and the negative impact on human psyche will be with us for a long time. Their consequences for political, economic and social institutions and for socially accepted norms of behaviour may stay with us as a new normal, as a new state of affairs, for decades or centuries.

I don’t often quote one of the great Western statesmen and intellectuals, Henry Kissinger, but his last year’s statement “while the assault on human health will – hopefully – be temporary, the political and economic upheaval it has unleashed could last for generations” (in Hoover Digest, Summer, No. 3, 2020) fully expresses my view. My more comprehensive views on this subject are summarized in my book “Quarantine 2.0” (IVK, Prague, December 2020, in Czech).

The widespread acceptance of the ideology I call covidism has been orchestrated by irresponsible, short-term effects maximizing politicians and their very often self-selected and self-appointed “experts”. I mention this because the misuse of science and pseudoscience has been one of the important tools of manipulation in the corona crisis, used for the imposition of measures that radically undermine our freedom. Ordinary people are neither able nor willing to effectively oppose it because they are naturally frightened by the shocking possibility that the global ruling class and its experts could be fundamentally and intentionally wrong.

I used the term global ruling class. We may also speak of the global nomenclatura, or perhaps the Davos men (who are sitting not only in Davos, but also in Brussels, London, New York and elsewhere, I just hope not in Istanbul or Ankara). This self-serving supranational nomenclatura has many critics in your part of the world, and I am fully on your side in this respect.

Let me return to the title of this year’s Marmara Forum: Humanity Deserves Better[1]. I understand this formulation as a sort of criticism of the current situation in the world, but let me raise two questions:

- What does the phrase “Humanity deserves” actually mean?

- Is there such a thing as “humanity”?    

I am afraid that humanity doesn’t deserve anything. Besides, we all know that no one can give humanity a better life. There is no divine entity that hands out benefits to “humanity”, even though some politicians, especially those on the left side of the ideological spectrum, like to promise their voters and supporters undeserved benefits (paid for now by the rest of us and in the future by all, including themselves). I am convinced that we should not help to create the impression that we – the people – deserve something. All cultures – Western and Eastern – know that everything we want to use (or have at our disposal) we have to create ourselves.

I use the term people (or we or human beings), while the Forum documents speak of humanity. This is – for me – a fundamental difference. As an economist (turned politician), I am only able to think by means of explicit (or often implicit) assumptions of the behavioural sciences. Humanity is not a term in these sciences. Humanity is not an entity, it is not an agent, it doesn’t have any behaviour. It is just an easy-to-use term in superficial political discussions.

We should return to the debate about meaningful, operationally useful entities such as the man, the family, the nation (or the nation-state). They have their own preference scales (or utility functions), they like or dislike something, they respond to incentives and changed conditions. Humanity does not. We shouldn’t add to the existing confusion.

I have no problem with the term globalization, which means the growing internationalization of human activities, but I disagree with globalism (which is a doctrine), as well as with naive universalism or cosmopolitanism. I am neither a citizen of the world (so much promoted by President Obama), nor a citizen of Europe. I am a citizen of the Czech Republic, just as – I assume – most of you are citizens of the Republic of Turkey.

We shouldn’t accept the globalists’ disregard of the nation-state. The new human rights doctrine (promoted by the human rights industry in the so-called developed world) is at the very core of the globalist vision of world order. The concept of cultural and civilizational universalism – which is promoted and widely dispersed by these people – is dangerous because it legitimatizes foreign interventions into individual countries in the name of abstract moralism and ideological authoritarianism based on political correctness, identity politics, cancel culture slogans, and all kinds of similar utopian progressivist positions.

All of this is extremely detrimental today, at a time of aggressive ideologies that force us into ideological conformity, at a time in which men and women around the world can no longer speak freely without being afraid of their lives, careers and families.

Istanbul, the crossroad of cultures and civilizations, seems to me to be the right place for a serious, not a priori declared (or imposed on us) discussion of these issues. Let’s use this year’s session of the Marmara Forum for such a fruitful discussion.     


Václav Klaus, 24th Euroasian Economic Summit, Istanbul, July 8, 2021

[1] Six years ago, the topic of the Marmara Forum was ”Where Does Humanity Go“. In my speech there – „The Visible Defects of the Ideology of Universalism“, in Klaus, V., Free Society Fatally Endangered, IVK, Prague, June 2021 – I mentioned that “humanity doesn’t go anywhere only human beings go somewhere”.

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