07/09/2022
Texts in English
The Future Has Already Begun
Václav Klaus at the 31st Economic Forum in Karpacz


Many thanks for the invitation, many thanks for giving me a chance to be here. I missed last year’s Forum because of health problems, which makes me all the more glad to be here now.

When looking one year back, I see three main new developments:

1. The EU-induced Green Deal has begun to be felt by millions of our fellow citizens. Its very painful consequences have manifested themselves in the form of disruptions of the European energy markets and in the subsequent distortions of our economies, of our living standards and of our social systems;

2. Last September, we didn’t expect the tragic and devastating Ukraine war caused by the Russian aggression. As we see it now, this rather strange war will be long and its consequences in all spheres of life enormous. The Ukrainians did not deserve it. I would add – in Poland somewhat politically incorrectly – that even ordinary Russians didn’t deserve it. Nor did the countries in the neighborhood – such as Poland and the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic and Poland are the first two countries in the world in terms of the number of Ukrainian refugees per capita. This fact is not widely known.

3. The governments and central banks in Western Europe and America have “invested” for more than a decade in inflation and finally succeeded in creating one. The last data for the Czech Republic (August 2022) indicate 17.5 %. It is the highest rate of inflation any living person in our country has ever experienced. As always, inflation is a great destroyer as well as a great redistributor. It will not be different this time. Its impact will change our future.

I fully support the message hidden in the title of this session: “the future begins today”. Not only that. In 2009, I wrote a book with the title “Where Tomorrow Begins”. It was published in several languages, even in Polish (it was in Wrocław, in 2011, under the title “Gdzie zaczyna się jutro”). My main argument was that our tomorrow started both a day before yesterday (which means still in the communist era) and a day of yesterday (in our transformation era). The future is also being formed today. Mentioning that, I wanted to remind us that we live in a continuum more than we assume or would like to. Not in separate or segregated moments.

As regards the second part of the title of this session, I don’t believe we are moving into the post-pandemic order. The world may be post-pandemic, but it will, undoubtedly, be post-democratic. That is worse. Covid may become less frequent and less dangerous as an illness, but covidism, a special way of looking at the world, a special illiberal ideology, which the Covid pandemic gave birth to, is here and is here to stay. Its protagonists understood that it gives them a powerful way to rule in a postdemocratic order and to control and mastermind us. In our part of the world we have been oversensitive to such attempts.

The unexpectedly quick and easy success of this ideology worldwide indicates that the ground for it was prepared in the West by the highly underestimated developments in the last decades. It was prepared by radical environmentalism, multiculturalism, transnationalism, aggressive genderism, human-rightism and similar stances. This way of thinking determines the contemporary world and its future more than we think. As a consequence of it, we would have entered the post-democratic era even without the pandemic, but Covid made it easier.

Our future does not seem to be very bright. The Germans have a saying “Optimismus ist Pflicht”, “optimismus je povinností” in Czech, in Polish, if I am not wrong, “Optymizm jest obowiązkowy”. I like this saying, this piece of old-fashioned wisdom, but we should be careful not to mix it up with naivety (and especially not with wishful thinking). Such a danger exists.

There are – as I suggested – not many reasons for optimism these days. Let’s accept that the future will be difficult and that it will be in many respects different and evidently worse than the relatively “golden era” of our first postcommunist decades. To talk about it and make us aware of it is one of the reasons to be here. Maybe the Polish perspective is different but many of my compatriots see it this way.


Václav Klaus, Plenary Session "The Future Begins Today: Shaping a Post-Pandemic Order", 31st Economic Forum in Karpacz, Poland, September 5, 2022

 

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PANE PREZIDENTE: Xaver se ptá a Václav Klaus odpovídá
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