Have we learned the lessons of the Iron Curtain?

6 min readOct 16, 2016
The Iron Curtain between Hungary and Austria

On a recent trip to Austria I was fortunate enough to visit a memorial to the Iron Curtain, hidden away in the forest behind Eisenberg an der Raab I was shown the remaining fence, watchtower and minefield that ran the length of the Iron Curtain. In the bottom right corner of Austria, the borders on Hungary and Slovenia buck up against what was the Eastern frontier of Western Europe, or the Western Frontier of the Soviet Bloc depending on your perspective. Alternately it’s fair to characterise it as the division between NATO members and Warsaw Pact signatories, regardless — it represents the division of humans according to political and economic ideology.

The barbed wire fence that ran from the Baltic to the Adriatic is a stark reminder of the horrors of artificial division, and here we are 27 years after it was torn down by those living in the Warsaw Pact countries, fed up at the restrictions imposed on them and the horrors of a collectivist economy that best served political elites in those countries and Moscow. It was the removal of the Iron Curtain between Hungary and Austria in 1989 that saw the first waves of migration to the West by families desperate to escape the tyranny of the communist leaderships in their home countries and seek a better life in the developed West. It’s important not to categorise this as the victory of one political ideology over another, for the real victory in the events on 1989–1991 is a human one. At that time the migrants were described as heroic and brave. How times change.

Isn’t it ironic then that today we hear Hungarian politicians proposing building fences with their Eastern neigbours to prevent the flow of migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan amongst others. In Calais we see British and French politicians colluding to put up a wall to stop the migrants. When I hear this I wonder, has anything been learnt from the lessons history teaches us? It would appear that the answer is clear. Walls, fences, boundaries and borders are an affront to humanity. Quite how Western countries can deliver advanced weapons systems destined to destroy homes in the Middle-East whilst refusing safe refuge for those whose homes are destroyed can only be explained by the distortion of facts dutifully carried out by the complicit mass-media. There are whole areas of the UK full of “Defence Manufacturers” — the whole local economy is dependent on the business of death, but of course the local media is full of praise for the creation of innovative and high-tech jobs. High-tech death.

It appears that we have become desensitised entirely to the plight of our fellow humans, migrants have been systematically portrayed as violent extremist sex-attackers or worse, terrorists hell-bent on destroying the Christian moral fabric of Europe. It’s a clever slight of hand because of course the horror stories bounced around the media resonate with fear and a tight camera angle on a small group of people makes the viewer believe that there are millions marching on Europe, ready to ransack the village halls and rape everyone’s daughters. Let’s ignore the fact that Europe is largely secular shall we?

An alternative line of attack is to portray migrants as benefit tourists seeking a cushy life on the generous social security payments available in European countries. Angela Merkel has even gone so far as to state that migrants will not receive benefits for 5 years after arriving in Germany. Again, this is a media slight-of-hand because in fact migrants are banned from working when they arrive in Western countries. I have first hand experience of political asylum-seekers from Zimbabwe in the UK — they escaped from the oppressive regime of Robert Mugabe, but the real oppression happened in the UK when the Home Office conspired to lose their passports (along with another 300,000)and they were then locked up in Yarlswood Detention Centre, a private detention centre run by the disgraced G4S (Group 4 Securicor) where there were serious and founded allegations of widespread inmate abuse and threatened with deportation. I personally visited them at the facility and whilst on the whole they were not mistreated they were completely stripped of all human dignity and treated as criminals by minimum-wage contract staff “just doing their jobs” — these people were respectively a qualified Lawyer and Teacher in their home countries. The trauma of the experience has left them wanting to return to Africa, albeit now dependent on blood-pressure tablets to stay alive. If you look closer in Western countries you’ll find millions upon millions of lazy uneducated white people using every trick in the book to receive benefits and not work — but I’ve yet to see a lazy economic migrant, for they are running businesses and building a better future for their offspring.

Could it be that decades of systematic de-skilling and the dumbing-down of education systems to create generations of workshy youngsters that refuse to engage and play a part in the economy except to act as parasites? Could it be that Western politicians are scared witless at the prospect of hungry, hard-working people with skills taking all the jobs? Certainly the anonymous testimony of a senior manager at London’s Heathrow airport would support this. I got a lift from, let’s call him Jim this summer after returning to the UK, it was the day after Brexit. I asked him what the staff morale was like, to which he answered that the staff were a bit down, because so many of them were migrants, but, he added; “in terms of operations the Airport has never been better, the migrants work hard and so a good job, if I spot that they’ve missed cleaning an area they’ll fix it right away, ten years ago the same request would have been met with an ‘I’ll do it later Guv’ and remain not done…”

It’s clear that Europe is in a bad way, the experiment of the single-currency is an unmitigated disaster that has created entire generations of young people with no future in Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy — whilst Germany sits pretty benefiting from the ability to export cheaply to the rest of the world through the mechanism of a cheap currency that masks the true economic strength that German industry really has. Yet it’s Germany playing economic policeman and bludgeoning Greeks for the failures of their banks. As the Germans would say “Verkehrte Welt” (Upside-down world).

I recently drove 5000+ kilometers from London to Tbilisi, on the way I observed the incredible amount of space where people could live. Vast areas of fields kept fallow by EU single-market policies. It’s obvious that Europe is not full-to-bursting… far from it. However it would appear that the propaganda has done a highly effective job of making one group of humans fear and hate another. How else can we explain the rise of Populist and Far-Right parties? We seem to be on the brink of Neofascism, and this time instead of Jews, Muslims are the target. It’s a real human tragedy unfolding in front of us, and the walls and fences are the most visible expression of the failure of Europe. Failure to create societies in which industry is rewarded, failure to conduct fair and reasonable foreign policies and failure to control the arms industries. If as much effort were put into renewable energies and recycling as is put into high-tech death every citizen in Europe would have solar panels on their roof and be driving an electric car, but instead they’re consuming nuclear power, wasting money on consumer goods from China and driving petrol and diesel cars. The opportunities to go a different way have been clear to see since the 1990s, yet no-one seems to have taken responsibility for charting that course, and as individuals Europeans have failed to make the choices needed to make a better life for everyone.

It’s sad to see, but the fences will be erected and the migrants further vilified… and the same mistakes will be repeated over again.




English. Lives in Tbilisi. Contributor to Renegade Inc. Loves channeling ideas and serving good coffee.