Five Easy Steps to Totalitarianism

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was able to bestow limitless powers upon himself despite minimal enthusiasm of voters at home (51.5% voted for him) because he was helped by Turks living in Germany (with 63%, in some towns even as many as 76% voting for him). It seems those living in a democracy do not wish it upon those who stayed at home (source).

At around the same time, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban made a long speech about the Hungarian economy, admitting that it was not in the best of shapes (source), but offering a solution for commercial success – “ethnic homogeneity” (source).

If you are not sure how things come to such elections or such a speech, then let us take a look at events that are currently happening in Croatia and appear quite innocent, however…

Step 1: a business plan

Tourism represents around 20% of Croatian GDP (source). Before the start of the new tourist season, owners of hotels and hotel chains made a business plan and established that they could pay hotel chambermaids 12 Croatian kuna per hour (around 1.6 euros) (source), probably gross.

I doubt that these people are inherently evil and would start their business plan by robbing chambermaids of a decent wage, more likely they looked at prices in competitive countries, set their profit margins and started calculating. With chambermaids very low down on the list, there was very little left to give. And with the owners’ profit set in their minds, any increase in the chambermaids’ wages would psychologically mean eating into their own margins, so the jobs were advertised with the numbers they had calculated.

There was no response.

In previous years it was people from poor places in the interior of the country who worked at Croatian coastal resorts. Their wages clearly lower from year to year, when they reached 1.6 euros, they said “Nein, danke” and went off to work in Germany.

Croatian tourism is thus threatened with collapse.

Step 2: political support

In panic, business people turned to their mayors and other politicians. They tried to find a solution, horrified at what the world has come to, with nobody wanting to work for 1.6 euros an hour, how greedy people have become!

In their speeches and statements, politicians began appealing to people’s patriotism and took a moralizing stance with a slight disgust over how overindulged their fellow countrymen are.

I would like to point out here that not a single politician said to the hotel owners, “Hang on, is not 1.6 euros a little low?”

Step 3: solution, import

The issue is taken up by the media and social networks. Some continue expressing the moralistic stance of the politicians and hotel owners, while others try intensively to find a solution. And they find one – they could import Filipinos!

If you search the entire world you will sooner or later find someone who is prepared to work for the money offered.

Step 4: the business plan is implemented

For now this story ends at this point, but we can quite easily imagine its continuation; the Filipinos arrive, the business plan is rescued, profits as planned. Croats arriving at their own coastal resorts will get served in English or Filipino. They will become appalled about feeling like foreigners in their own country.

Croats who refused to work for such low wages and are working their guts out in Germany, follow the media and posts on social networks and join in on the outrage.

Step 5: political support

Politicians must listen to their people, so they too begin expressing dismay over the Filipinos. The one who will most vehemently promise to rid the country of this foreign work force will get the greatest support at elections and absolute dominance, if they add that only ethnically pure economies are successful.

Croats working abroad have already forgotten the reason they emigrated and only see foreigners in idyllic locations where they themselves should be, and at the same time even previously looked upon those who stayed back at home while they had left as morons and fools. They thus even more fervently vote for the politician who will ‘deal with’ the foreigners.

Reality

People don’t have a long attention span and we’re not created for being in touch with reality. Nobody will remember that it all started with a quite innocent business plan that first envisaged profit and only then calculated the costs.

If this profit is what you really want and at the same time wish for an ethnically pure economy, you need to hermetically seal the borders, lock the country and carry the key on a chain around you neck, forcing workers to work for 1.6 euros an hour because they have nowhere else to go. Just remember communist Albania, for example.

Or, we can return to Orban’s speech:

“We ourselves have to do the work required to keep our country going, from scrubbing toilets to nuclear science.”

One Comment

  1. Damijan

    People indeed have short memory – we hardly learn anything from history. It’s hard to understand why populist movements are able to get such massive support so quickly while free thinking individuals are unable to voice their opinion in unison.

    Off topic: I think it’s a little archaic to link to source next to citation. In web standard keyword should link to original source I guess. http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/02/03/citing_with_hyperlinks_academia_will_change_with_hypercitation.html

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