President Václav Klaus, one of my favourite European heads of state, was recently interviewed by the Hoover Institution. In this segment, he lays out some of his criticisms of the EU. Having grown up in Communist Czechoslovakia, President Klaus remembers well the days when the Czech people were not sovereign and where Moscow dictated the destiny of his nation. For him, certain aspects of European integration bring back many unpleasant memories of Communism. However, given the situation where ever other European country had ratified the Treaty of Lisbon, he had no choice but to ratify it, especially after the Constitutional Court ruled in the treaty’s favour.
The full interview is in five segments, but I found this part especially fascinating. Here, President Klaus details how he became a free-market economist. While is more of the Chicago school persuasion than of the Austrian school persuasion, he nevertheless was greatly influenced by Friedrich von Hayek. He was also influenced by Milton Friedman and other Chicago school economists. It is somewhat remarkable that he was able to get access to any of these texts at all, given that the Czech Republic was a Communist nation at the time and Marxist economics prevailed.
President Klaus is a very controversial figure in his home country and in the rest of Europe. He is not only a euroskeptic, but a skeptic of global warming and is also very critical of the welfare state. Much like National Review in the early days, he is, in the words of William F. Buckley, Jr., “trying to stand athwart history yelling stop!”