So…. I was half listening to a Polish news channel going on about the latest government tango with the EU. The current Polish government is doing dumb, stupid and crooked stuff with the courts and the EU isn’t happy. They replied to the latest decision from a European institution, according to which the creation of a review board for courts doesn’t guarantee judicial independence, by saying the board isn’t part of the courts and so the EU objection is irrelevant.
That bit of double-talk was roiling around in my head for a while and I suddenly realized that the current Polish government act toward the EU very much the way Polish (and other Eastern bloc countries) acted toward the Soviet Union: Do the bare minimum possible to prevent direct intervention while constantly testing the boundaries of what they could get away with.
I have no idea why it took me so long to spot the parallel (which is similar to the way Orban’s Hungary treats the EU). Of course the Soviet Union was a dangerous military power with a proven track record of intervening militarily when countries under their heel went too far and the EU is an awkward and toothless bureaucracy that can barely articulate real policies beyond more ‘integration’ that no one wants. So in that way the parallel is ridiculous (maybe why I missed it so long).