The gap between any nation’s stability and the onset of substantial instability might be, oh, three seconds: “You are under arrest”; “We are detaining you”; “Please come with us.”
Add the boots, troops, and guns.
What is power in a weak state?
Evidently, power is the power to cut communications, detain officials, including the head of state, and kill protesters with impunity.
In Khartoum’s twin city Omdurman, security forces stormed the state radio and television headquarters and detained a number of employees, following which the state TV had been reportedly playing patriotic songs and showing images of the Nile. Internet connectivity has been suspended.
Whoever or whatever it was — or remains — if it was evil, we should collectively appreciate its import, ameliorate its damage, if comparatively recent, and pack it away not to be repeated if the semblance of the same may be prevented or damped.
As lies are told to hide something or to get something, those who counsel the excising of history — erasure of the past, in essence — would seem most of all ashamed of themselves and sensitive to their own hidden predilections for control and conquest. Only the pulling down of the despot’s statue at the time of the revolution proves liberating and signal of liberation. Yanking old generals off their pedestals? That’s something else.
Of course, everyone enjoys the money! So better here in America — or with an American, albeit not a very good one as stood beside American ideals and rule of law — than elsewhere and someone else. I’ve been shrugging away these themes for a while for being too large for any one person to address and seek to ameliorate. Those involved are the wealthy of the world, and no matter how they made their money, they’re powerful. 😦
Narcissistic leaders want to create, sustain, and leave for prosperity their own great image; they also want to remain in power without price, and for that, some, as dictators do, become as if forces of nature, heartless, unstoppable, ruthless.
Associated with the Conversation
We had been chatyping about DJT, the inferential references to corruption, money laundering, and Russian connections came to mind, so one look-see on the web and a five minutes later I had a starting overview on that subject, which is here listed below (with additions).
True take: free-wheeling American real estate business rides on ambition, caveat emptor, and wealth with the freedom of the seller’s not having to look too closely at The Money, which is in the end and for everyone involved and beyond . . . just money — but oh such a lot of money!
Call corruption the “Cancer of States” and consider that behind “dirty money”, however laundered, lays not only the wreckage of families, government, and lives but an intense leveraging of business and political power. The term “too big to fail” comes to mind, for the measurement of occult wealth, i.e., the contribution of illegal (at worst) and questionable (at best) “fund raising” seems to me an issue avoided by power itself, not that the subject has gone unnoticed.
The informal economy, also known as the underground economy or the black market, makes up a significant portion of the overall economy. It is estimated to be as much as 36 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of developing nations and 13 percent of developed countries’ GDP.1 However, as an article by Economist Paulina Restrepo-Echavarria in The Regional Economist points out, measuring the informal economy is quite difficult.
For probably all the right ambitious, emotional, and practical reasons, most may shrug off the little bit of grease and leaning — the gifts, the open arms, the warm handshakes; the aggressive marketing or “salesmanship” that nudges with a little bit of caution — that gets business done while facilitating access to new opportunities and relationships — but with too much of the same, the bodies, destroyed businesses and careers, and ruined lives show up visibly everywhere, and that little bit of smarmy activity becomes a tangled and suffocating web.
The matter of observing and measuring atrocious, ruthless, and vicious business behavior and its behavioral, economic, and social effects on societies not accustomed to their own dumb and hapless enslavement through malicious handling would seem another matter, and most certainly a matter of keen interest to economists, ethicists, and the public at large. With that in mind, one might suggest that Moscow’s “Mafia State” and Trump’s egregious approach to those apparently not fit to shine his shoes has set off for general rule the presence of some global and criminal or near-criminal nobility far above the constitutions, interests, and laws of states and their constituencies.
While the Russian mafia is a favorite antagonist of Hollywood screenwriters, it is thought to be all-but-defunct in reality. After all, when was the last time anybody in the U.S. heard about major Russian mafia activity?
The criminal underworld is thriving like never before in Europe. The individuals and groups are not random; they are highly organized, well-funded and responsible for rising levels of cyberterrorism, money laundering and murder. Fortune Magazinelists the Solntsevskaya Bratva, alternately known as the Russian mafia, as the largest organized crime group in the world and it ranks above both the Japanese Yakuza and the Mexican Sinaloa cartel in terms of overall revenue. More interesting than its current standing is how it achieved its status. From a culture that encouraged crime to a government that aided and abetted it, the Russian Federation has become a hotbed for a growing criminal underworld.
While the Modern West most certainly appears to be at war with feudal-medieval, narcissistic, and totalitarian forces and tendencies worldwide, there seems a part in which the Modern face off with the Modern over the management of corruption and greed. This note From the Awesome Conversation may be accompanied by a minimum of inline or separate references, but I do believe each claim or implication easily substantiated with a little bit of online research effort on the reader’s part.
From the Awesome Conversation (Now Growing Old as I Grow Old) 🙂
Inline URLs have been added to the original plain text.
Moscow’s “Absolutism”, “Active Measures”, “Hybrid Warfare”, and Medieval “Realpolitik” have been somewhat proven against EU/NATO, which by “Reflexive Control” (see “Business Insider, Zawahiri, Russia“) has itself been pushed toward the “New Nationalism” with Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Turkey motivated most of all to march forward into the feudal-medieval past.
Add the arc of Soviet / post-Soviet alliances x Areas of Control x Regions of Influence, and one may glimpse the persistently barbaric and feudal world Moscow has in mind for the global future.
Not only Zawahiri but Jeffrey Epstein as well had Moscow stays in Russia], and the medieval emphasis on “kompromat” — and potential public embarrassment — may have come through most clearly during the Trump Administration (and Trump especially had relationships involving criminal elements and substantial sums of Russian money — start with Craig Unger on all of that).
From the Awesome Conversation, A Note Placed with the Rationalist Society of Pakistan (Facebook)
Because there is no compulsion (is there?), the modern secular guaranty is a roof beneath which all faiths and religious practices may be engaged by choice peacefully and securely.
By the numbers, our planet supports fewer than 7,000 living language cultures and approximately 4,200 separable religions and related sects.
For the blood thirsty, religion may be regarded as a gift, for wars related to creed or dogma favored by one powerful house or another (x clan, family, or tribe or by caliphate, kingdom, or empire) tend to be the least resolvable drivers of wars: nothing has ever been proved or disproved by them. For the most part, the employment of religious rhetoric by the powerful traces most of all to the want of personal aggrandizement and the presence of messianic ambition, and limitless greed.
Today’s post-Reformation Europe supports a dozen historical monarchies, all but two of them constitutional monarchies tempered by empowered and popularly elected legislatures and courts independent of churches once regarded as all powerful (there are no compassionate, democratic, humanist, or liberal theocracies. All theocracies remain deeply medieval, primitive, and suffocating, and especially so where subscription (loyalty with payment extracted) has been compelled.
One Earth and Our Own Little Worlds
The Taliban, among other of the world’s absolutists, scolds, and scourges will learn, whether they like it or not, that modern complexity in financing and trade demands ever higher levels of human cooperation and integration across cultural, economic, and geopolitical boundaries. The lone ancient bureaucrat with his snicker and his hand out for the bribe that lifts the gate he guards has now the power befitting make-believe trolls. Really getting things done — big things: accession to favorable security organizations; extensive infrastructure creation, re-engineering, and repair (after war, especially, but obsolescence over time demands the same regenerative efforts everywhere), ports, transnational communications — require good relationships with a whole world. Otherwise — and examples are numerous (start with Zimbabwe and work backward through the world’s dictatorships) — one’s people may be reduced to eating dust and worms.
For those with the full spread on a table in a palace, where’s the worry?
Today’s responsible government needs must become a partner in the achievement of modern standards contributing to its own prosperity and stability — or the same may choose to remain heavily guarded in its keep and otherwise a vulgar backwater demeaned and reviled worldwide.
Political leaders may have today the puzzle of perpetuating the strength of their own cultures and families and related self-concepts while participating in the development of complex global diplomatic and legal systems bearing on the practical business and technology systems intended to secure a global tomorrow in which the earth and all her cargo may thrive.
Qualities of Living — The State of the State
War is easy.
It is living — and managing for the living — that has become challenging.
I believe for avarice, greed, and vanity, failed and failing states — generally absolute power systems that grind against their own constituents as well as the grain of humanity as well as decaying societies either disinterested in or incapable of damping the rise of their own fascistic elements — fail across measurable dimensions. Absolute and corrupt or decadent powers have despoiled their own environments and societies mightily in the cause of their own glorification. The same have produced a barbarism wondrous to behold and often beyond the bounds of any collective natural or normal human tolerance.
As I’ve written about Qualities of Living (QOLs) before and may come to dwell on the same as a principle for global political, practical, and spiritual competition — who would live best x conditions x population x area-squared? — I’ll reprint here the outline from August 25 this year –>
QOL: Qualities of Living
Biological: Environmental and Human Health
Financial: Actualizing, Beyond Basic, Individual and Family Sufficiency
Psychological: Dignifying with High Degrees of Freedom, Positive Outlook, Potential for Fulfillment, Good Self-Concept, Reliable Community and Personal Security
Spatial: Bases and Boundaries x Person x Family x Clan x Tribe x Nation x Ethnic x Transnational Cultures / Defenses and Retreats
Spiritual: Broad Awareness, Consciousness, Conscience x Comprehension of Community and Personal Place in Time
We may each have our separable dreams — but why not with clean air and water and good soil while in pursuit of contentment, place, and security?
Universally: may we and will we do that much for one another without reference to cultural or political identification and location?
Why not while we dream our dreams do so within the bounds of secured community and personal spaces?
Why not for each person with futures dreamed that may be in part accomplished, comfortable,and enlivening set and sustain the stage for positive accomplishment?
Accentuate Good; Diminish Evil
How good may we be across our species’ one biological platform: Earth?
And how rotten?
The Taliban in pursuit of absolute obedience has made a great to-do of burqa and hijab . . . but are not the virtues desired actually modesty and piety?
As an American of Jewish descent, I would not (yet, though sorely tempted) think of myself as an atheist: I am neither that brave nor cocksure. I would however suggest as virtues worthy of individual consideration and contemplation of possession without religious reference, the following: compassion; courage, empathy; fairness; foresight; fortitude, integrity; patience; temperance.
Worthy of appreciation and occasional experience but better served by diminishment over time: avarice; dishonesty; gluttony; greed; hubris; hypocrisy.
Put another way (more parallel and less awkward): have we — or just our solitary selves — compassion, courage, empathy, fairness, foresight, fortitude, integrity, and patience in all we do with ourselves and with others?
And if and when less noble and we find ourselves avaricious, controlling, corrupt, criminal, dishonest, fanatical, gluttonous, greedy, full of hubris, and hypocritical, should we not wish to have been by character and ethical and moral quality better?
One may ask what may be the balance within as well as politically and socially, for it may be that balance — that mixture in personal and communal or tribal character — that becomes the atmosphere in which we choose to reside or may be doomed to wander.
Hamlet had in part the experience of the medieval world, a most treacherous political and social space in time. Well, here is our still early 21st Century, and we may ask whether life must be or should be as horrifying as it may have been then.
Whether in Moscow or in Washington (or Beijing) – the three almost Orwellian anchoring points in global security — Big Defense and related “protection” rackets gin up a lot money, the perception of threat driving economies and societies in part or whole, but here one may wonder what if the world’s more apprehending, forward-looking, and good natured souls simply moved to address greater global challenges, leaving the dictators, extremists, hotheads, and malignant narcissists (“MaligNarcs” here) to wallow around a while longer in their own fantasies while they themselves become further displaced by time.
True scope: East-West Rivalry; Moscow v Washington; Political Absolutism – i.e., the power of the sovereign to destroy property and persons alike with impunity – v Democratic Distribution of Power & Rule of Law. Flies in the ointment: black markets; corruption; guerrilla wars; low intensity conflicts; wars by proxy.
For fair good reason, the nuclear powers seldom directly confront one another. Financial and political arrangements and families have become deeply entangled above the table and below it, and there’s not much we ordinary people can do about it but ride out the storms with awareness that ultimately the modern world, as we would know it, is well at war with feudal-medieval power as well as barbaric and primitive forces in nature expressed through history.
And the Taliban?
The Taliban are already failing Afghanistan, and Afghanistan, by way of our investment and presence across 20 years, has now to choose for itself — out of sight but in the hearts of Afghans and through resistance — what it wishes to be.
One may hope the warlords and others have no wish to become or remain themselves irrecoverably backward.
We shall have to wait and see whether the “New Improved Taliban” step up to the challenge of undertaking an empirical investigation using modern forensic methods amidst popular challenge. What integrity will they put on display; with what broad acceptance and trust may their findings be met? So we shall see.
Here’s another telltale with fear in the wind —
Looking pale and shattered having already suffered a beating at the hands of Taliban thugs, Gulafroz spoke in English, saying: ‘I was one of the very senior policewomen in Afghanistan.
‘I did everything to encourage women into the police, against the wishes of the Taliban. Now my life is in danger. Real danger.
For its part, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement that “the insurgents (had) spread fear” in Conakry before taking the direction of the presidential palace, but that “the presidential guard, supported by the defense and security forces, loyalists and republicans, have contained the threat and pushed back the group of attackers.