Even though Putin has quieted on “tactical nukes”, he still has them, and he and his regime remain deeply untrustworthy. Caution seems appropriate. The true ends of the story needs must take place in Moscow and St. Petersburg and in the Kremlin, the FSB, and related criminal and defense circles. Russia has absolutely nothing to gain by way of its feudal-medieval and altogether piratical and politically criminal and retrograde “Imperial” fascist totalitarian revanche, its leader, and his regime.
#MaligNarc #TsarVladimirTheSmaller has, both “of course” and tragically (for our species) the power to destroy himself and the world with it, would that he would keep destroying himself, at which he is excelling, and leave the world to both more compassionate and rational actors.
At his command nonetheless: doomsday underwater systems, hypersonic missiles, stealthy submarines, and “tactical” nuclear warheads.
Living within reach of that destructive capability is not an option as it has long been a given, and while the concepts of “balanced power” and “mutually assured destruction” may allay some ambitions and impulses, we seem to be waking up close to “midnight” every day with this one most execrable (#PutinFullTonto) excuse for a human being in power.
On Archaic Beliefs and Systems
Good: Expanding, Harmonious, and Open Systems; Human and Technological Evolution; Greater Peace and Prosperity On the Bedrock of a Spacious Humanism and Predominant Global Security.
While the west approaches accepting some moderation in its policies associated with hedonism and related industries, there remains for consideration the darkest political ramifications associated with corruption, “dark money”, and “kompromat”. Most in and of the west remain deeply committed and steadfast in relation to the experience of freedom as reliant on an atmosphere in which we may live as authentic persons with our own agency, efficacy, ideas, and options, even naughty or tawdry 🙂 , within the realm (and boundaries) of the predominantly healthy and good.
The political hell of the Russian mafia state, greed-ridden and deeply hypocritical and mindlessly subject to the power of a heartless and vacuous lunatic, would have all of western freedom, law, and tradition choked by criminal intents, fraudulent political theater, and related force. Unfortunately, and it’s just my opinion, the west has been poisoned itself by KGB methods and related and equally unsightly and malign narcissism in cultural and political circles–as much would help explain the #GOPofGreed’s issues with authoritarian and reactionary bents.
It tires me to work up one more repeated reference section, but I will offer a short selection here, and with reference to my own citation, there’s plenty of additional reference on most BackChannels posts.
Alexander, Caesar, Pompey–how do they compare to Diogenes, Heraclitus, and Socrates? The philosophers saw the things of the world for what they are–that is they saw things in terms of their causes and their matter–and their command centers were autonomous. As for the others, look at the kinds of worries they had and how little freedom they had!
Aurelius, Marcus. Meditations: The Annotated Edition. Introduction by Robin Waterfield, Translator and Editor. New York: Basic Books, 2021.
No need for droning. Were one designing a modern “great books” program, one might do worse than start with Meditations for grounding.
Cause: Aid and Compensation for the harms and indignities imposed on those trapped within the Soviet-controlled German Democratic Republic and subject to enslavement and punishment at the hands of the state’s secret police, the Stasi (Ministerium für Staatsicherheit).
We mere humans just don’t own time. For atheists, time is just a fact of life.
We do, again, and each as representative of Homo Sapiens sapiens, and for better or worse, own our memories.
It has been our species’ great misfortune to find always some portion of our numbers made to suffer at the hands of others.
Forget “God, Nature, and the Universe”. The earthquake, hurricane, tsunami, and volcano would seem possessed of physics and entirely dispossessed of conscience except that some of us believe that in the presence of one or the other, divine providence destroyed our lives or saved them.
Degradation, dehumanization, enslavement, subjugation, subjection, and other such evils–those are different, and in the history of our species, one sees the chains and whips changing hands by turns, and, sigh, we may feel ourselves lucky if wielding the whip . . . but then nothing lasts beyond bearing except a number of nefarious processes that we perhaps have not wrestled sufficiently into the past. So here we may acknowledge that we don’t get to erase our bad memories; we don’t get to retrieve the dead; we may or may not have some revenge on our tormentors–and if it was ourselves that held the keys and snapped the whips, our day–we know it secretly–has come–or will.
I believe it in the tendency of our species to develop awareness, compassion, conscience, consciousness, empathy, greater integrity and reason, and at the end of every dastardly era, great human sensibility and wisdom.
I was asked not long ago to help promote the cause of the internally displaced in place of the once Soviet-controlled and Communist German Democratic Republic.
Imagine, if you will, going to sleep in one dismal but predictable awful cultural, legal, political, and social circumstance and waking the next day without a country–and afterward a “democratic open society of the west” that prides itself on compassion but hasn’t much in place for you–and then years later when it does . . . you’re no more important in it than you were in the other place.
Perhaps one’s personal circumstance has become more bearable , the powers that be more polite, and amends for the insufferable past made with good will whether or not sufficient to quells bad memories and the residuals in nightmares.
I have found in overview–remember my analytical discipline: collect, select, and opine–that East Germany’s internal migrants, all of whom went to sleep in one place in time and woke up in another entirely–have not been overlooked but perhaps underserved in the regions of cultural and economic development. In the Soviet way, they had been locked down in time, suffocated, surveilled, deprived of normal human political and social processes, and subject to deliberate state-driven control, diminishment, and, ultimately, erasure.
How would even the most benevolent of modern societies “compensate” for that experience?
Well . . . there is today the business of living well enough to create and enjoy better memories in freedom and with at least a modicum of privacy (although the “modern” appear to have some new horrors on the horizon, e.g., massive intrusion via data sifting) as well as dignity and security.
Now and then, I haul out Qualities of Living (QOLs) a conceptual alternative to thinking about power as an expression of grandiose narcissistic ambition with accompanying control and influence ascribed to a potentate absolute or constitutional. What if power were more often the power to bring extraordinary improvement to geopolitical space in the many dimensions to be appreciated by the inhabitants of a given space?
After 1990 “the whole software of life changed” for east Germans, says Markus Kerber, a bigwig at the interior ministry. Short-term pain was inevitable. Average labour productivity in the east was 30% of that in the west. Kohl’s decision to exchange Ostmarks at a 1:1 rate for Deutschmarks made swathes of firms uncompetitive overnight. Those that survived struggled with the western rules they had to import wholesale. By one estimate, 80% of east Germans at some point found themselves out of work.
Perhaps the Treuhand could have proceeded more gently, some argue today.
Cultural and economic adjustment, development, inclusion with some foresight and vision may turn out the key that will finally fix the past in the past where it needs to be. In this day, however, quite a number of cultures, groups, and just plain people have taken up the causes of yesterday, exhumed and tallied abuses, ranted high and low for justice, but the best all may do is not relive what’s gone and take pains–whatever it was–not to see it happen again.
In the 1970s the MfS changed its secret police activities and began increasingly to use “softer” methods. The GDR leadership did not want to compromise its attempts to gain international recognition: persecution and repression were to be concealed. The MfS now focused more on preventive surveillance and so-called “psychic demolition”. It used manipulation and targeted rumours in its attempts to systematically intimidate individuals or groups, to ruin their reputations, isolate or criminalize them. Friendships were destroyed, and professional careers ruined without the victims even realizing why.
However, the change in methods did not lead to any let-up in the repressive pressure exerted by the MfS. And the aim also remained the same: to prevent the development of non-conformist or dissident ideas and behaviour.
The rest of the group agreed that the destruction of trust was one of the most painful legacies of their experiences in the GDR. The dense informer network meant that everyone spied on one another. Many did not find out who had informed on them until decades later, when they requested their Stasi file.
So in the 1970s, the masterminds at Stasi School — formally known as the College of Legal Studies — decided on a new, more subtle tactic of repression, a way of stamping out rebellion without the overt use of force.
Instead of pounding their suspects into submission, they would send them mad. And so began the policy of Zersetzung.
The word meant disintegration or corrosion or decomposition. Today we would call it ‘gaslighting’ — playing with someone’s mind and self-worth until any resistance crumbles and he or she becomes either compliant or apathetic.
Six phases of postwar immigration to Germany can be distinguished (see table 2; see also Martin 1991; Münz and Ulrich 1993; Rudolph 1994; Seifert 1995). The first phase was dominated by the immigration of Germans: expellees, citizens of the GDR, other ethnic Germans
Born into poverty in pre-World War I Berlin, Mr. Mielke joined the Communist youth movement at age 15, and his career epitomized the grimness of Communist rule in East Germany, where assassination, kidnapping, execution, denunciation and intimidation were used to achieve and maintain power under the long, menacing shadow of the Soviet Union.
Mr. Mielke and the ministry for state security kept the 16.5 million people of East Germany obedient to Communism and repressed dissent for more than 30 years. Not only did the ministry pursue an effective campaign against those it regarded as enemies of the state, but its army of 90,000 agents and 260,000 informers finally turned East Germany into a country that spied on itself.
I don’t know, but both alone and in community we most naturally make ourselves comfortable and secure if, when, and where we can. “Living well” with agency, autonomy, dignity, efficacy, freedom, inclusion beats all of the alternatives, and living well with some thoughtful planning for ourselves, our own, and others . . . I would call that repair and profound improvement.
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.
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.
Notice how Locke’s empiricism dovetails with the political principles of natural rights and basic equality: because all people have eyes and ears and minds, and because we must check and consult with each other to find truth, the many, not just the few, are entitled to assert their own beliefs and contest others. Epistemic rights, like political rights, belong to all of us; empiricism is the duty of all of us. No exceptions for priests, princes, or partisans.
With America’s former “Fake News!” Fake President dooming Congressional members of the Republican Party into becoming IrrElephants, now seems just the time for reconsidering the character, history, and nature of what informed and modern humanity has come to call “Truth”.
The matter shouldn’t be that complex, but considering the long history of narcissistic conceits (why of course the sun revolves around the earth!) and wars involving irreconcilliable beliefs, cocksure wrong conclusions, and innumerable faiths, it should seem no wonder that for the pleasure of obtaining where all may a deeply responsible peace we have arrived in a lively conversation about empiricism and epistemology.
I have only started reading Rauch’s book but feel both the quote and note here worthy of play.
In the medieval mode, power lies and makes it truth; in the modern world, power had better tell the truth given the world’s yet free legions of high-integrity academics, consultants, judges, lawyers, researchers, and scholars. Lie to us, and we will find you out and bring about your humiliation in the minds of future generations. So here we know the lie told to the Palestinian refugees of 1948: “The Jews stole your land, and God wants you to win it back” — and it seems an old portion of Arab power has given the Palestinians that lie as something against which to bang their heads for decades.
From the Awesome Conversation
What mobs hear, believe, and repeat is different from what lawyers, judges, and scholars examine and come to know with overwhelming validity.
The civilized way of attenuating findings certain to make one side or another unhappy is to cooperate in a relocation chosen by those moving out and as good or better than present circumstance and altogether agreed permanent according to the will of those so relocated. No death, outrage, vandalism, or violence — just a disruptive but civil adjustment undertaken in a mutually respectful even if reluctant atmosphere.
You would rather create a sore, salt it, and drive a mob against both historical and inherited realities and superior — proven, experienced — defense and security forces.
Given the bent, about all Palestinian “advocates” can guaranty is greater and more widespread Palestinian anger and related harm.
So the Power That Lies–what is it to tell its people when the game’s up?
The answer is Copernican: “We were wrong. We could not see nought but ourselves and God, the universe, and the world before us fully admiring, approving, validating no matter what we did to ourselves, those taught to trust us most, and those we regarded as our enemies.”
I would not regard my fellow Jews as occupying the Center of the Universe either, but one may respect or at least value the co-evolutionary presence of the world’s diminishing pool of ethnolinguistic cultures, and then perhaps respect Arabs and Israelis and others most of all for overcoming themselves and broadening the reach of those principles most peaceful, pleasant, responsible, and, ultimately, universal.
Have I, you, and we not yet tired of having the same conversations over and over and over again on Facebook, especially those related to the Middle East Conflict?
The habitual finger pointing with invective — “Israel Apartheid!”; “Palestinian Terrorists!” — should be enough to motivate the big — and big-hearted — step backward for clarity. However, few wish to take that step, and for Palestinian voices, few may be allowed the latitude needed for other than the repetition of a long surreal political theater sustained by leadership greed and related structures plus sponsoring interests (in Moscow and Tehran and elsewhere) who have little authentic interest in Palestinian well-being.
From the Awesome Conversation
Israel is not apartheid and most Palestinians would fare well with a government — or governments — up to modern standards for decency and integrity in their handling of money and relationships and with a track toward modern democracy. The toe-the-line feudal practices before power — power that remains near absolute and politically repressive — benefits small circles.
Israeli medievalism, which has less impact on the working of the modern state, both preserves the Jewish character and identity of the state but may impede civil progress in other dimensions.
As a blogger, I have found “Medieval v Modern” thematic in relation to conflict worldwide, and the arrangements that drive that axis have most to do with money and its distribution, i.e., greed.
Business, or perhaps the result of having done some business, may look about the same worldwide — well, marvelously variegated but similarly posh — where sales, revenues, gentility, and cultural and industrial talent collide.
So how is that western conservatives complain so vociferously about Communism when, from the looks of things, the old Reds or their business and political associates, cronies, or neighbors have wrapped themselves in Gold?
The myth of the Communist has not held up but for the play of the wealthy in defending their gains from the confiscating and taxing powers of states that one way or the other needs must maintain their political and social equilibrium — and the way to that: wherever else in the worlds, the answer’s the same as in the United States of America: broad, complex, forward-thinking public-private compacts.
While Karl Marx may still be bandied and bashed about from Far Out Left and Far (White) Right circles, the world he may had in mind while writing has all but disappeared from contemporary view.
What remains: the feudal-medieval habits on the part of some insecure in their positions and helpless before greed.
What’s coming — or what should come?
Some New Humanism, I hope, with human continence, cooperation, development, generosity, and imagination, and for which Qualities of Living x Area-Squared start with better balance between economic allocations, resources, and populations. While the ruthless raise the roofs, literally and in ways becoming hopelessly outdated, one hopes the more humble and responsible among the powerful, or within the ranks of those with power, raise the floor for global health, well-being, and security.