Method #1: detect and amplify any present national, racial, or religious suspicion into self-righteous anger and resentment — and crank it up;
Method #2: develop and deploy appropriate agitprop and agent provocateur — and for the Devil’s sake, don’t worry about anything having to do with ethics, ideals, principles, or values: in fact, dispense with the possession of conscience altogether and reduce all complexities — also, all cultural richness and intercultural relations to two essential dimensions: will and survival.
Method #3: Prepare the violence to come: arm convinced militia and move the same toward perceiving slights or promoting provocations, for either will serve the dual purposes necessary for the inhabiting of a renewed medieval world governed by feudal arrangements in support of “absolute power” (to be shared between political criminals and similar life forms).
Method #4: In hybrid, highbrow, and lowest manner, infiltrate target organizations and states for purpose of abetting their destabilization, perpetuating disinformation, and for ultimately exploiting legitimate business and labor for gain leveraged by bribery or extortion / reward for cooperation and threat for independence in either thought or action.
Centrist leaders across Europe hope the fallout from the “Ibiza scandal” will be felt beyond Austria in the European parliament elections this week, in which populist, nationalist and far-right parties have been forecast to make gains.
Strache’s apparent eagerness to embrace corruption is in stark contrast to the “drain the swamp” rhetoric populists routinely deploy in their attempts to portray politics as a battle by decent ordinary people against a venal elite. The FPÖ is a key member of an alliance of European nationalist parties led by Matteo Salvini of Italy’s League.
BackChannels has embedded with many posts the key word or phrase, “medieval v modern”, and that has worked for the editor, but what has emerged in Russia, Turkey, Hungary, and elsewhere also could be called a “Reactionary Conservatism” that fits with the anti-democratic and piratical renewal of feudal absolute power. Where such has succeeded, so far, the same has devolved into patently criminal cronyism.
NATO stepped up its game in Russia’s “Near Abroad” in response to the post-Soviet (and cynical) near destruction and depopulating of Syria; Russia’s invasion and annexation of the Crimea (and installation of another Moscow-sustained “Frozen Conflict”), and the dictatorship’s continued support for terrorism (for Afghanistan’s Taliban challengers to state authority; for Hezbollah, the global transnational crime operation); and for its “Active Measures” meddling in EU/NATO territory.
Generally speaking, The Bear has been a bullying, cowardly, and disingenuous force on the world’s stage, persistently authoritarian, underhanded, and totalitarian, and NATO has made itself popular to states wishing to be not so broadly . . . played.
Welcome to Cyprus
Fifteen years ago, NATO welcomed seven new members into the Alliance, expanding its borders eastward from the Baltic to Black Seas. As NATO reaches its seventieth birthday, it could now be time to look toward adding a new member: this time in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The end of the Cold War (Dec. 25, 1991) failed to sustain western-leaning government in Moscow. Yes, the Cold War was over; the habits of Russian paternal authoritarianism were not. With the ascent of Vladimir Putin to power, Moscow continued to act as a beacon of hope to dictatorships intent on remaining unfettered in their brutality, corruption, and criminality in relation to the ginning of their wealth.
NATO has stood fast against Putin’s rush to sink the world in a renewed feudal morass informed by vanity and absent of conscience, such being the nature of his own malignant narcissism.
Cyprus, of course, lists among the world’s frozen conflicts.
In Damon Wilson’s analysis for the Atlantic Council, the time seems ripe for unification: “Cyprus remains the only European Union member who is not even a member of the Alliance’s Partnership for Peace program, due entirely to the outstanding reunification problem. Immediate NATO membership for a reunified island, however, would automatically embed, and therefore replace, a joint Greek-Turkish-British security guarantee within an Alliance commitment to the entire island without any need for alternative mechanisms.”
Yes, but . . . .
Feudal Absolutism v Modern Democracy: Turkey’s Islamist Leader
Our minarets are our bayonets
Our domes are our helmets
Our mosques are our barracks
We will put a final end to ethnic segregation. No one can ever intimidate us.
If the skies and the ground were to open against us
If floods and volcanoes were to burst
We will not turn from our mission.
My reference is Islam.
If I am not able to speak of this
What is the use of living?
Cyprus would be more easily unified if the Turkish President were an authentic NATO leader. However, in BackChannel’s humble opinion, by apologizing for the downing of two Russian jets overflying Turkish airspace, Erdogan made himself part of Putin’s new feudal estate — the estate of post-Soviet dictatorships responding to Moscow.
Not so noble that New Nobility.
While pressure has been applied — okay, infant terrible, Russian S-400 Surface-to-Air missile defense or American F-35s — from whose jets do you intend defense of, say, your Islamic principles. . . or of Turkish Stream? — results, so far, appear indefinite.
Ah well, every family has a conflicted, selfish, and troubled member.
Perhaps the baggage is only getting in the way of the journey, for the Turkish government speaks in glowing terms of the state’s relationship with NATO: “Ever since our NATO membership in 1952, the North Atlantic Alliance has played a central role in Turkey’s security and contributed to its integration with the Euro-Atlantic community. Turkey, in return, has successfully assumed its responsibilities in defending the common values of the Alliance.”
There would seem to be some discrepancy between Turkish idealpolitik and its president’s realpolitik.
Another Neo-NATO President: Hungary’s Viktor Orban
Written into existence by James Kirchik:
Most of the international criticism directed at Hungary over the past nine years has focused on domestic indicators such as the rule of law, separation of powers and press freedom. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been remarkably blunt about his designs for Hungary, citing China, Russia and Turkey as models. After an election in April widely deemed free but not fair, he sounded a triumphal note, declaring that “the era of liberal democracy is over.”
The indicators of reversion to the feudal mode and its medieval blood-and-soil worldviews, including the idolatry associated with the “Great Leader” may be the same across afflicted states: the boast of a gloriously romantic history; contempt for and manipulation of the press, previously free and independent; renewal of anti-Semitic tropes accompanied by tolerance for Far White Right extremism (in Hungary, that would be Jobbik); transfer of powers to family and with it the growth of associated business alliances (open nepotism and cronyism); xenophobia; fear of George Soros 🙂 : the democratic state succumbs to the will of the President (for Life!) who then treats the assets of the same as if they were of his very own feudal estate — and so they become exactly that.
In every way, Orban’s illiberal Hungary — or the illiberal Orban’s captive state — fits with the renewal of — or renewed drowning in — feudalism in more than one or two NATO states..
Russia may not have need for plowing tanks into EU/NATO targets where “Active Measures” and the leveraging and seduction of deeply narcissistic state leaders may suffice for the perversion of NATO values — those supporting the democratic and liberal humanism that have been the hard fought and won treasures of western civilization — in targeted space. No sane child of the post-WWII west would think continuous conflict, political absolutism, and the wars of all against all the natural fate of western states, but that’s what has drawn near.
While NATO may be militarily on its game and strong, the system has shown its weakness in the egotism — the malignant narcissism — of several of its leaders (add another but lesser figure in Jeremy Corbyn, a perhaps unwitting son of Soviet Era cant and today’s piper of Far Out Left — and anti-Semitic — attitudes and beliefs — and then note his xenophobic complements occupying the British Far White Right).
May God smile on them all 😉 — but it is NATO that defends them, and if the same or similar come into power, then what would it be that NATO found itself actually defending?
From the deposing of old generals to the defeat of a pro-democracy coup, Erdogan’s story has unfolded and been met by the west even more slowly — but at least, finally, met.
What of others?
Nonetheless: Happy Birthday, NATO. May you and the full suite of pro-democracy institutions and moral entrepreneurs worldwide advocate for and defend authentic democracies, related responsive and responsible governance, and forever human dignity and freedom and the many good dream and rights given to mankind.
This ugly truth about us explains what has happened to Brett Kavanaugh. Initially he was hated for being a Republican nominee for the Supreme Court, but it is still not universally acceptable to abominate someone only for being an originalist judge.
“Originalist judge” may not well explain what the nation saw transpire last week.
Here is this blog’s editor’s take on that.
BackChannels believed Ford, and that he (Kavanaugh) lied because he had the power to deny everything negative about himself. As much may be part of an “ambitious” or malign narcissism, and as much fits with the personality and associates of the man who nominated him.
With Red or Blue Right / Left Flag navigation, political identity may force arguments rather than reason, and that emotion drives the demonizing of the other camp as well as the concept familiar to conflicts worldwide: “accusation in a mirror”. “Witch hunt!
The Left has no need to apologize for defending Blase Ford.
The Right has no need to wonder why professional advisement — all those lawyers! — against the confirmation were ignored and the process will be remembers as forced by the Republicans or blocked by the Democrats: for an answer, the power of identity and loyalty will do.
Different talks — same walk! When it comes to dictators, all are malignant narcissists.
Many want to keep repeating old arguments, especially, yawn, “communism v capitalism” but the truth is more like “sweet words — foul deeds”.
Add incitement, the role played by anti-Semitic cant and libel by despots through the ages.
In the eastern tradition too — I have in mind the Golden Horde — there appears to have been no difference in treatment between persons and property, and, in fact, for some (reference Richard Pipes books on Russian history) proof of sovereignty might be made to lie in the senseless destruction of either with impunity. And I would cite as another characteristic of the “authoritarian” breed the ability to visit suffering on others at will and with impunity.
On the street, they’re bullies; in office, presidents for life.
Trump’s support of Israel is about respect for tribal identification and the narcissism related to it. It matches Putin’s views of a renewed and sustained feudal world — a feudal modernity — featuring absolute authority, fated and unquestionable, placed in the future rather than left to history.
Accompanying that vision: a low-intensity war of re-conquest in Crimea, Ukraine and the tragic obscenity that has been made of Syria.
Most of us carry what we value of our pasts with us through life, but we try also to leave our futures open for good things to come.
These “malignarcs” (malignant narcissists), by comparison, wish to force the future forward into the past. Their personal visions — and behavior — have been dreadful, myopic, selfish as have been the habits, in lesser and greater measures, of caliphs, dictators, emperors, and feudal lords through time: for the mafia-type power and wealth, their methods, willful and thuggish, have been more known to history than those of democracy. However, our Mr. Trump has a powerful employer and a job defining his position, and whether he personally likes it or not, he is duty-bound to promote democracy — the systems of checked and distributed power — against the political absolutism known to dictators.
As has been my habit with BackChannels, the titles promise greater and lengthier articles while format and inclination keep the verbiage down to a paragraph bloc.
With the public focused on the air assault of “9/11” (see the gems placed in reference) and numerous “Allahu Abkar” attacks worldwide across many years, the patriotic reaction has permanently altered the west’s political and security societies — and yet we wish to defend authentic democracies against the potential for the rise of the Orwellian police state and with it, indeed, a “new nobility”, an invisible, unimpeachable, unquestionable (“military-industrial”) aristocracy.
Setting aside the Israeli story a moment, points of leverage may have involved the “Turkish Stream” energy project, a piece of “realpolitik”, and an appeal to the narcissistic concept of cultural leadership and state in which the “Great Leader” is the embodiment of the living state concept _and entitled_ to aggrandizement and glory without limit (or, clinically, “unlimited narcissistic supply). Putin’s vision appears to me to be that of the medieval world sustained with raw power put in place of democracy.
The look of the mode — big palaces, nepotism on a royal scale, confusion in relation to the boundaries of person and state (and the state’s treasury) — marks the medieval mind and related revanche.
Men like Putin, Assad, Khamenei, Erdogan, Orban may consider true popular democratic government as impeding their own authority, sovereignty, and will. While the term “autocrat” sounds quite bureaucratic, similar concepts — caliph, emperor, king, sultan — fit these guys.
Because we know of the “Moscow Apartment Bombings” and that Russia has been arming the Taliban in Afghanistan — and there’s more back there with Zawahiri and others — it may not be too far fetched to suggest that Moscow has manipulated terrorism to induce in struck targets a predictable patriotic new nationalism and that “the terrorists” — ISIS or PKK — now provide a platform for conflict, all against all, and without end. Where Putin has held sway, he has turned back history’s clock.
Our President Trump has had no issues bearing and wearing the mantle of authority, but it would be facile to say he hasn’t had some issues with the “Estates” of a matured democracy. In that regard, he may fit the world to which Putin has wished to return the world.
“For the global elite socialism is a tool to control the masses. Use government to provide enough stuff to keep passions in check. If a guy has an apartment, access to free porn and beer he likely won’t revolt. “
One becomes less interesting as well as pernicious with time and since when has the other been free?
It’s true that as a nation, we have loaded up on material comforts, which trade produces our economy, so good, and “adult pacification systems”, which may include the downers, uppers, and mellowing agents prescribed by physicians (I want the roll-eyes emoticon for just such phrases) or naughtily accessed by the over- and under-enthused (and generally so for good reasons).
I would argue that business and political global elite are neither capitalist nor socialist nor much of anything apart from immense egos that tend toward authoritarianism in their own right!
Carnegie essentially quit — and then made sure to attach his name to a nation’s libraries . . . .
For touring in political science and with some focus on the Russian civilizational experience, I would suggest strongly that dogma, ideology, and religion serve power by leveraging the enthusiasms of “masses” and mobs.
Free radicals 🙂 are perhaps not so welcomed . . . .
Note: I was surprised recently to find the term “liberal conservative” in Pipes’ history of the Russian Revolution, and were I alive then, that is where I would place not only myself but possibly most good willed and responsible Americans. There has been nothing wrong with making ourselves modestly comfortable and being apprised and attentive to the needs of others less well accommodated. Whether we should then lose our heads (a now interesting phrase) to serve a “global elite” at the expense of our “ethics, ideals, principles, and values” — and sentiments! — seems a fair question for asking.
The prompt from my conversational partner: “. . . to solve these problems, we need cooperation, not war. And the main question is why does the government not understand this?”
Paper, scissors, stone, and “paper” (money) covers and suffocates all beneath it while “liberating” those who have it and, perhaps (I don’t want to find out!), those who might believe themselves above it – or those of merely modest material ambitions.
My personal approach has been “Money Matters!” but is not everything; however, and this especially with our health care industry, there are forces producing polices I can’t field, and of course that inspires a yet impotent resentment.
Our government should be Christian, good-willed, and muscular (academic term “muscular Christianity” works in this regard), but it’s bending toward the criminals in the great mansions and penthouse suites, and I’ not talking about Bill Gates or most “plutocrats” but rather those who believe there are no boundaries between their perfect embodiment of the “isness” (I will find the word, literally) of their state and themselves. The businesses, the courts, the military and paramilitary elements, and legislatures are all theirs to exploit and manipulate on behalf of their preferred . . . associates. That’s dictatorship.
Let me see if I can find the word for existence as the authentic expression of spirit . . . .
“Esse” and “essence” were not what I was looking for but for an esoteric term having to do with the being of the thing within the thing. Believing in the singularity of person and state (as Ceausescu had; as Erdogan and Putin do) may comprise part of the messianic delusion suffered by dictators but unfortunately visited (with fist in the velvet glove, at best) on their subjected people.
I’m finding my reading of Russian history steeped in punitive control, and that doesn’t come with interest in “the masses” half so much as in the developing and sustaining of wealth beneficial to the image and power of the central figure in power.
Related, Recent, and Singular
On today’s Chinese and Russian totalitarian aggression in Global Information Space:
BackChannels maintains a brief bibliography of accessible and general volumes on Russia’s political history in the “Russian Section” of this blog. For greater insight into the authoritarian-patrimonial experience of the political culture from the 9th Century forward, I would recommend Richard Pipes’ fine history, Russia Under the Old Regime.
Punitive control: in geopolitical space and in the various ages of the “rule of the strong”, including for Russia and surrounds domination by the Mongols, the power to control space produces arrangements with in to produce wealth. Pipes’ — in the above cited volume — steps off with economic variance in the productivity of Russian land compared to soil fertility to the south to explain motivation for the social arrangements that would ensue in history and effect Russian political arrangements to this day. What Pipes appears to find essential — and what most concerns this blog — is the prince’s (or equivalent or greater in power) considering the ownership of property and persons the same thing. Worse — the test of sovereignty becomes the permit to engage in the wholesale destruction of both!