Wednesday, May 10, 2017

After more than a year of neglect as I posted on Opednews and thegreanvillepost, I'm planning to revert back to this blog as my principal site, hoping better access and a new alert system will encourage readers to support my work.  I plan to learn how to add pictures and generally make the site more inviting.

Unrelatedly, I am in Russia for three weeks, in pursuit of some of the thousands of Americans who live and work here, giving the lie to most of what is written about Russia in the MSM.  The very fact of their presence here is unknown, much less their numbers.  I'll eventually be able to ascertain whether this trend is in any way comparable to that which brought thousands of Americans to Paris after the Second World War -- or to the considerable expat community in today's Germany.

After three cold and rainy days, I can say one thing: foreigners who claim that Russians are dour don't get it;  Russians don't walk around with prosthetic smiles: they appear comforatble in their skins, apparently unaffected as yet by the incredibly vulgar television shows, serene, welcoming to the stranger.

On the night of the traditional May 9the parade that celebrates the end of World War II, the buildings opposite mine displayed a light show featuring burning tanks rolling across the screen, the country's official St George's ribbon, maligned by the new government in Ukraine, a large red star evoking the Soviet era and the numbers 1945.  The date would mean little to most contemporary Americans, but it is seared into the souls of every Russian, explaining why in his short address, President Putin reiterated with more determination than ever, that no one and no country would ever bring Russia to its knees.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Vladimir Putin: The Quiet Russian


The Russian Platform has posted a two and a half hour documentary http://youtu.be/ecEK6llcucA  put together by Rossiya 24 from footage accumulated since before the start of the Putin presidency.  With dozens of Putin collaborators carrying the narrative, it gives the lie to every US government attempt to paint the Russian President in its own image.
Accused of being an authoritarian (like Lee Kuan Yew, who turned the tiny island of Singapore into the country that is 11th internationally and first in Asia on the Human Development Index), at 48 he was asked to take over the presidency of the largest country in the world, which was on its knees. In the nine years since the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, the people had become tired and angry, seeing it raped by oligarchs protected by the world’s financial institutions. 
The Second Chechen war began when Putin was still Prime Minister under Boris Yeltsin, and the documentary shows him on a hastily improvised flight into the war zone, over which his handlers anguished. His message to the Russian commanders on the ground surely raised eyebrows.  Vodka glass held high, he told them that they would definitely drink to the fallen when the campaign was over. Then putting down the glass down without drinking, he announced: “Now it’s time to get to work.”
That was one of the many snapshots of Putin exercising authority, all equally balanced by evidence of his deep humanity.  His interactions with ordinary people — whom he generally encounters when they are distressed — demonstrate the caring that is faked by smooth Western politicians.
While his enemies routinely refer to him as ‘living on a different planet’ (Angela Merkel) or being difficult to read, this visual history as well as excerpts from a long interview recorded for television with a prime time Russian journalist reveal a man who appears to wear his heart on his sleeve while knowing exactly where he wants to take his country: to a better place. 
It’s clear from these takes that Putin’s authority emanates from his demonstrated competence starting at a young age. Not as tall as the average Russian, he stands in front of his taller pairs with quiet confidence. Nor is there the slightest hint of a Mussolini complex about him. Putin is the quintessential quiet man who, as one narrator remarked, wears his power like a cross, not a sword.  Quiet but not dour, on more than one occasion he is seen improvising humorous remarks at the mike, even singing unpretentiously. He is also seen condemning those he refers to ironically as his international ‘partners’. His hopes for relations with the West do not get in the way of a clear-eyed recognition of its rejection, whose reasons he contests. 
That Russians should have consistently given him an 80+ rating is easy to understand when we see him giving a judo lesson to a kid half his size. At first the boy fails to tumble him, but when he makes the move correctly, Putin allows himself to be taken down, gracefully, without the hype that would be forthcoming from a Western leader. He recognizes that his relations with the Russian people are in good part the result of having grown up in modest surroundings, while recognizing the ‘advantages’ of being born in a privileged environment. 
Scarcely into his first year as President, the submarine Kursk suffered an explosion with over a hundred sailors on board. Announcing the decision not to raise it personally to their families, he displayed equal parts of pain and quiet determination to succeed in making them understand that it would be useless.
His tenacity, whether in learning to play the piano, or conquering English, was already apparent when as a teenager, he went to the headquarters of the formidable KGB to tell them he wanted to work for them.  (They told him he needed a degree in law, which he got, telling his bosses on his first job that what they were planning to do would contravene a whole series of laws, both domestic and international.)  

Were President-elect Trump to see to it that this film is shown on prime time television, the alternative press would have a much easier job of fighting the Neo-cons plan to carve Russia up into so many obedient vassals.  It might even spark a revolution, giving the Beltway hacks something real to chew on.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Fidel in Moscow, 1964

Excerpted from “Cuba: A Diary of the Revolution:  Conversations with Fidel, Raul, Che and Celia Sanchez”, by Deena Stryker

January 24, 1964 
About a hundred people gathered on wooden chairs in the TV studio to hear Fidel report on his trip to the Soviet Union. At the door, ministers in their best olive garb greeted each other, chatting animatedly in small groups. Fidel stopped for several minutes to talk with President Dorticos as people stood to greet him, then he walked between the two rows of chairs as they applauded, arriving on the podium like a horse uncertain of whether he wanted to run.
A few minutes later, an aide went through the public asking if anyone could lend Fidel some paper. A young American woman married to an Italian technician offered her pad. Seated at the table in the middle of the podium, Fidel began to write diligently, indifferent to the fact that thousands of listeners had been watching Russian shorts for half an hour, waiting for him to come on the air. The movie theaters and clubs were closed, thus every Cuban could and was expected to be at the appointment with the “Lider Massimo.” Fidel wrote for about five minutes, while the ministers took their seats in the front row. Che wore his usual blue beret with the lone commanders’ star, instead of two on the lapels. There was also an Eric Von Stroheim look-alike. I asked my neighbors who he was. It was General Bray, who had fought in the Spanish Civil War and was an expert in guerrilla warfare. Fidel hired him in Mexico to train his troops for the 1956 invasion. Now, still dressed in olive green, he was retired from the Revolutionary Army.
As soon as Fidel began to speak, it became clear that he wasn’t his usual self. His face was shiny, and he often shook his head as if to dispel some discomfort. Either he hadn’t digested his dinner, or ten days of Russian food had got to him. He seemed desperate to be free of the camera. Halfway through the report he quoted a figure, then hesitated, obviously not knowing whether it was right, looking to one of the commanders seated among the public for confirmation. He spoke the same way as when he was huddled in the corner of a sofa, talking to one or two people. He would hesitate, look for the right words, doodle on the tablet, check to make sure he was following the plan. He’d stop in the middle of a sentence, letting it trail off, then land on the key word. There was no need for more except for the syntax. He’d scratch his head, taking the speaker as witness. Finally, during the last half hour, he seemed to revive, deciding he could speak a little longer. He’d already explained in detail the long-term sugar treaty with the Soviet Union and what it would mean for the Cuban economy. He didn’t say much about the Russian welcome, just a few short phrases, head down, in a soft voice. It might have looked as though he was trying to gloss over it, but perhaps some things are so obvious that to dwell upon them would betray their essence.
He began to talk about Panama, and obviously enjoyed making fun of the Americans. He said the situation was so clear that you could see right through American imperialism. You didn’t have to raise your voice; this was a dual you could fight from an armchair. The adversary was a mere skeleton. He said the Americans were trying to blame the Cubans for the events in Panama, but no one would believe that the Revolution, a child of five, could do more harm to a country like Panama, than the sixty year old grandaddy of American Imperialism. He said the counter-revolution was anachronistic, like a bathing suit from the 1880s.
“I remember yesterday, in the Tupolev, flying about fifty miles from the American coast. It was a clear morning, you could see Miami very well, and we were at the windows. Coming from a cold climate, so different from ours, we were eager to arrive in Cuba, to see the green, feel the sun and the warmth, and I was thinking about the people who had renounced all this and were condemned to live in an eternal winter, that of nature and of morality, because that place is a moral North Pole. I thought about them and about this whole business, and I thought: ‘You’re so wrong! But good luck in your misfortune.’” Then, adding: “That’s all I have to tell you,” and he rose and stepped down from the podium like a student who's been to the blackboard.
January 25 

I had dinner with Vallejo, who told me his version of the trip to Russia. It seems they played a lot, like kids on vacation, horsing around and competing with Nikita to see who was a better shot. “What vigor for a seventy-year old!” The Cubans were thrilled to discover the snow; they picnicked in the woods, with big fires. During Fidel’s first trip to Moscow, Nikita had pressed him to come in winter, and every so often, he would say to Vallejo: “What do you think? Should we go? It’ll be cold, won’t it? What do you say, shall we go?” And finally, they had enjoyed the cold, and Nikita had spent all his time with them. Last year, Fidel had said to me: “You’ll see what a fun guy Nikita is!” - as if he and I were common friends, bound to meet up some day. On the way back in the Tupolev, one of the commanders came out of the pilot’s cabin wearing a life jacket and yelling: “We’re going down!” There was a scramble to locate the life jackets under the seats.

The Big Eight


If you trace the figure eight you see that it goes first one way then the other, to ultimately return to its point of departure.  This seems to be what is happening to world politics as 2016 comes to a close.
Similarly to what happened a hundred years ago, socialism is unable to stand up to the world’s 1%.  In the 1930’s, the German 99% become so frustrated that it backed a populist who brought on World War II.  
At that time, Europe’s Jews were blamed for the misery of the working class. Today, Europe’s populists are trying to save their Christian communities from an overwhelming Muslim influence, while in the United States, they are accused of stoking hatred of Blacks and Latinos. Although outwardly, the two Atlantic communities appear very different, they are both facing the fact that Caucasians are an ever smaller minority on the world stage.
Today’s European populists are not carbon copies of Hitler and Mussolini, and whether or not they would turn out to be as disastrous, if they were elected remains to be seen. As for the US, during the past century, it has been in the world drivers’ seat. Now, a hundred years after entering World War I to make the world safe for ‘democracy’, it has gone from defeating fascism to combatting a broad swathe of ‘others’. 
During that time, similar to what happened after the first world war, the European left has been too weak and divided to gain lasting benefits for the working class. From the nineteen-sixties to roughly the year 2000, the European Union was a worker’s paradise, compared to conditions in the US. To remedy this dangerous state of affairs, Wall Street power was brought to bear on Europe’s leaders, who caved to neo-liberalism. 
Outgoing French President Francois Hollande is the poster child of this phenomenon: a dyed-in-the-wool socialist whose entire career was spent in the upper echelons of the party, he was no match for the European World Bank and the IMF. Since the left represents a significant share of France’s electorate, Hollande’s heinous support for US-led destruction of secular Syria, coming after his predecessor, Sarkozy’s Libyan initiative, was one of the last straws for his voters.
History never repeats itself exactly, and unlike the modern left, the twenty-first century right is different in significant ways from the traditional right which, in Europe, tacitly supported Hitler.  The Manifesto of the New European Right, drafted in the late nineties primarily by the French philosopher Alain de Benoist, is unknown in the US, whose Alt Right reflects a laborious recovery from a polity based on slavery, but very familiar to Vladimir Putin, which is one of the reasons why one European right-wing leader after another has recently come out in favor of better relations with Russia: aside from emphatically supporting traditional families the new right sees the neo-liberal cultural model as a major threat.
Religion has always featured prominently on the European right: Catholic France has long referred to itself as ‘the elder daughter of the Church’, while Germany, as well as most of the countries to its east, has been peacefully divided among Protestants and Catholics. In the me-era, however, Europeans deserted their churches, leaving religion as a hollowed out rear guard that merely refuses to bless modernity, as epitomized in same-sex marriage.
Concomitantly, as part of the neo-liberal onslaught, the European bureaucracy in Brussels, determined to regulate every aspect of daily life (and not just food labels), has moved ever further from the people who live those daily lives. Europeans currently have a lot of resentment — more, I believe, than do Americans — so that when France’s Marine Le Pen, or Viktor Orban in Hungary denounce the increasing numbers of refugees from the Muslim world, people listen, because that presence is in addition to a myriad of other problems that start with 10% unemployment for workers, and continues with increasing red-tape for small businesses, which Brussels appears unable - or unwilling — to remedy.
Italy, which has had 70 Prime Ministers since World War II has just rejected the parliamentary reform package proposed by its young and dynamic Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi in an attempt to achieve some measure of stability. It would have cut the upper house of parliament by two-thirds, with 95 members elected by Italy’s regional councils and five designated by the President. Although Renzi entertains excellent relations with Vladimir Putin, his voters decided the proposal to replace Italy’s free-for-all with a more authoritarian regime, would put too much power in his hands.
In a double-header Sunday, when Austrians went to the polls, the question qA whether the populist candidate tipped to win was a member of the New European Right, or a follower of the Neo-Nazi far right that has buttressed the coup government in neighboring Ukraine since 2014. Ultimately, the vote went to the Green candidate, but that only throws the question to France, which will elect a new president next May, with Marine Le Pen a serious contender.
What Le Pen, Orban and Farage are saying is that they would be better able to deal with their respective country’s problems without Brussels regulations and refugee quotas that do not take into account either each country’s ability to produce or to swap centuries of Christianity for multiculturalism, in which immigrants practicing an entirely different religion are expected to adopt the host country’s customs. The hopelessness of this enterprise is confirmed by the fact that historically, it has indeed been the other way around.  What is uncertain is how far they agree with New Right’s take on equality, that seeks to avoid strife:
The French New Right upholds the cause of peoples, because the right to difference is a principle which has significance only in terms of its generality. One is only justified in defending one’s difference from others if one is also able to defend the difference of others. This means, then, that the right to difference cannot be used to exclude others who are different. The French New Right upholds equally ethnic groups, languages, and regional cultures under the threat of extinction, as well as native religions. The French New Right supports peoples struggling against Western imperialism. 
As for the United States, economic priorities made us a nation with built-in inequality four centuries ago, and the Ku Klux Klan that supplies much of the Alt Right’s credo couldn’t be farther from Europe’s New Right philosophers. 
When Barack Obama was first elected, Europe was a relatively predictable place that tacitly recognized the US as the world hegemon. This year, Great Britain voted to leave the European Union, against the American president’s publicly stated wishes that confirm its role as the US Trojan Horse in Brussels. All but thumbing his nose at the lame duck president, Nigel Farage, the colorful leader of the UK Independence Party, (UKIP) made a victory tour that started with Donald Trump. 
The President-elect knows nothing about the European New Right, but he shares the Russian President’s worldview that cooperation is better than confrontation. Soon he will discover that Vladimir Putin’s domestic policies correspond to those of his religious voters: defense of the family, religion and tradition, which are also shared by Hoffer, Le Pen and the rest of the world’s right. Alas, it is unlikely that he could impose a New Right philosophy on the ‘Alt’, which stood for ‘old’ as in ‘staid’ before it became ‘alternative’ and ugly.

   

  

Europe’s Coming of Age



Yesterday the New York Times published a front page article on growing European opposition to the US hegemony that Washington thought was forever.  It has apparently taken the daily of record several months to realize that there is more to the growing new right movement than France’s Marine LePen or Germany’s Frauke Petry of ‘Alternative for Germany (AFD). In typical US media fashion, it says nothing about the philosophical underpinnings of the European New Right, leaving Americans to assume it is a carbon copy — or the inspiration for — the American Alt Right.  To appreciate the extent of the Times’ misleading, see my http://www.opednews.com/articles/Post-Modernism-and-the-Al-by-Deena-Stryker-Alternative_America_Anti-semitic_Conformity-160916-717.html then read on.


As someone who lived in both Eastern and Western Europe for half a lifetime, I’d long ago given up hope that Europe would ever grow up. In a book published in the nineteen eighties, I urged France to take the lead in weaning Europe away from the US and its Cold War that, had it turned hot, would have been fought on European soil. Francois Mitterand, President at the time, didn’t even want to see Germany reunited, much less welcome the countries of Eastern Europe into the EU (at that time still the European Economic Community). It pains me to say that regarding these countries that had never managed to be part of the ‘West’, Mitterand was right - although for the wrong reasons. Since becoming part of the EU, Eastern Europe has led the rejection of Muslim immigrants, partly, perhaps, because it had been occupied by the Ottoman Turks for several centuries — proud to have been a bulwark between Islam and Western Europe.

The situation to which the Times article merely alludes, is now is the following: Hungary, a country whose origins hark back to vaguely defined areas of Asia, has led the erection of new walls against Muslims, initiating the turn of the entire ‘continent’ (actually the Eurasian peninsula), toward Russia, which under Vladimir Putin, is inventing a new type of nationalism that is more left than right. (http://www.opednews.com/articles/Post-Modernism-and-the-Al-by-Deena-Stryker-Alternative_America_Anti-semitic_Conformity-160916-717.html  

A few months ago, after the US had twisted the EU’s arm to enact sanctions against Russia for ‘annexing Crimea’ and ‘invading Ukraine’, its monolithic adherence to ‘Atlanticism’ began to crack for the first time since World War II. French and Italian parliamentary delegations actually dared to visit Crimea, ascertaining that reattachment to Russia was indeed the will of the overwhelming majority, as expressed in a hastily organized referendum; but at the time, Europe’s ingrained obedience still dictated official policies, however much the sanctions hurt.

As Russia showed that it was a force to be reckoned with in Syria - and an ally that could be trusted by its legally elected president, Bashar al Assad, some rumblings could be heard off-the European stage: Europe should have its own army, and not be dependent on NATO (even as its military was obediently getting into formation for the drive up to Russia’s western borders). Finally, as 2016 draws to a close, the President of the European Commission, the highest body in the complicated EU edifice, Jean-Claude Junker (a former head of the tiny country of Luxembourg, where both French and German are spoken) has dared to say that Europe cannot survive without a strong relationship with Russia. As if on cue, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, has been making ever louder objections to Washington’s heavy handed policies in Europe, proclaiming loudly that the EU is no longer dependent on American foreign policy and should defend its own interests, moving ahead with its own army.  (BTW, the Times article neglects to link President-elect Trump’s attitude toward NATO to the movement developing in Europe.)

Interestingly, Junker’s latest words about Russia, claiming that it is not a ‘regional power’
as President Obama has called it condescendingly, contradict Vladimir Putin’s calls for a ‘multi-polar world whose poles would be the US, Russia, China and India, ending US hegemony. In today’s world, fraught with the danger of the second cold war turning hot, labels are no minor detail. In my 1989 book Une autre Europe, un autre Monde , which only a small academic house would publish, I pointed out, as the US was installing Pershing missiles in West Germany against the wishes of the European peace movement, that any war with the then Soviet Union would be fought on European — not American — soil. 

Twenty-five years later, although Europe is whole, that war could happen: not because Soviet tanks threaten to come rumbling across the European central plain, but because the US has positioned thousands of soldiers, tanks, and the latest smart weapons, precisely among Eastern European countries that have repeatedly served as the invasion corridor to Russia. NATO encourages the three tiny Baltic nations — about whom I will write in an upcoming post - to clamor relentlessly that they are in danger of being taken over again by their immense neighbor, while Russia, in reality, is busy strengthening its relations across the Eurasian ‘continent of giants’.  My book made the point that Europe had nothing to fear from the Soviet Union because it too, was among those several giants that constitute Eurasia, rather than the potential victim of one of them.

It has taken three decades for the Europeans to realize that their partnership with a giant across the ocean makes no sense, and start thinking about their role among equals. (A quick look at book titles about Russia and its president on amazon.fr shows that most of the titles appear to be pro-Russian, while such books are almost non-existent in the US. Nor are any of President Putin’s speeches published by US media.  ]

His end of year address to the Russian Federal Assembly can be found here in English:  http://en.kremlin.ru




Wednesday, November 23, 2016

s Authoritarianism Really a Bad Thing? (Nov 20)

I

In 1944, against a groundswell of concern for the democratic process, FDR ran and won a fourth presidential term, because Americans did not want an untried leader in the midst of two wars. (Unfortunately, Roosevelt died soon after that election, leaving President Truman to formulate the disastrous American policy toward the Soviet Union that brought us Cold Wars I and II.)

Today, FDR’s presidency would probably be considered ‘authoritarian’: he pretended not to see Japan preparing to attack Pearl Harbor, so that shocked Americans would finally be willing to declare war on both Japan and Germany. He is famous for packing the Supreme Court, and although they were milder than would have wanted the Progressive Movement, he wrung workers’ rights and protections out of Congress by signaling to his advisors “Make me do it.” He is still revered today, while one of the polities that ranks highest on key governance criteria is Singapore, a tiny, multi-ethnic country led by the same man for four decades. 

After achieving independence from Great Britain, Lee Kuan Yew moved Singapore’s Third World economy to First World affluence in a single generation. According to Wikileaks: “Lee Kuan Yew's emphasis on rapid economic growth, support for business entrepreneurship, and limitations on internal democracy shaped Singapore's policies for the next half-century. Freedom House ranks Singapore as "partly free” and The Economist ranks it as a "flawed democracy", however the ruling party gets 83 of 89 seats with 70% of the popular vote, while in the mid-eighties, Gallup reported Singaporeans’ confidence in the government and judicial system among the highest in the world.

Although Singapore ranks among the top countries for "order and security", "absence of corruption", and "effective criminal justice,” gatherings of five or more people require police permits, and protests may legally be held only at the Speakers' Corner. Yet, this multi-lingual (English, Chinese and Hindu), country is among the top internationally in education and government supported health care. Although the system can only be classified as authoritarian, there is absolutely zero chance that a US president will declare that its leader “has to go”.  That is because like Europe, it combines entre-preneurship with socialist citizen protections.

Today, ’authoritarianism’ is applied equally to the Saudi Arabian monarchy, where women are not allowed to drive, much less legislate, to China, where the Communist Party watches over the biggest ever economic miracle, and to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Interestingly, it was not applied to Dmitri Medvedev when he was President (Vladimir Putin serving as his Prime Minister).  Medvedev was referred to as ‘a man we can work with’ —and even as ’Our man in the Kremlin’.  At home, however, his ‘Atlanticist’, neo-liberal faction is referred to by Putin supporters, who cherish their social protections and believe the state should be in charge of a nation’s key sources of wealth, as a ‘fifth column’.

What was the state of Russia when Vladimir Putin succeeded Boris Yeltsin, America’s first ‘man in the Kremlin’?

Putin first won election in 2000, three months after Yeltsin’s resignation for ill health. At forty-eight, thanks to his steadfastness as a KGB officer, then as advisor on international affairs to the mayor of St Petersburg, as head of the KGB, then Prime Minister to Boris Yeltsin (a president famous for his drunken displays), Putin was his designated successor at a time when Russia was in a shambles.

Its crown jewels had been privatized at rock bottom prices to a group of men who became known as ‘the oligarchs’.  State employees weren’t getting their paychecks on time — if at all — and virtually nothing had been done to build a fair liberal —or social democratic — system ten years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  (When Vladimir Putin declared that this event had been a catastrophe, he was not, as the Western press implies, alluding to the demise of Communism, but to the terrible social conditions in which rabid privatization left most Russians.)  
Putin is invariably tagged as a ‘former KGB officer’ by US journalists, who conveniently forget that the first President Bush ran the CIA for a year. The truth is that the Russian president’s wide-ranging jobs prepared him well for the challenge of reviving the largest country in the world, home to 160 ethnic groups speaking some 100 languages and practicing four different religions, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Islam—(estimates for this latter ranging from 5 - 14%).

The Western media claims that President Putin’s 80%+ ratings reflect a herd mentality, the result of centuries of autocratic rule under the Mongols (four centuries), the Tsars and the Communist Party.  In reality, unbeknownst to most Americans, today’s Russians enjoy individualist lifestyles, vacations abroad and the latest cars.

For twenty centuries, the lure of Athenian democracy (in which only free males participated) increased in tandem with the power of Kings.  But applying democracy has proved ever more difficult as populations and threats grew larger. As he prepares to leave office after eight years of Republican refusal to cooperate with his laudable projects, I suspect President Obama, like most other Western heads of state, secretly envies Putin his ability to get things done. 

When I was in Cuba in 1964, Fidel Castro was being billed in the US as a dictator. I asked then president Osvaldo Dorticos whether or not he agreed that it was risky to have a ‘king’, since one could never know whether inherited leadership would be good or bad. (The outside world did not know that the Cuban government was already experimenting with various forms of local democracy.) Today around the world, ‘the people’ are still impotent to prevent worsening economic conditions — and even war, which first fills the coffers of arms makers, then of  industry, needed to rebuild what war has  destroyed.  Yet Raul Castro has overseen a transition toward a form of national participatory democracy, and Putin appears to be encouraging the same approach in Russia. Meanwhile, in the West it becomes increasingly difficult to affirm that free and fair elections guarantee efficient government or popular satisfaction.

In the complex 21st century world, peace and prosperity are probably best achieved when strong central governments jointly deal with global challenges, while participatory local governments oversee domestic affairs. (Iceland, a country so sparsely populated that almost everyone knows everyone else, is successfully applying this system.)

Although he has been elected ‘fair and square’, Donald Trump may not make  it into the White House, whence he, together with Putin and Xi could move toward a multi-polar world organized along those lines. Guided by ‘an invisible hand’, thousands of people protest the neo-fascist, misogynist, racist president who defeated his neo-fascist rival preparing for nuclear-war against Russia, and whose backers, unlike the protesters, have the means to once again implement the ‘ultimate solution’ against an American president.









An American Phase Transition (Nov. 13)



After four days of unprecedented demonstrations across cities in the United States, the motives poked and prodded no one knows how they could be end. Whether or not President-elect Donald Trump makes conciliatory remarks, as suggested on a Sunday talk-show, at this point we can usefully see these demonstrations as systemic phenomena, whose mechanisms I outline in A Taoist Politics: The Case for Sacredness:
"Since ancient Chinese times, feedback has been conceived as the opposites Yin/Yang growing out of each other. The Chinese knew instinctively that change occurs as a result of each element in a dyad acting upon the other, as many contemporary scientists recognize.
Today we know that energy flows into a system organize molecules, creating work. Lack of energy eventually results in a state of “equilibrium” or “entropy,” where ‘work’ cannot happen. Ideally, as the ancient Chinese intuited, the flow of energy through a system keeps it ‘just far enough’ from equilibrium to avoid entropy, or death, allowing ‘work’ to happen. But any number of factors can cause that flow to increase, creating runaway instability. While a certain amount of instability is necessary for work to happen, too much instability takes the system so ‘far from equilibrium’ that it eventually reaches a threshold known as a bifurcation point from which it “dissipates” into a new state."
The anti-Trump demonstrations can be seen as energy flows that increase instability, but what state will it dissipate into?
"Living systems are open to their environment, from which, via feedback, they receive matter and energy and into which they reject waste. They can, in theory go on forever. Very differently, non-living, or mechanical systems inevitably run down because they are separated from, or closed to their environment and its sources of energy. 
The components of political “systems” include human, geographic, historical and cultural elements. Currently most political systems are “closed,” in that ‘the many’ are largely kept outside the deliberations of ‘the few’. Dictatorship, which seeks to maintain a status quo (“equilibrium,”) indefinitely, ends when revolution opens the system to the many that have been kept outside."
The anti-Trump demonstrations are rocking a country that has always boasted of its smooth transitions of power — corresponding to the ideal state of ‘equilibrium’.  But once energy flows accelerate, they cannot be stopped. (The genie cannot be put back in the bottle.) In some instances they lead to revolutions, but even when they do not, they must run their course, and things will not be the same when they end.
"Francis Fukuyama notwithstanding, history will not be “over” until humanity is. To avoid self-inflicted extinction, we need to see history as an unending series of disruptions and bifurcations that will never achieve “it’,” however hard we try. We can only influence processes, knowing that there is no final point, no perfect world that we shall be able to sit back and enjoy once we have created it. Aside from the intolerable dullness of such an eventuality, it isn’t going to happen." 
Anti-Trump demonstrators are the result of two things: sociologically, a ‘me’ generation expectation that everything must be the way they want it to be at all times; but politically, and more importantly, they stem from ignorance of the fact that Hillary Clinton also represents a turn toward fascism, not for domestic reasons but because her foreign policy aim is war with Russia, seen as the first impediment to continued US hegemony (China being the second). Washington’s Democrats may be savoring this moment, but those on the street are oblivious to the fact that had Clinton been elected, protesters against her wars would be treated much more harshly than those who opposed the Vietnam War, by relentless spying and a militarized police.