Russia and Crimea: Have You Read Enough?

If you think so, you need to reconsider. 

Unidentified gunmen on patrol at Simferopol Airport in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, Feb. 28, 2014 (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)

The initial endeavor of newsmen is to “tell all”. Except when the gathering of information imperils the journalist’s life, that is the easy part. Alas, the bare facts get the public bored. By the time the crucial meaning pours in, the interest has ebbed.

Through its extensions, the Crimean crisis will haunt the future. Solutions through unconcern will not spare us the consequences. The fault is not Putin’s but of the comfort-spending politician. Past crises that got worse through neglect, reveal that the culture in which the bacteria multiplied has been a mixture of neglect and the illusion of immunity.

In the “crime of the Crimea”, the accusing finger does not point to Russia alone but it also identifies those that had encouragingly miss-reacted to the mischief.

About Russian Matters - Because Russia Matters

Past aggression is resolutely fought but the present’s cases are met with restraint.

Much that comments Russia’s Crimean adventure is self-serving. Some moves are made to act as excuses to (1) maintain the moral high ground while (2) a costly response can be avoided to aggression by the powerful. The comportment reveals that condemning past expansionism retroactively is easier than it is to confront contemporary imperial projects. Such as one that is backed by Russian might. And how about China? As a result, fact-denying distortions appear as expert opinions that excuse inaction. These pronouncements might disperse what sounds good for the moment  -but that they fail as supports of a stable world order.

An Alert Born Out of the Womb of Experience

Duly Noted

An aberration’s path from rejection to tolerance and then to approval.

Success, especially when inherited and not earned, stimulates arrogance. The so cursed think to be immune to the consequences of errors that they exclude from the realm of the possible. The number of those grows of those in modern societies that are convinced that, what ruined others, “could not happen” to them. Disasters are stored in the past of others; they can only happen on the “History Channel”. 

Such self-confidence spreads under a roof that is not made out what reality supplies. The delusion is constructed out of the amalgam of ignorance and conceit. Due to this  blind carelessness, the quality of public affairs is declining. True, dunces might fool themselves and they may convince the dim to follow. However, even if the trick is sold, reality will not be altered. Not deigning to look at the approaching freight train as you park for a picnic on the crossing, might make you feel confident. Even so, the felt delight will not avoid the eventual collision.

A Disobedience that Enrages “Europe”

Duly Noted

Find out why the operators of guided democracy begin to fear their peoples. 

Precarious is the existence of small countries because they are easily overlooked. Would we knowingly crush a worm crossing the sidewalk? Not seeing the little fellow, we take the step to terminate his existence. A paraphrase from the road to the world war comes to mind. Do not mind the “far and small” that we “know nothing about”.

A fair and thereby stable order, demands knowledge. That, in turn, requires that, as in this case, a distortion be understood and rectified. The following is penned in the knowledge that, if not realistically comprehended, small nations are easily bulldozed under by a world blinded by ignorance.

Crimea, Civilization And Geopolitics

It is not surprising that with every day that passes, the Ukrainian crisis and our relationship with Russia are becoming the mirror in which Westerners of different ideological persuasions see their own -often unconscious- convictions reflected. As I remarked in an earlier essay, especially the European right is uncomfortably divided on this issue, between those who regard Russia's preference for realpolitik and its national and cultural assertiveness as an example to be emulated and a healthy antidote to the aggressive idealism of the European Union; and those who, on the contrary, see in Putin's Russia nothing more than a revival of the Soviet Union, a collectivist and anti-Western country aligning itself with anti-Western powers and movements all over the world. Both views have something to recommend them, but at the same time an objective appraisal of the Ukrainian situation is hampered by the ideological misconceptions on which they are both based. A successful solution to the current escalating crisis, as well as a sound principle on which to base Western relations with Russia, can only be found if both groups manage to reconsider their viewpoints and reconcile the useful elements in both. 

Antisemitism Explained From An Objectivist Perspective

It is common knowledge --at least for part of the right-- that resentment of Israel is merely an extension of Western self-hatred.  We know that Israel is hated by the Arab world and many of the “have nots” of the postmodern age, because the fact that it is the only democracy and successful economy in the Middle East serves as a constant and unwelcome reminder to these countries that their problems cannot simply be blamed on the Western colonial legacy, and that, on the contrary, there is a fundamental flaw in their mentality and culture.  For the same reason, the leftist intelligentsia of the West hates Israel: for them, this country is the distillation of their concept of the West to its very essence: the ultimate and eternal oppressor, a fusion of the destructive racism and capitalism that according to them constitute the core of Western culture.  And needless to say, the Palestinians and other Arabs personify the eternal proletarian class of the oppressed. 


Simple questions might demand difficult answers.

This writer became politically aware when the fifties dawned. Condemned to live in the Hungarian cell of Socialism’s Soviet empire, the “why” was reoccurring in the conversation of the adults. Given the colonial status, the descent into poverty and the lost hopes for a new era after the Axis’ defeat, the phrase is understandable. 

There were things that no one could fathom. A bit later, Stalin’s death saved us, at the outset of the greatest of his purges.  When we waited with a bag under our pillow for our anticipated transport to liquidation, no one really understood. That “why” came not from wanting to know why those things were done to us. Much rather, no one could understand why “the Americans” would allow the system that marked us for extermination to push them around. Regardless of its brutality toward its subjects, to us the weaknesses of the USSR were obvious. 

Taleb, Mystery and Conservatism


Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a Greek Orthodox Christian from Lebanon; the Levant. In the course of his book Antifragile, he promotes skepticism, theism, tradition, the writings of the stoics and seeks to restrict the claims of theory and "naïve rationalism."

Elsewhere I have said that often theory seems to make us stupider than we would be without the theory. This is particularly true when theory says something is not possible. A key phrase Taleb appeals to is from Friedrich Nietzsche, hardly a defender of tradition or theism, “Just because something is unintelligible to you does not mean it is unintelligent.” Many traditions, such as those involving fasting may seem unintelligible to many but there can be reasons for thinking that they are intelligent.

One of the things I have found interesting about Taleb is the way he extends what I had in my own thinking thought of as ‘mystery’ to areas of human life I had not previously considered. My list of the ‘mysterious’ had included life: what is it, where did it come from and why; consciousness, morality and free will. Emotion too is mysterious because it is implicated in a proper existential attitude to the world and yet it is not fully intelligible. Emotion complements reason but by definition is not simply reason itself. Thus its workings and logic has to be intuited and felt rather than fully explicated.

The Revolt of the Masses


This installment of Duly Noted departs from the posting’s usual pattern. A seemingly small event has occurred that sheds light on what might be, a yet partially hidden, long-term trend of fundamental significance.

The venue of the deed is Switzerland. That country might be small but its unique political system –that operates one of the world’s most successful economies without having natural resources- has now produced a result that deserves the title of this writing. Here the reader should know that Switzerland practices direct democracy, which means that the people is called upon several times a year to vote directly over initiatives and to make the decisions of parliament and executive binding.  The result is that, matters about which even in advanced democratic countries the political class decides, are subject to the direct judgment of the citizenry.

New Tags for Old Problems

Duly Noted

Inventive labels do not heal what they cover up. 

Labels can change an object’s perceived meaning while the traits of the verbally recycled item remain unchanged. Through this process, the good is redone as bad, black may mute into white, and negatives are transformed into positives. 

 A classic case of overwriting reality is the terms “Fascism” and “National Socialism”. With the rise of the Nazis, their name that fused two deviations grew into a threat to the “International Socialists”. Outside of Russia, the “national’s” credentials were better than the “international” appendix of Socialism. It was the Comintern’s Dimitroff, which rescued the cause by using “Fascism” for the Kremlin’s competitors. Although the difference between National Socialism and Fascism is considerable, the Left’s fifth column made the term stick. With that, everything to the right of Stalin, is “Fascist” –especially the National Socialists. Even Tito, a Yugoslav Communist that sinned by resisting Moscow, became a “Fascist” –and a “Wall Street Hireling”.

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