The press-kit on Australian writer Gregory R. Copley from Simon & Schuster’s author-information website declares that he “has worked internationally at the highest levels of government advising on strategies to achieve economic and political success.” The same source identifies Copley as “the founder and editor of the Global Information System intelligence service used by governments, and the Defense & Foreign Affairs series of publications, including the Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook, hailed as ‘indispensable’ by President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor, William Clark; and author of thousands of articles, classified papers, speeches, and books on strategy, defense, and aviation.” In passing self-references Copley describes himself as a strategic thinker, not exclusively in the military or diplomatic spheres. Copley’s newest book, Un-Civilization: Urban Geopolitics in a Time of Chaos (2013), concerns itself with fundamental and perhaps terminal changes occurring globally, not only in the industrialized nations, which portend, in his diagnosis, the enormity summed up in the over-title. At the heart of Copley’s vision of the near-future lies the counter-intuitive event that he forecasts for the mid-Twenty-First Century – not the Malthusian catastrophe of runaway population and insufficient resource that various Cassandras from Paul R. Ehrlich to Albert A. Gore have profitably vouchsafed to connoisseurs of doom since the 1960s, but rather its opposite, a sudden steep population-decline linked to the desertion of the countryside and the morbid engrossment of the already hyperbolically distended megalopolitan centers.
Aggression must also have a price.
The Ukraine is one of those places that its conventional education encourages the West to ignore. As taught, history and politics can write off a region because it is tagged as “confusing”. All nations are complicated, therefore, that adjective reflects ignorance fed by an educational gap. The dim light cast by the press into the shadows we create confirms the tag of marginality. That explains why the coverage of a plane crash outweighs the end of an era that ushers in a globally perilous epoch.
The recent, the current, and probable future of the evolving story of the Ukraine makes the point. Actually, in taking up the issue, the writer feels relief because his background frees him from the suspicion of prejudice fed by knowing too much. Implied is the habit to dismiss voices that reflect detailed knowledge connected to ethnic roots. Most often, timely warnings come from those that have a “membership” in what is kept exotic and ignored. Remember the past’s, alas so numerous, “mourir pour Danzig?” Appropriate action in time would have saved millions. We like to repeat the history that we forget before we have noticed it, so that we can ignore unlearned lessons. One of these is that the solution prompted by cowardice or ignorance is the most dangerous alternative available to us.
If you think so, you need to reconsider.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.