lundi 28 avril 2014

Julgeolek meie-vormis

Öeldakse, et MEIE võime end nüüd julgemalt tunda, sest Eesti pinnal on USA sõjaväeüksus. Mulle ei meeldi see enesekindel meie-vormis kõnelemine. MINA ei tunne end sugugi turvalisemalt kui enne nende ameerika poiste maabumist. Võibolla on muidki selliseid inimesi, kes meie-vormis rahvusliku hirmu või vaimustusega kaasa ei lähe.

mercredi 23 avril 2014

Toward a New Cold Civil War?

Both the First and Second World Wars have been called Western civil wars. What they were, in essence. The cold war was different: at least initially it was really a confrontation between different ideologies, between the liberal West and messianistic Communism, calling the «servile masses» to the «last fight». Of course, this internationalist-revolutionary battle cry little by little changed into a slogan hiding clear geopoltical aims and ambitions of the USSR, a country that had to realize it had to take over part of the role the former Russian Empire had played in the world. Still, it didn't completely renounce the aggressivity it had inherited from its revolutionary past. It happened only after the deal between Gorbatchev and the Western leaders in the eighties. Now, after a pause of about thirty years, a new cold war between Russia and the West is looming again. It's immediate cause is recent annexation of Crimea, formally a part of Ukraine, by Russia, and Russia's other aggressive steps toward its smaller neighbour. Here, by and large, the Western opinion seems to agree: Russia has returned to its Soviet past, becoming an expansionist power striving to reconquer its former sphere of influence. Naturally, this expansionism must be met with stiff resistance, the West must mobilize its resources to push the Russians back and show them such a behaviour is not acceptable.

However, there are some dissident voices in this choir of Russia-bashers. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former US ambassador in Moscow Jack Matlock and the CEO of the prestigious Stratfor Institute George Friedman consider Russian moves in Ukraine a reaction to Western moves, first of all the expansion of NATO, as gravely jeopardizing its security. In his book «The Next Hundred Years» Dr Friedman writes that Russia «will take actions that will appear to be aggressive but in fact are defensive. It will focus on recovering influence and control in the former Soviet Union, re-creating the system of buffers it once had.» This was written in 2009. In the same book, he explains his views more in detail:

«The Orange Revolution in Ukraine, from December 2004 to January 2005, was the moment when the post-Cold War world genuinely ended for Russia. The Russians saw the events in Ukraine as an attempt by the United States to draw Ukraine into NATO and thereby set the stage for Russian disintegration. Quite frankly, there was some truth to the Russian perception. If the West had succeeded in dominating Ukraine, Russia would have become indefensible. The southern border with Belarus, as well as the southwestern frontier of Russia, would have been wide open.»

He predicts too that the West will not accept this attempts by Russia to extend its zone of influence: «The United States -- and the countries within the old Soviet sphere -- will not want Russia to go too far.» This prediction has come true: the West has vigorously responded to the annexation of Crimea and other Russian steps in Ukraine. Mostly, this response has been demonstrative and symbolic. There are no signs of an imminent military confrontation between «East» and «West», but the cold war is gaining momentum. And, as always, the first victim in any cold or hot war is truth. In both Russia, and in the West, propagandistic discourse is taking over. Thus, it is very important to listen to other voices, to the dissidents as the analysts I mentioned. 

Now, I have some reason to include another authoritative person to this group of dissidents, namely the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In his recent speech. Mr. Blair considers the most grave threat to the Westas well as to Russia and China, i.e. to the (more or less) civilized and developed world, the creeping advance of the islamic extremism. He says «that Western leaders must "elevate the issue of religious extremism to the top of the agenda". And they must co-operate with other countries - "in particular, Russia and China" - regardless of "other differences".» to quote from the BBC's summary of his speech. We can see Mr Blair's speech as a warning to both Western and Russian leaders to put aside their differences, even the present grave crisis, not to engage in a new civil cold war, but find ways to counter the danger of obscurantist ideology gaining ground in many regions. We chould take this warning very seriously. In some aspects, the Islamic extremism is similar to Fascism and Communism. It is a militant ideology that strives to destroy the old world with its institutions and values and replace it with something that, for Europeans, belong to the dark ages. Unfortunately, this ideology is propagated by circles closely connected with ruling groups in some close allies of the West, as in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. For this reason, the West tends to be more or less silent about the grave abuses (and in some case, the virtual absence) of human rights in these and other islamic countries and the spread of the jihadist ideology in the Islamic and even non-Islamic World. This complacency, understandable in short perspective, can become disastrous in future. I think the West and Russia must find ways to reach an understanding. It is not impossible, and it is important. 

I'd like to add a link to a blog by M. K. Bhadrakumar, former ambassador of India i.a. in Moscow: 

mardi 8 avril 2014

Revolution against Human Nature

I have read that in Latvia, children in elementary school (or was it kindergarten) had to take part in an ideological masquerade : boys had to put on skirts and girls – pants. It was done to avoid what the authors of such an initiative think is to neutralize the influence of what they call gender stereotypes. In their view, human gender is a social construct...

In the past, revolutions were mostly revolutions against social order, more or less radical protest movements of the underprivileged against the privileged. Nowadays in the West we can see a different kind of revolutionary movements gaining momentum and in some cases even succeeding in overturning previous policies. These movements are directed less against the existing social order than against what is called human nature. This is a common feature of such initiatives as prohibition of prostitution, prohibition of slapping children, prohibition of death penalty, gender feminism with similar ideologies (e.g. queer theory), multi-culturalism, opposition against hard learning (learning by heart), even flirting. Such initiatives are often accepted by legislature, although most people oppose such ideas. A proof of the influence of well-organized activists who often do not belong to the underprivileged, but are strongly motivated by ideologies. Here, we have an analogy with Communists who, representing a minority, were still able to achieve their aims and establish a type of government according to their views. I sometimes wonder whether the activists who try to overturn many traditional attitudes, can overcome the resistance of the silent majority, the « dark masses » and introduce their (sometimes extremist) ideas into practice. In their own way, they too want to educate people, to create a new human being, free of old beliefs and prejudices, as once the Bolsheviks. But I am very sceptical about the results of such a revolution. The human nature they ignored or negated finally triumphed against the attempts to change it, it will probably triumph agains the gender and queer theories whether we like it or not. Still, I feel sorry about all the waste of human resources in such dubious experiments with us and our children.

Much of what is called modern art can also be explained as a kind of revolt against human nature, against our inborn aesthetic criteria, our inborn sense of beauty. In fact, this attitude to art is an attempt to overturn this sense of beauty, a protest movement against beauty. Of course, the ultramodernists consider beauty also a social construct that has to be deconstructed in order to create a new human being, a new world. Once Fyodor Dostoyevski said that beauty will save the world. Now, some people seem to believe that the world will be saved if we succeed in doing away with this conservative bourgeois thing called beauty. 

I  would add to this list of neo-Bolshevist initiatives the so-called political correctness we could call linguistic or discourse revolution. And, what is possibly the most dangerous development -- the Western masochism, the tendency to overlook and justify inhuman practices, despotism, religious bigotry, ideologies glorifying terror and violence with the pretext that all this is an expression of the third world revolt against Western imperialism and colonialism. This is a kind of masochism I find hard to accept: I don't feel guilty of what has happened in Africa, India or Indonesia before I was born.

The fact that there are more black people in prisons in the US is explained by the liberal left as a proof that the blacks are underprivileged and discriminated against. Perhaps. But how to explain the ratio of men and women in prisons in Western countries? E.g. in the prison of Funchal on Madeira there are about two hundred male and twenty female inmates. Does it mean that in Western societies, men are underprivileged and discriminated against?

lundi 7 avril 2014

Increasing Tensions, Increasing Security?

American fighter planes in our skies, NATO troops possibly stationed permanently in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania. Applauses. Politicians, journalists writing that now, under the NATO umbrella we can feel ourselves more secure, have nothing or less to fear from Russia.

I would like to say as eleven years ago said Joschka Fischer: «I am not convinced». More troops mean increased tensions. And in longer perspective, increasing tensions is most often not a good way to increase security.

mardi 1 avril 2014

Putin's Real Ideals

The assertion that Putin is trying to restore the USSR has become a cliché in many articles in Western Press. In fact, he is not. What Putin would like to return to is not the USSR but the Russian Empire. Probably not an empire with an Emperor, but definitely not a communist state. Putin seems to have little sympathy for the Communists or Bolsheviks. Partly because, in his opinion, they dismantled the old tzarist Empire. Perhaps is it not well known that Putin gave a speech on the tomb of general Anton Denikin, one of the main commanders of the anti-bolshevik White forces during the civil war in Russia between 1918 and 1920. Denikin's ashes were reburied in a church in Moscow together with the remains of a Russian philosopher Ivan Ilyin in 2005. In his speech Putin praised Denikin as a real Russian patriot, stressing general's firm belief in the unity and indivisibility of Russia. It is worth mentioning that one of Russia's best know cineasts, Nikita Mikhalkov whose views, in my opinion, quite well reflect the official ideology of the Kremlin, has made several nearly panegyric documentaries on the white generals Denikin, Kolchak and Wrangel. In the late movies by Mikhalkov, there is no sympathy for the Bolsheviks, and Stalin. As to Ilyin, his conservative views on Russia seem to have become a source of inspiration for Putin and his inner circle. Ilyin is a monarchist and Russian nationalist, but definitely not an advocate of irredentism or militarism. Ilyin sees Russia as a different civilization that must not become neither a pupil nor a teacher for other nations. At the same time, Ilyin advocates tolerance for other, non-Russian peoples living in the future Empire as well as for other nations. Of course, Ilyin was an outspoken opponent of Bolshevism. He has written a pathetic essay with the title «Soviet Union is not Russia». Perhaps this title too points to the real sympathies of President Putin and his entourage.

We will soon see whether Russia will resemble more to the Soviet Union or to the Russian Empire. I would definitely hope the latter will come true. But some ugly parallels between Mussolini's Italy and Putin's Russia, especially in the style of their propaganda, trouble me. It's not impossible that instead of becoming a real successor of the Russian Empire, Russia will become it's parody, reviving it's worst features as pogromist (nowadays it's less antisemitic than homophobic) mentality and aggressive religiosity with strong patriotic overtones.

To understand what Ilyin really thought and wrote about these topics I recommend to those who still read Russian his abovementioned article: 

Just one quote from it in original:

Ведь нужно быть законченным слепцом, чтобы воображать, будто советская оккупация или инфильтрация сделала Русское национальное государство чтимым или «популярным» в Финляндии, Эстонии, Латвии, Литве, Польше, Галиции, Австрии, Германии, Чехии, Венгрии, Румынии, Болгарии, Югославии, Албании и Греции; будто солдатские изнасилования женщин, чекистские аресты, увозы и казни, насаждение политического доносительства, избиения и расстрелы лидеров крестьянской и либеральной оппозиции в этих странах, пытки в тюрьмах, концлагеря, фальшивые голосования, а также преднамеренная повсеместная инфляция, все эти имущественные переделы, конфискации и социализации приветствуются этими несчастными народами, как «заря свободы» или как «истинная демократия», как «желанные дары» «великой России»... На самом же деле в этих странах сеется дьявольское семя и растет ненависть к национальной России.
Мировое общественное мнение доселе не научилось отличать советское государство от национальной России и интернационально-коммунистическое правительство от замучиваемого им русского народа. Все творимое Советами вписывается в воображаемый кондуит России; все «художества» и «качества» Советской власти приписываются ей; и против нее накапливается все негодование других народов. Ея неповинное имя клянут на стогнах всего мира; ее воспринимают ныне, как вселенскую язву; от нее ждут бесчисленных бед и страданий, третьей мировой войны и революционных преобразований.
Мы, русские патриоты, скорбим об этом вот уже тридцать лет, разоблачая повсюду эту ошибку и восстанавливая правду: советское государство не есть национальная Россия. А советские патриоты знают эту правду не хуже нас, видят истинное положение вещей и становятся на сторону Советов, помогая им компрометировать, насиловать и губить национальную Россию.