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Old Year/New Year

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas celebration, hopefully in the company of loved ones.

In today's Washington Post, the always-worth-reading Anne Applebaum has a piece on global challenges that will continue to press on us in the New Year:

Russia and China do not coordinate these actions, and there isn’t much love lost between them, either. But the elites of both of these countries do have one thing in common: They dislike the institutions of liberal democracy as practiced in Europe, the United States, Japan and elsewhere, and they are determined to prevent them from spreading to Moscow or Beijing. These same elites believe that Western media, Western ideas and especially Western capitalism — as opposed to state capitalism — pose a threat to their personal domination of their economies. They want the world to remain safe for their particular form of authoritarian oligarchy, and they are increasingly prepared to pay a high price for it.

The rest is here.

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Oh, my. Back to reality after Christmas. Yes, Applebaum is always worth reading. As something of a counterweight however, check the last 2013 Economist, if you have a copy, and read the article on the Ukraine, the gist of which is that the Ukrainian government managed to diddle Putin into giving them a bargain price on natural gas, without even making a deal with the EU before hand, and suggesting that Putin will come to regret his hastiness.

But happy new year anyway, Vladimir. (If the deal really does start to stink after a while, maybe we can refer to you as Vlad the Inhaler.)

Hmmm..Chinese and Russian oligarchy:

 

From Wikepedia

 

Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía); from ὀλίγος (olígos), meaning "few", and ἄρχω (arkho), meaning "to rule or to command")[1][2][3] is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people could be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, or military control.

Clinton, Bush, Kennedy, Cuomo....In fact a young girl discovered that all presidents but one were related. Also, take a look at the alma mater of most all of the leaders in the US congress and you will discover they all went to about three school.

Ms. Applebaum might be shocked to discover that some cultures and people actually think differently.

And as for democracy and, historically, how the West handled it, check out the Jesuit relations in terms of how they described the indigenous government. There was no centralized control and and power was shared. From Adaric, Huron chief:

Our Presidents of the Council have not more power than any other Our Generals and Presidents of the Council have not more power than any other Huron...everyone is his own master...without being accountable to another, or censured by his neighbour. .everyone is his own master...without being accountable to another, or censured by his neighbour.

And this from the Jesuit relations:

They held it as a maxim that each one is free:that one can do whatever he wishes: and that it is not sensible to put constraint upon men.” Le Clerq, Jesuit missionary, 17th century, writing of Micmac of Gaspe

How did the Western governments of the time embrace that?

 

 

Keeping a watchful eye on Turkey and the turmoil there, with its impact on the rest of the region, is well worth the effort.

There's a good piece by Andrew Cockburn in the next-to-current Harper's pointing out how local concerns drive foreign policy, probably much more than ideology.  Common sense, I suppose, but contrary to what media mouths seem to believe.

http://harpers.org/archive/2013/12/secretary-of-nothing/

Paywall, unfortunately.

These same elites believe that Western media, Western ideas and especially Western capitalism — as opposed to state capitalism — pose a threat to their personal domination of their economies. They want the world to remain safe for their particular form of authoritarian oligarchy, and they are increasingly prepared to pay a high price for it.

Indeed.  And it is precisely state capitalism that Obama is shooting for:  He doesn't want the government to own the means of production, but to obtain and maintain absolute control of the means of production.  This is, to me a form of socialism, and like all forms of socialism, is the enemy of all free men and women. 

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About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is an associate professor of theology at Boston College.