Archives for category: authoritarianism

I’m not sure what ‘timid’ meant in those times.

I would have used ‘coward’.

On the other hand, it would have been politically incorrect…

And ‘somewhat’ inefficient! Being blunt, often scares your audience.

And makes them impervious to what you need to share with them.


Not even on paper!

If you read carefully Marx’s communist manifesto, you’ll realize that it doesn’t. Work. Not even on paper!
According to Marx, communism will come to be when enough people formerly belonging to the middle class will have become poor. As a consequence of their wealth having been siphoned away from them.
Becoming poor will make those former middle class people open to communist ideas. And will convince them to follow the already ‘enlightened communists’ into revolution.
For a while – again, according to Marx, the society will be led by the successful revolutionaries. In a dictatorial manner, because not all people will have been risen to the communists’ level of understanding.
So. ‘Communism’ will be instated by some disgruntled people using dictatorial methods.
How auspicious is this?
Let me go even further.
Why were those people disgruntled in the first place?
Because capitalism!
Not so fast. The Adam Smith kind of capitalism worked just fine. Only after it had been warped by greed it had started to sputter. Specially after Milton Freedman had enshrined greed… This being the moment when I need to remind you that Adam Smith’s first book on this subject was “The Theory of Moral Sentiments”…
Those people had become disgruntled after too many in that society had been convinced, at least for a while, that ‘greed was good’. And what was Marx’s proposed solution for that disgruntlement?
That all ‘means of production’ – meaning all property/wealth, be taken away from individual people. And entrusted to ‘the people’.
Since ‘the people’ were going to be led by the “communists”, in practice the communist revolution meant that all wealth was going to be confiscated from those who happened to own it and entrusted to a very small number of people. Who happened to own the secular power in that moment. As the main consequence of the communist revolution. Apud Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto…
Let me revisit now Milton Friedman’s words. ‘Greed is good’. According to this line of thinking, wealth becoming as concentrated as possible is a good thing. Since greed is already good, concentrated wealth is but a logical consequence…

Then Marx’s Communist Manifesto was nothing but an avant-la-lettre short-cut for an easier implementation of Milton Friedman’s greed hailing ideology!

See what I mean?

Karl Marx communism did not and cannot work.
Because it leads into a vicious circle.
It creates a monopolistic situation which cannot be avoided. Time and time again, history has proven that ‘this time is different’ is nothing but wishful thinking. Whenever too much decision power is concentrated in too few hands, the situation becomes untenable. The more concentrated the decision power, the sooner – and more dramatic, the eventual collapse.

How about a different kind of communism?
The only sustainable kind of anything – ‘social arrangements’ included, had been ‘natural’. Had appeared in an evolutionary manner.
In contrast, all revolutionary developments have produced counter-revolutions. In many instances even more destructive than the revolutions themselves.
What will come after democratic capitalism? I don’t know!
But it better be better than what we have now.

And come in quietly!


For some reason, there still exists a considerable number of people not yet convinced that what had been experienced in the Soviet Union was “a true socialist/communist form of government”

The sad reality is that the Russian Revolution did establish a true socialist form of government!
As per Marx’s teachings.
The communists had been in charge of things, and the things failed to become better.
In fact, they had become worse.
Eventually, the Soviet Union – along with all other socialist attempts, had crumbled under their own weight.

Those who want to find better alternatives to democratic capitalism – good luck with that – need to find another word but socialism to describe their goal.
Or wait a few generations before attempting to give it a new meaning. The current one had been wasted by the likes of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Kim, Ceausescu…

Basically, there are two meta-rules.

According to the first, if you follow the precepts – to the letter – you get ‘there’.
According to the second, avoiding the forbidden sets the stage for things going your way.

Unfortunately, things are not as simple as they look at first sight.
The first meta-rule deals with individuals. Getting ‘there’ is each individual’s job. They have to do what they are supposed to and failing to fulfill any item banishes the unworthy from the cherished ‘prize’.
The second one is even ‘trickier’. While its precepts must be followed, again, by the individual followers, the ‘spoils’ belong more to the community rather than to the individual. On top of that, they are not ‘certain’! Following the rule only ‘sets the stage’. Disobeying the rule makes it certain that the goal will never be reached while following it only ‘opens the door’. Makes it possible for each of the community members to search for their individual paths towards their particular goals.

Do I need to remember you that both these rules exist only in our heads?
As figments of our imaginations?
And that the difference between the two can be observed at the practical level?

The first rule can never be fulfilled. Nobody can follow it to its ultimate consequence. No matter how hard any of us might try. It would be like measuring with infinite precision. Something will always happen. Go wrong. Throw us back to where we have started.
The second one also leads to disappointment. Some members of the community will inevitably attempt to cut corners. Take the easy way out … Hence the rule needs policing. You’ve certainly witnessed at least on occasion when ‘bad (money) has driven out good’… at least temporarily! Furthermore, some members of the community – while faithfully sticking to the rule, will still fail to get ‘there’. Set their aims too high, didn’t have what it takes… or simply had lots and lots of bad luck! But regardless of the why’s, not getting there still generates disappointment. Usually directed at the rule… and creates a lot of doubt towards the weltanschauung based on the rule…

Which way out?
How to choose?

Would it be helpful to notice that, historically speaking, the communities which have followed the second rule, primum non nocere, have fared decently while those who had attempted to prescribe, and impose, a ‘recipe for happiness’ have invariably failed?
‘Don’t do anything, upon another, which you wouldn’t welcome when done upon you’ versus ‘treat all the others exactly as you would like to be treated yourself’?

I’m afraid things are a little bit more complicated.
In this translation, the Turkish proverb puts the onus on the ‘forest’ for what’s going on.
Which isn’t helpful. It somehow validates the notion that ‘people’ get what they deserve.
The way I see it, the responsibility belongs to the wooden handles. The axes – the steel parts, do what is in their nature to do. Axes split wood, dictators dictate… and so on.
On the other hand, those who ‘help in the process’… While it also is in their ‘wooden’ nature to be helpful, the handles do not necessarily have to attach themselves to forest hacking axes.
While it is in their nature to give advice, analysts and pundits do not necessarily have to court the Trumps/Putins/Xis of this world.

Blaming the people for voting for those who are being put forward by very skill full political promoters is not that different from blaming the victim of a rape. Yes, she should have known better than to drink that much at the party but the rapist didn’t necessarily had to take advantage of her.

War is over when the goals have been achieved, not when the enemy had been destroyed.
While sometimes you have to utterly obliterate the enemy in order to achieve your goals, this is not always necessarily true.

Hari Bucur-Marcu

This makes a lot of sense, right?

Yeah, sort of…

The problem with this approach being that this understanding degrades war to a simple instrument.

Something used by a decision maker towards the achievement of certain ‘goals’.

The problem with this approach being that it obliterates the decision power of all other people involved in it. Of everybody else but of those calling the shots. Pun intended!

All analysts commenting Putin’s ‘special military operation’ babble on about Putin’s goals.
‘Ukraine will never be able to crush Russia, militarily, so we need to understand what’s going on in Putin’s mind.
In order to be able to ‘bribe’ him into ending the war. Or to black mail him. Only we need to understand first what will constitute a too big of a price for him to pay.’

On the other hand, Putin seems to be thinking along the same lines.
‘I need to preserve my position. MY power. Ukraine is a bad example for the Russian people. They have shifted their ‘allegiance’ and want to build a real democracy. I cannot allow this to happen, otherwise I’ll be next.
Now, how much pain do I have to inflict in order to achieve my goal? Directly, upon the Ukrainians and indirectly, upon the rest of the world?’

Meanwhile, the rest of those involved in this situation bear the brunt of the war. Directly and indirectly.

Some of them understand what’s going on and some don’t.

My point being that not all instruments are born equal.
While all are nothing but mere ‘sticks’ in the hands of the agents wielding them, choosing to use a certain instrument among the available alternatives speaks volumes about the agent making the choice.

What are we, reasonable creatures, to understand when an agent chooses an instrument which debases all other creatures to the role of ‘kill or be killed’?
For whatever reason and under whatever pretext?
Is that agent ever going to stop? To stop setting ‘goals’, further and further away?

Specially after having the ‘first installment’ safely tucked under the belt…

The way I see it, capitalism is an environment. A ‘place’.
A ‘way’ for people to do ‘economy’.
What people do in that place depends on the place itself but also on how they choose to do things. This being the reason for which the American capitalism is different from the European one. And both completely different from the Chinese version.
In this sense, capitalism doesn’t actually work. Not by itself!
If those dwelling in this ‘place’ act freely – as in ‘free market’ – then the whole ‘thing’ remains ‘sustainable’. Not ‘good for everybody’, not always ‘nice’ but nevertheless ‘fair’. As in ‘you have a fair chance of reaching the other end’. Not to get necessarily rich but to make the ends meet!

The alternative to capitalism… if you take your ideological blinders off, you notice that there’s none!
Socialist/communist countries are/were also capitalist. The difference being that their economies are/were centrally planned. Their markets are/were anything but free!
This being the reason for which communism had crumbled under its own weight.
And for which in all places where the market is not free enough the ‘thing’ is not sustainable!

7 years after the accord had been signed, and never implemented, Putin had ordered his army to invade, again, Ukraine.
Using Lukashenko’s Belarus as a springboard.

As of now, all five people who had signed the accord had failed. In more ways than one.
None of their stated goals have been achieved.
The three democratically elected leaders had failed in the sense that they had not been able to prevent the escalation of the conflict.
The two dictators have not, as of yet, been able to fulfill their ‘promises’.

For almost a year now, Ukraine had been able to defend itself against the Russian aggression. In the first days of the ‘special operation’, Ukraine had managed to do this alone! Only after the initial surprise had given birth to hope, the ‘west’ had started to send in meaningful assistance.
Which strongly suggests that a people which is in control of its own fate – as in ‘democratically decides its own future’ – has a greater ability to fight than a people sent to the battle field at the whims of a dictator.

One by one, the democratically elected signatories of the Minsk agreement had been replaced. One way or another, all of them peaceful. Not necessarily as a consequence of this particular failure but, nevertheless, they are no longer able to make any other hugely significant mistake.
The two dictators continue to dictate. To make mistakes and to defend their previous mistakes. To cause misery.

Looking at the whole thing from a distance, the situation is simple.

All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.

Frank Herbert

Unfortunately, things are even worse. Not only that power is magnetic to the corruptible but also most ‘ordinary’ people tend to have a hard time acknowledging mistake.
Once committed, even by the most incorruptible person, a mistake gets a life of its own. And works hard at convincing the perpetrator to ‘hide’ it. Hence to commit even worse mistakes.

Now, why is power magnetic for the corruptible?
Because power makes it possible for the ‘agent’ to ‘hide’ a lot of mistakes!

The way I see it, people have a knack for learning on the run.
The shape of the learning curve and the duration of the process depends on the particulars of each situation but all people eventually get there. Those who survive to that point, of course…

What’s to be learned from all this?

The obvious, my dear Watson!

All those five powerful agents in the picture above have failed.
Yet the French and the Germans fare a lot better than the Russians and the Belorussians while the Ukrainians fight better than the Russians.

What’s the main difference between those two ‘sides’?

Those who fare better change their leaders more easily and more often?
Before their mistakes pile up? And become ‘too big to fail’?

It had to do with FOCUS.

The answer, like always, is to be found inside the question which generates it.

“If socialism is so bad, how did the Soviet Union produce so many scientists.”

The key word here is ‘produce’.
First of all, Russia did have an important cultural and scientific tradition to start with.
Secondly, the communist leaders – mostly Lenin but more or less all of them, had a clear understanding of the literacy gap which separated Russia from the rest of the world. Filling that gap was the first step towards Russia/the Soviet Union becoming a First Tier country. Hence the ‘free, standard, universally available education’.

But there’s a caveat here.
When we’re speaking about education – in the West, we mean ‘everything already known to man’.
Students are allowed to read everything in the library – except for certain places in the US, but those are exceptions.
When we speak about the education in the Soviet Union we must remember that each of the ‘free, standard and universally available’ aspects had its own limitations.
It was free in the sense that everybody – well, almost – had the right to apply for it. Actually getting it was something else.
It was standard in the sense that it was standardized. Only what was deemed safe/useful was allowed to reach the students.
It was universally available in the sense that everybody was subjected to some form of education. Much of which was nothing more than indoctrination…

Finally, let’s remember that the Soviet Union was able to produce scientists only for so long. Until it collapsed under it’s own weight…

Moral of the story?

Producing scientists is not enough.
Science teaches you only how to do whatever you want to do.
What to want… that’s something else!

People who have never experienced communism speak freely about it.
Some are frightened by it – as they should be, while others are looking forward to it.

People who have no real idea about what fascism/nazism was about speak freely about it.
Some are frightened by it – as they should be, while others are looking forward to it.

While there is a consensus about communism being a ‘far left position’, fascism is usually – but not unanimously, considered to be ‘far right’. Some even speak about a ‘third position‘, whatever that might mean.

The way I see it, what we have experienced as fascism is what Marx had in mind when he wrote the Communist Manifesto.
According to Marx, at some point in what he hailed as ‘the future’, the middle class was going to become poorer and poorer. All the wealth generated by the capitalist economy and governed by the increasingly imperialist/monopolist states was going to be herded into fewer and fewer hands.

As a consequence, once impoverished, people until then belonging to the middle class were supposed to realize they had been duped and let themselves be led – out of misery – by the communists. ‘The most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country …’

What Marx was prophesying had soon enough come to be. The post WWI German and Italian peoples had lost their hopes and allowed themselves to be led by those who pretended to put ‘the best interests of the people’ above everything else.

Same thing happens whenever a crises is deep enough to impoverish a significant number of people. Who loose their hopes and allow callous political operators to advance closer and closer to power.

What we have experienced as ‘communism’ was a Leninist short-cut.
In Marx’s view, communism was going to happen after economically advanced societies had reached a certain pinnacle.
Lenin – and Mao, had introduced ‘socialism’ and ‘popular democracy’ as intermediary stages between their underdeveloped societies and what Marx had in mind.

So no, there is no such thing as a ‘third position’. We have democracy – where left and right cooperate towards the common good, and authoritarianism.
While democracy is clear and transparent, authoritarianism hides its true nature under a chameleonic cloak. Painted, by the spin doctors who run the show, in whatever hue happens to be more attractive to the masses which are about to be fooled.

Afterthought. I googled ‘third position’ and found out that:

“In the last few years of the 20th Century, according to an article by Chip Berlet, a new form of fascism emerged in a period of resurgent neo-fascism. Called the Third Position, it seeks to overthrow existing governments and replace them with monocultural nation states built around the idea of supremacist racial nationalism and/or supremacist religious nationalism.”


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