Archives for category: authoritarianism

Some of you will agree and some will say I’ve lost it.

First things first.

Socialism does take away liberties.
One by one. Under various pretexts.
I’ve learned this on my own skin.

Spending the first 30 years of your life under a communist regime teaches you a thing or two…

On the other hand, the meme above does have a certain ‘appeal’.
A significant number of people had their pensions slashed, watched their savings disappear and their jobs being exported. Health care and education have become exorbitant. Racism, xenophobia and hate have again risen their ugly heads and more and more people die at the wrong end of a gun. Of a gun ‘manhandled’ by ’emotionally distressed’ persons…

What’s going on here?
Why so many people’s lives are so badly ruined?

Fugazi can be used to describe a situation as “fucked up” or to describe an item as fake.

You see, “capitalism” stealing anything is a lie.
A blatant lie!

Capitalism cannot steal anything!

Socialism can rob you of your rights because it actually says it will do it.
Given the slightest chance, those who promote socialism will use the doctrine to ‘discipline’ their followers into a herd.

Capitalism doesn’t promote stealing!
Stealing is not condoned by any capitalist ideology while concentrating all decision making in the hands of the ruling coterie is the cornerstone of socialism.

‘If capitalism doesn’t condone stealing then why an increasing number of people end up penniless while so much money gets concentrated in such a small number of hands?!?’

Why are we living in such fugazi times?

Replace “capitalism” with ‘some (fake) capitalists’ and the text above will make so much more sense!

You see, what we have here is the perfect illustration of fugazi.
We are in a fucked up situation!
And instead of trying to solve it, some of us attempt to ‘fake it’!
And consequently make it worse…

Socialism won’t bring any respite!

Solving the current untenable situation starts with acknowledging its causes!
Its real causes…

Blaming the socialists for the errors committed because too much greed had been ‘expressed’ at ‘very high levels’ doesn’t solve anything.
Promising that socialism will making things right is just as malignant as blaming the socialists for the mistakes made by the greedy who have brought us where we currently are.

Only when we’ll stop faking it we’ll be able to look for solutions.
For workable solutions…

Oh, I almost forgot!
Don’t allow the ‘con-artists’ to convince you that social democracy is equivalent to socialism.
This is a thesis put forward by the same people who maintain that “republic” is good while “democracy” is bad.
And don’t allow the ‘other’ ‘con-artists’ to convince you that all wealthy people are bad and that (forced) “equality” will solve everything.

https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10220264321259677&set=a.10200798952597626
https://www.dictionary.com/e/slang/fugazi/
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/Manifesto.pdf
https://www.britannica.com/topic/democracy/Democracy-or-republic

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Don’t you dare to tell me how to take care of my body!
Or that I should wear those face diapers of yours and that I should accept to be immunized!
According to my book, my individual right to be the sole master of my body trumps your collective right to survive a pandemic. And, by the way, this whole Covid thing is a fraud.

On the other hand, the same book I’ve already mentioned gives me the right to deny all women their right to determine what happens to their own wombs. I infer from reading that book that an unborn fetus is a person – even before it had overcome the viability threshold and despite Roe vs. Wade.
The way I see it, my simple declaration – that an unborn fetus is a full blown person, is reason enough for me to consider that anybody performing an abortion – or aiding a woman to have an abortion, is committing a crime.
And being witness to a crime is detrimental to my well being. To my spiritual well being, in particular.
Hence whenever I learn that an abortion has happened, I’m entitled to receive damages.

Anyone who successfully sues an abortion provider under this law could be awarded at least $10,000. And to prepare for that, Texas Right to Life has set up what it calls a “whistleblower” website where people can submit anonymous tips about anyone they believe to be violating the law.”

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leonardo_da_Vinci-_Vitruvian_Man.JPG
https://www.https://www.npr.org/2021/09/01/1033202132/texas-abortion-ban-what-happens-next

“Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts.”
“We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”

George W. Bush 9/11 Address to the Nation, the Oval Office.

What went wrong?

Why is “war on terrorism” so hard to win? Even by the most powerful nation on Earth?

Let’s start with the beginning.

What is ‘terrorism’?
The calculated use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective.
No!
I’m afraid this is only how terrorism works. Or not…
How terrorism is designed to work, more exactly.
Terrorism, before anything else, is a concept. A manner in which some people choose to act. A manner in which some people attempt to impose their will upon those around them.

Is it possible to wage war upon a concept?
Is it possible to win a war against a concept?

So what are we going to do? Cave in? Only because we cannot win a war against a concept?!?

How about redefining the problem?

How about choosing an achievable goal?
After all, we’ve been reasonably good at beating the terrorists themselves. And those harboring them…

Only if we had made some difference between these two!
Between the terrorists and those in the middle of whom they were hiding. And continue to hide…

Let’s get back to square one.

How does terrorism work?

Some ‘agents’ determine that what they want cannot be achieved in normal ways.
And choose instead to use terrorism as their tool ‘of choice’.

What do they need?

Man power, material resources, pertinent knowledge, time to organize the ‘heist’, a place to put it all together and a practical method to apply the ‘pressure’.

There are some things which are hard to control.
Not impossible but hard.
Material resources, for instance. A knife, or even a cutter blade, can be used for terrorist purposes. Money are also a very fungible resource.

Place is also a tricky thing. A remote ‘hamlet’ is easy to find. But transporting a terrorist ‘solution’ from a remote hamlet to a place where that ‘solution’ might produce the intended result is not so simple.

Time. The longer it takes to design a ‘solution’ and to implement it, the easier for the general public to find out what’s going on.

Pertinent knowledge. The more sophisticated the solution, the more pertinent knowledge is needed.
Which knowledge comes comes attached to the man-power involved.

So. What drives a knowledgeable person to use their skills towards producing terror?
Hard to say. And hard to change the mind of a person who has already become a terrorist. Either a person who had spent years descending into the ‘mood’ or somebody who had been convinced on the spur of the moment to ‘participate’ as a suicidal driver. Explosive vest wearer. Or knife wielder.

The above mentioned motives make it hard, almost impossibly hard, to prevent terrorist acts committed by deranged persons, specially when they act alone. Or as a very small ‘team’.

But when we the ‘solution’ has a certain degree of sophistication – terrorist plots, that is, there are many kinds of people involved. Initiators/backers, operatives, facilitators and ‘neighbors’.

It’s hard, almost impossible to change the minds of a determined ‘initiator’. Or of some of the ‘operatives’. The initiators tend to be sociopaths while many of the operators, specially those committing suicide, must be ‘hopeless persons’. Not only clinically depressed but outright hopeless.

But the rest?

Why would anybody back a terrorist plot if there’s another way of achieving a goal? There’s always the sociopathic explanation but not all ‘backers’ are sociopaths. Not in an obvious manner, anyway…

Which brings us to the facilitators and the neighbors.

We have, broadly, two situations.
When the terrorists want to inflict pain in the middle of the enemy territory or when the terrorists want to gain control over a territory.

In 2015 ten terrorists have killed some 130 people in Paris. Wounded a couple of hundreds. And wrecked the lives of many others. Nine of them had been killed by the law enforcement agencies. On the spot or during the next few days. Only one of the assailants has survived and had been apprehended later.
The process has just begun. Besides the surviving shooter there are other 19 other people against which have been brought charges. “some are accused of helping the gang without necessarily knowing the extent of the conspiracy.
Many of the accused, including some of the assailants, have lived – at least for a while, in Molenbeek, Belgium.
A suburban commune where quite a high percentage of the population feel ‘there’s no way out’.

Are you familiar with the studies which maintain that both people and mice prefer social interaction to using drugs? Statistically speaking, of course. A very few individuals get hooked and cannot give up while the vast majority stop using drugs when conditions return to normal. When the American soldiers had come back from the VietNam war, for instance.

Same thing is valid with ‘terrorism’. Along with other kinds of fundamentalism.

When too many members of a community become despondent some can be ‘converted’, many others will help – even if not engage directly, while the majority will turn a blind eye to what’s happening in their middle.

That’s why the terrorists who had wreaked havoc in Paris had been able to organize themselves in Molenbeek without the police finding out what was going on.
That’s why the Americans had not been able to wipe out the Taliban. And why the Taliban have grabbed back power so quickly once the Americans had decided to pull back.
Because not enough of those living there – in both Molenbeek and Afghanistan, were hopeful about their future.

Because not enough of the Afghani hearts and minds have been won over.

I’m afraid that making “no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them” wasn’t helpful.
On the contrary…

And please, please, click the first picture and read the article.


https://apnews.com/article/entertainment-health-talk-shows-newspapers-bc2d6b72e8733f2065ee8979ce2ef9c2/gallery/49c7ef9775ae413492c04b6b2c0bd9e2
https://www.dw.com/en/chaos-at-kabul-airport-as-afghans-try-to-flee-as-it-happened/a-58874510
https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/on-winning-hearts-and-minds-key-conditions-for-population-centric-coin
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-58472506
https://www.goethe.de/en/kul/ges/eu2/ngn/20835708.html
https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/gwbush911addresstothenation.htm

Twenty years ago I was watching, on TV, the towers being destroyed.

I still remember, vividly, the people falling from the buildings I had visited 6 short years before they been torn down by terrorists.
The buildings which were replaced by a huge gap in the Earth when I took my family to visit New York. The only other place in the world where I would live beside my home town, Bucharest, Romania.

I’m watching now desperate people trying to board a plane in Kabul’s airport as the American troops are pulling back.

This instantly brought back to my memory another famous image.

We can discuss at nauseam about the significance of these pictures.
Because significance is something we attach to things and we impart to events.

I prefer to turn my attention to realities.

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, in 2018.

The only difference between Afghanistan and Vietnam being that the Viet-Cong were communists.
And the link between them the fact that the American planners have understood nothing from the first debacle.

And yes, parallels are also something which is up to us to notice. Us, who have witnessed the events and who are free to attach significance to each of them.

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Bill Cosby was released from prison Wednesday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018 conviction for sexual assault,

Let’s recap the events, as described in the NY Times article.

2004 – Ms Constand was raped by Mr. Cosby.
According to the 2018 sentence!
Please note that the Pennsylvania High Court didn’t say the 2018 jurors had ‘seen things”. Only that the trial shouldn’t have taken place!

2005 – The district attorney prosecuting the case “announced in a news release at the time that after an investigation he had found “insufficient” evidence. He later testified that he had given Mr. Cosby the assurance to encourage him to testify in a subsequent civil case brought by Ms. Constand. (A civil suit she filed against Mr. Cosby was settled in 2006 for $3.38 million.)”
As he was convinced he didn’t have enough evidence to make a penal case against Mr. Cosby, the prosecutor promised the defendant he will not be further prosecuted if he testified (a.k.a. ‘told the truth’) in the civil suit.
“In that testimony, Mr. Cosby acknowledged giving quaaludes to women he was pursuing for sex.”

2006 – The civil case was settled for $3.38 million. As in Bill Cosby agreed to pay that amount of money for something the prosecution wasn’t sure that it was able to convince a jury that he had actually done it.

2015 – The next district attorney reopened the case. And got a conviction. Despite the fact that the ‘main’ evidence had been provided by the defendant himself. Given after he was promised he wasn’t incriminating himself in a penal way.

2018 – Mr. Cosby is convicted for something he had done 14 years ago.

2021 – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decides that Mr. Cosby had been practically duped into incriminating himself, found this to be unacceptable and released the former prisoner.

What are we, ordinary citizens, to make out of all these?

Be glad that our individual rights have been upheld?
It makes a lot of sense!
After all, upholding individual rights is what makes the difference between a free society and an authoritarian one.
Between people being free and finding themselves at the whims of the government.

Ask ourselves ‘what about the individual rights of the victim’?
That also makes sense.
But my experience of living under a dictatorship strongly suggests that letting some guilty people walk free is a small price to pay for making resonably sure that a government – any government, doesn’t accrue too much power over the individuals making up the people.

Ask ourselves ‘what happened to us’?
What drives so many of to use constitutional rights as loopholes?
Is this OK?

No legislation will ever be perfect!
That’s why verdicts are given by ‘peers’, judges are given so much ‘leeway’ and why, in general, the law is administered by highly trained responsible people and not by ‘machines’.

After all, how we use whatever we have at our disposal – legislation included, speaks more about ourselves than about the things we use and the circumstances in which we make our choices.

I’ll start by stating that nothing becomes fact before somebody calling it so!

Doesn’t make any sense?
It’s not enough?
OK…

So ‘blue’ had become a fact only after people had invented a word for it…
It had existed before hand but we hadn’t noticed it – hadn’t spoken about it, more exactly, until we had a word for it. Until we had learned how to ‘measure’ it…

But what is a ‘fact’?
Something which is ‘real’?
And how do you determine if something is ‘real’ or not?
It either has ‘measurable consequences’ or your experience about it has been confirmed by somebody else.
A coffee table becomes a fact in the dark after you hit it with your shin and a meteorite ceases being a illusion the moment your hubby confirms he has also seen it.
No so complicated, was it?

‘But what about a propaganda movie? It that real? Can you consider it to be a fact?’

Excellent question, Watson!

The movie itself is real alright! A fact, indeed.
The fact that not everything it pretends to be real is true… is also a fact!
Savvy?

In fact, there are more facts waiting to be discovered than actual ‘happenings’.

Take the propaganda movie.
It has consequences.
Some people believe in its message. And act accordingly. Each of those actions becoming facts on their own.
Other people smell the rat hiding behind the screen. And act accordingly. Each of those actions being facts on their own.
The fact that those exposed to the same message more often than not chose to respond differently is a strong suggestion that facts – and reality itself, are not so straightforward as we’d like them to be.
As straightforward as most spin doctors pretend them to be…

‘You’ve been jabbering for sometime now but you haven’t yet come forward. What was the meaning of that ‘elusive’ title of yours?’

Liberty.
What is it?
A fact? A natural fact? Something which was given to us? Our natural status? Something others want to steal from us?
Something we’ve built/discovered together?
Or an ideal we’ll never be able to fulfill?

How about all three at the same time?

‘Are you nuts?’

A ball – a foot-ball, for example, has a certain degree of freedom. Put it on a table and it may roll in any direction it may choose. But will ‘never’ be able to fall through the table nor start to fly. ‘On it’s own’…
A helium balloon has another kind of freedom. If it’s tied down with a string it has the freedom to oscillate. If it’s ‘free’ it has the freedom to go up. For as long as it manages to hold on on enough helium, but that’s another thing. Another fact, if you will…

A society is free only if its members respect and defend, collectively, their freedoms. Their individual freedom and their collective freedom. For instance, Russia is a free country but its citizens are not as free as their neighbors, the Fins.
The moment Hong Kong went back to China, the city was no longer as free as it used to be as a British dominion. Yet its citizens have continued to be far freer than the rest of the Chinese citizens. For a while…..

Somethings – freedom, for instance, cannot be anything more than people think about them.

Others can.
Until people had invented X-rays, nobody could know how big were the roots of any given tooth.
Until Robert K. Merton had put together a more detailed analysis of it, the law of the unintended consequences was something people intuitively knew it was ‘real’ but nobody was fully aware of its real depth. Now, most of us agree that that depth is unfathomable. Yet some people still behave as if things were under control… Under their control…

Freedom, and all other rights we have enjoyed for sometime now, is only as wide – and only as deep, as we make it to be. As we agree among ourselves to make it.
For all of us!

Collective freedom as a fact.
In the sense that the freer communities have had a consistently bigger survivability rate than the more authoritarian regimes.
Ancient Athens had been able to navigate through more ‘dire straights’ than its arch-enemy, Sparta.
The Roman Empire has been established as a democracy, thrived as one for a while then failed abysmally as an autocracy.
Yes, the Egyptian empire did survive for millennia… only it had been ruled, succeedingly, by 33 dynasties. Practically, there had been 33 regimes, not one… And since there had been some 3100 years between its unification and it being incorporated into the Roman Empire… an average of 100 years per political regime cannot be branded as a real success… Specially in the early years, when the competition was…

A quick jump to the XX-th century will suggest the very same thing. All major wars – WWI, WWII and the Cold one, had been won by the freer societies.

So collective freedom, or lack thereof, has consequences. Is a fact.

On the other hand, freedom – the real version, the one that works, cannot be had/enjoyed but in a social context.
Nobody can be free on their own.
The emperors of yore – and the dictators of today, have been under the impression – illusion, more likely, that they could do whatever they pleased. That they were free. So free that they never hesitated to trample the freedom of their subjects. Only that freedom never lasted for long… it was soon replaced by the liberty of somebody else… And all these successive liberties have been exerted at the expense of those of everybody else.

Hence liberty, individual as well as collective, is not only a fact. It’s also a social construct.

What about the ‘elusive ideal’?

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Oops!
The only reasonable way to read this is ‘if you want to be free, you need to think straight’.
To find out what’s keeping you down and how to free yourself in a sustainable way.
How to free yourself in a manner which will add to the freedom of all others!

Cause if your increased freedom means the debasement of your erstwhile peers… things don’t look right…

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30 years ago – 32, to be precise, Francis Fukuyama had come up with the notion that people – as in the human race, had finally realized that liberal democracy was the only reasonable way forward. Hence ‘the end of history’. The end of conflict… the end of ‘misunderstanding’ between people…

“WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democrats’ sweeping attempt to rewrite U.S. election and voting law suffered a major setback in the Senate Tuesday, blocked by a filibuster wall of Republican opposition to what would be the largest overhaul of the electoral system in a generation.”
“The bill, known as the For the People Act, would touch on virtually every aspect of how elections are conducted, striking down hurdles to voting that advocates view as the Civil Rights fight of the era, while also curbing the influence of money in politics and limiting partisan influence over the drawing of congressional districts.
But many in the GOP say the measure represents instead a breathtaking federal infringement on states’ authority to conduct their own elections without fraud — and is meant to ultimately benefit Democrats.
It failed on a 50-50 vote after Republicans, some of whom derided the bill as the “Screw the People Act,” denied Democrats the 60 votes needed to begin debate under Senate rules. Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black woman to hold her office, presided over the chamber as the bill failed to break past that filibuster barrier.”

The end of misunderstanding between people?!?

During the Cold War – the end of which had prompted Fukuyama to draw his conclusion, the ‘misunderstanding’ was dividing the two ideological blocs. Between those who had learned to value of the individual and those who didn’t yet had a real chance at doing this.

Nowadays the misunderstanding had seeped deeper. Way deeper…
The two parties of the country which had been the stalwart of democracy during the Cold War don’t see eye to eye as to how the electoral process should be organized.
The Guardians of the Revolution and the Supreme Leader do not agree – at least apparently, on who should be approved to run for office.

Meanwhile, Putin enjoys the limelight….

The end of history, eh?!?

Maybe, but not the one envisioned by Fukuyama…

PS
Fukuyama must be so fed up about this…
Well, I don’t think he was wrong!
I do see liberal democracy as the only reasonable way forward.
The enthusiasm with which the world had met his work was a very strong signal that things were going in the right direction…
The problem resides in the fact that other people had other plans. Had identified other ‘opportunities’.
And in the fact that we, the people, have been sleeping with out boots on!

LE.
The Moldovan officials in charge with running the 2021 snap legislative elections are tying hard to keep the Moldovan citizens living abroad away from the polling stations.


Last minute edit
The Electoral Committee, CEC, had unanimously decided that 150 polling stations will be organized, despite the Foreign Ministry asking for 191 and the Supreme Court ordering them to comply…

Do you see a pattern here?
Well. I see a question mark!
If things like gerrymandering and voter suppression can happen in America, what chances are that authoritarian wannabees won’t spring up all over the world?

Turning your head to re-examine past experiences is liable to yield previously unnoticed aspects.
Sometimes important ones…

Many people attempt to convince us that evolution is about ‘the survival of the fittest’.
Ernst Mayr, What Evolution Is, 2002, aptly explains that ‘evolution is not as much about the survival of the fittest as it is about the demise of the unfit’!
Have you ever heard about the guy?

The post continues after this message.

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Evolution, the phenomenon, is driven by small alterations in the environment.
The individual organisms which cannot cope with the alteration do not survive, The surviving ones – the ‘siblings which find it in then how to cope, thrive because of the relative abundance of specific resources. The species survives.
If not enough of the individual organisms are able to survive the alteration, the whole species disappears. The odd survivors might mutate – or not, and establish a new species. Or not…

The current alteration of the environment in which we, humans, need to first and foremost survive is COVID-19.

The difference between us, humans, and the rest of the species subjected to evolution being our ability to purposefully communicate amongst us the information we have been able to gather. NB, ‘communicate’ doesn’t always guarantee ‘honesty’.

Viruses – simple strings of genes, also known as pieces of information, which had happened to evolve into their present form, have no motivation. Furthermore, it’s impossible to determine the full motivation of those who spread misinformation about anything – or even whether they are fully aware of the consequences of their actions. Hence, I’m going to ‘glance back’ at COVID using a purely evolutionary eye.

I’ll start by letting you in on something I witnessed earlier this morning.
Waiting for the traffic light to change, at a crosswalk, I overheard two guys talking about the virus. The older – by some five odd years , was trying to convince the other that ‘This thing is nothing but a scam. There is something out there, indeed, but the numbers are too small for it to be as dangerous as advertised by those who want to herd us into submission’. Both were close to my age, 60, but there was a marked difference between them. The ‘denier’ was more opinionated – a more sure of himself, but was carrying his age a lot worse. And you could read on the face of the other one that this was not the first time that he had heard that… and that he knew how useless it was for him to tell anything. Anything to the contrary, of course.

It was then when it hit me. I had almost the same sensation as when I first listened to Deep Purple’s Space Trucking….

People die of this thing. The weaker the earlier. Some will survive. The species still has a future.

Yeah… only our awareness has added another layer on this evolutionary mess. It’s not only our individual immune systems which fight this infection. The health care systems organized by the communities take care of the sick ones. The sanitation systems take care of the dead. The ‘Big Pharma’ have already provided us with ‘weapons’ to fight back. The governments attempt to organize the whole survival effort.

This whole thing has veered way off from our classic view of evolution.
‘Passing through’ is no longer a matter of individual prowess. Or luck.

It has become a matter of cooperation.
Or a matter of dis-information…

Going forward, two scenarios can be imagined.

A few of us survive the actual disease, enough of us get vaccinated and we reach herd immunity. Sooner rather than later. We learn our lesson and life goes on, with some adjustments.

The ‘COVID is a scam’ scenario gets enough traction to convince a sizeable proportion of the population to refuse the vaccine. Periodic bouts of the infection prevents us from regaining a modicum of normal life. More and more people will start resorting to ‘strange behaviors’.
So strange that I don’t even want to imagine.
The worst being the fact that whenever in ‘dire straits’, people are more inclined to accept various forms of authoritarianism.

Do you feel compelled by public pressure to wear a mask and take the jab?
You consider this to be ‘dictatorial’?

Wait till the next wave of infection crashes over our heads!

And why have so few of us heard about Ernst Mayr?
‘Survival of the fittest’ plays better into our ‘confirmation bias’.
‘We’re still here, then we must surely be doing something really well. Luck has nothing to do with it and nobody has ever given us any free lunch. Everything we’ve achieved was due solely to our own efforts! None of us needs anything from anybody else!’
Anything which contradicts this dearly held conviction will be met with a strong opposition. Denial, even.
At the subconscious level, of course!

‘I refuse to wear a mask’ not as much because ‘I don’t care about your fate’ but because I don’t want to acknowledge that I need your cooperation towards our mutual survival!

Me and my broken promises… what on Earth made me bring motivation into discussion?!?

Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Get a vaccine, wear a mask…

“You can’t deprive others of their liberty without forfeiting your own. Liberty is lost with every person seeking to control others for their comfort and sentiment.”

Getting a vaccine and wearing a mask are sensible things to do, right?

Establishing a free environment, where all individuals might enjoy their liberties, is also a sensible thing!

For the simple reason that even a casual examination of history provides ample proof that freer societies fare far better than those which curtail individual freedoms.

Simpler said than done…
Mention the mandatory mask and the imperative advice to get vaccinated to those passionate about individual liberty and you have a hornets’ nest on your hands.

Or maybe this is an excellent occasion to discuss the ‘gap’ we constantly need to bridge between individual freedoms and a free society?

Can you have a free society composed of slaves?

The answer depends on who gives it to you.
I’d spent the first 30 years of my life under communist rule.
My country, Romania, was declared, by those who were ruling it at that time, as being free. Both domestically and internationally.
The only free individual was the ruler. Nicolae Ceausescu. He was the only guy who could do as he pleased. And only for a while… Until 25 December 1989…
In the end, the regime had crumbled and the only ‘free’ individual had met with the consequences of how he had chosen to use his freedom.

So no, you cannot have a free society when one individual, or a group of individuals, impose their will on everybody else.

‘Your liberty to swing your fist ends where my nose begins’

Otherwise put, if you refuse to get vaccinated/wear a mask you might be instrumental in getting me sick. Or dead.

‘Might’! It’s the ‘might’ part which troubles you!
Why should you shoulder a minimal risk/discomfort for my safety? Specially when you’re not convinced that my safety is in danger… Or, maybe, you’re thinking ‘let him take whatever precautionary measures he considers to be necessary!’

Because of India, that’s why!

Do you consider present day India to be a free society?
Do you consider that people currently living in India are truly enjoying their freedom? Today?!?

And no, I’m not going to contrast what’s going on in India with what the Chinese government had done.
First pretend nothing had happened then lock up the entire population.

No!
I’m going to contrast what’s going on in India with how the ‘other’ China had reacted to the Covid pandemic. Or with the South Korean response.

Different economic realities… Different cultures…
Maybe!
But also different levels of economic and social disruption!

Don’t tell me that what’s going on in today’s India won’t have repercussions!

This book represents Djuvara’s thesis for his 1974 Doctorat d’Etat.

There are two main ideas which are to be pointed out here.
A first one hidden under the distinction he identifies between ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’.
The second being the bread and butter of his thesis. That civilizations are initiated in one place, diffused/exported for a while and then replaced – or led further, depending on how one chooses to interpret the facts, by people until then living somewhere on the fringes of the civilization they are replacing/refurbishing.

Nothing really new, right?
‘Cyclical History’ wasn’t invented yesterday. And certainly not by Neagu Djuvara.

Well, Djuvara’s ideas – like everybody else’s, are nothing but ‘overgrowth’. Things which sprung in people’s minds ‘on top’ of what those people had already learned. Found out. Or, of course, both.

In a sense, what I’ve said in the previous sentence is the very condensed abstract of Djuvara’s second ‘main idea’.
The first, the ‘hidden’ one, – again, in an extremely abridged version, being that ‘history, as a narrative, is nothing more and nothing less than what historians choose to make of the facts they had learned about’.

Too blunt?
Well, first and foremost, I’m an engineer. Not a fancy pen-pusher…

OK. Let’s go further.
I’m going to illustrate, briefly, Djuvara’s main thesis by presenting his version of what had happened in Europe. What had started as an European phenomenon, more precisely.

The Roman civilization had grown at the periphery of the Ancient Greece. And, eventually, took over more ‘space’ than the Ancient Greeks.
The Russian civilization had grown at the periphery of the Byzantine/Orthodox one and eventually took over. Or, at least, attempted to…
The Holy Roman Empire of German Nation ‘recycled’ – or, at least, attempted to, the ‘ancient’ values and traditions.
Great Britain had grown at the periphery of Europe until it took over the whole world. At least for a while…
The US, which had started as a British colony, had grown into the most powerful nation known to man.

‘OK, I understand what you meant by trailers and trailblazers. Some of those who trail might end up trailblazing.
Do you want to add anything?
Is there an actual point to your post?’

Yep.
As they say about the market, ‘past performance is no guarantee about the future’.
The fact that things have happened as they did is no guarantee that they’ll keep unfolding in the same manner.

In a sense, Fukuyama was right, after all…
Even if not in the sense he thought it!

According to “The end of history” people – all over the World, had realized the relative merits of ‘liberal democracy’ and ‘capitalism’. Which were going to be put in practice, effectively marking ‘the end of history’.
Thirty years past that moment, it seems that things aren’t going in that direction.

I’m I contradicting myself? Who’s right, after all?
Djuvara? Since history doesn’t seem to have stopped?
Or Fukuyama, but for some other reason? Than the one advertised by him?

‘History, as a narrative, is nothing more and nothing less than what historians choose to make of the facts they had learned about’

Then, if history is ‘man made’, what about the future?

Can we really make it? Predict it?

‘Make it’, for sure!
If not us, then who?!?

‘Predict it’… that’s something totally different!

There are signs, though.

First of all, Djuvara had described something which can be compared with fire burning in a savannah. It starts in one place, burns for a while… and then starts up some place else. Until now, no fire – no fire known to man, had burned any savannah so thoroughly that nothing was left for a ‘second’ fire.

Secondly, Fukuyama said that history will end when all humankind will sync. When all ‘civilizations’ will be run according to the same paradigm. According to the liberal democratic and capitalist paradigm, in Fukuyama’s vision.
We’re still far from that.
Only there is one paradigm which is willing to play that role! To fill those shoes…

The ‘greed is good’ paradigm!
Or, if you don’t like to think in ‘monetary’ terms, the ‘my version is the only right one’ paradigm.

The problem being that these two work in concert.
They are two facets of something called ‘intellectual arrogance’.

I’ll come back to this notion sometime in the future.
Now I’ll end up telling that there’s not much left of the ‘savannah’.

When things were unfolding as Djuvara described them, the planet itself was more or less ‘virgin’. Unexploited. Unoccupied.
Human culture used to be diverse. Ideas were developing. Traded. From one place to the other. From one culture to the other.

Nowadays, much of the planet – our home, is occupied by the, more or less, same civilization. And by an increasingly similar culture.

Nothing inherently good nor bad here, mind you!

If we still have no definitive history, then the future hasn’t been written yet.
It’s up to us to choose the right trail.
For no other reason than the fact that there are very few trails left for us to burn!