‘In Russia, the authoritarian state is pressing ahead with the destruction of society,’ write the editors of Osteuropa (Germany). ‘Almost 150 clubs, associations, centres, movements and institutes across the country have been hit by the slander campaign intended to silence institutions that have fallen out of favour. They are defamed by the Ministry of Justice as “foreign agents” – in other words spies – and, through fines and threats of imprisonment, are pressured into acknowledging this stigmatization by placing themselves on a register of agents. Now, with the inclusion of the Levada Centre and Memorial International, the repressive state has sent out a new signal: international renown no longer serves to protect. The aim is to spread fear.’
Spiral of repression: As Jens Siegert explains, the economic crisis of the 1990s forced Russian NGOs to seek funding abroad; when the Russian economy began to improve, few Russian foundations were prepared to support NGOs seen as critical of the Kremlin. After NGOs resisted the 2012 law obliging them to declare themselves as foreign agents, the Ministry of Justice began to blacklist them itself. One such group is the Women of the Don Union, which campaigns for human rights and the rights of women in the northern Caucasus, and whose operations have been paralysed since the authorities began a criminal investigation into its director Valentina Cerevatenko in June 2016.
Poland: In an interview on the ‘illiberal spirit’ in Polish politics, Basil Kerski talks about the future of the European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk, of which he is the director. The ESC, Kerski explains, receives a mix of state, regional and city support. Since Poland’s larger cities and the majority of its regions are still governed by the liberal Civic Platform or independent mayors, they enjoy some protection from government interference. Visitor popularity also secures the autonomy of the museum’s curators and shows that ‘one can narrate the recent history of Poland in a multi-perspectival way and thus create broad identification.’ At the same time, the political engagement of the ESC irritates many politicians and makes ‘a conflict over the future of our museum’ inevitable. ‘Despite its success, and above all its broad acceptance by the citizens, our future is open.’
More: Jevhen Fedchenko, founder and editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian portal StopFake.org, describes the site’s evolution from Ukrainian ‘self-defence’ outfit into watchdog organization on Russian disinformation activities worldwide; and Eva Kovacs reconstructs the ‘parallel’ biographies of two women, a Jew and a Roma, subjected to involuntary sterilization – one at the hands of Josef Mengele in Auschwitz, the other by the Hungarian authorities in 1970 – and discusses how these acts of sexual violence prompted processes of ethnic and gender identity-formation.
In Merkur (Germany), Swiss cultural historian and Slavist Felix Philipp Ingold examines the ideology of neo-Eurasianism and its influence on Russian geopolitics. A ‘state ideology’ supported by research institutes, media organs and propaganda centres, neo-Eurasianism advocates military rearmament and nuclear deterrence, support for sympathetic regimes such as Syria and Iran, the formation of alliances against global capitalism, and ideological warfare on ‘totalitarian liberalism’. Russian foreign policy, neo-Eurasian to the core, aims to ‘restore the territorial integrity of the Soviet Union’ and to counter NATO ‘militarism’ with a ‘continental alliance of nations stretching from eastern Europe through Central Asia to the Pacific’ – a concept ‘modelled on the multinational Soviet bloc, but which far exceeds its range’.
Eurasianism emerged in the late Tsarist and early Soviet periods, where it was called ‘Pan-Mongolism’, ‘Scythianism’, and ‘exodus to the East’. Alongside western thinkers Oswald Spengler, Carl Schmitt and C.G. Jung, its preeminent ideologues included the philosophers Konstantin Leontyev and Vladimir Solovyov, the linguist Nikolai Trubetzkoy, the poets Valeri Bryusow and Alexander Blok, and composers Sergei Prokofiev and Igor Stravinsky. From the 1960s, the tradition was continued by cultural historian and ethnologist Lev Gumilyow and, since the late 1990s, by Aleksandr Dugin. The latter’s monumental work The Foundations of Geopolitics has, writes Ingold, ‘has become a textbook for all decision makers in the most important spheres of Russian political life’. In it, Dugin predicts an ‘an incessant duel of the civilizations’, from which Russia will emerge as the new world power.
Dugin’s philosophical lodestar is Martin Heidegger, whom he sees as offering a philosophy perfectly matched to the ‘Russian mentality’. Heideggerian Dasein is, Dugin argues, congruent with a specifically Russian ‘being in the world’. Yet his esoteric rhetoric should not, warns Ingold, ‘distract from the relentless rigour of his thought, which goes beyond everything imagined by Bolshevism’. The geopolitics of the neo-Eurasians is ‘a new militant patriotism that places absolute value on the homeland and lends it global dimensions’. Like the Russian president himself, neo-Eurasianists are far removed from the idea of Russia’s geopolitical role as mediator between East and West, as propounded by philosopher Pyotr Chaadayev in the 1830s.
Vikerkaar (Estonia) focuses on the tension between liberal universalism in international relations and the particularist reaction to it. Rein Müllerson, Professor of Law at the University of Tallinn and former advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev, argues that the universalist moment of the 1990s is over and that a new concert of nations is necessary:
‘Since the Cold War, high – some would say naive – expectations of a world in which law, impartially interpreted and applied, would have primacy over politics have not materialized. Differing visions of desirable and possible world orders are accompanied by propaganda warfare where even international law is used as a tool of hegemonic dominance or, conversely, as an instrument to counter such dominance. … The only realistically possible international system is a multi-polar one. International law, as a normative system based on the balance of interests and compromises and not necessarily on shared ideology (though this may underpin domestic legal systems or EU law), can function relatively well only in a multi-polar, balance of power, concert of powers system which is consciously and conscientiously built and accepted as legitimate.’
Rejoinder: Talk about spheres of influence is the last thing small nations like to hear, however. In a rejoinder to Müllerson, Juri Saar makes the case for fundamental western values such as truth, personality and contract, and argues for their relevance in international affairs. These pillars, Saar claims, have been undermined by postmodernist thought and, more recently, by Russian information war. Inspired by the philosopher Maurizio Ferraris, Saar advocates a new realism, one that returns to universalist Enlightenment values… read more:
Popular posts from this blog
The People’s Union for Democratic Rights on Tuesday alleged that third degree torture methods were used by the Gurgaon Criminal Investigation Agency while interrogating workers of Maruti Suzuki India Limited’s Manesar plant who are accused of involvement in the killing of an HR manager and the violent attack at the plant on July 18. The PUDR alleged that the Gurgaon CIA investigation “did not seem” to be directed at solving the crime or probing the involvement of the arrested workers in the incidents and crimes recorded in the FIR but instead was based on their involvement in trade union activities. Grave doubts “The use of third degree torture in police custody, and the securing of arrestees’ signatures on blank papers by the police, gives rise to grave doubts regarding the ability of such an investigation in effectively identifying or arresting those guilty. The police and the State seem keener to reassure Maruti Suzuki Ltd. and ensure that production continues,” the PUDR stat
According to Murakami, “1Q84” is just an amplification of one of his most popular short stories, which (in its English version) is five pages long. “Basically, it’s the same,” he told me. “A boy meets a girl. They have separated and are looking for each other. It’s a simple story. I just made it long.” One beautiful April morning, on a narrow side street in Tokyo's fashionable Harujuku neighborhood, I walked past the 100% perfect girl. Tell you the truth, she's not that good-looking. She doesn't stand out in any way. Her clothes are nothing special. The back of her hair is still bent out of shape from sleep. She isn't young, either - must be near thirty, not even close to a "girl," properly speaking. But still, I know from fifty yards away: She's the 100% perfect girl for me. The moment I see her, there's a rumbling in my chest, and my mouth is as dry as a desert..." read the story: http://www.youmightfindyourself.com/post/22131227
'Do you know', Napoleon once said to Fontanes, 'what astounds me most about the world? The impotence of force to establish anything. There are only two powers in the world: the sword and the mind. In the end, the sword is always conquered by the mind' Conquerors, you see, are sometimes melancholy. They have to pay some price for so much vainglory. But what a hundred years ago was true of the sword is no longer true today of the tank. Conquerors have made progress, and the dismal silence of places without intelligence has been established for years at a time in a lacerated Europe. At the time of the hideous wars of Flanders, Dutch painters could still perhaps paint the cockerels in their farmyards. The Hundred Years War has likewise been forgotten, and yet the prayers of Silesian mystics still linger in some hearts. But today, things have changed; the painter and the monk have been drafted - we are one with the world. The mind has lost that regal certainty which a c
NB: This is the text of my address to the Eighth East-West Inter-cultural Relations Conference held at Ramjas College, the University of Delhi, on March 17. The details of the conference may be read here . A pdf file of the address is downloadable here - DS Satyagraha - An answer to modern nihilism Dilip Simeon Keynote address to the Eighth East-West Inter-cultural Relations Conference Ramjas College, March 17-18 2016 Zilu stopped for the night at Stone Gate. The gatekeeper said, Where are you from? Zilu said, From the household of Confucius. The gatekeeper said, The one who knows there’s nothing that can be done but keeps on trying? - from the Analects of Confucius (14:40) What is truth? asked jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer – Francis Bacon In fact it is more correct to say Truth is God than to say God is Truth – Mohandas Gandhi Introduction: The human being is the speaking animal, the discerner of good and evil. This featur
Mother of Cities to me, For I was born in her gate, Between the palms and the sea, Where the world-end steamers wait Rudyard Kipling , To the City of Bombay "Few people who have criticized England from the inside have said bitterer things about her than this gutter patriot" : George Orwell IT WAS a pity that Mr. Eliot should be so much on the defensive in the long essay with which he prefaces this selection of Kipling's poetry, but it was not to be avoided, because before one can even speak about Kipling one has to clear away a legend that has been created by two sets of people who have not read his works. Kipling is in the peculiar position of having been a byword for fifty years. During five literary generations every enlightened person has despised him, and at the end of that time nine-tenths of those enlightened persons are forgotten and Kipling is in some sense still there. Mr. Eliot never satisfactorily explains this fact, because in answering the shal
In Asia Minor or in Alexandria, in the second century of our faith (when Basilides was announcing that the cosmos was a rash and malevolent improvisation engineered by defective angels), Nils Runeberg might have directed, with a singular intellectual passion, one of the Gnostic monasteries. Dante would have destined him, perhaps, for a fiery sepulcher; his name might have augmented the catalogues of heresiarchs, between Satornibus and Carpocrates; some fragment of his preaching, embellished with invective, might have been preserved in the apocryphal Liber adversus omnes haereses or might have perished when the firing of a monastic library consumed the last example of the Syntagma . Instead, God assigned him to the twentieth century, and to the university city of Lund. There, in 1904, he published the first edition of Kristus och Judas ; there, in 1909, his masterpiece Dem hemlige Frälsaren appeared. (Of this last mentioned work there exists a German version, Der heimliche Heilan
NB: An interesting obituary to a great intellectual. My knowledge of the situation is limited, but as regards this article, I'm uncomfortable with the argument that there should be no objection to the participation of communal parties in a democratic alliance. My views on this are conditioned by the history of religion-based mobilisations in India, where the communist movement has from time to time allied with communal groups of all colours, with disastrous consequences. Some material on this theme may be read here . Nor can I agree that Islamists, Hindutva groups or Khalistanis etc. can be described as 'religious parties'. I do not mean to justify alliances with 'secular' tyrants, but to remind anyone who cares to listen, that communalism is also an expression of tyranny. Communalists proceed on the assumption that membership of a religious community automatically produces a political interest, and strive to create that interest. They enter democratic move