Flowers of the Mind 22

Americans like to talk about peace through strength. There has been a lot of commentary on this from across the political spectrum during the NATO-Russia war that commenced on 24 February. The thing about peace through strength is it needs to be secured through a fair peace treaty – otherwise it is the enforcement of the false belief that might is right. America never settled a fair peace treaty at the end of the Cold War. It is now reaping what it sowed.

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Three prudent cautions from Shorab Ahrami:

  1. First, beware emotionally charged images that tend to overwhelm reason
  2. Second, beware the treatment of dissent or criticism as treason
  3. Third and finally, beware delusions of total mastery over complex crises.

Ahrami’s reflections were prompted by the strange transference of mass formation psychosis from COVID to Stand with (if not understanding Ukraine). It is due to this bizarre participation in a spectral media-theatre state that the weird celebration of the “heroic resistance” of Ukrainians is fuelled, the miraculous ascension of Volodomir Zelenszky from an inconsequential clown to the inspiration to the free world, and the immoral advoacacy of lazy liberal elites urging Ukraine to fight Russia to the last (conscripted) Ukrainian. Ahrami also pins this immoral vicarious valour to his third caution, to be beware of delusions of total mastery over complex crises.

“And we are once more touting our own mastery over events that are rather hard to master. The usual hawkish suspects are feeding the dream of a hopeless Ukrainian resistance. These figures are likely merely deepening the Ukrainian people’s pain, without altering the ultimate outcome of the conflict. And measures that could plausibly alter the outcome bear the unfortunate risk of bringing us close to the brink of all-out war with Moscow.

Perhaps that is what many Americans want. But those who are comfortable with the escalation cycle and think they’re prepared to accept the downsides might consider if they’re viewing events from deep inside an information trap.”

Sohrab Ahrami

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But as yet, alas, our insecure elites are not heeding Sohrab’s wise, prudence. The week has witnessed a petulant display of divorcing from Russian culture, with no real understanding of the strength, power and endurance of that culture. A commentator on Russian affairs, Mark Sleboda, commented on twitter (apologies I have not tracked down the link):

The Golden Age of the Global Internet is also now over resulting not from Russia closing itself off, but by censorship and exclusion by Western and the social media platforms and the internet fixtures they control – because they don’t trust their own people to hear alternate perspectives and narratives and judge on their own. The world’s internet will now break down into regional spheres with limited connectivity. It will be a new, much smaller, less connected, more localized and divisive world.

Mark Sleboda

We could form an archipelago of cultures. But the intolerant liberals seem hell bent to turn the glories of the Anglo-American Atalantic into the Lost Civilization of Atlantis.

The mood in Moscow appears to be to embrace the secure continent of the World Island – as Mark Slebeda says: “For Russia the only path forward, the goal to survive is, must be – separation, autarky (self-sufficiency), and independence from US-led Western Hegemony”.

This week I have felt this and heard many names for it – the Great Decoupling, the Great Separation, the New World DIsorder, the Multipolar World.

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One comic example – the local government of Melbourne (a small part of the fallen city of Melbourne) decided to end his sister relationship with St Petersburg because “they stand with Ukraine”. They appear to have no awareness of parallels with today’s economic war on Russia and the Siege of Leningrad… or St Petersburg.

The folly of Melbourne severing the sister city relationship with St Petersburg. The fraud of Melbourne claiming to be a peer of St Petersburg.

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As Russia turns to its Eurasian future, I learned some more about Lev Gumilev, who studied and celebrated its Eurasian heritage. Gumilev, who was the son of Anna Akhmatova, studied the history of the steppe and Central Asian nomads. He saw Russian civilization as not a truly European entity but rather a Eurasian geopolitical and cultural phenomenon.

He also proposed the concept of passionarity, which can be described as “an irresistible inner urge to purposeful activity, the capability of sustained super effort in the name of a goal”.

It seems certain that Russia is embracing its Eurasian heritage and rediscovering its passionarity.

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Finally, this week my flowering mind discovered Ryszard Legutko, The demon in democracy: totalitarian temptations in free societies.

I had vaguely heard of Legutko several years ago but he was presented as some kind of horny eccentric conservative, and I was simply unready to hear him. The other day I heard an interview with Legutko on the podcast, Subversive with Alex Kaschuta (which by the way is an excellent podcast that presents a glorious true diversity of subversive thinkers – highly recommended!). His calm, deep and thoughtful discussion prompted my curiosity, and I followed up by purchasing his The demon in democracy: totalitarian temptations in free societies (2016). This book probes the same issue I have perceived in Rod Dreher’s work, Live not by lies, and in the authoritarian impulses in progressive ideas, in the media-theatre state of our contemporary republics, and in the social engineering of public health during the pandemic. I might have even used the word, totalitarian temptation.

Legutko expands on these ideas carefully and with true erudition and wisdom. I am still in the early parts of the book, and will just note down some fragments today, related to the concept I have articulated of the post-democratic society. Legutko makes two simple and acute observations.

First, Legutko observes that there are more forms of democracy than liberal democracy, which is but one strain, dominant in the American mind perhaps since the 1970s but conflated, with totalitarian temptations, with democracy itself. Could there not be (my question, not Legutko’s) a conservative democracy (Russia?), a state-capitalist democracy (China), a polytheistic democracy (India?)?

Second, Legutko observes that both socialism/communism and liberal democracy are utopias – and there, in that revenge against reality, lies the totalitarian temptation.

“Both communism and liberal democracy are regimes whose intent is to change reality for the better. They are – to use the current jargo – modernization projects. Both are nourished by the belief that the world cannot be tolerated as it is and that it should be changed: that the old should be replaced by the new [my emphasis]. Both systems strongly and – so to speak – impatiently intrude into the social fabric and both justify their intrusion with the argument that it leads to the improvement of the state of affairs by ‘modernizing’ it.”

Legutko, The demon in democracy

On freedom, and liberal democracy’s monopolistic claim to it, Legutko writes:

“liberalism was certainly not the only oreintation expressing the desire for freedom, nor was it particularly consistent in this devotion. The supporters of republicanism, conservatism, romanticism, Christianity, and many other movements also demanded freedom, and did a lot to advance its cause. If freedom as we understand it in Western civilization is not only an abstract value, but has a concrete shape well-grounded in institutions, social practices, then the contribution of liberalism is one of many, far from decisive.”

Legutko, The demon in democracy

Legutko is a man of faith, and I am not. His pathway out of the traps of utopianism. his resistance to the totalitarian temptations of socialism/communism and liberal democracy will not be mine. I am yet to read what his map to the future will be, although I suspect it surely must involve tolerating reality. But over coming weeks, as the liberal democratic Atlantis world succumbs to its madness and ratchets up the war against the World Island, Legutko may offer some virtues to endure the kaleidoscope of post-democratic societies that will emerge from the ruins of this World War of the Oligarchs.

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