There are a few snippets I’ve read over the last few days which can be tied together with a common thread. Firstly, Mikhail Khodorkovsky in the NYT:
The challenge facing democratically minded Russians therefore isn’t simply to remove Mr. Putin from power; it’s to replace the authoritarian system he personifies.
The whole piece is an American liberal’s wet dream of a country which has never seen proper democracy simply seeing the light and embracing the sort of society readers of the New York Times claim they want to see. This was the same idiotic thinking which got people believing if only we bombed the shit out of Iraq and got rid of Saddam Hussein, democracy would flourish. I don’t know if democracy and a free, tolerant society can take hold in Russia but if it does it must come from Russians themselves, preferably ones who aren’t former robber-barons who spent a decade in prison before fleeing abroad. I don’t agree with the conviction of Khodorkovsky, but I doubt he had much interest in turning Russia into a liberal, open society until he fell foul of the regime and the New York Times and their ilk started paying him to promote one. Simply stating Russia needs to move away from a centralised, authoritarian system is a bit like saying if only Israel dropped Judaism things would improve. You’d need a new population first.
The second is a comment from Bloke in North Dorset under yesterday’s post:
Going back to Tim’s point about the media, especially the BBC. Part of their problem is they have spent years carrying out the Buddhist equivalent of beatifying Aung San Suu Kyi and now she’s turned out be just like any other leader in the region who is more interested in power than human rights, especially those of minority Muslims.
There are a lot of people expressing their disappointment in Ms Suu Kyi , presumably for failing to leap to the aid of the Rohingyas. I expect those who are disappointed don’t know much about the Burmese or Asians in general, and those who do aren’t surprised in the least. I confess I don’t know much about Asians and nothing about Burmese, but in that part of the world one’s race or tribe counts for quite a lot. From what I can tell, Ms Suu Kyi’s original beef was with the ruling militia which was oppressing ordinary Burmese, and she wanted things to change – for the benefit of Burmese. Did she care about other minority groups out of adherence to some universal standards of human rights? In hindsight, obviously not. Alas, the wet lefties in the west who wrung their hands for years as Ms Suu Kyi languished under house arrest simply assumed she was just like them. Funnily enough, being Burmese and not American or European, she isn’t.
Thirdly, this news report from the BBC:
The EU’s top court has rejected a challenge by Hungary and Slovakia to a migrant relocation deal drawn up at the height of the crisis in 2015.
In asking the court to annul the deal, Hungary and Slovakia argued at the Court of Justice that there were procedural mistakes, and that quotas were not a suitable response to the crisis.
Officials say the problem is not of their making, that the policy exposes them to a risk of Islamist terrorism and that it represents a threat to their homogenous societies.
Their case was supported by Poland, where a right-wing government has come to power since the 2015 deal.
Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto was furious, calling it “appalling and irresponsible”. He vowed to use all legal means against the judgement, which he said was “the result of a political decision not the result of a legal or expert decision”.
“Politics has raped European law and European values. This decision practically and openly legitimates the power of the EU above the member states,” he said.
“The real fight starts now.”
In a milder statement, Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico said his country’s position on quotas also “does not change”.
The people and governments of Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia have made it abundantly clear that they do not want refugees from the Middle East and Africa being settled on their territory. The powers that be in Brussels deem this unacceptable, and wish to force these countries to take them.
The thread linking these three stories is the one whereby the ruling classes in the west seem to loftily assume that everyone else in the world is just like them, and if they aren’t then they should be. That western liberals are western liberals because they are products of the west’s liberal culture doesn’t seem to occur to them; they think people who are from wholly different cultures bound by very different histories and geography are the same, simply because they wish them to be.
As an attitude, it’s all rather 18th century colonial, isn’t it? Christian missionaries telling the natives to take the bone out of their nose and stop eating people would fit in well with today’s establishment classes.