The Truth and Beauty of Madrid and Lombardia (Down and Out)

Summary: The fate of Europe depends on many factors, not least on the support of the people in Europe’s periphery for the European Union. Today we have an excerpt from Truth & Beauty that gives an accurate picture of conditions in this pivotal region, with a comparison to Russia’s time of troubles.

“Labor reform means slavery”. AP photo by Emilio Morenatti


This is a follow-up to Social unrest coming to Europe? If not, why not?, 21 March 20013.


  1. A missing element in our world
  2. Down and Out In Madrid &  Lombardia
  3. About Truth & Beauty
  4. About the author
  5. For More Information about Russia


(1)  A missing element in our world

As the long economic crisis continues — with stability maintained in the developed nations only through unsustainable levels of fiscal and monetary stimulus — one barrier to change becomes ever more obvious: the lack of alternative ideas for organizing the political and economic machinery of society.  That is, finding new modes of social organization that are attractive to some combination of the our elites and the mass public.

Without new alternatives we might remain locked in a crisis with no exit. Our only hope lies with the eventual success of conventional economic policies — and the political apparatus that implements them. Or the ability of our societies to recover (ie, heal themselves), eventually.

To illustrate the abyss into which this has plunged the worst affected nations, today we have an excerpt from “A Hard Rain (’s a Gonna Fall)“, the April 5 issue of Truth & Beauty, by Eric Kraus and Alexander Teddy. They shine the clear light of common sense on the world, cutting through the fog of misinformation emitted by the western news media. This is reprinted with their generous permission.

(2)  Excerpt from T&BL “Down and Out – In Madrid and Lombardia”

T&B has been on the road in Southern Europe. We find nothing remotely encouraging to say – this year, not even the weather was significantly better than Moscow – and the employment situation far, far worse. If the situation were not so grim, there would be something funny about the governments of a continent in deep recession (or depression, in its South/ Western corner) lecturing Russia – with its slow–but positive growth and 5% unemployment – about the virtues of a liberal economic policy.

Perhaps surprisingly, nowhere in Europe is the popular mood one of rebellion or of any longing for a violent overthrow of the existing order – there is no Marxist revolution anywhere on the horizon; rather, one senses a quiet despair, escapism and cynical pessimism. Unemployment is endemic and systematic, in Spain and Portugal the unemployed do not even hope to find a job. People find ways to cope – the welfare state, the informal economy and family structures provide some support – but in terms of building a career, family and future, the prospects are grim.

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The Truth and Beauty about Russia

Summary: The inaccurate descriptions of Russia in the western media shows its fraudulent nature. Today we have an excerpt from Truth & Beauty that gives a more accurate picture of one the world’s three great powers.

Today we have an excerpt from the September 14 issue of Truth & Beauty, by Eric Kraus and Alexander Teddy. They shine the clear light of common sense on Russia, cutting through the fog of misinformation emitted by the western news media. This is “Through Western Eyes – Russia in the Media”, about the politics and economics of Russia. Reprinted with their generous permission.


  1. About Russia?  The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.
  2. Politics
  3. Economics
  4. About the author
  5. About Truth & Beauty
  6. For More Information about Russia


(1)  About Russia.  The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

Truth & Beauty is seen as a vehement supporter of Putin and a perennial Russian bull, perhaps blind to the failings of our adopted land. This is a half truth at best – yes, we firmly believe that the rise of Vladimir Putin was the best thing to have happened to Russia for the past millennium (not, overall a particularly good one – happily, the millennium now just getting underway appears far more promising…), however we are blind neither to his failings, nor to the weaknesses of the system which he has put into place.

(2)  Politics

T&B has never subscribed to democratic fundamentalism. Indeed, some of the main weaknesses of the current system may be due to an obsession with at least the outer trappings of Democracy, and thus, the failure to at least pass through a Chinese-style system with continuity provided by a reformed Party, with individuals replaced as necessary, without affecting the continuity of overall policy.

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The Truth and Beauty about the Pussy Riot

Summary: The Pussy Riot episode revealed much about Russia, and the coverage in the western media shows its fraudulent nature. Today we have an excerpt from Truth & Beauty that explains both.

Today we have an excerpt from the September 14 issue of Truth & Beauty, by Eric Kraus and Alexander Teddy. They shine the clear light of common sense on Russia, cutting through the fog of misinformation emitted by the western news media. This is “Through Western Eyes – Russia in the Media”, about the Pussy Riot girls — what this episode tells us about Russia, and about the western news media. Reprinted with their generous permission.

Pussy Riot in custody


  1. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  2. Blunder in the Cathedral
  3. Reporters Storm the Cathedral
  4. Political Implications: Vladimir Vladimirovich says “Thank You, Pμssies!”
  5. About the author
  6. About Truth & Beauty
  7. For More Information about Russia

(1) Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Nothing better illustrates the craven hypocrisy of Western coverage than the recent Pμssy Riot (PR) story; while it has received many hundreds of times the coverage it deserved, we cannot quite ignore it, given the indignant yelping of the tame Western media, as well as the truly extraordinary volume of political spin generated.

As an aside (and our personal feelings are here quite irrelevant) T&B feels sorry for them, as we feel sorry for almost anyone confined to a prison – from Bernie Madoff (with his medieval 150-year sentence for simple fraud) to the incarcerated PR provocateurs – but we feel sorry precisely as we would for someone who went looking for a gas-leak with a lighted match… it was not going to end at all well.

As is so often the case, what is interesting is not what it tells us about Russia (it is hardly a revelation that Russia remains a deeply conservative society, where the Church plays a role far greater than in secular Western Europe) but what it tells us about the West.

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A smart expatriate, Eric Kraus, gives a rant about the decline of the West

Summary:   As the saying goes, with distance comes perspective.  Eric Kraus writes from Russia about the decline of the West, a theme frequently discussed on the FM website — to which he brings some new insights. But the future will be what we make it.

“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”
— Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Meditations (c. 161 – 180)

“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.”
— Yoda, in The Empire Strikes Back

A Rant about the Decline of the West

From “The Fear Issue“, Eric Kraus and Alexander Teddy, Truth and Beauty, 18 July 2012. Reprinted with their generous permission.

At the end are links to other essays by Kruas, and more posts about the decline of the West.


The good news is that we have a ringside seat for the end of the world.  The bad news is that we are inside of the ring!

T&B – like at least our Western readers – chose to be born during a blessed era. War was something occurring in far-off places, experienced only on television or in the newspapers; hunger was a state to be actively desired in an era of plethora; poverty was nothing more devastating than the ownership of an old car or having to take the Tube to work – whilst for most of us, after breakfast in Paris, we might take lunch in Marrakesh or in Moscow – or dinner in Beijing.

In our dissipate youth T&B formed part of an empowered and confident rising bourgeoisie – the great Western middle-class. While the periodic financial crises struck us as quite fearsome, in fact they proved to be mere bear markets – momentary disruptions of the steady progression of mankind to a shining and secure future. Like citizens of Imperial Rome (or Soviet Moscow), we could not imagine a collapse of what seemed so solid, so stable – disregarding the fragility of a complex system subtended by a vital web of trading relationships, military force, financial flows, divisions of labour, and a socio-political organization combining compulsion with rewards, transforming economic wealth into political power. We can be forgiven for having missed the fragility of the system into which we were born – which thus seemed to us nothing more than the natural order of things.

By definition, the decline of any empire begins the morning after its apogee – the West almost certainly crested on the evening in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down. We can still hear History laughing at the prognostications of her demise; the sole great power came to imagine that its supremacy would fall outside the march of time – 20 years later, “History” is in ruddy good health!

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Question time on the FM website (plus The Week in Review)

Ask any question about geopolitics, broadly defined. We — and others reading the FM website — will attempt to answer it in the comments.   All answers welcomed!


  1. Questions received so far
  2. To start the discussion: articles of interest this week
  3. A disturbing fact to disturb this week’s sleep
  4. Quote of the week

(1)  Questions received so far

Click on the link to go directly to that thread.  Please use the REPLY button when replying to a previous comment, to keep threads together.

  1. Important:  What can Iran do in response to the assassinations and sabotage by the Israel-US alliance?
  2. Is the US economy in recovery — or intensive care?
  3. Why doesn’t Iran just make their case to the international community and wait. Brinksmanship is not the answer; time is on their side.
  4. Do you feel the proposed defense budget cuts are dangerous at this period of time?
  5. Which has more significance, the erosion of our civil liberties or our economic competitiveness? Based on that which is easier to rehabilitate?
  6. Why doesnt Iraq press the UN to tell the Coalition they have to pay reparations? A zillion dollar damage repair bill.
  7. Is this the best article of the week, a must-read for all Americans?

Also see this question, in thread #2:  Why can the Spain’s conservative party (the PP) get away with blaming the previous socialist government for Spain’s economic problems, when the PP ruled from 1996-2004 — when their problems took root and festered?  It’s a question relevent to the US as well.

(2)  To start the discussion:  articles of interest this week

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Something obvious about today’s world that’s seldom mentioned by our journalists

Summary:   We could publish a newspaper with nothing but old analysis that would tell us more about the world than does the New York Times, because our intelligensia has become lost in its myths — unable to see obvious trends in the world.  Here’s a brief example from the always insightful Eric Kraus (an American expat living in Russia, now publishing at his own website). 

In 2009 Eric Kraus discussed two obvious but as then seldom noted trends.  The passage of time has brought more examples, but few insights in America.

  1. Free elections in the emerging nations increasingly often empower anti-western leaders (Egypt may be the most recent example).  Our habit of overthrowing secular leaders in the Middle East (e.g., Afghanistan in 1992, Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011) might not benefit us.  Worse, the tide of history might not flow our way.
  2. Our increasingly interventionist foreign policy looks different on the receiving end.  It’s lasting consequences might be (a)  helping to bankrupt us and (b) fuel prolifferation of atomic weapons (see here for details).

“The Gods, too, Enjoy a Good Joke!”, Eric Kraus, Truth and Beauty, 1 July 2009 — Excerpt:

“Democracy” is well entrenched as the new panacea of right wing political rhetoric.  despite increasingly numerous counter-examples, i.e., electoral victories by political factions deeply inimical to the interests of the West — Hamas, Putin, Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Morales — the notion that, if given freedom to express themselves at the ballot box, the People will necessarily return a government embracing inter alia liberal capitalist values and a foreign policy aligned with North Atlantic interests remains deeply flattering to the West.

The Anglo-Saxon press, reliably the handmaidens to the dominant political ideology in their home countries, tends to choose its favoured uprising quite selectively.  the recent coups in Thailand may serve as a useful analogy to the Iranian situation, with a deep gap between a small vocal and Westernized urban middle-class, and a poor, deeply traditional countryside which does not Twitter, has no Facebook page, and feels as estranged from their urban cousins as from the denizens of Western suburbia.

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A view of the world from Russia

Valuable insights from a non-American perspective (an expat living in Russia):  “(Back) Under the Volcano” (1.3 MB PDF), Eric Kraus, Truth and Beauty, 24 May 2010 — Posted with permission.  Excerpt:

The frankly self-serving free-market orthodoxy, still taken as axiomatic by many in the financial industry, and which has recently acquired a status close to Holy Doctrine in much of the Anglo-Saxon world, implies at least one quasi-theological assumption – shared, oddly enough, by believers in the Earth Goddess Gaia, as well as by the wilder exponents of the organic foods movement: the assumption is the child-like faith that whatever is “natural4” is by definition “good”.

This can be a dangerous misconception. Both tetrodotoxin and botulism toxins are entirely natural; ingestion of even the tiniest speck will reliably cause death. Similarly, entirely “natural” financial montages can develop structural faults which very naturally lead to economic and thus political catastrophes blighting the lives of generations.

In Praise of Passivity?

One of the most pernicious intellectual sleights of hand of the Neoliberal/Austrian schools of economics is their attempt to ban the very discussion of the purpose of financial systems – i.e. whether or not any particular aspect of the market-economy actually benefits the people living in a given society, asserting instead that markets are natural phenomena which must be left to evolve freely, without any attempt at shaping or channelling them in the interests of “the greatest good for the greatest number.” Their standard assertion is that all attempts at regulation simply introduce inefficiencies, leading to a relative impoverishment of all, a claim that flies in the face of the most obvious evidence: 20th century economic history has seen the greatest increase in wealth in human history, attained during a period characterized by the ever-increasing weight of government.

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