Tag Archives: truth and beauty

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

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

Contents

  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

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(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.

Contents

  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

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(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

Contents

  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.

Introduction

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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A different perspective on the US and China, seen by an Frenchman living in Russia

One way to compensate for America’s broken connection to reality — our defective observation-orientation-decision-action loop (OODA loop) is to seek our different perspectives.  In that light I recommend reading this excerpt from “The Wheels of Heaven Stop“, Eric Kraus, Truth and Beauty, 12 March 2009.  For more information about these things see the links at the end.  {Correction:  the title originally described Kraus as an America; he is French}

The Twilight of The Neocons — Rush, we hardly knew ya…

The backlash against the Neocon power-grab is just beginning. The “Reagan revolution” is bankrupt. The United States is a democracy – and democracies do well to create at least the illusion of an equitable distribution of wealth. US government statistics show that earnings of the middle-classes actually regressed over the past “decade of prosperity” – whilst the richest segment of society indeed prospered as never before. As policy goes, this was both short-sighted and foolish. No matter how uneducated, manipulated or obtuse it may be, the populace will eventually realize what is being done to it and – when it has the means to rebel – will do so.

For the record, the failure was not of Capitalism, but with its abuse. Since the beginning of the 19th century, the advanced, industrialized countries have been moving towards some form of moderate Social Democracy, intended to combine the incentives of free market capitalism with some measure of social equity. Sharp deviations in either direction tend eventually to result in compensatory swings back in the other.

If T&B may venture a wild guess, it is that, by the beginning of Mr. Obama’s second term – i.e. well into Great Depression II, the body politic will be ready for some fairly radical policy measures. There is historic precedent – Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Flat Earth gets Rounder

The decline of the Post-War global political structure – which was based upon the overwhelming preponderance of the sole major power to exit the Second War not devastated but relatively strengthened – began not with a defeat but with a victory: the collapse of the Soviet Union. What was not clearly apprehended at the time was that history has no patience with monopolar political systems, and thus, that the collapse of the Communist Bloc signified the atomization of the erstwhile bi-polar world into a constellation of partially antagonistic powers and regions.

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A free lesson from Russia: how to manage a banking crisis

One of the saddest aspects of 21st America is our parochialism, esp in public policy.  We consider America the exemplar of best practices — sometimes along with the UK —  usually with little knowledge of the ROW (a revealing phrase, “rest of the world”).  Often global phenomena are seen purely as resulting from US developments, as if we are the dog and ROW the tail.

Often nations — each with their own problems — do things we can learn from, and often emulate.  Such as Russia’s response to its banking crisis, in the midst of a recession and currency crisis worse than our own (so far, at least).

For a brief description we turn to “Too Early to Tell“, Eric Kraus, Truth and Beauty, 15 January 2009, pp 17-18 — Russia shows how to handle a banking crisis.  Excerpt:

What Happened?

We readily acknowledge that we were taken by surprise by the havoc in the Russian economy. Russia had been motoring along quite nicely when it was suddenly blind-sided by the combination of a historic collapse in commodity prices and the sudden, radical drying up of all global credit. As Roland Nash put it:

“in August, Moscow hotels were packed with Western bankers desperate to lend to Russian corporations – by October, the same corporates could not even roll over their maturing credit lines.”

Similarly, while a 75% collapse in the price of the main export product would have seriously affected any commodity producer, the high export dependency of Russia increased said vulnerability. Given the combination of these two shocks, it is a testament to the quality of Russian macroeconomic policy adjustments that the crisis has not been far worse. …

The Autum of the Oligarch

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The evil of socialism approaches!

Summary:  Economic crisis … a leftist radical President … Can socialism be avoided, or is it our destined fate?  Perhaps these things are more complex than we usually imagine?  Here are some different perspectives on the danger.

1.  One of our elected leaders shows the way

Representative Barney Frank, on CNBC’s “Closing Bell”, 20 October 2008:

Speaking personally, I think there are a lot of very rich people out there whom we can tax at a point down the road and recover some of this money.   (source)

2.  Matthew Yglesias

Not that anything about the current “socialism” rhetoric is meant to be taken seriously, but isn’t the closest thing to socialism on the American policy agenda the status quo situation in Sarah Palin’s Alaska? You have collective ownership of valuable natural resources that generates lots of revenue for the state, and then the government makes “spreading the wealth around” through the Permanent Fund, etc. its main priority.

It’s actually, for all the flaws of Alaska politics and public policy, a pretty good system. But I think the best way to think about it is that it’s an example of a somewhat special case in which socialism is a good idea.

Of course another time where you need a dose of socialism is if, for example, there’s a financial system emergency and the government needs to partially nationalize large banks in order to recapitalize them. But that’s been brought to us by George W. Bush with the support of John McCain.

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