Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fair to Russia? (now, with new Postscript)

There was a time when Late Great Planet Earth prognostications about the End of the World envisaged Russia (then "Soviet Union") as the prophesied forces of Gog and Magog pouring down Armageddonically on Israel from the north, like the wolf on the fold. Well, perhaps the geography was a little out, as so far we only have Russia bearing down on parts of Syria.

Anyway, in these here posts and comments, there has been interesting discussion from time to time about Russia, Putin, and whether we in the West properly and accurately understand Russian interests, concerns and history.

Thus, as we move closer to the Day of Trump (Inauguration) it may be relevant to read this analysis by Victor Davis Hanson. Is he too tough on Obama? Does he "get" Russia? Have we in the West overlooked the longer history of Russia and its neighbours as variously allies and enemies as an explanation of Russian (seeming) aggression?

It would be a pity for the world to end because we have engaged in wilful misunderstanding!


For those concerned at the dangers of neoliberalism, this Tweet may be useful to your argument :)


Andrei said...

A fine example of American hubris you have linked to there Peter

Neither Russia nor China will be dictated to the way the author believes they should be

Of course this nonsense about Russian hacking and the Trump dossier are diversions to get the American people to look away from what the people in Washington have been doing and also an attempt by the outgoing administration to tie Donald Trumps hands viz a viz improving relations with Russia.

The USA is having a mental breakdown IMHO

Listen to an adult talk and consider he is not speaking in his mother tongue

Anonymous said...

Always been a fan of Victor Davis Hanson.

"Is he too tough on Obama?"

Not remotely.

I agree with Trump that we need to seek a partnership with Russia and Putin and work hard to lower tensions between Russia and the West. But this must be done from a position of strength, not weakness, and with due consideration that some of Russia's neighbours have historical reasons for concern about Russian aggression, notably Poland and the Baltics.

It's a balancing act, one which Obama failed badly to get right.

I just thank God Hillary did not win, or we really would be staring down the barrel of WW3. Her hatred of Putin, arising from her liberal/progressive/globalist world view, would certainly have led the US into a military confrontation with Russia.

Brendan McNeill said...


“Is he too tough on Obama?”

No, Obama was an idealist, an academic, a liberal, an Islamic sympathizer, a moralizer, and dare I say a narcissist? His eight years in office are perhaps best characterized by 300 days of golf, a recent round with Tiger Woods costing the tax payer USD$2.0M in security arrangements.

He was opposed to gay marriage before he was for it, he went on to champion gender identity and gender fluidity to the extent of threatening States that refused to comply with his radical sexual agenda. He championed political correctness throughout his administration and imposed its precepts upon the military, forcing out those generals who opposed his edicts. He issued a Presidential pardon to corporal Manning, a US soldier convicted of treason and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Who believes Obama would have done this if Manning was not a self described transgender?

He was a man wholly unsuited to the office of President, whose legacy will be like that of Carter’s, remembered as one of the worst America has endured.

Apart from that, he was great.

Rhys said...

See recent Guardian article on Obama's attitude to Israel - "Obama’s actual record over his eight years in office makes him one of the most pro-Israeli American presidents since Harry S Truman. Obama has given Israel considerably more money and arms than any of his predecessors. He has fully lived up to America’s formal commitment to preserve Israel’s “qualitative military edge” by supplying his ally with ever more sophisticated weapons systems. His parting gift to Israel was a staggering military aid package of $38bn for the next 10 years. This represents an increase from the current $3.1 to $3.8bn per annum. It is also the largest military aid package from one country to another in the annals of human history".

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Rhys and Brendan
I think Obama will, in fact, go down as a great President (though not the greatest).
Yes, he has been liberal in ways many have not liked, but he never hid those liberal credentials when he was being elected and the Republicans made a great deal of his links to Saul Alinsky, to no avail.
He has done good (as Rhys notes) while often headlining more for the odd or bad decisions he has made (e.g. many concerning the Middle East).
I think the most objective "black mark" against him has been - as observers are observing - the general run down of numbers of elected Democrats over the past eight years.
Nevertheless he has been superb as an exemplary human being and he and Michelle and their daughters have graced the White House in multiple ways, unlike his Democrat predecessor.
History tends to be kind to US presidents. Reagan is now of fond memory and the various scandals re arms running are forgotten in people's nostalgia for him.
There is a lot of potential in Trump's presidency to make people very nostalgic for Obama!

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Speaking of Obama you said:

“He has been superb as an exemplary human being and he and Michelle and their daughters have graced the White House in multiple ways.”

I suspect most Americans expect more from their President than having a functional family.

Does the deliberate extra judicial killing of Americans abroad without trial allow him to be described as an ‘exemplary human being’? How about authorising more than 300 drone strikes in Pakistan, a so called American ally, resulting in more than 2,000 dead and hundreds injured many of whom were innocent civilians. Does that allow for such a description?

And as for supporting Israel, his administration through John Kerry was responsible for the most recent UN condemnation of Israel, which to our great shame we were initiators. You cannot have a two-state solution when one does not acknowledge the right of the other to exist. And, his so called ‘deal’ with Iran will allow them to obtain nuclear weapons unless Israel acts unilaterally to prevent it. In other words, he has made war between Israel and Iran more likely.

The only time I can recall Obama addressing Christians directly was once to condemn us over the Crusades and to chastise us a second time for our lack of love. His administration has done nothing to reduce the suffering of persecuted Christians anywhere, and has deliberately chosen not to make them a priority as refugees of war from the Middle East.

On the other hand, when it comes to Islam…

We can thank God his days are over.

Anonymous said...

"I think Obama will, in fact, go down as a great President"

Faith is a virtue Peter, but faith with no grounding in reality? ;)

"Yes, he has been liberal in ways many have not liked, but he never hid those liberal credentials"

Arguable. He campaigned as far more centrist than he actually governed.

"I think the most objective "black mark" against him has been - as observers are observing - the general run down of numbers of elected Democrats over the past eight years."

ISIS? The Syria and Libya debacles which created the migrant crisis and brought multiple terror attacks to Europe? Multiple terrorist attacks on US soil? Anti-white race baiting? Rapidly deteriorating race relations? Anti-police rhetoric? The apology tour of Islamic countries? Attacks on Christian liberty? Attacks on Catholic adoption agencies, hospitals, and religious orders because he wanted to force abortion and gay rights on them? Trillions of dollars of debt? A country far more divided than when he assumed office?

Now yes I'm biased, but I think it's reasonable to say that the objective black marks against him make for a rather long list.

History has not been kind to Jimmy Carter, and his record looks good by comparison to Obama's.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn and Brendan
Yes there are many things to discuss about Obama and his policies (or lack of) but I stand by my claim that the most objective complaint concerns the identifiable loss of Democrats at state and federal level.

Other matters you raise are much more arguable. Just to take two: (1) the rise of ISIS: we can say it rose more because of Obama but we cannot say it would not have risen even if his policy was different and better. ISIS is a very strange, perverse, beast. (2) drone strikes: extra-judicial killings, yes; but arguably they involved the US in policing the world without having to engage in full scale warfare (risking US soldiers' lives).

So, to be clear: many shortcomings to Obama's leadership, but I think the most objective one is the loss of his Democrat brothers and sisters from state and federal legislatures. Not least this is a huge problem because it likely means the overturning of his signature pieces of legislation.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Most importantly there is the elitist utopian globalist agenda in which Obama has willingly participated. Steve Bannon was recently quoted by David Brooks in the NYTimes as follows:

“Once there was a collection of Judeo-Christian nation-states, Bannon argued, that practiced a humane form of biblical capitalism and fostered culturally coherent communities. But in the past few decades, the party of Davos — with its globalism, relativism, pluralism and diversity — has sapped away the moral foundations of this Judeo-Christian way of life.

Humane capitalism has been replaced by the savage capitalism that brought us the financial crisis. National democracy has been replaced by a crony-capitalist network of global elites. Traditional virtue has been replaced by abortion and gay marriage. Sovereign nation-states are being replaced by hapless multilateral organizations like the E.U.

Decadent and enervated, the West lies vulnerable in the face of a confident and convicted Islamofascism, which is the cosmic threat of our time.”

To be sure, Obama was not responsible for all of this, but he was a significant cheerleader for these policies during his eight years in office. It’s arguable how effective Trump will be in changing this trajectory, but unlike Obama he will not be pushing America or the west forward in that direction.

Andrei said...

"...but I stand by my claim that the most objective complaint concerns the identifiable loss of Democrats at state and federal level."

What about the tripling of US Government debt to an eye watering $21 trillion Peter

Or the American military being chased out of Yemen, where they had been conducting a secret, dirty war and illegal against the local population, with their tails between their legs? The response, get their Saudi Allies to make war on Yemen which is still ongoing

And what happened to Libya is one of the great crimes in history - they wantonly trashed that Nation and apart from securing the oil facilities just walked away

Libya was a turning point, Russia and China have said no more - which is why Vladimir Putin is loathed by these monsters and monsters they are

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
Bannon talks crap, and rubbish, all at the same time!
Those Judeo-Christian nation states produced, oh, let us see, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, as well as creating the conditions for Germany to advance WW1 and for Russia to be so sick that the Communists relatively easily took it over.
There was no "humane form of biblical capitalism" at work when those Judeo-Christian nation states pursued slavery as a means of production and sent tiny children up chimneys and down mineshafts. More or less simultaneously that same benign capitalism permitted only the property owning classes to vote in elections.
Capitalism has many benefits but it has always been subject to manipulation by the greedy. That has been so in nation-states and in larger groupings of nations.
Global capitalism has been beset by the GFC (for which, see above re greed) but it has also contributed hugely to reduction poverty around the globe.
We imperil the global network of exchange of goods and labour at our peril (especially down her Down Under).
I could go on, but one final point is to note that the EU is not "hapless." It has many problems, yes, but that is not the same as hapless. Having had the privilege a year or so ago of doing some travelling in Europe I applaud the freedom of movement between EU countries and I also verify that nothing the EU has done has stopped the French being, well, French, and the Flemish, being well, Flemish.
There are many problems in the world, and Bannon touches on some of them, but his analysis of the past, present and future in terms of what went right/wrong and what would solve current problems is both crap and rubbish.

Andrei said...

"...and for Russia to be so sick that the Communists relatively easily took it over"

Lol - the Russian Civil war lasted for over four years and was very bloody

And one thing that helped the triumph of the Reds was the British, Americans and Poles among others all sent armies to Russia to fight the Reds an action which drove many to join the Reds

Peter Carrell said...

History may judge me to be completely wrong, Andrei.
But aren't each of the examples you cite complicated?
Wasn't there British complicity in Libya as well?
(Don't know much about Yemen)
The debt: well, whoever was going to be President after the GFC was going to face that crisis with limited options in doing so. Enlarging the debt could have happened under Romney, could it not?
And Paul Krugman was forever arguing that Obama should have borrowed even more ...

Andrei said...

"Wasn't there British complicity in Libya as well?"

Yes there was, the idea was originally French, Nicolas Sarkozy championed it and David Cameron jumped right on board, Obama to be fair was initially dubious but Hillary Clinton was a huge fan and brought him around

Peter Carrell said...

I had not forgotten the civil war, Andrei, when I wrote "relatively easily"!

Anonymous said...


"Those Judeo-Christian nation states produced, oh, let us see, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy,"

They were not the norm, and in the history of the West, a brief period of less than thirty years. This is the kind of historical reductionist approach fashionable with Leftist academics, but it's hardly a reasonable or accurate view of Western history.

"There was no "humane form of biblical capitalism" at work when those Judeo-Christian nation states pursued slavery as a means of production and sent tiny children up chimneys and down mineshafts."

And those Judeo-Christian nations also produced the end of slavery and social reforms. Reductionist history again.

"Global capitalism has been beset by the GFC (for which, see above re greed) but it has also contributed hugely to reduction poverty around the globe."

Global capitalism CAUSED the GFC. The GFC was made possible by unrestrained global capitalism. It was not "beset" by it at all. It was the root cause.

"but one final point is to note that the EU is not "hapless."

No, it's a fascist nightmare. It's policies are produced by people who have not been elected and have no democratic accountability. The EU Parliament does not make the laws, only rubber stamps them. Those laws are made by people who have never, at any point, in any way, been chosen by the people they rule. It's a fascists wet dream, and polls show most people in the EU are not impressed.

"I applaud the freedom of movement between EU countries"

Islamic terrorists are certainly enjoying it. The man who ran a truck into a crowd in Germany was able to get from there to Italy in only a few days, with no border control to stop him. Every single Islamic terrorist responsible for an attack in Europe used the lack of border control to get into Europe, and/or to move about freely.

"We imperil the global network of exchange of goods and labour at our peril"

The millions of Americans in the Rustbelt who, until Trump was elected, who watched their manufacturing jobs gutted and destroyed, or moved to Mexico and China, and as a result were suffering grinding poverty, likely have a different point of view. For the first time in US history they were poorer than their parents and grandparents. Their children had nothing to hope for, and are taking up meth addiction to a point that has become a national crisis.

Your globalist fantasies are in reality a blood soaked nightmare. Bannon by comparison is talking complete sense.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Goodness, that was a strong reaction – tiny children up chimneys and down mineshafts…

The point you missed from Bannon’s commentary is:

a) We in the west have inherited a culture based upon the rule of law, private property, market economies, enforceable contracts and a system of government that is a product, at least in part of a 1,000 years of Judeo-Christian thinking and practice.

b) We have squandered that heritage for a bowel of utopian humanist pottage.

c) Our new religion of tolerance, diversity and inclusion has insufficient substance to defend us against a militant and determined enemy.

However terrible you believe capitalism and market economies to be, and however corrupt they have become (and they have been corrupted) Obama has done nothing to correct them, or to uphold the Christian values and traditions that were handed to him when taking office. Quite the opposite in fact, he has campaigned actively against them.

Can you name any president that has done more than Obama to repudiate Biblical virtue in the public square?

Andrei said...

"relatively easily"

If a conflict that cost over 3,000,000 lives is "relatively easily" then human life must be extremely cheap

Perhaps there is a deeper point here - the loss of life and human suffering in Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Syria doesn't touch us or affect our thinking. It is all abstract

We hear more about Syrian suffering because the war is not going the way the West wants it to go there and the Government is regaining control over its lands

And with Russia, the subject of this post, it is de-personified and it is forgotten that 150,000,000 souls live there - each individual with their own hopes, dreams and aspirations looking to their leaders to provide a safe environment where they can raise their kids with a hope for a great future

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn
I may have been successful at being "reductionist" and "leftist" without trying.
Let me put things slightly differently: Bannon espouses a naive and idealist view of nation-states and Judeo-Christian capitalism.
I want to put a realist view of both that approach and of globalism: both are flawed both have contributed wonderfully to humanity's growth in material and physical well-being.
I do stand by "greed" as causative of the GFC: if subrpime mortgages etc had not failed in the States we might not have had the GFC.
I also note that while the GFC has been working its way out, a lot of global trading has continued and countries have benefitted (including, well, NZ!)
The "rustbelt" situation in the States absolutely has contributed to the vote for Trump but let's see if he can actually improve things rather than talking about improving them.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
Last time I looked a lot of capitalism was going along quite fine among people without a Judeo-Christian heritage (e.g. many Asian nations). (By which I do not mean "perfectly.")
I think you are mixing up Obama the leader who forwarded the progressive cause on a number of matters and the general state of nations and conglomerates of nations which have a Judeo-Christian heritage.
Obama may have squandered that heritage but others were undermining it before him and it would be an amazing irony if Trump the, er, more married than me-and-Obama combined man were to restore the loss!
As to the general state of the Judeo-Christian heritage, this too is somewhat vexed. For example, keen Roman and Anglican Catholic theologians (notably Milbank) in Europe are very keen on the EU as representing the unity-of-humanity which the gospels espouse while other, perhaps more Protestant theologians are very happy to see the EU break up.

The EU's problems, remember, re terrorism, lie at its external borders. The free movement of people within the Eu is no different to the free movement of people across the states of the USA.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
I do not mean to cheapen the value of anyone's life.
The larger point is that if the Russian monarchy was going well there would have been no seedbed for revolution.
It was not going well for many Russians and that enabled the Communists to ferment revolution and then cement the Bolshevik part of that movement in place.
I think "relatively easily" still applies, even with 3 million deaths: such a large and populous country, with such great diversity of peoples within it, could easily have engaged in a never ending civil war with countless more deaths over many more years.

Anonymous said...

On the issue of humane capitalism, I understand what Steve Bannon is getting at. I have been reading Bannon's views for a couple of years now, so unlike Peter I am familiar with his thinking, and what he is likely referring to. He is not talking about Victorian capitalism, but about the post-WW2 consensus that lasted for about a quarter of a century. His use of the term is likely a reference to Wilhelm Ropke's book 'The Humane Economy' Ropke was one of the architects of the post-war German economic model. The idea is similar in some respects to the Third Way view that was fashionable a while back.

In a simplified nutshell, the post WW2 consensus delivered a form of humane capitalism that allowed enough market freedom to deliver economic growth, but was tempered by enough government intervention, and, at the time, a sustainable welfare system, to mitigate the effects of unrestrained capitalism and finance. It allowed for international trade, but with limits and protections for workers and the middle class. As I said, knowing Bannon's thinking, I know this is what he is talking about. The model in question that he has in mind delivered real prosperity for two generations at least.

Several things brought that consensus to and end, with fault for that on both the Left and the Right. On the Left, continued expansion of the welfare state, well beyond its original intentions, led to it it becoming unsustainable, and the loss since the 1960's of traditional moral values, led to lifestyles that contributed to welfare becoming both morally destructive and financially untenable. The rapid growth if single motherhood being one example. On the Right, the adoption, contra I believe to a genuine conservatism, of neo-liberal global capitalism put the nail in the coffin.

Moreover, changes in the mid 60's and 70's to immigration also contributed to the models decline. Previously immigration had been limited, sustainable, and had placed a strong emphasis on integration. When mass immigration became the norm, and then multiculturalism, the mixed economy/welfare state was overwhelmed.

All in all, radical globalisation has been a disaster on many fronts. The gutting of manufacturing and working class jobs in the US is just one example. The root causes of the GFC have not been dealt with, and another crisis, likely one far worse, is on the cards. New Zealand's economy is being propped up by over-dependence on China, and by unsustainable levels of immigration. The housing crisis is a direct result of the latter. Our relative success over the last years, under both National and the Clark government, is a chimera, hiding serious structural problems that are not being dealt with. And of course, the insane notion of open borders and the free movement of peoples has brought a wave of terrorism to the West, and a growing underclass of Muslims hostile to their host nations.

Bannon is looking back at the post-war "humane capitalism" consensus, based on a mixed economy within sovereign nation states that had control over their borders and economies, and saying, rightly, that we have taken a wrong turn.

And the majority of people in the West agree, and are delivering their agreement at the ballot box.

A rejection of unrestrained global capitalism and open borders does not mean isolationism. It means national capitalism, a mixed economy, fair trade that benefits workers, and not just bankers and global corporations, and immigration that is sustainable, and not a national security threat, or a threat to national and cultural identity.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn
That is helpful clarification (thank you).
I have no argument with "sustainable immigration."
Ironically a number of nations such as the USA and Great Britain have that with respect to the likes of many Kiwis - it is tough to get a visa etc to be able to migrate to such countries. But the inability to control other streams of migrants has been a problem (to say nothing of the specific "openings" in Europe of the past couple of years).
I think it is a bit harder to quantify and describe how post-1950s economies ought to work work well with high employment, low dependence on other economies, and as little taxpayer subsidising of government chosen industries. It was before the neoliberal era, for example, that the capitalism Bannon is talking about tanked with the huge inflation of the 1970s. Indeed I subscribe to the view that neoliberalism has been driven as much if not more by fear of such inflation ever arising again as by any ideology about globalism.

Anonymous said...

"I want to put a realist view of both that approach and of globalism"

On both globalism and Islamic terrorism, I have yet to see anything "realist" in your views. Superficial denialism yes, but not realism.

"The "rustbelt" situation in the States absolutely has contributed to the vote for Trump but let's see if he can actually improve things rather than talking about improving them."

The Rustbelt situation was caused by the global capitalism you espouse, and Trump has already delivered a great deal, before he is even sworn in. Numerous corporations have announce plans to re-invest in the US because of his election, and several have changed plans to build in Mexico as a result of Trump publicly shaming them.

He has done this in a matter of weeks. This is evidence that he can deliver, and is delivering.

"The EU's problems, remember, re terrorism, lie at its external borders."

Which are porous due to the ideology of globalism you espouse, and the problem is also internal, due to the Islamic immigration you also espouse.

I honestly think there are far more serious problems with your stated ideology than you are willing to admit.

Andrei said...

Peter - the Russian revolution and subsequent civil war happened in the context of WW1 and a famine caused by three years of war and agriculture being neglected as a result of manpower shortages along Russia's enemies fomenting revolution and in so doing taking Russia out of WW1 - Lenin was in Switzerland during WW1 but when turmoil arose in Russia the Germans transported him there in a sealed train

I think you will find if you look into it the same revolutionary ideas were also prevalent in the trenches of the British and French armies but were successfully contained

WW1 was the collapse of an old order and the new order arose after WW2
And IMHO what we are witnessing, living through is the collapse of that order

PNAC (Project for a new American Century) is a globalist idea that wants to see the USA remaining dominant for through the 21st century but the West is dying

Russia and China are rising and threaten that dominance and have a different concept of how things should be ordered and will not be subservient to Washington

The USA still thinks in terms of "gunboat diplomacy" but that wont work against Russia or China. Carrier groups are effective against small poor countries but they wont last five minutes if a major war breaks out and cannot be used against the Russian or Chinese heartlands

Who knows how this is going to play out but the world is changing and the rules are changing

Anonymous said...

Peter, as I am aware that this kind of faceless forum for debate can lead to misunderstanding, due to the lack of face to face communication, please don't take my responses to your views as anything other than very friendly debate, strong debate yes, but I'm aware that my words sometimes look angrier or more personal than I intend.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Shawn

Good point around 'tone' and perceptions of our posts. Mine also can appear to be somewhat harsher than I would intend in a normal conversation. It comes in part because words are of necessity limited in an exchange like this, and the desire to 'get to the essence' of the argument with economy of language.

I too wish to signal my good will towards Peter and all who spend time posting here.

Peter, I sometimes think you must be a secret masochist - making posts that contain an obvious line or two that will attract commentary from those like myself who feel almost duty bound to correct what appears to be such an obvious misconception!

And, it's not like I'm in a minority. We are just queuing up to help re-educate you!

And yet you still persist....

Perhaps you should post something more in line with Shawn, Andrei and my thinking and drag your silent progressive, liberal socialist readers out of their apathy.... :-)


Anonymous said...

The reality is that this debate is now largely academic. The globalist project of a single world economy, with free movements of people, is dead in the water. The GFC, the migrant crisis, and ongoing terrorism have killed it off. Within the EU the free movements of people is gone. Nations within the EU are already re-asserting control of their borders.

In the US Trump is the President and no amount of hysterical outrage and conspiracy mongering from the Dems is going to change that. In the UK Theresa May has just announced that Britain will be fully and totally leaving both the EU and the single market. Brexit will be total. In Germany the nationalist 'Alternative For Germany' party is snapping at the heels of Merkel, forcing her to change tack and make policy reversals. In Holland, after the elections in March Geert Wilder's nationalist 'Freedom Party' will be the largest party in the Dutch parliament. And in France both the leading contenders for President, Fillon and le Pen, are committed to ending free movement and re-asserting French control over their borders and radically reducing immigration.

Davos Man has lost.

Peter Carrell said...

Andrei: we are at a change of era and I agree about carrier forces!

Shawn and Brenda re tone, robustness of debate: no problem at all. I never felt this was getting out of line. (I have been able to engage today 'cos of a bit of time but there will be other days where I won't "bite" ... but will be tempted to do so.

Shawn: you could well be right - the next set of European elections will be very interesting to watch. Even today I saw a heading, somewhere, that Merkel is going to send Syrians back when the war is over.

Generally: I think there is more to the "neoliberal" project than meets the eye but I am well aware that it is much critiqued from the left and from the right!

Andrei said...

For those concerned at the dangers of neoliberalism, this Tweet may be useful to your argument :)

That is called chartmanship Peter - it is about as significant as a Popeye cartoon but good for rallying the troops.

I doubt it would do much to cheer up the citizens of Saana

Andrei said...

Meanwhile in Tula, a city that withstood the German advance in 1941 and did not fall it is Epiphany

Peter Carrell said...

It may be chartmanship, Andrei, and it is likely difficult to prove that neoliberalism and neoliberalism alone has improved the lot of humankind in the past few decades, and it is meaningless to the citizens of Saana, but it does make the point that neoliberalism might not be the "bad boy" ideology that many routinely make it out to be, especially when they say its a bad boy because of inequality.

BrianR said...

Ah, the perils of having to work through the day (and evening): I missed this lively debate!
I have learned a good deal through this robust exchange of views and would only add these snippets;

1. Frankly, a great deal of what Obama signified was simply to do with his skin colour - and he traded heavily on that biological fact. After billing himself as a 'postracial candidate', he (and Biden) proceeded to put race up front and centre in their identity politics.
2. And yet the position of black Americans frankly looks no better to me 8 years later and maybe worse. Poverty, food stamps use and black imprisonment rates look as high as ever, maybe worse. Obama's legacy will be linked to Trayvon Martin ('If I had a son, he would have looked like him') - what is that but race baiting? - and the dreadful 'Black Lives Matter' business of organised rioting against the police - many of them black themselves. The sad truth is that the catastrophe of the black family is a cultural problem that doesn't really have a political solution. Years ago ex-Democrat Michael Novak and before him Democrat Daniel Moynihan put their fingers on the problem - and the way out.
3. Obama has always been haughty and disdainful of orthodox Christianity which I am sure he does not understand. Why should he? His upbringing was entirely Muslim or secular and his only experience of church was through the unhinged Jeremiah Wright. Obama's war on Catholic adoption agencies in the name of homosexuality, his abortion absolutism and his crusade to bring in 'transgender' loos in American schools should make any Christian shake his or her head in dismay. I do not know what his own religious beliefs are - most probably he is an agnostic, like Dukakis. Obama's narcissistic belief in himself - his skin colour, Arabic name and paternity - led him to believe he would somehow sort out the Middle East. His legacy: a total mess from Morocco to Pakistan. Bullying of black African Christians over homosexuality. Libya in chaos - with help from Cameron and Sarkozy, whom he generously blamed for screwing it up. The Muslim Brotherhood's reign of terror in Egypt. The rise of ISIS on Iraq. And so on and so on. And he even managed to put the boot into Israel on the way out - having failed to overthrow Netanyahu, as well as having failed to prevent Brexit in the UK (Cameron flew him in to sort out the rubes).
Does have cool? You bet? A Hollywood A lister? Absolutely. A golfer? Lots of practice there. As for what really counts ...

Anonymous said...

"especially when they say its a bad boy because of inequality."

Inequality is a fact of life no matter what economic system we have. I do think some economic systems or mixtures are better at mitigating the extremes of inequality than others, but some degree will always be a reality.

My main problem with neoliberalism is not inequality, but that it has no sense of loyalty to anything other than profit. So my critique is not a utilitarian one, but one based on values. After God, a person's loyalty should be to one's family and kin first, then to the nation. The only economy I can assent to is one that reflects those loyalties. Utilitarian concerns about economic efficiency don't impress me for that reason.

The economy exists to serve the well being of the family first, then the nation. I don't care how technically efficient an economic system may be. If does not serve family and nation, it has no value. It has no honour.

Anonymous said...

"So, to be clear: many shortcomings to Obama's leadership, but I think the most objective one is the loss of his Democrat brothers and sisters from state and federal legislatures. Not least this is a huge problem because it likely means the overturning of his signature pieces of legislation."

Since the Second World War, Peter, both parties have tended to lose more congressional and state elections the longer they hold the White House. Although great, the magnitude of the Democratic losses during Barack Obama's tenure has not been unusual.

Democrats did lose 39 House seats under Obama. But Ronald Brownstein puts this in perspective-- "Parties almost always lose ground elsewhere while they hold the White House. In two-term presidencies since World War II, the incumbent president’s party lost more House seats than Democrats did with Obama under Bill Clinton (54), George W. Bush (45), and Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford (44). The president’s party lost the same number of seats as Obama did under John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson (39) and fewer seats under Dwight Eisenhower (26). Senate losses exceeded Obama’s under Bush (14), Eisenhower (11), Kennedy and Johnson (8), and Clinton (6), while Republicans gained two senators under the Nixon and Ford administrations."

"Obama lost fewer governorships than presidents’ parties surrendered under Kennedy and Johnson (15) and the Nixon and Ford administrations (13)—and lost more than under Eisenhower, Clinton, and Bush (nine each). Only in lost state legislative seats (850) did Obama significantly exceed any of these predecessors, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures."

Interestingly, the one modern president who did not preside over such losses was Ronald Reagan. Why? Some would say that this was because his positive effect on party-building at every level immunized the GOP to the usual losses. Others would say that his warm, genial demeanor gave the electorate little desire to vote against him. Democrats today presumably hope that the latter explanation is true.

Bowman Walton

Andrei said...

"The economy exists to serve the well being of the family first, then the nation. I don't care how technically efficient an economic system may be. If does not serve family and nation, it has no value. It has no honour."

Well said Shawn

All this ivory tower stuff looses sight of real flesh and blood people with real concerns.

I see Barack Obama on his way out carried out a heavy duty bombing of Libya using B2 Bombers

According to the American media American bombs hit ISIS Training camps whereas Russian bombs unerringly head for children's hospitals

Funny old world

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Re your update. OXFAM are driven by a discredited hard left ideology. Graeme Heart, one of the two NZ individuals whose wealth they recently railed against started out in business selling rolls of fax paper from his garage.

I started out in business running a webhosting company from a converted woodshed attached to my house.

Does OXFAM report on the generosity of those with incredible wealth? Bill Gates for example? Do they report that global poverty as defined by those living on $2.00 per day or less has halved over the last 30 years?

Surely we need more wealthy people, not fewer.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brenda
I saw a formula recently (but can't recall where) which pointed out that Oxfam would take 100s years at its current rate of fund-raising to be able to give away as much money as Bill Gates has done.

Their arguments make great headlines. That is all. Hart's wealth won't be cash in a cheque account but assets=businesses. Does it make any difference to the poor whether 100 businesses are owned by one person or by 100 people?

The crucial question of the age is not who is richer than whom (I imagine you and I between us are wealthier than 3 billion fellow inhabitants of our planet) but whether the poorest among us are becoming less poor. The graph suggests that "poverty", thankfully, ain't what it used to be.

Rosemary Behan said...

The Tower of Babel
1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” 5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” 8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

Andrei said...

Peter it is not just how much money you "donate".

It is what it is spent on and what strings are attached

Belinda Gates for example is really into "family planning" and not very interested in providing sewerage systems and clean running water to Kibera as well as training the people to maintain these systems on an ongoing basis, which might be money better spent.

Family planning is sexy among the globalist elites, working sewerages systems not so much

Peter Carrell said...

Indeed, Andrei.
I have no idea but I wonder if Oxfam and Melinda Gates would share similar views re worthy causes?

Andrei said...

I'll give you an example Peter

In the early 2000s George W Bush pledged $150 million dollars to fight AIDs in Africa

In New York, San Francisco and Washington AIDs is a high profile disease and a lot, the bulk perhaps of that money would end up in the Bank accounts of American drug companies

The average American wouldn't question the worthiness of this program

But Manto Tshabalala-Msimang who was South Africa's minister of Health at the time, a doctor who had worked in South Africa all her professional life knew better - South Africans didn't need expensive AIDs drugs, it needed drugs to treat TB, malaria, bilharzia and so forth, diseases not on the radar of Manhattan liberals

And she along with President Thabo Mbeki articulated this vociferously

And boy did they get stick for this - read their wikipedia entries they are hard core hit pieces

They did achieve something though George W Bush's program was amended to include TB and Malaria

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

Meditating on Proverbs 18:2. And praying for those who do not. Wishing the President-Elect godspeed in a difficult job that never goes as expected. Hoping that you will get back to Anglicanism etc some day.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

"The crucial question of the age is not who is richer than whom"

I agree Peter. This is the problem I have with the focus on the gap between rich and poor and the hand wringing in certain circles and the media that goes with it. It misses the point entirely.

Anonymous said...

On an entirely different note I finished Michael Horton's 'For Calvinism' and no, I'm not convinced. At too many points it seems to impose it's theology on Scripture, rather than allowing Scripture to determine theology. To take one example, limited atonement. To me a plain reading of Scripture affirms that Christ died for the sins of the whole world.

"He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:2

Calvinists believe He dies only for the sins of the elect. Horton tries to get around this by claiming that the "whole world" means the elect from all nations, but that to me is not a plain or natural reading of the text above.

On this and a few other issues I got the sense that Sola Scriptura was being replaced with Sola Calvinism.

Anyway, I thought I would inject a little theology into the blog, given the predominance of politics lately! ;)

Peter Carrell said...

I agree with you Shawn.
I could never be a Calvinist and (so far) the most significant reason/shortfall concerns the "L" in TULIP!

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; isn't the "L" just realistic. God already knew for whom he was dying. It was potentially the whole world, but God already knows who is.


Jean said...

A lot of very broad subjects being contended....

I am sure the link with neoliberalism with oxfam's tweet was more an attempt contrasting subjects held in opposition to gain the shock factor than any true attempt at co-relation for publicities sake. I personally don't think neoliberalism and a decrease in the markers of the poverty index have an awful lot in common since the later's existence extends a lot further back in history. It is fantastic that the % of people living in poverty has decreased worldwide. It is also good to keep in mind that overall the number of people living in poverty has not due to the increase of the worldwide population.

The focus on inequality is primarily because the amount of inequality in a country is the best indicator that does co-relate with the degree of poverty. While there are always extreme's in terms of wealth, and it is not an automatic assumption that wealth or individuals who are rich are bad, the focus is on the 'overall' picture of society at large.

In my opinion, and I agree with many commentators here, linking economy and values (which often determines how we use our wealth), the greater the linkage of economic providence with values the lower rate of inequality you will experience. Why? Because values usual encompass the common good as well as the individual good.

Re HIV Aids drug research. Well... there was a time when Sth Africa and countries such as Thailand refused to acknowledge HIV/AIDS or its impact. There was a point in the last two decades whereby had money not been put into HIV/AIDS drugs, education and prevention in Africa that you may as well have given up on any other contribution to the social or economic welfare of the countries at risk. The drugs developed are now cheap, they give 90% of children born to HIV positive mothers the chance to prevent the disease passing onto their children, and they extend the life of people by twenty years. It is true that measles is the number one killer of children and every bit a priority (which it has been for decades with mass immunisations in developing countires). However, such things should not be played against each other they are not either and or games, they are and and and....

I am not sure about judeo-christian heritage and the connection with the west, has it always been? Well I know that is the foundation for many countries in the west now if not the current living reality. But wasn't there a time when countries such as Iraq and Turkey were more Christian? Wasn't Europe pagan until Christian's came there as missionaries from other nations?

And to introduce another broad topic. The Pope acknowledges the positive influence of the reformation and now it seems the ABC is to apologise for the excess violence used:
Sounds suspiciously Christian to me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jean,

"I am not sure about judeo-christian heritage and the connection with the west, has it always been?"

No, as you say, Europe was once pagan. But Europe has been Christian for over a thousand years, thus it is, deeply, part of what makes the West what it is, culturally, politically, and spiritually. And I believe the Faith is essential to it's well being in those areas. This is not a claim to uniqueness however. Other parts of the world obviously have been, and are today, Christian as well.

Anonymous said...

And Jean, you are right that Iraq and Turkey (not to mention Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt) were once Christian. Islam put an end to that.

A warning from the past.

Bryden Black said...

Please excuse my ignorance folks - but why on earth does Oxfam call this era one of "neoliberalism"? By what criteria pray tell? For countless other forces are at play globally to create those graphic coloured lines ... Consequently, they/some may change by other means than neoliberalism's demise/weakening ...