Friday, October 14, 2016

Russia, America And Global Stability

The ideological tussle lasted almost seven full decades. The capitalism communism tussle defined the 20th century. It is said only the Bible has been circulated more than Lenin's works. The decades after World War II were stark, primarily due to the nuclear angle.

The dog eat dog capitalism that Lenin theorized against was much tempered by FDR who responded primarily to the Great Depression. Stalinism was basically authoritarianism. The basic human rights, the basic freedoms, freedom of religion are the bedrock. The economic part of it did not work either. Ends up free enterprise is fundamental. Property rights are basic.

But Russia has always loomed large in Europe even during the era of Tsars. By geographic size it is still the biggest country in the world. The Russians would like to believe they are a major power in the world. They would like their geopolitical pull to be felt. Between them America and Russia continue to have most of the nuclear weapons in the world. And Russia has a defense industry that looks for buyers all over the world. Saber rattling is good for business.

The ideological tussle is not final, it never is. American democracy is not a finished product but a work in progress. And the economic paradigms it has been functioning in will soon prove inadequate. The world is about to enter an unprecedented era of major productivity gains largely driven by technology. The capitalism communism tussle was liquid water physics. The era of steam physics is right round the corner. New political and economic paradigms will be needed. And such theoretical work should never be tied to nationalism of any culture or country. Was Einstein's theory of relativity Jewish? Nope.

Is Russia a democracy? Is Russia a market economy? Is Putin a new Tsar? Russia is not a democracy like the ones in Western Europe, obviously. And Russia does not seem to have a hard nosed focus on economic growth like China. At some level Russia would like a status of equals relationship with the United States that it thought it had during the Cold War, based primarily on the fact of its large nuclear arsenal and a still impressive military.

Saudi Arabia is no democracy by any stretch of imagination but America seems to do business with it just fine.

There is a fissure. Russia, Pakistan, China and North Korea form one ideological belt, America, Europe, India and Japan form another belt. Democracies and non democracies have a tendency to needle each other. But it is not clear cut. Russia and India have a friendship that is unique.  That is a good thing. That perhaps is a safety valve lest things go a little out of hand between Russia and the West.

China is not a Saddam dictatorship. It can be argued China has campaign finance reform that American progressives wish they had.

America has campaign finance reform to do. Race relations in America are in a sorry state. So it is not like America has a perfect political system. The gender churn of the 2016 race is a global spectacle.

Jobs are being lost in all countries to automation but there are demagogues in many countries who are busy channeling the resultant anger in the direction of other countries.

The technological innovation is about to speed up so much it will not only ask for new political and economic theory it will also upend the geopolitical map of the world. Understood well it can be for the collective good of all humanity. Russia and America cooperating with the end goal of a nuclear weapon free world is what is best for the general welfare of the ordinary citizens in both those countries.  

Nuclear technology is decades old. Showing off nuclear is like someone bragging about an early mobile phone in this era of smartphones. Nuclear is not the next big thing. It is old technology. The next is nano and bio.

Syria and Yemen make both America and Russia look bad, as if it is okay for a large number of innocent people to die while the big powers of the world play their geopolitical chess games.

Syria is top of the list. The world is failing Syria. Who violated the ceasefire? America? And if the American military action was a mistake, were the Syrians and Russians invited for detailed briefings and verifications?

The Arab world is in turmoil. It is a world primarily struggling with itself. It is a culture asking for validation. There is an aspiration for freedom and democracy where you can kick the can down the road but not forever.

I read Tolstoy's War And Peace cover to cover during what would be the freshman year in the American high school system, Class 9. That is all I did an entire vacation. The mind was blown, to say the least. Compared to it novels of western literature started looking like little short stories. Then I read Dostoyevsky's Crime And Punishment and the mind was blown all over again. The mind was blown a third time with Gabriel Garcia Marquez' One Hundred Years Of Solitude.

The GDP is not the only measure of greatness. The rat race of chasing the dollar is not the only meaningful life. In fact if the rat race is your only life it is not much of a life in the first place. Life has to have a higher meaning.

And if it is about wealth if humanity can conquer global warming it can take itself to an Age Of Abundance, an era that will make the America of today look like a Third World country. And it will be global. All world will have become one country long before 2050 anyways.

Both Russia and America should approach the present from that future. There is much common ground possible. There is much for the two powers to do together.

Russia is the country that gave political asylum to Snowden, the whistleblower who has ignited debate on privacy in the era of mass surveillance. Ends up the American state is as knee deep as the Chinese state when it comes to surveillance.

This debate concludes with a netizen bill of rights. The debate has not even started yet.

The Russian political system is itself an unsettled debate. The right system will give Russia good economic growth.

Putin has a modest background. Yeltsin basically handed over Russia to Putin impressed by his ability to execute, to get things done. In the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union Russia was in free fall. There were bread lines, for example. Putin stabilized the country. But in the process became a new Tsar. One hopes for the sake of Russia that is not the final reality.

Democracy is good.

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