The Near-Global Collapse of Critical Thinking

Uncle Volodya says, “When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false.”

“Every ounce of my cynicism is supported by historical precedent.”

– Glen Cook, Shadow Games

“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven’t got it.”

– George Bernard Shaw

I’m lazy. But vanity constrains me from admitting that, so I call it ‘busy’. However I choose to label it, I haven’t written anything new in a long time. It’s not writer’s block, because I had a couple of topics in mind; if I had to blame it on anything, I’d blame it on the comments section. We don’t really have any rules here, or not many (there are a couple of people who can’t comment, but that’s because they cannot be trusted to not instantly return to old habits as soon as they are allowed), and things routinely drift off-topic to whatever is going on at the time. Current events; yes, that’s the term I was looking for. So when new things are happening, we tend to discuss them in the comments section, instead of my writing a new post dedicated specifically to that issue. It’s the primary cause, I’m afraid, of important comments you would like to be able to locate because they contain hard-to-find sources or just the information you need to settle an argument, because they are not linked by subject. Obviously I prefer the unregulated format, or I wouldn’t use it, but it does have its disadvantages.

Anyway, the silver lining that comes with being late to discuss a particular current event is that you get to talk about the filtered version, after the ferment has settled down and often new facts have presented. So it is with the teapot tempest of Alexei Navalny, vaulted to international fame virtually overnight by becoming the latest victim poisoned by nefarious Soviet-era deadly nerve agents that, in their known application, have a success rate of 16.67%. A funny statistic has emerged from the absurd times we are living in – a viral infection, the ‘novel coronavirus’, more commonly called COVID-19, has the world shivering with terror like frogs in a glass cage with a big snake, even though its Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) compares with the annual influenza bouts we have lived with all our years. Yet an engineered nerve agent reputed to be ten times as deadly as the most toxic poison the west could come up with – one which, I might add, has a known survivor list among the exposed of zero point zero – has never killed the individual it was intended to kill, and managed to incidentally slay one innocent bystander who was also an alcoholic and drug abuser. As John Lennon remarked in “Nobody Told Me”; strange days indeed. Most peculiar, Mama.

I meant to do a post on Navalny – more correctly, my patience with the ridiculous statements made about his latest adventure finally evaporated – after reading this amazingly cheeky tapestry of fabrication; “The Kremlin, predictably, says it didn’t poison Alexey Navalny. So what can the West do?”

I looked it up so as to have an electronic link, so readers could get the full effect. But I initially saw it in the newspaper, the Canadian Globe & Mail (British Columbia edition), in which it was headlined a little differently – “Why nobody has power to make Kremlin come clean on poisoning”. So far as I can make out on initial examination, the body of the article is unchanged. Both pieces – well, the same piece with two different headlines – are by Mark MacKinnon, who is The Globe & Mail‘s senior international correspondent, based in London, UK. He’s quite highly-regarded by his employers, is a seven-time winner of the National Newspaper Awards (for creativity, perhaps, although they don’t say), and the author of…”The New Cold War: Revolutions, Rigged Elections and Pipeline Politics“. Gee, that sounds like it might be about a particular country; let’s have a dekko at the writeup.

“When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed two years later, liberal democracy was supposed to fill the void left by Soviet Communism. Poland and Czechoslovakia made the best of reforms, but the citizens of the “Evil Empire” itself saw little of the promised freedom, and more of the same old despots and corruption. Recently, a second wave of reforms — Serbia in 2000, Georgia in 2003, and Ukraine in 2004, as well as Kyrgyzstan’s regime change in 2005 — have proven almost as monumental as those in Berlin and Moscow. The people of the Eastern bloc, aided in no small part by Western money and advice, are again rising up and demanding an end to autocracy. And once more, the Kremlin is battling the White House every step of the way. Mark MacKinnon spent these years working in Moscow, and his view of the story and access to those involved remains unparalleled. With The New Cold War, he reveals the links between these democratic revolutions — and George Soros, the idealistic American billionaire behind them — in a major investigation into the forces that are quietly reshaping the post-Soviet world.”

Because western-imposed liberal democracy has been such a star-speckled success in so many places – Libya. Iraq, Venezuela…anyway, the above author information is offered to sort of set the tone for the type of worldview you might expect. And to introduce a premonition, before you even read his material, that Mark MacKinnon just might be exactly the sort of guy who would smirk with revulsion at the mention of Putin’s name, and have a big ol’ man-crush on Alexei Navalny. I’m not implying anything untoward, here; Mr. MacKinnon is a realist. An ideologue, yes, but a realist. Continue reading “The Near-Global Collapse of Critical Thinking”

The USA is Not Ever Going to be a Major Gas Supplier to Europe. That’s Never.

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “When I find that stubbornness continually overrides common sense regardless of the logic of my argument, it seems that the only effective solution is to tell them to go ahead and stick their finger in the socket. And what I find is that what my argument failed to solve, electricity does quite nicely..”

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

– Lao Tzu

“Here’s to the few who forgive what you do, and the fewer who don’t even care”

Leonard Cohen, from “The Night Comes On”

There must be a term for words which become so inexorably and automatically associated with one another that one of them is immediately assumed without being spoken. Like “dairy ice-cream”. I realize there are non-dairy kinds of ice cream, but generally speaking, ‘dairy’ is assumed when you say ‘ice cream’. And so it is becoming with “the United States of America” and “hyperbole”. Always known to some degree for self-aggrandizement, America’s official conversation with the world now routinely includes not only oft-repeated falsehoods that are intended to be repeated until they become truth, but wildly improbable schemes which seem to have as their purpose a general inoculation of feelgood in the American population, a return to those grand old ‘anything is possible’ days.

Certainly nobody else believes them.

An instructive, and repetitious example is the premise that the United States is going to become the major supplier of economical energy to Europe, supplanting Russia’s pipeline-delivered gas with tanker-loads of ‘freedom gas’ – I wish I was kidding, but I’m not; American leaders seem to think Europeans would eat a brick if you painted ‘freedom’ on it – brought to Europe’s LNG terminals by ship.

I’m sorry to keep bringing it up, and I know we’ve been over this and over this…but. The USA simply will not stop with this silly fable that good old American can-do will overcome all obstacles, regardless the difficulties they present. In fact, it calls to mind a line I read in Phillip Lewis’s wonderful “The Barrowfields” – “A beguiling optimism is often the first step toward folly”. America convinces itself that it can do it, and then afterward you’re not allowed to point out that it did not do it, because that would be rude and a repudiation of its cheeky and inspiring optimism.

How many times now – and you don’t even have to cast your memory that far back – has the United States promised that if the ‘free world’ (whatever that means) will only band together with it in a coalition (which it will lead, naturellement) they will turn this or that nation, presently afflicted with dictatoritis and not enough freedom, into a prosperous western-leaning market democracy? How many times has that actually come about? Has it ever? Iraq and Libya were ruined, spun in the negative-development chamber and spat out decades behind what they were before the Glorious Liberation. The Coalition Road Show gave it an honest try in Syria, where the megalomaniacal plan was to ease up on ISIS until it had managed to wipe out Assad, then pour on the coal in the home stretch, evict the flea-bitten rebels and implant a liberalizing Syrian leader who would occupy himself with gay marriage and other important western issues, while ‘international investors’ took over state energy production. Unfortunately – depending on your viewpoint – Russia spoiled that rosy outlook, and the western media went from confidently and mockingly forecasting Assad’s imminent demise to squawking about damage from Russian airstrikes that had not even taken off yet to grudgingly – and bitterly – allowing that Assad could remain in charge in the country that voted him into that capacity. America, largely on its own, tried it in Venezuela, and while it was predictably successful at causing ruin, it achieved nothing much else, although it’s early days yet and it has obviously not given up. Occasionally, it is distracted by the possibility of causing ruin in Iran, and wavers back and forth on which place it plans to ruin next.

Anyway, never mind that – I only wanted to point out that a sunny assessment of American intention to re-order this or that reality, plus $3.95 will get you a Caffe Mocha Grande at Starbucks.

I would therefore like to redirect your attention to the latest piece of caterwauling about Nord Stream II. Continue reading “The USA is Not Ever Going to be a Major Gas Supplier to Europe. That’s Never.”