A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘eurasia

[NEWS] Ten Window on Eurasia links

  • What will become of the Azerbaijani language in education in Iran? More here.
  • Is a Russia-Belarus state union feasible? More here.
  • Is Estonia, as some would have it, a viable model for the Finnic Mordvin peoples of the Russian interior? More here.
  • Will Russia be happy with its alliance with China if this makes it a secondary partner, a relatively weaker exporter of resources? More here.
  • How many Muslims are there in Moscow, and what import does the controversy over their numbers carry? More here.
  • Is the Russian fertility rate set to stagnate, leading to long-term sharp decline? More here.
  • If 10% of the Russian working-age population has emigrated, this has serious consequences for the future of Russia. More here.
  • Irredentism in Kazakhstan, inspired by the example of Crimea, is just starting to be a thing. More here.
  • The decline of Russian populations in the north of Kazakhstan, and the growth of Uzbeks, is noteworthy. More here.
  • The different Russian proposals for the future of the Donbas, an analyst notes, are built to keep Ukraine a neutral country. More here.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait reports on Supernova 2018oh in nearby galaxy UGC 4780, a star that demonstrated a most unusual bump in its light curve. Did the explosion engulf a neighbouring star?
  • Centauri Dreams reports on New Horizons as it approaches its next target, the Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule.
  • D-Brief notes new observations of a black hole suggesting that gas around them forms not a rigid donut shape but rather a looser fountain.
  • Dead Things notes a new discovery that the icythosaur had blubber like modern cetaceans, demonstrating convergent evolution.
  • Cody Delistraty writes about changing perceptions of painter Egon Schiele.
  • Far Outliers notes how Japanese prisoners of war were often so surprised by good treatment that they reciprocated, by freely sharing information with interrogators.
  • Hornet Stories notes that, at least on Reddit, RuPaul’s Drag Race is the most discussed show currently playing on television.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the Indian police was seeking two American evangelical Christian missionaries for aiding another to breach North Sentinel Island, both having fled the country.
  • JSTOR Daily looks back to a 1963 paper on the effects of automation on society by Leon Megginson, finding that many of his predictions were correct.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that it is a sad day for Hungary that its government was able to drive the Central European University out of Budapest into exile.
  • At Lingua Franca, Roger Shuy takes a look at the dreaded PhD oral exam. (I know that seeing other students taking it was one thing putting me off from academia.)
  • The LRB Blog takes a look at the disastrous state of politics in Honduras, with a corrupt leader deeply compromised by (among other things) a dependency upon the United States.
  • The NYR Daily takes a look at the beautiful Tibetan Buddhist religious art on display in the Ladakh settlement of Alchi.
  • Window on Eurasia notes a conference in Moscow taking a look at a Eurasianism based on a Slavic-Turkic synthesis.
  • Arnold Zwicky takes a look at Santa Barbara in some of her many dimensions.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes that new astrometric data from Gaia has confirmed that Albiero, Beta Cygni, is only a visual binary, its two components being separated by perhaps dozens of light-years.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the details of a new study suggesting the stars at the heart of globular cluster Omega Centauri are too closely packed to be able to support possibly life-bearing planets with stable orbits.
  • The Crux examines the question of whether or not astronauts can remain psychologically healthy in deep space.
  • D-Brief notes that the shallow stripes of the atmosphere of Jupiter might be explained by the planet’s strong magnetic field.
  • Cody Delistraty shares an essay of his on V.S. Naipaul and the difficulties many writers face returning home.
  • Hornet Stories notes that some conservative Republicans in Texas would like to deal with same-sex marriage by stripping marriage benefits away from all couples.
  • Language Hat notes some appearances of Eurasianism in Russian linguistics.
  • Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money notes an Elizabeth Warren plan for corporate reform in the US.
  • The LRB Blog notes a pop-up theatre being maintained by Good Chance Paris for refugees on the fringes of the French capital.
  • The NYR Daily looks at the strength, and possible future attenuation, of anti-Haitian sentiment in the Dominican Republic.
  • Jason Davis at the Planetary Society Blog shares some gorgeous Juno photos of Jupiter.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel considers what happened in the early universe when antimatter was destroyed.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the argument of one Russian journalist that Putin’s maneuvering has made good relations with the West, and the United States, next to impossible for the foreseeable future.

[LINK] “Who is Aleksandr Dugin?”

Crooked Timber’s Ronald Beiner posted an essay about Eurasianism and its chief ideologue Aleksandr Dugin and his issues.

On February 5, 2015, TVO (the Ontario equivalent of PBS) broadcast an episode of “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” featuring Dugin. The show (entitled “Big Minds on the Future of Democracies”) included Francis Fukuyama, a well-known and influential public intellectual, as well as Ivan Krastev, another heavyweight political scientist concerned with the future of democracy. This already conveyed the impression that Dugin is a serious academic on a par with the other two. The show went out of its way to publicize Dugin’s newly published work, Eurasian Mission, giving it equal standing alongside one of Fukuyama’s books. Eurasian Mission is published by Arktos Media, an incontrovertibly “Aryanist” or white supremacist outfit. On its cover, repeatedly displayed on the TV screens of TVO’s viewers, is the Symbol of Chaos —Dugin’s no less malevolent version of the swastika. It is hard to imagine that Paikin or the TVO producers knew what they were doing when they gave the purveyor of this reptilian ideology his platform on public television. But it is not too late to educate ourselves.

In presenting Dugin to their viewers, TVO advertised him as a “Russian philosopher and political activist.” Is Dugin a Russian philosopher? Yes, it seems that he is. Dugin’s book, Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Beginning (published by Radix, a far-right press), offers a competent and at times interesting commentary on the philosophy of Heidegger, one of the major thinkers of the twentieth century. Only a fellow philosopher could pursue that kind of engagement with a philosopher as challenging and as important as Heidegger—although Dugin’s book in no way hides the fact that he’s at least as strongly drawn to Heidegger’s ideological significance as to his philosophical significance. (Dugin is very intensely focused on the Heidegger of 1936-1945, a period throughout which Heidegger was a card-carrying Nazi, however much he may have believed that Hitler’s version of National Socialism was grossly inferior to his own.) Since the Enlightenment, there has been a line of important thinkers for whom life in liberal modernity is felt to be profoundly dehumanizing. Thinkers in this category include Joseph de Maistre, Friedrich Nietzsche, Carl Schmitt, and Heidegger. For such thinkers, liberal modernity is so humanly degrading that one ought to (if one could) undo the French Revolution and its egalitarianism, and perhaps cancel out the whole moral legacy of Christianity. For all of them, hierarchy and rootedness is more morally compelling than equality and individual liberty. In his Heidegger book, Dugin helps to bring out why certain intellectuals of the early twentieth century gravitated towards fascism: a grim preoccupation with the perceived soullessness of modernity, and a resolve to embrace any politics, however extreme, that seemed to them to promise “spiritual renewal” (to quote Heidegger). Dugin is now the latest thinker in this line of philosophers of the radical right. But his identity as a philosopher is only one aspect of Dugin’s intellectual personality. He’s also very much captivated by mysticism and occultism, and he’s a determined ideologue who is willing to reach out to allies in the gutter.

The resulting discussion was somewhat depressing, and summed up for me by the final comment, left by one Dominick Bartleme.

Long-time reader and extremely infrequent commenter here. I find many of the comments on this thread to be utterly remarkable. I can see Dugin’s hoped-for coalition of fascists and socialists and other illiberal elements forming before my eyes. The level of disgust of many on the left with the U.S. dominated capitalist world order has rendered them unable to read a simple denunciation of a dangerous fascist ideologue without immediately reacting that he must be 100x better than our evil capitalist overlords. The logical (and short) next step is to make common cause with Dugin and his ilk in our struggle against the liberal order.

Any lover of peace and freedom should stand with the OP against this dangerous ideology and the too-easy rationalization of it by those who do not care for the current global political and economic system. We don’t need to agree on much to agree that this man and his allies are promoting a profoundly evil vision of the future.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 12, 2015 at 10:45 pm

[LINK] “Russia’s Crisis Was Big Fun in Belarus Until the Economic Strife Spread”

Bloomberg BusinessWeek‘s Leonid Ragozin reports on the consequences of the Russian economic crisis for neighbouring and allied Belarus.

As the Russian ruble plunged 45 percent against the dollar last month, Andrey Kabanov made two forays from Belarus into Moscow. The entertainment entrepreneur is now the owner of two secondhand BMWs bought for about two-thirds the market price in his native Minsk. Not that he needed the cars for everyday use. “A friend is now driving one of them, and the other is just sitting in the garage,” Kabanov says. “But it is an asset that I can always sell at a profit.” Thousands of Belarusians such as Kabanov flocked into Russian cities before the New Year, taking advantage of the cheap ruble and the absence of border control between two countries united in a trade association known as the Eurasian Union.

For Belarusians, at least at first, their neighbor’s economic crisis and worsening relations with the West brought a variety of benefits. When Moscow retaliated for EU sanctions by banning imports of cheese, apples, and salmon, some Belarusian businesses took to repackaging European products so they appear to have been made in Belarus. Two entrepreneurs involved in the repackaging business explained how the scheme works: EU-produced fruit and vegetables are swapped for their Belarusian-produced equivalents of inferior quality. The latter would be sold in the guise of EU produce in Belarus, while EU-made products would proceed to the much more lucrative Russian market. (Neither person involved in the repackaging would agree to be identified.)

Another scheme involved sending trucks full of EU produce from Belarus to Kazakhstan, also a member of the Eurasian Union. The cargo would never reach its destination, vanishing somewhere along the long route that cuts through Russia. Alterations to products exported from Europe also allowed a change in their nationality. Norwegian salmon salted in Belarus would become Belarusian, for instance, even if the entire process amounted to sprinkling a heap of fish with a handful of salt.

Many people are now opting out of the repackaging business, in part as a reflection of increasing legal risks and the waning appeal of the Russian market. The cross-border shopping bonanza has also ended now that the Belarusian ruble has fallen 30 percent against Western currencies this month, reflecting the country’s overwhelming economic dependence on Russia.

When it comes to order, security, and relatively low corruption, Belarus looks something like a post-Soviet Singapore. But its economic policies are decidedly backward, smacking of the late USSR. “While the devaluation in Russia was conducted in a transparent way without imposing any restrictions on the circulation of hard currency, the Belarusian government opted for the most confusing and convoluted way possible,” says economist Yaroslav Romanchuk. The explanation is simple: President Alexander Lukashenko had publicly pledged there would be no devaluation and no price hike, Romanchuk says, so when that outcome became inevitable, the devaluation was conducted in a way that allowed officials to avoid ever using the dreaded word.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 22, 2015 at 11:39 pm

[NEWS] Some Monday links

  • Al Jazeera warns about the militarization of the Ukrainian state, notes the alienation of Turkish Kurds from their goverment and wonders if northern Syria will become a Turkish protectorate, wishes Arab authors could travel to the United States more readily, wonders about the impact of immigrants on Catalonian separatism, and notes Wheaton College’s issue with new federal healthcare regulations.
  • Bloomberg observes the shrinkage of the American labour force, the success of the coffee crop in Vietnam, the emigration from ethnic Czechs from Ukraine to the Czech Republic, the successful retention of industry in Singapore, observes the debilitating toll of illegal fisheries off of the West African coast, and notes the call for an investigation into the treatment of the United States’ first Ebola victim.
  • Bloomberg View notes that Uber can succeed only in the context of a struggling labour market, looks at the economic issues of European petrostates, notes how political concerns override fears for the Russian economy, argues British cities also need autonomy, and via Faroese fish exports notes that sanctions may not have that much effort.
  • CBC notes Tanya Tagaq’s stalking by a sexually aggressive man in Winnipeg, and notes that Windsor is using cayenne peppers to deter squirrels from attacking the city’s tulips. (That last should work.)
  • The Inter Press Service notes the scale of Samoan emigration, observes the negative consequences of climate change for livestock farmers in the Caribbean, looks at the drought besetting Sao Paulo, looks at an economically questionable train line in Sri Lanka, considers how the Karabakh issue makes Armenian entry into the Eurasian Union problematic, and u>observes anti-Palestinian discrimination in housing in the Jerusalem area.
  • IWPR reports on growing Ukraine-related ethnic tensions in Kazakhstan and observes Georgia’s clampdown on immigration.
  • Open Democracy recommends a consistent policy of European Union opening to the western Balkans, notes the plight of Copts in Egypt, looks at ethnic tensions in North Ossetia between Ossetians and Ingush, examines Basque and Corsican separatisms, fears for the future of secularism in Mali and Senegal, and considers the dire demographics of Ukraine.

[BLOG] Some Monday linls

  • blogTO notes the five longest TTC routes in Toronto.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes evidence that objects detected by Kepler are gravitationally bound to their parent stars.
  • The Dragon’s Tales tracks the migrations of raccoons and their kind from North to South America, and notes that Pacific Island nations are hoping to find places they can evacuate their populations to.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the computer of the anti-gay papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic has been found to be filled with child porn, and observes apparent success in treating Ebola with HIV medications.
  • Language Log looks at gendered pronoun usage on Facebook.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes depression.
  • Marginal Revolution links to an article examining the lives of lightning survivors.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at Russian-Ukrainian energy wars and isn’t hopeful for Ukraine.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes war-related mortality patterns in Iraq.
  • Savage Minds notes that anthropologists at the University of Chicago have played a leading role in getting that university to disengage from its Confucius Institute.
  • Torontoist notes how 1971 thinkers thought Toronto could be made more pleasant.
  • Towleroad considers if Britney Spears is a proper gay icon.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests the death of civic nationalism in Russia, notes the refugees in Ukraine displaced from the Donbas, suggests that there is sympathy in Tatarstan from Crimean Tatars, looks at Russian official support for the far right worldwide, and suggests that Eurasianism and Dugin are of falling importance.