“Anyone who enters the room affects it. Leaves an impression upon it even if it is unintentional.”
Eulogy By Steve Keen. Originally published at his website
This is not at all what I thought I’d be writing about tonight, let alone what I wanted to do. I am writing a eulogy for my friend and intellectual companion, David Graeber.
WE WERE ALREADY ON A TRACK OF CATASTROPHIC TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE. THIS ONE IS GOING TO HURT. BRACE: The Wuhan virus has accelerated existing trends.
We Don’t Know How to Warn You Any Harder. America is Dying. Umair Haque, Medium. “We survivors of authoritarianism have a terrible, terrible foreboding, because we are experiencing something we should never do: deja vu.”
China censors Thomas Piketty’s book that touches on nation’s growing inequality South China Morning Post.
“Under Putin, Russia had become a virtual Mafia state in which the government, its spy agencies, and organized crime had merged into a single entity.”
It was december 1989, the Berlin Wall had fallen, and in Dresden, crowds were gathering outside the headquarters of the Stasi, the East German secret police, shouting insults and demanding access. Nearby, frantic KGB officers—the Soviet advisers whom the Stasi had long referred to as “the friends”—were barricaded inside their villa, burning papers. “We destroyed everything,” remembered one of those officers, Vladimir Putin. “All our communications, our lists of contacts and our agents’ networks … We burned so much stuff that the furnace burst.”
Toward evening, a group of protesters broke away from the Stasi building and started marching toward the KGB villa. Panicked, Putin called the Soviet military command in Dresden and asked for reinforcements. None were forthcoming. “I got the feeling then that the country no longer existed. That it had disappeared,” Putin told an interviewer years later. “It was clear the union was ailing. And it had a terminal disease without a cure—a paralysis of power.” The shock was total, and he never forgot it.
For hundreds of millions of people, the fall of the Berlin Wall was a great triumph: The moment marked the end of hated dictatorships and the beginning of a better era. But for the KGB officers stationed in Dresden, the political revolutions of 1989 marked the end of their empire and the beginning of an era of humiliation. In interviews, Putin has returned to that moment—the moment when reinforcements did not come—always describing it as a turning point in his own life. Like Scarlett O’Hara shaking her fist at a blood-red sky, Putin swore, it seems, to dedicate his life to restoring his country’s glory.
A KGB Man to the End
DISPATCHES FROM THE “IT’S DIFFERENT WHEN WE DO IT” PARTY: The MTV Video Music Awards and New York’s COVID hypocrisy. The show must go on:
The last few months have been a painful and consistent example of the way rules shift depending on the whim of our elected officials. Protests were OK for months before the beaches finally opened in NYC. In terms of COVID transmission, the former, with chants, songs and shouting is far more dangerous than the latter. But science ceased to matter long ago.
Lady Gaga gyrated with a bevy of back-up dancers at the VMAs, but even when gyms open, group exercise classes, which would be very similar to a choreographed dance routine, won’t be allowed. Gaga wore a mask, that’s true, but New Yorkers who aren’t multimillionaires haven’t even had that option yet.
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others, so goes the famous George Orwell line. In New York City during the time of COVID, those in charge are not even trying to hide that fact anymore.
And not just NYC: “Chefs and restaurant owners in Philadelphia are sizzling hot over a photo showing Mayor Jim Kenney [D], who banned indoor dining in Philly due to COVID-19, enjoying an indoor restaurant meal in Maryland.”