The Double Threat to Liberal Democracy

While the usual types opine about rising populism as the great threat to democracy, the article referenced in the title by Dani Rodrik reminds us of the other enemy of our way of life, which he terms “undemocratic liberalism”:

But fewer analysts have noted that illiberal democracy – or populism – is not the only political threat. Liberal democracy is also being undermined by a tendency to emphasize “liberal” at the expense of “democracy.” In this kind of politics, rulers are insulated from democratic accountability by a panoply of restraints that limit the range of policies they can deliver. Bureaucratic bodies, autonomous regulators, and independent courts set policies, or they are imposed from outside by the rules of the global economy.

The article delves further into a paper by the author and a new book by political theorist Yascha Mounk, “The People vs. Democracy”, that addresses both issues.

The real Labour leadership winner? UKIP

If Ed Miliband was enough to polarize working-class voters outside of the Thames estuary, imagine how they will react to Jeremy Corbyn’s neo-Bennite platform.

Corbyn may be the hero of faculty lounges and organic food shops but he is bound to alienate large swathes of traditional Labour voters when it comes to the Europe question and immigration.

His victory will indeed change the face of British politics but in ways he never foresaw.

How do we cope with a post-Putin Russia?

Financial Review presents a provocative article by Gleb Pavlovsky, a former Putin spin doctor, on the workings of the current Kremlin decision-making apparatus and its inadequacies:

Russia, to Mr Pavlovsky, is driven not by a search for external power but by internal weakness — a lack of vision for its impending post-Putin existence. Mr Putin has successfully made any political alternative unthinkable, and his entire country is now trapped by his success. In other words, Mr Putin’s enormous popular support is a weakness, not a strength — and Russia’s leaders know it.

[…]

Deprived of a vision for the future, Russian elites are tempted by conspiracy theories and apocalyptic pronouncements. As Aleksandr A. Prokhanov, a writer and leading voice of Russian imperial nationalists, lamented, the elites know that if they attempt a Perestroika II, they will fail. Better, he said, to provoke another world war than try to dismantle Mr Putin’s designs.

Reading Mr Pavlovsky’s book, one realises that what is totally absent in the Western analyses of today’s Russia is this “end of the world” mentality among Mr Putin’s political and intellectual elites. In Mr Pavlovsky’s view, the experience of the catastrophic collapse of the Soviet Union, rather than geopolitical interests or values, is the key for understanding Russia’s strategic behaviour and the inner logic of Mr Putin’s regime.

More unwanted Soviet retro

Vladimir Putin’s peculiar version of ’70s chic isn’t limited to backing thuggish client states and hurling invective at the West. A new generation of useful idiots has been fathered by the Kremlin.

Even the New York Times concedes Russia`s clandestine backing of the anti-fracking movement in Europe:

Anca-Maria Cernea, a leader of a conservative political group in Bucharest that has exposed the prospect of a Russian connection, said that while no documents have been uncovered proving payments or other direct support from Russia, circumstantial evidence shows that “Russians are behind the protests against Chevron.”

The protesters, she noted, included groups that usually have nothing to do with one another, like radical socialists, some with ties to the heavily Russian influenced security apparatus in neighboring Moldova, and deeply conservative Orthodox priests. Russian news media, she added, were curiously active in covering and fueling opposition to fracking in Pungesti. RT, a state-run Russian TV news channel aimed at foreign audiences, provided blanket coverage of the protests and carried warnings that villagers, along with their crops and animals, would perish from poisoned water.

[…]

None of this has stopped Gazprom from looking for shale gas and oil itself. Its Serbian subsidiary, Nis, is now exploring prospects in western Romania near the border with Serbia. Unlike the Chevron project at the other end of the country, however, the Gazprom effort has stirred no mass protests.

It is not surprising that an ex-KGB chief of station would resort to the toolkit that gave us the World Peace Council, the CND, and the Greenham Common “peace camp”.

H/T Small Dead Animals

A reminder to “root cause” apologists

From the Protein Wisdom blog on the wages of appeasement, as true now as it was in 2005:

Overheard inside a Najaf bunker

First militant:  “You know, Qasim, I’m really beginning to like this Cindy Sheehan infidel.  Unusual to find an uncovered cur so willing to sing the heavenly music of Truth.”*

Second militant: “I agree, brother.  When we conquer the Great Satan and take his land by force of fiery sword, we shall have to remember to slit her throat last.”*

First militant:  “Exactly.  Allah be praised.”

Second militant: “Allah be praised.