China represents world freedom’s greatest threat

It employs its great military, economic and seductive power to advance repression around the world

China represents world freedom’s greatest threatAs we watch the chaos on the streets of Venezuela, it’s apt to revisit the latest Human Freedom Index, published in part by the Fraser Institute. The index highlights an old danger re-emerging: authoritarian seducers, regimes that promote their model of despotism internationally through charm, money, power, bribery, threats and violence. Since the rise of…

Washington Consensus lit the fuse blowing apart the modern world

We’ve allowed market forces to replace a host of political-economic goals and considerations, and we’re far worse for it

Washington Consensus lit the fuse blowing apart the modern worldPax Americana, the long-standing U.S.-inspired post-war world order, is unravelling like a cheap carpet. Apart from catastrophes like Venezuela, Britain's chaotic retreat from the European Union, or the threat from President Donald Trump to pull the United States out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, there’s the shocking rise of anti-western authoritarian regimes in Iran,…

Russian rap: turning rants and raves into culture

Vladimir Putin wants Russian bureaucrats to regulate the nation’s rap music. What could go wrong?

Russian rap: turning rants and raves into cultureOver the weekend, news reports circulated that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants Russian bureaucrats to regulate the nation’s rap music. Without regulation, Putin says, Russian rap – obsessed as it is with “sex, drugs and protest” – could lead Russia down “a path to the degradation of the nation.” Putin showed ample wisdom by advising…

The unwelcome consequences of the collapse of empires

The demise of the German Hohenzollerns led to Hitler, while the collapse of the Austrian Habsburgs gave rise to malignant nationalism

The unwelcome consequences of the collapse of empires​November marks the political demise of two imperial dynasties, the German Hohenzollerns and the Austrian Habsburgs. Like the Russian Romanovs and the Turkish Ottomans, they were casualties of the First World War. The Romanovs were the first to go, upended by the war-induced 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Of course, the case can be made that what…

We have power – if we’re willing to wield it

The corporate world controls politics only if voters allow it. Let's make educated choices at the ballot box

We have power – if we’re willing to wield itWatching corporate-sponsored mainstream news can be confusing and frustrating. I have great difficulty sitting through report after report about Russia tampering in U.S. elections. Why is this news? What did they stand to gain? Haven’t the Americans been tampering in elections in other countries for generations? Though millions accept the nonsensical issues that dominate the…

Fear and loathing in the realm of Donald Trump

In the Trump world, money is the key metric and the truth is relative. Can the midterm elections change anything?

Fear and loathing in the realm of Donald TrumpNow that I’ve read A Higher Loyalty (James Comey, 2018), War on Peace (Ronan Farrow, 2018), Fire and Fury (Michael Wolff, 2018) and Fear (Bob Woodward, 2018), I feel like I really know the ultimate protagonist. The portrayals of U.S. President Donald Trump are remarkably consistent. He is: vain, compulsively in-the-moment, intellectually lazy, a misogynist…

Suffering and death have meaning … of the deepest significance

Even in the depths of suffering, there is still reason to hope for the future. Even if we are in despair today, we can embrace the joys of the past

Suffering and death have meaning … of the deepest significanceRussian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote, “It’s the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet tender joy.” It should be no surprise that the writings of Dostoyevsky had a profound influence on Viktor Frankl, the Austrian Jewish psychiatrist, as he faced life in Nazi concentration camps. Dostoyevsky endured horrendous suffering in…

Marx was wrong: communism did not lead to a better society

The stronger the application of communist ideologies and practices, the worse the outcomes

Marx was wrong: communism did not lead to a better societyMany in the world were sadly compelled recently to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx. He was indeed a major figure in shaping history but definitely not for the good. Marx, along with his patron, Friedrich Engels, created the political-economic philosophy (perhaps a religion) commonly called communism. Its essential tenet is…

Did Canada expel Russian diplomats for a false reason?

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland plays fast and loose with the facts if she believes her grandfather wasn't a Nazi collaborator

Did Canada expel Russian diplomats for a false reason?We live in a world where “fake news” is used with near-reckless abandon. But there are moments when real news gets lumped into this category. It blurs fact and fiction, and changes a narrative not for the better but for the worse. Here’s a recent example. Canada recently tossed out four Russian diplomats and refused…

What happens if America stops underwriting world order?

Because there are bad guys and bullies out there, a muscular cop – however imperfect – brings a degree of reassurance

What happens if America stops underwriting world order?Pax Americana is the Latin term for the idea that American power underwrites the post-1945 world order. If there’s a major international problem, the underlying assumption is that the United States needs to take the lead in resolving or containing it. Other countries may play a supporting role but the Americans need to do the…

Stalin’s Moscow show trials a blind spot for western intellectuals

The eagerness of western intellectuals to justify the Moscow show trials of the late '30s was what was truly frightening about them

Stalin’s Moscow show trials a blind spot for western intellectualsThe infamous Moscow show trials ended 80 years ago this month. Based on fabricated charges of treason, Josef Stalin systematically eliminated virtually all of the remaining Old Bolsheviks, clearing away potential rivals and consolidating his power in the Soviet Union. The first trial began in August 1936, the second in January 1937 and the third…

Kate Harris’ Lands of Lost Borders a masterpiece

In Lands of Lost Borders, Kate Harris ruminates on 10 months aboard a bicycle along the Silk Road once conquered by Marco Polo

Kate Harris’ Lands of Lost Borders a masterpieceLands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road By Kate Harris Knopf Canada, 2018 Kate Harris is a Canadian Rhodes Scholar who studied the history of science at Oxford, dropped out of her microbiology PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and instead has found her métier as a modern-day explorer. Channeling…

A green city project in Russia comes alive

The project is supported by thorough research into what works best to create a green city, a large injection of funds and the participation of lots of volunteers

A green city project in Russia comes aliveBy Natalia Pryadilina, Roy Damary and Allan Bonner The green city movement has given environmentalism new energy and purpose. Large urban populations offer economies of scale and walkability, and bring businesses closer to each other, their customers and their suppliers. But all of this comes with costs: pollution and waste. Understanding the greening of cities is…

America today: parallels to post-Gorbachev Russia uncanny

The parallels between Russia more than 20 years ago and the United States today are deeply disturbing

America today: parallels to post-Gorbachev Russia uncannyWhen the horrible first reports of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., began hitting my smartphone feed, I somehow involuntarily reconnected with feelings that I associate with the societal chaos I experienced working in Russia more than 20 years ago. It was the post-Mikhail Gorbachev era, when communism had…

The Mueller indictments: laughing all the way to the Kremlin

The entire episode feels increasingly like a Russian intelligence operation designed to create political turmoil in the U.S. and exacerbate social tensions

The Mueller indictments: laughing all the way to the KremlinThe Kremlin’s favourite soap opera these days is the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Each new episode is followed intently. It’s unclear whether popcorn or caviar is served, and whether fans at the Kremlin consider the program a drama or a comedy. Its popularity, however, is indisputable. The investigation…