Jeffosophy: a collection of possibly useful things I have learned over the years.



Soviet architecture; not very inviting
Care to emigrate to the Soviet Utopian Lifestyle? Picture courtesy Wikipedia


Challenge to Xi, Putin: Create a Society People Actually Want to Live In

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, presidents of China and Russia respectively, have lately been making a lot of noise about how terrible Western liberal democracy is and the evils of American style capitalism. Both men further claim to have a better alternative which seems to include an obedient, hardworking, non-critical populace. And, just in case this populace starts to get ideas, restrictive laws are in place to send complainers to prison. Just using the word "war" to describe the... um, war in Ukraine can land an otherwise upright Russian citizen in prison for a dozen years. Moreover, to prevent their people from getting ideas, many Western web sites -- such as Facebook and Twitter -- are not available to people in China and Russia. Web sites created by locals, that could give people ideas, are also banned and their creators often tossed in prison. Ideas, apparently, are not welcome in Russia or China.

From a marketing perspective, this is a disaster

From a marketing perspective, this is a disaster. Sure, the Russian and Chinese alternatives to the American-European liberal democracy sound delightful - if you are an authoritarian leader or a business crony with a close relationship to an authoritarian leader. Not so delightful if you are a mere citizen trying to make an honest living.

This is probably why so many Russians and Chinese, especially the more educated, critical people, have fled their home countries to live in the very liberal democracy their leaders denigrate; but almost no one from the West has fled to China or Russia to live in their supposedly better systems.

This is particularly true of Russia after Putin launched his senseless war on Ukraine. Russia's already repressed people have been even further repressed and many -- especially professors, artists, authors, entrepreneurs and other members of the intelligentsia -- are fleeing in droves. The departure of intellectual society may appease Putin, who has called the fleers "scum and traitors". But it means the very people who can build the economy and culture of the country have fled, leaving (in general) less educated, less questioning, more obedient people. Oh, and such people tend to be older and more complacent. This may lead to less criticism of Putin. But it is unlikely to lead to building a dynamic society that actually seems like a desirable alternative to the West.

Oh, and meanwhile, the west is becoming enriched by the contribution of Russian and Chinese immigrants.

This is stupid. Not only are presidents Xi and Putin creating enemies in the West, but they are making many of their own people into enemies. Indeed, presidents Xi and Putin know they are far more likely to be taken down by internal insurrection rather than some county, such as the USA, launching war on them.

Create a Real, Desirable Alternative

I would humbly suggest that Presidents Xi and Putin stop trying to repress their peoples and start creating an alternative to democratic capitalism that people actually desire to live in. Capitalism has come under a lot of criticism from certain quarters in the West. And, indeed, it is an imperfect system that has created a disparity of wealth that would make a dictator proud.

Western anti-democracy protesters are highly critical of capitalism. But, they have yet to come up with a viable, let alone better, alternative to capitalism. Some idealists dreamily aspire to socialism or even communism. But that didn't work. A chunk of Ira's (my partner) childhood was spent in the Soviet Union. Likewise, a handful of my friends come originally from Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Lithuania, Czechia and Poland. Not one of them ever, ever wants to return to the Soviet way.

Love the Soviet Union or Die

Indeed, so undesirable was Soviet life that the borders of Soviet countries were closed and it was all but impossible for citizens to travel to the West. In Berlin, attempting to flee from East Germany to West Germany could, and often did, lead to fleers being shot and killed. Stop and think about that. The Soviet political economic system was so fucking bad, people would risk their lives to come live in a capitalist society.

So, no. Soviet style socialism is not a viable option if you wish to create a society that people want to live in.

Likewise, capitalism isn't perfect. But, the west did not need to lock their borders to keep anti-democratic types from fleeing the country. In addition, the west has largely embraced a free press. You and I can criticise our governments without fear of the secret police dragging us off and torturing us. Indeed, we can bring about change in laws if enough people are behind an idea.

So, Presidents Xi and Putin, I say. Instead of creating repressive regimes, controlling the press, terrorising critics and creating a society that your people want to flee in order to live in our corrupt, Western liberal democracies, why don't you get creative and come up with an alternative that is so good that: you do not need to muzzle the press; you do not need to torture critics; and you can welcome criticism as a means of finding flaws, and fixing them, in your system? Why not create a political economic system that is so desirable that Westerns will wish to flee their countries and embrace your way.

Imagine how fucking powerful you could be then.





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