Monday, 11 January 2010

State of the World 2010

In the past decade we seem to have created two new social classes, unaccountable global moguls with no regulations, and global unlawful combatants with no civil rights.

It's either the penthouse or Guantanamo, and they're both invisible netherworlds out of reach of the rule of law. Both very dangerous to the rest of us.
Not just that they assault us, but that we neglect the issues there.

Putin more or less solved his own mogul problem by picking on one scapegoat mogul and having the guy railroaded into the slammer.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky was as crooked as a dog's hind leg, but clearly he's in the Russian Bastille there at the pleasure of the state, so Khodorkovsky's kind of a unique example of a guy who's both an oligarch and an abductee. You'd think this was a pretty likely treatment for oligarchs, actually. Given that they create so much misery, destroy so much wealth, and harm the interests of so many other social classes, why not just car-bomb them? Russian moguls used to car-bomb each other
with great glee. The same goes for mafia chieftains -- anybody with tremendous wealth and influence outside the rule of law ends up in great fear of others with similar characteristics.

Jailing Khodorkovsky sure didn't make anybody more "accountable" to the civil population, though; it's just another example of Putin's political genius for fighting ugly wildfires with dirty water. The Russians sincerely love that guy Putin. I think his policies are spooky and pernicious, but Putin's so much better than the normal run of leaders the Russians get that you have to understand why they genuflect to him.

There are some societies today completely untroubled by moguls, like, say, Sweden. You look at all the statistics that technocrats use to determine where people are doing just great, where society is thriving,
and Sweden's been in the top five percentile for decades. Sweden does everything perfectly from a technocratic policy perspective, Sweden's like Oz, apparently.

And then you ask Swedes about their future and so forth, and they're like: "Bring the razor and the bathtub! When can I die?" There are penniless, vitamin-deprived guys in the Dharavi slums of Mumbai who are upbeat and perky compared to Swedes.

"Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made," as the philosopher used to say.

Source: The WELL Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010