Wednesday, 2 April 2014

An Ingsoc Easter

By a strange convergence of events, April 20th this year will not only be 420 and the birthday anniversary of Adolf Hitler but also Easter. As is the usual custom, parents will be telling their prepubescent children about the Easter Bunny and how he (or she or it) brings plastic Easter eggs filled with candy. In such circumstances, parents must admit that the Easter Bunny is a classist as the children of engineers and small businessmen will get Cadbury eggs while the children of the working classes will receive those queer, orange-coloured peanut-shaped marshmellows sold by the bulk at most supermarkets. Of course, one can say the same about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Republican Party.

Nonetheless, a moral question arises: is it right to lie to children about the existence of the Easter Bunny? Some will say that since this is not a lie done for personal gain, it is perfectly moral. However I believe that we must ask the opposite question-that whether the lie is absolutely necessary in that particular case. After all there are certain situations where lying is permissible and even the right thing to do-for example if a murderer asked where a potential victim was.

By this standard, I believe that there is absolutely no justification to trick children into believing in the existence of a fictional Easter Bunny who brings them candy. In the usual case the children will find out by themselves in the nonexistence of this entity and sow the first seeds of distrust of their parents (even if only subconsciously) in their hearts and minds. In addition this does not set a good example for parents who presumably would want to encourage honesty in their children. To a child who finds out about the mythological nature of the candy-dispensing creature, it may seem that their parents are delibrately engaging in doublethink by teaching them the virtues of honesty while telling them wholesale fictions.On a more pragmatic level, telling the truth that the parents themselves bought the candy will direct the children's gratefulness towards their true beneficiaries. Hopefully more parents

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

We Are At (Cold) War With Russia, We Were Always At (Cold) War With Russia

In terms of geopolitics, the events of the last few weeks have brought about the most monumental changes since the end of the Cold War in 1991. Indeed, it can be said that the Crimean Crisis has reversed many of the changes the break-up of the Soviet Union caused. No longer can we see Russia as a slowly liberalizing nation who can be a potential ally but which must instead be regarded for what it really is-a militarized oligarchy which desires to expand and control once more the former lands of the Russian and Soviet empires.

The question must be asked: how have we gotten to this point? Was this an inevitable event? What can the Western powers do from this point on? The first question must be answered by pointing to a mixture of causes. The fall of the USSR caused hope in the citizens of those countries that there'd be a new day of prosperity and freedom with the coming of material benefits of Western capitalism and the principles of liberal democracy. Alas, this was not to be, thanks to the disastrous policies of the Russia's first post-communist President, Boris Yeltsin.

One of the most unfortunate facts in history is that the break-up of the USSR occurred with the rise of The architect of Yeltsin's economic policies was Yegor Gaidar whose programme would end up destroying the economy of the newly independent Russian Federation, For example by lifting all controls on prices, massive inflation occurred which wiped out the life savings of many people including the elderly. In response to these prices, a strict austerity program was instituted that resulted in massive cuts in public spending which threw millions of those dependent on social welfare programs into poverty, Privatization of formerly state-owned enterprises resulted in these companies being acquired at basement prices by a small group of oligarchs who soon dominated the Russian economy.

Demographic and economic number shows the grim results of these policies. According to the World Bank, certainly no lover of Soviet state socialism, poverty went from 1.5% to well into the mid-forties by 1993. Income inequality grew in Russia to the same level as Brazil, while unemployment

"Oceania, 'Tis For Thee"

A fine national anthem of Oceania from the 1984 film version of Nineteen Eighty-Four.