Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The End of History (really)

I had to re-read this article a few times because I really couldn’t believe it.

Apparently there are a lot of neo-Nazis in Russia today. Although statistics are unreliable, this article claims that there are 50,000 neo-Nazis in Russia today.

Another recent article in the Economist quotes anti-Polish sentiment running high on a new November holiday, with more mentions of neo-Nazis shouting “Sieg, Heil”. You need a subscription, but the article is titled “Those Pesky Poles” at the web site. From the article:

Whether or not nationalism was the motive, Moscow's young racists were quick to
exploit the holiday. Several hundred marched through the city, some performing
Nazi salutes and chanting “Sieg, heil!
The usual paraphernalia of Russian demonstrations went with them: malfunctioning
metal detectors, hordes of riot police in rickety buses. When the youths
dispersed, a smaller rally was held by tsarists, with black uniforms and
Orthodox icons. An outnumbered Communist babushka vainly tried to sell newspapers with the headline “Russians: Stalin
is your saviour!”

Really, I guess I need to reconsider what it is that I know and what I think other people know. If the Russians, whose entire identity seemed to be wrapped up in beating Hitler and fascism, are now pretty indifferent about the whole thing, then what has the world come to? What assumptions should we make?

I think that the real issue is that there is little or no historical memory. These countries in Europe and in Asia have forgotten the past, often because they feel that it has no bearing on their lives today or it is wrapped up with the “lost decades” when their countries were occupied by Russia and under socialism.

The France that I think of isn’t the France of history, it is a few people clinging to power, with low fertility, surrounded by a sea of immigrants who share none of that country’s history and in fact want to see it burned down. And every day the tide of history turns against them (the historical French).

For all the vilification of George Bush at least he can ignore the past and look to the future – that Europe is (mostly) a dying backwater (except for England, which embraced capitalism and immigration of top talent from around the world) and that the future will be in the middle east, with the tinder keg of oil riches and religious extremism and Asia, which is rapidly modernizing and bringing challenges of their own.

I have books on my shelf and a memory of history but perhaps it is all out-dated. Maybe history really has ended now and we need to determine who our friends and enemies are, unburdened by views of the past.

It is sad because our friends in fact will be outnumbered by our enemies. South America has gone backwards into debt, economic chaos and democracy is weak. Africa keeps facing massive troubles, and the countries that once seemed to be reforming, like Uganda, are slipping backwards. Europe is weak and has neglected their economy, making it a good life for those with state jobs and creating a boiling underclass of unemployed immigrants with no historical ties to the state. The Middle East is rising, buoyed by oil revenues and nuclear weapons. Asia will be the new future, with three billion people and a rapidly modernizing economy. China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and Singapore will face off, since more or less none of them can stand one another when you really get down to it.

I realize that this post has gone all over the place, and it all started with neo-Nazis in Russia, which to me is some sort of sign of the apocalypse, for history as we know it, at least.

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