Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nicholas Kristof neo-liberal hack or fascist apologist?

In going through some old articles, I found one from the New York Times from December 15, 2004. The timing of this isn't so much important as the concept is. In the opinion piece written by Nicholas Kristof . Kristof seems to be a Clintoniod neo-liberal. That is he's pro-human rights in the most obvious places Darfur, China, the Turkish denial of Armenian genocide, etc. Although he's come out in favor of sweatshops. The sweatshops are apparently why South Korea and Taiwan who accepted sweatshops as the price of development- are countries with low rates of infant mortality and high levels of education, while India- which generally has resisted sweatshops - suffers from a high rate of infant mortality (3.1 million Indian children under the age of 5 die every year, mostly from diseases of poverty.) Why not give them a livable wages and make them work a little less. That chunky guy in Amarillo can wait another few months before he gets his size XXXXL Dallas Cowboys jersey, can't he? Oh, that's right it would "destroy competition".

Anyway, the op-ed piece is called "Bullying by Russia haunting neighbors". After listing a litany of spot-on critiques of Vladimir Putin's "poisonous politics" tactics he says:

"In effect, Putin has steered Russian from a dictatorship of the left to a dictatorship of the right (Chinese leaders have done much of te same thing). Mussolini, Franco, Pinochet, (former North Korean dictator) Park Chung Hee and Putin all emerged in socieites suffering from economic and political chaos. All consolidated power in part because they established power order and made the trains - or planes - run on time. That's why Putin stull has 70 percent approval ratings in Russian: He has done well economically, presiding over growth rates of 5 to 10 percent...Russians say, by a margin of 70 to 21 that a strong leader can solve their problems better than a democratic form of government."

The Chinese are ruled by a reactionary hypercaptialist government with a few faux-state socialist flourishes just to make to make everyone feel "safe". I'm not sure which "wing" they belong to but regardless it's a corrupt government with a shitload of money. The "strong leader" idea seems to be part true and part conventional wisdom when it comes to Russia. The next part of Kristof's piece is the WTF part:

"Still, a fascist Russia is much better thing than a Communist Russia. Communism was a failed economic system while Franco's Spain, Pinochet's Chile and the other generated solid economic growth, a middle class and international contacts - ultimately laying the groundwork for democracy. Eventually we'll see pro-democracy demonstrations in Moscow like those in Kiev." (Referring to Ukraine's "Orange Revolution" of 2004).

So, what kind of country does Russia have if their only choices are Communism or Fascism? This is what they were dealing with in WWII. I don't think anyone with a real strive toward real freedom would want to be that limited. On the other hand there are people that still miss Stalin. According to the London Times:

"A recent poll by the All Russian Public Opinion Research Centre found that 50 per cent of respondents thought Stalin’s role in history was positive".

Oddly enough there are pro-democracy demonstrations in Russia. or at least a variety of groups who want to express their democratic rights to free expression. Then again these demos are usually led by the batshit crazy National Bolsheviks aka: The Worst Extremes of the left and right. Not exactly a "great day for democracy" when these lunatics are representing it.

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