Stories from the New China (and beyond)

Sunshine came softly through my window today…

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Yesterday I woke up to this (the news that the opposition leader of Venezuela had fled the country). Now the honest truth is that I pay little attention to Latin America. It’s not my expertise, so perhaps I’m wrong…but, well, anyway, in my pre-coffee, still REM-like state, I saw a sort of linkage. President Obama’s dreamy handshake with Hugo Chaves kept running through my mind, as did other images of opening gambits–a North Korean missile launch, planes flying homeward from a Kyrgiztan base, operating tables in China, Iranian centrifuges spinning away–the images of a hobbesian world outside my window.

Anyway, the first 100 days of the Obama Administration has left a few things to be concerned about: unchecked behavior of dictators in China, Russia, and Iran, the feeding of an unproductive Congressional and media obsession with Bush-the-bad and Obama-the-double-plus-good, an equally unproductive politicization of intelligence, and the possibility that deficit spending will frog-march the public into endless debt financing.

All these concerns came crashing in to my little apartment in London on a day in April to the point where I was waiting for the clocks to start striking thirteen, and the telescreen to start screeching at me to touch my toes…Seriously, keep in mind, that I’m a fifty-year-old guy and a keen enough observer. Balances shift back and forth like a pendulum–I know that. And I did not have this feeling during the Clinton years. If a force is created, so there will be a counterforce, always. Above all, I am an optimist about human nature. Given enough calories, and no lead in the pipes, enough of us will think straight.

Yet there were times in history where strawberry ices on the lawns would soon be replaced by craters and mud, where wolves were on the roads and life would never, ever, be the same: 1913, 1938, those sorts of years. Yesterday, I felt something odd; I felt that my usual optimism was like Anne Frank’s: Soft, fragile, inspiring, and ultimately, terribly wrong.

I’ll try to avoid naval-gazing posts such as this in the future. But on the off-chance that we are in the equivalent of 1936, or perhaps even 1937, I want my premonition on the record.

Written by eastofethan

April 23, 2009 at 11:47 am

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