“On a cold march afternoon in 1949, Wolfgang Leonhard slipped out of the East German Communist Party Secretariat, hurried home, packed what few warm clothes he could fit into a small briefcase, and then walked to a telephone box to call his mother. “My article will be finished this evening,” he told her. That was the code they had agreed on in advance. It meant that he was escaping the country, at great risk to his life.
Though only 28 years old at the time, Leonhard stood at the pinnacle of the new East German elite. The son of German Communists, he had been educated in the Soviet Union, trained in special schools during the war, and brought back to Berlin from Moscow in May 1945, on the same airplane that carried Walter Ulbricht, the leader of what would soon become the East German Communist Party. Leonhard was put on a team charged with re‑creating Berlin’s city government.
He had one central task: to ensure that any local leaders who emerged from the postwar chaos were assigned deputies loyal to the party. “It’s got to look democratic,” Ulbricht told him, “but we must have everything in our control.”
Leonhard had lived through a great deal by that time. While he was still a teenager in Moscow, his mother had been arrested as an “enemy of the people” and sent to Vorkuta, a labor camp in the far north. He had witnessed the terrible poverty and inequality of the Soviet Union, he had despaired of the Soviet alliance with Nazi Germany between 1939 and 1941, and he knew about the Red Army’s mass rapes of women following the occupation. Yet he and his ideologically committed friends “instinctively recoiled from the thought” that any of these events were “in diametrical opposition to our Socialist ideals.” Steadfastly, he clung to the belief system he had grown up with.”
DL: The second half of this deep dive is about the Trump administration and it’s enablers.
Source: Why Do Republican Leaders Continue to Enable Trump? – The Atlantic
In 2009, Turkey’s tax ministry imposed a $2.5 billion fine for alleged tax evasion on Dogan Yayin, a media conglomerate whose newspapers and television stations were critical of the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Under financial and political pressure, the company began unloading some assets and closing others. Last month, the billionaire Aydin Dogan sold his remaining media properties, including the influential Hurriyet newspaper and CNN Turk, to a group of Erdogan loyalists.
Modern authoritarians rarely seize critical newspapers or TV stations outright. Instead, they use state power to pressure critics and reward friends. As Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, professors at Harvard, wrote in their recent book “How Democracies Die,” President Vladimir Putin of Russia turned the tax authorities on Vladimir Gusinsky, owner of an independent television network, NTV, which was considered bothersome. Gusinsky eventually signed NTV over to a government-controlled company. Under Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan authorities accused Guillermo Zuloaga, owner of Globovisión, a TV station frequently critical of the government, of illegal profiteering. In 2013, Zuloaga sold Globovisión to allies of Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro.
Now Donald Trump is going after Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post.
via Opinion | The Autocrats’ Playbook – The New York Times
Thank you Michelle Goldberg. Here are the top three comments, which I endorsed.
“In the first half of the 1990s, I worked in Europe for The Wall Street Journal. I covered nothing but good news: the reunification of Germany, the liberation of Central Europe, the fall of the Soviet Union, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the Oslo peace process in the Middle East. Then, toward the end of my stay, there was one seemingly anomalous episode — the breakup of Yugoslavia.
In retrospect, the civil war in the Balkans was the most important event of that period. It prefigured what has come since: the return of ethnic separatism, the rise of authoritarian populism, the retreat of liberal democracy, the elevation of a warrior ethos that reduces politics to friend/enemy, zero-sum conflicts.
In those intervening years there’s been an utter transformation in the unconscious mind-set within which people hold their beliefs.
Back in the 1990s, there was an unconscious abundance mind-set. Democratic capitalism provides the bounty. Prejudice gradually fades away. Growth and dynamism are our friends. The abundance mind-set is confident in the future, welcoming toward others. It sees win-win situations everywhere.”
via The End of the Two-Party System – The New York Times
David Lindsay Jr: Brilliant writing David Brooks. You ended, “The scarcity mentality is eventually incompatible with the philosophies that have come down through the centuries. Decent liberals and conservatives will eventually decide they need to break from it structurally. They will realize it’s time to start something new.”
We definitely need a change, and you are correct in pointing out that scarcity will get worse, (since overpopulation and climate change continue to get worse.)
One of your commenters is right, that to equate the two parties is a false equivalence. If our democracy can survive the fascists now trying to make it a GOP one party system, there will be a renaissance of Democrats and Independents for at least 8 years. The republicans will either listen to voices like yours and clean themselves up, or be replaced, if we are lucky and successful, with a more environmentally aware conservative party.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com