Grasping the Implications

Garry Kasparov connects the dots among Islamist extremism, Putinism, and North Korean totalitarianism:

Globalization has effectively compressed the world in size, increasing the mobility of goods, capital and labor. Simultaneously this has led to globalization across time, as the 21st century collides with cultures and regimes intent on existing as in centuries past. It is less the famous clash of civilizations than an attempt by these “time travelers” to hold on to their waning authority by stopping the advance of the ideas essential to an open society.

Radical Islamists, from the Taliban and al Qaeda to Boko Haram and Islamic State, set the time machine to the Dark Ages and encourage the murder of all who oppose them, often supported by fatwas and funds from terror sponsors like Iran. The religious monarchies in the Middle East are guilty by association, creating favorable conditions for extremism by clamping down on any stirring of freedom.

Vladimir Putin wants Russia to exist in the Great Power era of czars and monarchs, dominating its neighbors by force and undisturbed by elections and rights complaints. The post-Communist autocracies, led by Mr. Putin’s closest dictator allies in Belarus and Kazakhstan, exploit ideology only as a means of hanging on to power at any cost.

In the East, Kim Jong Un’s North Korea attempts to freeze time in a Stalinist prison-camp bubble. In the West, Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela and the Castros in Cuba use anachronistic socialist propaganda to resist increasing pressure for human rights.

They’re not the only ones. The same dream applies to the Chinese leadership, abetted by the Googles and Ciscos of the world, and to the American businesses desperate to protect old business models that depend on controlling the access to information.

But information wants to be free and it wants to be shared. Al Qaeda, Putin, North Korea, and China understand the implications. We’re just late to grasping them.

6 comments… add one
  • ... Link

    I think the Apples & Googles of the world get it, and are on board. China’s leadership can let them get away with whatever they want, while here they may, on rare occasion, be held to account.

    At the very least, it ought to be easier to figure out who to pay off & how.

  • Ben Wolf Link

    Kasparov may have some skill at moving rhinocerous horn across an equilateral platform mounted on an elevated surface, but historical analysis appears well out of his league.

    There is no “future”. There is no, despite the delusions of Western elites, inevitable destiny toward which the world moves and some misguided dead-enders are fighting against.

    This notion that culture and history are reducible to a few paragraphs, and that ideologies considered “bad” can all be thrown together into the same analytical framework is crazy, unhelpful and possibly dangerous.

  • TastyBits Link

    But information wants to be free and it wants to be shared. …

    But people do not want to be free. People are sheep. They yearn for the safety of the flock. They believe that there is safety in numbers, but the numbers do not make them stronger. The numbers make them less likely to be eaten by a wolf.

    Some of the alpha sheep will be leaders, but these are the least weak of the weak. They do not have the ability to protect their brother and sister sheep. When the flock becomes truly fearful of the wolves, they search for a shepherd to protect them.

    Another aspect of security is surety. They want to know that tomorrow will be like today. People do not want to wake up each morning to a new experience, and they do not want to spend all day investigating each action to determine whether it will kill or maim them or their family.

    They want to know that the bridge will not collapse. They want to know that their money is safe in the bank. They want to know that the burger they purchased will not kill them. They are not gamblers, and they are not risk takers.

    … Al Qaeda, Putin, North Korea, and China understand the implications. …

    [I have deliberately inverted @Dave Schuler’s argument.]

    They do understand this implicitly or explicitly. Russia, North Korea, and China are countries with historical nationalities and cultures to build upon. Putin and historical Russia are tangle into a Gordian knot or a Mobius strip. The leaders or dictators of other autocratic countries are usually the same. The Egyptian military does not control Egypt by mistake. At this time, it is the natural order.

    al-Qaeda has no natural sheep base, and instead, they have tried to recruit the wolves. What they have been able to recruit are sheep who are willing to wear wolves clothes. (Wolves do not sacrifice themselves.)

    In non-wealthy societies/communities, a sheep who puts on wolves clothes will be treated as a wolf, and in these societies/communities, wolves can expect negative feedback and physical abuse. A sheep in wolves clothes will quickly learn his/her place.

    In wealthy societies/communities, this sheep never learns this valuable lesson, and when an opportunity to become a member of a pack arises, he/she takes it.

    Presently, the Islamic religion is the medium in which this dynamic is occurring, but it is the same in gangs and white supremacist organizations. The major difference is the size of the medium, and more importantly, Islamic countries support the dynamic.

    … We’re just late to grasping them.

    The US will probably never grasp that power is the basis for actions not freedom. The basis for US was a rejection of security, surety, and most of what goes with it. This immigrant spirit is at odds with the native desire for security and surety. That is a large part of the ongoing political debate.

    In Europe, they are or will be grasping it soon, and it will not end well. If history is any guide, the Jews will be blamed somehow.


    The Reformation and liberalizing of Islam in the Western sense will require the injection of Greek philosophy (metaphysics and epistemology) into the culture, and if it were to occur, it will not be soon. Liberalization and liberty require an independent individual, and that requires Greek philosophy.

    The Ottoman Empire is abhorrent to the Western mind, especially the 21st Century evolved one, but as we are witnessing, it was the natural order. What was imposed was unnatural, and the natural methods to control the problem were removed.

    The advantage of an Ottoman Empire or a Soviet Union is a single point of contact. If one of their underlings is causing a problem, it is their responsibility to get the problem fixed.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Did not like what I heard Obama say about Russia last night, even if I at least partly enjoyed the sentiment. The President should be too big for such playground name-calling. There are people that can be paid to do that sort of thing.

  • ... Link

    If it makes you feel any better, PD, Samantha Power was getting pissy with the Russians today on Twitter.

  • Andy Link

    I wish Kasparov the best of luck, but the deck is stacked against him.

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