Powerful business interests can debilitate elected officials by threatening to transfer jobs and capital if corporate ‘requests’ aren’t accommodated. (The SNC-Lavalin corruption scandal is one example.)
The political crippling is worsened by news media that’s naturally critical of incumbent governments, especially about job and capital transfers and economic weakening.
Our “First Past the Post” electoral system, which just barely qualifies as democratic, serves corporate lobbyists well. Powerful interests generally resist attempts to change to proportional representation electoral systems, which dilute corporate lobbyist influences. Low-representation FPTP-elected governments are easiest for lobbyists to manipulate.
Frank Sterle Jr.
White Rock, B.C.
On the peace listservs there is a lot of talk lately about whether to “humiliate” Russia for invading Ukraine. Humiliation is an extremely important motivation for warfare — probably more important than material advantages and disadvantages. The main reason for Putin’s attack is that he and millions of other Russians resent having been treated as a lesser world power since the USSR broke up. They accuse us of being “triumphalist” in claiming to have “won the Cold War.”
Well, I sort of agree. We should not shame our enemies if we want to get along. I don’t think we did, but they think we did, and that matters. I would like to accommodate them, for I believe in peace.
But my God, it’s impossible now. Humiliation is too mild a word. Starting a war is not a simple social blunder, like wearing dirty work clothes to a wedding. That’s why there’s a scandal in Canada now because the Global Affairs ministry sent a representative on June 12 to Russia’s celebration of its Independence Day.
Nobody should accept their excuse for invading Ukraine. Nobody should forgive them unless they acknowledge culpability. Outrage is obligatory.
And yes, while holding them legally and morally accountable, we should also recognize their legitimate need for security in the future and therefore develop a new system of common security through the UN. These psychologically contradictory attitudes actually can be compatible if we retain both honesty and good will.
I’m a citizen of the Russian Federation living in Moscow, so I bear a certain moral responsibility for what Russia does. I am ashamed of this Russia, ashamed of almost all the thirty years that it has existed. I am ashamed of its deception and force, of its manipulating people.
The first moment of shame was in October 1993 in the execution of the Supreme Soviet and the brutal suppression of street protests by Yeltsin’s sudden decree to replace the constitution that was then in force. The next shameful moment was in 1994 when war began “for the demilitarization of Chechnya” with carpet bombing that destroyed the city of Grozny and killed tens of thousands of people. This forever changed the mentality of a small Caucasian country that once breathed a peculiar charm. The shame I experienced then, I remember and still can’t fully express.
I am ashamed of the state that fought terrorism in Dubrovka by shooting people who could resemble terrorists in their appearance. I have never been to Georgia, but I am ashamed of the situation there when Georgian female shooters, seeing the journalists’ flag on the door of a Russian military car, lowered their rifles, and were immediately killed by someone flying this flag.
I am ashamed of Russia’s role during the Kiev Maidan of 2014, for the special operation in the Crimea, for the provocative policy that made the residents of Donbass hostages. And now I’m ashamed again because I live here and there is very little I can do. The world is now a glass house, and personal shame acquires global outlines, but what is done on your behalf inevitably becomes the dominant source of shame.
You who are now saying that for the first time you are ashamed of Russia and Putin and of your helplessness: I really hope that your shame does not last long, and that you will not have to experience all this again later.
Peace Magazine July-September 2022, page 5. Some rights reserved.