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Cecily Cecily

Writing Worth Reading

The Collapse Of The USSR And The Illusion Of Progress

The Soviet collapse 25 years ago freed the Baltic states and the communist satellites of eastern Europe to prosper. Elsewhere the legacy is mixed. “In at least half of the countries of the former USSR a new dictatorship replaced the old, often with the same cast of oppressors. The vast majority of the ex-Soviet population finds itself under authoritarian rule at a standard of living well below the level of 1990″ (1,255 words)

Life In The Chechen Closet

Probably NSFW. From the same “Queer Russia” series as Brokeback In Belarus. And every bit as remarkable. A gay waiter in Gudermes tells all. “In the Chechen coterie there are few versatile men; lots of active guys, but they never let anyone fk them in the ass. These are dzhigit (macho) matters. If you fk someone in the ass, but don’t let anyone do it to you, then you’re still a dzhigit; and not a faggot” (3,660 words)

Brokeback In Belarus

Two male tractor drivers live together in a remote village in Belarus. Both had wives and children before discovering they were in love with each other. Their wives left, taking the children. Transcript of a frank and touching conversation. About love, marriage, sex. “The village has accepted it. But then, this is a dead village, there’s nobody here but pensioners. The old dears found it a bit weird, of course, but they soon go used to it” (3,600 words)

Is China More Democratic Than Russia?

Russia has assumed the outward appearance of a democracy, but none of the substance. Opposition is allowed but ignored. Policy is dictated. China is more classically authoritarian in structure, but much more inclusive in the process of policy formation. The leadership is constantly experimenting with political and economic models

Chavez To Eternity

Sympathetic, well-informed assessment of Venezuelan leader’s record and legacy. “The changes Chávez established were not of systems but of personnel; those who were poor, mestizo or excluded have entered power, but in the process have not managed to change the way power works, nor the circuits of patronage and dependence it relies upon” (2,181 words)

Chavez To Eternity

Sympathetic, well-informed assessment of Venezuelan leader’s record and legacy. “The changes Chávez established were not of systems but of personnel; those who were poor, mestizo or excluded have entered power, but in the process have not managed to change the way power works, nor the circuits of patronage and dependence it relies upon”

Would Democratic Change In Russia Transform Foreign Policy?

Changes in global energy and strategic fundamentals, deterioration of Russia’s political climate, greatly diminish Russia’s allure for foreign partners. Looks more and more like a 19C autocracy stranded in a 21C world. Some deduce that democratic shift is inevitable. But even a more democratic government would have much the same foreign policy

The Politics Of Suicide

On the rhetoric of Greek political parties, as we approach new elections: “Suicide is the negation of a certain type of politics. Even as a rhetorical device, suicide remains an act rather than a word; and democracy needs words”

Law & Order, Take Two

One for fans of the long-running TV series, as broadcasting exec who acquired Law & Order for the UK compares the British and American versions. In particular the US episode “Mayhem” and its UK remake “Dawn to Dusk”

Siege Of Leningrad 70 Years On

Hitler decided to starve the city out. Almost succeeded. 750,000 civilians died of hunger and disease. Greatest loss of life in any modern city. Tragedy minimised, sanitised by Soviets, embarrassed that Germans had got so far

Britain’s Children

UK has a duty to act in best interests of its children. But it locks up more young offenders than any European country. Even nine year olds pass nights in police cells. It’s “clearly in breach” of UN convention. Urgent change needed

Into Europe

Excellent read on what Europe means to Ireland. First it was the money. Then came equal pay for women, decriminalisation of homosexuality, a sense of connectness. Now it’s back to the money. But this time it’s flowing the other way

Uses And Abuses Of Happiness

Ideas of national well-being and happiness have become a central feature of British public policy. But the debate confuses four schools of thought: Aristotelian philosophy, social statistics, behavioural psychology, and self-help

Them And Us

Informative, thought-provoking review of new Will Hutton book, which argues for new model of “fairness” in society, owes much to Schumpeter when trying to strike balance between individual and collective good

Real Greek Economy

Interesting sociological account of Greek economy. “Culture of opportunism”. Very different from EU norm. No internalisation of social rules. Individuals rarely co-operate, except to make demands

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