SACW - 21 March 2018 | Afghanistan: Women’s Shelters Seized / Burma: Women in Buddhist Nationalism / Sri Lanka: Anti-Muslim Riots / Bangladesh: Might is right / Pakistan: yellow stars / India Pakistan Tensions & Arms Race / India: anti science / Russian Fascism / Facebook’s Surveillance Machine

Harsh Kapoor aiindex at
Wed Mar 21 05:51:55 EDT 2018

South Asia Citizens Wire - 21 March 2018 - No. 2978 
[via South Asia Citizens Web - since 1996]

1. What’s Attracting Women to Myanmar’s Buddhist Nationalist Movement ? | Isabel Marler, Macarena Aguilar
2. Anti-Muslim Riots in Sri Lanka | Irfan Engineer
3. Bangladesh: ’Might is right is the only language we have reverted to as a society’ - Rafida Bonya Ahmed
4. What prevents Pakistan and India from starting an uninterrupted dialogue ? |  Zubeida Mustafa
5. India: Prevent Destruction of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) - Statement by Former JNU Faculty
6. Announced: International Seminar on The Landmark Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons - Opportunities and Challenges | 24-25 March 2018, New Delhi
7. Recent on Communalism Watch:
 - India: Why Political Parties Play Upon Fears of Muslims - Political opportunism requires a consolidated community, living in perpetual fear
 - India: Lingayat leadership is under an erroneous belief that recognition of a religious community depends on law
 - India: Cow Vigilantism - Crime, Community and Livelihood - Press Conference and Release of PUDR Report (22 March 2018)
 - India: The Communal Politics of Eviction Drives in Assam
 - India: BJP’s Forays in North Eastern States and anti Minority Agenda | Ram Puniyani
 - India: The Congress in Karnataka has surrendered to identity politics this election season
 - India: BJP and the RSS "signalled their cadres" to destroy statues of those who oppose their Hindutva ideology
 - Khalistan and Hindu rashtra | Jawed Naqvi
 - India - Mangaluru pub assault: How the prosecution derailed the case against the Sri Ram Sene
 - India’s liberals must take on both Hindu and Muslim communalists says Ramachandra Guha
 - India: ‘Hindu liberalism shouldn’t need the crutches of Muslim liberalism’ Asghar Ali Engineer 2004 response to Ramachandra Guha
 - Indian Kashmir: From Srinagar, a new crop of militants who kill and die in the name of religion, not politics
 - India: Ram Rahim’s ‘vision’, presence still looms large over Dera Sacha Sauda in Haryana
 - India - Bihar: A procession of BJP, RSS and Bajrang Dal workers — led by Union MoS Ashwini Kumar Choubey’s son sparks communal clashes in Bhagalpur
 - India: The rise in the number of communal incidents targeting Muslims in Gujarat Village
 - India: Hindu Mahasabha's Hindu new year calendar refers to Mecca as Macceshwar Mahadev temple 
::: URLs & FULL TEXT :::
8. Afghan Government Moves to Seize Control of Women’s Shelters – Again | Heather Barr
9. Mass arrests in Maldives as activists defy emergency
10. Pakistan: Our yellow stars | Irfan Husain
11. On India Pakistan Tensions and on-going Arms Race 
12. Neoabolitionism’s last laugh: India must rethink trafficking | Prabha Kotiswaran 
13. Treaty that backfired? | Mohammed Ayoob
14. India: Hindutva's Tall Claim Making on Science - Select Editorials and Commentary
15. India: After Gorakhpur - The BJP's losses in the bypolls have created new possibilities | Mukul Kesavan 
16. India: Why may a municipal hospital be better than a private one with more amenities? Charles Assisi
17. India: Separate freedoms | Suhrith Parthasarathy
18. Angry French pensioners revolt over hike in social contributions payments | Manuel Jardinaud, Mathilde Goanec and Romaric Godin 
19. Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach | Carole Cadwalladr and Emma Graham-Harrison
20. Facebook’s Surveillance Machine | Zeynep Tufekci
21. Ivan Ilyin, Putin’s Philosopher Of Russian Fascism | Timothy Snyder	
22. France: Gaddafi relations haunt Sarkozy in 2007 campaign financing case | Tracy Mcnicoll
Amid Myanmar’s transition towards democracy, a dangerous Buddhist nationalist movement is on the rise, and women are playing a key role.

by Irfan Engineer
The recent anti-Muslim riots in Kandy, Sri Lanka, once again demonstrate that religion is becoming more salient in public domain, including politics, in South Asia.

Avijit Roy – a prominent secularist and atheist – had earned his share of friends and enemies since 2001 after he set up the Mukto-Mona website. It was the first platform of its kind for Bengali atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and secular writers. His wife, Rafida Bonya Ahmed, was one of its contributors. On February 26, 2015, the couple became the target of their enemies when machete-wielding attackers tried to silence them forever outside the Dhaka Ekushey Book Fair. Brutally attacked, the duo lay in a pool of blood outside the bookfair premises.

by Zubeida Mustafa
THE disputes between India and Pakistan have cast a long and dark shadow over their relationship since the two countries stepped out of colonial bondage in 1947. The circumstances surrounding their birth made it inevitable that ill feelings would mar ties and make coexistence difficult. But did it have to be so forever? This question is now being asked by sane and rational people on both sides of the border. Even after seven decades that saw a major reconfiguration of the map of South Asia through three wars and the breakup of Pakistan, this question has a strange urgency to it.

5. India: Prevent Destruction of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) - Statement by Former JNU Faculty
We the undersigned former teachers of JNU are dismayed by the turn of events in the university since the present vice-chancellor has assumed office. The strength of JNU since its inception had been its democratic ethos marked by mutual respect, and cooperation between its three main constituents, the students, the faculty and the administration

6. Announced: International Seminar on The Landmark Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons - Opportunities and Challenges | 24-25 March 2018, New Delhi

 - India: Why Political Parties Play Upon Fears of Muslims - Political opportunism requires a consolidated community, living in perpetual fear
 - India: Lingayat leadership is under an erroneous belief that recognition of a religious community depends on law
 - India: Cow Vigilantism - Crime, Community and Livelihood - Press Conference and Release of PUDR Report (22 March 2018)
 - India: The Communal Politics of Eviction Drives in Assam
 - India: Jawaharlal Nehru’s views on religion and secularism as read by Rajeev Bhargava
 - India: BJP’s Forays in North Eastern States and anti Minority Agenda | Ram Puniyani
 - India: The Congress in Karnataka has surrendered to identity politics this election season
 - India: BJP and the RSS "signalled their cadres" to destroy statues of those who oppose their Hindutva ideology
 - Khalistan and Hindu rashtra | Jawed Naqvi
 - India - Mangaluru pub assault: How the prosecution derailed the case against the Sri Ram Sene
 - India’s liberals must take on both Hindu and Muslim communalists says Ramachandra Guha
 - India: ‘Hindu liberalism shouldn’t need the crutches of Muslim liberalism’ Asghar Ali Engineer 2004 response to Ramachandra Guha
 - Indian Kashmir: From Srinagar, a new crop of militants who kill and die in the name of religion, not politics
 - India: Ram Rahim’s ‘vision’, presence still looms large over Dera Sacha Sauda in Haryana
 - India - Bihar: A procession of BJP, RSS and Bajrang Dal workers — led by Union MoS Ashwini Kumar Choubey’s son sparks communal clashes in Bhagalpur
 - India: The rise in the number of communal incidents targeting Muslims in Gujarat Village
 - India: Hindu Mahasabha's Hindu new year calendar refers to Mecca as Macceshwar Mahadev temple and certain mughul monuments as hindu temples
 -> available via:
::: URLs & FULL TEXT :::
Afghan Government Moves to Seize Control of Women’s Shelters – Again
by Heather Barr
Human Rights Watch, 
19 March 2018

[photo] Members of civil society organizations chant slogans during a protest to condemn the killing of 27-year-old woman, Farkhunda, who was beaten with sticks and set on fire by a crowd of men in central Kabul in broad daylight on Thursday, in Kabul March 24, 2015. © 2018 Reuters

More than 8 out of 10 Afghan women and girls will suffer domestic and other violence in their lifetime. Before 2001, they had nowhere to run. These days there are some safe havens: the country’s tiny, but desperately important, network of women’s shelters.

But these shelters are now under attack – and not for the first time – by Afghanistan’s own government. Last month, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) announced plans to seize control of shelter funding provided by foreign donors, and instead require shelter operators to seek funding through the ministry. This might sound reasonable – a hallmark of President Ashraf Ghani’s government has been a push for greater government control over donor funds in the name of anti-corruption.

But we’ve seen this before. In 2011, MoWA also pushed for control of the shelters and used the same rhetoric as this time – alluding to “problems” in the refuges and suggesting – falsely – that shelters are brothels. But these abusive lies have been spread for years by opponents of women’s rights, who believe that women should have no safe haven from their husband no matter how violent and that a father or brother should have total control over the life – or death – of a woman.

In 2011, I was one of several lawyers who spent many hours reviewing the regulation MoWA sought to impose on shelters. It was clear that it intended to deprive women of refuge. Under the regulation, women would have been forced to convince a panel that they deserve shelter, and to undergo humiliating and medically meaningless “virginity tests.” Worst of all, they would have been turned over to their families at the relatives’ request – although nearly all were fleeing abuse from their own family.

In 2011, and in 2013 when MoWA tried again, international donors who fund the shelters fought back.

But foreign donor interest in Afghanistan has fallen dramatically. It is far from clear that they will fight again to save the shelters.

I have met Afghan women whose lives were saved by these refuges. I remember the fear in their eyes. If donors don’t act – and fast – they will have even more to fear. 

Heather Barr
Senior Researcher, Women's Rights Division

The Straits Times
March 17, 2018

COLOMBO (AFP) - Maldivian authorities arrested more than 140 activists who defied a ban on rallies and demonstrated against a state of emergency imposed by President Abdulla Yameen, the opposition said Saturday (March 17).

Thousands of supporters poured into the streets of the capital island Male on Friday night and continued their protest rally till early Saturday, the joint opposition said in a statement issued in Colombo.

"Ignoring President Yameen's edicts banning protests, and braving police and army pepper spray and tear gas, the protests swelled to thousands strong by the early hours of Saturday morning," the statement said.

It said 141 pro-democracy supporters were arrested following what it called the biggest anti-Yameen protest to rock the Maldives since May Day 2015 when similar mass arrests were carried out.

Maldivian police confirmed the latest arrests and said 139 people, including 26 women, remained in custody Saturday morning. Two people had been released overnight.

Police also confirmed that they used pepper spray and teargas to disperse the crowds who marched through the streets despite the state of emergency imposed by Yameen last month.

The opposition said three members of parliament were among those arrested on Friday.

Yameen is facing increasing opposition both within and outside his tiny Indian Ocean archipelago since coming to power in November 2013 following a controversial run off election against former president Mohamed Nasheed.

Last month, Yameen extended a draconian state of emergency by another month, ignoring a growing chorus of international concern and calls for democracy to be restored in the honeymoon islands.

Yameen declared the emergency earlier in February, curtailing the powers of the judiciary and the legislature, after the country's Supreme Court ruled to quash criminal convictions against high profile opposition politicians.

The Maldives' highest court has since revoked its order after two top judges were arrested, seemingly giving Yameen the upper hand in a bitter power struggle.

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has described the state of emergency as "an all-out assault on democracy" and urged Yameen to return the country to democracy and rule of law.

The ongoing unrest has dented the Maldives' image as a popular holiday destination.

March 17, 2018

THE Islamabad High Court’s recent ruling that Pakistanis have to declare their faith to obtain birth certificates, ID cards and passports, and to get on to voters’ lists has generated a debate on the possible outcome of the implementation of the judgement; it has also heightened concerns that minority religious communities could be pushed even further from the mainstream. Although the court does not identify them, there is a perception that the reference in the ruling is to the Ahmadi community.

According to the judgement, failure to declare one’s faith is tantamount to a “betrayal of the state” and “exploiting the Constitution”.

This is an odd position considering that the Constitution guarantees equal rights for all citizens, and enjoins the state to protect the minorities.

    Intolerance is ingrained in our society.

The ruling makes it compulsory for citizens to take an oath regarding their faith when joining the civil services, the armed forces and the judiciary. As far as I am aware, the military does not discriminate according to faith, though it is now rare to see a non-Muslim climb beyond a certain level of the hierarchy.

The question is, why should an individual’s faith be the business of the state? Frankly, I am not concerned about my neighbour’s religion, or, indeed, lack of one. As long as a citizen has not broken the law, why can’t he get an ID card, a birth certificate or a passport without declaring his faith? And how exactly does a failure to do so amount to a betrayal?

Our minorities are being rendered even more vulnerable to abuse and persecution. Pakistan ranks among the 15 most religiously intolerant countries in the world. Unsurprisingly, most of them have Muslim majorities. If non-Muslim citizens now have their faith recorded on their ID cards, how many will get jobs?

Unfortunately, intolerance is ingrained in our society. As I.A. Rehman reminded us in a recent speech at an event to celebrate Asma Jahangir’s life, this business of identifying minorities has a long and dishonourable history. In the Nazi-occupied Europe of the 1940s, Jews were forced to wear distinguishing yellow stars on their sleeves. This made them vulnerable to daily harassment and humiliation. It also made them easier to identify and transport to concentration camps during the Holocaust.

But the Nazis did not invent the yellow stars: mediaeval Europe is full of examples of anti-Semitic persecution, and rulers as well as the Church made Jews display their faith. And while Muslims claim that their treatment of Jews was better than that accorded to them by Christians, the record is mixed at best.

There were periods in which Jews rose to eminent positions in Muslim Spain and the Ottoman Empire. But equally, there were pogroms and riots that saw Jews killed and their property destroyed. In Morocco, one of the more tolerant Muslim countries in the 19th century, Jews were forced to walk barefooted or wear straw shoes when they emerged from their ghettos. Thus identified, they became easy targets of harassment and humiliation.

Is this the sort of Pakistan we want? As it is, many non-Muslims have fled the persecution they suffer from. Many of my Christian school friends from St Patrick’s have emigrated. As kids in the 1950s and 1960s, we were not concerned about what religion our friends followed. But with time, the state, the clergy — and even individuals — started taking an inordinate interest in the beliefs of others.

Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims in 1974. Zia’s 1984 Ordinance XX forbade Ahmadis from “posing as Muslims”. Even the mention of an Islamic verse on a wedding invitation was enough for a jail sentence. Over the years, hundreds of Ahmadis have been killed and jailed.

And they aren’t the only ones: Hindus and Christians, too, have felt the lash of our zeal. Many have been victimised through the misuse of our blasphemy laws. Even if they have been declared innocent by the courts, they remain at risk from bloodthirsty clerics and the mobs the latter can whip up.

One of the factors that drives this frenzy is the sense of immunity that zealots are given by the state’s refusal to protect our minorities. In all the hundreds of incidents involving attacks on non-Muslims, how many perpetrators have been arrested and sentenced?

When screaming mobs are told by clerics that it is their religious duty to kill an alleged blasphemer, what would stop them but the power of the state? But when the state chooses to become a bystander, who will protect an illiterate Christian woman accused by spiteful Muslim neighbours of desecrating religious verses?

We often ask why the world has ganged up against us, blaming foreign powers for their nefarious designs. But we need to look at our own actions for answers.

Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2018

11. On India Pakistan Tensions and on-going Arms Race 
India: 5 Missile Tests in Two Months

Pakistan Has Just Tested the Ultimate Nuclear Missile

Pakistan suspects India may target CPEC installations: Dawn report

Situation on LoC, working boundary with India rapidly deteriorating: Pak FM

FO expresses disappointment at India's 'failure' to issue visas to Ajmer Sharif pilgrims

Another Grim India-Pakistan Day as Harassment of Diplomats Continues

Viewpoint: India and Pakistan up the ante on disputed border

'The Doomsday Machine': Daniel Ellsberg's Riveting Memoir Flags the Risks of a Nuclear Winter

Open Democracy 
20 March 2018

India’s new trafficking bill seeks a wide array of new powers to punish, but does nothing to address the causes of exploitation in the first place.

Carpet weaving in Rajastan, India. Jeffrey Leventhal for ILO/Flickr. CC (by-nd)

In October 2017, India vehemently protested the release of the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage (GEMS) by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Walk Free Foundation (WFF) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). GEMS estimated that there were 40.3 million  ‘modern slaves’ worldwide with 24.9 million persons in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage.

GEMS did not name countries, but the writing on the wall was clear. After all, the GEMS study conducted 17,000 survey interviews in India, compared to 1000 interviews in most countries, and 61.78% of the 40.3 million ‘modern slaves’ were in Asia and the Pacific. Furthermore, the WFF had, the year before, estimated that of the 45.8 million ‘modern slaves’ worldwide, 40% were in India alone. Registering its protest with the ILO, India vowed to undertake its own surveys. Bibek Debroy, economic adviser to the prime minister and member of Niti Aayog (the think-tank responsible for the sustainable development goals or SDGs), was scathing in his critique of GEMS. He called its estimates on forced marriage “confused and fuddled” and urged reliance on the government’s reports on child marriage.

But as GEMS forms the baseline for achieving SDG 8.7 (requiring states to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking; prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labour; and by 2025 end child labour), India’s desire to measure ‘more’ and ‘better’ to protect its international image is wholly inadequate. Rather than succumb to the cult of the numbers game played by international organisations and philanthrocapitalists, India could be more ambitious.

It could, for example, assert a leadership role in the global fight against exploitation by countering the influence of neo-abolitionism. This is a discourse that perpetuates sensationalist accounts of ‘modern slaves’ as victims tricked by unscrupulous traffickers, beaten into submission for exploitation and whose only hope is to be rescued, rehabilitated and repatriated by law-enforcing heroes. After all, long before neo-abolitionist groups like WFF and a handful of western countries set the global (and Indian) policy agenda on ‘trafficking’, India and Brazil had already developed a rich, indigenous jurisprudence on exploitation with a structural understanding of coercion and exploitation in labour markets backed by a creative regulatory response. But sadly, today, the Indian government is set to introduce the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill (Trafficking Bill), which exemplifies neo-abolitionism.
Yet another flawed law

Elsewhere I have written about India’s complex patch-work of anti-trafficking laws ranging from the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) to the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986 (ITPA) to social welfare legislations on contract labour, bonded labour and inter-state migrant work. While criminal laws like the IPC and ITPA target ‘bad men’ traffickers (rotten apples), labour laws presume endemic exploitation in Indian labour markets and use a combination of penal, labour and contract laws to impose obligations for better working conditions on intermediaries. Unfortunately, as the topic of trafficking gained international prominence, the Indian government began to understand trafficking as equivalent to sex trafficking and sex work itself. It came close to punishing customers of sex workers in 2005 and conflated trafficking with voluntary sex work in 2013.

The current definition of trafficking in Section 370 of the IPC is not limited to the sex sector. However, despite the abysmally low convictions for trafficking worldwide (below 6000 in 2013), and the historical abuse of the criminal law in several Asian countries to further marginalise vulnerable populations, the Trafficking Bill, which builds out Section 370 and has been in the works since May 2016, is patently neo-abolitionist.

The bill is highly carceral and pursues the classic raid-rescue-rehabilitation model, with stringent penalties for trafficking, including life imprisonment for its aggravated forms, reversals of burden of proof and provisions for stripping traffickers of their assets. It creates a plethora of new institutions with unclear roles, capacious powers (including for surveillance) and no accountability, alongside a parallel adjudication machinery with special courts and special public prosecutors. There is no clarity on how the bill relates to the ITPA and to labour laws.

What should India do instead? In a recent statement, scholars, activists and workers’ rights groups argued against extending a criminal law, raid-rescue-rehabilitation model beyond sex work to other labour sectors. They called instead for a multi-faceted legal and economic strategy; robust implementation of labour laws; a universal social protection floor; self-organisation of workers; improved labour inspection, including in the informal economy; and corporate accountability for decent work conditions.

They also reiterated the need for systemic reforms to counter distress migration; end caste-based discrimination; ensure sustainable development; redistribute resources; enforce the rural employment guarantee legislation; avoid the indiscriminate ‘rescue’ of voluntary sex workers; and protect migrants’ mobility and rights, domestically and internationally.

As the introduction of the trafficking bill in parliament appears imminent, only a bold, creative and holistic response to what is fundamentally a socio-economic problem of labour exploitation can help realise SDG 8.7. Otherwise, the very neo-abolitionists that the Indian government countered last year will have the last laugh. 

13. TREATY THAT BACKFIRED? | Mohammed Ayoob
The Hindu
March 20, 2018

The Shimla Agreement of 1972 was expected to be a milestone in India-Pakistan relations, for not only did it rend Pakistan asunder, but India also held 93,000 prisoners of war (POWs) who could constitute a major bargaining chip with Pakistan.

India had three primary objectives at Shimla. First, a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue or, failing that, an agreement that would constrain Pakistan from involving third parties in discussions about the future of Kashmir. Second, it was hoped that the Agreement would allow for a new beginning in relations with Pakistan based upon Pakistan’s acceptance of the new balance of power. Third, it left open the possibility of achieving both these objectives without pushing Pakistan to the wall and creating a revanchist anti-India regime.

There was a near-consensus among Indian policymakers that India must not pull a “Versailles” on Pakistan. A humiliated Pakistan, it was argued, would inevitably turn revanchist. This was the reason India did not force Pakistan to convert the ceasefire line in Kashmir into the international boundary when Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto ruled out this option. It accepted the term Line of Control (LoC) instead, thus delinking it from UN resolutions and highlighting that Kashmir was a purely bilateral affair.

India was inclined to return the POWs but was constrained from doing so because they had surrendered to the joint India-Bangladesh command and could not be returned without the latter’s concurrence. Dhaka made it clear that it would not return the POWs until Islamabad recognised Bangladesh, thus delaying the POWs’ return until 1974.

However, despite its soft line on Kashmir and the POWs, India was unable to prevent the military from taking power in Islamabad in 1977 and executing Bhutto. General Zia-ul-Haq’s coup had a major bearing on India’s other objectives. Zia’s strategy was to use the Afghan insurgency in the 1980s to acquire sophisticated arms from the U.S. and induce Washington to ignore Pakistan’s clandestine quest for nuclear weapons. Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear capability created a situation of deterrence negating India’s superiority in conventional power and instated de facto military parity between the two countries. The 1999 Kargil War validated the success of deterrence when India desisted from taking the war into Pakistani territory. Deterrence also provided the shield for the Pakistani military to take the “war” into Indian Kashmir through its proxies, the terrorist groups created and supported by the ISI. Nuclear weapons prevented India from retaliating on Pakistani territory.

The Shimla Agreement did not fully achieve any of India’s objectives. If anything, it may have whetted the Pakistani military’s appetite to try to turn Kashmir into India’s Bangladesh.

Mohammed Ayoob is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Relations, Michigan State University, and Senior Fellow, Center for Global Policy, Washington, DC

Deccan Chronicle
March 18, 2018

Don’t mix science, Hindutva

These utterances at a science congress become even more curious considering that to quote Hawking is like asking the devil to quote scripture.

Harsh Vardhan, the Union minister of science and technology, has a bee in his bonnet about the Vedas being the fount of all knowledge, including esoteric scientific theories. We have the utmost respect for the Vedas, particularly the Upanishads, as a compendium of philosophical treatises that have so much wisdom and knowledge to offer mankind. But the fact that this minister believes the Vedas postulated a theory superior to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and that the recently deceased cosmologist Stephen Hawking acknowledged it makes him unfit to be the Union minister of science and technology. Since the science minister is said to have drawn from Hawking’s wisdom from a fake website, we wonder what his agenda is.

These utterances at a science congress become even more curious considering that to quote Hawking is like asking the devil to quote scripture. Now Hawking did not believe in God, saying there was no need for a creator to have been around to make the Big Bang happen and the inflation of the universe to take place. The Big Bang theory represents the very opposite of what the texts of all religions would have us believe. While it is to be appreciated the Indian government would indeed like to further the spirit of scientific inquiry and harness it for progress, its science minister clouds the scenario somewhat by trying to meld science and faith. We have reason to believe that in matters of pure science men of great intellect like Einstein and Hawking have excelled. Don’t drag their science to promote Hindutva.

o o o 

The Times of India
March 19, 2018

Fake news trap: Science minister should be warning people against dubious online content

Union science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan’s proclamation at the 105th Indian Science Congress that British physicist Stephen Hawking had said that the Vedas might contain a theory superior to Albert Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2, appears a classic case of falling into the fake news trap. His source is reported to be the website of one Institute of Scientific Research on Vedas which in turn references a fake Stephen Hawking Facebook page. Vardhan, a medical doctor himself, chose a gathering of the best Indian scientific minds to make a pronouncement on science with zero credibility. This not only dishonours Indian science, but is also an example of how fake news spread through social media is distorting perceptions and political debate worldwide.

Perhaps Hawking’s demise last week compelled Vardhan to pay tribute to the famous scientist. And perhaps Hawking’s alleged statement on the Vedas spoke to Vardhan’s cognitive biases. In fact, this is the big danger in the age of social media. When it tallies with what people already believe, reflecting their confirmation bias, people are likely to buy inauthentic “information” as authentic. And given the viral nature of social media – as well as its propensity to create echo chambers – misinformation can spread like an epidemic.

In its worst form, this can lead to riots among communities and tensions between nations. This is all the more reason why people should be turning to authentic and credible sources of information rather than blindly relying on social media content. And if social media can’t be avoided, cross-checking content with multiple sources including books, journals and newspapers would help avoid the fake news trap. Vardhan, as science and technology minister, should himself be educating people about fake online information.

o o o 


Trustee's Rebuttal - Minister's Claim On Hawking
G.S. Mudur and Amit Roy Mar 18, 2018

A Science Minister – and an Event – That Insults Indian Science
Harsh Vardhan and the administration to which he belongs have only displayed a lack of trust in the morality of India's scientists.
by Vasudevan Mukunth

Mukul Kesavan
The Telegraph
 March 18, 2018

The Bharatiya Janata Party's defeats in the by-elections in Gorakhpur, Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh and Araria in Bihar are significant because these two provinces alone elect more than a fifth of the Lok Sabha. With a general election imminent, these results from the Hindi heartland inevitably raise questions about the BJP's chances of repeating the electoral sweeps of North Indian states that propelled it to an absolute majority in 2014. It's worth remembering that in UP alone the BJP and its ally, the Apna Dal, won 73 seats out of a possible 80.

Apart from providing pundits with material to speculate about India's political future, these results help clarify the recent past. The most interesting question thrown up by the BJP's overwhelming victory in the UP assembly elections in March 2017 was this: why did the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi choose to elevate an extremist Hindu monk to the chief ministership of Uttar Pradesh?

One answer to this question was that the BJP was so beholden to Adityanath for its victory, especially in eastern UP, that his claims to the top job were irresistible. So despite the fact that he wasn't Modi's first choice (or so the speculation went), he got the job because the sangh parivar didn't want a thwarted Adityanath making trouble for the BJP in UP. In this explanation, the BJP sought to domesticate the feral Adityanath by vesting him with the responsibilities of office.

The other, simpler, explanation of his elevation was that Modi who had won the UP election without specifying a chief ministerial candidate on the strength of the sangh parivar's organization and his own charisma chose Adityanath because he thought the time was right to symbolically redeem the promise of a Hindu rashtra. What better way to formally inaugurate the Hindu supremacist project than to make an aggressively majoritarian mahant the ruler of the most politically important state in India?

The second explanation was always the more likely one because it was simpler and accorded with the facts of that election as it unfolded, but if confirmation was needed, the Gorakhpur by-election supplied it. The Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat has been literally owned by the Gorakhnath temple's mahant for decades now. As the chief minister of UP, with all the resources of the State at his disposal, this mighty monk couldn't retain the pocket borough he had just vacated despite campaigning vigorously for his party's candidate. Forget the constituency, Adityanath couldn't even win the polling booth that he customarily votes in. Praveen K. Nishad, the winning candidate, rubbed it in: "BJP got just 43 votes on the polling booth covering Gorakhpur Math where Adityanath cast his vote while SP polled 1,775 votes here. Clearly, the CM is no mass campaigner."

While his party's managers might have been taken by surprise by the result, it wasn't because they saw Adityanath as a mass campaigner; they merely expected him to be able to retain his own backyard as they would any local strongman. Adityanath was made chief minister of UP because he literally embodied reaction: his saffron habit, his vigilante army, his 'Love jihad', his 'anti-Romeo' squads and his gift for incendiary provocation made him a poster boy for Hindu supremacy. Before his elevation, he had called for the family of Mohammad Akhlaque (a man lynched by cow vigilantes) to be arrested, for the compensation given to them to be revoked and for the release of everyone accused of murdering Akhlaque from prison. It was for communal provocations of this sort that he was made chief minister: to indicate that this was what the unfettered Hindu politician looked like. Adityanath was Hindutva Unbound.

Commentators have puzzled over why the BJP recently used Adityanath as a campaigner in southern states like Kerala and Karnataka. A glowering, parochial, monolingual mahant isn't likely to mobilize the Malayali or Kannadiga masses. But this is to mistake his purpose. For the BJP, Adityanath's persona is a shout-out to its core constituency: 'This is who we really are.' He is a reminder of the quality that differentiates the BJP from other parties, its commitment to Hindu supremacy. He is not the BJP's mass campaigner, nor its charismatic crowd-puller; that is and always was Modi. Adityanath is its mascot, its portable, full motion animation of the aggrieved Hindu.

The manner of his humiliation in Gorakhpur has created new political possibilities. The BJP swept UP twice, in the general election of 2014 and, then, the assembly election three years later because its opposition was divided. The lesson of coalition politics had been taught by the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar that defeated the BJP despite Modi's best efforts in the state assembly elections there. The prospect of a grand coalition in UP has been explored before in the early 1990s but there is a powerful sociological argument against it: the principal conflicts in rural Uttar Pradesh are between powerful OBC communities like the Yadavs and Dalits.

The conventional sociological wisdom ignores a few things. One, the Bahujan Samaj Party has always sought the support of non-Yadav OBCs. The winner in Gorakhpur was P.K. Nishad, the son of the founder of the Nishad Party, who used to be a protégé of Kanshi Ram, but later left the BSP. The BSP, on Mayavati's instructions, supported Nishad wholeheartedly in the Gorakhpur election. Secondly, Akhilesh Yadav's willingness to offer a ticket to a non-Yadav OBC party indicates an awareness on his part of the necessity to expand the Samajwadi Party's footprint beyond Yadavs and Muslims. Three, the enthronement of Adityanath has led to a sharp uptick in Thakur violence in UP, to the extent that Dalits seem more willing to overlook the history of Yadav violence to vote for an SP candidate. And four, the boost that an allliance's candidates would receive from consolidated Muslim support ought to be a real incentive for a subaltern coalition.

Gorakhpur demonstrated that the BSP can swing its votes to the SP. What remains to be seen is if the SP can get the Yadavs to reciprocate. One reason why Mayavati hasn't been interested in pre-poll coalitions is that while her constituency does her bidding when it comes to transferring the BSP's votes to another party, it isn't clear, given the entrenched prejudice against Dalits, that the SP's core constituencies would be willing to vote for the BSP's candidates.

But if the SP is serious about winning UP in the general elections and forestalling a second BJP majority government, it has to commit itself to helping its alliance partners win because the BJP is an existential threat to both parties. They have been wiped out twice over: in 2014 and 2017. The lesson from Bihar is clear: hang together or hang separately. The other lesson from Bihar is how difficult it is to stay together. Having found a compelling reason to campaign together (survival), the BSP and the SP need to find a populist agenda that transcends caste fractions. It won't be easy but political extinction does tend to focus the mind.

Why may a municipal hospital be better than a private one with more amenities? Answers emerge when accidents happen, and convention is questioned17. 
Charles Assisi
 Mint on Sunday
 March 13 2018

A very long short: Early last week, the family driver met with a tragic episode. He fainted on the wheel and lost control of the car. Passing motorists figured something is the matter and attempted to cordon it off. A passer-by ran beside it, opened the door to get in, pulled the handbrake and got it to halt. Because the episode happened close to home, an acquaintance figured it is my car and I was promptly informed. 

On getting there in a few minutes, it was clear something was dreadfully wrong. The 37-year old sounded incoherent and was hallucinating. All accounts from witnesses to the episode suggested he had just had an epileptic seizure. He had to be pinned down and taken to a hospital right away. With help from strangers and an obliging taxi driver, he was rushed to the nearest hospital. 

En route to the place, calls were placed to friends in the neurosciences. Basis their prognosis over the phone and my limited understanding of the symptoms, a few outcomes looked possible. It could be anything from a haemorrhage in the brain triggered by high blood pressure or a seizure triggered by some kind of encephalitis. To zero in the real cause, medical protocol insisted first be sedated to rein in the violent behaviour, an MRI be conducted, and a few life-saving drugs be pumped in. Else permanent impairment or even death looked imminent.

On getting to the casualty ward, I didn’t think it pertinent to describe at length all of what transpired—but quickly summarise whatever happened and suggest he be restrained first and that urgent protocols as mandated when such behaviour is demonstrated be administered. I was stared right back at and told: “He looks perfectly all right to me.”

Even as the doctor said that, he got up and ran away from imaginary demons into oblivion. The security let him pass. They heard the doctor pronounce him hale and hearty. I yelled at the intensivist for thinking me an idiot. “I know what I’m talking about,” went unheard. But she looked right through me. 

Much later I was told she felt mighty offended. What protocol to follow is something she decides and isn’t dictated by anybody. I certainly didn’t look the kind who could offer informed advice—unkempt in a worn-out t-Shirt, sloppy shorts, stubble a few days old on my face, and bathroom slippers on my feet.

Just when it was time to lodge a man-missing complaint with the police, he reappeared on the horizon. This time, looking lost, dishevelled, and talking to ghosts. Much drama and another long story followed that lasted until mid-night when I finally sunk into bed, exhausted after all of what had transpired. 

In hindsight, the sanest piece of advice I received during the day was that he be taken to KEM Hospital in Mumbai. When I was first told that though, my reaction was “Any place, but not there”. How terribly, terribly wrong I was would be evidently only much later.

The first reaction KEM Hospital evoked from me is a uniform one that the “privileged” living in metropolitan cities like Mumbai feel. It has much to do with that this is a hospital managed by the Municipal Corporation of the city and owes its allegiance to the government. And the government, the privileged believe, have a track record of mismanaging pretty much everything. But because there was no resort or resource left with after much adventure through the day, it was the last option. 

KEM Hospital is like a parallel universe. An altogether different system that operates at a pace and rhythm that makes no sense to those who live outside of it. Throbbing with thousands of people of all kinds, at first glance, it looks like a war zone. Casualties are brought in every minute, their misery intact, some howling in pain, others waiting to die, many accompanied by wailing relatives, others by a harried police constable, even as the medical and para-medical staff work against the odds. It is inevitable then that they have neither the time or the inclination to engage in polite talk. Everybody looks rushed and sounds brusque.

With a convulsing man though, I imagined some latitude may be offered to get ahead of the others so that this creature, whose misery I was holding, could be offered some immediate relief. Instead, I was asked to stop being stupid, shut up and wait in a queue—because there were others whose misery looked greater. Broken heads, torn limbs, flowing blood, crying children, everybody looked and sounded even more miserable and desperate. 

It was soon evident why the professionals at work there look as rushed and sound as brusque as they do. They take calls every minute, every hour, every day, on their feet in harsh conditions. It can break down the hardiest of souls. There is no room for emotion. If any such thing be felt, it can be drowned elsewhere—but not here. There are real people that must be attended to. All of them must be paid equal attention. Time is at a premium. All help is appreciated, but not acknowledged. This is an ecosystem that has a mind of its own and gets on with life on its terms. 

A little while later, it was time for one of the overworked doctor to now look at the cranky mess of a man with me and his wailing wife as well in tow. The physician quickly heard me out and had no problem either with noting my opinion. He finally weighed all the evidence with a counterpart in a matter of a few minutes, so a call may be taken. I heard them quietly confer with each other quickly: “Herpes Simplex?” one wondered. 

Over the years, I have gotten to know enough about this strain of the virus. That compelled me to butt in and suggest that while the clinical symptoms may suggest that, the diagnosis can be misleading in my experience, and a deeper probe may be needed. They didn’t roll their eyes or look at me suspiciously. Instead they jotted it down on the case paper, agreed to hospitalise him right away, and investigate some more. Unlike the earlier place, there was no time or room for egos to clash. That was it. My job, he said, is done. I was asked to step aside so the system can take over to do whatever it thinks is appropriate. 

What system? I thought I couldn’t see anything, except chaos. Just then out of where somebody emerged out of someplace and directed me to another official, so my statement can be recorded for the police to verify my antecedents and that of the “person” I had brought in. They had to record my identity and that of whom I had got in. Over and out it was.

It took me a while to let it sink in that a system had indeed taken over. There was nothing else I could do. While I am not a medical professional, I do know that what I could see being executed, was as mandated by the latest advances in medicine. There is nothing else any of the doctors at KEM or somebody at the fanciest hospital could do better. 

At best, the private ones may have offered an illusion of offering better care because it can offer creature comforts like air-conditioned environments, private rooms, higher quality food, reassuring conversations, and a seemingly sanitised environment. It comes at a huge premium though—unaffordable to most uninsured Indians. 

Having witnessed all this, calls were placed to friends of all kinds: those who practice medicine, former teachers from my stream during college and affiliated to KEM Hospital, and friends in the media who report on the domain. A clear consensus emerged: They trust the medical professionals at KEM Hospital more than they do from any private medical entity in the city. 

For that matter, they argue, they trust large medical entities in the country trained to serve the poor, and look chaotic to the untrained eye, more than many professionally run, private medical institutions. This runs contrary to how hospitals such as KEM are perceived by those who live on the top of the economic pyramid. 

But if I were to be in there, I’d sure as hell would be desperate to get out. Why may anyone want to get into a system that seems strained at the leash? Even as this dispatch is being written, 4,500 para medical staffers and nurses have declared they will not report to work because the software that processes their salaries have malfunctioned. They haven’t been paid. How can anyone trust such a system with their lives and the lives of those that matter to them? What was I missing? 

It took me a long while to figure I am missing the forest for the trees. The reason people in the know suggested I place my trust in the ecosystem around KEM Hospital is because experience has taught them it is a trustworthy system. Trust is something that can be measured by metrics like opinion polls. But opinions are, well, opinions. It is subjective. Trustworthiness cannot be measured in any form. This was first put into perspective for me after listening in to the British philosopher Onora O’Neill in a short, but outstanding talk on what we don’t understand about trust. 

‘The aim is to have more trust. Well frankly, I think that’s a stupid aim. It’s not what I would aim at. I would aim to have more trust in the trustworthy…”

“It’s judging how trustworthy people are in particular respects….”

“And I think that judgment requires us to look at three things. Are they competent? Are they honest? Are they reliable? And if we find that a person is competent in the relevant matters, and reliable and honest, we’ll have a pretty good reason to trust them, because they’ll be trustworthy….”

“But that’s what we’re looking for: trustworthiness before trust. Trust is the response. Trustworthiness is what we have to judge. And, of course, it’s difficult. Across the last few decades, we’ve tried to construct systems of accountability for all sorts of institutions and professionals and officials and so on that will make it easier for us to judge their trustworthiness. A lot of these systems have the converse effect. They don’t work as they’re supposed to. I remember I was talking with a midwife who said, Rs.Well, you see, the problem is it takes longer to do the paperwork than to deliver the baby.’ And all over our public life, our institutional life, we find that problem, that the system of accountability that is meant to secure trustworthiness and evidence of trustworthiness is actually doing the opposite. It is distracting people who have to do difficult tasks, like midwives, from doing them by requiring them to tick the boxes, as we say.” 

“The aim, I think, is more trustworthiness, and that is going to be different if we are trying to be trustworthy and communicate our trustworthiness to other people, and if we are trying to judge whether other people or office-holders or politicians are trustworthy. It’s not easy. It is judgment, and simple reaction, attitudes, don’t do adequately here.”

When thought about, Onana O’Neill philosopher sounds so very right. My head was unwilling to trust the doctors at KEM because the attendant paraphernalia that accompanies a privately-run institution does not accompany them. They are burdened by having to attend to people in huge numbers and have no time for nice-talk. There are other pressing things to be attended to. Like fix a few more broken people. What my head couldn’t see is or measure is that they are trustworthy. They work in a demanding environment that insists they take complex calls. When they work as furiously as they do, it is inevitable then that they become better than others in the field. 

But the report cards can only measure what has been gleaned from the text-books. Like facts that can be trusted upon. There is nothing though that can showcase whether these facts will be deployed in just the right way, at the right time, and ingeniously if need be, to create a trustworthy doctor—except the word of those who may have seen them at work. Because trustworthiness, much like respect, must be earned, every day. 

Even as this making itself evident, his relatives started to come in. They looked distraught and looked at me for answers on what is to be done next. I had other things to do. Like meet a few deadlines. 

Calls were placed to two friends. “What do I do now? This guy looks in a real bad shape and his folks don’t know what to do.”

I knew what their answer would be. It is what I would have told them if they were where I was. But I needed to be doubly sure. 

“You’ve done what you can. The system has taken over. There is nothing else you can do. Get out and go back to work.”

As anticipated, some relatives called up a little later to suggest KEM Hospital is an awful place to be in and that they would much rather he be at private hospital. 

“Bad idea”, I said and hung up.

Charles Assisi is co-founder at Founding Fuel Publishing. His Twitter handle is @c_assisi.

17. INDIA: SEPARATE FREEDOMS | Suhrith Parthasarathy
The Hindu
March 21, 2018
Why did the court extend the deadline on linking Aadhaar to various
services, but refuse to grant one for welfare plans?

by Manuel Jardinaud, Mathilde Goanec and Romaric Godin
March 15, 2018 

French pensioners held nationwide protests on Thursday over a recent rise in a levy imposed on them to fund the country’s social security system, and which for many represents a yearly loss of several hundred euros. The demonstrations were organised by a united front of pensioners’ unions, who dismiss the government’s argument that the rise is necessary to finance a reduction in social security payments by young workers, what it calls a gesture of “inter-generational solidarity”. While the pensioners’ protest movement shows no signs of abating, some MPs among the ranks of Macron’s normally loyal LREM party have begun voicing their unease over the measure. Manuel Jardinaud, Mathilde Goanec and Romaric Godin report.   

Under rain and occasional thunder storms, thousands of pensioners took to the streets in Paris and several towns across France on Thursday to protest at cuts in net pension payments, notably following an increase introduced earlier this year on a social security levy that affects all but the lowest pensions.

The generalised social contribution (la contribution sociale généralisée), or CSG, introduced in 1991, is a payment imposed on income earners to help fund France’s indebted social security system, and in January this year President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government raised by one quarter (1.7%) the CSG levy on pensions equal or above 1,289 euros per month. The government has argued that the CSG hike for pensioners is necessary to offset its introduction of a 3% reduction in social security payments made by young workers, what it describes as "inter-generational solidarity" to give those starting out more purchasing power.

Meanwhile, planned measures which would have in part compensated the loss of income for pesnioners have been postponed and diluted, such as an exoneration of local housing tax for 80% of households.

For a vast number of pensioners receiving middle retirement income, the increase in the CSG payments will represent a loss of around 400 euros per year, and the widespread anger over the move was witnessed in the joint call for the demonstration on Thursday led by nine different union organisations representing pensioners. That united front is the first social movement of its kind since Macron arrived in office last May, and is in stark contrast to the failure of French trades unions to agree a common platform against labour law reforms introduced last autumn.

 “We’re told about the abolition of the housing tax to compensate for the rise in the CSG, but it has strictly nothing to do with it,” commented Michel Salingue, general secretary of one of the pensioners’ unions, the FGR-FP. “The end of the housing tax is a measure that concerns everyone, without taking into consideration that the end of that tax will result in fewer services [managed] by local authorities who will be deprived of it, and so [also] for users. So it’s all window dressing.”

“The average pension in France is 1,300 euros per month, and of course less for women,” added Salingue. “A number of them live below the poverty line. We will never be able to catch up on what’s taken away from us through a supposed rise in spending power, because our pensions are not indexed alongside salaries, like before, but against the evolution of prices.”

The organisations representing pensioners have so far been invited for discussions only by the health and social solidarity minister, Agnès Buzyn. Members of Macron’s ruling LREM party underline that the CSG rise was detailed in the president’s election campaign manifesto.

“I know I’m asking for an effort from the most elderly, that occasionally some express anger, that it doesn’t make one popular, but I take on the responsibility,” said Macron during a visit to Châlons-en-Champagne, in north-east France earlier this month, when he encountered a small group of angry pensioners during a walk through the town. Speaking on condition his name is withheld, one of the president’s close entourage said,” We think the [rise of the] CSG will be acceptable in the end”, adding: “When you know how to explain things, you can move against the tide of public opinion.”

But during another trip he made to Tours, in centre-west France, on Wednesday, Macron was again met by pensioners expressing dismay at the move (see video below, in French only), who appeared little convinced by his arguments, in which he underlined that the rise in pensioners’ contributions allowed for an inverse reduction in social security payments for wage earners, and notably younger, lower-paid employees.

“You have worked all your life to pay the pensions of your elders,” he told a small group of pensioners. “I have a lot of respect for elderly people, and all those who are retired, but I have to put the country’s economy back on the move […] For all those who work, they must earn more from work, that it picks up quicker, so that they can pay you a pension.”

“I ask you for a little effort to help me relaunch the economy and the active [population],” he added.

"We've worked all our life, we're not happy": pensioners tackle President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to Tours on March 14th. © BFMTV

Meanwhile, the staggered reduction in employees' social security contributions, which will be fully in place in October, will however be offset, in terms of immediate spending power, by the introduction in January 2019 of a generalised ‘pay as you earn’ system of income tax, which will be deducted from salaries on a monthly basis instead of the current once per year payment of income tax.

The anger among pensioners is further fuelled by recent reforms easing taxes on the most wealthy, such as the recalculation of the wealth “solidarity” tax, the ISF, as a tax on property value alone, and which no longer includes financial assets. In short, the argument, as set out by Macron in the filmed encounter with pensioners in Tours, that the retired should accept the rise in the CSG in solidarity to help younger generations, is regarded by some, as expressed above by union official Michel Salingue, as “window dressing” to mask the new shortfall in tax payments by the rich.   

Macron’s ruling LREM party leader, Christophe Castaner, who is also a junior minister for government relations with parliament, tackled on Wednesday in the lower house, the National Assembly, about the government’s policies regarding the redistribution of purchasing power, said: “The French people have voted in the elections. The president was elected on a clear contract [of policies which were] announced during a meeting on December 10th 2016, and this was never hidden.” Castaner was referring to Macron’s first major public meeting at the start of his election campaign.

On Thursday, as the pensioners took to the streets, Castaner released a long statement entitled “The inter-generational solidarity to support the working generation”, in which he repeated the arguments developed by Macron and his government over recent weeks. “While employment gets going again,” he wrote, referring to the recent fall in jobless numbers in France, “the government has decided to strongly support workers’ purchasing power. This support is funded most largely by the better management of public spending, but also, as Emmanuel Macron announced during his [election] campaign, thanks to the contribution at the beginning of this year of a section of pensioners who pay the rate of CSG”. Castaner added his “sincere” thanks to “all pensioners”.  

At stake also for the government is that the retired population in France represent a significant electorate, and which made up an estimated 25% of all those who voted in favour of Macron during the first round of the presidential elections last year, and 27% of those who chose him in the second round over far-right leader Marine Le Pen. In that final round last May, an estimated 65% of voters aged over 65 chose Macron.

Among the ranks of LREM Members of Parliament (MPs), even some of the most loyal admit to a failure in the government’s public presentation of the CSG hike for pensioners. “This measure was part of what we put forward during the [June 2017 parliamentary election] campaign, I’m convinced it’s a good measure,” said LREM MP Yaël Braun-Pivet, who heads the National Assembly law commission, but adding that the public argumentation “could have been better”.

Another LREM MP, Guillaume Chiche, agreed, saying that while he was in favour of the “inter-generational solidarity” demanded of pensioners, “the message is not easy to carry”, adding that in face of the protests, “We’re eager for the time to pass”. His LREM colleague Pierre Person, a Paris MP who was one of the first to rally behind Macron in his presidential bid, admitted the apparent contradictions perceived by public opinion over the government’s policy strategies. “When one angles a policy line on [attracting] investment, it’s difficult afterwards to talk about purchasing power,” he said.

But LREM MP Naïma Moutchou was more direct in her reservations over the pensions issue, revealing that “MPs have raised this failure within the [parliamentary] group”, adding: “This failure, I believe it actually exists not only in terms of communications.” One of the LREM parliamentary group’s spokesmen, Gilles Le Gendre, admitted that it was necessary to “explain the weakness of the measure”, implying that beyond questions over its presentation it was intrinsically unjust.  

For Michel Salingue, leader of the FGR-FP pensioners’ union, the move is more than simply unjust. “This manner of treating pensioners is scandalous,” he said. “That’s also what makes us react so sharply. We are ‘privileged’, a ‘golden generation’. Yes, we have more wealth than a 25-year-old youngster, but we have worked all our lives to pay for it, the house.”

Carole Cadwalladr and Emma Graham-Harrison
Whistleblower describes how firm linked to former Trump adviser Steve Bannon compiled user data to target American voters
How Cambridge Analytica’s algorithms turned ‘likes’ into a political tool

Zeynep Tufekci
The New York Times
March 19, 2018

Facebook users go to the site for social interaction, only to be quietly subjected to an enormous level of surveillance. Credit Thibault Camus/Associated Press

In 2014, Cambridge Analytica, a voter-profiling company that would later provide services for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, reached out with a request on Amazon’s “Mechanical Turk” platform, an online marketplace where people around the world contract with others to perform various tasks. Cambridge Analytica was looking for people who were American Facebook users. It offered to pay them to download and use a personality quiz app on Facebook called thisisyourdigitallife.

About 270,000 people installed the app in return for $1 to $2 per download. The app “scraped” information from their Facebook profiles as well as detailed information from their friends’ profiles. Facebook then provided all this data to the makers of the app, who in turn turned it over to Cambridge Analytica.

A few hundred thousand people may not seem like a lot, but because Facebook users have a few hundred friends each on average, the number of people whose data was harvested reached about 50 million. Most of those people had no idea that their data had been siphoned off (after all, they hadn’t installed the app themselves), let alone that the data would be used to shape voter targeting and messaging for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

This weekend, after this was all exposed by The New York Times and The Observer of London, Facebook hastily made a public announcement that it was suspending Cambridge Analytica (well over a year after the election) and vehemently denied that this was a “data breach.” Paul Grewal, a vice president and deputy general counsel at Facebook, wrote that “the claim that this is a data breach is completely false.” He contended that Facebook users “knowingly provided their information, no systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked.” He also said that “everyone involved gave their consent.”

Mr. Grewal is right: This wasn’t a breach in the technical sense. It is something even more troubling: an all-too-natural consequence of Facebook’s business model, which involves having people go to the site for social interaction, only to be quietly subjected to an enormous level of surveillance. The results of that surveillance are used to fuel a sophisticated and opaque system for narrowly targeting advertisements and other wares to Facebook’s users.
Facebook makes money, in other words, by profiling us and then selling our attention to advertisers, political actors and others. These are Facebook’s true customers, whom it works hard to please.

Facebook doesn’t just record every click and “like” on the site. It also collects browsing histories. It also purchases “external” data like financial information about users (though European nations have some regulations that block some of this). Facebook recently announced its intent to merge “offline” data — things you do in the physical world, such as making purchases in a brick-and-mortar store — with its vast online databases.

Facebook even creates “shadow profiles” of nonusers. That is, even if you are not on Facebook, the company may well have compiled a profile of you, inferred from data provided by your friends or from other data. This is an involuntary dossier from which you cannot opt out in the United States.
Despite Facebook’s claims to the contrary, everyone involved in the Cambridge Analytica data-siphoning incident did not give his or her “consent” — at least not in any meaningful sense of the word. It is true that if you found and read all the fine print on the site, you might have noticed that in 2014, your Facebook friends had the right to turn over all your data through such apps. (Facebook has since turned off this feature.) If you had managed to make your way through a bewildering array of options, you might have even discovered how to turn the feature off.

This wasn’t informed consent. This was the exploitation of user data and user trust.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that you had explicitly consented to turn over your Facebook data to another company. Do you keep up with the latest academic research on computational inference? Did you know that algorithms now do a pretty good job of inferring a person’s personality traits, sexual orientation, political views, mental health status, substance abuse history and more just from his or her Facebook “likes” — and that there are new applications of this data being discovered every day?

Given this confusing and rapidly changing state of affairs about what the data may reveal and how it may be used, consent to ongoing and extensive data collection can be neither fully informed nor truly consensual — especially since it is practically irrevocable.

What did Cambridge Analytica do with all the data? With whom else might it have shared it? In 2015, Facebook sent a stern letter to Cambridge Analytica asking that the data be deleted. Cambridge Analytica employees have said that the company merely checked a box indicating that the data was deleted, at which point Facebook decided not to inform the 50 million users who were affected by the breach, nor to make the issue public, nor to sanction Cambridge Analytica at the time.

The New York Times and The Observer of London are reporting that the data was not deleted. And Cambridge Analytica employees are claiming that the data formed the backbone of the company’s operations in the 2016 presidential election.

If Facebook failed to understand that this data could be used in dangerous ways, that it shouldn’t have let anyone harvest data in this manner and that a third-party ticking a box on a form wouldn’t free the company from responsibility, it had no business collecting anyone’s data in the first place. But the vast infrastructure Facebook has built to obtain data, and its consequent half-a-trillion-dollar market capitalization, suggest that the company knows all too well the value of this kind of vast data surveillance.

Should we all just leave Facebook? That may sound attractive but it is not a viable solution. In many countries, Facebook and its products simply are the internet. Some employers and landlords demand to see Facebook profiles, and there are increasingly vast swaths of public and civic life — from volunteer groups to political campaigns to marches and protests — that are accessible or organized only via Facebook.

The problem here goes beyond Cambridge Analytica and what it may have done. What other apps were allowed to siphon data from millions of Facebook users? What if one day Facebook decides to suspend from its site a presidential campaign or a politician whose platform calls for things like increased data privacy for individuals and limits on data retention and use? What if it decides to share data with one political campaign and not another? What if it gives better ad rates to candidates who align with its own interests?

A business model based on vast data surveillance and charging clients to opaquely target users based on this kind of extensive profiling will inevitably be misused. The real problem is that billions of dollars are being made at the expense of the health of our public sphere and our politics, and crucial decisions are being made unilaterally, and without recourse or accountability.

Zeynep Tufekci (@zeynep) is an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, the author of “Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest” and a contributing opinion writer.

NYR Daily / New York Review of Books
16 March 2018

This is an expanded version of Timothy Snyder’s essay “God Is a Russian” in the April 5, 2018 issue of The New York Review.

    “The fact of the matter is that fascism is a redemptive excess of patriotic arbitrariness.”
    —Ivan Ilyin, 1927

    “My prayer is like a sword. And my sword is like a prayer.”
    —Ivan Ilyin, 1927

    “Politics is the art of identifying and neutralizing the enemy.”
    —Ivan Ilyin, 1948

The Russian looked Satan in the eye, put God on the psychoanalyst’s couch, and understood that his nation could redeem the world. An agonized God told the Russian a story of failure. In the beginning was the Word, purity and perfection, and the Word was God. But then God made a youthful mistake. He created the world to complete himself, but instead soiled himself, and hid in shame. God’s, not Adam’s, was the original sin, the release of the imperfect. Once people were in the world, they apprehended facts and experienced feelings that could not be reassembled to what had been God’s mind. Each individual thought or passion deepened the hold of Satan on the world.

And so the Russian, a philosopher, understood history as a disgrace. Nothing that had happened since creation was of significance. The world was a meaningless farrago of fragments. The more humans sought to understand it, the more sinful it became. Modern society, with its pluralism and its civil society, deepened the flaws of the world and kept God in his exile. God’s one hope was that a righteous nation would follow a Leader into political totality, and thereby begin a repair of the world that might in turn redeem the divine. Because the unifying principle of the Word was the only good in the universe, any means that might bring about its return were justified.

Thus this Russian philosopher, whose name was Ivan Ilyin, came to imagine a Russian Christian fascism. Born in 1883, he finished a dissertation on God’s worldly failure just before the Russian Revolution of 1917. Expelled from his homeland in 1922 by the Soviet power he despised, he embraced the cause of Benito Mussolini and completed an apology for political violence in 1925. In German and Swiss exile, he wrote in the 1920s and 1930s for White Russian exiles who had fled after defeat in the Russian civil war, and in the 1940s and 1950s for future Russians who would see the end of the Soviet power.

A tireless worker, Ilyin produced about twenty books in Russian, and another twenty in German. Some of his work has a rambling and commonsensical character, and it is easy to find tensions and contradictions. One current of thought that is coherent over the decades, however, is his metaphysical and moral justification for political totalitarianism, which he expressed in practical outlines for a fascist state. A crucial concept was “law” or “legal consciousness” (pravosoznanie). For the young Ilyin, writing before the Revolution, law embodied the hope that Russians would partake in a universal consciousness that would allow Russia to create a modern state. For the mature, counter-revolutionary Ilyin, a particular consciousness (“heart” or “soul,” not “mind”) permitted Russians to experience the arbitrary claims of power as law. Though he died forgotten, in 1954, Ilyin’s work was revived after collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and guides the men who rule Russia today.

The Russian Federation of the early twenty-first century is a new country, formed in 1991 from the territory of the Russian republic of the Soviet Union. It is smaller than the old Russian Empire, and separated from it in time by the intervening seven decades of Soviet history. Yet the Russian Federation of today does resemble the Russian Empire of Ilyin’s youth in one crucial respect: it has not established the rule of law as the principle of government. The trajectory in Ilyin’s understanding of law, from hopeful universalism to arbitrary nationalism, was followed in the discourse of Russian politicians, including Vladimir Putin. Because Ilyin found ways to present the failure of the rule of law as Russian virtue, Russian kleptocrats use his ideas to portray economic inequality as national innocence. In the last few years, Vladimir Putin has also used some of Ilyin’s more specific ideas about geopolitics in his effort translate the task of Russian politics from the pursuit of reform at home to the export of virtue abroad. By transforming international politics into a discussion of “spiritual threats,” Ilyin’s works have helped Russian elites to portray the Ukraine, Europe, and the United States as existential dangers to Russia.


Ivan Ilyin was a philosopher who confronted Russian problems with German thinkers. This was typical of the time and place. He was child of the Silver Age, the late empire of the Romanov dynasty. His father was a Russian nobleman, his mother a German Protestant who had converted to Orthodoxy. As a student at Moscow between 1901 and 1906, Ilyin’s real subject was philosophy, which meant the ethical thought of Immanuel Kant (1724–1804). For the neo-Kantians, who then held sway in universities across Europe as well as in Russia, humans differed from the rest of creation by a capacity for reason that permitted meaningful choices. Humans could then freely submit to law, since they could grasp and accept its spirit.

Law was then the great object of desire of the Russian thinking classes. Russian students of law, perhaps more than their European colleagues, could see it as a source of political transformation. Law seemed to offer the antidote to the ancient Russian problem of proizvol, of arbitrary rule by autocratic tsars. Even as a hopeful young man, however, Ilyin struggled to see the Russian people as the creatures of reason Kant imagined. He waited expectantly for a grand revolt that would hasten the education of the Russian masses. When the Russo-Japanese War created conditions for a revolution in 1905, Ilyin defended the right to free assembly. With his girlfriend, Natalia Vokach, he translated a German anarchist pamphlet into Russian. The tsar was forced to concede a new constitution in 1906, which created a new Russian parliament. Though chosen in a way that guaranteed the power of the empire’s landed classes, the parliament had the authority to legislate. The tsar dismissed parliament twice, and then illegally changed the electoral system to ensure that it was even more conservative. It was impossible to see the new constitution as having brought the rule of law to Russia.

Employed to teach law by the university in 1909, Ilyin published a beautiful article in both Russian (1910) and German (1912) on the conceptual differences between law and power. Yet how to make law functional in practice and resonant in life? Kant seemed to leave open a gap between the spirit of law and the reality of autocracy. G.W.F. Hegel (1770–1831), however, offered hope by proposing that this and other painful tensions would be resolved by time. History, as a hopeful Ilyin read Hegel, was the gradual penetration of Spirit (Geist) into the world. Each age transcended the previous one and brought a crisis that promised the next one. The beastly masses will come to resemble the enlightened friends, ardors of daily life will yield to political order.

The philosopher who understands this message becomes the vehicle of Spirit, always a tempting prospect. Like other Russian intellectuals of his own and previous generations, the young Ilyin was drawn to Hegel, and in 1912 proclaimed a “Hegelian renaissance.” Yet, just as the immense Russian peasantry had given him second thoughts about the ease of communicating law to Russian society, so his experience of modern urban life left him doubtful that historical change was only a matter of Spirit. He found Russians, even those of his own class and milieu in Moscow, to be disgustingly corporeal. In arguments about philosophy and politics in the 1910s, he accused his opponents of “sexual perversion.”

In 1913, Ilyin worried that perversion was a national Russian syndrome, and proposed Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) as Russia’s savior. In Ilyin’s reading of Freud, civilization arose from a collective agreement to suppress basic drives. The individual paid a psychological price for sacrifice of his nature to culture. Only through long consultations on the couch of the psychoanalyst could unconscious experience surface into awareness. Psychoanalysis therefore offered a very different portrait of thought than did the Hegelian philosophy that Ilyin was then studying. Even as Ilyin was preparing his dissertation on Hegel, he offered himself as the pioneer of Russia’s national psychotherapy, travelling with Natalia to Vienna in May 1914 for sessions with Freud. Thus the outbreak of World War I found Ilyin in Vienna, the capital of the Habsburg monarchy, now one of Russia’s enemies.

“My inner Germans,” Ilyin wrote to a friend in 1915, “trouble me more than the outer Germans,” the German and Habsburg realms making war against the Russian Empire. The “inner German” who helped Ilyin to master the others was the philosopher Edmund Husserl, with whom he had studied in Göttingen in 1911. Husserl (1859–1938), the founder of the school of thought known as phenomenology, tried to describe the method by which the philosopher thinks himself into the world. The philosopher sought to forget his own personality and prior assumptions, and tried to experience a subject on its own terms. As Ilyin put it, the philosopher must mentally possess (perezhit’) the object of inquiry until he attains self-evident and exhaustive clarity (ochevidnost).

Husserl’s method was simplified by Ilyin into a “philosophical act” whereby the philosopher can still the universe and anything in it—other philosophers, the world, God— by stilling his own mind. Like an Orthodox believer contemplating an icon, Ilyin believed (in contrast to Husserl) that he could see a metaphysical reality through a physical one. As he wrote his dissertation about Hegel, he perceived the divine subject in a philosophical text, and fixed it in place. Hegel meant God when he wrote Spirit, concluded Ilyin, and Hegel was wrong to see motion in history. God could not realize himself in the world, since the substance of God was irreconcilably different from the substance of the world. Hegel could not show that every fact was connected to a principle, that every accident was part of a design, that every detail was part of a whole, and so on. God had initiated history and then been blocked from further influence.

Ilyin was quite typical of Russian intellectuals in his rapid and enthusiastic embrace of contradictory German ideas. In his dissertation he was able, thanks to his own very specific understanding of Husserl, to bring some order to his “inner Germans.” Kant had suggested the initial problem for a Russian political thinker: how to establish the rule of law. Hegel had seemed to provide a solution, a Spirit advancing through history. Freud had redefined Russia’s problem as sexual rather than spiritual. Husserl allowed Ilyin to transfer the responsibility for political failure and sexual unease to God. Philosophy meant the contemplation that allowed contact with God and began God’s cure. The philosopher had taken control and all was in view: other philosophers, the world, God. Yet, even after contact was made with the divine, history continued, “the current of events” continued to flow.

Indeed, even as Ilyin contemplated God, men were killing and dying by the millions on battlefields across Europe. Ilyin was writing his dissertation as the Russian Empire gained and then lost territory on the Eastern Front of World War I. In February 1917, the tsarist regime was replaced by a new constitutional order. The new government tottered as it continued a costly war. That April, Germany sent Vladimir Lenin to Russia in a sealed train, and his Bolsheviks carried out a second revolution in November, promising land to peasants and peace to all. Ilyin was meanwhile trying to assemble the committee so he could defend his dissertation. By the time he did so, in 1918, the Bolsheviks were in power, their Red Army was fighting a civil war, and the Cheka was defending revolution through terror.

World War I gave revolutionaries their chance, and so opened the way for counter-revolutionaries as well. Throughout Europe, men of the far right saw the Bolshevik Revolution as a certain kind of opportunity; and the drama of revolution and counter-revolution was played out, with different outcomes, in Germany, Hungary, and Italy. Nowhere was the conflict so long, bloody, and passionate as in the lands of the former Russian Empire, where civil war lasted for years, brought famine and pogroms, and cost about as many lives as World War I itself. In Europe in general, but in Russia in particular, the terrible loss of life, the seemingly endless strife, and the fall of empire brought a certain plausibility to ideas that might otherwise have remained unknown or seemed irrelevant. Without the war, Leninism would likely be a footnote in the history of Marxist thought; without Lenin’s revolution, Ilyin might not have drawn right-wing political conclusions from his dissertation.

Lenin and Ilyin did not know each other, but their encounter in revolution and counter-revolution was nevertheless uncanny. Lenin’s patronymic was “Ilyich” and he wrote under the pseudonym “Ilyin,” and the real Ilyin reviewed some of that pseudonymous work. When Ilyin was arrested by the Cheka as an opponent of the revolution, Lenin intervened on his behalf as a gesture of respect for Ilyin’s philosophical work. The intellectual interaction between the two men, which began in 1917 and continues in Russia today, began from a common appreciation of Hegel’s promise of totality. Both men interpreted Hegel in radical ways, agreeing with one another on important points such as the need to destroy the middle classes, disagreeing about the final form of the classless community.

Lenin accepted with Hegel that history was a story of progress through conflict. As a Marxist, he believed that the conflict was between social classes: the bourgeoisie that owned property and the proletariat that enabled profits. Lenin added to Marxism the proposal that the working class, though formed by capitalism and destined to seize its achievements, needed guidance from a disciplined party that understood the rules of history. In 1917, Lenin went so far as to claim that the people who knew the rules of history also knew when to break them— by beginning a socialist revolution in the Russian Empire, where capitalism was weak and the working class tiny. Yet Lenin never doubted that there was a good human nature, trapped by historical conditions, and therefore subject to release by historical action.

Marxists such as Lenin were atheists. They thought that by Spirit, Hegel meant God or some other theological notion, and replaced Spirit with society. Ilyin was not a typical Christian, but he believed in God. Ilyin agreed with Marxists that Hegel meant God, and argued that Hegel’s God had created a ruined world. For Marxists, private property served the function of an original sin, and its dissolution would release the good in man. For Ilyin, God’s act of creation was itself the original sin. There was never a good moment in history, and no intrinsic good in humans. The Marxists were right to hate the middle classes, and indeed did not hate them enough. Middle-class “civil society” entrenches plural interests that confound hopes for an “overpowering national organization” that God needs. Because the middle classes block God, they must be swept away by a classless national community. But there is no historical tendency, no historical group, that will perform this labor. The grand transformation from Satanic individuality to divine totality must begin somewhere beyond history.

According to Ilyin, liberation would arise not from understanding history, but from eliminating it. Since the earthly was corrupt and the divine unattainable, political rescue would come from the realm of fiction. In 1917, Ilyin was still hopeful that Russia might become a state ruled by law. Lenin’s revolution ensured that Ilyin henceforth regarded his own philosophical ideas as political. Bolshevism had proven that God’s world was as flawed as Ilyin had maintained. What Ilyin would call “the abyss of atheism” of the new regime was the final confirmation of the flaws of world, and of the power of modern ideas to reinforce them.

After he departed Russia, Ilyin would maintain that humanity needed heroes, outsized characters from beyond history, capable of willing themselves to power. In his dissertation, this politics was implicit in the longing for a missing totality and the suggestion that the nation might begin its restoration. It was an ideology awaiting a form and a name.


Ilyin left Russia in 1922, the year the Soviet Union was founded. His imagination was soon captured by Benito Mussolini’s March on Rome, the coup d’état that brought the world’s first fascist regime. Ilyin was convinced that bold gestures by bold men could begin to undo the flawed character of existence. He visited Italy and published admiring articles about Il Duce while he was writing his book, On the Use of Violence to Resist Evil (1925). If Ilyin’s dissertation had laid groundwork for a metaphysical defense of fascism, this book was a justification of an emerging system. The dissertation described the lost totality unleashed by an unwitting God; second book explained the limits of the teachings of God’s Son. Having understood the trauma of God, Ilyin now “looked Satan in the eye.”

Thus famous teachings of Jesus, as rendered in the Gospel of Mark, take on unexpected meanings in Ilyin’s interpretations. “Judge not,” says Jesus, “that ye not be judged.” That famous appeal to reflection continues:

    For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

For Ilyin, these were the words of a failed God with a doomed Son. In fact, a righteous man did not reflect upon his own deeds or attempt to see the perspective of another; he contemplated, recognized absolute good and evil, and named the enemies to be destroyed. The proper interpretation of the “judge not” passage was that every day was judgment day, and that men would be judged for not killing God’s enemies when they had the chance. In God’s absence, Ilyin determined who those enemies were.

Perhaps Jesus’ most remembered commandment is to love one’s enemy, from the Gospel of Matthew: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Ilyin maintained that the opposite was meant. Properly understood, love meant totality. It did not matter whether one individual tries to love another individual. The individual only loved if he was totally subsumed in the community. To be immersed in such love was to struggle “against the enemies of the divine order on earth.” Christianity actually meant the call of the right-seeing philosopher to apply decisive violence in the name of love. Anyone who failed to accept this logic was himself an agent of Satan: “He who opposes the chivalrous struggle against the devil is himself the devil.”

Thus theology becomes politics. The democracies did not oppose Bolshevism, but enabled it, and must be destroyed. The only way to prevent the spread of evil was to crush middle classes, eradicate their civil society, and transform their individualist and universalist understanding of law into a consciousness of national submission. Bolshevism was no antidote to the disease of the middle classes, but rather the full irruption of their disease. Soviet and European governments must be swept away by violent coups d’état.

Ilyin used the word Spirit (Dukh) to describe the inspiration of fascists. The fascist seizure of power, he wrote, was an “act of salvation.” The fascist is the true redeemer, since he grasps that it is the enemy who must be sacrificed. Ilyin took from Mussolini the concept of a “chivalrous sacrifice” that fascists make in the blood of others. (Speaking of the Holocaust in 1943, Heinrich Himmler would praise his SS-men in just these terms.)

Ilyin understood his role as a Russian intellectual as the propagation of fascist ideas in a particular Russian idiom. In a poem in the first number of a journal he edited between 1927 and 1930, he provided the appropriate lapidary motto: “My prayer is like a sword. And my sword is like a prayer.” Ilyin dedicated his huge 1925 book On the Use of Violence to Resist Evil to the Whites, the men who had resisted the Bolshevik Revolution. It was meant as a guide to their future.

What seemed to trouble Ilyin most was that Italians and not Russians had invented fascism: “Why did the Italians succeed where we failed?” Writing of the future of Russian fascism in 1927, he tried to establish Russian primacy by considering the White resistance to the Bolsheviks as the pre-history of the fascist movement as a whole. The White movement had also been “deeper and broader” than fascism because it had preserved a connection to religion and the need for totality. Ilyin proclaimed to “my White brothers, the fascists” that a minority must seize power in Russia. The time would come. The “White Spirit” was eternal.

Ilyin’s proclamation of a fascist future for Russia in the 1920s was the absolute negation of his hopes in the 1910s that Russia might become a rule-of-law state. “The fact of the matter,” wrote Ilyin, “is that fascism is a redemptive excess of patriotic arbitrariness.” Arbitrariness (proizvol), a central concept in all modern Russian political discussions, was the bugbear of all Russian reformers seeking improvement through law. Now proizvol was patriotic. The word for “redemptive” (spasytelnii), is another central Russian concept. It is the adjective Russian Orthodox Christians might apply to the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, the death of the One for the salvation of the many. Ilyin uses it to mean the murder of outsiders so that the nation could undertake a project of total politics that might later redeem a lost God.

In one sentence, two universal concepts, law and Christianity, are undone. A spirit of lawlessness replaces the spirit of the law; a spirit of murder replaces a spirit of mercy.


Although Ilyin was inspired by fascist Italy, his home as a political refugee between 1922 and 1938 was Germany. As an employee of the Russian Scholarly Institute (Russisches Wissenschaftliches Institut), he was an academic civil servant. It was from Berlin that he observed the succession struggle after Lenin’s death that brought Joseph Stalin to power. He then followed Stalin’s attempt to transform the political victory of the Bolsheviks into a social revolution. In 1933, Ilyin published a long book, in German, on the famine brought by the collectivization of Soviet agriculture.

Writing in Russian for Russian émigrés, Ilyin was quick to praise Hitler’s seizure of power in 1933. Hitler did well, in Ilyin’s opinion, to have the rule of law suspended after the Reichstag Fire of February 1933. Ilyin presented Hitler, like Mussolini, as a Leader from beyond history whose mission was entirely defensive. “A reaction to Bolshevism had to come,” wrote Ilyin, “and it came.” European civilization had been sentenced to death, but “so long as Mussolini is leading Italy and Hitler is leading Germany, European culture has a stay of execution.” Nazis embodied a “Spirit” (Dukh) that Russians must share.

According to Ilyin, Nazis were right to boycott Jewish businesses and blame Jews as a collectivity for the evils that had befallen Germany. Above all, Ilyin wanted to persuade Russians and other Europeans that Hitler was right to treat Jews as agents of Bolshevism. This “Judeobolshevik” idea, as Ilyin understood, was the ideological connection between the Whites and the Nazis. The claim that Jews were Bolsheviks and Bolsheviks were Jews was White propaganda during the Russian Civil War. Of course, most communists were not Jews, and the overwhelming majority of Jews had nothing to do with communism. The conflation of the two groups was not an error or an exaggeration, but rather a transformation of traditional religious prejudices into instruments of national unity. Judeobolshevism appealed to the superstitious belief of Orthodox Christian peasants that Jews guarded the border between the realms of good and evil. It shifted this conviction to modern politics, portraying revolution as hell and Jews as its gatekeepers. As in Ilyin’s philosophy, God was weak, Satan was dominant, and the weapons of hell were modern ideas in the world.

During and after the Russian Civil War, some of the Whites had fled to Germany as refugees. Some brought with them the foundational text of modern antisemitism, the fictional “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” and many others the conviction that a global Jewish conspiracy was responsible for their defeat. White Judeobolshevism, arriving in Germany in 1919 and 1920, completed the education of Adolf Hitler as an antisemite. Until that moment, Hitler had presented the enemy of Germany as Jewish capitalism. Once convinced that Jews were responsible for both capitalism and communism, Hitler could take the final step and conclude, as he did in Mein Kampf, that Jews were the source of all ideas that threatened the German people. In this important respect, Hitler was indeed a pupil of the Russian White movement. Ilyin, the main White ideologist, wanted the world to know that Hitler was right.

As the 1930s passed, Ilyin began to doubt that Nazi Germany was advancing the cause of Russian fascism. This was natural, since Hitler regarded Russians as subhumans, and Germany supported European fascists only insofar as they were useful to the specific Nazi cause. Ilyin began to caution Russian Whites about Nazis, and came under suspicion from the German government. He lost his job and, in 1938, left Germany for Switzerland. He remained faithful, however, to his conviction that the White movement was anterior to Italian fascism and German National Socialism. In time, Russians would demonstrate a superior fascism.


From a safe Swiss vantage point near Zurich, Ilyin observed the outbreak of World War II. It was a confusing moment for both communists and their enemies, since the conflict began after the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany reached an agreement known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Its secret protocol, which divided East European territories between the two powers, was an alliance in all but name. In September 1939, both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland, their armies meeting in the middle. Ilyin believed that the Nazi-Soviet alliance would not last, since Stalin would betray Hitler. In 1941, the reverse took place, as the Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union. Though Ilyin harbored reservations about the Nazis, he wrote of the German invasion of the USSR as a “judgment on Bolshevism.” After the Soviet victory at Stalingrad in February 1943, when it became clear that Germany would likely lose the war, Ilyin changed his position again. Then, and in the years to follow, he would present the war as one of a series of Western attacks on Russian virtue.

Russian innocence was becoming one of Ilyin’s great themes. As a concept, it completed Ilyin’s fascist theory: the world was corrupt; it needed redemption from a nation capable of total politics; that nation was unsoiled Russia. As he aged, Ilyin dwelled on the Russian past, not as history, but as a cyclical myth of native virtue defended from external penetration. Russia was an immaculate empire, always under attack from all sides. A small territory around Moscow became the Russian Empire, the largest country of all time, without ever attacking anyone. Even as it expanded, Russia was the victim, because Europeans did not understand the profound virtue it was defending by taking more land. In Ilyin’s words, Russia has been subject to unceasing “continental blockade,” and so its entire past was one of “self-defense.” And so, “the Russian nation, since its full conversion to Christianity, can count nearly one thousand years of historical suffering.”

Although Ilyin wrote hundreds of tedious pages along these lines, he also made clear that it did not matter what had actually happened or what Russians actually did. That was meaningless history, those were mere facts. The truth about a nation, wrote Ilyin, was “pure and objective” regardless of the evidence, and the Russian truth was invisible and ineffable Godliness. Russia was not a country with individuals and institutions, even should it so appear, but an immortal living creature. “Russia is an organism of nature and the soul,” it was a “living organism,” a “living organic unity,” and so on. Ilyin wrote of “Ukrainians” within quotation marks, since in his view they were a part of the Russian organism. Ilyin was obsessed by the fear that people in the West would not understand this, and saw any mention of Ukraine as an attack on Russia. Because Russia is an organism, it “cannot be divided, only dissected.”

Ilyin’s conception of Russia’s political return to God required the abandonment not only of individuality and plurality, but also of humanity. The fascist language of organic unity, discredited by the war, remained central to Ilyin. In general, his thinking was not really altered by the war. He did not reject fascism, as did most of its prewar advocates, although he now did distinguish between what he regarded as better and worse forms of fascism. He did not partake in the general shift of European politics to the left, nor in the rehabilitation of democracy. Perhaps most importantly, he did not recognize that the age of European colonialism was passing. He saw Franco’s Spain and Salazar’s Portugal, then far-flung empires ruled by right-wing authoritarian regimes, as exemplary.

World War II was not a “judgment on Bolshevism,” as Ilyin had imagined in 1941. Instead, the Red Army had emerged triumphant in 1945, Soviet borders had been extended west, and a new outer empire of replicate regimes had been established in Eastern Europe. The simple passage of time made it impossible to imagine in the 1940s, as Ilyin had in the 1920s, the members of the White emigration might someday return to power in Russia. Now he was writing their eulogies rather than their ideologies. What was needed instead was a blueprint for a post-Soviet Russia that would be legible in the future. Ilyin set about composing a number of constitutional proposals, as well as a shorter set of political essays. These last, published as Our tasks (Nashi zadachi), began his intellectual revival in post-Soviet Russia.

These postwar recommendations bear an unmistakable resemblance to prewar fascist systems, and are consistent with the metaphysical and ethical legitimations of fascism present in Ilyin’s major works. The “national dictator,” predicted Ilyin, would spring from somewhere beyond history, from some fictional realm. This Leader (Gosudar’) must be “sufficiently manly,” like Mussolini. The note of fragile masculinity is hard to overlook. “Power comes all by itself,” declared Ilyin, “to the strong man.” People would bow before “the living organ of Russia.” The Leader “hardens himself in just and manly service.”

In Ilyin’s scheme, this Leader would be personally and totally responsible for every aspect of political life, as chief executive, chief legislator, chief justice, and commander of the military. His executive power is unlimited. Any “political selection” should take place “on a formally undemocratic basis.” Democratic elections institutionalized the evil notion of individuality. “The principle of democracy,” Ilyin wrote, “was the irresponsible human atom.” Counting votes was to falsely accept “the mechanical and arithmetical understanding of politics.” It followed that “we must reject blind faith in the number of votes and its political significance.” Public voting with signed ballots will allow Russians to surrender their individuality. Elections were a ritual of submission of Russians before their Leader.

The problem with prewar fascism, according to Ilyin, had been the one-party state. That was one party too many. Russia should be a zero-party state, in that no party should control the state or exercise any influence on the course of events. A party represents only a segment of society, and segmentation is what is to be avoided. Parties can exist, but only as traps for the ambitious or as elements of the ritual of electoral subservience. (Members of Putin’s party were sent the article that makes this point in 2014.) The same goes for civil society: it should exist as a simulacrum. Russians should be allowed to pursue hobbies and the like, but only within the framework of a total corporate structure that included all social organizations. The middle classes must be at the very bottom of the corporate structure, bearing the weight of the entire system. They are the producers and consumers of facts and feelings in a system where the purpose is to overcome factuality and sensuality.

“Freedom for Russia,” as Ilyin understood it (in a text selectively quoted by Putin in 2014), would not mean freedom for Russians as individuals, but rather freedom for Russians to understand themselves as parts of a whole. The political system must generate, as Ilyin clarified, “the organic-spiritual unity of the government with the people, and the people with the government.” The first step back toward the Word would be “the metaphysical identity of all people of the same nation.” The “the evil nature of the ‘sensual’” could be banished, and “the empirical variety of human beings” itself could be overcome.


Russia today is a media-heavy authoritarian kleptocracy, not the religious totalitarian entity that Ilyin imagined. And yet, his concepts do help lift the obscurity from some of the more interesting aspects of Russian politics. Vladimir Putin, to take a very important example, is a post-Soviet politician who emerged from the realm of fiction. Since it is he who brought Ilyin’s ideas into high politics, his rise to power is part of Ilyin’s story as well.

Putin was an unknown when he was selected by post-Soviet Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin, to be prime minister in 1999. Putin was chosen by political casting call. Yeltsin’s intimates, carrying out what they called “Operation Successor,” asked themselves who the most popular character in Russian television was. Polling showed that this was the hero of a 1970s program, a Soviet spy who spoke German. This fit Putin, a former KGB officer who had served in East Germany. Right after he was appointed prime minister by Yeltsin in September 1999, Putin gained his reputation through a bloodier fiction. When apartment buildings in Russian cities began to explode, Putin blamed Muslims and began a war in Chechnya. Contemporary evidence suggests that the bombs might have been planted by Russia’s own security organization, the FSB. Putin was elected president in 2000, and served until 2008.

In the early 2000s, Putin maintained that Russia could become some kind of rule-of-law state. Instead, he succeeded in bringing economic crime within the Russian state, transforming general corruption into official kleptocracy. Once the state became the center of crime, the rule of law became incoherent, inequality entrenched, and reform unthinkable. Another political story was needed. Because Putin’s victory over Russia’s oligarchs also meant control over their television stations, new media instruments were at hand. The Western trend towards infotainment was brought to its logical conclusion in Russia, generating an alternative reality meant to generate faith in Russian virtue but cynicism about facts. This transformation was engineered by Vladislav Surkov, the genius of Russian propaganda. He oversaw a striking move toward the world as Ilyin imagined it, a dark and confusing realm given shape only by Russian innocence. With the financial and media resources under control, Putin needed only, in the nice Russian term, to add the “spiritual resource.” And so, beginning in 2005, Putin began to rehabilitate Ilyin as a Kremlin court philosopher.

That year, Putin began to cite Ilyin in his addresses to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, and arranged for the reinterment of Ilyin’s remains in Russia. Then Surkov began to cite Ilyin. The propagandist accepted Ilyin’s idea that “Russian culture is the contemplation of the whole,” and summarizes his own work as the creation of a narrative of an innocent Russia surrounded by permanent hostility. Surkov’s enmity toward factuality is as deep as Ilyin’s, and like Ilyin, he tends to find theological grounds for it. Dmitry Medvedev, the leader of Putin’s political party, recommended Ilyin’s books to Russia’s youth. Ilyin began to figure in the speeches of the leaders of Russia’s tame opposition parties, the communists and the (confusingly-named, extreme-right) Liberal Democrats. These last few years, Ilyin has been cited by the head of the constitutional court, by the foreign minister, and by patriarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church.

After a four-year intermission between 2008 and 2012, during which Putin served as prime minister and allowed Medvedev to be president, Putin returned to the highest office. If Putin came to power in 2000 as hero from the realm of fiction, he returned in 2012 as the destroyer of the rule of law. In a minor key, the Russia of Putin’s time had repeated the drama of the Russia of Ilyin’s time. The hopes of Russian liberals for a rule-of-law state were again disappointed. Ilyin, who had transformed that failure into fascism the first time around, now had his moment. His arguments helped Putin transform the failure of his first period in office, the inability to introduce of the rule of law, into the promise for a second period in office, the confirmation of Russian virtue. If Russia could not become a rule-of-law state, it would seek to destroy neighbors that had succeeded in doing so or that aspired to do so. Echoing one of the most notorious proclamations of the Nazi legal thinker Carl Schmitt, Ilyin wrote that politics “is the art of identifying and neutralizing the enemy.” In the second decade of the twenty-first century, Putin’s promises were not about law in Russia, but about the defeat of a hyper-legal neighboring entity.

The European Union, the largest economy in the world and Russia’s most important economic partner, is grounded on the assumption that international legal agreements provide the basis for fruitful cooperation among rule-of-law states. In late 2011 and early 2012, Putin made public a new ideology, based in Ilyin, defining Russia in opposition to this model of Europe. In an article in Izvestiia on October 3, 2011, Putin announced a rival Eurasian Union that would unite states that had failed to establish the rule of law. In Nezavisimaia Gazeta on January 23, 2012, Putin, citing Ilyin, presented integration among states as a matter of virtue rather than achievement. The rule of law was not a universal aspiration, but part of an alien Western civilization; Russian culture, meanwhile, united Russia with post-Soviet states such as Ukraine. In a third article, in Moskovskie Novosti on February 27, 2012, Putin drew the political conclusions. Ilyin had imagined that “Russia as a spiritual organism served not only all the Orthodox nations and not only all of the nations of the Eurasian landmass, but all the nations of the world.” Putin predicted that Eurasia would overcome the European Union and bring its members into a larger entity that would extend “from Lisbon to Vladivostok.”

Putin’s offensive against the rule of law began with the manner of his reaccession to the office of president of the Russian Federation. The foundation of any rule-of-law state is a principle of succession, the set of rules that allow one person to succeed another in office in a manner that confirms rather than destroys the system. The way that Putin returned to power in 2012 destroyed any possibility that such a principle could function in Russia in any foreseeable future. He assumed the office of president, with a parliamentary majority, thanks to presidential and parliamentary elections that were ostentatiously faked, during protests whose participants he condemned as foreign agents.

In depriving Russia of any accepted means by which he might be succeeded by someone else and the Russian parliament controlled by another party but his, Putin was following Ilyin’s recommendation. Elections had become a ritual, and those who thought otherwise were portrayed by a formidable state media as traitors. Sitting in a radio station with the fascist writer Alexander Prokhanov as Russians protested electoral fraud, Putin mused about what Ivan Ilyin would have to say about the state of Russia. “Can we say,” asked Putin rhetorically, “that our country has fully recovered and healed after the dramatic events that have occurred to us after the Soviet Union collapsed, and that we now have a strong, healthy state? No, of course she is still quite ill; but here we must recall Ivan Ilyin: ‘Yes, our country is still sick, but we did not flee from the bed of our sick mother.’”

The fact that Putin cited Ilyin in this setting is very suggestive, and that he knew this phrase suggests extensive reading. Be that as it may, the way that he cited it seems strange. Ilyin was expelled from the Soviet Union by the Cheka—the institution that was the predecessor of Putin’s employer, the KGB. For Ilyin, it was the foundation of the USSR, not its dissolution, that was the Russian sickness. As Ilyin told his Cheka interrogator at the time: “I consider Soviet power to be an inevitable historical outcome of the great social and spiritual disease which has been growing in Russia for several centuries.” Ilyin thought that KGB officers (of whom Putin was one) should be forbidden from entering politics after the end of the Soviet Union. Ilyin dreamed his whole life of a Soviet collapse.

Putin’s reinterment of Ilyin’s remains was a mystical release from this contradiction. Ilyin had been expelled from Russia by the Soviet security service; his corpse was reburied alongside the remains of its victims. Putin had Ilyin’s corpse interred at a monastery where the NKVD, the heir to the Cheka and the predecessor of the KGB, had interred the ashes of thousands of Soviet citizens executed in the Great Terror. When Putin later visited the site to lay flowers on Ilyin’s grave, he was in the company of an Orthodox monk who saw the NKVD executioners as Russian patriots and therefore good men. At the time of the reburial, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church was a man who had previously served the KGB as an agent. After all, Ilyin’s justification for mass murder was the same as that of the Bolsheviks: the defense of an absolute good. As critics of his second book in the 1920s put it, Ilyin was a “Chekist for God.” He was reburied as such, with all possible honors conferred by the Chekists and by the men of God—and by the men of God who were Chekists, and by the Chekists who were men of God.

Ilyin was returned, body and soul, to the Russia he had been forced to leave. And that very return, in its inattention to contradiction, in its disregard of fact, was the purest expression of respect for his legacy. To be sure, Ilyin opposed the Soviet system. Yet, once the USSR ceased to exist in 1991, it was history—and the past, for Ilyin, was nothing but cognitive raw material for a literature of eternal virtue. Modifying Ilyin’s views about Russian innocence ever so slightly, Russian leaders could see the Soviet Union not as a foreign imposition upon Russia, as Ilyin had, but rather as Russia itself, and so virtuous despite appearances. Any faults of the Soviet system became necessary Russian reactions to the prior hostility of the West.


Questions about the influence of ideas in politics are very difficult to answer, and it would be needlessly bold to make of Ilyin’s writings the pillar of the Russian system. For one thing, Ilyin’s vast body of work admits multiple interpretations. As with Martin Heidegger, another student of Husserl who supported Hitler, it is reasonable to ask how closely a man’s political support of fascism relates to a philosopher’s work. Within Russia itself, Ilyin is not the only native source of fascist ideas to be cited with approval by Vladimir Putin; Lev Gumilev is another. Contemporary Russian fascists who now rove through the public space, such as Aleksander Prokhanov and Aleksander Dugin, represent distinct traditions. It is Dugin, for example, who made the idea of “Eurasia” popular in Russia, and his references are German Nazis and postwar West European fascists. And yet, most often in the Russia of the second decade of the twenty-first century, it is Ilyin’s ideas that to seem to satisfy political needs and to fill rhetorical gaps, to provide the “spiritual resource” for the kleptocratic state machine. In 2017, when the Russian state had so much difficulty commemorating the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Ilyin was advanced as its heroic opponent. In a television drama about the revolution, he decried the evil of promising social advancement to Russians.

Russian policies certainly recall Ilyin’s recommendations. Russia’s 2012 law on “foreign agents,” passed right after Putin’s return to the office of the presidency, well represents Ilyin’s attitude to civil society. Ilyin believed that Russia’s “White Spirit” should animate the fascists of Europe; since 2013, the Kremlin has provided financial and propaganda support to European parties of the populist and extreme right. The Russian campaign against the “decadence” of the European Union, initiated in 2013, is in accord with Ilyin’s worldview. Ilyin’s scholarly effort followed his personal projection of sexual anxiety to others. First, Ilyin called Russia homosexual, then underwent therapy with his girlfriend, then blamed God. Putin first submitted to years of shirtless fur-and-feather photoshoots, then divorced his wife, then blamed the European Union for Russian homosexuality. Ilyin sexualized what he experienced as foreign threats. Jazz, for example, was a plot to induce premature ejaculation. When Ukrainians began in late 2013 to assemble in favor of a European future for their country, the Russian media raised the specter of a “homodictatorship.”

The case for Ilyin’s influence is perhaps easiest to make with respect to Russia’s new orientation toward Ukraine. Ukraine, like the Russian Federation, is a new country, formed from the territory of a Soviet republic in 1991. After Russia, it was the second-most populous republic of the Soviet Union, and it has a long border with Russia to the east and north as well as with European Union members to the west. For the first two decades after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russian-Ukrainian relations were defined by both sides according to international law, with Russian lawyers always insistent on very traditional concepts such as sovereignty and territorial integrity. When Putin returned to power in 2012, legalism gave way to colonialism. Since 2012, Russian policy toward Ukraine has been made on the basis of first principles, and those principles have been Ilyin’s. Putin’s Eurasian Union, a plan he announced with the help of Ilyin’s ideas, presupposed that Ukraine would join. Putin justified Russia’s attempt to draw Ukraine towards Eurasia by Ilyin’s “organic model” that made of Russia and Ukraine “one people.”

Ilyin’s idea of a Russian organism including Ukraine clashed with the more prosaic Ukrainian notion of reforming the Ukrainian state. In Ukraine in 2013, the European Union was a subject of domestic political debate, and was generally popular. An association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union was seen as a way to address the major local problem, the weakness of the rule of law. Through threats and promises, Putin was able in November 2013 to induce the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, not to sign the association agreement, which had already been negotiated. This brought young Ukrainians to the street to demonstrate in favor the agreement. When the Ukrainian government (urged on and assisted by Russia) used violence, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens assembled in Kyiv’s Independence Square. Their main postulate, as surveys showed at the time, was the rule of law. After a sniper massacre that left more than one hundred Ukrainians dead, Yanukovych fled to Russia. His main adviser, Paul Manafort, was next seen working as Donald Trump’s campaign manager.

By the time Yanukovych fled to Russia, Russian troops had already been mobilized for the invasion of Ukraine. As Russian troops entered Ukraine in February 2014, Russian civilizational rhetoric (of which Ilyin was a major source) captured the imagination of many Western observers. In the first half of 2014, the issues debated were whether or not Ukraine was or was not part of Russian culture, or whether Russian myths about the past were somehow a reason to invade a neighboring sovereign state. In accepting the way that Ilyin put the question, as a matter of civilization rather than law, Western observers missed the stakes of the conflict for Europe and the United States. Considering the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a clash of cultures was to render it distant and colorful and obscure; seeing it as an element of a larger assault on the rule of law would have been to realize that Western institutions were in peril. To accept the civilizational framing was also to overlook the basic issue of inequality. What pro-European Ukrainians wanted was to avoid Russian-style kleptocracy. What Putin needed was to demonstrate that such efforts were fruitless.

Ilyin’s arguments were everywhere as Russian troops entered Ukraine multiple times in 2014. As soldiers received their mobilization orders for the invasion of the Ukraine’s Crimean province in January 2014, all of Russia’s high-ranking bureaucrats and regional governors were sent a copy of Ilyin’s Our Tasks. After Russian troops occupied Crimea and the Russian parliament voted for annexation, Putin cited Ilyin again as justification. The Russian commander sent to oversee the second major movement of Russian troops into Ukraine, to the southeastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk in summer 2014, described the war’s final goal in terms that Ilyin would have understood: “If the world were saved from demonic constructions such as the United States, it would be easier for everyone to live. And one of these days it will happen.”

Anyone following Russian politics could see in early 2016 that the Russian elite preferred Donald Trump to become the Republican nominee for president and then to defeat Hillary Clinton in the general election. In the spring of that year, Russian military intelligence was boasting of an effort to help Trump win. In the Russian assault on American democracy that followed, the main weapon was falsehood. Donald Trump is another masculinity-challenged kleptocrat from the realm of fiction, in his case that of reality television. His campaign was helped by the elaborate untruths that Russia distributed about his opponent. In office, Trump imitates Putin in his pursuit of political post-truth: first filling the public sphere with lies, then blaming the institutions whose purpose is to seek facts, and finally rejoicing in the resulting confusion. Russian assistance to Trump weakened American trust in the institutions that the Russia has been unable to build. Such trust was already in decline, thanks to America’s own media culture and growing inequality.

Ilyin meant to be the prophet of our age, the post-Soviet age, and perhaps he is. His disbelief in this world allows politics to take place in a fictional one. He made of lawlessness a virtue so pure as to be invisible, and so absolute as to demand the destruction of the West. He shows us how fragile masculinity generates enemies, how perverted Christianity rejects Jesus, how economic inequality imitates innocence, and how fascist ideas flow into the postmodern. This is no longer just Russian philosophy. It is now American life.
March 16, 2018,

Text by Tracy Mcnicoll
France 24, 2018-03-20

With former French president Nicolas Sarkozy in custody for questioning on Tuesday over allegations Gaddafi’s Libya financed his 2007 campaign, FRANCE 24 takes a closer look at the intricate, five-year-long investigation's key facts and figures.


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