20th Century Thinkers in the 21st Century

by John Brian Shannon

Many people in this 21st century would be surprised to hear they are deeply immersed (and some would say, horribly stuck) in 20th century thought, a century where for ninety of those hundred years, the endless game of nation-state vs. nation-state was played, and often played with brutality. Nation against nation, democracy competing with communism and authoritarianism, freedom vs. repression and ‘the West’ against ‘the East’, or occasionally, ‘North’ against ‘South’ — these were the headlines of a turbulent century.

All these battles were fought diligently, usually for valid reasons (but not always) by nation-states, their citizens, and soldiers, all over the world from about 1914 onwards.

In terms of the success against such social ills as world war, small hot wars, the Cold War, fascism, tribal wars, poor governance and even poorer economics, plus a low global standard of health care, we have come far in the past 100 years.

The problem is, some just don’t realize how far we have come and are still ‘fighting the last war’ to use a military euphemism.

The last war is well and truly over. Unfortunately, some have utterly missed that, profound as it is.

Illogically, many of these people are still holding positions of power, many of them from the baby-boom generation, that for now at least, continue to call the shots for the rest of the world.

A world of change has occurred, and yet many of those holding either political office or powerful unelected positions are completely blind to it, as their hatred for their former enemies burns so bright.

In the West, for just one example, most citizens are pleased that Vladimir Putin is running Russia. We all know that Russia is experiencing the problems associated with a former Soviet-era economy, but that they are recovering nicely from it. We also know that they are dealing with incredibly rapid economic growth – which is a great problem to have! If your country must have a major problem to deal with, that’s the one to have.

And many people in the West and around the world, socialize with Russians every day, online, in the workplace or at universities around the world. Everyone is getting along just fine, thank you.

Спасибо, очень понравилось! (Which is Russian for, “Thank you, very much!”)

But are Western political office holders or powerful unelected leaders happy about any of that? For the most part, NOT! And therein, lies a tantalizing clue about what ails the geopolitical world in this century.

The people in (elected and unelected) positions of power in the West today are the same generation that taught us to fear, hate, and fight, the Soviet Union at all costs (one of those costs being lessened Western civil liberties from the onset of the Cold War right up to the present day) — and the fact that the Soviet Union no longer exists and communism in modern-day Russia is about as important as it is here (it’s not) does not decrease their deeply-held hatred of our former enemy.

The better the Russian economy does, the more they hate Russia. The more Russian citizens smile on TV, the more they castigate Vlad Putin. As Russia became the 13th most powerful economy in the world, some in the West were tearing their hair out. Russia is on-track to become the 10th most powerful economy in the world within the next decade. Can’t wait to see the contorted faces then!

And it is getting increasingly difficult for certain Western news outlets to show recent pictures or videos taken in and around Moscow, without the many Mercedes Benz and BMW cars and SUV’s driven by ordinary Russian citizens ‘crapping up the frame’ – thereby contradicting the verbal op/ed piece.

No! All those Mercedes and BMW’s are NOT driven by “filthy rich Russian oligarchs with ‘dirty money’ or high ranking KGB officers that hate Fox News… er… America.”

That was LAST century.

The real story, in case you missed it, is that it is no longer about nation-state against nation-state (although, some people are desperately trying to make it ‘still that’), nor is it even, democracy against practically all other forms of government (although, some people are desperately trying to make it ‘still that’), nor is about some well-intentioned fight against horrible social ills such as apartheid, which is mostly won at this point (although, some people are desperately trying to make it ‘still that’).

What it is about, is that 98% of the world’s citizens want their governments to stop fighting the last war, to cease with the old hatreds and prejudices and get on with clearing a path for citizens, so that they can progress — financially, socially, and for those who want it, spiritually.

Feudalism was replaced with something better (from the point-of-view of 98% of the world population back in the day) which manifested itself as freedom and democracy in half the world, while the other half endured communism, which was still a lot better than feudalism, for most citizens. The governance systems in use in the 21st century are mostly democratic ones — and the ones that aren’t, are reforming at different speeds towards democracy anyway — whether we bomb them or not.

Our representative governments must begin to focus on what democracy was originally created to achieve. Can anyone even remember what this was, this far out from democracy’s beginnings? In general terms, it was to bring freedom, the rule of law, education, economic prosperity, and the pursuit of pleasure to the vast majority of citizens (the 98%) living within that voluntary state of governance.

But truth be told at this point, citizens around the world would settle for this generation of powerful elected and unelected people stuck in their 20th century mindsets, just getting out of citizens’ way and letting individuals and families solve their own issues and get to their goals, themselves. A new generation will soon take the reins.

In the meantime, try not to blow up the world with your 20th century thinking. Thanks.

Signed, the 98 percent.

JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

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Braid: Redford has many more promises to keep | MY COMMENT

Braid: Redford has many more promises to keep The Calgary Herald
By: Don Braid January 12, 2012

MY COMMENT — The Premier of Alberta, Alison Redford is barely on the job 100 days. We should cut her some slack, don’t you think? Would you accept judgement after your first 100 days at a new job? Really?

Ideologue politicians are just as bad for their province as good for their province, it seems. This Premier doesn’t strike me as on of those, refreshingly, she seems to be a pragmatist.

Give her a fair chance to succeed and she will.

Now, what about those oil sands?

Do you agree we should highly-refine the oil sands in Alberta keeping all those jobs in western Canada?

Or should we just extract oil sands, and then just pipeline it away? “Look fast — there goes all the jobs!”

If we keep those thousands of permanent jobs here, (jobs which are not temporary pipeline construction jobs) it helps Alberta and BC in three important ways;

1) Many value-added products are created in western Canada, translating into thousands of jobs for Albertans.

2) The problem of pipeline or supertanker spills are completely eliminated.

3) Environmentalist’s will better accept modern, world-class refineries producing low-toxicity products relatively near the oil sands site – in exchange for eliminating toxic crude oil pipeline and supertanker spills. (Not all environmentalist’s, but most)

The world’s largest petroleum exporter, Saudi Arabia, is already doing this and creating thousands of permanent jobs:

http://arabnews.com/economy/article514179.ece

It’s your call.

God Blast Our Queen! – by Daniel Alexandre Portoraro | MY COMMENT

God Blast Our Queen! — The Huffington Post – Canada edition
by Daniel Alexandre Portoraro

MY COMMENT — Everyone is certainly entitled to their point of view.

I for one, am proud to be a citizen of a country which, since it’s founding has promoted democratic rights and freedoms for individual­s. We inherited much from the founding nations of Canada — Great Britain and France. Our “Father” and “Mother” if you will allow me use of the expression­.

Our entire legal system is a carefully crafted mix of British criminal law and French ‘tort’ or civil law. We simply couldn’t have successful­ly made the transition to a modern nation-sta­te without the benevolent assistance of our founding nations — of which our Monarchy was and remains a part.

Because we don’t depend on either country (or the Monarchy) on a day-to-day basis anymore (quite unlike our early days) should we speak abusively of them and try to minimize their many contributi­ons?

Just because your Mother is getting old and you no longer need her assistance daily, should you just toss her into the nearest dumpster on your way to work?

Ungrateful in the extreme

For those who think we should drop the Royal Family on account of every country on Earth having ‘blood on it’s hands’ (including Great Britain) if you go back far enough: Should we drop trade with Japan or Germany on account of WWll? Seriously? Do you agree with everything the U.S.A. has done? Should we drop trade and relationships with them on account of Viet Nam, the Spanish-American war, Iraq, etc? How about other countries with blood on their hands? That would be all the countries, by the way.

Apparently, the Monarchy costs each Canadian $1.53 per year. Wow, $1.53! The Queen and many of the Royals are our biggest boosters and look for opportunities to promote our national interests. Why? Because we are part of a family — the Commonwealth. Our success is their success!

I wish the government would commission a cost benefit analysis, once-per-decade, showing the Monarchy’s net contribution to Canada and not just in dollar terms — although that would also compare very favourably. You’d be surprised!

Finally, for those who admire the republican model of government, the U.S. beckons. We wish you well! Bon voyage!

Time For Liberals to Take Long, Hard Look in the Mirror (2) | MY COMMENT

Time For Liberals to Take Long, Hard Look in the Mirror — The Huffington Post – Canada
By: Jesse Helmer, Grassroots Liberal, Director of Communications & Development at Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation) January 12, 2012

MY COMMENT — With the greatest respect, Jesse, you are viewing Canadian federal politics through the prism of the American political system.

In two-party systems everyone is either “left” or “right”. Not much nuance there. It can occur in that two party system, that the extremists of either side (or both sides) seize control of the narrative and present to the electorate only that which they choose to present.

The spoiler for that scenario here in Canada is our traditional four-party system, whereby four distinctly different choices were available until the death of the federal Social Credit party decades ago. Nonetheless, the system works to present an alternative view to the government’s view vs. the official opposition party viewpoint.

Thanks to the Green Party of Canada, we again have a proper four-party system. Some of those parties are ready to assume the duties of government, should the present government “fall” for any reason, while others reflect the views of smaller numbers of Canadian constituents – and are best termed a work-in-progress as far as their ability to form a legitimate government should the need arise.

It is not a simple “Us” vs. “Them” equation here in Canada. It’s takes more effort, but is less polarizing in over the long term.

Time For Liberals to Take Long, Hard Look in the Mirror (1) | MY COMMENT

Time For Liberals to Take Long, Hard Look in the Mirror — The Huffington Post – Canada
By: Jesse Helmer, Grassroots Liberal, Director of Communications & Development at Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation January 12, 2012

The Liberals are an important part of Canadian politics.

Unfortunat­ely, they were in power for too long over recent decades and became “stale” resulting in a devastatin­g loss at the polls. A simple factor of the democratic (correctio­n) process has occurred. It’s not the end of the world, the sky is not falling, the federal Liberals will rise again.

To help guarantee our Canadian political process, every son and daughter of the True North Strong and Free should support our historic four-party system. The alternativ­e is to devolve to a two-party system like the U.S. where politics verges on either extreme, as opposed to the more nuanced Canadian system and electorate­.

Because I fit the profile of a “red-Tory” does that mean that I can’t offer well-meant suggestion­s to the Liberal Party caucus?

Is it any excuse for an individual to help (by inaction) Canadian politics to slide down a slippery slope towards extremist two-party politics to become a “mini-me” to the U.S. political system? No.

Canada needs a strong and vibrant three-part­y system at the very least — and Elizabeth May, you are most welcome to increase your party seats in the HoC, so that we will again arrive at our proper, historic, four-party system as envisaged by those who so wisely crafted our Canadian Confederat­ion.

This is above partisan politics, it is in everyone’s interest to have a stable and viable Liberal Party of Canada — whatever your political affiliatio­ns.