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Tom Rinaldo

(22,911 posts)
Sat Feb 18, 2017, 01:14 PM Feb 2017

I'm a leftist who is, in the big picture, strongly "Pro-American" & "Anti-Russian" [View all]

Our nation and it's leaders have participated in innumerable evil acts in the long course of our history. Russia has a magnificent cultural legacy and a strong, resilient, and industrious people. There is much to deplore in America. There is much to admire in Russia. But in the large sweep of world history the evolution of liberal democracies is to be encouraged, and the concentration of power in the hands of autocrats is to be fought. I believe the ends do not justify the means, I believe the means determine the ends. I believe that there can at times be "benign dictatorships" but that they are, where found, temporary at best exceptions to basic human nature - that will inevitably end up badly. I believe that democracies are inherent with some risks as well, ranging from susceptibility to mass manipulation, to mob rule and the utter trampling of minority rights. But nothing is as ruthlessly efficient at wielding concentrated power as an autocracy or full blown totalitarian state. And in the big picture I fundamentally believe that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". In all of the above I can find some common ground with the most principled of Libertarian Conservatives.

I seek no conflict with Russia, and certainly not with the Russian people. Human civilizations are massive centuries long experiments in social evolution. None of us (even with robotics and breakthroughs in medical science) can ever hope to live long enough to see full harmony in this world. We will always have to find a way to coexist to the extent possible with those with whom we have fundamental disagreements, be that a Putin or a Trump. But the ongoing path forward for humanity is always an embrace of both Liberty AND Justice, one can not be sacrificed at the alter of the other.

Capitalism at best in amoral, coupled with greed it quickly lends itself to immoral pursuits. Putin and those in Russia who think like him have much to legitimately fear from Western expansionism. The West has a long and deep tradition of colonialism. But the growth of democratic institutions in Western Europe helped check the manipulation of nationalistic sentiments by self serving despots, who had constantly plunged that continent into war, time and time again, over the preceding millennium. Today we face an exceptional challenge. Not only must we continue the fight to expand and perfect our democratic institutions and our values pertaining to human rights, human dignity and individual freedoms that underlay them (the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all of humanity) as President Obama so often alluded to. We must simultaneously fight to protect against their literal erosion.That is the battle today. And it is happening on fronts both local and global.

Fascism is never dead, and it is constantly mutating into new forms. At it's core it existed long before we called it fascism, and it will exist long after that specific construct has fallen from regular usage. Fascism is revitalized now throughout Europe, though it still is being held at bay. Some seeds of it are sprouting here as well. Putin's Russia does not advance democratic values and it sees no value in preserving them. But, for various geo-political and economic reasons it does see significant value now in disrupting the democracies of both Western Europe and America. I see that as dangerous, with potentially very long lasting negative consequences. If that puts me, in this instance, on roughly the same page as John McCain, so be it.

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