dimanche 20 décembre 2009

Crimes of Communism...

Reading these two words, I have mixed feelings. Communism is not a person, but only persons, not ideologies, not political philosophies or religions can commit crimes. But political philosophies, ideologies and religions can be used to justify crimes, even mass murders or genocide. This is in no way a privilege of Communism. Hideous crimes have been and are committed in the name of Christianity, Islam and love of one's Fatherland. These crimes should be revealed, and their perpetrators found and made account for their deeds. The many means we use to justify our lack of humanity should be made subject of serious sociological, historical, psychological study. But I cannot agree with the idea that as ideologies, Communism and Nazism are equally evil, that there is no essential difference between them. In my view, Communism is one of many messianistic ideologies, inheritors of Zoroastrian-Christian eschatological vision of a coming last struggle between the forces of evil and good, a struggle necessary for the coming of a brave new world of egality, justice and happiness. Nazism is an ideology that basically denies the existence of good and evil, and considers absence of empathy and humanness not only necessary in some limited period, but essentially good. In Nazism, evil is good and good is evil. In Communism, evil is necessary evil to achieve universal good. Here we see a difference between ends and means, it is an important difference. Although we must keep in mind that for people who had been submitted to ordeals by Nazis or Communists, this difference was not essential, what was essential was their suffering. Here, we should ask whether the ideology that was used as a pretext for causing this suffering really could justify it or not. I see no reason to see a direct and necessary link between the political philosophy of Marx and the GULAG, although many publicists want to see such a link. But in any case I see a clear link between Mein Kampf and Auschwitz.

jeudi 22 octobre 2009

Once again...

A quotation from the Stratfor analysis of Vice-President Biden's hawkish performances in Eastern Europe:

"The United States has effectively given Moscow notice that it intends to actively push against its entire periphery and that it intends to conscript the Central European members of NATO as its foot soldiers."

Many politicians here are happy: the Big Brother encourages us to tease the Russian bear. I am not relieved. I think geography is still more important than political constellations. Estonians have already some experience in being foot soldiers of foreign powers. We should take care. Take care. Once more Sinimäed, and there will be no Estonian people capable of maintaining its own state, its own culture...

dimanche 18 octobre 2009

What guarantees our security

I wonder in what a world live our president Ilves and our former prime minister Laar. The former launches a passionate appeal to NATO to conduct military exercices in the Baltic states, the latter says that the European report on the causes of Russian-Georgian August war was flawed falsely accusing Georgia of initiating the conflict. I think that teasing the Russian bear is not the most intelligent thing an Estonian politician can do. Declaring that the enemies of Russia are nearly automatically our friends and allies is not an example of political wisdom. We must ask why do the Russians not react more aggressively to such militant rhetoric. Because Estonia is a member of NATO, is the common answer, and most people seem really to believe it. I don't. I think that the Russians are pragmatic, and the main reason for their moderation is just the fact that they do not consider Estonia to be a military threat. Although St Petersburg is only about 200 kilometres from Estonian border, the Estonian armed forces as well as the armed forces of our two Baltic neighbours are not something to be taken seriously. So far, NATO is not much of a presence here, and Russians have more important concerns elsewhere. Thus, our security is better guaranteed by the absence of NATO forces than any military exercices on our soil. Any real military moves in the Baltic region would change the situation, and in no sense increase our security. Let's hope there will be no US or NATO bases here. My sources indicate that the red line for the West lies in the Botnia bay, not further East. And our politicians should perhaps try to compare the developments in the Caucasian and Central Asian region with the "Big Game" between Britain and Russia a hundred years ago. We have no reason to rush into the big games of big powers for the domination of oil, gas and pipeline regions.

mardi 13 octobre 2009

Religious threats

I often think that the US and some other politicians have made a big mistake in using religious movements to combat communists and leftists, specifically, of course, the Soviet Union. SU was a power one could deal with, and was evolving toward becoming more liberal and pragmatic. In fact, the distance from Stalin to Gorbachev is as big as the distance from Robespierre to Clémenceau. It is hard to say how much this fast evolution was influenced and accelerated by the pressure put upon the Soviets by the US. I suppose that in the mid-forties it helped Stalin to become more Stalinist, and to relaunch fierce repressions, but after the death of the dictator, the leaders in Moscow were determined to find a modus vivendi with the West. It was a view shared by Khrushchev as well as by his arch-rival Beria. To a great extent, the necessity to reform and to liberalize was dictated by the situation in the country itself, the fast evolution was dictated by the weaknesses of the system. A state of emergency cannot last forever, people must either be given a chance to live a normal life, or to give a motivation, an ideal in the name of which to suffer. Communism was not such an ideal, it was losing its appeal in one or at best in two generations. With religious ideals its different: here, people can be motivated and manipulated to suffer endlessly in the name of some holy virtues or an afterlife in paradise. Religious fanaticism can be, and often is, much more tenacious than communist or fascist one. Communism is dead in the SU, in Afghanistan, in South Yemen, but the islamic extremism is there, and shows little signs of becoming more moderate. Partly, it is the creation of the Americans, as Al-Qa'ida. In the Near East, HAMAS has been nurtured by the Israelis for whom the OLP seemed extremist and impossible to negotiate with. History proved that Arafat was more flexible than the HAMAS, although the Israelis realized it too late. Now, both the Americans and the Israelis have enemies they don't know well how to deal with. The wait-and-see tactic of containment partly unwillingly adopted during the confrontation with the USSR has no guarantees of success: enemies motivated by Islam are much more tenacious than the Communists. And making serious war to them cannot be very successful because it threatens both the Western standard of life and the Western values. Neither the Americans nor Europeans are ready for an armed conflict lasting for several generations. The Islamists are. And the Islamists are not as much restricted by rules and regulations adopted by the Western world. There has been a big outcry about the Guantanamo prison, but we must remember that in Guantanamo prisoners' throats were not cut...

dimanche 11 octobre 2009

United States of Europe...

This dream of the people who initiated the process of European integration is still far from becoming reality. But for us in the Baltics it would be a real guarantee of our security and a stable development. We should adopt an explicitly Federalist policy. It's an illusion to think that Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania can be really independant and secure. If we prefer independance to security, we lose both. Being a state in the European Federation would still give us enough power to keep our house in order. We cannot expect to have more.

dimanche 20 septembre 2009

Государство второго сорта?

Президент Обама и высокие чины его администрации заявили, что откажутся от размещения элементов системы противоракетной обороны в Чехии и Польше. Это заявление вызвало некоторое замешательство в Восточной и Центральной Европе, и скоро президент и его подчиненные заявили, что это решение никак не связано желанием получить поддержку России в противостоянии с Ираном. Этому трудно верить, отказ от СПРО сопровождался заявлениями (с таковым выступил например официальный глава НАТО Фог Расмуссен) о том, что Запад должен принимать во внимание стратегические интересы России итп. Если уж Россия и его испуганные соседи воспринимают шаг США как жест доброй воли в сторону Кремля, это так и есть. Мыслящие люди это понимают и об этом говорят и пишут. В польской прессе обсуждают решение США и его последствия. Это значит, что в Польше существует минимальная масса таких мыслящих, способных свободно обсуждать болезненные вопросы людей. Как в Эстонии? Боюсь (и имею основания бояться), что у нас ограничатся воспроизведением утешительных заявлений зарубежных политиков и такими же утешительными комментариями наших же политиков и т.н. аналитиков. Настоящей дискуссии не будет. Самые злободневные и важные вопросы внешней политики и безопасности у нас открыто и честно не обсуждаются. У нас слишком мало мыслящей интеллигенции и слишком много табу, связанных с вопросами безопасности, прежде всего с нашими отношениями с Россией. Россия у нас скорее вопрос веры, а не разума. Государство где отсутствует критическая масса вольнодумцев, людей, не соблюдающих интеллектуальных табу и всеобщей политкорректности не что иное как государство второго сорта. Скоро мы увидим, так ли это в самом деле.

vendredi 11 septembre 2009

Kirjailija ja kieli

Uuden kielilain esitys, oikeammin vasta kaava on synnyttänyt paljon vastustusta Virossa, mutta hämmästystä Suomessa. Minua on kaksi kerta haastateltu, kerran Yleisradion puolesta, kerran Suomen Kuvalehdestä. Suomalaiset eivät ymmärrä, miksi pitäisi puolustaa kieltämme lain keinoilla. Vielä enemmän hämmästystä on synnyttänyt meidän kustantamojen toimittajien tapa "korjata", muuttaa kirjailijan kielenkäyttöä. He eivät pysty kuvittelemaan, että Suomessa toimittaja muuttaisi esimerkiksi Hannu Mäkelän tai Antti Tuurin kieltä. Taas yksi ero Suomen ja Viron välillä. Suomessa kieli on todella kansan kieli, kielenkäyttö on demokraattinen, presidentti Halonenkin käyttää tavallista puhekieltä, sanoen "mä oon kirjottanu". Meillä kielenkäyttö on sensuroitu, kielestä pidetään huolta auktoritaarisin keinoin, on jopa olemassa kielipoliisi (keeleinspektsioon). Jos sanon, että meillä toimii kielisensuuri, toistan vain, mitä on sanonut aikoinaan tunnettu virolaissyntyinen kielitieteilija Valter Tauli, joka totesi, että ennen sota Virossa oli kielisensuuri. Suhtautuminen kieleen, neuroottinen ponnistus sen "puhtauden" hoitamiseksi on merkki jonkinlaisesta häiriöstä, pelosta virolaisessa psyykessä. Virolainen pikkuporvari taistelee kaikkea luonnollista, villiä vastaan, se tulee ilmi myös meidän puutarha- ja puistokulttuurissa, joka erottuu suomalaisesta. Meillä haluaa poliisi poistaa puistoista pensaat, koska niiden varjossa piileskelevät "asosiaalit", pensaat suosivat rikollisuutta. Näin olen kirjoitellut paljon kahdesta asiasta -- kielestä ja puistoista, puolustaen luonnonomaisuutta, villiyttä. Välillä muistaen poismenneen virolais-ruotsalaisen runoilijan Ivar Grünthalin rivejä:
... och dvärgar läser lagen
för dig, mitt hemlands vackra vilda sprak.

Two presidents on reform path

A significant coincidence: the presidents of two big states made important declarations the same day: president Obama made known to the Congress the outlines of his health care reform and Russian president Medvedev published in the Internet a long article explaining his reform plans. Medvedev's article has, as far as I know, not got too much publicity, but I consider it very important. The article needs careful analysis, but some points stand out. The president doesn't mention his predecessor Putin, but launches the reform project as his own initiative. He uses the word "soviet" in clearly derogatory sense. He stresses the need of radical reforms, making two special points: Russia must modernize, create a post-industrial economy, and a truly strong and independant judiciary. He says that the two previous radical reformers -- the tzar Peter the Great and the Bolsheviks didn't care much of human lives, the reforms he thinks absolutely necessary and is intent to launch must be carried out in a democratic and humane way. If I were president of Estonia, Latvia or some other neighbour country of Russia, I would send a letter to president Medvedev telling him that Russia of his vision is precisely the Russia we would like to have as our neighbour. And I would try to tell to the other president and his administration that they should give Medvedev and his team more support. I hope Medvedev's great plans have some chances to succeed, but I am worried of several sad parallels from Russian history: there have been many good reform plans, but often they weren't carried out, the conservative forces were too strong, and the problems sometimes nearly insurmountable. Sometimes, as in 1914, Russia's neigbours too had become nervous of its growing potential and tried to obstruct its development. Even with non-peaceful means... It would be a disaster if America or Europe would try to do the same again.

dimanche 6 septembre 2009

The three axes of the world to come

In the July 1. issue this year the former Italian foreign minister Gianni de Michelis explains his vision of the future world. He sees that the world will be multipolar balanced on three axes -- the Europe-Asia axis, the China-America axis and the North Atlantic axis. In his view, Europeans must not waste time in trying to convince the US that their mutual special relationship continues to be indispensable, but instead, try to establish closer relations with Asia -- China, India, but also Russia who has an essential role in the future architecture of a world. Somebody who can read Italian can find De Michelis' interview in Tempi: http://www.tempi.it/speciale-g8/007054-gianni-de-michelis .

samedi 29 août 2009

Molotov & Ribbentrop

I found a very balanced and informed article on the subject of so-called Molotov-Ribbentrop pact in the Polish liberal paper Gazeta Wyborcza. Highly recommended! If you can read Polish, you will find it here

lundi 24 août 2009

The new Rapallo and us

There's nothing new in the German-Russian rapprochement unfolding under our eyes. Already before Peter the Great, Russia invited German military men, merchants, engineers to help Moscow to modernize its economy, infrastructure, army and education. Later, the Germans, especially the Baltic Germans, became very influential in Russian politics too. In modern times, Germany has had a love-and-hate relationship with Russia: there have been periods of conflict, but also periods of intensive cooperation, even in the military field. As Russia has always needed German know-how, Germans need resources, what they call Lebensraum, if we don't use this term in its strict geographical or geopolitical meaning. Thus, cooperation between the two states is in their mutual interest, and the developments we see now, are long overdue. It is not just the caprices or private interests of a Schroeder or Merkel that are behind the present rapprochement as some of us are inclined to think. The new Rapallo is here, and probably it is here to stay. I think that politicians in Eastern Europe must take this into account. As the Polish leaders seem to have understood: they have made some steps to normalize their relations with Russia. The new Rapallo frightens us, reminding us the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, but we should not over-react. Instead, we should try to find ways of approaching and even influencing Moscow via Berlin. I believe it is possible. The worst thing to do is to spoil our relations with Berlin too. It's high time to find a more balanced strategic relationship with the US. At present, we are just American client states, and it is not the best way of guaranteeing our security. We must not invest all our political capital in our special relationship with Washington. America is far away, Russia is just here, and will stay here in foreseeable future. We should try to use the German-Russian rapprochement in our interests, not to condemn it in a simplistic and moralistic way.

lundi 27 juillet 2009

Love and faith

At once a problem: in Estonian we have a word "usk" with more or less same meaning as the German "Glaube". But there is no such word in English. "Belief" is too close to "opinion", has a hint toward relativism and subjectivity in it. But let it be. My idea is that what we call love and what we call belief (Glaube, usk, foi) are psychologically very close, nearly the same thing. Love is mostly love for a concrete person, but there have been and there are people who love persons they have never actually met. Some people love Jesus, Virgin Mary, even God himself/herself. Paradoxically, some of these people feel they have met their beloved.

We human beings are children, we never or nearly never become adults. Our needs are needs of children. In our love relationships there is a strong element of child-mother (child-parent) relationship. We need a parent figure. And if we don't have it, don't find it, we construct it. Both personally and culturally. We construct gods and spirits. We trust them, we believe they care for us, love us. And we love them.

God is our Father. We are God's children.

Love for God (Jesus, Mary) often excludes human love. Deep religious faith (religious love) doesn't tolerate erotic love. God is jealous...

Such are some of my thoughts on the subject. There is a lot to think and perhaps elaborate. For example, in the contect of hominization, our becoming who we are, intelligent beings with a big need for love. And belief.

samedi 25 juillet 2009

Not in my name

After having read the letter of a group of Central and East European politicians to "the Administration of President Obama" I thought I should write a letter to him too. I somehow suspect that this letter is connected to the campaign of the Republican Party conservatives against the new president, especially against his domestic policies, and in particular, against his attempts to introduce some elements of social democracy into America. As his plans to create a health care system for all Americans. It is easier to attack president Obama's foreign policy, and here, the voice of some politicians from CEE is welcome. I don't know whether they wrote the letter in their own initiative or were inspired to write it by some gentlemen from the GOP. But in any case, I want to say clearly that our politicians who have built their career on confrontation with Russia don't speak in my name. Not in my name. A friend of mine, a former deputy of the Estonian Parliament too, told me that a simple worker in the NATO air base in Ämari had told him that in his opinion we really don't need a confrontation with Russia. I believe many people in Estonia think in the same way. Here is the text of my letter to President Obama.

Dear President Obama,

After having read the open letter sent to you and to your administration by a group of high-level politicians and experts from Central and Eastern Europe including two persons from my own country I felt I must write a letter to you too. While there are many good ideas and propositions in the politicians' letter, there are some disputable statements in it. And there is something in the whole tone of the letter that it is hard for me to accept. In fact, the open letter was a petition to the only global superpower by politicians who have decided that the best guarantee of the security of their nations is becoming client states of the United States of America. Our politicians were asking you, President Obama, not to abandon them, not to forget America's most loyal servants. Such an attitude is humiliating to a citizen of a free and democratic country I really want to be.

The fact that the leaders of most CEE nations were willing to transform their countries into American client steates, became clear when, in early february 2003 a group of CEE foreign ministers signed a letter unconditionally supporting the imminent pre-emptive war of the US against Iraq. This unconditional support for the policies of George W. Bush was a signal to the "old Europe" that the special relationship with the US is more important for the nations of CEE than solidarity with older members of the EU and that they are more willing to take into consideration the American interests than the interests of their neighbours, first of all Russia. This gesture was followed with equally unconditional support by most CEE nations to the governments of Ukraine and Georgia in their confrontation with Russia. The spectacular military buildup of Georgia financed and masterminded by the US couldn't but confirm Russia's conviction that the West, particularly the US are busy surrounding it with a new "cordon sanitaire" of client states eager to support American policies without too much questioning and ready to install on their territories American military bases. This conclusion is nearly inevitable taking into account the history of Russia. It is understood and taken into account in some capitals of "old Europe", but more or less ignored in CEE where instead, politicians engage in rhetoric about "value-based" international relations and military alliances, and where open-minded political analysts are yet to be found.

In my opinion, Europe is nowadays divided by two approaches to Russia: conciliatory and confrontational, embraced respectively by the older members of the EU and the new ones. Both approaches have their strong and weak points. Conciliatory politics can lead to appeasement that has infamous precedents in our continent, confrontational politics can lead to open conflict. It is customary in my part of Europe to ridicule the "old Europeans" for their soft attitude to Russia and even accuse Western European politicians of being either naive or corrupt, and pretending that our leaders have a better understanding of Russia than the French, Spanish of Germans. In fact, some CEE politicians have built up their careers on confrontational rhetoric toward Russia, and it is hard for them to change their attitudes and rhetoric. I would not be astonished, if the letter to your administration were partly inspired by some politicians from the US Republican Party. In any case, the letter can support them in their campaign against your attempts to reorient the US foreign policy. But I am convinced that confrontational attitudes must change, otherwise the tensions with Russia along its western and southern borders is undermining the emerging common foreign policy consensus in the EU. Whether we want it or not, Russia will no more agree being only "an object of international relations" as several years ago expressed a Western diplomat in Estonia. Whether we want it or not, we must take into account what Russia itself sees as its security concerns, and not try to lecture it, to convince it that its policies are antiquated and military buildup in the proximity of its major centers is no threat to its interests. The distance from Estonian border to St.Petersburg is only about 200 kilometers, the Russians cannot forget it, and it would be wise for Estonians and their sponsors not to forget it either.

In CEE, Russia of Putin and Medvedev is often compared to the Soviet Union, even the Soviet Union of Stalin. Geopolitically the former is certainly the heir of the latter, however there are huge differences between them. I am more or less convinced that the present Russian leaders are no paranoics but pragmatists and it is possible to find a common ground with them. But it will not be possible without taking into account their security concerns. The alternative would be a return of a new cold war, of a deep mistrust between so-called East and West, to Russian attempts of sabotaging Western, first of all, American interests in many parts of the world. This would lead to the world becoming a more dangerous place, and sooner or later endanger the security of the CEE nations too. I am deeply convinced that the relations between the CEE states and Russia need a restart as the relations between the United States and Russia. Both are inextricably linked, and a restart, a reorientation of certain aspects of the foreign policies of all of us are unavoidable, if we want to avoid destabilization and desintegration of Europe. I believe that European security must not become a problem for the international relations in the XXIthe century as it has been in the XXth century. There are more urgent crises in other parts of the world that need a concerted effort by the US, the EU, and Russia. It would be very unwise to let the tragic memories from our recent history to determine our policies, to build up a new confrontation in Central and Eastern Europe. I do not believe that stationing NATO troops in the CEE states bordering Russia proposed in the politicians' letter is the best long-time guarantee of our security. Such a move is more likely to lead to more instability, and be counterproductive in the long run. Thus I sincerely hope that you and your administration will not make any steps that would lead to an escalation of present tensions between some CEE states and Russia, that you will not yield to those leaders of our countries who have gained their political capital with anti-Russian rhetoric and servile gestures toward the US. I hope that you will not yield to the pressures of your own military-industrial complex eager to sell weapons' systems to our countries. My deep conviction is that a new cold war, not to speak of a real war, will not be in the interest of our peoples. I believe that you, President of the United States of America, will avoid any steps that would lead to such potentially disastrous developments in our part of the world.

Your respectfully

Jaan Kaplinski

writer, former deputy of the Estonian Parliament

mercredi 15 juillet 2009

We were Homines Sapientes

Homo sapiens is not a valid definition of us humans any more. We are no more intelligent beings. Once upon a time we were intelligent, we were smart enough to survive in very adverse circumstances, in drought-stricken plains of Africa, surrounded by carnivores, decimated by fires and other disasters. Our intelligence was our most efficient weapon in that epoch, it was an adequate reaction, adequate answer to the environmental challenges. But then this same intelligence helped us to create a different environment where it is no more adequate. We live in a man-made (although not consciously engineered!) world we are not adapted to. Our intelligence is often not a means of adaptation, an instrument of survival, but an instrument of doom. What could save us? I think we should either lose some of our intelligence, become less smart, live in a more primitive way or we should become much more intelligent, become a kind of Übermenschen. Although it is not easy to imagine the challenges and problems waiting for such a super-mankind: we can by no means be sure that it will not present us new and more sophisticated problems. In a way, no intelligence can cope with all problems it faces: the world is always more complex than any intelligence, any machine that has to model, to imitate, to understand it, to react adequately to its challenges.

Коммунизм как козел отпущения

В Эстонии является страшной ересью сказать, что в советское время кое/что было лучше. Но определенно одна вещь была лучше: мы могли спокойно считать, что мы хорошие и умные, а правительство плохое и глупое. Мы были правы, а правительство нет. Так было иногда легче и удобнее жить. Теперь нам гораздо труднее валить все плохое и противное на плечи правительства, которoе мы сами избрали. Теперь в наших трудностях виновато не правительство, виновата не партия, не коммунисты и коммунизм, а мы сами. Это очень неприятно признать. Поэтому мы иногда так злые и агрессивные, поэтому мы и ищем других козлов отпущения, будь то даже евреи и массоны. Поэтому мы эстонцы в самом деле довольно похожи на русских, которые тоже заняты исканием козлов отпущения, виновников в геополитической катастрофе, которой действительно являлся развал советской империи. Империи, от которой простомy советскому русскому было мало пользы в личной жизни, но которая являлась своего рода протовоположностью козлу отпущения, универсальным утешением для униженного и оскорбленного всеобщей халатностью, всеобщего дефицита, всеобщей нахальностью советского человека.

Getting rid of myself

In childhood, we learn to accept and assume all kinds of roles, becoming members of a family and various other groups, of the society as a whole. I feel that, growing old, it's time to step out of those roles, to become more conscient of the fact that we are not identical to the sum of our roles and images. We are something different. Je suis un autre. The discovery of this otherness, this altérité is interesting, can give you some inspiration and consolation.

For me, it is also coming back to some childhood experiences: when I was four years old, I once thought that there is something strange in my being Jaan Kaplinski, and even in my being myself. Now I understand that, after all, I am neither Jaan nor Kaplinski, and I am not I either. I am something different, I am something else. And this understanding gives to this irreal me a feeling of deep satisfaction. My existence is deeply paradoxical, but it's possible to accept it and be happy with it.

République universelle des lettres

Reading once more news about the death of Michael Jackson and its possible causes I felt that I have had enough. I feel I am somebody for whom the mass media, even the best of them, have become nearly intolerable. I am different, I don't want this rubbish any more. I would like to say no to a big part of our civilization, to its politics, entertainment, economy and arts. I want something different, I want to live in a different atmosphere. I think there are many people like me, now we must somehow find one another, establish contacts, begin to communicate, create our own virtual environment. We could well call it "La République universelle des lettres", RUL, the Universal Republic of Knowledge in free translation. It would continue the project of the Enlightenment, Enlightenment 2K. We should say clear NO to ideologies, to most of what is known as religion, to entertainment, to consumerism. In a way, our Republic would also be a virtual monastery, a refuge from a world that is becoming more and more a parody of itself as my late friend Georg Henrik von Wright wrote in his last letter to me. We should try to influence the world but not let the world influence ourselves. We should feel ourselves and act first of all as citizens of our Republic. Maybe it would make sense to issue an official proclamation of such a Republic. There are many problems, as e.g. the citizenship of our Republic. But I think these problems can be solved. I will try to contact people who may think in the same way, the potential citizens of the RUL.

mercredi 8 juillet 2009

A language without Soul

I don't want to write in Estonian any more. This language has lost its soul, becoming a tightly controlled and endlessly engineered variety on Standard Average European. To quote the late Estonian-Swedish poet Ivar Grünthal:
... och dvärger läser lagen
för dig, mitt hemlands vackra vilda sprak.
... and dwarves lecture you
beautiful and wild language of my homeland.

My Estonian is extinct, unfortunately I am too old to adopt another language, although I have written some poetry and prose in English and Russian. And, of course, in Võru keel, the half-extinct language of my ancestors.

Once I wrote a long poem called Hinge tagasitulek (Soul's returning), it's there I tell how the Estonians gave away their souls. It's not just the Estonians, most of us live in a soulless world. The poem is a kind of an attempt to call back, to summon the soul we have lost. In this way it has some parallels with the famous Chinese poem attributed to Qu Yuan "Summoning the Soul". I didn't think of it when I wrote my own poem. I thought about shamans who sometimes had to go to another world to find out, to bring back the soul of a sick person. He/she was sick because his/her soul had been stolen, taken to another world by some malevolent spirits. It's what has happened to us.

dimanche 5 juillet 2009


Democracy is adulterated and killed by the same forces that once gave birth to it. People's power becomes power by those who learn how to manipulate people. Dictators are either "democratically elected" or rise to power with support of some mass movement. Neither a dictator or the ideology he uses to legitimize his power, neither the will of the people expressed via elections can tell us what is the truth. Society, human beings, ecosystems, technosystems -- to rule them, to transform them, we must know the truth about them. This needs different methods, not voting, not rulings, fatwas. In the past, the right strategy for living, surviving, ruling a state was to act in the traditional way. If you did what your ancestors did, you had some guarantee of success. Innovation, change was not welcome, it was dangerous. Nowadays we have changed ourselves and our environment to such a degree that the traditionalist way is no longer safe. We cannot any more live as our parents and grandparents lived. We must make an effort to understand the situation and act accordingly, to act in most rational way. Unfortunately our democratic system makes it nearly impossible to be rational. Our democracies are corrupt: in order to gain votes, to rule, politicians must give people tips, promise them a better, more comfortable life. They can do it conspiring with capitalists, those who make things, who are able to invent and produce more and more gadgets and entertainment. If this isn't corruption, what is? In fact, our politicians turn people away from politics, from analyzing real problems and finding answers to them. Politics is becoming a branch of entertainment, losing the touch with reality, alienating people from it, enticing them to live in an artificial world of fantasies, slogans, ideologemes.

lundi 29 juin 2009

On the Liberation War Monument

Got an e-mail from a foreigner living in Estonia. I quote a paragraph from it, as it expresses quite well what an European here feels about recent events. And many Estonians feel the same way, becoming more and more alienated from the official "kroonu" Estonia with its government and ideology.

"I have once again noticed that I am a bit too postmodern for Estonia. It's getting worse & worse here with all those grandiloquent commemoration events. Take that monstrous Võidusamba for instance. Depicting a symbol that was also used by the Eesti Leegion on that (German) cross is exactly what Russia wanted, a blessing for Russian media. And I don't think that the Russian minority in Estonia will feel attracted to that monument, to say the least."

samedi 27 juin 2009

Universe without a Devil

Have I discovered something? Had a really important idea? I think there is at least one: I found that belief in Devil leads to a logical impasse, it is similar to the existence of a contradiction in a logical system. If S is P, and S is non-P, then everything is possible, we have a system where no assertion is false.

The Devil is necessarily very smart, much smarter than we human beings. How then could we compete with him, discover his schemes, recognize him under every possible camouflage and mask? How can we be sure that he doesn't play the role of an angel, an evangelist, the Pope? How can be sure that what we consider to be divine is not diabolical, that the Bible is not written by the Devil? There is no reason that the world, the universe must be logical, non-contradictory, but we are incapable of living in, making sense of an illogical, contradictory universe. Clearly, not everything is possible in this universe, this means that most probably it is to a large extent logical, non-contradictory. And most probably there is no Devil in this universe, disguised or not. Things are more or less what they are, not opposites to themselves. Although they, as they change,
are always a little bit different from themselves. But this difference is not diabolical, a changing universe is not a degraded copy of the unchanging one as some Zoroastrians and Platonists seem to have believed.

mardi 23 juin 2009

Designed intelligence

The idea of a super-intellect designing and creating our Universe seems to me nearly stupid, it's hard to believe there are millions of people who want to believe and believe in such nonsense. Historically, they are inheritors of the antique tradition of considering human intellect something divine, glorifying the intellect at the expense of other human physical and psychological features. Such an idea was alien to some other traditions, e.g. to Judaism. But the Christian theology took it over from the Greek-Roman tradition, and we are conditioned to believe that our intellect, our I.Q. is something that makes us very special. We want to believe that our ability to reason, to calculate, to write poems and treatises, to discuss philosophical and scientific problems is something that we have in common with our Creator. It is quite easy to understand that any intellect, any neuro-computer, any living being has in its body, is a product of evolution, is a response to environmental challenges, although this response may well be enticingly complex and hard to understand. Still, our intellect is just a response to the specific environmental conditions here, on planet Earth. It is strange to suppose that there is an intellect, a brain capable of calculating such a structure as our Universe or Multiverse. If we believe in such a super-computer, we must ask how has it some into existence, who has created, designed it, what environmental conditions have been necessary to its birth. It is harder to imagine a self-emerging super-computer than a self-emerging universe. Of course, we can imagine a hierarchy, probably an infinite hierarchy of intellects where the lower one is designed by the higher one. But do we really need to believe in such things? Is it more logical, more satisfying than believing in the flying spaghetti monster?

Need to know more about Russia

The Estonian press writes a lot about Russia, but is too biased to give people, especially the younger generation not able to read Russian any more, a good picture of what is happening there. We are given reviews of very chauvinistic opinions and articles, and of the opinion columns of some voices of the radical opposition. I have several times urged our journalists to translate some opinion pages from RIAN and other publications, but so far without success. Thus our public probably doesn't know that even in the government-controlled websites there are articles discussing a potential power struggle between Putin and Medvedev, articles bashing the neo-Stalinists and the "derzhava-nostalgy". Russia is much more pluralistic than we want to acknowledge. On the shelves of our bookshops one can find books trying to prove that there existed a plot of generals against Stalin making the purges of the army in 1937-1938 inevitable, but also books trying to prove that there was no such plot. For some writers, Stalin was a great statesman, for some, a paranoic who nearly let Russia (aka Soviet Union) to be overrun by Hitler's divisions. Although Stalin seems still to be quite popular in the power structures, Solzhenitsyn is also popular and has become institutionalized as a classic. The students have to read history from some nationalistic textbooks, but at the same time they have to read Solzhenitsyn too. It means that they have to think with their own heads to find out where the truth lies. We must just wait and let this somewhat schizoid pluralism work. I hope that with every passing year, the chances of a neo-Stalinist takeover diminish, and even now they are negligeable. Russia is returning to its pre-revolution identity, an identity that is imperial and nationalistic, but not totalitarian.

dimanche 7 juin 2009

Money is one-dimensional

Money is not an adequate measure of human things. Money is one-dimensional, is just one number. But things that matter are nearly always multi-dimensional. They have colour, form, movement (in three dimensions), connections with other things... A society where many people judge themselves and other people according to their wealth is a very primitive society. It is a society that is trying to become one-dimensional. In fact, money as measure is not an objective one, it's very subjective, emotional. A substitute for real measures that science is painstakingly working out.

mardi 2 juin 2009

Human and Proud

We men like to think of ourselves as the crown of evolution or masterpiece of creation. Or at least powerful hunters, the lords of animal kingdom. Man the hunter -- this sounds proud. But this pride has been somewhat shaken by the idea that perhaps man was originally much more a hunted than a hunting animal. There's even a book: "Man the Hunted, Primates, Predators and Human Evolution" by Donna Hart and Robert Wald Sussman first published around 2005. An addition to the voluminous library on intriguing hypotheses on human evolution that includes some quite popular books as "The Naked Ape" by Desmond Morris or the Acquatic Ape hypothesis by Elaine Morgan. If I were young and enthusiastic enough, I would add one more book to this library: a book elaborating a hypothesis that, besides being both hunters and hunted, our ancestors were also quite skilful commensalists of big predators. Perhaps our babyface, the Lorenzian "Kindchengestalt" helped us, suppressing their predating instincts and stimulating their nurturing ones. Perhaps our ancestors even shared caves and other safe places with cave bears and other animals as do sparrows who often build their nests in the heap of branches that serves as foundation of a stork's nest. When the bear (lion, tiger) was hungry, the humans took refuge in some holes or crevasses hiding there until the danger was over and the boss had eaten or just stayed at safe distance.

jeudi 14 mai 2009

Translation wonders

My little book "Ice and the Titanic" was recently published in Hebrew translation in Israel. Now, there has been a review of the book in Haaretz. As my Hebrew is absolutely elementary, I let Google translator translate it for me. The result made me really laugh. I cannot but post it here, a mixture of Hebrew and would-to-be English.

Yours sincerely

Lan Kflinsky

13/05/09 Posted on - 08:42 13/05/09
עת לכל פחד Fear all the time
מאת ראובן מירן By Reuven Biran
תגיות: מסות , "הקרח והטיטניק" Tags: regulation, "the ice Ohtitnik"
הקרח והטיטניק Ice Ohtitnik
יאן קפלינסקי. Lan Kflinsky. תירגם מאסטונית והוסיף הערות ואחרית דבר:
רמי סערי. Translated Estonian adding comments epilogue: Rami Sa'ri.
הוצאת הקיבוץ המאוחד, 157 עמ', 78 שקלים Publishing unified grouping,
157 p., 78 shekels

בחברה המערבית הפוסט-מודרנית היהירה והמנוכרת שאת הקודים התרבותיים
והמוסריים שלה אימצנו לעצמנו מרענן לפגוש מישהו שאינו חי במרכז העולם אלא
בפאתי צפון. Western society post - modern Ohmnocrt snob whose moral
and cultural codes Aimtzno ourselves refreshing to meet someone who is
not living in the center of the world except North Bfati. יאן קפלינסקי
הוא סופר ופילוסוף אסטוני, המודע למצבו ולמצב העולם שהוא חי בו, ומצליח
להפוך את חרדותיו אל מול ההיסטוריה של ארצו לפואטיקה הגותית הנכתבת
מנקודת מבט אישית מאוד אך גם כלל אנושית. Lan is a writer Kflinsky
Estonian philosopher, the ad world situation to a situation in which
he lived managed Hrdotio to make history in front of his poetry
written from the Gothic look, but also very personal at all human.

קפלינסקי, משורר, סופר, מתרגם, מחזאי והוגה דעות ממוצא יהודי למחצה.
Kflinsky, poet, writer, translator, playwright philosopher semi-Jewish
descent. נולד ב-1941 באסטוניה שנכבשה בידי גרמניה הנאצית והתבגר תחת
שלטון רוסיה הסובייטית. -1941 Was born in Estonia occupied by Nazi
Germany teenager under Soviet rule of Russia. באחד מהגולאגים
הסטליניסטים, על פי עדותו, נרצח אביו כ"עבד אלמוני". In one Mhgolagim
Hstlinistim, according to testimony, his father was murdered כ"ע cloth
Anonymous. " הוא החל את דרכו המקצועית כסוציולוג ואקולוגיסט ופירסם קובץ
שירים ראשון ב-1965. He started his professional sociologist Oakologyst
file songs first published in 1965. בין השנים 1992-1995 כיהן קפלינסקי
כחבר פרלמנט במדינתו, וניסה להוסיף למלה הכתובה ממד מעשי. Between the
years 1992-1995 as a member of parliament held Kflinsky country, and
tried to add a practical dimension written word. כיום הוא נחשב למשורר,
הסופר ואיש הרוח המוביל בארצו ומועמד-של-קבע לפרס נובל לספרות. Today he
is considered למשורר, Scribe and spirit leading candidate country - of
- Noble literature prize set.

הספר החכם והרגיש הזה, "הקרח והטיטניק", ראה אור לראשונה באסטוניה ב-1995
והוא הראשון של קפלינסקי המתפרסם בעברית. This sensitive book smart,
"Ohtitnik ice", first saw light in 1995 and Estonia's first Kflinsky
published in Hebrew. את ההפתעה הנהדרת הטמונה בפגישה עם האדם והיוצר
המפתיע הזה צריך לזקוף לזכותו של המשורר והמתרגם רמי סערי, עורך הסדרה
"צפון" בהוצאת הקיבוץ המאוחד. The great surprise lies with the person
at the meeting this need and creates Hmftia credit an account of the
poet Rami Sa'ri translator, editor of the series "North," published by
unified grouping. זהו אוסף המאגד 110 מסות סיפוריות או סיפורים הגותיים
קצרים, המתארים, בסגנון סיפורי פשוט ונהיר, את מצבו של העולם בשלהי המאה
ה-20. This is a collection of 110 Hmagd cover stories or short stories
Hgotiim, descriptors, style stories just clear, the condition of the
world at the end of the 20th century.

הטקסטים האלה הם מופת לקסם הנצחי והלא-מנוצח של הפשטות. These texts are
exemplary and non eternal magic - the defeated simplicity. הם נולדו
מתחושה עמוקה של אי-ודאות המקננת בלבו של בן לארץ קטנה (פחות משני מיליון
תושבים). They were born a deep sense of failure - Hmknnt בלבו
certainty of a small country (less than two million inhabitants).
המחשבות, המועלות בספר בסגנון סיפורי נגיש וסוחף, מתייחסות לשאלות
מהותיות בתחומי החיים, התרבות והחברה. Thoughts, Hmoalot book-style
stories accessible sweeping, significant questions relate to aspects
of life, culture and society. המסות הסיפוריות האלה נולדו מתוך תחושת
אי-ודאות שהיא תולדה של חיים בזמן ובמרחב ההפקר בין קריסתן של
אידיאולוגיות טוטליטריות דוגמת הקומוניזם הלאומי-לאומני והפאשיזם-נאציזם,
שהתיימרו לברוא אדם חדש - לבין עולם פוסט-מודרני שבו אין עוד האדם מותר
מן הבהמה, ובעצם אין לו כל יתרון מוסרי על פני כל יישות חיה או דוממת
אחרת. Melting story of these were born of non sense - certainty that
she was living at the time of procreation ובמרחב Hhfkr between Kristn
of totalitarian ideologies such as communism national - nationalistic
fascism - Nazism, professes to make a new man - and the post-World -
in which modern man no longer allowed from Hvamh Actually, no him a
moral advantage over the animal or any entity other inanimation.

בעולם מנוכר שכזה, איזה מקום יש - אם בכלל - לראייה הומניסטית של החיים,
לרגש של סולידריות אנושית חובקת עולם, זו המסוגלת ליצור תרבות אנושית אחת
שעוצמתה ומוסריותה טמונות דווקא בשונות המגוונת שממנה היא מורכבת? Such a
stranger in the world, which has a place - if any - of the humanist
vision of life, human solidarity and rage of חובקת world, capable of
creating this culture of human Omosriuth strength lies precisely in
the variety from which it is composed?

והחירות, אותו ערך מקודש בכל הזמנים, האם השמירה עליה מוצדקת בכל מחיר
ובכל האמצעים? Freedom, the sacred value of all time, will save it
justified all means and in any price? "באל סלוודור הכריזה ממשלת הימין
על חנינה, ובמסגרתה שיחררו למעשה מעונש גם חיילים שהשתייכו לגדודי
רוצחים", מדווח קפלינסקי, ומזכיר שגדודי הרוצחים הראשונים שההיסטוריה
הכירה צמחו בספרטה. "Al right-wing government of Salvador announced the
amnesty, which released the penalty actually belonged regimental
soldiers murderers," reported Kflinsky, and Secretary of regimental
history, the killers first recognized Tzmho Vsfrta. ההכשרה הצבאית של
האריסטוקרטים שם כללה, בין השאר, פיגועי חבלה ליליים בבתיהם של צאצאי
האוכלוסייה הכבושה כדי שהללו ימשיכו לציית לשלטון הזר בארצם. Military
training Haristokrtim's name included, inter alia, attacks Liliim
portion of the child population in their homes occupied these will
continue to obey the rule of the foreign country. לספרטנים "לא היתה
דמוקרטיה", כותב קפלינסקי, "וממילא לא יכלו להגן עליה (מפני הפרסים), אבל
במקום זה הם הגנו על חירותם ולו תוך כדי התגרות במוות". Lsfrtnim "was
not democracy," writes Kflinsky, "and could not protect it (from the
board), but instead they defended the Hirotm and even death to

שקיעתה המפתיעה למצולות הים של אוניית הפאר המגלומנית "טיטניק" ב-1912,
אחרי שהתנגשה בקרחון בדרכה מאירופה לאמריקה, עוררה בלבו של יאן קפלינסקי
והציתה במוחו - כעד מתעד - את המחשבות המתייחסות לעתידם של ערכי תרבות
וחברה, ובעצם לעתידו של האדם בעולם המחשיך עצמו לדעת. שקיעתה Hmftiah
Lmtzolot sea of luxury ships Hmglumnit "Titnik in -1912, after the
glacier ran into on the way from Europe to America, the claimant בלבו
lan Kflinsky Ohtzith mind - Cad documents - the thoughts that the
future of culture and social values, the very future of the human
world to know itself Hmhsich . קפלינסקי שואל את עצמו האם וכיצד יכול
האדם הפוסט-מודרני לאתר לעצמו נתיב מילוט ממצב הג'ונגל שעל פניו אנחנו
נמצאים בו, עולם שבו אדם לאדם זאב. Kflinsky asks himself whether, and
how can man the post - modern site itself מילוט path from civil
defense Ongl that we are in a face, a world where human werewolf. "מה
יקרה להבא?" "What happens now?" הוא שואל, ומנסה להשיב: "ייתכן שהעתיד
יהיה שייך לנוודים החדשים: לאנשים לא יהיו עוד מגורים קבועים, הם יתגוררו
במקום שיהיה עליהם לגור בו וכל עוד יצטרכו לגור שם, ולאחר מכן יעברו
למקום אחר וכל תכולת ביתם עמם". He asks, and tries to answer: "You may
be the future belongs to new Lnoodim: More people will not be
permanent residences, they have instead Itgorro them live longer and
have to live there, and then will move to another location and
contents of their home with them." ובהמשך מתאר קפלינסקי מצב של עולם
גלובלי ללא גבולות, בלי מדינות לאום, עולם אקולוגי שבו האדם נושא את ביתו
אתו "כמו חילזון" ואינו מותיר "בנוף סימנים משמעותיים". Kflinsky and
describes the state of the global world without borders, without
national states, the ecological world in which the person carries the
house with him "like Hilzon" and leaves "significant signs of the

אבל בינתיים האדם נותר אותו אדם. But in the meantime the person remains
the same person. הכל השתנה, משתנה וישתנה, ורק הטבע האנושי נותר כשהיה.
Everything has changed, changes will vary, and only left when he was
human nature. "לכל זמן יש פחדים בסיסיים משלו", כותב קפלינסקי, "פחד
מפני המבול, מפני הישרפות העולם או מפני נפילת השמים. אולם לא ממש אפשר
להביע את הפחדים האלה, וגם לא להביעם באמנות או בספרות במקומות שהתודעה
נשלטת בהם בידי פחד קמאי יותר, הפחד משודדים או מפרעות ביהודים, מהנקוו"ד
או מהגסטאפו, במקום שאף אחד לא יכול להתרברב בו בוודאות, שהוא לא יהיה
הבא בתור שידפקו על דלתו בלילה". האדם האירופי, למוד הניסיון המר, שבע
המלחמות, הדיכוי, המצוקה והפחדים, שזכה לחיות כיום בעולם חופשי וסולידרי
לכאורה - מודע היטב לכך ש"באתיופיה אנשים אולי אינם מתים עוד ברעב, אבל
הם מתים בסודאן, שם הכוחות החדשים המושלים במדינה מנסים להשליט את דין
הקוראן". "Every time has its own basic fears," says Kflinsky, "because
fear Hmbol, differences from the world or from the fall sky. But not
really possible to express these fears, and not Lhbiam in art or in
places where the mind controlled by Kmai more fear, fear Msoddim
disorders or Jews, or Mhnkoo"d Mhgstafo, rather than no one can boast
a certainty that he will not be next in line Shidfko the door at
night. "Man European למוד bitter experience, seven wars, oppression,
the fears was to live in the world today Free solidary allegedly -
well aware that Ethiopia S"b Maybe people are more hungry people, but
they are dying in Sudan, where troops Hmoslim new country trying to
put the law Koran. "

קפלינסקי, שכתב את הדברים האלה לפני יותר מעשור, ממשיך כנביא חף מכל שמץ
של יומרה להתנבא: "כאשר פחדו של האדם מפני אדם אחר מתפוגג, עולים מנבכי
התת-מודע הפחדים והמאוויים הקדומים והטיפוסיים ביותר... החלום על האונייה
הלבנה, המובילה אל עולם טוב יותר, והפחד שהאונייה הלבנה תטבע. שהטיטניק
תשקע במצולה, שיפרוץ משבר בנקאות בכל רחבי העולם... שכוכב שביט יתנגש
בכדור הארץ ויתחיל עידן קרח חדש". Kflinsky, who wrote these things more
than a decade ago, continues to bring innocent of any shred of
converted prophesy: "When you were afraid of the person against
another person Mtfogg, Htt מנבכי immigrants - is aware of fears
Ohmaoweim הקדומים most typical ... dream on the white ship, leading to
the World better, and fear the white ship Ttba. Shtitnik Tska Bmtzolh,
Shifrotz banking crises throughout the world ... the star comet clash
on the Earth will begin a new ice age. "

לקראת סוף הספר הוא מדווח ומעביר לנו את הרהורי לבו: "במאמר שהתפרסם
לאחרונה על הטיטניק והזדמן לי לקרוא, טענו שלוחות הפלדה של שלדת האונייה
היו דקים ושבירים מדי, ולכן בשעת ההתנגשות פרץ הקרחון בדופן האונייה בקע
באורך של יותר מתשעים מטרים". Towards the end of the book is reported
to us and the thought Boo: "In an article published recently on the
Htitnik והזדמן I read, claimed to have branches of the steel ship some
paperclips were too fragile, so when the ship broke glacier wall
rupture length of more than ninety meters." מי יודע מהו עוביים של
לוחות הפלדה של אוניית ענק שעל סיפונה אנחנו נמצאים עכשיו וכאן, אונייה
העושה את דרכה בים הקרחונים לעבר עתיד טוב יותר, הנמצא, כך אומרים, מעבר
לאופק המעורפל? Who knows what Obeim of the steel panels of the huge
ships that fencing we are now and here, a ship makes the sea Hkrhonim
way toward a better future, that is, to say, beyond the horizon

mercredi 6 mai 2009

Kultuuri inflatsiuun

Mul om tunne, et pia omma asja nii kavveh, et parep olessi kiränikule massa tuu iist, et tä inäp ei kirota kui kirotamise iist. Kirotedas ülearu pallo ja nii om egäl tekstil, egäl raamatul pallo veedep tähendüst ku innevanasti olli. Sama asi om kunstiga, piltega ja muusikaga ka. Kõkke om pallo ja sis taht iks egäüts umma asja vällä pakku, taht, et timä luudu läässi lakja, jõvvassi hulga inemiisi manu, timä tettül olessi määnegi mõjo. A tuud mõjjo om iks vähäp ja vähäp. Mida rohkep märke, seda vähäp om egä märgi tähendüs. Tuu omgi inflatsiuun, inflatsiuun lagjembah mõtteh. Kirändusele olessi hää, kui timä mõness aoss õkva är keeletäs. Raamatul olessi sis mõjjo ja tähendüst, ku tedä piässi altkäe ja hirmuga otsma ja ostma.

mardi 7 avril 2009

Судьба генерала

В эстонском переводе вышла книга финского историка Мартти Туртола об Эстонском генерале, последнем главнокомандующем Иоганне Лайдонере. Книга наверняка не нравится многим эстонским читателям, считающим Лайдонера героем. По книге Туртола мы могли бы считать его и предателем, хотя автор избегает таких морализующих оценок. Интересно то, что Туртола пытается отвергнуть бытующие в эстонской исторической памяти взгляды, по которым финны в 1939. году нас предали и вынудили капитулировать перед Советским нажимом. Туртола убеждает нас, что Лайдонер и президент Пятс сознательно пошли на полное сотрудничество с Москвой, тщательно выполняя все ее требования и избегая всех шагов, которые могли бы привести к обвинениям в недружеском отношении к великому соседу. В этом свете массовые репрессии Кремля выглядят еще более чудовищными и предательскими. В сути Сталин прислал свои карательные отряды против людей, которые всячески пытались подчиниться его диктату и не оказали ему никакого сопротивления.

В этой связи не могу не помнить, что мне однажды рассказал покойный Нигол Андресен, мининдел марионеточного Эстонского государства после его оккупации и перед его аннексией Советским Союзом. Принимая своих новеньких марионеток в Москве Вячеслав Молотов сказал примерно так: >>Нам удалось снова присоединить к себе потерянные территории. Я конечно не отрицаю, что некоторые представители местного населения нам при этом помогали.<< Андресен, убежденный марксист, услышав это, думал: >>Ну вот и тебе республика трудового народа!<<


En ymmärrä oikein, miksi muutamat virolaiset ja suomalaiset aktivistit nyt haluavat, että presidentti Koivisto sekä ehkä jotkut muut Suomen johtajat pyytäisivät anteeksi virolaisilta, koska eivät tukeneet Viron itsenäisyyspyrkimyksiä. Suomen politiikka on ollut minusta hyvin järkevä; valitettavasti ei ole järkevä politiikka usein ekstravertti. Poliitikot eivät puhu, mitä ajattelevat, eivätkä selitä, miksi tekivät näin ja ei noin. Suomi on kovan historiallisen läksyn jälkeen valinnut hiljaisen diplomatian tien ja on siinä onnistunut pysymään itsenäisenä ja niin pian kuin se tuli mahdolliseksi, katkaissut vasallisuhteet Moskovaan. Ilman suurta retoriikkaa, ilman anteeksipyyntöjä tai syytöksiä. Suomen johtajat ymmärtävät hyvin, että ne eivät pysty auttamaan muita kansoja saavuttamaan itsenäisyyttä. Muiden kansojen pyrkimyksistä ja tilanteesta ei anneta julkilausumia, mutta niistä pidetään huolta niin paljon kuin mahdollista, vaarantamatta suhteita itänaapuriin. Kuten teki presidentti Kekkonen Virossa. Jos ne vaarantuisivat, Suomen mahdollisuudet esim. auttaa mordvalaisia tai udmurttejä pienentyisivät olemattomiin. Niistä voisi jopa tulla vahinkoja Venäjällä asuvien heimokansojen aktivisteille. Muistetaan, mitä tapahtui inkeriläisille 30-40-luvuilla... Suomessa kyllä puhuttiin niiden puolesta kovalla äänellä. Uskon, että se oli yksi seikkä, miksi Stalin harjoitti Inkerissä etnistä puhdistusta, jopa kansanmurhaa. Olisi hyvä, jos virolaisetkin oppisivat Suomen kokemuksista. Olisi hyvä, jos ymmärrettäisiin, että poliittinen diskurssi on jotain muuta kuin journalistinen tai belletristinen diskurssi.

vendredi 3 avril 2009


I use the word ideology meaning a system of beliefs that is immune to rational criticism and control. It makes sense to differentiate between three different kinds of such ideologies. I call them political, economical and religious. A typical political ideology is nationalism in all its colours and tints. Political ideologies had their heyday in the twentieth century when the belief in remaking the societies, political maps and human beings was very influential and powerful ideologies of communism, fascism and some of their derivatives were born and expanded their influence all around the world. The victory of the allied forces crushed both German Nazis and Italian Fascists, but strengthened for several decades the influence of Communism which divided into several distinct and competing branches. Then the Soviets overexerted themselves and their empire collapsed together with their ideology that has survived only in some marginal countries, sometimes just as a guise for a local nationalist ideology -- a typical example is North Korea. But in the wider world, political ideologies have been largely replaced by a mixture of classical nationalism and economism, an ideology based on the popular form of neo-liberalist economics. As in the recent past, it was believed that all the most important problems can be solved by means of political decisions and actions, it was, and still is widely believed that liberalizing the economy and monetarizing every field of human activity is the solution to all or most big problems humanity faces. The Friedmanian ideology has some similarities with the Leninist one, and it is exemplified in a funny way by some East-European ideologists who have once successfully professed the all-powerful Marxism-Leninism and now are using quite similar expressions about the virtues of free-market Capitalism.

The strength of an ideology can be measured by readiness of people to die or to kill in its name. Here, the modern free-marketist Capitalism cannot boast with such exploits as the Nazis or Bolsheviks. Friedmanians have no Auschwitz, no Katyn, no Cambodian killing fields. But when we delve deeper into history, we find enough examples of genocide, be it in Africa or in the Americas. Here, another ideology, religion has had its part. The colonizers and slave traders believed in their right to make profit, and they believed this right was given to them by God himself. The belief that was shared by Muslims whose behaviour in Africa and elsewhere was often as genocidal as those of their Christian brethren and rivals.

Religion is by far the most sophisticated ideology, and an ideology per se. It has also had enough time to evolve and to find ways to safeguard itself against every kind of dangers. Its forceful comeback in the last decades of the XXth century proves it has enough strength to influence the events in the world.

If an ideology gains power, it has the tendency to subordinate everything else. An ideology influences culture, human relations, everyday behaviour. Its language pervades everything. In the USSR we had "Marxist history", "Marxist science". In medieval Europe science and philosophy had to be servants of theology, of religion. Christians want Christian philosophy, Christian literature and art, Christian marriage and education. Islamic extremists want to insert into the textbooks of chemistry the phrase "If Allah wants". E.g. "Hydrogen and oxygen react, and the result is water, if Allah wants". I think one of the greatest achievements of human spirit and culture is freedom from ideologies. Unfortunately, very few people are ready to die (or to kill) for such freedom. Free thinkers can be very brave, but their following is always very limited. We are ready to reject an ideology, but most often just replacing it with another one.

dimanche 29 mars 2009

Mother Nature as our partner

Some people, lately Thomas Friedman in the New York Times have written that the present economic crisis has also an ecological crisis, a crisis in our relationship with Mother Nature. I agree. It seems very clear that we cannot continue our business as usual without normalizing our relations with her. She is a peculiar partner. She is absolutely law-abiding, but absolutely uncompromising too. And we cannot negotiate with her. We must accept her conditions. Or to become extinct.

samedi 14 mars 2009

Some months ago I wrote in Eesti Päevaleht, answering the questions of the editors that NATO is not capable of defending Estonia against Russia. I have no feedback, but probably this view irritated some people in our political establishment and some self-proclaimed security experts. Now I find more or less the same thought expressed by the very authoritative voice of Stratfor a couple of days ago. Here it is:

NATO has moved from defending Western Europe to defending most of Europe, as well as using its expansion to slash Russia’s sphere of influence — containing the former Soviet power behind Russian lines. The most controversial of these expansions came in 2004, when NATO took in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia (among others). The Baltic states don’t contribute much to NATO militarily, and they are virtually indefensible against a Russian invasion — which undermines the purpose of NATO. But the inclusion of these former Soviet states expanded NATO literally to the Russian border.

This was and is one of Moscow’s greatest fears.

My basic idea was simple: if Moscow experiences a setback in a region it considers vital to its security, it can hit back in another region, first of all where the potential adversary is weak. And Estonia and Latvia are certainly the weakest links in the NATO chain. We are under a bigger threat if Ukraine joins NATO. Fortunately, this won't happen in near future. Are we also threatened if Sweden joins NATO that seems quite possible according to the Stratfor analysis?

samedi 21 février 2009

Россия как наша гарантия

Каждому жителю Эстонии достается около 3,5 гектаров земли. Этого достаточно, чтобы выжить, хотя довольно скромным образом. Но во всяком случае нас не угрожает экологический кризис в том виде, как он угрожает жителям западной Европы, Китая или Индии. Но этот несомненно грядущий кризис угрожает нам косвенно, в наш регион будут стремиться потоки беженцев из южных стран, страдающих от природных катастроф и социальных потрясений. Эти беженцы не объязательно мирные жители, среди них наверно есть бандиты и члены экстремистских религиозных группировок. Нам вполне возможно предстоит бороться против джихадистов. Этим мы сами не справимся, тут нам очень кстати существование сильной России. Россия для нас и для наших соседов буфер, защищающий нас от опасностей с беспокойного Юга. Россия столкнулась с южными угрозами раньше нас и нам следует надеяться, что она с ними справится. Иначе нам предстоят очень тревожные времена. Россия, как Эстония и другие прибалтийские страны негусто заселена, поэтому и ей прямо не угрожает экокризис. И нам не угрожает массовая миграция россиян. Им хватит места и у себя на родине. Экологически мы в схожей ситуации и у нас схожие интересы. Рано или поздно эти интересы должны найти выражение в политике.

vendredi 23 janvier 2009

Против нацизма или против Германии

Читая биографию адмирала Канариса, главы немецкого Абвера, я вдруг понял одну простую вещь. Союзники боролись в Европе не столько против нацизма, сколько против Германии. Англии и Соединенным Штатам угрожала сильная и уверенная в себе Германия, будь то нацистская, будь то демократическая. Германия была опасной соперницей, с ней надо было справиться. Гитлера долго считали не так уж серьезной угрозой, в каком то смысле он был даже полезен, был ненавистной фигурой и скверным полководцем. Если бы союзники хотели избавиться от него, они поддерживали бы Канариса и его единомышленников. Ничего подобного не было, в самом деле англичане его предали, когда вместо того чтобы поддержать отлично выработанный Канарисом и его единомышленниками план переворота, Чемберлен позвонил Гитлеру, чтобы с ним встретиться. Один из американских высших чинов даже сказал, что они не хотят иметь дело ни с какими прусскими генералами. У союзников была ясная политика: никакого сотрудничества с оппозицией в Германии, никакой поддержки заговорщикам. Как будто боялись, что если в Германии придут к власти умеренные, цивилизованные политики, будет не так удобно продолжать войну против нее, войну до полного уничтожения страны. Хочется спросить, не так ли были дела и с борьбой Запада, 'свободного мира' против коммунизма. И тут Запад скорее всего хотел не допустить того, чтобы Советский Союз, Россия стала действительно великой державой. Как во ворой мировой войне, так и в холодной войне Запад добился своей цели. А нацизм и коммунизм служили отличными отличителжными признаками врага, отличным предлогом мобилизации вооруженных и невооруженных сил против него.

mercredi 21 janvier 2009

Writing history

Politics is writing history, politicians are like novelists. But novelists who are not free to write what they would like. They have to continue writing a text other people have written before them, where the personae, the main plot, the style are already given and not too much can be changed. In addition to these restrictions, there are the readers, the audience, the electorate who is following your every word and loudly expressing their likes, dislikes and wishes you must take into account. Which writer would like to be a writer in such conditions?!

lundi 12 janvier 2009

Campaign against Israeli war or against the Jews?

Reading about the anti-semitic acts of terror and vandalism in Europe and America I wonder what do the perpetrators of these acts really want to achieve. Perhaps they don't think too much, just acting, motivated only by hatred. Hatred against the Jews, not just against Israel or Israeli military actions, its occupation of the West Bank or punitive expedition in Gaza. And I cannot but think that the anti-Israeli activists are sometimes simply stupid. If some islamic states or movements want to get rid of the state of Israel as a Jewish state, they shouldn't harass the Jews elsewhere. Quite the opposite: they should try to make it clear that they are not fighting against the Jews, but against Zionism, againsт migration of Jews into what is now Israel and what they call оccupied Palestine. The leaders of Iran shouldn't arm their proxies in Lebanon and Gaza, instead, they should use their money to pay a premium to every Jew who leaves Israel. The Gulf sheikhs who build hockey stadiums and superlux hotels could well pay every Jew willing to emigrate from Israel a decent sum of money enabling him/her to find a new home and begin a new life elsewhere. After all, it was the European anti-semitism that gave rise to Zionism and created the Eretz Israel. Then too, instead of keeping their Jews, giving them some incentives to stay where they lived, the Arab governments in fact banished them, force them to leave for Israel. And if the local Muslims and their non-Muslim henchmen turn to anti-semitism, it will motivate the European and American Jews to move there or support Israel. The Jews go to Israel because they feel safer there. If the opponents of Israel could convince them that they are even safer in Europe, there would be less Jews leaving Europe for Israel and less unconditional support for Israel among the aliyah Jews. So far the opponents of Israel have done just the opposite, making us to ask if they are sincere enough to tell the truth about their motives and if they are intelligent enough to understand what are their real interests and the ways of defending them. Their actions and their rhetoric are unbelievably counter-productive. Once, a Tunesian intellectual, a devote Muslim told me that if the leaders of the Arab states had been less idiots, there would now be peace in the Near East. He meant the time when the Jewish state was born and fought for its survival. I suspect that nowadays the leaders of the Arab states are more intelligent, but the islamist activists and the Arab street hasn't learnt anything. Or sometimes probably the activists are just exploiting the Palestine issue in their own interest. I am sure that even the fiercely anti-Israeli Iranian leaders don't really wish to abolish Israel, all these people would then have to invent another enemy, another Israel.