Friday, March 07, 2014

What Leaders Read

Earlier this week, Angela Merkel worried that Vladimir Putin was living "in another world." Leonoid Bershidsky writes that Putin does indeed inhabit another world -- not because he's crazy, but because he has read different books than those we have read:

Maria Snegovaya, a graduate student at Columbia University, provides a useful analysis of the sources of Putin’s ideology, rooted in the writings of early 20th century messianic, nationalist philosophers Nikolai Berdyayev, Vladimir Solovyov and Ivan Ilyin. To them, Russia had a mission to spread and maintain the Orthodox Christian faith on territories it controlled, and the West was the eternal enemy of that mission, perpetually trying to break up the Russian world. Snegovaya also recalls the 2006 book Third Empire: The Russia That Should Be, by Mikhail Yuriev, an entrepreneur and ideologue popular with Kremlin bureaucrats. In Yuryev’s utopia, Russia gathers up the lands of the old Russian empire, grabbing, among other areas, eastern Ukraine after a standoff with NATO. Two years before Russia’s small victorious war against Georgia, Third Empire described a Russian conquest of the disputed Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

His education has given him a world view which has little in common with our Western -- Renaissance inspired -- world view:

Putin’s world view is so different from that of Western politicians seeking to prevent a war that they are speaking different languages — not just in the linguistic sense. The only language they have in common is that of money, but it has little effect on Putin now.

In Putin’s world, the Russian civilization is clashing with the Western one. Money and the formalities of international law mean little in this existential struggle. Paradoxically, if the West is not willing to live by the harsh rules of this imagined world, it is going to watch Putin settle for less after threatening to take more. Specifically, Russia will keep formal or informal control of the Crimea, while the rest of Ukraine limps ahead on its nation-building path.

The disconnect with Russia mirrors our disconnect with the Islamic world. And -- for Canadians -- it raises the question, "What does Stephen Harper read?"


the salamander said...

.. it would be interesting to know what our yellow Czar Harper claims to read.. certainly Canadians cannot expect a truth to squirm from the great mind, out to an underling and survive the greasy servile passage to breathless mainstream media via twitter, spokeswank or royal decree.

Can we expect him to admit to deep perusal of the shrill Amerikan worx of Tom Flanagan.. in case a nasty trick or two remains untried or explored?

Our current Senior Public Servant is indeed an explorer.. leading his lost boy/girl scouts thru the Byzentine swamps of Parliamentary loopholes, litigation, delay, obstruction & denial..

After all... if it takes years to prove, years to process in court.. in the clouded desperate yellow & cowardly eyes of Stephen Harper.. its a brilliant strategic play

Its never been about Canada.. never will be..
its a sandbox.. with a distorted childish adult
parked n the middle and throwing sand

Owen Gray said...

Your analysis of Harper, as always, is spot on, salamander. He's a frustrated child, who -- I'll wager -- is not familiar with the Canon of Western Civilization -- or any other civilization.

Anonymous said...

Harper reads only his press releases. A very prominent author, (name escapes) has been sending books, regularly, to Harper, with the advice to read- SOMETHING. Good leaders read a vital mix of fiction and NF. We can see how that's working out.

Owen Gray said...

I believe the author is Yann Martel, the author of Life of Pi, Loving It.

I don't believe Harper has communicated with Martel.

ffd said...

If Harper reads at all, I would expect it to be mainly fundamentalist religious stuff. I say that from my experience with such religious types.

However many fundamentalists don't read anything, including the Bible. A survey, whose origin unfortunately escapes me, found that atheists and agnostics were far more familiar with the Bible than fundamentalist Christians, many of whom couldn't distinguish Old Testament from New Testament quotes. These were simple, straightforward quotes too.

Who are these people? Knowing this will explain a lot about Harper, I think.

I find that many fundamentalists think they have a special relationship to God that supersedes human laws, and that they divide people into saved and unsaved. What happens to the unsaved doesn't matter.

Such thinking can easily become psychopathic. Criminal behaviour isn't criminal when the unsaved are the victims, they think. Maybe Harper is really nice to members of his church.

Owen Gray said...

It's been evident for some time, ffd, that Harper and his cohorts consider themselves members of the elect.

I doubt they've paid any attention to the parable of Lazarus and the rich man.

Anonymous said...

Correct author Yann Martel is the one who has been sending Harper books every 2 weeks since 2007.

And no Harper himself does not reply.

Anyways here is my recommendation for Mr. Harper to read:

The Sandbox Bully Paperback – March 19, 2012

by Leonidas Tarca (Author) , Molly Buffington (Illustrator)

About the Author

STOP IT Campaign founder Leonidas Tarca has over eighteen years’ experience working with Southern California students, from the inner cities of the San Fernando Valley to the suburbs of Burbank. He and his wife Amanda, a school psychologist with the Pleasant Valley School District, earned their undergraduate and masters degrees from California State University at Los Angeles. Leonidas is currently an assistant principal for the Burbank Unified School District, where The STOP IT Campaign is being implemented in elementary and middle schools on a district-wide basis. To learn more about Leonidas Tarca and The STOP IT Campaign, please visit

I think this to be the perfect book for Harper 1) its short, 2) its written by an American. After all he gets his strategies from domineering Americans, maybe this could be the perfect antidote.

Ya think?


Owen Gray said...

An excellent suggestion, Mogs.