American protest songs, lyrically at least, showcase that as an expression of national consciousness, Americans lost their understanding of what freedom means somewhere in the early 1970’s. Sentiment against dictatorships and enslavement of populations gave way to more America-centric problems, dominated by the war in Vietnam and, to a lesser extent, national race relations and the problems associated with getting a job. In latter decades the media honed its skills at what has become known as the politics of division, and became adept at turning whole segments of the population against one another, always dangling the illusory concept of freedom just out of reach.
What is freedom, really? Is it the liberty to make mistakes while pursuing greater goals, knowing that you still must bear responsibility for the consequences – unintentional and potential – of those mistakes? Or is it simply the removal of all restraints on one’s personal behavior, as Jen suggests here?
This and other issues is discussed here in a provocative guest post by the inimitable Aussie contributor, Jenifer Hor, in her analysis of Putin’s speech to the attendants of the final plenary session of the Valdai Discussion Club at Sochi, last month. For me, it reaffirms that Vladimir Putin remains committed to a united global problem-solving approach which emphasizes frank and open discussion of world problems, while the west remains mired in creation of wedge issues for its own benefit and discrediting all sources which do not correspond to its worldview. Permit me to offer my accolades in advance for a solid and perceptive first-line analysis. Take it away, Jen!
Vladimir Putin’s Valdai Speech at the XIII Meeting (Final Plenary Session) of the Valdai International Discussion Club (Sochi, 27 October 2016)
As is his usual custom, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech at the final session of the annual Valdai International Discussion Club’s 13th meeting, held this year in Sochi, before an audience that included the President of Finland Tarja Halonen and former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki. The theme for the 2016 meeting and its discussion forums was “The Future in Progress: Shaping the World of Tomorrow” which as Putin noted was very topical and relevant to current developments and trends in global politics, economic and social affairs.
Putin noted that the previous year’s Valdai Club discussions centred on global problems and crises, in particular the ongoing wars in the Middle East; this fact gave him the opportunity to summarise global political developments over the past half-century, beginning with the United States’ presumption of having won the Cold War and subsequently reshaping the international political, economic and social order to conform to its expectations based on neoliberal capitalist assumptions. To that end, the US and its allies across western Europe, North America and the western Pacific have co-operated in pressing economic and political restructuring including regime change in many parts of the world: in eastern Europe and the Balkans, in western Asia (particularly Afghanistan and Iraq) and in northern Africa (Libya). In achieving these goals, the West has either ignored at best or at worst exploited international political, military and economic structures, agencies and alliances to the detriment of these institutions’ reputations and credibility around the world. The West also has not hesitated to dredge and drum up imaginary threats to the security of the world, most notably the threat of Russian aggression and desire to recreate the Soviet Union on former Soviet territories and beyond, the supposed Russian meddling in the US Presidential elections, and apparent Russian hacking and leaking of emails related to failed US Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton’s conduct as US Secretary of State from 2008 to 2012. Continue reading