The People and Putin

A friend of mine rang last night to take issue with my blog on Putin’s treachery over MH17. He’s a rather shy fellow so I will summarise the argument on his behalf.

In seeking to censure Putin, we appeal to our politicians who allowed the conflict in Ukraine to continue for months, he said. It’s a fair point, we didn’t seem to care too much about the loss of life in Ukraine until it affected us directly. We didn’t give a toss that Russia was destroying the lives of thousands of people and taking Europe into a new age of imperialism. Not our problem. Just like Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

To suggest that Abbott was doing a good job over MH17, as I did, missed the point that he should have been on the job earlier, my friend said. But we are fixated with our own political issues, mostly esoteric arguments about carbon and mining taxes etc, invariably connected to our hip pocket nerve. We give Abbott too much credit for precious little in demanding that Putin front up for what he has done, my friend said. A struggling government will bounce in the polls for doing what is right, rather like being paid twice for turning up to work. It’s a reasonable argument but I’m inclined to give Abbott some benefit of the doubt. At least he didn’t call it Ukrainia.

My friend says we need a new politics, possibly without politicians, that recognises the fundamental connections between people of the world. If that were so, then conflicts like Ukraine might not get so far, and he’s not talking about a UN-style body that fosters inequality and lack of accountability. As another friend said yesterday: “Rule 1 of international relations – countries with nukes and who are permanent members of the UN security council tend to avoid action from the “international community”(love that meaningless term).”

It’s the abiding love of self-interest and expediency that has rendered the term “international community” meaningless. I hope this time things begin to change. We are globally connected like never before. We no longer rely upon politicians to speak for us. Our thoughts are no longer shaped and controlled by a few media gatekeepers. Is there a new fellowship of nations possible through direct communication of peoples, or is that hopelessly idealistic?


4 thoughts on “The People and Putin

  1. It would me great to think that the world could be so idealistic! The truth is we are human!
    We see the news every night where people of our own nation, state and even town are affected by tragedy, unfortunately unless it affects us personally then we tend to move on to the next story!
    Yes, the world should condemn Putin prior to it affecting us personally, in which the “international community” did through sanctions against Russia. Abbott may not have had the loudest voice, but I don’t think anyone could say he wasn’t opposed to the actions of Russia.
    Abbott should be praised for the way he has handled it, had it been my love one on that plane, then I would want him to stand up and say we will not put up with rhetoric and we want action.
    There is unfortunately so many conflicts in the world, sometimes it is hard to set hype priority as to which one to stand up for first!

  2. From another friend of mine who prefers to remain anonymous. “I think the Green belt in Richmond, Brunswick, Kensington, Fitzroy, Carlton and St Kilda will be always be the hub of discussion on international political issues.
    The problem is the vast majority of constituents are bogans living in the suburbs, relying on the Herald Sun for information.

    I have the feeling that if these issues were important to bourgeoisie class in Australia then perhaps Abbott may have dealt with this earlier. We should learn from the Israelites in Caulfield and St Kilda who seem to successfully influence public policy.
    What about Russia?
    The reason why Putin can behave in such a way is that he controls the levers of gas supply to Europe (especially Germany) and massive global oil production. If the US/ EU protests too much he can always use China to counter.

    Russia’s actions (at least initially) did not really affect people in our local community so until MH17, the myriad of different global concerns competed for our attention. Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, North Korea? Take your pick.
    So why weren’t we really concerned before?
    Abbott is attempting a direct assault on our way of life right now. Australian’s are over-leveraged and now we are supposed to pay for “free” healthcare and take on 100k degrees? Everything that gave us a quality of life advantage over other countries is slowly being whittled away.
    If most people are “busy with work and the kids”, you would think these more immediate issues would be the agitator for current social discourse rather than Ukrainian separatism.
    Why does MH17 matter?
    The MH17 tragedy tends to mobilize these elements as the news feeds in the Herald Sun, Courier Mail and Telegraph are willing to provide more coverage to the issue. This attracts the interest of the public, and excites the voice of the herd.
    What’s interesting now is that the Vice News/ Twitter generation has the ability to mobilize people without having them take out placards and stamp their feet at the state library. If there is enough interest in an issue we now have the capability to virtually project community concerns. The Twitter #Bring Back Our Girls campaign for Boko Haram is perhaps one of the more illustrative examples. Nevertheless, Australia’s position as a “middle power” means that we wait for America’s cue before we take an active foreign policy stance. We don’t really have an influence on world affairs other than backing the Anglo narrative right now.
    What you were writing about reminds me of Gramsci’s position on cultural hegemony, wherein the public, institutions and government exchange ideas and values to establish norms in society. Perhaps wishful thinking, but maybe we need to depart from being online celebrities on Facebook and talk face to face again.”
    Excellent thoughts.

  3. The point you make regarding “Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, North Korea,” is very valid. Yet what of Israel’s concurrent devastation of Gaza? In the voting populace you mention above in liberal Victoria (“Caulfield and St Kilda”) there is certainly a community resonance, yet a near total silence in local media, let alone social media; there is an irony here, which is unfortunate.

    I very much agree with your friend, insofar this gives/gave Abbott and his henchman the chance to possibly diffuse (smokescreen) a highly unpopular budget, or at least provide an opportunity for statesmanship, of which his government is obliged (and paid to do so). I wonder, however, had MH17 been shot down by one of our ASEAN cohorts, what the Abbott government’s response may have been.

  4. I cannot agree Adam re Abbott the mans a mental midget like who are we too demand anything of Russia or Putin ,sure it’s all emotional because people died and if it’s your loved ones that devastating no question about it ,, but we are yet to even determine who the guilty party is or isn’t ,, are our memories so short that we forget when the Ukraine themselves shot down an airliner or when the yanks navy shot down an air Iranian airliner in the Persian gulf ,, I don’t recall any sanctions against the USA for that or Australia demanding anyone be court martial or shot of all those lives ,,, the reality is nothing can and will be done about this other than some political point scoring by some numb nut trying to get reelected ,, projectile vomiting rhetoric faster than his brain can process what even happened and he should be worrying about us instead throwing off about things abroad that nether he or anyone else can effectively remedy ,, like I can see us going toe to toe with Russian yeah as if

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