We have hot water!

We have broadband!  (Remember 1200-baud modems?)

And most who don’t soon will!

We have GPS!

We have chauffeurs!  (Mine’s name is “Uber.”)

We have electricity and flight and antibiotics and vaccines and . . .

. . . huge problems.

Pain, suffering, and despair abound.

(Not least here in the U.S. because of the economic inequality we’ve allowed to get so wildly out of hand.  Join the Patriotic Millionaires if you are one.)

It’s easy to see how, as a species, we could hurtle off the rails.

Yet  technology races along with the potential to solve almost anything; and when people cooperate and see the best in each other, what isn’t possible?  It’s that last piece, not splitting the atom or reaching Mars, that seems hardest.

Two random bright spots caught my attention this past week:


GREECE

Remember what a basket case it was just a few years ago, and how we thought it could tank the financial system?

It’s doing great. 


THE REST OF THE WORLD

From the Tony Blair Institute:


While the number of populists in power was near an all-time high of 19 at the beginning of 2020, by the beginning of 2022 there were only 13, the lowest number since 2004. Donald Trump was out of office and while he has continued to proclaim that he won the 2020 presidential election, we found that in 2021, several populist leaders left office peacefully and without contesting the election results. The wave of left-wing populists in Latin America from the early 2000s peaked and then almost completely subsided, with the remaining examples of populism around the world – ten out of 13 – almost entirely comprising right-wing cultural populists.

. . .

The number of populists in power is down largely because the number of populist leaders in Latin America, historically a hotbed of left-wing populism, is near a 30-year low. This is because of the success of progressive, centre-left leaders. . . .


There’s much more to the report, and “populism” is one of those nebulous terms that means different things to different people.

As the Institute sees it:


Populists are united by two claims: first, that a country’s “true people” are locked into a moral conflict with “outsiders”, and second, that nothing should constrain the will of the “true people”. Rather than seeing politics as a contest between different policy positions, populists argue that the political arena is a moral battleground between right and wrong – between a country’s true people and the elites or other groups that populists deem to be outsiders, like ethnic and religious minorities, immigrants or criminals. Because of the absolute nature of political conflict, there can be little room for compromise on most issues. Anti-elitism always features prominently in populist rhetoric, and the moral conflict between the “good people” and the “corrupt elite” is one of the most important threads running through populist narratives.



Plus, I repeat (with the correct link this time): Putin is losing.

 

 

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