My Political Journey Part 1: The Cold War and the 80s Kid
Nature and Nurture as Context, Thermonuclear Annihilation, Multicultural Suburbia, Diaspora Identity, Formative Experiences, Freedom 1989
Note: This is the first part in a series
There’s a rather humorous video clip making the rounds of social media that shows two Microsoft presenters introducing themselves not just by their names, but also by their race, physical appearance and what they are wearing. I am told that the last two are most likely to help the visually impaired. The racial announcement might be related to that as well, but it was preceded by the female presenter engaging in a ‘land recognition statement’, in which she lists off all the native tribes that occupied the site and area around them ‘since time immemorial’. The temptation to conclude that this is another case of “Woke Capital” is too much to avoid.
Many are laughing at this for the usual reasons, but I personally do not mind it. After all, classifying people upon first meeting them is a natural human trait. A heterosexual male will look at a female for the first time and immediately decide whether he wants to have sex with her or not (it takes a heterosexual female 5 minutes to decide the reverse). We observe the other and note their physical characteristics in order to remember them. Personal names allows us the ability to link their physical features to the voice inside of our heads by way of memory.
As for myself, upon meeting a person I will try and drill down deeper; what is their ethnic background? Were they born in the land where their people come from? Are they immigrants? What accent do they have? What economic class do they belong to?
All of this is natural and I know that many of you do this as well, even subliminally. Why do we do this? Because finding out these answers serves as a short cut in helping us understand who that person is, and more importantly, why they are the way they are. Humans are not blank slates, despite what some will claim. We are both a product of our genes and our environment.
Many of you have requested that I outline my politics or, more ambitiously, my political development up to this point in my life thus far. I try to refrain from discussing myself in my writing as I bore even myself, but I think that it is a good idea to lay out my trajectory so that each and every one of you that is interested in my thoughts and writing understands why I write what I write and where it comes from. I will aim to limit the biographical detail to include only what is necessary to help illustrate this development and not venture into a personal profile of my life. More interested in celebrating others than being fêted, I will allow for my biography to dull others when I am in safely lowered into the ground (assuming that anyone would be interested in reading it in the first place). Suffice it to say, everything that you ever read from me should be viewed through the context of who I am.
The best method for this is a chronological one, but we will borrow from books and film to trot out the old trope of the flashback to show where I am now (but only a glimpse) and how I got from there to here.
Respect for True Diversity on the Global Scale
The traditional definition of the political liberal has taken a significant thrashing this past decade. I am quite prone to sharing links to a six-part documentary series on the Spanish Civil War (we will discuss this conflict in an upcoming segment of this series), and the reason that I bring this up is that one of the people interviewed in it is a scion of the liberal republicans of that era. He explained that he is a political liberal by way of saying “I am tolerant of and respect other people’s ideas”. This runs rather counter to the stereotype of the present liberal, a humourless scold, completely intolerant of any ideas outside of the most narrow of permitted parameters, morally denouncing anything that falls outside of those borders as inherently evil.
Today, it is the non-liberal, or more precisely, the illiberal that is the champion of diversity on the global scale. I fall squarely within this cohort. My current worldview is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to governance and statecraft for all peoples, and that the current global system, which emphasizes ‘human rights’ as universal, is, at worst, wrong, and is in many cases horrific. This horror is only compounded by the ever-increasing amount of rights that are pushed to accepted as ‘human rights’.
Different cultures and different societies should be able to govern themselves according to what works best for their own countries, based on their histories, traditions, current conditions. They may be democratic, they may be autocratic. It is not our place to dictate to others how they run their own internal affairs. Many will say that this is naive or immoral (depending on your own worldview), and I grant that there can be exceptions to this. At the end of the day, forcing others to live according to your own values and goals, whether selfish or altruistic, is colonialist. Some may shudder at this rejection of colonialism, but for me self-determination for all peoples who qualify for it is ideal. I will be accused of Wilsonianism for this, but it would be a lazy accusation as I reject tying self-determination to democracy as Woodrow Wilson did. People and peoples will strive to maximize their personal autonomy, and being from a largely irrelevant nation like Croatia (which you are reading for the millionth time from me), it only makes sense to centre this idea. Let us now go back to the beginning!
The Cold War and the 80s Kid
If you were a young kid in the early 1980s, you would sometimes go to sleep at night worried that you would die in a global thermonuclear exchange between the USA and the USSR before morning. Ronald Reagan was leading the Free World and was both confident and belligerent, while the hated Soviets proved a match with their wily leader Yuri Andropov. For a few years, the threat of instant global annihilation seemed to almost match the showdown during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The media, although much less toxic than today, did not help thanks to producing two movies that aired on TV: the 1983 American THE DAY AFTER and the much more frightening UK production THREADS from 1984. Both films depicted the run up and aftermath of a nuclear war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.