The miniscule Scandinavian nation is a world leader in multiple best-nation categories. But is it a role model for technoprogressives?
The fevered goals of the Enlightenment are still hot today in the cold, flat, windy peninsula and archipelago of 400 islands that contains fewer inhabitants than Maryland. Once the base camp of ravaging Vikings, Denmark is now the world leader in multiple harmonious categories.
EXTRACT: To summarize … here’s a rundown on the Danish dynamo:
#1 Happiness .. #1 Most Democratic .. #1 Most Egalitarian .. #1 Least Corrupt .. #1 Press Freedom .. #1 Engineering .. #1 Best Country for Business .. #1 Best Country for Entrepreneurs .. #1 Clean Technology / Sustainable Development .. #3 Fewest Prisoners Per Capita .. #3 Most Charitable .. #5 Per Capita Income .. #7 Women’s Equality .. #7 Peace
Below the Line: the meat vis a vis the USA contrast. Reliable authorities from Denmark have informed us that this is half-fairy tale and half-real, but certainly a model to aspire to for all.
Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me? I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the world’s food and clothes. I am the audience that witnesses history. The Napoleons come from me and the Lincolns. They die. And then I send forth more Napoleons and Lincolns.
I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand for much plowing. Terrible storms pass over me. I forget. The best of me is sucked out and wasted. I forget. Everything but Death comes to me and makes me work and give up what I have. And I forget.
Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red drops for history to remember. Then–I forget.
When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the People, use the lessons of yesterday and no longer forget who robbed me last year, who played me for a fool–then there will be no speaker in all the world say the name: “The People,” with any fleck of a sneer in his voice or any far-off smile of derision.
EXTRACT: A lot has happened over the past 30 years, but if you’re looking for a single political sea change that’s had the biggest impact on middle class wages—more important than union decline, more important than NAFTA, more important than the end of Glass-Steagall—it’s the political consensus that underlies the Fed’s reluctance to allow labor markets to stay tight enough to generate wage increases in the real economy. And it’s something we’re seeing all over again right now, as the DC chattering classes have almost unanimously decided that inflation is our real enemy right now, even though core inflation is running around 1% and unemployment is still near 9%.
This is a policy beloved of the business community, which prefers loose labor markets that keep wages low and executive compensation high, but it hasn’t always been the Fed’s policy and it’s not written in stone that it has to be now. Tight labor markets and rising middle-class wages are, to a large extent, a choice we make. Politics took them away 30 years ago, and politics can return them to us if we want.
AMERICA: Y UR PEEPS B SO DUM? Ignorance and courage in the age of Lady Gaga By Joe Bageant Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico
If you hang out much with thinking people, conversation eventually turns to the serious political and cultural questions of our times. Such as: How can the Americans remain so consistently brain-fucked? Much of the world, including plenty of Americans, asks that question as they watch U.S. culture go down like a thrashing mastodon giving itself up to some Pleistocene tar pit.
One explanation might be the effect of 40 years of deep fried industrial chicken pulp, and 44 ounce Big Gulp soft drinks. Another might be pop culture, which is not culture at all of course, but marketing. Or we could blame it on digital autism: Ever watch commuter monkeys on the subway poking at digital devices, stroking the touch screen for hours on end? Those wrinkled Neolithic brows above the squinting red eyes?
But a more reasonable explanation is that, (A) we don’t even know we are doing it, and (B) we cling to institutions dedicated to making sure we never find out.
Safety Copy below the line. Original Counterpunch article still online dated December 10-12, 2010. This is circulating today as an email among the conscious counter-elite.
EXTRACT: The executive order makes the customary reference to the new appointee’s worthy credentials as “an experienced diplomat and Orientalist”. And then, out of the blue, it adds that Kabulov “repeatedly held talks on the release of Russian pilots with the leadership of the Taliban in Kandahar, including [Taliban leader] Mohammed Omar”. There was no real need to have said that. It almost seems jarring to single out one mission in a distinguished diplomat’s checkered career. But it said all that needed to be said.
By the language of the sport of cricket, one would shout from the crease in the heat of the moment: “Howzaat!” Is there an umpire nearby who could annotate the trajectory of Russian thinking? Not much ingenuity is needed to comprehend that Moscow is opening a line to the Taliban leadership and sending into the Hindu Kush someone who can meaningfully converse with the Quetta shura (council). Pakistanis know Kabulov, Iranians know him and Mullah Omar knows him. Afghan President Hamid Karzai knows him, too.
EXTRACT: Kabulov’s mind is an open book – as far as a diplomat’s mind can be. While serving in Kabul, he was an easily accessible ambassador and even American military commanders used to drop by to pick his brains. Kabulov’s main complaint, though, was that the Americans were good listeners, but not good learners.
He kept harping on that the United States was repeating the same mistakes that the Soviet Union made in Afghanistan during its occupation in the 1980s, and to complicate matters, American policies have been innovating on Soviet mistakes by inventing original mistakes of their own for which as he once told John Burns of the New York Times, “We [Russia] do not own the copyright.”
Troubling End Note: Asia Times Online on 24 March published an article by Syed Saleem Shahzad, who is an insightful commentator on South Asian affairs, as well as the publication’s Pakistan Bureau Chief. He has studied al Qaida a long time. He wrote that US intelligence has actionable information that Osama bin Laden has been “criss-crossing” the Pakistan – Afghanistan border region in northwestern Pakistan during the past few weeks.
Shahzad wrote that US officials are “stunned” by bin Laden’s visibility and the frequency of his movements. Bin Laden’s purposes are not known. Terrorist analysts reportedly think the new level of activity means bin Laden is planning another large attack, though the 9/11 planning was actually not done by bin Laden. The South Asia analysts think he is meeting with friendly Afghan warlords to bring the Afghan War to a favorable conclusion for the Taliban.
What is disturbing is how little mainstream media attention this article has received. Readers are encouraged to read it.