17 minutes estimated reading time
Over the weekend, Darya Dugina was blown up in a car bomb under the Toyota Landcruiser, her newsworthiness was down to her being the daughter of Aleksandr Dugin. News stories covering the bomb blast described Aleksandr Dugin as a political commentator close to the Putin regime. But that descriptor doesn’t really tell you that much.
Aleksandr Dugin is a political philosopher, published author and commentator. But most importantly he is the founder of the Eurasian Movement. This movement supports neo-Eurasianism. This means opposing and rolling back the Atlanticism of western nations and having Russia to rebuild its influence through annexations and alliances, underpinned by an ultranationalist and neo-fascist ideological logical world view that considers America and liberal values the scapegoat for every ill.
Dugin’s written work
Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia published in 1997, outlined in how Aleksandr Dugin saw the future of Russia. it would form an alliance with Iran in the middle east. Reassert control over former Soviet republics, dismantling some completely like Ukraine and Georgia.
Dugin on re-engineering the world’s borders
It would look to address what it perceived as a threat from China, encouraging China to look south to its neighbours on the South China Sea rather than north to the former Qing empire lands now full of natural resources. This would allow China to solve the Straits of Malacca problem in its favour. The constraint to its move west would be India inside the Eurasian empire.
Aleksandr Dugin wanted the UK was to be isolated, as he viewed it as an aircraft carrier of the US, (echoes of Orwell’s 1984 in that viewpoint). Europe is to remade an anti-Atlanticist Franco-German bloc, that would affect a ‘Finlandisation of Europe’. Countries like Poland, would become a vassal like state of Russia. Orthodox countries would look towards Russia as the home of their mother church and cultural lodestone. Finland would be absorbed into Russia. Eventually, due to an over-reliance on Russian commodities, Aleksandr Dugin hoped to engineer an economic shock. Germany’s dependancy on Russian gas and oil would ultimately allow Russia to pick up the pieces in Europe and create an empire stretching from Dublin to Vladivostok
Aleksandr Dugin maybe at a distance from the Putin administration, but his political ideas have influenced Vladimir Putin, Russian foreign policy and military thinking.
Uneasy Euroasian detente
One can only see Russia’s relationship with China as reminiscent of the von Ribbentrop – Stalin detente of the interwar years, based purely on timing and mutual convenience.
Aleksandr Dugin’s ideas are challenged by demographics. In the Middle East, Iran and Shai Muslim community are outnumbered by their Sunni counterparts. Russia’s own population growth is in terminal decline and not a match for China should it decide to go north. Which probably explains why Dugin tries to shoehorn India into part of the Eurasian empire.
The current war in Ukraine is as much a product of Aleksandr Dugin as it is of Vladimir Putin. President Putin is merely implementing Dugin’s vision slavishly. It is also interesting that the attempt on the life of Aleksandr Dugin seems to have given new ideological impetus to the invasion of Ukraine in Russia.
Is Dugin’s Eurasian ideological purity a threat to the Putin administration?
Marx and Lenin were dead by the time that Mao came along, so the Chinese communist party was never threatened by the legitimacy of their thought leaders with a higher authority ideologically pure voice. If they were alive today, it would be impossible for Xi Jingping to accuse Marx or Lenin of being guilty of hstorical nihilism. But Aleksandr Dugin exists outside of the Putin administration, he could be a natural rallying point of Putin’s support basis as the philosophical centre. He could be even considered a rival leader to Putin, drawing support from believers across the military intelligence and political classes. Making Aleksandr Dugin into a martyr just at the point when Russia has been suffering setbacks has some obvious benefits for the Putin administration and arguably less benefits for the Ukrainian government.
The reinvention of Goldman Sachs: what has David Solomon achieved? | Financial Times – surprisingly little when it comes to the bottom line and ceding investment banking performance to Morgan Stanley
From Drugs to Corruption: The Growing Presence of Chinese Organized Crime in Latin America – In 2021, China’s policy banks — the China Development Bank (CDB) and Export-Import Bank (Exim) — made no loans to Latin America for the second consecutive year. Beijing is now essentially focused on financing Chinese companies to operate in the region. This shift in strategy and the resulting proliferation of Chinese companies in Latin America will increase the circulation of people and money that are no longer under the direct control of local governments. Based on current trends, Chinese criminal organizations will likely thrive in this new economic environment. Extortion, money laundering through front firms, and smuggling are already increasing, posing a severe threat to the population’s safety in the region. Worthwhile reading in conjunction with: Will Kenya’s next president follow through on China contract promises? | South China Morning Post – William Ruto campaigned on threats to deport illegal workers and make big contracts with Chinese companies public. But politics and the reality of government are two different things, observers say
Interesting dive into what’s causing the ‘great resignation’ and what it will mean for productivity
Guy Ritchie talks about Snatch – as a film, its interesting, but I won’t bother buying my own copy of Blu-Ray. A few things of note:
- The direct influence of Sam Peckinpah’s western films on Snatch was not a connection that I saw coming at all
- Ritchie talks about directing a Jason Statham film remotely via iPad, rather than being on set. I presume that this was done during COVID but still very interesting
- His use of amateurs as actors because they were the right kind of characters
- The folkloric nature of pub stories. The bit that chimed with me is how I knew of similar characters growing up at a similar time to Ritchie and some of them I knew personally. As I moved in more middle class circles my exposure to that world declined
Big Car have a great documentary on the development of the Renault Scénic including an interview with Renault’s head of design at the time Patrick le Quément.
Why Mexico is missing its chance to profit from US-China decoupling | Financial Times – While foreign companies have borne the brunt of López Obrador’s attacks, the handful of big Mexican businesses that control large parts of the economy have been less affected. When the president wanted to tackle inflation, his government invited Mexican business leaders for private conversations to agree an informal pact limiting price rises on basic groceries. “It wasn’t a big sacrifice,” noted the owner of one large Mexican group. Mexico’s oligarchs have reinforced the impression of a cosy relationship with the president by making supportive statements in public and confining any criticism to conversations behind closed doors. “All the Mexican business leaders complain about Amlo,” says the chief executive of one big foreign company. “But when they meet him, they all appear afterwards in public saying how wonderful he is . . It’s a circle of collusion.”
The Squeeze on Russia Is Loosening – by Matthew C. Klein – which begs the question, how is this possible?
Interesting discussion with Dr Joseph Needham on the boundaries of science and the role of religion.
I hadn’t realised that 8-track cartridges were used as a karaoke medium in Japan. I thought that they had gone from vinyl to cassette and then on to laser disc. Vinyl based karaoke is what gave use the Technics SL-1200 series of turntables, which is why the speed control on the right hand side of the deck was called a ‘pitch fader’.
The reason why these karaoke featured have a common design with the US 8-track cartridge players is likely down to the relatively high tooling costs to create the plastic mouldings. You can see the ’round polished marks in the recessed section where the inputs and outputs are that show a tools has been amended and quickly cleaned up.
Interesting development in diabetes patients in the US. This could break players like Novo Nordisk.
Samuel Bickett had some really good insight into why Joshua Wong and several other people pled guilty to charges under the national security law : The Hong Kong 47 Committed No Crime…So Why Are So Many of Them Pleading Guilty? – Bickett points out that their actions were legal under the Basic Law article 52, but the National Security Law seems to supersede and reinterpret the basic law to anything the authorities want it to be.
The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region must resign under any of the following circumstances: When he or she loses the ability to discharge his or her duties as a result of serious illness or other reasons; When, after the Legislative Council is dissolved because he or she twice refuses to sign a bill passed by it, the new Legislative Council again passes by a two-thirds majority of all the members the original bill in dispute, but he or she still refuses to sign it; and When, after the Legislative Council is dissolved because it refuses to pass a budget or any other important bill, the new Legislative Council still refuses to pass the original bill in dispute.Chapter 4, section 1, article 52, Hong Kong Basic Law (via the Hong Kong Government Basic Law website)
This now becomes subversion.
At the moment, this will be of most interest to more political types. Now if you apply that interpretation to short sellers like Muddy Waters Research, punchy buy-side equity analysts or a brief that an advertising planner like me might write where a client is competing against a connected Hong Kong or Chinese company – then legal, reputable and ethical commercial activities can result in national security charges at the whim of the Hong Kong government. This is something that many multinational companies seem to be sleep walking into. Work for a multinational like a VPN provider? That looks like colluding with a foreign power, subversion or even terrorism under the National Security Law.
The use of the term “national security” is particularly objectionable because the concept has frequently been used in China to criminalise the peaceful exercise of the rights of expression and to persecute those with legitimate demands like democracy and human rights. Its inclusion raises fears of extension of such Mainland Chinese practices to Hong Kong especially in the light of Article 23 of the Basic Law.1997–98 Memorandum submitted by the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, Appendix 5, paragraph 136
Then there is the way that the judiciary in Hong Kong has been shaped by the National Security Law. No defendant has won any points with regards the law and judicial decisions have allowed the law to be used in a retrospective manner in concert with older colonial era laws.
Secondly, Bickett provides great insight into how the process of being shipped back and forth to court and even the hearings themselves are designed to grind the defendants down mentally and physically. Which explains: Benny Tai and Joshua Wong among 29 Hong Kong democrats set to plead guilty in high-profile subversion case – Hong Kong Free Press HKFP – at the time that I read it, I noted an interesting correlation between those that managed to get bail and pleading not guilty, versus those denied bail and pleading guilty.
‘Now Hong Kong people are to run Hong Kong…’
Ordeal of Hong Kong hostages in jobs scam a warning not to be ignored | South China Morning Post – With several Hongkongers still unaccounted for after being trafficked to Southeast Asian countries, security officials have set up a special task force to investigate
The War Economy: Is America falling behind China in science? – Noah Smith on how Chinese military civil fusion is affecting the relative balance between the US and communist China
Welfare Queens | No Mercy / No Malice – Galloway on the benefits of US government research funding
Exclusive: Shanghai software firm is behind Hong Kong’s failed bid for UK’s Pulsic, as geopolitics spurs rivalry for semiconductor supremacy | South China Morning Post – Pulsic is the developer of some innovative electronic design automation software. Worthwhile reading with: China strongly opposes U.S. chips bill: commerce ministry-Xinhua – guess that means the US is doing the right thing
Foreign Agent – The IRA’s American connection | Novara Media – interesting documentary on NORAID
A film produced by a German film crew in 1966 to try and bring to life Japanese life for a European audience. I am sure that some of the manufacturing scenes are b-roll footage, but it is fascinating nonetheless. There is a style to the car and light truck designs which is a lovely aesthetic.
Vintage Studio 1 tracks mixed by Japanese sound system veterans Mighty Crown
Tesla quickly losing grounds in Korea with zero sale in July – 매일경제 영문뉴스 펄스(Pulse) – how much of this is down to production related shortages versus domestic competition is anyone’s guess at the moment
Why are rich Chinese consumers selling their Rolexes? Passing on your luxury watch or Hermès Birkin bag might get you cash quick in China’s struggling economy – but prices are dropping | South China Morning Post – “The boom time is over,” says James Wang, a seller of second-hand luxury watches in the eastern city of Nanjing. “We are entering a correction period that could last for a long time.” “Patek Philippe says you never actually own its watch but merely look after it for the next generation,” he continues. “That’s not the case in a business crisis. It’s probably the weakest I’ve seen in my 25 years in China.” – A few things going on here.
1/ Chinese consumers overstretched themselves on luxury goods
2/ China is going through straitened financial times, 6 percent GDP growth feels like zero growth in developed markets. I have heard growth being described as being closer to 3 percent. Government control and intervention means that you won’t see the kind of collapse you saw in the west during 2008 and 2009 and internal security would stomp all over any ‘Occupy Wall Street’ analogue. Security forces are already suppressing depositors who have lost their savings in regional banks. There are also a lot of investors in property businesses: China Evergrande Shares Are Worthless, Top Fund Manager Says
3/ Change in political tone. ‘Common prosperity’ means less money at the top and in the upper middle classes, which then means less luxury consumption. And finally you are coming down from a huge global high: Swiss Watch Exports Hit a Eight-Year High as Demand Continues – Robb Report
Lignin may lead to greener, stronger carbon fiber – Futurity – not particularly surprising given that brown coal is called lignite
What “algorithm details” Beijing asked for from Chinese tech giants and China will NOT break up tech platforms: PKU task force | Pekingnology – they’ll just co-opt them instead
Russia Holding Its Arms Expo With Weapons That May Be A ‘Hard Sell’ Now. | SOFREP – it is interesting that the Russians took steps to make sure the captured American gear on display was spotlessly clean, right down to the tyre paint. Who is to say that some of the gear came in by being bought or traded with the Taliban rather than from the Ukraine battlefield? I wouldn’t be surprised if Russia did a ‘homage’ to the M777. Russia has a wealth of experience in titanium fabrication from submarine hulls to aircraft, so the M777 carriage shouldn’t be that hard. The challenge would be the digital tools used to facilitate a higher degree of accuracy.
Web of no web
Animoca Brands launches new season for The Sandbox amid plunging metaverse real estate prices | South China Morning Post – The Hong Kong-based blockchain video gaming platform is launching its biggest season yet on August 24, offering 98 ‘experiences’ over 10 weeks. The Sandbox is betting on an extended season to attract players as its Ethereum-based virtual land sales have fallen to a quarter of their value nine months ago
ViewSonic lays out plans for education metaverse – ViewSonic, which marks its 35th year of establishment in 2022, has been actively promoting digital transformation in recent years, shifting from a hardware company to a solutions company. Looking towards the future, company chairman James Chu has laid out the key development strategy of “ecosystem as a service,” announcing the Universe education metaverse software. Chu pointed out that ViewSonic has transformed in response to the rapidly changing environment. The company will focus on assisting the digital transformation of the education market. In the third quarter of 2021, ViewSonic’s electronic whiteboard was already no.1 in global market share, Chu said. Its Universe education metaverse software aims to level up the traditional 2D digital education into a 3D interactive virtual education platform. The goal is to solve the lack of interactivity and participation and make online education feel as if it is in-person. The proposed “ecosystem as a service” is about the integration of hardware, software and service, it said. Regarding software and hardware, ViewSonic will integrate its ViewBoard, a smart interactive electronic whiteboard, with myViewBoard, a digital teaching platform, to provide a complete education technology solution.
Nokia radio technology to enable AST SpaceMobile’s direct-to-cell phone connectivity from space | AST & Science and MediaTek powers mobile phone connection with 5G non-terrestrial network – Telecompaper