"Justice in these circumstances turns into a process of grinding human flesh, making mincemeat for prisons and camps. It is a process in which people can neither effectively defend themselves, or even realize what is happening to them. One can only think about when it will end."
I know this is going to upset some people, including some that I like and respect. But it needs to be said.
There is quite a bit of romantic talk going around these days about what it is like living and doing business in Russia and China.
Although I have not personally been in Russia since the 1990's I do keep in touch with people I have known there. Less so for mainland China I regret.
Even in the 90's, during the breakdown and collapse of the ruble, and the wild west rise of the oligarchs and Mafia, if you were a pampered guest of the power brokers things could look pretty good, at least on the surface.
This is an old, old story. Life is always good at the top, and people see what they wish to see. If you do not believe this, read the accounts of visiting journalists at the Berlin Olympics of 1936.
Oligarchies are by their very nature corrupt. And the brutality and indifference to human rights that marks a government by dictatorship, of the supremacy of state power whether it is of the left or of the right, does not change all that much when it takes on the more finely tailored veneer of oligarchic capitalism. They just become more concerned about image.
Whatever one wishes to call it, crony capitalism, or to a greater degree state fascism, is still a system of the few exploiting the many, and enforcing their will with increasingly brutal repression as needed, just using different language and methods from time to time, and place to place.
People who believe in sustained, benevolent dictatorships are wonderfully self-deluded. Or just rooting for 'the home team.'
Oh yes, I know, this story of what happened to Sergei Magnitsky was just the act of a few rogue policemen, and government and court officials. Unfortunate, but nothing to see here, move along.
Fascism is corporatism, state sanctioned crony capitalism if you will, plus murder.
Even early on, as he was being lionized by his fawning corporate supporters in the West, Mussolini was little more than a brutal, narcissistic gangster and violent thug.
I am not saying that from a purely practical standpoint one cannot do business with or invest in any type of government, not at all. And some of the former dictatorships, or more properly captive states whom the West abandoned, of Eastern Europe that are now free are wonderful places to visit and do business. Even during their transition phase, which could be a little dicey, the difference was marked. Although again, it is not the same as home, and one must make allowances.
One can do business almost anywhere. Even a relatively small player such as myself has done it, I have had business dealings in well over fifty countries in my own modest corporate career. And because of the nature of what I did, providing communications to news agencies, multinational corporations, and a variety of official entities, not every place was cordial or safe.
But have no illusions. Not everyplace is the same, and not every corruption rises to the same degree. I liked China, and I love Russia and its wonderfully poetic people. But I do not love their form of government, even now, when things, compared to the Stalin years, are like a summer vacation.
As for the West, with corruption as bad as it is, if you think this is really bad, then you ain't seen nothing yet. And I hope you don't, but the trend concerns me. This Hermitage Fund fraud sounds like the bank bailouts. But that is not the worst. I have seen what it can be like, especially during a time of intense financial and monetary turmoil.
"On the night of 16 November 2009, Sergei’s condition became critical. Only then did they move him to a prison with an emergency room. However, when he arrived, he wasn’t treated, but was put into an isolation cell and chained to a bed.
Eight riot guards with rubber batons then entered the cell and beat him until he was dead. He was 37 years old."
Bill Browder, Turning the Tables on Russia's Elite: The Story Behind 'The Magnitsky Act'
The Magnitsky Act is currently being considered by the US House of Representatives. Here is a recent story on it by The Washington Post: The Kremlin's Blacklist.
And in addition to passing laws and pointing out the faults in another, and deservedly so, I hope the Justice League of America can take a lesson from it. Because that brutal carelessness towards the weak, and the individual, the progressive reformer, and the unfortunate other is exactly where they are heading in their untempered extremism and unbridled greed.
Violent, careless talk desensitizes a people, and too often presages violent careless actions.