You pay little attention to the systems of your body — circulatory, digestive, pulmonary — unless something goes wrong. These automatic systems ordinarily go about their business, like unseen clockwork, while you think about a vexing problem at work, drink your morning cup of coffee, walk up and down stairs, and head out to your… Continue reading The Black Death Undermined Feudalism. What Does COVID-19 Mean for Capitalism?
One of the greatest moments of U.S. diplomacy in the 20th century was Nixon’s opening to China. It was a surprise, a breathtaking opportunity, and a true game-changer. It was also one of the strangest political matches of all time. A president who had established his political bona fides as an anti-Communist crusader shocked everyone… Continue reading Iran Deal: Is Obama Channeling Nixon?
Reunification, for Koreans, has a mythic quality, like the Promised Land or the Holy Grail. Most Koreans dream of reunification, of a time in the future when the North and the South will join together to recreate the Korean whole that existed before division and Japanese colonialism. It’s a lovely idea, but no one has… Continue reading Reunification: The View from the North
Imagine an alternative universe in which the two major Cold War superpowers evolved into the United Soviet Socialist States. The conjoined entity, linked perhaps by a new Bering Straits land bridge, combines the optimal features of capitalism and collectivism. From Siberia to Sioux City, we’d all be living in one giant Sweden. It sounds like… Continue reading Why the World Is Becoming the Un-Sweden
When revolutions happen bloodlessly, it’s usually because some part of the elite has found its place in the new order. They don’t just open up the gates of the city to let in the Trojan Horse. They become founding members of the Trojan Horse party. They set up kiosks that sell Trojan Horse trinkets. They… Continue reading What Happened to the Red Capitalists?
You’ve seen those nighttime satellite pictures of the Korean peninsula. The northern half is dark, while the southern half is a thousand points of light. You might think: hat’s off to those thrifty North Koreans who are helping save the planet by conserving electricity! But of course, that’s not the message you’re supposed to take… Continue reading The Tao of North Korea
It has been commonplace to use the term “transition” when referring to what took place in East-Central Europe in the years immediately following 1989. The term initially had a refreshing vagueness to it. So much was up in the air. So much was changing. The fixed certainties of the past had melted away. At the… Continue reading This Is Not a Transition
All the countries of East-Central Europe have experienced collective mood swings since 1989. Political parties have rotated in and out of power. The economic fortunes have oscillated considerably. And the level of social enthusiasm – on a spectrum from malaise to engagement – has also fluctuated a great deal. Slovakia has been perhaps the most… Continue reading Slovakia’s Pendulum Swing
It was famously described as the “end of history.” The collapse of Communism and the victory of liberalism near the end of the 20th century seemed to suggest that the great ideological conflicts of the previous eras had come to an end. A new and powerful consensus formed around the notion that market capitalism was… Continue reading The Disease of Short-Termism
In the Greek myth, Tiresias one day came upon two snakes in amorous embrace. He struck the female snake with his staff. The goddess Hera was so furious at this act that she transformed Tiresias from male to female. For seven years, Tiresias lived as a woman, even giving birth to a child. Once again… Continue reading Both Sides Now