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Saturday, June 29, 2013

French Cloud

For some time the world has waited for the other European shoe to drop. Yet despite tremendous pain and unrest, Greece, Spain and Italy have, as the Europeans love to say, “muddled through.” But this is merely just the end of the beginning, most likely. And the other big shoe, everyone knows, is France.

The popular uprisings around the world taking place in the past couple of months have different origins, different aims, different means of expression. But the one thing they have in common is their frustration from disappointment, and their exhaustion with hypocrisy, and with “muddling through.” There have already been signs of this in France, and in other parts of Northern Europe. Nobody should be surprised to see more.

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Friday, June 28, 2013

Mandela

The length and drama of Nelson Mandela’s death watch is no surprise. For he is the last real leader most of us know. His death will seal, once and for all, the end of the twentieth century. Today’s leaders are, as the popular term puts it, “transactional.” There are none who stand for something greater than themselves; there are none who feel greatness. Mandela is the last who lived through the great ideological battles of the last century; he is the last who prevailed over them.

Today’s leaders and societies resemble Talleyrand’s own favourite: the eighteenth. Fragmented, hierarchical, fickle, violent as well as conservative. The age of the masses is gone. The age of the courtier has returned.

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