Not the august empire of Tchaikovsky and Bolshoi, today’s Russia is just a gulag maintained by lies

Who is to blame for Russia’s latest imperial war – the regime or the people whose detached calm makes it possible?

Russian experts argue that after the chaos of the Yeltsin years, there is a tacit collusion between the people and the regime – what author Tom Friedman calls a “vicious pact” that allows the Kremlin elite to suppress freedom of expression and civil liberties and behave in a malevolent manner power around the world as long as they provide security and a basic standard of living. Putin wrecked that deal by unleashing crippling economic sanctions and is now launching a mass mobilization.

Despite the shame of being isolated as a pariah state and being traced back to Soviet-era deprivation, anti-war protesters are marching by the thousands — but not hundreds of thousands.

The Irish rebelled against the English crown every half century, despite the terrible vengeance inflicted on them. But the Russians, instead of rebelling, are running toward the borders now that war is finally taking its place.

Compare this to the courage young men and women are showing against an equally heinous and repressive regime in Iran.

Where is their empathy and guilt for the level of death and destruction the war has brought upon Ukrainians? The notion that people are the helpless victims of the state media propaganda machine is simply pandering, as YouTube and countless other internet resources are available in Russia. The philosopher Vlad Vexler argues that most Russians have “retired into a fog of denial” and are no longer citizens, just residents.

History teaches us that Russians enjoyed very little freedom, having only been freed from serfdom in the 1860s and from the Soviet system in 1991.

Russia had a revolution in 1917, but the tsarist autocracy was simply replaced by an even more ruthless totalitarian socialist autocracy. Upon its collapse, the latter was replaced by an insidious cadre of former KGB apparatchiks led by Putin.

Actually, this “Russian world” is not the august empire of Tchaikovsky and Bolshoi, but a gulag disguised as a modern, pluralistic society sustained by a servile acceptance of lies, brutality, alcoholism, war and untimely death.

R. Healy, Mullagh, Co. Cavan

Serious questions raised by a possible union

In recent months I have seen much written about the prospect of an Irish unity vote in Northern Ireland. Many are asking how Ulster unionists would fit into such a scenario and what precautions should be taken. As a citizen of Southern Ireland, I do not see the success of a Border survey as the only obstacle.

I assume that the citizens of the Republic of Ireland would also have their say if they wanted to incorporate the North into the Republic by referendum. But I haven’t seen any discussion about it. Why is that? Will there not be a referendum on this issue in the republic? Wouldn’t the Constitution require this for such a momentous change on our island?

I have serious doubts it would work in the Republic. The unification of Ireland would have economic implications and would add a new strand of (evil) social discourse in society and politics that we largely did not have to deal with.

I don’t think I want to deal with the grudges between these two communities and I would need to see less malice on either side before voting in a referendum for Northern Ireland to be part of the Republic.

Tom Crean, Boston, Massachusetts

Forgo the horoscopes? No, forget the news instead

Dennis Fitzgerald in Melbourne recently pointed out that to make more space for cartoons, his local newspaper might instead remove the horoscopes, the celebrity news or maybe even the crossword (“Why take away this last bastion of daily humor?” Letters, Sep 16).

To make the nation happier in these trying times, why not remove the news from the newspapers?

Tom Ball, Co.Longford

Take a closer look at the emissions crisis at home, Dublin

The South Dublin SUV emits more greenhouse gases than many cows, but they say Ireland is ruled by South Dublin for South Dublin.

Colm O’Connor, Dublin 14

Why Terence O’Neill’s union movement failed

Kicking unionism when it’s down is now a popular pastime. Numerous clichés have been put forward regarding his foolish over-reliance on NI’s initially manipulated demographics. This territory was created by the partition of Ulster as an openly orange state with a built-in 2-to-1 Protestant majority, intended to form an enduring unionist hegemony.

The biggest flaw in this strategy was already apparent when the state was founded – the greater fertility of the Catholic-nationalist population.

Ian Paisley summed up this problem succinctly in toxic pre-riot union slang by stating that “Catholics breed like rabbits and breed like vermin”.

Given the itinerary fueled by the higher Catholic birth rate, why then hasn’t the union movement developed some form of positive outreach to the former minority community to convince them of the merits of union? Why rely solely on minority population control through systematic discrimination in the allocation of jobs and housing?

Former Ulster Unionist Prime Minister Terence O’Neill tried to steer the unions towards an alternative course of action by attempting to meet minority demands for a fairer government. He believed that if Catholics were treated fairly and given decent access to housing and jobs, they would live “like Protestants” (so-called Calvinist Catholics) and would not have very large families. O’Neill’s pragmatism could be described as enlightened self-interest. However, he was opposed at every step by Paisley, who effectively sabotaged his proposed reforms.

Why, then, did Paisley’s union movement triumph and O’Neill fail? The answer can be found in the mind of a very conservative Republican US Senator who was asked why he continues to attack immigration to the US from Hispanic countries – despite having a rapidly growing Hispanic population in his own state. He compared his point of view to smoking, which he knew was bad for him, but he just couldn’t quit.

George Workman, Donabate, Co Dublin

We need solid fiscal policies, not free-for-all

British Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget had all the hallmarks of a government and prime minister desperately clinging to power.

With the pound plummeting amid 9.87% inflation and a possible rate hike to 6% by November, some politicians appear to have little understanding of macroeconomics.

With our own €11 billion budget wasted, we must ensure that those most vulnerable to the impact of the fuel and cost of living crisis are protected.

We must not give money to those who need it the least, or reward those who spend it unnecessarily. Tax caution is needed unless we want to see a repeat of the 2008 financial crash.

Sinn Féin and PBP’s attempt to rally support based on their fiscal policies, which have been torn up by others as fiscal ineptitude, makes for good soundbites. Sound policies and prudent management of our economy will cushion the blow of what is to come.

Christy Galligan, Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Doherty certainly knows how to self-promote

The word “certainty” is a favorite of Sinn Féin politicians. We’ve heard them call for it during the pandemic, and we’ve heard it again from them on the budget and rising energy prices.

Pearse Doherty tells us if he were Treasury Secretary he would bring certainty about energy costs. That would be an achievement – if he were able to do that, he would be able to know the outcome of the Ukrainian war. Isn’t it wonderful to have a prophet in our midst?

Tim Maher, Inse Geimhleach, Co Chorcaí Not the august empire of Tchaikovsky and Bolshoi, today’s Russia is just a gulag maintained by lies

Fry Electronics Team

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