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Winston Churchill held to the view that America makes the right decisions, but only after having tried everything else first. Senator J. William Fulbright believed that Americans have repeated many mistakes made in the past, just because they neglect the fact that the same thing could happen to them. Also he was convinced that the problems of America in Vietnam were not associated with a lack of power, but with its abundance.


 Nicco Caldararo (University of San Francisco) believes that today America suffers from the same delusion. Instead of being strong, its behavior can be characterized by impotent military misadventures and internal paralysis. In his opinion, there is an entirely different concept of "American exceptionalism," which could be called a paralysis of power.

Mittelstadt is a small town, barely visible on the map of Germany. However, the word is well known to economists around the world, and in Bonn there is a research institute which deals exclusively with Mittelstadt issues.

In fact Mittelstadt is a collective image of unknown terrain. This is the territory inhabited by small and medium sized businesses in Germany. Here you can easily find a company that employs only 30 people in a space not much larger than an auto repair shop, and yet be of a recognized international brand.

No nanotechnology or sophisticated information technology other than the Internet to communicate with customers in different parts of the world. Mittelstadt belongs 99% to the classic industrial era, and today it provides 60% of employment in Germany. Economists in Europe and the United States believe that Mittelstadt not only provides leadership for the German economy, but also saved the entire European financial system from collapse.

It was said many times in the course of the election campaign in the U.S. that foreign policy, and in particular Russian-American relations, was not a priority. Is this true? In such a tense struggle even nuances and shades of political interpretation could be the deciding factor. As for today's America, living in a globalized world, its foreign policy is highly inseparable from the state of the global economy, and this is not a minor detail.

Suffice to say, that for Obama, the economic and financial crisis in Europe which threatens to turn into a political crisis, served as a backdrop for his own benefit in his modest and largely intermediate success in overcoming the crisis. With regard to Russia, the heat of debate has spotlighted entirely new positions, denoting a milestone that many were quick to call more declaration rather than a bid to take specific concrete action.

Ten years ago Ekaterina Sizova came to the Egyptian town of Dahab, to do her favorite thing professionally - windsurfing. Little by little a Russian "diaspora" of surfers gathered around. Also tourists. She had the idea to open a surfing school for teaching beginners and rent out equipment to those who already know how to surf. At this time, Katia had already met an Egyptian man, Mohammed, who seemed quite nice to her and well behaved in a European way.

Today she remembers that even then Mohammed had already misled her, telling her that under Egyptian law only an Egyptian citizen could own property. Of course, this citizen was Mr. Mohammed and he became owner of the surfing school.

The ado about Pussy Riot seems to be subsiding now that the story has led to a court verdict. Speaking in Finland, Russian diplomacy chief S. Lavrov warned the media against hysteria over the case and urged respect for the legitimate judicial decision, while in Russia the Orthodox Church called for clemency towards the offenders. The call was appropriately timed as the besieged church hierarchy refrained from influencing the situation ahead of the ruling. Believers across the country do worry that the soft sentence might leave churches vulnerable to another round of vandalism.

The controversy prompted by the hearings and the resulting sentence should not obscure the key fact – the Russian society had to face a serious maturity test, and since, in the words of D.P. Moynihan, “it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society”, the scope of the gauge was broader than politics. As of late, the trendy vocabulary centered around the concept of post-modern incorporated the term ”punk prayer”, a bizarre verbal compound which popped up amidst the current Russian debates. From a wider perspective, the phenomenon encountered is best described as post-culture. That should not be mixed with anti-culture, which is the reaction of the type "When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my gun" known to have surfaced in the nominally civilized world. The post-culture is the rebellion of a black hole, a revolt put up by sheer nothingness. There is a long way to go from shooting at icons or demolishing churches as “vestiges of the past” in the name of skewed ideals to installing one's inner hideousness in the middle of a shrine. The division of atheist labor in the communist epoch implied that commoners do the job of primitive destruction, while it was the mission of the Bolshevist intellectuals to invent rites intended to replace baptism, to compose coarse anti-religious rhymes, or to stage carnivals with characters dressed as priests, monks, and other “unenlightened” Christians. The policy thus combined distastefulness with a fairly systemic approach, the assumption being that crude propaganda appealed most to the populace.

"Revolution is a theater where people start to play new roles,” so wrote E. Radzinsky in his book "Stalin". I think people who survived the revolution, would never have said that. The word "survivor" I use in a literal and figurative sense – those who historically survived the revolution, went through it yesterday and today as in an ongoing tragedy.

As V. Lenin used to say, "any comparison is lame," but some of them are lame in both legs.  Let’s dwell only on one thing, rather as a matter of principle. In answering the question as to why the old Bolsheviks having passed through a difficult phase of life, so quickly broke up during the processes of the 1930s, with their wild, improbable accusations, Edvard Radzinsky in his book " Stalin " makes the following conclusion: "... in two of decades power, honor, money, and women completely transformed yesterday's revolutionary idealists. They "seriously disintegrated." During the reign of the Tsar to go to prison, or be exiled seemed like an act of bravery, and then one of horror.

They say, that for the last five years, employers have insisted on such measures. This is a sign of their high regard for the future fate of domestic industry. In fact, a good turner and miller are hard to find these days. But there is always somebody naive, who asks, but where did they all go, my dear?

Is this not why the alarm bell was sounded last year for the vocational school, and then the campaign from the modern "mass" employers who no longer need so many skilled workers was slowly rolled up.

The anniversary of the "Bolotnaya Square events" will not pass unnoticed. That is, it would have passed down the road to oblivion, if not accounting for the private memories of the white ribbons and other accessories unusual for Muscovites. Yes, even worse, the events of December 2011, which declared themselves almost a national triumph in the birth of a civil society, were not taken to heart by Russians.

But it is not for nothing that we are accustomed to making an account for the year, and the closer we get to the anniversary, find sorrow in the unfulfilled dreams. "Why are the people silent? So much the worse for them," became the common sarcasm from our intelligentsia. For others, it is just boring to live without major planetary events, not least the ones that amuse and tease the people in the street.

The interactions between religion and society constantly pop up in media headlines worldwide, with Russia fully exemplifying the trend. Not long ago Foreign Affairs, a magazine with a solid reputation for political punditry, pinpointed a paradigmatic shift in the US when it wrote that “...whereas the past saw partisans of different religions (often with an ethnic tinge) face off in the political arena, today partisan divisions are not defined by denomination; rather, they pit religiously devout conservatives against secular progressives”. Moreover, the authors of the quoted piece argued that “to a degree not seen since at least the 1850s (and perhaps not even then), religious mobilization is now tied directly to party politics”.

It could resonate with certain audiences that B. Obama defended his tax and healthcare reforms with a reference to Christ's teachings. Nevertheless, shortly thereafter the US President went public with his backing of gay marriage, drawing fiery criticism from his Republican opponents many of whom felt that the position on the polarizing issue and the essentials of Christianity were impossible to reconcile.

Looking at the recent past, one could not help but wonder what was at the root of the breakdown in the early 1990s when the principle of personnel policy still remained quite rational in many areas. When, undoubtedly in the engagement of new nominees from outside of the political sphere, professionalism was still valued. The "Chicago Boys," whispered in the ears of power of the phantasmagoria of monetarism, but could not so soon pierce the thick skin of the national sense in such a large country. "He knows his stuff, he is one of the pros," still served as a criterion. If you do not select someone new, then at least maintain the old cadres. What was needed was to negotiate the mechanisms of the crisis, which discredited a layer of experienced workers who themselves were allegedly not able to adapt to the "shock therapy."