October 18, 2009

More developments regarding Iran

Posted in Middle East, Politics tagged , , , , at 23:53 by Matthijs Krul

Things in and around the Islamic Republic of Iran have changed significantly since the last article on this topic. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been inaugurated for his second term as President of the state, despite the widespread prior protests alleging voter fraud. It is clear now that the rebellion following the elections of this summer has been defeated, and that power has been restored by the ruling clique of the country, although that clique has been much divided and destabilized as a result of the events. In the meantime, the main topic is the Iranian nuclear programme, which has caught the gaze of the international community. Read the rest of this entry »

October 9, 2009

Obama’s Nobel Prize

Posted in Politics, United States, War tagged , at 17:51 by Matthijs Krul

The astounding news has reached the baffled ears and eyes of the world today that the Storting, Norway’s national Parliament, has incongruously decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the American President Barack Obama. The official statement appears to imply it is essentially an award of encouragement, which is itself also strange – so far, Nobel Peace Prizes had almost always been given either for lifetime achievement or for a specific occasion, such as a peace treaty. Recently, the Storting committee had expanded its range somewhat by including activism for environmental issues as well as for providing credit to the Third World ‘deserving poor’, but this seems another territory altogether. Read the rest of this entry »

October 7, 2009

An Outline of the Economic Problems in the History of the Soviet Union

Posted in Communism, Economics, History tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 02:44 by Matthijs Krul

The eventual downfall of the USSR has often been seen as a self-evident example of the failure of central planning, both as a principle and especially in practice. The critics of the USSR also point to the low standard of living of the population during its existence, the prevalence of famines, the low availability and shoddy quality of consumer goods, and its continued lagging behind the United States in production as more proofs of the failure of ‘socialist construction’. Although these criticisms are not entirely without merit, they need to be contextualized and qualified strongly to be properly understood. It is therefore important to provide a rough outline of the economic history of the collapse of the USSR and its meaning. Because the focus of this article is on the economic problematic, more detail than is usual will be presented about these issues, whereas some political, cultural and social developments of importance will be largely avoided. Read the rest of this entry »

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