Why neo-fascists are making a shocking surge in Poland

Like every country in Europe — as well as the United States — Poland has long had a far-right, neo-fascist fringe. It also had a tiny eco-warrior fringe, an Esperanto-speaking fringe and quite a few other grouplets. But during the two and a half decades that followed the end of communism in Poland, Polish neo-fascists were never numerous enough to be taken seriously. Even when they began, a few years ago, to march on Nov. 11, Poland’s Independence Day — a day when official ceremonies already include national flags, patriotic songs and even people dressed in World War I uniforms — no one thought much about a few hundred soccer hooligans on the sidelines. Continue reading “Why neo-fascists are making a shocking surge in Poland”

100 years later, Bolshevism is back. And we should be worried.

At the beginning of 1917, on the eve of the Russian revolution, most of the men who would become known to the world as the Bolsheviks had very little to show for their lives. They had been in and out of prison, constantly under police surveillance, rarely employed. Vladimir Lenin spent most of the decade preceding the revolution drifting between Krakow, Zurich and London. Joseph Stalin spent those years in the Caucasus, running protection rackets and robbing banks. Leon Trotsky had escaped from Siberian exile was to be found in Viennese coffee shops; when the revolution broke out, he was showing off his glittering brilliance at socialist meeting halls in New York. Continue reading “100 years later, Bolshevism is back. And we should be worried.”

Did Russia teach Paul Manafort all its dirty tricks?

Years from now, historians may study the documents indicting Paul Manafort to understand just how the Russification of American public life was accomplished. Manafort is alleged to have laundered money, to have cheated on taxes and to have lied about his clientele. All of this he did in order to “enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States,” according to the indictment. Among other things it is alleged that he spent $1,319,281 of his money, illegally hidden from the U.S. Treasury, to pay a home lighting and entertainment company in Florida; to purchase $934,350 worth of rugs at a shop in Virginia; and to drop $655,500 on a landscaper in the Hamptons. Continue reading “Did Russia teach Paul Manafort all its dirty tricks?”

Russia is furious. That means the sanctions are working.

In yet another display of spitting fury, the Russian state this week put Bill Browder on the Interpol list, an international register of “most wanted” criminals. This was the fifth time Russia had issued an international arrest warrant for Browder, a businessman who once worked in the country. Wearily, Interpol lifted the warrant on Thursday. But the gesture once again confirmed something few have yet acknowledged: The sanctions on Russia are working. Continue reading “Russia is furious. That means the sanctions are working.”

Why does Putin want to control Ukraine? Ask Stalin.

In February 2014, men dressed in camouflage, driving armored trucks and carrying military-issue weapons emerged from the Russian military base in Sevastopol and began streaming across the Ukrainian province of Crimea. Within hours, they had occupied town halls and television stations. Within days, they had co-opted local thugs and criminals to create a provisional government. They held a tightly controlled referendum and announced that residents of the region wanted it to belong to Russia. Continue reading “Why does Putin want to control Ukraine? Ask Stalin.”

There might be one good thing about a hard Brexit after all

Think of it like an invisible spider web, silently linking together people and places. Or perhaps it’s more of an invisible road network, or an invisible electrical grid: a system that facilitates transactions, that makes it possible to board an airplane in one country and arrive in another, to trade spare parts across borders, to benefit from international insurance agreements and accepted rates of exchange.

Continue reading “There might be one good thing about a hard Brexit after all”

If Russia can create fake ‘Black Lives Matter’ accounts, who will next?

Send a spy to spread rumors on the other side of the front line. Drop leaflets into enemy territory. Debilitate the enemy using its own people, in their own language — Lord Haw-HawTokyo Rose — over their own radios. The tactics of demoralization are as old as politics — as old as war — and now we know what the second-decade-of-the-21st-century version looks like, too. Continue reading “If Russia can create fake ‘Black Lives Matter’ accounts, who will next?”

Is it Britain’s turn for revolution?

“They have a horror of abstract thought, they feel no need for any philosophy or systematic ‘world-view.’ ” That was George Orwell, speaking of his countrymen in a famous 1941 essay, “England Your England.” Writing during the Blitz, as “highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me,” Orwell listed the qualities that made the English English: their love of privacy, their almost religious respect for the law, their dislike of uniformed men barking orders. “All the boasting and flag-wagging, the ‘Rule Britannia’ stuff, is done by small minorities,” he wrote: “The most stirring battle-poem in English is about a brigade of cavalry which charged in the wrong direction.” Continue reading “Is it Britain’s turn for revolution?”