What should a Zenpolitics blog be about? Believing in good in the world, that we are naturally good rather than evil or violent at heart. There’s a battle between two natures but human fulfilment lies in finding the goodness within, and the compassion and love that’s an expression of that. All a bit simple and lovey-dovey, but your attitude to the world is fundamental. I quoted Michael Ignatieff in an earlier blog, sounding disillusioned with human nature. High politics and international conflict can challenge the most stalwart campaigner for peace, justice and love. But you have to believe it’s there inside you, inside all of us.
One starting point is to understand the other side. The other person, the other country. Why do Russians dislike the West and fall in behind Putin? Why do Iranians not thrown off the ayatollahs and embrace Western democracy? Why has the Arab spring not unleashed beneficent democracies on the Arab world?
It looks different from the other side. In terms of boundaries the West and its colonial legacy has laid out the boundaries of much of the modern world outside of East Asia but our legacy is domineering rather than democratic, our identity is not their identity. Our press is singularly unable to get its head round that simple fact. This doesn’t mean, for example, that we kowtow to Putin, but it brings more wisdom to our arguments.
I met a publisher from Belgrade at a recent book fair. She was looking to buy the rights for a book on Vladimir Putin. Books exist, she said, but they are all hostile. ‘He is a hero in Serbia.’
There is another side.