"When he enters, they all stand;
some from service, some from joy"
"To a Tyrant" J. Brodsky 1972.
Hundreds of thousands of Pyongyang inhabitants lined up along the route of Dear Leader Kim Jong Il and his great Northern Friend Pu Tin to greet the great leaders. The front row was occupied by women in national costume trembling in erotic ecstasy, flushed and not badly fed for the residents of the hungry country.
These political harlots probably have a place where they are fed specially. "Glory to Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, glory to Dear Comrade Pu Tin," they shouted in an exultant, releasing orgasm. If they were pretending, it is repulsive. If they were sincere, it is far more horrible.
I remembered these exultant women when, not long ago, I saw on television an exultant man with a bourgeois beard: Russian minister for the economy German Gref. With nearly the same light in his eyes, he was talking about how the liberal economic reforms in Russia would blossom under the wise presidency of the outstanding contemporary reformer, Vladimir Putin.
Naturally, the show host asked the minister how he saw the blend of a liberal economic system with a severe authoritarian political regime of "guided democracy."
The minister answered intelligently, repeating, as it happens, the final thesis of my article "Wrong Century for Little Colonel" (RJ No. 28) on how the Internet economy is not digging trenches nor erecting industry giants, but the economy of free people, demanding maximum realization of a person's creative potential, which is categorically impossible in the conditions of an authoritarian "guided democracy."
I am not assuming author's rights, and am ready to let Gref take credit for this thesis, all the more that it is absolutely obvious and banal. But the minister's blindness is remarkable. Can he really not see the iron tread of approaching "guided democracy" the castrated parliament, the encroachment on free speech, the arbitrariness of the power structures?
Has he really not read the dozens of articles by politologists serving the regime, from Gleb Pavlovsky to Sergei Karaganov, based on and foretelling the inevitability of authoritarianism? Is he pretending, or is he really all at sea?
In his case, as it happens, everything is clear. I saw him in Salzburg where he gave the gathered investors an unpleasant surprise by beginning his speech at the plenary session with an announcement not commensurate with the responsibilities of a reformer-minister: "Malashenko's aircraft was detained in Moscow because contraband was discovered on board."
The special forces refuted their own fabrication half an hour after Gref made his speech.
Gref, who has already promised the death penalty to tax evaders, is one of the right "liberals" who put their stakes on Putin. "He is an absolutely modern person," says Anatoly Chubais of Putin. "He is an absolutely modern person," says Putin in turn of Kim Jong Il.
Progress in the 21st century is seemingly being led by a constellation of absolutely modern people the Dear Leader of UES, Anatoly Chubais, the Dear Leader of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and the Dear Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Il.
The G-7 leaders at the Okinawa summit greeted Putin with nearly the same enthusiasm as the Korean women or Gref and Chubais he can walk without assistance, reads with expression the hero of the summit and a superstar. I wonder if they are professionally faking it or if they truly feel a sense of deep satisfaction.