294 – On the origins of World War I

July 27, 2014
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World War I was unexpected, and for most, inexplicable. A hundred years later, as the anniversary looms, it has become the disconsolate symbol of “historical discontinuity.” Today’s gloomy Zeitgeist (particularly in the West) drives many pessimistic pundits to prophesize imminent doom – it is vulgar “cycles of history.” Ominous patterns and analogies are seen everywhere. […]

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293 – Two ways in dealing with corruption

July 25, 2014
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Corruption – the improper mixing of public and private interest – is one of the scourges of contemporary society. How should we go about fighting it? The Western way is the “rule of law:” legislation defines what corruption is, and an independent judiciary pursues those breaking the law – first indicted, first tried. Separation and […]

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292 – A tragic destiny: Subhas Chandra Bose

June 28, 2014
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I’m not sure how many people outside India know of Subhas Chandra Bose[1] – a major leader of this country’s independence movement who, after escaping from The British Raj at the onset of WWII, set up the Provisional Government of Free India as well as the India National Army (INA) in the shadow of Japan. […]

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291 – The ambiguity which is China

June 23, 2014
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QIU Xiaolong has published another “Chief Inspector CHEN” mystery with the title “Enigma of China.” There is nothing wrong with the book – except the title, which was probably chosen to lure jaded readers. Let me explain. The term “enigma” coms from the Greek (αινιγμα) via Latin, and means: “A dark, obscure, or inexplicable saying; […]

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290 – The Confucian ruler as pupil

June 18, 2014
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Confucius is the “usual suspect” when it comes to what’s good or bad about Asia’s past, present, and future. I’ve often felt that this ancient philosopher is being made to carry too much weight. I’ve just come across a instance of Confucianism as process, rather than as content, and this reading has made me think […]

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289 – Heidi or Renxin?

June 1, 2014
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Le promeneur d’oiseaux (The man who walked birds) is a movie that plays in Beijing and Guilin, China. Philip Muyl, a French director, wrote the play and directed a fully Chinese cast. The story has many elements recalling the character of Heidi, the Swiss girl who changes the world around her. Yet, the story is, […]

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288 – 1914 – 1918: And where were the citizens?

June 1, 2014
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One hundred years ago, WWI broke out. Out of the blue, the Western-based “concert of nations” failed catastrophically. The ensuing war transformed the world. Despite the avalanche of writings on this singularity in world history already on the market, on this centennial occasion historians have churned out reams of new titles (many of them clones […]

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