Amidst all the brouhaha over Brexit, it might be worth getting some perspective. Some preach doom, while others point out that the island off the western peninsula of the Eurasian land-mass means little for places like Australia (a couple of percentage points on the trade register). So it’s worth checking out a few other places for their angle on things. Needless to say, Sputnik is full of gleeful analysis – not surprising since the Russians have been providing assistance to the anti-EU parties across Europe. Before we read this as some sinister project, it may be worth recalling the ‘color’ revolutions, which marked the outsourcing by Washington of regime change to NGOs et al. As Losurdo points out (in Non-Violence: A History Beyond Myth), they first tried their hand in China in 1989, but failed there due to the patience and restraint of the Chinese government (so also with Tibet). Since then, the ‘color’ project has refined its skills and toppled popularly supported governments where desired. So the Russians have learned a thing or two and have been busy seeking to undermine the EU and NATO in their own way.

But all this misses what is really going on, since it assumes Europe is in some way still a global centre. A look at the two main Chinese newspapers gives a hint. Xinhua news on 2016.06.24 has three feature stories: on the most recent meeting between Chairman Xi Jinping and President Putin regarding the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation; an article on Putin regarding the revitalised Silk Road; an hour-long exclusive interview with Putin by the head of Xinhua news. Meanwhile, the People’s Daily features the meeting between Xi Jinping and Putin ahead of the Brexit news. In other words, there is much more of importance going in the world than the decision of a small island to leave the EU. I suggest that this is (along with Donald Trump – who really embodies the truth of US-style bourgeois democracy) yet another a signal of the substantial shift, which has been underway for at least a decade, in economic and political power from the Atlantic to Asia.

But I have more important things to consider, since on the same day as the Brexit vote happened, my second grandson was born. Felix Hendrik Boer is his name – and what a fantastic name it is, full of grandeur.

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When I wonder at the travesty of dumping whole libraries in Eastern Europe after 1989 (worse than the torching of the ancient Library of Alexandria), I remind myself that at least it means I can get them cheaply via second-hand bookshops (not a small bonus, I tell you). All the same, positions that were openly debated have been forgotten, needing reinvention as though they were new discoveries. For instance, here’s Stefan Morawski, from 1965, in a piece called ‘Lenin as a Literary Theorist’:

Absolute freedom of the artist is an illusory freedom. Artistic work is inevitably entangled in the ideological battle. Conscious choice is always better than unconscious commitment. And in our time, there is no possible choice that is more humanistic than alliance with the people struggling for a communist society. What that alliance will be like is another matter. It may be party writing in the sense of the public advocacy of communist ideas; but it may also be an approach to those ideas via categorical criticism of the capitalist system.

Developing these ideas of Lenin’s, we could also say that this alliance may appear in creative work that directly attacks the central problems of ideas of our times, but it may also take the form of active participation in the process of democratization of esthetic culture (e.g., in the sphere of architecture and the applied arts) . The alleged absolute independence of the artist is a fictional freedom; true freedom is every development and extension of esthetic values that are valuable from the point of view of the cultural needs of socialist society. Conscious commitment to the battle for socialism, with varying emotional coefficients and varying intellectual orientation, is always at the same time a battle for artistic de-alienation.