The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was established in 2001 with ‘with limited albeit critical goals for its members — to combat the so-called three-evils of extremism, terrorism and separatism’. Dr Jindong Yuan says that since then ‘ its substantive structure remains mediocre to non-existent — as are its agendas which tend to be rather diverse and unfocussed, with differences between member states impeding its transformation into a truly consequential organisation’. That ‘although its membership boasts 40 per cent of the world’s population and 20 per cent of its GDP, the SCO is only as strong and pro active as its core members, Russia, China, and to some extent, India, want it to be’. It has started proceedings to make Iran a member but why? Is it only symbolic or something more?
Then, (at 13 mins), how easy would it be to succumb to tyranny? Peter Hughes tells us how easy it is. He says that ‘the descent into tyranny is to be found in our nature’. That ‘the more free people become, the more they resent limitations on that freedom and condemn the always insufficient progress already made as oppression. As hierarchies collapse and order breaks down, people lose structure and meaning. The parent fears the child, the old fear the young. A tyranny of silence suffocates free speech as citizens self-censor out of fear that their views may be seen as “disagreeable or despotic.” It’s in this climate that the tyrant emerges with the promise that he alone’ can deliver ‘unlimited freedom’. He goes through some fictional and some real tyrannical situations and says that we need to be careful because ‘eschatology implicit in the revolutionary overthrow of an entire social order tempts us with its promise of unlimited freedom. But it takes only a shallow excavation to uncover what Nietzsche identified as “the blood and horror at the bottom of all ‘good things.’
Also, (at 27 mins) the way wars will be fought has changed. It’s no longer only about tanks and guns it’s about A.I. and cyber power. What does that mean? As Nathan Gardels says ‘with the unprecedented weaponization of AI and cyber capabilities thrown into the military mix, a new opacity shrouds any firm accounting of capacities. With each side only guessing at motives and what a balance of power might actually look like, the logic of national security dictates a rapid build up of wired arms so as not to be vulnerable, or to prevail, in any worst-case scenario in the event of open conflict’. He argues that the paradox that technologies of connectivity are dividing the world is not lost’ on him. That ‘the evolution of AI and other tools that frame the use of data, the flow of information and the openness of expression reflect the civilizational and cultural values that undergird them and stand at the heart of divergence between East and West’.
Then, (at 38 mins) Amanda gets on her soapbox to rant about attention spans.
Finally, (at 39 mins) the remarkable story of Dr Alice Hamilton and a rayon factory. Dr Paul Blanc explains that ‘Alice Hamilton was a leading U.S. authority on the toxicity of carbon disulfide, the compound that appeared to be causing the rayon illnesses. Back in 1915, as a medical expert working with the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, she had studied its use in the rubber industry.’ She was also the first female faculty member at Harvard University. Hamilton, he says, ‘was an activist for worker protection on many fronts. Not limiting herself to governmental bulletins and medical texts, she made a point of writing about dangerous occupations for the general public’. He goes through what happened at the rayon factory and how Dr Hamilton became involved. It started with a letter and ended in ‘groundbreaking research, she scoured the records of mental hospitals in Pennsylvania for cases coming out of nearby viscose rayon factories. She saw the advent of compensation for industrial illness in that state and others, which came to be linked to carbon disulfide. She also fought to develop strong exposure limits for many industrial poisons, including carbon disulfide’.
Derakhte Sepid by Marjan Farsad
Tyranny by Pesk
A.1. by Double Ewe
The Silk Lake by Silklake
In Spite of These Times by Close Lobsters