The Future is History

The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, by Masha Gessen

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  1. Winner of the National Book Award…

    The “capabilities approach” (described by Nussbaum and Sen) to global health insists on ensuring the ends, not merely ensuring the means (eg, rights to and opportunities for health) to the ends.

    This capabilities approach I serendipitously found reflected in an NPR interview I heard 10-2-2017 with Masha Gessen discussing her new book,” The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia.”

    She explained how Vladimir Putin built a mafia regime on the ruins of a totalitarian state and she described a situation similar to that:

    “Why do we assume that a country that had been so battered (Russia) would just suddenly spring into democracy … it’s a little bit like if we took a person who had been in an abusive relationship for years, and took them out of the situation of abuse, and said, ‘OK, now go live a normal life.’ We wouldn’t expect a person to be able to do that because we understand that the kind of trauma, the kind of damage that’s done to the psyche by years of abuse is not fixed by an opportunity, it’s fixed by a lot of hard work, a lot of intervention, and often an intervention doesn’t succeed. So why should we be surprised that an entire society that had been put through the kind of terror that really no other society in the world, with the possible exception of North Korea, has experienced, why would we assume that a society like that, after 70 years of that, could just choose freedom and democracy and feel comfortable in it?”

    She makes a very strong case for totalitarianism having reclaimed Russia.

    See also her interview comparing and contrasting Putin and Trump.

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