Here comes the sun

Heard Nina Simone’s interpretation of this song, thanks to Radio Woodstock, for the first time Saturday on my way – 7:30am – to my spin class. Good way to begin a sunny day in Kingston.


Any explanation for the outbreak of war in Ukraine has to allow for the convergence and interaction of multiple short and longer term factors that set the stage and triggered Putin’s order to invade an independent, sovereign country. In ths regard, the expansion of NATO figures into any explanation for Putin’s decision, but to turn it into the singular factor renders a complex of factors and their consequences – the social and economic collapse of the 1990s, the rise of Russian nationalism, the political formation and psychology of Putin, the changing political dynamics of Ukraine and its drift to the West – invisible and thus empty of explanatory-causal weight.

To turn the rollback of NATO, moreover, into the main focus of the peace movement’s energies is wrongheaded too. A ceasefire, negotiations, and the withdrawal of Russia’s troops from Ukraine should be its main demands, it seems to me. Only the silencing of the guns of war, the return of Russian soldiers to Russia, and a free and independent Ukraine will restore some sense of normalcy to that besigned and battered country, puncture the bubble of war fever, gripping too many capitals, and give peace, disarmament, and global cooperation a chance.

Regime change

President Biden’s “regime change” remark rightfully earned him rebuke from many quarters. It was gasoline on the fire. But it doesn’t follow that progressive minded people should have any hesitation to express their solidarity with the people and organizations in Russian society, whose goal is to “remove” Putin and his dictatorial regime from power.

Nothing more than a subset

Some would like to reduce the current war in Ukraine to no more than a great power struggle in which the Ukrainian people in their life and death struggle against Russian invaders are no more than a subset – not to be ignored, but by no means central to this world shaking drama. This downsizing of the struggle of the Ukrainian people against an imperial neighbor is despicable, not worthy of anyone who calls themselves in internationalist.

Here’s one example of this phenomenon, courtesy of a news publication, which distinguished itself over decades for its working class partisanship and internationalism. But you would never know it from this article that reduces President Zelensky to nothing more than an avaricious clown, bedecked in one or another costume depending on circumstances and doing the bidding for oligarchs and western imperialism.

In the meantime, Putin’s Russia is mounting a brutal offensive in eastern Ukraine and Zelensky in his capacity as president is rallying his country and the world to resist and defeat Putin military offensive. About this not a word from this putative working class, anti-imperialist, and socialist publication.

I can’t imagine any of the earlier iterations of this publication over the past half century striking such a posture. Shameful!

Constant repetition

I’m watching the first games of NBA playoffs. What stands out isn’t just the athleticism of the players, but also the skill level that is over the top. The latter is a product of sweated labor – or, said differently, constant repetition – by these young men practicing and improving their craft.

What also goes unappreciated because of the dazzle of their offensive theatrics is their defensive tenacity. This too is a skill that requires a relentless commitment to this dimension of the game and intelligence, borne out of experience.

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