Birthday Gift

I’m subscribed to the daily text messages from a company that sells Spanish chorizo in the US. I never buy from them because it’s too expensive but I love looking at the products. It brightens up my day.

N doesn’t know about this fun pastime of mine but he bought me a whole collection of their chorizos and morcillas for my birthday.

It’s all going into my Easter basket for the blessing. Spanish chorizo, blessed in an Orthodox church in Illinois for a Ukrainian woman. What’s not to love?

Images of Kharkiv Today

These are some photos of my city of Kharkiv today. They were taken by a famous Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan. For those of you who are from Kharkiv, these images will mean a lot.

By the way, Barabashka is back to work and was filled with customers today. Nowhere near a as many as usual but still, it’s back to work.

In peaceful times, these streets aren’t empty, of course.

YouTubing the Competition Away

Mostly, my new YouTube channel exists for N’s benefit. He loves YouTube videos and constantly greets me with happy discoveries such as, “You’ve got to watch this video! It tells about how the nation-state is disappearing and what that means. I don’t know if you are interested in that sort of stuff but it’s really fascinating.”

Yeah, hmm, what is all that about the nation-state? Why would I know anything about this kind of thing?

Value of Human Life

I was asked yesterday after my talk what’s the most important characteristic of democracy that is being eroded out of existence right now.

My answer is: the value of human life. The idea that an individual is valuable and that every human being is endowed with equal and inalienable rights is at the heart of the nation-state’s social contract with its citizens. Yes, it took a long time to include every individual and every group into this rights-based compact. But that doesn’t invalidate the revolutionary nature of this idea that only in the 1700s managed to migrate from Christianity to politics.

The neoliberal post-nation state has a very different view of human life. Not only aren’t individuals sacred, they are, for the most part, ‘human waste.’ Pesky, annoying, useless rubbish that needs to be pushed out of the way.

Immediately, policies arise that aim to dispose of this human waste. Deaths of despair, puberty blockers, state-imposed genital mutilation of unhappy adolescents, euthanasia of those who are inconveniently sad or not perfectly healthy. Identity politics where nobody is allowed to be an individual. You can only be a function, a blank slate where somebody else will write and rewrite a situationally useful story.

It is crucial that we look at all these policies as part of a whole and not a random collection of incomprehensible instances of weirdness. There is a method to this madness and we need to be very aware of it.

New Video

The realization that a new social contract has come to substitute the one that existed in functioning democracies is painful. We try to protect ourselves from this knowledge but that is counterproductive. I posted a very short (4 mins) video on this subject on my brand-new YouTube channel. The last thing I wanted in life is a YouTube channel but one thing leads to another, and posting one video somehow ends up spawning a million videos.