The Untold History of Ibero America: Empire vs Christian Humanism

Rising Tide Foundation

During the mid-19th century a revolutionary struggle swept across ibero American nations and in the course of several decades monarchical systems of empire that had established themselves across the Americas began to lose their hold on power and a new system of republics were instituted. Certainly this movement cannot be said to be bad as the ideals of “self-government”, “inalienable rights” and the “consent of the governed” contained in these republican struggles are preferable to systems of hereditary power… but the question remains: Why was the hand of British Intelligence so often found helping these anti-spanish revolutionary groups? Were these revolutionary movements as pure as we are told? Could something better have occured had anglo-American imperial intrigue not subverted many of these movements? Similarly, it has become commonplace to label everything done under spanish/portuguese rule prior to the age of revolutions to be entire evil and rapacious. Certainly it cannot be argued that great evils were not done under the helm of such empires, but in embracing such black legends that paint everything pre-revoluationary as totally evil with no redeeming value to be found, are we not also missing the virtuous struggles by Christian humanist movements who fought to do great works of good that reverberate to this day? In this Rising Tide Foundation lecture, Adam Sedia sheds new light on Ibero American history as you’ve never seen it beginning with the fight between oligarchical vs Christian humanist factions of Spain during the days of Columbus and onward to our present age.

Learning to Think Like Mencius in a Time of Crisis



Full Reading Now Available.

Since ancient times, philosophers have sought the remedy to humanity’s recurrent plunges into war, division, chaos, ignorance and all the moral, temporal and spiritual ills that accompany those disharmonies.

In ancient Greece, this effort was spearheaded by Plato (427-347 BCE) and his school of disciples that applied the methods of their master Socrates (470-399 BCE) to unlocking not only scientific mysteries in astronomy, mechanics, geometry and medicine, but also natural law in the form of the Plato’s ongoing effort to organize philosopher kings capable of raising society to a standard of excellence whereby all citizens and rulers alike could finally access the pathway towards awakening self-understanding, agapic love of truth, beauty and the good and ultimately true happiness.

Paralleling this development many thousands of miles across the world island, the followers of Confucius (551-479 BCE) were engaged in an identical combat but with Chinese characteristics. By the 4th century BCE, this fight was spearheaded by Mencius (372-289 BCE) who worked tirelessly to organize a philosopher king during the dark days of the warring states period who would be capable of uniting the people under a unified state governed by Li (principle), Ren (agape/benevolence) and the Mandate of Heaven (Tian Ming).

Like Plato, whose efforts to educate Dionysius I and II to the status of Philosopher Kings of Syracuse were thwarted in his lifetime, so too did Mencius watch his efforts come undone by lesser souls incapable of seeing a higher reality beyond the limits of their senses. Yet despite these set-backs both philosophers established powerful schools of thought that endured far beyond the bookends of their lives which transmitted their teachings over many generations and which resulted in the greatest leaps of progress, peace, and creativity ever recorded among both eastern and western civilizations.

It is in this spirit that The Rising Tide Foundation is proud to present a new study group led by Dr. Quan Le which plunges into the geopolitical history of ancient China while also exploring the diverse philosophical currents, personalities and more in the form of a series of dialogues composed by the students of Mencius and translated by Professor Robert Eno.

To access the original text of Robert Eno’s translation of the Mencius, click here.

To access Dr. Quan Le’s class: “Plato and Confucius: Spiritual Brothers at Two Ends of the World Island”, click here.

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Oral history and folklore

The Library’s Oral History and Folklore Collection dates back to the 1950’s and includes a rich and diverse collection of interviews and recordings with Australians from all walks of life.

Portrait of Smoky and Dot Dawson

Smoky Dawson interviewed by Rob Willis for the Rob Willis folklore collection.

View in the catalogue

Lola Wright playing piano

Portrait of Lola Wright

Lola Wright interviewed by Rob Willis in the Rob Willis folklore collection(2008)

View in the catalogue

Rob Linn interviewing Peter Cundall

Portrait of interviewer Rob Linn

Peter Cundall interview with Rob Linn.

View in the catalogueNext PAUSEPAUSE SLIDER

Our Oral History and Folklore collection records the voices that describe our cultural, intellectual and social life.  The collection consists of over 55,000 hours of recordings, the earlier ones dating back to the 1950s when the tape recorder became available.  More than 1000 hours of interviews, music and accents are added to the collection each year. Increasingly the collection is available online or may be requested from the catalogue. You can listen to:

  • Folklore recordings – popular culture, traditional songs, dances, music, stories and more
  • Interviews with distinguished Australians – scientists, writers, artists, politicians and sports people
  • Interviews with people who have lived through significant social trends and conditions – unemployment, the impact of child removals from families,  the Depression, and migration to Australia
  • Environmental sound – the historical sound of the built and natural environment.

Some interviews have transcripts or summaries and our online audio delivery system helps you search the content of our collection, which can be searched through Trove.


  • Interviews by Hazel de Berg – 1,290 recordings of interviews and readings dating from the 1950s of prominent Australian poets, artists, writers, composers, actors, academics, publishers, librarians, scientists, anthropologists, public servants and politicians.   
  • Folk music by John Meredith – over 500 recordings between 1953 and 1994 of traditional Australian folk music, songs, recitations, bush dance music, yarns and reminiscences.  John Meredith was a foundation member of the Bushwhackers and helped form the Bush Music Club and the Australian Folklore Society. 
  • Bringing Them Home oral history project – These include over 300 interviews collected between1998 and 2002 of Indigenous people and others, such as missionaries, police and administrators, involved in or affected by the process of child removals. Listen online to a selection of interviews.
  • Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants project – interviews with people who were in institutional and out of home care as children. Listen online to a selection of interviews.
  • Australian Paralympic stories– interviews with key people responsible for the growth and success of Paralympic sport in Australia. Listen online to Australian Paralympic stories.

Interviews for Oral History

The back of our home where we had morning tea with Frances
The back of our home where we had morning tea with Frances

Our daughter Monika said the other day: ‘I knew, Mum, that you’d like Frances.’ She wasn’t surprised at all that I very much loved having her around. Peter and I were always very much looking forward seeing her here at our home. This was some weeks ago. Very soon now we should get the result of these recording sessions with Frances.

I think Frances saw our daughter Gaby just a few days before Gaby died. Sadly the planned interview with Gaby could not take place at the time. There was some difficulty with incoming calls Gaby was expecting that day. Apparently Gaby was reluctant to switch off her mobile phone!

Gaby’s passing must have been a shock to Frances as it was to all of us. Frances had already been looking with Gaby at some of her documents. She was aware how Gaby caught polio at age four, and that she had lived as a quadriplegic with breathing difficulties for over fifty years. After Gaby’s passing she was keen to interview someone of Gaby’s family.

Frances found out from daughter Monika that we, Gaby’s parents, had gone overseas soon after Gaby’s death and wouldn’t be back for quite some time. In the meantime Frances started interviewing Monika. This is how Monika did get to know Frances. Monika agreed to be interviewed about her life in connection with Gaby. So Frances recorded twice one hour with Monika. Some time later, after our return from our long overseas trip, Peter’s and my tale was recorded too. Peter’s took eight times one hour, mine seven times one hour.

Nationalism and fascism and the rise of capitalism in Ukraine: Some Tentative Conclusions


  • The connection between Russian oppression and Stalinism
  • The connection between Ukrainian nationalism and anti-communism
  • The present basis of support for Ukrainian fascist groups
  • How that could all change

Since I was recently in Ukraine, I was asked by a respected friend and fellow worker to write about my impressions of the issue of fascism in Ukraine. To me, it’s a very complex issue and it involves the whole issue of the old Soviet regime, the restoration of capitalism in that part of the world in general and the whole issue of national rights for Ukraine.

I am very, very far from an expert on any of this, but I have read a little bit. That reading includes Yulia Yurchenko’s excellent book Ukraine and the Empire of Capital, which reads kind of like a combination of Das Capital plus the Communist Manifesto brought up to date and with a focus on Ukraine, but placed in a world context. My experience in Ukraine was extremely limited and only allowed me to just scratch the surface, but I tried my best to keep my eyes and ears open. So with that understanding, here’s how the issues appear to me:

Ukraine means “borderland”, and that’s what Ukraine is – a borderland between many of the European powers. Combined with the fact that much of it is a flat, broad plain, this meant that it was invaded over and over again, so its peoples are composed of many different ethnic groups. The country or major parts of it were passed back and forth like the booty in a war. Over the last 100+ years, though, Russia has been the dominating power and threat. There was, for example, the “Holodomor” or mass starvation of 1932-3 in which 13% of the Ukrainian population starved to death. This national disaster was caused by the criminal policies of Stalin.

This and similar memories is seared into the minds of Ukrainian national culture, and it means that national oppression is equated with both Russia and what passed for socialism. My impression is that to many Ukrainians, they are one and the same.

Donbas miners on strike in 1989

1989 Donbas miners strike
In the late 1980s there was a mass strike movement of miners in the Donbas region. (The following quotes and statistics are from Yurchenko’s book.) In 1989, 173 out of 226 miners – a half million in all – went on strike. They elected strike committees that became semi-permanent institutions These were embryonic workers councils in the making, but the workers didn’t know where to go with them. The miners called for educational programs, but that layer of society with access to history and a wider understanding of the world – the petit bourgeois intellectuals – were intent on Ukrainian nationalism and ignored these strike committees. So, the miners’ intent on fighting the “Soviet system” found but one alternative: a first step back to capitalism through “enterprise autonomy”.

The miners strike could have been a first step towards the working class taking power. But the only option that seemed on the table was some sort of “kinder and gentler” capitalism. Something along the lines of what existed in Sweden or Germany – a well ordered society in which clear laws existed and were observed by all. A society with a “free” press and “fair” elections. A society that was able to provide the economic basics and had a wide level of social benefits.

The result of the collapse of the miners strike was a forewarning of what was to come. Throughout the Donbas, crime took off as criminal gangs multiplied. Increased drug addiction, the collapse of family life – all the ties that hold a society together even under capitalism frayed to the breaking point.

Return to capitalism
The middle class nationalist intelligentsia and the gangster capitalists combined. This along with the fact of the long standing oppression by Russia led to over 90% of voters voted for independence from Russia in the 1991 referendum. This was not only a vote for political independence, it also implied a view of moving towards capitalism as it was seen in Western Europe – capitalism with a kind and “democratic” face, capitalism with clean and “democratic” elections, lack of corruption and social programs to provide health care, pensions, etc.

With or without independence from Russia, though, a return to capitalism was inevitable at that point. The point is that independence also meant some form of democratic rule to those who voted in its favor.

What kind of capitalism they were going to get was indicated by the fact that in 1993 inflation reached 10,000%, by 1996 the GDP had shrunk to its lowest level in the history of Ukraine and by the following year the productive (as opposed to the speculative) component of GDP was at a mere 47.8%.

The “nomenklatura” (the old Soviet era bureaucracy) combined with outright criminal gangs to hive off the state owned industries. Gangsterism reined supreme. Each oligarch ruled over his turf like drug gang leaders do. They developed their own regional-based political parties. They fought amongst themselves as much as they did against their class enemy, the working class. This capitalist class in the making was a “criminal-political nexus”.

Capitalism in Western Europe and U.S.
At that time Western Europe was headed down the neoliberal road, reducing all social benefits and even the social democrats were collaborating in taking that direction. Due to this, far right nationalist and even outright fascist forces were bound to develop in those countries. So what chance did capitalism stand in Ukraine?

As for “democracy”, we have to realize one thing: It is a luxury for the capitalist class to rule through democratic norms. True, it’s the safest and least expensive means of their rule, but it is only possible when the capitalist class can offer at least the hope of a decent life to the majority of the working class. That is why it is being steadily eroded in Western Europe and the United States. In the US, where the working class is in crisis, the main resistance to that erosion comes from all the institutions that base themselves on capitalist democracy. That includes most of the capitalist media and almost all governmental institutions – for example the bureaucracies that control elections, different regulatory bodies, and even the US military. Even here, though, we see the erosion as for example within the police, where a large sector are committed racists and even fascists. And the US military has always had its “Dr. Strangelove” wing which is exemplified today by the likes of Michael Flynn and the convicted war criminal (pardoned by Trump) Eddie Gallagher. For all its extreme failings and its decline, the US unions also still stand as something of a bulwark to the developing anti-democratic trend that is being led by the Republicans.

Political basis for capitalist rule in former East Bloc
But what did Ukraine (or Russia or any of those countries) have? The previous state institutions were based on repression. There was no tradition of “free” press. And the unions were simply the old state-controlled unions, more like company unions than real worker organizations of any sort.

As for socialism: In the West – the US for example – socialists always were in the forefront of any workers’ movement. All the best, the most serious and dedicated union leaders were socialists of some sort – the famous ones like Eugene Debs, Big Bill Hayward, P.J. McGuire, and those whom history has largely forgotten like Benjamin Fletcher and R.T. Sims. (These names are largely forgotten due to racism.)

But the working class of Ukraine lacked the mass workers’ organizations – the unions. And as for socialism – it was and is almost unanimously associated with national oppression and the monster to the east.

Western capital played its role. Again, according to Yurchenko, it flooded Ukraine with speculative finance capital. She writes: “A large proportion of the economic growth of Ukraine’s economy in the pre-crisis years was growth on paper, based on fictitious foundations of credit finance and mirage liquidity. Investment from abroad that flooded the country in the last few years, before the Lehman Brothers collapse, has been the last wave of Ponzi-type financialisation. Ukraine’s banking sector growth since 2000 and especially during 2005–2008 was not a sign of the country’s improving economic performance but rather a sign of growing dependency and integration with the global financial architecture. It was an expression of the last wave of financialisation that began in the USA and then spread over to Europe–first Western and later farther to the East….. Ukraine cumulatively borrowed $44 billion and over 15.6 billion euros with the largest lenders being the IMF, the World Bank and the European Commission.”

All that money had to be repaid… by the working class.

The Maidan protests
They were not nationalist or fascist inspired

In 2014, masses of Ukrainian youth rose up against the corrupt and pro-Russian president Yanukovich. Some on the “left” claim that it was a right wing-led coup that drove Yanukovich out of office. An independent study revealed that 70% of the protesters mentioned police brutality as a reason for being out in the streets; 53.3% mentioned Yanukovich’s refusal to sign the EU-Ukraine agreement; 50% said it was a desire to change life in Ukraine. Only 5% mentioned following a call of one of the right wing parties.

As with the years that led up to Maidan, the years that followed were filled with power struggles between different regional and gangster capitalist based parties, of which Yanukovich’s “Party of the Regions” was only one. It was the one most closely linked to Russia.

Ukrainian fascism
It was in this historical context that we have to understand Ukrainian fascism. Before commenting any further, it should be stressed that contrary to how most of those on the left raise it, fascism in

A member of the Russian National Unity Party. Putin sent these fascists into Donbas. The “socialists” who talk about fascism in Ukraine ignore Putin’s much stronger fascist links.

Ukraine is no isolated phenomenon. There is a fascist component to almost all those former east bloc countries, with the strongest fascist component being in Russia. There, Putin’s Number One advisor is the fascist Aleksander Dugin. Almost every fascist group and prominent individual throughout Europe supports Putin. While she is not directly a fascist, France’s Marine Le Pen is close to it. She has been directly financed by Putin. At a recent conference of the white supremacist America First in the US, the crowd was chanting “Putin, Putin, Putin”. So any talk of fascism in Ukraine is hypocrisy at best if it doesn’t point this out.

Nor is the Zelensky government a fascist or even fascist friendly one. In fact, Zelensky recently dismissed his interior minister Avakov, who was giving protection to the fascist-led Azov Battalion. And in the 2021 elections, the fascists received something like 3% of the vote and didn’t get a single delegate elected (as opposed to in the US).

However, this can be somewhat deceptive. According to what I was told when I was there, support for Azov is quite widespread as are right wing sentiments… of a sort. I was told that one can give the Nazi salute without being arrested, but one can be arrested for singing the Internationale. But we must see the complexity of this sentiment:

A funeral for a right wing leader in Lviv. Support for the far right is a complex issue in Ukraine.

Ukraine nationalism is totally integrated with the view that national oppression of Ukraine is integrally linked with the old Soviet Union. This is the basis of the anti-communism. Anti-communism and Ukrainian nationalism are one and the same in a the minds of many Ukrainians. Those who want to resist the Russian invasion would be looking for the force most determined and most able to do so. For many, that would be Azov. It is similar to those Syrians who wanted to resist the fascistic Assad dictatorship joining with the Muslim fundamentalists. They were not necessarily fundamentalists; they just wanted arms to fight Assad.

It is worth quoting Yurchenko at length: “The Ukrainian nation as an imagined community was weak when the country became independent… until the insurrection of 2013-2014…. It became popular to view the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the latter’s active support for separatist forces as factors that forced the birth of the Ukrainian nation that had been in the making since the early 1990s…. The Ukrainian is now locked into defining themselves in opposition to the Russian ‘Other’… [which] is chained to the communist Soviet.” (From pp. 20-21)

This view has nothing in common with that of Putin, who denies the very right of Ukraine to exist, and does so in order to justify a brutal imperialist invasion. Yurchenko bitterly opposes the invasion and has no patience for those “socialists” who deny Ukraine’s right to obtain arms from any source available, including the NATO nations. But what her explanation does do is explain two things: First is the link between Ukrainian nationalism and anti-communism; and second and related to this is the relatively weak basis for Ukrainian nationalism as compared to, for example German or Italian nationalism.

The basis of any national sentiment is a shared historical experience, a common language and culture, and more or less clear borders, among other things. What is happening in Ukraine – what has happened – is only the most extreme example of a global process. In 2004, the Guardian newspaper carried an extremely interesting article called The Demise of the Nation State. The author, Das Gupta, explained that all these factors that hold a nation together are under assault by global capital as well as other forces. But workers know no form of rule under capitalism other than the nation states. In fact, there is no other form of rule. It is exactly these processes that are driving a yearning for the “good old days”, meaning increased nationalism. The author didn’t comment on the absence of a mass, working class based socialist movement as an alternative, but that factor is certainly there globally and doubly so in Ukraine.

So what we see in Ukraine is a concentrated image of the future that capitalism holds for all.

More specifically, in relation to Ukraine, if Putin’s invasion succeeds even in part, if he succeeds in gaining military control over the Black Sea coast, possibly even all the way down to Odessa, this will lead to years of low scale war. It won’t be entirely different from what is happening in the West Bank and Gaza today. In the absence of a clear headed – which is to say socialist – wing of the working class developing, then hatred of Russia and in fact all Russian people could develop. This could include a movement against ethnic Russians in Ukraine, maybe even including physical attacks. In that case, then genuine fascist ideology could start to really develop.

Israeli fascist youth chanting “death to Arabs” at a protest.

To continue the previous analogy: In Israel today, Zionist fascism (as opposed to simple colonial/racist thinking) is developing, especially among the settlers in the West Bank. In the case of the war in Ukraine, Putin would likely have to bring in a “new” and more loyal population into his newly conquered territory. These would have a fascist ideology. Not only that, but the chauvinism that Putin bases himself on in Russia would also lead to an increase in outright fascism in the mother country. In fact, it’s possible that Putin’s rule could become an outright fascist one.

On the other hand, if Putin’s invasion fails, if his forces are even just driven out of the regions they already have conquered and Luhansk and Donetsk remain as puppet “states” for Putin, it seems likely to me that that would be considered a huge victory for Ukraine. In that case, within Russia a mood similar to the post-Vietnam mood in the US could start to develop. That would be a radical left challenge to the Putin regime, including mass disafection within the military. More important is what could start to develop in Ukraine. It seems most likely to me that there would be an initial outpouring of national pride. “We beat the Russian bear!” would be the mood. But then a new mood could start to develop among workers: “We went through all this sacrifice, now we want ours.” In other words, a renewed class struggle. Under these circumstances, an opening could develop for genuine socialism.

A funeral for a right wing leader in Lviv. Support for the far right is a complex issue in Ukraine.


 Categories: Europewarworld relations

What is it like in the Ukraine?

It seems to me, to have a look a the following posts would help a lot

in understanding the situation in the Ukraine a bit better:


The author of these posts calls himself the Oakland Socialist.

What I wrote as a comment to a blog by Dawn Pisturino on Feb. 27th/2022

Dawn Pisturino

Dawn Pisturino

I think, it is not hard to understand, that from the Russians point of view, it is of the utmost importance, that they create all around Russia sufficient buffer zones in order to secure Russian borders as much as possible.

They are very powerful country now! This gives them the means for securing all their borders!

I think they are not out for any wars: They just want to b e able to keep securing all their borders!

All people, that study history objectively, should find it obvious, why the Russians, with Putin as their leader, right now act the way they do!

Hasn’t the West fed them lie upon lie? I don’t see, why they should have any reason to trust us!

The Funny Man Volodymyr Zelensky

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Ukraine’s Hero President Z.

The funnyman who became a warrior and founded a new Europe



MARCH 01, 2022

Courtesy the author

Volodymyr Zelensky meets with Bernard-Henri Levy, 2019COURTESY THE AUTHOR

Idon’t know if, by the time this article appears, Volodymyr Zelensky will still be alive.

We do know that he is in Kyiv, surrounded by his generals, in a bunker that the Sukhoi fighter jets seek.

And we have just seen him in a video where he appears helmetless, outside, like a young Churchill walking in the poor neighborhoods of London during the Nazi Blitz of September 1940.

But I also know that he is at the top of the Kremlin’s kill list, according to the English-language press.

His recent farewells come to mind—on Friday, Feb. 25, to his counterparts over Zoom during a special meeting of the European Union: “This is maybe the last time that you will see me alive.”

What is greatness?

True greatness, as taught by European chivalry?

Perhaps it is that.

That heroism, calm and proud.

A touch of Allende the night before the assault of the Moneda by Pinochet’s death squads.

The way he told President Biden, who offered up an exfiltration—“I need weapons, not a taxi”—and Putin, today’s Pinochet: “You can try to kill me, I am ready for it, since I know that the idea lives in me and will survive me.”

The first time I met him was on March 30, 2019, the night before the first round of his stunning election, in a seafood restaurant near the Maidan.

I had just performed, at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Looking for Europe, the theatrical monologue that I was bringing then to the European capitals. My friend Vladislav Davidzon, one of the last American journalists still in Ukraine—reporting for Tablet—had arranged the meeting.


Getty Images
Getty Images

News section icon

Ukraine’s New President Is a Jewish ComedianTablet’s Vladislav Davidzon gained special access to Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s enigmatic new leader who once played the president on TV. Here, Davidzon shares his impressions of Zelensky and his predictions for Ukraine’s political future.


Volodymyr Zelensky was, at the time, a very young man. Looking like a paper boy in jeans, old sneakers, and a black T-shirt with a worn neckline, he had spent the night celebrating the final performance, in an old Kyiv skating rink turned café-theater, of “Servant of the People,” the one-man show that had made him famous.

We talked about Beppe Grillo, that other cabaret actor, and founder of the Five Star movement in Italy, whom Zelensky hated being compared to.

About French Coluche, whose story he didn’t know well and whose final pirouette, a decision to retire from the presidential election, he did not quite understand: “Maybe because there was now a great man in France, François Mitterrand, so his service was no longer needed?”

About Ronald Reagan, by contrast, he knew everything; hadn’t he just done—for the Ukrainian TV channel 1+1, which belongs to the Israeli-Ukrainian Igor Kolomoyskyi, Zelensky’s sponsor—the voice-over for a docudrama on the destiny of this actor in bad Westerns who became a great president?

We also spoke about Putin, the other Vladimir, about whom he had no doubt: If he would come face to face, he would make Putin laugh, just as he had made all Russians laugh. “I act in the Russian language, you know; the kids love me, in Moscow; they double over with laughter at my sketches; the only thing is …”

He hesitated …

Then, over the table, in a low voice: “There is one thing … this man does not see; he has eyes, but does not see; or, if he does look, it’s with an icy stare, devoid of all expression.”

The other subject of our conversation was his Judaism.

How could a young Jew, born into a family decimated by the Shoah, in the oblast of Dnipropetrovsk, become president of the country of Babi Yar?

It’s simple, he answered, with a hoarse laugh: “There is less antisemitism in Ukraine than in France; and, above all, less than in Russia where, hunting for the Nazi mote in thy brother’s eye, they end up missing the beam in thine own eye; wasn’t it Ukrainian units of the Red Army that liberated Auschwitz, after all?”

Our second meeting took place at the annual Yalta European Strategy conference, the Ukrainian mini-Davos created by the philanthropist Victor Pinchuk.

Like every year, there were distinguished geopoliticians, American officials, NATO representatives, acting or former European heads of state, and intellectuals.

Zelensky, now president, gave a strong speech in which he laid out his plan for combatting corruption, the scourge of his country’s economy.

The time came for the traditional closing dinner, where the host would, over pears and cheese, offer a “surprise” to anchor the event: one year, Donald Trump, candidate … another, Elton John or Stephen Hawking …

This time the surprise, arriving on the stage, in front of the tables, is the troupe of actors who had performed with the new head of state, up to his election.

One does an impersonation of Angela Merkel.

Another plays a supposed WhatsApp exchange, hilarious and salacious, between Trump and Hillary Clinton.

And here was a third, made up like Zelensky, playing a rustic Ukrainian who speaks poor English searching for someone to interpret for him and pointing, as if by chance, at the real Zelensky, who without being asked twice, bounds out of his chair to join his comrades on stage.

That was the situation.

A fake Zelensky, playing the real one.

The real Zelensky, playing the interpreter of the fake.

The fake, translated by the real, offers up howlers that the other is forced to translate, which make fun of him.

In short, an incredible show.

The room, faced with this quid pro quo, this joyful blurring of original and copy, faced with the self-effacement of a president swallowed by his avatar, hesitates among laughter, uneasiness, and amazement.

That night, Zelensky was Woody Allen inviting us, like in The Purple Rose of Cairo, into his film, or, better, into his TV series.

When the show was over, I went to ask him what Putin, in Moscow, might think of this enemy disappearing behind his mask and allowing himself to be silent within his simulacrum. He told me this: “It’s true! The attitude is surely unheard of in the main repertoire of the FSB! But laughter is a weapon that is fatal to men of marble! You shall see.”

We met again, once more, last year.

I was coming back from reporting in the Donbas, where I had run the front lines from Mariupol to Luhansk, with elite troops of the new Ukrainian army. And while my photographers, Marc Roussel and Gilles Hertzog, had laid out some of their best shots on the coffee table in the room where we were being received, a whole other Zelensky revealed himself.

In one of the photos, taken at Novotroitske, Zelensky recognized Major General Viktor Ganushchak, the leader of the 10th Battalion of the Alpine Chasers brigade, mildly paunchy in a chicane jacket straight out of frozen Verdun.

About another photo, taken in the Myroliubovka zone, near Donetsk, he commented to Andriy Yermak, his close adviser, to his right, on the vulnerability of three 155 mm cannons, positioned like prehistoric iron monsters in the middle of a field.

About a third, taken near Donetsk, on a gutted road in the ghost town Pisky, he knew the exact number of brave souls who, dug into the mud and snow, held the line.

And then, in Zolote, not far from Luhansk, in a maze of trenches made from an assembly of planks planted in the black earth, he knew by name, having just inspected them, most of the overequipped Rambos, their faces muddy or hooded, who stood guard every 30 feet and seemed hypnotized by the no man’s land before them.

Did Volodymyr Zelensky already know, on that day, that Putin had decided he’d had enough of the Ukrainian democratic exception, and of his clowning?

Did he understand that he would never, after all, laugh with the cold-eyed man with an assassin’s soul?

At that moment, things became clear.

I understood that this former artist of the LOL and the stand-up, whose true nature I thought I had found at the gala dinner in Kyiv, had transformed himself into a warrior.

I saw him join the exemplary company of the men and women that I’d revered my whole life—from republican Spain to Sarajevo and Kurdistan—who are not made for the part that befalls them, but who take it up with panache and learn to make war without loving it.

And in his silhouette grown heavier, on his features once young like French republican drummer boy Francois Joseph Bara, now resembling the French revolutionary Georges Danton, I saw the resistance fighter whose courage amazes the world today.

This man prefers to die fighting than to suffer the dishonor of forced surrender.

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The Forum of Young Global Leaders, or Young Global Leaders (YGL), was created by Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. It is a non-profit organization managed from GenevaSwitzerland, under the supervision of the Swiss government.

The program was founded by Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum in 1993 under the name “Global Leaders for Tomorrow” and was renamed to Young Global Leaders in 2004.[1]

Schwab created the group with $1 million won from the Dan David Prize,[2] and the inaugural 2005 class comprised 237 young leaders.

People recognized as a Young Global Leader are allowed to attend one meeting of the World Economic Forum for free.[3]


BusinessWeeks Bruce Nussbaum describes the Young Global Leaders as “the most exclusive private social network in the world”,[4] while the organization itself describes the selected leaders as representing “the voice for the future and the hopes of the next generation”.

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On 19 February 1942, the Japanese mounted two air raids on Darwin and mainland Australia came under foreign attack for the first time since white settlement.

Admiral Chūichi Nagumo (1887 – 1944), the mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack on 7 December 1941, planned the Darwin raids, which involved 54 land-based bombers and 188 aircraft launched from four aircraft carriers operating in the Timor Sea. The Japanese, who were preparing to invade Timor, correctly surmised that a disruptive air attack on the Darwin base would hinder any Allied counteroffensive.

Admiral Chūichi Nagumo

The first attack began just before 10.00 am and lasted 40 minutes. Heavy bombers struck harbour installations and the town, while dive bombers, escorted by Zero fighters, attacked shipping in the harbour, the military and civil aerodromes and the hospital at Berrimah. The second raid began an hour later and involved high altitude bombing of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base at Parap. This raid lasted about 20 minutes.

Singapore had fallen to the Japanese only days earlier and the civilian population of Darwin, believing that an invasion was imminent, panicked. Looting and disorder was rife and approximately half the city fled south in an event which became known as the ‘Adelaide River Stakes’. Hundreds of Australian servicemen abandoned their posts. Three days after the attack 278 servicemen were still missing.

Together the two raids killed at least 243 people and between 300 and 400 were wounded. Twenty military aircraft were destroyed, eight ships at anchor in the harbour were sunk, and most civil and military facilities in Darwin were destroyed. The Australian government, concerned at the effect of the bombing on national morale, played down the event and claimed that only 17 people had been killed.

Australian soldiers survey the damage inflicted by Japanese bombers.

In the coming months other northern Australia towns, such as Townsville, Katherine, Wyndham, Derby, Broome and Port Hedland, would suffer from Japanese air attack. Further south, Sydney and Newcastle were attacked by submarines. Darwin would be bombed a total of 64 times, the last raids occurring in November 1943. None of these subsequent raids would, however, match the ferocity of those on 19 February 1942.

-Neil Sharkey