Friday, September 30, 2011

Lessons from history

I have always had a fascination for history, something I may have inherited from my grandfather, who was a teacher of history. I have often wondered if something like this could actually be inherited; I did not know my grandfather very well, I was about ten when he died, yet I find myself treading a path that was surely familiar to him.

When I was in school, I wondered what history could possibly teach us, but somewhere in the barren sand a seed sprouted and has kept growing. What history teaches us is that the problems men have faced have not changed much and the wider ones view the more the patterns make sense. In tracing our footprints in the sands of time we see patterns emerging, patterns that recur and in identifying some of these patterns in the present, we may well see our future.

A little short of a century since the Great October Revolution, the Tsar has returned to Russia. The title is no longer used but the system of government increasingly resembles Tsarist Russia.

This was suspected to be the case, when Putin stepped down in 2008. He left the Presidency but became the Prime Minister. His supposed successor turned out to have no real power and the announcement of Putin's candidacy for the Presidency next year confirms the identity of its real ruler. Strip away the democratic facade and one finds power in the hands of a tightly knit group, not a ruling family as in the old days, but a brotherhood of the KGB.

Putin should be able to serve until 2024, unless there is a change in the constitution, and, quite by coincidence, he can keep our Dear Leader company.

Our leader will serve until 2024; the second term expires in 2018 and he will certainly contest at least a third term before questions of primogeniture come into play.

Incumbency is a powerful thing and the recent constitutional changes have made it more powerful still. It worth noting that in thirty years no incumbent has ever been unseated, except by the term limit and once by assassination.

The first thirty years post independence saw parties changing at almost every election, in the second thirty years it happened only once and that too following an assassination.

The newspapers used to carry frequent references to seventeen years of UNP rule but these mysteriously dried up by end 2009, possibly because the PA has now ruled for seventeen years.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

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