An Older Generation: the New Normal
In the near future, the median age of people around the world will be in their 50s. It is projected that in 2050, the global population will reach 9.7 billion people and 1 in 6 people will be over the age of 65.
This entails that there will likely be a significant shift from our current youth-obsessed society to one which may be dominated by people 50+ and older. The future will belong to seniors.
Tom Cruise, who will turn 60 next month, is at an age where most people begin to think of retirement. However, the actor continues to stun and impress people around the world, not only by his universal sex appeal, but by doing his own stunts in movies in which his latest, Top Gun: Maverick has become the top grossing film of 2022. Photo still: Paramount Studios
In 2050, it is projected that 1 out 4 people in China will be over the age of 65 whilst 1 out of 6 people globally will be over the age of 65. Many governments have been preparing for this increase in the ageing population through policy changes. Nations such as China have developed a three tier system of social services for seniors: home-based care which in the future will also be supplemented with social credit, community based services as backing and institutional care as support. However, all these policies are based on the irrevocable declining health of the elderly and offer increasing support whether through the community or via institutions.
Social isolation is one of the causes of a rapid decline in health according to many studies. Photo: Shironosov, Getty Images.
However, we must consider another option that currently governments have been overlooking: the accelerated development of longevity research and technology. Currently, many elderly people are segregated into senior homes and rest care centres where they have little to no interaction with the rest of the population. This kind of isolation further leads to accelerated decline in health and what puts a significant stress on our health care system. What if in the future, instead of thinking of ageing as an inevitable signal that quality of life will continue to decrease, what if in the future a 60 year old has the same physical stamina and overall health of a 30 year old?
Instead of solely focusing on the expansion of the senior health care system, govts around the world must also consider another alternative: to increase the quality of life and human health span so that seniors will potentially become just as active and integrated in the community as the youth population of the future.
The Current Landscape of Longevity Research
A lot of contemporary research in longevity focuses on the lengthening of telomeres, either through epigenetic changes from substances, viral manipulation or genome editing. Telomeres are a region of repetitive DNA sequences at the end of a chromosome which become shorter as a cell divides. When telomeres become short, the cell can no longer divide and the cell dies.
Elongating telomeres (the caps on chromosomes) have been the focus of most longevity research. However, the elongation of telomeres also may cause cancer cells to proliferate and prevent its cell death.
The rationale for the lengthening of telomeres is its progressive shortening leads to senescence (ageing) and apoptosis (cell death) which affects the health and and also lifespan of a human or animal. Shorter telomeres have been associated with increased incidence of diseases and poor survival.
Many substances such as the enzyme telomerase prevents telomere shortening after many rounds of cell division. However, the problem with this treatment is that often cancer cells also avoid cell death by maintaining their telomeres despite repeated cell division, and telomerase adds genetic units onto telomeres to prevent them from shortening, hence avoiding the natural destruction of cancer cells.
Other research has focused on genome editing, and some controversial figures have injected themselves with untested gene therapeutics in order to prevent deterioration of muscles and other age related issues with the most prominent being Elizabeth Parrish of BioViva.
Elizabeth Parrish who is 44, has injected herself over 100 times with untested experimental gene therapy in order to modulate her genes from muscle deterioration. Another method to prevent muscle deterioration is engaging in regular exercise. Photo: mindmaps
These experimental gene therapeutics often have long term side effects which may be entirely unknown, or otherwise have negative consequences since the nature of interaction between different genes are complex and still relatively unclear. There is also the aspect of epigenetic changes that occur in which genes could be switched on or off without the necessity of genome editing. The question then is there an off switch in our DNA to senescence? Are we overlooking something so simple and elegant in our evolutionary design, and could the answer be right in front of us?
In fact, how we age might be directly correlated to the development and maintenance of two organs: the thymus and the pineal gland.
The Thymus and Pineal Gland Axis
The thymus gland is a butterfly shaped organ in between the lungs, located in the upper chest region below the thyroid, although in some people it is located in the neck. In most people, the thymus gland reaches its maximum size when one is a teenager, then begins to shrink, a process called involution. When the average person turns 75 years old, the thymus gland entirely disappears and turns into fat, although during active infections and conditions like diphtheria, the thymus gland tends to shrink in young people and also when exposed to adrenocorticosteroids.
The thymus, a key component of immunity and longevity. Photo: Nerthuz, Shutterstock
The thymus gland is also a key component of immunity as it produces T-cells. As the thymus shrinks, immunity also decreases. Many scientists believe that the shrinking of the thymus is directly correlated to ageing and there has been research to prevent the shrinking or involution of the thymus.
It was discovered that the gene Forkhead Box N1 (FOXN1) transcription factor in epithelial cells contribute to the development of the thymus, and that the thymus gland can be regenerated to a degree. In addition, thymic humoral factor-γ2 (THF-γ2) has been recognised to enhance the proliferative activity in human bone marrow and peripheral myeloid and erythroid progenitor cells, essentially what drives the creation of new cells. Perhaps one of the key factors to longevity is not the artificial lengthening of telomeres, but to enhance the body’s ability to produce new progenitor cells.
Current longevity research has mainly focused on the lengthening of telomeres, but perhaps a key factor of longevity is to enhance the body’s production of progenitor cells via THF-γ2. Whilst stem cells have indefinite replication (left) progenitor cells can at most differentiate into multiple types of specialized cell (right).
The pineal gland, or the "third eye" is located next to the thalamus and hypothalamus. Photo: bodynbrain
The pineal gland is a small pea shaped gland in the brain which regulates circadian rhythm (the sleep-wake cycle) and also produces melatonin, a hormone that enhances both innate and cellular immunity. Children produce the most amount of melatonin, and as one ages, this production tends to significantly decrease. As one ages, the involution (shrinkage) of both the pineal gland and thymus have shown to be linked in many studies and multiple interactions between the circadian system, oxidative stress, immune system and melatonin have become apparent.
Despite that metformin (a diabetic drug) and rapamycin (an immunosuppressant) are currently trending as leading drugs of treatment to prevent ageing, with millions of dollars of corporate funding for its marketing and research, it can’t be overlooked that melatonin is the key factor in both the circadian rhythm and immune system, which is correlated to maintenance of the thymus and pineal gland axis, hence it appears that it is actually the hormone melatonin which is a significant factor in longevity.
Overpopulation, Population Collapse and Ecology
Elon Musk recently caused a stir when he warned of a potential population collapse in various media interviews.
Ghost towns in Europe, a growing trend. Photo: Chris McGrath, Getty Images
For a nation to maintain its population, it has been extrapolated that it needs a birthrate or fertility rate of 2.1, which is how many children each woman needs to have in order to replace the current population. This birthrate has been declining in many nations, such as in China, South Korea, Japan and many other European nations and is well below the replacement birthrate. However, if we consider that because we are living longer, this decline in birthrate could be directly correlated to longer lifespans.
Bowhead whale and baby calf. Bowhead whales have an average lifespan of 200 years and females give birth to a calf every 1-3 years whereas in other species such as rabbits which only have a lifespan of 9 years, have a much higher fertility rate and give birth between 1-7 litters each year. In nearly all animal species, a longer lifespan is correlated to lower fertility rates. Photo: NOAA Fisheries
In many species, lower fertility rates can be directly correlated with longer lifespans and whereas an increase in birthrates is correlated with shorter lifespans. In general, those species who have fewer offspring live longer.
Currently, in human evolution, lifespans are getting longer resulting in a natural correction in lower birth rates. If we examine the nation with the highest birthrate, Chad, on the African continent, has a birthrate of 5.65, which is well above the replacement birthrate, one will notice that that the life expectancy in Chad is 54. 24 years, which is significantly lower than in other nations whereas South Korea, which has a life expectancy of 83.23 years and is one of the highest in the world with also one of the lowest fertility rates or birthrate of 0.92.
As people live longer, it is inevitable that the birthrate or fertility rate will decrease. What poses a danger that could cause population collapse is if the birthrate is falling whilst there is also a simultaneous decrease in life expectancy. This could have significant unknown consequences in which we do not yet know the full ramifications. It could very well be that humanity could undergo a mass extinction event if both birthrate and lifespans begin to fall in unison.
However, although a potential population collapse is probably not likely, scientists have been warning of the opposite for many decades: Overpopulation.
Overcrowded passengers in Bangladesh. When people think of overpopulation, they think of conditions in which there are not enough resources or infrastructure support to maintain the growing number of people, such as in overcrowded urban centres. Photo from yahoo! news
Overpopulation is defined as an undesirable condition where the number of the existing human population exceeds the carrying capacity of Earth. According to Conserve Energy Future, overpopulation is caused by several factors: 1) reduced mortality rate, 2) better medical facilities and 3) the depletion of precious resources. The organisation also states that increased lifespan is a direct cause of overpopulation.
Thinktanks around the world, including the Population Council founded by John D Rockefeller III in 1952, have asserted the same conclusions; that it is the increased lifespan of humans that have caused overpopulation and that there will not be enough resources to accommodate the population in the near future. In addition, many scientists began a campaign to warn governments around the world of the impending "overpopulation crisis” since the early 1980s.
In the second version of “World Scientists Warning to Humanity” (1992) signed by 21,000 scientists:
Scientists pleaded that we needed to stabilize the human population, describing how our large numbers—swelled by another 2 billion people since 1992, a 35 percent increase—exert stresses on Earth that can overwhelm other efforts to realize a sustainable future. -World Scientists Warning to Humanity (1992)
However, we must consider that these are hypothetical assumptions and not fact. If we were to believe anything population scientists said without impunity, we would be forced to bear the grave consequences of drastic actions based on short-sighted assumptions without a clear understanding of human and animal evolution. We have already seen the effects of what had happened in Australia recently, when scientists had been calling to cull the wildcat population in which the Australian government announced that it would kill 2 million feral cats between 2015-2020, which inadvertently caused a mouse plague.
Australian scientists blamed the wildcat for the loss of diversity of rare species in Australia, but after the govt killed 2 million feral cats, this action resulted in an unstoppable mouse plague. Photo: CSIRO
Hence, we must question shaky science based on statistics without the comprehensive understanding of the multidimensional facets of evolution, and refrain from launching drastic actions without ethical consideration that could inevitably lead to our own demise.
If we know anything about human evolution, it is that human ingenuity finds a way to solve our most pressing problems. We have to also consider that it is not longevity nor the increased lifespan that is causing the current ecological crisis. The reasons for our global ecological crisis may be complex and varied, but the declining birth rates in many developed nations such as Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Germany, China, Russia and many other nations paint a very different picture. In fact, it is the lack of access to education and lack of access to healthcare which causes birth rates skyrocket whilst life expectancy decreases.
Millions of people in India live without a sewage system. Photo by Amit Chakravarty
If we examine a nation such as India, a nation that currently has a population of 1.38 billion people, a significant portion of the people, 68.8% of the people live on less than $2 a day, without access to education and the government has been slow to modernise its infrastructure and areas of living. Millions of people live without sewage systems and running water, and there is a lack of a justice system for people who commit crime, with some people waiting decades before they see their day in court, and the local governments allow all sorts of abuses to occur in regards to child labour and also to the destruction of the environment by the corporations that have made India the destination site to dump all their waste.
We must also consider the United States, in which lobbyists convinced legislators that the environmentally unsafe practices of fracking were somehow a “gateway to green energy”, and now the US is one of the top nations with the most superfund sites (toxic waste dumping areas) in the world.
Is it overpopulation that is causing the ecological crisis or is it the unchecked tenets of neoliberal economics in which we allow corporations to unscrupulously destroy all our resources and dump toxic waste on our planet?
Chloera notice in the US from the 1830s warning people not to drink cold water. Multiple cholera epidemics in North America during the 19th century were caused by meat industries that dumped animal byproducts from slaughterhouses into nearby rivers, contaminating the fresh water supply in which farmers used to water crops and where many people utilised as a water source. When corporations are unchecked and put profit over the welfare of the people and environment, what generally occurs is the destruction of the environment and the launching of plague events.
Hence, the ecological problems we have today may have its root causes, not in overpopulation, but in our inherent economic system. Beginning in the 1950s, the tenets of neoliberal capitalism have created a consumption society in which corporations bear no responsibility in the amount of waste they create, nor have no compunction in the amount of resources they are willing to utilise and destroy, all for profit.
An endangered species in Australia: the wildcat. On the urging of Australian scientists, the Australian government killed 2 million wildcats, which they blamed for loss of rare species, however, their actions have launched a mouse plague and accelerated the further loss of biodiversity of rare species. Photo: newsbeezer
Australia can’t undo the millions of wildcats they have killed which launched a mouse plague. A mouse plague that is spreading and accelerating the decline of other exotic species and creating a breeding ground of disease and waste with millions of organic farmers who have lost their livelihood, causing another financial crisis. Yet this is what their scientists actively researched and promoted, they were so certain that Australia’s loss of biodiversity was the fault of the wildcat population.
"Science without ethical consideration isn’t science. It is akin to witchcraft."
We must consider that in our global world, science without ethics isn’t science at all. It is akin to a contemporary type of witchcraft in which we exploit the tenets of science in order to make sacrificial rituals of those we unethically experiment on. From giving Tunisian scientists nearly $400,000 USD to torture beagles in the infamous Dr. Fauci experiments to the Australian govt’s wanton lack of ethics in murdering 2 million wildcats, we cannot consider this “science” at all but more akin to the sacrificial rituals indicative of modern day witchcraft that have been deluded under the guise of statistical science.
We must think of what would happen if human life spans decreased and reverted back to levels of the 1800s-1900s, when most people died by 40 or 50. Is that the kind of world we would want to live in? With increased health spans, we have developed more innovation, retained more knowledge and applied wisdom and a potential for future generations to develop and solve our most pressing social, economic and ecological problems. In every generation, mainstream scientists simply cannot predict the ones who will become the black swans that change our world. Hence, we must understand that the ecological problems we face today are not due to overpopulation, but inherent in our economic system which is leading towards our destruction.
The Era of the Centenarian: What if “retirement” became obsolete?
83 year old Barbara Peters of the UK received the British Empire Award in 2022 as a ballet teacher. She recently passed the Royal Academy's most advanced ballet exam in 2020 as an octogenarian. Photo: Dan Rowlands, SWNS
99 year old Roy Englert began running at 60 and won numerous gold and silver medals since and recently participated in the 2022 National Senior Games. Photo: Doug Mills, NYTimes
Marita del Carmen Camacho, 111 years old, former first lady of Costa Rica, in a birthday celebration last year. Photo from the110club.com
If we were to extend the health span of humanity, people could be active for their entire life without the concept of “retirement”. Retirement is a concept developed in the second industrial era in which a person worked his entire life for one corporation, then looked forward to retiring at 60 and leading a life of leisure, but numerous research has shown that overall, people are not happy with this system and that many people often suffer from depression after retirement. In fact, people have been studied to be happiest when they were active, contributing to their communities and continuing to pursue education or have fulfilling jobs in which they continue to socialise with people. Despite that it might initially seem appealing, a life of delayed leisure is what most people really don’t want at the end of their lives.
"Retirement is a toxic word, it sends the signal that your productive life is over and now you begin a life of repose. If you have a sense of purpose and engaged with the world, there's a psychosomatic effect. Your body rises to it." -Dr. Thomas Perls and Dan Buettner, researchers on centenarians.
By reducing the health span and also the lifespan of humanity, we could be making a grave mistake which may have many unforeseen consequences. As humanity continues to evolve, we must envision a different kind of economic system for future generations, one in which we live in a no-waste society, one that holds corporations accountable for the use of resources and dumping of waste, and one that launches the kinds of societies in which lifelong education, and not profit is the goal of every individual.
The ideal population chart for a neoliberal economic system is one in which there are more young working age members in the population which resembles a pyramid (LT) . However, due to longer lifespans, the population chart is now beginning to resemble a reverse pyramid in many nations, in which there are more people 50+ over within a population (RT), which has concerned global governments around the world.
GDP, or Gross Domestic Product rating of nations is the universal determinant of “wealth” in our current economic system. However, because of GDP, we have launched a consumer society in which corporations often go unchecked and use all available resources in a continuous stream of output, often to the demise of our ecological harmony. From fast food to fast fashion to new versions of smartphones we need to buy every few years, all of our resources are used to produce mass amounts of products in order to gain profit, and not for the benefit of humanity which is causing the destruction of our planet.
Logan's Run (1976, dir: Michael Anderson) depicts a future society in which people are only allowed to live to the age of 30, then forced to die by their government. Two rebels, played by Michael York and Jenny Agutter, escape their domed society to see elderly people for the first time, happily living outside in a hidden sanctuary.
Many governments around the world are concerned about what would happen when the number of people 65+ and older outnumber young people, and how it would affect their GDP and various other social and pension programmes. One simple solution would be to increase the healthspan of every individual, so that in the future, a 60 year old would have the same health and stamina as a 30 year old, making “retirement” obsolete.
It would also eradicate the kind of health care system we have today, as we send off and isolate the elderly into hospitals and rest homes. Instead, we should envision a future society in which the elderly are just as active as young people, and continue to contribute and participate in society. As birth rates around the world decrease, it is preparing our planet in which we should expect to live longer, healthier lives. In the next step of human evolution, it is likely that in the Age of Longevity, our lifespans will increase above 100 years and governments around the world should prepare for a future in which an increase in healthspan would make the concept of “retirement” obsolete.
By Sierra Choi
When Russian missiles struck Kiev on February 24, 2022, people around the world were shocked by a Russian invasion of Ukraine. How could it be that the Russian Federation, a nation we have come to admire and have great respect for, and whose charismatic leader Vladimir Putin whom we had seen as a defender of Europe, betray the European community and do the very thing that we never expected him to do: to launch a full scale invasion of one of our own European nations?
The bombing of Kiev in Ukraine by Russian forces. Europe has not seen an unprovoked full scale invasion of one of their nations since WWII. Photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters.
On a superficial level, it appeared in the mainstream media that the US had suffered from weak leadership had been doing nothing to stop the buildup of Russia from invading Ukraine, but underneath lay a complex military strategy in its long-term strategy to deplete the Russian Federation of all its resources. In actuality, United States leadership was nothing but weak and never has been.
However, the US and NATO had long been planning for this Russian invasion, and had most likely been patiently waiting for its actualisation. This Russian invasion of Ukraine on the 24th of February has single-handedly catapulted and reinstated NATO’s dominance into the 22nd century, and also ensured the continual rise of the United States as the foremost military power in the world.
Background and Threats to NATO Dissolution
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is an intergovernmental alliance that was established in the aftermath of WWII in order to implement a system of collective security which had two prime objectives: one was to counter Russian communism and the second was to prevent another world war transpiring in Europe.
In recent years, NATO has come under close scrutiny and criticism for its foreign interference in the Middle Eastern regions, and many analysts and politicians have wondered about the necessity of NATO in an era where communism was no longer a threat, and which also marked the decades long end of Iron Curtain, with the disintegration of the former Soviet Union and the reunification of West and East Germany. People in the European Union were in no danger of a world war, and people were free to move across Europe in an open-borders scheme. There was no danger to European peace, and surely, Russia was no longer the threat it had been in the Soviet era since it was now reformed and part of our landscape of mutual trade and globalisation?
However, the dissolution of NATO would potentially end nearly a century of collective security in which NATO had prevented wars on the European front but which in recent years, has largely been seen as obsolete in an era of globalisation and relative peace on the European continent. As NATO struggled to find its relevance in the present and redefine its objectives there were two distinct threats that could enact NATO’s possible dissolution:
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s growing popularity in recent years could also be analysed as a direct threat to NATO objectives, despite that in previous decades, US President Clinton and President Bush had become closer to Mr. Putin in order to assess the potential viability of Russia potentially joining NATO. Although the result of those relationships eventually became strained when Mr. Putin had made several social faux pas, some by insulting President Bush's beloved dog during a pivotal time in which the Bushes had spent time with Mr. Putin at their vacation residence in 2007, had Mr. Putin been successful, Russia today could be part of NATO.
Former President George W. Bush with President Vladimir Putin in the summer of 2007. Mr. Putin had been invited to the Bush family holiday home in Kennebunkport, Maine and the two men had spent time fishing and getting to know each other. This holiday was a pretext for US assessment of whether Russia could be a reliable partner that could potentially join NATO. Photo by AP.
However, after this strained relationship became evident between former President George Bush and Mr. Putin, there remained one clear deterrent to NATO: If Mr. Putin were to successfully manage to build closer alliances with Europe, there would be a very likely possibility of Mr. Putin leading a future European army that would include many members of the European Union, which could displace and eventually make NATO obsolete.
These had been the preeminent threats to NATO’s possible dissolution, however, in recent events, NATO has found its revival of its primary objective, as a protector and guardian of European security and it appears that the Russian Federation no longer poses a threat to its dissolution, as Russia’s ties with the EU has been severed by their invasion of Ukraine, making NATO a necessary and important organisation for collective European security.
In the following, I’ll examine how the United States and NATO have dismantled the Russian Federation’s influence in Europe and also what China can expect in the coming future.
Ukraine as Bait: The Trojan Horse
“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak. If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him.” -Sun Tzu, The Art of War
“All warfare is based on deception. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected. It is through the dispositions of an army that its condition may be discovered.” -Sun Tzu, The Art of War
For months, the United States had been subtly and skillfully provoking the Russian Federation, by taunting Ukrainian and Georgian membership into NATO, yet ultimately stalling on their memberships for years, even decades on end. The United States also made public announcements that they would not become involved in the Ukrainian conflict and if Russia should attack, and that they would not send in American soldiers. The Ukrainian army would certainly be no match for the Russian army and it painted them as an easy target.
President Biden has surprisingly been the voice of calm and empathy during times of chaos. However, the team behind him include Secretary of State Antony Blinken, a mastermind PSYOPS military strategist who was part of the team that took out Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Photo by Leah Millis, Reuters.
The manner of the Afghanistan pullout had also been widely criticised, although, for the most part, the US had reached all its objectives in Afghanistan and there was no need to continue its presence there. However, media spin of these events made it appear that the Biden administration was weak and ineffectual, and that the US was a declining superpower when in reality, the United States was gaining strength on many fronts, in commercial, in trade, in foreign policy, and in its single-handed dominance in the distribution of the controversial nanovaccines produced by American companies all over the world.
The US often uses psychological operations (PSYOPs) in the media in order to convey selected information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning, and ultimately the behaviour of governments, organisations, groups, and individuals to lead them to believe that the US had a weak and ineffectual leadership and was a declining power when in fact, it was the opposite and growing in strength.
These circumstances set the perfect trap for the Russian government to make a move towards invasion of Ukraine, an invasion which would almost be too easy to resist. For months, the US used its social media campaign in order to enact a PSYOPs operation and utilise reverse psychology on the Putin regime, “not to invade Ukraine”. The Biden government sent out multiple press releases and videos that if Russia were to invade Ukraine, there would be “severe consequences”, but also that the US would not get involved in the conflict. These messages sent a signal to the Russian administration that it would be almost too easy to invade the Ukraine.
The effectiveness of "reverse psychology". Dominant personalities, such as President Vladimir Putin, have been studied to do the very thing they are told not to do.
We must consider the difference in cultural values in the mentalities of both the Russians and Americans and how they affect our behaviours. Americans tend to view rejection as motivation to try harder and try new methods and not take it personally, whilst Russians tend to embrace more of the pessimistic Asian mindset in which rejection was final and could not be altered. Hence, the successive rejections from the EU, NATO, and being ejected from G8 from 2014 were a series of signs to the Vladimir Putin regime that they were slowly being phased out of European and American circle of influence and membership in everything that had mattered to them.
However, when the invasion of Ukraine actually materialised, the US government was not surprised at all, and ready for Russia’s strike, but the majority of Americans and Europeans in the population were shocked. This was not the Vladimir Putin we knew. Here was Vladimir Putin, a man whom we admired and was rapidly growing in popularity; who was widely admired by the Western public despite being vilified in mainstream media; who was seen as a protector and defender type who could possibly lead the future formation of an European army, do the very thing that we didn’t think he was capable of, attack and invade one of our own countries.
Vladimir Putin with President Joe Biden at the US-Russia Summit in Switzerland last summer. Americans and Europeans alike were shocked when Vladimir Putin bombed Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022. He had been growing in popularity in Western media and was not thought of as a threat to Europe, but as a figure who would uphold and defend European security, not as someone who would threaten nuclear war against them. Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko, AP
Americans and Europeans have not witnessed war on our own lands for many decades, and it came as a shock to the global world that such a well-liked and charismatic man would suddenly turn on us and launch a full scale invasion one of our own nations in Europe. Although NATO has been involved in many wars in the Middle East, for the Western world, the Middle East is for the most part, psychologically not part of our everyday mindset and and a region in which there has existed many decades long ethnic and religious clashes before our presence there, whereas Europe was in a period of peace with open borders which had not seen an unprovoked attack and invasion from a neighbouring nation since WWII.
When President Putin was close to possibly invading Ukraine in 2014, after the annexation of Crimea, and the events in the Donetsk and Luhansk had been rapidly unfolding, former German Chancellor Angela Merkel immediately flew to Moscow and engaged in dialogue with Vladimir Putin for 6 hours without translators, as the two share fluency in both Russian and German languages and Mrs. Merkel masterminded the Minsk Agreements ceasefire that would save Russia from an uncertain future, if they had invaded Ukraine at that time.
Former Chancellor Angela Merkel understood Mr. Putin's psychology and she understood the fear and paranoia that had been a part of his life whilst the two had lived simultaneously but separately in the then authoritarian part of the Germany in the 1970s and 1980s, when Germany had been divided between East and West.
Mrs. Merkel had saved the Russian president from an unknown NATO fate in 2014, but the growing tensions were only temporarily put on hold, in the meanwhile, Russia’s span of global influence would soon grow under the charismatic leader, Vladimir Putin, in the following years, much to the dismay of the US government.
”It is US policy that psychological operations will be conducted across the operational continuum. It must be understood that psychological operations are conducted continuously to influence foreign perceptions and attitudes in order to effect changes in foreign behavior favorable to US national security objectives.” -Frank L. Goldstein, Colonel USAF and Benjamin F. Findley Jr., Colonel USAFR, Psychological Operations: Principles and Case Studies
However, the United States is unsurpassed in psychological warfare, and its campaign to lure the Russian Federation into an invasion of a European nation was percolating at the forefront, in order to rid itself of a danger to European security and also to elevate NATO status, and in recent events, it ultimately came to pass after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, leading to the unanimous approval, revival, and renewed trust and faith in NATO.
Consequences of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine
If we are to understand Russian cultural psychology, we must first examine its close development with the Mongol Empire. Although seemingly disparate cultures, the Mongols invaded the Russian cities in the 13th century and seized Kiev (1237-1242) and Moscow (1238) by pure unadulterated force. The Mongolians were akin to modern day super soldiers who showed their strength and might with their prowess in tactical skills and unprecedented power in war. Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire, was an ancient version of the alpha male, who grew up in poverty amongst warring tribes that were constantly battling one another, and used his intelligence and negotiation skills to unite disparate tribes which would become the ultimate fighting machine of the Mongol Empire, very similar to the leadership style of Vladimir Putin in Russia today. Genghis Khan's grandson Batu Khan, or Tsar Batu in Russian historiography was the most important precursor to the formation of the Russian Empire. The contemporary development of modern day Russia is in many ways derived from its pugilistic, protectionist and feudalistic Mongolian heritage.
"Putin expected an easy win here, but the reality has been quite the opposite...he's descending into something that I personally have never seen before." -Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin’s essay on the “Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians”, which he published in July of 2021, describes the 18th century development of the Russian Empire as descendants of Ancient Rus. He focuses on the commonality of “slavic people” and reiterates a necessity for “slavic people” to unite, namely Russians, Ukrainians and Belarussians. However, one of the most problematic features of the article, despite being eloquent and well-written, is that it actively promotes the development of an “ethnostate”, the very kind of promotion of an ethnostate as the Nazis and other fascists had claimed in which Europe had been seized by two successive World Wars in the early and mid 20th century when nations had been actively divided and promoted their own type of nationalism and ethnic identity as the superior race. This is ultimately at odds with the modern world in which multilateralism is the prevailing ideology.
The Russian Federation’s recent threats to Finland if they were to join NATO only reinforces the notion of Russia as a threat to entire European security
If we also look deeper into the possible motivations of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, we can also assimilate that many war profiteers on the side of Russia have much to gain from a war with Ukraine, in addition to the seizing of land and resources that would temporary align with Russia’s current political interests.
As Europe is rapidly transitioning towards green energy away from fossil fuels, the fossil fuel oligarchs who have enjoyed vast amounts of wealth must ultimately understand that their privileged days of profit are numbered, and this Ukrainian invasion ensures one last chance to enjoy high oil and gas profits before the green energy transition in Europe is finally complete. Even if we were to closely examine Nord Stream II, it was a venture more advantageous on the side of Germany than to Russia. Nord Stream II would temporarily give Germany and the rest of Europe a cheap and plentiful source of gas until their transition to green energy would take place. It also gave Russia an opportunity for closer relations with the EU, something Former Chancellor Angela Merkel had gifted and put in place for Vladimir Putin before she had left office.
German hydroelectric power plants. Germany set a new target for 100% renewables by 2035 due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in order to become completely independent from Russian fossil fuels. Photo by Voith Hydro.
However, for Russian oil and gas oligarchs, the manipulated scarcity of their natural gas resource and its subsequent high demand would elevate these commodities to extraordinarily high prices making them much more profitable in the short run, as we had witnessed during the gas crisis of the past winter in which such corporations as Gazprom recorded a 400% year-on-year record breaking profits. Nord Stream II would make gas plentiful and abundant to Europe, but would not garner as much profit as if Russia would trickle gas and manipulate its scarity to Europe in order to attain high prices. And most of all, a war with Ukraine would ensure to raise these profits even higher.
In regards to Mr. Putin’s motives, he must’ve certainly been influenced by his innermost circle, many of whom are oil and gas oligarchs and they could’ve potentially exploited Mr. Putin’s romanticised historical narrative of a reunification of Russia with Ukraine which had probably been on Mr. Putin’s mind since the 2014 annexation of Crimea, in order to suit their financial interests. However, we cannot also assume Mr. Putin was entirely naïve to the financial gains from his innermost circle due to the manipulation of scarcity of their fossil fuel exports.
Also on the side of NATO, there is much to gain from Russia’s aggression and invasion of Ukraine, as many military contractors had been suffering from a downtrend during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and now that President Biden has recently ended the occupation of Afghanistan, many military contractors no longer had a guaranteed source of revenue despite the recent surge in the export of weapons in the last year and this revival of NATO’s primary objective as a deter against Russia ensures that these private military corporations working with NATO will continue to profit for many years to come.
After an initial slump in defense contractor revenue during the pandemic, weapons and arms sales surged in the past quarter leading up to the Russian Ukrainian invasion.
As a consequence, the Russian Federation is now put in between a rock and hard place. They have lost trust of the European Union, their largest client base and they must now solely depend on exports to China for economic support. If the war in Ukraine is prolonged, it could be Russia’s undoing, as it would deplete all of Russia’s resources. ⅔ of Russian exports are fossil fuels in which the entire nation is dependent on. As a counteroffensive measure, the United States could also flood the market with fossil fuel products to drive down the price of oil and gas to further deplete the Russian economy. It is also looking clear that Europe will be looking towards America to supply them with gas, hence in the next few years, the fossil fuels industry in America is set to boom and reach new highs whilst Russia’s corporations will most certainly significantly decrease.
Switzerland broke a 200 year stance of neutrality and joined the economic sanctions on Russia. Photo from the world drafting federation.
Although economic sanctions would limit Russia’s ability for funding, they would still have access to cryptocurrencies and recently, the Bank of Russia tested XRP in order to bypass the SWIFT system. However, XRP has several key limitations: firstly, XRP is not an entirely decentralised platform as it is centralised with regard to protocols and acceptance onto the network, and also controlled by banks hence being susceptible to the same exact limitations, and secondly, XRP does not have a cap on total units issued, hence not a good store of value, and there exists strong potential for the US to manipulate XRP to create an artificial hyperinflation of Russian currency via XRP, completely banishing the wealth of Russians. An alternative to SWIFT is China's Cross Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS) which settles payments in the Chinese Yuan and 23 Russian banks are already part of this system. The downside is that it would make Russia much more dependent on China as ever before, having no other alternatives and creating a situation for Russia to become a potential vassal state to Chinese interests.
Russian ruble plummets 41% just 24 hours after sanctions are imposed. One Russian Ruble is currently less than one US cent.
All in all, the invasion of Ukraine has several dire consequences for the Russian Federation and if this war were to continue for a prolonged period, it is entirely possible that in just a couple of years, the modern day Russians who enjoy an open, privileged European lifestyle in Moscow and St. Petersburg may find themselves to be penniless in an economic state of hyperinflation and their lifestyles could be reverted back into the days of the pre-Gorbachev era, when Russians stood in queue to receive a single egg and piece of bread, which would ultimately lead to Revolution and the dismantling of the United Russia Party that could topple Vladimir Putin’s administration from the inside.
Ukraine as the Red Herring, All Eyes on Siberia
It has been said that due to rising seas levels and the melting of polar ice caps that temperatures around the world could alter northern regions into more habitable areas of industry.
One such area is Siberia, located in Russia, which is one of the most resource rich landmass on Planet Earth in which Russia has a significant advantage. However, the Russian Federation has not done much to take advantage in developing this region, and it is sparsely inhabited although Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had recently announced a plan to develop smart cities in Siberia.
No longer the icy tundra, Siberia's permafrost is melting from climate change. Siberia is set to become the most wanted resource-rich region in the world. Photo by Katie Orlinsky, NatGeo Image Collection.
In the near future, within as little as 30 years, Siberia has been hypothesised as becoming the most wanted region in the world, the new centre of capital, and currently many nations are interested in its development, including South Korea, which has floated the idea of “leasing” the Russian land in order to rapidly develop its economic and technological sectors, updating these Siberian regions into the modern world.
However, with the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is entirely possible that if a potential WWIII should further develop, that NATO could cut off these Siberian regions from Russia, leading to the amputation of Siberia from the Russian Federation as its future resource.
This would lead to a comprehensive American and European development of the Siberian regions, which would become the new Eurasian centre of education and technology and a mass migration event from climate change would bring the people of the Americas and Europe directly into Siberia.
An Opportunity for China: The Peacekeeper
President Xi Jinping has often been vilified in the media as a tyrant and dictator who has oppressed the Uyghur Muslims of China. The various disappearances of various Chinese entrepreneurs for months at a time have also raised suspicions of the Western world in which freedom of speech and democracy are held to the highest standards.
The Freedom Trucker Convoy in Ottowa, Canada amassed widespread global support whilst Prime Minister Trudeau had been criticised for taking on authoritarian power not representative of a democracy. Photo by David Chan, AFP/Getty Images
However, in recent weeks, the global world has also witnessed the oppression and violence against protesters in Canada at the Freedom Trucker Convoy, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau enacted the controversial Emergency Act in order to attain absolute authoritarian control over the rights of the Canadian people as video footage emerged of police officers trampling on innocent protesters, violence against journalists, along with the freezing of Canadian citizens’ bank accounts and the confiscation of the $10 million CAD the Trucker Convoy had raised in a GoFundME campaign to public outrage. However, citizens weren’t only the targets, so were the pets of citizens and the Trudeau government also made an announcement that any cat or dog present at the protest would be taken into custody and killed within 8 days if the protester did not pay for their release, of which they would ultimately be unable to due to their locked bank accounts. These seemingly blatant abuses of power by a democratically elected leader of a Western nation shocked the world and Mr. Trudeau has been compared to Adolf Hitler on social media.
President Xi Jinping at the UN Leaders Summit on Peacekeeping. Currently, Mr. Xi Jinping has an opportunity to become the peacekeeper in the Eurasian regions of Russia and Ukraine. As a friend of President Putin and committed to a lifelong alliance, Mr. Xi has the power of persuasion to prevent a nuclear WWIII. Photo by CTGN America.
President Xi Jinping, therefore finds himself in this precarious and also opportune situation in which he is caught between the vilified Russian aggression against Ukraine and recent events in Canada in which the world has witnessed flagrant abuses of political power.
Here at this point in time, Mr. Xi has a perfect opportunity to reshape his public image in order to gain favour with Western nations in order to further promote China’s Belt and Road Initiative, along with acting as a potential peacekeeper in the Russian/Ukraine conflict. Due to ubiquitous suspicions that China is planning a similar invasion of Taiwan as Russia had committed in Ukraine, President Xi can lay these fears to rest by making an unprecedented call for peace and the formal recognition of Taiwan as an independent nation. This single action alone could change the global perspective of China as a nefarious and land-grabbing nation that is not to be trusted and instead reinvent China’s image towards more of a democratic, multilateral nation that is in line with the socially liberal philosophies of European society. Gaining acceptance into European society would become the greatest advantage China could attain in order to facilitate its Silk Road 2.0, Belt and Road Initiative and also to become the future number one energy provider of the European Union.
It is also of importance that China gives up its ambition of creating a “world-class military” that surpasses the US. These actions are seen as threatening to US security and NATO, and will ultimately hinder and oppress Mr. Xi’s objective present in the Belt and Road Initiative. Mr. Xi must remember that the US and China had enjoyed a relative symbiotic relationship for many decades before China began plans to develop a military to counter US power. If China is to continue to rise as an economic powerhouse, Mr. Xi must consider doing so through its soft power and not its military power.
However, whether or not Mr. Xi's willingness to make compromises on these points are up for debate, although according to the Ancient Chinese military general and philosopher, Sun Tzu would probably advise Mr. Xi, as written in the Art of War that, “to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” And what better way to attract Taiwan to China’s side by officially recognising Taiwan and building trading routes that would benefit Taiwan directly? And what better way to promote the Belt and Road Initiative in all of Europe by working together with the US and making more comprehensive measures to align its interest with NATO?
President Xi Jinping has always been critical of foreign intervention in other nations’ sovereignty and has always promoted peace but he must also consider the legacy he will leave behind when he eventually leaves office as his successor might be eventually pulled into a potential future war with the United States. Laying the foundation now to ensure China’s future will require compromise with its European counterparts, even if it means recognising Taiwan and reconfiguring the Belt and Road Initiative to make it attractive to both NATO and the United States. This could be the safeguard measure to ensure that China becomes the energy provider of all of Europe in the near future.
NATO’s Leadership into the 22nd Century
In summary, Russia's full scale invasion of the Ukraine has solidified NATO’s leadership and have cast all doubts about its formation. Like it or not, NATO is here to stay, more unified and stronger than ever after the revival of its primary objective, to protect the collective security of Europe and North America.
What we can expect in the future is the permanent and growing presence of NATO stationed in all the European member NATO nations, and also the expedited entry of Scandinavian nations, such as Finland and Sweden into NATO.
A significant increase in NATO membership and its subsequent funding from member nations after the Russian invasion of Ukraine will also ensure the continued stature and elevation of the United States as the primary military power in the world.
Germany recently accounced a 100 billion EUR increase in its military budget to fund NATO. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the General Meeting of the Bundestag on Sunday, February 27, 2022. Image from DW.
The threats that could’ve accelerated NATO’s dissolution had been clear from the onset: Had Russia focused on building a closer alliance with Europe and eventually joined the European Union, this would’ve ultimately altered its current path. The Russian Federation, if it had begun to take steps to become a member nation of the EU, could’ve built its presence with the formation of an EU military to rival the US, limiting NATO powers, and eventually leading to NATO’s dissolution.
During the World Economic Forum in Jan of 2021: Klaus Schwab, Founder of WEF had asked President Putin what his plans were for the EU and if he would like to build a closer relationship with the EU? This gave Russia an opportunity to build trust and confidence with the EU nations, which could've eventually led to another bid for EU membership and the formation of a European army that would’ve ultimately replaced NATO
However, that is ultimately not the path that Russia decided to take, and instead it focused on re-living its glory days of the USSR, in which it regretted the decisions of its former leaders which led to its dissolution, but which ultimately also created a better standing of living for contemporary Russian citizens, centred in Moscow, in which Russians currently enjoy the liberal freedoms of a European lifestyle.
President Putin must ask himself now, what is the greater cause? To secure the future of young Russians or to secure the future of Russian oligarchs? Is Mr. Putin willing to become the face and martyr of a developing World War III in which a zero sum game of nuclear devastation is certain as NATO allies strengthen against him? Or is there another way? Could Mr. Putin and his administration possibly repair their relationship with the European Union and also with the US?
It is clear that it will be young Russians who will bear the brunt of this conflict, the Russian soldiers who are barely 20 years old fighting in a war they don’t quite understand, but who are willing to die for their country. President Putin must ask himself if this invasion of Ukraine and its acceleration towards a nuclear WWIII is worth sabotaging the future lives of young Russians? A war that young Russians did not ask for and did not want.
By Sierra Choi
Disclaimer: This article represents the opinions of the author, and may not necessarily be reflective of the people or organisations mentioned.
Before the formation of the European Union, a strong nationalism took reign in many European nations and there were many pretexts for war during the early 20th century. Ethnicity was the most often cited excuse for these political war games; Italians were prejudiced against the French, the French were prejudiced against the Germans, the British and Germans were prejudiced against each other and so on.
During these times where a sentiment of strong nationalism prevailed, dictators often took control in order to limit democracy and the freedom of the movement of people. In Italy, Mussolini took power and ruled with an iron fist, as did in Stalin in Russia and Hitler in Germany. World Wars impoverished nations, launched mass genocide and people lived in continual fear.
Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini took power in the early 20th century history of Europe and used "ethnicity" as a means to rage war and begin an era of totalitarianism. Stalin killed an estimated 25+ million of his own people in gulags. Hitler forced people into medical treatment they didn't want and doctors and scientists engaged in unethical medical, scientific and biological experiments with human subjects which led to the Geneva Convention of 1949.
The European Union was founded on a principle, of common values, of a respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. “In varietate concordia”, its motto means “united in diversity” and it became the overarching philosophy of a sometimes, imperfect union between many different nations.
In history, political organisations have used “ethnicity” in order to rage wars, but the truth is that people have more in common than language and cultural traditions. This is still true today, if we consider the animosities that exist between China and Taiwan, between Korea and Japan, between Pakistan and India, between Russia and the Ukraine, between Israel and Palestine. In fact, those neighbouring nations with whom we have the most in common often bear the brunt of the greatest conflict.
At the inception of the Treaty of Rome in 1957 which eventually transformed into the EU in 1992, something extraordinary happened, open borders in the Eurozone. Open borders allowed people to move freely between each nation, to discover what they have in common with their neighbours, and it became common for people to speak many different languages and an interchange of cuisine, philosophies, languages, textiles, and trade. No longer were the political bonds of “ethnicity” used as a power grabbing tool in order to launch unnecessary conflict. For the majority of us who have never witnessed any of the World Wars, it is strange to think now that Europe had ever been involved in such violent conflicts because there exists a relative peace and camaraderie between many different European nations.
The dreilandereck is the three-nation border between Germany, France and Switzerland. People are able to enjoy dining in Germany, walk across to France and enjoy some wine and then move into Switzerland to meet with friends in an open border situation that would have been unheard of during the World Wars in which territories were highly policed and violent conflicts were common. Photo by www.visitvillach.at
The recent migrant situation on the Belarus-Poland border reminds us of the necessity of the European Union in that, without European solidarity, these ethnic border clashes will continue in Europe, using migrants as pawns by certain political groups in order push their nationalistic objectives. Photo by Leonid Scheglov/Reuters.
The EU is not a perfect entity, rather it is a progressive work in progress. One in which it has to overcome its own bureaucracy, economic and political issues. The 2008-2009 global recession was its first test in testing the viability of the solidarity of the now 27 member EU nations. Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus, in order to avoid default received financial assistance from the IMF, but the eurozone crisis put pressure on Europe’s banking system, leading to the collapse of insolvent banks in several nations.
Brexit was the EU’s next test, fuelling a Eurosceptic sentiment that consequently rose in many nations questioning the policymaking of the EU, in addition to political parties that demanded a stop to open borders and a resurgence of nationalism began to take stage again.
Throughout these modern tribulations, we have become familiar with the leadership of Angela Merkel, who recently stepped down as the Chancellor of Germany after 16 years in office. We have seen her quiet calm in the face of crisis, and her no-nonsense way of dealing with economic catastrophe (“Your funds are safe, we will ensure they will be protected.”) in cyberwarfare (“We live in a time of hacking, it’s a fact of life, and we must get used to it.”) in immigration (“Every person who comes is a human being and has the right to be treated as such.”) in human rights (“When it comes to human dignity, we cannot make any compromises.”)
As the de facto leader of the European Union, the union was held together under her guidance, her vision and her leadership and now as she steps down, she gives us a dire warning: “Democracy is under attack.”
“Democracy is under attack.” -former German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Recently, the Summit for Democracy was hosted by the United States with some 100+ countries in virtual attendance adhering to the commitment it has made to democracy. Although it has been criticised by some organisations as being an empty show of words, we must remember that it is often during times of emergency and panic when democracy easily falters and degrades. According to the Freedom House press: “The coronavirus outbreak presents a range of new challenges to democracy and human rights. Repressive regimes have responded to the pandemic in ways that serve their political interests, often at the expense of public health and basic freedoms. Even open societies face pressure to accept restrictions that many outlive the crisis and have a lasting effect on liberty.”
Americans protest against medical tyranny. Photo by Jason Janik/ AP.
Hence, in this new era of the coronavirus, when civil and political rights are at an all time low, we must consider the new obstacles to democracy such as vaccine mandates and discrimination against unvaccinated people. Medical tyranny may be good for business, but during WWII, Nazi Germany taught us how easily Democratic Germany spiraled into a totalitarian state. The Nazis had mobilised the professions of medicine and psychology in order to use their population as guinea pigs for medical research, stressing the importance of “public health” and for all citizens to make sacrifices for the greater good, which only ended up in the debasement of democracy and human rights.
Global leaders around the world face a colossal challenge in their leadership in how they will respond to human rights moving forward as we live in the era of COVID.
Despite the anxiety and worry that gripped nations around the world as the pandemic made terrible strides into mortality, revealed the vulnerabilities in our health care system, and also brought to light the uncertainties and vagaries of medical science. Despite all the media show circus around the pandemic, the warring academics, the censured doctors, the confusion of misinformation, something beautiful also happened: Air pollution diminished, waterways became clear, life started again in the oceans.
The Year Earth Changed (dir: Tom Beard, 2021) is a documentary about the positive changes the environment had undergone during the pandemic lockdown.
The start of summer had been chaotic, marked dramatically with heat waves, flash flooding and perhaps, a prolonged sense of apathy from discontented mask wearers and inflamed protesters around the world against vaccine mandates as the world seemed in familiar disarray. Now, as the autumnal equinox signalled the start of the fall season, life has been slowly becoming normalised again, albeit with a few significant changes.
Our current era, which IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath has called “The Great Lockdown” generation, these significant changes seem to have captured the world in another display of transnational modernity, perhaps this time, in order to create a better and fairer world. In this article, I discuss 5 of the most progressive trends in the Age of the Great Environment Reset:
Trend 1: 3D printed food: the Transformation of Agricultural Industries
The human race used to be nomadic scavengers and foragers, moving from place to place in search of food before we developed agriculture and being able to control what we grow and eat as we had settled down in one location. Researchers have studied from carbon atoms in mummies that people from ancient civilisations were primarily vegetarian and that eating meat was only a recent phenomenon. (Eg, recent: last 300 years)
“In ancient cultures vegetarianism was much more common, except in nomadic populations. Most sedentary populations ate fruit and vegetables.” - A French research team that studied the carbon atoms of Egyptian mummies (3500 BC-600 AD) in order to determine what they had consumed as food.
Statue of Pharaoh Ramesses II "Ramesses the Great" at the British Museum. One of the greatest civilisations on the planet, the people of Ancient Egypt were studied by researchers to have been entirely vegetarian.
However, now we are at another juncture in history in which the method of how food will be produced has taken an auspicious turn: 3D printed food.
It is currently the practice to devote an entire land towards farming, and it is well known that a significant portion of farmland, crops and fresh water supplies go towards animal farming. With the world’s population projected to grow towards 9.8 billion people by 2050, it has been speculated by researchers that traditional agriculture won’t be able to meet the demands of the people as not enough space can be allotted simply to grow food. However, startups such as Spain’s Cocuus and Israel’s MeaTech 3D are 3D printing meat without the time, the land, the resources and the inherent cruelty involved in animal farming.
Spain's Cocuus and Israel's MeaTeach are 3D printing meat from stem cells taken from cows, saving energy, water, land resources and without the use of animal cruelty farming and slaughtering practices.
At an industrial scale, these changes when implemented into retail can greatly alter our animal farming industries, so that in the near future, meat can be free of toxins, diseases, antibiotics and the time, resources and labour it takes to raise an animal, so that the people who enjoy eating meat, can continue to do so without the cruelties involved in animal slaughterhouses. This is certainly a trend in which we can develop more protections for animals, focus our resources on maintaining extinct species, and continue to support our environment and infrastructure without the necessity of devoting land towards agriculture.
Trend 2: The Concept of Money: from Global Monetary Exchange to a Credit Clearing System
For anyone who has studied economies, it is well-known that national deficits were never intended to be paid off, hence the exponential growth in debt over time was a tool produced by Central Banks in order to control the flow of production output and natural resources.
Raising the debt ceiling by Congress has always been a form of theatre, in that there is no doubt that the debt ceiling will be raised as national debt was never intended to be paid off. Each year, US politicians make a dramatic spectacle of raising the debt ceiling. Photo by Brendan Smilalowski/AFP/Getty
However, after the financial crisis of 2008 when that system nearly collapsed, economists, researchers and govts have been looking towards what the future of money will mean and how we can transition from the era of globalisation in which the metrics of GDP has pushed many nations into a race towards consumerism, planned obsolescence and increasing debt, towards a more equitable society in which humanity can focus on evaluating its long term motives and goals as opposed to its short-term gains.
Diamonds, once considered rare, can be mass produced by nanotechnology. As we enter this "Diamond Age", the concept of scarity might soon become obsolete as more goods and products can be produced at scale in abundance without the use of earth's resources.
The concept of money is deeply rooted in the economics of scarcity, in which a limit in production but high demand led to its increased value. However, as we enter the new era of the 5th Industrial Revolution, scarcity might become a thing of the past. In previous eras, such as the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and such when materials became utilised for mass production, we are now at the cusp of what the writer Neal Stephenson has called “the Diamond Age” in which nanotechnology will encompass every aspect of production at the molecular level. A diamond, once rare and found in nature, can now be mass produced using nanotechnology. As we integrate nanotechnology in every aspect of our lives, from the biological delivery of personalised medicine, to production of materials such as textiles, to replication of natural resources such as diamonds, gold and oil, scarcity will become an obsolete concept, and hence our relationship with money will also ultimately change.
Despite that many smart investors have promoted alternate forms of currency and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, ultimately, they are still reminiscent of the old concept of money as a form of exchange and its monetary value that is still tied to other national currencies and moving forward, we will have to consider that instead of money itself, we will have to think of credit clearing systems as the most effective digital form of exchange.
Credit clearing system or clearing house could serve to tabulate the exchange of materials and goods between one group to another using distributed ledgers in a blockchain, bypassing banks and other 3rd party intermediaries. Central Banks could transform from monetary agencies towards credit clearing systems and local governments could place value on work and research that have long-term value within a society circumventing the use of currencies or "money".
As opposed to “money”, a credit clearing system or clearing house is a group of interconnected exchanges which tabulates the exchange of materials and goods between one group with another bypassing third party institutions, such as banks as intermediaries without the use of money. After WWII, when Europe faced financial crisis, WIR in Switzerland became one of the first organisations in which allowed companies to directly exchange goods and services with goods and services, completely bypassing the use of currencies, hence being able to subsequently survive the hyperinflation that occurred in many countries at the time which led many companies to become bankrupt and further led to an economic downturn.
Although money itself won’t probably be eradicated within the next decade, we are on the cusp of a new financial and economic system, and it could be that the Central Banks of today’s era will become the credit clearing agencies or clearing houses of the future that integrate societal progress and research, giving value to work and research that hold long-term value.
Nations such as China are developing an innovative “social credit” system in which those jobs that don’t have an active income, such as caretaking, attain social credit. If we consider the sort of jobs which have the most societal value, caretaking and educators are of primary importance, yet these are paradoxically also the jobs that are typically paid the least, or not at all, in much of the world. As we move towards the “Diamond Age” in which many service industry jobs will become eradicated through nanotechnology, robots and AI, much of the population will no longer have jobs that support them. Hence, as a society we must consider how to sustain our populations so that our societies become more equitable, more visionary, and more humanistic.
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the [dark] streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of the night.” - Allen Ginsberg, Howl
In our contemporary society, many social critics have commented that the best minds of our generation eventually decide to work in investment banking and finance, or develop yet another social networking platform or niche payment application, only to become disillusioned with its inherent lack of purpose. The motivation of “money” has fuelled a generation in which we place higher value on the development of trading algorithms than on primary school teachers who are responsible for the education of our future leaders. As our societies become more “feudal” in nature, with overwhelming vast wealth disparities at the cost of our environment, a new financial and economic system could be developed by the Central Banking System in order to smooth the transition from a “currency” based system, to a credit clearing system.
A scene from Star Trek: First Contact (1996 dir: Jonathan Frakes). Captain Jean-Luc Picard explains to a 21st century woman that the “economics of the future” are somewhat different and that “money no longer exists” and "the acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in their lives".
In this way, as we no longer grapple with the economics of scarcity, and live in an era of abundance fuelled by nanotechnology, robots and AI, we can input value into those jobs and positions which previously held little monetary gain, but which ultimately have high societal, long term value. Instead of the accumulation of wealth as an ultimate goal in itself, the collective goal of any local community would be to elevate its standard of living, promote the tenets of a circular economy, to solve its social problems, to eradicate poverty, to utilise design thinking and to create a more equitable society in which humans live harmoniously with other animals in the preservation of nature, instead of towards its destruction.
The concept of scarity is from the idea that resources and goods are in limited supply, hence its ability to harness high prices in the market. However, with the advent of nanotechnology which could mass produce any item or resource, the economics of scarcity may soon become obsolete, along with the traditional concept of “money” as its form of trade as we enter an era of abundance in what the author Neal Stephenson calls “the Diamond Age”. Illustration by Isabella C. Aslarus from the Harvard Crimson.
Currently, “money” in our society in terms of its psychological symbolism, may represent security, economic stability and freedom to do as one wishes. However, on the other side of the coin, “money” may also represent the destruction of the environment, the profit-at-all-costs Milton Friedman’s “greed is good” philosophy derivative of the 1950s industrial era and societal collapse of many cities, in which homelessless, poverty and drug addiction have wantonly taken over many major areas around the world. In a future economic model, the Central Banking system could modify the concept of money towards the credit clearing system, in which value is given towards members of the population whose positive engagement with society, research and work holds long-term value, but which may not necessarily immediately elicit short-term gains.
Trend 3: Couture for All: Customers as Designers
In the land of high fashion, there are only approximately 200 women in the world who can afford to buy haute couture. Haute couture refers to customised and personally tailored items of clothing produced by a fashion house made specifically for a client and these items of clothing can range between $30K-$300K+ and its accompanying jewellery worth millions. Despite the fact that only 200 women in the world buy such items per year, for the majority of the population, the made-to-order revolution has begun to take shape with many buyers opting for specially tailored clothes.
Ready-to-wear fashion primarily accounts for the rectangle figure in sizes, in which the bust and waist form a slim, rectangle shape without regard to variability in body shapes.
The problem with ready-to-wear fashion is that clothes are only made for one body type: the rectangle figure with generic, factory sizes that do not account for differences in body shapes. In addition, fast fashion is one of the most environmentally damaging industries in which millions of tonnes of waste are dumped into landfills, non-recycle items with toxic dyes seeming into the water supply. Although this business model was highly initially successful in the 1990s, beginning with many fast fashion brands taking the helm and churning out weekly cheaply made goods by slave labour factory workers in 3rd world nations, it has impacted our environment in detrimental ways, in addition to the push of consumerism and distorted body image which have negatively impacted the mental health of the population.
However, this fast fashion retail model was soon eclipsed by the direct-to-consumer eCommerce model with many companies selling directly to the customer at significantly lower prices, which have led to the downfall of many iconic American and British retailers (such as Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Sears et al) which has led to ⅕ of all department stores closing since 2018.
It then appears that people no longer want to go shopping at department stores or at malls, and I think this is a trend that will continue. Instead, a model of a consumer-driven product design is more likely to take shape in the near future. In some ways, the U.S. has been ahead of the curve with eCommerce companies using design interfaces for online customers to design their own jewellery, t-shirts and input their measurements for bespoke clothing (eg, typically formal wear such as suits and dresses).
Ready-to-wear clothes stocked at a shop. As we move towards on-demand specialised clothing, clothes would be produced only on an on-needed basis instead of sitting at a shop waiting to be sold, hence eliminating textile waste and promoting a circular economy. Photo by Markus Winker, upstream.
Alternatively, pop-up shops are already on the rise and other retail spaces can resemble the look of museums and art galleries in which old designs can be displayed and archived and walk-in customers can select from a variety of fabrics and garments and be personally measured for the clothing they would like made, as local tailors did in the 1800s and early 1900s. Hence, there would be no waste of products and materials, and everything would be targeted towards the ease of personalisation. As another benefit, these retail spaces could also receive old materials in order to be recycled, so that all materials can have a beginning-to-end circular economy product design to minimalism items that end up in the landfill.
If we are to consider the high cost of fast-fashion, and the negative impact it has on the lives of women who work in these industries in the current fast fashion factory model, as well as on the environment, we have to consider that in a future model of retail, there will no longer be ready-to-wear or items in stock for weeks on end, but that everything would produced on an as-needed basis, with every item having a life cycle from beginning to end, which could also actively be recycled, repaired or upcycled with ease from everything from shampoo bottles to mobile phones, and even clothes.
Trend 4: Design Thinking: The New Paradigm of Work and Education
It is a little known fact that between 1990 and 2010, in just two decades, the world’s population grew 30% or 1.6 billion humans with the highest numbers of people located in India. It was primarily during the first Industrial Revolution in which human populations began to grow at a rapid rate.
The mechanisation of work created a bilateral system of both slavery and leisurely lifestyles and a feudal era was borne. One of the growing problems with our current era is the growing wealth disparity in the population and the weakening of societal communities. In San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, London and beyond, poverty is often on full display, with many neighbourhoods falling into crime and disrepair. Some critics have cited the fall of Western values, and lack of a cohesive family unit, however, we must consider that the profit-above-all-else Milton Friedman model of economics was most likely the underlying blueprint for the breakdown of current society.
In the next 20 or 30 years, many of the jobs that provided people with stability will also disappear as more roles and positions will be mechanised and replaced with robots and AI. The former corporate model of employees working from 9-5 in a company office will no longer be relevant in the near future as more roles become flexible and virtualised so that people can work from anywhere in the world. It is also entirely possible that people will work less, and focus more on education, self-improvement and research.
During the first industrial revolution, people worked for 12 hours a day, from early dawn to midnight, often under harsh conditions. Children and women also worked in factories all day and it wasn’t until Queen Victoria in the UK mandated that all children be allowed to have an education that put an end to child labour. The US followed some 100 years later until child labour was eradicated in America. The new corporate model took place, adopting the 8 hour sleep + 8 hour rest + 8 hour work day or the 9-5 which was first articulated by British social reformer Robert Owen, then later adopted by the American entrepreneur Henry Ford. In this model of work, equal time was given to sleep, work and rest. However, more and more, we are beginning to see the flaws of this workday, in which presence at a corporate office is often unnecessary and not conducive to productivity.
Our current educational model is dependent on an industrial factory model of thinking, in which stresses a correct answer in multiple choice format, mimicking factory workers who are told what to do. Post-scarcity, design thinking or a creative problem solving process will become more commonplace in which many industries will be replaced by AI and design thinking will be necessary in many sectors such as medicine, genetics, science, technology and education which require constant innovation.
Despite that in the post WWII era, working long and hard hours signalled virtue in society, in contemporary society, more people are adopting the “work smart” method in which long hours at the office are often seen as detrimental to one’s mental and psychological well-being. With the advent of burnout and the era of the “suicidal salaryman” in Japanese and American cultures, the negative side effects of working long hours have been recanted by popular writers such as Tim Ferris who promoted a 4-hour-work-week. Although a 4 hour work week is probably not attainable nor realistic for the vast majority of the population, this is something that could potentially take effect as we enter the 5th industrial era in which many jobs will be replaced by AI and robots.
As politicians and technology founders discuss the feasibility of UBI (universal basic income) in an era where most work will be automated, we have to consider how we can integrate the virtualisation of work into this model. What is the clear is that old model of education, based on the factory model of industrial production, stresses the importance of multiple choice tests within a closed set of answers is detrimental to design thinking, and moving forward, we must develop a new system of education that integrates creative problem solving processes.
Trend 5: Space as the Final Frontier: the Militarisation of Space
President Joe Biden finally did what no President had done before him, put an end to the debacle that was the Afghanistan War. Although this decision was entirely unpopular amongst many members of other national governments, including MPs in UK, who have staunchly criticised him, President Biden and his cabinet members had the foresight to see into the future to understand that the situation in Afghanistan would only progressively get worse.
“After 20 years I've learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces.” -President Joe Biden
Despite the fact that the US spends the most on military technology and advancement, the simple fact is that wars are not often won with the most advanced technology. In the book, “Unrestricted Warfare” written by Chinese Military generals Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, they analyse the underlying weaknesses inherent in US military strategy. They compare the US to Soviet Era Russia in which the latter collapsed due to the military burdens that were too difficult to bear, and also the use of soldiers in mass formation, resulting in massive casualties. In addition, Chinese generals criticised Americans as “slaves to technology” in which spending vast amounts on the development of a single B2 bomber plane served as a penchant example.
“Americans have not been able to get their act together in this area. This is because proposing a new concept of weapons does not require relying on the springboard of new technology, it just demands lucid and incisive thinking. However, this is not a strong point for Americans, who are slaves to technology in their thinking...In 1982, the US Air Force estimated that it could produce 132 B-2s with an investment of $22 billion. However, eight years later, this money had only produced one B-2. Based on its value per unit weight, one B-2 is worth three times its weight in gold…” excerpt from "Unrestricted Warfare" by Qiao Liang & Wang Xiangsui
These astute Chinese generals also cite the Vietnam War and how the presence of US soldiers only led to more bloodshed and casualties, as the local population were dispersed and evaded detection, and by using roundabout tactics and asymmetrical warfare which only prolonged the war, despite the native group’s lack of access to advanced military weapons. Hence, these generals specify that the US strategy of possessing the most advanced weaponry often does not lead to favourable outcomes in wars with a population that can actively hide and evade, but would only serve to further deplete their resources in continual unending wars.
Furthermore, they analyse new concept weapons such as kinetic-energy weapons, directed energy weapons, subsonic weapons, geophysical weapons, meteorological weapons, solar energy weapons and gene weapons as ultimately replacing the battlefield of soldiers on the ground. And many of these new concept weapons can be controlled through satellites in space, which takes us to the 5th trend, the militarisation of space.
General Milley and Defense Secretary Austin at the recent Congressional hearings on Afghanistan held earlier this month Oct 2021, both carefully evaded answers and made no mention of the deal that had been presumably struck with the Taliban. Although the Biden Administration has been heavily criticised for prematurely removing all US troops from Afghanistan, in modern warfare, wars will be conducted entirely in space without the need for human soldiers on the ground, and the actions of the Biden administration prevented a much longer prolonged war that would have only led to more bloodshed. Photo by Stefani Reynolds, The NYTimes/Pool/AP.
The Afghan army trained by the US military abandoned all their bases without putting up a fight after the US troops evacuated, letting the Taliban take over without any weapons raised. However, the Afghan army previously had a history of doing the same thing consistently over the last 3 years and it is clear that after 20 years, the people of Afghanistan were simply tired of fighting each other. Secretary of State Blinken, General Milley and Defense Secretary Austin most likely all knew this would be the case, hence it was inevitable that the best method moving forward was to negotiate and work with the Taliban, and help shape its future in the transitory era before fossil fuels become obsolete. Photo by Anja Niedringhaus, AP.
Hundreds of birds found dead in Rome, 2021. Photo by a banned twitter user.
Millions of fish found floating dead in Redondo Beach, California, 2011. Using satellites in space, kinetic energy weapons and directed energy weapons can cause selective destruction on a particular species of animals, or even an entire population of people. Photo by Alex Gallardo, AP.
Geophysical and meteorological weapons have become more powerful and have led to a swift outcome than conventional wars with soldiers on the ground and has been labeled "warfare with no blood" despite civilian casualties. It has been extrapolated that the US miliary has been employing geophysical warfare since as early as 1967. However, the use of environmental modification techniques have caused many extreme weather conditions which have led to climate change. Photo from St. Louis Science Center.
The 2011 earthquake/tsunami duo crippled Japan’s economy, caused approximately $360 billion in damage and prevented Japan from mass production of its much anticipated hydrogen cell powered cars, in which they held all the patents. 4 years after the tsunami/earthquake, Japanese companies released all its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle patents to be free to use. As nanotechnology replaces the need for much of the world's resources, fossil fuels will no longer become the dominant energy source in the world. Photo by Kyodo News, AP.
It is clear that wars in the future will not be the traditional wars of past generations, of men in striking military attire, firing shots at the enemy, or even launching supersonic missiles. Instead, wars will be conducted entirely in space, using global positioning satellites in order to wreak environmental havoc on target groups, whilst drones, AI, robots and the use of nanotechnology could easily survey vast land areas without the need for soldiers on the ground.
However, the concept of war itself may become obsolete, such as scarcity itself. As global leaders position themselves to become the peacemakers in “the Diamond Age”, it is necessary to consider that wreaking widespread environmental havoc and the concomitant acceleration of climate change is parallel to the development of nuclear weapons, in which quickly becomes a zero sum game, where there will be no winners.
In a world where all the superpowers possess the same weapons of mass destruction, the only outcome of survival is collaboration, as aggressive actions will quickly lead to a zero sum game, in which no one wins. The militarisation of space must be a multi-national endeavour in order create environmental stability and preserve ecological harmony.
The old adage, “In order to secure peace, we must prepare for war” no longer applies in our brave new world. Instead, the militarisation of space must be a multi-national endeavour to create environmental stability, further research, preserve ecological harmony and to protect and build sustainable landscapes which will populate the earth with bountiful species and life instead of fast tracking our future towards a vast dystopian wasteland of toxic, radioactive and nuclear waste in which endless wars consume much of the population.
Currently, China has plans to become the foremost space power by 2045 and with the new development of the US Space Force, many analysts have commented that China and the US are already deeply engaged in a space race. The US Defense Space Agency also labeled China and Russia as the biggest operational threats to the US in space in June 2020.
However, with the Russia Federation as the Eurasian bridge to the world, this presents an unique opportunity for Russian leaders to act as the intermediary between the East and West and to collaborate with both China and the US in order to further explore space with the collaborative intent of procuring peace. Russia could be the nation that finally puts an end to the US-China superpower rivalry, and be the final peacemaker that promotes the new economics of ecological and environmental biodiversity into the Diamond Age.
By Sierra Choi
One of the most innovative technologies to advance the field of nanomedicine has been the lipid nanoparticle delivery system in genetic medicine - and also their current use in COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
Inside a lipid nanoparticle. Illustration by Precision Nano Systems.
Lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) and Solid lipid nanoparticles (SLNs) are bioactive organic molecules that can easily penetrate cells, making them the ideal vector for cancer treatment.
Nanoparticle drug delivery in cancer treatment. Illustration from Science Direct, Journal of Advanced Research, Volume 15, Jan 2019, pp. 1-18.
Whereas in conventional cancer treatment, invasive surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatment are often the normal modes of treatment, lipid nanoparticles can deliver drugs directly to cancer cells reducing their toxicity on the body. In addition, the cancer cells that absorb the nanoparticles can be destroyed through infrared light (which heat up the nanoparticles and hence causing cell death).
In vaccines, lipid nanoparticles can directly enter the cell and have the ability to modulate cell fate, induce or prevent mutations, initiate cell-to-cell communication and modulate cell structure, which makes them entirely powerful in their ability to affect cells at the nano-bio interface.
However, because lipid nanoparticles are bioactive organic molecules, they are easily cleared by the body through the kidneys, and prevent extending circulation throughout the body. It is through this reason the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have used a method of PEGylation in order to extend the half-life of lipid nanoparticles in the bloodstream.
Nanoparticles are often coated with PEG (a non-biodegradable polymer, or plastic) in order for it to stay in the body for a longer time. Illustration from Biopharma PEG
PEGylation is a system in which lipid nanoparticles are coated with polyethylene glycol (PEG) which is a hydrophilic coating polymer, a type of water-attracting plastic, a petroleum byproduct and known human and animal carcinogen in high quantity. Despite the fact that the use of PEG has been cleared to be generally non-toxic in low doses, the long-term effect PEG coatings have on the nanoscale level on cells is largely undetermined.
Cytoplasmic vacuoles (arrows) are associated with variable levels of PEG immunoreactivity in the heart (A) kidney (B), choroid plexus (C), lung (D, E), and spleen (F, G). These vacuoles cause cell death or cancer. Image by James T. Alston, ResearchGate
Studies have shown that with the use of PEGylated therapeutics there have been multiple incidences of cellular cytoplasmic vacuolization (small vacuoles develop adjacent to cells causing cell death or cancer). PEG-induced vacuolation is especially problematic because there are no long-term effects on its toxicity on the presence of PEG in cells.
In addition, nanoparticle vaccines that utilise PEGylation have been shown to break through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) through active transcytosis, and it has been documented that the exposure to hydrophilic coating polymers on brain tissue have caused multiple brain lesions and also induces a cerebral foreign body reaction.
MRI of a brain of a 52 year old woman who developed cystic and necrotic changes in the corpus callosum of her brain after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine; she was diagnosed with IDH-wildtype Grade IV glioblastoma. Image from Cureus.
Adverse reactions to the lipid nanoparticle COVID-19 vaccines have included fever-inducing seizures, demyelinating diseases, and other neurological conditions in which medical experts are not in consensus regarding the cause. However, these severe adverse reactions could potentially be caused by the presence of PEG in cells, subsequently breaking through the blood-brain barrier, causing vacuolization in brain tissues which could lead to long-term neurological disorders.
The delivery of lipid nanoparticles in medicine has been revolutionary, but many of the long-term effects are still yet unknown. Exposure to PEG has been shown to have cytotoxic effects, despite its rating as a non-toxic agent in vaccine delivery systems. However, we must consider in the field of medicine that much is guesswork and still unknown, but that research has definitely shown that exposure to PEG in brain tissues has been known to cause long-term neurological damage in addition to causing vacuoles in cells.
President Joe Biden, with his son, Beau, who had passed away in 2015 from glioblastoma after serving in the Iraq War. During times of pandemic, our political leaders do the best they can to ensure the safety of the population by mass vaccination campaigns. However, we must remember that our political leaders are not medical researchers, and often blindly trust the opinions of big pharma lobbyists. Recently, President Biden mandated the COVID-19 nanovaccines for US workers. Image from the New York Times.
Due to the relative expediency and unknown track record of nanovaccines utilising PEGlyation, it is imperative that we have to consider what we do not yet know. A mandate of vaccines in the past, such as the Anthrax vaccine for US military members had been entirely unsuccessful in its campaign and only served to create controversy in the harmful effects it had on service members along with fueling distrust and dissent in the population towards the government.
Mandate of vaccination campaigns in the past only led to fueling distrust and dissent amongst the population and against its government. Image from the documentary "Direct Order" (2003) which focuses on the US Military Personnel who were ordered to take the anthrax vaccine against their will and suffered life-changing adverse health effects as a result. Soldiers who refused to take the vaccine were court-martialled and dishonourably discharged.
"Youth is our future" is the motto of the people of Saudi Arabia. However, a mandatory COVID-19 nanovaccine campaign could potentially sabotage the innovative, growing nation undergoing transformation, as the long-term effects of nanoparticle vaccines on neurological functions are still yet unknown. Image of graffiti art in Saudi Arabia from commonspace.eu
The long-term effects of exposure to PEG-coated nanoparticles that are able to break through the blood-brain barrier can have severe long-term consequences not yet visible in a young population such as in Saudi Arabia, where more than 50% of the population are young people studying at universities and young people represent 2/3 of the Kingdom's population.
In the 1950s, the polio vaccine had been administered to hundreds of thousands of American youth, who decades later developed incurable cancers due to the then unknown strain of Similan virus from which the polio vaccine had been produced. Likewise, the long-term effect of PEG-coated nanoparticles which are able to break through the blood-brain barrier may take decades to unravel in its effects on neurological functions, and may unwittingly sabotage the youth in nations such as Saudi Arabia, which is at current time undergoing a Renaissance as an intellectual and cultural centre.
Despite that PEG has been labelled as a safe, inert and non-immunogenic synthetic polymer, numerous PEG-related toxicological and immunological issues have raised questions about its safety and efficacy in the delivery of nanomedicine.
The AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines utilise a traditional viral vector using viral nanoparticles as its delivery method. Although the chimp adenovirus has been reportedly utilised in order to reduce potential side effects, many serotypes of adenoviruses are able to cross the blood-brain barrier.
AstraZeneca uses an adenovirus (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) which has been genetically edited with COVID-19 has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier which have caused cerebral sinus venous thrombosis (ie, blood clot forms in the brain’s venous sinuses, and prevents blood from draining out of the brain) amongst some patients who have received the vaccine.
The blood-brain barrier. Stock image.
The blood-brain barrier prevents neurotoxic plasma components, blood cells and pathogens from entering the brain. However, because the COVID-19 vaccines create an antigen response, and can also cross the blood-brain barrier due to its use of nanoparticles, this may cause irreparable damage to neurological functions. Guillain-Barré Syndome, a disorder that damages the nervous system causing muscle weakness has been diagnosed in multiple case studies of those who had taken the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
In addition, the use of nanoparticles in a microcarrier cell culture system has shown that in short-term studies, nanoparticles can cause severe problems such as cytotoxicity in both limited and chronic exposure, and its long-term effect on human health is unknown.
Radium, once thought of as “harmless” was used widely in the 1920s, and was popular due to its illuminating, glowing qualities and often used in paints and in watch dials. However, it was discovered some 30 years later of its carcinogenic qualities as people began to suffer from radiation poisoning and was finally banned in 1968. Likewise, although nanomedicine has many great potentials, the full extent of how exposure to nanoparticles affect the human body is not known but limited studies have shown that nanoparticles can cause toxicity in the human body and cause inflammatory responses.
The administration of nanoparticle vaccines may show immediate adverse effects in immunocompromised people, but may take decades before its long-term effects are fully known in healthy people. Hence, we must consider the pros and cons of what we prioritise during a pandemic whilst looking long-term into the safety and intellectual integrity of our future populations.
We must also consider that coronaviruses are relatively common and viruses will always mutate. Medical researchers have stated that at some point in our lives, everyone will eventually be infected with one or more strains of the coronavirus. Is it feasible to mandate nanovaccines in a population in which the long-term effects are unclear?
Nations like Norway have decided to “live with COVID-19” and has lifted all restrictions and has no intentions of vaccine mandates. Image from schengenvisainfo news
Google (Alphabet) has mandated vaccines for its employees in order to return to work on its campuses. Google Ventures (GV) has invested $27.1 million in Vaccitech, the startup that developed the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines. Recently, Vaccitech filed an IPO for a valuation around $700 million. Sarah Gilbert, one of the founders of Vaccitech is set to receive more than a $27 million payout for her development of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Image from cityam
Several US states are banning a vaccine mandate by employers and educational institutions. Image from the NYTimes.
Despite the potential of nanomedicine and the revolutionary new methods of drug delivery using nanoparticles, the ultimate question we must ask is: Is the treatment worse than the disease itself?
By Sierra Choi
Disclaimer: This article is not intended as medical advice and is for educational purposes only, in order to stimulate rational dialogue and discussion. This article also represents the opinions of the author and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organisations she works with.
For many of us, who have only witnessed the numerous conflicts in the Middle East from afar, have probably never really visited the Middle East, nor have considered nations such as Saudi Arabia as a holiday destination or of progressive innovation. Despite the fact that Dubai has become an international city that has been open to tourism for many decades, the rest of the Middle East has somewhat always been an elusive mystery.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched his Vision 2030 plan in order to connect 3 continents into a renewable green energy powerhouse and empower sustainable development.
Since becoming the Crown Prince in 2017, Mohammed bin Salman had made a progressive announcement to launch his Vision 2030 plan to completely revitalise the nation of Saudi Arabia from an isolated nation dependent on oil to a “new Europe” which would embrace sustainable development, green energy, diversify its economy and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism.
The young prince also took on the rights of women, and eradicated many religious laws and overturned a ban on women needing male escorts to move around freely, and have allowed them to attend sporting events and drive cars. In addition, Saudi women are now able to independently apply for passports, register for marriage, divorce and birth. These kinds of changes have overturned a century of laws that have only served to limit and oppress women by a single acting Crown Prince.
However, his radical changes to revitalise the Middle East and end an era of women’s oppression were not without its critics, both internal and external, and one of the more well-known public critics had been the late journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who had been cruelly murdered in October of 2018 whilst he had been visiting Turkey.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has effectively dismantled the status quo in Saudi Arabia and there are many within its Royal ranks who would like to see him replaced with a more conservative leader to return to a century old dominant energy industry of fossil fuels. Photo by Alastair Grant, Associated Press
Internal factions also arose within Saudi Arabia’s hierarchy, with many princes wanting to edge out Mohammed bin Salman for the Crown in order to return Saudi Arabia to its oil dominant industries and religious law of the land limiting women’s freedom. However, in Saudi Arabia, ⅔ of the population is under the age of 35, and the majority in the population welcomed the Crown Prince’s new reforms.
Many attempts to pin the killing of the Saudi dissident journalist Mr. Khashoggi had been given credence by numerous mainstream media outlets, asserting that the Crown Prince had been the one responsible for the murder, to the extent that the Crown Prince even gave a rare interview despite being a rather private individual, he went on American television to deny the charges and that he had anything to do with the assassination of the journalist Mr. Khashoggi.
“The threat to Saudi Arabia is not a dissident journalist, but the people who would commit such a heinous crime against such a journalist.” -Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
The US Office of National Intelligence even published its findings in February of this year, and in this slim 4 page document, absolutely no evidence was presented connecting the Crown Prince to the murder. In fact, the name of the agency that had made the assessment was neither visible nor clear and only appeared to be making a speculative analysis based on no information supporting its assessment in what appears to be a likely smear campaign.
The publication of the US National Intelligence provided no evidence supporting the assessment of the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi despite its statement of the contrary and instead published what appears to be a single page of pure speculation by an unknown agency.
There is no doubt that Mohammed bin Salman has stirred up controversy with his many progressive reforms, and many industries are weary of his ability to dismantle the status quo. There is also no doubt that Mohammed bin Salman, a powerful and charismatic figure in the Middle East, has made many enemies from within its Royal ranks who would like to see him replaced with a more conservative leader who reverts to the century old status quo. However, there is also no doubt that Mohammed bin Salman is exactly what Saudi Arabia needs, in order to move forward towards a new era of progressive change in which he has shaken up the entire Middle Eastern region into a new kind of Renaissance that is alive with innovation, design thinking, sustainable design, green energy and the launch of women from behind the veil to come out into a class of their own.
Our story begins with a TV show called Servant of the People, in which a high school teacher suddenly becomes the President of the Ukraine after a viral video captures the heart of the public. However, this fiction soon became reality in 2019, when the leading comedy actor of the hit TV series, Volodymyr Zelensky was unexpectedly elected the President of the Ukraine, winning over all the incumbents, with help and support from the media tycoon billionaire Igor Kolomoisky.
“The U.S. are forcing us to be at war, and not even giving us money for it...if you get smart with us, we’ll go to Russia. Russian tanks will be stationed near Krakow and Warsaw and your NATO will be soiling its pants and buying Pampers.” Igor Kolomoisky
The media tycoon and billionaire Mr. Kolomoisky may be adept at playing the US against Russia in order to extort money to fuel a new WWIII and with members of the Biden family under active investigation, for its financial ties to the Ukraine, President Biden has been all too happy to oblige to support the comedian President and his billionaire financier, who have begun to violate the Minsk Protocol Agreements of a cease fire and have rejected President Putin’s calls of a peace agreement.
As a bit of background, Mr. Kolomoisky’s support of the former comedian as Ukrainian President was most likely inspired by former President Trump’s rise to power in the United States, as a television personality and outsider to politics who suddenly gained traction and power in 2016. It is probable that Mr. Kolomoisky attempted to re-create this scenario into a show for Ukrainian audiences on his network, and by using a personable, likable comedian to eventually oust the old political incumbents.
After the inauguration ceremony, Ukrainian President Zelensky consolidated power by dissolving Parliament on May 20, 2019. Photo by AFP
Since rising to power, the billionaire tycoon and the newly elected Ukrainian President Zelensky quickly consolidated power by dissolving Parliament, and appear to have been actively launching their own agenda to actively woo the Biden administration for promotion of war against Russia in order to fastrack Ukraine’s membership to join the European Union and NATO.
This wouldn’t be the first time an actor became a President (eg, President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s funded by the fossil fuel industry billionaires), after all, the line between entertainment and politics is often blurred. However, as likable as Mr. Zelensky is in his comedic roles, the current situation presents a clear and present danger to the future of NATO, the United States and the European Union.
NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) comprised of 30 North American and European countries has been an intergovernmental military alliance of collective defence. Initially formed to deter communism, in recent years, NATO has been primarily active in the fossil fuel wars that have defined much of our generation.
In recent decades, NATO has been under fire for its actions in the Iraq War, Afghanistan War and its destabilisation of Libya in which horrific images of the assassinated Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi surfaced on the internet, sent shockwaves around the world, and which began a domino effect in which other nations, such as China, began building up their own military to counter NATO’s unchecked power. The public perception of NATO is that it is no longer seen as the “liberator of global freedom”, but of a militant force engaged in a perpetual war state without any oversight and compunction. Hence why as of late, NATO has not only faced more doubt and criticism from its European allies, but also through strong public sentiment and calls for its disbanding.
There is no doubt that NATO is going through an existential crisis, with many member nations in disagreement about its future. Its funding is also clearly skewed, with the United States taking the brunt of the funding along with the UK, Greece, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Romania, Poland and Bulgaria, whilst other member nations have contributed far less such as Germany, Canada, Spain and Italy.
The Marvel series Avengers may be based on NATO as the two organisations share many parallels including a divided faction on its future trajectory.
However, what is clear is that NATO’s leadership has been lacking guidance, with some members acting without consulting its allies (eg, Turkey’s recent offensive launch in Syria), and has even been referred to as “brain dead” due to members' lack of foreign policy strategy and also of its overt gender discrimination against women.
NATO currently is a house divided, and in dire need of a restructuring and a Board of Ethics in order to comply with their Code of Good Conduct as delineated in its articles. To maintain its anchor in uncertain times, NATO must also reconsider its perception of the Russian Federation, with its own formidable military, not as an adversary but potentially one of its own members which could help shape its future security. Russia’s membership into NATO could strengthen NATO’s global alliances, build confidence in the EU along with becoming one of its major investors, therefore easing US’s funding requirements in addition to another key strategy: deterring both the EU and China from building up their own military presence which could lead into decades of a new Cold War.
China’s history reveals that it is one of the one most innovative civilisations in the world, comparable to Ancient Egypt, in its proliferation of technology, art, materials, and infrastructure. However, its new ambition to focus on the building of a military comparable to the US would most inevitably launch a new Cold War Era that could span many decades into the future. With Russia’s membership into NATO, it would most certainly transform NATO towards the future, realign its global strategy away from the perpetual war state and implement global stability in a way to mitigate China from becoming the new military force in the world.
HOW VLADIMIR PUTIN AND ELON MUSK COULD ALIGN THEIR INTERESTS TO PREVENT WORLD WAR III AND LAUNCH A NEW WORLD ORDER
At first glance, the two men seem to make an unlikely pair, after all what have they got in common? But upon closer analysis, the two men appear to share a similar philosophy of the world.
The American public have likened Elon Musk as Iron Man whilst Vladimir Putin has been depicted as Hercules.
It is without doubt that international cooperation is necessary for rapid advances in technology because ultimately an open framework of collaborating researchers always fuels the most innovation.
Despite Russia’s reputation as being technologically closed to the international community, Russia is not a stranger to imported technology: Samsung monitors, Apple iPhones and other devices produced by companies outside of its nation are readily available for public consumption. However, the fact of the matter is that in the contemporary world, all technology is built to spy and monitor the population, from robots to mobile devices to TV monitors and even printers and internet routers.
China has been actively wooing foreign scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs in their 1000 Talent Initiative to give legitimacy to their projects. Opening Russia’s borders to international talent and actively engaging in international collaboration could launch it as the new Eurasian tech capital of the world.
Recently, the Russian government has been considering fining Russians for potentially using SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet despite the fact that Starlink offers an opportunity to connect Russia’s vast 11 time zones in remote areas such as in Oymyakon and rural localities where people may not have access to the internet. In addition, satellites communicate with gateway terminal ground stations which must be geographically located in Russia, hence subject to the government for communications monitoring, therefore not being able to bypass Russian monitoring of online activities.
A collaboration between Starlink and Russia’s Sphere programme could be an exciting opportunity for Russian scientists and researchers to work together with the private sector, through SpaceX. Currently, Sphere needs $20 billion in funding and is set to launch in 2025. This is an extraordinary funding amount for Russia, whose GDP is $1.7 trillion and whose scientists only receive an average pay of $250 per month. The Sphere project could potentially bypass this funding criteria by utilising Starlink satellites which have already been deployed; 1000 Starlink satellites have already launched and there are plans to deploy a total of 42,000. Through international cooperation and the sharing of data, Starlink could also be utilised in other areas of Eurasia, such as the Ukraine. It is to the benefit of Russia to be one of the first to integrate satellite internet in order to shape its future development.
The Glorification of the Eucharist by Ventura Salimbeni (c. 1600) at the Church of St. Peter in Italy depicts the Holy Trinity bridged together by a Sputnik like satellite.
A SpaceX x Sphere collaborative research centre in Russia’s Siberian region of Akademgorodok could potentially launch the Eurasian tech capital of the world by attracting talent from many different countries during a time when Russia has had trouble accessing international financing of its space programmes through imposed sanctions.
Novosibirsk, Akademgorodok located in Siberia is the scientific center of Russia and is ideally situated to become the tech capital of Eurasia, bridging together the East and West.
Despite its innovative past achievements, one of the problematic features of the Russian space programme has been said by critics that “for experts in the Russian space community, Russia has no longer the means to streamline a sector that is now in survival mode. Without major commercial and scientific achievements, it is difficult to remain at the forefront of space technology and industry on the one hand, and to compete with other powers on the other.” One of the key reasons why this may be so is that the private sector has bypassed national space agencies in development. Companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin have amassed funding that dwarfs the world’s national space agencies. Startups in Asia, mainly in China and India have gained traction in recent years and are contended to become the top innovators in space exploration and research. It is also difficult to attract talent from all around the world when the salary of a position is significantly lower than that at private corporations, which has consequently isolated Russia from technological innovation in recent years.
For Russia, a collaboration with SpaceX could regain Russia’s standing in the world as a leading nation in space research and exploration, just as when Yuri Gagarin’s flight in April 1961 gained international recognition and captured the hopes of the Russian people.
People have been fleeing Silicon Valley for greener pastures. Could the next tech capital of the world be in Akademgorodok? A high standard of living, competitive salary and multiple benefits of living in Akademgorodok could potentially attract talented scientists and researchers around the world to move to Siberia. Photo by MCCAIG, Getty Images
Russia connects Europe with Asia - the ideal location as the tech capital of the world, bridging together and integrating many different cultures. Russia also has an astounding 190 different ethnic populations within its geography. While Vladimir Putin has promoted preservation of its diverse ethnic populations, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been criticised to have done the exact opposite - wiping out Uighur Muslims from the population, not rectifying the invasion of Tibet and insisting Taiwan is part of its territory, despite the latter’s declaration of independence. China appears to have an unspoken mandate of transforming all of contemporary Asia into “Han Chinese exceptionalism”, instead of preserving the ethnic diversity of the Asian continent, making its neighbours nervous and seeking protection from NATO.
An international cooperation and exploration of space is the key to preserving future peace, and presents an opportunity for Vladimir Putin and Elon Musk to come together and finally put an end to the lingering Cold War sentiment of a past era and to bridge the divide between the United States and the Russian Federation.
CHINA’S ULTIMATE WEAKNESS: THE RISE OF HAN CHINESE NATIONALISM
There is no doubt that China is a superpower to be reckoned with. President Xi Jinping has become an iconic figure who has lifted China out of poverty into a new era of becoming the future energy distributor of the world whilst focused on revitalising a new trade route that would resurrect the Ancient Silk Road. However, China ultimately suffers from a weakness in that its long history of “landgrab”, oppression of human rights activists, censorship of its own citizens and invasion of other nations have made its neighbours suspicious and unlikely to gain European supporters of its infrastructure projects.
Although the United States might have made similar missteps in foreign policy, including the genocide of Native Americans at the onset of its history and its numerous wars in the Middle East, the biggest critics of the US have always been its own citizens, Americans who are working to build a fairer, more inclusive society and to keep their politicians in check.
China has had a long history of imposing “Han Chinese” nationalism to surrounding nations, such as Korea. Asia is an ethnically rich continent with many variations of cultures and languages that may have evolved from migrating people from Ancient Egypt. "Han Chinese nationalism" has its roots from the Han Dynasty which dates back to 206 BC and also the Han Chinese overthrow of the Qing dynasty China (1644-1912) in which Manchu scholars proliferated. Manchu people and other ethnic groups were driven out of China during the Communist Era. China still continues the practice of "Han Chinese" nationalism by repression of the Uighur Muslims and other ethnic groups.
Japan, India, South Korea et al have made alliances with its most prolific trading partner, China, whilst paradoxically also seeking the US for protection against China’s growing military presence.
President Xi Jinping can rectify this negative perception of a “globalist, militaristic China” by recognising Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong as independent and autonomous nations, in addition to coming to an amicable agreement on the multiple disputed territories within the Asian continent. A rebranding of China as the epicenter of ethnic and cultural diversity as it had been during the Ancient Silk Road Era could further its One Road One Belt Initiative without diverting their investments into the development of a formidable military power.
Russian ethnic people include the Yakuts, Tatars, Mansis, Moldovans, Volgas, Balkars, Avars, Tuvans and many others. Russia is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse nations on the planet with 190 ethnic groups who speak more than 100 different languages.
The Russian Federation has one of the most ethnically diverse populations on the planet, all with each own ethnic identity, culture and language. President Putin recently addressed his ministers in a video call on interethnic relations that it was imperative that they must preserve and protect the ethnoculture and linguistic diversity of all members of the Russian Federation.
NATO’S GROWING PAINS
Captain America, the First Avenger. Photo by Paramount Pictures/ Marvel Entertainment
Despite that this may be a transformative era for NATO, in which deep divisions exist on its future trajectory, NATO has also been a stabilising force in the world, bringing down the Berlin Wall and accelerating the decolonisation of Africa and Asia from a long history of imperialism. However, in recent decades, NATO has also been subject to numerous criticisms of its foreign interventions in the Middle East which have been characterised as wanton war profiteering if not entirely inhumane. It is ultimately time for NATO to realise that its ambitions upon the world stage cannot maintain a perpetual war state nor exist without Russia.
For a future NATO to prevail, it must integrate Russia into its alliance; Russia can no longer be considered an adversary but one that can enhance stronger security within the world. NATO’s actions in recent decades have degraded trust of its European allies, in addition to igniting China’s own military ambitions.
The Ukraine has been under the auspices and control of a comedian President and media tycoon who wish to pit the US against Russia, in order to access a fast-tracked membership into the European Union and NATO by exploiting the US’ rivalry with Russia’s Nordstream II project which would provide gas directly to Germany and the rest of Europe, bypassing the Ukraine.
It is up to the individual members within NATO’s factions to prevent this paradigm leading to more unnecessary conflict. Another foreign conflict resurrecting the old Cold War mentality would surely further damage NATO’s reputation and could lead into the final days of its dissolution. The Biden Administration and the leaders of the European Union must ask themselves, is the subversion of Russia’s Nordstream II worth launching another World War?
By Sierra Choi
There are many studies of personality theory, but one of the most well-known is the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI). The MBTI categorises people based on 4 leading traits: 1. Introversion vs. Extroversion 2) Intuitive vs. Sense-oriented 3) Thinking vs. Feeling 4) Perceiving vs. Judging
Although the multi-variegated factors for personality development are complex and some components may be biological whilst other influences may be due to particular upbringing, education and cultural norms, personality analysis has been used over many decades in order to predict patterns within diverse groups of people. The psychological profiling of world leaders is not new and one that has been studied over time in order to determine a nation’s foreign policy. Here I examine some of the most fascinating personality types in global leadership of our era.
The Analyst, INTP
Xi Jinping, President of China
Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea
Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria
President Xi Jinping is known to be soft-spoken, polite and favours wearing comfortable clothes, such as his signature windbreaker. INTPs tend to be internally focused and not overly concerned with outward appearances. Photo by Xinhua News Agency
INTPs (Introvert-Intuitive-Thinker-Perceiver) are immensely polite, well-mannered thinkers who don’t like to impose on others and may find it hard to speak up for themselves in group situations in which they disagree with prevailing popular opinion.
INTPs may also have rich inner lives, in which they might entertain abstract concepts and may find comfort in visual and artistic media in which they can express their thoughts and feelings through poetry and literature. Despite being able to analyse complex political situations with relative ease, and are often liked by their colleagues, they may be sensitive towards criticism, especially if it is presented in an undiplomatic manner or in a satirical or mocking way. INTPs can also become stubborn and dictatorial when under extensive stress, and may begin to become argumentative and unreasonable when they are unable to express their need for care and attention.
INTPs are naturally aligned with ENFJs, who are skilled in reading the emotions of people, and may offer words of comfort to bring the INTP out of their introspective shells, but still share similarities in observance of social norms and being careful not to offend others. INTPs are also careful not to share their true opinions with others until they get to know them well and have a pervasive, indirect style of communication in which they do not directly say what they mean, but may give hints as to what they are referring to.
INTPs are also detail oriented and may come up with specific solutions to a problem set in which other types who are big picture thinkers, might find tedious (such as ENTJs and INFPs). Being able to focus on actionable steps makes them ideal partners with ENTJs in which the ENTJs can champion their causes, and INTPs feel more at ease to let others defend and carry out their vision.
Aside from being highly intelligent and analytical, INTPs are also non-confrontational types in which they will often delay in negotiation instead of resolving the issue straight away. They would rather wait patiently to think things thoroughly on an issue rather than making a decision straight away, which might make them seem slow to act. During this time, their minds may be percolating with different scenarios and examining all possible outcomes of a particular decision. However, one area of caution for INTPs is that they can sometimes be prone towards becoming people-pleasers and may end up agreeing with a situation, especially if their peers demand it of them, in order to build consensus, instead of speaking up for themselves if they have differing opinions.
President Xi Jinping surrounded by his cabinet members filled with many military generals. INTPs may have a tendency to go along with popular consensus, even if they might disagree. Photo by Jason Lee, Reuters
President Moon Jae-in, a former human rights lawyer, has also stayed silent on support for LGBT rights legislation and may feel pressurised by those in the South Korean govt and other dominant religious groups in not supporting the legislation due to the nation's prevailing cultural norms against homosexuality. In South Korea, homosexuality is a punishable offense that could lead to imprisonment. Photo from Geopolitical Monitor
President Bashar al-Assad, a trained doctor, may not have been interested in entering a life of politics, but as the eldest son of his father, dutifully took on the responsibility of overlooking his legacy after his father's death. Soft-spoken and immeasurably polite, President al-Assad may be more interested in the development of green energy for Syria, however may feel pressurised to continue to defend its fossil fuel reserves out of loyalty to his allies. Photo by Getty Images
Despite that INTPs generally tend to be peaceful people and more geared towards aesthetic and scientific pursuits, being surrounded by military men who would like to enhance their military ambitions may affect them to the degree that INTPs may simply go along with it, despite having personal reservations about building an army. INTPs may also internally strongly support the causes of disenfranchised people, but may not speak up due to popular prevailing opinion. INTPs may also feel they have no choice in matters in which they are given responsiblity and may go along with something out of a sense of duty, despite that they wish to do things differently. In this way, INTPs may benefit more from having a diverse group of advisers that also include writers, teachers, artists, scientists and human rights activists in order to enhance their world view and help them fine-tune understanding of their goals through the macro lens of seeing from the big-picture instead of focusing only on the details or working to please others.
INTPs may also be sensitive to criticism, and may view it as a personal attack on their abilities, but should be cautious of acting with indignation and attempting to censor those with differing opinions, even if presented in an undiplomatic or satirical way. Often, criticism serves to give a broader understanding of prevailing trends and opinions, and can become opportunities for growth.
INTPs may also find those with off-colour humour offensive and disrespectful, and may clash with ESTPs and ENTPs in this regard, who have a tendency to be devil’s advocate and entertain many contradictory positions and have an aggressive style of argument that likes to “roast” or poke fun at their opponent. It is much to the advantage of INTPs not to take these words as personal attacks, but rather as a type of entertainment, and instead focus on their actions or come up with clever ways to utilise their own wit to win over their opponent.
The Shakespearean insult generator. INTPs may be sensitive towards criticism and may have a tendency to want to censor those whom they find offensive. Instead, INTPs might want to focus on learning how to insult people with wit and humour and not take a "roasting" too seriously. INTPs may also benefit from not reacting emotionally to people with whom they strongly disagree with and instead utilise a method of Socratic style questioning in order to better understand their opponents’ positions in order to engage with them.
INTPs and Health
INTPs under extreme stress may also indulge in excessive food and drink to cope with their problems and may fall into unhealthy behaviours. Therefore, it is important for INTPs to develop a consistent exercise and fitness schedule and take an hour each day to regularly go out and engage in cardiovascular activity such as biking, walking or jogging whilst listening to a podcast in order to counter negative habits they may develop.
INTPs also may have a high tendency towards alcoholism. It is important for INTPs to drink moderately and to refrain from the consumption of hard liquors, such as whiskey, soju or vodka. Instead, they may opt for lighter, refreshing beverages such as champagne or organic wines. INTPs may also find supplements such as Vitamin C and Vitamin B-complex beneficial, as those are the nutrients most depleted in those INTPs who may suffer from alcoholism or regularly consume alcohol. INTPs should also take care to drink lots of clean, spring water during the day to prevent dehydration.
The Innovator, ENTP
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the UK
Kim Jong Un, President of North Korea
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, commuting by bicycle in his suit. Mr. Johnson is known for his eccentricity and affability. ENTPs are also known for their charm and humour. Photo by Getty Images
ENTPs (Extrovert-Intuitive-Thinker-Perceiver) embody the motto: “Think Different”. They tend to be rules-breakers, not hindered by controversy, are Devil’s Advocates in debate in which they can easily defend a contrary position in addition to their own, and readily think outside the box. ENTPs tend to be sparkling conversationalists and are often full of humour, good will and clever insults using their wit to disarm and charm their opponents.
Two things that ENTPs may dislike are routine and tradition. They may often find themselves bored and longing to go on an adventure. ENTPs prefer spontaneity in their speech and dislike having to read from the teleprompter. They prefer lively debates and might often find themselves veering off-script to do something rather unexpected in which may win the adoration of the public, but which their colleagues might view as inappropriate or unnecessary. However, ENTPs may often come up with convincing reasons why they did something they shouldn’t have just so that it often confuses others.
President Kim Jong Un (far left) with basketball icon Dennis Rodman (far right), the two share an easy friendship. President Kim Jong Un may want to break with tradition and adopt Western philosophy into his nation. According to his friend Dennis Rodman, Kim Jong Un is a fan of American culture. ENTPs often want to conduct things differently than their predecessors, resistant to tradition, and prefer open-ended, ongoing dialogue. Photo by Reuters
Despite their many charms, one of the weaknesses of ENTPs is that they may have a hard time sticking to a plan or action or abiding by a contract. ENTPs may also constantly change their minds to the degree that others may become frustrated with them and view them as unreliable. Hence why it is to the ENTP’s advantage to stick with something despite that they may be wanting to suddenly explore other options at the 11th hour.
In negotiation, ENTPs are sometimes more responsive to a competitive strategy or giving them a hard option. They may go back and forth many times, often changing their minds at the last minute, but when ENTPs realise their opponents are not budging, they may suddenly take on a different tune and act in compromising and conciliatory ways. ENTPs may also delay in answering for as long as possible and may avoid having to answer, similar to INTPs, so it is best to set both a soft and hard deadline with ENTPs in order to manage expectations. To appear more reliable and trustworthy, it may also be to the ENTP’s benefit to take a step-by-step approach and not write contracts on general terms, but in specific, actionable terms set by timeline that they can abide by so that they can build trust and confidence with others.
Mr. Kim Jong Un found natural affinity with former President Donald Trump. Negotiation with ENTPs may be the most effective when set by specific items by timeline that can continually be updated and added upon and not set in general terms. ENTPs prefer open-ended dialogue and may waver when having to making a final commitment to a plan of action.
ENTPs may also prefer to use humour to alleviate differences and build repertoire with others. They are people who enjoy the many pleasures in life, and like to get to know people on an authentic level and quick to reconcile and discuss potential solutions. As ENTPs feel more comfortable in ambiguity, they have a tendency to feel trapped when all things are settled with absolute certainty, and they may view negotiations and contracts as an ongoing, lifelong progress that can be amended over time. In this regard, a collaborative or compromising style of negotiation over the long-term might also work the best with ENTPs, especially in regards to the US, as administrations have a tendency to change every 4 years and may be perceived as unreliable, especially if current administrations do not honour previous agreements.
ENTPs and Health
Prime Minister Johnson announced last year that he had lost at least 1 stone (14lbs or 6kg) after his Covid-related hospitalisation and has made an effort to be more conscientious about his health by adopting healthy eating habits. ENTPs could also develop a meal plan with their nutritionists in order to consume more vegetables instead of always opting for high protein foods, such as meats and cheese, which could put them at risk for cardiovascular events. Photo by Ben Cawthra, SIPA USA
ENTPs, similar to INTPs and ESTPs may also indulge in excessive food and drink under extreme stress. However, ENTPs are natural athletes and might find enjoyment in team sports. As an alternative, instead of conducting meetings in closed spaces, ENTPs might consider scheduling daily hour long group meetings in the late afternoon with their colleagues to discuss matters whilst taking walks together or playing team sports, such as football or basketball.
ENTPs may also be prone to addiction to stimulants or amphetamines, such as Adderall, however these may compound or accelerate existing cardiovascular issues, such as problems with the heart and circulation. Therefore it is important for ENTPs to refrain from consuming an excessive amount of stimulants, refrain from taking drugs such as amphetamines or similar ones in their class and might consider supplements such as CoQ10 and Vitamin K2 which have been found to have positive effects on cardiovascular health and also reverse kidney and liver damage.
The Architect, INTJ
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Chancellor Angela Merkel stands in front of a larger-than-life image of herself. INTJs are known for their keen intelligence, versatility and being the face of calm during crisis situations. Photo by Fabrizio Bensch, Reuters
INTJs (Introvert-Intuitive-Thinker-Judger) aside from being infamous for their icy glare when expressing disapproval are also known for their intelligence, consummate objectivity and calmness during crisis situations. They are direct communicators and will let you know exactly what they think, and if you are in their inner circle, they won’t shy away from confrontation and will let you know exactly what you may be doing wrong. However, despite that their words may often be sharp, to the point and matter-of-fact without any sugar coating, INTJs often do this as an act to be helpful to those closest to them because in their philosophy, “people do not learn from flattery, they learn from their failures.”
INTJs, like ENTJs, do not like to show their emotions, as that is something they reserve as being private to them, however, this does not mean they haven’t got any. In fact, it may very well be that INTJs often have strong passions and emotions which they hide from public view. They may also be prolific writers and may have interests in many other subjects, particularly in science, medicine and education.
Queen Elizabeth II is known as a prolific writer and aside from politics and history, may have strong passions in the sectors of medicine and education.
They are also the type when they make a commitment, they stick to it until the end, whether in their personal relationships or in professional commitments, an INTJ word of honour is absolute and steadfast. However, it may be hard to get them to commit in the first place as INTJs take quite a bit of time in order to get to know someone, slow to make close friends, and level-headed when it comes to making long-term commitments and decisions. They are also not likely to flee at the first sight of trouble; rather, INTJs see obstacles and problems as potential challenges of something to conquer, and not something to fear.
These fearless attitudes are in resilient leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, who have weathered many crises with calm and aplomb. INTJs, like INTPs are also not overly concerned with outward appearances and most likely, despise status symbols or outwardly flashy shows of wealth, tend to be modest about their achievements and have a keen financial acumen.
INTJs may find natural affinity with both ENTJs and INFPs, as both the latter types tend to have similar but complementary thinking and analysis styles, but may find conflict with ENFJs who may often find the direct communication style of INTJs hurtful. INTJs, like ENTJs, do not like to express their emotions, which ENFJs may find confusing or find themselves unable to develop a close personal relationship due to the latter’s dominant way of primarily relating to people through sharing of their emotions.
INTJs and ENFJs may have conflicting communication styles. This is because ENFJs primarily like to relate to people using emotions and personal experiences whilst the INTJ likes to keep their emotions private and may distrust overly emotive people.
In this way, INTJs may share a personal anecdote or tale of hardship with the ENFJ in order to break the ice and build a personal relationship with ENFJs during negotiation situations, so as not to appear cold and unfeeling. However, one area where INTJs may have a weakness is their tendency to hold grudges. Despite not outwardly showing emotions, INTJs never forget a slight or unkind word said against them and may still remember those personal attacks for many years afterward. Hence, it is important for INTJs to understand that sometimes people make mistakes, whether or not it was intentional, and to give people the benefit of the doubt and to see from outside their own perspective in order to understand that sometimes people may be thoughtless or unkind due to their own stressful, personal situations and may be a reflection on those people, and not as intentional disrespect to the INTJ.
INTJs and Health
All in all, INTJs are rare types most often represented in the history of world leaders, due to their sensibility, pragmatic nature and ability to lead during crisis situations. However, INTJs, more than any other type may often suffer from insomnia and inability to sleep at night. They are often known as “night owls”, and coupled with their dislike of physical activity, this may compound their health issues. INTJs might prefer to read a book in their spare time or else, relax by watching a favourite programme or spend their time writing and might find exercise a boring, tedious activity. However, it is important for INTJs to spend at least half an hour a day outside close to nature, and take time to go on a walk early in the mornings in order to reset their circadian rhythm.
Due to their insomnia, INTJs might self-medicate utilising alcoholic drinks or prescription pills to help them sleep or relax. However, it is imperative that INTJs refrain from the use of benzodiazepines, GABA-agonist sleep aids such as Ambien, anti-anxiety medications or any other drugs that could have a negative effect on their memory or brain function. It has been shown that drugs that are GABA-agonists could cause problems with motor control, and are correlated to Parkinson’s disease. Despite that GABA-agonists are also paradoxically used to treat Parkinson’s, these drugs work temporarily to stop tremors, but may accelerate the condition through the inhibition of the substantia nigra in the brain, therefore leading to a collapse of dopamine neuronal cells. Therefore, it is important for INTJs to reset their circadian rhythm and instead focus on physical fitness.
INTJs may also be interested in neuroprotective supplements that support brain and motor functions such as Melatonin, Taurine, and Vitamin K2 which also have a positive effect on controlling blood sugar and may have positive effects on those INTJs who might also suffer from diabetes. Vitamin E has also been studied to modulate GABA and glutamate to prevent excitotoxicity and oxidative stress in the brain and may have a profound effect on many neuronal disorders that involve memory loss, tremors, seizures and fine motor coordination and may be the most significant supplement that can alter the course of neuronal related tremors at the onset for those INTJs who are beginning to show initial symptoms.
The Persuader, ESTP
Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel
Donald Trump, Former President of the United States
Former President Donald Trump. Underneath the tough facade, ESTPs often have a kind and generous disposition who possess a lot of empathy for people. Photo by Yuri Gripas, Reuters
On the surface, ESTPs may appear aggressive or even combative, but underneath the appearance of toughness, make no mistake, ESTPs often have a very soft centre and kind and generous disposition. They may also be secretly sentimental and be moved by beautiful words or artistic ability in which not many people may be able to witness, as they prefer to hide their vulnerabilities from others. ESTPs may also tend to be spontaneous and prefer new challenges as opposed to sitting in an office all day long. They are naturally drawn towards people, and may prefer talking to people in order to solve problems in practical ways that draw upon experience, instead of spending time in extended analysis of a situation.
Unbeknownst to the wider public, Prime Minister Netanyahu most likely sympathises with the plight of animal cruelty, and most likely a vegetarian, something which he may keep hidden in order to portray a persona of strength, which in contemporary society, meat-eating is often associated with masculinity. Underneath the surface of toughness, ESTPs often have a soft core and are moved by the struggle of others and have great empathy for people.
ESTPs may also have a tendency to go off script, and prefer speaking in a natural, conversational style instead of reading from long versions of edited speeches which may be tedious to them. They are visual and sense-oriented tangible thinkers who prefer action over abstract thinking. They are also not afraid to speak their mind, and have a type of off-colour humour, which might appeal to ENTPs, ENTJs and INTJs and share with them an unconcern about offending others, whilst INTPs and ENFJs, who are more sensitive to protocol, may often perceive these actions to be disrespectful or egoistical.
A portrait of Donald Trump by William Quigley. Mr. Trump has been a real estate mogul, television personality, author, investor in many diverse sectors, and the President of the United States. The next evolution of Donald Trump may be as a media mogul with his own network and free speech applications. ESTPs often have many interests and do not like routine and predictability.
Despite that ESTPs have a fondness for people and are innate risk takers, ESTPs must also pay careful attention to long-term strategy and would be best aligned with INTJ architects who can balance their spontaneity with careful strategy to offset their risk-taking proclivities. ESTPs, like INTJs, ENTJs and ENTPs often have an off-colour sense of humour and have a direct speaking style in which they often do not like to sugarcoat words. In the philosophy of ESTPs, it is necessary to be thick-skinned and have an ability to take criticism, and poke fun at oneself and not be easily prone to showing weakness and vulnerability. However, ESTPs are also keen negotiators and have a compromising style of interaction, in which they prefer to engage in win-win scenarios behind the scenes, and will listen to any reasonable offer, although they may show an outward perception of all-or-nothing.
Benjamin Netanyahu served a dessert made in the shape of a shoe to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a visit to Israel. Japanese culture abhors shoes on the surface of tables and consider it as an insult. Mr. Netanyahu might’ve found this humorous, however, the Japanese Prime Minister did not seem amused. ESTPs often have an off-colour humour in which they like to “roast” their friends and opponents in playful jest. More sensitive personalities, such as INTPs and ENFJs may find these actions offensive. Photo from Instagram
Prime Minister Netanyahu faces new challenges regarding foreign relations with the US, and its neighbours, Iran, Palestine and Syria. As a prevailing ideology of multi-lateralism is taking place across Europe and Asia, and through peace treaties proctored by the Trump administration, Israel has reached normal relations with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and is in a prime position to continue to build positive relations with its neighbours but might face difficulty in his previous goal to extend the borders of Israel into Syria and other territories. Instead, Mr. Netanyahu might achieve more influence and soft power by increasing the presence of Israeli companies into the UAE and Saudi Arabia and focus on the trade of technology, art and research by building research centres instead of building momentum for possible war with Iran and Syria, which Israeli people would not benefit from.
According to Israeli polls, the youth population of Israel would overwhelmingly like peaceful relations with Palestine and Iran, and Mr. Netanyahu could redirect his focus on potential war with Iran and instead pivot towards building collaborative platforms for sustainable living, green energy, vegan food production and art centres with his UAE and Saudi Arabian neighbours.
ESTPs and Health
ESTPs, as with INTPs and ENTPs mentioned above, may also indulge in excessive food and drink under extreme stress. They might consider investment in a treadmill in their offices and conduct telephone meetings for a half hour to an hour each day whilst walking at a leisurely pace on the treadmill or watching their favourite TV programme.
ESTPs, along with INTJs, may also have a fondness for sweets and soft drinks, which may have a negative effect on maintaining blood sugar. They may also find supplements such as Taurine and Vitamin K2 helpful in managing their blood sugar levels and to improve insulin sensitivity for those ESTPs who might suffer from diabetes.
The Defender, ENTJ
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia
Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States
ENTJs (Extrovert-Intuitive-Thinker-Judger) may have a reputation of being authoritarian, but their personalities tend to resemble Supreme Court Justices. They like to examine all sides of a situation, both subjective, anecdotal accounts and objective analyses, then make a decision based on their intuition or gut feeling. However, they often do not factor in their own emotions or moods when making a decision, as ENTJs may also tend to look outside themselves in order to come to a decision and may not trust what they perceive as their fleeting, emotional moods as reliable indicators in decision-making. Hence, ENTJs may often make decisions that are not in their personal best interest, but one in which they perceive for the greater good or the well-being of others.
This is also the reason why ENTJs might also be perceived as having a great deal of self-discipline in regards to their desires (eg, they might crave ice cream for breakfast, but repress the urge and instead drink a healthy smoothie; they might want to go home and have a drink, but instead go to the gym to release their stress etc.). This isn’t to say that ENTJs are all work and no play as they’re probably known for throwing the best parties where they make sure all their closest friends are comfortable and having fun, but for ENTJs a lot of their confidence comes from their ability of making certain others are taken care of, and that they are defending those who have entrusted them with their care.
Vladimir Putin receiving a hug from Bashar al-Assad, who has thanked him for defending Syria. President Putin may have been partially motivated to become involved in the Syrian conflict after witnessing the violent regime changes that had occurred in Libya and Iraq, in which grotesque videos emerged on the internet of the US military inflicting torture on Muammar Gaddafi. President Putin may have entered the conflict to defend his friend and ally, President al-Assad of Syria from facing a similar fate as Mr. Gaddafi. ENTJs are known for their conviction and loyalty and for defending their closest allies. Photo from The Syrian Observer
Although ENTJs may prefer structured environments, they may soon suffer from boredom or become tired of routine. During these times, it is important for ENTJs to take a break and engage in creative activities, such as painting, writing, cooking or taking up musical instruments. ENTJs also prefer to spend time with intellectual people who understand complex concepts and can teach them something new, or else give them emotional support. ENTJs, like ESTPs, may appear tough on the outside, but often have a soft core, and also possess a lot of empathy for people and animals. However, ENTJs typically only show their emotions or their vulnerabilities to their innermost circle and may find people, such as ENFJs, who are easily emotionally expressive to be manipulative and insincere. ENTJs may also be suspicious of superficial compliments despite wanting to be appreciated and acknowledged for their genuine efforts.
ENTJs also dislike the “my-way-or-the-highway” hardline, competing negotiation styles, or those people who portray an exaggerated position of strength, despite being able to play their game well, and may much more prefer collaborative, win-win situations in which they are approached from a position of rationale. In contrast to INTPs and ENTPs who might have an avoidant style of negotiation in which they like to drag out terms and conditions for an extended period of time, ENTJs prefer things to be settled quickly and decisively.
A portrait of Vladimir Putin by former President George W. Bush, who took up painting after he left office. It has been said by Washington D.C. analysts that “Putin only understands strength”, however, this perception may have been derived from Mr. George W. Bush's observations of Mr. Putin in 2007 when Russia was interested in joining NATO. The two men had initially bonded whilst taking a fishing trip together at the Bush holiday residence in Maine. However, after Mr. Putin made derogatory remarks about the beloved Bush family terrier, Barney, Russia was denied membership into NATO. Younger ENTJs may initially have a tendency to show-off and want to be the "best" and "greatest" whilst ISFPs, such as Mr. Bush value humility and kindness. However, contrary to the Washington D.C. analysis, it is more likely that President Putin is more amenable towards a collaborative negotiation style, depicting win-win situations, especially when approached from an angle of rationale. ENTJs are also known to keep their promises and not break confidences, alliances, compromises nor forgo their responsibilities.
One of the weaknesses of ENTJs is that they may have a tendency to show-off at times, which others might find intimidating or off-putting. In addition, ENTJs have a hard time expressing their innermost feelings or revealing their vulnerability to other people, even their oldest friends, who might not be aware of their personal struggles and emotional complexities. However, when in negotiation with feeler types (in particular ENFJs and INFPs) ENTJs could instead share more details about their personal lives, such as what inspired them, a personal struggle they had gone through or discuss how their families or children had an impact on them in order to build a stronger repertoire with them instead of appearing as business-as-usual.
ENTJs also may be torn between idealism and compromising their belief system in order to fit into the pragmatic needs of everyday life. However, they are the most powerful and effective when they stick to their long-term vision and not make any compromises on their integrity.
Kamala Harris has been known to waver between her own beliefs and popular opinion, in regards to such issues as fracking, eliminating private health insurance, police reform, legalising marijuana etc. which have damaged her credibility and led to low support for her initial Presidential bid in 2019. ENTJs are most effective as leaders when they do not vacillate and soldily stick to their beliefs due to their uncanny ability to change popular opinion. Image by Amanda Northrop, Vox
Vacillation in ENTJs might be perceived as a lack of conviction or insincerity amongst voters and may degrade public trust. Kamala Harris may have to challenge the dysfunctional bi-partisian politics of Washington D.C. as a means to carry out her objectives and to be perceived as a capable leader, and not one who is easily persuaded by special interests in order to gain public trust.
ENTJs and Health
ENTJs, like ENTPs, are also natural athletes and may find pleasure in both team sports or solitary sports. They may also release daily stress by exercising and using physical exertion as a way to quiet their minds. President Putin was reported to have learned to ice skate at the age of 60 and still continues to play ice hockey, in addition to many other sports such as judo, hiking, skiing, swimming and horseback riding and continues to challenge himself in physical self-improvement, defying norms for any age. ENTJs may have a tendency to appear perennially youthful and are primarily motivated by knowledge and new challenges and often possess the self-discipline to reach their goals.
Kamala Harris is known to take long walks with her husband in order to discuss ideas. She also spends a lot of time on creative pursuits such as cooking and is a patron of the arts. ENTJs often utilise exercise in order to release stress and need a creative output in order to take time off from the chaotic demands of their lives. Photo by Kamala Harris, Twitter
ENTJs, due to high levels of physical activity, might be the type more than any other, to develop a dependency on painkillers such as opiates after an injury. However, an extended dependence on opiates could lead to cardiovascular issues along with exacerbating mood swings and possible depressive episodes. Therefore, it is important for ENTJs to refrain from using opiates at all, and instead opt for alternative treatments such as acupuncture for injuries and chronic pain. ENTJs might find supplements such as CoQ10, Melatonin and Vitamin C beneficial in removing their dependence on opiates and other drugs for those ENTJs who might suffer from addictive tendencies, and also to support their cardiovascular health.
The Visionary, INFP
Emmanuel Macron, President of France
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia
INFPs (Introvert-Intuitive-Feeler-Perceiver) are forward thinkers who often have a vision to build a better future for their people. They are also witty conversationalists, and utilise their keen intuition to understand complex ideas with relative ease. INFPs are also immensely creative and may have many hidden talents. They also have a tendency to not merely abide by popular consensus, and like ENTJs, they may tend to be unconventional and not afraid to voice their opinions on many controversial matters.
Despite having many passions, INFPs, like INTJs, ENTJs and ESTPs, prefer to keep their emotions and personal struggles private. Instead, they prefer to talk about ideas and may spend many hours in discussion with their favourite intellectual sparring partners to bounce off ideas.
Emmanuel Macron (left) and Vladimir Putin (right) may have complementary skill sets that make them amenable towards the building of mutual goals. INFPs, such as Mr. Macron, may admire the ENTJ’s ability to realise their vision through discipline, strategy, dedication and execution. In addition, ENTJs, such as Mr. Putin, may admire the INFP’s creativity and ability for complex analysis and coming up with innovative and novel solutions to a problem. Photo by AP
Although INFPs may come up with innovative ideas, they may face obstacles when implementing such plans and therefore may surround themselves with people who are able to build actionable items to carry out their vision. Hence why INFPs and ENTJs may find a strong affinity with one another.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came up with a novel solution to confront 400 members of Saudi Arabia’s elite, including Princes, tycoons and ministers for corruption in a money laundering scandal in which he “arrested” and held these members at the luxurious Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh until they agreed to a settlement to return the funds to the government in what was called The Purge of 2017-2019. Photo by Fayez Nureldine, AFP/ Getty Images
President Macron and Prince Mohammed bin Salman also show deep sensitivity towards the plight of women and women’s rights in addition to looking towards future energy solutions. The Crown Prince was able to reverse many religious laws that unfairly targeted women, and allowed them the ability to receive a driver’s license to be able to drive on their own without a chaperone. He was also an investor in SoftBank’s Vision Fund, in which the founder of SoftBank, Masayoshi Son alleged that he was able to procure a $45 billion investment from the Crown Prince in a 45 minute meeting.
Both President Macron and Prince Mohammed bin Salman are creative thinkers who embody design thinking. In design thinking, problems are approached in a non-linear, iterative process that seeks to understand their demographic, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test.
President Macron has also recently invested in energy development with Russia for the first time in 2018. To further France’s recent investment in the Arctic, President Macron could use this bilateral cooperation in order to further research maglev hydroelectric energy and distribute its usage in the Siberian region. Maglev hydroelectricity is the least known in renewable energy but has the potential to produce the most power and more reliably than solar and wind power. A joint research council between Russia, Germany and France in the Arctic to develop maglev hydroelectric power could serve their joint goals in implementing a diversified energy strategy across Siberia and Europe as a means to move away from nuclear power and overdependence on fossil fuels.
Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula may be tinged with nuclear waste, destroying the ecosystem of the area. Toxic waste from proposed nuclear power plants could destroy all of Russia’s beautiful coastlines. A move towards maglev hydroelectric energy and away from nuclear energy development and deployment could prevent further damage. President Macron and Prince Mohammed bin Salman could partner with President Putin in order to abandon nuclear energy and develop and distribute maglev hydroelectric electrity to the Eurasian continent in a tri-lateral alliance. INFPs, such as Mr. Macron and Prince bin Salman, could influence ENTJs, such as Mr. Putin, with their long-term vision of a sustainable future.
INFPs may feel a natural compatibility with ENTJs as well as ENFJs as the latter types complement and support their natural tendency towards creative thinking, whilst INFPs may help ENTJs and ENFJs to seek and understand their long-term vision, away from the minutiae and chatter of everyday life by focusing on what is ultimately important. INFPs and ENTJs also tend to be unconventional types who are not easily intimidated by “mob thinking” and will often go against the grain of popular thought which makes them ideal innovation partners. INFPs are also not easily impressed by status and achievements and will seek authenticity in their relationships and may have a variety of friendships with many people of different social classes, ages and cultures.
INFPs and Health
INFPs, as their INTP counterparts, may also be more likely to suffer from alcoholism. Therefore, it is to their benefit to refrain from consumption of hard liquors and instead opt for refreshing drinks such as champagne or organic wines. INFPs may also be the type who occasionally likes to experiment with psychoactive drugs. However, they must be careful in not utilising these on a regular basis as an overuse of these recreational drugs may lead to depressive episodes. Instead, INFPs should take time to enjoy the smaller pleasures in life and develop a regular cardiovascular fitness schedule and take up activities such as crossfit or jogging whilst listening to their favourite music.
As with INTPs, INFPs may also find supplements such as Vitamin C and Vitamin B-complex beneficial, as those are the nutrients most depleted in those INFPs who may suffer from alcoholism or regularly consume alcohol. They should also be mindful to drink clean spring water with a slice of lemon in order to stay hydrated during the day.
The Mentor, ENFJ
Joe Biden, President of the United States
Josh Hawley, Senator of the United States
Best friends. Former President Obama surprised Mr. Biden, who was then Vice-President, with a Medal of Freedom in 2017. ENFJs, such as Mr. Biden offer enduring emotional support to their friends, making them beloved to those closest to them. Photo by AP
ENFJs (Extravert-Intuitive-Feeler-Judger) feel most at ease when they are needed for their help and expertise. ENFJs may also often be the people who will answer late night phone calls from their best friends if they happen to want to discuss personal matters to give them emotional support. They may relate to people through expression of their emotions and value personal relationships over business matters, which they might find tedious to discuss. However, this is in direct contrast to ENTJs, ESTPs, INTJs and INFPs who prefer to keep their emotions private and only reveal their emotions to a trusted circle of people. In that regard, ENFJs may appear to be emotionally manipulative to ENTJs, and to ENFJs, their ENTJ counterparts may appear to be cold and calculating.
President Joe Biden has once said of President Vladimir Putin that when he looked into the latter’s eyes, he had no soul. This could possibly be because ENFJs and ENTJs have a different way of relating to the world. ENFJs tend to understand people through the sharing of emotions, whilst ENTJs prefer to keep their emotions and their personal struggles private. Photo by Kevin Lamarque, Reuters
Despite having strengths in building personal relationships, one of the weaknesses of ENFJs is that because they tend to want to be well-liked, they are prone to over promise without delivering. President Biden would like to be known as the “Uniter” who has healed the United States from the rifts of deep division, however, words alone cannot unite a nation without the follow-through of action.
Currently, half of Americans, over 17 million people believe that President Biden may be an illegitimate President who has become President of the US through voter fraud. President Biden faces immense public discord as many parts of cities, including Washington DC, have become a military police state with the National Guard roaming around near-empty streets. In addition, President Biden also faces bi-partisian politics in Congress and must rise above the petty bickering in order to unite members of Congress.
However, the ensuing situation in Congress gives President Biden an opportunity to showcase his role as “the Uniter” of people. By not supporting the current efforts of Senator Chuck Schumer to impeach former President Trump, and by denouncing bi-partisan politics, he would most likely win favour with Trump voters and potentially win them over to his side with his skills in persuasive empathy.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi often cater to the politics of bi-partisian infighting and stagnation, and their actions have been viewed by many analysts as leading the US further into division. Despite that former President Trump has no chance of being convicted and impeached in the Senate, Mr. Schumer and Mrs. Pelosi continue to waste taxpayer money during the Great Lockdown in order to carry on this charade to further fuel the seeds of division. President Biden has an opportunity to rise above petty bipartisan fighting and winning over his detractors by extending an olive branch to his political rivals and critics.
Extending an olive branch to his political rivals would likely increase President Biden’s popularity amongst the American public, including potentially winning over the voters who may view him as an illegitimate President.
In addition, President Biden could develop bi-partisan committees and appoint those members, such as Senator Josh Hawley and Representative Majorie Taylor Greene, who have been the most critical of him, to head committees such as technology reform and voter integrity in order to build unity in Congress, along with giving confidence to the public, especially amongst President Trump’s defenders, in order to develop an unifying strategy to change public perception of him as an illegitimate President.
Senator Josh Hawley (pictured) and Representative Majorie Taylor Green have a high popularity rating amongst Trump voters. Mr. Hawley is one of the rising stars in the Republican Party. Mr. Hawley (also ENFJ) may also resemble the idealistic, young Mr. Biden when he first became a US Senator at age 29. President Biden can form bi-partisian advisory committees with these young members of Congress, and potentially win over Trump voters who may view him as an illegitimate President, which will most likely raise his popularity and secure his standing as a President who has risen above the petty bi-partisanship that has crippled American politics, to become a uniter of both parties. Photo by Carolina Hildago, St. Louis Public Radio
ENFJs must also be cautious in not making decisions when they are in extended emotional states, such as making snap decisions when sad or angry. One of their strengths is the ENFJ’s ability to easily understand group dynamics, human emotion and fallibility, however under situations of stress, or when they feel personally attacked, they could also become blind to their emotions and make decisions they later regret. Hence, it is important for ENFJs to take time to allow their emotions time for reflection before making decisions that may have deeper, long-term consequences.
What is at imminently at risk is of the United States entering another era of McCarthyism, in which censorship, blacklisting and cancel culture could further fuel the seeds of division. Many states such as Texas are considering secession from the US, which portrays a deeply divided America that is at a critical juncture to internally rupture. President Biden could utilise his charismatic skills in building personal relationships in order to unify Congress and also potentially win over 17 million+ voters who did not vote for him through his magnanimous actions.
ENFJs and Health
ENFJs, more than any other type, may have the highest susceptibility towards substance abuse addiction. As they relate to people mainly through their externalised emotions, they may enjoy the temporary highs of drugs that affect the pleasure centres of the brain, such as opiates and cocaine. It is important for ENFJs to keep up a regular exercise cycle and refrain from taking benzodiazepines, anti-anxiety meds and GABA-agonist sleep aids such as Ambien which may have a negative effect on their memory as the continued usage of these drugs have a high correlation to dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s. Instead, ENFJs might want to consider neuroprotective supplements such as Taurine, Vitamin K2 and Melatonin.
By Sierra Choi
Disclaimer: This article is not intended as medical advice and for educational purposes only. This article also represents the opinions of the author; is speculative in nature and may not necessarily be indicative of the individuals mentioned, nor necessarily reflect the opinions of the organisations the author works with.
Russia has had a colourful history, in which in the last 100 years, it has cycled through imperialism, communism, and now, state capitalism. At each precipice, it was overtaken by revolution and often, violent regime changes. From the assassination of the Romanovs, to the fall of the Iron Curtain, Russia is again, at the centre of a new movement. Vladimir Putin has been in power for the last two decades and has steered his motherland from the destabilisation, disorientation and economic disaster that was representative of the 1990s to the Russia it is today. However, now as the onset of the Great Lockdown continues, President Putin faces new challenges.
The Threat of Ethno-Nationalism in Russia
During times of economic uncertainty, a resurgence in ethno-nationalism could bring social instability to the Russian population. Recently, Alexei Navalny has risen in popularity through his criticisms of the Russian government. Although mainstream media has claimed that comparisons between Alexei Navalny and Adolf Hitler had been an attempted smear campaign by the Russian government, an examination of his personal blog, videos and correspondence with his former colleagues show that these accusations may not entirely be without merit.
Alexei Navalny has risen to popularity with his anti-corruption crusade, but the darker side of his politics reveal a man whose ethno-nationalism may destabilise social harmony.
Georgian people engaging in a traditional feast. Georgia is known for their rich culture and ancient wine-making traditions. Photo by Georgia Journal. Alexei Navalny has called Georgians "rats" and expressed fervent desire to bomb Georgia with missiles. Mr. Navalny has also compared Muslims to "cockroaches" and has said they needed to be "exterminated from Russia" in his online blog and videos.
Despite that Mr. Navalny serves as an advantageous asset for the US and the UK against the current Russian government in which President Putin has taken an adversarial role in the Syrian Crisis (in which the US and the UK have vested oil and energy interests), propping up an opposition leader who has riled up the Russian public with a distinct ethno-nationalistic rhetoric may prove to be more unfavourable in the long term.
Vladimir Putin (right) with Syrian President Bashar Assad (left). The Biden Administration’s platform agenda for racial equality and plurality seems to be at paradoxical odds with their support of the ethno-nationalistic politics of Alexei Navalny. However, Mr. Navalny appears to play an advantageous role in the Biden Administration’s interests in control of Syrian oil and energy resources and as a gateway to Iran by bringing social instability to Russia during a time in which Vladimir Putin is staunchly aligned with defending the Syrian President Assad from US and UK interests. Photo by Alexey Druzhinyn, European Pressphoto Agency.
Past US govts propped up leaders such as Saddam Hussein, who was also initially shown to have strong ethno-nationalistic tendencies, only to be later engaged in wars that brought on violent regime changes that have damaged US and UK credibility in foreign policy. The US was also responsible for bringing instability to Iran by overthrowing their democratic government and instead, replaced it with an extremist religious govt led by the Shah in the 1950s. The current Biden Administration must be attentive not to make the same mistake in Russia as it did in Iraq and Iran. Mr. Navalny may potentially become another Hussein (if not a possible future charismatic Hitler) in the making for US and UK governments as his strong ethno-nationalistic viewpoints may prove to be a future hinderance for NATO and our Saudi Arabian and UAE allies.
Although Alexei Navalny has made valid and important criticisms of the oligarchial structure of the current Russian government, his rising popularity may align with Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s, whose criticism of the corruption within the central banking system utilised similar ethno-nationalistic rhetoric which found popular support that led to the second World War. Alexei Navalny has similarly riled up the Russian population with ethno-nationalistic fervor and has attended and organised protests and marches that included the slogan: "Russia for Russians, Europe for the Whites". Photo by Grigory Dukor, Reuters and wikipedia commons.
In comparison, President Putin has held a more meditated and pragmatic approach in embracing pluralism in his nation, to allow for the migration of different people, in addition to the philosophy of tolerance in regards to various religions and ethnic people, Mr. Navalny appears to hold the direct opposite perspective (“Russia for the Russians, Europe for the Whites”), despite his rising popularity in his anti-corruption agenda against the Kremlin.
President Putin has also shown in the past of his willingness to join NATO and building closer ties with the EU. Under a potential Navalny government, the US and UK could develop more adversarial relationships with Russia under a potential regime that promises to “expel migrants and strengthen and possibly expand” Russia’s borders.
How Brexit Serves as a New Opportunity for Russia
With Brexit underway, the European Union is now facing a new kind of crisis, with many rumours circulating of its dissolution. Chancellor Angela Merkel is faced with a dual problem: of securing the EU for future generations, whilst dealing with the US-Russia adversarial relationship in regards to control of energy resources in which Germany has become a reluctant mediator. The exit of the UK from the EU has left a gaping hole in fiscal policy, with only Germany left to prop up the rest of the EU whilst euroscepticism is on the rise in nations such as France and Italy, where rising politicians such as Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini are advocating for exit from the EU. Chancellor Merkel is stepping down at a particularly precarious time in the EU, and although it is not yet known who will become her successor, Russia could potentially fill in the void in leadership to secure the future of the EU.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin. Mrs. Merkel is stepping down from leadership at a precarious time for the EU when euroscepticism is on the rise in nations such as Italy and France. Russia's entry in the EU may solve many of EU's pressing problems and secure its future.
Brexit may potentially become a renewed opportunity for Russia to join the EU and take a joint leadership role in shaping Europe’s future policies.
Russia's entry in the European Union would serve the following advantages:
The European Union was initially launched as a way to hinder the nationalistic tendencies that led to the first two World Wars, the kind of ethno-nationalism that became standard features of fascist regimes such as Mussolini’s Italy, Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany; however, the EU is facing a new crisis of its possible dissolution, and a forging of new relations with Russia may prove to be a strengthening move.
Under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, the Russian Federation has evolved into a new kind of global power after the fall of the Iron Curtain, however it is currently under extended duress from both US sanctions and the economic slowdown from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Russia spans across 11 time zones and is a gateway between Europe and China. Image by Alexander Kislov and Natalya Nosova.
Russia’s entry in the European Union could potentially serve as a new gateway for European and Asian relations, in addition to opening up a geography that spans across 11 time zones, to develop multinational solutions in energy, research and infrastructure projects.
How Vladimir Putin Can Win Over His Detractors
Despite his strong ethno-nationalistic rhetoric, Alexei Navalny’s popular criticism of the Kremlin comes at an opportune time, in regards to its oligarchical structure in which privatisation of national companies in the 1990s have created a distinct class hierarchy in which the Russian people have found no remedy.
After the fall of the Iron Curtain, in the chaotic aftermath when Russia was transformed under neoliberalism, it opened its economy to a predatory form of international capitalism, a system that has created the large gaps in wealth inequality amongst the Russian population. This type of predatory capitalism was under examination during the recent World Economic Forum virtual meeting in which the alternative, “stakeholder capitalism” became a topic for world leaders.
Stakeholder capitalism is a system in which corporations are oriented to serve the interests of all their stakeholders. Among the key stakeholders are customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders and local communities. Under this system, a company's purpose is to create long-term value and not to maximize profits and enhance shareholder value at the cost of other stakeholder groups, namely employees, the quality of life in the population and the environment.
Point 1: Russia’s Integration of Stakeholder Capitalism
A transition from the predatory type of international capitalism, which often has been synonymous with the negative aspects of “globalisation” towards the conscientious values of stakeholder capitalism seems necessary in the next stage of evolution in Russia as a formidable global power under President Putin.
Although globalisation has opened the world economy, its negative effects depend upon a predatory type of capitalism in which vast wealth inequalities have led to sweat shops, slave labour, child labour, low wages and the pillaging and wreckage of local communities and the environment, all for the motive of maximising profit and shareholder value. The alternative, "stakeholder capitalism" which was the primary topic at the World Economic Forum 2021 discusses a reshaping of capitalism to hold companies accountable to community values, the well-being of its employees, the population and the environment. See also B-corporations.
During his special address to the World Economic Forum Davos Agenda 2021, President Putin made the following points that challenge the global economy 1) income gap within the population 2) rising costs of education and other services 3) rising social tensions due to unemployment as well as 4) his criticisms of stimulus and quantitative easing which only causes inflation 5) social unrest and systemic socio-economic problems which causes public discontent causing division 6) how tech monopolies control people and competes with the state 7) use of military force, sanctions and other methods to limit an economy.
However, many of President Putin’s challenges could be rectified by the conversion to stakeholder capitalism in the Russian economy, in conjunction with other European nations, such as France and Germany to enact the same policies. This will make the Russian Federation more amenable to European trade policies, along with directly addressing many of the protests that are currently taking place in Russia.
People protesting in Belarus. President Lukashenko has made it his policy to jail dissidents and opposition voices, whilst ignoring the demands of the public. He may soon be deposed as his continued policy in jailing dissidents have led to widespread nationwide protests. President Putin must be careful not to make the same mistake, and show leniency towards dissidents and protestors as a trust in democracy and free speech is what gives the public confidence in their government. Photo by Jan Graczynsku/Shutterstock
In the past, perceived authoritarian regimes have made the mistake of suppressing opposition voices through censorship and by jailing them. This is currently playing out in Belarus with President Lukashenko potentially nearing the end of his term with a possible regime change. This is something President Putin must be cautious of, as any action against opposition voices will only serve to further fuel the opposition.
Alexei Navalny’s video on President Dimitri Medvedev launched protests in 2017, just as his new video on Putin’s Palace launched similar protests in 2020. President Putin denied private ownership of the Black Sea Palace, and it was reported in 2013 by wikileaks to have been owned by a Russian oligarch, Alexander Ponomarenko who had said he bought it from Nikolai Shamalov and two of his partners for $350 million. Another Russian billionaire, Arkady Rotenberg came out recently and has said he bought the palace two years ago.
Instead of the oppression and jailing of Mr. Navalny under any pretext which gives more ammunition to popular media, President Putin can redirect public energy and attention on the launch of new initiatives, in addition to the integration of stakeholder capitalism in the Russian economy. The public dissent over the current Russian government is focused on the imbalance of wealth in which oligarchs and government officials have been perceived to have benefited, leaving the population bereft of a middle class standard of living.
Point 2: The Modernisation of Russia as an Epicentre of Research
Russia has a population of 144 million people, however, 35 million people are without indoor toilets and a sewage system and 57 million Russians do not have running water. Although some other Eastern European nations also do not have nationalised sewage system and running water, this is simply unfathomable for a nation such as Russia, who is seen as a rising global power.
57 million Russians do not have running water in their homes, and 35 million Russians do not have indoor toilets. Photo by Nikolay Titov, Global Look Press. Investment into modernising Russian infrastructure must become part of its philosophy of stakeholder capitalism and not profit driven in order to reap the long-term return on securing Russia's position as a global power.
The journalist Dmitry Travin notes that with the stifling of the opposition, “ordinary Russians have no one to tell them how miserable their lives are becoming”. Imagine coming home from a long day at work, only to have to defecate outside in the cold, then not being able to take a hot shower. It is no wonder that many Russian people have taken to the streets to protest the wealth inequality present in Russia. If it was not instigated by Mr. Navalny, another person like him would soon rise to take the helm. A solution or initiative in which a national plan to modernise water and sewage systems all throughout Russia would not only serve to invest in Russia’s growing infrastructure as an epicenter of technological and scientific research, it would also cement President Putin’s popularity among his dissenters.
Russian companies and oligarchs could unite to form a foundation in order to solve Russia’s water and sewage problem that affects 57 million people. In addition, development of its national sewage and water system might possibly help to lift sanctions on Russia's top oligarchs, as well as attracting top talent from around the world.
Point 3: The Advancement of Women in Russian Society
Another criticism highlighted by Mr. Navalny’s video satirically portrays President Putin giving financial advantages to his friends and family, namely women with no seeming qualifications suddenly attaining positions of influence (eg, an alleged girlfriend of President Putin’s, a housecleaner suddenly attaining majority shares in a company or another attaining board positions etc). However, the exploitation of women in Russia and the lack of opportunities for women to advance in positions of power is one that needs to be brought into sharp focus. Although, President Putin has been rather elusive and entirely private about his personal life, this attack on him, whether true or not, could present an opportunity to launch a nationwide initiative to advance women’s career routes by retraining them to work in different sectors along with opportunities for mentorship.
Women often face an increasingly harsh climb in the corporate world, along with lack of opportunities present in career advancement in male dominated industries. As more of Russia’s youth population turns towards inclusion into criminal gangs, young girls and women are at high risk for exploitation. Hence, President Putin has a clear opportunity in steering focus away from Mr. Navalny’s satirical treatment of his romantic liaisons and underlying degrading commentary of women in working class conditions, and instead redirect focus on building a more inclusive Russia that highlights and encourages the achievements of women.
Vladimir Putin congratulates women on Women's Day, 2011. Photo by Alexsey Druginyn, wikipedia commons. President Putin can utilise attacks on his romantic relationships in order to launch initiatives for the advancement of women, to counter against the discrimination of women in male dominated industries, to educate women in investment and mentorship, and a fund to help them launch businesses.
Point 4: Adoption of a British-style Education
It is well known that the 1% in Russia often send their children to become educated in the UK. However, this type of education is not available for the average Russian citizen. The development of a British-style education within Russia would allow its youth to develop into conscientious, international citizens, expanding Russia’s soft power and influence. In the days of the Russian Empire, when St. Petersburg was the centre of art and culture, people from all around the world came to Russia to share their insights in art, philosophy, literature and science. Similarly, Peter the Great who was considered a revolutionary leader who grew Russia into a global power, wanted the Russian population to be an educated population, and not one that blindly held onto the tenets of war and merely followed orders. His reforms in education ultimately led to Russia becoming a European centre of art and culture in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Bronze Horseman, a statue of Peter the Great in St. Petersburg. Peter the Great introduced a western style of education into Russia, in order to educate his people away from militiarism. President Putin can introduce a British style of education, in order to transform Russia's youth into a civil society that nurtures and produces future thought leaders.
A restructuring of Russian education towards the Socratic education style of asking questions and questioning assumptions and installing critical thinking and integration of both East Asian philosophies and European liberalism would lead to a more balanced education in Russia, and fulfill President Putin’s ideal of a civilised society, instead of “training” students to be proficient in military technology and patriotism, which might ironically, have the opposite effect and also lead towards the youth population becoming susceptible towards ethno-nationalism, as what is currently transpiring under Alexei Navalny.
Russia needs a society brimming with love for the country, a civil society that would be such, not only in name, but in status, that would do its job, not for money, but put its soul into efforts to right the wrongs. -Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin practicing martial arts, a favourite pastime. Photo by the Kremlin.
In Japanese philosophy, Aikido is a type of martial arts that uses ‘ki’ energy in redirecting opposing energy. A proponent can negate or redirect an opposing power using an attack as an opportunity. President Putin can readily avoid the mistakes made by his neighbour and ally, Alexander Lukashenko and instead show leniency towards his harshest critics, and redirect public focus on initiatives that benefit the Russian population.
All in all, over the span of his 20+ year career in politics, Vladimir Putin has become a recognisable, iconic figure on the global stage. Western critics have reviled him and painted him as an authoritarian figure whilst he has won the respect of all his political adversaries through his pragmatic, thoughtful and measured leadership style. He has been the subject of satire, caricatured in popular culture, featured in numerous documentaries, and has been the focus of widespread speculation and allegations despite being rather secretive about his personal life. Regardless of being a figure of immense controversy, it is clear that he has led Russia out from the instability of post-Communism towards the rising global power it is today. Now, Russia is at a particular juncture in which embracing stakeholder capitalism and moving away from the predatory form of globalisation could launch it as an Eurasian epicenter into the next era. Whether one loves him or hates him, it is clear that the world is fascinated with Vladimir Putin.
By Sierra Choi
Adam by Robin Doyle.
When we look back on history, it wasn’t necessarily the history books that gave us insight into past civilisations, it was their art. Art itself is hard to define, but throughout the ages, art has become the standard of a nation’s authentic history.
The delicate detailing of the eyes present in Pharaoh Ramesses II circa 1279 BC. portrays a man of deep introspection and sensitivity. Photo by the British Museum. From the statues of Ancient Egypt to the writings of Murasaki Shikibu, Leo Tolstoy and William Shakespeare to the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci and the sculptures of Michelangelo, to the installations of Ai Weiwei, Bill Viola, the plays of Ivo van Hove and the murals of Banksy, artists reveal the hidden passages of our collective world, and often contradicts the politically edited version of events.
At its lowest form, art is merely decorative. It is akin to a screensaver or expensive wallpaper that is simply pleasant and innocuous; it is bland and easily forgotten, something that can be easily replaced with another similar version. At its most complex, art often reveals an uncomfortable truth about society, about ourselves, exposing the hypocrisy of our institutions, the paradoxical nature of the human condition, making us question our own assumptions and beliefs, fueling dialogue and discourse. Art enrages us, it makes us laugh, and it makes us cry; it brings into focus the contradictory nature of human existence. Art tells us what really is, when popular culture tells us what it isn’t.
Portrait of a Lady by Francesco Laurana depicting Beatrice of Aragon, Queen of Hungary (1478-1488). Laurana's delicate and realistic attention to facial features has been remarked upon by many scholars. Beatrice of Aragon was the great-niece of Isabella of Aragon, Queen of France, who was most likely the inspiration of "Beatrice" in Dante's Alighieri's Inferno. Dante's portrait of "Lucifer" appears to have many similarities with King Phillip III of France, whom Isabella married before she died at age 24. Dante's scathing criticism and satirical works depicting the corruption of the Royal Houses and the papal government lead him to be exiled until his death in 1321. Italy now celebrates the 700th anniversary of Dante's works.
Depiction of Murasaki Shikibu, who is considered the first novelist of the world, whose real name was unknown. Photo from Art archive. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, published in the early 11th century is considered the oldest novel in the history of the world and is not merely a tale of seduction describing the exploits of the central character, Prince Genji, but documents the political ruthlessness of the Heian period in Japanese history. During an era in which Japan adhered to the central tenets of Buddhism, of restraint and asceticism, Murasaki Shikibu’s novel describes a paradoxical, decadent society based on the opposite of what was publicly visible and does not spare any lascivious detail.
“History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors. And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions, Guides us by vanities.” - T.S. Eliot, Gerontion
During the early twentieth century, it has been well documented that many artists became targets of government corruption. The French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and his writing partner, the psychiatrist Felix Guttari’s two volume iconic work, Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972, 1980) reveals that the United States, the United Kingdom and many nations in Europe actively engaged in a pattern of corruption to utilise military technology, censorship and propaganda in order to silence critics, mainly artists and writers, by locking them up in insane asylums and attaching psychological diagnoses to them in order to discredit them. Ezra Pound, Vivienne Eliot, Zelda Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, DH Lawrence and James Joyce were among many who had been discredited and often sent to mental institutions or sanitariums for their political beliefs and overt criticisms of their government. The dominance of psychiatry in popular culture would soon infiltrate every aspect of contemporary life.
Whereas in the 17th century, critics of the government were exiled and sentenced to death as Dante Alighieri, in contemporary culture, beginning with the the early 20th century, critics were sent to mental institutions and the profession of psychiatry became widespread arbiters of a “false truth” in order to police political thought.
The Statue of Peace, Mitte District, Berlin, 2020. Photo by Dong-A Ilbo.
In more recent times, if we examine the Statue of Peace installed in the Mitte district of Berlin in 2020, which had been commissioned to commemorate peace between Japan and South Korea, it is at first hard to discern why it would offend the Japanese government until we learn of its context. During WWII, “comfort women” or sex slaves were taken by the Japanese army from South Korean families, and despite Japanese reparations to the South Korean government, this passage in history is still a subject of quiet animosity between the two nations.
In this particular bronze sculpture, it reveals to us who these “comfort women” really were. Upon closer inspection of the seemingly innocuous statue, one soon realises that it wasn’t depicting a woman at all, but a young girl around 10 years old. This subtle commentary from the artist reveals that women were not the only victims, but that young girls had been taken from their families in order to become sex slaves for the Japanese army during WWII.
The extraordinary and exquisite detail of the bronze statue utilises rainfall from the natural environment to fall into the eyes, in what seemingly appears to be teardrops forming in the eyes of the statue. Photo by Markus Schreiber, AP.
Japan is currently a peaceful and technologically innovative nation, filled with innovative artists, writers and philosophers and award-winning architects and scientists. However, not so long ago, when they had been developing their military industrial complex, and growing their army and military presence, Japan’s culture had been quite different. They were a nation that often murdered and assassinated human rights activists, writers, artists, and their army was responsible for much bloodshed. What Japan and other nations teach us is that when a nation is focused on their military ambitions, and the development of their military industrial complex, without a focus on cultural advancement, their leaders soon grow complacent and allow many injustices to become commonplace as the de facto rule of the land.
“Art does not reflect what is seen, but rather it makes the hidden visible.” -Paul Klee
Art may also remind us of what we attempt to hide. Art often tells us the truth of who we are and were. As civil societies, we must understand our past in order to rectify the present, in order to build a fairer, more just society in the future. We have never forgotten the Holocaust, nor the Russian gulags that had murdered hundreds of millions of its own citizens. We have never forgotten the American and Spanish Civil Wars, and the history of slavery. We shouldn’t forget the children who had suffered in past wars, the children who were taken from their homes against their will.
Angela Merkel may be one of the greatest politicians of our era who has taken a strong stance against global corruption. Both Germany and Japan have become leaders in technology and art only after dismantling their military industrial complex after WWII. The Statue of Peace in Berlin should not be subject to compromise from any political ideology. Art often reveals to us uncomfortable truths about our society, about our past, and about our collective history. Most of all, art does not apologise. Despite that the Japanese government would like to have the statue removed within a year’s time, the statue should stay.
By Sierra Choi