Culture 5 – Russia & Ukraine – For Whose Good?

It is not very often that a football player who has been prepared by watching sufficient game films, in the game is suddenly confronted with a specific play formation, then “stares his opponent in the eyes” and watches them telegraph their moves. I’m first thinking of this year’s Super Bowl with the interception that ended Seattle’s potentially game winning drive in the last minutes of the game. I personally think Seattle’s pass play was not as risky or as bad a call as everyone thinks: New England was on their goal line logically expecting a run, and the personnel they put on the field, reflecting that, included a first year non-drafted corner back, who became the target of Seattle’s play call. What were the odds, except the corner back was well prepared and stepped up with the unexpected. It wasn’t the play call, but less than great execution.

Telegraphing one’s moves is generally rare, if not stupid. It is even more rare when it is a very prominent head of state, which leads to my second thoughts. But first the events…

It has been only a few days since my last post, but recent events make it informative to revisit the situation concerning Russia and the Ukraine and what they can teach us.

European leaders from Germany and France met in Minsk with the president of Ukraine and with Putin. They apparently hammered out (another) cease-fire, to take effect Saturday evening, 14 February, at midnight.

Leaders Agree to Ukraine Ceasefire

The following link and article from The Guardian includes pictures (Transnistria), and very informative maps of the current (and previous) cease-fire lines, lines of control, and the buffer zone in between, which highly resemble the buffer zone of the Transnistria region in Moldova (with the exception that the river is on the opposite side). Déjà vu.

Ukraine ceasefire agreed at Belarus talks

While we have another ceasefire, the general consensus is not that positive. Germany says only that, “We now have a glimmer of hope,” and most others are pessimistic about any long standing solution.

Between when the ceasefire was announced (Thursday, 12 February) and early Sunday morning (15 February) when it supposedly took effect, Russia had time to move tanks and supplies into the eastern Ukraine, rather than out of it (as per the cease-fire):

Putin Sent Weapons to Ukraine Rebels Amid Peace Talks

Was everyone expecting a workable ceasefire when the heads of France and Germany went to Minsk to negotiate with the heads of Ukraine and Russia? Three-to-One, and the One still came out ahead. Why? For one reason, superficial as it is, he was lying, again:

The Peace Agreement Proves Putin Was Lying All Along

You and I will think, “Why do that on the world stage when this is important?” But, as I posted earlier, that is not how Putin (and Russia) think.

We had the game films (history), and we saw the line up and formation (more of a scrum than a play), and even though Putin’s moves were telegraphed (for those prepared), they were executed perfectly. But the question remains, Why? And that question led me to my further thoughts on what we can learn, which, for ‘brevity,’ I will try to keep short.

Lesson 1: Our cultural experience is that we hope to reach Conflict Resolution in situations such as these. What we miss is that Putin, Russia, and the pro- Russian rebels are working toward Conflict Management, which is something else entirely (see archived post here).

Recap: I presented the concept of a General –∑ Attitude (Fundamental Principle 16e) in the previous post, and showed how Russia’s historical behavior as a state consistently reveals it. For the good order, here it is again:

The General –∑ Attitude:

“You have something; and I don’t;
Therefore, you must have Taken It before I had a chance to;
Consequently, I can take steps to recover from you what I would have taken, and
Take more in order to punish you.”

This attitude is a harsh one, but it is not systemic only to Russia. By degrees it can be observed in various subcultures in virtually every country, primarily those that are heavily infected with an outpouring of the fundamental issue of greed, (gangs, theft, embezzlement) whether driven by survival needs or just a convenient habit (corruption).

Lesson 2: Because of its prevalence, I propose that this can be further generalized as follows:

A General –∑ Attitude: Leads to Behavior (“Social Justice”??) that seeks to provide for the ONLY Recognized Good: ME.

The so-called ONLY Recognized Good could also be family, clan (or gang), people group (or subculture), or country, where ME is an integral part (such as a Head of State). It results from an overly emphasized focus on Self, beyond just survival.

This attitude doesn’t seem to be the norm, but is one that probably evolves as a deterioration from a higher level, let’s call it The General 0∑ Attitude. This is one I suspect we are all born with: gather what is available and distribute it fairly, except where competitive groups come into play.

A General 0∑ Attitude: Leads to Behavior (“Social Justice”??) that seeks to provide for the Minority Good: US.

The so-called Minority Good would include, as above, family, clan (or gang), people group (or subculture), or country, where a specific Minority Group (followers of ME) could be identified.

Unhealthy competition leads to potential deterioration of attitude and behaviors towards the General –∑. William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is an example of attitude and behavior deterioration in the form of a treatise on the conflict between individual welfare (-∑) and the common good (0∑).

But I propose that the General 0∑ Attitude could also evolve into something greater and better that is not often considered: a General +∑ Attitude.

A General +∑ Attitude: Leads to Behavior (“Social Justice”!!) that seeks to provide for the Greater Good: As Many As Possible.

(Note: It’s easy to fall into The General –∑ Attitude (that’s Performance Gravity again); it takes quite an effort to rise to The General +∑ Attitude, however.)

Some societies, cultures, and civilizations show some levels of a +∑ Attitude (more on these later); many show continuing 0∑ attitudes, and a few, in particular, demonstrate a dominant –∑ attitude: North Korea, Russia, ISIS, and Boko Haram, for instance.

Returning to Putin, Russia, and current events. Why are they behaving they way they do?

Lesson 3: I suggest that there are two factors here. The first significant factor is Fundamental Principle 6: Incomplete Information. Putin, and Russia only recognize and understand the 0∑ and –∑ attitudes above:

They do not know or accept that a +∑ attitude exists or is possible.

Lesson 4: The second factor is revealed in an article concerning Russia’s having to deal with falling oil prices and the concessions companies and people will have to make: Putin said everyone must honor the state’s interests. (Of course, this includes the ONLY Recognized Good: ME, Putin: Russia’s former largest foreign investor: Putin is worth $200 Billion.)

Putin’s (and Russia’s) top priority, its Hidden or “Sleeper” value, is Mother Russia and the ethnic people who comprise it (and ME).

As a consequence they view western culture, behavior, and motivation as purely Camouflaged –∑ Behavior that they have always had to deal with, and which must be directly confronted because it is seen as a threat to their higher value and top priority, Mother Russia.

Lesson 5: The above is a particular instance of attitude and response to incomplete or poorly understood information that often manifests itself generally in leadership in all cultural levels (family, clan, civilizations, but, in particular, organizations). It is common enough to warrant being elevated to be part of Fundamental Principle 6 and can be paraphrased as follows:

If I don’t know it, it doesn’t exist;
If I don’t understand it, it is wrong!

Lesson 6: Europe has made a considerable transition from dominant –∑ attitudes (discernable through European history’s wars and conflicts) and progressed to more +∑ attitudes since WW II (discernable through the opening of borders and the establishment of the European Union and the Euro). Russia has not. Neither the Reformation nor the Enlightenment had significant impact on Russian culture.

All this seems to reinforce the concept that Cultural Continuity does extend from individuals through families, clans, and organizations, to the Culture of Their Nation.

The questions that this raises are, Can globalization become more +∑ in outcome and influence, seeking and able to provide for the Greater Good: As Many As Possible? And how can it do so when so many of its component nation’s cultures are still only 0∑ and possibly –∑?


About Jim Edmonds

I am a husband, father, mentor, who once was a chemist turned physicist turned marketer turned executive turned missionary turned professor. And survived it all.
This entry was posted in 06: Incomplete Information, 13: Values & Self, 14: Behavior, 16: Culture, Lessons from History and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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