Last week, visiting a technology fair in Hanover, as part of his trip to Germany, President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel tried on 'virtual reality' glasses. The president reacted to the technology, quipping that "it's a brave new world!"
"It's hard to find a more appropriate analogy," Syomin said, recalling the Aldous Huxley novel of the same name published between the first and second world wars.
"Huxley described a future in which the world was run by a global government. In this world the only religion was consumption, machines do the majority of the work, and people, sorted by castes and by social position, remain in a state of eternal euphoria, thanks to propaganda and hallucinogenic drugs."
But it's today, Syomin notes, "25 years after the destruction of the Soviet 'animal farm', that it's becoming more and more difficult to perish the thought that the prophecies of Orwell and the narcotic-laden tales of Huxley" are actually slowly becoming a description of our time.
During his Germany trip, in his 'address to the people of Europe', Obama made an observation, saying that "we are fortunate to be living in the most peaceful, most prosperous, most progressive era in human history. This may surprise young people who are watching TV or looking at your phones," the president remarked. "It seems like only bad news comes through every day. But consider that it's been decades since the last war between major powers."
The simple truth, Obama noted, was that "if you had to choose a moment in time to be born, any time in human history, and you didn't know ahead of time what nationality you were or what gender or what your economic status might be, you'd choose today…"
The president's address, Syomin noted, was not without a logic of its own. "If Obama convinces Europe to sign the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, then the 'Brave New World' will maintain and strengthen its economic position amid a global crisis."
However, "it would be interesting to know what moment in time the 250,000 citizens of Syria who didn't live to see this Brave New World would choose to be born, or the 650,000 citizens of Iraq, or the 140,000 citizens of Yugoslavia, or 30,000 Libyans. What year would the residents of Donbass, Odessa, Mariupol, Kharkov, Kiev," or much of the rest of the former Soviet Union "want to find themselves in?"
Late last month, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper that "there is still no lasting order to replace the old one – the world is still in search of a new order. And the ongoing struggle for influence and domination is not being conducted in a peaceful academic atmosphere; it can also be violent."
And in this 'Brave New World', Syomin says, "a stupefied German chancellor in her virtual reality glasses is being pushed more and more toward the east. [Last week] it was reported that the Luftwaffe would receive a base and runway in Turkey, where a full wing of Tornado fighter jets would be based. The presence of the Bundeswehr on the border with Russia is also set to become imposing and permanent."
"And all this," Syomin warned, is "taking place against the background of more and more frequent air interceptions and other 'accidental' contacts with our foreign partners in the air and at sea. And the US is behaving in the same sort of recklessness in the South China Sea, which appears once again to have found itself too close to American shores. For the second time in a row the US defense minister landed aboard an aircraft carrier to send a disciplinary message to the 'stubborn' leaders in Beijing."
The US initiative, Defense Secretary Carter told reporters, is "just a piece of a larger network of security that the United States is part of. And that is the key to keeping peace and stability here. And for the future, that is what we want for everyone, including China."
The logic of the Brave New World, Syomin warns, is that "conflicts are inevitable. 'The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.' The builders of the Brave New World use these words of Thomas Jefferson as their mantra."
The question, he suggests, "is whether today's baobab has had enough blood, or perhaps the blood of fools will also suffice?"