Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

Pathocracy: when Vogons rule

When you have something to say about the state of the world you live in and the way those in power conduct themselves — and in particular about the effects on people and the environment of such behavior — there are essentially two ways you can do it: You can do as I do, directly and earnestly addressing problems in essays, reviews, commentaries and other works of nonfiction. Or you can present your analysis in the form of fiction. This has always been among the highest expressions of speculative fiction (or “science fiction,” as it’s commonly called), and the nominally humorous works of Douglas Adams exemplify this approach rather neatly.

Journalist Mikhail Beketov beaten, unable to walk or speak.

Murder in slow motion: Journalist Mikhail Beketov was beaten and left for dead in his front yard after accusing
local officials of corruption.
[ Image Source ]

In Adams’ best-known publication, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the protagonist’s world is changed forever — destroyed, in fact — from the outset of this first book in what was to become a five-book “trilogy.” What happens to fling poor Arthur Dent a million light-years into space? A misbegotten and thoroughly repugnant species, the Vogons, destroys the planet Earth to make way — putatively — for a hyperspace bypass.

Unfortunately, the Vogons are not without their real-world counterparts.

In this article, we learn of the plans of some Russian oligarchs — surely Vogons in human form, if their behavior is any guide — to build a giant toll highway linking Moscow and Saint Petersburg, unnecessarily using a route straight through Khimki Forest. Last year, popular protest led Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to order construction halted; but now, thanks to persistent bribery and other corruption among officials, law enforcement and industry, the project is on again.

Meanwhile, leaders among the protesters (some of whom are pictured above) are being systematically intimidated and silenced. One such leader was beaten so severely as to leave him in a wheelchair, unable to speak. This, of course, is a well-established pattern under pathocracy around the world: A decision is made, usually in private meetings to which the public is not privy, to proceed with a project immensely profitable to powerful business interests but harmful to the public; the people learn of it and protest; and the leaders of this opposition then become the targets of violent retribution.

Since the Russian government once again has proven corrupt and unresponsive, change.org seeks to apply pressure to the only Western corporation known to be involved with the project: the French company Vinci. This page therefore includes a petition asking that company to withdraw. If you want to save Khimki Forest, this seems a good place to start.

We might also continue by overthrowing and institutionalizing the psychopaths who are willing to destroy everything we have with projects like this for the profit of private industry and to magnify themselves, but that is beyond the scope of this page.

Originally published as a review of a change.org petition to stop the Khimki Forest highway project. Update: As of 6 May 2015, this petition is closed, although the page remains up.

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