A Jewish joke from the 1970s Soviet Union, has a teacher asking a child, “Who is your mother?” The child says, “My mother is Russia.” “And who is your father?” “My father is President Brezhnev.” “And what do you want to be when you grow up?” “I want to be an orphan.”

When political leaders turn crooked, statecraft becomes a mafia. What the world is seeing in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not imperialism nor the business of states but the culmination of 14 years of unprecedented, globalised corruption and an accumulation of wealth that in the 21st Century, since 2008, has found itself bereft of a release in what would formerly have been detente.

Greed for money has erased the political artificiality of Left and Right, yet what has to date been perceived as limitless wealth, has been found to have an end. At some point in the ageing of despots comes a realisation that one cannot die rich.

What only differentiates today from Hitler’s suicidal Gotterdammerung of 1945, is the atom bomb and the world has finally reached a moment where some despots in search of immortality have a multitude of kilotons at their disposal.

The age-old rules of war and peace no longer hold sway in the depraved mind of Vladimir Putin, the contrived lifetime president of the Russian Federation of States and among the world’s richest people: a soon to be septuagenarian facing a rushing end of years, willing to push the bounds of diplomacy to what in his addled brain might be his sole legacy: “The End of Days”.

As the reaper’s sickle approaches, Putin realises that the power to enrich, torture and murder are nothing. Only self-vision remains.

Put it another way: Putin is Al Pacino’s Scarface, Tony Montana’s death spiral has begun and the ghost of Sergei Magnitsky is storming the mansion.

© 2022 Adam Parker.

Picture Credit: “The Day After”. © 1983 American Broadcasting Company.