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Tag: Oligarchy

The end of the belle époque

It seems that the latest belle époque in western history is nearing its end, which could mean the end of the West as we know it. A miracle can happen, of course, as history is full of unexpected turns and changes, but if the current trends continue we can only await the melancholy of the fin de siècle before another massive change.

The first belle époque preceded the First World War. It took place when, after the end of the French-Prussian war in 1871, European states experienced an extraordinary economic and cultural boom. The telephone, the automobile, as well as the aeroplane were the great inventions of the belle époque which defined our understanding of the comfort and progress of the 20th century. Thanks to these three inventions, as well as peace and prosperity, the Third French Republic and Imperial Germany were able to increase their might and thus rapidly developed.

January 28, 2020 - Paweł Kowal

What is a Russian oligarch?

The use of the term “oligarch” or “oligarchy” in the Russian context speaks to debates about the very nature of the Russian political system. Historians and political scientists have long described Russia as oligarchic.The problem with using the term oligarch, however, is that its usage has changed repeatedly since Soviet times. Today, it seems to be much more about power than anything else.

The term “oligarch” is applied so flagrantly to Russians, it is hard to tell where Russia’s oligarchy begins and ends, who exactly inhabits this coterie and what ring do the oligarchs orbit around Vladimir Putin. Indeed, the meaning of the word oligarch is difficult to separate from Russia. According to the Oxford English Dictionary an “oligarch” means “a very rich business leader with a great deal of political influence”. Though this definition could easily apply to most countries, the OED added a curious addendum: “Especially in Russia.”

October 4, 2017 - Sean Guillory

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