Saint Peter’s Snow, a novel by Leo Perutz
A psychotropic drug has been administered to a patient, recovering after a blunt head trauma.
His visions, organized as in a structured dream, are the novel.
The novel includes some consequences of the dreams
Vision one: The Hospital
It’s a long time since my personal opinion faced increasing demands about Risk and Safety both in my own professional environment (by profession, I am a radiologist and I have been leading Diagnostic Services through the last say ten years, dealing with organization of Diagnostic Departments since the earliest times of PACS technology from 1992 on), and in common daily life, as in general simply reading newspapers, boarding on a plane, or buying a new car.
The Risk Aversion Bias has dominated the last decades of our civilization.
Risk, under the most various perspectives, has been increasingly reduced: in radiation exposure for medical reasons, in construction works, in mobility, in privacy handling, in banking transactions.
This is obviously positive, from almost all points of view, but from a larger distance it has not proven flawless at all.
Risk Aversion (RA) implies an intrinsic unavoidable trade off with a more “free to fluctuate” (ergodic) domain of reality.
RA is likely to prevent benefitting from possible gains.
Moreover, given the way of progressively implementing RA through regulations emanated by central Authorities (in Europe, more and more from the European Commission and its delegates; single States plummeting in their decision making capability), RA has been increasingly shaped in an syllogistic manner. New elements are slowly added. This lengthens the process of adapting rules to the increasingly fast changing reality.
That is, regulations are too slow in coping with dynamic ever-changing reality.
Vision two: The Insincere Doctor
As anybody understands, there are speeches to be held in public and discussions to be sustained in closed rooms.
Media, old and new, have shown a huge possibility to determine the Masses’ decisions.
This power was built progressively to state a New Ideology that bypasses and overtakes the previous ones (e.g. nationalism, socialism, religious beliefs).
New Ideology is still far from proven, but as in every case a new religion supplanted the old one, a persecution of the old believers ensued
One example stands out: Global Climate Change.
Whoever casts doubts is instantly banned as a heretic under the Inquisition.
The same happens to whoever casts doubts on the economic consequences ensuing.
This trending Ideology (capital letter) has however supplanted any more dynamic approach, it appears that the Decision Makers willingly submit themselves to Ideology forgetting about reality.
Vision three: the Malignant Nurse
The Nurse obeys the Insincere Doctor without taking real care of the Patient.
An huge overt demonstration of the Malignant Nurse has been the more than two years managing of Covid pandemics in Italy.
The exclusive focus on containing contagions (apart from blaming alternative solutions proposed by other governments such as UK and the past US Administration, or rationally implementing Covid Hospitals and Covid Free Hospitals, consequently delaying diagnoses and therapies of non Covid severely ill patients) precluded any view on other issues
Main issues being social and economic ones, the pandemic- related crisis.
Loss of jobs, devalued investments, loss of competitive positions in foreign trade and in internal richness production.
Vision four: the last of the Rurik
The very first time I read a paper on National Interest’s website I was waiting my car to be washed, an event that seldom happens.
Since I'm interested in Leo Strauss’s thought and heritage, while waiting, I browsed the website, which is deemed as being Straussian, multifaceted and deeply interesting.
While seated at a bar during a late afternoon, for my very first time I met the hypersonic weapons.
It was six years ago and, believe me, I’m no professional.
Just some months ago, another National Interest’s paper about the concept of Compellence (counterposed to Deterrence) draw my attention.
As the protagonist of the novel, thrown by chance into the domains of a visionary Freiherr in Saxony, meets the curious people hosted in the small castle, first meets a Russian officer who will be lately unveiled as one of the last Ruriks.
The true descendants of the first Russian Dinasty. The Kyivan Rus’.
Thus, distinction between Deterrence and Compellence struck me some months before the beginning of this disgraceful last European Civil War.
Deterrence is basically defined as “The Ability of One State to Coerce Another State into Action, usually by Threatening Punishments"
An almost eighty years old Deterrence policy from US and its Allies (NATO or non) towards USSR first and Russia later, the past US Administration included, proved to be effective in reducing likelihood of a major conflict.
The few limited proxy episodes (including the bombing of Belgrade under the Clinton Administration, the risk avoiding stepping back from Red Lines in Syria’s civil war and the substantial appeasement facing Russia’s annexation of Crimea under the Obama Administration) were followed by an efficient albeit blatant success of the maybe too much blamed Trump Administration (for instance, almost no rocket being launched from North Korea during his Presidency).
Hints of Compellence practice in Ukrainian war:
A) the westerner independent strategic studies website Analisi Difesa by Gianandrea Gaiani quoted the deployment of 22 Divisions of the Ukrainian Army at the (disputed) borders of the self-proclaimed secessionist republics in Eastern Ukraine briefly before the war started;
B) the previous almost total silence of western Media about the low intensity war in Eastern Ukraine lasting 8 years, including complete silence about civil victims;
C) the determining role of Victoria Nuland all along the past 15 years in Ukrainian/Russian history, presents times included. Mrs Nuland is a highly reputed intellectual and a person of action. Her thought has to be deeply intended. To let the reader understand, the works of her father in law prof Donald Kagan urged me to read and deepen Tucidides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. Mrs Nuland is the person to be interpreted for anyone aimed at understanding US foreign policy position towards the ongoing war and, in general, towards Russia as it is today. Including also a likely use of Compellence strategy.
Vision five: the last of the Staufen
This is the miracle of the dreams in the novel by Perutz.
A nephew of Emperor Frederick the Second is searched for and brought to the Freiherr’s property.
The Empire, the Holy Roman Empire of the West, whose symbol is the Double Headed Eagle (Rome and Constantinople).
The last Emperor was Karl 1 von Habsburg, the Western Double Headed Eagle belonging to the Habsburg family since 3 centuries.
The Rurik and then Russia are in charge of the Oriental Double Headed Eagle.
What is overt is that there is a total lack of EU politics, also due to the fact that only secondary politicians are directly involved in EU, the prominent ones being almost exclusively dedicated to their respective States.
So, Europe is symbolically beheaded.
And our transatlantic cousins are steadily becoming more and more centered on their insular prerogatives, dramatically distanced from us.
Unless Europe is determined to sink, another Stupor Mundi (Frederick II’s definition) has to be invoked.
There is no one among the current leaders.
A huge crisis impends on Europe, as a major consequence of the Russian-Ukrainian war.
There is a shared opinion that an European Crisis would benefit (at short) US economy due to a loss of power of the competitive manufacturing rival albeit strategic ally of US that Europe represents.
As in the Peloponnesian War, a third party could benefit.
I know everybody would think China at first.
China was an Empire at the times of the Romans, it still is, with all ups and downs real Empires undergo, but never withstanding, with its amazing capability of developing strategies.
Quoting an old friend of mine who personally witnessed the so called Ping-Pong diplomacy meetings during Nixon Administration, China knew from then what its goals were.
Mastering soft power and strategy.
Not to be forgotten, anyway, is Persia.
Plus the Islamic world, never forgetting its own greatness.
Vision six: the Car
While I meditate about Emperor Frederick II, I can’t avoid a deep thought to Ernst Kantorowicz, whose exemplary life and deeds I revere.
A small, dark rounded sort of pebble rolls by, my mind goes to a wandering truffle.
Kantorowicz never traveled without his own truffles.
The pebble rolls into the open street.
A car is coming up.
The dream ends.