The Birobidzhan Paradox

Jewish Autonomous Oblast



Originally designated by Soviet authorities as a ‘safe refuge’ for Jews fleeing persecution in Europe (also as an attempt to anticipate Japanese regime’s attempt to expand  its puppet state Manchukuo’s territory and to gain endorsement from overseas Jews already influenced by NAZI’s anti-Semitic sentiments and American financial support), Jewish Autonomous Oblast – a once promised land compatible with Israel largely favored by numerous Zionists – instead suffers from more melee imposed by its own contrivers.

These Jews’ aspiration, as hardly as it seems, largely depend on the deviser’s, Joseph Stalin, mood. In the beginning of 1930s, tens of thousands of Jews were given opportunities to settle in the oblast (pictured above, in stark red), with relative freedom and slightly better economic latitude. Nevertheless, nearing 1940, Jews were again subject to suppression imposed by the authorities when their leaders were captured for ‘ideological treason’. During the peak periods of World War II, again the leader favored evacuating European Jews into this region from the perils of Holocaust, and the exodus climaxed until 1948, when Israel proclaimed its independence and fully supported United States. That was a hard blow for virtually all the Jews already living a stable life in the oblast. Since then, the Jews again fell prey into Soviet’s harsh oppression. The situation even deteriorated after Stalin’s death in 1953.

Albeit its name is, as yet, Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Jews no longer constitute a majority of the population. Once climaxing to 30,000 in 1948, the figure has fallen very steeply to no more than 2000, only one percent of the oblast’s total citizens. It is, in conclusion, a by-product of a dictator’s voluptuous mood, combined with global policies gone awry and last but not least, once-in-a-lifetime contretemps.


Read the full version here.

Altruists’ paradox


Much debate exists as to whether true altruism is possible. Arguably, the act of sharing, helping or sacrificing may be primarily motivated by the gratification it returns. This seems to assume a different understanding of ‘benefits’, though, from the traditionally assumed meanings (which are external – recognition from others, reciprocation etc. – rather than internal), making this a problematic argument.’

Perhaps this is what Wikipedia explains when it comes to arguing altruism. No, I mean, what the Wikipedia users try to imply. But, somehow, after reconsidering it for some time, I found out that the notion behind the paragraph may be partially justified. My main concern may be like this: more and more people have favors in bequeathing, or tithing as the Christians prefer, some bits of their money to the societies in most urgent need. But why a bulk of the world population remains poor? Because answering this arduous question may link you to myriad possible answers (mismanagement of donated funds, increasing living standards, or, to a worse extent, graft, and you are free to conject the next), I would like to pick up one of my own, other than those above: charity is not disparate with a drug. I’m not sure how much percentage would the whole world totally agree with, but as of my viewpoint, the more charity clubs there are, the more people, particularly those ‘in really needy help’, will get more addicted to their generosity. In long term, generosity leads to some kind of new superiority, a new genus of human pomposity in which people feel themselves superior as they can show off giving as much as possible, enmasking themselves with seraphic faces.

You may presume the previous paragraph that I am like someone else who believes in stuff like NWO, Illuminati, or whatsoever applesauces. But I have to remind you, as though fairy tales, these sorts of conspiracy theories are full of fiddlesticks. I just want to state some reasons of why true altruism may be a mere phantasm:

Charity clubs are, much or less, like executive clubs.

You join a charity club in your city, say, Tigers International, (I may get sued for writing down Lions International, instead), because one of the members is a parliamentarian who has acquaintances ranging from big-bellied cops, happy-talk army generals, and perennially happy-faced politicians coming from a major political party. Even you (perhaps) won’t if this guy has never been ruling the roost. Oh, yeah, particularly in a mobocratic nation, you know that your business is safe, because a lion has backed you up behind.

You know doing good makes you richer, and that’s why you do it.

I remembered what one of the mathematic teachers (a very devout Catholic) in my junior-high-school years saying like this, “When you tith, you get paid by Lord 70 times of what you have done.” I know benevolence is the best investment (ranked first after gold and flim-flam MLM), but is the main aim of doing good either because it leads you to heaven, or it leads you to a seventh heaven of limitless wealth? Is there nothing else can be made when what you solely focus in mind in doing good is simply ‘doing good makes you respected and silk-stocked’?

Doing good is simply about handing out basic needs to the poor.  

False. It is a howler to think that all about doing good is simply distributing goods to the needy. There’s more to rethink about such stuff, particularly when it comes to charity clubs. As a juvenile, and as a person who has experienced the ups-and-downs of leading a youth empowerment organization (and partially, a charity club as well), I am left to wonder whether the job of ‘handing out basic needs to the poor’ is nothing else but the one that should be left only to the youth nowadays. This actually functions only as a catalyst to be cognized with how to get further involved in improving societies. And what’s more? Why don’t we give them chances to sustain themselves by means of microfinance, or skills training sessions?

You are an oligarch, and everybody believes you are a Seraph.

I want you to, once again, portray yourself as, say, a country’s richest person. Let’s say your wealth amounts to 100 billion US$ (on velvet, the country you’re in is identified as an emerging market, as more states have a high stake in your natural resources) all of a sudden, because you have a monopoly in industries without which, even breathing won’t guarantee that people will still live next hour. Say, in coal, in cigarette, in food, in drinks, in agriculture, in mining, in oil & gas, in electricity, in real estate, and in telecommunication. Thanks to the ousted dictator who was your life-long friend (and he even knows who your secret lover abroad, and your out-of-wedlock children are), you are able to accummulate what any lousy motivators dub as ‘unlimited wealth’.

Nevertheless, you are censured because your coal business has contaminated countless number of species, your food industry being exposed because it makes use of palm oil taken from illegally deforested plantations, your agriculture industry humiliated because it is involved in a genocide of primates, your mining industry being boycotted by Greenpeace activists because it dumps mercury what the activists claim as 2436 times higher than the standard, your oil & gas industry being caviled after found out bribing the military to raze locals’ homes, combined with so-called human rights abuses, in and around oil fields, and your telecommunication industry came under scrutiny as one would be socially isolated assume he/she didn’t equip themselves with phone credits (eyes squinting at someone from Mexico).

Knowing that you are rich but you are vulnerable, you realize there’s something you should do, to a further extent to say the least, to have their lips sealed. You launch a ‘plant-10-billion-tree’ program, invest billions of dollars in clean energy program, provide billions of dollars in form of microfinance to 1 million peasants in critical need of funding, build hospitals, schools, universities, endorse research for cancer, AIDS and malaria, construct two-by-fours apartment flats for the homeless, and, lastly, an effort to expand your corporate army, sponsor full scholarship (and full employment) for 100 thousand students deemed the best and the brightest.

And at the same time, you do the former and the latter simultaneously. But, thanks to frequent ads you pay for TV stations, people start to overlook your wrongdoings. Yes, you only expect God to know all the mistakes.

Refer to the previous point, but this time, revise ‘oligarch’ and change it with ‘mobster’.

This time, you own all the largest, most Macau-esque gambling venues in this country to help aiding in a youth organization (whereas it’s a swarm of criminals, complete with bright-colored military-like uniforms), together with all stuff rated ‘hellish’, for instance, discotheques, night clubs, loan sharks, prostitution, and all other industries else regarded illegal and inhumane. Your rankers most of the time instigate duels with cops, who are as dubbed by Haruki Murakami, ‘state-sponsored freemen’. But for sure, you know you won’t let your name rot the day you have to leave this profane world, so you try to be a bit redolent by, say the least, help paying the surgery of all Siamese twins in your country. Or, back to the basic principle: paying up for thousand tons of rice and instant noodle given to the poorest and the homeless.

Or it can be said that you are the both.

Let me pick up one more example, but this sounds a bit terrifying, at least for me (and those who correctly guess it). Right now, you were a new conglomerate, having a bank to cash out some (say your bank is worth a few trillion dollars, hyperbolically) to fund national megaprojects (whatever, it can be inter-region bridges, million-hectare farms and/or plantations, tollroads, power plants, and what’s more, skyscraper-filled CBDs), and a herd of hundred companies entangled in all those projects. At the same time, you are indirectly in full control of gambling and drug-smuggling industries (or any those mobster-related affairs that can be mentioned). And then a Wikileaks cable flippantly exposed your ‘special’ relationship with the potentate. In an interview, you denied having such linkage, and instead diverted all the topic to your monitoring over hundreds of projects conducted by a non-profit organization aimed in promoting ‘eternal compassion for humanity’. Yes, the one you lead in, and the one you pour in with the 12-digit cash, as well.

Cashing in the charitable foundations is the safest form of money-laundering.

And it’s, ironically, true! In case you have disbelief in government and want to evade tax, or transfer some of the revenues you gain from casinos, drug trading, and loan sharks (one more: corruption!), the only safest way you can afford is to set up a trust, promising you will channel the funds to help revitalizing schools and hospitals. Auditors may be damned for trying to investigate the all-do-good.

I believe good deeds attract better outcome.  

Wrong. It is a noteworthy lesson to learn from George Clooney. Before he left Darfur, Sudan, after covering all the atrocities going on there, he grabbed chances to bequeath water wells for a village he once paid a visit to. Assured that bringing in water wells would reduce the drought suffered by most of the villagers, the initiative, contrariwise, resulted in a fatal catastrophe: hundreds of the villagers were killed by masses from a neighboring village, having resented that they did not obtain the ‘similar attention as the former had by Clooney’. Having learnt the bitter experience, Clooney decided to focus in entirely aiding the war-ravaged region. One lesson to learn: it’s not Clooney’s fault, for sure, but one thing we realize that even Rhonda Byrne’s self-invented ‘law of attraction’ may be, just like the general principle of light, bent.

Doing good is right now a trend.      

And now it is for global celebrities, nowadays. See it further: Angelina Jolie is right now a main ambassador of UNHCR, having to deal with problems facing global refugees at the same time enlarging her career as an actress, magnifying her arduous tasks as a mother of 6 adopted children, and in managing her most beloved one, Brad Pitt. Ben Affleck puts much attention in conflicts D.R. of Congo faces, and Sean Penn concentrates on rebuilding Haitian schools. Or follow what U2 had done: forcing G8 leaders (the Great 8 Debt-Laden Nations) to cancel the debts currently burdening the world’s poorest countries as much as 40 billion dollars. Seems like all these things are so overtly spectacular, but there’s one thing I would like to say: yes, it has something to do with ‘statistical numbing’ (read my previous note, the irony behind steve jobs’ death, to understand further what that is).

Or maybe a campaign to sustain your popularity.

Whether they are really doing all these virtues by heart or not, this only remains to be answered, personally, by their very own conscience. A very intimately private question.

Conclusion: is all what they have been doing wrong? Not really. To be more concise, human logic, just like theirs, yours, and mine, is like two sides of coins. At one point, we can believe that we do good deeds on the basis that we can really help lifting them up from the excruciation they are facing. But, not trying to be a hypocrite, at least, we have to be honest, at times, that even the nefarious criminals and the most impious individuals, realize they still have goodwill to be preserved. It’s never as easy as it seems to differentiate the pure good and the pure evil.