(CNN) A Russian journalist was arrested on drug charges. The backlash has blindsided the Kremlin

(CNN) A Russian journalist was arrested on drug charges. The backlash has blindsided the Kremlin.

Joseph Conrad’s 1905 essay, Autocracy and War, speaks to us now. About Russia,

...Hence arises her impenetrability to whatever is true in Western thought. Western thought when it crosses her frontier falls under the spell of her Autocracy and becomes a noxious parody of itself. Hence the contradictions, the riddles, of her national life...

Don’t waste your time blaming Vladimir Putin for it. There are two possibilities, that he approves of the (CNN) arrest of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov, or that he disapproves. These choices have little difference in effect. Some Western analysts think he can reach down like the finger of God into the bureaucracy. His power is far more conditional than that. It’s a bargain with Conrad’s take on Faust’s Devil.

We generally frown on making a bargain with the Devil, the substance of the ever-popular Faust tale. But what if it’s the only game in town?

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