Politics, Episode 51, Odysseys in Paradise


It was mid-afternoon when Rich slid The Odyssey next to the dock at Pago Pago. An hour earlier, Rich contacted the Naval air station and told them simply, “I have Major Oaks’ package.”

Rich and Yuri stepped onto the dock, both holding a suitcase.

From nowhere came the dock manager. “Welcome back, Mr. Larsen,” he said. “Today you stay free”

Rich handed him a dollar. “Call Speed.”

The manager immediately left, trotting.

“What is speed?” Yuri said as the walked along.

“The taxi driver,” Rich said.

“I suppose after today we will never see each other again,” Yuri said.

“Probably not,” Rich said.

“I want to thank you,” Yuri said.

“Appreciate that,” Rich said. “It’s a crazy world we live in.”

“Our trip was amazing,” Yuri said, “a communist and a capitalist working together and getting along.”

“I don’t see it that way,” Rich said. “I’m not a capitalist or anything. I have no political or economic ideology.”

“You don’t think deeply about those things?” Yuri said.

“Politics is not a deep subject,” Rich said. “It’s rudimentary, argumentative, speculative, and most of all it doesn’t work. It is not even worthy of deep conversation or study.”

“Do you not agree, those people back on Manihiki live a much better life than those in the United States?” Yuri said. “They practice communism in its purest form.”

“Is that your proof?” Rich said. “Is that what you pin all your political philosophy on? Is it, yes or no?”

“It works,” Yuri said as if obvious.

“It works because there is no political philosophy,” Rich said. “It works because communism nor capitalism exists there. It works because there is neither a dictator, president nor premier.”

“In a civilized society there must be something,” Yuri said.

“It starts with civilized people,” Rich said. “Any system works with civilized people. It makes no difference. Back on Manihiki, you install communism or introduce capitalism and you will create greed, barbarism, selfishness, corruption, gulags.”

“So you have thought deeply about these things,” Yuri said.

“In the realm of all deep thinking political science and movements require the least,” Rich said. “They all fail.”

“What does mankind, society do?” Yuri said.

“I’m one man,” Rich said. “and so are you. We can do nothing, but take care of ourself. When I’m on the ocean, need I say more?”

“That’s fatalism,” Yuri said.

“I’m not a fatalist,” Rich said, “I think we should abolish all isms. We don’t need them. Every ism ends up in circular reasoning; a dog chasing his own tail.”

“Yet you side with the capitalists, though claiming to be nothing,” Yuri said, “how can that be justified?”

“Do you think those people back on Manihiki spend time justifying the dichotomies in their lives?” Rich said. “They exist. Not everything has to be justified. Justifications and isms are for people who are too lazy to do something good.”

Yuri smiled. “In Russia such conversations are dangerous. My brother and I had many long discussions about such things.”

“And you concluded?” Rich said.

“Nothing,” Yuri said, “that was the problem. Furthermore, we are closer in our so-called ideology than you might think.”



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