Final Word from Friday, May 13, 2011

Anyone who is convinced that the Cold War spy genre ran itscourse when the Iron Curtain fell should pick up John le Carré's"Karla Trilogy." It helps the reader understand how someof the biggest Communists became the biggest capitalists.Karla, the fictional Soviet spymaster, was an expert at setting"honeytraps" and using "kompro" against his targets, muchthe way Vít Bárta envisioned the functioning of the perfectcapitalist security agency. It makes one wonder who Bárta'sKarla was. Karla was also expert at using layer after layer ofoffshore companies to disguise financial flows and beneficialowners, much the way Appian and Natland have operatedin plain view while being totally opaque. Did the Roman-Janoušek-Bém crowd think these clever structures up itself,or was there was also perhaps a Karla figure in the shadowsholding them by the hand? Of course Karla becomes a victimof his own evil cleverness, and it's perhaps here that the ColdWar fiction deviates the most from the capitalist reality.

Glossary of difficult words

Tinker , Tailor, Appian, Natland - a word play on the name of John le Carré's novel "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy";

spymaster - the head of an organization of spies;

honeytrap - a strategem in which irresistible bait is used to lure a victim;

kompro - compromising material;

beneficial owner - the ultimate owner of a security or company;

opaque - not transparent; with ownership that cannot be identified;

to hold someone’s hand - to guide someone through a process;

to deviate - to depart from the established course.


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