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 Russian Reaction Blog

“The churches are our barracks, the bells are our helmets, the Kremlin spires are our bayonets, and Putin trolls are our soldiers…”

… Well, it doesn’t have quite the ring of the better known poem that, having once landed Erdogan in jail, has now ensured his survival.

So people are now asking: Without Erdogan’s closer ties to a religion far more passionary than Orthodox Christianity, without his allegedly superior democratic credentials, would anyone actually bother out to defend the Dark Lord of the Kremlin cometh the Great Day of his Reckoning that every second Russia think-tank analyst in London and Washington D.C. has been prophesying for more than a decade?

Of course not. I even feel a bit stupid for putting fingers to keyboard to write this post. But nonsense has to be cleared up.

I

The first problem with thinking about a prospective Russian coup is finding even a semi-plausible candidate to play the plotters’ part.

The actors that immediately come to mind are the generals – but they are also the unlikeliest group to move against Putin. The last time the Russian armed forces had regularly played kingmaker was during the 17th century, when the streltsy acted as a kind of Praetorian guard to the Tsars. The last successful coup that relied on military support took place more than two century ago, when Catherine the Great deposed the wildly unpopular Peter III, an 18th century Wehraboo who had withdrawn Russia from a hard-fought but successful war against Prussia on account of his boyhood fascination with Frederick the Great and the Prussian Army. The Russian military would never again be politically influential. The Kornilov putsch in 1917 failed. In both 1991 and 1993, the Armed Forces remained loyal to their respective heads of state, Gorbachev and Yeltsin, even though neither man enjoyed their respect. Despite the frailty of post-Soviet polities, the entire region would only see three military coups after 1991: One successful coup in Georgia, and two coups in Azerbaijan, of which one was successful. Azerbaijan is, of course, the closest “relative” to Turkey – with its seven coups this past century alone – in the former USSR, so it is unlikely that its experience would be much extensible to Russia.

In contrast to both Gorbachev and Yeltsin, Putin has enjoyed consistently high approval ratings, and the respect of the military and siloviks in particular. He can speak their language and has furnished lavish spending on both the military and the security services. The current Defense Minister, Sergey Shoigu, is highly popular without harboring much in the way of personal political ambitions of his own. This is in contrast to his predecessor Anatoly Serdyukov, who was highly unpopular for his questionable reforms and blatant corruption. He was eventually dismissed from his post, but the corruption investigation went nowhere and was eventually quietly shut down. Although the legal impunity of the Russian political elites is one of the few real sources of popular discontent with Putinism, it may also play a role as a political safety valve. Bureaucrats who steal too much – Serdyukov, Yakunin, Luzhkov, etc. – might get dismissed, but don’t tend to go overtly hostile because, apart from their low chances of success and high risk of ruin, they also know that the next regime might not be so forgiving towards them.

It is ultimately the oligarchs who are the most credible threat to Putin’s power. After all, it was the oligarchs who were instrumental in keeping an ailing Yeltsin in power in 1996, who ruled it for a time as the Semibankirschina, and who eased the transition towards a Putin Presidency (upon which he promptly told them to get out of politics). They also played a huge role in the political life of the other post-Soviet states. In Georgia, it was essentially an oligarchic coup by the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili that doomed Saakashvili’s attempts to set himself up for permanent rule in late 2012. In Ukraine, it was above all the defection of several key oligarchs critical to the coalition supporting Viktor Yanukovych – together with their media assets and bought up Rada MPs – that ensured the success of Euromaidan (though a false flag helped). Moldova is essentially a playground for various oligarchic and nationalist factions. So oligarchs have a record of successfully influencing politics throughout the former USSR, and moreover, as a class they have no particular reasons to love Putin. So how much of a threat are they?

They are a bigger threat than any other force, but still not all that dangerous. First, there has already been stringent selection for loyalty; recalcitrants (Gusinsky, Berezovsky, Khodorkovsky, etc.) have long been purged or exiled abroad. The 1990s class of oligarchs, who have the most reason to hate Putin, now have very little institutional influence. Khodorkovsky tried to infiltrate the system by buying up Duma MPs in the early 2000s, which no doubt contributed to the decision to bring down the hammer of the law against him. Since his release he has said he wants to lead Russia (thus once again breaking his promise not to go into politics), but his main political asset is but a slick PR campaign centered almost exclusively on the West. How that could translate into meaningful political power in Russia is unclear to say the least.

Meanwhile, the large class of billionaires created in the 2000s has no particular reason to dislike Putin, especially since he was the man who enabled many of them to acquire or expand their fortunes; nor do they have much in the way of political influence, since staying out of politics was a condition of them being allowed to do large-scale business in the first place (Mikhail Prokhorov’s 2008 Presidential run was a mutually agreed upon exception). The supportive political role of the AKP-linked construction barons in Erdogan’s Turkey, who have gotten rich on providing homes and malls for Anatolians moving to the western cities, is in Russia played by a small group of Putin’s friends, who get privileged contracts in return for their loyalty and helping out with projects of national importance. Is this corrupt? Sure. But on the flip side, nobody apart from the Roternbergs was rushing to build a bridge to Crimea, because they have too many assets tied up in the West. Incidentally, speaking of the West, far from destabilizing Putin’s domestic position as initially hoped for, the sanctions on Russian figures close to Putin have only strengthened Putin’s position, since they are more reliant on his favor than ever before now that the option of fleeing to Londongrad has been foreclosed.

II

But okay, let’s put all that aside and wave a magic wand.

While Putin is away at a UN summit, his approval at a record low due to a recent crab-related sex scandal, a group of oligarchs manage to buy off the directors of most of the main TV channels, a large chunk of United Russia MPs, and the head of the Moscow police and OMON. Putin’s Cabinet are taken into custody. Khodorkovsky and the rest of his merry revolutionaries jet in, while Putin’s plane is discovered to have mechanical problems (a group of men are seen furtively sneaking out of the hangar), delaying his return to Russia for a number of critical hours.

In this scenario, will the coup go ahead successfully, the now liberal-controlled state TV brainwashing vatnik brains overnight into avid becoming avid supporters of Khodorkovsky and holding a gay parade in his honor, or will they take to the streets to preserve their democratically elected President/evil totalitarian regime (cross out as appropriate)?

Well, the first and most obvious “problem” is that Putin’s approval rating has hovered at a steady 60%-90% through the 16 years of his rule.

putin-approval-rating-1999-2016

Color revolutions, even coups, are pretty much impossible with these kinds of ratings. Yanukovych was in his 20%’s on the eve of Euromaidan (similar to Poroshenko today), and even lower in Kiev. Even the failed recent coup against Erdogan occured when he was in his 40%’s. All three of the post-Soviet coups came at a time of double-digit annual GDP collapse and civil war/failed war against Armenia. Despite political crises in 1961 and 1968, there was never a successful coup against France’s Charles de Gaulle, the postwar West European leader with whom Putin perhaps has the most commonalities; between 1958 and 1969, De Gaulle’s approval ratings averaged 60% (Putin: 75%), and never dipped below 42% (Putin: Low 60%’s).

One popular theory advanced by Daniel Treisman used to explain Putin’s Teflon-like popularity (and popularized in his book The Return) tied Putin’s (and Yeltsin’s) approval ratings to economic performance.

treisman-putin-approval-predicted-from-economics

However, as it later emerged, this tight correlation must have been an artifact. It broke down to the downside during the 2011-12 protests over electoral falsifications, even though the economy then was chugging along more or less normally; and it veered sharply upwards after the incorporation of Crimea in 2014, even as the economy went into a long recession.

So you can’t rely on sanctions and/or The Next Recession to torpedo Putin’s ratings.

Another popular theory is that Russian pollsters are unreliable. It is also incredibly illogical, since the Levada Center is for all intents and purposes an oppositional organization, and because even Western pollsters consistently confirm Putin’s high approval ratings.

The most nuanced critique is the “mile wide but inch deep” theory of post-Soviet politics, which as repeatedly applied to Putin’s Russia means that the population is too afraid to answer pollsters truthfully, and/or supports Putin but without much enthusiasm, such that they will all defect from him once his sorceror’s spell is broken, and the mind-control Towers of Saraksh crumble. (There is also of course an ideological component here as well, namely the unwillingness of Western elites to come to terms with democratic choices that they disapprove of, as has been blatantly demonstrated in the past year by their reactions to Brexit and Trump).

putin-approval-frye-estimates

This theory, however, has been conclusively debunked by Timothy Frye et al. in 2015, who used a double list experiment – a clever way of gauging attitudes towards a potentially controversial topic without respondents having to answer it directly – to confirm that Putin’s approval ratings as measured by mainstream pollsters were accurate to at least within 10 percentage points, and concluded that the “main obstacle at present to the emergence of a widespread opposition movement to Putin is not that Russians are afraid to voice their disapproval of Putin, but that Putin is in fact quite popular.”

III

Leonid Bershidsky identifies three reasons why a coup might have better prospects against Putin than against Erdogan.

First, Bershidsky claims that as an “essentially one-party democracy,” Russian voters will not be under any great incentive to defend their votes: “Putin’s supporters are passive and often dependent on government largesse – which might still be available from whoever tries to depose the president.” This is a dangerous assumption for the coup plotters, and as shown above, almost certainly a false one.

Second, Turkey has allowed foreign media to operate widely: “As a result, it wasn’t state television but the secularist, private Dogan media group, which owns the CNN Turk TV channel, that put Erdogan on the air first so he could tell the nation he was fighting the coup attempt.” Because of course the Western media is well known for its impartiality towards Putin and its absolute respect for democracy. It’s not like they’ve spent the past sixteen years relentlessly smearing Putin and denying the democratic choices of the Russian people.

Third, Bershidsky points out that “vibrant connection to organized religion is another strength of the Erdogan regime.” Although Putin has a good relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church, it is true that that nobody is going to come out even if they were to ring their bells. However, Russia does have a means of instantly politically mobilizing its population: “Patriotic” websites and social media.

Within an hour, if not minutes, of a hostile coup, patriotic bloggers such as Nikolay Starikov are going to call their readers out into the streets. So will Sergey Kurginyan’s patriotic-Communist “Essence of Time” movement. They will have a huge immediate audience because Internet penetration in Moscow is at 80%, and close to 70% in the rest of Russia.

This is barely mentioned or remembered nowadays, but it is worth mentioning that during the 2011-12 wave of protests, when Putin’s approval ratings were at their nadir, the Kurginyanites still managed to pull off the single biggest (counter)protest of that entire electoral cycle, and they did it in the country’s most oppositional city at the time.

Even if, at the time of the coup, Putin’s approval rating were to drop to a historic low of 50%, that would still leave 16% of Russians whose “Putinism Quotient” is +1 S.D. above the average – perhaps, many of the 16% of Russians who today either have or want to acquire a portrait or sculpture of Putin – who are strong Putin supporters and who would spill over into the streets, like the 800,000 Parisians who marched against a Communist revolution and in support of Charles de Gaulle on May 30, 1968.

The 2% of Russians whose PQ is +2 S.D. above the mean – i.e., easily 100,000 Muscovites alone – would be the ones lynching coup sympathizers on the streets and engaging in battles with the Traitor Legions.

And there does exist a group of people, the +3 S.D. types, too embarassingly fanatical to be overtly associated even for your average Putin supporter, small in percentage terms but nonetheless substantial in absolute numbers, who can more or less fairly be described as Putin cultists:

The path laid by the father is not one of argument with him, but rather argument with the open world laying before us, an argument in which we are together with the father, at one with him,” it says. “We don’t fight with the power of the father, we share it, we learn the power, we master the power, together with the father we direct its energy toward our present and future.

Presumably, they will most certainly not take the coup lying down (unless it’s in front of a tank).

This is ultimately all just bell curve dynamics.

It is almost impossible that the Army or any significant portion of the security agencies would support the coupists. The Russian Armed Forces are a mix of conscripts and professionals. Conscripts tend to come from poorer, working-class families – i.e., more patriotic than hipsters who avoid service – and the professional soldiers are self-selected for greater patriotism, as with militaries almost anywhere. As for the generals, as mentioned above, it is hard to see them ditching the reliable Putin they know for an unelected emigre and convicted financial fraudster from Switzerland.

With neither the people nor the Army behind them, the coup will fail. And that is also why it will almost certainly never start.

There are several conceivable ways in which the Putin regime could end prematurely – an accident or assassination, a huge geopolitical defeat, or perhaps a liberalization of the political system that veers out of control – but a coup is not one of them under both the current and most conceivable future circumstances.

 

Turkey has a proud and rich history of military coups. As analysts tirelessly point out, they are even sanctioned by the Constitution as a means of preserving secularism.

However, those days have come to an end.

The abortive coup of the past few days was in all likelihood the dying gasp of 20th century Turkey.

I

In Western op-eds over the years, there has been rising disquiet over the AKP’s “Islamization” of Turkish society, including the education system. However, if opinion polls are anything to go by, the Islamization effect has been slight.

According to the World Values Survey, a comprehensive survey of global cultural values that runs in multiyear “waves,” there has been no very significant rise in religious fervor in Turkish society from the first wave in 1989-1993 to the last wave in 2010-2014. A mere 1% of Turks disbelieve in God, but that is barely different from 2% in the mid-1990s (and exactly analogous to the US in the early 1980s and Poland in the early 1990s). The percentage of Turks who listed “religious faith” as one of the more desirable traits for their children fell from 44% to 40% in the last 25 years, and while the percentage of Turks who consider religious faith to be “very important” rose from 60% in the early 1990s to around 80% through the rest of the 1990s and 2000s, in the very last wave of surveys that number fell back to 68%. The percentage of Turks considering themselves to be a “religious person” rose from 73% in the early 1990s, but has remained stable at around 80%-85% ever since. And despite all the mosque building under the AKP, religious attendance has virtually no changes over the past quarter century and only 1% of Turks say they are members of a religious organization.

The banal reality is that Turkey has consistently been a conservative and strongly religious society (even if it is nothing on the scale of Arab countries where half or more of the population supports the death penalty for adultery and apostasy). Some 70% of Turks agree that in conflicts between religious and science, the former is “always” right. This is lower than the 90%+ agreement rate you see in Arab Muslim countries for this question, but is considerably higher than in the more religious Western countries such as the US (39%) and Poland (25%) – or for that matter in Russia (22%), for all the rhetoric about it becoming a theocracy.

On the other hand, a generation ago, masses of bearded men would not have come out onto the streets of Istanbul, charging rifle tanks and putting themselves in the way of tanks, to defend an Islamist President against a military coup. They would not have then proceeded to beat up and in some cases lynch surrending soldiers, most of whom – as it now emerges – were hapless conscripts who were not even aware that they were participating in a coup.

But if this wasn’t a case of the AKP’s Islamization campaign generating many more hardcore Islamists, what actually changed?

II

The answer ultimately lies in Turkish demographics: In short, the devout Muslims have migrated to the cities.

In the past generation, Turkey has urbanized at breakneck speeds. The urban population share of Turkey has increased from 44% in 1980, the data of the last major successful coup, to 73% today. In absolute numbers, this translated in an increase from 20 million to 55 million urban denizens during this period, including a fivefold increase in Istanbul from 3 million to 15 million. The other western coastal cities and Ankara also saw major increases.

From 1965 to today, the share of the Turkish population residing in richer, more heavily urbanized Western Turkey soared from a third to a half, while poorer and more rural Central Turkey and Eastern Turkey fell from a third each to 23% and 28%, respectively. However, Western Turkey also has the country’s lowest fertility rates, at less than the replacement level rate of 2.1 and comparable to those seen in the North-Eastern USA.

turkey-fertility-rate-2000

Total fertility rates in Turkey in 2000.

So where did their new denizens come from?

turkey-internal-migration

Internal migration in Turkey.

They came from the Anatolian hinterlands, whose fertility rates – almost one expected child more in Marmara and the Aegean coast – are comparable to that of Utah, not New England. They are much more conservative, much more religious, and less socioeconomically advanced (Western coastal Turkey has a GDP per capita comparable to Greece, whereas Central Turkey is more comparable to Romania and the Kurdish triangle to the southest converges to more overtly Third World conditions).

These people of Middle Turkey, derided as backwards country bumpkins and Islamist retrogrades by coastal Kemalist latte-sipping urbanites, have their own political vision…

turkey-2011-elections-results

Typical Turkish electoral map (2011 elections).

… which is centered on the social conservatism and political “Islamism Lite” of Erdogan and the AKP. And they continue to have many more babies than the traditional westcoasters, even after moving there: Whereas in 2003 the TFR of urban natives across all of Turkey was a mere 1.68 children per woman, considerably lower than the all Turkish average of 2.23 children per woman, for rural-to-urban migrants it was 2.82 children per women, and only modestly lower than the 3.28 rate for rural natives.

Incidentally, this also explains the strong Islamism, low socioeconomic status, high fertility rates (higher than back home!), and high degree of Erdogan support amongst German Turks. The Gastarbeiters primarily hailed from Middle Turkey, and the migration to Germany was just one aspect of the mass population movement from there to more advanced areas in the second part of the 20th century.

III

And all this, possibly more so than contingent factors like poor planning or the failure to eliminate Erdogan, explains why the military coup failed.

First off, this internal migration of virile Islamists created a class of urbanites in Ankara and especially Istanbul who were ready to go out for and in some cases to lay their lives down for their beliefs. While historically rapid urbanization was associated with political instability and revolution, the major difference is that in Turkey, it is Erdogan who is the candidate of the sans-culottes and of the factory workers. In previous coups, the military could take control to reinstate secularism at will, and what was an aggrieved Muslim in the Anatolian boondocks to do about it? Stew in his own juices. But now, those same people could flood into the streets, having been rapidly mobilized by their neighborhood imams and Erdogan pleading for help on social media.

Second, it should be noted that the economic effects of Anatolian urbanization have worked strongly to the Islamists’ favor. Apart from the direct benefits to people’s pockets that came with the fusion of political Islam and economic liberalization, the construction projects associated with the mass Anatolian relocation to Ionia and Marmara, as well as the industries that sprang up to service their needs (retail, credit, etc.), has created a class of Turkish oligarchs. Moreover, unlike in say Russia, where the oil & gas oligarch class remains somewhat resentful of Putin for circumscribing their power after the 1990s free-for-all when not expropriating their ill-gotten gains outright, the Turkish oligarchs created in the 1990s generally have more reasons to remain loyal to the regime:

The names of those allegedly involved reads like a Who’s Who of Turkey’s ­government-linked oligarchy, whose firms have profited in recent years from the more than $100bn-worth of public contracts awarded by the AKP. Nepotism in the awarding of tenders has long been one of the most visible signs of corruption in Turkey, and in the AKP’s years a coterie of construction firms has risen up around it.

A hostile oligarch class combined with an independent military makes for a highly unstable polity and has been the traditional bane of populist governments in Latin America. Erdogan, however, has successfully coopted the oligarch class through the same mechanisms that won him the support of a critical mass of people in Turkey’s twin capitals.

IV

It is now increasingly evident that a political transformation of cardinal proportions is taking place in Turkey. As of the time of writing, around 30 governors, 100 generals, 2,700 judges, 3,000 soldiers, and 8,000 police have been dismissed or arrested – in short, something like a third of Turkey’s high-level apparat has been purged. Although there remain good grounds to continue to doubt that the coup was “planned” by Erdogan, it’s pretty clear that the Black Book was written long beforehand for just such an occasion.

If Erdogan now uses the opportunity to take Turkey in a much more Islamist direction what do the demographic trends indicate about his chances of longterm success?

First off, it was not that the incidence of religiosity has increased in Turkey. In fact, DESPITE the much higher fertility rates of the Islamists, and more than a decade’s worth of active Islamization, religiosity in Turkey has only modestly increased during the 2000s and actually seems to have started falling again by the time of the fifth WVS (see above). This is quite stunning in that it implies that the global secular trend towards secularism (LOL) is incredibly strong, in that even in Turkey it has succeeded in holding its own against very powerful demographic and propaganda countercurrents. Even if Turkey went so far as to delink itself from the Council of Europe and NATO, it’s not clear why these secularizing forces should stop acting on it.

Second, there is the Kurdish factor. Although the oft made case for similarities between Putin and Erdogan have tended to be overstated, there is one sphere in which I think where the comparison is legitimate: Ethnic policy. Both are “manynationals” who are using ideology to try to glue their country together – Islam is basically the Turkish version of Russia’s WW2 Victory cult with a small dose of “spiritual buckles” like the anti-LGBT law. But if anything Turkey’s problems are more acute. Russia’s only truly “problematic” region in that it combines an aggrieved ethnicity with a high total fertility rate – which at 2.9 children per woman is not even that high – is Chechnya, which only has 1% of Russia’s population. In contrast, Kurdish Turkestan has more than 10% of the Turkish population and almost all of its provinces have a fertility rate of greater than 3 children per woman. Will an even more rigorous Islamization campaign keep them within Turkey or will the gravitational attraction of the incipient Rojava state prove to be unavoidable?

On that particular front, there are few grounds for optimism. It is above all Erdogan’s own foreign policy that enabled the rise of Rojava and it is too late to put the lid on it; certainly it is beyond the capabilities of the SAA itself, which has enough problems dealing with Al Nusra and Islamic State to say nothing of an SDF that is now supported by US airpower. And Turkey’s own military capabilities have, at least in the short-term, been sharply curtailed by Erdogan own purge of as many high-ranking officers (percentage wise) within a couple of days as Stalin only managed to do over the course of a year.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Color Revolution, Demographics, Turkey

The only two major world political factions that ever seem to be willing to shed their own blood for their beliefs are nationalists and Islamists.

In Ukraine it was the hardened Neo-Nazi thugs of Right Sector who hammered in the last few nails in the Yanukovych regime. They were also reliably the best units of the military forces sent to pacify the Donbass, even though the regular Ukrainian Army had access to plenty of solid Soviet gear while the likes of Azov had to make do with “innovative tanks” i.e. glorified shitwagons. Even the best NAF units were typically not locals defending their land (who always constituted the solid majority) but Russians passionate enough to cross borders to defend and expand the Russian World. And even amongst them, the Nazi elements, such as Rusich Company, though small, were man for man some of the very best warriors of the conflict.

You can also see this in Syria. Apart from a small number of “elite” forces (relatively speaking), such as Tiger Forces and the 4th Armored Division, the great mass of the SAA maintains a passive profile; likewise, the FSA, composed of SAA defectors and the more moderate elements. It is the Islamist Al Nusra and Al Sham who are consistently the most willing to go on the offensive, and they do this with considerable finesse that that is uncharacteristic of typical Arab armies. Its counterpart is, of course, Hezbollah. And then there’s Islamic State – what it lacks in military skill it makes up for in sheer fanaticism. This is going to trigger a lot of people, but in a very real way Islamism IS the Middle East’s version of the Alt Right.

Probably not coincidentally, they also have the best “inspirational” music. Is there any tune on the planet more badass than the Teufelslied? And you can’t deny that the mujahideen can sure come up with a catchy nasheed (despite being hampered by their own ideology’s prohibition on instrumental music).

This is also evident in battles on the streets. The coup plotters in Turkey were either Gulenist Islamists (official regime version), or perhaps they were nationalists angered by Erdosliv (what I currently believe to be the case), but what they almost surely were not was nice boring “Blue Team” liberal democrats. As for the hardcore 10%-20% out of Erdogan’s supporters, who account for half the Turkish population and who charged rifle lines and cut the throats of the tankmen who had moments earlier run over their comrades, their motivations are most certainly not centered around Thomas Jefferson (or Ataturk) either. The apolitical Turkish conscripts, with no steel in their spine, had no chance against the ruthless machinations of the officers who duped them into thinking it was all just an exercise or the Orkish fanaticism of the enraged Islamists.

This is why the Russian liberal reaction to this (as with everything else) has been so typically amusing.

“Well done to the Turks! Maybe we could repeat after them?” opined Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Twitter (the tycoon who has waged a personal vendetta against Putin ever since he put an end to the 1990s).

(Incidentally, one suspects Khodorkovsky’s former lawyer Robert Amsterdam might not be too happy about his former client’s stance. Looks like someone hired him to now attack the Gulenists. Lawyers always were shameless mercenaries…)

The irony is that Moscow’s liberal hamsters have about as much chance of overthrowing the regime as Occupy Wall Street SJWs of living up to their name. Very few people want to throw themselves in front of a tank for Team Blue, Khodorkovsky, and Soros – regardless of how hard they egg them on from the sidelines, or even better, from abroad.

To the extent that “people power” is anything more than an invention of ivory tower ideologues obsessed with social media, it is for the most part only the Nazis and the Islamists who can actually harness it by dint of their maxed out “will to power” stats.

It also means that the only way in which a “people’s revolt” can unseat Putin is if it comes from the nationalists (the liberals are too limp-wristed, and the Islamists are too small in number, Maskvabad tropes regardless). And the only way that can materialize in the conceivable medium-term future is it Putin was to implement Putinsliv (abandonment of the LDNR) for real as opposed to just in the imaginations of some overly fervid minds.

Almost certainly won’t happen, even in this scenario. Unlike Mediterranean and Latin American polities, the Russian Army has no tradition of independent political activism and has almost always been consistently loyal to the party in power. The system has been reinforced by a National Guard. And Putin’s approval ratings remain on the order of 80%. That’s very likely enough to beat any nationalists gone postal into submission.

If not, though, it is precisely the liberals who will be most fondly remembering the good old Putin days.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Alt Right, Asabiya, Russia, Turkey

Three hours after this story began to break it’s increasingly clear that we are seeing the biggest Happening of 2016 to date, far overshading the Nice terrorist attacks yesterday. As Lenin purportedly said, “Sometimes decades pass and nothing happens; and then sometimes weeks pass and decades happen.”

The initial regime response was to blame the Gulenists, but it is clear now that it is in fact a Kemalist faction within the military (their branding of themselves as a “peace at home council” is a direct allusion to Kemal’s foreign policy). A key question going forwards is to what extent the military is united against Erdogan, or whether it is just the officer ranks taking the lead (in which case rumors of Erdogan’s demise might be “highly exaggerated”). That the head of the General Staff, instead of making statements as the coup leader, has instead been detained, suggests that the second interpretation is closer to the mark. However, it’s well known that Erdogan had replaced the upper ranks of the General Staff with his own loyalists. The question then becomes to what extent the changes percolated down the ranks.

It appears they haven’t – not enough, at any rate, to avert the seventh Turkish military coup since 1913. Ankara and Istanbul are apparently under military control, as are most of the airports and state TV channels. The military has surrounded government buildings across Turkey, including the Parliament and the Presidential Palace, in what currently appears to be an extremely well-executed coup that could not have been carried out if the military had truly been significantly divided. The F-16s seen in the air indicates that the Air Force supports the Army. Erdogan has been reduced to calling on social media for people to go out into the streets, even though the AKP ruling party itself had ironically repeatedly banned both social media and street protests in the past. Even as he calls for this supporters to go out into the streets, latest rumors have Erdogan asking for asylum in Berlin and/or London (there are jokes on Runet that he could soon be the ProFFesor’s new neighbor in Rostov).

The next key question, then, is what will be the response of the other actors in Turkish society and abroad: The people, military units stationed outside Istanbul/Ankara, the Kurds, and the “international community” (aka the US and its allies).

Despite the well publicized problems of its tourist sector, as the Russians boycotted Turkish beaches after the Su-24 shootdown and Europeans increasingly stayed away out of terrorism fears, the wider Turkish economy has not been doing at all badly – growth was 4% in 2015, rising to 4.8% in Q1 2016. In contrast, the last coup in 1980 had been preceeded by one of the worst crises in Turkish economic history, featuring a multi-year recession and triple digit inflation. Erdogan’s approval rating in 2015, at 39%, was still quite respectable, even if significantly down from 62% in 2013. It was also higher than Yanukovych’s 28% approval rating on the eve of Euromaidan. It is reasonable to expect a large level of popular opposition to his ouster, though given the overt violence and military curfews, we might not see the sort of mass marches in support of Erdogan that helped return Charles de Gaulle to power after the insurrections of 1968 (who had in the meantime fled to a French military base in Germany in a curious parallel to Erdogan’s rumored asylum request).

Although a low-intensity civil war against the PKK has reignited under Erdogan, so far as official politics are concerned, the Kurds remain supportive of Erdogan – who at least stresses a more inclusive Islamic “many-national” identity for Turkish citizens (much like official Putinism with regards to Russian minorities) as opposed to the more overtly Turkish civic nationalist Kemalists who oppose him.

Finally, Turkey is a member of NATO, and friends look out for each other. Obama has already stated that all parties in Turkey should “support the democratically elected government of Turkey,” a sentiment that was conspicuously lacking during Euromaidan, even though Yanykovych was just as democratically elected as Erdogan and not any more corrupt, but unlike the Turkish strongman imprisoned zero journalists to Erdogan’s dozens, wasn’t anywhere near as violent at breaking up protests, and hasn’t had family members implicated in buying oil from ISIS. But US double standards on which regimes deserve color revolutions and which do not is hardly breaking news but a long well known and banal reality. And it matters as well. In the event that the coup does end up succeeding, with Turkey’s financial indicators cliff-diving, the position of the military junta will be precaurious and isolated, which might well lead it to strongly reaffirm its loyalty to its Western allies and supranational institutions.

Which probably means that, understandable as it might for Russia to celebrate, doing so might well be a premature. The obvious reason is that the success of the coup is not yet a done deal (indeed, even as I write this, momentum seems to have shifted again as compared with several paragraphs previously).

But another reason is that a Kemalist military junta will not necessarily be any better for Russia (and Syria) than Erdogan, and quite possibly, worse.

Up until the Syrian Civil War, there was a lot of BRICS/”Rise of the Rest”-style triumphalist fanfare over strengthening ties between Turkey and Russia, expressed in Russian tourism to the beaches of Antalya, burgeoning gas projects, and nuclear power plant construction. These sentiments completely reversed after the Turks shot down a Su-24 for crossing into its borders for a few seconds. In recent weeks, however, it appears the Turkish and Russian leadership agreed to bury their differences, with Erdogan sending his apology(-but-not-really) letter to Putin, and Russia lifting the ban on charter holidays to Turkey. And as if on cue, Kremlin propagandists have gone from “remove kebab” mode to hailing yet another victory of Putin and waxing lyrical about the prospects for renewed cooperation.

Observed on a longer timescale, relations between Putin’s Russia and Erdogan’s Turkey have been characterized by pragmatism – or at least as near can be considering the absurdly large scope for geopolitical hostility between them, regardless of which particular faction rules either country.

Consider the following contested spheres of influence:

Central Asia: Especially Azerbaijan, which is closely related to Turkey, while Russia backs Turkey’s bugbear Armenia along with Iran; as well as the Turkic peoples of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, where Turkey is also interested in extending its influence. Clashes here can be expected to accentuate when Russian Eurasianism and/or Turkish Pan-Turanism strengthens.

The Balkans: Turkey is historically a sponsor of its Muslim coreligionists there, while Russia is a historical sponsor of the Orthodox, especially Serbia. The situation there is now fairly calm there, but this might not last whenever the Balkans enters one of its periodic flareups of instability, especially if Russian Pan-Slavism and/or Turkish Islamism becomes more influential.

Crimea: Turkey is a historical sponsor of the Crimean Tatars, who have a divided (if not hostile) relation to Russia. The Ukraine has warmed up greatly to Erdogan’s Turkey, especially after the Su-24 incident (to be expected of a country whose politicians call on ISIS to behead Russian airmen). Not an issue while Russia remains strong, but liable to be a subject of Turkish demands or even claims should Russia’s position weaken, e.g. if Putin is replaced by pro-Western liberals.

Syria: The most recent focal point, as Turkey’s Neo-Ottoman and Russia’s “warm water ports”-national focus both spiked at the same time. There is also a nationalist and Turanist element in this for Turkey; the guy who shot the Russian fighter pilot as he was parachuting down was not an Islamist, but a “Gray Wolf” nationalist and the son of a nationalist MHP politician.

Note that the MHP itself is intimately connected with NATO, Operation Gladio, and the Turkish “deep state” that Erdogan has repressed, but none of which can be at all described as friends of Russia (except perhaps a few marginal Duginist Eurasians). Indeed, it is rather curious that this “Khaki Revolution” has come at the precise time when we are seeing a sort of “Erdosliv,” or the apparent surrender on Turkey’s Neo-Ottoman and Turanian pretensions in Syria (Turkish equivalent of Putinsliv, the much prophesied but as yet unrealized Russian betrayal of the LDNR), which took the form of the restoration of ties with Russia, followed by making up with Israel and amazingly, Syria itself in recent days.

Now if Erdogan was to be now replaced by a military junta, as per above, the new regime will find itself stuck between a rock and a hard place. Not much is known about the motivations of the coup plotters, but let us play a thought experiment. An easy way of (re)gaining favor with the West, as well as appease hostile sentiment within Turkey itself, would be to – ironically – reverse that very same Erdosliv, bearing in mind that the State Department hawks themselves have been in no rush to normalize relations with Assad. In the short term, this might involve reopening munitions supplies to the rebels in Aleppo and Idlib, making the planned SAA offensive against them untenable. Once Hillary Clinton and her R2P/humanitarian bombing clique comes to power, comes to power, even more daring – and perhaps outright apocalyptic – provocations might ensue against Russian forces in Syria.

Or maybe – even probably – not.

Even so, this particular conjunction in Turkish foreign policy developments and the coup against Erdogan is probably not a complete coincidence. And while it is tempting to celebrate unreservedly the troubles of a man who has become close to universally disliked outside Turkey – his human rights abuses amongst liberals, his support of ISIS amongst conservatives, the downing of the Su-24 amongst Russians, his support for Islamists amongst Syrians – it is worth looking closely at what the alternatives to him would entail.

Ultimately, there is a reason that the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire fought a war pretty much every other decade. Exchanging Sultans and Tsars for Presidents is probably not going to alter the underlying geopolitical faultlines.

Now to be sure, Turkey’s Neo-Ottoman stance after Erdogan gave up on FM Ahmet Davutoglu’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy until a month ago did lead to competition with Russia along many fronts. But if Turkey was to change in a more Eurasian direction, unlikely as the prospect might be, tensions might diminish over the Balkans (more centered around religion) but might instead intensify over Azerbaijan and Central Asia (more centered around ethno-cultural identity). And if Turkey were to become more explicitly tied to Washington and NATO, especially under a Clinton Presidency, then that might be the worse outcome of them all for Russia, for Syria, and for world peace.

After all, even a hostile but independent Turkey can be feasibly played off against a hostile West, whereas a “nationalist” Turkey in thrall to the neocon globalist agenda might end up turning out to be but a copy, if a more powerful one, of Maidanist Ukraine to the north.

EDIT +6 HOURS AFTER COUP BEGAN

It does increasingly look like the coup has failed. The critical moment appears to have been the failure to arrest Erdogan and other senior members of the government from the outset (though since many of the coup plotters were officers, not generals, they presumably just didn’t have the necessary high level access… they did apparently bomb his hotel, but by that time, he had already left). And, as I suspected, Erdogan’s not insubstantial popularity played its role as well, with crowds coming out to protect him with their bodies and the conscripts doing the gruntwork of the coup being unwilling to get too bloody.

I suspect that Erdogan will now simply be too consumed with domestic factors to pay much heed to foreign policy in the months ahead. This is probably good.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Color Revolution, Geopolitics, Turkey

I would like to thank everyone for participating in the Reader Poll 2016.

The responses have been very helpful and have helped spur me on to make some strategic changes to the way I’ll proceed with my blogging forthwith.

reader-poll-2016-results

First off, it’s good to know that the average “quality of posts” mark was 4.2/5, so I guess deleting my account and doing something more productive online, like mining gold on Warcraft, is premature. The “regularity of posts” marker could do with some improvements. There seems to be general satisfaction with the commenting policy, so I will largely keep to my hands off approach (apart from cracking down on some of the most egregious trolls). Otherwise, since the quality of comments are largely a function of the quality of the blog posts they are responding to – for instance, no-one would bother trolling the blog of someone like pseudoerasmus – the onus here is on me more than anyone else.

In terms of topics – geopolitics, Russia, HBD, futurism – no change is merited. Although my Russia/geopolitics fanbase is the biggest one, it is not absolutely preponderant, and besides, there are plenty of people who like the mix and match approach (e.g. Russia + futurism, geopolitics + HBD, etc). Besides, of the top 5 listed blogs that people read in addition to mine, three are HBD blogs (Sailer, GNXP, West Hunt) while The Saker is only third.

Finally, there is pretty overwhelming demand for me to start writing reviews, which is something I’m entirely happy to accomodate. As a base for future reviews here, I have created a special web page at my home website here: http://akarlin.com/library/

It contains a sortable list of most of the books I’ve (fully) read, the video games I’ve played, and some of the films I’ve watched as well as the categories they belong to, their publication dates, my ratings of them, and where available, links to my already existing reviews of them. That list will remain updated in the future.

The biggest change I will be making, however, is in regards to social media.

zucky-and-peons

Zuck Walks Past His Oblivious VR Addled Peons

I am leaving Twitter and Facebook.

There are good reasons for this, which I will soon expound on, but just in case you mostly follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook, the most convenient way of continuing to do so as well as keep up with multiple other blogs is to use a feed reader. Feedly is generally acknowledged to be the best in existence today, though there are also others such as the The Old Reader which reproduce much of the functionality of the much missed Google Reader. To follow my blog in particular, just insert one of the following feeds:

… into the search/input box on your feed reader and click to subscribe. This is an extremely convenient tool if you follow multiple blogs or even individual columnists. (Most, though not all, news websites now have separate feeds for individual categories, authors, etc).

Now back to the social media question.

The proximate (or “selfish”) reason is that the Reader Poll revealed that I do not depend near as much on social media for my audience as I had imagined. Although a third of respondents follow me on Twitter, only 11% use it as the primary way to follow my posts. A mere two respondents follow me on Facebook. Now if those figures had been inverse, at 90%, then obviously abandoning those platforms would have been unfeasible. But if I only stand to lose at most 10% of my more engaged readers – and that’s assuming none of them switch over to other ways of following my blog (see above) – then its a price worth paying for cutting my reliance on a facet of modern society that I have gradually come to view as being even so much superficial as negative value added.

Yes, that’s right. Much like Soviet factories in the early 1990s, or arguably the metastasized financial sector in the West today, my argument is that social media consumes far more useful resources than the questionable “benefits” it produces. Far from “democratizing” global discourse, as techno-utopians hoped it would in the optimistic days of the first decade of the 21st century, it has in fact privileged soundbytes over sound analysis, confounded and contaminated rather than clarified, decelerated and devalued intellectual progress, and entrenched the power of the economic and political elites.

Let’s look at these bold claims one by one.

First, social media has been heralded for increasing the amount of information at the fingertips of the “global citizen” (a creature that is just as mythical today as he was in the days of its inventor Immanuel Kant). This may be so, but the banal fact is that for a long time now, the problem has not been so much a lack of information as a surfeit of it. (In the big picture, historians only suffer from a paucity of sources as regards pre-Early Modern Europe; since at least the nineteenth century, the struggle has been over what to include and emphasize). There is still a problem of limited access to important information – the Bilderbergers don’t seem to be in any particular rush to open up the minutes of their meetings, for all that their counterparts (largely the same class of people) at Davos wax lyrical about this brave new world of openness and transparency. There has been some formidable theoretical and more importantly, practical and technological work to undermine this, spearheaded by Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and the rest of the “cypherpunk” mileau, but guess what percentage of that had anything whatsoever to do with social media. That’s right – zilch.

This hints at a related problem, a paradox even: Even though there might be a surfeit of information, there is at the same time a deficit of useful information. Nicholas Nassim Taleb, one of the few public intellectuals worthy of the title, made the brilliant observation in Black Swan that “news shared with millions gives you no real advantage,” since it is inevitably already priced into people’s models of the world. Furthermore, apart from wasting your time, there is a real risk that reading newspapers might even “decrease your knowledge of the world” insofar as the media foist upon you a narrative interpretation of reality that often has little or nothing to do with reality itself. Now if this is the case for newspapers, how much more so for Twitter? Taleb’s recommendation is to “denarrate, that is, shut down the television set, minimize time spent reading newspapers, ignore the blogs.” Very good advice, even if mercenary self-interest makes me argue for making at least a partial exception to that last part…

Second, social media has been praised for enabling “people power” and unleashing the revolutionary energies that would overthrow creaky old authoritarian regimes – a Whiggish faith in progress that approaches cult status, or technological solutionism as Evgeny Morozov called it. To be sure, it is true enough that social media has of course played a substantial role in fomenting so-called “color revolutions” across the post-Soviet and Islamic worlds – Moldova, Egypt, Ukraine, Armenia, Syria, etc. (with not inconsiderable help from “activist training programs” run by the State Department and its various affiliates-in-practice-if-not-name, Western oligarchs like George Soros, and the tech giants themselves).

The problem is that a monkey clattering away at a keyboard is still a monkey. Almost without exception, all the countries where color revolutions prevailed have proceeded to collapse in on themselves. This pattern is not surprising to anyone who has bothered to acquaint himself with the accounts of these color revolution activists, many of which are characterized by a distinctive mixture of boorishness, gratuitous profanity, parochial nationalism, and a vindictive authoritarian streak that in the case of Ukraine extended to using the #banderakaratel hashtag to organize the mass abuse of Twitter’s report function to get opposing voices banned from the platform (despite this being an egregious violation of its own TOS, it took Twitter almost two years from the time of Euromaidan to do anything about this, by which point the campaign had long ceased to be very relevant). Once in power, these Yuropean intellectuals turned their attention to renaming everything after Bandera, even as their country collapsed around them. What was prophesied to be a torch for liberty has become a bullhorn for demagoguery and destruction.

Third, and again paradoxically, the real influence of social media – at least as a means for promoting truly original ideas, as opposed to their pastiches – remains highly marginal and circumscribed. Now I realize that this will raise some hackles at a time when Alt Right shitlords on Twitter are seemingly at the forefront of a popular reaction against the elites, while SJWs and Tumblrettes have appropriated the discourse on the Left from crusty old Communists (now “tankies“) and trade unionists. But think about it: In a hundred years, assuming that the Great Filter doesn’t do us in, who of the following will be remembered, and who will be but a footnote in the history books at best? Will it be the ephemeral, half-virtual protest movements, or the writers of the Big Books?

Look around you. Almost none of the hardcore intellectuals are on Twitter. Where is Andrew Wiles? Perelman? Shinichi Mochizuki? At best, they occasionally update their academic home page. Voluntary reclusion seems to be a constant prerequisite for getting serious intellectual work done. Who is the most prominent scientist on Twitter? Neil deGrasse Tyson. A professional publicist whose real achievements in astronomy are close to zero. The same goes for social scientists and historians. Those who are now primarily showmen are active on Twitter. Emmanuel Todd is not.

The flip side of the coin is that there are a number of potential intellectuals who instead crashed and burned on social media. The most prominent example in our parts might be Michael Anissimov, whose rather good and original ideas on neoreactionary political philosophy have been overshadowed by his misadventures on Twitter. The platform might have some marginal benefits in terms of publicity, but it carries the risk of cognitive contamination, and the ROI in terms of time does not look good. This is not something I have been immune from myself. For instance, I might have had a dopamine high from “winning” (perhaps) a debate on HBD/immigration with Leonid Bershidsky, but at the end of the day, he is a highly influential journalist with a column in Bloomberg and I am not.

The banal reality is that if you are a publicist on social media you are probably not near as witty as you think you are, probably quite superfluous, and many other people do what you do much better anyway (for instance, much of the Alt Right can quit any day, safe in the knowledge that Ricky Vaughn will continue hitting out of the ballpark). You are also, in all likelihood, just repeating yourself. My last Facebook post as of the time of writing, dated June 23, is a link to former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul’s Tweet in which he acknowledges that Putin is “not responsible” (for Brexit):

Come to think of it, isn’t this ironic ReTweet more or less what I have been saying since… I started blogging? And haven’t I been writing about the link between IQ and economic development since 2008, when I was less than two years out of high school? Yes I have, but in the meantime, Garett Jones has written an actual book about this, while low energy types such as myself, whom The Donald rightfully mocks, whiled away their time on frivolous activities. Shitlibs LOL. SJWs LOL. Svidomites LOL. Let’s write 140 characters on their latest inanity. It elicits a chuckle and is soon forgotten in the poorly indexed cyberwastes that are social media’s archives.

Social media has pretty much single-handedly killed off the once flourishing discourse across the blogosphere, reminiscent of the “culture of letters” in the long bygone heyday of European civilization. Here is Scholar’s Stage evocative account of what happened in the strategy sphere, though I can confirm from personal experience that exactly analogous processes were under way in the Russia watching world, and almost certainly in many other topical networks:

Many of the 200 word hot takes that would have ended up on a blog or forum in the days of yesteryear now happen on social media sites. Likewise, most commentary that would have ended up in a comments thread is now tweeted and retweeted on Twitter.

This brings me to a broader point I want to make about social media’s intersection with intellectual progress (or the lack thereof).

I was once at a futurist debate where one of the speakers was ranting some technoutopian nonsense about how high-bandwidth brain to brain communication systems would revolutionize science and allow much faster progress. I remarked, not at all facetiously, that we already have such a system: It’s called Twitter.

After all, it’s not the bandwidth or the ease of communications that’s bottlenecking anything; it’s a plain lack of the sort of very high-level intelligence that we increasingly need as the Flynn Effect grinds to a halt and we slam against the technological frontier. Social media do almost nothing to extend it. Bandwidth is already superfluous, more than our Dunbar Number brain can handle anyway, and is swamped by a low signal-to-noise ratio besides. Admittedly, social media does probably make information marginally easier to find, but I would argue that Alexandra Elbakyan’s humble academic paper sharing/piracy project Sci-Hub by itself has already achieved at least as much for global intellectual progress as Facebook and Twitter combined.

Finally, by rewiring so many first class brains from deep analytical mode to dopamine-seeking wisecrack mode – Charles Murray and even (ironically) N. N. Taleb himself might be in the early stages of that – social media might have ultimately retarded progress. This is not to even mention the considerable cognitive effort that has been expended directly to develop and maintain Facebook and its various clones and applications like Farmville, Mafia Wars, etc. as well as Twitter, Instagram, etc. It certainly pales besides the epochal misallocation of cognitive resources that is the modern financial sector, but it is probably quite considerable nonetheless.

Finally, it would be remiss in an extended critique of social media not to touch upon its increasingly cataclysmic political aspects.

In the past five years, social media have become ever more overt instruments of the globalist elites and their geopolitical and domestic agendas. Increasingly, they operate under the principle of “For my friends, everything; for my enemies, the law.” For instance, Russian nationalists who still maintain active Facebook accounts are far likelier to get hit with bans than their Ukrainian counterparts and other assorted color revolutionaries (see above). Ergo for Twitter, even though there has never been a Russian or Novorossiyan equivalent of the #banderakaratel campaign. This goes in tandem with support for pro-Western revolutionary forces across Eurasia, China, and the Islamic world. Ultimately, the major information companies are almost all US based, so it is only natural that they would seek to cater to American geopolitical interests. And needless to say, the Chinese and Russian governments use the tools they have at their disposal, such as domestic alternatives (Vkontakte, Sina Weibo, etc) and a policy of either banning foreign companies entirely (China) or making them keep their data on their own territory (Russia). It might be pointless to rail against this state of affairs, but it is outright dishonest to pretend that geopolitically, social media is some sort of global kumbaya circle.

The domestic agenda will be more familiar to Unz.com readers. Conservative and especially Alt Right voices are far likelier to get banned than their liberal and SJW opposites. When Return of Kings journalist and provocateur Matt Forney experienced a torrent of death threats from SJWs, it was his account that got banned for reporting them. Breitbart resident kebab Allum Bokhari compiled a list of five of the most egregious cases of Twitter unpersonings, which included reporting on (scrupulously documented!) instances of alleged pedophilia, fraud, and abuse on the part of SJW leaders. Meanwhile, a leading SJW and Gamergate critic who uses “set yourself on fire” as a universal comeback to any criticism of her positions has the personal ear of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

That said, these cases are atypical, if demonstrative; for the most part, the social media giants have taken a more nuanced approach to rigging the visibility game, shadowbanning politically inconvenient users (removing or reducing their visibility on search results and timelines) while promoting loyalists to the Eye of Soros. Politically inappropriate hashtags are manually suppressed from the trending lists. These processes are, if anything, even more overt at Facebook, what with the stunning recent revelations that its trending topic curators removed stories popular with conservatives and rumors that Facebook employees asked Zuckerberg if they could try to influence the elections against Trump. Although the Facebook CEO was quick to engage in damage control, his active personal support for Sorosian causes like #BlackLivesMatter and principled stand against all walls (except his own) put his company’s ultimate political neutrality under serious question.

picus-network-deus-ex

Picus HQ, Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Potentially, Facebook (Google, Twitter) are far more powerful enterprises than even the MSM and the six major corporations that own 90% of it, since they have the power to manipulate and control access to who sees what. /pol/ is always right. So is Deus Ex. We are seeing the materialization of Picus News, a globespanning media conglomerate that directly or incorrectly controls most of the world’s news, complete with shadowy globalist cabal in the background and reinforced not by elite teams of cybernetically augmented assassins but your own Likes and RTs.

Though you might get censored and banned for expressing the wrong viewpoint in the US, at least you won’t go to jail (yet). But warnings, fines, and arrests for expressions of wrongthink about the women and children who are also doctors and engineers on social networks in Europe are now a weekly occurence, and things are only going to get much worse as trans-European regulations on “hate speech” are adopted under the auspices of the EU with the active connivance of Zuckerberg and Merkel, in which “extremism” functionally translates to “anything critical of the EU’s current catastrophic immigration policy.” In practice, these policies will likely extend to the US as well, because of the multinational nature of Facebook’s moderation and its cross-Atlantic ideological unity.

The US plans to start collecting social media profiles as a condition of entry into the country. Apps are being created that scour your social media profiles for financial and political reliability, and in the not too distant future might become a condition of getting hired or taking out credit. These apps have floundered thus far, but this might not be indefinite, as technology advances and the bargaining power of labor gets further diminished by mass immigration and automation. Facebook is taking steps to stake out its territory in Virtual Reality before it has even properly emerged, buying up the Oculus Rift and immediately refocusing it on advertising.

Should we continue feeding this machine? As Zuckerberg himself once said in a private message when founding Facebook, “They “trust me.” Dumb fucks.”

Let’s listen to him.

So we have established that social media contains almost no useful information, yields marginal if not outright returns on intellectual progress, promotes the baser elements of political discourse, and is increasingly blatantly manipulated by a historyless elite that will stop at nothing (except to make a buck off selling your personal information) in pursuit of its chiliastic dreams of social justice and an end to national sovereignty. Perhaps better alternatives will come along in time – for instance, some sort of social network based on the blockchain/Ethereum? – but as of today these systems have become forces for regression across almost all spheres of human activity.

All this is why I’m announcing a permanent end to my presence on Facebook and Twitter.

I will not delete them, because this is ultimately a kneejerk response, and I will feasibly use them twice a year to make very big announcements in the future (e.g. whenever I finally get a book published). Unfortunately, it also has considerable vestigial value as a big network that many people continue to use for its purely social functions like organizing meetups.

But the period in which I made active investments into my social media presence is definitively over.

So to sum it up here are the changes I’ll be making:

1. As per above, an end to social media. Anyway, after so much talk, it’s not like I can avoid the walk.

2. I will read more books, especially Big Books. As a political economy major it is ultimately rather embarassing that I have yet to read Capital in the 21st Century.

Taleb again: “I then completely gave up reading newspapers and watching television, which freed up a considerable amount of time (say one hour or more per day, enough time to read more than a hundred additional books per year, which, after a couple of decades, starts mounting).”

antilibrary

 

3. I will resume studying math – possibly the only intellectual sphere in which BS is impossible in principle, and which is quite possibly the ultimate basis of physical reality.

Not to mention that I have long wanted to explore and understand the real nitty gritty of The g Factor.

Ironically, what inspired me to this was this Tweet by N. N. Taleb. Even more ironically, it is in all likelihood the last ReTweet I will ever make.

4. I will focus anew on whittling down my ridiculous backlog in planned but unwritten books.

books-ak-future

5. As per the wisdom of the Unz.com crowd, I will write fewer short posts and shitposts, and will refocus on the longread and on reviews of books and the better sorts of video games.

The culture of letters might be dead, but perhaps it is not yet too late for individuals to continue to nurture its saplings behind walled gardens, like the Green Man in the Great Blight, in the faith that the day when the Troll-ocs and the other minions of Soros are driven out will eventually dawn.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Administration, Social Media

brexit-vote-prediction Unless there is a truly stunning reversal soon, a victory for Remain is increasingly looking to be mathematically impossible.

England outside London is voting 60% Leave. The two biggest Remain hotspots, London and Scotland, do not have the numbers to make up for it.

Meanwhile, Wales and Northern Ireland are too evenly divided and too low in numbers to make a big difference anyway.

As of the time of me writing this sentence, Leave is on 53% and that is despite the fact that thrice as big a share of the votes have been counted from Scotland as from England.

The Independent has a list of regions (see full map right) to watch as bellweathers of the referendum result which are predicted to get 50/50 in the event of a split vote. In the event, these bellweathers seem to be consistently voting around 55% in favor of Leave.

(1) This looks like it is turning out to be yet another disaster for British polling.

Whereas it was predicted that in the last days British voters tend to shift to the status quo, drawing on the experience of the Scottish referendum, it appears that the true underweighing was with regards to conservative positions. This was demonstrated during the UK 2015 general elections, which pollsters predicted would be a close run thing but in reality saw a decisive Conservative win. In other words, their tendency to underweigh conservative voters – the “Shy Tory” factor first identified in 1992 – remains as prevalent as ever.

Also contrary to conventional wisdom prior to this referendum, online polls have turned out to be more accurate (or rather less wrong) than telephone polls.

(2) It appears that Thomas Mair’s murder of Jo Cox did not impact on the Leave campaign as many people – myself included – anticipated it would.

eu-doesnt-take-no-for-answer(3) What comes next? Well, again assuming no stunning reversals, this is going to be a long, drawn out process.

First, as many referendums and dank memes attest, the EU doesn’t like to take no for an answer. This will be a long and drawn out process. The Guardian, the voice of the British neoliberal Left, is already beginning a discussion on whether the EU referendum is legally binding.

Alexander Mercouris argues the effects either way won’t be big because he no longer sees the UK as an influential Power. There is merit to that interpretation but I think he overdoes it. The EU is a fragile construction and once a big member leaves there might well be a tipping point, especially since the remaining rich members will have to foot more of the bill for Eastern Europe’s “convergence” funds and bailing out Greece every other year.

I think the effect on the British economy will be modest. All the economists forecasting doom belong predominantly to a London/Brussels/Frankfurt centered class that tends to have overly inflated ideas of the importance of the finance sector and free trade to economic growth (which Brexit is going to impact far more modestly and gradually than they project anyway). This is not to say I agree with Eamonn Fingleton that protectionism is some sort of panacea either (that particular honor belongs to human capital). But being outside the EU is not some kind of economic death sentence. It’s not like Switzerland is a byword for poverty and isolation.

 

I have been thinking about how to optimize my blogging and I would like to ask for your input with the following one page survey:

http://darussophile.polldaddy.com/s/june-2016-akarlin-reader-survey

In particular, I would like to hear from you on the following questions:

  1. What should I write more about?
  2. What should I write less about?
  3. What sorts of posts do you prefer (longer, shorter)?
  4. Do you want more reviews?
  5. Do you want me to resume open threads? (which I promised and then slowly discontinued)
  6. Your assessment of the quality of the posts, the comments, and the website.
  7. Do you follow me on social media?

Preliminary Thoughts

I don’t thrive on making short posts like Steve Sailer. You need a predictable schedule and a regular work ethic for that and I don’t really possess either. Also, the three “slots” I have on the Unz.com front page aren’t ideal for more frequent shorter posts. Moreover, one can make a more general point that it is the longer, more indepth material that tends to get noted and cited in the longterm. I am as big a fan of Sailer as anyone here, but in terms of name recognition, the father of HBD lags Nicholas Wade, Charles Murray, and probably even Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending, all of whom have published best-selling books on closely related topics. While progress on my own book has been nothing to write home about, I am seriously considering at least making a habit of writing longer, more indepth articles.

In general I think in the grand hierarchy social media < short posts < longreads < books. This is why the emergence of Twitter, Facebook, etc. are so overestimated. They amplify short-term noise, but in the overall scheme of things they contribute nothing to global progress and understanding (indeed by rewiring so many brains from deep analytical mode to dopamine-fueled reaction mode they might even have retarded it). Besides, both platforms are fast sinking into politicized censorship. Personally, for the past several years, I have mostly used social media just to advertise my own blog posts. But maybe I should put my money where my mouth is and put them into archive mode entirely except for the occasional big announcement. But first I want to find out exactly what percentage of readers here follow me on my social media accounts.

I am also considering introducing more stringent moderation. I am one of the few authors on this website who doesn’t premoderate, and my general comments policy is extremely lax. Perhaps too much so, since it seems to me that more and more commentators have been taking it as a licence to troll, spam, shitpost, and otherwise pursue their particular obsessions even when the post topic has nothing to do with them. This normally wouldn’t matter on modern commenting platforms such as Disqus, where these SIFs (Single Issue Fanatics) are typically downvoted into oblivion, but there is no such mechanism on linear commenting systems. So from now on I am considering becoming much more proactive about redacting stupid and off topic posts, and if necessary, banning repeat offenders. Then again, if most people are satisfied with the way things are, I will refrain from fixing something that isn’t broken. You tell me!

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Administration, Opinion Poll

Just a collection of completely random, not very important news snippets.

(1) Diplomats’ Dissent Bolsters Calls for U.S. Assault on Assad:

For now, the Obama administration seems inclined to agree. A U.S. official who did not sign the memo but read it told Foreign Policy that the document was unlikely to influence Oval Office policy due to the relatively low rank of the signatories. None of the officials have reached the level of assistant secretary and some are not directly involved in Syria issues on a daily basis — though the list does include the consul general in Istanbul and a Syria desk officer.

The Obama administration has also repeatedly made clear that it believes strikes would merely add to the bloodshed without improving the political situation on the ground, while potentially getting ensnared in a decades-long conflict. Despite stinging criticisms from Arab and European allies, Obama has expressed no regrets about his handling of Syria in public comments and there was no sign Friday that the White House was ready to radically alter its strategy or tactics.

In a briefing with reporters on Air Force One, White House Deputy Secretary Jennifer Friedman said Obama “has been clear and continues to be clear that he doesn’t see a military solution to the crisis in Syria.”

“That doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be discussions or a variety of conversations and a variety of opinions,” she added, “but that fundamental principle still remains.”

Still, Robert Ford, the former ambassador to Syria who resigned in protest over White House policy, said the dissent shows that “there’s a very broad consensus among working-level people that are trying to address different pieces of the Syria crisis that … the policy is not succeeding and will not succeed, and that the administration needs to change course.” He noted that it is “remarkable” to see 51 signatures on a cable that rarely gets more than four. {AK: Remarkable indeed – assuming this protest was really as “grassroots” as it is implied to be}

The memo is also a vivid reminder that Secretary of State John Kerry and the diplomats who work for him have consistently pushed for a more militaristic approach to the conflict than their colleagues at the Pentagon. During closed-door meetings in the past year and a half, Kerry has repeatedly pushed Obama to launch airstrikes at Syrian government targets — calls the White House rejected. His pleas were so routine that Obama reportedly announced at a National Security Council meeting last December that only the defense secretary would be allowed to offer proposals for military strikes.

Obama and Kerry clashed in 2013 when the president pulled back at the last moment from threatened military strikes against the Assad regime over its use of chemical weapons, even though Obama had declared a “red line” over the issue. Kerry’s aides were miffed because the secretary of state just a few days earlier had given a muscular speech virtually promising a military response to Assad’s use of the weapons.

The protest memo appeared aimed not at the secretary of state but at the president and his aides who have remained steadfastly opposed to any direct confrontation with the Assad regime.

zhuchkovsky-no-putinsliv(2) There will be no “Putinsliv” in Donbass.

Morale amongst the NAF (Novorossiyan Armed Forces) tends to fluctuate amidst the flurry of contradictory signals the Russian official state tends to give them: Sometimes extending their full support, at other times extraditing NVF fighters to Ukraine and making noises about maybe pushing them all back into Ukraine for “humanitarian” reasons (these episodes tend to coincide with EU votes on the renewal of sanctions; speaking of which, they are 99% certain to be extended on Jun 28-29).

Well, a day ago Alexander Zhuchkovsky, an “insider” in the NVF and a generally reliable source, posted a most intriguing message:

Today I received an almost 100% guarantee that Donbass will not be given up to Ukraine (I say “almost” because Donbass will be surrendered in the case of a liberal coup in Russia, but I don’t think that will happen).

What kind of guarantee this is, I cannot say, but I write this post so that my readers and commentators could stop endlessly recycling this trope about the imminent return of Donbass with a nudge from Russia. All scaremongering about this topic will be see as either idiocy or deliberate intimidation of LDNR residents.

This does not imply that Donbass will soon be in for a bright future, and that one has to unconditionally approve all aspects of Russia’s policy towards Ukraine/LDNR. Unfortunately, today’s fragile and uncertain condition can well last for a long time yet, and from Russia we may once more hear outrageous claims that are at odds with our aspirations.

But that there will be no return of today’s LDNR territories into Ukraine under any conditions (except a hypothetical change in power in Russia) is an absolute, 100% certainty. I call on colleagues to bear this in mind, and opponents to live with this.

With this in mind in our rhetoric and our action we must actively propound the only possible and desirable solution – the incorporation of Donbass into Russia (at a minimum, at maximum – the return of all Novorossiya, which at this stage is a possibility that also cannot be excluded).

(3) RAND releases study calling for the rotation of 30,000 NATO troops into the Baltic states (which is the number that it calculates would be sufficient to deter, and if necessary hold up long enough, a Russian attack). This comes in tandem with the largest NATO exercises in Eastern Europe to date. Its pretty clear now that what little remained of the old American guarantees to the Soviet Union on NATO expansion are dead. Rest in peace, George Kennan. (We will see whether all this is more bark or bite during the Warsaw NATO summit on July 9).

(4) NATO explicitly adds the cyber realm to the domain of conflicts where Article 5 can be invoked. (In recent days, the DNC servers were “allegedly” hacked by Russians with state support).

(5) Russia begins bombing US-backed rebels in Syria (“Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia isn’t entirely certain who it’s bombing in Syria because “moderate” forces are mixed in with “terrorists.””)

(6) The PNAC crowd have made their fealty to Hillary Clinton even more resoundingly clear – a candidate who unlike Obama will certainly be no break on their regime change ambitions.

(7) Meanwhile, China and Russia continue to draw closer, with Putin at the ongoing Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum even suggesting a Eurasian economic partnership.

***

This is not to suggest all these are interlinked, let alone part of some singular conspiracy, but the sheer mass of these largely under the shadows developments does suggest there’s a lot of intense reshuffling of the chess pieces going on behind the scenes.

For instance, Russia’s intervention in Syria has been very successful to date, but its forces there are very vulnerable. This will become germane if Neocons Inc. come to power again – establishing a “no fly zone” over Syria is fraught with the danger of escalation, considering the presence of the Russian Air Force. But whereas Russia is completely outclassed by NATO in that theater, it has local dominance in the Baltics. Add two and two. As such one possible way of looking at the RAND proposal is as a ploy to annul Russia’s range of feasible responses to getting squeezed out of Syria.

But where does the pressure then get redirected? It is of course a longshot, but maybe (2) is somewhat related.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Geopolitics, NATO, Syria, War in Donbass

stalin-the-tajik

Stalin waxing lyrical about the friendship of peoples in April 1941, a famous period of international idyll when there were no other important concerns:

… I want to say a few words about the Tajiks. The Tajiks are a special people. They are not Uzbeks, Kazakhs, or Kyrgiz – they are Tajiks, the most ancient people of Central Asia. The Tajik – that means the one who wears the crown, that is how they were called by the Iranians, and the Tajiks have justified this title.

Out of the all the non-Russian Muslim peoples of the USSR, the Tajiks are the sole non-Turkic ethnicity – they are an Iranian ethnicity. The Tajiks are the people whose intelligentsia produced the great poet Ferdowsi, and it is no surprise that the Tajiks draw their cultural traditions from him. You must have felt the artistic flair of the Tajiks in the past decade, that their ancient culture and unique artistic talent as expressed in music, and song, and dance.

Sometimes our Russian colleagues mix them up: The Tajiks with Uzbeks, the Uzbeks with Turkmen, the Armenians with Georgians. This is, of course, incorrect. The Tajiks are a unique people, with a huge and ancient culture, and under our Soviet conditions they are marked out for a great future. And the entire Soviet Union must help them with that. I want their art to enjoy everyone’s attention.

I propose a toast to the flowering of Tajik art, to the Tajik people, and so that we, Muscovites, are always prepared to help them with everything that is necessary.

This is approximately a bazillion times less well known than Stalin’s toast to the Russian people at the end of World War 2, which is often cited by anti-Russian Cold Warriors (and many deluded Russian nationalists) to equate Stalinism with Russian nationalism.

While I don’t have anything particular against the Tajiks, the above toast does not strike me as something that would be uttered by any Russian nationalist like… ever.

The reality is that Stalin hated and persecuted Russian nationalism as much as any other Bolshevik ideologue, but opportunistically adopted some of its talking points every now and then to shore up his regime. Of course actual Russian nationalists who took him at his word seriously enough to return to the USSR tended to meet sticky ends.

The main thing that distinguished Stalin from his multinational predecessors was that he was more consistent and also went after the other national minority – Polish, Ukrainian, Jewish, etc. – nationalisms that the Old Bolsheviks had fostered. Considering the ethnic composition of the most active Cold Warriors and neocons explains a lot about their curiously specific hatred of Stalin and (regrettably, rather successful) efforts to associate him with Russian nationalism in the Western discourse.

 

stalin-worship

It’s hard to view Stalin as any sort of Russian national hero considering the demonstrable idiocy of his apologists’ arguments.

Trying to portray him as such involves descending into a fantasy world in which no country had ever managed to industrialize itself without killing off millions of its most intelligent and productive people or have won a war against a European Great Power without the indispensable strategic wisdom that you could only get from a Georgian dropout who spent his youth robbing banks and sitting in jail with his fellow Bolshevik comrades and sundry ethnic minority activists. A more rabidly Russophobic outlook could scarcely be imagined.

So its pretty sad to see that Russian sentiments towards Stalin generally are (and have been) positive, despite the Kremlin’s half-hearted attempts to disassociate him from the Great Victory cult that is now the primary spiritual glue used to keep Russia together.

russian-sentiments-on-stalin

That said, it is very valid to ask why said apologetics industry for Stalin developed in Russia from the 2000s in the first place. Was it Kremlin propaganda? Nope. Only people whose only exposure to Russia is through the dregs of Western journalism can seriously believe that. Putin’s own statements on Stalin have been consistently ambivalent, and even the infamous “Stalinist” textbook episode of 2009 – just one minor textbook of many dozens, which the Western media portrayed as a state-backed “rehabilitation” of Stalin – contained sentences such as “ruthless exploitation of the population.”

So if this wasn’t due to a Kremlin propaganda campaign, then why the enduring Stalinophilia? My view is that it was Russian society’s response to the wholesale “blackwashing” of Stalin that took place in the 1990s with rhetoric about “muh 72 million victims of Communism” lifted from Cold War scholars in the West who had to speculate in the absence of archival access.

Such extreme positions were uncritically pushed by the Westernizing ideologues who constitute Russian liberalism once society opened up in the late 1980s and 1990s, to the extent that the phenomenon even got its own ironic meme (“billions shot dead personally by Stalin”). Considering some of the truly crazy stuff that was floating about – there were entirely serious articles in the liberal press arguing that Nazi conquest could have been better for Russia than Stalin – this was not too surprising in hindsight.

One would think that given Stalin’s actual record, which was sordid enough, you would not need to “blackwash” him any further, but ideologues will be ideologues, so what happened happened, and next thing you know many people started suspecting that given the false facts and figures being pushed about Stalin – demonstrated so by the newly accessible archival evidence itself – then maybe they were lying about everything else as well, and well maybe Stalin was actually the good guy after all, maligned by his bitter and limp-wristed successors who “sold out” the Glorious Leader.

And thus a huge strand of the Russian “patriotic” opposition to the liberal neocon hegemony of the 1990s, which had decidedly triumphed by the end of Putin’s first term, had in the process also become infested with Stalinophilia – even though it is not really compatible with Russian patriotism, let alone Russian nationalism (which the Communists, including Stalin, ruthlessly persecuted). The tendency of Stalin’s popularity to wax and wane in sync with the state of Russia’s relations with the West – lower when they are good, and higher when they are bad – strongly suggests that the debate over Stalin in Russia has nothing to do with real history. Instead, it is merely one of several tribal identifiers in politics, much like denial of global warming is a tenet of the Red Tribe and blank slatism is a tenet of the Blue Tribe, both of which have everything to do with American-specific politics and nothing to do with science. In Russia’s case, this Stalinist identifier – like the broader patriotic Great Patriotic War ideology onto which it has affixed itself – gets deflated and boosted whenever Russia veers between globalist integrationism and siege mentality, respectively.

This is not critical in the short term. To be sure, it generates negative headlines in the West, but that’s irrelevant because even if Russia were to uneqivocally start condemning Stalin, Western editors would just find something else to latch onto so long as Russia remains a sovereign country. In the longer term, however, these contradictions will have to be resolved.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Iosef Stalin, Russia, Soviet Union

economist-usa-mass-shootings

SourceThe Economist

Not only has there been an increasing incidence of rampages in the US in the past thirty years but it seems that average kill scores have been ramping up.

I think this trend will only intensify in the years ahead.

A couple of years ago there was a lot of agitation around TrackingPoint, a weapons company that coupled a gun with a tracking system. All you had to do was tag your target, press the trigger, and align the reticle with the tag, which would automatically fire the shot while making adjustments for range, wind conditions, your own motion, etc. Accuracy far exceeds what even the best marksmen are capable of with a traditional rifle and scope outfit. You can also shoot around corners and barricades with special eyeglasses (this was once an exclusively military technology which has now made its way into the civilian market).

Now TrackingPoint’s products aren’t really the sort of weapons you can do a productive rampage with – crucially, it is single shot, and extremely expensive ($20,000) to boot. But it should soon be possible to create far more effective solutions. For instance, a standalone mod that contains a database of common gun models (and maybe the option to input custom data) that you can strap onto any old AK. An accomplice can tag targets remotely through a connected smartphone, or even automate the process entirely on the basis of face recognition. Think of the kind of head shot percentages you can achieve.

Even more creative solutions can be thought up. Just the sort of stuff you can do by coupling this with drones can provide material for countless cyberpunk stories.

Once you have a certain penetration rate of such technologies and a high enough percentage of mentally ill, highly aggrieved, and/or high risk ethnoreligious groups in your society, I suspect draconian gun control will become all but inevitable – even in a society as traditionally liberal on this question as the US.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Futurism, Guns, Terrorism

zyklon-ben-abandon-eu-ship

Source: Ben Garrison – Abandon Ship

In recent days the Brexit debate has suddenly gone from boring to interesting, with opinion polls swinging from a comfortable lead for Remain to a neck and neck race between staying in and leaving the EU. One of the most recent polls has even seen Leave take a ten percentage point lead over Remain, though it remains an outlier.

wikipedia-polls-brexit-2016The major financial institutions now rate the chances of Brexit at 30%-40%, which is in sync with the odds given by prediction markets. (Quite the change from the start of this year, when it wasn’t even clear that the Brexit referendum would be held in the current year and I gave it a 10% total chance of happening).

What must be especially worrying for Bremain supporters is that polls have historically tended to have an anti-conservative bias in the UK, the most famous example being the 1992 elections (which saw the coining of the famous “Shy Tory” term) and continuing through to today in both the 2015 elections (Conservatives did much better than expected) and the Scottish referendum (rejection of independence, a primarily younger and more liberal position, by a much larger margin than the polls predicted).

There are two big reasons for the turn around in the past few weeks.

First, there are problems specific to the Remain campaign, whose strategy basically boils down to: (1) Threatening Britons with negative economic consequences for Brexit; (2) Trundling out a bevy of Very Respectable People such as Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Tony Blair, Tony Blair’s spinmaster Alastair Campbell, Peter Sutherland, George Soros, etc., etc., to make the case for Remain; (3) Displaying a “compendium of tabloid poltergeists” such as Trump, Putin, Le Pen, and ISIS who are alleged to support Brexit. Unfortunately, fewer people are impressed by such hamfisted tactics than were presumably hoped for.

pew-2016-eu-favorability-historical The second reason for the Leave surge is that it is part and parcel of the general disatisfaction with The Establishment sweeping the Western world, which has manifested itself in the good electoral performance of the Front National in France, the general swing towards nationalist parties throughout Europe, Corbyn’s successful takeover of the Labour Party in the UK, and the twin challenges of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump to the old order in the US.

This sense of disillusionment extends to the EU. Although the EU enjoyed a small bump in support in 2015 once the effects of the 2012 double-dip recession faded away, anger has since returned with a vengeance in the wake of the recent European immigration crisis and the widespread perception that it was disastrously mishandled by a dangerously out of touch globalist elite. There are also broader concerns with the EU’s lack of democratic legitimacy, opposition to national sovereignty, straitjacket monetary policies, and unsolicited geopolitical adventurism in Ukraine and beyond.

pew-2016-eu-favorability Indeed, one of the most stunning findings of a recent PEW poll is that Britain, once the central bastion of Euroskepticism, may have actually been superceded in its dislike of the EU not just by a Greece understandably upset with Frankfurt’s diktats (so hardline that even the IMF balked) but by a France where a majority now want a Frexit referendum of their own.

The only places where the EU remains unambigiously favorable is amongst its newer eastern members, their contrarian yapping in opposition to mass immigration regardless (which is ultimately for show, since to be quite frank no refugee is going to be staying in Bucharest when he can move on to Budapest and then Berlin).

The reason for that essentially reduces to money:

eu-transfers-per-capita

SourceReddit, OP’s per capita calculations based on EU data.

Basically, the Eastern Europeans get huge amounts of gibs from the West Europeans, especially the Germans and Scandis. Poland alone got €57bn in 2010-2014. These numbers are rarely mentioned but they are quite huge – in fact, in per capita terms, they are comparable to what the Russian budget gets from the entirety of its oil and gas sectors. Those much vaunted economies (“Polish economic miracle,” “Baltic tigers,” etc) would look much different without the huge capital transfers implicit in EU structural funds.

The EU has also been good for the northern countries who, unlike the Mediterranean states, have the discipline to keep labor costs down without resorting to devaluations: The Netherlands, Sweden, and of course Germany. In contrast to the stagnation in the peripheries, their economies have generally done well since 2010 and they have become labor magnets stripping the south and east of their human capital.

But for most of the rest of the EU these arrangements haven’t been working out, with the result that support for the EU there has generally plummeted.

These internal economics explain much of the panic behind Brexit, which from a certain perspective is admittedly altogether irrational. The exit of the UK alone would remove 10% of total EU contributions and 15% of net contributions (based on 2007-2013 figures). This would increase the funding strain on the other rich members. If more of the core countries then started to withdraw, it would conceivably lead a cascading collapse in which the last man out has to pay the utilities bills. No longer accruing benefits from its competitiveness advantage, Germany is the last major net funder to throw in the towel, and thus only the husk of the EU is left, stretching all the way from Lodz to Lemberg.

 

the-encounter-lgbt-vs-wahhabi

Eurasian News Agency ENA (8am Moscow/1am EST)

The Republicat regime has been shaken to its core in the wake of a brazen massacre of fifty members of the Orlando LGBT tribe at a gay club by an apparently lone gunman of the Wahhabi sect. Regime stalwart Marco Rubio, present at the scene, emerged shaken but unhurt, having dived head first into the foam when the shooting started.

The terrorist attack threatens a flareup of sectarian tensions even as President Obama, the public face of the regime, starts to tighten the screws to avoid a crisis of political legitimacy as dissident youth leaders and reform advocates start to question the reigning ideology of political correctness.

Leading members of the ruling Beltway clan, including both Obama and his presumed dynastic successor Hillary Clinton, have rushed to disavow any connections between the massacre and the Islami clan.

Meanwhile, the regime’s leading propagandists in the mainstream media have attempted to shift blame onto the dissident National Rifle Association (NRA) faction, many of whom are known as supporters of flamboyant oligarch turned democratic opposition leader Donald Trump. SJW commissars have been scouring the Internet clean of references to the Islamic connection on regime-friendly media platforms such as Reddit.

Political maverick Bernie Sanders too been quick to fall in with the party line. According to analysts at the Minsk Institute of Democratiology, this is further evidence for Professor Trollov’s theory that Sanders serves the role of controlled opposition in the Beltway’s corrupt system of “virtual politics.”

Popular anger has been mounting rapidly. In a remarkable escalation, Donald Trump has called for Obama to “immediately resign in disgrace” on account of his refusal to mention “radical Islamic terrorism.” Although Republicat spokesperson Greg Cuckierman condemned the “Dangerous Donald’s” remarks for inflaming sectarianism and ethnic hatred in America’s “vibrant multicultural society,” activists tell us Americans have become increasingly hesitant to swallow the party narrative.

This goes especially for the meme-empowered younger generations on social media platforms such as Twatter and Fuckface, who use a sophisticated system of signalling including Pepe the Frog, triple parentheses, and even more obscure memes invented by the hacker 4chan to organize at the grassroots level and poke holes in the official narrative.

“Globalism is a scam, man!” communicated @SchlomoGoldbergShekelstein1488 to ENA reporters via Telegram, “I mean, a haji kills a faggot, and who’s to blame? An evil white oppressor with a gun!”

Other, more milquetoast, activists pointed out that gun control had not prevented the Bataclan massacre in Paris and that in any case the shooter’s status as a security guard with the G4S security company would have provided him with easy access to guns. They also asked questions about why an Orlando mosque had been able to call for the pogroms of gay people two months before the shooting with apparent impunity.

afghanistan-not-hajnalMeanwhile, the user @JayMan471 and the HBD thinktank has been spamming us with the following map (see right). We have no idea what it means and our reporters are avidly scouring the globe for anyone who can give us a clue, or for that matter even gives a shit.

Of critical importance in the weeks head will be the reaction of the LGBT clan itself, which had hitherto been almost entirely on the side of the Republicrat establishment thanks to its position of privilege within the regime.

However, according to Beltwayology expert Maksim Putlerov, Director of the Chelyabinsk Institute for Scientific Racism, any assumptions that this state of affairs is here to stay indefinitely are invalidated by the experience of the European vassal states, where the violent intrusions of the Islami clan into traditional LGBT inner city tribal territory has resulted in 25% of Parisian homosexuals supporting the democratic opposition party Front National.

“Under Obama the US is one of the very worst countries for homosexuals in the world,” observed Putlerov. “Fifty of them have just been killed for political reasons. That’s far more than under any previous President, and for that matter far more than under Vladimir Putin. However, we expect the regime to continue focusing on gay rights in Russia as part of the West’s rhetorical strategy of whataboutism.”

“There are now only two ways out for the regime – voluntary reform and democratization, or repression, revolution, and the Thousand Year Trumpenreich.”

“Unfortunately, it appears that the regime has embarked on the path of repression,” concluded Putlerov.

This assessment is increasingly hard to deny. The Director of the Minsk-based Western Observatory for Human Rights (WOHR) has noted many disturbing signs of the Beltway regime tightening the screws in recent months.

Independent candidates such as Donald Trump and even the controlled opposition such as Bernie Sanders have been the targets of slander campaigns that were so well-coordinated that they could only have come from the very top. Whistleblowers that humiliated the ruling cliques have been driven into exile abroad. Loyalist thugs under the banner of Social Justice, better known outside the US as titushki, have prevented opposition activists such as (the gay) Milo Yiannopoulos from giving speeches at university campuses and assaulted his supporters without consequence. Father away from the cameras, SJW death squads funded by regime’s gray chancellor George Soros have been on the hunt for gay Hispanic Trump supporters.

Yet despite the best efforts of the hardliners to maintain and accentuate the climate of fear under which the regime operates, the system is increasingly shaky. Increasing numbers of the Republican wing of the Republicrats have “boarded the Trump Train,” despite the best efforts of the deep state to sabotage him. The Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. is reporting an unprecedented surge in visa applications. Rumors abound that Jeb Bush’s wife and children have been flown to safety in Cancun.

Moreover, the unrest has quietly been spreading to foreign shores, with recent polls in Britain showing that the majority now wants to leave the European Union. With the ruling regime now focusing on securing its loyalist heartlands, all the geopolitical experts ENA queried insist that the biggest international reverberations have yet to begin. “Must clear away the rubble before you can build,” as @BasedFelNRx told us via an encrypted communications line which we traced back to a location in Silicon Valley.

This is a bit too cryptic for us, but it does tie in with a question that more and more people are now asking: Will the Beltway regime survive the Current Year?

 
• Category: Humor • Tags: Terrorism, Trolling, United States

I have often remarked that a convenient way to think about East Asian comparative economic development is to view its three biggest players – China, Japan, and South Korea – as being separated by twenty year “chunks” of development, with Japan being on its leading edge and China being its laggard.

For instance, here is a graph of their respective per capita GDP growth rates from 1950 for Japan, 1970 for Korea, and 1990 for China – the years when all three passed the $2,000 mark (in terms of 1990 Geary-Khamis dollars, the standard unit of measurement used by what is probably the world’s most accessible comprehensive economic history database compiled by Angus Maddison).

east-asia-comparative-economic-development

This argument has recently been advanced by Jingyi Jiang (via Brian Wang), who likewise noticed the similarity of Japan’s, Korea’s, and now China’s “miracle economy” growth experiences – although his explanation of this might be a bit lacking:

Third, South Korea, Japan and China are geographically close. They trade a great deal with each other, and both South Korea and Japan invest directly in China. These close economic ties suggest that their growth experiences could be similar.

Alternatively, it could have something – just a little – to do with the fact that all three of these countries have First World average national IQs, which have been shown time and time again both on this blog and increasingly in academia to be the best predictors of economic potential around. I know, crazy thought, that.

Jingyi Jiang predicts China’s ultimate steady state level of GDP per capita at around half of the American level. The basis on which he does this is pretty weak: “No country in the world has been able to sustain growth rates of 7 percent or higher for more than four decades.” But this does not have to apply to China, since its level of economic development had been artificially suppressed by Maoist economic lunacy prior to the 1980s. Since China’s average national IQ and hence human capital potential is comparable to that of Japan (which has settled at 75% of the US level) and that of South Korea (at 65% of the US level, but continues eking out small gains), an ultimate limit of 50% seems to be unduly pessimistic.

Of course in population terms China is Japan x10 or Korea x25, so even half the US level of GDP per capita translates to a Chinese economy that is more than twice as large as the US in aggregate and at least as large in terms of military spending even if the share of GDP devoted to it remains 2% and 4% for China and the US, respectively. This is why all the numerous pundits who have argued that the (actually largely non-existent) China hype is all fake by smugly pointing out similar trends with respect to Japan in the 1980s are either idiots or knowing peddlers of nonsense.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: China, Development

russia-historical-football-rank

Russia is surprisingly mediocre at the beautiful game.

What makes this at first sight all the more surprising is that Russia is hardly a slouch when it comes to many other sports. It is consistently in the top three at the Summer Olympics, beaten out only by the US and China with their much larger populations and financing. It came a resounding first in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. In ice hockey, it is currently a close second to Canada and practically never falls out of the top five.

But when it comes to football, Russia is now, on the eve of UEFA Euro 2016, a miserly 29th in the world, with an Elo rating of 1736. For context this translates to an 86% chance of losing to France, the host country with a home advantage at +100 Elo points, and which is considered to have the highest odds (24%) of winning the tournament.

This is not for lack of interest and enthusiasm. As in almost all of Europe, football is the most popular spectator sport in Russia, even ahead of ice hockey. Even so, even the United States with its essentially dilettante attitude towards football (yes football, not soccer) is ahead in 21st place.

Nor is it for want of financing. Although Russian footballing had a tough time in the depressed 1990s, investment strongly picked up from the 2000s – a development reflected in the hiring of ever more prominent (and expensive) foreign names as coaches of the national football team: Guus Hiddink in 2006, Dick Advocaat in 2010, and Fabio Capello from 2012 to 2015. The two Dutchmen were fairly successful, with Russia seeing its higher ever Elo football rating during this period and advancing to the semifinals in Euro 2008. But under Fabio Capello, the Russian team collapsed so drastically that his contract was ended three years earlier than originally planned. For all the considerable money Russia has spent on its national football team in the past decade, it remains way behind in the Elo ratings relative to both the major European national teams and even some decidedly financially lacking countries such as Peru and Bosnia.

It can’t have much to do with cultural traditions or the specific physiology of Slavs either. Croatia with its mere four million people is 18th and has always punched well above its weight in football. Slovakia, which Russia will face in the group stages of this tournament, is marginally ahead in 25th place globally. Even Japan is now marginally ahead of Russia in the global football Elo ratings, despite the fact that in the case of East Asians, a case can actually be made that cultural and physiological factors might play significant negative roles.

No, the explanation for Russian footballing mediocrity is much more banal, and can be summed up in this one map of January isotherms.

europe-january-isotherms

Needless to say, footballing requires a lot of skill.

To develop skill, you have to play a lot. Preferably year round. This is very hard to do when temperatures are substantially below freezing (correlating to the blue parts of the map). You can play in smaller spaces indoors, but it’s just not the same thing. You can theoretically have heated stadiums, but its very expensive and AFAIK nobody actually consistently bothers with it. Furthermore, even if you train your best players in heated stadiums (or abroad) during the winter, national football teams are drawn from (and discarded back into) a huge talent pool. Providing everyone in this category with elite climate controlled facilities is impossible.

The Soviet Union, which was consistently much more successful at football than Russia ever was, proves the rule: A large percentage of its star players were drawn from Georgia and southern Ukraine – that is, the parts of the USSR with the least hostile winter climate. Even today a highly disproportional share of elite Russian footballers come from the Kuban, the only parts of Russia with a winter climate that is at least somewhat comparable to that of Germany. Nowadays Georgia is considerably lower than Russia, but that is on account of a very low population of less than 3.7 million and virtually no money. Meanwhile, Ukraine, with three times fewer people and about ten times less money, is ahead at 16th globally.

Croatia, one of the most successful footballing nations in per capita terms, also happens to be smack dab in some of the most football friendly territory in all Slavdom. That almost certainly explains its impressive per capita performance.

Ultimately, mastery in football requires a combination of physical fitness, discipline, and artistry. The Germanics tend to max out the first two while not slacking on the third either. The Latins max out on the third, and while far more variable than Germanics, their best teams in any one year have the first two well down as well. My impression is that the Russian team at its best tends to be adequate at all three – it can be energetic, and artistic, and even well disciplined (the latter especially when coached by a Germanic).

But not outstanding. All three elements to some extent lack a degree of what I can only describe for lack of a better word as polish: Discipline but losing possession due to blunders just that more frequently than the Germans or the Dutch; Enthusiastic and active when they have the tempo, but that much more prone to sink into despondency when the tide turns against them; Creative but without quite the out-of-this-world flair and finesse of the very best Latin teams.

We shall soon see if Leonid Slutsky has made any progress in restoring the Russian football team to at least the level it was pre-Capello. But for Russia to get a truly worldbeating time it will probably have to wait for methane clathrate collapse plus thirty years for the post-runaway global warming generation of footballers to come into their prime. /sarcasm

 
• Category: Humor • Tags: Football, Russia

The most well known index of corruption is Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. However, as I have frequently pointed out, it has a lot of problems. The biggest one lies in its very name – perceptions are not necessarily equal to reality, even – or especially – if they come from a narrow class of self-appointed political and economic “experts” whom Transparency International queries when compiling the CPI.

In an attempt to remedy this, back in 2011 I compiled the Corruption Realities Index 2010 on the basis of objective measures of corruption such as the percentage of people who said they had paid a bribe in the past year, the results of blind reviews of national laws and regulations on corruption, and measures of budget transparency. Some countries, such as Italy (more corrupt than Saudi Arabia according to the CPI) and Russia (more corrupt than Zimbabwe according to the CPI) considerably improved their standings in the CRI relative to the CPI.

Now along comes a new index of corruption, or more precisely, of “a society’s capacity to control corruption and ensure that public resources are spent without corrupt practices.”

The iPi is based on the following six factors:

  • Judicial Independence
  • Budget Transparency
  • Administrative Burden
  • Trade Openness
  • E-Citizenship
  • Freedom of the Press

The first two factors seem to be the two that have the most to do directly with corruption. The second two are more incidental, though it is true that fewer regulations c eteris paribus results in lower corruption. Although one can see how e-citizenship is an extension of deregulation, in practice the particular measures used for it – such as the number of Facebook users as a percentage of the population (!) – is actually of highly questionable value. What are you going to do, report corruption on Facebook? And what if you use Twitter or Vkontakte instead? Although in principle Freedom of the Press should be a powerful tool in the battle of corruption, ratings are drawn from Freedom House which is just as subjective as the CPI (i.e., completely) and even more politicized, which makes this particular subcomponent totally useless.

The need for a truly objective measure of corruption realities remains.

Here is how this Index of Public Integrity (iPi) tallies up versus the CPI as of 2015 in terms of country percentile rankings:

cpi-ipi-2016

That said, the iPi, unlike the CPI, is based on significantly more objective/data-based measures, and unsurprisingly, both Italy and Russia (as I intuited) are some of the biggest relative improvers. This goes to support my longstanding arguments that in terms of corruption although Russia is an underperformer within Europe it is also not particularly bad at a global level, being around the average for middle-income countries, transition countries, and fellow BRICS countries, and nowhere near the “Zaire with Snow” outlier it is frequently portrayed as in the Western media.

China does considerably worse here on the iPi than the CPI. As an authoritarian country with a lot of economic regulations and telephone justice that stands to reason, though one might think that having the death penalty on the books constitutes a considerably greater “capacity to control corruption” than the absence of Facebook. The incidence of bribery polls indicate that low-level corruption in China is now actually quite rare for a country at its developmental level.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Corruption, Russia

I just finished updating my Unz Review custom blogroll, along with an expanded set of “inspirational” quotes.

Here it is:

***

karlin-sketch

ANATOLY KARLIN joined the Unz Review in January 2015 to blog about Russia, geopolitics, HBD/psychometrics, and futurism.

For a comprehensive overview of my past and present projects, as well as links to my current social media accounts, please visit my website akarlin.com.

***

Blogroll

This is not so much meant to be comprehensive as to illustrate the themes and individual thinkers whom I follow and am inspired by.

I do not bother including any MSM outlets, since I’m sure they can do just fine without my publicity. Most of my “front page” news I get via /r/worldnews, /r/russia, and RCW.

Especially important, useful, and regularly updated resources are marked by an asterix, while blogs that appear to gone dormant appear at the end in italics. And while I try to keep these things objective, if you include me in your blogroll that does vastly increase the chances that I’ll reciprocate.

 

Politics

Politics & Geopolitics

 

Russosphere

 

Library

 

HBD & Psychometrics

 

History & Economics

 

Philosophy & Futurism

 

***

 

Inspiring Quotes

 

Politics

He who does not love his mother more than other mothers and his country more than other countries, loves neither his mother nor his country. – Charles de Gaule (on validity of nationalism).

When will Russia get an idea for which one can live for and create for? Galina Dmitrievna, – for our children, our grandchildren, for our Motherland, Russia, it always was, is, and will be worth living for and creating for. What else is there? However we might try to come up with a national idea, it has to be said directly: There is nothing closer to someone than his family, his close ones, and his own country. – Vladimir Putin (on uselessness of ideology).

There is no left or right, only nationalists and globalists. – Marine Le Pen.

After communists, most of all I hate anti-communists. – Sergei Dovlatov.

Whoever speaks of Europe is wrong. Europe is a geographical expression. – Bismarck (answer to the “Is Russia Europe or Asia?” debates).

I am an atheist, but an Orthodox atheist! – Alexander Lukashenko.

He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. – Luke 22:36, NIV (they don’t teach this kind of Christianity nowadays).

Everyone who isn’t us is an enemy. – Cersei Lannister (clannishness defined in 7 words).

Don’t trust these three: The woman, the Turk, and the teetotaler. – Based Peter the Great.

 

Science & Futurism

Intelligence is what you need when you don’t know what to do. – Carl Bereiter.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) expressed it tersely when he heard a noted historian pro­ claim that it was by virtue of their very different gifts that Caesar became a great commander, Shakespeare a great poet, and Newton a great scientist. Dr. Johnson replied, ‘ ‘No, it is only that one man has more mind than another; he may direct it differently, or prefer this study to that. Sir, the man who has vigor may walk to the North as well as to the South, to the East as well as to the West.” – Arthur Jensen, The g Factor (its most poetic elucidation?).

I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be. – Lord Kelvin (on the necessity of quantification).

Personally, I’ve been hearing all my life about the Serious Philosophical Issues posed by life extension, and my attitude has always been that I’m willing to grapple with those issues for as many centuries as it takes. – Patrick Hayden (on life extension).

There are two kinds of scientific progress: the methodical experimentation and categorization which gradually extend the boundaries of knowledge, and the revolutionary leap of genius which redefines and transcends those boundaries. Acknowledging our debt to the former, we yearn, nonetheless, for the latter. – Academician Prokhor Zakharov (Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri).

The Orks are the pinnacle of creation. For them, the great struggle is won. They have evolved a society which knows no stress or angst. Who are we to judge them? We Eldar who have failed, or the Humans, on the road to ruin in their turn? And why? Because we sought answers to questions that an Ork wouldn’t even bother to ask! We see a culture that is strong and despise it as crude. – Uthan the Perverse (Warhammer 40K)

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age. – H.P. Lovecraft (the ultimately fate of the noosphere?).

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Blogging

rosa-luxemburg Rosa Luxemburg in her 1918 book on the Russian Revolution:

Ukrainian nationalism in Russia was something quite different from, let us say, Czechish, Polish or Finnish nationalism in that the former was a mere whim, a folly of a few dozen petty-bourgeois intellectuals without the slightest roots in the economic, political or psychological relationships of the country; it was without any historical tradition, since the Ukraine never formed a nation or government, was without any national culture, except for the reactionary-romantic poems of Shevschenko. It is exactly as if, one fine day, the people living in the Wasserkante should want to found a new Low-German (Plattdeutsche) nation and government! And this ridiculous pose of a few university professors and students was inflated into a political force by Lenin and his comrades through their doctrinaire agitation concerning the “right of self-determination including etc.”

It is actually rather remarkable how much her critiques echoes that of Russian conservative opponents of the Bolsheviks (even if from the opposite side of the ideological spectrum):

The Bolsheviks are in part responsible for the fact that the military defeat was transformed into the collapse and breakdown of Russia. Moreover, the Bolsheviks themselves have, to a great extent, sharpened the objective difficulties of this situation by a slogan which they placed in the foreground of their policies: the so-called right of self-determination of peoples, or – something which was really implicit in this slogan – the disintegration of Russia… One is immediately struck with the obstinacy and rigid consistency with which Lenin and his comrades struck to this slogan, a slogan which is in sharp contradiction to their otherwise outspoken centralism in politics as well as to the attitude they have assumed towards other democratic principles. While they showed a quite cool contempt for the Constituent Assembly, universal suffrage, freedom of press and assemblage, in short, for the whole apparatus of the basic democratic liberties of the people which, taken all together, constituted the “right of self-determination” inside Russia, they treated the right of self-determination of peoples as a jewel of democratic policy for the sake of which all practical considerations of real criticism had to be stilled.

Incidentally, Lenin himself had extensively critiqued Luxemburg on the nationalities question.

Just goes to further show that Ukrainian nationalists should be laying wreaths on the statues of the man who did more than any other to found their state instead of so ungratefully toppling them.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Communism, Ukraine

Interviewer – That’s because, that’s societies fault, we got to educate people about it.

M.A. – Life is too short for me to be catching hell for something like that, I’d rather be with my own, and have a beautiful daughter, beautiful wife, both look like me and we are all happy and I don’t have no trouble. I ain’t that in love with no women to go through all that hell, there’s no one woman that good. You understand?

Interviewer – I understand, I do understand, I think it’s sad ….

M.A. – (Interrupting) It ain’t sad because I want my child to look like me, every intelligent person wants their child to look like them, I’m sad because I want to blot out my race and lose my identity? Chinese love Chinese they love the little slanty eye, pretty brown skin babies. Pakistani love their culture, Jewish people love their culture, a lot of catholic wanna be with Catholics and want the religion to stay the same… who would want to spot up yourself and kill your race? You’re a hater of your people if you don’t want to stay who you are. You ashamed of what god made you? You think he made a mistake when he made you?

Interviewer – I think that’s a philosophy of despair, I really do

M.A. – Philosophy of despair? Here let me tell you, listen. No woman on this earth, not even a black woman in Muslim countries can please me and cook for me and socialize with me like my American black woman, no woman, and last is a white woman… can really identify with me and my feelings, and the way I act, and the way I talk…. it’s just nature, you can do what you want, but it’s nature to want to be with your own, I want to be with my own.

Incidentally, at the time when this interview was carried out (1971), about 75% of Americans would have agreed with him, including 40% of US Blacks.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Humor, United States

A few days ago the Russian urban lifestyle magazine Afisha commissioned some big data geeks to visualize the percentage of Muscovite landlords specifying “Russians only” (“Slavs only,” “No Caucasians,” etc.) in their home rental listings.

Here is the resulting map (red is more “xenophobic”):

map-of-muscovite-tolerance-2016

The range of landlords making ethnic requirements varied from 0% in the center and west of the city to up to a third in the outskirts, especially the east and south. (The district where I come from is around 22%).

What do they tend to have in common?

Here is a map of rental prices in 2013 (red is more expensive):

moscow-property-prices-2013

Here is a map of the percentage of ethnic Russians from 1993-2003 on the basis of local birth records (red is more ethnically Russian):

 

moscow-percentage-russians-2000

And finally here is a map of the official candidate Sobyanin’s and the pro-Western liberal opposition candidate Navalny’s share of the vote in the 2013 Moscow city elections (bluer regions strongly favored Sobynian, while greener regions saw Navalny do relatively better):

m4-viboriTASS-1109-12

In other words, a typical limousine liberals vs. Putintariat story.

Although the lack of “Russians only” criteria in the richer, more liberal areas is probably substantially on account of their greater progressivism (even though Navalny is somewhat of an ethnic nationalism himself) the purely economic reasons are probably more important. If you can pay the rental rates in the center, which are twice as high as in the outskirts, chances are you’ll be better behaved regardless of your ethnicity and won’t mess up the place. Landlords in the outskirts however might have greater incentives to play it safe.

Or this happens.

wish-we-had-mexicans

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Minorities, Moscow, Russia
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.