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I meant to write about this PEW poll when it came out this May. Better late than never, I guess.

They highlight what they consider “9 key findings” here.

Here is what I found to be the most interesting, significant, and/or surprising:

poll-east-europe-religious-demographics

This doubles as a rough demographic tally. Russia is around 10% Muslim – around the same as Georgia, and lower than Bulgaria (you rarely tend to hear about their Muslim minorities).

poll-east-europe-democracy-free-markets

View on democracy and free markets: Amusingly, the Ukraine is least pro-market, Lenin statue topplings regardless.

poll-east-europe-russia-counters-usa

Majorities in all the Orthodox countries, even including rather not exactly Russophile Georgia and Romania, look to Russia to balance the influence of the West.

Ukraine is the sole glaring but understandable exception.

Even more curiously, 50% of Croatians (Salo is doing yeoman’s work) and even 34% of Poles support this.

In contrast, Bulgaria is rather more Russia skeptical than its stereotype as a supposedly Russophile country would imply.

poll-east-europe-russia-protection

poll-russia-protec-russians

There is strong support in both Russia and amongst Russians in the Near Abroad for protecting coethnics outside its borders.

Surprisingly, there is also near universal majority support for Russia protecting Orthodox Christians and ethnic Russians outside its borders – a majority agrees even in Georgia and Romania.

There is a pronounced split between west and east Ukraine on this question. Overall support is at 38% there. (Crimea, Lugansk, and Donetsk were not polled).

poll-east-europe-whos-to-blame

Who’s to blame for the conflict in the Donbass?

poll-east-europe-superior-culture

More Orthodox believe their culture to be superior than Catholic or especially Protestant ones. Poland here is perhaps especially surprising.

poll-east-europe-atheism

Russia is considerably more atheist than Ukraine, Belarus, and Poland. (I suspect almost entirely on account of the more atheist, Finno-admixed north).

Women are also universally more religious than men.

poll-east-europe-science-evolution

Acceptance of evolution. However, most curiously, the most evolution-skeptical, Armenians, also believe the most strongly that “science will eventually explain everything.”

poll-east-europe-homosexualityCaucasus almost monolithically “based” on God and homosexuals. Poland is actually pretty progressive these days.

map-east-europe-support-for-gay-marriage

Support for gay marriage based on the poll results.

I have sometimes joked that Belorussia can into Hajnal Line.

poll-east-europe-social-attitudes

That said, in geneal, opinions on social attitudes are pretty similar across Russia/Ukraine/Belarus.

poll-east-europe-diversity

That said, there doesn’t seem to be any strong correlation between “based” attitudes on God and social policy, and on the desirability of diversity.

The most pro-homogeneity peoples are the very religious Armenians and the very atheist Czechs.

poll-east-europe-fertility

This is pretty interesting – and surprising. Did Hungary produce Orban, or did Orban do this to Hungary?

poll-east-europe-stalin

Stalin remains very popular in Georgia as well as in Russia, just like 4 years ago.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Eastern Europe, Opinion Poll, Religion 
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In my opinion, almost certainly yes (quantified: 90%. In line with PredictIt). Just to get that clear off the bat.

But neither is it an absolutely foregone conclusion.

For instance, see this recent “scoop” from The Independent’s Oliver Carroll:

Vladimir Putin is, sources say, tired. And he is reluctant to engage in a major national election – again. The campaign will be reduced to a bare minimum; there will be no repeat of the exhausting test of the 2011-2012 elections, when Mr Putin declared his candidacy six months early.

The reason “scoop” is in apostrophes is that Putin’s tiredness is hardly new to the Moscow rumor mill.

For instance, here is my Twitter conversation with RT’s Bryan MacDonald (posted with his permission) on this back in December 2016:

bryan-macdonald-putin-tired

And there’s still hints that Putin hasn’t yet fully made his mind up. For instance, MacDonald also noted that RBC recently reported that Putin is shifting his annual State of the Union address from December to early next year. While cautioning against reading too deeply into Kremlinological tea leaves, this does conceivably open the possibility of a sudden resignation and endorsement of a successor along the lines of what Yeltsin did with respect to Putin himself on December 31, 1999.

When I asked Bryan MacDonald to quantify his predictions a week ago, he replied: “5/1 he doesn’t run. 4/6 he’s not President in 2023.”

I should stress that MacDonald and Carroll are hardly the only people with such ideas. Another name I can cite is Artem Zagorodnov, who used to work for RBTH. Back in December 2016, he gave a speech on Russian politics for the Juneau World Affairs Council in Alaska, during the course of which he was asked a question about whether Putin would run in 2018. At the time, Zagorodnov gave this a 80% chance. More recently, I asked him again, and he has now upped it to 90%, but he thinks that there is only a 50% chance of Putin finishing his second term.

I should also note that MacDonald and Zagorodnov are (were) not familiar with each other and came to these very similar estimates independently.

Apart from his rumored fatigue, why might Putin not want to run in 2018?

1. By not running in 2018, Putin retains the option of running one more time at some later time in the future.

Originally, the Russian Constitution disallowed more than two Presidential terms, but only so long as they were consecutive; otherwise, you could serve as many terms as you wished, so long as they were broken up at least once every two terms/eight years. This enabled Putin’s controversial “castling” maneuver with Medvedev in 2011-12, which was within the letter if not the spirit of the law. But a Constitutional amendment in 2012, which also lengthened Presidential terms to six years, set an explicit maximum of two terms, consecutive or otherwise. Any further castlings have been ruled out.

Therefore, if Putin runs now, he will never be able to run for President again – even should he resign midway through his fourth term. Not unless he pushes through a Constitutional amendment. But that would mean reneging on a public commitment not to do that, which would be politically far riskier than even his old castling, which ended up in 100,o00 strong protests in Moscow during 2011-12.

2. Putin is currently at the peak of his approval.

At least so long as Putin’s personal ratings are concerned, the “Crimean Consensus” shows no signs of wearing out.

poll-putin-approval-1999-2017

Source: Levada.

But discontent is once again beginning to simmer in the margins. Overall satisfaction with domestic, social, economic, and even foreign policy has reached lows last seen in 2011, when mass protests over electoral fraud in the 2011 Duma elections flared up.

poll-russia-policy-approval

Source: VCIOM; FPRI Bear Market Brief‏.

And it is probably only a matter of time before this begins to overspill into Putin’s approval rates.

Putin assured his place in the history textbooks in 2014.

Now might be as good and stable a time to leave as any while his reserves of political capital are still maxed out.

In so doing, he also escapes the Brezhnevite “President for Life” trap, leaves on his own terms, and enjoys the rest of his life in luxury (the friends he enriched during his Presidency owe him at least that much).

3. The next six years are going to be… boring.

The next Presidential term is looking up to be one of technocratic optimization and further reforms, of privatizing an overly state-dominated economy, of trying to restore relations with the West.

Very boring. Bad for approval ratings. Not the ideal job for a “tired” populist.

Besides, any real rapprochement with the “Western partners” is inconceivable with Putin, who has become thoroughly unhandshakeworthy, still at the helm – at least formally.

Now unless a new round of military confrontations are being planned – a rather unlikely prospect, given sharply negative trends in projected military expenditure – there is a good chance that that Russia will have to confront the near total nature of its geopolitical defeat in the Ukraine, as that country economically recuperates, accelerates Ukrainization, and Russophile dreams of a “second Maidan” and Ukraine’s imminent breakup veer further and further into the realm of fantasy.

Also probably best to keep a low profile during that period.

4. It is still not too late to nominate a successor.

As it stands today, Putin will win approximately 80% of the vote (70% + 10% customary fraud), while the rest will be split about equally between Zyaganov, Zhirinovsky, and [liberal candidate].

In an experiment conducted by Levada this September, every fifth Russian said they were willing to vote for Andrey Semenov, a Presidential candidate endorsed by Putin – even though both Semenov and Putin’s endorsement were complete fictions.

This suggests that building up a successor from nothing will be a trivial task for the Kremlin. That worked with for Yeltsin’s “Family” and Putin himself in 1999-2000, and it will be even easier now, since the Kremlin now has uncontested dominance of all the major TV stations.

Finally, the specific steps that the Kremlin has been taking – for instance, changing the date of the Presidential elections to coincide with the anniversary of Crimea joining Russia, and getting Ksenia Sobchak, an airhead celebrity with a massive anti-rating, to play the role of the liberal candidate, instead of its natural leader Navalny – indicate that they were not totally sure that Putin would be running, and as such, wanted to make absolute sure that any anointed successor would get a convincing victory almost as easily as Putin.

This convincing victory is referred to as a 70/70 in Kremlin parlanace (70% turnout, 70% share of the vote).

politics-putin-dyumin

Putin going for a walk with potential successor Alexey Dyumin.

Final question: Who would be the successor?

By far the most commonly named “dark horse” candidate is Alexey Dyumin, the current governor of Tula and Putin’s former bodyguard. He personally participated in the events of 2014, and can thus be credibly portrayed as a hero of the “Crimean Spring” (its original name, the “Russian Spring,” has been airbrushed out of history, due to its nationalist connotations). As a loyal military man, basically competent but without being excessively intelligent – he graduated from a third-rate military academy – Dyumin would make a solid replacement for Putin, who would continue to wield extensive influence as some sort of “elder statesman” or “father of the nation” figure.

Meanwhile, in this scenario, Putin’s people would continue to occupy key power positions: Vyacheslav Volodin would continue looking after the Duma, Sergey Shoigu will stay on as Defense Minister, and another of Putin’s former bodyguards, Viktor Zolotov, will remain head of the 340,000 strong National Guard. This would be an additional guarantee against the successor getting too many ideas of his own.

As it happens, I suspect this basic scenario – the rudiments of which have been sketched out by politologists such as the liberal Valery Solovej and the Communist Nafik Famiev during the summer of 2017 – is ultimately likely to play out.

Probably not now, but quite possibly around 2021, or after the end of Putin’s fourth and last term.

 
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Recent Rasmussen poll:

… 52% of Likely U.S. Voters agree with the president’s statement last Sunday that “… having Russia in a friendly posture, as opposed to always fighting with them, is an asset to the world, and an asset to our country, not a liability.” Just 27% disagree, but another 21% are undecided.

Seventy-six percent (76%) of Republicans and 51% of voters not affiliated with either major party agree with the statement. Among Democrats, 29% agree; 41% disagree, and 29% are undecided. …

In a sharp turnaround from the Cold War years, 79% of conservatives agree that it’s better to be friends with Russia, but just 27% of liberals share that view.

I wrote about this as a return to pre-Soviet norms back in February:

For if you take the long historical view it is the Liberals/Left who have historically been far less enamored of Russia.

Who talked of the “gendarme of Europe” and “prison of peoples” in 19th century political discourse? Socialists, not conservatives. Marx had very little good to say about Russia and Eastern Europe in general, the idea being that the advanced Western nations were the only ones of interest from a Communist revolutionary perspective.

No, this doesn’t appear to be on account of Republican/conservative infatuation with Putler, as /r/politics and the Blue Checkmarks would have you believe.

Opinion towards him remains extremely negative across the American political spectrum.

gallup-usa-views-putin

This is perhaps the one somewhat unexpected element in this picture:

Men feel much more strongly than women that it’s better “having Russia in a friendly posture.” Those under 40 are only slightly less likely than their elders to agree.

In contrast, the February 2017 poll found Republican opinions on Russia uniformly increasing with younger age groups, going from 31% positive/69% negative amongst the 65+ year olds to 73% positive/25% negative amongst the 18-29 year olds.

This implies that opinion towards Russia decreases with age amongst the younger non-Republican population. But that doesn’t seem to tally with other polls I’ve seen. Or common sense. Older Democrats tend to be Clintonistas, and virulently Russophobic – they genuinely believe Putler stole the 2016 elections – while younger ones are lefty Bernie Bros, who don’t exactly admire Russia, but are realistic enough to acknowledge that the KGB wasn’t behind the KKK.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Politics, Republicans, Russia, Russophobes, USA 
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PAPER REVIEW


This study compared the pace of life in large cities from 31 countries around the world. Three indicators of pace of life were observed: average walking speed in downtown locations, the speed with which postal clerks completed a simple request (work speed), and the accuracy of public clocks.

Hilarious that the country with the most accurate clocks was… Switzerland.

pace-of-life-1999

Chalk up one more victory for stereotypes.

Unsurprisingly there’s an evident correlation with measures of future time orientation in general.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Sociology, Switzerland 
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I am pretty bad with these puns. But this one might just be SSC-worthy.

One of my goals for the rest of Anti-Bolshevik Month is to write a comprehensive alternate history in which the Russian Republic survives WW1.

Randall Parker’s question on Twitter: “Imagine a time traveler goes back to 1913 and kill Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Trotsky, Gavrilo Princip and a few others. How does 20th century play out?

Gave me a convenient opportunity to sketch out the basics: “If you study the details, success of both October Revolution & Nazi ascent were almost freak occurrences. Moreover, latter depended on the former. Very unlikely to repeat. There might not have been a WW1, and not just Pinkerian reasons, but Realpolitik ones. Russian power was rapidly converging to German, making two front war increasingly untenable; hence, German General Staff urged war sooner, before 1916 at the latest. USA and Russia would dominate mid to late 20th century, and more equally; a China on S. Korea’s development trajectory would be surpassing both ~2000 (instead of Russia in 1990 and the US around ~2030 in our TL). Tech in general might be about a decade further advanced, though rocketry might lag slightly. But global warming also worse, since Communism wouldn’t have retarded many countries’ development.

In other news, Andy Weir, the guy who wrote The Martian, now has a new sci-fi book “Artemis” about a 2,000 population lunar base in the late 21st century.

Anyone read it? Is it any good?

Tolkien’s son resigns as director of the Tolkien estate. Hopefully the days of capricious copyright exploitation are coming to an end. Film adaptation of The Last Ringbearer when?

Main

* Top 500 supercomputer list for November 2017 is out.

Although China first overtook the United States in June 2016 by the smallest of margins, for the first time the gap has become truly significant: China – 202; United States – 143.

As per usual, Russia has a grand total of around 3, because the Putin regime prefers the Rotenbergs to R&D.

poland-death-march

* Inspirational imagery from the Polish nationalist march in Warsaw. Vincent Law attended and has a good writeup.

Much more impressive than the sad affairs that pass for such in the Trumpreich and the Putlerreich. But long-term prospects are mixed, at best.

* Lubos Motls: Bitcoin congestion singularity may be coming. Can’t really serve as a normal means of exchange if a single transaction costs you several cups of coffee.

* spandrell: Biological Leninism.

* Scott Alexander: Book Review: Legal Systems Very Different From Ours

They feared that a written law code generally available would lead to rules lawyering and supported unequal treatement based on the unequal status of those to whom the law applied…Some early writers argued against making the law code publicly available. …

Where the offense did not seem to fit any category in the code, the court felt free to find the defendant guilty of doing what ought not to be done or of violating an Imperial decree — not an actual decree, but one that the Emperor would have made had the matter been brought to his attention.

The sections on China were fascinating – it was the definition of Kafkaevschina. And the same order prevailed at the end of the Qing dynasty.

byzantine-culture-world

* Caitlyn Green with a world map of where Byzantine artifacts have been found.

* Gerald Clare: The Forgotten Dream of a Russian Africa

* Alt Left podcaster Robert Stark has a book out, Journey to Vapor Island. B.W. Rabbit reviews it.

Russia

* Russian rearmaments program from 2018-2027 is, at 19 billion rubles, virtually equal to that for the period 2011-2020.

Adjusting for inflation, this translates into a massive cut to military spending.

* New VCIOM poll: While Putin’s approval remains high, indicators of social dissatisfaction nearing the heights they reached around late 2011, when mass protests kicked off.

* Patrick Armstrong: RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 16 NOVEMBER 2017

So now RT America is a “foreign agent“. (Remember all the faux outrage about Russia’s FARA imitation law? No? But it was only a year ago: “Russia: Four years of Putin’s ‘Foreign Agents’ law to shackle and silence NGOs“. Hard to keep up, isn’t it?) In case you think this reflects poorly on the “champion for free speech and free press”, John McCain, channelling Brezhnev, explains why it doesn’t.

* Bershidsky: Russia’s RT Just Isn’t Worth Attacking. Simpler Explanations Are Usually Correct. Even on Russia.

It looks like Russia’s retaliation will be very mild; so far, we only know that RFERL/Voice of America and their various projects will have to register as foreign agents.

* Alexey Kovalev: Here’s what Russians think: Brexit is your creature – don’t blame it on us

* Kevin Rothrock translates Oleg Kashin’s op-ed for the liberal Republic webzine (formerly Slon): When Russians stopped believing in the Western media:

There’s a thoroughly naive misperception that the people working for propaganda outlets are all hard-nose cynics ready to say that black is white just so they can make their mortgage payments. In fact, anyone who’s talked with just one of these people knows that any cynicism that might guide them is something entirely different: it’s not “I lie because of my mortgage,” but “I say what serves the state’s interests because that’s how it works everywhere — we serve Russia, CNN serves the U.S., and the BBC is itself a state organization.”

Hearing this kind of talk, Russians from the independent media of course always laughed, but time has shown that the ones who said “it’s like this everywhere” were right. At the very least, over the past year and a half, the Western press with its highest standards has gifted us too many outrageous stories to ignore.

Kashin is a Russian liberal, yet even so, he is of the firm opinion that the Western media has gone way overboard in their Russiagate hysteria. In this sense, he parallels Bloomberg’s Leonid Bershidsky and Alexey Kovalev, who sometimes writes for The Guardian – both of them are highly anti-Putin pro-Westerners, yet not completely devoid of critical observation, for which they in turn have been accused of being Kremlin trolls by the ROG truthers.

* Joe Lauria: The Creation of RussiaGate

* Russian freedom fighting anarchist Pyotr Pavlensky flees to the West (after a rape accusation cooked up by the KGB… maybe not). Burns down a French book. Neoliberals who praised him when he was pulling his stunts in Russia now practice punitive psychiatry on him.

* Bryan MacDonald: How George Soros’ people enlisted me as a ‘foot-soldier in the fight against Putin’. There are a lot of these scam NGO’s sucking up State Department and Soros money.

* Muh based Putlerreich introducing gender equality law inc. quotas for female % in politics; will solve “problems of sexism, ageism, harassment.”

* Russia Elections 2018:

Will Putin run? Bryan MacDonald thinks there is still a slight chance that he won’t. Will have a separate post on this.

Ksenia Sobchak got a Vkontakte account just this week. Goes to show why she won’t rise above the single digits: All the Russian liberal kreakl tusovka hangs out on Facebook.

World

* James Thompson: Boost your IQ. Important discussion of two recent papers on effect of more school education on later IQ.

* Gregory Hood: The Lie of Law

* Defrosted: Just noticed that Peter Frost is writing again, though at his own website now.

* New study: Moderate alcohol consumption improves foreign language skills (the paper). Funny and so very true.

india-map-gdp-per-capita

* GDP per capita map of the Indian subcontinent. Pakistan used to be richer than India, really strikes home the fact that this is no longer the case.

* The Atlantic has a very long profile of Andrew Anglin. Skimmed through it. Seems like a stereotypical background for a Neo-Nazi.

* Inventor of Ethereum is much less cool than Pavel Durov.

* Bunch of Alt Right/Alt Right people lost their Blue Checkmarks on Twitter (Richard Spencer, Jason Kessler, Laura Loomer, James Allsup would be recognizable to many); Baked Alaska got suspended entirely.

This is in line with a new Twitter policy to remove verification from users who “promote hate” (except, presumably, against white people).

However, the real fun will begin on Nov 22, when new rules on the display of “hateful imagery and hate symbols” – developed in conjunction with the ADL – will come into effect. Like schools and workplaces, it will now also take into account offline behavior, as well as “monitor for hate speech in usernames, display names, and profile bios.”

Since everyone born in 1988 is, by definition, a Nazi, there’s some chance @akarlin88 will be shut down around that time. Can’t say I’ll miss it.

* Wrath of Gnon digs up a note on medieval German hospitality.

german-hospitality

I have sometimes wondered about practical logistics of long-term travel in the deep past (esp. if you lose your purse). This helps explain things, I suppose.

 
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Though presented as an anti-corruption campaign, there’s no real doubt that it is politically motivated (at any rate MbS sure enjoys the sweet life himself).

I agree with Alexander Mercouris (read his excellent article) that the intent is to transform Saudi Arabia from the nepotistic monarchy it is today to a modernizing autocracy centered around MbS.

saudi-oil-dependence

CNN: Saudi oil dependence.

Saudi Arabia faces very big problems in coming decades. It is highly reliant on oil – it pumps out five times as much per capita as that “gas station of a country,” Russia. But the technological revolution in this industry of the past decade has dashed any hopes such oil exporters might had had off living off the resource rent indefinitely. Meanwhile, the population is growing by more than 2% per annum, and the rentier class of Saudi princes – who now number around 15,000 – is growing even faster (“elite overproduction,” as Peter Turchin would say).

This political transformation, if successful, will help Saudi Arabia avoid collapse as oil revenues per capita dry up in the coming decades. But will it be successful?

Positives

1. The anti-corruption “raid” has netted a lot of money in the most direct sense. Eric Margolis in today’s featured column on this webzine mentions $800 billion. That sounds off by an order of magnitude, but very useful nonetheless.

A much more important effect is that this constitutes a signal that there there could be limits on the amount of resources that the royal family will be allowed to hoard. This offers a way out from the Saudi elite overproduction trap.

national-transformation-program

3. MbS has shown a healthy apetite for economic reform. In the National Transformation Programme announced in 2016, there are plans to partially privatize oil giant Aramco, diversify from oil (easier said than done), and cut subsidies and welfare.

Famous Twitter satirist menaquinone4 jokes that Saudi Arabia has been taken over by a TED Talk. But hey, TED Talks are a fixture of the well-educated SWPLs who attend Davos, and Riyadh has mastered their language:

In a 2006 paper, the cliodynamicist Peter Turchin – who had, incidentally, also predicted the rise of Islamic State – proposed the following two futures for Saudi Arabia: “The model predicts that the sovereign debt of Saudi Arabia will eventually reach unmanageable proportions; the fiscal collapse will be followed by a state collapse in short order. The timing of the collapse is affected by exogenous events (primarily, fluctuations in world oil prices) and by parameter uncertainty (certain parameters of the model can be estimated only very approximately)… A major theoretical alternative is provided by a set of ideas and specific recom­mendations suggesting how Saudi Arabia can avoid crisis by reforming its economy and liberalizing its political system (the “IMF scenario”).

The IMF scenario, in this interpretation, consists of opening up the economy to external competition, balancing the budget and cutting social spending, and liberalizing politics. To date, MbS has taken at least tentative steps on the first two parts.

4. This is accompanied by social reform that sits well with younger people – the most publicized example would be allowing women to drive. Labor participation rates should increase. Cinemas have been reopened. And MbS has at least spoken of a much more stringent commitment to fighting extremism.

5. Bold scenario: Invade and annex Qatar, which has four times more oil production per capita than even Saudi Arabia. The Saudi military isn’t anything to write home about, but this should be quite doable, if the US is okay with it (which it probably is under Trump).

This might extend the feasibility of the current model by a decade just by itself (barring any major geopolitical fallout).

Negatives

1. Existing power centers have been alienated.

First, other factions of the Saudi family, who will not be happy with the purges – and henceforth, will have just one obvious, central person (MbS) to blame for any future failures.

And there likely will be failures, given the scope of his geopolitical ambitions (Syria, Yemen, Qatar, now Lebanon).

Second, the mullahs, whose authority he has undercut. Wahhabism and the House of Saud have always been joined at the hip, and the relationship hasn’t always been a smooth one. Though it is now backpeddling, the Saudis thirty years worth of financing Wahhabi extremists abroad may well come to boomerang back against them.

Both of these are more important than any “cool points”, probably ephemeral ones, that MbS is gaining with young progressive Saudis.

2. Though MbS is cutting the ties between Court and business, there is no guarantee that the new elites who will form around him will be any less rapacious or corrupt than the current ones. Maybe even the contrary. An acquaintance with experience of Saudi Arabia tells me that the royal family are “rooted” in society; they feel a certain sense of noblesse oblige that you don’t get with modern, post-traditionalist bureaucracies. An Arab who had fallen on hard times can come and petition a prince for help, and not infrequently said prince would provide alms or other aid. This perhaps explains why the Saudi nobility, despite their sorry reputation in the highly formal and rules-based West, are not particularly resented for their legal immunities and other privileges in their own homeland. This system may not survive MbS’s modernizing centralization.

3. Military spending is soaring out of control – the Saudi total now rival’s Russia’s (on paper). In reality, it gets much less bang for the buck, since the Saudis obscenely overpay for foreign (mostly American) military equipment, with the recent $300 billion deal agreed upon during Trump’s visit – of which $110 billion is to be paid upfront – being just the latest and grandest example.

But like most Arab militaries, the Saudis do not have the military culture or human capital to properly use their high-end equipment.

This is important because MbS is a hawk. King Salman (his father) was one of the most hardline princes in supporting intervention in Syria, which is now winding down into failure. MbS was instrumental in the invasion of Yemen in 2015, embroiling Saudi Arabia in an unwinnable partisan war, and in the diplomatic spat with and blockade of Qatar, which has only served to move it closer to Iran and Russia. Most recently, they have taken the extraordinary step of effectively kidnapping of Saad Hariri, the PM of Lebanon, perhaps as part of a prelude to bombing Lebanon.

Teddy Roosevelt said you should speak softly but carry a big stick. The Saudis are doing the opposite.

4. It’s important not to overdo the importance of the Saudi reforms. Since 2010, it is one of the few countries to have regressed in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings not just relatively, but in the absolute value of the Distance to Frontier (to best practices) indicator. Along with Qatar, it has the least transparent budget in the world. In all fairness, King Salman has only been in power since 2015. Even so, its position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business has fallen from 82nd to 92nd in the two years since.

It also remains to be seen whether MbS has the capacity for more painful reform, such as ending the dollar peg and allowing the Saudi riyal to devalue.

4. Foreign Policy: Saudi Arabia Is Betting Its Future on a Desert Megacity

In theory, the desert ecopolis of Rabi’ah Neom will be run by advanced AI systems and will provide humanity with cutting-edge breakthroughts in digital technology, biotechnologies, and clean energy.

My prediction: It will look less like this…

machine-city

… and more like this (presumably minus the cyborg).

deus-ex-dubai

However, the $500 billion projected for this white elephant are sure to provide kickbacks more than sufficient to consolidate a new clique of oligarchs around MbS.

It’s just unrealistic to expect anything else in a country of 85 average IQ rent-seekers.

Many of these problems have strong parallels with 1780s France.

Even as its debt payments mounted, the ancien regime lavished money on the military (including a failed military harbor at Cherbourg – the SDI program of that time) and pursued bold and generally successful but fiscally ruinous geopolitical adventures aimed at checking its eternal rival, Britain (Iran).

It also engaged in profligate construction spending – the Finance Minister, Calonne, called it “useful splendor,” on the dubious theory that it would inspire confidence and attract more credit. Didn’t really end up working that way. But at least the Court got to enjoy nicer palaces for a short time, and perhaps their modern equivalents, the globalist Davosites, will likewise get to partake of VR tours of Neom for another decade or two.

Which is not to say that an Arabian Revolution is at all inevitable in the next quarter century. I would say that it is unlikely, but quite conceivable.

Even though the budget is deeply in the red, and the currency is hugely overvalued, the Saudis still have massive foreign currency reserves, little debt, and huge oil reserves. The security forces are well fed, the military has always been kept defanged (even if incompetence is a side effect), and after the purge, the National Guard is now under the control of MbS.

On the other hand, substantial percentages of the two most important social groups, the mullahs and the oligarch princes, have been alienated. And is it well known, revolutionary apetites are provoked as often as they are sated by reform. Maybe aspiring Saudi bobos will be happy that women are now allowed into football stadiums. Or maybe they will be even angrier that they remain segregated from men there. We will have to wait and see.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Saudi Arabia 
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Just came back from a workshop on “Intelligence and Culture as Factors of National Competitiveness” organized by the Institute of Psychology RAS.

ipras-iq-russia

The most interesting presentation was by Konstantin Sugonyev, which may be published in a forthcoming paper. It concerned the following test:

https://recrut.mil.ru/career/soldiering/test.htm

This is a test on the Russian Defense Ministry’s website, where potential contract soldiers are offered to take an IQ test (30 questions, testing verbal, numerical, logical), and a couple of personality tests, to assess their suitability for military service (unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to give you your score, only a pass or a fail).

Over the years 2012-2017, almost 250,000 Russians have done this test, possibly making this the largest source of regional psychometric data on Russia apart from the Unified State Exams (regional data about them is carefully secreted away).

The results:

Cohorts

While people born between 1973 and 1987 performed at a stable 19.5-20/30, the post-1988 period saw a steady improvement towards an average score of 21/30.

S.D. is around 6 points.

Whether this is due to a Flynn effect or ageing isn’t clear.

ipras-regions-russia

Regions

Only the top/bottom 5 regions were displayed, but they were exactly as expected. The difference between the best performers and worst performers was almost 1 S.D.

Best regions:

  1. Saint-Petersburg
  2. Yaroslavl
  3. Moscow
  4. Kirov oblast
  5. Chuvashia

Worst regions:

  1. Ingushetia
  2. Tyva
  3. Chechnya
  4. Dagestan
  5. Kabardino-Balkaria

So nice when new investigations continue building on stereotypes, especially n=250,000 investigations.

Note that I have long thought Yaroslavl might have a high IQ.

It had the highest literacy rate of any non-capital Russian region in 1897:

Incidentally, I am not surprised to see Yaroslavl being the top non-Baltic/non-capital Russian region by literacy rate in 1897. It struck me as by far the cleanest and most civilized provincial Russian town on the Golden Ring when I visited it in 2002 (a time when Russia was still shaking off the hangover of the Soviet collapse). Curiously enough, it also hosted one of the most vigorous insurrections against the Bolshevik regime in central Russia. Although it was not one of the regions covered by PISA, I would not be surprised if Yaroslavl oblast was to get a 100-102 score on it should it be carried out there (and as would be implied by the correlation curve).

They also had the biggest percentage of Russian peasant families with passbooks (needed for savings accounts) in 1897 and 1913.

“Patriotism”

The major disadvantage of this test that it selects for some degree of Internet proficiency (so also a mild sort of IQ test). No easy way to correct for this.

The major advantage of it is that you can also get a good idea of the “patriotism” of different Russian regions by the percentage of their population who do these tests.

Most patriotic regions:

  1. Sevastopol
  2. Altay
  3. Buryatia
  4. Murmansk
  5. Amur
  6. Zabaykal
  7. Adygea
  8. Kaliningrad
  9. Tyva

Least patriotic regions:

  1. Chechnya
  2. Ingushetia
  3. Tyumen
  4. Sakha (Yakutia)
  5. Tatarstan
  6. Khanty-Mansiysk
  7. Yamalo-Nenets
  8. Dagestan
  9. Karachay-Cherkassia

Note that Sevastopol was first, even though Crimea only joined up with Russia in 2014, i.e. about 40% of the way through this “experiment.”

The patriotism of the Buryats and Tuvans is also noted. This is not all that surprising – recall that Buryats had the highest percentage rate of military deaths in WW2 alongside Russians.

In contrast, DICh – especially Chechnya and Ingushetia – are distinguished by their lack of patriotism.

Saint-Petersburg was more patriotic than Moscow, as well as being more intelligent.

Results were robust according to a variety of statistical checks.

Several other people, including myself, made presentations.

ipras-davydov

One, by Denis Davydov, was about a 19 region (n=4010) survey of 18-50 year old Russians with Raven’s tests carried out in 2005-2007. (For some reason, its detailed results remain unpublished – at the least, they don’t appear in Lynn’s or Becker’s database).

They found no correlation with income, though I suspect the problem there is low sample + no adjustment for oil income.

There was also a negative correlation with homicides, suicides, and alcohol consumption, which is of course unusual. My pet theory is that this is due to the Finno-Ugric admixture in northern Russia making them both more intelligent and more prone to alcohol abuse, with most homicides/suicides in Russia themselves being a function of alcohol abuse.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: IQ, Moscow, Patriotism, Psychometrics, Russia, The AK 
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lenin-was-right

Communist Russophilia in all its glory.

I have some important work non-blog related tasks to do up until Nov 16 so there’ll be a temporary halt to my posts deconstructing the Red ideology, but rest assured that this important mission will be resumed.

Speaking of that. Recently met up with a couple of elderly relatives, the centenary of the Revolution came up. One is a Soviet nostalgic and pro-Leninist/Stalinist, as are most people of that generation, the other – a person in his 60s, blue-collar engineer background, even has the engineer’s trademark disdain for humanities education – started opining about the Brusilov offensive, that Russia should have won WW1, that Lenin was a traitorous scumbag, etc. This was shocking to the latter, though pleasantly surprising for myself. I should also stress that there was absolutely no prompting on my part (personally I try to avoid discussing the USSR with old people in Russia and the West alike), though as the debate got going, I did back him up .

What is the point of this anecdote? First, that there are people with all strongly anti-Bolshevik opinions in Russia, including in demographic groups you’d hardly expect it from. Second, that there are some people in my comments threads who are full of shit.

Moderation Note

Whining from certain quarters regardless, you really have to work pretty hard to get banned from my blog.

There have been a total of about a dozen such cases. Here’s a representative sample:

  • The person who keeps on spamming that shitty Holocaust denial forum
  • The person who believes that literally every Islamic terrorist attack is a CIA/Mossad/reptilian Illuminati false flag
  • The spammy Islamist
  • The Stalinist nutjob who made implicit legal threats against me

Anyhow, I am taking the possibly misguided decision of a total amnesty, and have temporarily scoured the entire list.

This doesn’t mean its going to be a free for all. I reserve the right to hide stupid/spammy comments under a <more> divider. I reserve the right to outright delete extremely stupid and/or spammy comments. And if necessary, I will start populating the ban list again.

Comment rules are here, to be enforced at my discretion – http://akarlin.com/comments/

Main

* Alexander Mercouris: Destabilising Saudi Arabia? Crown Prince consolidates control; eliminates rivals

I’ll write about Saudi Arabia in a separate post.

* Andrew Griffin, Max Benwell (Independent): Rogues of The Resistance: The liberal activists and conspiracy theorists who want to take down Trump

There’s that joke about the Jew who enjoyed reading Der Stürmer because it was so positive about Jewish achievements such as their control of all the banks and media. I admit I enjoy reading Louise Mensch and /r/politics for the same reason. It’s nice to fantasize about a world where ROG is real.

* Jose Ricon: Links (13)

* Ruin value. I suppose this makes it the architectural equivalent of the “live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse” philosophy.

Russia

chomsky-on-persecution-of-rt

Noam Chomsky interview from April 2015.

* RT forced to register as foreign agent by Monday.

Russia has promised retaliation, though it hasn’t specified what. It is possible that it will be something completely retarded, like blocking CNN and RFERL (which practically nobody in Russia visits anyway – and those few who do, are familiar with VPN).

Roskomnadzor says it’s also designed an extrajudicial system for blocking the websites of organizations labeled “undesirable” by the Justice Ministry.

If Russia was run by smart people, it would start denying visas to the more hostile Western journalists, like China does. This is effective, and deniable (can’t prove its on purpose). But I don’t expect that to start happening anytime soon.

* Paul Robinson: Interview with Mikhail Remizov

* This year’s Russian March in Moscow was broken up by OMON. What was a major spectacle regularly drawing ~10,000 vigorous right-wingers 5-10 years ago is now a rather sad affair with no more than ~500 people, most of whom belong to Maltev/Demushkin’s marginal pro-Ukraine, pro-NATO faction.

vishnevsky-russia-demographics-no-ussr

* Anatoly Vishnevsky: A demographic projection of Russia’s population in the 20th century (within current borders!) if no Bolshevism + WW2 [in Russian].

Around 280 million people (instead of 145 million), plus maybe 120 million Ukrainians and Belorussians = 400 million strong East Slavic superpower.

orwell-sovok

* Brilliant “Orwellization” of Lenin’s most slogan (via Оскал Империализма)

Bread is Prodrazverstka
Land is Collectivization
Peace is Civil War

World

* genby: A list of all (all 28) of North Korea’s websites. Another Communist success story.

Other

* YouGov poll: Germany tolerates men staring at breasts more than most

* Azeri success story:

 
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russia-inflation

Inflation is now at 2.7% as of October 2017, down from double-digit rates three years ago and overshooting the Central Bank of Russia’s 4% target for this year.

This constitutes an all-time post-Soviet low.

This is in large part thanks to the hawkish monetary policy of CBR head Elvira Nabiullina, and indirectly of Putin, who gave her and the economic liberal bloc political cover in the face of populist opposition demanding lower interest rates and greater state invervention in the economy.

Once Soviet-era capacities, at least in those sectors where they were market-competitive, were restored by the mid-2000s, Russia’s high growth rate petered out (though irrational exuberance sustained it for a couple more years until the 2008 crash). The major problem, besides an atrocious business climate, was that high inflationary expectations had become embedded. High inflation discourages savings, which you need for investment. Consequently, banks were only prepared to lend to small and medium sized businesses at rapacious rates of interest.

But it now looks like Russia’s version of the Volcker shock since 2014 has finally succeeded in taming inflation for good.

This is especially significant since it comes on the back of three other major achievements that are of long-term relevance to growth.

1. A rise from ~120th (i.e. Nigeria) to 35th (i.e. Japan) position on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business since the start of Putin’s third term. Russia is still far from the best place to do business in, but it is vastly better than it was a decade ago.

2. A near halving in the numbers of Russian “pocket banks,” to the benefit of established and more transparent lenders (a consolidation that Nabiullina has spearheaded).

3. The beginning of semi-serious efforts to resurrect Russia’s moribund R&D capacities. (More on this later).

Finally, Russia has managed to do all this without the big budget deficits, yawning debt increases, and the unusual monetary experiments that have characterized Western policies since 2000.

Despite the political and foreign policy failures of Putin’s third term in office, and its more “embedded” problems such as elite rent-seeking and excessive state ownership, economic policy during this period is praiseworthy and, barring major geopolitical crises, stands Russia in good stead for a decade of solid growth.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Inflation, Russia 
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ryzhenko-zontik

Pavel Ryzhenko (2008): Umbrella.

The latest in our series of translations of Russian national-conservative intellectual Egor Kholmogorov, as promised.

In his latest article, published at Vzglyad, Kholmogorov demolishes twelve myths about the Bolshevik revolution, using a recent article by the Russian novelist Zakhar Prilepin as a foil. Why Prilepin? Who is he, anyway? You won’t find many mentions of him in the Western media, like you would of Vladimir Sorokin, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, or Dzerzhinsky admirer turned maniac Russophobe Svetlana Alexievich – writers that take a “handshakeworthy” anti-Russian stance. However, Zakhar Prilepin enjoys far more popular acclaim within Russia itself than any of those third rate entities – the only modern Russian literary authors comparable to him in eminence are Boris Akunin (historical mystery), Viktor Pelevin (satire), and Sergey Lukyanenko (sci-fi).

Part of the reason is Prilepin’s background. He has nothing to do with the Moscow intellentsia; he is the quintessential Russian redneck. Worked as a laborer, a security guard, and with the OMON riot police. Chechnya vet. Went into journalism in the 2000s, but found his true calling in artistic literature: Writing socially critical novels, typically about life in the Russian podunks (he himself hails from the rustbelt city of Nizhny Novgorod). Worst of all, he is a vatnik, a Communist (a National Bolshevik, to be precise), and a Donbass supporter. Most definitely not handshakeworthy – especially since he doesn’t exactly keep his politics on a backburner. Prilepin is also Chief Editor of Svobodnaya Pressa, an intelligent online journal and media success story that enjoys 15 million monthly visits (they even once translated one of my articles). He also pals around with DNR bigwigs and has even gathered a batallion for the War in the Donbass, though its more PR spectable than anything else.

As one of Russia’s leading “patriotic”/vatnik intellectuals, and one of the most authoritatative spokespersons for what Russian Neo-Stalinists actually think, a point by point critique of Prilepin’s apologia for the Bolshevik Revolution has value beyond just another recitation of Bolshevik crimes and hypocrisy (of which there is no shortage of anyway). Moreover, even if you substantively or wholly disagree with Egor Kholmogorov’s critique, I hope that this translation will at least help you get a better picture of the actual state of the debate about the Soviet legacy amongst normal Russians, beyond the banal (not to mention 90% wrong) Western representation of it as a binary struggle between a Stalinophile Kremlin and pro-Western liberals.

Translated by: Anatoly Karlin (intro to #5) and Fluctuarius Argenteus (#6-12).

Original: https://vz.ru/columns/2017/11/8/894324.html

***

Twelve Myths of the Bolshevik Revolution: A Conservative Refutation

The defense of Lenin and the Bolshevik regime in Zakhar Prilepin’s recent article is so representative of the genre that one can barely leave it uncommeted.

The Great October Revolution lies in ruins on its centenary. The essence of its defeat lies in that even the modest apologists for Bolshevism hardly ever cite their actual programs, slogans, and values. Nobody knows says that the Revolution opened the path to socialism and Communism all over the world, nobody expresses joy over the collapse of the bourgeoisie and the Tsar’s henchmen, and their replacement by a workers’ state. Nobody says that the light of atheism shone through the darkness of clerical obscurantism, nobody insists that the Bolseviks gave the land to the peasants, the factories to the workers, and peace to the people.

The justification of the October Revolution, of Bolshevism, and of Soviet power – in short, the entirety of Red apologetics – now occurs from within patriotic, nationalist, conspirological, populist, and even Christian Orthodox frameworks, all of which were mostly or entirely antithetical to the Communist value system itself. In practice, this consists of sophistic manipulations of Hegel’s “Cunning of Reason.” That is, the Bolsheviks wanted one thing, but something entirely different happened in reality, and it is actually this unconscious benefit which constitutes the real blessing of the revolution.

This form of apologetics was invented as early as the 1920s by the National Bolsheviks, from Ustryalov – who viewed Lenin as a patriot and a great stateman, and the Whites as agents of foreign powers in the form of the Entente – to Klyuev – who saw the Bolsheviks as liberators of the more authentic, pre-Petrine, “Kerzhen” Russia. But the value of all these apologetics was most poignantly demonstrated by the execution (Ustryalov, Klyuev) or imprisonment (Karsavin, Savitsky, Shulgin) of everyone who glorified Bolshevism through prisms other than Marxism-Leninism. Sure, the Bolsheviks were not averse to using smenovekhovstvo – the White emigres pushing for conciliation with the Soviet regime – for their own purposes, but they most assuredly did not subscribe to their vision of their historical mission as patriots, regatherers of the Russian lands, and custodians of the Russian state.

Why do people still bother with Red apologetics today?

Partly, on account of inflexibility. Russia in the 1990s was infested by ghouls, screeching that they had freed us from Lenin, the Communists, and the revolutionary heritage – which quietly freeing us of the contents of our pockets. And since this looting occured under the banner of anticommunism, it is no surprise that pro-Soviet discourse grew popular, since it, at least, did not brook this mass looting.

For all intents and purposes, Red apologetics was an apologetics for a social state; for public property, that had been created by the common labor of the Soviet people; for the Army, cosmonautics, the military-industrial complex, the Navy, the research centers, and so forth. And this was logical.

To my shame, there was a period, when I myself, despite never having imbibed the Leninist spirit, partook of similar activities. The most popular aspect of these apologetics was the Stalinist one – yes, the Revolution may have been horrific, but then came along Stalin and set everything right again…

But this train has passed. Russian society now faces new challenges, in which the political canonization of Bolshevism, Leninism, and Stalinism are not the friends, but the enemies, of our future.

And yet the Red people are still stuck in their polemics about Gaidar and Chubais. For instance, take the issue of creeping separatism in Tatarstan. It is impossible to solve it from a neo-Soviet position, because it was Lenin who created the Tatar ASSR and accomodated the Sultan-Galievs. The Ukraine, which demolished all its Lenin monuments, was his beloved child. In reality, regardless of which question we consider, appeals to the Soviet experience are block brakes on our future progress. It is either a false alternative to the liberal solution, or it is the liberal solution. Therefore, it is of no surprise that we are hearing increasingly Bolshevik overtones in the rhetoric of our liberal cliques, for example, in the matter of anti-clericalism. The Zyuganov era of traditionalist-friendly Communism is coming to its inevitable end, and is becoming displaced by a new era of Communist liberalism, which is hostile to the Russian traditional values that are held in equal contempt by both liberals and conventional Communists. [1]

It is precisely this form of apologetics that was advanced by Zakhar Prilepin in his recent article 12 Points about the Revolution and the Civil War. His defense of Lenin and the Bolshevik order is so representative that the urge to deconstruct it is irresistable, so that is what we shall do, point by consecutive point.

1. The Bolsheviks did not overthrow the Tsar – they overthrew the liberal-Westernist Provisional Government.

The Bolsheviks were the most categorical supporters of overthrowing the autocracy amongst all the Russian opposition parties. They excluded the possibility of keeping the monarchy even in a purely constitutional form; they were the most consistent republicans.

The Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party considers its immediate political task to be the overview of Tsarist autocracy and its replacement by a democratic republic,” read the program of the RSDRP accepted at its 2nd Congress, the very one where Lenin’s supporters constituted the majority, and henceforth came to be known as the Bolsheviks.

The Bolsheviks didn’t play a major role in the overthrow of the monarchy only because the party was still very weak as of February 1917.

But they more than compensated for this through their murder of the royal family, which, besides the innate abhorrence of the murder of the children and the servants, constituted the true overthrow of the Russian monarchy. As many historians and legal theorists have pointed out, the abdictation of Nicholas II in March 1917 was legally null and reversible, whereas death was final.

2. Prilepin, arguing that the Civil War between Whites and Reds was started by the Februarists (Kornilov, Alekseyev, Savinkov), poses this rhetorical question: “Do those who oppose Lenin and the Bolsheviks really believe that Russia would have been better off in the 20th century if it was governed by liberals, revolutionaries with a penchant for terrorism, and generals who broke their vows”?

Unfortunately, the majority of our readers are still not sufficiently familiar with the history of the anti-Bolshevik resistance, and might therefore be inclined to agree with this assertion. But that doesn’t make it correct.

The leaders, the real icons of the White movement – generals Drozdovsky, Markov, Kappel, Yudenich, Kutepov – were convinced monarchists. The only consistent republican amongst the leadership was Denikin. The position of Admiral Kolchak remains unclear.

The rest in one way or another expressed support for monarchy. Moreover, despite the dissatisfaction of Entente emissaries, the White movements continuously moved rightwards throughout the years of the Civil War towards a more definite monarchism, culminating in a Zemsky Sobor in Vladivostok in 1922.

General Kornilov: “I was never against the monarchy… I am a Cossack. A true Cossack cannot be anything but a monarchist.

General Alekseyev: “In the course of time Russia has to move towards a restoration of monarchy.

General Wrangel: “The Tsar must appear only when the Bolsheviks are vanquished.

Even the republican Denikin admitted that half of his Army consisted of monarchists.

But to honestly answer the question of whether it would have been better for Russia to be ruled by liberals, retired Social Revolutionary pyromaniacs, and turncoat generals in the 20th century, it is merely sufficient to pose the following questions:

“Would Savinkov, the terrorist Social Revolutionary, have implemented general collectivization, dekulakization, and the expulsion of people whose lands and property had been seized, into areas of permafrost, where they died of hunger?”

“Would Kornilov, the general who betrayed the monarchy, has created a system of concentration camps covering the entire country, where people would have been sent for telling a joke about himself, or for stealing a sheaf of wheat from one of Savinkov’s collective farms?”

“Would Kerensky, that undoubted leftist scoundrel, have issued orders blocking relief to the famine-stricken oblasts of Malorossiya, the Kuban, and the Volga, and instead barred their denizens from leaving the disaster zones?”

“Would Denikin, the republican, have signed off on lists of hundreds of names to be executed and approved the requests of local secret police HQs to raise the shooting quotas?”

“Would Milyukov, unrivalled in his liberal vulgarity, have closed churches, shot monks, priests, bishops, and hole fools, tear off crosses from children’s necks and open up holy relics for “examination”?”

An honest answer to these questions demonstrates how even a regime of incredibly odious Februarists was still far preferable to Bolshevik tyranny. Even the most authoritarian right-wing regimes are incomparable to leftist totalitarians in the scale of their repressions and destruction. Pinochet is not Pol Pot.

Furthermore, we can see why even the Februarists were preferable to Communist power by the example of the 1990s. In those years, the new Februarists encountered fierce political, ideological, and sometimes violent resistance from the national-patriotic forces. In the end, before a single decade passed, and Russian February ended, voluntarily surrending power to Putin, who began the process of state rebuilding. Why would the 1920s have been any different?

3. “Supporters of the idea that the Revolution was financed by German and British money should try to explain, first, whether they actually obtained the advantages they sought; and second, identify the goals that both pursued by intervening against Soviet Russia, if the Bolsheviks were indeed their agents.

Nobody ever suspected the Bolsheviks of acting in the interests of the Entente. It is the Februarists, overthrown by the Bolsheviks, who were probably English agents, whereas Lenin and his colleagues are, not without justification, seen as German agents.

There were no even minimally significant clashes between the Bolsheviks and the German Army, which occupied a large portion of Russia under the Brest Peace. Lenin and his government was absolutely loyal to Germany up to the last day of the Hohenzollern monarchy, with tremendous benefits to the German war effort – a large part of the Army was freed from the Eastern Front and hurled west instead, helped along by food supplies from the Ukraine.

You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Lenin was most scrupulous about keeping his side of the German contract, up to and including pressuring even his own party to ratify the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. It is sufficient to recall that on March 1, 1918 the Bolsheviks matter of factly surrendered Kiev, liberated from the Petlyurites on February 8 as a result of a workers’ uprising.

The enduring nature of the Bolshevik-German alliance is testified to by its quick resurrection under Germany’s new republican rulers, despite them having suppressed all attempts to seize power by Moscow-backed Cominternists.

4. “When discussing the exile of part of the aristocracy from Russia, and its replacement by “cooks and bandits,” as some of us say, it is worth recalling, that Lenin, too, was a noble, as were many of the most prominent Bolshevik figures and leaders of the party” [there follows a discussion of the noble descent of Lenin, Ordzhonikidze, Mayakovsky, and even the Chekist, Gleb Bokii].

There is nothing new about some members of the aristocracy defecting to anti-aristocratic movements. One can cite many other historical examples, from Pericles in Ancient Athens to Philippe I, Duke of Orléans.

The list of names mentioned by Prilepin himself show that the numbers of noblemen amongst the leaders of the Bolsheviks was negligibly small (especially when your exclude Polish nobles such as Dzerzhinsky, who hated everything Russian and were considered revolutionaries a priori in the Russian Empire).

Moreover, the degree of Lenin’s noble stock shouldn’t be exaggerated; his father, Ilya Ulyanov, was the son of a petty bourgeois, and only acquired the rank permitting him to pass on his noble status seven years after Vladimir’s birth.

Relations between the Bolsheviks and the nobility was determined not by individual relationships, but by the political philosophy of Bolshevism, the essence of which was class war – and the nobility, just like the priesthood, the bourgeioisie, and well-to-do peasants peasants were seen as class enemies, destined for destruction.

5. “75,000 former Tsarist officers served in the Red Army (62,000 of whom were of noble origin), whereas the Whites only attracted 35,000 of the 150,000 officer corps of the Russian Empire.

Prilepin’s numbers are an arbitrary fiction concocted by the Soviet researcher Alexander Kavtaradze in the book Military Specialists in the Service of the Soviet Republic 1917-1920. His speculations were refuted in Sergey Volkov’s ground-breaking research manuscript The Tragedy of the Russian Officers.

Kavtaradze arbitrarily sums up completely different categories, such as:

1. The 8,000 officers who voluntarily signed up with the Bolsheviks to participate in the “curtain forces” shielding Russia from German forces in the spring of 1918. These were men who wanted to continue fighting the German enemy, but were betrayed by the Bolsheviks, and subsequently, a signifcant number of them left the Red Army, or even joined up with the Whites.

2. The 48,000 former officers conscripted into the Red Army from 1918-2020, often coercively.

3. The 14,000 imprisoned White officers, who entered the Red Army to save their own life. These former officers constituted around a quarter to a third of the command of the Red Army, but their percentage steadily declined, since the Bolsheviks didn’t trust the Tsarist military experts.

It also a manipulation to put the numbers of the officers corps of the Russian Empire at 150,000. That was the number of officers in the active Army, whereas the numbers given as serving the Bolsheviks included all officers, regardless of where they were in 1918 – in the rear, in hospital, etc. According to Volkov’s calculations, the size of the Russian officer corps was 276,000 at the end of 1917. Consequently, less than a quarter of all Russian officers ended up serving the Reds.

For comparison, there were 170,000 officers who took part in the White movement, of whom 55,000 died in the Civil War, and a similar number of whom ended up in the emigration.

So you still want to talk about how the cooks and bandits deceived and defeated the wonderful, blue-blooded Russian nobles, who didn’t at all renege on their oaths to the Emperor?” asks Prilepin.

The quality of the officers who went to the Bolsheviks should be discussed separately.

The Russian Army command could be separated into two main groups by 1917.

The first group were the cadre officers of the Imperial Army, like Roschin in The Road to Calvary by Alexey Tolstoy. This category was seriously depleted by the war, especially in its early stages, which predetermined the discipline crisis in the Imperial Army.

The second group constituted officers produced by the exingencies of wartime, such as the poet Nikolay Gumilev and Alexander Blok, Telegin from the aforementioned Road to Calvary, the notorious ensign Nikolay Krylenko, etc. These people were, essentially, ordinary intellectuals in epaulettes, neither from military families nor possessing serious military training.

General Gurko spoke with distain about the “clerks and bathhouse attendants” turned officers. A significant part of them, ensigns, didn’t differ much from ordinary soldiers, and from the civilians, whose ranks they had recently withdrawn from. The vast majority of Red officers came from this group, while cadre officers constituted no more than 6% of the command.

Wikipedia currently lists 385 Tsarist generals who served in the Red Army. For comparison, there were close to 4,000 generals in the Imperial Russian Army in 1916, and even more by the end of 1917. No more than 10% of the generals went on to serve in the Red Army.

There were practically no top-level commanders from the First World War; for the most part they were either staff generals (Mikhnevich, Manikovsky, Zayonchkovsky), or dashing colonels, who got their high ranks in the war. Even more telling is that the Bolsheviks did not entrust these generals with indepenent command, instead using them more as as specialist consultants, and surrounding them with commissars. One rare exception was major-general Vladimir Olderogge, who finished off Kolchak’s army in Siberia in 1919.

However, the ultimate fate of most of the Tsarist generals and officers who went to serve the Bolsheviks is even more germane.

They were destroyed in 1931 in the Vesna case, fabricated by the OGPU. A total of 3,000 people were arrested, and many of them – including the aforementioned Olderogge – were shot. In 1937-38, those who had hitherto received only prison sentences were also shot: The great military theorist Svechin, generals Sytin, Verkhovsky, Morozov…

Consequently, we come to the following conclusion: Either the Soviets inducted enemies into the Red Army, who served it insincerely; or the Bolsheviks deliberately destroyed the officers and generals who believed them and chose to serve them out of their love for the Motherland.

6. “The Civil War was unleashed by the Whites…

The first event of the Civil War in Russia was the Bolshevik coup in Petrograd and Moscow that included such acts as the shelling of the Kremlin – that is, an usurpation of power.

Apparently, the author assumes that all citizens of the former Russian Empire had to accept the usurpation simply because some Congress of the Soviets in the capital proclaimed the transfer of power to something called the Sovnarkom.
If every usurper has the right to unconditional submission, then Major Prilepin is out of place in the Donetsk People’s Republic military. By his own logic, they are typical mutineers who failed to accept the self-proclaimed régime in Kiev and “unleashed” a war by refusing to submit to Maidan usurpers.

Fourteen (14!) foreign countries intervened in the Civil War – and, in this situation, blaming its victims on Bolshevism alone is utter hogwash.

Painting the Bolsheviks as Russia’s defenders against intervention is an old propaganda stunt.

The Entente intervention sought to contain the consequences of their largest ally’s withdrawal from the Great War, then in full swing, and the signing of a separate peace treaty by its usurper government.

Neither Britain nor France nor the US sought to annex a part of Russian territory or overthrow the Bolsheviks by military force (however successful those attempts could have been), and lent a very scanty aid to the anti-Bolshevik resistance while being very assertive in demanding gold in exchange for said aid.

In Spring 1919, the Entente decided to completely cease all military intervention in the Russian Civil War. None of the different “interventions” ever posed any credible threat to the Bolshevik régime.

7. “The first pieces of legislation adopted by the Bolsheviks after their rise to power had nothing repressive in their nature. The Bolsheviks came as unprecedented idealists, liberators of the people, and democrats in the best sense of the word”.

On October 27th (November 9th New Style), the Soviets promulgated the Decree of the Press, its fourth decree up to that date.

It justified and introduced criteria for a repressive crackdown on all “bourgeois” press outlets by the Sovnarkom. They were three in total: calling for “a n open resistance or disobedience to the Government of Workers and Peasants” (i.e., when a legitimate government refuses to defer to usurpers); attempts at “fomenting dissent via grossly obvious perversions of fact” (i.e., any information the Bolsheviks deemed unfavorable to their cause); and calling for “acts of patently criminal or felonious nature” (i.e., given that no Penal Code existed at the moment, acts of any nature the Sovnarkom didn’t like).

Over November and December, the preaching of violence in Soviet acts intensified: confiscation of private printing presses and reserves of paper (November 17th, this and the following dates New Style); state monopoly on public notices (November 20th); demands for arrest and trial “by the revolutionary court of the people” for anyone deemed “harmful to the people’s cause” (November 18th); explicit ban on direct and intermediary negotiations with the “leaders of the counterrevolutionary insurrection” (December 8th); arrest warrant for the leadership of Constitutional Democrats branded as the “party of the enemies of the people” (December 11th).
So much for “democrats in the best sense of the word”.

8. “Faced with an impeding collapse of the Empire collapsing and separatist movements at its fringes, the Bolsheviks immediately shifted their tactics and rapidly reassembled the Empire, only permanently losing Finland and Poland, whose being a part of Russia is even now seen as irrelevant and superfluous anyway. The Bolsheviks have done nothing to merit the title of “wreckers of the Empire” – even if they called their offensive campaigns “internationalist”, their result was a traditional Russian territorial expansion.

The Bolshevik Declaration of the Rights of the Peoples of Russia, eulogized by Prilepin, explicitly allows for a “right of nations within Russia to free self-determination, including seceding and creating an independent state.

It turns out that Bolsheviks were typical hypocrites – when different nations actually tried to use the rights they were entitled to, they immediately “shifted their tactics” and turned to “territorial expansion”. Seems very familiar in the light of how the Bolsheviks treated all other human rights.

And, of course, the Bolsheviks did not expand to any territory in the end.

By the time the Civil War ended in the Russian Far East, they had lost the Baltics, Western Ukraine, and Western Belarus, ceded to Poland by the Riga peace treaty, as well as Bessarabia, annexed by Romania. Stalin took all of this back in 1939, no thanks to Bolshevism but thanks to World War II and a deal with Hitler (and none of this, save several districts transferred from Estonia and Latvia, was added to the territory of Soviet Russia proper).

The territory that got misplaced on the road to Communism included even the Uriankhai Krai (now the Tuva Republic), only reintegrated in 1944. Permanent losses included regions of Western Armenia ceded by 1921 Moscow and Kars treaties to “our friend Kemal”: Kars, many times washed by the blood of Russian soldiers, and Mount Ararat.

After recognising Finland’s independence, Lenin, in a gesture of largesse, gave up Vyborg, conquered by Peter the Great from the Swedes.
In 1940, Vyborg returned to Russia only thanks to Marshal Mannerheim. His obstinate resistance to Soviet forces caused Stalin to abandon plans for a puppet Democratic Republic of Finland led by Otto Kuusinen. Instead of signing a treaty with the puppet state, voluntarily ceding a good half of Karelia and drawing the border south of Vyborg, the Soviet Union was forced to sign a full-fledged peace treaty with harsh conditions.

The Soviets did exactly zilch in terms of expanding Russian territory until the very capture of Lvov during Stalin’s “liberation campaign” against Poland. However, Lvov would have become a part of the Russian Empire anyway had the Tsar not been deposed. Under Stalin, Lvov became a poisoned gift that contaminated the Ukraine with the most radical strain of nationalism.

9. “Point one: there’s no Tsar. Point two: there are only White generals who are mostly okay with divvying up the country. And there are Bolsheviks who are against this divvying up.

Eulogizing about Leninist national and territorial policy is a particularly arduous affair for Prilepin. He resorts to parroting the Liberal thesis of “all empires are bound to collapse” and appealing to a treaty between Britain and France regarding the “partition of zones of influence in Russia”.

Let’s start with an outright hoax. The Whites were fighting for a united and indivisible Russia. This was the chief slogan and the main goal of the White movement. Gens. Kolchak, Denikin, and Wrangel alike were adamantly against recognizing any separatist statelets that had sprung up in the territory of the Russian Empire.

As has been said, treating a British-French agreement signed on December 23rd 1917 and establishing zones of responsibility of Entente powers in the South of Russia, with the Great War still ongoing, as a “partition of Russia between Britain and France”, is entirely baseless.

The author may fulminate against the idea of Bolshevism as the culprit that had planted the bomb under Russian territorial unity as much as he wishes to. But nothing can be done to disprove the fact that the Bolsheviks established a “Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic” in 1925, rechristened the Kazakh Republic in 1925, its capital until that year having been Orenburg. Such was the revenge of the Bolsheviks against the Orenburg Cossack Host for their resistance. That Russian city having been transferred away from Kazakhstan and back to Russia is nothing short of a miracle. Many other parts of Southern Siberia were much less lucky.

The Soviets, everywhere they could reach, created republics with a right to autonomy and secession, created “titular ethnicities” [2], granted them development funds, constructed their histories and gave them Latin-based writing systems (something reattempted by Nursultan Nazarbayev with much fanfare). [3] Terry Martin’s study The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939 is a terrific analysis of this process.

Mykhailo Hrushevsky, the founding father of Ukrainian separatism, came to enact in his capacity as President of the Ukrainian Soviet Academy of Sciences more than he ever could dream of as President of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, – turning millions of Little Russian peasants into “Ukrainians”.

Ukrainization was a central policy of the Soviets in 1920s – 1930s and never ceased completely in later eras. Indeed, Stalin did dampen those processes somewhat (even though he upgraded Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Karelia-Finland from autonomies to full-fledged Soviet republics, the latter fortunately abolished by Khrushchev), but they never stopped for the entirety of the Soviet régime.

Finally, the artificial borders chartered by Communists exploded in 1991 thanks to Liberals.

Who is to blame for falling to the ground – the one who laboriously sawed the chair’s legs or the one who carelessly parked his rear end on its seat?

10. “They say Patriarch Tikhon anathematized the Bolsheviks, and that’s why one cannot support them. But neither did he bless or endorse the White movement.

The Patriarch did not anathematize the Bolsheviks, only those who enacted cruel persecutions against the Church and Orthodox Christians, those who murdered priests, robbed churches, stripped decorations from icons, desecrated holy vessels, and so on.

However, he did censure Bolsheviks proper in his epistle dated October 13th (26th) 1918, and his words are a dreadful argument against Prilepin himself:

Our great Motherland is conquered, diminished, and dismembered, and, as a tribute imposed upon her, you secretly send to Germany the gold that doesn’t belong to you.

No one feels safe anymore. Everyone lives in constant fear of searches, robbery, eviction, arrest, and execution. Innocents are taken by the hundred, tortured in prisons for months, often put to death with no trial or jury, even an expedited trial that you introduced.

The executions affect not only those guilty before you in some way but even those who are patently blameless but taken as “hostages”. Those unfortunates are murdered as a revenge for crimes enacted by people who not only don’t have opinions similar to theirs but also support you or have convictions comparable to yours.

First, under the name of “bourgeoisie”, you robbed well-to-do people; then, under the name of “kulaks”, you turned to robbing richer and more diligent peasants, thus multiplying poverty, even though you must realize that, by ruining a great multitude of individual citizens, you destroy public wealth and lead the entire country to destitution.

In this context, it seems that the point of whether the Patriarch, taken hostage by the Bolsheviks and subject to constant mortal danger, supported the Whites or not is moot.

11. “The Bolsheviks nationalized the industries, harming the interests of large-scale capitalists by siding with those of the laborers. The class most interested in the Civil War were, metaphorically speaking, the Russian Forbes 500…

The identity of the laborers that the Bolsheviks sided with is rather unclear. Were they factory workers doomed to several years of devastation, famine, and non-functional plants? Or peasants, anguishing from the terror of Prodrazvyorstka and Kombeds [4] and later rising up in the Tambov rebellion [5] (and many others), suffocated with chemical weapons?

When the “exploiters” were in charge, Russian economy grew by 8% a year; it took the Soviets more than a decade to reach its 1913 levels.

Regarding the “Russian Forbes 500”: with the exception of Russia’s richest man Nikolay Vtorov, murdered in 1918 in Moscow under suspicious circumstances, the others emigrated and saw the twilight of their years in Paris or Monaco. In the 1920s, Mikhail Tereshchenko’s 127-meter yacht, the Iolanthe, was the world’s largest yacht afloat.

Meanwhile, the living standards of the proletariat liberated from the yoke of capitalists and Tsarist social legislation was graphically described by poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, the chief panegyrist of Bolshevism: “Workers sitting in the dark, munching on damp bread.”

This was all peanuts compared to what came next: a system of forced labor, the main know-how of Stalinist industrialisation. Having no means of concentrating enough capital to fulfil his 5-year plan, Comrade Stalin found an elegant solution – dumping the costs of the other industrial factor, labor itself, to near zero.

For the first time in history, the world saw a modern industrialisation based on slave labor. The Bolsheviks were successful in annihilating private capital. The state remained the sole capitalist. And it was the state, not individual businessmen, who conducted negotiations with workers, with the barrel of an NKVD pistol as its ultima ratio.

While their comrades in both Europe and America successfully campaigned for better wages and welfare and formed the system of the social state, Russian workers spent decades in slave-like conditions and deemed themselves lucky if they weren’t converted from slaves of the 5-year plan to bondsmen of the Gulag.

12. “The main victor of the Civil War was the Russian people. The Russian Revolution of November 7th 1917 is an achievement, a victory, and a tragedy of the Russian nation. It is fully responsible for it, and has every right to be proud of this momentous achievement that changed the course of world history.

I won’t contest that the Russian people emerged victorious from the Civil War. If many, all too many Russians hadn’t thrown their lot with Bolshevism, either actively or by submission, no Latvian riflemen or Chinese volunteers could have led Lenin and his gang to victory.

The Russians, however, won a victory over themselves and their kin who dared to side with honor, God’s truth, and a tormented Fatherland, the united and indivisible Russia. This victory led all who kowtowed before Bolshevism to decades of poverty, terror, slavery, and Kafkaesque everyday life. Their only daily consolation was the hope of suffering for the greater good, a Grand Project.

No one reminded those people that only recently Tsarist Russia had completed one of the most astounding projects in the history of mankind, the transcontinental Trans-Siberian railway. It was achieved with no waste or exhaustion, no payment of tens of thousand of human lives for an infrastructural breakthrough.

Every human community, including the Russians, has a basic set of values and goals. Spiritual: spreading its worldview and faith, bolstering its national character and original creativity in national culture. Material: increasing the welfare of the nation and expanding their numbers. (Geo)political: increasing its national habitat and the security of its borders.

The Russians failed to achieve any of those goals over the 20th century as a direct consequence of the Bolshevik coup.

The Russian Orthodox Church endured a most savage persecution that put it on the brink of extinction. The originality of Russian culture was forcibly erased, having just reached its fin de siècle apex. Russians were subjected to decades of horrific poverty, terror, and famine, falling into a demographic abyss of enormous proportions.

The Bolshevik period ended with a rapid contraction of Russian borders, a reduction of Russian habitat, and our people turned, even within Russia itself, into second-grade citizens.

If this passes as a victory, then our goal is not to triumph over ourselves in this fashion once again.

Translator’s Notes

[1] This entire paragraph does not appear in the Vzglyad text, but did appear in Kholmogorov’s original draft. I considered it too good not to translate and publish anyway. – AK

[2] A semi-official term for ethnic groups whose name coincided with the name of an autonomy of a full-fledged republic in both the USSR and modern Russia (even though they weren’t/aren’t necessarily the most populous ethnicity), e.g. Kazakhs in Kazakhstan, Ukrainians in the Ukraine, Bashkirs in Bashkortostan, etc. Most of the time, the “titular” ethnicity was/is given the largest leeway possible by the central Soviet/Russian government.

[3] Reference to a recent decree of the Kazakh President proclaiming the shift the Kazakh alphabet from Cyrillic- to Latin-based , to be completed by 2025.

[4] The Prodrazvyorstka was a Soviet policy of forceful grain confiscation, formally reimbursed with a nominal fee much lower than the market price, leading to mass pauperization of peasants and famine. Kombeds (Poor Peasants’ Committees) were organs of Soviet power in rural settlements, mostly charged with enacting said policy.

[5] A 1920-21 peasant insurrection in the Volga region caused by mass grain requisitions and other forms of Soviet-sanctioned abuse, leaving more than 200,000 civilians dead. Often claimed as the first documented use of chemical weapons in internal conflict.

 
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Westerners have semi-legitimate reasons to like Lenin. Hard-headed proponents of Realpolitik and plain old vanilla Russophobes might appreciate his role in crippling Russia relative to what it could have been in the 20th century (i.e. a full-spectrum challenger to the American order, instead of Upper Volta with missiles). The increasing popular strains of SJW leftism would logically subscribe to the belief that Lenin’s program of national deconstruction (decolonization), struggle against Great Russian chauvinism (white supremacy), and bourgeois parasitism (white privilege) were actually good things in and of themselves.

This shouldn’t be a problem in Russia. The first category of self-haters does exist – somebody like Garry Kasparov comes to mind – but it is electorally negligible. The second category is hardly any more relevant, at least for now. Marginal Trotskyist figures, such as Sergey Biets of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party, and various anarchist collectives, such as Pussy Riot, come to mind. There is an incipient SJW trend emerging amongst the students of the elite Moscow and SPB universities, but based on the American experience, it will be a couple of decades before it leaps into the general population. The KPRF is stronger on immigration than the ruling United Russia pattern, and the Russian Left has been no less firm in its support of the Donbass than mainstream nationalists.

And yet, Russians remain considerably more positive towards Lenin than most Westerners. An April 2017 Levada poll showed 56% positive towards Lenin, versus 22% negative. He incites positive emotions in 44% of Russians, and negative emotions in only 9% of them. Only 14% of Russians support removing Lenin statues, versus 79% opposed – even though 99% of those statues, being mass produced, have no inherent artistic or historical value. Most of the “powerful takes” against my (negative) article on Lenin came from Russians.

Egor Kholmogorov explains the apparent paradox brilliantly in his latest essay (currently in the process of being translates for this website). He points out that modern apologists for Bolshevism hardly ever cite their actual values, slogans, and programs (e.g. world communism, the unchaining of the working class, the triumph of atheism), but instead appeal to “patriotic, nationalist, conspirological, populist, and even Orthodox” frameworks, all of which were mostly or entirely antithetical to the Communist value system itself. He points out that this has a long history, stretching back to the National Bolsheviks of the 1920s, such as Ustryalov and Kluyev – who, incidentally, were both shot in the late 1930s. (I would point out that this is, of course, hardly the only example. Tens of thousands of Orthodox priests were murdered under both Lenin and Stalin. But that’s all fine, because Stalin allowed them to help crowdfund tanks in 1941. And yet this “reconciliation” between Stalinism and Christianity was the main academic focus of Russia’s current Minister of Education.)

No, there is a more basic reason why Russian patriots/vatniks are driven to engage in Red apologism.

As Kholmogorov points out, in the 1990s, it was a clique of thieves and their professional apologists – many of whom were themselves the literal descendants of nomenklatura bigwigs and NKVD executioners – who took the lead in claiming they had “freed” Russians from Lenin, Communists, and the revolutionary heritage. But since those very same people had also “freed” Russians from their economic and territorial birthrights through criminal privatizations and the Belavezha Accords, all cynically done under the banner of “anticommunism,” a redstalgic counter-reaction was inevitable.

This counter-reaction was merely most visible in the case of Stalin, the best about whom can be said is that he stopped the hysteria around Great Russian chauvinism, while stamping down hard on those non-Russian nationalisms that had gotten too carried with the leeway afforded them in the 1920s (while ironically also moving away from progressive economics: Wage inequality in the USSR peaked under the late Stalin, and fees for the last two years of school were reintroduced in 1940).

Consequently, Stalin was far more palatable as a figurehead of the “resistance” – the name of one of the biggest “patriotic” publishers of authors like Maxim Kalashnikov and Andrey Parshev is literally “The Russian Resistance” (Russkoe Soprotivlenie) – than the internationalist and overtly Russophobic Lenin. Consequently, while the share of Russians claiming Lenin was one of the “greatest persons of all times and places” plummeted from 72% in 1989 to a still cringeworthy 32% by 2017, Stalin’s rating rose from 12% in 1989 to 35% by 1999 – that is, before Putin even came to power – and has stayed at around that level ever since. This was also enabled by the liberal elites directing their most concentrated venom against Stalin, up to and including making up new crimes, as if Stalin’s real record wasn’t sordid enough.

Politically, the liberal-oligarchic faction (The Family/Putin) basically co-opted the redstalgic one (“patriots”/Primakov and the KPRF) in 1999-2000, and the two have been living in an uneasy but surprisingly stable union ever since.

Socially, this resulted in the coalescence of two tribes in Russia, which – borrowing from Scott Alexander – I will call the Blue Tribe and the Red Tribe.

(Reminder that Communism ≈ conservatism in Russia, so the analogy is even more relevant that it might appear at first glance).

The Blue Tribe are the 105 IQ residents of Moscow, the hipsters, the neoliberal reformers, the Echo of Moscow faction that ruled Russia in the 1990s.

The Red Tribe are the 95 IQ residents of Mukhosransk, the vatniks who work in Uralvagonzavod, the budzhetniki, the people who voted for the Communists in the 1990s and now vote for Putin.

Now here’s the thing. Russian liberals – the Blue Tribe – have succeeded in setting the terms of the debate and adoration of Lenin, Communism, the USSR, and especially Stalin is now for all intents and purposes a tribal identifier for the “patriotic” camp, the Red Tribe. In the same way that, say, subscribing to a spectrum of retarded positions (sexual hystrionics, conspicuous religiosity, flag worship, denial of global warming, Israel Firstism, and moar tax cuts for the 1%) has become a tribal identifier for the Red Tribe (or at least its boomer subfaction) in the United States.

The Blue Tribe essentially poisoned the well of the patriotic reaction. This is a very bad, very sad, state of affairs – and it’s not obvious how to get out of here.

Even though sovok worship might be good for triggering Blue Tribe snowflakes – the Russian equivalent of LIBERAL TEARS – it is bad for Russia’s image abroad (excepting, perhaps, in Venezuela and North Korea), it repels intelligent Russians and inducts them into the ranks of the Blue Tribe, so long as it is the only alternative on offer. As Kholmogorov points out, the “canonization of Bolshevism, Leninism, and Stalinism” is not a friend, but an enemy, of Russia’s own future.

The good thing is that the foundations of this narrative are creaky, and can only be sustained by yawning logical fallacies. Here are some typical ones:

russia-empire-stuck-in-time

If not for Lenin/Stalin, time would have literally frozen still and Russia would have remained a Third World cesspool for the rest of the century (variation: Stalin took us from the plow to the atomic bomb). An argument which only someone devoid of any knowledge of economic history or even elementary logic can take seriously. Or a rabid Russophobe who believes that the only way Russians can achieve anything is if they’re prodded to it by a mustachiod Georgian BDSM master.

The Western club only lets its own become wealthy. Japan, South Korea, The Republic of China, the People’s Republic of China (once it started taking the “people’s” part less seriously, that is), Singapore, must all be figments of our collective imagination.

Russia would not have won WW2 against Nazi Germany. Of course it wouldn’t have won (or lost) a war that would have no longer existed.

lenin-was-right

The Tsar/bourgeoisie/aristocracy was oppressing the peasants/serfs (though the serfs were reactionary scum who deserved it anyway). So… the Tsar was good, then? Or bad? I don’t even know.

Lenin offered the people land, bread, peace. I suppose he did, by the standards of the Ministry of Truth:

Civil War is Peace
Prodrazvyorstka is Bread
Collectivization is Land

Okay, here’s another one: “What he’s effectively saying is “for 70 years multiple generations of Soviet people have followed the legacy a traitor, parasite, failure”. All those generations of people were that stupid, apparently. And probably still are. Only A.Karlin is smart. Yeah, right.

Yes, that sort of does hit closer to the truth.

Which is why letting go is hard, and provokes anger…

… as the first stage on the road to acceptance.

In the long-run, the de-sovokization of Russia is inevitable, on the basis that in a free market of ideas, the good arguments eventually tend to win out over bad ones.

This is already happening; as in the United States, where the GOP is known as the stupid party, so in Russia “based” sovoks can’t cognitively compete with the brain fund at the Blue Tribe’s disposal. Once the latter win out, and there is no good reason to think they won’t, there’ll be no more Stalin, but he’ll just be replaced by Soros, and that’s hardly an improvement.

Opinion polls indicate that it is the younger, more educated, wealthier people who are much more skeptical about Lenin. For instance, according to a FOM poll from April 2014, 52% of Russians thought Lenin was a good person, versus only 10% who thought he was bad. However, the percentage thinking he was good falls from 68% amongst the over 60s to 39% amongst the 18-30 age group; from 59% amongst non-college education to 41% amongst the college-educated (36% amongst college-educated youth); 67% amongst the pool to 43% amongst the wealth; and from 64% amongst rural dwellers 39% amongst Muscovites.

But not all hope is lost. One can posit the existence of a third tribe in Russia – let’s call it the Black Tribe – that rejects the truthisms of both the sovok Reds and the pozzed Blues and offers an alternative vision of Russia’s future.

na-korable-polden

And it is up to us, the Black Tribe, to continue patiently, systemically, humorously dismantling the myths and narratives of sovok and liberalism.txt alike before the Poz swallows us all.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Lenin, Russia, Society 
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lenin

There is a general consensus that Stalin was a sadistic tyrant. But the ghost of his predecessor remains “handshakeworthy” on the left hand side of the political spectrum. The SWPLy bobos of Seattle, who would not have been long for the Communist world, erected a statue to him in the city center. The New York Times “celebrated” the centenary of the Russian Revolution with odes to the Bolsheviks’ progressivism on the environment, sex, and race (not that Terell J. Starr with his strange ideas of how the USSR “centered the Russian slav” would appreciate it).

Westerners, at least, have a good excuse for subscribing to the self-serving Trotskyite belief that Stalin “betrayed” Lenin’s revolution – after all, the bacillus that Germany unleashed upon Russia during its moment of weakness and disarray did more than anyone else to derail De Tocqueville’s prophesy and ensure that the 20th century would be an exclusively American one.

And yet, as of the centenary of Red October, 56% of Russians – up from 40% in 2006 – maintained a positive view of the grandfather of this dismal experiment. To this day, Lenin’s pyramid-like tomb occupies the center of Moscow, the heart of Russia, as if he was a Pharaoh of old – though perhaps that is ironically appropriate, in light of his zealous drive to drag Russia into the Communist future instead depositing it in a world with the ethical norms of the 3rd millennium BC.

There is thus no better and no more urgent time to consign the “Communist fable of a Lenin supposedly gentler than Stalin” (as Stephen Kotkin put it) to its well-deserved place in the dustbin of history.

Who was Lenin?

The brother of a terrorist. In the totalitarian state that he built, which operated by blood guilt, this would have been as good as a death sentence. Fortunately for Lenin, he lived in the Russian Empire, not the USSR.

Lenin’s “administrative exile” to Siberia – a rite of passage for Russian revolutionaries – might as well have been a holiday. He brought along his mother, wife, and even hired a maid to keep house (how bourgeois). He whiled away his time in Siberia fishing, hunting, and corresponding with other revolutionaries. Needless to say, consequent Siberian vacations would not be near as fun for the 3,777,380 people convicted under the Soviet “counter-revolutionary” articles implemented under Lenin and his successors from 1921-53.

A student who never finished university, a lawyer who never plied his trade. After Siberia, he would spend most of the next seventeen years in European exile, writing articles for low-circulation journals that alternated between rehashing Marx and Engels, engaging in disputes with fellow Marxists who were famous in narrow circles, and penning bromides against “reactionary” Russia from the comfort of London and Geneva, much like latter day liberal Bolsheviks such as Garry Karparov and Ilya Ponomarev today.

Supported and inspired terrorist attacks on Russian police and state bureaucrats. Around 4,500 Tsarist officials were murdered just in 1905-1907. Bolshevik propaganda about “Bloody Nikolashka” aside, only around 6,321 people were executed for all offenses (including purely criminal ones, like murder) in the Russian Empire from 1825-1917. The Red Terror that Lenin would unleash in response to the assassination of just one Bolshevik functionary would claim two orders of magnitude more lives.

Zealotry aside, Lenin wouldn’t be Lenin without a side dish in treason.

Supported Japan in the Russo-Japanese at the 3rd Congress of the RSDRP.

From an article in January 1905:

The proletariat is hostile to the bourgeoisie and all aspects of the bourgeois order, but his hostility does not absolve him from the duty of differentiating between historically progressive and reactionary representatives of the bourgeoisie. It is entirely understandable that the more consistent and decisive representatives of international revolutionary Social Democracy, Jules Guesde in France and Hyndman in England, expressed without reservation their sympathies towards Japan, for its role in destroying Russian autocracy.

On the outbreak of World War I, Lenin happened to be in Krakow, where he was arrested by the Austro-Hungarian authorities as an “enemy alien.” Fortunately, an Austrian socialist leader was there to vouch for him, assuring them that he was no spy, but a “bitter enemy” of Russia and a proponent of Ukrainian separatism. He was dispatched to Switzerland in early September, where he would continue scribbling away.

Letter to Shlyapnikov, 1914:

For us Russians, from the point of view of the laboring masses and the working class of Russia, there can be absolutely no doubt that the lesser evil would be the defeat of Tsarism in this war. For Tsarism is 100 times worse than Kaiserism.

Article in “Social Democrat,” March 1915:

The only correct proletarian slogan is to transform the present imperialist war into a civil war. This transformation flows from all the objective conditions of the current military disaster, and only by systematically propagandising and agitating in that direction can the workers’ parties fulfil the obligations they undertook at Basle. That is the only kind of tactics that will be truly revolutionary working-class tactics, corresponding to the conditions of the new historical epoch.

Article in “Social Democrat”, November 1916:

Whatever the outcome of this war, it is those who say that the only possible socialist way out of it is through a civil war of the proletariat for socialism, who will be proven right. It is those Russian Social Democrats, who said that the defeat of Tsarism and its complete military destruction is the lesser evil.

Letter to Suvarin, December 1916:

Our party has rejected Tolstoy’s teachings, and pacifism, by proclaiming that socialists must work to turn the current war into a civil war of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie.

But he was growing despondent: In January 1917, he told a socialist gathering that “we old-timers may not live to see the decisive battles of the coming revolution.”

Fortunately for Lenin, he got a big break with the February Revolution, the elite led coup against the Tsarist regime. Soon after, the Germans arranged for him, along with other Bolshevik activists, to be transported to Russia in a “sealed train” (actually sealed in propaganda only; in practice, there were plenty of stop-overs). It is worth noting that the guy who arranged this, the German Communist Fritz Platten, also tried to enlist Socialist Revolutionary exiles for the purpose of destabilizing Russian. To their credit, none of them accepted, not wishing to be associated with Lenin’s overt treason.

Once he was in Russia, Lenin began to implement his program of “revolutionary defeatism.” First proposed at the Zimmerwald Peace Conference in 1915, publication of the doctrine was squashed by the German Foreign Office, on the fear that its contents would let the Okhrana justify mass arrests of Russian socialists. This didn’t sway Lenin from repeating it in his April Theses, whose slogan “down with the war” and call for the abolition of the Russian Army was so radical than even the Bolsheviks’ newspaper, Pravda, initially refused to print it.

All this was sustained in large part thanks to German money. In 1917, a grand total of around 50 million gold marks were transferred to Lenin’s party in Petrograd (this translates to an amzing $1 billion in today’s currency). This helped fund the Bolshevik printing presses, and there are numerous accounts of money being handed out for protests against the Provisional Government throughout 1917 (all standard features of modern color revolutions). This was all done with the firm knowledge that the Bolsheviks served the interests of Germany. Parvus, aka Israel Gelfand, said in a meeting with the German ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in 1915, “The interests of the German Imperial Government are identical with those of the Russian revolutionaries.” The second key intermediary, Alexander Kesküla, was a one-time socialist who had become a hardcore Estonian nationalist; his motivations for working with Germany were, in his words, simple: “Hatred of Russia.”

To Lenin belongs the dubious honor of carrying out the world’s first color revolution, and its color was red.

map-russia-constituent-assembly-election-1917

Source: @welections
Russian Constituent Assembly election, 1917: Brown = Social Revolutionaries; Red = Bolsheviks; Green = Regional SR’s; Yellow = Local parties.

Rejected the results of the last democratic election in Russian history until 1990 because he didn’t like that the Bolsheviks only won 24.5% of the vote.

Any direct or indirect attempt to consider the Constituent Assembly from a formally legalistic point of view, from within the framework of bourgeois democracy, without taking into account the class struggle or civil war, is treason against the proletariat and a defection to the worldview of the bourgeoisie. It is the duty of revolutionary Social Democracy to warn everybody against this error, which a considerable number of Bolshevik leaders are prone to, apparently unable to properly assess the October Revolution and the tasks before the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Even Rosa Luxemburg, criticizing Lenin for his ultra-liberal attitudes towards small nationalisms, pointed out the irony:

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. While they did not permit themselves to be imposed upon in the slightest by the plebiscite for the Constituent Assembly in Russia, a plebiscite on the basis of the most democratic suffrage in the world, carried out in the full freedom of a popular republic, and while they simply declared this plebiscite null and void on the basis of a very sober evaluation of its results, still they championed the “popular vote” of the foreign nationalities of Russia on the question of which land they wanted to belong to, as the true palladium of all freedom and democracy, the unadulterated quintessence of the will of the peoples and as the court of last resort in questions of the political fate of nations.

In other words, a German Communist revolutionary, in practice, cared more for Russia’s territorial integrity and the democratic viewpoints of the Russian people than the man whose statues still dot the expanses of the Russian Federation.

In effect capitulated to Germany at Brest-Litovsk, ceded massive territories without military need, and betrayed Russia’s war allies.

map-russia-plans-ww1

What could have been: Map of the “Future Europe” (not like Wilhelm II would have liked it!)

As Winston Churchill wrote in his book The World Crisis (1916-1918):

Surely to no nation has Fate been more malignant than to Russia. Her ship went down in sight of port. She had actually weathered the storm when all was cast away. Every sacrifice had been made; the toil was achieved. Despair and Treachery usurped command at the very moment when the task was done.

Talk of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

In December 1917, set up the Cheka. At the outset, they were predominantly staffed by non-Russians – mostly Latvians – headed by the Pole Felix Dzerzhinsky.

Anecdote about Dzerzhinsky: Before the war, he managed to get beaten up by Polish factory workers, whom he had tried to agitate against the Tsar. There must be some kind of achievement trophy for that level of fail.

But the Cheka was another matter, and no laughing matter.

In August 1918, the Cheka’s Petrograd head Moisei Uritsky was assassinated. The killer, incidentally, was one of history’s forgotten heroes, Leonid Kannegisser, who explained his motives thus:

I am a Jew. I killed a Jewish vampire, who drank Russian blood. I wanted to show the Russian people that to Uritsky wasn’t a Jew to us. He was a renegade. I killed him in the hopes of redeeming the good name of Russian Jews.

One successful assassination and one attempted assasination against Lenin was enough to kickstart the Red Terror.

The famous August 11, 1918 cable to the Communists in Penza:

Comrades! The insurrection of five kulak districts should be pitilessly suppressed. The interests of the whole revolution require this because ‘the last decisive battle’ with the kulaks is now under way everywhere. An example must be demonstrated.

  1. Hang (and make sure that the hanging takes place in full view of the people) no fewer than one hundred known landlords, rich men, bloodsuckers.
  2. Publish their names.
  3. Seize all their grain from them.
  4. Designate hostages in accordance with yesterday’s telegram.

Do it in such a fashion that for hundreds of kilometres around the people might see, tremble, know, shout: “they are strangling, and will strangle to death, the bloodsucking kulaks”.

Telegraph receipt and implementation.

Yours, Lenin.

Find some truly hard people

Whereas previously, mass shootings had numbered in the dozens at most, they would now climb into the thousands, once Sovnarkom authorized mass terror on September 5th. The repressions would now directly affect even other leftist groups. Local Soviets were to arrest all Social Revolutionaries, take hostages from the families of Tsarist officers, and summarily execute anyone suspected of involvement in White Guard activities.

Though statistics are much harder to come by than in the better documented Stalinist period, it is plausible that around one million Russians were killed in the Red Terror – two orders of magnitude more than what the Russian Empire was responsible in the preceeding century, and entirely comparable to the victims of Stalinism.

With zero economic education outside regurgitating Marx and Engels, Lenin implemented war communism.

Within a year, an Empire with one of the world’s highest economic growth rates became a desert, where those who could, fled, and those who could not, died of hunger and typhus. Even amidst the instability of two revolutions, industrial production had remained at 80% during 1917 relative to 1913 figures; it plummeted to around 10% by 1920, as the Bolsheviks confiscated everything from banks and factories to ordinary people’s windmills, workshops, apartments, and private savings. You have a complaint? Justice system now consists of black-leather jacketed thugs that operate on hostage taking and mass shootings. Good luck suing them.

Despite not performing a single day’s worth of “productive” work in his life, Lenin loved to call all sorts of people parasites. For instance, those well-known exploiters, peasants.

From a speech in November 1919:

Peasants do not all understand that free trade in bread is a state crime. “I made bread, this is my product, and I have the right to trade with them,” the peasant argues, out of antiquated habit. But we say that this is a state crime. Free trade in grain means enrichment thanks to this bread – this is a return to old capitalism, we will not allow this, we will fight this at any price.

The death toll of war communism: 5-10 million deaths, a number that is once again entirely comparable to the Stalinist famines of the early 1930s (5-7 million) and 1946-47 (1 million), and again, an order of magnitude worse than the worst famine of the Russian Empire in 1891-92 (500,000 victims).

The ruthless grain requisitions (prodrazvyorstka) provoked the Tambov uprising, which the Bolsheviks crushed with the use of poison gas and concentration camps. Upwards of 200,000 deaths.

Finally, it would be amiss to speak of Lenin’s legacy without mentioning his attitude towards Russia and Russians in the widest sense of the word.

Although formally Russian, Lenin was in reality the métis par excellence: Around 1/4 German-Swedish, 1/4 Jewish, 1/4 Russian, and 1/4 token ethnic minority (Kalmyk).

Come to think of it – remarkably representative of 20th century Communism.

In that respect, it is perhaps of little surprise that the state he founded was based on a rather pecular mixture of socialist and nationalist principles.

From On the Question of the Nationalities, 1922:

Therefore internationalism on the part of the oppressing or so-called “great” nation (although it is great only in violence, great only as a gendarme is) must consist not only in observing formal equality of nations but also in such inequality as would be compensation by the oppressing nation, the big nation, for that inequality which actually takes shape in life. …

In these circumstances it is very natural that the “freedom to leave the union,” with which we justify ourselves, will prove to be just a piece of paper incapable of protecting people of other nationalities from the incursion of that the true Russian, the Great Russian, the chauvinist, in essence, the scoundrel and despoiler which the typical Russian bureaucrat is. There can be no doubt that the insignificant percentage of Soviet and Sovietized workers will drown in this sea of chauvinistic, Great Russian riffraff like a fly in milk.

The result: An Affirmative Action Empire, as Terry Martin styled it:

A third and final premise asserted that non-Russian nationalism was primarily a response to Tsarist oppression and was motivated by a historically justifiable distrust (nedoverie) of the Great Russians. This argument was pressed most forcefully by Lenin, who already in 1914 had attacked Rosa Luxemburg’s denial of the right of self-determination as “objectively aiding the Black Hundred Great Russians… Absorbed by the fight with nationalism in Poland, Rosa Luxemburg forgot about the nationalism of the Great Russians, though it is exactly this nationalism that is the most dangerous of all.” The nationalism of the oppressed, Lenin maintained, had a “democratic content” that must be supported, whereas the nationalism of the oppressor had no redeeming value. He ended with the slogan “Fight against all nationalisms and, first of all, against Great Russian nationalism.”

What polemicists against the Stalinist USSR’s destruction of national intellentsias in the Ukraine or the Baltics leave out is that the Bolsheviks started out with Russia’s.

Just one example: There was a Kiev Club of Russian Nationalists operating from 1908, a tea club of conservative intellectuals who promoted the theory of the triune Russian nation, which saw Malorossiyans (Ukrainians) as one branch of the Russian people. It is conceivable that in a surviving Russian Empire or Republic, these intellectuals would have helped foster the growth of a Malorossiyan identity subsumed to an overarching Russian one, as in Bavaria with respect to Germany, or even subsumed them entirely, as with the Occitans with respect to France. A fascinating what if. But this was not to be. The Bolsheviks got a list of their members on capturing Kiev in January 1919, and all 68 of their members were rounded up and shot.

odessa-ukrainization

The 1920s were to be a period of aggressive Ukranization, which Stalin cemented with the Holodomor.

Needless to say, Bolshevik reprisals against the Russian intelligentsia were not aimed exclusively at its overtly nationalist elements.

At the very top, there was, of course, the execution of the Romanov family (the French revolutionaries, at least, had the decency to spare Louis XVI’s children, and the last Chinese Emperor lived out his twilight days as an ordinary citizen of Maoist China).

The cream of Russia’s intellectual elites left the country. There would be no Sikorsky Airlines, no Zworykin TVs, no Dobzhansky Institutes. Just the “philosopher’s ship” carried away names like Sergey Bulgakov, Nikolay Berdyaev, and Ivan Ilyin.

A large percentage of those who stayed out of patriotic considerations would be killed by Stalin in the late 1930s, or forced to work as cognitive slaves in sharashkas.

Those who left, a “White emigration” numbering 2-3 millions, would instead enrich other countries.

russian-success-usa

In the early 1970s, Russian-Americans had the highest median family income, highest % of college graduates (26% vs. 12% US average), highest percentage of white-collar workers relative to all other European ethnic groups in the United States.

There was an aggressive campaign against Orthodox priests, who were conflated with nationalists.

Lenin in a March 1922 letter to the Politburo:

I come to the conclusion that we must precisely now smash the Black Hundreds clergy most decisively and ruthlessly and put down all resistance with such brutality that they will not forget it for several decades.

Lenin had an exceedingly poor opinion of the great classics of the Russian Silver Age. His learned thoughts on Tolstoy and Dostoevsky:

On this topic, Lenin’s judgments were made confidentaly, said directly and sharply, without equivocation. Lev Tolstoy: On the one hand: “A mirror of the Russian revolution,” a “spirited man” who “unmasked everyone and everything,” but on the other hand, he was also a “worn-out, hysterical slave to power,” preaching non-resistance to evil. Fedor Dostoevsky: “Vomit-inducing moralization,” “penitent hysteria” (on Crime and Punishment), an “odorous work” (on The Brothers Karamazov and Demons), “clearly reactionary filth… I read it and threw it at the wall” (on Demons).

Even the Cyrillic alphabet was an expression of Great Russian privilege. As Lenin told Anatoly Lunacharsky, the Soviet Minister of Education: “I am under no doubt that there will come a time when the Russian alphabet is Latinized… when we gather enough energy for this, all of this will be trivially easy.” This moment seemed to arrive in 1929, when a commission on the matter officially proclaimed that “the imminent transition of Russian to a single international alphabet is inevitable.”

Their arguments are too “powerful” not to cite in full:

The Russian civil alphabet is a relic of the class structure of the 18th-19th century of the Russian feudal landowerners and bourgeoisie – the structures of autocratic oppression, missionary propaganda, Great Russian chauvinism, coercive Russification, and the expansion of Russian Tsarism abroad… To this day it ties the Russian-reading population with the national-bourgeois traditions of Russian pre-revolutionary culture.

In the hands of the Soviet proletariat, a unified Latin alphabet will serve as a means of propagating the cultural revolution in the Soviet East on the basis of the socialist reconstruction of the national economy. This is why it will constitute the alphabet of the proletarian revolution in the Soviet East and a weapon of class war here, on the front of the cultural revolution. See the words of Lenin: “Latinization is the great revolution of the East).

Transition to the Latin alphabet will free the laboring masses of the Russian people from the influence of bourgeois-nationalist and religious pre-revolutionary texts. Of course, artistically and scientifically valuable literature from that period should be republished in the new alphabet.

It was none other than Stalin, who had been criticized as a Great Russian chauvinist by Lenin – and I suppose he was, at least by Lenin’s standards, if not by any other one – who put an abrupt stop to this project: “Tell [them] to stop work on the Latinization of the Russian alphabet.”

Incidentally, at this point you might be getting an inkling of the real reason why Western intellectuals like Lenin a lot more than Stalin.

It is also worth emphasizing that Lenin’s famous Testament on Stalin’s unfitness for office, contrary to its presentation as a premonition of Stalin’s capacity for tyranny – hardly a matter of concern to either man – actually arose as a result of a dispute between the two men on the nationalities policy.

Once again citing Affirmative Action Empire:

His anger climaxed during the notorious Georgian affair of 1922, when he denounced Dzerzhinskii, Stalin, and Ordzhonikidze as Great Russian chauvinists (russified natives, he maintained, were often the worst chauvinists). Such Bolshevik chauvinism inspired Lenin to coin the term rusotiapstvo (mindless Russian chauvinism), which then entered the Bolshevik lexicon and became an invaluable weapon in the rhetorical arsenals of the national republics. …

Lenin’s extreme formulation of this principle led to one of his two differences of opinion with Stalin over nationalities policy in late 1922. Stalin had supported the greatest-danger principle before 1922-1923, reiterated his support in 1923, and from April 1923 to December 1932 supervised a nationalities policy based on that principle. Nevertheless, Stalin was uncomfortable with the insistence that all local nationalism could be explained as a response to great-power chauvinism. Based on his experience in Georgia, Stalin insisted that Georgian nationalism was also characterized by great-power exploitation of their Ossetine and Abkhaz minorities. Stalin therefore always paired his attacks on Great Russian chauvinism with a complementary attack on the lesser danger of local nationalism. … Despite these differences in emphasis, Stalin consistently supported the greatest-danger principle.

Ultimately, it was Lenin’s nationality policy that more than anything else doomed his creation.

Once the socialist system – what Lenin and Co. saw as revealed truth – ran into terminal epistemic and economic failure, the Soviet carapace fell away, revealing the petty nationalisms they had nurtured all that while, and, married to the unleashed appetites of the nomenklatura, the resultant centrifugal forces blew the whole artificial contraption apart. And (Great) Russian (chauvinists), the only ethnicity without a place of their own in the Soviet communal apartment (in Yuri Slezkine’s metaphor), had no good incentives to try to keep it together.

As Vladimir Putin himself remarked in 2016:

It is right to steer the stream of thought, only we need this thought to lead to the right results, unlike in the case of Vladimir Ilyich. Because, eventually, this thought led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, that’s what it led to. There were many such thoughts: autonomation, and so on. They planted an atomic bomb underneath the building called Russia, later it blew up. Nor did we need the global revolution either. There was this thought there, too

This brings me to the final point I wish to make about Lenin: The state he built as a failure.

By extension, Lenin was not just a sadist, a Russophobe, and a tyrant.

He was also a failure.

The slogan “Land, Bread, Peace” turned into a lie as soon as it was implemented. In the end, Russia got two much bloodier wars, the Civil War and World War II, for the price of one – the one that it had as good as won by 1917, with Austria-Hungary and Turkey as good as knocked out the war. Nor was there much bread. The Civil War resulted in a famine ten times worse than than anything seen in the ancien regime, and the populations of Petrograd and Moscow declined by around 70% and 50%, respectively, as civilization went into literal reverse. And what had been an increasingly prosperous peasantry thanks to Stolypin’s reforms and the construction of a mass schooling system in the last two decades of the Empire was soon deprived of both its lands and rights under collectivization; Soviet peasants only gained the right to a passport in 1974.

The world that Lenin and his successors built was a world based on lies; lies with aggressive, impudent, and often deadly pretensions to truth, as lampooned from Koestler to Kundera.

This was a world where the fictive dictatorship of the proletariat was almost immediately replaced by an all too real dictatorship of the nomenklatura based on renewed class privileges, judicial “telephone law,” no division of powers, and but a lame parody of an electoral process.

There would be no world revolution. Apart from military conquest in Eastern Europe, and China setting off down its own demented Maoist experiment, the only other Communist takeovers would only happen in irrelevant parts of the Third World, which would quickly fall apart though not before consuming dollops of Soviet foreign aid, which it generously parcelled out even as it gained the dubious distinction of being the first industrialized country to see a sustained rise in infant mortality during peacetime. The last surviving relicts of that world, Cuba and North Korea, stand as testaments to total failure.

communism-failure

Even a robot realizes this.

A world that by the 1970s was a vast expanse of unproductive rustbelts, unable to compete with the capitalist world and kept afloat by an oil windfall that would peter out by the late 1980s.

A world whose own citizens abandoned it for the promise of a pair of jeans, and whose own masters ended up selling it for real estate in Monaco and Miami.

This is the world that Lenin built and which collapsed during the 1990s.

“The intelligentsia is not the brains of the nation, but its shit.” It’s as if he was talking about himself.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Bolshevik Revolution, Communism, Lenin, Soviet Union 
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So the leader of Russia’s Communist Party (KPRF) Zyuganov and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov have gotten into a bit of a spat over whether or not Lenin should be buried.

Zyuganov thinks calls to bury Lenin are “idle chatter,” and apparently believes that the Great Revolution “ended in a practically bloodless manner.”

Kadyrov begged to differ on his Telegram, citing opinion polls from Levada and Superjob that showed 60% and 80%, respectively, of Russians supporting such a step.

He also further pointed out: “So the murder of the Tsar’s family, the Civil War, repressions, hunger – this was all nothing according to the “historian” Zyuganov? The leader of the KPRF lives in hiw own imagined world. How many more generations must Lenin’s body lie on Red Square for Zyuganov to calm down?

At the end, he suggested Zyuganov apologize to the people whose opinions he had dismissed as “idle chatter,” as well as to the victims of the Revolution and of the ensuing Soviet period.

Normally, I’d consider a spat between commies and Kadyrov to be a viper vs. toad contest (i.e. would hope they swallow each other). Nor do I care much for this retarded culture war, which pops up with depressing regularity every year.

Still, in this particular case, most normal, non-Communist (but I repeat myself) people would sympathize with Kadyrov, who made his argument civilly, and cited statistics in support of it. This is coming from a man who otherwise spends his time running a parallel Islamist foreign policy and calling for a Homocaust (and implementing one, if rumors are to be believed).

There must be some kind of achievement trophy for this.

But things get even better.

Earlier today, the KPRF official account posted this message on Twitter, implicitly attacking Kadyrov (a no-no in Russian politics):

enemies-of-russia

In light of the many provocations, it worth noting: An attack on Lenin and Zyuganov is either a sign of mental retardation, or of diversionary work against Russia.

Impressive. Have the commies finally grown a spine?

Six hours later:

unpersoned-tweet

Guess not – they unpersonned their own Tweet. Though I suppose this is oddly appropriate for the 100th anniversary of Red October.

So, not just stupid, morally degraded liars… but cowards to boot. In other words – sovoks.

EDIT: Hard to imagine how this could get even better, but it just did.

kprf-cowards

There are more and more provocations against Lenin and Zyuganov. Many experts believe this to be either a sign of mental retardation, or of diversionary work against Russia.

I must have missed it when Kadyrov became a liberal in the past 24 hours.

Alternatively, being too cowardly to insult Kadyrov, commie “experts” blame it on teh liberals instead.

 
• Category: Humor • Tags: Chechnya, Communism, Russia 
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powerful-take

It will be the centenary of the October Revolution in a couple of days – the original color revolution that finished off a great and rapidly modernizing empire and handed power to a gang of Russia-hating criminals.

To mark the occasion, the next two weeks I will be documenting the dismal failure of sovok across almost virtually all spheres of life. Obligatory trigger warning for commies.

Featured

* gwern’s October 2017 newsletter

* Not only a good intro to Bitcoin per se, but an original (so far as I know) way of thinking about it: https://blog.chain.com/a-letter-to-jamie-dimon-de89d417cb80

There’s a TL;DR version at the end.

map-becker-world-iq

* James Thompson: The World’s IQ = 86: Test results of 550,492 individuals in 123 countries

Link to David Becker’s database: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B3c4TxciNeJZWUx5bzBWZ1BuMUk

The discussion is also worth reading.

* Heiner Rindermann has what appears to be a rather interesting book coming out on January 1, 2018: Cognitive Capitalism: Human Capital and the Wellbeing of Nations

poll-military-government* PEW: Globally, Broad Support for Representative and Direct Democracy (PDF)

Many interesting tidbits there but one table I liked is support for military government by left/right.

Mostly as you’d expect (right more supportive), with the understandable exception of Venezuela – and the less understandable exception of Hungary (unless you read hbd*chick).

* Emil Kirkegaard: About that blog: Italian IQs, Lynn IQs, brain size and doctors

* /r/gorgich: Cultural macroregions of Russia

* Daniel Treisman – 2017 – Democracy by mistake

How does democracy emerge from authoritarian rule?… In about two thirds, democratization occurred not because incumbent elites chose it but because, in trying to prevent it, they made mistakes that weakened their hold on power. Common mistakes include: calling elections or starting military conflicts, only to lose them; ignoring popular unrest and being overthrown; initiating limited reforms that get out of hand; and selecting a covert democrat as leader. These mistakes reflect well-known cognitive biases such as overconfidence and the illusion of control.

Leonid Bershidsky writes about it.

* 39% of French citizens spoke Occitan in 1860.

* A beautiful @WrathOfGnon thread about the superiority of medieval urbanism:

Russia

* Lucy Komisar: The Man Behind the Magnitsky Act Did Bill Browder’s Tax Troubles in Russia Color Push for Sanctions?

Attack on RT

* RT: Revealed: How Twitter pushed RT to spend big on 2016 US election; Twitter’s multi-million dollar US election pitch to RT revealed in FULL

kovalev-saudi-propaganda

Even some Russian oppositioners like Alexey Kovalev think it is ridiculously selective.

* RT: NGO publishes names of 2,300+ RT guests, labels them ‘useful idiots who undermine Western democracy’

I was amused to see that Nina Khrushcheva was on there (not sure about the “useful” part, though).

Alexander Mercouris: Blackmail and the latest attack on RT

* Michael Tracey uncovers Twitter’s criteria for being a Russia troll:

We took a similarly expansive approach to defining what qualifies as a Russian-linked account. Because there is no single characteristic that reliably determines geographic origin or affiliation, we relied on a number of criteria, including whether the account was created in Russia, whether the user registered the account with a Russian phone carrier or a Russian email address, whether the user’s display name contains Cyrillic characters, whether the user frequently Tweets in Russian, and whether the user has logged in from any Russian IP address, even a single time. We considered an account to be Russian-linked if it had even one of the relevant criteria.

Beware of the Cyrillic autocracy!

Russiagate

* Alexander Mercouris: Robert Mueller should resign

In other words instead of arriving its suspicions of Russian meddling in the Presidential election on its own investigations the FBI chose to rely on the work of two private contractors – CrowdStrike and Christopher Steele – both of whom were found and paid for by the DNC, and one of whom – Christopher Steele – was then passed on by the DNC to the FBI so that he could be paid by them as well.

That makes the FBI look more like an accomplice of the Democrats and the DNC than an impartial and objective police agency.

* But perceptions are another matter.

* Some stuff comes out further proving that DNC colluded with Hillary to give her the nomination.

Real Democrats: Donna Brazile was duped by Russia. Putin is God, etc.

* Latest video from Kirill Nesterov, chief editor of ROGPR podcast.

(It’s in Russian, but mostly just consists of translations of the most “powerful” Russia takes from Anglo Twitter).

* The insanity is not contained to the Left:

putler-welcome-to-resistance

* Daily Caller: Growing Evidence That Russia Using ‘The Resistance’ To Stoke Division

Powerful Takes on Manhattan Terror Attack

Other

* Paul Robinson: Wall of Grief (Putin on Stalin)

* Patrick Armstrong: How I Became a Kremlin Troll

* Chechens organize a queue for the new iPhone in Moscow, selling the first position for R300,000 ($5,000). A few hundred Virgin Kreakls – their idea of “creativity” consisting of being the first person in their tusovka to get a new iPhone – wait in line for a several hours… only for a gang of Chechen Chads to push them aside at the last moment, snap up all the iPhones, and put them up for sale on Russia’s eBay within a few minutes.

* Daily Beast: She’s in Pussy Riot. He’s on the Far Right: How Maria Alyokhina and Dmitry Enteo Fell in Love

Still a better love story than Twilight.

* Affirmative action Kremlinologist Terell Starr: “Ukrainians and black folk share common bonds when it comes to resisting supremacy, whether it is from “white people” in the U.S. or Russia.Memetic response.

Hell

Meanwhile, in the actual Putlerreich…

* Moscow authorities want to install a monument to Islam Karimov in the city center, a Central Asian tinpot dictator who removed all of his country’s WW2 monuments.

What makes this even “better” is that the Uzbeks themselves are slowly doing away with Karimov’s legacy, with their new President inching towards liberal reform and criticizing his predecessor for abuses. So it fails even as geopolitical bootlicking.

Almost certainly pointless petition against this: https://www.change.org/p/владимир-путин-против-установки-в-москве-памятника-президенту-узбекистана-исламу-каримову

* Leader of Tatarstan implicitly threatens Putin with low vote numbers if Tatar language instruction in schools is made non-obligatory (“We made it so that all the electoral processes are done by the directors of our schools“).

The problems of relying on ethnic minority states-within-states to give you a 10% point bump in elections…

* Meanwhile, the son of a Tatar director of a military academy (who is also a member of the pseudoscience organization RAEN) was arrested in Tajikistan for joining ISIS for 2 years. Previously, after completing his PhD under his dad at said military academy (nepotism), he was made responsible for ensuring the security of military R&D communications, and had the appropriate high level security clearance for it. Said military academy to KP journalists requesting comment: “We won’t say anything, the director isn’t here, and we don’t know when he will be.”

World

conferederate-iconography

* @tcjfs: Huntington argues the Confederate monuments to “the Blue & the Gray” were built thru 1920 to foster united American national reconciliation

Seems to parallel Soviet celebration of Victory Day: First Moscow May 9 parade after 1945 was in 1965; then 1985, 1990, became yearly event in 1995.

* Guardian: Romania shrugs off label of Europe’s poor man as economy booms.

* China unveils massive island-building vessel

Remarkable cultural continuity: Great Wall on land 2,000 years ago, now a Great Wall in cyberspace and on the high seas.

alt-right-bin-laden

* So Osama bin Laden was a gamer, like all the other great men of the 20th century.

BTW, Navalny is a console peasant, while proves he is not destined for greatness.

 

racism

Culture War

* Bread Pilled: Jordan Peterson turning young, Western men into Christians Again

Only heard of the guy thanks to spandrell. Sounds like a big phenomenon.

* #ItsOkayToBeWhite is a brilliant strategy. /pol/ continues to deliver.

* Frances Lee: Why I’ve Started to Fear My Fellow Social Justice Activists

* John Derbyshire: Geezers Don’t Care! Marc Faber Defies AntiRacist Moral Panic

* Feminist prof says ‘traditional science’ is rooted in racism

* Geoffrey Miller channels Taleb: To understand the present, read good books about our biological & cultural history, & sci fi about the future. ‘News’ is a distraction.

* Melissa Meszaros: Buzzfeed’s Male Writers Revealed to have Dangerously Low Testosterone

* Porn Addicted Bomb Nazi Mutilated Himself With An Axe. Exemplary commitment to nofap.

* Eliezer Yudkowsky’s struggle:

.

 
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Richard Spencer and some other Alt Righters wanted to hold an NPI conference in Budapest on October 3-5, 2014 in honor of BASED Hungary.

It… didn’t quite work out as planned.

Richard Spencer and one other person was detained in uncomfortable conditions for a day, and summarily deported back to the US.

Three years later, thanks to a freedom of information request, we know why Hungary did this.

https://www.scribd.com/document/362633444/Hungary-Richard-Spencer-NPI-Records

The fun starts at around page 71. Apparently the BASED Hungarians viewed Richard Spencer and a non-affiliated journalist who was (apparently randomly) detained with him as a “national security threat.”

hungary-ethnically-cleanses-richard-spencer

Considering his own record, methinks Márton Gyöngyösi might just be a hypocrite.

reason-hungary-deports-spencer

Anyhow, in all fairness, the US State Department people – at least, based on the extracts presented here – seemed to be quite conscientious about working to get American citizens out of trouble. There’s nothing you can even complain about there.

Orban’s regime… well, that’s another matter. Here’s the basic gist of the matter:

Joint neoliberal/Alt Right fantasy: BASED Orban as the Horthy to Herr Putler.

Reality: These BASED regimes using the authoritarian power at their disposal to demonstratively crack down on racists, nationalists, and sundry enemies of ZOG to prove their “moderate” credentials to… ZOG.

Maybe ZOG is preferable after all? At least there tends to be more rule of law and due process there.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Alt Right, Freedom of Speech, Hungary 
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wb-doing-business-2018

The World Bank has just released its Ease of Doing Business data for 2018 (report PDF; rankings; historical data in Excel)

I wrote about why good scores on this indicator are pretty useful two years ago:

First, elites pay a lot of attention to it. Several countries – including Russia, Kazakhstan, and India – have made climbing up the Doing Business rankings a matter of national economic planning.

Second, all else equal, more economic freedom really is “better” than less economic freedom. You do not need to be some kind of neoliberal hypercapitalist to appreciate that having more layers of bureaucracy, more hops you need to jump through to start a business or enforce a contract, as benefitting anyone other than the bureaucrats who create these rules in the first place. Indeed, when adjusted for differing GDP per capita levels, there is a strong correlation between a country’s place on the Doing Business rankings and its reported incidences of bribery/corruption, presumably because the more regulations you have the more opportunities bureaucrats have to shake businesses down.

It is also highly objective. You look at the legal documents, count the number of steps and/or days required to set up a business or enforce a contract, and tally the whole thing. Necessarily more subjective assessments of the degree of corruption or the prevalence of the rule of law – important, but prone to bias – don’t enter the equation.

Well, the good news is that Russia has continued its strong trend of improvement since the start of Putin’s third term, and is now in the uppermost quintile of all the world’s economies in terms of ease of doing business.

wb-doing-business-2018-russia

This is especially impressive since the entire world has been getting far more business friendly in the past decade, as institutions such as this very index spur on even the more recalcitrant nations to adopt First World best practices (fewer pointless regulations).

Russia’s immediate neighbors now – France, The Netherlands, Japan, Czechia – are no longer cause to be ashamed, as was the case around 2010, when it instead neighbored models of bureaucratic efficiency such as India and Nigeria.

As we can see, Russia is now fully within the “range” of First World – not as business-friendly as the United States, with its age-old reputation for free-wheeling commerce, but more so than Italy, with its reputation for bureaucratic tyranny.

wb-doing-business-2018-brics

Since the mid-2010s, Russia has been doing far better better than its fellow BRICS members.

wb-doing-business-2018-eastern-europe

Russia is now also doing about as well as the average for Eastern Europe’s successful reformers – worse than free trade entrepot Estonia and libertarian nirvana Georgia, but at about the same level as Poland, Czechia, Kazakhstan, Belarus; somewhat better than Hungary, which has lagged on reform; and far better than in the Ukraine or in Uzbekistan.

Analyzing by subcomponents, only two sectors where Russia still does quite badly – worse than the global median – are in “Dealing with Construction Permits” and “Trading Across Borders,” both notoriously corrupt sectors of the Russian economy. They urgently need attention.

But otherwise, this is the sort of quiet but very real “reform” that Russia needs at the micro level, but that remarkably few of Putin’s liberal critics seem to notice.

Although Putin has formally failed to fulfill his ambitious 2012 election promise of climbing into 20th position on this ranking by 2018, an improvement from around 120th position to 35th position is still more than respectable.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Business, Russia 
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saipov-sayfullo

FOX:

The suspect in the New York attack has been identified as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation told CNN. Law enforcement sources earlier had described him as a 29-year-old Uzbek national who came to the United States in 2010.

Yes, the likes of Breitbart are going to (justifiably) ask what exactly Sayfullo Saipov was doing on a diversity visa in the United States.

But at least there’s some kind of visa involved, even though America is on the other side of the world from Central Asia.

Russia doesn’t even bother with a visa regime.

Central Asia used to have a reputation for moderate Islam, but this is becoming less true by the year. 2017 has been especially bad for it. First the ethnic Uzbek from Kyrgyzstan who blew up the Saint-Petersburg metro; then the band of Kazakh Islamist cop killers in Astrakhan; then the Uzbek terrorist in Sweden, out of an Uzbek diaspora of 1,890 people; and now the Uzbek spree killer in Manhattan.

What the hell is going on?

isis-terrorists-origin

Soufan Center: Beyond the Caliphate (October 2017).

The 70 million strong population of Central Asia now contributes around 5,000 fighters to Islamic State, about as much as the Muslims of Western Europe, which are known for their radicalization. It is also only modesly below the 7,000 contributed by the entire Middle East outside Iraq and Syria.

And Russia with its 10 million Muslims now has the dubious distinction of providing more troops for the Caliphate than runner up Saudi Arabia. Impressive export diversification.

Here’s the problem. I have often compared Communism to a freezer. Eastern European social values were essentially “frozen” for half a century, so when they thawed out after the collapse of the Iron Curtain, they ended up more retrogressive/”based” (cross out as per your ideological preferences) than the Eurovision-MTV West. But they are catching up. Now much the same process is happening with respect to the region’s Muslims. But in their case, what they are “converging” to is not always so much Shakira as sharia.

And this is going to get worse, not better, in the future as the last remnants of the Soviet carapace fall away.

But no worries. Just as in the West you have your Sadiq Khans to tell you that terrorism is part and parcel of life in a big city, so their multiculturalist colleagues in Russia, such as the “fascist” Alexander Dugin, will blame it on the liberal “sixth column” i.e. Navalny’s schoolchildren fans (no, seriously). And life will go on, just a bit more disruptively than before.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Islamism, Terrorism, United States, Uzbekistan 
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On October 26, Almazbek Atambaev, the outgoing President of Kyrgyzstan, signed a decree replacing the November 7 celebrations of the October revolution with a “Day of History and Remembrance.”

The “history” and “remembrance” in question refers to the Urkun, the Kyrgyz name for their 1916 revolt against Tsarist Russia.

Here is an extract from the decree:

The development of history in the past few years and its de-ideologization has allowed researchers to work out new approaches to studying Kyrgyz history… Our people, with their 3,000 year history, having created the Kyrgyz Khanate in the 9th century, has maintained the idea of statehood for many centuries… Generation to generation, the dream of independence moved on. …

The will of the people towards freedom and independence was the main driving force of the events of 1916. The harsh suppression of the uprising by Tsarist punitive batallions, multiple incidences of bloodthirsty reprisals against civilizations, and their forced exile into foreign lands put the Kyrgyz people on the brink of extinction. According to the archives, the most dramatic events and the highest numbers of human casualties during the Urkun took place in autumn 1916.

So what’s left unmentioned in this story?

turkestan-map

Source: Sputnik i Pogrom. Map of Turkestan – epicenter of the rebellion is in the red square.

First, and most important, it was a bit more than just an ordinary uprising. What began as a campaign of assassination against local officials soon escalated to full-scale ethnic cleansing, with thousand-strong bands of Kyrgyz horsemen despoiling defenseless Russian villages which had been largely stripped of their fighting age men by conscription for World War I. All told, around 3,000 Russians were murdered, the vast majority of them women and children, as well as the monks of Przhevalsk Cathedral and the Holy Trinity Monastery of Issyk-Kul.

Writes Father Evstafi Malakhovsky, the abbot of Pokrovsky Church, located 35 versts from Przhevalsk (now Karakol):

On August 11, [the Kyrgyz] attacked the settlements, started to beat the residents and burn houses… No mercy was shown to the Russians: They were cut up and beaten, sparing neither women nor children. There were beheadings, impalements, noses and ears were cut off, children were cut in half, women were raped, maidens and young girls were taken prisoner.

There are many even grislier accounts compiled by the local clergy.

As the ethnic cleansing wore on, Russians started to congregate in larger villages, such as Preobrazhensky. There, a 200-strong militia with rifles, shotguns, and a jerry-rigged cannon held off a 10,000-strong Kyrgyz horde for a month before Army reinforcements arrived and drove them away. Observing the scenes of devastation, the local militias and soldiers were not particularly inclined to show mercy as they pursued the bands into the mountains.

The Kyrgyz historian Shairgul Batyrbaev in a 2013 interview:

The suppression was indeed brutal. But one has to keep the context in mind. When the punitive batallions arrived to pacify the rebellion, they saw the heads of Russian women and children mounted on pikes, and their reaction was understandable.

Officially, 347 people in Semirechie were executed in summary military trials. The direct victims of the pacification campaign numbered 4,000 according to Batyrbaev’s calculations.

The official Kyrgyz narrative, as affirmed by a 2016 commision, is that the Tsarist suppression of the revolt was genocide. RFERL helpfully notes that it is “believed that between 100,000 and 270,000 ethnic Kyrgyz were killed by Tsarist Russia’s punitive battalions.” However, these estimates seem most unlikely, considering that the Kyrgyz population in the territories affected by the rebellion increased from 278,900 in 1897 to 324,000 by 1917. Based on natality and mortality trends, Batyrbaev estinmates there “should have been” 357,600 Kyrgyz by that time, implying total demographic losses of around 35,000.

That includes emigration. For the Kyrgyz, the most tragic episode of the Urkun was the flight of 30,000 Kyrgyz into China. Many thousands died in the high passes, and many of the rest were enslaved by the Uyghurs in China – a traditional practice in Central Asia, before the Russian Empire illegalized it in Russian Turkestan in 1861 and stamped it out over the next few decades.

Now this is not to unequivocally condemn the Kyrgyz, or justify the policies of the Russian Empire.

prokudin-gorsky-russian-settlers-kyrgyzstan

Source: Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (1911). Photograph of Russian settlers on the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul.

The Kyrgyz had real grievances. The influx of landless Russian settlers (one such family is shown in the photograph above) in the wake of Stolypin’s agrarian reforms impinged on the traditional land use patterns of the nomadic Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, who needed vast tracts of land for grazing their cattle. The Russian colonists formed growing islands of European civilization that didn’t mix with the locals, stoking resentment amongsts the natives (this is, of course, a familiar pattern the world over). The influence of the mullahs, who occupied a privileged position in Kyrgyz society, was reduced – they lost administrative power to state bureaucrats, and the traditional madrassas had to compete with growing numbers of secular schools. Finally, the local bureaucrats that staffed the lower administrative rungs were fantastically corrupt – there are accounts of them continuing to sell exemptions from mobilization to young Kyrgyz men even as more and more of their fellows were lynched by the enraged mobs of the metastasizing rebellion.

This brings us to the fuse that set off the entire thing – an edict from Interior Minister Boris Stürmer calling for the mobilization of 80,000 men from the steppe region of Turkestan. This was a drop in the bucket relative to the more than 12 million men mobilized by the Russian Empire during World War I, and in any case, the Central Asians were only going to be used for non-military duties. (In the end, only slightly more than 100,000 Central Asians ended up being mobilized during the war). But the scope of these plans grew rapidly in the telling, in what was still a predominantly illiterate society; the call for 80,000 labor conscripts soon turned into an evil Russian plot to kill off the entire Kyrgyz male population in the fields and trenches in a place far away and in a war that few of them understood. This was helped along not just by the usual suspects – German and Turkish intelligence helped fan the rumors – but also by venal Kyrgyz bureaucrats, who saw the horror stories as a good way to increase their earnings from selling exemptions. Finally, the linguistic and cultural gap between the lower Kyrgyz and upper Russian administrative rungs hampered attempts to stiffle the rebellion in its cradle, and delayed a serious response from the central authorities.

But the language of the recent Kyrgyz decree – with its language of “Russian colonizers,” “Russia’s orbit,” “uprising of national liberation,” “cruel suppression by Tsarist punitive batallions,” the “millennial history” through which the Kyrgyz people carried its “idea of “statehood” – has nothing to do with history and everything to do with politics.

And there’s nothing better than genocide myths for nation-building, historical details and nuance be damned.
There are a couple of further factors that underline the significance of this event.

First, Almazbek Atambaev belongs to the ruling Social Democrats, whose candidate won the recent Presidential elections. This is a moderate, comparatively pro-Russian party that supports keeping Russian as an official language. Deputies from the main opposition party, Respublika-Ata Zhurt (an alliance of pro-Western liberals and nationalists; not an uncommon combination in the post-Soviet space), have taken a much harder line; in 2012, they called for financial documentation, technical documents, and parliamentary debates to all happen in Kyrgyz. Further to the right, Nurlan Motuev, leader of the People’s Patriotic Movement of Kyrgyzstan and of the True Muslims of Kyrgyzstan, demanded that Russia recognize the Urkun as a genocide and pay them $100 billion in compensation. To be fair, Motuev is a marginal figure whose projects only ever got tiny single digit shares of the vote, and the man himself has since been sentenced to 7 years in jail for praising Islamic State in the media.

However, less hardcore versions of these anti-Russian sentiments are increasingly prevalent amongst Kyrgyz youth and the Kyrgyz intelligentsia.

(All too predictably, the US is also involved. The National Democratic Institute, amongst its other projects in Kyrgyzstan, financed the TV show “New Trends” (Zhana Bashat), which regularly features all sorts of eccentric guests, such as Dastan Sapygulov, a Tengriist and a supporter of Kyrgyz as the dominant language. The Turks are also busy projecting their pan-Turkic vision, financing the University of Manas, where education is exclusively in the Turkish and Kyrgyz languages.)

Not only are the Social Democrats the main pro-Russian party in Kyrgyzstan, but the country itself is probably Russia’s closest “friend” in Central Asia. They are members of both the CSTO security alliance and the Eurasian Economic Community. Consequently, there are fewer barriers for a Kyrgyz seeking work in Russia than for a humanitarian refugee from the Donbass. Kyrgyz driving licenses are recognized in Russia, and Russia recently forgave a $240 million debt to the impoverished Central Asian nation. Remittances from Kyrgyz Gasterbeiters – most of them of them in Russia – constitute 30.4% of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP, which is the second highest indicator in the world after Nepal.

And yet despite all that, its authorities feel entitled to spit in Russia’s face.

All in all, it is hard to think of a single development that best represents the retreat of Russian influence from Central Asia.

This is, of course, hardly a singular affair. Kazakhstan is moving to the Latin alphabet by 2025. Tajikistan banned this year’s Immortal Regiments march on the grounds that it is non-Islamic (though it was not enforced). Uzbekistan has been particularly hostile, removing Europeans from important state positions, dismantling World War II monuments, and leaving both the CSTO and Eurasian Economic Community around 2010. Russia’s response? Mayor Sergey Sobyanin is going to use city funds to install a monument to the late Uzbek President for Life Islam Karimov in the center of Moscow.

And there are no signs that this is going to come to a stop anytime soon. As a rule, the Central Asians are ruled by Soviet relicts with strong cultural ties to (if not exactly sympathy for) Eurasia’s other post-Soviet elites. These are people whom the likes of Putin understand and are comfortable with. But as they age and die off, these countries are going to drift farther and farther away from Russia as the ethnic draw of Turkey, the religious draw of the Islamic ummah, the economic preponderance of China, and the cultural preponderance of America make themselves fully felt on the youngest generations and on the intelligentsia. This is already happening and there is no absolutely no reason to expect that Russia’s alternative, the Great Patriotic War victory cult – in which Central Asians played a marginal role anyway – is going to be a competitive one.

The future of Central Asia is nationalist and Islamic – probably, more of the former in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and more of the latter in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

This shouldn’t translate into any feelings of blame or bitterness. For all the Eurasianists’ efforts to argue otherwise, Russia and Turkestan are separate civilizations that don’t have much more in common than France and its African colonies. As such, it is pointless for Russians to begrudge them their efforts to establish their own “identity”; that it comes at Russia’s expense is only to be expected. It does, however, means that a rational and hard-headed Russian government should start dealing with them as the truly independent, nezalezhnye entities that they so earnestly appear to want to be.

At a minimum, this would mean an immediate end to Central Asian autocrats offloading their surplus labor and drugs onto Russia via open borders, an end to Russian taxpayer-subsidized loans and their inevitable write-offs, and certainly an end to even any discussions about statues to their Great Leaders in the Russian capital.

But it is hard to imagine Putin ceasing to support and subsidize the Soviet fossils with whom he so strongly identifies with. Besides, the cheap labor is good for business, the bodies are good for bolstering attendance at pro-regime demonstrations, and the drugs help keep masses of venal siloviks employed. And so in all likelihood this will continue until the next round of color revolutions drives what remains of Russia’s influence out of Central Asia.

 
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Spanish Occupation Government strikes back!

So as you’re probably aware, The Unz Review had a prolonged server crash. The data was unrecoverable, so Ron had to revert to an earlier backup, losing about a day’s worth of comments.

Apologies about that, but really, it’s GoDaddy’s fault. None of us are very happy with them. One might have expected better of America’s largest hosting provider, but apparently not. Any suggestions for alternatives? Amazon Web Services are under consideration, since they host many of America’s biggest companies. But all suggestions are welcome – preferably at this thread: http://www.unz.com/announcement/server-crash/

Anyhow.

1. Only post of mine that got deleted was “The Catalans Actually Did It the Absolute Madmen.” I don’t feel like restoring it since it pretty much just a shitpost that was only funny at the time of posting, not 48 hours later.

But feel free to continue discussing the latest developments in Spain/Catalonia in this thread.

2. Now might be an apt moment for a couple of productivity tips for not losing your comments:

  • The Chrome extension Lazarus: Form Recovery auto-saves everything you type into form fields, allowing easy recovery from time-outs, crashes, and network errors.
  • The Chrome extension Comment Save does what it says on the in – also useful for keeping track of comments you make on other sites without having to use a your email as a dumping ground for updates.

There are probably equivalent plugins for Mozilla Firefox.

EDIT 10/31: So we’re back to Square 1. I am even more impressed at the sheer magnitude of this fail than I’m mad about it.

I am going to restore my Kyrgyzstan post – thankfully, I keep a personal backup of all my posts on Evernote – but unfortunately, the many great comments to it are lost (unless you maintained a personal backup, as I recommended above).

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Catalonia, Internet, Open Thread 
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PAPER REVIEW

Kulivets & Ushakov – 2016 – Modeling Relationship between Cognitive Abilities and Economic


Abstract:

We propose that problem solving is the mediator between human competencies and achievements. Creation of goods and services is based on problem solving in design, production and delivery. The quality of problem solving depends on human competencies and, in turn, determines economic achievements. More importantly, the choice of problems to be solved creates or does not create the possibility for application of highly qualified labor and, as a result, for full-fledged realization of human capital. We propose a mathematical model based on these assumptions. The simulation reproduces most important traits of Lynn and Vanhanen’s (2002) findings. The simulation shows a non-linear growth of economic achievements with national IQ growth as well as an increase of between countries variance. Thereby the proposed model can serve as a satisfactory explanation for empirical data on links between national IQs and economic achievements.

It’s well established that there is a very close correlation between average national IQ and GDP per capita, especially when corrected for resource windfalls and Communism.

jones-iq-gdp-per-capita

(One such standard graph from Garett Jones).

However, there remain two additional results that correlational exercises cannot adequately explain:

  1. “First, the relationship between national IQs and income is not linear. As it was shown later this relationship can be well approximated by quadratic function (Whetzel & McDaniel, 2006). The mere assumption that more capable, competent and educated people produce better economic results is not sufficient to explain this specific finding.
  2. “Second, residuals of the regression of GDP on national IQ grow proportionally with the IQ. It means that in some high-IQ countries human potential leads to serious economic realizations while in others it is out of demand. So a comprehensive explanation of Lynn and Vanhanen’s data includes understanding of factors stimulating the use of highly qualified labor.”

So Sergey Kulivets, a mathematician at the Trapeznikov Institute, and Dmitry Ushakov, a psychologist at the Institute of Psychology RAN, created a model in which problem solving plays a central role to investigate these two puzzles.

They model a world composed of different countries, in which every resident has a “talent” with a bell curve distribution around different means. Each country has two types of people: Entrepreneurs and specialists. Entrepreneurs hire specialists to produce goods, the quality of which is determined by the talents of the specialists working on them. These goods are then sold on the international market, where any country can buy them. The “GDP” of each country is the sum of the income of its entrepreneurs, or the value of all the goods produced by the entrepreneurs within a country and sold in the international product market, during a set period.

ushakov-simulation-model

Here is how the model works:

  1. Each entrepreur chooses a task for solving. There are two types of tasks: “Threshold” and “open type” ones. Threshold problems require a minimum competence level to complete, but additional competence beyond that threshold offers no further advantages beyond that minimal point; the value of the solutions to open problems increases with the talent of the specialists allocated to it.*
  2. The entrepreneur hires specialists from his own country to perform that task, attracting specialists by offering higher salaries for more competitive candidates.
  3. The entrepreneur produces goods. Quantity dependent on number of workers and money allocated to them; quality depends on the competence (talent) level of the hired specialists.
  4. The entrepreneur sells the good on an international market, competing with other enterpreneurs on price and quality.
  5. Income from this goes to entrepreneur, which in turn – after subtracting production costs and salaries – determines his budget for the next round of problem solving.

Consult the paper for the specific formulae used to describe task selection, the labor market, and the product market.

Towards the end, K&V compare their theoretical models against Lynn and Vanhanen’s. They match up near perfectly.

ushakov-simulation

Competence: I; Development: D.
Left: Lynn & Vanhanen 2002; Right: Simulation results.

Also one can observe that K&V get a nicer fit than L&V, presumably because the Communist legacy (negative outliers) and resource windfalls (positive outliers) aren’t modeled.

ushakov-budgets

Over time both consumers and entrepreneurs become much richer in competent countries relative to incompetent ones, as the “rise in entrepreneurs’ income influences the consumer income through salary rises.”

In this model, entrepreneurs choose tasks in a random way; unsuccessful ones are abandoned, while those that bring a return continue to be produced. As K&V note, if the quality of entrepreneur predictions as to the profitability of various tasks were to also depend on competence levels, then this cognitively-determined pattern of the wealth and poverty of nations can be expected to be even starker.

However, they do end with a cautionary note of some relevance to today’s political economy: Our model is based on the assumption that entrepreneurs’ income comes from organizing people to produce goods and services. This mechanismfunction is impaired if natural rent becomes the main source of profit.

* Incidentally, I would note that this division is justified by and reinforced by Garett Jones’ theory of the O-Ring sector: “I posit that there are two kinds of jobs: O-ring jobs where strategic complementarities to skill are large, and a diminishing-returns Foolproof sector, where two mediocre workers provide the same effective labor as one excellent worker… In a world where countries vary only slightly in the average skill of workers, these assumptions are sufficient to generate massive differences in cross-country income inequality while generating only small amounts of intra-country income inequality.

 
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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.