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The reason I don’t write much about Russia’s demographics nowadays is that there isn’t much point to it.

Up until the early 2010s, the Western media was brimming with misinformation about the subject – what we now call #fakenews – so refuting it was both profitable and easy. Incredibly easy. You didn’t really have to do anything much more complicated than taking a few minutes to browse through Russia’s national statistics database, but apparently that was beyond the capabilities of most Russia journalists.

However, by now a critical number of Western pundits have apparently acquainted themselves with at least the Wikipedia article on Russia’s demographics. In the longterm, reality wins out, and so with a lag time of about a decade, references to Russia’s “plummeting population” and “sixth wave of emigration” have steadily petered out (the last major holdouts of Russia demographic doomerism was Barack Obama in this 2014 interview with The Economist, and Michael Rubin for Commentary in 2015,).

We can now finally say that the “Dying Bear” meme has fulfilled lived up to its own name.

***

Anyhow, preliminary demographic results for 2016 are in.

Births remained marginally ahead of deaths, both at around 12.9/1,000 people, though the usual ~300,000 annual net immigrants (almost half of them from Ukraine) will ensure that overall population growth remains decidedly positive.

russia-births-deaths-1946-2016

Births decreased by 2.6%. The full impact of the small 1990s cohort is now being felt, so this was always inevitable. Deaths also declined by 1.2%, despite the ongoing aging of the population. This pretty much completes what I termed The Russian Hexagon, the successor to the so-called “Russian Cross” in the early 1990s when the births and deaths graphs intersected; in the past decade, birth and death rates once again converged, but from the opposite direction, forming a sort of hexagon.

russia-tfr-1946-2016

The Total Fertility Rate seems to have stabilized at around 1.75 children per woman (inevitable question: How much without Muslims/ethnic minorities? Approximately 0.1 children less, based on completed fertility data from the 2010 Census).

This makes sense. As I pointed out almost a decade ago, Russian fertility preferences are similar to those of Scandinavians and the Anglosphere (~2.5 children per woman), and higher than that of Visegrad/The Med (~2.1 children) or the Teutonic world (1.7 children), so convergence to at least this level was always on the cards as soon as some semblance of economic stability and predictability was restored.

As I pointed out, this makes Russia’s fertility rates reasonably respectable by European standards; they are only noticeably higher in France, Ireland, the UK, and Sweden.

russia-life-expectancy-1946-2016

Life expectancy is now close to 72 years, which is the highest it has ever been in Russia’s history.

One way of looking at this is that mortality trends in Russia are basically tracking improvements in the ex-Soviet Baltics (and the City of Moscow) with a lag of ten years, so there is good reason to expect this trend will continue.

This is primarily linked to the big reduction in vodka bingeing during the past decade, which depressed Russian life expectancy by about a decade relative to what it “should be” based on its GDP per capita and healthcare system. This “alcoholization” began to soar from around 1965, and peaked in the 1990s and early 2000s. According to calculations by the demographer Alexander Nemtsov, something like a third of Russian mortality around 2005 could be attributed to it.


Blast from the Past

Incidentally, back in 2008, I created a demographic model for Russia, which enabled me to accurately predict a resumption in both total (2010) and natural (2013) population growth to the exact year.

In the scenario where TFR is set to a constant 1.75 children per woman, the “Medium” scenario of mortality improvements (which has best tracked Russia’s life expectancy trends to date), and about 300,000 annual immigrants, it predicted the following:

Medium (TFR=1.75 from 2010)The population grows from 2010, rising from 142mn to 148mn in 2025 and 156mn in 2050. The death rate troughs at 10.8 in 2034, before zooming in to 11.5 by 2050. The birth rate peaks at 13.6 by 2014, before plummeting to 9.7 in 2033, before recovering to 11.9 in 2046 and again falling, although less rapidly than before.

How does this stack up against reality? The birth rate reached a multi-year plateau at 13.3 children per woman during 2012-2015, when the decline in the numbers of women of childbearing age were exactly offset by rising total fertility rates. The mortality rate fell steadily throughout this period, just as predicted, though it is marginally higher as of 2016 (12.9/1,000) than in the Medium variant (12.6/1,000).

Overall, this is pretty close, and suggests that the model is fundamentally sound and thus so are its future population projections.

Of course it has to be adjusted upwards by 2.3 million to take into account Crimea, and any further (re)gatherings of rightful Russian clay.


 

As alcohol abuse fell, so did all of the other components of mortality, especially those most strongly associated with it, i.e. deaths from external causes:

russia-deaths-external-causes-1990-2016

… which includes homicides, suicides, deaths from transport accidents (despite soaring vehicle ownership), and, self-referentially, deaths from alcohol poisoning.

russia-mortality-alcohol-murder-suicide-1990-2016

Part of this reduction was due to cultural change, including the realities of life under capitalism (if you turn up to work drunk, you can be fired, unlike under socialism), part of it was due to economics (more diversity of choice), and part of it was thanks to specific Kremlin policies, such as steady increases in the excise tax on alcohol and restrictions on alcohol advertising.

Finally, the abortion rate continues to quietly decline. The ratio of abortions to births is now down to 40%, down from well more than 100% during the era from the post-Stalin legalization of abortion to the 1990s. This is still about 2-3x higher than in most of Western Europe and the US, but Russia is longer the absolute outlier it once was.

russia-abortion-rate-1957-2016

Just like the trends with fertility and mortality, this too can be considered a return to “demographic normality” after the Soviet aberration.

One important point: Conservative talking points to the contrary, there is no hard evidence that high abortion rates actually decrease fertility. Low abortion rates are good though for general health reasons and (depending on your religious views) for ethical ones but they have very little to do with demographic health per se.

Even though it completely bans abortions, Poland has one of Europe’s lowest fertility rates. For some reason Mark Steyn never did dwell on that…

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Demographics, Russia 
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  1. sflicht says:

    It’s pretty hard to look at these plots and not be impressed by Putin’s leadership. I know, I know, a lot of these things are secular and not really directly controlled by the Russian government. But it’s hard to argue with fundamentals like these.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Hector_St_Clare
    I don't see any particular reason to credit this to Putin's leadership, rather than just rebounding from the 1990s distaster?

    Russia underwent an economic collapse in the 1990s, as most ex-communist countries did, due to partly to the costs of transition. When you dismantle a centrally planned economy (which worked moderately well) in one go, with the hope of replacing it with something that worked better, you can't expect new institutions to come into existence right away. A country with Russia's advantages in terms of natural resources and human capital was going to recover sooner or later, it was just a matter of time.
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  2. Glossy says: • Website

    if you turn up to work drunk, you can be fired, unlike under socialism

    Well, Gorbachev had the right idea about that, seemingly his only one: decrease the availability of alcohol. So this problem was solvable without the market.

    Just like the trends with fertility and mortality, this too can be considered a return to “demographic normality” after the Soviet aberration.

    There were two horrible aberrations: the early Bolshevik period and the 1990s. The period between them was an oasis of growth, normality, culture, science, the re-gathering of lands, etc. The anti-Soviet crowd of the 1960s-1980s was like the revolutionary crowd under the last tsars and the liberal crowd today.

    By the way, I first learned of your old blog when I saw a comment of yours a long time ago in which you refuted the Russia-is-dying idea. I got interested, so I clicked, either on your nick or on a link that you provided, and it led me to your blog, which I’ve been reading since.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    There were two horrible aberrations

    Well, obviously, three horrible aberrations. There was also the war.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    Ways in which Soviet demographics 1965-1985 was abberant:

    * Sustained decline in life expectancy during peacetime.
    * Sustained rise in infant mortality during peacetime - the only such case amongst the major industrialized nations.
    * Concealing demographic statistics to hide this by the 70s.
    * Concealing them under so many layers that junior members of the Politburo had to consult with the KGB to get at the real situation in the country.
    * Most of the leadership of the country being themselves vodka-drenched alcoholics (Yeltsin was not an atypical representative of this class).

    Well, Gorbachev had the right idea about that, seemingly his only one: decrease the availability of alcohol. So this problem was solvable without the market.
     
    Gorbachev certainly did more good than ill with that, I have always said that, but he couldn't resolve a couple of fundamental problems:
    (1) Lack of consequences to turning up drunk.
    (2) Lack of high quality, affordable substitutes for vodka (i.e. beer and vodka).

    As soon as his restrictions were dropped, vodka bingeing once again returned, and with a vengeance.

    In fact, in the longterm, some of his actions actually exacerbated the situation. His anti-alcohol campaign included the destruction of Crimean wineyards, some of them with a century old pedigree, even though wine was never and could never be the problem, and is in fact (along with beer) a potential solution. As a result, the Russian wine industry was practically destroyed, and Russian wine consumption even today is still less than what it was in the 1970s and early 80s.

    But in its ham-fistedness this was a quintessentially sovok "solution."
  3. 5371 says:

    [this makes Russia’s fertility rates reasonably respectable by European standards; they are only noticeably higher in France, Ireland, the UK, and Sweden]

    And except in Ireland, those will be a lot lower for whites.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Yevardian
    Ireland is a very unusual case in that it lost something like 1/3rd of it's population (and the death of its language) over the 19th century to emigration and famine.
    Sweden is anyone's guess, they've even eradicated any mention of race from all it's censuses.

    I'm still split on idealising the late USSR. Despite the catastrophe that followed it's demise; it probably would have continued it's slow creeping decline and rising ethnic unrest had it not imploded. I'm not sure it could have been reformed without collapsing in itself, I doubt Russia could have taken the Chinese route; they're much more volatile.

  4. Glossy says: • Website
    @Glossy
    if you turn up to work drunk, you can be fired, unlike under socialism

    Well, Gorbachev had the right idea about that, seemingly his only one: decrease the availability of alcohol. So this problem was solvable without the market.

    Just like the trends with fertility and mortality, this too can be considered a return to “demographic normality” after the Soviet aberration.

    There were two horrible aberrations: the early Bolshevik period and the 1990s. The period between them was an oasis of growth, normality, culture, science, the re-gathering of lands, etc. The anti-Soviet crowd of the 1960s-1980s was like the revolutionary crowd under the last tsars and the liberal crowd today.

    By the way, I first learned of your old blog when I saw a comment of yours a long time ago in which you refuted the Russia-is-dying idea. I got interested, so I clicked, either on your nick or on a link that you provided, and it led me to your blog, which I've been reading since.

    There were two horrible aberrations

    Well, obviously, three horrible aberrations. There was also the war.

    Read More
  5. @Glossy
    if you turn up to work drunk, you can be fired, unlike under socialism

    Well, Gorbachev had the right idea about that, seemingly his only one: decrease the availability of alcohol. So this problem was solvable without the market.

    Just like the trends with fertility and mortality, this too can be considered a return to “demographic normality” after the Soviet aberration.

    There were two horrible aberrations: the early Bolshevik period and the 1990s. The period between them was an oasis of growth, normality, culture, science, the re-gathering of lands, etc. The anti-Soviet crowd of the 1960s-1980s was like the revolutionary crowd under the last tsars and the liberal crowd today.

    By the way, I first learned of your old blog when I saw a comment of yours a long time ago in which you refuted the Russia-is-dying idea. I got interested, so I clicked, either on your nick or on a link that you provided, and it led me to your blog, which I've been reading since.

    Ways in which Soviet demographics 1965-1985 was abberant:

    * Sustained decline in life expectancy during peacetime.
    * Sustained rise in infant mortality during peacetime – the only such case amongst the major industrialized nations.
    * Concealing demographic statistics to hide this by the 70s.
    * Concealing them under so many layers that junior members of the Politburo had to consult with the KGB to get at the real situation in the country.
    * Most of the leadership of the country being themselves vodka-drenched alcoholics (Yeltsin was not an atypical representative of this class).

    Well, Gorbachev had the right idea about that, seemingly his only one: decrease the availability of alcohol. So this problem was solvable without the market.

    Gorbachev certainly did more good than ill with that, I have always said that, but he couldn’t resolve a couple of fundamental problems:
    (1) Lack of consequences to turning up drunk.
    (2) Lack of high quality, affordable substitutes for vodka (i.e. beer and vodka).

    As soon as his restrictions were dropped, vodka bingeing once again returned, and with a vengeance.

    In fact, in the longterm, some of his actions actually exacerbated the situation. His anti-alcohol campaign included the destruction of Crimean wineyards, some of them with a century old pedigree, even though wine was never and could never be the problem, and is in fact (along with beer) a potential solution. As a result, the Russian wine industry was practically destroyed, and Russian wine consumption even today is still less than what it was in the 1970s and early 80s.

    But in its ham-fistedness this was a quintessentially sovok “solution.”

    Read More
    • Agree: Dan Hayes, AP
    • Replies: @Glossy
    Concealing demographic statistics to hide this by the 70s.

    So the life expectancy and child mortality statistics you're citing aren't official Soviet statistics of the time? That makes me suspicious. Were they really collected by the Soviet government and hidden as you say? Were they invented by Soviet "dissidents"? By the CIA? I have't studied that issue, so I don't know.

    During the Cold War a lot of people in the West believed that the USSR exaggerated Moscow's population by a factor of magnitude and that the real figure in the 1980s was below 1 million. I've spoken to people who still believe that. Unfortunately I was not able to convince them that they're wrong.
    , @Glossy
    Most of the leadership of the country being themselves vodka-drenched alcoholics (Yeltsin was not an atypical representative of this class).

    That's not my impression. Who was an alcoholic, Khruschev, Brezhnev, Kosygin, Gromyko, Schelokov, Suslov, Grishin? I don't remember reading that about any of them.
    , @Andrei Martyanov

    Most of the leadership of the country being themselves vodka-drenched alcoholics (Yeltsin was not an atypical representative of this class).
     
    A very dubious statement. Yeltsin sooner can be relegated to exceptions rather than rules.
    , @Verymuchalive
    " Lack of high quality, affordable substitutes for vodka ( ie beer and vodka )
    I think you mean beer and wine.
    You say that Gorbachev inadvertently destroyed the Russian wine industry. Is there any sign that now that Crimea is part of Russia again, the Crimean industry is expanding ?
    I have tasted the odd Russian brew and most seem pretty decent. There are certainly some good small real-ale brewers in St Petersburg. Baltika, the main lager, is also decent: certainly no one's saying they use rice, maize or potatoes !
    Mr Karlin, I believe you are still under 30. I'm sure you have had more than a few Russian beers. Any opinions ?
    PS You have a very sure grasp of demographics. Did you study it at university ? When I was a boy ( student ) in the 1970s, it was hailed as a growth subject ? It never happened ? Any ideas why ?
    , @gjgj
    Your defense of this:

    "Just like the trends with fertility and mortality, this too can be considered a return to “demographic normality” after the Soviet aberration."

    Is basically the social policy version of people who say Soviets faked all their economic data (without explaining how it was possible for an agrarian country to turn into a major industrial one without sustained gdp growth).

    If Yeltsin/Putin didn't disclose that "fertility and mortality" stats were fake under USSR - which would have helped them enormously politically in the 90's/early 2000's - and still use them today then this argument is just a cop out.

    Fertility is still way bellow late Soviet period and Mortality is still way above the late Soviet period. And this is after 25 years! Mortality should be way below Soviet periods. All the murder/alcohol poisoning/etc statistics are a belated return to 1990 - a waste of two decades. The only thing the current government has improved singularly from the Soviet era is the suicide rate.

    "Sustained rise in infant mortality during peacetime" is false - there was a mild rise in the early 1970's and decline continued (the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality estimation has a non-ending decline from RSFSR to RF).

    And you're really fetishizing alcohol as main factor in mortality. I know its popular in english-language literature but its patently reductionist to the point of absurdity. And with illegal alcohol purchases included alcohol consumption in Russia has only decreased by a tiny fraction in the past 5 years (while external deaths fell by 1/2, 1/3, etc.) So if by "diversity of choice" you mean the general population now is now blessed to be too poor to consume goods it doesn't fit with the trends of the drastic social improvements of the past 5 years.
    , @Anonymous Nephew
    There's an interesting contrast in Bulgaria, where in its Warsaw Pact days they exported vast amounts of cheap but relatively high-quality wine to the West. Bulgarian Cabernet Sauvignon was the go-to take to a party wine, great oak and blackberry flavours. I really miss the stuff, 20 years on.

    Iron Curtain fell, vineyards were privatised, and the wine vanished from UK shelves - it's never really made a comeback. Looks like Viniprom, the State wine producer, was a damn sight more efficient than private enterprise.

    http://www.thewinestalker.net/2015/07/bulgaria1.html

    "See, what happened was that after communism fell, all the seized land from 1944 was given back to their "original owners". So if your deceased grampa owned a vineyard back in the day then you suddenly found yourself owning a vineyard. You've never even touched a vine in your life and you don't have any of the appropriate equipment. Some people tried to do it and succeeded, some tried to do it and failed miserably. But mostly they didn't try at all, and there were many cases where nobody even knew who owned the rights to them now, so vineyards sat there and died without any caretaking whatsoever."
     
    http://uk-wine-forum.co.uk/guests/caroline/wine-bulgaria.html

    "Reasons behind the drastic fall in sales are multiple and complex, and alone merit a whole feature on 'how not to do things.' For now, here's the potted version: one of the main reasons was the long-winded and poorly handled land privatization process that resulted in tiny plots being handed back to owners with little interest in grapes. Many of these were abandoned or left to fall into ruin. Lack of cooperation or shared vision between growers and wineries was another issue. Growers wanted to pick as early as possible to get paid before theft or poor weather lost them their cash crop. Wineries paying early in the fight for fruit supplies only added to the pressure, and the result was mean, unripe wines instead of those soft, fruity numbers we'd all fallen for - just at a time when the New World was hitting the shelves in a major way. Even as recently as a visit in 2003, it was clear that many winemakers believed grapes grew in the back of trucks, and that's where their job started."
     
  6. Is Russia going to play ball with Trump on China? Is there anything Russia can give Trump that would help Trump sell his pro Russian foreign policy to the GOPe?

    Read More
    • Replies: @CB
    The Russian government seems to be particularly competent in foreign policy, so I expect that while they will try to improve relations with the US, this will certainly not be at the expense of relations with China. Russia has much more to gain from good relations with China than with the US, both in terms of trade and stability, and certainly the long-term prospects of business with China are far more promising. I think somebody in Washington must understand this, and I suspect the current anti-Russian hysteria is really about an attack on Russia as the most important link between China and Western Europe.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    This is asking for far too much. Trump might be gone in four years, the predictions markets say there is a 20% chance he'd be gone even earlier, whereas China will continue to border Russia indefinitely. I don't think there is anything that Trump can realistically offer to make that a worthwhile trade for Russia. That ship left port in the early 2000s.
  7. CB says:
    @Greasy William
    Is Russia going to play ball with Trump on China? Is there anything Russia can give Trump that would help Trump sell his pro Russian foreign policy to the GOPe?

    The Russian government seems to be particularly competent in foreign policy, so I expect that while they will try to improve relations with the US, this will certainly not be at the expense of relations with China. Russia has much more to gain from good relations with China than with the US, both in terms of trade and stability, and certainly the long-term prospects of business with China are far more promising. I think somebody in Washington must understand this, and I suspect the current anti-Russian hysteria is really about an attack on Russia as the most important link between China and Western Europe.

    Read More
  8. @Greasy William
    Is Russia going to play ball with Trump on China? Is there anything Russia can give Trump that would help Trump sell his pro Russian foreign policy to the GOPe?

    This is asking for far too much. Trump might be gone in four years, the predictions markets say there is a 20% chance he’d be gone even earlier, whereas China will continue to border Russia indefinitely. I don’t think there is anything that Trump can realistically offer to make that a worthwhile trade for Russia. That ship left port in the early 2000s.

    Read More
    • Replies: @TheJester
    Anatoly,

    American foreign policy appears irrational and fickle to me regardless of who is in the White House. The Russians would be at high risk to trust the Americans in any rapprochement, while the Russian-Chinese detente provides major geopolitical and military advantages to both Russia and China by allowing them to operate on interior lines of communication and commerce on a continental scale.

    I'm guessing that the Jewish influence in American politics is a major factor in the fickleness of American foreign policy. What is "good for the American Jews and Israel" is not always good for the United States, yet the Jews appear capable of imposing their points of view on Congress and the country regardless of whether they are good for Americans.

    The fickle part is that the Jews now appear to be strong advocates of massive non-European immigration to the United States -- demographic suicide for the current European body politic -- even if it includes Muslims from MENA and subSaharan Africa. The Jews apparently believe that finally destroying WASP political power, WASP culture, and country's Calvinist religious heritage is worth the risk, at least for the short term, of importing anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli immigrants.

    BTW: Massive immigration to the United States by peoples with relatively lower IQs than Northern Europeans means that the Jews can also expand and solidify their influence and control among the country's professional, economic, academic, and political elite ... the development of a permanent political and economic caste system similar to what prevails in Latin American countries.

    , @RadicalCenter
    The same prediction markets that were so sure Clinton would beat Trump?

    Trump may die of simple old age or heart attack (I do wish he'd lose a few pounds) or yes, he may be assassinated as many sickos on the Left would love.

    Other than that, though, I'll predict that he is not impeached and that he has a close re-election contest in 2020 -- winning both the popular vote (narrowly) and the electoral vote (not so narrowly) if he merely stays out of corruption, KEEPS US OUT OF WAR, achieves some deportations and reduction in illegal immigration, and makes even small cuts to overall federal spending and annual deficits. Some honest effort and 50% results on major campaign promises, and a mere lessening of war and borrowing, would be enough at this stage in our pathetic history of presidents.

    You do seem right, though, that it will be hard to make up for the dishonest, belligerent, and unreasonable conduct of the US toward Russia in the past 26 years since the USSR dissolved. Neither Russia nor anyone else would be wise to trust the US government, whether foe, rival, or alleged "friend" or "ally." Hell, we the American people trust the US government -- I no longer say "our" government -- less all the time.

    Russia would do well to boost cooperation and trade with the USA but not distance itself from China either. Putin surely is smart and practical enough to realize that.

  9. Craig Willy says: • Website

    Almost three abortions per birth after WW2!? Ouch!

    How does that compare internationally?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Alexander Mercouris had a great comment on this: http://www.unz.com/akarlin/the-rapid-and-mostly-unnoticed-decline-of-abortion-in-russia/#comment-838439

    tl;dr - Sexual revolution in the West coincided with the Pill, and happened before abortion legalization, so abortion never "took off" in a huge way. In the USSR, there was no Pill and condoms were low quality and in deficin, whereas abortion legalization happened much earlier (though banned under Stalin), so it became fixed as the primary method of birth control.
  10. @Craig Willy
    Almost three abortions per birth after WW2!? Ouch!

    How does that compare internationally?

    Alexander Mercouris had a great comment on this: http://www.unz.com/akarlin/the-rapid-and-mostly-unnoticed-decline-of-abortion-in-russia/#comment-838439

    tl;dr – Sexual revolution in the West coincided with the Pill, and happened before abortion legalization, so abortion never “took off” in a huge way. In the USSR, there was no Pill and condoms were low quality and in deficin, whereas abortion legalization happened much earlier (though banned under Stalin), so it became fixed as the primary method of birth control.

    Read More
    • Replies: @CB
    A Muscovite friend claims me that all condoms available today in Russia come from the same British company, and that rumours that their is a conspiracy to make import defective condoms in order to increase the number of pregnancies. One of the more amusing conspiracy theories that I have heard.

    About abortion as birth control in Russia. I've visited a gynaecology ward in a Russian hospital, and found that almost all in-patients are old women with ovarian cancer or young women getting an abortion. N=1, but it seemed to me quite striking.
    , @5371
    When Ceausescu banned abortion overnight in 1967, I think it was, the birth rate leapt nine months later in a quite extraordinary fashion. Later, of course, it declined again, according to folklore because most Romanians became back door men.
  11. CB says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Alexander Mercouris had a great comment on this: http://www.unz.com/akarlin/the-rapid-and-mostly-unnoticed-decline-of-abortion-in-russia/#comment-838439

    tl;dr - Sexual revolution in the West coincided with the Pill, and happened before abortion legalization, so abortion never "took off" in a huge way. In the USSR, there was no Pill and condoms were low quality and in deficin, whereas abortion legalization happened much earlier (though banned under Stalin), so it became fixed as the primary method of birth control.

    A Muscovite friend claims me that all condoms available today in Russia come from the same British company, and that rumours that their is a conspiracy to make import defective condoms in order to increase the number of pregnancies. One of the more amusing conspiracy theories that I have heard.

    About abortion as birth control in Russia. I’ve visited a gynaecology ward in a Russian hospital, and found that almost all in-patients are old women with ovarian cancer or young women getting an abortion. N=1, but it seemed to me quite striking.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    London Rubber (Durex) is dominant but there are also Armenian condoms on the market. Arranged container loads of them about 5 years ago. Soviet space suits were made in Armenia.
    , @Jim Christian

    a conspiracy to make import defective condoms in order to increase the number of pregnancies. One of the more amusing conspiracy theories that I have heard.
     
    If you think THAT'S funny, how about 20% of oral birth control being non-hormonal placebos? Hilarious, eh? A riot if I ever heard of one.
  12. TheJester says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    This is asking for far too much. Trump might be gone in four years, the predictions markets say there is a 20% chance he'd be gone even earlier, whereas China will continue to border Russia indefinitely. I don't think there is anything that Trump can realistically offer to make that a worthwhile trade for Russia. That ship left port in the early 2000s.

    Anatoly,

    American foreign policy appears irrational and fickle to me regardless of who is in the White House. The Russians would be at high risk to trust the Americans in any rapprochement, while the Russian-Chinese detente provides major geopolitical and military advantages to both Russia and China by allowing them to operate on interior lines of communication and commerce on a continental scale.

    I’m guessing that the Jewish influence in American politics is a major factor in the fickleness of American foreign policy. What is “good for the American Jews and Israel” is not always good for the United States, yet the Jews appear capable of imposing their points of view on Congress and the country regardless of whether they are good for Americans.

    The fickle part is that the Jews now appear to be strong advocates of massive non-European immigration to the United States — demographic suicide for the current European body politic — even if it includes Muslims from MENA and subSaharan Africa. The Jews apparently believe that finally destroying WASP political power, WASP culture, and country’s Calvinist religious heritage is worth the risk, at least for the short term, of importing anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli immigrants.

    BTW: Massive immigration to the United States by peoples with relatively lower IQs than Northern Europeans means that the Jews can also expand and solidify their influence and control among the country’s professional, economic, academic, and political elite … the development of a permanent political and economic caste system similar to what prevails in Latin American countries.

    Read More
  13. Yevardian says:
    @5371
    [this makes Russia’s fertility rates reasonably respectable by European standards; they are only noticeably higher in France, Ireland, the UK, and Sweden]

    And except in Ireland, those will be a lot lower for whites.

    Ireland is a very unusual case in that it lost something like 1/3rd of it’s population (and the death of its language) over the 19th century to emigration and famine.
    Sweden is anyone’s guess, they’ve even eradicated any mention of race from all it’s censuses.

    I’m still split on idealising the late USSR. Despite the catastrophe that followed it’s demise; it probably would have continued it’s slow creeping decline and rising ethnic unrest had it not imploded. I’m not sure it could have been reformed without collapsing in itself, I doubt Russia could have taken the Chinese route; they’re much more volatile.

    Read More
  14. Marcus says:

    Great news! Are they incentivizing return of Russians from FSU to RF?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    There are programs in place to ease settlement but not really incentives.
  15. Glossy says: • Website
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Ways in which Soviet demographics 1965-1985 was abberant:

    * Sustained decline in life expectancy during peacetime.
    * Sustained rise in infant mortality during peacetime - the only such case amongst the major industrialized nations.
    * Concealing demographic statistics to hide this by the 70s.
    * Concealing them under so many layers that junior members of the Politburo had to consult with the KGB to get at the real situation in the country.
    * Most of the leadership of the country being themselves vodka-drenched alcoholics (Yeltsin was not an atypical representative of this class).

    Well, Gorbachev had the right idea about that, seemingly his only one: decrease the availability of alcohol. So this problem was solvable without the market.
     
    Gorbachev certainly did more good than ill with that, I have always said that, but he couldn't resolve a couple of fundamental problems:
    (1) Lack of consequences to turning up drunk.
    (2) Lack of high quality, affordable substitutes for vodka (i.e. beer and vodka).

    As soon as his restrictions were dropped, vodka bingeing once again returned, and with a vengeance.

    In fact, in the longterm, some of his actions actually exacerbated the situation. His anti-alcohol campaign included the destruction of Crimean wineyards, some of them with a century old pedigree, even though wine was never and could never be the problem, and is in fact (along with beer) a potential solution. As a result, the Russian wine industry was practically destroyed, and Russian wine consumption even today is still less than what it was in the 1970s and early 80s.

    But in its ham-fistedness this was a quintessentially sovok "solution."

    Concealing demographic statistics to hide this by the 70s.

    So the life expectancy and child mortality statistics you’re citing aren’t official Soviet statistics of the time? That makes me suspicious. Were they really collected by the Soviet government and hidden as you say? Were they invented by Soviet “dissidents”? By the CIA? I have’t studied that issue, so I don’t know.

    During the Cold War a lot of people in the West believed that the USSR exaggerated Moscow’s population by a factor of magnitude and that the real figure in the 1980s was below 1 million. I’ve spoken to people who still believe that. Unfortunately I was not able to convince them that they’re wrong.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    I think that the idea that the USSR was lying about Moscow's population size originated with the US sci-fi writer Robert Heinlein. He claimed to have studied supply routes to the city, presumably by looking at maps, and determined that Moscow was many times smaller than advertised. A US general of some sort who visited Moscow after he "learned" this from Heinlein "confirmed" his info. This is especially hilarious because Moscow isn't just huge, it also feels huge. Like on the first day, on the trip from the airport, during a typical ride on the metro, etc.
    , @Glossy
    I mean, I have no doubt that you've read that the USSR had two sets of life expectancy and child mortality statistics. But where did the people who wrote that get that?
    , @Andrei Martyanov

    During the Cold War a lot of people in the West believed that the USSR exaggerated Moscow’s population by a factor of magnitude and that the real figure in the 1980s was below 1 million. I’ve spoken to people who still believe that.
     
    West's awareness of Soviet realities was and remains pathetic. The same goes for today's Russia. Hence a psychotic reaction whenever encountering reality be it in military, economic or cultural spheres. There are still people who believe that US alone defeated Nazis, for such "exceptionalists" visits to Moscow or St. Petersburg with their immense scale and splendor could be a life changing event with two different possible outcomes. I know a number of such people.
    , @Anatoly Karlin

    So the life expectancy and child mortality statistics you’re citing aren’t official Soviet statistics of the time?
     
    They are official statistics that were not publicly available from the 1970s until Gorbachev. Nothing complicated about that.

    During the Cold War a lot of people in the West believed that the USSR exaggerated Moscow’s population by a factor of magnitude and that the real figure in the 1980s was below 1 million.
     
    The opinions of anonymous crazy people is not germane to this discussion.
    , @Seraphim
    Doctoring statistics was quite a 'normal' practice. In Romania, accountants had to work double-time, for the reports presented to the Party matching the Party projections for the economy and for reports presenting the real economic situation.
  16. Glossy says: • Website
    @Glossy
    Concealing demographic statistics to hide this by the 70s.

    So the life expectancy and child mortality statistics you're citing aren't official Soviet statistics of the time? That makes me suspicious. Were they really collected by the Soviet government and hidden as you say? Were they invented by Soviet "dissidents"? By the CIA? I have't studied that issue, so I don't know.

    During the Cold War a lot of people in the West believed that the USSR exaggerated Moscow's population by a factor of magnitude and that the real figure in the 1980s was below 1 million. I've spoken to people who still believe that. Unfortunately I was not able to convince them that they're wrong.

    I think that the idea that the USSR was lying about Moscow’s population size originated with the US sci-fi writer Robert Heinlein. He claimed to have studied supply routes to the city, presumably by looking at maps, and determined that Moscow was many times smaller than advertised. A US general of some sort who visited Moscow after he “learned” this from Heinlein “confirmed” his info. This is especially hilarious because Moscow isn’t just huge, it also feels huge. Like on the first day, on the trip from the airport, during a typical ride on the metro, etc.

    Read More
  17. Glossy says: • Website
    @Glossy
    Concealing demographic statistics to hide this by the 70s.

    So the life expectancy and child mortality statistics you're citing aren't official Soviet statistics of the time? That makes me suspicious. Were they really collected by the Soviet government and hidden as you say? Were they invented by Soviet "dissidents"? By the CIA? I have't studied that issue, so I don't know.

    During the Cold War a lot of people in the West believed that the USSR exaggerated Moscow's population by a factor of magnitude and that the real figure in the 1980s was below 1 million. I've spoken to people who still believe that. Unfortunately I was not able to convince them that they're wrong.

    I mean, I have no doubt that you’ve read that the USSR had two sets of life expectancy and child mortality statistics. But where did the people who wrote that get that?

    Read More
  18. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @Glossy
    Concealing demographic statistics to hide this by the 70s.

    So the life expectancy and child mortality statistics you're citing aren't official Soviet statistics of the time? That makes me suspicious. Were they really collected by the Soviet government and hidden as you say? Were they invented by Soviet "dissidents"? By the CIA? I have't studied that issue, so I don't know.

    During the Cold War a lot of people in the West believed that the USSR exaggerated Moscow's population by a factor of magnitude and that the real figure in the 1980s was below 1 million. I've spoken to people who still believe that. Unfortunately I was not able to convince them that they're wrong.

    During the Cold War a lot of people in the West believed that the USSR exaggerated Moscow’s population by a factor of magnitude and that the real figure in the 1980s was below 1 million. I’ve spoken to people who still believe that.

    West’s awareness of Soviet realities was and remains pathetic. The same goes for today’s Russia. Hence a psychotic reaction whenever encountering reality be it in military, economic or cultural spheres. There are still people who believe that US alone defeated Nazis, for such “exceptionalists” visits to Moscow or St. Petersburg with their immense scale and splendor could be a life changing event with two different possible outcomes. I know a number of such people.

    Read More
  19. Glossy says: • Website
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Ways in which Soviet demographics 1965-1985 was abberant:

    * Sustained decline in life expectancy during peacetime.
    * Sustained rise in infant mortality during peacetime - the only such case amongst the major industrialized nations.
    * Concealing demographic statistics to hide this by the 70s.
    * Concealing them under so many layers that junior members of the Politburo had to consult with the KGB to get at the real situation in the country.
    * Most of the leadership of the country being themselves vodka-drenched alcoholics (Yeltsin was not an atypical representative of this class).

    Well, Gorbachev had the right idea about that, seemingly his only one: decrease the availability of alcohol. So this problem was solvable without the market.
     
    Gorbachev certainly did more good than ill with that, I have always said that, but he couldn't resolve a couple of fundamental problems:
    (1) Lack of consequences to turning up drunk.
    (2) Lack of high quality, affordable substitutes for vodka (i.e. beer and vodka).

    As soon as his restrictions were dropped, vodka bingeing once again returned, and with a vengeance.

    In fact, in the longterm, some of his actions actually exacerbated the situation. His anti-alcohol campaign included the destruction of Crimean wineyards, some of them with a century old pedigree, even though wine was never and could never be the problem, and is in fact (along with beer) a potential solution. As a result, the Russian wine industry was practically destroyed, and Russian wine consumption even today is still less than what it was in the 1970s and early 80s.

    But in its ham-fistedness this was a quintessentially sovok "solution."

    Most of the leadership of the country being themselves vodka-drenched alcoholics (Yeltsin was not an atypical representative of this class).

    That’s not my impression. Who was an alcoholic, Khruschev, Brezhnev, Kosygin, Gromyko, Schelokov, Suslov, Grishin? I don’t remember reading that about any of them.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Brezhnev was a functional alcoholic who steadily became less functional.

    Mark Schrad in Vodka Politics:

    Brezhnev embodied the corruption, decay, and drunkenness that mushroomed in Soviet society under his tutelage. Dour and stodgy, he had none of the in-your-face exuberance of Khrushchev. Some of his closest associates depict Brezhnev as an unstable and increasingly senile alcoholic who, in failing health, stumbled into such disastrous decisions as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Anatoly Dobrynin—the Soviet ambassador to the United States—seemed particularly irked by Brezhnev’s incessant drinking, especially since he was usually on the receiving end of the general secretary’s drunken, late-night, prank calls on the Kremlin’s hotline to the Soviet embassy in Washington. After Brezhnev’s death, his longtime foreign minister Andrei Gromyko was asked whether Brezhnev had a serious drinking problem. “The answer,” he replied after a reflective pause, “is Yes, Yes, Yes.” Gromyko admitted “It was perfectly obvious that the last person willing to look at this problem was the general secretary himself.”
     
    Chernenko was an alcoholic.

    Grigory Romanov was an alcoholic.

    Of course there were plenty of people who were not alcoholics. Gromyko was a temperate drinker who tried to curtail Brezhnev's excesses. Egor Ligachev (still alive; age 96) was an outright teetotaller.

    But heavy drinking within the CPSU was very widespread just as in the rest of Soviet society.
  20. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Ways in which Soviet demographics 1965-1985 was abberant:

    * Sustained decline in life expectancy during peacetime.
    * Sustained rise in infant mortality during peacetime - the only such case amongst the major industrialized nations.
    * Concealing demographic statistics to hide this by the 70s.
    * Concealing them under so many layers that junior members of the Politburo had to consult with the KGB to get at the real situation in the country.
    * Most of the leadership of the country being themselves vodka-drenched alcoholics (Yeltsin was not an atypical representative of this class).

    Well, Gorbachev had the right idea about that, seemingly his only one: decrease the availability of alcohol. So this problem was solvable without the market.
     
    Gorbachev certainly did more good than ill with that, I have always said that, but he couldn't resolve a couple of fundamental problems:
    (1) Lack of consequences to turning up drunk.
    (2) Lack of high quality, affordable substitutes for vodka (i.e. beer and vodka).

    As soon as his restrictions were dropped, vodka bingeing once again returned, and with a vengeance.

    In fact, in the longterm, some of his actions actually exacerbated the situation. His anti-alcohol campaign included the destruction of Crimean wineyards, some of them with a century old pedigree, even though wine was never and could never be the problem, and is in fact (along with beer) a potential solution. As a result, the Russian wine industry was practically destroyed, and Russian wine consumption even today is still less than what it was in the 1970s and early 80s.

    But in its ham-fistedness this was a quintessentially sovok "solution."

    Most of the leadership of the country being themselves vodka-drenched alcoholics (Yeltsin was not an atypical representative of this class).

    A very dubious statement. Yeltsin sooner can be relegated to exceptions rather than rules.

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    Andropov certainly strikes me as the sort of person who got other people drunk, rather than ever being drunk himself.
  21. @Anatoly Karlin
    Ways in which Soviet demographics 1965-1985 was abberant:

    * Sustained decline in life expectancy during peacetime.
    * Sustained rise in infant mortality during peacetime - the only such case amongst the major industrialized nations.
    * Concealing demographic statistics to hide this by the 70s.
    * Concealing them under so many layers that junior members of the Politburo had to consult with the KGB to get at the real situation in the country.
    * Most of the leadership of the country being themselves vodka-drenched alcoholics (Yeltsin was not an atypical representative of this class).

    Well, Gorbachev had the right idea about that, seemingly his only one: decrease the availability of alcohol. So this problem was solvable without the market.
     
    Gorbachev certainly did more good than ill with that, I have always said that, but he couldn't resolve a couple of fundamental problems:
    (1) Lack of consequences to turning up drunk.
    (2) Lack of high quality, affordable substitutes for vodka (i.e. beer and vodka).

    As soon as his restrictions were dropped, vodka bingeing once again returned, and with a vengeance.

    In fact, in the longterm, some of his actions actually exacerbated the situation. His anti-alcohol campaign included the destruction of Crimean wineyards, some of them with a century old pedigree, even though wine was never and could never be the problem, and is in fact (along with beer) a potential solution. As a result, the Russian wine industry was practically destroyed, and Russian wine consumption even today is still less than what it was in the 1970s and early 80s.

    But in its ham-fistedness this was a quintessentially sovok "solution."

    ” Lack of high quality, affordable substitutes for vodka ( ie beer and vodka )
    I think you mean beer and wine.
    You say that Gorbachev inadvertently destroyed the Russian wine industry. Is there any sign that now that Crimea is part of Russia again, the Crimean industry is expanding ?
    I have tasted the odd Russian brew and most seem pretty decent. There are certainly some good small real-ale brewers in St Petersburg. Baltika, the main lager, is also decent: certainly no one’s saying they use rice, maize or potatoes !
    Mr Karlin, I believe you are still under 30. I’m sure you have had more than a few Russian beers. Any opinions ?
    PS You have a very sure grasp of demographics. Did you study it at university ? When I was a boy ( student ) in the 1970s, it was hailed as a growth subject ? It never happened ? Any ideas why ?

    Read More
  22. gjgj says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Ways in which Soviet demographics 1965-1985 was abberant:

    * Sustained decline in life expectancy during peacetime.
    * Sustained rise in infant mortality during peacetime - the only such case amongst the major industrialized nations.
    * Concealing demographic statistics to hide this by the 70s.
    * Concealing them under so many layers that junior members of the Politburo had to consult with the KGB to get at the real situation in the country.
    * Most of the leadership of the country being themselves vodka-drenched alcoholics (Yeltsin was not an atypical representative of this class).

    Well, Gorbachev had the right idea about that, seemingly his only one: decrease the availability of alcohol. So this problem was solvable without the market.
     
    Gorbachev certainly did more good than ill with that, I have always said that, but he couldn't resolve a couple of fundamental problems:
    (1) Lack of consequences to turning up drunk.
    (2) Lack of high quality, affordable substitutes for vodka (i.e. beer and vodka).

    As soon as his restrictions were dropped, vodka bingeing once again returned, and with a vengeance.

    In fact, in the longterm, some of his actions actually exacerbated the situation. His anti-alcohol campaign included the destruction of Crimean wineyards, some of them with a century old pedigree, even though wine was never and could never be the problem, and is in fact (along with beer) a potential solution. As a result, the Russian wine industry was practically destroyed, and Russian wine consumption even today is still less than what it was in the 1970s and early 80s.

    But in its ham-fistedness this was a quintessentially sovok "solution."

    Your defense of this:

    “Just like the trends with fertility and mortality, this too can be considered a return to “demographic normality” after the Soviet aberration.”

    Is basically the social policy version of people who say Soviets faked all their economic data (without explaining how it was possible for an agrarian country to turn into a major industrial one without sustained gdp growth).

    If Yeltsin/Putin didn’t disclose that “fertility and mortality” stats were fake under USSR – which would have helped them enormously politically in the 90′s/early 2000′s – and still use them today then this argument is just a cop out.

    Fertility is still way bellow late Soviet period and Mortality is still way above the late Soviet period. And this is after 25 years! Mortality should be way below Soviet periods. All the murder/alcohol poisoning/etc statistics are a belated return to 1990 – a waste of two decades. The only thing the current government has improved singularly from the Soviet era is the suicide rate.

    “Sustained rise in infant mortality during peacetime” is false – there was a mild rise in the early 1970′s and decline continued (the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality estimation has a non-ending decline from RSFSR to RF).

    And you’re really fetishizing alcohol as main factor in mortality. I know its popular in english-language literature but its patently reductionist to the point of absurdity. And with illegal alcohol purchases included alcohol consumption in Russia has only decreased by a tiny fraction in the past 5 years (while external deaths fell by 1/2, 1/3, etc.) So if by “diversity of choice” you mean the general population now is now blessed to be too poor to consume goods it doesn’t fit with the trends of the drastic social improvements of the past 5 years.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin

    Is basically the social policy version of people who say Soviets faked all their economic data (without explaining how it was possible for an agrarian country to turn into a major industrial one without sustained gdp growth).
     
    Easy. By getting most peasants off the land and into urban factories.

    Many other countries did that in the 20th century. Nothing special about it.

    If Yeltsin/Putin didn’t disclose that “fertility and mortality” stats were fake under USSR...
     
    Not fake, hidden. Because it was embarassing for the regime.

    ... Mortality is still way above the late Soviet period. And this is after 25 years! Mortality should be way below Soviet periods.
     
    Mortality is higher now because there the population is older today than in the late Soviet period.

    Life expectancy, which adjusts for age structure, is the highest it has ever been as of 2016.

    And you’re really fetishizing alcohol as main factor in mortality. I know its popular in english-language literature but its patently reductionist to the point of absurdity.
     
    It is not just the English-language literature, the best person on this topic is Alexander Nemtsov, who is 100% Russian.

    I am also not sure that a person who apparently doesn't know the difference between mortality rates and life expectancy can have much to contribute on this subject.
    , @anon

    And this is after 25 years!
     
    shouldn't it be timed from the end of the post-soviet gangster era which made things worse?
    , @notanon

    And this is after 25 years!
     
    shouldn't it be dated from the end of the post-soviet gangster era which made everything worse?

    i'd date that from when the various gangster oligarchs started moving to London
  23. @Glossy
    Concealing demographic statistics to hide this by the 70s.

    So the life expectancy and child mortality statistics you're citing aren't official Soviet statistics of the time? That makes me suspicious. Were they really collected by the Soviet government and hidden as you say? Were they invented by Soviet "dissidents"? By the CIA? I have't studied that issue, so I don't know.

    During the Cold War a lot of people in the West believed that the USSR exaggerated Moscow's population by a factor of magnitude and that the real figure in the 1980s was below 1 million. I've spoken to people who still believe that. Unfortunately I was not able to convince them that they're wrong.

    So the life expectancy and child mortality statistics you’re citing aren’t official Soviet statistics of the time?

    They are official statistics that were not publicly available from the 1970s until Gorbachev. Nothing complicated about that.

    During the Cold War a lot of people in the West believed that the USSR exaggerated Moscow’s population by a factor of magnitude and that the real figure in the 1980s was below 1 million.

    The opinions of anonymous crazy people is not germane to this discussion.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    Robert Heinlein was the opposite of anonymous in his day: a celebrity.
  24. @Glossy
    Most of the leadership of the country being themselves vodka-drenched alcoholics (Yeltsin was not an atypical representative of this class).

    That's not my impression. Who was an alcoholic, Khruschev, Brezhnev, Kosygin, Gromyko, Schelokov, Suslov, Grishin? I don't remember reading that about any of them.

    Brezhnev was a functional alcoholic who steadily became less functional.

    Mark Schrad in Vodka Politics:

    Brezhnev embodied the corruption, decay, and drunkenness that mushroomed in Soviet society under his tutelage. Dour and stodgy, he had none of the in-your-face exuberance of Khrushchev. Some of his closest associates depict Brezhnev as an unstable and increasingly senile alcoholic who, in failing health, stumbled into such disastrous decisions as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Anatoly Dobrynin—the Soviet ambassador to the United States—seemed particularly irked by Brezhnev’s incessant drinking, especially since he was usually on the receiving end of the general secretary’s drunken, late-night, prank calls on the Kremlin’s hotline to the Soviet embassy in Washington. After Brezhnev’s death, his longtime foreign minister Andrei Gromyko was asked whether Brezhnev had a serious drinking problem. “The answer,” he replied after a reflective pause, “is Yes, Yes, Yes.” Gromyko admitted “It was perfectly obvious that the last person willing to look at this problem was the general secretary himself.”

    Chernenko was an alcoholic.

    Grigory Romanov was an alcoholic.

    Of course there were plenty of people who were not alcoholics. Gromyko was a temperate drinker who tried to curtail Brezhnev’s excesses. Egor Ligachev (still alive; age 96) was an outright teetotaller.

    But heavy drinking within the CPSU was very widespread just as in the rest of Soviet society.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov

    who, in failing health, stumbled into such disastrous decisions as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979
     
    Again, dubious. This decision had General Staff written all over it, an organization in which alcoholism was not conducive to promotion, to put it mildly. In general, decision on Politburo were made on the base of consensus. I wouldn't be using sources dedicated to "study" of vodka consumption when dealing with what was a very important and long delayed, in a light of islamization of Soviet Middle Asia, decision. So, the term "stumbling" is not a good term and the problem was, and very much remains today, extremely serious. If not for real alcoholic and low life Yeltsin, who withdrew support of Najibullah, we would have today a much more controlled problem in Afghanistan. In general, in English language I would suggest Lester Grau and his assessments of Soviet campaign in Afghanistan. Vodka had no role in decision on invasion.
    , @AP
    Yanayev was an out of control alcoholic also.

    Much of the central committee and their senior staff could probably be considered functional alcoholics. Not as bad as Yeltsin, or Yanayev, or Brezhnev*, but regular very heavy drinkers.

    * I heard funny stories about him racing cars on his own track out in the woods - this was his life's passion.

    , @Glossy
    "Brezhnev embodied the corruption, decay, and drunkenness that mushroomed in Soviet society under his tutelage"

    OK, thank you for characterizing so well this previously unknown to me Mark Schrad person. I'll make sure to steer clear of his writings.

    Corruption and decay didn't mushroom or thrive under Brezhnev. If Mr. Schrad lies so easily about society at large, why should I believe anything he says about Brezhnev?

    If Brezhnev and the other members of the party leadership were corrupt, why didn't they live like rich men? If they were corrupt, why didn't they betray the country to its enemies in the Yeltsin manner? There's definitely money in THAT.

    There was some bribery at the personal, citizen level, and surely higher than that in Central Asia, but the amounts weren't remarkable by global standards, and how can Brezhnev be blamed for it anyway? He didn't execute people for 100-ruble bribes as Stalin probably did? That's humanitarianism.
    , @Glossy
    I see that Mr. Schrad calls the 1979 USSR-Afghanistan events an invasion. When a country's official government, the current holder of its UN seat, invites you, that's not an invasion. What the US did to Afghanistan in 2001 was an invasion, what the USSR did in 1979 wasn't.

    And he called it disastrous. Wow. I have a feeling that Mr. Schrad wouldn't approve of anything on this blog: your opinion of Putin, Novorossiya, Assad, Trump, anything at all. Except for the USSR.

    How did the USSR's involvement in Afghanistan compare to the US involvement in Vietnam and Korea in humanitarian, economic, societal, etc. terms? Does Mr. Schrad condemn the other side in the Cold War for anything at all?
  25. @gjgj
    Your defense of this:

    "Just like the trends with fertility and mortality, this too can be considered a return to “demographic normality” after the Soviet aberration."

    Is basically the social policy version of people who say Soviets faked all their economic data (without explaining how it was possible for an agrarian country to turn into a major industrial one without sustained gdp growth).

    If Yeltsin/Putin didn't disclose that "fertility and mortality" stats were fake under USSR - which would have helped them enormously politically in the 90's/early 2000's - and still use them today then this argument is just a cop out.

    Fertility is still way bellow late Soviet period and Mortality is still way above the late Soviet period. And this is after 25 years! Mortality should be way below Soviet periods. All the murder/alcohol poisoning/etc statistics are a belated return to 1990 - a waste of two decades. The only thing the current government has improved singularly from the Soviet era is the suicide rate.

    "Sustained rise in infant mortality during peacetime" is false - there was a mild rise in the early 1970's and decline continued (the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality estimation has a non-ending decline from RSFSR to RF).

    And you're really fetishizing alcohol as main factor in mortality. I know its popular in english-language literature but its patently reductionist to the point of absurdity. And with illegal alcohol purchases included alcohol consumption in Russia has only decreased by a tiny fraction in the past 5 years (while external deaths fell by 1/2, 1/3, etc.) So if by "diversity of choice" you mean the general population now is now blessed to be too poor to consume goods it doesn't fit with the trends of the drastic social improvements of the past 5 years.

    Is basically the social policy version of people who say Soviets faked all their economic data (without explaining how it was possible for an agrarian country to turn into a major industrial one without sustained gdp growth).

    Easy. By getting most peasants off the land and into urban factories.

    Many other countries did that in the 20th century. Nothing special about it.

    If Yeltsin/Putin didn’t disclose that “fertility and mortality” stats were fake under USSR…

    Not fake, hidden. Because it was embarassing for the regime.

    … Mortality is still way above the late Soviet period. And this is after 25 years! Mortality should be way below Soviet periods.

    Mortality is higher now because there the population is older today than in the late Soviet period.

    Life expectancy, which adjusts for age structure, is the highest it has ever been as of 2016.

    And you’re really fetishizing alcohol as main factor in mortality. I know its popular in english-language literature but its patently reductionist to the point of absurdity.

    It is not just the English-language literature, the best person on this topic is Alexander Nemtsov, who is 100% Russian.

    I am also not sure that a person who apparently doesn’t know the difference between mortality rates and life expectancy can have much to contribute on this subject.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    In the first half of the 20th C only two countries transitioned from agrarian to industrial. Japan and Russia. (In both cases the process was well underway by the 1880's and education was a strong component). Russia did shift peasants but compared to Western EU countries, it still has a large proportion of its population living in rural areas. Just abandoning villages is still a way forward for economic growth through adding more people. Commercial farmers prefer to avoid the drunks, still common in villages, by moving or bussing in people from nearby towns when possible. And there is the eternal problem of motivating the Muzhik. I am reading a book written in 1905 by an Englishman who arrived in Russia in 1871. It explains a lot. Forget the Soviet experience, it might never have happened. Nicholas I carries more responsibility for modern Russia good and ill, than Stalin.
  26. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Brezhnev was a functional alcoholic who steadily became less functional.

    Mark Schrad in Vodka Politics:

    Brezhnev embodied the corruption, decay, and drunkenness that mushroomed in Soviet society under his tutelage. Dour and stodgy, he had none of the in-your-face exuberance of Khrushchev. Some of his closest associates depict Brezhnev as an unstable and increasingly senile alcoholic who, in failing health, stumbled into such disastrous decisions as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Anatoly Dobrynin—the Soviet ambassador to the United States—seemed particularly irked by Brezhnev’s incessant drinking, especially since he was usually on the receiving end of the general secretary’s drunken, late-night, prank calls on the Kremlin’s hotline to the Soviet embassy in Washington. After Brezhnev’s death, his longtime foreign minister Andrei Gromyko was asked whether Brezhnev had a serious drinking problem. “The answer,” he replied after a reflective pause, “is Yes, Yes, Yes.” Gromyko admitted “It was perfectly obvious that the last person willing to look at this problem was the general secretary himself.”
     
    Chernenko was an alcoholic.

    Grigory Romanov was an alcoholic.

    Of course there were plenty of people who were not alcoholics. Gromyko was a temperate drinker who tried to curtail Brezhnev's excesses. Egor Ligachev (still alive; age 96) was an outright teetotaller.

    But heavy drinking within the CPSU was very widespread just as in the rest of Soviet society.

    who, in failing health, stumbled into such disastrous decisions as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979

    Again, dubious. This decision had General Staff written all over it, an organization in which alcoholism was not conducive to promotion, to put it mildly. In general, decision on Politburo were made on the base of consensus. I wouldn’t be using sources dedicated to “study” of vodka consumption when dealing with what was a very important and long delayed, in a light of islamization of Soviet Middle Asia, decision. So, the term “stumbling” is not a good term and the problem was, and very much remains today, extremely serious. If not for real alcoholic and low life Yeltsin, who withdrew support of Najibullah, we would have today a much more controlled problem in Afghanistan. In general, in English language I would suggest Lester Grau and his assessments of Soviet campaign in Afghanistan. Vodka had no role in decision on invasion.

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    The question, in view of how relatively well Najibullah was working without Soviet troops, is could one have got there from the situation in 1978-79 without the intervention?
  27. I sent the piece on the removal of the age ceiling for counting the economically active before I read this. Removal of the age ceiling will increase the statistic for available workforce. Russians are not just reaching 72 years old. They are also apparently having longer healthy life spans.

    The price of vodka went up this week after a long debate.

    The problem creeping up now is diabetes which often produces the same death certificate, something cardiovascular, as alcohol. Maybe not creeping but arriving fast.

    Read More
  28. @Anatoly Karlin

    Is basically the social policy version of people who say Soviets faked all their economic data (without explaining how it was possible for an agrarian country to turn into a major industrial one without sustained gdp growth).
     
    Easy. By getting most peasants off the land and into urban factories.

    Many other countries did that in the 20th century. Nothing special about it.

    If Yeltsin/Putin didn’t disclose that “fertility and mortality” stats were fake under USSR...
     
    Not fake, hidden. Because it was embarassing for the regime.

    ... Mortality is still way above the late Soviet period. And this is after 25 years! Mortality should be way below Soviet periods.
     
    Mortality is higher now because there the population is older today than in the late Soviet period.

    Life expectancy, which adjusts for age structure, is the highest it has ever been as of 2016.

    And you’re really fetishizing alcohol as main factor in mortality. I know its popular in english-language literature but its patently reductionist to the point of absurdity.
     
    It is not just the English-language literature, the best person on this topic is Alexander Nemtsov, who is 100% Russian.

    I am also not sure that a person who apparently doesn't know the difference between mortality rates and life expectancy can have much to contribute on this subject.

    In the first half of the 20th C only two countries transitioned from agrarian to industrial. Japan and Russia. (In both cases the process was well underway by the 1880′s and education was a strong component). Russia did shift peasants but compared to Western EU countries, it still has a large proportion of its population living in rural areas. Just abandoning villages is still a way forward for economic growth through adding more people. Commercial farmers prefer to avoid the drunks, still common in villages, by moving or bussing in people from nearby towns when possible. And there is the eternal problem of motivating the Muzhik. I am reading a book written in 1905 by an Englishman who arrived in Russia in 1871. It explains a lot. Forget the Soviet experience, it might never have happened. Nicholas I carries more responsibility for modern Russia good and ill, than Stalin.

    Read More
    • Replies: @melanf
    "Nicholas I carries more responsibility for modern Russia good and ill, than Stalin."

    And how Nicholas I determined the fate of Russia? It was an honest man of average abilities, who follow the course of events. Russia has not undergone a revolutionary transformation under the rule of Nicholas I
    , @Herzog

    I am reading a book written in 1905 by an Englishman who arrived in Russia in 1871. It explains a lot.
     
    Sounds interesting, care to divulge the title?
  29. @Anatoly Karlin
    This is asking for far too much. Trump might be gone in four years, the predictions markets say there is a 20% chance he'd be gone even earlier, whereas China will continue to border Russia indefinitely. I don't think there is anything that Trump can realistically offer to make that a worthwhile trade for Russia. That ship left port in the early 2000s.

    The same prediction markets that were so sure Clinton would beat Trump?

    Trump may die of simple old age or heart attack (I do wish he’d lose a few pounds) or yes, he may be assassinated as many sickos on the Left would love.

    Other than that, though, I’ll predict that he is not impeached and that he has a close re-election contest in 2020 — winning both the popular vote (narrowly) and the electoral vote (not so narrowly) if he merely stays out of corruption, KEEPS US OUT OF WAR, achieves some deportations and reduction in illegal immigration, and makes even small cuts to overall federal spending and annual deficits. Some honest effort and 50% results on major campaign promises, and a mere lessening of war and borrowing, would be enough at this stage in our pathetic history of presidents.

    You do seem right, though, that it will be hard to make up for the dishonest, belligerent, and unreasonable conduct of the US toward Russia in the past 26 years since the USSR dissolved. Neither Russia nor anyone else would be wise to trust the US government, whether foe, rival, or alleged “friend” or “ally.” Hell, we the American people trust the US government — I no longer say “our” government — less all the time.

    Russia would do well to boost cooperation and trade with the USA but not distance itself from China either. Putin surely is smart and practical enough to realize that.

    Read More
  30. AP says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Brezhnev was a functional alcoholic who steadily became less functional.

    Mark Schrad in Vodka Politics:

    Brezhnev embodied the corruption, decay, and drunkenness that mushroomed in Soviet society under his tutelage. Dour and stodgy, he had none of the in-your-face exuberance of Khrushchev. Some of his closest associates depict Brezhnev as an unstable and increasingly senile alcoholic who, in failing health, stumbled into such disastrous decisions as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Anatoly Dobrynin—the Soviet ambassador to the United States—seemed particularly irked by Brezhnev’s incessant drinking, especially since he was usually on the receiving end of the general secretary’s drunken, late-night, prank calls on the Kremlin’s hotline to the Soviet embassy in Washington. After Brezhnev’s death, his longtime foreign minister Andrei Gromyko was asked whether Brezhnev had a serious drinking problem. “The answer,” he replied after a reflective pause, “is Yes, Yes, Yes.” Gromyko admitted “It was perfectly obvious that the last person willing to look at this problem was the general secretary himself.”
     
    Chernenko was an alcoholic.

    Grigory Romanov was an alcoholic.

    Of course there were plenty of people who were not alcoholics. Gromyko was a temperate drinker who tried to curtail Brezhnev's excesses. Egor Ligachev (still alive; age 96) was an outright teetotaller.

    But heavy drinking within the CPSU was very widespread just as in the rest of Soviet society.

    Yanayev was an out of control alcoholic also.

    Much of the central committee and their senior staff could probably be considered functional alcoholics. Not as bad as Yeltsin, or Yanayev, or Brezhnev*, but regular very heavy drinkers.

    * I heard funny stories about him racing cars on his own track out in the woods – this was his life’s passion.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    What's Porky's life passion, besides killing children and old ladies? Building tacky palaces for himself with frescos depicting himself? Rumor has it that he drinks a lot too, though I admit that this is less well-documented than the child-killing and the tacky palaces.
  31. Glossy says: • Website
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Brezhnev was a functional alcoholic who steadily became less functional.

    Mark Schrad in Vodka Politics:

    Brezhnev embodied the corruption, decay, and drunkenness that mushroomed in Soviet society under his tutelage. Dour and stodgy, he had none of the in-your-face exuberance of Khrushchev. Some of his closest associates depict Brezhnev as an unstable and increasingly senile alcoholic who, in failing health, stumbled into such disastrous decisions as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Anatoly Dobrynin—the Soviet ambassador to the United States—seemed particularly irked by Brezhnev’s incessant drinking, especially since he was usually on the receiving end of the general secretary’s drunken, late-night, prank calls on the Kremlin’s hotline to the Soviet embassy in Washington. After Brezhnev’s death, his longtime foreign minister Andrei Gromyko was asked whether Brezhnev had a serious drinking problem. “The answer,” he replied after a reflective pause, “is Yes, Yes, Yes.” Gromyko admitted “It was perfectly obvious that the last person willing to look at this problem was the general secretary himself.”
     
    Chernenko was an alcoholic.

    Grigory Romanov was an alcoholic.

    Of course there were plenty of people who were not alcoholics. Gromyko was a temperate drinker who tried to curtail Brezhnev's excesses. Egor Ligachev (still alive; age 96) was an outright teetotaller.

    But heavy drinking within the CPSU was very widespread just as in the rest of Soviet society.

    “Brezhnev embodied the corruption, decay, and drunkenness that mushroomed in Soviet society under his tutelage”

    OK, thank you for characterizing so well this previously unknown to me Mark Schrad person. I’ll make sure to steer clear of his writings.

    Corruption and decay didn’t mushroom or thrive under Brezhnev. If Mr. Schrad lies so easily about society at large, why should I believe anything he says about Brezhnev?

    If Brezhnev and the other members of the party leadership were corrupt, why didn’t they live like rich men? If they were corrupt, why didn’t they betray the country to its enemies in the Yeltsin manner? There’s definitely money in THAT.

    There was some bribery at the personal, citizen level, and surely higher than that in Central Asia, but the amounts weren’t remarkable by global standards, and how can Brezhnev be blamed for it anyway? He didn’t execute people for 100-ruble bribes as Stalin probably did? That’s humanitarianism.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    "If you're corrupt, why aren't you rich?" - I like that phrase. Anyway, things of that sort acquire meaning in comparison. There was many times less corruption under Brezhnev than under Yeltsin. And party leaders were less corrupt personally than the Western leaders of their day. I doubt Mr. Schrad, whoever he is, would admit that.
    , @Anatoly Karlin

    If Mr. Schrad lies so easily about society at large, why should I believe anything he says about Brezhnev?
     
    Whaling ship captain with a side gig in ivory traficking, making gifts all the way up to Brezhnev himself - Treisman's The Return, a very reasonable book.

    Brezhnev's daughter Galina: Massive diamond traficking, though formal charges dismissed on account of her connections.

    Plenty of corruption to go round, though it certainly wasn't as bad it would later become.

    I see that Mr. Schrad calls the 1979 USSR-Afghanistan events an invasion.
     
    That is a legitimate point.

    I have a feeling that Mr. Schrad wouldn’t approve of anything on this blog: your opinion of Putin, Novorossiya, Assad, Trump, anything at all. Except for the USSR.
     
    I have corresponded a few times with him and a couple of my demographics articles are referenced in Vodka Politics. He has also occasionally commented here back in the Da Russophile days.

    We agree about 70%-80% on Russian demographics.

    He isn't a fan of Putin but nor is he a PDS sufferer either.

    Robert Heinlein was the opposite of anonymous in his day: a celebrity.
     
    I was replying specifically to this:

    During the Cold War a lot of people in the West believed that the USSR exaggerated Moscow’s population by a factor of magnitude and that the real figure in the 1980s was below 1 million. I’ve spoken to people who still believe that. Unfortunately I was not able to convince them that they’re wrong.
     
  32. Glossy says: • Website
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Brezhnev was a functional alcoholic who steadily became less functional.

    Mark Schrad in Vodka Politics:

    Brezhnev embodied the corruption, decay, and drunkenness that mushroomed in Soviet society under his tutelage. Dour and stodgy, he had none of the in-your-face exuberance of Khrushchev. Some of his closest associates depict Brezhnev as an unstable and increasingly senile alcoholic who, in failing health, stumbled into such disastrous decisions as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Anatoly Dobrynin—the Soviet ambassador to the United States—seemed particularly irked by Brezhnev’s incessant drinking, especially since he was usually on the receiving end of the general secretary’s drunken, late-night, prank calls on the Kremlin’s hotline to the Soviet embassy in Washington. After Brezhnev’s death, his longtime foreign minister Andrei Gromyko was asked whether Brezhnev had a serious drinking problem. “The answer,” he replied after a reflective pause, “is Yes, Yes, Yes.” Gromyko admitted “It was perfectly obvious that the last person willing to look at this problem was the general secretary himself.”
     
    Chernenko was an alcoholic.

    Grigory Romanov was an alcoholic.

    Of course there were plenty of people who were not alcoholics. Gromyko was a temperate drinker who tried to curtail Brezhnev's excesses. Egor Ligachev (still alive; age 96) was an outright teetotaller.

    But heavy drinking within the CPSU was very widespread just as in the rest of Soviet society.

    I see that Mr. Schrad calls the 1979 USSR-Afghanistan events an invasion. When a country’s official government, the current holder of its UN seat, invites you, that’s not an invasion. What the US did to Afghanistan in 2001 was an invasion, what the USSR did in 1979 wasn’t.

    And he called it disastrous. Wow. I have a feeling that Mr. Schrad wouldn’t approve of anything on this blog: your opinion of Putin, Novorossiya, Assad, Trump, anything at all. Except for the USSR.

    How did the USSR’s involvement in Afghanistan compare to the US involvement in Vietnam and Korea in humanitarian, economic, societal, etc. terms? Does Mr. Schrad condemn the other side in the Cold War for anything at all?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Gerard2
    An excellent comment. He was sober enough year later to not entangle the USSR into a less bloody but far more politically damaging situation if they had put-down the protests in Poland a year later. The US , with that twat Brzezinski advising Carter, had let it be known to the USSR that it wouldn't be tolerated and the US would have openly acted against the USSR there
    , @syonredux

    And he called it disastrous.
     
    Well, I wouldn't exactly call the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan a roaring success....

    How did the USSR’s involvement in Afghanistan compare to the US involvement in Vietnam and Korea in humanitarian, economic, societal, etc. terms?
     
    Of course, the USSR was pretty heavily involved in the Korean business.....Stalin, after all, gave Kim permission to invade.....
  33. Glossy says: • Website
    @Anatoly Karlin

    So the life expectancy and child mortality statistics you’re citing aren’t official Soviet statistics of the time?
     
    They are official statistics that were not publicly available from the 1970s until Gorbachev. Nothing complicated about that.

    During the Cold War a lot of people in the West believed that the USSR exaggerated Moscow’s population by a factor of magnitude and that the real figure in the 1980s was below 1 million.
     
    The opinions of anonymous crazy people is not germane to this discussion.

    Robert Heinlein was the opposite of anonymous in his day: a celebrity.

    Read More
  34. Glossy says: • Website
    @Glossy
    "Brezhnev embodied the corruption, decay, and drunkenness that mushroomed in Soviet society under his tutelage"

    OK, thank you for characterizing so well this previously unknown to me Mark Schrad person. I'll make sure to steer clear of his writings.

    Corruption and decay didn't mushroom or thrive under Brezhnev. If Mr. Schrad lies so easily about society at large, why should I believe anything he says about Brezhnev?

    If Brezhnev and the other members of the party leadership were corrupt, why didn't they live like rich men? If they were corrupt, why didn't they betray the country to its enemies in the Yeltsin manner? There's definitely money in THAT.

    There was some bribery at the personal, citizen level, and surely higher than that in Central Asia, but the amounts weren't remarkable by global standards, and how can Brezhnev be blamed for it anyway? He didn't execute people for 100-ruble bribes as Stalin probably did? That's humanitarianism.

    “If you’re corrupt, why aren’t you rich?” – I like that phrase. Anyway, things of that sort acquire meaning in comparison. There was many times less corruption under Brezhnev than under Yeltsin. And party leaders were less corrupt personally than the Western leaders of their day. I doubt Mr. Schrad, whoever he is, would admit that.

    Read More
  35. Glossy says: • Website
    @AP
    Yanayev was an out of control alcoholic also.

    Much of the central committee and their senior staff could probably be considered functional alcoholics. Not as bad as Yeltsin, or Yanayev, or Brezhnev*, but regular very heavy drinkers.

    * I heard funny stories about him racing cars on his own track out in the woods - this was his life's passion.

    What’s Porky’s life passion, besides killing children and old ladies? Building tacky palaces for himself with frescos depicting himself? Rumor has it that he drinks a lot too, though I admit that this is less well-documented than the child-killing and the tacky palaces.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    Interesting way of deflecting from the reality of massive alcohol consumption in the later Soviet era.

    What’s Porky’s life passion, besides killing children and old ladies?
     
    Remind me of the civilian death toll in the two Chechen wars and in Syria.

    If Russia had either invaded and occupied right away, or had chosen not to allow weapons and volunteers to enter Ukrainian territory (thus preventing the Ukrainian to reestablish control over its territory, as Russia did in Chechnya), the death toll would have been about the same as in Kharkiv or Odessa. Considerably less than 10,000. Yet somehow you blame the guy who is after all establishing control of Ukraine's government on Ukraine's own territory, rather than the guy sending arms and volunteers into another country's territory, for the deaths in that country.

    Rumor has it that he drinks a lot too,
     
    I wouldn't doubt it. So?

    He is much less of a drunkard than was Brezhnev, or Yanayev, or Yeltsin. Brezhnev's daughter Galina was also a notorious alcoholic.
    , @Gerard2
    HAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Brilliant.....and accurate
  36. @Glossy
    "Brezhnev embodied the corruption, decay, and drunkenness that mushroomed in Soviet society under his tutelage"

    OK, thank you for characterizing so well this previously unknown to me Mark Schrad person. I'll make sure to steer clear of his writings.

    Corruption and decay didn't mushroom or thrive under Brezhnev. If Mr. Schrad lies so easily about society at large, why should I believe anything he says about Brezhnev?

    If Brezhnev and the other members of the party leadership were corrupt, why didn't they live like rich men? If they were corrupt, why didn't they betray the country to its enemies in the Yeltsin manner? There's definitely money in THAT.

    There was some bribery at the personal, citizen level, and surely higher than that in Central Asia, but the amounts weren't remarkable by global standards, and how can Brezhnev be blamed for it anyway? He didn't execute people for 100-ruble bribes as Stalin probably did? That's humanitarianism.

    If Mr. Schrad lies so easily about society at large, why should I believe anything he says about Brezhnev?

    Whaling ship captain with a side gig in ivory traficking, making gifts all the way up to Brezhnev himself – Treisman’s The Return, a very reasonable book.

    Brezhnev’s daughter Galina: Massive diamond traficking, though formal charges dismissed on account of her connections.

    Plenty of corruption to go round, though it certainly wasn’t as bad it would later become.

    I see that Mr. Schrad calls the 1979 USSR-Afghanistan events an invasion.

    That is a legitimate point.

    I have a feeling that Mr. Schrad wouldn’t approve of anything on this blog: your opinion of Putin, Novorossiya, Assad, Trump, anything at all. Except for the USSR.

    I have corresponded a few times with him and a couple of my demographics articles are referenced in Vodka Politics. He has also occasionally commented here back in the Da Russophile days.

    We agree about 70%-80% on Russian demographics.

    He isn’t a fan of Putin but nor is he a PDS sufferer either.

    Robert Heinlein was the opposite of anonymous in his day: a celebrity.

    I was replying specifically to this:

    During the Cold War a lot of people in the West believed that the USSR exaggerated Moscow’s population by a factor of magnitude and that the real figure in the 1980s was below 1 million. I’ve spoken to people who still believe that. Unfortunately I was not able to convince them that they’re wrong.

    Read More
  37. m___ says:

    Healthy “state of the Nation”, apart from that not much to hint to, there is little variables mentioned that play out to any conclusions, the article is a summery that has no second layer.

    The importance or not, in the presence of other factors(oil in the case of Russia) and planetary factors, the planetary economics of fossil fuels, of a densely populated geographical entity as compared to a sparsely populated larger area is what interests us.

    Please crystal-ball some peek into the future — also using population. You only have to publish once a year, even at the cost of relevancy. We know you can tackle something more ambitious.

    Read More
  38. Questions for Anatoly:

    1. Are you pro Soviet now? I’m confused.

    2. Is it true that there is a difference between Soviet “nationalism” and ethnic Russian nationalism? Which is more popular in contemporary Russia?

    3. What do you think of that homo The Saker? Do you agree that he is a homo?

    4. Since you now live in Russia, do you have a hot Russian girlfriend? Do you think 16-25 year old Russian girls are hotter than non-fat, white and Latina American girls of the same age?

    5. If your demographics are so great, does that mean Russia can donate some whites to the West so we can rebalance our own demographics? Our lands are filled with muds, as you know first hand.

    6. When you think, are the thoughts in your own head in Russian or in English?

    7. Are you going to do an Unz meetup with Boris N?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
    I believe the answers to all of your questions are here:

    https://www.patreon.com/akarlin

    BTW, AK - do the sanctions keep you from getting your Patreon? A Russian friend of mine was concerned about such.
  39. AP says:
    @Glossy
    What's Porky's life passion, besides killing children and old ladies? Building tacky palaces for himself with frescos depicting himself? Rumor has it that he drinks a lot too, though I admit that this is less well-documented than the child-killing and the tacky palaces.

    Interesting way of deflecting from the reality of massive alcohol consumption in the later Soviet era.

    What’s Porky’s life passion, besides killing children and old ladies?

    Remind me of the civilian death toll in the two Chechen wars and in Syria.

    If Russia had either invaded and occupied right away, or had chosen not to allow weapons and volunteers to enter Ukrainian territory (thus preventing the Ukrainian to reestablish control over its territory, as Russia did in Chechnya), the death toll would have been about the same as in Kharkiv or Odessa. Considerably less than 10,000. Yet somehow you blame the guy who is after all establishing control of Ukraine’s government on Ukraine’s own territory, rather than the guy sending arms and volunteers into another country’s territory, for the deaths in that country.

    Rumor has it that he drinks a lot too,

    I wouldn’t doubt it. So?

    He is much less of a drunkard than was Brezhnev, or Yanayev, or Yeltsin. Brezhnev’s daughter Galina was also a notorious alcoholic.

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    A chicken isn't a bird, and the Ukraine is not a country.
    , @Gerard2
    Russia hasnt been killing civilians in Syria you Galician piece of shit. It should be added that the rate of civilian deaths in the Syrian Civil War has decreased since Russia turned up you fucktard and have likely shortened the duration and victims of this war significantly

    If Russia had either invaded and occupied right away, or had chosen not to allow weapons and volunteers to enter Ukrainian territory
     
    errr.....Ukraine killing civilians is Russia's fault? What a lowlife sack of faeces attention-whore troll liar you are. The UkroNazis had no right to do this . Ukraine were sending tanks,(Russian) planes to bomb civilian or administrative facilities, using snipers to kill civilians before any significant military hardware or fighters came over the border you retard . There were tonnes of weapons and civilians with military experience willing to fight the Nazi regime you dumb prick. You idiots just have to try and hide the embarrassing fact that a weaker resourced LOCAL bunch of miners are kicking the shit out of you idiots and controlling areas with millions of people. Russia has no fault in this.

    Russia killed terrorists ( who Shevardnadze in Georgia was conducive to) in Chechnya you lying prick not civilians as the Kiev regime is doing- both Chechen wars were not initiated by Putin and the first was initiated by a situation of mass crime and where hundreds of thousands of ethnic Russians were forced out of Chechnya over 4 years. Russia maintained constant dialogue with the Chechen side...and unlike the Kiev scum....paid out pensions and other services to the Chechen population


    Most importantly the 2 Chechen wars & Syrian wars were fully just wars against ACTUAL terrorists- not the pointless, evil war brought by Nazis and insecure sacks of faeces like you to the people of the Donbass who even the USA and the rest of the west havent come close to calling terrorists- thus giving Ukraine no legal ,moral or common sense basis to destroy the country


    I wouldn’t doubt it. So?
     
    Not common in the modern era to have alcoholic head of state in a puppet regime propped up by billions in American and IMF money you cretin
  40. melanf says:
    @Philip Owen
    In the first half of the 20th C only two countries transitioned from agrarian to industrial. Japan and Russia. (In both cases the process was well underway by the 1880's and education was a strong component). Russia did shift peasants but compared to Western EU countries, it still has a large proportion of its population living in rural areas. Just abandoning villages is still a way forward for economic growth through adding more people. Commercial farmers prefer to avoid the drunks, still common in villages, by moving or bussing in people from nearby towns when possible. And there is the eternal problem of motivating the Muzhik. I am reading a book written in 1905 by an Englishman who arrived in Russia in 1871. It explains a lot. Forget the Soviet experience, it might never have happened. Nicholas I carries more responsibility for modern Russia good and ill, than Stalin.

    “Nicholas I carries more responsibility for modern Russia good and ill, than Stalin.”

    And how Nicholas I determined the fate of Russia? It was an honest man of average abilities, who follow the course of events. Russia has not undergone a revolutionary transformation under the rule of Nicholas I

    Read More
    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    Nicholas I did some good work in economic and technical development; he was an engineer by training. For example, he pushed for the railway line from St Petersburg to Moscow.

    He also created modern Eurasianism, a style of thought which still afflicts Russia. He set up the Third Department, bureaucratically, the ancestor of the MVD and KGB. He managed to get Britain and France to combine with Turkey and Austria against him by launching an attack to capture Constantinople via Bessarabia. (The ultimate aim was the conquest of India). This is the source of the continuing Russian reputation for political aggression.

    This is a taster. There is much else to discuss. You can research it yourself.
  41. Herzog says:
    @Philip Owen
    In the first half of the 20th C only two countries transitioned from agrarian to industrial. Japan and Russia. (In both cases the process was well underway by the 1880's and education was a strong component). Russia did shift peasants but compared to Western EU countries, it still has a large proportion of its population living in rural areas. Just abandoning villages is still a way forward for economic growth through adding more people. Commercial farmers prefer to avoid the drunks, still common in villages, by moving or bussing in people from nearby towns when possible. And there is the eternal problem of motivating the Muzhik. I am reading a book written in 1905 by an Englishman who arrived in Russia in 1871. It explains a lot. Forget the Soviet experience, it might never have happened. Nicholas I carries more responsibility for modern Russia good and ill, than Stalin.

    I am reading a book written in 1905 by an Englishman who arrived in Russia in 1871. It explains a lot.

    Sounds interesting, care to divulge the title?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    It has the totally original title of "Russia". The author was Donald Mackenzie Wallace and it is free on Amazon Kindle. I am a specialist on Russia. I have a business there and from time to time I am involved in agriculture so I found the sections on the peasant family and the commune gripping. A non specialist may find those chapters the same as I found the first few which described the state of the Russian roads, a bit of a trudge. The chapter in between, on village priests, explains much about Russian attitudes to priests and religion even today, even for a non specialist. It is a huge book. Kindle says that I have another 9 hours to go. He discusses German settlement in Russia.

    An interesting web site, particularly for background on the Ukrainian crisis, dating from 1931 is
    http://www.garethjones.org/ . The Ukrainians have honoured him as the only reporter to tell the truth about the Holomodor but if you actually read what he wrote, he is very clear that the Lower Volga and Kazhakstan suffered equally badly. He describes the situation in the Volga German Republic.

    In between the two source, the role and meaning of Kulak changed but not much. A story for another day.

  42. CB says:

    It occurred to me that it would be interesting to look at the first public edition (1975) of the CIA World Factbook to see what it has to say about Russian demographics and about the population of Moscow. While there is no reason to put absolute faith in it, it shouldn’t be too incredibly inaccurate since it was written to be useful as a reference for US government officials. Also, it could be interesting to contrast what is stated there with popular propoganda. I haven’t yet found the first edition online, though.

    Read More
  43. @sflicht
    It's pretty hard to look at these plots and not be impressed by Putin's leadership. I know, I know, a lot of these things are secular and not really directly controlled by the Russian government. But it's hard to argue with fundamentals like these.

    I don’t see any particular reason to credit this to Putin’s leadership, rather than just rebounding from the 1990s distaster?

    Russia underwent an economic collapse in the 1990s, as most ex-communist countries did, due to partly to the costs of transition. When you dismantle a centrally planned economy (which worked moderately well) in one go, with the hope of replacing it with something that worked better, you can’t expect new institutions to come into existence right away. A country with Russia’s advantages in terms of natural resources and human capital was going to recover sooner or later, it was just a matter of time.

    Read More
    • Agree: Bill
    • Replies: @Glossy
    The Ukraine has the same human capital and it hasn't really recovered. Perhaps Putin and his recovery were not inevitable.
    , @notanon
    you're ignoring the malign effects of the gangster oligarchs who took over after the collapse - compare with Ukraine where they still rule.

    once their malign influence was reduced then yes Russia should at least partly have bounced back automatically - so how was their influence reduced?
  44. Anatoly,

    Thanks for a very thoughtful piece as always, really like reading your work.

    Several questions:

    1) Can you show the raw data and your calculations for your claim that Russian TFR, ignoring Muslims and ethnic minorities, would be only 0.1 less than the total? That surprises me, as it’s a much smaller difference than one sees in western Europe, and I was under the impression that *ethnic Russian* TFR was much lower than that. I’ll try to look up your link, but I don’t know Russian.

    2) What accounts for the rise in TFR in the late 1980s? The US seems to have had a smaller increase in TFR around then, but it really surprises me they had one in Russia considering the economic decline as a result of Gorbachev’s reforms.

    3) There’s a paper floating around somewhere looking at TFR in East and West Germany, it’s pretty interesting. We tend to associate atheism, communism, and secularization with low fertility, but the GDR actually had a higher TFR than West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s (almost at replacement level, IIRC). Then of course it collapsed to the lowest level in the world after German reunification, although it seems to be back above western Germany by today.

    4) The lack of correlation between abortion laws and fertility rates has been known to me for a while, based on a superficial reading of the TFR data by country. It’s not limited to Eastern Europe either. El Salvador has one of the toughest abortion laws in the world (up to 20 year jail time for the mother, with no exceptions even to save her own life), and their TFR is now a bit below replacement and declining. Chile has a no-exception abortion law and their TFR is below America’s as well. Latin America in general is about at replacement right now (and declining) in spite of most countries having fairly tough abortion laws.

    And no, it’s not all about illegal abortions. The real issue seems to be that abortion is more of a substitute for contraception than a substitute for birth. When you legalize abortion the big change is people stop using the more effective forms of birth control, and the rate of unintended pregnancies goes up.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP

    There’s a paper floating around somewhere looking at TFR in East and West Germany, it’s pretty interesting. We tend to associate atheism, communism, and secularization with low fertility, but the GDR actually had a higher TFR than West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s (almost at replacement level, IIRC). Then of course it collapsed to the lowest level in the world after German reunification, although it seems to be back above western Germany by today
     
    Interesting. Within Ukraine the TFR drop was at the 1939 border: the regions that were Soviet prior to 1939 have significantly lower TFR than those that were not Soviet prior to 1939. This is true even of areas that prior to the Revolution had both been part of the same Russian province.

    In 1921 the old Russian province of Volynia was divided between Poland and the USSR. In 2013, the two modern oblasts of Volyn and Rivne that had been in Poland prior to 1939 had TFR of 1.86 and 2.0 respectively, while the oblast of Zhytomir that had been in the USSR prior to 1939 had a TFR of only 1.68.

    The map of Ukraine's natural population growth in 2009 follows the 1939 USSR border:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Ukraine#/media/File:Ukraine_natural_population_growth_rates.png

    , @Glossy
    Here's a table of TFR by region of Russia:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_federal_subjects_of_Russia_by_total_fertility_rate

    The Central Federal District is the most ethnically Russian one. Every region there except for Moscow is almost mono-ethnic. The North Caucasus Federal District is the least ethnically Russian. Others are a mix of this and that.

    What accounts for the rise in TFR in the late 1980s? The US seems to have had a smaller increase in TFR around then, but it really surprises me they had one in Russia considering the economic decline as a result of Gorbachev’s reforms.

    When Gorbachev came to power, he was very anxious to show everyone how modern, cool, hip and forward-looking he was. He's an extremely vain man. He wanted to be remembered as a reformer, not like the senile, boring Brezhnev and co.

    His first reform was actually very good. He restricted the supply of alcohol and that quickly improved lots of social statistics. What Antatoly says about the Crimean vinyards is true and lamentable, but on a net basis the anti-alcohol campaign did a lot of good.

    Unfortunately Gorbachev got bored with it after about 3 years. He needed other things to demonstrate how cool and reformist he was, and there was this body of thought lying around which always advertised itself as being cool - socially leftist market-based Western liberalism. When he started moving in that direction, he was lionized by the Western press and by local, Soviet intelligentsia, which had been leftist for decades. That was like catnip to him. So he went further and further in that direction, and that ended up destroying the country.

    I'm quite sure that he didn't want to destroy the USSR and drown its peoples in poverty and ethnic warfare. He thought his reforms would improve things. I imagine that king Juan Carlos in Spain and F. W DeKlerk in S. Africa had similar motivations - to be liked by the cool people, to be known as forward-looking reformers, the opposite of old, stiff and stodgy. The big lesson here is that vanity kills.
    , @Anatoly Karlin

    1) Can you show the raw data and your calculations for your claim that Russian TFR, ignoring Muslims and ethnic minorities, would be only 0.1 less than the total?
     
    I haven't done any calculation but I will explain my logic.

    That link (http://demoscope.ru/weekly/2012/0531/tema06.php) tabulates completed fertility rates (e.g. for 50-54 year old women, who are hardly going to be reproducing any more) for Russians, other ethnic groups, and the RSFSR/RF as a whole for the 1979, 1989, 2002, and 2010 censuses.

    The Russians vs. total TFR difference is, respectively: 0.13; 0.17; 0.08; and 0.08 children.

    Why is this differential going down even as the share of more fertility minorities increases? Because their fertility rates are going down relative quicker, due to their demographic transitions having generally occured more recently than ethnic Russians'.

    So a 0.1 children difference is a valid back of the envelope estimate, it might even be a bit conservative.

    What accounts for the rise in TFR in the late 1980s? The US seems to have had a smaller increase in TFR around then, but it really surprises me they had one in Russia considering the economic decline as a result of Gorbachev’s reforms.
     
    I have no particular insight on the causes of that particular fertility upswing.

    The Soviet economy was growing slowly for most of the Gorbachev period. Consumer goods availability increased in the late 1980s. The collapse only started from around mid-1990.

    We tend to associate atheism, communism, and secularization with low fertility, but the GDR actually had a higher TFR than West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s (almost at replacement level, IIRC).
     
    Like most of the socialist camp, the GDR had a pro-natality policy, which even included some soft pro-eugenics elements (e.g. making it easy for college students to have children).
  45. 5371 says:
    @Andrei Martyanov

    Most of the leadership of the country being themselves vodka-drenched alcoholics (Yeltsin was not an atypical representative of this class).
     
    A very dubious statement. Yeltsin sooner can be relegated to exceptions rather than rules.

    Andropov certainly strikes me as the sort of person who got other people drunk, rather than ever being drunk himself.

    Read More
  46. 5371 says:
    @AP
    Interesting way of deflecting from the reality of massive alcohol consumption in the later Soviet era.

    What’s Porky’s life passion, besides killing children and old ladies?
     
    Remind me of the civilian death toll in the two Chechen wars and in Syria.

    If Russia had either invaded and occupied right away, or had chosen not to allow weapons and volunteers to enter Ukrainian territory (thus preventing the Ukrainian to reestablish control over its territory, as Russia did in Chechnya), the death toll would have been about the same as in Kharkiv or Odessa. Considerably less than 10,000. Yet somehow you blame the guy who is after all establishing control of Ukraine's government on Ukraine's own territory, rather than the guy sending arms and volunteers into another country's territory, for the deaths in that country.

    Rumor has it that he drinks a lot too,
     
    I wouldn't doubt it. So?

    He is much less of a drunkard than was Brezhnev, or Yanayev, or Yeltsin. Brezhnev's daughter Galina was also a notorious alcoholic.

    A chicken isn’t a bird, and the Ukraine is not a country.

    Read More
  47. AP says:
    @5371
    Andropov certainly strikes me as the sort of person who got other people drunk, rather than ever being drunk himself.

    Andropov was not one of the drinkers.

    Read More
  48. 5371 says:
    @Andrei Martyanov

    who, in failing health, stumbled into such disastrous decisions as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979
     
    Again, dubious. This decision had General Staff written all over it, an organization in which alcoholism was not conducive to promotion, to put it mildly. In general, decision on Politburo were made on the base of consensus. I wouldn't be using sources dedicated to "study" of vodka consumption when dealing with what was a very important and long delayed, in a light of islamization of Soviet Middle Asia, decision. So, the term "stumbling" is not a good term and the problem was, and very much remains today, extremely serious. If not for real alcoholic and low life Yeltsin, who withdrew support of Najibullah, we would have today a much more controlled problem in Afghanistan. In general, in English language I would suggest Lester Grau and his assessments of Soviet campaign in Afghanistan. Vodka had no role in decision on invasion.

    The question, in view of how relatively well Najibullah was working without Soviet troops, is could one have got there from the situation in 1978-79 without the intervention?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov

    could one have got there from the situation in 1978-79 without the intervention?
     
    A billion dollar (and a warranted) question. I am not in the position to even speculate one way or another. Judging by today's "hindsight is a 20/20 vision" assessments from Russia's political top--probably this could have been accomplished without invasion.
  49. 5371 says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Alexander Mercouris had a great comment on this: http://www.unz.com/akarlin/the-rapid-and-mostly-unnoticed-decline-of-abortion-in-russia/#comment-838439

    tl;dr - Sexual revolution in the West coincided with the Pill, and happened before abortion legalization, so abortion never "took off" in a huge way. In the USSR, there was no Pill and condoms were low quality and in deficin, whereas abortion legalization happened much earlier (though banned under Stalin), so it became fixed as the primary method of birth control.

    When Ceausescu banned abortion overnight in 1967, I think it was, the birth rate leapt nine months later in a quite extraordinary fashion. Later, of course, it declined again, according to folklore because most Romanians became back door men.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Hector_St_Clare
    I'm not sure the mechanism but yes, Romania's TFR skyrocketed immiediately after the abortion / contraception ban, but then declined. Within 10 years after the ban it was at the same level it had been before (without the laws having changed).

    Romania was of course in a different situation than modern day East European or Latin American states, because they heavily suppressed contraception as well as abortion. Even in very strongly pro-life countries like El Salvador today, contraception is freely available (and in general women have dealt with the tough abortion laws by opting for more reliable means of contraception, in particular sterilization).
  50. AP says:
    @Hector_St_Clare
    Anatoly,

    Thanks for a very thoughtful piece as always, really like reading your work.

    Several questions:

    1) Can you show the raw data and your calculations for your claim that Russian TFR, ignoring Muslims and ethnic minorities, would be only 0.1 less than the total? That surprises me, as it's a much smaller difference than one sees in western Europe, and I was under the impression that *ethnic Russian* TFR was much lower than that. I'll try to look up your link, but I don't know Russian.

    2) What accounts for the rise in TFR in the late 1980s? The US seems to have had a smaller increase in TFR around then, but it really surprises me they had one in Russia considering the economic decline as a result of Gorbachev's reforms.

    3) There's a paper floating around somewhere looking at TFR in East and West Germany, it's pretty interesting. We tend to associate atheism, communism, and secularization with low fertility, but the GDR actually had a higher TFR than West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s (almost at replacement level, IIRC). Then of course it collapsed to the lowest level in the world after German reunification, although it seems to be back above western Germany by today.

    4) The lack of correlation between abortion laws and fertility rates has been known to me for a while, based on a superficial reading of the TFR data by country. It's not limited to Eastern Europe either. El Salvador has one of the toughest abortion laws in the world (up to 20 year jail time for the mother, with no exceptions even to save her own life), and their TFR is now a bit below replacement and declining. Chile has a no-exception abortion law and their TFR is below America's as well. Latin America in general is about at replacement right now (and declining) in spite of most countries having fairly tough abortion laws.

    And no, it's not all about illegal abortions. The real issue seems to be that abortion is more of a substitute for contraception than a substitute for birth. When you legalize abortion the big change is people stop using the more effective forms of birth control, and the rate of unintended pregnancies goes up.

    There’s a paper floating around somewhere looking at TFR in East and West Germany, it’s pretty interesting. We tend to associate atheism, communism, and secularization with low fertility, but the GDR actually had a higher TFR than West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s (almost at replacement level, IIRC). Then of course it collapsed to the lowest level in the world after German reunification, although it seems to be back above western Germany by today

    Interesting. Within Ukraine the TFR drop was at the 1939 border: the regions that were Soviet prior to 1939 have significantly lower TFR than those that were not Soviet prior to 1939. This is true even of areas that prior to the Revolution had both been part of the same Russian province.

    In 1921 the old Russian province of Volynia was divided between Poland and the USSR. In 2013, the two modern oblasts of Volyn and Rivne that had been in Poland prior to 1939 had TFR of 1.86 and 2.0 respectively, while the oblast of Zhytomir that had been in the USSR prior to 1939 had a TFR of only 1.68.

    The map of Ukraine’s natural population growth in 2009 follows the 1939 USSR border:

    Read More
  51. Glossy says: • Website
    @Hector_St_Clare
    I don't see any particular reason to credit this to Putin's leadership, rather than just rebounding from the 1990s distaster?

    Russia underwent an economic collapse in the 1990s, as most ex-communist countries did, due to partly to the costs of transition. When you dismantle a centrally planned economy (which worked moderately well) in one go, with the hope of replacing it with something that worked better, you can't expect new institutions to come into existence right away. A country with Russia's advantages in terms of natural resources and human capital was going to recover sooner or later, it was just a matter of time.

    The Ukraine has the same human capital and it hasn’t really recovered. Perhaps Putin and his recovery were not inevitable.

    Read More
  52. @Greasy William
    Questions for Anatoly:

    1. Are you pro Soviet now? I'm confused.

    2. Is it true that there is a difference between Soviet "nationalism" and ethnic Russian nationalism? Which is more popular in contemporary Russia?

    3. What do you think of that homo The Saker? Do you agree that he is a homo?

    4. Since you now live in Russia, do you have a hot Russian girlfriend? Do you think 16-25 year old Russian girls are hotter than non-fat, white and Latina American girls of the same age?

    5. If your demographics are so great, does that mean Russia can donate some whites to the West so we can rebalance our own demographics? Our lands are filled with muds, as you know first hand.

    6. When you think, are the thoughts in your own head in Russian or in English?

    7. Are you going to do an Unz meetup with Boris N?

    I believe the answers to all of your questions are here:

    https://www.patreon.com/akarlin

    BTW, AK – do the sanctions keep you from getting your Patreon? A Russian friend of mine was concerned about such.

    Read More
    • LOL: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Why would they? I don't reside in the Crimea, and SWIFT hasn't been cut off.

    Though at $28 / month it's not like its loss is going to make me go bankrupt. :)
  53. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @5371
    The question, in view of how relatively well Najibullah was working without Soviet troops, is could one have got there from the situation in 1978-79 without the intervention?

    could one have got there from the situation in 1978-79 without the intervention?

    A billion dollar (and a warranted) question. I am not in the position to even speculate one way or another. Judging by today’s “hindsight is a 20/20 vision” assessments from Russia’s political top–probably this could have been accomplished without invasion.

    Read More
  54. AP,

    That’s very interesting, to what do you attribute the fertility differences between the different regions of Ukraine?

    BTW the citations for East German TFR (it surprised me so much I had to look them up) are here: the first shows TFR during the entire GDR/FRG history and the second shows the TFR trends after unification.

    https://www.demographic-research.org/special/3/11/s3-11.pdf

    https://www.demogr.mpg.de/publications/files/4213_1386245620_1_PDF.pdf

    Glossy,

    Apologies, “inevitability” was an exaggeration. I think there were clear reasons why one might expect the Russian economy to have recovered eventually though. It wasn’t inevitable (it didn’t happen in the Ukraine after all, probably partly due to decades of terrible leadership there), but it’s also not necessarily attributable to Putin’s policies.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP

    That’s very interesting, to what do you attribute the fertility differences between the different regions of Ukraine?
     
    The massive scale of Stalinist social engineering really screwed things up. This was the difference between Riven oblast and Zhytomir oblast. The former avoided the 1920s and 1930s Soviet experience in Ukraine. Stalinism was not as harsh in the 1940s and 1950s when western parts of Ukraine came under Soviet rule.

    Related to this, the parts of Ukraine that joined the USSR in 1939 are much more religious and traditional.

    There also some differences between the western regions. Galicia (that had been part of Austria) while having much better demographics that pre-1939 Soviet regions is worse than Volynia to the North and Subcarpathia in the extreme southwest. This may be a function of education and urbanization. Galicia's Lviv oblast is one of the country's most highly educated areas, while Volynia and Transcarpathia are the least educated. Among the Soviet regions, the Donbas and Northeast showed particularly bad demographics (this was from before the war). Ukraine's northeastern regions border a part of Russia that also shows severe demographic decline. The Donbas was the most culturally Soviet region in Ukraine; perhaps the losses there reflect some sort of post-Soviet nihilism.

    So although 1939 is the clearest line there are also sub-differences.
  55. Glossy says: • Website
    @Hector_St_Clare
    Anatoly,

    Thanks for a very thoughtful piece as always, really like reading your work.

    Several questions:

    1) Can you show the raw data and your calculations for your claim that Russian TFR, ignoring Muslims and ethnic minorities, would be only 0.1 less than the total? That surprises me, as it's a much smaller difference than one sees in western Europe, and I was under the impression that *ethnic Russian* TFR was much lower than that. I'll try to look up your link, but I don't know Russian.

    2) What accounts for the rise in TFR in the late 1980s? The US seems to have had a smaller increase in TFR around then, but it really surprises me they had one in Russia considering the economic decline as a result of Gorbachev's reforms.

    3) There's a paper floating around somewhere looking at TFR in East and West Germany, it's pretty interesting. We tend to associate atheism, communism, and secularization with low fertility, but the GDR actually had a higher TFR than West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s (almost at replacement level, IIRC). Then of course it collapsed to the lowest level in the world after German reunification, although it seems to be back above western Germany by today.

    4) The lack of correlation between abortion laws and fertility rates has been known to me for a while, based on a superficial reading of the TFR data by country. It's not limited to Eastern Europe either. El Salvador has one of the toughest abortion laws in the world (up to 20 year jail time for the mother, with no exceptions even to save her own life), and their TFR is now a bit below replacement and declining. Chile has a no-exception abortion law and their TFR is below America's as well. Latin America in general is about at replacement right now (and declining) in spite of most countries having fairly tough abortion laws.

    And no, it's not all about illegal abortions. The real issue seems to be that abortion is more of a substitute for contraception than a substitute for birth. When you legalize abortion the big change is people stop using the more effective forms of birth control, and the rate of unintended pregnancies goes up.

    Here’s a table of TFR by region of Russia:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_federal_subjects_of_Russia_by_total_fertility_rate

    The Central Federal District is the most ethnically Russian one. Every region there except for Moscow is almost mono-ethnic. The North Caucasus Federal District is the least ethnically Russian. Others are a mix of this and that.

    What accounts for the rise in TFR in the late 1980s? The US seems to have had a smaller increase in TFR around then, but it really surprises me they had one in Russia considering the economic decline as a result of Gorbachev’s reforms.

    When Gorbachev came to power, he was very anxious to show everyone how modern, cool, hip and forward-looking he was. He’s an extremely vain man. He wanted to be remembered as a reformer, not like the senile, boring Brezhnev and co.

    His first reform was actually very good. He restricted the supply of alcohol and that quickly improved lots of social statistics. What Antatoly says about the Crimean vinyards is true and lamentable, but on a net basis the anti-alcohol campaign did a lot of good.

    Unfortunately Gorbachev got bored with it after about 3 years. He needed other things to demonstrate how cool and reformist he was, and there was this body of thought lying around which always advertised itself as being cool – socially leftist market-based Western liberalism. When he started moving in that direction, he was lionized by the Western press and by local, Soviet intelligentsia, which had been leftist for decades. That was like catnip to him. So he went further and further in that direction, and that ended up destroying the country.

    I’m quite sure that he didn’t want to destroy the USSR and drown its peoples in poverty and ethnic warfare. He thought his reforms would improve things. I imagine that king Juan Carlos in Spain and F. W DeKlerk in S. Africa had similar motivations – to be liked by the cool people, to be known as forward-looking reformers, the opposite of old, stiff and stodgy. The big lesson here is that vanity kills.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    To answer the question about the TFR in the late 1980s more directly, I'm sure that lots of women were reluctant to start families with drunks, so when alcoholism declined, the TFR rose a little.
    , @AP
    You only told half the story. Later on Gorbachev saw that what he was doing wasn't working out as he liked, so he brought hardliners into greater power (demonstrating that his previous commitment to liberalization and reform was indeed mostly about vanity, and not a real principle for him). He cracked down, killing hundreds. And then his hardliner friends overthrew him.
    , @Philip Owen
    His economics were immaterial. He failed (partly by starting late) to deal with the renewal of the Union treaty. Even under the SU, the 3 Baltics and Georgia were not going to renew. He needed a minimum of 75% of the republics to vote for renewal. His solution was to promote AR's like Tatarstan and Chechnya up to republics. Hence the independence movements. Yeltsin and other Russian nationalists objected and went for Russian independence instead. Gorbachaev's economic failures were a side show.
  56. Glossy says: • Website
    @Glossy
    Here's a table of TFR by region of Russia:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_federal_subjects_of_Russia_by_total_fertility_rate

    The Central Federal District is the most ethnically Russian one. Every region there except for Moscow is almost mono-ethnic. The North Caucasus Federal District is the least ethnically Russian. Others are a mix of this and that.

    What accounts for the rise in TFR in the late 1980s? The US seems to have had a smaller increase in TFR around then, but it really surprises me they had one in Russia considering the economic decline as a result of Gorbachev’s reforms.

    When Gorbachev came to power, he was very anxious to show everyone how modern, cool, hip and forward-looking he was. He's an extremely vain man. He wanted to be remembered as a reformer, not like the senile, boring Brezhnev and co.

    His first reform was actually very good. He restricted the supply of alcohol and that quickly improved lots of social statistics. What Antatoly says about the Crimean vinyards is true and lamentable, but on a net basis the anti-alcohol campaign did a lot of good.

    Unfortunately Gorbachev got bored with it after about 3 years. He needed other things to demonstrate how cool and reformist he was, and there was this body of thought lying around which always advertised itself as being cool - socially leftist market-based Western liberalism. When he started moving in that direction, he was lionized by the Western press and by local, Soviet intelligentsia, which had been leftist for decades. That was like catnip to him. So he went further and further in that direction, and that ended up destroying the country.

    I'm quite sure that he didn't want to destroy the USSR and drown its peoples in poverty and ethnic warfare. He thought his reforms would improve things. I imagine that king Juan Carlos in Spain and F. W DeKlerk in S. Africa had similar motivations - to be liked by the cool people, to be known as forward-looking reformers, the opposite of old, stiff and stodgy. The big lesson here is that vanity kills.

    To answer the question about the TFR in the late 1980s more directly, I’m sure that lots of women were reluctant to start families with drunks, so when alcoholism declined, the TFR rose a little.

    Read More
  57. @Hector_St_Clare
    Anatoly,

    Thanks for a very thoughtful piece as always, really like reading your work.

    Several questions:

    1) Can you show the raw data and your calculations for your claim that Russian TFR, ignoring Muslims and ethnic minorities, would be only 0.1 less than the total? That surprises me, as it's a much smaller difference than one sees in western Europe, and I was under the impression that *ethnic Russian* TFR was much lower than that. I'll try to look up your link, but I don't know Russian.

    2) What accounts for the rise in TFR in the late 1980s? The US seems to have had a smaller increase in TFR around then, but it really surprises me they had one in Russia considering the economic decline as a result of Gorbachev's reforms.

    3) There's a paper floating around somewhere looking at TFR in East and West Germany, it's pretty interesting. We tend to associate atheism, communism, and secularization with low fertility, but the GDR actually had a higher TFR than West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s (almost at replacement level, IIRC). Then of course it collapsed to the lowest level in the world after German reunification, although it seems to be back above western Germany by today.

    4) The lack of correlation between abortion laws and fertility rates has been known to me for a while, based on a superficial reading of the TFR data by country. It's not limited to Eastern Europe either. El Salvador has one of the toughest abortion laws in the world (up to 20 year jail time for the mother, with no exceptions even to save her own life), and their TFR is now a bit below replacement and declining. Chile has a no-exception abortion law and their TFR is below America's as well. Latin America in general is about at replacement right now (and declining) in spite of most countries having fairly tough abortion laws.

    And no, it's not all about illegal abortions. The real issue seems to be that abortion is more of a substitute for contraception than a substitute for birth. When you legalize abortion the big change is people stop using the more effective forms of birth control, and the rate of unintended pregnancies goes up.

    1) Can you show the raw data and your calculations for your claim that Russian TFR, ignoring Muslims and ethnic minorities, would be only 0.1 less than the total?

    I haven’t done any calculation but I will explain my logic.

    That link (http://demoscope.ru/weekly/2012/0531/tema06.php) tabulates completed fertility rates (e.g. for 50-54 year old women, who are hardly going to be reproducing any more) for Russians, other ethnic groups, and the RSFSR/RF as a whole for the 1979, 1989, 2002, and 2010 censuses.

    The Russians vs. total TFR difference is, respectively: 0.13; 0.17; 0.08; and 0.08 children.

    Why is this differential going down even as the share of more fertility minorities increases? Because their fertility rates are going down relative quicker, due to their demographic transitions having generally occured more recently than ethnic Russians’.

    So a 0.1 children difference is a valid back of the envelope estimate, it might even be a bit conservative.

    What accounts for the rise in TFR in the late 1980s? The US seems to have had a smaller increase in TFR around then, but it really surprises me they had one in Russia considering the economic decline as a result of Gorbachev’s reforms.

    I have no particular insight on the causes of that particular fertility upswing.

    The Soviet economy was growing slowly for most of the Gorbachev period. Consumer goods availability increased in the late 1980s. The collapse only started from around mid-1990.

    We tend to associate atheism, communism, and secularization with low fertility, but the GDR actually had a higher TFR than West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s (almost at replacement level, IIRC).

    Like most of the socialist camp, the GDR had a pro-natality policy, which even included some soft pro-eugenics elements (e.g. making it easy for college students to have children).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Hector_St_Clare
    Hi Anatoly,

    I'll take your correction on Soviet growth rates in the 1980s. I recall reading somewhere a chart that indicated slow per capita growth in 1975-1980, even slower (but barely positive) growth from 1980-1985, and then negative growth from 1985-1990 (before it all came apart in 1990). But maybe I'm misremembering, and of course the whole question of Soviet economic numbers is disputed.

    Are the numbers you're using from the CIA estimates of the Soviet economy, or from where?
  58. AP says:
    @Glossy
    Here's a table of TFR by region of Russia:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_federal_subjects_of_Russia_by_total_fertility_rate

    The Central Federal District is the most ethnically Russian one. Every region there except for Moscow is almost mono-ethnic. The North Caucasus Federal District is the least ethnically Russian. Others are a mix of this and that.

    What accounts for the rise in TFR in the late 1980s? The US seems to have had a smaller increase in TFR around then, but it really surprises me they had one in Russia considering the economic decline as a result of Gorbachev’s reforms.

    When Gorbachev came to power, he was very anxious to show everyone how modern, cool, hip and forward-looking he was. He's an extremely vain man. He wanted to be remembered as a reformer, not like the senile, boring Brezhnev and co.

    His first reform was actually very good. He restricted the supply of alcohol and that quickly improved lots of social statistics. What Antatoly says about the Crimean vinyards is true and lamentable, but on a net basis the anti-alcohol campaign did a lot of good.

    Unfortunately Gorbachev got bored with it after about 3 years. He needed other things to demonstrate how cool and reformist he was, and there was this body of thought lying around which always advertised itself as being cool - socially leftist market-based Western liberalism. When he started moving in that direction, he was lionized by the Western press and by local, Soviet intelligentsia, which had been leftist for decades. That was like catnip to him. So he went further and further in that direction, and that ended up destroying the country.

    I'm quite sure that he didn't want to destroy the USSR and drown its peoples in poverty and ethnic warfare. He thought his reforms would improve things. I imagine that king Juan Carlos in Spain and F. W DeKlerk in S. Africa had similar motivations - to be liked by the cool people, to be known as forward-looking reformers, the opposite of old, stiff and stodgy. The big lesson here is that vanity kills.

    You only told half the story. Later on Gorbachev saw that what he was doing wasn’t working out as he liked, so he brought hardliners into greater power (demonstrating that his previous commitment to liberalization and reform was indeed mostly about vanity, and not a real principle for him). He cracked down, killing hundreds. And then his hardliner friends overthrew him.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    You have no sense of self-awareness. You support a government that has cracked down, killing tens of thousands, in order to save a hellish regime - economically, socially and in every other way - while badmouthing "hardliners" who cracked down - I don't even know if it was hundreds, and I'm not taking info from you - to save a much better way of life for hundreds of millions.
  59. @Daniel Chieh
    I believe the answers to all of your questions are here:

    https://www.patreon.com/akarlin

    BTW, AK - do the sanctions keep you from getting your Patreon? A Russian friend of mine was concerned about such.

    Why would they? I don’t reside in the Crimea, and SWIFT hasn’t been cut off.

    Though at $28 / month it’s not like its loss is going to make me go bankrupt. :)

    Read More
  60. Glossy says: • Website
    @AP
    You only told half the story. Later on Gorbachev saw that what he was doing wasn't working out as he liked, so he brought hardliners into greater power (demonstrating that his previous commitment to liberalization and reform was indeed mostly about vanity, and not a real principle for him). He cracked down, killing hundreds. And then his hardliner friends overthrew him.

    You have no sense of self-awareness. You support a government that has cracked down, killing tens of thousands, in order to save a hellish regime – economically, socially and in every other way – while badmouthing “hardliners” who cracked down – I don’t even know if it was hundreds, and I’m not taking info from you – to save a much better way of life for hundreds of millions.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP

    You support a government that has cracked down, killing tens of thousands
     
    UN estimates about 10,000.

    http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20999&LangID=E

    Governments have a right to defend their territory from separatism. Just as Yelstin and Putin did in Chechnya, or Assad in Syria. Porosehnko is by far the least bloody of the four.


    in order to save a hellish regime – economically, socially and in every other way
     
    You are the same one that claimed that Russia under Stalin was more conservative than Russia under Nicholas II. Your opinion about the qualities of regimes can be judged accordingly.

    And does Donbas have a superior regime :-)


    while badmouthing “hardliners” who cracked down – I don’t even know if it was hundreds
     
    It was around 200 total.

    My point was that Gorby was not the cuddly liberal he is often made out to be. His liberalism was just a manifestation of his vanity, and he discarded it fairly easily. Yakovlev was the real, principled liberal reformer.


    I’m not taking info from you
     
    Your preference for fantasy is well-established.

    to save a much better way of life for hundreds of millions.
     
    Russians live much better now than they did under the Soviets, and than they would have lived had the Soviet system staggered on.
  61. AP says:
    @Hector_St_Clare
    AP,

    That's very interesting, to what do you attribute the fertility differences between the different regions of Ukraine?

    BTW the citations for East German TFR (it surprised me so much I had to look them up) are here: the first shows TFR during the entire GDR/FRG history and the second shows the TFR trends after unification.



    https://www.demographic-research.org/special/3/11/s3-11.pdf
    https://www.demogr.mpg.de/publications/files/4213_1386245620_1_PDF.pdf

    Glossy,

    Apologies, "inevitability" was an exaggeration. I think there were clear reasons why one might expect the Russian economy to have recovered eventually though. It wasn't inevitable (it didn't happen in the Ukraine after all, probably partly due to decades of terrible leadership there), but it's also not necessarily attributable to Putin's policies.

    That’s very interesting, to what do you attribute the fertility differences between the different regions of Ukraine?

    The massive scale of Stalinist social engineering really screwed things up. This was the difference between Riven oblast and Zhytomir oblast. The former avoided the 1920s and 1930s Soviet experience in Ukraine. Stalinism was not as harsh in the 1940s and 1950s when western parts of Ukraine came under Soviet rule.

    Related to this, the parts of Ukraine that joined the USSR in 1939 are much more religious and traditional.

    There also some differences between the western regions. Galicia (that had been part of Austria) while having much better demographics that pre-1939 Soviet regions is worse than Volynia to the North and Subcarpathia in the extreme southwest. This may be a function of education and urbanization. Galicia’s Lviv oblast is one of the country’s most highly educated areas, while Volynia and Transcarpathia are the least educated. Among the Soviet regions, the Donbas and Northeast showed particularly bad demographics (this was from before the war). Ukraine’s northeastern regions border a part of Russia that also shows severe demographic decline. The Donbas was the most culturally Soviet region in Ukraine; perhaps the losses there reflect some sort of post-Soviet nihilism.

    So although 1939 is the clearest line there are also sub-differences.

    Read More
  62. AP says:
    @Glossy
    You have no sense of self-awareness. You support a government that has cracked down, killing tens of thousands, in order to save a hellish regime - economically, socially and in every other way - while badmouthing "hardliners" who cracked down - I don't even know if it was hundreds, and I'm not taking info from you - to save a much better way of life for hundreds of millions.

    You support a government that has cracked down, killing tens of thousands

    UN estimates about 10,000.

    http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20999&LangID=E

    Governments have a right to defend their territory from separatism. Just as Yelstin and Putin did in Chechnya, or Assad in Syria. Porosehnko is by far the least bloody of the four.

    in order to save a hellish regime – economically, socially and in every other way

    You are the same one that claimed that Russia under Stalin was more conservative than Russia under Nicholas II. Your opinion about the qualities of regimes can be judged accordingly.

    And does Donbas have a superior regime :-)

    while badmouthing “hardliners” who cracked down – I don’t even know if it was hundreds

    It was around 200 total.

    My point was that Gorby was not the cuddly liberal he is often made out to be. His liberalism was just a manifestation of his vanity, and he discarded it fairly easily. Yakovlev was the real, principled liberal reformer.

    I’m not taking info from you

    Your preference for fantasy is well-established.

    to save a much better way of life for hundreds of millions.

    Russians live much better now than they did under the Soviets, and than they would have lived had the Soviet system staggered on.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    It was around 200 total.

    You're probably counting ethnic strife in Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the central government's attempts to control it. There would have been no ethnic strife if not for Gorbachev's reforms.
    , @Hector_St_Clare
    As Anatoly pointed out somewhere before, Russia is at about the same per capita income level relative to the US now (or rather in 2014) as it was under Brezhnev, with much higher inequality, so "much better than they would have had the Soviet system staggered on" seems highly dubious at best.
  63. Glossy says: • Website
    @AP

    You support a government that has cracked down, killing tens of thousands
     
    UN estimates about 10,000.

    http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20999&LangID=E

    Governments have a right to defend their territory from separatism. Just as Yelstin and Putin did in Chechnya, or Assad in Syria. Porosehnko is by far the least bloody of the four.


    in order to save a hellish regime – economically, socially and in every other way
     
    You are the same one that claimed that Russia under Stalin was more conservative than Russia under Nicholas II. Your opinion about the qualities of regimes can be judged accordingly.

    And does Donbas have a superior regime :-)


    while badmouthing “hardliners” who cracked down – I don’t even know if it was hundreds
     
    It was around 200 total.

    My point was that Gorby was not the cuddly liberal he is often made out to be. His liberalism was just a manifestation of his vanity, and he discarded it fairly easily. Yakovlev was the real, principled liberal reformer.


    I’m not taking info from you
     
    Your preference for fantasy is well-established.

    to save a much better way of life for hundreds of millions.
     
    Russians live much better now than they did under the Soviets, and than they would have lived had the Soviet system staggered on.

    It was around 200 total.

    You’re probably counting ethnic strife in Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the central government’s attempts to control it. There would have been no ethnic strife if not for Gorbachev’s reforms.

    Read More
  64. AP says:

    You’re probably counting ethnic strife in Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the central government’s attempts to control it

    I’m not including Armenian victims of Azeri pogroms but people killed by the Soviets. Protecting Armenians was an excuse given by the Soviet authorities for their crackdown on Azeri civilians, the primary reason was to maintain Soviet rule over the region and to send a bloody message. That there were also bloody crackdowns in Lithuania, Latvia and Georgia (areas without pogroms) corroborates this.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    On that topic, it would be funny to watch you tell an Armenian that their nationalism is only 200 years old.
  65. Boris N says:

    Frankly, I do not mind a possible population decline in Russia. It is too many people in Russia already. Even with the alleged decline I see myself how small Russia actually is. I’ve lived for years in one of so-called “bedroom districts” and remember how there was a forest just over the road, the best place to relax and the best memories. Now it is gone, it has been razed, and new, much higher, tower blocks have been being built. The village where I spent my vocation during my childhood also had very beautiful nature, now the forest is burned, allegedly by an accident, a very busy and noisy highway goes through it, and they plan to build a lot of dachas there. It is not started for the past 15 years, I must admit, old timers always told me that 50 years ago the nature was even much better than in my times. And not to mention traffic jams, it has become terrible! And I’m speaking not about obviously overpopulated the Moscow macro-region or the Northern Caucasus, but a 99%-Russian provincial region in Central Russia. I just wonder what chaos and destruction might have happened if the population were rising at the rate of the Third World countries (I believe most of Africa and much of Asia are post-apocalyptic ecological dumps now).

    I think it would not be so terrible if or rather when the post-war Boomers and Gen-Xers eventually past away only being replaced by smaller cohorts of the Millennials and their children, and the population would stabilize at 100, max 120 millions. The meme “Russia is dying” is absolutely idiotic, no matter whether it’s uttered by “liberals” or “patriots”. Russia is a small and overpopulated country for its geography.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    And yet, I travel for 3.5 hours from Saratov to Penza and see almost no villages and certainly no towns. The biggest buildings are a modern pig farm. From a city of 1.5 million to one of 0.5 million, there is no highway and the condition of the road is appalling. In Russia, no one leaves their city to look for nature, except as a tourist.

    But then again, the river Hopper in East Voronezh is almost dead with excess nitrogen fertilizer run off but people still believe beavers live somewhere along its banks.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    Are you sure you're a Russian nationalist?
    , @RadicalCenter
    So you have no concern about Russia having enough young men to serve as soldiers?

    How will an ever-shrinking number of young Russians fight off a growing number of young Muslims in the south, or a vastly larger number of young Chinese in the east?

    Should Russia trust that its nuclear deterrent will be enough to forestall any conventional invasion and not worry about the number of troops it has in case of such invasion?
  66. @Anatoly Karlin

    1) Can you show the raw data and your calculations for your claim that Russian TFR, ignoring Muslims and ethnic minorities, would be only 0.1 less than the total?
     
    I haven't done any calculation but I will explain my logic.

    That link (http://demoscope.ru/weekly/2012/0531/tema06.php) tabulates completed fertility rates (e.g. for 50-54 year old women, who are hardly going to be reproducing any more) for Russians, other ethnic groups, and the RSFSR/RF as a whole for the 1979, 1989, 2002, and 2010 censuses.

    The Russians vs. total TFR difference is, respectively: 0.13; 0.17; 0.08; and 0.08 children.

    Why is this differential going down even as the share of more fertility minorities increases? Because their fertility rates are going down relative quicker, due to their demographic transitions having generally occured more recently than ethnic Russians'.

    So a 0.1 children difference is a valid back of the envelope estimate, it might even be a bit conservative.

    What accounts for the rise in TFR in the late 1980s? The US seems to have had a smaller increase in TFR around then, but it really surprises me they had one in Russia considering the economic decline as a result of Gorbachev’s reforms.
     
    I have no particular insight on the causes of that particular fertility upswing.

    The Soviet economy was growing slowly for most of the Gorbachev period. Consumer goods availability increased in the late 1980s. The collapse only started from around mid-1990.

    We tend to associate atheism, communism, and secularization with low fertility, but the GDR actually had a higher TFR than West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s (almost at replacement level, IIRC).
     
    Like most of the socialist camp, the GDR had a pro-natality policy, which even included some soft pro-eugenics elements (e.g. making it easy for college students to have children).

    Hi Anatoly,

    I’ll take your correction on Soviet growth rates in the 1980s. I recall reading somewhere a chart that indicated slow per capita growth in 1975-1980, even slower (but barely positive) growth from 1980-1985, and then negative growth from 1985-1990 (before it all came apart in 1990). But maybe I’m misremembering, and of course the whole question of Soviet economic numbers is disputed.

    Are the numbers you’re using from the CIA estimates of the Soviet economy, or from where?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Angus Maddison has the most cited series:

    http://www.ggdc.net/maddison/maddison-project/home.htm

    Here is a graph. There is stagnation throughout the 1980s but the accelerating collapse only begins in 1990.
  67. @AP

    You support a government that has cracked down, killing tens of thousands
     
    UN estimates about 10,000.

    http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20999&LangID=E

    Governments have a right to defend their territory from separatism. Just as Yelstin and Putin did in Chechnya, or Assad in Syria. Porosehnko is by far the least bloody of the four.


    in order to save a hellish regime – economically, socially and in every other way
     
    You are the same one that claimed that Russia under Stalin was more conservative than Russia under Nicholas II. Your opinion about the qualities of regimes can be judged accordingly.

    And does Donbas have a superior regime :-)


    while badmouthing “hardliners” who cracked down – I don’t even know if it was hundreds
     
    It was around 200 total.

    My point was that Gorby was not the cuddly liberal he is often made out to be. His liberalism was just a manifestation of his vanity, and he discarded it fairly easily. Yakovlev was the real, principled liberal reformer.


    I’m not taking info from you
     
    Your preference for fantasy is well-established.

    to save a much better way of life for hundreds of millions.
     
    Russians live much better now than they did under the Soviets, and than they would have lived had the Soviet system staggered on.

    As Anatoly pointed out somewhere before, Russia is at about the same per capita income level relative to the US now (or rather in 2014) as it was under Brezhnev, with much higher inequality, so “much better than they would have had the Soviet system staggered on” seems highly dubious at best.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Belarus, the country that preserved elements of the Soviet economy longest, is relatively far richer compared to 1990 than Russia let alone Ukraine.

    The USSR probably wouldn't have dropped even as much as Belarus did because you wouldn't have had the breakdown of trans-union economic links, the oligarchic plundering, etc.

    Even though I'm not a fan of the USSR, there's little doubt that its constituent elements became worse off relatively to where they would have been otherwise if it had continued.
    , @AP

    As Anatoly pointed out somewhere before, Russia is at about the same per capita income level relative to the US now (or rather in 2014) as it was under Brezhnev, with much higher inequality, so “much better than they would have had the Soviet system staggered on” seems highly dubious at best.
     
    This assumes that a "Brezhnevian" USSR was doing a good job by keeping pace with the USA at a per capita income around 1/3 that of the USA. However, as AK has pointed out elsewhere, during the Brezhnev Soviet period other non-Soviet poorer European countries such as Portugal gained a lot of ground on the USA, to an extent that the USSR did not. So the USSR maintaining its position during that time was nothing to be proud of.

    AK posted a nice chart here:

    http://akarlin.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/russia-gdp-historical-compared.png

    In 1960 Russia had about 65% of Finland's per capita GDP - by 1980 it was down to 50%. In 1960 Russia had 120% of Greece's per capita GDP - by 1980, only 70%. Portugal was similar to Greece.

    Russia did go through a period not only of adjustment (as in the rest of the post-Commie world) but also mass looting and misgovernance during the Yeltsin years. And yet still after all that by 2014 Russia found itself at about the same level as the USSR had been under Brezhnev's stability (the chart above ended around 2010). However you make a good point - it is possible that if the Brezhnevian USSR had continued under stable conditions there might not have been a large overall difference by 2014 (although who knows how that USSR would have coped with the fall in oil prices in the 1980s - oil was selling at $109 in 1980 and was in the $30s in the late 80s).

    As for income inequality, Russia nowadays is at the American level, not like in Latin America or some such dysfunctional places. Such modest inequality tends to work out better for educated people, at least.

  68. @melanf
    "Nicholas I carries more responsibility for modern Russia good and ill, than Stalin."

    And how Nicholas I determined the fate of Russia? It was an honest man of average abilities, who follow the course of events. Russia has not undergone a revolutionary transformation under the rule of Nicholas I

    Nicholas I did some good work in economic and technical development; he was an engineer by training. For example, he pushed for the railway line from St Petersburg to Moscow.

    He also created modern Eurasianism, a style of thought which still afflicts Russia. He set up the Third Department, bureaucratically, the ancestor of the MVD and KGB. He managed to get Britain and France to combine with Turkey and Austria against him by launching an attack to capture Constantinople via Bessarabia. (The ultimate aim was the conquest of India). This is the source of the continuing Russian reputation for political aggression.

    This is a taster. There is much else to discuss. You can research it yourself.

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    Your ideas of history are, to put it mildly, a hoot.
    , @melanf
    "He (Nicholas I) also created modern Eurasianism, "

    Definitely not


    " He set up the Third Department, bureaucratically, the ancestor of the MVD and KGB."

    before Nicholas similar state organizations have existed for hundreds years in different countries



    "He managed to get Britain and France to combine with Turkey and Austria against him by launching an attack to capture Constantinople via Bessarabia. (The ultimate aim was the conquest of India). This is the source of the continuing Russian reputation for political aggression."

    About India - propaganda nonsense.
    As Nicholas has determined the fate of Russia in a greater degree than Stalin - I don't understand
  69. 5371 says:
    @Philip Owen
    Nicholas I did some good work in economic and technical development; he was an engineer by training. For example, he pushed for the railway line from St Petersburg to Moscow.

    He also created modern Eurasianism, a style of thought which still afflicts Russia. He set up the Third Department, bureaucratically, the ancestor of the MVD and KGB. He managed to get Britain and France to combine with Turkey and Austria against him by launching an attack to capture Constantinople via Bessarabia. (The ultimate aim was the conquest of India). This is the source of the continuing Russian reputation for political aggression.

    This is a taster. There is much else to discuss. You can research it yourself.

    Your ideas of history are, to put it mildly, a hoot.

    Read More
  70. @Boris N
    Frankly, I do not mind a possible population decline in Russia. It is too many people in Russia already. Even with the alleged decline I see myself how small Russia actually is. I've lived for years in one of so-called "bedroom districts" and remember how there was a forest just over the road, the best place to relax and the best memories. Now it is gone, it has been razed, and new, much higher, tower blocks have been being built. The village where I spent my vocation during my childhood also had very beautiful nature, now the forest is burned, allegedly by an accident, a very busy and noisy highway goes through it, and they plan to build a lot of dachas there. It is not started for the past 15 years, I must admit, old timers always told me that 50 years ago the nature was even much better than in my times. And not to mention traffic jams, it has become terrible! And I'm speaking not about obviously overpopulated the Moscow macro-region or the Northern Caucasus, but a 99%-Russian provincial region in Central Russia. I just wonder what chaos and destruction might have happened if the population were rising at the rate of the Third World countries (I believe most of Africa and much of Asia are post-apocalyptic ecological dumps now).

    I think it would not be so terrible if or rather when the post-war Boomers and Gen-Xers eventually past away only being replaced by smaller cohorts of the Millennials and their children, and the population would stabilize at 100, max 120 millions. The meme "Russia is dying" is absolutely idiotic, no matter whether it's uttered by "liberals" or "patriots". Russia is a small and overpopulated country for its geography.

    And yet, I travel for 3.5 hours from Saratov to Penza and see almost no villages and certainly no towns. The biggest buildings are a modern pig farm. From a city of 1.5 million to one of 0.5 million, there is no highway and the condition of the road is appalling. In Russia, no one leaves their city to look for nature, except as a tourist.

    But then again, the river Hopper in East Voronezh is almost dead with excess nitrogen fertilizer run off but people still believe beavers live somewhere along its banks.

    Read More
    • Replies: @melanf
    "In Russia, no one leaves their city to look for nature, except as a tourist"

    Complete nonsense. Or is this a joke?
    , @Boris N
    That's because Russia is so "hospitable" and "comfortable" to live in that Russians live only in a few livable spots scattered across the country and leave the remaining land empty. Not that empty, though, the land between Saratov and Penza is a well known agricultural region. There must be a lot of farmland around there and some villages, probably the highway isn't going through the villages. Anyway there's no point to sprawl and live in small "towns" like in America. What's the point? What can people do there for living? Ever been in Canada or in the northwest Midwest (Dakota, Montana)? They live in a similar manner: a few scattered hub cities, and barely inhabited land in between. Actually Russia is very populated comparing to them. Both Dakotas have the density 5 persons per square km, the Voronezh region has 45. There's no city with 1 or 0.5 million in Dakotas, where in Russia there are many. Climate and nature is very similar there (continental steppe/prairie). The rest of Russia is close to Western Canada. But nobody wonder why there are few people in Canada. In Russia you have 150 million in one of the harshest and most inhospitable lands on Earth, but some want more.

    As for the roads: I do not know what it has to do with population.

    As for rivers and all: and yet some want more population. Imagine, with such an over-exploitation already in effect, what would happen with the nature if Voronezh were 3 million? Imagine, 200 or even 300 million, where in similar conditions on the other continent there live only 30 million people (I mean Canada).
  71. Glossy says: • Website
    @AP

    You’re probably counting ethnic strife in Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the central government’s attempts to control it
     
    I'm not including Armenian victims of Azeri pogroms but people killed by the Soviets. Protecting Armenians was an excuse given by the Soviet authorities for their crackdown on Azeri civilians, the primary reason was to maintain Soviet rule over the region and to send a bloody message. That there were also bloody crackdowns in Lithuania, Latvia and Georgia (areas without pogroms) corroborates this.

    On that topic, it would be funny to watch you tell an Armenian that their nationalism is only 200 years old.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    You don't even know the difference between nationalism and tribalism.
  72. @Glossy
    Here's a table of TFR by region of Russia:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_federal_subjects_of_Russia_by_total_fertility_rate

    The Central Federal District is the most ethnically Russian one. Every region there except for Moscow is almost mono-ethnic. The North Caucasus Federal District is the least ethnically Russian. Others are a mix of this and that.

    What accounts for the rise in TFR in the late 1980s? The US seems to have had a smaller increase in TFR around then, but it really surprises me they had one in Russia considering the economic decline as a result of Gorbachev’s reforms.

    When Gorbachev came to power, he was very anxious to show everyone how modern, cool, hip and forward-looking he was. He's an extremely vain man. He wanted to be remembered as a reformer, not like the senile, boring Brezhnev and co.

    His first reform was actually very good. He restricted the supply of alcohol and that quickly improved lots of social statistics. What Antatoly says about the Crimean vinyards is true and lamentable, but on a net basis the anti-alcohol campaign did a lot of good.

    Unfortunately Gorbachev got bored with it after about 3 years. He needed other things to demonstrate how cool and reformist he was, and there was this body of thought lying around which always advertised itself as being cool - socially leftist market-based Western liberalism. When he started moving in that direction, he was lionized by the Western press and by local, Soviet intelligentsia, which had been leftist for decades. That was like catnip to him. So he went further and further in that direction, and that ended up destroying the country.

    I'm quite sure that he didn't want to destroy the USSR and drown its peoples in poverty and ethnic warfare. He thought his reforms would improve things. I imagine that king Juan Carlos in Spain and F. W DeKlerk in S. Africa had similar motivations - to be liked by the cool people, to be known as forward-looking reformers, the opposite of old, stiff and stodgy. The big lesson here is that vanity kills.

    His economics were immaterial. He failed (partly by starting late) to deal with the renewal of the Union treaty. Even under the SU, the 3 Baltics and Georgia were not going to renew. He needed a minimum of 75% of the republics to vote for renewal. His solution was to promote AR’s like Tatarstan and Chechnya up to republics. Hence the independence movements. Yeltsin and other Russian nationalists objected and went for Russian independence instead. Gorbachaev’s economic failures were a side show.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov

    Hence the independence movements.
     
    You evidently forgot events in Alma-Ata (guess from three times what Gennady Kolbin had to do with it) in 1986-87 and for "independence movement"--you have a very peculiar understanding of this "movement". Gorbachev was simply a coward who completely lost control of situation because he was a first Russian "leader" in two centuries who had no military background whatsoever. One has to wonder that his handle "Mechennyi" was more than just a skin issue.

    His economics were immaterial.
     
    It was his "economics" which was a major factor in economic collapse, precisely because he was an agronomic-lawyer by trade and had no idea how to deal with Soviet VPK, which had an enormous potential--a precise reason of why contemporary Russia is economically today what she is --not the worst, and by far, economic state. Putin knew the role of Military-Industrial Complex, Gorbachev didn't, the distinction is strategic.
  73. @Boris N
    Frankly, I do not mind a possible population decline in Russia. It is too many people in Russia already. Even with the alleged decline I see myself how small Russia actually is. I've lived for years in one of so-called "bedroom districts" and remember how there was a forest just over the road, the best place to relax and the best memories. Now it is gone, it has been razed, and new, much higher, tower blocks have been being built. The village where I spent my vocation during my childhood also had very beautiful nature, now the forest is burned, allegedly by an accident, a very busy and noisy highway goes through it, and they plan to build a lot of dachas there. It is not started for the past 15 years, I must admit, old timers always told me that 50 years ago the nature was even much better than in my times. And not to mention traffic jams, it has become terrible! And I'm speaking not about obviously overpopulated the Moscow macro-region or the Northern Caucasus, but a 99%-Russian provincial region in Central Russia. I just wonder what chaos and destruction might have happened if the population were rising at the rate of the Third World countries (I believe most of Africa and much of Asia are post-apocalyptic ecological dumps now).

    I think it would not be so terrible if or rather when the post-war Boomers and Gen-Xers eventually past away only being replaced by smaller cohorts of the Millennials and their children, and the population would stabilize at 100, max 120 millions. The meme "Russia is dying" is absolutely idiotic, no matter whether it's uttered by "liberals" or "patriots". Russia is a small and overpopulated country for its geography.

    Are you sure you’re a Russian nationalist?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Boris N
    I don't belong to any political group or ideology. Moreover, I do not like that label as well, because nobody knows what Russian nationalism is and everybody call themselves and others "Russian nationalists" (Lenin, Stalin, Putin and the like are "Russian nationalists"? - OK, but then without me). Though some may call me that. Whatever. Why? One thing for sure I want Russia to be much better, and overpopulation would make it worse.
  74. @Hector_St_Clare
    Hi Anatoly,

    I'll take your correction on Soviet growth rates in the 1980s. I recall reading somewhere a chart that indicated slow per capita growth in 1975-1980, even slower (but barely positive) growth from 1980-1985, and then negative growth from 1985-1990 (before it all came apart in 1990). But maybe I'm misremembering, and of course the whole question of Soviet economic numbers is disputed.

    Are the numbers you're using from the CIA estimates of the Soviet economy, or from where?

    Angus Maddison has the most cited series:

    http://www.ggdc.net/maddison/maddison-project/home.htm

    Here is a graph. There is stagnation throughout the 1980s but the accelerating collapse only begins in 1990.

    Read More
  75. @Hector_St_Clare
    As Anatoly pointed out somewhere before, Russia is at about the same per capita income level relative to the US now (or rather in 2014) as it was under Brezhnev, with much higher inequality, so "much better than they would have had the Soviet system staggered on" seems highly dubious at best.

    Belarus, the country that preserved elements of the Soviet economy longest, is relatively far richer compared to 1990 than Russia let alone Ukraine.

    The USSR probably wouldn’t have dropped even as much as Belarus did because you wouldn’t have had the breakdown of trans-union economic links, the oligarchic plundering, etc.

    Even though I’m not a fan of the USSR, there’s little doubt that its constituent elements became worse off relatively to where they would have been otherwise if it had continued.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP

    Belarus, the country that preserved elements of the Soviet economy longest, is relatively far richer compared to 1990 than Russia let alone Ukraine.
     
    It's about the same. In 1990 Belarus had a per capita nominal GDP of 1,704, compared to 7,575 in 2013. In Russia those numbers were 3,485 and 14,611, respectively. The collapse in oil price and sanctions probably make Russia a little worse incomparison now. Or course, while the % increase was about the same, Russia gained far more in absolute income.
    , @Hector_St_Clare
    Anatoly,

    Yes, I have a ton of sympathy for communist ideals and for the old Eastern Bloc, and for that reason I really like Bat'ka. He seems to have done a good job with Belarus, and the Belarussians generally seem to like him.

    I found an interesting paper from around the end of the Cold War by one, Alexeev estimating GINI indexes for the different Soviet republics. Belarus was by the far the least economically unequal, their GINI index was around 18-20 or so IIRC. That would be just a bit higher than the GDR and Czechoslovakia at the time, and better than any society in the world today.


    Have you been there BTW?
  76. The late Soviet crisis had three components: Economic, political, and nationalist.

    Any single one of them was solveable, all three at once – much harder.

    Andropov promoted the liberal economists who would eventually go on to restructure the Soviet economy while tightening the screws at the same time. Gorbachev did not have his patron’s wisdom and decided to liberalize both politically and economically at once.

    Read More
  77. Mr. XYZ says:

    : Do you have a source for Andropov being an economic reformer? After all, when my parents lived in the Soviet Union under Andropov, they certainly never heard anything about economic reform–only about more discipline and less corruption!

    Read More
  78. Mr. XYZ says:

    Also, : Do you believe that Austria-Hungary would have also been better off today had it remained intact and reformed itself?

    After all, I see the collapse of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Austria-Hungary being somewhat similar–specifically both of these collapses in large part being caused by growing nationalism exacerbated by economic problems. Indeed, I am tempted to view both Austria-Hungary and the Soviet Union as being outdated–specifically being multinational empires in an age where nationalism was becoming more and more popular!

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  79. Mr. XYZ says:

    In addition to this, : Out of curiosity–exactly which other territories (excluding Crimea, which is already annexed, of course) do you think that Russia will actually annex in the future?

    After all, the Eurasian Economic Union currently doesn’t appear to be going very far!

    Read More
  80. melanf says:
    @Philip Owen
    And yet, I travel for 3.5 hours from Saratov to Penza and see almost no villages and certainly no towns. The biggest buildings are a modern pig farm. From a city of 1.5 million to one of 0.5 million, there is no highway and the condition of the road is appalling. In Russia, no one leaves their city to look for nature, except as a tourist.

    But then again, the river Hopper in East Voronezh is almost dead with excess nitrogen fertilizer run off but people still believe beavers live somewhere along its banks.

    “In Russia, no one leaves their city to look for nature, except as a tourist”

    Complete nonsense. Or is this a joke?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Gerard2
    Has to be a joke
    , @Philip Owen
    Lots of people go fishing, camping, skiing and visit their dachas but get past the honeypots and you do not see Sunday drivers deep in the countryside. People do not take cars for a spin along the Volga or into the desert just to look.
  81. AP says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Belarus, the country that preserved elements of the Soviet economy longest, is relatively far richer compared to 1990 than Russia let alone Ukraine.

    The USSR probably wouldn't have dropped even as much as Belarus did because you wouldn't have had the breakdown of trans-union economic links, the oligarchic plundering, etc.

    Even though I'm not a fan of the USSR, there's little doubt that its constituent elements became worse off relatively to where they would have been otherwise if it had continued.

    Belarus, the country that preserved elements of the Soviet economy longest, is relatively far richer compared to 1990 than Russia let alone Ukraine.

    It’s about the same. In 1990 Belarus had a per capita nominal GDP of 1,704, compared to 7,575 in 2013. In Russia those numbers were 3,485 and 14,611, respectively. The collapse in oil price and sanctions probably make Russia a little worse incomparison now. Or course, while the % increase was about the same, Russia gained far more in absolute income.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Gerard2

    It’s about the same. In 1990 Belarus had a per capita nominal GDP of 1,704, compared to 7,575 in 2013. In Russia those numbers were 3,485 and 14,611, respectively. The collapse in oil price and sanctions probably make Russia a little worse incomparison now. Or course, while the % increase was about the same, Russia gained far more in absolute income.
     
    errr.....Belarus is far richer than Ukraine you stupid retard...despite Ukraine having far more advantage to being a successful economy and being a prostitute of the USA. Kazakhstan is far richer than Ukraine. Even Armenia who have a terrible relationship with their two very rich neighbours of Turkey & Azerbaijan...are considerably richer per capita than Ukraine you idiot. 3 countries with brotherly relations with Russia. Ukraine is on a par with Moldova....think for a second how bad that is you dipshit
  82. AP says:
    @Glossy
    On that topic, it would be funny to watch you tell an Armenian that their nationalism is only 200 years old.

    You don’t even know the difference between nationalism and tribalism.

    Read More
  83. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @Philip Owen
    His economics were immaterial. He failed (partly by starting late) to deal with the renewal of the Union treaty. Even under the SU, the 3 Baltics and Georgia were not going to renew. He needed a minimum of 75% of the republics to vote for renewal. His solution was to promote AR's like Tatarstan and Chechnya up to republics. Hence the independence movements. Yeltsin and other Russian nationalists objected and went for Russian independence instead. Gorbachaev's economic failures were a side show.

    Hence the independence movements.

    You evidently forgot events in Alma-Ata (guess from three times what Gennady Kolbin had to do with it) in 1986-87 and for “independence movement”–you have a very peculiar understanding of this “movement”. Gorbachev was simply a coward who completely lost control of situation because he was a first Russian “leader” in two centuries who had no military background whatsoever. One has to wonder that his handle “Mechennyi” was more than just a skin issue.

    His economics were immaterial.

    It was his “economics” which was a major factor in economic collapse, precisely because he was an agronomic-lawyer by trade and had no idea how to deal with Soviet VPK, which had an enormous potential–a precise reason of why contemporary Russia is economically today what she is –not the worst, and by far, economic state. Putin knew the role of Military-Industrial Complex, Gorbachev didn’t, the distinction is strategic.

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    Lenin had no military background either, as far as I know.
    , @AP
    Wall Street Journal ran an article contrasting Putin's to Gorbachev's economic policies:

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-putins-economy-survives-1483020001
  84. melanf says:
    @Philip Owen
    Nicholas I did some good work in economic and technical development; he was an engineer by training. For example, he pushed for the railway line from St Petersburg to Moscow.

    He also created modern Eurasianism, a style of thought which still afflicts Russia. He set up the Third Department, bureaucratically, the ancestor of the MVD and KGB. He managed to get Britain and France to combine with Turkey and Austria against him by launching an attack to capture Constantinople via Bessarabia. (The ultimate aim was the conquest of India). This is the source of the continuing Russian reputation for political aggression.

    This is a taster. There is much else to discuss. You can research it yourself.

    “He (Nicholas I) also created modern Eurasianism, ”

    Definitely not

    ” He set up the Third Department, bureaucratically, the ancestor of the MVD and KGB.”

    before Nicholas similar state organizations have existed for hundreds years in different countries

    “He managed to get Britain and France to combine with Turkey and Austria against him by launching an attack to capture Constantinople via Bessarabia. (The ultimate aim was the conquest of India). This is the source of the continuing Russian reputation for political aggression.”

    About India – propaganda nonsense.
    As Nicholas has determined the fate of Russia in a greater degree than Stalin – I don’t understand

    Read More
    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    "As Nicholas has determined the fate of Russia in a greater degree than Stalin – I don’t understand" Exactly so.
  85. 5371 says:
    @Andrei Martyanov

    Hence the independence movements.
     
    You evidently forgot events in Alma-Ata (guess from three times what Gennady Kolbin had to do with it) in 1986-87 and for "independence movement"--you have a very peculiar understanding of this "movement". Gorbachev was simply a coward who completely lost control of situation because he was a first Russian "leader" in two centuries who had no military background whatsoever. One has to wonder that his handle "Mechennyi" was more than just a skin issue.

    His economics were immaterial.
     
    It was his "economics" which was a major factor in economic collapse, precisely because he was an agronomic-lawyer by trade and had no idea how to deal with Soviet VPK, which had an enormous potential--a precise reason of why contemporary Russia is economically today what she is --not the worst, and by far, economic state. Putin knew the role of Military-Industrial Complex, Gorbachev didn't, the distinction is strategic.

    Lenin had no military background either, as far as I know.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov

    Lenin had no military background either, as far as I know.
     
    He didn't, unless to consider the Party school in Longjumeau which was, among many, preparing Bolshevik militants and operatives. But then again, the scales of Lenin's and Gorby's personalities are not even in the same universe. In the end, Lenin left a considerable body of work on military and geopolitical issues, some of his insights can compete with Clausewitz, whom Lenin, incidentally, knew profoundly. In the end, Lenin won the war. Gorbachev knew how to drive a tractor.
  86. Gerard2 says:
    @Glossy
    I see that Mr. Schrad calls the 1979 USSR-Afghanistan events an invasion. When a country's official government, the current holder of its UN seat, invites you, that's not an invasion. What the US did to Afghanistan in 2001 was an invasion, what the USSR did in 1979 wasn't.

    And he called it disastrous. Wow. I have a feeling that Mr. Schrad wouldn't approve of anything on this blog: your opinion of Putin, Novorossiya, Assad, Trump, anything at all. Except for the USSR.

    How did the USSR's involvement in Afghanistan compare to the US involvement in Vietnam and Korea in humanitarian, economic, societal, etc. terms? Does Mr. Schrad condemn the other side in the Cold War for anything at all?

    An excellent comment. He was sober enough year later to not entangle the USSR into a less bloody but far more politically damaging situation if they had put-down the protests in Poland a year later. The US , with that twat Brzezinski advising Carter, had let it be known to the USSR that it wouldn’t be tolerated and the US would have openly acted against the USSR there

    Read More
  87. Gerard2 says:
    @AP

    Belarus, the country that preserved elements of the Soviet economy longest, is relatively far richer compared to 1990 than Russia let alone Ukraine.
     
    It's about the same. In 1990 Belarus had a per capita nominal GDP of 1,704, compared to 7,575 in 2013. In Russia those numbers were 3,485 and 14,611, respectively. The collapse in oil price and sanctions probably make Russia a little worse incomparison now. Or course, while the % increase was about the same, Russia gained far more in absolute income.

    It’s about the same. In 1990 Belarus had a per capita nominal GDP of 1,704, compared to 7,575 in 2013. In Russia those numbers were 3,485 and 14,611, respectively. The collapse in oil price and sanctions probably make Russia a little worse incomparison now. Or course, while the % increase was about the same, Russia gained far more in absolute income.

    errr…..Belarus is far richer than Ukraine you stupid retard…despite Ukraine having far more advantage to being a successful economy and being a prostitute of the USA. Kazakhstan is far richer than Ukraine. Even Armenia who have a terrible relationship with their two very rich neighbours of Turkey & Azerbaijan…are considerably richer per capita than Ukraine you idiot. 3 countries with brotherly relations with Russia. Ukraine is on a par with Moldova….think for a second how bad that is you dipshit

    Read More
  88. AP says:
    @Gerard2

    It’s about the same. In 1990 Belarus had a per capita nominal GDP of 1,704, compared to 7,575 in 2013. In Russia those numbers were 3,485 and 14,611, respectively. The collapse in oil price and sanctions probably make Russia a little worse incomparison now. Or course, while the % increase was about the same, Russia gained far more in absolute income.
     
    errr.....Belarus is far richer than Ukraine you stupid retard...despite Ukraine having far more advantage to being a successful economy and being a prostitute of the USA. Kazakhstan is far richer than Ukraine. Even Armenia who have a terrible relationship with their two very rich neighbours of Turkey & Azerbaijan...are considerably richer per capita than Ukraine you idiot. 3 countries with brotherly relations with Russia. Ukraine is on a par with Moldova....think for a second how bad that is you dipshit

    My retarded stalker has returned.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Gerard2
    Stop copying my insults you retarded fantasist troll POS
  89. Gerard2 says:
    @Glossy
    What's Porky's life passion, besides killing children and old ladies? Building tacky palaces for himself with frescos depicting himself? Rumor has it that he drinks a lot too, though I admit that this is less well-documented than the child-killing and the tacky palaces.

    HAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Brilliant…..and accurate

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  90. Gerard2 says:
    @melanf
    "In Russia, no one leaves their city to look for nature, except as a tourist"

    Complete nonsense. Or is this a joke?

    Has to be a joke

    Read More
  91. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @5371
    Lenin had no military background either, as far as I know.

    Lenin had no military background either, as far as I know.

    He didn’t, unless to consider the Party school in Longjumeau which was, among many, preparing Bolshevik militants and operatives. But then again, the scales of Lenin’s and Gorby’s personalities are not even in the same universe. In the end, Lenin left a considerable body of work on military and geopolitical issues, some of his insights can compete with Clausewitz, whom Lenin, incidentally, knew profoundly. In the end, Lenin won the war. Gorbachev knew how to drive a tractor.

    Read More
  92. Gerard2 says:
    @AP
    Interesting way of deflecting from the reality of massive alcohol consumption in the later Soviet era.

    What’s Porky’s life passion, besides killing children and old ladies?
     
    Remind me of the civilian death toll in the two Chechen wars and in Syria.

    If Russia had either invaded and occupied right away, or had chosen not to allow weapons and volunteers to enter Ukrainian territory (thus preventing the Ukrainian to reestablish control over its territory, as Russia did in Chechnya), the death toll would have been about the same as in Kharkiv or Odessa. Considerably less than 10,000. Yet somehow you blame the guy who is after all establishing control of Ukraine's government on Ukraine's own territory, rather than the guy sending arms and volunteers into another country's territory, for the deaths in that country.

    Rumor has it that he drinks a lot too,
     
    I wouldn't doubt it. So?

    He is much less of a drunkard than was Brezhnev, or Yanayev, or Yeltsin. Brezhnev's daughter Galina was also a notorious alcoholic.

    Russia hasnt been killing civilians in Syria you Galician piece of shit. It should be added that the rate of civilian deaths in the Syrian Civil War has decreased since Russia turned up you fucktard and have likely shortened the duration and victims of this war significantly

    If Russia had either invaded and occupied right away, or had chosen not to allow weapons and volunteers to enter Ukrainian territory

    errr…..Ukraine killing civilians is Russia’s fault? What a lowlife sack of faeces attention-whore troll liar you are. The UkroNazis had no right to do this . Ukraine were sending tanks,(Russian) planes to bomb civilian or administrative facilities, using snipers to kill civilians before any significant military hardware or fighters came over the border you retard . There were tonnes of weapons and civilians with military experience willing to fight the Nazi regime you dumb prick. You idiots just have to try and hide the embarrassing fact that a weaker resourced LOCAL bunch of miners are kicking the shit out of you idiots and controlling areas with millions of people. Russia has no fault in this.

    Russia killed terrorists ( who Shevardnadze in Georgia was conducive to) in Chechnya you lying prick not civilians as the Kiev regime is doing- both Chechen wars were not initiated by Putin and the first was initiated by a situation of mass crime and where hundreds of thousands of ethnic Russians were forced out of Chechnya over 4 years. Russia maintained constant dialogue with the Chechen side…and unlike the Kiev scum….paid out pensions and other services to the Chechen population

    Most importantly the 2 Chechen wars & Syrian wars were fully just wars against ACTUAL terrorists- not the pointless, evil war brought by Nazis and insecure sacks of faeces like you to the people of the Donbass who even the USA and the rest of the west havent come close to calling terrorists- thus giving Ukraine no legal ,moral or common sense basis to destroy the country

    I wouldn’t doubt it. So?

    Not common in the modern era to have alcoholic head of state in a puppet regime propped up by billions in American and IMF money you cretin

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  93. @Herzog

    I am reading a book written in 1905 by an Englishman who arrived in Russia in 1871. It explains a lot.
     
    Sounds interesting, care to divulge the title?

    It has the totally original title of “Russia”. The author was Donald Mackenzie Wallace and it is free on Amazon Kindle. I am a specialist on Russia. I have a business there and from time to time I am involved in agriculture so I found the sections on the peasant family and the commune gripping. A non specialist may find those chapters the same as I found the first few which described the state of the Russian roads, a bit of a trudge. The chapter in between, on village priests, explains much about Russian attitudes to priests and religion even today, even for a non specialist. It is a huge book. Kindle says that I have another 9 hours to go. He discusses German settlement in Russia.

    An interesting web site, particularly for background on the Ukrainian crisis, dating from 1931 is
    http://www.garethjones.org/ . The Ukrainians have honoured him as the only reporter to tell the truth about the Holomodor but if you actually read what he wrote, he is very clear that the Lower Volga and Kazhakstan suffered equally badly. He describes the situation in the Volga German Republic.

    In between the two source, the role and meaning of Kulak changed but not much. A story for another day.

    Read More
  94. @Boris N
    Frankly, I do not mind a possible population decline in Russia. It is too many people in Russia already. Even with the alleged decline I see myself how small Russia actually is. I've lived for years in one of so-called "bedroom districts" and remember how there was a forest just over the road, the best place to relax and the best memories. Now it is gone, it has been razed, and new, much higher, tower blocks have been being built. The village where I spent my vocation during my childhood also had very beautiful nature, now the forest is burned, allegedly by an accident, a very busy and noisy highway goes through it, and they plan to build a lot of dachas there. It is not started for the past 15 years, I must admit, old timers always told me that 50 years ago the nature was even much better than in my times. And not to mention traffic jams, it has become terrible! And I'm speaking not about obviously overpopulated the Moscow macro-region or the Northern Caucasus, but a 99%-Russian provincial region in Central Russia. I just wonder what chaos and destruction might have happened if the population were rising at the rate of the Third World countries (I believe most of Africa and much of Asia are post-apocalyptic ecological dumps now).

    I think it would not be so terrible if or rather when the post-war Boomers and Gen-Xers eventually past away only being replaced by smaller cohorts of the Millennials and their children, and the population would stabilize at 100, max 120 millions. The meme "Russia is dying" is absolutely idiotic, no matter whether it's uttered by "liberals" or "patriots". Russia is a small and overpopulated country for its geography.

    So you have no concern about Russia having enough young men to serve as soldiers?

    How will an ever-shrinking number of young Russians fight off a growing number of young Muslims in the south, or a vastly larger number of young Chinese in the east?

    Should Russia trust that its nuclear deterrent will be enough to forestall any conventional invasion and not worry about the number of troops it has in case of such invasion?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Boris N
    I do not understand why Russia needs more soldiers. There is no need for more soldiers, there must just enough of them to protect the civilian population. Now Russia has an army which comprises 0.5% to 1% of its population. That means one soldier protects 99 to 199 civilians. I think it's a perfect ratio of the armed forces for any country. So why do you need a bigger army for a smaller population? The smaller the population the smaller the army needed to protect it.
  95. AP says:
    @Gerard2
    Russia hasnt been killing civilians in Syria you Galician piece of shit. It should be added that the rate of civilian deaths in the Syrian Civil War has decreased since Russia turned up you fucktard and have likely shortened the duration and victims of this war significantly

    If Russia had either invaded and occupied right away, or had chosen not to allow weapons and volunteers to enter Ukrainian territory
     
    errr.....Ukraine killing civilians is Russia's fault? What a lowlife sack of faeces attention-whore troll liar you are. The UkroNazis had no right to do this . Ukraine were sending tanks,(Russian) planes to bomb civilian or administrative facilities, using snipers to kill civilians before any significant military hardware or fighters came over the border you retard . There were tonnes of weapons and civilians with military experience willing to fight the Nazi regime you dumb prick. You idiots just have to try and hide the embarrassing fact that a weaker resourced LOCAL bunch of miners are kicking the shit out of you idiots and controlling areas with millions of people. Russia has no fault in this.

    Russia killed terrorists ( who Shevardnadze in Georgia was conducive to) in Chechnya you lying prick not civilians as the Kiev regime is doing- both Chechen wars were not initiated by Putin and the first was initiated by a situation of mass crime and where hundreds of thousands of ethnic Russians were forced out of Chechnya over 4 years. Russia maintained constant dialogue with the Chechen side...and unlike the Kiev scum....paid out pensions and other services to the Chechen population


    Most importantly the 2 Chechen wars & Syrian wars were fully just wars against ACTUAL terrorists- not the pointless, evil war brought by Nazis and insecure sacks of faeces like you to the people of the Donbass who even the USA and the rest of the west havent come close to calling terrorists- thus giving Ukraine no legal ,moral or common sense basis to destroy the country


    I wouldn’t doubt it. So?
     
    Not common in the modern era to have alcoholic head of state in a puppet regime propped up by billions in American and IMF money you cretin

    Troll tries and fails to make some points.

    Read More
    • Replies: @annamaria
    Actually, he was quite good at making the precise points in response to yours (though that could have been done in a more civilized parlance). Perhaps you do not realize the degree of your Russophobia, which is responsible for the ridiculousness of your posts.
    Here is a topic for you to ponder on: many Soviet activists of holodomor were native Ukrainians.
    As for the current situation in Ukraine, it is unfortunate that the country has become subjugated by the Jewish and neo-Nazis' groups; this is a truly paradoxical situation when the two supposedly antagonistic forces (both in service to the thieving oligarchs) converge on destroying the sovereignty of Ukraine.
    The attempts of the Ukrainian parliament at getting rid of Russian language in Ukraine are the best illustration to the depravity of the Kiev' regime. You hate Stalin and the history of the Soviet Union? - well, this is not a basis for deriving the Ukrainian kids of Russian culture.... Ukraine is used as a patsy by the exceptional globalists of ziocon leaning. Nothing to be jolly about.
  96. AP says:
    @Andrei Martyanov

    Hence the independence movements.
     
    You evidently forgot events in Alma-Ata (guess from three times what Gennady Kolbin had to do with it) in 1986-87 and for "independence movement"--you have a very peculiar understanding of this "movement". Gorbachev was simply a coward who completely lost control of situation because he was a first Russian "leader" in two centuries who had no military background whatsoever. One has to wonder that his handle "Mechennyi" was more than just a skin issue.

    His economics were immaterial.
     
    It was his "economics" which was a major factor in economic collapse, precisely because he was an agronomic-lawyer by trade and had no idea how to deal with Soviet VPK, which had an enormous potential--a precise reason of why contemporary Russia is economically today what she is --not the worst, and by far, economic state. Putin knew the role of Military-Industrial Complex, Gorbachev didn't, the distinction is strategic.

    Wall Street Journal ran an article contrasting Putin’s to Gorbachev’s economic policies:

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-putins-economy-survives-1483020001

    Read More
    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov
    Sadly I cannot access WSJ's paid content but, to be frank, I long ago gave up on any "main stream" Russia's economy "analysis" in US. This "analysis'" academic level is about the same as US military and geopolitical "analysis" of Russia, most of it--rubbish. The academic case is to be made that with some minor, however notable, exceptions US Russia's "scholarship" is an affront to history, economics, military art, what have you. I would have never started my blog if not for realization that, literally, US "top" was in full ignorance of Russia and was driving world towards the war. I wanted my very humble and small input and contribution to basic education of public on the real state of the affairs, especially military ones. At least today, due to the overwhelming empirical evidence, the wall of triumphalism, ignorance and stupidity has been breached a little bit, with attempts on more sober view on the reality--you know, in which Russia makes space ships and jet-planes not out of stones and sticks.
  97. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @AP
    Wall Street Journal ran an article contrasting Putin's to Gorbachev's economic policies:

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-putins-economy-survives-1483020001

    Sadly I cannot access WSJ’s paid content but, to be frank, I long ago gave up on any “main stream” Russia’s economy “analysis” in US. This “analysis’” academic level is about the same as US military and geopolitical “analysis” of Russia, most of it–rubbish. The academic case is to be made that with some minor, however notable, exceptions US Russia’s “scholarship” is an affront to history, economics, military art, what have you. I would have never started my blog if not for realization that, literally, US “top” was in full ignorance of Russia and was driving world towards the war. I wanted my very humble and small input and contribution to basic education of public on the real state of the affairs, especially military ones. At least today, due to the overwhelming empirical evidence, the wall of triumphalism, ignorance and stupidity has been breached a little bit, with attempts on more sober view on the reality–you know, in which Russia makes space ships and jet-planes not out of stones and sticks.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    Hmmm...today I couldn't access the article for free either.

    In brief summary, WSJ praised Putin's government for its monetary policy and austerity program, and low debt, attributing these factors (rather than promotion of certain industries) for Russia's success relative to that of Gorby's Soviet Union.
  98. AP says:
    @Andrei Martyanov
    Sadly I cannot access WSJ's paid content but, to be frank, I long ago gave up on any "main stream" Russia's economy "analysis" in US. This "analysis'" academic level is about the same as US military and geopolitical "analysis" of Russia, most of it--rubbish. The academic case is to be made that with some minor, however notable, exceptions US Russia's "scholarship" is an affront to history, economics, military art, what have you. I would have never started my blog if not for realization that, literally, US "top" was in full ignorance of Russia and was driving world towards the war. I wanted my very humble and small input and contribution to basic education of public on the real state of the affairs, especially military ones. At least today, due to the overwhelming empirical evidence, the wall of triumphalism, ignorance and stupidity has been breached a little bit, with attempts on more sober view on the reality--you know, in which Russia makes space ships and jet-planes not out of stones and sticks.

    Hmmm…today I couldn’t access the article for free either.

    In brief summary, WSJ praised Putin’s government for its monetary policy and austerity program, and low debt, attributing these factors (rather than promotion of certain industries) for Russia’s success relative to that of Gorby’s Soviet Union.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov

    WSJ praised Putin’s government for its monetary policy and austerity program, and low debt, attributing these factors (rather than promotion of certain industries)
     
    Exactly, that is what I am talking about. US so called "economic" block is nothing more than a collection of Wall Streets shysters from Ivy League madrasas whose claim to "scholarship" is their ability to cook books and invent all kinds of useless indices. They know how to "make money" and how banks work, they have no idea what is modern manufacturing and how complex (not iPhones) things are engineered and produced. A huge chuck (probably more than half) of US allegedly 18 billion dollar "economy" is a virtual (on paper) collection of financial transactions with US manufacturing base contracting steadily. Many enclosed technological cycles are now in danger of being extinct. But then again, when Face Book's IPO (that is couple of buildings with servers and couple hundred pages of code) shot into billions of dollars one has to ask a question--how long this mad house can endure? The partial answer has been already given. In general, it is over now, the next issue is how to make "landing" as soft as possible. Modern Western "economic elite" (all those Davos' good ole' boys and girls) is simply not capable of such a feat specifically due to their ignorance and hubris. That is why US "elites" are not capable to "read" Russia no matter how they try. They simply do not posses a proper instrumentation for that.
  99. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @AP
    Hmmm...today I couldn't access the article for free either.

    In brief summary, WSJ praised Putin's government for its monetary policy and austerity program, and low debt, attributing these factors (rather than promotion of certain industries) for Russia's success relative to that of Gorby's Soviet Union.

    WSJ praised Putin’s government for its monetary policy and austerity program, and low debt, attributing these factors (rather than promotion of certain industries)

    Exactly, that is what I am talking about. US so called “economic” block is nothing more than a collection of Wall Streets shysters from Ivy League madrasas whose claim to “scholarship” is their ability to cook books and invent all kinds of useless indices. They know how to “make money” and how banks work, they have no idea what is modern manufacturing and how complex (not iPhones) things are engineered and produced. A huge chuck (probably more than half) of US allegedly 18 billion dollar “economy” is a virtual (on paper) collection of financial transactions with US manufacturing base contracting steadily. Many enclosed technological cycles are now in danger of being extinct. But then again, when Face Book’s IPO (that is couple of buildings with servers and couple hundred pages of code) shot into billions of dollars one has to ask a question–how long this mad house can endure? The partial answer has been already given. In general, it is over now, the next issue is how to make “landing” as soft as possible. Modern Western “economic elite” (all those Davos’ good ole’ boys and girls) is simply not capable of such a feat specifically due to their ignorance and hubris. That is why US “elites” are not capable to “read” Russia no matter how they try. They simply do not posses a proper instrumentation for that.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Intelligent Dasein
    Thank you for writing the only comment on this thread worth reading, including the OP.
  100. @Anatoly Karlin
    Belarus, the country that preserved elements of the Soviet economy longest, is relatively far richer compared to 1990 than Russia let alone Ukraine.

    The USSR probably wouldn't have dropped even as much as Belarus did because you wouldn't have had the breakdown of trans-union economic links, the oligarchic plundering, etc.

    Even though I'm not a fan of the USSR, there's little doubt that its constituent elements became worse off relatively to where they would have been otherwise if it had continued.

    Anatoly,

    Yes, I have a ton of sympathy for communist ideals and for the old Eastern Bloc, and for that reason I really like Bat’ka. He seems to have done a good job with Belarus, and the Belarussians generally seem to like him.

    I found an interesting paper from around the end of the Cold War by one, Alexeev estimating GINI indexes for the different Soviet republics. Belarus was by the far the least economically unequal, their GINI index was around 18-20 or so IIRC. That would be just a bit higher than the GDR and Czechoslovakia at the time, and better than any society in the world today.

    Have you been there BTW?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    I see that AP responded with some nonsense about GDP.

    Quick thoughts on why GDP comparisons across the old Cold War divide are silly:

    In no particular order,

    Advertising annoys consumers, decreasing their quality of life, but adds to the GDP. There was no advertising in the USSR. The financial sector of market economies subtracts from the real standard of living. It's all essentially trickery. Yet it adds to the GDP. That was absent from Soviet life too. Same thing for gambling (preying on people's addictions) and a million other things.

    The more laissez faire an economy is, the more economic activity there will be in it. But a lot of this extra economic activity will be harmful or irrelevant to the standard of living. It's always possible to make money and add to the GDP by scamming or annoying your fellow citizens. The USSR banned most of the ways in which one can scam people, and that depressed its GDP in comparison to its Western rivals.

    A good example to keep in mind is Euro healthcare. It's less market-oriented than US healthcare, so it costs less and contributed less to the GDP. But the quality of care is about the same. Less insurance company involvement, less profit motive in prescribing drugs that people don't need, etc.

    There is generally more standard-of-living bang per GDP buck in Europe than in the US, and there was more of it in the USSR than in the market economies of the West.

    Then there are all sort of things that don't show up on the GDP at all but which have to do with the standard of living. There was no homelessness, no prostitution, no drugs, etc. in the USSR.
    , @Glossy
    Bat'ka is great. They call him the last dictator in Europe because he's actually the last democrat in it, meaning that he works in the interests of his people. Democracy literally means people power in Greek. Nothing more and nothing less.
  101. AP says:
    @Hector_St_Clare
    As Anatoly pointed out somewhere before, Russia is at about the same per capita income level relative to the US now (or rather in 2014) as it was under Brezhnev, with much higher inequality, so "much better than they would have had the Soviet system staggered on" seems highly dubious at best.

    As Anatoly pointed out somewhere before, Russia is at about the same per capita income level relative to the US now (or rather in 2014) as it was under Brezhnev, with much higher inequality, so “much better than they would have had the Soviet system staggered on” seems highly dubious at best.

    This assumes that a “Brezhnevian” USSR was doing a good job by keeping pace with the USA at a per capita income around 1/3 that of the USA. However, as AK has pointed out elsewhere, during the Brezhnev Soviet period other non-Soviet poorer European countries such as Portugal gained a lot of ground on the USA, to an extent that the USSR did not. So the USSR maintaining its position during that time was nothing to be proud of.

    AK posted a nice chart here:

    In 1960 Russia had about 65% of Finland’s per capita GDP – by 1980 it was down to 50%. In 1960 Russia had 120% of Greece’s per capita GDP – by 1980, only 70%. Portugal was similar to Greece.

    Russia did go through a period not only of adjustment (as in the rest of the post-Commie world) but also mass looting and misgovernance during the Yeltsin years. And yet still after all that by 2014 Russia found itself at about the same level as the USSR had been under Brezhnev’s stability (the chart above ended around 2010). However you make a good point – it is possible that if the Brezhnevian USSR had continued under stable conditions there might not have been a large overall difference by 2014 (although who knows how that USSR would have coped with the fall in oil prices in the 1980s – oil was selling at $109 in 1980 and was in the $30s in the late 80s).

    As for income inequality, Russia nowadays is at the American level, not like in Latin America or some such dysfunctional places. Such modest inequality tends to work out better for educated people, at least.

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  102. Glossy says: • Website
    @Hector_St_Clare
    Anatoly,

    Yes, I have a ton of sympathy for communist ideals and for the old Eastern Bloc, and for that reason I really like Bat'ka. He seems to have done a good job with Belarus, and the Belarussians generally seem to like him.

    I found an interesting paper from around the end of the Cold War by one, Alexeev estimating GINI indexes for the different Soviet republics. Belarus was by the far the least economically unequal, their GINI index was around 18-20 or so IIRC. That would be just a bit higher than the GDR and Czechoslovakia at the time, and better than any society in the world today.


    Have you been there BTW?

    I see that AP responded with some nonsense about GDP.

    Quick thoughts on why GDP comparisons across the old Cold War divide are silly:

    In no particular order,

    Advertising annoys consumers, decreasing their quality of life, but adds to the GDP. There was no advertising in the USSR. The financial sector of market economies subtracts from the real standard of living. It’s all essentially trickery. Yet it adds to the GDP. That was absent from Soviet life too. Same thing for gambling (preying on people’s addictions) and a million other things.

    The more laissez faire an economy is, the more economic activity there will be in it. But a lot of this extra economic activity will be harmful or irrelevant to the standard of living. It’s always possible to make money and add to the GDP by scamming or annoying your fellow citizens. The USSR banned most of the ways in which one can scam people, and that depressed its GDP in comparison to its Western rivals.

    A good example to keep in mind is Euro healthcare. It’s less market-oriented than US healthcare, so it costs less and contributed less to the GDP. But the quality of care is about the same. Less insurance company involvement, less profit motive in prescribing drugs that people don’t need, etc.

    There is generally more standard-of-living bang per GDP buck in Europe than in the US, and there was more of it in the USSR than in the market economies of the West.

    Then there are all sort of things that don’t show up on the GDP at all but which have to do with the standard of living. There was no homelessness, no prostitution, no drugs, etc. in the USSR.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    The irony is that I agree with all that.

    I think it would be a great idea to excise about 80% of the financial industry and send their quants to work on genetic IQ augmentation and Orion Drive spaceships.

    Thing is, the Soviet economy did have bloat, though of another sort - e.g., lots of excess steel, but no windscreen wipers.

    That bloat was easily far in excess of the bloat you see under capitalism.
    , @AP

    Quick thoughts on why GDP comparisons across the old Cold War divide are silly:

    In no particular order,

    Advertising annoys consumers, decreasing their quality of life, but adds to the GDP. There was no advertising in the USSR. The financial sector of market economies subtracts from the real standard of living. It’s all essentially trickery. Yet it adds to the GDP.
     
    If you don't like the fact that the USSR under Brezhnev was stuck at only about 1/3 of the USA's GDP while non-commie European countries like Portugal or Greece pulled ahead, you can simply consider various material goods.

    In 1970 average housing space for Soviets was 118 square feet; for Americans it was 183. So Soviets had per capita 64.5% of Americans' living space.

    In 1980 these numbers were 118 and 204 square feet, respectively. Soviets were lagging further, at 57.8%.

    Housing space is the best the USSR does in comparison to the USA.

    In 1970 there were 22 cars per 1,000 people in the USSR. In the USA there were 545 cars per 1,000 people. So Soviets had 4% as many cars as did Americans.

    In 1980 there were 50 cars per 1,000 people n the USSR. In the USA there were 710 cars per 1,000 people. So Soviets had 7% as many cars as did Americans. This was almost double improvement relative to America, but in terms of tiny numbers (difference of 3%). In contrast, in 1980 Portugal had 94 cars per 1,000 people - nearly double the Russian total.

    Soviets, lacking private cars, used public transportation instead, but (setting aside that the Moscow and St. Petersburg metros are perhaps the most beautiful in the world) these were also much more crowded than in the West (for example, Soviet trams were about 3 times more crowded per km of track than were western ones).

    In 1980 Americans consumed 81 kg of meat on average (not including poulty - with poulty it's about 100kg), Soviets only 50 kg (this may or may not include poultry).

    I didn't bother looking up televisions and other goods but I suspect the discrepancy was large.

    So the overall picture matches the per capita GDP result, despite the "bloat" involving stuff like advertising.

    Keep in mind that America was more unequal than was the USSR. As with income, IQ etc. there are discrete populations with their own norms in the USA. So materially, average Soviets may have been closer to America's blacks - and even much worse in comparison to its whites than the overall averages I listed indicate.* And unlike other poorer Europeans, they weren't catching up.

    There was no homelessness, no prostitution, no drugs, etc. in the USSR.
     
    There may be even less of that stuff in North Korea. So?

    * Within the USSR, Central Asia, Moldova and the Caucuses were poorer than Russia. But in the mid 1980s salaries here were on average were about 80%-85% of Russian ones, compared to black income being 60% of white income in America.
    , @AP

    There was no homelessness, no prostitution, no drugs, etc. in the USSR.
     
    This is a particularly stupid argument because the extent and devastating scale of alcohol abuse in the USSR far exceeded that of drug use in the USA. Russian life expectancy in 1980 (67) was a year lower than that of African Americans (68.1) (was cocaine a huge problem in 1980? The crack epidemic began a little later). Soviet drinking was probably no better than even today's opioid problem among white Americans - never mind comparing it what whites were up to in 1980.
    , @Hector_St_Clare
    Glossy,

    I mostly entirely agree with your comment. I think GDP counts all sorts of things that don't really correspond to human flourishing in any real sense. Here's the classic quotation on that subject from Robert F. Kennedy.

    "Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product - if we judge the United States of America by that - that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. "

    Alec Nove, who was a market socialist and a judicious (friendly) critic of the Soviet Union also said something to the same effect (he might have been paraphrasing one of the early capitalist economists). It was something like "in a society in which people are dishonest and apple farmers have to hire security to protect their orchard, the security guard's wages are counted as part of GDP: in a society in which people are honest and the orchards don't need to be protected, that bit of GDP suddenly vanishes."

    There is a whole lot of zero sum activity in our economy that's included in GDP. You're quite correct that most of the financial industry corresponds to, well, 'financial trickery', i.e. moving money around. These people don't actually produce anything, and much of what they accomplish amounts to making rich people even richer. You're also right to criticize the advertising and marketing industries, which largely amount to creating artificial demand by convincing people to pay more for goods than they otherwise would, to buy goods they don't need, to throw away goods that are perfectly functional, or to make distinctions that don't exist, and many of whose techniques amount to either lying or psychological manipulation. (For that matter, I'd put a lot of what lawyers do in the 'zero sum, unproductive activity' column.

    Have you ever read Paul Sweezy's Monopoly Capital, published in 1967? Sweezy was a Harvard-trained Marxist economist: he had a (to me) very convincing diagnosis of the critical weak points of the American social and economic system, although of course he was overly optimistic about the future growth rates of the Soviet Union. Anyway, he believed that late capitalism in America was characterized by oligopoly (domination of most industries by a small number of producers), that this form of capitalism would share some of the features of both competitive and monopolistic capitalism; that the combination of characteristics would lead to the drive towards simultaneously high prices and low costs, and that this would cause crises of underconsumption; and that the problem of underconsumption would lead to a large and growing chunk of GDP being devoted to what he called "the sales effort" (e.g. marketing, advertising and the like). He saw the sales effort as a desperate endeavor to try to 'artificially' increase demand in order to avoid underconsumptionism, and as evidence of the overall instability of the system.

    I'm kind of mangling his argument and he was of course wrong about some things, but you should still read the book: a lot of his arguments remind me of yours.
    , @Hector_St_Clare
    Glossy,

    I entirely agree with you also with regard to health care. Health care costs more money in the US (partly due to zero-sum competition, unnecessary procedures, lack of preventive care and so forth) than in Europe, and represents a bigger contribution to GDP, but of course Europeans are healthier.

    I don't think the GDP comparisons are entirely worthless. As pointed out, the Soviet Union certainly had its share of problems, including misallocation of resources due to failures of central planning. They could have used some moderate reforms, towards something more like the Hungarian model or maybe even the Yugoslavian. And their rate of growth was certainly slowing after about 1975 or so. That being said, I do think in the last analysis that communism of some sort is a more appealing system to me than capitalism.

    Regarding your last comment I'd agree in part and disagree in part. Homelessness is a big indicator of a problematic society, and it's to the credit of the communists than they eliminated it. I'm a liberal on most sexual ethics issues so I don't think prostitution is in principle a negative for society or should be suppressed, although any forms of it involving coercion or the underage should of course be banned. Regarding drugs, I'd make a big distinction between hard and soft drugs: I don't think marijuana is a net negative for society, for example.
  103. Glossy says: • Website
    @Hector_St_Clare
    Anatoly,

    Yes, I have a ton of sympathy for communist ideals and for the old Eastern Bloc, and for that reason I really like Bat'ka. He seems to have done a good job with Belarus, and the Belarussians generally seem to like him.

    I found an interesting paper from around the end of the Cold War by one, Alexeev estimating GINI indexes for the different Soviet republics. Belarus was by the far the least economically unequal, their GINI index was around 18-20 or so IIRC. That would be just a bit higher than the GDR and Czechoslovakia at the time, and better than any society in the world today.


    Have you been there BTW?

    Bat’ka is great. They call him the last dictator in Europe because he’s actually the last democrat in it, meaning that he works in the interests of his people. Democracy literally means people power in Greek. Nothing more and nothing less.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Yevardian
    Well there's also Priednostrovia, if you can count that... What did the nickname Батька originate from? All I know about Lukashenko is some colourful quotes "if they call me a dicatator, ok; better to a dictator than be a gay!" and that he voted against leaving the USSR.
    I've spoken with several people from Belarus and they all seem to approve of him overall.
  104. @CB
    A Muscovite friend claims me that all condoms available today in Russia come from the same British company, and that rumours that their is a conspiracy to make import defective condoms in order to increase the number of pregnancies. One of the more amusing conspiracy theories that I have heard.

    About abortion as birth control in Russia. I've visited a gynaecology ward in a Russian hospital, and found that almost all in-patients are old women with ovarian cancer or young women getting an abortion. N=1, but it seemed to me quite striking.

    London Rubber (Durex) is dominant but there are also Armenian condoms on the market. Arranged container loads of them about 5 years ago. Soviet space suits were made in Armenia.

    Read More
  105. @Marcus
    Great news! Are they incentivizing return of Russians from FSU to RF?

    There are programs in place to ease settlement but not really incentives.

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  106. @melanf
    "In Russia, no one leaves their city to look for nature, except as a tourist"

    Complete nonsense. Or is this a joke?

    Lots of people go fishing, camping, skiing and visit their dachas but get past the honeypots and you do not see Sunday drivers deep in the countryside. People do not take cars for a spin along the Volga or into the desert just to look.

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    • Replies: @melanf
    "People do not take cars for a spin along the Volga or into the desert just to look."

    Perhaps such travel in Russia is less common than in other countries, but in Russia there are definitely fans of such tourism.

    Maybe a little popularity of such trips caused by low population density - to see the wild forest, no need to go far. Here's http://savepic.ru/12908660.jpg a lake in forest within the administrative boundaries of St. Petersburg (near my home). In most large cities of the world, such wild places are absent
    , @Boris N

    you do not see Sunday drivers deep in the countryside. People do not take cars for a spin along the Volga or into the desert just to look.
     
    Because there is nothing to see there. I mean, really. Nature in Russia is very monotonous. What is the point going "deep in the countryside"? Call on your grannie? Villages and cities (particularly small ones) are hardly different from each other. Ever read travel notes about Russia from Europeans in the 19th century? They said nearly always the same: miles and miles and miles of the same landscape. If we compare I wonder how many travel around Saskatchewan for fun? There they have such a joke: "There's lots to see. Nothin' to block your view".
  107. @melanf
    "He (Nicholas I) also created modern Eurasianism, "

    Definitely not


    " He set up the Third Department, bureaucratically, the ancestor of the MVD and KGB."

    before Nicholas similar state organizations have existed for hundreds years in different countries



    "He managed to get Britain and France to combine with Turkey and Austria against him by launching an attack to capture Constantinople via Bessarabia. (The ultimate aim was the conquest of India). This is the source of the continuing Russian reputation for political aggression."

    About India - propaganda nonsense.
    As Nicholas has determined the fate of Russia in a greater degree than Stalin - I don't understand

    “As Nicholas has determined the fate of Russia in a greater degree than Stalin – I don’t understand” Exactly so.

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  108. @Glossy
    I see that AP responded with some nonsense about GDP.

    Quick thoughts on why GDP comparisons across the old Cold War divide are silly:

    In no particular order,

    Advertising annoys consumers, decreasing their quality of life, but adds to the GDP. There was no advertising in the USSR. The financial sector of market economies subtracts from the real standard of living. It's all essentially trickery. Yet it adds to the GDP. That was absent from Soviet life too. Same thing for gambling (preying on people's addictions) and a million other things.

    The more laissez faire an economy is, the more economic activity there will be in it. But a lot of this extra economic activity will be harmful or irrelevant to the standard of living. It's always possible to make money and add to the GDP by scamming or annoying your fellow citizens. The USSR banned most of the ways in which one can scam people, and that depressed its GDP in comparison to its Western rivals.

    A good example to keep in mind is Euro healthcare. It's less market-oriented than US healthcare, so it costs less and contributed less to the GDP. But the quality of care is about the same. Less insurance company involvement, less profit motive in prescribing drugs that people don't need, etc.

    There is generally more standard-of-living bang per GDP buck in Europe than in the US, and there was more of it in the USSR than in the market economies of the West.

    Then there are all sort of things that don't show up on the GDP at all but which have to do with the standard of living. There was no homelessness, no prostitution, no drugs, etc. in the USSR.

    The irony is that I agree with all that.

    I think it would be a great idea to excise about 80% of the financial industry and send their quants to work on genetic IQ augmentation and Orion Drive spaceships.

    Thing is, the Soviet economy did have bloat, though of another sort – e.g., lots of excess steel, but no windscreen wipers.

    That bloat was easily far in excess of the bloat you see under capitalism.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov

    Thing is, the Soviet economy did have bloat, though of another sort – e.g., lots of excess steel, but no windscreen wipers.
     
    True. However, Shirpotreb departments of major MIC corporations (despite them hating this) were producing a variety of consumer goods--from lighting, to consumer electronics, to even clothing. Much of it was of a very good quality. USSR had huge issue with disproportions characteristic of mobilization type of economy but it could have been reformed. USSR was unlucky to have Gorbachev. When one has such people as Evgenii Evtushenko "advising" you on geopolitics or economy--that is the result one gets, a catastrophe.
    , @Glossy
    Of course there was bloat, but I don't see it as having been far in excess.

    I'm not against private enterprise in general. The biggest determinant for the real standard of living, besides HBD of course, is whether or not the powers that be care about the people they're governing. Nationalism sometimes motivates elites to care about their peoples. That's one of its good sides from the humanitarian perspective. Its bad sides, from that perspective, mostly have to do with wars.

    A government that cares about its people wouldn't necessarily create a state-run economy. But it would definitely intervene in the economy much more than an outfit like the Economist magazine would advise. It would ban drugs, porn, gambling and other sources of addiction, it would get rid of most high finance, limit inequality, support high culture, foster domestic manufacturing, etc.

    , @Hector_St_Clare
    I'm not sure I'm in favour of Orion Drive spaceships per se (though I'd love to see genetic engineering of the human species in general, and IQ augmentation for the lower end of the IQ spectrum sounds like a great idea). But I totally agree with you about shutting down most of the finance industry and putting their smart and technically skilled people to work in other fields of genuine social value.
    , @inertial

    I think it would be a great idea to excise about 80% of the financial industry and send their quants to work on genetic IQ augmentation and Orion Drive spaceships.
     
    A most disreputable kind of high frequency trading (or whatever) is more useful for a society than this propellerhead stuff.
  109. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @Anatoly Karlin
    The irony is that I agree with all that.

    I think it would be a great idea to excise about 80% of the financial industry and send their quants to work on genetic IQ augmentation and Orion Drive spaceships.

    Thing is, the Soviet economy did have bloat, though of another sort - e.g., lots of excess steel, but no windscreen wipers.

    That bloat was easily far in excess of the bloat you see under capitalism.

    Thing is, the Soviet economy did have bloat, though of another sort – e.g., lots of excess steel, but no windscreen wipers.

    True. However, Shirpotreb departments of major MIC corporations (despite them hating this) were producing a variety of consumer goods–from lighting, to consumer electronics, to even clothing. Much of it was of a very good quality. USSR had huge issue with disproportions characteristic of mobilization type of economy but it could have been reformed. USSR was unlucky to have Gorbachev. When one has such people as Evgenii Evtushenko “advising” you on geopolitics or economy–that is the result one gets, a catastrophe.

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  110. Glossy says: • Website
    @Anatoly Karlin
    The irony is that I agree with all that.

    I think it would be a great idea to excise about 80% of the financial industry and send their quants to work on genetic IQ augmentation and Orion Drive spaceships.

    Thing is, the Soviet economy did have bloat, though of another sort - e.g., lots of excess steel, but no windscreen wipers.

    That bloat was easily far in excess of the bloat you see under capitalism.

    Of course there was bloat, but I don’t see it as having been far in excess.

    I’m not against private enterprise in general. The biggest determinant for the real standard of living, besides HBD of course, is whether or not the powers that be care about the people they’re governing. Nationalism sometimes motivates elites to care about their peoples. That’s one of its good sides from the humanitarian perspective. Its bad sides, from that perspective, mostly have to do with wars.

    A government that cares about its people wouldn’t necessarily create a state-run economy. But it would definitely intervene in the economy much more than an outfit like the Economist magazine would advise. It would ban drugs, porn, gambling and other sources of addiction, it would get rid of most high finance, limit inequality, support high culture, foster domestic manufacturing, etc.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous Nephew
    "It would ban drugs, porn, gambling and other sources of addiction, it would get rid of most high finance, limit inequality, support high culture, foster domestic manufacturing, etc."

    You're describing the Britain of 1957, when Britons were most happy.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4146550/Why-1957-Britain-s-happiest-year.html
  111. Yevardian says:
    @Glossy
    Bat'ka is great. They call him the last dictator in Europe because he's actually the last democrat in it, meaning that he works in the interests of his people. Democracy literally means people power in Greek. Nothing more and nothing less.

    Well there’s also Priednostrovia, if you can count that… What did the nickname Батька originate from? All I know about Lukashenko is some colourful quotes “if they call me a dicatator, ok; better to a dictator than be a gay!” and that he voted against leaving the USSR.
    I’ve spoken with several people from Belarus and they all seem to approve of him overall.

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    • Replies: @Glossy
    The original meaning must have been "father". But the more current sense is "leader of men". Maybe not of very sophisticated or law-abiding men. There was Bat'ka Makhno ("Chief Makhno" I guess) during the Civil War. He's associated with fun, colorful lawlessness in pop culture. It's applied to Lukashenko ironically.

    During my stays in Moscow's children's hospitals in the 1980s the dominant personalities among the kids were sometimes called bat'kas. Natural leaders. This use is almost always ironic though.
    , @Hector_St_Clare
    Yevardian,

    Glossy and Anatoly can probably fill you in more than I can. My understanding of Lukashenko is that he's tried, more or less, to keep going as many aspects as he can of the Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic. They have a partially market economy but you could call him a neo-communist, I think.

    Bat'ka is a diminutive of 'father' so I guess something like 'daddy'? Serfs also used to call their master "Batiushka", which is a different diminuitive of the same word.
  112. Glossy says: • Website
    @Yevardian
    Well there's also Priednostrovia, if you can count that... What did the nickname Батька originate from? All I know about Lukashenko is some colourful quotes "if they call me a dicatator, ok; better to a dictator than be a gay!" and that he voted against leaving the USSR.
    I've spoken with several people from Belarus and they all seem to approve of him overall.

    The original meaning must have been “father”. But the more current sense is “leader of men”. Maybe not of very sophisticated or law-abiding men. There was Bat’ka Makhno (“Chief Makhno” I guess) during the Civil War. He’s associated with fun, colorful lawlessness in pop culture. It’s applied to Lukashenko ironically.

    During my stays in Moscow’s children’s hospitals in the 1980s the dominant personalities among the kids were sometimes called bat’kas. Natural leaders. This use is almost always ironic though.

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    • Replies: @AP

    The original meaning must have been “father”. But the more current sense is “leader of men”.
     
    In both the modern Ukrainian and Belarussian languages "batka" (batko in Ukrainian - it is Batko not Batka Makhno) means "father." Batko did not mean "chief", it meant father and was used as a term of endearment, analogous I suppose to the Russian expression царь-батюшка.

    Interestingly, Russian and Polish both use "otets" for father.
  113. AP says:
    @Glossy
    I see that AP responded with some nonsense about GDP.

    Quick thoughts on why GDP comparisons across the old Cold War divide are silly:

    In no particular order,

    Advertising annoys consumers, decreasing their quality of life, but adds to the GDP. There was no advertising in the USSR. The financial sector of market economies subtracts from the real standard of living. It's all essentially trickery. Yet it adds to the GDP. That was absent from Soviet life too. Same thing for gambling (preying on people's addictions) and a million other things.

    The more laissez faire an economy is, the more economic activity there will be in it. But a lot of this extra economic activity will be harmful or irrelevant to the standard of living. It's always possible to make money and add to the GDP by scamming or annoying your fellow citizens. The USSR banned most of the ways in which one can scam people, and that depressed its GDP in comparison to its Western rivals.

    A good example to keep in mind is Euro healthcare. It's less market-oriented than US healthcare, so it costs less and contributed less to the GDP. But the quality of care is about the same. Less insurance company involvement, less profit motive in prescribing drugs that people don't need, etc.

    There is generally more standard-of-living bang per GDP buck in Europe than in the US, and there was more of it in the USSR than in the market economies of the West.

    Then there are all sort of things that don't show up on the GDP at all but which have to do with the standard of living. There was no homelessness, no prostitution, no drugs, etc. in the USSR.

    Quick thoughts on why GDP comparisons across the old Cold War divide are silly:

    In no particular order,

    Advertising annoys consumers, decreasing their quality of life, but adds to the GDP. There was no advertising in the USSR. The financial sector of market economies subtracts from the real standard of living. It’s all essentially trickery. Yet it adds to the GDP.

    If you don’t like the fact that the USSR under Brezhnev was stuck at only about 1/3 of the USA’s GDP while non-commie European countries like Portugal or Greece pulled ahead, you can simply consider various material goods.

    In 1970 average housing space for Soviets was 118 square feet; for Americans it was 183. So Soviets had per capita 64.5% of Americans’ living space.

    In 1980 these numbers were 118 and 204 square feet, respectively. Soviets were lagging further, at 57.8%.

    Housing space is the best the USSR does in comparison to the USA.

    In 1970 there were 22 cars per 1,000 people in the USSR. In the USA there were 545 cars per 1,000 people. So Soviets had 4% as many cars as did Americans.

    In 1980 there were 50 cars per 1,000 people n the USSR. In the USA there were 710 cars per 1,000 people. So Soviets had 7% as many cars as did Americans. This was almost double improvement relative to America, but in terms of tiny numbers (difference of 3%). In contrast, in 1980 Portugal had 94 cars per 1,000 people – nearly double the Russian total.

    Soviets, lacking private cars, used public transportation instead, but (setting aside that the Moscow and St. Petersburg metros are perhaps the most beautiful in the world) these were also much more crowded than in the West (for example, Soviet trams were about 3 times more crowded per km of track than were western ones).

    In 1980 Americans consumed 81 kg of meat on average (not including poulty – with poulty it’s about 100kg), Soviets only 50 kg (this may or may not include poultry).

    I didn’t bother looking up televisions and other goods but I suspect the discrepancy was large.

    So the overall picture matches the per capita GDP result, despite the “bloat” involving stuff like advertising.

    Keep in mind that America was more unequal than was the USSR. As with income, IQ etc. there are discrete populations with their own norms in the USA. So materially, average Soviets may have been closer to America’s blacks – and even much worse in comparison to its whites than the overall averages I listed indicate.* And unlike other poorer Europeans, they weren’t catching up.

    There was no homelessness, no prostitution, no drugs, etc. in the USSR.

    There may be even less of that stuff in North Korea. So?

    * Within the USSR, Central Asia, Moldova and the Caucuses were poorer than Russia. But in the mid 1980s salaries here were on average were about 80%-85% of Russian ones, compared to black income being 60% of white income in America.

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  114. AP says:
    @Glossy
    The original meaning must have been "father". But the more current sense is "leader of men". Maybe not of very sophisticated or law-abiding men. There was Bat'ka Makhno ("Chief Makhno" I guess) during the Civil War. He's associated with fun, colorful lawlessness in pop culture. It's applied to Lukashenko ironically.

    During my stays in Moscow's children's hospitals in the 1980s the dominant personalities among the kids were sometimes called bat'kas. Natural leaders. This use is almost always ironic though.

    The original meaning must have been “father”. But the more current sense is “leader of men”.

    In both the modern Ukrainian and Belarussian languages “batka” (batko in Ukrainian – it is Batko not Batka Makhno) means “father.” Batko did not mean “chief”, it meant father and was used as a term of endearment, analogous I suppose to the Russian expression царь-батюшка.

    Interestingly, Russian and Polish both use “otets” for father.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    I can assure you that during my childhood kids in Moscow hospitals did not call their informal leaders in games "fathers". That would have been creepy. We weren't like that.

    I don't know if the "gang leader", "commander of the outlaws" meaning originated with Makhno, but it's a real meaning.

    From the English Wiktionary:

    (colloquial) father, dad не лезь поперёд батьки в пекло — don't jump the gun; haste makes waste
    2.(colloquial) "father", boss, master, lord, kingpin, number one
    3.(colloquial) a nickname for president of Belarus Alyaksandr Lukashenka, also the Belarusian term ба́цька ‎(bácʹka) is used in this sense.

    The Russian Wiktionary:

    1.то же, что батя ◆ Не указан пример употребления (см. рекомендации).
    2.глава вооружённых формирований (в Белоруссии, на Украине, и на юге России во время Гражданской войны)
  115. Glossy says: • Website
    @AP

    The original meaning must have been “father”. But the more current sense is “leader of men”.
     
    In both the modern Ukrainian and Belarussian languages "batka" (batko in Ukrainian - it is Batko not Batka Makhno) means "father." Batko did not mean "chief", it meant father and was used as a term of endearment, analogous I suppose to the Russian expression царь-батюшка.

    Interestingly, Russian and Polish both use "otets" for father.

    I can assure you that during my childhood kids in Moscow hospitals did not call their informal leaders in games “fathers”. That would have been creepy. We weren’t like that.

    I don’t know if the “gang leader”, “commander of the outlaws” meaning originated with Makhno, but it’s a real meaning.

    From the English Wiktionary:

    (colloquial) father, dad не лезь поперёд батьки в пекло — don’t jump the gun; haste makes waste
    2.(colloquial) “father”, boss, master, lord, kingpin, number one
    3.(colloquial) a nickname for president of Belarus Alyaksandr Lukashenka, also the Belarusian term ба́цька ‎(bácʹka) is used in this sense.

    The Russian Wiktionary:

    1.то же, что батя ◆ Не указан пример употребления (см. рекомендации).
    2.глава вооружённых формирований (в Белоруссии, на Украине, и на юге России во время Гражданской войны)

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    • Replies: @Glossy
    It's a bit like "godfather". There's the original meaning, and then the other, more common one. Only a bit though, because "godfather" sounds more sinister, less ironic to me than "bat'ka". And "godfather" doesn't sound folksy - that's another quality of that word in Russian.
    , @AP

    I can assure you that during my childhood kids in Moscow hospitals did not call their informal leaders in games “fathers”. That would have been creepy. We weren’t like that.
     
    I was discussing the meaning of this word in Ukrainian (and presumably Belrussian), not Russian. Batko is the word for father, Batkivshchyna the word for Fatherland (Russian Otchestvo). Batko is not a word commonly used for "chief" in Ukrainian - Batko Makhno is a unique nickname. There were many otamans but only one "Batko."
  116. melanf says:
    @Philip Owen
    Lots of people go fishing, camping, skiing and visit their dachas but get past the honeypots and you do not see Sunday drivers deep in the countryside. People do not take cars for a spin along the Volga or into the desert just to look.

    “People do not take cars for a spin along the Volga or into the desert just to look.”

    Perhaps such travel in Russia is less common than in other countries, but in Russia there are definitely fans of such tourism.

    Maybe a little popularity of such trips caused by low population density – to see the wild forest, no need to go far. Here’sa lake in forest within the administrative boundaries of St. Petersburg (near my home). In most large cities of the world, such wild places are absent

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  117. Glossy says: • Website
    @Glossy
    I can assure you that during my childhood kids in Moscow hospitals did not call their informal leaders in games "fathers". That would have been creepy. We weren't like that.

    I don't know if the "gang leader", "commander of the outlaws" meaning originated with Makhno, but it's a real meaning.

    From the English Wiktionary:

    (colloquial) father, dad не лезь поперёд батьки в пекло — don't jump the gun; haste makes waste
    2.(colloquial) "father", boss, master, lord, kingpin, number one
    3.(colloquial) a nickname for president of Belarus Alyaksandr Lukashenka, also the Belarusian term ба́цька ‎(bácʹka) is used in this sense.

    The Russian Wiktionary:

    1.то же, что батя ◆ Не указан пример употребления (см. рекомендации).
    2.глава вооружённых формирований (в Белоруссии, на Украине, и на юге России во время Гражданской войны)

    It’s a bit like “godfather”. There’s the original meaning, and then the other, more common one. Only a bit though, because “godfather” sounds more sinister, less ironic to me than “bat’ka”. And “godfather” doesn’t sound folksy – that’s another quality of that word in Russian.

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  118. The important thing is white Christian Russians have more kids.

    I think affluent Russians should be encouraged to have 7 kids each.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous Nephew
    Back in the Soviet days didn't mothers of many kids get "Hero Of The Soviet Union" awards? Putin could reinstate that.

    In fact that would be a YUGE (and triggering) eugenic Trump policy - to make public awards to mothers with degrees who

    a) have many children
    b) are still married to the children's father
    c) are not on welfare

    You might need to tweak the criteria a bit (do Haredi women go to uni? They sure reproduce a lot, but do they make the US a better place?) but the general idea is sound. You might even be able to drop the degree requirement, just keep the welfare one.


    (Hector St Claire - many things which are bad for society actually increase GDP - like having your infant kids looked after by paid strangers)

    , @annamaria
    "I think affluent Russians should be encouraged to have 7 kids each."
    That would be great
  119. AP says:
    @Glossy
    I can assure you that during my childhood kids in Moscow hospitals did not call their informal leaders in games "fathers". That would have been creepy. We weren't like that.

    I don't know if the "gang leader", "commander of the outlaws" meaning originated with Makhno, but it's a real meaning.

    From the English Wiktionary:

    (colloquial) father, dad не лезь поперёд батьки в пекло — don't jump the gun; haste makes waste
    2.(colloquial) "father", boss, master, lord, kingpin, number one
    3.(colloquial) a nickname for president of Belarus Alyaksandr Lukashenka, also the Belarusian term ба́цька ‎(bácʹka) is used in this sense.

    The Russian Wiktionary:

    1.то же, что батя ◆ Не указан пример употребления (см. рекомендации).
    2.глава вооружённых формирований (в Белоруссии, на Украине, и на юге России во время Гражданской войны)

    I can assure you that during my childhood kids in Moscow hospitals did not call their informal leaders in games “fathers”. That would have been creepy. We weren’t like that.

    I was discussing the meaning of this word in Ukrainian (and presumably Belrussian), not Russian. Batko is the word for father, Batkivshchyna the word for Fatherland (Russian Otchestvo). Batko is not a word commonly used for “chief” in Ukrainian – Batko Makhno is a unique nickname. There were many otamans but only one “Batko.”

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  120. AP says:
    @Glossy
    I see that AP responded with some nonsense about GDP.

    Quick thoughts on why GDP comparisons across the old Cold War divide are silly:

    In no particular order,

    Advertising annoys consumers, decreasing their quality of life, but adds to the GDP. There was no advertising in the USSR. The financial sector of market economies subtracts from the real standard of living. It's all essentially trickery. Yet it adds to the GDP. That was absent from Soviet life too. Same thing for gambling (preying on people's addictions) and a million other things.

    The more laissez faire an economy is, the more economic activity there will be in it. But a lot of this extra economic activity will be harmful or irrelevant to the standard of living. It's always possible to make money and add to the GDP by scamming or annoying your fellow citizens. The USSR banned most of the ways in which one can scam people, and that depressed its GDP in comparison to its Western rivals.

    A good example to keep in mind is Euro healthcare. It's less market-oriented than US healthcare, so it costs less and contributed less to the GDP. But the quality of care is about the same. Less insurance company involvement, less profit motive in prescribing drugs that people don't need, etc.

    There is generally more standard-of-living bang per GDP buck in Europe than in the US, and there was more of it in the USSR than in the market economies of the West.

    Then there are all sort of things that don't show up on the GDP at all but which have to do with the standard of living. There was no homelessness, no prostitution, no drugs, etc. in the USSR.

    There was no homelessness, no prostitution, no drugs, etc. in the USSR.

    This is a particularly stupid argument because the extent and devastating scale of alcohol abuse in the USSR far exceeded that of drug use in the USA. Russian life expectancy in 1980 (67) was a year lower than that of African Americans (68.1) (was cocaine a huge problem in 1980? The crack epidemic began a little later). Soviet drinking was probably no better than even today’s opioid problem among white Americans – never mind comparing it what whites were up to in 1980.

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  121. @CB
    A Muscovite friend claims me that all condoms available today in Russia come from the same British company, and that rumours that their is a conspiracy to make import defective condoms in order to increase the number of pregnancies. One of the more amusing conspiracy theories that I have heard.

    About abortion as birth control in Russia. I've visited a gynaecology ward in a Russian hospital, and found that almost all in-patients are old women with ovarian cancer or young women getting an abortion. N=1, but it seemed to me quite striking.

    a conspiracy to make import defective condoms in order to increase the number of pregnancies. One of the more amusing conspiracy theories that I have heard.

    If you think THAT’S funny, how about 20% of oral birth control being non-hormonal placebos? Hilarious, eh? A riot if I ever heard of one.

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  122. @Yevardian
    Well there's also Priednostrovia, if you can count that... What did the nickname Батька originate from? All I know about Lukashenko is some colourful quotes "if they call me a dicatator, ok; better to a dictator than be a gay!" and that he voted against leaving the USSR.
    I've spoken with several people from Belarus and they all seem to approve of him overall.

    Yevardian,

    Glossy and Anatoly can probably fill you in more than I can. My understanding of Lukashenko is that he’s tried, more or less, to keep going as many aspects as he can of the Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic. They have a partially market economy but you could call him a neo-communist, I think.

    Bat’ka is a diminutive of ‘father’ so I guess something like ‘daddy’? Serfs also used to call their master “Batiushka”, which is a different diminuitive of the same word.

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  123. Thea says:

    “Russia is longer the absolute outlier it once was.” I think you mean “is NO longer.”

    I had the impression the 1960s were the halcyon days of the USSR. I’m surprised there isn’t more romantic or nostalgic art looking back on those days.

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  124. Agent76 says:

    Jan 16, 2017 US military–industrial complex is willing to risk nuclear war with Russia

    Author and activist David Swanson discusses the anti-Russian media frenzy, attributing it to the Democrats’ desire to explain why Donald Trump won the presidential election without blaming the Democratic Party or the political establishment as a whole. He also addresses the geopolitical animosity toward Russia, spurred by war-profiteers.

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  125. @Anatoly Karlin
    Ways in which Soviet demographics 1965-1985 was abberant:

    * Sustained decline in life expectancy during peacetime.
    * Sustained rise in infant mortality during peacetime - the only such case amongst the major industrialized nations.
    * Concealing demographic statistics to hide this by the 70s.
    * Concealing them under so many layers that junior members of the Politburo had to consult with the KGB to get at the real situation in the country.
    * Most of the leadership of the country being themselves vodka-drenched alcoholics (Yeltsin was not an atypical representative of this class).

    Well, Gorbachev had the right idea about that, seemingly his only one: decrease the availability of alcohol. So this problem was solvable without the market.
     
    Gorbachev certainly did more good than ill with that, I have always said that, but he couldn't resolve a couple of fundamental problems:
    (1) Lack of consequences to turning up drunk.
    (2) Lack of high quality, affordable substitutes for vodka (i.e. beer and vodka).

    As soon as his restrictions were dropped, vodka bingeing once again returned, and with a vengeance.

    In fact, in the longterm, some of his actions actually exacerbated the situation. His anti-alcohol campaign included the destruction of Crimean wineyards, some of them with a century old pedigree, even though wine was never and could never be the problem, and is in fact (along with beer) a potential solution. As a result, the Russian wine industry was practically destroyed, and Russian wine consumption even today is still less than what it was in the 1970s and early 80s.

    But in its ham-fistedness this was a quintessentially sovok "solution."

    There’s an interesting contrast in Bulgaria, where in its Warsaw Pact days they exported vast amounts of cheap but relatively high-quality wine to the West. Bulgarian Cabernet Sauvignon was the go-to take to a party wine, great oak and blackberry flavours. I really miss the stuff, 20 years on.

    Iron Curtain fell, vineyards were privatised, and the wine vanished from UK shelves – it’s never really made a comeback. Looks like Viniprom, the State wine producer, was a damn sight more efficient than private enterprise.

    http://www.thewinestalker.net/2015/07/bulgaria1.html

    “See, what happened was that after communism fell, all the seized land from 1944 was given back to their “original owners”. So if your deceased grampa owned a vineyard back in the day then you suddenly found yourself owning a vineyard. You’ve never even touched a vine in your life and you don’t have any of the appropriate equipment. Some people tried to do it and succeeded, some tried to do it and failed miserably. But mostly they didn’t try at all, and there were many cases where nobody even knew who owned the rights to them now, so vineyards sat there and died without any caretaking whatsoever.”

    http://uk-wine-forum.co.uk/guests/caroline/wine-bulgaria.html

    “Reasons behind the drastic fall in sales are multiple and complex, and alone merit a whole feature on ‘how not to do things.’ For now, here’s the potted version: one of the main reasons was the long-winded and poorly handled land privatization process that resulted in tiny plots being handed back to owners with little interest in grapes. Many of these were abandoned or left to fall into ruin. Lack of cooperation or shared vision between growers and wineries was another issue. Growers wanted to pick as early as possible to get paid before theft or poor weather lost them their cash crop. Wineries paying early in the fight for fruit supplies only added to the pressure, and the result was mean, unripe wines instead of those soft, fruity numbers we’d all fallen for – just at a time when the New World was hitting the shelves in a major way. Even as recently as a visit in 2003, it was clear that many winemakers believed grapes grew in the back of trucks, and that’s where their job started.”

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  126. @Glossy
    I see that AP responded with some nonsense about GDP.

    Quick thoughts on why GDP comparisons across the old Cold War divide are silly:

    In no particular order,

    Advertising annoys consumers, decreasing their quality of life, but adds to the GDP. There was no advertising in the USSR. The financial sector of market economies subtracts from the real standard of living. It's all essentially trickery. Yet it adds to the GDP. That was absent from Soviet life too. Same thing for gambling (preying on people's addictions) and a million other things.

    The more laissez faire an economy is, the more economic activity there will be in it. But a lot of this extra economic activity will be harmful or irrelevant to the standard of living. It's always possible to make money and add to the GDP by scamming or annoying your fellow citizens. The USSR banned most of the ways in which one can scam people, and that depressed its GDP in comparison to its Western rivals.

    A good example to keep in mind is Euro healthcare. It's less market-oriented than US healthcare, so it costs less and contributed less to the GDP. But the quality of care is about the same. Less insurance company involvement, less profit motive in prescribing drugs that people don't need, etc.

    There is generally more standard-of-living bang per GDP buck in Europe than in the US, and there was more of it in the USSR than in the market economies of the West.

    Then there are all sort of things that don't show up on the GDP at all but which have to do with the standard of living. There was no homelessness, no prostitution, no drugs, etc. in the USSR.

    Glossy,

    I mostly entirely agree with your comment. I think GDP counts all sorts of things that don’t really correspond to human flourishing in any real sense. Here’s the classic quotation on that subject from Robert F. Kennedy.

    “Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. ”

    Alec Nove, who was a market socialist and a judicious (friendly) critic of the Soviet Union also said something to the same effect (he might have been paraphrasing one of the early capitalist economists). It was something like “in a society in which people are dishonest and apple farmers have to hire security to protect their orchard, the security guard’s wages are counted as part of GDP: in a society in which people are honest and the orchards don’t need to be protected, that bit of GDP suddenly vanishes.”

    There is a whole lot of zero sum activity in our economy that’s included in GDP. You’re quite correct that most of the financial industry corresponds to, well, ‘financial trickery’, i.e. moving money around. These people don’t actually produce anything, and much of what they accomplish amounts to making rich people even richer. You’re also right to criticize the advertising and marketing industries, which largely amount to creating artificial demand by convincing people to pay more for goods than they otherwise would, to buy goods they don’t need, to throw away goods that are perfectly functional, or to make distinctions that don’t exist, and many of whose techniques amount to either lying or psychological manipulation. (For that matter, I’d put a lot of what lawyers do in the ‘zero sum, unproductive activity’ column.

    Have you ever read Paul Sweezy’s Monopoly Capital, published in 1967? Sweezy was a Harvard-trained Marxist economist: he had a (to me) very convincing diagnosis of the critical weak points of the American social and economic system, although of course he was overly optimistic about the future growth rates of the Soviet Union. Anyway, he believed that late capitalism in America was characterized by oligopoly (domination of most industries by a small number of producers), that this form of capitalism would share some of the features of both competitive and monopolistic capitalism; that the combination of characteristics would lead to the drive towards simultaneously high prices and low costs, and that this would cause crises of underconsumption; and that the problem of underconsumption would lead to a large and growing chunk of GDP being devoted to what he called “the sales effort” (e.g. marketing, advertising and the like). He saw the sales effort as a desperate endeavor to try to ‘artificially’ increase demand in order to avoid underconsumptionism, and as evidence of the overall instability of the system.

    I’m kind of mangling his argument and he was of course wrong about some things, but you should still read the book: a lot of his arguments remind me of yours.

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  127. @Priss Factor
    The important thing is white Christian Russians have more kids.

    I think affluent Russians should be encouraged to have 7 kids each.

    Back in the Soviet days didn’t mothers of many kids get “Hero Of The Soviet Union” awards? Putin could reinstate that.

    In fact that would be a YUGE (and triggering) eugenic Trump policy – to make public awards to mothers with degrees who

    a) have many children
    b) are still married to the children’s father
    c) are not on welfare

    You might need to tweak the criteria a bit (do Haredi women go to uni? They sure reproduce a lot, but do they make the US a better place?) but the general idea is sound. You might even be able to drop the degree requirement, just keep the welfare one.

    (Hector St Claire – many things which are bad for society actually increase GDP – like having your infant kids looked after by paid strangers)

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  128. @Anatoly Karlin
    The irony is that I agree with all that.

    I think it would be a great idea to excise about 80% of the financial industry and send their quants to work on genetic IQ augmentation and Orion Drive spaceships.

    Thing is, the Soviet economy did have bloat, though of another sort - e.g., lots of excess steel, but no windscreen wipers.

    That bloat was easily far in excess of the bloat you see under capitalism.

    I’m not sure I’m in favour of Orion Drive spaceships per se (though I’d love to see genetic engineering of the human species in general, and IQ augmentation for the lower end of the IQ spectrum sounds like a great idea). But I totally agree with you about shutting down most of the finance industry and putting their smart and technically skilled people to work in other fields of genuine social value.

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  129. @Glossy
    I see that AP responded with some nonsense about GDP.

    Quick thoughts on why GDP comparisons across the old Cold War divide are silly:

    In no particular order,

    Advertising annoys consumers, decreasing their quality of life, but adds to the GDP. There was no advertising in the USSR. The financial sector of market economies subtracts from the real standard of living. It's all essentially trickery. Yet it adds to the GDP. That was absent from Soviet life too. Same thing for gambling (preying on people's addictions) and a million other things.

    The more laissez faire an economy is, the more economic activity there will be in it. But a lot of this extra economic activity will be harmful or irrelevant to the standard of living. It's always possible to make money and add to the GDP by scamming or annoying your fellow citizens. The USSR banned most of the ways in which one can scam people, and that depressed its GDP in comparison to its Western rivals.

    A good example to keep in mind is Euro healthcare. It's less market-oriented than US healthcare, so it costs less and contributed less to the GDP. But the quality of care is about the same. Less insurance company involvement, less profit motive in prescribing drugs that people don't need, etc.

    There is generally more standard-of-living bang per GDP buck in Europe than in the US, and there was more of it in the USSR than in the market economies of the West.

    Then there are all sort of things that don't show up on the GDP at all but which have to do with the standard of living. There was no homelessness, no prostitution, no drugs, etc. in the USSR.

    Glossy,

    I entirely agree with you also with regard to health care. Health care costs more money in the US (partly due to zero-sum competition, unnecessary procedures, lack of preventive care and so forth) than in Europe, and represents a bigger contribution to GDP, but of course Europeans are healthier.

    I don’t think the GDP comparisons are entirely worthless. As pointed out, the Soviet Union certainly had its share of problems, including misallocation of resources due to failures of central planning. They could have used some moderate reforms, towards something more like the Hungarian model or maybe even the Yugoslavian. And their rate of growth was certainly slowing after about 1975 or so. That being said, I do think in the last analysis that communism of some sort is a more appealing system to me than capitalism.

    Regarding your last comment I’d agree in part and disagree in part. Homelessness is a big indicator of a problematic society, and it’s to the credit of the communists than they eliminated it. I’m a liberal on most sexual ethics issues so I don’t think prostitution is in principle a negative for society or should be suppressed, although any forms of it involving coercion or the underage should of course be banned. Regarding drugs, I’d make a big distinction between hard and soft drugs: I don’t think marijuana is a net negative for society, for example.

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  130. @Glossy
    Of course there was bloat, but I don't see it as having been far in excess.

    I'm not against private enterprise in general. The biggest determinant for the real standard of living, besides HBD of course, is whether or not the powers that be care about the people they're governing. Nationalism sometimes motivates elites to care about their peoples. That's one of its good sides from the humanitarian perspective. Its bad sides, from that perspective, mostly have to do with wars.

    A government that cares about its people wouldn't necessarily create a state-run economy. But it would definitely intervene in the economy much more than an outfit like the Economist magazine would advise. It would ban drugs, porn, gambling and other sources of addiction, it would get rid of most high finance, limit inequality, support high culture, foster domestic manufacturing, etc.

    “It would ban drugs, porn, gambling and other sources of addiction, it would get rid of most high finance, limit inequality, support high culture, foster domestic manufacturing, etc.”

    You’re describing the Britain of 1957, when Britons were most happy.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4146550/Why-1957-Britain-s-happiest-year.html

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  131. kek says:

    I’d like to see Putin incite a Russian baby boom by paying every Russian family 291165.50 Russian Roubles (5,000 US dollars) for every baby born. Just as Trump has promised to kill 3 regulations for every new 1 created I hope he deports 10 illegals for every US citizen baby born. We have 4 years make every day count.

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  132. annamaria says:
    @AP
    Troll tries and fails to make some points.

    Actually, he was quite good at making the precise points in response to yours (though that could have been done in a more civilized parlance). Perhaps you do not realize the degree of your Russophobia, which is responsible for the ridiculousness of your posts.
    Here is a topic for you to ponder on: many Soviet activists of holodomor were native Ukrainians.
    As for the current situation in Ukraine, it is unfortunate that the country has become subjugated by the Jewish and neo-Nazis’ groups; this is a truly paradoxical situation when the two supposedly antagonistic forces (both in service to the thieving oligarchs) converge on destroying the sovereignty of Ukraine.
    The attempts of the Ukrainian parliament at getting rid of Russian language in Ukraine are the best illustration to the depravity of the Kiev’ regime. You hate Stalin and the history of the Soviet Union? – well, this is not a basis for deriving the Ukrainian kids of Russian culture…. Ukraine is used as a patsy by the exceptional globalists of ziocon leaning. Nothing to be jolly about.

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    • Replies: @AP

    Perhaps you do not realize the degree of your Russophobia
     
    Well, dishonest one, point out where I have insulted the Russian culture or the Russian people.

    If you equate "Soviet" with "Russian", than you are the Russophobe.


    many Soviet activists of holodomor were native Ukrainians.
     
    This isn't on topic, but "many" indeed were. So? The most important ones for the most part weren't. They were:

    Kaganovich, a local from Kiev region, but of Jewish not Ukrainian ethnicity.

    Kosior, an ethnic Pole from Poland, who moved to Donbas as a child (his parents were factory workers).

    Postyshev, an ethnic Russian from Russia (Vladimir) who was sent to Ukraine by the Bolsheviks.

    Chubar, an ethnic Ukrainian from Zaporizhia region, close to Donbas.

    Stalin was of course ultimately in charge. He was a Gerogian, as you may know.

    And naturally the regime that came to power did so with an invasion from Russia, with local suport only in Donbas and Kharkiv.

  133. annamaria says:
    @Priss Factor
    The important thing is white Christian Russians have more kids.

    I think affluent Russians should be encouraged to have 7 kids each.

    “I think affluent Russians should be encouraged to have 7 kids each.”
    That would be great

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  134. Boris N says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Are you sure you're a Russian nationalist?

    I don’t belong to any political group or ideology. Moreover, I do not like that label as well, because nobody knows what Russian nationalism is and everybody call themselves and others “Russian nationalists” (Lenin, Stalin, Putin and the like are “Russian nationalists”? – OK, but then without me). Though some may call me that. Whatever. Why? One thing for sure I want Russia to be much better, and overpopulation would make it worse.

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    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
    I hear that not being a patriot is severely frowned upon in the land of the bear-riders.
  135. AP says:
    @annamaria
    Actually, he was quite good at making the precise points in response to yours (though that could have been done in a more civilized parlance). Perhaps you do not realize the degree of your Russophobia, which is responsible for the ridiculousness of your posts.
    Here is a topic for you to ponder on: many Soviet activists of holodomor were native Ukrainians.
    As for the current situation in Ukraine, it is unfortunate that the country has become subjugated by the Jewish and neo-Nazis' groups; this is a truly paradoxical situation when the two supposedly antagonistic forces (both in service to the thieving oligarchs) converge on destroying the sovereignty of Ukraine.
    The attempts of the Ukrainian parliament at getting rid of Russian language in Ukraine are the best illustration to the depravity of the Kiev' regime. You hate Stalin and the history of the Soviet Union? - well, this is not a basis for deriving the Ukrainian kids of Russian culture.... Ukraine is used as a patsy by the exceptional globalists of ziocon leaning. Nothing to be jolly about.

    Perhaps you do not realize the degree of your Russophobia

    Well, dishonest one, point out where I have insulted the Russian culture or the Russian people.

    If you equate “Soviet” with “Russian”, than you are the Russophobe.

    many Soviet activists of holodomor were native Ukrainians.

    This isn’t on topic, but “many” indeed were. So? The most important ones for the most part weren’t. They were:

    Kaganovich, a local from Kiev region, but of Jewish not Ukrainian ethnicity.

    Kosior, an ethnic Pole from Poland, who moved to Donbas as a child (his parents were factory workers).

    Postyshev, an ethnic Russian from Russia (Vladimir) who was sent to Ukraine by the Bolsheviks.

    Chubar, an ethnic Ukrainian from Zaporizhia region, close to Donbas.

    Stalin was of course ultimately in charge. He was a Gerogian, as you may know.

    And naturally the regime that came to power did so with an invasion from Russia, with local suport only in Donbas and Kharkiv.

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  136. @Boris N
    I don't belong to any political group or ideology. Moreover, I do not like that label as well, because nobody knows what Russian nationalism is and everybody call themselves and others "Russian nationalists" (Lenin, Stalin, Putin and the like are "Russian nationalists"? - OK, but then without me). Though some may call me that. Whatever. Why? One thing for sure I want Russia to be much better, and overpopulation would make it worse.

    I hear that not being a patriot is severely frowned upon in the land of the bear-riders.

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    • Replies: @Boris N
    Yes, the more they brag about being patriots the better the chance they have some villa in Nice (or in Montenegro/Bulgaria for the "poor") or an apartment on London or somewhere close, and their families, particularly their children live/study in the "hostile" West. And the highest point of a Russian "patriot" is to be one of the most boastful and end up being a sell-out to Ukraine.
  137. inertial says:

    1. Drinking was a huge problem in the USSR. People drunk more out of boredom than anything else. But drinking at work? That was quite rare, at least outside the very bottom of society. A Soviet enterprise could not fire you but they had other ways to punish. Public shaming, cutting your bonus (“13th salary,”) reassigning to a lower paying or a less prestigious job, depriving you of many non-monetary benefits distributed by your place of work.

    2. Soviet consumer goods were sometimes bad but mostly okay for the price. Often they were acceptable quality but unfashionable or behind the times. There was no such thing as Soviet luxury good. Soviet philosophy in regards to the consumer goods was that the state must satisfy basic needs first and everything else later or never, and anyway, you are a bad person if you want luxuries in the first place.

    3. I am sorry, but financial industry is an absolutely critical, important , and useful part of the economy. If you don’t understand this it says more about your ignorance than anything else. By the way, one of Russia’s problems is that it has a small and weak financial sector.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous Nephew
    Soviet telescopes ('TAL") were (and are still) pretty good. More solidly made than their Chinese counterparts, especially the mounts and equatorials.

    http://rus.telescopes.ru/product.html?cat=1
    , @Hector_St_Clare
    2. Soviet consumer goods were sometimes bad but mostly okay for the price. Often they were acceptable quality but unfashionable or behind the times. There was no such thing as Soviet luxury good. Soviet philosophy in regards to the consumer goods was that the state must satisfy basic needs first and everything else later or never, and anyway, you are a bad person if you want luxuries in the first place.

    I wouldn't take this as far as the Soviets did- I think there's a small role for luxury goods in a healthy society- but yea, in principle this sounds quite reasonable to me. This is part of the reason that while I recognize the faults of communist societies, the underlying ideals are ones I still have a ton of sympathy for.

    Likewise, I don't think there should be *no* financial industry, I'd like to see a relatively small and state-run finance industry that controls the flow of credit, investment and so forth, but I think modern western capitalist societies have a vastly overgrown, parasitic and negative sum financial industry.
  138. inertial says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    The irony is that I agree with all that.

    I think it would be a great idea to excise about 80% of the financial industry and send their quants to work on genetic IQ augmentation and Orion Drive spaceships.

    Thing is, the Soviet economy did have bloat, though of another sort - e.g., lots of excess steel, but no windscreen wipers.

    That bloat was easily far in excess of the bloat you see under capitalism.

    I think it would be a great idea to excise about 80% of the financial industry and send their quants to work on genetic IQ augmentation and Orion Drive spaceships.

    A most disreputable kind of high frequency trading (or whatever) is more useful for a society than this propellerhead stuff.

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  139. Boris N says:
    @Philip Owen
    And yet, I travel for 3.5 hours from Saratov to Penza and see almost no villages and certainly no towns. The biggest buildings are a modern pig farm. From a city of 1.5 million to one of 0.5 million, there is no highway and the condition of the road is appalling. In Russia, no one leaves their city to look for nature, except as a tourist.

    But then again, the river Hopper in East Voronezh is almost dead with excess nitrogen fertilizer run off but people still believe beavers live somewhere along its banks.

    That’s because Russia is so “hospitable” and “comfortable” to live in that Russians live only in a few livable spots scattered across the country and leave the remaining land empty. Not that empty, though, the land between Saratov and Penza is a well known agricultural region. There must be a lot of farmland around there and some villages, probably the highway isn’t going through the villages. Anyway there’s no point to sprawl and live in small “towns” like in America. What’s the point? What can people do there for living? Ever been in Canada or in the northwest Midwest (Dakota, Montana)? They live in a similar manner: a few scattered hub cities, and barely inhabited land in between. Actually Russia is very populated comparing to them. Both Dakotas have the density 5 persons per square km, the Voronezh region has 45. There’s no city with 1 or 0.5 million in Dakotas, where in Russia there are many. Climate and nature is very similar there (continental steppe/prairie). The rest of Russia is close to Western Canada. But nobody wonder why there are few people in Canada. In Russia you have 150 million in one of the harshest and most inhospitable lands on Earth, but some want more.

    As for the roads: I do not know what it has to do with population.

    As for rivers and all: and yet some want more population. Imagine, with such an over-exploitation already in effect, what would happen with the nature if Voronezh were 3 million? Imagine, 200 or even 300 million, where in similar conditions on the other continent there live only 30 million people (I mean Canada).

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  140. notanon says:

    well done, pooty

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    • Replies: @notanon
    still waiting for the biodomes though

    Russia is the perfect place to perfect them
  141. Boris N says:
    @Philip Owen
    Lots of people go fishing, camping, skiing and visit their dachas but get past the honeypots and you do not see Sunday drivers deep in the countryside. People do not take cars for a spin along the Volga or into the desert just to look.

    you do not see Sunday drivers deep in the countryside. People do not take cars for a spin along the Volga or into the desert just to look.

    Because there is nothing to see there. I mean, really. Nature in Russia is very monotonous. What is the point going “deep in the countryside”? Call on your grannie? Villages and cities (particularly small ones) are hardly different from each other. Ever read travel notes about Russia from Europeans in the 19th century? They said nearly always the same: miles and miles and miles of the same landscape. If we compare I wonder how many travel around Saskatchewan for fun? There they have such a joke: “There’s lots to see. Nothin’ to block your view”.

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  142. anon says: • Disclaimer
    @gjgj
    Your defense of this:

    "Just like the trends with fertility and mortality, this too can be considered a return to “demographic normality” after the Soviet aberration."

    Is basically the social policy version of people who say Soviets faked all their economic data (without explaining how it was possible for an agrarian country to turn into a major industrial one without sustained gdp growth).

    If Yeltsin/Putin didn't disclose that "fertility and mortality" stats were fake under USSR - which would have helped them enormously politically in the 90's/early 2000's - and still use them today then this argument is just a cop out.

    Fertility is still way bellow late Soviet period and Mortality is still way above the late Soviet period. And this is after 25 years! Mortality should be way below Soviet periods. All the murder/alcohol poisoning/etc statistics are a belated return to 1990 - a waste of two decades. The only thing the current government has improved singularly from the Soviet era is the suicide rate.

    "Sustained rise in infant mortality during peacetime" is false - there was a mild rise in the early 1970's and decline continued (the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality estimation has a non-ending decline from RSFSR to RF).

    And you're really fetishizing alcohol as main factor in mortality. I know its popular in english-language literature but its patently reductionist to the point of absurdity. And with illegal alcohol purchases included alcohol consumption in Russia has only decreased by a tiny fraction in the past 5 years (while external deaths fell by 1/2, 1/3, etc.) So if by "diversity of choice" you mean the general population now is now blessed to be too poor to consume goods it doesn't fit with the trends of the drastic social improvements of the past 5 years.

    And this is after 25 years!

    shouldn’t it be timed from the end of the post-soviet gangster era which made things worse?

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  143. notanon says:
    @gjgj
    Your defense of this:

    "Just like the trends with fertility and mortality, this too can be considered a return to “demographic normality” after the Soviet aberration."

    Is basically the social policy version of people who say Soviets faked all their economic data (without explaining how it was possible for an agrarian country to turn into a major industrial one without sustained gdp growth).

    If Yeltsin/Putin didn't disclose that "fertility and mortality" stats were fake under USSR - which would have helped them enormously politically in the 90's/early 2000's - and still use them today then this argument is just a cop out.

    Fertility is still way bellow late Soviet period and Mortality is still way above the late Soviet period. And this is after 25 years! Mortality should be way below Soviet periods. All the murder/alcohol poisoning/etc statistics are a belated return to 1990 - a waste of two decades. The only thing the current government has improved singularly from the Soviet era is the suicide rate.

    "Sustained rise in infant mortality during peacetime" is false - there was a mild rise in the early 1970's and decline continued (the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality estimation has a non-ending decline from RSFSR to RF).

    And you're really fetishizing alcohol as main factor in mortality. I know its popular in english-language literature but its patently reductionist to the point of absurdity. And with illegal alcohol purchases included alcohol consumption in Russia has only decreased by a tiny fraction in the past 5 years (while external deaths fell by 1/2, 1/3, etc.) So if by "diversity of choice" you mean the general population now is now blessed to be too poor to consume goods it doesn't fit with the trends of the drastic social improvements of the past 5 years.

    And this is after 25 years!

    shouldn’t it be dated from the end of the post-soviet gangster era which made everything worse?

    i’d date that from when the various gangster oligarchs started moving to London

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  144. Boris N says:
    @Daniel Chieh
    I hear that not being a patriot is severely frowned upon in the land of the bear-riders.

    Yes, the more they brag about being patriots the better the chance they have some villa in Nice (or in Montenegro/Bulgaria for the “poor”) or an apartment on London or somewhere close, and their families, particularly their children live/study in the “hostile” West. And the highest point of a Russian “patriot” is to be one of the most boastful and end up being a sell-out to Ukraine.

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    • Replies: @utu
    "And the highest point of a Russian “patriot” is to be one of the most boastful "

    Two NRs meet, and one asks:
    - Hey, Vasya, where did you get your nice tie?
    - At the Valentino store. Cost me $2000.
    - Phew, - the other one says with contempt, - I know a place where you can get exactly same tie for $5000!
  145. notanon says:
    @Hector_St_Clare
    I don't see any particular reason to credit this to Putin's leadership, rather than just rebounding from the 1990s distaster?

    Russia underwent an economic collapse in the 1990s, as most ex-communist countries did, due to partly to the costs of transition. When you dismantle a centrally planned economy (which worked moderately well) in one go, with the hope of replacing it with something that worked better, you can't expect new institutions to come into existence right away. A country with Russia's advantages in terms of natural resources and human capital was going to recover sooner or later, it was just a matter of time.

    you’re ignoring the malign effects of the gangster oligarchs who took over after the collapse – compare with Ukraine where they still rule.

    once their malign influence was reduced then yes Russia should at least partly have bounced back automatically – so how was their influence reduced?

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  146. syonredux says:
    @Glossy
    I see that Mr. Schrad calls the 1979 USSR-Afghanistan events an invasion. When a country's official government, the current holder of its UN seat, invites you, that's not an invasion. What the US did to Afghanistan in 2001 was an invasion, what the USSR did in 1979 wasn't.

    And he called it disastrous. Wow. I have a feeling that Mr. Schrad wouldn't approve of anything on this blog: your opinion of Putin, Novorossiya, Assad, Trump, anything at all. Except for the USSR.

    How did the USSR's involvement in Afghanistan compare to the US involvement in Vietnam and Korea in humanitarian, economic, societal, etc. terms? Does Mr. Schrad condemn the other side in the Cold War for anything at all?

    And he called it disastrous.

    Well, I wouldn’t exactly call the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan a roaring success….

    How did the USSR’s involvement in Afghanistan compare to the US involvement in Vietnam and Korea in humanitarian, economic, societal, etc. terms?

    Of course, the USSR was pretty heavily involved in the Korean business…..Stalin, after all, gave Kim permission to invade…..

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  147. Boris N says:
    @RadicalCenter
    So you have no concern about Russia having enough young men to serve as soldiers?

    How will an ever-shrinking number of young Russians fight off a growing number of young Muslims in the south, or a vastly larger number of young Chinese in the east?

    Should Russia trust that its nuclear deterrent will be enough to forestall any conventional invasion and not worry about the number of troops it has in case of such invasion?

    I do not understand why Russia needs more soldiers. There is no need for more soldiers, there must just enough of them to protect the civilian population. Now Russia has an army which comprises 0.5% to 1% of its population. That means one soldier protects 99 to 199 civilians. I think it’s a perfect ratio of the armed forces for any country. So why do you need a bigger army for a smaller population? The smaller the population the smaller the army needed to protect it.

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    • Replies: @Darin
    In 10 years, human soldiers will be as obsolete as human drivers.
    , @Wizard of Oz
    I don't understand your calculation at all if you are being serious. You need only a smaller army to protect the government *against* the populace but to protect a country its needed size would be a function of the threat from potential enemies (including the material advantages enemies and predators might hope to gain), topography, distances, weapons and technology and training levels all before size of population.
    , @Parbes
    You, sir, are singularly stupid and obtuse... (Either that, or a deliberate propagandist trying to weaken the Russian state through disingenuous propaganda).
    , @Andrei Martyanov

    I think it’s a perfect ratio of the armed forces for any country.
     
    LOL. Evidently simplest things such as battalion, regiment or division front and depth of deployment are missing in your considerations. And so do such things as sectors and zones of responsibility.
  148. notanon says:
    @notanon
    well done, pooty

    still waiting for the biodomes though

    Russia is the perfect place to perfect them

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  149. utu says:
    @Boris N
    Yes, the more they brag about being patriots the better the chance they have some villa in Nice (or in Montenegro/Bulgaria for the "poor") or an apartment on London or somewhere close, and their families, particularly their children live/study in the "hostile" West. And the highest point of a Russian "patriot" is to be one of the most boastful and end up being a sell-out to Ukraine.

    “And the highest point of a Russian “patriot” is to be one of the most boastful ”

    Two NRs meet, and one asks:
    - Hey, Vasya, where did you get your nice tie?
    - At the Valentino store. Cost me $2000.
    - Phew, – the other one says with contempt, – I know a place where you can get exactly same tie for $5000!

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  150. @5371
    When Ceausescu banned abortion overnight in 1967, I think it was, the birth rate leapt nine months later in a quite extraordinary fashion. Later, of course, it declined again, according to folklore because most Romanians became back door men.

    I’m not sure the mechanism but yes, Romania’s TFR skyrocketed immiediately after the abortion / contraception ban, but then declined. Within 10 years after the ban it was at the same level it had been before (without the laws having changed).

    Romania was of course in a different situation than modern day East European or Latin American states, because they heavily suppressed contraception as well as abortion. Even in very strongly pro-life countries like El Salvador today, contraception is freely available (and in general women have dealt with the tough abortion laws by opting for more reliable means of contraception, in particular sterilization).

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    • Replies: @Darin
    Even in very strongly pro-life countries like El Salvador today, contraception is freely available

    El Salvador, the proud holder of second place of world's murder sweepstake? I am afraid you have different definition of "life" from the mainstream.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

    And Salvador is no outlier - if you look at map of world's abortion laws, you see the more "pro-life" place, the shittiest part of the third world it is. Anyone who thinks these countries have anything to teach us needs to be laughed at, not listened to.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_law#/media/File:Abortion_Laws.svg
  151. Darin says:
    @Hector_St_Clare
    I'm not sure the mechanism but yes, Romania's TFR skyrocketed immiediately after the abortion / contraception ban, but then declined. Within 10 years after the ban it was at the same level it had been before (without the laws having changed).

    Romania was of course in a different situation than modern day East European or Latin American states, because they heavily suppressed contraception as well as abortion. Even in very strongly pro-life countries like El Salvador today, contraception is freely available (and in general women have dealt with the tough abortion laws by opting for more reliable means of contraception, in particular sterilization).

    Even in very strongly pro-life countries like El Salvador today, contraception is freely available

    El Salvador, the proud holder of second place of world’s murder sweepstake? I am afraid you have different definition of “life” from the mainstream.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

    And Salvador is no outlier – if you look at map of world’s abortion laws, you see the more “pro-life” place, the shittiest part of the third world it is. Anyone who thinks these countries have anything to teach us needs to be laughed at, not listened to.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_law#/media/File:Abortion_Laws.svg

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    • Replies: @anonymous coward


    And Salvador is no outlier – if you look at map of world’s abortion laws, you see the more “pro-life” place, the shittiest part of the third world it is.
     
    You're right, the presence of humans is bad for statistics and the environment, best to contain and eradicate the homo sapiens pest entirely.
  152. Darin says:
    @Boris N
    I do not understand why Russia needs more soldiers. There is no need for more soldiers, there must just enough of them to protect the civilian population. Now Russia has an army which comprises 0.5% to 1% of its population. That means one soldier protects 99 to 199 civilians. I think it's a perfect ratio of the armed forces for any country. So why do you need a bigger army for a smaller population? The smaller the population the smaller the army needed to protect it.

    In 10 years, human soldiers will be as obsolete as human drivers.

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    • Replies: @Greasy William
    In 10 years, human drivers will still be far from obsolete. I doubt human drivers will be obsolete in 100 years.
  153. Seraphim says:
    @Glossy
    Concealing demographic statistics to hide this by the 70s.

    So the life expectancy and child mortality statistics you're citing aren't official Soviet statistics of the time? That makes me suspicious. Were they really collected by the Soviet government and hidden as you say? Were they invented by Soviet "dissidents"? By the CIA? I have't studied that issue, so I don't know.

    During the Cold War a lot of people in the West believed that the USSR exaggerated Moscow's population by a factor of magnitude and that the real figure in the 1980s was below 1 million. I've spoken to people who still believe that. Unfortunately I was not able to convince them that they're wrong.

    Doctoring statistics was quite a ‘normal’ practice. In Romania, accountants had to work double-time, for the reports presented to the Party matching the Party projections for the economy and for reports presenting the real economic situation.

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  154. @Boris N
    I do not understand why Russia needs more soldiers. There is no need for more soldiers, there must just enough of them to protect the civilian population. Now Russia has an army which comprises 0.5% to 1% of its population. That means one soldier protects 99 to 199 civilians. I think it's a perfect ratio of the armed forces for any country. So why do you need a bigger army for a smaller population? The smaller the population the smaller the army needed to protect it.

    I don’t understand your calculation at all if you are being serious. You need only a smaller army to protect the government *against* the populace but to protect a country its needed size would be a function of the threat from potential enemies (including the material advantages enemies and predators might hope to gain), topography, distances, weapons and technology and training levels all before size of population.

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    • Replies: @Boris N

    You need only a smaller army to protect the government *against* the populace
     
    The goal of an army is to protect the land WITH population, the protection of the population being the ultimate goal. The land without the popultion is void, tomorrow the Russian Army might conquer Antractica or the Gobi Desert, but what's the point? The Russian Army must protect Russians living on their land first and foremost.

    but to protect a country its needed size would be a function of the threat from potential enemies (including the material advantages enemies and predators might hope to gain), topography, distances, weapons and technology and training levels all before size of population.
     
    I agree. But the question was that Russia need big population, even bigger than today, to be able to muster enough soldiers to protect the country. With that I disagree. And your comment just strengthen my thought. You do not need cannon fodder anymore, today is not 1945, not even 1980.
  155. Parbes says:
    @Boris N
    I do not understand why Russia needs more soldiers. There is no need for more soldiers, there must just enough of them to protect the civilian population. Now Russia has an army which comprises 0.5% to 1% of its population. That means one soldier protects 99 to 199 civilians. I think it's a perfect ratio of the armed forces for any country. So why do you need a bigger army for a smaller population? The smaller the population the smaller the army needed to protect it.

    You, sir, are singularly stupid and obtuse… (Either that, or a deliberate propagandist trying to weaken the Russian state through disingenuous propaganda).

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    • Replies: @Boris N
    You, mister, are rude and bad-mannered, and between us the stupid one is most probably you, because ad hominem insults and slanders are signs of the lack of intellect or education.
  156. Gabriel M says:

    What strikes me from your graphs is that a lot of the chaos and devastation that seems to be customarily attributed to Yeltsin years was really down to Gorbachev. Indeed, if you could just change one thing about the Yelstin years (namely the deregulation of the alcohol trade) the Yeltsin era would probably be looked back upon as a time of slow, but steady improvement, kind of like the Putin era. Even the alcohol thing, as you point out, was an acceleration of pre-existing trends.

    I have a theory why the Unztariat prefer to blame everything on Yeltsin, but that would be me getting a bit ethnocentric.

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    • Replies: @Darin
    I have a theory why the Unztariat prefer to blame everything on Yeltsin, but that would be me getting a bit ethnocentric.

    Why? Gorby and Yeltsin were the same "pure Russian" ethnicity.
    , @Johann Ricke

    I have a theory why the Unztariat prefer to blame everything on Yeltsin, but that would be me getting a bit ethnocentric.
     
    Putin was lucky. In Yeltsin's decade (90's), oil prices ranged from the low teens to the mid-20's. In Putin's decade (00's), oil prices ranged from about 20 to 140. If oil prices stay around $50, Russia is due for a decade of stagnation. The Ukraine imbroglio was easily affordable with oil at $100. Not so much at $50 (because of all the freebies issued by Putin, post-Yeltsin, to buy his high poll ratings, which used up a good chunk of the excess profits from high oil prices).
  157. @inertial
    1. Drinking was a huge problem in the USSR. People drunk more out of boredom than anything else. But drinking at work? That was quite rare, at least outside the very bottom of society. A Soviet enterprise could not fire you but they had other ways to punish. Public shaming, cutting your bonus ("13th salary,") reassigning to a lower paying or a less prestigious job, depriving you of many non-monetary benefits distributed by your place of work.

    2. Soviet consumer goods were sometimes bad but mostly okay for the price. Often they were acceptable quality but unfashionable or behind the times. There was no such thing as Soviet luxury good. Soviet philosophy in regards to the consumer goods was that the state must satisfy basic needs first and everything else later or never, and anyway, you are a bad person if you want luxuries in the first place.

    3. I am sorry, but financial industry is an absolutely critical, important , and useful part of the economy. If you don't understand this it says more about your ignorance than anything else. By the way, one of Russia's problems is that it has a small and weak financial sector.

    Soviet telescopes (‘TAL”) were (and are still) pretty good. More solidly made than their Chinese counterparts, especially the mounts and equatorials.

    http://rus.telescopes.ru/product.html?cat=1

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  158. Darin says:
    @Gabriel M
    What strikes me from your graphs is that a lot of the chaos and devastation that seems to be customarily attributed to Yeltsin years was really down to Gorbachev. Indeed, if you could just change one thing about the Yelstin years (namely the deregulation of the alcohol trade) the Yeltsin era would probably be looked back upon as a time of slow, but steady improvement, kind of like the Putin era. Even the alcohol thing, as you point out, was an acceleration of pre-existing trends.

    I have a theory why the Unztariat prefer to blame everything on Yeltsin, but that would be me getting a bit ethnocentric.

    I have a theory why the Unztariat prefer to blame everything on Yeltsin, but that would be me getting a bit ethnocentric.

    Why? Gorby and Yeltsin were the same “pure Russian” ethnicity.

    Read More
  159. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @Boris N
    I do not understand why Russia needs more soldiers. There is no need for more soldiers, there must just enough of them to protect the civilian population. Now Russia has an army which comprises 0.5% to 1% of its population. That means one soldier protects 99 to 199 civilians. I think it's a perfect ratio of the armed forces for any country. So why do you need a bigger army for a smaller population? The smaller the population the smaller the army needed to protect it.

    I think it’s a perfect ratio of the armed forces for any country.

    LOL. Evidently simplest things such as battalion, regiment or division front and depth of deployment are missing in your considerations. And so do such things as sectors and zones of responsibility.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Boris N
    The question was about the size of the army. You are trying to ridicule me for false assertions and false premises I did not make. You are welcome to make your own calculations what size the Russian army must have today and what it might be with a smaller population, let's say, 100 m; or rather whether with a population of 100 m Russia would be capable of defending itself.
  160. @Andrei Martyanov

    WSJ praised Putin’s government for its monetary policy and austerity program, and low debt, attributing these factors (rather than promotion of certain industries)
     
    Exactly, that is what I am talking about. US so called "economic" block is nothing more than a collection of Wall Streets shysters from Ivy League madrasas whose claim to "scholarship" is their ability to cook books and invent all kinds of useless indices. They know how to "make money" and how banks work, they have no idea what is modern manufacturing and how complex (not iPhones) things are engineered and produced. A huge chuck (probably more than half) of US allegedly 18 billion dollar "economy" is a virtual (on paper) collection of financial transactions with US manufacturing base contracting steadily. Many enclosed technological cycles are now in danger of being extinct. But then again, when Face Book's IPO (that is couple of buildings with servers and couple hundred pages of code) shot into billions of dollars one has to ask a question--how long this mad house can endure? The partial answer has been already given. In general, it is over now, the next issue is how to make "landing" as soft as possible. Modern Western "economic elite" (all those Davos' good ole' boys and girls) is simply not capable of such a feat specifically due to their ignorance and hubris. That is why US "elites" are not capable to "read" Russia no matter how they try. They simply do not posses a proper instrumentation for that.

    Thank you for writing the only comment on this thread worth reading, including the OP.

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  161. @inertial
    1. Drinking was a huge problem in the USSR. People drunk more out of boredom than anything else. But drinking at work? That was quite rare, at least outside the very bottom of society. A Soviet enterprise could not fire you but they had other ways to punish. Public shaming, cutting your bonus ("13th salary,") reassigning to a lower paying or a less prestigious job, depriving you of many non-monetary benefits distributed by your place of work.

    2. Soviet consumer goods were sometimes bad but mostly okay for the price. Often they were acceptable quality but unfashionable or behind the times. There was no such thing as Soviet luxury good. Soviet philosophy in regards to the consumer goods was that the state must satisfy basic needs first and everything else later or never, and anyway, you are a bad person if you want luxuries in the first place.

    3. I am sorry, but financial industry is an absolutely critical, important , and useful part of the economy. If you don't understand this it says more about your ignorance than anything else. By the way, one of Russia's problems is that it has a small and weak financial sector.

    2. Soviet consumer goods were sometimes bad but mostly okay for the price. Often they were acceptable quality but unfashionable or behind the times. There was no such thing as Soviet luxury good. Soviet philosophy in regards to the consumer goods was that the state must satisfy basic needs first and everything else later or never, and anyway, you are a bad person if you want luxuries in the first place.

    I wouldn’t take this as far as the Soviets did- I think there’s a small role for luxury goods in a healthy society- but yea, in principle this sounds quite reasonable to me. This is part of the reason that while I recognize the faults of communist societies, the underlying ideals are ones I still have a ton of sympathy for.

    Likewise, I don’t think there should be *no* financial industry, I’d like to see a relatively small and state-run finance industry that controls the flow of credit, investment and so forth, but I think modern western capitalist societies have a vastly overgrown, parasitic and negative sum financial industry.

    Read More
    • Replies: @inertial
    Well, who determines what is, and is not, a luxury? In the USSR, this was done by a generation that ate grass* in their youth. For example, if you've seen photos or videos of Soviet homes you may have noticed rugs hanging on walls. Why would one hang a rug? Because they were officially considered luxury items. Their price was held artificially high (about 4-6 average monthly salaries or more) and you couldn't simply walk in a store and buy one, either. So a rug was a treasure, fit only for display and definitely not for walking on.

    * some exaggeration here.
  162. annamaria says:

    So much for the memory of Katyn’ victims:

    http://www.fort-russ.com/2017/02/volunteer-anti-banderite-patrols-sweep.html

    “…the infamous Ukrainian neo-Banderite leader, Dmitry Yarosh, promised Poles “a second Katyn massacre” while his paramilitary gangs were being armed, trained, and funded by Polish security services on Polish territory. In August, the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance announced its organizing of tours of “ethnic Ukrainian lands belonging to Poland,” thus threatening to spread Ukrainian neo-Nazi networks to Poland.
    For Poles, this is no laughing matter. During the Second World War, Stepan Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and Ukrainian Insurgent Army murdered hundreds of thousands of Poles in what is today Western Ukraine. This was finally recognized by Poland’s parliament as genocide only in July 2016 despite Kiev’s feverish opposition.”

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  163. @Gabriel M
    What strikes me from your graphs is that a lot of the chaos and devastation that seems to be customarily attributed to Yeltsin years was really down to Gorbachev. Indeed, if you could just change one thing about the Yelstin years (namely the deregulation of the alcohol trade) the Yeltsin era would probably be looked back upon as a time of slow, but steady improvement, kind of like the Putin era. Even the alcohol thing, as you point out, was an acceleration of pre-existing trends.

    I have a theory why the Unztariat prefer to blame everything on Yeltsin, but that would be me getting a bit ethnocentric.

    I have a theory why the Unztariat prefer to blame everything on Yeltsin, but that would be me getting a bit ethnocentric.

    Putin was lucky. In Yeltsin’s decade (90′s), oil prices ranged from the low teens to the mid-20′s. In Putin’s decade (00′s), oil prices ranged from about 20 to 140. If oil prices stay around $50, Russia is due for a decade of stagnation. The Ukraine imbroglio was easily affordable with oil at $100. Not so much at $50 (because of all the freebies issued by Putin, post-Yeltsin, to buy his high poll ratings, which used up a good chunk of the excess profits from high oil prices).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jon0815

    Putin was lucky. In Yeltsin’s decade (90′s), oil prices ranged from the low teens to the mid-20′s. In Putin’s decade (00′s), oil prices ranged from about 20 to 140. If oil prices stay around $50, Russia is due for a decade of stagnation.
     
    Nope. While oil provides about 50% of Russia's government revenue (and hence is closely tied to the value of the ruble, and size of nominal GDP), it's less than 20% of Russia's GDP, and falling. Russia's economy is certainly capable of healthy (3-4%) real GDP growth, even with a flat oil sector.

    The biggest economic obstacle Russia faces isn't oil prices (currently closer to $60 than $50), it's corruption and the fact that too much of its workforce is employed by inefficient state enterprises. However, at least Putin recognizes this is a problem, and he has pledged privatization reforms after the 2018 elections.

    , @Gerard2
    The $140 was a rebound price from the major low the year below from the financial crash. In reality if we weigh up everything like inflation and that a few of the Yeltsin years had oil prices comparable to many of the early Putin years and other factors.....then it is clear that Putin has outperformed him . The Russian GDP increase from 2000-2014 was far exceeding the increase in the price of oil.....and of many other countries with a strong percentage of exports in Oil
  164. inertial says:
    @Hector_St_Clare
    2. Soviet consumer goods were sometimes bad but mostly okay for the price. Often they were acceptable quality but unfashionable or behind the times. There was no such thing as Soviet luxury good. Soviet philosophy in regards to the consumer goods was that the state must satisfy basic needs first and everything else later or never, and anyway, you are a bad person if you want luxuries in the first place.

    I wouldn't take this as far as the Soviets did- I think there's a small role for luxury goods in a healthy society- but yea, in principle this sounds quite reasonable to me. This is part of the reason that while I recognize the faults of communist societies, the underlying ideals are ones I still have a ton of sympathy for.

    Likewise, I don't think there should be *no* financial industry, I'd like to see a relatively small and state-run finance industry that controls the flow of credit, investment and so forth, but I think modern western capitalist societies have a vastly overgrown, parasitic and negative sum financial industry.

    Well, who determines what is, and is not, a luxury? In the USSR, this was done by a generation that ate grass* in their youth. For example, if you’ve seen photos or videos of Soviet homes you may have noticed rugs hanging on walls. Why would one hang a rug? Because they were officially considered luxury items. Their price was held artificially high (about 4-6 average monthly salaries or more) and you couldn’t simply walk in a store and buy one, either. So a rug was a treasure, fit only for display and definitely not for walking on.

    * some exaggeration here.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    We had two rugs on the walls of our Moscow apartment.

    The USSR contained a bit of the traditional rug-making region of the world. I wonder if Central Asians, Persians, etc. have been hanging rugs on walls for centuries. Like, is that normal to them? I don't know.
  165. Jon0815 says:
    @Johann Ricke

    I have a theory why the Unztariat prefer to blame everything on Yeltsin, but that would be me getting a bit ethnocentric.
     
    Putin was lucky. In Yeltsin's decade (90's), oil prices ranged from the low teens to the mid-20's. In Putin's decade (00's), oil prices ranged from about 20 to 140. If oil prices stay around $50, Russia is due for a decade of stagnation. The Ukraine imbroglio was easily affordable with oil at $100. Not so much at $50 (because of all the freebies issued by Putin, post-Yeltsin, to buy his high poll ratings, which used up a good chunk of the excess profits from high oil prices).

    Putin was lucky. In Yeltsin’s decade (90′s), oil prices ranged from the low teens to the mid-20′s. In Putin’s decade (00′s), oil prices ranged from about 20 to 140. If oil prices stay around $50, Russia is due for a decade of stagnation.

    Nope. While oil provides about 50% of Russia’s government revenue (and hence is closely tied to the value of the ruble, and size of nominal GDP), it’s less than 20% of Russia’s GDP, and falling. Russia’s economy is certainly capable of healthy (3-4%) real GDP growth, even with a flat oil sector.

    The biggest economic obstacle Russia faces isn’t oil prices (currently closer to $60 than $50), it’s corruption and the fact that too much of its workforce is employed by inefficient state enterprises. However, at least Putin recognizes this is a problem, and he has pledged privatization reforms after the 2018 elections.

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  166. Gerard2 says:
    @AP
    My retarded stalker has returned.

    Stop copying my insults you retarded fantasist troll POS

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    Retarded stalker Gerard2 keeps stalking retardedly.
  167. Gerard2 says:
    @Johann Ricke

    I have a theory why the Unztariat prefer to blame everything on Yeltsin, but that would be me getting a bit ethnocentric.
     
    Putin was lucky. In Yeltsin's decade (90's), oil prices ranged from the low teens to the mid-20's. In Putin's decade (00's), oil prices ranged from about 20 to 140. If oil prices stay around $50, Russia is due for a decade of stagnation. The Ukraine imbroglio was easily affordable with oil at $100. Not so much at $50 (because of all the freebies issued by Putin, post-Yeltsin, to buy his high poll ratings, which used up a good chunk of the excess profits from high oil prices).

    The $140 was a rebound price from the major low the year below from the financial crash. In reality if we weigh up everything like inflation and that a few of the Yeltsin years had oil prices comparable to many of the early Putin years and other factors…..then it is clear that Putin has outperformed him . The Russian GDP increase from 2000-2014 was far exceeding the increase in the price of oil…..and of many other countries with a strong percentage of exports in Oil

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  168. AP says:
    @Gerard2
    Stop copying my insults you retarded fantasist troll POS

    Retarded stalker Gerard2 keeps stalking retardedly.

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  169. Glossy says: • Website
    @inertial
    Well, who determines what is, and is not, a luxury? In the USSR, this was done by a generation that ate grass* in their youth. For example, if you've seen photos or videos of Soviet homes you may have noticed rugs hanging on walls. Why would one hang a rug? Because they were officially considered luxury items. Their price was held artificially high (about 4-6 average monthly salaries or more) and you couldn't simply walk in a store and buy one, either. So a rug was a treasure, fit only for display and definitely not for walking on.

    * some exaggeration here.

    We had two rugs on the walls of our Moscow apartment.

    The USSR contained a bit of the traditional rug-making region of the world. I wonder if Central Asians, Persians, etc. have been hanging rugs on walls for centuries. Like, is that normal to them? I don’t know.

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  170. Glossy says: • Website

    I’m tempted to engage in some psychological speculation about Gorbachev.

    He’s a person of rural background who attended Moscow State University. He operated some farm machinery as a boy. He speaks with a strong rural accent.

    His university experience could have convinced him that he’s not sophisticated enough. And that might have pushed him to keep proving to everybody that no, he IS sophisticated, modern, cool, forward-thinking, etc.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov
    That could have been one of the factors. Hence his "gravitation" towards Soviet "intelligentsia" much of which was a bunch of self-aggrandizing freeloaders.
  171. @Darin
    In 10 years, human soldiers will be as obsolete as human drivers.

    In 10 years, human drivers will still be far from obsolete. I doubt human drivers will be obsolete in 100 years.

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  172. @Darin
    Even in very strongly pro-life countries like El Salvador today, contraception is freely available

    El Salvador, the proud holder of second place of world's murder sweepstake? I am afraid you have different definition of "life" from the mainstream.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

    And Salvador is no outlier - if you look at map of world's abortion laws, you see the more "pro-life" place, the shittiest part of the third world it is. Anyone who thinks these countries have anything to teach us needs to be laughed at, not listened to.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_law#/media/File:Abortion_Laws.svg

    And Salvador is no outlier – if you look at map of world’s abortion laws, you see the more “pro-life” place, the shittiest part of the third world it is.

    You’re right, the presence of humans is bad for statistics and the environment, best to contain and eradicate the homo sapiens pest entirely.

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  173. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @Glossy
    I'm tempted to engage in some psychological speculation about Gorbachev.

    He's a person of rural background who attended Moscow State University. He operated some farm machinery as a boy. He speaks with a strong rural accent.

    His university experience could have convinced him that he's not sophisticated enough. And that might have pushed him to keep proving to everybody that no, he IS sophisticated, modern, cool, forward-thinking, etc.

    That could have been one of the factors. Hence his “gravitation” towards Soviet “intelligentsia” much of which was a bunch of self-aggrandizing freeloaders.

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  174. Thank you for the informative interesting piece on a part of the world I know very little about. Russia is a fascinating country.

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  175. Doug M. says:

    Back in late 2013 I predicted a “Hexagon with a droopy tail”: death rates falling below birth, but with both birth and death rates then continuing to fall afterwards.

    I’ll stand by that. Let’s check back in, say, three years.

    Doug M.

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  176. Boris N says:
    @Wizard of Oz
    I don't understand your calculation at all if you are being serious. You need only a smaller army to protect the government *against* the populace but to protect a country its needed size would be a function of the threat from potential enemies (including the material advantages enemies and predators might hope to gain), topography, distances, weapons and technology and training levels all before size of population.

    You need only a smaller army to protect the government *against* the populace

    The goal of an army is to protect the land WITH population, the protection of the population being the ultimate goal. The land without the popultion is void, tomorrow the Russian Army might conquer Antractica or the Gobi Desert, but what’s the point? The Russian Army must protect Russians living on their land first and foremost.

    but to protect a country its needed size would be a function of the threat from potential enemies (including the material advantages enemies and predators might hope to gain), topography, distances, weapons and technology and training levels all before size of population.

    I agree. But the question was that Russia need big population, even bigger than today, to be able to muster enough soldiers to protect the country. With that I disagree. And your comment just strengthen my thought. You do not need cannon fodder anymore, today is not 1945, not even 1980.

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  177. Boris N says:
    @Parbes
    You, sir, are singularly stupid and obtuse... (Either that, or a deliberate propagandist trying to weaken the Russian state through disingenuous propaganda).

    You, mister, are rude and bad-mannered, and between us the stupid one is most probably you, because ad hominem insults and slanders are signs of the lack of intellect or education.

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    • Replies: @Parbes
    Yeah, whatever... Deconstructing layer by layer all the idiocies in what you wrote would take so long, and require so much written explanation of what should be obvious commonsense truisms, that ad hominemming you as a fool is pretty much the only option in a blog comments section. Sorry, but I really don't have the patience for that right now. Call me a lazy SOB if you want.
  178. Boris N says:
    @Andrei Martyanov

    I think it’s a perfect ratio of the armed forces for any country.
     
    LOL. Evidently simplest things such as battalion, regiment or division front and depth of deployment are missing in your considerations. And so do such things as sectors and zones of responsibility.

    The question was about the size of the army. You are trying to ridicule me for false assertions and false premises I did not make. You are welcome to make your own calculations what size the Russian army must have today and what it might be with a smaller population, let’s say, 100 m; or rather whether with a population of 100 m Russia would be capable of defending itself.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov
    So, you do not know how a required force (Naryad Sil) is calculated on the Threatening Directions (Ugrozhaemye Napravlenia)--emphasis on "threatening". How they are identified is a completely different matter which has everything to do with geography (and topography) and how, how large and how fast enemy force is deployed. The length of Threatening Period (Ugrozhaemyi Period) also matters especially for staging areas. All of it has very little to do with the size of population because Naryad Sil (Force Size) is calculated based on operational and strategic realities. The only time population factors in is when assessing Mobilization Potential (Mobilizatzyonnyi Potenzial) and when considering territorial formations based on Mobilization Plans. Considering the combination of modern threats from the West, Russian Ground Troops required for reliable (criteria of effectiveness in this case usually is a Probability) defense of the border and eventual defeat of the enemy beyond the territory of Russian State varies between 700.000 to 1.000.000 ground troops and this number is irrespective of Russia's population being 100 million or 150 million--geopolitical and military realities have their own logic. I omit here completely a technological dimension which factors greatly here, such as Russia being able to rearrange the stones conventionally (let alone atomically, but we don't discuss it here ) in London, D.C. or in Warsaw, not to speak of presumably NATO's staging areas, if somebody would exercise such a suicidal option of attacking Russia. I hope I answered your question.
  179. Talha says:

    This is good news for ‘the Bear’ – hoping and praying Russia’s people return to their earlier vitality. I would love to see more detail on how some of these changes (Russians leaving vices for instance) may be related to the resurgence of religion in the public sphere and as a stronger influence over people’s lives again. That would help in determining what steps other countries (that are in similar birth declines even though they are already quite capitalist) can take benefit from.

    As usual, thanks for the stats and graphs.

    Peace.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Greasy William

    This is good news for ‘the Bear’ – hoping and praying Russia’s people return to their earlier vitality.
     
    Why? The world is already horrendously overpopulated as is. Russia would be better off if it's population declined by 100 million.
  180. Parbes says:
    @Boris N
    You, mister, are rude and bad-mannered, and between us the stupid one is most probably you, because ad hominem insults and slanders are signs of the lack of intellect or education.

    Yeah, whatever… Deconstructing layer by layer all the idiocies in what you wrote would take so long, and require so much written explanation of what should be obvious commonsense truisms, that ad hominemming you as a fool is pretty much the only option in a blog comments section. Sorry, but I really don’t have the patience for that right now. Call me a lazy SOB if you want.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Boris N
    No, I'll call you a fat ugly internet troll, that's who you are.
  181. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @Boris N
    The question was about the size of the army. You are trying to ridicule me for false assertions and false premises I did not make. You are welcome to make your own calculations what size the Russian army must have today and what it might be with a smaller population, let's say, 100 m; or rather whether with a population of 100 m Russia would be capable of defending itself.

    So, you do not know how a required force (Naryad Sil) is calculated on the Threatening Directions (Ugrozhaemye Napravlenia)–emphasis on “threatening”. How they are identified is a completely different matter which has everything to do with geography (and topography) and how, how large and how fast enemy force is deployed. The length of Threatening Period (Ugrozhaemyi Period) also matters especially for staging areas. All of it has very little to do with the size of population because Naryad Sil (Force Size) is calculated based on operational and strategic realities. The only time population factors in is when assessing Mobilization Potential (Mobilizatzyonnyi Potenzial) and when considering territorial formations based on Mobilization Plans. Considering the combination of modern threats from the West, Russian Ground Troops required for reliable (criteria of effectiveness in this case usually is a Probability) defense of the border and eventual defeat of the enemy beyond the territory of Russian State varies between 700.000 to 1.000.000 ground troops and this number is irrespective of Russia’s population being 100 million or 150 million–geopolitical and military realities have their own logic. I omit here completely a technological dimension which factors greatly here, such as Russia being able to rearrange the stones conventionally (let alone atomically, but we don’t discuss it here ) in London, D.C. or in Warsaw, not to speak of presumably NATO’s staging areas, if somebody would exercise such a suicidal option of attacking Russia. I hope I answered your question.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Boris N

    you do not know how a required force
     
    No, I'm not an American military expert on Russia. I'm even not supposed to know, am I? This is why we have you. :)

    All of it has very little to do with the size of population because Naryad Sil (Force Size) is calculated based on operational and strategic realities. The only time population factors in is when assessing Mobilization Potential (Mobilizatzyonnyi Potenzial) and when considering territorial formations based on Mobilization Plans.
     
    Thanks, this is probably what I wanted to say, but in a more simple, everyman's way.

    varies between 700.000 to 1.000.000 ground troops and this number is irrespective of Russia’s population being 100 million or 150 million–geopolitical and military realities have their own logic.
     
    So do you agree with that commenter above (#95,), that Russia still needs cannon fodder (OK, "enough young men to serve as soldiers"), hence a big population? Because, you know, mustering 1m from 150m or from 100m or from 75m are different stories. If, of course, Russia really does need those 700k to 1m soldiers, what I doubt. I suppose the numbers may be deliberately inflated by Russian militarists, the same way as in America. Generals want big armies and big budgets. Not to mention that to defend itself from foreign powers (read NATO) Russia must liberate itself from the current foreign occupational regime on the first place. Otherwise, any Russia-NATO confrontation is a circus.
  182. @Talha
    This is good news for 'the Bear' - hoping and praying Russia's people return to their earlier vitality. I would love to see more detail on how some of these changes (Russians leaving vices for instance) may be related to the resurgence of religion in the public sphere and as a stronger influence over people's lives again. That would help in determining what steps other countries (that are in similar birth declines even though they are already quite capitalist) can take benefit from.

    As usual, thanks for the stats and graphs.

    Peace.

    This is good news for ‘the Bear’ – hoping and praying Russia’s people return to their earlier vitality.

    Why? The world is already horrendously overpopulated as is. Russia would be better off if it’s population declined by 100 million.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey Greasy,

    I'm not as sure that the world is over-populated than that many who populate it now are consuming resources at an alarming rate (and I'm not talking villagers in Nigeria). As far as Russia's population, if you think it would be better off by a population decline of 2/3 then I would be interested in a historical instance of such a drastic population loss that resulted in the society being 'better off'. For instance, should the population of Israel (being far more densely populated than Russia) take such a proportional hit?

    I think it's just fine even if Russians are able to keep things simply stable at replacement rate instead of the implosion happening all over Europe.

    Peace.
  183. Talha says:
    @Greasy William

    This is good news for ‘the Bear’ – hoping and praying Russia’s people return to their earlier vitality.
     
    Why? The world is already horrendously overpopulated as is. Russia would be better off if it's population declined by 100 million.

    Hey Greasy,

    I’m not as sure that the world is over-populated than that many who populate it now are consuming resources at an alarming rate (and I’m not talking villagers in Nigeria). As far as Russia’s population, if you think it would be better off by a population decline of 2/3 then I would be interested in a historical instance of such a drastic population loss that resulted in the society being ‘better off’. For instance, should the population of Israel (being far more densely populated than Russia) take such a proportional hit?

    I think it’s just fine even if Russians are able to keep things simply stable at replacement rate instead of the implosion happening all over Europe.

    Peace.

    Read More
  184. Boris N says:
    @Parbes
    Yeah, whatever... Deconstructing layer by layer all the idiocies in what you wrote would take so long, and require so much written explanation of what should be obvious commonsense truisms, that ad hominemming you as a fool is pretty much the only option in a blog comments section. Sorry, but I really don't have the patience for that right now. Call me a lazy SOB if you want.

    No, I’ll call you a fat ugly internet troll, that’s who you are.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Parbes
    "I’ll call you a fat ugly internet troll"

    Since you have absolutely NO idea what I actually look like in real life and whether I am "fat" or "ugly" or not, that statement would fit very well with your other moronic statements about the desirability of already very sparsely-populated Russia's population DECLINING BY A THIRD to 100,000,000 just so that you can see the edge of the woods more easily from your front porch; and further confirm your subpar "intellect".
  185. Boris N says:
    @Andrei Martyanov
    So, you do not know how a required force (Naryad Sil) is calculated on the Threatening Directions (Ugrozhaemye Napravlenia)--emphasis on "threatening". How they are identified is a completely different matter which has everything to do with geography (and topography) and how, how large and how fast enemy force is deployed. The length of Threatening Period (Ugrozhaemyi Period) also matters especially for staging areas. All of it has very little to do with the size of population because Naryad Sil (Force Size) is calculated based on operational and strategic realities. The only time population factors in is when assessing Mobilization Potential (Mobilizatzyonnyi Potenzial) and when considering territorial formations based on Mobilization Plans. Considering the combination of modern threats from the West, Russian Ground Troops required for reliable (criteria of effectiveness in this case usually is a Probability) defense of the border and eventual defeat of the enemy beyond the territory of Russian State varies between 700.000 to 1.000.000 ground troops and this number is irrespective of Russia's population being 100 million or 150 million--geopolitical and military realities have their own logic. I omit here completely a technological dimension which factors greatly here, such as Russia being able to rearrange the stones conventionally (let alone atomically, but we don't discuss it here ) in London, D.C. or in Warsaw, not to speak of presumably NATO's staging areas, if somebody would exercise such a suicidal option of attacking Russia. I hope I answered your question.

    you do not know how a required force

    No, I’m not an American military expert on Russia. I’m even not supposed to know, am I? This is why we have you. :)

    All of it has very little to do with the size of population because Naryad Sil (Force Size) is calculated based on operational and strategic realities. The only time population factors in is when assessing Mobilization Potential (Mobilizatzyonnyi Potenzial) and when considering territorial formations based on Mobilization Plans.

    Thanks, this is probably what I wanted to say, but in a more simple, everyman’s way.

    varies between 700.000 to 1.000.000 ground troops and this number is irrespective of Russia’s population being 100 million or 150 million–geopolitical and military realities have their own logic.

    So do you agree with that commenter above (#95,), that Russia still needs cannon fodder (OK, “enough young men to serve as soldiers”), hence a big population? Because, you know, mustering 1m from 150m or from 100m or from 75m are different stories. If, of course, Russia really does need those 700k to 1m soldiers, what I doubt. I suppose the numbers may be deliberately inflated by Russian militarists, the same way as in America. Generals want big armies and big budgets. Not to mention that to defend itself from foreign powers (read NATO) Russia must liberate itself from the current foreign occupational regime on the first place. Otherwise, any Russia-NATO confrontation is a circus.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Greasy William
    NATO can't put a lot of guys in the field absent the US.

    France has a pretty good army but as we saw in Libya it has no force projection ability. If Russia was able to just skip over Poland and Germany and invade France it would definitely lose. But by the same token the European armies could never defeat Russia in Russia. The UK even struggled with Argentina.

    The Chinese army is a disgrace, they have no ability to threaten Russia.

    NATO with the US though, I don't see Russia being able to put up any meaningful resistance. Of course such a conflict will never happen because Russia would just use its nukes but if Russia is serious about defending itself from a conventional US led attack then it needs a much stronger army than it currently has.

    It seems like the Russian defense industry is more interested in useless, expensive vanity projects like the Pak-Fa instead of building the reliable but boring weapons systems they manufactured during the Cold War.

    And in answer to your question above as to who would count as a Russian nationalist: Deniken would probably be the best example of who westerners view as a Russian nationalist. I'm not sure how popular he is in contemporary Russia. Even the Saker never mentions him.
  186. @Boris N

    you do not know how a required force
     
    No, I'm not an American military expert on Russia. I'm even not supposed to know, am I? This is why we have you. :)

    All of it has very little to do with the size of population because Naryad Sil (Force Size) is calculated based on operational and strategic realities. The only time population factors in is when assessing Mobilization Potential (Mobilizatzyonnyi Potenzial) and when considering territorial formations based on Mobilization Plans.
     
    Thanks, this is probably what I wanted to say, but in a more simple, everyman's way.

    varies between 700.000 to 1.000.000 ground troops and this number is irrespective of Russia’s population being 100 million or 150 million–geopolitical and military realities have their own logic.
     
    So do you agree with that commenter above (#95,), that Russia still needs cannon fodder (OK, "enough young men to serve as soldiers"), hence a big population? Because, you know, mustering 1m from 150m or from 100m or from 75m are different stories. If, of course, Russia really does need those 700k to 1m soldiers, what I doubt. I suppose the numbers may be deliberately inflated by Russian militarists, the same way as in America. Generals want big armies and big budgets. Not to mention that to defend itself from foreign powers (read NATO) Russia must liberate itself from the current foreign occupational regime on the first place. Otherwise, any Russia-NATO confrontation is a circus.

    NATO can’t put a lot of guys in the field absent the US.

    France has a pretty good army but as we saw in Libya it has no force projection ability. If Russia was able to just skip over Poland and Germany and invade France it would definitely lose. But by the same token the European armies could never defeat Russia in Russia. The UK even struggled with Argentina.

    The Chinese army is a disgrace, they have no ability to threaten Russia.

    NATO with the US though, I don’t see Russia being able to put up any meaningful resistance. Of course such a conflict will never happen because Russia would just use its nukes but if Russia is serious about defending itself from a conventional US led attack then it needs a much stronger army than it currently has.

    It seems like the Russian defense industry is more interested in useless, expensive vanity projects like the Pak-Fa instead of building the reliable but boring weapons systems they manufactured during the Cold War.

    And in answer to your question above as to who would count as a Russian nationalist: Deniken would probably be the best example of who westerners view as a Russian nationalist. I’m not sure how popular he is in contemporary Russia. Even the Saker never mentions him.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Boris N
    The discussion about a confrontation between Russia and NATO is pointless unless the Russian elites, their families, their money are residing in NATO countries. It is difficult to take seriously such discussions about a possible Russian-NATO war when your (Russian elite's) apartments are in London or Miami, your children are in Harvard and Oxbridge, and your wife is in Nice or a Swiss resort, you know. Or, on the other side, when you (Western banksters and businessmen's) own a lot, if not the majority, of Russian economical assets and companies and are doing very good business with your Russian "dear partners". I really do not know why both the Western and Russian MSM play this stupid circus as if they are adversaries. The only explanation that comes to mind is some sort of a conspiracy theory.
    , @Boris N

    Deniken would probably be the best example of who westerners view as a Russian nationalist. I’m not sure how popular he is in contemporary Russia.
     
    You mean White General Denikin? I think most Russians know him along with some other White leaders (Wrangel, Kolchak, etc.). But due to Soviet propaganda, the legacy of which is still very strong, such leaders are controversial in the eyes of the modern Russian public. Though those who are not mesmerized by Soviet propaganda must think positive about these leaders. I think not only Denikin, a lot of people of that era, starting from tsar Alexander II, were true and sincere Russian nationalists. Now I can hardly name anybody.

    Even the Saker never mentions him.
     
    Does anybody still take him seriously?
  187. Parbes says:
    @Boris N
    No, I'll call you a fat ugly internet troll, that's who you are.

    “I’ll call you a fat ugly internet troll”

    Since you have absolutely NO idea what I actually look like in real life and whether I am “fat” or “ugly” or not, that statement would fit very well with your other moronic statements about the desirability of already very sparsely-populated Russia’s population DECLINING BY A THIRD to 100,000,000 just so that you can see the edge of the woods more easily from your front porch; and further confirm your subpar “intellect”.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Boris N
    So you do not understand internet slang? Have I met another old grumpy man, heh? For your information: you do not have to be literally fat and ugly in your real life to be a fat and ugly troll. "Fat" and "ugly" are figurative expressions here, applying them to the word "troll" they mean something else than in your old world.

    But at least it's become clear why you are so infuriated. Yes, Russia is overpopulated. For one thing I explained above: in very similar conditions there live ten times fewer people in North America, than in Russia. It's not only my opinion and you as well may blame thousands of other people, some of them scientists, who think the same and call them names. And still, yes, you remain being a troll because you distorted my words and slandered me, and now have forced me to spend my time and energy to acquit myself from your silly accusations. I did not say I want the extermination of Russians. And I said my supporting personal story just to illustrate the fact that Russia is overpopulated. Yes, it is, I've seen it personally. You may say whatever you want, you most probably even do not live in Russia, do not know a thing and do not care. And I just said there is no problem in the declining of population to a certain degree. Nothing will happen terrible. It is a problem for the crooked Russian elites because they need more cannon fodder and more sheeple to shear and more dumblectorat to vote. They even consider importing sheeple from Central Asia if Russians do not want to breed like rabbits. They do not care how Russians would live with even more population, they do not care because they will live in the West anyway. They just want more meat, more humanoids, more human cattle, be they Russians or whoever, just more meat. But I do not and won't think in such categories.

    And for your further information lest you accuse me in Russophobia. I also think that Earth in general and the EU and the USA in particular are overpopulated and do not need more population. The only people who think the opposite are the crooked evil world elites who are eager to import sheeple from the Third World and they do not care about what would happen to Europeans and Americans. They think only in terms of raw numbers, nothing else matters.
  188. Boris N says:
    @Greasy William
    NATO can't put a lot of guys in the field absent the US.

    France has a pretty good army but as we saw in Libya it has no force projection ability. If Russia was able to just skip over Poland and Germany and invade France it would definitely lose. But by the same token the European armies could never defeat Russia in Russia. The UK even struggled with Argentina.

    The Chinese army is a disgrace, they have no ability to threaten Russia.

    NATO with the US though, I don't see Russia being able to put up any meaningful resistance. Of course such a conflict will never happen because Russia would just use its nukes but if Russia is serious about defending itself from a conventional US led attack then it needs a much stronger army than it currently has.

    It seems like the Russian defense industry is more interested in useless, expensive vanity projects like the Pak-Fa instead of building the reliable but boring weapons systems they manufactured during the Cold War.

    And in answer to your question above as to who would count as a Russian nationalist: Deniken would probably be the best example of who westerners view as a Russian nationalist. I'm not sure how popular he is in contemporary Russia. Even the Saker never mentions him.

    The discussion about a confrontation between Russia and NATO is pointless unless the Russian elites, their families, their money are residing in NATO countries. It is difficult to take seriously such discussions about a possible Russian-NATO war when your (Russian elite’s) apartments are in London or Miami, your children are in Harvard and Oxbridge, and your wife is in Nice or a Swiss resort, you know. Or, on the other side, when you (Western banksters and businessmen’s) own a lot, if not the majority, of Russian economical assets and companies and are doing very good business with your Russian “dear partners”. I really do not know why both the Western and Russian MSM play this stupid circus as if they are adversaries. The only explanation that comes to mind is some sort of a conspiracy theory.

    Read More
  189. Boris N says:
    @Greasy William
    NATO can't put a lot of guys in the field absent the US.

    France has a pretty good army but as we saw in Libya it has no force projection ability. If Russia was able to just skip over Poland and Germany and invade France it would definitely lose. But by the same token the European armies could never defeat Russia in Russia. The UK even struggled with Argentina.

    The Chinese army is a disgrace, they have no ability to threaten Russia.

    NATO with the US though, I don't see Russia being able to put up any meaningful resistance. Of course such a conflict will never happen because Russia would just use its nukes but if Russia is serious about defending itself from a conventional US led attack then it needs a much stronger army than it currently has.

    It seems like the Russian defense industry is more interested in useless, expensive vanity projects like the Pak-Fa instead of building the reliable but boring weapons systems they manufactured during the Cold War.

    And in answer to your question above as to who would count as a Russian nationalist: Deniken would probably be the best example of who westerners view as a Russian nationalist. I'm not sure how popular he is in contemporary Russia. Even the Saker never mentions him.

    Deniken would probably be the best example of who westerners view as a Russian nationalist. I’m not sure how popular he is in contemporary Russia.

    You mean White General Denikin? I think most Russians know him along with some other White leaders (Wrangel, Kolchak, etc.). But due to Soviet propaganda, the legacy of which is still very strong, such leaders are controversial in the eyes of the modern Russian public. Though those who are not mesmerized by Soviet propaganda must think positive about these leaders. I think not only Denikin, a lot of people of that era, starting from tsar Alexander II, were true and sincere Russian nationalists. Now I can hardly name anybody.

    Even the Saker never mentions him.

    Does anybody still take him seriously?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Greasy William

    You mean White General Denikin?
     
    That's the one. He is the Russian leader that Russophilic westerners have the most in common with. That is as long as don't find out he supported the Soviets in WW2 (Western Russophiles usually are Nazis), but most Western Russophiles are idiots.

    I really do not know why both the Western and Russian MSM play this stupid circus as if they are adversaries. The only explanation that comes to mind is some sort of a conspiracy theory.
     
    Russia supports Iran, Syria and Venezuela. They refuse to reduce their nuclear stockpile. Russian control of the Ukraine is seen as a threat to the security of Germany. Russia's relationship with quasi Western Turkey is very antagonistic. Russia and the West are definitely adversaries.

    But there will never be a war between them. The West is dying anyway.
  190. Boris N says:
    @Parbes
    "I’ll call you a fat ugly internet troll"

    Since you have absolutely NO idea what I actually look like in real life and whether I am "fat" or "ugly" or not, that statement would fit very well with your other moronic statements about the desirability of already very sparsely-populated Russia's population DECLINING BY A THIRD to 100,000,000 just so that you can see the edge of the woods more easily from your front porch; and further confirm your subpar "intellect".

    So you do not understand internet slang? Have I met another old grumpy man, heh? For your information: you do not have to be literally fat and ugly in your real life to be a fat and ugly troll. “Fat” and “ugly” are figurative expressions here, applying them to the word “troll” they mean something else than in your old world.

    But at least it’s become clear why you are so infuriated. Yes, Russia is overpopulated. For one thing I explained above: in very similar conditions there live ten times fewer people in North America, than in Russia. It’s not only my opinion and you as well may blame thousands of other people, some of them scientists, who think the same and call them names. And still, yes, you remain being a troll because you distorted my words and slandered me, and now have forced me to spend my time and energy to acquit myself from your silly accusations. I did not say I want the extermination of Russians. And I said my supporting personal story just to illustrate the fact that Russia is overpopulated. Yes, it is, I’ve seen it personally. You may say whatever you want, you most probably even do not live in Russia, do not know a thing and do not care. And I just said there is no problem in the declining of population to a certain degree. Nothing will happen terrible. It is a problem for the crooked Russian elites because they need more cannon fodder and more sheeple to shear and more dumblectorat to vote. They even consider importing sheeple from Central Asia if Russians do not want to breed like rabbits. They do not care how Russians would live with even more population, they do not care because they will live in the West anyway. They just want more meat, more humanoids, more human cattle, be they Russians or whoever, just more meat. But I do not and won’t think in such categories.

    And for your further information lest you accuse me in Russophobia. I also think that Earth in general and the EU and the USA in particular are overpopulated and do not need more population. The only people who think the opposite are the crooked evil world elites who are eager to import sheeple from the Third World and they do not care about what would happen to Europeans and Americans. They think only in terms of raw numbers, nothing else matters.

    Read More
  191. @Boris N

    Deniken would probably be the best example of who westerners view as a Russian nationalist. I’m not sure how popular he is in contemporary Russia.
     
    You mean White General Denikin? I think most Russians know him along with some other White leaders (Wrangel, Kolchak, etc.). But due to Soviet propaganda, the legacy of which is still very strong, such leaders are controversial in the eyes of the modern Russian public. Though those who are not mesmerized by Soviet propaganda must think positive about these leaders. I think not only Denikin, a lot of people of that era, starting from tsar Alexander II, were true and sincere Russian nationalists. Now I can hardly name anybody.

    Even the Saker never mentions him.
     
    Does anybody still take him seriously?

    You mean White General Denikin?

    That’s the one. He is the Russian leader that Russophilic westerners have the most in common with. That is as long as don’t find out he supported the Soviets in WW2 (Western Russophiles usually are Nazis), but most Western Russophiles are idiots.

    I really do not know why both the Western and Russian MSM play this stupid circus as if they are adversaries. The only explanation that comes to mind is some sort of a conspiracy theory.

    Russia supports Iran, Syria and Venezuela. They refuse to reduce their nuclear stockpile. Russian control of the Ukraine is seen as a threat to the security of Germany. Russia’s relationship with quasi Western Turkey is very antagonistic. Russia and the West are definitely adversaries.

    But there will never be a war between them. The West is dying anyway.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anon
    Soy rusófilo y no soy nazi. They aren't the same thing. Then again, maybe I'll wait for the conversion of Russia and its consecration to the Sacred Heart (or has that happened)? I'm an idiot though so you've got that part covered.

    How monolithic is the (anti-Russia) West these days anyway?
    , @Boris N

    Russia and the West are definitely adversaries.
     
    You seem not to understand my point, which I've been trying to explain many times here. Frankly, few if any here got that. It's a pity.
    All of your geopolitical points are on the surface. You just repeat common schemes said by the MSM. Try to dig deeper. Though it is also on the surface, just people do not want to see it.

    Let us understand the social pyramid of Russia. According to the statistics on tax returns there are 25,000 who earn from 10 to 500 million rubles. Plus roughly one thousand who earn more than 500 million rubles. Mostly they are businessmen and oligarchs, but a lot are state officials from "silovik" officers to deputies, mayors, governors, ministers, etc. Practically these several thousands are the real masters of the country, especially the top thousand. They own all the economical assets in the country. They rule. So when one says "Russia does this, Russia does that", it practically means those 1,000+25,000 people, plus one or two million of their subordinates who actually execute orders (like military, secret service, policemen, low-end state clerks, etc.).

    After we've drown the picture and know who are literally and numerically in charge, we can approach to the most important question: the psyche of those elites. Most importantly the psyche of the top thousand. One word: compradors. Colonial administrators. Former Soviet nomenklatura, real mafiosi, crooks, spooks, and so on. They do not care about either the country or the people a bit. Most if not all keep their money in the West, in NATO countries. They have their realty there. They buy yachts. They buy football clubs. And what not. Many have double/triple citizenship, most have permanent residence in NATO countries. Their wives, kids and relatives live, study or spend their holidays there. They are "Russian" only nominally. Russia is anything but their hunting ground. They do not live here, they do not think here.

    So after all that, how, do you think, are they going to conflict with the West? Especially bearing in mind that the Western establishment actually owns a whole big lot of Russian economical assets, directly or indirectly. Find out for a moment who actually own many Russian big corporations and who are beneficiaries. In most cases you will have found some foreign offshore companies with silly obscure names you never heard about. If nothing was so secretive and we could dig deep enough it might turn out most of Russia belongs to foreigners. And so on. I think I've explained enough.
  192. Anon says: • Disclaimer
    @Greasy William

    You mean White General Denikin?
     
    That's the one. He is the Russian leader that Russophilic westerners have the most in common with. That is as long as don't find out he supported the Soviets in WW2 (Western Russophiles usually are Nazis), but most Western Russophiles are idiots.

    I really do not know why both the Western and Russian MSM play this stupid circus as if they are adversaries. The only explanation that comes to mind is some sort of a conspiracy theory.
     
    Russia supports Iran, Syria and Venezuela. They refuse to reduce their nuclear stockpile. Russian control of the Ukraine is seen as a threat to the security of Germany. Russia's relationship with quasi Western Turkey is very antagonistic. Russia and the West are definitely adversaries.

    But there will never be a war between them. The West is dying anyway.

    Soy rusófilo y no soy nazi. They aren’t the same thing. Then again, maybe I’ll wait for the conversion of Russia and its consecration to the Sacred Heart (or has that happened)? I’m an idiot though so you’ve got that part covered.

    How monolithic is the (anti-Russia) West these days anyway?

    Read More
  193. Boris N says:
    @Greasy William

    You mean White General Denikin?
     
    That's the one. He is the Russian leader that Russophilic westerners have the most in common with. That is as long as don't find out he supported the Soviets in WW2 (Western Russophiles usually are Nazis), but most Western Russophiles are idiots.

    I really do not know why both the Western and Russian MSM play this stupid circus as if they are adversaries. The only explanation that comes to mind is some sort of a conspiracy theory.
     
    Russia supports Iran, Syria and Venezuela. They refuse to reduce their nuclear stockpile. Russian control of the Ukraine is seen as a threat to the security of Germany. Russia's relationship with quasi Western Turkey is very antagonistic. Russia and the West are definitely adversaries.

    But there will never be a war between them. The West is dying anyway.

    Russia and the West are definitely adversaries.

    You seem not to understand my point, which I’ve been trying to explain many times here. Frankly, few if any here got that. It’s a pity.
    All of your geopolitical points are on the surface. You just repeat common schemes said by the MSM. Try to dig deeper. Though it is also on the surface, just people do not want to see it.

    Let us understand the social pyramid of Russia. According to the statistics on tax returns there are 25,000 who earn from 10 to 500 million rubles. Plus roughly one thousand who earn more than 500 million rubles. Mostly they are businessmen and oligarchs, but a lot are state officials from “silovik” officers to deputies, mayors, governors, ministers, etc. Practically these several thousands are the real masters of the country, especially the top thousand. They own all the economical assets in the country. They rule. So when one says “Russia does this, Russia does that”, it practically means those 1,000+25,000 people, plus one or two million of their subordinates who actually execute orders (like military, secret service, policemen, low-end state clerks, etc.).

    After we’ve drown the picture and know who are literally and numerically in charge, we can approach to the most important question: the psyche of those elites. Most importantly the psyche of the top thousand. One word: compradors. Colonial administrators. Former Soviet nomenklatura, real mafiosi, crooks, spooks, and so on. They do not care about either the country or the people a bit. Most if not all keep their money in the West, in NATO countries. They have their realty there. They buy yachts. They buy football clubs. And what not. Many have double/triple citizenship, most have permanent residence in NATO countries. Their wives, kids and relatives live, study or spend their holidays there. They are “Russian” only nominally. Russia is anything but their hunting ground. They do not live here, they do not think here.

    So after all that, how, do you think, are they going to conflict with the West? Especially bearing in mind that the Western establishment actually owns a whole big lot of Russian economical assets, directly or indirectly. Find out for a moment who actually own many Russian big corporations and who are beneficiaries. In most cases you will have found some foreign offshore companies with silly obscure names you never heard about. If nothing was so secretive and we could dig deep enough it might turn out most of Russia belongs to foreigners. And so on. I think I’ve explained enough.

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  194. […] Dying Bear Still Not Dead Russia’s demographics actually don’t look so bad – especially if the numbers are compared with Europe, Japan, and even the US. […]

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