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chernobyl-stalker

I got the opportunity to meet up with commenter AP this week. Had a very pleasant conversation with him, if a pretty short one as was necessitated by his busy schedule.

I had been hoping to do a long post on my travels in Portugal, not nuclear war, this week. Will hopefully get that up in a couple of days.

Featured News

* A new neoreactionary blog. Joshua Delamere: Colonization and its Discontents

* Steve Hsu: Evolution of Venture Capital: SV + Asia dominate (original WSJ article)

venture-capital-by-country

Even though I’m aware of these trends, even I’m still surprised about just how total the domination of the US and China is.

Japan is pretty prominent, but another infographic there makes it clear that the Japanese are investing into Chinese, American, and other Asian ventures – not into Japan itself, or Europe.

See also my recently articles on Europe Can’t Into Big Tech and Russia’s Technological Backwardness.

* Mike Johnson: Heuristics For Interpreting The Output Of Formal Panpsychist Theories Of Consciousness

* Emil Kirkegaard: Corvus intelligence

* Aubrey de Grey posts a proof of a mathematical theorem. Impressive. Also evidence that longevity research isn’t pseudoscience.

**

Russia

* FT: Russian oil groups brave cold of western sanctions to explore Arctic

* RFERL: The Wildest Rides Of The U.S.S.R.

* Assad has been added to Myrotvorets (Peacekeeper) website of enemies of the Ukraine. Has the Curse been invoked?

*RT: Russia to suspend nuclear, rocket cooperation with America, ban US tobacco & alcohol – draft law

* Russia has banned Telegram, a sort of hybrid of WhatsApp and Twitter. Officials are going to use Viber instead.

Normal countries either (1) permit a free market in this sphere, or (2) ban foreign companies and promote their own, such as China. Russia bans its own and promotes foreign companies.

* The world that the Bolsheviks destroyed: In 1900, the Czechs wanted to introduce mandatory teaching of Russian in Czech schools (though this was vetoed by Vienna). [in Russian]

***

World

* Sinotriumph Chronicles:

* Larry Kudlow acknowledges China as First World country.

* The Economist: Decades of optimism about China’s rise have been discarded

This is unironically good for China. When The Economist praises you, it’s time to reach for your pistol.

Foreign businesspeople talked of the “promise fatigue” that has set in as Chinese markets are opened only after they have ceased to matter (the recent decision to allow in American credit cards now mobile payment systems have made them irrelevant is an example).

This is just “kicking away the ladder” that most countries (inc. US) have engaged in.

* Why does China have such a low-key approach to Syria?

* Jon Hellevig: An Awara Accounting Study on US Economy 2018: Signs that the US Debt-Fueled Economy Might Actually Collapse

I’m skeptical. Collapse of the US has been predicted in “anti-imperialist” sphere as often as the collapse of Russia (or China) in the handshakeworthy quarters. But we’ll see.

* British free media:

* Bolton on the Muller probe:

* Percentage of population identifying as LGBTQ:

US: 12.1%
EU: 5.6%

Germany: 7.4%
Spain: 6.9%
UK: 6.5%
Netherlands: 6.4%
Austria: 6.2%
France: 5.4%
Poland: 4.9%
Italy: 4.8%
Hungary: 1.5%

America is very gay. A huge survey about 5 years ago put the percentage of homosexuals in the US at around 2.5% of the population, which seems plausible. But I suppose it’s since become much more prestigious and “handshakeworthy.”

Also this pattern of Poland being much gayer than the rest of the V4 continues.

**

Science & Culture

* Real Climate: Stronger evidence for a weaker Atlantic overturning circulation. Gulf Stream is shutting down, as predicted.

* Brandon Adamson: People Who Hate Each Other Against the War

* Based Xi:

* whyvert/Economist: The decline of socialist parties in Europe, Hungarian edition

hungary-political-spectrum

***

Powerful Takes

* Hats off to Thorfinnsson. I don’t think anybody else has so succinctly defined the iFag.

thorfinnsson-ifag

* Benefits of nuclear war?

**

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: China, IT, Open Thread 
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Michael McFaul, Russia “expert” (and former US ambassador to Russia) who doesn’t believe he needs to be able to speak/write Russian:

 
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vapor-syria Been a while since I did one of these.

Link: Robert Stark talks to Anatoly Karlin about the Syrian Strikes, Russian Politics & The Failure of Trump

Contents:

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Podcast, Robert Stark, Syrian Civil War 
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Branco Milanovic – When autarky becomes the only solution

Despite all the talk about the waning power of the state and the rising power of ”foot-loose” large corporations what the sanctions do show is that the state is still the most powerful actor in contemporary global capitalism. Apple or Amazon could not impose sanctions and destroy Rusal. Actually, no company in the world —even those who are Rusal’s major customers—could not destroy it. But a state can. Putin showed the power of the Russian state, at the time when it seemed weak and insignificant, when he overnight imprisoned Khodorkovsky, the richest man in Russia, and despoiled him of Yukos. Trump, or rather US treasury, shows the power of US state in destroying overnight the largest aluminum producer in the world.

This post-Cold War idea that corporations are taking over the world always seemed ridiculous to me.

Consider the following:

  • Wealthiest individual ~$100 billion (Bezos)
  • Wealthiest corporation ~$1 trillion (Apple)
  • Wealthiest country ~ $100 trillion (USA), of which states typically own 20%-70%. Plus, they have 95%+ of the guns.

In fact, I suspect relative corporate/state power reached its peak in the 18th century, during the heyday of the East India Company.

What current sanctions, and those that may yet come (as for example on Gazprom), show is that Russia is now at the same crossroads at which it was in the early 1920s. Its access to Western markets, technology and capital is all but cut off. It is true that there are nowadays other sources for all three, including in China. But the breadth of sanctions is such that Chinese actors, if they themselves plan to do business or raise money in the United States, will too avoid doing business with Russian entities. So Russian industry will be left to grow, if it can, using only domestic resources, which compared to global resources, are small and inadequate (given how Russia’s relative economic and population role in the world has declined). Autarky is thus preordained.

This is what I pointed out in my post on US sanctions: “The US market is an order of magnitude larger than Russia’s, so it is not only US corporations that will defer to Uncle Sam. This will also hold true for European corporations (most of Russia’s trade is still with Europe), for Chinese corporations (unless the CPC expressly orders them to flout US restrictions), and even for other Russian corporations (e.g. Russian state banking giant Sberbank still doesn’t have any branches in Crimea in what is probably a futile effort to avoid US sanctions).

It would be wrong however to believe that the current impasse in which Russia finds itself can be overcome through different policies. It could have been done several years ago, but no longer. The reasons listed in the imposition of sanctions that cover everything from the annexation of Crimea to fake news are so comprehensive that no new post-Putin government of any conceivable kind can accept them all. They can be accepted only by a totally defeated country. In addition, US sanctions are notoriously difficult to overturn. The US sanctions against the Soviet Union started in 1948 and were practically never discontinued. The Jackson-Vanik amendment that linked trade to the freedom of Jewish emigration was on the books from 1974 until 2012, i.e. lasted more than a quarter century after the ostensible reason for its imposition ended. And it was repealed only to be replaced by another set of sanctions contained in the Magnitsky Act. The sanctions against Iran have been on, and despite the recent talk of their loosening, for almost 40 years. The sanctions on Cuba have lasted, and many still do, for more than half-century.

Putin has thus, through a series of tactical successes, brought to Russia a comprehensive strategic defeat from which neither him, nor the governments that succeed him, will be able to extricate the country. There is moreover no ideology, short of extreme nationalism, on which the autarkic system can be built. Bolsheviks in the 1920s had an ideology which led them ultimately to accept autarky and to work within it. Such an ideology does not exist in today’s capitalist Russia. Yet the industrialization debate of the 1920 may again become indispensable literature for economic policy-making.

Pretty grim conclusions, but not obviously incorrect ones.

In particular, it certainly seems that sanctions are here to stay and are going to be incessantly ramped up. More “serious” sanctions have been introduced under the “pro-Russian” (or even “Putin’s puppet”) than under Obama, and one can only imagine how things will go once the Dems seize control of the House (and maybe Senate) in 2018, and when Trump is likely ousted after 2020. To a large extent, further sanctions are built into America’s political trajectory. For instance, there has been a trend of ascribing criticism of the West’s course (on immigration, on bombing Syria, etc.) to this universal scapegoat called “Russian bots.” Consequently, short of Russia completely cutting itself off from the global Internet, Russian “elections meddling” in Europe and the US is all but assured for the indefinite future, each such case constituting grounds for further sanctions.

And so long as the US remains the world’s largest market and lynchpin of the global financial system, the effects of its decisions are going to reverberate throughout the Russian economy.

Consequently, with integration into the West definitively closed of, Russia has several options:

1. Capitulation. This is unrealistic, short of either a military defeat (hard to imagine in the context of Russia’s vast tactical nuke stockpile) or total ideological subversion (as happened to the USSR).

2. Autarky. The USSR was a military-industrial empire of around 400 million souls (including its East European satellites). Russia is a country of 150 million ruled by a comprador elite, that has much less influence over Kazakhstan or Belarus than the USSR had over Czechoslovakia.

Conversely, many modern technologies need more and more scope to be developed. Even during the Cold War, a high quality population of just around 10 million was enough to develop a first class righter (Sweden). That’s no longer the case – the only countries seriously competitive in these sphere are the US, to a lesser extent China and Russia, and perhaps eventually India. Another example: The negative inverse of Moore’s Law is Rock’s Law, in which the price of a semiconductor chip fabrication plant doubles every four years. Information technologies more than anything else benefit from economies of scale. It’s not a coincidence that the world’s top VC powerhouses are now the US, China, and increasingly India.

Bearing this in mind, Russia’s strategy needs to be more sophisticated than what it had in the 1930s-80s (a model that failed, incidentally).

a) Free markets and internal competition should be a sine qua non. Central planning is incredibly inefficient, and as technological complexity increases, it becomes even more relatively inefficient. Within a continental market, technological solutions can be close to optimal.

b) Piracy. Especially if restrictions on copyright/IP are lifted. If the US wishes to isolate Russia, it has no rational incentives to pay it tribute. It should become a pirate state de jure, as well as de facto. Russia may indeed be moving in that direction already.

sputnik-i-pogrom-big-russia

c) Extreme nationalism. Well, as Milanovic himself says, it’s the only ideology which can combine autarky with free markets. Fortuitously, extreme nationalism would also inevitably lead to what the ecologists call “scope expansion,” raising Russia’s population from 150 million to around 200 million within years of its institution (reincorporation of East Ukraine, North Kazakhstan, Belarus).

d) Centrality of China. While Russia can survive without the West, it can’t do so entirely alone. China has an order of magnitude more people, and will soon become big enough to set up a parallel global financial system. Relations with China will have to be further cultivated, and Russia should increase its current low levels of China expertise. In particular, big Chinese companies don’t exactly operate in the context of a free market, but have to answer to the CPC via the red telephone. Because their overall market sizes are comparable, the US should be very hesitant about getting involved in a full-fledged trade war with China. Russia should indeed work and if necessary offer concessions to make Zhongnanhai pressure its largest companies and banks to ignore US restrictions on dealing with sanctioned Russian companies.

Although some might criticize some aspects of this program, the only realistic alternative is Capitulation. If they want Capitulation, they might as well do it now, crawl to the US for forgiveness, give Crimea back to the Ukraine, and save Russia a few decades of missed opportunities.

Otherwise, the “Autarky” recommendations will have to be in the form of a package. Or at the very least, any viable model will have to include most of the recommendations.

For instance, trying to return to the Soviet model will depress living standards, and lead to demoralization and eventual collapse.

moscow-mcdonalds-1990

Proof: Moscow 1990, sovok bugmen queue at McDonalds. USSR falls a year later.

Alienating China would also be a very bad idea. With no alternate sources of capital, Russian billionaires would have more incentives to engage in pro-Western subversion. This would lead to either a coup and Capitulation, or more state control and consequently inefficiency, etc.

3. Wait & See. Another strategy is to just wait it out, in the hope that nationalist movements in Europe opposed to the US gain power. This is indeed the kremlins’ current approach.

Least immediately risky variant – but also highly questionable that it will actually happen, or that nationalists once in power will actually be any more pro-Russian than neoliberalism.txt. Maybe even the converse.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Economic Sanctions, Russia 
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So we now finally have some limited clarity on the outcome of this year’s first Syria crisis.

Cruise Missile Strike

US frigates, B-1 bombers, and French/UK fighters launched around 100 cruise missiles at Syria, incidentally taking care to launch from far away and stay outside the radius of Russia’s A2AD bubbles.

syria-strike-2018

Ben Nimmo.

There are also disputes over the extent to which Russia participated in this turkey shoot, and its success:

  1. Syrian air defense did all of the work (helped at most by Russian telemetric assistance)
  2. Russian air defense participated – either fully, or in part (e.g. helped in Homs, but not over Damascus)

… as well as by its actual success rate:

  1. American version: 0%
  2. Russian version: 71/103 = 69% (details: airports – 4/4 in Duvali; 12/12 in Dumeir; 18/18 in Bley; 12/12 in Shayrat; 5/9 in Mezze; 13/16 in Homs; locations in Barca and Gerramani – 7/30).

map-syria-strike-2018

How does this performance stack up?

  • 1/2 would be very good (considering especially that Syrians don’t have a reputation for military competence)
  • 1/1 or 2/2 would be meh/as expected
  • 2/1 would be catastrophic

My impression is that the Russian version is closer to reality. At the very least, at least some missiles plainly were intercepted – there is video of this, as well as photographs of craters that plainly just hit the ground – so the maximal Western claim of zero success is false.

As Paul Robinson notes, even the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – who are no friends of Assad or Russia – says that 65 were knocked down.

Repercussions

1. Does this mean “alarmist” analysts who predicted WW3 were wrong?

Well, it’s a good thing I never did so: “Most likely, it will be a much larger-scale repetition of the mostly symbolic strike on Shayrat AFB in April 2017.

However, I believe the main problem I outlined stands: Namely, that Trump has locked himself into an escalatory cycle. The jihadis now know that all they need to do to provoke geometrically expanding retaliations against Assad is to continue setting up false flag gas attacks. Talk of perverse incentives. As this cycle plays out, the chances of Russian forces entering into hostilities with US and coalition forces will continue to increase. Maybe next time, Bolton/Trump will win out over voices of caution such as Mattis. Or maybe Israelis or Saudis launch an attack on Russian forces under the cover of the next coalition strike against Syria.

Since the chances of Russia winning an aeronaval battle over Syria will remain zero regardless of what it does, it will still have the same unappetizing set of choices outlines in the Road to WW3.

In the context of this escalation trap and the legal nihilism that has permeated American, British, and French foreign policy, we are going to be living under the risk of such a development until Syria clears out the last of the jihadis.

2. Still no Wall, the steady purge of the Old Trumpists (Stephen Miller is the only one who’s left), tax cuts for corporations, now talk of signing on back to the TPP…

And now the revelation that Trump was on the warhawk side of the debate, along with Bolton, puts the last nails into the coffin of Trump the Candidate.

There’s no longer any of the energy that propelled him into the Presidency through pure memetic energy. /pol/ no longer cares for him. The_Donald has become an echo chamber for his personality cult. Alt Right, Alt Light – doesn’t matter, almost everyone has jumped ship (Ann Coulter months ago, now Cernovich). The only people “on the Internet” who remain fans are either outright Zionists like Jacob Wohl, and adherents of 4D chess explanations that are drifting into absurd levels of intricacy.

Audacious Epigone has more evidence that the mid-terms will be a rout for the Republicans, with many of the people who took a chance on Trump in 2016 now reverting to the Democrats.

3. Pentagon propaganda about Russian bots is nearing self-parody:

“The Russian disinformation campaign has already begun. There has been a 2,000% increase in Russian trolls in the last 24 hours.”

As Mark Sleboda joked, “there has been a 2,000,000,000% increase in Pentagon mouthpieces and MSM propagandists dismissing any and all dissenting & critical American citizens who disagree w their illegal wars, pretexts & narrative as “Russian trolls.”

4. China has been uncharacteristically blunt in its support of Syria and Russia:

“China has always spoken against the use of military force in international relations and spoken for the respect of the sovereignty of all the states, their independence and territorial integrity,” the spokeswoman said.

“Any unilateral military actions in circumvention of the UN Security Council contradict the basic goals and principles of the UN Charter,” says the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s statement posted on its website.

“China is calling on all the parties concerned to return to the framework of international law and resolve the problem through dialogue and consultations,” the statement reads.

“China believes that political settlement is the sole way out of the Syrian crisis, Hua Chunying said.

Lead Global Times editorial today: Reckless strike on Syria a shameless act

Even the usually bland and professionally restrained Xinhua has engaged in a fun exercise of “Trump criticizing Trump”:

China also supported Russia’s resolution in the USNC condemning the FUKUS aggression against Syria, along with Bolivia itself. Peru, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, and Kazakhstan – the latter purportedly Russia’s ally, but in reality nothing of the sort – abstained. The US, UK, France, Cote D’Ivoire, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden voted against.

So getting China to crawl out of its cocoon and to make its displeasure known has been another excellent development.

Russian Sanctions

Not directly related, but we beginning to see the general outlines of Russia’s response to the recent US sanctions.

The current bill proposes to:

  • Ban import of US alcohol and tobacco products
  • “Ceasing or suspending international cooperation in the nuclear sphere, rocket engine building and aircraft building between Russian companies and organizations under US jurisdiction”
  • Ceasing to recognize US copyrights. (“”This will be like a punch to the solar plexus for the Americans, because all achievements and all domination of the Anglo-Saxon, Western world are based on intellectual property and we are targeting this very right,” MP Mikhail Yemelyanov (Fair Russia) said in comments to Interfax.”)

While the first two are not unexpected, the third one seems radical and far-reaching.

In the earliest versions I read about, there was also talk of banning US citizens from working in Russia. This would be a very stupid move that would have a very direct and negative impact on several of my regular commenters. Hopefully this has gotten removed.

 
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metro-2033-tunnel

There are some fairly good reasons in favor of Russia’s decision to intervene in Syria, which is why I have always been modestly if unenthusiastically supportive of it:

  • It is basically a giant and continuous live training exercise for Russian pilots and generals, making it almost “free” in financial terms.
  • The value of the Khmeimim base is modest, but not entirely negligible.
  • It supported Russian weapons sales.
  • Fighting Islamic State made for good PR.
  • Could potentially be used as a bargaining chip for concessions elsewhere (e.g. the Ukraine).
  • One commonly cited but fake reason: Supporting an ally. As I have long been pointing out, it was Vladimir Putin himself who pointed out that prior to the war, Assad had visited Paris more frequently than Moscow.

However, there were always a couple of major downsides:

  • Supporting Assad placed Russia at odds with all of the powerful players in the region – the US, its European allies, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs, and Turkey. The only exception was Iran, and even its interests are far from synonymous with Russia’s.
  • The modest Russian expeditionary force in Syria there is completely overawed by, and surrounded by, military assets belonging to states that don’t really want them there. This makes it highly vulnerable.

With the defeat of Islamic State, Russia’s continued presence in Syria has become much more dangerous, since neoliberalism.txt could now revert to its old mantras about Assad “killing his own people” without the superlative evil of Islamic State spoiling the optics.

Indeed, as I speculated at the start of this year, the drone attacks on Khmeimim could have been a message to Russia that it was time to pack up its bags.

Recent developments over the Douma false flag gas attacks have basically proved that my gloomy presentiments were correct, e.g. see this from February:

And the Russian air presence in Khmeimim remains absolutely overawed by the resources at CENTCOM’s disposal.

Hopefully Syria doesn’t launch any more large-scale chemical weapons attacks, false flag or otherwise (admittedly, controlling for false flags is hard). Because while the kremlins might be forced to swallow the deaths of a few dozens “They’re Not There” mercenaries, explaining away RuAF hunkering down in Khmeimim as Turkish/Israeli/US-backed jihadists overrun Syria – or worse, getting themselves wiped off the face of the earth in a futile attempt to fight back – will be orders of magnitude harder.

Indeed, this is a theme that I have been noting since the very start of Russia’s intervention in Syria, in both my posts and many comments on the Unz Review, in the face of persistent and often vicious naysaying – no matter that this is a rather obvious geopolitical reality.

I do know know the immediate outcome of the immediate crisis. Most likely, it will be a much larger-scale repetition of the mostly symbolic strike on Shayrat AFB in April 2017. Maybe a miracle will happen and it is called off entirely.

But maybe things will go in a much more disastrous direction, in a scenario that will be the subject of this post.

However, even if the outcome for now is relatively “good”, the underlying issues that got us where we are will not go away. As I noted in the aftermath of the 2017 strikes – indeed, as Putin himself pointed out – the Syrian rebels, and/or their sponsors, now have a perverse incentive to stage further false flag attacks, in the sure knowledge that Trump will no longer have any option but to respond with ever greater force. As this cycle of escalation increases, the chances of Russian soldiers getting hit by US/coalition strikes rises to unity.

I do not know if the present crisis will culminate in conciliation or catastrophe.

I do think that the probability of catastrophic outcomes will continue increasing so long as the Assad government remains in power. Contra the trolls who will bloviate about hasbara troll Karlin’s defeatism in the comments, this is not an argument for Russia bailing out of Syria. Nor, for that matter, is it an argument that Russia should stay. To the contrary, it is just a reality that needs to be confronted, in the eventuality that the Americans start going beyond the limited, one-off strike that they committed in 2017.

khmeimim-damanged-fighter

1. The Khmeimim Crisis

I hope it goes without saying that Russia has absolutely no way to win in Syria should its forces enter into a full scale regional conflict with CENTCOM.

It is not going to be a trivial fight by any stretch of the imagination:

  • There are two S-400 complexes guarding Khmeimim, and several Pantsir systems.
  • Though composition varies from month to month, there are usually around a dozen air superiority fighters (Su-35, Su-35) and a dozen other fighters, as well as a few military helicopters.
  • Around 4o Pantsir systems total in Syria
  • Two Kilo submarines are currently in the region, though not the formidable Moskva cruiser, with its S-300 system
  • Two Bastion anti-ship coastal defense systems
  • Stand-off cruise missiles (Kh-32, Kh-50, Kalibrs) can be fired from deep within Russia, or from Caspian/Iranian airspace

But here are the forces ranged against them:

  • A single carrier such as the USS Harry S. Truman has around four to five dozen F-18s
  • Hundreds of F-15s and F-16s in US bases in Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, and the UAE
  • Hundreds of Tomahawks can be fired from US Navy ships
  • The air forces of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France and Britain, and possibly that of Israel and Turkey
  • B-52 bombers from half a world away

This is a totally lopsided match, which even the optimistic Russian military analyst Andrey Martyanov acknowledges:

Of course, US can unleash whatever it has at its conventional disposal at Khmeimim and it will eventually overwhelm whatever the Russians have there, from several SU-35s to S-300s and S-400s and, possibly, make Peters’ wet dream of keeping the whole ordeal confined to Syria very real. This would work, say against anyone’s military contingent except Russia.

The true extent of Russia’s defeat will depend on the precise composition of its forces and enemy forces come the day, as well as on the specific circumstances in which the showdown happens.

(a) If Russia is able to strike first, for instance, during a US attack on Syrian units when they are not expecting Russian interference, it’s plausible that it could down a few dozen fighters and two to half a dozen frigates and destroyers.

(b) If on the other hand it is the US that attacks without warning – for instance, including Khmeimim in its upcoming Tomahawk barrage – then Russia would be lucky to get even just a dozen kills. The Kilos and Bastions might still be able to sink a few a ships.

(c) A third scenario, and I suspect the likeliest one, is a mistake or “mistake” in which Russian air assets or air defenses gets targeted by a sweep of Syria by coalition air forces after the initial Tomahawk barrage – perhaps by an incompetent Saudi airman, or Israelis seeking to provoke a major escalation that would lay the groundwork to finish off Assad once and for all.

In this scenario, Russia’s air defense systems will be partially depleted from knocking down the initial Tomahawk barrage, and its responses will be confused rather than planned. However, a majority of the attacking force will not be expecting the Russians to turn hostile either. Consequently, the damage inflicted on the US in this scenario is somewhere between that of (a) and (b).

I doubt that Russia will manage to sink or even disable an aircraft carrier in either of the latter two scenarios. Contra the War Nerd’s fantasies about suicide motorboats taking them out, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is a 100,000 ton metallic honeycomb with hundreds of watertight compartments, protected by a screen of smaller ships, submarines, and fighters. Sinking these leviathans is really, really hard.

Of course it would be trivial to do so by launching a couple of ICBMs that disperse nuclear warheads in a grid pattern around the carrier’s general location. However, the US will treat this as a full-fledged nuclear attack. In any case it’s not even clear what such a cardinal violation of ethical and military norms would change in the big picture. The US would still have 10 aircraft carriers left.

In any case, the ultimate outcome is clear and near certain: The Russian military presence in Syria will be eradicated within a week (mostly within the first two days).

Furthermore, US and EU sanctions will be drastically stepped up in the following weeks. In particular, I expect the latest US sanctions against the companies of Deripaska, which bar US nationals from any dealings with them, compel US nationals to sell any shares they have in them, and freeze their US based assets, to be extended to all the major Russian corporations – with their consequent expulsion from the wider Western financial system. And I also expect this to be the point at which Russia gets cut off from SWIFT.

defcon-game

2. Retreat or Escalation?

Putin will now have to make some hard choices between dishonor, war, or some combination of the two. These constitute a number of non-exclusive options.

2.b. Hunkering Down

Militarily, this is the least risky option. However, Putin will face rising domestic discontent as Western attempts to strangle the Russian economy transition to a new and far more intensive phase, and living standards collapse.

How long will the “buffer” of 80% approval ratings hold up? People don’t like losers, as the Argentine junta discovered.

And it’s not only internal affairs that people will Russia will have to worry about. Not only does nobody like losers, but this period will see secular trends in the post-Soviet space coming to their logical conclusions. The ageing post-sovok rulers of Central Asia are getting replaced by nationalists and Islamists. The overthrow of Lukashenko by the Belorussian nationalists (zmagars) his regime has been quietly cultivating. The Ukraine will continue to recover economically and consolidate politically. By the early 2020s, oil prices may start to collapse due to the exponential rise in adoptions of electric vehicles.

If the Americans supported Chechen rebels even under “Boris and Bill” in the 1990s, it goes without saying that Western efforts to stir up separatism and color revolution will be doubled and redoubled.

Russia may partially mitigate this by intensifying its reorientation to the East, especially China. But this will not be a silver bullet that solves all its problems.

In my assessment, in this scenario there is a significant chance that Russia will eventually be forced or manipulated into acceding to Western terms, if not capitulating entirely.

syria-civil-war-2018-future-map

2.b. Syria

1. The most obvious option, and the one pushed most energetically by The Saker, would be to continue the struggle in the Middle East, especially Syria.

Obvious objection: Using what, to do what? At this point, shorn of Russian air support, incredibly demoralized, and getting swept up by continuing air strikes – Israel in particular will use the opportunity to wipe the Iranian presence from the Syrian map – the Syrian Arab Army, which has never been a very functional fighting force, will collapse once again as jihadis take the initiative.

Within months, they will overrun much of the country, with perhaps only Latakia and Tartus continuing to hold out (and even that’s not certain, considering the extent to which those regions of core Assad support have been bled out since 2011).

There will also probably be a genocide of Alawites and the remaining Christians in Syria, which the Western media will most certainly not televise.

As for Turkey, here is what I wrote about it at the start of the year:

Erdogan would prefer an Islamist Syria to Assad, but would prefer a unitary Syria even under Assad to a powerful Rojava occupying half the country’s territory. This largely explains his heel turn in Syria. Even so, there is nothing stopping him from doubling back should circumstances on the ground change yet again.

It will be largely immaterial whether or not Turkey closes the Bosphorus to Russian shipping (which would be a formal act of war). By this point, the Mediterranean will be a completely American lake anyway.

This in turn makes the logistics of supplying any further expeditions to Syria untenable.

On the off chance that the infamously deceptive Erdogan actually refrains from placing yet another “knife in Putin’s back”, the best that could be hoped for from him is providing cover for Russia to evacuate what remains of its shattered forces in Syria.

strait-of-hormuz

2.c. The Persian Gulf

The American victory in Syria will be an even greater defeat for Iran in terms of both geopolitics (unlike Russia, Iran really does have a vital interest in breaking out into the Mediterranean) and legitimacy (its pretensions to leadership of the global Shiite community).

Just like Russia, Iran too will have a choice between hunkering down/capitulating or carrying on the fight.

If it chooses the latter, its best bet would be to close the Strait of Hormuz and hold it in place long enough for the ensuing oil price spike and ensuing recession to force the US to the negotiating table.

The best ways of doing that at Iran’s disposal are:

  • Anti-ship missiles
  • Mines

Anti-ship missiles: The bulk of the Iranian arsenal is based on Chinese C-802 missiles, which are similar to Harpoons and Exocets. Unless fired in salvoes, the USN can probably deal with them, though they would pose a credible threat to passing oil tankers – enough of a risk, possibly, to get insurers to stop covering the Strait of Hormuz route (which is ultimately what really matters). Ironically, at this point, many of them might start using the Northern Sea Route.

Mines: Iran’s naval mine stockpile is opaque, though its possible that it would be even more of a threat to shipping. It would be helpful to begin mine-laying operations before open outbreak of hostilities if at all possible, since doing so would become far harder afterwards. (However, since the US will be very much on the watch out for this in the wake of its destruction of Syria, a covert mine-laying operation will not stay secret for long).

One solid option would be to keep most of the anti-ship missiles in reserve, and use them primarily to attack US mine-clearing ships (which are less well defended than its capital ships, and far more fragile than double-hulled, multi-compartment oil supertankers). This might even force the US into launching ground operations on the Iranian coast, which will add body-bags to economic pain and possibly plunge it into political crisis.

Iran might also consider launching IRBMs at Saudi oil installations, which are very densely clustered on its east coast, or sabotaging them with special forces. However, oil and gas pipelines can be easily repaired, and Iranian missiles aren’t all that accurate, so I don’t see this having much of an impact.

Without Russian intervention – for instance, if Russia goes down the Capitulation route – Iran’s attempts to strike back are likely doomed to failure. But its prospects improve cardinally with Russian help.

Bastions can proliferate on the mountainous coasts of southern Iran, and Russia can launch long-range cruise missiles from Tu-22M3 bombers to shut down sea traffic through the Persian Gulf (at least so long as China acquiesces). The success prospects of any US landing operations also decrease drastically.

2.d. The Ukraine

Options here range from formal recognition of the LDNR to a resurrection of the Novorossiya project.

russia-vs-ukraine-military-power1. Recognizing the LDNR, or even incorporating them into Russia, will temporarily assuage dissatisfied nationalists and send a signal that Russia is not backing down before the West.

However, this will come at the cost of even more sanctions from the West and what is sure to be even greater support of the Ukraine in the wake of the Syria imbroglio. In particular, it seems likely that NATO will start pushing through expedited membership for the Ukraine. It is also unlikely to add all that much to Putin’s approval ratings.

2. A full-scale invasion and occupation of Eastern Ukraine and/or Novorossiya is still plausible, but it will be an order of magnitude more difficult than in 2014. The Ukrainian Army is more experienced, better funded, has been purged of its pro-Russian elements, and its disposition is no longer concentrated in the west of the country.

Here is what I wrote about Ukrainian military developments a few months ago:

If there was a time and a place for a Russian invasion of the Ukraine – in reality, not in Western/Ukrainian propagandist fantasy – it was either in April 2014, or August 2014 at the very latest.

Since then, the Ukrainian Army has gotten much stronger. Since 2014, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have grown from no more than 100,000 troops (almost none of them combat-worthy) to around 250,000. It can now carry out complex tactical operations: In an August 2017 report at Colonel Cassad, Vladimir Orlov noted how night vision equipped Ukrainian spec ops used highly technical means to kidnap a Russian citizen serving with the NAF.

It has been purged of its “Russophile” elements, and even though it has lost a substantial percentage of its remnant Soviet-era military capital in the war of attrition with the LDNR, it has more than made up for it with wartime XP gain and the banal fact of a quintupling in military spending as a percentage of GDP from 1% to 2.5%-5%.

This translates to an effective doubling to quadrupling in absolute military spending, even when accounting for Ukraine’s post-Maidan depression. Russia can still crush Ukraine in a full-scale conventional conflict, and that will remain the case for the foreseeable future, but it will no longer be the happy cruise to the Dnepr that it would have been two years earlier.

Of even greater import is that the Ukrainian military now completely overshadows the Novorossiya Armed Forces.

The latter have no more than 40,000 troops, and with the exit of the more “idealistic” warriors in 2014-15, it has succumbed to low morale. Alexander Zhuchkovsky, a Russian directly involved in the NAF, estimated that they would be unable to hold out for longer than a week against a full-fledged Ukrainian assault without help from Russia. The Maidanists dream of a repetition of Operation Storm and – absent serious Russian intervention – they are probably already capable of it.

In reality, fighting the Ukraine in the wake of a debacle in Syria will be even more difficult.

stratfor-russia-invasion-of-ukraine

In 2014, the US geopolitical analysis website Stratfor war gamed three scenarios of a Russian invasion of the Ukraine.

The maximal one involved an advance to the Dnieper, which they estimated would require 91,000-135,000 troops and could have been accomplished in 11-14 days. They also estimated that Russia would need counter-insurgency forces of 28,000-260,000 to secure the area, depending on the intensity of partisan resistance. Since considerable percentages of people throughout putative Novorossiya supported joining Russia in 2013-14, I would have leaned towards the lower end of those estimates at that time – especially considering that “Russophile sentiment” went up by about a standard deviation in Crimea after its annexation, with support for joining Russia going up from ~40% to ~90%. However, in the rest of the Ukraine, “Russophile sentiment” collapsed by a standard deviation in the course of 2014; support for joining Russia in Novorossiya collapsed from ~25% to ~5%. Consequently, assuming this collapse was “deep” as opposed to temporary, the garrisoning forces required now might be much larger than four years ago.

Nonetheless, it could probably still be accomplished – the Ukrainians still have no counter to Russian air power and advanced EW capabilities – although there would now be thousands of Russian military deaths, as opposed to hundreds in 2o14. Even if NATO were to have decided to mount a major air intervention, Stratfor estimated that the deployment of 22 fighter squadrons to forward areas in Eastern Europe would take 11 days – that’s around the time at which Russian spearheads would be reaching the natural defense line that is the Dnieper, along with their mobile air defenses.

A huge NATO ground mobilization would still be able to overwhelm and push Russia out of the Ukraine in the long-term. However, it is very unlikely that even the Americans – let alone Germans – would want to do that for the sake of a non-NATO member, especially since Russia would likely still not be formally at war with them.

Meanwhile, even the maximal estimate of the needed numbers of occupation troops – 260,000 for Eastern Ukraine – could be matched by the 340,000 troops at the disposal of Russia’s National Guard.

This “regathering of the Russian lands” would restore the legitimacy of the Putin government.

Nor would the financial cost be unduly high.

For instance, out of Novorossiya’s eight oblasts, Donetsk (mining) and Kharkov (science, heavy industry) would be net contributors to the budget immediately or almost immediately. Donetsk has coal, and generated something like 25% of the Ukraine’s foreign currency earnings and as well as a disproportionate share of gov’t revenue. Kharkov is the Ukraine’s second hi-tech/science city after Kiev, as well as a major industrial center. Odessa (main Ukrainian port), Zaporozhye (Motor Sich), Nikolaev (shipbuilding), and Dnepropetrovsk (industrial) would have started off as recipients but could have been expected to transition to net donors after a few years of convergence. Only Lugansk and Kherson would likely remain net recipients indefinitely.

Still, 6/8 is a great deal. Much better, say, than the North Caucasus ethnic minority republics (0/7). If anything, it would be Kharkov subsidizing, say, Pskov, as opposed to “Russia” subsidizing Kharkov.

This demonstration of force would also rescue Russia’s much diminished authority amongst countries such as Belarus and Kazakhstan, which in the wake of its humiliation in Syria would otherwise be rushing to disassociate themselves from Putin’s Russia.

Nonetheless, it’s pointless to pretend that this strategy will be without its risks.

First, Russia will be injected with a certain demographic highly hostile to it, especially if this project was to extend beyond Novorossiya. Second, Moldova might join up with Romania, making Transnistria officially part of a NATO country with all its attendant consequences. Third, sanctions will be ramped up to a near total level, and the prospects of reconciliation with the West, including the EU, will go from minimal to effectively zero.

suwalki-gap

2.e. The Baltics

By far the riskiest but highest potential pay-off strategy would be to invade the Baltics immediately after the Syria debacle, perhaps after giving them a 24 hour ultimatum to denounce NATO (which will certainly be declined).

In the first days of the war, the residents of Saint-Petersburg will see their Internet speeds slow down to a crawl, as NATO trawlers cut the submarine fiber-optic cable linking Western Russia to the global Internet. The Unz Review and other alt media sites that host Russian propaganda will also be shut down right about this time. In general, communications and trade links between the two blocs will be rapidly severed, while traditional wartime mechanisms of authoritarian control reappear.

The main advantage of this strategy is that a fast and relatively bloodless victory is all but assured, as Russian armored spearheads sever the Suwalki gap to connect Kaliningrad to the mainland, while others race towards Tallinn and Riga.

This is not just my opinion, but that of the RAND Corporation in its 2016 report Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank: Wargaming the Defense of the Baltics:

In a series of wargames conducted between summer 2014 and spring 2015, the RAND Corporation examined the shape and probable outcome of a near-term Russian invasion of the Baltic states. The games’ findings are unambiguous: As currently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members. Across multiple games using a wide range of expert participants in and out of uniform playing both sides, the longest it has taken Russian forces to reach the outskirts of the Estonian and/or Latvian capitals of Tallinn and Riga, respectively, is 60 hours. Such a rapid defeat would leave NATO with a limited number of options, all bad: a bloody counteroffensive, fraught with escalatory risk, to liberate the Baltics; to escalate itself, as it threatened to do to avert defeat during the Cold War; or to concede at least temporary defeat, with uncertain but predictably disastrous consequences for the Alliance and, not incidentally, the people of the Baltics.

The obvious downside is that Russia will now likely be formally at war with much of NATO, assuming that most of its members choose to honor Article V, at least in words.

The upside is that retaking the Baltics would be prohibitively expensive – Kaliningrad represents one of the greatest concentrations of military power on the planet, while the Baltic Sea itself would become a death zone under Russia’s A2/AD bubble. Western nuclear escalation is unlikely to be credible, since it’s hard to imagine the US trading New York for Riga. Meanwhile, a failure to mount a credible intervention risks demoralizing and cracking NATO itself.

My guess is that the likeliest outcome is (1) a consolidation, rather than cracking, of NATO; (2) a long and possibly permanent “phoney war”, such as the one that prevailed between France and Germany for the first eight months of World War II.

Still, the risks are extremely high.

If NATO fully consolidates and fully mobilizes, then Russia’s conventional defeat becomes inevitable – the military-industrial divergence between the two blocs is simply too great. But here’s the crux of the matter – such a conflict will go nuclear, at least if Russia follows its own military doctrine, which relies on the concept of limited “de-escalatory” nuclear strikes (a strategy that bears a resemblance to NATO’s during the Cold War when the Warsaw Pact had military superiority in Central Europe). If NATO checks or raises instead of folding, Russia will continue reraising, up to and including a full scale nuclear apocalypse. It’s a reckless strategy, sure, but as a weak player with no other chips left, it has no other choice.

Conversely, if it is NATO that fails to consolidate and enters an existential crisis after Russia conquers the Baltics, it is the US that might escalate to the use of nuclear weapons in a bid to preserve its global hegemony.

Consequently, it is highly unlikely that the highly cautious men in the Kremlin would embark upon such an adventure.

2.f. China

cmp-usa-russia-china-1940-2015

There’s a small possibility that China will use the opportunity to seize Taiwan and solidify its hegemony over the South China Sea, though it’s not really militarily ready for that yet (many of its weapons system are close to qualitative convergence with the US, but it has yet to mount a credible buildup, which will take another decade or two).

Still, the US being so preoccupied elsewhere might be too juicy of an opportunity to miss out on.

Although it is uncertain to what extent China will help out Russia, it is not in its interests to allow it to collapse and drift over to the Western camp. Russia is China’s strategic rear, and a secure source of hydrocarbons and minerals should tensions with the US increase to the point that they shut down its sea routes to the Middle East.

Still, on the off chance that China decides to join the West in pressuring Russia, then the latter’s situation becomes hopeless, and it might as well capitulate sooner rather than later.

metro-2033-moscow

3. Nuclear War

It is unlikely but not impossible that World War III will escalate to a major nuclear exchanges between the US and Russia.

Since the tone of this article has so far been pessimistic, now is as good a time as any to inject a “positive” note.

Even a full-scale thermonuclear exchange between Russia and the US is patently survivable. The theory of “nuclear winters”, at least in its wilder variants (drops of many tens of degrees), has been long discredited. The eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 was approximately equal in megatonnage to that of all the world’s current nuclear arsenals, and yet it merely led to a single “year without a summer” that did not even produce any major famines in a pre-industrial world. Fallout radiation levels decay rapidly, and it will be safe to emerge from shelters almost everywhere after just two weeks. Most rural areas and many small towns would be almost unaffected, at least directly. Sadly, there will be no monster mutants roaming the post-apocalyptic plains – even in the Fallout video games, that was the result of a biological weapon, not of nuclear weapons.

Now to be sure, some modest percentage of the world population will die, and a majority of the capital stock in the warring nations will be destroyed.

However, this destruction would have been far from total even during the 1950s, when missile accuracy was lower, urban population density in the US was higher, and total megatonnage was much larger. Here is a table of the percentage of capital stock that nuclear war theorist Herman Kahn (On Thermonuclear War) expected to survive in the US following a nuclear war with the USSR:

nuclear-war-capital-stock

As Herman Kahn might have said, this is a tragic but nonetheless distinguishable outcome compared to a true “existential risk” to the human species.

Now to be sure, they will be some pretty cardinal changes.

There will be a modest global cooling, and a collapse of the global economy. Many Third World countries may indeed slip into famine due to the breakdown of global trade.

The US, Russia, and chunks of Western Europe will be economically and demographically shattered, having lost 10%-25% of their population and perhaps 80% of their GDP.

Although the majority – probably the vast majority (90%+) – of the world’s population will survive, that is extremely unlikely to include myself. Although Moscow has the A-135 anti-missile system, which uniquely uses 10 kiloton nuclear missiles to knock down incoming nuclear missiles – in the process flattening much of the surrounding Moscow oblast – it cannot stop a barrage of hundreds of missiles. The most it can do is buy a bit of extra time for the Kremlin elites to descend into the D6 secret subway system and spirit themselves off to remote control bunkers such as the one at Mount Yamantau.

Meanwhile, the world’s new hegemon – assuming it managed to mostly stay out of the line of nuclear fire – will be China.

Although some Europeans, especially our best representatives, might rue this development, it would on some level be quite well deserved and even appropriate.

That is because getting manipulated into rage quitting on your own civilization by some Middle Eastern tribes is really, really retarded, and stupidity needs to be punished.

 
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Tucker: “What is the American national interest that will be served by regime change?”
Senator: “If you care about Israel… we have a strategic interest there.”

I don’t think I have a reputation for panicking. But I do think that we are now at probably the most dangerous point in world affairs since Russian and NATO troops faced off at Pristina Airport in 1999, if not since the Cold War.

It is now clear that there will almost certainly be strikes by the US against Syrian targets in coordination with France, Britain, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, and that the scope of this attack will be much greater than last year.

  • Naval force capable of a cruise missile strike is already off the coast of Syria, namely the destroyer USS Donald Cook and the cruise missile submarine USS Georgia. The destroyer Laboon will soon join up with them, while Carrier Strike Group 8 (USS Harry S. Truman) will be in the area in a week’s time.
  • The French frigate Aquitaine is also in the area, and British forces in Cyprus are allegedly mobilizing for strikes.
  • Russian Su-24′s have harassed the Donald Cook and Aquitaine, and the Black Sea Fleet has been placed on combat alert. Several senior officials have said there will be military retaliation if Russian troops are targeted, although there have been no clear commitments even as regards that. Current Russian naval forces in the area include two Kilo submarines. From my limited research, the Moskva cruiser is out of theater.
  • Trump has canceled scheduled visits to Latin America to instead “oversee the American response to Syria”, while James Mattis has canceled visits to Arizona and California.
  • Civilian overflights over Syria have completely ceased as Eurocontrols declares a no fly zone over the East Mediterranean for the next 72 hours.
  • The US and Russia vetoed each others Douma investigation resolutions at the UN Security Council. The reason Russia vetoed is that the American version had a reference to Chapter VII, which would have opened an avenue for the US to go to war against Syria – that is, for the same reasons it vetoed the US resolutions in 2017. The Libyan experience taught Russia to pay attention to wording.
  • While the US “welcomes” the OCPW mission to establish the facts on the ground, it openly says it will not affect the US decision on a response to Syria (sic). What can one say? At least they’re utterly forthright in their pretensions to exceptionalism.
  • There has been a remarkable show of unity over this issue in Europe, and not just the usual suspects. Days after approving it, Angela Merkel chose today to announce that Nord Stream 2 must preserve a transit role for the Ukraine. This kind of annuls its entire purpose and puts the capstone on the Kremlin’s dismal gas policy and outreach to Germany.
  • Meanwhile, Congress is already moving to enact further sanctions against Russia (forbids transactions relating to new Russian sovereign debt).

The Western media is beating the drumbeat for war, and unlike in 2003, during the Libyan Crisis, or even last year, I see hardly any skepticism about it in the comments. The few skeptics are invariably labeled Russian trolls. I am really getting the impression that the degree of popular hate in the West towards Russia is approaching what Allied citizens must have felt towards Nazi Germany by 1941. Kudos where its due: Neoliberalism.txt has programmed its peons well.

I still don’t think this will boil over into a major war, but the chances of that are now well above 0%.

If it does, though, it will constitute a stupidly appropriate end to Western civilization as we know it. As one commenter here has noted, current decision-makers make the statesmen of 1914 seem sane and rational.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Geopolitics, Russia, Syrian Civil War, United States 
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On April 6, the US Treasury Department extended sanctions against a number of Russian billionaires, including:

  • Heads of state owned energy giants Sechin (Rosneft) and Miller (Gazprom)
  • Putin’s circle of silovarch chums and friendly billionaires, e.g. Kirill Shalamov (Putin’s former son-in-law), Fursenko, Patrushev, Zolotov, Dyumin (a long rumored successor)
  • The “oligarchs” (which they are not) Deripaska (Rusal/EN+), Vekselberg, and Kerimov

Positive side is that this helps Putin’s stated goal of “nationalizing” Russia’s infamously comprador elites and repatriate their money back to Russia.

Negative side is that these sanctions really are quite serious, constituting a major upgrade over the meaningless Russian Forbes list from January 2017.

The individuals and companies in question have been added to the Specifically Designated Nationals (SDN), which forbids US nationals from doing business with them, freezes their US assets, requires US persons to sell any company stock they have within 30 days, and crucially, opens the possibility of secondary sanctions against non-US companies that continue to do business with them.

Companies in this category include some of the commanding heights of the Russian economy:

  • EN+/Rusal – World’s largest aluminium producer
  • Rosoboronexport – Russia’s weapons expert monopolist
  • Russian Machines – Major industrial conglomerate

These come in addition to previously enacted sectoral sanctions on the Russian oil industry, which makes it difficult for Russia to get access to the equipment and software needed to drill for unconventional oil (its own capabilities in this sphere are limited thanks to Putin’s relative disinterest in developing domestic R&D).

The new sanctions will further up the pressure on the long-term viability of the Russian economy:

1. The US market is an order of magnitude larger than Russia’s, so it is not only US corporations that will defer to Uncle Sam. This will also hold true for European corporations (most of Russia’s trade is still with Europe), for Chinese corporations (unless the CPC expressly orders them to flout US restrictions), and even for other Russian corporations (e.g. Russian state banking giant Sberbank still doesn’t have any branches in Crimea in what is probably a futile effort to avoid US sanctions).

2. The fact that the US continues to introduce even more severe sanctions against Russian companies – and we haven’t even gotten to the fallout over the Douma alleged chemical weapons attack – will make foreigners even warier of doing business in Russia than they already are, and raise the cost of business across the board.

It is now well past time to admit that the US is engaged in a long-term project to cut off and strangle the Russian economy, and to react vigorously to this threat.

The dominant view in the US is that Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country, with an economy smaller than that of Italy/Texas, and is consequently too much of a small fry to hurt the US itself. The longer Russia sits still, the more certain the Americans will become in that conviction, and the more untied the Americans’ hands will become in enacting further anti-Russian sanctions and seizures. It is well past time to move beyond symbolic measures if Russia wants to survive and thrive as a sovereign state.

Some ideas for Russian sanctions against the US:*

1. Although kicking out select American corporations will be viscerally satisfying – I have seen McDonald’s suggested – in reality this would be very counterproductive, making foreigners even more loth to invest in Russia.

2. Get Roskomnadzor to do something useful for once and block Google, Facebook, and Twitter (as opposed to harassing Russian patriots and threatening to shut down Russian services such as Telegram). These companies all have an anti-Russian agenda and are deep in bed with USG and its global surveillance program. They should not be allowed free access to the Russian market, not least because Russia has viable alternatives to all of them ready to go (e.g. Yandex, Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki).

Those few Russians who really, really need Google/Facebook will be free to use VPN to get round them.

Russia needs its own sovereign information ecosystem like China has instead of feeding its adversary’s.

3. Since the US is now targeting Putin’s “oligarchs”, while leaving pro-Western Russian billionaires alone (e.g. Friedman’s Alpha Bank, which has acknowledged the Donbass and Crimea as occupied territories), this creates perverse incentives for Russian oligarchs to kowtow to Uncle Sam.

There are two ways to rebalance incentives:

(a) Compensate the material losses of Russian billionaires affected by Western sanctions. But this is going to be very unpopular with ordinary Russians, and Navalny and liberals are at the ready to make political hay from this.

(b) Pressure pro-Western billionaires. Associating with the US and its most supplicant satraps (e.g. the UK) should become as toxic for a Russian businessman, as it is now for American businessmen to associate with Russia. A couple of demonstrative trials should instill the message.

4. Since Trump wants protectionism so much, he can have it.

There have been several campaigns to shift from Microsoft products to Linux, but the former remains ubiquitous on Russian government systems. This is a totally bizarre state of affairs, not least considering that the US banned Kaspersky on government systems last December. There need to be real punishments and demotions for heads of bureaucratic departments who continue (for all intents and purposes) to feed yet another US surveillance apparatus within Russia.

Another company that comes to mind is Boeing. Russian airlines should be mandated to buy non-US planes, and preferably Russian ones. Russia has the SSJ-100 regional plane, the Irkut MC-21 will enter mass production from 2019, and there is a large wide-body jet jointly developed by Russia and China that may be coming to market by the late 2020s.

This is just the beginning. I’m sure one can think of many other good targets.

Fortunately, Trump/deep state/whomever have been dumb enough to engage in a trade war with China and Europe at the same time as they further the squeeze on Russia, so there’ll be plenty of opportunities for cooperation on this.

5. The US in 2017 made a special exemption to allow NASA and other American companies to continue buying Russian rocket engines.

Russia should just ban it anyway.

SpaceX is still a couple of years off from developing the heavy reusable rockets that would annul the need for Russian rocket engines.

6. I have long been arguing that Russia should adopt the Chinese method of keeping a secret blacklist of very hostile Western journalists (so that would be most of them) and denying them visas.

First, this works. Western coverage of China is far nicer and fairer than of Russia.

Second, frankly, these people deserve it, having played a major role into getting us all into this mess.

7. I believe that sooner or later RT is going to get ejected from a swathe of Western countries.

When that happens, Russia should be prepared to shut down the relevant country’s news bureaus in Moscow (making exceptions for any pro-Russian outlets, if they exist).

* Some good ideas/inspirations from this Reddit thread.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Economic Sanctions, Russia, United States 
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lisbon-night

Just back from Portugal. Will share impressions in a later post (most are positive).

I’ll be doing quite a bit of traveling this summer. I’ll be in London again soon [business], will probably stop by in Denmark this May [because a certain event can no longer take place in London for political reasons], will be in Romania early this June [friend's wedding] – at which point I might as well tick off some of the V4 countries and maybe Austria [dependent on whether I can get free accomodation there].

On this note, I am considering getting a laptop. Blogging from a PC as I do is fine when you are stationary, but not so straightforward from a cell phone, and I’ll probably be abroad for most of this summer. And as the great Thorfinnsson correctly pointed out, writing posts from a cell phone is for losers.

So I’ll appreciate some advice on the best value-for-money laptops today [reqs: Needs to have an SSD and a good processor, but don't care about the GPU].

Donations are even more appreciated: http://akarlin.com/donations/

Featured

* Audacious Epigone: Support for free speech among young white college graduates has declined over the last several decades.

free-speech-support-over-time

Seems to confirm our worse fears; declining support for free speech far from entirely ascribable to demographic change.

* New book coming out soon: Edward Dutton and Michael Woodley, “At Our Wit’s End: Why We’re Becoming Less Intelligent and What it Means for the Future.”

Incidentally, if all goes well, I’ll be able to collect Heiner Rindermann’s new book Cognitive Capitalism when I’m in London and review it.

* Spat between Ezra Klein and Sam Harris.

* Gregory Hood: The Racial Politics of ‘Kingdom Come: Deliverance’. Will try to finish a review of this game myself soon.

* Pyrkov, Timothy et al. – Extracting biological age from biomedical data via deep learning: too much of a good thing?. Company behind this is Gero, one of the Russian companies getting into the life extension game.

* Woodley, Michael et al. (2017) – What Caused over a Century of Decline in General Intelligence? Testing Predictions from the Genetic Selection and Neurotoxin Hypotheses.

Summary from James Thompson here.

* Search for advanced civilizations beyond Earth finds nothing obvious in 100,000 galaxies. Kirkegaard: “The great filter is coming for us. But what is it?” Doing an article on this right now.

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World

* Paul Nehlen doxxes legendary Alt Right Twitter troll Ricky Vaughn.

This did good for Vaughn’s brand, if perhaps not his future career prospects. He was for a change a pretty normal fellow by Alt Right leader standards: Not obese, no Jewish wife, not a walking caricature of a white trashionalist, etc.

This also proves that boomers are incurable. Even if you try to cure them, they OD on the redpills.

* Just follow Audacious Epigone already:

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Russia

* Russia/China cooperation continues increasing; some links in my post here.

* Patrick Armstrong’s RF Sitrep, April 5 2018. He is also leaving Facebook.

* Alexander Mercouris: Latest US sanctions on Russia: incitement to a coup and a new form of protectionism. But Navalny is pretty happy with them.

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Science & Culture

* James Somers: The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete

* Diffusion of public mechanical clocks followed the printing press:

Germany, Northern Italy, Benelux still the most advanced parts of Europe – especially in manufacturing. Really deep precedents for that.

* Emil Kirkegaard points out genomics costs going town much more rapidly than expected:

genomics-costs

* CW: EU-funded research: “genes make up 15-45% of the factors that determine the number of children a person ends up having”

* Chapman, Robert et al. (2018) – New literacy challenge for the twenty-first century: genetic knowledge is poor even among well educated

Participants received secondary education in 78 countries, with the largest samples from Russia, the UK and the USA. The results showed significant group differences in genetic knowledge between different countries, professions, education levels and religious affiliations. Overall, genetic knowledge was poor. The questions were designed to assess basic genetic literacy. However, only 1.2% of participants answered all 18 questions correctly, and the average score was 65.5%. Genetic knowledge was related to peoples’ attitudes towards genetics. For example, those with greater genetic knowledge were on average more willing to use genetic knowledge for their personal health management.

* Jose Ricon’s links.

* Scott Alexander reviews Jordan Peterson’s new book.

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Powerful Takes

* A perfect 180:

.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Freedom of Speech, Open Thread 
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trump-assad-animal

At this point I’m just wondering when neoliberalism.txt will finally lay off the Russiagate conspiracy theory.

I suspect never.

jail-trump-anyway

The neocons surrounding Trump have locked him into a never-ending spiral of escalation towards Russia in a hopeless bid to “prove” that he is not Putin’s puppet.

By striking Syria, Trump becomes “Presidential” in eyes of the Western media and the average American is all too happy to swallow it up, no matter the patent false flaginess of this false flag.

Meanwhile, Egor Kholmogorov is on point, as usual: “I still don’t understand why Novorossiya wasn’t worth war, while a fake chemical chemical attack on Skripal and the bearded ones – was. We warned you that all attempts to “de-escalate” would lead to this.

 
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Great map of the Ephemeral States of the Russian Civil War:

russia-civil-war-states

The state collapse of the old order temporarily brought all sorts of strange new political formations into existence, as is the universal pattern (“the empire long united must divide”).

The Idel Ural Republic. The Republic of North Ingria. Even a “Green Ukraine” in the Far East.

All fleeting entities which nobody except specialists and history buffs know about now, because the USSR declined to sponsor them.

 
• Tags: Civil War, Map, Soviet Union 
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Official results:

map-russia-elections-2018-putin

Official results with adjustment for fraud (via Kireev):

map-russia-elections-2018-putin-real

As blogger Ivan Vladimirov noted, and as the above map confirms, Putin has become the President of ethnic Russians. This stands to reason. For instance, it’s probably hard for many Dagestanis to see the appeal of Crimea. As opposed to, say, for the peoples of the Kuban.

Tatarstan also delivered a pretty low result, possibly over Tatar sullenness about Putin recently l ifting the mandatory teaching of the Tatar language there, which was a source of ire for that region’s non-Tatar minorities.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Map, Russian Elections 2018 
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antonova-expert

Some headlines since that powerful take:

One wonders what would constitute the Putin – Xi relationship getting better.

PS. Having been in Sheremetyevo Airport recently, I noticed that Chinese translations were as ubiquitous as English ones.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: China, International Relations, Russia 
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In murder rates.

Although gun laws in NY are tough, it’s still incomparably easier to get firepower in there than in London. UK laws are so hardcore that their Olympics shooting team has to practice in France.

There are also almost twice as many Negroes as a share of the population in NYC (25%) versus London (13%) – and the latter’s are higher quality (more of an achievement to migrate from Africa to Britain today than to be enslaved in the 18th century).

Yet even so, NYC of all places is now safer for human life than London.

Although homicides in most of Europe have been consistently much lower than in the US, they often vied for and even “beat” American cities in terms of petty crime.

This is thanks to things such as Three Strikes laws in the US, which might be a bit harsh on career criminals but are a boon for law-abiding citizens. This is why I have never criticized the US imprisonment rate. It’s a good thing. A resegregation in all but name that constrained the ultimate intensity of the crime wave following the post-1960s social dissolution.

Meanwhile, London mayor Sadiq Khan – he for whom terrorism is part and parcel of life in a global city – is cutting down on bobbies, at least those who are not involved in confiscating butter knives (yes, really) and tracking shitposters on Twitter.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Crime, Homicide 
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Haven’t been following it closely, so will refrain from commenting on it myself.

Polls:

hungary-elections-2018-polls

Matt Forney (who is currently living in Hungary) is optimistic on Fidesz/Orban.

Some comments from region expert reiner Tor during the past month:

1

The most reputable Hungarian analyst thinks Fidesz will win a narrow majority on Sunday. But because of the still many unknowns, he’s unsure, it could be a Fidesz loss (though the opposition will probably be unable to form a government), or in a best case scenario even a supermajority for Fidesz. (Just a list: few and unreliable district level data; questions about “strategic voting,” opposition supporters voting for other opposition parties, especially wrt Jobbik vs. leftists; trends, which have generally been unfavorable towards Fidesz in recent weeks; Fidesz has recently been measured stronger than it really was, whether it still holds; etc.)

Basically, what I wrote recently: difficult to predict, but a narrow Fidesz majority looks most likely, with a Fidesz loss more likely than a supermajority, but even the latter possible.

2

The Hungarian election seems difficult to predict because there is little openly available detailed precinct level data, and also because it’s difficult to measure second preferences and the likelihood of people voting for candidates other than that of their most preferred parties. It’s also difficult to predict turnout, and the Fidesz victory or its size greatly depends on turnout: basically, the lower the turnout, the higher the portion of the votes going to Fidesz. The most likely guess is still a Fidesz win without winning a supermajority, though there’s always the chance of a Fidesz supermajority and also of a Fidesz loss. The March 15 speech of Orbán threatening some unspecified people with retribution was unhelpful in that it could mobilize the opposition voters. The fact that now there seems to be a chance of beating him will probably also mobilize opposition voters.

3

It’s a near certainty that the “don’t know” voters will mostly vote for an opposition party. There’s more of them than usual, especially this close to the election (when normally voters already know for sure if they were going to vote, and for whom).

Orbán is good (he seems to have gotten more and more based over the years), but his corruption and his tendency to surround himself with incompetent hacks and sycophants will be his undoing. As I wrote, I still expect him to win this time, but he will no longer get a supermajority.

Regarding immigration, if Jobbik becomes a part of the coalition, then I wouldn’t expect big changes. Even half of leftist voters are against third world immigration. But I’m not sure if the enthusiasm will stay.

Also Orbán is overusing the migration topic in his election campaign, especially whenever his corruption comes up. It only discredits the topic, which I don’t like.

I still hope he’ll manage to change. As you wrote, he is probably the most based white leader of any country.

We’ll see.

4

Jobbik has drifted to the left. It’s now probably to the left of Fidesz, or at least not significantly to the right. Its relations with any of the leftist parties are better than Fidesz. By the way, Orbán tried to make it impossible for them to campaign. So they also hate Orbán now. And they are definitely not less handshakeworthy than Fidesz. They already engaged in talks to the leftist parties. The “new leftist” parties (untainted with governing 2002-10) actually probably like Jobbik more than the socialists or DK (a spinoff party of the socialists with their least popular politicians, somehow still hanging in the National Assembly).

on the assumption that people MUST vote against Orban whoever is available

That has happened in all of the by-elections since 2014. Fidesz lost each of them. I’m not saying it will happen everywhere, but if Fidesz loses over half the districts…

Let me repeat: I still think Fidesz will win this one. But unless they change significantly (and I’m not sure they are capable of that), they will lose badly in 2022. Probably already during the European elections. Even the municipal elections (I think in 2019). It’s possible that they won’t be able to hold onto power until 2022. (And there’s now some chance of them losing already on April 8.)

They have less than half of the voters, and anyone who is not explicitly their voter hates them. Not a good situation, even if you’re the biggest party in the land…

5

You have to remember he started out as a young, fresh leader. (The name Fidesz originally comes from an abbreviation FIDESZ, which stood for Young Democrats’ Alliance. It was a liberal party in the early 1990s, and until 1992 no new member could be accepted above the age 35…)

His entourage changed a lot since he came to power in 2010. It moved a bit in the alt-right direction, which is to say, it got crankier. Many of his more normal conservative allies left him over the years or started keeping a low profile, while he started to employ stupid lieutenants. Since 2010, but especially since 2014 he really became a Führer of his party, and most people around him were sycophants. He seems to have believed by 2014 that he was an infallible genius, and that it was no longer possible for anyone in Hungary to beat him.

His lieutenants are now either stupid or corrupt or both. He himself is not above all this: his son-in-law started a corrupt scheme in 2010, and was already considered a shady scandal-ridden figure before 2014, but recently new details emerged. It’s possible Hungary will have to pay back some money to the EU (I mean, stealing EU monies when you’re trying to take a stand against them must be stupid…) because of these shady deals. The mayor of his native village became one of the richest people in the country over the past 8 years (he’s a simple gas fitter), and many people now suspect that his wealth actually belongs to Orbán personally. To be honest, it’s not implausible.

6

A number of scandals rocked his party (some corruption scandals involving his close family members, but not all scandals were corruption related), but the most important thing is that already in 2014 he didn’t have a majority of the votes.

The Hungarian election system since 2014 is a mix of first past the post and (to a smaller extent) proportional representation. (Even the latter favors the winner.) Before Orbán changed it, it had a similar system, but one where the MP districts had a second round, unless someone received the majority of the votes. So parties could run separately and then after the first round of voting they could form an alliance.

Orbán changed the system because he understood that for the opposition (which was divided, even without Jobbik) would need to form an alliance in order to be competitive. However, some of the leftist parties were discredited in the eyes of the majority of the electorate (and the voters of Jobbik and the leftists were often incompatible), and so an alliance would have destroyed a large portion of the appeal of the other leftist parties (not to mention Jobbik).

However, that seems to have changed recently. Moreover, there has been open talk of “cross-voting” even with Jobbik, so in many places the parties won’t even have to form an alliance (which, less than three weeks before the election, they have still failed to do anyway), their voters in each district will be voting for the most popular opposition candidate (and now this seems to include Jobbik), and they are encouraging their voters to do so.

It’s a question how many of the voters will actually do so, but I think the floodgates have opened to some extent already. It’s not exactly encouraging that since 2014 Fidesz has lost all by-elections. They were usually explained away as products of unusual local circumstances, but it’s getting increasingly likely that it will happen in a lot of places.

I still expect Fidesz to win, but not by a large margin.

7

Though I still expect Orbán to win in April, his odds have considerably worsened in recent weeks. There is now a serious chance of Fidesz not getting a majority. I don’t know what will happen after that. Theoretically there could be a coalition, but now neither a Fidesz-Jobbik, nor a Jobbik-left coalition seems viable. Even the leftist parties seem to hate each other as much as they hate Fidesz.

But I think Orbán will still probably win this time, but it’s likely his last cycle as prime minister.

8

I don’t think it’s substantially better. Especially not in the long run. Orbán neglects education, which has the side effect of making teachers hate him. Teachers tend to be leftists anyway, but it seems they have become overwhelmingly so in the last few years. High schoolers are now often protesting the government, there have been demonstrations against Orbán by them (nominally about some issues with education, but obviously it was political, including some of the slogans etc.), so it’s probably a mistake which will bear its rotten fruits over the long run.

9

What I don’t understand is that how Hungary could perform so poorly in football. Orbán threw a lot of money on it (he built a number of shiny stadiums, where the same shitty teams play shitty football…), but it got us nowhere. Apparently Hungarian coaches (including those raising young players) are of very bad quality, stuck in the 1970s or something, and it’s very difficult to change that, since older coaches teach the younger ones. The system is also very corrupt, and by throwing money at it, Orbán only managed to perpetuate it. Players enjoy that now they can stay in Hungary for similar money as they would make in the German second league, but for less work or performance, so they prefer staying at home. Ironically, this might depress the Hungarian national team in the coming years.

.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Elections, Hungary, Orban 
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Belated comment on the Kemerovo fire that killed 64 people, including 41 children.

1. Tragedies like this are inevitable and will always happen, the best that could be done is working to minimize and mitigate them (personally I favor legislating exorbitant compensation for victims, since money > ethics so far as almost all businesses are concerned).

2. Russia’s high rates of deaths from fires are, like its high mortality in general, part of its Soviet legacy of mass alcoholization.

Moreover, it has been going DOWN under Putin, just like suicide, murders, deaths from alcohol poisoning. Tragic as it is, Kemerovo wouldn’t even have been a big scandal in 2000s, whereas today, it provokes a large local protest (which Western journalists rushed to portray as yet another failure of and challenge to Putin).

russia-mortality-from-fires

Mortality from fires in Russia [blue - total deaths; red - total hospitalized; green - deaths / 100,000], via genby and Ministry of Emergency Situations.

ussr-mortality-from-fires

Mortality from fires in the USSR, 1946-1990 [orange - total deaths].

3. There were claims of 300-400 deaths early on, which Western journalists eagerly latched onto.

Said “Moscow sources” turned out to be some random Ukrainian scumbag.

A more relevant point is that in the modern, inter-connected world, it is exceedingly difficult to conspire to hide away deaths. Russia didn’t even manage to do this with respect to the Wagner mercenaries murdered by the US in Syria, while Western propaganda about hundreds of deaths was also eventually disproven, as social media reports trickled in and gradually confirmed the most realistic estimates of a few dozen deaths.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Demographics, Mortality, Russia 
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Georgia makes basically no sense from an HBD perspective.

Georgians aren’t very bright, and GDP growth has been unimpressive

For all the praise heaped upon Georgia by deregulation advocates and libertarians, its institutional miracle hasn’t been accompanied by an economic one; GDP per capita is only about 15% above peak Soviet levels.

georgia-gdp-growth

This is much better than Ukraine, Moldova, and some Central Asian countries, but much inferior to Armenia and Belarus (to say nothing of oil-rich Azerbaijan).

The roots of this underperformance might have something to do with the low cognitive ability of Georgians demonstrated in IQ tests. Georgia got a PISA-equivalent IQ of just 86 in the latest assessment, an improvement over 81 in the PISA 2009 Plus, when it was near the end of the list alongside countries like Albania and Qatar.

Historical literacy rates before the onset of mass schooling predict modern day IQ pretty well. 242 out of 1,252 conscripts (19%) from the Tiflis Governorate were literate in 1898, considerably lower than the numbers for Russia as a whole, which was approaching 50% by that time.

But some Georgians are pretty bright

Muscovite Georgians are more educated than Muscovites – 49% have higher education, which is higher than for Russian Muscovites with 38%, as of 2001.

Russians Ukrainians Georgians Azeris Armenians Tatars Jews TOTAL
Higher education 38% 41% 49% 24% 53% 23% 67% 39%
Incomplete higher education 9% 8% 5% 8% 6% 11% 6% 9%
Medium specialized 26% 32% 17% 18% 15% 26% 20% 26%
Medium 20% 13% 29% 35% 21% 26% 2% 19%
Incomplete medium 7% 5% ~ 15% 6% 15% 6% 7%

The average IQ of Moscow as Russia’s leading cognitive cluster is around 105. They have also contributed their share of eminent people (e.g. Zurab Tsereteli, Boris Akunin aka Grigol Chkhartishvili). They are not, of course, as prevalent as the Jews, but you still meet a substantial amount of Georgian names in the ranks of the liberal, progressive, pro-Western “Russian” intelligentsia. Did most of the upper part of the Georgian bell curve simply decamp to Russia?

As a share of their population, Georgians contributed as many scientists per capita during the late USSR as the Russians and Armenians (the highest scoring nations apart from the Jews). They were also more overrepresented in the ranks of the CPSU than any other ethnicity apart from the Jews.

No substantial records of cousin marriage

Though (Muslim) Georgians do have a 22% rate of consanguineous marriage in Iran, of which a third were between first cousins.

gcb-2017-bribery-europe

Low levels of corruption

As a country outside of the Hajnal Line, surrounded by other, highly corrupt countries – 18% of Turks, 24% of Armenians, 34% of Russians, and 38% of Azeris and Ukrainians reported paying a bribe in the past year as of the mid-2010s – one might expect Georgia to be a highly corrupt country. But it’s not. Only 7% of Georgians reported paying a bribe in the past year, a percentage analogous to that in Poland and Estonia, and much lower than even some other East-Central European nations, such as Hungary (22%) and Romania (29%).

georgia-corruption-historic

Only 2% of Georgian firms said they were expected to provide “gifts” to government officials to “get things done” as of 2012-13, down from 74% a decade earlier.

In terms of the CPI, it increased its rating from an abysmal 18/100 in 2003 to a respectable, Baltic/Czech-level 57/100 by 2016.

Mikheil Saakashvili appears to have overseen a uniquely fast transition from typical post-Soviet corruption levels to those more characteristic of the developed world, at least as pertains ordinary citizens and businesses. Bureaucracy was slashed many times over; organized crime kingpins (“vory v zakone”) were deported to – offloaded onto – Russia.

No other post-Communist state has replicated this turnaround (Estonia was never very corrupt to begin with), and even in Mediterranean states such as Greece and to a lesser extent Italy, local corruption networks have proven remarkably resilient against the assault of EU institutional reform on a timescale of decades.

But Georgians are absurdly overrepresented in the ranks of organized crime.

They constitute 57% of the vory v zakone (“thieves in law”) in Russia, despite making up little more than 0.1% of the population.

For all intents and purposes, the “Russian” mafia is a Georgian one.

This is not specific to Russia – even Ukrainian headlines are full of Georgian vory getting arrested/deported.

kirkegaard-muslims-crime

In Germany, Georgian immigrants have a higher propensity towards crime than all but Algerian immigrants.

That said, Georgia itself is a relatively civil and peaceable country. This is not surprising; this is a typical pattern for Middle Eastern and North African immigrants in Western Europe, whose criminal instincts are restrained by traditionalism in their home countries but let loose amidst the dissolute anomie of the northern cities. However, another reason is that the Georgians have been purposefully amnestying and deporting their own criminals to Russia and other countries since the time of Saakashvili.

Georgians are extremely conservative and worship Dzhugashvili (Stalin).

This isn’t something that the Western media loves to harp on about.

But Georgians do love their Stalin. In a 2013 poll, some 49% of them have positive emotions towards him, versus 28% of Russians.

If I was a Georgian I too would probably admire the guy who killed millions of Russians many of whom masochistically continue to worship the strong mustachioed Caucasian leader.

The Georgians don’t like homosexuals at all, though their government – like many in Eastern Europe – are forced to tolerate ritualistic gay pride marches to demonstrate their loyalty to the Euro-Atlanticist cause. That said, their attendees risk getting beaten up by bands of violent religious activists.

While even countries like Russia and Bulgaria have some substantial number of atheists, Georgia is almost monolithically religious: 99% believe in God, the highest number in Europe (even in Poland, the North Dakota of Europe, the figure is 86%; 75% in Russia, which turning into a “Christian theocracy” according to the unhinged but now thankfully sidelined nutters at The Moscow Times).

map-gay-marriage-support-europe

Consequently, it is unsurprising that 90% of Georgians view homosexuality as morally wrong (Russia: 85%), and only 3% support it, the lowest of any Orthodox country – and that’s despite a decade of pro-LGBT propaganda necessitated by its pro-EU/US orientation, whereas in Russia the propaganda was in the inverse direction.

Georgian is an HBD conundrum

Georgia is reasonably clean and civil, but exports an inordinate amount of rather “successful” criminals. Its people are dumb and conservative, and its Muslims practice cousin marriage, but the Georgian diaspora is intelligent and progressive. The country is pro-Western only by geopolitical exingency; the Georgian intelligentsia in Russia veers West without any significant internal conflict.

At first glance, this makes Georgia appear somewhat similar to a range of countries in the Near East, North Africa, and the Caucasus that are pretty poor and stupid, but have managed to produce highly successful (e.g. Lebanon, Armenia, Greece) and/or criminalized (e.g. Lebanon, Algeria, Syria) diasporas.

But most of those places remain dysfunctional dumps.

Except Georgia, which under Saakashvili achieved an institutional transformation towards greater transparency on a scale that seems to have no analogues in either Eastern or Southern Europe. (And made a mockery of Jaychick’s rigid claims about the immutability of the Hajnal Line in the process).

Now there’s been some skepticism (including from myself) that some large percentage of this improvement was illusory or ephemeral. Obviously, there would be much less corruption if you fire half the bureaucracy and cross out 90% of the regulations in one day – basically what Saakashvili did. There were also allegations that he had merely concentrated corruption around himself and his cronies; allegations seemingly confirmed by the pending criminal case against him in Georgia after his ouster (on the other hand, how corrupt could Saakashvili have really been if he ended up crashing at a friend’s apartment in Brooklyn after his exile? Even if he stole just a million or two dollars, that would basically make him a saint by ex-Soviet standards).

And while Georgia hasn’t become a tiger economy – it is hardly expected to with its dismal human capital indicators – it has nonetheless been more successful since the Great Recession that countries with similar low IQ, high brain drain profiles, such as Moldova, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan.

Greater attention to what Georgia did right would definitely be warranted. But they should be forced to take their mafiosi back.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Corruption, Georgia, IQ, LGBT 
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Share of human accomplishment by race:

kirkegaard-human-accomplishment-1

Graphed by Emil Kirkegaard, based on Charles Murray’s Human Accomplishment data.

gwern also made some graphs.

Here is the same thing in absolute figures:

kirkegaard-human-accomplishment-2

Consequently:

1. Dark Ages were definitely a real thing (in Europe), recent attempts to revise this regardless.

2. The age of Asian predominance lasted from the Crisis of the Third Century, when the Roman Empire fell into intellectual as well as political decline (Tainter: “increase in mysticism, and knowledge by revelation”), until about 1100, which coincided with the rise of medieval scholasticism, as opposed to the Renaissance, which is more commonly cited as the divergence point. In truth, at least as proxied by human accomplishment, Europe was already massively ahead even by the time of the Renaissance.

To do: Analyzing this wrt to demographic weight, historical literacy, and historical IQ levels (soon, potentially, with help of aDNA) .

 
• Category: History • Tags: Dark Ages, Human Achievement 
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The number of horses in the Russian Empire peaked in in 1913 and was around 35 million in 1916 (the US had about 20 million horses in 1915, and the two countries accounted for half the global equine population). At the time, they were almost all used in agriculture.

ussr-horse-population

The Soviet horse population plummeted during the Civil War, recovered during the NEP, then plummeted again during the early 1930s famine, recovered slightly again, but was further depleted by WW2, and stood at 12.8 million around 1950. The USSR then embarked on large-scale tractorization, and the horse population fell into long-term decline, reaching 9.9 million in 1960, 6.3 million in 1970 (of which 3.2 million in the RSFSR), and 5.6 million in 1980 (of which 2.5 million were in the RSFSR). It then seems to have stabilized; at any rate, the RSFSR horse population stood at 2.6 million by 1990.

Then it collapsed again in the upheaval of the 1990s, but bottomed out during the 2000s, and there were 1,381,300 horses in Russia as of 2016, the latest year for which data is available.

russia-horse-population

Where hither for Russian horses?

The US example might be instructive. The horse population peaked around 27 million in 1920, but then came tractorization, and the US horse population started plummeting due to economic obsolescence. They reached a trough of close to 3 million by the 1960s. However, people got richer, and interest in horses revived, this time for recreational reasons. By the 2000s, the horse population had gone back up to 10 million.

There are tentative signs that this is happening in Russia. While the number of horses belonging to agricultural organizations has plummeted from 2.3 million (i.e. almost all of them) to 300,000 by 2016, the numbers belonging to farmers and individual entrepreneurs has increased from a few 10,000′s in the 1990s to 369,000 by 2016.

If disposable incomes continue to increase, it is probable that the Russian horse population will become predominantly recreational, and will drive a recovery in numbers to 2-3 millions.

 
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new-martyrs

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

This massive opus, which will be published in two parts, is the closest thing there is to a condensed historiosophy of Kholmogorov’s.

Russians in the 2oth Century. Part I: Origins to WWII

Translated by Fluctuarius Argenteus

Original: http://100knig.com/russkie-v-xx-veke/

***

Early Stages of Russian Ethnic History

The modern Russian nation grew out of the Old Rus people, whose identity had already started to coalesce in the 9th century, as evidenced by a 839 embassy to Frankish emperor Louis the Pious, where the ambassadors claimed they were representing “a people named Ros.”

Over the 9-11th centuries, the Old Rus people assimilated a number of East Slavic and Finno-Ugric tribes, Scandinavian and West Slavic ethnic and social groups, developed a national awareness based around the concept of the Russian Land and Orthodox Christian identity, formed elements of high and everyday culture and lifestyle, as well as environmental, economic, and colonisation strategies.

The Old Rus identity was so durable that even the period of terrible Mongol onslaught and subsequent raids, political vassalage, and onerous tribute did not significantly hamper their development and territorial expansion. Starting in the 13-14th century, the Russians rapidly expanded to the north of the East European Plain. The system of small villages connected mainly through rivers and other waterways, allowed it to cover enormous and hard-to-colonise territories with a network of populated centres. An enormous role in the Russian colonisation was played by Orthodox monasteries, which, even at the most remote limits of Russia, acted as hotbeds of economic activity and culture.

russian-state-1500

The Russian state around 1500.

Over the 15th and 16th centuries Russia is formed as an early nation-state that identified the Grand Duchy of Moscow and its dependencies with the Old Rus and claiming the entirety of the Old Russian national legacy, above all the lands of Western and Southwestern Rus that had been annexed by Lithuania and Poland. In those lands, the population gradually developed the peculiarities of the Little Russian and Belorussian branches of the Russian nation. Together with disintegrating factors, such as Polonisation or Catholisation, there were also uniting factors, such as Orthodox communion and a common struggle for Orthodoxy.

In the East and South, we see the mass migration of Russians to the Urals, Siberia, and the Black Sea steppes, the construction of the Great Abatis Line and the emergence of a unique Cossack military and social system, which brought these lands away from nomad dominance and under intensive Russian colonisation and economic exploitation.

By the end of the 17th century, Russia grew to be the largest continental empire on Earth, even if the population was sparse and unevenly distributed. The Russians became one of the largest ethnic groups, with a rich and original culture, language, Orthodox tradition, and folkway. The existence of a Russian civilisation became a fait accompli.

Imperial Contradictions

The Imperial period in Russian history was coloured by contradictory processes. On the one hand, the expansion of the state continued, uniting the Belorussian and most of the Little Russian branches of the Russian people within a single state, leading to their mutual influence and enrichment as parts of a unified nation. In spite of roadblocks set up by serfdom, an intensive territorial expansion of the Russian population went on. In many cases, a widespread “escape from the state” only intensified the settlement of new territories by runaway serfs. Russian settlement completely engulfed Novorossiya and Crimea, North Caucasus, the Altai, and Ussuria. The Russians became the dominant ethnic group in the Volga region, the Urals, and Siberia, and energetically made their way into Central Asia and the Baltics, with many Russian communities also springing up in Transcaucasia. Russian colonisation even spread beyond the borders of Russia, leading to “Yellow Russia” projects in Manchuria.

russian-empire-ethnic-groups

Ethnicities of the Russian Empire in 1916.

On the other hand, the Empire absorbed large populations marked by a foreign cultural, ethnic, and even civilisation identity. Their integration into the Russian cultural matrix was hamstrung by the following problem: even for the Russians themselves, the civilisation standard of Russian culture ceased to be seen as fundamental. The reforms of Peter the Great caused it to be supplanted by the European standard. Social life was marred by cultural gaps and cultural cringe, a mutual estrangement between the upper and lower classes, when the élite could barely converse in their native tongue. In this period, the Orthodox faith, professed by all estates of the society, remained the sole unifying factor of national cultural identity. Rejecting the Russian civilisation standard led to a decline of folk culture. Rather than an ideal for ethnic minorities to aspire to, Russification began to be seen as a useless half-measure, getting in the way of a direct Europeanisation of specific ethnic groups and their ultimate independence from Russia.

At the same time, the 19th century saw a tremendous effort of synthesizing a modern Russian national culture. It was marked by the birth of national historiography, journalism, religious and philosophical thought. Russian poetry and prose reached an unparalleled splendour, becoming one of the cornerstones of world culture.

samarin The Slavophile doctrine revindicated Russian civilisational sovereignty. Yury Samarin’s [portrait right by Vasily Tropinin] and Mikhail Katkov’s polemical essays defended political nationalism, claiming that Russian culture and Russian national character are meant to integrate the entirety of the Empire’s population into a single whole, subject to the same laws, speaking a single language and having a common culture.

At the same time, we can see the the sources of the artificial separation of the Little Russian and Belorussian branches of the Russian nation. The cultural “Ukrainophile” movement in Galicia, beyond the borders of the Russian Empire, evolves into a cohesive Ukrainian separatism with its own version of history, its own purpose-built language, and political claims to all of Southern Russia. On a smaller scale the same reorientation happened with Belorussians. In both cases, one can easily see the interests of rival nations and empires, mostly Poles and Austrians, attempting to convert a part of the Russian population into a buffer between them and the Russian ethnopolitical core. Certain elements of this alienation even permeated Imperial statistics where “Great”, “Little”, and “White” Russians were counted and mapped separately.

black-hundreds

Demonstration by the Union of the Russian People.

Early 20th Century Crisis

In the early decades of the 20th century, the Russians were faced with a systemic crisis. Social antagonism between the peasantry and the upper classes of the Empire intensified. Still largely agrarian, Russia lagged behind in developing a non-class-based national awareness in the majority of the common folk. Mass schooling, an essential factor of nation-building, was underdeveloped, the army operated in the context of a royalist rather than national patriotism, the Church, faced with revolutionary and anti-clerical propaganda, was forced to be on the defensive instead of taking any active nation-building measures.

The development of national and patriotic awareness unfolded mostly in the educated classes, with an emerging national ideology, a demand for national culture, and patriotism as the ideological norm. However, the intelligentsia by and large preferred Liberalism and Socialism, including its Marxist strain. In the fight for the masses, national ideology faced fierce competition from revolutionary ideology, which was as anti-national as it was anti-monarchy and anti-capitalist.

The interpretation of Russia as the “prison of nations” and a desire to “liberate” ethnic minorities at any cost, including the open support of separatism, was the mainstay of most Russian revolutionary factions, from Liberals to Social-Democrats (Bolsheviks). Even before the collapse of the monarchy, the ethnic fringes of the Empire saw aggressive anti-Russian movements, especially the 1916 Central Asian uprising in a large part fanned by Turkish special services.

stolypin

Stolypin in the State Duma.

On a state level, the Imperial government more and more identified with Russian national values. In 1912, the State Duma passed a law that separated the Russian and Orthodox-majority Chełm (Kholm) Governorate from the Kingdom of Poland. The ethno-religious factor was put before reasons of political geography. Even more ethnocentric and Russian-favouring were the policies of Pyotr Stolypin, specifically his bill regarding zemstvo [local self-government] in the Western Krai [essentially modern-day Belarus], pushed against both left- and right-wing resistance in the Duma and the State Council. However, the assassination of the nationalist Prime Minister, social crisis, and state collapse put a decades-long stop to pro-Russian ethnic policies.

toppling-empire

Revolutionary Russophobia

The downfall of the monarchy, anarchy, endless ephemeral governments and republics, the civil war – all of this led not only to separatism in the non-Russian periphery but also cemented the schism of the Russian people. With a Ukrainian People’s Republic proclaimed in Kiev, Ukrainian separatism became a major factor in the intervention and civil war. In addition to the Belorussian Rada, there were active attempts to promote Cossack, Siberian, and Far Eastern separatism.

If most Whites supported the idea of a “united and indivisible Russia” and were Russian nationalists and patriots, the Bolsheviks actively employed the slogans of ethnic equality and supported the separatist forces of ethnic groups living in the Volga and North Caucasus regions. Bolshevik policies in those lands were markedly anti-Russian. While reconquering secessionist statelets, the Soviets positioned their régimes as national workers’ governments fighting against national bourgeois governments. For the Bolshevik leadership, the ethnic breakup of Russia and the Russians was self-evidently inevitable.

ukrainization-in-odessa

Ukrainization campaign in Odessa.

While constructing the USSR, the Bolshevik leaders politically reinforced the separations of Little Russians (renamed to Ukrainians) and Belorussians from Great Russians, now seen as the sole nation that the term “Russian” encompassed. On the other hand, they rejected the plans for a “Russian Republic” which implied the secession of Tatar, Bashkir, etc. republics from the RSFSR.

The USSR turned into an asymmetrical edifice, with its weakest point being the enshrinement of Ukrainian separatism. In 1924, Mykhaylo Hrushevsky, a leading ideologue of Ukrainisation, returned to Kiev and charted the course for imposing the Ukrainian language and identity via Soviet mass schooling. The national policies of early Bolshevik rule were based on systematic Russophobia. The Russians were seen, to quote Lenin, as a people “great only in their violence, only as great as bullies are.” The Bolshevik headman called for a purge of government administration from “a veritable sea of chauvinist Great Russian scum.”

The relations between the Russians and other ethnic groups were to be based on a complete humilitation of the Russian people as a way for them to atone for past injustices. As Nikolay Bukharin deigned to speak for all Russians, “we, as a former imperial nation, must place ourselves in unequal conditions by way of giving even more leeway to national movements.” The creators of the USSR seemed to imagine it as a prison for the Russian people where the Russian people were serving a sentence for the Russian Empire, officially dubbed “the prison of nations”.

Fortunately, even this affirmative action internationalism had its limitations. The Bolshevik leadership ostracised and annihilated the group of Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev, a Tatar nationalist who championed the separation of a Tatar-Bashkir-Chuvash state from the RSFSR, “with rights equal to those of the Ukraine”, and creating a Turan Republic in Central Asia. Sultan-Galiev’s rationale for those projects was that they were “terrible for Russian nationalism but harmless for the Revolution.” In this particular case, geopolitical reasons and the principle of state unity prevailed over the strictures of Bolshevik doctrine.

red-turanian

Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev, ideologue of the Red Turan.

The revolution and civil war divided the Russians into Reds and White, the latter forced into emigration. Numerically the White émigrés were incomparable to the Russians that had remained in the Motherland; the breakup was more along educational and social lines. Russia was deprived of most of its bourgeoisie, officers, intelligentsia, and clergy. The Russian culture broke into three parts: émigré, official Soviet, and “forcefully Soviet” (paying only lip service to the conditions imposed by the Soviet régime).

philosopher-ship

The philosophers’ ship.

A Nation on the Brink of Liquidation

Of course, the ideological thought of the Russian intelligentsia kept working on restoring national unity, building bridges between the sundered Russian world. Popular both in Soviet Russia and among émigrés, the ideology of the Smenovekhovtsy called for all patriots to work for the USSR, seeing it not as a Communist tyranny but a common Motherland, a homeland of the Russian nation, while awaiting a gradual national transformation, a Russification of Bolshevism. This ideology kept most Russian intellectuals and specialists from emigrating and supported their desire to work for the Motherland while waiting for better times to come. As a result, Russia kept within its Soviet borders a critical mass of people with a developed national awareness.

Among the peasantry, still forming the majority of the nation, conformism with regards to the Soviet system was intertwined with economic pragmatism: the Soviets solved the question of land ownership and slowly unfolded development programmes in the countryside. As a result, the peasants were lukewarm regarding the gradual erosion of national culture and church tradition, especially given that the foundations of country lifestyle remained largely the same.

tambov-rebellion

Participants of the Tambov Rebellion.

The Bolshevik onslaught against the peasantry was repelled by an acrimonious civil war that the Soviets had to endure after having defeated the Whites. Nominally, the Kronstadt, Tambov, and Don rebellions were crushed, and the 1921-23 famine decimated Russian peasantry, but in fact the Communist assault against the country was frozen for almost a decade. Revolutionary upheavals were mostly limited to urban areas.

Nevertheless, in 1928-32 the Soviets dealt a terrible blow both to the traditional peasant lifestyle and Russian national consciousness, preserved by the Smenovekhovtsy intelligentsia. The collectivisation wrecked the traditional life of the Russian countryside and started the machinery of repression and population transfer (both forceful and voluntary). The 1932-33 famine stroke a second demographic blow after the one in 1921-23 to the Russian peasantry. The excess mortality index in Southwestern Russia (Ukraine), the Volga region, and North Caucasus oscillated between 2.6 and 3.2 over the normal. The largest depopulation occurred in Krasnodar and Stavropol krais, as well as Donetsk, Lugansk, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, and Zaporozhye oblasts – meaning that the so-called Holodomor was thrust mainly against Novorossiya.

exile-of-kulaks

Exile of the Kulaks.

Anti-clerical policies, enacted right after the revolution, intensified during the “Godless Five Years”, which saw mass closure and demolishment of churches and mass executions of priesthood. For most of the Russian population, the road to traditional church life was severed.

At the same time, a campaign of elimination targeted the Smenovekhovtsy intellectuals. A series of show trials (“Academy Affair”, “Vesna affair”, “Slavic Studies Affair”, the Industrial Party and Peasant Labour Party trials) all but stamped out the milieu of non-Communist academics, intellectuals, and specialists who collaborated with the Soviets out of national and patriotic sentiment.

monument-nakhimov-removal

Removal of the Monument to Nakhimov in Sevastopol, 1928.

The 1920s and the 1930s were the apex of anti-Russian propaganda with Bolshevik slogans. Pravda published doggerel like the following: “Russia! Are you through? Are you gone? Have you croaked at last? Well, good riddance to you, as you didn’t live but only kept moaning in a dark and narrow hut”. In 1928, a monument to Admiral Pavel Nakhimov was torn down in Sevastopol for being offensive to Turkish sailors that entered the seaport. In 1932, the Narkompros [education ministry] ordered a monument to General Nikolay Raevsky on the Borodino battlefield to be turned into scrap metal, claiming it was “devoid of any historical or artistic value”.

This practice of historical nihilism and systematic humiliation of Russian national sentiment had its theoretical foundations in Nikolay Pokrovsky’s school of historiography that treated the entirety of Russian history as that of a “prison of nations” and painted national heroes as flunkies of the Tsars and bourgeois capital. By 1933, the Russian nation as a community joined by common memory, traditions, and cultural practices stood on the brink of destruction, ravaged by both ideological denationalisation and economic collectivisation brought about by Communism.

nevsky

A Forced National Revival

The right-wing swerve of capitalist Europe after the rise of the Nazi Party forced the Communists to review their policies. It became impossible to ignore the national factor in foreign affairs with the same ease as they did within the country.

The Soviets start employing Russianness not only to describe the internationalist duty of the “nation of bullies”, not only as the idea of Russians as a vanguard revolutionary nation, but while appealing to Russian cultural and historical tradition. This tradition was no longer seen as a purely negative factor or something to be outlived. The era of “Let’s melt down Minin and Pozharsky”[1] doggerel was over. Stalin himself voiced a demand for “a Bolshevik Ilovaysky” (pre-revolutionary history manuals written by Dmitry Ilovaysky were a byword for ultraconservative nationalist historiography). The Pokrovsky school was subjected to an ideological interdiction. A series of films and books came out, glorifying the national heroes of the past – Alexander Nevsky, Minin and Pozharsky, Suvorov and Kutuzov. A symbolic watershed came in November 1936 with a well-orchestrated critical savaging of Tairov’s opera The Bogatyrs, with a thoroughly Russophobic libretto by Demyan Bedny.

Of even greater importance that changes in the rarified heights of political atmosphere were the decision to curtail the korenizatsiya in Soviet republics and autonomies, and switching all national alphabets to Cyrillic (even more surprising given that the Latinisation of Russian script was discussed in earnest in the earlier 1930s). All schools faced more stringent requirements for compulsory Russian teaching.

However, this ideological renovation did not mean an end to Soviet internationalist aggression against the Russians. The dismemberment of Russian national territory continued into the 1930s. In 1936, to coincide with the new Soviet constitution, a Kyrgyz and a Kazakh Soviet Republic were carved out of the RSFSR, and the authors of ideologically approved official histories of those republics emphasised colonial oppression in Imperial times.

A new wave of repression in 1937-38 dealt a new blow to the Russian. The purges targeted not only Communist apparatchiks but also clergy, military specialists, and intelligentsia, deemed “ideologically hazardous” for this or that reason. Russian culture was robbed of dozens of great scientists, thinkers, and writers.

plakat-slava

The Great War

The Great Patriotic War was the time of unthinkable trials for the Russian people. Hitler’s aggression saw as its end the complete destruction of Russian statehood, the dismemberment of the country, and its breakup along ethnic lines. The war was waged to destroy the Russians, not the Soviets, and Nazi policies were based on a complete disdain for Russian cultural heritage (“all and any cultural values in the East do not matter”, said the infamous order signed by Walther von Reichenau), as well as for civilian lives (e.g., the mass starvation of Leningrad citizens was planned regardless of whether the city surrendered or not).

It is not surprising that the war triggered a rapid national upsurge, a development of Russian patriotism that called for victory over the invaders. The great Russian thinker Ivan Ilyin noted in a wartime article written for the Swiss press that “the further the war extended in time and space, the more noticeable was the Russian instinct of self-preservation, the greater was the resolve of the Russians to repel the enemy, the more the warring masses subjected themselves to the discipline of the national High Command while ignoring the Communist régime…”

Ilyin also claimed that “the collective memory of the First World War, where Russia’s desertion led to a terrible 25-year long retribution, led to the thought that this new war had to be loyally fought to the end.” That is why the level of active collaborationism was much lower than Hitler’s analysts expected based on the pre-war anti-Russian policies of the Soviets. Pro-Nazi collaborationism “in the name of the Russian people” was the province of numerically insignificant groups.

The war took a terrible toll on the Russians, bringing untold grief, gigantic demographic losses (a third demographic collapse in 30 years), and untold destruction. At the same time, the Russians restored their self-awareness as a great nation with a unique historical mission. The self-awareness as a nation of victors, cemented in wartime propaganda, became a part for millions of people a part of their personal consciousness. The word “Russian” reached a worldwide prestige rarely seen in Imperial times.

It seemed that the USSR would turn to a national/imperial model with a clear Russian dominance. This idea even dawned upon several high-ranking RSFSR apparatchiks. A noticeable change was the expansion of the Russian habitat after a long period of shrinkage. The newly annexed East Prussia, Southern Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands were settled almost exclusively with ethnic Russians. These lands became core Russian territories, largely against the grain of Stalin’s plans for using East Prussia as a bargaining chip in a gamble for “a unified neutral Germany”. Essentially, Kaliningrad was claimed for the Russians thanks to Konrad Adenauer’s recalcitrance; the West German chancellor saw Germany only as a part of the Western bloc.

However, the consequences of deportations in the North Caucasus and Crimea were much more dramatic for the Russians. The regions became almost exclusively Russian, but the rehabilitation and return of the deported ethnic groups led to inter-ethnic conflict, terrorism, and anti-Russian pogroms. Even during this period, the interest of Russians weren’t always put first – e.g., the request of Carpathian Ruthenian representatives to annex their land to the Russian (as opposed to Ukrainian) Soviet republic was declined.

The effect of annexing Western Ukraine to the Ukrainian SSR proved to be quite dubious. The Soviets spent more than a decade on suppressing Banderite terror gangs, but even after that Galicia kept contaminating the rest of the republic with the most radical strain of Ukrainian nationalism, founded upon a zoological hatred of the “Moskals”. By the end of the 1980s, that ideology had infested most of the Ukrainian SSR population, Ukrainised in the Soviet manner, and gave fruit that were more and more anti-Russian in nature.

patriarch-alexey-1945

Election of the Patriarch Alexey I (Simansky) in 1945.

An important part of the patriotic swerve was a partial rapprochement between Soviet régime and the Russian Orthodox Church. The traditional hierarchy with the Patriarch at the head was restored, the schism of the Living Church[2] liquidated, most of the country gained access to Orthodox sacraments and rituals, and thus to ages-old Russian cultural milieu. Orthodoxy was largely restored as a part of the vision of Russian identity.

Regardless of its ideological intent, the post-war educational revolution had enormous repercussions for the Russians. A multitude of new colleges gave a higher or specialised education to most young men and women, while most schools attempted to emulate pre-revolutionary classical gymnasia, even if only in look and feel. However, it should be kept in mind that, for the entirety of post-war Stalin’s rule, college education in the country of triumphant socialism was not free but paid.

***

[1] An infamous poem by Soviet poet Dzhek Altauzen (1907 – 1942), referring the monument to in the Red Square commonly seen as an iconic symbol of Russian patriotism.

[2] A schism in the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1920s-40s that called for a “modernisation” of church doctrine and rituals along Marxist lines and collaborated with the Soviets.

 
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

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

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

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