The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>
Topics/Categories Filter?
Blogging China Core Article Corruption Crime Democracy Demography Economics Economy Elections Foreign Policy Futurism Geopolitics Georgia History Human Biodiversity Human Rights Humor Ideology International Comparisons International Relations IQ Liberal Opposition Military Miscellaneous Moscow Open Thread Opinion Poll Politics Psychometrics Putin Race/Ethnicity Russia Russian Media Russophobes Science Society Soviet Union Translations UK Ukraine United States USA Western Hypocrisy Western Media 2008-south-ossetia-war 2010 Census 2012 US Elections 2016 Election 9/11 Abortion Academia Admin Administration AdminRR Aesthetics Affirmative Action Afghanistan Africa Age Of Malthusian Industrialism Aging Agriculture AGW Denial Ahmadinejad AIDS Airborne Laser Aircraft Carriers Airports Al Gore Al Jazeera Al-Qaeda Alcohol Alcoholism Alexander Hamilton Alexander Mercouris Alexei Kudrin Alexei Navalny Alpha Males Alt Left Alt Right Altruism Amazon American Media Anarchism Anatoly Karlin Ancestral Health Ancestry Ancient Near East Andrei Korotayev Anglo-Saxons Animal IQ Anthropology Anti-Semitism Antifa Apocalypse Apollo's Ascent Arab Spring Arabs ARCS Of Progress Arctic Arctic Civilization Arctic Methane Release Arctic Resources Arctic Sea Ice Melting Argentina Armenia Army Arseny Yatsenyuk Art Arthur H. Smith Arthur Jensen Artificial Intelligence Asabiya Asian Americans Assad Assange Assassinations Aubrey De Grey Australia Austria authoritarianism Automation Azerbaijan Bahrain Balkans Baltics Bangladeshis Barbarians Bashar Al-Assad Beer Belarus Belgium Berezovsky Berkeley Beta Males Big History BigPost Billionaires Black Crime Blacks Bolivarian Revolution Bolshevik Revolution Books Boris Berezovsky Boris Nemtsov Brahmans Brazil Brexit Brezhnev BRICs Brighter Brains Britain British Politics Business California Calisthenics Cambodia Campus Rape Canada Capitalism Cars Cartoon Catalonia Caucasus CCTV CEC Cell Phones Censorship Central Asia Charles Murray Charlie Hebdo Charlottesville Checheniest Chechen Of Them All Chechens Chechnya Chess china-russia-relations Chinese Communist Party Chinese Economy Chinese History Chinese IQ Chinese Language Chinese People Christian Fundamentalism Christianity Christmas Chuck Schumer CIA Civil Liberties Civil War Civilization Clannishness Clans Class Class Warfare Climate Climate Change Cliodynamics CNN CO2 Emissions Coal Cognitive Elitism Cold War collapse Collapse Party Colmar Von Der Goltz Colombia Colonialism Color Revolution Communism Confucianism Marriage Consanguinity Consciousness Conservatism Conspiracy Theories Constantinople Convergence Copenhagen Summit Corruption Perceptions Index Cousin Marriage Crimea Crimean Tatars Crisis Crispr Cuba Cuckoldry Cultural Marxism Culture Cyprus Czech Republic Dark Ages Dark Lord Of The Kremlin David Frum David Moser Davide Piffer Death Death Penalty Demographic Transition Demographics Demoscope Development Diabetes Dick Cheney Digital Philosophy discussion Dissent Dmitry Medvedev Domestication Donald Trump Dostoevsky Drones Drought Drugs Dubai Dysgenic Dzhokhar Tsarnaev E-books Earth Day East Asian Exception East Asians Eastern Europe Economic History Economic Sanctions Economic Theory Economist Democracy Index Ecuador Education Edward Snowden Effective Altruism Egor Kholmogorov Egor Prosvirnin Egypt Elites Emigration Emmanuel Macron EMP Weapons Enemy Belligerent Act Of 2010 Energy Entertainment Environment EROEI Espionage Ester Boserup Estonia Ethiopia EU Eugenics Eurabia Eurasia Europe European History European Right European Union Eurovision Evolution Existential Risks Face Recognition Facebook Fake News False Flag Attack falsifiable-predictions Family Family Systems Fantasy Far Abroad Fascism fat-diets FBI FEL Weapons FEMEN Feminism Fertility fertility-rate Fertility Rates Film Finance Financial Crisis Financial Times Finland Fluctuarius Argenteus Flynn Effect Food Football Forecasts Foreign Policy Fossil Fuels France Francis Fukuyama Freakonomics Free Speech Free Trade Freedom Of Speech Freedom Friedrich List Fundamentalists Gail The Actuary Game Game Of Thrones Game Theory Gay Marriage Gaza Flotilla Raid Gender Relations General Intelligence Genetic Engineering Genetic Load Genetics Genocide Genomics Geoengineering Geography George Bush George Friedman George Kennan George Soros George Will Gérard Depardieu Germans Germany Glenn Greenwald Global Warming Globalization GMD Gold Goldman Sachs Google Graham Turner grains Graphs Great Depression Great Powers Greece Greeks Green Green Party USA Greenland Gregory Clark Guantanamo Guardian Guardian Censorship Guest Guns Hacking Haiti Half Sigma Hank Pellissier Hanzi Happiness Hashemi Rafsanjani Hate Speech HBDchick Health Health And Medicine Healthcare Hezbollah Hillary Clinton Himachal Pradesh Hindu Caste System Hispanics Hist kai History Of Science Hitler Holidays Holocaust Homicide Homicide Rate homicides Homosexuality Hong Kong Horses Housing HplusNRx Hubbert's Peak Huey Long Human Achievement human-capital Hungary Hypocrisy I.Q. Genomics Ibn Khaldun ICBMs Ice Age Iceland Ideologies Idiocracy Igor Strelkov Illegal Immigration IMF immigrants Immigration Imperialism Inbreeding incarceration-rate India Indian Economy Indian IQ Indians Indonesia industrialization Inequality Inequality Inflation Infrastructure inosmi Intellectual Property Intelligence Internet interview Interviews Invade The World Invite The World Iosef Stalin Iosif Stalin IPCC Iq And Wealth Iran Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program Iraq Ireland ISIS Islam Islam Islamic State Islamism Islamist-liberal Alliance Islamophobia Israel Israel Lobby IT Italy Ivan Bloch James Cameron James Kunstler James Lovelock James Watson Japan Jared Diamond Jeb Bush Jennifer Rubin Jews Jezebel Jim O'neill Joe Biden Joe Lieberman John Derbyshire John Durant John Kerry John McCain John Michael Greer John Yoo Jorge Luis Borges Joseph Tainter Journalism Julia Ioffe Julian Assange Junta Kant Karlinism Kazakhstan Kenneth Pomeranz Khamenei khodorkovsky Kindle Kompromat konstantin-von-eggert Korean Cuisine Koreans Kremlin Clans kremlinology Ksenia Sobchak Kyrgyzstan la-russophobe Lactose Intolerance Laissez-faire Language Languages Latin America Latvia Law Law Lazy Glossophiliac Learning Lee Kuan Yew Leisure Lenin levada Levada Center LGBT Liberalism Liberia Libertarianism Libya Life life-expectancy Limits To Growth limp-wristed-liberals Linguistics Literacy Literature Lithuania Living Standards LNG Lobbying london Longevity luke-harding Mali Malnutrition Malthus Malthusian Loop Malthusianism Manufacturing Maoism Map maps Margaret Thatcher Marine Le Pen mark-adomanis Markets Marxism Masculinity Massive Ordnance Penetrator Mathematics Matriarchy Matt Forney Max Weber May Day me Meat Media Medicine Medvedev Meme Mercenaries Mexico Michael Weiss Middle Ages Middle East Migration Milan Kundera Militarization Military Analysis Military History Military Porn Military Spending Military Technology Millionaires Minorities Mistral Mitt Romney Moldova Moltke The Elder Monarchy Money Mormonism Morocco Mortality Moscow Mayoral Election 2013 Muammar Gaddafi Music Muslims Myanmar NAMs Nationalism NATO Natural Gas navalny Navalny Affair Nazism NCVS Neandertals Near Abroad Neo-Nazis Neocons Neoreaction Netherlands Neuroscience New Cold War New York New York Times news-2008 ngos Niall Ferguson Nick Bostrom Nick Eberstadt Nigeria Nirvana Nobel Prize Norman Finkelstein North Korea Norway Novorossiya Novorossiya Sitrep Nuclear Nuclear Energy Nuclear Power Nuclear War Nuclear Weapons Nutrition NYT Obama Obesity Obituary Occupy Occupy Wall Street Odessa Oil oligarchs Open Access open-discussion Opposition Orban orientalism Orinoco Belt Orissa Orthodoxy Osama Bin Laden Pakistan Diet Paleolithic Palestine Panama Papers Panhandling Paper Review Paris Attacks Pastoralism Pat Buchanan Patriot Missiles Patriotism Paul Chefurka Paul Krugman Pavel Grudinin Pax Americana PDVSA Peak Oil Pedophilia People's Liberation Army Peru Peter Turchin Philosophy Philosophy Pigs PIRLS PISA PLAN Podcast Poetry Poland Polar Regions Police Political Correctness Political Economy Poll Polls Polygamy Population Growth Population Replacement Poroshenko Portugal Poverty Power Prediction Privacy Productivity Programming Projects Propaganda Protectionism protest Protestantism protests Psychology Public Health pussy-riot Putin Derangement Syndrome Putinsliv Qatar Quantitative Genetics Race And Crime Race/IQ race-realism Racism Rape Rationality Ray Kurzweil Razib Khan R&D Reading Real Estate RealWorld Regions Religion Republicans Review Revolutions RFERL RIA Novosti Richard Lynn rise-of-the-rest Robert Ayres Robert Kagan Robert Lindsay Robert Stark Roman Empire Romance Romanticism Ron Paul Ron Unz RossPress RT International RTS Stock Market Russia Debate Russia-Germany Relations Russiagate russian-cuisine Russian Demography Russian Economy Russian Elections 2018 Russian Far East Russian History Russian Jews Russian Military Russian Nationalism Russian Occupation Government Russian Orthodox Church Russian Politics Russian Reaction Russian Society Russians RussPol Saakashvili Saint-Petersburg San Francisco Sarah Palin Saudi Arabia Scandinavia Schlieffen Plan schools Schopenhauer Sci-Fi Science Fiction Scotland Secession Senegal Serbia Sergey Brin sergey-magnitsky Sergey Nefedov sergey-zhuravlev Sex Sex Differences Sex Ratio Shanghai Siberia Silicon Valley Singapore Singularity Sisyphean Loop SJWs Slavery Slavery Reparations Slavoj Zizek SLBMs Sleep SM-3 sobornost Social Evolution Social Media Socialism Sociobiology Sociology Solzhenitsyn Songun South Africa South Korea Debt Soviet History Space space-based-solar-power Space Exploration Spain Speech SPLC Sport stalin Statistics Stephen Wolfram Stereotypes Steve Bannon Steve Sailer Steven Pinker Strait Of Hormuz String Of Pearls Sublime Oblivion Suicide Supercomputers Superintelligence Surveillance Survivalism Svidomy Sweden Switzerland Syria Syrian Civil War systems-modeling Taiwan Tajikistan Tamerlan Tsarnaev Tamil Nadu Tar Sands Taxes Technology Terrorism THAAD Thailand The AK The Bell Curve The Bible The Economist The Guardian The Lancet The Matrix The Oil Drum The Russian Spectrum The Saker The Sublime Thermoeconomics Tibet Tim Ferriss TIMSS War Trade Transhumanism Translation transparency-international Travel Trayvon Martin Treason Triggering Trolling Trump Trump Derangement Syndrome Trust Tsarist Russia Turkey Twitter UAE UAVs UC Berkeley Ugo Bardi UKIP Ukrainian Crisis Politics UN Unemployment United Kingdom Universal Basic Income Universities Urbanization US Blacks US Civil War II US Elections 2016 US Foreign Policy US Navy US Politics US-Russia.org Expert Discussion Panel us-russia-relations Uzbekistan vegetarianism Vekhi Velayat-e Faqih Venezuela Video Video Games Vietnam Viktor Yushchenko Vladimir Putin Vladimir Zhirinovsky Vote Fraud Wall Street War War In Donbass wealth-creation Welfare White Americans Whites Wikileaks Willem Buiter william-burns William Catton Winston Churchill Women Womyn's Studies WORDSUM World Health Organization World Values Survey World War I World War II World War III Writing WSJ WTF Xi Jinping Yale Yemen yulia-latynina Zimbabwe Zombies Zoology
Nothing found
 TeasersRussian Reaction Blog

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New Reply
🔊 Listen RSS

Either Iran fulfills the following, or it gets the “strongest sanctions in history”:

us-iran-demands

Since this is two more demands than the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia in 1914, and they are in principle unfulfillable anyway, why not go the full hog and make some further additions:

  • Convert to Evangelical Christianity
  • Host a gay pride parade in Tehran
  • Accept Eritrean refugees from Israel

In other news, things have again been heating up in the Donbass, with an important bridge that lies on the main non-frontline road between Lugansk and Donetsk getting blown up by what were presumably Ukrainian special forces. At the start of this year, I said that if the Ukraine is to try for its version of Operation Storm, it would be best to do it on the eve of FIFA World Cup 2018.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Economic Sanctions, Iran, United States 
🔊 Listen RSS

The blogger Audacious Epigone has done yeoman’s work over the past couple of years documenting the surprising “basedness” of Generation Z(yklon).

With the collapse of the Alt Right and Trump turning out to be a damp squib, it might well be that Gen Z is the last best hope for America to remain a somewhat American country.

Not great that we’re essentially down to wagering on demographics, given that the usual narratives portend things such as a Blue Texas by the 2020s, but there you go.

Here is a selection of Anepigone’s classic articles on Gen Z:

Collection of the more interesting graphs:

Assuming that Generation Zyklon shitlords will be able to withstand SJW brainwashing in the modern college madrassas, this would overturn the conventional wisdom and and ensure Republican hegemony for a few more decades, at least until the population goes majority non-White by mid-century.

In the meantime, this would give future President Thorfinnsson time to engineer permanent white supremacy into the Constitution.

What do you think?

Does Generation Z have potential to rejuvenate America and atomically blast spaceships into space, or is this just a desert mirage imagined by citizens of a doomed civilization?

PS. Why Generation Zyklon?

Zyklon* is intentionally provocative, but it’s also intentionally ambiguous. In a way, it’s perfectly suitable for Gen Z. Zyklon was originally used as a pesticide beginning in the 1880s. It wasn’t modified for use as a weapon against humans until WWI, and then most infamously by Germany in WWII.

Gen Z may lead the way to an occidental renaissance, or it may be the generation that sees the West finally burned to the ground in a civilizational bloodletting that puts the wars of the 20th century to shame. The Derb and Brimelow respectively gesture towards each potential extreme.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Alt Right, Demographics, United States 
🔊 Listen RSS

world-IQ-map-becker-2018

Mankind’s IQ is 84-88. Becker May 2018 update.

Belorussia has long been a blank spot on the world IQ maps (and when it was not so, its results were based on the average of Ukraine, Russia, and Lithuania’s scores).

However, in David Becker’s latest world IQ update, there finally appeared a concrete estimate of Belorussian IQ:

  • Lynn, R., Gospodarik, E., Salahodjaev, R. & Omanbayev, B. A Standardization of Raven’s SPM+ in Belarus. Mankind Quarterly

I don’t think it has been published yet – at least, it’s not in the MQ archives – but a friend kindly provided me a preprint.

In the case of Belarus, a provisional IQ of 95.1 was estimated as the average of the measured IQs of Russia (96.5) to the north-east, Lithuania (94.6) to the west and Ukraine (94.3) to the south (Lynn and Vanhanen, 2012, pp 19-30). … The Standard Progressive Matrices Plus (SPM+) was administered in early 2017 to a sample of 397 13 to 15-year-olds (203 boys and 175 girls) with a mean age of 14.0 years. … The mean score of the boys was 33.6 (SD = 5.8) and mean score of the girls was 33.9 (SD = 5.7). This difference is not statistically significant. The average of the boys and girls is 33.75 and this represents a British IQ of 97.5 on the the British standardization norms for those aged 14.0 given in Raven (2008).

I am personally quite happy with this development, because I have long maintained that Belorussians are about as bright, if not slightly brighter, than Great Russians, and considerably brighter than Ukrainians.

This is accompanied by the footnote that some Great Russians are very bright (e.g. Yaroslavl, leaving aside the Moscow/SPB cognitive clusters) while other Great Russians are quite dull (Irkutsk/Zabaykal, the Kuban).

My reasons for believing this:

  • Has had more post-Soviet economic success than Russia, let alone the Ukraine, despite having no significant natural resources apart from gas pipeline rents.
  • Has accomplished this while preserving widespread state ownership. Even so, it does well on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, suggesting intelligent, technocratic policy-making (Lukashenko’s escapades regardless).
  • Belorussia is more socially liberal than Russia or the Ukraine (the latter despite intensive State Department propaganda).
  • Belorussia also has has higher trust than Russia or the Ukraine.
  • The BSSR was the only Soviet republic apart from the RSFSR that was a net donor to the Soviet budget.
  • Belorussia has had a reputation for producing high quality manufactured products since at least the era of the late USSR, including optical sights and furniture.

Here’s what I wrote about the Belorussians in my comprehensive survey of Russian IQ for Sputnik & Pogrom:

Nobody has yet directly measured Belorussian IQ, nor did they participate in PISA or TIMSS/PIRLS. But we can assume they are comparable to the results from Central Russia. Despite the huge role of the state in the economy and European sanctions, their GDP per capita (PPP) is more than twice as high as that of the Ukrainians. Strangely enough, Belorussians are more “European” in their views than both Russians and Ukrainians: More trusting, less religious, and even more approving of gay marriage, despite the purely ritualistic gay pride parades through the streets of Kiev. Leaving aside any moral judgments, all these positions are associated with higher IQ.

Fortunately, Ukraine and Belarus have finally decided to participate in the next round of PISA, so after December 2019 we will finally have concrete data.

Now n=397 isn’t of course the best sample, but it’s better than nothing, and suggests that my intuitions on this matter were trending in the right direction. But we’ll see come 2019.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Belarus, IQ, Psychometrics 
🔊 Listen RSS

666D Checkers, Clever Plan Overclock, Mnogokhodovka Immanentized, etc.

ollie-richardson

mnogokhodovka-definition

 
• Category: Humor • Tags: Russia, WTF 
🔊 Listen RSS

On May 6, there was a big free speech march through Central London jointly organized by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance and Veterans Against Terrorism.

Many of the big names in the British Alt Lite were attending, so I decided to show up myself. (I appear in the sidelines a few times in this video of the march).

The march began at Speakers Corner in Hyde Park, a traditional meeting point for dissidents, preachers, and assorted ranting weirdos, went through central London, and culminated at the entrance to Downing Street.

I estimate turnout at 1,000-2,000 initially, swelling to 5,000 at the end. There were at least a couple of hundred police officers watching over the event. What I found interesting was that all of the “enforcement” was done by the event organizers. For instance, the police didn’t want the marchers to occupy the pavement, and so the event organizers would bark at rally participants to keep on the main thoroughfare whenever they strayed off. This is a huge contrast with Russian protest marchers, whose liberal organizers tend to be unremittingly hostile to and dismissive of the police.

Demographics:

  • Main component were white men, muscular-fat, tattooed prole types, the sort you associate with football hooligans;
  • Some lankier, muscular men with fashy haircuts;
  • The women were almost all prole whites – tend to lean on the pudgy side, lots of tattoos, fake tans;
  • Smattering of Based Black Guys (no women);
  • Foreigners: Americans in MAGA hats, tons of Poles, Mediterraneans, a few Israelis;
  • No Muslims.

Towards the end of the march, a number of people gave short speeches about Islam and freedom of speech.

First guy referred to a Belfast preacher who was charged with hate crimes for criticizing Islam, and then he quoted him directly, e.g. “Islam is a Satanic religion!”, and eliciting massive cheers. Clever way of avoiding hate charges yourself. Just quote other people.

Second guy was some comedian, who condemned Islam because… erm, Kuwaiti women aren’t allowed to get their tits out. (sic). Also “what about all the gay Muslims?”

Third guy was Gerard Batten, current head of UKIP. Boring, don’t recall what he said.

Fourth gal was Anne Marie Waters, head of For Britain. She had the best speech IMO, she’s a great rabble-rouser.

Fifth and last up the stage was Tommy Robinson, who was very much forgettable.

Well, apart from the finale, when he welcomed a drag queen to sing up the stage to prove that New Labour are the real transphobes.

Overall, it’s hard to remain optimistic about the prospects for British nationalism. They managed to bring out a total of about 5,000 people in the capital city on a sunny Sunday, and not even in the name of nationalism as such, but in the name of free speech – or more specifically, the right to make fun of Muslims without going to jail or getting kicked off Twitter. Which is also a laudable goal, but it isn’t quite the same thing.

Compare and contrast with the march of 100,000 nationalists in Warsaw, Poland earlier this year which didn’t end in them collectively cucking to a tranny.

***

london-march-1

Police began to gather early.

london-march-20

There were some antifa, but they didn’t try to disrupt the rally, probably because of the heavy police presence.

london-march-19

Facebook and Twitter censorship against Alt Right voices were a big issue. Note Based Black Guy on the left.

london-march-18

The Chad Preacher: “The Bible guarantees free speech, not the Koran.”

london-march-17

Vegans.

london-march-16

Random based britbong: “Not a commie maggot in sight.”

london-march-15

Based Thot.

london-march-14

Based Black Guy.

london-march-13

Literal AngloZionists. :)

london-march-12

Leaving Hyde Park.

london-march-11

Unironically based Brit.

london-march-10

Britbong biker gang… quaint if underwhelming.

london-march-9

Shepherding deplorables off the sidewalks.

london-march-8

london-march-7

There were probably around 5,000 people in attendance, which is around the size of your average Navalny rally. But unlike the latter, nationalist protests are never going to make top of /r/worldnews.

london-march-6

Speeches in front of Downing Street.

london-march-5

Based Fedora Guy.

london-march-4

March no further.

london-march-3

Anne Marie Waters.

london-march-2

The end.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Alt Right, Free Speech, The AK, Travel, United Kingdom 
🔊 Listen RSS

The key problem isn’t Washington DC’s direct sanctions – Russia’s trade with the US is small, any restrictions can be easily substituted for or retaliated against, while harsher measures would require an unrealistic degree of international cooperation to be effective.

As I have written, the main problem is American secondary sanctions:

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 appears that Russia is going to legislatively call America’s bluff in the following days. The proposed new laws, which enjoy support from the government and all the main political parties, will:

  1. Impose fines (~$10,000)/prison time (up to 4 years) on individuals and entities who support Western sanctions by refusing to do business with Russian citizens or entities on America’s SDN list.
  2. Impose fines (~$8,000)/prison time (up to 3 years) bans Russian citizens from directly promoting Western sanctions, such as “providing recommendations and sharing information.”

We are currently living in a strange, limbo-like situation where questioning the Crimea’s status as a part of Russia can be qualified as “separatism”, with several people getting prosecuted for doing so, while Sberbank – Russia’s largest, majority state-owned bank – refuses to open branches in the peninsula. With this legislation, Herman Gref’s lawyers – who say they cannot think of a scheme that will enable Sberbank to operate in Crimea without incurring sanctions – will now have to think harder.

As Egor Kholmogorov writes, Russia will now essentially be telling its “offshore patriots” to make a choice between Russia or the Washington Obkom.

Henceforth, there will be real costs associated with enforcing Uncle Sam’s Diktat on sovereign Russian territory.

I would also note perhaps an even more important element of the law is that it will soon force the US to clarify its intentions. If masses of Russian and even some heavily Russia-invested foreign companies start ignoring its secondary sanctions en masse, it will have to decide between turning a blind eye to them, or start serious moves to economically isolate it.

In the former case, the credibility of US secondary sanctions will start collapsing, in addition annulling much of the costs of the risk-related costs of doing business in Russia. This will even have some spillover effects to other countries sanctioned by the US (you’re welcome, Iranians).

In the latter case, the US will have made Russia’s impending choice between capitulation and autarky for it, which would be politically more tolerable.

The timing also could not have been better, what with Washington DC’s secondary sanctions against Iran exciting unusually forthwith protests from Germany and France. Like Alexander Mercouris, I do expect the Europeans to fold, because the United States remains a much more important economic partner than Iran, and in any case the Baltics and Poland can be relied upon to scuttle any EU-wide initiative. Nonetheless, a line has to be drawn in the sand sooner rather than later, and now is as good a time to do it as any.

The second part of the law banning Russian citizens from promoting Western sanctions has elicited squeals of protest from the Russian opposition. These are entirely self-interested. They couldn’t care less when Russians go to jail on the flimsiest “hate” charges – indeed, the “nationalist” Navalny himself was instrumental in getting Tesak locked up under Article 282, and many liberals such as Ksenia Sobchak want to extend anti-free speech laws to also cover pro-Stalinist sentiment.

But boy do they fall into an apoplectic fit when one of their favorite activities – submitting lists of their domestic political enemies to the Washington Obkom for sanctioning – is on the verge of getting criminalized.

Navalny helped the EU compile sanctions on the people who made Crimea’s return to Russia possible in 2014. A year later, he submitted a list of Russian bureaucrats he believed should be sanctioned to the FT, many of whom were indeed later sanctioned by the West. Also in 2015, professional oppositionists Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Kara-Murza traveled to the US to lobby Congress into putting Russian journalists – “propagandists” – on a no entry list for insufficiently fawning coverage of Boris Nemtsov, a famous but politically irrelevant opposition politician who had been recently murdered in Moscow.

Now all these people will face criminal liability for such activities.

The best part is that there are already good precedents for that in the “city on the hill” that the liberals look up to and worship. There is a bipartisan consensus in the US to effectively do away with the First Amendment in order to… criminalize not just participation in, but the mere advocacy of BDS with respect to Israel. This even extends to illegalizing speech that promotes boycotts on goods and services produced by Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

Speaking for myself, I condemn all attempts to stifle free speech.

However, if some speech absolutely has to be stifled, it seems to me that Americans doing so for the benefit of Israel is sadder than Russians doing it for the benefit of Russia.

PS. One more confirmation (if any are still needed) that Russia isn’t planning on folding is that the rumors spread by someone that the former liberal Finance Minister Alexey Kudrin was going to be appointed to a senior post in the Russian government have been completely discredited. He has instead been appointed to be head of the National Audit Office, which is perhaps more humiliating than ignoring him entirely.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Economic Sanctions, Russia, United States 
🔊 Listen RSS

Map of the biggest airports in Russia and the ex-USSR by 2017 passenger traffic including transit flights.

map-russia-airports-2017

Source: Seva Bashirov

Moscow is clearly a central node, accounting for 89 million passengers in 2017 – up from just 19 million in 2001, near the trough of the post-Soviet collapse.

airports-london-moscow Incidentally, this makes Moscow the world’s 13th biggest city airport system (London is first, with 171 million), having risen up from obscurity in the 1990s (see comparison right).

Growth continues to be vigorous into 2018 – as of this month, there are double-digit percentage increases in passenger traffic relative to the same period last year. [you can follow the stats here, in Russian]

Regional cities remain small fry – a function of their much smaller size (Moscow is 10x as big as any other Russian city other than SPB), less economic potential, and lower transit percentage (in Moscow its at 37%, and accounts for a large percentage of China-Europe flights; indeed, Chinese appears as often as English on signs at Sheremetyevo). However, they are now showing even more vigorous growth than Moscow.

In the past five years, by far the largest increase occurred in Simferopol, Crimea’s main airport, which saw 5.1 million passengers in 2017, versus 1.2 million in 2013. What mainly happened is that the prior Ukrainian tourists coming in by road were replaced by higher-spending Russians flying in.

The picture outside Russia is bleaker. Kiev gets 3x fewer passengers per capita than Moscow; Ukraine’s millionik cities (Kharkov, Kiev, Odessa, Lvov) get 3-5 times fewer passengers per capita than similarly sized regional Russian cities. For obvious reasons, Donetsk Airport is inoperative. However, this also implies room for rapid growth. While passenger traffic in Russia is currently increasing at around 10% per annum, in the Ukraine it’s more like 30% per annum.

The higher than expected figures for Riga and Kishinev are probably on account of them being popular transit nodes, especially for lowcosters such as Air Baltic and Air Moldova, respectively.

russia-air-passengers

Source: burckina-new.livejournal.com/

Here is how the numbers looks like for Russia as a whole (blue – millions of passengers; red – billions of passenger kilometers).

Russia as of 2017, with 105 million passengers carried (86 million in 2016), has increased fivefold since the trough at 22 million passengers in 1998-2000, and exceeded the RSFSR peak of 94 million passengers in 1990 (and overtook it in terms of passenger miles in the early 2010s due to the greater weight of longer international routes).

Relative to international statistics as of 2016, Russia is now comparable to India (120 million), Japan (118 million), and Brazil (94 million), though very far behind the US (823 million) and China (488 million).

sheremetyevo-airport

Sheremetyevo Airport.

These improvements, at least in Russia, have been accompanied by a vigorous airport construction and expansion program. For instance, Sheremetyevo has overgrown its old, classic Soviet carapace (Terminal F) with new, wavy steel-and-glass buildings, and an underground railway will soon be constructed to connect its north and south parts. Domodedovo was thoroughly modernized even earlier, during the 2000s, when it briefly overtook Sheremetyevo to become Russia’s busiest airport. Incidentally, Domodedovo even has one of Moscow’s better Indian restaurants.

However, these improvements are by now means limited to Moscow. Gleaming new constructions have sprung up throughout Russia, including in the most remote and unlikely places.

I would venture to guess that airports constituted Russia’s biggest infrastructure improvements under Putin.

russia-aircraft-construction

Source: Sputnik & Pogrom: What’s happening in Russia’s aviation industry?

russia-aircraft-construction-2

Source: Ruxpert

This ensures a solid domestic market for Russian aircraft construction, which collapsed in the 1990s due to a mixture of uncompetitiveness as well as the political elites’ disinterestedness in maintaining Russian industry, and has only recently started to recover.

The few dozens of civilian liners produced per year in Russia – mostly the Sukhoi Superjet 100, which seats 80-100 passengers – pale in comparison to just the hundreds of Boeing 737s produced in their Everett factory in Washington every year.

Moreover, up until 2014, a large percentage of the SSJ-100′s more complex components, including the engine and avionics, were produced in the West.

However, since the onset of Western sanctions, the share of domestic components has been increased to 75% by 2017, and the numbers are similar for the Irkut MC-21, a larger, newer craft seating 150-210 passengers, which is on the cusp of entering serial production.

Moreover, the MC-21 (design began in 2006) was designed from the very outset to have a much higher share of Russian components than the SSJ-100 (design began in 2000).

ssj100-components

SSJ-100 components by nation of origin.

mc21-components

MC-21 components by nation of origin.

A widebody aircraft seating 300 passengers called the CRAIC CR929 is being mutually developed with China and should be ready in another decade, challenging the Boeing/Airbus duopoly at all ranges.

Consequently, Russian aircraft production should increase in coming years, driven by both domestic demand and political factors (e.g. state airliner Aeroflot will eventually need to renew its Boeing/Airbus fleet, and Iran may be a major potential customer).

With MC-21 production projected at 20 per year around 2020 and 70 per year in 2024, Russia should be producing around 150-200 civilian aircraft each year by the mid-2020s, which will return it to RSFSR levels.

PS. Seva Bashirov also reposts statistics gathered by the blogger harding1989 about USSR city statistics for 1965, 1970, 1975, and 1980. The top 12 cities are reproduced.

City 1965 1970 1975 1980
Поток % Поток % Поток % Поток %
Moscow 4218 36 7957 32 11690 30 14199 34
Leningrad 1132 11 2215 10 2875 10 3314 10
Tashkent 1070 32 1748 25 2731 23 3235 23
Kiev 985 20 1952 20 2668 15 2746 12
Novosibirsk 698 39 1311 41 2024 36 2099 32
Sverdlovsk 666 30 1208 31 1747 23 2085 18
Krasnoyarsk 607 17 1119 21 1701 19 2023 22
Minvody 605 15 1191 13 1855 10 2002 8
Khabarovsk 571 45 1025 43 1718 50 1961 50
Sochi 820 3 1212 3 1649 2 1920 2
Simferopol 781 4 1200 4 1672 3 1880 2
Alma-Ata 485 18 854 14 1311 10 1594 11

PS. Thanks to Jon Hellevig for some of the links and observations.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Airports, Living Standards, Manufacturing, Russia 
🔊 Listen RSS

There are some pretty strange ideas floating around that Russia is obligated to help Syria/Iran in their decades-long squabbles with Israel, and that Putin is “betraying his people” by not doing so.

Well, last time I checked, Putin is President of Russians, not Syrians/Iranians. Indeed, the term “сирийские братушки” (“Syrian brothers”) has long been an ironic meme on Runet to denote the absurdity of such appeals. I don’t even disagree with the assertion that Putin betrayed his people. It’s just that it happened in 2014, not on any of the dozen occasions when he failed to wage a nuclear war with Israel to indulge some Westerners’ peculiar ideological fantasies about Russia as the antipode to the Zionist menace.

In any case, Putin never even reacted to the outright American murders of Russian mercenaries in Syria, so it would if anything be absurd – not to mention supremely insulting (to Russians) – if he was to do more for Iranian ones.

Alexander Mercouris spelled out why Russia has no rational incentives to take a side in Arab/Israeli squabbles back in 2017:

It is not just that the Western media can be relied up never to criticise any action Israel takes however wrong or outrageous it might be. The dismal truth is that none of the world’s major governments do so either. Not only does the US invariably support Israel whatever it does and however outrageous its actions might be, but the days when Israeli actions would come in for strong criticism from the governments of Russia and China are long gone.

The Russians and the Chinese have their hardheaded practical reasons for this change of stance. Since the Arabs are incapable of taking a united stand against Israel, there is little sense in them doing so. Besides the Russians were badly burnt during the period from roughly 1967 to 1985, when they took a strong stand against Israel only to be blamed by the Arabs for their own failures, and when they found that Arab Jihadis were far keener to fight them in Afghanistan than to fight the Israelis. Needless to say after that experience the Russians have no intention of sticking their necks out for the Arabs again.

And more recently:

When following the 1967 Six Days War the Russians did commit themselves wholeheartedly to one side in the Arab-Israeli conflict – backing the Arabs diplomatically, arming the Arabs intensively, sending a strong military force to defend Egypt in 1970 from Israeli air attacks, and breaking off diplomatic relations with Israel – the result for Moscow was a catastrophe.

The USSR’s large Jewish community became alienated, the USSR found that by making an enemy of Israel it had further poisoned its relations with the Western powers at precisely the time when it was seeking detente with them, and the USSR quickly discovered that its Arab ‘allies’ in whom it had invested so much were both ungrateful and treacherous, so that by 1980 the USSR’s entire position in the Middle East had completely collapsed.

The final straw came after the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, when volunteers from across the Arab world rushed to fight the Russians in Afghanistan, in a way that they had never shown the slightest indication of wanting to do against Israel on behalf of the Palestinians.

Not surprisingly, the Russians have therefore since the mid-1980s been determined never to become directly involved in any part of the Arab-Israel conflict again.

Thus whilst Russia maintains good relations with the Arab states, and whilst Russia continues to voice support for the Palestinians, Russia has always striven to maintain good relations with Israel as well, and has forged significant economic links with Israel.

One additional point I would make it is that many of these fervent opponents of the AngloZionists were also some of the most active at propagating the meme about how intervening in the Ukraine in 2014 was an AngloZionist trap to draw Russia into WW3 and praising the 666D chess brilliance of the Minsk Accords, while shouting down its critics as hysterical panickers, if not outright sixth columnists.

So sorry to break it to them that Russia is not going to fight a war with Israel, or even cut economic ties, for the sake of the desert training arena. Actually not very sorry at all. The rise in oil prices is to be looked forwards to.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Israel, Russia, Syrian Civil War 
🔊 Listen RSS

The idea that the pomp and pageantry around the annual festivities commemorating Victory in the Great Patriotic War constitute a sort of foundational myth of the Russian state is a popular one.

There are any number of articles on the Internet making this argument, mostly from the last few years, though come to think of it, I was writing very similar things back in 2010:

The Kremlin is faced with a dilemma in reconciling Stalin with Victory. Promoting the Victory isn’t only feelgood propaganda. It is very useful. It stokes the social cohesion that Russia needs to consolidate itself, and to actualize her shift towards sobornost’ (the catch-all term for a deep sense of internal peace and unity between races, religions, sexes, etc, within a society). It also creates powerful bonds with other peoples of the erstwhile USSR, buttressing the Kremlin’s drive to (re)gather the Russian lands. For this reason, under Putin, Russia has devoted lavish attention to the public spectacle of Victory. The Victory parades in Moscow become ever more impressive, – indeed, imperial – with every passing year. Under the initiative of Kremlin-affiliated youth movements, the Ribbon of Saint George was popularized as a symbol of Victory since 2005. This harkens back to the Medal For the Victory Over Germany, which was awarded after the war to all the soldiers, officers and partisans who directly participated in live combat actions against the European Axis. A medal dominated by Stalin’s visage.

Since then, the trend has, if anything, accelerated, with the grassroots emergence of the Immortal Regiments marches, a much more humane and introspective ritual that emphasizes the human costs of the war to ordinary Russians.

But this was in 2010. The current year is 2018, and a lot of things have become much clearer since then, often in a depressing direction. It’s time for a reconsideration.

1. The Soviets themselves didn’t make a big deal of it.

The main holiday under the Marxist-Leninist regime was always May 1, the internationalist labor holiday. This is hardly surprising – the Soviets thought they were boldly marching to the victory of the global proletarian revolution, and considering Victory Day as the apex of their history would have seemed insane to them. It’s worth stressing that May 9 only became a public holiday in 1965, which also marked the second ever Victory parade in Moscow. The third was in 1985.

1985. Only the third ever Victory Day parade in Moscow.

It was only when the Soviet order started disintegrating that Victory Day started becoming sacralized. The next one appeared in 1990, on the eve of the USSR’s collapse. And they became yearly event in 1995, at the absolute nadir of Russia’s decline. Essentially, the post-sovok elites created it as a palliative to draw attention away from the fact that everything else had been lost – and their own looting. Consequently, it is worth noting that the vast majority of the veterans of the Great Patriotic War lived most of their lives without Victory Day being an annual religious event.

Now one might rejoinder that the non-Communist Russian patriot might rejoinder that Victory Day is by far not the worst Schelling point around which to base modern Russian identity – after all, it has connotations of patriotism, unity, self-sacrifice. The following points will address this.

2. You cannot sanitize Victory from Communists.

You can certainly try, and the Kremlin certainly does, but ultimately Stalin is as canonical a figure as Churchill in Britain, or F.D. Roosevelt in the US. Dissociating it from Communism is hardly feasible when the current denizens of the Kremlin watch over the Victory parade from a cheap cardboard pedestal, while the soldiers and war machines drive past the imposing granite monolith that is the tomb of the malevolent founder of the Soviet state, with his name prominently inscribed upon it. The former seems fleeting, insecure; the latter powerful, eternal. At least in their current form, Victory Day celebrations are a permanently running, lowkey legitimization of the multinational mafia that took Russia hostage and killed millions of Russians along with Hitler.

3. It is a celebration of idiocy.

The entire ruinous war would have been averted if not for the decades of Bolshevik treason, extremism, and stupidity that had preceded it and helped lead to it.

Russia was slated to be on the winning side of World War I. The Bolsheviks, and especially Lenin, need to take the credit from grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory. Conversely, Germany’s defeat would have been all the more comprehensive, making its future resurgence – with pro-Russian kingdoms installed in Bohemia and Poland – all the more improbable.

Without the memory of the Red Terror and the reality of Stalin’s tyranny, there would have been no bourgeois reaction against Leftism and “weak” democracies in Europe; the Nazi coup was an incredibly close-run thing as it was. Even a relative “moderate” at the Soviet helm, such as Nikolay Bukharin, who was open to cooperating with Social Democrats, would have been sufficient to forestall that timeline.

Even all that aside, a Russia that avoided a decade of lost industrial development due to the Civil War, around 15 million deaths due to the Civil War and recurring famines, a sullen peasantry that was initially willing to welcome the Germans before their depredations became known, the Red Army purges, and the persecutions of Tsarist technical specialists would have been much better positioned to counter a German invasion, without the vast sacrifices (27 million Soviet dead) that they actually entailed.

map-schulte-1915-ww1

French post-war plans in 1915.

The USSR in 1945 merely acquired the territories that the Russian Empire would have otherwise acquired or vassalized after WW1 (minus Finland, Tsargrad, and Greater Armenia). Not that Russians ever benefited from it – in 1947, “victorious” Russia experienced another major famine with 1.5 million deaths (that’s thrice more than the worst famine under late Tsarism, but hardly anyone knows about it), because grain was requisitioned to feed the “defeated” Germans in order to politically solidify the GDR. It then fostered hate against itself by locking the countries it had occupied, along with itself, into four decades of economic idiocy – before proceeding to give it all away in exchange for empty promises.

This is what “Victory” amounted to. Pure, distilled idiocy. SO WHAT ARE WE EVEN CELEBRATING?

4. It fosters the spread of idiotic attitudes and values.

Intelligent people, such as Americans, don’t want to die for their country – they want foreign bastards to die for theirs. Soviet cretins celebrate Russians dying for the “victory of the Soviet people against fascism.”

This leads to an entire complex of harmful and self-defeating attitudes.

First, it contributes to the sentiment that the guys in epaulettes – most personified by the Georgian mustachioed one – know best and cannot be questioned. This implicitly encourages subservience to power, even in the face of the most self-evident incompetence, corruption, and betrayal of national interests. Do you think that Mutko, Russia’s Sports Minister, who has overseen the discreding of Russia in international sports and has become a byword for incompetence and venality, isn’t qualified to manage a food stall let alone be promoted to the Deputy Prime Ministership in charge of housing? Do you think the pot-bellied 90 IQ cockroaches at Roskomnadzor should not have the divine right to determine what you can and cannot read? Too bad. You need to suck it up, because blind sacrifice for the glory of the country is the right thing to do.

Second, it deludes Russians into thinking that they died to “protect the world against fascism” or something similarly silly. In reality, they died – due to Communist incompetence, in far greater numbers than was necessary – to prevent themselves from being exterminated by Germans. After all, Stalin’s USSR was far more dangerous to Russians, even Communist ones, than Mussolini’s Italy, the birthplace of fascism, which over the two decades of its existence executed just nine people (most of them terrorists). This prevents Russians from clearly understanding the deep undercurrent of racial hatred that animates European Russophobia and fosters harmful delusions to this day, such as the absurd preoccupation with the German relationship.

5. It twists historical facts to impose a politically correct multinational ideology.

victory-placard

Walking through the Ekaterininsky Park in Moscow, near the Central Military Museum, one gets the distinct impression that it was Caucasians and Central Asians who won the war while Vanya drank vodka in the rear.

Reality was of course quite different.

soviet-military-deaths-ww2-by-percentage-of-ethnicity

The contributions of Central Asians were minor relative to their populations, and their presence often lowered rather than raised combat effectiveness (even in the late USSR, they were disproportionately assigned to the lowest-quality Class C rearguard divisions). Meanwhile, mobilization in the Muslim North Caucasus, especially Chechnya, failed entirely; collaboration was so extensive that deportation of their entire people to Kazakhstan was more humane than the “legalistic” alternative, which was the execution of most of their menfolk.

Still, history has always been used to service present-day political priorities, and as this constitutes multi-nationalism in the Russian Federation, everything else follows.

6. Even so, it is not even effective at that.

The Near Abroad is drifting away from Russia regardless, because few young Uzbeks are interested in “celebrating with tears in their eyes” what is to them the conclusion of a foreign country’s military campaign three generations ago.

In 2016, Kazakhstan canceled its Victory Day march even as it accelerated the transition to the Latin alphabet. The Immortal Regiments marches, perhaps the one genuinely grassroots Russian expression of Victory, have been getting banned in Tajikistan (a quarter of its GDP generated by remittances from Russia) and now Belorussia (which enjoys cheaper gas from Russia than Russians themselves).

Nor can Victory in WW2 be used as a vector of soft power – not when the vast majority of Westerners know of the USSR’s contributions though German generals’ war memoirs and believe that it was the Americans who were responsible for the defeat of Nazi Germany:

poll-ussr-usa-contributed-allied-victory-ww2

The East Europeans, and after the Maidan even official Ukraine (which now marks only the Western May 8 Victory Day, using the remembrance poppy it pilfered from Britain as its symbol), consider the Russian version of Victory Day as a disgusting celebration of Russian chauvinism and imperialism. At some level, these attitudes are of course understandable – the Communists robbed their national futures, just as they did Russia’s. But mention the Germans’ plans for them, and most will consider you a troll.

And it’s likely that, over time, Central Asia, Armenia, and Belorussia will follow in the same footsteps. All the signs are there.

Thanks to Russia’s loser status, its continued association with loser ideologies, and its catastrophic lack of any soft power (RT and Sputnik exist just to troll Westerners), things can hardly be otherwise.

7. People stuck in the past have no future.

Going back to the first point, recall that even the Soviets – blasting the first man into space and dreaming of world proletarian revolution – would have thought it insane to make Victory in WW2 the lynchpin of their history.

This is doubly insane for Russian civilization, which should not be confused with the entity presently calling itself the Russian Federation, which has always had trouble justifying its own existence.

In the past decade, the only addition to the national myth has been the reincorporation of Crimea, which was entirely right and proper, but it’s lame and gay to make what is ultimately just a marginal adjustment to Russia’s 17th century borders a cornerstone of the national ideology. Relative to the dreams and ambitions briefly unleashed by the Russian Spring in 2014, the blatantly politicized celebrations over Crimea – up to and including making its anniversary coincide with the date of Putin’s elections – sooner make a mockery of the entire affair.

Here are a few real national ideas worthy of Russian civilization:

  • The regathering of the Russian lands
  • Genetic IQ augmentation
  • Atomically blasting Imperial Russian Navy battleships off into space

These are all cool, WINNER ideas that self-respecting Russians can get behind.

Participating in this lame Soviet LOSER ritual, designed in its present form under Yeltsin to mask the fundamental hollowness of the Russian Federation – thanks but no thanks.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Russia, World War II 
🔊 Listen RSS

putin-inauguration-2018

So Putin has just entered his fourth and almost certainly last term.

Where to now?

Putin has a vast, legitimate mandate to leave his final imprint on Russia, but what precisely that involves is still just a black box – as I repeatedly noted during my Russia elections coverage, Putin did not even bother with a campaign as such, (correctly) betting that riding on the Crimean tailwinds would be more than sufficient to ensure him a dominating victory.

For now, the main indication is that there will be less military spending – even if the real size of the decline is exaggerated by a pure accounting issue – with the money saved from that, as well as proceeds from a new sales tax, financing considerably increasing spending on infrastructure, healthcare, and education. Russia certainly could do with the former two, even if the benefits of more education spending (as opposed to elite science research) are dubious. However, we can hardly expect him to challenge the prevailing global orthodoxy.

Personnel is key, so we will need to wait for the Ministerial appointments before we can seriously speculate about foreign policy course in an period during which Russia’s options are increasingly narrowing down to capitulation vs. increased autarky.

It is pretty clear that Medvedev will stay on as PM. There have been rumors spread by someone in The Financial Times that Kudrin is being considered for a high position – maybe even a newly created Vice Presidential one, according to John Helmer. As the latter argues, this would in effect translate to the capitulation option, i.e. “a policy of withdrawal from the Ukraine and Syrian fronts on the terms demanded by Washington.” I don’t buy this. While I have certainly made it clear that I don’t consider the kremlins to be geniuses, I don’t think they’re that stupid either. Moreover, the personal relationship between Medvedev and Kudrin is toxic, so it’s hard to see both of them on the same team let alone coordinating such a scheme.

It is also near certain that longtime warhorse Sergey Lavrov is leaving his post as Foreign Minister. He is not in Putin’s “inner circle” and this should be viewed as a conventional retirement of a bureaucrat. There are rumors in the Russian press that he is slated to be replaced by Anton Vaino, the little-known Chief of State of the Presidential Administration. Since Vaino is even less qualified to lead the Foreign Ministry than he is for his current position, hopefully this will not be the case.

The main challenge, apart from foreign policy and mounting Western sanctions, is the political transition after Putin. In particular, it’s worth seeing if Dyumin – the eternal “dark horse” successor candidate to Putin – gets promoted from his Tula governorship, because the window for building him up as the successor will otherwise start closing. Putin might be greatly popular now, but Crimea is going to start wearing off sooner rather later – I have observed it has already been doing so amongst the cognitive elites (e.g. the forums of MIPT alumni), and it’s only a matter of time before it spreads to the rest of society. So quietly sitting on his laurels, as Putin has been doing for most of the past year and counting, is not a viable option.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Russia, Vladimir Putin 
🔊 Listen RSS
 

us-soviet-flag

Translator’s Foreword (Fluctuarius Argenteus)

The doubtless success of the “primer” for Kholmogorov’s Solzhenitsyn treatise has compelled both the author and the translator to publish another “juicy bit” from the sprawling work. This part of the article analyzes Solzhenitsyn’s rejection of the Enlightenment that led him to lambast Andrey Sakharov’s project of a gradual “convergence” between Communism and Capitalism, causing a split within the dissident movement. It serves as a useful and engaging glimpse into Solzhenitsyn’s anti-Enlightenment, anti-Globalist, outspokenly nationalist philosophy that has reacquired relevance in recent years.

Most of the footnotes and tangents of the original text have been truncated, paraphrased, or incorporated into the body of the article proper. Several insignificant abridgements have been made, with the author’s consent.

***

The Enlightenment of Our Discontent

Solzhenitsyn was 20th century’s most consistent and paradoxical opponent of the Enlightenment. The paradox lied in the fact that he did not challenge Enlightenment secular humanism from the standpoint of a reactionary anti-humanism. Solzhenitsyn’s criticism came from a humane viewpoint, consistent and empathetic towards both the nation and the individual. This paradox was something that didn’t escape André Glucksman’s attention during his discussion with Solzhenitsyn on French TV: “For me, this man directly belongs and adheres to a group of writers who dedicated their talent to the cause of struggle for justice. However, some of those writers, such as Tolstoy, Zola, or Hugo, completely accepted and completely corresponded to the Enlightenment ideology. But Solzhenitsyn is now critical of this ideology, hence the paradox.” (Le Bouillon de culture talk show , broadcast on 17 September 1993 )

Solzhenitsyn resisted the Enlightenment by employing the language of suffering and acting as the voice of pain endured by those martyred for the cause of “Enlightenment ideals” during two Enlightenment-inspired revolutions: that of the French Jacobins and that of the Russian Bolsheviks. From this viewpoint, he definitely belongs to the “naturalistic” strain of Conservatism. However, he explicitly spurns Rousseauist naturalism and rejects its “noble savage” and his society-dependent “nobility”: “I am most unlike Rousseau in my views. Claiming that humans are good by nature but corrupted by their environment and circumstances was a grave error. I have always said, many times, that the line between good and evil is not drawn between governments, parties, or nations, but through every human heart. A human being is naturally inclined to both good and evil.” (Die Zeit interview, 1993)

Transferring the burden of responsibility for a moral choice between good and evil is the main sin against humanity committed, according to Solzhenitsyn, by the Enlightenment philosophy: “When religion started to wane in the 18th century (the 19th in certain areas), this faith was transposed onto the social system alone. After the loss of religious sentiment, the route of individual self-perfection, the way of individual education started to weaken, and the center of gravity shifted to this: once we change society, we’ll fix all of our problems.” Attempts at transforming humanity via a social transformation of the society were paid with the bloody toll of the guillotine and the Gulag.

That is why “Enlightenment” is one of the most negatively charged notions in Solzhenitsyn’s lexicon. “If the Earth is finite, then its spaces and resources are finite, and it is unfit for the sort of endless, limitless progress that was hammered into our heads by Enlightenment fantasists”, he wrote in his 1973 Letter to the Leaders of the Soviet Union.

A quarter of the century later, and the Limits to Growth myth-making of the Club of Rome, so influential in Solzhenitsyn’s early writings, is nowhere to be seen. Instead of a technological and environmental crisis, the West is faced with its own imperial Globalism. This was the subject of one of Solzhenitsyn’s last notable discourses, Degeneration of Humanism, read in December 2000 at the award ceremony for the Grand Prix of the French Académie des sciences morales et politiques. Once more, Solzhenitsyn drives an onslaught against the Enlightenment and its usual companion, secular humanism, as the main culprits of the modern crisis:

“Humanism was captivated by the seductive idea of taking from Christianity all of its noblest ideas, its goodness, its compassion towards the oppressed and the wretched, its acceptance of free will… while somehow doing without the Creator of the Universe.”

From time to time, humanism did succeed at assuaging cruelties. Nevertheless, over the course of the 20th century, the world was wrecked with two terrible wars, and in their wake, trying to preserve its zealous idealism, humanism morphed into a “humanism of promises”. Promises of establishing a rational worldwide order, giving equal rights to the entire population of the globe, creating a world government…

And, in its turn, this round of promises ended in falsehood.

“The term “progress for everyone” started to lapse from common usage. If some concessions are to be made by someone, somewhere, why should it be us, the most effective and developed nations, the Golden Billion?.. The gap between the most and least advanced countries keeps growing instead of shrinking. There is a hard rule: you fall behind once, you are to doomed to falling behind forever… If someone on this planet must dampen their industries, why not do it at the expense of the Third World? There are powerful financial and economic tools for that: world banks, transnational corporations… Is such a change completely unexpected for Humanism? Let’s recall that, during its development, there was a period, after d’Holbach, Helvétius, and Diderot, when a theory of “rational egotism” was proclaimed and gained significant traction… And now the current Russian press writes about an “enlightened egotistical interest.” Egotistical, but still enlightened , you see…”

As the zeitgeist changed, so did intellectual movements that influenced Solzhenitsyn. From a partisan of the Limits to Growth theory, he turned into a caustic anti-Globalist, pulling the mask off the same anti-industrialism that used to enthrall him, revealing it as an ideology of saving resources at the expense of the weak. There is one constant, however: Solzhenitsyn traces the evils of the modern world to the Enlightenment paradigm. “From the Age of the Enlightenment”, he argues, “grow the roots of Liberalism, Socialism, and Communism alike.”

This Enlightenment humanism led to making it “possible – with only the most humane of goals in mind! – to carry out a three-month long bombing of a European country populated by millions, robbing large cities and entire regions of electricity, so vital in our day and age, and destroying without hesitation marvelous European bridges over the Danube. Is it in the name of saving one part of the populace from deportation – and dooming the other part to the same fate? Is it in the name of healing a country branded a “sick man” – or is it in the name of stripping it of a lucrative province?” The 1999 Kosovo War, a watershed of Russian consciousness in its relations with the West, was, for Solzhenitsyn, the latest fruit of the Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment of Solzhenitsyn’s writings is a composite image, if you will, a general metaphor of the evils of modernity that he was opposed to. The two millstones that his grain has been caught between – those of Communism and Western Liberalism – are, essentially, parts of the same Enlightenment windmill. Two roads to the same abyss, to paraphrase Solzhenitsyn’s ally Igor Shafarevich, were laid by the same motor grader, with Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau pulling its levers.

Feud with Sakharov

The entire period of Solzhenitsyn activity as a publicist, thinker, intellectual, and political prophet is a constant and fierce duel with the Enlightenment. And it begins with a resistance to the menace of convergence, that is, a rapprochement and a fusion of the two versions of the Enlightenment project: Soviet Communism and Western Liberalism.

To properly understand what the concept means, we should turn to the reality of late 1960s – early 1970s. For an analyst at that time, it seemed beyond any doubt that “convergence” was the keyword of the decade. A democratic West and a Communist East were drawn together, heading towards a complete merger.

In the West, the Left reaches the apex of its power. Leftist parties, and Leftist ideas even more so, influence the policy-making of most Western countries. In the US, Lyndon Johnson ushers in his Great Society programs and rapidly does away with racial segregation. In the UK, the Labour are almost always in power (and when they aren’t, Tory policies aren’t that different). In France, General de Gaulle not only pursues friendship with the Soviet Union but also strongarms entrepreneurs into a system of sharing their revenue with their workers. In Germany, Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik ends an acrimonious confrontation between its West and East. The youth revolution of 1968, despite its defeat, changes the paradigm of social consciousness.

The USSR and its satellites, dubbed as “the East”, undergo a different revolution, social and psychological in character. While the official Soviet Union is engaged in a confrontation, and sometimes even a war, with the West, the average Soviet citizen craves nothing else than becoming Western in all respects – in fashion, music, books, ideas, living standards and lifestyle. Consumerism becomes the foundation of life choices. The main grievance with the Soviet regime has nothing to do with its suppression of freedom, persecution of religion, stifling of free thought, exploitation or expropriation. The main discontent is that it fails to provide living standards commensurate with the consumption standards of the West (or their imitation, such as a Lada instead of a Fiat). The Prague Spring of 1968 is a suppressed revolution just like the Paris Spring, but it is also seen as a major paradigm shift – a complete loss of faith in Soviet Communism by pretty much everyone.

The development of this situation, it seemed, could follow but a single scenario: a Détente and a gradual waning of hostilities and erasure of borders between West and East, with a well-fed European demi-Socialism at one end of the bridge and a famished Soviet demi-bourgeoisie at the other. Both sides would, of course, stamp out the “radicals”: the “Stalinists”, hell-bent on continuing class struggle until the bitter end, and the Right, made of out reactionaries, nationalists, and Christians rejecting Communism specifically because of its radical secularism and lack of nationality.

In the long run, it would lead to a fusion of the Soviet Union with the West as its demi-periphery with a sizeable geopolitical autonomy, a consolidation of all versions of the Enlightenment historical project, and the coming of a Euro-Communist, Socialist, and Liberal Reformist “end of history”. This would be exactly the future envisioned by one of the heroes of the age, Academician Andrei Sakharov, in his Reflections on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence, and Intellectual Freedom (1968):

Stage 1: […] A growing struggle of ideas between Stalinists and Maoists on one side and realistically minded left-wing Leninists and “Occidentalists” on the other leads to […] chartering the course to a deeper peaceful coexistence, a stronger democracy, and wider economic reforms (1968 to 1980).

Stage 2: In the USA and other Capitalist countries, the assertive demands of real life […] lead to the victory of the left, reform-conscious wing of the bourgeoisie. In their actions, they adopt a program of a rapprochement, or “convergence”, with Socialism… This program envisions a stronger role for the intelligentsia in the struggle against racism and militarism (1972 to 1985).

Stage 3: The Soviet Union and the USA, leaving their differences behind, solve the problem of rescuing the “poorer” half of the globe… They construct enormous chemical fertilizer factories and nuclear-powered irrigation systems… At the same time, disarmament is well underway (1972 to 1990)

Stage 4: A Socialist Convergence leads to weakening the contradictions of social structures… to a world government and a mollifying of national antagonism (1968 to 2002)”

The picture of a consolidated Communo-Liberal world, built on a common Enlightenment foundation and unfit for nations and national uniqueness, where Red atheists continue to lord over the destiny of the Russian people (who will also be subject to, in Sakharov’s term, a “very cultured world management” – all of this was so repugnant to Solzhenitsyn that he wasted no time in rushing into battle.

By the point of Solzhenitsyn’s transformation into a public civic thinker, his views solidified around an unwavering opposition to the entirety of the post-Medieval “orbital route” of humanity, starting with the Renaissance and the Reformation. For Solzhenitsyn, the only difference between Soviet Communism and Western Liberalism is the intensity and the degree of violence in their imposing of godlessness. In the Letter to the Leaders, he emphasized that “atheism was the main emotional center of inspiration for Marxism, and the remainder of its doctrine was tacked onto this.”

Solzhenitsyn equally rejects a Western ingrowth into Communism, leading to lenience towards totalitarian Soviet repression, and an ingrowth of the USSR into the Western system through its acceptance of consumerist behavior patterns. One of the final chapters of Cancer Ward is a peculiar manifestation of these anti-consumerist views, shown through Kostoglodov’s confusion and irritation at a Tashkent department store during his attempts at buying a “lightweight smoothing-iron”. The extremely meager range of goods on sale is portrayed as an unnecessary and obscene opulence, as a meaningless clutter of useless objects, and an overheard snippet of a conversation about a “size 50 shirt with a size 39 collar” nearly drives the protagonist into a frenzy.

The main spiritual foe of Solzhenitsyn’s is not Communism by itself and not the liberal West but what they have in common: a project of improving human life without God, the general preference given to the material over the spiritual. The greatest danger for him is a threat of consolidation of the two Enlightenment projects on a single platform. Such a consolidation would lead to an unstoppable reinforcement of the Enlightenment world order and a doubling of the negatives of the two Enlightenment “schools of thought”.

It was entirely logical that Solzhenitsyn’s first attempt at political debate, the As Breathing And Consciousness Return article opening the seminal dissident anthology From Under the Rubble published in Paris in 1974, would be a dispute with Sakharov’s Convergence project.

Solzhenitsyn argues that a conflict between Stalinism and Leninism is impossible because Stalinism is Leninism put to practice. Socialism, as a revolutionary ideology, is incompatible with any sort of ethics or nonviolence and thus cannot lead to a peaceful coexistence.

As a counterweight to Sakharov’s globalism, Solzhenitsyn consistently emphasizes nationalism:

“Against the current of Marxism, the 20th century gave us the limitless strength and vitality of national sentiment, which impels us to ponder more thoroughly over this conundrum: Why is humanity so clearly quantified in terms of nations, no less so than in terms of individuals? Is this national faceting not one of the greatest riches of humankind? Should it be erased? Can it?”

In the text of his Nobel lecture (1970), the Russian writer is even more assertive in formulating his nationalist and anti-Globalist manifesto:

“Lately, it has become fashionable to speak of an erasure of nations, of peoples vanishing in a melting pot of modern civilization. I disagree… the disappearance of nations would make us even poorer than making all humans alike, having the same character, the same face… Nations are humanity’s treasure and its collective personalities; the smallest of them has its own colors and conceals within itself a special facet of God’s design…”

Finally, Solzhenitsyn lands a powerful blow against his main unspoken enemy – the Convergence theory.

“For solving the ethical problems of humankind, the prospect of a convergence is a rather dreary one: two flawed societies with their own vices, slowly coming together and turning one into the other, what can they produce? A society that is doubly immoral.”

A convergence does not produce a mutual transfer of advantages, just a duplication of vices typical of either type of society. Those vices are rooted in their common foundation – the Enlightenment, and, consequently, atheism.

Solzhenitsyn is very well aware of Sakharov’s true intentions behind his statement that a Globalist convergence would produce a planetary government best described as a “very cultured world management”. This program of transit from a “Socialist democracy” and plain old “democracy” towards an authoritarian rule of Enlightenment “holy orders” forces Solzhenitsyn to lay out a completely opposite plan: an exodus from Communism via a nationalist authoritarianism heaving closer to earth, to the soil, to the breath of historical tradition.

Continuing his debate with Sakharov, Solzhenitsyn grinds his axe particularly against the “democratic” utopia of Occidentalist dissidents.

“An external freedom, freedom by itself, can it be the ultimate goal of sentient creatures? Or is it but a form for accomplishing other, loftier tasks?”

“In a persistent search for political freedom… it would be useful to understand what to do with it. We achieved this freedom in 1917 (and it kept expanding month by month) – and how did we use it? Grab your rifle and go wherever your fancy takes you. Cut off the wire from a telegraph pole for your own personal use…”

To debate democratic utopianism, Solzhenitsyn employs a principle of historical duration. The bulk of human history unfolded under an Ancien Régime, but people still could live, and their lives weren’t particularly bad.

“…In the long course of human history, there have been rather few democratic republics, but people kept living for centuries, and not always in a bad way. They even felt this much-vaunted happiness, which is sometimes called pastoral or patriarchal and wasn’t simply invented by literature. And they managed to preserve the physical health of the nation (it is apparent because nations haven’t lapsed into degeneracy). They also preserved a spiritual health reflected, for example, in folklore and proverbs, a health much greater than the one expressed nowadays in ape-like radio melodies, musical hits, and bothersome commercials. Can a radio audience from outer space guess that this planet once had – and then left behind – Bach, Rembrandt, and Dante

Among those forms of government, there were many authoritarian ones, that is, based on a submission to an authority of a widely divergent source and quality… For many centuries, Russia endured many forms of authoritarianism but preserved herself and her health, and avoided the self-destructions that would happen in the 20th century. Millions of our rural forefathers who had existed over ten centuries did not feel at their deathbeds that they had lived overly intolerable lives…”

This argument, of course, could only be thought of by an anti-progressive, by someone not enthralled by the achievements of the industrial age, with its automobiles, TV sets, a developed medicine and supermarkets round every corner. Solzhenitsyn rejects an implied postulate of the progressive model: the relative growth of historical weight depending on the century, where the 19th century is infinitely more “weighty” than the 13th, and the 20th more so than the 19th. After enduring the main horrors of the 20th century, Solzhenitsyn is thoroughly skeptical of this thesis, and deliberately paints in the first chapters of August 1914 a near-pastoral picture of an Old Regime annihilated by the revolution.

Within the historical optics where the 20th century is not more important or relevant than the 10th, millennia of authoritarian, patriarchal regimes definitely have more weight than the short span of “democratic republics”, which has yet to demonstrate its stability and long-term effectiveness. Solzhenitsyn is more perturbed not by the autocracy of the past but by the “autocracies”, or rather totalitarian dictatorships, of the present (in the form of Communist partocracies) or the future (in the form of Liberal technocracies run by “very cultured people”).

“What is truly terrible is not authoritarianism by itself but regimes that bear no responsibility to anyone or anything. The autocrats of bygone religious ages, invested with a seemingly limitless power, felt their responsibility before God and their own conscience. Modern-day autocrats are more dangerous because it’s hard to find higher values that are binding for them…” As Solzhenitsyn’s main value is not progress, not consumerist plenty, not external freedom but a possibility to direct one’s soul to God, his rejection of Communism is logically followed not by an embracement of Occidentalist democracy but by a system more conducive to “render unto God the things that are God’s”.

“If Russia had been accustomed to living under authoritarians system for centuries, and a democratic system brought her to unraveling in the course of just eight months of 1917, then – I do not claim it, I merely ask – perhaps one should accept that an evolutionary development of our country from one type of authoritarianism to another would be more natural, smooth, and painless?” Without this polemics against Sakharov’s Convergence one cannot comprehend other principal ideas posited by Solzhenitsyn in his articles published in From Under the Rubble and his Letter to the Leaders.

Introspective Anti-Globalism

The principle of self-restraint and the plan of Russia’s introspection, the inward turn towards its own North-East, were markedly anti-Globalist. When two globalizations, that of Soviet Communism and that of American Liberalism, intertwined in a bizarre antagonism/symbiosis known as the Cold War, their entanglement threatened to become a fusion. And the Russian writer proposes Russia to take a unilateral psychological and geopolitical leap out of globalization.

The Enlightenment doctrine had two essential foundations. It could be the Lockean principle of mutual limitation of individuals and limitless freedom where no such limitation existed, which led to the Liberal strain of the Enlightenment and the concept of human rights. It could be the Rousseauist principle of a fusion of individuals into a super-subject, an unrestricted collective sovereign; this paved the way for Enlightenment radicalism and Jacobin/Bolshevik practices.

Solzhenitsyn spurns this idea in favor of self-restraint, a personal limitation from within as a basis for true liberation. After quoting an Old Believer journal (“No true human freedom except in self-restraint”), he adds: “After a Western ideal of boundless freedom, after the Marxist notion of freedom as a deliberate and inescapable yoke comes the truly Christian definition of freedom: freedom is SELF-RESTRAINT! In the name of others!”

Once again, here we can discover a remarkable polar opposite to Sakharov’s famous formula “The meaning of life is in expansion”. For Solzhenitsyn, the meaning of life is in a rejection of expansion and a voluntary introspection, the development of what one already owns.

Hence both Solzhenitsyn’s anti-industrialism of this period and his geopolitical program championing a settlement of the Russian North-East. He attempts to get rid of the globalizing factors that kept drawing the USSR (and, consequently, Russia) into a closer entanglement with the West, hastening the dreaded Convergence. In From Under the Rubble and Letter to the Leaders, Solzhenitsyn seeks to convince both the Russian society and the Soviet regime to reject a competition with the West that draws them to a merger and turn inward, to improving their own homeland, the economic and geopolitical foundations of their civilization.

It is hard not to notice how directly opposed is Solzhenitsyn’s program of developing the Russian North-East as a home to Sakharov’s Globalist project of involving the USSR and the USA in solving Third World problems, as if the Russians really had nothing to do at their own home.

“We are tired of these global tasks, so useless to us! We must walk away from this heated global competition, from this much-advertised space race that we don’t need. Why should we plan building villages on the Moon while our own Russian villages are decaying and growing unfit for living? In an insane industrial race, we have herded immense human masses into unnatural cities with hasty and shoddy buildings, where we poison, overstrain, and debase ourselves starting with our youngest age. An exploitation of women instead of their equality, a dereliction of family education, alcoholism, loss of interest in work, the decline of schooling, the decline of our language – such are the spiritual wastelands that keep scouring our livelihood… And still, flaunting our “advancedness”, we have slavishly imitated the Western technological progress, only to thoughtlessly run with it into the impasse of a crisis that threatens the existence of humanity itself…”

A “convergent” globalization drains Russian natural resources and draws Russia into a pan-Western technological crisis, intensifying Russian de-nationalization. Most importantly, a US-Soviet cooperation/rivalry consolidates their materialist Enlightenment platform. Solzhenitsyn craves a change of direction: “We should stop running out into the street to pick each and every fight; we should humbly withdraw into out own home while we are in this state of disarray and confusion.” Instead of a globalizing Soviet outward expansion, Russia should turn to internal empty spaces, the key to Russian spiritual reintegration.

«The North-East is our vector, chartered long ago for Russia’s natural progress and development…

The North-East is a reminder that we, Russia, are the North-East of the planet! Our ocean is the Artic, not the Indian one, we are not the Mediterranean, we are not Africa, and we have no business there! Our hands, our sacrifice, our labor, our love is needed by these limitless spaces, recklessly abandoned to freeze in neglect for four centuries…

The North-East is the key to solving many allegedly unsolvable Russian problems… Its spaces give us a way out of the global technological crisis… Its cold, mostly frozen spaces are yet unready for agriculture and would require an immense investment of energy – but the very depths of the North-East conceal this energy, which we haven’t yet put to waste…

The North-East is larger than its name and deeper than its geography. The North-East would mean that Russia has eagerly taken the route of SELF-RESTRAINT, a choice of depth and not surface, an inward, not an outward choice. It would mean directing all of the citizens’ development – national, social, educational, family, and personal – toward an internal, not external prosperity.”

It was a brazen attempt to play at an “anti-Sakharov” field by pitching to the Soviets, instead of the globalizing Convergence of the Détente, a “divergence”, a planned de-globalization of the USSR in the name of Russian interests. “I write this under an ASSUMPTION that you have mostly the same concerns, that you do not shy away from your origins, your fathers, grandfathers, ancestors, and the nature you grew up with, that you are not devoid of nationality…” Solzhenitsyn addressed the Soviet leadership. He was mistaken: a clear national identity and national consciousness were something that his addressees sorely lacked. A telltale sign of this nihilism was Solzhenitsyn’s emphatic deportation from the USSR soon after he had sent the letter.

However, if the “ideological” part of Solzhenitsyn’s proposals was completely unacceptable for the Soviet establishment, some of his proposed routes of national development were either appropriated by the Soviets or masterfully predicted by Solzhenitsyn himself. Let’s check the timetable:

September 1973. The Letter is written and sent.

February 1974. Solzhenitsyn expelled from the USSR.

March 1974. The first of CPSU Central Committee plenary sessions devoted to the “Non-Chernozem Zone”. The Zone (essentially, the core of Russian territory) is in the center of Soviet government policies and sees real investment.

April 1974. The Baikal-Amur Railway is declared a construction project of national importance, both pursuing an anti-Chinese policy and developing the North-East. Peter Stolypin’s project of an Amur railway from nearly 70 years before had been explicitly mentioned in Solzhenitsyn’s Letter.

 
🔊 Listen RSS
 

I am not going to comment much on the May 5 protests in Russia because I have already done so many times before and there is nothing new or interesting about this one.

There were a few thousand people in Moscow. To repeat the obvious for the nth time, this is:

  • Not any more than during any other protest in 2017.
  • An order of magnitude lower than in 2011-12.
  • Basically an irrelevancy in a city of 15 million.

The only thing I personally found interesting and telling is the slogans of the opposition: “Not Our Tsar“.

Not “down with the dictator,” or even “no to fascism” or something similarly liberal.txt, but precisely the anti-monarchic overtones.

This rhetorical background was set up by Navalny himself, who billed the event as a protest “against monarchy”. This approach seems to have been long in the works – for instance, in a TV interview back in 2017, he described Putin as a “reactionary” with an obvious sense of distaste in his tone.

I don’t know why Navalny picked this approach. Most likely he really does feel that way. And/or he might want also want to extend his appeal to sovoks and Stalinists by adopting the Soviet discourse about the evils of Tsarism.

Incidentally, do you know who predicted this?

That’s right, The Unz Review’s most commonly translated foreign author, Egor Kholmogorov:

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

It might be a good thing, though. By tying virulently Russophobic neoliberal globalism to virulently Russophobic sovok – two sides of the same coin – Navalny might succeed in flushing all that scum down with him. In that case, we wish him the best of luck.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Alexei Navalny, Communism, Liberalism, Russia 
🔊 Listen RSS
 

zog In my huge post on The Jews, I invited my readers to fill out a survey to test how much of the 11 stereotypes about Jews the ADL identifies as anti-Semitic we agree with.

I was hoping to use the answers do some data analysis (e.g. how philo/counter-Semitism correlates with Jewish self-identification, political self-identification, Israel vs. Palestine sympathies, Russophobia, HBD/IQ awareness, etc.). Unfortunately, too late I discovered that PollDaddy doesn’t give you access to this data without a paid upgrade. So unfortunately, apart from making a mental note to never use PollDaddy again – I assume that Google Forms has what I need? – I am releasing all the data that I do have access to as a screenshot.

The results are mostly as I expected.

My average reader seems to be somewhat more “anti-Semitic” than I am (thinks 10/11 of the ADL’s stereotypes are correct, versus my 7/11). If I am anti-Semitic like the average Greek or Armenian, my readers are anti-Semitic like the average Arab.

With no ability to test the really interesting hypotheses (e.g. that denial of the validity of IQ is associated with greater anti-Semitism), I don’t think there’s need for further commentary from me.

Open the image below in a new tab to enlarge it.

poll-jq

 

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Anti-Semitism, Jews 
🔊 Listen RSS
 

military-spending-2017

New figures from SIPRI have been released.

At $66.3 billion, Russia’s military spending in 2017 was 20 per cent lower than in 2016, the first annual decrease since 1998. ‘Military modernization remains a priority in Russia, but the military budget has been restricted by economic problems that the country has experienced since 2014,’ said Siemon Wezeman.

This makes Russia an exception to the global rule of rising military spending.

China continues to gain rapidly on the US, even while spending a lower share of its GDP. Adjusting for PPP, total Chinese military spending might be close to approaching American levels.

With that decrease, a bunch of middle powers – India, France, and Saudi Arabia – have now nudged ahead of Russia in military spending.

PS. Need to make an update to the CMP.

PPS. Scale on the left axis should ofc be millions, not billions.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Military 
🔊 Listen RSS
 

telegram-protest

It’s now been about two weeks since Roskomnadzor has started (trying to) block the Telegram messaging app within Russia.

Let’s review what has been achieved:

1. 15-20 million IPs have been continuously blocked since mid-April, affecting cloud servers used by legitimate enterprises and news sites within Russia.

2. Meanwhile, Telegram itself hasn’t been blocked.

3. Knowledge of VPN has spread from online gamblers and political freaks who read marginal liberal and nationalist webzines to normies.

4. Meanwhile, a whole bunch of aforementioned “extremist” sites have been getting accidentally unblocked (you can test availability with this tool).

5. Large parts of the Russian bureaucratic apparatus and state-owned corporations have simply ignored all this and continued using Telegram.

6. They have now pretty much single-handedly kickstarted the 2018 protest season, with around 12,000 protesters turning up on a working day and on very short notice to an Internet freedom rally organized by the Libertarian Party (!).

Also a reminder that Roskomnadzor gets more than 10% of the funding accruing to the institution producing ~40% of Russian high quality research

  • Budget of Roskomnadzor – 8.5 billion rubles (2017)
  • Budget of Russian Academy of Sciences – 74 billion rubles (2017)

Note that these are just the facts. They should not be interpreted as attacking or denigrating the feelings of Roskomnadzor believers.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Censorship, Russia 
🔊 Listen RSS
 

marx-was-right Karl Marx – Capital.
Rating: 2/10

I did earnestly try to read Capital on about three separate occasions in my early twenties, before I wised up and stopped wasting my time on a pointless historical relic.

At a basic level, Marx is just a very poor writer, and I say this as someone who read Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and Friedrich List’s National Economy from cover to cover. And to preempt accusations of ideological hostility, I also read Friedrich Engels’ Origins of the Family – and consider him by far the better and even deeper writer (if only because it was easy to understand what he was getting at).

Marx is another matter. To read his works is to struggle through pages upon pages of laborious explications of utterly banal concepts. It is to wade through a morass of shifting definitions, seemingly authoritative but unsubstantiated statements, long-winded and often irrelevant anecdotes, and imprecise verbal descriptions that confound any attempts to construct a rigorous economic model.

One supreme irony is that Marx’s sole contribution to scientific economics was a balanced growth model of a two sector economy under capitalism. Meanwhile, the apocalyptic prognostications about falling rates of profit and mounting crises of overproduction that he is far better known for went unfulfilled.

Had there been no Russian Revolution, whose success was a historical fluke, then Marx would be regarded as a 19th century graphomaniac, and warranting just a few paragraphs in the annals of philosophy. As it was, his dreary tome was foisted on a third of the world’s population as a latter day Bible.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Books, Review 
🔊 Listen RSS
 

James Palmer in Foreign Policy:

Foreign reporters are limited to residence in a few major cities, chiefly Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen; they are followed and harassed when they travel elsewhere in the country and find it particularly difficult to reach the countryside.

But do journalists like him even need to be in China, let alone deep in its hinterlands? When all they do is regurgitate propaganda, which they can do just as easily from Washington D.C.

Article is chock full of BS from beginning to end, but this one jumped out to me in particular:

We don’t know how good Chinese schools really are because the much-quoted statistics provided by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) that placed China first in the world were taken from the study of a small group of elite Shanghai schools. As soon as that was expanded merely to Beijing — another metropolis — and two rich provinces, the results dropped sharply.

In reality, even discounting Shanghai, China gets excellent results in PISA – with IQ equivalent scores of around 102-103, it is much higher than the OECD average.

This has been well known since I first broke leaks of the results into English in 2012:

I suppose James Palmer is to be commended for sort of proving the point that 95% of American journalists deserve to be abused, harassed, and expelled with extreme prejudice from any self-respecting foreign country.

 
🔊 Listen RSS
 

Leonid Bershidsky:

Eastern Orthodox Christianity has done more to shape certain ex-Communist countries than communism. It also, some say, made their people relatively unhappy and anti-capitalist. This theory got a lot of play in 1990s Russia but has now resurfaced in a fresh World Bank working paper.

Its authors, former Bulgarian finance minister Simeon Djankov and Elena Nikolova of University College London, analyzed data from the World Values Survey and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s Life in Transition Survey to study the correlation between religious background and attitudes. They concluded that Orthodoxy made certain countries fertile ground for communism and generally shaped their path as distinct from those taken by countries steeped in Western Christian traditions.

Yeah, this makes a lot of sense. This explains why famously Orthodox Latvians voted more than anybody else for the Bolsheviks in 1917 and why ultra-Orthodox Red Latvian Riflemen played an instrumental role in establishing Soviet power early in the Civil War, why devout Protestant areas such as southern Russia and Siberia constituted the centers of White resistance, why Orthodox Hungary and Germany all had organic Communist uprisings in the immediate wake of WW1, why greater percentages of the Orthodox French and the Orthodox Italians voted for Communists from the 1950s to the 1970s than Russians voted for the Bolsheviks in 1917, etc.

Oh wait… this is actually unmitigated BS.

Now here’s the thing… there actually is one deep cultural factor that correlates very well with the ultimate borders of twentieth-century Communism: The exagamous communitarian family system (Emmanuel Todd from Explanation of Ideology).

todd-family-systems

However, there is a good reason that Bershidsky et al. are not going to discuss it in these not entirely politically correct terms, especially not when they can get to smear Orthodox Christianity for free. It is related to the reasons that he studiously ignores the evidence for racial differences in IQ in debates about immigration. It is because he is a good example of a Western Communist.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Communism, Orthodoxy 
🔊 Listen RSS
 

Just a PSA that in The Current Year there is absolutely no need to pay for almost anything. Save the money, use it to go on holiday, drink it away, give it to me (http://akarlin.com/donations/ ), etc. instead.

This will also be a reference post for future review posts.

scihub-doi-768x208

Papers

Use Sci-Hub: https://sci-hub.tw/

Emil Kirkegaard has a short for dummies guide: How to use Sci-hub to get academic papers for free

Considering the greed and rapacity of academic publishers, stealing papers isn’t just a moral right but a moral imperative. In my experience, it works 99%+ of the time. Literally the only paper I can recall not finding there – and I have downloaded well more than a thousand – is an obscure 1981 paper on Racial Variations in Vision (apparently, Aborigines have much better eyesight than other races). But somebody added it to Sci-Hub eventually, anyway.

Books

Use Library Genesis: http://gen.lib.rus.ec/ (unblocked version)

Emil Kirkegaard has written up a short guide for this as well: How to download ebooks from Library Genesis (libgen) for free

Coverage isn’t as good as with Sci-Hub, but it’s still pretty impressive. I find approximately 90% of the books I want there.

Cases in which you can avoid using Libgen:

  1. You respect the author and want him/her to get money for their work. Even so, you can still download the book from Libgen to avoid the restrictive DRM practiced by most booksellers, inc. Amazon, while buying a symbolic copy from the store.
  2. You want a high quality paper version. My physical library hit its minimum size around 2015. Since then, it’s actually been slowly growing, but almost entirely by dint of high quality books, usually hardbacks. Uppening the scale even further, antiquarian books not only look very good on your bookshelf, but are as legitimate an investment as, say, Swiss luxury watches or art pieces.
  3. When said book isn’t available on Libgen. This is the case for some very obscure books, as well as books that came out very recently, or very long ago.

Many books will be in epub/mobi format. There are many ebook readers for Android that you can use to read them. I use Moon Reader. It has exportable highlighting/notes, and I find its visual options even better than the Amazon Kindle’s. I suggest getting the pro version for a few bucks to get rid of the annoying ads.

The only major format it doesn’t support is djvu, which is popular in Russia. EBookDroid handles that.

I would also recommend Calibre for managing your ebook collection. There are plugins for stripping DRM off your existing, store-bought ebooks (DeDRM).

Films

Sponsoring Hollywood in any way whatsoever is basically a sin at this point.

My favorite torrent client is qBittorrent.

While Western countries don’t really care if you pirate papers and books, Hollywood and MPAA have an order of magnitude more lobbying power than Elsevier or Penguin, so this is most definitely not the case with movies.

I strongly recommend getting a paid VPN if you live in the West. I use NordVPN, though others I know swear by PIA VPN.

I would actually recommend getting a VPN regardless. The Wild West days of the Internet are coming to a close, and regulatory agencies around the world are rushing to block “extremist” content and set up national firewalls. This is going to get worse before it gets better, so you might as well get a head start on this.

Games

This is one medium where piracy is low and unattractive.

Market near-monopolist Steam/Valve offers low prices for the amount of content – very low in places like Eastern Europe. Probably not so much out of the goodness of GabeN’s heart as the existence of companies like Humble Bundle which will step in were Steam to get out of line.

The technological specifics of modern video games also limits piracy in that most of them are now dependent on constant updates and patches.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Productivity 
🔊 Listen RSS
 

akademik-lomonosov

The world’s first floating nuclear power plant (FNPP) has just been launched from the Baltiysky Zavod in Saint-Petersburg. It will be towed for fueling in Murmansk, and then go on to provide power to the Arctic town of Bilibino in the Russian Far East, where the local NPP is due for decommissioning in 2019.

Autistic screeching from atomophobes regardless, there’s plenty of reasons why this is a very competitive idea.

1. It’s surprisingly cheap: The Akademik Lomonosov, the first FNPP of its kind, costs only $250 million, and it should get even cheaper. Development costs are low – ultimately, it’s just a primitive barge with a reactor mounted on it, of the sort that are already used by Rosatom’s nuclear icebreaker fleet, as well as storage compartments for new and used fuel. Rosatom is one of Russia’s more efficient state-owned behemoths, so I don’t see all the money disappearing down a rathole (as would be the case if say Sechin was in charge).

2. Not only can it to what any normal NPP can – the Akademik Lomonosov can provide 70MW of electricity and 300MW of heat, and these figures can be increased with bigger reactors – but it is also a mobile source of power. Potentially, it can provide heat, electricity, and desalination services to just about any coastal location on the planet. It only needs a crew of 69, needs to be refueled just once every 12 years, and will have a service life of 50 years.

Obvious uses would be to provide power to remote Arctic civilian and military installations (Russia has started to actively lock down the area in the past decade – a wise if belated decision, in light of the accelerating melting of the Arctic), and to help with Arctic oil & gas extraction (Gazprom has already expressed an interest in acquiring several units).

One can also think of many other uses for it. China, which has also expressed an interest in acquiring some units – as well as building its own – could use it to power its artificial islands in the South China Sea. Another application could be providing quick relief in disaster zones; imagine if a floating NPP could have been close at hand after the storm that hit Puerto Rico and took out its electricity grid for almost half a year.

3. It will actually be even safer than conventional NPPs (which are already the world’s safest energy source by far).

The irony in Greenpeace calling it a “Chernobyl on ice” is that if Chernobyl really had been on ice, it would never have had a meltdown, being located right above an effectively infinite heat sink – the ocean. It would also be invulnerable to earthquakes and – if sufficiently far offshore, in deep water – to tsunamis as well. Not that either are an issue in the Arctic.

There’s no limits to the imagination on what we can do when we finally round up the atomophobes and send them down to the uranium mines.

We could build flying NPPs, to extend the range of mobile nuclear power deep inland. The Antonov-225 can carry up to 250 tons of cargo, which is more than enough for a small reactor plus nuclear storage.

In the long-term, as I have argued, we will need Orion Drives to cheaply launch the large amounts of matter into space, which is a sine qua non of serious space colonization. We will need nuclear reactors to power the lunar and Mars colonies.

 

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Nuclear Power, Russia 
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

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

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

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