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soviet-nincompoop

AK: This is a guest post from a friend of mine who… let’s just say has spent a lot of time in both Russia and the United States. I can personally vouch for almost of all of these observations.

***

Sovieticus Nincompoopus (Or The IYI, Russian-Style)

Scholars variously assign responsibility for the political demise of the Soviet Union to different world leaders, low oil prices, a corrupted ideology or even the arms race. I blame an entire generation. Here’s why this is relevant to America today.

All anecdotes in this article were observed personally by the author. For obvious reasons, the identities of the individuals are concealed. Links have been provided in English in as many cases as possible.

As late as the 1970s things were looking upbeat for the Soviet Union and its Communist experiment: It was generally acknowledged that it had played a central role in defeating Nazism in Europe, it de facto controlled half of Europe, it had sent the first human being into space, economic growth rates exceeded those of many Western countries, massive urbanization had brought the amenities of city life – such as indoor plumbing and electricity – to major segments of the population for the first time, education and literacy rates had surpassed those of many developed countries, quality of life was rapidly converging with Western Europe and it was one of the two superpowers on the planet.

Meanwhile the United States grappled with fuel shortages, impeachments, unemployment, hyperinflation, race riots, political assassinations and the Vietnam War. Ghosts from its civil war remained salient as major news outlets predicted the country’s internal divisions could break it apart politically once again. Several leading publications wrote fawningly of the alternate world model offered to the world by the USSR.

Less than a generation later – Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, and we haven’t been able to put him back together again. What happened? Instead of analyzing the usual culprits – from state actors to economic policy – I propose a different malefactor: ordinary people.

moscow-mcdonalds-1990

[For those who do not understand satire or humor – I am NOT actually characterizing anyone alive during said time period as the title of this article].

The late comedian George Carlin did a great skit about how people love to blame politicians for all of their society’s problems, pointing out that the error of this logic lies in ignoring the origins of those very politicians. They are generally products of the same system as everybody else. In the case of the USSR, the apparatchiki of the 1980s and 1990s came from Soviet families, went to Soviet schools, were indoctrinated with Soviet propaganda, graduated from Soviet universities and lived and worked in Soviet communities. In Carlin’s words, “if you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you are going to get selfish, ignorant leaders.”

Rather than blaming Mikhail Gorbachev or Ronald Reagan, it’s more fun to point the finger at an entire generation of people who were clearly unfit to inherit the reigns of a global superpower. Let’s examine this cohort of Soviet people born between the 1940s and 1970s who were coming into positions of power around the time of the country’s demise. Collectively – based on personal observation – I refer to them as Sovieticus Nincompoopus, and their imprint on Russia’s image around the world remains highly potent to this day (to say nothing of their influence domestically). So who is the Soviet Nincompoop?

***

Side note: I am not in any way an apologist for the Soviet Union. That said, from a global balance of power perspective, clearly we Russians are the losers and other countries – such as the United States and China, which went through no less dramatic transitions in the same time period – are the winners. Russia’s transition to a free market could have, and should have, been done differently. This article is my attempt at a creative answer as to where we went wrong.

***

soviet-log

In a 1974 essay titled Obrazovanshchina (translated variously into English as educaties and smatterers), dissident writer and Nobel Prize laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn derided the formation in the Soviet Union of an entire class of people whose “elite” status depended on holding a higher education but who were otherwise devoid of the culture and ethical values of a true intelligentsia. In other words – the village idiot (or IYI) with a degree from Harvard. As earlier mentioned, this was a generation that had inherited all of the best accomplishments their parents had worked hard and died for and, apparently, whose sense of entitlement and selfishness led them to take that completely for granted. Sound familiar? Therein lie the origins of Sovieticus Nincompoopus.

***

Mysticism and Conspiracies

During a trip across Route 66 a few years ago, I visited a novelty store in Oklahoma run by a musician in overalls, whio proudly referred to himself as a hillbilly and his town as the redneck capital of the world. Say what you want, but this was a man of high principles: “I don’t take no help from the government,” he proudly told me (a phrase I’ve heard from numerous Americans). He’ll pay his taxes honestly, but he won’t tolerate government healthcare, small business credits, or any other form of dependency on the state.

The Sovieticus Nincompoopus is the polar opposite of this: a man (or woman) who will take advantage (even feel entitled to) any and all state benefits without feeling obliged to pay taxes or contribute to the society providing them in any way. This is a person of no principles, and not even the ability to understand the hypocrisy or irony of his (her) actions.

corruption

Case in point: I’ve had numerous friends in Russia proudly explain to me their tax avoidance schemes. Barely a moment will go by that s/he will move on to deriding the poor state of public roads and hospitals. At work, the first ten things colleagues would think of upon the announcement of a tender is how to personally steal money from the transaction; the following day they’d be out in the streets in a March Against Corruption.

Not only do these people not realize the ridiculousness of their positions, they wrap them up in a cloak of morality and sanctimony. Look no further than the boss at work who will deride his employees for adding personal days onto a business trip and preach corporate ethics while simultaneously pilfering money from his own organization. Or the lady who throws her own kin into a state nursing home lecture others about the morality of legally earning a high salary while others are poor.

The list goes on. A smoker friend of mine would puff away on his cigarettes while simultaneously decrying the country’s low life expectancy and the lack of state programs to promote healthy lifestyles. A neighbor likes to throw his cigarette butts off the balcony and occasionally leaves his garbage at the building entrance while simultaneously decrying Putin for the poor condition of our courtyard. That’s right – the fact that he has the hygiene and manners of a barnyard animal does not cross his mind as the reason for the state of our surroundings. It’s all Putin’s fault! Walk into any crowd of decent size in Moscow or (probably) any other Russian city in the summer and you’ll get the distinct impression that most people haven’t yet heard of deodorant. Putin’s fault as well! From my own experiences, pointing any of these things out to said persons results in defensiveness, anger or outright confusion.

soviet-swine

And they say that we are swine…

This is a cohort of people mentally unable to connect actions with consequences, take responsibility for anything or think strategically. In public discourse and the media, the void left by these inabilities is naturally occupied by mysticism and conspiracy theories. The quality of analysis in many leading Russian news outlets wouldn’t pass muster as a term paper at an American high school due to vast simplifications, generalizations, assumptions and general lack of thorough research on any given topic. This is a direct reflection of the way many people think.

An acquaintance of mine who works at a major government regulator and was formerly a journalist at a top business publication here has repeatedly insisted to me that Putin’s approval ratings are fake. “The authorities would never allow the real figures to get out because there would be a revolution!” My numerous attempts to point out the very thorough research into this done by outlets like The Washington Post (whose editorial room are not fans of the current Russian President, to put it mildly) and the fact that anyone is free to conduct such polls has gone to no avail. It’s all a big conspiracy. As was the moon landing.

At a meeting with colleagues (all professionals in their mid- to late-30s) we were once tasked with designing a contest whereby the winner would get a free trip and do a day-by-day blog. People began by just blurting out proposals: “Let’s do a photo contest! Let’s do a crossword!” I pointed out that we should begin by thinking of the type of person we would like to attract, e.g. if he’s going to be blogging, we probably want a contest that could reflect writing skills. Crickets. “Let’s do a video! Let’s do a puzzle!” Obviously a contest is just something that falls out of the sky and need not be thought out or analyzed.

In personal life this has often translated into a worship of mythological entities like Zodiac signs (I once worked at an organization where the Head of HR relied on them to make hiring decisions). In healthcare – to the attitude that getting genetically tested for cancer risk is pointless because God has already determined your fate. Childhood cancer? Let’s pretend it doesn’t exist and not talk about it – too evil. Got a wart? Tie a string around your finger (or better yet – try to carve it out with a kitchen knife at home).

None of these cases is novel to Russia. The caveat is that these examples, without exception, are coming from people living in Moscow (or abroad) with degrees from “elite” institutions and often working at centers of influence and power. There you have your “elite” obrazovanshchina, Sovieticus Nincompoopus or IYI running the country (with all the unspoken consequences).

This was on full display during this year’s Presidential debates (in which the winner took no part). One candidate yelling “whore, idiot, faggot!” at all the others. Another bursts into tears because she says she was interrupted and runs off the stage. And these are the people asking for the keys to the nuclear codes. Pathetic.

***

Side note: I must qualify my observation with two important points about modern Russia:

  1. Part of this mysticism and simplicity comes from the general opaqueness with which decisions in Russia are still made. I’ve been employed by both major Western organizations and Russian ones, and the difference in how management interacts with employees cannot be overstated. Ironically, the U.S. got its own dose of Russian-style management when Trump initially announced his travel ban at the start of 2017. A major policy change comes as a complete surprise to everyone; plans are disrupted; people are harmed; nobody knows what’s going on (including those in charge of enforcing said policy). This is what we in Russia often face. In the absence of verifiable information, myths, rumors and conspiracies abound.
  2. I’ve yet to encounter an individual in any country who lives completely without an element of mythology and faith. Some of the most fanatically ideological people I’ve met are, in fact, American liberals (more on that later).

***

Self-Hatred and West-Worship

Somewhat ironically, in terms of international politics the Sovieticus Nincompoopus leans toward foreign- and, usually, West-worship. For him (her) self-hatred, cynicism and West-worship are the inalienable traits of an “intellectual.” Kudos to late Russian dissident and “liberal” Valeriya Novodvorskaya for putting it succinctly: if America bombs a country – good; if Russia’s doing it – bad! Hence her appeal in 2001 for the United States to conduct nuclear strikes on Russia.

The mythology and simplistic generalizations of this cohort leads them to divide the world into good and bad, angels and demons, etc. Depending on which subgroup s/he occupies, the Sovieticus Nincompoopus may hold certain groups (usually citizens of other former Soviet republics and people of darker skin color) below his own and then proceed to deride them to preserve some sense of tribal pride. Or s/he may have adopted the minority worship currently popular among Western liberals and superficially embrace people of different ethnic backgrounds. The cluelessness and superficiality of the position comes out eventually: examples include the late “liberal” idol and journalist Anton Nosik supporting the killing of Syrian women, children and old people as long as it helps the state of Israel, and eco- and human rights-crusader Yevgeniya Chirikova following up her statement that war under any circumstances is wrong with support for an American campaign against Syria.

soviet-patriotism

What unites these various persons under the Sovieticus Nincompoopus term is a fundamental lack of any principles beyond personal interest and a village-like perception of the world divided into castes of masters and slaves (and an underlying boorishness that doesn’t take very long to reveal). Lying and stealing are normal, intimidation and fear the only way to govern…and none of these perceptions prevents the Sovieticus Nincompoopus from judging others from thinking exactly the same way (or considering him/herself above others). Look no further than the political fortunes of Russia’s so-called “liberals” and to whom they assign blame for their dismal prospects. That this worldview goes inherently against Western principles and ideology is completely missed by the Soviet Nincompoop (and usually ignored by sanctimonious Westerners).

***

Servility Instead of Communication

The Sovieticus Nincompoopus is, at his/her core, a servile individual (occasional lash-outs and hysteria notwithstanding), as a visit to a state institution of any kind will demonstrate. Here the Soviet nincompoop will grovel before any low-level bureaucrat in seeking the simplest of procedures – a court document, a change in address, a property ownership certificate. Examples include excessive, hurried politeness and verbose compliments. Occasionally the most insignificant trinkets on hand will be offered in the form of a tribute: a cigarette lighter, a pen, office stationery. You would think the person on the other side of the desk was deciding whether or not to hang the Soviet nincompoop.

Or the Sovieticus Nincompoopus may take the direct opposite approach: shouting, screaming, threatening and making demands before any civilized conversation could conceivably begin. I once got trapped in an elevator at a major event in Sochi with a colleague and a handful of such people. The person on the emergency line said they had an engineer nearby and we’d soon be rescued. End of conversation, right? Wrong! “I know Valery Petrovich!” shouts one overweight lady in her 50s. “I know somebody with the phone number of the mayor of Sochi!” shouts another. “Oh my God! I can’t breathe!!!!” screams another (the doors had been pried open for the purposes of ventilation by this point). The simplest and most mundane of procedures sends these people into a counterproductive hysterical frenzy. The irony of the situation was that we got stuck in the elevator in the first place because three of those people had rammed themselves in at the last moment against the advice of event organizers and overstrained the elevator’s weight limitations. When we were let out five minutes later, as promised, my colleague joked that the only pleasure I’d have had from dying in there was knowing that all of those people would have probably died too. I grinned in agreement.

Neither approach (servile or hysterical) is conducive to the business at hand, and this is completely missed by the Sovieticus Nincompoopus. “Damn Putin!” he or she will should, and not “I wish I didn’t have the communication abilities of a five year old child.” This approach is complemented with feelings of extreme self-pity and an inherent belief that our own personal fates are the worst in the world. “We live worse than in Africa!” quipped a cab driver to me once. No, sir; I’ve traveled extensively through Africa (and many other places) and we’re definitely better off than most. You, sir, are clueless and whiny.

Ever wonder why Russia’s international reputation is so dismal (perhaps the only country with a worse one is North Korea)? I place most of the blame squarely on the Soviet Nincompoops who churn out servile, self-hating content in the hopes of being accepted by Westerners as civilized people. Look no further than the byline of many of the most Russophobic articles in the Anglophone media and you will often discover Sovieticus Nincompoopus.

One final personal example of note involves a US-based couple who left Russia in the 1990s and now claims a deep patriotic attachment to the country. At the same time, these people vacation exclusively abroad, only invest their money into US properties, and actively discourage their curious daughter from having any connection to the homeland they supposedly love. Is it any wonder the USSR fell apart?

***

Millennials

The only generation I find more juvenile, entitled and ridiculous than the Sovieticus Nincompoopus is a cohort known as the millennials in the United States (the details will have to be left for another article). At least the former knew how to have a good time and procreate, instead of emojiing their way out of existence.

Despite the title of this article, a casual reading of Gogol’s Dead Souls or some of Chekhov’s short stories will demonstrate that many of the aforementioned traits predate the Soviet Union by at least several generations. The biggest question for me is how much has changed among the young generation in Russia. People currently in their 20s and 30s are clearly less isolated from the outside world than their parents, and less dependent on state handouts and nepotism in their personal lives. Many run their own businesses. On the other hand, psychology transcends generations.

The good news is that while America seems to be descending down the road of blind ideological posturing, we may finally be coming out of it (at least policy-wise). Here in Russia, the Sovieticus Nincompoopus is going the way of the dodo (generationally). Good luck to the both of us.

soviet-example

***

 
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  1. Art Deco says:

    quality of life was rapidly converging with Western Europe and it was one of the two superpowers on the planet.

    Per the Maddison Project, the ratio of per capita product in the old RSFSR to that of the United States did improve between 1960 and 1984 (by about 25%). The improvement vis a vis France was much smaller (about 8%) and Russia lost ground against Italy. That aside, none of these loser Western countries was allocating 25% of their productive capacity to the military, nor were any dependent on oil wells for foreign exchange earnings, nor did you have to stand in lines running round the block to buy citrus fruits.

    Meanwhile the United States grappled with fuel shortages, impeachments, unemployment, hyperinflation, race riots, political assassinations and the Vietnam War. Ghosts from its civil war remained salient as major news outlets predicted the country’s internal divisions could break it apart politically once again. Several leading publications wrote fawningly of the alternate world model offered to the world by the USSR.

    There was no hyperinflation. Currency erosion was a problem during the period running from 1966 to 1982, but the annual ate of consumer price increases was in single digits for about 80% of that time and never broke 20%. The riots occurred during a discrete 7 year period ending in 1971 and they damaged slum zones where only about 10% of the population was living. There was never any danger of regional secessions, nor was it a common feature of public discussion. No “leading publication” had admiration of the Soviet Union as a component of its editorial line. You had publications which favored the enemy during the Cold War, but they generally had small circulations and expressed that viewpoint by shilling for 3d world reds. After 1950, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were unfashionable in that set. Southern politicians and publics gave up on segregation around about 1971; problematic race relations after that date had nothing to do with Civil War ghosts and everything to do with inner city crime and school disorder. Louise Day Hicks had no interest in maintaining any kind of Southern caste system. She just didn’t want her local schools turned into toy theatres for the social fantasies of federal judges &c.

    • Replies: @E. Harding
  2. This perfectly describes my experience working for a Ukrainian in the USA. Expectation that I could read his mind, total dismissal of my insistence that we needed a more systematic and organized approach. Generally capricious, prone to panicking over the smallest unexpected events combined with a blasé attitude and reluctance to improve anything as long as the higher ups weren’t complaining. Incidentally, he didn’t believe me when I tried to explain the Anglo or Germanic idea of high social capital and trust, couldn’t believe people would behave that way.

    • Replies: @utu
    , @Dieter Kief
  3. Dmitry says:

    Article is quite funny and clever, if written as a kind of racist self-mockery – with various accurate statements mixed with some exaggeration.

    This obsession with reforming the national personality, is itself, ironically, very stereotypical.

    Every historical and distinguished nationality has idiosyncrasies. Usually they have a dual element – negative is also reverse side of a positive aspect.

    Civilization is a process of turning people’s negative inherent aspects into their positive sides. So German’s society today convert their slow, boring, pedantic autism, into carefully made cars, and reliable train timetables. Nobody, except a German soul, could write books like Kant’s or Hegel’s (this is both a compliment and criticism).

    Negative things in the article, which can be accurate, are often related to national characteristics, which are mediated by Soviet epoch, but which predates the Soviet Union.

    Sovieticus Nincompoopus leans toward foreign- and, usually, West-worship. For him (her) self-hatred, cynicism and West-worship are the inalienable traits of an “intellectual.”

    This was already common pattern (or bifurcation) of the 19th century world. For intellectual historians, there are books about this argument between Westernizers and Slavophiles, which was penetrating intellectual discussions in every area, extending from discussions about lexicographical reforms, to political reform and geopolitics.

    entire class of people whose “elite” status depended on holding a higher education but who were otherwise devoid of the culture and ethical values of a true intelligentsia.

    Technical education was extremely high level in Soviet Union (increasing during the 20th century), and compared to today levels of general culture (on the pedagogical, passive and reproductive level) were also higher with many people. A problem was that the creative professionals were censored and had additional restrictions (even more than already there were in the earlier epoch).

    personal life this has often translated into a worship of mythological entities like Zodiac signs (I once worked at an organization where the Head of HR relied on them to make hiring decisions). In healthcare – to the attitude that getting genetically tested for cancer risk is pointless because God has already determined your fate.

    This (passive “maybe” attitude) is a stereotypical characteristic, which was romanticized already in the 19th century.

    Kudos to late Russian dissident and “liberal” Valeriya Novodvorskaya for putting it succinctly: if America bombs a country – good; if Russia’s doing it – bad! Hence her appeal in 2001 for the United States to conduct nuclear strikes on Russia.

    LINKBOOKMARKThe mythology and simplistic generalizations of this cohort leads them to divide the world into good and bad, angels and demons, etc. Depending on which subgroup s/he occupies,

    This is not specifically from the Soviet Union. It is more a absence of anglosaxon moderation, and older habit of choosing angels and demons, which was common already in the 19th century, and can rapidly change sides.

    I can describe, a direct example – Nabokov. He completed avoided the Soviet Union and emigrated. He was celebrating the American war on Vietnam, and thinks everything America’s army does (even if it is using chemical weapons on Vietnamese civilians) was great and something to celebrate.

    He was describing as traitors, American intellectuals who protested against the war on Vietnam.

    The American intellectuals were themselves, were shocked, and angry with him. It’s a comical story, that the Americans themselves were angry that a Russian man was supporting America too much.

    The value of moderation and balance in political views, viewing many sides of every position – is very important, but also uncommon in most of the world, and even most European countries’s political history. This is where the English intellectual attitude, is the one to be learned from.

    -

    I would add another example, which the author does not discuss – appreciation of foreign luxury products. This is often laughed at, and in the Soviet epoch it demonstrated political contradictions. But this is a much older than Soviet national characteristic, and was discussed heavily in the 19th century. In 19th century texts, there are many criticizing descriptions of people’s love of importing expensive French, English, Swiss bathroom products, cutlery, pocket clocks, etc (and the great universal shops constructed to sell them).

    It’s neither a bad or good thing that many people are connoisseurs. The bad thing is that, e.g. despite tens of millions of girls obsessed with fashion, there is not domestic equivalent to Chanel or Prada. In this situation, the negative is that there is too much passive appreciation, and not enough active production. Italians or French early embraced this “negative” consumerism of women, and converted it into productive part of their economy. The lesson is obvious – that consumerism cannot be rejected, but what is needed is a domestic Russian luxury product economy, which can create products on the same level with those of the West.

  4. utu says:
    @Dan Bagrov

    idea of high social capital and trust, couldn’t believe people would behave that way

    I met Russians like that. They were not criminals but university professors so I was taking it as a cynical pose that in their minds was making them look cool but now as you wrote it I begin to wonder whether indeed they could not comprehend the concept of the high trust. When it comes to Russian or Israeli criminal element they view America as El Dorado, the land of suckers and freiers that must be taken advantage of.

    • Replies: @SolontoCroesus
  5. quality of life was rapidly converging with Western Europe

    Doubtful. Soviet life expectancy stopped growing after the early 1960s (obviously not the case for Western Europe), and most Western European countries had faster GDP per capita growth than the USSR from the early 1960s onwards (though the USSR obviously had faster growth than the U.S., Australia, Great Britain, and New Zealand until 1975). Soviet GDP per capita between 1934 and 1977 was persistently at roughly the same levels and growth rates as Mexico’s.

    The USSR’s geopolitical gains in the third world during the 1960s and 1970s, however, were respectable.

  6. O.T., but I think you are completely wrong about Tesla

  7. @grey enlightenment2

    What’s your argument and evidence?

  8. @Art Deco

    Art, legitimate points all. Have you read my Medium posts on how to use the Maddison 2018 data? Should be quite useful to you. The 2018 version provides two distinct series, neither of which should be taken at face value. The points you make using the data are nevertheless broadly correct. It seems that Soviet GDP per capita between 1934 and 1977 was persistently at roughly the same level and had the same growth rates as that of Mexico.:

    https://medium.com/@Enopoletus/understanding-and-reconciling-the-two-real-gdp-series-in-maddison-project-2018-3414349c78ad

    https://medium.com/@Enopoletus/python-scripts-for-graphing-historical-real-gdp-data-from-the-maddison-project-d7b2615a362a

    I frequently use both my graphing scripts.

  9. Mr. Hack says:

    Yeah, like I’ve said a thousand times before…

    “Life was so much better under Brezhnev, Kovabasa was to be found everywhere and reasonably priced too…And it was so easy to get into the special stores for party members too…we lived the dream and didn’t even know it!

    :-)

  10. Brabantian says: • Website

    AK writes above that his anonymous friend “has spent a lot of time in both Russia and the United States”

    Someone else like this, whom if AK doesn’t know already, I would suggest he meet in Moscow – with an interesting story to tell

    A US exile & political refugee, in Russia for the last 20 years – John Anthony Robles II – ‘Jar2′, living in Russia since the 1990s, apparently menaced by the US government and given asylum by our Russian friends

    Robles had been on the air for the Voice of Russia World Service 2009-14

    His website has a huge amount of material in an old hard-to-read format, lots of radical ‘truther’ stuff … Particulars quite suppressed from search by the CIA-Google monster

    Robles is quite more than most ‘woke’ on a lot of things, e.g., the evidence that Julian Assange & Edward Snowden are both beyond-doubt whopping CIA frauds etc

    Of course whenever someone tries to do a lot of truthing there is bound to be some odd stuff in the mix

    Seems to be no mention of Robles on Unz but I think if AK looked him up and shared some time, there could be a worthy AK post on his fellow beleaguered blogger, whose story obviously should be better known

    John Anthony Robles II aka Jar2, his website:

    http://www.jar2.com/Default.htm

    • Replies: @anon
    , @Anon
  11. Pavlo says:

    Thai cave rescue. Russian liberal chick uses it as a chance for a facebook rant about Putin and the Kursk sinking (he should have asked for help from America said she). This leads into her complaining that the university she worked at in Russia didn’t pay her enough, and the rent was too high and so on, and so on. Didn’t seem to make the connection between that and her decision to study sociology instead of law like her rich parents wanted. Somehow failed to notice she’d moved to a city (Auckland) where rents could charitably be described as extortionate and home ownership is limited to millionaires, and with universities that rely on student slave labour in preference to paid employees.

    Nobody is more soviet than the liberal apparently.

    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
  12. anon[265] • Disclaimer says:
    @Brabantian

    To sit in Moscow and write about 9/11/2001, how “woke”.
    What does Mr.Robles say about 9/9/1999, if anything? If 9/11 was suspicious, Russian bombings of 1999 were more suspicious by several orders of magnitude.

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

    • Replies: @Mikhail
  13. @grey enlightenment2

    Your beef is with me, cowboy.

    Meanwhile in Fremont:

    Sorry about being absent lately. I fractured my collar bone which needless to say makes typing a chore.

    • Replies: @FB
    , @Daniel Chieh
  14. @Dmitry

    We can thank the USSR 100% for the lack of a domestic Russian luxury industry.

    There were plenty of well regarded Russian jewelers, elite watchmakers, etc. in the late Empire (plenty of exemplars in the Hermitage and other museums). Since the value of such entities is mostly in the brand, this will take half a century to build up again.

    • Agree: byrresheim
    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
    , @Dmitry
  15. Dmitry says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Things like jewellery makers Faberge or Marchak probably represent specialized, preindustrial skills, that cannot be easily replaced or repatriated.

    But in other areas like fashion – often, they begin as the smallest startups, just as result of individual entrepreneurs.

    Just a clever woman like Coco Chanel (according Wikipedia she was a proletarian woman, selling hats) or guy who was ordinary salesman for suits like Ralph Lauren.

    And yet now – Chanel has revenue of over $10 billion a year. Dior has revenue of over $40 billion a year (which is 50% the size of Sony’s Corporation’s annual revenue).

    Yet it’s just a result some clever individual entrepreneur. Coco Chanel seems to have a kind of “angel investor” as a boyfriend.

    • Replies: @for-the-record
  16. Matra says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    Reminds me of a scene (from 0.55 on) in Kieslowski’s movie Three Colours: White where the thieves are looking for something valuable on the main character to steal. They look at his watch then say “Made in Russia! Fuck!” toss it away and beat him up.

  17. Dmitry says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    I don’t think watches are going to be competitive with Swiss ones?

    In general, much of wealth of Russia (and China and Japan) is now flowing to Dior, Chanel, Cartier, Rolex, Patek Philippe.

    And there’s psychological barrier, that rich women only want to buy something from the West.

    Russian women are so obsessed in fashion. So many girls even studying fashion design and dreaming of working for major Western companies.

    What there needs to be is much more entrepreneur ones, and startup funding for them, to create domestic equivalents. And it’s not desired some more brands like “yarussia” lol.

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
  18. @Thorfinnsson

    They’re one of the rare examples of Soviet excellence, but only appreciated by a few (largely foreign, I suspect) sophisticated connoisseurs.

    Rolexes, etc. are the standard for everyone from Putin and Peskov down.

  19. @Dmitry

    I regard them as niche products for Russophiles and those who like to be a little bit different. I quite like my Russian watches. Though for daily wear I mostly use a Citizen Eco-Drive.

    Strictly speaking all mechanical watches are obsolete, so while Swiss mechanical movements are more accurate than Russian ones the accuracy remains appalling compared to even the cheapest quartz movement (let alone your phone, which is synchronized to atomic clocks which are in turn set by observatories).

    Someone wearing a wrist watch from a fashion house (e.g. Dior, Chanel) rather than a watchmaker is simply tasteless swine. I feel the same way about sunglasses.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
  20. @Anatoly Karlin

    Peskov was seen with the fake and gay watch at his wedding. What about Putin? He is at last showing a modicum of self-respect concerning the official limousine:

  21. @Anatoly Karlin

    Horology was essential to effective military operations, particularly the Soviet style of war. So it makes sense.

    Putin ought to lead by example here and wear Russian watches.

  22. @Dmitry

    Coco Chanel seems to have a kind of “angel investor” as a boyfriend.

    You might find the following article of interest:

    https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-exchange-coco-chanel-and-the-nazi-party

    • Replies: @Dmitry
    , @byrresheim
    , @Anon
    , @Anon
  23. Mikhail says: • Website
    @anon

    The idea that the Russian government was behind the Moscow apartment bombings is on par with the claim made of the US government regarding 9/11.

    • Agree: reiner Tor
  24. Chuck says:

    Somewhat ironically, in terms of international politics the Sovieticus Nincompoopus leans toward foreign- and, usually, West-worship. For him (her) self-hatred, cynicism and West-worship are the inalienable traits of an “intellectual.”

    I guess self-awareness is also not a Russian strong point.

    Although perhaps the author does not identify as Russian…

  25. Dmitry says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    For watches, Swiss are the prestigious ones.

    Many people actually go to Switzerland itself to buy it, because the transaction are private (Switzerland has a tax register of foreigners who buy the expensive watches, but not an agreement to share with Russian tax authorities). In addition, if it is someone like politician – they will send someone to buy it so it is registered with a different name.

    -

    As for women’s fashion. In Ekaterinburg for example – in the Gallery luxury, the shops are things like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Cartier and until recently a huge Chanel shop.

    It helps the local economy only to extent these (Dior, etc) are the highest rent buildings in the city, and they hire local people to staff in them. But they are not even franchises. And only French and Italian companies – which people are spending large fortunes on (prices far higher in Russia than in Paris).

  26. Dmitry says:
    @for-the-record

    For a clothes maker, support for the Nazis would be predictable – I imagine the world is viewed like a cosplay for some of them.

  27. Anonymous[157] • Disclaimer says:

    It’s always made me cringe the way some Russians (sovoks more accurately) treat their own country with such wretched cynicism, yet acted like post coital goggle eyed whores when appraising anything foreign.

  28. OT

    In the meantime, some ominous news from Russia: many CIA sources have gone silent, and so they don’t know how Putin will influence the election.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/24/us/politics/cia-russia-midterm-elections.html?nl=top-stories&nlid=64905693ries&ref=headline

    • Replies: @for-the-record
  29. @reiner Tor

    In the meantime, some ominous news from Russia: many CIA sources have gone silent

    Fortunately we do know what the Russians have been up to:

    Russian Twitter trolls played both sides of vaccine debate, study says

    Russian trolls on Twitter didn’t pick a side in the vaccine debate, but insulted both sides to maximize hostility, a study found.

    The same trolls and bots that meddled in the 2016 presidential election claimed that the Illuminati were behind vaccines and also said failing to get them was “stupidity,” The New York Times reported on Friday, citing a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. . .

    On Tuesday, Facebook and Twitter took down hundreds of accounts that they said were linked to influence efforts from Russia and Iran, while Google removed 58 accounts tied to what it said was an Iranian effort to sow discord from YouTube and other sites on Thursday.

    Alas,

    A former Facebook security chief on Wednesday said it’s “too late to protect the 2018 elections,” but believes the 2020 election can still be saved.

    https://www.cnet.com/uk/news/russian-twitter-trolls-played-both-sides-of-vaccine-debate-study-says/

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  30. dmitriev says:

    Good article, Anatoly. Agree with most of it. Though for many of these things you described, I think the more appropriate term would be уебанщина rather than образованщина.

    Since you are in contact with SiP people, can you talk to them about:

    1. They need to do a better job of explaining to their readers how Ukraine’s policies are anti-Russian. They need to be more specific about this and really hammer it home, e.g. regarding the limitations placed on the use of the Russian language in filling out official documents, education, health care etc. I was watching a SiP video on youtube recently and I see some kaklofart in the comment section talking about how ethnic Russians have more rights in Ukraine than they do in Russia. Rights such as what, I thought – the right to participate in gay pride parades and the right to be subjected to forced Ukrainianization? Evidently the kaklofart felt he would be able to spin this nonsense in the SiP comment section without meaningful opposition – that’s why he was doing it, and that’s unacceptable.

    2. SiP’s recent material about how nationalists need to ditch the whole stereotypical aggressive, boorish “Nazi-style” nationalism for a more intellectual, “human rights defender” type of approach. I completely agree with this and think it’s the only way forward for any kind of “nationalism” in this age. At the same time, SiP needs to emphasize to its audience that any kind of “Nazi fetishism” (you know what I’m talking about) among people who call themselves nationalists is completely not OK, that it’s profoundly embarrassing and counterproductive. And it’s not enough to formally disown the Nazis/neo-Nazis/nutbags etc – it has to be real, not just for show. Because if it’s just a facade, it will be immediately found out and simply serve to discredit the nationalist movement.

  31. ussr andy says:

    The quality of analysis in many leading Russian news outlets wouldn’t pass muster as a term paper at an

    agree, but the Moscow Times article linked under the word “analysis” does nothing to illustrate this point (the cynicism, the payola, the conspiracy-mindedness), instead it is a self-congratulatory ideological piece (strongly implying Western and Russian-shitlib media don’t suffer from any of that) from an apparent member of this crowd:

    I place most of the blame squarely on the Soviet Nincompoops who churn out servile, self-hating content in the hopes of being accepted by Westerners as civilized people. Look no further than the byline of many of the most Russophobic articles in the Anglophone media and you will often discover Sovieticus Nincompoopus.

    Or was this supposed to be an example of bad analysis? But the first sentence spoke of “leading” and “Russian” of which MT is neither.

  32. @for-the-record

    I saw that one, too, just forgot to share here.

    It’s now a fully fledged conspiracy theory. The lack of evidence is only proof of how devilishly clever Putin is, and whatever he does or does not do is proof of his nefariousness: for example he devilishly provides healthcare to the part of the Donbas population still under Ukrainian control, because four years after losing the hospitals in the bigger cities of the region, the corrupt and/or incompetent Ukrainian government is still unable (or unwilling) to provide those to the locals. So healthcare, which should be a basic human right, thus becomes a propaganda tool!

    https://codastory.com/disinformation-crisis/armed-conflict/healthcare-weapon-ukraine

    • Replies: @Biff
  33. Disgusting garbage.
    Karlin is an idiot or agent provocateur Zionist.
    Russian people are not stupid. They are still catching up, but they are catching up fast.

    • Agree: FB
    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Anon
    , @AB_Anonymous
  34. Bolverkr says:

    Funny, it seems that temporally apart, the US, Europe and Russia has produced the same type of person. Notably lacking in their post WWII ideology was the „component“ of personal responsibility. I wonder whether there is an ideology which may integrate personal entrepreneurship and responsibility with socialism on a national level. That sounds good, doesn‘t it?

    • Replies: @myself
  35. Anon[425] • Disclaimer says:

    I’ve been saying…

    Russians are the greatest underachievers. So much land, resources, and potential.

    But poor national character. Orthodox Church favored mysticism over moral clarity.
    Tsarism treated people like children. Russian elites’ slavishness to the West led to neglecting their own people. And the people drank too much and danced on tables.

    Communism initially whipped Russians into shape but emotionally traumatized them with fear and terror. Also, it provided no incentives for individuals.

    So, when the terror faded, there was only conformism, dogma, and mediocrity.

  36. Anon[425] • Disclaimer says:
    @Ilyana_Rozumova

    Constructive criticism is good.

    Btw, Karlin didn’t write this. It was a friend.

    And it was written out of concern for Russia, not hate or derision.

    • Replies: @Ilyana_Rozumova
  37. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Anon

    But poor national character. Orthodox Church favored mysticism over moral clarity.
    Tsarism treated people like children.

    Faulty stereotype. As one of numerous examples, Igor Sikorsky was a devout believer, while being quite scientifically inclined.

  38. Who wants to know what simple people, hardly any education, ran the USSR, I can recommend:
    F.W. Deakin and G.R. Storry, ‘The case of Richard Sorge’, New York, 1966

  39. Realist says:

    I note that many commenters, to this article, only show up to reply to Karlin’s articles.

    • Replies: @Biff
  40. I had experience with Sovietus Democratis in NYC. I had been brought in to put his business in order, and found a guy who used it as a lifestyle credit card and could not understand why its debt was growing. Meanwhile, all the while spouting the socialist drivel about free healthcare and higher ecucation for all (in the’90s), while preferring to hire only like-minded SJW types from elite Northeast schools.

    The funny thing was that his underlying product was a licence to print money, which is why my overlords bought a piece of his action. Anyway, we finally bring the company to profitability, and it is now time to write a big cheque to the State of New York for income tax, and you would have thought I had stuck a pig, what with all the squealing about how high taxes were robbery and not for little people like him, but instead for the rich Republican plutocrats.

  41. @utu

    When it comes to Russian or Israeli criminal element . . .

    What is the degree of overlap?

    ot/ What percentage of Israelis are Russian?

  42. Biff says:
    @Realist

    I note that many commenters, to this article, only show up to reply to Karlin’s articles.

    Not me. I’m only here to comment on football.

  43. Biff says:
    @reiner Tor

    Yea, nice ruse they got going. Hard to believe they can print that shit with a strait face, and not accidentally type in there somewhere “fake news”..

  44. @for-the-record

    Leads us to the interesting question whether the clothesmaker was worse than we think or the nazis better …

  45. @Dan Bagrov

    I met a Jewish photographer from Charkov a few years back, funny guy really, who had been working with large format cameras and laughed his ass off about how useless his large-format skills were, now that he had arrived in the West.

    What he couldn’t get over though were the complaints about corruption in the former Soviet Union.

    He said, that was simply the way the country was run – and that – – what the heck! – – there definitely was no other (functioning!!) way to run it – – – so what!!?? – That was his take on these matters. We laughed a lot together. He eventually found a job as a school janitor in Switzerland, being paid 60 000 Sfrs./ year and lived happily ever after…

  46. “The quality of analysis in many leading Russian news outlets wouldn’t pass muster as a term paper at an American high school…”

    Really? The SJWs with the help of the teacher unions have dismantled the schools, K through 12 in the U.S. The teachers are the products of Education Schools at the universities , the dumbest and the dimmest. When the high school graduates get to the universities they are fully primed for indoctrination. “Yeah, free stuff for everyone.”

    • Agree: RadicalCenter
  47. @Anon

    “Communism initially whipped Russians into shape…”

    Rampant alcoholism and life-expectancy at third world levels. Not the sort of shape I’d be looking for.

  48. @Anon

    Individualism creates more capable, more intelligent individual. But individualism also creates large amount of jalousie and hatred in society. Eventually society cannibalize itself.
    Just look at US society now.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @chris
  49. It sounds like there was a failure of moral education in the USSR. When they suppressed Christianity they failed to institute a system of inculcating civic and moral values.

  50. Is the author really saying anything other than that nothing is permanent in the universe and old habits die hard? That that should apply to the present-day US just as much as it did to the former Soviet Union doesn’t strike me as a particularly original thought. People naturally cling to what’s familiar to them but they also need to move with the tide of human history. A former colleague of mine compared that process to rowing a boat across a river. If you row with the current, you have a good chance of landing more or less where you want to land but if you try to row against the current, you’ll just be swept along. Both Trump and Putin are essentially reactionaries, trying to restore what they perceive as past “glory days” of their respective countries. Both will fail. Both are rowing against the current and, in fact, are slowly but surely wrecking their respective countries. It will be interesting to see what the world looks like when they both leave office. The American superpower will probably be in ruins. The Russian Federation will probably have disintegrated. The EU will have survived the attacks of both and China will rule the roost.

  51. OT

    Russian lawmaker suggests asymmetrical response to US sanctions, such as deploying tactical nuclear weapons to Syria.

    http://tass.com/politics/1018605

  52. FB says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    ‘…I fractured my collar bone which needless to say makes typing a chore…’

    Hmm…you type with your collarbone…?

    Does it affect your wanking also…?

  53. Miro23 says:
    @Dmitry

    The value of moderation and balance in political views, viewing many sides of every position – is very important, but also uncommon in most of the world, and even most European countries’ political history. This is where the English intellectual attitude, is the one to be learned from.

    This “English intellectual attitude” was recognizable up to the early 1970′s in for example the Guardian, The Economist or the BBC. It no longer exists. Try finding a “fair and balanced” assessments of Israel/Palestine question in the main stream media, or any in depth study of the 9/11 fakery. If someone like Corbyn shows sympathy for plight of the Palestinians he comes under ferocious 24/7 attack from all levels of the British media.

    It’s neither a bad or good thing that many people are connoisseurs. The bad thing is that, e.g. despite tens of millions of girls obsessed with fashion, there is not domestic equivalent to Chanel or Prada.

    The Chinese and the Japanese have the same problem as they queue outside the luxury stores in Paris. They can produce products that are just a good (and are already doing so, if you look for the cleverly hidden “Made in China” label) – It seems to be more of historic/psychological inferiority complex.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @AKAHorace
    , @Dmitry
    , @Anon
    , @Anon
  54. Sparkon says:

    Well, I guess losing 20 (30?) million young studs in WWII had absolutely no effect on the Russian gene pool in the immediate post-war period, or have I missed something?

    • Replies: @Anon
  55. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Brabantian

    Thanks, I’ll look at jar2

  56. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Sparkon

    I’d say Lenin’s Cheka murdering millions and driving out millions more middle, professional and upper class people in the 1920s and 1930s has a lot more to do with degrading the Russian gene pool than the war.

    I knew someone who did 2 years at a Russian university in the 1970s. There were no washing machines in his apartment building. OK. But no big laundry sinks in the basement either.
    Clothes washing was done in communal bathtubs and kitchen sinks. That was one reason why Russians smelled so badly

    Neighbors explained that the people who designed the apartments back in the 1930s came from families who did the laundry in the river and had no concept of doing laundry inside in hot water.

    Eugene Lyons book Assignment in Utopia esplains the problems of washing diapers in the communal bathtub that served 6 or 7 over crowded apartments

    Since it’s inception the Soviet Union had affirmative action for party members first and then for peasant and proletarian background in everything from high school and university admission to jobs.

    Even if there were many peasants and proles with high potential, the effect was ruinous.

    The combination of servility and bullying may be inherent Russian traits, maybe. But Between murdering and driving out so many professionals and middle class in the 1920s the communists downgraded the gene pool.

    Remember the old Soviet joke. They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work.

    • Troll: FB
    • Replies: @anonymous coward
  57. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Ilyana_Rozumova

    Russia’s been trying to catch up with the West since the late 1600s. Almost 400 years and it hasn’t succeeded yet.

    • Replies: @anonymous coward
  58. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Miro23

    Have you ever shopped at Saks or Bergdorfs? Saks all labels say made in Italy. Bergdorfs all made in France or Italy. There are plenty of that kind of stores in Japan and some in China, Singapore Hong Kong.

    It’s just more prestigious and fun to say I bought it in Paris instead of Bergdorfs or the Chanel store here in town.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
  59. AKAHorace says:
    @Miro23

    Anatoly Karlin,

    How much of the problems of the Russian character today are because those with patriotic or good characters ended up in the Gulag ?

    Miro23,

    Completely agree with you about a lack of moderation in political opinion in the West now. Worrying as this moderation is probably necessary for Democracy to work well. People have replaced this with an absolute faith in law.

    Suspect we disagree about Palestine though.

    • Replies: @utu
  60. @Anon

    Neighbors explained that the people who designed the apartments back in the 1930s came from families who did the laundry in the river and had no concept of doing laundry inside in hot water.

    Yeah, nah. The people who designed the apartments were copying Le Corbusier.

    Also, the rest of your post is also bullshit.

    • Replies: @Anon
  61. @Anon

    Russia’s been trying to catch up with the West since the late 1600s.

    Trick question: catch up in what, exactly?

  62. Dmitry says:
    @Anon

    For things like Dior or Chanel, it would be a lot cheaper to buy it in Paris.

    Prices are much higher for things like Chanel or Dior in Russia, than they are in Paris.

    These companies know in Russia there are rich women, who want to spend more money, not less money. So they just brazenly increase the price in Russia. Maybe they receive even more customers when they increase the price.

    These prestigious brands are like having your own money printing machine. It not difficult to understand why Dior has half the annual revenue of Sony.

    Look at the price labels for ordinary items in Chanel shops:

  63. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @anonymous coward

    Corbusier had laundry rooms with hot water. And bathrooms & kitchens in each apartment. The Russian apartments copied the worst of 19th century and American slum housing. Actually didn’t copy it. They came up with it in their own.
    Assignment in Utopia has many chapters about the deficiencies in Russian apartments Read it.

    So you’re a Marxist who still believes in the dream? Believe what you wish, your dreams are not my concern

    • Replies: @FB
  64. @anonymous coward

    Percentage of population identifying as “non-gender binary.”

    • Replies: @Anon
  65. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dmitry

    I used to shop at Saks and the Chanel shops. Then fashion descended into baggy black universal frump so I stopped.

  66. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dmitry

    I wrote about the Asians, not the Russians.

  67. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Ilyana_Rozumova

    Just look at Russia.

  68. Everybody knows that the Soviet Union collapsed because of the Beatles’ song Back in the USSR.

  69. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:

    David Smushkevich is a Russian Jew immigrant who pulled off the worst Medicare Medi caid fraud ever. Lots of Drs have pulled off a billion dollars worth of medi medi fraud.

    But David Smushkevich defrauded Medicare and Medicare caid of one billion dollars in just one year. He was arrested in 1994. His clinic was in Orange County Ca. His patients were Russian immigrants like himself. Everyone over 65 got Medicare. Under 65 got Medicaid because of alleged disability usually diagnosed by Smushkevich himself.

    Those Russians gave him their medi cards in exchange for $20 a visit. That kind of fraud has been common since Medicare and Medicaid were created on the 60s . The S California Russians perfected it. It could not have been done had not his Russian patients accepted the kickbacks for letting him use their ID numbers.

    I didn’t write Dr Smushkevich because he was not able to provide proof he actually graduates from medical school in any country. He did have a Russian license to practice and someone took his exam to get a California medical license.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
  70. Dmitry says:
    @Miro23

    Japan and America have some of their own luxury brands – so there is reciprocity with France and Italy (where French and Italians are also buying American and Japanese brands).

    But in Russia it’s only going in one direction. It’s like a wealth transfer to French and Italian industry. Even – a “prestige tax” that is paid from Russia to their economy.

    There is also a component of this contributing to their soft power. France and French culture is incredibly popular internationally. I think their industry and brands in this area is part of the reason.

    When there is a terrorist attack in France, non-French people around the world change their Facebook picture to a France flag. When there is a terrorist attack in Russia, no non-Russian or non-Russian speaking people around the world change their facebook to Russian flag.

    France and Italy’s luxury brands are also acting as international ambassadors and cultural transmission. If things like Chanel, Dior, et al, were Russian companies, then it would increase soft power far more than anything (usually incompetent nonsense) the government is trying.

    This soft power also adds to other sectors of the economy – many of the 80 million tourists a year who go to France, are influenced by the image of France created by France’s export industries.

    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @utu
    , @Anonymous
  71. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @for-the-record

    She had angel investor boyfriends from about 1910 on. First one was Balsan.

    She was a real capitalist exploiter. When the Blum French government started the 8 hour workday, overtime pay and worst of all, 2 weeks paid vacation she was furious.

    Historically, the French fashion houses only hired middle class women from prosperous trades and clerical families

    They wanted the fathers of the teen apprentices and husbands of the wives to support them instead of the women living on their small wages. The work was extremely high skill low pay because the men of their families provided much of their living expenses.

  72. peterAUS says:

    Good article.
    Still, not deep enough. I guess there is a reason for that.

    The core problem is, IMHO, absence of Reformation in Russia.

    Anyway, it is what it is. Smart people simply take that into account re everything relater do Russia and Russians.
    Of course there are exceptions.
    Very rare.

    • Replies: @anonymous coward
  73. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @for-the-record

    Chanel and her perfume partners the Wertheimer family had been in conflict over her famous Chanel #5 perfume for years when the Germans conquered France.

    The Wertheimers were Jews. Naturally she welcomed the Germans because the anti Jew laws enabled her to wrest control of the company and the money from the Wertheimers. I don’t remember what happened after the war, just more endless litigation I believe.

    Most of the couture houses resisted the German occupation. Chanel offended by associating with the Germans

    Chanel and her close friend *Vera Bate supposedly were sent to Spain by Churchill to meet with some high ranking Germans to talk about ending the war. Who knows?
    * Vera was allegedly the illegitimate child of English royalty.

  74. chris says:
    @Ilyana_Rozumova

    American society, is in the state that it’s in, not because of individuality, but precisely in proportion in which it is abandoning it. That’s why the current crop is so similar to its Russian antecedents of yore.

    Or was your statement meant to demonstrate the accuracy of Anatoly’s blogger friend?

  75. Miro23 says:
    @Dmitry

    For things like Dior or Chanel, it would be a lot cheaper to buy it in Paris.

    Prices are much higher for things like Chanel or Dior in Russia, than they are in Paris.

    This used to be true, but taking the prices in the video from a Moscow Channel boutique at the current 78 Roubles = 1 Euro, they’re only marginally ahead of the price in Paris. Still very expensive but not worth a shopping trip.

  76. Art Deco says:
    @Anon

    https://www.nytimes.com/1994/09/25/us/2-are-ordered-to-pay-185-million-in-health-insurance-fraud.html

    This article says they submitted $1 bn in claims to hundreds of insurance companies (not just Medicare), that the scheme was ongoing for several years, and that what they ultimately received from the companies amounted to $50 million.

    • Replies: @Anon
  77. FB says:
    @Anon

    You’re talking through your arsehole…like any ignorant piece of trailer trash that gets his ‘worldview’ from zombie TV…

    I lived and attended school in the Eastern block as an exchange student on several occasions in the 1980s…every home I ever went into was fully equipped with all modern conveniences…I never heard of such bullshit as you are describing…Russians [and East Europeans in general] are very tidy and mindful of cleanliness…you never see the untidiness and dirt that you see among the poorer classes in the US…which is of a type seen only in the poorest parts of Africa or India…

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Anon
    , @Anon
  78. utu says:
    @AKAHorace

    How much of the problems of the Russian character today are because those with patriotic or good characters ended up in the Gulag ?

    The survival of the most survivable tautology.

    BTW, the same applies to Jews. People who were to concentration camps and survived were looked at with some suspicion. The question what did they do in order to survive and who did not survive because of them were inescapable. I still remember this in 1960s. The cult of survivor and the Holocaust survivor in particular came later.

    • Replies: @Anon
  79. utu says:
    @Dmitry

    Dmitry joke

    A New Russian brags to his colleague: “Look at my new tie. I bought it for 500 dollars in the store over there.” / “You were conned. You could have paid twice as much for the same one just across the street!”

    • Replies: @Ilyana_Rozumova
  80. @utu

    All over Eastern Europe and Russia all in larger cities are second hand stores supplied by out of style clothing and personal items from the west. I went to see a few of them. Very inexpensive, still I did not see any crowds lined up.

  81. I have to say that the Russians I know, even fanatical Rodnoveri do NOT fall into this category, except perhaps one, long since emigrated to Canada. I hear talk of such attitudes but living breathing examples have evaded me. That said, there is a reflex to bend the system and the connection between poor public goods and tax evasion is seldom addressed.

    • Replies: @Anon
  82. @Thorfinnsson

    Anti-vaxxers are a problem in Russia too. My landlady, an anti gasser is allowed to work at a nursery school advising mothers!

  83. @Thorfinnsson

    That should have been a complaint that every Russian wrist watch I have tried to buy has been rubbish. I still like the look.

  84. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @FB

    East Bloc wasn’t apartments in Moscow in the 1970s, was it? My friend lived in a Moscow apartment. You didn’t .

  85. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Art Deco

    Read the La Times article that focused on the one billion less 50 million from insurance companies. The rest was Medicaid fraud.

  86. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @FB

    Trailer trash? 90212 is my zip code.

  87. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @utu

    I remember some of the earlier books focused a lot on the Jewish kapos who shoveled corpses out of the gas chambers and skinned them for lampshade leather I think it was Weisel and Wiesenthal who wrote about them.

    Then it was all native Poles who did the dirty work in the camps . And French, Dutch, Hungarian, Czech, Yugoslav Estonian Lithuanian Latvinian police and even civilians eagerly shoved the Jews into the cattle cars.

    The story changes every ten years.

  88. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @FB

    Poles, not Russians are very very tidy. Homes in Polish neighborhoods in the Midwest are extremely well kept.

    Russians in California are not noted for tidiness. What they are noted for in Los Angeles is driving Hispanics out of section 8 apartment houses so more poor poor pitiful Russian refugees can move in. They vandalize cars, bang on doors and threaten non Russians to force them to move.

  89. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Miro23

    Some like the label a lot more than they like the goods. Since the 1860s the Paris houses have strict security around the labels. They come in big strips hundreds a strip and are cut apart and sewn on the dress.

    An employer can steal a roll of labels and make a lot of money selling the authentic labels to a knockoff factory.

  90. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:

    The elevator scene is exactly the way American blacks behave when the slightest thing goes wrong.

  91. myself says:
    @Dmitry

    The value of moderation and balance in political views, viewing many sides of every position – is very important

    IMHO, this is probably the most important part of what you wrote – and I agree completely.

  92. myself says:
    @Bolverkr

    I wonder whether there is an ideology which may integrate personal entrepreneurship and responsibility with socialism on a national level. That sounds good, doesn‘t it?

    It’s now beginning to be realized by some people that we need precisely this “integration” (yes, that is an excellent term to use).

    It is slowly forming, in many parts of the world. But like any idea, good or bad, it will take much time and pain for it to be truly born, to really be put into practice in daily life.

    Yet, I’ve seen it in action, even just in primitive form. So it’s not impossible.

    • Replies: @Miro23
    , @jilles dykstra
  93. Anon[300] • Disclaimer says:
    @Philip Owen

    I know a couple all in america now & one has a danish mother.

  94. Anon[300] • Disclaimer says:
    @Daniel Chieh

    Don’t judge other cultures bro

  95. Anonymous[157] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dmitry

    Well, I guess you can take solace in the fact that at one point Coco Chanel’s atelier was staffed and inspired mostly by Russians fleeing the revolution. Christ, she even had a fling with Stravinsky.

    • Replies: @Miro23
  96. Miro23 says:
    @myself

    I wonder whether there is an ideology which may integrate personal entrepreneurship and responsibility with socialism on a national level. That sounds good, doesn‘t it?

    Better to integrate personal entrepreneurship and responsibility with real participative democracy at the lowest level possible (county / state) and minimize power at the national level (with some kind of loose confederation and a figurehead president).

    The problems come from special interests subverting power at the Washington type level.

    And it means 90% of taxes raised and spent locally with minimal national debt issuance (i.e. no money for ME wars).

  97. Anonymous[140] • Disclaimer says:

    I agree with the idea that Russians have a battered wife syndrome with the West.

    No matter what the West does to the Russians, cleave off parts of her territory, wreck its economy, steal Russian assets, Russians can reliably be counted on to crawl back the West for approval. How pathetic.

    To me, there is a lot of credit given to Russia on the internet. But I think this is all Putin who deserves the credit. The average Russian is scarily mediocre and not to be trusted.

  98. Miro23 says:
    @Anonymous

    Well, I guess you can take solace in the fact that at one point Coco Chanel’s atelier was staffed and inspired mostly by Russians fleeing the revolution. Christ, she even had a fling with Stravinsky.

    And what about those great Imperial Russian brands like Faberge ( jewelry), Smirnoff (vodka) and Sobranie (cigarettes) – but not to say that the Bolsheviks didn’t also do brands, with the Ché Guevara look, and radical leftist chic. Trotsky was a fashion item when he wasn’t organizing the elimination of the Russian middle class.

  99. @myself

    This ideology existed, let us say until 2000, in NW European countries
    Then the EU began to destroy it

  100. @Dmitry

    ” Civilization is a process of turning people’s negative inherent aspects into their positive sides. So German’s society today convert their slow, boring, pedantic autism, into carefully made cars, and reliable train timetables. ”
    No idea about Germany.
    Contrary to GB, during WWI it was possible to criticise the war in the German parliament.
    Ludendorff was furious about this
    Erich Ludendorff, ‘Meine Kriegserinnerungen 1914 = 1918′, Berlin, 1918
    E.D.Morel, ‘Truth & The War’, 1916, London
    Morel was sentenced to a harsh jail sentence.

  101. @peterAUS

    The core problem is, IMHO, absence of Reformation in Russia.

    a) The absence of a “Reformation” is a godsend, not a problem.

    b) Unfortunately, Russia had their own “Reformation”. The so-called Old Believers are the Russian Protestants.

    • Replies: @peterAUS
  102. I’ve had numerous friends in Russia proudly explain to me their tax avoidance schemes…

    Not only do these people not realize the ridiculousness of their positions, they wrap them up in a cloak of morality and sanctimony.

    Well, sneer at them if you must, but you’re ridiculously sneering at people who probably resent extortion and are doing what little they can to combat it.

    As soon as the government has [extorted] the money and the soldiers, instead of fulfilling their promises to defend their subjects from foreign enemies, and to arrange things for their benefit, they do all they can to provoke the neighbouring nations and to produce war; and they not only do not promote the internal well-being of their people, but they ruin and corrupt them.

    -Tolstoy THE SLAVERY OF OUR TIMES June 28, 1900

    http://ebooks.gutenberg.us/WorldeBookLibrary.com/slaverytol.htm#1_0_7

    Nincompoopery, you say? Government is not the Messiah, but hey, dem roadz!

  103. @Ilyana_Rozumova

    Agree. Russia’s position on Syria and Iran, most likely, is the main reason for
    this “piece of art”, where glorification of independent thinking is “organically”
    mixed with the alphabet-agencies-style hatred towards “conspiracy theories”.

    • Replies: @Ilyana_Rozumova
  104. @AB_Anonymous

    This article is typical adversary crooked writing not recognized by small brains.
    The author praises, and praises a little bit to introduce himself as objective person and then hits hard.
    Its like person who caresses you face, and then slaps you so hard that you loose some teeth.
    I would not get so upset if he would not use a Russian name. But he uses a Russian name so I do have to call him a Filthy scumbag.

    • Replies: @AB_Anonymous
  105. @anonymous coward

    Russia’s been trying to catch up with the West since the late 1600s.

    Trick question: catch up in what, exactly?

    I had the same reaction and would like to know as well. I’m a product of “the West” and am not so impressed. In other words, the “West” stinks, has for a long time, and keeps getting worse with no relief in sight.

    There has to be something better.

  106. @Dmitry

    These companies know in Russia there are rich women, who want to spend more money,

    True.

    Here’s an anecdote. I once knew a very stylish lady who ran an optical shop which stocked only “high end” stuff. One day some woman strode in, examined the stock, and asked if she didn’t have anything more expensive, so she went into the back, grabbed a hideously awful frame studded with rhinestones (in meretricious manner, I assume), told her they were $10,000.00, (1985 dollars)whereupon the “lady” snatched them up, had her prescription filled, and left a happy customer.

    I have no reason to doubt that story and every reason to believe it, and there’s no doubt a moral in there somewhere.

  107. @Ilyana_Rozumova

    You see, you’re talking about “conspiracy”, and there’s no such thing… LOL)
    Nevertheless, I agree again.

  108. CanSpeccy says: • Website

    “Walk into any crowd of decent size in Moscow or (probably) any other Russian city in the summer and you’ll get the distinct impression that most people haven’t yet heard of deodorant”

    Walk into any crowd of any size in any place prior to around 1950, and you’d have got the distinct impression that most people hadn’t heard of deodorant.

    And the thing is, that the cleanness that is possible only for rich Americans and a few others, is really the anomaly. People, like all animals, smell. I distinctly recall the smell of people when I was a child in late 1940′s Britain. Then nine out of ten houses had no indoor toilet, let alone a bathroom. If people bathed at all, and many did not, they did so in a tin tub, usually no more than once a week.

    And the thing was, that the smell of people was then just a natural thing, something rarely to be remarked upon and not altogether unpleasant either. In fact, the general failure of America marriage, and the failure of Americans to achieve anywhere near a replacement fertility rate, may well be largely due to a combination of deodorants and the pill, which prevent women signalling receptivity by smell.

    The problem for many people today is that they wash so much that the natural skin flora is disrupted, which may result in colonization by particularly odious bacteria, which create an effluvium worse than that of the totally unwashed unless copiously treated with antibiotic deodorants and synthetic aromatics.

    In any case, if you live with the unwashed for long enough you will likely get used to the smell, which in time will seem as natural as the smell of a cow barn or a chicken run.

    • Replies: @AaronB
    , @jacques sheete
  109. peterAUS says:
    @anonymous coward

    The absence of a “Reformation” is a godsend, not a problem.

    Disagree, of course. Don’t think we should debate that.
    Either way, it is what it is. Blabbing here won’t change anything. Except take time away from something else. Like a walk along beach, for example.

  110. AaronB says:
    @CanSpeccy

    I often spend a week in the backcountry camping and hiking, without showering or deodorant.

    The weird thing I find is that by the 3rd day, I stink, but by the 5th day, I don’t smell at all! At the end of these trips ill often go straight to a friend’s house – they’re shocked when I tell them I haven’t showered in a week, and say I don’t smell at all. So I know I’m not just getting used to the stink!

    I always wondered how people used to endure the stench before we had daily showering and deoderants, but I now think the body has a natural mechanism that reduces odor – probably bacteria of some kind.

    I think in France people shower like twice a week, no? Americans definitely shower too much and use too much shampoo and the like – a victory for consumerism, like the absurd idea that you have to eat an incredibly wide variety of food to get “proper” nutrition that all Americans believe. In most countries people eat the same two or three dishes every day.

    That being said, I was once on the subway in Kiev and was absolutely overwhelmed by the sheer reek coming from shabby looking dude standing near me – but he must have been on only his 3rd day since a shower :)

    • Replies: @Sparkon
    , @CanSpeccy
  111. @CanSpeccy

    And the thing was, that the smell of people was then just a natural thing, something rarely to be remarked upon and not altogether unpleasant either. In fact, the general failure of America marriage, and the failure of Americans to achieve anywhere near a replacement fertility rate, may well be largely due to a combination of deodorants and the pill, which prevent women signalling receptivity by smell.

    Now that’s very interesting.

    I do love the scent of women, generally, but unfortunately many seem to insist on desecrating it with various masks.

    While I’m not sure that the ancient Greek, Xenophon dealt with odor he came pretty close, and probably should have come closer.

    (10.7) “Don’t think then, my dear”‘, Ischomachus told me he said, ‘”that I enjoy the colour of white lead more than the colour of your own skin, but just as the gods made horses prefer horses and cattle prefer cattle, and sheep sheep, human beings prefer the natural human body. (10.8) You might successfully fool someone outside the household by this kind of deception, but insiders always get caught when they try to deceive one another. For they can be found out when they get up in the morning before they have time to prepare or they are caught out by sweat or put to the test by tears and exposed completely by washing.”‘
    (10.9) ‘What, by the gods’, I asked, ‘was her response to that?’ ‘What else than that’, he said, ‘she never put on make-up again, but tried to present herself with a clean face and suitably dressed. And she asked me if I could advise her how she might look beautiful in reality, and not just appear to be beautiful.

    267. How to train a wife. Athens, 4th cent. B.C. (Xenophon, On Household Management [Oeconomicus] 6.17-10, exc. G)

  112. Sparkon says:
    @AaronB

    the absurd idea that you have to eat an incredibly wide variety of food to get “proper” nutrition that all Americans believe.

    That’s an incredibly broad brush you’re wielding, and I’m curious how you know what “all Americans believe.”

    Contrary to what you think, I consume a basic, red-blooded American diet of meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, milk, butter, cheese & eggs, just like my grandparents did. Last night I enjoyed a delicious pot-roast dinner with broccoli, carrots, and a small portion of chuck steak that had simmered all day in my slow cooker, just like Granny used to do it.

    I can only speak for myself, but I rather enjoy the feeling of cleanliness, even when I’m alone. And I don’t think I’m alone in that regard. I think most civilized people enjoy being clean, especially when an encounter with the opposite sex is on the agenda.

    I don’t like scroungy, unkempt dames either. That’s what the feminists have given us, you know.

    Neat, tidy, well-groomed; that was my USA from the 1950s and early 1960s. It’s mostly just a fond memory now.

    • Replies: @AaronB
  113. cseanz says:

    Thank you, Art Deco, for enunciating exactly what I was thinking. If this guy is not a former Soviet apparatichk, then I’m a monkey’s uncle. He opens by stating a whole slew of strawmen, and just plows ahead. The thing I was insulted by most was the “hyperinflation” nonsense. I lived in the 70′s and I remember the inflation, and all the stupid moves to counter it, but hyper it was not. I didn’t understand the things causing it like I do now, but it didn’t wipe our everyone’s savings, nor did it make it dicey to earn living or provide for a family. Thanks again.

  114. AaronB says:
    @Sparkon

    Most Americans think they have to vary their meals continuously – and include many different kinds of fruit and veggies to be healthy. They live in terror of nutrient deficiency – it’s one of the drivers of obesity in America. A meal of steak and mashed potatoes, with maybe some broccoli on the side, is all you need. And you should be eating mostly the same meals daily.

    Americans think you need an insane variety of food constantly or you’ll drop dead of scurvy – and this is a propaganda victory for the food companies, of course.

    Clean is good – but like everything, it can be overdone. And like everything, Americans overdo it.

    I was talking about smell – when I’m out in the backcountry, being as clean as I am in the city isn’t a priority, or even an option. To my surprise I made an nteresting discovery – that my body has a mechanism which eliminates smell, and the American notion that you must shower daily to be civilized is merely a propaganda victory for the soap industry.

    • Replies: @Sparkon
  115. Sparkon says:
    @AaronB

    Most Americans think they have to vary their meals continuously…
    Americans think you need an insane variety of food constantly

    Hyperbole from the Book of Jobs.

    Again, you claim to know what most Americans think. I live here, and I don’t have that insight. What is the source of your special knowledge?

    To be frank, I see all your simplistic and broad sweeping over-generalizations about American diet as thinly-screened cover for you to get in some cheap shots, and engage in the popular sport of American-bashing.

    We humans are the descendants of hunter-gatherers. There is no reason to think there is something exceptional about a varied diet, or that Americans are the only people on Earth who might consume a varied diet. We eat a lot of different things because we are omnivores. Many fruits and vegetables are available only for a relatively short season but now modern transportation makes valuable foods like bananas available virtually throughout the year. As long as the food you are eating is a healthy choice without artificial additives, you may eat a balanced diet of whatever natural foods satisfy you. I eat high-value foods like meat, eggs, milk, broccoli, carrots because I know they supply virtually all necessary protein and nutrients, but I also take a couple supplements. I don’t enjoy cooking, and so I use the crock-pot a lot. And I also make smoothies.

    But the obesity epidemic certainly has not been brought on by people consuming different kinds of fruits and veggies, but rather by people consuming too many calories in large quantities of processed foods with–since 1971–high-fructose corn syrup as an ingredient, along with gallons of sody pop, including the insidious, artificially flavored diet sodas containing chemicals that break-down into compounds that destroy a beneficial enzyme in the gut.

    “Aspartame likely promotes obesity by interfering with IAP activity.”

    This Is How Aspartame Causes Obesity

    Aspartame was invented in 1965, and approved in 1981 after some shady, behind-the-scenes machinations by — wait for it — Donald Rumsfeld.

    • Replies: @AaronB
  116. AaronB says:
    @Sparkon

    I am a firm believer in broad sweeping over generalizations. I beliefs it is an essential intellectual skill that was widely practiced in the Great Age of the West – pick up any book from before WW2 roughly, and you will find magnificent sweeping generalizations of the kind that will send shivers down your spine. I am a synthesizer – I oppose the modern trend to break up everything, including intellectual opinions, into tiny unrelated atoms that reveal little, and I oppose the fear of sweeping judgements because they may be wrong. I build up rather than break down.

    Americans are constantly being told they are lacking this or that nutrient and that they can only be healthy if they eat lots of this or that food – its scare tactics to increase sales by the food companies. It leads ultimately to overeating.

    During the period of my life when I had 8% body fat, I was drinking 6 cans of diet coke a day. This lasted years.

    Food should be kept simple – forget about nutrients and eat the same two or three foods most of the time. Don’t focus too much on health, focus on deliciousness. Never think in terms of carbs proteins etc. On holidays, pig out, then through in a few fast days throughout the year.

    Voila.

  117. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @AaronB

    Maybe that’s the problem with the Russians. They are washing too often to smell good but not enough to not smell at all.

    • Replies: @AaronB
  118. AaronB says:
    @CanSpeccy

    I think that is the problem – either wash every day or very infrequently.

  119. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @jacques sheete

    And Napoleon, from his correspondence, appears to have preferred Josephine unwashed.

  120. inertial says:

    None of this has anything to do with the true Homo Sovieticus, who is now long extinct.

  121. @jacques sheete

    That’s an interesting quote. So Ancient Greek makeup was like geisha makeup, with the whitening of face by lead. Of course it was poison, and Ischomachus did good to his wife’s health (unwittingly) by telling her not to use it.

    On the topic of body odor, there is a curious link between it and ethnicity.

    Authors of the study reported that over 97% of people who are of European or African descent have the smelly underarm sweat gene.

    On the flip side, most East Asians and 30% to 50% of those in Southern Asia, the Pacific Islands, Central Asia, Asia Minor and indigenous Americans do not have stinky armpits. Day told Live Science that almost all Koreans lack the gene that makes their pits smell awful.

    https://nextshark.com/why-koreans-dont-wear-deodorant/

  122. “The Sovieticus Nincompoopus is [...] a man (or woman) who will take advantage (even feel entitled to) any and all state benefits without feeling obliged to pay taxes or contribute to the society providing them in any way. This is a person of no principles, and not even the ability to understand the hypocrisy or irony of his (her) actions.”

    What about the person that takes a principled approach, knowing full well the result will be the collapse of the system? One who feels that being compelled to participate in such a system is nothing more than thuggery, and if you’re going to compel participation, then participate we will and thereby put some empirical backing to Kant’s categorical imperative:

    Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.

    That is, we will prove the moral bankruptcy of such a position by participating in the universalizing of its thuggery to the point of it’s collapse.

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