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 Russian Reaction Blog / AdminTeasers

karlin-cliodynamicsThis appears to be my 1,000th post at The Unz Review (including the archives from my old blogs).

Coincidentally, it will also be my 100th post this year, which would represent an almost threefold increase in intensity relative to 2015-2016.

So I guess now is as good a time as any to launch my first ever fundraising drive.

Back when I was in California I didn’t feel too comfortable asking for gibs, since I spent most of my working time on unrelated freelance jobs and my volume of blogging didn’t merit much in the way of donations. Since then, though, I’ve moved back to Russia, and started doing all this effectively full-time.

Now please don’t feel obligated. Only give if you like what I do, if you can afford to, and if a much more deserving charity or cause doesn’t come to mind. I am not going to starve anytime soon, and my long-term financial plans still revolve around writing books.

That said, if you like what I do, want to see more of it and sooner, and are not yourself impoverished, I could certainly do with your alms.

(1) Sponsor me on Patreon
(2) Payment to my email address with Google Wallet
(3) Paypal donation
(4) If you bank with Wells Fargo, you can use Surepay (go to “Transfer and Pay,” “Send Money”) to send money to my email address (advantage: No extra fees)
(5) Bitcoin: 17tDufZUEK3DvQh3rY75F3xtVgxj4TzdtB

This is my first time panhandling, and I haven’t thoroughly tested all of these methods, so please let me know if anything goes wrong. I would also very much like to know if there are any good alternatives to the above methods.

Thanks in advance for your generosity!

***

Moving on, a few administrative announcements.

Following my blog

Back in the “golden age” of blogging a decade ago, feeds and feed readers were all the rage. Then along came Twitter and Facebook, Google Reader closed down, and the golden age was over. However, with Twitter’s problems, I suspect we might soon see a resurgence of the old ways.

So why not get ahead of the curve if you haven’t already. If you’re the sort of person who likes keeping up with many different blogs and columnists, I suggest getting a feed reader such as Feedly, or The Old Reader (which reproduce much of the functionality of the much missed Google Reader). To follow my blog in particular, just insert one of the following feeds:

A few months ago, I also set up a Twitter bot that automatically reposts everything I write here and at my other blogs – follow https://twitter.com/KarlinBot.

Last but not least, you can also keep tabs on my recent posts not just from The Unz Review’s interface, but also from my main website at http://akarlin.com/.

***

Blogging Plans

Almost a year ago, I carried out a large survey on what I could do to improve my product.

The one thing for which there was overwhelming demand for was more in the way of reviews. Unfortunately, I singularly failed at that. The pace of history has picked up radically of late, and commenting on breaking news stories has been trumping other considerations.

Still, the publicity (and monetary) success of Gregory Cochran’s recent review of Testosterone Rex by Cordelia Fine does demonstrate there is a demand for good reviews, so I’ll commit to filling in this lacuna.

I wouldn’t want to fail my 2017 predictions, after all.

  • I will write 30+ book reviews: 50%.
  • I will write 5+ game reviews: 50%.
  • I will write fewer than 5 movie reviews: 80%.

***

New and Ongoing Projects

Some other stuff I’m doing at the moment:

ROGPR

Weekly podcast on the Russian Occupation Government with Kirill Nesterov and @smug_vatnik on Russian realities from an IQ/HBD-realistic perspective.

We are the official podcast of United Russia and the Republican Party. /s

If you speak Russian, or are learning it, you can follow it at ROGPR.com or directly at SoundCloud.

Note that I also have a Russian language blog at http://akarlin.ru/, though I don’t update it all that regularly.

Books

ami-book-name As I mentioned above, now that I have more free time (no longer have to do freelance work), I can finally get on with my book plans.

While I’m still very serious about getting Dark Lord of the Kremlin and Apollo’s Ascent written, I am taking a small break to write a shorter book on my Age of Malthusian Industrialism concept.

Incidentally, I need a name for it. Looking for something that crisply conveys at least some of the following ideas/themes/feelings:

(1) Far from the best possible outcome, though not catastrophic either
(2) Industrial economy
(3) Idiocracy
(4) Overpopulation – due to selection for higher fertility preferences reversing the demographic transition. my estimate is that our current technological level translates to a theoretical global carrying capacity of approximately 100 billion people.
(5) Possible the “Clarkian selection” that will follow afterwards.
(6) The idea of the millennial delay/opportunity cost it would impose.

Current preference is “Dark Equilibrium,” but its not optimal.

Papers

In the meantime, I’m also currently involved in writing two papers, which I hope will be ready to be published sometime by the summer.

***

Updated Blogroll

I also have a new blogroll and quotes page, which I will soon integrate with my column’s sidebar at Unz.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Admin, Blogging, Open Thread, Panhandling 

No, I haven’t been murdered by SJWs yet, was just rather ill the first week of this month. And then the next week had to be devoted to getting up to date with RL things.

Anyhow, with so much going down all around the world – Syria, Ukraine, the French elections, the climate change conference wrapping up in Paris – I am looking forwards to getting back to blogging.

Posts will resume this Sunday.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Admin 

So as you might have noticed I took a somewhat extended hiatus in the past two months.

This was pre-arranged with Ron Unz, as was the reduction in the number of my slots on the front page from three to one. I had to take care of some very time-demanding business related issues. But this is all done now and I now have more free time than I’ve had in years, so consequent blogging should henceforth be very productive.

***

Now of course blogging is never just about time but also about motivation and productivity. And during my hiatus I’ve thought about those two issues a lot as well and have come up with some tentative solutions. I’ll share them on the off chance that they end up helping other bloggers and writers.

  1. MIRI_office

    MIRI/CFAR HQ

    Philosophical argument against procrastination. I visited a LessWrong/CFAR (Center for Applied Rationality) meetup a couple of months ago. Highly liberal, ~135 IQ people discussing arcane topics on probability distributions, maps and territories, etc. A bit too arcane for me, at any rate. That said, the one extremely useful thing I took away from it and which has since been positively influencing me in my everyday life is a certain simple but really quite profound way of looking at procrastination. When you are procrastinating, you are essentially trusting your future self to do the work that your present self does not want to. But if you make a habit of procrastination, of being unreliable, would it then be rational of your present self to depend on your (presumably equally fallible and unreliable) future self to do that what your present self is too lazy and slothful to do today? It’s grossly irrational and irresponsible! So you make the rational decision to stop procrastinating and finish up your tasks after all. The whole philosophical exercise acts as a sort of positive feedback loop that gradually chips away at habits of procrastination until you become very disciplined and reliable, at which point – rather ironically – it actually becomes rational of you to practice procrastination every now and then. It’s not bad to take a break like that, in fact I suspect it’s psychologically healthy in the longterm. And any sustained return to procrastination would be auto-corrected.

  2. Establishing a “working reserve” of blog posts. One potential pitfall is that when you don’t write anything for a while, a sort of paralyzing apathy can frequently set in. You are thinking that you really need to publish something truly deep and amazing to “justify” the previous delay in new posts, but as the scope of any such “exculpatory” post gets ever more monumental with each passing day of continued inactivity, a spiral of sluggishness inevitably sets in. The obvious solution to this is to write a number of posts prepared in advance for those days when you are too busy or lazy to write anything new and keep them as part of a permanent reserve (much like how to cook effectively you need to have ingredients mise en place).
  3. CaptureImproving access to sources of material and creative inspiration. It is an oft cited truism that writers need to read more anyone else so as to get material and inspiration for their own posts (articles, books, etc). This is just one consequence of society operating as a hive mind on the macro scale; cutting yourself off from it means impairing your own intelligence and creativity. But since there is a low signal-to-noise ratio on the Internet, there also has to be some pretty rigorous filtering in place to prevent one from engaging in aimless browsing (an easy habit to fall into). My latest idea in this eternal battle is to create a custom home page aggregating all the links I tend to find most useful on one page, so I am never tempted to browse at random from page to page. On the right is my implementation of this to give you an idea of what I’m talking about (click to enlarge). The HTML file can stored locally.
  4. Continued commitment to the Evernote/Secret Weapon productivity system. Which is covered at length in this (admittedly dated) post. I will try to get it updated fairly soon.

Well, that’s pretty much it! Blogging frequency should pick up as I build up my “working reserve,” and hopefully I should be back to ~3 front page slots and regular posting by start of September. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in the works, including big posts exploring the idea of constructing an index of (comprehensive) national power for 2015, and a sneak preview into the core ideas of Apollo’s Ascent, the book that I’m writing that aims to unify psychometrics, world history, and economic growth/innovation theory.

Incidentally, I will also be giving a speech on the ideas of Apollo’s Ascent at a forthcoming conference on “The Future of Politics” on October 18th, 2015. Tickets can be bought here. This is part of a series of transhumanist conferences organized by Hank Pellissier in the Bay Area over the past few years. Apart from being a transhumanist and a Managing Director at IEET, Pellissier is also very much interested in psychometrics, having written the book Brighter Brains: 225 Ways to Elevate or Injure IQ which is a definitive aggregating of existing scientific knowledge on the subject. One of his current projects is, amongst other things, aimed at deworming children in Africa, which is probably one of the most cost-effective ways of fostering development in Africa and elevating average global IQs.

***

Finally, I have also taken the opportunity to update the Russian Reaction’s blogroll, as well as add a bunch of inspirational quotes. You can access it below.

While I don’t agree wholly or even mostly with many of the people on it, I do find them all to but at the very least interesting and noteworthy. At such, excluding the multi-group efforts that appear in the first category, it would be interesting to get some statistics about the list. Take what it says about me as you will.

1) There are 3 women out of a total of 68. That’s 4.4% women… pretty low, but nonetheless twice as much percentage-wise as in Charles Murray’s database of eminent figures in Human Accomplishment.

2) Ideologically:

  • 29% Conservative – Note that I classify NRxers as such, though granted their definition of conservatism relative to society’s as a whole is… somewhat different.
  • 28% Moderate – Note that a substantial part of society – SJWs, cuckservatives, etc. – defines anyone who takes HBD/IQ seriously as a raving far right loon, even though some who fit that description like Robert Lindsay are outright commies! so I will be using a more commonsense definition for people who just appear to be largely scientific/a-ideological).
  • 12% Liberal – E.g. Jayman, or someone like Pinker who’s work I follow even though he doesn’t appear in a blogroll.
  • 4% Left – E.g., Robert Lindsay.
  • 12% Anti-Imperialist – Those people who tend to combine Left/Alt-Right elements e.g. The Saker who simultaneously supports People’s Republics and talks about Anglo-Zionists. The main enemy is globalism.
  • 10% Right – As in hard right: Spencer, Greg Hood, Heartiste, etc.
  • 4% X – Those people whose views are so radically idiosyncratic that they defy categorization, e.g. the Russian blogger and political gadfly Yarowrath who supports Putin, national socialism, pontificates about the coming era of transhuman “emergence,” worships the Chaos Gods, supports LGBT rights, and plays FPS video games while jacked up on LSD.

3) Thematically:

  • 29% Politics – Which also includes geopolitics, international relations, economics, etc.
  • 4% History – Including cliodynamics and economic history.
  • 15% HBD – Involves a couple better described as just non-ideological anthropologists.
  • 6% Psychometrics – HBD and psychometrics do overlap a lot, but this category tends to more technical discussions of g with less of the social and political commentary you see in the former.
  • 4% Game/Masculinity – I.e., Heartiste, Roosh, Forney.
  • 7% Transhumanism – There are actually some fascinating convergences between H+ and psychometrics, HBD, and even NRx which is especially evident in the Bay Area. I suppose what unites all of them to some extent is the willingness both to think big and to think outside the box, fox-like.
  • 6% NRx – Neoreaction, Dark Enlightenment, etc. Ties in a lot of these themes.
  • 18% Russia – Self-explanatory.
  • 10% Ukrainian Conflict – Self-explanatory.

***

The new blogroll:

Against the Mainstream

  • Unz Review – Hosts about 20% of the people on this list
  • Russia Insider – Uncovering Western propaganda against Russia
  • Taki’s Mag – Entertaining columnists like the Derb, Jim Goad, and Taki himself
  • Off Guardian – Exposing the Guardianista phenomenon
  • JRL – David Johnson aggregates Russia news, takes care to present all sides

Top Thinkers (Mostly HBD/IQ)

  • Steve Sailer – Our Lord, the King of the HBDsphere
  • West Hunt – Cochran & Harpending’s 10,000 Year Explosion
  • hbd* chick – The Hajnal Files, or: Why banging your cousins is bad
  • Razib Khan – Population genetics plus history
  • Emil Kirkegaard – Possibly the highest IQ IQ-blogger
  • Craig Willy – EU affairs journalist skirting borders of respectability
  • James Thompson – The most comprehensive IQ-blogger
  • Pumpkin Person – Possibly the most entertaining IQ-blogger
  • JayMan – Black-Asian American proving HBD with maps and stats+
  • Robert Lindsay – HBD from a Hard Left perspective
  • Steve Hsu – Adding 1,000s of S.D.’s to IQ via CRISPR
  • Peter Turchin – Mathematizing history with cliodynamics
  • Peter Frost – Heretical anthropologist, genetic pacification
  • Pseudoerasmus – Economic historian who understands HBD
  • Ron Unz – The person who ensures many on the list here don’t starve

Top Russia Watchers

  • Patrick Armstrong – Retired diplomat producing invaluable Russia Sitreps
  • Alexander Mercouris (fb) – Very erudite columnist on Russian politics, IR, and Greece.
  • Paul Robinson – Academic professional on Russian history and excellent blogger
  • Danielle Ryan (RI) – An up and coming journalist on Russia
  • Dmitry Trenin – The intellectual “intermediary” between official Moscow and D.C.
  • Mark Chapman – Self proclaimed Kremlin Stooge; prominently kicks Russophobe ass
  • Dmitry Gorenburg – Expert on the Russian military
  • Sean Guillory – Academic skeptical of neocons, capitalism, and Putin
  • András Tóth-Czifra – Presents the yuppie Bruseels liberal perspective on Russia with texts
  • Mark Adomanis – Presents the yuppie Beltway liberal perspective on Russia with charts
  • Jacques Sapir (fr) – French expert on the Russian economy
  • Xin Zhang (cn) – Presents the Shanghai technocrat perspective on Russia in Chinese
  • Maxim Kononenko (ru) – Programmer, graphomaniac columnist, moderate Putinist
  • Sergey Zhuravlev (ru) – Russian economy expert
  • Sputnik i Pogrom (ru) – Egor Prosvirnin et al., or: The closest thing Russia has to a US-style Alt Right
  • Yarowrath (ru) – H+, 14/88, and Chaos Magic FTW!

Ukraine

  • The Saker – Former military expert now specializing in geopolitics and the Donbass War
  • Fort Russ – Invaluable translations from Russian and Ukrainian media
  • Gleb Bazov – Perhaps the single best Twitter source to follow for coverage of Donbass War
  • Graham W. Phillips – British video journalist working at ground zero
  • Vladimir Suchan – Skeptical take on Russia’s “betrayal” of Novorossiyan resistance
  • Colonel Cassad (ru) – Military expertise and comprehensive coverage with the best maps
  • Anatoly Shary (ru) – Ukrainian journalist in exile from new democracy covering junta crimes

Top Intellectuals

Inspiring Quotes

He who does not love his mother more than other mothers and his country more than other countries, loves neither his mother nor his country. – Charles de Gaule (my view on nationalism)

When will Russia get an idea for which one can live for and create for? Galina Dmitrievna, – for our children, our grandchildren, for our Motherland, Russia, it always was, is, and will be worth living for and creating for. What else is there? However we might try to come up with a national idea, it has to be said directly: There is nothing closer to someone than his family, his close ones, and his own country. – Vladimir Putin (my view on ideology)

There is no left or right, only nationalists and globalists. – Marine Le Pen (my view on ideology)

After communists, most of all I hate anti-communists. – Sergei Dovlatov (both tend to be faggots)

Whoever speaks of Europe is wrong. Europe is a geographical expression. – Bismarck (my view on the “Is Russia Europe or Asia?” debates)

I am an atheist, but an Orthodox atheist! – Alexander Lukashenko (my view on religion)

He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. – Luke 22:36, NIV (they don’t teach this kind of Christianity nowadays)

Everyone who isn’t us is an enemy. – Cersei Lannister (clannishness defined in 7 words)

Personally, I’ve been hearing all my life about the Serious Philosophical Issues posed by life extension, and my attitude has always been that I’m willing to grapple with those issues for as many centuries as it takes. – Patrick Hayden (my view on life extension)

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age. – H.P. Lovecraft (my view on the ultimate fate of the human noosphere)

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Admin, AdminRR 

russian-reaction

So who are you and why should I read you?

I am a businessman, journalist, and talentless PhotoShopper based in the SF Bay Area. My blogging career began in 2008, when I perceived an increasingly absurd discrepancy between the doom-mongering rhetoric of the Western media towards Russia, which painted it as a “weak,” “dying,” and “finished” country in between hysterics about Putin’s plans to subjugate Middle-Ear- oops, I mean Europe… and its rather mundane and mediocre reality.

I launched my first blog with the intention of clearing up these myths not so much because they were Russophobic as because they were logically implausible or just factually wrong. Personally, the thing I’m most proud of there was modeling and correctly predicting Russia’s demographic turnaround. It is not an exaggeration to say I was a lone voice in the wilderness on this question in 2008.

I will not go into any further detail, because many of you will either be already familiar with my Russia blog, or simply uninterested. If neither of that applies to you, please feel free to explore my extensive, hand-selected posts archive here: http://darussophile.com/start/

Soon my interests soon began to extend well beyond the Eurasian carapace into topics such as geopolitics, futurism, and psychometrics. I found it expedient to launch a second blog to explore these topics. I started reading Steve and Razib. I leafed my way through the Index Librorum Prohibitorum of our days – books by Murray and Rushton, Lynn and Jensen – and found the case for human biodiversity to be near incontrovertible. I started exploring the ways in which human biological differences might have influenced history (e.g. the classic puzzle of why the Industrial Revolution began in NW Europe), affected the present (e.g. why are rich countries rich and poor countries poor?), and what they could portend for the future of our civilization (e.g. will China manage to converge to First World living standards? Will India? Will Russia? Will Africa?). And what practical lessons can we draw from these findings in areas from immigration policy (probably restrict it) to the welfare state (surprising wide range of legitimate arguments)?

It is through these online debates and discussions that I first encountered Ron Unz.

We met at the somewhat arcane intersection of Chinese academic performance, the urban/rural IQ divide, and the Flynn effect. Why are East Asian IQs seemingly so much more resilient than European IQs to negative socio-economic influences? Could it be an artifact of poor sampling? Or maybe we were just comparing the wrong tests? On the other hand, Unz’s theory conflicts with historical anecdotal data, and opens up an additional can of worms in the sense that it makes the question of why China didn’t have an Industrial Revolution first all the more puzzling. But the balance of evidence swings one way then another. In the 2012 PISA, Vietnamese students did as well as the Germans and almost two (!) standard deviations better than the Indians had done in 2009, even though Vietnamese per capita incomes are at India’s level and nowhere near Germany’s. That’s some major support for Unz’s theory of the East Asian Exception!

This particular debate encapsulates what I find so entrancing about HBD and psychometrics. They have immense explanatory power. Nothing else explains why the wealth of nations is so unevenly distributed, or why China started growing so fast after it threw away its Maoist shackles, quite as well and convincingly. But they also open up new conundrums almost as soon as the old ones are resolved.

My blogging fell to near zero in 2014 as I concentrated on real life(TM) things. But I missed the old days of blogging and the indepth research that went into it; quickfire exchanges on Twitter were no substitute. By a happy coincidence, Ron emailed me with an offer to join The Review just as I was about to sit down and update my websites in preparation for resumed blogging.

He believes that my interests in HBD/psychometrics, geopolitics, and Eurasia tie in well with the general themes of The Review. I sure think (hope?) so too, and for my part I am am honored to work with him, and alongside Razib and Steve, two bloggers I have long followed and respected, and the many other great and wonderful columnists who call The Review their home. I am looking forwards to this.

Why the Russian Reaction?

I am a Russian reacting to things. And many people would call me a reactionary. (Though I am broadly sympathetic to NRx, I don’t formally identify with them. They have too many unsubstantiated ideas, like their strange hard-on for monarchy, and rejection of climate change science. It is an ideology like any other and virtually all ideologies have their own specific blinkers).

What are you going to write about?

I will aim to produce about one post per day spread across the following major topics:

  • HBD and Psychometrics – Analysis of topical news from this perspective. New research papers. My own theories/connections between this and various aspects of world politics and history.
  • Geopolitics and the Ukrainian conflict.
  • Russian politics, economics, demography; its portrayal in the Western media.

Apart from this I will also occasionally do book reviews and write posts about futurism, transhumanism, energetics, ancestral health, biohacking, SJW insanities, topical scandals like Gamergate, and other topics that interest me (and hopefully at least some of you).

Where else can I follow you?

  • @akarlin88 on Twitter.
  • Subscribe to me on Facebook (nothing personal… but please don’t Friend me unless I know you).
  • I have some vague plans to start doing YouTube videos. Will update if it happens.

Otherwise, I am working on a book tentatively titled APOLLO’S ASCENT, about the role of intelligence in world history. My basic thesis is that the rate and global distribution of technological and, consequently, economic progress is strongly dependent on the absolute numbers of literate, high-IQ people. Naturally, it ties in quite strongly with the themes I will be blogging about, so I’ll definitely be throwing a lot of ideas out of it here (and your ideas… into it?).

What is your moderation policy?

It is not my choice, but premoderation is system-wide on this website. That said, it does allow me to add exceptions, so I’ll be continuously doing that.

I rarely censor/ban. When I do, it will almost inevitably be for one of the following reasons:

  • Particularly gratuitous ad homs, personal attacks, and/or slander against me or other commentators.
  • Spam.
  • Idiotic unfunny trolling. I tolerate intelligent trolling, and I tolerate funny trolling. But if you are neither intriguing us nor entertaining us, then you are just taking up space. Go do it elsewhere.
  • SIFs (Single Issue Fanatics). You know that one guy who goes on and on and on about the Federal Reserve, the Rothschilds, and how 9/11 was carried out by the Bilderberg Group? Without the option of downvoting him into well-deserved oblivion, like you can do on Disqus, there is no choice but to eradicate his ramblings so that the rest of us sheeple can have a normal conversation.
  • Crude ethnonationalist propaganda (including Holocaust denial). What is the difference between racism and race realism? Half Sigma: “The race realist understands The g Factor, The Bell Curve, and other works of scientific research. The racist apparently thinks that because Barack Obama is half black, it’s impossible for him to have a significantly higher g than John McCain.” I specifically allowed this comment from “David” to use as an example of what I do not want to see here. If you insist on polluting the comments thread with rants about “WHITE EXTINCTION AND WHITE GENOCIDE,” I am certain you would find a more appreciative reception at a certain weather-related forum.

I am absolutely sure that the above will not concern 99%+ of you. But it’s always good to get these things clear straight off the bat.

Anything else?

That’s it. The Russian Reaction begins now.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Admin, Russian Reaction 
putin-riding-bird

Flying away.

I feel the time has come to bid a dignified farewell to this blog that I have lovingly labored on for many a year.

Between the dopamine-fueled attractions of 140 character quickfire tweets, and the chronic lack of time for writing the far more detailed posts demanded as part and parcel of writing not one but two blogs in an era of accelerated historical change, I have come to the conclusion that continuing with Da Russophile is unrealistic. It’s pointless to go seven months without posting and still pretend you are blogging. With the failure to give Da Russophile a new lease of life by inviting in guest authors – exclusively due to my own lack of energy for such a reorganization – I believe it’s time to put the final capstone on what has hitherto been a major part of my intellectual life.

Commentators – on the whole, you’ve been absolutely great. You were indispensable in creating, feeding, and grooming this little critter for the seven glorious years of its existence. If not for your support and feedback, I’d have been done with Russia blogging within my first seven weeks. Thank you for all the time and mindpower you invested into the discussions here.

No doubt you will have many questions of me at this point. I will try to answer them as best I can.

Is the blog going to remain online?

Of course! I have spent far too much time on Da Russophile to just throw it all away, and far too many people appreciate having the old posts around for me to deprive them of it in good consciousness.

Moreover, I have spent the past two evenings compiling a comprehensive, thematically organized archive of all the better posts ever published on this blog: START HERE.

Will there be any new posts?

As a matter of fact, yes. About three. In the next few days, I will publish a much-requested Russia demographic update; a compilation of my Ukraine coverage as the conflict there moved from a standoff in the Crimea to war in the Donbass; and an overall “summing up” post dealing with how well (or poorly) Russia has performed since I first started started to challenge the Western consensus on Russia as a “weak,” “dying,” and “finished” country.

After that, Da Russophile will enter “archive mode.” There might be a few new posts, but only to inform anyone still following of major new updates, e.g. if I ever finally finish writing and publish Dark Lord of the Kremlin.

What’s the plan with Dark Lord, anyway?

It was just about 40% done, at least the first draft, but history began to move too fast this year for the pen to keep pace. Between this and real life demands, I feel that shelving it until the next round of Russia’s Presidential elections is the most prudent course of action.

What happened with the The Russian Spectrum, that site you had for English translations from the Russian media?

It was always only going to be sustainable if it could attract funding to support a sizable group of translators. Suffice to say, funding was not forthcoming despite my best efforts, and running it is beyond one person, even if he had the privilege to do it as a full-time hobby. Which I don’t.

Of course I have no intention of bringing to naught the labor of the amateur translators who extended their own time and energy to contribute to this project, so I have migrated all the posts at The Russian Spectrum to this blog together with their appropriate author attributions. These posts from The Russian Spectrum now constitute an eponymous “special series” within the general category of “Translations,” and a few dozen of the best translations are listed here.

Will you continue writing about Russia?

Yes, just not here.

I will continue blogging at my main website, AKarlin.com, on the various topics that interest me: World history, transhumanism, evolutionary psychology, psychometrics, geopolitics, and… and… Russia.

And I will continue pursuing journalistic or even academic projects relating to Russia as opportunities arise. As I said, if there are major new developments on this front, I will post an update here as well as at the AKarlin blog and on my social media accounts.

Speaking of which… feel free to follow @akarlin88 on Twitter, and Subscribe to me on Facebook (nothing personal… but please don’t Friend me unless I know you).

Which Russia watchers should I follow now?

I will be brief, since too many suggestions can quickly become counterproductive.

1) Russia Resources – One of my key arguments has always been that statistics and opinion polls – constituting as they do massive aggregations of useful and generally reliable data – are far more useful for understanding social and political phenomena than the opinionated and fallible Bildungsphilister that you see quacking in the MSM. So you could do a lot worse than spending some time at Rosstat and the Levada Center. Ideally, they would be complemented by something like The Russian Spectrum, to give you a detailed insight into the state of public debate in Russia, but this was not to be.

2) Russia News – RT, RIA, Voice of Russia for the “official” Russian line. David Johnson at the JRL goes out of his way to make sure both sides of the story are represented in his news selections (so much so that he pissed off the folks at Buzzfeed). Finally, it is well worth checking out Charles Bausmann’s new project Russia Insider. Its style, for the most part, is more emotive than cerebral, but on the plus side, many of your favorite Russia pundits like Alexander Mercouris, Eric Kraus, and Patrick Armstrong are actively involved with it.

3) Russia Blogs – Leos Tomicek; Mark Chapman; Sean Guillory; Mark Adomanis; Andras Toth-Czifra; The Vineyard of the Saker; Slavyangrad; and, if you understand French, Alexandre Latsa. On the chance that you read Russian, I recommend Sergey Zhuravlev, Maxim Kononenko, Colonel Cassad.

4) Forums – Though I’d really like to recommend The Russia Debate, the forum that I created and Jose Moreira was kind enough to take over, it appears to be pretty much dead at this point. Feel free to try to revive it, if not… some good discussions can be had on /r/russia and /r/UkrainianConflict.

5) Russia Watchers – In today’s world of interconnected social media, news is fast moving from the realm of big vertical providers to a much more personalistic and horizontal level. On Twitter and/or Facebook, these people/accounts are well worth following: Alexander Mercouris, Graham Phillips, Eric Kraus, Jon Hellevig, Patrick Armstrong, Ben Aris, Mark Sleboda, Alexander Dugin, Vladimir Suchan, Mark Adomanis, Leos Tomicek, Sean Guillory, Dmitry Trenin, Jake Rudnitsky, Mark Schrad, Alec Luhn, Dmitry Linnik, Bryan McDonald, Gleb Bazov, Egor Prosvirnin, Maxim Kononenko, Natalia Antonova, Maxim Eristavi, Simon Ostrovsky, @southfronteng, @euromaidan, @noclador, @anti_maydan, @IndependentKrym, @UkrToday… and your own humble servant, @akarlin88. This is just a solid, #FF-style list to get you started and is in no way meant to be comprehensive; some of them are, for that matter, actively anti-Russian, on the logic that it’s well worth hearing what the “enemy” has to say in any case. The beauty of such an approach is that you can quickly start building your own information network.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 

I should have never allowed myself to be talked out of it in the first place.

The primary reasons are the same as before: Low activity rates, to the extent that genuine discussions are once again being overtaken by spam in terms of volume. This is in spite of substantially increased security measures since then.

But there are also some wider reasons, such my online presence being spread too thin by projects such as the forum. You have to prune these things from time to time. Inspired by the recent events at RIA, I feel it is time for a rationalization and consolidation of my own projects.

The forum will go offline as of the New Year.

THAT SAID, should another forumer or group of forumers wish to continue the forum, I will be happy to turn over the passwords and the forum software license for the common good. The only condition is that I will no longer be liable for the site’s active administration and paying hosting fees. If you are interested, please contact me and we will discuss this further.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 

Due to the popular outcry, my prior decision to close down the Russian politics and history forum is now formally reversed.

russia-debate-undead

Come on people – let’s make it work. Stop spamming each other in email newsletters. Refrain from creating thousands of off-topic comments on blog posts that will get lost in the Internet’s recesses as soon as the next blog post comes along. Have your arguments and debates in a place and format – that is, the forum – that is specifically designed to host arguments and debates.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 

Its failure is so stark that I hardly need post a notification on the actual site. To the extent that I visit it nowadays it is mostly just to clean spam, which is just depressing. It has not achieved critical mass, despite the initial incentives on offer, and in my experience if a forum fails to get going early on then any exisiting participation rapidly collapses.

In all honesty I half-expected this anyway. It would have probably taken off had it gone online in 2006/2007, at the height of the so-called “New Cold War.” Nowadays, in these days of “Reset,” Russia just doesn’t command the interest it used to.

Thank you for all the people who tried to get it going.

Of particular note: Alcestis Eshtemoa, Alexa M, Alexander Mercouris, Alex Bond, Bellum, hoct, mls13, Moscow Exile, Ombrageux, owenpolley, Patrick Armstrong, Sevan, SWSpires, Vostok.

Barring a miraculous splurge of (genuine) acitivity in the coming weeks, the forum will be going offline at the end of September.

To forumers – Please look through the archives and save anything you wish to save of your posts for future use elsewhere.

To everyone – The future of The Russian Spectrum is solid and promising; be assured it is not going the way of the forum anytime soon. Do not mistake a relative lack of posting in the past two months as a sign of trouble – to the contrary, it is because the time I previously used for translating there is now taken up by serious discussions of funding and partnership with major media outlets.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 

This June I had the pleasure of once again attending and speaking at the World Russia Forum. The event now happens twice a year, in Washington DC and Moscow, and is intended to draw together Russian and American experts, academics, journalists, and policy-makers in an effort to improve relations between these two nations. An account of it, and the subsequent reception at the Russian Embassy to mark Russia Day, follows below:

1 - me in DC

It was raining with near monsoonal intensity when I disembarked off the train*. I have no complaints; these downpours dispel the sultry oppressiveness inherent to a city originally built on swampland, so far as I was concerned the more rain the merrier.

2 - al jazeera bus

The Qataris sure know how to get their message out!

3 - hotel gathering

Four of the WRF’s speakers in the hotel dining room. From left to right: Pamela (Patrick’s wife); Martin Sieff; Patrick Armstrong; William Dunkerley; your humble servant.

4 - wrf 2013

From farther to nearest: Patrick Armstrong, Martin Sieff, Edward Lozansky, Nicolai Petro, and William Dunkerley (plus Sergey Markedonov, but he was absent when the photo above was taken). Lozansky, the organizer and financier of the World Russia Forums, is giving the keynote speech.

Each of us gave a 5-10 minute presentation on what we saw as the problems of – and possible solutions to – strained relations between Russia and the US. Common themes included the malevolent roles of aggrieved oligarchs (like Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky); the lack of economic ties making Russia a convenient punch-bug (can’t offend your Chinese bankers or Saudi oilmen too much); the weakness and lethargy of the Kremlin’s PR, as expressed in its slow – and at times, non-existent – response to media stories that portray it in a bad light.

Then we talked about possible solutions. Patrick Armstrong, for instance, has long pushed for creating a list of “Russia memes” that are commonly accepted as fact in the media but have no factual basis (e.g. Putin’s billions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts, that sort of thing). Martin Sieff stresses that responses have to be very quick, since a rule of thumb in the media is that as soon as the first 30 minutes pass, the story becomes set, no matter its truth value. It would be a good idea to combine these two points in the form of a PR team checking stories in the Western media against a handbook of these “Russia memes” and sending out corrections, complaints, letters to the editor, etc. as appropriate.

The main problem is, of course, implementation. Both Nicolai Petro and William Dunkerley raised this issue, as an academic and a media expert, respectively. Contrary to what has been scribbled about this group in some corners of the Internet, it is not affiliated with the Kremlin nor does it even have its official support; it is the product of a private American citizen’s personal initiative and enthusiasm. This translates into a frustrating reality in which a lot of good ideas are generated in these meetings but all too many of them are never followed through for a lack of official coordination, financial, or official support. This is why I can only laugh when the likes of Lucas start raving about Kremlin-paid “agents of influence” hiding beneath every bed and whatnot. The banal reality is that Russia is not very competent at PR (unlike Israel or Saakashvili’s Georgia), and what money it does give out typically goes to big, disinterested firms like Ketchum that eke out a couple of “pro-Russian” articles for The Huffington Post in exchange for millions of dollars.

My own speech, naturally, focused on The Russian Spectrum. I have already explained why that project is a great idea for improving Russia’s image, so I won’t bother doing so again.

5 - wrf 2013

William Dunkerley had the funniest and most interactive presentation.

After that there were questions from the audience and lively discussions. Here are a few observations:

Tons of journalists from Voice of America, some from Voice of Russia including its new US bureau chief. None from RIA (there might have been a couple but I didn’t run into them). Some representatives of Russia/America business forums, PR and “knowledge transfer agencies,” etc.

A former bureaucrat who mentioned that there is already a program that translates foreign media into English. (Those of you subscribing to the JRL will have come across some of their translations). The only problem with it? Unlike Russia’s Inosmi, which is free, only certain government employees and private businesses willing to fork over many thousands of dollars per year can have access to it – even though it’s funded by the American taxpayer. He said he’d inquire about opening it up to the general public, but the chances of success are minimal for obvious reasons. If the bureaucracies that be were interested in public access, then the public would already have access.

A senior editor at The American Conservative. Knows Ron Unz, pro-Ron Paul, libertarian, White Russian – also anti-Putin, and supports Magnitsky Act, but otherwise doesn’t want confrontation with Russia specifically. If China and Saudi Arabia aren’t being confronted, both states with far worse human rights records, then why on earth should Russia be confronted? This outlook I suppose is all quite consistent with libertarian, minimal state/constitutional rights/isolationist principles).

A senior member of a family values organization from the Mid-West. Described how he went from thinking of Russia as an atheist evil empire type of place to viewing it as the modern equivalent of the kingdom of Prester John (I do exaggerate, of course, but that’s the gist of it), to the extent that the next major summit of his organization is going to be taking place in Moscow. This stands to reason, as conservatives in the American heartland are increasingly discovering that in many if not all respects ordinary Russians and even the Russian government shares their values.

One lady sewed together some peace rugs for the UN and treated us all to a 15 monologue about it. Absolutely fascinating. :|

6 - newseum

After that I visited the Newseum, a museum about the news. Although its basically a shrine to the Mainstream, and got anodyne at times, there were nonetheless a lot of fun things to see there. My favorite section was the one with the ancient books and historical articles/editorials/ads (“Spanish Indian woman that can do all sorts of of Houshold Work with her Boy about half a Year old: To be sold Inquire of Mr. William ManBrasier in Dock-square, Boston” – yes, the world sure has changed quite a bit).

Above is a photo of a Nezavisimaya Gazeta editorial or op-ed or whatever from immediately after the abortive 1991 coup attempt: “The bloody political dealings of these “S.O.B.’s were just going on and on. We got tired of being afraid. This is why the coup failed.” No-holds barred approach of the hero journalist!

6.5 - hero journalist

Speaking of “hero journalists“… Now THAT is a hero journalist! Yulia Latynina? I’m afraid having a crazy hairdo and the hots for our favorite Georgian tie-muncher doesn’t qualify.

7 - embassy invite

JUST WHAT IS THIS?! I suppose it will now be impossible for me to deny being a Kremlin flunky ever again.

8 - democratic protesters

Protests at the Embassy. One of the guys had the placard, “Putin eats babies.” Supporters of Pussy Riot chanted slogans next to a burqa-covered woman with a Syrian flag. Most unlikely allies…

The Embassy itself was a big, square, solid, monumental structure. Apparently it was built by Soviet laborers specifically imported for the task so that the NSA people wouldn’t get a chance to lay any bugs. They did try to remedy the situation by digging a tunnel under the Embassy, but the plan was foiled thanks to FBI turncoat Robert Hanssen.

9 - russian embassy

They sure know how to throw a party. The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Sergey Kislyak gave the keynote speech. As expected with such events, the focus was mostly on networking – and the big businessmen, professional politicos, and military attaches who were generously represented there were out of my league as far as practical matters are concerned. Still, I had a lot of fun there, along with the other Forum members invited to the reception.

* Yes, you read that right. I took a train all the way to DC from San Francisco, and stopped by at many of the cities in between. I will be posting an account of this journey at the other blog.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 

I’m writing this from an Internet café in Seattle, so I’ll be brief.

(1) Congratulations to SWSPires – the winner of the promised $25 Amazon gift certificate for participating in The Russia Debate during its first month! Incidentally, he was only the sixth member to be drawn by lot from the members pool; it’s just that the others had no posts (as of yet) to their names. And to be in the running, you needed to have made at least one post, in addition to registering.

(2) If you are a Russia expert (or just curious), please feel free to join the 2013 World Russia Forum in Washington DC this June 11th. It will be located at The Russian Cultural Center:

1825 Phelps Place Northwest
Washington, DC 20008

The theme for this year will be “the role of NGOs, Public Diplomacy, and Media in formulating the agenda for US – Russia political, educational and cultural cooperation.” That is, soft power, which we’ve discussed here of late. The Russian Spectrum ties in with this well and will be the main focus of my representation.

(3) Speaking of The Russian Spectrum – I’m on a “working holiday” of sorts, so I will not be doing any translations until I return on June 25.

I’m now quite happy with the site as it exists and functions, and I’m sure its “base” is now firm enough to support significant scaling up. That is not, however, within the capabilities of one person. It needs at least one more editor and regular contributors for it to start offering something resembling comprehensive coverage, from all slivers of the spectrum. And for that it needs financing.

That is going to be my priority orientation for the next weeks and months.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 

You’ve had to wait too long for this.

But it is finally here. The Russian Spectrum – translating everything worth translating from the Russian media.

russian-spectrum-screenshot

I’ll keep it brief.

(1) We need translators! If you can proficiently translate from Russian into English, I will be very happy to have you on board.

First, the bad news:

  • You’re not getting paid, as I’m currently running the site out of my own pockets and spare time.

Ouch! That’s pretty bad. What’s the good news, then?

  • Each post has the translator’s name attached to it, allowing you to quickly build up an online portfolio of your work (e.g. here’s mine).
  • Hundreds of daily readers from the get go! Vast publicity! Or at least more publicity than they’d get if you post your translations in various discussion threads with hundreds of comments. (you know who you are…)))
  • As I’m not paying the piper, you get to call the tune: Translate what you like, when you like, however often you want to.
  • Let the world know about the diversity of the Russian media, and points of view that are ignored in the Western media.
  • Get paid after all! Well, as soon as I get funding, which I honestly think is more likely than not. Loyal, reliable, and competent volunteers will get first dibs on any paid positions.

If you are interested, please contact me and I will make you a Contributor account at The Russian Spectrum. You’ll be ready to go in no time.

(2) Explore the site! There are already 36 translations of the site. Some of them you will be familiar with from here, but almost half are unique to The Russian Spectrum. Furthermore, my aim is to add at least two translations a day, with output set to expand if volunteers join in.

(3) While I don’t like to beg, and usually don’t – at least not on my regular blogs – I will make an exception for The Russian Spectrum. To ensure the reliability and security needed to foster its smooth growth and development, I decided to go with the best hosts and software for a small media organization. Total projected costs for a year at its present scale are on the order of $400.

So to cut to the chase, yes, I’d appreciate some change. Thank you.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 

Another day, another Internet project.

Or more specifically, reviving an old project – the “English Inosmi” concept of translating articles and blog posts from the Russian media for a Western audience. The only problem was that I was perpetually dissatisfied, even if at a subconscious level, with the name: RossPress*. An elementary problem which I had somehow overlooked was that the double “s” is simply incorrect. And “RosPress.com” is already taken.

But apart from that, I was focusing my efforts not so much on translation, as on getting funding. Which isn’t all that easy for some random guy with a blog. It’s much easier if you also have a random NGO, but setting up said NGO is quite a lengthy procedure. So while that’s in process I thought I might as well restart work on the site and even offer a few translations. At the least, it would tie in well with The Russia Debate**.

[polldaddy poll=7088726]

But I still need a good name for it.

The RussoSphere: Solid, distinctive name – less than 2,000 Google hits on it, amazingly. Logo can be of a “sphere” with images of Russian newspaper front pages wrapped around it.

The Russian Spectrum: Another solid name that sounds respectable as a newspaper name, while at the same time alluding to its mission – translations from a wide variety of ideological viewpoints***.

Right now I’m slightly leaning towards The RussoSphere.

* Sorry Craig.

** You don’t know what is The Russia Debate? It’s a forum for discussing Russian politics and history. Come, comment, conquer!

*** Unlike the recent “Interpreter mag,” which as Nils van der Vegte rightly points out might as well call itself “The Interpreter of Novaya Gazeta.”

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 

I submit that the Russia watching community has no shortage of opinionated blogs, mercenary “information projects,” and warring factions of “CIA jackals” and “Kremlin bots.” What it greatly lacks, however, is a neutral, well-moderated meeting ground where a diversity of voices could engage in free and vigorous debates about all aspects of Russian politics, economics, and history.

In other words, it needs a forum, and as nobody else seems willing, I am happy to step step up to the plate with The Russia Debate.

RD-ForumSnapshot

Getting a forum going isn’t the easiest thing in the world, so just in case the excitement of political debate and settling in virgin online territory isn’t enough for you, anybody who makes at least one post at The Russian Debate throughout the rest of this month will be placed in a random drawing for the following prizes:

  1. A $25 Amazon gift certificate.
  2. Five separate vouchers for a free copy – in print or digital – of my upcoming book THE DARK LORD OF THE KREMLIN (scheduled for publication this October).

So, go ahead, check it out, create an account, and start populating the boards with your arguments and ideas. There are already ongoing active discussions about the Israeli strike on Syria and the May 6th rally. Looking forwards to seeing you there!

 

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 

Just to confirm that progress on DARK LORD OF THE KREMLIN is in full swing, with about 40% of the first draft done. I am aiming for publication around October.

Here are the chapter titles to whet your appetites – as you can see, I spare no tired trope when writing about the Putin kleptocracy. :) If it’s 40% done, that also means four of the ten chapters. Try to guess which ones.

Intro: “If It’s About Russia, It’s True”
1. The KGB Colonel
2. Mafia State
3. Kremlin Media
4. Potemkin Russia
5. Caviar Roads
6. The Dying Bear
7. Neo-Soviet Revanchism
8. Stalin Worship
9. Crimes of the Regime
10. Russia and the West

PS. It will also need a front cover. I’m thinking of something flippant like Putin riding a shark Nazgul steed in front of the Kremlin. If you have graphic design moxie please feel free to contact me, we can discuss price.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 

For background see here, here.

Russia Voices is good because it powerfully hints at what the project is all about: Giving the Anglo-sphere some sense of what Russians from all sides of the political spectrum are saying. But downside is it’s similar to Voice of Russia (a radio station), and besides, the more “intuitive” Russia nVoices.com has already been taken.

RossPress is succinct and powerful; my innumerable thanks to the glorious Craig J. Willy for suggesting it. Only downside is that many Westerners don’t know that Russia, in Russian, is Rossiya.

I can’t say I’m 100% happy with either choice but c’est la vie. This issue should be gotten out of the way sooner rather than later.

RossPress (RossPress.com) 24
Russia Voices (RussiaVoices.com) 17
Other 3

Only vote “Other” if you really hate both of them (preferably provide an alternative in that case). Thank you all for your participation.

Finally, I’d like to note that today I have translated the first two articles ever specifically for RV/RP. They are:

I have chosen to translate liberals because to date I have mostly only translated “patriots”, conservatives, and Putin supporters. This is to demonstrate and affirm that the site will be a non-partisan affair to the maximum feasible extent possible.

Edit 2013/2/2: As there is strong support for both options, I will test them out via Google Adwords and come to a decision by next week (which is when I plan to launch the site anyway).

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 

As long-term readers will be aware, I am working on two big projects: A book on myths about Russia, and a website specializing in translating articles from the Russian press into English.

(The idea being that even if it does nothing else, Western institutions will no longer be able to credibly say Russia’s level of media freedoms are on par with Zimbabwe’s).

While the preliminary name I’m going with before the site is unveiled is “Russia Voices”, this is far from set in stone. First, it would sound better as “Russia n Voices.” Second, a Voice of Russia already exists. Maybe there is a better alternative? I would appreciate it if you could vote on and provide feedback on other possible names for this site.

Update: Guess there’s no longer a need to keep the poll running. It’s already clear that Russia Voices is the only one of the original suggestions with any support. The majority of you think that it needs to be something else.

Russia Voices (russiavoices.com) 4
Russian Points of View (russpovs.com) 2
Press of Russian Federation (pressrf.com) 1
Other 12

Please feel free to make your own suggestions. Note that the .com hyperlink has to be available for a name to be seriously considered. Thanks.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 

I have recently been cleaning up my old posts.

When I moved from Sublime Oblivion to here, the pictures remained hosted at the old site (there were too many of them to auto-import). So I’ve been going through ancient posts, manually reattaching pictures (so that they are now hosted at wordpress.com) and making the categories and tags system more comprehensive.

This allowed me the opportunity to reread (or rather, skim) many of my older posts. I summarize the experience here.

In short, the original Da Russophile at blogger was… too Russophile. Unreasonably so.

The Sublime Oblivion of 2009-2010 in its Russia coverage was characterized by a “bizarre fusion” of eco-leftism, Stratforian realism, and Spenglerian mysticism. As in 2008 there were many good articles, but overall it was patchy and frequently ideologized… and falling far short of the punchy, trope-breaking spirit that characterizes it today, and which it should have always aspired to.

In 2011 I moderated, the Russian coverage at S/O reached its peak, and I got into journalism. The pharma hack of early 2012 that crippled S/O was, in retrospect, a blessing in disguise: It allowed me to finally partition the Russia stuff and the everything else stuff into different domains.

As of today, I objectively believe my blog has never been better – and there are ambitious plans for a new translation website and ongoing work on the book Dark Lord of the Kremlin.

Since I started in January 9, 2008, Da Russophile (first in blogger; then as part of Sublime Oblivion; and finally, as now, as its own WordPress.com site) has been visited a total of nearly one million times. Thank you all for reading.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 

I just remembered I’d made some in 2012. It’s time to see how they went, plus make predictions for the coming year.

Of course I failed to predict the biggest thing of them all: The hacking that made me throw in the towel on Sublime Oblivion (remember that?), but with the silver lining that I could now split my blog between my interest in Russia and my interest in many other things. After all tying my criticism of the Western media on Russia with topics like climate change and futurism and HBD was never a very good fit. Overall I am very satisfied with the new arrangement.

Predictions For 2013

(1) Russia will see slight positive natural population growth (about 50,000) as well as significant overall population growth (about 400,000). Do bear in mind that this prediction was first made back in 2008 when a Kremlinologist who did the same would have been forced into a mental asylum.

(2) The life expectancy will reach 71.5 years, the total fertility rate will rise to 1.8. The birth rate will reach a local maximum at about 13.3-13.5 (it will then remain steady for a couple of years, and then begin to slowly decline) while the death rate will go down to about 13.0-13.2). Net immigration should remain at about 300,000.

(3) Putin will not be overthrown in a glorious democratic revolution. In fact, things will remain depressingly stable on the political front. As they should!

(4) Currently Russia is one of Europe’s most corrupt countries. While it’s certainly not at the level of Zimbabwe, as claimed in the Corruption Perceptions Index, it’s not like having the Philippines, Romania, or Greece for neighbors on an objective assessment is anything to write home about. I believe that Russia missed a great opportunity to undermine the rotten culture of official impunity that exists there by refraining from prosecuting former Moscow Mayor Luzhkov with his Montenegrin villa, billionaire wife, and his VP Mayor Resin who wore a $500,000 watch following his dismissal in 2010. Today a similar opportunity presents itself with blatant evidence of large-scale corruption on the part of former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and his female hangers-on (see the comments threads here, here at the Kremlin Stooge for details). There are conflicting signals as to whether charges will extend to the very top, i.e. Serdyukov himself. Having incorrectly anticipated a Luzhkov prosecution, I am now once bitten, twice shy. So I’ll take the lame way out and call it a 50/50.

(5) Needless to say, the economy remains as uncertain as ever, and contingent upon what happens in the EU and the world. In the PIGS the economic contraction is finally starting to slow down, but Greece is something of a disaster zone, and Spain is raiding its pension fund to keep afloat. If this becomes unsustainable this year then the EU member states will have to make some fundamental choices: Fiscal union? Or its division into a “Hanseatic” core and Mediterranean periphery? Which of these three things will happen I find impossible to even begin to foretell… As applied to Russia, under the first two scenarios, it will continue plodding along at a stolid but unremarkable pace of 3-4% or so GDP growth; if things come to a head (as they eventually must) and Germany decides to toss the Latins overboard, then the divorce I assume is going to be very, very messy, and we can expect Russia’s economy to fall into recession.

(6) No special insights on foreign policy. Ukraine may join the Customs Union; however, I suspect that’s more likely to happen in 2014 or 2015, as Yanukovych faces re-election and has to make a choice between continued prevarication between it and the EU, and encouraging his Russophone base. The creeping influence of the Eurasian Union will likely keep US-Russian relations cold; whatever the current disagreement that’s talked about (Magnitsky Act; Dima Yakovlev Law; Syria; Libya…) I lean to the “Stratfor”-like position that at heart the US just does not want what it sees as a “re-Sovietization” of the region – which the Eurasian Union is, in geopolitical terms, if under conditions much softer than was previously the case – and will thus be driven, almost by force of instinct, to oppose this trend.

How did I do for 2012?

Here is the link again. In short, this wasn’t the best year for my predictions.

1. “So that’s my prediction for March: Putin wins in the first round with 60%, followed by perennially second-place Zyuganov at 15%-20%, Zhirinovsky with 10%, and Sergey Mironov, Mikhail Prokhorov and Grigory Yavlinsky with a combined 10% or so.I later ended up refining this, and running a contest. My predictions for the five candidates were off by an aggregate error of 14%. The heroic winner was Andras Toth-Czifra (who has yet to get his T-Shirt – my profound apologies dude, it will be done…) Half a point.

2. “I will also go ahead and say that I do not expect the Meetings For Fair Elections to make headway.” Correct, although this was self-evident to anyone not afflicted with Putin Derangement Syndrome (which admittedly doesn’t include 90% of Western Russia journalists). Full point.

3. Here I made general points that I still think fully apply. That said, my own specific prediction turned out to be false. “But specifically for 2012, I expect Greece to drop out of the Eurozone (either voluntarily, or kicked out if it starts printing Euros independently, as the former Soviet republics did with rubles as Moscow’s central control dissipated).” Wrong! I am perhaps foolhardy to do so, but I repeat this prediction for this year. I really don’t know why the Greeks masochistically agree to keep on paying tribute to French and German banks when they know full well they have no hope of ever significantly bringing down their debt-to-GDP ratio without major concessions on the parts of their creditors. Zero points.

4. Last year I made no major predictions about the Russian economy; basically, unexciting but stable if things stay normal – a downswing if the EU goes down, albeit not on as big a scale as in 2008-2009. I was basically correct. One point.

5. “I expect 2012 will be the year in which Ukraine joins the Eurasian common economic space.” Nope. To activate their Russophone base, they decided to go with the language law. Zero points.

6. “Russia’s demography. I expect births to remain steady or fall slightly… Deaths will continue to fall quite rapidly, as excise taxes on vodka – the main contributor to Russia’s high mortality rates – are slated to rise sharply after the Presidential elections.” Too pessimistic on births, albeit understandably so because Russia’s cohort of women in their child-bearing age has now begun to decline rapidly (the echo effect). Although ironically enough however I am one of the most optimistic serious Russia demographers. In reality, as of the first 10 months of 2012, births have soared by a further 6.5% (which translates to a c.8% increase in the TFR, bringing it up from 1.61 in 2011 to about 1.74 this year – that’s about the level of Canada and the Netherlands – while deaths have fallen by 1.5%, implying a rise in life expectancy from 70.3 years in 2011 to about 71 years in 2012 (which is a record). Most remarkably the rate of natural population growth is now basically break-even, with birth rates and death rates both at about 13.3/1000; the so-called “Russian cross” has become a rhombus. Still, considering that my predictions were basically more optimistic than anyone else’s (even Mark Adomanis’), I still feel justified in calling this n my favor. One point.

So, that’s 3.5/6 for the Russia predictions. I will be very brief on the non-Russia related ones, as this is a Russia blog.

7. Wrong, Romney did not win LOL. Although later I did improve greatly, coming 12th out of 66 in a competition to predict the results of the US popular vote. I now owe a few bottles of whiskey to various people.

8. US did not attack Iran, but I gave it a 50% chance anyway. So, half point?

9. “But I will more or less confidently predict that global oil production in 2012 will be a definite decrease on this year.” Too early to tell.

10. “China will not see a hard landing.” Correct.

11. “Record low sea ice extent and volume. And perhaps 100 vessels will sail the Northern Sea Route this year.More like 46 vessels, and completely correct on extreme new sea ice lows.

12. “Tunisia is the only country of the “Arab Spring” that I expect to form a more or less moderate and secular government.” I think that’s basically correct.

13. Protests will not lead to any major changes outside the Arab world – yes.

14. “The world will, of course, end on December 21, 2012.” Correct, we’re now living in a simulation, the real world having ended as I predicted.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 

It’s been a few months in the building, since the decision to launch it at the WRF 2012, and I feel it is now developed enough to make it more widely known. I hope it will become as prominent as the current best specialized English-language Russian politics resource on the Internet, Russia: Other Points of View.

US-RUSSIA.org will also have regular discussion panels featuring short commentaries on topical issues of the day by members of its think-tank, moderated by Vlad Sobell. The very first one will be out soon and will focus on the assaults on the US’ Middle East embassies and what it implies for US relations with Russia.

It is the brainchild of Edward Lozansky, Soviet dissident turned promoter of US-Russian cooperation. (He also has an excellent restaurant in Washington DC which I highly recommend you visit anytime you’re there; it’s on the pricey side, but service, atmosphere, and – unusual for traditional/”Soviet” Russian eateries – the food itself are all top notch).

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 

I feel that my blogging in terms of influencing the discourse on Russia has leveled off into something resembling a plateau. I now write the occasional op-ed; appear every so often in magazines, research articles, and even books; and the blog itself attracts about 500 daily visitors. But truth is I am barely making a dint relative to the likes of Harding or Lucas.

To this end I am embarking on two big projects that will consume the bulk of my creative efforts for at least the next year.

(1) I am writing a book with the preliminary title PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME: How Western Journalists Are Fueling A New Cold War Against Russia. (I’m not 100% happy with it and will welcome alternate suggestions).

As I have argued for close to 5 years now, Western media coverage of Russia tends to be woefully biased, frequently malicious, and – most unforgivably – factually wrong. This does not mean there is nothing to criticize about Russia and Russians and I will not refrain from doing so in the book. However, said criticisms must be grounded in statistical data, an appreciation of the viewpoints of ordinary Russians, and a judicious comparative perspective (which is NOT equivalent to “moral relativism” or “whataboutism” as many hardcore Russophobes claim).

In 1926, Will Rogers said, “Russia is a country that no matter what you say about it, it’s true.” It is high time to make this way of thinking obsolete.

The book will be divided into about a dozen chapters, covering all aspects of Russia which are either heavily misrepresented, or around which there exist powerful misconceptions. Here is a short sample list of such “Russia tropes”:

  • “Dying Russia”
  • The Manichean view of Russian politics
  • “If This Happened in Russia”
  • Putin the fascist, Stalinist, neo-Tsarist, kleptocratic mafia thug
  • Stagnation
  • Pariah state
  • The strange obsession with “Kremlin TV”, i.e. Russia Today
  • How big bad Russia raped plucky democratic Georgia

In addition to my own original work, the book will also feature guest articles from various political and legal experts, as well as original translations from the “unfree” Russian media. By revealing the lies and misrepresentations on which so much Western commentary on Russia is rooted, the book will hopefully serve as a catalyst for rethinking and concrete change. Ведь так больше жить нельзя.

(2) As blog readers will recall, back in May I attended a Washington conference, chaired by Edward Lozansky, devoted to brainstorming ways to improve Russia’s dismal image abroad. Several fruitful suggestions came out of the meeting, one of which has already been brought into being: The site US-Russia.org.

My own modest contribution was a site devoted to translating the Russian media into English, a reverse-Inosmi if you will. Its preliminary name is RUSSIA VOICES.

There are several core structural features that make Western coverage of Russia as bad as it is. One of these is that there are more questions than can be answered; as argued by Patrick Armstrong, it takes 10x longer to write a rebuttal to a lying article, than the lying article itself (and claims of Kremlin-paid bloggers to the contrary, – I wish! – we don’t have a hundredth of either the resources or the media exposure of the Lucas and Harding types). Other such features include the “propaganda model” and exiled oligarch funding of anti-Putin kompromat. These are systemic forces that need a systemic response.

Should it become a significant feature of the media landscape, RUSSIA VOICES will accomplish three major things:

  1. Improve perceptions of Russian media in general (i.e., not Zimbabwe).
  2. Improve perceptions of Russia in general (i.e., complex array of liberal, Kremlin, statist, patriot, nationalist, & leftist forces; NOT a Manichean struggle between Padawan Navalny and Darth Putler).
  3. Publicize Russian voices on global affairs (e.g. Syria).

After all, what would YOU, as a media consumer, rather read about: Top Russian sci-fi novelist Sergey Lukyanenko’s thoughts on the Russian elections, or Miriam Elder on how Putin stole her dry-cleaning ticket?

Exactly. And I am sure the same goes for many academics, students, expats, businesspeople, and intelligent open-minded laymen. RUSSIA VOICES will translate from all sides of the ideological spectrum, be they pro-Kremlin or anti-Kremlin; Western media consumers will then have the freedom to independently judge exactly how “unfree” is the Russian media (and Russia in general) for themselves.

The only problem is that unlike the book, RUSSIA VOICES will require not insubstantial funding to get off the ground. Translators gotta be paid. I will be working on this issue in the next several months.

Blogging here will not come to a stop, nor at the other site. But intensity probably will fall off a bit.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
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.