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

 Remember My Information



=>
Publications Filter?
AKarlin.com Da Russophile
Nothing found
 TeasersRussian Reaction Blog
/
Gender Relations

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

In my previous post about the real incidence of rape (it is in massive decline! contrary to the claims of the campus rape industry), I said there was a discrepancy in the National Crime Victimization Survey statistics about its prevalence in the past several years. Steven Pinker writes that it was at 50/100,000 in 2008, whereas the only data I was able to access showed it to be at about 94/100,000 in 2011. Since it’s rather unlikely that the incidence of rape has doubled in the past three years, I suggested that either Pinker made a mistake or the NCVS has changed its definitions.

I was pleased to receive a reply from Steven Pinker on this and it seems that the second option is the likely one. The first one is certainly wrong, because he attached a spreadsheet showing the NCVS figures on rape for 1973-2008, and they do indeed show it declining from around 250/100,000 in the 1970′s to just 50/100,000 in recent years.

On the basis of that data I made the following telling chart.

rape-rates-usa-ncvs

It shows that a generation ago there really was something of a “rape culture” in that your average rape was very unlikely to be reported to police. Ironically, it was at precisely the time in history that reports of rape to police started to converge with the number of people who said they were raped in that year that all this rape culture rigmarole got going.

But as we can see, by that point the train had long departed. With reported rapes drawing close to the anonymously reported general incidence of rape*, plus the inherent ambiguity and fluidity around what actually constitutes rape, it is practically impossible to continue to imagine in good faith that a large number of innocent men aren’t getting tangled up in the narrow space between those two converging lines.

(Finally, even within just the modern US, there will be significant differences in rape prevalence between different regions and socio-economic groups. For instance, “rape culture” is considered by feminists to be more prevalent on the nation’s campuses. But considering that the average college student is one S.D. higher in IQ than the national average, and the close correlation between IQ and crime rates, it is in fact quite likely that modern US college towns are some of the very safest places for women in history. Then again it’s much safer to rant about “campus rape culture” from an actual campus than from within some inner city ghetto).

That is why I think that the higher-end (i.e. 25%+) estimates for false rape accusations, far from being the products of MRM chauvinist hysteria, are in fact the most credible ones today.

PS. Here is Steven Pinker’s reply in full:

The rape statistics come from
U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2009. National Crime Victimization Survey Spreadsheet.http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/glance/sheets/viortrd.csv.
which I attach (accessed 2010/5/3). Unfortunately that URL now redirects to http://www.bjs.gov/glance_redirect.cfm which apologizes for a BoJ Web site redesign rendering the file unavailable until this summer.
You’ll see in a comment line within the spreadsheet that the survey methodology changed at least twice during the 1973-2008 interval, though the numbers reported in it have been adjusted to make (except for one year) commensurable with one another.
It’s not certain why the numbers you found for 2011 are so out of whack with those in this dataset, and it would take some digging to resolve the discrepancy. But the warning in this spreadsheet about previous methodology changes suggests a likely answer. Under pressure from activist groups, common definitions of “rape” and “sexual assault” have recently been broadened to include, for example, a man verbally pressuring a woman into sex, and a man getting a woman drunk and having sex with her; even, in some surveys, sex that the woman regrets afterwards. These expansive definitions are the source of some of the incredible claims such as that one in every four female college students has been raped. I doubt that the NCVS uses such a definition which is quite that expansive, but if the question asked in the past few years differs from those asked in 1973-2008, we would have an explanation for the discrepancy. And you may be correct that the restrictive and expansive definitions correspond to “rape” and “sexual assault,” respectively, but it would take some digging into the recent survey methodology to verify this.

* These two measures aren’t strictly comparable, because one person can report multiple instances of rape to police, whereas in any one year someone can only either be raped or not raped in the NCVS statistics. Nonetheless, one would imagine that the percentage of (very unfortunate) people experienced two or more cases of rape per year and reporting them to police would be very low.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

Happy International Women’s Day!

kathy-lally-wapo Today I had occasion to read one of the most inadvertently hilarious things about Russia in the Western media from Kathy Lally (pictured right) from the Washington Post in which she complains that Russian women get flowers, not power. Citing the opinion of one Russian woman from the “Center for Social and Political Studies of the Institute for U.S.A. and Canada”, she makes a mountain out of a molehill that in fact the vast majority of Russians themselves (women included) are simply not concerned about.

The reason is that she conflates equity feminism with gender feminism as the same thing. They are, for all intents and purposes, in the West. But they are not at all in Russia.

Equity feminism is about classical liberal concepts such as equality before the law, formal political and civil rights, getting paid the same for the same work, sovereignty over one’s own body, etc. Equity feminism is advanced in Russia. Abortion has been legal since the 1920s (with a limited interruption during the conservative Stalin years), as has been divorce – which as in Western countries typically favors women. Female labor participation is as high as in “progressive” Anglo-Saxon countries, while women’s average wages as a percentage of male wages are at exactly the same level – at 62% – as in the US, and far higher than in some European countries like Austria (see pp.46 of Global Gender Gap 2012). The percentage of female managers in Russia is higher than in the West. And the share of women in Congress, 18%, is not radically different from the share of women in the Duma, at 14%. The simple fact of the matter is that women are less interested in politics than men and this is the typical kind of figure you get when you don’t have quotas and affirmative action to tilt the natural balance. The observation that “You even find women behind the wheel, a peculiar sight a decade or so ago” is true but it is also equally banal; a decade ago there were far fewer cars in Russia period, and as happens everywhere, it is men who are first to get behind the wheel everywhere where cars are just beginning to enter mass ownership.

What Russia doesn’t have is gender feminism. In a nutshell, gender feminism seeks to masculinize women by (ironically) attacking traditional feminine virtues, while psychologically and legally emasculating men (suffice to say that in the US you have entirely mainstream commentators and professors like Hugo Schwyzer telling men to get pounded up the ass to become more “sensitive” and fight the patriarchy). Its proponents do not occupy Women’s Studies departments or write for broadsheets in Russia, to the contrary they are viewed as mentally ill. Chivalrous gestures are appreciated and expected of men, but the flip side is that the women are expected to treasure, not suppress, their femininity and nurturing instincts. As a result the Western cultural Marxists start writing about Russia as a very misogynistic country, as “a joke and embarrassment to civilization” as one of WaPo’s commentators put it.

“Here is a bitter feminist who envies us our flowers and presents which we get today, and comforts herself with the thought that she at least doesn’t have to stand by the oven. And probably doesn’t know that we have cafes and restaurants, and that men can often make themselves a wholly sumptuous dinner, and of course doesn’t even suspect that making a celebratory dinner for her family and friends might bring a women a great deal of pleasure.” No, that’s not me, it’s a translation of one of the most popular comments (by a woman) to this article at Inosmi, which translates Western writings about Russia into Russian. I assume Kathy Lally would say that she suffers from “false consciousness” foisted on her by the “Russian patriarchy”, but most Russians including women would dismiss or giggle at it as nothing more than a bitter rant. And this would enrage the Western gender feminists all the more.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

The past two days I had the pleasure of observing the blowout over a post by blogger Matt Forney about rape – or more precisely, about “how to rape women and get away with it.” It’s completely satirical, quite funny, and one can’t help but by impressed by the size of the balls (no homo) needed to write that shit in a culture where rape is far more of a taboo than murder. Not very logical that, is it? But it’s true. You can assault people with reckless abandon or even shoot up civilians at a Russian airport in any number of FPS games, but rape is a no-no (so is even normal sex, for that matter). Unless you’re in Japan, but I digress…

Anyhow, I don’t know what set off the tripwire – Mr. Forney had published the article in question months ago – but within a few hours he was getting a flood of Internet hate from assorted Tumblr feminists and their angry beta male orbiters. The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “Director for International Freedom of Expression” expressed the hope he’d get fired; others called for him to be raped and/or killed. The Anonymous brigade also joined in. After a couple of days, they blackmailed him into taking the post down. You can still read the original here at this blog (which is ironically enough dedicated to PUA hate).

As anyone can quite clearly see, the real issue Mr. Forney was addressing was false rape, and more specifically the campus rape industry that has sprung up in recent decades to employ the new legions of Gender Studies majors. According to those moonbats, something like 25% of female university students were raped in the course of their studies (suffice to say pulling down your panties after having had too much to drink and regretting it afterwards qualifies as “rape” in their bizarro-world). One almost can’t refrain from making jokes at their expense, but since that doesn’t tend to turn out so well, I will focus on statistics as is my wont anyway. After all, facts and data are much more difficult to censor out of existence than articles that can be construed – however tendentiously – as “promoting” rape.

The National Crime Victimization Survey is a dataset of interviews with a vast and representative sample of the US population that aims to get an objective picture of the true incidence of crime in America. The graph below is from the book The Better Angels of our Nature by Steven Pinker, a dyed-in-the-wool end-of-history type liberal: “It shows that in 35 years the rate has fallen by an astonishing 80 percent, from 250 per 100,000 people over the age of twelve in 1973 to 50 per 100,000 in 2008.” Now one has to give the feminists their fair due; if not for their anti-rape campaigns, the rate of decline would have likely been slower. Nonetheless, it is ironic that the public panic over rape and sexual assault has risen to fever pitch at precisely the moment in history when the real lifetime risk of becoming a victim of rape has never been lower.

incidence-of-rape-us-pinker

Now to be honest again, I do not know if the 50 per 100,000 figure is entirely accurate. Checking the data directly gives 243,800 rapes for an over-twelve population of 257,542,240 in 2011, which translates to a rate of 94 per 100,000 for 2011. Whence the discrepancy? I don’t know. Maybe Pinker made a mistake in his calculations. Or maybe it’s a semantic difference; whereas Pinker refers to just “rape”, the NCVS study linked to above calls it “rape / sexual assault.” Maybe they are treated as distinct crimes? Regardless, it is not even in the same ballpark as the 25% victimization rates – during four years of college – cited by the campus rape industry. It is, in reality, as gauged by a representative sample of the population of whom half will be women, much less than 1%, and probably around 0.1% or 0.2%.

Moreover, the NCVS destroys yet another gender feminist trope: That only 10% (or 1%, or whatever) of rapes are reported to the police because of pressure from the patriarchal rape culture. In reality, this figure was 55% in 2002, 49% in 2010, and 27% in 2011; the latest figure represents a puzzling drop, true – for a start, it isn’t replicated in reports of domestic violence – but even if it marks a new normal as opposed to a weird fluctuation during one year, it would still mean that the rate of rape reporting is many multiples higher than what the radical feminists claim.

So in short the situation we have as of recent years is that the rate of rape is 50-100 per 100,000 of which some 12.5-50 per 100,000 is reported. This closely tallies with the official reported rape rate of 27.3 per 100,000 (though bear in mind that this measures individual rapes and a few women will report more than one rape per year).

As of 1995, the rate of conviction for rape was about 20 per 100,000 of the male population over ten. This would make it around 10 per 100,000 of the total (to make it comparable with the data above), and while I would think it likely this figure has increased since then, let’s assume that it has remained stable (obviously kudos to anyone who can hunt down more recent data from a reliable source). So as of today there is a man convicted for every third woman who reported being raped – and that’s even before we take into account the fact that a man can well be responsible for raping several women, which would make the true conviction rate even higher. After you adjust for the serial rapists, who surely account for a very considerably fraction of real rapists, the rape conviction rate will probably be around 50%. Which is quite different from the figure of 5% that the campus rape industry cites.

For comparison, from the same link, in 1995 there were around 6 convictions per 100,000 for murder. In the same year the murder rate was 8.2 per 100,000. So the conviction rate for murder, a crime that is typically much, much easier to prove than rape, was at slightly less than 75%.

So the conviction rate for rape is, in reality, impressively high. It would be absolutely great if it accurately reflected a coin toss risk of conviction for rapists, but I don’t have nearly the amount of optimism in the criminal justice system that the radical feminists might ascribe to me. Here is a quotation from a 1996 Department of Justice study that tried to quantify the incidence of false rapes:

In about 23 percent of the 21,621 cases, DNA test results excluded suspects, according to respondents. An additional 16 percent of the cases, approximately, yielded inconclusive results, often because the test samples had deteriorated or were too small. Inconclusive results aside, test results in the balance of the cases did not exclude the suspect.

The FBI reported that, in the 10,060 cases it received, DNA testing results were about 20 percent inconclusive and 20 percent exclusion; the other 18 laboratories (11,561 cases) reported about 13 percent and 26 percent, respectively.*

So we have about 20% of cases in which DNA results flat out exculpate the suspects, and another 20% in which results are inconclusive. This is even before we stop to consider that these results merely set a minimum floor, as the remaining figures do not exclude consensual intercourse.

A series of other studies compiled by Frank Zepezauer – one of which took place in the US military and allowed the use of polygraph testing – set the rate of false rape reports at around 25%-60% (but weighted more towards the higher figure).

The false rape figures of 2% or so that you see bandied about by feminist organizations typically reflect only the percentage of those that the police explicitly recognize to be false. Given the very high burden of proof needed for that (because seriously questioning rape victims is a taboo today unlike the case in the 1970′s) this figure would obviously not be the same thing as the actual rate of false reports.

To sum up so far you have a yearly rate in the US of:

  • c.75 (50-100) rape victims per 100,000, vast majority women.
  • c.30 (12.5-50) rape victims per 100,000 reported to the police, vast majority women.
  • For which 10 per 100,000 will get a conviction, all men except for some weird cases.
  • Therefore, taking into account serial rapists, something like half of the rape victims will be “avenged” (at least on paper).
  • But of the women who report rape to the police, about 25% to 50% will be either lying or greatly distorting what really happened.
  • The last figures are backed up not only by the cited estimates of the prevalence of false rape accusations, but by realistic assumptions about the fallibility of the criminal justice system.

As per the last point, it’s too much to hope for that the criminal justice system will only, exclusively nail real rapists. In reality the deck is, if anything, stacked against innocent men and “pseudo-rapists” (i.e. the drunk fratboy who has sex with a consenting and equally drunk chick who really, really regrets it the morning after) because the pro rapists are almost by definition more proficient at it in the first place and would take care to cover their traces and create alibis.

Based on the above rough numbers, it is a reasonable estimate that in the US probably more than 25% of convicted rapists are in fact innocent, while a good 25% or so are the type of “pseudo-rapist” described above. And of course while far from all rape convicts will go to jail, their criminal record and the sheer opprobrium associated with rape will generally create multiple problems for them for the rest of their lives such as finding a job, maintaining good relations with friends and family, and wooing romantic prospects. In fact even a false rape accusation can wreck lives because whereas women are allowed to remain anonymous, the accused does not have that same privilege.

Now I know this concept of the “pseudo-rapist” is going to get me flak from the feminists but what can you do. Alcohol lowers inhibitions. People might do stupid things when they’re drunk, but they never do things that they don’t actually want to do – including those which are highly embarrassing in sober retrospect. Whereas female behavior in modern times is highly slutty (not that I’m complaining! – at least personally…) this goes against the human evolutionary heritage – not to mention the superstructure created by the traditional private property system – which prizes female chastity. Men simply do not prize women who sleep around a lot, so they have a biological imperative to protect their sexual reputations in order to get committed, higher quality mates. In a tiny minority of cases – but which constitute a sizable number in proportion to the number of real rapes! – this means that making a false rape accusation is preferable to a woman than letting it be known that she happily slept with the poor beta/omega bastard while blind drunk.

This doesn’t, of course, change the fact that many real rapes still go unreported (about 50% of them) and “unavenged” (also about 50% – and 75% when you adjust for the unjustly convicted). But at this point you’re not going to improve these percentages much by heeding feminist calls to criminalize more and more sexual activity and stacking the legal deck against men even more than it already is. At this stage we are well into the area of diminishing returns to legal sanctions, with any further tightening now only serving to vastly increase the number of ruined lives due to false or misleading rape reports while only ensnaring a few additional real rapists.

TL;DR version. I do think that some of the wilder MRM claims that 90% of rape reports are false are vast exaggerations with questionable motives. However, radical feminist claims of patriarchal rape cultures on American college campuses (which are some of the safest places for women in the world and history) or which minimize the incidence of false rape claims – or argue that the very concept of a false rape is a product of patriarchal thinking, which is downright loathsome and totalitarian – are if anything even more risible and incredible.

This post was about the US. The next one will be about international comparisons, and the conclusions drawn from there will make this post look tame and politically correct by comparison.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

Eighteen percent of the women in Sweden have at one time been threatened by a man. Forty six percent of the women in Sweden have been subjected to violence by a man.

At least according to ultra-leftist Stieg Larsson (of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fame).

But thing is, if you actually ask women if they’ve been experienced violence sexual or physical violence from a partner, one will find that it is actually East Asian and White countries that have the lowest rates. Via The Inductivist:

In the WHO study, the lowest prevalence of lifetime and current partner violence was found in urban Japan and Serbia and Montenegro, which suggests that rates of abuse may reflect, in part, different levels of economic development.

Japan yes, but Serbia, with a GDP (PPP) per capita of $12,000, isn’t all that rich; at least, not significantly more so than Brazil or Thailand. And yet rates of abuse in the past 12 month are as low as in Japan, and far lower than in any other of the other surveyed areas: Brazil, Ethiopia, Namibia, Peru, Samoa, Thailand, Tanzania.

Even the lifetime risk of assault in Serbia was lower than in any of those other places bar Japan – this despite it being lawless and war-torn for much of the 1990′s.

In short this appears to be primarily an HBD thing, and not so much an economic development thing.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

The commentator fcomp writes:

If you think about it, there is a strong rationale self interest between feminism and the increase of female obesity. If feminism is to be defined as increasing the societal power of women, then it would serve them well for their to be more obese women. The desirability of a women to a man is far more objective then subjective. If women were to be, across the board, more attractive, if all women became, at minimum, 6s, men who ended up marrying 6s, the men who would be the lowest in male desirability in such a society, wouldn’t nearly be as unhappy as men who end up marrying 1s in our society. The logical result of that, is that in such a beautiful society, ironically, the value of female beauty would become far less valuable, and beauty would be far less desired.

That is exactly right. You see this in EE. Beauty is so common that it’s much less valued than in America. Basic market forces at work. Feminists go on about the importance of “inner beauty”, but ironically, the social trends that are in their own interests to encourage achieve the exact opposite – preoccupation with physical beauty (because it is rare).

If there isn’t a chance that one might end up with a landwhale, I suspect that most men would hardly bother with stuff like game and the like.

Of course. There are millions of things more valuable than game. It’s like gambling, or financial speculation: Good for those who are good at it, socially worthless.

I would imagine that such a society would experience little sexual discrimination, but at the same time, be very anti-female, in the sense that women who are competitive with men in economically productive fields would be quite successful, but at the same time, “feminine virtues”, a females capacity attracting men, the only area in which women surpass men, would be far less valued.

Yes, ironically, there is little sexual discrimination in such societies. Female salaries as a percentage of male salaries are higher in Russia than in the US or the UK. There are far more self-made female billionaires in China than in the Anglo world. It is true that the women there can’t “attract men” as well as in societies without gender feminism, but why on earth would you want them to? There is a name for women who are really good at this: Sluts.

There is a upper cap on female attractiveness, which are the feminine ideals hardwired into us by evolution, but there is no downward cap. This is in direct contrast to male attractiveness, because male attractiveness is strongly based with ability, and strong relativistic. ie: A man can always become more powerful, more wealthy, more physically capable. In this fashion, feminism is intrinsically a downward trend because the only thing a beautiful women can do to that makes herself more desired in a society, is to reduce the amount of beauty in that society.

This is why your typical Third Wave feminist or rape activist is fat, has a manjaw, or is otherwise unattractive.

If you are ugly, devaluing beauty is not bad evolutionary strategy.

The prevalence of female obesity in the middle east can also be explained in this fashion. If increasing the amount of non-obese women in a society is a form of sexual egalitarianism, because it increases the amount of sexual contentment across the board, then what society is less sexually egalitarian then Islam?

I have been meaning to write about the links between radical Islam and gender feminism for quite some time. Suffice to say for now that, contrary to what one may think, they make for excellent bedfellows.

Of course, none of this is to say that female obesity is a feminist conspiracy, that would be quite absurd. Like you said, dystopian societal trends.

Indeed.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

One notices a remarkable correlation between this, and the perceived attitudes of local women and their obesity rates.

(The map above was made by RVF commentator “durangotang” based on the geographic data here).

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

Commentator AP writes:

Very true. Russian and Ukrainian women enjoy being women. This was once the case in the United States too, a couple of generations ago. But in the American case there was the baggage of the second-rate status of women. It seems that in legitimately struggling against inequality, Western feminists have confused eqality with sameness and damaged femininity by making women more like men (my wife and our female Russian friends always see deep underlying [misogyny] in the feminists they have encountered). It’s like if blacks had battled racism by not only fighting against discrimination but also by creating the image of a “liberated” black having pale skin, straight hair, and no hint of ebonics.

He is correct in every respect.

Russian women achieved the vote in 1917. Criticize them as you will – and I do – the Bolsheviks early on inserted equity feminism into the foundations of Russian society. This was a generation or two ahead of similar developments in the West. And it was a good thing. Today Russian women get paid more relative to men than in America or Britain, probably because spending a fortune on a Womyn’s Studies degree and then ranting about the “global patriarchy” at Jezebel or The Guardian when they find out no-one wants to hire (or marry) them isn’t a commonly accepted lifestyle choice.

When American women started demanding more rights many of them embraced gender feminism as the solution. Unlike equity feminism, which corresponds to classical liberal notions of legal equality, gender feminists want to feminize men and institute matriarchy. Matriarchy is of course an oxymoron and in practice means rule by alpha males, coupled with wanton repression of beta males (achieved in the West via alimony law, “rape culture”, harassment lawsuits, etc). Alpha males don’t take shit from feminists and as women they admire them; respectable betas follow the rules, as is their wont, and get shafted for their troubles, because no woman can truly respect a man who submits to her whims.

What you have then is complete social dysfunction, as a result of what is a deeply reactionary and anti-human ideology. It is ironic that (real) Marxism shielded Russia and the rest of Eastern Europe from the much more ruinous scourge that is cultural Marxism.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

This is one of those stereotypes that is totally correct. Take a casual stroll about any Russian town and the typical woman you see would be considered “very cute” or “pretty” in places like the Germany, the UK or the US. And one or two of them will have supermodel looks. That kind of talent you will only get in a few select places in the US like Santa Barbara, parts of LA, etc. You also see unremarkable lanky, unkempt dudes with solid 8′s whereas in the US they will either be with a fat white chick or a 5/6 Asian.

I recall some studies been done about this which basically came to the same conclusion. Women from Eastern Europe (Russia, Ukraine, Poles, etc) being rated as the most attractive among whites. In my experience I’d also add Norwegians (Swedes are too Germanic-plain) and Bulgarians to the list.

Why is this the case? The eXile theory of “dyevolution” posits that this stemmed from the USSR’s huge manpower losses in WW2. The theory goes that in the postwar period, with sex ratios absurdly skewed, only the hotter part of the beauty bell curve was able to find husbands. While under other circumstances we could have expected some degree of “soft polygamy” in which alpha males develop harems (or formal polygamy, as practiced by traditional Islamic societies with lots of inter-tribal warfare) this was not the case in the USSR what with strict Stalinist social mores and controls.

The theory is superficially attractive but false. This pussy paradise was only actual for a single generation i.e. 1945-65, i.e. not enough time to make any substantial genetic level impact given reversion to the mean. Besides it wouldn’t explain countries like Bulgaria or the Czech Republic, where demographic wartime losses were minimal, or even Poland, where half the 6mn deaths were of Jews and the other 3mn were of civilians (i.e., not as overwhelmingly skewed towards young males as military deaths). On the other hand, German military deaths relative to their male population were no lower than those of the Russians, and in addition many of their POW’s were in prison until the mid-1950′s. But German chicks haven’t become particularly beautiful. They remain much the same as they always have: Plain and stolid Gretchen. In addition, the high reputations of Slavic women precedes the 20th century anyway. Napoleon’s mistresses were Polish. The Ottoman Sultans filled their harems with East Slavic women. One of them, Roxelana, became very politically influential.

Of course there are plenty of other possible explanations. For a start Eastern Europe, and Ukraine in particular, was always pretty violent. Then again was it exceptionally so by medieval standards? After the Viking period, Scandinavia was very peaceful, and their women are considered very beautiful and desirable too (I for one fully agree with Norway’s inclusion in that group). I think Chinese and Korean women are prettier than average too and these have consistently been very peaceful and “beta” societies. Maybe Slavic EE women just dress better and take more effort to look more feminine? That is certainly part of the equation, but even if Anglo/Germanic women started (re)adopting these same habits, the difference would not be bridged. So this must remain an open question…

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

(1) Mass shootings of this type account for far less than 1% of US homicides. As such it is pointless and bizarre to try to make some kind of anti-guns point with them.

(2) They are a relatively new phenomenon; even the term “postal killings“, describing mass shootings at postal offices, was first coined in 1993. This suggests that other factors are at work. In particular, these shooters almost always tend to be whites or Asians with no girlfriend and frequently specializing in STEM fields; a remarkable fact given that most homicides in the US are committed by low-class Blacks or Hispanics. They are also loners: James Holmes himself, as well as Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech), George Sodini (who was so desperate at never getting laid that he attended seduction workshops), Marc Lépine, etc. In short what ties most of them together is that these mass shootings are driven by beta male rage.

Here is how James Holmes was described by a female classmate. Note that “weird” coming from a chick is the kiss of death to any romantic prospect:

“I always thought that he was a little strange. I could never put my finger on it, but something told me to not get to close to him, female instincts I guess,” the female student told NBC News. “I had tons of classes with him and lived across from him in the Honors dorms. He was a very smart guy though. He was a little bit of a weird guy, but we were honors students, so weird people were kind of common.”

(3) Why now? I assume that from the 1980′s on society passed some critical tipping point. Before it was possibly to get a good girlfriend just by being a “nice guy”; today it is necessary to skilfully game women to get laid with any frequency. Today the combination of obesity (especially among lower class women) and unleashed female hypergamy (especially among higher class women) which enabled alpha male soft polygamy has made half of femdom practically inaccessible to your average beta. Your typical shooter isn’t just a beta but a raging omega; condemned to a life of celibacy by a social ineptitude that society no longer caters for because of the aforementioned factors. Some of them marry their cats or become homosexuals; a few go on killing sprees driven by sexless rage.

(4) That said, it’s important to keep in mind that these mass shootings are in the end a mere cultural curiosity, more than anything. They dominate the airwaves but the chances of getting killed in one is probably no more than the chances of dying in a terrorist attack on US soil, or getting struck dead by lightning. Only a fool or paranoiac would spend his days worrying about it. The vast majority of homicides in the US are accounted for by inner city areas, where homicide rates can go as high as 40/100,000 (e.g. Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans, St. Louis, Washington DC). As is well known all these places have in common a racial composition of a certain character. Meanwhile there are quite a few states with West European-level homicide rates of below 2/100,000: New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, Minnesota, Hawaii, Maine, Utah. What’s immediately striking is that these are the states with the most, erm, European-like populations.

(6) The main liberal-collectivist argument against gun rights is that they increase homicide rates. However these is no real statistical evidence for this. At least in a reasonably high-IQ population, there is no reason to think that sprinkling firearms all over makes homicide rates any worse. The liberal-collectivists hate this because they deny HBD theory and reality and affirm human equality, and would rather law-abiding citizens go defenseless against criminals than admit they are wrong. Indeed, they are like radical Communists or fascists, putting ideology ahead of people.

(7) Feminism (with its attendant obesity apologism and female hypergamy) is for the most part responsible for mass shootings. NAM’s (Non-Asian Minorities) – especially Blacks, who account for about 50% of homicides on 13% of the total population [statistics linkie] – are responsible for the US homicide rate being more than twice as high as Europe’s. Guns are faultless; to the contrary, they tend to incentivize the very middle-class civility that is typical of low-violence societies. That is why the liberal-collectivists and cultural Marxists and Guardianistas oh so predictably hate them and want to take them away from us.

From our cold dead hands they will!

EDIT 7/25: And I was completely, 100% correct as always surprise surprise.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

The woman on the right is the Egyptian First Lady in 1930. The woman on the left is Mrs. Mursi, First Lady in 2012.

I do not know if there is any better illustration of the collapse in aesthetics, culture, etc. when Islamic radicals seize power thanks to their liberal, internationalist, and socialist enablers. Truly, it is a horror to behold.

PS. Sorry for the short nature of the posts of late. I’m very busy ATM.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

And no, I ain’t talking of that von Neumann crap. :)

Game theory as developed by Heartiste and Co (1, 2, 3, 4). Before we start, there are two concepts we must avail ourselves of:


Female hypergamy
: Woman’s tendency to mate up the social hierarchy.

Soft polygamy: See picture right, as helpfully illustrated by yours truly.

Back in the “good old days”, i.e. say the 1950′s, life was much simpler. Female labor participation was low, their salaries were low, the Pill had yet to be invented, marriage was a respected institution, divorce and single motherhood were very much frowned upon, and female obesity was very low. There was one guy for every eligible girl and dating was a a sweet and simple affair.

Fast forward to today. Female salaries and labor participation have practically equalized with those of men, thus diluting men’s relative economic power. The Pill and the end of belief in the sanctity of marriage (divorce and single motherhood have soared since the 1960′s) have unleashed the floodgates of female hypergamy; across femdom, chicks are looking to mate up, leaving their now powerless beta providers by the wayside. On the other end of the scale, female obesity – fueled by aesthetic WMD’s in the form of McDonald’s, KFC, and corn subsidies – has ballooned, to the extent that it now afflicts almost half the female population. Nothing destroys a woman’s looks and attractiveness to men quite like obesity. This alone halves the eligible pool of fuckable women.

But then on the other end of the scale (no pun intended) you have the appearance of soft polygamy. This is a natural consequence of the disappearance of those social mores and taboos that in prior decades held female hypergamy in check. With that loosened, alpha males – both natural alphas (e.g. Tom Cruise, Silvio Berlusconi), and betas who learn game (e.g. Neil Strauss, Roosh) – develop harems, ushering in soft polygamy. Women are biologically wired such that they would rather share an alpha with many other women and compete for his attentions rather than tolerate monogamy with a beta. Case in point.

Alphas now have it better than they ever; the world is their oyster as never before with the sole exceptions, perhaps, in the twilight periods of decadent civilizations, or the aftermaths of great wars that rewarded men’s spilled blood with beautiful postwar ratios. Pinned down between the Scylla of female obesity and the Charybdis of soft polygamy, betas face a hellscape of shuffling shoggoths, indentured orbitude to the few remaining classy women, and nightly love-making to the lonely hand.

This no doubt goes someway to explaining the increasing physical manifestations of involuntary male celibacy: Aggressive, in-your-face homosexuality; asexuality; men marrying their cats; men marrying their sex dolls; genital cutting all the way down to penile bisection (if you Google this, I’m not liable for your psychotherapy costs); men cutting off and cooking their own penises; etc. The latter phenomena are indeed the most potent (inverse pun) symbols of male emasculation at the dawn of the new millennium.

Unlike many in the “manosphere”, I don’t bother attaching moral labels to these developments. It’s a waste of time. Besides morality is beta anyway. There are two immediately relevant things to take away from this “game” interpretation of recent American social history:

(1) The importance of learning game for any aspiring lifestyle artist if he is not already a natural; or at the very least, migrating someplace where feminism and female obesity has yet to make major inroads, like Russia, Poland, or Argentina.

(2) For all the possible holes in “game theory” (and I think I can identify a few), it’s still far superior an explanation of the trajectory of American society than anything, absolutely ANYTHING, you will find in your sociology textbooks. The only contender, and it’s more complement than competition, is Murray’s and Herrnstein’s work on cognitive stratification and the IQ bell curve – for which they’ve been made academic pariahs. That is because modern academe embraces cultural Marxism and loathes reality.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

The second part of my series comparing Russia, Britain, and the US focuses on the people themselves. What are their strengths and foibles? How do they vary by class, region, race, and religion? How do they view each other and other countries and peoples? What do they eat, drink, and watch? Where do they travel and against which groups do they they discriminate?

The National Character

As befits its climate, Californians are a sunny and gregarious people. It is not unusual to refer to someone as your friend after getting to know her after a few minutes, whereas this typically takes weeks in Europe. Other states are, from what I heard, different; e.g. New Yorkers are known for being curt and rude.

Friendly is distinct from polite. As a rule, Britons are very polite. However, this translates into a greater sense of distance and insistence on propriety that approaches dourness as one travels north into Scotland. Driving on UK roads is a stress-free experience (and a boring one), while Californian roads demand attention and Russian roads are for thrill seekers only.

Russians are cold and curt to strangers, which many foreigners attribute to rudeness. This isn’t exactly fair; most Russians are just warier of people they don’t know. This is not an irrational attitude in a society more permeated by scams and violence.

Friendships that do develop with Russians usually go deeper than in Britain or the US. If you slip down a social class or two, e.g. after a bankruptcy, you may find your previously big social circles beginning to melt away in the West. In particular, Americans have a special instinct for steering away from “losers”.

Russians ARE far less civil in big groups. For instance, it is common for someone to start talking on her cell phone in a cinema. While Britons will always let a pedestrian walk across a zebra crossing – as they are obliged to do by traffic regulations – there is a 25% chance that an American wouldn’t, and a 75%+ chance that a Russian wouldn’t. By and large, Russians only follow regulations out of fear of punishment – and as mentioned in the last part, these regulations are rarely policed.

Many things will make you go WTF?! in Russia.

Many things will make you go WTF?! in Russia.

On the other hand, the disregard for social conventions leads to a lot of quirky and unusual happenings in Russia. E.g., I’ve seen a man walking with a bear in central St.-Petersburg, walkways leading into blank walls and cars with their internal machinery exposed, etc. In general, weird things like this are rarer in the US, and almost non-existent in the monotone plod of British life.

Girls typically consider American men to be more humorous and talkative than British men, though the latter enjoy a more masculine reputation. Russians are considered to be more romantic or macho (it’s usually one or the other).

Though not quite as disciplined as the Germans, the British are expected to get to meetings strictly on time. Things are far laxer in Russia, where it is common to see people wandering in and out of meetings, and half or a quarter failing to turn up at all. The golden mean is in California, where things are fairly casual but still organized (e.g. “Berkeley time” equals the appointed time plus ten minutes). But it is not representative of the US as a whole; stricter punctuality is expected in the east of the country.

The US is dominated by imperial measurements – miles; pounds; Fahrenheit; etc. Britain is also largely imperial – miles; pounds; Celsius. Russia is completely metric since the Revolution – kilometers, kilograms, Celsius; with archaic units like the verst or the pud only present in poetry or referring to traditional objects (e.g. church bells).

Class System

Lower class whites are "white trash" in the US, "chavs" in Britain, and "gopniki" in Russia.

Lower class whites are “white trash” in the US, “chavs” in Britain, and “gopniki” in Russia.

Despite the UK having the lowest formal rate of economic inequality – its Gini index is 34, compared to Russia’s 40 and America’s 45 (for comparison, Sweden – 25; Brazil – 57) – it also has by far the most deeply embedded class system. There is a world of difference between the socio-economic expectations of the “chavs” (low-class; lumpenproletariat), the working class (emphasizes importance of hard, honest work); and the upper middle class (goes to Oxbridge; constitutes political and financial elite).

Even their accents are noticeably different: Britain may well be the only country on Earth where class overrides region and ethnicity in this respect. There are very clear demarcations between poor, middle-class, and affluent neighborhoods. Needless to say, the latter two also have the best schools. I would estimate that the UK has lower social mobility than either the US or Russia.

Despite their higher inequality, relative to Britain, there are fewer class differences in the US and far fewer in Russia (though they’re increasing in both countries).

Russia’s case is unsurprising. It had no billionaires before about 1995; even millionaires only began reappearing in the late 1980′s. They might vacation in the French Riviera and send their children to private schools, but it is not uncommon for that same Russian millionaire to live in a Moscow flat with other professionals and pensioners, and retreat to his dacha on the weekends (however, more and more of them are moving to gated communities as is common in the US).

Regional Stereotypes

In the UK: London / the South is viewed as rich, effete, unconcerned with the rest of the country; Wales as a quaint land of castles and sheep-shaggers; northerners as hard-drinking coal miners. The biggest national rivalry is between England and Scotland, which the latter are always fated to lose. I was unimpressed by my (short) visit to Northern Ireland; it seems that its economy is about two decades behind the rest of the country, e.g. things look run-down; bad roads; petrol stations don’t accept credit cards. (This was in stark contrast to the Republic of Eire in the south, which struck me as being very modern, shiny clean, and efficient; though granted, I visited it at the height of its boom, which has since turned into a huge bust).

You can't get much more stereotypically Ukrainian than this.

You can’t get much more stereotypically Ukrainian than this.

In Russia: Moscow is viewed as rich, privileged, uncaring to the rest of the country; St.-Petersburg is regarded as more intellectual and cultured; the peoples of the Urals and Siberia are viewed as being wilder and tougher, and more criminal; and the North Caucasus – because of its society being vastly different from that of ethnic Russians (very religious, based on clan loyalties, hyper-patriarchal, different language, culture and religion) – is viewed as another country. Further afield, Georgians are the butt of jokes on account of their accents, rural nature, oversexed men and goat-shagging; Central Asia is viewed as a land of oriental exoticism; Ukraine is regarded as the poor cousin that speaks mangled Russian. To Russian jokers, Ukrainians are khokhly, which refers to a stereotypical Cossack hairstyle, while to Ukrainian jokers Russians are moskali, which refers to Muscovites, with their reputation for conceited arrogance.

In the US: New York is the big city of money and arrogance; Los Angeles is the big city of money and air-brushed decadence; the Bay Area are full is full of liberals and stoners and open-source IT geeks (not mutually exclusive); the “South” is full of religious nuts and inbreds (Q: What’s an Okie girl who can run faster than her brothers? A: A virgin); the peoples of the Rockies are men of asperity and libertarian independence and paranoid anti-government survivalism; Texas has oilmen and cowboys; the Plains have wholesome American homesteaders who fear God; the Mid-West has decrepit deserted towns full of rusting factories and criminals (it’s called the “Rustbelt”); the East Coast is full of elitists, bankers, and mocha-sipping liberals.

Religion

The Creation Museum in Kentucky features exhibits of humans coexisting with dinosaurs.

The Creation Museum in Kentucky features exhibits of humans coexisting with dinosaurs.

About half of Americans deny evolution and believe in the literal truth of the Bible, a figure that elicits smirks among Europeans; including Britons and Russians, amongst whom such people constitute no more than 20% of the population. Interestingly, many Christian fundamentalists in the US are polite, generous, middle-class, frequently young professionals; but then your ears wilt as they move onto topics like gay marriage or the moral decline of society. In some of the conservative states, there have been attempts to teach “intelligent design” (a lightly disguised form of creationism) on an equal footing with the theory of evolution.

In recent years, Britain has experienced an inflow of the kind of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity so popular in the US, and in contrast to the patterns of previous decades, it is now young people and denizens of London – traditionally the most secular groups – that are becoming the most fundamentalist. That said, most Britons and Russians remain mostly agnostic, atheistic, or mystical-pagan in a way that sidesteps traditional dogma. Go into a typical Orthodox Church in Russia, and practically all the congregation will consist of elderly women in skirts and shawls.

There is no separation of Church and state in Russia and the UK, unlike in the US; their governments finance the churches, mosques, etc. In Russia, the state considers four religions to be traditional to Russia, and supports them financially; they are Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. Other faiths are ignored (e.g. Roman Catholics, pagans), or harassed (e.g. evangelical proselytizers, Wahhabi preachers), or in the case of Scientology banned as a cult. In the past two years there was a big scandal when the Education Ministry decided to begin teaching classes on “The Foundations of Orthodoxy” and on other religions, with critics arguing that it represents undue religious influence in secular school institutions; as someone who had mandatory classes in religion (mostly Christianity) at a British state school, and aware of the Sunday Bible classes common in the US, I find their concern hard to understand.

There are two major groups that are exceptions to secularity in Russia and the UK. First, Britain’s Muslim community isn’t only very religious by British Christian, but also by European Muslim standards. In fact, a high percentage of them are outright fundamentalists, e.g. more than a third support the death penalty for apostasy. Second, the Muslims of Russia’s Caucasus, such as the Chechens, Ingushetians, and Daghestanis. Few of them are fundamentalist, however their religiosity is well above those of ethnic Russians (as well as of Muslim ethnicities in the center of Russia, like the Tatars or Bashkirs) and comparable to that of the conservative US states. They largely follow Sufi Islam, which is moderate; however, since the mid-1990′s, there have appeared more extremist Islamists.

How do they view each other?

Americans view the British as transatlantic cousins, with some odd quirks and a Queen, and reliable allies. The British like Americans, but feelings towards the US state are very mixed – whereas conservative elements admire it as the (perceived) defender of Western civilization, bastion of morality and religion, etc., the liberal elements detest it for its (perceived) hypocrisy, imperialism, bloodthirstiness, Guantanamo, etc. Many British also think – justifiably, IMO – that they got the short end of the stick in the Special Relationship between their two countries (i.e. whereas the UK bends over backwards to support US foreign policy objectives, the Americans treat it like any other West European country).

Russian attitudes towards Britain, and especially the US, vary greatly by political persuasion. Its liberals adore the US (and dislike or hate many aspects of their own country); the Communists and patriots / nationalists dislike or hate it. On average, they are mildly positive or neutral, which is a retreat from the very positive feelings they have for the US in the 1990′s. Since then, the general sentiment has been one of repeated let-downs (e.g. bombing Serbia; the Iraq invasion; the moral support for Georgia in the 2008 South Ossetia War; etc). This has distinctly cooled Russia’s love for the West in general, and the US in particular. Many Russians do acknowledge that the West does many things objectively better than Russia, and is worthy of emulation; however, Westerners are now recognized to be driven by self-interest, not altruism, and thus all dealings with them should be made with caution*.

The ekranoplan is fast, capacious, and hard to detect.

* This is in stark contrast to the naive optimism of the late 1980′s – early 1990′s. Back then, the Soviets and their successors thought that the West would be willing to cooperate with Russia on equal terms, which led to many idiotic mistakes. One minor, but telling, example: Russia had a unique technology called the ekranoplan, a plane that could fly meters above the water at jumbo jet speeds, with obvious military and logistical applications. Hoping to cooperate on their further development with the US, the Soviets invited American journalists to come look over the machines, allowing them to photograph all the details, etc. Needless to say, the Americans never came back for a second visit. They began working on their own ekranoplan using the photos and videos that would have required billions of dollars to buy, or steal. (And this is just one example, there were dozens of similar cases). And who can blame them? They were only being rational and capitalistic, and to their loss, the Russians hadn’t yet gotten used to thinking in those terms.

One cover says as much as 1,000 words.

One cover says as much as 1,000 words.

The British, and I imagine the Americans, viewed Russians with mistrust and hostility in the 1990′s and most of the 2000′s. Interestingly, the more educated and middle class a Brit is, the more likely he is to view Russians as un-European, aggressive, and barbaric subhumans; partly, I think it is because media outlets aimed at the bourgeoisie, such as The Economist or the Wall Street Journal, tend to have the most Russophobic slant of the Western media which is no mean feat*. (In contrast, the views of ordinary people tend to be apolitical, associating Russia with bears, vodka, Matryoshka dolls, etc). That said, things seem to have began to change in the past 5 years. This just proves that the remedy for Western contempt isn’t becoming (the Western definition of) liberal democracy, or even having pro-Western policies, but getting richer, stronger, and more independent of them. I noticed that by around 2008, most acerbic comments by bourgeois Brits about East Europeans were addressed in the direction of Poles and Ukrainians.

* I think both US and British media coverage of Russia is atrocious, a subject I will cover in far greater detail later in the series.

The British tend to be a bit more skeptical of their media than the Americans, which is perhaps why Americans have an even lower opinion of Russia. On the other hand, Russians as people are far more readily accepted into US society; the Americans are far less nativist and ethnocentric than the British.

How do they view other countries?

The American view of the world aside is centered around: Mexico (poor, illegal immigrants, burritos, drug wars otherwise good holiday destination); Canada (cold, lumberjacks, boring); China (stealing our jobs, outproducing us); Japan (robots, anime); the UK (the Queen, quaint traditions); Europe (old, decadent, wine, lots of history, aging); Israel (our good friends / will bring on the Second Coming / extremist Zionists); Middle East (Arabs, oil, sand dunes, hate women); South America (cocaine, coffee, jungles, ten minute dictators).

Americans view most West European nations, and Japan, positively (though this depends on the political mood; for instance, during 2003, the French were hated by conservatives); they are neutral or mildly negative towards China and Russia (view them as authoritarian strategic competitors); very negative towards most of the Muslim world and the countries their political elites have defined as being “rogue nations” (e.g. Cuba, North Korea).

The US under Obama is positively regarded in Western Europe, very positively in Poland and Korea (viewed as a liberator and protector) and Africa, mildly positively or neutral in Russia and China (imperialistic strategic competitor), negatively in Latin America (they’re not fans of the Monroe Doctrine, and view Americans as rich and arrogant gringos), and very negatively in the Muslim world (who are accused of supporting kleptocratic elites who funnel profits from the people’s oil into their Swiss bank accounts and disrespect Islam).

The British view of the world revolves around Europe (i.e. the EU) and the Commonwealth (the countries that used to make up its Empire). France and Spain are regarded as nice places to visit; Germany is viewed as a center of industry and trading partner. Poland is good, but the immigrants aren’t appreciated. The EU is nice and convenient, but should NOT be allowed to infringe on British sovereignty in any meaningful capacity. (In fact, what the UN is to American conservatives, the EU is to British conservatives; frightening bureaucratic constructs dead-set on crushing their hallowed liberties).

Canada, Australia and New Zealand are comfortable, brotherly English-speaking places (Australia in particular is a favored emigration destination). Russia is a foreboding presence to the east that spies on us. India is viewed favorably. One of the big debates in the British Indian community is about whether the Empire had a positive or negative historical role for their old country. China is strange, distant and exotic.

Britain is viewed positively in most places outside the Muslim world, where it is regarded as a stooge of the US. One exception is Argentina, with which there are still tensions over the Falklands / Malvinas dispute.

The Russians divide the world into the “Near Abroad” (the territories of the former USSR) and the “Far Abroad” (everywhere else). In the Near Abroad, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan are regarded as brotherly nations and there is popular support – more so in those countries than even in Russia – for a closer union, perhaps along the lines of the EU. However, it should be noted that in Ukraine, attitudes towards Russia vary: whereas they are very positive in the east and south, the central and western areas to a far greater extent stress the Ukrainian national identity.

Bulgarians and Serbians are very pro-Russian. Almost all of them I’ve met adore it, if anything, more than Russians themselves (to the extent that I was at times forced into the uncomfortable position of arguing that Russia’s really isn’t all that awesome). In a sharp reversal from Soviet times, when Armenian terrorists seeking independence bombed the Moscow Metro, today Armenians really like Russia; presumably, because it is its main protector against Azerbaijan, with which it has territorial disputes that resulted in a war in the 1990′s. (The Azeris are backed by Turkey and the US, while Iran – geopolitics trumping religion – backs Christian Armenia over Muslim Azerbaijan). The Azeris, unsurprisingly, aren’t positive towards Russia.

9/11 monument, "The Tear of Grief", by Zurab Tsereteli, an ethnic Georgian who is Russia's most prominent architect. Gifted to the US.

9/11 monument, “The Tear of Grief”, by Zurab Tsereteli, an ethnic Georgian who is Russia’s most prominent architect. Gifted to the US.

Georgia was mostly pro-Soviet, in large part thanks to national boundaries being drawn in their favor under Stalin, who was an ethnic Georgian. (This was the root cause of the 2008 South Ossetia War: Georgia attempting to reincorporate the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which split off after the Soviet collapse and don’t want to go back to Georgia; and Russia intervening in support of the Ossetians).

Current relations are heavily colored by the adverse politics between the two countries. Russians dislike President Saakashvili, but are OK towards Georgians; at least, they like Georgian cuisine, if not their architects. While many Georgians dislike Russia, others obviously disagree, at the very least the 20% of their 5 million population that now lives in Russia.

Poles are split fifty-fifty on Russia. One elderly Pole in the UK was extremely pro-Russian, having been freed by the Red Army from a Nazi concentration camp in 1945; he died a few years ago. Another one was a Russophobe extremist, and impossible to communicate with on that account (his parents had migrated from Poland in the 1980′s). Yet another was 100% apolitical and easy to get on with. Etc.

Though Central Asians like and appreciate Russian culture – it was Soviet power that created their nation-states in their modern form – the reverse is largely untrue.

March of SS veterans in Riga, Latvia in 2009. Balts consider them freedom fighters; Russians say they were war criminals. As usual, the truth is probably somewhere in between.

March of SS veterans in Riga, Latvia in 2009. Balts consider them freedom fighters; Russians say they were war criminals. As usual, the truth is probably somewhere in between.

The Balts are viewed negatively and the feeling is very mutual. Once the Baltic nations got independence from the USSR, they made citizenship for ethnic Russians subject upon the passage of a (politicized) history test and language test (Estonian or Latvian are hard to learn for anyone, let alone people in their 50′s or 60′s). This has resulted in a large population of Russian aliens in the Baltic states, who are subjected to extensive discrimination, as documented by HR organizations like Amnesty.

These disputes are centered around different interpretations of history. The Baltic peoples view the USSR as an occupier, and hence the ethnic Russians as illegal immigrants (even though they came not of their own volition but by the decree of Soviet central planners). Latvia has even built a monument to their national Waffen SS, and holds annual marches for its veterans. It sees them as freedom fighters against Soviet occupation, whereas Russians (and Jews) see them as war criminals. Both have a point. The majority of Balts – though far from all of them – did not want to be incorporated into the USSR in 1939, and their “forest brother” anti-Soviet partisans had popular support. However, the narrative that it was a heroic struggle against oppression is rendered implausible by the fact that 90%+ of all Jews in the Baltics were wiped out under Nazi rule, with the enthusiastic cooperation of the local population.

One unpleasant experience I had was at a friend’s birthday party in a Dublin restaurant; the two waiters never came up to take our orders, but continued serving newcomers. After more than half an hour, we decided to investigate what the matter was, after one of the waiters smirked at us and turned back to some couple who had come in 10 minutes ago. The (Irish) restaurant owner reprimanded the waiter, after which he cursed at us, and was fired on the spot. It turned out that they were both Latvians, and though there’s no way to prove it, I’m pretty sure it was our Russian-language conversation that provoked their hostility. (The affair ended by the restaurant owner apologizing and offering free service, but by then we had no desire to remain there and went elsewhere).

Balts sometimes argue that Russians exaggerate or invent the presence of Russophobia in Latvia and Estonia, but if the above incident is anything to go by – very hostile reactions to Russian spoken not even in their own countries but on the other side of Europe – it might if anything be underestimated.

If there’s one generalization I can make about all of these views, it is that throughout the post-Soviet space, Russia (and Russians) is viewed more positively by ordinary people, less positively by the elites. I suspect it is not because of their higher perspicacity, but because more educated people tend to be better at constructing narratives. The most widespread elite narrative there is that Russia is the successor of the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union oppressed their culture and stymied their development potential.

In the Far Abroad, the Americans and most Europeans view Russia very negatively, as does Japan because of the Kurils dispute; otherwise, most Arab and African countries, China and India view it positively and Latin Americans are neutral. This is largely reflected by (and/or caused by) the media coverage of Russia; whereas European and America news outlets rant on about Russian authoritarianism, imperialism, etc., I’ve noticed that the non-Western media hold a more balanced stance.

Russia has more or less normal relations with countries shunned by the US, e.g. Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Syria, etc. This has to do with commercial interests, plus the fact that the Russian political elites believe US denunciations of these countries based on human rights are nothing more than a cover for advancing its geopolitical interests, or else: why do they remain silent on, say, Saudi Arabia, which is certainly no better than any “rogue nation”? As noted in the previous part, though the UK and US passports are far better for travel in general, visiting places like Iran is much easier (and safer) with a Russian passport.

Foreign Languages

Unlike the more urbane central Europeans, all three countries perform pretty miserably on foreign language knowledge. Perhaps 20% of Americans (excluding Hispaniacs) can speak Spanish fluently, though this is probably a California bias and lower in the eastern states. Knowledge of other languages is rare, excluding immigrant communities. A similar proportion of Britons can speak French fluently; the vast majority can only dredge up a few phrases that they learned back in secondary school.

The situation in Russia is a bit more complicated. The older generations, that is until 1970, mostly studied German at school. Needless to say, the vast majority did not reach proficiency. After 1970, the emphasis switched to English, but again, for the vast majority of Soviet citizens – those who did not intend to become trade delegates, diplomats, spies, academics, etc. – fluency was not required, so amongst the middle-aged, perhaps 20% or fewer can competently communicate in it. From the 1990′s, it became clear that English is indispensable to success in the modern global marketplace. I would say that amongst young Russians, an adequate level of English knowledge is approaching 50% (though this is still far below the near universal English knowledge amongst young Germans or Swedes). Knowledge of languages other than English is minimal.

Intelligence

While there exist stereotypes of the ignorant American, the cultured Englishman, the uncultured Russian savage, etc., they are fairly useless. Differences between personalities far exceed any national differences. For what they’re worth, international IQ tests peg the US, the UK and Russia at around 95-100; lower than East Asian countries like Japan or Korea (105), but average for industrialized countries.

All three countries have an anti-intellectual climate. In British schools, especially amongst males, not giving a fuck about schoolwork confers coolness. In the US, “nerds” and “geeks” are ostracized, since associating with them threatens one’s social status. From what I heard, things are largely similar in Russian schools.

Travel & Tourism

Many middle-class Americans travel to places like Mexico, Australia, Canada, the UK, France, Italy, or other places of the US on holidays. In winter, ski resorts in the Rockies are popular; in summer, the US has a rich variety of stunning national parks to choose from (e.g. Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Everglades, etc).

Among Californians, favorite getaway destinations include Yosemite National Park (it of the giant sequoia trees), the ski resorts of Lake Tahoe, the casinos of Reno and Las Vegas, and the beaches south of Santa Barbara (which offer great surfing). Americans can freely visit the border Mexican city of Tijuana, either individually or, as recommended, in tour groups. (In the guardhouse on the border, there are photos of the hundreds of Americans who went into Mexico and never came back). Needless to say, Mexicans aren’t accorded similar privileges.

One Turkish resort even built a replica Red Square for Russian tourists.

One Turkish resort even built a replica Red Square for Russian tourists.

If going abroad for the sun, Russians tend to visit Turkey, Egypt, the Crimean peninsula or Odessa in Ukraine, or their own resorts at Sochi and Krasnodar. The latter also include ski resorts; they were once primitive, but are now being rapidly developed in time for the upcoming Sochi Olympics. Many residents of the Far East hop across the Chinese border to do shopping.

However, most Russians stay at home, or go to their dachas (country houses), where they do some of the following: harvest their fruit and vegetable gardens; swim in Russia’s myriad lakes and rivers; mow the grass; make barbecues (shashlyk) and drink beer; etc. I would estimate around half of Muscovites have a dacha outside the city.

For the British, popular destinations include: the beaches of Spain, France, Majorca; cities with cheap booze like Prague or Budapest; or further afield, the US and Australia. The most popular emigration destinations are Australia, the US, Canada, Spain and New Zealand. Hundreds of thousands of Britons maintain holiday homes in Spain and Portugal.

All three countries’ tourists have very poor reputations. Americans are regarded as arrogant, ignorant, loud, demanding, and culturally insensitive. Britons are infamous for trashing places during alcohol-fueled parties; in particular, their football hooligans are the stuff of legend throughout civilized Europe. Russians are considered rude, penny-pinching gluttons and drunks (where Russian clienteles predominate, hoteliers and restaurateurs have learned to avoid open-ended “All you can eat” deals, because Russians exploit them for all they’re worth and they end up losing money on them).

Parties & Night Life

British and US parties involve a lot of beer, and hard spirits with mixers. The American parties tend to be wilder and have more drugs. Russian parties just have a lot of beer and vodka.

American night clubs tend to have older clienteles, because of the higher drinking age and strict checks. Especially compared between university towns, American nightlife is far more subdued.

Hip Russian nightclubs and American frats practice “face control”. You may not get in if you are (1) a male without 2+ girls or (2) a non-pretty girl.

Cuisine

Obesity in the US.

Obesity in the US.

Everything in America is much sweeter. And bigger, but mainly sweeter; sometimes uncomfortably so for the foreign palate. Though there is a rich selection of foods at both shops and restaurants, including healthy options, most Americans seem to prefer high-glycemic load foods such as burgers, fries, breaded chicken, etc. The unsurprising result is an obesity crisis, though the extent of it varies by state, race, and sex. In the health-conscious Bay Area, for instance, the majority of people are normal or slightly overweight; go to the numerous, small towns further inland – with their monoscape of strip malls, fast food joints and SUV’s – and practically everyone over the age of thirty is obese or approaching it. California is one of the slimmer states, along with the East Coast states; blacks and Hispaniacs are on average fatter than whites and Asians, and women more so than men.

The UK is slightly better off than the US in this regard, but not by much (furthermore if Scotland was an independent country it would be the most obese in the world). Obesity is much less prevalent in Russia, albeit with two major caveats. First, many Russian women begin to fill up after the age of thirty or so (obesity even in older men is rare). Second, in recent years, the obesity problem has increased, and if current trends continue it may “catch up” to the Anglo-Saxon countries in another decade.

Cioppino stew, the author's interpretation.

Cioppino stew, the author’s interpretation.

The US has a brilliant range of culinary cultures, as befits its “melting pot” society. Its ethnic dishes are sometimes even judged to be better than what’s done in their country of origin, since as they’re freed from the constraints of tradition, immigrant cooks can innovate or mix and match. I’m guilty of that myself, e.g. replacing the potatoes in Russian soups with tofu, and adding lemon and spices.

The Bay Area is especially good for Mexican, Thai, Japanese, and Vietnamese. The UK is very strong on Indian food, due to the size of its diaspora, but like the US its range is global. Ethnic cuisine is also present in Russia, though it’s mostly limited to food from Eurasian countries (an exception is Japanese – for the upper class circles, sushi has become something of a craze); the favorites are Georgian and Uzbek dishes.

The national cuisines of all three countries are plain – nothing fancy, as with French, or world-famous, as with Italian or Chinese – but filling. Though the US is, of course, best known for its fast McDonald’s food culture (burgers, fries, soft drinks, etc), it also has interesting regional cuisines.

The most famous is Southern cuisine, which is sweet, spicy, filling, tasty and unhealthy: it features rice; barbecues; a panoply of sauces; fried chicken; crawfish; “gumbo” stew; and a drink called swamp water (far better than its name suggests). The dish most native to California – to the extent that a California cuisine even exists, given its overwhelming tendency to amalgamate global styles instead of generating original recipes – is heavily fish-based and includes the cioppino soup. If you ever get more seafood than you know what to do with, there’s a solution!

The Sunday roast.

The Sunday roast.

English cuisine is bland, boring, and filling. The more famous offerings include: The “English breakfast” (bacon, a sausage, fried eggs, a tomato, and black tea); the “Sunday roast” (roast beef, potatoes, vegetables, gravy, and a bread-like cup called Yorkshire Pudding); cottage pie; shepherd’s pie. The best known dish, fish and chips, is actually Scottish. So, of course, is haggis; though the ingredients better remain undisclosed, it is actually pretty delicious.

Pelmeni.

Pelmeni.

Russian cuisine is, IMO, one of the better ones in the non-global / plain category, featuring the famous borscht (beetroot soup), schi (cabbage soup), caviar served with buttered bread and vodka, etc. Over the centuries it has assimilated plenty of influences from the Mongols, who know how to cook much better. In this way they got golubtsy (rice and meat lattice wrapped in cabbage leaves); pelmeny (meat dumplings served with sour cream); shashlyk (marinated meat that is barbecued). Also of note are vareniki (fruit or cheese dumplings); olivje and vinegret salads; etc. One Ukrainian dish that is popular through Russia which I find disgusting but many others swear by is salo, or salted pork fat. More recognizable to Westerners is Chicken Kiev and Beef Stroganoff. While vodka is its most famous alcoholic drink, the medovukha (mead) and kvass (a low-alcohol fermented drink) are also appreciated.

The English like to drink their tea with milk. Russians look upon this with revulsion; they prefer lemon. They like lemon with coffee too, which is bewildering to Americans.

Traditionally, vodka has accounted for the bulk of Russian alcohol consumption. There are many different types of vodka. Some of the best vodkas in Russia come from the Kristall factory in Belarus. There are some specifically themes ones, such as ones named after Kalashnikov and Putin (Putinka). One infamous variety is the hrenovuha, which is distilled from horseradish; it is literally the most disgusting stuff I’ve ever tasted. There is an entire body of etiquette on vodka drinking in Russia, as well as folk wisdom on how to drink prodigious quantities of vodka – up to a 750ml bottle over an evening, even for non-alcoholics – without as much as getting a headache in the morning after.

One such evening occasion is known as a pyanka, whereas multi-day binges are referred to as zapoi. Here are the main points from my article Zen and the Art of Vodka Drinking:

  • Fill up your belly with fatty, starchy, salty foods, e.g. fried potatoes and onions, salads with mayonnaise, etc.
  • Folk tradition when downing your shot involves blowing out through your noise, downing the shot and breathing in with your fist over your nose
  • Eat things like salted cucumbers or pickles, sausage, oily fish like sprats, salo, etc. immediately after the shot. These are called zakuski (lit. something you “bite over”).
  • When it’s your turn to make a toast, pour everyone their “fifty grams’, think up of some noble ideal to drink to (world peace, the generosity and other many good qualities of the host, victory!, etc – creativity is encouraged) and announce it in as theatrical a manner as you can manage without overdoing it.
  • Maintain a steady pace. If you’re getting buzzed way too fast, start covering your glass with your hand on subsequent rounds.
  • Drink water; don’t drink carbonated water; take a multi-vitamin before bed; drink a beer first thing on waking up.

Fun factoid: Vodka is nicknamed the “green serpent” in Russian. The name vodka itself is a diminutive of voda, which is water.

In recent years, beer has become much more popular; especially amongst the young, it is now the drink of choice. The most famous Russian beer brand is Baltika, though other domestic brands like Stary Melnik and Zhigulevskoye are popular. The most notable beers from the British Isles are the dark, bitter Irish brews of Guinness and Murphy’s (the former has a huge brewery in Dublin which is in operation for almost 250 years; a popular tourist attraction, it has an exhibition on the history of the drink). Some stereotypes are true, e.g. popular American beers are nothing to write home about. However, there are plenty of very good local breweries, which are sometimes attached to a single bar.

Single malt whiskeys, such as Macallan, are considered the cream of the crop.

Single malt whiskeys, such as Macallan, are considered the cream of the crop.

The British are big on beer and wine, with the young and lower class going for the former; the more bourgeois elements preferring wine. (Many Britons in the south actually drive over to France and buy a year’s worth, e.g. 100 bottles, of wine at a time; this is profitable, because whereas the average good-quality bottle in the UK is priced at £10-15, in France one can get them for as low as £2. The differences add up over many bottles and besides you get a nice weekend break into the bargain). The hard drink of choice is whiskey; as is well known, Scotland is the center of the industry. Its distilleries are major tourist attractions. The most famous Irish whiskey is the sweet Jameson, produced in Dublin.

In the US, alcohol consumption is much less prevalent than in either the UK or Russia; partly due to the 21 thing, partly due to more conservative social mores. The most common whiskey is the Jack Daniels blend.

As everywhere else, beer dominates at institutions of higher learning; in fact, many drinking games, such as beer pong – which even has national tournaments – originated in its fraternities. Over the entire population, there is a roughly equal split between beer, wines, and spirits.

The Russian Diaspora

This deserves its own section, as I feel especially qualified to comment on it.

The modern Russian diaspora began in the 1970′s, when many Soviet Jews began to leave for Israel and the US. It accelerated in the late 1980′s, when the Soviet government eased emigration controls (prior to that the US had sanctioned the USSR for limiting Jewish emigration with the Jackson-Vanik amendment; bizarrely, it remains in effect to this day). By the early 1990′s, these were joined by ethnic Russian academics, as part of a general “brain drain” (e.g. reminiscent of postwar Germany), since the new Yeltsin government failed to pay them living wages (this situation was only substantially remedied in the late 2000′s); as well as ethnic Germans returning to Germany (who now form their own Russian-German minority, concentrated in Berlin). By far the three most popular countries for emigration were the US (half Jews, half Russians); Germany (mostly Russians, some Germans); and Israel (Jews and a few pretend-Jews). Other destinations included Italy, the UK, France, Canada, Australia, and South Africa.

It is common for Russian ballet and circus companies to tour in both the US and the UK.

It is common for Russian ballet and circus companies to tour in both the US and the UK.

Though they are drawn from multiple ethnicities – for instance, they include Tatars, Uzbeks, Ukrainians, etc., while the Russian diaspora in the US is more accurately called the Russian-Jewish diaspora – their culture, i.e. spoken language at home, cuisine, mannerisms, fondness for ice skating, playing durak or making borscht, etc., is 90%+ Russian. Importantly, this does not mean that they like Russia (the country) or even Russian culture. I should stress that dismissing and dissing Russia was fashionable in the 1990′s, when Yeltsin’s “family” were pillaging the nation and many Russians, especially migrants, genuinely felt “betrayed” by the Russian state (it is an open question as to what extent this feeling is a result of their need to justify to themselves their own decision to leave their roots and emigrate). In fact, many diaspora Russians are psychologically averse to equanimity on Russia; in many cases, they are huge fans of whatever country they immigrated to, and of the West in general, as if to justify their own immigration to themselves. Consequently, some even view any “defense” of Russia, no matter how justified, as a personal attack on themselves and respond ferociously.

There’s also a generational aspect here. Whereas the “fathers” tended to gleefully indulge in Russia-bashing (out of a genuine sense of betrayal; overcompensating need to justify their emigration; etc.), and embraced all aspects of Westernization with the fanaticism of the new convert – frequently extending to right-wing, neoliberal views on economics and society; less frequently extending to concepts such as positive discrimination or the welfare state, which they associate with “socialism” – the effect was sometimes quite different on Russia’s “sons”. A few followed in the footsteps of the “fathers”; some (perhaps most) are largely indifferent to Russia, and have blended into the socio-political mainstream of UK or US society; others appreciate Russia to an extent that the “fathers” find puzzling, annoying, or even intolerable.

(But here, another caveat. The Russia-bashing “fathers” are also, by and large, the successful ones. Those Russian emigrants who failed to set up a good career in the West, and ended up driving taxicabs despite their higher educations, tend to be more resentful of their adopted countries, and look back on Russia more fondly. In general, among diasporas, views on the old country are ANYTHING but objective.)

It is hard to generalize, but overall – and this is hardly surprising – ethnic Russians and more recent migrants have higher opinions of their original homeland (they are also more leftist and closer to the European political spectrum) than Russian Jews or earlier migrants (who are more right-wing and closer to the American political spectrum).

Opinions on Russia amongst other emigrant ethnicities largely reflect sentiment in the home country, but if anything magnified even further.

But more about the Russian diaspora. As I mentioned, the one I’m most familiar with is the one composed of emigrant academics (though there do of course exist other circles, e.g. female gold-diggers, and gangsters or corrupt bureaucrats who had taken their ill-gotten gains to the West, etc.; I have little familiarity with the former and none with the latter). They cluster around university towns; if there’s a campus, chances are there are a few Russians around. As an in-joke amongst them goes: “What’s an American university?”, “It’s a place where Russian physicists lecture to Chinese students.” Not that far off the mark either… In the hard sciences, especially math and physics, many profs in Western universities are Russians (and it’s also the case that math and physics classrooms in the US are disproportionately populated by East Asians).

The winners of the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics were a pair of Russians working in Manchester. When asked if they were interested in Medvedev's plan to come back, their answer was a firm no.

The winners of the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics were a pair of Russians working in Manchester. When asked if they were interested in Medvedev’s plan to come back, their answer was a firm no.

These academics usually have one, or at most two, children, who are pressured to study hard and more restricted from pursuing social activities than the indigenous population (though not to the extent typical in Chinese or Indian families). At their homes, one almost never sees a Play Station or computer games; one does however see books on math, science, history, economics, as well as magazines like New Scientist or The Economist. Their children don’t usually have much fun at school, but on the other hand they do stuff like win local chess tournaments and reliably get into the top universities. Though one would think that these Russian academics are entrepreneurial go-getters – after all, they were willing to gamble on a new life abroad, right? – most are actually risk-averse and ultimately limited in their horizons. But on second thought this isn’t that surprising. Academia is a very safe environment (in terms of employment) and guarantees a reliable cash flow and career progression. The truly entrepreneurial Soviet academics have long since abandoned academia and made big bucks in the business world.

In the past two years, the Russian government has begun making noises about drawing back its researchers lost to brain drain. To date, the initiative has met with minimal success. Although Russian academic salaries are becoming competitive with Western ones (when the cost of living and low income taxes are factored in), most see no particular reason to risk the adventure, especially since the conditions for pursuing research in Russian universities remain far below those in the US or the UK. Besides, emigration is a young person’s game, and many of these academics are now in their 40′s and 50′s, or nearing retirement. Finally, the possibility of the subgroup of Russia-haters / West-worshipers going back can be excluded altogether. I suspect that the only scenario in which a substantial portion of the Russian academic diaspora returns is if their host countries go the way of the USSR, i.e. mounting debts and state insolvency leading to a collapse of research funding.

Russian mail order brides

Not only did they break hearts, Russian mail order brides also inspired a bestselling book.

Not only did they break hearts, Russian mail order brides also inspired a bestselling book.

A common delusion that feeds the “mail order brides” industry is that Russian women are less feminist than their over-entitled Western counterparts, eternally thankful for the opportunity to escape poor, barbaric Russia, and hotter to boot. Sounds like a good deal, no?

But while traditional gender roles are indeed a bit more evident in Russia than in the US or Britain, this does not extend into family relations (Russia’s divorce rate is over 50%, which is only slightly lower than in the US), and it most certainly doesn’t equal respect, let alone supplication, to the extremely beta males who presumably can’t score with the local girls and order women over the Internet in the first place. Furthermore, the days when being foreign upped your worth in the eyes of Russian girls ended sometime in the mid-2000′s; nowadays, if anything, they are at a disadvantage relative to Russian guys.

In many cases, the customers don’t get what he thought he signed up for, as his Russian wife gets her residency papers, empties his bank account, and dumps him for someone cooler and richer. They then go on to vent their resentments, complaining in person to anyone who would listen and posting about “male discrimination” at sites like The Spearhead, and describing Russian women as avaricious, disloyal, gold-diggers, etc.; my response is, why should she not exploit a total sucker like you!?

Discrimination

For this section, I’m going to look at relative levels of discrimination based on race, immigrants, sex, sexual orientation, and religion.

Race

The kind of blatant, institutionalized racism common in America prior to the civil rights movement is practically non-existent. Somewhat more prevalent is unofficial discrimination; for instant, half of all US prisoners are African-Americans, whereas they only constitute 13% of the population. On the other hand, it’s also pretty much beyond doubt that African-Americans commit more crimes than their share of the population. Quite a lot of Americans would consider the preceding sentence racist or at least controversial, which is itself a strong testament to their non-racism. When they must find some group to blame, Americans tend to focus on poor people and illegal immigrants; but in general, as mentioned above, criminal acts are viewed as individual – as opposed to group – moral failings.

Russians are far more open about blaming groups such as Caucasians, Chechens, etc. – sometimes derogatorily called “black-asses” – for high crime rates. This is not without foundation. While skinhead violence is tragic and highly visible, it is – according to many who live in Russia – dwarfed by the scale of everyday crimes committed by various ethnic gangs from the Caucasus. Nonetheless, dispassionate analysis of crime rates does overflow into outright racism far more casually than in the US or the UK. It’s not so much as Russians being far more racist than the PC culture being far less developed. It is common to hear Britons in private conversations, or on the comments sections of papers like The Telegraph or The Daily Mail, making pretty racist comments about “Third World immigrants”, “Islamic gangs”, etc.

Anti-Semitism

Overall, anti-Semitism is somewhat more prevalent in Russia than in the UK or the US (it is comparable to average European countries and far lower than in the Middle East, which is the epicenter of modern anti-Semitism). Jokes about Jewish niggardliness can be heard in all three countries, but whereas Americans and Brits only tend to make them in private or when drunk, they are aired more openly in Russia.

Boris Berezovsky: Probably responsible for 31% of Russia's anti-Semitism.

Boris Berezovsky: Probably responsible for 31% of Russia’s anti-Semitism.

That said, anti-Semitism is non-existent in official policy. Three of the wealthiest oligarchs are Jewish; so was one Prime Minister in the past decade (Mikhail Fradkov), who last I heard was head of the SVR intelligence agency. Ironically, the clownish leader of Russia’s leading nationalist party,Vladimir Zhirinovsky, is a Jew (Fun anecdote: When asked about his ethnic roots, he replied, “My mother – was a Russian; my father – was a lawyer!”; feel free to search for his quotes on Google, he’s as much fun as Gadaffi or Berlusconi).

After a big outflow to Israel in the 1990′s, net migration between Russia and Israel has stabilized at a level close to zero (despite that the latter is a wealthier country and the Jewish homeland). Attitudes towards Israel are actually more positive than in most European countries, probably because Russians sympathize with their Islamic terror problems (Palestine; Chechnya) and appreciate the visa-less travel regime between the two countries.

Most negative opinions on Jews in Russia stem from the fact that most of the oligarchs created in the corrupt Yeltsin era were Jewish*, including the most infamous and/or ostentatious ones: Berezovsky (“godfather of the Kremlin” in the 1990′s), Abramovich (he of the world’s most expensive yacht), etc. Nowadays, it is Caucasians and Central Asians who are the main targets of xenophobic rhetoric in Russia.

* This isn’t anti-Semitism, just the facts on the ground. I don’t want to get into a history lesson, but for a good explanation of why Jews are so overrepresented amongst the Russian oligarchs (and why other “market-dominant minorities” emerge elsewhere, e.g. ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, or whites in Latin America) consult World on Fire by Amy Chua.

Probably the best places for Jews in the world (maybe even Israel, given its terrorist problems) are the US and the UK. I don’t really know why that is the case. Perhaps, they have traditionally been the most capitalistic societies, which left less to differentiate between indigenous Britons / Americans and Jews than in less commercialized mainland Europe. But this is just speculation on my part.

In conclusion, while you do people with too much time on their hands who rant on about Zionist Occupation Government in all three countries, their views are very much in the fringes.

Immigrants

There is a lot of anti-immigrant rhetoric in all three countries. The complaints are pretty similar: they steal jobs; commit crimes; etc. IMO, their real sin is to be willing to do work that Americans / British / Russians are no longer willing to do for low wages, and are easier scapegoats for economic problems than politicians, bankers, and others with wealth and power. As a rule, the crowd picks on the weak and losers.

Most low skilled migrants to the US come from the poorer, southern areas of Mexico, and from Central America. They are widely employed as agricultural laborers throughout the US South-West and Texas; as nannies everywhere (including the North); and as construction workers. The US is more successful at integrating immigrants than either Russia or the UK, possibly due to its “melting pot” traditions. Americans are far more understanding of people who have difficulties communicating in English, and immigrants have a far easier time getting a job than their equivalents in Britain. As long as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stays off their backs, some of them do quite well. Their children can attend US schools for free (though problems can start up once they apply to universities, where background checks are more stringent). Any children born in the US automatically become citizens, for which reason they are disparagingly called “anchor babies” by anti-immigrant activists. If they are apprehended by ICE, then they are typically put into deportation proceedings. They can hire a lawyer or the government appoints one for them. If they are found guilty of illegally entering the US, they are driven over the Mexican border (or flown to their country of origin) at government expense and barred reentry for many years, or for life if the immigrant had committed a felony while in the US.

The US immigration process, pursued by the rulebook, is incredibly inefficient, taxing, and idiotic. A skilled foreign worker needs an H1-B work visa for 6 years before he becomes eligible for a Green Card, which entitles her to Legal Permanent Residency (if she changes employer, the clock starts ticking from the beginning again; furthermore, during this time, her spouse cannot work unless he also has a work visa). After getting the Green Card, it takes five more years to become a US citizen, during which time it is impossible to go abroad for any long period of time without risking the permanent residency (two years is the absolute maximum if you exploit all bureaucratic channels). To America’s detriment, many decide that spending 11 years in this limbo state just isn’t worth it, and thus depart back to China, India or eastern Europe after getting an American degree or work experience in the US.

In the UK, most low skilled migrants come from the Indian subcontinent (Pakistan, Bangladesh); Africa; and eastern European countries such as Poles, Latvians, etc. AFAIK, the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are now mostly family members and relatives of previous immigrants who have already settled in the UK. The eastern Europeans are more recent arrivals, coinciding with the opening of its labor markets to the new EU members in the east (it was the only country to do along with Ireland and Sweden). The result was a sharp rise in Polish migration – perhaps 500,000 in total – where they worked as plumbers, construction workers, agricultural workers, and in the service industry. However, it’s a very transient migration wave. Following the post-2008 recession, many – perhaps most of them – have left back for Poland (which is now doing very well, economically).

Possibly not the best way to endear oneself to the indigenous population.

Possibly not the best way to endear oneself to the indigenous population.

The Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities are there to stay, arguably to Britain’s detriment, as not only have they transformed many inner cities into areas of urban blight (e.g. Luton, Burnley, Leicester), but they also form the bulk of the British Muslim community, which is by far the most radicalized and anti-progressive in Western Europe. For instance, in polls more than a third support the death penalty for apostasy.

This isn’t just reflected in these figures, or photos of extremists carrying placards with “Behead Those Who Insult Islam” on them. The areas in which these communities predominate are no go areas, because of the gangs and crime rates. They also have very backward ideas on women’s rights. Once when I was shopping for groceries with a female friend who happened to have dark features, which I guess can pass for South Asian ones, a bearded Asian man began hurling slurs at her for exposing herself, i.e. wearing a T-shirt, forcing me to resolutely intervene. Now all this might sound stereotypical, prejudicial, racist, etc. to liberals who’ve never lived or even wandered into such areas, but they are just the facts on the ground.

Some US conservatives believe that Muslims are going to demographically take over Europe, turning it into a “Eurabia”. This is, by and large, fear-mongering nonsense, including the British variant of the Eurabia scenario: “Londonistan“. The fact is that Muslims are only c.3% of the British population, are highly fragmented by ethnicity and levels of religious devotion, and their fertility rates – though higher – are steadily converging to the UK average. In the next generation, though the UK will become a more Muslim country, minarets won’t replace Oxford’s “dreaming spires” any time soon. Nor, BTW, is Russia going to become majority Muslim (despite analysts / propagandists who argue otherwise). They constitute a maximum of 10% of the population (polls actually indicate 4-6%), and the two largest Muslim ethnicities – Tatars and Bashkirs – have fertility rates that are no different from those of ethnic Russians. In fact, the only Russian Muslim group with fertility rates substantially above replacement level rates are the Chechens, of whom there are only a bit more than one million.

Migrants in Russia – called “Gastarbeiters”, from the German name for Turkish guest workers – are typically from the poorer countries of the “Near Abroad”: Uzbeks, Ukrainians, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Georgians, Armenians, and Moldovans. The Central Asians dominate construction work, Caucasians dominate open air markets / bazaars, while Slavs tend to work in services like interior decorating or hairdressing. The typical pattern is for them to arrive legally – Russia has visa less travel with the former Soviet republics, with the right to reside up to three months – but work illegally and overstay. The migrants live in communal apartments in out of the way places, and their employers typically arrange bribes for the police to leave them alone as long as they don’t make trouble. There’s a good photo album of their living conditions here.

Their lives are unpleasant, access to social services is far more limited than for illegals in the US, and they always live under the cloud of arbitrary deportation (sometimes, for political reasons: once, there was a large campaign at expelling Georgian illegals after a serious deterioration in relations with Georgia). Nonetheless, around 5-8 million of them have decided to come nonetheless, because of the salary differentials. Whereas a Tajik can expect to earn perhaps $80 per month in construction in his home country, in Russia the equivalent figure is $500+.

Gender

The stereotype of Russia is that it’s a patriarchal country, and one where things have gotten a lot worse for women since the end of (supposed) Soviet egalitarianism. This isn’t quite as simple.

For the seventy years of its existence, there was not a single woman in the Politburo, whereas the current Cabinet has two (albeit in the “softer” departments: economy; healthcare). Nonetheless, politics is undoubtedly far more markedly dominated by men in Russia than is the case in Britain or the UK.

The female share of the workforce is higher, and the ratio of male to female wages, and the prevalence of female managers, is similar to that in the US and Britain (and higher than in mainland Europe). Russian women did take a big hit in the 1990′s when state employment fell (most state workers are women), but as already mentioned, the state has since recovered; whereas the prospects for women in the UK, due to the big cuts in the state sector planned for the coming years, are bad.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko was one of the top 10 Soviet snipers of WW2, with 309 confirmed kills.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko was one of the top 10 Soviet snipers of WW2, with 309 confirmed kills.

The early Soviet state pushed for the modernization of women’s lives, pioneering concepts such as maternity leave, industrial employment, etc. The latter reached an apogee during the Second World War, when the conscription of men spurred huge growth in industrial jobs for women. Uniquely amongst the combatant nations, Soviet female volunteers were allowed to serve in combat positions on the front, such as fighter pilots and snipers.

The process continued after the war, e.g. the first female cosmonaut was Soviet. However, most women’s professions remained those regarded as traditionally feminine – nurses, doctors, teachers, office workers, bureaucrats. Today, more jobs are closed off to Russian women than in the UK or the US – mostly by social convention (e.g. whereas many women work traditionally male jobs such as truck drivers in the US, it is far rarer in Russia), but in a few cases by formal requirements (e.g. e.g. Moscow Metro’s job ads for train drivers specifically ask for male applicants). Front line combat in the armed forces is closed off to women in all three countries.

Discrimination laws exist, but lag behind Britain and the US. It is far easier for Russian bosses to get away exploiting their female colleagues, e.g. trading pay rises for sexual favors. The good news for the majority of normal men is that there are far fewer frivolous harassment lawsuits.

In all three countries, more women go to university than men. Furthermore, the difference in male and female life expectancy in Russia – 62 years to 75 years in 2010 – is one of the highest in the world. This is mostly because, while there are some female alcoholics, excessive alcohol consumption is far more prevalent among Russian men. Unlike in the US or the UK, there is no rhetoric among Russian conservatives against single mothers.

The flip side of patriarchy is chivalry. Women in Russia can retire at 55, whereas for men it is 60; pretty bizarre, given that they live about 13 years longer. They cannot be sentenced to the death penalty (on which there is, granted, a moratorium) or to life imprisonment. Women aren’t subject to conscription in Russia. Whether this is discrimination, a privilege, or both, is up for debate.

Sexual Minorities

Being LGBT is far worse in Russia than in the Anglo-Saxon countries. Despite the impassioned rhetoric against homosexuality in the US, this does not stop several states from allowing gay marriage and there being an active political debate on the subject. The state of gay rights in the UK is similar, but with less vitriol.

In Russia, homosexual acts between males were only legalized in 1993. Under the Mayoralty of Yuri Luzhkov, Moscow Pride parades were banned up and marches dispersed until his ouster in 2010. Support for gay marriage is minimal, at no more than 20% of the population. Gay couples can’t adopt children.

Society will tolerate you, but it will object to you flaunting your sexuality; it is common for Russians to fear the “propagandization” of the “homosexual lifestyle” and its (supposedly) infectious effects on children. Obviously, it’s still far better to be a homosexual in Russia than anywhere in the Middle East (except Israel), or most of Asia for that matter. You won’t go to prison just for being gay. But even in Moscow, you’ll be subjected to the kind of discrimination and popular disapproval that would have prevailed in the US or Britain in, say, the 1980′s.

Islamophobia

The omnipresence of “war on terror” rhetoric in all three countries, and Russia’s and Britain’s large Muslim minorities, make this an important issue.

The US used to be markedly better than the rest, but with the upsurge of Islamophobia in recent years – bizarrely, well after 9/11 – makes this no longer accurate. Rep. Peter King recently launched congressional hearings about the “radicalization” of the Muslim community, no matter that most terrorist attacks in the past decade actually came from White nationalist and anti-government groups. But these neo-McCarthyite antics have the support of most of the population.

American Muslims tend to have a divide between conservative fathers and mothers, and liberal sons and daughters. The parents come from more traditional societies and tend to continue thinking in this way. Their offspring not only have the natural tendency to rebel against them, but also against a government and a society that is ever less welcoming of their presence in the country. Go to a Muslim political gathering, and you’ll hear about Foucault and Derrida and the importance of “changing the narrative”; you won’t hear anything about the likes of Sayyid Qutb or the necessity of jihad.

The British have the most radicalized Muslim minority in Europe. There is a lot of latent Islamophobia, though it’s not quite as extensive as in mainland Europe; given that their Muslims are more extreme than in the US or Europe, however, that is somewhat understandable.

The two most populous Russian Muslim minorities, the Tatars and Bashkirs in the center of Russia, are indistinguishable from ethnic Russians in their secularism (including alcohol consumption). The southern Muslims of the North Caucasus, such as Daghestanis, Chechens and Ingushetians, are far stricter, religious, conservative, and patriarchal (e.g. the father of the house, to this day, still frequently decides whom his daughter is going to wed). However, Russians are not Islamophobic in the way that Britain or especially the US is; their antipathy is expressed not through religion, but through ethnicity. That said, there’s also a countervailing admiration for Caucasians’ famed warrior spirit, machismo, and perceived social cohesion.

Conclusion? If you’re a moderate Muslim, then chances are you’ll get along fine in Britain, Russia and the US (though you will also occasionally run into prejudice, bigotry and discrimination). If you’re a radical Islamist, however, then staying in Russia and the US could be outright dangerous; you’re better off moving to the UK, where you may be prosecuted but at least won’t be put into secret jails.

Ageism

The retirement age in the UK is 65, at which point an employer can force his worker to retire without additional compensation. In state institutions like universities it is done as a matter of course. The retirement age in Russia is 60 years for men and 55 years for women, but many continue working into their seventies and eighties to supplement their meager pensions. My impression is that people retire late in the US. I don’t know much about elderly workers’ rights or the details of their pensions systems, largely because I haven’t yet had cause to concern myself with them.

In education, it is not unusual typical to see older people at US universities, who take classes in subjects they’re interested in for pleasure or enlightenment. This is much rarer in the UK and Russia.

(Republished from Sublime Oblivion by permission of author or representative)
 
No Items Found
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.