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 Russian Reaction Blog / Opinion PollTeasers

Almost two weeks since the street protests against corruption, the first poll results have started to trickle in, and the provide a mixed picture.

(1) Politician Approval Ratings

Putin’s approval rating remains at 82% as of this March, almost unbudged from February’s 84%. On the other hand, the approval rating of Prime Minister Medvedev, the main target of Navalny’s anti-corruption video, have plummeted from 52% to 42%.

(2) Navalny’s Video

7% of Russians claim to have seen Navalny’s video, which tallies well with the 17.7 million views it has received on YouTube as of the time of writing. Another 11% haven’t seen it but claim to be familiar with its contents, and another 20% have heard of it but without many details. 60% haven’t heard of it.

Of this 38% of Russians who are somewhat familiar with the video, some 27% are confident that it is entirely true, and another 45% believe that it is likely to be true, although accept that the accusations might not be entirely reliable. 16% think it is entirely false, and 13% don’t have an opinion.

However, 75% of respondents aware of the video think that it is a typical phenomenon amongst the Russian elites, whereas only 12% think it is an unusual case.

Questioning all Russians, some 17% believe that neither Putin nor Medvedev are involved with corruption; 30% think that the accusations against Medvedev are true, but that Putin is clean; while 38% think that all the country’s leaders are involved in corruption. 14% are unsure.

(3) Navalny’s Ratings

Awareness of Navalny has been increasing through the period fo the 2011-12 protests and peaking at around the time of the 2013 Moscow elections. It waned a bit during 2014-16, but in the past month, he has fully regained all the lost ground.

navalny-awareness-rating

Moreover, the share of Russians who had both heard of Navalny, and who said they were “certainly” or “possibly” going to vote for Navalny, doubled from a stable 5% during the period from from 2012 to February 2017, to 10% in March 2017, after the release of his video on Medvedev.

navalny-voting-intentions

That said, Navalny retains a significant “antirating” – that is, Russians who say they are “probably” or “definitely” not going to vote of him – of 40%. This high antirating, which is probably linked to his outspoken opposition to the Crimean referendum and the Novorossiya project – which alienated most of his nationalist base – will be difficult for Navalny to overcome. Ultimately, while Russians are cynical about the moral qualities of their elites, this same cynicism limits the extent to which you can run a political campaign in Russia based just on anti-corruption.

Nonetheless, the kremlinites have no good reason to be particularly complacent either. For instance, a 5% voting intention in March 2013 still translated into a 27% share of the vote in the Moscow mayoral elections against United Russia functionary Sergey Sobyanin, who has the reputation of a competent and reasonably clean bureaucrat (by Russian standards). Now one certainly shouldn’t generalize to Russia, because Moscow is by far Russia’s most “liberal” region; for every Muscovite hipster, there are ten Uralvagonzavod vatniks. Nonetheless, the discrepancy does imply that a lot of the undecideds and those who haven’t heard of Navalny are partial to his message.

 

In my 2017 predictions, I wrote:

Russians have a more positive view of the US than of the EU as of the last Levada poll in that year: 60%.

Latest polls:

russia-approval-usa-eu

The gap is only 2 points now.

Republicans, at least are returning the favor.

us-approval-of-russia

The New Cold War might well be petering out in a premature end.

The Germans are far less happy with Trump, though.

german-approval-of-usa

Feel free to spy on their Chancellor to your heart’s content, but don’t you dare refuse to accept Infinity Moslems into your country.

 

I have been thinking about how to optimize my blogging and I would like to ask for your input with the following one page survey:

http://darussophile.polldaddy.com/s/june-2016-akarlin-reader-survey

In particular, I would like to hear from you on the following questions:

  1. What should I write more about?
  2. What should I write less about?
  3. What sorts of posts do you prefer (longer, shorter)?
  4. Do you want more reviews?
  5. Do you want me to resume open threads? (which I promised and then slowly discontinued)
  6. Your assessment of the quality of the posts, the comments, and the website.
  7. Do you follow me on social media?

Preliminary Thoughts

I don’t thrive on making short posts like Steve Sailer. You need a predictable schedule and a regular work ethic for that and I don’t really possess either. Also, the three “slots” I have on the Unz.com front page aren’t ideal for more frequent shorter posts. Moreover, one can make a more general point that it is the longer, more indepth material that tends to get noted and cited in the longterm. I am as big a fan of Sailer as anyone here, but in terms of name recognition, the father of HBD lags Nicholas Wade, Charles Murray, and probably even Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending, all of whom have published best-selling books on closely related topics. While progress on my own book has been nothing to write home about, I am seriously considering at least making a habit of writing longer, more indepth articles.

In general I think in the grand hierarchy social media < short posts < longreads < books. This is why the emergence of Twitter, Facebook, etc. are so overestimated. They amplify short-term noise, but in the overall scheme of things they contribute nothing to global progress and understanding (indeed by rewiring so many brains from deep analytical mode to dopamine-fueled reaction mode they might even have retarded it). Besides, both platforms are fast sinking into politicized censorship. Personally, for the past several years, I have mostly used social media just to advertise my own blog posts. But maybe I should put my money where my mouth is and put them into archive mode entirely except for the occasional big announcement. But first I want to find out exactly what percentage of readers here follow me on my social media accounts.

I am also considering introducing more stringent moderation. I am one of the few authors on this website who doesn’t premoderate, and my general comments policy is extremely lax. Perhaps too much so, since it seems to me that more and more commentators have been taking it as a licence to troll, spam, shitpost, and otherwise pursue their particular obsessions even when the post topic has nothing to do with them. This normally wouldn’t matter on modern commenting platforms such as Disqus, where these SIFs (Single Issue Fanatics) are typically downvoted into oblivion, but there is no such mechanism on linear commenting systems. So from now on I am considering becoming much more proactive about redacting stupid and off topic posts, and if necessary, banning repeat offenders. Then again, if most people are satisfied with the way things are, I will refrain from fixing something that isn’t broken. You tell me!

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Administration, Opinion Poll 

According to the latest figures from Gallup, only 1% of Russians approve of the US leadership.

russian-approval-us-leadership-2016

This is quite impressive. Not often you get such extreme figures.

Although the percentage of truly committed “zapadniks” in Russia is not high, around 15% at most, I do think the data must have taken a sharp turn down within the confidence interval. The figures for last year where 4%.

Incidentally, according to the independent Russian polling organization Levada, whereas positive impressions of the US as a country (not the leadership as with Gallup) plummeted to a record low of 12% by 2015, since then there has been a marginal recovery back up to around 20%. So, not a major change, but a minor uptick nonetheless.

russian-approval-us-2016

From the full Gallup report, here is a list of the ten countries with the dimmest view of the US leadership (China was not included in the survey):

. + -
Syria 20% 71%
Iran 19% 51%
Lebanon 18% 72%
Serbia 16% 56%
Yemen 15% 69%
Egypt 10% 62%
Belarus 9% 67%
Palestine 9% 79%
Kazakhstan 8% 70%
Russia 1% 89%

So that’s basically Russia+ and various Middle East countries it has bombed/invaded/tried to color revolution.

Iraq is a strong net negative, but at 30% approval, nowhere near the bottom of the list. Even Ukraine is a net negative, with 35% approval and 40% disapproval.

Countries with the most positive outlooks on the US leadership include a whole bunch of African countries topped by Congo-Brazzaville (80%); Kosovo (85%), Albania (74%), and the UK (65%) in Europe; and Cambodia (74%) in Asia.

 

Many puzzling sociological developments can be explained through opinion polls. According to recent YouGov polls carried out in the US and Britain:

(1) Only 30% of American 18-29 year old men describe themselves as “completely” masculine, compared to 65% of over 65s.

gender2a

(2) If you are of the opinion this isn’t a great trend then prepare to get triggered even harder – Only 2% of 18-24 year old men describe themselves as “completely” masculine (relative to 56% of over 65s), while 14% of 18-24 year old women describe themselves as “completely” feminine (versus 59% of over 65s).

genderAge

(3) “British masculinity is a fraction of America’s.”

USUKgender

(4) … and is quickly becoming a dirty word. 42% of young British men have a negative impression of masculinity, more than the 39% who have a positive impression of it. In fact, they appear to dislike masculinity even more than young British women, of whom only 27% have a negative impression of “masculinity.”

masc

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Masculinity, Opinion Poll 

According to a recent BBC/Globescan opinion poll, Russia and Germany (sic!) are some of the most ethnically nationalistic major countries on the planet.

Here are some highlights from the full report (PDF):

Index of Rootless Cosmopolitanism

bbc-2016-poll-1-global-citizen

Curiously, the current pattern, in which the advanced/OECD nations (Canada, Chile, Germany, Mexico, Spain, UK, USA) have become more insular than non-OECD nations (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia) is an inversion of the situation prior to 2009, when the opposite was more true. I suppose this might be because only around the late 2000s did the rich countries begin to “lose out” in a visible way to globalization.

This effect has been especially pronounced in Germany:

This sentiment has continued to grow at a strong pace since then among respondents in emerging economies to reach a high of 56 per cent in both 2015 and 2016. Conversely in seven OECD countries it has followed an opposite trajectory, dropping to a low of 39 per cent in 2011 and remaining at low levels since (now at 42%). This latter trend has been particularly pronounced in Germany where the poll suggests identification with global citizenship has dropped 13 points since 2009 to only 30 per cent today (the lowest since 2001).

Thanks Angela Merkel?

Approval of Intermarriage between Different Racial/Ethnic Groups

bbc-2016-poll-2-intermarriage

The US is no surprise here; since 1960, approval of interracial marriages has gone from from the fringe to the universal, including amongst evangelical conservatives.

In contrast, only 34% of Germans approve of interracial marriage, which is equivalent to US rates in the 1970s. This might come across as something of a surprise to people whose image of modern day Germany revolves around Alt Right cuckoldry rhetoric, but then again Germany also until quite recently had explicitly racial citizenship laws.

Russia is higher at 43%, but also considerably more Russians outright oppose it.

Perhaps the only more or less surprising figure here is from South Korea, where 66% approve of interracial marriage. Koreans are an extremely nationalistic people. I suppose one thing to bear in mind that in Korea and East Asia more generally “interracial marriage” means Whites/Europeans, whereas in the US the default assumption is that its with Blacks and in Europe, with Muslim ethnicities.

Approval of Immigration

bbc-2016-poll-3-immigration-acceptance

Worth noting that immigrants to Spain seem to be mainly elderly Brits and Germans buying up seaside retirement homes in the south, while many younger Spaniards themselves are emigrating in large numbers to the northern and more economically dynamic members of the EU.

Defining Criteria of Self-Identity

bbc-2016-poll-6-identity

There’s only three countries in which a plurality of citizens don’t feel the highest amount of identification with their national citizenship.

Most Spaniards think of themselves as world citizens.

A plurality of Pakistanis consider themselves Muslims first and foremost. This stands to reason and many or most other Muslim countries would display similar results.

More Indonesians on their thousands of islands identify most strongly with their local community.

The largest percentage of people identifying most strongly with their race or culture are in South Korea. As per above, this is of no surprise.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Nationalism, Opinion Poll 

These are the results of a recent YouGov/Handelsblatt poll on which leader the citizens of the G20 countries want to see as the next US President.

g20-poll-russians-support-trump-2016

Russia is the only country where more people, by a considerable margin, support Donald Trump becoming US President (31%) than support Hillary Clinton (10%).

This might come as a surprise to some of you considering how many Russians and (((Russians))) have been writing anti-Trump jeremiads in both the Western and Russian press:

Which just goes to show that whenever you see a Russian writing in an American mainstream media publication, its usually safe to assume the truth is the exact opposite of whatever he or she says.

Here is how one /r/The_Donald user described his “awakening”:

Thats actually really cool to hear. I will admit, I ate up our medias picture of Russia and never had much positive to say, but this election has made me do my own research and you all seem pretty bad ass. I would like to say sorry for being a cuck and hopefully we can become strong allies in the future.

Ultimately, as the only major candidate who doesn’t want to fight a New Cold War with Russia, it stands to reason the most Russians with an opinion on US politics support Trump.

Putin’s near endorsement of Trump as a “bright and talented person” would have also helped.

As Irish journalist Danielle Ryan points out, it’s not like Trump is likely to magically transform relations between the US and Russia. And certainly those corners of the internets who dream of a Western Alliance between a Trumpian America and Putin’s Russia to remove kebab are deluded (even if they are ironically deluded… or delusively ironic… or whatever).

putin-trump-alliance

It’s a nice dream though.

However, there is the basic perception that Russia will get along better with a straightforward American patriot than an empty suit (or empty dress?) ideological stooge of neocon and globalist agendas.

I expect the 10% of Russians for Hillary Clinton are mostly Westernists/zapadniks who reliably support the politically correct line of the “international community” against Russia. (However, I think it’s safe to say that Clinton also has a massive anti-rating in Russia. Bill Clinton’s war against Serbia – which resulted in the first major spike in anti-American sentiment in post-Soviet Russia’s history – is still remembered negatively. And many Russians are aware of Hillary Clinton’s warm relations with liberal “neocons in other words” interventionists).

This zapadnik constituency who support Hillary Clinton are not feeling the Bern because they tend to be virulently anti-socialist in the style of Garry Kasparov*:

I’m enjoying the irony of American Sanders supporters lecturing me, a former Soviet citizen, on the glories of Socialism and what it really means! Socialism sounds great in speech soundbites and on Facebook, but please keep it there. In practice, it corrodes not only the economy but the human spirit itself, and the ambition and achievement that made modern capitalism possible and brought billions of people out of poverty. Talking about Socialism is a huge luxury, a luxury that was paid for by the successes of capitalism. Income inequality is a huge problem, absolutely. But the idea that the solution is more government, more regulation, more debt, and less risk is dangerously absurd.

Really the only group of people who would support Sanders in Russia are the liberal leftist anti-globalist ecological hippie types but they’re only 1-2% of the population, or an order of magnitude lower even than the zapadnik liberals.

As for Cruz, literally the only Russian of any prominence I’ve found who supports him is the Christian Orthodox fanatic and renowned lolcow Dmitry Enteo:

***

There are no major surprises in the rest of the rankings.

(1) On average the more “cucked” countries support Hillary Clinton more.

(2) Mexico is at the top and one can’t really fault them for that.

(3) China seems to intuitively support Trump. They too have their issues with the Clintons in the form of the bombing of their Belgrade embassy in 1998. However, they are also understandably a bit put off by Trump’s relatively more bellicose rhetoric against their country, plus as the survey notes, China’s – and India’s and Indonesia’s – respondents were all queried online. The part of the Chinese population that is regularly online and presumably likelier to participate in such polls is demographically younger and presumably more globalist.

(4) Apparently not all Saudis share Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s negative assessment of Trump (or maybe they really don’t like the idea of a woman at the helm):

Finally, I would note that the US Presidential Elections haven’t really gotten going yet, so many foreign opinions of Trump vs. Clinton will be quite hazy and uncertain at this point. International opinion will become clearer as we approach November 2016.

* At least when Kasparov’s writing in English in Facebook or The WSJ, as opposed to riling up protest crowds in Moscow, when for some reason his rhetoric becomes remarkably leftist.

 

Based on a December 22, 2015 WIN/Gallup International poll:

world-map-putin-approval-2015-details

[Click to enlarge].

Note that this indicates net approval, that is, the percentage of people with a favorable view of Putin minus the percentage of people with an unfavorable view of him.

global-putin-approval-2015 One immediately striking thing is just how how uniform Western attitudes are. Note how countries where net approval of Putin is below -20% are almost exclusively Western countries, while the only two notable countries in the Western geopolitical bloc to approve of Putin are Greece and Bulgaria. Both of which happen to belong to Orthodox civilization, going by Huntingtonian definitions.

Really, Ukraine is the exception that proves the rule. Although Putin’s approval rating of -38% is considerably negative and far worse than before 2013, one has to admit – regardless of his particular opinion on the Maidan and the Donbass conflict – that most Ukrainians have no obvious cause to love Putin and plenty to hate him. Nonetheless, remarkably, far more people the US (-44%) and especially Europe (-50% to -70%) dislike or hate him.

What all this says about the agenda and central management (if any) of the Western MSM I leave as an exercise in speculation to the reader.

Incidentally, Americans dislike Putin considerably less than Europeans. This is a lot less surprising that it might seem at first glance because there is a powerful socially conservative but counter-culture demographic that is cool with Trump and spawned NRx and the Red Pill, admires the cartoons of the real Ben Garrison and makes counter-signal memes for fashy goys, provides an audience for The Unz Review, etc. This demographic is much less prevalent in Europe, where the Right tends to be crusty old Cold Warriors and the Left has been more comprehensively hijacked by Social Justice than even in the US. This reaches a symbolic apogee in second-to-last Sweden Yes! which gives Putin a -77% net approval rating.

Incidentally, this is not a new development, I wrote about it half a year ago and Russia watcher Patrick Armstrong presaged its appearance even earlier:

It’s a fun and counterintuitive fact but Putin is more popular in the US (21%) than he is in any major NATO country bar Germany (23%). Moreover, the US takes the lead if only West Germany is counted (19%), since the overall German score is influenced by the unusually Russophilic attitudes of the East (40%). Maybe because Americans respect manliness, at least marginally more so than limp-wristed Europeans if dank memes on the Internet are anything to go by?

Most of the rest of the world outside the West either couldn’t care less about Putin (e.g. Latin America, Africa) or continue to be positive towards him (e.g. India, China). Incidentally, this just goes once more to confirm that at least from a global demographic point of view, talk of Russia’s “isolation” from the international community is complete and utter nonsense. This is rather obvious but even – especially – obvious things need to be repeated when they are so strenuously and regularly denied by the media.

There are a few countries where Putin is even more popular than he is in Russia itself. The highest on the list, giving him a 79% net approval rating, is Armenia. This is also unsurprising since relations between Armenia and Russia more than passingly resemble those between Israel and the US when it is run by Republican Presidents, down to the influence of powerful ethnonationalist lobbies. On that front, they have recently integrated their air defense systems. Another prominent member of that crowd is Serbia, where Putin is as popular as in Russia. No surprise there, and they certainly have no reason to love NATO.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Opinion Poll, Vladimir Putin 

A few months ago, I wrote the following:

This is a series of polls that took place in France in 1945, 1994, and 2004, respectively, asking which nation was most responsible for the defeat of Germany. Right after France’s liberation, with American and British soldiers walking the streets, a solid majority of 57% nonetheless believed that it had been the Soviet Union. But by 2004, the situation had cardinally reversed itself, with 58% now crediting the Americans and only 20% – the Soviet Union. This even constituted a decline relative to 1994, despite the intervening decade having been one of the best ever for West-Russia relations. The fact that great bulk of German divisions and airpower were destroyed on the Eastern Front pales into insignificance besides the power of Cold War and just plain anti-Russian propaganda acting on the human biomasses over the course of two generations. …

I haven’t seen any similar polls from the US or Britain, but I very much doubt they would be substantially different.

Well, now we do have such polls, not only for the US and Britain but also for some other countries of interest like Germany and Finland, all thanks to two big recent polls by YouGov and ICM Research.

Updated with an additional IFOP poll for France, and some VCIOM polls on the topic that I dug up for Russia, I believe I have assembled what may be the most comprehensive graph on changing Western attitudes towards the Soviet victory in World War 2 anywhere on the Internet.

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

Differences between the polls from different organizations shouldn’t be overstressed. For instance, the wording differs quite a bit poll to poll. But the general picture is clear and depressing.

As we can see, the percentage of Frenchmen who believe that the Soviet Union made the greatest contribution to Allied victory in World War Two has declined continuously from 1945, reaching an asymptote around 20%-25% from the 1990s on. Germany and the UK aren’t quite as historically illiterate/brainwashed as France on this issue, but the gap isn’t anything to write home about. Well, okay, at least the UK is understandable on some level; they are voting patriotically. Otherwise, they are actually the only modern Western nation to rate the Soviet contribution at a marginally higher level than the American one. But the German responses are completely inexplicable, considering that 75%-80% of Axis manpower and aircraft losses accrued to the Soviets.

But I suppose that so far as modern Germans concerned, just like Westerners in general, the Eastern Front is a place of zerg rushes and Russian rapine, while the real course of the war was decided in North Africa, the Atlantic, and the beaches of Normandy.

The retired Wehrmacht generals and Hollywood did their jobs well.

Date Table/Sources

USSR USA Great Britain Other/Don’t Know
UK 2015 (ICM) 13% 16% 46% 25%
Germany 2015 (ICM) 17% 52% 4% 27%
France 2015 (ICM) 8% 61% 9% 22%
USA 2015 (YouGov) 11% 55% 7% 27%
UK 2015 (YouGov) 15% 14% 50% 21%
Sweden 2015 (YouGov) 16% 33% 22% 29%
Germany 2015 (YouGov) 27% 37% 7% 29%
France 2015 (YouGov) 15% 47% 14% 24%
Finland 2015 (YouGov) 24% 32% 13% 31%
France 2015 (IFOP) 23% 54% 18% 5%
France 2014 (IFOP) 23% 49% 18% 10%
Russia 2010 (VCIOM) 91% 3% 1% 5%
Russian 2009 (VCIOM) 87% 4% 2% 7%
France 2004 (IFOP) 20% 58% 16% 6%
Russian 2002 (VCIOM) 92% 2% 1% 5%
France 1994 (IFOP) 25% 49% 16% 10%
France 1945 (IFOP) 57% 20% 12% 11%

PS. The YouGov poll also included data for Denmark and Norway. I did not bother to include them because they have limited influence on international affairs and their results are similar to Sweden’s anyway.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Opinion Poll, Propaganda, World War II 

Here are three very important graphs for comprehending the ebb and flow of Russia’s relations with the West, and why what some are now calling the New Cold War might well be here to stay.

Russian approval of the United States (green is positive, red is negative):

russia-usa-attitudes

Russian approval of the EU:

russia-eu-attitudes

While it’s hard to remember now, there really was an incredible air of optimism about future relations with the US and Europe towards the end of the Soviet Union that, perhaps even more strangely, lasted throughout most of the trials and tribulations and Harvard-supported looting of the country. There was something of a cargo cult in relation to the West, the idea that imitating and appeasing them just right would catapult the country into prosperity and the end of history. Just a few random examples. The term “evroremont,” denoting a quality housing renovation, presumably to European standards. Foreigners being allowed first in line to visit museums and cultural attractions. Women flinging themselves at any American adventurer type regardless of his success and social status (Mark Ames and the eXile are a testament to that).

There were sharp dips now and then, in surprisingly regular increments of five years, corresponding to some imperial action or other. The bombing of Serbia in 1999. The invasion of Iraq in 2003. The South Ossetian War in 2008. Crimea in 2014. Relations steadily cooled as the West began an aggressive expansion of its economic and security infrastructure into what Russia saw as its sphere of influence, in so doing breaking informal commitments made with Gorbachev that NATO wouldn’t expand an inch east. Russia unquestionably became more authoritarian, though the extent of the break with late Yeltsinism in that regard is highly exaggerated, and this was accompanied by an ever shriller campaign of demonization in the Western media that shows no signs of peaking even to this day. Bearing all this in mind, it is perhaps actually surprising that the moving average of Russian opinion of the US and EU declined only modestly between 2000 and 2013, from around 70% for both the EU and the US, to 60% for the EU and 50% for the US. For all the rhetoric about Russians being taken in by anti-Western propaganda, it’s worth noting that US approval of Russia was actually consistently if modestly lower than Russia’s approval of the US.

US approval of Russia:

us-russia-approval-pew

But there’s a couple of critical differences between previous dips and today that suggest that prior experience is no longer any guide to the future ever since approval ratings of the US and the EU plunged to less than 20% in 2014:

First, while reactions to Serbia, Iraq, and Georgia were short but sharp affairs, lasting but a few months, the recent collapse in relations as gauged by public opinion is already ongoing for more than a year. Nothing remotely similar has occured since the start of scientific polling in Russia. You might think that in a personalistic and relatively closed political system like Russia polls might not count for much, but you would be wrong; if anything, the lack of strong institutions able to act as a social glue makes polling and ratings all the more important, and it is something that the Kremlin pays heed to religiously. This is largely why Putin keeps participating in all these various stunts which range from the impressive (piloting a fighter jet during the Second Chechen War) to the faintly ridiculous (diving and magically finding ancient Greek amphora). The constant negativity seen ever since February 2014 might well be the start of a new normal, which if so might be increasingly difficult to turn around even if the respective political leaderships were to commit to doing so.

Second, and this ties in with the above, the EU has traditionally been seen slightly more positively than the US, and with the partial exception of 2008, we do not see the same sharp bumps and dips. Until 2014… when it became completely undistinguishable from the US. And that shouldn’t be all that surprising, considering the EU’s steady drift from what Russians imagined and dreamed it might be – a greater Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok, as De Gaulle saw it – to an unapologetically Atlanticist entity that accepted partnership with no other integration blocs (such as the Eurasian Union), grew increasingly confident in orchestrating regime changes against governments that didn’t hew to their neoliberal orthodoxy, and worst of all, subsumed integration into Atlanticist security structures (first and foremost, NATO) as an inalienable component of its economic expansion. Now the average Russian wouldn’t think in such terms, of course, but in general, it is probably fair to say that Russians now see both the EU and the US as just two blocs of the same, singularly hostile West.

But the story doesn’t quite end there.

Russian approval of China:

russia-china-attitudes

Even as the US and EU plumb new lows, Russian approval of China struck an alltime high of 81% (recall that this is equivalent to their approval of the US in the waning days of the Soviet Union). These feelings are mutual, and Putin is highly respected as a leader in CCP circles and reportedly by Xi Jinping personally. Again, this is not surprising: When one side slaps you with sanctions, while the other comes round with a fat wallet and offers to support the ruble should Russia only ask, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out who’d be the more popular guy at the party. All pretty obvious. Except, perhaps, for those neocons who appear to believe with all conviction that the West is absolutely indispensable for Russia, and that Russia will eventually agree to pay any cost to mend relations for the privilege of fighting China for them to the last Russian.

 

Foreign Policy reports on a massive opinion poll of International Relations experts on immigration, the wisdom of leaving Iraq, and the likelihood of war between the US and China or Russia. Here is the PDF. In some cases, their answers are compared to those of the public at large.

For the most part, it’s all pretty sane and predictable.

Most people, especially the scholars, think leaving Iraq was a good idea. They are unsure whether or not the US and Russia are headed back to a Cold War (neither am I). Henry Kissinger is rated as the most effective US Secretary of State in the past 50 years. And in an amusing example of Dunning-Kruger, far more scholars answer “I don’t know” for every question than does the general public.

The risk of war with Russia (2.55/10) or China (1.91/10) over the next decade is rated as low.

This is correct. The Chinese navy is still nowhere near as strong as even the US Pacific Fleet, though it is expanding fast. So long as the disparity remains this big, China will do its utmost not to risk outright war.

As for Russia, the US will not fight it for Ukraine – period; only the most svidomy Ukrainian and a certain subgroup of paranoid Russian nationalists believe otherwise. And deranged neocon ramblings aside, Russia would be idiotic to open up a front against the NATO Baltics even if it was interested in so doing (which it isn’t).

war-russia-china-poll

Where there is a substantial difference between public and expert opinion is in their attitudes towards immigration.

immigration-poll-ir-experts-vs-public

This is clearly primarily a class thing. For IR experts, more immigrants means cheap Hispanic workers and a vague personal sense of moral superiority. For the average population, it means downwards pressure on low-skill wages and a strong personal sense of cultural inundation.

Of course, do take all this with the requisite amount of salt. So far as foreign relations and immigration are concerned, since everyone is an expert and there are no real sanctions to being wrong (no skin in the game as Nassim N. Taleb would say), almost all but the most vague predictions turn out to be wrong. Of course this would apply to myself too.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Futurism, Immigration, Opinion Poll 

Title got your attention? No, it’s not going to be… that. Read on.

While the rest of the world (or a few Europeans, anyway) is obsessed with yet another “Polish death camps” episode, this time on CNN, a somewhat more significant historical scandal brewed between Poland and Russia.

Explaining away Poroshenko’s status as a guest of honor alongside the refusal to invite Putin to mark the 70-year anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, which takes places today on January 27th, the Polish FM Grzegorz Schetyna said:

The 1st Ukrainian front and Ukrainians liberated [the concentration camp], as on that January day there were Ukrainian soldiers, so they opened the gates of the camp.

Sure, there were Ukrainian soldiers there. But the majority were Russian. And dozens of other nationalities, including Poles. The “Ukrainian Front” was a mere geographical/military marker that had precisely zilch to do with ethnicity.

If one were really into beans-counting, the purely military contribution of Russians substantially outweighed that of Ukrainians – both in terms of their presence in the Red Army, and their military losses (this is, of course, after adjusting for relative population sizes). There is nothing political about this; it was just a logical consequence of Ukraine being occupied for the first half of the war, and being unable to contribute conscripts.

Mr. Schetyna could just have been honest about it. We don’t like you, Vlad, so why don’t you take a hike. Or simply answered without answering. Foreign Ministers are supposed to be good at that.

But no, he had to snub not only Putin, but the entire Russian people.

(Incidentally, what makes this all the more ironic is that Poroshenko, as the President of the Maidan, represents many of the ideological descendents of Ukraine’s collaborationist forces – the same ones who killed and ethnically cleansed the Poles and Jews who had previously constituted a majority in West Ukraine’s cities during the antebellum period. And who are even now, as they have been these past two decades, busy rewriting Ukrainian history textbooks to whitewash the role of the UPA. But today, that is of scant interest to Israel, and none at all to Poland. While that might not be “nice” or “fair” of them, it certainly isn’t illogical either. So far as they’re concerned, even a Ukraine led by zombie Hitler would be preferable to a Ukraine back in Russia’s orbit, even if Russia was to hold elect Khodorkovsky President and celebrate it with a massive gay parade in Moscow this very day. That is because an independent Ukraine can never be a geopolitical threat to Poland, whereas Russia mostly certainly can).

Does it matter?

While in the short-term it might be a faintly ridiculous spat, in the longterm it might well come to be seen as part of a process of alienation that has already been going on for decades.

For all the fuss made about them, nobody is going to start believing in the existence of “Polish death camps” – as in Polish Polish, not Nazi-occupied Polish – anytime soon; it’s not even an intentional mistake, for crying out loud. Nor is general Holocaust denial going to become a thing outside the danker corners of the Internet. That is because both Poles and Jews are now pretty much integral members of the Western community, so it’s hard to imagine their voices and historical memories ever getting drowned out.

This was not the case with the Soviet Union, and it is not the case with modern Russia.

Today’s popular Western conception of the Eastern Front is quite at odds with reality, heavily based as it is on the embellished reminiscences of Wehrmacht generals and ahistorical visual media fluffpieces, fueled by Cold War emotions, and with no popularly accessible Russian side of the story. So today most Westerners believe all manner of myths about the Soviet Union’s role in the war, from the discredited “two men per rifle” trope to it being the Americans who kicked Nazi ass anyway.

The cold statistics of the balance of Axis casualties between the Western and Eastern fronts – around 75%-80% of their manpower and aircraft losses accrued to the Soviets – fundamentally belie this idea of American preeminence. While you could argue legitimately argue that Lend-Lease provided the thin but critical margin in materiel that averted a Soviet collapse in 1942, as Mark Harrison does, or that a Germany that only had to fight on one front could have eked out a stalement in 1943-44, it is completely ludicrous to argue that the Western Allies could have conquered Germany had it been free to concentrate the bulk of its military assets to the west. Despite a successful deception operation and facing undermanned German divisions, D-Day was a closer call than is commonly appreciated. While history often doesn’t have clear answers, this is not one of those cases: The Soviet Union was the only unequivocally indispensable party in the defeat of Nazi Germany (and, incidentally, bringing an end to the Holocaust).

But most Westerners have no idea. To them, the Eastern Front is a place of zerg rushes and Russian rapine, while the real course of the war was decided in North Africa, the Atlantic, and the beaches of Normandy.

Think I’m exaggerating? If so, then it’s probably because unlike 95% of the population, you’ve just read too many actual history books (there are many very good serious English language historians in this area: Glantz, Overy, Bellamy. Not Antony Beevor, who probably sold ten times as many books as the first three combined. Should tell you something). Normal people don’t read those books, not even Beevor; they watch Enemy at the Gates and play Wolfenstein instead.

And this is what they have come to believe:

sondage-nation-contribue-defaite-nazis

This is a series of polls that took place in France in 1945, 1994, and 2004, respectively, asking which nation was most responsible for the defeat of Germany. Right after France’s liberation, with American and British soldiers walking the streets, a solid majority of 57% nonetheless believed that it had been the Soviet Union. But by 2004, the situation had cardinally reversed itself, with 58% now crediting the Americans and only 20% – the Soviet Union. This even constituted a decline relative to 1994, despite the intervening decade having been one of the best ever for West-Russia relations. The fact that great bulk of German divisions and airpower were destroyed on the Eastern Front pales into insignificance besides the power of Cold War and just plain anti-Russian propaganda acting on the human biomasses over the course of two generations. (Interestingly, the most “pro-Soviet” group in the 2004 poll was not, as you might expect, supporters of the Communist Party – whose 20% was exactly in line with the national average – but the Front National, with 33%. As sovereigntist successors to De Gaulle, who dreamed of a Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok and whose only real issue with Russia was its then Communist ideology, this should not be too surprising).

I haven’t seen any similar polls from the US or Britain, but I very much doubt they would be substantially different.

With the West and Russia once again growing estranged from each other, and the level of propaganda and mutual recriminations returning to Cold War levels, one wonders what Americans and Frenchmen in 2104 might answer when asked who they think liberated Auschwitz.

Will it be the Americans? Or maybe even a German-Ukrainian combined joint task force? The latter, at least, is presumably what the Ukrainian PM Arseny Yatsenyuk wants the world to start to believe.

 

Here is the discussion at this on The Russia Debate.

My friend and DR commentator Alexander Mercouris correctly predicted this outcome – that Serdyukov would be charged, but that it is a complex case that will take a long time and likely avoid more the more serious allegations in favor of those that can be more easily proved in a court of law. So I’ll just quote his analysis:

As people who followed my opinions about this case will know, I have always thought it more likely than not that Serdyukov would eventually face a charge but I have also thought it more likely than not that it would not be a charge that reflected the seriousness of what he had done. I have also always thought and I still think (as does Anatoly Karlin) that this case is very likely to end in a plea bargain.

The reason I have always thought these things is not because I have any real doubt about Serdyukov’s corruption and of his personal involvement in the corrupt schemes that have wracked the Defence Ministry under his watch (see my very first comment on this thread) or because I thought he was being protected by someone (see my second comment) but because personal experience tells me how difficult it is in these cases of high level corruption and embezzlement to secure a conviction. Again I would repeat what I have said previously, which is that the mere fact that Serdyukov’s brother is rich or that Vasilieva has a stash in her multiroom apartment, is not in itself evidence against Serdyukov that can be used in a Court of law. There has to be witness evidence and/or a paper trail directly linking Serdyukov to some or all of these corrupt activities, which the prosecution is in a position to say cannot be interpreted in any way other than as evidence of his guilt. Given that Serdyukov was presumably taking steps to conceal what he was up to, that sort of evidence almost by definition is going to be difficult to find.

It has not helped matters in this case that judging from media reports Serdyukov is being investigated by two rival teams of investigators – one from the Investigative Committee and one from the military Procurator’s Office – who appear much of the time to be in bitter rivalry and disagreement with each other. Conflicts of this sort invariably complicate investigations and can even wreck them completely.

What I would say about this case at the moment is this:

1. It is by no means impossible that what Jose Moreira is saying is true and that this is only the first charge and that more serious charges may follow. I would like to believe that but I have to say based again on personal experience that I would not be personally surprised if the present charge is as good as it gets because it is the best that the prosecution can realistically prove for the reasons I have previously given;

2. If more serious charges are brought against Serdyukov, I again repeat that it is more likely than not that the case will still end in a plea bargain, which makes it unlikely that Serdyukov will receive the sort of punishment people (including me) want him to receive and which he arguably deserves. However I want to say again that the likely reason for this is not because Serdyukov is being protected by someone but because a plea bargain is a cost effective way of securing a conviction in a complex case where because of the difficulties presented by the evidence a conviction cannot otherwise be guaranteed.

3. Even if the best that can be achieved is a conviction for criminal negligence, that is a great deal better than nothing and it is certainly not a joke. Though it only comes with a potential 3 month prison sentence, it is a criminal conviction nonetheless. In addition, though I don’t know this for a fact, there must at least be a strong possibility that if Serdyukov is convicted under this charge a civil claim from the Defence Ministry for compensation for the economic loss he has caused will follow. This would only cover the loss caused by the actual negligence Serdyukov had been convicted for, not the loss caused by the whole Oboronservis scandal and its many permutations. However it would still be a substantial amount of money and probably more than Serdyukov could easily pay.

In summary, I know most people take a much more negative view of the Russian legal system than I do. However my frank opinion is that if this case were happening anywhere in western Europe (including Britain) its conduct and eventual outcome would be little different from what is proving to be the case in Russia whilst based on what I have read in the media about defence procurement practices and management in the US it is perhaps unlikely such a case would be brought there at all.

Another poll shows declining Russian “everyday” corruption:

In the past, I showed that according to polling evidence, the actual level of Russian “everyday” corruption from Putin’s coming to power to 2012 had, in fact, remained roughly steady (many Western commentators argue it has increased).

There is, however, a steady stream of evidence that 2013 is beginning to see a real and marked improvement in these indicators.

(1) First, there was Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer survey which I covered here. Unfortunately, they found the Russia data to be “an outlier when compared with other available data,” and stridently refused to release any figures. But circumstantial evidence points to the outlier being in a positive direction.

In particular, a FOM poll showed that:

Firstly, according to the survey, 79% of Russians are not faced with bribery at all. (This number has grown from 60% in 2008). Only 15% paid bribes. (In 2008 it was 29%).

(PS. That said, I have been unable to find the provenance of the 15% figure, at FOM’s website; though I don’t think the Odnako author would just make it up either. Fedia, could you help please?)

(2) I have since come across VCIOM polling data for corruption, which I had missed in my prior survey of corruption polls. It is translated below:

In the past year, did you need to give money or gifts to people whom you needed to resolve your problems?
2006 г. 2007 г. 2008 г. 2013 г.
Yes, frequently 19 9 20 7
Yes, but these were singular cases 34 25 28 12
No 45 60 47 80
N/A 2 5 6 1

For comparability with the other polls, this shows that the percentage of people saying they’d paid a bribe in the past year going as follows: 2006 – 53%; 2007 – 34%; 2008 – 48%; 2013 – 19%. This suggests a far higher “baseline” level of corruption that that suggested by the other polling organizations (i.e. Levada, FOM, and Transparency), which have answers to this question typically ranging at 15%-30%, but it likewise indicates a very marked improvement now relative to the 2000′s.

One particularly noticeable thing is the change in the structure of corruption. While 14%-16% (of those who had to give bribes in the past year) had their corrupt run-in with the police during 2006-2008, in 2013 it was just 6%. This suggests that the much ballyhooed police reforms had actually worked quite well. (That said, there was no similar improvement with the traffic police). Not quite, see Little Pig’s comment.

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

I have managed to find 3 polls querying people on their attitudes towards radical life extension. By far the most comprehensive one is PEW’s August 2013 Living to 120 and Beyond project. The other two are a poll of CARP members, a Canadian pro-elderly advocacy group, and by Russia’s Levada Center. While PEW and Levada polled a representative sample of their respective populations, the average age of the CARP respondents was about 70 years.

On the surface, public opinion is not supportive of life extension. 38% of Americans want to live decades longer, to at least 120, while 56% are opposed; 51% think that radical life extension will be a bad thing for society. Only 19% of CARP responents would like to take advantage of these treatments, and 55% think they are bad for society. Though a somewhat higher percentage of Russians, at 32%, want to live either “several times longer” or “be immortal” – as opposed to 64% who only want to live a natural lifespan – their question is phrased more positively, noting that “youth and health” would be preserved under such a scenario.

For now, these figures are a curiosity. But should radical life extension cease being largely speculative and move into the realm of practical plausibility – Aubrey de Grey predicts it will happen as soon as middle-aged mice are rejuvenated so as to extent their lifespans by a few factors – public opinion will start playing a vital role. It would be exceedingly frustrating – literally lethal, even – should the first promising waves of life extension break upon the rocks of politicians pandering to the peanut gallery. This is a real danger in a democracy.

Still, there are three or four strong arguments for optimism in those same polls:

First, while people may not want to live much longer themselves, their pro-death sentiment isn’t as strong towards relatives; 44% of Russians want their family members to live factors longer, versus only 32% for themselves. Americans and Canadians both assume that while they might not want radical life extension for themselves, the majority of their countrymen would. And there is widespread support for research. 63% of Americans agree that “medical advances that prolong life are generally good”; there is no identifiable line that separates those advances from radical life extension itself. 45% of Russians would support a social movement advocating for radical life extension, whereas only 33% wouldn’t.

Second, the younger demographics appear to be more supportive of radical life extension. While 48% of American 18-29 year olds think treatments to extend life by decades would be a good thing for society, the sentiment is shared by only 31% of 65+ year olds. Though the gap in personal preferences for radical life extension is much lower – 40% for 18-29 year olds versus 31% for 65+ year olds – this could partially be a reflection of young people in their 20′s thinking that they are virtually immortal anyway. This is of relevance because by the time we can feasibly approach actuarial escape velocity, the vast majority of present day 65+ year olds will likely be already dead. So their fatalism, you can say, is not an irrational sentiment. (Unless they make arrangements for cryopreservation, but this is a digression).

Third, it appears that a significant chunk of the opposition is motivated by mistaken ideas of what radical life extension is about. To be honest, I’m not a fan of the term. It gives some the impression that they’d continue aging indefinitely, slowly becoming a withered, creaking husk of their former selves. Like in those countless tales and fables where an immortality wish is granted, only for its recipient to become a ghost, or a crazy evil old man, or a metal statue. The reality is that radical life extension, in practice, means rejuvenation, or at least “freezing” the patient at one specific age. Ironically, eking out a few more years of substandard life is what the bulk of modern medical research is about. Medical research that the vast majority of people everywhere approve of. Radical life extension research, to the contrary, is mostly about identifying the aging processes, actively repairing the damage, and eventually mitigating them through genomic interventions. This is a very important distinction that was only made in the Russian poll. In contrast, one of the big two worries of elderly Canadians – apart from resource shortages and overcrowding – was that they would outlive their savings of human life was to be radically extended. This entire point is moot because if and when we pass the actuarial event horizon, the human clock will start ticking backwards and there would no longer be any need for pensions.

Finally, Americans who heart a lot or a little about radical life extension were more likely, at 45%, to say they would undergo such treatments than were people who hadn’t heard anything about it, at 32%. However, this point is weaker than the others, because presumably people who have at some point idly wondered if they could live forever would have been more likely to go Googling and stumbled across all that SENS and H+ stuff in the first place.

(Reprinted from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 

1. The CEC results

Here they are. The turnout was 32%.

  • Sergey Sobyanin – 51.37%
  • Alexei Navalny – 27.24%
  • Ivan Melnikov – 10.69%
  • Sergey Mitrokhin – 3.51%
  • Mikhail Degtyaryov – 2.86%
  • Nikolai Levichev – 2.79%
  • Invalid ballots – 1.53%

2. Pre-elections opinion polls:

Navalny’s support – among those who indicated a clear preference for one candidate or another – rose from the single digits in June to around 20% on the eve of the elections (Levada, VCIOM, FOM, Synovate Comcon). All the polls – even including the SuperJob poll that only queried active workers, aka excluded pro-Sobyanin pensioners – gave Sobyanin more than 50% in the first round.

His actual result massively exceeded expectations. By common consensus, this was because the “party of the couch” won; although close to 50% of Muscovites were saying they were going to vote, only 32% ended up doing so. These were mainly Sobyanin supporters who were, nonetheless, loth to shift their butts to vote for an uninspiring if competent technocrat who had ran a most lacklustre campaign.

3. Election observers

In the SMS-ЦИК program, accredited election observers would send text messages from their polling stations with numbers from the protocols at their precinct. They could then be compared with the official CEC numbers.

And Sobyanin’s result here was 49.52%.

Mikhail Degtyaryov 2,77%
Nikolay Levichev 2,78%
Ivan Melnikov 10,82%
Sergey Mitrokhin 3,71%
Alexei Navalny 28,54%
Sergey Sobyanin 49,52%
spoiled ballots 1,86%
from home 4,61%

Does this mean he really did cheat Navalny out of a second round? Well, not necessarily.

Here’s a key caveat. Far from all polling stations were covered by the SMS-ЦИК. Their figures thus have a significant margin of error. I would speculate that the bias is, in fact, more likely to be in favor of Navalny than of Sobyanin, because the observers who would get involved in this project in the first place would likely be more liberal-leaning in the first place, would on average appear more frequently in the more oppositionist areas of town, and would and come to observe their local station.

Still, it’s not a shut and closed case. Someone should really make an analysis of which areas where covered by this program – and whether the sample really does favor Navalny as I reasonably hypothesized above.

4. Exit polls

These are, admittedly, all over the place. The Center of Political Technologies gave Sobyanin 56% and Navalny 29%; FOM – Sobyanin 52.5%, Navalny – 29%; VCIOM – Sobyanin 53%, Navalny 29%. An exit poll carried out by Navalny’s supporters gave him 35.6% to Sobyanin’s 46%, while the Communist Party claimed their candidate Melnikov performed much better, with 19%, than he did according to the official 11 – though their poll still gave Sobyanin a first round victory with 51%.

In conclusion, four out of five exit polls gave a first round victory to Sobyanin. The only one that didn’t was carried out by explicit supporters of the opposition candidate.

5. Statistical evidence

The art of electoral fraud detection via statistical means has come a long way (and has – probably not coincidentally – been mostly spearheaded by Russian mathematicians). You can read the details here.

Suffice to say that for a relatively homogenous city like Moscow, it is expected that each candidates turnout to vote share graph should resemble a Gaussian curve. And here it is for 2013: The mean for Sobyanin is 51.65%, and for Navalny – 28.1%.

moscow-2013-elections-gauss

Or, expressed in the form of a “heat graph” for any one candidate in which the turnout at each station is graphed to the result there, it should form a single concentrated dot. A long tail leading up and to the right, as well as additional distinct dots – especially if they are concentrated at around the 100%/100% – constitutes strong evidence for systemic election fraud.

In regards Moscow, its elections were clean up to and including 2003 or so. But then it started growing ever thicker tails, and additional concentrations popped up, to reach absolutely bizarre and astounding levels in the 2009 City Council elections and the 2011 parliamentary elections. But then it seems obvious that some kind of order and directive was passed down to clean them up, and the graphs snapped back to what they were before 2004 during the 2012 Presidential elections.

moscow-elections-2011-2012

Now here is the heat graph for 2013. Which of the above does it most closely resemble?

moscow-2013-elections-heat

The verdict: As in 2012, but not in 2004-2009, the Moscow mayoral election of 2013 didn’t see any significant fraud and Sobyanin won legitimately in the first round.

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

A couple of polls to provide the fodder for the subsequent discussions.

Feel free to provide an exact figure (to one decimal place) for Navalny’s percentage share in the comments and we can have a little competition along the lines of the one we had for the Presidential elections.

BackgroundSobyanin vs. Navalny in Figures (July 23 summary); last Levada poll; last WCIOM poll; last FOM poll and prediction; last Synovate Comcon poll.

Discussion thread at The Russia Debate forumThe Moscow Elections, 8 Sept 2013.

Poll #1:

[polldaddy poll=7372081]

Poll #2:

[polldaddy poll=7372096]

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

A few months late, but worth posting anyway.

racial-tolerance-map-hk-fix (from Washington Post)

The results are based on the latest “wave” of the World Values Survey, a very interesting project that tracks sociological data across countries – and which I will likely post more about in the future.

Interesting observations:

(1) The West in general is the world’s least “racist”* region – regardless of what some ideologues wish to argue. Regarding the US in particular, even many European countries – widely considered to be more “liberal” – would balk at the affirmative action policies in place there.

(2) France is a curious exception, though not perhaps altogether surprising in light of the popularity of the National Front. A far right party enjoying the support of about a third of the population is, indeed, pretty unique for a developed country. Is it something specific about the French? Or have they just had more opportunities to get fed up with multi-culturalism in general?

(3) Rates of consanguineous marriage (and associated clannishness) all correlate closely with rates of “racism.” Compare the map above with the map below of the rate of consanguineous marriage – considering the inherent vagueness of the questions asked in the WVS, the fact that the territories of the former Caliphate, India, and Indonesia are clearly delineated is nothing short of remarkable.

consanguineous-marriage-islam

(4) Pakistan is a big – and surprising? – exception to the above pattern. What’s the deal with that?

(5) That Japan and East-Central Europe (bar Russia) are as non-”racist” as they appear probably isn’t so much an indicator of widespread tolerance there as the simple absence of significant troublesome racial minorities there.

(6) Russia and China seem about right to me.

* Why the apostrophes? Because how, exactly, is this a valid indication of racism? These polls are just people exercising their natural right of freedom of association, if only in oral form. But it’s still a convenient shorthand.

(Reprinted from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 

With the registration period over, there are now six candidates left to compete for the position of Mayor of Moscow in the coming city elections. Who will Muscovites vote for?

Moscow on the Eve of the City Elections

Which of the following candidates are you prepared to vote for in the upcoming Moscow elections on 8 September?

Out of all Muscovites

…who intend to vote

… & have made their choice

June

July June July June

July

Sergey Sobyanin

45

34 61 53 67

78

Alexei Navalny

3

4 3 5 3

8

Ivan Melnikov (KPRF)

-

2 - 4 -

6

Sergei Mitrokhin (Yabloko)

1

1 2 2 2

3

Sergey “Pauk” Troitsky

1

1 1 1 2

1

Nikolai Levichev (Fair Russia)

-

<1 - <1 -

1

Mikhail Degtyaryov (LDPR)

-

<1 - 1 -

1

Alena Popova

-

<1 - 1 -

1

Gleb Fetisov

-

<1 - <1 -

1

Svetlana Peunova

-

<1 - <1 -

1

will spoil ballot

2

2 1 1 1

1

hard to say

18

42 9 33 -

-

won’t participate

14

14 - - -

-

(Reprinted from Russian Spectrum by permission of author or representative)
 

My latest for VoR/US-Russia Experts panel. Hope you like the title. :)

The political fragmentation of the Soviet Union was one of the major contributing factors to the “hyper-depression” that afflicted not only Russia but all the other constituent republics in the 1990′s. The Soviet economy had been an integrated whole; an aircraft might have its engines sourced from Ukraine, its aluminium body from Russia, and its navigational ball-bearings from Latvia. Suddenly, border restrictions and tariffs appeared overnight – adding even more complexity and headaches to a chaotic economic situation. Although the region was in for a world of hurt either way, as economies made their screeching transitions to capitalism, disintegration only served to further accentuate the economic and social pain. In this respect, Putin was correct to call the dissolution of the Soviet Union one of the 20th century’s greatest geopolitical tragedies.

It is no longer possible – and in some cases, even desirable – to restore much of the productive capacity lost in that period. Nonetheless, renewed economic integration across the Eurasian space – with its attendant promise of less red tape (and hence lower opportunities for corruption), significantly bigger markets offering economies of scale, and the streamlining of legal and regulatory standards – is clearly a good deal for all the countries concerned from an economic perspective. There is overwhelming public support for the Common Economic Space in all member and potential member states: Kazakhstan (76%), Tajikistan (72%), Russia (70%), Kyrgyzstan (63%), Belarus (62%), and Ukraine (56%). The percentage of citizens opposed doesn’t exceed 10% in any of those countries. A solid 60%-70% of Ukrainians consistently approve of open borders with Russia, without tariffs or visas, while a further 20% want their countries to unite outright; incidentally, both figures are lower in Russia itself, making a mockery of widespread claims that Russians harbor imperialistic, “neo-Soviet,” and revanchist feelings towards “their” erstwhile domains.

This I suppose brings us to Ariel Cohen, neocon think-tanks, Hillary “Putin has no soul” Clinton, and John “I see the letters KGB in Putin’s eyes” McCain. They studiously ignore the fact that the Eurasian Union is primarily an economic association, and not even one that insists on being exclusionary to the EU. They prefer not to mention that the integration project has strong support in all the countries involved, with Russia not even being the most enthusiastic about it – which is quite understandable, considering that as its richest member it would also be expected to provide the lion’s bulk of any transfer payments. In this respect, it is the direct opposite of the way the Soviet Union was built – through military occupation, and against the will of the vast majority of the Russian Empire’s inhabitants. Though expecting someone like McCain, who one suspects views the “Tsars” and Stalin and Putin as matryoshka dolls nestled within each other, to appreciate any of that is unrealistic and a waste of time.

Enough with entertaining the senile ramblings from those quarters. Integration makes patent economic sense; it enjoys broad popular support throughout the CIS; and there are no global opponents to it – official China, for instance, is supportive – barring a small clique of prevaricating, anti-democratic, and perennially Russophobic ideologues centered in the US and Britain. Neither the West nor any other bloc has any business dictating how the sovereign nations of Eurasia choose to coordinate their economic and political activities.

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

Moskovsky Komsomolets’ Dmitry Katorzhnov takes a walk around Moscow to ask people what they feel about Navalny. The impressions he gets don’t promise anything good for his campaign.

MK’s Poll: Most Muscovites don’t Want to Vote for Navalny

Half of the respondents do not intend to go to the polls anyhow.

On Wednesday, July 10 Alexey Navalny will carry a Moscow City Election Committee paper for registering himself as an independent candidate. His powerful support organization is already prophesying his victory at the polls. The opinions of Muscovites themselves is not so clear. “MK” has talked to passers-by about Navalny and his chances of winning.

For this simple experiment, we took a completely non-representative sample of 36 people. They were all doing something: one was walking along the street, another was hurrying home, another was buying an ice cream at a kiosk. There was no filtering of the respondents: amongst them were young and old, poor and rich, men and women.

The results:

Votes
Navalny 3
Sobyanin 5
Any candidate 9
Won’t vote 19

The clear tendency: the older the respondent, the more retrograde the choice. Many of them would prefer Luzhkov.

Oksana, a graduate of Moscow University: “To be honest – for no one. It makes no sense whatsoever. No matter how many mayors there have been, the most normal was Luzhkov. And now? Look, I have friends living in the Southern District. All around where they live has been dug up and my friends joked: Is Sergei hunting for treasure? Generally speaking, there is a problem that all politicians face: as soon as they can smell money, all their opposition somehow disappears.”

Some passers-by refused to answer the question. Among them were employees of the local social security department and the police force.

The defenders of law and order said: “Young man, are you a little kid or what? They’ll tell us who to vote for, where to put our tick. It won’t start yet. They’ll say you are an oppositionist and will hunt you down.”

The social security workers: “Can’t you see we’re busy? Which Navalny, eh? We’re from social security!”

Indeed, such political engagement amongst government officials is predictable.

But amongst ordinary passers-by the general opinion wasn’t so divisive. Most believe that Navalny is a crook and a thief. Sobyanin has been mayor, so one clearly knows what to expect off him.

Alla Leonidovna, retired, a former employee of the Presidential Administration: “As Vysotsky used to say: a thief should sit in gaol. From the point of view of the election, this is probably not very important: I have already distanced myself from these matters, but my friends and I will vote for Sobyanin.”

Four builders vied with one another: “For Prokhorov! For Sobyanin! For anyone! For Luzhkov!”

A boxing coach and his colleague: “Well, he’s better than Putin. We are for Navalny. Well, as far as “we” goes, Sasha is not registered in Moscow. Generally speaking, though, we are fully behind of Sobyanin, if that is of any importance. It doesn’t mean much.”

The views of citizens:

“I’ve already voted for the grey haired one. It’s all the same to me whoever wins.”

“No, I’m not going to vote for a mayor: They are all crooks.”

“No, I will not vote for Navalny. I am voting for Sobyanin. I am a pensioner – so don’t bother me.”

“Navalny? Mayor? He’s a thief. And has been thief his whole life, of course.”

“I’m not going to vote. They are all thieves.”

“If he gets through the first stage of voting, Navalny will win. He’s a good bloke. I’m impressed by him. For Alexei and the future.”

“I’m not going to vote for anyone. The choice for an honest citizen is to boycott the election. They are all crooks, Navalny and all the rest of them.”

That’s it. It should probably lower the bar of expectations. People unfamiliar with the protest movement continue to give their vote to state nominees. Navalny fans, please do not take offence. Alas, I too was hoping for a different picture.

(Reprinted from Russian Spectrum by permission of author or representative)
 
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

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

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

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