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



=>
 TeasersRussian Reaction Blog
/
RealWorld

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

To this day, my most popular blog post ever by number of blog comments is Top 10 Most Powerful Countries In 2011, in which I tried to tally the power rating (Comprehensive National Power, as the Chinese would call it) of the world’s Great Powers. It was rather unscientific, there being no particular method by which I assigned numbers.

My second most popular post ever is my recent megapost attempting to measure the Comprehensive Military Power of the world’s leading armed forces. This effort was much more rigorous and provoked a great deal of discussion both here and elsewhere.

This tell me something. Namely, that there is a big popular demand for quantifying all aspects of national power. No wonder the National Review is jampacked with list-based articles of the “5 Chinese Weapons the US should Fear” and the like.

This is convenient, because before compiling the CMP, I also attempted to create a more rigorous measure of the CNP, using a index derived from an averaged measure of economic, military, and soft power. I will not be doing a very big detailed post on the CNP 2015 because I decided I have enough material and ideas to write a small e-book on it instead.

In the meantime, before what is tentatively titled Future Superpowers comes out, for those who are interested in the general idea behind my version of the CNP and would like to see some preliminary rankings and estimates – which will be sure to change, though probably not by much – here goes.

The CNP was compiled, as above, based on an average measure of economic, military, and soft power. Economic power was an index tied to nominal and PPP-adjusted GDP; military power was derived in a way similar to the CMP, albeit the version used here was slightly less sophisticated; and soft power was the average of some measures of diplomatic, elite, and mass/popular soft power such as UN veto rights and percentage of the world’s Top 100 universities. All three major components were given equal weight because, as with Ian Morris’ attempt to quantify historical social development in The Measure of Civilization, there was no particularly good reason to favor one or another component. It’s somewhat like Varys’ riddle over whether a sellsword will obey the king (military power), the priest (soft power), or the rich man (economic power) when they all order him to kill the other two; it all depends on the particular situation and there is no correct answer.

Interestingly, the rank order was very similar to my first “intuitive” attempt at quantification in 2011. The US is head and shoulders above everyone else; China has half of its power; and Russia approximately a third. France, the UK, Germany, Japan, and India form a very tight cluster at around 20% of US national power. Then there is another big gap, and at decidedly less than 10%, there is Brazil, Korea, and the Saudis. The only major difference between the 2011 version and the current 2015 version is that whereas Turkey was 10th in the former, in today’s more rigorous version it shifts down by quite a bit and Italy displaces it (though it could just as easily have been Saudi Arabia, Canada, or South Korea). However, I had overestimated the power of pretty much every country relative to that of the US in the old primitive 2011 version. This matters if you want to make your index proportional and additive, as I have now explicitly set out to do now.

Here are the actual rankings. Note that I didn’t bother doing all countries, just the generally more important ones.

Comprehensive National Power in 2015

The third column is the CNP of each Power relative to US=100 this year. The fourth column gives national CNPs as a percentage of all the “power” in the world. The fifth column gives the CNP per capita as a percentage of that of the US.

Country CNP 2015 %World p/c
1 United States 100.0 22.60% 100%
2 China 51.6 11.67% 12%
3 Russia 28.4 6.43% 62%
4 United Kingdom 20.6 4.66% 102%
5 France 20.6 4.65% 100%
6 India 17.8 4.03% 5%
7 Japan 17.3 3.92% 44%
8 Germany 15.3 3.47% 60%
9 Brazil 9.2 2.08% 14%
10 Italy 8.4 1.91% 45%
11 Saudi Arabia 7.2 1.62% 73%
12 Canada 7.1 1.61% 64%
13 South Korea 6.6 1.50% 42%
14 Australia 6.1 1.38% 82%
15 Spain 5.4 1.22% 37%
16 Mexico 4.6 1.05% 12%
17 Indonesia 4.6 1.04% 6%
18 Turkey 4.4 1.00% 18%
19 Netherlands 4.3 0.97% 82%
20 Switzerland 3.8 0.86% 149%
21 Iran 3.8 0.85% 15%
22 Pakistan 3.3 0.74% 6%
23 Israel 2.8 0.63% 107%
24 Poland 2.7 0.62% 23%
25 Sweden 2.4 0.53% 78%
26 Thailand 2.3 0.52% 11%
27 Egypt 2.3 0.52% 8%
28 Argentina 2.2 0.50% 17%
29 Nigeria 2.1 0.47% 4%
30 UAE 2.0 0.46% 67%
31 South Africa 1.8 0.41% 11%
32 Ukraine 1.8 0.40% 13%
33 Greece 1.4 0.31% 40%
34 Vietnam 1.2 0.27% 4%
35 North Korea 0.5 0.12% 7%
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Geopolitics, Great Powers, RealWorld 
🔊 Listen RSS

One constant theme in the immigration “debate” is that the world of Mutti Merkel and Sweden Yes! are just too stupid and/or WEIRD (capitalized) to get that it probably isn’t such a great idea to import millions of 80 IQ Third Worlders with a penchant for cultural enrichment. In fantasyland, they will help pay European pensions and provide workers; in practice, Germany and Sweden are cutting benefits, raising taxes, upping the retirement age, and kicking their own people out of social housing to provide lodgings for the Abduls and Jamals who will take good care of them.

But these two explanations are highly questionable. While the Eurocrat elites might be many things, one thing they are not is stupid. For that matter, Merkel herself is a cited physicist. Nor is it obvious to me that they are too WEIRD for their own good. Plenty of senior establishment figures have openly come out against mass immigration and they are not all called Viktor Orban. For that matter, Merkel herself in 2010 had said that European multiculturalism had failed and had no future. (This, fundamentally, is why back then I was so skeptical about the Eurabia concept. I still assumed that democracies at least to some extent answered to their people and that immigration would drastically slow down as political sentiment drifted against it. Instead, we are now seeing Sweden replacing more than 2% of its population annually, even as the “far right” Sweden Democrats climb to 25%+ in the polls. At such rates, what was once sci-fi has become a real demographic scenario).

What explains the volte face?

Maybe this particular stone just kills too many birds not to have been eventually thrown. At this point, perhaps more “conspiratorial” explanations can come to the fore.

(1) Suppress European nationalism, not just politically but eventually, demographically. It just so happens that nationalism – not socialism, social democracy, or even (especially) social justice – is also the greatest threat to oligarchic power. That is because the modern Left is too obsessed with vague notions of “social justice” to notice, while the Right only cares about making life easier for its big business sponsors in between satisfying its cuckoldry fetish.

(2) One way of doing this is to steadily stiffle freedom of speech on both the Internet and meatspace on the pretext of fighting racism and xenophobia. See the recent leaked Mutti-Zucky conversation on this:

(3) Incidentally, the SJWs and mainstream media are doing much of the “gruntwork” in this respect, so that’s an additional bonus. For instance, the Reddit regional default sub /r/europe under the benevolent guidance of /u/dClauzel is infamous for banning all real criticism of the immigration wave.

(4) This means real repressive actions, such as the endless legal cases against Marine Le Pen, can be kept at a relative minimum. That repressive reserve can be “saved up” for the real domestic enemies of NWO oligarchs, who mainly seem to be cryptoanarchists like Assange and Snowden, and those “radical” (as in, who remember their roots – their radix) Leftists like Jeremy Corbyn and various Southern European upstarts who want to substantially overhaul the entire current system of total global financial power. They are demonized in the MSM, sidelined out of power to the maximum extent possible while maintaining some semblance of democracy, and if that doesn’t work they are eventually made offers they cannot refuse, as happened to Syriza.

(5) Neoliberalism can be legally entrenched, with “reforms” such as higher retirement ages and lower minimum wages pushed through to help the surviving Aylans with $15,000 annually, as Soros suggested. The media, organized in a few oligarch-owned conglomerates, is and will of course continue to be fully on board with this plan. The TPP will merely accelerate and globalize this process.

(6) The surveillance state has all the justifications it needs to continue metastasizing without end. Not just on the grounds of preventing terrorism, which wouldn’t be much of an issue had mass immigration not happened in the first place, but also perhaps to detect and trace back all the vile racists and their hate speech. Dystopian sci-fi scenario of mass unemployment in which universal basic income depends on your social justice karma level? You heard it here first.

(7) Finally, the permanent refugee crisis itself – not to mention many other ills too numerous to count – can be ascribed by a compliant media to whoever happens to be not under the NWO’s thumb, and as such, its enemy. Putin in particular comes to mind. This in turn can be used as a pretext to foment ever more instability in the Middle East and Russia’s borderlands, leading to their continued destabilization, ever bigger refugee outflows, and the consolidation of the neoliberal/surveillance/social justice transnational Atlantic megastate.

No doubt there are many very powerful people who stand to benefit from all this.

I wonder to what extent this is an organized conspiracy as opposed to an emergent phenomenon. At one point, I used to think it was mostly or entirely the latter. But why not the former? (apart from the convenient notion promoted by the MSM that conspiracies aren’t real and people who credit any measure of truth to them are paranoid uneducated idiots)

goldberg-troll

He literally looks like a trollface.

Consider the recent case of Joshua Goldberg, an impressive Internet troll who managed to pose as a White Nationalist who wrote for The Daily Stormer, a Jewish supremacist calling for Palestinian extermination, a crazy feminist SJW against Gamergate, and an Islamist extremist who managed to unlock that most elusive of troll achievements: Convincing people to carry out a terrorist attack in meatspace.

One Goldberg – tens of online aliases, thousands of virtual discussions, hundreds of thousands of Likes, upvotes, and shares to Facebook and Twitter.

A few tens of Goldbergs (with some AI bots helping out) – thousands of online aliases, millions of virtual discussions, billions of Likes, upvotes, and shares to Facebook and Twitter.

Maybe with some highly illegal and sordid initiation rituals to serve as potential kompromat.

Maybe an Agent 47 or three to prevent too many people spilling too many beans in too short an interval of time.

Maybe with a few conspiratorial-looking fronts – the Bilderberg Club in particular comes to mind – to take the “heat” away from any real conspiracy.

Put that way, it doesn’t seem all that impossible, now does it?

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Conspiracy Theories, Immigration, RealWorld 
🔊 Listen RSS

aleksievich-nobel I don’t make any claims to being some kind of hifalutin literatus. To the extent I read any fiction at all it is almost inevitably either sci-fi or fantasy. I am woefully uncultured when it comes to “Big L” Literature, and looking at the postmodernist dreck that seems to dominate the modern scene, I am frankly content to continue wallowing in my ignorance.

So I was not very surprised to find myself completely ignorant of Svetlana Alexievich when she was announced the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature. What was more surprising is that this ignorance was widely shared amongst my Russian acquaintances. It is not particularly the case that my acquaintances are cultural troglodytes. As Western journalists have recently confirmed, she really is pretty unknown in the Russosphere.

The pathos of Alexievich’s situation is that, while some of her books have been successful—War’s Unwomanly Face reportedly sold two million copies—today, the humanist writer is nearly unknown in her dehumanizing homeland, and is of little interest to its people. Her print runs are modest. There are virtually no comments or votes on her books on Ozon.ru (link in Russian), Russia’s answer to Amazon.com, and most of the books are not even in stock. By contrast, the previous five Russian-language winners of the literature Nobel—Ivan Bunin, Boris Pasternak, Solzhenitsyn, Mikhail Sholokhov, and Joseph Brodsky—are all still household names.

Below is a graph I compiled using Google Trends comparing online chatter about her compared to some other prominent Russian language writers from multiple genres and sides of the political spectrum. The graph runs from 2004 to September 2015, to avoid the artificial spike coinciding with the announcement of Alexievich’s Nobel Prize this October.

Dmitry Bykov is a poet and essayist, Viktor Pelevin is a postmodernist but does some truly original and profound things with it, and Boris Akunin is a bestselling historical detective fiction writer. Perhaps more importantly to the sorts of people who decide on whom to give awards to, all three are strongly anti-Putin and pro-Maidan. The exception here is Sergey Lukyanenko, whose urban fantasies have probably made him into modern Russia’s internationally best known writer.

nobody-reads-svetlana-alexievich

What all four of them have in common though is that not in a single month have they had their names mentioned online less often Svetlana Alexievich. As one can see from the bar graph, any one of them is an order of magnitude more popular. None of them would have been an unworthy Nobel Prize winner. There are dozens of other Russian language writers well ahead of her, to say nothing of the rest of the world. So her Nobel Prize certainly couldn’t have been the result of prominence and popular acclaim.

Was she then selected on the basis of the Swedish Nobel committee’s deep level of understanding and appreciation of Russian literature? Was she the diamond in the dirt that ain’t been found, the underground queen that ain’t been crowned?

Fortunately, blogger (and one of my regular commentators) Lazy Glossophiliac looked into this question in some detail, doing the work that lazier journalists wouldn’t. The book he looked at was The Chernobyl Prayer: Chronicles of the Future (published in 2006), which is available online in Russian here: http://www.lib.ru/NEWPROZA/ALEKSIEWICH/chernobyl.txt

Even for a non-literary kind of person – Lazy Glossophiliac is a technical person – it quickly becomes obvious her work is second rate.

She has a blithe indifference to facts. Numerous bold claims are made that are either unsubstantiated or flat out statistically false. Some are pretty minor (she says Belarus is a majority rural county; in reality, it stopped being so in the mid-1970s). Others are cardinal, such as her remarkable claim that radiation from Chernobyl was the most important reason for Belarus’ demographic decline. In reality, it was not the first or even tenth most important reason. In Belarus as in Russia and the wider USSR, mortality remained relatively low thoughout the late 1980s – recall that Chernobyl blew up in 1986 – due to Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign. In Belarus as in Russia and the wider USSR, it soared after 1991 – that is, 1991 – 1986 = 5 years after Chernobyl – as the economy collapsed and the state lost its former monopoly over vodka production.

Such sins might be forgiven for a truly “literary” writer, but she was an expressly nonfiction writer. The first such, for that matter, to be awarded a Nobel Prize since Winston Churchill in 1953, who got his Nobel Prize in Literature for, amongst other things, his “mastery of historical and biographical description.” I haven’t read Churchill but I would imagine he got his basic historical facts right.

Perhaps she made up for it with beautiful, sublime prose?

Here is Lazy Glossophiliac on that.

At the start of the next section Alexievich tells us that the Chernobyl accident was “the main event of the 20th century, in spite of all the terrible wars and revolutions for which that century will be remembered”. I’m chalking that up to chick logic. A certain quantity of pseudo-profound nonsense follows. I’m finally up against this year’s Nobel prize winner’s own voice. It’s boring and pompous: “Chernobyl is a secret which we will still have to uncover. An unread sign. Perhaps a mystery for the twenty-first century. A challenge to it.” Of course she’s not talking about anything technical here – it’s all hot air.

“The facts were simply not enough anymore, one was drawn to look beyond the facts, to get into the meaning of what was happening.” Oh really? The carelessness she showed with the “facts” which she quoted at the start of this book suggests that she’s simply bored by them instead.

She says that Chernobyl left everyone confused because throughout the ages the measure of horror was war. “We are in a new history, a history of catastrophes has begun.” She is utterly devoid of any sense of historical perspective. Floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, epidemics – never happened. She goes on and on about the revolutionary newness of radiation’s invisibility, but viruses have always been invisible too, and much more deadly.

svetlana-alexievich-hyperbole

No Brodsky, Pasternak, or Solzhenitsyn is she. They might have been anti-Soviet, and justifiably so, but all of them produced real literary masterpieces (well, just One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, in Solzhenitsyn’s case, but even that is still one more than I am aware of Alexievich ever writing).

Also… HOW MANY ELLIPSES DOES SHE USE?… a Ctrl-F reveals 4,196 of them… out of 78,000 words… I can’t even!… that is like… MORE THAN ONCE EVERY TWENTY WORDS!

As I said, I do not pretend to be any sort of expert on the sense of style. In fact, I am downright awful at it. (Just look at that weasel phrase at the beginning of the last sentence. And putting this in brackets. And starting sentences with “and”).

Even so, should I ever find myself peppering my texts with an ellipse or two every other sentence, I will take it as a cue to wrap up my writing forays and spare the world any more of my inchoate ramblings.

But perhaps she got her Nobel Prize not on the basis of popularity or even style but on account of the, erm, human truths – telling truth to power – living not by lies – insert Soviet dissident slogan of your choice – that she revealed in her writing.

That is what Philip Gourevitch * ventures in his panegyric of her for Human Rights Watch:

But although her work is often hot with the passion and outrage of independent witness, it is wonderfully free of any polemical or activist agenda. She serves no ideology, only an ideal: to listen closely enough to the ordinary voices of her time to orchestrate them into extraordinary books.

This is a message that was echoed by the Nobel committee itself. Ostensibly, she was rewarded for “her polyphonic writing, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”

In literature, polyphony as defined by Mikhail Bakhtin refers to a style of prose in which the author refrains from making his characters sockpuppets for some idea or ideology. Instead, he makes them vie for power and influence in a world where the only truth is that there is no truth. Dostoevsky was the primary example for Bakhtin’s definition of polyphony. Who can say which Karamazov brother was right: Ivan or Alyosha? George R. R. Martin would be a good modern popular example, in which the principle heroes and heroines tend to represent distinct moral codes and values, none of which are obviously superior to that of any other except to the extent that they are blessed with varying amounts of luck, dragons, and shadowbabies.

You have to have very high social intelligence and psychological astuteness to be able to convincingly write this kind of prose.

But there is no indication whatsoever that this describes Alexievich.

To the contrary, there is a clear polemical agenda at the very start of the book that we decided to analyze. My translation of its second opening paragraph:

For little Belarus (population: 10 million), Chernobyl was a national catastrophe, even though the Belorussians themselves don’t have a single nuclear power station. This is still an agrarian country, with a mostly rural population. During the years of the Great Patriotic War,the German fascists destroyed 619 Belorussian villages together with their inhabitants. After Chernobyl, the country lost 485 villages and settlements… In the war, every fourth Belorussian died; today, every fifth Belorussian lives on contaminated land.

Relativizing the unique horrors of the Nazi occupation bymaking flimsy and hyperbolic comparisons to the Soviet record is a favored approach of the post-Soviet intelligentsia, but very few Russians (and Belorussians) buy into it because of its inherent selectiveness and dishonesty. And probably not so much because:

The powers that be behave themselves as if I don’t exist. I don’t get printed in the state publications, I am not allowed on the radio or TV, I am only published in the opposition media.

Published in the opposition media? No wonder she came back to live in Belarus in 2013, after a decade of sojourning about Europe where no media – that is, neither state nor opposition – seem to have cared about her writings.

Indeed, a perusal of her interviews and speeches (aggregated here and here), in particular their polemical and activist agenda, is actually the single biggest clue as to why she got her Nobel Prize. Far from creating any sort of literary polyphony, she comes off as a proficient recycler of 1970s-80s Soviet dissident stock of tropes about Russia that nobody there apart from a tiny self-styled intelligentsia in the capital cares the least about. In short, she is a marginally saner and much less entertaining version of the late Valeriya Novodvorskaya.

I recently returned from Moscow, having partaken of the May festivities there. For a whole week the air was filled with the rumbling of tanks and orchestras. I felt that I was not in Moscow, but in North Korea.

Hysterical Russophobia? Check.

One Italian restaurant owner advertised that Russians are not welcome at his establishment. This is a good metaphor. Today, the world once again begins to fear what is in that hole, that abyss, which combines in itself nuclear weapons, mad geopolitical ideas, and lack of respect for international law. I live with a sense of defeat.

One is tempted to wisecrack on whether she is describing the US here, but that will certainly not improve your chances of getting a Nobel.

We have to preserve this fragile peace established after the last war. We are talking about the Russian man, who in the past 200 years has spent 150 years of them at war. And never lived well. For him, human life is worthless, and his conception of greatness is not in the sense that people should live well, but that the state should be great and armed to the teeth with rockets. This gargantuan post-Soviet landscape, especially in Russia and Belarus, where the people were first lied to for 70 years, then looted for the next 20, has bred very aggressive people, who are very dangerous for the entire world.

I do so wonder why Russians and Belorussians aren’t rushing to buy her books! It must be the little Putin in all of them…

Of course Russian TV corrupts you. What the Russian media says today – they simply have to be prosecuted for it. For what they say about Europe, about Donbass, about Ukrainians… But this isn’t all. The problem is that people actually want to hear this. We can talk today about a collective Putin, because there is a Putin sitting in all Russians. The Red Empire has vanished, but its people have remained.

And, naturally, this people of vatniks and sovoks has to be dissolved, and another elected, as per Bertolt Brecht and the time-honored Russian liberal tradition of taking him so very literally.

The Nobel Prize is one of our world’s equivalents of dragons and shadowbabies.

As an ethnic Ukrainian with Belarussian citizenship writing in the Russian language, whose output mainly seems to consist of poorly disguised political polemics, she is an ideal tool to project Western soft power into the Russian world. Not just Russia itself, but also Ukraine and Belarus, the latter of which – quite coincidentally, surely – is having its Presidential elections a mere several days after the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Literature. From this perspective, she is in fact a very good candidate.

With a Nobel under her belt, a formerly second rate journalist and polemicist will be able to pontificate on her favorite themes with the authority of a secular prophetress.

There is nothing to be done about this, since neither Russia nor any other non-Western power has the soft power or cultural autonomy to offer a credible alternative to the Nobel Prize. It does however confirm that, much like the Peace Prize, the Literature Prize can be definitively ticked off as having anything to do with real human accomplishment in that sphere and instead be seen for what it is: As just another tool of Western political influence.

* EDIT 10/27/2015: As has just been brought to my attention, Keith Gessen is not the author of the quoted HRW piece, as was previously credited. That accolade belongs to Philip Gourevitch. Keith Gessen is her translator. I mistakenly got the impression he was the author because his byline appeared at the bottom of the page, but in my skim through of the piece, I failed to notice that Gessen’s byline merely referred to the translation at the end, whereas the editorial content that formed the bulk of the HRW page had been produced by Gourevitch. Sorry for the error.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Belarus, BigPost, Literature, Nobel Prize, RealWorld 
🔊 Listen RSS

Fresh from helping wreck American cities, George Soros now offers his very valuable thoughts on European immigration policy.

First, the EU has to accept at least a million asylum-seekers annually for the foreseeable future. And, to do that, it must share the burden fairly – a principle that a qualified majority finally established at last Wednesday’s summit.

Adequate financing is critical. The EU should provide €15,000 ($16,800) per asylum-seeker for each of the first two years to help cover housing, health care, and education costs – and to make accepting refugees more appealing to member states. It can raise these funds by issuing long-term bonds using its largely untapped AAA borrowing capacity, which will have the added benefit of providing a justified fiscal stimulus to the European economy.

This comes to around €1,250 per migrant, monthly.

That is higher than the average salary in 14 of the EU’s 28 member states (and that’s not accounting for the fact that at least some of the migrants are children).

In total, the program as stated would add up to nearly $20 billion annually. I wonder what part of his own wealth (which happens to be in the same ballpark), if any, Soros is offering as a contribution.

Even from the (progressive) effective altruism angle, $20 billion is almost equivalent to the annual revenues of Nigeria, Sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest and richest low income country. For that kind of money per immigrant, you could hire five to ten good doctors in the D.R. Congo.

Incidentally, Soros – a man who made his fortune in financial speculation – has a long record of making unsolicited suggestions on how European taxpayers should spend their hard-earned money…

Allocating 1 percent of the EU budget to the defense of Ukraine seems appropriate; this would allow the European Union to contribute as much as €14 billion annually to the IMF-led assistance program—a contribution that would be large enough to allow for the European Union to do “whatever it takes” to help Ukraine succeed.

… And that’s not even all:

With the EU’s “fiscal compact” and other rules limiting the scope of government assistance, innovative thinking is needed. The single most effective measure would be to offer free political risk insurance to those who invest in or do business with Ukraine. This would keep the economy running, despite the political turmoil, and it would signal to Ukrainians that the EU and the US – governments and private investors alike – are committed to them. Businesses would flock to a newly open and promising market if they were fully compensated for losses caused by political events beyond their control.

For his part Soros has merely said that he may invest $1 billion into Ukraine.

($100 million!? I don’t have $1o million. What do you need $1 million for anyway? Here’s $100,000. That should be enough to open another NGO in Kiev. Meanwhile, excuse me while I go and bet against the grivna).

If Soros is urging you to do something, it’s almost always a good idea to listen – and then proceed to do the precise opposite and kick his NGO stooges out of your country (like the mighty Orban did in 2014). Weathering the rage and fury of his Western neocon friends is a small price to pay in comparison.

 
🔊 Listen RSS

As Russian fighters begin their baptism of fire in Syria, it is worth pointing out there are at least three separate wars going on here. And they’re all quite distinct.

(1) The Actual War

Once again I urge people to familiarize themselves with a map of the Syrian conflict (e.g. here). All of Assad’s most critical fronts – the big region between Aleppo and Latakia, and the pockets around Homs and Damascus – are FSA/Al Nusra/Al Qaeda. So long as they threaten Syria’s three biggest cities, including its capital and the Alawite heartlands (where Russia’s airbases happen to be located), focusing on the Islamic State would be sheer military folly.

Striking ISIS intensively right now would be pointless because there are no ready SAA forces that could rush in to exploit it. The US coalition’s own record proves that. Which is not to say that Russia is avoiding striking the Islamic State on principle, as the more deranged neocons have been claiming. You will just not be hearing much of them, first because (as per above) Al Nusra/FSA are the main priorities right now, second because the Western MSM has clearly been given a directive to discredit the Russian intervention.

Here is a side-by-side map of areas of control in Syria, and of the location of the Russian air strikes. ISIS territories do get bombed, but the main targets are logically those that are closer to SAA positions.

russian-syria-air-strikes

As those of you who have been following my recent writings on the Arab militaries will know, one of the key problems that the SAA – as a conventional Muslim Arab army – continues to face even now is a relative lack of morale (compared to those who fight for God, like Al Nusra or IS, or those who fight for clan, like the Kurds, the Druze, and the Shi’ite militias). This means that although it is able to hold on quite effectively when defending its Shi’ite heartlands, it finds it much more difficult to make offensive gains, since its combat efficiency is lower due to those morale hits that typically accrue to any Arab conventional state army, and its superiority in military capital (tanks, fighters, etc) is considerably nullified by their incompetence in using them. Like it not, but the sad reality is that clannish, ~85 IQ peoples just do not make good soldiers for the purposes of modern combined arms warfare. Needless to say, it also doesn’t help that it is usually attacking well-fortified urban outposts (attackers generally need a 3-to-2 total combat power advantage to make gains in such conditions).

This is where the Russian Air Force can hopefully make a big difference. Even the fighters already in place will allow the Syrians to effectively double their number of sorties, and Russian fighter pilots are much more skilled and have more modern armaments than their Syrian counterparts. Effectively, this translates to a tripling or quadrupling of Syrian air power that can be concentrated in support of SAA ground operations. Air power can seriously degrade the combat power of enemy formations that do not have adequate AA counters to it (that describes both the FSA/Al Nusra and ISIS). Whereas a front might have once been in equilibrium, due to roughly matching combat power on either side, a sustained air campaign could begin to systemically swing the advantage over to the SAA and eventually enable the reconquista of Syrian territorities currently under renegade Islamist control.

Why are American air strikes hopeless? Because they are missing the ground element. Even in its most benign interpretation it is nothing but a big Whac-a-Mole game. It refused to countenance any sort of coordination with the SAA. If it had, then the ISIS takeover of Palmyra – which involved crossing 150km+ of open desert over a single major road over a period of a month – would have been impossible (and Khaled al-Asaad, the executed architect who became the object of many MSM crocodile tears, would still have his head attached to his shoulders). Even the Pentagon has admitted that its project to train “moderate” fighters to combat IS has been a colossal, expensive failure. It claims that its airstrikes killed 10,000 ISIS fighters but these are frankly dubious. Even if it did, considering that IS probably has close to 100,000 troops by now, it wouldn’t have made a major difference anyway.

(2) The Propaganda War

This pretty much says everything there is to say.

Homs Airstrike: White Helmets Caught Faking Syria Casualties

propaganda-2

No wonder everybody sane from Russia to Hungary to Egypt are kicking out American NGOs!

Mark Adomanis sardonically points out that whereas the US couldn’t find moderate rebels in 3 years, the Russians did so in 24 hours.

https://twitter.com/MarkAdomanis/status/649186242903568385

Senile Cold Warriors from McCain to cuckservative icon Tom Cotton rave and demand to knock Russian fighters out of the sky to protect their beloved Al Qaeda proteges. On the off chance this leads to WW3 and the world of Stalker/Fallout, Americans should know that they did this to protect literal cannibals, genocidal fanatics, and – horror of horrors – homophobes.

Note also that there were no loud proclamations from Obama and his stooge Hollande when Turkey hit only Kurdish targets under the pretense of fighting ISIS.

This is because the US is disinterested in combatting ISIS and cares only about overthrowing President Assad, no matter if doing so involves flagrant violations of international law (Syria never gave it permission to use its airspace) and effectively allying itself with the people who carried out 9/11.

Perhaps the only redeeming feature in all of this is that, to the elites’ horror and bewilderment, the general public and their representative The Donald have stopped lapping up their lies and propaganda, something that is easy to observe from the comments sections on sites from YouTube to CNN (incidentally, has anyone else noticed how all the MSM sites are beginning to close their comments sections? What’s up with that LOL).

(3) The Geopolitical War

Remember my account of Egor Prosvirnin’s recent legal travails? Well, his Sputnik i Pogrom site has produced the following propaganda poster:

soviet-regimes-end

“The finale of Soviet regimes is remarkably simiar: Afghanistan, 1979 – Syria, 2015.”

This poster encompasses two big criticisms of Russia’s new Syria adventure from the (nationalist) Right.

(There are is also the usual predictable whining in Russia from pro-Western liberals going on about how Russia is supporting a “bloody dictator” and hoping the freedom fighters knock Russian fighter jets from the sky but nobody cares about their opinions except the American NGOs who finance them).

(1) The idea that Syria will become an Afghanistan-like quagmire.

After all, the Soviet Union never *invaded* Afghanistan either (even if it was presented as such by the Cold Warriors). It came by request of the legitimate Afghan authorities. And it ended getting bogged down and losing the lives of 15,000 soldiers, in an ultimately futile attempt to preserve some semblance of civilization against mujahedeen financed and sponsored by the Saudis and their best friends the Americans. According to Islamist propaganda, which neocons admire greatly (at least so long as it is aimed against Russia), this provoked the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The key difference: So far Russia is only sending fighter aircraft, and military advisors who will not be actively taking part in the fighting. So long as things stay that way, the Syria intervention will not constitute a major financial commitment, or a major commitment in terms of morale and approval ratings. The worst that can happen is that a fighter pilot is captured and gruesomely executed by Al Nusra or ISIS.

That, however, runs the risk of provoking a larger-scale Russian ground intervention, especially if the SAA fails to make the hoped for advances with the help of the Russian Air Force. They could get gradually sucked in like the Americans did in Vietnam. At least this is how this argument goes in Russian liberal and some nationalist circles. But I assume the Russians are familiar with that particular history and will not fall into a similar trap, no matter how much the neocons might be wishing otherwise.

(2) The idea that it involves abandoning the Novorossiya project.

There is, in fact, a recent Guardian article to that effect, which happens to quote Prosvirnin himself:

In Moscow, too, there are rumblings that the “Novorossia project” to carve out a pro-Russian statelet in east Ukraine has been well and truly closed down. Egor Prosvirnin, editor of the nationalist blog Sputnik and Pogrom, has been called in for questioning in recent weeks over suspicions that his website may contain “extremist material”.

The article in question, while advocating for Russia to take full control of eastern Ukraine, does not contain anything that could not have been heard regularly on Russian state television over the past year and a half, and Prosvirnin believes Russian authorities are now trying to stuff the genie back into the bottle.

“The conflict is being frozen and we are too strongly in support of the Novorossia project, we’re too independent. This is a warning to us to stop what we’re doing,” he said.

As a result, there is currently a great deal of hatred for Assad and Syria in Sputnik i Pogrom circles. (The hatred for Putin has always been there).

At this point, it’s worth quoting the main parts of SiP’s “conspiracy theory” as I recounted it (otherwise known in Russian discussions as “Putinsliv” theory, lit. Putin flushing [Novorossiya] away):

But then again… back in July of this year, Prosvirnin on his Facebook page – I can’t locate it now, but it was certainly there – predicted that Novorossiya would soon be betrayed (nothing new) and replaced with a propaganda campaign in favor of Russian involvement in Syria, including boots on the ground (very new!).

He even argued that this would be a way of mending US-Russian relations, which certainly cuts against the conventional wisdom – both in the mainstream and the altsphere – that the West and Russia are fundamentally at odds in Syria and that the US is committed to seeing Assad go.

In effect, Russia would doing the “dirty” work of wrapping up the Syrian Civil War with the quiet acquiescence and approval of the West and the Gulf Arab states while they get to wash their hands of it, condemn Russia, take meaningless symbolic actions against it (e.g. requesting that Greece close its airspace to Russian military cargo only for Greece to promptly refuse it), and otherwise quietly shake Putin’s hand and congratulate him with the restoration of order in the Levant and, in the Europeans’ case, for helping end the refugee crisis.

And for all my, and the Saker’s, prior skepticism… some of this does seem to be happening.

Russians tanks and gunships are appearing in the Alawite heartlands. Bases are getting expanded. According to the latest reports from gazeta.ru (an anti-Kremlin publication), Russian military contractors are being sent to Syria to fight for Assad against their will.

It looks increasingly that Prosvirnin must have either guessed very, very well… or that he had very, very senior informants in the Kremlin.

If this version of affairs is in any way accurate, then it appears that Putin is setting himself up for a fail of epic, 1989-like proportions.

My operating assumption is that the US does not tend to honor those of its commitments that are not both written and binding (just ask Gorbachev about NATO expansion). Imagine that Russia “sorts out” Syria, assuming onto itself the opprobrium of keeping “bloody Assad” in power and doubtless taking some military casualties in the process to boot. Assume it also betrays Novorossiya, as Prosvirnin has been insisting it would for over a year now. Assume it does all this on some promise from the US to drop sanctions, accept Crimea, and help reintegrate Russia into the international (read: Western) community.

But why would it?

Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on… shame on you, as that old Texan saying somewhere in Tennessee goes. If Putin falls for a trap this obvious, he will have nobody to blame himself. And with an approval rating now presumably in tatters, he will find both nationalists and liberals coming at him with knives unsheathed (unless, perhaps, he takes care of them beforehand).

And indeed the points in support of this theory have arguably grown since then. Now we know for sure that Russia’s intervention in Syria is 100% real. We have evidence of a real de-escalation in the Donbass, perhaps even in preparation for “stuffing back” the LDNR into Ukraine (though I should remind panicky readers that the DNR is preparing to go forwards with local elections on October 18th and the LNR on November 1st, which is is evidence against Putinsliv because these elections do not abide by the conditions of Minsk 2). And, away from neocon and Cold Warrior hysterics, it seems that the CENTCOM and the Russian military, and Obama and Putin at the higher level, are initiating a real dialog on avoiding costly “misunderstandings” in Syrian airspace.

All of this must be very distressing for those Russians who consider Novorossiya to be orders of magnitude greater importance than what is going on in Syria. That is perfectly understandable.

But as I also wrote in my Ask.fm answer to a question on the future of Novorossiya:

The military power of the NAF continues increasing. It now has 40,000 well-equipped troops and (reportedly) 450 MBTs. A year ago, it had no more than 20,000 troops, with just a few dozen MBTs. More importantly, it is a *real* army now, with centralized C&C, whereas a year ago it consisted primarily of independent militias. These can be adequate in defense, but you cannot carry out coherent, large-scale offensive operations with that kind of structure. Prosvirnin and Co. say the purging of the most recalcitrant militia leaders is “proof” that a zrada is nigh. But it could just as plausibly be interpreted as rational, consecutive steps to increase the NAF’s military power. I do not think these changes could have been possible without Russia’s support. Ultimately, why would Russia bother with upgrading the NAF if it planned to give it all back to the junta anyway?

In the meantime, with any luck, the Ukrainian economy will continue to degrade, and Poroshenko finds himself trapped between a rock (the Minsk Accords) and a hard place (the Maidan absolutists and the hardliners of the Far Right), and we will see a collapse into complete chaos, which may finally convince the Western powers to give up on Ukraine and create many other opportunities. But it’s also quite possible that the system will manage to pull through. That is the risk Putin took when he decided against military intervention last April.

Ultimately, the military power of the Novorossiya Armed Forces (to say nothing of the Russian Southern Military District) is still incomparably bigger than Russia’s current, ultimately modest investment in Syria.

The transfer of a couple dozen modern ground attack fighters to Latakia does not represent any real diminution of Russia’s military capabilities relative to the Ukrainian junta.

It will however provide valuable “real life” training opportunities for the Russian Air Force, much like Spain in the 1930s or Korea in the early 1950s.

And another potential advantage (though one I expect absolutely no-one will exploit) is that observing the fighting in Syria will serve to better demonstrate what real Russian combined arms warfare actually looks like in practice. So that the next time some two-bit neocon propaganda stooge like Paul Goble or Roderick Gregory claims a bazillion Pskov paratrooper casualties in the Donbass they would be laughed off the stage instead of getting endlessly and respectfully requoted in MSM outlets. But in fairness I don’t expect any of this to happen, since Poroshenko is in the West’s pocket and the “independence” of the Western media is mostly a fiction, while Russian soft power doesn’t have the requisite reach and sophistication.

So as before I still say that the Putinsliv theory remains unproven, and as such, there is no reasonable cause for dismay just yet. It’s not a very satisfying answer, to be sure, but if I was in the business of giving simple, satisfying, and self-confident answers, my readership would be a lot higher than it actually is.

 
🔊 Listen RSS

alligators Egypt rubs in the salt in Hollande’s wounds by ordering 50 Alligator helicopters from Russia to outfit the Mistrals, which France is now going to sell to Egypt.

So to sum up this whole sorry affair:

(1) Russia originally ordered French Mistrals under Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. His foreign aquisitions were ostensibly aimed to pressure Russian producers to lower costs, but more cynical observers suspected it may have had more to do with foreign arms manufacturers providing kickbacks to him and his female posse which had effectively seized the Defense Ministry under the Medvedev Presidency.

(2) Rumors which gained credence when he was dismissed for corruption on a scale that raised eyebrows even in a country as corrupt as Russia.

(3) After about a year of delays following those little triffling incidents in Crimea and the Donbass, France made a definitive decision, under US pressure, to avoid selling the Mistrals to Russia, making it liable for about $1 billion worth of fines. (To his credit, Hollande’s government accepted the legitimacy of these penalties, so as to avoid completely discrediting France’s commercial reputation in the international arms market). As an added bonus, Russia got most of the technical blueprints on the Mistral anyway (saving $$$ in R&D costs).

(4) Now Russia, or at least Kamov, is receiving a further $1 billion in orders.

Ironically enough, what began as a very expensive and questionable way of pressuring Russian arms manufacturers at best, and yet another of Serdyukov’s corruption schemes at worst, actually ended up working out quite nicely for Russia. France got cucked by hamburger, Russia got out ahead.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Egypt, France, Mistral, RealWorld 
🔊 Listen RSS

syrian-civil-war-09.19.2015

Source: Wikipedia. Click to enlarge.

I admit to not having been following the Syrian Civil War anywhere near as closely the war in the Donbass.

But with recent rumors of stepped up Russian involvement now being confirmed by videos – and even talk of China possibly sending troops (crazy, but a year ago you’d have said the same of Russians) – it is well past time to remedy this.

The first thing I like to do when it comes to getting up to speed on some conflict or other is studying maps. Just looking at them for an hour or two. Wikipedia has a very impressive data gathering operation that gets updated in real time. In combination with this article listing the military histories for all the major cities and towns you can get a very good idea of the ebb and flow of the conflict through time. Arguably, this is far more useful than reading any number of editorials on the subject.

Some patterns immediately jump out.

syria-ethnic-map

Source: Washington Post.

(1) The pattern of regime, FSA/Al-Nusra and ISIS control correlate exceedingly well with the ethnic and religious composition of the geographic areas in question. The coastal Alawite heartlands of Tartus and Latakia, corresponding to the old borders of the eponymous state, are near totally secure. Shi’ite and Christian minorities, such as the Druze, Assyrians, and Armenians, correlate with pockets of regime support – even the Armenian pocket around Deir es-Zor in the desert each of the country, still holding out despite being completely surrounded by the Islamic State. In contrast, Palmyra fell to ISIS this year despite being more than 150km from the nearest area of ISIS control at Kabajeb. Suweida, populated by Dzuze and other minorities, is under Assad’s control in the far south, while neighboring Daraa – entirely Arab Sunni – is held by the FSA.

All this just goes to show the extent to which this is an ethnic, tribalistic war, where the “normal” rules of military theory – where force concentrations are king, and surrounded pockets get liquidated fast – don’t apply as they do even in the Donbass War. I suspect and nothing I’ve read about Syria contradicts this that this is ultimately due to the very low combat effectiveness of Arab armies. Unlike Europeans or East Asians, who have a long tradition of nation-statehood and conscript armies, the Arabs as a people only fight well for clan and God. A dictator like Saddam Hussein or Assad can force them to fight, but not very well or enthusiastically, while a democracy can barely do anything at all – see how ISIS once steamrolled their way to the outskirts of Baghdad, even though the Iraqi forces are armed with modern US equipment that the Syrian Arab Army can only dream about). This has the effect of depressing the value of conventional military power, with the result that warfare becomes a lot like urban gang warfare, just with much fancier military toys and more rape and ethnic cleansing. In this kind of “4GW” confrontrations, the fact that rebel groups and ISIS are much more enthusiastic, more combat effective (due to fighting for clan and/or God instead of a country whose lines were drawn by the French and British), and have the option of blending in with the civilian population in areas where they enjoy support allows them to level out the military capital (tanks, artillery, etc.) superiority of the SAA. Even the SAA has over the past few years bowed to these realities and become much more of a homogenous (primarily Alawite) force and come to rely less on unmotivated conscripts and more on the locally-rooted National Defense Forces.

syria-poll-2015-assad-support

ORB International poll, Syria, July 2015.

(2) The pattern of control also tallies very well with support for Assad in opinion polls (to a large extent this will of course be an ethnic/religious confound). No area in which Assad has more than 60% support is there a very serious rebel threat. In areas where he has less than 40% support, there is either very intensive fighting or the area is entirely ruled by an opposing faction. Aleppo, the “Stalingrad” of the conflict, registers 39% support for Assad; Idleb, in between Aleppo and Alawite Latakia – and the scene of major rebel successes this year, with just a small regime garrison continuing to hold out in the Shi’ite villages around Fu’ah – registers just 9% support for Assad. Nowin fairness, opinion polls have to be treated with some caution in Syria, because none of the warring factions is exactly very nice to visible dissenters. Still, the fact that Assad registers 27% support in ISIS ruled territories, while the FSA registers 15% in areas held by the government – as opposed to near 0% in both cases – does imply that the fear of speaking one’s mind at least privately is far from total throughout Syria.

(3) More generally, many Western media propaganda/neocon talking points immediately become hollow through this simply map-viewing exercise.

For instance, the idea that Assad isn’t interested in fighting ISIS, or even that he is in some sort of alliance with them. Where the areas under Assad’s control and ISIS border each other, there is intense fighting, e.g. an entire frontline on the approach to Al Salamiyah behind which lie Homs and Hama, and the struggle to relieve the surrounded Kweiris airbase. But by far the biggest challenges the legitimate Syrian government faces right now lies in the areas of Idlib and Aleppo, which apart from being large territories under JaN and FSA control also splinter SAA forces and constitute a conduit for Turkish arms supplies to other rebel formations throughout the country. Focusing attention on this area is just military common sense – and its not like there is any cardinal moral difference between Al Nusra and ISIS anyway (Al Nusra just doesn’t act axe-crazy for the cameras).

Another common talking point that has been raised especially since Russia stepped up its involvement is the claim that Assad’s forces have killed far more Syrians than ISIS. The aim is quite transparent: Since ISIS has so ably demonized itself, associating Assad with them by way of quantitative comparison should be pretty easy to do. And I think it mostly works. I see a lot of people in comments sections raising this point in in that really smarmy, pretentious way that the more intelligent American imperialists adopt to come off as “smart” and “balanced.” Entirely absent of course is context:

  • That the SAA is fighting long, grinding campaigns primarily in the heavily built up, urbanized areas of the North-West, while ISIS specialized more in blitzes, typically moving in when its adversaries become mutually exhausted. The latter type of warfare will inevitably produce fewer civilian casualties, regardless of the mass executions and slave markets that ISIS sets up afterwards. But its certainly not account of any greater moral superiority or legitimacy; quite the contrary, in fact.
  • That there is no chance of the SAA getting “smart weapons.” Meanwhile, its relative preponderance in military capital – artillery, tanks, helicopter gunships, etc. – is the one thing it has going for it. Since the average SAA soldier is far less motivated and combat effective than his Al Nusra or ISIS counterpart (see above) and since they cannot blend into the civilian population as the various rebels can, of course the SAA has no choice but to make use of its superior firepower so as to least keep up with if not overwhelm the enemy. Not doing so would not only be criminal towards its own soldiers, many more of whom would otherwise die. The question would also quickly become entirely moot since if the SAA was to go soft it would also be quickly defeated, with tragic consequences for the Shi’ite and Christian minorities it is still heroically protecting.
  • The not completely irrelevant point that ISIS openly and proudly commits all sort of atrocities harkening in spirit all the way back to the methods of the Assyrian Empire. In contrast, the great bulk of SAA “casualties” are collateral damage from military actions, and even when it comes to the dirty but necessary task of rooting out Islamist sympathizers – who would otherwise tell SAA coordinates to ISIS or Al Nusra, or suicide bomb themselves to ease their advance – it is something that the Syrian regime does in shadowy basements, where any such actions properly belong. For those who still want to play the numbers game, in what way in particular is this different from, say, US methods in Vietnam? (With the exception that it was a voluntary intervention, whereas Assad is merely defending his own country0.

Now in fairness I do know that the neocons have a narrative to keep up and so do their shills in the media, like Michael Weiss who is constantly agitating for aggressive actions to overthrow both Putin and Assad and enjoys huge influence in the media despite having zero knowledge of either Russian or Arabic. Same goes for their dupes and bots on the comments sections. But anyone else seriously arguing that Assad is on a level with ISIS has all of this to address first.

syrian-desert-palmyra

Source: Google Maps.

(4) A single, 153km road separates Palmyra from Kabajeb, the nearest ISIS-controlled area to Palmyra prior to the month-long offensive in July 2015 that led to its capture and other tragic consequences. This area looks like it could be used to film a Mad Max sequel. It should also be exceedingly easy for anyone with a competent airforce with air superiority to make mincemeat of any attack along this route. To the contrary, the kind of out-in-the-open, logistically challenging, and lengthy ISIS operation that should have been one of the easiest to forestall went on right ahead, successfully.

So why didn’t the US with its vaunted air campaign against ISIS do anything?

Because ultimately it is entirely fine with ISIS making advances when it is at the expense of the regime. This is not too surprising, since ISIS is after America’s baby and destabilizing Assad is its entire raison d’etre – as declassified Pentagon documents, Wikileaks, and the intuitions of Syrians themselves have proved over the past few months.

Plus, ISIS is better than Assad anyway. Look at all the hundreds of articles making this point they can’t all be wrong.

The US has an air campaign that is supposedly fast “degrading” ISIS, but there is no evidence of it making any kind of dent in its military capabilities. From its unconditional demands to have Assad step down to its attempts to pressure its NATO allies to block airspace to Russian planes carrying military aid to Syria (Bulgaria obliged, Greece didn’t) the US cannot be considered a sincere partner in wishing peace upon Syria. And that will remain the case so long as the US continues to be ruled by the neocon agenda, even if the actual neocons are now mostly out of power.

 
🔊 Listen RSS

One of the more frustrating misconceptions Westerners have about Russia – including even many of the more well meaning ones – is that Putin is some kind of nationalist.

He is not. Nor was he ever.

It appeared he might be sort of leaning in that direction in the heady days after Crimea’s return into Russia. For the first time, he even started using the term russkie – ethnic Russians, as opposed to the multiethnic, and about as fictional as “Soviet,” nationality called rossiyane – in some of his speeches. But since then he moved back into old forms and familiar habits, and the wholesale “regathering of the Russian lands” that many (but far from all – it’s complicated) Russian nationalists were salivating after in mid-2014 wasn’t to happen.

This is not, of course, to say that Putin is a bad leader, or anti-Russian, like the real Russian nationalists have always claimed. It is not exactly a secret that yours truly believes he is objectively better for the Russian nation and its ethnic minorities than any plausible liberal or Communist opposition alternative. But apart from being a patriot, Putin is also an ethnic blank slatist. No nationalist of whatever stripe would have allowed large-scale Central Asian immigration into the Slavic Russian heartlands, which even many of my decidedly anti-nationalist and cosmopolitan acquaintances in Russia have complained about.

And most nationalists would have supported Novorossiya to the hilt, Western sanctions and ostracism be damned. Ironically Putin might get damned either way. It doesn’t much matter if you steal $10,000 (Crimea) or $10 billion (Novorossiya and Malorossiya) from a bank. Either way, the (world) police is going after you. I personally don’t fully buy this argument 100%, but it should be stressed that this has been one of the main domestic criticisms of Putin’s Ukraine policy from the Right (which in Russia includes the Hard Left, i.e. the Communists). And these criticisms are arguably far more potent and potentially dangerous for Putin than criticisms from pro-Western liberals for going against the West.

10155125_722041587847886_5018408765055168752_n

Egor Prosvirnin, the chief editor of Sputnik i Pogrom, the closest thing Russia has to a US-style Alt Right.

It is in this context that we the see the police search of Egor Prosvirnin’s apartment, and the confiscation of his computer and other electronics.

Egor Prosvirnin is the chief editor of Sputnik i Pogrom (SiP), a Russian nationalist glossy magazine. Unlike most of the Neo-Nazis and liberal nationalists, they are ardent supporters of Novorossiya, and tend to idolize Tsarism and the White movement. Prosvirnin has met with Igor Strelkov on several occasions and SiP has been responsible for raising several millions of dollars in humanitarian aid and in organizing “vacations” to the lush resorts of the Donbass. In this sense, their Novorossiya policy is in line with that of the Communists and the Eurasianist imperialists, and (to a far more limited extent) to that of the Russian state proper.

It is also the closest thing Russia has to a US-style Alt Right, though as with all European nationalist movements, it does not have the Americans’ preoccupation with race, and is far less literate on IQ matters. Its writers tend to be young, socially liberal, supportive of free speech, and unusually familiar with Europe and the US. It has been called “Russian nationalism for hipsters” by several commentators. One anecdote to illustrate this: Dugin, their “Eurasian” antithesis, appears to believe “transhumanism” is some particularly deviant variant of transgenderism. The SiPers, in stark contrast, are familiar with Ray Kurzweil and write articles about Russia’s potential role in the technological singularity.

Sometimes this familiarity with the West leads them down some very questionable avenues in which they overestimate Western wisdom and intellectual vitality. I got the (possibly mistaken) impression that Prosvirnin believes that the European immigration crisis is a devious plot by Germany to enhance its power in Europe, as opposed to Merkel being her usual dithering and feckless self. He is a militant atheist who wouldn’t be out of place at /r/atheism. He regularly cites Stratfor, and more or less reprints its geopolitical analysis. Now Stratfor might be very good at marketing itself as a “shadow CIA” but it is far less competent at actual geopolitics, or even password security for that matter. And the SiP guys are positively obsessed with the concept of “Putinsliv,” that is, the idea that Putin is going to “flush” Novorossiya anytime now. In this obsession, they are a somewhat ironic mirror image of Ukrainian “svidomy” who harp on about peremogi – victories, and zrada – betrayals, and the endless ways in which they morph and coalesce between each other.

But such minor quibbles aside, SiP is an excellent resource that regularly produces quality articles on Russian history and culture as well as on more loaded political topics, and (for Russian speakers) it is well worth its $50 annual subscription price. Its name regardless, it is not particularly anti-Semitic. It just don’t care about Jews very much (which admittedly is equivalent to anti-Semitism in many Western and Russian liberal circles).

Nor, until recently, did SiP appear to have particularly big problems with the Russian state.

What happened?

Russia does not have the First Amendment. It does have Article 282 of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes hate speech, like in most European countries. But it is a tool that has been wielded selectively, mostly against politicians of the Neo-Nazi persuasion. Incidentally, the Neo-Nazis as well as the “liberal nationalists” (mostly Krylov and the more famous Navalny) have for the most part been the Russian nationalists most against Novorossiya, seeing it as a sovok creature and praising the Ukrainian junta as the new citadel of the White Nationalist global revolution. (Asking them what they thought of this White nationalist paradise having a Jewish oligarch as Fuehrer and an Armenian sci-fi nerd as Goering was a reliable and entertaining way to trigger them).

Anyway, Article 282… a tool that has been wielded selectively… until now. In that its application against a public figure with no obvious Neo-Nazi connections and a history of support for Novorossiya is unprecedented.

Now to be fair, Prosvirnin has always been staunchly – even rabidly – anti Putin. But this never got him into legal trouble before, so that is unlikely to have been a key motivator now.

The pessimistic explanation – and one advanced by Prosvirnin himself – is that Putin is indeed plotting some great “zrada” (betrayal) against Novorossiya. Naturally, this would excite massive opposition amongst most Russian nationalists, so in this interpretation the confiscation of Prosvirnin’s computer equipment – especially were it to lead to further arrests and prosecutions of Novorossiya supporters – could be the Russian state nipping potential opposition in the bud.

Here is the opinion of one SiP writer, Kirill Kaminets:

Now it should be noted at the outset that SiP doesn’t have a great predictive record. It is been predicting Putinsliv for more than a year now, but during this same period the DNR and LNR have consolidated themselves as functioning states, and the Novorossiya Armed Forces are far more powerful today than they were even in early 2015 during the Battle of Debaltsevo. It would be strange of Putin to have enabled all this, only to “flush” it all down later on. In any case, the Minsk Agreements are failing on all fronts – most of all thanks to helpful Ukrainian nationalists who are the main obstacle to Poroshenko implementing his side of the deal. With Minsk II in its death throes, it would be exceedingly difficult for Putin to commit his “zrada” in any plausibly face-saving way.

And yet… and yet…

If that is indeed the plan, to decisively close up the Novorossiya project, try to make amends with the junta, and hope they and the Western “partners” forget and forgive Crimea, this is pretty much what I’d be doing in Putin’s place: Harassing and seizing the computers of Novorossiya supporters, using that to build criminal cases against them, discrediting them in the media, and sending them off to prison. So this might conceivably be Step 1 of such an operation. Or it might not be. It probably isn’t.

But then again… back in July of this year, Prosvirnin on his Facebook page – I can’t locate it now, but it was certainly there – predicted that Novorossiya would soon be betrayed (nothing new) and replaced with a propaganda campaign in favor of Russian involvement in Syria, including boots on the ground (very new!).

He even argued that this would be a way of mending US-Russian relations, which certainly cuts against the conventional wisdom – both in the mainstream and the altsphere – that the West and Russia are fundamentally at odds in Syria and that the US is committed to seeing Assad go.

In effect, Russia would doing the “dirty” work of wrapping up the Syrian Civil War with the quiet acquiescence and approval of the West and the Gulf Arab states while they get to wash their hands of it, condemn Russia, take meaningless symbolic actions against it (e.g. requesting that Greece close its airspace to Russian military cargo only for Greece to promptly refuse it), and otherwise quietly shake Putin’s hand and congratulate him with the restoration of order in the Levant and, in the Europeans’ case, for helping end the refugee crisis.

And for all my, and the Saker’s, prior skepticism… some of this does seem to be happening.

Russians tanks and gunships are appearing in the Alawite heartlands. Bases are getting expanded. According to the latest reports from gazeta.ru (an anti-Kremlin publication), Russian military contractors are being sent to Syria to fight for Assad against their will.

It looks increasingly that Prosvirnin must have either guessed very, very well… or that he had very, very senior informants in the Kremlin.

If this version of affairs is in any way accurate, then it appears that Putin is setting himself up for a fail of epic, 1989-like proportions.

My operating assumption is that the US does not tend to honor those of its commitments that are not both written and binding (just ask Gorbachev about NATO expansion). Imagine that Russia “sorts out” Syria, assuming onto itself the opprobrium of keeping “bloody Assad” in power and doubtless taking some military casualties in the process to boot. Assume it also betrays Novorossiya, as Prosvirnin has been insisting it would for over a year now. Assume it does all this on some promise from the US to drop sanctions, accept Crimea, and help reintegrate Russia into the international (read: Western) community.

But why would it?

Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on… shame on you, as that old Texan saying somewhere in Tennessee goes. If Putin falls for a trap this obvious, he will have nobody to blame himself. And with an approval rating now presumably in tatters, he will find both nationalists and liberals coming at him with knives unsheathed (unless, perhaps, he takes care of them beforehand).

But it is also this very obviousness that is also the best argument against it. Say what you will of him, but one thing Putin definitely is not, is stupid.

The alternative explanation, and one in line with the theory of the “mnogokhodovka” – the idea or faith amongst pro-Kremlin commentators that Putin has a very devious, multi-step plan for final victory in Ukraine – is that Putin does plan to walk into this trap but to then spring it on the US itself. If so, it would be fascinating to see this play out.

The third, and in my opinion likeliest scenario, is that both Prosvirnin and I are overanalyzing things, that the case against Egor is just what it says on the tin (alleged hate speech in one of SiP’s articles), and that nothing particularly radical is happening in either Syria or Ukraine.

Though in fairness to Prosvirnin, he at least has the benefit of his conspiracy theories being given weight by the heavy, arbitrary hand of the Russian justice system.

 
🔊 Listen RSS

Here is the CPJ:

New York, September 16, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists deplores a decree signed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko today which, according to a copy viewed by CPJ, bans at least 41 international journalists and bloggers from Ukraine for one year. The journalists and bloggers were among 388 people named as representing an “actual or potential threat to national interests, national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” according to news reports… The 34 journalists and seven bloggers named in the ban come from Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The decree, which was published on the presidential website, does not explain what press coverage Ukrainian authorities deem as a threat to national security. Three BBC journalists including Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg were banned.

Irish journalist Bryan MacDonald has the most comprehensive writeup at RT.

In total, around 400 new persons and 100 Russian enterprises – though not including Poroshenko’s Roshen chocolate factory in Lipetsk – have been sanctioned and barred from entering the country.

Apart from various Russian politicians and celebrities like Kobzon, the list also includes tons of Western journalists, European politicians, and an American businessman.

steven-rosenberg-evil-kremlin-agent-who-wants-to-destroy-ukraine

The standard reason apparently given to all or most of them (can’t be bothered reading the whole thing) is “creating an actual and/or potential threat to national interests, national security, and the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” “promotion of terrorist activities and/or violation of the rights and freedoms of people and citizens, the interests of the state,” the “destruction of jobs” (so now we know who’s responsible for Ukraine’s descent into Gabon: Russian journalists like the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg!), and various other grave sins.

Now in my opinion all states have the right to exercise control over their sovereign banners. Russia itself has started denying visas to particularly hostile journalists. The US has a habit of denying visas to “unfriendly” journalists, especially uppity leftist Latin American and Palestinian ones, though for some reason that gets much less attention than Russian bans in the Western media. Australian feminists don’t want controversial foreign citizens teaching game to their less seductively successful menfolk. More power to them! And, likewise, Ukraine as a state – even if not a particularly civilized one that serves any useful purpose – has the right to ban whosoever it so wants.

It’s not like there aren’t multitudes of real human rights violations happening in Ukraine, anyway. There are literally thousands of political prisoners, including journalists like Ruslan Kotsaba whose only crime was to verbally oppose conscription. And those are the lucky ones: Some, like Oles Buzina, have been murdered outright by Neo-Nazi death squads who enjoy implicit backing from the regime. None of this has really drawn any attention let alone condemnation from prominent Western journalists and politicians, so one can hardly expect them to protest mere visa bans directed against the Russian aggressors.

Expect that these visa bans also happened to affect Western journalists, including three journalists at the BBC. While the BBC is relatively impartial, even going so far as to question the official narrative on the Euromaidan massacre, there is no questios that its general sympathies lie with the Maidan and that a significant percentage of their journalists are overtly hostile to Russia. They also banned two Spanish journalists. Unfortunately, they are unlikely to have visited Ukraine anyway, since they are currently missing in Syria and presumed captured by ISIS. Nonetheless, even from Islamic State captivity, they manage to continue to exercise a threat to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and employment statistics of Ukraine. Most impressive!

This is all far worse than just scummy conduct. When even your sympathizers are either criticizing you or plotting how to best spin the story so as to not to have the regime come off in too bad of a light – indeed, when just a few hours later you have to backtrack and let the BBC journalists (though apparently not anyone else) continue visiting Ukraine after all just – it’s a downright PR disaster.

Which really says something about the quality of Ukrainian decision-making, because in the current Cold War 2 atmosphere the propaganda war is entirely Kiev’s to lose.

There are two factors that help explain this. First, for all its fervent portrayal of itself as a European state, and its cargo cult like destruction of Soviet monuments and renaming of Communist themed streets (at the expense of local people – you’re welcome!), Ukraine remains a deeply and innately sovok state. Hence the stereotypically Soviet like methods that Ukraine uses to “affirm” its European identity. Would any country that knew itself to be a real European state, as opposed to Gabon-with-snow, use such cack-handed methods? Probably not. With people as with nation-states, it is those most loudly proclaiming themselves to be anti-sovoks who tend to be the most sovok of them all.

Second, it points to the dearth of human capital in Ukrainian state agencies. Now bureaucrats in Ukraine or for that matter Russia have never been worth writing home about, but in post-Maidan Ukraine we really appear to be approaching some kind of rock bottom. I suspect the SBU folks charged with compiling this list, after coming up with some obvious and “legitimate” candidates, could not be bothered with further research and just started assigning people at random based on them fulfilling some basic criterion, e.g. keyword searches indicating that they had once said something remotely uncharitable about Ukraine.

But I for one am not an uncharitable person, so I would like to do my small part to help them out: I propose they include me in any future sanctions, as well as the bloggers and journalists under the “Ukraine” tab on my blog’s sidebar. That’s eight people, or 2% of any future 400-person quota. You would at least save yourselves some embarassment, and nobody will really be materially affected by this – the only country on the Pontic steppe that I at any rate would conceivably visit while the junta remains in power is Novorossiya, and a Ukraine visa ban would be something I’d be otherwise happy to put on my CV.

Any svidomy-leaning readers – please feel free to forwards this to the SBU. No need for MVD head Anton Gerashchenko to bother identifying me by IP!

 
🔊 Listen RSS

Effective altruism (EA) is the fairly simple idea that in charitable giving as in financial investment, you should aim to put your money where it would do the most good – be it earning the highest returns, or helping the maximum number of people. It is a laudable enough goal, though the ideas behind it are hardly new or revolutionary – I recall Jeffrey Sachs touting the superiority of anti-malarial nets over other higher-profile forms of development aid on cost-effectiveness merits back in the mid-2000s, well before “effective altruism” was on anyone’s radar. And I agree with the approach in principle. How could anyone not? Because the core of EA is just helping people live better, richer, healthier lives in clever and cost-effective ways, e.g. anti-malarial nets over dams, $40 trichiasis operations over $40,000 guide-dogs for the blind, machine intelligence research to ensure our future robot overlords don’t kill us all, and – open borders.

Wait, what? Here is where we come to some “problematic” aspects of EA. On paper, it is all about being rationalist. In practice, it is composed of people. What kind of people? EA demographics overlap a lot with that of LessWrong, which has carried out detailed censuses of its members – only 2% of them describe themselves as conservatives, while another 2% describe themselves as neoreactionary (where else would you get that kind of breakdown?), while the other 95% are mostly liberals, libertarians, social democrats, and anarchists of various stripes. They are composed primarily of upper-middle class Americans more compelled to engage in passive aggressive status signalling than to reliably carry rationalism through to its logical conclusions, no matter how unpalatable they might be liberal sensibilities. A few are just outright sperglord level autists.

effective-altruism-immigration A good litmus test for this hypothesis would be to see their attitudes on the current immigration engulfing Europe. The LessWrong boards are almost dead, and as far as I can see all the most intensive discussions are occuring on Facebook. A Sailerite Ctrl-F on EA’s biggest Facebook group shows 33 results for “refugee” and 22 results for “migra” just this past September.

Even if we were not all evil racists who don’t want any filthy foreigners aroun… or, merely accept the validity of discounting the welfare of outside groups relative to that of our own countrymen, there would still be some very legitimate arguments against open borders fundamentalism even from a pure EA perspective.

Here are some of the obvious ones:

  • As anyone with eyes to see has noticed, and as even the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has admitted in a recent report, the overwhelming majority of the current migrant wave into European is composed of young adult males. Not women or children, who are typically the biggest war victims.
  • Of which only half are from Syria.
  • Will in general be people who can afford the ~$10,000 needed for the Mediteranean route in the first place, or the ~$5,000 route to Norway via Murmansk so it’s not clear how much in the way of cash and other material aid they really need in the first place.
  • So we are really talking about maximizing utility, so wouldn’t it be more logical to make this more targetted and efficient by importing a few million of the most destitute people in say the D.R. Congo as opposed to Syria or Iraq, which however wartorn they might be are still far more prosperous than most of Sub-Saharan Africa?
  • But where precisely do you stop? 640 million people want to emigrate around the world, most of them from the Third World to the First.
  • Will First World countries composed overwhelmingly of Third Worlders continue to remain First World? More importantly from an EA perspective, would they retain the ability to substantively help the teeming multitudes of the Third World, or even hold conferences on topics such as “effective altruism”? The answer to this question might seem obvious to Unz Review readers, but will likely only confuse and bewilder many self-styled rationalists and EA’ers, many of whom are cognitive and racial blank slatists (this includes their high prophet Eliezer Yudkowsky if his magnum opus HPMOR is anything to go by).

And some of the less so obvious ones:

ocean-front-suite

Ocean Front Suites for $2,500 in city center of Dar es Salaam.

  • One dollar of spending money goes about five times further in poor countries than it does in First World countries due to purchasing power differences. (And that’s without considering the “extras” in the form of extra policing, language courses, welfare spending, etc. that First World nations would have to provide in order to pay for all the new vibrant diversity). If conditions in Syria are so utterly unacceptable that young males have no choice but to emigrate, surely it would be more effectively altruistic to encourage them to settle elsewhere in the Third World – say, why not a relatively stable and Islamic but poor country, like Tanzania, Senegal, or Bangladesh? The $10,000 they pay the Italian or Greek mafias to smuggle them into Europe would probably be enough to buy a nice house there!
  • European EA’ers could even subsidize them with a few $1,000s for the first few years to help them settle in their new homelands and encourage them to stay put. A Syrian doctor or engineer would be a great boon to a typical $1,000-$2,000 GDP per capita African country, where there are very few such specialists in the first place. In a European country, there are no substantive shortages of high IQ specialists, and your Syrian doctor or engineer would be just as likely to end up as a taxi driver (or would it be Uber now?) as to make relevant use of whatever professional qualifications he might have. There are 4 physicians per 1,000 people in Germany, compared to 1.5 in Syria and just 0.4 in Bangladesh, 0.1 in Senegal, and 0.0 in Tanzania. Having a Syrian doctor be a taxi driver in Germany is a bad skills misallocation on the global level, one that easily incurs an opportunity cost in the $10,000s, and it should elicit howls of outrage from any truly rationalist EA’er.
  • Or how about at least channeling some of this money to the few million real refugees stuck in drab refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey? Those people at least won’t be throwing food away like the desperate starving illegals at Calais:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbTSdUdQeLY

  • When a Syrian migrates to Germany or Sweden, he effectively triples his carbon dioxide emissions. When he migrates to the US, he almost doubles it again. If we are talking about an Eritrean instead, the increase is more on the order of a hundredfold. Exploding populations in the First World means carbon dioxide emissions increasing much more rapidly than if it had taken place in a relatively poor country like Syria, let alone in the most destitute countries like Eritrea. More carbon dioxide emissions means more rapid global warming which in turns means even greater challenges to increasing prosperity in the countries of the Global South. AGW is a topic typically beloved of by progressives, but for some reason they don’t tend to mention it much in the context of immigration debates.
  • How about just stop funding Islamist crazies and support Assad, who according to opinion polls enjoys the most legitimacy of any political force in Syria? That would be not just the EA’iest but also literally the easiest low-effort, high-impact action of them all.
  • Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen, since the people opposing this are considerably more powerful than the Left’s anti-immigration racist bogeymen and most rationalists appear to have lapped up their propaganda as readily as most other Westerners.

Now some of the comments on immigration in the Effective Altruism Facebook discussion group are within the rationalist spirit of EA and are intelligent and relevant even if they fail to challenge the broader “open borders” dogma. (I see no reason to blank out names since this is a public group).

refugees-effective-altruism Others however are just your typical status signalling do-gooders and moralistic exhibitionists.

refugees-effective-altruism-2

Ines Ve sounds like a nice enough if naive person. Let’s hope she doesn’t get too disabused of her notions, like this fellow did:

And predictably you have the SJWs, down to the non-ironic use of “problematic” in casual conversation. I can’t even!

refugees-effective-altruism-3

Highly authoritarian and typically of only fairly modest intelligence, they are the death of any mildly interesting or intellectual movement that embraces them. I would not bet much on EA’s future.

 
🔊 Listen RSS

Would be an alternative and rather more relevant headline versus “One in five Syrians say Islamic State is a good thing, poll says,”, which is meant to shock the nativist ill-informed and divert the conversation from the US’ uncompromising and ruinous drive for regime change to the politically safer (for an American audience) topic of the European immigration crisis.

But hey, credit where credit’s due: At least WaPo reported this, which is more than you can say of the rest of the MSM.

 

syria-orb-poll-2015-isis

Here are the main highlights from this poll, which impressively managed to cover all 14 governates including those held by the Islamic State (PDF):

  • Only 21% of Syrians prefer life now compared to life under Assad’s full control several years ago.
  • 82% say ISIS was created by the US and allies.
  • Though 71% of respondents in territories under ISIS control say they support ISIS – surprising it’s not higher, given their… reputation – some 62% of them also agree that ISIS was created by the US and its allies.
  • Assad (47%) and Iran (43%) are more popular than the Arab Gulf countries (37%), al-Nusra (35%), the FSA (35%), “Syrian Opposition Candidate” (26%), and the Islamic State (21%). Reminder that this is in a majority Sunni country that is being “oppressed” by Shi’ite Alawites.

Overall, pretty depressing reading for those who bought into the US neocon/Likudnik regime change narrative on Syria on moral or political legitimacy reasons.

islamic-state-us-creation

Above are the detailed results of the ISIS/US connection question.

 
🔊 Listen RSS

danish-jihadist-chickBlonde Danish teenager, 15, murdered her mother with a kitchen knife after watching ISIS videos of the beheading of British hostages online.

Afterwards she and her radical Muslim boyfriend Bakhtiar Mohammed Abdulla, 29, took a long-bladed kitchen knife and stabbed her mother Tina Römer Holtegaard at least 20 times at the home they shared in rural Kvissel.

A court which sentenced [Lisa] Borch to nine years in jail heard how she became obsessed with militant Islam after falling in love with an unnamed Muslim man.

But he jilted her when he moved back to Sweden to be with his wife and children.

Nevertheless she found a new soulmate in Iraq-born Abdulla, whom she befriended after meeting at a refugee centre near her home.

Following the brutal murder, in which both Borch and Abdulla participated, the teenager called police claiming: ‘I heard my mother scream and I looked out the window and saw a white man running away. Please come here, there is blood everywhere.’

On arrival police found Mrs Holtegaard, whose husband was away on a short business trip at the time of her murder, covered in her own blood in bed.

Often it is the extreme (nut)cases that best illustrate general social maladies. This story encapsulates most of the constituent elements of the decline and fall of European civilization.

(1) The wild age differentials. You don’t have to be one of those puritan freaks who would slam an eighteen year old’s life for having sex with someone like this at 14, but 29 and 15? That’s a bit too much, man. (Though admittedly just about legal in Denmark).

And the dude already has a wife and kids!

(2) The licentious, totally irresponsible sexual behavior of the lower half of the female bell curve under the banner of feminist empowerment.

Before, this was kept in check through familial, social, and legal strictures. Cavorting with a man double her age with that kind of name would have earned her a spanking, ostracism from the community, and maybe exile to a nunnery. But what is a single mother – she has a stepfather, but he appears to be otherwise absent from the story – to do to control a waywards 15 year old female teenager in a modern European state? Anything much beyond surly disapproval is child abuse, and will be treated as such by Scandinavia’s hyperactive social services. Trying to impart Christian values? Northern European Protestant clergymen make the Pope seem like a paragon of muscular Christianity.

As for society, suffice to say that to SJWs and even some self-styled conservatives, any man making these kinds of arguments is typically denigrated as a “weak” “loser” who is just bitter he “can’t get any,” while any woman who would nod her head to this is obviously under some kind of “false consciousness” foisted on her by the “patriarchy” since according to SJWs no woman who disagrees with them can possibly have any sort of independent agency.

As it is, her mother did try to check Lisa Borch’s self-destructive spiral and got murdered for her trouble.

(3) The avid documentation of all this degeneracy in Instagram, that social media platform most optimized for vapid attention whoring.

(4) All people seek some kind of truth, some absolute moral guidelines to live by. This impulse is much weaker amongst the intelligent, who tend to have the rational faculties and self-control to responsibly exercise freedom. But amongst the lower half of the bell curve, it is predominant.

The modern state has abdicated its responsibility to provide this truth, so people now reach out to all kinds of bizarre cults and ideologies to quench their anomie. This can take arguably positive and creative forms (e.g. transhumanism), or essentially harmless ones (e.g. the deerkin cult on Tumblr), or more malign forms such as the livid nihilism that best characterizes the social justice movement.

If there is one ideology that is most unaninimous and consistent in its insistence on having access to absolute truth, it is Islam.

Women specifically face even greater challenges to their sanity and good sense. That is because all women ultimately seek to submit to a strong man. (Higher IQ women are able to exercise more control over these impulses, while feminist women just have higher demands).

Osama bin Laden, whatever else you might think of him, was a redpilled, intelligent dude. And he said:

When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.

Hailing from cultures propagandized by Hollywood as far more virile and vibrant than Europe, unrestricted by European mores that encourage restraint in human relations, and freed from the requirement to “check their privilege” on account of their minority status, Muslims and Islamist males in particular are enabled to act the role of the strong horse.

And thus the dregs of society, bereft of the benign paternalism that would have kept them on the right path in older days, are now clamoring to place their bets against their own nations, culture, and – yes – race (Isn’t “I heard my mother scream and I looked out the window and saw a white man running away” very telling in this respect?).

From hip-hop to jihad, how the Islamic State became a magnet for converts

She was a redheaded rebel, the singer in the family, a trash-talking, tattooed 21-year-old wrapped up in a hip-hop dream of becoming Holland’s Eminem. Then Betsy found Allah.

After her sudden conversion to Islam last summer, Betsy — a name given by her family to protect her identity — began dressing in full Muslim robes. By January, the once-agnostic Dutch woman, raised in a home where the only sign of religion was a dusty Bible on a shelf, began defending homegrown terrorists. A feud with her father over her apparent radicalization prompted her to leave home — turning up days later, her parents and Dutch authorities now say, in Syria, where she would become the bride of an Islamic State fighter. …

The profiles of converts joining the Islamic State often mirror that of Betsy. The child of divorced parents, she dropped out of school by age 14, was busted for shoplifting by 16 and was struggling with a drug problem at one point.

I really do think I understand her. I mean, at some level, it’s a choice between a broken home, chronic degeneracy, and a world of cucked faggots in empty suits always reaching new heights in combining self-importance with impotence… or the swarthy alpha male youths they imported, whose brothers are blowing shit up and cutting the throats of those very empty suits in the eastern deserts.

Here’s a Heartiste meme that aptly illustrates this.

islamic-alphas

 

Not a hard choice deciding who’s the stronger horse here! At least, not for 100,000 Brits, most of them younger women!

(5) The legal system isn’t going to cut Lisa Borch’s throat, or even imprison her at least until she’s past her reproductive age. She got 9 years, which means she will be out at 24 years at the latest. Still good for a good 20 years or so of service as a brood mare in the Islamic State.

(6) These problems are most terminal in Western Europe, but its worth mentioning that not even relatively based Eastern European countries are immune to the cancer. Varvara Karaulova is one Russian example (who admittedly doesn’t fit the usual profile for these types – she went to Moscow State University, an elite institution, where she studied Arabic and became a bit too acculturated for her own good). In Ukraine, we have the prominent case of Vita Zaverukha, who ended up committing murders for the European ISIS otherwise known as the Banderite batallions of Aidar, Azov, etc. As the commentator Glossy put it (and diagnosed correctly):

What kind of parents let their 18 year-old DAUGHTER sign up with a death squad during time of war? You’ve got to realize that the junta never had more than 70k people figthing for it. That’s in a country of 40 million. All the caring, functional parents in the Ukraine have already sent their draft-age sons abroad or bought medical papers declaring them schizofrenic paraplegics.

This is what’s left. I’m going to diagnose a broken home and romantic involvement with a Banderite football hooligan/gangster wannabe.

Eastern Europe might not be strongly infected by the suicidal zeitgeist that has overtaken the West, but it suffers from the same social afflictions – broken homes, abdicated social and familiar responsibilities, etc. – that cause so many morally loose and less intelligent, future time orientated Europeans to bet on the wrong (because it is not ours) horse.

I would probably end my ramblings around here, were it not for a pithy remark from a commentator I saw on another article here.

Coates is a good fit here at Unz.

Good observations and analyses of the decline and fall and no practical suggestions on what to do about it.

You want practical suggestions? Here you go, from an atheist:

faith-militant

Only don’t forget to replace the Seven Pointed Star with a Cross or you’ll just get another weird cult.

 
🔊 Listen RSS

Can be closed with the help of Taiwanese immigrants.

 
• Category: Humor • Tags: Immigration, RealWorld, Taiwan 
🔊 Listen RSS

So 2015 will almost certainly set a new global temperature record. In so doing, it will also discredit the last lingering skeptic arguments that the 2010s “pause” in global warming somehow negates thermodynamics and a century of observations.

global-temps-1880-2015

Source: NCDC. Red line is 5 year moving average. 2015 figures extrapolated based on Jan-May 2014.

Which does bring a new sense of relevance and perhaps urgency to Emil Kirkegaard’s recent post on tail effects in climate science.

Most of us here have heard of IQ bell curves. We also know that the effects are most pronounced at the edges of the graphs. For instance, assuming a 15 point S.D, a 100 IQ population will have 50% of its members above the 100 threshold, relative to 16% of an 85 IQ population. A large difference, but ultimately not that cardinal. But move the threshold to 160 – the approximate level of elite scientists – and the difference becomes onehundredfold. Certain intellectual achievements possible in a 100 average IQ society become impossible in an 85 average IQ society.

tail-effects-in-climate-science

Being all about bell curves and thresholds it is not surprising that you would see similar dynamics in climate science.

Small changes in general conditions = potentially big changes in the frequency of extreme events (major new scientific discoveries, intense hurricanes and droughts).

Small changes in general conditions = rising probability of entirely unprecedented events (the Scientific Revolution, clathrate gun scenario – both of which, incidentally, were and would be greatly self-sustaining).

Many ecological systems are also highly susceptible to threshold effects. Liebig’s law states that crop growth is limited by the scarcest resource available, not the total sum of resources. Change net climatic conditions, and the most extreme events can create stresses that impinge on some minimum or other (e.g. max temperature, water availability), leading to sweeping dieoffs of organisms that had become adapted to previously stable steady states and are unable to change in time.

Humans are a sapient, highly K-selected species. They can adapt. A lot. This is a good argument against climate change denialism’s opposite, climate alarmism.

Still, there are limits to this too.

One example: There are models that indicate “zones of uninhabilibility” – levels of thermal stress that mammals just can’t withstand in principle – will start to appear past a 7C rise, and encompass half of the world given another 5C rise, and most of the world with another 5C.

Of course the probability of this is really low, according to conventional climate models, and virtually non-existent within the 21st century.

But then again the probability distributions of future temperature increase are themselves subject to the same rules of bell curves and thresholds. And most feasible climate shocks/changes in assumptions would shift those bell curves right, not left, making the formerly impossible, possible, or even likely.

Both effective altruists and more dispassionate strategic planner types would do well to bear this in mind.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Global Warming, RealWorld, The Bell Curve 
🔊 Listen RSS

Greenpeace meets Wolverines in this new Norwegian TV series.

Much as Russians would appreciate this, are there really no other hotbutton issues in Norway worthy of being explored in TV series and documentaries?

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Norway, RealWorld 
🔊 Listen RSS

This has the potential to end up as an exceedingly embarassing post in retrospect, much like the confident blusterings of Wall Street bigwigs in 2007 or 1929 convinced the boom would never end.

Still, I guess someone has to stick their neck out.

(1) Booms tend to precede busts. But… what boom? Most of the developed world has only barely finished recovering their peak (inflation adjusted) GDP per capita of 2007-2008. Of the major economies in this group, only Germany, the US, and Japan have gained ground as of 2014, and of the latter two, only by the thinnest of margins. France and the UK remain 2% below 2007 per capita output; Italy, by about 10%.

world-gdp-per-capita-ppp-history

(2) Usually major recessions come in intervals of at least 10 years, the normal period for the Caution → Overconfidence → Loosening credit standards → Panic → Bust → Caution cycle to run its course. I think we are still very much in the Caution stage from the hangover of the Great Recession. Of course you can also get recessions from supply shocks like the 1970s oil crises, but that is patently not the case now. Apart from those countries that benefit from high oil prices (Russia, etc.) this should if anything act as a counteracting buffer.

(3) By themselves, stockmarket declines do not necessarily mean much, even in economies like the US (and unlike China) where companies get a large percentage of their financing from the financial markets. The 1987 stockmarket collapse remains by far the largest single day decline to date, but did not lead to a recession.

(4) They mean much less in China. As noted by many other columnists here like Eamonn Fingleton, the stockmarket is little more than a casino there. Only 2-3% of the populations participates in it. Companies do not rely on it for financing. They rely on banks, especially the state-owned behemoths.

shanghai-stock-market-longterm

Shanghai’s 40% drop in recent months looks concerning… until one notes that the net effect has merely been to return it to the average level of January 2015, which in turn was still double that of 2014 as a whole.

(5) Growth in the Chinese economy has crashed from its typical 10% to… well, 7%. Not much of a crash, is it? Note that China now produces about ten times as much steel and twice as many automobiles as the US. The potential for further 40% investment of GDP-driven growth in heavy manufacturing that has powered it for the past twenty years is now over and focus has to move over into consumption and services. This is an entirely natural development for a successfully catching up economy. South Korea also underwent a transition from ~10% growth in 1990 and earlier, to ~7% by 2000 and ~4% now. China’s GDP per capita level (both nominal and PPP) is today approximately analogous to Korea’s in the early 1990s, so given their similar human capital profiles, it is reasonable to expect China’s growth trajectory to resemble Korea’s with a 20 year time lag. In other words, it should be slowing right about now. Doesn’t mean it will collapse like the Sino-pessimists claim.

No shortrun shocks can change this fundamental picture, just as the 1998 Asian financial crisis had no permanent impact on South Korea. And unlike South Korea and the other Asian “tigers” at that time, China has much bigger buffers in the way of foreign currency reserves: Enough to cover 322% of its foreign currency debts, compared to 22% in Korea in 1998. So a currency crisis of that sort is simply out of the question. This is all rather obvious, of course, but even – especially – obvious things need to be repeated from time to time.

(6) There has been a spike in volatility (as proxied by VIX), but historically this has not led to recessions about as frequently as it has. Below is a historical graph. Note that it leaves out the 1987 event, which saw VIX reaching an all time peak at 150.

vix-index

 

The Baltic Dry Index, a proxy for the cost of shipping, which people were making a big deal of back in 2007-2008, is currently at historically normal, unremarkable levels.

(7) Even Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, who has predicted about twelve of the past zero Chinese recessions, is unusually upbeat (relatively speaking). Though given his record, this admittedly might be more a source of panic than placation.

Disclaimer: Needless to say, this is not official investment advice.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Economics, Financial Crisis, RealWorld 
🔊 Listen RSS

A couple weeks ago, Steve Sailer wrote about how homicide rates have sharply spiked in Baltimore this year relative to 2014 ever since #BlackLivesMatter became a thing.

But apparently it’s not just Baltimore.

Homicide rates have been spiking in quite a few cities in the first half of this year. I summarize the data in that article. (Indianapolis, LA, Phoenix, and San Diego are only given as “declines.” I arbitrarily assign that a value of -10% and assume that homicide rates in 2015 ≈ homicide rates in 2012, which is the last year for which we have data in a convenient format. Multiplied by 7/12 to take into account that the data for 2015only covers the first 7 months).

Murders14 Murders15 ΔMurders Population
Baltimore 105 155 48% 623
Chicago 171 203 19% 2,723
Dallas 53 68 28% 1,281
Houston 105 150 43% 2,240
Indiapolis 64 57 -10% 849
Los Angeles 199 179 -10% 3,929
Milwaukee 41 84 105% 600
Minneapolis 15 22 47% 407
New Orleans 72 98 36% 384
New York 145 161 11% 8,491
Philadelphia 117 123 5% 1,560
Phoenix 83 74 -10% 1,537
St. Louis 58 93 60% 317
San Antonio 43 53 23% 1,437
San Diego 31 28 -10% 1,381
Washington DC 62 73 18% 659
TOTAL 1363 1622 19% 28,418

Now this sample is highly urban, accounts for less than 10% of the US population, and might have been nitpicked for the areas with the most drastic increases for inclusion. So conceivably and even probably at the national level there will not quite be the ~17% increase in the homicide rate (minus 1% point to account for immigration into the cities) observed here. And it is also possible that things will start calming down in the next few months.

Even so, a significant increase of 10% seems all but inevitable, which once it comes to pass would constitute a drastic reversal of the post-1990 trend towards decreased homicide levels. This reversal appears to be especially sharp in predominantly Black areas (compare the increases in Baltimore, Milwaukee, and St. Louis to those in San Diego or Phoenix).

“Why is there a synchronicity among these cities?” said Peter Scharf, an assistant professor at the LSU School of Public Health whose research focuses on crime. “One reason may be President Obama is broke. Governors like Bobby Jindal are broke, and mayors like (New Orleans’ Mitch) Landrieu are broke. You don’t have the resources at any level of government to fund a proactive law enforcement.”

Or maybe, just maybe, with SJWs, #BLM activists, and their political enablers running circles around the forces of authority, the former become demoralized and effectively go on strike.

Janard Cunningham is lucky to be alive. Pulled over by an Alabama police officer for erratic driving, Cunningham exited his vehicle during the traffic stop, aggressively approached the police officer and delivered a debilitating sucker punch to the officer’s head.

When any police officer is debilitated by a criminal’s blow to his head, it’s a life or death moment. Threatening deadly force against an attacker is perfectly reasonable. Even using deadly force to terminate the attack might be justified. But thanks to the fashionable demonization of police officers driven by activists and their enablers in the media, that’s not what happened next.

Instead, Cunningham seized the stunned officer’s firearm and pistol whipped him senseless. The officer said he didn’t defend himself because of fear of what the media and the activists would do to him. “A lot of officers are being too cautious because of what’s going on in the media,” the unnamed police officer told CNN. “I hesitated because I didn’t want to be in the media like I am right now. It’s hard times right now for us.”

And those Blacks for whom Black Lives don’t Matter in the least take over the streets.

So much for “expanding circles of empathy.”

 
🔊 Listen RSS

world-gdp-ppp-1990-2015

 

At least according to the latest revision of the World Bank’s PPP-adjusted GDP estimates.

China has long been expected to overtake the US economy (one economist dated it to as early as 2010), and there had already been a flurry in the media when the IMF claimed the same thing in December last year. The World Bank’s new figures just confirm the new reality and scaremongering about a bad night at the irrelevant casino that is the Chinese stockmarket is not going to materially change the fact. Annual growth continues at 7% per year, much the same as South Korea when it was at a similar stage of per capita development in the 1980s.

Russia’s PPP-adjusted GDP actually marginally overtook Germany’s back in 2013, and it managed to maintain this small lead into 2014 despite falling into recession. Of course with GDP expected to fall by around 3% this year, there will almost certainly be a reversal of this, but not by any radical amount – the hystrionical pronunciations of the Western media regardless – and will likely be temporary anyway import substitution really kicks in.

Financial, military, and cultural power are all ultimately functions, if lagging functions, of productive economic power. Although it would be a bad idea to go overboard with it, the spectacle of the same year (give or take) seeing both Russia overtaking the former biggest economy in Europe, and China overtaking the former biggest economy in the world, is really quite symbolic.

 
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.