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Summary of the Russian nationalist response to #ParisAttacks.

A Cruel French Lesson, by Egor Kholmogorov appeared in the November 14 issue of Komsomolskaya Pravda, one of the leading Russian dailies. It outlines what is pretty much the standard right-wing conservative Russian position on the #ParisAttacks.

Some context: After the terrorist strikes, many outspoken Russian liberals rushed to wrap their digital selves in the French flag; a status signalling action made easy by Facebook’s provision of a French flag avatar coloration app (one could cynically add: To mark the most significant event in the world since the US legalization of gay marrage). This is in stark contrast to the relative silence over the Russian victims of the terrorist downing of the aircraft over the Sinai – and for that matter, the silence in regards to Lebanon, and for that matter, for Syria pretty much nonstop since 2011. (The Egyptians at least were commendably consistent, bathring the Pyramids in the flags of all four of the aforementioned nations).

To be sure, many Russians who adopted the French flag did so on the fly, with no intentions of making any overtly political point. However, some of the more ideologically pro-Western Russians were more to the point in justifying increased attention for French versus Russian victims of jihadi terrorism. For instance, the Russian liberal “hipster” publication GQ was very explicit in defending its decision to feature the Paris Attacks over KGL9268 on the grounds that they idenfied with the City of Lights as a “permanent festival,” whereas for them their own homeland was a permanent “territory of woe” and thus unworthy of any particular attention (this binary characterization might seem rather optimistic to anyone actually familiar with the Parisian banlieues). An English language illustration of this phenomenon is this Foreign Policy piece by Julia Ioffe, which bizarrely justifies the discrepancy in terms of the better performance of French special forces at Bataclan relative to Nord-Ost (no mention being made of the fact that the Chechen terrorists in 2002 were ten times as numerous and far better equipped).

Bearing this in mind, the patriotic and conservative types – seeing such widespread attitudes in the Russian media as an implicit endorsement of the theme that Westerners are first-rate peoples and the center of civilization, as opposed to disposable Russians in peripheral Eurasia – have not been overly concerned with sensitivity right now, which is clearly expressed in Kholmogorov’s article. He is not writing for Westerners, but for Russians on his side of the domestic culture war.

To be sure, translation ≠ endorsement, and there are several points one can take issue with him on. There is too much butthurt over Charlie Hebdo, which – contrary to its high media profile – is in reality a very low circulation publication in France itself. Furthermore, the French state obviously has no obligation to apologize for it. Tying the emergence of ISIS to France’s Levantine policies between the wars is far too radical a causal stretch and besides the point in relations to current French policies anyway. Perhaps most critically of all, the Russian obsession with the West – most prominent amongst the Westernists, of course, but still making itself felt, if in an inverted form, amongst nationalists like Kholmogorov – is perhaps unseemly and even maladaptive, since ironically one could say that this merely reflects and confirms Russia’s status as a peripheral country.

Nonetheless, I believe the vast majority of the points Kholmogorov makes are fair and to the point, and moreover the fact that something so “politically incorrect” can be published in a major Russian daily – can one imagine anything similar in The New York Times? Or even The Daily Mail? – testifies to the fact that Putin’s Russia, ethnically blank slatist as it might formally be, is nonetheless as good ally as any to those Europeans who still support European civilization and self-determination.

***

A Cruel French Lesson

by Egor Kholmogorov

http://www.kp.ru/daily/26458.7/3328330/

The hideous acts of terrorism in France strongly resemble a fast-forward video of the decades long terrorist war that has been waged against Russia. The massacre at the Bataclan theater is basically a French version of Nord-Ost…

So we in Russia understand what is now happening with the French like few others.

But this tragedy occured at a rather inconvenient time in relations between the two countries. It came on the heels of a French magazine’s vulgar lampooning of the victims of the terrorist attack on our aircraft over the Sinai. I have not seen a single public apology from the French. Our officials are the only people who have tried reassuring us that real French people are ashamed about this… Thus, all expressions of sympathy, alas, have to begin with a caveat: “Regardless of your mockery of the terrorist attack against us, we do really feel for you.”

We feel for you because we ourselves have felt such tragedies on our shoulders. We sympathize, and we sympathize sincerely.

But approaching this with a cool head, one can’t deny that this case is also a matter of France paying the bills, and for multiple accounts at once.

The terrorists shouted, “This is for Syria!” And this is, at some level, “For Syria” – not in the sense that French aviation is bombing ISIS, but in that when France after the First World War received a mandate to govern Syria, it first divided that territory into five states along confessional lines: Christian, Alawite, Sunni, Druze, and Armenian. Then it took them and used them to glue together two states – Syria and Lebanon, thus laying the foundations for civil war in both countries. Had they either kept Syria unified, or properly divided, there would have been no ISIS.

Two years ago, President Hollande rattled his sabre harder than anyone else in pushing for an American intervention in Syria [against Assad], and was only narrowly stopped at the last moment by Vladimir Putin.

It was Hollande and his predecessor Sarkozy who supported the overthrow of Gaddafi, who welcomed the Islamic Revolution in Egypt, who seeded the flames of war in Syria and in so doing became directly responsible for the creation of ISIS, Al-Nusra, and similar demons, for the spread of their activities to France and all Europe, and for the overwhelming waves of refugees.

When in January murderers took care of the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo, instead of a sane adjustment to security and migration policy, Hollande was only interested in preventing Marine Le Pen from getting any political kudos and kickstarted the hysterical tolerance campaign “Je suis Charlie.”

Moreover, the objects of sympathy should not have been a bunch of talentless hacks, but those French citizens who were in danger of becoming victims of terrorism in the future!

Migration policy should have been tightened, and border controls strengthened. A campaign should have begun to fight against terrorist organizations globally and against the Islamist underground in France itself.

Instead of this, the orgy of “tolerance” continued, as Hollande occupied himself with weightier matters, such as saving the Kievan junta and clamping down on Mistral sales. France became a best friend of Qatar – one of the main sponsors of radical terrorism, including ISIS.

And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you…

The most horrifying fact of this strategy is that the killers in the Bataclan spoke good French with no accent. This means that they are not recent immigrants, recently arrived from the Middle East. These are French high school graduates, perhaps – French citizens, to whom they tried to teach the lessons of tolerance.

There is a hard-hitting film from 2008 starring Isabelle Adjani called La Journée de la Jupe. A female teacher in an immigrant quadrant of Paris, despairing of the thuggery and unwillingness to learn of her students, and tired of their barbaric morals, finds a gun in the possession of one of them. She grabs the gun and proceeds to take the class hostage, and force the impudent rascals to study the biography of Molière and respect women at gunpoint. The police and bureaucrats dance about in the background, convinced that the “intolerant” teacher is the main threat. Special forces prepare to storm the classroom. But in the end, the gun ends up in the hands of one of the pupils, and there begins a bloody massacre. This is a very enlightenening film that everyone should watch today.

So it is impossible to say that the French themselves are unaware of what is happening with them. And it is no accident that the Front National of Marine Le Pen is France’s leading party. But the political system there has been specially arranged in such a way that even with a plurality of the votes, the National Front still get the smallest amount of seats in Parliament. This means that the situation will only change when the Front National starts getting more than 50% of the total votes.

Dictatorships can always be excused away by the fact that the incompetence of the man in power is paid for by the sufferings of people who never elected him. But France is a democratic country. It has political leaders who were ready to rearrange politics in a way that could avert tragedy. They could have voted for Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002 and 2007, and for Marine Le Pen in 2012. They not only could have, but should have, voted for Marine in 2012. But instead, the French elected Hollande and his party of tolerant hypocrites.

Today has revealed the frightful cost of that decision. The streets of Paris have been stained with blood, as mobs of fightened and bewildered people rampaged through the city.

But will even this shock change anything? If, regardless of the newly introduced State of Emergency, the regional elections of December 6th go ahead – will the French finally be ready to put a stop to all this, or will they continue to vote for freedom for terrorists, and equality and brotherhood with bandits?

I am afraid that the answer to this horror will be a continuation of the same old, same old. Western propaganda has already adapted an essentially totalitarian tenor: “We will rally all the more closely around the values of multiculturalism, we will not allow any expressions of extremism, this is all Assad’s fault, if only he had stepped down – none of this would have happened…”

Unfortunately, it has become clear that what we are seeing is a live translation of the fall of the Roman Empire under the onslaught of the barbarians. The same stubborn refusal to understand what is going on, the same unpreparedness to take serious decisions, the same vacillation and buffoonery in the moment of mortal danger. It would be great if wonderful France were to finally find its Jeanne D’Arc.

But that is hard to believe.

Therefore, Russia’s main task is to learn its lesson – and to defend itself. To defend its territory. Its people. Its aircraft.

To support its allies. To remove the contagion of terrorism from the Middle East and everywhere else. To be prepared to settle accounts not just with its perpetrators, but also its sponsors.

And to avoid hoping that either the French state or Europe will learn any lessons from this. That they will change their politics, join us in fighting our common enemy, or stop behaving like an elephant in a china shop in the East. To plan our moves on such hopes would be nothing more than self-deceit.

But with the French, we sympathize. Stay strong!

 
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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.

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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.

 
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vsevolod-ivanov-man-and-bear

Artwork by Vsevolod Ivanov.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of participating in an “Ascending the Tower” podcast produced by neoreactionary luminaries Surviving Babel and Nick B. Steves.

We talked about foreign policy, especially as it pertains to Russia, modern European and American history, the rise of Western universalism, neocons, and the Ukrainian Conflict in the context of neoreactionary geopolitical theory. Despite the length of time it took to get this podcast organized, the discussion in it has lost none of its relevancy.

Below are the links to the podcasts – due to their length, Surviving Babel split them in two – together with a copy of their “table of contents” and show-related hyperlinks.

***

Episode VII, Part 1: “This Kaleidoscope Of Truths”

Notes:
4:44 – Introducing Anatoly Karlin
7:17 – Putin and his perception in the West
16:26 – Gradual erosion of Russian respect for the US
22:10 – Russia Today vs. Western media outlets
28:05 – Brief thoughts on Alexandr Dugin
32:05 – Mid-19th c. burgeoning Cathedral foreign policy

Related show links:
Opening Music (excerpt): “Thirst For Truth” by Sons of Northern Mist
https://www.jamendo.com/en/track/1174735/thirst-for-truth

Closing Music (excerpt): “You is Light” by KORDYUKOV
https://www.jamendo.com/en/track/1207353/you-is-light

Anatoly Karlin’s Blog
http://www.unz.com/akarlin/

Discussion of 19th c. Russian liberal-conservatism
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/putins-philosophy/

More on Russian attitudes towards the US
http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/07/14/chapter-1-the-american-brand/

Ofcom and Russia Today
http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/mar/02/russia-today-anti-western-ukraine-crosstalk-kremlin

Gregory Hood on Dugin
http://www.radixjournal.com/journal/2014/6/23/why-the-conservative-movement-needs-dugin

Russian involvement in US Civil War
http://www.voltairenet.org/article169488.html

***

Episode VII, Pt. 2 – “The Worship of the West”

Notes:
1:03 – Woodrow Wilson, progenitor of the Cathedral
5:46 – Family structure and its influence on political ideology
11:30 – The failure of the League of Nations
15:13 – The post-WWII East-West polarization
19:58 – Competing visions of the nature of Ukraine
29:32 – Euromaidan and the Russian reaction
38:41 – Forecasting the near future of Ukraine
44:04 – Out of Left Field — Impact of the EAEU

Related show links:

Opening Music – “Opening Game” by aktarum
https://www.jamendo.com/en/track/1134793/opening-game

Closing Music – “The Gardener” by Mister_Even_Steven
https://www.jamendo.com/en/track/1245965/the-gardener

Anatoly Karlin’s blog
http://www.unz.com/akarlin/

Anatoly discusses Apollo’s Ascent
http://akarlin.com/2015/01/blogging-at-unz-review/

Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations (warning: Cathedral source)
https://history.state.gov/milestones/1914-1920/fourteen-points
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/leagcov.asp

hbdchick’s posts on Emmanuel Todd’s family formation theory
https://hbdchick.wordpress.com/tag/todds-family-systems/

Eurasian Economic Union (officially EAEU in English)
http://www.eaeunion.org/?lang=en

Sponsorship:

If you are interested in sponsoring Ascending the Tower, e-mail me at Surviving Babel at gmail dot com. Sponsorships start at $10 an episode, and all proceeds will either go back into the podcast or provide some compensation for your most grateful host. You can purchase a mention or short message, or you can choose to sponsor the Out of Left Field question or even an entire episode.

***

A Gentle Introduction to NRx

Kickstarted by the Jewish Silicon Valley-based programmer Mencius Moldbug in the late 2000s, neoreaction – or NRx, as it is commonly abbreviated – is a radically new look at our social and political systems through the prism of Human Biodiversity, the theory of private government, and the writings of dead white male reactionaries such as Thomas Carlyle and Julius Evola. This set of theories and ways of thinking has been termed the “Dark Enlightenment” by the British philosopher Nick Land. Since the days of Moldbug, NRx has branched off into three distinct directions: The (original) elitist, philo-Semitic, technophilic, and cognitively elitist wing, basically disillusioned libertarians who realized that the average person is a 100 IQ idiot who shouldn’t be trusted with democracy; the more populistic, Semitic-neutral traditionalists, ethnonationalists, thede-preservers, and old-school Christian conservatives who will never have any truck with gay marriage (I believe my interlocutors in this podcast largely belong to this category); and the wave of nationalists, Internet trolls, anti-Semites, and overt Nazis who have been making their way into the movement in more recent months. The entrance of the latter has been especially traumatic, producing a lot of drama and hysterics. Many of the Nazis wanted to overthrow NRx outright – some of them call it JRx, you can guess what that stands for – and sweep up the fragments into White Nationalism. But they haven’t met with success, since by and large the NRx OG’s – the techno-commercialists and the traditionalists – have resisted the assaults of the stormfags. And despite the recent political jitters, a lot of quality work continues to be written under the NRx umbrella.

This is a barebones summary. I will probably write more about neoreaction in the future, but for now, readers who want to find out more about this movement are directed to the following articles.

Personally, I agree with maybe 60% of the NRx platform – heck, check my blog name – but I should stress that I do not identify as NRx. Not out of any misplaced concern for respectability and employability; that ship has long sailed. Just that some of their ideas I disagree with, and quite cardinally so – for instance, the viability and desirability of private government. I don’t really adhere to any ideology but I do generally sympathize with Left positions economically. Like virtually any other ideology, they prefer narratives over facts. Their narrative (I think) happens to be closer to reality than the mainstream SWPL Liberal or Cuckservative narratives, but it contains predictable blindspots like rejection of climate science and statistically questionable claims denying the longterm decline in violence. Plus, they have a solid stance against entryism. That is their right and I will respect it.

PS. Administrative note -

As you may have noticed, my blog has been reduced from three slots to one slot on the front page. This is temporary, and was done by my own request. Basically, for various personal-related reasons, I will be very busy until about mid-August. Hence, my blogging will likely be very infrequent during this period. I will get much more free time come late August and September, when I will return to my regular blogging schedule and the old front page arrangement.

 
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rainbow-kiselev

A few days after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage throughout the US, a fairly (in)famous Russian TV presenter expressed his support for gay civil unions on the nation’s second biggest TV channel in front of a big projector screen blaring out “Love Works Miracles.”

No, he was not beaten up by skinheads with iron bars for his temerity live on air, nor was he fired, nor did anything happen to him whatsoever (which is surely shocking enough by itself for many Westerners). What is all the more surprising is the identity of this TV presenter: Dmitry Kiselev. He is a personality who has a highly chequered reputation in the West, reliably generating headlines with soundbytes about Russia’s ability to turn the US into radioactive ash and the necessity of burning the hearts of dead homosexuals. He is arguably regarded as being second only to Putin in terms of his godly powers in Ukraine, and has been sanctioned by the EU for being a “central figure” in Russian state propaganda.

And to hear him “come out” this way – “Love Works Miracles,” indeed. Snide jokes about his imminent gay marriage to Milonov inevitably follow. Even if he is serious, how exactly is Russian society – where support for gay marriage is at a mere 7% according to opinion polls, down by half from 15% just a decade ago – supposed to accept gay civil unions?

gay-marriage-russia-poll

But far from being the raving firebrand and Slavic Glenn Beck that he is typically regarded as, Kiselev is in fact a fairly intelligent and urbane person who speaks four foreign languages, successfully cultivated ties with important people who didn’t necessarily share his ideological outlook – here is a photo of him serving fried potatoes to Poroshenko and Buzina, in nicer, older days – and overall, an able servant of the state who is ultimately paid to propagate its thoughts, priorities, and feelers.

This episode must force us to consider an unusual proposition: The granting of concessions to the Russian LGBT community, up to and including civil unions. So far as the Russian state is concerned, this is arguably both realistic and adaptive and might happen far sooner than one might otherwise imagine.

The first major point to bear in mind is that Russian attitudes towards homosexuality – as well as social conservatism in general – have always been far more functional than ideological and/or theological in nature. This might be a surprising assertion to some, but it is backed up by history. The Soviet state was the fourth major European country (France, the Ottoman Empire and Italy were first) to effectively decriminalize homosexuality in 1917, along with abortion. The “reactionary” ancien regime had been overthrown, and so too were its cultural and legal accoutrements to be consigned to the dustbin of history. This policy was sharply reversed by Stalin in 1933, when (male) homosexuality was once again made illegal. Despite the rhetoric, its goals were purely pragmatic: The Stalinist leadership was concerned about falling birth rates (which they ascribed to the liberal policies instituted under the Old Bolsheviks, including legal homosex and abortion), made especially germane due to the looming threat of war with Nazi Germany; and the latent homoeroticism of much of Nazi art and culture (compare Kameradschaft to Worker and Peasant Girl) coupled with the regime’s search for scapegoats made homosexuals an easy target. These policies were maintained after Stalinism, when homosexuality was associated with effete capitalist societies that had no place in a worker’s state. The USSR might have been Marxist, but it was by no means culturally Marxist (a fine point that oft happens to be lost on US conservatives).

gchq-gay

Turing? More like Orwell.

Then the winds of history shifted, and sodomy was (re)decriminalized in 1993 – that’s ten years earlier than some US states, for context. In the absence of the state declining to take a strong position one way or the other, attitudes towards homosexuality steadily crept up well into the Putinist 2000s – albeit from a very low base. But then in 2012, Russian politics took a starkly conservative turn as Putin, following the mini-shocks of the 2011-12 elections protests, forsook the urbane and cosmopolitan class of Muscovite latte-sippers in favor of the “real Russia” of the Uralvagonzavod workers in the hinterland. The law against propaganda of homosexuality to minors was adopted in 2013. Locked in an increasingly bitter culture war with the West, which has now began not only embracing but actively weaponizing the international LGBT movement against its geopolitical foes – conventional wisdom must assess the prospects for LGBT rights in Russia as bleak for the foreseeable future.

Or maybe not. Here are the reasons:

(1) As per above, the Russian state’s policies on social conservatism are functional, not ideological. If the cost-benefit calculatinos change in a certain direction, so too will state policy. This is especially the case today since unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is an avowedly non-ideological state. When asked if Russia has a “national idea,” Putin replied, “For our children, our grandchildren, for our Motherland, Russia, it always was, is, and will be worth living for and creating for. What else is there? However we might try to come up with a national idea, it has to be said directly: There is nothing closer to someone than his family, his close ones, and his own country.” In other words, strident conservatism might be adaptive today – but tomorrow is another day.

alexeyev-outburst

“He dared call me a hypocrite? KGB must have hacked him!” – some American faggot.

(2) From a McCarthyite conspiracy theory, the US and Co. have managed to make Homintern into reality, highly intertwined with SJWs (with Buzzfeed as their flagship) and wielded with aplomb against countries unfriendly to the West (I suspect that as much has been written in the American MSM about Russia’s “persecution” of gays just in relation to the Sochi Olympics than about the totality of LGBT experiences in Saudi Arabia). What is all the more remarkable is that all this came together just a mere decade or so after the end of institutionalized discrimination against homosexuals in the US. This is no mean achievement and can be said without the slightest trace of irony.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all or even most homosexuals are now fully on board with Western imperialism. To the contrary, Manning and Greenwald plainly disprove that. The Russian LGBT movement as a whole has been highly subservient to Homintern, but this is neither a universal position nor even an entirely non-understandable one in the context of the Russian state’s turn against LGBT in the early 2010′s. For instance, Nikolay Alexeyev – a prominent leader in Russia’s gay movement – doesn’t like the West anymore than he does Putin, after he fell out with America’s Homintern (specifically John Aravosis and the AMERICAblog) because of their attacks on him following his refusal to toe their line calling for a boycott of the Sochi Olympics.

(3) To avoid falling behind the global Zeitgeist. If you can’t beat it – and let’s not kid ourselves, Russia objectively can’t – then join it on your own terms. As Razib Khan points out, it is the high IQ people who set policy – even in the US, the religious conservative types have next to zero influence over policy – and the great bulk of high IQ people in the West now support the gay agenda. This percentage is not going to diminish anytime soon. Like it or not, but opponents of gay marriage are going to find themselves increasingly surrounded by blithering idiots (Khanian qualifier: on average). And fat, drunk, and stupid – well, just fat and stupid, I’m talking about the US not Russia here – is no way to exert influence.

The counterargument is that the Western power is sinking anyway with the rise of BRICS, so why adapt to their world now of all times? Even if one insists on viewing it that way, though, it’s hardly an exclusively Western phenomenon. For that matter, two BRICS members – South Africa and Brazil – already have gay marriage.

homosexuality-world-poll-pew

As religiosity decreases, and it is decreasing virtually everywhere, tolerance for homosexuality and consequently support for gay marriage tends to rise. China and Russia are the only two major exceptions to this trend, due to their socialist legacy, but will they remain exceptions indefinitely? With the homosexuality = effete capitalists ideology now defunct, I wouldn’t bet on it in the longterm.

One concern for Russian conservatives might be that civil unions would be a slippery slope. To the contrary, evidence so far indicates that they are more of a line in the sand. It’s striking that Germany – a country far more socially liberal than the US, and which has had gay civil unions since 2001 – still doesn’t have gay marriage, while the US is fining bakers hundreds of thousands of dollars just for following their religious beliefs on homosexual unions. Americans can thank their pathetic cuckservatives for that, who spent many years slavering about the evils of gay marriage only to do a volte-face as soon as support for gay marriage crossed the 50% bar.

(4) One of the main purposes of traditionalism in Russia right now is as a foreign policy to consolidate the Near Abroad (e.g. Novorossiya) and undermine the NWO (e.g. Nazi conferences, support for Front National and Scottish independence – Europe, “The South will Rise Again!” – the US). The No Homo position is a consistent, if unnecessary, complement.

Why unnecessary? First, because consistency in foreign policy is overrated. Nobody pays anything but lip service to it. At various points since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US supported Chechen jihadists, its pet Moscow liberals, and literal liberal Nazis like Navalny – and the US is, after all, the country that invented the very concept of “color revolution.” Smart countries would do well to learn from the master. And I think some are doing just that. Today’s Russia supports both Left and Right, Syriza and the National Front, Occupy and Texas secessionists.

gay-marriage-europe-map The naive view is that No Homo will be more of a draw in the Near Abroad, where society is just as or even more homophobic than in Russia. For instance, a mere 5% of Ukrainians support gay marriage. The problem? It’s about the 20th item on the typical Ukrainian nationalist’s list of priorities (Putin is #1-#3, Europe is #4). More so, in a country where street “lustrations” and Far Right thuggery are a daily occurence, with the police powerless to intervene, any Ukrainian knows that his country is in precisely zero danger of being overtaken by a gay mafia anytime soon. That is why Russian online trolling of Ukrainians about “Gayropean values” and how at this rate they would soon be marrying dogs to toasters is like water off a duck’s back.

In dealing with this… cult (see video above), that happens to worships Europe, what would be a guaranteed way to mindfuck svidomy skulls? To inflict unimaginable levels of butthurt amongst Maidanists? Adopting same-sex civil unions just like in (the very European countries like) Germany, Czechia, Croatia, and Estonia that they love and look up to so much.

(5) Conservatism has certainly been useful in restoring Russia’s 1990s-depleted patriotism levels and fertility rates, but were it to be taken much further, its overall utility will become questionable. One distant if not altogether impossible outcome is falling into genuine retarded obscurantism. This is currently faked in Russia, not least by characters like Kiselev himself, but as in the Borgesian fable, the map can become the territory.

This would cripple transhumanism in Russia along with associated technological vectors like indefinite life extension and superintelligence. Too “real” and self-sacrificing – or “passionate,” in the Gumilevian sense – a commitment to traditionalism would increase the risks of this scenario coming to pass. Starkes Herz, starker Stahl! Dudes with AKs or even Armatas would always end up getting wrecked by Googletopia’s drones, Belltower augs and NWO terminators.

A loosening of No Homo policies can be a useful and timely reminder to people not to take the Spiritual Braces (dukhovnye skrepy) too seriously.

Now for sure this must all remain speculation. But I do not think Kiselev’s announcement of his support for gay civil unions was entirely out of the blue, and as covered here, there are solid and logical reasons for why it might presage a deeper turn in Kremlin policy in the not too distant future. And though I wouldn’t take even odds on it, I do think it’s likelier that Russia will into homosex by 2020 than that the President’s first name is going to be to be something other than Vladimir or Sergey (Shoygu).

***

PS. To preempt any claims of opportunism: I have supported same sex civil unions with some of the rights and privileges of marriage since the early 2000s when I became politically aware and my position on that hasn’t changed substantially since even though I zigzagged ideologically quite a bit during this period. Searching my blog would confirm that at least for 2008. Ironically, this means in American terms that I went from being a raving liberal under early Bush to a hateful bigot redneck today.

 
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This will probably be of no surprise to people who follow Russian sentiments, but still worth pointing out that according to the latest polls by Levada – an independent polling agency headed by pro-Western liberals – support for this thing called “Western-style democracy” has never been lower. This is quite a change from 2012, at the height of the post-Soviet protest fervor, when it was neck and neck with the Soviet system and the legitimacy of the current system came close to its local maximum.

russia-best-political-system

Likewise, support for free markets is also near, though not quite at, an all-time low. The catastrophic events of the 1990s, first the epically crooked privatizations, then the 1998 default, disillusioned Russians from “reform” for the foreseeable future.

russia-best-economic-system

You don’t really need many Kiselevs when two decades of geopolitical double standards and Cochita Wursts can do the job even better. In the great scheme of things, considering Russians’ enthusiasm for Western democracy and free markets directly after the fall of the USSR, which was still detectable even when Putin first came to power and mooted the possibility of Russia joining NATO (on which he was cold shouldered), this can be interpreted as one of history’s greatest ideological PR fails.

These figures demonstrate that there is more to Russia’s pride and accumulated resentment than the headline 80%+ approval ratings for Putin after Crimea. One consequence is that Russia is more or less “immunized” against coups and color revolutions until at least the next round of elections in 2017-18. Western policymakers might not like this fact or even be unduly interested in it, but reality is.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Democracy, Russian Politics 
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After a week-long absence, the Internet is growing rife with rumors about Putin’s health and whereabouts.

Has he produced a heir with Alina Kabaeva? Is he plotting nuclear war with the West from his bunker at Mount Yamantau? Has he been abducted by aliens? Or is the Mausoleum about to get a new occupant??

putin-mausoleum

Let’s consider the possibilities one by one:

Putin is ill

This is according to an anonymous Kazakh official, following the cancelation of a planned visit to Astana. This is being denied by Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who said Putin was “breaking hands” in response to a question about his handshake. Naturally. But it has to be admitted that a week and counting is a long time in politics. Still, everyone gets the flu now and then, and in a highly personalistic power system like Russia’s it might not do well to display the fact. When alpha male chimps become ill, rather than weather challenges from young upstarts while they are relatively incapacitated, they prefer to wander into the forest, come back when they get better, and act as if nothing out of the norm had happened (or they die). It would not do for people to see the Tsar and arbiter of the Kremlin clans coughing, sneezing, and bedridden like some old geezer.

Putin is incapacitated or dead

Perhaps he had a stroke or heart attack. Maybe he’s dead, and Maidanist Ukrainians can jump in glee, like the Prussians did in the correct belief that Elizaveta had died and the war against them would soon end, or the top Nazis in 1945 on the incorrect belief that the death of FDR would presage the unraveling of the Alliance.

Unfortunately for them, this is almost certainly out of the question, and not only because keeping such a development in Russia, which after all is still a largely open information space, is practically unfeasible.

The first reason to treat rumors of Putin’s death from health complications is that he is an extremely healthy physical specimen, a genuine judoka who starts his day with a few laps in the swimming pool and rarely drinks. This alone would make the average Russian male life expectancy of 65 years completely inapplicable to him. Second, he enjoys basically billionaire-level healthcare. Yeltsin, an obese alcoholic who suffered from heart attacks every other year, still managed to eke out 76 years with the help of elite healthcare. Finally, the Putins appear to be an unusually long-lived family in general. His mother, Maria Ivanovna, died at the age of 87, and his father, Vladimir Spiridonovich, at 88. His paternal grandfather, Spiridon Putin, who incidentally happened to be a cook to Lenin and Stalin, died at the age of 86. His other children also tended to die at advanced ages – Anna at 80, and as far as I can establish, Alexander (born in 1920) and Ludmila (born in 1926) were alive at least until 2000, though I’m uncertain about Mikhail (born in 1913). Only one of Spiridon Putin’s children died early, but that was from a German shell or bullet in 1941. Longevity is moderately heritable, and such consistently high lifespans are highly unusual for 20th century Russia. Of course a healthy lifestyle, genetics, and elite healthcare are no absolute guarantee against a premature death, but when virtually all the variables are stacked in your favor, it makes it very unlikely. I may have to eat a bullet on this, but I fully expect Putin’s lifespan to be comparable to Castro’s.

One final reason to treat claims of Putin’s premature demise with skepticism is that this is hardly the first time it’s happened. There is a small minority of Russians who desperately and fervently wish him dead, and are more than happy to provide grist for the rumor mill, and there is a much larger group of Westerners who would be very happy at treat the resulting product as wheat when all the evidence points to it being chaff. There was an analogous case in 2012, when Putin also disappeared for a few days following what was likely a minor back injury during judo practice. That didn’t stop Russian emigre journalist Leonid Bershidsky from upgrading it to spinal cancer, a claim which seems to have been originally posted by a minor Russian oppositionist and soon afterwards actively propagated by the Chechen Islamist terrorist website Kavkaz Center:

Today I learned from a source in the presidential administration, that our alpha dog is not simply sick but he is sick with spine sarcoma (spinal cancer,) and 3 months are left for the life of this guy. The cancer cannot be treated, and there is already a struggle inside the KGB for powerful positions.

A probable successor will actually be the shaman Shoigu (Russia’s new defense minister), and soon there will be a lot of interesting events, in particular, before the next special operation to transfer the throne from one thief to another; half of the of weapons are planned to be confiscated from the population. So, in 2013 there will be fun. We must prevent a new thief from the Putin’s gang to move to the Kremlin.

This has all the usual Kremlinological dreck, which we’ll come to in a sec, but first, a litte aside: The reference to “shaman” is on account of Shoigu’s Buddhism. I did say this is an extremist Islamist website, which openly and proudly celebrates terrorist attacks on Russian soil. But funnily enough, it happens to be hosted without any problems on a Finnish server. One can only imagine the problems, say, Al Qaeda or ISIS would have if they were to try to get hosting in a Western country. It pays for an Islamist terrorist group to have the right sugardaddy.

Coup

Anyhow, moving on. Images of tanks and APCs on Red Square… that happened to be several years old. Rumors that the Kremlin was to make an important announcement this weekend, and orders to journalists to remain in Moscow… soon proved a fake. Black helicopters over the Kremlin. Medvedev is now calling the shots. Or Primakov in a liberal palace coup. Or Sergey Ivanov in a hardliner uprising. Or maybe Putin himself is preparing a massive political reorganization, such as firing Medvedev’s Cabinet in favor of Ivanov, the Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration.

Problem: Mounting a coup against Putin is hard. No major interest group has beef with him: The non-systemic opposition is impotent, truculent oligarchs have long since been purged or coopted, and the political elites – especially the siloviki, or security personnel – are largely agreed with his domestic and foreign policy course. The civiliki, or liberal technocrats, might not be quite as happy, but they are also divided and frankly don’t have the requisite balls to attempt a coup anyway. Even if they did, they would still have to figure out how to manage a population that at this point in history virtually adulates Putin; at last count, his approval rating was at an astronomical 88%.

And the last, concrete argument against the coup theory is that the events of the past week don’t hew to the standard patterns of historical coup. The hard men at the FSB or the MVD would not be taking so long about it. The Army would be getting involved. Considering that they overwhelmingly sided with Gorbachev in August 1991, when his popularity was already at rock bottom, it is inconceivable that Russia’s apolitical generals would side against Putin. There would almost certainly be blood in the streets. No, the chances of a coup are infinitesimal. Putin is more likely dead from a stroke than under house arrest or something that approximates to it.

Out of all these options, the only more or less remotely feasible one is that Putin is preparing some kind of major new denouement, such as the formation of a new government, or a major change of policy – there are mixed signals, so it could be in either direction – on Ukraine.

The Grozny Gambit

In 1564, getting tired of the aristocracy’s incompetence and venality, Ivan Grozny (mistranslated as “The Terrible”) left his throne for a monastery in disgust. Unable to govern and threatened by the Moscow mob, the boyars begged him to come back. Ivan agreed, but only on condition that they vest him with absolute power. The boyars acceded to his ultimatum. Ivan returned in 1565, and created the infamous oprichnina, with their Nazgul-like black attire and black horses, and pommel-mounted dog heads and brooms to “sniff out and sweep away” treason. The Russian state became centralized as never before, but at the cost of eventual ruin and economic collapse.

ivan-terrible-grozny-and-people

Is Putin doing the Grozny Gambit, betting that Russia will become ungovernable in his absence and that the boyars and the people will demand his return on any condition?

Much as this image of Tsar Putin would satiate the hearts and minds of romantics and neoreactionaries… no. Just no. Putin isn’t one for the melodramatic, or the taking of unnecessary risks for gains that he doesn’t even aspire to it in the first place.

Kabaeva love child

Putin’s amorous relationship with rhythmic gymnast and Olympic champion Alina Kabaeva has been the stuff of Kremlin rumors and febrile imaginations for the past seven years. The general story is that Putin and Kabaeva became engaged in 2008, married in 2013, and had a child in Switzerland this February. Though strongly denied by Putin’s spokespeople, the timing of his divorce from his first wife Ludmila, in 2013, is certainly interesting. And a Twitter account, most convincingly named @kabaeva_russia, claimed that she “just had a son” two days ago.

Which doesn’t square with the “Es ist ein Madchen!” soundbyte adopted by the media. Or with why a privacy-conscious Putin would go to Switzerland; it’s not like Russia doesn’t have any elite obstetrics facilities. Or with Kabaeva’s figure a couple of months ago, which doesn’t exaclty look seven months pregnant.

kabaeva-not-pregnant

Frankly, the likeliest possibility is that Putin’s team tolerates and even gently promotes these rumors, since virility is generally considered to be a good thing in leaders – better than being sick, at any rate.

Still, Leonid Bershidsky is ON IT, so that must at least count for something.

Schrodinger’s Putin

My bet is still on a particularly nasty flu or maybe a mild-to-moderate health issue, which if so would probably be highly visual, like Botox gone wrong. 88% approval rating or not, he’d still be a laughing stock.

But surely I am not alone in hoping for Putin’s glorious emergence on Red Square soon before the assembled people, a cyborg robot suit in place of torso, Monomakh’s Cap on his head, and a swaddled infant-heir in his arms, proclaiming the foundation of the Imperial Russian Horde.

Either way, we’ll find soon enough. Appointments have been scheduled, prior postponements have to be made good; we are unlikely to be waiting for answers for very much longer.

 
• Category: Humor • Tags: Russian Politics, Vladimir Putin 
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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.