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 Russian Reaction Blog / TwitterTeasers

gnome-syria-reactions

I’ll have a more serious post on this soon enough, but for now, reactions from some of the more important and interesting players.

White House

politicians-behind-syria-strikes

Although they are present, the “anti-globalist” crowd – Steve Bannon and his allies, Stephen Miller and Michael Anton – are relegated to the back, while the likes of Jared Kushner occupy a much more central position. (Isn’t Kremlinology fun?)

This might be relevant since even the NYT has painted this as a battle between Kushner and Bannon, which the former won.

Countries

syria-strike-response

Conveniently summarized in this NYT map.

Russia’s, Syria’s, and Iran’s responses have been tough, while the Western Europeans, Turkey, the Gulf states, Israel, Justin Trudeau, and Ukraine fell in in behind Trump. All of this is predictable.

The strike appears to have been ordered at around the same time that Trump was meeting with Xi Jinping, which would make it a remarkably barefaced power play. Now I know that China is Russia’s friend only by convenience (and vice versa), but still, the lack of a condemnation is rather surprising even by China’s usually milquetoast standards. I would note that even the usually combatatitive Global Times has stayed neutralish.

The Establishment

Needless to say, the neocons were overjoyed at the return of the prodigal son:

neocons-syria-joy

 

mccain-graham-syria-statement

As neocons-in-all-but-name, so of course were the neoliberal interventionists, with one “innovation” – led by Hillary Clinton herself, they are explicitly tying their support for Trump’s “invade” agenda with the eternal flip side of that coin, “invite.”

spencer-syria-invade-invite

Whether or not this constitutes a true “zrada,” or betrayal, on Trump’s part, I am afraid he has opened a Pandora’s box that will not be closed anytime soon. For instance, bigwig CNN journalist was already posing the question to Ivanka:

cnn-syria-invite-too-plz

The journalists have fallen in line:

journalists-syria

That said, for the most diehard proponents of the ROG conspiracy, such as Louise Mensch, this was just one more ploy by Putler’s puppet to get her off the Russia trail:

mensch-rog-is-everywhere

 

Jeffrey Goldberg and Julia Ioffe:

goldberg-ioffe-syria-puppet

More principled libertarian and nationalist politicians such as Rand Paul, Ron Paul, Nigel Farage, and Marine Le Pen expressed reservations.

le-pen-syria-no

***

Neocons

Rick Wilson:

wilson-syria-deep-state

Bill Kristol:

kristol-syria-happy

Tweets of Note

Sentiment here ranges from deep unease to outright disavowal.

The biggest critic of Donald Trump’s decision was Donald Trump himself, t minus 4 years.

trump-syria-critic

Based Taleb:taleb-on-journos

Ann Coulter’s defection – possibly the most influential figure in the Alt Light-sphere – has been particularly striking:

coulter-syria-wtfcoulter-syria-culmination-of-zrada Richard Spencer, who has long been relatively skeptical on Trump, minced no words:

spencer-syria-alt-right

Paul Joseph Watson has thrown in his MAGA hat:watson-syria-off-the-train

To be sure, some people such as Mike Cernovich had a 4d chess hypothesis ready to go:

cernovich-syria-4d-chess

Partisangirl was more skeptical:partisangirl-chess-wotlul

Mat Forney:

forney-syria-4d-chess

The zrada was strong with Hunter Wallace:

wallace-zrada

And with Peter Brimelow, or whoever runs the VDARE account:

vdare-syria-reverse-crusades

 

The arcanest of the arcane, Runglish #frogtwitter:

eschaton-syria-zog-rules

Nick Land:

land-nrx-was-right

As for myself, I think its time to transition from frogs to Baathism:

karlin-frog-to-saa

 

Though TBF it was always inevitable:

karlin-peremoga-zrada

 
• Category: Humor • Tags: Syrian Civil War, Trolling, Twitter 

Back in 2016, Twitter bannings mostly targeted Gamergaters who pissed off the Gamerghazi clique who have seized Twitter’s Orwellian-named “Trust & Safety Council,” as well as the occasional outright Neo-Nazi.

Now it seems to be extending beyond those groups to the entirety of the Alt Right, including the milquetoast Alt Lite, to NRx, and even the HBDsphere.

The past week has seen the following people banned from @jack’s playground:

(1) The philosopher Nick Land got banned for accelerating too damn hard. Pay my respects to Gnon, will you? (edit: He has since been unsuspended).

This was a particularly shocking development considering that his account has been consistently polite and non-aggressive and his ideology belongs to the milquetoast techno-commercialist, not ethnonationalist, wing of NRx.

outsideness-prole-genocide

(2) The entire core of #FrogTwitter, the irreverent band of archaeo-futurist cultural critics/trolls, for no discernible (non-political) reason. In particular:

@BronzeAgePerv, the nudist fascist bodybuilder who called to return to spirit of the Bronze Age, burn down the cities in fire, and deadlift our way to the Trumpenreich

He was recently featured in the Atlantic thanks to a trolling Moldbug.

bronzeageperv-point-of-twitter

He was evidently banned for terrifying the bugmen of Twitter with his excesses of unvarnished masculine energies.

@menaquinone4, author of the best tweet on the Internet.

menaquinone4-zucks-vision

> also your basic income determined by the social justice quotient of your social media posts and shares

But his deconstruction of the Derp State made him too woke for Twitter, especially when his humiliation of McMullin was RTed by Ann Coulter:

menaquinone4-derp-state

 

 

Egg McMuffin didn’t like that.

mcmuffin-vision

(3) @kantbot2000, the guy who believed Trump will make German Idealism Great Again, seems to have been shoahed too.

(4) Master of the Shiv @ChateauEmissary, second time round.

(5) Gamergate icon @Sargon_of_Akkad banned (then unbanned) once again, again for no discernible reason.

In retrospect, looks like @jokeocracy was prescient – he, at least, went out with the dignity of a literary suicide bomber.

Anyhow, it looks more and more obvious that they’re working off a list.

A few weeks ago, an anonymous poster who claimed to be a Twitter insider claimed there is a list of 700+ accounts slated for liquidation, and posted the 250 most prominent of them at /pol/.

Although there is no way to way to check his authenticity, assembling this list (especially of the already purged accounts) would have required considerable effort, especially just for a /pol/ shitpost. And it is striking that ALL of the subjects of Twitter’s recent bans have are in his Black Book. One might be a coincidence, two is suspicious, 5+ is a targeted purge.

I compiled that pollack’s separate images into one big image list at the bottom of the post.

For now, I will highlight some of the more prominent, intelligent, and/or amusing accounts whose days are probably numbered. Accounts that will be familiar to many Unz.com readers are bolded:

  • AnnCoulter herself (she is one of the 43 accounts that Trump follows, and incidentally, menaquinone4′s suspension was probably directly linked to her RT’ing his humiliation of Egg McMuffin).
  • Prison Planet
  • Cernovich (PRIORITY)
  • Gavin_McInnes
  • Sargon_of_Akkad (reverted)
  • StefanMolyneux
  • Ricky_Vaughn99 (banned)
  • RichardSpencer (reverted) – Unusual that he was let out, and even presented with a Verification badge.
  • ramzpaul (PRIORITY)
  • wesearchr (banned)
  • vdare (PRIORITY)
  • AmRenaissance (PRIORITY)
  • ReactionaryTree (banned)
  • TOOEdit (PRIORITY) – Kevin MacDonald. @occdissent is also on it.
  • Steve_Sailer – Julia Ioffe will have her revenge.
  • ChateauEmissary (banned) – For the second time.
  • WrathOfGnon – Really hope he keeps regular backups of his archives, this is arguably the best NRx account on Twitter.
  • altright_fanfic
  • BronzeAgePerv (PRIORITY) – Head of #frogtwitter, undisputed leader of the Alt Right, recently banned. Day of the Bronze Bull when?
  • kantbot2000 (PRIORITY) – Recently banned.
  • menaquinonone4 – Recently banned.
  • MatthewHeimbach (banned)
  • NathanDamigo (PRIORITY)
  • MillennialWoes (PRIORITY)
  • weimerica (PRIORITY)
  • hbdchick – Wow, just wow. Is RationalWiki also on the Twitter Trust & Safety Advisory Council?
  • henrydampier
  • Outsideness – Nick Land. Recently banned, unbanned.
  • MPCdot (PRIORITY)
  • DerbQOTD – Account that reposts Derbyshire’s content.
  • socialmattermag
  • Nick_B_Steves
  • HbdNrx (PRIORITY)

The million dollar question: Am I on the List?

dont-know

***


unkawaiipigdog-death-row

Where To Go From Here?

As Nick Land points out, Twitter is now an “undisguised leftist ideological operation” and there really is very little point in relying on it any further, at least for those who dabble in crimethink no matter how seemingly minor.

Alternatives:

  • Just log off and make blogging great again.
  • gab.ai is the popular to go platform, and Nick Land suggests minds.com. Alternatives to Twitter might be attractive now, but what happens if they become popular and draw corporate money? They would then be subject to the exact same forces propelling censorship on more established platforms.
  • Everybody in Russia is head over heels with Telegram. It was built by Pavel Durov, who is a serious crypto-anarchist, unlike @jack and Faceberg (Durov chose to give up control of Vkontakte instead of agreeing to cooperate with Russia’s intelligence services). If it’s good enough for ISIS recruiters, it’s probably a safe enough space for you.
  • Wait for Urbit?
  • Someone should create a social media/communications platform blockchain-based principles. This will probably be the only viable longterm solution as the Bilderbergers and Picus TV continue to extend their tentacles.

The List

twitter-hitlist

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Censorship, Twitter 

As far as I understand, Michael D. Weiss is one of those neocons who loves Guantanamo but has a special soft spot in his heart for those Muslims who happen to be fighting Russia or some other state that the US doesn’t like much. When he isn’t chumming it up with his jihadist pals in Syria (see below), he performs his role as the chief editor of The Interpreter – in theory, an “online journal dedicated primarily to translating media from the Russian press and blogosphere into English”; in practice, a publication that would be more aptly named The Interpreter of Novaya Gazeta, considered the open slant in its choice of which articles to translate and its consistently anti-Putin, pro-Western interventionist editorials.

michael-weiss-with-jihadists

Nonetheless, all translations are good. They are inherently neutral. This is why I wrote a letter to Weiss with a cooperation proposal, whose essence was to save both The Russian Spectrum and The Interpreter duplicating work while increasing the size of the content that we both offer. I did not think Weiss would accept and he failed to surprise to the upside. Which of course he was perfectly within his rights to decline. You’ll see no complaints whatsoever from me on that point.

But he wouldn’t let it go – and in fact later, started insisting that I was running around begging favors and threatening to publish my letter as he believed it would discredit me amongst my “Putinist chums” (which he eventually did). The conversations that resulted were not only illustrative of the neocon-Bolshevik like mentality of these people, but are also rather hilarious. It is for this reason that I’ve gathered them all together for the delectation of DR readers.

Note – There is nothing here that is not accessible to the public.

(1) It started when @CollenWinthrop posted the following episode:

1) On July 10th, while Edward Snowden was roving about the transit area of a Moscow Airport, Time Magazine’s Simon Shuster wrote an article that argued that Snowden “was taken soon after his arrival — if not immediately — to a secure location run by some arm of the Russian government.” On top of that, Shuster writes that Snowden was likely drugged by Russian officials so he can tell them what they want to know. Here is the article: http://world.time.com/2013/07/10/snowden-in-moscow-what-are-russian-authorities-doing-with-the-nsa-whistleblower/

2) Michael Weiss (the Russophobic psychopath of The Interpreter and Now Lebanon) promoted the article on his Twitter account:

{BTW, @shustry‘s report on what has likely happened to young Edward in Moscow is a must-read}

3) The article got bashed as propaganda and lies by many of the people on Time’s website and Shuster lambasted on his Twitter account, as a reply to Weiss’ acclaim:

{@michaeldweiss Thanks! the breadth of responses to this story has been amazing. From livid condemnation to your kind words. Both appreciated}

4) To which Weiss replied:

{@shustry Fuck ‘em. You know how the Cheka operates and you live there. Your stuff is consistently excellent.}

5) “Fuck ‘em”???????? Weiss is such an asshole. He cannot stand the truth, he prefers to fuck the truth instead.

(2) Conversation Number 1:

‏Anatoly Karlin @akarlin88
Account of how zhurnalizd @shustry neocon Bolshevik @michaeldweiss operate: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1rlnqop via @ColleenWinthrop
5:01 PM – 3 Aug 13

{Okay, not polite on my part. But honestly – that is not how Russia discussions work there, including (especially) those involving Weiss.}

Russian Truth ‏@RussianTruth1 3 Aug
@akarlin88 @shustry @michaeldweiss @ColleenWinthrop Russian hate is a paycheck to Weiss. His baby is Israel.

michaeldweiss ‏@michaeldweiss 3 Aug
@akarlin88 @shustry @colleenwinthrop Anatoly, you should relay the story of how you asked me for a publishing agreement.

Anatoly Karlin ‏@akarlin88 3 Aug
@michaeldweiss @shustry @ColleenWinthrop It was a cooperation proposal, not a request for a publishing agreement. Please don’t lie. First.

Anatoly Karlin ‏@akarlin88 3 Aug
@michaeldweiss @shustry @ColleenWinthrop Second, I don’t divulge personal correspondence in public.

michaeldweiss ‏@michaeldweiss 3 Aug
@akarlin88 @shustry @colleenwinthrop You asked to share our material. I can produce the email publicly if you like.

michaeldweiss ‏@michaeldweiss 3 Aug
@akarlin88 @shustry @colleenwinthrop Though I wouldn’t want to embarrass you in front of your friends who might find this very odd indeed.

michaeldweiss ‏@michaeldweiss 3 Aug
@akarlin88 @shustry No, you insult people and then hypocritically ask them for professional favors. At least you’ve a comic instinct.

Anatoly Karlin ‏@akarlin88 3 Aug
@michaeldweiss @shustry @ColleenWinthrop Go ahead LOL. There is nothing damning or even controversial there whatsoever.

Anatoly Karlin ‏@akarlin88 3 Aug
@michaeldweiss I was not asking you for a favor. And you are just about the last person who should be whining about online insults (wah wah)

michaeldweiss ‏@michaeldweiss 3 Aug
@akarlin88 Who’s whining? I enjoyed it thoroughly.

(3) Conversation Number 2:

Anatoly Karlin ‏@akarlin88
Just to clarify: My proposal to @Interpreter_Mag was a *sharing* agreement (so as to avoid duplicating effort). Nothing more, nothing less.
6:15 PM – 3 Aug 13

michaeldweiss ‏@michaeldweiss 3 Aug
@akarlin88 “A mutual listing of each other as partners on a partners or links page”. Partners = slightly more, actually.

Anatoly Karlin ‏@akarlin88 3 Aug
@michaeldweiss I view it as a glorified blogroll, personally – e.g. http://russianmind.com/content/partners …. Partners pages = more visitors, SEO for all.

4) Conversation Number 3:

Anatoly Karlin ‏@akarlin88 3 Aug
.@michaeldweiss refused. More power to him. Will create more work for both @Interpreter_Mag & @RussianSpectrum, but ultimately irrelvant.

michaeldweiss ‏@michaeldweiss
@akarlin88 Strange that you’d seek to collaborate with neocon Bolsheviks, no? Thought Putinists were made of tougher stuff.
6:20 PM – 3 Aug 13

Anatoly Karlin ‏@akarlin88 3 Aug
@michaeldweiss That is because you are a with-us-or-against-us Bolshevik. That is why it seems so strange to you.

michaeldweiss ‏@michaeldweiss 3 Aug
@akarlin88 :) I like your last few defensive tweets. Don’t worry, your chums won’t hold it against you. They can’t afford to.

(5) Conversation Number #4 (a month later, in response to a satirical tweet by Mark Adomanis)

Mark Adomanis ‏@MarkAdomanis
“WE NEED TO INTERVENE IN SYRIA BECAUSE THE JIHADISTS ARE SAD” – actual foreign policy analysts
7:36 PM – 31 Aug 13

michaeldweiss ‏@michaeldweiss 31 Aug
@MarkAdomanis Who is saying that?

Russian Truth ‏@RussianTruth1 31 Aug
@MarkAdomanis @hannahgarrard Add @michaeldweiss to that list. Jihadists, AIPAC, Likudites, Bilderbergers. Sad days pic.twitter.com/JWrIANajN0

Sol Robinson ‏@SolJewEgg 31 Aug
lolwut @RussianTruth1 @michaeldweiss @MarkAdomanis @hannahgarrard

michaeldweiss ‏@michaeldweiss 31 Aug
@SolJewEgg Imbeciles of the world, unite!

Sol Robinson ‏@SolJewEgg 31 Aug
Is russia ever going to stop being just a soul sucking abomination? @michaeldweiss

michaeldweiss ‏@michaeldweiss 31 Aug
@SolJewEgg What’s interesting to me is that Booz Allen keeps hiring accidents waiting to happen. Surely that is a conspiracy worth scrutiny.

Anatoly Karlin ‏@akarlin88 31 Aug
@michaeldweiss The same Booz Allen employee who demanded Russia send Snowden packing? http://darussophile.com/2013/06/25/mark-adomanis-do-as-us-officials-say-or-else/ … @SolJewEgg

michaeldweiss ‏@michaeldweiss 31 Aug
@akarlin88 Anatoly, privyet. Unfortunately, we are still not seeking a content-sharing agreement. Feel free to apply again next year. Xoxo.

Anatoly Karlin ‏@akarlin88 31 Aug
@michaeldweiss Stop trolling or publish the email as you said you would. Go ahead – everyone is waiting with baited breath.

Nick Nipclose ‏@NickNipclose 31 Aug
@Karlsson111 @michaeldweiss @SolJewEgg There’s no excuse for Chechen jihadism, they chose to support Islamist filth no one forced them.

… {discussion by other participants on Chechnya}

Sol Robinson ‏@SolJewEgg 31 Aug
@NickNipclose @Karlsson111 @michaeldweiss Russia’s brutal repression didn’t help anyone

… {more Chechnya discussion… check the link to Twitter convo if you’re really interested}

Anatoly Karlin ‏@akarlin88 31 Aug
Oh noes @michaeldweiss BLOCKED me. wah wah wah. Whatever shall I do now?!? cc @MarkAdomanis @RussianTruth1 @SolJewEgg @hannahgarrard

Sol Robinson ‏@SolJewEgg
Lol russian propagandist. @akarlin88 @michaeldweiss @MarkAdomanis @RussianTruth1 @hannahgarrard

michaeldweiss ‏@michaeldweiss 31 Aug
@SolJewEgg Karlin is my aspiring professional partner. Hell hath no fury like a Putinist scorned.

Hannah Garrard ‏@hannahgarrard 31 Aug
@akarlin88 Join the club. I got blocked by him for criticising Al-Qaida. @michaeldweiss @MarkAdomanis @RussianTruth1 @SolJewEgg

Russian Truth ‏@RussianTruth1 31 Aug
@hannahgarrard @akarlin88 @michaeldweiss @MarkAdomanis @SolJewEgg For criticizing Al Qaeda? Did he take it personally?!

(6) The publication of my email (1, 2, 3, 4)

Anatoly Karlin ‏@akarlin88 31 Aug
I see @michaeldweiss continues to twist the contents of my email to him in public. This leaves me with no option but to publish it myself.

michaeldweiss ‏@michaeldweiss
@akarlin88 Don’t worry, Anatoly. I shall publish it now.

michaeldweiss ‏@michaeldweiss
‏@michaeldweiss Anatoly Karlin’s request to partner with The Interpreter — evidently this meant more to him than it did to (cont) http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1rm7dhg

michaeldweiss ‏@michaeldweiss
@akarlin88 Here you go, sweetpea. Happy blogging: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1rm7dhg

(7) The damning email that will meant so much more to me than to him – in which case, why was Michael Weiss the one ranting on about it the entire time?

Anatoly Karlin’s request to partner with The Interpreter — evidently this meant more to him than it did to us:

Dear Michael Weiss/Interpreter Staff,

It is great to see you making translations of the Russian press available for a wider audience. Regardless of one’s political views, that is an unquestionably positive and effective means of fostering more informed views and dialog on Russian politics and society.

As it happens, I have a similar project at The Russian Spectrum (though it is more narrowly focused just on the translation activity). Also, to allay any concerns, it was not created to compete with The Interpreter (I had first publicly written of my intention to do such a project last September, that is, way before The Interpreter’s launch date).

Since we share a common interest in presenting “English Inosmi” services, I would like to propose a partnership or cooperation agreement to avoid needlessly duplicating work and expanding the range of translated pieces we both offer.

Here are two proposals for your consideration:

(1) A sharing agreement in which we agree to republish a number (e.g. 5?) of translations per week from each other’s site. The original translators will, of course, be credited on both sites.

(2) A mutual listing of each other as partners on a partners or links page.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forwards to hearing from you on what you think of this.

Best,
Anatoly Karlin.

Hope you’ve had fun reading through this and made it through without an aneurysm! ;)

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

Riding on the apathy of the masses, crony Communists rig the elections in a small, corrupt post-Soviet backwater to retain their iron grip on power. But their dastardly plans to crush democracy and draw benighted Moldova back into the Eurasian darkness are foiled by the heroic students of Chisinau.

Inspired by their boudiccan (and photogenic) figurehead Natalia Morari, heroine of past struggles against corrupt authoritarianism, they flutter out into the city center and Tweet their nation back into the light of Western iCivilization, toppling the old guard under a colorful cascade of fruits and flowers.

This is the kitschy Western narrative of color revolutions, in which electronic networking technologies marry the springtime national aspirations of peoples suppressed by corrupt satraps from Muscovy to produce a verdant and fertile liberal democracy – Atlantean outpost and bulwark against Eastern tyranny.

Yet one would have to wear rose-tinted spectacles (or read fantastic literature to excess) to subscribe to this interpretation. The Rose Revolution in Georgia withered away and died under the chill of Saakashvili’s quasi-authoritarian rule and the heat of aggressive war against Russia in summer 2008. Meanwhile, the Orange Revolution putrefied into mush, succumbing to the sickly moist of endemic chaos, corruption and economic decline that characterized Ukraine after 2005.

A dispassionate analysis of the “Grape Revolution” in Moldova reveals that its fruit was rotten from the beginning.

The Centrality of Romanian Nationalism in the Moldovan Opposition

Although it is true that many of the protesters were genuinely disaffected university students and migrants, it is also clear that certain elements were Romanian nationalists, liberast provocateurs and common hooligans.

The three parties which won 35% of the vote have a “distinct nationalistic flavor”, according to Natalia Sineaeva-Pankowska writing in Moldova: Torn between the Communists and the far right1. The nationalists criticize the Communist plans to revise ethnic Romanian-centered history textbooks to better reflect Moldova’s multi-ethnic identity and extend the Holocaust interpretations taught in schools to include the role of Romanian collaboration, from its current limitation to the “German extermination of Jews and Roma”. They favor closer ties to and reunification with Romania.

The intensely pro-Romanian Ghimpu is known as an admirer of fascist dictator Ion Antonescu and notorious for his remark on a Turkic, Orthodox ethnic minority within Moldova – “Gagauzians are the ulcers on a body of the Moldovan people”. They are supported by the newspapers Timpul and Journal de Chisinau, which are known to have given platforms to Greater Romania nationalists and Holocaust deniers.

The other main opposition leader, Filat, has a not unimpressive reputation as the biggest thief in Moldova. He was involved in major scandals surrounding privatization of wine factories, aircraft sales and cigarette smuggling from Moldova to Romania 2.

There is also a theory pieced together in Moon of Alabama that the protests were just the simulacrum of an oligarchic power struggle between President Voronin and the Romanian-supported tycoon Anatol Stati 3. His Moldova-based company, ASCOM Group, reaped a 2bn $ fortune drilling for oil in Kazakhstan but now stands accused of concealing income from Romania- and Turkmenistan-related businesses and violating UN sanctions against Sudan. Incidentally, most of ASCOM’s business is run through Tristan Oil, which resides in the British Virgin Islands tax haven. However, the aforementioned Timpul newspaper claims that the Voronin clan is simply trying to usurp Stati’s business 4.

The second man in Tristan Oil is Artur Lungu, who has extensive connections with Anglo-American democracy and transparency promotion organizations such as USAID, the Soros Foundation and the John Smith Memorial Trust. Anatol Stati’s son, Gabriel, has important ties with young and Romanian nationalist organizations and called the people to vote against the Communists in the elections; he was recently arrested in Ukraine on a Moldovan extradition request 5.

The Role of Moldova’s Twittering Classes

This is the fundamental dilemma – we are facing a struggle between populist Communists and populist nationalists, many of whom are illiberal and corrupt. But what about the likes of Morari, who claimed she only expected 300 people to turn up and disavowed violence – are these original Twittering protesters pure?

It is hard to contain cynicism. As Daniel McAdams points out in Moldova’s Twitter Revolution: Made in America?6, Moldova is the poorest country in Europe – furthermore, only 16% of the population has Internet access 7. Where did the Twitter-compatible iPhones and technical training come from?

They are the legacy of US-funded NGO’s operating in the post-Soviet space. One of the leading youth movements committed to overthrowing the Communists is the Hyde Park organization, whose website is hosted by the Internet Access Training Program – funded by the US State Department through the Freedom Support Act. Furthermore, USAID – for whom the aforementioned Lungu worked – openly funnels generous amounts of money through “cut-out organizations like the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute” for programs such as Strengthening Democratic Political Activism in Moldova – “cultivating new political activists who can formulate and pursue concrete political objectives…”.

There are many ongoing discussions on the blogosphere about the role Twitter player and about how “spontaneous” the protests really were. Daniel Bennet in The Myth of the Twitter Revolution8 wrote that Moldova’s Twittering class was only 200 strong and analyzing its feed at the time did not indicate that it played any organizational role. Furthermore, he quotes Morari to support his point: “Six people. 10 minutes for creativity and action. A few hours of information on networks, facebook, blogs, SMS to friends and e-mail newsletter. All of the organization – through the Internet.”

Evgeny Morozov, creator of the “Twitter Revolution” theme 9, in later essays acknowledged that although it played a very minor part in the planning of the protests it was crucial to creating and sustaining Western interest in events in Moldova 10 – because so many Westerners themselves used Twitter, it needed very few Moldovans at ground zero to get the #pman11 flood started. Once that happened it took on a life of its own and ignited a continuous stream of user-generated content on LiveJournals, blogs and popular social-networking sites that soon seeped into the Western mainstream media.

Are the “Liberals” Really Liberals – or are they Liberasts12?

Although a fascinating discussion, the above misses the forest for the trees – the real question is whether or not the original “liberal” protesters intended their little protest to conflagrate into a mass bunt culminating in the storming of Parliament. It is important to keep in mind that Morozov is a former “trainer” for various “civil society” outfits in the use of new electronic technologies to mobilize and actively supports the policy of color revolutions.

On meeting the activist Oleg Brega, he approvingly remarked on his “almost uncanny ability to rely on the Internet (as well as mobile and video technologies) to bring public attention to his causes”13. The example he gave? “A typical Brega stunt: provoking the Moldovan police to arrest him and have someone capture this on video and then republish to YouTube”, followed by a hyperlink to those “video provocations”.

Furthermore, Oleg Brega is a proud member of the aforementioned Hyde Park organization, which is headed by Gheorghe Brega, a Romanian citizen 14 and member of Ghimpu’s Liberal Party. The front page of its website features a diatribe against “Bolshevik tyranny” by the historian Iacob Golovca 15, who is “President of the Civic Association for the Abolition of the Consequences of Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact”. Dr. Golovca is a Romanian ultra-nationalist 16 – he refers to Moldova by its old regional name of Bessarabia and calls for its return into “Romania’s bosom”, without the “gangrenous germ” of Transnistria which is to be “amputated”. Antonescu is a “martyr and hero of all Romanians!”, Russians are the tyrannous, perennial enemies of the Romanian people and he hates Ukraine too.

Oleg Brega, Natalia Morari and several others, all seemingly part of a core group, were the original organizers. They argue that they did not expect more than a few hundred people to show up; some commentators, like Nancy Scola 17, believe that the protests metastasized because those who got #pman spread the message ever wider into the social net. She makes the comparison with how an initially low-key house party, without effective face control, can erupt into an epic rager ending with the police busting the place. They too are now threatened with arrest.

Party animals of Chisinau.

Party animals of Chisinau.

From the above, it appears that Mr. Brega is like an onion – a liberal skin, a liberast interior and a Romanian nationalist core. He was trained for revolution and very likely the other members of the “core group” were too. Furthermore, once you get a critical mass of people into the streets using social media like Twitter to connect key players (or nodes, in network jargon), your work is done and the rest falls into place. It is then time to shift gears and start denying culpability – which is what Morari and Co. are now concentrating on.

This is not to say that they are necessarily guilty of “calls for organizing and staging mass disturbances”, as the Moldovan authorities allege – but we should not give them a free get out of jail card either.

The Geopolitics behind the “Twitter Revolution”

Moldova’s geopolitical priorities are to consolidate its multi-ethnic society and resist encroachment from Romania and Russia. The first means it has to satisfy internal ethnic minorities like the Gagauz in the south, a Turkic Orthodox people enjoying an autonomous status within the country, and draw Russo-Ukrainian Transnistria back into the fold. Although Transnistria has just 0.6mn people to 3.4mn in the rest of Moldova, it is also its richest and most industrialized region.

There are growing social forces in Moldova seeking reunification with Romania for nationalist reasons and as an easy path to EU membership. Already between 10% and 20% of Moldovans have Romanian, and by extension EU, passports. The fear of Romanian expansionism frightens Transnistria away from reconciliation, while the “Kosovo precedent” gives its arguments for independence more weight 18.

On objective criteria Transnistria has a much better case for independence than Kosovo and indeed any of the other small, post-Soviet quasi-states, according to Michael Averko 19. Historically it was never under Moldovan control, suffered 2000 casualties from a Moldovan attempt to reassert control in the early 1990′s and its people overwhelmingly voted for independence in free referanda 20. Further undercutting its portrayal as a kleptocratic Stalinist holdover, the British Helsinki Human Rights Group believes it to be better off than Moldova proper.

The rule of President Voronin was characterized by geopolitical dithering between West and East. Although seen as pro-Moscow upon first being elected, he opposed Moscow’s settlement plans for the breakaway region of Transnistria in 2003 21 and shifted West, declining to attend the 60th anniversary to the victory over Nazism in Moscow in 2005, dropping support for the Common Economic Space (a proposed free trade zone in some countries of the former USSR) and focusing more on Euro-Atlantic integration.

Recently analysts perceived a tilt back to Moscow – either as part of a grand strategy to get attention from the West to its Transnistrian problem or over genuine fears about Romanian encroachment and what it would mean for the eventual resolution of the Transnistria Question.

(Answer: if Moldova takes an overtly Western direction, permanently wave goodbye to any prospect of a confederation between the two 22). Incidentally, this coincided with the souring of the Rose and Orange revolutions and the Western recognition of Kosovar independence.)

How Much was the West Involved?

The major motive for a Western push to topple Voronin is to reverse their recent geopolitical setbacks across the Eurasian periphery and send a message to Moscow. Although the Obama administration ostensibly aims to “reset” relations with Russia, this does not mean it has dropped its longterm geopolitical objective of pre-empting the rise of a Eurasian hegemon.

We must not forget that Obama’s foreign police advisors include Zbigniew Brzezinski (a latter-day proponent of the “Promethean project” to break up the Russian Empire, whose intellectual ancestor is the Polish interwar dictator Piłsudski) and many Clintonian liberal interventionists. That said, unlike in the Baltic “popular fronts” or the Orange Revolution, direct US involvement in Moldova was probably non-existent.

Firstly, as mentioned above Voronin is not unqualifiedly pro-Moscow. He is a rational opportunist, tilting to whichever side will best serve the national (and perhaps more importantly, the personal) interest. From his perspective, Russia can provide a short-term degree of political and financial cover that the West is unwilling or powerless to. Trying to overthrow, or appearing to try to overthrow, guys like him can produce dangerous blowback. Uzbekistan cardinally changed its geopolitical orientation from the US to Russia after the bloodbath in Andijan. Further afield, Chávez only became firmly anti-American after the failure of the CIA-backed coup against him in 2002.

Secondly, Ukraine and Georgia were humiliating failures and probably made the Americans think twice before giving one-sided support to revolutionary movements, especially those incorporating unsavory nationalist elements. Hopefully US foreign policy is no longer hijacked by the neo-con / Soros liberal agenda to push their vision of democracy on countries and peoples that don’t care for it.

Finally, if a color revolution really had been in the works then OSCE wouldn’t have declared the elections “free and fair”, thus invalidating a vital moral prerequisite for a revolution. Therefore the Baroness (Emma) Nicholson’s complaints that it was “difficult to endorse the very warm press statement” should be taken with a pinch of salt – particularly since immediately after, she says, “The problem was that it was an OSCE report, and in the OSCE are, of course, the Russians, and their view was quite different, quite substantially different, for example from my own”. OK.

Perhaps she was upset that they had missed an opportunity to undermine a fickle ally in favor of the young, pro-Western and colorful protesters? Or maybe she was genuinely distraught over how they did not properly voice their “very, very strong feeling” that the election was flawed (which indeed it probably was – exit polls suggested the Communists should have gotten 45% instead of 50%, three members of the Electoral Commission resigned and the Communists agreed to a recount)?

It’s hard to say given the degree of opacity in all this, but one thing we can all agree on is the irony of a Baroness expounding on democratic procedures.

Are the Communists really so unpopular and anti-democratic?

Some commentators sought to portray the Moldovan Communists as dinosaurs who hate change and democracy, and are only supported by an aging sheeple brainwashed by vodka and “sovok” propaganda. This is an admittedly an exaggerated characterization – but I think it captures what many commentators feel. Unsurprisingly, it is very inaccurate.

Firstly, all the major organizations that purport to “measure” democracy disagree with this assessment. The Polity IV project, which comprehensively tracks global democracy trends since the Second World War, gave Moldova a score of 8 on a scale of -10 to 10 in 2007, qualifying it as a proper electoral democracy – for comparison, ethnocratic Estonia got a 6.

The Economist Democracy Index believes it to be a “flawed democracy”, much like neighboring Romania, and even the notoriously compromised Freedom House believes it is something better than “Not Free”. According to human rights activist Andrei Kalikh, Moldova “is at once the most democratic CIS country and the only one where the Communists hold power”23.

Secondly, the Communists “made significant inroads into young age cohorts for the first time in these elections”, according to Vladimir Socor 24 – as the “sociologist Arcadie Barbarosie (head of the Soros Foundation’s local affiliate) observes, the Communist Party can no longer be stereotyped as a “pensioners’” or Soviet-nostalgics’ party”.

Thirdly, the Communists are becoming more competent and sophisticated at campaigning. The incumbent government, “predominantly of technical experts”, makes a strong contrast to the “opposition-dominated Chisinau Municipal Council, a scene of chaos and nepotism”.

Fourthly, it steers a shrewd line between long-term European aspirations, on which there is a national consensus, and preserving Russian goodwill. The latter is good for both the national interest (financial reasons and resolution of the Transnistria Question) and political expediency (it draws Russophone votes and interestingly, Putin and Medvedev have the highest approval ratings of any politician in Moldova).

Fifthly, there remain concerns over the authorities’ reaction to seemingly manipulated election results and the heavy-handed crackdown on protesters. Regarding the former, use of “administrative resources” from all sides is an unfortunate but accepted political practice throughout the post-Soviet space and the Communists would have won decisively whether their real popular mandate was 45% or 50%. And it would seem obvious that any democratic state would react very harshly to a violent insurrection against the constitutional order.

Finally, there is a certain tone of arrogance and condescension in the language some commentators use to condemn Communist supporters, repeatedly emphasizing how they tend to be rural, older and less-educated 25. Forget the implied elitism and ageism and ask yourself – why are so many Moldovans really voting for the Communists?

For all the above reasons, and more. Let a Moldovan tell it in her own words – from the translation of a comment posted to Natalia Morari’s blog 26 featured on the blog Scraps of Moscow27:

so who voted for the Communists? A bunch of grandmas and old ladies…and? Riiiiight, lots of our parents… if the people who are now shouting out in the main square could have convinced their parents not to vote for the Communists, then maybe they wouldn’t have won?

But this raises two questions:

1) Who should they have voted for?
2) How can they be convinced otherwise? Yesterday I was talking with my mother, she is retired and receives a pension, just like my father… but he still goes to work, he teaches at a university, so he’s a state employee… anyway, I asked her, “Why did you vote for the Communists?”

She answered, “They increased my pension.”

I told her, that this was at the expense of the youth, and let’s imagine that she told me she didn’t care, her own children are overseas and she’s in Moldova, she has to think about herself.

In years past part of our heating bill was paid by the city government, but now Chirtoaca [a prominent opposition politician and Mayor of Chisinau] fell out with the heating utility company, and we have to pay the whole amount.”

Even though I know that the Communists were also involved in this conflict, it’s hard to argue with the much higher heating bills…

Before the Communists came to power I was afraid to go outside, but now things are stable in the country, there is less crime…”

I have to agree with this, although I can’t say I’d let my kids outside alone even now…

A bunch of other reasons…”

And it’s not so important why they voted for the Communists, what matters is that no one was able to convince them otherwise and no one gave them another worthy choice instead…

And now, when parents see their children out on the square, they will be even more firmly on the side of the Communists, I won’t bother to write why, it’s obvious…

This is a very good illustration of the generational divide between older, state-dependent people and their migrant sons and daughters – and the misunderstandings and acrimony arising from it.

The Geopolitical Fallout

The Communists have the situation firmly in control – there will almost certainly be no revolution, grape, Twitter or durian. A simple recount will achieve nothing because the main issue relates to how many “dead souls” voted.

Furthermore, even if the government answers calls for new elections, any popular sympathy the protesters may have gained from Communist abuse of “administrative resources” will have been incinerated in the fires that engulfed Chisinau on April 7.

The Communists will harden towards the Romanian nationalists and will distance themselves from the Atlanticists. Although Washington did not play a direct role, the Communists cannot be comfortable with the legacy of motivated, technologically savvy youth movements / liberast fifth columnists (cross out as you will) the Western NGO’s left behind.

President Saakashvili in Georgia is facing a dangerous challenge from the opposition which may soon culminate in counter-revolution 28; the Orange legacy in Ukraine is already largely discredited and can only continue on its path to oblivion as the social effects of Ukraine’s economic Depression make themselves felt. It is probably no longer far-fetched to talk of a “Great Split” in Ukraine between its antagonistic western and eastern parts.

In this context of rapidly expanding Russian influence over the former Soviet Union, it is a safe prediction that Moldova will move closer to Russia. It would offer increased political security from revolution – be it private, Romanian or US instigated. There may also be hope for Russian financial assistance amidst the economic turbulence – remittances from Moldovans abroad, which formerly made up 25%-40% of Moldovan GDP, are now falling rapidly as they lose jobs in Russia and Europe.

Finally, it offers a path to a compromise on the Transnistria Question – most likely, in the form of a neutral confederation which would shield Moldova from Romanian nationalism and allow it to profit from bridging the economic gap between Europe and Eurasia. Already on April 11, Voronin met the Transnistrian leader Igor Smirnov for the first time since 2001 29.

Building Enclaves of Empathy

In a normal society, most people are going to be more or less moderate. Since we are forced to interact with people holding a wide spectrum of views on a daily basis, our own beliefs are subjected to a constant Bayesian barrage. This leads to mental adjustment and calibration to the norm.

The Internet, cell phones, interactive social media, etc – call it the ubiweb – allows one to filter the circle of “friends” they communicate with, to just those who share their positions. Since people are fundamentally conformist (of course they are – even ignoring Milgram et al., society would otherwise be populated by extremists), their attitudes will harden to conform more closely with those held within that circle. Contrary to the dreams of cyber-utopians that the information highway will lead humanity into a new age of transparency, freedom and enlightenment, many will simply imprison themselves within “enclaves of extremism”30.

The mainstream media should stop glamorizing the photogenic fakery of the iGeneration in Moldova with odes to their supposedly selfless drive to spread democracy over the ubiweb. Instead, we must focus on resolving the far more human misunderstandings leading to heavy-handed authoritarianism and revolutionary extremism. In Moldova’s case I suspect it is the lack of inter-generational respect between “sovoks” and “orphans”, which manifests itself in tensions over the Moldovan and the Romanian identity, between Eurasia and the Atlantic and between likeness and similarity.

We should try to foster dialog between the disaffected students and migrants, and pensioners and state workers. Meanwhile, nationalist liberasts, neo-Soviet authoritarians and cynical mercenaries fomenting revolution in the service of geopolitical agendas should be universally rejected – and instead encouraged to build enclaves of empathy with the people instead of brooding in enclaves of extremism.

In Stephen King’s techno-horror novel Cell, a rogue virus transmitted across the global cell phone network turns most of humanity into “flocks” of homicidal zombies. Whenever we abandon all skepticism and refuse to question everything, we become them – a soulless flock Tweeting terror and destruction.

References

11 Code to gather at Piata Marii Adunari Nationale, the square in the capital Chisinau.

12 From Wikipedia: “Liberast (Russian: Либераст, portmanteau of liberal and pederast) is a neologism in the Russian language. Ideological cliché, exclusively used by authors with malicious attitude to neoliberal reforms in Russia or to the methods these reforms were implemented. The word bears an overt pejorative connotation.” I use it to refer to people masquerading as “liberals” while using illiberal or dishonest means or pursuing illiberal ends.

24 http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=34821&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=60102286c5

25 I suspect many of them are those who took offense at Obama’s comment on how small-town Americans cling to guns and religion.

30 http://bostonreview.net/BR34.2/morozov.php

This was also kindly published on Johnson’s Russia List and republished at Guardian-PSJ.

(Reprinted from Sublime Oblivion by permission of author or representative)
 
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

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

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

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