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"Ivan K"
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    There is a certain Russian expression: "Москва — не Россия" (i.e. Moscow, isn't Russia), to denote the idea that while the capital may be rich, at least by Russian standards, the rest of the country languishes in grinding poverty. This is a trope is frequently taken up by the Western media, which at times presents...
  • Related to Moscow’s relation to the rest of the country, in what sense do you, Karlin, use the term empire (as in “Russia’s Sisyphean Loop”)?

    I was wondering: Is it a country where the ruling class is culturally and/or ethnically different from many governed peoples? I’m not convinced that’s true in case of the Russian “empire.” Is it a state reigning over culturally diverse lands? That’s a trivial, a common characteristic. Is it a system that organises its own growth? Maybe!

    I would like it spelled out for my translation. Not providing some kind of explanation of a key & controversial term isn’t layman reader friendly.

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  • Dear readers, As you're probably aware, the site was down for much of the past week. The lowdown is that the old blog, Sublime Oblivion, was infected by a nasty pharma hack that destroyed its SEO ratings. There was however a silver lining, in that it allowed me to carry out a reorganization that I've...
  • @Ivan K
    Welcome back.
    I'm in the middle of translating Russia’s Sisyphean Loop. Can you please call me by email to talk about it?

    You can’t access my e-mail address? It is [email protected] mail ru

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  • Welcome back.
    I’m in the middle of translating Russia’s Sisyphean Loop. Can you please call me by email to talk about it?

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    You can't access my e-mail address? It is [email protected] mail ru
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  • A few weeks back Navalny brought my attention to this lovely song extolling Putin's achievements by Tolibjon Kurbankhanov, a Tajik singer from Dushanbe. Navalny exhorts his minions to spread this clip far and wide. The writing between the lines is obvious. His reasons aren't nice and altruistic, but utterly insidious, playing on xenophobia towards Central...
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Thank you for the explanation Jen!

    What I find interesting is that the political views of people like Ron Paul which are now regarded as fringe were once upon a time the conservative mainstream. Robert Taft who was the Senator for Ohio in the 1940s and early 1950s and who was widely acknowledged to be the intellectual leader of the Republican party (he very nearly became the Republican presidential candidate in 1952) had views on foreign and domestic policy that were in all essentials the same as those of Ron Paul today. No one in those days would have called Robert Taft a maverick. Indeed the idea would have struck people as absurd. In 1957 Robert Taft was even named one of the greatest US Senators of all time.

    The argument that fascism and socialism are both simply aspects of a belief in the strong state are the themes of Hayek's Road to Serfdom, which I read for the first time a few months ago. That book was of course written in 1944 when right wing conservatives like Hayek were politically very much on the defensive and were looking for ways to distance capitalism from fascism. It is actually a very bizarre idea, which has been refuted many times and doing so here would require far more time and space than is available in a comment on this blog. All I would say is that it is precisely because this idea is so bizarre that those who hold it are obliged to invent or distort historical facts in the way that Lew Rockwell does in his article when discussing Mussolini. Hayek by the way also does this on a spectacular scale in Road to Serfdom, which doesn't however seem to worry the many fans of this book or the Nobel Prize Committee that awarded Hayek the Nobel Prize.

    Let me just make it clear I didn’t mean that there was no government in the age of Pericles. I was writing a longer sentence, then deleted from it imperfectly.

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  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Yalensis,

    That is exactly right. An individual like Mussolini might switch from being a socialist to being a fascist. In fact that kind of movement by individuals from sort of movement to another is common. However large scale political movements like the fascist or socialist or communist or liberal movements are rooted in the social groups or classes whose interests they represent.

    Dear Alexander ,

    Thanks for posting on Craig Murray’s blog, it is through you that I discovered this great place!

    You said: “In fact that kind of movement by individuals from sort of movement to another is common. However large scale political movements like the fascist or socialist or communist or liberal movements are rooted in the social groups or classes whose interests they represent.”

    I have two observations:
    First, my unsystematic reading of history and current affairs suggests to me that mass switches of low-status social groups from Socialist to nationalistic/fascistic, is fairly common. Germany in the 1930s and France in the last few decades, and the Socialists at the beginning of WW1, are examples off the top of the head.
    Second, to say that ‘class structure is a basic social reality’ is simply an ideological view. “Basic” in this claim suggests to me that the speaker doesn’t want to consider an alternative. I see is nothing in the character of societies that clearly suggests that they have one basis and not another.

    (Your earlier point on the way Mussolini came to power is true, of course.)

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  • @yalensis
    Thanks, @Jen, for clarification of Rockwell’s ridiculous ideas. I guess you could say that every "ism" sees the social struggle in a different way: Marxism says every modern human society is based on the class struggle (capitalists vs. workers). Feminism says society is based on the struggle between men and women. Randites (like Ron Paul) say society is a struggle between big-government bureaucrats vs individuals. Of all the ideologies, the Randites are the most ludicrous. We know that a proletarian government is possible, because we had the Soviet Union. (Some people might say it was horrible, but at least it was physically possible.) Most people could even envision a government run entirely by females. But nobody could ever prove or point to anything in human history that would indicate people could get by for even five minutes without any government whatsoever! And with human societies and economies becoming ever more complex, governments also must become bigger and more complex. Hence, the Randites are just silly utopians with no hope of ever implementing their ideas.

    Yalensis,

    You said “But nobody could ever prove or point to anything in human history that would indicate people could get by for even five minutes without any government whatsoever!”

    But no, it’s a plain fact that peoples have lived without a government or state for centuries! It has happened in ancient Greece, in the age of Pericles, and in some parts of Europe during the Early Middle Ages.
    ……………..
    “We might say Western Civilization began around 550, but there was no significant structure of public authority until almost 1050, with no state at all over the preceding two centuries, 850-1050.”

    http://www.carrollquigley.net/Lectures/The-State-of-Communities-AD-976-1576.htm

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  • @yalensis
    Thanks, @alexander, your refutation of Ivan's argument was much better than anything I could have come up with, not being as knowledgeable in Italian history. I just want to make one point: that INDIVIDUALS are free to move around ideologically and even switch their class allegiances (like Mussolini did, when he transitioned from socialist to fascist). But none of that changes the basic reality underlying human society, that society is divided into different economic classes who come into conflict with each other, fighting for their proportional slice of the pie. Ideologically aware people might feel called upon to take sides in the class struggle, just like people takes sides in a football match. Generally, the adherents of fascist ideologies tend to be the well-to-do or privileged elite of a given society, but there is nothing preventing some random worker or intellectual (or even a street bum) from signing up to promote the cause of the wealthy elite. Humans are complicated, and so is reality!

    It’s not my argument, Yalensis! I took pains to make that clear.

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    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Ivan K,

    You are right that it was not your argument! I am sure I speak for everyone if I welcome you to this blog.

    On the subject of social groups undertaking a mass change of political allegiance, I think that is actually very rare. It is for example a myth that the German working class went over to the Nazis. In fact what actually happened in the elections between 1930 and 1933 is that German workers who had previously voted for the Social Democrats were transferring in increasing numbers to the Communists and not to the Nazis. In other words the German working class vote remained solidly socialist but as workers became more radicalised over the course of the Depression they shifted from the moderate left to the extreme left. I once intended to write a study of German elections during this period so this is something that I have some knowledge of.

    I am less familiar with the situation in France. I know it is often said that former Communist voters in France have now switched to the National Front but I was once told that this was untrue. Without more knowledge I don't want to commit myself one way or another. I think it is more likely that left wing voters who formerly voted Communist now vote for the French Socialist Party.

    Overall though I would say that the basic point I made before holds true. This is that once political movements become consolidated in society and come to represent particular social groups it is rare for those groups to change their allegiance. Having said this all human affairs are subject to change and as society changes so do political allegiances.

    , @yalensis
    Sorry for the misunderstanding, Ivan. I am very much enjoying this ideological discussion that we are having.
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  • @yalensis
    I guess there may be some "liberal fascists" out there somewhere, but not the kind that Goldberg was talking about. His ridiculous premise is that socialists and fascists are one and the same, in other words there is no difference between a Mussolini, on the one hand, and a Lenin, on the other.
    Again, this is a ridiculous, a-historical argument. People like Mussolini/Hitler represented the interests of the capitalist class (especially big finance capital). I don't care if they called themselves "socialists", or what they called themselves, their class basis was completely different from that of real socialists, who are based on trade unions and the labour movement. Real socialists represent the interests of people who don’t have a lot of money, which is why real socialists very rarely come to power, except in extraordinary circumstances.
    BTW, conflating fascism and communism is an old parlor-game performed by bourgeois ideologists who try to "prove" that any system other than liberal free-market capitalism inevitably leads to totalitarian tyrrany. Showing superficial similarities in fascist and communist forms of government (for example, both systems use a secret police, both systems censor the press, etc.) without delving into the basic distinctions of economic foundations, is as silly as trying to “prove” that dolphins are the same as fish, because they have fins and swim in the ocean.
    It is just another commentary on the sad state of American education that an idiot like Goldberg can be considered an “intellectual” within his society.

    Yalensis, I’m typically a fence-sitter on issues concerning the relationships between various -isms. Here is a more articulate free marketeer’s perspective:

    “[Fascism] There can be no question of its origins. It is tied up with the history of post-World War I Italian politics. In 1922, Benito Mussolini won a democratic election and established fascism as his philosophy. Mussolini had been a member of the socialist party.

    All the biggest and most important players within the fascist movement came from the socialists. It was a threat to the socialists because it was the most appealing political vehicle for the real-world application of the socialist impulse. Socialists crossed over to join the fascists en masse. [....]
    In reviewing the history of the rise of fascism, Flynn wrote:
    “One of the most baffling phenomena of fascism is the almost incredible collaboration between men of the extreme Right and the extreme Left in its creation. The explanation lies at this point. Both Right and Left joined in this urge for regulation. The motives, the arguments, and the forms of expression were different but all drove in the same direction. And this was that the economic system must be controlled in its essential functions and this control must be exercised by the producing groups.”
    ………………….
    [ You mentioned 'real socielists'. I'm afraid it may have entered the zone of "no true Scotsman" fallacy. ]
    ………………….
    “………It is for all these reasons that fascism takes on a right-wing cast. It doesn’t attack fundamental bourgeois values. It draws on them to garner support for a democratically backed all-round national regimentation of economic control, censorship, cartelization, political intolerance, geographic expansion, executive control, the police State, and militarism.
    For my part, I have no problem referring to the fascist program as a right-wing theory, even if it does fulfill aspects of the left-wing dream. The crucial matter here concerns its appeal to the public and to the demographic groups ………
    … [W]e’ve already seen how a left-wing socialist program can adapt itself and become a right-wing fascist program with very little substantive change other than its marketing program.”

    http://lewrockwell.com/rockwell/fascist-threat192.html

    Cheers,

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    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Ivan K.,

    I don't know who this Llewellyn Rockwell is but his article is full of gross historical errors and is completely unreliable. For example he says that Mussolini won a democratic election and that most fascists had their origins in Italian socialist politics. Both these claims are completely untrue. Mussolini never won a democratic election or even came close to doing so and only seized power as a result of what was effectively a coup (the so called March on Rome) in which he was backed by the King. As for the claim that most fascists had previously been socialists, that is quite simply untrue. Mussolini was a socialist until he was expelled from the socialist party for calling for Italy to become involved in the First World War but he was very much the exception amongst the fascists most of whom were originally conservative right wing middle class nationalists. If you want a proper picture of Italian fascism there are many good books now but you could start with those by Denis MacSmith or a new cultural history of fascism called Modernism and Fascism by Roger Griffin.

    On more general points, despite repeated claims to the contrary that have been made ever since the start of the Cold War there was nothing remotely socialist about European fascism in the interwar years whilst the similarities that some claim to find between Soviet Communism and German Nazism on careful examination prove illusory. The theory, practice and ideology of Communism and Nazism/Fascism were completely different. The literature on this question is enormous and impossible to summarise here.

    I would say that (pace Yalensis) Goldberg, though an intellectually ridiculous figure, seems to me from a distance more concerned with attacking Democrats, liberals and the anti war movement in the US than he is in making comparisons between socialists and fascists. Any claims about the supposed similarities of socialists and fascists that he makes appear to me largely incidental to this agenda.

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  • Courtesy of Evgeny's comment at Mark Adomanis' blog, I found a very interesting piece by Sergey Lukyanenko - the bestselling Russian sci-fi writer best known for his Night Watch series, which was later converted into Russia's first blockbuster film in 2004 - on the recent turmoil in Russian politics. It is a bit dated, from...
  • It shouldn’t be on a mere blog, I’m afraid.

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  • Can you recommend a truthful article on modern Russia in English?
    An owner of a popular blog is currently on the look for articles like that.

    It should be journalistic, essayistic,… If it’s slightly dreamy, I think my submission would be accepted :~)

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  • Another American commentary on the young ‘intellectual’ protesters in Russia, by Esther Dyson: http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/dyson41/English

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    • Replies: @Leos Tomicek
    Peeling, Meeting, Shopping... all of these activities have the same significance, and are done in the same spirit.
    , @yalensis
    I posted the following sarcastic comment on Esther's blog (which, by the way, is very easy to register on):

    "Oh lordy lordy, Esther! You touched on every single Russophobic stereotype: Pavlik Morozov, Stakhanov, Khodorkovsky, etc etc. Even threw in a little jibe about Jews not being able to get jobs, except in software development (implying that Russia is anti-Semitic country). The only trope you missed was the Tatar Yoke. Next time please try to do a better job, Esther. The anti-Russian propaganda just doesn't cut it if you don't bash Tatars."

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  • It's been a great year! To recap, in rough chronological order, 2011 saw: The most popular post (with 562 comments and counting; granted, most of them consisting of Indians and Pakistanis flaming each other); Visualizing the Kremlin Clans (joint project with Kevin Rothrock of A Good Treaty); my National Comparisons between life in Russia, Britain,...
  • I see a new article on Putin featured on the popular http://www.aldaily.com/ :
    “Putin and the Uses of History”
    by Fiona Hill, Clifford G. Gaddy

    http://nationalinterest.org/article/putin-the-uses-history-6276?page=show

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  • “In summary, outcome depends on Russia/China standing firm against UN/NATO.”

    Medvedev was to the Libyan issue far worse than Yeltsin ever was in regard to Kosovo and Metohija.

    I mean Medvedev! The Bambi-like servant of Satan, and the best choice of the best leader in the recent history of Russia, which is in turn the world’s best hope against the Western mafia. The whole Libyan episode was an abysmal failure, to which no sane person should be indifferent.

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    • Replies: @yalensis
    @Ivan, I agree with you that Russia's stance on Libya was a shameful betrayal. China's too. What NATO did not just to Libyan people but to entire African continent is inexcusable. Wherever the Islamists came to power in Libya, they proceeded to lynch sub-Saharan African migrant workers. Here is just one example, this is not propaganda, this actually happened. One dead African guy, but there were many thousands just like him (not even counting the ethnic cleansing of 30,000 Africans from the town of Tawergha by the Libyan Rabbles). This is 10 times worse than anything that happened in Srebrnica. What is really galling is that Medvedev could have prevented this genocide with a single veto in the UN, but he did not have the guts to do it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZFWHl0WH3s

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  • @yalensis
    I followed Libya conflict very closely, right up to its brutal end. (Actually it did not end, is still ongoing, now guerilla war and so on, although Western media has fallen silent and does not cover any more). Have not followed Syrian conflict (and do not understand Syrian internal dynamics), except for the Libyan connection. What I do know in broad outlines: (1) Libyan transitional government, who were put into power by NATO, are helping Syrian opposition for form their own transitional government (in exile). (2) Victorious Libyan rebel fighters, led by Al Qaeda warlord Abdulhakim Belhaj, are helping Syrian Islamists to form their own fighting army against Assad regime. These are the people who are attacking garrisons, fighting against professional soldiers, etc. (3) Is definitely a civil war, with many foreign players involved. (4) However, barring NATO intevention, then Assad should survive this assault. All others things being equal, he DOES command a huge military machine, much better than Gaddafy's army, and even Gaddafy with his pathetic army would have won against the Rabbles if not for NATO intervention. In summary, outcome depends on Russia/China standing firm against UN/NATO.

    “Is definitely a civil war,”

    It happens to be not. You know Webster Tarpley who was in Libya and broadcasted live from the 1 July demonstrations. Well, in mid-November he had a week-long tour through Syria, and what he later emphasised in his reports is:
    “I’ve seen what a civil war in the Middle East is like, I’ve been in Libya; in Syria there is no civil war, there is no any territorial segment of the country outside government control.” (my paraphrase.)
    Good news!

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    • Replies: @Albo
    What is really required though, in order to call a conflict a civil war?
    Loss of territorial control? Some areas regularly spin out of control if only to be regained shortly afterwards- but some parts of Homs have been under insurgents control for most of this year.

    Besides I remember that very debate regarding the internal infightings in Iraq, about what is a civil war or not
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/26/world/middleeast/26war.html?pagewanted=1
    Intents and casualties are very much describing a state of civil war in Syria.

    For Iraq the whole controversy was politically motivated, with the Americans refusing to call a spade a spade.

    Some one month ago, the UN high commissioner for Human Rights said the following about Syria

    "As soon as there were more and more defectors threatening to take up arms, I said this in August before the Security Council, that there's going to be a civil war. And at the moment, that's how I am characterizing this."

    In reply, Mark Toner of the State Department said
    "The overwhelming use of force has been taken by Assad and his regime," "So there's no kind of equanimity here."

    So not even the UN will make them change their stance which he had already expressed before in response to Lavrov ""If [Russia] characterizes it as a civil war, we view that it is very much the Assad regime carrying out a campaign of violence, intimidation and repression against innocent protesters."

    It's all about propaganda.

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  • @Glossy
    "...the economic situation in Russia – featuring 4.8% GDP growth in Q3 2011 – is at the moment simply not conductive to an Occupy Wall Street movement..."

    I work in Downtown Manhattan, so I've observed the occupy-a-little-park-next-to-Wall-Street people myself. It's hard for me to see their movement as an upswell of popular economic discontent.

    First, there were very few of them there. Larger, noisier public employee union rallies have gone on in the same neighborhood (next to City Hall) for many years, many times a year, in both good and bad economic times. Compared to city clerical worker union rallies, this was nothing.

    Second, they were mostly hipsters, i.e., the children of the upper middle and upper classes obsessed with fashions of every sort: sartorial, musical, political, pharmaceutical. How do I know this? 'Cause I'm not blind. I know what hipsters look like. There are whole neighborhoods full of these people in both Manhattan and Brooklyn. These are some of the most expensive neighborhoods in by far the most expensive city in this country. I'll sympathize with their plight some time after pigs conquer space.

    It's all boringly predictable. Leftist ideology is very rarely attractive to any of the people whom leftists pretend to represent. Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Che, Castro, Abimael Guzman, subcommandante Marcos, Chomsky - no children of workers or peasants in the list. The moment an actual cobbler's son came to power in the USSR, the USSR stopped being leftist. Khruschov and Brezhnev came from humble backgrounds too, so both were instinctively conservative (think of Khruschov's reaction to modernist "art") .

    If the NYT is praising someone for fighting any kind of an establishment, then he is, almost by definition, a member of the establishment. It pays to be in the establishment. These are the least likely sort of people to feel a drop of 3% in the GDP personally. They won't even know anyone who knows anyone who'll feel it. I'm doing very much OK, but even if I was doing 5 times better, I still couldn't afford to live in the sort of NYC neighborhood where the average occupier's fashion sense and speech mannerisms wouldn't stand out. It's not that wealth is bad in itself (only the unearned kind is), it's that everyone with a clue is tired of their hypocrisy.

    "The only way to resolve this contradiction is through a full-fledged fiscal union, with big longterm transfers from the North to the South."

    Why wouldn't a divorce resolve these contradictions? Why are theft, hand-outs and dependency considered before divorce?

    "Putin has also made Eurasian (re)integration one of the cornerstones of his Presidential campaign."

    Ethnic relations were peaceful in the post-WWII USSR partly because the "free movement of labor" was minimized. The propiska system kept most of the population in place. Where there WAS some movement of labor (the migration of Russians and Ukrainians to the Baltics for example, and to Kazakhstan too), there was some ethnic tension, though nowhere near modern Western European, Russian and American levels. The freer the movement of labor, the more ethnic strife. That's an absolute law of politics and history. The Dark Ages could as well be called the Voelkerwanderung Ages. So yeah, if that stuff about "the free movement of labor" is meant here seriously, then the future of that part of Eurasia will unfortunately be bloody.

    "Deaths will continue to fall quite rapidly, as excise taxes on vodka – the main contributor to Russia’s high mortality rates – are slated to rise sharply after the Presidential elections."

    You admit that the price of an intoxicant inversely correlates with the death rate. Now, if you could only admit that banning intoxicants increases their street price (this is actually a no-brainer), then you'll have to admit that (1 + 1 = 2) banning decreases death rates. You know what else would be guaranteed to decrease the death rate of any population anywhere on Earth? The banning of and public advertising against sodomy. Fewer people will die early.

    "Much as I would prefer Ron Paul over Obama..."

    I'm not a Libertarian, but I would also prefer Ron Paul. I agree with his foreign policy the most, I'm sure that the Fed is as evil as he says, and the budget really does need to be cut a lot. One doesn't need to be a Libertarian to see that. Plus, he's personally more honest than the competition.

    "...though the same constraints will apply as before: Aliyev’s fears of Russian retaliation..."

    I know nothing about this. Would a Russian retaliation be likely? It would be so funny to see the Western media attack Putin for intervening in Azerbaijan while Obama intervenes in Iran. OK, war isn't funny, but it would be interesting.

    "I can’t say I have any clue as to how Syria will turn out."

    I haven't been following Syrian internal strife, but I would guess that it is ethnic in nature. Most conflicts are. If I did read up on it and it turned out that Assad's opposition was truly liberal, democratic, etc., I would fall from my chair. Not that I blame anyone for looking out for their own kind.

    I've read in the past that Assad's religious community (the Alawites) tends to be more blue-eyed and generally Europoid than other local communities. In general, in both the Middle East and South Asia, religious enmity is a self-fulfilling prophesy. If groups split by a theological dispute refuse to breed with each other over dozens of generations, then in the end they really do become separate peoples. Visually, temperamentally. That can only reinforce the enmity. I'm sure that in some cases theological disputes are just pretexts for preexisting ethnic differences too.

    "I do not think Occupy Wall Street has good prospects in the US. By acting outside the mainstream..."

    If I didn't hear about them on TV first, I would have never found out about them, and I work less than a 10 minute walk away from Zuccotti Park. The mainstream media is both that movement's mother and father.

    "...the weed smoking and poor sartorial choices of its members..."

    This is what the word trustafarian was invented to describe. Though I hear that at the end some actual bums started spoiling their picnic.

    "I say this as someone who is broadly sympathetic with OWS aims and has attended associated events in Berkeley."

    This reminds me: the foreclosure/real estate crisis has hit Las Vegas the worst (because it was the biggest boom town before the crisis). Florida was very hard-hit too. These are not the places where the OWS movement originated or became most prominent. It originated where the hipsters are.

    "...against cynical and corrupt dictators, not cynical and corrupt pseudo-democrats..."

    Well, to the Arab Spring rioters their leaders are cynical and corrupt pseudo-Islamists. Different fig leaves.

    As for my own predictions, I'm scared of what will happen right after the US presidential election. If the dollar is to be devalued, the current administration wouldn't want to do it until after the election. I remember that time in the mid-90s when the Mexican peso was devalued right after a Mexican presidential election. Also, if Obama loses by a hair, there could be riots.

    ” I haven’t been following Syrian internal strife, but I would guess that it is ethnic in nature. ”

    It is mostly terrorist snipers gathered by CIA from all over Islamic regions of Asia and North Africa, shooting at random people including women and children. (I kid you not*).

    (sources arranged from the less to the more time-consuming:)

    http://rt.com/news/war-syria-religion-people-727/

    http://www.voltairenet.org/Webster-Tarpley-from-Damascus-CIA

    http://www.voltairenet.org/The-decision-to-attack-Syria-was

    * http://tarpley.net/2011/12/24/natos-assault-on-syria/

    The terrorists find domestic support among bigoted Alawites; …but, as far as I’m concerned, these geography textbook factors are of secondary importance, the real determinant is whether one is psychologically able to join in killing children.

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    • Replies: @Mark
    Wow - the Thierry Meyssan piece is terrific!!! I have argued on other sites that the view (of events in Syria) being pushed by the English-speaking media is exclusively based on reports from activists, and that the army firing indiscriminately into crowds and thousands of dead is pure bullshit. But that was just from what I believe to be true, based on previous performance in regime-change operations and NATO's propensity for lying in order to garner support. This guy really knows what's going on, he's seen it. A gripping piece of reporting; thanks for the opportunity to read it.
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  • Russia's winter of discontent? from Al Jazeera's Stream. Overall, fairly balanced. I appear at 8:50 to ask a question about the suspicious timing - two months before the actual elections - of the creation of the website promoting the White Ribbon as the symbol of the anti-Kremlin protests. Generally speaking, I'm skeptical about the more...
  • @kirill
    The protest turnout in Russia was quite small. The under 30,000 in Moscow on Saturday (150,000 claims are absurd and easy to disprove with some simple analysis of stills) are not evidence of youth discontent. If you want to see youth discontent then look at the France riots by young Muslims who are ghettoized as 2nd class citizens. The scale of those riots was vast compared to the theatrics of some professional idiots in Russia.

    The real story of the election was that UR got pummeled in the regions where it got under 35% of the vote. All of yammering about vote fraud fixates on Moscow as if it is some sort of prototype for the rest of the country. The average Russian voter had a chance to express themselves through the ballot box and they did. Yabloko and the liberasts are not the ones with all the initiative. The western media and Al Jazeera, run out of the US satellite Qatar, are just pushing this meme since they want to rob Russians of their voice and impose a comprador regime in Russia.

    I expect there to be lots of false flag psyops around the March election. This is the only way the west can continue with the whole "Russians don't like dictator Putin" BS story. Prokhorov and the rest don't stand a chance (60 hour work week, really!?). So ballots will be stuffed but not by Putin's henchmen, but 5th columnists doing the bidding of their foreign masters. AK has already produced a fine example of such a case for the Duma election in North Ossetia. No f*cking way that UR would have some idiot apply the same percentage split at multiple ballot stations. But nevertheless there were such cases, which serve quite nicely to discredit the whole process.

    Agreed. I’ve only one point to make. “ballots will be stuffed but not by Putin’s henchmen, but 5th columnists doing the bidding of their foreign masters”

    Henchmen have a tendency to become 5th columnists.

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  • The long-promised post is out, but not here but at Al Jazeera: Truth and falsifications in Russia. It has also been translated into Russian at Inosmi.ru (Правда и фальсификации в России). In the spirit of democracy, I am adopting Alexander Kireev's poll (kireev) to ask you guys what YOU think about how falsified these elections...
  • @Anatoly Karlin
    I think you are being far too harsh on AJ.

    If it was a "putrid nest of fake journalists" then things like my oped or e.g. this one would not be appearing there. It hosts a diversity of viewpoints.

    Yes, it has its flaws, but no more than any other national television station like RT, RFERL/Voice of America, France 24, etc.

    “Yes, it has its flaws, but no more than any other national television station like RT, RFERL/Voice of America, France 24, etc”.

    AJ has become abhorred in Egypt, Syria and Libya because of its blatant disinformation campaigns about these countries in the past 12 months, surpassing any propaganda on any major tv channel in the past.

    These campaigns didn’t develop gradually, and they’re surely not something by which AJ has been known from before. The change – to what may be described as total malice – was abrupt, and therefore very insidious.

    If someone can point to malpractice on RT comparable to CNN, I’d be grateful to hear.

    One reservation: I don’t watch much tv, I don’t have a tv!!

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  • As repeatedly noted by Mark Adomanis, the Russian liberals and the Western media have predicted about 10 of the last zero Russian revolutions. Likewise, the "Jasmine Revolution" in China that was the subject of so much talk about a year ago has fizzled out like a wet firework. Meanwhile, the Arab world remains in the...
  • the main burden being the hordes of young unemployed Arab men (and unemployable, because of low skills). When food prices approached a critical level in 2011, social pressures reached a tipping point, and revolutions of varying types and success levels followed in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, and Bahrain.
    ……………………
    I disagree with adding Libya and Syria to the list. Yalensis mentioned the Qatari in Libya, but there is more to it:
    a) There were no problems with food prices and no food shortages in Libya
    b) The number of rebels in March was reported as “only about 1,000″*. (So, while there was some sort of domestic insurgence, it can’t be qualified as national, or even regional.
    c) Numerous sources claimed that the rebels were largely foreigners (**), mostly Egyptians, Algerians, people from South Asia, and others***

    (*) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/world/africa/24minister.html
    (**) (i) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LJtBADQNng
    (ii) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYlnF3dHdyk
    (***) http://www.afro.com/sections/news/national/story.htm?storyid=72369

    As for Syria, this is the most succinct report: http://www.voltairenet.org/Webster-Tarpley-from-Damascus-CIA : There is no domestic insurgence_period_

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  • On reading Western commentary on the upcoming Russian Duma elections, I realized that they can't decide between two narratives: either the popularity of United Russia is sinking faster than Herman Cain's following his sex abuse scandals, thus meaning that it will manipulate the votes to get its desired majority; or Russian elections are complete shams...
  • @Anatoly Karlin
    I have a half-written post titled "The Guardian: Sleaziest Newspaper in the World" which I really should finish and publish someday.

    What really revolted me about it was its treacherous and mendacious back-stabbing of Julian Assange. In their book, David Leigh and our favorite journalist Luke Harding revealed the passwords to the unencrypted version of the Wikileaks Cables. When it began leaking out into the open, Assange did the responsible thing and revealed the password to all, as all competent intelligence agencies would already have had access to it. In response - and as if its smear campaign was not already enough (it seems to have some very strange obsession with Assange) - the Guardian wrote an editorial condemning Assange as a stooge of tyrants and terrorists. Instead of having the decency to at least remain silent, the Guardian heaped the blame on Assange for their own mistakes and incompetence, and they were backed up by 90% of the "free media" on this (with the surprising exception of The Economist).

    Its "Comments is Free" section is, of course, an Orwellian joke. Look at most of its articles on Assange or Russia - both of which the Guardianistas really, really hate above all else - and its a minefield of this: "This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards."

    The surprising exception of Economist – It is surely just a coincidence that the law firm—Finers Stephens Innocent —which represents Julian Assange and set up the Julian Assange Defense Fund is also legal adviser to the Rothschild Waddesdon Trust; that the partially Rothschild-owned Economist gave Assange its 2008 Freedom of Expression Award; that Lord Rothschild is deputy chairman of BSkyB, whose warmongering chairman Rupert Murdoch and his propagandist father were lauded as fearless advocates of the truth by the WikiLeaks founder in an op-ed in the Murdoch-owned The Australian…

    http://maidhcocathail.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/bankers-oligarchs-media-magnates-and-leakers

    http://www.puppet99.com/?p=1

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