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    Muh reparations! Muh slavery! This is nothing new. Demands for reparations have been issuing from the Baltics since the 1990s, the most energetic party typically being Latvia. Nothing will ever come of them, not least because Russia could always send them the bill for Soviet-era infrastructure and subsidized gas. Even so, cringeworthy whining regardless, do...
  • @reiner Tor
    A quarter of my ancestors are Donauschwäbisch and another quarter are Austrians. (In Hungary I've heard the saying that Austrians are the people who managed to convince the world that Beethoven was an Austrian but Hitler was a German... in other words, many Hungarians don't quite think Austrians are any different from Germans. There's probably more difference between North Germans and Bavarians than Bavarians and Austrians.) The other half is (mostly) Hungarian, which is the only language I grew up using (had to learn English and German at school, the latter I still don't quite master).

    “There’s probably more difference between North Germans and Bavarians than Bavarians and Austrians.”

    Oh absolutely, North Germans are very different from Bavarians (and people from southern Germany in general…my mother’s family was from the Saar country in the far west and from the Rhine palatinate…not much love for “Prussians” there either). They’re much more likely to be annoying, sanctimonious and self-righteous lefties and have a quite irrational contempt for Bavaria (probably motivated by envy because Bavaria is fairly successful…unlike the northern states which have been ruined by corrupt Christian Democrats and the lunacy of the Socialists and Greens). Maybe German unification really wasn’t that great an idea.
    And Bavaria of course always had some sort of relation to Hungary (starting with the Hungarian raids and the battle of the Lechfeld :-) though later it was more positive), in some ways this may still be reflected in Seehofer’s fairly friendly attitude towards Orban.
    Interesting bit about your Donauschwäbisch ancestry, thanks.

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  • @German_reader
    "What is your other nationality?"

    My father's English...he's a virulent English nationalist (Enoch Powell is "dear old Enoch" to him)...I got my basic world view from him :-) I suppose that's why I find German society to be rather annoying in many ways (Britain's extremely pc too of course, but at least some people there are finally pushing back via UKIP...something similar is starting to happen in Germany with the AfD, but on the whole far too many Germans want to be seen as respectable, always thinking about "How will other people see me? Will I be regarded as right-wing?"...they're really conformist lemmings).
    Look, I don't believe Germans are uniquely evil (and I don't care much whether the Holocaust was "unique"...I think it's a tiresome, academic debate) and I regard Germany's "official" identity, centered on the Nazi past, as seriously flawed. Still, one can't deny that Germans committed massive crimes not that long ago, that there was some collective responsibility for it, and that this still plays a role in relations with certain groups/nations/countries. I'm not totally opposed to some form of compensation in some cases (maybe even the Herero can legitimately claim they still suffer from the consequences of German actions a hundred years ago) though obviously there are limits...I don't think such an awareness of past crimes committed by your group must necessarily lead to self-loathing or suicidal "refugees welcome" madness (which I most certainly do NOT support).
    If you're ok with it, I'd leave it at that...I don't think I really disagree fundamentally with you. And I'm rather depressed about current events, so my inclination for Internet spats about Nazis etc. is somewhat limited.

    A quarter of my ancestors are Donauschwäbisch and another quarter are Austrians. (In Hungary I’ve heard the saying that Austrians are the people who managed to convince the world that Beethoven was an Austrian but Hitler was a German… in other words, many Hungarians don’t quite think Austrians are any different from Germans. There’s probably more difference between North Germans and Bavarians than Bavarians and Austrians.) The other half is (mostly) Hungarian, which is the only language I grew up using (had to learn English and German at school, the latter I still don’t quite master).

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    • Replies: @German_reader
    "There’s probably more difference between North Germans and Bavarians than Bavarians and Austrians."

    Oh absolutely, North Germans are very different from Bavarians (and people from southern Germany in general...my mother's family was from the Saar country in the far west and from the Rhine palatinate...not much love for "Prussians" there either). They're much more likely to be annoying, sanctimonious and self-righteous lefties and have a quite irrational contempt for Bavaria (probably motivated by envy because Bavaria is fairly successful...unlike the northern states which have been ruined by corrupt Christian Democrats and the lunacy of the Socialists and Greens). Maybe German unification really wasn't that great an idea.
    And Bavaria of course always had some sort of relation to Hungary (starting with the Hungarian raids and the battle of the Lechfeld :-) though later it was more positive), in some ways this may still be reflected in Seehofer's fairly friendly attitude towards Orban.
    Interesting bit about your Donauschwäbisch ancestry, thanks.

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  • @reiner Tor

    Poles have to live with their country being permanently associated with extermination camps and with the knowledge that not that long ago their neighbours regarded them as subhuman slaves
     
    You convinced me that the horrors of "having to live with their country being permanently associated with extermination camps" or "knowledge that not that long ago their neighbours regarded them as subhuman slaves" are probably just as bad as the well-known devastating effect of microaggressions. Except that I'm sure that as an intelligent member of the iSteve readership you sure don't take the microaggressions cult too seriously.

    I’m not that old (31) and I’m only half-German
     
    What is your other nationality?

    even I feel a certain unease about what my relatives may or may not have done during Nazism (and my grandfather wasn’t a Nazi apologist after the war and talked openly about at least some of his experiences during the Third Reich…I suppose it’s more difficult for people in whose families there was only silence about that past).
     
    The Germans did things that humans occasionally do. For example mass murdering others. Have you read for example Ordinary Men by Christopher Browning? A seminal study, and interesting, especially if you've also read Goldhagen's outrageous book. (Quite a few distortions of Goldhagen are mentioned in the foreword of Browning's book. For example when discussing the German desire to exterminate the Jews, Goldhagen mentions a certain death march, where the German guards were shooting prisoners as part of a contest, 'who can shoot more prisoners on any pretext'. Goldhagen of course failed to mention how the prisoners were basically all gentiles, mostly I think Slavs.) I've read up on the subject, so I can give you grisly details if you need them. But what can you - or other Germans - do about it? Well-adjusted adults just accept facts of life (like that our parents aren't/weren't perfect, or that humans, any humans, occasionally do commit mass murder) without obsessing about them. Do you have any doubt in your mind that members other ethnicities (Chinese, Armenians, Poles, British, or indeed Jews) are also capable of such crimes? In fact, members of these (and many other) ethnicities have already committed comparable crimes. Here's a Boer child in a British concentration camp, after all, the concentration camp was a British invention. I need not mention the Armenian and Jewish members of the Soviet secret police, etc. So are you uneasy about the fact that Germans behavior wasn't better than the behavior of many other human groups in history? That the nastiest Germans were every bit as nasty as the nastiest of other ethnic groups?

    On the other hand, my late grandfather was a member of a communist militia after the revolution in 1956. I haven't looked up what he did - mostly out of laziness than anything else - but I guess he did some bad things. Probably he didn't kill anyone (not impossible, but not terribly likely either, given what I know about this militia), but I think he did participate in arrests (they arrested mostly revolutionaries, patriots and anti-communists - his militia was organized from members of the military, to which he himself belonged as a political officer, and so they weren't out there to go after ordinary criminals), in any event, I'm not proud of it. (I only knew him as the best grandfather in the world.) But I don't obsess over it. I cannot undo what he did, nor do I think it still matters much. And even if it did, I still couldn't do anything about it. I'm just living a normal life, as I'd do anyway regardless of my grandfather.

    So what do grandparents' deeds have to do with how Germany should behave now?

    I’m however most certainly not in favour of permanent self-flagellation or making Nazism the corner-stone of German identity as unfortunately it seems to have become. Also German “guilt” has to be tied to the concrete historical events, and shouldn’t be used as justification for misguided generalized “anti-nationalism” and “anti-racism”
     
    That's a psychological impossibility. If you teach people that their (or their compatriots') ancestors committed The Very Worst Crime Ever Which Was Totally Unique, then a huge portion of them will obsess about it, and even those who won't will lose at least part of the will to survive as a national community.

    My solution is simple (but, unfortunately, not easy to implement in the current climate): teach children that there was nothing unique about the holocaust, it's just what humans (unfortunately) do occasionally. Mention how Germans found eager executioners everywhere, which means the holocaust wasn't a unique German thing anyway. Mention how members of other ethnic groups organized comparable crimes (including for example Zinoviev's remark about how they needed to "get rid of" 10% of Russia's population, you can find parallels with Göring's similar remarks), and how it's just not such a big deal, after all. At the same time, teach them all the magnificent German achievements. You can even teach them how talented the Germans were at fighting the world wars (on a per capita basis, they were pretty efficient).

    You don't need to teach nonsense like holocaust-denialism, just simply group the facts in a way that they won't think too much of it, and that they'll become proud Germans.

    “What is your other nationality?”

    My father’s English…he’s a virulent English nationalist (Enoch Powell is “dear old Enoch” to him)…I got my basic world view from him :-) I suppose that’s why I find German society to be rather annoying in many ways (Britain’s extremely pc too of course, but at least some people there are finally pushing back via UKIP…something similar is starting to happen in Germany with the AfD, but on the whole far too many Germans want to be seen as respectable, always thinking about “How will other people see me? Will I be regarded as right-wing?”…they’re really conformist lemmings).
    Look, I don’t believe Germans are uniquely evil (and I don’t care much whether the Holocaust was “unique”…I think it’s a tiresome, academic debate) and I regard Germany’s “official” identity, centered on the Nazi past, as seriously flawed. Still, one can’t deny that Germans committed massive crimes not that long ago, that there was some collective responsibility for it, and that this still plays a role in relations with certain groups/nations/countries. I’m not totally opposed to some form of compensation in some cases (maybe even the Herero can legitimately claim they still suffer from the consequences of German actions a hundred years ago) though obviously there are limits…I don’t think such an awareness of past crimes committed by your group must necessarily lead to self-loathing or suicidal “refugees welcome” madness (which I most certainly do NOT support).
    If you’re ok with it, I’d leave it at that…I don’t think I really disagree fundamentally with you. And I’m rather depressed about current events, so my inclination for Internet spats about Nazis etc. is somewhat limited.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    A quarter of my ancestors are Donauschwäbisch and another quarter are Austrians. (In Hungary I've heard the saying that Austrians are the people who managed to convince the world that Beethoven was an Austrian but Hitler was a German... in other words, many Hungarians don't quite think Austrians are any different from Germans. There's probably more difference between North Germans and Bavarians than Bavarians and Austrians.) The other half is (mostly) Hungarian, which is the only language I grew up using (had to learn English and German at school, the latter I still don't quite master).
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @German_reader
    I'm not really advocating giving unlimited money forever to Israel (which Germany isn't doing to my knowledge anyway...), more in the sense of supporting the general principle of Israel as a Jewish nation state (even though I don't agree with many Israeli policies). Good relations with Israel might even be beneficial to my own country, because the Israelis might be able to give back something (military experience, scientific knowledge) in a mutually beneficial exchange.
    I'm not the greatest fan of Israel, but there are other relationships (Saudi-Arabia, Turkey, even African states with their recent blackmail attempts) that I regard as far more problematic.

    Not unlimited, but Germany still gives them weapon systems etc. for free or with a huge discount.

    The question is, why do you think it’s justified when you already paid a huge sum (as part of an agreement in the 1950s), and also you paid reparations to individual victims. Why do you think you need to give further reparations (with no end in sight – do you think a German government will reject Israeli requests to supply whatever expensive cutting edge military technology Germany will have in 2025?), given the fact that Israel’s population mostly consists of people who are not holocaust survivors? Did Israel give reparations to anyone who it might have wronged? (E.g. there’s this. My father personally knew the only Hungarian civilian who was on board. Although Wikipedia doesn’t mention it, the most likely explanation is that it was shot down by Israel because it suspected that the PLO leadership and/or weapons intended for the PLO were on board.)

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  • @German_reader
    I don't really have time for an elaborate answer, so I'll keep it short: In general I agree with you that all that "responsibility for crimes committed by people long dead"-business is ridiculous (e.g. Africans who want compensation from Britain or other western countries for slavery are just shameless). However, Nazism's crimes are (just barely) within living memory, and I don't think you can simply dismiss its effects on people still living today with arguments like "Israel has a first world-quality of life" or "Poland annexed German territory"...true, but on the other hand, Poles have to live with their country being permanently associated with extermination camps and with the knowledge that not that long ago their neighbours regarded them as subhuman slaves, and Jews have to live with the knowledge that there was a powerful movement that wanted to see every single Jew dead. As for Germans, I don't think you fully understand the personal dimension...I'm not that old (31) and I'm only half-German and pretty far to the right, but even I feel a certain unease about what my relatives may or may not have done during Nazism (and my grandfather wasn't a Nazi apologist after the war and talked openly about at least some of his experiences during the Third Reich...I suppose it's more difficult for people in whose families there was only silence about that past).
    So I think to some degree it's impossible not to acknowledge those realities. I'm however most certainly not in favour of permanent self-flagellation or making Nazism the corner-stone of German identity as unfortunately it seems to have become. Also German "guilt" has to be tied to the concrete historical events, and shouldn't be used as justification for misguided generalized "anti-nationalism" and "anti-racism" (as an analogy think of the US...maybe affirmation action there would be ok if limited to genuine descendants of American slaves...it most certainly isn't appropriate though for recent African or other non-white immigrants, because of some absurd "diversity" ideology).

    Poles have to live with their country being permanently associated with extermination camps and with the knowledge that not that long ago their neighbours regarded them as subhuman slaves

    You convinced me that the horrors of “having to live with their country being permanently associated with extermination camps” or “knowledge that not that long ago their neighbours regarded them as subhuman slaves” are probably just as bad as the well-known devastating effect of microaggressions. Except that I’m sure that as an intelligent member of the iSteve readership you sure don’t take the microaggressions cult too seriously.

    I’m not that old (31) and I’m only half-German

    What is your other nationality?

    even I feel a certain unease about what my relatives may or may not have done during Nazism (and my grandfather wasn’t a Nazi apologist after the war and talked openly about at least some of his experiences during the Third Reich…I suppose it’s more difficult for people in whose families there was only silence about that past).

    The Germans did things that humans occasionally do. For example mass murdering others. Have you read for example Ordinary Men by Christopher Browning? A seminal study, and interesting, especially if you’ve also read Goldhagen’s outrageous book. (Quite a few distortions of Goldhagen are mentioned in the foreword of Browning’s book. For example when discussing the German desire to exterminate the Jews, Goldhagen mentions a certain death march, where the German guards were shooting prisoners as part of a contest, ‘who can shoot more prisoners on any pretext’. Goldhagen of course failed to mention how the prisoners were basically all gentiles, mostly I think Slavs.) I’ve read up on the subject, so I can give you grisly details if you need them. But what can you – or other Germans – do about it? Well-adjusted adults just accept facts of life (like that our parents aren’t/weren’t perfect, or that humans, any humans, occasionally do commit mass murder) without obsessing about them. Do you have any doubt in your mind that members other ethnicities (Chinese, Armenians, Poles, British, or indeed Jews) are also capable of such crimes? In fact, members of these (and many other) ethnicities have already committed comparable crimes. Here’s a Boer child in a British concentration camp, after all, the concentration camp was a British invention. I need not mention the Armenian and Jewish members of the Soviet secret police, etc. So are you uneasy about the fact that Germans behavior wasn’t better than the behavior of many other human groups in history? That the nastiest Germans were every bit as nasty as the nastiest of other ethnic groups?

    On the other hand, my late grandfather was a member of a communist militia after the revolution in 1956. I haven’t looked up what he did – mostly out of laziness than anything else – but I guess he did some bad things. Probably he didn’t kill anyone (not impossible, but not terribly likely either, given what I know about this militia), but I think he did participate in arrests (they arrested mostly revolutionaries, patriots and anti-communists – his militia was organized from members of the military, to which he himself belonged as a political officer, and so they weren’t out there to go after ordinary criminals), in any event, I’m not proud of it. (I only knew him as the best grandfather in the world.) But I don’t obsess over it. I cannot undo what he did, nor do I think it still matters much. And even if it did, I still couldn’t do anything about it. I’m just living a normal life, as I’d do anyway regardless of my grandfather.

    So what do grandparents’ deeds have to do with how Germany should behave now?

    I’m however most certainly not in favour of permanent self-flagellation or making Nazism the corner-stone of German identity as unfortunately it seems to have become. Also German “guilt” has to be tied to the concrete historical events, and shouldn’t be used as justification for misguided generalized “anti-nationalism” and “anti-racism”

    That’s a psychological impossibility. If you teach people that their (or their compatriots’) ancestors committed The Very Worst Crime Ever Which Was Totally Unique, then a huge portion of them will obsess about it, and even those who won’t will lose at least part of the will to survive as a national community.

    My solution is simple (but, unfortunately, not easy to implement in the current climate): teach children that there was nothing unique about the holocaust, it’s just what humans (unfortunately) do occasionally. Mention how Germans found eager executioners everywhere, which means the holocaust wasn’t a unique German thing anyway. Mention how members of other ethnic groups organized comparable crimes (including for example Zinoviev’s remark about how they needed to “get rid of” 10% of Russia’s population, you can find parallels with Göring’s similar remarks), and how it’s just not such a big deal, after all. At the same time, teach them all the magnificent German achievements. You can even teach them how talented the Germans were at fighting the world wars (on a per capita basis, they were pretty efficient).

    You don’t need to teach nonsense like holocaust-denialism, just simply group the facts in a way that they won’t think too much of it, and that they’ll become proud Germans.

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    • Replies: @German_reader
    "What is your other nationality?"

    My father's English...he's a virulent English nationalist (Enoch Powell is "dear old Enoch" to him)...I got my basic world view from him :-) I suppose that's why I find German society to be rather annoying in many ways (Britain's extremely pc too of course, but at least some people there are finally pushing back via UKIP...something similar is starting to happen in Germany with the AfD, but on the whole far too many Germans want to be seen as respectable, always thinking about "How will other people see me? Will I be regarded as right-wing?"...they're really conformist lemmings).
    Look, I don't believe Germans are uniquely evil (and I don't care much whether the Holocaust was "unique"...I think it's a tiresome, academic debate) and I regard Germany's "official" identity, centered on the Nazi past, as seriously flawed. Still, one can't deny that Germans committed massive crimes not that long ago, that there was some collective responsibility for it, and that this still plays a role in relations with certain groups/nations/countries. I'm not totally opposed to some form of compensation in some cases (maybe even the Herero can legitimately claim they still suffer from the consequences of German actions a hundred years ago) though obviously there are limits...I don't think such an awareness of past crimes committed by your group must necessarily lead to self-loathing or suicidal "refugees welcome" madness (which I most certainly do NOT support).
    If you're ok with it, I'd leave it at that...I don't think I really disagree fundamentally with you. And I'm rather depressed about current events, so my inclination for Internet spats about Nazis etc. is somewhat limited.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @reiner Tor

    I don’t think you can simply dismiss its effects on people still living today with arguments like “Israel has a first world-quality of life”
     
    Maybe I wasn't clear. Israel's population is majority Sephardi/Mizrahi. Neither of which suffered at the hands of the Nazis at all. I'd bet at least a third or possibly over half of the ancestors of the Israeli Ashkenazi also never suffered from the holocaust - they were either already in Israel (or elsewhere outside Nazi rule) or were in the unoccupied areas of the USSR. These groups indeed received a windfall - both ex-Soviet Jews and especially Mizrahi/Sephardi Jews had it quite a bit lucky when they could emigrate to Israel.

    When Germany is giving money to Israel, it's giving money essentially to these (since only a small minority of Israel's population had any connection to the holocaust at all), and I think it's quite perverse to give money to these populations which have already received a windfall.

    But that's what you're advocating, Because Holocaust.

    I’m not really advocating giving unlimited money forever to Israel (which Germany isn’t doing to my knowledge anyway…), more in the sense of supporting the general principle of Israel as a Jewish nation state (even though I don’t agree with many Israeli policies). Good relations with Israel might even be beneficial to my own country, because the Israelis might be able to give back something (military experience, scientific knowledge) in a mutually beneficial exchange.
    I’m not the greatest fan of Israel, but there are other relationships (Saudi-Arabia, Turkey, even African states with their recent blackmail attempts) that I regard as far more problematic.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Not unlimited, but Germany still gives them weapon systems etc. for free or with a huge discount.

    The question is, why do you think it's justified when you already paid a huge sum (as part of an agreement in the 1950s), and also you paid reparations to individual victims. Why do you think you need to give further reparations (with no end in sight - do you think a German government will reject Israeli requests to supply whatever expensive cutting edge military technology Germany will have in 2025?), given the fact that Israel's population mostly consists of people who are not holocaust survivors? Did Israel give reparations to anyone who it might have wronged? (E.g. there's this. My father personally knew the only Hungarian civilian who was on board. Although Wikipedia doesn't mention it, the most likely explanation is that it was shot down by Israel because it suspected that the PLO leadership and/or weapons intended for the PLO were on board.)
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @German_reader
    I don't really have time for an elaborate answer, so I'll keep it short: In general I agree with you that all that "responsibility for crimes committed by people long dead"-business is ridiculous (e.g. Africans who want compensation from Britain or other western countries for slavery are just shameless). However, Nazism's crimes are (just barely) within living memory, and I don't think you can simply dismiss its effects on people still living today with arguments like "Israel has a first world-quality of life" or "Poland annexed German territory"...true, but on the other hand, Poles have to live with their country being permanently associated with extermination camps and with the knowledge that not that long ago their neighbours regarded them as subhuman slaves, and Jews have to live with the knowledge that there was a powerful movement that wanted to see every single Jew dead. As for Germans, I don't think you fully understand the personal dimension...I'm not that old (31) and I'm only half-German and pretty far to the right, but even I feel a certain unease about what my relatives may or may not have done during Nazism (and my grandfather wasn't a Nazi apologist after the war and talked openly about at least some of his experiences during the Third Reich...I suppose it's more difficult for people in whose families there was only silence about that past).
    So I think to some degree it's impossible not to acknowledge those realities. I'm however most certainly not in favour of permanent self-flagellation or making Nazism the corner-stone of German identity as unfortunately it seems to have become. Also German "guilt" has to be tied to the concrete historical events, and shouldn't be used as justification for misguided generalized "anti-nationalism" and "anti-racism" (as an analogy think of the US...maybe affirmation action there would be ok if limited to genuine descendants of American slaves...it most certainly isn't appropriate though for recent African or other non-white immigrants, because of some absurd "diversity" ideology).

    I don’t think you can simply dismiss its effects on people still living today with arguments like “Israel has a first world-quality of life”

    Maybe I wasn’t clear. Israel’s population is majority Sephardi/Mizrahi. Neither of which suffered at the hands of the Nazis at all. I’d bet at least a third or possibly over half of the ancestors of the Israeli Ashkenazi also never suffered from the holocaust – they were either already in Israel (or elsewhere outside Nazi rule) or were in the unoccupied areas of the USSR. These groups indeed received a windfall – both ex-Soviet Jews and especially Mizrahi/Sephardi Jews had it quite a bit lucky when they could emigrate to Israel.

    When Germany is giving money to Israel, it’s giving money essentially to these (since only a small minority of Israel’s population had any connection to the holocaust at all), and I think it’s quite perverse to give money to these populations which have already received a windfall.

    But that’s what you’re advocating, Because Holocaust.

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    • Replies: @German_reader
    I'm not really advocating giving unlimited money forever to Israel (which Germany isn't doing to my knowledge anyway...), more in the sense of supporting the general principle of Israel as a Jewish nation state (even though I don't agree with many Israeli policies). Good relations with Israel might even be beneficial to my own country, because the Israelis might be able to give back something (military experience, scientific knowledge) in a mutually beneficial exchange.
    I'm not the greatest fan of Israel, but there are other relationships (Saudi-Arabia, Turkey, even African states with their recent blackmail attempts) that I regard as far more problematic.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @German_reader
    I don't really have time for an elaborate answer, so I'll keep it short: In general I agree with you that all that "responsibility for crimes committed by people long dead"-business is ridiculous (e.g. Africans who want compensation from Britain or other western countries for slavery are just shameless). However, Nazism's crimes are (just barely) within living memory, and I don't think you can simply dismiss its effects on people still living today with arguments like "Israel has a first world-quality of life" or "Poland annexed German territory"...true, but on the other hand, Poles have to live with their country being permanently associated with extermination camps and with the knowledge that not that long ago their neighbours regarded them as subhuman slaves, and Jews have to live with the knowledge that there was a powerful movement that wanted to see every single Jew dead. As for Germans, I don't think you fully understand the personal dimension...I'm not that old (31) and I'm only half-German and pretty far to the right, but even I feel a certain unease about what my relatives may or may not have done during Nazism (and my grandfather wasn't a Nazi apologist after the war and talked openly about at least some of his experiences during the Third Reich...I suppose it's more difficult for people in whose families there was only silence about that past).
    So I think to some degree it's impossible not to acknowledge those realities. I'm however most certainly not in favour of permanent self-flagellation or making Nazism the corner-stone of German identity as unfortunately it seems to have become. Also German "guilt" has to be tied to the concrete historical events, and shouldn't be used as justification for misguided generalized "anti-nationalism" and "anti-racism" (as an analogy think of the US...maybe affirmation action there would be ok if limited to genuine descendants of American slaves...it most certainly isn't appropriate though for recent African or other non-white immigrants, because of some absurd "diversity" ideology).

    You do a good job of elaborating the different aspects. Rather than guilt, I think in terms of heighten sensitivity. There is nothing wrong with having an understanding of why some groups might feel distrustful or resentful. It does not mean that the current circumstances warrant that response on their part. Nasty business in the past does not give any group carte blanche for whatever demands they may have today. At the same time there is no reason to deny any part of the past. Yes, bad things happened in the past; yes, they need to be remembered so we don’t repeat them. No, it should not have complete control of our future.

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  • @reiner Tor
    The question is not whether "Germans did perpetrate the Holocaust" or not.

    First, there's no reason to think it was "worse" than many other instances of mass murder committed by humans. You can, of course, give definitions that may make it worse (like "it was organized" - but could it not be a mitigating circumstance, like how it only depended on Hitler's personal decisions, and so it was less a collective fault of all Germans, than for example the mindless mass murders perpetrated by African tribes against one another?), but at the end of the day it doesn't seem convincing that Germans need to teach their children that it was the worst crime ever.

    Second, there's no reason to think that members of an ethnic group whose members several generations ago committed horrible crimes against another ethnic group owe anything to the present-day members of the victim group. Do Mongols pay reparations? Turks? (Not even to Armenians or Greeks, who were massacred a century or less ago.) Hutus?

    Third, it wasn't only Germans who did it. For example in Hungary there's an ongoing battle between those who say it was all done by the Germans and those few Hungarians who were handpicked by the Germans to do their bidding, and those (leftists) who think that in Hungary it was more the fault of the Hungarians. They approvingly quote Veesenmayer (Hitler's all-powerful representative in Hungary in 1944) and Eichmann, both of whom expressed views about how eager Hungarians were. (Let's just mention that at least Veesenmayer definitely changed his point of view over time, complaining about those Judaised Hungarians in 1943 and then complaining about Hungarian barbarity and anti-Semitism after 1945.) In any event, it's even possible that the majority of the perpetrators on the ground were non-Germans. How about their responsibility? Or if they were handpicked or forced by the Germans, how could it not be true of many German perpetrators, who were also handpicked or forced to participate by Hitler and his minions?

    Fourth, you have a warped view of who were the victims. The large majority of the victims died. The large majority of the survivors are now already dead, too. The large majority of (the ancestors of) Israeli Jews had nothing to do with the holocaust, one way or the other. Why do you think you have responsibility for these distant relatives of Holocaust victims who actually had a huge windfall (the creation of Israel with first world living standards) over the last century? Poland, on the other hand, already received a huge chunk of territory in compensation. (Not that Israel or Jews in general received nothing from Germany.) Why do you think you have further responsibility for Poles? Regarding other victim groups, let me just pick one, the Greeks. You might know how the Greek government just started to ask for further reparations a few months ago. Even though they've already received reparations (and signed and ratified that they won't lay any further claims), and even though they were occupied by the Turks whose occupation lasted several centuries and the negative effects probably exceeded those of the German occupation by a very very wide margin. Still they aren't claiming reparations from Turkey. Why should they be entitled to claim them from Germany?

    Fifth, once it's established that your point of view (i.e. "German responsibility for victim groups") is just a product of the same teaching of Holocaustianity that results in #refugeeswelcome, I don't think you can protest other (albeit more extreme and even less logical) products of the same religion without criticizing your own religion yourself. I'd say this religion is not evolutionary stable: it will disappear either because Germans abandon it, or because it will cause Germans to go extinct.

    If you keep teaching your children that they as Germans are eternally responsible for the worst crime in history, then the most likely outcome is that most of them will feel that the survival of their own ethnic group is just not worth any sacrifices, and that Germans don't deserve to survive if to ensure survival they will have to do things that could in the slightest way be construed as nasty. It will feel like it's immoral to save that ethnic group.

    You have to recognize that Holocaustianity is a religion irrespective of the fact that there really was a holocaust with six (or probably closer to five) million victims and that it was organized by the German government of the time. Holocaustianity's teachings center around how Germans (and others) should behave now, even though it has very weak logical connection to the historical facts.

    I don’t really have time for an elaborate answer, so I’ll keep it short: In general I agree with you that all that “responsibility for crimes committed by people long dead”-business is ridiculous (e.g. Africans who want compensation from Britain or other western countries for slavery are just shameless). However, Nazism’s crimes are (just barely) within living memory, and I don’t think you can simply dismiss its effects on people still living today with arguments like “Israel has a first world-quality of life” or “Poland annexed German territory”…true, but on the other hand, Poles have to live with their country being permanently associated with extermination camps and with the knowledge that not that long ago their neighbours regarded them as subhuman slaves, and Jews have to live with the knowledge that there was a powerful movement that wanted to see every single Jew dead. As for Germans, I don’t think you fully understand the personal dimension…I’m not that old (31) and I’m only half-German and pretty far to the right, but even I feel a certain unease about what my relatives may or may not have done during Nazism (and my grandfather wasn’t a Nazi apologist after the war and talked openly about at least some of his experiences during the Third Reich…I suppose it’s more difficult for people in whose families there was only silence about that past).
    So I think to some degree it’s impossible not to acknowledge those realities. I’m however most certainly not in favour of permanent self-flagellation or making Nazism the corner-stone of German identity as unfortunately it seems to have become. Also German “guilt” has to be tied to the concrete historical events, and shouldn’t be used as justification for misguided generalized “anti-nationalism” and “anti-racism” (as an analogy think of the US…maybe affirmation action there would be ok if limited to genuine descendants of American slaves…it most certainly isn’t appropriate though for recent African or other non-white immigrants, because of some absurd “diversity” ideology).

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    • Replies: @iffen
    You do a good job of elaborating the different aspects. Rather than guilt, I think in terms of heighten sensitivity. There is nothing wrong with having an understanding of why some groups might feel distrustful or resentful. It does not mean that the current circumstances warrant that response on their part. Nasty business in the past does not give any group carte blanche for whatever demands they may have today. At the same time there is no reason to deny any part of the past. Yes, bad things happened in the past; yes, they need to be remembered so we don't repeat them. No, it should not have complete control of our future.
    , @reiner Tor

    I don’t think you can simply dismiss its effects on people still living today with arguments like “Israel has a first world-quality of life”
     
    Maybe I wasn't clear. Israel's population is majority Sephardi/Mizrahi. Neither of which suffered at the hands of the Nazis at all. I'd bet at least a third or possibly over half of the ancestors of the Israeli Ashkenazi also never suffered from the holocaust - they were either already in Israel (or elsewhere outside Nazi rule) or were in the unoccupied areas of the USSR. These groups indeed received a windfall - both ex-Soviet Jews and especially Mizrahi/Sephardi Jews had it quite a bit lucky when they could emigrate to Israel.

    When Germany is giving money to Israel, it's giving money essentially to these (since only a small minority of Israel's population had any connection to the holocaust at all), and I think it's quite perverse to give money to these populations which have already received a windfall.

    But that's what you're advocating, Because Holocaust.
    , @reiner Tor

    Poles have to live with their country being permanently associated with extermination camps and with the knowledge that not that long ago their neighbours regarded them as subhuman slaves
     
    You convinced me that the horrors of "having to live with their country being permanently associated with extermination camps" or "knowledge that not that long ago their neighbours regarded them as subhuman slaves" are probably just as bad as the well-known devastating effect of microaggressions. Except that I'm sure that as an intelligent member of the iSteve readership you sure don't take the microaggressions cult too seriously.

    I’m not that old (31) and I’m only half-German
     
    What is your other nationality?

    even I feel a certain unease about what my relatives may or may not have done during Nazism (and my grandfather wasn’t a Nazi apologist after the war and talked openly about at least some of his experiences during the Third Reich…I suppose it’s more difficult for people in whose families there was only silence about that past).
     
    The Germans did things that humans occasionally do. For example mass murdering others. Have you read for example Ordinary Men by Christopher Browning? A seminal study, and interesting, especially if you've also read Goldhagen's outrageous book. (Quite a few distortions of Goldhagen are mentioned in the foreword of Browning's book. For example when discussing the German desire to exterminate the Jews, Goldhagen mentions a certain death march, where the German guards were shooting prisoners as part of a contest, 'who can shoot more prisoners on any pretext'. Goldhagen of course failed to mention how the prisoners were basically all gentiles, mostly I think Slavs.) I've read up on the subject, so I can give you grisly details if you need them. But what can you - or other Germans - do about it? Well-adjusted adults just accept facts of life (like that our parents aren't/weren't perfect, or that humans, any humans, occasionally do commit mass murder) without obsessing about them. Do you have any doubt in your mind that members other ethnicities (Chinese, Armenians, Poles, British, or indeed Jews) are also capable of such crimes? In fact, members of these (and many other) ethnicities have already committed comparable crimes. Here's a Boer child in a British concentration camp, after all, the concentration camp was a British invention. I need not mention the Armenian and Jewish members of the Soviet secret police, etc. So are you uneasy about the fact that Germans behavior wasn't better than the behavior of many other human groups in history? That the nastiest Germans were every bit as nasty as the nastiest of other ethnic groups?

    On the other hand, my late grandfather was a member of a communist militia after the revolution in 1956. I haven't looked up what he did - mostly out of laziness than anything else - but I guess he did some bad things. Probably he didn't kill anyone (not impossible, but not terribly likely either, given what I know about this militia), but I think he did participate in arrests (they arrested mostly revolutionaries, patriots and anti-communists - his militia was organized from members of the military, to which he himself belonged as a political officer, and so they weren't out there to go after ordinary criminals), in any event, I'm not proud of it. (I only knew him as the best grandfather in the world.) But I don't obsess over it. I cannot undo what he did, nor do I think it still matters much. And even if it did, I still couldn't do anything about it. I'm just living a normal life, as I'd do anyway regardless of my grandfather.

    So what do grandparents' deeds have to do with how Germany should behave now?

    I’m however most certainly not in favour of permanent self-flagellation or making Nazism the corner-stone of German identity as unfortunately it seems to have become. Also German “guilt” has to be tied to the concrete historical events, and shouldn’t be used as justification for misguided generalized “anti-nationalism” and “anti-racism”
     
    That's a psychological impossibility. If you teach people that their (or their compatriots') ancestors committed The Very Worst Crime Ever Which Was Totally Unique, then a huge portion of them will obsess about it, and even those who won't will lose at least part of the will to survive as a national community.

    My solution is simple (but, unfortunately, not easy to implement in the current climate): teach children that there was nothing unique about the holocaust, it's just what humans (unfortunately) do occasionally. Mention how Germans found eager executioners everywhere, which means the holocaust wasn't a unique German thing anyway. Mention how members of other ethnic groups organized comparable crimes (including for example Zinoviev's remark about how they needed to "get rid of" 10% of Russia's population, you can find parallels with Göring's similar remarks), and how it's just not such a big deal, after all. At the same time, teach them all the magnificent German achievements. You can even teach them how talented the Germans were at fighting the world wars (on a per capita basis, they were pretty efficient).

    You don't need to teach nonsense like holocaust-denialism, just simply group the facts in a way that they won't think too much of it, and that they'll become proud Germans.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @German_reader
    Well, Germans did perpetrate the Holocaust and it's hard to deny that the Germans of the 1930s and 1940s had some collective responsibility for Nazi crimes because there was a large element of consensus to Nazi rule. I accept that, and I'm ok with arguments that even the German state of today has some special responsibility towards countries and groups victimised by Nazism (e.g. Poland, Jews in the form of the state of Israel, even gypsies despite their often problematic behaviour).
    What I do object to is the utilization of the Nazi past for general multiculturalist mass immigration policies, to the benefit of populations which weren't affected by Nazism, or even had pro-Nazi sympathies (like many Arabs did in the 1930s and 1940s).

    The question is not whether “Germans did perpetrate the Holocaust” or not.

    First, there’s no reason to think it was “worse” than many other instances of mass murder committed by humans. You can, of course, give definitions that may make it worse (like “it was organized” – but could it not be a mitigating circumstance, like how it only depended on Hitler’s personal decisions, and so it was less a collective fault of all Germans, than for example the mindless mass murders perpetrated by African tribes against one another?), but at the end of the day it doesn’t seem convincing that Germans need to teach their children that it was the worst crime ever.

    Second, there’s no reason to think that members of an ethnic group whose members several generations ago committed horrible crimes against another ethnic group owe anything to the present-day members of the victim group. Do Mongols pay reparations? Turks? (Not even to Armenians or Greeks, who were massacred a century or less ago.) Hutus?

    Third, it wasn’t only Germans who did it. For example in Hungary there’s an ongoing battle between those who say it was all done by the Germans and those few Hungarians who were handpicked by the Germans to do their bidding, and those (leftists) who think that in Hungary it was more the fault of the Hungarians. They approvingly quote Veesenmayer (Hitler’s all-powerful representative in Hungary in 1944) and Eichmann, both of whom expressed views about how eager Hungarians were. (Let’s just mention that at least Veesenmayer definitely changed his point of view over time, complaining about those Judaised Hungarians in 1943 and then complaining about Hungarian barbarity and anti-Semitism after 1945.) In any event, it’s even possible that the majority of the perpetrators on the ground were non-Germans. How about their responsibility? Or if they were handpicked or forced by the Germans, how could it not be true of many German perpetrators, who were also handpicked or forced to participate by Hitler and his minions?

    Fourth, you have a warped view of who were the victims. The large majority of the victims died. The large majority of the survivors are now already dead, too. The large majority of (the ancestors of) Israeli Jews had nothing to do with the holocaust, one way or the other. Why do you think you have responsibility for these distant relatives of Holocaust victims who actually had a huge windfall (the creation of Israel with first world living standards) over the last century? Poland, on the other hand, already received a huge chunk of territory in compensation. (Not that Israel or Jews in general received nothing from Germany.) Why do you think you have further responsibility for Poles? Regarding other victim groups, let me just pick one, the Greeks. You might know how the Greek government just started to ask for further reparations a few months ago. Even though they’ve already received reparations (and signed and ratified that they won’t lay any further claims), and even though they were occupied by the Turks whose occupation lasted several centuries and the negative effects probably exceeded those of the German occupation by a very very wide margin. Still they aren’t claiming reparations from Turkey. Why should they be entitled to claim them from Germany?

    Fifth, once it’s established that your point of view (i.e. “German responsibility for victim groups”) is just a product of the same teaching of Holocaustianity that results in #refugeeswelcome, I don’t think you can protest other (albeit more extreme and even less logical) products of the same religion without criticizing your own religion yourself. I’d say this religion is not evolutionary stable: it will disappear either because Germans abandon it, or because it will cause Germans to go extinct.

    If you keep teaching your children that they as Germans are eternally responsible for the worst crime in history, then the most likely outcome is that most of them will feel that the survival of their own ethnic group is just not worth any sacrifices, and that Germans don’t deserve to survive if to ensure survival they will have to do things that could in the slightest way be construed as nasty. It will feel like it’s immoral to save that ethnic group.

    You have to recognize that Holocaustianity is a religion irrespective of the fact that there really was a holocaust with six (or probably closer to five) million victims and that it was organized by the German government of the time. Holocaustianity’s teachings center around how Germans (and others) should behave now, even though it has very weak logical connection to the historical facts.

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    • Replies: @German_reader
    I don't really have time for an elaborate answer, so I'll keep it short: In general I agree with you that all that "responsibility for crimes committed by people long dead"-business is ridiculous (e.g. Africans who want compensation from Britain or other western countries for slavery are just shameless). However, Nazism's crimes are (just barely) within living memory, and I don't think you can simply dismiss its effects on people still living today with arguments like "Israel has a first world-quality of life" or "Poland annexed German territory"...true, but on the other hand, Poles have to live with their country being permanently associated with extermination camps and with the knowledge that not that long ago their neighbours regarded them as subhuman slaves, and Jews have to live with the knowledge that there was a powerful movement that wanted to see every single Jew dead. As for Germans, I don't think you fully understand the personal dimension...I'm not that old (31) and I'm only half-German and pretty far to the right, but even I feel a certain unease about what my relatives may or may not have done during Nazism (and my grandfather wasn't a Nazi apologist after the war and talked openly about at least some of his experiences during the Third Reich...I suppose it's more difficult for people in whose families there was only silence about that past).
    So I think to some degree it's impossible not to acknowledge those realities. I'm however most certainly not in favour of permanent self-flagellation or making Nazism the corner-stone of German identity as unfortunately it seems to have become. Also German "guilt" has to be tied to the concrete historical events, and shouldn't be used as justification for misguided generalized "anti-nationalism" and "anti-racism" (as an analogy think of the US...maybe affirmation action there would be ok if limited to genuine descendants of American slaves...it most certainly isn't appropriate though for recent African or other non-white immigrants, because of some absurd "diversity" ideology).
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @reiner Tor
    Well, German children are taught that the worst ever crime in history, the holocaust, was perpetrated by Germans, and that Germans as a group bear responsibility for the whole thing.

    But which planet are you from that you've never heard of that?

    Well, Germans did perpetrate the Holocaust and it’s hard to deny that the Germans of the 1930s and 1940s had some collective responsibility for Nazi crimes because there was a large element of consensus to Nazi rule. I accept that, and I’m ok with arguments that even the German state of today has some special responsibility towards countries and groups victimised by Nazism (e.g. Poland, Jews in the form of the state of Israel, even gypsies despite their often problematic behaviour).
    What I do object to is the utilization of the Nazi past for general multiculturalist mass immigration policies, to the benefit of populations which weren’t affected by Nazism, or even had pro-Nazi sympathies (like many Arabs did in the 1930s and 1940s).

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    • Agree: iffen
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    The question is not whether "Germans did perpetrate the Holocaust" or not.

    First, there's no reason to think it was "worse" than many other instances of mass murder committed by humans. You can, of course, give definitions that may make it worse (like "it was organized" - but could it not be a mitigating circumstance, like how it only depended on Hitler's personal decisions, and so it was less a collective fault of all Germans, than for example the mindless mass murders perpetrated by African tribes against one another?), but at the end of the day it doesn't seem convincing that Germans need to teach their children that it was the worst crime ever.

    Second, there's no reason to think that members of an ethnic group whose members several generations ago committed horrible crimes against another ethnic group owe anything to the present-day members of the victim group. Do Mongols pay reparations? Turks? (Not even to Armenians or Greeks, who were massacred a century or less ago.) Hutus?

    Third, it wasn't only Germans who did it. For example in Hungary there's an ongoing battle between those who say it was all done by the Germans and those few Hungarians who were handpicked by the Germans to do their bidding, and those (leftists) who think that in Hungary it was more the fault of the Hungarians. They approvingly quote Veesenmayer (Hitler's all-powerful representative in Hungary in 1944) and Eichmann, both of whom expressed views about how eager Hungarians were. (Let's just mention that at least Veesenmayer definitely changed his point of view over time, complaining about those Judaised Hungarians in 1943 and then complaining about Hungarian barbarity and anti-Semitism after 1945.) In any event, it's even possible that the majority of the perpetrators on the ground were non-Germans. How about their responsibility? Or if they were handpicked or forced by the Germans, how could it not be true of many German perpetrators, who were also handpicked or forced to participate by Hitler and his minions?

    Fourth, you have a warped view of who were the victims. The large majority of the victims died. The large majority of the survivors are now already dead, too. The large majority of (the ancestors of) Israeli Jews had nothing to do with the holocaust, one way or the other. Why do you think you have responsibility for these distant relatives of Holocaust victims who actually had a huge windfall (the creation of Israel with first world living standards) over the last century? Poland, on the other hand, already received a huge chunk of territory in compensation. (Not that Israel or Jews in general received nothing from Germany.) Why do you think you have further responsibility for Poles? Regarding other victim groups, let me just pick one, the Greeks. You might know how the Greek government just started to ask for further reparations a few months ago. Even though they've already received reparations (and signed and ratified that they won't lay any further claims), and even though they were occupied by the Turks whose occupation lasted several centuries and the negative effects probably exceeded those of the German occupation by a very very wide margin. Still they aren't claiming reparations from Turkey. Why should they be entitled to claim them from Germany?

    Fifth, once it's established that your point of view (i.e. "German responsibility for victim groups") is just a product of the same teaching of Holocaustianity that results in #refugeeswelcome, I don't think you can protest other (albeit more extreme and even less logical) products of the same religion without criticizing your own religion yourself. I'd say this religion is not evolutionary stable: it will disappear either because Germans abandon it, or because it will cause Germans to go extinct.

    If you keep teaching your children that they as Germans are eternally responsible for the worst crime in history, then the most likely outcome is that most of them will feel that the survival of their own ethnic group is just not worth any sacrifices, and that Germans don't deserve to survive if to ensure survival they will have to do things that could in the slightest way be construed as nasty. It will feel like it's immoral to save that ethnic group.

    You have to recognize that Holocaustianity is a religion irrespective of the fact that there really was a holocaust with six (or probably closer to five) million victims and that it was organized by the German government of the time. Holocaustianity's teachings center around how Germans (and others) should behave now, even though it has very weak logical connection to the historical facts.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @rkka
    "By your reasoning, the British people also voted for war, because their democratically elected leaders made multiple pacts with this very same leader."

    They did indeed. Neville Chamberlain's idea was "Germany and England as two pillars of European Peace and buttresses against Communism." until Adolf signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

    "And you failed to mention the climate of intimidation during the vote (like the building was full of SA men and huge swastika flags, it was already martial law with the police and auxiliary police, including the SA, to pretty much arrest anyone they wanted to), the fact that many representatives were not allowed to vote, and the fact that the elections were no longer free in March 1933. "

    Indeed. The Socialists had mighty courage to vote against the Enabling Act.

    Regardless of what Chamberlain’s idea was (and I’m quite sure it didn’t include a German empire from the Rhein all the way to the Ural), the British people didn’t vote for war. Neither did the German people.

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  • @reiner Tor
    By your reasoning, the British people also voted for war, because their democratically elected leaders made multiple pacts with this very same leader.

    And you failed to mention the climate of intimidation during the vote (like the building was full of SA men and huge swastika flags, it was already martial law with the police and auxiliary police, including the SA, to pretty much arrest anyone they wanted to), the fact that many representatives were not allowed to vote, and the fact that the elections were no longer free in March 1933.

    And then let's also mention that war preparations didn't much start until 1936, before that the Germans spent modest sums on the Reichswehr or Wehrmacht. You might be pretty familiar with how the Reichswehr was inadequate to guard the border and was weaker than the armed forced of much smaller Belgium and Czechoslovakia.

    “By your reasoning, the British people also voted for war, because their democratically elected leaders made multiple pacts with this very same leader.”

    They did indeed. Neville Chamberlain’s idea was “Germany and England as two pillars of European Peace and buttresses against Communism.” until Adolf signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

    “And you failed to mention the climate of intimidation during the vote (like the building was full of SA men and huge swastika flags, it was already martial law with the police and auxiliary police, including the SA, to pretty much arrest anyone they wanted to), the fact that many representatives were not allowed to vote, and the fact that the elections were no longer free in March 1933. ”

    Indeed. The Socialists had mighty courage to vote against the Enabling Act.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Regardless of what Chamberlain's idea was (and I'm quite sure it didn't include a German empire from the Rhein all the way to the Ural), the British people didn't vote for war. Neither did the German people.
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  • @iffen
    I am skeptical that they are being taught that they (the German people) are the worst monsters to have ever existed. I was assuming an analogy between people who promote this German specific idea and the people in the US who promote the idea that our children (US) are being taught that white people are monsters. This is a mangled idea in the US and I assumed the same for Germany.

    BTW, thanks to all the AK readers who helped me find out what svidomy means.

    Well, German children are taught that the worst ever crime in history, the holocaust, was perpetrated by Germans, and that Germans as a group bear responsibility for the whole thing.

    But which planet are you from that you’ve never heard of that?

    Read More
    • Replies: @German_reader
    Well, Germans did perpetrate the Holocaust and it's hard to deny that the Germans of the 1930s and 1940s had some collective responsibility for Nazi crimes because there was a large element of consensus to Nazi rule. I accept that, and I'm ok with arguments that even the German state of today has some special responsibility towards countries and groups victimised by Nazism (e.g. Poland, Jews in the form of the state of Israel, even gypsies despite their often problematic behaviour).
    What I do object to is the utilization of the Nazi past for general multiculturalist mass immigration policies, to the benefit of populations which weren't affected by Nazism, or even had pro-Nazi sympathies (like many Arabs did in the 1930s and 1940s).
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @reiner Tor
    Do you dispute this is what German children are being taught?

    I am skeptical that they are being taught that they (the German people) are the worst monsters to have ever existed. I was assuming an analogy between people who promote this German specific idea and the people in the US who promote the idea that our children (US) are being taught that white people are monsters. This is a mangled idea in the US and I assumed the same for Germany.

    BTW, thanks to all the AK readers who helped me find out what svidomy means.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Well, German children are taught that the worst ever crime in history, the holocaust, was perpetrated by Germans, and that Germans as a group bear responsibility for the whole thing.

    But which planet are you from that you've never heard of that?
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @iffen

    their ethnic community has been the worst monster in human history
     
    Really?

    Do you dispute this is what German children are being taught?

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    • Replies: @iffen
    I am skeptical that they are being taught that they (the German people) are the worst monsters to have ever existed. I was assuming an analogy between people who promote this German specific idea and the people in the US who promote the idea that our children (US) are being taught that white people are monsters. This is a mangled idea in the US and I assumed the same for Germany.

    BTW, thanks to all the AK readers who helped me find out what svidomy means.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @rkka
    "Besides, nobody voted for the world war or the holocaust."

    The legislature they elected voted by a 5/6 majority to give the power to legislate by decree the to guy who wrote "When we speak of land in Europe today, we can have in mind primarily only Russia and her vassal border states."

    Seems a pretty clear vote for war, the preparations for which began pretty quickly once he got that power.

    Voters vote for party programmes, not for any and every sentence that someone so inclined may pluck out of anything a party leader may have uttered many years previously.
    The NSDAP programme included nothing about starting a war against Russia or indeed anyone else.
    If these statements were not about Hitler and Germany, they would be so obvious that nobody would ever dispute them.

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  • @rkka
    "What is important is not so much “the money”, as this article states, (because obviously no money can ever compensate for what has been lost), but in the language of the UN “promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity”, namely, making sure that Russia or any other country wouldn’t assume that it is ok to repeat something like that."

    Except that in 2003 a large country invaded and occupied a smaller country that was no threat to it, with no Security Council authorization, on a trumped-up pretext, as clear an example of waging aggressive war as you can find.

    So your plan has already failed.

    rkka, I know. I was just explaining what some nationalist politicians and their lawyers are trying to do, it doesn’t mean I don’t see the futility of it.

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  • @rkka
    "Besides, nobody voted for the world war or the holocaust."

    The legislature they elected voted by a 5/6 majority to give the power to legislate by decree the to guy who wrote "When we speak of land in Europe today, we can have in mind primarily only Russia and her vassal border states."

    Seems a pretty clear vote for war, the preparations for which began pretty quickly once he got that power.

    By your reasoning, the British people also voted for war, because their democratically elected leaders made multiple pacts with this very same leader.

    And you failed to mention the climate of intimidation during the vote (like the building was full of SA men and huge swastika flags, it was already martial law with the police and auxiliary police, including the SA, to pretty much arrest anyone they wanted to), the fact that many representatives were not allowed to vote, and the fact that the elections were no longer free in March 1933.

    And then let’s also mention that war preparations didn’t much start until 1936, before that the Germans spent modest sums on the Reichswehr or Wehrmacht. You might be pretty familiar with how the Reichswehr was inadequate to guard the border and was weaker than the armed forced of much smaller Belgium and Czechoslovakia.

    Read More
    • Replies: @rkka
    "By your reasoning, the British people also voted for war, because their democratically elected leaders made multiple pacts with this very same leader."

    They did indeed. Neville Chamberlain's idea was "Germany and England as two pillars of European Peace and buttresses against Communism." until Adolf signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

    "And you failed to mention the climate of intimidation during the vote (like the building was full of SA men and huge swastika flags, it was already martial law with the police and auxiliary police, including the SA, to pretty much arrest anyone they wanted to), the fact that many representatives were not allowed to vote, and the fact that the elections were no longer free in March 1933. "

    Indeed. The Socialists had mighty courage to vote against the Enabling Act.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Latvians in the highest echelons of the Soviet leadership is not just a feature of the post-revolutionary times. Throughout the whole existence of the USSR there were always some Latvians among the Soviet bosses. For example, Arvids Pelse was a fixture for decades. He was a Latvian Rifle himself. In his last years, until his death in the mid-80s, he was in charge of the Communist Party’s Control Committee, i.e. the organization that policed the party members. The last Soviet Minister of the Internal Affairs was a Latvian, Boris Pugo (and the son of a Latvian Rifle.) In the USSR, the Minister of Internal Affairs is the chief of police (see the pattern?) Pugo joined the anti-Gorbachev coup and committed suicide when it failed, so he wasn’t any kind of secret liberal.

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  • @reiner Tor

    Germany voted the Nazis into power
     
    It's an oversimplification. Besides, nobody voted for the world war or the holocaust. Gestapo reports complained around 1934 that even "good National Socialists" thought the Jewish question had been solved and nothing further was needed.

    “Besides, nobody voted for the world war or the holocaust.”

    The legislature they elected voted by a 5/6 majority to give the power to legislate by decree the to guy who wrote “When we speak of land in Europe today, we can have in mind primarily only Russia and her vassal border states.”

    Seems a pretty clear vote for war, the preparations for which began pretty quickly once he got that power.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    By your reasoning, the British people also voted for war, because their democratically elected leaders made multiple pacts with this very same leader.

    And you failed to mention the climate of intimidation during the vote (like the building was full of SA men and huge swastika flags, it was already martial law with the police and auxiliary police, including the SA, to pretty much arrest anyone they wanted to), the fact that many representatives were not allowed to vote, and the fact that the elections were no longer free in March 1933.

    And then let's also mention that war preparations didn't much start until 1936, before that the Germans spent modest sums on the Reichswehr or Wehrmacht. You might be pretty familiar with how the Reichswehr was inadequate to guard the border and was weaker than the armed forced of much smaller Belgium and Czechoslovakia.
    , @5371
    Voters vote for party programmes, not for any and every sentence that someone so inclined may pluck out of anything a party leader may have uttered many years previously.
    The NSDAP programme included nothing about starting a war against Russia or indeed anyone else.
    If these statements were not about Hitler and Germany, they would be so obvious that nobody would ever dispute them.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Latvian woman
    To answer your question:

    I agree that Russia doesn't entirely represent USSR, however, Russia itself agreed to inherit the Soviet Union's obligations such as non-proliferation, debt (which it already paid back, if I'm not mistaken), etc. I don't know how this works from the point of view of international law and what they get out of it (or lose).

    Regarding the Baltic claims, first of all - this is not the government's position and it's not on the government's agenda right now. It was a declaration that was made during a conference and it was based on some historic review that has been going on for about 10 years. What is important is not so much "the money", as this article states, (because obviously no money can ever compensate for what has been lost), but in the language of the UN "promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity", namely, making sure that Russia or any other country wouldn't assume that it is ok to repeat something like that.

    I think what we need in Eastern Europe is to recognize that the age of empires is over. To make sure that Russia admits this too and accepts to live with that. But to remember what happened.

    “What is important is not so much “the money”, as this article states, (because obviously no money can ever compensate for what has been lost), but in the language of the UN “promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity”, namely, making sure that Russia or any other country wouldn’t assume that it is ok to repeat something like that.”

    Except that in 2003 a large country invaded and occupied a smaller country that was no threat to it, with no Security Council authorization, on a trumped-up pretext, as clear an example of waging aggressive war as you can find.

    So your plan has already failed.

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    • Replies: @Latvian woman
    rkka, I know. I was just explaining what some nationalist politicians and their lawyers are trying to do, it doesn't mean I don't see the futility of it.
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  • @reiner Tor

    I’m no longer sure if talking endlessly about past crimes and injustices is such a good idea
     
    Well, you have first hand experience whether it's a great idea to teach subsequent generations of children in an ethnic community that their ethnic community has been the worst monster in human history. It can lead to ethnic suicide (like #refugeeswelcome), but what positive can come out of it? I guess nothing. We should accept the past sins of our ancestors like adult men: accept the fact, and then leave it to that.

    That’s what I meant, Germany’s relationship to its past and itself has become pathological. I’m all for facing the truth, and obviously the truth about what Germans did during Nazism is very disturbing…but I’m definitely not in favour of Germany (and in the long run even the victims of German aggression like Poland) being submerged by a never-ending flood of Arabs and Africans, as some kind of twisted “atonement”.

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  • @reiner Tor

    I’m no longer sure if talking endlessly about past crimes and injustices is such a good idea
     
    Well, you have first hand experience whether it's a great idea to teach subsequent generations of children in an ethnic community that their ethnic community has been the worst monster in human history. It can lead to ethnic suicide (like #refugeeswelcome), but what positive can come out of it? I guess nothing. We should accept the past sins of our ancestors like adult men: accept the fact, and then leave it to that.

    their ethnic community has been the worst monster in human history

    Really?

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Do you dispute this is what German children are being taught?
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  • @AP

    The revolutionaries in Russia, both before and for some time after the Revolution, were a coalition of the fringes fighting the majority.
     
    They were fringes, and they were certainly a minority, but they weren't exactly fighting a majority. The majority were indifferent; otherwise the fringes would not have taken over.

    This is why reparations don't make sense. Germany voted the Nazis into power - thus the German people bear some responsibility. Russia was essentially hijacked.

    I think I remember a quote from Pilsudsky to the effect that he got off the red street car at a station called Independence. The equivalent street car of today is rainbow-colored and star-spangled, not red. The modern eastern European nations got on it to get away from Russia, but they never got off on the station called Independence. That street car is still moving them leftwards, towards a multi-culti, refugee-swamped future. It’s gatehring speed, they don’t know how to stop it, its doors won’t open.
     
    This is a very eloquent comment but not realistic yet. Poland and Hungary are certainly not moving leftwards (Poland just got a more rightwing government than it had previously, and in Poland the Left failed to pass the threshold to even get into Parliament!), neither are they flooded by refugees. Your speculations about the future are just that. For all we know, by the time eastern Europe would be "ready" to accept significant numbers of refugees even the West won't want any anymore and will abandon such policies.

    Germany voted the Nazis into power

    It’s an oversimplification. Besides, nobody voted for the world war or the holocaust. Gestapo reports complained around 1934 that even “good National Socialists” thought the Jewish question had been solved and nothing further was needed.

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    • Replies: @rkka
    "Besides, nobody voted for the world war or the holocaust."

    The legislature they elected voted by a 5/6 majority to give the power to legislate by decree the to guy who wrote "When we speak of land in Europe today, we can have in mind primarily only Russia and her vassal border states."

    Seems a pretty clear vote for war, the preparations for which began pretty quickly once he got that power.

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  • @silviosilver

    If the Revolution failed, if the Whites or someone like them won, Russian and global history would have changed for the better enormously.
     
    Lol, according to Glossy the Soviet Union was the greatest country on earth, but had the Bolshies lost, Russian megalomonia would have been even better. Life's very simple when you can just make it all up as you go, isn't it.

    In reality, a non-Soviet Russia would, in all likelihood, have been just as bad/even worse for non-Russian neighboring states and peoples as/than was the USSR.

    a non-Soviet Russia would, in all likelihood, have been just as bad/even worse for non-Russian neighboring states and peoples as/than was the USSR

    Not necessarily, for example Russian occupation in Hungary was made quite a bit worse by the fact that Russians not only wanted to keep Hungary devoid of national independence (we were left nominal independence, though), but they also forced their stupid irrational economic system on us, depriving Hungarians of even economic opportunities.

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  • @German_reader
    Well yes, no doubt those Latvian riflemen had a pernicious influence on Russian history...but I don't quite see the connection between them and the Latvians that became victims of Soviet oppression from 1940 onwards. It's not like those Latvian riflemen acted as representatives of the Latvian nation, let alone a Latvian state which didn't exist then.
    But anyway, since I'm neither Russian nor from the Baltics, I don't really want to get sucked up into that debate. I'm no longer sure if talking endlessly about past crimes and injustices is such a good idea (what Germans call "Vergangenheitsbewältigung"). Its proponents in the West usually have an agenda that isn't mine (nor that of Baltic nationalists).

    I’m no longer sure if talking endlessly about past crimes and injustices is such a good idea

    Well, you have first hand experience whether it’s a great idea to teach subsequent generations of children in an ethnic community that their ethnic community has been the worst monster in human history. It can lead to ethnic suicide (like #refugeeswelcome), but what positive can come out of it? I guess nothing. We should accept the past sins of our ancestors like adult men: accept the fact, and then leave it to that.

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    • Replies: @iffen

    their ethnic community has been the worst monster in human history
     
    Really?
    , @German_reader
    That's what I meant, Germany's relationship to its past and itself has become pathological. I'm all for facing the truth, and obviously the truth about what Germans did during Nazism is very disturbing...but I'm definitely not in favour of Germany (and in the long run even the victims of German aggression like Poland) being submerged by a never-ending flood of Arabs and Africans, as some kind of twisted "atonement".
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  • @Glossy
    Either way you can qualify them as mercenaries and they didn’t represent the Latvian state (which was only founded in 1918)

    And Russians could say that Stalin's USSR didn't represent the modern Russian state which was founded in 1991. Do you think that the Latvian government is justified in suing modern Russia for money?

    To answer your question:

    I agree that Russia doesn’t entirely represent USSR, however, Russia itself agreed to inherit the Soviet Union’s obligations such as non-proliferation, debt (which it already paid back, if I’m not mistaken), etc. I don’t know how this works from the point of view of international law and what they get out of it (or lose).

    Regarding the Baltic claims, first of all – this is not the government’s position and it’s not on the government’s agenda right now. It was a declaration that was made during a conference and it was based on some historic review that has been going on for about 10 years. What is important is not so much “the money”, as this article states, (because obviously no money can ever compensate for what has been lost), but in the language of the UN “promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity”, namely, making sure that Russia or any other country wouldn’t assume that it is ok to repeat something like that.

    I think what we need in Eastern Europe is to recognize that the age of empires is over. To make sure that Russia admits this too and accepts to live with that. But to remember what happened.

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    • Replies: @rkka
    "What is important is not so much “the money”, as this article states, (because obviously no money can ever compensate for what has been lost), but in the language of the UN “promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity”, namely, making sure that Russia or any other country wouldn’t assume that it is ok to repeat something like that."

    Except that in 2003 a large country invaded and occupied a smaller country that was no threat to it, with no Security Council authorization, on a trumped-up pretext, as clear an example of waging aggressive war as you can find.

    So your plan has already failed.
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  • @Glossy
    I’d say this easily outweighs the actions of a few thousand Latvian riflemen in 1917/18.

    I don't know about that. If the Revolution failed, if the Whites or someone like them won, Russian and global history would have changed for the better enormously. It all depends on the extent of those riflemen's contribution to the Bolshevik cause in those crucial first months.

    Russian and global history would have changed for the better enormously

    How do you know this? Do you have some kind of peep hole into an alternate reality?

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  • What I forgot to mention was that during the WWI there was a huge wave of refugees from Latvia to Russia as the Russian army retreated and gave way to Germans. It might have been up to 750 000 people which is an insane number. A lot of them went to Petrograd, some of them returned, but during the crucial years of the revolution, the Latvians were one of the biggest, if not the biggest, group of non-Russian refugees in Petrograd. Many of them were into autonomy, but some were socialists. Maybe that could’ve had something to do with their over-representation.

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  • Ok, I knew Celmiņš was in a camp, but I had thought he was shot, well, at least that didn’t happen. Celmiņš was also more of a fascist, than a Nazi.

    One of Latvian president’s sons was also killed by the Nazis. Etc.

    Well, it’s ironic that somebody like Arājs, instead of Celmiņš turned out to be a German collaborator.

    Yes, those are all well known facts that you mention. The question of collaboration is very complex.

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  • @Latvian woman
    Ironically, the Nazis killed the biggest Latvian nationalist socialist, Gustavs Celmiņš.

    Speaking of Arājs, he is fully responsible, and he was a kind of a German educated career Nazi, but having said that, it wasn't easy for the Nazis to recruit Latvians who'd be willing to gang up in shooting of Jews. Then Arājs posted some leaflets about "joining in the extermination of the undesirables" - not only Jews but communists too. If I'm not mistaken, his team consisted of roughly 300 men. It was very painful to read about what they did, not just about the Jews, but also Belarus and Russia - it was extremely painful to read about them terrorizing Belorussian villagers.
    This is all off topic, but it is really terrible stuff.

    Arājs also said something like: "The deal with Germans is that if you sign up for them and give them even the smallest finger, they will end up making you do things that you had never envisioned yourself doing". No excuses, of course. Although some of the guys who were in Belarus actually must have seen their families killed by Bolsheviks in 1940s.

    There was also a pretty significant anti-Nazi resistance during the Nazi occupation - not just communists, but normal Latvian citizens.

    “Ironically, the Nazis killed the biggest Latvian nationalist socialist, Gustavs Celmiņš.”

    No, they didn’t kill him (he died in exile in the US in the 1960s)…but they put him in a concentration camp in 1944/45, and in general refused treating the Latvian fascists as partners (not that they are deserving of much sympathy, but Latvia’s fascists were pretty unlucky…in turn they got persecuted by Ulmanis’ authoritarian regime, the Soviets, the Nazis and then the Soviets again…).
    According to Björn Felder, the Germans made much use in their propaganda of the NKVD’s actions during the Soviet retreat in 1941 when the NKVD killed its prisoners en masse before leaving the Baltics, presenting it as the work of “Judeo-Bolshevism”.

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  • Ironically, the Nazis killed the biggest Latvian nationalist socialist, Gustavs Celmiņš.

    Speaking of Arājs, he is fully responsible, and he was a kind of a German educated career Nazi, but having said that, it wasn’t easy for the Nazis to recruit Latvians who’d be willing to gang up in shooting of Jews. Then Arājs posted some leaflets about “joining in the extermination of the undesirables” – not only Jews but communists too. If I’m not mistaken, his team consisted of roughly 300 men. It was very painful to read about what they did, not just about the Jews, but also Belarus and Russia – it was extremely painful to read about them terrorizing Belorussian villagers.
    This is all off topic, but it is really terrible stuff.

    Arājs also said something like: “The deal with Germans is that if you sign up for them and give them even the smallest finger, they will end up making you do things that you had never envisioned yourself doing”. No excuses, of course. Although some of the guys who were in Belarus actually must have seen their families killed by Bolsheviks in 1940s.

    There was also a pretty significant anti-Nazi resistance during the Nazi occupation – not just communists, but normal Latvian citizens.

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    • Replies: @German_reader
    "Ironically, the Nazis killed the biggest Latvian nationalist socialist, Gustavs Celmiņš."

    No, they didn't kill him (he died in exile in the US in the 1960s)...but they put him in a concentration camp in 1944/45, and in general refused treating the Latvian fascists as partners (not that they are deserving of much sympathy, but Latvia's fascists were pretty unlucky...in turn they got persecuted by Ulmanis' authoritarian regime, the Soviets, the Nazis and then the Soviets again...).
    According to Björn Felder, the Germans made much use in their propaganda of the NKVD's actions during the Soviet retreat in 1941 when the NKVD killed its prisoners en masse before leaving the Baltics, presenting it as the work of "Judeo-Bolshevism".
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  • @Latvian woman
    Well, sure as hell they didn't matter in 1940, 1944 and 1949.

    Without getting into the "who owes who what", just some context....

    In the beginning (around 1915), there were no red or white riflemen at all, just Latvian military groups that fought against the Germans on the side of the Russian empire in the Latvian territory. They lost 1/3 of the men to keep the Germans away from Riga so that Petrograd wouldn't get exposed to the German invasion. Some Latvians also fought to maintain the tsar's power. But many riflemen were motivated to join the Reds because Lenin promised them autonomy and land ownership - something very contrary to the collectivization that happened eventually. Many younger Latvian men did not inherit any land so they were motivated to join the military. Either way you can qualify them as mercenaries and they didn't represent the Latvian state (which was only founded in 1918). The Latvian communities in Russia were all destroyed anyway in the 1930s.

    During the tsarist times, most Latvians, unlike most Russians, were literate. I guess if you want to work in Cheka you need to be able to read the handbook, so it helps to be literate. The peak of Latvians in Cheka was 1917-1920, soon after they were mostly replaced by Russians and Jews.

    It is safe to say that for some reason the Balts tend to be over-represented in many areas... not just as Soviet functionaries, but also in professional basketball, in fashion modeling, back in the Soviet days it seemed they were over-represented as actors in the movies and in the food production.

    Either way you can qualify them as mercenaries and they didn’t represent the Latvian state (which was only founded in 1918)

    And Russians could say that Stalin’s USSR didn’t represent the modern Russian state which was founded in 1991. Do you think that the Latvian government is justified in suing modern Russia for money?

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    • Replies: @Latvian woman
    To answer your question:

    I agree that Russia doesn't entirely represent USSR, however, Russia itself agreed to inherit the Soviet Union's obligations such as non-proliferation, debt (which it already paid back, if I'm not mistaken), etc. I don't know how this works from the point of view of international law and what they get out of it (or lose).

    Regarding the Baltic claims, first of all - this is not the government's position and it's not on the government's agenda right now. It was a declaration that was made during a conference and it was based on some historic review that has been going on for about 10 years. What is important is not so much "the money", as this article states, (because obviously no money can ever compensate for what has been lost), but in the language of the UN "promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity", namely, making sure that Russia or any other country wouldn't assume that it is ok to repeat something like that.

    I think what we need in Eastern Europe is to recognize that the age of empires is over. To make sure that Russia admits this too and accepts to live with that. But to remember what happened.
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  • @Latvian woman
    Arājs' mother was German, by the way. Not that it matters, of course, but what is important is that they operated under the German occupation which did a lot of harm, just like the Soviet one. I agree with your point of weighing things out in the bigger perspective.

    Yes, no question that ultimate responsibility for the crimes of Arajs and his men lay with the Germans, and none of this would have happened without the Soviet and German occupations of 1940/1941 (in fact the policies of the Ulmanis regime towards minorities seem to have been fairly moderate by the standards of the time). There’s an unfortunate tendency in Western media to portray Latvians of the 1940s in general as enthusiastic Nazi collaborateurs and Jew-killers…I don’t share that view.
    Some Nazis also had a fairly negative view of Latvians…Alfred Rosenberg thought their elites ought to be killed. From what I’ve read, Latvian patriots in the 1940s were in some ways in an impossible situation. Björn Felder’s book that I mentioned earlier in the thread is fairly nuanced about this.

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  • @German_reader
    The issue doesn't concern me personally, but I don't find your argument very convincing. Yes, it is well known that non only Jews were over-represented among the early Bolsheviks, so were other minorities, including Balts. But none of this changes what happened from 1940 onwards, that the Soviet Union forcefully annexed the Baltic countries, run a programme of systematic killings of elites and of mass deportations and post-war purposefully settled Estonia and Latvia with Russian colonists (similar to what China is doing in Tibet). I'd say this easily outweighs the actions of a few thousand Latvian riflemen in 1917/18. Of course the Balts have some skeletons in the cupboard of their own (like the infamous Arajs unit and similar outfits), but still, your dismissal of what the Soviet Union did there seems a bit much. Reparations are a stupid idea, but I don't suppose the Balts seriously want them, probably more like an official recognition that they were the victims of grave injustice.
    For those who can read German I recommend Björn Felder, Lettland im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Zwischen sowjetischen und deutschen Besatzern 1940-1946, Paderborn 2009. Some of its theses concerning the interaction between Soviet and Nazi violence in the Baltics in 1940/41 are among the most interesting suggestions I've read about the 2nd world war.
    Btw, your penultimate paragraph is incomplete. {AK: Thanks}

    Arājs’ mother was German, by the way. Not that it matters, of course, but what is important is that they operated under the German occupation which did a lot of harm, just like the Soviet one. I agree with your point of weighing things out in the bigger perspective.

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    • Replies: @German_reader
    Yes, no question that ultimate responsibility for the crimes of Arajs and his men lay with the Germans, and none of this would have happened without the Soviet and German occupations of 1940/1941 (in fact the policies of the Ulmanis regime towards minorities seem to have been fairly moderate by the standards of the time). There's an unfortunate tendency in Western media to portray Latvians of the 1940s in general as enthusiastic Nazi collaborateurs and Jew-killers...I don't share that view.
    Some Nazis also had a fairly negative view of Latvians...Alfred Rosenberg thought their elites ought to be killed. From what I've read, Latvian patriots in the 1940s were in some ways in an impossible situation. Björn Felder's book that I mentioned earlier in the thread is fairly nuanced about this.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Well, sure as hell they didn’t matter in 1940, 1944 and 1949.

    Without getting into the “who owes who what”, just some context….

    In the beginning (around 1915), there were no red or white riflemen at all, just Latvian military groups that fought against the Germans on the side of the Russian empire in the Latvian territory. They lost 1/3 of the men to keep the Germans away from Riga so that Petrograd wouldn’t get exposed to the German invasion. Some Latvians also fought to maintain the tsar’s power. But many riflemen were motivated to join the Reds because Lenin promised them autonomy and land ownership – something very contrary to the collectivization that happened eventually. Many younger Latvian men did not inherit any land so they were motivated to join the military. Either way you can qualify them as mercenaries and they didn’t represent the Latvian state (which was only founded in 1918). The Latvian communities in Russia were all destroyed anyway in the 1930s.

    During the tsarist times, most Latvians, unlike most Russians, were literate. I guess if you want to work in Cheka you need to be able to read the handbook, so it helps to be literate. The peak of Latvians in Cheka was 1917-1920, soon after they were mostly replaced by Russians and Jews.

    It is safe to say that for some reason the Balts tend to be over-represented in many areas… not just as Soviet functionaries, but also in professional basketball, in fashion modeling, back in the Soviet days it seemed they were over-represented as actors in the movies and in the food production.

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    • Replies: @Glossy
    Either way you can qualify them as mercenaries and they didn’t represent the Latvian state (which was only founded in 1918)

    And Russians could say that Stalin's USSR didn't represent the modern Russian state which was founded in 1991. Do you think that the Latvian government is justified in suing modern Russia for money?
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  • Latvian Riflemen were brought to Sankt Petersburg and Moscow by Russian government.
    So only Russia is responsible for what the Latvian Riflemen did. You should have let be alone.

    And regarding bloody Felix – supposed polish. His brother who escaped from Soviet Russia to Poland, became officer of Polish Army. And had official ethnicity of Belarusian.
    (Not that there is much difference between polish and belarusian.)
    That is why he was spared in 1940 when Germans murdered polish elites.
    Nazie Germay was best ally of Soviet Rusia. He was murdered in second round of killings.

    https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/W%C5%82adys%C5%82aw_Dzier%C5%BCy%C5%84ski

    Anyway it is interesting that all the nations that know Russia well detest it.
    More interesting are thousands of Russians who flood Eastern European countries.
    And they all detest Russia as well.

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  • The West’s soft treatment of Hitler throughout the 1930′s was a way of getting him to fight Russia, just as the Nazi Soviet pact was intended to get him to fight the West, which is why Chamberlain started threatening war immediately the pact was announced,

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  • Maybe there should be reparations to the white Russians who lost their property after the revolution.

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  • @Glossy
    Dzerzhinsky was the only Pole among the members of the Bolshevik Central Committee.

    Point taken. The only other prominent Polish early Soviet leader I can think of is Rokossovski, but he was only half Polish and a professional officer, not a politician.

    Why did revolutionaries succeed? First, the czarist government had an incredibly lackadaisical attitude to them. Every one of them seems to have escaped from jail multiple times. They just kept walking out. Which governments today are having problems keeping convicts in jail? How common has this problem been historically worldwide? I don't think it's been common at all. It was a sign of ineptitude. If the czarist government was even 5% as serious about fighting revolutionaries as they were about fighting their opponents after they came to power, the revolution might not have happened. This applies to the effectiveness of banning their propaganda as well.

    Why did the czar abdicate? Most of the people who claw their way to power are strong-willed and hard to intimidate or guilt-trip. He got into a position of power by chance and seems to have been weak-willed.

    In summary, the revolutionaries had more motivation, they were more committed and single-minded than the government or conservatively-minded parts of the public.

    You are absolutely correct. In the Czar’s defense with respect to his humane treatment of the revolutionaries, however, the Bolsheviks were new and the extent of their brutality and ruthlessness was not really predictable prior to the Revolution. In this, I would compare the Czar’s soft treatment of Lenin et al to the West’s soft treatment of Hitler throughout the 1930′s. In hindsight, a terrible mistake with horrific consequences, but not unreasonable at the time.

    Why did the czar abdicate? Most of the people who claw their way to power are strong-willed and hard to intimidate or guilt-trip. He got into a position of power by chance and seems to have been weak-willed.

    He seems to have been a decent man but yes – weak-willed, and bumbling. The 20th century involved the decline of decency and its replacement by modernity and inhuman brutality. The new man with new morality could run circles around his predecessors (I see a parallel with the case of Alfred Redl in this) .

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  • @LondonBob
    Small countries that border larger ones that dominate them economically, socially and militarily always resent their large neighbour. Finland/Sweden, Ireland/England etc. The bigger country must be magnanimous and the smaller one stop whining. Of course as history shows when the poor helpless, kind hearted small nation gets the chance they will commit appalling atrocities against the larger nation.

    You can add Iraq/Iran to that list.

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  • @AP

    The revolutionaries were disproportionately ethnic minorities: Jews, Georgians, Poles, Latvians, Armenians, etc. Not just the leadership, the foot soldiers too.
     
    Poles? Dzerzhinsky was the only Pole among the members of the Bolshevik Central Committee. Poles were about 6.3% of the Russian population (the 4th largest ethnicity) according to the 1897 Russian census and 4.7% of the Central Committee.

    From the ethnic point of view there was a fringes vs. the core dynamic there.
     
    Most Russians were not svidomy at the time of the Revolution so after the breakdown of the central government it was basically a struggle between two small and motivated groups: Bolsheviks vs. Svidomy Russians (Cossacks, better-educated middle and upper classes, etc.) The illiterate peasants, who did not have much of a sense of patriotism/svidomism because that is a product of education, either didn't take part until forced to through conscription or defended their own villages in an unorganized way.

    While the Russian people did not for the most part support the Bolsheviks it wasn't as if the Bolshevik fringe conquered a vast and hostile land.

    Dzerzhinsky was the only Pole among the members of the Bolshevik Central Committee.

    Point taken. The only other prominent Polish early Soviet leader I can think of is Rokossovski, but he was only half Polish and a professional officer, not a politician.

    Why did revolutionaries succeed? First, the czarist government had an incredibly lackadaisical attitude to them. Every one of them seems to have escaped from jail multiple times. They just kept walking out. Which governments today are having problems keeping convicts in jail? How common has this problem been historically worldwide? I don’t think it’s been common at all. It was a sign of ineptitude. If the czarist government was even 5% as serious about fighting revolutionaries as they were about fighting their opponents after they came to power, the revolution might not have happened. This applies to the effectiveness of banning their propaganda as well.

    Why did the czar abdicate? Most of the people who claw their way to power are strong-willed and hard to intimidate or guilt-trip. He got into a position of power by chance and seems to have been weak-willed.

    In summary, the revolutionaries had more motivation, they were more committed and single-minded than the government or conservatively-minded parts of the public.

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    • Replies: @AP
    You are absolutely correct. In the Czar's defense with respect to his humane treatment of the revolutionaries, however, the Bolsheviks were new and the extent of their brutality and ruthlessness was not really predictable prior to the Revolution. In this, I would compare the Czar's soft treatment of Lenin et al to the West's soft treatment of Hitler throughout the 1930's. In hindsight, a terrible mistake with horrific consequences, but not unreasonable at the time.

    Why did the czar abdicate? Most of the people who claw their way to power are strong-willed and hard to intimidate or guilt-trip. He got into a position of power by chance and seems to have been weak-willed.
     
    He seems to have been a decent man but yes - weak-willed, and bumbling. The 20th century involved the decline of decency and its replacement by modernity and inhuman brutality. The new man with new morality could run circles around his predecessors (I see a parallel with the case of Alfred Redl in this) .
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  • @jimmyriddle
    >The revolutionaries in Russia, both before and for some time after the Revolution, were a coalition of the fringes

    Nope. The Bolsheviks won a plurality (about 40%) of the vote in the army and navy. The Social Revolutionary Party (the left faction of which mostly ended up joining the Bolsheviks) was the largest party in the Constituent Assembly. A large chunk of the Tsarist officer corps joined the Red Army.

    The Bolsheviks won precisely because the represented the core - the urban working class and the rank and file military. And they had enough support amongst the peasantry and middle class to swing it.

    >The revolutionaries in Russia, both before and for some time after the Revolution, were a coalition of the fringes

    Nope. The Bolsheviks won a plurality (about 40%) of the vote in the army and navy.

    That was simply because they promised to end the participation in the war. Do you have evidence that 40% of the military were actual Bolsheviks, vs. people who cast a vote for them?

    The Social Revolutionary Party (the left faction of which mostly ended up joining the Bolsheviks) was the largest party in the Constituent Assembly.

    The SR won 41% of the all-Russian vote, compared to the Bolsheviks’ 24%. You are correct that a part of the SRs joined the Bolsheviks after the Bolsheviks had power over the country; but then the rest of the party tried to overthrow the Bolsheviks.

    The Bolsheviks won precisely because the represented the core – the urban working class and the rank and file military

    Most of Russia was rural; the urban working class itself was a bit of a fringe in that country. The Bolsheviks won the vote of the Petrograd and Moscow workers but this wasn’t enough to give them more than a plurality in those cities. In smaller cities without a lot of proles, such as Voronezh, the kadets won majorities. The SRs represented the largest demographic group in Russia, the peasants.

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  • @Glossy
    The revolutionaries were disproportionately ethnic minorities: Jews, Georgians, Poles, Latvians, Armenians, etc. Not just the leadership, the foot soldiers too. By the way, I'm Jewish. But I don't derive my view of this from a desire to aggrandize myself. I'm curious about what actually happened. From the ethnic point of view there was a fringes vs. the core dynamic there.

    The revolutionaries were disproportionately ethnic minorities: Jews, Georgians, Poles, Latvians, Armenians, etc. Not just the leadership, the foot soldiers too.

    Poles? Dzerzhinsky was the only Pole among the members of the Bolshevik Central Committee. Poles were about 6.3% of the Russian population (the 4th largest ethnicity) according to the 1897 Russian census and 4.7% of the Central Committee.

    From the ethnic point of view there was a fringes vs. the core dynamic there.

    Most Russians were not svidomy at the time of the Revolution so after the breakdown of the central government it was basically a struggle between two small and motivated groups: Bolsheviks vs. Svidomy Russians (Cossacks, better-educated middle and upper classes, etc.) The illiterate peasants, who did not have much of a sense of patriotism/svidomism because that is a product of education, either didn’t take part until forced to through conscription or defended their own villages in an unorganized way.

    While the Russian people did not for the most part support the Bolsheviks it wasn’t as if the Bolshevik fringe conquered a vast and hostile land.

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    • Replies: @Glossy
    Dzerzhinsky was the only Pole among the members of the Bolshevik Central Committee.

    Point taken. The only other prominent Polish early Soviet leader I can think of is Rokossovski, but he was only half Polish and a professional officer, not a politician.

    Why did revolutionaries succeed? First, the czarist government had an incredibly lackadaisical attitude to them. Every one of them seems to have escaped from jail multiple times. They just kept walking out. Which governments today are having problems keeping convicts in jail? How common has this problem been historically worldwide? I don't think it's been common at all. It was a sign of ineptitude. If the czarist government was even 5% as serious about fighting revolutionaries as they were about fighting their opponents after they came to power, the revolution might not have happened. This applies to the effectiveness of banning their propaganda as well.

    Why did the czar abdicate? Most of the people who claw their way to power are strong-willed and hard to intimidate or guilt-trip. He got into a position of power by chance and seems to have been weak-willed.

    In summary, the revolutionaries had more motivation, they were more committed and single-minded than the government or conservatively-minded parts of the public.

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  • @Glossy
    OK, so according to my calculations, compared with their share of the general population, Latvians were more over-represented in the Central Committee than Jews: 8.3 times vs. 6.9 times. So they weren't just riflemen.

    Obviously, the central Committee provides a very small sample, so take that with some grains of salt. Specifically, there were 2 Latvians out of 21 members. So Latvians made up 9.52% of the Central Committee at the time of the Revolution and 1.42% of the population in 1897, which means that they were over-represented by approximately 8.3 times.

    I’m sorry: Latvians were 1.14% of the population in 1897, not 1.42%. And yes, they were over-represented by 8.3 times – I think I copied that from my little spreadsheet correctly the first time.

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  • “This, in a nutshell, is the difference between Russia and the small aboriginal cargo cults whose sense of nationhood boils down to the East European equivalent of muh oppressions and gimme gibs.”

    Well, it’s better to be a supposed ‘small aboriginal cargo cult’ than an ungovernable, slowly islamizing and poor country led by a strongman who uses botox.

    As for the Latvians’ collective responsibility for the birth of the Soviet state, one needs only to recall that most of the active Latvian communists and red riflemen never returned to their now independent fatherland, but stayed in red Russia, where they were exterminated in 1937 by Stalin and his friends.
    So what has Latvian state and its citizens in common with the beginnings of red Russia?

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  • @Glossy
    I just discovered that the Wikipedia has an ethnic breakdown of the Bokshevik Central Committee at the time of the revolution:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Committee_elected_by_the_6th_Congress_of_the_Russian_Social_Democratic_Labour_Party_(Bolsheviks)

    For context that has to be compared to census figures:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Empire_Census

    OK, so according to my calculations, compared with their share of the general population, Latvians were more over-represented in the Central Committee than Jews: 8.3 times vs. 6.9 times. So they weren’t just riflemen.

    Obviously, the central Committee provides a very small sample, so take that with some grains of salt. Specifically, there were 2 Latvians out of 21 members. So Latvians made up 9.52% of the Central Committee at the time of the Revolution and 1.42% of the population in 1897, which means that they were over-represented by approximately 8.3 times.

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    • Replies: @Glossy
    I'm sorry: Latvians were 1.14% of the population in 1897, not 1.42%. And yes, they were over-represented by 8.3 times - I think I copied that from my little spreadsheet correctly the first time.
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  • @Glossy
    I just discovered that the Wikipedia has an ethnic breakdown of the Bokshevik Central Committee at the time of the revolution:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Committee_elected_by_the_6th_Congress_of_the_Russian_Social_Democratic_Labour_Party_(Bolsheviks)

    For context that has to be compared to census figures:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Empire_Census

    So 14 out of the 21 lived to 1936. Only three of those survived to 1940. One of those three was Stalin himself, another was a woman (mostly irrelevant in politics, especially that kind of politics) and the third retired from public life in 1939.

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  • @Glossy
    You can look at the vote for the Constituent Assembly, but you can also look at the membership of the revolutionary parties, at their central committees, at the composition of the early Bolshevik governments. That will tell you where the passion for the revolution was.

    I just discovered that the Wikipedia has an ethnic breakdown of the Bokshevik Central Committee at the time of the revolution:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Committee_elected_by_the_6th_Congress_of_the_Russian_Social_Democratic_Labour_Party_(Bolsheviks)

    For context that has to be compared to census figures:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Empire_Census

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    • Replies: @Glossy
    So 14 out of the 21 lived to 1936. Only three of those survived to 1940. One of those three was Stalin himself, another was a woman (mostly irrelevant in politics, especially that kind of politics) and the third retired from public life in 1939.
    , @Glossy
    OK, so according to my calculations, compared with their share of the general population, Latvians were more over-represented in the Central Committee than Jews: 8.3 times vs. 6.9 times. So they weren't just riflemen.

    Obviously, the central Committee provides a very small sample, so take that with some grains of salt. Specifically, there were 2 Latvians out of 21 members. So Latvians made up 9.52% of the Central Committee at the time of the Revolution and 1.42% of the population in 1897, which means that they were over-represented by approximately 8.3 times.

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  • @jimmyriddle
    >The revolutionaries in Russia, both before and for some time after the Revolution, were a coalition of the fringes

    Nope. The Bolsheviks won a plurality (about 40%) of the vote in the army and navy. The Social Revolutionary Party (the left faction of which mostly ended up joining the Bolsheviks) was the largest party in the Constituent Assembly. A large chunk of the Tsarist officer corps joined the Red Army.

    The Bolsheviks won precisely because the represented the core - the urban working class and the rank and file military. And they had enough support amongst the peasantry and middle class to swing it.

    You can look at the vote for the Constituent Assembly, but you can also look at the membership of the revolutionary parties, at their central committees, at the composition of the early Bolshevik governments. That will tell you where the passion for the revolution was.

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    • Replies: @Glossy
    I just discovered that the Wikipedia has an ethnic breakdown of the Bokshevik Central Committee at the time of the revolution:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Committee_elected_by_the_6th_Congress_of_the_Russian_Social_Democratic_Labour_Party_(Bolsheviks)

    For context that has to be compared to census figures:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Empire_Census
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  • @jimmyriddle
    >The revolutionaries in Russia, both before and for some time after the Revolution, were a coalition of the fringes

    Nope. The Bolsheviks won a plurality (about 40%) of the vote in the army and navy. The Social Revolutionary Party (the left faction of which mostly ended up joining the Bolsheviks) was the largest party in the Constituent Assembly. A large chunk of the Tsarist officer corps joined the Red Army.

    The Bolsheviks won precisely because the represented the core - the urban working class and the rank and file military. And they had enough support amongst the peasantry and middle class to swing it.

    The revolutionaries were disproportionately ethnic minorities: Jews, Georgians, Poles, Latvians, Armenians, etc. Not just the leadership, the foot soldiers too. By the way, I’m Jewish. But I don’t derive my view of this from a desire to aggrandize myself. I’m curious about what actually happened. From the ethnic point of view there was a fringes vs. the core dynamic there.

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    • Replies: @AP

    The revolutionaries were disproportionately ethnic minorities: Jews, Georgians, Poles, Latvians, Armenians, etc. Not just the leadership, the foot soldiers too.
     
    Poles? Dzerzhinsky was the only Pole among the members of the Bolshevik Central Committee. Poles were about 6.3% of the Russian population (the 4th largest ethnicity) according to the 1897 Russian census and 4.7% of the Central Committee.

    From the ethnic point of view there was a fringes vs. the core dynamic there.
     
    Most Russians were not svidomy at the time of the Revolution so after the breakdown of the central government it was basically a struggle between two small and motivated groups: Bolsheviks vs. Svidomy Russians (Cossacks, better-educated middle and upper classes, etc.) The illiterate peasants, who did not have much of a sense of patriotism/svidomism because that is a product of education, either didn't take part until forced to through conscription or defended their own villages in an unorganized way.

    While the Russian people did not for the most part support the Bolsheviks it wasn't as if the Bolshevik fringe conquered a vast and hostile land.
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  • @Glossy
    Steve Sailer talks about a US coalition of the fringes. The revolutionaries in Russia, both before and for some time after the Revolution, were a coalition of the fringes fighting the majority. Poland and the Baltic region were one of the fringes.

    I think I remember a quote from Pilsudsky to the effect that he got off the red street car at a station called Independence. The equivalent street car of today is rainbow-colored and star-spangled, not red. The modern eastern European nations got on it to get away from Russia, but they never got off on the station called Independence. That street car is still moving them leftwards, towards a multi-culti, refugee-swamped future. It's gatehring speed, they don't know how to stop it, its doors won't open.

    >The revolutionaries in Russia, both before and for some time after the Revolution, were a coalition of the fringes

    Nope. The Bolsheviks won a plurality (about 40%) of the vote in the army and navy. The Social Revolutionary Party (the left faction of which mostly ended up joining the Bolsheviks) was the largest party in the Constituent Assembly. A large chunk of the Tsarist officer corps joined the Red Army.

    The Bolsheviks won precisely because the represented the core – the urban working class and the rank and file military. And they had enough support amongst the peasantry and middle class to swing it.

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    • Agree: Stephen R. Diamond
    • Replies: @Glossy
    The revolutionaries were disproportionately ethnic minorities: Jews, Georgians, Poles, Latvians, Armenians, etc. Not just the leadership, the foot soldiers too. By the way, I'm Jewish. But I don't derive my view of this from a desire to aggrandize myself. I'm curious about what actually happened. From the ethnic point of view there was a fringes vs. the core dynamic there.
    , @Glossy
    You can look at the vote for the Constituent Assembly, but you can also look at the membership of the revolutionary parties, at their central committees, at the composition of the early Bolshevik governments. That will tell you where the passion for the revolution was.
    , @AP

    >The revolutionaries in Russia, both before and for some time after the Revolution, were a coalition of the fringes

    Nope. The Bolsheviks won a plurality (about 40%) of the vote in the army and navy.
     
    That was simply because they promised to end the participation in the war. Do you have evidence that 40% of the military were actual Bolsheviks, vs. people who cast a vote for them?

    The Social Revolutionary Party (the left faction of which mostly ended up joining the Bolsheviks) was the largest party in the Constituent Assembly.
     
    The SR won 41% of the all-Russian vote, compared to the Bolsheviks' 24%. You are correct that a part of the SRs joined the Bolsheviks after the Bolsheviks had power over the country; but then the rest of the party tried to overthrow the Bolsheviks.

    The Bolsheviks won precisely because the represented the core – the urban working class and the rank and file military
     
    Most of Russia was rural; the urban working class itself was a bit of a fringe in that country. The Bolsheviks won the vote of the Petrograd and Moscow workers but this wasn't enough to give them more than a plurality in those cities. In smaller cities without a lot of proles, such as Voronezh, the kadets won majorities. The SRs represented the largest demographic group in Russia, the peasants.
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  • @silviosilver

    If the Revolution failed, if the Whites or someone like them won, Russian and global history would have changed for the better enormously.
     
    Lol, according to Glossy the Soviet Union was the greatest country on earth, but had the Bolshies lost, Russian megalomonia would have been even better. Life's very simple when you can just make it all up as you go, isn't it.

    In reality, a non-Soviet Russia would, in all likelihood, have been just as bad/even worse for non-Russian neighboring states and peoples as/than was the USSR.

    In reality, a non-Soviet Russia would, in all likelihood, have been just as bad/even worse for non-Russian neighboring states and peoples as/than was the USSR.

    I disagree with this – there would have been millions fewer deaths.

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    • Agree: reiner Tor
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  • @Glossy
    Steve Sailer talks about a US coalition of the fringes. The revolutionaries in Russia, both before and for some time after the Revolution, were a coalition of the fringes fighting the majority. Poland and the Baltic region were one of the fringes.

    I think I remember a quote from Pilsudsky to the effect that he got off the red street car at a station called Independence. The equivalent street car of today is rainbow-colored and star-spangled, not red. The modern eastern European nations got on it to get away from Russia, but they never got off on the station called Independence. That street car is still moving them leftwards, towards a multi-culti, refugee-swamped future. It's gatehring speed, they don't know how to stop it, its doors won't open.

    The revolutionaries in Russia, both before and for some time after the Revolution, were a coalition of the fringes fighting the majority.

    They were fringes, and they were certainly a minority, but they weren’t exactly fighting a majority. The majority were indifferent; otherwise the fringes would not have taken over.

    This is why reparations don’t make sense. Germany voted the Nazis into power – thus the German people bear some responsibility. Russia was essentially hijacked.

    I think I remember a quote from Pilsudsky to the effect that he got off the red street car at a station called Independence. The equivalent street car of today is rainbow-colored and star-spangled, not red. The modern eastern European nations got on it to get away from Russia, but they never got off on the station called Independence. That street car is still moving them leftwards, towards a multi-culti, refugee-swamped future. It’s gatehring speed, they don’t know how to stop it, its doors won’t open.

    This is a very eloquent comment but not realistic yet. Poland and Hungary are certainly not moving leftwards (Poland just got a more rightwing government than it had previously, and in Poland the Left failed to pass the threshold to even get into Parliament!), neither are they flooded by refugees. Your speculations about the future are just that. For all we know, by the time eastern Europe would be “ready” to accept significant numbers of refugees even the West won’t want any anymore and will abandon such policies.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    Germany voted the Nazis into power
     
    It's an oversimplification. Besides, nobody voted for the world war or the holocaust. Gestapo reports complained around 1934 that even "good National Socialists" thought the Jewish question had been solved and nothing further was needed.
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  • @Glossy
    I don't see a contradiction. The early USSR was very bad, the post-WWII USSR was very good and the 1930s were a transitional period. Similarly, the Yeltsin-oligarchic 1990s were very bad and Putin's Russia is an improvment. It might even turn out to be a 1930s-like transitional period before something much better.

    the 1930s were a transitional period

    Now that’s good!

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  • @silviosilver

    Non-legitimacy does not turn it into an occupation.
     
    Of course not. The fact that the populace resented the russkies just means they were "nazis."

    Deliberately conquer a country and you're an occupier; rewrite its history books and you're a "liberator."

    Calling the whole Soviet rule in the Baltic republics occupation is also a form of bad historical revisionism. Same goes for trying to justify it.

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  • @silviosilver

    If the Revolution failed, if the Whites or someone like them won, Russian and global history would have changed for the better enormously.
     
    Lol, according to Glossy the Soviet Union was the greatest country on earth, but had the Bolshies lost, Russian megalomonia would have been even better. Life's very simple when you can just make it all up as you go, isn't it.

    In reality, a non-Soviet Russia would, in all likelihood, have been just as bad/even worse for non-Russian neighboring states and peoples as/than was the USSR.

    I don’t see a contradiction. The early USSR was very bad, the post-WWII USSR was very good and the 1930s were a transitional period. Similarly, the Yeltsin-oligarchic 1990s were very bad and Putin’s Russia is an improvment. It might even turn out to be a 1930s-like transitional period before something much better.

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    • Replies: @iffen

    the 1930s were a transitional period
     
    Now that's good!
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  • @Mitleser
    The annexation was a fact.
    These republics were part of the USSR.

    Non-legitimacy does not turn it into an occupation.

    Non-legitimacy does not turn it into an occupation.

    Of course not. The fact that the populace resented the russkies just means they were “nazis.”

    Deliberately conquer a country and you’re an occupier; rewrite its history books and you’re a “liberator.”

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    • Replies: @Mitleser
    Calling the whole Soviet rule in the Baltic republics occupation is also a form of bad historical revisionism. Same goes for trying to justify it.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • If the Revolution failed, if the Whites or someone like them won, Russian and global history would have changed for the better enormously.

    Lol, according to Glossy the Soviet Union was the greatest country on earth, but had the Bolshies lost, Russian megalomonia would have been even better. Life’s very simple when you can just make it all up as you go, isn’t it.

    In reality, a non-Soviet Russia would, in all likelihood, have been just as bad/even worse for non-Russian neighboring states and peoples as/than was the USSR.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    I don't see a contradiction. The early USSR was very bad, the post-WWII USSR was very good and the 1930s were a transitional period. Similarly, the Yeltsin-oligarchic 1990s were very bad and Putin's Russia is an improvment. It might even turn out to be a 1930s-like transitional period before something much better.
    , @AP

    In reality, a non-Soviet Russia would, in all likelihood, have been just as bad/even worse for non-Russian neighboring states and peoples as/than was the USSR.
     
    I disagree with this - there would have been millions fewer deaths.
    , @reiner Tor

    a non-Soviet Russia would, in all likelihood, have been just as bad/even worse for non-Russian neighboring states and peoples as/than was the USSR
     
    Not necessarily, for example Russian occupation in Hungary was made quite a bit worse by the fact that Russians not only wanted to keep Hungary devoid of national independence (we were left nominal independence, though), but they also forced their stupid irrational economic system on us, depriving Hungarians of even economic opportunities.
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  • @Glossy
    I’d say this easily outweighs the actions of a few thousand Latvian riflemen in 1917/18.

    I don't know about that. If the Revolution failed, if the Whites or someone like them won, Russian and global history would have changed for the better enormously. It all depends on the extent of those riflemen's contribution to the Bolshevik cause in those crucial first months.

    Well yes, no doubt those Latvian riflemen had a pernicious influence on Russian history…but I don’t quite see the connection between them and the Latvians that became victims of Soviet oppression from 1940 onwards. It’s not like those Latvian riflemen acted as representatives of the Latvian nation, let alone a Latvian state which didn’t exist then.
    But anyway, since I’m neither Russian nor from the Baltics, I don’t really want to get sucked up into that debate. I’m no longer sure if talking endlessly about past crimes and injustices is such a good idea (what Germans call “Vergangenheitsbewältigung”). Its proponents in the West usually have an agenda that isn’t mine (nor that of Baltic nationalists).

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    I’m no longer sure if talking endlessly about past crimes and injustices is such a good idea
     
    Well, you have first hand experience whether it's a great idea to teach subsequent generations of children in an ethnic community that their ethnic community has been the worst monster in human history. It can lead to ethnic suicide (like #refugeeswelcome), but what positive can come out of it? I guess nothing. We should accept the past sins of our ancestors like adult men: accept the fact, and then leave it to that.
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  • russplaining

    I love it! For some time I’ve been looking for a good way to say Putinversteher or Russlandversteher in English, and now I’ve found it. I’m a Russplainer! Was that your coinage, Anatoly? If so, bravo.

    {AK: I thought of it around August 2015 while shitposting on Reddit, but a cursory Google search shows that I wasn’t quite the first person to use it online.}

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  • @German_reader
    The issue doesn't concern me personally, but I don't find your argument very convincing. Yes, it is well known that non only Jews were over-represented among the early Bolsheviks, so were other minorities, including Balts. But none of this changes what happened from 1940 onwards, that the Soviet Union forcefully annexed the Baltic countries, run a programme of systematic killings of elites and of mass deportations and post-war purposefully settled Estonia and Latvia with Russian colonists (similar to what China is doing in Tibet). I'd say this easily outweighs the actions of a few thousand Latvian riflemen in 1917/18. Of course the Balts have some skeletons in the cupboard of their own (like the infamous Arajs unit and similar outfits), but still, your dismissal of what the Soviet Union did there seems a bit much. Reparations are a stupid idea, but I don't suppose the Balts seriously want them, probably more like an official recognition that they were the victims of grave injustice.
    For those who can read German I recommend Björn Felder, Lettland im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Zwischen sowjetischen und deutschen Besatzern 1940-1946, Paderborn 2009. Some of its theses concerning the interaction between Soviet and Nazi violence in the Baltics in 1940/41 are among the most interesting suggestions I've read about the 2nd world war.
    Btw, your penultimate paragraph is incomplete. {AK: Thanks}

    I’d say this easily outweighs the actions of a few thousand Latvian riflemen in 1917/18.

    I don’t know about that. If the Revolution failed, if the Whites or someone like them won, Russian and global history would have changed for the better enormously. It all depends on the extent of those riflemen’s contribution to the Bolshevik cause in those crucial first months.

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    • Replies: @German_reader
    Well yes, no doubt those Latvian riflemen had a pernicious influence on Russian history...but I don't quite see the connection between them and the Latvians that became victims of Soviet oppression from 1940 onwards. It's not like those Latvian riflemen acted as representatives of the Latvian nation, let alone a Latvian state which didn't exist then.
    But anyway, since I'm neither Russian nor from the Baltics, I don't really want to get sucked up into that debate. I'm no longer sure if talking endlessly about past crimes and injustices is such a good idea (what Germans call "Vergangenheitsbewältigung"). Its proponents in the West usually have an agenda that isn't mine (nor that of Baltic nationalists).
    , @iffen

    Russian and global history would have changed for the better enormously
     
    How do you know this? Do you have some kind of peep hole into an alternate reality?
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  • @German_reader
    "as they want a recognition of their lies as well (“decades-long Soviet occupation”)."

    Then how would you describe the state of the Baltic countries from 1940/1944 to 1990? Btw, their annexation was never recognized as legitimate by the West.

    The annexation was a fact.
    These republics were part of the USSR.

    Non-legitimacy does not turn it into an occupation.

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    • Replies: @silviosilver

    Non-legitimacy does not turn it into an occupation.
     
    Of course not. The fact that the populace resented the russkies just means they were "nazis."

    Deliberately conquer a country and you're an occupier; rewrite its history books and you're a "liberator."
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Steve Sailer talks about a US coalition of the fringes. The revolutionaries in Russia, both before and for some time after the Revolution, were a coalition of the fringes fighting the majority. Poland and the Baltic region were one of the fringes.

    I think I remember a quote from Pilsudsky to the effect that he got off the red street car at a station called Independence. The equivalent street car of today is rainbow-colored and star-spangled, not red. The modern eastern European nations got on it to get away from Russia, but they never got off on the station called Independence. That street car is still moving them leftwards, towards a multi-culti, refugee-swamped future. It’s gatehring speed, they don’t know how to stop it, its doors won’t open.

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    • Replies: @AP

    The revolutionaries in Russia, both before and for some time after the Revolution, were a coalition of the fringes fighting the majority.
     
    They were fringes, and they were certainly a minority, but they weren't exactly fighting a majority. The majority were indifferent; otherwise the fringes would not have taken over.

    This is why reparations don't make sense. Germany voted the Nazis into power - thus the German people bear some responsibility. Russia was essentially hijacked.

    I think I remember a quote from Pilsudsky to the effect that he got off the red street car at a station called Independence. The equivalent street car of today is rainbow-colored and star-spangled, not red. The modern eastern European nations got on it to get away from Russia, but they never got off on the station called Independence. That street car is still moving them leftwards, towards a multi-culti, refugee-swamped future. It’s gatehring speed, they don’t know how to stop it, its doors won’t open.
     
    This is a very eloquent comment but not realistic yet. Poland and Hungary are certainly not moving leftwards (Poland just got a more rightwing government than it had previously, and in Poland the Left failed to pass the threshold to even get into Parliament!), neither are they flooded by refugees. Your speculations about the future are just that. For all we know, by the time eastern Europe would be "ready" to accept significant numbers of refugees even the West won't want any anymore and will abandon such policies.
    , @jimmyriddle
    >The revolutionaries in Russia, both before and for some time after the Revolution, were a coalition of the fringes

    Nope. The Bolsheviks won a plurality (about 40%) of the vote in the army and navy. The Social Revolutionary Party (the left faction of which mostly ended up joining the Bolsheviks) was the largest party in the Constituent Assembly. A large chunk of the Tsarist officer corps joined the Red Army.

    The Bolsheviks won precisely because the represented the core - the urban working class and the rank and file military. And they had enough support amongst the peasantry and middle class to swing it.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • You should leave off the faux Ebonics. In no way does it add to what you are saying. In fact, it is detrimental to your scholarship. Take a cue from Razib and elevate the conversation.

    Further, it is ludicrous to intimate a comparison of a racial minority within a well-established nation state to the relations of small ethnic states to a great power empire, especially during wartime.

    Otherwise, keep the great articles coming.

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  • @Mitleser

    but I don’t suppose the Balts seriously want them, probably more like an official recognition that they were the victims of grave injustice.
     
    They do not deserve any recognition of their victimhood as long as they want a recognition of their lies as well ("decades-long Soviet occupation").

    “as they want a recognition of their lies as well (“decades-long Soviet occupation”).”

    Then how would you describe the state of the Baltic countries from 1940/1944 to 1990? Btw, their annexation was never recognized as legitimate by the West.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mitleser
    The annexation was a fact.
    These republics were part of the USSR.

    Non-legitimacy does not turn it into an occupation.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @German_reader
    The issue doesn't concern me personally, but I don't find your argument very convincing. Yes, it is well known that non only Jews were over-represented among the early Bolsheviks, so were other minorities, including Balts. But none of this changes what happened from 1940 onwards, that the Soviet Union forcefully annexed the Baltic countries, run a programme of systematic killings of elites and of mass deportations and post-war purposefully settled Estonia and Latvia with Russian colonists (similar to what China is doing in Tibet). I'd say this easily outweighs the actions of a few thousand Latvian riflemen in 1917/18. Of course the Balts have some skeletons in the cupboard of their own (like the infamous Arajs unit and similar outfits), but still, your dismissal of what the Soviet Union did there seems a bit much. Reparations are a stupid idea, but I don't suppose the Balts seriously want them, probably more like an official recognition that they were the victims of grave injustice.
    For those who can read German I recommend Björn Felder, Lettland im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Zwischen sowjetischen und deutschen Besatzern 1940-1946, Paderborn 2009. Some of its theses concerning the interaction between Soviet and Nazi violence in the Baltics in 1940/41 are among the most interesting suggestions I've read about the 2nd world war.
    Btw, your penultimate paragraph is incomplete. {AK: Thanks}

    but I don’t suppose the Balts seriously want them, probably more like an official recognition that they were the victims of grave injustice.

    They do not deserve any recognition of their victimhood as long as they want a recognition of their lies as well (“decades-long Soviet occupation”).

    Read More
    • Replies: @German_reader
    "as they want a recognition of their lies as well (“decades-long Soviet occupation”)."

    Then how would you describe the state of the Baltic countries from 1940/1944 to 1990? Btw, their annexation was never recognized as legitimate by the West.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Small countries that border larger ones that dominate them economically, socially and militarily always resent their large neighbour. Finland/Sweden, Ireland/England etc. The bigger country must be magnanimous and the smaller one stop whining. Of course as history shows when the poor helpless, kind hearted small nation gets the chance they will commit appalling atrocities against the larger nation.

    Read More
    • Replies: @ion
    You can add Iraq/Iran to that list.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • The issue doesn’t concern me personally, but I don’t find your argument very convincing. Yes, it is well known that non only Jews were over-represented among the early Bolsheviks, so were other minorities, including Balts. But none of this changes what happened from 1940 onwards, that the Soviet Union forcefully annexed the Baltic countries, run a programme of systematic killings of elites and of mass deportations and post-war purposefully settled Estonia and Latvia with Russian colonists (similar to what China is doing in Tibet). I’d say this easily outweighs the actions of a few thousand Latvian riflemen in 1917/18. Of course the Balts have some skeletons in the cupboard of their own (like the infamous Arajs unit and similar outfits), but still, your dismissal of what the Soviet Union did there seems a bit much. Reparations are a stupid idea, but I don’t suppose the Balts seriously want them, probably more like an official recognition that they were the victims of grave injustice.
    For those who can read German I recommend Björn Felder, Lettland im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Zwischen sowjetischen und deutschen Besatzern 1940-1946, Paderborn 2009. Some of its theses concerning the interaction between Soviet and Nazi violence in the Baltics in 1940/41 are among the most interesting suggestions I’ve read about the 2nd world war.
    Btw, your penultimate paragraph is incomplete. {AK: Thanks}

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mitleser

    but I don’t suppose the Balts seriously want them, probably more like an official recognition that they were the victims of grave injustice.
     
    They do not deserve any recognition of their victimhood as long as they want a recognition of their lies as well ("decades-long Soviet occupation").
    , @Glossy
    I’d say this easily outweighs the actions of a few thousand Latvian riflemen in 1917/18.

    I don't know about that. If the Revolution failed, if the Whites or someone like them won, Russian and global history would have changed for the better enormously. It all depends on the extent of those riflemen's contribution to the Bolshevik cause in those crucial first months.
    , @Latvian woman
    Arājs' mother was German, by the way. Not that it matters, of course, but what is important is that they operated under the German occupation which did a lot of harm, just like the Soviet one. I agree with your point of weighing things out in the bigger perspective.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • The ears from a dead donkey for you, as a wise man once quoted.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • The Latvian President has signed a law allowing Latvians to have double citizenship with other countries... except Russia. Moscow cries foul and calls on the EU to take action. Maria Efimova has the story. Latvian President Andris Bērziņš signed the law "On Citizenship," adopted by the Sejm on 9 May. This law allows Latvian citizens...
  • Yes, Baltic apartheid with full EU support. Then the EU bureaucrats have the gall to lecture Russia about human rights.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Continuing from my previous post (which focused mostly on trends), this one focuses exclusively on international comparisons as per the results of Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer survey of 2010-11. The graphs represent affirmative answers to the question of whether the respondent had paid a bribe in the past 12 months to each of 9...
  • @rutenburg
    In the meanwhile, Serdyukov's accuser, Magnitsky, is likely to remain dead.

    Oh, lamost forgot:

    Putin intends to put Magnitsky’s corpse on trial. I kid you not.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Anatoly Karlin
    According to Bastrykin himself, it is going to take at least a year for Serdyukov to be reclassified from a witness to an accused person.

    In the meanwhile, Serdyukov’s accuser, Magnitsky, is likely to remain dead.

    Read More
    • Replies: @rutenburg
    Oh, lamost forgot:

    Putin intends to put Magnitsky's corpse on trial. I kid you not.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Viva Brazil!

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • One of the standard memes about Russia's demographic trajectory was the "Russian Cross." While at the literal level it described the shape of the country's birth rate and death rate trajectories, a major reason why it entered the discourse was surely because it also evoked the foreboding of the grave. But this period now appears...
  • The trends over the recent years have been positive indeed, especially the decrease in male mortality, it can’t be stressed enough how positive that is, because in a chain reaction it will positively affect other aspects of life, such as family formation and productivity. Improving the male health, as well as birthrates, was long due in Russia and other FSU countries. Natalist policies do work. Also, this increase of fertility (TFR) may luckily coincide with the rather big number of women born in 1980s. Russia and FSU saw a baby boom in the 1980s when the government stimulated births by giving generous benefits to mothers / families with kids. Thus, the TFR rose to about 2 (as high as 2.2 in 1987). Women born at that time are now in their most fertile age and are having kids (and will continue for another 10-15 years). This coincides with Putin’s natalist program. This will save Russia from the doom that was predicted. This will also make the coming demographic hole caused by the 1990s shock therapies less traumatic (hopefully). The most important thing was to take advantage of the bulk of the women born in 1980s (not to lose the potential future people from that baby boom).

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Continuing from my previous post (which focused mostly on trends), this one focuses exclusively on international comparisons as per the results of Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer survey of 2010-11. The graphs represent affirmative answers to the question of whether the respondent had paid a bribe in the past 12 months to each of 9...
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear David,

    I found this a most interesting article, both Professor Pettis's and your response.

    The difference between the American System of Hamilton and List and the British System of Adam Smith and Ricardo is well known. The US only fully and finally abandoned the American System in the 1960s when the Kennedy Administration substituted Keynesianism for the American System as the prevailing US economic orthodoxy. Keynesianism at its heart is an evolution of the British System.

    As for Professor Pettis's larger point, that growth is a consequence of investment and that investment depends on the availability of capital are points that are I would have thought so obvious that it is for me a permanent puzzle that so few people see them.

    I would suggest that in almost every respect Russian economic policy approximates remarkably closely to Professor Pettis's model. Russia does try to protect its industries to the extent it can from foreign competition and by and large it has been doing so successfully. The whole weight of Russian economic policy since 1998 has been to restore and strengthen the financial system so as to make it capable of capital investments and allocation. Russia has stimulated wage and income growth to boost demand. Outside a very small number of publicly owned strategic companies concentrated disproportionately in the mineral extracting centre it does not generally look to create national champions and the whole trend has been to eliminate subsidies whether operating through controlled pricing or interest rates. Privatisation is being used as a mechanism to boost competition and there are ambitious plans for heavy infrastructure spending, which has only just begun.

    Probably the only difference between what Russia is doing or is planning to do and what Professor Pettis discusses is that Russia is planning to use increases in defence spending to support and development its scientific and industrial base. That of course is exactly what was done in England in the Eighteenth Century (through massive state investment in the Royal Navy), in Japan and Germany in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries and to an extent that is rarely acknowledged or realised in the US in the 1860s where manufacturing was massively strengthened by the very heavy state investment in arms production that was needed to win the Civil War.

    Dear Alex: People lost sight of the connection linking savings, availability of capital, investment and growth some time during the 1980s when global finance became more deregulated and debt finance came to be considered the easy option compared to raising equity as a source of funds. Raising equity forces a firm to be more accountable to shareholders (and more of them), on paper anyway at least. When I studied economics in the 1980s, the concept was going out of fashion, some of my lecturers said the connection was very weak and I suppose by now lecturers don’t even mention it any more.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @David Habakkuk
    An expanded version of the post by Michael Pettis on the history of the Chinese economic model to which I referred in my earlier comment has just been posted on his blog.

    (See http://www.mpettis.com/2013/02/21/a-brief-history-of-the-chinese-growth-model/ )

    I have posted a comment, which it seems sensible to reproduce here, particularly as some of it relates to Russia.

    One question to AK and others. It has always seemed to me that the perverse incentives created by the interaction of the legacy of the Soviet past and ‘shock therapy’, which encouraged criminalisation, and to which I refer in the comment, also created a situation where very many people had things to hide. One does not need to swallow the kind of highly dubious ‘kompromat’ claims routinely put out about Putin and others to think that the possibility that corruption trials of people high up in the contemporary Russian elite might lead to the exposure of skeletons may materially inhibit prosecutions.

    Someone like Serdyukov might be in a position to reveal a great deal of embarrassing information. Accordingly, removing corrupt figures from positions of power and influence, rather than actually prosecuting them, may seem the least worst option.

    My comment on Professor Pettis’s blog reads as follows:

    Some scattered observations on this enormously important post.

    It points up, for one thing, the trivial and indeed dangerous nature of much contemporary Western economic theorising. A great deal of this is obsessively concerned with modelling the interactions of supposedly rationally self-interested individuals in highly abstract terms. This ignores two problems: that the exclusive emphasis on rational self-interest does not mesh either with common sense or with empirical evidence about how human beings actually behave, and that how a rationally self-interested actor can be expected to behave is a matter of context.

    A central message of this article is, contrary to what is assumed by contemporary American economists who know nothing about the relevant history, successful ‘catch-up’ development, in the U.S. as elsewhere, has required state action to ensure that rational self-interest operated in contexts where it can produce benign rather than perverse outcomes.

    Among other things, it is crucial that ‘infant industry protectionism’ be accompanied by ‘brutal domestic competition’ – and that one does not end up with a situation where rationally self-interested actors, in essence, suck at the teat of the state.

    It would seem to follow that a necessary – but of course not sufficient – precondition for successful development would be elites whose views are shaped by good economic historians, and who ignore the conventional wisdoms of the economics profession. Also however necessary, however, it would seem, would be for those elites to identify, for whatever reason, with the objective of development – and not to be distracted from it by imperatives of rational self-interest that militate against it. Moreover, these elites need to in control of a state structure which is capable of effective action, without strangling private initiative.

    An object lesson of how to do almost everything wrong would seem to be the ‘shock therapy’ adopted by the so-called Russian ‘reformers’ egged on by Western economists, notably from Harvard, in the 1990s. In fact the work of a developing school of research on mafias suggests that ‘shock therapy’, as applied to the former Soviet Union, was a strategy peculiarly well-adapted to ensure that rational self-interest manifested itself in the form of criminality.

    As Professor Federico Varese of Oxford put it in his 2011 study ‘Mafias on the Move’:
    “A relatively recent body of research has shown that mafias emerge in societies are undergoing a sudden and late transition to a market economy, lack a legal structure that reliably protects property rights or settles business disputes, and have a supply of people trained in violence who become unemployed at this specific juncture.”

    A further complexifying factor which the Russian comparison brings into sharp focus is the role of military vulnerability. Particularly as claims about military threats can easily – although they are not necessarily – means by which rationally self-interested actors justify sucking at the teat of the state, a question arises as to how far the patent absence of such threats facilitated the success of industrialisation in the United States.

    (The problem of demilitarising a hyper-militarised economy was, of course, central to the dilemmas faced by post-Soviet Russia. A fascinating paper back in 2006 by the late Vitaly Shlykov, incidentally, argued that Russian ‘reform’ would have been far more successful if, rather than attempting demilitarisation by market methods, the Russian government had followed the example of what the United States actually did following the end of the Second World War.

    In fact, the reaction against the combination of protectionism and acute lack of competition in the Soviet command economy led to an uncritical acceptance of precisely the same conventional wisdoms about the virtues of free-trade of which Alexander Hamilton had been rightly sceptical.

    [See http://eng.globalaffairs.ru/number/n_6571 ])

    A clear implication of Professor Pettis’s analysis, more generally, would seem to be questions about the nature of their elites, and their ability both to understand the requirements of development and to develop and push through an effective strategy to generate them, should be central to ‘development economics’. Talk about ‘good governance’ seems to have marked limits as a way of approaching the issues involved.

    A final observation is that it would be interesting to hear the views of Professor Pettis and others about how the kind of social model which has been developing in the United States, and elsewhere in the West, over the past decades looks in the context of his arguments about the requirements for successful development. It would seem an interesting question how far the requirements of maintaining the success of a ‘developed’ modern economy are distinct from, or similar to, those of creating such an economy.

    Dear David,

    I found this a most interesting article, both Professor Pettis’s and your response.

    The difference between the American System of Hamilton and List and the British System of Adam Smith and Ricardo is well known. The US only fully and finally abandoned the American System in the 1960s when the Kennedy Administration substituted Keynesianism for the American System as the prevailing US economic orthodoxy. Keynesianism at its heart is an evolution of the British System.

    As for Professor Pettis’s larger point, that growth is a consequence of investment and that investment depends on the availability of capital are points that are I would have thought so obvious that it is for me a permanent puzzle that so few people see them.

    I would suggest that in almost every respect Russian economic policy approximates remarkably closely to Professor Pettis’s model. Russia does try to protect its industries to the extent it can from foreign competition and by and large it has been doing so successfully. The whole weight of Russian economic policy since 1998 has been to restore and strengthen the financial system so as to make it capable of capital investments and allocation. Russia has stimulated wage and income growth to boost demand. Outside a very small number of publicly owned strategic companies concentrated disproportionately in the mineral extracting centre it does not generally look to create national champions and the whole trend has been to eliminate subsidies whether operating through controlled pricing or interest rates. Privatisation is being used as a mechanism to boost competition and there are ambitious plans for heavy infrastructure spending, which has only just begun.

    Probably the only difference between what Russia is doing or is planning to do and what Professor Pettis discusses is that Russia is planning to use increases in defence spending to support and development its scientific and industrial base. That of course is exactly what was done in England in the Eighteenth Century (through massive state investment in the Royal Navy), in Japan and Germany in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries and to an extent that is rarely acknowledged or realised in the US in the 1860s where manufacturing was massively strengthened by the very heavy state investment in arms production that was needed to win the Civil War.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jen
    Dear Alex: People lost sight of the connection linking savings, availability of capital, investment and growth some time during the 1980s when global finance became more deregulated and debt finance came to be considered the easy option compared to raising equity as a source of funds. Raising equity forces a firm to be more accountable to shareholders (and more of them), on paper anyway at least. When I studied economics in the 1980s, the concept was going out of fashion, some of my lecturers said the connection was very weak and I suppose by now lecturers don't even mention it any more.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • [...] Russia’s Corruption In Comparative International Perspective [...]

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • An expanded version of the post by Michael Pettis on the history of the Chinese economic model to which I referred in my earlier comment has just been posted on his blog.

    (See http://www.mpettis.com/2013/02/21/a-brief-history-of-the-chinese-growth-model/ )

    I have posted a comment, which it seems sensible to reproduce here, particularly as some of it relates to Russia.

    One question to AK and others. It has always seemed to me that the perverse incentives created by the interaction of the legacy of the Soviet past and ‘shock therapy’, which encouraged criminalisation, and to which I refer in the comment, also created a situation where very many people had things to hide. One does not need to swallow the kind of highly dubious ‘kompromat’ claims routinely put out about Putin and others to think that the possibility that corruption trials of people high up in the contemporary Russian elite might lead to the exposure of skeletons may materially inhibit prosecutions.

    Someone like Serdyukov might be in a position to reveal a great deal of embarrassing information. Accordingly, removing corrupt figures from positions of power and influence, rather than actually prosecuting them, may seem the least worst option.

    My comment on Professor Pettis’s blog reads as follows:

    Some scattered observations on this enormously important post.

    It points up, for one thing, the trivial and indeed dangerous nature of much contemporary Western economic theorising. A great deal of this is obsessively concerned with modelling the interactions of supposedly rationally self-interested individuals in highly abstract terms. This ignores two problems: that the exclusive emphasis on rational self-interest does not mesh either with common sense or with empirical evidence about how human beings actually behave, and that how a rationally self-interested actor can be expected to behave is a matter of context.

    A central message of this article is, contrary to what is assumed by contemporary American economists who know nothing about the relevant history, successful ‘catch-up’ development, in the U.S. as elsewhere, has required state action to ensure that rational self-interest operated in contexts where it can produce benign rather than perverse outcomes.

    Among other things, it is crucial that ‘infant industry protectionism’ be accompanied by ‘brutal domestic competition’ – and that one does not end up with a situation where rationally self-interested actors, in essence, suck at the teat of the state.

    It would seem to follow that a necessary – but of course not sufficient – precondition for successful development would be elites whose views are shaped by good economic historians, and who ignore the conventional wisdoms of the economics profession. Also however necessary, however, it would seem, would be for those elites to identify, for whatever reason, with the objective of development – and not to be distracted from it by imperatives of rational self-interest that militate against it. Moreover, these elites need to in control of a state structure which is capable of effective action, without strangling private initiative.

    An object lesson of how to do almost everything wrong would seem to be the ‘shock therapy’ adopted by the so-called Russian ‘reformers’ egged on by Western economists, notably from Harvard, in the 1990s. In fact the work of a developing school of research on mafias suggests that ‘shock therapy’, as applied to the former Soviet Union, was a strategy peculiarly well-adapted to ensure that rational self-interest manifested itself in the form of criminality.

    As Professor Federico Varese of Oxford put it in his 2011 study ‘Mafias on the Move’:
    “A relatively recent body of research has shown that mafias emerge in societies are undergoing a sudden and late transition to a market economy, lack a legal structure that reliably protects property rights or settles business disputes, and have a supply of people trained in violence who become unemployed at this specific juncture.”

    A further complexifying factor which the Russian comparison brings into sharp focus is the role of military vulnerability. Particularly as claims about military threats can easily – although they are not necessarily – means by which rationally self-interested actors justify sucking at the teat of the state, a question arises as to how far the patent absence of such threats facilitated the success of industrialisation in the United States.

    (The problem of demilitarising a hyper-militarised economy was, of course, central to the dilemmas faced by post-Soviet Russia. A fascinating paper back in 2006 by the late Vitaly Shlykov, incidentally, argued that Russian ‘reform’ would have been far more successful if, rather than attempting demilitarisation by market methods, the Russian government had followed the example of what the United States actually did following the end of the Second World War.

    In fact, the reaction against the combination of protectionism and acute lack of competition in the Soviet command economy led to an uncritical acceptance of precisely the same conventional wisdoms about the virtues of free-trade of which Alexander Hamilton had been rightly sceptical.

    [See http://eng.globalaffairs.ru/number/n_6571 ])

    A clear implication of Professor Pettis’s analysis, more generally, would seem to be questions about the nature of their elites, and their ability both to understand the requirements of development and to develop and push through an effective strategy to generate them, should be central to ‘development economics’. Talk about ‘good governance’ seems to have marked limits as a way of approaching the issues involved.

    A final observation is that it would be interesting to hear the views of Professor Pettis and others about how the kind of social model which has been developing in the United States, and elsewhere in the West, over the past decades looks in the context of his arguments about the requirements for successful development. It would seem an interesting question how far the requirements of maintaining the success of a ‘developed’ modern economy are distinct from, or similar to, those of creating such an economy.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear David,

    I found this a most interesting article, both Professor Pettis's and your response.

    The difference between the American System of Hamilton and List and the British System of Adam Smith and Ricardo is well known. The US only fully and finally abandoned the American System in the 1960s when the Kennedy Administration substituted Keynesianism for the American System as the prevailing US economic orthodoxy. Keynesianism at its heart is an evolution of the British System.

    As for Professor Pettis's larger point, that growth is a consequence of investment and that investment depends on the availability of capital are points that are I would have thought so obvious that it is for me a permanent puzzle that so few people see them.

    I would suggest that in almost every respect Russian economic policy approximates remarkably closely to Professor Pettis's model. Russia does try to protect its industries to the extent it can from foreign competition and by and large it has been doing so successfully. The whole weight of Russian economic policy since 1998 has been to restore and strengthen the financial system so as to make it capable of capital investments and allocation. Russia has stimulated wage and income growth to boost demand. Outside a very small number of publicly owned strategic companies concentrated disproportionately in the mineral extracting centre it does not generally look to create national champions and the whole trend has been to eliminate subsidies whether operating through controlled pricing or interest rates. Privatisation is being used as a mechanism to boost competition and there are ambitious plans for heavy infrastructure spending, which has only just begun.

    Probably the only difference between what Russia is doing or is planning to do and what Professor Pettis discusses is that Russia is planning to use increases in defence spending to support and development its scientific and industrial base. That of course is exactly what was done in England in the Eighteenth Century (through massive state investment in the Royal Navy), in Japan and Germany in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries and to an extent that is rarely acknowledged or realised in the US in the 1860s where manufacturing was massively strengthened by the very heavy state investment in arms production that was needed to win the Civil War.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    On a different tangent, but still on the subject of Russian corruption, I understand that there are rumours today in the Russian press that Serdyukov is going to be charged this week and that the sentence for the crimes he will be accused of could potentially be up to 10 years in prison. We shall see.

    http://rapsinews.com/news/20130218/266439809.html

    According to Bastrykin himself, it is going to take at least a year for Serdyukov to be reclassified from a witness to an accused person.

    Read More
    • Replies: @rutenburg
    In the meanwhile, Serdyukov's accuser, Magnitsky, is likely to remain dead.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    The Supreme Court has provided some statistical data on corruption cases.

    http://www.rapsinews.com/anticorruption_news/20130219/266457341.html

    The fact that the number of corruption convictions has roughly halved from 10,000 to just over 5,000 in a few years does not mean (and is not intended to mean) that corruption is getting less emphasis or is achieving greater impunity. It is more likely to mean that corruption overall is getting less common. This is consistent with what is often said about the growth in the size of bribes. The fact that the size of the average bribe in Russia is said to be growing is more likely to be a sign that corruption is becoming riskier and more difficult and therefore less common than that it is increasing.

    The other point the Supreme Court makes is that corruption in the health care, education and the "penitentiary system" (does the last include police doing shakedowns to get bribes?) is as bad as ever. This is important because I suspect it is precisely within these sectors that Russians are most likely to come across corruption in their everyday lives. In other words corruption overall (for example within the business community and the state administration) may be declining but this may not be noticeable to most Russians because it is at the same level in those sectors where they are most likely to come across it.

    I asked my wife about incidences of her paying bribes in her pre- and post-Soviet life. She said that she has paid small bribes, and infrequently at that, and that they have almost always been paid to doctors in order to receive a better quality medicine than that provided by the state health care system.

    But were these really bribes that she admits paying? She was not being denied treatment unless she made a payment: the doctors in question were, rather, earning something “on the side”, albeit unethically.

    I asked her if she could tell me of a bribe she had paid that was not connected with medicine. She told me that when her mother died and on the undertaker’s suggestion she paid him so that he would put make-up on the deceased party’s face. He did a good job, apparently. I told her that that wasn’t a bribe either. She said it was, because she paid him cash in hand. I countered that he was offering an extra service – unethically, maybe – but that she had chosen to pay.

    She also told me that she knew of plenty of students that had paid bribes to enter the prestigious Bauman Moscow State Technical University that she attended. I agreed with her that that was bribery. She stressed, however, that no bribe was paid so that she could study there: she gained entry to Bauman off her own bat.

    I believe her, because Mrs. Moscow Exile is pretty smart.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    The Supreme Court has provided some statistical data on corruption cases.

    http://www.rapsinews.com/anticorruption_news/20130219/266457341.html

    The fact that the number of corruption convictions has roughly halved from 10,000 to just over 5,000 in a few years does not mean (and is not intended to mean) that corruption is getting less emphasis or is achieving greater impunity. It is more likely to mean that corruption overall is getting less common. This is consistent with what is often said about the growth in the size of bribes. The fact that the size of the average bribe in Russia is said to be growing is more likely to be a sign that corruption is becoming riskier and more difficult and therefore less common than that it is increasing.

    The other point the Supreme Court makes is that corruption in the health care, education and the "penitentiary system" (does the last include police doing shakedowns to get bribes?) is as bad as ever. This is important because I suspect it is precisely within these sectors that Russians are most likely to come across corruption in their everyday lives. In other words corruption overall (for example within the business community and the state administration) may be declining but this may not be noticeable to most Russians because it is at the same level in those sectors where they are most likely to come across it.

    This seems to be quite accurate. Putin’s time seems to have been associated with a clean-up of courruiption on the “macro” level but not aspects of more everyday life.

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  • The Supreme Court has provided some statistical data on corruption cases.

    http://www.rapsinews.com/anticorruption_news/20130219/266457341.html

    The fact that the number of corruption convictions has roughly halved from 10,000 to just over 5,000 in a few years does not mean (and is not intended to mean) that corruption is getting less emphasis or is achieving greater impunity. It is more likely to mean that corruption overall is getting less common. This is consistent with what is often said about the growth in the size of bribes. The fact that the size of the average bribe in Russia is said to be growing is more likely to be a sign that corruption is becoming riskier and more difficult and therefore less common than that it is increasing.

    The other point the Supreme Court makes is that corruption in the health care, education and the “penitentiary system” (does the last include police doing shakedowns to get bribes?) is as bad as ever. This is important because I suspect it is precisely within these sectors that Russians are most likely to come across corruption in their everyday lives. In other words corruption overall (for example within the business community and the state administration) may be declining but this may not be noticeable to most Russians because it is at the same level in those sectors where they are most likely to come across it.

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    • Replies: @AP
    This seems to be quite accurate. Putin's time seems to have been associated with a clean-up of courruiption on the "macro" level but not aspects of more everyday life.
    , @Moscow Exile
    I asked my wife about incidences of her paying bribes in her pre- and post-Soviet life. She said that she has paid small bribes, and infrequently at that, and that they have almost always been paid to doctors in order to receive a better quality medicine than that provided by the state health care system.

    But were these really bribes that she admits paying? She was not being denied treatment unless she made a payment: the doctors in question were, rather, earning something "on the side", albeit unethically.

    I asked her if she could tell me of a bribe she had paid that was not connected with medicine. She told me that when her mother died and on the undertaker's suggestion she paid him so that he would put make-up on the deceased party's face. He did a good job, apparently. I told her that that wasn't a bribe either. She said it was, because she paid him cash in hand. I countered that he was offering an extra service - unethically, maybe - but that she had chosen to pay.

    She also told me that she knew of plenty of students that had paid bribes to enter the prestigious Bauman Moscow State Technical University that she attended. I agreed with her that that was bribery. She stressed, however, that no bribe was paid so that she could study there: she gained entry to Bauman off her own bat.

    I believe her, because Mrs. Moscow Exile is pretty smart.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    On a different tangent, but still on the subject of Russian corruption, I understand that there are rumours today in the Russian press that Serdyukov is going to be charged this week and that the sentence for the crimes he will be accused of could potentially be up to 10 years in prison. We shall see.

    http://rapsinews.com/news/20130218/266439809.html

    That appears to be correct. Let us hope this is correct, as opposed to further shady stalling on the part of the Investigative Committee.

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  • On a different tangent, but still on the subject of Russian corruption, I understand that there are rumours today in the Russian press that Serdyukov is going to be charged this week and that the sentence for the crimes he will be accused of could potentially be up to 10 years in prison. We shall see.

    http://rapsinews.com/news/20130218/266439809.html

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    That appears to be correct. Let us hope this is correct, as opposed to further shady stalling on the part of the Investigative Committee.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    According to Bastrykin himself, it is going to take at least a year for Serdyukov to be reclassified from a witness to an accused person.
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  • Though it is a difficult thing to say, the reality is that corruption is an unavoidable aspect of modern society. I am making a theoretical point here, but it is nonetheless important to say that a totally corrupt free society exists nowhere and is an impossible ideal. It is like wanting a totally crime free society.

    Corruption in Britain is not as common as in Russia but as anybody who lives knows it exists at every level of society. I have to pay my refuse collectors regular tips (“bribes”) to make sure my rubbish gets collected. If I employ a builder I am always expected to pay him in cash since he is cheating on his tax. I discussed the pervasive cheating and plagiarism that I saw in two law schools in earlier comment. Anatoly has rightly discussed the various bogus educational institutions that are set up to “teach” foreign students, which beyond a glossy prospectus quite often simply don’t exist (I have been involved in many cases concerning such scams). We have a scandal here (the Murdoch scandal) involving newspaper reporters hacking private telephones and paying bribes to police officers in return for information and protection, which has forced the resignation of the head of the Metropolitan Police (“Scotland Yard”) and of his senior investigators. There is a major food adulteration scandal underway with European ramifications, which involves horsemeat that was declared unfit for human consumption being passed off as beef. There were what looked like well founded allegations that Blair sold honours in return for cash to fund his election campaign in 2005. In 2009 it became known that a culture has grown up whereby the political class in Westminster effectively doubled its income at the taxpayer’s expense by cheating on expenses claims. Several MPs (parliamentary deputies) have gone to prison. Last but not least and arguably eclipsing in scale any one of these scandals, there is currently an investigation underway into the fixing of the London interbank interest rate by the big London based commercial banks (the Libor scandal) with the profits of this probably amounting to billions. Despite the staggering scale of this wrongdoing there have so far been no prosecutions with widespread grumbling (including in the media) about the impunity that bankers appear to have.

    Does all this mean that Britain is a corrupt society? Of course not. Most British people are not in any sense corrupt though they are not beyond engaging in the odd scam when they can and if they think they can get away with it. That’s life. Imagine however how what I have written about could be reported by someone who was intent on showing that Britain is a corrupt society. It often seems to me that it is this sort of reporting that Russia comes in for.

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  • Viz the point about different types of corruption, I might as well repeat here an old joke that used to be said in Greece in the 1960s about the three types of corruption:

    1. You are ill and there is a hospital but you have to bribe the staff to get treatment;

    2. You are ill and there is a hospital but no one will treat you since the staff are all ghosts and the director is pocketing their wages;

    3. You are ill and there is in theory a hospital but no one will treat since in really it does not exist because the contractor who is supposed to have built it and the director who is supposed to manage it are both friends of the minister; the one has simply walked off with the money he was paid to build it, the other is happily helping himself to the wages of its “staff”, and the minister is getting a cut from both.

    A point to understand is that the third form of corruption is the most dangerous but is the least visible. Some of the countries that supposedly achieve very low levels of corruption (eg. some of the Arab Gulf monarchies) fall squarely into that category. The most visible form of corruption is the first. One should not underestimate the harm it does but arguably it is less dangerous than the other two. My impression is that most of the corruption in Russia is of the first sort. There is some corruption of the second sort, but corruption of the third sort is rare.

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  • This seems quite realistic. A few unrelated people visiting Georgia have all commented on how Saak has really cleaned up his country – Russians who haven’t visited there don’t believe it and asume it’s like the rest fo the Caucuses when it is not. Also, anecdotally, from what I’ve heard, as bad as Russia is, it is much better than all the non-Baltic former Soviet states (I am surprised by Lithuania, but it is what it is); the survey results match the reputation.

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    In short, I completely agree. When it comes to long-term growth human capital >> institutions, I have a lot about that on my other blog.

    By the way AK, my antivirus is saying that you other blog has “elements that may harm your computer”.

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  • @David Habakkuk
    AK,

    I posted a comment on the US-Russia.org discussion, which is primarily about Sergei Roy's contribution. Particularly as it is also looking for a comparative context, if in a different way, I think it may be worth re-posting here.

    It reads:

    This is a most illuminating discussion. A few observations prompted largely by Sergei Roy’s contribution.

    His distinction between different forms of corruption actually meshes with arguments made by some historically informed work on economic development. A professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies here in London, Mushtaq Khan, has argued that the empirical evidence simply does not support the conventional wisdom that the achievement of ‘good governance’ should be a critical objective for states seeking to develop.

    Obviously, ‘good governance’ is desirable. It has not, however, proved critical to development in the way it is generally believed to have been, Mushtaq Khan argues. The evidence he produces meshes well with Roy’s arguments about Russian history.

    Moreover, the fact that 'good governance' is the ‘dominant consensus’, in Mushtaq Khan’s view ‘sets poor countries infeasible and unachievable agendas, creating dismay and disillusion, and takes our attention away from achievable and critical governance agendas.’
    (He can be seen presenting his argument at http://www.diis.dk/sw94747.asp )

    Meanwhile, a noted expert on China, Michael Pettis, has produced a fascinating discussion of the problems of the Chinese economy. It starts:

    ‘As regular readers know I have often argued that the Chinese development model is an old one, and can trace its roots at least as far back as the “American System” of the 1820s and 1830s. This “system” was itself based primarily on the works of the brilliant first US Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton (see especially his report to the Congress on manufacturing and his two reports on public credit and banks).’

    (See http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/02/pettis-china-and-the-history-of-us-growth-models.html )

    One critical point that Pettis stresses is that the success of this American version of ‘national socialism’ was critically to do with the avoidance of a situation where a great deal of – perfectly ‘rational’ – economic activity ends up being primarily concerned with, as it were, sucking at the teat of the state. This is what Roy points out tends to happen in Russia.

    The arguments of both these writers, incidentally, bring into sharp focus the utter ignorance of the relevant economic history displayed by those Western advocates of ‘shock therapy’ who had such a calamitous influence in Russia in the 1990s. Rarely can a group of so-called ‘experts’ have combined such utter intellectual arrogance with such ignorance of so much of the relevant evidence about the questions on which they were so convinced they had a monopoly of truth.

    In short, I completely agree. When it comes to long-term growth human capital >> institutions, I have a lot about that on my other blog.

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    • Replies: @Hunter
    By the way AK, my antivirus is saying that you other blog has "elements that may harm your computer".
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  • AK,

    I posted a comment on the US-Russia.org discussion, which is primarily about Sergei Roy’s contribution. Particularly as it is also looking for a comparative context, if in a different way, I think it may be worth re-posting here.

    It reads:

    This is a most illuminating discussion. A few observations prompted largely by Sergei Roy’s contribution.

    His distinction between different forms of corruption actually meshes with arguments made by some historically informed work on economic development. A professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies here in London, Mushtaq Khan, has argued that the empirical evidence simply does not support the conventional wisdom that the achievement of ‘good governance’ should be a critical objective for states seeking to develop.

    Obviously, ‘good governance’ is desirable. It has not, however, proved critical to development in the way it is generally believed to have been, Mushtaq Khan argues. The evidence he produces meshes well with Roy’s arguments about Russian history.

    Moreover, the fact that ‘good governance’ is the ‘dominant consensus’, in Mushtaq Khan’s view ‘sets poor countries infeasible and unachievable agendas, creating dismay and disillusion, and takes our attention away from achievable and critical governance agendas.’
    (He can be seen presenting his argument at http://www.diis.dk/sw94747.asp )

    Meanwhile, a noted expert on China, Michael Pettis, has produced a fascinating discussion of the problems of the Chinese economy. It starts:

    ‘As regular readers know I have often argued that the Chinese development model is an old one, and can trace its roots at least as far back as the “American System” of the 1820s and 1830s. This “system” was itself based primarily on the works of the brilliant first US Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton (see especially his report to the Congress on manufacturing and his two reports on public credit and banks).’

    (See http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/02/pettis-china-and-the-history-of-us-growth-models.html )

    One critical point that Pettis stresses is that the success of this American version of ‘national socialism’ was critically to do with the avoidance of a situation where a great deal of – perfectly ‘rational’ – economic activity ends up being primarily concerned with, as it were, sucking at the teat of the state. This is what Roy points out tends to happen in Russia.

    The arguments of both these writers, incidentally, bring into sharp focus the utter ignorance of the relevant economic history displayed by those Western advocates of ‘shock therapy’ who had such a calamitous influence in Russia in the 1990s. Rarely can a group of so-called ‘experts’ have combined such utter intellectual arrogance with such ignorance of so much of the relevant evidence about the questions on which they were so convinced they had a monopoly of truth.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    In short, I completely agree. When it comes to long-term growth human capital >> institutions, I have a lot about that on my other blog.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • One of the standard memes about Russia's demographic trajectory was the "Russian Cross." While at the literal level it described the shape of the country's birth rate and death rate trajectories, a major reason why it entered the discourse was surely because it also evoked the foreboding of the grave. But this period now appears...
  • @Doug M.
    1) because it's comparing an estimated figure to a disputed figure. Both of these figures are bad, so comparing them is worse.

    2) because "North Africa" is undefined. If you use it to mean "North African countries that have sent significant numbers of immigrants to France" then yes, Mauretania qualifies. So, some parts of North Africa yes, some no.

    3) because -- again -- the birthrate in North Africa has collapsed in the last decade. It's like saying "Muslims in France are MORE fanatically religious than Muslims in Albania!" Well, yeah -- Muslims in Albania are a bunch of beer-drinking, bikini-wearing secularists.

    Having a higher birthrate than Tunisia is meaningless. Most of the world has a higher birthrate than Tunisia.


    Doug M.

    I don’t dispute what you are saying but simply pointed out that a correct statement (“Muslims in France are more fertile than those in North Africa”), with the caveat that I meant Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia – the countries were most of France’s Muslims come from – should not be referred to as “bullshit.” People compare estimates all the time, nothing wrong with that. I understand that the fertility rate is collapsing in Tunisia etc. – so what? It doesn’t make my statement untrue.

    And this was secondary to my still-answered and perrhaps unanswerable question about whether the fertility of the large numbers of Muslims in Moscow (whose Muslim population may be comparable to that of some of the small Caucasian republics) is higher than in the Caucuses.

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  • @AP
    So as you admit estimates for Muslin fertility rate in France is 2.8 while in North Africa it is 2.4-2.8 in Algeria and 2.4 in Tunisia; it Morocco it is 2.3 (I was thinking about these countries on the Mediteranian rather than of Mali or Mauretania when I made my comment). So how is what I wrote "Muslims in France are more fertile than those in North Africa" "bullshit?"

    I am curious if the figures are similar for Caucasians in Moscow - if they have higher birthrates there than they do back home. Anecdotally, from Muscovite parents, I hear about more and more Caucasian kids (who are not necessarily Muslms - Moscow has many Georgians and especially Armenians too). As high as the fertility ratre is in Chechnya, is it even higher among Caucasians in Moscow?

    1) because it’s comparing an estimated figure to a disputed figure. Both of these figures are bad, so comparing them is worse.

    2) because “North Africa” is undefined. If you use it to mean “North African countries that have sent significant numbers of immigrants to France” then yes, Mauretania qualifies. So, some parts of North Africa yes, some no.

    3) because — again — the birthrate in North Africa has collapsed in the last decade. It’s like saying “Muslims in France are MORE fanatically religious than Muslims in Albania!” Well, yeah — Muslims in Albania are a bunch of beer-drinking, bikini-wearing secularists.

    Having a higher birthrate than Tunisia is meaningless. Most of the world has a higher birthrate than Tunisia.

    Doug M.

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    • Replies: @AP
    I don't dispute what you are saying but simply pointed out that a correct statement ("Muslims in France are more fertile than those in North Africa”), with the caveat that I meant Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia - the countries were most of France's Muslims come from - should not be referred to as "bullshit." People compare estimates all the time, nothing wrong with that. I understand that the fertility rate is collapsing in Tunisia etc. - so what? It doesn't make my statement untrue.

    And this was secondary to my still-answered and perrhaps unanswerable question about whether the fertility of the large numbers of Muslims in Moscow (whose Muslim population may be comparable to that of some of the small Caucasian republics) is higher than in the Caucuses.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Doug M.
    "Muslims in France are more fertile than those in North Africa"

    This is a bullshit pseudo-fact. No offense, but there it is.

    1) Nobody knows what the Muslim birthrate is in France, because France -- a determinedly secular state -- refuses to segregate that kind of demographic data by religion. So there's no hard data. Just estimates.

    2) The current best estimate for the TFR for French Muslims is about 2.8. (TFR is the number of children per woman. A TFR of about 2.1 means zero population growth.) This number has been falling steadily for the last few decades; it's expected to drop to 2.4 in the 2020s and to approach 2.1 sometime in the 2030s.

    Note that the overall TFR for France is a bit over 2. So, while Muslims are a bit more fertile, on average they're just having about 3/4 of a kid more than their native French neighbors.

    3) Is a TFR of 2.8 higher than in North Africa? Well, it depends on what you mean by "North Africa". Tunisa is around 2.4 right now. Mauretania is around 4.3. Algeria, the figures are disputed; the high figure is around 2.8, while the low is around 2.4. And Tunis is at 1.9 -- below replacement!

    Note that most French Muslims come from Algeria. And both the French Muslim and Algerian TFRs are unclear -- you're comparing an estimate ("around 2.8, give or take") to a disputed figure ("some say 2.8, some say 2.4"). So that throws this quote into bullshit territory right there. But what the hell. Let's say that in some cases, yes, the birth rate for French Muslims of North African descent is higher than for their cousins who stayed home. But this isn't because the birth rate for French Muslims is all that high -- it isn't. (2.8 and falling is about the birthrate for Israel, Belize, or that famously overpopulated hellhole, Paraguay.) It's because the birthrates in the Maghreb (North Africa minus Libya and Mauretania) have fucking crashed in the last 15 years. Moroccans and Algerians are having a lot fewer kids, and Tunisians are having so few kids that their population is going to start declining if they don't turn it around.

    This is a meme pumped out by Muslim-phobes who want to project an image of DANGEROUS BROWN PEOPLE PUMPING OUT BABIES. It's bullshit. Push back.


    Doug M.

    So as you admit estimates for Muslin fertility rate in France is 2.8 while in North Africa it is 2.4-2.8 in Algeria and 2.4 in Tunisia; it Morocco it is 2.3 (I was thinking about these countries on the Mediteranian rather than of Mali or Mauretania when I made my comment). So how is what I wrote “Muslims in France are more fertile than those in North Africa” “bullshit?”

    I am curious if the figures are similar for Caucasians in Moscow – if they have higher birthrates there than they do back home. Anecdotally, from Muscovite parents, I hear about more and more Caucasian kids (who are not necessarily Muslms – Moscow has many Georgians and especially Armenians too). As high as the fertility ratre is in Chechnya, is it even higher among Caucasians in Moscow?

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    • Replies: @Doug M.
    1) because it's comparing an estimated figure to a disputed figure. Both of these figures are bad, so comparing them is worse.

    2) because "North Africa" is undefined. If you use it to mean "North African countries that have sent significant numbers of immigrants to France" then yes, Mauretania qualifies. So, some parts of North Africa yes, some no.

    3) because -- again -- the birthrate in North Africa has collapsed in the last decade. It's like saying "Muslims in France are MORE fanatically religious than Muslims in Albania!" Well, yeah -- Muslims in Albania are a bunch of beer-drinking, bikini-wearing secularists.

    Having a higher birthrate than Tunisia is meaningless. Most of the world has a higher birthrate than Tunisia.


    Doug M.

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  • @Doug M.
    A word on delayed births. The formal term for this is "tempo effect".

    A key fact: over the last century or so, the general trend in developed and middle Income countries has been for ever-rising maternal age. Older mothers, yeah? Like a lot of demographic trends, we see this at its extreme in Europe, where the average mother of a new baby is a woman in her 30s. But the trend is worldwide and long term. There have been a few exceptions -- during the postwar baby boom in the West, maternal age dropped for a while -- but so far, they've all been temporary blips; the general trend has been firmly unidirectional.

    What this means: in demographic terms, it helps to think of tempo as a sort of fund of capital that a country has. If your women are having kids at age 22, they have a lot of leeway. They can choose not to have kids today, wait three or five or seven years, and have the kids later when conditions are more favorable. It won't be any big deal. You'll see a temporary drop in the birthrate, but you'll make it up. You can spend that tempo capital, as it were.

    But if the average age of a mother is already 35, then you can't do much. Female fertility drops significantly after the mid 30s, and falls even faster after 40. A 22 year old can delay five or even ten years without difficulty; her 35 year old sister is up against the wall of biology. A country where the average mother is already 35 is a country that has spent its tempo capital. It can't delay births any more. If women choose not to have kids today, they won't be able to undo that choice five years down the line.

    My point: Russia still has a lot of tempo capital to burn. Well and good. But at some point -- decades down the line -- the tempo capital will run out, and Russia will end up in the same position that Germany is in today: lots of women in their 30s having kids, and no chance of a benefit from delayed births.


    Doug M.

    Well put.

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  • A word on delayed births. The formal term for this is “tempo effect”.

    A key fact: over the last century or so, the general trend in developed and middle Income countries has been for ever-rising maternal age. Older mothers, yeah? Like a lot of demographic trends, we see this at its extreme in Europe, where the average mother of a new baby is a woman in her 30s. But the trend is worldwide and long term. There have been a few exceptions — during the postwar baby boom in the West, maternal age dropped for a while — but so far, they’ve all been temporary blips; the general trend has been firmly unidirectional.

    What this means: in demographic terms, it helps to think of tempo as a sort of fund of capital that a country has. If your women are having kids at age 22, they have a lot of leeway. They can choose not to have kids today, wait three or five or seven years, and have the kids later when conditions are more favorable. It won’t be any big deal. You’ll see a temporary drop in the birthrate, but you’ll make it up. You can spend that tempo capital, as it were.

    But if the average age of a mother is already 35, then you can’t do much. Female fertility drops significantly after the mid 30s, and falls even faster after 40. A 22 year old can delay five or even ten years without difficulty; her 35 year old sister is up against the wall of biology. A country where the average mother is already 35 is a country that has spent its tempo capital. It can’t delay births any more. If women choose not to have kids today, they won’t be able to undo that choice five years down the line.

    My point: Russia still has a lot of tempo capital to burn. Well and good. But at some point — decades down the line — the tempo capital will run out, and Russia will end up in the same position that Germany is in today: lots of women in their 30s having kids, and no chance of a benefit from delayed births.

    Doug M.

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    • Replies: @mls13
    Well put.
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  • @AP
    AK, Muslims in France are more fertile than those in North Africa. Have you seen any statistics about number of people from the Caucuses living in Moscow and how fertile they are? Officially only 4% of Moscow's population are Muslims, while a Spiegel article places the number at 11%. I suspect that the real figure is closer to the latter. I wonder if, as in the case of France and North Africa, the Muslims in Moscow are even more fertile than back home (I have no idea about this).

    Anecdotally, my nephew in Moscow left a school and my brother-in-law sold his flat in a neighborhood that had become Azeri.

    Just saw this comment.

    A few days ago I had a whole discussion about the immigrant share of Moscow. He insisted it was 50%. The statistics say 90%.

    The statistics are wrong, of course, but 50% is way too low too. I estimate 70% or 80%. It should be noted that Gastarbeiters tend to work in very “visible” fields like market stalls, shops, construction sites, etc; whereas Russians will be sitting in offices more frequently.

    This means that one must take care to account for these biases before making definitive judgments based on what one sees. Though of course the immigrants are a real phenomenon and I fully expect Moscow to follow the Parisian model in which the current poorer working class areas become replaced with immigrants, while natives gather into their own clusters.

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  • @AP
    AK, Muslims in France are more fertile than those in North Africa. Have you seen any statistics about number of people from the Caucuses living in Moscow and how fertile they are? Officially only 4% of Moscow's population are Muslims, while a Spiegel article places the number at 11%. I suspect that the real figure is closer to the latter. I wonder if, as in the case of France and North Africa, the Muslims in Moscow are even more fertile than back home (I have no idea about this).

    Anecdotally, my nephew in Moscow left a school and my brother-in-law sold his flat in a neighborhood that had become Azeri.

    “Muslims in France are more fertile than those in North Africa”

    This is a bullshit pseudo-fact. No offense, but there it is.

    1) Nobody knows what the Muslim birthrate is in France, because France — a determinedly secular state — refuses to segregate that kind of demographic data by religion. So there’s no hard data. Just estimates.

    2) The current best estimate for the TFR for French Muslims is about 2.8. (TFR is the number of children per woman. A TFR of about 2.1 means zero population growth.) This number has been falling steadily for the last few decades; it’s expected to drop to 2.4 in the 2020s and to approach 2.1 sometime in the 2030s.

    Note that the overall TFR for France is a bit over 2. So, while Muslims are a bit more fertile, on average they’re just having about 3/4 of a kid more than their native French neighbors.

    3) Is a TFR of 2.8 higher than in North Africa? Well, it depends on what you mean by “North Africa”. Tunisa is around 2.4 right now. Mauretania is around 4.3. Algeria, the figures are disputed; the high figure is around 2.8, while the low is around 2.4. And Tunis is at 1.9 — below replacement!

    Note that most French Muslims come from Algeria. And both the French Muslim and Algerian TFRs are unclear — you’re comparing an estimate (“around 2.8, give or take”) to a disputed figure (“some say 2.8, some say 2.4″). So that throws this quote into bullshit territory right there. But what the hell. Let’s say that in some cases, yes, the birth rate for French Muslims of North African descent is higher than for their cousins who stayed home. But this isn’t because the birth rate for French Muslims is all that high — it isn’t. (2.8 and falling is about the birthrate for Israel, Belize, or that famously overpopulated hellhole, Paraguay.) It’s because the birthrates in the Maghreb (North Africa minus Libya and Mauretania) have fucking crashed in the last 15 years. Moroccans and Algerians are having a lot fewer kids, and Tunisians are having so few kids that their population is going to start declining if they don’t turn it around.

    This is a meme pumped out by Muslim-phobes who want to project an image of DANGEROUS BROWN PEOPLE PUMPING OUT BABIES. It’s bullshit. Push back.

    Doug M.

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    • Replies: @AP
    So as you admit estimates for Muslin fertility rate in France is 2.8 while in North Africa it is 2.4-2.8 in Algeria and 2.4 in Tunisia; it Morocco it is 2.3 (I was thinking about these countries on the Mediteranian rather than of Mali or Mauretania when I made my comment). So how is what I wrote "Muslims in France are more fertile than those in North Africa" "bullshit?"

    I am curious if the figures are similar for Caucasians in Moscow - if they have higher birthrates there than they do back home. Anecdotally, from Muscovite parents, I hear about more and more Caucasian kids (who are not necessarily Muslms - Moscow has many Georgians and especially Armenians too). As high as the fertility ratre is in Chechnya, is it even higher among Caucasians in Moscow?

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  • @Doug M.
    Here's a prediction for the next 5 years: we'll see a "hexagon with a droopy tail", as both birth and death rates are likely to fall. Net population change (independent of immigration) will be modest -- I expect a small decrease, but a small increase wouldn't shock me.


    Doug M.

    I agree with the droopy tail, that exactly dovetails with my own models. But I would sooner bet on a small increase. The 300,000 annual net immigrants now give ample room for natural population growth to go in a less than absolutely optimal direction, but still eke out population growth.

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