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Last year’s summary: Russian Demographics in 2018 [2016; 2014].

Preliminary data for 2018 is in.

Births, deaths, and natural increase in Russia, 1946-2018.

Summary

There were about 1,599,316 (10.9/1,000) births in 2018, a decline of 5.4% relative to the 1,689,884 (11.5/1,000) births in 2017. There were about 1,817,710 (12.4/1,000) deaths in 2018, a decline of 0.4% relative to the 1,824,340 (12.4/1,000) deaths in 2017.

Consequently, the rate of natural increase declined from -134,456 (-0.9/1,000) in 2017, to -218,394 in 2018.

Unlike the previous year, the decline in birth rates was relatively even across Russian and non-Russian regions in 2018 (e.g. Dagestan declined by 5.2%, which is similar to the Russian average).

The population was estimated at 146,793,744 as of Jan 1, 2019, down from 146,880,432 exactly one year ago. This implies about 131,706 in long-term net immigration, down from 172,551 last year.

If accurate, this would mark the first time since 2007 that the population of Russia has declined in absolute terms*.

***

Fertility

Russia experienced a sustained recovery from the fertility collapse of the 1990s starting from the mid-2000s, during which TFR rose from around 1.3 children per woman to a post-Soviet record of 1.78 children per woman by 2015. However, Russian fertility fell off a cliff in the second half of 2016.

Monthly births in Russia, 2006-2018, with yearly moving average.

Monthly births in Russia (percent change year-on-year), 2007-2018 , with yearly moving average.

In my last Russia demographic update a year ago, I noted that there were tentative signs that it may have bottomed out in recent months. This turned out not to be, though the rate of decrease did slow down.

Russia Total Fertility Rate (children per woman), 1946-2018.

Adjusting for the age structure of the population – the number of Russian women in their childbearing years is falling faster than the number of absolute numbers – I calculate Russian TFR was ~1.57 children per woman in 2018, down from 1.62 in 2017. (In the previous year, I calculated it would be 1.61 children per woman, while it turned out to be 1.62 children per woman in reality).

I have previously established that ethnic Russians have approximately 0.08 fewer children than the average for the Russian Federation. This would imply that ethnic Russian TFR is now at around 1.5 children per women.

While there’s no way to put a positive spin on these developments, it’s worth bearing in mind that pretty much the entire industrialized world has been in a minor baby glut for the past couple of years (as documented by Twitter demographer @Cicerone1973). Consequently, Russia has largely preserved the relative position to other countries it acquired around 2014-15, at the height of its baby boom. Its numbers are currently very similar to those forecasted for Germany (1.55) and Visegrad (1.47 in Poland; 1.50 in Hungary; 1.53 in Slovakia; 1.67 in Czechia). Note that native German and Visegrad TFRs will also be modestly lower on account of immigrants and Gypsies, respectively.

Broadly speaking, Russia continues to do better than the Med, but worse than France, the UK, Ireland, and Scandinavia. Overall EU fertility in 2016 was 1.60 children per woman, so bearing in mind the decline since then, it should now be in the low 1.50s (with natives at perhaps 1.45 children per woman). American TFR has declined from 1.84 children per woman in 2015 to perhaps 1.74 children per woman in 2018 (translating to a White American fertility rate of ~1.64 children per woman).

I have often made the point that there there seems to be a Great Homogenization, as American millennials adopt European mores while Europeans soak up American culture from Game of Thrones to #MeToo. Despite geopolitical tension, Russia is very much involved in this process as well. It is interesting to see this happening with respect to demographics as well. As we can see, natives/whites in the EU (~1.45), Russia (~1.50), and the US (~1.64) all now have rather similar fertility rates.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a comprehensive article on Russia’s fertility preferences.

While I recommend you check it out and read it in its entirety, one prediction I am willing to make on the basis of that data is that the retreat in Russian TFR observed in 2016-18 will halt, modestly recover, and stabilize at around 1.7 children per woman by the early 2020s.

***

Mortality

Based on the decrease in mortality, I calculate that life expectancy was ~73.2 years in 2018 (up from 72.7 in 2017), continuing to surge past Soviet-era peaks close to 70 years established in the mid-1960s and late 1980s.

Russia life expectancy, 1959-2018.

As has usually been the case, this was accompanied by continued strong decreases in deaths from external causes, such as transport accidents, work fatalities, and “deaths from vices.”

Russia mortality / 100,000 from external causes.

This includes deaths from murder, suicide, and deaths from alcohol poisonings, the latter of which drives a great deal of Russian mortality in general.

Russia mortality / 100,000 from murder, suicide, and alcohol poisoning.

Given the smoothness of these “Pinkerian” trends, I don’t have much to add beyond what I have said in previous demographic updates.

One way of looking at this is that mortality trends in Russia are basically tracking improvements in the ex-Soviet Baltics (and the City of Moscow) with a lag of ten years, so there is good reason to expect this trend will continue.

This is primarily linked to the big reduction in vodka bingeing during the past decade, which depressed Russian life expectancy by about a decade relative to what it “should be” based on its GDP per capita and healthcare system. This “alcoholization” began to soar from around 1965, and peaked in the 1990s and early 2000s. According to calculations by the demographer Alexander Nemtsov, something like a third of Russian mortality around 2005 could be attributed to it.

As alcohol abuse fell, so did all of the other components of mortality, especially those most strongly associated with it, i.e. deaths from external causes: which includes homicides, suicides, deaths from transport accidents (despite soaring vehicle ownership), and, self-referentially, deaths from alcohol poisoning.

Part of this reduction was due to cultural change, including the realities of life under capitalism (if you turn up to work drunk, you can be fired, unlike under socialism), part of it was due to economics (more diversity of choice), and part of it was thanks to specific Kremlin policies, such as steady increases in the excise tax on alcohol and restrictions on alcohol advertising.

This year’s update: Moscow’s LE was 77.9 years in 2017, up from 73.3 years – the average Russian LE today – back in 2008. So we could be looking at entrance into the range of developed world life expectancies by the late 2020s.

Homicide rates fell from 6.0/100,000 in 2017 to 5.2/100,000 in 2018, returning Russia to its typical historical range before alcoholization epidemic took off in mid-1960s. For anyone who may have missed it, see my post A Short History of Russian Homicides for historical perspective. In that post, I speculated Russia might overtake US in homicide rates in 2018. Not happening because US also had a big drop to ~5.0/100,000. But we can still reasonably expect this to happen in 2019 or 2020 at the very latest.

Based on the experience of Finland – a similarly hard-drinking country that had murder rates similar to those of the Russian Empire at large a century ago, but which in the absence of Communism has come close to converging to the European average – I expect Russia to eventually converge to a homicide rate of 1-2/100,000 one or two decades down the line. For that matter, Moscow – which usually leads Russia on socio-economic trends by around 5-10 years – has already hit that marker, with homicide rates at 1.9/100,000 as of 2018 (it was at Russia’s current level of 5.2/100,000 back in 2010).

Russia is no longer any sort of outlier even amongst developed Western countries in terms of suicide rates.

***

Infant Mortality

For the historical perspective, see: Russian Infant Mortality, 1900-2016

Having stagnated during the late Soviet Union and 1990s, Russian infant mortality has been rapidly improving ever since, reaching 6.0/1,000 in 2016, 5.5/1,000 in 2017, and 5.1/1,000 this year. Relative to OECD numbers as of 2015, this would actually now put Russia ahead of the US (5.9) and New Zealand (5.7), though most of the rest of the developed world and Visegrad continues to outperform it. It also needs to be acknowledged that the US has more stringent definitions of infant mortality, so in practice it remains ahead of Russia. That said, the gap is now much smaller than it used to be.

Abortion in Russia continues to decline to normal country levels.

Russia abortions as percentage of live births.

This is still about 2-3x higher than in most of Western Europe and the US, but Russia is longer the absolute outlier it once was.

***

The Ukraine & Belorussia

Great Russians have always had lower life expectancies than Ukrainians. This is a remarkably stable pattern since late Imperial times (LE in 1897: Russians – 28.7; Belorussians – 36.2 years; Ukrainians – 38.1 years**).

Except for the last few years

The crossover point in 2015 at 71.4 years for both. By 2017, Ukrainians were living 72.0 years to 72.7 in Russia, and – considering that there were 10,000 more deaths in the Ukraine in the first months of 2018 relative to the same period last year, while they fell in Russia, this gap will increase further in 2018.

The more Russian/pro-Russian areas of the Ukraine tend to have lower life expectancy than the more Ukrainian/nationalist areas, with the difference between the former and the Ukrainian average constituting about one year.

Consequently, the life expectancy of those regions would now just around 71.0 years. This would now place them at the level of some of the hardest-drinking, lowest LE regions within Russia itself.

The Ukraine is failing in its duty of care to its own people.

This story is repeated across other indicators of public health. For instance, I noted that Crimea had an infant mortality rate of just 3.7/1,000 in 2018, down from 6.9/1,000 in 2013 (its last year in the Ukraine). Ukraine’s rate in 2017: 7.6/1,000, barely down from 8.0/1,000 in 2013. Russia went from 8.2/1,000 in 2013 to 5.1/1,000 last year. Russia’s “annexation” of Crimea has saved thousands of lives.

In terms of fertility rates, the Ukraine peaked in 2012-15 at ~1.5 children per woman, but this collapsed to 1.37 in 2017 and will probably further decline to 1.31 children per woman in 2018. Worst performance in Slavdom.

Belorussia has stopped releasing month to month population data a couple of years ago, so the data we have for it is about a year old. However, it appears to be doing quite well. According to their last demographic yearbook, the TFR was at 1.54 children per woman in 2017 (down from their post-Soviet peak of 1.73 children per woman in 2016; incidentally, this further confirms the general nature of the fertility decline of the past couple of years) and life expectancy was at 74.4 years.

***

Prospects

My “predictions” are pretty basic. Hopefully 2019 will mark a final turnaround in the fertility collapse, though the numbers for late 2018 indicate that we haven’t quite reached bottom yet. Life expectancy, and other health indicators, should continue to improve.

The Russian government recently released its thirteen “national plans” – a massive infrastructure and capacity building program that will plow $400 billion into Russia’s roads, bridges, and hospitals over the next five years.

The two plans most relevant to Russian demographics are the following:

Healthcare ($30 billion)

This program aims to improve mortality from diseases of the circulatory system, dropping it by a quarter. While Russia has seen major improvements on this score (dropping from ~900/100,000 in the early 2000s to 575/100,000 by 2018, it still has a long way to go; typical rates in the EU are well less than 200/100,000.

On the other hand, the goal of lowering infant mortality from 5.5/1,000 in 2017 to 4.5/1,000 by 2024 has already been half achieved (see above).

There is a major emphasis on improving hospital accessibility and prophylactic care.

There’s even a goal of quadrupling medical equipment exports from $250 million to $1 billion annually (while that’s almost a rounding error in terms of Russian exports, this would presumably imply developing a domestic medical equipment industry – could this be a protective measure against the prospect of ramped up US sanctions?).

Demographics ($50 billion)

Goals include increasing healthy life expectancy, increasing the fertility rate to 1.7 children per woman (this would actually fall short of the figures reached in 2013-16; though it does tally with my prediction for the early 2020s), increasing participation in sports.

However, in terms of spending, the vast bulk of the spending – around 90% of it – will go specifically on financial support for families with children and preschooling. There will also be mortgage rates of 6% for families with two or more children.

I looked up the details at RT Russian [Google Translate]:

From January 1, 2019, the amount of state benefits paid in connection with the birth of a child in Russia will increase. Thus, the maximum amount of monthly payments to parents whose children have not reached 1.5 years will exceed 26 thousand rubles, the minimum – 4.5 thousand rubles. At the same time, the maximum amount of maternity allowance will exceed the level of 300 thousand rubles. For at least 140 days of maternity leave, the mother will be able to get 51.9 thousand. Assistance is provided for both employed parents and unemployed. Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the total funding of measures to support families with children in the next six years will amount to almost 2.7 trillion rubles. …

This type of assistance from the state is more designed for employed parents, since the amount of the benefit should be 40% of the average earnings for the two previous calendar years per one month. The marginal bases for calculating insurance contributions to the Social Insurance Fund for 2017 and 2018 are 755 thousand rubles and 815 thousand rubles.

Essentially, this represents an intensification of the pro-natalist policies that Russia has been pursuing for a decade now. This seems similar to trends in Hungary. Let’s see if it works.

***

* In reality, I suspect not, because immigration is usually underestimated. Russia’s population increased substantially after the 2010 Census, necessitating post hoc adjustments.

** Boris Mironov. Российская Империя: От Tрадиции к Mодерну, том I. pp. 283.

 
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Russia detains U.S. founder of Baring Vostok private equity group:

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has detained the U.S. founder of the Baring Vostok private equity group in Moscow on suspicion of fraud, a Moscow court said on Friday, a move likely to concern foreign investors.

Michael Calvey, a U.S. national and senior partner at the fund, was detained on Thursday, a spokeswoman for Moscow’s Basmanny court said.

Calvey was not available for immediate comment. The court ordered one of the executives, Phillipe Delpal, a French national, to be held in custody.

***

EDIT:

Consensus of more informed people seems to be that this is narrowly related to a commercial dispute. He is also apparently far more prominent in finance and US-Russia business relations than I gave him credit for. I am not involved in either of those areas, so I wasn’t aware of all that.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Foreign Investment, Law, Russia 
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When I suggested that in 2-3 more decades Russia will become responsible for the Holocaust, with attendant criminal penalties for its denial in many Western countries, it was said three quarters in jest. But perhaps it should have been fully half serious.

But more to the point, I recently came across this infographic of Ukraine’s measles vaccination rate over the years:

What do we see?

  • Plummeting immunization rates during the late Orange regime.
  • Modest recovery under Yanukovych’s regime.
  • Another collapse under the Maidan regime, albeit with a partial recovery at the end.

In other words, all of its declines in immunization rates happened precisely when Ukraine was deepest under American influence. Which makes sense, the US being the historic heartland of the anti-vax movement, which presumably makes inroads whenever fundamentalist West Ukrainian country bumpkins come to power.

At least this seems like a more plausible explanation that the current narrative in which Russian trolls are trotted out just as Europe, led by the Ukraine, experience a surge in measles outbreaks – which in the Ukraine’s case clearly stems from the collapse in immunization rates precisely during the time when the West’s people were in power there.

Fortunately, there is RFERL to let everyone know that RUSSIAN TROLLS ARE SPREADING ANTI-VAX DEZINFORMATSIYA AND KILLING YOUR CHILDREN.

 
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Fake Russian gun rights organization that doesn’t exist because Russians are too oppressed by Putler to have any independent opinions of their own.

A couple of days ago, The New Republic published an astoundingly well-researched longread by James Bamford about the Butina saga.

An anonymous commenter has summarized its key points:

-Mueller wasn’t interested in Butina; DC prosecutors picked up the case after he declined to pursue it
-She was raided by the FBI once before her arrest; they found nothing
-Claims that she was under heavy FSB surveillance while in Russia because Putin distrusts activists and dislikes guns
-During the deterioration in US-Russian relations due to Ukraine Kremlin officials were talking about how Butina could be actively be shut down (apparently disclosed in a leak of hacked emails)
-At one point FSB offered her a job (a note in her boyfriend’s home makes mention of this), but he says she wasn’t interested
-She had a benefactor who paid her tuition to grad school, an American descendant of the Rockefeller family and longtime friend of Torshin’s; Torshin himself didn’t pay
-The benefactor is a longtime agitator for improved US-Russian relations (hence his relationship with Torshin, whom he calls a “Gorbi guy” and fairly pro-American)
-There was a guy who had a national security role in Trump’s campaign who tried to strike up a relationship with Butina, but she mostly ignored him (the author cites this as evidence that she wasn’t actually a real spy, who would have presumably jumped at the opportunity to cultivate that level of access)
-The FBI agents who oversaw the investigation were a couple of yokels, one a former lab tech from Tennessee and the other a former TV anchor from Mississippi, who had 0 experience with espionage or organized crime investigations (the investigation into Torshin was due to alleged mafia links)

On the plus side, this is good news for Butina. While the activism from Right To Bear Arms on behalf of its former founder, as well as the commendable support of the Russian Foreign Ministry (they still have a “Free Butina!” avatar on their Twitter accounts – an act that Guardianista journalist Carole Cadwalladr described as “war”), was all well and good, we must also thank prosecutorial incompetence as well as the talent of Butina’s lawyers. Given what we know about the case, at this point in time, anything more than an extremely light sentence equivalent to time already served – at this point, more than half a year, much of it in solitary confinement – would be overkill and complete legal nihilism. I assume the Russiagate zealots haven’t yet undermined the rule of law in the US to that extent. I assume that after this is over, Butina will be deported to Russia and will resume her gun rights activism, though it may well become less Americanophile flavored.

On the negative side, this very article demonstrates the overawning strength of Russiagate conspiracy theory. Not just with respect to the legalistic travesties it describes, but in the fact of its own regrettably pathetic reach. It generated more than 5 comments on just one subreddit, and even the /r/gunpolitics discussion was brigaded into negative karma by an SJW subreddit. Most “successful” RT of the article was from an NPC NBC journalist, with his “killer” argument against it constituting: “Wow.” [Like, I can’t even?]. Consequently, while 95% of Americans who have heard of the Butina Affair associate her with their Red Sparrow fantasies, one of the few articles that actually pieces near everything together languishes unread.

But it is especially depressing because this case was a blatant fraud from the very beginning. Despite not having had any access or communications with any of the principal players, I was able to construct a remarkably similar narrative just hours after Butina’s arrest on July 16, 2018: US Arrests Russia’s Foremost 2nd Amendment Activist. Bamford’s article has filled in many puzzling gaps, and in many cases even made my initial arguments stronger. But this is something that virtually no MSM journalist investigated, except in those few cases where they were prompted into doing so by the prosecutors admitting their blunders themselves. Nonetheless, it is you who is being a hateful troll by telling them to learn to code.

***

So let’s do a close read of James Bamford’s article:

Yet a close examination of Butina’s case suggests that it is not so. Butina is simply an idealistic young Russian, born in the last days of the Soviet Union, raised in the new world of capitalism, and hoping to contribute to a better understanding between two countries while pursuing a career in international relations. Fluent in English and interested in expanding gun rights in Russia, she met with Americans in Moscow and on frequent trips to the United States, forging ties with members of the National Rifle Association, important figures within the conservative movement, and aspiring politicians. “I thought it would be a good opportunity to do what I could, as an unpaid private citizen, not a government employee, to help bring our two countries together,” she told me.

The government’s case against Butina is extremely flimsy and appears to have been driven largely by a desire for publicity. In fact, federal prosecutors were forced to retract the most attention-grabbing allegation in the case—that Butina used sex to gain access and influence. That Butina’s prosecution was launched by the National Security Section of the District of Columbia federal prosecutor’s office, led by Gregg Maisel, is telling in itself: According to a source close to the Mueller investigation, the special counsel’s office had declined to pursue the case, even though it would have clearly fit under its mandate.

The idea that Butina’s interest in guns and gun rights rights was peripheral, if not entirely made up, would have been rendered implausible by a quick search of the Russian Internet, her Facebook photos, or even an old article by Julia Ioffe.

Yet nobody in the “free and independent” Western MSM was particularly rushing to do that very elementary research.

“Look, I imagined I could be in prison in Russia. I could never imagine I could go to jail in the United States. Because of politics?” Butina told me over the phone a few weeks after she was taken into federal custody. It was one of a series of exclusive interviews I conducted with Butina, Erickson, and other prominent figures involved in the case, none of whom have spoken previously to the media. “I didn’t know it became a crime to have good relations with Russia—now it’s a crime,” she told me earlier. “They hate me in Russia, because they think I’m an American spy. And here they think I’m a Russian spy.”

Butina’s uneasy relations with the Russian authorities is something that even I managed to discover while rapidly churning out a 3,000 word article hours after her arrest by, erm… checking out her blog:

It is a most hilarious irony that Maria Butina’s very last post on her defunct Russophone LiveJournal blog was a complaint that one of her blog posts had gotten blocked by Russian state censorship agency Roskomnadzor for “containing information that is forbidden in the Russian Federation.” In that post, which dates to June 5, 2018, she also announced that she was closing her blog, since she considered further censorship inevitable.

Naturally, there were few if any mainstream Western journalists who ever bothered informing you of this rather important context.

As well as the rather relevant cultural/political background: That Russian authorities have a very skeptical attitude to gun freedoms, by dint of their Soviet legacy.

At the time, the NRA was also looking to expand internationally, and Butina was surprised at how similar their outlooks were. “They were talking about guns in exactly the same way we do,” she said. “That formed my idea that if we ever want to build a truthful friendship between the U.S. and Russia … it should be people based, not leaders based.”

As I pointed out after my meeting with the US Consul General at the World Russia Forum 2018, the Russiagate hysteria has made “citizen diplomacy” between Russia and the US pretty much impossible. Russians run the risk of getting arrested and imprisoned in solitary confinement just for talking with anybody in a position of power in the US. Americans run the risk of having their reputations ruined by the frenzied media, or even being subjected to politicized investigations themselves. (Do you really think that anyone would had dug into Erickson’s past without the Butina Affair?).

These are not just my suppositions, Russian liberal journalist Leonid Bershidsky says precisely the same thing:

But it does send a message to Americans that any Russian they meet could be a Kremlin agent. It’s easier not to take part in any such meetings than to ask whether their Russian counterpart has registered as a foreign lobbyist and filed the necessary paperwork with the attorney general. Perhaps that was the whole point of Butina’s optional prosecution — to let it be known that, after what the U.S. intelligence community considers massive Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, no unofficial back channels to Russia will be tolerated.

If sending this message was indeed the point of building a case against Butina, it raises questions of how the American justice system is applied to citizens of countries with whom the U.S. is at odds.

Incidentally, I also pointed out in my article that Right to Bear Arms also built ties with European gun rights organizations, and suggested journalists cite it as yet more evidence of Putler’s meddling in the Western democracies. Unfortunately, they didn’t take the bait. I suppose it was more trouble than it was worth. Mentioning this would have undermined the narrative that Right to Bear Arms was a fake or largely fake organization specifically constructed to enable Butina’s influence mission against the NRA.

Back home in Moscow, the Russian government was making note of her new friendships. The previous month, the United States and Russia had clashed over the invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, and the United States had levied sanctions against Russia. [AK: Former NRA President] Keene adopted the prevailing attitude of the government, and wrote an editorial in The Washington Times denouncing “Russia’s aggression.”

Shortly after Butina posted the photo of her and Keene at NRA headquarters, Marika Korotaeva, a Kremlin official and the former head of the Department for Internal Policy at Putin’s presidential office, got in touch with her boss, Timur Prokopenko. “Hey. Help please,” she wrote. “Butina … is now posting pictures with the president of the National Rifle Association at the main office in Virginia. Against the backdrop of statements about the supply of arms to Ukraine, I ask your help…. We have to shut her down completely.” (The text was part of a large batch of messages made public by a group of Russian hackers who had targeted Prokopenko.)

This was news to me – so there were actual discussions amongst employees of the Russian government that their putative “spy” and/or “agent” needed to be Shut Down!? LOL.

Incidentally, just for the record, I want to make it clear that Butina is ultimately a Russian patriot and does not share the mainstream American position on Russia and the Ukraine. Indeed, this is one reason – in addition to their default slavish Americanophilia – that a few of the most fanatical Russian liberals actually welcomed and applauded her arrest.

One of the more colorful examples I came across is this jeremiad by Karina Orlova, a US-based contributor to Echo of Moscow and columnist at The American Interest.

What a lovely detail. So it turns out that Maria Butina politically promoted Russian gun laws in Crimea, right after its annexation. Was physically there, meeting the people.

Then she participated in several meetings in support of the Russian war in the Donbass (it was called Project Novorossiya).

Only just on account of this this fucking cunt needs to be thrown in jail as a sponsor of terrorism.

My only regret is that American prisons are more comfortable, because Maria Butina deserves a real Russian patriotic penal colony.

Berezovsky’s one-time helper in London, Andrey Sidelnikov, was first to chime in with his support.

Come to think of it, the range of enemies she has made is rather impressive. American #Resistance, the most extremist, neo-Bolshevik Russian liberals, and Russian bureaucrat-bug(wo)men.

As U.S. prosecutors later noted, during a search of Erickson’s apartment in South Dakota, FBI agents discovered a handwritten note: “How to respond to FSB offer of employment?” To U.S. authorities, this was evidence that Butina had ties to the Russian intelligence service. According to Erickson, however, the opposite was true. Butina had no interest in working for the FSB, he told me, adding that he was the one who had written the note before one of Butina’s trips to Moscow. He was simply helping her prepare for the inevitable questioning she would face back home. “A question they always asked is, ‘Perhaps you’d like to make a more formal relationship,’” Erickson said. “How do you answer that to say ‘no’ in such a way that it doesn’t get you in trouble?”

Ha! So this is how that particular narrative collapses.

The friend was George D. O’Neill Jr., 68, great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and an heir to the Rockefeller fortune. He and Erickson had known each other since the early 1990s, when Erickson was running Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaign. In 2010, O’Neill and his father sponsored a joint U.S.-Russia conference in Moscow. “I met Torshin long before I met Maria,” O’Neill told me. “He was a Gorbi guy—a Gorbachev person—and that’s where this impulse to work with America came from. That’s what he told me.” …

As Butina was looking into master’s degree programs in the United States, O’Neill offered to assist with her finances. The help was critical, since her parents in Siberia could not afford the expense. Torshin, her supposed handler, never offered to help pay her two-year tuition. Instead, it was O’Neill, and her boyfriend Erickson, who gave her the money to enroll at American University’s Graduate School of International Service. Unlike Scott Walker, whom Butina met in passing, and whom she would later be accused of attempting to influence, her real ties were to men like Erickson and O’Neill, who had a few connections in Washington but in reality had little to no power. …

So the guy actually funding Butina’s studies in the US was an AMERICAN oligarch, while she in turn helped organize his dinner events.

This would make the connection between Butina and Torshin (“Russia”) even more tentative than I had initially assumed!

In April 2016, as the political season was heating up in the United States, Butina and Torshin also discussed the possibility of Torshin attending the NRA convention the following month, according to private Twitter messages the FBI recovered from Butina’s computer. Torshin wasn’t sure he could go, because the timing of the conference conflicted with his duties at the Central Bank of Russia. “I hope your female boss will understand,” Butina wrote to Torshin on April 28. “This is an important moment for the future of our country.”

These were the naïve hopes of a grad student, not the plotting of a Kremlin operative, as the U.S. government alleged. Had Butina been a spy and Torshin her handler, she surely would have been ordered to begin cultivating a real person of influence—there were hundreds out there—and not an idealistic outsider like O’Neill. Yet U.S. authorities cited all these messages as evidence that she was working on behalf of the Russian government.

Many similar anecdotes are recounted in the rest of the article.

The nature of this relationship is important to consider in the context of what came later. To a Kremlin-directed agent of influence, as Butina supposedly is, Gordon would seem to have been the perfect catch: a senior military officer with high-level Pentagon connections, a widely quoted Washington insider, and, most important, a key national security link to Trump on the eve of the election. Yet instead of recruiting him, Butina dismissed him, because her interest was helping O’Neill with his dinners, not Moscow with its spying. Equally strange for a supposed secret agent, she never bothered to tell Torshin about Gordon, something that would normally get both the secret agent and the handler a nice Kremlin promotion.

As I have said on previous occasions, if Butina was a spy – she was one of the most incompetent ones to have ever walked the planet.

Nonetheless, ridiculous as this situation is, even this latest revelation does not fully clear her of charges that she was acting as an unregistered foreign agent (charges which, if true, would make her one of the most blatant and incompetent foreign agents in espionage history, who managed to get herself reported to the authorities for her by her fellow students at the American University on account of her excessive Russophilia and Putinophilia).

Now, she straight up confirms that, and in approximately the same language:

“If I’m a spy,” she added, “I’m the worst spy you could imagine.”

The article has plenty of anecdotes about how Butina’s behavior was entirely incompatible with espionage:

“Maria shows up with Paul Erickson,” said a lawyer who attended but asked that his name not be used, “and George introduced both of them to us.” He added that Butina told everyone that she was a close friend and associate of Torshin, and that they had known each other for years. “If this woman’s a spy, then getting up and disclosing this information is not the way you would do it,” he said.

Hence the FBI’s difficulties with finding anything with which to charge Butina – “money laundering, passing cash to the Trump campaign, violating Russian sanctions” – despite the resources dedicated to the investigation. The author even says that a “knowledgeable source” told him that his meetings with Butina were physically monitored “at a cost of perhaps $1 million or more.”

Not surprisingly, the end result was… weak:

According to the FBI’s affidavit, Butina’s low-level networking with conservative activists and politicians, her efforts to help O’Neill with his dinners, and even her idealistic thoughts about bringing the two countries closer—the affidavit cites a statement Butina made to Torshin that, by inviting NRA officials to Moscow, “maybe … you have prevented a conflict between two great nations”—were part of a sinister, anti-American plot. This sort of insinuation and assumption is, essentially, the beginning and the end of the case against Maria Butina. …

Helson also described a search of Butina’s computer, during which he discovered another four-year-old conversation, this time with Torshin, in which they discussed an article Butina had published in The National Interest calling for improved U.S.-Russia relations. “BUTINA asked the RUSSIAN OFFICIAL to look at the article,” the affidavit states, “and the RUSSIAN OFFICIAL said it was very good.” She sent him an article to read. Torshin read it and liked it. Therefore, Butina is a spy. This is the quality of the FBI’s case.

… and revolved around the usual, fevered femme fatale fantasies around Russian redheads:

Prosecutors, faced with a humdrum case involving a grad student, friendship dinners, and little evidence, landed on the idea of sex, with Butina as the Kremlin’s Red Sparrow. “They were interested in sex,” one of the witnesses interviewed by the FBI told me. They “wanted to know if George [O’Neill] had sex with Maria. They couldn’t establish that, but that’s what they wanted.” O’Neill, who’s married with five children, denied the allegation that he’d had an affair with Butina. “That’s ridiculous,” he told me. “Maybe these guys have been watching too much TV.”

The FBI also seemed convinced, the witness said, that Paul Erickson had been seduced as part of what they called Butina’s “honeypot thing.” At Butina’s arraignment, prosecutor Erik Kenerson argued that Butina posed a flight risk, because her relationship with Erickson was “duplicitous” and “simply a necessary aspect of her activities.” His evidence for this claim was that Butina had occasionally complained about Erickson, and also that she had offered another person sex “in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.”

The claim, however, was a false and deliberate “sexist smear,” Butina’s lawyers argued. What the government refused to reveal was that the basis for the accusation that she exchanged sex for access was a three-year-old joke in a text to a longtime friend, a Russian public relations employee at the Right to Bear Arms. Humorously complaining about taking her car for an annual inspection, he wrote, “I don’t know what you owe me for this insurance they put me through the ringer.” Facetiously, Butina replied, “Sex. Thank you very much. I have nothing else at all. Not a nickel to my name.” The friend then wrote back in the same humorous vein that sex with Butina did not interest him. Butina was also a longtime friend of the colleague’s wife and child. Butina’s lawyers pointed out that prosecutors had “deleted sentences, misquoting her messages; truncated conversations, taking them out of context; replaced emoticons with brackets, twisting tone; and mistranslated Russian communications, altering their meaning.”

Yet the prosecution’s suggestion that Butina traded sex for influence worked very well as a publicity tactic. “Who Is Maria Butina? Accused Russian Spy Allegedly Offered Sex for Power,” read the headline in USA Today. CNN carried the breaking news banner, “The Russian Accused of Using Sex, Lies, and Guns to Infiltrate U.S. Politics.” Within days, a simple Google search using the phrase “Maria Butina” and “sex” produced more than 300,000 hits, and she became the butt of jokes on shows like Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. …

“They manipulated the evidence,” was the opinion of a former assistant U.S. attorney familiar with the Washington, D.C., office. It was a place he had spent many years prosecuting cases. “The government is basically calling her a whore in a public filing…. I think it was an attempt to influence media coverage.” He added, “This seems like somebody panicked, they moved too early, now they’re trying to figure out what to do.”

At the end of my original article, written immediately after her arrest, I suggested that the Occam’s Razor explanation of Butina’s escapes boiled down to the following points:

(1) Maria Butina is a gal who loves money, politics, and guns.

(2) She was settling down in the US, because at least the guns and politics part (including conservative politics) are far easier and more fun to pursue in America than in Russia.

(3) Since she is presumably still a Russian patriot, a Putin supporter, and an Americanophile, she would have naturally loved for the US and Russia to get along.

Thinking ambitiously, this might have also held out the prospect of an extension of American soft power – that is, what she would see as its wholesome, conservative element – into Russian politics. If this scenario had panned out, she might even have become… an “American agent” in Russia.

(4) Trump was the only Presidential candidate talking of improving relations with Russia – and he was a honest to goodness nationalist to boot!

(5) And her trump card into American politics? Her “Kremlin Connection.” Even though Torshin is nowhere near Putin’s inner circle.

Unfortunately, there was also a sixth part that she failed to account for:

(6) The US is also substantially run by gray bureaucrats, spies, and policemen – the Deep State – and they need to keep the Russiagate narrative going at any cost, since they have invested so much into it.

Consequently, I am pretty sure that Maria Butina is now regretting playing her trump card very much, as opposed to getting the hell out of dodge as soon as Trump was elected.

I feel that I have been vindicated on pretty much all points. If anything, I may have overstated the part Torshin played in this, with Maria Butina basically just piggybacking off him to launch her own network of American sponsors. Conversely, in fairness, I also blamed Mueller too much. He, at least, was smart enough to wash his hands off the affair at the earliest stage, leaving it to a couple of FBI agents – one of them a former local news reporter – who apparently had no experience with Russia or counterintelligence.

One last point I haven’t made, and have seen few other people make, is that relative to the (very few) previous cases of recent US prosecutions under FARA, Butina’s indiscretions were trifling. For instance, in United States v. Samir A. Vincent, the accused was found guilty of acceptions millions of dollars from Saddam Hussein to lobby for the removal of Iraq sanctions (and he had serious contacts, all the way up to former President Carter). His eventual punishment was a fine of $300,000 and community service. The very latest case concerned Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, a pro-Pakistani lobbyist who also received millions of dollars and had high political contacts, until the US clamped down when relations with Pakistan soured following the US raid to kill Osama bin Laden. He was initially sentenced to two years in jail, which was later reduced to one year and four months. However, his crimes also included tax evasion.

Of course this doesn’t apply to all countries. For instance, AIPAC does not have to register as a foreign agent, even though the influence it exerts exceeds Russia’s by many orders of magnitude. It is so far-reaching that it manages to get aspects of the US Constitution annulled (e.g. progressive criminalization of BDS), and forces American lawmakers into groveling apologies when they so much as point out this fact.

Consequently, if prosecutions under FARA can be considered to be a gauge of American official attitudes, we may consider that the US is more hostile to Putin’s Russia than to Saddam-era Iraq or the country that sheltered a terrorist who killed 3,000 of its citizens.

 
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The Kremlin “ideologue” Vladislav Surkov has recently written an article for Nezavisimaya Gazeta called “Putin’s Long State.” It posits that the Putinist system’s power stems from its unique ability to “listen and understand” Russia’s “deep people” – in contradistinction to the “deep states” that control the West beneath their democratic facades. This means that the system will outlast Putin, much as France remains De Gaulle’s Fifth Republic. It is unclear if “deep people” reflects the kremlins’ genuine opinion of their role in Russia and the world, or whether it is merely a bid by the largely sidelined Surkov to sidle back into a more central position of power. Still, as the person who did more than ever to popularize the term “sovereign democracy” in the mid-2000s, his article requires a serious analysis.

One of the article’s core problems can be distilled in one of its early sentences:

Having fallen from the level of the USSR to the level of the RF, Russia has stopped collapsing, and has began to recover and return to its natural, and only possible, condition as a state that is great, increasing, and gathering the lands of the community of peoples.

This is obviously a nod to the “gathering of the Russian lands,” except that in this case, it refers to some “lands of the community of peoples.” What are these lands? What are these people? Here we come to the crux of the problem – from a Russian national perspective – of Surkov’s worldview.

Let’s start with the national question, which would seem to be central to any discussions about “deep people.” The famous Russian far right blogger/troll Vladimir Frolov (“yarowrath“) has long argued that the “basedness” level of a Russian politician or publicist could be accurately proxied by the ratio of “rossiyane” (anodyne PC term for denizens of Russia) vs. “russkie” (ethnic Russians) in his vocabulary. Now at eight to five, Surkov’s piece is better than average for kremlinspeak, but that’s the most that can be said for it. This is confirmed in the details – the only mention of the “Russian nation” occurs in its civic form (“rossiyskaya natsiya”), with its subtext that Russians and Chechens have more in common than Russians in the RSFSR (sorry, I mean the RF) and Russians in the UkSSR (Ukraine). This is something that Zhirinovsky pointed out as well, noting that while there there are plenty of words about the “deep people,” there is nothing about the “Russian people.” As he argues, this is a regression relative to Alexander III, who first coined the slogan “Russia for Russians.”

Note that Surkov is the Kremlin’s “curator” for the LDNR. With people like these in charge, can it be any surprise that news from that front has generally been one of disappointment after disappointment?

Kholmogorov points out that while Surkov’s article can be seen as a modernized update to Uvarov’s triad (“Presidential Autocracy, Deep Nationality, …”) it is missing the first term in the equation. Because without Orthodoxy, what can autocracy plus (undefined, if “deep”; fake, if “rossiyskaya”) nationality, with no higher ethical superstructure, even be other than your typical tinpot populist regime? How is what Surkov is saying different from how the Western media describes Russia, with the minor exception that what the West considers “bad” – Surkov considers “good”?

Surkov’s claims about the all-powerful nature of the “deep states” in the West is belied by the fact that populist successes – Trumps, Brexits, and Salvinis – actually do happen from time to time. But these are homegrown phenomena, and have nothing to do with Russia. Ironically, in “defending” Putinism, Surkov merely echoes neoliberalism.txt’s Russiagate tropes. To the extent that the far right and the far left in the West are more “Russophile” than normie centrists, that is just a function of their hatred of their own establishments; to them, Russia is a blank canvass to project their hopes and dreams, just as Russia is a blank canvass for neoliberals to project their fear and hatred. And certainly there are very few people in the West, even amongst populists, who agree with Surkov that the Russian system is somehow more “honest” than what they have. As Paul Robinson says, “At this point… Surkov is in cloud-cuckoo land.”

The Leninist state is cited as an organic part of Russian history, on par with the states of Ivan III, Peter the Great, and Putin, as opposed to the terrorist takeover that it was. Just presumably another example of the “deep people” in action:

With its gigant supermass, the deep people creates a giant force of cultural gravitation, which connects the nation and attracts (flattens) to the ground (the native soil) the elites, when the cosmopolitanism gets out of hand.

“Deep people” are ethnic minorities with a chip on their shoulder? Actually, Surkov might just have a point there, if perhaps not quite the one he wanted to make.

The deep people is always of its own mind, impenetrable to sociological polls, agitation, threats, and other means of direct study and influence. Understanding what it is, what it thinks, and what it wants, often occurs suddenly and too late, and not to those, who can do anything about it.

So according to Surkov’s PoMoist take, Russians are this primeval hive mind, impenetrable to standard tools of sociology that work everywhere else. Apart from its inherent Russophobia, it also – taken on its own merits – completely discredits arguments to the effect that a solid majority of Russians support Putin. (So what? You yourself have just said that Russia is impenetrable to sociology). Good job, Vlad!

Fortunately, Surkov has a “powerful” rejoinder”:

The ability to listen and understand the people, see through it, to its very depths, and act accordingly – that is the unique and most important feature of Putin’s state.

Erm… OK.

In reality, the Presidential Administration is positively obsessed with polls. It also seems to be pretty good at it. Maintaining approval ratings of 60%+ for the national leader for almost two decades now without exercising overly coercive media control is quite impressive.

The problem with Surkov is that he evidently fancies himself to be very clever, sophisticated, “the only truth is that there is no truth” philosopher whereas in reality he is quite mediocre. The article itself is one of the clearest examples of Fluctuarius Argenteus’ “RussoShoe Theory” that I have read in months. With “apologists” like him, Putin needs no enemies. Fortunately, Putin’s actual state is less retarded and PoMoist than its putative “ideologue” seems to believe.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Deep State, Opinion Poll, Politics, Russia 
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Who is the only very prominent person in the Russian elites whom Navalny hasn’t gone to great lengths to criticize? Which major state-owned corporation hasn’t had an investigative dossier written about it by the Anti-Corruption Fund (even though an ordinary analyst at Sberbank’s investment arm managed to find no shortage of very suspicious things about its conduct)? Indeed, who is the only person in Russia apart from Putin who is widely rumored to be more powerful than Dmitry Medvedev, and as such, presumably capable of protecting someone who made a mortal enemy of the Prime Minister for exposing his corruption? And which Russian political faction would have a general interest in using someone like Navalny as a check on the ambitions of systemic liberals in general?

And just to think of all the unleashed passions and kerfuffles between “pro-Western democratists” and “Kremlin trolls” that Navalny has provoked over the years. If this conspiracy theory is true, that would be really, really hilarious in the grand scheme of things.

 
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A couple of days ago, the Irish conservative journal The Burkean published an essay by its editor Michael O’Dwyer Connolly about the failure of the Convergence Hypothesis:

It is Sub-Saharan Africa that is the real worry for believers in convergence. Despite it being over half a century since European administrations vacated the continent, not only has it not improved, much of the continent is now poorer (in terms of quality of life, not GDP) than ever before. …

Despite this, the institutions argument is a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. It requires an understanding of human genetic diversity to make sense on a global scale (for example, why can’t certain countries create good institutions?).

This theory argues that a nation’s development potential is constrained by the basic psychological makeup of the population. The most important traits in this regard are intelligence and social trust.

Intelligence strongly correlates with many important factors like innovation and self-control. High intelligence means you can be a world-leader in cognitively-demanding fields. Sweden, for example, can produce fighter jets despite having only nine million people. Low intelligence means you have more non-functional people. These people might not be able to hold a job (especially in developed economies), they might be erratic or violent, and your society will often have to babysit them at great cost to everyone else.

Reasonably anodyne, patently commonsense – even if the article borrows perhaps a bit too generously from Guillaume Durocher’s The Convergence Hoax. (Though he’s cool with it).

Though you wouldn’t guess from the storm it unleashed on Irish Twitter, and not just amongst the usual SJWs:

… but the Irish cuckservatives as well:

Hey John, guess what. You lost your “culture war.” Your countrymen voted overwhelmingly to legalize abortion, Irish millennials couldn’t care less for Christianity, and your country is ruled by a gay Indian.

Perhaps it’s time to get your useless 34 year old boomer ass out of the way and let people who refuse to cuck have a go at salvaging the situation.

But TBH, the entire affair is certainly quite depressing.

Irish /pol/ was decidedly outnumbered by the SJWs/cuckservatives in the comments, which bodes ill for any immediate prospects of halting Ireland’s demographic replacement, which is advancing with unprecedented rapidity (current plans call for one million immigrants by 2040 on top of a population of less than 5 million). Imagine preserving your culture over centuries of British religious persecution, famines, Anglicization – then throwing it all away in the blink of an eye just to participate in the multiculti cargo cult and get back at a few pedo priests.

 
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My post on the maximum world population drew a large number of “powerful takes” – unfortunately, powerful in the bad sense of the word – idiotic trolling (humorous trolling is allowed), ad hominems, conspiracy SIFs, negative value added, etc.

While I appended the MORE tag to a bunch of them, I was also forced to go on a record-breaking deletion spree. You should not have been surprised by this; I clearly said at the start of the year from now on, comments on posts tagged as “effortposts” will be held to higher standards than the (almost) anything goes policy on normal posts. In the absence of an upvote system, this is the only functional way to have normal, informative conversations. I would also prefer to keep such posts citable, which is tricky if you have people going off on their off topic ramblings about Jews and Rockefellers in the comments.

However, in the interests of transparency, I am going to share some of those deleted “powerful takes” for your information and possible amusement (note: This post is obviously not an effortpost).

***

Haxo Angmark I:

this is all pie in the sky, Karlin.

once the Judeo-globalists have liquidated the relatively high-IQ (but threatening) Whites,

which will happen c. 2070-2090,

they and their Chinese soulmates will have no further need

for the billions of congoids, muslims, dotIndians, spics, and etc. that crowded out and then slaughtered the Whites.

all these billions will then be terror-famined into extinction as well, leaving earth

a veritable Arcadian paradise for Jews and Chinks, maybe 2 billion in toto.

Haxo Angmark II:

what a little chicken you are, Karlin:

I gave you an accurate prediction as to the demographic future –

as determined by political/racial realities, not

your pie in the sky and fancy calculi,

and you killed it. Nonetheless,

it will be.

Look, there are about a hundred other, much more appropriate places to expose Judeo-globalist schemes on both the Internet and even this very website in your weird text formatting style.

obwandiyag:

A. Futurists are always wrong. Especially little boys who pose half-naked with fake swords.

B. This one thinks nuclear power is just hunky-dory. Thus, he is either stupid or a shill and deserves no credence whatsoever.

C. It’s just a bunch of cherry-picked looked-up stuff. Anybody can cherry-pick looked-up stuff. It looks impressive, but it should not. Because it is easy as pie.

That is actually a real European longsword, though blunted ofc.

Anyhow, while you are very free to share your negative opinions opinions on me, just not on my own blog. Having briefly glanced through this user’s posting history, and discovering that it’s almost entirely composed of idiotic and highly aggressive commentary, I proceeded to ban him as well.

anonymous coward:

There is no ‘paradox’. Use your brain, apply Occam’s Razor. We are alone in the universe because God made us so. End of story, and get back to work.

Opinion is noted. Nobody cares.

Z-man

6 Billion as long as there are less than 6 million Jooz…lol! Ok, make it 8 million as long as 99% of them are in central Siberia, lol!!!

No comment.

onebornfree:

The articles main question is pretty much irrelevant , unless a LOT of people do a LOT of waking up, very soon. [Unlikely].

The Rockefeller [and others] eugenics plan to assure a maximum world population, [1 billion, I think, without checking] , via war, forced sterilization, state-funded abortion, the limiting of family size, the chemicalization [i.e. deliberate poisoning] of medical, food, and water supplies, the global warming movement, etc. etc. etc., was implemented for individual nations via agreed-on policy directives first developed by the UN, NATO, the Club of Rome, the Trilateral Commission, the Council On Foreign Relations and numerous other similar governmental and none-governmental organizations, MANY moons ago.

Here’s a short introduction to the “problem” of world population and the eugenicists and other associated “governments can solve the problem” morons, and their now apparently mandatory “solution” that we are all obligated to go along with, because it was decided for us all, years ago, “for our own good” [of course]:

[YouTube video]

These people are hardly ever capable of making their own argument succinct and persuasive, which often forces them to pad out their inane ramblings with a forest of equally kooky links and videos.

ben sampson:

I absolutely, categorically, totally refuse to read this. it would be a waste of time and thought, and energy.

this article cannot possibly be relevant. in the space of ten years the basis upon which this is built will likely be moot due to new facts about the earth, life and universe we will discover.

I will not read this stuff get myself upset and bothered about the stuff in it. I don’t want all this info to clog me up. we must solve capitalism and its ills right now. first things first.

and if we solve capitalism, succeed in creating a real democracy that addresses all human needs from the ground up..as far as i see, it also makes the conception in this here article moot

waste of time is what it is

Why do you expect me to give you the privilege of hosting your retarded comment when you admit you haven’t read the article, and aren’t going to read it, in the first sentence?

The sheer chutzpah.

Eddie Van Halen:

The author still thinks we have global warming and believes the US shale production is sustainable. I quit reading after that.

Good for you.

PS. I didn’t say anything about the sustainability of US shale oil production.

Abdul Alhazred:

Well what would Lyn say!!!

Lyndon LaRouche that is, for indeed a thorough discussion of the issue of human population without
thoroughly discussing LaRouche’s approach.

Thus without further ado~

https://larouchepac.com/larouches-discovery

Well why don’t you tell us what LaRouche would say? If you can’t be bothered doing that, I assume it can’t be that important.

APilgrim [here]:

The General Electric Mark-1 pseudo-containment systems failed, (4-for-4) at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (FDNPS) in March 2011. The most spectacular failure was the Atomic Detonation of Reactor-3. The most dangerous situation was the teetering Spent-Fuel-Pool associated with the FDNPS Reactor 4. Japanese were able to temporarily shore-up the teetering SFP, and then subsequently move the Spent Fuel to a ground-level, common SFP. Had the spent fuel tumbled down slope, the resulting cataclysm would have exterminated North America to the Mississippi Valley.

I started hiding all this user’s nuclear power-related comments at this point, which he wasn’t too happy with.

Beginning with, I am a degreed electrical engineer & I have worked on nuclear projects.

Flat-Earthers, Moon-Launch-Deniers, Holocaust-Deniers, & Luddites are allowed to rant.

But electrical power engineers, with nuclear project experience are silenced?

I couldn’t care less about your supposed credentials once you start spouting off that a few hundred tons of hot, dense radioactive metal can go through a few hundred 10^15 tons of hot, dense radioactive metal that makes up the Earth’s core to wipe out the continent on the other side, or whatever.

So, are you uninformed or in the direct employ of the nuclear village?

At that point I just started deleting his inane ramblings, and banned him once I get tired of doing that.

 
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Long time no Open Thread! Will try to return to a weekly OT schedule henceforth.

The “core” of my series on the Age of Malthusian Industrialism is done. Here is a quick table of contents:

Other useful context: Introduction to Apollo’s Ascent; Our Biorealistic Future; The Idiocy of the Average – and Why It Matters

As I promised, there will be two further articles in this series, but they will be whimsical/speculative addendums, not core parts of the series.

And I’ll get to working on the book as soon as that’s done.

***

Featured

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Russia

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World

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Science & Culture

N.N. Taleb IQ Controversy

***

Humor/Misc

  • Not surprised to see that Fallout Online is crap.
  • Roosh V: “America has a “social credit” system just like China, where you are blocked from internet platforms, banking, and lodging. The major difference is that in America, the companies “ghost” you without giving a reason because they’re staffed with leftist cowards.”
  • Mike Cernovich embraces Islam.
  • How the singer Tessa Violet became a hit with Russian nationalists.

***

 
• Tags: Academia, France, IQ, Jews, Open Thread 
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Melinda C. Mills & & Charles Rahal (2019): A scientometric review of genome-wide association studies

This scientometric review of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) from 2005 to 2018 (3639 studies; 3508 traits) reveals extraordinary increases in sample sizes, rates of discovery and traits studied. A longitudinal examination shows fluctuating ancestral diversity, still predominantly European Ancestry (88% in 2017) with 72% of discoveries from participants recruited from three countries (US, UK, Iceland). US agencies, primarily NIH, fund 85% and women are less often senior authors. We generate a unique GWAS H-Index and reveal a tight social network of prominent authors and frequently used data sets. We conclude with 10 evidence-based policy recommendations for scientists, research bodies, funders, and editors.

There are many more GWAS being carried out over the years, with much larger sample sizes:

Japan’s prominence is perhaps surprising.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Genetics, GWAS, Science 
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Cool, useful resource here: Границы России 1462-2018 гг

Associated video below:

Couple of infographics to go along with that:

Russian territory over time.

Territories gained/lost by each ruler.

Biggest gainz: Mikhail Romanov & Alexey Mikhailovich (Siberia).

Biggest losers: Gorbachev, Lenin

 
• Category: History • Tags: Russia 
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Just discovered this 2016 poll (Dalia) on percentage of people identifying as LGBT in Europe.

Largely unsurprising.

As I keep insisting, there’s something with Poland. 2.5x as many LGBT amongst youth as in Hungary. I think my prediction that Poland will legalize gay marriage by 2028 might just turn out correct.

What did surprise me is that there are many more American LGBT (12.1%) than in Europe (5.6%). Some 15% of young Americans identify as LGBT, versus 8% of young Europeans. Very, very interesting figures. Much higher than in the Gallup polls.

Though there is a very fast rise in the Gallup figures, too:

 

U.S. Adults Identifying as LGBT, 2012-2017
Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender?

 

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
% % % % % %
% LGBT 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.9 4.1 4.5

Dalia suggests several reasons why its results are much higher than those of Gallup:

First, our survey is representative for ages 14-65, while Gallup’s is for ages 18 and over; and because young people are more likely to identify as LGBTQ, our overall number is higher. Second, the much larger sample size in Europe (11.282 respondents) means that the margin of error in the EU is smaller than in the US (1.052 respondents) : +/-1.1% in the EU and +/-3.2% in the U.S. Therefore, the amount of Americans who identify as LGBTQ could be anywhere from 8.9% to 15.3%. This could also explain why the US survey results are much larger than our European results. Third, our surveys are conducted privately through mobile phones, which gives respondents more anonymity than face-to-face surveys or telephone interviews (which Gallup used to conduct its survey). Lowering social pressures and increasing privacy in how surveys are conducted might lead respondents to being less guarded and more honest with the answers they provide.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Europe, Homosexuality 
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The title is a bit of an exaggeration.

Even back in 2010, there was plenty to criticize Putin for, and since then, the details haven’t even changed that much so far as I’m concerned (e.g. corruption, bureaucracy, white elephants). And it’s not that I have been unremittingly anti-Putin in the past few years, regardless of the “powerful takes” of random sovoks and the more rabid Putinistas.

That said, there’s no question that my personal “approval rating” of Putin fell from around 75% during the 2008-2013 period, which peaked at close to 90% during the excitement of the Russian Spring in early 2014, to perhaps just 50%-60% during the ensuing period of never-ending zradas on the Donbass Front, the incessant persecutions under 282, and Putin’s own increasingly evident senility.

Typical articles from the former period:

Typical articles from the latter period:

***

The Three Faces of Putin: VVP, putlet, PUTLER!

During 2008-2013, he was Putin – a strong, reasonably effective leader; not a visionary like Peter the Great, but at least a solid, state-building Ivan III. This was reflected in his initials, VVP – which translate to “GDP” in Russian. During the 2000-2014 period, this is exactly what Putin was defined by: Raising the VVP, sprouting malls, consumerism. This might seem crass and materialistic, but only to people in societies that were much richer than Russia thanks to their luck in avoiding Communism. We want what we don’t have. There’s little room for developing spiritual and thymotic values on an empty belly.

In 2014, Putin became PUTLER!*

But soon after the height of his triumphs, he started regressing into a pathetic putlet – so much so that I even ended up voting for Zhirinovsky in protest.

However, the failures in the Ukraine regardless, there have been so many substantive changes for the better in the past year that I am revising his status back to standard issue Putin.

1. Neoliberal Reforms

Putin raising the pension age was a truly heroic and necessary step that demonstrated that he still has vitality and the will to do the right thing, regardless of the wailing of the mob.

Though he did eventually roll back the target retirement age for women to 60 from 63, which was pretty weak.

Nonetheless, this is a very encouraging contrast to the example of Poland, where the retirement age has been reduced by the conservative populists of PiS to the detriment of its long-term fiscal outlook.

This is on the background of raising Russia’s position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings from 120th to 31st between 2012 and 2018. An unsung achievement that will benefit Russia in the years to come.

2. More Science Funding

One of my biggest peeves with policy in the past decade specifically is that the state of Russian science and R&D has been pretty lamentable – see my article on that.

Though one can’t blame everything on that, the paucity of funding played a significant part. Not clear how one can expect stellar results when Roskomnadzor (the Internet censorship authority that has followed up its blocking of Telegram with a block on Sci-Hub and a bunch of torrenting sites – so much for my suggestions of making Russia into a pirate heaven) gets 10% as much funding as the entire Russian Academy of Sciences (which accounts for about 40% of Russian science production).

However, things are looking up. Researcher salaries were almost doubled in 2018. For the first time since the end of the Soviet Union, academia is again a financially viable profession.

3. Ongoing Destruction of Federalism

As I have often pointed out, Russia is more Russian (82%-85%) than the “Jewish state” of Israel is actually Jewish (75%), so why do we have to pretend we are a “multinational” federation? Unlike the US or Switzerland, Russia was not constituted as a federation, a set of independent states that voluntarily joined up in a union while reserving some of their own laws, specific privileges, etc. Russia was always an empire, and it should act as one. And while much work remains to be done in this sphere, there have been at least a couple of concrete and substantial improvements.

First, there were legal changes that made the learning of ethnic minority languages in Russia’s national republics voluntary. This had the biggest effects in Tatarstan, where Russians (Bashkirs, etc.) previously had to learn Tatar. It is bizarre that non-Tatar pupils had to waste hundreds of hours of their lives learning a pointless language thanks basically to sovok-era borders and it is great that this is no longer the case, even if it did make Tatar bureaucrats very sad.

Second, the local, crony powerbreakers of Dagestan have been cleaned out and replaced with a “colonial” administration disproportionately composed of Russians and Laks (a traditionally more modernized and pro-Russian ethnicity). While I am skeptical about the long-term utility of keeping DICh within the Russian Federation, if they have to stay, it is best that they serve some purpose instead of constituting a bottomless money pit feeding local elites.

4. Immigration Reform

The latest policy moves on immigration reform are highly encouraging. I have written about this in greater detail in previous posts, so I will not dwell long here. But to cut a long story short, current suggestions are are both pro-human capital and pro-Russian, which also makes them implicitly anti-Ukraine. As I pointed out, PUTLER! might as well have been reading my blog.

Another law easing restrictions on asylum policy has also been passed. Unfortunately, this was too late for Olena Boyko, but hopefully the endless ghastly sagas of pro-Russian Ukrainians getting deported straight into Ukrainian jails for “migration violations” can finally come to an end.

5. White Revivalism

The past few years have seen a steady diminution of official identification with the Soviet era in favor of Tsarist and White symbology. In recent months, prominent monuments to Ivan III, Alexander III, and Solzhenitsyn have gone up.

Most strikingly, in a recent competition over the naming of Murmansk Airport, victory went to Nicholas II, the founder of the city, over Ivan Papanin, a Soviet polar explorer who committed atrocities while serving the Bolsheviks during the Civil War.

Though its questionable to what extent this is something driven by the authorities and to what extent it is a natural development, but provincial cities have been getting nicer and more beautified since 2014, despite a long recession.

6. Decriminalization of Article 282

Putin personally submitted a bill to soften Article 282, Russia’s hate speech law. Once again, it is good to see my blog is being read and acted upon at the very highest levels.

Caveat: As usual, this is a halfway measure. It only decriminalized Article 282, so one can still receive a modest fine for “hateful” speech; moreover, if you repeat the offense within a year, it becomes a criminal offense. Still, for all practical purposes, this removes the ability of the residual sovok swine that still dominate the Russian judiciary to jail Russians for saying things like “it’s time to do away with this strange economic system” (Konstantin Krylov), “the great Russian people” (Dmitry Bobrov), and quoting statistics on who subsidized who during the Soviet era (Roman Yushkov).

7. Regathering the Russian Lands

Not much to be done about the Ukraine by now, but there have been some very encouraging developments on the Belorussian sector in recent months.

Honestly, if Russia can’t even get back the six Belorussian oblasts, I am not sure it deserves to survive as a state.

***

HAIL PUTLER!

Given this impressive record over the past year, and especially the past few months, I am going to start toning down my criticism of Putin.

Indeed, while Putin’s approval rating has fallen to 60% from 80% because normies were sad over losing a few of their gibsmedats, my personal approval of him has crept up from 50%-60% during 2015-2018 back to a solid 70-75%.

True, much remains to be done for Russia to truly become a national state. In my world, all the ethnic republics and oblasts will be replaced with gubernias; all the Lenin statues will be toppled, all the Lenin and Soviet streets renamed; there will be open borders (or no borders) between Russia, Belorussia, and the Ukraine; and it will be the judges and prosecutors who imprisoned people on 282 who will themselves be sitting in Arctic penal colonies.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day.

For now, I am once again ready to serve as “ein strammer Putin-soldat.” Hail Putler!

***

* By PUTLER!, for those very slow people unable or unwilling to catch irony, I mean in the sense that svidomy Ukrainians imagine Putin – not a literal Russian Hitler.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Nationalism, Politics, Russia, Vladimir Putin 
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Now here’s the problem: Carbon taxes are extremely regressive. Furthermore, they hit hardest precisely those groups – the rural and small town blue-collars of the US – who have been hit hardest by economic globalization, which massively benefited the transnational oligarchy and the developing world but left the Fishtowns behind in a haze of deindustrialization and opioid addiction.

Consequently, it may well be politically necessary to adopt at least some of the left-wing proposals – universal healthcare, guaranteed jobs, basic income – in AOC’s Green New Deal.

Will it be economically ruinous? Probably. Expanding welfare in conjunction with basic income would blow out any budget. (I am personally more a fan of downsizing the welfare state and replacing it with basic income).

Will it actually work? Unfortunately, OAC is an atomophobe. Unfortunately, because while you can run a modern industrial economy on nuclear energy, which is both very green and extremely safe, you can’t do so on wind and solar. Their EROEI (energy return on energy invested) is low relative to hydrocarbons and nuclear, and probably plummets to unsustainable levels if the costs of energy storage are accounted for (which they’ll need if they are to also provide baseload power). Wind and solar are at best accessories to hydrocarbons/nuclear, not replacements.

(Now yes, some rich countries can go 50%+ solar/wind, but at that point they are still going to need energy subsidies from the rest of the world to build and maintain that green infrastructure. In other words, they will be “green” in name only. But on the plus side, they get to virtue signal about it).

Still, at least OAC seems to be earnest about helping the working class – unlike Macron, who raised fuel taxes to combat greenhouse emissions while at the same time ordering massive denuclearization. This would dismantle perhaps the world’s one clearest green energy success story. Now to some extent, I actually sympathize with Macron: The neoliberal reforms he is pushing are ultimately necessary – under its high-tax economic regime, France is inexorably bleeding its best, brightest, and richest, as fellow UR columnist Guillaume Durocher would confirm. However, raising fuel prices while shutting down nuclear proves that he’s just catering to atomophobic SWPL sensibilities as opposed to doing what is best for his country.

Anyhow, this is the problem with the well-educated, genteel liberal “realists” who Care Deeply about global warming and want to deal with it using market solutions but vigorously protest tying it to any “socialist” elements. They tend to be SWPL urbanites with high incomes who are essentially looking to take $1,000’s from Trump’s “deplorables” without any attempt to recompense them. This is class war by any other name. It might work in countries like Switzerland where almost everyone is SWPL anyway, but I daresay that in the US it will create an American analogue of the yellow vests and an even bigger populist “fuck you” than in 2016.

That said, I need to emphasize that I am not really making any policy proposals here. (In reality, I am unironically pro-AGW, if for rather self-interested reasons).

Moreover, on second thought, the neoliberal solution to climate change may well work. As all handshakeworthy people know, the yellow vests are funded by the Kremlin. Any American analogues will also be Kremlin funded. Russia bad. There’s also the problem that “right-wing intellectual” is basically a contradiction in terms. Their “arguments” on this issue, at least in the US, boil down to global warming is a Chinese scam what about Mann’s hockey stick Al Gore invented the Internet lulz herp derp. With enemies who can seemingly do nothing more than sputter in inchoate rage, perhaps neoliberalism.txt has nothing to fear.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Class Warfare, Climate Change, Neoliberalism, Taxes 
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A German writes about Russians in the NYT:

A couple of months ago Volodya tried — luckily, he failed — to insert a crony as head of Interpol, the international police organization, presumably so he could turn it into his personal posse. Of course he did. Corruption is in Russia’s DNA, as it is in Mr. Putin’s.

Now it’s not that he is necessarily wrong. There is surely some genetic component to corruption proclivities, and it is certainly plausible that it is significantly higher in Russia (or Italy) than in North-West Europe.

But what is hilarious is that this comes from the employer of Amy Harmon, who has played a central role in hounding James Watson out of what remained of his academic standing.

This is a pattern, not an exception. Ex-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper – despite his own perjury record – thought nothing of saying that Russians are “almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique” in a meeting with NBC journalists. One wonders how long somebody who said anything remotely similar about Jews would last in his job (actually we don’t have to wonder at all).

Russians might just be the only ethnic group denied Blank Slate protections in the modern West.

 
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From a Twitter summary by @PyotrNemets of Xi Jinping’s The Governance of China [download].

Now while I realize such official tracts are most often just mainstream political pablum in any country, I think highlighting 19th century Russian literature – and this selection isn’t exactly very congruent with official Chinese ideology – is quite telling.

His admiration for Putin has also long seemed to me to be laid on too thick to be entirely, or even substantially, artificial.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Bilateral Relations, China, Russia, Xi Jinping 
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So I finally have all the books I own in one physical location. There’s ~100 of them. My stock of physical books actually peaked in the mid-2000s, at ~500, before I left Britain for the US. The appearance of e-books and transportation costs-forced elimination of my more r-selected books has steadily whittled down that number, and it probably reached its trough around 2016. Since then, they have started creeping upwards again, and will probably continue to do – though at a low rate, since I only really buy high quality books or books that get signed by authors I respect. Meanwhile, the size of my ebook collection on Calibre currently stands at exactly 1,522 (most of them pirated from Genesis Library) and jumps up by 100-200 books with every year.

Anyhow, here’s my most “powerful” bookshelf:

In case you’re wondering – yes, the Arthur Jensen/Indian cookbook pairing is there on purpose.

***

This might also be a good place to plug one of the best Twitter threads of The Previous Year. Bookshelf aesthetics matter.

 
• Tags: Books, Humor, The AK 
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I just made my debut on Strategic Culture foundation with an article on US suspension of the INF Treaty.

Here is what it boils down to, IMO:

However, it is with respect to the balance of power in the West Pacific that the restrictions imposed by the INF on the US – but not on China – come into play. While consensus expert opinion holds that the US still retains dominance in the South China Sea vis-à-vis China, its margin of superiority is shrinking year by year. In a 2015 report, the RAND Corporation estimated that the number of US air wings required to defeat a surge of attacking Chinese aircraft over Taiwan increased from just a couple in 1996 to 30 by 2017. In a subsequent report released in the following year, we see the balance of power in potential China-US conflict scenarios shift from a terminal Chinese disadvantage in 1996, to parity over Taiwan by 2017 (though they believe that the US still holds a decisive advantage in a conflict over the Spratly Islands). Even so, it is especially notable that the only two categories in a conflict over Taiwan in which RAND now considers China to hold an advantage – “Chinese attacks on air bases” and “Chinese anti-surface warfare” – are both spheres in which intermediate-range ballistic missiles would play an important role. This is not just my supposition. In another 2016 RAND report, tellingly titled “War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable”, this consideration is stated openly and forthrightly: “US land-based missiles from 500 km to 5,500 km are prohibited by the INF treaty, whereas the Chinese missiles are not, giving China a significant advantage.”

Between blogging here (which takes absolute priority relative to any other venues), getting serious about writing a book, and my research job, I don’t expect to have time for regular contributions. But you can expect to see my Russia-related stuff appear there from time to time. I’ll be sure to link to it from here whenever that happens.

 
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Without going into any precise numbers, my feeling is that Kamala Harris will win the Dem nomination, Trump will be impeached (but not convicted), and Harris will win the 2020 elections.

Too many scandals (fair and fake) will be weighing Trump down, he’ll lose Florida thanks to felons getting the vote, and the advantages of incumbency will be annulled by the coming recession.

Biden is too white and too creepy. Sanders is too white, too old, and too socialist.

Although Tulsi Gabbard will be the preferred choice of most of the anti-imperialist left and surprising numbers of the Alt Right, the coordinated media hysteria against her will be too much for her to handle. PredictIt doesn’t even bother including her in their 2020 Dem nominees pool.

Harris will undo what little Trump managed to do for his downtrodden white constituents – his main enduring legacy will be his judicial appointments. She will undo all that and relaunch Obama’s race war. The Europeans will enthusiastically sidle up to her after their extended Trump nightmare. Since the Dems will be howling for Russian blood at this point, we can expect to see more secondary sanctions from the US from 2020-21 and Russia’s possible designation as a state sponsor of terror. The Europeans may not join in but nor will they try to alleviate them as they have spoken of doing (but only spoken) for Iran.

There’s reason to believe that the trade war with China will outlast Trump. Plenty of Dems favor a hardline approach, and in any case this might be a necessary olive branch to white blue-collars as the US embarks on radical social reconstruction in the 2020s. This is helped along by the fact that the US will have allies in German industrialists, who are tired of Chinese industrial espionage. We can expect this to drive Russia and China even closer together.

That said, consider the following what if. Let’s suppose Tulsi Gabbard actually won, somehow.

Now I would think that it’s pretty obvious that if Trump – on the outer fringes of Russophilia by American elite standards – was railroaded into conducting an anti-Russian foreign policy by the deep state, then Gabbard will be even more of a walkover in this respect. Indeed, as commenter E. Harding points out, Gabbard actually voted in support of arming the Ukraine under Obama. Consequently, there’s good reason to believe she’ll be happy to be hardline if it takes the heat off the Russiagate mania, which will certainly continue should she become President.

Who didn’t vote for arming the Ukraine? Beto O’Rourke, interestingly enough. He was one of only two Democrats to do so. As E. Harding keeps explaining, O’Rourke has a surprisingly strong anti-interventionist record for someone both I and I imagine many others have previously considered to be yet another anodyne Democrat, whose only difference from neocons is that they call their adventures humanitarian interventions instead of regime change.

And unlike Gabbard, O’Rourke actually has a chance: 8% to Harris’ 16% of taking the Presidency on PredictIt. Assuming, at least, that the media don’t start digging into his voting record.

Anyhow, while Trump has taught us that individuals can’t change the flow of history, which is barreling towards a full-fledged New Cold War, if any one person can still avert it, it might be O’Rourke of all people. LOL.

Conversely, Gabbard might well be a poisoned chalice, like Trump.

But let’s be real. It will be Kamala Harris. At this point the very metaphysical threads of the universe are driving us towards that timeline. There can be no other.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: United States, US Elections 2020 
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Commenter Swedish Family on BHL and Houellebecq on Russia:


Seeing Bernard-Henri Lévy’s name here made me dig out an old book of his, Public Enemies, a book of Lévy’s mail correspondence with novelist Michel Houellebecq in the spring of 2008 (so after Putin’s Munich speech but half a year before Lehman Brothers and the war in Georgia). It’s fascnating to see violently anti-Putin Lévy was already back then. I’ll come to his tirade in a moment, but let’s first have a look at Houellebecq’s warm feelings for Moscow.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of finding myself in Moscow with Frédéric Beigbeder (by accident; we were there for different reasons and didn’t plan to meet up). Twice we did sets as DJs in nightclubs full of the sumptuous blondes popularized by current affairs magazines. Twice Frédéric and I noticed the same thing: young Russians adore the Beatles, they react to their music immediately, they like it (whereas I’m sure they didn’t know the music before, they only discovered western music in the 1980s through groups like U2 and A-Ha). And not only do they like the Beatles, they like early Beatles, songs like “Ticket to Ride” and “Love Me Do.” The music, made eternal by their genius, their enthusiasm, their joie de vivre; the music of youth, of heading off on holiday (the music of economic growth, of full employment).

Back in France, the magazines ran headlines about a new idea: economic decline. A very different atmosphere, obviously.

The worst thing is, the ecologists are right. Of course, none of the problems facing humanity can be tackled without stabilizing the world population, without stabilizing energy consumption, without intelligently managing nonrenewable resources, without tackling climate change.

And yet coming back to Western Europe I felt like I was coming back to the dead. Of course, life is hard, very hard in Russia, it is a violent life, but they live, they are filled with a desire to live that we have lost. And I wished I were young and Russian and, ecologically speaking, irresponsible.

I also felt I needed idealism (a rarer commodity, I admit, in contemporary Russia). I wished I were part of a time when our heroes were Yuri Gagarin and the Beatles; when Louis de Funès made everyone in France laugh; when Jean Ferrat was adapting Aragon.

Here is Lévy’s reply to Houellebecq. I find this passage very revealing of what drives people like Lévy. Note, again, that this is written in the spring of 2008 (March 12), so at this point, Russia has basically been playing nice in the face of aggressive Western expansion. Yet …

Unlike you, I have absolutely no desire to be Russian or to return to Russia.

I used to love a certain idea of Russia.

I loved and defended this idea of Russian culture, which in the 1970s and ’80s conjured up a whole hodgepodge, Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov, the Slavophiles and Europhiles, the disciples of Pushkin and those of Dostoyevsky, the dissidents on the right and the left and those who, in the words of the mathematician Leonid Plyushch,* belonged to neither of these camps but to the concentration camp and whose defense I was taking up while my father, in the episode I told you about, was signing (or rather, was not signing, deciding not to sign) his contracts with Gosplan’s† wood branch.

Then there’s what Russia has become, what appeared when the breakdown of communism, its debacle—what a mountaineer like your father would call its “thaw” or “collapsing ice” (the real meaning of debacle)—revealed to it and the world the Russia of Putin, of the war in Chechnya, the Russia that assassinated Anna Politkovskaya* on the stairway in her building and that the same Anna Politkovskaya described in her wonderful book A Russian Diary, just before she was assassinated. It’s the Russia of the racist packs who, right in the center of Moscow, track down “nonethnic” Russians, the Russia that chased out the Chinese at Irkutsk, the Dagestanis at Rostov, the same Russia that persecutes those it called the Chernye, meaning the “swarthy” ones, the Russia that has the nerve to explain to the world that it has nothing to do with democracy and human rights since it has its own democracy, a special, local democracy that is quite unrelated to Western canons and rights. It’s the country of such specialties as its party, the Nashi, meaning “our own,” which, to call a spade a spade, is a Stalin-Hitler combo, the Russia that, incidentally, is giving new life to the anti-Semitic European pamphlets of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the same Russia that made a best seller out of a stupid List of Masked Jews, which lumps together Sakharov, Trotsky, de Gaulle, Sarkozy, and Yulia Tymoshenko, the mastermind behind the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine. It’s the Russia that—since you mentioned music—put on the cover of one of its popular magazines the singer Irina Allegrova dressed up as an SS camp guard, holding a ferocious hound on a lead. This Russia, which, apart from this kind of idiocy, believes in nothing at all, absolutely nothing, just the religion of the marketplace, consumption and brands. This Russia, which, the last time I went there, struck me as having had its culture erased and its brain washed, this Russia, whose most discouraging side, according to Anna Politkovskaya, to mention her yet again, was its amorphousness and passivity, the way it accepts, for example, that it hardly has any employment legislation left and that its workers are treated like dogs, the same Russia that leaves the nightclubs where you went to have a laugh and dance with Frédéric [Beigbeder] to rot in a terrifying poverty. In this Russia, no less than under communism, people are ready to betray their parents to steal a broom, a bowl, a badly screwed tap, or—as in Brecht’s Messingkauf Dialogues—bits of scrap iron at night from deserted building sites abandoned by oligarchs on the run or in prison … Not only does this Russia inspire no desire in me, it fills me with horror. I’d go so far as to say that it frightens me because I see in it a possible destiny for the late-capitalist societies. Once upon a time, during your postwar “glory days,” the middle class was terrorized by being told that Brezhnev’s communism was not an archaism restricted to distant societies but rather a picture of our own future. We were wrong: it was not communism but postcommunism, Putinism, that may be the testing ground for our future.

 
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

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

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

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