I Know You Are, But What Am I?

Uncle Volodya sings, “Do the Wall Street Shuffle…dum dum DUM…Hear the money rustle…dum dum DUM..”

The Russian Flag, still free of corporate logos

In a fairly predictable return to what the junkies of jurisprudence term the “I’m rubber and you’re glue” defense, La Russophobe channels Tatyana Vorozheykina, a professor at the Moscow Higher School of Social and Economic Sciences. By “channeling”, I mean “copying and pasting what she is alleged to have said by someone else”. The link in the La Russophobe article takes you here, which suggests it was translated from the Russian, but in fact it came from here (even has the same spelling error). In any event, what was said was “Russia Today Lacks A State In The Usual Sense”. Never one to settle for bad when she can invent worse, and always happy to translate from English to Other English, La Russophobe interprets this to mean, “Russia Is Not A Country”. A bit of a leap, but we’ll look at that later.

Those familiar with the aforementioned “I’m rubber and you’re glue” technique know that it consists of slagging someone else for behaviors and practices for which you are yourself a known bad example. Anything they say in their own defense, theoretically, “bounces off you and sticks to them”. Let’s look at this a little closer.

According to Vorozheykina and – by way of faithful repetition – according to La Russophobe, Russia is “in fact a private corporation for the servicing of the private interests of a narrow group of people.” And what is more, Vorozheykina says, “everyone knows these people. They come from one city, from one agency, from one dacha cooperative” – an obvious reference to the St. Petersburg mafia of Vladimir Putin.”

The best definition I could find for “country” informs us it is “a nation or state: a region, territory or large tract of land distinguishable by features of topography, biology or culture”. Sorry; Russia is, in fact, a country.

But let’s go back to Vorozheykina’s statement, enthusiastically amplified by La Russophobe, that Russia is a private corporation for the servicing of the private interests of a narrow group of people. (In another source she intones, “economic reform did not amount to transferring assets from the state to the private sector but from private hands to private hands using the state trademark”, which is as close a definition as you’re going to find of how Khodorkovsky got hold of YUKOS, but that doesn’t fit the Russophobe narrative, because they love Mikhail Khodorkovsky.) A private corporation…. let’s just run with that idea for a moment.  Try googling “Corporate State Russia”. You’ll get a few hits that mean what you’re looking for; the CATO Institute, not surprisingly, thinks Russia is a corporate state, as does Radio Free Europe. Now try googling, “Corporate States of America”. You’ll get a couple of pages of what you’re looking for, all from American sources.

A private corporation, for the servicing of the private interests of a narrow group of people. Does that really sound more like Russia to you than the United States? Consider the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in the matter of “Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Commission”. In this watershed moment, the United States Supreme Court ruled that corporations were persons, and although they remain exempt from many of the responsibilities, taxes and duties of persons, corporations are no longer limited in the amounts they can contribute to political campaigns for the purposes of influencing elections. There is as yet no proviso that limits corporations located within the United States which have significant levels of foreign ownership from contributing to the campaigns of American political candidates. Sometimes those foreigners are (gasp) Russians.

Just ruminate on that a moment. Corporations in the United States are legally permitted to buy elections. Is GAZPROM (the world’s most profitable company) legally allowed to simply flood Russia with money in favour of the candidate they think will do them the most good, whether or not it’s good for the country? No, they’re not.  They may do it, but it’s not legal, and in theory they would be punished for it if it were exposed.

The Corporate States of America. A bold new land, “one where every politician is completely bought and paid for by corporate interests.”  A no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is cartwheeling juggernaut of free enterprise where “commercial interests are sacred and individual interests are subservient to the corporation interests.” Sound good?

At least when something policy-related displeases you, you can stop saying, “Where the hell am I? Russia?”

The thing about holding yourself up as an example of virtue to which all should aspire, the fabled “shining city on a hill”, is that it encourages everyone to take a long look at what kind of example you really are. In this case, humility would have been the way to go.

This entry was posted in La Russophobe, Russia, Uncategorized, Vladimir Putin and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to I Know You Are, But What Am I?

  1. Thanks for an interesting post – somehow, the implications of the US Supreme Court decision did not register with me properly when I read about it in February/March.

    • Mark says:

      Hey, Alex; I suspect it was that way for many. A good progressive news site for U.S.-based politics is the Washington Monthly, with Steve Benen. He’s quite politically sharp himself, if a bit formulaic sometimes, but he also features commentary from luminaries of American political blogging such as Glenn Greenwald and Kevin Drum. You can find him at


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