It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know: Deconstructing William Browder

Uncle Volodya says, "I'm happy to announce the merger of Surgutneftegaz, Kirillov Technologies and Bilibino Labs. The new company will be called SUK IT BILL"

Fanatics are an evil breed
Whom decent men should shun;
I’d like to flog them till they bleed,
Yes, every mother’s son,
I’d like to tie them to a board
And let them taste the cat,
While giving praise, oh thank the Lord,
That I am not like that.

Sing it loud, Roger Woddis. That passage, from “Down With Fanatics” kicks off our closer look at a perennial thorn in Russia’s side – William “Bill” Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management. For those just joining us, Kovane did an excellent post on Mr. Browder and his hedge-fund company earlier. But Mr. Browder appears to love attention, so I’m happy to oblige. Besides, he’s been in the news a good deal of late, flitting about from America  to Europe agitating against Russia, stumping for the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act (which would bar entry to supportive countries for those Russians suspected to have been complicit in his death, as well as entry by their spouses and children and – in some cases – freeze their assets in the subject country), and generally trying to discourage any foreign investment in Russia by anyone.

Mr. Browder, an investment banker by profession, started Hermitage Capital Management in 1996 with $25 Million in seed money from his benefactor. For the fiscal year ending 1997/1998 it was awarded best-performing fund in the world by Micropal and best Russian fund by Lipper, won its CEO the 2004 Industry Achievement Award by Global Investment Analysis, and at its peak controlled assets in excess of $4 Billion. For anyone who likes making money – and who doesn’t? – it was a success story of staggering proportions. But, inexplicably, in November 2005 he was refused entry to Russia upon landing at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, allegedly for being a threat to national security, and sent packing. He has not returned to Russia since. As the Army lawyer says in “A Few Good Men”, these are the facts, and they are not in dispute.

A great deal that Mr. Browder has said since his dismissal from Russia is in dispute, however, although you’d never know if you only read the western press. As usual, a willingness to satisfy the wishes of a very rich man, an interest in promoting a negative view of Russia and a general disinterest on the part of the media in following things up result in the narrative reflecting pretty much whatever Mr. Browder tells them is true. Is it? That’s what we’re going to take a look at today.

Russia, early 1990’s. Turbulent, chaotic. President Yeltsin, famously perched atop a tank,  seizes power from the “Gang of 8” conspirators. What is less well-known is that immediately upon the conspirators’ declaring themselves the interim government (a rule that lasts 3 days), the KGB commences 157 criminal investigations into economic crimes, citing “concealment of superprofits” and “connections with criminal groups”. Fully two-thirds of these cases involve foreign firms in joint ventures. Yeltsin’s assumption of power effectively torpedoes those investigations, which must have inspired a great sigh of relief. President Yeltsin’s  first round of privatizations results in the issue of vouchers to all Russian citizens that will buy the bearer about 10,000 rubles worth of shares in selected state enterprises. Within months, most such vouchers have been purchased through intermediaries for cash, and are concentrated in the hands of a few emerging power brokers. The rise of the oligarchs has begun; as the reporters for Fortune Magazine put it colourfully at the time, “if the notion of billions of barrels of proven oil reserves and billions of tons of gold fills your dreams with visions of red-hot cash flow and ice-cold vodka, then Boris Yeltsin just might find some work for you. ”

Russia, 1996. Still turbulent, chaotic. Boris Yeltsin is going into a re-election campaign with popularity ratings of less than 5%. Couldn’t get elected lifeguard in a car wash, you’d expect, right? Wrong. Yeltsin and faithful sidekick Anatoly Chubais recruit a dream team of oligarchs in the media business and banking who owe their wealth to connections with his administration, to finance Yeltsin’s campaign while ensuring Yeltsin’s message is the one in everyone’s ear. Just as a side note, monopolization of advertising time by the evil forces of government was the issue Boris Nemtsov later wept about when he failed to get elected mayor of Sochi; but in Yeltsin’s case, his re-election was a priority for the west, so there were no distracting reports of the government ruthlessly suppressing opposition – see how it works? When you win, the people have spoken. When you lose, the results were rigged and the people were duped. Whether the western press lets it ride, or shrieks like it’s being burned alive, depends on whether it was for you or against you. What the Russian people think about it is not a factor in either case. Obviously, Yeltsin wins.

Anyway, cut to Yeltsin’s second round of privatizations – the program, by turns spat upon and elevated as a model of free-market reform, known as “loans for shares”. As Daniel Treisman points out in his authoritative, “Blaming Russia First” for Foreign Policy Magazine, many analysts, authors and editorialists who are otherwise bright and perceptive have a blind spot about the loans-for-shares program, suggesting it enabled the incomprehensibly-rich-overnight oligarchs.  While it’s accurate that the program placed tranches of shares in state-owned enterprises with selected businessmen in exchange for loans, and later allowed these businessmen to sell these shares to themselves at fire-sale prices, it was collusion and engineering by the already-powerful oligarchs themselves that resulted in the auctions.

New York, 1996. Ramzi Yousef goes on trial for the World Trade Center bombing 3 years previously, and for fomenting a plot to blow up American airliners. National Police Week kicks off with a candlelight vigil to honour fallen officers, attended by 10,000 police officers and family members and featuring a speech by mayor Rudy Giuliani. A story by Robert Friedman appears in New York Magazine – entitled, “The Money Plane“, it relates a startling account of regular deliveries of crisp new $100.00 bills flown by the planeload from JFK International Airport nonstop to Moscow, five nights a week, where the money allegedly becomes part of the Russian mob’s vast international crime syndicate in a money-laundering operation of mind-boggling proportions. According to Mr. Friedman, principals in this operation – aside from its eventual recipients – are the National Republic Bank of New York and the United States Federal Reserve. Rarely less than $100 Million – allegedly – and sometimes more than $1 Billion, these regular-as-clockwork infusions of laundered moola are said to total more than $40 Billion since 1994, over two of the most Dante-esque and tormented years in Russia’s history. Put in perspective, that amount far exceeds the value of all rubles in circulation at the time.

Exasperated officials at the Federal Comptroller of the Currency Office as well as a Federal money-laundering task force expressed their opinion that what both the U.S. Federal Reserve and National Republic Bank were doing was unethical and directly contributed to the burgeoning power of organized crime. But according to money-laundering laws, banks are obligated only to not knowingly do business with criminals or their agents. The Federal Reserve claimed it was not their responsibility to know who National Republic’s clients were, and National Republic suggested anytime anybody could prove their clients were criminals, they would stop. Considering the money disappeared into the network of incredibly corrupt Russian banks – many of which were owned outright by criminals – that seemed unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, both the Federal Reserve and National Republic made millions on the shipments of cash.

Boy, howdy; if anyone can come up with a system that shouts “win/win” like that does, I’d surely like to see it. Russia struggles with corruption and crime, while the west feeds a steady flow of laundered cash to its organized crime element, simultaneously hammering on Russia for not getting with the rule of law, and pocketing a tidy profit.

National Republic’s owner was billionaire Lebanese investment banker Edmond Safra. But National Republic was not his first acquaintance with allegations of money-laundering and questionable banking practices; oh, no. Prior to that, in the mid 1980’s, Safra’s Trade Development Bank was implicated in operations to circumvent U.S. money-laundering laws in support of Oliver North’s (and President Reagan’s, although he was happy to let Mr. North take most of the credit) Iran-Contra operation.

Moscow, 1996. Hermitage Capital Management, a hedge fund wealth-management firm, opens its doors for business under the leadership of CEO William “Bill” Browder. Hermitage gets off the ground thanks to $25 Million in seed money, courtesy of….Edmond Safra.

Just before we consign Mr. Safra to the Ancient History bin, another side note. William Browder worked for him, and could not have failed to observe his principles appeared to have been cast in Jell-o where Making More Money was concerned. Mr. Safra died in a fire under circumstances that were, at best,  difficult to explain.  Before working for Mr. Safra, Mr. Browder worked for Robert Maxwell, also known as “The Bouncing Czech”. Mr. Maxwell subsequently drowned off the Canary Islands (named, incidentally, for dogs rather than canaries: Insula Canaria, Island of Dogs). After his death (naturally), it was discovered by British regulators that Maxwell had stolen more than three-quarters of a Billion dollars from the pension funds of Mirror Group. While neither of these deaths rises to suggestion that Browder stole the money himself and killed them both or had them killed – in fact, the idea is faintly ridiculous – one cannot help but notice that he was neck-deep in unscrupulous examples during his developmental years in business, although he naturally affects to have noticed nothing untoward. The man legendary for missing nothing – for seeing emerging opportunity before even other professional opportunity-watchers – was oblivious to the fact that his mentors were wealthy crooks.

Mr. Browder, in Russia. Although he likes to paint himself as an “activist investor” and journalists are happy to go along with it, that’s not quite true. He says he agitates for Russian companies to adopt western-style governance – which would only be good for them in the long run, right? – but he only does that with companies he is targeting for destabilization. If he were really an activist, he’d lobby the government to adopt western-style governance for all businesses. No evidence suggests he did that, and his methods – lawsuits, probing for whistleblowers, starting whisper campaigns in the western and financial presses – were all hostile-takeover body blows geared toward destabilizing the company.

Why would he do that? God; considering how I hate economics, it’s amazing how often this blog forces me to talk about it.  When you attack a firm’s credibility, and everybody except that country’s government is happy to join you in the pile-on, the value of that company’s shares starts to slide. When the government finally steps in to clean up the mess and shore up the company before it collapses, the price of those shares takes a leap upward. If you’re invested in the company when that transition occurs – which Mr. Browder always was, since that’s the effect he sought to inspire – you pocket the difference. Once that company straightens up, it might pay fairly nice, stable dividends: but that big upward reversal only happens once. If your timing is perfect – as it’s much more likely to be if you are the one engineering it – you can clean up. If the company you’re targeting is already undervalued, so much the better – half your work is already done.

Let’s look at it another way; are you familiar with the proportionality principle? If not, don’t feel bad, I wasn’t either. But it only makes sense – your control in a given company as a shareholder should be in proportion to your degree of risk and exposure. Nobody who’s in  business to make a profit wants a bunch of know-nothing nutjobs buying a couple of shares in the company, showing up at shareholder meetings and voting to take the company in a direction that might doom it to collapse, such as occurred with Exxon-Mobil in 2000 when environmentalists and religious leaders joined forces to push the company to recognize and acknowledge global warming and dedicate significant investment to alternative energy. Whatever you believe about global warming, if you were arguing from a profitability standpoint, alternative energy was not even in the same league as petro-based energy, and still isn’t. The company fought it, because they want to profit, and bemoaned the interference of tree-huggers who just hate big business. Minority shareholders carry minimal risk, and – according to company executives – have minimal knowledge about what the company is trying to achieve, which is to harvest maximum profits for minimum outlay. Looking at the report prepared by Shearman & Sterling for the European Union, Report on the Proportionality Principle in the European Union, we see that deviation from the proportionality principle is undesirable, as it contributes to instability in the company. Disproportionate power in the hands of minority shareholders who incur little risk is one of the Control Enhancing Mechanisms (CEM) and, to borrow from the report, “The structure of share ownership may have an important impact on a company’s behaviour and performance, and also on investors…proportionality between ultimate economic risk and control means that share capital which has an unlimited right to participate in the profits of the company or in the residue on liquidation, and only such share capital, should normally carry control rights, in proportion to the risk carried. The holders of these rights to the residual profits and assets of the company are best equipped to decide on the affairs of the company as the ultimate effects of their decisions will be borne by them…some of these CEMs are used to allow existing blockholders to enhance control by leveraging voting power…”

Clearer now? By agitating for more power for minority shareholders – in which he was included – Mr. Browder was agitating for greater power over the company. By fighting for the latitude to allow existing blockholders to enhance control by leveraging voting power, he was merely repeating techniques he learned from the example of money-launderers and swindlers, and from practical experience such as the control of large blocks of shares purchased from ordinary people who didn’t understand their relevance and didn’t want to learn – as he did in the voucher program during Yeltsin’s first wave of privatizations, before he ever came to Russia to live. Bang the company around through lawsuits by shell companies you control, upsetting the voting proportionality among shareholders and whisper campaigns about its insolvency and corruption until it stumbles, then pressure the government to do something. In Russia, “do something” often consists of throwing a pile of money at it to prevent its collapse. Company stock soars, money flows into agitator’s pockets. Almost as easy as stealing, right? Apparently, that was pretty much the Russian government’s take on it as well.

However,  Mr. Browder overstepped when he began to mess with GAZPROM. The jewel in Russia’s crown, GAZPROM’s health and competitiveness are vital to Russia’s development owing to high energy prices, and are as such matters of national security. Count me among the group of those not surprised by Mr. Browder’s persona non grata status. Prosecutors charge Magnitsky participated in a scheme to acquire – through Browder front companies in Kalmykia such as Dalny Steppe and Saturn Investments – extra shares in gas companies like Surgutneftegaz, Rosneft and GAZPROM, at the residential tax rate of 5.5% rather than the 35% foreigners have to pay.

Which brings us to Mr. Browder, back in the west. Agitating constantly against Russia from every standpoint – business, politics, you name it. Urging people who may or may not know better to stay away from capital markets such as those which allowed Hermitage’s largest competitor in Russia, Rennaissance Capital, to post results similar to those which won Mr. Browder such acclaim as a wealth manager. And riding the spirit of dead tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky to diplomatic piety heaven. “Let’s do it for Sergei” is Mr. Browder’s mantra as he jets around the west drumming up support for the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act”. Poor Mr. Magnitsky has assumed a global stature out of all proportion to his previous footprint with the company he worked for – which was not actually Hermitage Capital Management at all, but Firestone Duncan, Hermitage’s tax accountants and auditors. The latter’s effusive grief looks a little misplaced, considering they couldn’t even spell his name right when they announced his death.

Let’s put this in perspective. A list of the most evil people in history from a western viewpoint would inarguably include Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Kim Jong-il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad barred from visiting the United States? Not that I’m aware of; he visited without opposition in 2005. How does the USA deal with Kim Jong-il? More than $1 Billion in Foreign Aid. Adolph Hitler? George W. Bush’s grandfather did business with the architects of his regime right up until his business assets were seized under the Trading With the Enemy Act. Joseph Stalin? As we’ve discussed before, President Roosevelt hoped the American relationship with Stalin would survive the war, and was instrumental in granting the disputed Kurile Island chain to the Soviet Union as a measure to keep Japan docile and pacified.

And yet. A large number of Russian officials from the Interior Ministry, the FSB, the Federal Tax Service, Arbitration Courts, Prison Service and Prosecutor’s Office who all allegedly contributed to Mr. Magnitsky’s death are banned for life. Not just them, but their spouses and children. Since some people associated with the United States Government don’t even know Africa is a continent, while at least one who is a co-sponsor of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act doesn’t know the difference betweeen Somalia and the Sudan and thought Iraq and Pakistan had a common border, I think it seems safe to assume the names on the list involved Mr. Browder’s input. What’s this act going to look like to historians in 100 years? Will they shake their heads and say, what the fuck? Transparency International posthumously bestowed an award on Mr. Magnitsky, for inspiring others by fighting corruption, while he stands accused of enabling it by his own government. I suppose the western view of him as St George slaying the dragon of corruption is only to be expected, since it supposedly took some 60 people to kill him. I wonder what the American reaction might be to Russia publicly expressing an opinion that Ken Lay was innocent. Oh, wait; scratch that – it’s not a very good example, because the U.S. government didn’t think he did anything wrong, either, and was noticeably reluctant to charge him.

It’s probably a coincidence that officials of the Interior Ministry who are banned likely had far more to do with revoking Mr. Browder’s Russian business visa than with any connection to Mr. Magnitsky’s death. Speaking of Mr. Browder’s visa, Kovane asked rhetorically in his post; if revoking Mr. Browder’s visa was such an outrage to him, why’d he wait 3 months before he said anything about it? That’s an easy one, because – in a rare moment of candor – Mr. Browder answered it himself. “From a business perspective it was very detrimental because all of my clients said, ‘Why should we give you money to manage in Russia if you can’t get into the country?’ and they withdrew their money from the fund.”

And let’s dispense with the notion that Sergei Magnitsky was a lawyer, how about? Browder’s descriptions refer with metronomic regularity to Magnitsky as a lawyerlawyerlawyer, the press helpfully repeats it and one British reporter cracked the sycophancy barrier when he described Magnitsky as “Russia’s smartest tax lawyer”. Sergei Magnitsky graduated from university as an accountant; there’s no record I could find – after a detailed search – of Sergei Magnitsky passing the Russian Federation bar exam, and his work record for Firestone Duncan lists him as an auditor.  As best I can ascertain, Sergei Magnitsky was an accountant, and was so employed. Why the deception? A lawyer can cite attorney-client privilege to legally avoid giving testimony or answering certain questions – an accountant cannot, as some blogs with a marvelously developed nose for deception have noted. This seems formulated to cater to a western appetite, as Russian investigators would certainly not be fooled by Magnitsky simply declaring himself a lawyer if he was not. It might, however, support a narrative that Magnitsky was forced to answer questions that he had no legal obligation to answer – which might come in handy for discrediting the Russian investigation, considering he can never answer any now.

Life imitates art – like the critic of fanatics in the opening passage, Mr. Browder pretends to virtue, such as when evidencing complete bafflement on why his visa was refused: “The answer is, we just don’t know. You can take five highly placed, well connected individuals in Russia, who know everything and everyone, and you’ll get five different emphatic answers about who was responsible for my visa being taken away. It could be that they all got together in a room and said that “Let’s just take Browder’s visa away so he can’t come to Russia anymore”, I don’t know. ” Uh huh.  Where’s my homework? Sorry, the dog ate it.

Look at the bright side, Mr. Browder- if you’re such a crook that you actually got kicked out of Russia for being a crook, you can probably drink free on that one in clubs where businessmen hang out for the rest of your life.

Note: As well as my usual thanks to Kovane and Yalensis for their assistance with Russian research, I am indebted to the authors of “Twelfth Bough” and “Suspicious Deaths” for allowing me to borrow from their efforts. You can find considerably more on Magnitsky’s death and Mr. Browder’s choirboy musings at these sites.

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205 Responses to It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know: Deconstructing William Browder

  1. kovane says:

    Excellent round-up, Mark, as usual. I wouldn’t call providing a couple of links that much of a help, but thanks for mentioning anyway.

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks, kovane, and don’t sell yourself short. It’s more than a couple of links, and even if it were only that, dodging Putin’s goons in your bathrobe adds an extra dimension.

  2. cartman says:

    I had never heard of the deaths of his associates. That is the kind of intrigue that should be told in media stories, rather than reprints of roughly the same articles hundreds of times.

    Look at the budding Russia-intrigue watcher/journo:
    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2011/08/russia-august-putsch.html
    This article is weak and yours is much more interesting.

    I was aware of Browder’s Communist history. Since it turns out that bankers really are a violent mafia – that is not surprising – I am a bit unnerved that there are a lot of Commie bankers with the ear of the United States Congress.

    • marknesop says:

      I’m afraid all you will find in the English-speaking media is reprints of roughly the same articles hundreds of times, because Browder is all about spin and relentless hammering on the same points until they become conventional wisdom. Many sources in the English-speaking media want you to listen, not think.

      We’ll probably have a couple of years of relative breathing space, because the west will be too busy sorting out its own shit economy to do much more than hurl insults at countries it doesn’t like.

      Julia Ioffe is an OK writer, but her sole purpose for being in Russia is to write cynical abuse about it, and as you can see, she will not shrink from making things up to cause it to appear worse than it is. Another explanation is that she truly sees it as a crumbling hellhole, in which case she should move back to New York – she is, after all, an American, and America does not need someone on the scene to write abuse about Russia; Anne Applebaum does it all the time from either the USA or Poland. And Julia could be just as accurate if she were simply making it up. Vadim Nitikin wrote a similar piece earlier at Foreign Policy Blog, alluding to August as the month when Russians most wish they lived someplace peaceful and affluent like America. Or maybe he was writing about summer in general; I forget, it was a pretty forgettable article.

      • Foppe says:

        Given that most of your blog posts are in large part about calling out double standards, as well as the oft-practiced, but rather dubious approach towards using specifically chosen facts in order to prove certain conclusions (of the ‘russia is lost’ variety), I would point out a book to you, which is in large part written to combat the same tendencies. Namely, David Harvey’s 2009 book Cosmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom.
        To quote the blurb, which is for a change fairly accurate:

        Liberty and freedom are frequently invoked to justify political action. Presidents as diverse as Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush have built their policies on some version of these noble values. Yet in practice, idealist agendas often turn sour as they confront specific circumstances on the ground. Demonstrated by incidents at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, the pursuit of liberty and freedom can lead to violence and repression, undermining our trust in universal theories of liberalism, neoliberalism, and cosmopolitanism. Combining his passions for politics and geography, David Harvey charts a cosmopolitan order more appropriate to an emancipatory form of global governance. Political agendas tend to fail, he argues, because they ignore the complexities of geography. Incorporating geographical knowledge into the formation of social and political policy is therefore a necessary condition for genuine democracy. Harvey begins with an insightful critique of the political uses of freedom and liberty, especially during the George W. Bush administration. Then, through an ontological investigation into geography’s foundational concepts — space, place, and environment — he radically reframes geographical knowledge as a basis for social theory and political action. As Harvey makes clear, the cosmopolitanism that emerges is rooted in human experience rather than illusory ideals and brings us closer to achieving the liberation we seek.

        • marknesop says:

          I would certainly stipulate to western governments not knowing much about the countries they had tapped for “liberation”, but “geographical knowledge as a basis for social theory and political action” is a new concept to me, for sure. Western governments appear to rely on the instant transmission of ideas and thoughts to foment revolution, and further appear of the opinion that geography – if not in their favour – is inconsequential. I’d be interested to see what Mr. Harvey has to say about that.

          Further, the notion of global governance seems to fall apart as soon as any attempt is made to take it beyond the conceptual. “Influential” seems to be about the best we can do, and as long as significant cultural differences remain, large groups are going to see little in it for them but subordination and disenfranchisement. And they’d be right. As far as liberation goes, a frightening number of our species appears to be too lazy and incurious to be trusted with its own government. As long as there’s such a thing as human nature, as soon as you get 5 people together, 2 will be busy figuring out how they can turn the work of the other 3 to their advantage so they can work less but enjoy the same benefits. I don’t see at this point how geography could be more important than human nature, and indeed it is calculated play on human nature (implying that if you physically assist in the overthrow of your government, the new order will bring plenty of benefit for all) that gets revolutions off the ground.

          It sounds a very intriguing work; I’ll look for it.

  3. strelnikov2 says:

    For a minute there I thought you were talking about EARL Browder, head of the CPUSA from 1930-something to 1945.

    Writing about “loans-for-shares” and all of those chickenshit Oligarch scams takes me back to reading “the eXiled” in the late 1990s; if anything, how “capitalism” came to Russia showed me what a flippin’ fraud anti-communism was. Break down the gates, then pillage everything with your gang of turn-coat sleazebag locals, then get thrown out of the country when the government comes back to it’s senses, and writer article after article about why Plundered Country is a “fascist hellhole.” Screw Browder, and if there is a Hell I hope he rots in it.

    • marknesop says:

      I LOVED The eXiled; I didn’t discover it until I started blogging, but not much of their stuff from the late 90’s even looks dated now, so I guess the “Russia is collapsing” theme has been around a while. Mind you, Yeltsin almost succeeded, so I guess it wasn’t all just wishful thinking. Oddly enough, western pundits didn’t use much of that “Russia is collapsing” rhetoric while Yeltsin was feeding a select few a lot of money and feeding the rest bullshit. If I recall correctly, according to the west Yeltsin was some sort of leadership miracle who was dragging Russia kicking and screaming into modernity.

      I assembled a ton of material for this post, but it just started getting too big and I had different stuff bookmarked on every computer in the house, so I didn’t use quite a lot of it. One link I saved was some writing by Earl Browder; “Communism in the United States“. I didn’t use it, since it was already fairly obvious that Browder and his grandfather had very little in common, and Browder Sr.’s writing was fairly predictable stuff, but it did contain some interesting insights.

      Much of what Browder’s doing now seems to be just out of spite because he lost his opportunity to line his pockets while creating chaos, and the west largely indulges him because it was interested in the chaos part. If he wasn’t rich he would have given up a long time ago. He says he’s head-over-heels in love with the Middle East now, but I hope he realizes Russia actually treated him pretty well when his methods began to cross the line. There are people in the Middle East who – if angered – could make things a lot more exciting than a cancelled visa for Browder.

      • strelnikov2 says:

        I blame the “Russia is collapsing” leitmotif on the inability of Cold War cliches to die, combined with how business was conducted during the Yeltsyn “boom” years, coupled to US triumphalism and memories of post-WWII Europe and Asia. I get the real feeling that the think tankers and the business flacks thought that setting up shop in post-Soviet Russia would be like how American and British firms operated in occupied Germany in the late 1940s, that the people actually wanted to hear their free-market, “end of history” nonsense as the price controls were ended and inflation re-appeared in Russia. And when all of this market utopianism died in 1997-8 I think the “collapsing Russia” meme (which you would only get from English-language Russian blogs, “the eXile”, and occasionally in reports to “The Nation” and the venerable socialist magazine “Monthly Review”) moved from the Left to the Right, where it was used as a cudgel (“they’re all goddamned criminals, we need to take their nukes, lets seize Siberia!”) when the Russian state began to re-assert itself and kick out people like Browder and all those cocaine cowboys down at the Ruptured Duck and the other “elitny” Moscow clubs. The fact that NATO continued to exist didn’t help, or how the organization was used against the Yugoslavian rump state while countries like Poland joined up so the state aircraft factories could stop making MiGs and start making F-16s.

        If we had not been so damned cocksure that we were right, so idiotically arrogant about how Russia and the CIS states were to develop after the USSR, relations would be much better between the US and the Russian Federation, and the ex-Soviet states would have been spared a lot of misery.

  4. sinotibetan says:

    Mark,

    Thanks for your enlightening post! I learned really a lot from your very well-researched post. I am not well-endowed with this much knowledge about Russia, so I truly appreciate this post.

    One thing that intrigues me is WHY Westerners(in general) – I am not too sure about us Asians because I don’t seem to find many in my part of the world who are that interested about Russia – why do they continue to believe that Yeltsin was a true-blue democrat and was good for Russia and that Putin is definitely bad for Russia? I mean, before I found your blog and Anatoly’s, I was ‘bombarded’ by the usual anti-Russian, anti-Putin tirades in ‘mainstream’ Western media and yet I was not ‘fooled’. Did some further reading on my own – though coming nothing as close to the amount of knowledge of you folks here, I was convinced that most of these negative images are Western media spins. Your posts provide hard evidence of their negative bias but I think even without these, it is already quite apparent for any honest observer to be wary of those anti-Russian spins. I am baffled why Western media succeed in projecting their negative image of Russia.

    “As long as there’s such a thing as human nature…”
    Agree. I don’t think I need to repeat what I think about ‘human nature'(said it too often ad nauseum). I think as long as human beings(and thus human nature) exist as they are, there is no ideal political system that will work. In fact, probably no perfect, workable, ‘ideal’ political and economic system is achievable – unless one actually believe humans, and thus ‘human nature’ will ‘evolve’ into a divine-like nobility but throughout human history, civilizations are a veneer of an innate barbarity . We should ATTEMPT to build the best political system that we can …and in that sense “incorporating geographical knowledge into the formation of social and political policy is therefore a necessary condition for genuine democracy” is probably one of several concepts that sound quite tenable though I take exception with ‘genuine democracy’. I.e. ‘geographical knowledge’ – and probably cultural and ethnic context of the nation – in coming up with political systems that work best for the nation – and such systems should not be ‘rigid’ or fixated on idealistic notions and should be ‘subjected’ to review in changes of national circumstances.
    It is probably unfair to ‘critique’ on probably a book review of Harvey’s book – but if the review(if indeed it was a review) truly captured the essence of Harvey’s work:-
    “the pursuit of liberty and freedom can lead to violence and repression, undermining our trust in universal theories of liberalism, neoliberalism, and cosmopolitanism. ”
    “the cosmopolitanism that emerges is rooted in human experience rather than illusory ideals and brings us closer to achieving the liberation we seek.”
    But aren’t ‘universal theories of liberalism, neoliberalism and cosmopolitanism’ ‘illusory ideals’? [I can substitute these with other ‘illusory ideals’ if I turn out to be one who DISBELIEF in liberalism, for example].
    I mean, the ‘root’ still remain some idealistic notions – in this case ‘liberalism, neoliberalism and cosmopolitanism’ and also ‘genuine democracy’; the ‘human experience’ as a means. ‘Human experience’ is transitory and any human’s ‘judgement’ of such experiences are generally fickle. I mean, I’ve visited the West and have read and seen ‘liberalism’ and ‘experienced’ ‘liberalism’ but I come up with a different conclusion(from the review). If there is a ‘root’ in human experience, it’s shallow and fickle at best for the majority of mankind. Lest I am thought of as playing with semantics, is there EVER such thing as ‘genuine democracy’? If human nature has a tendency of ‘rottenness’ and democracy is ‘crudely’ put a government by the people(the ‘masses’), would not such a government, in the process of time, become more rotten? I am not convinced with the notion of ‘genuine democracy’. If that’s the ‘ideal’, it’s one that is unworkable.
    My point is – there is no ‘fit all’ political system. There are probably some sets of general principles/ethics for political systems -regardless of what type(even ‘non-democratic’ ones) – that ensure (the usually transient) success of such systems. The problem is when one is so sure that one set of ‘ideals’ is superior over all others and try to proselytize other nations to follow suit. In the past, men warred because they insist their religious dogmas upon others (and some still do). John Lennon’s classic atheist piece ‘Imagine’ alludes that with no religion there might be earthly paradise. Unfortunately no – we just substitute religious dogmas with new secular dogmas. Same old, same old.

    It’s probably unfair for me to criticize a book I’ve never read but I could not resist doing so.😉
    For that, I apologize in advance. Interested though I am on governments and politics, I have to sheepishly admit that my interest in science overrides these things, so I’d probably be reading some molecular medicine stuff instead…

    sinotibetan

    • Foppe says:

      But aren’t ‘universal theories of liberalism, neoliberalism and cosmopolitanism’ ‘illusory ideals’?

      Certainly, but that is not to say that they do not motivate people to act in very specific (and often quite annoying and reprehensible) ways, either regardless or helped by the illusory status of those ideals. And what Harvey’s trying to get those cosmopolitans (for example of the Martha Nussbaum variety) to acknowledge, is the fact that their happy pursuit of those ideals leads to quite a bit of repression ‘on the ground’.
      Anyway, given your complaints, I suspect you would find the book to be to your liking.

    • marknesop says:

      Although democracy remains the best government model we have, it is so more in ideal than in practice – as long as there is competition for the leadership, there will be aspiring leaders who seek to falsely advertise themselves and special-interest social subsets who seek to skew the vote with disinformation. Generally speaking, westerners believe what they are told according to what they like to believe is true. Those who covet their financial support and their vote dedicate considerable effort to discovering what the people want to believe is true, and then tell them it is.

      There’s nothing that makes living in a free, prosperous democracy as sweet as believing that somewhere, people don’t have democracy, aren’t free and don’t have it half so good as you. It makes what you have seem that much better, and suffuses you with contentment.

      Hey, Russia!! That’s your cue! Collapse, or something!!

  5. A. Peasant says:

    great follow up post Mark. and many thanks for the links. i’m still suss on how he has managed to get that narrative past every single well paid “journalist” in the western world. it would seem to me that there’s a little more to that besides their laziness and desire to please a rich man, though no question that would be part of it. i would tend to agree if it weren’t for the fact that all these state department people and senators are willing to practically ditch the reset with Russia over this, or at least make a big dramatic show about it, indicating more at stake and probably having to do with all that money laundering for the organized crime rings that extend all through the US government. the Saint Sergei narrative is important probably to keep prying eyes away from what they were doing, and what they were doing is trying to control GAZPROM. pretty effing ballsy. so ok i was unsure what to write about next but i think i will keep going on this because hot damn it sure is endlessly interesting and you have nailed more of it down, great work. APea.

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks, APea, and thanks again for the corroborating info I borrowed from you and your colleague, it certainly helped tie it all together. But so much is still unknown, and thanks to the jamming from Browder’s narrative, much is still speculation.

      Some of the American enthusiasm owes itself to what has become knee-jerk Republican obstructionism, and a desire to wreck something (the reset) that Obama put in place. But it also suits certain western interests to keep Russia out of the WTO – purely for humiliation value, since it’s the only large country that isn’t a member and many who are members have a terrible human-rights record.

      It also occurred to me – as it seems to have occurred to you as well – that some of Browder’s clients might be organized crime figures. After all, his benefactor was a known money-launderer, and Browder has been quite candid that his primary interest is in making a lot of money as quickly as possible. Messing with GAZPROM was probably enough to get him banned, although he would never have controlled it – it’s much bigger than the American oil giants – but he was probably just interested in keeping it unstable. If the Russian government knew he was moving money for the mob, they would probably have arrested him, too; at the very least, they would have made sure the west knew when he was booted out of Russia what it was for, so that he couldn’t have pursued his choirboy narrative. But I wonder if they suspected. I’d love to get a look at that client list, but that’d be seriously confidential. I wonder if the investigators who did the search of their offices saw it. You’d think he;’d be smart enough to bury that deep, though. Anyway, I agree that the story seems to be just unfolding.

      • A. Peasant says:

        It also occurred to me – as it seems to have occurred to you as well – that some of Browder’s clients might be organized crime figures.,,,I’d love to get a look at that client list, but that’d be seriously confidential.

        might be? i would say absolutely. that is the very first thing that occurred to me when i saw the state department running to protect him. i have quite a broad definition of organized crime after writing about it for a few years. i’m sure the list is buried deep to protect the organized criminals, some of which are probably household names in “respectable” society, perhaps some politicians and businesspeople with suspicious accounts in Cyprus and so forth. i have yet to come across the reports of his investors complaining that he stole from them too when he claimed he had paid the higher tax rate but was only paying 5.5%… have you? i suppose it is better for them to suffer in silence and protect their identities.

  6. cartman says:

    Since I have not seen this on any of the blogs, what do you think of this? An MMA fighter from Dagestan kills (probably accidentally) a 19-year-old kid who looks like Peter Parker before the radioactive spider bit him:
    http://www.russpress.net/2011/08/21/murder-without-rules/

    He was released after a call from some Dagestani MPs. It does not seem like a workable solution to allow envoys or MPs to tinker with the justice system. It reminds me of the situation before the Manezh riots where people did not trust the official version of events when the killers were set free. Also, I did not mention the ethnicity of the kid, but Muslims are saying he was Jewish. I doubt that, but I thought it was interesting to note Russian Muslim attitudes towards Jews seems to mirror the rest of the Islamic world.

    • kovane says:

      No, in that case it’s harder to throw the nationalist card. The kid (who behaved quite insolently by the way) died not from the punch by the Dagestani fighter, but from the impact on the ground. At least that’s what a preliminary medical examination showed, which of course could have been tampered with. The Dagestani surrendered himself to the police and was released on bail. The Russian part of the Internet is divided – some support the fighter, saying that he was right in this situation, and the death was an accident; others routinely blame the North Caucasus. So I doubt that this case will draw as much public attention as the Sviridov case did.

      You probably know that a lot of Jews have been living in the Caucasus for centuries, including among Muslims, so I also don’t share the view that Russia’s Muslims have some kind of special attitude towards Jews.

    • grafomanka says:

      In soviet times some places, like Ukraine, were far more anti-Semitic than Muslim republics.

      This Dagestani should be charged with manslaughter.

      By the way, guy banged his head against the sewer drain and his friends drove him home & gave him a pain killer?!! On the other hand, not sure if there’s a hospital in Moscow that could have saved him (as his skull would have to be opened immediately).

      • kovane says:

        Yes, I agree here. Jews bred resentment mostly in atomized societies, where diaspora behaviour brought them substantial advantages. That’s almost any place in Europe where large enough Jewish population lived (Germany, Poland, the Baltic region and Ukraine). On the other hand, in Caucasus clan-based societies Jews were only one of many and coexisted beside native population more peacefully.

        Apparently, that’s what the defence is hoping for. Hefty compensation to the relatives, even bigger one to the judge, several calls from concerned high-ranking Dagestani officials and he’ll be out on probation crushing skulls in a more appropriate setting.

        The medical examination showed that his cerebellum was crushed, that’s a death sentence. And this is the danger of head traumas – sometimes it’s very hard to differentiate between a mild concussion and life-threatening condition. More reason to be extra cautious when dealing with them.

        • grafomanka says:

          Actually seems the situation with Jews is more complicated. I just read a paper (while avoiding work🙂 which suggests that russian muslims tend to blame jews for inciting ethnic tensions between russians and caucasians/immigrants.
          ‘Kondopoga’ – Ethnic/Social Tension in Putin’s Russia
          http://ideas.repec.org/a/cup/eurrev/v18y2010i02p177-206_99.html

        • kovane says:

          There’s nothing like a little procrastination🙂

          Pretty bizarre article, with underwear chock-full of 100 dollar bills and many experts consisting of just one, Den’ga Khalidov (and I can’t find the work the author referenced) . Using material of Kavkaz-center and Paul Goble doesn’t help either. In any case, this is quite a peripheral point of view, even considering Russia’s old and proud tradition of crypto anti-Semitism when Jews can be blamed for anything, up to missing tap water. But you’re right that quite many Muslim scholars and experts are anti-Semitic and anti-Israel (Geydar Jemal for example), but no surprise here.

          Forgive me if I’m prying, but are you Muslim?

          • grafomanka says:

            Nooooo, I’m Catholic.

            Yes, the article is a bit bizzare. Points out that the rise of political awareness snd civil society in Russia goes togehter with the rise of nationalism and ethnic tensions. Maybe going down this development path is inevitable, but sad nevertheless.

        • cartman says:

          Mountain Jews are almost extinct as an identity. They were being kidnapped and ransomed during the Chechen Wars of the 90s by fellow Caucasians. Also, as Salafism creeps in, it does not matter that the local flavor of Islam is more tolerant/pragmatic. We have seen it take over whole countries, and it is far more intolerant than any other form of Islam.

          • kovane says:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Jews

            Where do you even find that? About extinction, I mean. And Salafism fights not only against Judaism, but against other Islamic denominations as well, including the Sunni Islam of the Caucasus. And what countries did it take over beside Saudi Arabia?

            • cartman says:

              Almost all are in Israel (same with Bukharin Jews). They will not be able to continue their old lifestyles there. In a generation they will probably be gone as a distinct culture. As for Salafism – Afghanistan, Pakistan (especially the tribal areas), and Somalia are overwhelmed by it. I would not discount Pakistan, even though it has other factions.

              Speaking of Pakistan, there was news the other day that Bahrain’s monarch is recruiting even more Pakistani mercenaries while the economy is failing.

            • kovane says:

              That’s not true. Taliban profess a Suni kind of Islam, albeit very radical. Salafism is more of a branch in Islam subscribed by separate scholars, sometimes very influential. But no state openly declares itself Salafi, even Saudi Arabia officially disowns more radical conventions of Salafism.

              I don’t have exact information on how many Mountain Jews immigrated, but I doubt that all of them did. For example, the owner of the notorious Cherkisovsky market in Moscow Tel’man Ismailov is a Mountain Jew, and by the look of it he isn’t going anywhere.

        • sinotibetan says:

          Hi kovane and grafomanka:

          1.)”By the way, guy banged his head against the sewer drain and his friends drove him home & gave him a pain killer?!!”
          You nailed it right to the point! I think probably it’s a mixture of his friends being drunk and ignorant at the same time?

          2.) “not sure if there’s a hospital in Moscow that could have saved him (as his skull would have to be opened immediately).”
          I’m sure they might have. In the capital of my country(considered a developing country), there are neurosurgeons who can do that and I’d be surprised there are none in Moscow hospitals.

          3.) If he had been sent to the hospital, the ER doctors would have accessed him and would probably have arranged a CT head – which would have detected the lesions. Probably an intracranial bleed – subarachnoid or subdural maybe? Cerebellum crushed – wow – the impact(whether from the sewer drain or the punch) has to be extremely powerful! I’m quite surprised that a punch or banging a sewer drain caused that. Intracranial bleed, possible but a crushed cerebellum? Something feels not right.

          sinotibetan

  7. james says:

    Great post, Mark, for both info and style. One small correction though, the posts at Twelfth Bough and Suspicious Deaths that you linked to were both written by APea

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks, James! Oops; my mistake – I thought the Twelfth Bough piece was by APea and the other was a collaboration including her. Both have connected a lot of dots, although there is thus far no proof, and this post doesn’t get any closer to that, I’m afraid.

      It’s occurred to me before, as it likely has to most of the readers, that the nature of evidence has come to a state that almost none but eyewitness testimony rises above suspect. Scratch that; eyewitnesses can be bought. It has become so easy to insert “evidence” in the record sometimes years after the fact, indistinguishable from the real thing except for perhaps a handful of experts, that the value of evidence itself must be questioned except in cases where fabricating it would be of no particular value to anyone and the outcome is not in doubt. This is especially true in cases where the evidence is mostly concentrated in electronic records. The proof that Magnitsky concocted the tax scheme himself is allegedly in his seized computer, but it begs a couple of questions – One, the scheme seems simple enough in both design and execution, as many illegal things are: why leave a detailed written record? Was he afraid he’d forget how it worked over a weekend? Two, while it would be possible for somebody working for the prosecution to create a phony record to substantiate its case – a record that would appear in format and date modified to be Magnitsky’s – would it not be equally easy for someone working for Browder to do the same? Physical evidence now often boils down to which side is the more credible – and by that standard, Browder with his “activist investor trying to achieve western-style governance” will win out over the savage Russians every time.

      • yalensis says:

        “The proof that Magnitsky concocted the tax scheme himself is allegedly in his seized computer, but it begs a couple of questions – One, the scheme seems simple enough in both design and execution, as many illegal things are: why leave a detailed written record? Was he afraid he’d forget how it worked over a weekend? ”

        I don’t see a mystery here. It is simply in the nature of certain professions (especially accountants and laywers) to obsessively document everything. One reason, among others: Literally every 15 minutes of work must be billed to a client, and billing might require, if challenged, written documentation that the person was engaged in activity for that particular client. Hence, Magnitsky would be required to write everything down and save on his computer, for billing reasons, if nothing else.

        • marknesop says:

          It’s funny I didn’t think of that, because I’m an obsessive email saver; I have stuff that is years old. I’ve run across several situations in which people said, “I don’t know where you got that idea, but I certainly didn’t tell you”, and I’ve been able to call up their message, select “forward”, and type, “I beg to differ”.

          • yalensis says:

            Ha ha! Some people are just pack-rats by nature.

          • yalensis says:

            And I just thought of something else: when a bunch of disparate people representing different groups have come together for the purpose of committing an elaborate white collar crime, then each party would have an interest in secretly documenting as much as possible, in case they ever needed to (1) blackmail their co-conspirators, or (2) strike a deal with prosecution in case everything goes sour, or (3) bill each other for additional hours, as I posited above.

  8. james says:

    “Suspicious Deaths” is a collaborative blog but that report was posted by AP. But perhaps it’s not my place to be correcting anything.

    “Proof” is something a criminal court decides. We in the blogosphere are much more like a civil court that decides for the plaintiff or the defendant on the balance of a body of evidence and, in the end, probability rather than proof. Our tools are history (by their fruits you shall know them) and logic.

    Physical evidence now often boils down to which side is the more credible – and by that standard, Browder with his “activist investor trying to achieve western-style governance” will win out over the savage Russians every time.

    You seem to be arguing against your own case here unless you meant to add “in the Western media”. In which case the question becomes, “What do the media cartels and Browder have in common?”

    • marknesop says:

      “You seem to be arguing against your own case here unless you meant to add “in the Western media”.

      Not necessarily. We’ve had a couple of discussions on here regarding – I hesitate to open it up again – admission by Russia’s leaders that the Soviets were responsible for the murder of Polish officers at Katyn. There was at least as good a case that the Nazis had done it and blamed it on the Soviets. The whole thing became more or less moot when Putin accepted responsibility for it on behalf of Russia, but what struck me was that there was considerable evidence that the classified archives had been tampered with when they were declassified under Yeltsin (if I recall correctly). Whether that happened then, or earlier, there probably was no way to tell. Some even speculated that it was done on Yeltsin’s behest, because he wanted to make sure Russia could never go back to communism (or Marxism-Leninism, if you prefer, since the communist goal was never attained).

      These would have been crude, probably the insertion of entries to pages that would seem to confirm one viewpoint or another, or perhaps removal of actual pages and the insertion of new ones in their place made to look old. Perhaps experts could have shed some light on it, but there didn’t seem to be much stomach for pursuing it in Russia and the trend seemed to be for letting it go and moving on. But my point is that evidence fakery is on a whole other plane now, and it’s possible to remotely alter electronic records – even on the desktop – from any computer, provide you have the software on both the target computer and the one you’re using to do the changes. If Browder wanted to fake evidence, a bold PR attack afterward would be just the way to go, since it would bolster his credibility. Russia, by contrast, is already starting out with the dice loaded. Almost nobody reads Russian newspapers in the west, and any time there’s an attack against the government by some progressive liberal independent like Yevgenia Albats’ New Times or Novaya Gazeta, there are plenty of eager hacks who will translate the juicy bits to make it appear to the western audience that even Russians think the government is comprised of liars.

      But you’re right. There’s a myth in America that the big, old businesses built the country, the Rockefellers and the Carnegies…the western press has an almost worshipful air toward businessmen unless they have already failed and are on their way down or have been caught in some transgression so huge that it can’t be covered up. All Browder has to do to get the kid-gloves treatment is keep his momentum, and not look indecisive or hesitant.

      • james says:

        thanks for your response, Mark. You say, “Not necessarily.” Does that mean maybe? (to which i can hear your response now – “Not necessarily.”🙂 ) But if there was some common thread or organising principle between Browder and his mentors on one side and with the media and his defenders in public life in the US, do you think it would be a significant factor?

        I agree that our society is a sea of myths. They are so hard to identify because they are ever present.

        Almost nobody reads Russian newspapers in the west, and any time there’s an attack against the government by some progressive liberal independent like Yevgenia Albats’ New Times or Novaya Gazeta, there are plenty of eager hacks who will translate the juicy bits to make it appear to the western audience that even Russians think the government is comprised of liars.

        I think people everywhere accept that their governments include in their numbers a not insignificant number of liars. But of the actions of the “plenty of eager hacks”, do you think they are random and driven by the personal biases of these individuals or do you think it is a little more organised given the consistency that you remark on?

        • marknesop says:

          By “not necessarily”, I guess I did mean “maybe”, but what I really meant was “I’m too lazy to dig into it to find the links”, because I’m sure they’re there. I’d be very surprised, for example, if western agencies do not materially support publications such as The New Times and Novaya Gazeta, because their readership is proportionally so small that they’d likely have gone under otherwise, not to mention they’re all-criticism-all-the-time of the government, which typically doesn’t win you any friends even in the friendliest of democracies. They have the most minimal impact in Russia, but their true value lies in translations of their articles for western audiences. The theme is fairly reliable; Vladimir Putin had Anna Politkovskaya killed because she knew something so explosive that it would have brought down his government. If a liberal such as Boris Nemtsov ever got hold of the reins of power in Russia, things would be so good so fast that the average Russian would shake his head in disbelief. Russia lurked around the South Ossetian/Georgian border, taunting and provoking Saakashvili until he had no option but to attack, whereupon a previously-hidden large Russian force sprang the trap and walloped him. Otherwise he would have won, and now the average South Ossetian would have it so good….you get the picture, I’m sure. Of course it’s not quite so hyperbolic as that, I’m exaggerating, but it really isn’t far off, especially when they get to spanking the Anna Politkovskaya/Natalia Estemirova baby.

          I’m sure they don’t do it for whatever money they get, they probably believe every word of it because they’re activist newsmagazines, but their message is amplified out of all proportion by special interests. Similarly, everything I’ve read about Browder suggests he’s an arrogant loudmouth whom nobody likes, and very few people would give him the time of day if he didn’t offer the potential of staggering returns on their money. Since that possibility is greatly downgraded with his expulsion from Russia (I don’t doubt there are still opportunities to make big money in the Middle East – his recent fascination – but generally the governments know how much everything is worth, and exploitative returns such as were available in Russia were over years ago in the Middle East. Besides, if you get caught manipulating petroleum stocks over there, where they literally have nothing else, they’d probably cut your hands off or something), he likely has nothing in that line to offer U.S. politicians like Cardin and McCain. What he does offer, however, is an opportunity to make a huge whopping human-rights case against Russia which might be enough to keep them out of the WTO for another 10-12 years. And the russophobic element in the U.S. government and business community is organized to a “T”. Groups like the Jamestown Foundation make a life out of hating Russia and doing everything they can to stir up national feeling against it, while doing everything they can to motivate and support seditionist elements within it.

          Russia also makes a useful strawman for the Defense community to tilt against. Not long ago, the new “enemies” we trained against in war games were India and China; massive emerging economies with money to burn on building up their militaries. But China became America’s darling overnight when it allowed them to spend themselves into a hole on borrowed Chinese money, and China is the recipient of enormous western investment on the business side. So Russia, with its corroded military, is the go-to bogeyman again.

          I could have shortened it up considerably by saying no, of course it’s not random, but I haven’t done any real research on the connections. I’m sure they are there.

          • james says:

            Thanks for your long and detailed response, Mark. I was not expecting such a wealth of information. I am familiar with Anna Politkovskaya only to the extent that she was killed to prevent her from exposing corruption involving organised crime, as I remember it.

            So, if publications such as The New Times and Novaya Gazeta are receiving money from “western agencies” (do you mean like the CIA or Freedom House?) to provide translations for the western media conglomerates to pick up and hype, do you think it likely that these arrangements with the likes of The New Times also include the likes of The New York Times at the other end ?

            Do you think given all this that it would be a sort of mirror operation to those conducted by MEMRI and SITE who also have government funding it seems?

            Russia lurked around the South Ossetian/Georgian border, taunting and provoking Saakashvili until he had no option but to attack, whereupon a previously-hidden large Russian force sprang the trap and walloped him. Otherwise he would have won, and now the average South Ossetian would have it so good….you get the picture, I’m sure.

            Well, actually, you’d be wrong there. That’s all new to me. My view of events has been quite different to your description. I do know, though, that wife-beaters use the “ had no option but to attack” excuse often, as Saakashvili does. And they seem to believe it. But that’s getting off the track, I think.

            I could have shortened it up considerably by saying no, of course it’s not random, but I haven’t done any real research on the connections. I’m sure they are there.

            I’m sure they are there, too. It just makes sense. I’ll look into it, if you like, and get back to you if I find anything significant.

            And getting back to the possibility of there being a common thread or link-up between Browder, his mentors Robert Maxwell and Edmund Safra and his supporters in the US including Congressmen and media outlets, I’ll see if anything jumps out of the weeds there, too.

            • marknesop says:

              Thanks, James; I’m sure whatever you find will be interesting.

              Anna Politkovskaya worked mostly with human-rights issues. I daresay she may have brushed up against corruption at some time or other in her life, as the majority of Russian citizens likely do, but her focus was human rights and the Caucasus. She was fairly well-known through her writing, but achieved brief fame as the negotiator with the terrorists who seized the theatre in Moscow, although she (by her own admission) did not achieve anything; all of the terrorists and 67 of the hostages were killed when the authorities finally stormed the building. It seems likely her sole purpose in being the negotiator chosen by the terrorists was to get their message out to the world, and they did not appear to trust her any more than any other Russian.

              There was nothing she could have exposed that would have even shaken Putin’s government, let alone caused it to fall. Moreover, the Russian government had absolutely no reason to have her silenced, as her work did nothing to make the situation in the North Caucasus any worse. She alluded to atrocities in which Russian troops had killed Caucasian villagers for no reason, but the government would have been able to point to equal atrocities committed by Caucasians against Russia, and reminded everybody that it is a hard old world. She might have tried to get mileage out of suggesting Ramzan Kadyrov was personally appointed to be the Kremlin’s hard man in the Caucasus, and again that could be justified by the Kremlin saying a hard situation called for a hard man, and that the alternative would be to allow the formation of a radical Islamic fundamentalist republic on Russia’s doorstep that would be constantly pushing its borders inward, likely with western support. It is far more probable that Kadyrov himself had her killed as a warning for journalists to mind their own business where the Caucasus is concerned, and the bold, broad-daylight shooting in the stairwell of her residence was decidedly not the style of government enforcers, much more a gangland type killing. There have been arrests, but as far as I know the case has never been solved.

  9. james says:

    Mark,
    the research I have done so far seems to indicate Israel as the common denominator one way or another. All the people involved on Browder’s side seem to have allegiance to it as either Jews or Zionists.

    Browder is Jewish through his mother’s side and he was mentored by two Jewish Zionists, Maxwell and Safra.

    All the major newspapers and publishing houses in the US are owned and or controlled by Jews, most of whom are also Zionists it seems.

    The sponsors of the bill before congress calling for sanctions against Russian officials and their families, the ‘Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2011’, all seem to be Zionists, too, or those very sympathetic towards Israel. This sympathy extends to almost all congressmen and women, it seems.
    Israel and the US Congress

    • Foppe says:

      All the people involved on Browder’s side seem to have allegiance to it as either Jews or Zionists.

      I am curious. Would this be worth noting (in such an ominous fashion) if all involved had been Kiwis? The operative categories here are neoliberalism and/or crony capitalism; cultural backgrounds at best explain how they might’ve found each other.

      • james says:

        Foppe – that is an excellent question, and an equally excellent observation.

        If all the people involved on one side of the issue were, indeed, Kiwis then this, too, would be a statistically significant finding given the relatively tiny population of New Zealand against, say, the populations of Russia and the US. It is a particularly apt comparison given the equally relatively tiny population of Zionists compared to these populations. I would think any researcher would find this statistically significant enough to investigate further to establish if there has been collusion or hidden agenda between these parties. Or to, at least, look for further links.

        Cultural background, as you observed, might well “explain how they might’ve found each other”. Excellent point, as I said. Again, one would need to investigate further to establish whether they belonged to the same organisations or clubs to establish collusion. But it merits further investigation, I would think. So I think we are on the same track here.

        I’ll take you at your word that you felt my comments were presented “in such an ominous fashion”. But I have looked at my wording again carefully and I don’t see anything that could be construed as “ominous”, aside from the bare observations themselves if you wish to see them that way.

        • marknesop says:

          I can’t comment on the Jewish angle; I’ve made it clear here and elsewhere that I harbour no particular distaste against Jews regardless their origin. I also pointed out elsewhere that as soon as you bring it up, the suggestion you are being anti-semitic (which is an inaccurate label in the first place, as Arabs are semites as well) casts all your conclusions into doubt. That said, it cannot be argued that sound position points the Jewish lobby (as distinct and separate from the Jewish people) does not care for are often buried under shouts of “anti-semitism!!!” And as often as Israeli politicians claim the right to call their armies “the most moral armed forces in the world”, there is abundant evidence that prominent Israeli politicians whose right to be called Men of Peace by the west is considered sacrosanct have made many public statements which suggested they considered the Palestinian people vermin, to be gotten rid of by whatever means would serve the purpose quickest. If you want the world to accept you unquestioningly and not attribute certain characteristics to you because of the race from which you are descended, a little leading by example would not come amiss.

          Similarly, the evidence is what the evidence is, and irrefutable proof tells its own story. There is no doubt the Jewish Lobby in the USA exists solely to influence U.S. foreign policy to Israel’s advantage – there’s no other reason for it to be present, and even its champions admit it performs masterpieces of spin and image management. Prominent Jews are indeed very influential in the media, and I’d be surprised if anyone was unable to name a story that was probably true which had been spiked because media sources labeled it anti-semitic.

          For me, Bill Browder’s being a crook is quite enough. There may be a larger conspiracy involving his bloodline and there may not. But his criminal activities are sufficient unto the day.

          • james says:

            You may be conflating me with other people that you have in mind, Mark. I have not mentioned ‘race’ or “bloodlines” or even “certain characteristics”. These are racist and, as such, are nonsensical as all racism is. In any case, it is actually Zionism (which, as I understand it, is a political movement for the advancement of the State of Israel) that seems to be a common factor.

            Your opening and closing lines are surprising and ironic given the investigative nature of your article and, indeed, the title of your article, “It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know: ….”

            You are disarmingly open about that it’s the bullying of those that cry “anti-semite” and the people who unthinkingly accept it regardless of the truth of the matter under discussion that is determining your course. I have a lot of sympathy for your position. I have found, though, that the most effective and, in the end, most dignified way of dealing with bullies is to ‘call ’em’ on their threats. But then, it is not my call and I don’t know what’s at stake here. But you will know best.

            • marknesop says:

              Actually, I have no argument with taking on Zionism. It is indeed a political philosophy, which has as its goal Eretz Israel, or Greater Israel – an Israel bounded only by rivers, the Jordan and the Litani. Unfortunately for this philosophy, as you know, other owners already reside in both places; the Palestinians on one flank and the Lebanese on the other. But Zionist leaders have been anything but shy in expressing their desires and ambitions. So said Joseph Weitz in 1973: “The only solution is Eretz Israel [Greater Israel], or at least Western Eretz Israel [all the land west of Jordan River], without Arabs. There is no room for compromise on this point … We must not leave a single village, not a single tribe.” So said Raphael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the IDF, in 1983: “When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.” So said Moshe Dayan, always remembered by the west as an exemplary statesman and peacemaker, in 1969: “Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.” So, too – perhaps most famously – said Ariel Sharon, in 1998: “Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours… Everything we don’t grab will go to them.”

              I just want to avoid linking Jewishness with Zionism. Zionism is an extremist philosophy to which not all Jews, by any stretch of the imagination, subscribe. I haven’t seen any suggestion that Browder is a Zionist, nor that the community of Jewish media moguls is (although the latter is quite likely).

              By the tagline, “It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know”, I meant to imply Browder is connected up to his neck with criminals who are allowed to continue their criminal enterprises with little more than the occasional smack on the wrist when their double-dealing becomes too obvious, because their business practices serve national interests and their contributions finance political cadres. Yes, those people in many cases happen to be Jewish, although Safra was not an Israeli. I could care less about their dreams of a Greater Israel, as long as they’re not funneling money to extremist movements or buying political office for thugs who are working to make that happen. And at that point, they’re criminals, so we’re back to Square One.

              • yalensis says:

                Abraham’s Covenant with Yahweh:
                Here is the Biblical basis of Israeli claims to “the whole of this land, from the heights of Golan in the North, the Sinai in the South, to the River of Jordan to the great sea… for all of eternity.”
                My favorite bit is teenage son Isaac’s sarcastic reply: “Apparently God forgot to tell everybody else. We’re at war with someone, like, every other day…”

                • sinotibetan says:

                  yalensis,

                  I don’t know where you got this clip which mocks the Bible but I wonder if the actor playing Isaac was Brad Pitt?

                  Anyway, regarding the covenant of Yahweh and Abraham though his seed(i.e. the descendants of Isaac; Ishmael was not considered the ‘promised child’ – in fact he symbolizes ‘godlessness'[i.e. ‘man’s method’/’trusting in man’]) , the ‘Promised Land’ was supposed to be ancient Canaan(Genesis 17:8). The borders of that ‘Promised Land’ is delineated by Numbers 34:2-15. I think the border included only part of Sinai, maybe a part of Golan heights, most part of present southern Lebanon and some parts of present southern Syria. Certainly the ‘quote’ you mentioned(from the mocking video clip) is not accurately ‘from the Bible’.😉

                  sinotibetan

        • Foppe says:

          Well, let me put it another way: If american neoliberals/neocons/crony capitalists collude in order to get rich, this is mostly just assumed to be a feature of their greed and short-sightedness; when you talk about Zionists, there is automatically the assumption that the criminal activity has something to do with trying to realize ‘greater israel’ or whatever. Now, it may well be that zionists are more nationalistic than the Cheneys and Wolfowitzes and Paul Bremer’s of the world, but I don’t really understand why their political leanings inside israel are relevant to their criminal behavior inside Russia. (Note that this is not to accuse you of anything; it’s just that the zionist angle strikes me as something of a red herring.)

          • james says:

            Foppe,
            forgive my tardiness in replying to your question. I haven’t been to this blog for a few days. I raised the issue of everyone seeming to be connected with Israel one way or another but didn’t draw any conclusions. I was curious why it hadn’t been mentioned given that after starting with Robert Maxwell and Edmund Safra it didn’t take me long to establish that many of them were zionists or could reasonably be assumed to be.
            “I don’t really understand why their political leanings inside israel are relevant to their criminal behavior inside Russia.”
            A very good question. Since you are asking me (and I completely understand you aren’t accusing me of anything) I’ll give you my thoughts on it but I’m not in a position to give links and references off the top of my head and document my points or assertions. Nor am I really inclined to debate it, either. Ok with those huge qualifications, I’ll say that the people behind zionism have designs on Russia; their resources and oil, their government and military.

            These people were/are commonly known as the International Bankers. These same people control the Bank for International Settlements and from all accounts such institutions as the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (and probably all the other Federal Reserve Bank’s throughout the US).
            If money is power, then these are the most powerful people in the world given that they own the banks that literally make a large proportion of the world’s money.
            These bankers control the US congress directly through money and influence and indirectly through the media. And this accounts for why the zionists and various Israeli PM’s in recent history seem to be able to get the US to do anything they want. The reason is that there is this unifying power behind Israel, the US and the UK, while we’re about it, that co-ordinates the various moves and all the theatre involved. To quote ‘the Oracle’ from the film ‘The Matrix”, “What do people with power want? More power”. These bankers aren’t about to stop till they control everything – or become extinct trying.

            It was recently revealed in court (in Russia? – and I don’t have a link, sorry) I remember reading, that Jacob Rothschild was the beneficial owner of Khodorkovsky’s assets. Perhaps he also owns the assets of the other Jewish oligarchs in Russia. It is quite feasible given that all bar one of these oligarchs are Jewish and that they came out of nowhere with all the money in the world backing them it seems. I’m sure Mark would know all the details but there was a tussle over the control of Gazprom and also Yukos too I think. Browder was also having a tilt at Gazprom. Control over the world’s oil (and gas) sales is crucial to implementing a one world currency.
            This is getting long so I’ll end it here but if you want to know the tie up between oil and a global currency, I can elaborate further if you want.

            • Foppe says:

              To start, you are really much too polite for your own good. And I do apologize for harping on about the same point forever.😉
              Anyway, I suppose the Zionist angle doesn’t really interest me because I don’t really care who owns the piece of land currently called ‘Israel’. (And I do love how the Romans renamed it Palestine after — iirc — the 2nd revolt.) (Having said that, I certainly disapprove of recent attempts to turn Gaza and the West Bank into the Warsaw Ghetto. It seems historically inappropriate, somehow.) I mean, you’ll have no trouble convincing me that all of those oligarchs are connected to rather shady sponsors who allowed them to buy up all of those bonds for a pittance, and I’m sure some are even more slimy than dear mr. Safra, but really, if there is a conspiracy that wants to realize a greater israel; by all means, let them think about that all the time. Given the Jewish/Israeli population they’ll never manage to maintain a larger state anyway; even the current one seems to be coming apart a bit.
              What does puzzle me is why these Zionists would be uniquely interested in owning Russia. Insofar as I understand Israeli politics, they’re having a hard enough time managing that country, so why add the biggest plot of land on earth?
              Lastly, while I’m sure that bankers are interested in amassing ever more money; the way they are operating both inside Russia and out of it seems to me rather more aptly described as being a nihilistic variant of the hodgepodge ideology called neoliberalism, as being primarily Zionist. (In either case, that ideologies are much more useful if you want to control a population than conspiracies. Look at the tea party: perfectly controlled by its misguided hatred of having a government — the Kochs could never have managed that through a mere conspiracy.)

              • james says:

                To start, you are really much too polite for your own good. I’ve tried the other way, Foppe, and this is better 🙂
                You’ve hit on the raison d’etre for ideologies (which include religions, in my book); they are designed to control people. But there will be a conspiracy behind the implementation and management of the ideology just as in the ‘Tea Party’. Great illustration.
                I don’t really care who owns the piece of land currently called ‘Israel’.
                When the most powerful group of people on Earth (whose interests are directly opposed to everybody else’s) go to such great lengths including ‘sacrificing’ many of their supposedly own people to establish the state of Israel, I think it would be prudent for us to inquire as to why.
                What does puzzle me is why these Zionists would be uniquely interested in owning Russia. Insofar as I understand Israeli politics, they’re having a hard enough time managing that country, so why add the biggest plot of land on earth?
                Well, they probably think they are managing the US and the UK well enough right now and they have already controlled Russia in the recent past to the extent of being able to plunder many of it’s resources and to reduce it socially to rubble. Until Vladimir Putin came along, that is. These sorts of people are blind to the problems their coercion and violence bring to those they are controlling. This includes their own people, of course, as we’ve seen before. Besides, I would think these bankers are nothing if not grandiose. But to answer your question ‘why Russia’ and presumably ‘why now’, it’s the oil (and gas) and the bankers’ hoped for One World Currency (OWC).

                If you issue the currency of a nation, you control that nation economically. This leads to political control and military control which is not only convenient but necessary because political and military control over a nation ensures that you will not lose economic control through revolution (or you can manage the revolution to maintain or extend your control). The same applies to controlling the entire world. It would be naïve to think these bankers do not wish to do so. It would be naïve to think these power addicts are not driven to this irresistable end.

                But a OWC is of no use if people don’t want to use it. To ensure that they do want to use it, what is needed is to control something that they must have such as oil. So if these bankers control ALL oil sales, they can insist on only selling it for their own currency. So you either accept their OWC or you go without oil. Russia is too powerful to occupy militarily (likewise the US and the UK), so the attack is by stealth and is financial/economic in nature. Hence the battle for control of Gazprom and hence the importance of Browder to these bankers. Who, in conclusion, I’ll stress are mostly Jewish in name and zionist only in the sense that they created and manage zionism. And they are Israelis only in the sense that they established the state of Israel and keep it alive economically to this day using American taxpayers money.

                As a footnote, I can imagine that these bankers will promote their OWC as being backed by gold rather than the truth of oil because that would reveal the connection between these wars and their proposed currency and possibly leading to attempts to reject it. Gold can act as a ‘carrot’ because of its historical and psychological attractiveness but it cannot act as a ‘stick’ because people can live just as before without gold. It doesnt do anything uselful, nevermind necessary. So that’s ‘why Russia’ and ‘why now’. There is a certain urgency to it all for them.

            • yalensis says:

              @james: You make a lot of good points. Back in the old days, each capitalist class was tied to a particular nation. Now they are a completely global class. This is why all these elites seem to be endlessly connected like a complex spiderweb. The state of Israel is deeply inter-connected with all this cast of characters, but then so is Saudi Arabia. The spider at the center of the whole web is USA.
              Also, back in the day the engine of capitalism was manufacturing and inventing new stuff. Now the engine is financial transactions, like hedge funds, etc. Stuff that certain elite Jewish clans just happen to be really good at, because they have doing it for a long time. I remarked before that Jewish involvement (as an ethnic group) in European banking was purely an accident of history, back in the Middle Ages. Same way ethnic Vietnamese families came to dominate the manicure/pedicure industry in parts of the United States. Except banking is way more lucrative than painting fingernails.
              Final point and ideological plug: Lenin predicted the dominance of finance capital almost a century ago in his work “Imperialism the highest stage of capitalism” which I recommend everybody read. I checked, and you can even download the English-language translation to your Kindle (if you have one)! Lenin makes a lot of good points and is quite prophetic about many things that have happened since then.

              • yalensis says:

                P.S. On the ONE WORLD CURRENCY issue, I believe I have found a viable solution. There is this planet made completely of solid diamond. And it’s only 4000 light years away! All we have to do is gear up our cosmonauts and find a way to rope that sucker in…

              • james says:

                Yalensis, yes Lenin was right in that speculation has dwarfed manufacturing now. Twenty years ago speculation accounted for 90% of turnover on foreign exchange markets. I’d hate to think what it is now. It’s a wonder the markets function at all.

                I find it curious that Marx studied western capitalism in detail for many years yet he didn’t ever expose (to my knowledge) the source of ‘Capital’ – bankers creating credit out of nothing. In fact, Marx praised the west’s banking system and said it was the only good thing about the western capitalism. Curious … or not.

                Now the engine is financial transactions, like hedge funds, etc. Stuff that certain elite Jewish clans just happen to be really good at, because they have doing it for a long time.

                It’s easy to be good at it when you own the game and can time the crashes, 🙂 which is what hedge funds are all about. You might be interested in reading my article Crashing The Market

                • james says:

                  Not only did i leave my reply to the wrong comment of yours, Yalensis, But i messed up the code for my link. Its late here – what can I say! Here’s the link again (hopefully) Crashing The Market

                  The ‘diamond planet’ could be just the ticket except we know who’d get to cut it and who’d get to control its marketing🙂

                • marknesop says:

                  It was my understanding that Lenin believed capitalism would be enormously successful at first, but that the workers would eventually catch on that they were being had. And that wasn’t actually Lenin’s theory, but Marx. Lenin simply supported and enlarged upon it. From the World Book Encyclopedia, on Lenin;

                  “According to Marx, the Free Enterprise System, which is based on privately owned business, would eventually destroy itself. At first, industry and businesses would grow, and the owners would get rich. But the owners would pay such low wages to their workers that the workers would be unable to buy the goods that the system produced. As a result, economic depressions would occur. The depressions would worsen until the workers would revolt and take over the industries. Then, the workers would own the factories and the other means of production, and social classes would no longer exist”

                  Something absent in Marx’s calculations was the emergence of trade unions, and it occurs to me that somebody could likely write a hell of an interesting post on how long the existence of trade unions prolonged capitalism beyond its natural demise as predicted by Marx. Unions argue for the worker using collective bargaining, which takes the owner’s biggest weapon away from him – the ability to selectively fire a few workers in order to frighten the rest into submission. With the union, the owner has to choose between a negotiated settlement (which is usually but not always no more than fair) and having to hire and train an entire new work force while fighting a court battle against charges he or she unfairly dismissed the previous work force. Also, Unions amass strike funds through the accumulation of dues, and can use these monies to help the workers hold out until the owner cracks. You could likely make an argument that trade unions are miniature free enterprise systems themselves, in which people who do no real work still get paid (Union executives and organizers), but the degree to which they have been successful in leveling the playing field and preventing the owners from simply hiring the cheapest labour so as to reap the highest profits can be measured in how virulently corporatism despises trade unions.

                  What Marx likely approved of in the western banking system was the ability of even modest workers to secure loans which might help them afford decent housing or even start their own business. And when America was in its infancy, the system was indeed much fairer; for example, the boss might make three or four times what a line worker made, and lifetime employment at the same company was the norm. It probably wasn’t until the Great Depression that banks discovered the fantastic opportunities offered by foreclosures and the acquisition of property through the misfortunes of others. Needless to say, corporate piracy has since been elevated to an art form.

                  Just for the record, I don’t subscribe to Marx’s theories. Workers are often dunderheads who could no more captain a successful business than they could master time travel. For a substantial number, fabricating a brick or a plastic jug or an auto tire maxes out their capability and their ambition. There will always be leaders and followers. However, in ownership there’s much to the theory that one’s degree of control ought to be governed by one’s exposure to personal risk, and businesses that are accountable to their employees are seldom the targets of union action. If the company goes down, the first to lose everything should be the executives – perhaps that’d make them a bit more cautious, unlike examples such as AIG, who received a government bailout and promptly indulged in an executive “retreat” which cost thousands of the taxpayers money for nothing more than pampering of the wealthy.

  10. Igor says:

    A well-written post, Mark (seriously – I enjoyed reading it) It is just unfortunate that some comments imply that the post can now be classified as anti-Semitic..

    But ..🙂 About the proposed Bill, I would also argued that to lock three generations of the people on the “forbidden list” in Russia would be a mistake, because their deportation to, say, US or Britain, could certainly improve moral on both sides of the ocean🙂
    Cheers

    • yalensis says:

      @Igor: I do not believe post is anti-Jewish, nor are comments. Is perfectly okay for a commenter to criticize Israel and Israel lobby (which is a pernicious force in American politics). Why not? If is relevant to the story, and I admit I am still hazy about the relationships between the various players… Did stolen money have anything to do with Israel, or was it just supposed to line individual pockets? If the latter, then I concede it is not really necessary to mention ethnic background of thieves. One must be somewhat delicate in these matters, for obvious reasons…

      • zed244 says:

        Yalensis, mine was a Russian joke (among few other things meaning that this way one may think of modern physics as of a secret Zionist project – as well as of,say, Zionist cucumbers which 99.9% of people had eaten before death etc ) .

        The second phrase in my previous comment was a re-use of a template created by a Kiwi Prime Minister. ..🙂

  11. PvMikhail says:

    Greetings people, it has been for a while… I don’t really expect, that anybody remembers me.
    I am glad, that someone finally had the time and energy to collect the facts about this browder. Congratulation and thank you very much. browder is another figure who deserves execution by flamethrower, and this would be a soft sentence if we count the damage they have done and still doing to Russia.
    About the jewish question: I have mentioned already in the past, that I hadn’t noticed them until I started to read about politics. As soon as I got involved in such things especially from an Eastern European point of view, I started to find out very interesting connections between facts. Very high percent of goons (from oligarchs to “human rights” activist politicians, “lawyers” and “journalists”), who work against Russia until it’s destruction, are connected to jewish circles or they are jews themselves, but the same also could be said about my own country, Hungary. For example: firms connected to george soros (I don’t have to introduce him (it), I think) tried to destroy OTP, Hungary’s biggest savings bank during the 2009 crisis, possibly to conduct a hostile takeover, just like browder did as this article confirms. If this bank fails, Hungary’s economy falls, and millions of people lose their last pennies, because even salaries come through banks and they are not paid by currency any more.
    This is just one example, and I think there is a little bit too much coincidence. Khodorkovsky, Gusinsky, Berezovsky in the past. Friedman, Aven, Khan, Vekselberg, Blavatnik (Alfa bank, TNK-BP, friends of Avigdor Lieberman) in the present. Kasparov, Nemtsov, even the mentally ill Novodvorskaya, pushed by Soros. Lantos and his Gulf war. In addition both “Hungarian”-american “businessman” like to involve themselves in Eastern European affairs. This blog has already introduced Appelbaum. Shenderovich, Kara-Murza, who worked for Gusinsky’s NTV and now work for his RTVi. You are already familiar with Julia Ioffe. The list is almost endless.
    Summarized: There is proof, that many people who have negative impact on Eastern Europe or on Russia particularly are jewish (they don’t deny it, except of course Zhirinovsky🙂 ), or work for jews either for the money or because they really obsessed with russophobia (and here I could change “russo” for any other Eastern European nation). This DOES NOT mean that EVERY jew think, feel and act that way in these respective countries. This also DOESN’T mean that EVERY russophobe goon work for jews, as we shouldn’t forget banderovtsy, poles, islamists. But the observation is true regardless.

    • yalensis says:

      Dear PvMikhail:
      Are you kidding, OF COURSE we remember you, you drunken Hungarian rascal! Last we heard from you on this forum, you were on an epic bender, I’m glad you survived that, and I personally missed you, so welcome back!
      Interesting to hear about your national bank, OTP. Scary to think that a whole economy would depend on one bank. We have a saying in the IT field: “If you have to put all your eggs in one basket, then you need to take VERY GOOD CARE of that basket.” So, please take good care of your bank, Hungarian dudes. And don’t let that crook Soros get anywhere near it!
      I think the banking connection is the primary one to Russophobia, and not Jewishness per se, or even Israel. And not just Russophobia – as you point out, these people tried to harm your country as well, even though Western world considers Hungarians to be “good guys”, as opposed to Russians, who are “bad guys”.
      Now, I think we should speak about this openly, without tabus. Within European Jewish diaspora over the centuries, vast majority of Jews were decent working people and intellectuals who contributed to European culture in a massive way that cannot even be calculated. Then there were a handful of bad apples, maybe just a few dozen people, that got into banking. I think there was some historical reason, like Christians weren’t allowed to loan money, but Jews were. Anyhow, one thing led to another, and before you know it, several Jewish families like Rothschilds had become dominant in the field of banking and finance.
      So, in summary, the real problem in the world is not Jews, it is FINANCE CAPITALISM.

      • PvMikhail says:

        Thanks man, I really appreciate that. I was absent partly because I was embarrassed. Maybe it is not a good idea to visit an intellectual blog after a bottle of Stolichnaya, because you may have a negative impact on the prestige of the blog and yourself, and excuse me for that. What can I say?… I was young, I am still just 23🙂
        And now for real… OTP is kinda national bank, as you have mentioned. It was the only savings bank during the communist era (a la USSR’s Gosbank and now Sberbank Rossii), and still it is the biggest competitor on the market simply because average people got used to it. There are every kind of German and other European banks, and they are also significant. However you know, in 2009, when nothing was certain, these banks considered withdraw. So they would have left us in deep sh!t, I think, but maybe I am wrong in light of Greek, Irish and Portuguese scenarios.
        Hungarians as “good guys”… don’t be so sure. That’s because we are weak and they don’t fear us any more. However jews don’t like us at all and this can be noticed when it comes to Hungary’s image abroad. I could point out some facts, but it would be completely offtopic. The cause is still 1944-45 and the actions of Arrow Cross party members, however I don’t see why the whole Hungarian people should take responsibility for that, because they were installed by force on the commands of Hitler.
        Finance Capitalism… yalensis you should watch the documentary called: The light bulb conspiracy (The untold story of planned obsolescence)

        here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmatL75dO3c

        English with Hungarian subtitles, but I think you can search it up with English ones.

        • marknesop says:

          Welcome back, PvMikhail, and I echo Yalensis that we missed you!

        • yalensis says:

          @pvMikhail: Thanks for the link, and, hey, please don’t be embarrassed. Russians of all people are most forgiving when it comes to what happens when a young dude gets hold of a bottle of Stolichnaya. I’m just glad you’re okay, and I do consider you to be an intellectual!
          Anyhow, I hardly think it is fair for anyone to pre-judge Hungarians based on what happened in 1944-45. I mean, seriously, most people in all of Europe, both East and West, supported the Nazis. As an ethnic Russian I hate to say this, but most Europeans considered Russians so primitive and so monstrous that even the Nazis were a lesser evil. (That’s only ‘cause they don’t know us Russians; we’re actually pretty nice people.) Anyhow, you shouldn’t believe any of that bullshit about “la Resistance”, and so on, there was no viable resistance to Nazis, not even in France. It was only after Nazis lost war that Europeans scrambled to rewrite history and pretend they belonged to resistance movements. In France an entire philosophical movement was created (=existentialism) by former Nazi collaborators, now convinced that life is meaningless, so what does it matter what you do or did during the war?
          Worse than Hungarians were the Bulgarians, I love Bulgarians, but, man, they switch sides in a war like a person changes their shirt. Red Army defeated Nazis, true, but there were many collaborators even among Russians. All water under the bridge, dude….

  12. sinotibetan says:

    Dear PvMikhail,

    Hi! Nice to see you again!
    Interesting point about the Jews. I agree that many people that contribute negatively to Eastern Europe are Jewish origin. However, I think these people belong to the so-called super-rich ‘international Jewish’ community and those you mentioned are only some of them. They certainly have a hand in the global economy and I think these influence the world through their ‘influence’ via mainstream mass media as well. Thus, they are not only present in Eastern European states but the rest of the world also.

    The “white nationalists”(WN) claim that the Jews are behind ‘multiculturalism’ and also all kinds of clandestine pernicious designs to destroy ‘white nations’ – something which I of course do not agree with. Yet, it’s true that these Jewish oligarchs are the ones ‘controlling’ the economies of European(and American) states. Do you think there is a ‘racist’ element to their negative impact upon European as the WNs allege or a different reason(s)? I think that it’s not something anchored on racism as the WNs allege but more of their lust for money and wealth that they’ll do anything for their lust for mammon.

    In my country, we the Chinese are quite often viewed negatively because most of us are in the business world like the Jews in Europe. And it’s true that the rich Chinese tycoons (in cahoots with corrupted political elites) ‘control’ the nation’s economy. But most of us average Chinese don’t belong to that group of super-rich Chinese tycoons who sap the nation dry. I think it would be the same in the case of the Jews in Europe?

    sinotibetan

    • PvMikhail says:

      Sorry, I haven’t noticed, that this one came for me…
      So here is my answer. No, I don’t think that Europe hated jews in the past just because they look different or something. It always was in connection with their place in the establishment. They were good at many professions, but their main job was lending or finance in general. Especially in Eastern Europe, together with Germans, they were the first urbanized intellectuals, bourgeoisie, gentries in these mainly agricultural societies. I think the mutual prejudice between locals and jews rooted in the difference of their lifestyles, class and just after this came the different religion, customs and different look (however I am not certain, that how can one decide about anybody’s jewish roots based ONLY on appearance, it is almost impossible, especially if we count in high levels of intermarriage and assimilation).
      I also don’t believe that jews want to destroy white race, as these idiotic WNs think. However there are some individuals between jews who hate every kind of national element of their respective nations and try to destroy national pride of the nation. I can give two explanation: 1. They either fear the every kind of national element in any society, because of the nationalist regimes between the two World Wars. So they support multiculturalism, because this form of society fits them the best, this is the safest system for them. 2. Or they want to take revenge for the “mistreating” by these nations, summarized: for the past. These feelings CAN produce such an extremist people, who unshakeably hate their respective nation and embrace jewish culture, Israel and America as civilized alternatives. I have met with these “journalists”, “politicians” and any kind of people from public life myself many times, speaking about Russia and at Hungary as well.

      • yalensis says:

        @pvMikhail: I think you are correct in your intution that Jewish intellectuals in European diaspora tended to support multi-culturalism which, in those days was called “cosmopolitanism”. This was pre-Israel, of course. (After establishment of Israel in 1948 everything changed, because now European Jews had a homeland to look to, so they stopped being so “internationalist” in outlook.) But pre-Israel, there was a very excellent reason why Jewish intellectuals rooted for anti-nationalist and cosmopolitan ideas within the nations they lived in, I think it was mainly your (1) reason above: Safety and Security. Jews didn’t really feel physically safe in Christian countries, especially if they didn’t have many legal rights, so it was in their interest to root for secularism. Jews wanted to live under legal systems that did not discriminate against them based on religion, so they agitated for separation of Church and State. Hence, Jewish intellectuals were key in the fermenting of the European Enlightenment (along with non-Jews like Voltaire, etc.) These secularist ideas were so powerful that they prevailed for 2 centuries: they were influential in French Revolution, founding of American republican system, and eventually gave birth to internationalist philosophies of socialism and communism.
        Depending on your political ideology, this secularism/multiculturalism/internationalism stuff was either a very good thing or a very bad thing for Europe. Coming from a socialist/communist background myself, I see it as all good. However, there was another strain of thought, culminating in fascism, which felt it was all bad and wanted to root it out and return to a more medievalist system with Christianity as the state religion. For example, German Nazi hierarchy was very much in cahoots with Catholic Church.
        And, believe it or not, this battle of ideas still goes on in Europe today, although Jews as a people are not really as involved in this fight any more, now that they have their own country to worry about. So now they just get blamed for being international hedge-fund crooks, and it is a valid complaint.

        • PvMikhail says:

          I can cite loads of articles like this, however she is the empress of idiocy:

          http://mynabat.org/novod1.html

          idiotic, biased, nothing to do with reality

          • yalensis says:

            Oi veh! Thanks for making me cringe with pity for the human race. I think the correct Jewish word for this lady would be “meshugana” ?

        • sinotibetan says:

          Dear yalensis,

          1.)”Depending on your political ideology, this secularism/multiculturalism/internationalism stuff was either a very good thing or a very bad thing for Europe.”
          a.) I don’t believe in ‘secularism’ in the sense that not only the Government is ‘secular’ but that the whole of society is to BECOME secular. That, to me , is similar to totalitarianism as well because all must believe in the idea/dogma of secularism. In that sense, secularists are no different from Nazis or fanatical religionists be they ‘Christian’, Hindu fundamentalists or Muslim Jihadists. That said, I think that governments should not subscribe to ANY ideology/religion. Secular government. Not SECULARIST Government(which means it adheres to secularism).
          b.) Multiculturalism – I’ve always been against this as a ‘MUST’ for every nation. Somehow any ‘monocultural’ nation like Japan(who has always been ‘adviced’ to follow the lead of multicultural America by Western think-tanks and ‘advisers’) would be viewed as ‘Stone Age’ by ‘enlightened’ Western intellectuals and the ‘monocultural’ nature had always been ‘blamed’ for anything negative in Japan. At least the chances of Japan experiencing racial riots would be non-existent unlike the USA or my country even. National cohesion and integration – something they possess which multicultural nations can only try and try but forever remain evasive. I just can’t stand people who say superlatives about ‘going multicultural’ but never its bad points. It’s not all good. Some good points, some bad points. To me the bad points outweigh the good. Hence, my position: monocultural – better to REMAIN that way; multicultural – MAINTAIN STATUS QUO, don’t make it beyond the ability to ‘control’ /compromise national integrity by having massive, uncontrolled migration policies. So—open borders to me is an unthinking illogic.
          c.) I think ‘internationalism’ is inevitable. Has good and bad points as well. But nations cannot live in isolation. So, despite the problems that come with internationalism, we are not to ’embrace’ it as a tenet but accept it as a reality.

          2.)”However, there was another strain of thought, culminating in fascism, which felt it was all bad and wanted to root it out and return to a more medievalist system with Christianity as the state religion. For example, German Nazi hierarchy was very much in cahoots with Catholic Church.”
          True, the Catholic Church was in cahoots with the Nazis. No doubt about it. However, it should not be thought of that fascism arise ONLY in religious-oriented or racist-oriented ‘ideologies’ which you are implying. There are communist-leaning regimes which were /evolved to totalitarian and fascists:-
          a.)The ‘Khmer Rouge'(Khmer Communist Party) in Cambodia. They hated anyone suspected to have ‘free market ideas’ and thus massacred almost 1.5 million people suspected to be ‘free marketeers’ i.e. any ‘suspected capitalists’ such as professionals, urban dwellers, Vietnamese(the most hated), Chinese, anyone ‘connected’ to foreign governments, and as I was told by someone ‘if you wear a pair of spectacles’. The KCP was heavily influenced by the French Communist Party. They ‘evolved’ from traditional Marxism to their own brand of ‘communism’ in which a completely agrarian society Utopia devoid of ANY intellectuals is to be the aim. Their motto regarding suspected capitalists and intellectuals is this : “To keep you is no gain, to kill you is no loss”. Executed victims need to buy their own bullets(or else, their relatives have to buy them) for their own execution so as ‘not to waste the people’s money’.
          b.) Maoism. Mao and his mad obsession with obliterating Chinese culture in the ‘Cultural Revolution’. As usual, the targets were the intellectuals. At least 1 million people died in these ‘purges’.

          As Mark remarked earlier in his post:-
          “Fanatics are an evil breed
          Whom decent men should shun;”
          A fanatical leftist is as dangerous as a far-right fanatic. Secularist fanatics can be as dangerous as religious fanatics. Human nature!

          sinotibetan

          • yalensis says:

            @SinoTibetan: Hello, friend, as usual you make a lot of good points.
            From reading your comments, I think we are mostly in agreement on the definition of “secularism”: What I support is the idea that the consitution of a modern state should NOT be based on a particular religion (e.g., shariah law or Christianity). The government should not have an official religion. I agree with that you that it is also not necessary for the government to promote secularism or atheism, because when government promotes something that smacks of coercion. I guess is best if the government simply remains neutral and lets people debate ideas in the civic space.
            On Khmer Rouge: Yes, I agree totally. As a socialist myself I have to completely distance myself from those murderers. I don’t even regard them as socialists/communists, because of their “agrarian utopia” ideology (which is a bit reminiscent of Mao’s Cultural Revolution), and because of their hatred of intellectuals. Real commies value intellectuals. Also, real Marxists tend to dislike peasants and love industrial proletariat. Recall Marx and Engels dismissive comment about “the idiocy of rural life” ! They believed people got smarter when they moved to cities.

      • sinotibetan says:

        Dear PvMikhail.

        Thanks for your reply! Sorry for this late comment.

        I think I agree with both explanations given and probably for some Jews, BOTH reasons apply to them at the same time!

        I myself have ‘felt’ the similar maltreatment on and off by racist individuals in my country – an experience similar to the Jews in Europe prior to WW2. The Chinese diaspora in South East Asia have some striking similarities with the situation of the Jews at that time. They are mostly intellectuals, many are involved in the business world and banking – these partly belong to the ‘elite’ class. Of course, most of us are just ‘average Joes’ but if one looks at Indonesia, the super-rich are Indonesian Chinese – the same with my country, Malaysia, as well. Even in neighbouring Thailand, not only do they control the economy – even the top politicians are controlled by the Thai-Chinese – the current Prime Minister of Thailand, Yingluck(sister of Thaksin) is of Thai-Chinese extraction. Like the Jews, the native populations’ sentiment towards them range from apathy/no sentiment to obvious hatred/resentment/(perhaps, envy?). Hence, the periodic racial riots in Indonesia and in my country – a potential racial riot is ALWAYS on the brink. We just need a spark to start the violence and rapes….

        Which to me, seems pretty weird that some of these Jews, due to their experience of racism, resort to an embrace of multiculturalism whereas I went the OTHER direction, a distaste for multiculturalism. For me, I do not wish for ANYONE to experience the racism I experienced. I think we humans can NEVER get rid of racists until there is a change IN human nature which I don’t believe will evolve into something nobler like some people believe. Suffice that we – if we happen to live in multicultural societies – try our best to reduce tensions amongst the various ethnic groups in our respective societies. We should not try to make it worse by embracing ‘multiculturalism’ as part of an ideological agenda. Controlled immigration, not an open gate for any Tom, Dick and Harry.

        sinotibetan

        • yalensis says:

          @SinoTibetan: Hello again! That was a fascinating remark, comparing role of Jews in Europe with Chinese in Asia. I guess that proves that roles (in this case, running the banking systems) are situational, not genetic. For example, anti-Semites who sneer, “Oh, Jews are just good with money”, should also add, “And Chinese are good with money too.”
          It is interesting to me that you found yourself to be in this role as outsider in your culture and it made you a mono-culturalist. I am trying to understand the psychology behind this, but I cannot. It makes more sense to me that the outsider (for example, the Jew in Europe) would try to promote tolerance and multi-culturalism within his environment. (As in: “Hey folks, let’s all get along, so please tolerate ME!”) This is human nature. It is also human nature (sadly) that when that same Jew gets his own country (=Israel), he now suddenly turns into a monoculturalist and starts hating the outsider (=the Arab).
          But why would the outsider not promote his own interests as an outsider? That is what does not make sense to me, and I hope you will explain more.

          • sinotibetan says:

            Dear yalensis,

            Than you for your comments!
            It’s not easy for me to explain the ‘psychology’ behind my thoughts on racial relations but I’ll try my best.
            1.)”it made you a mono-culturalist”
            I cannot really say I am a ‘monoculturalist’ though. I think that, let’s say a whole formerly monocultural nation collectively thinks that they want to be multicultural and UNDERSTOOD the pros and cons of becoming one, then it’s up to them. If they want to remain monocultural, also it’s up to them. Saying I am a ‘monoculturalist’ is akin to saying that my belief is ALL nations should be monocultural just like a ‘multiculturalist’ is one who insists ALL nations MUST be multicultural. There’s no right and wrong in a moral or ethical sense to this, in my opinion. However, I felt that some ‘multiculturalists’ promote this idea that not only it is ‘all good’ but to ‘remain monocultural’ is akin to being racist and immoral. I find that allegation baseless. In other words, there should be NO ‘propaganda’ to promote either ‘multiculturalism’ or ‘monoculturalism’ even though I think monoculturalism is better in a PRACTICAL sense.

            2.)”It makes more sense to me that the outsider (for example, the Jew in Europe) would try to promote tolerance and multi-culturalism within his environment.”
            It’s so hard for me to explain! A rather tortured psychology of mine…thanks to ‘multiculturalism’! Perhaps some background of where I come from:-
            a.)Malaysia became ‘multicultural’ not by the choice of the majority indigenous population, i.e. the Malays. When the European colonials came, they viewed the natives as too laid back and ‘less industrious’ than other ethnic groups like the Indians and Chinese. First came the Portugese and then the Dutch and finally the British. I think the ‘legacy’ of British rule is longer lasting than the earlier European powers – one of which included the ‘import’ of migrants from the Indian subcontinent and the southern Chinese from Fujian and Guangdong- certainly to develop the ‘virgin’ and ‘untapped’ resources like tin-mining and rubber for the British Empire. Certainly the Malays, being a subjected people, had NO say(or not much say, except their local Sultans who were despots who cared nothing much for their subjects nor were they capable of thinking the consequences of all these things) in this. So, that’s how my ancestors ended up here and that’s how I end up here. They were , in the modern sense, ‘economic migrants’ and their allegiance was never with Malaysia but with China. Until WW2, the Japanese independence, China went under Communist Mao(most Chinese here were pro-Kuomintang) , we became an independent state and most Chinese made the choice of Malaysian citizenship than going back to China under Mao. The ‘multiculturalism’ we now have, thus, was not something any of us wanted but a ‘byproduct’ of our history. In some ways, I can understand and emphatize with the negative sentiments of some Malays towards us. Under the British, most of the entrepreneurs, businesses, civil servants, intellectuals, professionals(i.e. those deemed as ‘elite’/’having material success’) etc. were controlled by the Chinese and Indians whereas the Malays were ‘given’ political power and till today they hold the reins of political power. In 1957(independence), the Malays to non-Malays ratio was about 1:1 and there was much insecurity amongst the Malays. So, they crafted within the constitution , something to guarantee … an ‘extra rights’ of the Malays over non-Malays – ‘hak keistimewaan orang Melayu'(‘Special Rights of the Malays’). Hence, our prime minister must ALWAYS be a Malay, for example. During 1969, a racial riot occurred in which more racist politicians came into power. These led to the -so-called NEPs(New Economic Policies) which was a racialist-socialist hybrid – a restructuring of Malaysian society so that there would be ‘equality’ amongst the races as it seemed that the non-Malays had ‘material success’ whereas the Malays were ‘backward’ in agrarian villages and this was touted as the ‘main reason’ for the 1969 massacres. Henceforth, racist policies became Government policy. Many special concessions were given to the Malays(called ‘Bumiputera'[literally meaning ‘Prince of the Earth’]rights) – such as a different pricing in buying properties(i.e. lower for Bumis), ethnic quotas for higher education – especially ‘professional courses’ like medicine, law and engineering(i.e. less public university place/seats for non-Malays ‘based on racial proportion’), special preferences for Malays into the civil services(including promotions), Malay land-ownership regulations and during the Mahathir era , the evolution of the concept of “Ketuanan Melayu'(the “Lordship’ of the Malays) and many others. Although outwardly the policy was supposed to be ‘maintenance of multicultural society’, the concept of ‘Bangsa Malaysia'(“Malaysian Race”) was promulgated which was practically ASSIMILATIONIST. Islam is the state religion and being Malay means being Muslim. In my country, it is ILLEGAL to proselyte Malays from Islam to other faiths, punishable by law. But it is part of Government programme to Islamize the rest of us and encourage Sino-Malay interracial marriages, for example, because that would mean assimilation of the Chinese into the Malay ethnos. This is done via the local film industry and ‘documentaries’ to encourage such assimilation together with ‘dakwah'(Islamic proselytizing) with mixed success. Whatever it is, these policies lead to the rise of a Malay elite class clashing with the non-elite Malays – the elites continue to use these race-based policies to maintain their grip on power and corruption. In spite of these, the Chinese elites maintain their grip on the businesses and part of the economy by their collusion with the corrupt Malay political elites. The majority of the Chinese however, are a dispossessed lot who are certainly resentful of the situation and I am sure many of them harbour racist feelings towards the Malays and vice versa.
            Unspoken, but the tension is ‘always in the air’.

            b.) So, that’s the ‘background’. For me, I think ‘human nature’ is the root of problems in all human relations – and something that’s intrinsically part of us and not really changeable for the most part of humanity. A ‘multicultural’ society- especially composed of disparate people with VERY DIFFERENT cultures like the Chinese and Malays, and VERY DIFFERENT outlook and physical appearances(I think most human beings are ‘shallow’) – is thus a difficult-to-manage and potentially destructive ‘mix’. Practically, it’s NOT desirable. But we are already multicultural due to our history. So how do we go about this? My thoughts are:-
            i.) Assimilation or maintain status quo(i.e. remain ‘multicultural’). As someone who is very conscious of ‘being Chinese’, assimilation is out of the question for me. And this is true with most Malaysian Chinese. We are too different from the Malays in terms of culture and outlook. We don’t want to ‘become Malay’. What about forming a ‘new nation’ – ‘bangsa Malaysia'(“Malaysian race’) – again what does one mean by that? Does it mean a ‘hybrid ethnocultural group’? This may not be accepted by the Malays, Chinese, Indians and other ethnic groups also…because then they will ask: so Malay is predominant in that mix or what, what about our Malay identity etc? Also it means ‘loss of ethnic identity’ – so that remains unpalatable for many. The other option is for all migrant-origin people to go back to our ‘motherland’ – but we are too different from the Indians in India or Chinese in China to be able to accept that. Or go off to the ‘migrant accepting’ Western nations – but many feel we will also ‘lose our identities’ there. So, the only option left is to remain multicultural. Unlike a ‘multiculturalist’ who feels ALL nations MUST be like that, we are multicultural because REALITY is like that. It’s nothing to feel great about, for me. I am against PROMOTING multiculturality.
            ii.)I feel that, since the Malays are the predominant ethnic group and the ‘host nation’ – I(in contradistinction with many racist Chinese in my country) think that all Malaysians, regardless of origins, must know the Malay language(btw, I speak very fluent Malay) and agree that the predominant culture of the land will be Malay culture. The non-Malays, however, will be allowed to retain their own cultures and identities and speak their own mother-tongues. It is that way now, anyhow.
            iii.)Race-based politics have no basis and must be abolished. As for Islam(or any religion for that matter) – I don’t agree it should be a state religion. Government should be secular and no race-based or religion-based ideologies are to be accepted. This is a sticky issue in my country because of the rise of pro-Islamist sentiments amongst some Malay intellectuals. I.e. they want the shariah law and hudud law to be put place. Perhaps, my negative experience of Islamic practices here led me to read more on Islam because I wondered if those practices have any basis. Unfortunately, for a predominantly Islamic country like Malaysia, there is actually basis in Islam to enforce this ‘theocratic ideal’.

            I hope this helps in understanding why I don’t agree with PROMOTING any form of multicultural society. Suffice that we try to get along in our ALREADY multicultural society. We have our headaches and will continue to have them. I don’t see any PRACTICAL reason to promote this type of society in an ALREADY monocultural one.
            My negative views of Islam has basis not only in the heady Quranic and Hadith verses but my own day-to-day life. I must say that MOST Muslims in Malaysia are quite moderate and many are nice people. Unfortunately, there are some who are radicals and many more are becoming even more chauvinistic. That’s why I don’t think Western nations allowing too many Muslims into their country is a good idea. It’s nothing to do with being racist. It’s being REALISTIC. See what’s going on! Be SELECTIVE in migrants! BTW, I am not for zero immigration or even zero Muslim immigration but strict immigration policies. Migrants must be prepared to compromise and respect and at least ‘partially integrate’ with their host nations which means they cannot be demanding everything according to their wishes. These are my views.

            sinotibetan

            • sinotibetan says:

              err…sorry: not Japanese independence: Japanese Occupation.

              sinotibetan

            • yalensis says:

              @Sinotibetan: Thank you for fascinating discussion of situation in your country! That gives me much more background of your situation and views. Sounds like there is a lot of conflict and potential for turmoil.
              From Sublime to Ridiculous: I just saw your question above about that comic movie mocking the Bible, so I must reply to that. This film is an American oeuvre called Year One, starring Jack Black as the hero, Zed. This movie made me laugh my ass off; although I am sure you would not enjoy it because, sure enough, it does have a humorous/mocking attitude toward many Biblical figures. Abraham gets the brunt of it, he comes off as a nutcase who wants to murder his own son (a game called “Cutty Cutty Burny Burny”), cut everybody’s penises off, and claims to own way more land than he actually has, due to some imaginary real estate deal with Jahweh.
              The young actor who plays Isaac is not Brad Pitt, it is some guy I never heard of named Christopher Mintz-Plasse. He is really funny. In one scene he and his teenage friends sneak into Sodom (because that’s where all the wild parties are). The two heroes also end up in the “twin cities” of Sodom Gomorrha, where they meet a lot of interesting people and have many adventures. In the end, Zed ends up becoming the (temporary) ruler of Sodom, and he gets to address the crowd and deliver a speech starting with “Fellow Sodomites…” I challenge anybody to watch this and not laugh their ass off.
              A friend of mine who is a fellow atheist told me about the film, otherwise I never would have heard of it. The writers (who are all Hollywood Jews, naturally) are clearly irreverent towards the Bible. Well, thank goodness that freedom of speech is still alive, at least in Hollywood. I cannot even imagine a movie like being produced in modern-day Russia, due to increasing influence of Orthodox Church.
              P.S. There is no Ishmael in the movie, but the actor who plays Cain is a hysterically funny bad guy.

              • sinotibetan says:

                Dear yalensis,

                Thanks for the comments. Yeah, my country is in pretty bad shape and I don’t usually talk much about it actually because all seems quite hopeless.

                As for the movie…thanks for the link to wikipedia and the storyline.
                You’re right that I’ll probably not see it(as for whether I’ll ‘enjoy’ it – well, I’m human , so I might still laugh at the base jokes and feel guilty later…) haha.

                This “Christopher Mintz-Plasse” doesn’t look like Brad Pitt at all, without those whiskers…

                “The writers (who are all Hollywood Jews, naturally) are clearly irreverent towards the Bible.”
                Which actually is really fascinating. I mean, the Bible authors were all Jews. The Bible is thus a Jewish legacy. Abraham, Isaac and many of those characters mocked in the farcical movie were at least purported to be their ancestors. Humans don’t usually make fun or debunk of their ancestors. And yet some of the world’s most influential atheists, agnostics, Bible-debunkers and ‘simply wanna to have fun by being irreverent’ people were/are Jews. Why do you think this is so? Perhaps some(or is it many?) Jews blame the legacy of the Bible for their misfortunes? Or that some, feeling that Yahweh punished them(the Jews as a people) for not following His commandments, actually hate their own God?
                What do you think?

                Regarding Foppe’s link on Marxism – I have to wait till December or early next year to start listening to them as I’ll be awfully busy the next few months.

                sinotibetan

              • marknesop says:

                About the only film in which Jack Black is not funny at all (when he’s apparently trying to be) is Nacho Libre. I thought that was just dumb, more slapstick than anything else. But he certainly has a talent for comedy. He’s also a really good singer; his cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On” in the flick High Fidelity is pretty much the best I’ve heard from anyone, especially from a white man.

                Coincidentally enough, Jack Black is also Jewish.

                • yalensis says:

                  “Coincidentally enough, Jack Black is also Jewish.”
                  Of course he is.

                  To answer SinoTibetan’s question as to why Jews would mock their own ancestors, I think the best answer is: “Because they can.” Isn’t it human nature to laugh at sacred cows? “The Emperor has no clothes…” and so on.
                  Unfortunately, in most nations on this planet, such mockery will buy you a one-way ticket to a torture chamber. Just ponder on what happens and has happened to people who make fun of Mohammad, even somethinig as innocent as a cartoon. The Jews are not like that, which is one of the reasons I like Jews.

                • yalensis says:

                  Oooo ooooo! After posting that last remark, I just thought of a completely different and more plausible answer to SinoTibetan’s question, “Why do Jews mock their own ancestors?”
                  If you watch that clip from the film, the 2 heroes are quite appalled by the idea of cutting off the tips of their penises. (One character laments, “The tip is the best part.”) They are so horrified that they run away from Abraham and his crazy knives. Now, given that the writers of this comedy (and some of the actors) are Jewish, it goes without saying that they have all been circumsized as babies. Subconsciously they remember the pain and horror of that moment. Hence, the Freudian explanation is that they mourn the loss of their foreskins and resent the ancestors who deprived them of this pleasure center. Pretty good analysis, no?

                • marknesop says:

                  Why do you think circumcision is performed in infancy, when you’ve got nothing to say about it because even if your opinion mattered, you couldn’t express it?

                  My stepfather had to have circumcision performed, owing to a related complication, when he was in his late 40’s. Not only did it appear to be a thoroughly unenjoyable experience from my vicarious viewpoint, it took a long time to heal; during which jerky muscle reactions (such as those which occur when you laugh, for example) appeared to cause noticeable pain. I blessed my parents for having it done ( recommended in Canada at the time I was born for sanitary reasons: I’m not Jewish) when I was too little to remember anything of it.

                  I mentioned that Jack Black was Jewish just as an illustration, for those who believe Jews are the source of all the world’s ills and that the world would be a better place without them, how many talented and essentially apolitical people would disappear if they were to get their wish. I’m not singling out anyone in particular among the commenters, since nobody I know has actually suggested all the Jews should disappear, but it’s hardly an unexpressed sentiment in general.

                • yalensis says:

                  @mark: Quick note on circumcision, I believe modern medicine is increasingly turning against the idea that it should be automatically done on male infants, regardless of ethnicity. For Jews it is obviously a ritual necessity, but for non-Jews there is really no good reason to do it. Hygiene is cited, but that reasoning has been refuted: Keeping foreskin clean is no different than cleaning one’s ears and armpits, etc. Sorry to get gross, but there is also a very good reason for a man to keep his foreskin: Studies show that he has better sex, because penis rubs against its own shaft, so man does not need to thrust as hard inside vagina to achieve orgasm. So, more comfortable for the ladies too. Sorry to be so graphic, I realize this is not supposed to be X-rated blog,.

                • marknesop says:

                  Yes, social mores have changed since I was a baby, and it was the recommended procedure then – not necessarily so now. In my stepfather’s case, the foreskin began to grow together at the end and it had to be removed; I imagine this is a rare complication, and keeping it is likely worth the risk.

                  You should write childrens’ books.

  13. sinotibetan says:

    Off tangent thingy…
    Just as yalensis’s interest is Libya, mine is Putin vs Medvedev….
    Comments on this?
    http://www.sys-con.com/node/1960452

    sinotibetan

    • marknesop says:

      This is exciting; it brings me a step closer to winning my bet with Patrick Armstrong (I said Putin will be the candidate), and even though he didn’t exactly agree it was a wager, I’m sure he can afford to buy me a drink if we ever meet. I’d even buy my own drink for the privilege. Seriously, it’s surprising how strongly the trend has swerved in favour of Putin just as soon as most of the major Russia-watching community committed to it being Medvedev.

      I strongly agree Putin is a “charismatic” leader, and that Russia has enjoyed the best of economic circumstances that could practically be achieved under Putin. However, the Russophobic elements in the west’s policymaking apparatus despise him. If Putin were to run and win – a foregone conclusion unless some super-charismatic Communist (almost an oxymoron) or a liberal who can conceal his/her liberalness emerges – the west would be pissy about it and would undoubtedly express its disappointment by placing as many stumbling blocks as it could think of in Putin’s path. You could expect some new human-rights concerns or a manufactured financial scandal to derail Russia’s WTO acceptance yet again, possibly “discovered” by Georgia (might as well remind the world that Saakashvili wants to be in NATO, and kill two birds with one stone). But as long as the west remains a petroleum-dominated energy economy, it must grudgingly acknowledge it cannot be a power player in the market without validating and, to some extent, enabling the world’s largest energy producer.

      Thanks for an interesting article and discussion point!

    • yalensis says:

      Thanks for link, Sinotibetan! My interest in Libya is actually connected to your interest in Putin vs. Medvedev. At the risk of annoying Anatoly, I will quickly summarize the connection, which exists within my deeply paranoid brain:
      I believe there is a good chance that the West (America, Europe, NATO) will be very sad if Putin is elected prez of Russia. I believe they will be so sad (recall Joe Biden’s comment to Boris Nemtsov that “the Russian people are tired of Putin, they want a different choice…”) that they may even try to remove him from power same way they did Gaddafy. Starting with a propaganda blast, followed by sanctions, freezing assets in western banks, egging on opposition, etc. I do concede it is ridiculous to imagine Novodvorskaya waddling into Red Square carrying shoulder-launched rocket to face off with Putin. However, there are always others, angry young men, that can be found. In case of Libya, they started with only a ragtag force of a couple of thousand jihadists and disgruntled tribesmen, and in the end these chattering monkeys took Tripoli. (With a LOT of help from NATO bombers, Qatari weapons and officers, and American special ops.) A Russian equivalent of these chattering monkeys could be found. Enuff said.
      Anyhow, I don’t see the scenario as completely farfetched, although I do not necessarily see it as imminent either. I think Venezuela is actually next on NATO’s hitlist, with Russia a bit further down the pike. (Which is a blessing, because that gives Russia more time to plan and prepare.)
      In summary: Russians should vote for Putin in order to stick it to the West. And then brace themselves for the propaganda blast to come!

      • sinotibetan says:

        Dear Mark and yalensis,

        1.)”Seriously, it’s surprising how strongly the trend has swerved in favour of Putin just as soon as most of the major Russia-watching community committed to it being Medvedev.”
        Actually, I am still not sure whether it will be Putin or Medvedev who’s going to be the presidential candidate. It all seems rather confusing and ‘opaque’ to me such that I dare not make any bets. Of course, I(like yalensis) hope it’ll be Putin. I just feel that Russia, at the moment, needs a strong person to lead….Medvedev is like jelly to me – easily manipulated by the West. Russia needs the breathing space of peace for a few decades without anymore nonsensical ‘experiments’ of the 1990s style which I think Medvedev would not be able to control from amongst his cadres of ‘salivating for profits’ ‘civiliki’.

        2.) I think the Western nations are bracing for a POSSIBILITY of a Putin Presidency. That’s why Cameron is hoping to meet Putin as well, ‘just in case’. I agree with Mark – they will have no choice but to ‘have a deal’ with Putin(if he assumes the Presidency) but as usual tonnes of ‘Putin is the New Stalin and anti-human-rights Sauron’ type articles will spew out from Western media.

        3.)Yalensis, Russia under Putin would probably have less chance of being shattered the way you put it as under Medvedev. Medvedev would probably purge all siloviki types and bring up the civiliki and possibly ‘liberals’. That’s like saying to Washington ‘you can now eat me up!’ and they in Washington will do EXACTLY that. If that happens, I fear, Russia is doomed as she cannot afford another 1990s.

        sinotibetan

  14. PvMikhail says:

    People, I have read some interesting news today. I remember, when earlier this year Mark pointed out the opportunities of a deal, which was announced as “almost ready” between BP and Rosneft back then. However as you probably know, TNK-BP’s “Russian” side, AAR (Friedman, Aven, Khan, Vekselberg, Blavatnik – Alfa-Access-Renova) made the deal impossible to finish. If I remember correctly the Russian state made some offer to buy out their side in the company, but they refused. Many analysts said back then, that this shows how badly the state needs foreign partners. I think Russia hasn’t been too neurotic about the issue… In this context:

    http://en.rian.ru/business/20110830/166306227.html

    What do you think? They say Exxon made a better offer for cooperation…
    I am not a big fan of Exxon otherwise…

    • marknesop says:

      I’m not a big fan of Exxon, either, but there’s no pervasive Huge Oil Companies Lobby that screams the place down if you say you dislike an oil company because they’re an oil company, so I think we’re safe.

      It sounds like a good deal, and for the same money the ROSNEFT/BP deal would have brought in, so I guess everybody’s happy. But I note the State is retaining a controlling interest – naturally – and the cynic in me says Exxon will be maneuvering behind the scenes to try and gain a more favourable share ownership (although perhaps not so fraudelently as Browder), while constantly bitching that the Russian government’s antiquated rules and business practices won’t let them make a decent profit.

  15. yalensis says:

    On Libya:
    Next major battle looms in a couple of days: Libyan rebels have given the people of Sirte until Saturday to either surrender or be liberated forcefully by NATO freedom bombs.
    According to this Reuters article Sirte “was developed into a prosperous city of 100,000 during the 42 years Gaddafi ruled Libya.” All of that is about to change. The tribal elders of Sirte have refused to surrender to rebel commander Abdul Hakim Belhadj (aka Abu Abdallah al-Sadek), who happens to be a bona fide ranking emir within the Al Qaeda organization chart.
    Meanwhile, Al Qaeda militias have been ethnically cleansing cities and towns of non-Arabs:
    “At Tawarga, where anti-Gaddafi forces are dug in and readying an assault on Sirte to the east, most of the residents were black African rather than Arab in origin and have recently fled — apparently in fear of reprisals by fighters from the city of Misrata who see Tawarga as a pro-Gaddafi town.”

    Here’s another interesting article on how on how this ragtag Al Qaeda-led militia defeated the Libyan army in Tripoli. Emir Belhaj is old enough to have also fought against Soviet army in Afghanistan. This article supports my hunch that NATO is using same bag of tricks in Libya that Americans previously perfected in Afghanistan 2-3 decades ago, i.e., using Islamist mujahadeen against regular-type army and government. (And then again in Kosovo.) Same trick works every time.
    End result: Al Qaeda is now poised to come to power in Libya, with all its oil and wealth.
    (NOTE: I don’t necessarily believe that NATO wants Al Qaeda to come to power in Libya. They probably think they are just “using” Al Qaeda foot soldiers as cannon fodder to a more glorious end. And Al Qaeda probably thinks they are just “using” NATO as useful idiots who happen to have bombs and drones. Each side thinks they are just using the other.)

    • marknesop says:

      Your take on it was borne out by a “suggestion” (hey, here’s a wild idea, Abu; see what you think – you don’t have to say yes right away, I’m just puttin’ it out there) that NATO stick around to “patrol the skies” after everything is over, and that the no-fly zone would continue in force. Pretty soon they’d need a base from which to operate so as to conserve fuel, which would need its own security, which would…you get the picture.

      Surprisingly, the suggestion was rebuffed by the rebel “administration”. I would have thought that was something that had been ironed out as a condition for NATO’s enthusiastic protection of civilians. Maybe that’s what NATO thought, too.

      • yalensis says:

        Yes, absolutely, Mark, these so-called rebels possess a chutzpah to the N’th degree. From Day 1, even before they had ever won a single battle, they were calling the shots and making all kinds of demands of the Western powers: “You MUST do this for us, you MUST do this NOW…” They were like the pet cat who rules the mansion. Now that they have won, they’re, like, “Thanks for your help, NATO, but we don’t need you any more. Don’t let the door slam you in the ass on your way out…. Okay, okay, we’ll give you half our oil, but please just leave us alone so we can implement shariah law and go crazy with our vengeance killings….”
        I have been masochistically torturing myself in recent weeks by following their pro-rebel English-language blogs on Al Jazeera, and I got a pretty good feel how these people think and what they want. They always possessed this eerie confidence, like they always knew they were going to win, even before that was a foregone conclusion, and that the whole world owes them bigtime for their awesomeness. As a Russian, I am, of course, highly disturbed that the new powers-that-be in Libya are virulently anti-Russian. No matter how much Medvedev scrambles to appease them now, these folks will never forgive Russia for slightly hedging her bets and not recognizing their bogus government from Day 1. One Russian commenter on INOSMI remarked gloomily that we should expect to see some of these Libyan jihadists showing up in the Caucasus soon. A scary thought, given that there are around 50,000 of them now, and they have just been through a quite ferocious 6-month bootcamp to turn them into super-warriors. The Russian concern is that if NATO slash Saudi Arabia now decides it is time for “regime change” in, say, Chechnya, then they have their brand new robot army all trained, armed, fired up and ready to go.
        Sidebar: Yesterday Hillary Clinton was in the news, at the Libya Paris conference, bleating ineffectually about how the Libyan rebels must now turn in their kalashnikovs, build a parliamentary democracy, and be sure to respect the rights of women. As if!

        • marknesop says:

          You know, I once thought Hillary Clinton was going to make an awesome SecState – steeped in political culture and experience like some kind of democratic-insider teabag. I could not have been more wrong: she’s terrible. Her speeches sound like someone phoned them in to her about 10 minutes before she makes them, and are so boringly predictable they could put bricks to sleep. There’s none of the fiery idealism I expected, and she just sounds shrewish and screechy. Even Condi Rice had more presence – at least she had body language going for her. Look at her standing next to Saakashvili while he’s holding his presser and blubbering about how the west is to blame for not jumping on the shell-Tskhkinvali bandwagon. She’s not saying anything, but her posture and facial expression make her look like a malevolent troll – I hope she didn’t drive past any dairies on her way to the conference, because she would have soured every drop of milk in the place. Hillary Clinton looks like she wandered into a Weetabix commercial by mistake: wholesome, but confused and compensating with a dose of self-righteous finger-wagging.

          • Foppe says:

            Yeah, Obama has very successfully neutralized that former senator.

          • yalensis says:

            @mark: I deduce that you have this secret crush on Hillary Clinton, so I have to show you this . I know it’s a cheap shot, but you have to click on this link and see the photo of her in St. Theresa “assumption into orgasmic heaven” mode.
            In other Libya news: here is more information about Libyan rebel commander Abdelhakim Belhaj . Summary of recent biography:
            Belhaj, who is now 45 years old, in his youth fought against Soviets in Afghanistan as a mujahadeen soldier. Years later he became a leader of the LIFG (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group), which has links to Al Qaeda and theTaliban. In this capacity he fought against Americans in Afghanistan after 9/11 attack:
            ”The LIFG staged three attempts to assassinate Colonel Gaddafi in 1995 and 1996 before it was disbanded in 1998. Mr Belhaj spent time in Abu Salim prison after being captured in Malaysia in 2004 and returned to Libya, after his second stint of fighting in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks in the US.”
            Belhaj claims to have been tortured by the CIA in Malaysia in 2004, but says he doesn’t hold a grudge. After torturing him, CIA rendered him back to his homeland, Libya, where he got tortured again, this time by Colonel Gaddafi’s secret police. (Against whom he DOES hold a grudge.) He was sentenced to death; however, in 2010 Gaddafi freed him as part of a “Clemency for Jihadists” program.
            Eventually Belhaj and his LIFG militia overthrew Gaddafy and now are in control in Tripoli.

            • marknesop says:

              Yes, I saw that article, and I must admit the swooning expression on her face did kind of make me laugh a little. Still, we don’t know the context of the photo or even if it is a file photo taken under entirely different circumstances. Photos are like sound bites, and we all know the sound bite is king. If the media chooses, they can run just one little clip from your speech and make it sound like you took a completely different position to the one you did, and those who didn’t see the speech in its entirety will believe the impression they took away from the clip. Let’s recall, just a few years ago favourable media coverage briefly made Fred Thompson the front-runner for the Republican nomination. When not speaking entirely in folksy aphorisms he appeared to have learned from the Jubilation T. Cornpone Guide to Talking Like a Philosopher Hick, Mr. Thompson exhibited not the faintest glimmer of understanding of what the President does or is responsible for. While I don’t care for Mrs. Clinton at all – as you seem to have guessed – no discussion of her performance would be complete without the realization that the media is largely responsible for her image, and some of them appear to not like her much, either.

              I have to say I’m less impressed with Obama’s foreign policy chops as time goes on. Yes, he did – allegedly – kill bin Laden, and that on balance is a good thing. He’s had some other successes as well, and in the beginning of his term he entirely turned around the world’s image of America from one where quite a significant majority would mutter darkly and spit on the ground whenever the word “America” came up in conversation. But more recently he’s backed a series of loser plays that make one wonder where he earned his reputation as a smart guy. Granted, the press tends to paint things in black and white, and if you don’t fight against Ghaddafi you must support him, but Obama is supposed to be able to outmaneuver characterizations like that. An obvious disconnect is backing Islamic militants in their attempts to overthrow their non-sectarian government, while taking criticism from room-temperature-IQ types like Joe Lieberman that he’s too much of a pussy about calling America’s enemy by its real name – Islamic Fundamentalism. Ummm…Joe? They’re not the enemy any more. Now they’re your military ally. Try to stay with the tour, how about?

              Put me down for this will not end well. Maybe it was an experiment, a natural progression from the disaster in Kosovo whereby NATO now wants to continue using air power, but recognizes it must run such a war in conjunction with ground operations and wants to see what happens if you use some other country’s “soldiers”. But there’s just no way to reconcile the differences between fundamentalist theocratic leadership on one hand and beer and hot dogs values on the other. The rebels are not interested in becoming Americans, although they do appear interested in business. But thus far their interest in being guided by the west seems much lower than I had anticipated. In any case, it’s hard to make an argument that what has happened in Libya is a step forward rather than a step back, and much of the euphoria seems to be that it is turning into a military victory for the west rather than the embarrassing fizzle it once looked like.

              • yalensis says:

                There is no doubt Libya is an astounding military victory for NATO, it is proof of concept that they can induce regime-change in any nation they please without committing their own ground troops. Only catch is that they need to rely on local insurgents to be the foot soldiers. In this case they found their foot soldiers in Al Qaeda revolutionary cells who, it turns out, had been fighting against secular Gaddafy regime for decades. (And, BTW, why aren’t American tea-baggers squealing about Obama being a secret Muslim and bringing Al Qaeda to power in Libya? Last I checked, Fox News website is still printing propaganda about happy Libyans cheering rebels and looking forward to glorious future of freedom and prosperity…)
                Talk about burying the lead: The most astounding news of the whole war occurred this past Friday, September 3, when a few courageous journalists (including even some from CNN – go figure!) wandered into the unsecured Tripoli office of the Libyan version of the KGB, and waltzed out with reams of documents proving that Tony Blair and George Bush had cooperated closely with Gaddafy secret police to render and torture Al Qaeda suspects. Motive is obvious: Bush/Blair were fighting despicable terrorists who had brought down Twin Towers in NYC, bombed London metro, bombed Madrid metro, among other crimes committed in America/Europe. So Bush/Blair felt it was necessary to cooperate with Gaddafy’s secret police in torturing these bad guys. Here is the New York Times account of this amazing scoop and how the documents were found. (None of which was actually done by the NYT, they’re just feeding off work that was done by REAL journalists.)
                It goes without saying that after a couple of days of this actual journalism going on, the Western governments, in panic, forced the Libyan rebel government (TNC) to secure the office where all the secret files had been found. But by then the cat was out of the bag!
                They say karma is a bitch, and this caper is absolute proof of that saying. Lessons learned:
                (1) You should NEVER torture a person, no matter how evil he is. Not only is torture morally wrong, but someday that bad guy might walk out of the prison and be the new head honcho (as happened with Belhaj), and then he might remember that you tortured him, and come after you. So watch out, Tony Blair and George W. Bush!
                (2) When you overthrow an Arab government, you should ALWAYS send in special ops to secure the secret files of the deposed government. And whatever you do, don’t let CNN’s Ben Wiedemann anywhere near them, because HE ACTUALLY READS ARABIC…
                Here is another article which includes interesting details about how rendition actually works: how they rented the planes, transported the terrorists and their families to that dismal place where they would start applying the thumb screws, etc.
                Now the tortured have become the torturers.
                Yeah, karma is a bitch….

  16. yalensis says:

    VERY interesting analysis of recent American/NATO military victories. I believe I can summarize author’s conclusion in one sentence: Anti-air defense is the key to survival for the nation which happens to be the target of NATO’s attack.
    The author (Evgeni Pozhidaev) begins with the paradoxical premise that Libya war DISPROVES (not proves) the popular premise that a war can be won through air superiority without committing ground forces. NATO only appears to have won the war via bombing; author argues: they still could not have prevailed without their proxy ground forces (the “insurgents”). Author maintains that military victory requires BOTH air attacks and ground battles.
    Turning back to Iraq war of 2003 (in which American ground forces did their own dirty work, without use of local proxies), author has some eye-opening analysis of how exactly the mighty Iraqi army was destroyed. I am not a military person, but I think this is important, so I will quote these 2 key paragraphs in full, followed by English translation:
    HOW AMERIS DID IRAQ:

    Иракская группировка была неплохо по тем временам вооружена, костяк армии имел восьмилетний опыт военных действий с Ираном и вовсе не представлял из себя трусливый сброд – элитные дивизии Саддама проявили скорее безнадежную доблесть, чем малодушие. Обычная механизированная дивизия, занявшая саудовскую Рас-Кхафджу, упорно держалась там под бомбами и ударами артиллерии. При этом наступающие войска коалиции превосходили по численности оборонявшуюся иракскую группировку только в полтора раза, причем это превосходство формировалось за счет арабских союзников США, сильно уступавших иракцам по боеспособности. Тем не менее, иракская армия была разгромлена практически мгновенно.
    Любимое в народе объяснение этого факта – иракцев просто вбомбили в грунт, а наземным силам коалиции осталось только этот грунт зачистить. На самом деле схема американских военных успехов выглядит так. Удары авиации или угроза этих ударов заставляет наземную группировку противника рассредоточиться. Эффективность ударов с воздуха становится низкой – но зато это рассредоточение прокладывает дорогу наземным силам, бьющим по «распыленному» и вынужденному «прижать уши к земле» противнику (характерные разреженные построения американцев связаны с тем, что они наступали на совсем уже «распыленного» врага). Удар наземных сил, в свою очередь, заставляет противника концентрировать, перемещать и «засвечивать» свои войска – и по ним эффективно бьет авиация. В итоге мы видим «машину», действительно способную перемолоть кого угодно.

    The Iraqi [army] was quite well armed,by the standards of the time, the core of the army had an 8-year experience of warring with Iran, and was certainly not a cowardly rabble: Saddam’s elite divisions did not disgrace themselves in battle. The regular mechanized divisions which took [Saudi Ras-Khafzha???] held out stubbornly against bombs and artillery barrages. Also, the attacking forces of the coalition outnumbered the defending Iraqis only by a factor of one-and-a-half; besides which some of this numerical superiority consisted of Arab allies, who were vastly inferior to the Iraqis in fighting capability. Nonetheless [in spite of all this], the Iraqi army was pulverized almost instantaneously.
    [How did this happen?] The popular explanation is that the Iraqis were simply bombed into the stone age, and all that was left for the ground troops was to clean-up the debris. But in fact the American victory does not look like that at all. The air strikes (or threat of air strikes) forces the ground forces of the opponent to scatter, go to ground, and hide. [At this point] the effectiveness of the air strikes goes down – but on the other hand, this dispersal (of the ground troops) creates a path for the [invading] ground troops, who come at the grounded opponent. […] In turn, this ground assault forces forces the opponent to re-group his forces, move them around, and thus make them visible again and vulnerable to air strikes. In summary, we see here the “machine” that is capable of annihilating any army they please.

    Author adds that this process only works if the target nation has no anti-air defense. [Gaddafy had no viable anti-air defense, and I am still reseaching and trying to figure out why; no one has been able to explain this to me.]
    A strong anti-air defense can at least partially neutralize the above scenario by allowing defending ground forces to regroup. Without having to disperse, defending army has the luxury of pulling itself together and building up a huge [tank] force, like happened at the battle of Kursk.
    [My comment: Once it becomes a tank war, then a country like Russia can perform quite well against a NATO army, as was proved in the Russia-Gruzia war of 2008.]
    Moral of the story: A targeted nation MUST control its own air space, otherwise it is toast. A strong anti-air defense is key to survival.
    Author concludes with a chilling prognosis:

    При этом не исключено, что рано или поздно Россия ввяжется в региональный конфликт с активно орудующими на постсоветском пространстве США — и неплохо бы быть к этому готовыми.

    It is not far-fetched to conclude that sooner or late Russia will be drawn into a regional conflict with […] the United States, and it would not be a bad idea to be prepared for this.
    ПВО! ПВО! ПВО!

  17. cartman says:

    I think there is a media campaign against Dmitri Rogozin:

    http://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article13586161/Putin-holt-sich-den-ultrarechten-Mann-fuers-Grobe.html

    They label him “far right” and they even added a picture of a neo-Nazi salute.

    • marknesop says:

      What a load of crap. Germany bent over backward to accommodate George Bush’s paranoid security requirements when he visited there in 2006, and he was such an American nationalist that he couldn’t keep it to himself – he had to spread American values throughout the world and force countries to adopt the American way through invasion. Yet at home the government required registration of all Muslim men aged 16 and older from 23 countries, as well as those from North Korea. The program was not discontinued until this year, at which time it had run for 9 years and not ever caught a single terrorist. But Rogozin is a Nazi.

      Everyone from the west is permitted, without exciting comment, to be as nationalistic as they please; attributing everything from how well they help each other in adverse circumstances to their immigration policies to their nationality. But dare to single out Caucasians or those who look Caucasian in Russia – despite declarations from some groups originating in that region that they are an Islamic emirate and despite terrorist attacks on ordinary Russians originating from that region, and you’re a Nazi. Tell people to clean up after themselves so the city isn’t a shithole, and you might as well be reciting Mein Kampf. Maybe they should have depicted a group of investment bankers littering in the park; nobody anywhere seems to mind if you have a hate on for investment bankers, provided they’re not Jewish or Caucasian.

      Rogozin isn’t my favourite, either, but I smell a double standard a mile wide.

    • yalensis says:

      I love Rogozin, I depend on him and his acid tongue for great quotes, and yesterday he came out with a winner.
      First the context: R is talking about NATO’s ever-widening European radar and anti-air defenses, etc. NATO claims they are deterring Iran, but any person with even basic brain-stem functions can see that NATO is slowly but surely encircling Russia. (Purpose being, duh! to neutralize Russia’s first-strike capability, not to mention ability to defend herself from a first strike)… Anyhow, here is the quote in question:

      Озвучивать опасения Москвы пришлось постоянному представителю России при НАТО Дмитрию Рогозину: «Натовские лесники приглашают русского медведя вместе охотиться на кроликов. Медведь недоумевает: зачем же им тогда ружья для медвежьей охоты?»

      Translation: NATO hunters invite the Russian bear to come with them on a rabbit hunt. The bear is dubious: [if they are hunting rabbits], then why are they armed for bear?

      See – that translates perfectly into English, because English-speakers also have a saying about “armed for bear”….. 🙂

      • yalensis says:

        Oops, correction: I have been told the correct American idiom is “LOADED for bear”.
        The meaning, apparently, is that your shotgun has enough powder loaded in it to bring down a bear!🙂

        • marknesop says:

          It still translates well, and Rogozin’s meaning was clear; you’re inviting us along on a hunt in which we are the intended victim and in which we are invited to participate in our own destruction.

          • yalensis says:

            I expect NATO will also expect Russian bear to bring shovel along on the hunt. Before being shot, bear will be expected to dig his own grave, jump into it, pull dirt over his own head, leaving just a small hole, through which hunter can shoot him. That way hunter has less work to do. Or maybe bear just say, “The hell with it, let’s get this over with,” and shoot himself.

  18. yalensis says:

    @james: (Ran out of “Reply” space above)… Thanks for link to your article. I will read it, hopefully today, if I have time during my lunch break. I definitely need to learn more about how markets work, because economics have never been my strong suit!
    On Karl Marx and banking: it was still early in the game, and Marx probably didn’t realize how crucial the banking industry was going to become in the years leading up to WWI. Maybe he had some good personal experiences with banks. Like, when he lived in London, maybe he needed to take out a loan and was impressed with the good customer service the bank provided him. .

    • james says:

      The banking system has been going now for 300yrs. It was in full swing before Marx was born and is the root cause of capitalism. I would have thought he’d look into how it really works and discovered it was the prime cause of everything he disliked. But maybe he just didn’t twig to it. Though i doubt that.

      I linked to my article to show how stock market crashes are engineered and if you are in with the engineers, then you can look like a financial genius.

      • yalensis says:

        @james: I started reading your article. It is very good, but slow-going for me, because it is mostly over my head, as I have no experience with stocks or financial transactions. When I finish reading I will attempt an intelligent comment!
        On Marx: yes, I get it now how curious it is that he didn’t see the importance of banking and how crucial it was to the birth of the capitalist system. Instead, he and Engels focused on factories and manufacturing. They were people persons: they wrote about workers, women, African slaves, the dispossessed in general. Also, remember Marx’s head was in the clouds quite a bit, he started off in his youth as a philosopher not an economist, and it took him quite a long time to break out of that thick Hegelian muddle….

        • marknesop says:

          While the intent of the banking system may have always been to seize control of the entire capitalist initiative and manipulate it for its own ends – I couldn’t stipulate to that, as banking has never been something that interested me much – the terms of loans were once quite attractive and considerably less blatantly to the bank’s advantage, as western customers of the day were more hardheaded and practical. There was plenty of rhetoric about “going to hell on easy credit terms”, and the majority preferred to deal on a pay-as-you-go basis rather than take the risk of borrowing something they might not be able to pay back. Loan arrangements had to be structured to reassure and attract customers and, as I mentioned, the executive elite had not yet emerged from the factory systems either – the boss made more than the workers, as everyone probably agreed was fair, but not hundreds of times more as they often do now.

          Gradually, as the philosophy of financing large purchases and paying over a period of time took hold, banks began to quietly rewrite their policies in their own favour, although they’ve always been and still are very vocal about being “just another part of your friendly community” and all about “giving the little fellow a hand up”. Nowadays, banks are protected like surgeons against malpractice – if anything goes wrong, it has to be quite a catastrophe before the bank suffers more than its customers do.

          But as I mentioned, the emergence of trade unions probably put off the unbridled profiteering by at least a generation, since they used collective bargaining to ensure workers got cut in on at least a share of the profits and put in place such concepts as a minimum wage and mandated review periods for same. Big business hates unions, and most recently the Republican party in the U.S. has been taking tentative steps on a state level toward union-busting and limiting the power of collective bargaining; very good news for business owners, some of whom would like to be able to hire and fire on their own terms and pay the lowest wage for which they could find workers willing to do the job.

        • Foppe says:

          Actually, Marx did think about the credit system, he just never really got around to systematizing his thoughts on the topic. (In vol.1 he notes he is consciously ignoring its role, but both in vol 1, and all over vol. 2, he writes “all of this changes once you introduce the credit system”.) His actual writings can be found in volume 3. I’ll admit he did not give it the central place that credit systems deserve, but he certainly saw that it was important.

          As for Marx being a Hegelian: I respectfully disagree.😉 He is much better understood to be a process philosopher (see A.N. Whitehead). Having said that, Marx’s theory of social change is very badly understood. For a primer, see this lecture (and the next) by David Harvey.

          • yalensis says:

            @Foppe: I bow to your superior knowledge. I once attempted to read Das Kapital, but I simply did not understand it, it was way over my head!

          • yalensis says:

            @Foppe: Hello again, thanks for that link on the Harvey lectures. I decided to watch them all, so I started yesterday with Lesson 1. It was really good, Harvey is an excellent instructur, he explains very complicated concepts in a manner that even an idiot like me can understand. In Lesson 1 he discusses concepts of “Use value”, “Exchange value”, and “value”. I recommend this to anybody who is interested in economics, Marxist or non-Marxist. The prof does not force his own views on anybody, he just deconstructs the text. I plan to watch the rest, I have to approach this just as if I were taking a class, because please note everbody, there are 13 lectures in all, and each lecture is 2 hours long! So I plan to watch one lecture per week for the next 12 weeks. Note to @James: In Introduction, the prof remarks that Marx had sketched out several more volumes of material, including a discussion of credit and banking. But unfortunately, Marx never completed his giant work, because death got in the way. So that’s why we never got his views on the capitalist banking system. And in the modern world, as far as I know, there are no intellectual giants around any more, certainly not anybody at Marx’s level of sheer brain power.

            – Да, были люди в наше время,
            Не то, что нынешнее племя:
            Богатыри – не вы!

            • Foppe says:

              Glad to be of use. And I agree on your assessment of Harvey as a lecturer, of course😉 I’ll try to remember to come back to this thread in 9 weeks’ time, then.😉

  19. yalensis says:

    @mark: (ditto – ran out of “Reply” space above)
    Karl Marx’s theory why capitalism was doomed: I don’t think it was because he thought the workers would revolt and take over the factories, that was the idiot Bakuninites who thought that. Marx was way smarter than that. His argument went something like this (and you will have to forgive me if I say something stupid, because economics is REALLY REALLY not my strong suit, so I should probably just shut up right now, and I know kovane will probably jump in and reprimand me, but here goes anyway):
    Theory #1: “The Labor Theory of Value.” The cost of every manufactured item includes the cost of the labor that was required to make it. Labor value is calculated in units of man-hours. Capitalists’ profit margin is the difference (in percentage) between the cost of the item and the price they sell it at.
    Theory #2: “Declining Rate of Profit”. With improvements in technology and increases in labor productivity, manufacturing becomes more efficient and requires less labor time. But because the value of the item is primarily determined by labor time, this creates a paradox for the capitalist system. Hence, the profit margin of the capitalist class tends to decline in the long run. As a computer programmer I could phrase it thusly: code built into the core module eventually drives the application into infinitive recursive loop, ending only when the entire machine crashes.
    Thought experiment: I suppose you could imagine a world in which we could simply just make anything we wanted from a machine, like the Replicator in Star Trek. In a world like that, in which nobody had to work very much and everything was essentially free, then how could capitalists make a profit out of anything? Well, the service industry, I guess. Servicing the Replicator…

  20. sinotibetan says:

    Just some stuff before I start rambling about Marxism:-

    1.) An unstable post-Mubarak Egypt – would that be the case not only for Egypt but the rest of Western-backed Middle East ‘regime change’?

    http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/20803/Egypt/Politics-/Egypts-first-postrevolution-Prime-Minister-may-res.aspx

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article2441735.ece

    2.) As for Zionists, the Rotschilds(and Bilderburgers?),hedge fund managers, international bankers and their interest in a ‘one world currency’ dominated by their class – I don’t think the Jewish clans in that ‘system’ are the only ones ‘responsible’ although they most likely play the most important role. Many non-Jews are also part of that ‘system’. Whether this group of people finally succeed or actually socialism triumphs or some other ‘chimaeric’ system composed of individuals with disparate underlying philosophies/interest – the trend of it all is clear – design of an economic, political (and perhaps ‘philosophical’) system that somehow would unite all of humanity, designed by mankind itself: into a one world government, one world economy, one world currency, a totally borderless world, a ‘heaven’/’paradise’ on earth that is truly made by man himself , claimed by man himself as a demonstration that the “God” or ‘gods’ that man used to worship are fallacies/mirages as man IS that ‘God’.

    sinotibetan

    p.s. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
    (Genesis 3:5)

    • yalensis says:

      @sinotibetan: I doubt it is possible for mankind to build a true “heaven on earth”, given man’s aggressive, warlike nature.
      On the other hand, I do believe it is practically feasible to eventually unite mankind under the aegis of a single currency, maybe even a single government, although if that government turns out to be Al Qaeda (which strives to be a globalist internationalist ideology), then I will be very sad, as I doubt a starry-eyed intellectual like me could survive a single day under the rule of those anti-intellectual barbarians.
      Speaking of Al Qaeda, I saw this video a couple of days ago, and it made me laugh with reprehensible Schadenfreude. Without further ado, I give you dear little Tony Blair, the most nervous man in the Western world!
      If you watch this interview, at 3:40 minutes Tony is asked about his past cozy relationship with Colonel Gaddafi, back in those halcyon days when the two politicians collaborated in arresting and torturing Al Qaeda suspects. Tony starts visibly sweating and looks like he wants to crawl under his bed and call for his mommy.
      For those who haven’t been keeping score, let us review: Al Qaeda as an organization was originally created and nurtured by the CIA and British secret services, as early as the 1970’s. America/Britain enjoyed excellent relations with Al Qaeda for many years. They shared a common philosophy: hatred of modernist ideologies like socialism, and love for medievalist forms of government, like feudalist monarchies.
      Then suddenly, for reasons still murky, Al Qaeda like a golem turned against its masters and started hurting them in grisly terror attacks, culminating in 9/11/2001 and also metro bombings in London, and many others. (Note: I do not subscribe to any conspiracy theories about Western governments being complicit in these attacks; it is clear that they were shocked and totally caught off guard.)
      One can almost understand and sympathize how hurt and betrayed Bush/Blair felt, the depth of their rage and determination to bring this Frankenstein monster down. Unfortunately, their zeal for vengeance led them to do some morally bad things, including torturing suspected terrorists. (Remember, boys and girls: Torture is ALWAYS wrong, no matter how odious your opponent is. There are very few absolutes in life, but this is one of them.)
      Anyhow, one of the Al Qaeda guys they tortured, Belhaj, who happens to be a Libyan Arab, is now the new reigning warlord in Tripoli, after NATO bombings inadvertently brought him to power. Oh, the ironies of history!
      This Belhaj, who commands a shadowy Al Qaeda militia that terrorizes the people of Tripoli, now claims to be a born-again Jeffersonian democrat, but is clear to everyone that the guy is a pathological liar. In fact, he is such a skilled liar that back in the day Tony Blair had to have him tortured many, many times, trying to get a straight answer out of this creep, but never could. Now poor Tony is rightfully nervous, because he knows what this guy is capable of. He probably checks underneath his car every morning before starting it up.

      • sinotibetan says:

        Dear yalensis,

        Thanks for your reply!

        1.)”On the other hand, I do believe it is practically feasible to eventually unite mankind under the aegis of a single currency, maybe even a single government”
        I am sure that you know, since I am a Christian, I actually believe that this WILL happen and in fact generally we are all being ‘primed'(by the learned, politicians, media, etc.?) to embrace this desired ‘Utopia’.
        “I doubt it is possible for mankind to build a true “heaven on earth”, given man’s aggressive, warlike nature.”
        Which also, due to the ‘beneath that of an animal’ side of human nature(Freud would have called it the “Id” cf. the ‘divine’/’noble'[“superego”]) would mean that such a one world government construct would ultimately fail.

        2.)”Then suddenly, for reasons still murky, Al Qaeda like a golem turned against its masters and started hurting them in grisly terror attacks, culminating in 9/11/2001 and also metro bombings in London, and many others.”
        No murky reason, yalensis. Al Qaeda was NEVER in-tune with their Western ‘allies’. It was a temporary alliance and I am sure that the CIA and Al Qaeda knew from the very beginning. Both wanted world dominance but had totally divergent views on WHO should be the real master – ‘the godless West’ or Jihadists. Soviet Union and her allies were a common enemy. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the thin glue that held these two fell apart and that’s how we got 9/11 and so on and so forth.

        3.) I think “Al Qaeda” proper is diminishing in strength with the supposed death of Osama bin Laden(I am ASSUMING he is really dead—probably 99% certain he is) and many other comrades. For Jihadists and Islamists it’s time to practice taqqiya and lie low. Transform oneself into a democrat and reformist even!(This Belhaj, who commands a shadowy Al Qaeda militia that terrorizes the people of Tripoli, now claims to be a born-again Jeffersonian democrat, but is clear to everyone that the guy is a pathological liar.)

        4.)”Anyhow, one of the Al Qaeda guys they tortured, Belhaj, who happens to be a Libyan Arab, is now the new reigning warlord in Tripoli, after NATO bombings inadvertently brought him to power. Oh, the ironies of history!”
        Sorry to sound cliche but as Lord Palmerston said:(I use this with regards to realpolitik)
        We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies.Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.

        5.) Tony Blair should indeed be very afraid. Now would actually be the beginning of the rise of Jihadist-led regimes.

        sinotibetan

        • sinotibetan says:

          Also forgot to say…CIA and NATO probably underestimated their pet gremlin Al Qaeda after the fall of the Soviet Union. They were squirming with delight on the fall of the Soviet Union. They thought of Al Qaeda as a ‘minor irritant’ until that fateful day.

          sinotibetan

  21. sinotibetan says:

    Dear all(especially yalensis),

    Will try to comment on what I think of Marxism – please be patient as I might not be able to post them now. Very interesting input from yalensis, James, foppe and Mark. I would like to thank foppe for that link regarding Marxism(although I’ll have to find some time listening to all the lectures!). Yalensis, I am in more dire situation than you as I think I am not that good in BOTH economics and knowledge of Marxism.

    1.)Nevertheless, as a ‘start’, -as probably complementary ‘material’ to the link provided for by foppe, here are also some links of websites by ‘practising Marxists’ themselves:-

    http://www.marxism.org.uk/pack/dialetics.html

    http://marxistphilosophy.org/

    2.)To foppe:
    “As for Marx being a Hegelian: I respectfully disagree. He is much better understood to be a process philosopher.”

    I agree that Marx is better understood as a ‘process philosopher’. I think he believed in the concept of ‘social evolution. He was also, unlike most philosophers of his day, not only bothered with philosophy in a theoretical sense but also in a practical sense(“The philosophers have only interprated the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it) As to the fact that Marx was not a Hegelian, you’re right. However, he was influenced a lot by Hegel in the early years:
    a.) Hegelianism was criticized by young Marx. I hypothesize the critiques(against Hegel) themselves can germinate into at least some of Marxist ideas?
    b.)The young Marx was deeply influenced by the “Left Hegelians”(also called the ‘Young Hegelians’)- in his younger days , he was a friend of the Young Hegelian Bruno Bauer. If I am not mistaken, he was also influenced greatly by the thoughts of another Young Hegelian, Ludwig Feuerbach. These Young Hegelians are staunch critics of theism and Christianity. I suppose some of Marx’s ideas on atheism might have been derived from his associations with them. However, he departed from many of the core beliefs of the Young Hegelians – even that of Feuerbach.
    c.)The Young Hegelians were noted to be radical and agitated societal change. Although innate within Marx’s nature, these associations probably enhanced that innate tendency.

    3.) Interestingly, since we were talking about Jews , Zionists etc… Marx himself had Jewish ancestry. Looks like the Jews were/are influential in many, many ways!

    4.) I read somewhere, a ‘summary of summary’ of the Marxist worldview/aims….yalensis: do correct me if I’m wrong:-

    Marxist theology – Atheism
    Marxist philosophy – Dialectical materialism
    Marxist ethics – Proletariat morality
    Marxist thoughts on ‘social evolution’ is analogous with the hypothesis of punctuated evolution in biology.
    Marxist psychology – Behaviourism
    Marxist sociology – Classless society
    Marxist law – Proletariat law
    Marxist politics – an eventual one world communist government which is borderless and stateless.
    Marxist economics – communism
    Marxist history – historical materialism

    5.) I was trying to find out what Marx THOUGHT on ‘human nature’ and it turned out to be a very difficult subject indeed. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that Marx placed great trust and implicit faith in ‘man'(and I infer, ‘human nature’)/man’s ability to ‘evolve’ to a higher level. That, to me is a FATAL assumption to build a whole philosophical system.

    sinotibetan

    • yalensis says:

      @SinoTibetan: Hello again! Wow, lots of stimulating discussion today!
      Anyhow, I believe your summary of Marxist postulates is correct and matches what I believe to be the case. Like you, I want to thank Foppe for the link to the lectures. I plan to listen to them too, but obviously I have to plan this out and make time in my schedule. But I am sure it will be worth the effort.
      I think a lot of Marx can be summed up in the point that just about everything human, including morality and ethics, is based on which economic class is in power in that particular society. For example, in a slave-based economy (like ancient Rome) it is perfectly okay to kill your slave (and all of his family) if he disobeyed you. In fact, it would be immoral NOT to kill him, because his disobedience puts the fabric of society itself at risk.
      Marx also believed that modern society was in a perpetual state of class war. Just as in a real war, where each side has its own uniform and flag and so on, in the ongoing class war each side has its own philosophy, ideology, morals, ethics, culture, etc etc.
      In other words, just about every code of conduct that we think of as moral absolutes is actually situational and class-based. The number of true absolutes can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Among these moral absolutes I would count such things as “Thou shalt not torture”, “Thou shalt not rape”, and a couple of others, but NOT “Thou shalt not kill”, because sometimes, like in war, you do simply have to kill someone.
      Anyhow, Marx’s point was: let us not pretend we are promoting universal ideas based on this abstract thing called “human nature”, let us just be honest and admit we are promoting ideas that benefit a single economic class (= the proletariat), because we have taken sides in the class war, and this is the side we have chosen.

      • sinotibetan says:

        Dear yalensis,

        Thanks for the comments!

        1.)The “Thou shalt not kill” in the original context of the ‘Ten Commandments’ actually meant ‘Thou shalt not murder’. The Jews were involved in many wars with neighbouring tribes and if it meant ‘Thou shalt not kill’ , then it would be hard for them to ‘justify’ the wars.

        2.)” just about every code of conduct that we think of as moral absolutes is actually situational and class-based.”
        “The number of true absolutes can be counted on the fingers of one hand.”
        How then do man ‘select’ which are ‘true moral absolutes’ and which are ‘not true moral absolutes’? What would be the BASIS of such a selection? Moreover, if atheism IS true, then, to me there are NO moral absolutes, In fact, if atheism were true, I see no basis for morality/ethical behaviour at all! In fact, when I was holding the atheistic view, I don’t see anything ‘wrong’ with murder, rape or any ‘crime’ at all. Because, there is NO right and wrong – such a concept is meaningless because we, being purely material in origin, came up with it. And if we are but a next stage in the continuous process of human evolution, whatever happens would lead us to a ‘higher evolutionary plane of existence’. Since selfishness and competition together with mutations give rise to evolution, I don’t see any ‘evolutionary basis’ to ethics. Some have attempted to twist this by saying that we are now ‘self aware’ of evolution and thus we are now ‘directing’ human evolution via ‘ethics’ or the Dawkins one in which ‘altruism’ is but a manifestation of the ‘selfish gene’. It still carries no ‘absolute moral sense’ to me…you know what I mean? Because in the end, what matters is SURVIVAL of the species. Ethical, non ethical, civilized, barbarian etc. – it doesn’t matter at all – species survival is the only thing that matters. What I am trying to say is since humans came up with the concept of ethics/morality – it is a human construct and has no ‘absolute’ meaning. Which means, there should not be any reason for reward or punishment as well because this also depends on the ‘absolute’ ‘value’ of a certain moral principle which cannot be absolute. We are but similar to animals – we live, mate, die but most importantly the genes must live on. To do so, only the most fit would pass the genes away. Now, if ethics has any evolutionary basis, then it should not be one that allows anyone with ‘deleterious’/’non-advantageous’ genes to carry on -but the concept of ‘Thou Shalt not kill’ gives that ‘advantage’ to ‘weak genes’. ‘Thou shalt not rape’….if the perpetrator SUCCEEDS in raping it means he has a survival advantage to the cuckold husband or BF who failed to protect the girl or the man had cunning —just like animals: the strong wins…and the strong usually has better genes. ‘Thou shalt not torture’ – torturing is ‘evolutionary neutral’ – it confers no ‘survival advantage’… so it ‘does not matter’. Moreover the ‘torturer’ must be in an evolutionary advantageous ‘vantage point’ and should the tortured person die, it means the survival of the ‘fitter’ ‘torturer’.
        And so on and so forth. To me, it’s impossible to come up with any basis/reason for ethics BASED on atheism and evolutionary biology because such would be a totally ‘artificial construct’ devoid of any ‘real meaning’ and sometimes in contradiction to the evolutionary process.
        If I were an atheist today, actually I would not believe in any morality, right or wrong and any discussion on that would be totally irrelevant and the only reason I was no criminal in the past is for ‘fear of punishment’.

        3.)”let us not pretend we are promoting universal ideas based on this abstract thing called “human nature”, let us just be honest and admit we are promoting ideas that benefit a single economic class (= the proletariat), because we have taken sides in the class war, and this is the side we have chosen.”
        I disagree with Marx that ‘human nature’ is an ‘abstract thing’. We ‘know’ what we are. If we do some introspection – the noble, the debased, the moral, the immoral, the good, and the evil is amalgamated within us. Marx’s OMISSION or better still, DISMISSAL of this ‘abstract notion’ is , in my opinion, a fatal flaw in his consideration of the problem of governance. The ‘class war’ is but one of many manifestations/symptoms of what is the condition WITHIN man(‘human nature’). Marx’s ‘solution’ is but symptomatic relief(to use medical terminology) rather than a cure to the problem because he thought the problem was irrelevant in the first place but he believed it was a cure and that the process is very deterministic as well. Thousands of years have passed – and sure we progressed a lot in terms of acquisition of knowledge and science and technology – and yet despite brilliant philosophers(or is it BECAUSE of them?) and a lot of political theories – we remain a violent, selfish, war-like race.

        4.)Actually, I don’t believe ANY government models will work in perpetuity and that SYSTEM of GOVERNMENT doesn’t and cannot change mankind to a better mankind. The ‘problem’ is within us, within our genes….it’s not something any politics can change….not even for eternity!

        sinotibetan

  22. yalensis says:

    I will conclude my highly-intellectual discussion with the classic joke about the “great Jewish thinkers” and their take on human nature.
    Starting from lower in the body and working one’s way up:
    Sigmund Freud [pointing to the crotch] said that everything is based on this…
    Karl Marx [pointing to the stomach] said that everything is based on this…
    Rabbi Jesus [pointing to the heart] said that everything is based on this…
    Baruch Spinoza [pointing to the head] said that everything is based on this…
    Albert Einstein [summing everything up]: “Eh, nu, … it’s all RELATIVE…”

  23. marknesop says:

    Featured on Russia: Other Points of View, Gordon Hahn’s excellent report on militant operations and nationalist ambitions in the North Caucasus – “Getting the Caucasus Emirate Right”, for the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

    Indispensable and fascinating reading for followers of international and regional politics in general and the Caucasus in particular, detailing connections, associations and funding for the Caucasus Emirate as well as debunking the “nothing to see here” reporting of partisan agencies such as the Jamestown Foundation. Check it out.

    • yalensis says:

      @Mark: Thanks for fascinating link to the Hahn article. I read it eagerly. I did not expect this superior level of analysis from any Western think-tank. The analysis is very scary. The Caucasian Emirate as well as other international jihadist organizations are well organized and well funded, and capable of producing much mayhem.
      Author notes that the ideological jihadists have been completely honest about their goals and intentions, all of their statements and writings stress that their goal is a one-world government ruled by (their flavor of) medieval Islam. The militants themselves (as opposed to certain slippery politicians) are very honest and clear about what they fight for. Despite this, Western governments believe whatever they want to believe, and continue to support and fund these international revolutionaries.
      The Libya war is a prime example of this paradox and has actually served to clarify a host of issues that used to be very confusing. In Libya we have seen a jihadist/Al Qaeda faction come to power by overthrowing a secular authoritarian government, with the assistance of NATO. NATO’s crucial help puts the jihadists in control of a prime swath of real estate along the northern crown of Africa and Mediterranean coast.
      This outcome actually clarifies and solves the entire puzzle, which was made confusing by September 11, 2001, because that shocking event seemed to turn everything upside down for a few years; but eventually the dust settled and everything went back into its normal orbit. The normal orbit being United States and NATO arming and supporting revolutionary jihadists all over the world.
      Now, the NATO countries do not believe for one second that Libya is a future threat to them. They think it is all good. They believe the Libyan rebels’ claim that all they want is Libya itself, and that they will never threaten the West. (Definition of a “moderate” Islamist: one who implements shariah law within his own country, but does not seek to spread it or threaten the West).
      Now, I could be wrong. I hope I am wrong. I hope Jalil/Jabril and the rest of the new government in Libya is telling the truth that all they want is a representative parliamentary democracy that does not threaten its neighbors.
      But, sadly, I do believe them. I believe they will use their new prize, Libya, as a launching pad for further jihad. Also, the Libyan rebels as well as other jihadists (as Hahn points out in his article) are very clear that they regard Russia as the Number #1 Satan in the world, even more satanic than the United States. Hence, as a Russian, I am very worried that Russia is in for some really tough years ahead, fighting off these jihadists on all fronts. Now, I have no doubt Russia can defend herself so long as NATO stays out of it. But I fear that NATO, once again, will jump in on the side of the jihadists. In which case, I fear that Russia is doomed. Sorry, Anatoly, I am being a wailing Cassandra once again….

      • yalensis says:

        typo: “But, sadly, I do believe them”
        obviously should read “Sadly, I do NOT believe them…”

      • cartman says:

        Re: Libya

        I am not sure why you think that because the fact is that Russia supported neither side. Why would it be named Enemy #1 for that?

        Jihadists from North Africa will continue to be huge problems for France, Italy, and Germany. It seems in the Middle East all countries will be getting black eyes because those three are about to vote against Palestinian statehood.

        • yalensis says:

          @cartman: Why do Libyan rebels regard Russia as Enemy #1?
          Is good question, and I am not sure either. I followed Libya war on Aljazeera (I do not read Arabic, so I had to settle for English-language version), and read many articles and blogs. Jihadist public opinion is overwhelming in its contempt for Russia. Is not just because Russia remained mostly neutral in Libya conflict. The hatred seems to go deeper than that. I am not sure why, but here is my guess:
          The international jihadist movement, while admittedly there are regional differences, can be seen as a unified whole, with a single history. All jihadists love the same heroes and hate the same villains. They trace their forefathers back to mujahadeen who fought against Soviet army in Afghanistan. Also to mujahadeen who fought, and continue to fight, Russian army in the Caucauses. In fact, Russian army is the main thing standing in the way of their plan to build Caucasian Emirate.
          In addition to Russia, they hate the following countries: China, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Syria. What do these other countries have in common? They are all “socialist” countries. (Sort of.)
          Jihadists hate anything that smacks of socialism. Russia cannot be considered socialist any more, but they still hate Russia for the reasons listed above.
          Oh yeah, they hate Israel too, but not nearly as much as they hate the above countries.
          Which countries do the jihadists love? They love France. France is their BFF. They will even forgive France for vetoing Palestinian statehood.
          They love Saudi Arabia too, because that’s where Mecca is, and that giant rock that they worship. They also love Qatar.
          I cannot figure out whether they love or hate USA. Sure, they knocked down Twin Towers in a fit of pique. But that was all in the past… Maybe a love-hate relationship?

        • marknesop says:

          That’s just as well, I guess. We might as well get the list straightened out of who has no credibility whatsoever on the Middle East boundaries question. After voting “No”, a nation can hardly claim any authority in further discussion of issues pertaining to the Palestinians, because everybody purports to support a two-state solution. I think quite a few of those “supporters” mean “but not now” (which is to say “not ever”), or don’t understand what “two-state solution” actually means. Even Israel would support a two-state solution that left Israel with all the good farmland and water, and the Palestinians with a few islands of barren rock in a sea of Jewish land. But that’s not what a two-state solution means.

  24. PvMikhail says:

    Friedman’s Alfa is blackmailing the state again. You already know my opinion.

    http://en.rian.ru/business/20110915/166860323.html

    The 80% of Alfa’s wikipedia page is about “disputes”. And these are only the bigger companies. Their business style is outrageous.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfa_Group

  25. Foppe says:

    Pravda just ran an op/ed article that was actually fairly critical of Israeli political developments.

    • marknesop says:

      “…should evolve into a stronger state with less individual freedom…”

      Absent all the window-dressing blather about liberty and freedomfreedomfreedom, I think I recognize that government model. It’s one that decided national security was more important than what the citizenry thought, and the loudest among the citizenry agreed.

      Very interesting article with quite a few surprises. If the belief that the sun has already set on western hegemony is more widespread in Israel than its Foreign Minister, we can perhaps look for The Lobby to start pulling up stakes soon, although I imagine they will continue to milk the USA as long as there’s any advantage at all to be gained.

      • Foppe says:

        Hehe..
        As David Graeber puts it, in Debt: The First 5000 years (Fantastic book, by the way):

        Thomas Jefferson, that owner of many slaves, chose to begin the Declaration of Independence by directly contradicting the moral basis of slavery, writing “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights …” thus undercutting simultaneously any argument that Africans were racially inferior, and also that they or their ancestors could ever have been justly and legally deprived of their freedom. In doing so, however, he did not propose some radically new conception of rights and liberties. Neither have subsequent political philosophers. For the most part, we’ve just kept the old ones, but with the word “not” inserted here and there. Most of our most precious rights and freedoms are a series of exceptions to an overall moral and legal framework that suggests we shouldn’t really have them in the first place.

      • Foppe says:

        Anyway, to respond slightly more on point: Not sure if you’ve read it, but Naomi Klein, in The Shock Doctrine, suggests that the Israeli state, has been hugely sponsoring its surveillance and “security” industries, while ignoring pretty much all social policy goals (very unexpected, I know). Quoting selectively, apologies for length:

        For much of the past decade, Israel has been experiencing its own miniaturized Davos Dilemma: wars and terrorist attacks have been increasing, but the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange has been rising to record levels right alongside this violence. As one stock analyst noted on Fox News after the July 7 London bombings, “In Israel they deal with the threat of terror daily, and that market is up for the year.” Like the global economy in general, Israel’s political situation is, most agree, disastrous, but its economy has never been stronger, with 2007 growth rates rivaling those of China and India.
        Years before U.S. and European companies grasped the potential of the global security boom, Israeli technology firms were busily pioneering the homeland security industry, and they continue to dominate the sector today. The Israeli Export Institute estimates that Israel has 350 corporations dedicated to selling homeland security products, and 30 new ones entered the market in 2007. From a corporate perspective, this development has made Israel a model to be emulated in the post-9/11 market. From a social and political perspective, however, Israel should serve as something else – a stark warning. The fact that Israel continues to enjoy booming prosperity, even as it wages war against its neighbors and escalates the brutality in the occupied territories, demonstrates just how perilous it is to build an economy based on the premise of continual war and deepening disasters.
        Israel’s current ability to combine guns and caviar is the culmination of a dramatic shift in the nature of its economy over the past fifteen years, one that has had a profound and little-examined impact on the parallel disintegration of prospects for peace. … In 1993, Shimon Peres, then foreign minister, explained to a group of Israeli journalists that peace was now inevitable. It was a very particular kind of peace, however. “We are not seeking a peace of flags,” Peres said, “we are interested in a peace of markets.” … The Oslo strategy, the negotiators claimed, was to push ahead with the “peace of markets” based on the idea that the rest would fall into place: by flinging open borders and joining the globalization juggernaut, both Israelis and Palestinians were supposed to experience such concrete improvements in daily life that a more hospitable context would be created for a “peace of flags” in the negotiations to come. That, at least, was the Oslo promise.
        … By 2003, Israel was already making a stunning recovery, and by 2004 the country had seemed to pull off a miracle: after its calamitous crash, it was performing better than almost any Western economy. Much of this growth was due to Israel’s savvy positioning of itself as a kind of shopping mall for homeland security technologies. The timing was perfect. Governments around the world were suddenly desperate for terrorist hunting tools, as well as for human intelligence know-how in the Arab world. Under the leadership of the Likud Party, the Israeli state billed itself as a showroom for the cutting-edge homeland security state, drawing on its decades of experience and expertise fighting Arab and Muslim threats. Israel’s pitch to North America and Europe was straightforward: the War on Terror you are just embarking on is one we have been fighting since our birth. Let our high-tech firms and privatized spy companies show you how it’s done.
        Overnight, Israel became, in the words of Forbes magazine, “the go-to country for antiterrorism technologies.”

  26. Foppe says:

    Sweet. The European Court of Human Rights has just judged that the Russian state was naughty in causing the demise of Yukos.

  27. yalensis says:

    What’s going on in Libya? Well, the war ain’t quite over yet, despite the fact that Cameron/Sarkozy already did their victory lap in Tripoli and declared “Mission Accomplished”.
    Against all odds, Gaddafy loyalists are holding out in several major cities, and giving rebels/NATO a run for their money. This, despite NATO bombing the shit out of these cities every day, and even broadcasting radio messages to residents (“Give up, resistance is futile, etc etc.”)
    I find the best and most objective reporting is in Reuters, like this piece on NATO’s use of special ops mercenaries on the ground. As article points out, rebels were making very little headway, even with the bombings, until NATO special ops ground forces parachuted in to help them out with coordination and logistics. Is open secret that rebels were assisted by CIA, French/British and even Qatari advisors and special ops. Left to own devices, rebel “Freedom Fighters” were disorganized, inchoate jihadist mob that could not walk into a public lavatory without NATO bombing the way for them first.
    Also note in above article, the photo shows an African captive being led away by rebels. Even Western press are more and more starting to tell the story behind the story: how Libyan “revolution” constitutes a genocidal holocaust against sub-Saharan Africans and black-skinned Libyans. In some cases, western journalists have tried to intervene when they saw blacks being dragged away by rebels, but were unable to save them, beyond simply reporting that the abduction was taking place. No one has yet been able to track, or count, how many blacks have been killed by the rebel jihadists, but there are many reports of torture, murder, ethnic cleansing of entire towns, raping of black women, even of blacks being chopped up by the jihadists for body parts and organs.

    • marknesop says:

      The western press is always pretty good at getting the “untold story” out when things are past the point of no return and there’s no chance of the situation reverting to its previous values. Then they can claim credit for objective reporting, while broadcasting a one-note song until the desired effect is achieved. Win-win situation, pulitzers all around.

  28. Foppe says:

    This seems like a nice interview with Michael Hudson of the history of the neoliberalization of Russia.

      • marknesop says:

        Jesus H. Christ. The mind reels. If Russia’s losing $25 Billion per year in capital flight to the west, why the fuck is the west broke? If Russia is slipping into poverty, why’s their debt the lowest in the G20? If the working wage has risen steadily in Russia, why are Russians getting poorer and poorer? If the neoliberal thrashings of Yeltsin and his Young Turks like Boris Nemtsov brought the country to the brink of disaster, why is it the neoliberal failures of Putin and Medvedev that now result in Russia trembling on the brink of the abyss?

        I’m guessing this guy’s specialty is bedtime stories. The kind that are supposed to make you too scared to get up for a drink of water, or even for a pee.

        If I wasn’t as busy as I am, I’d LOVE to take a run at this. Maybe if it’s not old news by the weekend….

        • Foppe says:

          Hm? I don’t see him being particularly critical of medvedev/putin; most of the points mentioned are about the reforms pushed through by Jeffrey Sachs and his pals back around ’91.

          • yalensis says:

            I finished Lecture 2 of the “Das Kapital” course, and this is where Marx starts talking about money, in particular, how Gold becomes the symbolic embodiment of value of commodities. This has always fascinated me, because the process of “money” as an abstraction is so mysterious.
            As a sidebar, around the same time Marx was writing his opus, Wagner was also writing his musical opus, also about GOLD (“Der Ring des Nibelungens”). In Wagner’s vision, all the powers of nature were concretized in the form of a golden Ring. The 4-part opera (20 hours in all) tracks the ownership of this Ring. Ring ring starts off an inchoate lump of gold at the bottom of the Rhein River, guarded by mermaids. The dwarf Alberich (representing proto-human miners, maybe even Neanderthals who may have been first to learn the skill of mining metal from the earth) tricks the mermaids, renounces love, and steals the lump of gold.
            Alberich then orders his brother Mime to craft a Ring from the lump of gold. The Ring represents MONEY in its first form. The magical powers of the Ring derive from the fact that Alberich renounced love as the price for possessing the Gold.
            The next owner of the Ring is Wotan, king of the patriarchal gods, who tricks Alberich and wrests the Ring from him. Unfortunately for Wotan, he is forced to hand the Ring (along with the rest of Alberich’s treasure hoard) over to the giants Fafner and Fasolt, as payment for building his new castle, Walhalla.
            Fafner then kills his brother Fasolt and becomes owner of the Ring. Fafner then transforms himself into a dragon, so that he can better guard the treasure hoard.
            The next owner of the Ring is Siegfried, who slays the dragon and takes ownership of the treasure.
            The next owner of the Ring is Brunhilde, chief Walkyrie (=illegitimate daughter of Wotan and Erde, the Earth Mother). She is Siegfried’s lover (and also his aunt, because Siegfried is Wotan’s grandson by a different line). Siegfried gives her the Ring as an engagement gift.
            In a later series of unfortunate developments (“Gotterdammerung”) Siegfried becomes the owner of the Ring a second time, when he tricks Brunhilde, sexually betrays her, and takes the Ring back from her. (See, the Ring has a curse on it, so everyone who owns it becomes evil, even the noble Siegfried.)
            And finally, Brunhilde obrtains the Ring once again. She gets even with Siegfried, plots his assassination, steals the Ring off his cold dead finger, and then immolates herself (along with her horse) on a fiery pyre.
            Final owner of the Ring = the Rhein Maidens = the original owners of the lump of gold. Quel ironie! Just before burning herself to a crisp, Brunhilde tosses the Ring back into the Rhein. In Wagner’s vision, this would represent the end of the gods and the beginning of man = future utopian paradise for mankind, where money would no longer exist.

          • marknesop says:

            He doesn’t specifically refer to Medvedev/Putin by name, but by period – neoliberal reforms (or attempts at same) are said to have brought Russia to the brink of collapse. I presume he’s talking about now, which would implicate recent leadership unless he’s specifically blaming somebody else.

            Some sources did originally toy with labelling Putin a liberal. None of them stuck with to the end of his first term.

            • Foppe says:

              Hm? I assumed he’s just talking about Yeltsin/Jeffrey Sachs/Yegor Gaidar/etc..

              I’m not sure how much sense his housing story makes, though, and I find the interview a bit messy in how it’s set up.

              • Foppe says:

                (where did my reply to yalensis go btw? Did it fail to post?)

                • marknesop says:

                  Ooops! I’m really sorry – I saw it in the “pending” box but also it appeared in comments. I assumed the one in pending was a duplicate, and that you had been successful in posting it a second time, so I deleted the pending one. But now I don’t see any sign of it anywhere. I’ve never had that happen before; it usually appears in one or the other but not both. I hope you can reconstruct it, because it had a lot of good links in it. Again, sorry, my fault.

  29. Foppe says:

    Yalensis: Glad you’re enjoying it; money indeed is a most peculiar phenomenon. I would recommend you stop watching for the moment, though, and read a fantastic book I’ve just read on this topic — David Graeber’s recently released Debt: The First 5000 years. It explains the relationships between social bonds, obligations (the vague notion of owing someone a favor) and money (which he argues really is a ‘quantified promise/obligation’), and then currency, (debt) slavery, taxation, and pretty much everything else you can think of😉. If you want some a few more hints of what’s discussed in the book see this shorter (15/25mins) interview or this longer (1h) one, or this, or this text interview. It is, in that regard, quite a nice coincidence that you would mention Wagner now, as I just read this about him:

    Oddly enough, Richard Wagner, composer of the opera Parzifal, first suggested that the Grail was a symbol inspired by the new forms of finance. Where earlier epic heroes sought after, and fought over, piles of real, concrete gold and silver — the Nibelung’s hoard — these new ones, born of the new commercial economy, pursued purely abstract forms of value. No one, after all, knew precisely what the Grail was. Even the epics disagree: sometimes it’s a plate, sometimes a cup, sometimes a stone. (Wolfram von Eschenbach imagined it to be a jewel knocked from Lucifer’s helmet in a battle at the dawn of time.) In a way it doesn’t matter. The point is that it’s invisible, intangible, but at the same time of infinite, inexhaustible value, containing everything, capable of making the wasteland flower, feeding the world, providing spiritual sustenance, and healing wounded bodies. Marc Shell even suggested that it would best be conceived as a blank check, the ultimate financial abstraction. (Debt, p. 296)

    • yalensis says:

      @Foppe: Thanks for that. I will definitely read the Graeber book, it sounds fascinating!
      Re. the discussion of the Grail as a form of abstract currency, I read an article about these Pacific Islanders called “Yapese” who use giant stones as currency.
      The stones are crafted from limestone that is quarried in a different island and shipped to the Yap islands.

      “But … what role do the stones play and how is that role similar to that played by dollars?… [T]he stones, particularly the larger ones, acted as markers, changing hands in recognition of a “gift.” Stones were often merely held until the gift was reciprocated and the stone could be returned to its original owner. For example, islanders wishing to fish someone’s waters might do so by leaving a stone in recognition of the favor. After an appropriate number of fish were given to the owner of the fishing waters, the stone would simply be reclaimed.”

      In one case, a giant stone was lost when it shipwrecked and floated to the bottom of the ocean. Amazingly, the Yapese tribesmen decided that the stone was still “good” currency and could still be used as a marker, even though it was now in the ocean.
      On Wagner: thanks for mentioning “Parzifal”, one of my favorite operas! Wagner’s evolution as an artist from “Der Ring” to “Parzifal” can also be seen as a metaphor of the evolution of capitalism from the commodity phase to the domination of finance capital. In the English version of the Parsifal/Perceval legend, Sir Perceval is not the best or bravest knight in the world, but he alone is qualified to obtain the Grail from the Fisher King, because his heart is pure. Unlike Siegfried, who quickly becomes corrupted the moment he touches the Ring, Parsifal is considered incorruptible. On the other hand, even the Grail is not able to heal the Fisher King’s wound. I see this as a metaphor for the fact that the capitalist system is hopelessly wounded and nothing can stop its eventual demise. (So maybe Perceval is the good-hearted Keynesian trying to save the system?)

      • Foppe says:

        Yes, a major part of the book is about explaining the relationship between these social currencies (in which whatever was used as money played mostly a ceremonial role), and money, coinage, etc.. I think I’ve heard of the Yapese example, but this book shows very nicely how it made sense in such societies.
        Anyway, thanks for your explanation of the Parsifal story; wasn’t familiar with it (and I dislike Wagner for Nietzschean reasons).

        • yalensis says:

          Oh, please do not dislike Wagner! He may have been a poorly designed human being, true, but as an artist there is none better in all of history! Thus disproving Pushkin’s claim that
          “Гений и злодейство – две вещи несовместные” (“Genius and Evil are two incompatible things”).
          Actually, Wagner was never evil, he was just an ordinary, sinful man, a petty crook, womanizer and philanderer, among other things. But his art is a divine creation, just allow yourself to be immersed in Wagner’s music, and forget about the flawed man who created it.
          P.S. Wagner wasn’t a Nazi either, or even a Nietzchean, he was actually a socialist. (Sort of.)

          • Foppe says:

            Oh, don’t misunderstand — I like Nietzsche, I just dislike Wagner (for reasons Nietzsche mentioned). But my tastes run more towards Beethoven/Brahms/Schubert (I prefer the piano and string instruments), rather than the singing/choral/visual compositions that Wagner called Gesamtkunstwerke. But I’ll give it a shot one of these days.

            As for him being a socialist: he never struck me as a very reciprocating man, from what I’ve heard about him, just as someone who wanted recognition because he felt it was his due.😉 (See Debt.)

            • yalensis says:

              I love above composers too, especially Beethoven!
              As for Wagner being a socialist, well, that was pretty much his ideological belief system, although he did tinker with other ideologies too, like feminism and vegetarianism. Also, it is possible to be ideological socialist but still be a selfish bastard. Like me, for example! (And unlike Wagner, I do not have the excuse of being an artistic genius….)

              • sinotibetan says:

                Am I allowed to comment?

                “I just dislike Wagner (for reasons Nietzsche mentioned). But my tastes run more towards Beethoven/Brahms/Schubert (I prefer the piano and string instruments), rather than the singing/choral/visual compositions that Wagner called Gesamtkunstwerke.”

                “I love above composers too, especially Beethoven!”

                Have to admit that I don’t like Wagner’s stuff although I don’t ‘dislike’ them(they are ‘tolerable’). Choral works are not to my taste too. I like Brahms and Schubert too but only some of Beethoven’s compositions. Some of his piano sonatas are fantastic but I think some(apart from the technical brilliance) are ‘lacking'(in ‘tunefulness’). Symphony No.3 in E flat(‘Eroica’), Numbers 4 and 7(I like the slow second movements – especially No.7’s), Number 8 – I think those are masterpieces. I don’t like No.9 though – partly because I am not too fond of choral works…

                “But his art is a divine creation, just allow yourself to be immersed in Wagner’s music, and forget about the flawed man who created it.”
                I agree with this. I like Tschaikovsky, for example….even though I am against homosexuality. Sorry though…I am not a fan of Wagner.

                sinotibetan

                • yalensis says:

                  @Sinotibetan: When I listen to Beethoven I feel like I “get” him. When I listen to Brahms, I feel like he is trying to say something important, but I don’t really “get” it.
                  I don’t know if “chorale” vs “non-chorale” makes a difference in whether I love a piece or not. After all, the human voice is simply another instrument. (Or maybe all instruments are variants of the human voice?)
                  I do adore opera, that’s for sure. If I could choose to live a completely different life, then I would choose to be reborn as an opera singer. Maybe a HeldenTenor!
                  Wagner is an acquired taste, that’s for sure. The very first time I heard Wagner (I think it was at the Bolshoi) I was hooked. He has a cult following world-wide, but it is a minority sub-culture. In order to appreciate Wagner, you have to completely forget about Wagner as a man and just focus on the abstract concept of Wagner as an artist, as a vessel of some kind of divine inspiration. (?)

        • yalensis says:

          @Foppe: Well, if you are interested in the Parsifal storyline, here is the 4-minute animated version that I found on the Intertubes. Note: King Amfortas is one and the same with the Fisher King of the British/Welsh Sir Perceval tradition. So called because King Amfortas spends his days idly fishing in the lake. In the Wagner version he spends all his time lying on his cot groaning in pain.

  30. Foppe says:

    Mark: you might also find this post (“economics debunked”) enjoyable to read.

    Samuelson had one big assumption, that economists call ergodicity.
    [Teacher pauses to give kids time to stumble over the word.]
    When they say ergodicity, they mean that no matter what happens in the world, in the end, everything will reach a point whether things stop changing. That point is called the “equilibrium.” At the equilibrium, everyone will end up with a certain amount of money. The amount of money that everybody gets at the equilibrium depends on how talented they are, and not on anything that happened before. So if you rob a bank, it won’t matter because when you get to the equilibrium, if you’re stupid, you will still have the same amount of money you would have had if you didn’t rob the bank.
    [A kid with disciplinary issues mutters, “This is bullshit. Why do we have to learn this?” Other kids ignore him and try to take notes.]
    What’s more, at the equilibrium point, everyone will have a job, everyone will have lots of stuff, and no one will feel like there is any way that America could be a better country.
    [Eyes glaze over.]
    Actually, what’s kind of funny is that in physics, if there are three stars or planets and gravity pulls them around, what do you think happens? They end up going into orbits around each other. But their orbits will be different if they start out in different places. So it would be kind of weird if an economy with millions of people doing all sorts of complicated things always ended up in the same way, if three planets can end up in all sorts of different ways depending on where they start moving from. But who knows? Maybe the economists are right about ergodicity.

  31. Giuseppe Flavio says:

    Hi all,
    long time since my last comment here. Today there is a “breaking news”, Medvedev backs Putin for Russian president. Mark, you’ve won your bet with ROPV.

    • Sam says:

      Yes! Honestly, I didn’t think it would happen that way. I was so sure that Medvedev will remain president, and that Putin will go. I really really didn’t see that coming, specially after Putin proposed to Medvedev to lead UR.

      • Giuseppe Flavio says:

        In the next days we’ll read a lot of comments and analysis about this announcement. Up to now, the most sound comment I’ve read come from Lavelle at RT: it is a way to boost UR at the next election. Mr. S. Markov from UR expressed the same opinion.
        On the other hand, it seems that the Russian attitude at hyperbole, especially at hyperbolic whining has been absorbed by Mark Adomanis, that writes it is a catastrophic event. I’d like to know the opinions of Russian and non-Russian commenters here, but especially from the formers.

        • Am writing a post on this right now.

        • marknesop says:

          Although I very much admire Peter Lavelle for his courageous stands and thoughtful analysis, that just sounds all wet to me. Putin, who is supposedly falling in popularity himself, is selected for coronation in order to boost his party’s popularity? How does that work?

          In fact, UR would win easily if either Medvedev or Putin led the party, and even those who loathe them both grudgingly acknowledge that’s true. The party has no serious competition, which – despite all the twaddle about UR’s “unpopularity crisis” – is due to its success at leading Russia to an enviable economic position and a steadily improving lifestyle for its people, rather than Machiavellian voter manipulation and ballot-box stuffing. It’s hardly necessary to manipulate voters who are going to put you in the driver’s seat no matter what, and that’s because UR has a track record of success.

          The fact is, some Russia watchers who were sure the candidate would be Medvedev are now trying to make it look like they were tricked by a storyline of surpassing cleverness. You can decide for yourself if you want to buy it.

          • Giuseppe Flavio says:

            I interpreted Lavelle’s stand as meaning that the announcement, not the decision, was timed to increase UR success at the next election. UR will win the elections anyway, but why not increase its chances? Besides, to my knowledge Lavelle has not made any prediction about the 2012 presidential election candidates. His most recent article before the announcement I’m aware of is this.
            Secondly, I don’t see anything Machiavellian or manipulating in this behaviour, it’s a common way to do politics, something like “by voting this party you’re voting this popular guy as President”.

            • marknesop says:

              In that context, it makes a great deal more sense, and I thank you for pointing it out. My point was that the blathering about Putin’s supposedly tanking popularity is just that – nonsense: as a prospective national leader, there’s nobody close. That’s from the viewpoint of the people who he would lead, and – strangely, I know, since no other country follows this practice – people who are citizens of other countries are not allowed to cast a vote in Russian elections.

              Imagine the hoots of derision from the USA if Russian analysts were to propose a blueprint for American electoral success on the part of the opposition, saying “America must do this or that” if it hopes to save itself from certain destruction – what do Russians know about American politics? But the same people see nothing wrong in firmly steering other countries in the direction they think those countries should go. It’s certainly not limited to the USA, of course, but the USA is a prominent example. It is also notable for interfering in the politics of other countries in order to help its choices become reality. You don’t see much of that going the other way, and Americans would loudly reject it. Except of course for Israel, which is a special case, and you would need to look no further than the recent Republican leadership debates to see that: each candidate was rated on his or her unconditional support for Israel.

              I agree there’s nothing Machiavellian about strategically-timed announcements in order to influence public opinion, and indeed every country that has elections does this. I was referring to other supposed heavy-handed techniques – of which Russia is regularly accused – such as businesses compelling its workers to vote for “the ruling party” or lose their jobs, that sort of thing, when in fact in the case of presidential elections it is merely people casting their vote for the leader they think is most likely to make their lives better. Advance polls regularly support this.

    • marknesop says:

      Woo HOO!!!! Can’t say I’m disappointed, although I thought Medvedev was all right as well and there’s little doubt he would have won if he had stood for election.

      I’m afraid I don’t understand all the kerfuffle about there being more parties and more choice – isn’t half of America always bitching that the government is too big? Yet it seems what Russia needs is a lot more politicians, who really don’t do any work but get paid more than workers do or are already independently wealthy. And why should there be a bagful of parties that don’t have a hope of getting elected? Polls consistently show it as either United Russia or KPRF – I can’t believe the west wants Russia to go back to Communist rule. What it really means is the west wants Russians to elect liberal reformers, with no evidence that their rule would benefit Russians in any way and a nasty track record of fiscal imprudence that nearly wrecked the country following them around like stinky baggage.

      I owe you a beer for being first with good news, Giuseppe, and it’s great to hear from you again! I can’t wait to read the Adomanis piece, since this is the first I’ve heard of it.

      • Giuseppe Flavio says:

        Hi Mark,
        I’ll gladly accept the beer, when we’ll meet someday. Re. Russian parties, the western rule seems to be that if a party partecipates to the elections, then it is a “Kremlin puppet”. Under this assumption, no matter how many parties run for the election “there is no democracy in Russia”.

      • yalensis says:

        Am I allowed to say “I told you so”? I predicted 6 months ago that Putin would run for prez again. And слава богу that it came to pass, Russia needs strong leadership right now because there are some very tough years ahead. West will be quite upset, though. Expect Putin to become new bogeyman du jour of Western propaganda.

        • marknesop says:

          New bogeyman du jour? I must have missed the phase when he was popular with the west.

          Actually, to be fair, Putin did enjoy a brief honeymoon when the west was still taking him for a test drive, back when George W. Bush “looked into his soul”. If Dubya said he was all right, that was good enough for America, and the western press ran photos of Putin shirtless while fishing without captioning it with snide remarks about his “he-man complex”. But it wasn’t long before they announced with disappointment that he was just another KGB hoodlum, feathering his own nest with the riches of Russia while his people starved, the bottom fell out of the birth rate, billions of dollars in Russian capital fled to the west and the cream of the workforce fled the country.

          • yalensis says:

            @Mark: Yeah, you’re right, Putin was more like the “bogeyman du decade” for Western press. Dubya loved our guy, but nobody else did (snif). Check out my comment on Anatoly’s blog: I posted a multimedia video rendering of what the new Putin regime with look like: blood-soked aging dictator (in the future Putin grows a long beard) immersed in drunken revelry plotting downfall of his enemy (the young fool, aka liberal democratizer,who pretends to the Tsar’s rightful throne) while his singing-dancing oprichniki (predecessors to FSB) literally bring down the house with their big show number!

            • marknesop says:

              I saw that, and I laughed out loud; it was pretty funny. But what will be even funnier will be the “expert” articles to follow featuring ominous warnings that it’s going to be just like that.

        • marknesop says:

          I think I’m still ahead of you; if you go back far enough in AGT, you’ll find a conversation in which I described Medvedev as just a placeholder for Putin until he decided to return to power. Sadly, I allowed myself to be convinced that I was being naive and shortsighted, so maybe that doesn’t count, but it was a lot longer than 6 months ago. But I’ve been coming back around to the “Putin will lead Russia again” view for some time, and the bet with Patrick Armstrong was just getting it on the record.

          Anyway, I too am delighted. Not least because it will make La Russophobe’s blood pressure reach escape velocity. You’d think she’d be grateful for something to write about.

          • Speaking of which, it’s high time for you to make a new post!😉

            Perhaps on this issue?

            • marknesop says:

              I know, I have been delinquent and I am greatly shamed, but I’ve been busy with something else that takes all my attention, much to my chagrin. I had an issue Foppe sent me that I planned to explore, and I imagine the Putin issue will have been done to death by the time I get something out. But we’ll see.

              But while I have your attention for a moment, I wanted to solicit your interest in a possible collaborative project. I’ve been meaning to take a stab at it for some time – “Everybody Wants to Rule the World: the Nature of Government”. Proceeding from the accepted government models (Monarchy, Constitutional, Democracy and Dictatorship) and bearing in mind Aristotle’s apprehensions, here;

              “Aristotle, a Greek political philosopher of the 4th century B.C., distinguished three principal kinds of government: monarchy, aristocracy, and polity (a kind of enlightened democracy). The differences among them chiefly concerned whether power was held by one, by a few, or by many. Aristotle thought that the selfish abuse of power caused each type to become perverted, respectively, into tyranny, oligarchy, and a lower form of democracy characterized by mob rule. Monarchy tended to become tyrannical because it vested authority in a single ruler. Aristocracy, a government based on birth and privilege, in which the rulers governed for the good of the whole society, tended to become oligarchy as a consequence of restricting political power to a special social and economic class; only a few members of the class would have enough drive and ability to acquire the power to govern. The polity, likewise, would deteriorate into ochlocracy, or mob rule, if the citizens pursued only their selfish interests”

              each of four of us (it was my idea, so I pick Dictatorship) would defend a particular model using a common format – somewhere such a government could be said to prevail, what works well with the model and what does not, qualifications on where the model differentiates from its accepted principles (for example, Russia – which I would choose – is not truly a dictatorship), a leader who exemplifies the chosen model, and any other parameters that might be proposed. I thought you and I and some two other volunteers might tackle it, no particular hurry: government is not going away anytime soon. What do you think?

        • cartman says:

          Do you think he will run for all 12 years? The extended 6-year-term seems like it was intended to allow a person to get everything done in one term. Also, I wonder if Lula is coming back since Dilma was also considered his placeholder.

          • marknesop says:

            I think that would depend largely on how Russia was doing at the end of his first term. If he had mostly achieved his goals for the country, maybe he’d step down. But he’s in good health, relatively young, and the temptation to stay on would likely be substantial. For somebody in his position, it’d be easy to convince oneself that all one’s gains would slip away without a firm hand on the tiller, even if everything in the first term went perfectly. Also, a lot would depend on who was in line for succession.

  32. Foppe says:

    I’ve got a much better present for you:
    Putin Must Overhaul Russia’s Economy or Risk Brezhnev-Style Stagnation

    Vladimir Putin must overhaul Russia’s public finances and wean the economy from its dependence on oil while staving off social discontent. If he doesn’t, his return to the presidency, which may overtake Leonid Brezhnev’s 18-year rule, risks an era of stagnation.

    Putin, 58, said Sept. 24 he’ll seek to return to the presidency in March elections, pushing aside his protégé, Dmitry Medvedev, who replaced him in the Kremlin for four years because of a constitutional ban on three consecutive terms. Medvedev may take the role of prime minister, a move which Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, respected for his budget discipline, said would prompt him to quit.

    Putin would take the country’s job just as the global slowdown threatens to throttle demand for oil, the lifeblood of the Russian economy. The risk is that Putin, an officer in the Soviet-era KGB who says economic-policy makers must avoid “liberal experiments,” will struggle to combat challenges that threaten the country’s long-term growth prospects.

    Economic changes “will entail political risks, unpopular decisions, and I’m afraid that will stop Putin,” Yevgeny Yasin, who worked as economy minister between 1994 and 1997 and is now the director of the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, said yesterday by phone. “Russia has yet to reform many institutions which are the legacy of the Soviet era.”
    Global Turmoil

    Concern over the global economy and Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis has roiled markets in Russia, which saw its economy contract 7.8 percent in 2009, its worst recession on record. Russia is vulnerable to swings in oil prices and will have to cut spending, including pensions, to bring its budget into line and its dependency on commodity exports, the International Monetary Fund said on Sept. 21.

    The world’s largest energy exporter saw the price of its main export, Urals crude oil, fall more than 7 percent last week to $104.93 a barrel, $10 below the level required to balance the budget.

    Speculation over who would run for president pushed Russian equities evaluations to the lowest in emerging markets. The Micex index slipped 12 percent last week, dropping valuations on the measure’s 30 shares to an average 4.7 times of member companies estimated earnings, the cheapest among 23 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg.

    The ruble has slumped 10 percent against the dollar in September and is poised for its worst month since January 2009, according to Micex prices compiled by Bloomberg. The currency was unchanged at 32.0475 per dollar late on Sept. 23 in Moscow, the lowest level since Aug. 17.
    [then a bunch of roughly accurate stuff in the middle to make you trust their analysis, and then it ends this way:]
    Capital Flight
    Russia, which had $31.2 billion in capital flight in the first half of the year, could see that rise to $100 billion and suffer a sharp increase in the brain drain as educated Russians seek to emigrate, said Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader and a former deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin.
    Russians are becoming increasingly frustrated, said Nemtsov. “When people see they cannot replace the government peacefully through elections, they come out to the streets.”
    The Russian prime minister made his announcement at a packed congress of his ruling United Russia party, which former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev earlier this year said reminded him of the “Communist Party in its worst years.”
    Gorbachev, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for helping end the Cold War and who introduced a policy of “glasnost” or openness, in July urged Putin not to run for president, which he said “will lead to a situation like in Africa where leaders sit and rule for 20 or 30 years.”
    For Putin, the need to show ordinary Russians he was on their side was more important than concerns over the length of his presidency.
    “Taxes for people with high incomes, for the rich — and we have more and more of these people — should be higher than for the average class, the majority of citizens,” he told the United Russia party in Moscow on Sept. 24 where he received a standing ovation. Higher taxes for the wealthy should fall “primarily on consumption, real estate and property,” he said.

    • marknesop says:

      Indeed, that one’s too good to pass up. I can talk about the succession while flailing at the bullshit content, which appears to offer a target-rich environment. Thanks!!!

  33. sinotibetan says:

    Mark,

    Looks like you’ve ‘won the bet’. So, Putin will be the Presidential candidate.

    Anyway, ‘fiscal hawk’ Kudrin said he would quit if Medvedev becomes premier in the next government(http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/09/25/56699309.html). Looks like the ‘civiliki’ are divided and previous ‘analysis’ that grouped Kudrin with Medvedev appeared to be flawed. Nevertheless, I still think that Putin would persuade Kudrin to stay on although I am not sure how he’s going to do that and should he stay on , what particular ministerial post.

    Anyway, mainstream Western media has come up with the usual ‘analysis’ of the situation – and some more ‘goodies’ for you :-

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5e30152e-e78c-11e0-9da3-00144feab49a.html#axzz1Z2YtnMHP

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/26/world/europe/for-russias-liberals-putin-announcement-stokes-woes.html

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2094817,00.html

    I expect more interviews with Nemtsov and Kasyanov in the weeks to come. Enjoy!

    sinotibetan

    • marknesop says:

      In fact, as I learned from a BNE alert, Kudrin did quit. Therefore, a new Finance Minister will be required in short order, although Kudrin did say he would talk with Putin. Perhaps he’ll retract his resignation. The west will likely use Kudrin’s departure to argue that the fiscal stability Russia spent years building is now destroyed, and Russia must start all over again earning investors’ confidence.

  34. Mark (and all others, for that matter):
    What does the return of Putin to the presidency mean for the conduct of Russia’s foreign relations with the “near abroad”? with NATO, USA, UK, Canada, Japan?

    • Foppe says:

      What is the Levada polling center exactly? this notes that 15% of russians are “well-informed” about the Magnitsky case, while “44% support foreign sanctions over malprosecution”?

      • marknesop says:

        It’s an independent, non-partisan research center that started up in 1987. The government often uses it, but is unable (theoretically) to skew its results. Generally speaking its conclusions are both accurate and respected, but that depends strongly on the sample group. If, for instance, you surveyed the cited 1600 Russians on the question discussed here and a majority were from Moscow (I’m not sure what exactly are the criteria for a poll to qualify as “Russia-wide”), you’d weight the “yes” response to “Have you heard of Sergei Magnitsky?” substantially in favour of the positive. You also have to look at the exact wording of the question and review the responses, as news outlets quite often scream “Levada results support such-and-such a conclusion” (such as a high number of Russians believe denial of medical care to Magnitsky by officials was deliberate) when the phrasing of the question in fact does nothing of the sort. If I had to guess, what is the pointers here are more indicative of is that the western (Browder) narrative is dominant and winning the PR battle, as what people believe these days is not necessarily or even frequently the whole truth. It is more dependent on what they’ve heard or read than what is true.

  35. kardon says:

    What a hatchet job. An amazing amount of irrelevant facts and wild-ass guesses, plus more than a whiff of antisemitism in your sources (Suspicious Deaths – seriously??).

    How shocking, a businessman out to make money and yet another stupid law from Congress. And Magnitsky MUST be bad ’cause the SK, that paragon of virtue, has charged him! I originally thought the title of your blog was slyly ironic, but I see now it’s simply the truth.

    • marknesop says:

      Ah, yes, of course: antisemitism. Anything that links anyone who happens to be Jewish with anything unsavory is automatically antisemitic, and the antisemitism noise machine takes over. If you read back in the comments you would have seen that I took pains not to point the finger at anyone just because he or she is Jewish, and the suggestion Browder is an unscrupulous crook was quite enough for me, although I am no fan of Zionism.

      The cataclysmic crash of the global financial system was entirely precipitated by businessmen out to make money. And, oddly enough, no amount of money is ever enough. But I suppose that’s OK with you.

      • kardon says:

        “The cataclysmic crash of the global financial system was entirely precipitated by businessmen out to make money. And, oddly enough, no amount of money is ever enough. But I suppose that’s OK with you.”

        Uh, no, it’s not. But if you’re trying to put the crash of the global financial system on Browder, you’re reaching. And if you’re not, why bring it up here?

        If he “just happens” to be Jewish, then why mention it? Do you note the religious affiliation of everyone you write about, if you know it? I’m guessing the answer is no.

        Yes, I read your comments in the post. I also read Suspicious Deaths and your acknowledgement of it. You’re judged by the company you keep.

  36. Jaana Laine says:

    Greenmailing. Browder’s hobby is called “greenmailing”. That’s when a minor shareholder blackmails a company and undermines its credibility in order to indirectly take down the value of its stock shares, before government intervents and restores their value. Thank you very much for your so enlighting post and your off-the-beated-track (for a Westerner especially) analysis. I wish more people and Media sources knew these details. All the best to you.

  37. Pingback: But Always, A Hero Comes Home

  38. Pingback: It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know: Deconstructing William Browder | THE UNHIVED MIND III

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    • marknesop says:

      Israel Shamir has done a great post on Browder and Nekrasov’s film, for The Unz Review. It looks like things might be starting to tip over for Mr. Browder, and as I have said here and elsewhere, his own discomfiture is far less important than the exposure of the Magnitsky Act as the cynical fabrication it was. It’s exciting to be cited as a reference in this article, which brought a couple of revelations for me because I have not seen the film – apparently, Magnitsky gave an interview in jail in which he expressed fear that Browder would have him killed so that he could prevent him from betraying Browder. That is complete news to me, and I have no idea how well-substantiated it is. If it was on video and will pass the smell test for not being dubbed or faked, Browder’s ass is grass. Check it out, it’s a really good read.

  41. Pingback: The Untouchable Mr. Browder? | Réseau International (english)

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  43. Pingback: MR BROWDER, IL NEMICO NUMERO UNO DI PUTIN | micheletocci

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