Adventures In Two Worlds: Vladislav Inozemtsev Phases In And Out of Reality

Uncle Volodya says, "History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it."

I’ve been thinking back over my lifetime quite a bit lately. Not that flash-before-your-eyes thing that’s supposed to happen when your death is iminent; more like a thoughtful, deliberate inventory. I can’t honestly recall doing anything really, really bad. Well, there was that time in junior high when I stole some ice-cream-on-a-stick treat from the grocery near my school by shoving it down the front of my pants. The clerk at the checkout knew I had it, too, but I grew up in a small town where every adult knew your mother, and those were different times. Rather than embarrass me with confrontation, she simply engaged me in small-talk about my family until it had melted down my legs inside my jeans. It worked, too. I never stole anything frozen again, and I never forgot the lesson.

Well, where was I? Oh, yes. I can’t recall doing anything really bad, but it seems I’m being punished for something disgraceful. I’ve said on numerous occasions how thoroughly I despise economics – but every member of the Russian liberal intelligentsia the west trots out these days to support its theory that Putin will crush Russia in his kung-fu iron grip, or to lecture Russia on the path it must take… turns out to be an economist.

The latest in the conga-line of straitjacket mannequins is Vladislav Inozemtsev, author of a somewhat scolding diatribe for the Washington Post, entitled, “Keeping Russia From Turning Back” (thanks, sinotibetan).

Hey, remember the character of “Reverend Jim” Ignatowski on the TV Sitcom “Taxi” (1978-1983)? Jim was pretty burnt out from systemic drug abuse (you could make fun of people for things like that on TV back then), but every once in awhile he would experience an epiphany when his brain and current events came briefly into alignment. When asked to explain this phenomenon, he replied somewhat dazedly, “I tend to phase in and out of reality”.

So does Vladislav Inozemtsev, apparently. Or at least he lives in alternate realities, where now Russia is kicking ass and taking names, and now it is a smoldering wreck with a gibbering Vladimir Putin at the helm as it spirals ever downward into the fiery heart of hell. How, we must ask ourselves, are we supposed to know when he is being serious?

Well, let’s see how his latest effort stands up to comparison with his previous directives. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about economists, they love to see their opinions in print. If there’s another thing I’ve learned about them, it’s that they like to forecast every possible way a situation could turn out, so that no matter how things end up, they can point to one of their theories and say triumphantly, “See? I was right”. They also often forget every contradictory theory they wrote. So let’s help Mr. Inozemtsev out a little.

First, let’s look at Inozemtsev’s contention that “Putin knows that more than half of Russian voters recall the Soviet past with affection”. Fact-checker says… Horseshit. I thought economists were supposed to be good at mathematics. Here’s the report of the scientific survey that informed Inozemtsev’s conclusion. Mendelson/Gerber also attempted to frighten the world with their suggestions that Russians in love with their vision of the Soviet Union would try to recreate it, but the poll results suggest otherwise. To the question, “If Stalin were running for president today, would you vote for him?”, 13% of Russians under 30 surveyed said yes. A block of 46% said definitely not. A further 21% said probably not, although Mendelson/Gerber creatively spin this to indicate likely yes, as if they could read their minds. Even if you add 21 and 13, you still don’t get “more than half”. The over-30’s voted slightly higher in favour of a President Stalin, but nothing like half. Later Mendelson/Gerber bemoan their conclusion that not enough young Russians know who Andrei Sakharov was: Russia needs real heroes, they say, and if the response of a university student who didn’t know who he was is typical country-wide, the country is in very serious trouble.

Let’s put that in perspective, shall we? According to research conducted by Dr. John D. Miller of Northwestern Medical School, 1 in 5 adult Americans thinks the sun revolves around the earth. More recently, a study reported in the Associated Press found that while 22% of Americans could name all 5 characters on the cartoon “The Simpsons“, only 1 in 1000 Americans could name all 5 freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. Could the United States be in very serious trouble, do you think? Once again, I’m not picking on America out of dislike for Americans, because I do not dislike them – rather, it’s because the authors of the Mendelson/Gerber report are Americans.

So. There is no evidence whatever to suggest more than half of Russian voters recall the Soviet past with affection – the Mendelson/Gerber study was the most comprehensive of all conducted, and the legwork for it was done by the Levada Centre, which is assessed as pretty credible. The study in fact found that a significant number of respondents were ambivalent, and did not want to commit to an opinion. That was spun by the report’s authors as a reluctance on the part of Russians to acknowledge the horribleness of their past, and to grovel in the dirt and beg western forgiveness for it while embracing role models chosen for them by the west. This is Inozemtsev pulling numbers out of his ass, which is a bad start for a career in economics.

It doesn’t get better, I’m afraid. Inozemtsev appears to low-ball Russian GDP per capita, at $10,360.00. Other sources which purport to be reliable have it significantly higher, at $15,900.00. But whichever is accurate – and I suspect it’s somewhere in between – it as usual does not tell the whole story. Inozemtsev is using the numbers to argue that authoritarian rule in general is bad for GDP. Is it, really? Look at the rate of climb for GDP – remembering that this figure represents Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) – for Russia since 1999, compared with the same period for the USA. Russian per-capita GDP rose nearly 3 times as rapidly, by a factor of 3.7 against 1.3 for the USA. In addition, the unemployment rate in the USA is considerably higher. Authoritarian Russia managed to drive rapid gains in purchasing power for its citizens, while keeping unemployment down around the same level as Germany’s. Germany is the powerhouse economy of the European Union, the one everyone looks to when they think “bailout”.

You can make statistics say just about anything you want, by playing up this while you play down that. Vladislav Inozemtsev wants to make them say things sucked under Putin, and that citizens should prepare for them to suck worse under a reprise of Putin leadership. How credible is Inozemtsev? Let’s see.

Inozemtsev, November 2011: “As [Russia’s] ruling plutocracy seeks to turn back to the Soviet past, the attraction of a European future looms brighter.” Inozemtsev, March 2011, in “The American Interest“: “Many Western experts today portray Russia as a country spiraling down into totalitarianism, slowly (or not so slowly) following the path of the Soviet Union, whose authoritarian regime crumbled under growing pressure from an emerging civil society…Unfortunately, all of these assumptions are wrong. Contemporary Russia is not a candidate to become a Soviet Union 2.0. It is a country in which citizens have unrestricted access to information, own property, leave and return to the country freely, and develop private businesses of all kinds…Clearly, this arrangement—economic freedom coupled with political constraint—does not please everyone. To the standard American mind it suggests that something has got to give. This, too, is wrong. Some Russians do give voice to dissatisfaction with the current regime and the widespread abuse of power by police authorities, local officials and oligarchs closely connected with the ruling bureaucracy. Yet the system seems fundamentally solid and durable.” What a difference a couple of months make; I can’t help observing that in March, Inozemtsev did not know Putin would stand again for election to the Presidency.

Want to do another one? Sure; Inozemtsev, November 2011: “Accordingly, leaders in Brussels should rethink certain myths. Russia is big, but not too big for Europe; as an E.U. member, it would be the second-largest national economy and add one-fourth to the E.U. population…Russia has a kind of a European people but, unfortunately, not a European-type government. Inozemtsev, February 2007, in “Global Affairs“: “Today, Russia and America are very much alike. At the same time, they dramatically differ from Europe, which had an enormous historical impact on them…The first thing that strikes the eye when making a comparison between the United States and Russia is their remarkable similarity as very special people – “chosen” and “messianic.” I see. Russia would be a perfect choice for Europe because its people are like Europeans, except when they’re not. And then, they’re just like Americans, who are not like Europeans even a little bit.

Oh, all right – one more. Inozemtev, November 2011: “In a world orchestrated by three centers of power and wealth — the United States, the European Union and China — Russia can play a significant role only if it strengthens the beleaguered European “pole.” Inozemtsev, again in Global Affairs, March 2006: “ We all are entering a new era in which the Europeans may peacefully live in their united Europe, and the Americans may build their beloved America according to their own projects. But this will be possible only if America and Europe let the rest of the world follow the path of genuine globalization, that is, let each nation and people follow its own course.

Clearly, Inozemtsev has experienced an epiphany. Russia, with its large cash reserves and energy-dominated economy, could best serve the cause of global greatness by joining the European Union, many nations of which are groaning under the most severe austerity budgets since the Second World War, and others of which are trembling on the abyss of bankruptcy’s crumbling edge. As I mentioned earlier, when Eurozone members think “bailout”, they think, “help us, Germany”. Enter Russia, with pots of money, a net energy exporter where the EU is a net energy importer, and a guilt complex over its sordid Soviet past that has it just looking for a good deed to do so it will be accepted by its fellow Europeans.

Here’s a helpful explanation of how Russia could be….well, helpful, as a member of the EU and the Eurozone, by way of Alex Mercouris; ” When Mervyn King (the Governor of the Bank of England) and Ben Bernanke (the Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Board) bought British and US government bonds by printing money (“quantitative easing”) they did so in the knowledge that behind them stood the Treasuries of Britain and the US.  This meant that if there were any danger of things going wrong and of quantitative easing undermining the stability of sterling or the dollar the British and US Treasuries would be in a position to step in and bail them out by raising the necessary money through higher taxes.

The European Central Bank is not in that position. No European Treasury stands behind it.  There is no unified European tax system that could raise money if things go wrong. The EU has no independent tax raising powers. It relies entirely on contributions to its budget from member states who negotiate the size of their contributions years in advance. What would have to happen if the European Central Bank were to print euros in order to engage in a bond buying programme and things were to go wrong is that it would have to turn to European governments for help, which in practice as everyone knows would mean the German government. Given the scale of the European sovereign debt crisis Germany could then find itself facing demands for money running into trillions of euros. With a GDP of just $3 trillion Germany could find it impossible to raise such funds in which case there would be a default.

Economics. Hoo, Boy. Just when you think you understand it. But if you were wondering why economists don’t seem to understand them either, here’s as helpful a guide as I’ve ever read: Thales and I have our fundamental disagreements regarding political philosophy, but I’ve never seen anything as complicated as economics rendered so simple. As he (or she) says, “…acting confident and having conclusive evidence are two different things.”

What was that buzzing noise? Hopefully, it’s Vladislav Inozemtsev, rejoining reality.

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100 Responses to Adventures In Two Worlds: Vladislav Inozemtsev Phases In And Out of Reality

  1. Inozemtsev appears to low-ball Russian GDP per capita, at $10,360.00. Other sources which purport to be reliable have it significantly higher, at $15,900.00.

    The first figure is Russia’s nominal GDP per capita. The second figure is the IMF’s estimation of Russia’s purchasing power parity adjusted GDP per capita (the World Bank and OECD estimate it higher, though, at $20,000).

    • peter says:

      … purchasing power parity adjusted GDP per capita…

      Good boy. I’m glad my patient effort to educate you a bit (part one, part two, part three) haven’t been entirely wasted.

      • Unfortunately, my patient efforts to educate you have not been as successful. For instance, you still believe that the price of a Big Mac can double without inflation.

        • peter says:

          Of course it can: price indices based on different baskets can change independently. What’s so difficult here?

        • peter says:

          Hey, junior, what’s taking so long? Econ 102 is a bit over your head? Can’t say I’m surprised.

          • marknesop says:

            According to the McCurrency Menu, you are correct only if the scenario plays out in the United States, where all the ingredients for the Big Mac are produced. Imports do not figure in GDP or PPP calculations, and some of the countries listed in which the Big Mac is sold for considerably more than its U.S. benchmark are indeed very prone to inflation.

            • peter says:

              I can only commend your attempt to return this discussion to normality, but I’m not sure you’re up to speed yet.

              The point AK stubbornly fails to grasp is that the precise meaning of the word inflation depends on the context — specifically, consumer inflation is not the same inflation that is measured by the GDP deflator. The difference between the two is illustrated quite neatly in the little article I keep linking to.

              That article is also a good example of what clever people do when they try to figure out how stuff works: they sit down with a pen and sheet of paper and actually try. Too bad AK no longer has time for that, he’s apparently too busy trying to emulate his mentor‘s illustrious career.

              • marknesop says:

                I’m certainly willing to concede that in the abstract it is possible for the price of a common item to rise dramatically without attendant inflation, but is it likely? Similarly, is it likely that one form of inflation (consumer, let’s say) will rise without having a similar effect – trendwise – on inflation as measured by the GDP deflator? In my experience, when someone tries to wrestle you to the ground on the issue of something being theoretically possible it is as much as an admission that it is unlikely.

                I have to reaffirm here that economics is not my field and that I was never very good at math, so please excuse any stupidity I might display at it. However, the model you offered (I did read it, several times) is clear that imported goods are not considered when making GDP or PPP calculations. All or nearly all the ingredients in the Big Mac are imported, in order to ensure that except when allowing for irreconcilable cultural differences (no consumption of beef, for example), a Big Mac tastes the same all over the world. The Big Mac is probably not the best model for discussion of inflation rates, but that’s the model that was chosen.

                Russia does struggle with inflation, and removal of state price controls on staples such as flour and milk and cooking oil a year or two ago was heralded as a death sentence for pensioners. I don’t know that it was anything of the kind, and interpreted it (without having to live in Russia on a pension, I must admit, which allows a degree of objectivity that might be difficult to maintain in other circumstances) as an initiative of the state, after having increased pensions several times and committing to continue the favourable trend, toward normalizing market conditions and getting out of the business of state control over consumer goods. That’s positive, surely? I’d point out here as well that, while Russia continues to face inflationary and consumer challenges, inflation was more than 800% under Yeltsin (I presume that was consumer inflation, although it was not specified). It plunged almost immediately to 20% under Putin, and I believe now (without checking) that it’s around 7%, about double what it is in the USA. Again, that’s positive, surely?

                You seem extremely comfortable with economics; is that your field, or something closely related to your field? Although I don’t like economics at all, probably because of my discomfort with mathematics, the discussion is extremely interesting.

                • hoct says:

                  It’s all a bunch of crap anyway. All present day “definitions” of inflation have one purpose and one purpose only — to obscure the fact inflation used to mean increasing the quantity of money in circulation.

                • peter says:

                  … but is it likely?

                  Overcooked, undercooked

                  … is that your field, or something closely related to your field?

                  Not really, I’m a physicist.

                • marknesop says:

                  Hello, Peter; now that you mention it, I feel sure you said before that you were a physicist – please excuse my forgetting.

                  As to this burger index thing, I’m afraid I’m still not getting it. The original argument had you taking the position that it’s perfectly possible for consumer inflation and inflation measured with respect to its effect on GDP to diverge substantially in opposite directions. The article which accompanied the chart you linked merely introduces more variables and consequently more doubt. The Economist speculates that some countries (including Russia) may be “cooking the books” to significantly OVERstate inflation. Why would the Russian government do that, deliberately undervaluing its own currency, knowing that western media sources would pounce on a slide in the ruble as evidence of disintegration? Are they simply amusing themselves by yanking the west’s chain? There doesn’t seem to be any upside to me in making things sound worse than they actually are, and a national government – you’d think – would be the last ones to do it. The sole exception would be to promote foreign investment and build up a trade deficit in your favour, as the Chinese do. But the difference in the trade deficit between China/USA and Russia/USA is huge.

                  Russia is supposedly the second-cheapest place in the world to buy a Big Mac. Consumer inflation in Russia, while higher than it is in the USA, is quite manageable compared to the world standard, and trending down. The Commodity Food Price index (you may have to reset it to 10 years, as I did; it defaults to 6 months) reflects this, prices having peaked last spring and trended steadily downward since. The picture in Russia appears to be one of deflation, if anything, and the GDP inflation index seems to follow the consumer inflation rate reasonably closely.

                  Again, I wish the benchmark for the exercise had not been the Big Mac; although The Economist points out it is a “lighthearted” index, Russians in general are more capable than their obese counterparts of recognizing the Big Mac as flat-pressed garbage, and avoiding something so unhealthy. Using a hamburger as a data benchmark presupposes everyone eats hamburgers, and a lower demand tends to drive prices down.

                • peter says:

                  As to this burger index thing, I’m afraid I’m still not getting it…

                  Okay, forget hamburgers, let’s talk about manly things: cars. Here’s a simple exercise.

                  Imagine a little country with two car factories: one makes good-old-cheap-crap Zhigulis sold locally, and the other proper modern cars for export, say, VW Golfs. Assume for simplicity that local currency is pegged rigidly to the dollar, and that the latter isn’t inflating at all.

                  Fast forward ten years: the Golf is no longer out of reach for the locals, and so the Zhiguli factory is transformed into a second Golf factory. Note that due to the absence of external dollar inflation the Golf must cost exactly the same as ten years ago.

                  Now, the questions are: a) How has the GDP changed? b) Has there been inflation in the GDP deflator sense? c) What about PPP?

                • marknesop says:

                  It is a simple exercise, because it doesn’t mention if there has been movement of prices in other goods, which – if so – might indicate the car industry is heavily subsidized. However, going just on the information provided, the country must have significantly boosted the PP of the domestic currency while the exchange rate against the dollar has not risen at all. There would not have been any significant inflationary pressure in the GDP sense, because if the true value of the domestic currency had really risen, it could not be prevented from rising against the dollar except by artificial means.

                  Economic well-being has gained for the locals, and their money now buys much more, but from the outside the picture would be one of stagnation, considering the Golf has not risen in price in 10 years.

                  This sounds like China, often the object of bitter diatribes from the west for keeping the yuan pegged to the dollar even though its PPP has risen considerably along with the living standard of middle-class Chinese. However, this is a deflationary pressure, and most definitely artificially imposed as the yuan would have risen significantly were it left solely to market forces.

                  Still, since such a situation obviously does exist (in China), it appears perfectly possible for consumer inflation to rise or recede significantly with little or no change in inflation as a function of the GDP deflator. It makes more sense now; thanks for your patience.

                • hoct says:

                  The conclusion that the Golf in the example “must cost exactly the same as ten years ago” is fallacious. Actually to be affordable the Golf must cost exactly what Zhiguli would have cost 10 years ago.

                  Since the US is not inflating, the only way for the land in the example to maintain its peg to the Dollar is to not inflate itself (or only minimally so in the unlikely case its growth exceeds that of the US). Since the supply of money in either case remains essentially unchanged the average salary expressed in money terms has also remained the same, or almost the same.

                  From there it is easy to see that if a citizen of the Exampleland went from earning 300 ELC per month and driving a new Zhiguli to earning 300 ELC per month and driving a new Golf 10 years later it follows the price of the Golf has fallen in the meantime.

                  This is intuitive if we think of the ways electronics become affordable. Where I live a worker could 10 years ago, expressed purely in terms of currency, earn perhaps one half of what he can earn now. However, even on a double salary a worker 10 years ago could not afford a quality flat screen TV, but he can do so easily now. The reason he can do so is then not the (fictitious) inflation driven increase in his earnings, but the immense fall in prices of flat screens.

                  Eliminate inflation (increase in the supply of money) and continuously falling prices would be fact for all items. Cars naturally included.

                • hoct says:

                  Mark, your statement that the true value of the domestic currency had not risen would seem to conflict with your statement that the local’s money now buys much more.

                  The value of the local’s money has in fact risen. The dilemma you are having is easily resolved if you realize that no artificial means are needed to prevent Exampleland’s currency from rising compared to the Dollar if the value of the Dollar is rising in tandem, which given that it is not being inflated it most certainly is.

                  Assuming economic growth a non-inflating currency will rise in value. This is intuitive. Assuming an end to the money printing and given a time-machine you will prefer to spend 100.00 USD in 2050, than in 2025. There will be better stuff to buy.

                • marknesop says:

                  Whoo HOO!! Somebody to take up the economic gauntlet Peter has thrown down! I much prefer economic byplay when I’m not personally involved in it, although being forced to work the problem does make you think in a way you wouldn’t if you were just reading it and thinking, “that sounds right”.

                  What you say does make sense – however, I thought what I said made sense too, when I said it: especially since it is similar to the real economic situation in China. Russia, too, if you take the Burger Index seriously: a national currency that is being kept artificially low to over-value the U.S. dollar, as the international benchmark currency. Common reasons for so doing are to place the U.S. dollar at an economic disadvantage and to encourage foreigners to invest in the domestic currency – in the hopes of making a profit from volatility – as well as purchase domestic goods in the hope of reselling them at a profit (as Wal-Mart most assuredly does; part of the reason it’s sometimes referred to as “China Mart”). What I meant when I said the value of the domestic currency had not risen was that it had not risen in terms of its exchange rate against the U.S. dollar; in short, domestic merchants would sell you much more goods for the local currency, but currency traders wouldn’t give you any more for it internationally. This would imply an arbitrary revaluing by the government.

                  Unless the exercise is some kind of trick, I based my conclusion that the value of the dollar was not rising on the fact that the Golf cost exactly the same as 10 years previous. The Zhiguli plant had closed in favour of another Golf plant, which suggests the Zhiguli did not rise in value or fall in price.

                  Anyway, I’m sure Peter will enlighten us. It’s certainly possible I missed something critical because, as I suggested, a fondness for economic argument does not herald economic brilliance on my part. Fortunately, in the case of the economists I choose to mock, they seem a bit short of economic brilliance as well and their own predictions condemn them.

                • peter says:

                  Actually to be affordable the Golf must cost exactly what Zhiguli would have cost 10 years ago.

                  No, maybe it took locals a few years to save up for better cars, or perhaps they borrowed a little money abroad — either way, this is totally immaterial to the example at hand. It doesn’t even matter whether they buy as many cars as they used to or only half that, the important part is that a) Zhiguly is gone, and b) Golf is exportable, so its price doesn’t depend on what the locals do or don’t do.

                • hoct says:

                  In constructing your example you took time to explicitly eliminate money creation (upward effect on prices) from it, but not to eliminate economic growth (downward effect on prices). At the same time your wording implied strong economic growth in Exampleland (the Golf is no longer out of reach for the locals).

                  You should have probably mentioned your example presumes 10 years of zero total world economic growth. It is both necessary for your construction to be true and unlikely in the real world thus unlikely to be taken as a given.

                  Yes it is true that if the world stagnates for 10 years the price of a new Golf will not change at all. That is like saying that if nothing has occurred in the meantime then things have remained the same.

                  Assuming normalcy (which in my lifetime has meant economic growth) prices expressed in non-inflating currencies drop over time.

                • peter says:

                  In constructing your example you took time to explicitly eliminate money creation…

                  No no I don’t even want to know what “money creation” is, the roots and causes of inflation are totally irrelevant here.

                  I did eliminate dollar inflation (which, by common definition of inflation, just means that goods manufactured in the dollar world, the real Golf included, are assumed to cost exactly the same today as they did yesterday), but for all intents and purposes, this is merely equivalent to counting things in constant ten-years ago dollars.

                • hoct says:

                  You eliminated inflationary pressures, but not deflationary pressures, as if things can only ever get more expensive, never cheaper (electronics). Just because there is not inflation it does not follow there is not deflation. We have in fact recorded periods of deflation and I claim assuming economic growth we would experience one in the scenario you gave. Since you did enough to ensure goods in your example would not at a later date cost more, but did not do enough to ensure they would not cost less, it follows you did not do enough to ensure goods will cost the *same*.

                  For your example to be what you think it is, you should not had talked about a currency which isn’t inflating at all. A currency which isn’t inflating can obviously still be deflating. You should have spoken about a currency which is experiencing zero rate inflation. Then I would have assumed economic growth was being made up for with modest increases in the money supply, thus preventing a (desirable) scenario where greater number of, or a better quality of goods is chasing after the same number of bank notes, in which case it is easy to see their price as expressed in currency will fall.

                • hoct says:

                  Russia, too, if you take the Burger Index seriously: a national currency that is being kept artificially low to over-value the U.S. dollar, as the international benchmark currency.

                  How would Russia go about keeping the Ruble artificially low? I am only familiar with pegs, but I don’t think the Ruble is pegged to anything?

                  Pegging your currency is a foolish thing to do. As anyone familiar with Eastern Europe will know setting the exchange rate artificially high will make your currency unconvertible. Many here will be familiar with phenomena where you aren’t actually able to get any foreign currency at the official exchange rate from anyone including the authorities who set the rate. This is because everyone soon realizes giving away foreign currency at the mandated rate is tantamount to highway robbery and avoids having to sell it undervalued. Jet what we all privately avoid like the plague, some states subject themselves to willingly and think themselves clever for it. Undervaluing your currency is exactly the same as taking bags full of foreign money to Cuba to exchange it. It isn’t something you would do if you actually understood what you were doing. It just means throwing your purchasing power at whoever your are making the exchange with. What China accomplishes with its peg is to subsidize American importers and consumers. It cuts on its own consumption so that more can be consumed by Americans.

                • peter says:

                  Just because there is not inflation it does not follow there is not deflation.

                  Deflation is negative inflation. If it wasn’t clear enough to you from the context that by no inflation I meant zero inflation, maybe you should’ve just asked to clarify.

              • Averko used to comment on my blog and is therefore now my mentor? LOL.

          • Hey, junior, what’s taking so long?

            The fact that I have a life, other commitments, etc.

  2. Evgeny says:

    That’s an interesting article.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Inozemtsev is a member of the political council of the party “Right Cause”, one of the top 10 people the party wants to push into the Parliament and an author of its political program. He appeared on a televised debate recently (discussing national defense with ex-leader of “Yabloko” Mr. Yavlisnky on First Channel):

    May be, the perceived inconsistency stems from the different perspectives of the “Right Cause” 8 months ago and now (and respectively, different personal perspectives for Mr. Inozemtsev)?

    About the USSR, I like the point of view by Dmitry Puchkov. It’s a must read (four not-so-long articles), even if it’s just a personal viewpoint:
    http://oper.ru/news/read.php?t=1051609148
    Mr. Puchkov’s website is reasonably popular — alexa.com says that oper.ru has a daily reach of about 0.015-0.020%, whereas e.g. inosmi.ru has a daily reach of just slightly above 0.030%.

    • yalensis says:

      Thanks for link, Evgeny, pretty good debate. First impression: Inozemtsev is not a very good debater, he mumbles and tends to stray from topic. Nevertheless he made a couple of points. Yavlinsky is a good debater, he speaks clearly and makes his points through emphasis and repetition. Actually, Yav. surprised me a couple of times: at 10:10 he seems to raise doubts about the “new regimes” springing up in North Africa (this is in reference to the fragility of Russian borders on the South and East). I assume he is talking about Libya mostly, although he doesn’t mention Libya by name. Then at 13:40 the context is how USA tries to control the world and Russia does not need such a vast army as it does not seek to control the world, it only needs defenseive army, and he actually says reformed Russian army would need to defend Russia against USA among other possible enemies. Is this normal talk for liberals like Yabloko?

      • marknesop says:

        Yes, I meant to comment on that earlier; I have considerably more respect for Inozemtsev than for any Russian economist I’ve encountered so far, based on his writing rather than his debating skills. He appears to be a very smart man, and his grasp of history is staggering. But, again, any fool can tell you what already happened. Inozemtsev gets better marks than most for drawing the correct lessons from history, but his predictions for the future are all over the place, as witnessed by things he forecast in mid-decade that were not even close to what happened. That’s probably why economists favour the “scattergun” doctrine, in which they predict a variety of outcomes in hopes that one will be right.

        I imagine predicting the course of the national economy is much harder than it looks, because so many seemingly unrelated factors, some of them occurring far away in other countries, can affect it. And such events do happen, always, so it’s no good saying, “this is what the economy will look like if nothing happens to make it look otherwise”.

        It just annoys me when Russian economists use the clout of their profession to make wacky predictions that the western media immediately jump on and give the weight of expert opinion. I suppose what annoys me most, at the root of it, is not even the comically wrong Russian economists but Russophobic western media sources that act as if Russia is the only country that has a small, vocal minority that vehemently dislikes the government. That’s true in every country in the world. The USA is an instructive example, where a crowd of nutjobs – oops, I meant protesters – led by wackazoid guitarist Ted Nugent insisted to anyone who would listen that the leader of their country was not a citizen, but was born in Kenya, and therefore his government was illegal. That movement was many, many times the size of Yabloko or Right Cause or any Russian liberal organization you care to name. Did Russian media begin to clamor for the immediate overthrow of the American government if Obama did not step down at once in favour of John Boehner? Did the Russian government threaten military action if evidence of radical reforms on the part of the American government – effectively turning the leadership role over to the opposition – was not noted without delay? Did Russian NGO’s start distributing free Ted Nugent albums at gatherings and start talking him up as potential presidential material? NO!!! Of course not!!

        Can you imagine the outraged reaction of Americans if anything like that were to happen? Why, then, are Russians just supposed to accept all the meddling as “for their own good”?

      • Evgeny says:

        “Is this normal talk for liberals like Yabloko?”

        Yalensis, I can’t be sure. I’m not a Russian liberal. Perhaps you should ask someone who is one of them.

        • yalensis says:

          Sorry, Evgeny, I did not mean any disrespect to you. I was just throwing a question out there, not even directed specifically to you… I don’t follow Russian politics as closely as I should, so I was surprised by some of Yavlinsky’s statements.

          • Evgeny says:

            Yalensis, you have said nothing wrong. It was a 100% legitimate question. Just I’m sorry that I can’t provide a good answer for that question.

            In fact, who is a liberal? A classic definition is of a freely thinking and/or acting person:
            http://slovari.yandex.ru/~книги/Толковый словарь Даля/ЛИБЕРАЛ/

            But does one think or act really freely if he or she gives full and unequivocal support to actions of the West? I’m not sure.

            As opponents of liberals in Russia note, Russian “liberals” do not deserve to be called “liberals”:
            http://businessmsk.livejournal.com/23352.html

            Of course, there are also true liberals in Russia, but linguistics isn’t in their favour currently.

            Regarding Yavlinsky, you would like to take into consideration the fact that he’s a rep of a political party with 1+ million support. In that quality, he would rely better on his voters, rather than on the opportunity of getting Western aid. Notably enough, in the beginning of 1990s Yavlinsky was a proponent of a plan to retain the shared economical space of the Soviet Union, rather than to tear the Soviet economy aparts. Upon noting that, one would think that he is more of an independently thinking person.

            • yalensis says:

              Thanks for reply, Evgeny. I also don’t care much for labels like “liberal” or “conservative”, they don’t mean much any more. I do have more respect for Yavlinsky now, I think I probably had stereotype in my head that he was something like Boris Nemtsov. That’s why this blog is so great, I learn so much from reading it and interacting with other commenters!

              • Evgeny says:

                You are welcome, Yalensis.

              • sinotibetan says:

                Dear yalensis,

                “I do have more respect for Yavlinsky now, I think I probably had stereotype in my head that he was something like Boris Nemtsov.”

                He is not like Boris Nemtsov. In fact, he used to work for Nemtsov but later had divergent views. Just some stuff from(if you can believe them) wikipedia(as I’m too lazy to do more research). I don’t think he is that ‘independent’…he is after all, a member of the Trilateral Commision and believes Russia(in true ‘Russian liberal’ style) should be a ‘junior partner'(to the US, of course). Different from many ‘Russian liberals’ and yet not so different:-
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grigory_Yavlinsky
                “With the launching of the ‘shock therapy’ reforms by Yeltsin and Gaidar in January 1992, Yavlinsky became an outspoken critic of these policies, emphasizing differences between his and Gaidar’s reforms program (such as the sequencing of privatization vs. liberalization of prices and the applicability of his program to the entire Soviet Union).”
                “In 1992, Yavlinsky served as advisor to Boris Nemtsov who at the time was Governor of the Nizhny Novgorod Region. Yavlinsky developed a regional economic reform program for him. Later, however, their paths diverged, as Nemtsov sided with Yeltsin’s government on most issues, eventually becoming deputy prime minister and one of the founders and leaders of the Union of Right Forces, while Yavlinsky became the leader of liberal opposition to Yeltsin).”
                “Yavlinsky does not conceal his lukewarm view of the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 that occurred while he was negotiating an economic treaty among the republics. However, he never advocated a restoration of Soviet Union or a revision of post-Soviet borders. ”
                “Yavlinsky was at times critical of the US policies toward Russia, particularly under the Clinton administration. Some of the most trenchant of these criticisms are contained in his lecture at the Nobel Institute, delivered in May 2000”
                “At that time, he developed close relations with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an oligarch who positioned himself as an autonomous economic and political player vis-a-vis the Kremlin.”
                “He is also a member of the Trilateral Commission.”
                As for the Trilateral Convention:-
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trilateral_Commission
                And Yavlinsky said this:-
                “For Russia the challenge is a real democracy and market. And, a special challenge to the Russian political elite — to teach ourselves to be a junior partner. It is very difficult. It is necessary to forget all imperial dreams forever and learn to be a junior partner.”
                And questioned by a ‘student’ – it proves his perspective of a ‘junior partner’ Russia:-
                “Student: You mentioned the need for Russia to accept its role as a junior partner internationally. I was wondering if you think most members of the Russian political and military elite share that view, or if you think they are likely to any time soon?
                Yavlinsky: They don’t.”
                From: http://eng.yabloko.ru/Publ/2002/papers/06022002.htm
                And some stuff from wikileaks:-
                http://engforum.pravda.ru/index.php?/topic/225436-wikileaks-usa-and-russian-5th-column-affairs/

                Hope that helps!

                sinotibetan

                • yalensis says:

                  Thanks, Sino-Tibetan, yes, that is very helpful information. That fits more with the image of Yavlinsky that I had in my head before, the whole idea that he wanted Russia to become an American satellite (like, say, Poland). This discussion began because I listened to the Yavlinsky-Inozemtsev debate clip (on defense reform) that Evgeny had posted, and I was surprised at his Yav’s comments at 13:40 when he says Russia needs a defensive army against potential enemies, and that USA itself was a potential enemy. That is obviously in contradiction with Yav’s prior proposal that Russia become a “junior partner” to USA. If you are a Junior Partner, then you would rely on Senior Partner’s army, and buy his tanks and planes, etc. , and you would not arm yourself against him as a potential aggressor. So, either Yav has changed his views vis a vis USA in the past few years, OR (gasp!) he is a slimy politician just saying what his constituents wants to hear. I believe Russian public opinion has become strongly anti-American in the past few years, although I have not seen any scientific polls.

  3. cartman says:

    I brought this guy to your attention a while back. A doomsayer and nothing more.

    https://marknesop.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/sergei-magnitsky-bill-browder-hermitage-capital-management-and-wondrous-metamorphoses/

    Everyone knows that Russian spy was sent to keep the FBI’s eyes peering in Victoria’s Secret dressing rooms so they would miss the fact that the Soviet Union is being rebuilt under their noses. muahahah

  4. The purpose of Inozemtsev’s article is not about economics but about politics and specifically about the Eurasian Union, which is an idea he and various western and liberal Russian commentators dislike. As such it is a fairly typical example of the genre. For example it posits for Russia an entirely false choice between the WTO and the Eurasian Union and implies that Russia must choose between one or the other. There is in fact nothing to prevent Russia from choosing both, which with the recent agreement to its WTO accession is course precisely what it has successfully done. The article also makes the equally false choice between Russia pursuing the reintegration of the former Soviet space (which it attributes variously to Russian imperialism and Soviet nostalgia) and its joining up with the EU states to its west. This choice does not exist because if one thing has become absolutely clear over the last twenty years it is that nothing will ever induce the European states to agree to Russia becoming an EU or NATO member state

    To my mind this sort of article shows just how intellectually bankrupt opposition to the Eurasian Union whether in Russia or in the west actually is. Russian liberals dislike it because they know they will be an insignificant minority within it. The western powers dislike it because they fear its success and understand that if successul it would recreate a powerful centre of political and economic power in Eurasia that might eventually rival their own. Neither the Russian liberals nor western critics can however bring themselves to admit these things so they come up instead with the sort of specious arguments Inozemtsev makes in his article.

    • marknesop says:

      Very interesting analysis, Alex; I disagree, however, that “nothing will ever induce the European states to agree to Russia becoming an EU or NATO member state”. I think that could happen quite easily, given (1) access to Russia’s cash reserves for use by the European Central Bank as bailout funds to keep the EU solvent, and (2) potential for majority ownership by foreign investors in state energy companies. GAZPROM was the most profitable company in the entire world a couple of years ago, and its riches are vested in a non-renewable resource that remains in high demand. Foreign investors would be licking their chops at the prospect of owning large blocks of GAZPROM or ROSNEFT stock, but foreigners are only allowed to own a maximum percentage and it is quite low compared with the state’s interests – that’s where Browder ultimately went too far; trying to use a scam to increase his ownership in GAZPROM beyond what foreigners are permitted.

      But as an equal partner, no, you’re right. Only as a passive raw materials depot, to be looted and exploited by clever European and multinational masters. Russia would be a much more desirable partner than, say, Ukraine, whose finances are a mess and some 70% of whose GDP is directly controlled by its oligarchy.

      Your point about distaste for the potential Eurasian Union on the part of liberals is well taken, and was not among the possible motivations I considered. It makes a great deal of sense, and I thank you for offering it.

    • yalensis says:

      @alexander: As I have many misgivings about Russia joining WTO, I would appreciate if you could explain why you think Russia can do both WTO and Eurasian Union. Are the two sets of financial obligations/regulations not incompatible?

      • Dear Yalensis,

        There is a great deal of misunderstanding about the WTO. The point to understand is that every country that becomes a member of the WTO negotiates the terms of its admission. One of the reasons why Russia’s admission has take so long is because the Russians have negotiated hard to protect their positions. They were not prepared to sacrifice their commitment to the Eurasian Union or compromise on the agreements they had reached with Kazakhstan and Belarus to form the Customs Union. They have also successfully negotiated a period of tariff protection for their domestic car industry and, remarkably, they have also managed to negotiate protections for their domestic banking industry. There is apparently a whole range of other agreements and concessions they have also managed to extract.

        Russia’s success in negotiating entry into the WTO on its terms proves an important point that pro western liberals in Russia should note: playing hardball pays! If the liberals had been in charge of Russia’s negotiations based on what happened in the 1990s in order to achieve entry they would have negotiated away Russia’s positions. To use an English expression they would have sold the shop. By taking a tough line the process has taken a great deal longer but (on the confident assumption that Russia will now join the WTO in December) the Russians will go into the WTO on their terms.

        I would just make a few further points:

        1. I was very amused by your recent use on Anatoly’s blog of an extract from Eisenstein’s Ivan Grozny. You may remember that at the beginning of the film there is a scene at Ivan’s coronation where one of the western ambassadors says that if Ivan proves strong enough the western powers will have to recognise his title of Tsar whether they want to or not. That is exactly what has happened in connection with Russia’s WTO entry. Very simply Russia’s economy and its economic influence has grown to the point where it had become increasingly difficult for the west to go on excluding it. After a certain point it became the west (especially the Europeans) who became more anxious that Russia should join the WTO than Russia since by continuing to exclude Russia from the WTO they found themselves in a situation where Russia could discriminate in its growing domestic market against their companies and in favour of other (Chinese?) companies. As a result it was the western powers who in the end were obliged to make the major concessions.

        2. It is important to say that energy exports, that presently form the bulk of Russia’s exports, are not covered by the WTO treaty. This means that the position of Gazprom and of Rosneft and of the Russian state’s control of its energy resources are unaffected by the WTO treaty.

        3. A fundamental principle of the WTO is that WTO members are not permitted to discriminate between WTO members. This means that if a WTO state grants trade concessions to another WTO state (eg. most favoured nation status) then it must grant the same concessions to all other WTO states. This means that once Russia joins the WTO the US will be obliged under the terms of the WTO treaty to do away with the Jackson Vanik amendment. Probably this will take some time to happen and there may be opposition in Congress but sooner or later the Jackson Vanik amendment will have to be repealed or the US could find itself facing legal action.

        4. I should say that whilst it is probably true that Russia’s WTO accession will not be immediately transformative it will make it more difficult for people in the west to go on pretending that there is something fundamentally different and sinister about Russia. I do not want to exaggerate here. The Russophobes will not go away. At the end of the day however western businessmen are in the business of doing business and with the Russian economy in the WTO they now have one less reason for not doing business with it.

        5. Lastly, one very last point. By trying to blackmail Russia over its WTO admission Saakashvili not for the first time has overplayed his hand. Not only has he entirely failed to get the Russians to do anything that could remotely be construed as admitting Georgian sovereignty over Abkhazia and South Ossetia but in the process he has annoyed the Europeans to the point where they in effect ordered him to make concessions. In the process it seems that he may not even have managed to get Russia to agree to lift its ban on Georgian wine and mineral water imports. Russia has completely and comprehensively won the political duel over Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Take your mind back to the autumn of 2008 and remind yourself of the stern warnings made to Russia at that time. Remember how the Russians were told that “there could be no business as usual”, how the process of Russia’s WTO admission was suspended, the various declarations and demands made of Russia at that time etc. Since 2008 the Russians on the subject of Georgia and of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have not given an inch but the western powers have not only fully resumed their dialogue with them but have now been forced to agree to Russia’s admission to the WTO on favourable terms. As I said playing hardball pays.

        • marknesop says:

          You can’t see me, but I’m applauding.

        • kievite says:

          They have also successfully negotiated a period of tariff protection for their domestic car industry and, remarkably, they have also managed to negotiate protections for their domestic banking industry.

          That’s all nice but the real question is what will happen after this transition period expire and it will expire much quicker that it is necessary to restructure industry and agriculture.

          While transitional period is great I am pretty pessimistic about what will happen next with non energy and steel related industrial sectors and what will happen with agriculture. Ukraine is a good example here. For example milk industry is now under control of foreigners and prices are just staggering (not that different from the USA prices despite 10 times lower average income). It would be interesting to see the analysis of what forces in Russia are “pro-WTO” who are “anti-WTO” and why government took the position of “pro-WTO” forces. I suspect that major energy and metal producers are strongly pro, but the rest is either vary of firmly against. As (by Napoleon observation) financiers do not have motherland they are probably ambivalent😉.

          How I see it WTO is not only about trade of goods and services it is also about foreign financial capital expansion into the country. That’s why USA was so adamant about including financial services in the list of services protected by WTO “free trade agreement”(http://www.citizen.org/documents/FinanceReregulationFactSheetFINAL.pdf) :

          Starting in the late 1970s, the U.S. government and corporations pushed to redefine “finance” from a service that supports the real economy to a tradable commodity whose flow across borders should be uninhibited. Starting in the late 1980s, they successfully pushed for financial services to be included in “trade” negotiations, including those establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO). “The sector was truly unique in that respect, and there is little doubt within the trade policy community that financial sector support in the European Union and the United States was a determining force in concluding the FSA [WTO Financial Services Agreement]” notes a study posted on the WTO’s own website “Financial Services and the WTO: What Next?” The WTO rules require deregulation – and lock-in – of financial services that countries “liberalize” under these terms.

          And this is like a postponed invasion… And neither US not UK or other Western financial companies take prisoners. That’s well known and that’s the main danger. In fact this is a partial loss of sovereignty no matter how you market it.
          May be the main hidden question here is the level of discrimination against Russia goods on major Western markets. Can it be so huge that potential losses from opening financial market are less ? I don’t know. What is interesting here is positive position of Primakov who is probably one of the top Russian politicians:
          http://www.vneshmarket.ru/NewsAM/NewsAMShow.asp?ID=190115

          I think that people underestimate the economic problems that are inherent in WTO accession. Here is a supporting opinion ( http://allmedia.ru/newsitem.asp?id=911043, slightly edited Google translation):

          Russia’s WTO accession will cause damage to domestic consumers. Having the opportunity to purchase imported goods cheaper, they will lose much in income due to destruction of the domestic producers. Such is the conclusion experts of the Center for Economic Research of the Institute of Globalization and Social Movements (IGSO). Russian membership in WTO will make many of the real economy more vulnerable: bankruptcy and declining living standards will be a consequence of an excess flow of cheap import goods. It also would make Russia less attractive for foreign investments, which are now largely directed to the sectors serving the domestic market.

          If the adoption of Russia’s WTO accession will take place with in year, it will be more like a trade of one market for another. The domestic market will be more widely open to foreign goods and export raw materials from Russia to other countries will become somewhat easier,” – says Boris Kagarlitsky, director of IGSM.

          Restrictions on the supply of goods will be removed. “Russia’s WTO accession is highly desirable to the large export-oriented monopolies in current economic conditions, when the stabilization of the global economy comes to an end and competition for customers dramatically increases. This is the main reason behind the desire of western corporations to gain access to the Russian market “, – said Vasily Koltashov, director of the Center for Economic Research IGSM. According to him, in a WTO deal pro-WTO forces betrayed Russian manufacturers who work mainly for domestic market. As a result, the country will receive flow of imported of goods rather than investments, which in turn will result in rising unemployment and falling real incomes.

          West softened his stance on the issue of making Russia into the WTO due to changed in the world markets after 2008. Periodic stock market panics from August to October reflect increasing challenges facing the global economy. Decline in living standards in the euro area makes the question of finding new markets extremely acute. Russian raw materials producers worry about the loss of positions in a shrinking European market, while Western companies are seeking Russian market for dumping all the surplus goods that can’t be sold in other markets. In such circumstances, the attractiveness of Russia’s WTO accession dramatically increased for the West and that explains unexpected flexibility of Georgia. The direct pressure on her from U.S. and the EU secured successful completion of negotiations.

          Liberal analysts have a positive view of the spring 2012 joining the Russian Federation to the WTO. But as early as in May 23, 2011 IGSO submitted sobering report, “Russia’s WTO accession: the threat of economic catastrophe,” which emphasized that the move would deal a powerful blow to the income of workers and industrial sectors producing for domestic market, especially oriented on import substitution.

          • cartman says:

            Should it also be easy to leave the WTO? If China decided tomorrow that it did not benefit from it, then they would probably leave. Small countries do not have much leverage to do this.

          • Dear Kievite,

            Thank you for this. There are many specific points in your comment with which I agree. I will however make a short(ish) response to some others.

            1. The economic sectors within the Russian economy that were most opposed to WTO entry were car manufacturing and agriculture with the agricultural sector worried about loss of subsidies. From what I can tell the Russian government successfully negotiated protections for both. It is important to say that the Russian government sees both sectors as crucial to the economy. I do not think that there is any danger of either sector losing government support any time soon always provided that the present government or one like it remains in power. If the sort of people who ran Russia into the ground in the 1990s ever take control again then of course all bets are off but frankly I do not think that is going to happen. Russia is rapidly evolving into the biggest car maker in Europe with domestic companies like Avtogaz now doing well so given Russia’s big internal market and economies of scale it is European car manufacturers who in the medium to long term probably have more to fear from Russia car makers than do Russian car makers from Japanese or European car makers. The same is true for agriculture probably to an even greater extent.

            2. It is important to remember what the WTO is and what it is not. The WTO is not a free trade zone. By joining it Russia is not exposing its economy to the full blast of competition from stronger industrial producers. That is not to say that WTO entry might not give rise to some challenges. However it is important not to exaggerate or become unduly alarmist. Other industrial powers have joined the WTO and have thrived. WTO entry provides a mix of opportunities and risks and it will now be up to Russia to maximise the one and to minimise the other. Russia has a strong industrial and scientific base and whatever people may think of its government no one says it is stupid so I have no doubt it can and will do this successfully.

            3. Lastly it seems Russia has also succeeded in safeguarding its domestic media from foreign control so that the Russian law that forbids foreigners from obtaining majority control of Russian media outlets will remain in place. Messrs. Murdoch and Co. need not apply.

        • yalensis says:

          @Alexander: Thanks for your very informative and most excellent discussion on WTO.
          I am glad you liked the “Ivan Grozny” clip. It goes without saying that Eisenstein is my second favorite film director of all time (second only to Fritz Lang). His “Ivan Grozny” film is obviously goofy, but also a wealth of images and quotes. The scene you allude to is one of my favorites: Here is the context of that all-important
          coronation scene :

          Фильм «Иван Грозный» начинается мастерски сделанной сценой в Успенском! соборе, где происходит старинный обряд венчания молодого царя Ивана. Обряд совершает митрополит Московский Пимен. Он торжественно возглашает: «И нарекается царем Московским и всея Великая Руси самодержцем!». Это вызывает возмущение не только присутствующих иностранных послов, но и боярской оппозиции, возглавляемой теткой царя Ефросиньей Старицкой.

          «Папа не признает такого венчания!».
          «Император откажется называть его этим титулом».
          «Европа не признает его царем» – злобно шипят иностранные послы. И только один из них говорит про себя, еле шевеля губами: «Сильным будет – все признают…»

          “The pope will not recognize this coronation.”
          “The (Holy Roman) Emperor will refuse to call him by this title [of Tsar].”
          “Europe will NOT recognize him as Tsar,” angrily whisper the foreign ambassadors.
          And only one of them [Yalensis Note: the only realist in the room is the Livonian ambassador] mutters to himself in a barely audible whisper: “If he becomes strong, then EVERYBODY will recognize him…”

          • Dear Yalensis,

            Thanks for this. I too am a great admirer of Fritz Lang. I wrote an interminably long article for a presentation I had to do after I saw the restored Metropolis. In case you ever have the time I give you the link (though of his films I prefer M).

            http://mercouris.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/metropolis-a-film-review-and-analysis-of-the-restored-classic/

            • yalensis says:

              Thanks, Alexander. “M” is a very great film, of course, Peter Lorre is at his best. My personal favorite Fritz Lang film, in fact I believe THE greatest film ever made is “Kriemhilde’s Rache”. (Thea von Harbou wrote the screenplay.) Don’t even get me started – I could write reams about this masterpiece and bore everybody to tears.
              To return to Ivan Grozny, I hope everybody enjoys this “Beaver Song” from Ivan Part II, sung by Ivan’s murderous Auntie Efrosinia to her idiot son (Ivan’s cousin) Volodimir. This has to be one of the creepiest musical numbers in any film, ever!

  5. Evgeny says:

    Just a… wow!

    (Do they talk nuclear war on TV in the Anglosphere?)

    • yalensis says:

      I found this comment on the you-tube channel to above “nuclear war” clip which quotes Sergei Lavrov:

      14 нояюря, глава МИД России Сергей Лавров сделал заявление
      «Конечно, (США) не исключают, и в этом нам тоже признались, что могут быть развернуты боевые корабли не только в Средиземном море, но и в Черном, Баренцевом, Северном, на Балтике, но все при этом остается в рамках все той же позиции, которую нам озвучивали изначально: «Вы не волнуйтесь, это не против вас» – нас это не может устроить»
      aivshin86 2 days ago 6

      Lavrov apparently does not believe that the scenario laid out in the clip is all that far-fetched.

  6. cartman says:

    Here is another new one, though I do not feel like comparing it with all the others.

    “Russians are leaving the country in droves”
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-russia-emigration-20111115,0,762445.story

  7. Foppe says:

    Jesus.. Apropos of nothing mentioned here: Mark Ames, just now:

    See the guy in the photo there, dangling an ax from his left hand? That’s Greece’s new “Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks” Makis Voridis captured back in the 1980s, when he led a fascist student group called “Student Alternative” at the University of Athens law school. It’s 1985, and Minister Voridis, dressed like some Kajagoogoo Nazi, is caught on camera patrolling the campus with his fellow fascists, hunting for suspected leftist students to bash. Voridis was booted out of law school that year, and sued by Greece’s National Association of Students for taking part in violent attacks on non-fascist law students.

    With all the propaganda we’ve been fed about Greece’s new “austerity” government being staffed by non-ideological “technocrats,” it may come as a surprise that fascists are now considered “technocrats” to the mainstream media and Western banking interests. Then again, history shows that fascists have always been favored by the 1-percenters to deliver the austerity medicine.

    This rather disturbing definition of what counts as “non-ideological” or “technocratic” in 2011 is something most folks are trying hard to ignore, which might explain why there’s been almost nothing about how Greece’s new EU-imposed austerity government includes neo-Nazis from the LAOS Party (LAOS is the acronym for Greece’s fascist political party, not the Southeast Asian paradise).

    Which brings me back to the new Minister of Infrastructure, Makis Voridis. Before he was an ax-wielding law student, Voridis led another fascist youth group that supported the jailed leader of Greece’s 1967 military coup. Greece has been down this fascism route before, all under the guise of saving the nation and complaints about alleged parliamentary weakness. In 1967, the military overthrew democracy, imposed a fascist junta, jailed and tortured suspected leftist dissidents, and ran the country into the ground until the junta was overthrown by popular protest in 1974.

    That military junta—and the United States support for it (for which Clinton apologized in 1999)—is a raw and painful memory for Greeks. Most Greeks, anyway. As far as today’s Infrastructure Minister, Makis Voridis, was concerned, the only bad thing about the junta was that it was overthrown by democracy demonstrators.

  8. sinotibetan says:

    Dear Mark,Alexander and others,

    Thanks for the very interesting post, Mark. I did not know that much about Vladislav Inozemtsev until I read your post. Some questions and comments:-

    1.)What is your take on the completely divergent views of Mr. Inozemtsev before and now? I think Evgeny attempted to explain this : “May be, the perceived inconsistency stems from the different perspectives of the “Right Cause” 8 months ago and now (and respectively, different personal perspectives for Mr. Inozemtsev)?” Is it purely coincidental that Mr. Inozemtsev had a 180 degrees turnabout just after Putin-Medvedev announced their plans for a Putin presidential candidature?

    2.)Regarding the EU, Eurasian Union and Russia:-
    “I disagree, however, that “nothing will ever induce the European states to agree to Russia becoming an EU or NATO member state”.”
    “But as an equal partner, no, you’re right. Only as a passive raw materials depot, to be looted and exploited by clever European and multinational masters. ”
    I think, currently and if Russia remains a powerful, independent nation – then Alexander is right: nothing will induce the European states to ever WANT Russia to be in their ‘elite’ EU club. Where would the influence and hegemony of France-Germany be if ‘the Russian monster’ becomes an ‘equal partner’ in the EU superstate making? Anathema to them, indeed! The only time when Russia can become an EU or NATO member would be the following:-
    a.)A weak, ‘Russian liberal'(i.e. kowtows to the West) is ‘manipulated’ to become Russian President.
    b.)With point a.), economic and political turmoil develops. Then, it is hoped that Russia breaks down to ‘semi-independent’ statelets.
    c,)These ‘statelets’ …each on their own wielding paltry political influence would be ‘manipulated’ to ‘join’ the EU just like the Central European states of today did.
    d.)With c.), the “Empire Building” of a ‘Unified European Superstate’ with Franco-German complete hegemony would allow Western powers to have a free hand at all the natural resources.
    Unless this scenario happens, Russia has to be content with an annoying(and at times threatening) EU and Washington.

    sinotibetan

  9. sinotibetan says:

    Dear yalensis,

    1.)”So, either Yav has changed his views vis a vis USA in the past few years, OR (gasp!) he is a slimy politician just saying what his constituents wants to hear. ”
    I think the latter is more probable? Hope I am wrong though.

    2.)”I believe Russian public opinion has become strongly anti-American in the past few years, although I have not seen any scientific polls.”
    Perhaps there would be something in the Levada Polls?
    Nevertheless, I got this dated and ‘without reference’ quote(mentioned in passing with regards to a poll regarding Russian skepticism of Osama’s death some time back)…
    “Part of the reason for the skepticism found in the Russian survey is explainable by anti-American sentiment among the Russian population, which has been experiencing a steady uptick of late. ”
    (http://rt.com/politics/russia-bin-laden-skepticism-poll/)

    sinotibetan

    • Evgeny says:

      Dear Sinotibetan and Yalensis:

      ”I believe Russian public opinion has become strongly anti-American in the past few years, although I have not seen any scientific polls.”

      Definitely, that’s a wrong suggestion.

      59% feel “total good” about the U.S., while 29% feel “total bad” about the U.S.:
      http://www.russiavotes.org/security/security_usa_nato.php

      There’s a good line attributed to some French comedian of the XX or XIX century:
      “Our enemies are dumb. They think that we are the enemies, while in reality it’s they who are the enemies.”

      • sinotibetan says:

        Dear Evgeny,

        Thanks for the Levada poll results!
        Judging from the amount of negative comments in Western sites regarding Russia, it seems that Westerners generally dislike Russia but not vice versa.

        sinotibetan

        • Evgeny says:

          Dear Sinotibetan,

          While the media landscape in the West is definitely skewed, some Westerners are able to see beyond it. Although, imho, the Westerners tend to trust the media to a greater extent than Russians do. At least, when I look at the ratings of the rt.com I see that it becomes increasingly more popular. Although, still not to be compared with such giants as the cnn.com

        • Evgeny says:

          Dear Sinotibetan,

          Also, unfortunately, the Russians seem to know the European culture better than the Asian culture.

          There’s some problem with ourselves which doesn’t allow us to see beyond our national cultures and the all-penetrating Hollywood.

          The lack of interest actually makes us blind, when it becomes a lack of knowledge. And the lack of knowledge leaves us with a very few options at the table.

          By the way, could you, please, name a couple of “must watch” Chinese movies over the last few years? It would be very interesting..

          • sinotibetan says:

            Dear Evgeny,

            Thanks for your comments.
            1.)”Also, unfortunately, the Russians seem to know the European culture better than the Asian culture.”
            Perhaps the many overlaps with European history which Russia played significant role would be one reason. However, I’d say that with Russia also spanning into Asia, I myself have always hoped that there would be better relations between Russia and Asia and a Russia that’s very active in Asia and not in Europe only.

            2.)”the all-penetrating Hollywood.”
            I think it’s not primarily a Russian phenomenon. It’s a global phenomenon. Same here in Asia, Hollywood is so ‘powerful’. I’d always viewed Hollywood as a very effective propaganda machine by the USA. How would I put it? Hollywood ‘sells’ the American image, life-style, values, ‘morals’, ‘viewpoints’ etc. in an ‘entertaining way’. Such that consciously or subconsciously all the world is ‘affected’ by it – either we become influenced and actually ‘believe’ in the values propagated or reacts negatively to them – we are affected. I’d say it’s some form of American ‘cultural hegemony’ – if there’s such a word! If some dude starts a new form of rap or some hideous ‘fashion’ in Hollywood….it will be sadly emulated the world over…even in Asia(in a laughable, clownish way). And this ‘selling of America’ is a source of strength for the American Imperium, in my opinion. One way the USA truly ‘dominates’ our world.

            3.)”By the way, could you, please, name a couple of “must watch” Chinese movies over the last few years? It would be very interesting..”
            I’ll try my best to come up with some movies. Unfortunately, we Chinese are also ‘influenced’ by Hollywood – so I hope you’ll not be disappointed! Anyway, Chinese movies could be those from Hong Kong, Taiwan or Mainland China….with some differences. And quite a number of genres – perhaps those that aid in understanding Chinese thoughts and culture would be the period dramas – encompassing certain traits Chinese people value plus a very Chinese ‘obsession’ with ‘behind the scenes intrigue’. Unlike the Western period dramas that often talk about abstract ideals such as ‘freedom’ and ‘honour’, in Chinese history, strategem and cunning is just as much valued and abstract notions are often downplayed. in other words, pragmatism vs idealism. And of course there are those ubiquitous Kung Fu movies…..more like the action movies of the West. OK, sorry for all these words…here are some(I’ll come up with more when others come to mind) Chinese movies(in categories):-
            Period Dramas:-
            1.) Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I think the Mainland Chinese series have realistic costumes and a lot of war scenes which I like.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_of_the_Three_Kingdoms_(2010_TV_series)
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_of_the_Three_Kingdoms_(TV_series)
            An online version of the great novel is found here:-
            http://threekingdoms.com/
            I like the historical novels. I think Chinese women look the best in their period costumes compared to ‘modern, western’ ones. I also enjoy the court intrigues, the wars, how ruthless the politicians were, how diabolical they were and also ‘how to win’ by cunning and trickery – which would be mocked by the West but not at all mocked by Orientals. Perhaps, this is one great difference between Oriental thought and Western thought. in my opinion,while Orientals are not hypocritical about ‘winning by cunning’, many Westerners claim they abhor such but in practice actually do such(ie winning by trickery). Zhuge Liang is my favourite character.
            Anyway, the novel is set in the last days of the Han Empire with all the corruption, degradation and tumult!

            2.)Water Margin(aka All Men are Brothers)
            About a tumultuous period during the Song Dynasty era.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Men_Are_Brothers_(TV_series)
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Water_Margin_(1997_TV_series)
            [Just to add: even though the Chinese were conservative in sexual mores, a side-novel which emerged from a Water Margin ‘episode’ is essentially pornographic – Jin Ping Mei(translated ‘The Plum in the Golden Vase’ – there are 72 ‘sexual episodes’ in that novel and also a lot of description on sexual fetishes – of course there are no movies produced lest it would be hardcore porn)].

            3.)Fengshen Yanyi(Investiture of the Gods)
            About the debauchery of King Zhou of Shang Dynasty. This is more mystical and ‘fairy story’. Fall of the Shang and rise of the Zhou dynasty – destined to rule China for 900 years!
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Legend_and_the_Hero

            4.) A Chinese mythical story I used to read as a small boy:-
            Legend of the White Snake.(set in Song Dynasty era)
            No good adaptions though. A recent one starred Jet Li but critics say it was a bad movie:-
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sorcerer_and_the_White_Snake

            5.)A mythical story based on the non-Han empires of Liao(ruled by the Khitan), Dali(ruled by the Bai ethnicity under the Duan Dynasty), Xixia(ruled by a Touba dynasty on a Tangut population) and the Tubo Empire called “Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils”.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demi-Gods_and_Semi-Devils_(2003_TV_series)

            Some critically acclaimed(by Western critics) Chinese movies that I(and perhaps most Chinese) don’t fancy:-

            1.) Farewell My Concubine
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farewell_My_Concubine_(film)

            2.)Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crouching_Tiger,_Hidden_Dragon
            One of the main characters was acted by Michelle Yeoh, from my own country.

            3.)House of Flying Daggers
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Flying_Daggers

            Somehow Western tastes are different from mine.

            Of course there are those kung-fu movies starring the late Bruce Lee and Jacky Chan – but these are not my tastes as well.

            Can you name me a few Russian movies that I ‘must watch’?

            sinotibetan

          • Giuseppe Flavio says:

            I’m interested as well in knowing some Chinese movie title. I’ve watched a few recent Chinese movies that weren’t released in Italy and perhaps nowhere in the West. A very good one is Assembly.
            I’d also like to know some “must watch” Russian movies. I’ve appreciated “9th company”, “Brest Fortress”, “the Italian”, “the Ascent”, “Thief” among others, but surely I have missed a lot more.

            • marknesop says:

              Here’s a Russian movie that made me almost weep with laughter when it came out, even though I only saw a few scenes. I’d like to say it was a Soviet response to “The Hunt for Red October”, but it might even have been the other way around, since the latter was released (as a book) in 1984 while this, “Incident in Grid Square 36-80”, came out in 1982. I saw what little of it I did as part of a comprehensive briefing on the Soviet Navy in the mid-1980’s, and it must be Evgeny Mesyatsev at his finest. This is classic Soviet propaganda, in which the Americans are often unshaven in uniform and hung over, and the slightest pressure makes them hysterical. Watch for the couple of actors in actual blackface makeup, supposedly representing black sailors. In the scenes I watched , the crew of a supposed American P3 Orion (it’s actually an IL38 May) are playing cards (if I remember right) and paying no attention to their instruments, performance I’m sure no American military flight crew has ever exhibited. American senior officers call each other by their first names over non-encrypted radio circuits, and military discipline is almost non-existent. The Soviet military personnel, by way of contrast, are models of professionalism and steely resolve. To their great credit, the Americans took no real insult from the film, and found it extremely comical.

              • sinotibetan says:

                Dear Giuseppe and Mark,

                Thanks for the comments. Thanks Mark for the link to the Soviet movie. Wow, the Russians were portrayed as very prim and proper…well, at least that was my impression!

                Hmmm…..seeing that the kind of movies that might interest you both are more of ‘recent’ events(I am more into way back into Chinese history) and perhaps more emphasis of Mainland China(I am from Chinese diaspora and hence more ‘influenced’ by Taiwan/Hong Kong – the movies produced have a ‘different feel’ to that of Mainland Chinese directors – who I feel may be even sometimes morbid or very American-influenced), here are some titles:-

                Red Sorghum – way back in the 1980s – debut of Gong Li.
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Sorghum
                (I wonder if a bit of Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence had some influence[of course devoid of the working class vs bourgeois ramifications] – the affair with a ‘servant’ but mixed/juxtaposed with a ‘realistic’ portrayal of war?)

                By Hong Kong director: Days of Being Wild
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Days_of_Being_Wild

                Raise the Red Lantern – also starring Gong Li.
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raise_the_Red_Lantern

                Unknown Pleasures – about the disaffected youth in China.
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unknown_Pleasures_(film)

                To be honest, I am not so much into some of the “Mainland Chinese directors” as I think they have rather morbid thoughts! Perhaps they have morbid thoughts about their own authoritharian government and transferred those thoughts into movies as a subtle form of protest? A singular theme in Mainland Chinese movie is that of morbidity and despair. Sorry…I have seen those stuff too much in life to want to spend another 2-3 hours seeing even more on cinema. Thought I gave you my opinion.

                sinotibetan

              • Evgeny says:

                LOL.

                Mark, I guess you will like an amateur movie once produced by students of my university, “Rodina v opasnosti”:


                It’s only 20 minutes long. It could be called a parody on a propagandist movie. But I don’t think there’s any sort of a message — it’s just a movie shot for amusement of fellow students.

      • yalensis says:

        Interesting…. This is why scientific polls are important, otherwise we would just have pesonal impressions to go on. There is obviously a “silent majority” of Russians who like America and do not comment on INOSMI blogs to rant their hatred of “Pindostan”. On the other hand, the question posed is somewhat vague. I myself have a reputation of being quite anti-American, however if you were to ask me a general question about American life and people, I would probably also say that I liked America very much and have many positive associations. Just don’t get me started on American foreign policy!
        I also notice, further down, there is a more specific question about whether NATO should fear Russia or vice versa, and if I am reading this correctly, a majority 62% of Russians believe NATO should be feared. I am actually quite concerned about the 38% who feel very comfortable with NATO encirclement, especially after they saw what happened to Libya… 😦

  10. Evgeny says:

    Have you already heard about the recent Rice story? It’s incredible joy and infinite fun.

    Read:
    1) “Condoleezza Rice Blames Georgian Leader for War With Russia”:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/11/condoleezza-rice-blames-georgian-leader-for-war-with-russia/248560/

    2) “Condoleezza Rice Blames Putin for War with Georgia”:
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/condoleeza-rice-blames-putin-war-georgia_609118.html?nopager=1

  11. Giuseppe Flavio says:

    @Sinotibetan
    Thanks for your answer. I saw Red Sorghum years ago, I believe it was the first movie from mainland China to be released in the West. It was good, but at the time it looked slow to me, because I was mostly accustomed with fast-paced movies.
    I didn’t know the other three movies, hope I’ll be able to watch them.
    @Mark
    Thanks for the movie link, it looks like a “so bad it’s so good” one. But I was asking for a good movie, not a movie to laugh at. There are already enough “so bad it’s so good” on Italian TV.

    • yalensis says:

      @Giuseppe: Are you a Shakespeare fan? Yuri Kozintsev’s Russian-language version of “King Lear” (1971) is stilll considered one of the best films of the Soviet era. This Lear is much better than the bombastic British versions who bellow and gesture. This Lear is a frail but snakelike character who learns an important life lesson:

      • Giuseppe Flavio says:

        Thanks Yalensis. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to get this movie from my usual sources. I’ll retry later.

        • yalensis says:

          @Giuseppe: Here is another great movie from the Soviet period, called the “Forty-First”, I remember seeing this at an art film festival when I was a student, and I really liked it. It takes place during the Revolution and Civil War, and is an odd love story between a Red Army peasant girl soldier and a White Guard aristocratic POW. The girl is a sniper and has shot and killed 40 aristocrats so far, she has a notch on her belt for each one of them. I forget all the details, but due to some plot shenanigans they get stuck together on an island somewhere in the river, she is guarding the handsome White officer and they have to wait there for her Red unit to come and rescue her, but as they are stuck together they feel a sexual attraction and gradually fall in love. Very romantic, except at the end he tries to escape and she has to shoot him. He is a likable hero and I recall feeling very sad that she had to shoot him, but at the same time I was glad that the director didn’t cop out and have the heroine choose “love” over “duty”.

          • Giuseppe Flavio says:

            Thanks Yalensis,
            I’ve found this one and started downloading it.

            • yalensis says:

              You’re welcome, Giuseppe. I am just sorry now that I gave away the ending! I hope you enjoy it anyway.

              • Giuseppe Flavio says:

                Just finished watching the movie. Don’t worry for giving away the ending. In a good movie, and this is definitively a good one, the most important thing is how the story is told, not the story in itself. At the least according to my opinion and with some exceptions. I expected the White Guard aristocrat to be a womaniser and the Red Army girl to fall on his tricks and recover at the last moment. Actually their relationship is not so simple, at times the life-hardened girl behaves like a mother for the immature aristocrat.

                • yalensis says:

                  Giuseppe: I am so glad you liked this movie!. You have inspired me to watch it again, because it has been a while. Yes, I do remember that the love story is psychologically complex, and that both characters are completely drawn human beings. That is why it considered is an “art film”, and not some cheap Hollywood throw-away romance, with contrived conflict. I recall that I was also very taken with the girl’s “motherly” attitude toward the likable aristocrat. Well, the Russian peasants were used to taking care of these helpless aristos, after all.
                  I also remember that I felt satisfied (albeit sad) at the resolution, as I felt that was the only possible ending. I do like romantic chick flics, for example, I will watch anything with Julia Roberts in it; yet I cannot stand it when writers make “love conquer all”. For example, one chick flic I completely despised was “The English Patient”. My girl friend forced me to go see it with her. To her credit, she ended up despising it as much as I did, and for the same reason. In this movie the “hero”, played by Ralph Fiennes, completely sold out his country (Great Britain) and opened up the gates of Cairo to Rommel’s army, all for the sake of his true love. The message was “Love is more important than war, or country, or anything else that you believe in.” (Same reason I do not care for novel “Doctor Zhivago”, it elevates love over country and class allegiance.) It did not surprise me when I read somewhere that Bill Clinton considered “The English Patient” to be his favorite movie. Bubba apparently thinks it is okay to hand over your secret map to the Nazis if that is what it takes to get your girl back.

  12. kievite says:

    Soviet films kind of depict the civilization that is irrevocably lost. Like Greek or Roman civilizations. There are many Soviet movies that have dual context: official and unofficial. Most of them got to the screen accidentally. They are easy to watch but have additional layers that not immediately obvious.

    1. Autumn marathon. This is a film that is in a way stronger then Conformist in depicting such character. Everybody probably will recognize such a character in one of acquaintances of coworkers or even relatives but films takes is really outstanding. Some phases from the film became Soviet bon-mots (“Khorosho sidim” — “Sitting pretty” but with completely different and multilayer meaning). See fragment on YiuTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7YR7eVLG6M

    2. Diamond hand: this is subtle (and at times not so subtle) parody on Soviet way of life. Great, amazing actors. There are actually three levels of this movie: first and superficial as a comedy, the second as anti-Soviet propaganda and the third as a tragedy of doomed society. Another firm from which several phrases became Russian mon mots. For example
    – “Champagne in the morning drink either aristocrats or degenerates”, ” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6D-r1CU-VM&feature=related
    – Ya ne vinovata — on sam hotel” — ” I am not guily — it was he who came here” Here is the schene http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngkEZemWqcI

    3. Little Vera. This is a movie that depicts problems of soviet urban life like no other with grim, determined realism. It looks like the director is not big believer in humanity in general as there are no positive heroes. But on the second level this is kind of deep cinematographic study of alcoholic truck driver family with a servile wife, detached son, and young rebellious daughter with her university student boyfriend. The daughter in an interesting, rare female portrait with some elements female sociopathic character (althouth she is able to feel remorse that is an unknown feeling to real psychopath). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAwee7-06eg

    4. Cruel Romance (Without Dowry). Another masterpiece based on story of Russian pre-revolutionary classic. On face level this is a tragedy of talented women that is crushed by soiless society. Another film without positive heros and without happy end. On deeper level this is somewhat like Flaubert Madam Bovary. A woman that is unsatisfied with her position to the extent that this dissatisfaction became a trap and lead her to series self-defeating moves due to which she sinks further and further into abess and at the end perish.
    Here is a fragment from Youtube: A Cruel Romance: And As I Go I Will Say… A Cruel Romance And As I Go I Will Say… – YouTube
    5. Meeting Place Should Not Be Changed About heroism and rogue methods of the post war crime fighting efforts. One of few that shows Soviet crime fighers both on positive and negitive light. Stars Vladimit Vissotski — a cult figure in soviert “author songs” genre. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJ9mPcoENk4
    6. Solaris by Andrei Tarkovski — another sci-fi movie that paradoxically have strong anti-technocratic subtext. On deeper level it is about dual nature of people where good and evil coexists. About tendency of those who have power to destruct everything they don’t understand. This mystical “thinking ocean” has an ability to materialize people’s history or dreams and some history/dreams prove to be quite controversial or even dirty. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Tob56MebI8
    7. Days of the Turbins. A rare film about Civil war in Russia. See frament from YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TBBb_xkCnY&feature=related
    That can be followed to infinity so I would stop here.

  13. sinotibetan says:

    Dear Evgeny,

    Thank you so much!!! Wow….the movies you posted sound really good and I think I’m gonna like the science fiction and WW2 ones definitely such as Seventeen Moments of Spring, The Inhabited Island and the Soviet Classics. I’m definitely into science fiction as well as those ‘Nazi plots to dominate the world’ kind of stuff.🙂

    Is it easy to get non-Hollywood movies in Russia? It’s difficult to get here in my country(except for Tamil, Bollywood, Hong Kong, Chinese, Japanese and Korean – because these have a following here). Surprisingly there are some Polish, French and German movies here(I think promoted by the EU?) but not many Russian ones. I have to scout around in one of the expatriate DVD shops to look for them as nowadays there are also many Russian expatriates in my country(and they are becoming more – I think maybe they are involved as consultants in oil and gas as well as military).

    I am sorry I cannot name you any Chinese science fiction movie that I can recommend. Most of the ones I have watched were from Hong Kong and Taiwan with many as copy-cats of SF movies from Hollywood(plus the stony acting and unconvincing special effects). I think the Chinese film industry is really backward when it comes to the science fiction genre. By the way, I came across this hilarious website…and thought of sharing it with you and the others. I guess the ‘movie’ is self-explanatory. As for the Chinese actor who portrayed ‘those evil Americans’ with the blond wig and fake nose….it’s surreal!

    http://asiaobscura.com/2011/02/chinas-first-sci-fi-movie-death-ray-on-coral-island-1980.html

    Anyway, I really enjoy us exchanging views on our different cultures!🙂
    I think we of different nations and cultures can be friends instead of the constant(and oftentimes unnecessary) conflicts and strife!

    sinotibetan

  14. sinotibetan says:

    Thanks to kievite and yalensis for further Russian movie recommendations!

    sinotibetan

  15. sinotibetan says:

    Dear Giuseppe and Evgeny,

    Thought of another movie (which probably appeals to Giuseppe):- The Soong Sisters. Three sisters who shaped the destiny of China!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Soong_Sisters_(film)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soong_sisters
    Of course the actresses were ‘prettier’ than the original sisters though.😉

    It is interesting that the Hakka Chinese(of which I am one myself) had so much in ‘writing’ modern Chinese history. The Soong sisters, Sun Yat Sen, Deng Xiao Ping and the leader of the Taiping Rebellion Hong Xiuquan(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiping_Rebellion) were all Hakka people. And there is a Singapore-Malaysian connection to Dr. Sun Yat Sen as well(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_revolutionary_activities_in_Malaya).

    Hmmm …maybe someday I too may contribute to the history of China? Hahaha…just joking…wishful thinking on my part!😉

    sinotibetan

    • Giuseppe Flavio says:

      Thanks Sinotibetan,
      seems an interesting movie. I appreciate historical movies, it is a good way to start learning about the history of a country.

  16. Evgeny says:

    Dear Sinotibetan,

    If you gather DVDs or anything, you can try all sorts of internet shops.

    However, in practical terms, your resource N1 for Russian movies would be a torrent tracker Rutracker:

    http://rutracker.org/forum/index.php

    Just to facilitate navigation a little bit:
    First, you would need to register (for free). Get registered:
    http://rutracker.org/forum/profile.php?mode=register
    There, you will have to click on the first link of the two below the page (it says that you agree with the terms), then you’ll be asked to provide your nickname, contact email, password, password a second time, type a CAPTCHA and optionally provide your time zone and country.

    After you get registered (may be you’ll receive a email with a link to validate your account) you’ll be able to use the tracker. Here is the torrent search:
    http://rutracker.org/forum/search.php

    With Rutracker, you are allowed 5 GB of free downloading, after which you’ll have to see that your rating (the ratio of uploaded vs. downloaded) is not lower that 0.3. So, don’t erase the files right after you have downloaded them, if you want to continue using this service.

    After you get movies, most likely you will need subtitles. You can get English subtitles to Russian movies at one of the following sites:
    http://subs.com.ru/list.php?c=engru
    http://subtitry.ru/subtitles/native/

    You can get there all the titles I’ve mentioned.

    Just to add a bit:

    “Кин-дза-дза”
    A cult 1980s movie. An example of how you can shot classy sci-fi while on low budget.

    And some more WW2 movies?
    “В бой идут одни старики”
    “Иди и смотри”
    “А зори здесь тихие”

    And, again, many thanks for the Chinese titles!

  17. Giuseppe Flavio says:

    @Yalensis,
    I add that “art movies” often leaves you with mixed feelings, and questioning yourselves about what you’d have done if you were in that situation. I mean, not what is right or wrong, but if you were able to discern and have enough courage, or desperation.

  18. jcluseOcluseo says:

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