Ukraine on the Proud Highway: Skidding in Broadside.

Uncle Volodya says, “Don’t waste time beating on a wall, hoping it will turn into a door.”

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
– Hunter S. Thompson, “The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967”

Whew! It’s been a hell of a ride, hasn’t it, Ukraine? But all roads end somewhere, just as this one must. Despite having the IMF and a host of other western institutions as your pit crew, spraying Febreze into the air to cover the smell of sweat, burning rubber and decomposition, the long, long road (from which there is no return) is drawing to its end. He ain’t heavy, he’s my client state.

Let’s have a look at the current freeze-frame from Trading Economics. Sourced from the World Bank and other global financial and analytic institutions, Trading Economics provides solid benchmark statistical data. In the case of Ukraine, nearly all the data comes from the state statistical service – so this is data Ukraine will admit to.

GDP growth rate – somewhat of a misnomer, it currently sits at 0.6%, a leap upward from the previous quarter’s dismal  -.03. That’s good news, surely? Not necessarily: more about that in a bit. Unemployment rate; 9.1%, down slightly from the previous 10.1%. To put that in perspective, it’s nearly double that of Russia, which is the target of international sanctions that restrict its ability to borrow, rather than the west’s pillow-boy, being coddled with low-interest loans and outright financial gifts. Inflation rate, 16.2%, up a bit from the previous 15.9%. Interest rate, unchanged at 12.5%. Balance of trade, a gulp-inducing -$827 million, another couple of hundred million further from break-even than last quarter’s -$552 million USD. And government debt to GDP ratio, 79%; a full 9% worse than last quarter’s 70%.

This is a snapshot of a country in serious trouble. But how can that be, you say, or you should. Ukraine’s western backers are doing everything they can short of just flying in planeloads of money and throwing it out the windows.

The short answer is that the west has failed in its project to turn Ukraine into the ever-popular imaginary icon of a prosperous western-oriented market democracy. But the magnitude and depth of that failure have yet to be plumbed. And let’s understand each other here: I’d love to cheer for the west, I really would. I live here, I like it here, and generally I am fond of its people, its culture and its values. I have a real problem with some of its governments, but that’s my privilege as a resident of a free society.

But imagine for a second that the west is a child, and you are its parent. When it does something bad, do you reward it? Hell, no. When it does something bad which hurts other people, should the punishment be lighter, tougher, or should there be none? Setting social and even international boundaries for your policies is broadly little different from parenting. If you reward bad behavior, it is the same as encouraging it.

Western agencies and special interests, proudly led by the US State Department, overthrew the elected government of Ukraine and put in place a hand-picked crowd of revolutionaries and oligarchs. This is not even a matter for debate; the Maidan was lousy with State Department officials, American senators, European diplomats and fixers, and the former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State and the former United States Ambassador to Ukraine were caught red-handed, on the telephone, planning the new government which would result while Yanukovych was still nominally President. The western democracies put the revolutionary government in place, interfered constantly in the subsequent election with their relentless promotion of Poroshenko (considering the second-largest Ukrainian diaspora is in Canada), encouraged the martial punishment of eastern Ukraine in what Kiev likes to call the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) (because using the Ukrainian military against Ukrainian citizens is forbidden by the country’s constitution) and encouraged Kiev in every one of its anti-Russian activities in a clear attempt to stoke enmity between the two. The western democracies continue to prop up the demonstrably-unpopular Poroshenko government – although they were quick to help overthrow Yanukovych, who was more popular before the coup that drove him from the country than Poroshenko was only a year after taking office. He’s even less popular now. Last, but far from least, two of the western democracies – Canada and the United States – joined non-entity Palau and Corruption-capital Ukraine in voting against the Russian-sponsored Resolution on the Condemnation of Glorification of Nazism. Please note that only one of those countries wields a UN veto, which should not detract from the shame of the others. I doubt anyone will forget it.

The western democracies – I’d like to call them something else, but just ‘the west’ makes me sound too commie-lover – pressured their own institutions to pervert and subordinate their own good-governance rules to politics, in order to allow Ukraine to continue receiving money although the former rules prohibited it. And now, at last, we are reaping the wages of stupidity and partisanship. Are these behaviors appropriate to reward, or punishment? You tell me, Dad and Mom.

Anyway, back to economics for a moment. Ukraine’s GDP showed a little bit of growth, which we speculated might be encouraging. Is it? Not really.

When the bottom fell out of the Ukrainian hryvnia, Ukrainians who still had a bit of money were desperate to protect the value of the currency they held. Please note that the site referenced tries to link the crash of the hryvnia to Yanukovych’s decision to turn away from the European Union Association Agreement. In fact, you can match it almost to the minute to the explosion of violence on the Maidan.

The tendency at the time was to purchase foreign currency as a hedge, often American dollars. But that has changed – changed in a way which presents a false indicator of Ukrainian fiscal stability.

What is driving the Ukrainian GDP growth is a boom in construction. In a country where the standard of living is steadily declining. If those two statements seem like they shouldn’t go together, it’s because they don’t.  Driven off of their foreign-currency position by the failure of the hryvnia to come back, and to rise in value against the American dollar, coupled with the latter currency’s weakness, Ukrainians are plowing their savings into housing as an investment, hoping to protect what remains of their cracked nest eggs.

Meanwhile, the biggest hard-currency contribution to the Ukrainian economy, aside from Russian investment in Ukraine (the biggest of the country’s investors by quite a stretch), is remuneration by the Ukrainians who have gone abroad to work. Where have most of them gone? Well, what language do most of them speak? That’s right – Russian. The great majority of those who fled the country went to ‘the aggressor’, Russia, from whence they now send home nearly a quarter of the Ukrainian state budget, and 7% of GDP. How long before it sinks in among the western meddlers that their project to split Ukraine away from Russia has instead left Russia with a turn-key implosion option that it can exercise, remotely, any time it likes? Can there be any doubt that only pity stays its hand? It certainly is not fear of the west, whose sanctions are the best thing to happen to Russia in decades.

If it was me who brought about this epic cock-up, this cluster-fuck for the Guinness records…I’d be pretty ashamed of myself. But it wasn’t me. In fact, I think you will find I argued against just about every foolish, wrong-headed and mean-spirited course the western democracies have taken.

But that doesn’t mean I’m incapable of pity at their disastrous consequences.

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2,032 Responses to Ukraine on the Proud Highway: Skidding in Broadside.

  1. saskydisc says:

    I am reading Alex Krainer’s book on Bill Browder. After introducing himself, he summarized Browser’s Red Alert, then spends several chapters giving the context of the 1990s US/IMF rape of Russia via Yeltsin. One thing that he mentions of which I was not aware, is that the IMF forced Russia to allow other former Soviet countries to use, and issue, Rubles, thereby delaying the introduction of national currencies by a year, and giving the other former Soviet countries a motivation to issue huge quantities of currency, and thereby driving hyperinflation. He portrays Jeffrey Sachs as possibly a geopolitical useful idiot of the US and IMF.

    The IMF refused to give loans to actually assist the transition, but they had no problem giving Yeltsin a 6.7 billion dollar loan for the Chechen war. Banks were given loans “to support the ruble,” which were promptly used to bet against same.

    At times, the conduct of the Harvard connected personnel in Russia became so blatantly criminal that the FBI investigated and prosecuted. Harvard defended the guilty parties, and even paid a 31 million dollar US fine to settle the matter, and kept the guilty party as faculty.

    • rkka says:

      By the way, Jeff Sachs has come to the conclusion that he was used in exactly that way, that the USG never intended to actually assist Russia’s transition, but to make the process as prolonged and destructive as possible.

      And then there was the US support to Yeltsin’s reelection campaign in ’96. In January Yeltsin was polling with a 5% approval rating. 55% of Russians thought he should resign rather than seek reelection, mostly because his policies had them dying off by almost a million a year. Funny that. He and the ‘Family’ seriously considered cancelling the election and ruling by decree.

      Instead, they decided to steal it, with the assistance of Western governments & the IMF. In March, President Clinton prevailed on the IMF to release about $10b to the Russian government, which used the funds to support Yeltsin’s reelection. Years of wage arrears for government workers were suddenly cleared, as if by magic! Zyuganov was buried under a tsunami of stories that he intended to bring back War Communism and the Purges from both State and Oligarch-owned media, while getting no coverage of his actual positions from same. Zyuganov adhered to the legal limits on campaign spending, while Yeltsin exceeded them by a couple of orders of magnitude, with no consequence. And to top it all off, there was flagrant use of ‘administrative resource’ and outright voter fraud. Mr. Michael Meadowcroft, the leader of the OSCE election monitoring team, told The Exile of the heavy pressure he got from Western governments to minimize his reporting of how the Yeltsin reelection team was abusing Russian political processes in every possible way to ensure his reelection and the continuation of the policies that had Russians dying off by almost a million a year.

      And so in ’96 Western media celebrated the 54% majority vote for the guy with the 5% approval rating as ‘A Triumph of Democracy!’

      In 2012 they called it ‘Massive Fraud!’ when the guy with the 66% approval rating got 63% of the vote.

      The only possible conclusion from this is that Western government care nothing for what Russians think, or how, or even whether, they live, only that the Russian government submit.

      Their big problem for Western governments is that Russian voters now understand this, which puts them beyond the influence of the Anglosphere Foreign Policy Elite & Punditocracy.

      This drives the AFPE&P up the wall, for they are obsessed with having ‘Leverage’ and ‘Influence’ and cannot stand having none.

      And so they bleat about a miniscule Facebook ad buy.

      • saskydisc says:

        The desperation is in full display. One interesting thing that I notice is that the apolitical people are not aware, and even forget the propaganda shortly after being subjected to it. While this has the downside of making them uninterested in the facts, it does make them indifferent to the propaganda as well. Should they be dragooned into fighting, they will fight to survive, rather than to conquer.

        As such, the powers that still are, are out of options. Winning a battle such as a colour revolution is more expensive to their aims in the long run than not initiating one, yet they need to steal other countries’ wealth to roll over their expense accounts. I need to work up my cynicism and invest in popcorn.

      • saskydisc says:

        Another nice little detail that Krainer includes is the sending of large sums of mint US banknotes to Russian banks involved in money laundering for gangs. This was done by a bank owned by Browser’s “angel” investor, Edmond Safra, and he lists how the regulators went out of their way to avoid their legal responsibilities in that matter. He also spends some time on Browder’s confession that his (Browder’s) pretensions of being in opposition to Soros outfit Renaissance Capital was a ruse, as Browder admits to having conducted much business with same.

        He also spends some pages looking at Browder’s tax evasion through transfer pricing (selling cheaply abroad, to a tax haven) using avionics outfit AVISMA.

        Finally, some humour: when Browder got served his summons, he started complaining that he left the US due to prosecution of his family. Under examination, it turns out that his immediate family included professors at prestigious US universities, long after McCarthy, but long before he opted for UK citizenship.

        • marknesop says:

          Yes, I did a piece on that long ago, probably before your time here. It included some very useful links, some of which probably still work – perhaps the most eye-popping being Robert Friedman’s “The Money Plane”, from New York Magazine. Check it out; I think you’ll find it enlightening.

          I did not know that Renaissance Capital was connected to Soros, though; that’s news to me, and I guess you can always learn something.

          • saskydisc says:

            Will check it out. Krainer does cite one of your pieces, in a different matter.

            • marknesop says:

              Does he? Interesting. It might have been kovane’s piece, a guest post that more or less kicked off the whole series. Up to that point I barely knew who Browder was, and almost nothing about the “Hermitage Effect”. Kovane had lots of details which would have been unavailable to non-Russian speakers, including the workbooks of the handicapped persons who were hired by the shell companies in order to qualify for further tax deductions – signed by Sergey Magnitsky. In light of the fact the workers confessed they actually did nothing, and were only hired for their handicapped status, he could hardly not have known it was a scam. That post also introduced – for me, anyway – the fact that Magnitsky was not a lawyer and never had been. I just saw a piece in the paper yesterday (I now read the paper pretty much daily when I am at work because there’s nothing much else to do during breaks, although previously I might go six months without ever picking up a newspaper) which reliably referred to Magnitsky again as “Browder’s lawyer, whom he hired to work for Hermitage Capital Management”. Magnitsky was never a lawyer, he was an accountant, and he worked for Firestone-Duncan, which was contracted as a firm, not an individual, to handle Hermitage’s tax affairs.

              Some have speculated, and I find it believable, that the reasoning behind the constant reinforcement of Magnitsky as a lawyer was to inculcate the belief that suborning his testimony was illegal and criminal, as it would be covered by attorney-client privilege.

          • saskydisc says:

            You go into more detail, e.g. that the purpose of the shell companies was to take ownership of and manipulate Gazprom et alia. You also have more detail on Safra—Krainer did not mention his death, and I don’t recall him mentioning Mr North.

            • marknesop says:

              Yes, I thought it was pretty telling that Browder’s formative years in business were spent working for rich crooks (Edmond Safra, Robert Maxwell), but he himself affects to be as honest as the day is long. Sure.

      • marknesop says:

        And there is considerable anecdotal confirmation – which I realize is not evidence – that Zyuganov actually won the election, but was so stupefied and frightened at the prospect of leading such a restive country that he allowed the election to be stolen from him without opposing it. If true, he has never spoken of it himself to my knowledge. But others have.

  2. Lyttenburgh says:

    After a long and tumultuous brainstorming (interrupted constantly by the needs to do some real stuff) I’ve finally ready to present my newer, Bigger and more Extensive, collection of lists of “must reads”.

    Again – reminder. My aim was to have a number of lists in different categories of the titles that I think any cultured, intilligent, educated person must absolutely read before hitting 18.

    Must read list №1 – “Mythology, folklore and literary fairy tales”.

    I hope the title is more or less self-explanatory. The titles listed below while suitable for all ages, still, are better suited for the younger people as a way to introduce them to the practice of regular reading. As I told previously – when talking about mythology, it’s advisable to provide the young reader with “adapted” versions of the works (i.e. something PG-13 by any other name). They’d read the full versions either afterwards at their leisure or as a part of the obligatory reading program in the places of the higher education of their choice. Again – only essentials here.

    Mythology and folklore:
    1) “The Epic of Gilgamesh”. [Note – yes, we had studied it extensively in the first year at the Uni as a historical source on the early Mesopotamian society].
    2) The Ancient Greek Myths in general, with absolute “must bes”: The Golden Fleece (“Argonautica”), 12 Labours of Heracles. Theseus and Minotaur. Perseus and Medusa, Prometheus, Phaeton.
    3) “Ilyad”
    4) “Odyssey”
    5) “Aeneid”
    6) The Elder Edda sagas.
    7) “The Song of Beowulf” [Note – again, studied by historians, but not as a literary piece, but as a source material].
    8) Kelevala.
    9) Nibelungen (“The Gold of Rein”)
    10) Chosen works on Arthur (“Grail”) Romance tradition.
    11) The song of Roland [adapted]
    12) Journey West of Sung Wukong.
    13) Ramayana.
    14) “1001 Night” [adapted, of course], in general, with absolute “must bes”: “Story of King Shahryar and His Brother”, “The magic lamp of Alladin”, “Ali-Baba and the forty thieves” “The Hunchback’s Tale”, “Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor”, “The Fisherman and the Jinni”

    Literary fairytales and epics:

    1) Tomas Mallory. “Le Mort de Arthur”
    2) Luo Guanzhong, “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”
    3) Charles Perrault, “The Fairytales” aka “Mother Goose Tales”.
    4) Jonathan Swift. “Gulliver Travels” [first two – entirely, other two – probably in adapted form]
    5) E. Raspe. “Adventures of Baron Munchhausen”
    6) W. Irving. “The Legend of Sleepy Hallow”.
    7) Ernst T.A. Hoffman. “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”
    8) Grimm brothers, “The Fairytales” [pretty much everything if adapted]
    9) Wilhelm Hauff: “The Cold Heart”, “Caliph Stork”, “The story of Little Muck”, “Little Longnose”.
    10) Hans Christian Andersen – “The Fairytales”, with “must bes”: “Little mermaid”, “Snow Queen”, “The princess and the pea”, “Thumbelina”, “The Emperor’s new clothes”, “The ugly duckling”, “The steadfast tin soldier”, “The thinderbox”, “Ole Lukøje” (“Sandman” in English translations).
    11) H. Longfellow. “The Song of Hiawatha”
    12) Louise Carroll. “Alice in Wonderland”. “Through the looking-glass”
    13) R. Kipling. “The jungle book”, “Just So Stories for Little Children”, “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”
    14) Oscar Wild. “The star-child”, “The Centerville’s ghost”.
    15) Selma Lagerlöf. “The Wonderful Adventures of Nils”
    16) Astrid Lindgren. “Pippi Longstocking”, “Karlsson-on-the-Roof”,
    17) Tove Jansson. “The Moomins” books.
    18) Pamela L. Travers. “Mary Poppins” series
    19) Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. “The Little Prince”
    20) A.A. Milne, “Winnie-the-Pooh”.
    21) J.M Barry/ “Peter Pan”.
    22) Gianni Rodari. “The Adventures of Cipollino”, “The Blue Arrow”, “Gelsomino in the Country of Liars”.

    • Jen says:

      Wow, two very excellent and well-researched lists! Thanks very much, Lyttenburgh!

      To the list of mythology and folklore, I would add adapted versions of the Mahabharata (the Indian epic of the war between the Pandava family and the Kurava family: there was a TV serialisation of the epic made by the Indian government’s national public broadcaster Doordarshan) and the Shahnameh which is an epic tale (with fantasy elements) of the history of Persia from its early beginnings up to the Islamic conquest.

      • niku says:

        If you are going to include one Indian book in the list, let it be the Rigveda! Children won’t gain much from merely learning the story (the sequence of events) of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. But reading parts of the Rigveda can be useful — they may learn a new, fresh, worldview!

        The Mahabharat TV series you mention was extremely popular in India. I hate it! I can’t bear it. There is just too much crying. The spirit of the Rigveda is the opposite — it is light, confident and permanently cheerful!

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        Thank you, Jen!

        As for your recommendations.

        A) I really considered adding “Shahnameh”, and several other national epics: e.g. “The Knight in The Tiger’s Skin” by Shota Rustaveli, “Layla and Majnun” by Nizami and “Farhad and Shirin” by Alisher Navai. The reason for exclusion was that, to my shame, I did not read them ;( I felt that I’m not really qualified to recommend the books that I didn’t read myself. If others who read them can vouch for their qualification to be “must reads”, then I will immediately revisit my list.

        B) I also considered adding “Mahabharata” as a source on Indian mythology, but, again – I did not read it. As a kid I got my knowledge about Indian mythology from encyclopedias :). Soviet/Russian encyclopedias (even the ones for the children) are good, but, still, what I got was both adaptation and distillation of the original source material.

        • Jen says:

          To be honest I myself have only recently heard of the Shahnameh and have not read it but I have seen a couple of illustrated English-language editions (with the illustrations based on or copied from original illustrations of the stories) aimed at both children and adults. I know it’s a national epic equivalent to other national epics like the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Kalevala and others that you mentioned in that it consists of many stories that can be adapted to be read to children and that is why I mentioned it earlier.

          I remember reading abridged English-language versions of the Kalevala and the Ramayana years ago – I still remember the story of Lemminkainen in search of the swan of Tuonela on orders of his prospective mother-in-law Louhi the witch, and the fellow ending up being cut to pieces and scattered through a river; his mum has to rescue him with a special magical rake and put him back together to bring him back to life. That, and the decision to steal Louhi’s Sampo by Vainomoinen, Ilmarinen (who made the rake and the Sampo) and Lemminkainen so that the wealth it produces – it’s a mysterious construct that grinds out salt, flour or gold – can be shared by everyone in Finland.

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            Ah, here’s the thing, Jen. Both “Kalevala”, and the national epics I mention in the post above were not considered “foreign” in the USSR, what with Karelia, Georgia and Central Asia all being part of one country. So, naturally, those epics were translated into Russia early on and since then had been regularly printed in (as it was typical for the Soviet approach to the bookprining and having academic annotated editions of classics) enormous number of copies.

    • Patient Observer says:

      I am a total mid-west American – where is the sci-fi?

    • Cortes says:

      Interesting lists provoking plenty of thoughts. My initial reaction?

      1. Disable your spellchecker (see 12 and 21 of the second list, and maybe others).

      2. If nonsense like “Peter Pan” deserves inclusion, why not the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis? Too Christian?

      3. No room at the inn for the “Tain” or “Deirdre of the Sorrows” and no place for variant examples of the same tales across different cultures such as “the man with one shoe” which was narrated from northern India to the Atlantic?

      4. No place for the Popol Vuh? Or for native Australian or other indigenous American mythology?

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “2. If nonsense like “Peter Pan” deserves inclusion, why not the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis? Too Christian?”

        No, as per my comment above, it’ll get mention in a separate list of the books of the fantastic genre.

        3. No room at the inn for the “Tain” or “Deirdre of the Sorrows”

        D’oh, of course! I just got so used to view Cú Chulainn cycle purely through historic source lenses, that I totally forgot people suppose to read it for fun 🙂

        At the same time, I’m ashamed to admit that have never read anything from the Deirdre cycle of the Irish legends. Thanks for recommendation.

        “no place for variant examples of the same tales across different cultures such as “the man with one shoe” which was narrated from northern India to the Atlantic?

        4. No place for the Popol Vuh? Or for native Australian or other indigenous American mythology?”

        I’m probably going to say now something potentially very unpopular, but – here goes nothing. I think that folklore fairytales (ugh, I dislike the term “fairytales” – most of them don’t even have fairies!) of the different people should be not as much as read by the children, but told to them by their parents and grandparents. That’s what keeps them relevant, living and, yes, folk. As a child I’ve been told “Yemelya” , “Kolobok” and “Repka” untold number of times.

        The number of “authorless”, i.e. truly folkloric fables and tales is too big to list by name. Again, here either the parents ought to enlighten their child, or there are numerous collection of “The Fairy tales of different people” with a stock of the most common (i.e. well known, memetic and universal) tales within.

        I considered to put the “Popol Vuh” on the list, but, again, thought that because I didn’t read it in full – just academically adapted version and encyclopedias – that would be cheating. The same goes to the mythology of the people you mentioned – I also read them not as a child, but as a student-historian.

        • Cortes says:

          Thanks for the reply.

          I suspect that my wish for other stories being included is remembering that “lightbulb” moment when the “audience participation irrelevant detail” became clear to me…

          “No man can become High King who has a blemish on his face” leading to the inevitable scoffing of sisters around the fireside “No chance for you guys, then, with those plukes [zits]”. Etc.

          And broadly the same technique is employed today by master storytellers like Lawrence Block and Patrick O’Brian. And the story becomes a confected dialogue (unequal). The story without audience participation is a mere harangue, as witness the famous example of “the Blessed Bono” at a concert in Glasgow…

          His schmaltz was stopped in its tracks when after he declaimed (in time with the intro to one of his band’s songs
          “Every time I clap my hands a child dies in Africa “

          and the audience erupted in laughter when a wag shouted

          “Well stop fucking clapping, then!”

          Exit Bono, stage right on…

    • niku says:

      I hadn’t even heard the names of many books in your second list, so thanks for the list. While searching for “Gelsomino in the Country of Liars”, I found a nice blog (the author knows Russian, by the way). A relevant post from it:

      [G]ood taste in literature does not develop by itself, and true appreciation of books cannot come through exposure to random writings. […] To put it simply, quality is the key.

      Second, books should “live” in the house: they should be bought, welcomed with joy and anticipation, read, interacted with and constantly be a part of child’s environment. If a child sees his books, holds them, looks at them even without understanding, goes through the pictures, the chances are high that when he is able to read he will do so. These chances are even higher if children regularly see their parents reading. This way their desire to explore will also be complemented by their desire to imitate adults.

      It is also worth mentioning that raising readers and thinkers starts from the first days. Nowadays, unfortunately, from the cradle many of our children start being robbed of a chance to think, imagine, fantasize and develop their inner capacities thanks to a continuous attack of bright, screaming, moving vulgar, interactive toys, gadgets objects and songs which can haunt adults in their worst nightmares. They learn to live in the world of five senses, instant reactions and answers, while their mental capacities remain atrophied. […]

      • niku says:

        (But much of the site I linked to is not acceptable to me!)

        • niku says:

          The problem with a religious worldview: There is “party line”, which you cannot challenge while remaining in the “party”. Next, while intelligent people (like the above author) claim to study the religion, they are clearly deluding themselves. Next, religious people have a strange, unsavoury (to me), relation to their god.

          Next, they look backwards to their golden age (golden age: when their lawgiver lived). It is a strange, ethereal, existence.

          • Ryan Ward says:

            I disagree with a number of the points in this post, but my basic bone of contention is that I don’t think it makes much sense to talk about “religion”. I think “religion” is an artificial category that doesn’t really allow for general statements to be made (except for statements that are so general that they capture a lot of things that wouldn’t be referred to as “religion” as well.

            The problem with a religious worldview: There is “party line”, which you cannot challenge while remaining in the “party”.

            Insofar as every religion is some combination of beliefs and practices (how important each is of course varies with the religion), this is true. A religion will include a number of core beliefs and/or practices which are constitutive of that religion. To reject these core elements is to eject oneself from the “party”. But this is not unique to religions. If you fall in love with laissez-faire capitalism, you can’t really continue to call yourself a Marxist, and if you decide the gym isn’t for you, you can’t continue to call yourself a cross-fitter. Communities gathered around beliefs and practices are common across various areas of life, and there’s always some core elements that have to be preserved to remain in the community. Nor is this clearly a bad thing. It’s hard to see how any kind of community can exist at all without some core elements of belief or practice. And this doesn’t mean that people aren’t free to question (of course, it can, it just doesn’t have to). It just means that if your questioning leads you to the view that the community is fundamentally misguided, you have to be honest about it and not pretend to be committed to things you actually aren’t committed to.

            Next, religious people have a strange, unsavoury (to me), relation to their god.

            I think this statement is far to general. Given the context, I assume you’re thinking primarily of bhaktic Hinduism, which in this respect (the relation of man and god) bears a lot of resemblance to Christianity, and only slightly less to Judaism, Islam and Sikhism. But it bears very little resemblance in this respect to, for example, Theravada Buddhism or the traditional Chinese religions. But certainly, when you’re looking at the classic “theistic” religions, there’s no question that the relationship of these believers to God (or the relevant equivalent) is increasingly out of place in the modern world (Of course, whether that’s so much the worse for these religions, or so much the worse for the modern world is another question 😉 )

            Next, they look backwards to their golden age (golden age: when their lawgiver lived). It is a strange, ethereal, existence.

            This is another statement that I think is too specific. It’s largely true of Hinduism and Islam (and only slightly less so of Judaism), but it’s not really true of, for example, Christianity or Buddhism, both of which were born in times that the religions themselves remember as being bad times. I agree that idealization of a past “Golden Age” can be a dangerous thing, but I don’t agree that it’s a problem with “religion” as such. (It’s also not found only in religion. There are certainly Leninists and laissez-faire capitalists who are also guilty of this “golden age-ism”)

            • Lyttenburgh says:

              I was mostly nodding in agreement with you comment, Ryan, until I got to this last “barb”:

              “I agree that idealization of a past “Golden Age” can be a dangerous thing, but I don’t agree that it’s a problem with “religion” as such. (It’s also not found only in religion. There are certainly Leninists and laissez-faire capitalists who are also guilty of this “golden age-ism”)”

              That’s not quite true. In fact, that’s mostly untrue. Here’s why

              In socialist societies (like the one’s dominated by, say, Marxism-Leninism), the people understand that they, in fact, do not live a perfect life. This leads to the prevalence of the Positive Mythology – the belief in the coming of communism as a pinnacle of all human development. AS you probably aware, Christianity also has its very own Positive Mythology, which alone (should!) preclude its adherents from pining for any imaginary “Golden Age”.

              OTOH, in the societies dominated by liberalism and market capitalism there is already reigning a belief, that the people (there) live in the best of the possible worlds, so there is absolutely no need to make any but cosmetic changes from time to time. Naturally, these capitalist and liberal societies inevitably produce large number of the people who are left behind and can not benefit from this “best of the world”. If their number reaches the critical mass and there will be forces at hand to utilize them, then the society will descend into fascism. Here, people in principle agree that the capitalist society is the best of the possible worlds – but they have to resort to the Negative Mythology, as a way to fingerpoint the Enemy To Blame For Everything Bad and explain why this best of the worlds is so bad (now).

              The hilarity (pun untended) of the present situation in the US is that the whole society freely accepts the Negative Mythology, while, technically, not being fascist. It’s Negative Mythology and witchfinding as a preventative measure to safeguard the Best of the Possible Worlds. This, plus a hefty gesheft for the real bread winner in the house – the MIC.

              • Patient Observer says:

                Good discussion and a very good point regarding Negative Mythology. Such a world view likely leads to smugness, exceptionalism and, dare I say, rampant narcissism – all characteristic of Western liberal values. And more than any other world view, it can lead to brutality towards the Other. The Vietnam war comes to mind in that regard. Indiscriminate killing best summed with the phrase of the time – kill anything that moves. Further mass murder such as in Vietnam may been held in check simply because of a sorting process largely completed of those who can adequately fight back and those who have surrendered or otherwise been conquered.

              • Ryan Ward says:

                In socialist societies (like the one’s dominated by, say, Marxism-Leninism), the people understand that they, in fact, do not live a perfect life. This leads to the prevalence of the Positive Mythology – the belief in the coming of communism as a pinnacle of all human development.

                I actually don’t disagree with this. The “Leninists” I was referring to as engaging in Golden Age mythology aren’t all or even necessary most Leninists. I was thinking specifically of the kind of “revisionist” Leninist who thinks (simplifying and caricaturing, but only slightly), “Lenin made everything perfect and wonderful, and unicorns danced in the sunlit fields, but then the big bad Stalin came along and used his smoke machine to blot out the sun, then barbecued the unicorns for supper.” The kind of viewpoint which I’ve (slightly) caricatured here isn’t super-common anymore, but it was sort of a halfway house for a lot of communists on their way out of communism in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Even now there’s at least traces of that kind of thinking in, for example, some of the writing of Terry Eagleton (although he’s clever enough not to indulge in some of the more extravagant mythologizing of some of his predecessors).

                • yalensis says:

                  Egads, I don’t think that MOST Leninists (of which I include myself as one) think of Leninism as any kind of “Golden Age”. Realistically, all that Lenin was, was the leader of a political party which took over governmental functions during a very difficult time in Russian history. That’s about it. There is nothing like religion in any of this. Do you understand the difference between politics and religion??

                • Ryan Ward says:

                  I don’t think that MOST Leninists (of which I include myself as one) think of Leninism as any kind of “Golden Age”

                  Then we agree 😉 I think maybe you misread what I wrote. I said that my description did NOT apply to most Leninists.

                  “The “Leninists” I was referring to as engaging in Golden Age mythology aren’t all or even necessary most Leninists.”

                  Looking back though, it would have been more clear if I had left the word “necessarily” out. My point was that I was describing a certain specific kind of Leninist that fell into a romantic utopianism about Lenin and his era on the way out of the communist camp altogether (A lot of Eastern European “revisionists” gradually fell away by this route). The description I gave does not apply to most Leninists. However, I disagree with the implication in your final sentence.

                  Do you understand the difference between politics and religion??

                  As I’ve said before, I think “religion” is such an imprecise term that almost any statement about it will be false (because almost anything that could be said about “religion” will accurately describe some of its manifestations rather than others). But to talk about “the difference” between politics and religion assumes that both are discrete and easily parsed phenomena, which isn’t the case. They’re more like a Venn diagram with layers of overlap (although in this case the overlap represents similarity rather than identity). But politics and religion overlap a fair bit at the point where they’re both at their worst. Since both are systems of commitment, they become uncannily similar when they fall into dogmatism and fanaticism. This can be manifested in an inward-looking and obsessive desire for purity (No one who reads the history with attention can fail to notice the deep similarity between the phenomena of ISIS and the Khmer Rouge), or an outward and murderous desire to eliminate people identified as “evil” (There’s more than a hint of family similarity between the infidel-eliminating Crusaders and the Untermensch-eliminating Nazis). But of course both politics and religion have many other manifestations as well. To talk about “the difference” between politics and religion is to reduce two extremely multi-faceted concepts into unrecognizable simplicity.

            • niku says:

              [T]here’s always some core elements that have to be preserved to remain in the community. Nor is this clearly a bad thing. It’s hard to see how any kind of community can exist at all without some core elements of belief or practice. And this doesn’t mean that people aren’t free to question (of course, it can, it just doesn’t have to).

              So, the first distinction is between the core elements of belief and practices. I’ve read that many practicing Jews say that they (personally) don’t have any “beliefs”, just practices which they wish to preserve for the sake of preserving their community. Such a statement is likely true for the Hindus too. I understand this point of view.

              My objection is to the core beliefs themselves. At this point, how sensible (how rational) are the beliefs? By a “religious worldview”, I was referring to the worldview which is built around such beliefs. (Mere practices would not influence the worldview.)

              It just means that if your questioning leads you to the view that the community is fundamentally misguided, you have to be honest about it and not pretend to be committed to things you actually aren’t committed to.
              Just to clarify what I said above, at this point, is it possible that anyone would come to a conclusion that the religious belief are valid? At this point, isn’t even agnosticism a mere escape from having opinions?

              I grant that it is not necessary to be always truthful, even to oneself. But I don’t like such a point of view.

              No question that the relationship of these believers to God (or the relevant equivalent) is increasingly out of place in the modern world (Of course, whether that’s so much the worse for these religions, or so much the worse for the modern world is another question 😉 )

              I too wont go so far as to say that the changing relations are necessarily a good thing, and are necessarily for everyone. I suppose many people are satisfied with “reasonable answers”, and feel no impulse for more investigations. As long as such people make good neighbours, I have no objection!

              Me: Next, they look backwards to their golden age (golden age: when their lawgiver lived). It is a strange, ethereal, existence.
              I would like to generalize my statement to: “the people with a religious worldview don’t wish to live here and now, but somewhere else”.
              For Christians, this existence is only a preparation for the next, Real, existence. (Which necessarily means that this existence is unreal — ethereal, as I said.) For Buddhists, their current lives are merely means to attaining something else, namely, the Nirvana.

              I agree that idealization of a past “Golden Age” can be a dangerous thing, but I don’t agree that it’s a problem with “religion” as such. (It’s also not found only in religion. There are certainly Leninists and laissez-faire capitalists who are also guilty of this “golden age-ism”)

              What makes the Leninists and laissez-faire capitalists different is that while they may cry about the lost “golden age”, they at least are working to (or at least, wish to) recreate it! With religions there is nothing else but to pine away, or patiently await the Second Coming. This is inhuman, as there is nothing for humans to do here. They religious people can’t turn the clock back, and they cannot advance the clock to the “future kingdom” — unlike the Marxists, who wanted/want to speed-up the “historical inevitability”!

              (Some details in the above may be wrong, but I hope my general point would nevertheless be clear. Moreover, there is a lot more to say on this issue.)

              • niku says:

                Such a statement is likely true for the Hindus too.
                Such a statement is likely true for many Hindus too.

              • niku says:

                To preclude an objection (and clarify my point):

                Christians would say, “how we fare in the next world depends on how we act in this world, so we are active actors”. But this is like saying, “how we would fare in the real play on the stage depends on how we act (how much practice we do, e.g.)”. But that does make practicing the Real Thing. The Real Thing remains what comes later, and all the rest is merely preparation.

                Contrast it with the Greek outlook or the Rigvedic outlook! They did not believe in life-after-death, so they wanted all promised rewards on this mundane mundus (to themselves or their children!).

                • niku says:

                  Sorry for the typos.

                  > But that does make practicing the Real Thing.
                  But that does not make practicing the Real Thing.

                  > how we would fare in the real play on the stage depends on how we act
                  … how we act here and now (in the preparations)

              • Ryan Ward says:

                Just to clarify what I said above, at this point, is it possible that anyone would come to a conclusion that the religious belief are valid?

                I’m not sure I’m reading this right, but if I am, then the answer I would give is “obviously”. Plenty of people convert to various religions from other religions, or from no religion at all. My personal favourite contemporary academic philosopher for example (Alasdaire MacIntyre), was a Marxist and an explicit atheist for decades before becoming a practicing Catholic. One of the more famous writers on Buddhism in the West (Jonathan Landaw), picked up his beliefs (Tibetan Buddhism, to be specific) after first getting familiar with Buddhism as a member of the Peace Corps, and deciding to go study it. Millions of people in China have, after growing up under official atheism, become Christians in the last couple decades. Some conversions are “snap”, or because of family reasons or whatever else, but people join religions after weighing the choice for a long time as well. It happens all the time.

                What makes the Leninists and laissez-faire capitalists different is that while they may cry about the lost “golden age”, they at least are working to (or at least, wish to) recreate it! With religions there is nothing else but to pine away, or patiently await the Second Coming. This is inhuman, as there is nothing for humans to do here.

                I’m more inclined to agree with John Gray here. Gray has little patience for any kind of utopianism, religious or otherwise, but he once wrote that, given the choice, he’d prefer that people stick to the religious variety. The reason is that it’s a fairly small step from saying the world could be pretty much perfect to blaming someone for the fact that it’s not, and only a short step from there to either a) intense callousness or b) outright violence. The twentieth century was the bloodiest in human history not because of religious enthusiasms, but because proponents of various secular utopias massacred, starved, etc. hundreds of millions of people trying to realize those utopias. I think there’s something to be said for realizing the impossibility of utopias (at least this side of nirvana, the resurrection, the world to come, etc.)

                On the issue of what there is for religious people to do, that depends on the religion. If we’re talking about Zen, the belief that we should be “doing something” is a big part of the problem in the first place. You could see that as anti-human, but there’s a good case to be made for seeing it as supremely human. The great majority of the human race spends the great majority of its time and energy on workaday matters. A big part of the appeal of zen for a lot of people is that it offers a way to give value to those everyday matters, without having to subordinate them to some “goal” that, even if theoretically realizable, is always receding into the future.

                Christianity, with its Biblical statements about “redeeming the time, for the days are evil”, and working because “night is coming, when no man can work,” is on the other extreme. But in that case, it’s obvious that the writers are thinking about doing something, and not just waiting around. To call this practicing for the “real thing” is to get the relation backward (again, in the Biblical image, right now is the day when people can work. It’s in the night that’s coming that they can’t). A better analogy (and one that has the merit of coming from the Bible) would be planting and caring for crops. It’s now when you’re working the farm that there’s lots to do. After the harvest, all that’s left is the eating.

                • niku says:

                  “Just to clarify what I said above, at this point, is it possible that anyone would come to a conclusion that the religious beliefs are valid?”
                  I’m not sure I’m reading this right, but if I am, then the answer I would give is “obviously”.

                  Is that after making the distinction between “religious beliefs” and “religious practices”? The beliefs (based on faith) are what the Church fought long to protect (and it lost). (I am aware of the positive role played by the Catholic Church during the Renaissance — no need to bring that up!)

                  I am not really against religions. I once read a very nice passage by Max Mueller praising a Japanese Buddhist he had met. (I would look it up if you wish me to.) And clearly, many religious people are smart enough, and are probably influenced by the other points you mention (preservation of humanity, etc). My objection is to bringing up the “deep holy mysteries” at this point — since Darwin, say. That is no more rational.

                  [Zen Buddhism] You could see that as anti-human, but there’s a good case to be made for seeing it as supremely human. The great majority of the human race spends the great majority of its time and energy on workaday matters.

                  Fair point. But, I have long suffered from a “desire to do nothing”, so such doctrines now only trouble me. (as “bad teachings”)

                  A better analogy (and one that has the merit of coming from the Bible) would be planting and caring for crops. It’s now when you’re working the farm that there’s lots to do. After the harvest, all that’s left is the eating.

                  I understood the above. To be honest, when writing the above points, I was thinking of Nietzsche’s condemnation of Christianity in his the Antichrist. E.g., from Article 43:

                  When the centre of gravity of life is placed, _not_ in life itself, but in “the beyond”–in _nothingness_–then one has taken away its centre of gravity altogether. The vast lie of personal immortality destroys all reason, all natural instinct–henceforth, everything in the instincts that is beneficial, that fosters life and that safeguards the future is a cause of suspicion. So to live that life no longer has any meaning: _this_ is now the “meaning” of life…. Why be public-spirited? Why take any pride in descent and forefathers? Why labour together, trust one another, or concern one’s self about the common welfare, and try to serve it?… Merely so many “temptations,” so many strayings from the “straight path.”–“_One_ thing only is necessary”…. […] The “salvation of the soul”–in plain English: “the world revolves around _me_.”… The poisonous doctrine, “_equal_ rights for all,” has been propagated as a Christian principle: out of the secret nooks and crannies of bad instinct Christianity has waged a deadly war upon all feelings of reverence and distance between man and man, which is to say, upon the first _prerequisite_ to every step upward, to every development of civilization. …

                  . . .

                  I, unfortunately, haven’t considered all this carefully enough to offer a good debate at this point. But you may wish to check out the book; it is very short and very condensed.

    • marknesop says:

      Why, yes; they should. Do you think it will ever happen? I’m afraid I don’t, because western appreciation for criminality is often dependent upon whether the behavior served western foreign-policy objectives or not.

      • rkka says:

        It is truly amusing to see that some think organizing the combat and terrorist operations of Wahabi headchoppers against a secular society, whose Sunnis interpret Sunni jurisprudence differently from Wahabis, is the same as the operations of riot police facing a a violent mob armed with small arms and firebombs.

  3. Warren says:

    Published on 27 Oct 2017
    The conflict has a lot to do with Spain’s economic failure since the world financial crisis of 2008 and its impact on young people and the long-term unemployed, says Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research

  4. yalensis says:

    On the front of the cultural war:
    This photo provides proof that Tsar Nicky tried to strangle Matilda.
    Obviously she had become too incovenient for him!

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      According to reviews by the people who already watched it:

      1) Mathilde flashes her tits 1.5. times during 2 hour movie.

      2) The movie is boooooooooooring, stupid, full of chief pathos and tries to whitewash poor Nicki.

      • yalensis says:

        “Flashes tits 1.5 times in a 2-hour movie.”
        If I did my math right, that’s 75% of the time!


        • Lyttenburgh says:


          No! First we are treated with her having one tit exposed:

          and only much later, in a different scene, the long-starved audience is treated with the full frontal nudity.

          • yalensis says:

            My game plan:
            I will wait until the movie comes out on DVD and then I will rent it, no matter how high the price.
            I will fast-forward to the two titty scenes, if somebody out there on the intertubes can kindly tell me the exact minutes and seconds.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Reminds me the marketing tactic of the person who posted this typical for Russia fly-poster shown below:

        And now, having attracted your attention, I offer you transportation by minibus or tipper truck of loads ranging from 1kg to 5 tonnes

  5. Warren says:

    Al Jazeera English
    Published on 28 Oct 2017
    Spain pushes back after the independence vote by firing the government and the police chief.

    In less than 24 hours Catalonia has declared independence and Spain has responded by stripping the region of its autonomy and taking control of its government and police. The Spanish prime minister dismissed Catalan’s leaders including Carles Puigdemont. Mariano Rajoy called for a snap election in the region on December 21. And handed over Catalonia’s reins to Spain’s deputy prime minister, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria.

    But will that simply exacerbate Catalans’ ambitions to split.

    Presenter: Patty Culhane


    Enric Ucelay-da Cal – Senior Professor emeritus at University of Barcelona

    Daniel Gasconid – Spanish writer and political analyst

    Luk Van Langenhove – senior researcher at the Institute for European Studies

  6. Warren says:

    Empire Files
    Published on 27 Oct 2017
    On October 15, Venezuelans went to the polls for its gubernatorial election. The United Socialist Party of Venezuela won 18 out of 23 states.

    It was a resounding democratic defeat for the opposition movement, the US Empire and corporate media, all which have asserted for months that the Maduro government is so unpopular that foreign-led regime change was needed.

    In Caracas, Venezuela, Abby Martin sat down with Professor Chris Gilbert to understand why the Chavez movement remains so strong in Venezuela despite all the attacks, the history behind it, and the threats it faces today.

    Gilbert is a historian and professor of political science at the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela. His articles on the struggle in Venezuela appear on and more.

    • marknesop says:

      Maduro will need to maintain control, however, and the west is patient; it is not deterred by failure, and simply goes back to the drawing-board. There should be no illusions on Maduro’s part that this is the end of it. The regime-change machine will take stock of what its assets are for a time, and then begin agitation again from a region which has a strong opposition presence. Maduro has to prevent further induced shortages by regime-change proponents who control strategic industries. He might sit down with them and explain that further deliberate spoiler activity for the purpose of creating misery which can be turned into political pressure will be countered with nationalization, and the elitist oligarchs will have their companies confiscated and turned over to new management on the state’s behalf. I wouldn’t necessarily like to see that step taken, because the oligarchs will scream to Uncle Sam to save them and it might make the regime-changers desperate and make them do something foolish. But it lies well within Maduro’s power to do it and the people would support it if the government could show sufficient evidence that things like food shortages are deliberately created for political leverage.

  7. Northern Star says:

    “Rajoy’s calls for “legality,” “elections” and “institutional normality” are a cynical ruse, presenting the drive to dictatorship as the defense of democracy and constitutional rule. Madrid is well aware that it can impose its agenda only by means of state terror and repression. According to Rajoy’s October 21 speech, he aims to seize control of the Catalan budget, government, education system, police force and public media.
    These measures will provoke deep opposition among millions of people, and Madrid is preparing to forcibly repress it. The paramilitary Guardia Civil, the Arapiles motorized infantry regiment and other army units stationed in neighboring regions are all preparing to intervene in Catalonia.”

    To my knowledge Catalonia has no military force at hand whatsoever…so any violent confrontation with the armed forced dispatched by Madrid will be a massacre by definition.
    I wonder what the Catalan people contemplated as their endgame if things got to where they are now???

    • marknesop says:

      Under ordinary circumstances it would have been possible to imagine the civilized world crying out in horror at one of its own’s use of the state military against its own citizens, and quickly taking steps to prevent and restrain it. But then Ukraine happened, and now the west has abdicated that principled position. It remains to be seen if Spain will take that step, knowing its situation is in the ‘bad independence’ column rather than the ‘good independence’. The west’s leaders want Spain to remain whole and undivided. But will they intervene if Spain uses too heavy a hand in enforcement? That remains to be seen, but you can be sure the west’s specialists in quashing undesirable independence movements are even now huddled with Spain’s leadership.

  8. kirill says:

    The cockiness of the Spanish central government comes from Uncle Scumbag support

    This is the same shit Uncle Scumbag pulled in former Yugoslavia. Izetbegovic would not have torn up the 1992 Lisbon Accords if Washington didn’t give him the green light. And these fuckers have the gall to yap about Russian meddling.

    • Pro-Freedom says:

      Catalan situation not as clear-cut in terms of public opinion when compared to some other scenarios like Pridnestrovie and Crimea.

      Somewhere in the range of 39% in Catalan favor remaining in Spain.

    • marknesop says:

      Her statement says the USA supports Spain’s ‘constitutional measures’ to keep the country together. I’d bet there is an article in the constitution which prohibits use of the country’s military against its citizens; there usually is. If Catalonia is not deterred by threats, the government has no constitutional power to stop it save for argument and persuasion.

      • kirill says:

        If the situation degenerates into armed conflict, I fully expect the USA to back the central government and any “ATO” it launches.

  9. Warren says:

    Al Jazeera English
    Published on 19 Oct 2017
    Under communism the Russian Orthodox Church was suppressed – its property confiscated, its followers ridiculed, harassed and imprisoned.

    But these days, a resurgent and muscular church is central to President Vladimir Putin’s ideas of Russian identity – an echo chamber, say critics – to Kremlin policies at home and abroad.

    “Many of Putin’s opponents believe the glowing endorsements and mutual back-slaps the Kremlin and the Orthodox Church give each other these days are contributing to ever more tightly defined social and religious conservatism, intolerant nationalism and a growing personality cult around the president,” write filmmakers Glenn Ellis and Viktoryia Kolchyna who went to Russia investigate the relationship between Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church.

    “…it seemed to us that the rise of the Russian Orthodox Church was unstoppable.”

    So what lies behind these ever closer ties? What are the implications? And after decades of suppression, how did this renaissance come about?

    • Patient Observer says:

      Yes, the question that must be asked – Why is Russia not seeking to emulate the West? Why do they choose not to focus their culture on LGBT issues? Some one should do something!

    • Moscow Exile says:

      I like the singing in the ROC.

      Bloody hate standing for what often seems like 4 bloody hours, though.

      Not like when I was a lad and when men went to 11 o’clock Sunday mass and then, after the priest had said “Ite missa est!”, went straight into the boozer at midday for a mad, 2-hour Sunday drinking session.

      However, I am more than content with my musings in my sacred grove now.

      Waes hael!

    • marknesop says:

      “…ever more tightly defined social and religious conservatism, intolerant nationalism and a growing personality cult around the president” could be used to describe the Bush administration in a nutshell. But almost nobody in the USA thought that was bad at the time, although there were plenty who didn’t like Bush.

      • yalensis says:

        Ha ha – that’s a good point!

        W was in tight with the Born-Again Christians. Who, in the American political context, are often one and the same with the right-wing racist/fascist cliques.

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      Islamic terrorist TV hates the Russian Church.

      I wonder why.

    • Ryan Ward says:

      “Many of Putin’s opponents believe the glowing endorsements and mutual back-slaps the Kremlin and the Orthodox Church give each other these days are contributing to ever more tightly defined social and religious conservatism, intolerant nationalism and a growing personality cult around the president,” write filmmakers Glenn Ellis and Viktoryia Kolchyna who went to Russia investigate the relationship between Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church.

      This is hardly the first time I’ve seen this, but it massively rustles my jimmies every time I do. Of course, as per the standard operating procedures for Western journalism about Russia, actual concrete examples (as in real substantive examples, not anecdotes about how an old guy in Kazan came out of a church then made a nasty comment about Jews to an interviewer) are considered unnecessary. If these “critics” (unnamed, of course) bothered to do their research, they would find that the Russian church has played a key part is firming up the identities and languages of numerous minority groups in Russia, and has a long history of doing so (for example, the history of Alaska shows that the transfer of ownership from Russia to America was a disaster for the local people and their cultures). Even in regard to the situation in Ukraine, the Moscow Patriarchate has tried to mostly keep out of the dispute. This is slander, pure and simple.

      • PaulR says:

        It’s necessary to draw a very sharp distinction between the Russian Orthodox Church as such and so-called ‘political Orthodoxy’ – the latter, which can be ‘intolerantly nationalistic’, does not represent the official views of the Church and in fact views the Patriarchy with considerable suspicion. The Patriarchy, for its part, tries to keep some distance between itself and the state, and its official statements on social, cultural, and national issues (e.g. Basis of the Social Concept) are quite moderate (and even if they seem conservative by Western standards, can be seen as somewhat progressive by comparison with the history of Orthodoxy). John Burgess’ recent book ‘Holy Rus’ is the best on this subject.

      • marknesop says:

        Speaking of that, there was a nice piece in the paper yesterday regarding the Pope’s phone call with the Space Station. All the coverage was pretty much the same, so here’s CBC’s; all also led with the suggestion that it was a small but positive step for reconciliation between the churches, and the Pope was most gracious while the two Russian cosmonauts represented their nation very well.

  10. Warren says:

    Media Roots
    Russia Trolls United States into Censoring the Internet & Full McCarthyism to Destroy the Left

    • marknesop says:

      It’s never the west’s fault. It’s always something Russia made them do. Russia which is isolated and friendless and powerless, knocking the west about so that it is helpless to do anything other than initiate the crackdowns and defensive measures Russia makes it take.

  11. Patient Observer says:

    Although already posted, cricketgate never gets old. Western MSM goes crazy suggesting Russia and or Cuba were behind heinous sonic attacks on US diplomats creating serious pain and possible permanent injury. Simply another insane story wlth MOA having a nice summary:

    I wonder if the damaged US diplomats will be awarded Freedom medals or whatever. Perhaps a book or movie deal? No, not big enough but certainly a few talk shows or speaking gigs can be squeezed out of it. Perhaps they will walk on stage with their heads in bandages and speak with a computer like Hawkins – gotta make it look good. (just sarcasm).

  12. Patient Observer says:

    A walk down memory lane:
    And here is the list:

    1 The Korean War ends (1953
    2 President Kennedy invades South Vietnam (1962)
    3 The US overthrows Allende in Chile (1973)
    4 The West installs Iranian dictator the Shah (1953)
    5 The US-led Iraq invasion (2003)

    Many honorable mentions including:
    – NATO bombing of Serbia
    – Libya
    – Afghanistan
    – Syria (support of ISIS and its predecessors and spinoffs)

    The US body count is simply staggering – many millions killed, millions more wounded or poisoned (Vietnam – agent orange and other chemical agents) and tens of millions of lives forever damaged.

    USA! USA! USA! (its elites that rule us of course!)

  13. ucgsblog says:

    Dima Vorobiev from Quora, an actual Russian in Russia, describes why he supports Putin:

    Putin is the best leader Russia has ever had.

    He’s the first since Stalin who knows how to run the country. And in comparison with Stalin, he does the job with immensely less blood and suffering, and to a much better result. At last, we have a competent leader who doesn’t kill and torment people at an industrial scale.

    He’s not a sadist, or power maniac, or a simple thief, or conqueror. With the power he has amassed, he could be Ivan the Terrible, or Caligula, or Lenin—and he chooses not to. What a welcome, wonderful change.

    He has little time for liberal niceties like the rule of law, or civil rights, or human dignity. But he is very legalistic. “To my friends, everything; to my enemies, the law.” He wants to win elections, not abolish them, tweak and change the law, not ignore it. That’s very fresh, very new, very empowering.

    He has a sense of fairness, and he values loyalty. His enemies die or disappear, often in a horrible way, but not before they had declared themselves to be his enemies. He doesn’t betray. As long as he thinks you honestly hold your end of bargain, he doesn’t lie or cheat. Totally out of character for someone who spent formative years in the twilight world of Soviet secret services.

    He’s not tormented by inner demons that he lets act out onto other people, like many in his entourage do. He’s pragmatic, calculating, and rational. “Why kill when you can make a deal? Why steal when you can buy? Why make a scene when you can sit down and have a talk?” He’s a rock of reason in the neurotic sea of post-Soviet politics.

    He realizes his power mandate comes from people, not from brute force, or God, or ideological sophistry. He’s obsessed by polls figures and popular acclaim. He says what people like to hear, and he knows how to cater to his power base. He shares. He and his friends stole billions from the oil-fueled bonanza, but down here, we got many fat morsels, too. We’ve never been that well off. That’s so new. We’re amazed. Simply amazed.

    • kirill says:

      Too much asskissing of NATzO propagandists and their BS.

      “His enemies die or disappear, often in a horrible way”

      What shit revisionism. So far we have the tin foil hat theories about Politkovskaya, Litvinenko, and diluted rubbish about Nemtsov. I want to see a serious list of the other “dead enemies”. If Putin was engaged in rubbing out his enemies, there would be thousands of names on this list. And there would have been real solid examples not nutjob BS “cases”. What is exactly the point of rubbing out enemies if you let them prance around for ***years*** doing what they want. Rubbing out “critics” needs to occur before they can make an impact, and indeed this is the pattern that you see where such political murders are common (e.g. Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s).

      “Putin has no time for the law”

      More revisionist, liberast talking point rubbish. Yeltsin gave a f*ck about the law and used the defunct Soviet judicial system to imprison hundreds of thousands for petty crimes of survival instigated by his “own” failed economic policies. Putin is the one who modernized Russian justice to include jury trials and parole. I like to see this clown produce an actual example of Putin breaking the law. Corruption of government officials is not Putin’s personal responsibility.

    • marknesop says:

      I could celebrate his vision were it not for that sneaking, backdoor allegation that Putin sics the law on his enemies but backhands sweetheart deals to his friends. I personally have not seen evidence of this. Before I am besieged with a blizzard of links, I said evidence, not allegations. Putin has a lot of rich friends; does that mean he made them rich, or were they wealthy already? When he gives contracts to someone like Arkady Rotenberg, does it make sense to hire the head of a large and established construction firm, or scour the streets for some obscure local boy from Vladivostok? Every political dynasty in the USA is cosy as can be with the rich, yet few who like to heap it on Russia would suggest the American president made them rich, and nobody evidenced much surprise when the Vice-President’s former company landed the huge no-bid contract in Iraq after the USA wrecked it under completely fabricated pretenses.

      • ucgsblog says:

        Everyone deals to their friends, because the line between experts and friends is blurred. I’m friends with a few experts in my field – and of course I’d give them business first, not because they’re my friends, not because I expect something back, but because I know that they will do the job that will make me look good as the referrer. It’s the same with Putin and Rotenberg.

        It’s interesting that you said “dynasties” and that’s yet another distinction that sets Putin apart and explains his efficiency. Putin doesn’t give contracts to kids just because he’s buddy-buddy with their parents. He gives them to experts he trusts. And that’s the difference. Medvedev’s son isn’t running a company in Syria, is he? Unlike someone else in the you know where.

      • ucgsblog says:

        BTW Mark – did you get my email?

  14. saskydisc says:

    Courtesy of الزياد الدقيق:

    The US bit its ally Qatar in the hopes of securing Saudi moneys, so Qatar bit back. Rather bemusing… Though it is more bemusing and telling that the former official is allowed to say such things. I presume that they have little hope of reentering the US’s good graces, at least in terms that would be worth pursuing.

  15. saskydisc says:

    India refuses to cut North Korea ties:

    DNA evidence is clear: UN Nepali occupation forcespeacekeepers brought the very South Asian cholera to Haiti:

  16. Cortes says:

    Less is more, a young woman from Halifax (Yorkshire) used to tell me. So, apologies for the verbiage.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Thanks for informing the remainder of the visitors to this site that people, and even Russian subhumans, die in wars.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        And how many thousands of dead Russian soldiers’ bodies have been secretly shipped out of the Ukraine, I wonder?

        Or even cremated secretly in mobile incinerators?

        Please enlighten us.

      • Ryan Ward says:

        That was my reaction too. Given Russia’s extensive involvement in Syria, of course there are going to be casualties, and even if the figure isn’t inflated, it’s not really all that high, especially for a period as long as a year. Of course, any casualties at all are always a tragedy on the human level, but on the military/operational level, 131 deaths is a rounding error. To entirely turn around the course of a war (which, in my view, the Russians did. Assad was clearly on his way out before the Russians got involved) at the cost of 131 deaths per year is a pretty efficient use of manpower.

    • yalensis says:

      I believe that Reuters is (dishonestly) including jihadists (who happen to be Russian citizens fighting on the other side) in the count.
      Technically, some of the jihadists are Russian citizens too, but Reuters making it seem like it’s all Russian regular soldiers and contractors dying out there in the desert.
      In the hopes of sowing “anti-war” sentiment in Russia.
      This body-count thing is an old game.

    • ucgsblog says:

      You’re going to need something that’s slightly more formal than a form number written by a bureaucrat to convince me of… well anything really.

  17. Warren says:

    Savitri Devi: The mystical fascist being resurrected by the alt-right

    Savitri Devi, a mystical admirer of Hitler and a cat-loving devotee of the Aryan myth, seem destined to fade into obscurity after her death 25 years ago. But thanks to the rise of the extreme right, her name and her image now crop up online more and more, writes Maria Margaronis.

    In 2012, browsing the website of Greece’s Golden Dawn party for an article I was writing, I stumbled on a picture of a woman in a blue silk sari gazing at a bust of Hitler against a blazing sunset sky.

    What was this apparently Hindu woman doing on the site of an openly racist party devoted to expelling all foreigners from Greece? I filed her as a curiosity at the back of my mind, until the rising tide of extreme-right politics in Europe and America threw up the name “Savitri Devi” once again.

    It isn’t hard these days to find discussions of Savitri Devi’s books on neo-Nazi web forums,
    especially The Lightning and the Sun, which expounds the theory that Hitler was an avatar – an incarnation – of the Hindu god Vishnu, and Gold in the Furnace, which urges true believers to trust that National Socialism will rise again. The American extreme-right website Counter-Currents hosts an extensive online archive of her life and work.

    Her views are reaching a wider public audience, too, thanks to American alt-right leaders such as Richard Spencer and Steve Bannon, former Trump chief strategist and chair of Breitbart News, who have taken up her account of history as a cyclical battle between good and evil — a theory she shared with other 20th Century mystical fascists.

    Hindu Nationalists have assiduously sought an alliance with Israel and Zionism against their common enemy Muslims. Yet, the founding mother Savitri Devi of Hindu Nationalism was repentantly anti-Judaism and anti-Zionist, and pro-Nazism. Moreover, a hero for Indian and to some extent Hindu nationalism – Subhas Chandra Bose collaborated with and fought alongside Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan against the Western Allies. These are facts that are conveniently ignored by today’s bearers of Hindutva (Modi, BJP, RSS) in the name of political expediency. It is even more strange that the alt-right and the likes of Golden Dawn should praise Savitri Devi – when she was unabashedly ant-Christian. It’s ironic that the self-styled champions and defenders of White Christian Europeans civilisation, should propagate Savitri Devi’s theories and ideas. What is even more ironic, is that Hitler and the Nazis, praised and admired Ataturk! And sought to emulate the new Turkey that Ataturk had built from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.

    • niku says:

      It is true though that many Indians seems to like Hitler. As far as I understand, the only reason for that is that the Nazis called themselves ‘Aryans’, which seems to tickle many Indians. (Many Indians suffer from an inferiority complex vis-a-vis the West.) This, though, does not translate for any love for Germany! Moreover, Indians seem to hold Israel and its citizens in high esteem. And, most Indians (including the “Hindu Nationalists”) probably love Russia.

      So they seemed to squared the circle.

      • niku says:

        > “Hindu Nationalists”
        You would be misled if you see the term from an international lens, as the Indian version is quite mild. They don’t wish to build some glorious Hindu nation or revive some glorious Hindu past. They don’t wish to make the non-Hindus “see the light”. They are largely focused on preserving (and perhaps strengthening) Hinduism.

        Anyway, on Russia, PM Modi:

        “If you ask anyone among the more than one billion people living in India who is our country’s greatest friend, every person, every child knows that it is Russia. Everyone knows that Russia has always stood side by side with India during the toughest moments and without demanding anything in return.”

      • yalensis says:

        On why some Indians liked Hitler: Could it also be (just throwing this out there) that some pro-independence Indians thought Hitler might help them achieve independence from Great Britain?
        In the same way that some Irish nationalists wanted an alliance with Nazi Germany, in order to toss the English out.

    • Northern Star says:

      “Mr. Modi’s rule represents the most devastating, and perhaps final, defeat of India’s noble postcolonial ambition to create a moral world order. It turns out that the racist imperialism Du Bois despised can resurrect itself even among its former victims: There can be English rule without the Englishman. India’s claims to exceptionalism appear to have been as unfounded as America’s own.”



  18. Moscow Exile says:

    BBC travel feature on the trans-Siberia train service:

    It was our third night on the Trans-Siberian Express in mid-July, and we had grown accustomed to the heat. The prehistoric cars contained neither air conditioning nor showers. My husband Dennis, who doesn’t speak any Russian, was left to play with his new fancy video camera, but I was more fortunate ‒ I could listen to conversations. As I stood in the narrow hallway of the train, waiting my turn to use the bathroom, the two middle-aged Russian guys in front of me in the queue were having a heated debate about the infamous treasure train that rattled along these very tracks a century ago, possibly setting the course of the Russian Revolution.

    Prehistoric railway carriages?

    No showers? — Shock, horrors!

    No air conditioning — really and truly???

    A “narrow hallway” — surely she means “corridor”?

    Bathroom? Does that mean “lavatory”?

    And there is this photograph in the article:

    One hundred years ago, the train journey from Kazan to Siberia would have taken months (Credit: DEA PICTURE LIBRARY/Getty Images)

    No, it would not have taken months: it would have taken much the same time as it does now — 7 days from Moscow to Vladivostok, and Kazan, capital of the Autonomous Republic of Tatarstan, is well east of Moscow — 167 hours and 5 minutes to be exact, see: Trans-Siberian Express.

    Here’s another take on the trans-Siberian, though not by the BBC:

    Truly prehistoric!

    And it’s not train №3: it’s carriage №3.

    That video above was made last year. The BBC article that describes the Trans-Siberian as “prehistoric” was published on 23 October 2017. The article was written by a certain Lina Zeldovich, a US citizen who “grew up in a family of Russian scientists”.

    Judging by the accent of the man speaking in the above video, I should imagine he is a German.

    The Hong-Kong girl says there is not much to do on the train by day and night.

    When is older, she may have a different opinion.

    I like Russian Railways. I have done quite a bit of travelling in Russia by train. Once, when travelling overnight by train from Tallinn, Estonia, to St. Petersburg, I decided to splash out and took a double-bunk luxury compartment with en suite lavatory and shower.

    I never took a shower.

    • Cortes says:

      One of my older cousins took her usual summer holidays with her chums aboard the train a few years ago and still raves about it as the best holiday she’s had since her kids were still small. She couldn’t speak highly enough about anything. And she’s not an intrepid adventurous devil may care sort by any stretch of the imagination.

  19. Pro-Freedom says:

    In another example of shit journalism, Fareed Zakaria gave Browder carte blanche;

    So much for the Russian government having honored Zakaria not too long ago. A matter which concerns how Russia screws itself by not providing better support to some great advocates for Russian interests.

  20. Evgeny says:

    Recently I have initiated a discussion about Mark Ames. Just for the record, as detailed in his recent article, he and Matt Taibbi are not serial rapists in a need to confess their sins. But the graphic descriptions of their sexual exploits were the work of satire, i.e. they didn’t sexually assault anyone.

    I remember other points about Ames raised by Lyttenburgh and Glen. However, that explanation clears the record of Mark Ames as an alleged sexual predator for me.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Quote from “explanation”:

      “The dominant metaphors for the American colonial project in Russia were rape and prostitution; we took those metaphors as fundamental to what was really going on, and tried to make our readers as uncomfortable as possible. We approached this shocking appalling reality—with a shocking offensive satirical aesthetic. “

      I.e. he basically says (only now, in the light of Weinstein’s scandal): “We were just joking, fam! Not being serious!”. And we must… believe… him now? Why?

      • Evgeny says:

        “And we must… believe… him now? Why?”

        Lyttenburgh, I’m just bringing in the news, rather than trying to make a convincing argument. I am totally not going to start an argument over that issue. Sorta reminds me of a joke:

        Два хирурга у койки пострадавшего в автомобильной катастрофе: — Да, дело дрянь, придется ампутировать ему левую ногу, — говорит один. — Обе, обе! — настаивает другой. — Нет, одну! — Обе! Первый немного успокоился: — Ладно, согласен на обе. Но стояло ли нам спорить, дружище, по таким пустякам?

    • yalensis says:

      So he is saying that those grotesquely misoygynist anecdotes were just a joke?
      Okay, whatever. Ha ha ha ha, so funny…

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I remember one of his more lurid articles concerning his sexual antics in Moscow, in which he described in the Exile how he performed an experiment into the validity of the claims made for the Viagra pills that one could buy over the counter here.

        So as to perform an acid test, as it were, he decided to find the ugliest whore possible in Moscow, which he claims he did, and then, having made a deal with the woman, performed throughout the night sexual activities with her, all described in graphical detail by him, after he had popped his pill.

        This is what sold the Exile.

        The man who wrote this article was no juvenile.

        I think he is/was extremely childish: an overgrown highschool kid.

        • yalensis says:

          Yes, his bragging about his sexual exploits (and crimes) sound too realistic to be fiction. Plus, I have heard many American men who travel a lot, talk in precisely those terms, they have a completely colonial attitude about other nations, and particularly the women and girls who live in other nations, whom they regard not as fellow human beings but as objects for their exploitation.

          Therefore, I don’t believe his story now, that he was just fictionalizing or making metaphors. He needs to come clean and repent about his misdeeds.
          Or perhaps, he cannot, because such admissions might open him up to prosecution for those of his misdeeds which happened to be crimes, in addition to sins.

          None of which negates his regular political analysis, a lot of which was good.
          Cutlets and flies.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Yeah, occasionally some cracking, insightful pieces did turn up in Exile. Ames and Taibbi used to do what few expats did, namely ventured into Russia proper — I mean travelling beyond the Moscow beltway — and in my opinion, they wrote factually about what they witnessed.

            Life was fucking awful in Moscow then for the locals and many times worse in the country. In village shops you used to see loads of sacks of sugar for sale then, far more than was necessary for sweetening one’s tea. In fact, sugar had then become a means of exchange and Taibbi or Ames (I cannot remember which now) wrote about this. The sugar was used, of course, for making Russian moonshine. One article in eXile described how to make samogon, traditional style:

            Well, I was part of the samogon imbibing community then. I picked up the habit when resident in Voronezh oblast during the last days of the USSR. In the three Soviet and post-soviets flats in which I lived in those times, I found such apparatus in the kitchen cupboards.

            What they Taibbi (or Ames) wrote about life in the country was true: it was shitsville, and at the same time, the filth were lording it in Moscow with Boris the Drunkard dancing to Washington’s tune.

            That’s why I can’t stand Chubais in particular: he was part of the team then and he is still here in the inner circles.

            The bastard should be strung up.

  21. saskydisc says:

    Moon of Alabama: At least 23% of “sarin” victims at Khan Sheikhoun were hospitalized prior to the attack.


    • Matt says:

      Based upon a possibly tainted report:

      “The official report has not been published. But someone obtained a copy of the Seventh report of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (pdf) and we make it herewith available.”

      When I read the part of “staging scenarios” in the fake report, it became obvious that this was disinformation.

      You’re way too guillible. Oops.

  22. Moscow Exile says:

    Future Russian woman president at a US Embassy reception

    • yalensis says:

      Is that a photoshop??
      Or did the Americans literally (1) bake a giant pink balls cake; and (2) shove Ksenia’s face in it?

      As a cultural anthropology aside: American people have a messy and barbaric custom to shove cake INTO a woman’s face at her wedding. With her own wedding cake.

      But this seems somewhat different even from that. Which is why I suspect it might be photozhaba!

      • Moscow Exile says:

        No, it’s not a photoshop, but wasn’t at a US Embassy reception either. The woman in the picture may not be Sobchak, though — but the woman pictured below is:

        • yalensis says:

          Well, we already know that Sobchak is a tireless degenerate.
          The real issue is whether the American diplomatic corps baked a big pink balls cake for her.
          Which, it seems, they did not (?)

          • marknesop says:

            That was probably just some adults-only party, and we don’t even know if the person featured is Sobchak. I wouldn’t say that it would make her a tireless degenerate even if it were, and we all know how a photo can be used to, for lack of a better description, say a thousand words. You can only imagine how some of her racy photos would be used to make the country look like a joke – imagine if she actually won. A photo of a sober and official-looking, bespectacled Sobchak in a smart business suit, perhaps with the Russian flag in the background. Next page, Sobchak lolling in a chair with her legs spread, wearing a thong. Uh huh. People who are serious at an early age about getting into politics are a little more careful about disciplining themselves in most situations. Sobchak could laugh that off in Russia by merely saying, “I’m different now. How many of you would have made model citizens ten years ago? Five years ago?”. But the international press would have a field day with her image. And how many could resist the urge to be uncomplimentary, considering it is Russia?

  23. Special_sauce says:

    For your Centennial reading pleasure:

    Thus the most popular revolution in history would be carried through to a victorious conclusion and the workers of the former Tsarist Empire would achieve power. As bourgeois historian E H Carr wrote in 1935, “It was not the work of a band of fanatics or agitators inciting the masses to violence. Again and again the masses drove their hesitating and temporising leaders further and further down the path of revolution. The makers and heroes of the revolution were in fact, as the Bolshevik legend proclaims, the proletarian and the peasant…”

    Wish Putin wasn’t so coy about this.

    • yalensis says:

      Unfortunately, Putin supports the other side: Tsar Nicky, along with Matilda, The Patriarch, Denikin, Kolchak, and the rest of the Scooby gang.
      People are deluding themselves, if they believe that Putin is a secret commie. Don’t be a dope!

      • Special_sauce says:

        Good job! Just stick that word “Freedom” on there and they’ll fly off the shelves! People just can’t get enough of that sweet, sweet Freedom! You betcha!

  24. Pavlo Svolochenko says:

    Bela Lugosi affirms that Czechia belongs to the dead:

  25. Warren says:

    Published on 29 Oct 2017
    Support CaspianReport on Patreon:

    BAKU – Geopolitics in the Middle East can be treacherous. In the absence of a common enemy, allies have turned against one another and old rivalries have resurfaced. This situation is best examined in the Republic of Iraq. While the disintegration of the country has been apparent for years, now, however, the decline of ISIS has revived old disputes among the Iraqi Kurdish factions.

    The recent flashpoint in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk is a manifestation of things to come. As the guns fall silent, diplomatic talks have started on the new geopolitical arrangement in the affected area.

  26. Moscow Exile says:

    Here’s that ever popular buzz-word again:

    Собчак обвинила Сталина в полномасштабном геноциде русского народа

    Sobchak has denounced Stalin for the full-scale genocide of the Russian people

    NOTE: русского народа

    That means of the Russian nation, namely ethnic Russians, not Soviet citizens.

    Full-scale genocide?

    So who are all these people who claim to be ethnic Russians and whom I see every day and with whom I have lived for almost a quarter of a century?

    Where did they come from?

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      “NOTE: русского народа

      That means of the Russian nation, namely ethnic Russians, not Soviet citizens.

      Full-scale genocide?

      So who are all these people who claim to be ethnic Russians and whom I see every day and with whom I have lived for almost a quarter of a century?

      Where did they come from?”

      Tolya Karlin – probably – will soon decide to change the object of his infatuation from the uplifted pig to one particular horse.

      • marknesop says:

        How could anyone seriously run for an office like president, knowing photos like this were in the public domain? As a candidate, would you not think, are there things about my character that the international press is going to use to embarrass my country? Never mind – I answered my own question: not if you went into it thinking only of yourself.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          “How could anyone seriously run for an office like president, knowing photos like this were in the public domain?”

          I present to you Russian actor Alexei Panin. In response to Sobchak’s position of being a “candidate versus all”, he calls himself “a candidate for everyone”:

          In the net there are not only photoso, but entire home video of him and a dog. No, I won’t “spoiler” the… “plotline” of this video. Sufficient to say, that NTV channel (“Scandals! Intrigues! Exposes!”) devoted entire hour of their top tolk show to the whole… “affair”.

      • yalensis says:

        Stalin was busy guy – genociding ethnic Ukrainians and ethnic Russians..
        Eventually nobody would be left except for Gruzians — aha! was secret plan all along.

    • Warren says:

      Mark Galeotti
      Published on 18 Oct 2017
      SUBSCRIBE 241
      First thoughts on Ksenia Sobchak’s announcement that she is entering the Russian presidential elections

  27. Patient Observer says:

    Just wanted to add a few thoughts regarding genocide. Those who close their eyes, allow, condone or execute mass murder are sociopaths. I can hardly consider them as in the same genus or species as the vast majority of humans (but of course they are). This brings up my central point – genocide however defined ultimately is a case of sociopathic/psychopathic behavior. Those in that category can cloak their beliefs in racism, religious terms or laze-faire capitalism but at the end of the day, the root cause is something missing from their brain/soul/ or whatever. We can try to rationalize their behaviors but why try? They are nuts.

    Its an entirely personal view but I think modern Russia is evolving into the sanest major nation on the planet. Will not try to to argue or use links to prove, just a conclusion based on the sum total of my experience related to this matter.

    • Fern says:

      PO, I think we also need to add the crime of depraved indifference to human life to any discussion of genocide. Ryan, in an earlier thread, made the point that genocides in the true sense of the word, did not happen in the British Empire. That may be accurate (not sure I’d totally agree) but depraved indifference to the fate of its subject people definitely did. There probably isn’t much evidence to support the view that, for example, the British government wanted to wipe out the population of East Bengal in the 1940’s famine but its officials nevertheless followed policies that were the direct cause of a huge number of deaths. Similarly, the policies followed to destroy the Indian cotton industry caused one government minister to report in satisfied tones to the House of Commons that the hills of India were ‘bleached white with the bones of cotton weavers’. Again, it would be hard to find evidence of genocidal intent against one category of Indians but the consequences of the policies followed were horrendous for those people.

      What I think is interesting is how the the crimes of, in particular, Stalin and Mao, are used in western media. Those who write most about them seem to believe that capitalism has no victims – which would be laughable were it not so tragic. On any body count, western imperialism dwarfs anything done elsewhere.

      • Cortes says:

        “Depraved indifference “ probably explains why the Great Hedge of India was used to maximise revenue from the Salt Tax:

        Of course nowadays it’s viewed as “quaint.”

        • niku says:

          Where do you think the money for vanity projects like the Taj Mahal came from?

          “As long as we are flayed by people with our own skin colour, we shall be happy. As soon as the skin colour changes — we shall set leftist historians upon you!”

          • Jen says:

            Cost of construction of Taj Mahal (estimated at 32 million rupees in 1653, the year it was finished, after over 20 years of construction) in 2015 values: about 52.8 billion rupees or US$827 million.

            The Times of India estimated in 2016 that over three years before 2016, the Taj Mahal “earned” 75 crore (750 million) rupees or roughly US$11.5 million in tourist revenues. That’s about US$3.8 million a year. If we assume that those revenues stay steady, the mausoleum would pay the costs of its construction (we’ll leave aside the costs of restoration) in about 218 years.

            Why all of a sudden is the Taj Mahal a “vanity project” now? It might have been a vanity project at the time Shah Jahan built it but the symbolism behind the construction of the building has changed over time and it is now considered a monument to love. That meaning should transcend religion. Is the Taj Mahal any less “Indian” because it was built by a Muslim emperor?

            • niku says:

              It seems I have to spell everything out.

              I have no particular dislike for the Muslim rule, and no particular love for the British rule. I know very little about the Hindu rule which was present before the Muslim rule, but what I know, I largely dislike. I do know that the British rule, at least as far as maintenance of law and order is concerned, was better (and probably far better) than the rule which just preceded it. I also know that the British rule was non-arbitrary. The accused, even for heinous crimes, got a due-process trial. And people protesting the British rule did not “disappear”, and in general, didn’t even go to jail. I suggest you reserve your outrage to Stalin’s rule.

              And to spell the above out even more: I am not anti-Muslim, or pro-British. I am not anti- or pro- Hindu either. I don’t approve of “Hindu Nationalism”, and I must add that I don’t approve of Indians’ love of Russia either (as it has less to do with the help provided by the Soviet Union, and more to do with the ideas the Soviet Union represented).

              What I said about the Taj Mahal was: here is a project which is not the same as building irrigation canals. The ruler of those parts collected a lot of money from poor, often destitute, peasants, and built a monument for one of his wives out of it. Wonderful business, to be sure.

              But here is the surprising thing: I don’t dislike the Taj Mahal. I, unfortunately, haven’t seen it yet, but everyone who has (including family members) say that it is a magnificent structure.

              Another surprising thing: I don’t think it is any less Indian because it was built by a Muslim ruler. And, I find mosques to be more pleasing structures than the temples.

              But, how did we even get here? When did I say that I disliked the Taj Mahal, or I dislike Muslims? When did I even say that I like the Hindus?

              • niku says:

                I don’t approve of Indians’ love of Russia either (as it has less to do with the help provided by the Soviet Union, and more to do with the ideas the Soviet Union represented)

                On the street level, many love Russia, due to factors which probably got merged:
                (a) Russia as the fountain of communism
                (b) Pro-Soviet and Pro-Russian statements, literature and propaganda while the Soviet Union existed
                (c) “Honest” (=pro-Indian) dealings ever since India’s independence

                By my quoted statement, I was mainly referring to the (b) above.

                India’s first prime minister loved the Soviet Union, and said that he wanted to establish “socialism and democracy” in India. For most Indian intellectuals in the period, Soviet Union=Russia=Socialism=desirable. So, willy-nilly, the support for USSR/Russia percolates through the literature. So, e.g., one of my favourite Hindi story-books is called “From Volga to Ganga” where the author (Rahul Sankrityayan) has sketches of lives (at various period) of the Aryans moving from their original homes around the Volga to the Indian subcontinent. (He even wrote books popularizing socialism, which I obviously hate.)

                . . .

                By the way, as a child I loved socialism! My final turning point, the turning of page, came after I read Solzhenitsyn’s the Gulag Archipelago, so you may well blame a Russian for that! (Though it would have happened sooner or later anyway!)

              • Jen says:

                Thanks for your explanation. The expression “vanity project” set me off even though I know that yes it was an indulgence on the part of Shah Jahan’s. Although some women would probably say that after bearing 14 children in about 18 – 19 years, and dying during the birth of the 14th child, Mumtaz Mahal deserved a huge thank you gift.

                Mumtaz Mahal

                • niku says:


                  Perhaps to belabour my point, my objection is not so much in indulgence per se, but in the illegitimate indulgence. If a businessman were do so — who, at least ideally, has the money because people have voluntarily paid him for some service he provided — I would have no objection. But the rulers’ extract money at the threat of punishment, so different standards need to apply to them.

                • marknesop says:

                  Nice rack. But she looks too much like Boy George for me.

                • niku says:

                  A few more sentences before I lay the issue to rest!

                  I have great respect for some empire builders. Stalin too was an empire builder, and moreover, he was successful in his endeavours. So, my objections are probably not so much to his deeds, but are of a personal type.

                  Compare the biographies of say Alexander of Macedonia, Babar (who build the Mughal empire), and Stalin. Stalin does not belong to the same class as far as characters are concerned.

                  Observe the anecdote about people clapping for five minutes for Stalin, and nobody daring to be the first to stop in fear. Babar was not like this. The regime he built was not based on terror.

                  (Before anyone takes offense, there are Russians, and a Georgian, I respect much, so there is no racial angle in the above.)

                • Jen says:

                  Interesting discussions at on how the Mughals and the British taxed Indians and what the differences between the Mughals’ collection of revenue and that of British say about how they viewed their relationship with their Indian subjects; and on whether the Mughals “looted” India:

                  In the “Did the Mughals loot India?” discussion forum, everyone commenting there is Indian or from the Indian sub-continent and yet none can agree on what is meant by “looting” (as in, taking the country’s wealth away from it) or whether “looting” simply means taking the country’s natural resources or even suppressing and destroying the country’s pre-Islamic cultural and architectural heritage. Someone mentions that there are no great Hindu temple complexes in northern India compared to southern India due to the efforts of the more religiously intolerant Mughal rulers like Aurangzeb who happened to reign for almost 50 years (1658 – 1707) to discourage, suppress or even forbid their construction.

                  Another commenter mentions that the Mughal empire was invaded by others like the Persian Nader Shah in the 1730s who apparently carted off so much treasure including the Peacock Throne and the Koh-i-noor diamond that he didn’t have to tax his own Persian subjects for three years. Which was probably just as well because by the time Nader Shah became shah, Persia was in serious need of money after the ineffective leadership of the later Safavid rulers (before they were overthrown in the early 1730s) and the wars they lost against the Ottomans.

                  Also the Mughals levied the jizya tax on Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians and the zakat tax on Muslims. Jizya was the money non-Muslims pay to Muslim rulers for protection (the Ottomans levied this tax as well on their Christian and Jewish subjects) and the zakat tax was based on the obligation of Muslims to contribute a certain percentage of their wealth to charity.

                • niku says:

                  Yeah, good points.

                  The Mughals generally enjoy a bad reputation amongst the Hindus (the destruction of thousands of temples by the Muslim rulers have not exactly helped!).

                  The British did no such things.

                  The British generally enjoy a fairly good reputation with everyone in India. Actually, the only enraged anti-British-rule people that I have found are on the internet! Most of them are probably from outside the subcontinent!

                • Jen says:

                  @ Mark: We have been seeing a lot of Boy George on TV lately. He’s one of the judges on the Australian version of The Voice.

                  See him in action disputing with a fellow judge:

                • marknesop says:

                  I liked Culture Club when they were new on the scene, and some other acts which were similar such as Yazoo, with Alison Moyet (tremendous voice). It was always a bit of a shock to see Boy George with other personalities on TV and realize what a big, strapping lad he was. Despite his deliberate feminine mannerisms, he looked like he could throw you like a dart if you made rude commentary on them.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                “The British generally enjoy a fairly good reputation with everyone in India …”

                I blame cricket.

                My father served in the 4th Indian Division of the British 8th Army during WWII and had nothing but the greatest respect for the Indian troops whom he served with, who were members of the “warrior races” — Sikhs and Rajputs mostly, as well as Gurkhas, who are not Indians but mercenaries, really.

                I remember years ago feeling very disappointed once in the UK on hearing a young man of Indian descent declaring in his West Midlands accent that all such Indian troops had been traitors.

      • niku says:

        What I think is interesting is how the the crimes of, in particular, Stalin and Mao, are used in western media. Those who write most about them seem to believe that capitalism has no victims – which would be laughable were it not so tragic. On any body count, western imperialism dwarfs anything done elsewhere.
        You just equated ‘capitalism’ and ‘imperialism’. If we are free to define terms as we please, I define ‘socialism’ as ‘child eating’.

        • Fern says:

          Well, niku, Lenin believed that imperialism was the highest form of capitalism. Do you doubt that imperialism is driven by the particular dynamics of capitalism? That the Europeans were all over the world for the good of the native folk?

          • Patient Observer says:

            The quest for wealth and power of the alpha-capitalist nation inevitably leads to imperialism or neocolonialism or the like. Is that even debatable?

          • niku says:

            Do you doubt that imperialism is driven by the particular dynamics of capitalism?

            How are you defining ‘capitalism’? It has nothing to do with the dictionary definition.

            That the Europeans were all over the world for the good of the native folk?

            Of course not. I didn’t say that for the British either. And why should someone work for someone’s else good anyway?

            What I said was: a distinction between native-rule and imperialism (= “resource extraction”) is largely (and perhaps completely) arbitrary. That the native rulers can be better or worse than the imperial governors. That mere change in skin colour makes no difference. That the wealth of the native rulers would not necessarily be useful to the natives.

            “[T]he vision of a fat, unhygienic rajah of India, with vacant eyes staring in indolent stupor out of stagnant layers of flesh, with nothing to do but run precious gems through his fingers and, once in a while, stick a knife into the body of a starved, toil-dazed, germ-eaten creature, as a claim to a few grains of the creature’s rice, then claim it from hundreds of millions of such creatures and thus let the rice grains gather into gems.” — Atlas Shrugged.

        • yalensis says:

          @niku, I must agree with Fern that imperialism has been proved, by many respected economists, to be a logically higher stage of the capitalist production system.

          Lenin wrote about this in his book. No doubt you will diss the book.
          It is obviously not as well written as “Atlast Shrugged”, nor does it have the racy sex scenes like in “The Fountainhead” – LOL!

          • niku says:

            And socialism has been proved, by many respected economists, to be systematized totalitarianism. (See, Ludwig von Mises, e.g., specially, Omnipotent Government.)

            . . .

            It is obviously not as well written as “Atlast Shrugged”

            I don’t actually like the style of Atlas Shrugged much. I like a lighter, less descriptive, style.

            • niku says:

              ‘e.g., specially’ –> ‘specially’

            • marknesop says:

              I don’t think economists have ever conclusively proven anything, because there are too many variables – they have ‘proven’, if you like, and after the fact, that a certain government using a particular model was unsuccessful, after it was unsuccessful. Anders Aslund is particularly good at that. But they have not proved it is unsuccessful in the same way every time, perhaps under different management. I can think, off the top of my head, of quite a few market democracies which have been dramatic failures. This does not mean capitalism is always a failure. It must be borne in mind, too, that both socialism and capitalism do not prevail in a vacuum; quite apart from constantly-changing situations it must react to balance, there are various adversarial forces arrayed against it from without, which are being employed deliberately to make it fail.

              As forecasters and seers, economists have proven about as consistent as flipping a coin, perhaps less reliable.

      • Ryan Ward says:

        What I think is interesting is how the the crimes of, in particular, Stalin and Mao, are used in western media. Those who write most about them seem to believe that capitalism has no victims – which would be laughable were it not so tragic. On any body count, western imperialism dwarfs anything done elsewhere.

        This comparison is not meaningful. You can’t fairly compare regimes that lasted hundreds of years to the short-lived communist regimes of Russia and China (working on the premise that the Chinese government is no longer meaningfully Communist). Furthermore, in the Russian case, people who talk about the grim record of the Lenin and Stalin years generally recognize that things eased up a lot after Stalin’s death. So the periods in question are about 30 years max for each country. The British raj lasted 10 times that long. But even the most wild-eyed and partisan critics of the British empire only argue that the empire was responsible for about 150 million unnatural deaths. That’s about 500 000 per year. On the other hand, even the most conservative estimates of deaths in the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution come to about 18 million, 600 000 per year. In the Russian case, looking at the most conservative estimates available for the Red Terror, the Stalinist famine and the Great Terror, we’re looking at about 9 million, about 300 000 per year. But of course, to get the 150 million figure for the British empire, I took the most extreme estimate I could find. You’d have to divide it in half to get even a remotely reasonable estimate, which would bring it down to 75 million, or 250 000 per year. So the “death rate”, even on the most conservative estimates available, for Lenin/Stalin era Russia is higher than even estimates on the high side for the British empire. And that’s not even counting the difference in population between the British empire (almost 500 million people at its height) and the much smaller Soviet Union. Maoist China (again, on the most conservative estimates) tops even the highest, most wild-eyed estimates for the British empire.

        • marknesop says:

          None of that negates the truism that capitalism is pretty consistently portrayed as having been a broad force for good, and as having made few or no victims.

          • Ryan Ward says:

            I was mainly replying to the last sentence, but in relation to the main issue, I think the claim is partly true and partly false. “Capitalism” is generally seen as a force for good (but oddly enough, usually only so long as it’s not named. Usually when people are saying good things, they talk about “open institutions” or “free institutions” or “democracy”, but obviously with capitalism in mind). Imperialism, however, is (properly) distinguished from capitalism, and has an extremely bad reputation. No one defends “imperialism” unless they’re very intentionally trying to be contrarian (cf. Niall Ferguson).

            • marknesop says:

              Yes; I never thought about it in quite that way, but now that you have raised the point, it is accurate.

            • Patient Observer says:

              I agree as well. The reason is that “capitalism” is generally equated with greed and exploitation. Best not to mention capitalism in the same sentence as “open or free institutions” or “democracy”. It might result in mental whiplash.

            • yalensis says:

              That is actually a good point. In the American context, you hardly ever hear anybody actually utter the word “capitalism”. Mostly the only people who utter the dread word “capitalism” are socialists or communists. Actual capitalists call their system something else.
              Which leads one to ask: What kind of fucking system is so horrible that even those who benefit by it, cannot call it by its actual name?

              • niku says:

                That is because the term has been corrupted by over- and careless-use. So people have had to invent new terms (or revive old terms), like “laissez faire”, “libertarianism”, etc.

              • Jen says:

                Unfortunately the term “capitalism” has been used so much to justify so many different types of economic exploitation, including the networks and institutions that support that exploitation, that its original meaning has been lost. Capitalism originally referred to situations (even if mostly hypothetical anyway) where buyers and sellers were equal and had equal access to resources and the information about them, in markets or equivalent contexts where trust was implicit and these markets were protected and propped up by the rule of law. What “capitalism” is often used to refer to now should really be called fascism, crony corporatism or just plain old pluto-kleptocracy.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          “In the Russian case, looking at the most conservative estimates available for the Red Terror, the Stalinist famine and the Great Terror, we’re looking at about 9 million, about 300 000 per year.”

          A) Numbers on the “Red Terror” (in the Civil War, that’s right), please? While we are at it – why not also number the victims of the White Terror?

          B) Don’t drink “Holodomor” Kool-Aid, Ryan! Don’t drink it! It will, as per one Russian fairy tale, turn you into a goat. 😉

          C) In entire period of 1921-1954 there were c. 700 000 death sentences for “political” articles of the Criminal code of the USSR which were carried on to the end. I.e. the actual number is about 56 000 per year. Russian now loses more people to the drugs per year – all legacy of the “democratic reforms” of the “Holy 90s”, applauded and cheered from the Bastion of FreeDoom.

          Take all of this into account and – lo and behold! – SUDDENLY the 9 million figure starts to look made up – i.e. false.

          And all of this presumes that the “victims of Communism” were some a priori innocent lambs, who did not deserve that. Which is absolutely false.

          Why what the imperialists did was so reprehensive? Because, yes, indeed, and I’m saying it without any irony – “people with different skin were flaying the people”. Behind this phrase said ironically lies the truth – conquers and usurers of the state power (and its monopoly on the violence) came and did reprehensible shit to the people, whom they had no right to abuse. That’s the essence of the issue – stop concentrate on the form.

          • yalensis says:

            Like I have said before, the vast majority of “ordinary people” in the Soviet Union were completely unaffected by the Stalin purges. This was a matter internal to the political elite and involved competition for privileges in the management of public resources.

            This was basically pure office politics in a deadly vein.
            Stalin was simply Russia’s version of America’s Jimmy Hoffa.
            Except not being rubbed out in the end.

            • Ryan Ward says:

              “This was basically pure office politics in a deadly vein.”

              This is ludicrous. Obviously vast numbers of people were affected by the famine, but even if we leave famine aside and only talk about judicial actions, even the most conservative estimates of the Great Terror put the number of executions at 600 000 or so (That’s only for the Great Terror, not for Kulak operation that occurred during the famine or later actions during and after WW2). Party members were only a small fraction of that number. The vast majority of those executed were executed for being “kulaks” or belonging to fictional groups like the “Polish Military Organization”. Additionally, the best conservative Gulag estimates suggest about 18 million people were imprisoned in the Gulag system during the Stalin era. Of that number, about 2 million were probably “politicals”, and even the non-politicals could be there for reasons as petty as being absent from work or petty theft. But even if we ignore all those we’re left with the 2 million who were imprisoned for purely political reasons. Then you have to consider the 5 million or so people who were forcibly deported, usually explicitly for the sole reason of belonging to a disfavoured ethnic group. So people who were affected by the Purges in some significant way number (on very conservative estimates) 7.6 million, which is more than 3% of the Soviet population at the time (about 1 in 30 people). If those numbers were evenly distributed over the Soviet Union, literally every single Soviet individual would have a friend, family member or coworker who had been killed, exiled or imprisoned. But of course these numbers weren’t evenly distributed. They were heavily concentrated in the Western regions, which made the Terror much more universal in those regions. For example, in Vinnytsa, a mass grave was found from the Terror era with 10 000 bodies. That constitutes about 1 in 5 residents of Vinnytsa at the time. If you were in Vinnytsa in 1940, would you try to tell the people there that all that had happened was “office politics”, and since they weren’t party members they should just get over it?

          • Ryan Ward says:

            A) Numbers on the “Red Terror” (in the Civil War, that’s right), please? While we are at it – why not also number the victims of the White Terror?
            Red Terror (yes that is Civil War), 100 000. As for the White Terror, I’m not going to respond, because it’s irrelevant. 😉 I’m talking about “Red” crimes, and comparing them to the crimes of the British empire. To bring up the Whites is just a “tu quoque” argument, and in any case, I have no particular desire to defend the Whites.

            B) Don’t drink “Holodomor” Kool-Aid, Ryan! Don’t drink it! It will, as per one Russian fairy tale, turn you into a goat. 😉
            Obviously, I’m not going to buy into the ridiculous exaggerations you see from the Euro-Maidan crowd about how 10 million Ukrainians died in the famine or that it was a Holocaust-style attempt to eliminate the Ukrainian people (if so, it was a phenomenally inept one, since it left the comfortable majority of Ukrainians alive 😉 ). But even so, the famine remains, and (to get back to the original reason I brought these issues up) if the British empire has to “own” the deaths in the Indian famines, the Stalin regime has to “own” the deaths in the 1932-33 famine.

            C) In entire period of 1921-1954 there were c. 700 000 death sentences for “political” articles of the Criminal code of the USSR which were carried on to the end. I.e. the actual number is about 56 000 per year. Russian now loses more people to the drugs per year – all legacy of the “democratic reforms” of the “Holy 90s”, applauded and cheered from the Bastion of FreeDoom.
            True, but irrelevant. If we were counting only political executions, the number for the British empire would likely be literally less than a dozen per year. But obviously, we’re considering all deaths that the government is responsible for. Leaving aside the ludicrous 150 million estimate (which I only included to make the point that even if we let our imaginations about the British empire run completely wild, it was still less bloody than China under Mao), we’re left with the second estimate I used (75 million), which was still definitely on the high end. These kinds of estimates include not only executions, but also deaths from famine, reactions to rebellion, etc. I’ve actually been much more generous in dealing with the Stalin era by not considering foreign civilians killed by Soviet troops, civilian casualties inflicted by the Red Army during the Civil War, any of the civilian deaths during the partisan campaigns inflicted by Soviet partisans, etc. But that’s my point, I can compare estimates of deaths caused by the British empire that throw everything (including the kitchen sink) into the mix to Soviet estimates that completely ignore everything except deaths directly tied to execution, famine deportation and political imprisonment (ie. compare apples and oranges entirely to the disadvantage of the British empire) and still the Stalinist regime comes out as more bloody.

            Take all of this into account and – lo and behold! – SUDDENLY the 9 million figure starts to look made up – i.e. false.
            When coming up with the 9 million figure, I obviously ignored the Robert Conquest-type school that postulates ridiculous numbers like 50 or 60 million. However, I also ignored more reasonable estimates like those of Chistyakovoy, Wallechinsky, Heidenrich and Hochschild, all of whom made estimates of 20 million. Instead, I relied on the most conservative numbers, like those estimated by Nove (9.5 million) and Gordon (8.9 million). Nor is it hard to see how these estimates are arrived at. If we estimate ( very conservatively, in all cases)
            Execution – 700 000
            Red Terror – 100 000
            Famine – 6 million
            Deaths in the Gulag system – 1 million
            Deaths as a result of deportation (many deportees having been literally dropped off in empty fields in the middle of winter) – 1.2 million

            We’re already up to 9 million. The true number is probably much higher, since in the cases of deaths from famine and deportation, the records are imperfect, to put it very mildly. These conservative estimates only include those deaths that we can be pretty sure about. It’s highly likely that the true numbers are at least a couple million higher.

            And all of this presumes that the “victims of Communism” were some a priori innocent lambs, who did not deserve that. Which is absolutely false.
            It doesn’t. Guilt or innocence is only relevant at all in the case of executions, which are a relatively small part of the death toll (less than 10%). But even in the case of the executions, we have good reason to think that the great majority of victims were probably innocent. The laughable conspiracy theories behind the show trials, that all of Stalin’s political opponents (rather conveniently, I have to note) were spying for multiple foreign powers all at once, have not received any corroboration whatsoever, even as archives, memoirs, etc. have become available in all the relevant countries. Nor has one shred of evidence come to light that groups like the “Polish Military Organization” that were so important in the national operations every existed. Furthermore, we know that large numbers of cases were built primarily or solely on the basis of confessions and incrimination extracted under torture, and that the panels that “reviewed” (the quotes being highly necessary) these cases often convicted hundreds or thousands of people in a single day. Anyone who’s even remotely fair-minded can see what was going on here. This wasn’t really a judicial process in any meaningful sense at all. It was a broad sweep to eliminate anyone who even conceivably could present any threat at all, or even who could be imagined presenting a threat in the future.

            Why what the imperialists did was so reprehensive? Because, yes, indeed, and I’m saying it without any irony – “people with different skin were flaying the people”. Behind this phrase said ironically lies the truth – conquers and usurers of the state power (and its monopoly on the violence) came and did reprehensible shit to the people, whom they had no right to abuse. That’s the essence of the issue – stop concentrate on the form.
            Ah, you mean like the Bolsheviks in Kazakhstan? 😉

            • yalensis says:

              “Furthermore, we know that large numbers of cases were built primarily or solely on the basis of confessions and incrimination extracted under torture, and that the panels that “reviewed” (the quotes being highly necessary) these cases often convicted hundreds or thousands of people in a single day. Anyone who’s even remotely fair-minded can see what was going on here. This wasn’t really a judicial process in any meaningful sense at all. It was a broad sweep to eliminate anyone who even conceivably could present any threat at all, or even who could be imagined presenting a threat in the future.”

              Be careful, Ryan, you are going to give Grover Furr an aneurysm!
              If Bukharin was not a Nazi spy, then this universe we live in, simply doesn’t make any sense any more!


              • Ryan Ward says:

                Bukharin confessed, therefore he was guilty.

                History courtesy of Grover Furr ;P

                • yalensis says:

                  Not only did Bukharin confess, but his crimes were corroborated by all the other defendants. Who actually all corroborated each others crimes as well, and all pretty mcuh told the same story. With such a level of consistency in their testimony, Grover concludes that they were all telling the truth.


      • Ryan Ward says:

        “What I think is interesting is how the the crimes of, in particular, Stalin and Mao, are used in western media. Those who write most about them seem to believe that capitalism has no victims – which would be laughable were it not so tragic. On any body count, western imperialism dwarfs anything done elsewhere.”

        That’s only true if you don’t take populations and time scales into account. If you look, for example, at unnatural deaths per 1 million population per year, the empires (with the exceptions of the French, German and Belgian African empires) can’t hold a candle to the Stalinist Soviet Union, Maoist China or Khmer Rouge Cambodia.

        And, although it’s already been said, to switch from “capitalism” to “imperialism” as if the two words mean the same thing is ridiculous.

        • Ryan Ward says:

          Just to explain myself, there was a delay in my first comment’s appearance. Thus the two very similar comments.

        • Patient Observer says:

          One can take exception with your figures. However, I would point out that, in the case of Russia/Soviet Union, the focus on rapid industrialization at virtually any cost was in large part a response for the seemingly inevitable invasion from the West. This invasion was for the purpose of extermination per Mr. Hitler. Whatever the toll for the industrial effort (no doubt substantial) it did allow the Soviet Union to defeat Nazi Germany and its allies. The world owes the Soviet Union an eternal debt in my opinion for their service and sacrifice to humanity. Sorry if that grates on some ears.

        • ErGalimba says:

          Modern Capitalism and Imperialism are linked. The Europeans post 16th century colonised the world under mostly economic impulses, unlike all other previous empires in history. Undoubtedly other factors played a role, but new products and markets were crucial. In fact the colonial system bears little resemblance to the classical empires of old and could be far more ruthless in the long term, because in most cases the metropolis refused to include the colonised people into its society: not even as slaves! Control without responsibility or without real feedback mechanisms (we have the maxim (or the musket) and the steam ship (or the galleon) and the howitzer and they have not) is precisely the problem.

          • niku says:

            The socialism as practiced under Stalin or Mao was not Real Socialism, but merely “movement towards socialism” (eternal movement — one never actually reaches socialism to judge it from how-it-is in practice!). But the capitalism pursed by Spain or is Real Capitalism, and has to be judged for itself (no wriggling allowed!).

            If there are poor under socialism, well, such thing happen! If there are poor under capitalism, it is capitalism’s fault!

            If National Socialists claim to be socialists (as they did), well, they are lying. If they leave nominal control of industries to the individuals, “National Socialism is the end of Capitalism”.

            • yalensis says:

              @niku, I think you still don’t exactly “get” how to look at economics scientifically.
              It’s not that difficult, really, you just have to look at (1) who owns what; and (2) whether or not they can pass this property to their offspring.
              That’s the basics of Marxism. really, and it’s simple enough for a child to understand.
              By that token, National Socialism does not equal Socialism.
              I could name my cat “Fido”, but that wouldn’t make him a dog.
              Because he is, er, a cat.

              • niku says:

                Transition from socialism to crony-capitalism in the 1990s was terrible.

                But how about the transition from monarchy to socialism in the 1920s and ’30s? How smoothly did that go?

                But what really surprises me in modern Russians’ support for socialism is the idea on the lines: “we tried Capitalism in the 90s, and we want no more of it, thank you”. It is like some different version of reality is applicable for the Russians. Russians are from Mars, actually!

              • Ryan Ward says:

                “I think you still don’t exactly “get” how to look at economics scientifically.
                It’s not that difficult, really, you just have to look at (1) who owns what; and (2) whether or not they can pass this property to their offspring.”

                But that isn’t what economics as a social scientific field is. A common definition of economics is, “The study of choices made against a background of scarcity.” A large portion of economics has nothing to do with ownership, and the vast majority of it certainly has nothing to do with inheritance. A whole branch of economics (public economics) starts with the answers to both those questions assumed, and there’s still a whole field’s worth of questions to answer.

                In regard to the general question, it’s an idle line of inquiry. “National socialism” has no “essence”. It’s a historical phenomenon with a range of characteristics. Which characteristics are taken as salient depends on what the questioner is interested in studying, and no perspective is a priori more valid than another. So a socialist and a laissez-faire capitalist can both wheel their machinery onto the set and portray national socialism as “belonging” to the other side. Socialists in general tend to view things through the lens of ownership, whereas laissez-faire capitalists tend to view things through the lens of control. The two are not the same, and each focus fits into the ideological commitments of the respective groups. So the question, “Is national socialism a form of capitalism or a form or socialism?” is unanswerable, because it’s poorly formed. National socialism is national socialism. A better question is, “What common features does national socialism share with laissez-faire capitalism and with socialism?” Although more could be said, a start to answering that question would be to note that national socialism combines a capitalist pattern of ownership with a socialist pattern of economic control.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Depraved indifference is a great term to describe a behavior that Ayn Rand would have cherished (i.e. sociopathic behavior). No, I do not wish to start that discussion again which has been clearly settled.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        Tl;dr – “It’s not a genocide! It’s an Invisible Hand of the Market in action!”- any liberal anywhere.

        “They simply failed to fit into the market” – Anatoly Chubais, on millions of Russian pensioners dying prematurely during “Democratic 90s”

        • Ryan Ward says:

          “Tl;dr – “It’s not a genocide! It’s an Invisible Hand of the Market in action!”- any liberal anywhere.”

          Only if “liberal” means, the .1% of liberals who are cartoon villains. The vast majority of liberals would note that the question, “Is x genocide or the invisible hand?” is a false dichotomy. There are lots of ways for things to be wrong other than being genocide, and lots of ways for things to be right other than being the “invisible hand”.

  28. et Al says:

    Tom Dispatch vi A Red Scare in the Gray Zone

    by Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt Posted on October 30, 2017

    Memo to Senator John McCain: Senator, the other day I noticed that, as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, you threatened to subpoena the Trump administration for information about the recent attack in Niger that killed four American soldiers. “There’s a mindset over there that they’re a unicameral government,” you said. “It was easier under Obama… We are coequal branches of government; we should be informed at all times. We’re just not getting the information in the timely fashion that we need.”

    How true! But let me make one small suggestion. If you really want to know what led to those deaths in Niger, the first place you might consider looking – no subpoena needed – is this very website, TomDispatch. Or, to be more specific, Nick Turse’s coverage of the way U.S. Africa Command and American Special Operations forces have, with a certain stealth but also without significant coverage in the mainstream media, extended the war on terror deep into Africa. He alone has covered this story and the secret bases, widespread “training missions” (like the one in Niger), and barely noticed wars being fought there since at least 2012, when I was already writing this of his work:

    “So here’s another question: Who decided in 2007 that a U.S. Africa Command should be set up to begin a process of turning that continent into a web of U.S. bases and other operations? Who decided that every Islamist rebel group in Africa, no matter how local or locally focused, was a threat to the U.S., calling for a military response?…

    Plenty more at the link.

  29. et Al says:

    The Intercept via How the U.K. Prosecuted a Student on Terrorism Charges for Downloading a Book

    On the first day of the trial, Josh Walker wore a long navy jacket, a white shirt, beige pants, and black shoes. He stood outside the courthouse clutching a cigarette and shivering slightly in the cold morning air. “I’m beginning to feel nervous now,” he said, glancing toward the entrance of the court building.

    Last summer, Walker traveled from London to Syria, where he joined the Kurdish-led YPG militia in its fight against the so-called Islamic State. After serving with the group for some six months, Walker returned to England, where he was charged under an anti-terrorism law.

    Police had arrested Walker when he arrived at the airport. They later searched his apartment, turning up a copy of the infamous “Anarchist Cookbook,” which contains bomb-making instructions along with information about how to eavesdrop on phone calls and commit credit card fraud. Walker was accused of violating the Terrorism Act because he possessed information “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.” He faced the possibility of a 10-year jail sentence….

    Plenty more at the link.

    Governments love making examples of people pour décourager les autres. They’re happy with sheeple but cannot have them thinking for themselves and acting. Only the government is allowed to royally screw things up and make their own citizens the target of terrorism.

    • Fern says:

      Mmmmm, the cynic is me might wonder if Josh Walker was really prosecuted for fighting on the wrong side in Syria since, in the last week or so, we have been treated to a government official saying that returning IS fighters should not be prosecuted because they were probably just ‘naive’ in going to Syria to fight for a group whose ideology is about as humanitarian as the Nazis. These young folk apparently missed all the head-chopping/raping/pillaging/plundering/ videos on You-Tube and thought they were joining a feistier version of Amnesty International or the Peace Corps.

    • ErGalimba says:

      What makes this particularly galling is that I happen to know a university lecturer (engaged in ballistics research) with that book on his top shelf in plain view in his office. It’s clearly not the real motivation for the prosecution, but then again they can’t very well book him 😉 for anything else.

  30. PaulR says:

    Catalan leader flees to Belgium:

    That must make this about the shortest bid for independence ever. Totally unserious.

    • Northern Star says:

      I’m at a loss for words…..but I guess this answers my question about the endgame strategy of the Catalonia leadership in the event Madrid called their bluff…
      ..cut and run for you life

    • marknesop says:

      I wouldn’t say it was so much unserious as it was discouraged on every front. For how long might the brave cry for independence of Albanian Kosovars have been sustained had the western reaction been, “This is bullshit, and we’re not having it” rather than, “You guys are just so cute, get me NATO on line one”?

    • ErGalimba says:

      Weird that the Belgians are getting involved. But no state will accept the unilateral secession of one of its constituent members without foreign occupation (hence 1999). The Catalan elite either don’t know what they’re doing or they have Krysha at the top level. The Belgian involvement suggests both. Scottish ref, Brexit, Catalonia, refugee dumping. The italian conspiracy theorist ‘dietrologo’ in me finds this a little too much too soon. But I’m probably wrong.

    • ErGalimba says:

      Either the Catalan leaders don’t know what they’re doing, or they have top level krysha. Why not a bit both? (Belgium???) The italian ‘dietrologo’ in me suspects there’s more to this and to for example the scottish ref. and Brexit than meets the eye. Someone has conveniently spread an arc of chaos all around Western, Central and Southern Europe (the EU) as well as crashed our banking system with their derivative ponzi scheme. At the same time we have a deflationary austerity economics imposed on us through the German gauleiters (in the Bundesbank and Bundestag). Hmmmm. Naturally, maybe Europe’s leaders are all 100% naturally incompetent and unaware of their economic and security interests but someone somewhere ought to have a clue. The noises being made on the surface may well belie the murky depths below. If course not only is there Occam’s razor to contend with, but one couldd argue that it is not in the US interests to fuck up the EU too much, but since when do the US policymakers lool lile they believe in win-win? It could be argued that from such a disfunctional point of view it might make sense in the short term to screw the EU to keep it in line, but not too much (viz the theories regarding ‘la politica della tensione’).
      I apologise if thus ends up being a double post.

    • et Al says:

      Apparently not: Puigdemont en Belgique pour demander l’asile? «Rien n’a été décidé», selon son avocat

      …Interrogé par la chaîne de télévision flamande VRT, Me Bekaert a toutefois assuré que «M. Puigdemont n’(était) pas en Belgique pour demander l’asile». «Sur ce plan rien n’a encore été décidé», a-t-il dit. L’avocat a souligné que ce «premier contact» visait à se préparer juridiquement à ce que sera l’attitude de Madrid à l’égard de son client….

      Testing out legal orders, i.e. if he would be arrested on an Interpol notice given by Madrid? And going to Flanders where the NV-A fascists run the shop? Uh-huh. Maybe it’s a warning and a windup?

  31. PaulR says:

    Meanwhile, isn’t it odd that the investigation into Russian interference in the US election has finally led to somebody being arrested for being an ‘unregistered agent’ of Ukraine!?!

  32. Warren says:

    Published on 30 Oct 2017
    On the 100-year anniversary of the Russian Revolution, Prof. Aleksandr Buzgalin of Moscow State University provides the historical background for the events leading up to this world historical event

  33. Nat says:

    Exactly 10 years ago, Navalny shot someone at a political debate. I don’t remember reading about it then, though maybe it’s because he became sort of famous only in 2009/2010. And apparently, Navalny himself didn’t deny it at that time, saying it was self defense on his part and that the case that followed was politically motivated. Had any of you known about it? Various links:

    • marknesop says:

      I remember him shooting someone with a pellet pistol. A Good Treaty, who later identified himself as Kevin Rothrock, wrote quite a bit about him back when he was the coming thing and everyone was still blown away by his freshness and novelty. And back then, it probably wasn’t contrived the way it is now. Once people started talking about him, and back when they were still refreshed by his mouthiness, someone must have thought, maybe that guy would make a good opposition champion. Without doing any background checks on him, it could go without saying, because it wouldn’t matter if the leader of Russia was a crook or a nutter, just so long as his loyalties trended the right way.

      Here’s a brief mention of the pellet pistol; naturally, his adversary was a “Kremlin heckler” and not just somebody who disagreed with him and thought he was full of shit.

      • yalensis says:

        Wow – I consider myself to be a Navalny “expert”, but I never heard of this incident.
        Lyosha apparently has a violent streak — what about the guy he shot, was he okay?

        • Nat says:

          Wow Mark, kudos to you for knowing about this. I’m like Yalensis, I follow Navalny’s news quite closely, but never heard about this before yesterday.

          Yalensis, About the guy who got shot: “[…] Two bullets were pulled from the hand and side of the provocateur, plus his face is smashed.” said Ilya Yashin who was at the debate as well ( That is quite a violent temper. Shooting someone because he heckles you at a debate , so very democratic and liberal. The fact that it’s a pellet pistol (“traumatic” pistol) doesn’t make it a less violent act for someone who keeps belting about openness, freedom of speech and the necessity of debates in the political landscape.

        • Jen says:

          The more we learn about Alexei Navalny, the more we realise how really unqualified he is to be a political leader which I suppose is why the West has thrown its weight behind him. All that remains to be discovered about him is some kind of creepy addiction or compulsion.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            You do realize that you are speaking about the fiery leader of the Russian opposition and fierce critic of Vladimir Putin?

            I was talking to a woman this morning who told me that when she was on holiday in Greece this summer, some Greek approached her in the hotel and said to her that when she got back to Russia, she should tell Putin to stop killing people.

            The woman’s name is Elmira, by the way: she is 20 years of age and is a Tatar from Kazan.

        • marknesop says:

          I can’t find the original story, it does not look like Kevin’s posts were archived. You can still find references which used it as a substantiating link at the time, like this one. I’m sure I linked to it in the past as well. But “A Good Treaty” seems to have been taken over and re-ordered as a press service for some Russian/American Entrepreneurs site, and those posts look to have been re-written (or perhaps they’re entirely new, I can’t remember the originals word-for-word) in a fairly bland way as bullet-point infomercials. There is mention of the pistol incident, but quite terse and brief.

          5. In October 2007, one of his debates was interrupted by hooligans. He shot one of them in the street. A case was filed against him and the inquiry was relaunched four times. His handgun was seized and then returned to him in May 2008. Defending this incident, Navalny said that what he did was right because he shot outside the debate hall and didn’t hit the head. He did it for self-protection.

          Uh huh. A private individual who carries a riot pistol with him everywhere he goes – as he must have done, he certainly didn’t have time to run home and get it before shooting the guy – but who also obliges western sensibilities by saying it didn’t work properly, of course, because it’s Russian-made. A match made in heaven. Vote for Alexey Navalny, and you’ll by-God get riot pistols that will drop a rhino every time, and they’ll be made in the Land Of The Free. It’s time to admit Russia can’t make anything that works right, so it can just be a consumer nation for western products.

          Obviously different sources have different stories. This sanitized version says he acted in self-defense because he had to protect himself, and that the cops gave him back his gun; end of story. The Judah version, allegedly quoting Navalny, said the guy was shouting at him to come out and fight, so he went out and shot him.

  34. Moscow Exile says:

    Moscow, 18:00, Thursday evening, 30 October 2017.

    I surface from Trubnaya metro station to Svetnoi bulvar: raining heavily.

    Facing me is the monument to law and order agents killed in the line of duty:

    The inscription on the stele of the monument reads: “Grateful Russia – to soldiers of law and order who died in the line of duty”:

    The granite monument was unveiled on 11 November 1994 and bears a figure of St. George slaying the dragon. At the bottom of the pedestal on all sides are sculptural reliefs.

    It is dark. I hear a voice droning out names and ages of people. As I approach the column, I discern about 15 people, mostly middle-age women, standing beneath umbrellas and listening to the intonation..

    There are two canvas signs there on which can be read


    Memorial Prayer

    In their efforts to get out of the rain and to descend to the metro station and head for home,
    droves of people rush by, completely ignoring those gathered few listening to the Memorial Prayer.

    I, on the other hand, am going to work.

    19:45 — I have finished work. I walk past the monument again. It is still pissing it down and the man is still droning on. And the same 15 or so people are still standing there listening to the man.

    Do these people really believe that the vast majority of Russian citizens know so little of the Stalinist repression that they need to be reminded of it in this manner?

    I have met many Russians who have told me that members of their families — grandfathers, great-uncles etc. — vanished in the years of the terror.

    What purpose are these people serving, these people who stand in the pouring rain and listen to someone reading a list of the dead and the missing?

    Do they think no one cares? Do they think that the vast majority of their compatriots are so ignorant of the facts?

    Are they doing this out of patriotic fervour, out of a love for their nation, whom they fear may face (or is still facing) a similar repression as did their forebears almost 70 years ago?

    Do they feel duty bound to remind everyone of the sins of the past?

    If so, why?

    Who is paying the fiddler?

    • Cortes says:

      They may be “bearing witness” and no more. I see small groups of elderly people from time to time posted across from the entrance to a facility where abortions are carried out. They seem to be there more often when the weather is foul.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Not good enough:

        There has been a memorial at Butovo since 2007, but it has now been expanded and a wall has been added listing the names of all the 20,000 known victims. But you wouldn’t know about it if you relied on the BBC, Guardian, Washington Post, and all the rest of them, none of whom uttered so much as a word about it …

        See: Russia Remembers Stalin’s Victims, MSM Doesn’t Utter a Word

        Not good enough:

        “Wall of Grief”, Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin with Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, and former Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin attend a ceremony unveiling the country’s first national memorial to victims of Soviet-era political repressions called “The Wall of Grief” in downtown Moscow, Russia October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Alexander Nemenov/Pool


        Should the Russian Ambassador to the UN prostrate himself before all the delegates there and beg the world to forgive Russia of all its horrendous crimes against humanity?

        Yes, yes, YES!!!!!

        How about a Nuremberg Trial for Russia?

        Meanwhile, those bearing witness at Tsvetnoi bulvar were no longer there this morning.

        Life must be hell for them in this country.

        • Patient Observer says:

          Saw a piece on “France 24” (English version) showing up to 20 participants in the commemoration along with perhaps a similar number of newshounds. The voice over reminded viewers of the horrors of the Soviet past and that Putin was manipulating Russian nationalism to hide said horrors.

          That got me thinking about what countries do when faced with external threats. In the good ‘ol US of A during WW II we did this per Wikidpedia:

          The internment of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II was the forced relocation and incarceration in camps in the western interior of the country of between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of whom lived on the Pacific coast.

          Nary a credible threat to the US mainland, no evidence of a Japanese 5th column and absolutely no sane justification for the forced relocation. I wonder what would have happened if the Japanese had invaded Hawaii and was bombing the West Coast? I suspect racial hatred would have been fully unleashed with approval of the authorities if not outright support. Just speculation of an alternate history but not an unreasonable one I think.

          • Nat says:

            “The voice over reminded viewers of the horrors of the Soviet past and that Putin was manipulating Russian nationalism to hide said horrors.that Putin was manipulating Russian nationalism to hide said horrors.”

            Putin yesterday at the opening of the “Wall of Sorrow”, manipulating Russian nationalism to hide said horrors:

            “It is very important that we all and future generations – this is of great significance – know about, and remember this tragic period in our history when entire social groups and entire peoples were cruelly persecuted, including workers, peasants, engineers, military commanders, clergy, government employees, scientists and cultural figures.
            Neither talent, nor services to the Motherland, nor sincere devotion to it could help avoid repression, because unwarranted and absolutely absurd charges could be brought against anyone. Millions of people were declared ‘enemies of the people’, shot or mutilated, or suffered in prisons, labour camps or exile.
            This terrifying past cannot be deleted from national memory or, all the more so, be justified by any references to the so-called best interests of the people. The history of our country, like that of any other country, has plenty of difficult and controversial stages. People argue about them, discuss them, offering different approaches to explaining various events. This is a natural process of learning history and seeking the truth. However, when we are speaking about the repression, death and suffering of millions of people, it will only take a visit to the Butovo memorial site or other common graves of victims of repression, of which there are quite a few in Russia, to realise that these crimes cannot be justified in any way. Today, we will open the Wall of Sorrow in downtown Moscow. A grand, poignant monument both in its message and implementation. It appeals to our conscience and sentiment, calling for a deep and honest understanding of the period of repression, and empathy for its victims.”

            • marknesop says:

              What remarkable freedom barefaced lying allows. They ought to make it an established political system.


            • PaulR says:

              I comment here on how the opening of the Wall of Grief was reported in the English-speaking media:

            • yalensis says:

              With all due respect, Putin is full of shit.

              If Putin is mourning “Stalin’s victims”, then would this include Zinoviev, Kamenev, Radek, Bukharin, the other Old Bolsheviks, or even — gasp! — Trotsky, who was assassinated in Mexico at Stalin’s orders?

              Which, by the way, at the risk of giving Kirill an aneurism, I must advertise my own series of posts on the issue of the Trotsky assassination.
              I will resume this series on my blog in a few days.

              • Nat says:

                To be fair, Putin never mentioned Stalin in his speech, or “Stalin’s victims” or “Stalin’s era”, Not even “victims of Stalinism” or such. Throughout his speech, he spoke about the victims of political repression. That’s something we can all mourn for.

                • yalensis says:

                  Fair enough. But when you see Orthodox priests lining up to mourn “Stalin’s victims”, you can suspect that something dodgy is in the works!
                  As for everybody mourning abstract victims of abstract political repressions, I reckon that’s pretty vague. One man’s victim of political repression is another person’s rightfully executed enemy of the people.
                  By such vague standards, even Rudolph Hess could be counted a victim of repression, since the poor guy had to live out the rest of his life in a Soviet prison.
                  Not to mention Stepan Bandera, he was brutally assassinated for his political beliefs, poor fellow!

          • Jen says:

            Over a nine or twelve-month period from mid-1944 to 1945, Japan actually did send up about 10,000 balloon bombs into the upper atmosphere over the North Pacific Ocean so that wind currents would transport them to the US mainland and drop them. Each balloon bomb was actually two bombs, one main bomb and a second bomb to obliterate the traces of the first bomb and the balloon so that whoever came across it would never be able to work out where the balloon came from or who sent it.

            Most of these bombs never made landfall in North America – probably only about 1,000 did. As far as I’m aware, two bombs got as far as Michigan and Texas. Some landed in Alaska and on the coast of British Columbia. The US government was aware of these bombs but ordered the US news media not to mention them. Only when a young pregnant woman and five children came across an unexploded bomb during a Sunday picnic and were killed by it in Oregon state in May 1945 did the US government finally admit publicly that it had known about the Japanese balloon bomb campaign.

            Japan gave up sending any such bombs after scouring US newspapers since the campaign started and finding no mention of them!

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Monday evening, 30 October!

  35. Northern Star says:

    “The Popular Party government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is threatening all 200,000 Catalan civil servants with sacking if they oppose its attempt to seize control of the region. Rajoy has announced plans to discipline workers “without recourse to previous mechanisms regarding disciplinary measures.”

    Ghost of Ronnie and the ATC union!!!!

    Of course most of these people probably simply cannot afford to do anything other than to bow to Madrid’s pressure…..HOWEVER a general national strike might be a card to play….notwiithstanding the (apparently) significant number who oppose secession..

  36. Pavlo Svolochenko says:

    Bunglers, all of them.

  37. ucgsblog says:

    Russian Liberal Blogger, (one of the few popular ones,) opines on Sobchak’s candidacy @2:01

    “Why does everything you do, look like a piece of shit?” He then goes on to question her commitment to Crimea, her interview skills, and asks why she’s being interviewed in a building as it’s being torn down.

  38. James lake says:

    Has this been discussed here
    Apologies if it has.

    Exert from Reuters about Kazakhstan changing to the Latin alphabet.

    “Kazakhstan is to change its official alphabet for the third time in less than 100 years in what is seen in part as a symbolic move to underline its independence.
    President Nursultan Nazarbayev ordered his office on Thursday to prepare for a switch to a Latin-based alphabet from a Cyrillic one, distancing itself, at least graphically, from Russia.
    Although Kazakh has been the state language since Kazakhstan became independent in 1991, 62% of the population said they were fluent in both written and spoken Kazakh during the most recent national census in 2009.

    Russian is more widespread, with 85% claiming fluency in the same census. Russian is recognised as an official language in Kazakhstan.

  39. Warren says:

    VisualPolitik EN
    Published on 30 Oct 2017
    Transylvania -the land where Dracula was born- is also the place of one of the most significant separatists conflicts in all of Europe. In other words… Transylvania is the perfect place to make a VisualPolitik Halloween special!

    In this historical region situated in the centre of Romania 20% of its population doesn’t even speak Romanian. Instead, Hungarian is their mother language.

    What is the Szekely Land? Why are Szekely Land’s demands causing such a significant diplomatic conflict? And more importantly… What does the Hungarian government have to do with this? Well, today we are going to answer all of these questions.

    • Nat says:

      “Cotswold public schoolboy” – That really makes it seem as if it’s a child or teenager who got injured, not a 36 years old sniper.

      • Jen says:

        The headline did seem odd … it made me wonder if the “Cotswolds public schoolboy” was going to be a future British version of Emmanuel Macron. 🙂

        Apart from that, who’s betting that Osmayev will find and marry a second wife within the next six months?

        • Moscow Exile says:

          What do Muslim fundamentalist women get in a paradise as a prize for a martyr’s death?

          Six fresh shags a night like the lads do?

          And I should add that I am acquainted with some very cultured, friendly, neighbourly, “normal” Muslim women here who don’t walk around in black bin-bags all the bloody time.

          They are all Tatars, by the way.

          • niku says:

            I think I convinced a girl from your home-country (in the context of Britain leaving the EU) that mass immigration of people who have had a wholly different culture and history is not a good idea. She is yet to thank me, though!

        • Cortes says:

          Not sure that you will find any takers for that wager.

          No suggestion that mundane criminal activity was a factor in shooting and counter attack?

    • marknesop says:

      Holy Mother of God. What does his one-time status as a ‘public schoolboy’ have to do with the story?? I was once in the Air Cadets; would that have any meaningful impact on my death if I were killed today? What kind of journalism is this? What’s next: former dry-cleaner apprentice gunned down in Odessa?

      • et Al says:

        I would guess that a) anyone who is afforded private *£$ing expensive education and turns to a life of crime is notable coz they’re supposed to know better; and b) doubly more so for someone worthy from abroad (refugee?) who was clasped to mother England’s bosom and then remains so uncivilized and barbaric despite all the privileges. After all, he was supposed to become a model British citizen…. by osmosis!

  40. Moscow Exile says:

    Crappy Russia:

    She’s at the Mayakovskaya metro station. The ceramic travel ring has a “Troika” microchip in it. You can get Troika bracelets and cards as well.

    • kirill says:

      Sauron is clearly trying to trap all Russians under his evil control.

      Truly, Putin is Sauron, the lord of the rings.

  41. Moscow Exile says:

    She had a 110 single journeys left on the microchip after she had gone through the turnstile. She paid 2,200 rubles for the ring, which comes in a presentation box, and the journeys.

    A single ticket now costs 55 rubles. Quite a saving!

    The bracelets and cards are much cheaper, of course.

    There’s a similar system on the London Underground, which is called “Oyster”.

    At the stations in both Moscow and London, you can read at terminals how many journeys/money you have left on your ring/card/bracelet, and “top-up” the microchip by means of payments.

    I don’t pay on the metro because I’m an old codger.

  42. Moscow Exile says:

    I know. It’s not what you say but the way you say it.

    One could also say “killer mercenary educated at great expense at English public school …”

    From Russian Wiki:

    Adam Aslanbekovich Osman was born 2 may 1981 (according to other data, 1984) in the city of Grozny. His father, Aslanbek Osmayev, had an oil business [source not specified], and his mother Lila was a housewife. In addition to Adam, the couple had two more sons, Ramzan and Islam, and a daughter, Hava. Novaya Gazeta wrote that Adam Osmaev came from a “very influential family of mountain of Chechens”: it was noted that in 1995 his uncle, Amin Osman, became Chairman of the Supreme Council of Chechnya and then, from 1996 to 1998, was head of the house of representatives of the National Assembly of the Chechen Republic … and in 1996-1998 he was a member of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation.

    According to “Novaya Gazeta”, in 1996 the Osmaevs moved to Moscow, where Adam, with his uncle’s help, entered the Moscow State Institute of International Relations … However, the Agency Interfax, citing sources in law enforcement agencies of the Chechen Republic, reported that Osman left the territory of the Chechen Republic “approximately in 2005, then for a long time he lived in Moscow”. Information…published by “Novaya Gazeta” noted that he graduated from the Law Institute of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and worked as an operative of the Department of Internal Affairs on the Arbat. According to the publication, in the capital, the brothers led a normal lifestyle for “children of rich parents” and “spent all their free time in bars and discos”.

    In 2007 the press published allegations that Osman had graduated from “prestigious universities in the UK”. However, in 2012 the media, in particular the newspaper Kommersant, confirmed that from 1999 Osman had studied economics at Buckingham University, (The University of Buckingham) in England and reported that the young man had not graduated but had been expelled for academic failure. University representatives also confirmed that Osman had been at the university but had left … in 1999. Osmayev had no scholarship grants and had to pay for his studies (according to the newspaper “The Moscow Times”, the cost of two years of study for a bachelor degree at Buckingham University could be about 50 thousand dollars). According to “Kommersant”, overseas Osman visited the mosque, where, perhaps, he met fellow countrymen, Chechens, who taught him how to make bombs. Amin Osman has suggested that in England his nephew had come under the influence of Wahhabis.

  43. et Al says:

    crAP: Catalan leader to speak at Brussels Press Club

    11 a.m.

    A European lawmaker has confirmed that ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont will give a news conference at 12:30 p.m. (1130 GMT; 7:30 EDT) at the Brussels Press Club.

    Jordi Sole Ferrando, a European Parliament lawmaker and a member of the Catalan Republic Left party which supports Catalonia’s independence from Spain, made the announcement in a tweet ….

  44. Moscow Exile says:

    I see he who who will never post again save in response to those who insult him has started to post on various topics and not in response to any perceived insult.

  45. et Al says:

    Vis the ex-leaders of Catalonia hanging out in Brussels, they’re being quite smart. They declared independence after a vote but that declaration hasn’t taken on an official form as it has not been published in the legal journal.

    As the The International Court of Justice ruled on the Kosovo declaration of independence, ‘declaring’ it is not illegal in international law (they gave no opinion on whether actual independence by one actor instead of the necessary agreement of both sides as is required by the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, at all), so how can Madrid credibly say that the vote was illegal?

    The ICJ is supranational and Madrid’s charges contradict its opinion, therefore Pudguimont and others are on kosher legal ground. Now that would be up for question if the declaration is officially published. They are holding to the threat to have it published as a means to force Madrid to talk on their terms. This is for Madrid to screw up, i.e. like tennis where the one who makes the least faults usually wins.

    But why Brussels? Because it has high visibility, is the seat of NATO and the European institutions that claim to uphold European values and law. Oh, and it is packed with the world’s news agencies.. It is a double whammy which works puts on the onus on Brussels, NATO and others to keep Madrid in line and not do anything stupid.

    Of course the PPNN could completely ignore the Kosovo angle, and they are doing their best to do so, but once Pudguimont and co. decide to pull the trigger, it will be a fact and will have to be publicly dealt with.

    Or have I misunderstood this all? It’s certainly’ what it looks like to me, especially as they are not asking for political asylum, which is something they could also do and put not only Belgium in a bind, but the rest too. The benefits of keeping one’s powder dry!

  46. Moscow Exile says:

    The obvious — that her standing for president is a Kremlin ruse to instill excitement into the 2018 election that is to take place in this “false democracy”?

    Why yes, of course: it’s all so obvious now!

    And I always thought Galeotti was an Eyetie or an Eyetie-American.

    Obviously not.

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