Top 10 Russophobe Myths

EDIT: Check out the updated Top 50 Russophobe Myths.

According to this blog’s philosophy, every thesis needs an antithesis. Hence I present the Top 10 Russophobe Myths, in opposition to La Russophobe’s Top 10 Russophile Myths. (As well as to celebrate our 2000th visit).

10

MYTH: The barbarous state of Muscovy arose in the sixteenth century when Ivan the Terrible climbed out of the trees.

REALITY: The more than 1000-year old civilization of Kievan Rus’ was literate, affluent, governed by a legal code that abhorred cruel and unusual punishments (including the death penalty) and accorded women property and inheritance rights.

9

MYTH: Russians are a pack of uncultured illiterates.

REALITY: Russia leads the world in literacy, level of tertiary attainment and the quality of its mathematicians and programmers. It possesses a world-class literary, musical and artistic heritage and to claim otherwise is in fact to admit oneself ignorant and uncultured.

8

MYTH: Russia has fallen to Tsarist levels of inequality and is plagued by endemic, African-level corruption. Both of these have become much worse under Putin.

REALITY: Russia’s level of income inequality and of corruption is average by world standards. Under Putin, they have registered a slight deterioration and slight improvement, respectively.

7

MYTH: Russia is an aggressive state which is hated by its neighbors.

REALITY: Unlike some superpowers, the Russia Federation has yet to invade another country. Most of its neighbors view Russia favorably and a majority of Ukrainians would be happy to join it.

6

MYTH: Russians are sexists and xenophobic racists who hate the West.

REALITY: Russian women live longer and are better educated than men, enjoy full abortion rights and participate extensively in the economy. Few Russians are predisposed against the US and there are far fewer anti-Semitic incidents in Russia than in France, Germany and the UK.

5

MYTH: Heroic Americans with their British sidekicks won World War Two, while the Russians just threw billions of soldiers without rifles in front of German machine guns.

The vast majority of German soldiers were killed, taken POW or otherwise incapacitated on the Eastern front. The Soviet to Axis loss ratio was 1.3:1 and the USSR outproduced Germany in every weapons system throughout the war.

4

MYTH: Russia’s economy is one big oil bubble.

REALITY: The extractive industries contribute a negligible amount to Russia’s real GDP growth. Today’s excellent macroeconomic situation combined with its impressive human capital stand Russia in good stead for convergence to First World living standards by 2020-30.

3

MYTH: Life has only improved for a few oligarchs. Russia is in a demographic death spiral that has gotten worse under Putin and which will soon sink its economy.

REALITY: In the last eight years, poverty rates have more than halved and wages have risen by a factor of 2.6, fuelling an on-going consumption boom. The birth rate has increased, the death rate has fallen and mortality from murder, suicide and alcohol poisoning has plummeted. Projections of Russia’s future dependency ratios are no worse than for China or the G7.

2

MYTH: Putin has abused human rights, personally murdered 200 journalists and returned Russia to its totalitarian past.

REALITY: Too bad that only 3% of Russians agree, despite having easy access to such views via the press, cable TV and the Internet. The number of journalists killed under Putin (17) is less than under Yeltsin (30), and only five of them can be definitively linked to their professional work. Elections have been mostly free and fair.

1

MYTH: Russia is Mordor.

REALITY: Scratch a Russophobe, and you find a talentless fantasy writer. Sorry to disappoint you folks, but there aren’t billions of orcs beneath the Ural Mountains preparing the final phase of their assault on the West. Not as far as I know, anyway.

I’ll be adding more myths as I think of them…
11

MYTH: Chechnya’s heroic freedom fighters deserve their indepedence.

REALITY: When they had de facto independence, the Chechens created a criminalized, Wahhabi state, practiced ethnic cleansing against local Russians and launched armed raids against border regions.

12

MYTH: All Soviet space programs were developed by German prisoners of war, who are still kept in labour camps in Siberia.

REALITY: Sorry, but wrong country. All German leading hi-tech professionals, including rocket scientists, surrendered to Americans and many worked on their space program.

Comments and Sources
10. Read the Kievan Rus’ wiki and consult its sources for confirmation and more information. Just to pre-empt any confrontations, I am aware that some Ukrainian nationalists consider the history of Rus’ to be exclusively theirs, dating the emergence of the Russian state to the late medieval expansion of Muscovy. This is a ridiculous viewpoint. Firstly, Kievan Rus’ also covered modern-day Belarus and most of European Russia west of the Volga. Secondly, even Muscovy can trace its ancestry from the principality of Vladimir-Suzdal’, which was nearly as old as Kiev or Novgorod.
9. Russia has universal literacy (see World Bank). Statistics on the percentage of the population with tertiary education from the OECD. In PIRLS 2006 (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study), Russia came first in the world on the average combined reading literacy score. In mathematics, 17% of all Fields Medal winners (and 36% since the RF came into existence) have been Russian/Soviet nationals (see Wikipedia). Programming prowess is indicated by articles such as these (The next Silicon Valley: Siberia) and reflected in things like Maths Olympiad and programming competition results.
8. Russia’s income Gini coefficient (a standard measure of income inequality) of around 41.3 as of 2007 is high only by the standards of socialist European countries. It is lower than in the US, China and the vast majority of developing countries. It has remained almost completely constant from 1994-2003, and by projection, to 2007 (see HDR05 RF: Rusia in 2015, p.33). Only 17% of Russians paid a bribe to obtain a service in 2007 (see Transparency International’s GCB) – putting them into the same quintile as Bulgaria, Turkey and the Czech Republic, i.e. slap bang in the middle of world corruption rather than at the end. Even according to the World Bank (control of corruption 16.5 in 2000; 24.3 in 2006) and Transparency International (CPI of 2.1 in 2000; 2.3 in 2007), transparency has slightly improved under Putin. I have already discussed issues of inequality and corruption (in particular the problem with CPI) here and here. To quote A Normal Country (Andrei Shleifer & Daniel Treisman, Foreign Affairs, Mar/Apr 2004) in extenso:
Yet what about sources less dependent on the perception of outsiders? In the summer of 1999, the World Bank and the EBRD conducted a survey of business managers in 22 postcommunist countries. Respondents were asked to estimate the share of annual revenues that “firms like theirs” typically devoted to unofficial payments to public officials “in order to get things done.” Such payments might be made, the questionnaire added, to facilitate connection to public utilities, to obtain licenses or permits, to improve relations with tax collectors, or in relation to customs or imports. Respondents were also asked to what extent the sale of parliamentary laws, presidential decrees, or court decisions had directly affected their businesses, in the hope of measuring the extent to which policymakers were co-opted by business.
On both the “burden of bribery” and “state capture” dimensions, Russia ranked right in the middle of its postcommunist peers. On average, Russian firms reportedly paid 2.8 percent of revenues on bribes, less than in Ukraine and Uzbekistan, and far less than in Azerbaijan (5.7 percent) and Kyrgyzstan (5.3 percent). The percentage who said it was “sometimes,” “frequently,” “mostly,” or “always” necessary for their firms to make extra, unofficial payments to public officials in order to influence the content of new laws, decrees, or regulations was also about average: 9 percent, compared to 24 percent in Azerbaijan, 14 percent in Latvia and Lithuania, and 2 percent in Belarus and Uzbekistan. In both cases, Russian responses were very close to what one would predict given Russia’s relative level of economic development.
How does corruption in Russia affect individuals? The UN conducts a cross-national survey of crime victims. Between 1996 and 2000, it asked urban residents in a number of countries the following question: “In some countries, there is a problem of corruption among government or public officials. During [the last year] has any government official, for instance a customs officer, a police officer or inspector in your country asked you, or expected you, to pay a bribe for his service?” The percentage of positive responses in Russia was about average for the developing and middle-income countries surveyed. Some 17 percent of Russians said they had been asked for or had been expected to pay bribes in the preceding year, fewer than in Argentina, Brazil, Lithuania, or Romania. Again, Russia’s relative position was almost exactly what one would expect given its per capita income.

7. 81% of Ukrainians, 78% of Bulgars, 59% of Slovaks and 54% of Chinese view Russia favorably (in each country, that’s more than those who view the US in a positive light). These opinion polls are from the 47-nation PEW survey Global Unease with Major Powers. (Ok, admittedly the same cannot be said for Poles and the Czechs). Some 54% of Ukrainians are positive about joining the Union of Russia and Belarus, while only 24% are negative (see this poll). More Ukrainians would prefer to join the Union of Russian & Belarus (43%) than the European Union (30%) (see Levada poll here).

6. For abortion laws, see Wikipedia. For other stats, see the WEF Gender Gap Index 2007 Russia section, according to which women are better educated, healthier and constitute 38% of decision-makers and 64% of professional workers. (Admittedly, the political subsection isn’t as good, though it should be noted that since the last Duma elections, the percentage of women in parliament has increased from 10% to 14% and two women have entered the Russian Cabinet). Only 8% of Russians view Americans very negatively (an attitude not shared by most people in Latin America and the Middle East). In 2006, a typical year, there were 136 violent anti-Semitic incidents in the UK, 97 in France, 74 in Canada, 38 in Germany and 34 in the Ukraine, compared to just 30 in Russia (according to the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism).
5. Rüdiger Overmans. Deutsche militärische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Oldenbourg 2000. ISBN 3-486-56531-1 estimates that from the Polish campaign to the end of 1944, 75-80% of all German armed forces personnel died or went missing in action on the Eastern Front up to the end of 1944. According to Krivosheev’s research, throughout the war, the vast majority of German divisions were concentrated against the Soviet Union – in 1942, for instance, there were 240 fighting in the East and 15 in North Africa, in 1943 there were 257 in the East and up to 26 in Italy and even in 1944 there were more than 200 in the East compared to just 50 understrength and sub-par divisions in the West. From June 1941 to June 1944, 507 German (and 607 German and Allied) divisions and 77,000 fighters were destroyed in the East, compared to 176 divisions and 23,000 fighters in the West. The two pivotal battles, Stalingrad and El Alamein, differed in scale by a factor of about ten.
According to meticulous post-Soviet archival work (G. I. Krivosheev. Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses. Greenhill 1997 ISBN 1-85367-280-7), casualties were as follows:
Number of Soldiers – the total number of people who passed through the armed forces of the following combatant countries during the course of World War Two.
USSR – 34,476,700, Germany – 21,107,000.
Irrevocable Losses – the number of people serving in armed forces of following countries who were killed in military action, went MIA, became POWs and died of non-combat causes.
USSR – 11,285,057, Germany – 6,231,700, (Germany + occupied territories) – 6,923,700,
(Germany + occupied territories + Axis Allies) – 8,649,500
Ratio (USSR + Germany) – 1,8:1, Ratio (USSR + (Germany + Allies)) – 1,3:1
Military Dead – the number of people who were KIA, died of non-combat causes, died as POWs or went MIA (and thus presumed dead). Germany according to Overmans’ figures.
USSR – 8,668,400 (of whom Russians – 6,750,000), Germany – 5,318,000.
The problem is that during the Cold War, historiography in the West was dominated by the memoirs of Tippelskirch, who wrote in the 1950’s with constant Soviet/German forces ratios of 7:1 and losses ratio of 10:1. This has been carried over into the 1990’s (as with popular historians like Anthony Beevor), although it should be noted that more professional people like Richard Overy are aware of the new research. Note also that cumulatively 28% and 57% of all Soviet losses were incurred in 1941 and 1942 (source), whereas for the Germans the balance was roughly the opposite.
The idea that there were two soldiers for every rifle in the Red Army, as in the film Enemy at the Gates (a truly awful film which moved the Russian veterans’ association to demand of the Duma that it be banned in Russia), is a complete figment of the Russophobic Western imagination. From 1939 to 1945, the USSR outproduced Germany in aircraft (by a factor of 1.3), tanks (1.7), machine guns (2.2), artillery (3.2) and mortars (5.5), so in fact if anything the Red Army was better equipped than the Wehrmacht (sources – Richard Overy, Why the Allies Won, Pimlico 2006, ISBN 1845950658; Chris Chant, Small Arms, Silverdale Books 2003, ISBN 1-85605-790-9).
Another particularly insidious myth is that Russia would have been better off surrendering to the Nazis, espoused by our dead friend La Russophobe, since apparently Stalin killed more people than Hitler. All that one needs to do to disprove this vile idea is consider the fact that 26.6mn Soviet citizens died in the Great Patriotic War, the vast majority of them civilians under German occupation and the whole Generalplan Ost.
The war against Russia will be such that it cannot be conducted in a knightly fashion. This struggle is one of ideologies and racial differences and will have to be conducted with unprecedented, unmerciful and unrelenting harshness. – Adolf Hitler, March 1941.
4. In 2007, Russia’s economy grew by 8.1%, driven by construction (16.4%), retail (12.0%), finance (10.4%) and manufacturing (7.9%) and weighted down by the extractive industries (a meager 0.3%) (source). This pattern has held since 2005, and even in the 2000-2004 period only a third of growth was due to increasing hydrocarbons production. Consult the economics part of this post for further information. Russia has a healthy current account surplus, 0.5tn $ in foreign currency reserves and as of now the budget is calculated to break even at 65$ / barrel oil. Continuing increases in oil prices mask volume growth in non-hydrocarbons exports. For why I am bullish on continuing high growth in the future, refer to my previous posts here and here. Note that Goldman Sachs thinks that Russia is the only member of the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, China, India) with the potential to reach Western levels of GDP per capita in the foreseeable future.
3. According to Rosstat, in the last eight years, poverty rates have more than halved (from 30% to 14%). In real terms during 2000-2007, pensions have grown by a factor of 2.3 and wages by a factor of 2.6, reaching 643$ as of February 2008 (while the Gini index has remained roughly steady, as we’ve already covered). A consumption boom has seen cell phone and Internet penetration by 2008 exceed 100% and reach 28%, respectively. From 2000-2007 per thousand people, the birth rate has increased from 8.7 to 11.3, while the death rate has fallen from 15.3 to 14.7 – thus, natural population growth has increased from -0.66% to -0.34%. Similarly, infant mortality has tumbled from 15.3/1000 to 10.2/1000. (In fact, increased migration meant the total population fall in 2007 was just -0.17%, i.e., not substantially different from Japan, Germany or just about any central-east European nation). During the same period, mortality from alcohol poisonings, suicide and murder has fallen by 40%, 25% and 40%, respectively. However, all of this misses the point that in economics what matters isn’t the population or its growth rate per se, but the dynamics of the working age population as a percentage of the whole population – in this respect, Russia’s projected decline is no more severe than that in the the G7 or China (see this post and pg.8 of this Goldman Sachs report).
2. The notion that Putin has strangled Russia’s nascent democracy is an exclusively Western one. 64% of Russians think Putin has had a positive influence on democracy and human rights, while only 3% think it was ‘very negative’ (see recent BBC World Service poll and fedia’s excellent commentary on it). For more information, please consult this blog’s stated position on HR in Russia and my appearance on Al-Jazeera. The data on journalists is taken from the Committee to Protect Journalists‘ database and fedia’s audit of it. Finally, on the topic of the election, no election watch-dog has been able to point out anything other than vacuous allegations that I’m aware of. For instance, on the topic of the 2008 Presidential elections, please consult my blog post on it (including the Western media’s shameless manipulation of the response to the Moscow protests) and the response of independent Russian election monitor GOLOS (here):

GOLOS Association observed that the Election Day was held in a relatively quiet atmosphere in contrast to the State Duma election day. Such large-scale violations observed then as campaigning next to polling stations, transporting of voters, intimidation of voters and others were practically non-existent. Polling stations were better prepared and the voting process was better organized. At the majority of polling stations voters’ lists were properly bound, there were fewer representatives of administration at inside polling stations. In general the process of opening of the polling stations went well without any major incidents.

1. This last myth is a bit tongue in cheek, although on the topic of Mordor I’ve actually managed to find a Russophobe who makes the comparison explicitly.
But as time since 1991 passed and the two countries drifted in their development further and further away from each other, the city was increasingly attached to Estonia because of the dark presence of its evil twin, Russian Ivangorod (right).
Crossing the river bridge into Ivangorod makes those numbers quickly grow in flesh and obtain form in miriad of differences, which set Russia apart from Europe, starting with sickening public toilets and ending with the hopelessness in the people’s eyes.This is why looking again at the crude limestone fortress almost invisible at night with only the howling of wild beasts giving away the presence of life on the other side of the vast body of water I can’t help it but recollect the following verse:
…to bring them
all and in darkness bind…
in the land of Mordor, where the shadows lie.
I have a feeling that this attitude could be just one of several things uniting myself and many decent Narva inhabitants. And this feeling is good.
And so the Annals of smug, self-satisfied Western Hypocrisy go on, world and time without end, imagining Russians to be Mongols with tanks and ICBMs (for the most extreme example, check out these religious nutjobs who go on about the “Final Phase“). Too bad Russia prevented the West from becoming better acquainted with the Golden Horde by being in the way.
11. Go here for our take on the Chechen question.
12. See Brother Karamazov’s comment on 31st March, 2:14PM. Also has another myth.
Note also that it was a Russian (Tsiolkovsky) who developed the theoretical and philosophical basis for space exploration.

Comments

  1. Dr House says:

    >>>>17% of Russians paid a bribe to obtain a service in 2007 – putting them into the same quintile as Bulgaria, Turkey and the Czech Republic, i.e. slap bang in the middle of world corruption rather than at the end. Even according to the World Bank and Transparency International, corruption stagnated under Putin; empirical observation suggests it has improved.Being in the middle of World corruption is not something to brag about. Just a suggestion.>>>>Unlike some superpowers, the Russia Federation has yet to invade another country.Awesome! So a political entity that’s existed for a full 17 years now and has busied itself with dragging its arse from under the corpse of a failed command economy has not had time to think of invading other countries. Now remind me again, how many countries did the USSR invade?>>>>MYTH: Russia is Mordor.ROFL!That last one was awesome.Overall, other than my two nit-picks it looks like Russia is headed in the right direction. It’s a testament to the triumph of capitalism over communism, which in real terms was for thirty years unable to propel the Russian economy past the point it finds itself at now.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Overall, other than my two nit-picks it looks like Russia is headed in the right direction.”True.”It’s a testament to the triumph of capitalism over communism, which in real terms was for thirty years unable to propel the Russian economy past the point it finds itself at now.”False. In 1991, the Russian Federated Soviet Socialist Republic had population growth of about 800,000 per year. The testament of the superiority of Soviet Communism over post-Soviet Capitalism is indicated by considering that if the birth and death rates of the last years of the USSR had been continued to the present day, the combined population of the USSR’s successor states would be about 30 million higher than it now is.Although it could be worse for Russia. In US client Ukraine, birth rates are stuck around 9.5/1000 population, while death rates remain about 16/1000 population. Every year, there are ~400,000 fewer Ukrainians than there were the year before. Yes, the Free-Market Democratic west will defend Ukrainian independence to the last Ukrainian!

  3. @dr house,Being in the middle of World corruption is not something to brag about. Just a suggestion.Thanks for the suggestion.:)I’m not bragging about it, though. While work still needs to be done on it, what I’m concerned with is corrected Western myths about Russia. The Myth of Russian Corruption is that it’s one of the worst in the world, i.e. on the level of Togo (as the Economist seems to think). Whereas in fact its somewhere in the middle, i.e. a normal place given its level of socioeconomic development – which is the result you get when you consider rely on asking ordinary people how affected they are by corruption rather than the perceptions of “experts” in their thinktank ivory towers.Another quote (http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20040301faessay83204-p40/andrei-shleifer-daniel-treisman/a-normal-country.html):Yet what about sources less dependent on the perception of outsiders? In the summer of 1999, the World Bank and the EBRD conducted a survey of business managers in 22 postcommunist countries. Respondents were asked to estimate the share of annual revenues that “firms like theirs” typically devoted to unofficial payments to public officials “in order to get things done.” Such payments might be made, the questionnaire added, to facilitate connection to public utilities, to obtain licenses or permits, to improve relations with tax collectors, or in relation to customs or imports. Respondents were also asked to what extent the sale of parliamentary laws, presidential decrees, or court decisions had directly affected their businesses, in the hope of measuring the extent to which policymakers were co-opted by business.On both the “burden of bribery” and “state capture” dimensions, Russia ranked right in the middle of its postcommunist peers. On average, Russian firms reportedly paid 2.8 percent of revenues on bribes, less than in Ukraine and Uzbekistan, and far less than in Azerbaijan (5.7 percent) and Kyrgyzstan (5.3 percent). The percentage who said it was “sometimes,” “frequently,” “mostly,” or “always” necessary for their firms to make extra, unofficial payments to public officials in order to influence the content of new laws, decrees, or regulations was also about average: 9 percent, compared to 24 percent in Azerbaijan, 14 percent in Latvia and Lithuania, and 2 percent in Belarus and Uzbekistan. In both cases, Russian responses were very close to what one would predict given Russia’s relative level of economic development.How does corruption in Russia affect individuals? The UN conducts a cross-national survey of crime victims. Between 1996 and 2000, it asked urban residents in a number of countries the following question: “In some countries, there is a problem of corruption among government or public officials. During [the last year] has any government official, for instance a customs officer, a police officer or inspector in your country asked you, or expected you, to pay a bribe for his service?” The percentage of positive responses in Russia was about average for the developing and middle-income countries surveyed. Some 17 percent of Russians said they had been asked for or had been expected to pay bribes in the preceding year, fewer than in Argentina, Brazil, Lithuania, or Romania. Again, Russia’s relative position was almost exactly what one would expect given its per capita income.Awesome! So a political entity that’s existed for a full 17 years now and has busied itself with dragging its arse from under the corpse of a failed command economy has not had time to think of invading other countries.Interesting enough, in summer 2001 Russia was preparing to intervene with 60,000 troops in Afghanistan to interdict the flow of heroin out of it. Thanks to 9/11, we get to keep our war virginity a bit longer, though. 🙂ROFL!That last one was awesome.Glad you liked it.@anonymous,I think market reforms were necessary by the late 1980’s to avoid stagnation and eventually collapse. It is unlikely the huge amount of money diverted from investment into subsidies and military spending were sustainable in the long run.Could the reforms have been managed better, though? Very probably yes.

  4. Elections are free and fair in Russia, and there is free access to the media? I agree with most of your other points, but this one is a bit too big to swallow. Most mass media are controlled by friends and allies of Vladimir Putin, including all national TV Channels, most newspapers and radios. Yes, internet is not as much censored as in China, but blogger are not immune either (see this: http://www.robertamsterdam.com/2008/03/grigory_pasko_mopping_up_befor.htm) .As for fair elections, it is a bit funny: you can’t have this if there is no free and fair access to media nor independant mass media for that matter. Free, maybe, though there have been serious violations reported and most opposition demonstrations were forbidden or simply crushed. But fair? I doubt it.

  5. @alphast,Thank you for your comment.Elections are free and fair in Russia, and there is free access to the media? I agree with most of your other points, but this one is a bit too big to swallow. Since this is a point the Western media harps on the most about, that is not surprising.Most mass media are controlled by friends and allies of Vladimir Putin, including all national TV Channels, most newspapers and radios. Firstly, financial control does not imply editorial control. (Although speaking of the former, the number of financially independent media outlets has actually increased under Putin’s administration). It is true that direct criticism of Putin is rare – not surprisingly, given his 84% popularity level – but there exist political talkshows that do engage in intensive criticism of government policies, corruption, etc. As an example just this past week Echo of Moscow radio station, majority owned by Gazprom Media, aired an interview with famous anti-Putinist Illarionov (which is now hanging on the Internet for all interested parties to see – http://www.echo.msk.ru/programs/beseda/502057-echo/).Yes, internet is not as much censored as in China, but blogger are not immune either (see this: http://www.robertamsterdam.com/2008/03/grigory_pasko_mopping_up_befor.htm).The Internet is completely uncensored – according to the Economist, the same cannot be said of the US and most European countries (http://www.economist.com/daily/chartgallery/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10754988).Generally speaking I prefer not to comment on individual cases since a) it takes up a lot of time to dig up all the relevant information from both sides (the “opposition” isn’t exactly a beacon of integrity) and b) individual cases of breaches of HR (as opposed to law enforcement doing their job) are hardly unique to Russia as opposed to the West and focusing on them carries the danger of ignoring the larger macro picture of HR in the country as a whole (in which department I do not dispute that Russia still has a lot to do, e.g. with prison conditions, army conditions, unlawful behavior on the part of power structures, etc).As for fair elections, it is a bit funny: you can’t have this if there is no free and fair access to media nor independant mass media for that matter.Just because the Russian MSM rarely cover a group which enjoys at most 3% of Russians’ support, does not follow they are unfair. How much coverage does Ralph Nader typically get?Please read Nicolai Petro’s analysis of media freedoms in Russia (http://www.npetro.net/resources/opendemocracy.pdf) and my views on it (http://darussophile.blogspot.com/2008/03/editorial-i-appear-on-al-jazeera.html), then come back with something more nuanced than blanket statements of “no freedom, fairness or independence”.Free, maybe, though there have been serious violations reported and most opposition demonstrations were forbidden or simply crushed. But fair? I doubt it.Firstly, please read Petro’s article Why Russian Liberals Lose (http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/12/04/opinion/edpetro.php) to understand why the “liberal” “opposition” isn’t that popular.Secondly, some violations are going to happen in any democracy. I think a more telling statistic is that despite being predicted a 10% vote in preliminaring polling, Zyuganov got nearly 20% at the ballot. This shows that despite the current ruling clique’s vast support, surprises do still happen.Thirdly, as I’ve covered here, the opposition demonstrations that are crushed are always unsanctioned. (Although unsanctioned demonstrations are not always crushed). It’s just that those protestors who do get a permit, like the St.-Petersburgers after Presidential elections, aren’t covered by the Western media since they’d much rather film how the totalitarian OMON breaks up illegal gatherings (which typically happen near the centre and mess up traffic flows).

  6. @all,BTW, just like to point out that all references backing up my claims are at the bottom underneath “Comments and Sources”. I’d appreciate it if you could first look over them before posting refutations that could have already been counter-refuted. Thank you.

  7. Fedia Kriukov says:

    Myth 10 is not quite like that. The real myth is that the Kievan Rus was this advanced European state, and then Muscovy arose and by various underhanded means, as the loyal servant of the Tatars, put it all under its control, eventually crushing even the Novgorod “democracy”.For Myth 8, might add that income inequality in the US is higher than in Russia. :)Myth 6: I think the perception comes from the fact that Russians don’t feel the need to hide their opinions on the subject. Unlike most western countries, where bigotry has been driven into the closet, but did not really decrease. People still think the same, they’re just afraid to say it out loud.Myth 3: I’m afraid that increased birth rates are a temporary effect of the 80’s baby boom. Once the 90’s generation gets into reproductive age, it will be a disaster. 🙁 It’s not the birth rates that need to increase, but average fertility per woman. It started going up, but only by a tiny amount.Myth 1: Don’t knock Crystal Island! I think it’s a beautiful project. But Russia Tower will be more impressive. It is expected to become world’s second tallest skyscraper once it’s completed in 2010 or 11. After that Dubai tower, whose name I forgot.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Actually There is less bribery and corruption in Russian than the USA. It is just of a different form. Take for example Merck and Co., inc recent 671 million fine for bribing doctors:http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=200&sid=2627669&comments=true.Every American business works on bribes and corruption. The mortgage brokers who underwrote subprime loans would recieve between 5 and 10% of the loan amount. Wall street is completely corrupt whether it be insider trading or bond issuers paying rating agencies for the ratings. Corruption in America is just more insidous and on a much larger scale.

  9. Anonymous says:

    dr house. your free market cultist criticism of Russia’s “failed command economy” is truly ignorant. In fact the communist investment in mass transportation was a brilliant strategic move far better than any sprung from the invisible hand of the “free” market. As easily accessible oil becomes ever scarcer(and higher priced) country’s with mass trans will fair much better than those without. Please read Dmitri Orlovs analysis to see how the free market society will compare to communist society when things get really tight:http://www.energybulletin.net/23259.html( …[the] physical arrangement of life in our nation, in particular suburban sprawl, [is] the most destructive development pattern the world has ever seen, and perhaps the greatest misallocation of resources the world has ever known. ” — James KunstlerIs suburbia the next slumburbia? http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2008/03/14/carollloyd.DTL

  10. Oleg Nevestin says:

    I concur with the “anonymous” about the extent of American corruption. It’s simply stunning. Washington DC is bursting at the seams with lobbyists, beyond residences of which it’s actually a third-world city. Bribes are called “contributions”, and Americans believe that if bribery is legalized then it’s not a bribery anymore. Unbelievable, but buying politicians in America is considered a form of “free speech”. Bribes – pardon me, “contributions” – are solicited in the open, without any hint of shame. The biggest “contributors” are rewarded with ambassadorships, government contracts and inside deals. And the sickest part of it all is that it actually is considered absolutely normal.

  11. @fedia,Myth 10 is not quite like that. The real myth is that the Kievan Rus was this advanced European state, and then Muscovy arose and by various underhanded means, as the loyal servant of the Tatars, put it all under its control, eventually crushing even the Novgorod “democracy”.Well, at least a large majority of the Westerners I’ve spoken to on the matter do seem to think that Russian history began in the 16th century, if not with Peter the Great. As for your point, AFAIK Kievan Rus’ was quite an advanced state, at least by non-Byzantine European standards. What made it backward was the Mongol-Tatar invasion, which destroyed two thirds of urban settlements and killed around 70% of the princes and presumably a similar number of their druzhiniki, who’d have otherwise performed the limiting role to their absolute power as happened in western Europe. Muscovy did gather up the rest of the Russian lands in the centralization that was typical for Europe at that time, sometimes allied, sometimes opposed to the Tatars. At least that’s the most orthodox version of events I’ve come across.For Myth 8, might add that income inequality in the US is higher than in Russia.I’ve remarked on this in the Comments and Sources section at the bottom.Myth 6: I think the perception comes from the fact that Russians don’t feel the need to hide their opinions on the subject.True. PC-ism hasn’t yet penetrated deep into Russia.Myth 3: I’m afraid that increased birth rates are a temporary effect of the 80’s baby boom. Once the 90’s generation gets into reproductive age, it will be a disaster. 🙁 It’s not the birth rates that need to increase, but average fertility per woman. It started going up, but only by a tiny amount.True, but I wouldn’t call it a disaster.1. In 2007 the fertility rate was 1.39, compared to 1.40 in Germany and 1.50 in the European Union. Not that big a difference (and according to preliminary data for January 2008 it looks as if this figure will jump up significantly this year).2. If you look closer at the data (http://www.gks.ru/bgd/regl/b07_13/IssWWW.exe/Stg/d01/04-24.htm), it seems that fertility only collapsed amongst women in the 15-25 year old brackets, which is not surprising – it follows a steady Western trend of postponing children until the middle age. I made some quick back of the envelope calculations, using 2006 as the base year and figures from here (http://www.gks.ru/bgd/regl/b07_13/IssWWW.exe/Stg/d01/04-24.htm, http://www.gks.ru/bgd/regl/b07_13/IssWWW.exe/Stg/d01/04-07.htm) and projecting to 2021. If the birth rates amongst the different age groups remains unchanged, then the birth rate will decline from 11.3 today to 7.7 in 2021. However, that is unlikely, since a) birth rates amongst older women have been increasing and b) according to a survey (http://www.gks.ru/free_doc/2006/demogr.htm), the number of children Russians are prepared to have is (1.6-1.9) and the number of children they’d like to have under good economic conditions (2.0-2.6). I think it’s reasonable to expect today’s fertility levels to converge to the above figures, particularly if rapid economic progress continues.So back to the calculation, if until 2021 all age groups continue the fertility trends linearly aboserved in 2000-2006, then the birth rate in 2021 will be 11.3 – i.e., exactlt the same as today.3. What is an on-going disaster is the death rate, which is still at 14.7 compared to 10.0 in the EU and 9.4 in Georgia. Should it remain at this level then any ideas of a demographic turnaround can be dismissed. And it is worrying that the death has fallen considerably less rapidly than the birth rate has risen (in fact, preliminary January 2008 data has seen it rise on the previous January, for some reason). What you need to lower it is some tough and decisive measures at the government level – a new anti-alcohol campaign, blanket ban on cigarette advertising, significant taxes on cigarettes, personally I’d go as far as a fat tax (I’ve written about it here http://darussophile.blogspot.com/2008/01/editorial-annals-of-demographic.html). Instead what they seem to be doing is pouring a lot of money into new treatment centres – not that I’m opposed to that, but some policies (like the ones outlines above) will deliver much bigger results for money spent.Myth 1: Don’t knock Crystal Island! I think it’s a beautiful project. But Russia Tower will be more impressive. It is expected to become world’s second tallest skyscraper once it’s completed in 2010 or 11. After that Dubai tower, whose name I forgot.Burj Dubai. I am a big fan of Russia Tower too. I like Crystal Island aesthetically, but I can’t help but think it’s the mother of all white elephants. IMO it’s only suited for a casino, which it will possibly become a few years after construction.@oleg, anonymous 1,Thank you for the comments.It’s true that a lot of corruption in the US is simply legalized and as such doesn’t appear on the balance sheets of thinktank reports (think of the whole concept of “pork”). That is why measuring corruption by asking ordinary people how much of an affect it has on them personally is IMO a much better measure. (Although admittedly, the US doesn’t perform any worse than Europe by that measure.)@anonymous 2,Thanks for the comment. The article about the US, USSR and collapse gap was very interesting.

  12. Anonymous says:

    A very interesting poll reported today in IHT. It is satisfying to see that most Continetal Europeans do not Support the Anglo-American strategy of dividing Europe to keep it week:http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/03/27/europe/poll.phpAs Vladimir Vladimirovich has pointed out Germany is Europe’s most important partner. Russia should deepen this relationship as a Russian-German axis would be very potent indeed. Indeed a believe there is a good chance to dissolve NATO in the future and form a common European defense structure.DJP

  13. Dr House says:

    dr house. your free market cultist criticism of Russia’s “failed command economy” is truly ignorant. In fact the communist investment in mass transportation was a brilliant strategic move far better than any sprung from the invisible hand of the “free” market. As easily accessible oil becomes ever scarcer(and higher priced) country’s with mass trans will fair much better than those without.1. So the USSR invested in infrastructure development. So what? So did the United States, and the US is far from a command economy. That doesn’t subtract anything from the simple fact that a single entity controlling the means of production cannot grow too much without being subject to inefficiencies and diseconomies of scale. The soviet economy failed, simple as that.2. Mass transit is actually a profitable enough enterprise to be undertaken by the private sector. We haven’t seen this happen in a large scale because driving is still too cheap and there’s not enough demand for it, not to mention that in most places private investment in mass transit is undercut by the State providing mass transit of its own. If the price of oil continues to rise, we’ll see a lot more privately owned mass transit systems in a few years.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Dr HouseIn any Russian city of decent size – say 200,000 or more – you don’t need a car to live. You can get anywhere by mass trans. Also you can use the train to travel between cities in Russia. In the USA a car is required everywhere except Manhattan. Also Russia moves a much higher % of cargo by rail than USA. Rail transport is a fraction of the cost of trucking. Finally Russia is now linking Korea and China to the Trans Siberian Railway. This will allow containers to travel from Shenzen or Seoul to any Point in Europe at a fraction of the time at cost. This will boost Russia’s strategic power to another level – clearly and definetely making it the most important country in the world. All roads lead to Moscow. Russia has had private(and very succesful) mass trans since the fall of Soviet Union. You can reach most points in a Russian city by minibus.Capitalism is a failed and short sighted system. It is a system which is defined by the consumption of resources in a finite resources. It is like a cancer which grows out of control until it kills the host. It was o.k. while resources were cheap but its limitations are now exposed to all those with an open mind and critical eye. DJP

  15. In any Russian city of decent size – say 200,000 or more – you don’t need a car to live. You can get anywhere by mass trans. Also you can use the train to travel between cities in Russia.Do you even fucking live in the USA? I live in Seattle, Washington and I have not needed a car since I got here. I’ve also traveled up to Canada, and stayed a week in Victoria without using a fucking car. We have a bus line and railways that span the entire damn nation and metropolitan transit systems in all major cities.Capitalism is a failed and short sighted system. It is a system which is defined by the consumption of resources in a finite resources.Capitalism is a system based on flexibility and innovation that manipulates scarcity in the most optimal manner possible. Almost all failures seen within it are a result of state intervention. For example, Global Warming would quite possibly not have happened if the US government had not made roads private public (which removed the running cost of driving that would’ve forced people to drive less, move closer to the city, carpool, anything to reduce the cost of their commute and thus the volume of it), or placed a moratorium on building nuclear powerplants (which would’ve cleaned up the World’s dirtiest power grid). Also, if we had kept a specie-backed currency falling general prices would’ve caused profit margins to decrease and real wages to increase, thus bringing about greater equality rather than greater inequality. I can go on and on, but the point, DJP is that you are quite simply wrong.

  16. Fedia Kriukov says:

    Soviet economy failed because the country fell apart. Before the collapse started all economic indicators remained positive, and without the vagaries of the business cycle either. The results of the experiment on relative merits of market vs command economies are thus inconclusive. Even without that, the field was too uneven for a real experiment.

  17. Dr House says:

    Well, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, there have been repeated attempts to make socialism work (And mind you, I have nothing against the voluntarist ones). Nine times out of ten they fail.The USSR had a full century to play around with the economy. They just reached upper-middle-income status and stagnated. By contrast, the Russian Federation has gotten past the collapse brought about by shock therapy, it has climbed back up to even in productivity with the old Soviet Union, and from the looks of it it will climb back to even in salaries and social indicators within a few years. And the difference is that it looks set to keep growing, unlike the USSR which stagnated for thirty years.

  18. Oleg Nevestin says:

    fedia, you’ve got it all backwards. USSR desintegrated BECAUSE of Soviet economy, not the other way around. The economy of Soviet Union was uncompetitive, mismanaged, built on rotten foundation of central planning, produced goods nobody would ever buy if presented with choice, and immune to innovation. I’ve lived in USSR for 28 years. Soviet Union was not a repressive state as Americans love to claim. But it was boring, stale, colorless, lifeless and crooked. Ugly, in one word. Being Russian, I’m happy it’s gone. Good riddance.

  19. Dr House says:

    fedia, you’ve got it all backwards. USSR desintegrated BECAUSE of Soviet economy, not the other way around. The economy of Soviet Union was uncompetitive, mismanaged, built on rotten foundation of central planning, produced goods nobody would ever buy if presented with choice, and immune to innovation. I’ve lived in USSR for 28 years. Soviet Union was not a repressive state as Americans love to claim. But it was boring, stale, colorless, lifeless and crooked. Ugly, in one word. Being Russian, I’m happy it’s gone. Good riddance.QFW ^_^

  20. Wow lots of comments. New record, well done & thx 2 all.@fedia,I’ve got to go with Oleg and House on this one.The Soviet Union, by and large, failed to close the economic gap with the West (despite managing to close the human capital gap). It’s also not strictly true that “all economic indicators remained positive”. According to Madisson’s data, GDP per capita stagnated from mid-70’s to 1989, and declined by 3.1% and 6.8% in 1990 and 1991, respectively. The genesis of Soviet economic collapse preceded political.

  21. Brother Karamazov says:

    First, some more aggressive planning would certainly help in the market economics as well. Just look at the development of the credit crisis. The government is already pumping billions of taxpayers money into the system, and what those knights of market business do to help? As usual, they are full of thoughts (and actions!) on how to intercept those governmental money and get away with this.Second, in spite of considerable achievements of the scientific economics planning in the USSR, very little of its recommendations went into practice. Instead, they were substituted by lousy guesses of party apparatchiks. It is these lousy guesses which are actually known as the soviet planning. Nobody knows what would be the effect of the truly scientific planning if the authoritarian governing system in the USSR would be implemented more efficiently.On the other hand, optimization of the soviet economics was compared with the optimization of motion of an ideal sphere on an ideal plane. Without personal stimuli it is all the same and this seems to be the real economical problem of the USSR. However, this could be sorted out very easily by departing from ugly dogmas of Stalin’s vision of socialism.On yet another hand, the grave problem of the soviet economics was the unsustainable military expenditures, which the USSR was forced to commit to oppose combined potential of enemies. The latter were outperforming the USSR in terms of GDP as at least 10 to 1, meaning that the USSR had to spend almost all of its income on military in order to be equal. The estimations were carried out by Trapeznikov, if I remember correct, in the early 80’s and predicted equalizing of the total income and military expenditures by the mid of 80’s. Thus, the USSR got perestroika!In conclusion, considering USSR as an example of planning and/or authoritarian economics is of pretty limited value. Too many things depend on details of implementation and on the surrounding environment. Indeed, both were far from perfect in case of the USSR.

  22. Oleg Nevestin says:

    Bro karamazov, I hope you’ll continue your social experimentation on real people, but this time please do it in the Anglo-Saxon world…just give me advance warning so that I could skip the town before you start.

  23. Fedia Kriukov says:

    Oleg & Stalker, with the argument you’re making your claims should be that the USSR collapsed because of psychology, not because of economy. The Soviet economy was actually getting stronger every year, with all indicators remaining positive, even if the growth was slowing down compared to the 60’s. Not familiar with Madisson, but I think he’s overdramatizing. 1990 and 1991 are already the beginning of the physical collapse of the country (when internal borders were being set up), so they don’t apply.The key difference, the one you have pointed out, is that people’s expectations were higher than what the economy actually provided. There was this false sense of entitlement arising from ridiculous gov’t propaganda. People honestly thought that for some reason they deserved the lifestyle on par with richest countries. Or the strange opinion about “ugliness” of Soviet life. Oleg, you are entitled to your opinion, but surely you’re aware that it is an extreme minority opinion. Soviet nostalgia is very hot in Russia, and that wouldn’t be the case if people thought Soviet aesthetics to be “ugly”. In any case, this is all psychology.My real point is that there were plenty of objective factors not related to real or imagined mismanagement of the Soviet economy that made the Soviet consumer poorer by comparison.In no particular order:1) Climate: too cold and too unstable2) Size: poor transportation infrastructure, especially if you add climate3) Inferior starting position: by the beginning of the 20th century Russia was behind most western industrialized nations, mostly as a result of (1) and (2)4) Forced autarky: it wasn’t USSR’s choice to be left out of global trade, but the result of the West’s hostility5) Non-productive military expenditures, which once again weren’t the country’s own choice, but the necessity of western actual (1941) or potential (pre-war and post-war) aggression.6) War devastation, both economic and demographic.Can you guarantee that without engaging in a socialist experiment, Russia would’ve been ahead economically of where USSR turned out in 1991? I seriously doubt it, even if we disregard the fact that Russia would’ve ceased to exist in 1941. Poland, you might recall, was the most industrialized part of the Russian Empire, but by 1939 Poland was economically backward compared to the USSR. The Polish level of economic development was probably the best thing that could’ve been expected from non-Soviet Russia.Incidentally, for another view on why it wasn’t the economy that cause the Soviet collapse, see an unpublished paper by Mark Harrison here.

  24. Brother Karamazov says:

    @Oleg NevestinUnfortunately, I did not get a chance to do a real experiment so far, just computer modeling. Do you think NSF will be willing to finance the real one, say somewhere in Africa if you wish?

  25. Oleg Nevestin says:

    fedia, for anyone who claims that cold climate is an impediment to being rich, I have two words: Canada and Finland. Now, granted, if they were saddled with military expenditures of 20% of national income, things may have been different. Still, cold climate doesn’t explain why USSR couldn’t build decent roads even on its southern flank, was polluted like hell, couldn’t produce pants and shoes except of the most embarassing variety, couldn’t harvest enough grain to feed itself despite having plenty of arable land, couldn’t design architecturally appealing buildings, was producing the most pathetic cars(ZAZ, anyone?) ever known to men, and had the most painful dentistry after torture chambers of Gestapo( adding insult to injury those fillings would drop out within a year or less). I don’t even compare South Korea with the North One, or East Germany with the Western part. Neither climate nor excessive military spending are factors in Trabant not measuring up to BMW. fedia, I don’t know how old you are, but something tells me that maybe you are just too young to remember those days. Present-day nostalgia is part willful ignorance, part poor information(particularly amongst youngsters), part protest against excessive demonisation, part desire to be young again, part legitimate wish to be respected in the world, and part just plain stupidity (yes, there are plenty of stupid people in Russia). I’m sure not many are nostalgic for Soviet shopping experience, kleptocracy, inability to go abroad, get foreign currency, 10-20years wait for phone line installation, ugly haircut after spending one hour in line, totally inept propaganda, destroyed countryside, hypocricy, and thievery. The overwhelming sickness of post-Soviet space is the direct consequence of what USSR had become in the late 1980s. Those things didn’t materialize out of thin air. As for some mythical “improving indicators”, I honestly don’t know, fedia, what you are talking about. I personally haven’t seen any, and felt none at the time. Countries with improving indicators simply don’t fall apart like a house of cards, with people running away from those kinds of improvements as if from a plague. In the end all I can say is that you can love USSR all you want, but that monumental fuck-up ain’t coming back any time soon(Russia simply has no people to sacrifice anymore). And I’ll continue to hate and despise it, while admitting that some things about it were certainly beneficial in 1941(ability to mobilize for total war, although I agree with stalker that without Lenin there wouldn’t be Hitler))and remain beneficial(nukes and literacy)for Russia of today.

  26. @fedia,Maddison is quite a well known figure in comparative economic history, as I gather. In any case he’s certainly compiled the most comprehensive historical-statistical database I’ve found to date. (http://www.ggdc.net/maddison/Historical_Statistics/horizontal-file_03-2007.xls)Now let’s take a look at Soviet economic performance according to that source. OK, let’s even exclude 1990 and 1991, and consider GDP (PPP) per capita growth in the following periods (Russian Empire, USSR, RF) and (USA; Japan) in brackets (data for 1990-2006 from WB). 1900-1913 = 1.6%; (2.0%; 1.3%)1928-1940 = 3.8%; (0.5%; 3.1%)1947-1960 = 4.9%; (1.9%; 7.6%)1960-1970 = 3.5%; (2.9%; 9.3%)1970-1980 = 1.4%; (2.1%; 3.3%)1980-1989 = 1.1% (0.7% if -1990); (2.5%/2.2%; 3.3%/3.4%)1990-2000 = -3.8%; (2.0%; 1.0%)2000-2006 = 6.7%; (1.6%; 1.5%)So historically speaking, Soviet per capita growth was far from impressive. While growth just about kept pace with the US (the “leader” country) during 1928-1975 (due to massive labor and capital infusions), it dipped to below late-Tsarist levels towards the end as the opportunities for achieving easy output growth by transferring people from agriculture to industry was exhausted and growth had to come from technological adaptation. This is despite the fact that technological progress has made “catch-up” much easier and quicker since last century. The USSR might have maintained steady growth, but it was very slow and failed to translate into a healthy consumer economy.This becomes even worse when you compare this to other countries. The USSR failed to close the gap between the US, being 28% in 1913, 35% in 1960, 37% in 1970, 35% in 1980 and 31% in 1989. Secondly, although Russia was ahead of Japan in 1913 (107%), it had dropped to just 40% by 1989.People honestly thought that for some reason they deserved the lifestyle on par with richest countries.I’d think that that is a reasonable enough feeling, considering that’s what Marxism-Leninism based their political legitimacy on.1) Climate: too cold and too unstable2) Size: poor transportation infrastructure, especially if you add climateThis is a set, constant factor, which in any case would hinder an agricultural economy (Tsarist Russia) more than an industrial one (late USSR). In any case Finland and Canada both suffer from the exact same constraints and this has not prevented the former from attaining and the latter keeping its First World status.3) Inferior starting position: by the beginning of the 20th century Russia was behind most western industrialized nations, mostly as a result of (1) and (2)And it failed to improve on it relatively, despite improving its human capital to First World levels and the power of modern communications technology.4) Forced autarky: it wasn’t USSR’s choice to be left out of global trade, but the result of the West’s hostility5) Non-productive military expenditures, which once again weren’t the country’s own choice, but the necessity of western actual (1941) or potential (pre-war and post-war) aggression.6) War devastation, both economic and demographic.There are numerous caveats to all these points, and in any case I dob’t think any of them are truly crucial to the issue at hand.Can you guarantee that without engaging in a socialist experiment, Russia would’ve been ahead economically of where USSR turned out in 1991?…The Polish level of economic development was probably the best thing that could’ve been expected from non-Soviet Russia.I can’t guarantee it, but considering that by 1913, a) the literacy rate stood at 40% and primary schooling had become virtually universal and b) the country had acquired Europe’s fastest trend rate of growth, absolutely as well as per head, I think it would be reasonable to expect Russia to have followed a Japanese-like trajectory or better.The era of missed opportunities really occured in the 1950-1990 period. Poland is hardly instructive in this case since it too acquired a planned economy. Although speaking of it, even today I wouldn’t mind swapping development indicators. :)Interesting paper. Still, the fact remains that the goal of perestroika was initially not to dismantle the USSR (that was a side-effect, as the paper shows), but to fix the very serious problems in the economy that were already being recognized by planners as early as the mid-70’s.

  27. Oleg Nevestin says:

    Bro karamazov, Africa is so thoroughly screwed up today, that almost anything short of industrial slaughter would probably constitute an improvement. So, yeah, go crazy. But for me personally, UK or let’s say Canada would be far more fun to watch. It would also fit Marxist dogma way more easily, since communism is supposed to grow organically out of the rotten corpse of dying supercapitalism.

  28. Fedia Kriukov says:

    Oleg, you actually unwittingly illustrated my previous point about unjustified (I said “false”, but I meant “unjustified”) sense of entitlement present in much of the Soviet population. You ask why so many goods and services were of poor quality? But in response I have to ask: why do you think you were entitled to better? There is this general principle of “you get what you pay for.” You take a country with the same level of economic development as USSR expressed as GDP per capita, factor out non-consumer gov’t expenditures (i.e. military), and then compare.I’m going to go out on a limb and claim that in that comparison USSR would win. The difference was mostly psychological. USSR had many shoddy goods and services that were, nevertheless, universally available. So you would get your inferior product and think: “OK, I got this crap, I want better quality but it’s not to be found anywhere, so it’s the fault of gov’t and the current system.” In a market economy higher quality products would be available, but more likely than not most people wouldn’t be able to afford them (same as in the USSR, there was a parallel black market with much higher prices, or even legitimate farmers’ market). So similar to the USSR, they would buy crap for cheaper, or not buy anything at all, but they would think: “OK, I got this crap, but I can’t afford anything better, so it’s my fault.” Psychology.I’m not willing to take your explanation of Soviet nostalgia as “willful ignorance, part poor information(particularly amongst youngsters), part protest against excessive demonisation, part desire to be young again, part legitimate wish to be respected in the world, and part just plain stupidity” seriously. Like I mentioned, yours is the minority opinion. I have more respect for the majority opinion, even if my own Soviet experience was significantly more limited than yours.In general, I have to point out that you need to separate your complaints about the quality of Soviet products from actual economic indicators. You might want to argue that had it not been for command economy, Russia’s GDP per capita would’ve been higher than where it is. We can discuss it with numbers, etc. But you cannot substitute the discussion on the size of the economy with a discussion on the quality of its products. Mixing up two unrelated topics provides for poor analysis.

  29. Brother Karamazov says:

    That is exactly the point Oleg, they will not be worse, while the rest would get a clean scientific experiment to resolve the long standing issue at last. Why people are so sceptical about this idea?

  30. Fedia Kriukov says:

    Stalker:Regardless of whether Soviet economic growth was impressive or not, my original point was that economic indicators remained positive until the physical collapse of the country started. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that it was not the economic collapse that caused the collapse of the USSR, but the collapse of the USSR that caused the economic collapse. “Economic collapse” being defined as negative GDP growth, and not “poor quality of goods and services” as Oleg believes.I’m glad to see that even Maddison’s data confirm it. :)As for your other points:1) I’m not a Marxist or a Leninist, therefore if Marxism-Leninism created unjustified sense of entitlement in the Soviet people, I can safely say that that ideology was not correct.2) Climate would hinder an agricultural economy more, but USSR was an agricultural economy until probably the 50s. It becomes even more important for an autarky, which cannot readily purchase agricultural products in a global market in case of poor harvest, leading to actual starvation, regardless of the level of industrial output (as happend in 1932-33 and 1946).The commonly bandied about case of Finland and Canada does not illustrate anything. People don’t live as far north in those two countries as in Russia. Plus the population there is concentrated on the coasts, while in most of Russia sharply continental (hence harsher) climate is prevalent. Average temperature in February in SW of Finland is -3 to -6C (coldest month), with 90% of population living int he southern half of the country. In Moscow it is -10 to -11C in January, and I doubt that 90% of Russia’s population live south of Moscow’s latitude. Finally, their population is smaller compared to the amount of arable land they have. In Russia, only the Northern Caucasus is a truly productive agricultural region. Most people live in so-called “grain deficit” areas — where even in theory enough grain cannot be grown in order to feed the population of that region. In the USSR, of course, there was southern Ukraine, another productive region. But there was also Central Asia, a grain deficit region. Today Russia still consumes more agricultural products than it produces, but there is no threat of starvation because Russia is not an autarky anymore.Finland is also a bad example simply because it achieved its relative wealth for two reasons that have nothing to do with our present discussion: a) preferential economic treatment from the USSR; b) information revolution (rather recent). In 1970s Finland was still a pretty poor country with high emigration rate. But until that point the Soviet economy was growing quite dynamically.3) Failure of the USSR to improve on its relative position is only true after 1960s. Moreover, this line of discussion is pointless because other factors not related to the nature of the economic system were there to hinder the growth of the Soviet economy. I continue to maintain that regardless of the nature of the economy, there were objective factors for why the Soviet economy would fall behind.4) Polish example: why is it not instructive? My point is simple: in 1913 Poland was economically the most advanced part of the Russian Empire. In 1939 Poland was behind USSR in economic development. Does that indicate that command economy failed? Or the opposite?And which development indicators would you like to swap with Poland, out of curiosity? The ones that arose out of its planned economy experience, or the ones that were there to begin with? But it’s a good thing you don’t want to swap some economic indicators, such as Poland’s 15% unemployment rate. :)Why would you expect Russia to follow Japanese trajectory, if Japan was superior in a) climate; b) transportation infrastructure (sea transport is the cheapest one); c) education (Japan had high literacy rate even in middle ages); d) numerous other economic advantages that came from being America’s bitch in the post-war period (no military expenditures, the fact that the Japanese “economic miracle” started from American spending on the Korean War, which revived the Japanese industry); e) integration into the world economy.

  31. Oleg Nevestin says:

    fedia, I don’t know how one can insist on some unspecified improving economic indicators, while not denying that the bulk of the final output was consisting of unusable crap. I don’t also understand how you can attach any significance to this phony Soviet “nostalgia”, when people have actually given Commies only 12% of the votes (getting number from the memory, could be off by percent or two) in the latest elections. I guess Russians are only nostalgic for as long as they are sure that USSR is gone for good. It seems to me that the only things that people are truly nostalgic about are Soviet music and Soviet movies. Then I’m nostalgic too, I guess. And your psychology analysis completely escaped me. Are you saying that just because not everyone in the West was driving Maseratis and Aston-Martins at the time, then that somehow improves Soviet economic performance? But let’s face it – even the crappiest Japanese electronics were head and shoulders above the fanciest piece of garbage that USSR had produced. Same with almost any category of consumer goods. And how could people with superb skills and education (I make more than 90% of Americans, and I’m far from the smartest guy) not feel entitled to something better than making 50 dollars a month (that was my pay in 1989)? And how they shouldn’t have blamed for this their messed-up dysfunctional government, when it was this very government that created the system that precluded them from having a better life? I don’t get it. As for “universally available” Soviet services, there was no such thing. You couldn’t get a restaurant reservation without a bribe. You couldn’t get a hotel room. You needed connections to buy airplane ticket. Pharmaceuticals. Good food. Decent doctor instead of your friendly neighborhood butcher. It was all available “po blatu”. For those unaware what it means – YOU SIMPLY NEEDED TO KNOW PEOPLE WHO KNEW OTHER PEOPLE… fedia, if you want to defend something that you have only the vaguest idea about, sure you can do that. But I’ll tell you that if there was another Commie takeover in the works, it wouldn’t go as smoothly as in 1917. The very people who profess some Soviet nostalgia from time to time would line this scum up and deal with them the Commie way. Bullet to the back of the head, then back to shopping. BTW, in USSR you wouldn’t have a computer and the Internet connection. You may have felt entitled to it, but you couldn’t afford it. And that’s no psychology. Just a sad reality.

  32. Oleg Nevestin says:

    fedia, this agricultural back and forth is ridiculous. USSR was importing up to 30 million tons of grain per annum, while Russia today is exporting 8-10 million tons. So the argument about too little suitable land and too much unsuitable weather has got to be bogus. Even if Russia is importing vine, bananas and avocados today (I guess that’s what you mean by not being self-sufficient), there is no way to obscure the fact that Soviet collective farms were always a failure, and that market economy is vastly superior to Soviet boondogle. Do they send you guys to work in potato fields still? In USSR it was normal practice. Students, soldiers, everybody had to work in the farms for couple weeks a year. And of course, fedia, in 50s USSR was not an agricultural country anymore. Not even to mention the fact, that the whole discussion was about late 80s-early 90s, i.e. the time of Soviet Union’s untimely demise. Nice try, though.

  33. @fedia,Economic collapse followed political decisions. Point conceded.About climate and the economyHave you read the Andrei Parshev’s book Pochemu Rossija ne Amerika (Why Russia isn’t America)? Because these arguments parallel it.It is an attractive thesis, but superficial and theoretically unconvincing, its aim being to make excuses for Soviet malperformance. Take a look at the Russian language wiki for the book – it contains links to many criticisms of the book.Yes, Russia does suffer from high transport, construction and energy costs. But this is not to say that these factors are unconquerable. Japan, unlike Russia, has practically no hydrocarbons or mineral resources and is prone to earthquakes. Hokkaido is climatically similar to Sakhalin. This is not to mention tropical countries like Singapore or Malaysia, which were afflicted with debilitating diseases before industrialization and whose energies were sapped by excessive heat and moisture before the era of air conditioning.Most of what the Soviet Union did was transfer the bulk of the population from agricultural to industrial work; otherwise, industry as a whole remained antiquated, inefficient, not innovative, and when previously plentiful cheap energy inputs began to sharply decline from the 1970’s on, the economy found itself in real trouble.The fact also remains that Finland did enter the information era, unlike the USSR (despite the latter’s large numbers of well-educated computer scientists and their currently largely ignored pioneering work). In fact, this is largely the reason why Western countries didn’t experience as much stagnation in growth as the USSR following the oil shocks of the 1970’s. And, let me add, services and information products are much less influenced by climate than industry, which in turn is influenced by climate much less than agriculture.The main point, perhaps, is why did Soviet GDP per head growth fall to 1.1% from 1980-1989; virtually identical to Tsarist growth of 0.9% from 1870-1900?3) Failure of the USSR to improve on its relative position is only true after 1960s.It not only failed to improve, it slipped back to a point where in 1989 the gap was similar to the one that existed in 1913.4) Polish example: why is it not instructive? My point is simple: in 1913 Poland was economically the most advanced part of the Russian Empire. In 1939 Poland was behind USSR in economic development. Does that indicate that command economy failed? Or the opposite?I can’t comment much on this, since I don’t know the details of Poland’s interbellum economic structure. But 1), the differences weren’t that big: in 1913, Poland was ahead (117%), in 1929 it was significantly ahead (153%), in 1938 it was about equal (101%). Steel, coal and tank production are hardly the end be all of economic might; by measures of consumption, Poland would undoubtedly have been better off (not that that would help them against Nazi Germany, but still), 2) Poland was hit hard by the Great Depression – by the late 1930’s it was recovering fast.And which development indicators would you like to swap with Poland, out of curiosity?Well, let’s see – its life expectancy, mortality rates, Gini index, HIV infection rates, inflation, most consumer stats (automobile ownership, Internet penetration, etc), even, as of now, its GDP per head (although I’d stick with Russia’s growth). :)Unemployment, AFAIK, is due more to its restrictive labor laws than any macroeconomic failing. Why would you expect Russia to follow Japanese trajectory, if Japan was superior in a) climate; b) transportation infrastructure (sea transport is the cheapest one); c) education (Japan had high literacy rate even in middle ages); d) numerous other economic advantages that came from being America’s bitch in the post-war period (no military expenditures, the fact that the Japanese “economic miracle” started from American spending on the Korean War, which revived the Japanese industry); e) integration into the world economy.Because that, roughly, was what was happening from 1868-1913 (although in fact it was Japan who was following then).a,b) Russia is cold and big. Japan is shaky and resource-poor.c) that is a good and valid point. Nonetheless, by 1913 according to historical stats, primary school enrolment rates had surpassed 80%. Mass schooling was not a Soviet development, their propaganda to the contrary.d) useful, but far from crucial, advantages. South Korea was a temporary affair; high military expenditures do not necessarily preclude economic convergence with leading countries (see Israel). Talking of Korea, btw, illustrates even better the failure of the Soviet economy (it’s per income overtook the Soviet around 1990, up from devastated Third World levels in 1950).e) Russia was also integrated into the world economy in 1913.

  34. Fedia Kriukov says:

    Oleg, I’m sorry, I don’t feel like engaging in a “discussion” at this level. Once relative judgments turn into absolutes (e.g. “the bulk of the final output was consisting of unusable crap”), all logic flies out the window and it becomes a simple exercise in propaganda. I get too much of that from western media already.Next time, if you want my response, please at least make an attempt to understand what I’m writing. I know that you did not understand simply because my response to your latest post would have to be exactly the same as my response to your previous post. For starters, learn to differentiate objective GDP per capita from subjective quality.As an illustration of your obvious misunderstanding, how can you reply to my (correct) point that Russia consumes more agricultural products than it produces by comparing Soviet import and Russian export of grain? Is grain the only agricultural product? As hint, why don’t you look up Russia’s meat production, and then look up how much grain is needed to produce meat. Maybe that will give you a clue as to why Russia is now a grain exporter, despite the fact that it consumes more food than it produces.

  35. Brother Karamazov says:

    A few more mythsMyth: All soviet space programmes have been developed by German prisoners of war, who are still kept in labour camps in Siberia.Fact: All German leading hi-tech professionals, including rocket scientists, surrendered to Americans. Many of them were working in the USA; for some time as half-prisoners, e.g. Wernher von Brown’s team (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wernher_von_Braun). Wernher von Brown was placed in charge of American space programmes in the end of 50s in order to close the gap with the soviets. He successfully completed the task by landing Americans on the Moon. In contrast, soviet space research was lead by ethnic Russian Sergei Korolev (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergey_Korolyov). Boris Raushenbakh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Rauschenbach), the highest ranked ethnic German in the soviet rocket program, was born to an ethnic German family settled in Russia well before the revolution. He grown up and was educated entirely in the USSR. He was imprisoned in a soviet labour camp in the very beginning of his professional career during the war alongside with many other ethnic Germans who lived in the USSR, similar to the detention of ethnic Japanese in the USA.Myth: Soviet supersonic passenger Tupolev 144 was copied from Concord using blueprints stolen by KGB.Fact: The only evidence of the espionage is the arrest of an Aeroflot’s representative in Paris who was in possession of detailed plans of a few subsystems of Concorde. Analysis shows, that those documents were early development plans, which would not allow rebuilding an aircraft similar to Concord. Further, the internal designs of the planes are entirely different excluding any chances of one copying another (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu-144). Even some similarity in the airframe configuration is deceptive, because it is more or less uniquely dictated by the flight parameters, see e.g. American XB-70 Valkyrie. Interestingly enough that even the wing configurations of two aircrafts are different: Concord got very complicated main wings versus relatively simple main wings assisted with canards (small wings near the aircraft nose) of the Tupolev 144 – the most popular configuration of modern supersonic aircrafts. At best, Tu-144 designers new in which direction the Concord was going but worked in their own way anyway. Myth: Soviet heavy bomber Tupolev 4 was copied from Boing 29 Superfortress.Fact: This is not a myth, this is true. Three damaged B-29, which landed in the USSR after unsuccessful raids to Japan, were kept by the USSR legitimately under conditions of neutrality with Japan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu-4). The reverse-engineering was provoked by American separate peace treaty deal.

  36. Fedia Kriukov says:

    Stalker:Of course I’ve read Parshev’s book.That book has two main points: a) that Russia’s climate prevents Russia from being as rich as countries with better climate; b) that the only solution is an autarky.Point (b) is Parshev’s own and is obviously ridiculous to anyone who has studied economics.Point (a) Parshev likely plagiarized from Richard Pipes’s “Russia Under the Old Regime” (see Chapter 1). Pipes, in turn, did not invent anything, but simply repeated what has been talked about in Russia since the 19th c. I believe this point is valid. It is less valid than in the past, after the information revolution. I really hope that is the case, for Russia’s future. But it is extremely important in trying to understand Russia’s history and why it was always economically lagging behind Europe.The most important point that I’m making is that regardless of any valid criticisms of the command economy, in practice we never had the ability to compare its performance against a market economy under substantially similar conditions. The command economy was always disadvantaged by independent factors. Thus, the results of the “experiment” are inconclusive.I do believe that in theory market economy should outperform command economy under most (but not all) conditions. However, theory is dead without experimental confirmation, which we did not get. Therefore, I strongly reject: a) substitution of theoretical expectations for practical outcome (e.g., if Soviet economy underperformed, then the reason must’ve been specifically the shortcomings of the command economy) when experimental data is so inconclusive; b) reductionist misinterpretation of experimental data, ideological singling out of specific factors potentially contributing to Soviet underperformance, and ignoring all other factors that went into the equation.Continuing with Russia-Japan comparison, I have to point out that:a) Cold climate every single year is more expensive than an earthquake once in a while.b) Hokkaido has better climate than Sakhalin, but it’s immaterial since both of these islands are sparsely populated and atypical of the countries they represent.c) Lack of hydrocarbons in Japan would’ve been material only if Japan were an autarky. Only USSR was an autarky.d) The Korean War was just a start for the Japanese economy. The rest was accomplished by other favorable conditions. Which USSR did not have, and did not even have the Korean War income, only expenditures.e) South Korea has the same competitive advantages over USSR that Japan does.f) Israel is a bad example because it is another country heavily subsidized by the US. USSR, on the other hand, was the one providing subsidies.Also I have to point that there is a logical problem with your counterargument. When I say USSR had bad climate, you point out that Finland and Canada also have bad climate. When I say USSR had very high military expenditures, you point to Israel. The problem here is that you use a different country to illustrate each economic disadvatage. But USSR had ALL of them, not just one. The only country that can serve as a counterexample would be the one that has an entire set of disadvantages as severe as what the USSR had (climate, military, forced autarky, etc). However, no such country ever existed.And returning to Poland, we were specifically discussing total economic output, not consumption. In total economic output USSR pulled ahead by the outbreak of the war, despite starting from significantly disadvantaged conditions. Consumption in Poland varied too. I can point you to a memoir of an officer who participated in the liberation of West Ukraine in 1939, he was actually quite disappointed by the poor conditions in Polish occupied Ukraine (of course, he lived in Moscow before the war, so that might’ve explained it).

  37. Fedia Kriukov says:

    Speaking of Tu-144 vs. Concorde: it take a lot of creativity to imagine that a/c that flew first (31 Dec 1968) was copied off the one that flew later (2 March 1969). If anything, Concorde was a copy of Tu-144. 🙂

  38. Brother Karamazov says:

    Not really, fedia. Unfortunately, a hasty design style of Tu-144 is too obvious to specialists. The work was probably “accelerated” by the CPSU at the expense of quality and in the interests of propaganda. As a result, it was not as reliable as the Concorde and was in regular service for 2.5 years only versus 27 for Concorde.

  39. stalker says:

    @karamazov,Great myths! I’ll put up the Myth That Germans Ran Soviet Space Program up, it annoys me like hell as well.@fedia,I agree that climate has profoundy influenced Russia’s early economic history. (In fact, this discussion predates even Kluchevsky’s 19th C quip about Russian laziness interrupted by bursts of activity. Adam Smith may well have been the first geographical determinist. Quoted from the Wealth of Nations, …all that part of Asia which lies any considerable way north of the Euxine and Caspian seas, the ancient Scythia, the modern Tartary and Siberia, seem in all ages of the world to have been in the same barbarous and uncivilised state in which we find them at present. The Sea of Tartary is the frozen ocean which admits of no navigation, and though some of the greatest rivers in the world run through that country, they are at too great a distance from one another to carry commerce and communication through the greater part of it.)The crux of my argument is that whatever climatic/geographical disadvantages Russia suffered from in during Soviet times, she suffered in Tsarist times. However, during the twentieth century, the share of the Russian labor force in agriculture fell from 80% to 10%. Agriculture is much more affected by climatic factors than either industry or services. Secondly, in transport railways have greatly reduced the relative advantages of having access to sea traffic (something noted more than 100 yrs ago by Mackinder). Thirdly, telephone lines and eventually the Internet have made distances much less of an issue than they were before in communications. In general conditions have become much easier for rapid catchup in the last fifty yrs than they were in 1900.So what did you have? Russia’s relative disadvantages to the West all decreased, as shown by the 3 points above. Its human capital also reached Western levels by late Soviet times. Yet relatively to the West, it was practically no better off in 1989 than in 1913.Thus, the results of the “experiment” are inconclusive.That at least is true. No time machine has yet been invented.For the rest, I think, it will be better for us to agree to disagree instead of engaging in another round of statistical bombardments.

  40. poemless says:

    Nice “Note.” 🙂 But, uhm, anyone who writes anything marginally intelligent (there aren’t that many, actually) regarding Russia eventually gets mentioned by me. It’s not such a big deal. Though, to be honest, it’s important to celebrate the small victories, isn’t it? I’m going to go celebrate your mention of ET’s mention of you.

  41. stalker says:

    Unfortunately, Russophiles are not a thriving breed, poemless. They need all the help/traffic/links they can get.

  42. White Crow says:

    Stalker, a general comment: it is unfortunate that too many people think the US has a free market economy and base all their comparisons between Socialism and the Free Market on the contrast between the USSR and the US. The US is NOT a Free Market Society, not by a long shot. There is an awful lot of socialism happening there: the suburban sprawl of the US cities, for example, is the result of state funded road systems that cater to a particular political interest group. In a Free Market society, there would be almost no sprawl – the majority of people would live in towns and urban centers, since living outside them requires massive state subsidies into the road and general infrastructure system. The infamous pork-barrel system of the US is another example – in a Free Market society, there would be no pork barrels since the federal government would have nothing to distribute. From a libertarian perspective, the Soviet and US political system differ by degrees, not type. It upsets me when the idea of the Free Market is tarnished by the reference to the capital-socialism in the US as an example of the Free Market. What you have in the US is the widespread system of privatizing gains and socializing losses. The current sub-prime and general credit crisis is a superb example for this: in a free market system, the banks would be allowed to crash, with no harm done to the general economy. In a Free Market system there would be no central bank, which is really just a state-franchised monopoly.Love your blog.

  43. Kyle & Svet Keeton says:

    Hey Stalker,Very good article and blog. I have spent some time looking over your blog and like what I see. I agree with your 10 Myths. Except, Russia is Mordor: You sure that it is not? You seemed to have doubts yourself: “Not as far as I know, anyway.” & “Although they might have a point about Moscow…” I live in Moscow and would swear that I have seen those Orcs wandering the streets at night…Good Job :)Kyle & Svet

  44. В тогдашней России удалось адаптировать варяжскую технологию обработки болотной руды к более высококачественной руде Средней Азии. Технология металлургического производства при этом изменилась разительно. При раскопках – русское происхождение мечей и брони теперь можно определить буквально на глаз, – настолько качество и структура полученного железа отличалась от работы кузнецов Скандинавии и Средней Азии. Как я уже говорил, – столь резкое изменение технологии всегда говорит о том, что общество, пошедшее на такой шаг, было в положении безвыходном. Та же Волжская Булгария, будучи порождением ханов из Средней Азии, – не имела нужды что-то менять. Её технологии производства сталей были такими же, как и в Средней Азии. Великий Новгород, будучи порождением датско-ганзейских сообществ – тоже не имел нужды что-то менять. Когда Москва захватила его, московские мастера были потрясены тем, что в Новгороде при выплавке железа все еще использовались допотопные варяжские технологии.
    Главной и важнейшей особенностью технологического развития наших предков было то, что они оказались в условиях, когда прежние технологии не работали, – были неприменимы в возникающих обстоятельствах. И тогда они принялись изменять технологию – двигаться в ногу со временем. Это было очень важной ступенью в социальном развитии русского общества. История говорит, что только те общества, которые приучились изменять технологии собственных производств, вырастили нынешние крупные государства. Те же общества, которые не смогли, а на деле – не научились изменять образ жизни, – были впоследствии уничтожены.
    Так в XI веке железо русского производства легко вытеснило с азиатских рынков – как продукцию местных умельцев, так и сталь, полученную в Волжской Булгарии. Просто технология производства в тогдашней России давала более качественный продукт, чем технологии среднеазиатского происхождения. С той поры Россия начинает контролировать весь рынок оружия в Средней Азии, а «русское» там становится символом качества. «РосОборонПром» стоит на плечах – воистину великих предков. Россия с тех самых пор была одним из крупнейших экспортеров оружия в мире, а в Средней Азии мы были основными производителями и поставщиками оружия, начиная с конца XI века – просто ВСЕГДА.
    В начале XIII века русские оружейные мастера шибко дивились, когда азиатские купцы стали просить делать сабли с характерным изгибом. До появления воинов, вооруженных этими самыми кривыми саблями было еще лет 20. Правда, Нашествие было выиграно скорее не саблями, но двойными композитными луками с обратной кривизной, а так же использованием новых клеев в композитах. При этом в технологическом смысле русское оружие – могло и отставать от Европы. В приведенном примере с луками, то и – от Азии. Это не мешало его хорошо продавать.
    Вообще, – взаимоотношения Орды, Империи Тамерлана и вообще Степи и Русских княжеств очень тонки и многогранны. Если не знать, что Россия (именно Россия – не Киевская Русь!) еще до Нашествия стала основным поставщиком оружия в тот регион – становится не понятно, – почему монголы раскрошили в пух практически все княжества – кроме тех земель, которые зовутся теперь «коренною Россией». Дело в оружии. Никто в здравом уме не станет крушить своего основного производителя. Гитлеровские бомбардировщики не имели обыкновения разгружаться ни на чешские заводы Шкода, ни – голландские фабрики Филлипс. Это было – не принято.
    Равно как становится понятнее прилюдное братание Бату-хана с Ярославом Великим, или того же Бату и Берке/Татара с Благоверным Александром Ярославичем Невским. Нельзя бомбить собственные заводы, не стоит чересчур гневить своих основных потребителей. Самое страшное нашествие на Русь, это вовсе не походы Бату, а «дюденева рать», когда напали крымчаки – не связанные с тогдашней Россией производственными цепочками. Самым страшным предполагаемым нашествием на Москву ожидалось нашествие Тамерлана в 1395 году, – потому что к тому времени в России научились уже добывать железо из бурого железняка и надобность в поставках руды из Средней Азии – отпала. Сама Куликовская битва 1380 года стала возможна лишь после того, как в России источником руды стали местные железняки.
    Тут-то мы и приходим к большему пониманию о «разделении труда» между социумами, и «комплементарности» – ситуации, когда социумы настолько разные, что преимущества одного почти точно соответствуют недостаткам другого и – наоборот.
    Раз уж мы заговорили о резолюции Уолсингема XVI-го века, в котором тот выказал его тогдашнее понимание – чем именно Россия отлична от Верхней Вольты, выяснится, что мы – нынешние знаем это – не хуже него. Страна покоится на океане нефти и газовом пузыре, в любом другом обществе давно бы уже плюнули и ножки свесили, а тут все как один:
    Либерасты: «Бюрократия не дает развиваться частной инициативе, душит мелкого предпринимателя, дерет с нас чудовищные налоги. Долой все препоны – НАДО РАЗВИВАТЬ ПРОИЗВОДСТВО!»
    Ура-патриоты: «Буржуи все развалили, общество на краю демографической пропасти, в умах культурная деградация, близится социальная катастрофа. НАДО РАЗВИВАТЬ ПРОИЗВОДСТВО!»
    Власть: «Все в порядке. Мы все контролируем. Выстроена вертикаль Власти. За нас – «Единую Россию» в Мордовии и Башкирии проголосовало 105% населения. Опираясь на столь массовую поддержку мы дадим отпор вражьей гадине, которая не дает нам выстроить Четвертое – Золотое – Транспортное Кольцо вокруг Москвы, и изваять Кукурузный Початок в Санкт-Петербурге. Но нас им не запугать! НАДО РАЗВИВАТЬ ПРОИЗВОДСТВО!»

    При всем многоголосии, раздающемся на просторах нашей необъятной – похоже, что слышна и некая общая нотка. Вот это и есть – Глас Божий. Воля Архангела. Категорический Императив – нашей цивилизации. Потому что люди из веку в век принимают одни и те же решения. Проверенные временем и положительным результатом решения.
    Дело в том, что Россия – ПРОИЗВОДСТВЕННАЯ Цивилизация. Ведь когда Толкиен писал своего Властелина Колец – он писал от Души, а стало быть звал Ангела своего. И миллионы людей прочитали его и Уверовали – там страна Тьмы! А Уверовав вызвали они Архангела своего, который на весь Мир вострубил – «Вот – Мордор!» И это был не наш Выбор. Это ИХ Архангел назвал Нас – Врагом. А что же такое Мордор?
    Главный признак Мордора, это не пустые, безжизненные равнины. Не бесконечные армии Орков. Это даже не Темная Башня и не – Огненная Гора. Самый страшный и зримый образ Мордора для Их Ангела, это вечное багровое зарево на горизонте, сполохи огня над гигантскими горнами и гул многих молотов, кующих – вечно кующих Оружие Победы для «Армии Тьмы». Нет ничего человеческого в той стране для Их Ангела, – только далекое багровое зарево и гул молотов…
    Короче говоря, ссыт Он там у себя – и в добром Шире, и в веселом Ривенделле, или даже в великом Гондоре, совсем даже не Саурона, или там каких-то мелких Назгулов. Ссыт Он от ужаса – от ряби земли, от утробного бухающего молота – там в «Сердце Ночи» (для Него это – «Сердце Ночи»!). Вот именно потому, что Он ссыт, и чтоб ссали все Его внуки и правнуки и – НАДО РАЗВИВАТЬ ПРОИЗВОДСТВО!
    Вот такое вот очень Имперское и весьма стратегическое видение ситуации есть у бабушек на скамейках перед подъездами, и пьяных мужиков в электричках, и – на ток-шоу с гламурными пидарасами на ТВ, и на сходках «православных дружин», даже – на зонах. Потому что это не мнение бабушек. Это – Глас Божий. Это очень глубокое и от этого – личное мнение Нашего Ангела, которого именно Производство – на всем протяжении нашей Истории – постоянно вытягивало из любой жопы.

  45. Countering lies with other lies is not helpful. I’m sorry that some people insult your country, but you lose my sympathy when you try to compensate with arrogance and lies.

    The truth is that Russia is just another 2nd tier country, not as bad as most, not as good as a developed.

  46. A, prove what AK said is a lie by providing evidence here…. Thanks!