This blog is about everything that interests me: Peak oil, climate change, IQ, Human Biodiversity, game, transhumanism, cliodynamics, China, geopolitics, futurism, languages, survivalism, world travel, etc.
I have a separate blog Da Russophile where I demolish Western myths and tropes about Russia.
I also run an information and subscription service at Arctic Progress about shipping, energy, and politics in the high north.
My 10 Principles
Although the scope of this blog is wide, I am committed to viewing the world through a set of laws and principles that hopefully diminish the potential for serious errors.
- “Comment is free, but facts are sacred.”
- We understand the world through models. Stereotypes are models, and are therefore useful.
- People have complexes (today’s Westerners are no exception). So some stereotypes tell us more about the subject than the object.
- You can’t predict the future. Black Swans.
- You CAN predict the future but it is really, really difficult, and you will probably be wrong. You do this by by identifying key macro-trends, maintaining historical perspective, avoiding ideologies (Procrustean beds) and common psychological traps, and seeking many viewpoints.
- Most “experts” are useless.
- What’s good for society and the state isn’t always good for the individual.
- What is good for the individual is good for the individual. Parable of the Beer Yeast.
- The world as it is, not as we want it to be.
I wrote this back in early 2009. Quite a few views have changed since then e.g. I am still an equity feminist but would clarify that I’m opposed to gender feminism. I’m also now a lot more skeptical of the LGBT lifestyle and have become a big adherent of HBD theory. As regards the book it was never written – I’m always planning to write a book for that matter, but it just never seems to happen.
My name is Anatoly Karlin and I currently live in California. I imagine myself doing something like world history / world systems and modeling it mathematically (see cliodynamics) and becoming involved in academia or the media in the future. Or starting a cult, perhaps I’ll give that a try.
A few things about the bio. First, I won’t dwell on topics such as which schools I went to, what my hobbies are or what my favorite flavor of ice cream is – these things are banal and uninteresting. If you’re curious, look at the pics or Google me up. Second, yes I know its probably politically incorrect, so don’t bother bitching about it. Third, this is not meant to be 100% accurate – some things need to be simplified, and some I don’t care to include.
My name is derived from the Greek Anatolius, meaning “sunrise”, and the surname Karlin indicates some east-central European Jewish ancestry. Many of my ancestors were state servants (one branch of whom were ennobled under late Tsarism), and Daghestani notables through matrilineal descent.
Though born in Russia, I was taken to the West at an early age. Like many scientists after the Soviet collapse, my father emigrated so as to be able to continue doing research. Much of this time was spent in a bleak, post-industrial town in England’s North-West. Fortunately, it had Europe’s largest bus station so at least getting the hell out of there was easy after finishing high school.
In general I consider California >> Britain, and would prefer to stay here. Unlike Americans, they cannot accept foreigners as fully British unless they utterly reject their cultural roots – a physical impossibility for me since I never lost my Russian accent. Their nationalism, though quiet and aloof, is all too real and manifests itself especially virulently in the form of Russophobia*.
Not surprisingly, many of my reflections over the years have centered around my national and cultural identity. Realizing that I was a stranger in a strange land, I developed a sentimental interest toward Russia, which was only reinforced by my social alienation and a dawning awareness of the lies and smears directed against it by the Western media.
Dismissing Russia was fashionable in the 1990′s, when Yeltsin’s cronies were pillaging the nation. Back then I was a Russophobe, like all Russian patriots. Yet recent years brought back hope to the people, and to me. Now I am convinced Russia should ignore Western attempts to impose its false values upon it, and instead forge its own path to universal utopia, while battling the five heresies that proved so deadly in its history: предательство, пораженчество, пессимизм, продажность, преклонение перед западом.
Whenever I visited Russia most of my relatives insisted on labeling me as English; and if I tried protesting it, some rejoined that I have an over-idealized view of Russia. They insisted that I didn’t understand, but actually I understood them perfectly. But those traitors had a point. In effect I was not just an inostranets (foreigner), but a bezstranets, a dude without a country, a rootless cosmopolitan.
This is a most unnatural state of affairs, since all people need a strong belief and sense of belonging to retain their sanity. These psychological issues probably explain my attraction to simplification, to desert-like forms. At times these included subscription to fundamentalist religion or radical political ideologies ranging from hard-line Stalinism to Fukuyama’s “end of history” eschatology.
Yet in practice I’m an extremely non-ideological atheist who likes to take contrary positions just for the sake of it. I also hold a deeply quantum view of truth, believing that all interpretations are to a certain degree valid. So far from wearing ideological blinkers, this reveals a profound, unstable absence, or illusion, of belief rather than belief itself. This is either a mere coping mechanism or madness, you decide.
I think my defining theme is aversion to hypocrisy in society, which is particularly widespread in the West. Yet hypocrisy is a product of the intellect and of civilization. Hence my attraction to the idea of apocalypse, the sublime, etc. Unfortunately, who I am – a traitor to Russia, an unanchored intellectual, a pro-Western nihilist – makes me the biggest hypocrite of all. I confess to my hypocrisy and my treason. Sublime oblivion is my dream of redemption.
I find resonance in Spengler’s portrayal of the West as a Faustian civilization doomed to eternal frustration in its search for the unattainable infinite, and his future prophecies about its decline and the coming of the new Caesars are inspiring. I look up to the concept of the absurd revolt developed by Camus. Meursault is the literary character I most identify with, although Kundera’s Tomáš and Tarkovsky’s Stalker come close. San Manuel Bueno, mártir by Miguel de Unamuno is the most poignant and hopeful text I’ve ever read.
Not surprisingly, my favorite music is Romantic (Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Wagner, etc), Russian folk music, uplifting military marches and cheesy pop. I sometimes play the piano.
I started the blog Da Russophile in January 2008 and you can read about the reasons why, and my experiences writing it, here. I’ll add a few more things. First, I believe I’m just about the only blogger idiotic enough to explicitly admit to a partisan bias, but its a price worth paying to avoid hypocrisy. Second, as I said I am a contrarian and want to stick the facts into the faces of the Russophobes who run Western editorial policies on Russia. Third, blogging is a kind of therapy for my psychological issues.
My political beliefs are highly idiosyncratic. I am economically centrist, socially liberal and supportive of liberal democracy, albeit with a populist authoritarian streak. As long as the government isn’t run by religious nutjobs and allows me to write my blog, run a business, own a gun and travel freely, I’m cool with them.
Small and medium businesses should face minimal regulation and taxes should be kept low, except in the cases of very rich people and inheritances. However, there should be a coherent industrial policy for strategic industries and stringent environmental controls on excessive polluters. The US should halt its deindustrialization, because as past empires like Habsburg Spain showed, if you don’t have a manufacturing base and the flow of gold (cheap credit) dries up, you will fall from the ranks of the Great Powers.
I am generally opposed to welfarism and socialism. Though I concede it works in disciplined nations like Sweden or Japan, this is not the case in the US or Russia. However, the state has a duty to invest heavily in human capital (subsidized education, retraining programs, elementary healthcare provision), physical infrastructure and basic social support during recessions. I also propose encouraging the growth of communes like the Israeli kibbutzim in the country to manage social stresses.
All drugs that can be grown should be legalized, as should all kinds of firearms. Abortion should be freely available. We should strive towards free movement of labor and common markets across North America, Europe, the CIS, Japan and all other developed countries. I don’t feel strongly on the death penalty either way, although in excessively violent or corrupt countries I would support it. I support the goals of the feminist and LGBT movements. I support the development of an artificial womb and building incubator factories to further feminism and control the population size. I also propose a fat tax to limit healthcare costs and reduce obesity.
Foreign policy should be pragmatic and in line with the national interest, without any of the counter-productive cultural imperialism that characterized the Bush Doctrine. So far Obama has been spot on, making only symbolic gestures that increase goodwill but without any real unilateral concessions – Realpolitik at its best. The US should, except to the extent that it risks its vital interests, try to increase global unity to better face the energy, environmental and technological challenges of the twenty-first century.
Speaking of which, I am currently planning to write a book on that subject this summer, with the provisional title Sublime Oblivion. I don’t want to give away too much, but the gist of it is that: I want to intertwine current global trends into a plausible scenario, or “future history”, featuring a) GW and energy depletion related events, b) the effects of economic trends and technological acceleration on society, warfare, etc and c) a very special and sublime end of history. RAFO.
Anatoly Karlin, April 2009
* Some Brits have expressed to me their surprise or even dismay at this unflattering portrayal in the year after this article was first written. I do not mean to imply that Britain is uniquely or even especially bad in this respect. From what I’ve heard, France is substantially worse, and my relatively rosy view of the US may have been skewed by living as I do in the cosmopolitan Bay Area, instead of some backwoods as was the case in the UK. Unlike in Britain, there is no real pressure to integrate in the US, but ironically its absence actually makes its assimilative attraction stronger. I also acknowledge that some migrants do find Britain very accommodating for their temperaments and psychological profile. After all, some British Muslims become successful investment bankers or TV presenters, others sit on welfare, a few blow up buses. People differ much more than countries.
Jan 2010: What I Believe: 2 Year Update
Aug 2010: I removed the comments that used to be here and copied them to this page. Feel free to continue discussing / praising / dissing me there.