Archives for June 2012

Last Word On Jews In Russia

At least until the issue arises again. Over to Alex Mercouris:

… I do not agree that the two big revolutionary parties in tsarist Russia, the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Social Democrats were under Jewish ideological influence. I do not know what “Jewish ideology” is. Anyway the Socialist Revolutionaries had their origins in the far left Russian terrorist groups and movements of the 1860s and 1870s such as the People’s Will which were emphatically Russian and not Jewish (a disproportionate number of their members were the children of Orthodox priests). As for the Social Democrats the influence here was German not Jewish and the first important Russian Marxist and the founder of the Russian Social Democrats, Georgy Plekhanov, was emphatically a Russian not a Jew.

There was a disproportionately large number of Jews amongst the senior leaders of the Russian Social Democrats (less so amongst the Socialist Revolutionaries), a fact by the way that strongly refutes the view of widespread anti semitism amongst the Russian lower classes, but the Social Democrats were never a Jewish dominated party and as is well know the Jewish socialist party in tsarist Russia known as the Jewish Bund was refused admission into the Social Democrats when it insisted on maintaining its independent organisation and identity.

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Russian Anti-Semitism, Or Just Affirmative Action In Action?

While writing this post on Da Russophile about why Russians do not (for the most part) hate Jews – a post that will also be of interest to AKarlin readers – I came across very interesting historical data on literacy and educational accomplishment by ethnic groups in the USSR.

Per 100 people of respective nationality
Literacy Rate among…
ages 9-49 50 and older
Jews 85,0 90,0 62,5
Germans 78,5 79,1 74,4
Russians 58,0 64,3 27,9
Ukrainians 53,4 59,2 22,2
Georgians 50,3 57,0 24,7
Belorussians 47,6 54,2 16,1
Koreans 45,1 50,6 20,6
Armenians 42,9 47,5 20,4
Tatars 41,7 46,4 19,0
Kazakhs 9,1 9,9 5,3
Uzbeks 4,8 5,2 3,3
Chechens 3,4 3,6 2,6
Tajiks 3,0 3,0 3,0
USSR average 51,1 56,6 24,5

This table shows the literacy rate among different groups from the 1926 First All-Union Census. Coming less than a decade after the Revolution this table is of course a reflection of the Tsarist education system, not of the Soviet one. Apart from puncturing one Communist myth, that the Tsarist regime didn’t do anything for people’s literacy and that it was all a Soviet achievement, it also demonstrates that Jews had the highest literacy rate of all the peoples in the Empire.

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Modern Britain In Four Extradition Cases

Imagine you’re a British extraditions judge and you are asked to rule on the following cases.

(1) An oligarch exile who came from a country where he might well have ordered contract murders and is now loudly and implacably opposed to its new President who dispossessed him of his political influence. Although the British establishment considers said country, Russia, a geopolitical competitor, the exile has more delusions than power, and is unable to inflict any damage on it.

(2) A British computer science student who made $230,000 through a website that offered hyperlinks to films and TV shows online; nothing cardinally differentiates it from Google. The US demands his extradition where he can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. What he did is not even a crime in the UK.

(3) A celebrity Australian citizen wanted on sexual molestation charges in Sweden that are not even a crime in the UK, and which were, in fact, previously dismissed – only to be brought up again soon after Cablegate on the initiative of a Swedish prosecutor who happens to have a rich history of radical feminist advocacy. The opacity of Sweden’s judicial system on sexual crimes means said Australian citizen can easily be renditioned to the US where a grand jury has already been convened and issued a secret indictment against him.

(4) A serial pedophile who is an American citizen who is wanted by the US.

Berezovsky lives a happy life in Moscow on the Thames. Richard O’Dwyer was ruled eligible for extradition by the Home Office. Assange’s bail conditions were more stringent than that of a suspected murderer from South Africa, and his extradition has recently been ruled eligible causing him to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy. Shawn Sullivan is protected from extradition by the High Court because imprisonment is a violation of pedophiles’ human rights.

No further comment is necessary on my part. Take from this what you will.

Mark Adomanis Surprised Russians Don’t Hate Jews

From what I generally knew of contemporary Eastern European attitudes towards Jews (in two words “not good”) I expected that the Russian public’s attitude towards Israel would be decidely frosty, if not outright hostile… But what seems noteworthy to me is not the downward blip in 2006 but the generally high level of Russian support for Israel over the past 9 years and the generally small number of Russians who will outright say they relate poorly towards it (the balance being made up by people who said they have a hard time answering).Mark Adomanis.

There are several reasons as far as I can see, some of them obvious, some of them not so obvious because they are clouded over by noxious PC fumes.

* There are now simply a lot fewer Jews in Russia. There were 1.4mn in 1989 in the USSR, and 550,000 in the RSFSR; as of 2010, only 158,000. Jews typically occupy positions in the economy, culture, etc. out of all proportion to their population size. This is typically ascribed to conspiracies whereas in fact it is a simple function of their IQ’s which are about one S.D. above the white European average. This typically causes resentment in places where Jews settle with a few major exceptions like the Anglo-Saxon world. In fact much of Tsarist and Soviet “discrimination” against Jews was (in modern US terms) an affirmative action plan for the indigenous population.

* While Jews in the late Soviet era were heavily associated with dissidence, a function of their relative exclusion from mainstream politics, now they range all over the spectrum. While a majority are still probably more liberal than not you now have Jews like the TV games star and Stalinist blogger Anatoly Wasserman not to mention Zhirinovsky (aka Eidelstein) who is a half-Jew as well as the head of the biggest nationalist party.

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Was Russia In A Demographic Apocalypse In The First Place?

And just as the Guardianistas and K.F. & Co. bury their heads ever deeper in the sand, real world statistics show confirm my thesis from the beginning of this year that Russia’s demographic crisis has for all intents and purposes come to an end. As of May there was a y-y increase of 17% (!) in births, a 2% increase in deaths, and virtually zero natural decrease; accounting for the entire Jan-May period, there was a 7.6% increase in births, a 2.2% decline in deaths (including an 18% decline in deaths from alcohol poisoning), and an overall population decrease of -57,000. However since natural decrease is typically biggest in Jan-May (see graphs here) the rest of the year may well see continuous natural population growth; it is also not beyond the realm of possibility that overall natural population growth, i.e. before accounting for immigration, will be positive in 2012.

Still instead of the usual dry demographic update post I want to do something different here and delve into comparative and historical issues. For instance, now that we can pretty confidently say it has ended, how ultimately “bad” were Russia’s two lost decades?

The Russian population peaked at 148.5mn in 1992. After that it declined at an increasing rate, especially after 1998 when the supply of ethnic Russian emigrants coming back from the Near Abroad dried up; then, in the mid-2000’s, it began to slow as core demographic indicators improved, and Russia started getting substantial numbers of Gastarbeiter. In retrospect stabilization was achieved in 2008, and since then Russia’s population rose for 142.9mn in 2010 to 143.0 in 2011 and 143.1/143.2mn this year. Peak to nadir this was a decline of less than 4% (or in chronological terms, 1985), with recovery already in motion. How does this compare with other transition countries?

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China’s True Nuclear Power

I always thought it weird China had the smallest arsenal of the world’s five NPT nuclear-weapons states. In broad strategic terms, this would make it very vulnerable to the US, especially given the latter’s development of ABM technologies, which would potentially give it the choice of an annihilating first strike.

In late 2009, China went public with the news that it has a 5,000km system of tunnels, known as the Underground Great Wall (地下长城). This did not get much attention in the West apart from a small article at Jamestown, until a student group at Georgetown University compiled a long report on the 2nd Artillery Division’s tunnels which got wide coverage in the MSM. One of the most critical implications is that the PLA’s nuclear arsenal may well be underestimated by an order of magnitude, numbering about 3,500, with profound consequences for US – Russia disarmament talks. You can read about it, look at photos, or you can watch the video below which has the added bonus of featuring inspiring Chinese patriotic music.

The skeptics such as the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and FAS* argue that such estimates are alarmist, hurt the case of disarmament, and implausible. China doesn’t have enough highly enriched uranium, and indeed, China’s tunnel system reflects its strategic weakness i.e. the lack of a proper nuclear triad and vulnerability of its land-based forces to an American first strike, hence the need to dig in deep. Project head Karber addresses most of these criticisms, noting that plutonium from civilian reactors hasn’t been converted and remains unaccounted for, and that in any case the Chinese constructed an underground reactor during the Third Front period. As for delivery, missile production isn’t all that technically complex and it is certainly feasible to build them underground far away from prying satellite cameras.

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You’ve Been Gamed! How To Understand Modern American Society

And no, I ain’t talking of that von Neumann crap. 🙂

Game theory as developed by Heartiste and Co (1, 2, 3, 4). Before we start, there are two concepts we must avail ourselves of.

Female hypergamy: Woman’s tendency to mate up the social hierarchy.

Soft polygamy: See picture right, as helpfully illustrated by yours truly.

Back in the “good old days”, i.e. say the 1950’s, life was much simpler. Female labor participation was low, their salaries were low, the Pill had yet to be invented, marriage was a respected institution, divorce and single motherhood were very much frowned upon, and female obesity was very low. There was one guy for every eligible girl and dating was a a sweet and simple affair.

Fast forward to today. Female salaries and labor participation have practically equalized with those of men, thus diluting men’s relative economic power. The Pill and the end of belief in the sanctity of marriage (divorce and single motherhood have soared since the 1960’s) have unleashed the floodgates of female hypergamy; across femdom, chicks are looking to mate up, leaving their now powerless beta providers by the wayside. On the other end of the scale, female obesity – fueled by aesthetic WMD’s in the form of McDonald’s, KFC, and corn subsidies – has ballooned, to the extent that it now afflicts almost half the female population. Nothing destroys a woman’s looks and attractiveness to men quite like obesity. This alone halves the eligible pool of fuckable women.

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Alex Dryden, A Hack’s Hack

Just when I thought the paper of Luke “I Plagiarize Off The eXile” Harding and Miriam “Putin Stole My Dry Cleaning Ticket” Elder could get no more incompetent, vindictive, and mendacious in its Russia coverage, it did. I present: Putin calls in Darth Vader to tighten his grip on Russia’s energy assets by Alex Dryden, who seems to be the Guardian’s new Moscow correspondent. How many tropes and outright lies can you, dear reader, identify in that 800-word diatribe? I could find at least a dozen or so.

Manichaeism: Apparently Sechin is “Darth Vader” and “the scariest man in Russia”, according to Russians. That’s certainly news to me. I have never heard Sechin called any of that. The blogger Mark Galeotti did alert me to the fact that he’d used the moniker in a blog post, but did say that “joking aside, I haven’t seen Russians call Sechin Vader.” I searched on Russian Google for these associations and all I could find was references to Dryden’s own article, an article from Forbes a few years back that also called Sechin a Darth Vader, and a few bloggers. However I doubt that a majority of Russians even know who Sechin is let alone think of him as Emperor Palpatine’s Putin’s enforcer.

Inconsistency. Sechin is apparently the “greyest of his éminences grises”. I always thought that title belonged to Surkov? Make up your minds already! But this isn’t all. Not only will Darth Vader help Putin “tighten his grip on Russia’s energy assets”, he is at the same time – according to the subtitle – to “begin a potentially tycoon-terrifying reprivatisation programme.” This is a logical consequence of the traditional view of the Western media that Putin / Russia can do nothing good: If he increases restrictions on party registrations, it is authoritarianism, if he loosens them, it is a Kremlin plot to crowd out genuine liberals with fake Kremlin parties, etc. But at least up till now Putin’s inevitably evil and mercenary choices were at least mutually exclusive. Alex Dryden goes one step further, adopting a kind of multi-universe perspective in which Putin both “tightens state control” and “reprivatizes” at the same time, with both serving to reinforce his dominance and enrich his corrupt cronies.

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Global Highs

Via Economist:

This makes sense to me. While cannabis is well-known in Russia, attitudes towards it are mostly disparaging where not hostile even in relatively enlightened Moscow. The druggies there tend to be more hardcore anyway. It is a large part of the conversation in the UK – see the debates over what classification it should get – but actually getting hold of it wasn’t easy (I never managed to at any rate, though in fairness I didn’t try; nor did I ever see a weed circle).

In contrast, weed is ubiquitous in the US – well, at least in California. There are books on cannabis horticulture openly sold on the streets (some go on to put this knowledge into practice in secluded inland forest glades). There is the 4/20 Festival in which thousands of people gather round the Bay to smoke weed. While it is illegal in theory in practice it is almost never enforced and one can easily find dealers with product. Indeed one can buy a medical certificate proving that you have an ailment that required treatment with marijuana from a doctor for a small fee.

Ayn Stalin: Soviet Inequalities In 1929-1954

While researching my article on Soviet economic performance relative to the US (it was bad), I came across this fascinating graph showing income inequality in the USSR since 1946.

As you can see, the 10% richest Soviet citizens in the first postwar year were more than seven times as rich as the 10% poorest. That is actually substantially higher than in many capitalist social democracies today: Czech Republic (5.2), Finland (5.7), Germany (6.9), Japan (4.5), Sweden (6.2). Russia’s current R/P ratio is about 13 IIRC.

And there’s lots of factoids that support this assertion:

(1) Stalin increased his own salary as General-Secretary from 225 rubles (until 1935), to 500 rubles in 1935, 1,200 rubles in 1936, 2,000 rubles by the end of the war, and a cool 10,000 rubles by 1947.

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