Archives for June 2012

Edward Lozansky – America Hates A Russia Of Its Own Invention

I will be jetting off tomorrow to Washington, but before I do – a translation of Edward Lozansky’s interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda (Америка ненавидит Россию, которую сама себе придумала). Lozansky, who used to be a Soviet dissident, is the organizer of the World Russia Forum and has many strong, pertinent views on why it’s a good idea to develop the US – Russian partnership.

An American politologist and a Russian journalist from Komsomolskaya Pravda tried to find out whether it’s possible to change Washington’s attitude to Moscow.

America Hates The Russia That It Invented Itself

Discussion with Edward Lozansky, Alexei Pankin, and KP’s Aleksandr Grishin.

A new period is beginning in US – Russia relations at the start of Vladimir Putin’s new term as Russian President. Washington doesn’t hide its critical attitude to Moscow, despite mutual assurances that the Reset is here to stay. American politologist Edward Lozansky and Russian journalist Alexei Pankin are with us at Komsomolskaya Pravda to discuss what we can expect from these new developments.

For some – a partner, for others – a competitor

Lozansky: I would identify two schools of political thought and public opinion. One of them is more influential than the other. It considers Russia to be not far removed from the Soviet Union, and while there may no longer be ideological differences, geopolitical conflicts remain unresolved. That is why Russia is seen as an unfriendly country. And how do you deal with an unfriendly country? You use hard power – the Pentagon, and soft power, including the media. And you take other opportunities to portray this country in a bad light. The vast majority of the American media holds these positions.

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Jaan Kaplinski – From Confrontation To Reconciliation

Two weeks back, the distinguished Estonian poet and linguist Jaan Kaplinski in a comment on this blog linked to his article in the Russian-Estonian paper День за Днем lamenting the state of Estonian – Russian relations, especially as they were apparently really good back in the Tsarist days. In that article from От противостояния к примирению (From Confrontation to Reconciliation), which is translated below, Jaan argues that it is long past time to bury the hatchet.

In my view, it is a very good article as it avoids the moral preening and victimization complexes typical of Baltic nationalists while also decisively calling out hardcore Russian Stalinists for their lies and mendacity. I also note with approval that he uses the historically correct term “annexation” to describe the coercive incorporation of the Baltics into the USSR as opposed to the propagandistic term “occupation”.

From Confrontation to Reconciliation

Jaan Kaplinski

I know of no Estonian who defected to the Germans during the First World War. On the other hand, I do know the names of many senior Estonian officers, who fought valiantly against the Germans in the ranks of the Tsar’s troops.

Later many of them became commanders in the newborn Estonian Army. Without their knowledge, acquired in the Imperial Nicholas Military Academy and other higher military schools, Estonia’s victory against the Red Army and the German Landeswehr would have hardly been possible.

I remember a conversation long ago with an old man, who participated in the Liberation War. He told me that when it came time for Estonian guys like him to fight against the Reds on Pskov territory, they did so without enthusiasm, and sometimes even expressing discontent: It had nothing to do with them, fighting Russians in Russia. At that time there was no Russophobia among Estonians. There was however an age-old hatred towards the German landlords, about which, by the way, one can read aplenty in the memoirs of the Estonian-Finnish writer Hella Wuolijoki. This hate flared up in 1905, when Estonian peasants burned down many German myzy [AK: Gutshof, or manor houses, specific to the Baltic region].

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Are You A Social Contrarian?

I’m curious to hear what my readers think of the various concepts and theories that frequently come up on this blog, and of the key assumptions underlying the Karlinist Weltanschauung.

social-contrarian-poll-akarlin

Very quick n’ dirty summaries of terms and their discontents:

Peak oil: Oil is limited in quantity, and at some point its production will inevitably decline – with severe repercussions for the economy; but can also be shorthand for more general problems of declining EROEI and resource depletion. Mainstream conservatives, polluters, big business hate it; Serious People usually dismiss it.

AGW: The world is warming, and human activities are largely responsible for it. Mainstream conservatives, polluters, big business hate it.

Limits to growth: Unsustainable trends in resource consumption and pollution set the world up for a severe socio-economic collapse in the 21st century. Serious People usually dismiss it; mainstream conservatives hate it.

Intelligence theory: Individual life outcomes are significantly dependent on IQ (i.e. wealth, risk of criminality, etc), while the rate of development significantly depends on the national level of human capital. Universal taboo.

HBD: A significant proportion of the differences between human groups (or races) can be attributed to differences in genotypes, which express themselves in areas such as IQ, physical abilities, character, etc. Universal super-taboo.

Game: Chicks respect alphas and despise betas; nice guys don’t get laid. At the macro level, the combination of female hypergamy and sexual revolution has led to a kind of “soft polygamy” in the US. Great for alphas, but life for sexless betas is ever more hellish. Universal taboo.

Low-carb diet: The typical US high carb diet has greatly contributed to huge obesity rates; paleo, Atkins, 4HB-type diets are the way to go. Lazy fat people who want to rationalize and excuse their own obesity tend to hate it, as do many vegetarians with their misplaced empathy.

80/20 principle/Parkinson’s Law: You accomplish 80% of things in 20% of the time, but unfortunately work expands to fill up all the time available for it – but it is possible to find one’s way out of limbo (e.g. muses/location-independent revenue streams; aggressive outsourcing; mini-retirements). Lazy people / office plankton who worship their jobs and don’t want to take a risk make fun of and dismiss this.

Transhumanism: Human enhancements, e.g. cognitive (ranging from nootropics to chip implants if the technology appears for it) and especially longevity (e.g. SENS). Technophobes are against this, i.e. most people.

Technological singularity: This quote by John Good encapsulated it: “The first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make.” Technophobes are against this, i.e. most people.

The Anti-Clan Revolution

I’m not a big fan of analyzing Russian politics via “Kremlin clans”. Estimating their relative power seems to involve mostly tea leaf reading, and in any case the entire exercise is of dubious predictive value. Even the exact compositions and identities of the various clans differ from analyst to analyst! Besides, clans are hardly unique to Russia; every US President seems to bring over some of his friends and cronies, but do we spend much time going over their histories and connections? For the most part, no.

That said, the investigative magazine Russian Reporter (which, by and by, happened to be Assange’s Russian partner in Cablegate) has compiled what is easily the most impressive research – at least visually and methodologically – on the Kremlin clans. Their efforts are translated below.

The Anti-Clan Revolution

Viktar Dziatlikovich, Kristina Khutsishvili, Philip Chapkovsky

The new Cabinet has been rid of clannishness, but at the same time it no longer has competing centers of influence. These are the main conclusions that can be drawn after studying its composition using a special technique developed by “Russian Reporter”, which takes into account officials’ personal ties before their assumption of one or another post.

A detailed study of the Kremlin clans was published by “Russian Reporter” in Issue 35 of 2011. Back then the study of these “social connections” between Russian bureaucrats allowed us, essentially, to prove that Russia is governed by a more or less wide circle of centered around Vladimir Putin, the so-called St.-Petersburg clan – a close group of people, who have long been close friends with each other. Applying the same method to the Dmitry Medvedev government, we find striking differences. One can now say, that the principles by which the Cabinet is formed have changed cardinally.

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Hipsters And Democratic Journalists Might Not Support Putin, But The Middle Class Does

Yet another oft-repeated Western trope about Russian politics is that Putin has “lost the middle classes” (Brian Whitmore, paging Kudrin), that it is liberals who speak for the middle class (Fred Weir), or even that it is not just the middle class who are against Putin but the masses too (Masha Gessen).

Let’s look at some numbers, figures, statistics, etc.

Putin appears to be as popular as ever. After reaching a multi-year of 63% approval in December 2011, he is now back at his typical 69% (Levada). Another poll indicates that 52% of its respondents would vote for Putin if elections were held tomorrow, compared with 9% for Zyuganov, 7% for Zhirinovsky, and 6% for Prokhorov (FOM). Likewise United Russia remains by far the most popular party, at 44% versus the second place Communists with 12%, despite the propaganda against it and well-publicized recent electoral losses in a few cities. So obviously there is no “mass movement” against Putin.

Now what about the more minimal form of this argument, that while Putin might retain support among blue-color workers (disparaged as uneducated, unenlightened, etc) the middle classes have deserted him?

But in that case, why did a plurality of even the richest Muscovites vote for Putin?

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