The only two major world political factions that ever seem to be willing to shed their own blood for their beliefs are nationalists and Islamists.

In Ukraine it was the hardened Neo-Nazi thugs of Right Sector who hammered in the last few nails in the Yanukovych regime. They were also reliably the best units of the military forces sent to pacify the Donbass, even though the regular Ukrainian Army had access to plenty of solid Soviet gear while the likes of Azov had to make do with “innovative tanks” i.e. glorified shitwagons. Even the best NAF units were typically not locals defending their land (who always constituted the solid majority) but Russians passionate enough to cross borders to defend and expand the Russian World. And even amongst them, the Nazi elements, such as Rusich Company, though small, were man for man some of the very best warriors of the conflict.

You can also see this in Syria. Apart from a small number of “elite” forces (relatively speaking), such as Tiger Forces and the 4th Armored Division, the great mass of the SAA maintains a passive profile; likewise, the FSA, composed of SAA defectors and the more moderate elements. It is the Islamist Al Nusra and Al Sham who are consistently the most willing to go on the offensive, and they do this with considerable finesse that that is uncharacteristic of typical Arab armies. Its counterpart is, of course, Hezbollah. And then there’s Islamic State – what it lacks in military skill it makes up for in sheer fanaticism. This is going to trigger a lot of people, but in a very real way Islamism IS the Middle East’s version of the Alt Right.

Probably not coincidentally, they also have the best “inspirational” music. Is there any tune on the planet more badass than the Teufelslied? And you can’t deny that the mujahideen can sure come up with a catchy nasheed (despite being hampered by their own ideology’s prohibition on instrumental music).

This is also evident in battles on the streets. The coup plotters in Turkey were either Gulenist Islamists (official regime version), or perhaps they were nationalists angered by Erdosliv (what I currently believe to be the case), but what they almost surely were not was nice boring “Blue Team” liberal democrats. As for the hardcore 10%-20% out of Erdogan’s supporters, who account for half the Turkish population and who charged rifle lines and cut the throats of the tankmen who had moments earlier run over their comrades, their motivations are most certainly not centered around Thomas Jefferson (or Ataturk) either. The apolitical Turkish conscripts, with no steel in their spine, had no chance against the ruthless machinations of the officers who duped them into thinking it was all just an exercise or the Orkish fanaticism of the enraged Islamists.

This is why the Russian liberal reaction to this (as with everything else) has been so typically amusing.


“Well done to the Turks! Maybe we could repeat after them?” opined Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Twitter (the tycoon who has waged a personal vendetta against Putin ever since he put an end to the 1990s).

(Incidentally, one suspects Khodorkovsky’s former lawyer Robert Amsterdam might not be too happy about his former client’s stance. Looks like someone hired him to now attack the Gulenists. Lawyers always were shameless mercenaries…)

The irony is that Moscow’s liberal hamsters have about as much chance of overthrowing the regime as Occupy Wall Street SJWs of living up to their name. Very few people want to throw themselves in front of a tank for Team Blue, Khodorkovsky, and Soros – regardless of how hard they egg them on from the sidelines, or even better, from abroad.

To the extent that “people power” is anything more than an invention of ivory tower ideologues obsessed with social media, it is for the most part only the Nazis and the Islamists who can actually harness it by dint of their maxed out “will to power” stats.

It also means that the only way in which a “people’s revolt” can unseat Putin is if it comes from the nationalists (the liberals are too limp-wristed, and the Islamists are too small in number, Maskvabad tropes regardless). And the only way that can materialize in the conceivable medium-term future is it Putin was to implement Putinsliv (abandonment of the LDNR) for real as opposed to just in the imaginations of some overly fervid minds.

Almost certainly won’t happen, even in this scenario. Unlike Mediterranean and Latin American polities, the Russian Army has no tradition of independent political activism and has almost always been consistently loyal to the party in power. The system has been reinforced by a National Guard. And Putin’s approval ratings remain on the order of 80%. That’s very likely enough to beat any nationalists gone postal into submission.

If not, though, it is precisely the liberals who will be most fondly remembering the good old Putin days.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. In Syria, there is one more example that supports your thesis – the SSNP (the Syrian Nazis, kind of), they are one of the most effective fighting forces there even though they are just a few thousand people.

  2. Lots of people like to feel morally and socially superior through liberalism, but no one wants to die for it. The US officially fights its wars for liberal democracy, yet most of the people who volunteer to serve in its military come from the non-liberal side of the spectrum. West Virginia is probably the best-represented state. If there’s any motivation there beyond pay checks and the love of danger, it’s putting ragheads in their place, not “human rights”.

    Similarly, during the Cold War the motivation of the Americans risking their lives in Korea and Vietnam was fighting “gooks”, and through them, Russians. Abstract terms like Communism were translated in their minds to concrete terms like Chinks and Russkies, and people WILL fight against foreigners.

    So liberalism advances in two ways:

    1) By convincing people that it’s upscale, smart, cool, hip and modern.
    2) By implicitly and temporarily co-opting nationalism.

    They have to resort to 2), even though they hate doing it, because 1) is useless in times of violent struggle. Men want to look cool, hip and upscale for a reason that has to do with life and birth, not death. Namely, they’re trying to attract chicks. Dying for liberalism would be like dying for cool-looking jeans. Jeans aren’t the purpose, they’re a means to an end, which is women. And this end, this goal, is the exact opposite of death. At the levels of instinct and evolution it’s actually all about birth. A hip, cool-looking, socially-conscious corpse is incapable of procreating. But killing foreigners can help one’s tribe, which can help spread the killer’s genes.

  3. Hector_St_Clare says

    It also means that the only way in which a “people’s revolt” can unseat Putin is if it comes from the nationalists (the liberals are too limp-wristed, and the Islamists are too small in number, Maskvabad tropes regardless). And the only way that can materialize in the conceivable medium-term future is it Putin was to implement Putinsliv (abandonment of the LDNR) for real as opposed to just in the imaginations of some overly fervid minds.


    What about the Communists? The Levada polls from earlier this year suggest there’s significant popular support (between 55% and 60%) for communism of some sort or another, although most people don’t think it’s possible at this point in time.

    Obviously I’m a KPRF fan so I hope in any power struggle they come out on top, but it looks they have a significant reservoir of ideological sympathy in the populace that they could draw on.

  4. What’s the story with the LDNR? (Lena Delta Nature Reserve … ¿Que?)

  5. I can’t remember where I read this, but it’s about the difference between:

    • the people who know what they want and
    • the people who just know what they don’t want

    The former will lead any time.

  6. The two regions that seceded from the Ukraine with Russian help in 2014 call themselves DNR and LNR (The Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic). The Russian word for “people” starts with the letter N. LDNR is a jokey way of referring to both of these regions at once.

  7. Blitzstat says

    “Some sort of another” won’t translate into anything tangible, and KPRF will continue to garner <20% support. Also, the majority of its supporters come from those over 50. Even the libdems are far ahead when taking the under 30 voters. So it's likely that the future elections will see KPRF recede and the libs take their place.

    Rohlin was comm.'s last chance.

  8. Thank you for this nice explanation, good sir or madam!

  9. German_reader says

    “their motivations are most certainly not centered around Thomas Jefferson (or Ataturk) either”
    What have you got against Jefferson and Ataturk? At least by today’s standards Jefferson was a rabid ethno-nationalist who wanted to promote studies of Old English and wanted depictions of Hengist and Horsa included in the US great seal. And Ataturk of course is a central figure of secular Turkish nationalism.
    And it’s a bit irritating how you conflate nationalists and fascists…granted, there’s a continuum (fascists after all can be seen as the most extreme kind of nationalists), but seems like an overly broad category.
    And I have to admit, the prospect of hardcore nationalists coming to power in Russia is something I find rather scary…Western Putin-bashers who don’t get what the alternatives to Putin could be are pretty stupid.

  10. Anonymous says

    It’s unfair to the SAA to say it’s not fighting hard.

    The Sunni and other conscripts of non-Alawite origins aren’t fighting hard. They don’t want to charge at the enemy or run when attacked but the core of the SAA is giving everything for the war.

    Of the current population of 20-something Alawite men in Syria, how many are alive and not too maimed to still fight? Maybe less than half. (This is a very interesting question for someone with demographic estimate chops to consider.)

    The Alawite are the hardest fighting people in the world now. So there are three things people still fight for: 1. Islam 2. Nationalism 3. Survival of their People

  11. Kuznechik says

    4God&Country – is that a pun on 4GW?

  12. Max Payne says

    I’m glad the CIA has been doing everything in its power (through agents such as the GCC and Israel) to keep pan-Arab nationalism down. God help the world if they ever get their shit together and figures out how to use Islamism.

    I also have to agree. I was surprised how catchy the tune to the juba videos of ’05 were (what Westerners call the ‘Baghdad Sniper’). You won’t be able to find the video on youtube but you’ll find the song. Maybe there is a video streaming website which doesn’t hate freedom where it can be viewed unedited.

  13. Not sure the desire for hipness can be entirely reduced to desire to please women; desire to not be a social pariah, which has more consequences than merely a meager dating life, probably has more to do with it. But otherwise I think it’s a perceptive analysis, especially the part about co-opting nationalism.

  14. The CIA has been doing everything in its power (through agents such as the GCC and Israel) to keep pan-Arab nationalism down….. by creating wars, chaos, desperation, creating hordes of refugees and promoting islamism.

    Really, where would we be without that help.

  15. pink_point says

    In Ukraine it was the hardened Neo-Nazi thugs of Right Sector who hammered in the last few nails in the Yanukovych regime.

    Neo-Nazi? “Right Sector”?

    Nah, you are lying, man.
    If that were true, you’d never have all the Roger Cohens commending these people’s doings from the pages of NYT, HuffPo, Guardian, WaPo… You’d see the paladins of anti-Nazism, the torch-bearers of Freedom, the Cavaliers of Justice, alarmed.

    … Out of jokes.
    I miss the days where I thought “coin-op” referred only to arcade games.

  16. Your comment is critical about a party that’s practically absent from this website. The people who you piercingly analyze are bound to never read you.

    The internet is already full of that.

    It helps in maintaining a world of myriads of grouplets feeling ever more self-satisfied, lazier, and with delusions of superiority.

    To my mind, there is almost a necessity of regularly confronting people who think differently + ensuring the exchange is publicly available.


    To understand a thing, a most effective way is to interact with it (being yourself), and see what happens. Like, let’s go to 3quarksdaily and make comments over a few days

  17. Like they bother with ideological vetting, anti-Russia=good to most of the US media.

  18. pink_point says

    “The murder of the Jesuit intellectual as the Berlin Wall fell was a final blow in defeating the heresy of liberation theology, the culmination of a decade of horror in El Salvador that opened with the assassination, by much the same hands, of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the ‘voice for the voiceless.’ The victors in the war against the Church declared their responsibility with pride. The School of the Americas (since renamed), famous for its training of Latin American killers, announced as one of its ‘talking points’ that the liberation theology initiated at Vatican II was ‘defeated with the assistance of the US army.’

    Actually, the November 1989 assassinations were almost a final blow; more effort was yet needed. A year later Haiti had its first free election, and to the surprise and shock of Washington — which had anticipated an easy victory for its own candidate, handpicked from the privileged elite — the organized public in the slums and hills elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a popular priest committed to liberation theology. The USA at once moved to undermine the elected government and, after the military coup that overthrew it a few months later, lent substantial support to the vicious military junta and its elite supporters who took power. Trade with Haiti was increased, in violation of international sanctions, and increased further under President Clinton, who also authorized the Texaco oil company to supply the murderous rulers, in defiance of his own directives. I will skip the disgraceful aftermath, amply reviewed elsewhere, except to point out that in 2004, the two traditional torturers of Haiti, France and the USA, joined by Canada, forcefully intervened once more, kidnapped President Aristide (who had been elected again), and shipped him off to central Africa.
    Aristide and his party were effectively bared from the farcical 2000-11 elections, the most recent episode in a horrendous history that goes back hundreds of years and is barely known among those responsible for the crimes, who prefer tales of dedicated efforts to save the suffering people from their grim fate.”

    Some seldom heard history.
    The volume of the voice of victims is proportional to their average IQ, one would say looking at the history of the 20th century, and what parts of it are known by people, and how they are known.

  19. I believed in the liberal view of things when I was young and stupid, so I know it from the inside. And, unlike most liberals, from the outside as well.

    And I love arguing about politics, so I’ve spent a lot of time argueing with various kinds of left- and right-wingers.

    People never change their minds while arguing. They get defensive instead. Those who passively watch an argument – onlookers – CAN change their minds though.

  20. Erik Sieven says

    only problem is it is very annoying to get a lot of comments deleted

  21. Right Sector are hard right nationalists, not Nazis. The difference may seem subtle but it is real.

    Right Sector’s parliament representative is a devout Orthodox Jew:


    Historically such movements have had Jewish participants and supporters. There were many Jewish fascists in Italy:


    In Austria, many Jews (including Sigmund Freud’s son Martin) supported the local Austro-fascists.

    There are neo-Nazis among the pro-Kiev forces in Ukraine – such as the Azov battalion. Right Sector isn’t one of them.

  22. Also the German far right had some Jewish supporters before 1933, like Kurt Eisner’s assassin, but my point is that the US media wouldn’t care if they were actual neo-Nazis or not.

  23. OT: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/trump-campaign-guts-gops-anti-russia-stance-on-ukraine/2016/07/18/98adb3b0-4cf3-11e6-a7d8-13d06b37f256_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

    The Trump campaign worked behind the scenes last week to make sure the new Republican platform won’t call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces, contradicting the view of almost all Republican foreign policy leaders in Washington.

    Throughout the campaign, Trump has been dismissive of calls for supporting the Ukraine government as it fights an ongoing Russian-led intervention. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, worked as a lobbyist for the Russian-backed former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych for more than a decade.

    Still, Republican delegates at last week’s national security committee platform meeting in Cleveland were surprised when the Trump campaign orchestrated a set of events to make sure that the GOP would not pledge to give Ukraine the weapons it has been asking for from the United States.

    Inside the meeting, Diana Denman, a platform committee member from Texas who was a Ted Cruz supporter, proposed a platform amendment that would call for maintaining or increasing sanctions against Russia, increasing aid for Ukraine and “providing lethal defensive weapons” to the Ukrainian military.

    Trump staffers in the room, who are not delegates but are there to oversee the process, intervened. By working with pro-Trump delegates, they were able to get the issue tabled while they devised a method to roll back the language

    For Trump, the biggest threat to Europe is not Russia, according to people familiar with his thinking. He believes the United States should focus on helping Europe fight Islamist terrorism and open borders, not confronting Putin. He has called for a reduction of the U.S. commitment to NATO. He simply doesn’t see Russia as a dangerous threat.

  24. I’m starting to believe the conspiracy theories on this. If they’re true, great for America and great for Russia. Everyone would be a winner except for the warmongers.

  25. Anatoly Karlin says

    In fairness the “Stephen F.” Cohen is a good Cohen. 🙂

  26. Anatoly Karlin says

    Just like his position on protectionism Trump’s views on neoconism appear to be longstanding.

  27. German_reader says

    That sounds like Trump was calling for the use of ground troops in Kosovo (as opposed to waging an air campaign) back in 1999…that’s not exactly anti-neocon, is it?
    Still his stance on Ukraine and Islamism is very welcome.

  28. Anatoly Karlin says

    General Flynn, Trump supporter:


    SPIEGEL: You’re speaking about the decision by NATO to overthrow Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi in the fall of 2011.

    Flynn: You look at Libya, and you go, “Jesus, why the hell did we do that?” That’s beyond stupid. That’s so irresponsible and dangerous for our national security and frankly for the national security of Europe because you go and you look at where a lot of these refugees are coming out of, they’re coming out of Misrata and Tripoli.

    SPIEGEL: Trump would not repeat those kinds of mistakes?

    Flynn: He would avoid those stupid decisions. When you look back, history is not going to be kind to these last 16 years.

    SPIEGEL: For a long time, conservatives have pushed for the export of democracy and human rights. Will that come to an end if Trump becomes president?

    Flynn: Yes, because it’s wrong. The United States acted under a misinterpretation of a concept that we wanted to implement the system of democracy all around the world.

  29. “Give me soldiers who know what they’re fighting for and love what they know.”
    – Cromwell (i think)

  30. Hector_St_Clare says


    I was referring to support for (broadly speaking) communist ideology, not support for the KPRF per se. The Levada polling indicates that 55-60% of Russians believe in ‘central planning and distribution’ as the best way to run an economy. Most of them, correct, end up voting for Putin and not Zyuganov, for reasons that are unclear to me. I’m wondering how the KPRF could possibly convert that ‘latent’ pro-communist sentiment into votes.

    As for age, yes, we’re all aware that the base of support for communism is among old people. That can’t be all of the people who are saying ‘yes’ to the polling questions about communism: there are not enough old people in Russia to add up to that figure. And if communism were really so unpopular among younger cohorts, we’d have seen support for it gradually wither away since 1990, as the liberals have been predicted. Instead, as far as I can tell, it’s increased.

  31. Anatoly Karlin says

    My impression is that the KPRF vote (amongst the young) is mainly a protest vote against UR.

    I know plenty of people who vote for Putin and KPRF.

    A lot of Russians support the planned economy, but likewise a majority supports the free market economy.

    So the most you can say is that Russians are more statist in outlook than most countries.

  32. The only two major world political factions that ever seem to be willing to shed their own blood for their beliefs are nationalists and Islamists.

    IE people who believe in loyalty to something bigger than themselves.

    It’s more an issue of people who are fundamentally individualist and materialist (most of the “pro-western liberal” types) struggling to be really enthusiastic about dying for an abstract cause, surely? I mean, “freedom” as an individualist cause is hard to justify dying for en masse, but “freedom from them” as a patriotic rallying call to a nation or religious grouping seems to get the job done often enough.

    My freedom of speech is currently being infringed by my government through “hate speech” laws, but while I would probably go to prison over that I wouldn’t bother to die for it. But if US (or other foreign) troops were to overthrow my country’s government, I’d probably be prepared to die in the cause of killing a few of them, even though having an open US occupation government probably wouldn’t change much in my everyday life, in terms of policies, laws etc.

  33. unpc downunder says

    “This is going to trigger a lot of people, but in a very real way Islamism IS the Middle East’s version of the Alt Right.”

    Many if not most Islamic fighters and terrorists are globalists who want to establish a global Islamic caliphate. In contrasts, alt righters are mostly nationalists who are opposed to globalism.

    I agree with the part about liberals not wanting to die for liberalism though. People with die for a religion, or a hard-core secular ideology like communism, but modern liberalism is just too wet an ideology to attract the kind of people who are willing to die for a cause. The only liberals who are prepared to die for a cause are liberal environmentalists who occassionally risk their lives protecting animals.