Open Thread 114

Noodle Shop Chiho, Moscow.

I have written all the major things I needed to write about Belarus by now. There’s little more left to do now except track events as they develop.

I will aim to get The Great Bifurcation essay done this weekend.

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. This is the current Open Thread, where anything goes – within reason.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

  2. Dmitry – before you go and shellout your hard earned quids for the film “The Razor’s Edge” you can first view the film through YouTube, as I’ve recently located it at this venue, for free. I viewed it last night, and I still enjoyed the film, however at over 2 hours it’s a long one and might not be everybody’s “cup of tea”. If you enjoy the topic of “spiritual values vs material ones” you would probably enjoy it.

  3. “…track events as they develop…” – From what I hear (1) the arrested are being released, (2) police is being withdrawn form the streets, (3) the minister of police apologized for the heavy handed response, (4) Mr. L. is nowhere to be seen, (5) workers in some factories are on strike, (6) people are more optimistic and bold and (7) Mrs. T. may be regretting that she left Belarus prematurely.

    If (5) spreads and grow to the level of the 1980 Poland Solidarity movement, we may have a real change coming in Belarus.

  4. AnonFromTN says

    Strikes at several big plants in Belarus are in the news. Their scale is hard to evaluate. But if BelAZ, MAZ, and others actually strike in large numbers, they are even dumber than I thought. If globohomo color revolution wins, their plants would have the same fate as Gdansk and Nikolayev shipbuilding plants, Lvov bus-building plant, Zaporozhye car plant, and many others all over Eastern Europe. While heavily PRed individuals, like Lech Wałęsa, can make a living as a tour guides, the majority would have to survive on unemployment benefits. Good luck with that.

  5. There is a belief that controlling reproduction is a modern thing, but infanticide was widely practiced by many historical cultures.
    I think that the pro-fertility genetic selection presumed to happen in the AoMI future, has already happened before in the past of our species.

  6. Belarus discussion in next post.

  7. reiner Tor says

    Ututriumph: Czech composers are good. Beckowtriumph: even during the Czechoslovak period. I’m thinking of Miloslav Kabeláč and Leoš Janáček.

  8. I watched another Chinese move. Dragon Blade, from 2015. Budget $65 million . About Romans meeting Chinese in Xianjing. Not a good movie, but politically interesting.

    The phrase “equality of the races” appeared like 3x. If I’m not mistaken, the wife of Jackie Chan’s character was supposed to be Uyghur, but was played by a Han. The kid brother of the Roman emperor seemed to be a hapa, wearing blue contacts and a red wig, as far as I could tell.

    The most interesting casting was of Adrian Brody (big nose, 3/4 Jewish) as the villain Roman emperor, from whom the other Romans had fled, as refugees. I wonder if there was some hidden significance there. Though the stereotype of Chinese is that they admire Jews, I figure that some people in the entertainment industry might be a little more based and adversarial.

    Obvious political analogies to today, to the Belt and Road. To America. The Parthian Empire provides an easy stand-up for Iran, and other nations are counted. Jackie Chan’s English was really atrocious, which I think is interesting in showing how he is no longer trying to court a Western audience or make it big in Hollywood – he is successful in China. Though, I personally think it is sad to see him past his prime stuntwise.

    I would say it was less pozzed than a standard Hollywood movie about Romans would be. There was a song in Latin. The Romans were shown to be good engineers. I was surprised that the censors allowed so much of a female’s figure to be seen (most of the backside) Though I did not see the longer, Chinese cut. I saw the shorter, foreign cut.

  9. Thulean Friend says

    A one-two punch of news today.

    1. Smoking Ban on the Streets of Spain Delivers Shock to Smokers – Extremely powerful.
    2. Meanwhile, in Budapest, the pride flag is flown for the first time ever outside City Hall.

  10. Philip Owen says

    It was a bit focussed on the one city. The perspective was narrow considering what was being represented.

  11. So the Occidental Observer is the latest victim of the current wave to clean the internet. Apparently their provider was pressured to drop them. Hope they’ll be back.

  12. Thorfinnsson says

    Belorussian heavy equipment manufacturing is globally competitive. Heavy equipment from Belorussia is, for instance, successfully exported to North America despite poor customer service.

    Globohomo victory would thus probably not result in the closure of BelAZ or MAZ.

    Of course, dismantling Luka’s sovokonomics would likely harm the material interests of current rank and file workers at these factories.

  13. AnonFromTN says

    Heavy equipment from Belorussia is, for instance, successfully exported to North America

    All the more incentive to eliminate competition. I’ve seen it many times in science. Say, a company comes up with a good miniprep DNA purification kit. A competitor producing lower quality kit buys that company. Next thing you know, good kit is discontinued, whereas the crappier one produced by a competitor remains. Rinse and repeat.

  14. Thorfinnsson says

    Sure, but in the event MAZ were for instance privatized that wouldn’t result in the shut down of its Belorussian manufacturing operations. A foreign buyer would either maintain the MAZ brand as a lower tier brand or over time phase it out in favor of its own brand. Production in Belarus would continue to take advantage of low labor costs, access to regional markets, and to hedge against currency fluctuations.

    That’s not to say it would necessarily be a positive development for Belorussia, let alone any of the striking workers, just that actually shutting down the plants is unlikely. The communist-era Danzig shipyards by comparison were totally uneconomic and had no future outside of COMECON.

  15. What do you think of using biocapacity to calculate an optimal population?

    I’ve figured, the goal ecological footprint would be like 5 global hectares per person – correlating with living standards of wealthy countries.

    Under this, the optimal Russian population is maximum 200 million. Not bad? Tho with a bit more permaculture, less pollution and some “eat bugs live in pods” stuff perhaps it can get to the 1 billion, but by then the world would be exhausted

  16. Thorfinnsson says

    America might be falling apart, but on the plus side Trump is preparing to phase out useless cucked & zogged showerheads forced on us by cowardly faggots too SCARED to transform nature to provide for all of America’s water needs.

    For those of you suffering with the pathetically low flow of post-1992 showerheads, many of them have plastic flow restrictions which you can remove with a pair of pliers.

  17. Swedish Family says

    Ututriumph: Czech composers are good. Beckowtriumph: even during the Czechoslovak period. I’m thinking of Miloslav Kabeláč and Leoš Janáček.

    Any pieces or movements you would recommend?

  18. reiner Tor says

    The string quartets, the Sinfonietta and Taras Bulba by Janáček, as well as his Piano Sonata 1. X. 1905. The operas and the Glagolitic Mass are also worth checking out. I have a box set of all eight of the symphonies of Kabeláč, each of which are good (perhaps I like the middle four a bit more than the first and last two), and his 8 Preludes (Op. 30) has also grown on me.

  19. AnonFromTN says

    Production in Belarus would continue to take advantage of low labor costs, access to regional markets,

    This sounds plausible, but the facts do not quite support your logic. How do you explain the disappearance of ~90% of industry in former Soviet block countries after they joined the EU? The idea that German industry eliminated competition is more in agreement with the facts on the ground. Especially if local industry in Eastern Europe actually did have any competitive advantages.

  20. AnonFromTN says


    Thanks for the info! I’ve heard a lot of Dvorak, Smetana, and Janáček, but nothing by Kabeláč. Will try him out. That’s how I discovered by lucky chances Zelenka, Loeillet of Ghent, and some others.

  21. reiner Tor says

    For what it’s worth, much of Hungarian industry disappeared early in the 1990s, but then over time new factories were built by foreign investors, and for example now we have a huge automotive industry producing passenger cars, while the production of buses and trucks collapsed. But there are many survivors, including things like a major steel factory or an electric appliances factory bought up by GE.

  22. Thorfinnsson says

    I’m not sure that “90%” is correct, though certainly much of the industry did disappear as in your example of the Danzig shipyards.

    It varied based on the country in question, but in general Soviet bloc industries were very large vertically-integrated enterprises with an abundance of excess staff which manufactured bad products that required roughly one-third more material inputs to produce than their Western equivalents. In many cases the goods produced by these factories were value-subtracted in that the input materials were worth more on world markets than the products themselves were.

    The plants themselves were also not of much use to foreign investors because the capital stock of the plants in general was also mostly completely obsolescent owing to quirks of the “Stalinist” planning system. The focus on maximizing physical output meant that tools and machinery were kept in service unless they were actually destroyed. Many factories in Eastern Europe in 1990 were full of capital equipment from the 1950s, and in the Soviet Union itself steel mills with equipment from the 1930s could be found.

    This bleak picture does not describe the contemporary heavy machinery manufacturing enterprises of Belorussia, which over the previous quarter century have been modernized and successfully produce competitive products for sale on world markets. One can and should credit Belorussia for preventing these enterprises from simply disappearing during the ’90s and instead giving them the breathing space they required to reform and flourish.

    Lastly, it should be noted that even where what you described took place the phenomenon was not simply the disappearance of local production in favor of imports from Germany (and sundry others). As the Magyar Miracle notes, foreign enterprises eventually invested in production within Eastern Europe itself to take advantage of its low labor costs and skilled workers in close proximity to Western Europe. Thus it is not so much that Germany eliminated Eastern European manufacturing but rather integrated Eastern European manufacturing into the German industrial complex.

  23. Philip Owen says

    Russia offers an alternative model to Eastern Europe for industrial survival.

    Russian manufacturing was less damaged than it seemed. The big international (indeed some not so big) brands bought local plants. British American Tobacco, Scottish and Newcastle (Baltika), Cadbury’s (the chocolate with the childs face), Ferrero Rocher, Henkel (Persil, Tide), Nestle, Unilever (almost the entire Russia icecream industry and lots of FMCG brands), John Deere tractors – these are just firms where I have some insight. Often but not always the Russian brand name went but the factory stayed in production. BAT shifted from 10’s of millions of cigarettes a year to over a billion and exports to China. Russian manufacturers where technical standards were different also survived (heavy electrics, rail, trams, pharmaceuticals, motor cars – cheaper due to less regulation). Those factories run by foreigners thrived and were seen as ideal places to work.

    The real rot started with the Chinese. The Chinese do not operate as multinationals. They are export only. They crushed local clothes, white goods and brown goods industries. At one point 90% of Russian shoes came from China, including army boots. I was asked for British army boots “like the Falklands” as a strategic alternatives. Also socks. Russian soldiers didn’t wear socks.

    Despite the cigarettes what Russian doesn’t do well is export. Limited language skills, limited selling skills, limited knowledge of regulations and access to certification. The EaEU is trying to change some of that by regulatory alignment with the EU but that project is going slowly.

    I have worked with some Belarus companies. One formidable lady came to the UK trying to sell elelctro mechanical telephone exchanges and clunky Soviet phones. I was astonished to see her 7 years later, not only still in business but with an electronic exchange using an optical backplane. (I thought the phones were delightfully retro but never managed to get one). Belarus also has some big logistics parks where goods can be customs inspected and loads can be broken for further transit to Russia. Then there is the smuggling …

  24. reiner Tor says

    Regarding the passenger cars vs. buses, it might not be entirely clear from my comment that during communism we produced the latter but not the former, because that’s what the Comecon decision was.

  25. Blinky Bill says
  26. Europe Europa says

    Why is bad race relations in the West predominantly an Anglosphere thing? France, for instance, despite having a lot of blacks does not seem to have the black vs white ethnic strife that the US and UK frequently do, as well as Australia to a certain extent.

    Strife related to immigration in France and other European countries seems to relate mainly to Islamisation and cultural issues, they don’t as far as I can see have the underlying racial animus that exists in the Anglosphere. The UK is the only country outside the US that BLM seems to have caught on to any great extent.

  27. 1.) Second-hand poz is more dangerous than second-hand smoke. There ought to be a sin tax on poz.
    2.) The rainbow flag should only be allowed to be flown by the exiles sent to one of those five islands discovered last year by Russia in the Arctic.

  28. Did Russia have the right monetary policy settings for the last 5 years, I mean maybe Putin should have replaced the central bank governor with someone who is a lot more amenable to printing money and raising debt like what the Chinese have done, in order to raise the GDP growth level for the past 5 years to 5 percent instead of 1 to 2 percent? It can be argued that the unnecessarily tight monetary and fiscal policy for the past 5 years have made the Russian economy as much US$300 billion smaller than it would be with a more expansive monetary and fiscal policy, basically lower interest rates, and higher deficits in order to stimulate growth.

  29. This sounds plausible, but the facts do not quite support your logic. How do you explain the disappearance of ~90% of industry in former Soviet block countries after they joined the EU?

    Usual nonsense. Soviet industries were simply replaced. For example, auto production in Eastern Europe:

    Ukraine only started this process on a large scale in 2014. Result is dozens of new factories in western and central Ukraine, Leoni, the German auto cable firm, has its largest global factory in Lviv oblast.

  30. AnonFromTN says

    Ukraine only started this process on a large scale in 2014.

    Care to present the stats on automobile production in Ukraine 2010-2020?

    Here are some sources a Ukie would never cite:

    Just one comparison from the latter site: in 2019, Ukraine produced 136 commercial vehicles and 6,254 passenger cars. In 2010 these numbers were 7,872 and 75,261. A few more years of this progress, and Burkina Faso would outdo Ukraine in car production.

    Ukrainian joke:
    – What did you personally gain from Maidan?
    – I gained my freedom. The factory where I worked before closed, and I started my own sex services company. We charge 200 hryvna for oral and 400 hryvna for anal.
    – How much do you charge for classical?
    – The company is still small, I am the only employee. So, we don’t have that service yet.

  31. Ukraine only started this process on a large scale in 2014.

    Care to present the stats on automobile production in Ukraine 2010-2020?

    Automobile production isn’t the same as auto part production.

    Article from 2018, wages and scale have increased since then:

    Employing some 3,200 people, the Zhytomyr assembly line is Kromberg & Schubert’s second in Ukraine, where dozens of global companies in the labour-intensive business have aggressively expanded in past years.

    Attracted by low monthly salaries of $300 to $500, global auto wiring companies including Leoni, Fujikura and Yazaki have shifted production to Ukraine from central and eastern European countries where costs have increased.

    Oleksandr Shavarskyi, commercial plant manager at the Zhytomyr plant — whose senior management is almost entirely Ukrainian — estimates the boom time for parts manufacturers has created “from 100,000 to 200,000” jobs. These include production line workers, subcontractors, and associated services. “In our business, all of the players are present here . . . dozens of them,” he adds.


    Since 2014, over 150 new plants and factories were launched in Ukraine, 83 of them with participation of foreign investors. Some 58 more are under construction.

    Ukrainian joke:
    – What did you personally gain from Maidan?
    – I gained my freedom. The factory where I worked before closed, and I started my own sex services company. We charge 200 hryvna for oral and 400 hryvna for anal.

    A Donbasser always thinks about prostitution – it’s what she knows best!

  32. Russian Unionist says

    Anatoly, what are your thoughts on the future of Russian as an official language in Belarus* in an event of Lukashenko losing power?

    It has been reported that Tikhanovskaya intends to restore the constitution of 1994 (or hold a referendum on it), i.e., the version in which Belorussian is the sole official (“state”) language of the country. That would overturn the the result of the 1995 referendum and set the country on the path of the Ukraine when it comes to language policy which would entail a gradual but inevitable linguistic replacement in the country and separation from the rest of the Russian cultural space (coupled of course with inculcation of the anti-Russian pseudo-national mythology).

    I know you have quoted opinion polls that showed that Belorussians are as Russophilic as people of Donetsk and Lugansk (that represent one of the ends of the ideological spectrum in the Ukraine); however, Belorussians may prove to be too passive to resist the linguistic replacement agenda of a new Sviadomy elite and there is a possibility of a new (semi-)authoritarian regime emerging, now with a pronounced and bold anti-Russian agenda.

    *I have to admit I use this word reluctantly having a slight suspicion that it owes its origins directly to the Polish Białoruś

  33. Thorfinnsson says

    The antagonistic black-vs-white social relations are a product of the American slavery and subsequent Jim Crowe systems. This cultural narrative was then exported to the other Anglo-Saxon countries owing to the lack of a language barrier.

    But since, “We’re All Living in America” (Rammstein) now the same pattern is being gradually exported to other “advanced” Western countries, though at varying rates. France traditionally was distinguished by a lack of racial prejudice or overt racial discrimination (Orwell wrote of this as a distinguishing characteristic of French civilization), as well its civilizing mission. Germany of course largely did not have blacks or much in the way of non-whites at all until recently. But slowly but surely the American pattern is taking hold.

  34. Thorfinnsson says

    I would argue that Elvira Nabullina has pursued an excessively tight monetary policy, but the Russian Federation has a fully open capital account combined with a weak domestic credit market. As such the Russian private sector has traditionally heavily relied on foreign currency borrowing, which even aside from the increasing political risk exposes the private sector to extreme financial risk in the even of currency weakening or issues with wholesale capital markets abroad. Thus Russia has willingly chosen a tight money policy at the expense of economic growth to reduce systemic risk, both financial and political.

    An understandable choice which is in keeping with Putin’s cautious style.

  35. Swedish Family says

    I have a box set of all eight of the symphonies of Kabeláč, each of which are good (perhaps I like the middle four a bit more than the first and last two), and his 8 Preludes (Op. 30) has also grown on me.

    These are my favorites so far. Thanks for the tip!

  36. The Russian central bank should have printed rubles and then used them to purchase bonds of Russian companies which require funding and for purchases of Russian government debt, basically QE. The Russian government could have used those issued bonds to fund infrastructure and health care spending and to give working people cash handouts in order to increase consumer spending, which will raise economic growth.

  37. You said that in the other thread.

    So last week I just followed your advice to buy the blu-ray for Dr Zhivago. Wait I will add a picture.

    Hopefully it will be as good as your previous recommendations were like “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”.

    Also arrived some other old films in blu-ray like “Big Sleep”, “Ran” (with the 4K restoration) and “Das Boot”.

    I’ve seen “Ran” before – it is a classic. So it will be interesting to see how the 4K restoration is.

    and shellout your hard earned quids for the film “The Razor’s Edge” you can first view the film through YouTube,

    Sure I won’t order for now, as I have way too many films already this week. I didn’t even see “Lost Horizon” yet. I’m only watching about 2 films a week at the moment, so I’m a bit oversupplied.

  38. Bao Jiankang says

    @Anatoly Karlin

    Have you read The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923–1939?

    It’s written by a Canadian whose mother was a mennonite from Dagestan. Seems up your alley.

  39. reiner Tor says
  40. Not systemically, but I did read bits of it and am familiar with the thesis, I agree with the thesis.

  41. @ Altan.

    I transfer here the discussion we started on the Belarus Sitrep about Zhan Zhoung. Could you please describe your opinion about this subject?

  42. AltanBakshi says

    Sorry for delay. I described my opinion already and revealed how limited my knowledge is regarding Zhangzhung. I was more interested on your revisionist theory regarding Indian scripts. most photos from that site are taken from Western Tibetan pre Buddhist/Bön sites. Very intriguing material.

  43. Very interesting. I hope they sequence some DNA from the human remains they found in the cemeteries. It should be well preserved in the Tibetan climate. That way we would know for sure what genetic lineages the Zhang Zhung belonged to.

    Regarding scripts in general, the tendency is to derive all extant Abugida type alphabets from the Phoenician. And the Phoenician from some evolution of the Egyptian hieroglyphs. Then through its Aramaic variety used in the Persian Empire, all other Asian scripts (Indo-Iranian in their beginnings) would have materialized somehow.

    I am usually wary of any type of Semito-centric cultural approaches. I have a strong impression that the invention of alphabets might well have happened independently in different locations. I believe that the large Indo-Iranian world of Antiquity might have been one of these locations. It is quite possible that the Corded Ware people who become Indo-Iranian after hundreds of years of evolution and Yamna people who become ancestors to Sarmatians, some Mongolian tribes and also in due time some Turk ethnic groups (not to mention Yamna being distant ancestors to the majority of Western Europeans) had rudimentary writing systems dating back to the times of Tripolian civilization with which both Corded Ware and Yamna people strongly interacted .

    Tripolian civilization was well ahead of its time in many aspects. One might ask why a writing system has not been used by Tripolians. That is if they did not use the Vinča script as a rudimentary writing system.

    I believe the situation here is somewhat analogous to the Indus civilization, where pictograms have been found and wellcharacterized, but extensive writing was obviously not used. The situation is also very similar to Old Tifinagh alphabet still used by some Berber Saharan nomads. It is extremely ancient and is used to write short sentences and record vital information that should not be forgotten, a mnemonic device. I believe that Tifinagh might have also arisen independently from the Semitic Abugida of the Levant. It probably even predates them.

    Anywhere people travel and trade on long distance range, whether by sea (Phoenicians), on steppe (Indo-Iranian/Scythian and Turk), or in the desert (Berber) mnemonic devices easily recording vital information would be of critical importance. People of various ethnicities and genetic lineages would have come to invent these mnemonic devices/pictograms/alphabets sooner or later even if they were not influenced by other cultures.

    About the old Tokharian, Kharosti and Brahmi scripts specifically, they come across as highly evolved since their very beginning. That might be an indication of them having evolved a long time prior to their uncovering on archeological artefacts.

    All this is of course purely speculative.