Peak Putinism

666D Checkers, Clever Plan Overclock, Mnogokhodovka Immanentized, etc.



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. He’s part of that Center For Syncretic Studies crowd that runs Fort Russ. I remember them on FB a few years ago browbeating everyone that only they were qualified to interpret the true, esoteric meaning of the Minsk Agreements. Something about all of Ukraine willingly going back to Russia and then the resurrection of the USSR. They also claimed a lot of “pro-Russia” content was actually from NATO and State Department trolls (even commentators that agreed with them most of the time and online groups that were providing charitable aid to the Donbass). I used to joke about how long it’d be before they declared Motorola and Givi were actually reactionary American mercenaries.

  2. Felix Keverich says

    I’m an atheist, and this is what most religious people look like to me.

    Do you think he is being paid to write this nonsense? It certainly doesn’t look like it. It must come from faith.

  3. Mr. Hack says

    I’ve read here and other places that the term ‘Putinism’ is largely a classic misnomer. Yet I run into the term being used here in the heading for this piece? If it were done sarcastically, shouldn’t the term have been used within quotation marks?

  4. Thulean Friend says

    The new Mayor of Sheffield.

  5. Lots of non-white mayors (non-white women especially) because it’s an easy way for Labour controlled-councils to reward ethnics and signal without any drawback, since it is entirely symbolic.

    The actual (with power) mayor of Sheffield is Dan Jarvis.

  6. Spisarevski says

    how long it’d be before they declared Motorola and Givi were actually reactionary American mercenaries

    Well, they did want to go to Kiev, so they are at the very least “reactionary” in the eyes of neo-sovoks, and only their popularity prevents this opinion from being publicly shared by the likes of this Ollie fellow.

    On that note, I remember reading a particularly disgusting piece at Russia Insider written by Starikov shortly after Mozgovoy was killed.
    In it, he strongly implied that he agrees with the theory that Wagner killed him on Kremlin’s orders – and then openly argued how that’s a good thing!
    The argument was basically something like “Stalin killed a lot of traitors in the critical time of WW2, so now Putin must likewise kill anyone who is not fully with the program, like Mozgovoy who was saying things that were not approved by the Kremlin.”

  7. Mitleser says

    mayor of Sheffield

    I wonder if 3rd world style exploitation is also practiced in his city.

  8. Well that was a slightly bizarre journey. Just as a matter of interest, is there actually anybody at all who has espoused all the positions this man puts forward as representing some constituency he’d like to discredit?

    Not that I’m saying there isn’t – I’m not that familiar with the wilder fringes of the internal Russian debate – but it reads like a long exercise in obsessive straw man creation.

    Every now and again you recognise a position someone has adopted here on a particular point, sometimes oneself, but then one realises that each was adopted by someone again, sometimes yourself) who’d argued the opposite of another point just down the list.

  9. Anonymous says

    American spy!!!

  10. songbird says

    I like his stance. There’s something about it that is so comically dystopian, like he is going to leap down on the unwary traveler through the impressive ruins of the old British civilization. He has some of his plunder already; he needs only a weapon, so he can gather more.

  11. Gerard1234 says

    WTF is wrong with this great writing by this new Richardson guy? He’s completely correct.

    In line with Karlin writing a blog on here that solely quoted and endorsed about 10 Russian 5th column/liberast media sources….this current one makes me very suspicious.

    I would add that in 18 years as President and PM…VVP deserves at least 10 or 11 Nobel Peace Prizes for his management in Chechnya,Gruziya,Donbass,Syria, possibly being the one who saved Erdogan by alerting him about the coup, and for destroying and then regenerating the Russia-Turkey trade relationship after their apology for shooting down the plane.

  12. Hyperborean says

    Personality cults work if you have a strong, consistent leader, if you don’t they end up looking dubious.
    In my opinion it is better to worship dead leaders because at least they are a known quantity and unable to let their followers down.

  13. Concerning Russia, there has been a degree of extra-curricular (for lack of a better term) stuff going on among some of the sources seen as alternative from Western mass media.

    The person who seems to be the main guy at For Russ appears to have a left leaning perspective, which has contributed to him expressing differences with those who’re pro-Russian/anti-Sovok.

  14. songbird says

    Dead and dead for a long time is best. Preferably, without an FBI file either.

  15. Hyperborean says

    Yes, that is a good point. Make sure any evidence the secret police might have is destroyed first before declaring them a national hero with saint days and all.

  16. This author’s analysis is a bit clumsy. For one thing, the popular Russian bloggers El Murid and Colonel Cassad are ideologically on opposite sides. The former seems generally critical, pessimistic in outlook and “liberal” (West-oriented). The latter has a tongue-in-cheek subtitle on his blog’s banner, calling itself “the totalitarian propaganda mouthpiece” (though it’s more nuanced than that title would suggest… and he’s also a Crimean communist, so not quite in the Putinist ideological camp).

    Both of them have given more space to Igor Strelkov at different times than the mainstream Russian media, but the latter more so when Strelkov was pro-Putin, the former more so to the current anti-Putin version (not that they really agree much about the solutions, though).

    One thing they both have in common is that I can’t figure out where they’re getting the money from to support their writing. (well… that also holds true for AK, come to think of it… and the Moon of Alabama guy…)

  17. Seamus Padraig says

    I’m not that familiar with the wilder fringes of the internal Russian debate – but it reads like a long exercise in obsessive straw man creation.

    I’ve heard plenty of these complaints from ‘pro-Russian’ commenters myself. I think the problem is that, in addition to not being Russian themselves or having any skin in the game, many of these people blindly equate being pro-Russian with being anti-Western, anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, etc. Putin isn’t any of that; he’s just pro-Russian.

  18. Mitleser says

    More correctly, he is pro-Russian establishment.

  19. that was TL;DR way before the end

    from what i could gather before my brain shut down out of boredom he was adding all the various “pro-Russian” groups and then trying to make a narrative that would fit them all (which is dumb as they have different agendas e.g. a lot of western “pro-Russians aren’t pro-Russian they just don’t want another Iraq).

  20. Seems like this Ollie Richardson chap, & Andrei Raevsky ‘the Saker’ (‘ex-intel-agent’, ha!), are drinking buddies … do they ever invite AK along?

    The bond of ‘greal pals’ Netanyahu & Putin is a key factoid to grok, I think … Viewing Putin as playing the NWO long game, ultimately being a Chabadnik, makes Putin’s pluses, minuses, and ‘conundrums’ easier to understand … this photo is rather telling

  21. Seamus Padraig says

    Well, no kidding. He is the President of the Russian Federation–I don’t think you could possibly get any more establishment than that.

    My point is that, some people in the West seem to have elevated him to the status of Red-caped Savior of Mankind, and are now shocked–shocked!!–to discover that he is merely the president of Russia and nothing more. We went through this with Paul Craig Roberts. In 2014 he was lauding Putin as the “moral conscience of the world” (literally, his words), and then in 2015 he was blasting Putin for having ‘betrayed’ Novorossiya. Well, who built Putin up into some demigod in the first place? It was certainly not VVP himself. He never actually promised to save the whole world. His job is merely to save Russia.

  22. Frederic Bastiat says

    Am I the only one who has the impression that Karlin took an ideological turn since around the time when he moved to Russia?

  23. Hyperborean says

    What kind of turn?

  24. Hyperborean says

    If monarchs have no other value today at least they tend to look more dignified during state visit pictures than republican leaders.

  25. Frederic Bastiat says

    To some strange kind of Russian nationalism.

  26. LondonBob says

    Quite the opposite to me. Proves GK Chesterton’s dictum that when you stop believing in God that you start believing in anything. In this Communism and the eternal Soviet Union.

  27. Except when are religious people less ‘believing in anything’ in every other area?

    Only look at this website: most of the people are believing 99% nonsense that they read on unreliable websites – many of them are religious.

  28. Hyperborean says

    Eh? He was something different before?

  29. According to Muscovite friends, the more one knows about what’s happening in Russia, the less they are fans of Putin.

    Although they concede (and I agree) there probably isn’t really anyone else better capable of running the place right now.

  30. Zhukov1945 says

    I can give my perspective as an annual visitor to Russia with family via marriage there – with an important gap in visits from 2012ish to my return last year:

    1) Whether Putin is or isn’t a demigod, backing up and taking a wider view the country today is far, far, far, far, far better than it was in 2008 (when I started going there). This is on effectively every single possible metric, from level of customer service to quality of the rails to level of economic activity to availability of apartments. Visit Vnukovo in 2008 vs. today, or take a train to Kazan today vs then, and tell me this isn’t true. Outside Moscow internet was literally not available anywhere but an internet cafe in 2008, today it is far easier/cheaper to secure high speed wi fi in Russia than it is in America.

    2) All of the above occurred during a period of the global financial crisis, multiple oil busts, ever-growing western sanctions and the collapse of the ruble.

    3) Regardless of where Putin has fallen down, the seizure and holding of Crimea will go down as the single most important FP event of the 21st century, as it re-legitimized territorial seizure by force

    4) I am not smart enough to know the conflicting currents and counter-currents impacting Russian FP decisions, whether in Ukraine or in Syria. All I do know is that the present leadership has vastly improved standard of living for everyone but maybe Rosneft employees since 2008

    Based on the above, I am inclined to cut Putin a rather healthy degree of slack!

  31. My first trip was for the Millenium (I saw Yeltsin hand over power to Putin on TV) and I spent my summers in Moscow in the mid 200os, after which I visited every year until 2013, and again this spring. My wife is a native (I also have cousins), I spend all my time with natives, none with expats, so I’m pretty immersed when in Russia.

    I agree with your points. Given the marked improvement in daily life it is understandable for the average person to be grateful for the government that presided over such impr0vement.

    That having been said, the extent of corruption, particularly at the highest levels, is significant, the improvement has been from a very low and ridiculous point due to Yeltsin-era looting, and if not for oil that country would probably be at the level of Romania. That is, much-improved compared to the 90s but still well below potential given the human capital, worse than Poland, Belarus, etc. Contrast with China’s trajectory. As a friend (no liberal) explained to me, if one of the many Kremlin loyalists who got caught stealing hundreds of millions of dollars was shot or at least imprisoned as is routinely done in China, he would have voted for Putin.

    The system is in essence a well-run corruption farm, designed to maintain a monopoly of power and wealth for those at the top, while giving just enough back to keep the people satisfied. My cousin arrived in Russia from Ukraine in the early 90s. I’ll be vague and say he works in the security apparatus. He owns a couple flats in Moscow and a dacha outside the city, and a summer home on the black sea (you can guess how much that is worth). He loves Putin. I have no ill will towards him, if not him, it would be someone else. The state works primarily for people like that, or rather those further up the food chain whom he serves. The state and its stability are central, not the Russian people. Chechens are given special status lest they cause too much trouble, only when the Russians actually riot does the government do something (as in the town of Pugachev) but only just enough to return to stability. Azeris run much of the markets, squeezing out local Russian farmers. Russian refugees have trouble finding housing but Armenians came in and don’t have such problems. The latter have squeezed people out of academic positions (there is money to be made by corrupting the schools). Oligarchs keep their monopoly, if one goes rogue and threatens to destabilize the system he gets punished but the rest (only about half of whom are actually ethnic Russians) keep their grip on the economy. If you are an innovative businessman and draw attention, you run a high risk of having your business taken away against your will by the established oligarchs or their subsidiaries (I know someone to whom this happened). As a single-digit millionaire you won’t get much sympathy from the people anyways. In their eyes you should be grateful for the offer you couldn’t refuse.

    Someone not from Moscow, or from lower classes, might not see the stuff that goes on, or may simply be grateful that he has food, a better TV, and can take an occasional trip somewhere, things that could not be taken for granted prior to Putin’s rule. Crimea was a great distractor also. And of course, the nature of the system is that nobody outside it really has any capability to rule.

    1. Zhukov is right about Moscow – things are looking more developed every year, I notice completely this (and now large parts of Moscow are like a luxury ‘chocolate box’ for tourists). But this is ‘stabilization or consolidation’ at the higher level (very high in Russia, as the privileged economic node of an ultimately vastly wealthy and large population country).

    He says he lives in Moscow since 2008 and things improve every year until 2018.

    From 2000-2008, Moscow was ‘boom-town’ or ‘goldrush’. And since 2008, the economic fundamentals of the country are mainly stagnating for a decade (at the higher economic level).

    The many improvements we see every year could be more widely characterized as adjustment or consolidating to a higher economic level (but the higher national level itself was achieved mainly in the boom period 2000-2008).

    1. We can look similarly at the situation of Japan. In 1970s, Japan was a boom town and goldrush. And yet if you read about the 1970s in Japan, people say it felt still was very shabby, chaotic place.

    Since the 1990s, Japan’s economy has been economically stagnating, and yet to a superficial visitor a country it seems far more developed.

    For me, I was visiting in Japan many years after its economic boom period, and there was little indication of the shabbiness of its 1970s.

    Note the paradox:

    In its economic stagnation period – clean, rich, well organized, Japan.

    In its economic boom period – shabby, chaotic, Japan.

    1. The places which are economic boom towns, often create a much worse impression than the places which are stagnating or consolidating.

    In the economically booming-town: sudden amounts of money and human resources flooding into the city. Infrastructure cannot reach demand.

    Massive flood of car purchases – roads cannot match them (traffic jams)).

    Largescale migration – including of temporary workers – into the city, leading to the development of slums, streetcrime, Unforeseen large-scale construction projects all over. Things are generally messy, chaotic.

    By comparison, in the economically consolidating city, in an economy resting gently at a higher level than previously – things are predictable, there are no sudden population changes, the municipality can plan in advance, infrastructure projects have reached maturity and often exceed demand. With greater predictability and knowledge, it’s easy for both the public and private sector to see all the small improvements that can be made each year.

  32. Lol oops in a rush I misread Zhukov’s post – he was not talking specifically about Moscow.

    But the point is interesting.

    The very strong local and national improvements of the country are paradoxically not correlated with the economic boom, but a consolidation of the high point achieved during the boom, in an era of stagnation of economic growth.

    Looking at economic data for 2008-2018, depends a lot in terms of whether you use PPP or nominal figures.

    However, it’s not so bad with PPP figures. Per capita GDP goes from $23,054 in 2008, to $27,834 in 2017.

    Well in PPP this is of course better than the 1990s in Japan.

    The culmulative percentage increase of GDP per capita in PPP figures was around 20.8% from 2008-2017.

    (It’s only a horror in nominal figures).

  33. It’s interesting compare also.

    The increase in GDP per capita in Russia between 2008-2017, is very similar to the increase in Japan (obviously at a higher level) during the same time period .

    In Japan – 22,46% increase in GDP PPP per capita between 2008-2017.

    In Russia – 20,8% increase in GDP PPP per capita between 2008-2017.

    (However, at least things were far better than the disaster in Italy – 6.2% increase in GDP PPP per capita between 2008-2017 ).

  34. Frederic Bastiat says

    Corruption is often only a matter of perception. So its hard to judge from afar how true and representative these claims are. I tend to agree with Mercouris’ take on this. At least he can cite some more objective criteria.

    There is always much talk of Russia’s supposedly difficult business climate, and the supposedly poor protection provided in Russia to private property rights.

    However Russia’s World Bank Ease of Doing Business rating has improved from 120th in the world in 2010 to 35th in the world now. Russia’s ranking for protecting minority shareholders is now 51st in the world (better than Finland’s, Germany’s, Japan’s and Switzerland’s), whilst its ranking for enforcing contracts is now 18th in the world (better than Britain’s, Canada’s, the Netherlands’, Germany’s, Sweden’s, Finland’s and Japan’s).

    There has been some skepticism about the extent of this reported improvement in the business climate – skepticism which I personally consider unwarranted – but clearly something is being done and is being done right.

    Moreover the World Bank’s survey of Russia’s business climate tends to bear out the anecdotal evidence. The days of brutal corporate raiding and gangster capitalism complete with hitmen are well and truly over in Russia.

  35. This example of corruption I’ve been familiar with is rather epic. Granted, it occurred about 10 years ago, but still well into Putin’s reign:

    Well into the 2000s, under Putin, a paranoid schizophrenic (literally – I am not insulting him, he has been hospitalized for decompensation) in his late 20s decided that he was expert at an academic field. He rambles nonsense and presents a bit like the guy from Beautiful Mind, except he is not smart to begin with. He had previously obtained some “degrees” at provincial institutes. An academic institute in Moscow was chosen for him to lead. He was “parachuted” in (who knows how much the university’s rector and other administrators were paid off) and made head of the department. Established professors, often from the Soviet era, one of whom, a member of the academy of sciences, lost their jobs during this process. Remaining staff essentially babysit and act deferentially towards this guy and his ramblings.

    The schizophrenic is a nephew of one of Putin’s cronies in United Russia. The UR bigshot always looks out for the nephew.

    There is of course politics and nonsense in Western academia also, but nothing remotely on this scale.

  36. Since we’re swapping corruption stories…

    My anecdote isn’t the most interesting or outrageous one, though perhaps more telling as to the endemic nature of the corruption of law enforcement and the judiciary. It also happened just 1-2 years ago, so it’s relevant to the present day. I haven’t told it before because the case was still ongoing, and I am not going to post it as a post, but it’s probably discrete and small-scale enough to place it in a comment.

    We have a family acquaintance, a Moldovan though one whose family arrived in Russia in the 1950s. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he built a small private business, worked hard for a couple of decades, and retired with substantial savings. He soon spent most of it or gave it away to relatives (as I said, not the sharpest tool in the shed). But then things got worse. You see, his son is a career criminal, who has been in and out of jail for robbery and drug trafficking since graduating high school – if he even graduated, I don’t know. But this time the shipment was bigger and “hotter” than usual, and he was facing 10 years in jail.

    So our acquaintance “invested” the equivalent of a Moscow apartment into the lawyer, prosecutor, and judge involved in the case, who amicably divided it up between themselves. This wasn’t enough to buy him out of jail entirely, but it was reduced to just a couple of years – at the cost of said acquaintance now going into debt to his relatives. Hilariously, his son, being a complete moron, didn’t understand what had been done for him and demanded an appeal, believing he should have been cleared entirely – and ended up getting the original decade!

    I suppose in this case things sort of “worked out” by some miracle of fate. A moronic scumbag got punished for his cretinism and criminality. A drug dealer and career criminal got taken off the streets for a decade. And our acquaintance who gave the bribes is now practically bankrupt – his relatives aren’t about to forgive him his debts, even though he had previously lavished them with gifts. The only way for him to return them is for to sell his last significant asset, the small shitty apartment he now lives in. I suppose this is a good thing from a social perspective, even if we did and do have good personal relations.

    Harsh, but not exactly unfair? Well, not quite. The circle of lawyers, prosecutors, and the judge still made off with the equivalent of a Moscow apartment. And they will presumably continue doing that, and in many cases the results will constitute genuine perversions of justice. Whereas in a country with rule of law they would be sharing a cell with the lower-end criminal. And there are hundreds of thousands of such criminals in epaulettes throughout Russia.