The Last Reaction

It was never my mission to pursue “activist” goals so much as to try to accurately understand and explain how the world works, and at best, play some  modest role in informing the debate in those areas that I hoped could make use of some of my insights.

From that perspective, my record of my “Russian reactions” in my past almost seven years at The Unz Review has been a mixed one:

  1. Despite its stellar predictive power, from development economics to the Karabakh War of 2020, the HBD/”cognitive capitalist” worldview is “unhandshakeworthy” as never before, with Wokeness – #BLM, CRT, identity politics – having become America’s secular religion. This will probably create a lot of damage before sobriety returns, which will likely take a quite a while, as much of the “Dissident Right” seems to have decided that the correct response to SJW overreach was one upping them with Qanon and other very powerful theories.
  2. Assiduously as I tried to “explain” Russia, one blogger was never likely to get very far, given that the underlying dynamics were always driven by the exigencies of American domestic politics (“the game was rigged from the start“).  Hence, the sudden disappearance of Russiagate as soon Trump was out of power. Consequently, we have the supreme irony of Russo-American relations being less bad under Biden, under whom strategic priority has shifted to China, than they were under “Putin puppet” Trump.
  3. Conversely, on the “bright” side – at least so far as many Russians are concerned – is that Putin has adopted my own program for Russia, progressively outlined over the past half decade, almost wholesale (hence my recurrent jokes about him reading my blog). My last longread for The Unz Review both marked and celebrated the culmination of that process, and I hope it will serve as a thematically appropriate endpoint to the Russian Reaction blog.

“You win some, you lose some.” :shrug: But I’m satisfied to have been dealt an American Airlines on the particular “debate” that is most germane to my own life choices.

I would like to thank the readers and commenters who have made the Russian Reaction one of the more interesting andpowerful” communities on the Internet.

Going forwards, although I can’t commit to a similar amount of blogging – the inability to produce sufficient content to justify my blogging slot at UR played a significant role in my decision to “retire” – I will nonetheless continue to compile weekly Open Threads Takes to maintain the RR community, as well as the occasional “effortpost” (at least to the extent that increased demands on my time from other, non-blogging related projects permit).

  • If you’re interesting in following my future adventures in graphomania on topics from Soviet freezers to eschatological musings then do subscribe to Powerful Takes, my newsletter at Substack.
  • I will also remain on Twitter (at least so long as @jack tolerates me there).
  • My website akarlin.com will continue to serve as a central repository for past articles as well as announcements about future plans.
  • If they do shut down all my normie accounts, I will be on urbit at ~lacrys-halseg.

To nip any ill-intentioned rumors in the bud, I would like to reiterate my respect and appreciation for our host Ron Unz, whose choice of bloggers and columnists for this webzine has always fulfilled its masthead’s commitment to featuring “interesting, important, and controversial perspective largely excluded from the American mainstream media“. Besides providing a powerful distribution and commenting platform for all these colorful characters, which included the rescue of my own “blogging career” in 2015, he has himself personally gone well beyond the call of duty to further this mission through his American Pravda series. Agree or disagree with its fundamental reassessments of major inflection points in US and world history, it can certainly never be said that it failed to be stimulating and thought-provoking. I would also like to note that in my years here, not once has Ron Unz ever pressured me into any kind of self-censorship and editorial direction. This is a rare and much coveted privilege in the world of journalism, even if perfectly logical and consistent with his vision of The Unz Review as a repository for a dazzlingly diverse verging on schizophrenic kaleidoscope of powerful takes from all corners of the political compass (as opposed to shilling any one particular party line). Blogging here has been a privilege, and I intend to continue following the many bloggers and columnists here whom I greatly respect.

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.

10 Years of Blogging

It has now been three years since I moved to the Unz Review, and ten years since I started blogging.

Retrospective here.

There is a more complete account of my writing history, including lists of my best posts, at this page.

My main hope for 2018 is to wrap up my Russia watching career – or at least a major phase of it – with Dark Lord of the Kremlin.

Links 2017

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I Will Now be Blogging at The Unz Review

Tomorrow the Russian Reaction blog at http://akarlin.com/ will go live, so please reorient your bookmarks and feed subscriptions.

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The Unz Review is a webzine dedicated to publishing “interesting, important, and controversial perspectives that are largely excluded from the American mainstream media.” You may know Ron Unz, its owner and chief editor, from my old discussions with him at this blog about the evolution of Chinese IQ, as well as from his many other journalistic and political activities. I am honored to join Steve Sailer and Razib Khan as The Unz Review’s third permanent blogger.

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The End of Da Russophile

putin-riding-bird

Flying away.

I feel the time has come to bid a dignified farewell to this blog that I have lovingly labored on for many a year.

Between the dopamine-fueled attractions of 140 character quickfire tweets, and the chronic lack of time for writing the far more detailed posts demanded as part and parcel of writing not one but two blogs in an era of accelerated historical change, I have come to the conclusion that continuing with Da Russophile is unrealistic. It’s pointless to go seven months without posting and still pretend you are blogging. With the failure to give Da Russophile a new lease of life by inviting in guest authors – exclusively due to my own lack of energy for such a reorganization – I believe it’s time to put the final capstone on what has hitherto been a major part of my intellectual life.

Commentators – on the whole, you’ve been absolutely great. You were indispensable in creating, feeding, and grooming this little critter for the seven glorious years of its existence. If not for your support and feedback, I’d have been done with Russia blogging within my first seven weeks. Thank you for all the time and mindpower you invested into the discussions here.

No doubt you will have many questions of me at this point. I will try to answer them as best I can.

Is the blog going to remain online?

Of course! I have spent far too much time on Da Russophile to just throw it all away, and far too many people appreciate having the old posts around for me to deprive them of it in good consciousness.

Moreover, I have spent the past two evenings compiling a comprehensive, thematically organized archive of all the better posts ever published on this blog: START HERE.

Will there be any new posts?

As a matter of fact, yes. About three. In the next few days, I will publish a much-requested Russia demographic update; a compilation of my Ukraine coverage as the conflict there moved from a standoff in the Crimea to war in the Donbass; and an overall “summing up” post dealing with how well (or poorly) Russia has performed since I first started started to challenge the Western consensus on Russia as a “weak,” “dying,” and “finished” country.

After that, Da Russophile will enter “archive mode.” There might be a few new posts, but only to inform anyone still following of major new updates, e.g. if I ever finally finish writing and publish Dark Lord of the Kremlin.

What’s the plan with Dark Lord, anyway?

It was just about 40% done, at least the first draft, but history began to move too fast this year for the pen to keep pace. Between this and real life demands, I feel that shelving it until the next round of Russia’s Presidential elections is the most prudent course of action.

What happened with the The Russian Spectrum, that site you had for English translations from the Russian media?

It was always only going to be sustainable if it could attract funding to support a sizable group of translators. Suffice to say, funding was not forthcoming despite my best efforts, and running it is beyond one person, even if he had the privilege to do it as a full-time hobby. Which I don’t.

Of course I have no intention of bringing to naught the labor of the amateur translators who extended their own time and energy to contribute to this project, so I have migrated all the posts at The Russian Spectrum to this blog together with their appropriate author attributions. These posts from The Russian Spectrum now constitute an eponymous “special series” within the general category of “Translations,” and a few dozen of the best translations are listed here.

Will you continue writing about Russia?

Yes, just not here.

I will continue blogging at my main website, AKarlin.comon the various topics that interest me: World history, transhumanism, evolutionary psychology, psychometrics, geopolitics, and… and… Russia.

And I will continue pursuing journalistic or even academic projects relating to Russia as opportunities arise. As I said, if there are major new developments on this front, I will post an update here as well as at the AKarlin blog and on my social media accounts.

Speaking of which… feel free to follow @akarlin88 on Twitter, and Subscribe to me on Facebook (nothing personal… but please don’t Friend me unless I know you).

Which Russia watchers should I follow now?

I will be brief, since too many suggestions can quickly become counterproductive.

1) Russia Resources – One of my key arguments has always been that statistics and opinion polls – constituting as they do massive aggregations of useful and generally reliable data – are far more useful for understanding social and political phenomena than the opinionated and fallible Bildungsphilister that you see quacking in the MSM. So you could do a lot worse than spending some time at Rosstat and the Levada Center. Ideally, they would be complemented by something like The Russian Spectrum, to give you a detailed insight into the state of public debate in Russia, but this was not to be.

2) Russia News – RT, RIA, Voice of Russia for the “official” Russian line. David Johnson at the JRL goes out of his way to make sure both sides of the story are represented in his news selections (so much so that he pissed off the folks at Buzzfeed). Finally, it is well worth checking out Charles Bausmann’s new project Russia Insider. Its style, for the most part, is more emotive than cerebral, but on the plus side, many of your favorite Russia pundits like Alexander Mercouris, Eric Kraus, and Patrick Armstrong are actively involved with it.

3) Russia Blogs – Leos Tomicek; Mark Chapman; Sean Guillory; Mark Adomanis; Andras Toth-Czifra; The Vineyard of the Saker; Slavyangrad; and, if you understand French, Alexandre Latsa. On the chance that you read Russian, I recommend Sergey Zhuravlev, Maxim Kononenko, Colonel Cassad.

4) Forums – Though I’d really like to recommend The Russia Debate, the forum that I created and Jose Moreira was kind enough to take over, it appears to be pretty much dead at this point. Feel free to try to revive it, if not… some good discussions can be had on /r/russia and /r/UkrainianConflict.

5) Russia Watchers – In today’s world of interconnected social media, news is fast moving from the realm of big vertical providers to a much more personalistic and horizontal level. On Twitter and/or Facebook, these people/accounts are well worth following: Alexander Mercouris, Graham Phillips, Eric Kraus, Jon Hellevig, Patrick Armstrong, Ben Aris, Mark Sleboda, Alexander Dugin, Vladimir Suchan, Mark Adomanis, Leos Tomicek, Sean Guillory, Dmitry Trenin, Jake Rudnitsky, Mark Schrad, Alec Luhn, Dmitry Linnik, Bryan McDonald, Gleb Bazov, Egor Prosvirnin, Maxim Kononenko, Natalia Antonova, Maxim Eristavi, Simon Ostrovsky, @southfronteng, @euromaidan, @noclador, @anti_maydan, @IndependentKrym, @UkrToday… and your own humble servant, @akarlin88. This is just a solid, #FF-style list to get you started and is in no way meant to be comprehensive; some of them are, for that matter, actively anti-Russian, on the logic that it’s well worth hearing what the “enemy” has to say in any case. The beauty of such an approach is that you can quickly start building your own information network.

The End of the Russia Debate. (For Real, This Time)

I should have never allowed myself to be talked out of it in the first place.

The primary reasons are the same as before: Low activity rates, to the extent that genuine discussions are once again being overtaken by spam in terms of volume. This is in spite of substantially increased security measures since then.

But there are also some wider reasons, such my online presence being spread too thin by projects such as the forum. You have to prune these things from time to time. Inspired by the recent events at RIA, I feel it is time for a rationalization and consolidation of my own projects.

The forum will go offline as of the New Year.

THAT SAID, should another forumer or group of forumers wish to continue the forum, I will be happy to turn over the passwords and the forum software license for the common good. The only condition is that I will no longer be liable for the site’s active administration and paying hosting fees. If you are interested, please contact me and we will discuss this further.

AKarlin 2.0

As you can see the site has had a major redesign, and new blog posts will start appearing as of this Monday.

Here are the major changes:

(1) Back to self-hosted, after a year and a half at WordPress.com. There will be no repeat of the pharma hack that torpedoed the old Sublime Oblivion. My security measures are much better now. And even if fate throws a wrench at my face and someone hacks the site, my new host will fix it for free.

(2) There has been a major reorganization! You can now browse not only by Categories and popular Tags (see sidebar), but also by new custom taxonomies “Themes” (the main navigation menu) and “Qualia” (e.g. Reviews, Featured Posts, Guest Posts, etc).

(3) I have finally completed the arduous but rewarding task of uploading all my book highlights – I read almost everything electronically nowadays – to my Evernote. Ready access to all the best passages from a book allows one to quickly recall its content and arguments, and to quickly pen a detailed review of it.

So expect a lot more reviews.

(4) I will have more posts on futurst and transhumanist topics (relative to HBD) in the next few months, as I’ve somewhat fallen into that crowd. Incidentally, I’ll be speaking at one of their conferences next February (my topic will be cliodynamics). Get your tickets now if you live in the SF Bay Area and wish to guarantee yourself a spot there!

(5) The new managed hosting isn’t cheap, so once you start seeing a steady stream of posts again from me please consider offsetting some of my expenses by donating via Paypal or Bitcoin.

The Russia Debate is Back From the Dead

Due to the popular outcry, my prior decision to close down the Russian politics and history forum is now formally reversed.

russia-debate-undead

Come on people – let’s make it work. Stop spamming each other in email newsletters. Refrain from creating thousands of off-topic comments on blog posts that will get lost in the Internet’s recesses as soon as the next blog post comes along. Have your arguments and debates in a place and format – that is, the forum – that is specifically designed to host arguments and debates.

The (Abortive) End of The Russia Debate

Its failure is so stark that I hardly need post a notification on the actual site. To the extent that I visit it nowadays it is mostly just to clean spam, which is just depressing. It has not achieved critical mass, despite the initial incentives on offer, and in my experience if a forum fails to get going early on then any exisiting participation rapidly collapses.

In all honesty I half-expected this anyway. It would have probably taken off had it gone online in 2006/2007, at the height of the so-called “New Cold War.” Nowadays, in these days of “Reset,” Russia just doesn’t command the interest it used to.

Thank you for all the people who tried to get it going.

Of particular note: Alcestis Eshtemoa, Alexa M, Alexander Mercouris, Alex Bond, Bellum, hoct, mls13, Moscow Exile, Ombrageux, owenpolley, Patrick Armstrong, Sevan, SWSpires, Vostok.

Barring a miraculous splurge of (genuine) acitivity in the coming weeks, the forum will be going offline at the end of September.

To forumers – Please look through the archives and save anything you wish to save of your posts for future use elsewhere.

To everyone – The future of The Russian Spectrum is solid and promising; be assured it is not going the way of the forum anytime soon. Do not mistake a relative lack of posting in the past two months as a sign of trouble – to the contrary, it is because the time I previously used for translating there is now taken up by serious discussions of funding and partnership with major media outlets.

The Social Thaw: Change in Facebook Policy

My response to Snowdengate, the new Graph Search, its inevitable integration with Google Glass? I will be minimizing my privacy settings and for all intents and purposes making my Facebook public.

So good ahead, look up my profile. Friend me. Whatever. I don’t mind.

Sounds counter-intuitive, huh? There’s a logic behind the madness. It’s now a safe assumption that in between the numerous bugs and the surveillance what you post on Facebook might as well be public. So I will treat it as public.

Which means no more denying friend requests on the basis that I don’t know you. No more purges of weirdos who happened to friend me. No more separation into “Friends,” “Acquaintances,” and other groups. No more photos of an excessively… personal nature, or confidential communications. That I believe is for email, Dropbox, and even older systems, like face to face meetings.

Some commentators are recommending people delete their Facebooks. But I find its social features to be quite useful, plus I am a publicist – so why on earth would I do that? That would just be stupid.

PS. There is also know a dedicated Facebook Page for this blog that’s automatically updated with every new post.