A Public Service Announcement

Every day, millions of English speakers, many of them British, make themselves sound like jackasses by pronouncing the president of Russia’s surname as “Piutin.” This is most often caused by the archaic pronunciation of the name Rasputin, which shares a root word with the president’s surname. This video demonstrates the proper way to pronounce that surname.  The president’s name should be pronounced “Poo-tin” in English. There is no y/j/i consonant in front of the “u.” The president’s full name is “ex-KGB agent Vladimir Putin.”

Don’t sound like a pretentious British person attempt to impress people at a party by dropping the names of world leaders. Pronounce the Russian president’s name correctly.

Two syllables, people. Two syllables. This isn't hard.

Two syllables, people. Two syllables. This isn’t hard.

Test

So we’ve got another article about millennials her- No! Wait! Come back! I promise this will be worth it. We’re going to play a little game. Start reading this millennial manifesto and see if you can pinpoint the exact line in the text where the author of the article stopped typing and began masturbating furiously. I’m thinking it was the end of paragraph 6 or 7.

Seriously though, I am as sick of millennial bashing as the next guy, but this kind of triumphalism just reminds me of some dorky kid who tells off the bullies when they are out of earshot. Nothing about millennials is subversive. Okay so they have great technical skills. No shit. One time that massive edge in technical skill included such things as knowing how to drive a car or operate a doorknob. Technology advances and new generations rush to embrace it.  But does this scare corporations? No. All those gadgets associated with millennials happen to be produced by, you guessed it- corporate America. As for the workers to produce them? No problem, there’s always China.

What about working in cubicles and doing the whole 9-to-5 thing? Well I simply refuse to believe that you can’ t find a shit-ton of millennials in the US working in nose-to-grindstone, dead end jobs, and possibly counting themselves as lucky to have them. Millennials don’t seem to be any closer to bringing back America’s militant labor union movement so they certainly aren’t scaring corporate America on that front.

What about fashion? Hipsters? Art? The “creative class?”  Well, those things aren’t really subversive. All those products one buys to differentiate oneself from “the masses” are sold via the capitalist market, and wherever you have consumers competing to distinguish themselves, capitalism will thrive as firms and individuals happily rush in to feed the  demand. The old New Left idea, that capitalism requires conformity, was discredited decades ago. The hippies had a message that was essentially the same as that of this millennial writer, and yet what happened to them and their allegedly subversive movement? They became the very people this author is railing against. Someone really ought to remind her about that.

On Deaf Ears: The Wasted Potential of Russia Today

Finally I have had the time to write my response to this article in The Atlantic. For those who don’t have the time to check it out, the author Pomerantsev talks about the nature of Russia’s new media, and how there is no longer any concern whatsoever as to the credibility of their coverage. Russian media, particularly that aimed at foreign audiences, isn’t concerned so much with presenting an alternative point of view, but rather a myriad of different points of view until the waters are sufficiently muddied. Instead of presenting a lie as truth, the strategy seems to be to make truth unknowable by bombarding audiences with multiple, sometimes mutually exclusive theories or claims.

The downing of the Malaysian airliner over Ukraine was a perfect example of this. RT and other Russian media sources posited numerous different explanations of the event, including:

-The first claim, that Ukrainians shot down the plane believing it to be that of Vladimir Putin. Of course no evidence was presented to support this theory and it was quickly taken down.

-Another claim, from the Russian defense ministry, alleging that a Ukrainian military plane shot the airliner down. Oddly enough, they claimed that the plane in question was a SU-25, a ground attack aircraft and not an interceptor. Why any military aircraft would have been sent to intercept a plane which had spent some time in Ukrainian airspace and flew in from the West was never really dealt with.

-A claim that the airliner was indeed shot down by a Buk SAM system, but that it was the Ukrainian army’s SAM and not that of the rebels.

-A claim which admits that the rebels shot down the plane, but only because it was being escorted by Ukrainian fighter planes, implying that they thought it was a military flight.

All of this serves to distract from key questions such as how the rebels managed to get their hands on this system and operate it in the first place. If they did have the know-how to properly operate it, it suggests Russian military involvement. If not, then they were negligent.  Even if we accepted the unlikely idea that the Ukrainian military downed the plane, this would not change the fact that the rebels were responsible due to a conflict they started and continued even after the first cease fire and the offer of peace talks which went unanswered.

So it is with Russian media. Rather than actually present some coherent, alternative message, the new direction seems to be aimed at merely confusing every new story until nobody has a clue what is going on.  If Russia is called out for wrongdoing, the response is typically whataboutism. Not because the Russian government is terribly concerned about the rights of people living in Detroit or Ferguson, but simply because they trying to say, “Yes, we are bad, but everyone else is bad too, so we should all just mind our own business and continue being bad.”

Of course the obvious parallel in the US at least would be Fox News, but this is somewhat inaccurate. First of all, while Fox is known for neck-breaking political line shifts from time to time, the overall message is pretty much always consistent. Fox is a conservative network. It champions supply-side economics, deregulation, and neo-liberalism by gift-wrapping these concepts in patriotism, nostalgia, “family values,” and other trappings of American conservatism. How radical Fox News can be seems to be based on the party of the administration in the White House, but there has always been limits for Fox. The network will only follow libertarian populism so far. Its pundits have publicly repudiated birtherism.  Fox News promotes a sort of worldview which is, while invincibly stupid, quite simple and coherent. It generally consists of the following concepts:

-Liberals are destroying America and undermining its values.

-Religion, particularly Christianity, is under attack by secular humanists.

-The world is full of evil people who are trying to kill you, rape you, or possibly invite your daughter to a rainbow party.

-Look at this outrageous act that some liberal did!

-Certain people(wink, wink) are trying to cheat you by leeching off welfare. Also they like to play the knockout game.

-Guns are awesome and owning them makes you manly.

-MUSLIMS! OH NO!

I could go on, but by this point you could probably fill in the blanks yourself at this point.  Sure, Fox can be contradictory. When Bush was president we were told it was wrong, if not treasonous, to criticize the president during wartime. It was wrong to question the expansion of government surveillance; if you had nothing to hide there was no reason to worry. And anti-war protesters were limp-wristed cowards who wanted to see our troops lose. Then Obama was elected and the line reversed. It was patriotic to criticize the president. We were only a few precarious steps away from a full-on dystopian tyranny. And the pencil-neck hippies of the Bush years suddenly transformed into goose-stepping union “thugs” who were poised to form Obama’s new paramilitary force, designed specifically to root out Christians and strip them of their firearms.  Contradictory, indeed, but look closely. Positions shifted, but the general line is intact. Conservatives are under siege by godless liberals and their Muslim allies. They went from defense of Bush’s administration to an offense against that of Obama, but the narrative remains consistent.

Not so with Russia Today. RT’s line often varies from story to story. There is only one consistent feature. Everything is anti-Western. Whereas Fox News at least claims to stand for something, RT and much of Russia’s media, if not the Russian state itself, can only present itself as standing against things. None of these institutions actually stands for anything. Even when its ideologues babble on about “Russian civilization” or the “Russian world,” the words have no meaning. A few years ago it was “Eurasia” or “Russia’s special unique path.” Whatever the words, it’s always the same. They all boil down to being “anti-something;” it’s never about what Russia actually should be, but rather what it shouldn’t be. When you take that message to foreign audiences, you are setting yourself up for problems. This is particularly so in Russia’s case, where the type of propaganda which is needed to woo Russian citizens tends to clash ideologically with RT’s main foreign audience.

It’s no secret that RT mainly appeals to conspiracy theorists, right wing populists, neo-Nazis, fascists, and terribly confused leftists. Each of these groups sees in Russia some kind of champion for their cause against their own government, which they hate. From RT’s point of view, as well as those in the state who hold the purse strings, this seems like success. Nobody can deny the success of the network in terms of exposure, ratings, views, and followers. But as is the case with so many Russian government ventures, short term, low-value gains are favored over real substance. In other words, RT sets the bar low to attract masses of people who are largely useless to Russia’s interests, while simultaneously turning off anyone in the West who could exert influence on their governments in a manner more conducive to the interests of Russia.

RT’s main audience is numerous indeed, but largely ineffective, marginal in their own society, self-defeating, self-isolating, and ultimately impotent. On the internet, these people tend to be extremely vocal and active, creating the idea that there are masses of fed up Americans, Canadians, and Europeans who will at some point exert pressure on their governments. It has been theorized that some ideologues in Kremlin circles believe that they can create enough dissent in Western countries so as to bring down governments or at least highly cripple them and prevent them from blocking any sort of Eurasian ambitions of Russia. If they indeed believe this, they are at best naive, and at worst totally delusional.  For as loud as those “dissidents” are on the internet, I can say from experience that the vast majority of them are totally worthless from a political point of view. Think about it- If someone has thousands of posts and comments on multiple forums, often carrying on endless debates and arguments with random people from around the world, how much time do you think that leaves for real world activism. HINT: None.

Most of these people don’t get out in the streets, and they often have a myriad of excuses as to why. If they do anything in the real world, it usually involves joining some organization which inevitably consists of a handful of men who meet at a local restaurant once a month to bitch about how the world is screwing them. They feel marginalized, and they act marginalized. Some of them have achieved modest financial success, but a great many of them are either unemployed or work in dead-end jobs. Now I want to say at this point that I am not pointing that out in a pejorative sense. Whatever their beliefs and however abhorrent we may find them, the fact is that these people are highly alienated by life and that alienation is often what attracts them to bad ideas in the first place. But I point out their economic status because let’s be frank- We live in a capitalist society which puts more faith in the words and ideas of financially successful people than it does in those of people who work at Subway.

The other failure of RT is ideological. One thing about RT that I always found to be hilarious is that it is so beloved by libertarians in spite of being a state-run TV network. Libertarians have often served as guests on RT, and some even had their own segments. Libertarians as a whole reject the free-market, corporate-dominated Western media, preferring instead the state run network of a country which has a massive state sector, lots of government regulation, and even state-owned enterprises. Now I realize that any libertarian could simply say that it isn’t their concern as to what system Russia actually has, but this does not change the fact that they prefer what must be, according to their definition, a product of a “socialist” society. Furthermore, the libertarians and similar ideologues who so deeply adore RT do not acknowledge the contradiction between Russia’s system and their beliefs.

These people will typically dismiss any talk of Russia’s lack of freedom as propaganda, and then go on to insist that living in the US is real tyranny. Look, I’m the last guy who likes throwing the word freedom around without qualifying or defining it, but Russia is objectively less free than the US and many other countries. People have been investigated and sometimes arrested here, simply for writing the most innocuous things on their personal blogs. Some unfortunate individuals have been actually jailed or beaten by unknown assailants. I’m terribly sorry but this generally does not happen in the US or other Western countries. The Westboro Baptist Church enjoyed the protection of the First Amendment. The National Socialist Movement has often enjoyed police protection for its marches on dozens of occasions. Alex Jones runs a highly successful business based on telling people to prepare themselves to resist the government whenever they get around to implementing martial law and rounding people up into FEMA-run concentration camps. The two dipshits who made Loose Change, essentially accusing the government of murdering 3,000 people on 9/11, are still alive and well.

Meanwhile, in Russia, an activist was jailed for running a social media page demanding the same federalization rights that the Donbass rebels demanded in Ukraine. That’s right, you can be jailed for demanding the same kind of autonomy Russia was demanding for the Donbass and the Crimea, according to a law that was actually approved after the whole separatist mess started.  So no, I’m terribly sorry Mr. RT viewer, but it isn’t the same in America. As far as I know, nobody from the anti-government militia known as the Disciples of the New Dawn has been arrested for their Facebook page, one of many anti-government militia pages on the social network. None of them will be arrested until they actually break a law.

Props to Russia for not putting up with bullshit like this.

Props to Russia for not putting up with bullshit like this.

Another ideological conflict comes up when it comes to treatment of the Soviet Union. In Russia, the authorities haven’t managed to fully come out against the USSR. Of course their reasons for this have nothing to do with sympathy towards socialism. On the contrary, Russia has a reactionary regime with staggering wealth inequality and workers have few avenues to air their grievances. The government treats ordinary people with utter contempt. What they glorify in the USSR is the authoritarian side, the Cold War, and basically all the bad sides of the Soviet Union which eventually compounded until its demise. Of course this glorification creates unease with RT’s mostly right-wing audience, many of whom aren’t just anti-Communists but open neo-Nazis. If it weren’t for the tragedy that has taken place in Ukraine, one would almost be amused at the utter confusion of Western fascists as they observe the ongoing conflict with absolutely no background understanding of the two factions or their history. Indeed, watching them discuss it calls to mind a group of people watching a foreign film with no subtitles, in a futile effort to determine what is really happening. Which side do they choose? Sure, the Western media is always bashing Russia, meaning Russia must therefore be good, but then again Russia glorifies the Soviet Union and claims to be fighting fascists, specifically fascists who wear their old anti-Communist symbols and even Waffen SS insignia in some cases.  But Russia is, of course, bigger, and it’s anti-Western, anti-EU, anti-NATO. Which country is run by Jews, Ukraine or Russia? Which one is more under the control of Jews? And one need not be a neo-Nazi to have a knee-jerk negative reaction to the Soviet Union and Communist symbols. Indeed, it must take a great deal of fortitude for many RT viewers to side with the country that laments the destruction of Lenin statues and Red Army monuments, both being symbols that they hate.

All in all, RT’s audience consists largely of an incoherent mob; it is an alliance of convenience and little else. Russia has staked a lot on RT, and does seem to be putting more into its foreign news services, and therefore it is all the more tragic that these resources are so readily pissed away. RT could have been a decent alternative to networks like CNN or the BBC, which quite frankly are often biased on many issues.  Most American networks, for quite some time, have become utterly enthralled to the official press release, and there is a genuine fear, at least in the US, of challenging official information lest a network’s reporters be cut out of the loop for asking too many difficult questions. Up until recent times, Russia was an up and coming player in the world, with legitimate positions to put forth, and RT could have been the vehicle to articulate those positions. In the end, RT could have reached a new generation of movers and shakers, people seen as successful and influential in their respective societies, as well as people who are perceived to be intelligent by their peers. RT could have also broadcast a more realistic view of Russia, its problems, and its potential for success.  What a pity that this isn’t what we got.

No, what the Kremlin got for its money, indeed what they got for the Russian taxpayers’ money, is the network which willfully and enthusiastically chases the most useless, ineffective people. Worse still, it doesn’t offer anything to enlighten those people. It doesn’t present an alternative viewpoint, but rather it just spreads utter confusion among an audience consisting of people who spend most of their time on the internet and who are constantly angry about anything and everything. They are not critical thinkers, nor are they people with any influence, much less influence which could help Russia in some way. They certainly do not “question more,” to use RT’s motto, as they unquestioningly swallow anything that confirms their prejudices and is presented to them as counter-mainstream.  Hence, RT’s potential to benefit Russia was wasted when it could have been useful, and now it looks as if it has passed a point of no return. It will still rake in the ratings, the views, and the likes, but none of those loyal fans will be there to save the regime’s ass when the inevitable collapse happens.

Also…This.

The Greatest Story this Week

Aside from a lucky break recently, this week hasn’t been great. So imagine my delight when I saw this story in my newsfeed: Libertarian ‘Utopia’ Styled After Ayn Rand Book Spectacularly Falls Apart Almost Immediately.

Libertarians and their fellow travelers are fond of claiming that socialism has always failed wherever it has been tried. That’s a bit tough to tangle with as far as statements go, if only because the libertarian definition of socialism can, in some cases, extend to things like public roads or the post office. Then again, libertarians of all stripes are quite fond of making ridiculous assertions based on a priori assumptions.

In reality, “socialism” in various forms has “worked,” and if we count certain European social democratic welfare states as “socialist”(though I wouldn’t), you’d not only be compelled to admit that it works, but that it works well. Norway, after all, has the highest standard of living in the world. As for actual Marxist socialism, it was successful in the sense that virtually every country with a socialist revolution ended up better off than it was prior to their revolution, with relatively few very qualified exceptions.

Libertarianism, and particularly the more extreme and oxymoronic “anarcho-capitalism,” has by contrast never been implemented. To the extent that libertarian ideas have been put in place, life has sucked proportionately. And no, you can’t point to the neo-liberal United States as a refutation of this claim, because firstly, the US actually didn’t achieve its success due to neo-liberalism, and secondly, libertarians and anarcho-capitalists today tell us that America is basically a Communist totalitarian fascist state. Sorry, libertarians, you can’t pick successful states to support your views and then simultaneously declare them evil, socialist command economies just because they have a central bank.

So the gist of this article is that once again, libertarians attempted to create their own community and in the process fell for a con comparable to someone selling a piece of the Brooklyn bridge, or more appropriately, beachfront property in Arizona. The land they were supposed to buy was apparently, and a bit ironically, located within a protected area which was supposedly not fore sale. Whether it’s pure trusts or Bitcoin, libertarians and fellow travelers tend to be  a target demographic for scam artists.  They are suckers for conspiracy theories and the idea that the government is keeping some big secret from them, one which will make them get rich or achieve their dreams with very little effort. Therefore they won’t listen to lawyers, experts, official government sources, etc. when they explain why you can’t actually do such-and-such.

One interesting fact which the article didn’t seem to cover was the question of where these new expats would find work in Chile, where their community was supposed to be built. It’s clear that we’re not dealing with millionaires here, as some of the suckers buyers had to sell property or use all of their life savings to buy their plots of land. Nothing was said about how they would legally live in Chile and earn money there as well. Of course none of this was important. The important thing was liberty! And if the dream turned out to be nothing but a delusion well, there’s always a government to blame, in this case that of Chile.

Naturally the first response of any libertarian upon realizing he or she got ripped off is to go to a government court and try to achieve justice. At no time do they consider this ironic or hypocritical. They fail to realize that for a functioning capitalist system, you need a stable, strong state which can at the very least secure private property rights, and the courts that can facilitate this. When you don’t have that, you end up with something like Russia in the 90’s. Granted, some libertarians, known as miniarchists, are aware of this, but they are considered a little too “statist” by the radical, hip Reddit-driven movement of “anarcho-capitalists” AKA Ron Paul cultists between elections.

So once again libertarianism fails before its even implemented. But of course that’s just my opinion, and I am after all a worthless, gullible, sheep-like statist who worships the government and believes everything the mainstream media tells me. I’m not fit to own an official Warner Bros. Guy Fawkes mask.

We are legion! We have salmonella poisoning!

We are legion! We have salmonella poisoning!

Litmus test of Democracy

I once heard a Team Russia fanatic from Britain dismiss the difference between British and Russian democracy by claiming that British elections are totally predictable. Well yes, perhaps with thorough research and good polling they are, but they are predictable for entirely different reasons than Russian elections.  Russian elections are predictable because it is a corrupt system that carefully restricts who can run and where power is merely handed back and forth between two men at the top. British elections, like many others in functioning liberal democratic states, are predictable because there is this thing called rule of law. Allow me to explain.

This is the litmus test, and to do it I’m going to use the worst, most backward form of liberal democracy in the industrialized world, that being the electoral system of the United States. I haven’t been following US politics very closely and therefore cannot make predictions about the election in 2016. I’m pretty sure Hillary will get her party’s nomination, and I have no doubt this will be largely due to her and her husband’s connections and influence within the Democratic party. The Republicans will most likely put forth some flag-waving, Bible-thumping moron, and while I cannot predict his name I can tell you his campaign will consist of calling for lower taxes, claiming that Americans who want to start small businesses are unable to due to high taxes, and in between he will throw in all the buzzwords about family values, freedom of religion, and of course, personal responsibility.

We will all have to suffer through every minute of the campaign season, as the media relentlessly informs us of every single “gaffe” each candidate makes. Then in November the polls will open up, people will vote, and according to our backward and intentionally less democratic system, the person with the most electoral votes will become president the following January. I don’t know who that person will be, but I know how they will get to the White House.

Now here’s the test- When will Putin leave the presidency? How will he leave? Who will come after him? Nobody in Russia has a clue. Many analysts have their predictions but none of them can say for sure. What is clear is that Putin cannot go abroad, as he is surely wont to do if the life choices of his two daughters are any indication. He also cannot enjoy the many houses he has had built in Russia as a private citizen. If he does not retain control over the country’s military, police, and intelligence organs, he would be vulnerable. He knows that anyone taking power after him could potentially use him as a scapegoat and have him arrested on charges. The only way to prevent that is to remain in control of the state’s organs of force.  So while he might hand off power to his most trusted associate once more, he will still have to retain the office of the prime minister.

So there you have it. The litmus test of democracy. As much as American democracy sucks, I know what will happen in the years prior to 2016, I know how the next president will be elected, and then I know that president will serve four to eight years depending on whether or not they get reelected. In Russia, you can keep claiming that Putin is popular and people want him, but the fact is that nobody can explain how he will leave office, when, or what comes next. Many of his staunchest advocates assure us that chaos and collapse would follow the loss of a Putin presidency. Really? Why would that happen? Seems like a function democracy would be able to go from candidate to candidate without collapsing into ruin.  Furthermore, one could easily argue that the reason why many Russians “support” Putin is simply because they are aware of how helpless they are. In fact many, including among his supporters, flat out admit that they are afraid of what comes next. Why would you be afraid? We have shitty presidents in the US all the time, but at the end of the day you know the maximum they will ever serve is eight years before they get replaced by some other dipshit in a suit.

Russia fails the litmus test of democracy. When you’re an industrial country and you make the American democratic system look amazing by comparison, you have truly fucked up. And yes, I personally don’t consider any existing country to be truly democratic, but that doesn’t mean it’s a black and white system where you’re either democratic or not.  Some people point to China as a successful state without a liberal democratic system. Yeah well the key word is successful. China in 20 years has got results which Russia can’t even hope to match at this rate. Moreover, there is a lot more accountability in China when someone is busted for corruption, and from the look of it China has more spontaneous, organic protest movements, i.e. civil society.  Whatever we call the Russian system, it is neither democratic, nor does it get results.

Back to basics

This blog was created with the intention of taking on poor journalism about Russia, and wouldn’t you know it- I’ve found an excellent example. The idiotic headline reads: Vladimir Putin ‘As Dangerous As Stalin And Bigger Threat Than ISIS,’ Claims Former Defense Secretary.

The reader can take the time to go through that drivel if he or she should so desire. I’m only going to tackle one excerpt from this piece of shit.

Vladimir Putin poses a bigger threat than ISIS and is more dangerous than Joseph Stalin, according to former defense secretary Bob Ainsworth.

The senior Labour MP in Britain qualified his claims by saying that Putin so dangerous due to the fact he has a strong state and the military to achieve any ambitions he might have.

Apparently the author failed to mention that Mr. Ainsworth is also what the British refer to as a “right muppet,” at least on this topic.  First of all, Josef Stalin was barely dangerous at all from a foreign policy standpoint. The aggressors in the conflicts involving the newly-formed Soviet Union were the British, not the Soviets. At best one could claim that the Bolsheviks were trying to expand by conquering Poland in the Polish-Soviet War, but then again Stalin wasn’t general secretary at that time and he was highly dubious of that aim. In fact Trotskyites and other historians go so far as to blame him for the failure of the Red Army to take Warsaw, though as most stories about Stalin go, it’s largely bullshit.

As far as the US was concerned, the USSR was simply not a threat at all. The US military was more interested in contemplating and actually preparing for a war against Great Britain. The main worry about Communism was internal- that the militant labor movement would rise up in America.

Britain and France pussyfooted around with Stalin’s proposal of a collective security pact against Hitler from 1936 to 1939, even after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact. Evidence shows that the leaders of the former two countries were happy to encourage Hitler to go east in exchange for peace with the West, but at the same time they were willing to maintain at least cordial relations with the USSR. Of course from 22 June 1941 onward, Britain, the US, and the Soviet Union were allies, with the latter playing a key role in the defeat of fascism.

This means that the only time Stalin was a “threat” would have been in the post-war era, as the Cold War grew. However, he wasn’t much of a threat. Historians often like to lament the loss of Eastern Europe to the Soviets, as though these innocent countries were sacrificed to Stalin’s aggressive appetites. Nonsense. Finland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, the Independent State of Croatia, and Bulgaria were all either Axis members, or participated in the invasion of the USSR in some way. Finland managed to sign a peace deal and got out for a very low price. Romania and Hungary attempted to do the same, but the Germans forced the latter to fight on their side to the end. It’s also worth noting that all these countries were run by right-wing, often fascist dictatorships prior to their fall, a fact which needs to be considered later on.  The only country which doesn’t fit this mold is Poland, though that was previously ruled by a right-wing dictatorship which played games with Hitler and the West due to a delusional foreign policy aimed at creating a Polish state “between the seas”(the Baltic and Black seas). Getting back the the issue of right-wing governments, it’s important to remember that in the immediate aftermath of WWII, the USSR was actually quite popular and enjoyed a lot of prestige worldwide. By contrast, local nationalists and conservatives were often rightly seen as collaborators or members of the old order who sent their paltry armies off to die in the steppes for Hitler’s mad gambit.  In some places, Communists and their fellow travelers were the only force left standing.

It must also be remembered that in the aftermath of WWII, and indeed before it even ended in some cases, the Western allies were also working behind the scenes to create favorable political outcomes. Agents were dropped into countries like Poland and Albania, but the most glaring example was Greece in 1944. Here, local Communist forces had all but driven the Germans out of their country. British troops then arrived and removed them by force, re-installing the right-wing monarchy. No doubt this was instructive to Stalin, still contemplating the fate of Poland. At one point Stalin quipped that each side enforces its social system as far as its army can reach. This is often interpreted as Stalin tacitly admitting to using his army to influence politics, but it was actually in response to his negotiations with the US and UK over topics such as the fate of Italy and Poland.

More important than any of this is the fact that Stalin was actually quite naive when it came to the fate of post-war Europe. Geoffrey Roberts’ Stalin’s Wars reveals that Stalin was extremely keen on maintaining the Grand Alliance as long as possible after the war, knowing that his country sorely needed to rebuild itself. Stalin often hobbled more militant local Communist parties on the ground, insisting that they allow their opponents to break agreements first.

Long story short, if Stalin were truly so aggressive in the immediate post-war era, he certainly could have done far more. He could have occupied Austria, he could have kept Berlin, he could have taken more of Finland and possibly grabbed part of Greece, as well as more of Korea too.  At the end of the day, you can still claim Stalin was aggressive or sought to control lands, but he’s simply not the expansionist threat that British twit makes him out to be.  Sorry.

This isn’t the first negative comment either which has been made by a high-ranking British official, as Prince Charles said to reporters during a recent trip to Canada that he believes that Putin is as bad as Hitler.

Now Hitler is a guy who you can call aggressive. The guy practically ran on a platform of going to war with any European country that wasn’t Germany or its allies, and to his credit he then went out and pretty much did exactly that.  He didn’t just make war either, he went out and made vernichtungskrieg – a war of extermination.  To date, Putin hasn’t done anything of the sort. In fact his government still maintains a farcical appearance of competitive democracy, something the Third Reich never bothered with.  Hitler was a man who subscribed to what was a rather popular view in educated circles of that time, namely the social darwinist belief that some people were unfit to live and their extermination was not to be regretted. Putin is just a power-hungry man willing to do anything to remain at the top, largely because he is afraid of what will happen to him should anyone take his place.  Putin has no beliefs other than in Putin himself. More importantly, unlike Yeltsin he doesn’t murder his own citizens en masse.

This isn’t a defense of Putin. The problem is that when people cry Hitler when it’s so obviously inappropriate, people stop listening. They don’t take the time to learn and understand the situation. Worse, the Kremlin cronies seize on this as evidence of the “information war” being waged against Russia, which in their delusional little minds, means Putin.  I’m sure I’ve said it on this blog before. Putin is no Hitler. Putin is Mobutu Sese Seku.

Speaking of Mobutu, the argument that Putin leads a “strong state” is spurious as well. In fact he has a weak state which can’t get anything done without someone skimming off state funds. When you state can’t build a road without everyone down the chain taking his cut and forcing the project to go ridiculously over-budget, you do not have a strong state. And if the state wasn’t weak enough, Russian society is critically ill. It has never corrected the mentality of the 1990’s. If you’re American and you think that American society is dog-eat-dog, fuck them before they fuck you, you need to learn Russian and spend some time in a small town over here.  The kind of shit that goes down between people here makes our celebrity gossip look tame by comparison.  What this means is that when that shit finally does hit the fan, and we’re getting close now, rats are going to start jumping ship left and right. Everyone who can grab something by any means is going to take it. In the West, if you have 90’s nostalgia you go look at pictures on Buzzfeed. In Russia they have it so bad they’re literally going to go back to the 90’s, and the 90’s weren’t good here.

I think what these sensationalist morons fail to realize is that all these fear-mongering articles about Russia actually bolster the Putin regime. It’s not just that they dishonestly make the country out to be a dystopian nightmare that it simply isn’t, but Putin’s supporters actually thrive on this kind of fear-mongering. They want Russia to be feared, they want other countries to be afraid of them. They have nothing else in life and creating a stable, successful country is too much work and too dangerous. Therefore in a situation like that which we’ve seen in the past two years, many people put down their protest signs from Bolotnaya and line up behind the government. Now they can unleash all of their rage against NATO or America, which always gets government approval and is always safe.

Did somebody get paid for this?

Look at thisLook at it! Yeah I know it has fuck all to do with Russia but I can’t help but getting riled up about this article.

Let’s start with the headline, “White Supremacist ‘League of the South’ Set to Become America’s First Right-Wing Terrorist Group.”  Um…Nope. The KKK would probably be America’s first right-wing terrorist group. In more recent times, my choices would be The Order, the Aryan Republican Army, or perhaps various anti-abortion extremist groups tied to assassinations and clinic bombings.  So we’ve already fucked up there.

Next we get this opening:

We had to know this was coming — illogic seeks its illogical end. That’s how all terrorist groups form, and the white supremacist League of the South may be America’s first real lesson in the material costs of Right-Wing fascist “logic.” And before you roll your eyes accusing us of hyperbole — yes, this group could develop into the real deal.

So “illogic” seeking an illogical end is how all terrorist groups form. You know I actually brought my copy of Bard O’Neill’s Insurgency and Terrorism 2nd revised edition all the way across the Atlantic with me, and it’s still on my shelf today. I don’t remember reading anything attributing the formation of terrorist groups to “illogic” reaching an illogical end.  In the real world, terrorist groups form because their is a group which has a perceived grievance, they do not believe they can achieve their goals via peaceful, legal means, and they believe they can instead force a decision by resorting to violence. The conditions of their existence and their surroundings make terror tactics the only viable option available to them.

By no means is the League of the South America’s first lesson in the cost of right-wing fascist thinking. It’s hard to say what came first, of course. Was it thousands of needless dead in Iraq and Afghanistan? Was it our gutted welfare state or was it New Orleans during Katrina?  Maybe it’s our collapsing infrastructure. In any case, we’ve had violent right wing groups before. In fact, one individual involved with such groups carried out the largest domestic terrorist attack in American history. Maybe that should have been our first lesson, huh?

Also, in regards to the last sentence, in light of the fact that a couple of guys associated with far-right wing militia movements managed to build a bomb which destroyed a federal building and killed 168 people, maybe people aren’t too reluctant to believe that this could develop into “the real deal.”

Then there’s this:

At the LOS rally on “Southern Secession,” Meadows met with and formed a group calling themselves “The Indomitables,” which include only the most violent, extremist individuals among a much larger group of violent, extremist individuals.

If the name of Meadows’ paramilitary unit seems a bit…familiar…it may be because it brings to mind a similar group from WWII. Immortalized in Tarantino’s film of the same name, the Inglorious Basterds were a small group of ultra-violent guerrilla Nazi killers acting within enemy territory. The Right-Wing Indomitables, then, would be The Inglorious Basterds’ Nazi negative image, operating right here in America.

Are you shitting me? Does this guy actually believe that the “Ingloriou Basterds” were real? He said it “brings to mind a similar group from WWII,” but there was no similar group in WWII because these “Basterds” came from a movie. Furthermore, the author seems to be aware of the fact that the LOS “Indomitables” would basically be the opposite of the Basterds from the film, and therefore there is no reason why that name should ring such a bell. Is this just a sad attempt to shoe-horn a pop culture reference into the article? It certainly does nothing to inform us of the situation. Lastly, Indomitables and Inglorious have little in common other than the fact that they begin with the negative prefix in-. The former is positive, the latter has a negative implication. Therefore a more apt reference would be The Incredibles.  Personally I think they pinched their idiotic name from the Persian Immortals, not because they actually studied Persian history and therefore know their legacy, but because they watched 300, possibly while masturbating.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not scoffing at the danger of right-wing militia groups. I know all about the things these groups get up to and people do need to take them seriously. Perhaps if we had done so long ago, you wouldn’t have some Johnny-come-lately showing up in 2014 thinking that another group of neo-Confederate dipshits is America’s first right wing terrorist group.

As for the League of the South and their “Indomitables,” we’ll keep our eyes peeled. If they do put their money where their mouths are, their little insurrection will be put down quickly and probably not without a good deal of hilarity as well. Sure, destroying their compounds with missiles fired from UAVs may not be as satisfying as blasting them in the face with double canister, but this isn’t 1863, is it?

And as for this article, I have a sneaking suspicion that the author was actually paid for that.  And that fact is worse than ISIS.