Monthly Archives: April 2014

Ivan The Spiritual Jack of All Trades! Episode I: The Vet

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One day Ivan decided he wanted to open his own veterinary practice.  He truly loved animals. He easily could have gone to school to get qualifications, but that was too long, too much work, and he preferred to spend his money on video games and fancy objects.  Despite the fact that he had access to plenty of funds, he preferred to build his practice on the cheap. Thus he gathered the materials he figured he’d need to start his veterinary practice.  He found a rusty hacksaw, a filleting knife, a cutting board, some ibuprofen for anesthesia, and some duct tape.  His garage would serve as his office.

One day a young girl came with her mother. The girl was carrying a fat orange cat.  The mother looked around the garage with great skepticism and then asked Ivan, “Is this really a veterinary office?”

“Of course it is, ma’am! It’s the best veterinary office you’ll ever find in fact,” Ivan replied.

“But this doesn’t really look like a typical veterinary office.”

Ivan didn’t like that comment.

“What do you mean it doesn’t look like a typical veterinary office? You mean it doesn’t look like a typical Western veterinary office?”

“Western? Well I guess you could say that. But I’m sure they have those kinds of veterinary offices in Japan, Korea, or China too.”

“I assure you that this veterinary office is not only equal to any Western, particularly American veterinary practice, but it’s actually better,” Ivan proclaimed haughtily.  “You see, those Western veterinary offices might look clean and sterile, but they are cold and soulless.  In fact that’s precisely why I believe that the whole Western veterinary industry will soon collapse. I predicted that years ago.  My veterinary practice has soul! It is advanced…spiritually!

The mother and daughter exchanged confused looks at one another.

“Well okay,” the mother began, “Do you at least have proper, up-to-date surgical equipment?”

“Of course,” Ivan answered, gesturing toward his operating table. “State of the art! Just like a Western veterinary office! Especially an American veterinary office, which will surely fail some day due to its lack of spiritual values!”

“Err…Is that a hacksaw?”

“Did I say state-of-the-art? No I meant to say spiritual. My equipment has all been blessed with holy water, and you can see I’ve got some icons on the table behind the cutting board, next to that roll of duct tape.  So are we going to work together…or do you not appreciate spiritual values, possibly because you don’t have a soul?”

“Wellll,” the mother began hesitantly, “I’m in a big hurry. Muffins needs to be spayed. I figured this place would be cheaper.”

“You figured wrong. It is actually unbelievable expensive,” Ivan happily replied. “But you can pay after the operation is done.”

The mother attempted a reassuring glance at her daughter, who reluctantly handed the cat over to Ivan.

“Don’t worry, little girl,” Ivan said.  “I will take care of your cat just like a Western doctor! A soulless, decadent Western doctor who is also probably gay.”

“What was that?!” The mother cried.

“Nothing, nothing.  Just come back in two hours and your cat will be fixed.”

Two hours later…

Upon seeing “the patient” both mother and daughter screamed, the latter running from Ivan’s “office” in tears.   There, on the cutting board atop Ivan’s “operating table”  was Muffins, or shall we say the remains of Muffins. What was once a cat now looked something like a carved up Thanksgiving turkey with orange fur matted down with dried blood.  Internal organs were strewn about the table and floor.  The filleting knife was still stuck in the corpse of the cat, and the abdomen was hastily covered in twisted duct tape.

“Wha…What did you…d-do?”  The mother barely managed to get the words out.

“I spayed your cat, just like you asked. That will be $5000 now!” Ivan’s face beamed with pride.

“B-but…She’s dead! You butchered our cat! You’re a monster!”

Ivan became enraged.

“Who is paying you to say that? Is it the US State Department?! Your cat is alive, spiritually! I did a good job, spiritually! You, with your foreign mentality, cannot possibly fathom the depth of the true veterinarian’s soul! Do you think other veterinarians are better?  Look at this!” Ivan produced a newspaper clipping from his pocket.

“This is a story about an American veterinarian who got sued by one of his clients because their dog died in his office.  Why don’t you complain about him?  You see veterinarians have problems everywhere, but especially in America, and I’m better than those veterinarians because I have soul! I have spiritual values!”

“You’re insane,” gasped the mother.  “Absolutely insane!”  She tried to back out of the garage but suddenly she doubled over and began vomiting on the floor of the garage.  Luckily the state of the garage floor was such that her massive puddle of vomit was hardly noticeable amid the other debris and substances caked on top of the concrete. Still wretching, she stumbled to her car and somehow managed to drive off.

Ivan looked satisfied. They’re all out to get me, he thought to himself.  They are jealous of my traditional, spiritual veterinary skills! Just then Ivan turned toward you, the reader, and scowled.

“You just read an amusing story which involves the brutal killing of a cat! Is that what you soulless Westerners do for entertainment? You think killing cats is funny?  I bet you do! You have no soul! That’s the only reason why you don’t find me to be a sympathetic protagonist! You’re probably gay too.”

 

THE END?

Hurrrrr! JOURNALISM! IT ARE KEEP THE PEOPLE TO BE INFORMED! PANCAKES NOW!

Like many Russians, I don’t watch Russian TV. When I catch something from Russian news it is typically through Russian acquaintances on Facebook or the Russian social network VK. Needless to say, I see American news even more rarely.  Today I caught a clip of CNN and suddenly realized that yes, journalism can sink lower.

Obviously this isn’t going to be the best sourced article I’ve written since I’m talking about something I saw on TV in a waiting room. The super-diligent reader will surely know how to track down roughly the same story on one of CNN’s other venues, perhaps on its website. Basically the story was about how there are claims that Russian special forces are involved with the insurgents in cities like Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.  The proof?  Well the Ukrainian government in Kyiv furnished some photographs and a couple Russian passports, which CNN displayed during the story.  Okay, couple points here:

-The long-time reader of this blog should be aware that I loathe the Kyiv government. That being said, I don’t think anything produced by the Kyiv government or the Russian government should be dismissed offhand for that reason. Now having said that, CNN admitted these photographs were provided by the Kyiv government and made no attempt to challenge the rather ridiculous claims which came with them.  CNN apparently goes along with the US position that one side is automatically legitimate and has credibility.

-The photograph set consisted of what appeared to be a man with an unusually long reddish beard, supposedly taken during the Georgian War of 2008.  The man’s interesting fashion choice suggests he might have been on of the Caucasian troops fighting on the Russian side. I’m not sure where the Chechen troops of Ramzan Kadyrov fit into the Russian order of battle, but Chechens were involved in that war of August 2008.  The Kyiv government claims they have a photograph showing the same man in Donetsk recently. However I could see nobody in the photograph who resembled the man in question.  It’s also been nearly six years since that war. Yes, a guy in the Russian spetsnaz is likely to be a career man, but I’m still calling bullshit on this one.  Basically this government claim resembles something off of one of those conspiracy theory sites, e.g. This is the so-called Bin Laden in his jihad video.  But here’s Bin Laden in a Pakistani uniform talking to an American CIA agent! See the beard?  

-After CNN waded into Alex Jones territory, they quoted a NATO official who claimed the way the insurgents handle their weapons suggest professional military training.  Hmmm…Could that have anything at all to do with the fact that Ukraine had conscription until 2013? Ukraine’s armed forces supposedly consisted of 40% conscripts and 60% contract soldiers. Given Ukraine’s living standards it’s not hard to imagine why many men joined the army willingly.  It also seems to be a fact that in Russia at least, veterans often get involved in political organizations.  It’s also possible that there are some Russian nationals there who happen to be veterans.  That’s a far cry from Russian special forces orchestrating everything.

-Barring the fact that many of these insurgents could have had military training, since the people most likely to want to engage in armed insurgency would naturally be those who already had military training, I’m forced to ask as to how these outside observers knew that these men were handling their weapons in a professional manner? For one thing, it’s not rocket science.  The US Army trains recruits to handle an qualify with their weapon during one three-week phase of basic training.  Moreover, airsoft is a very popular, serious sport in both Russia and Ukraine.  I’ve done airsoft training with individuals who were formerly involved in the police and military.  It doesn’t take a lot to handle weapons in a competent manner, though a civilian is unlikely to know either way.  Honestly what do they expect non-Russian spetsnaz citizens to do? Hold their Kalashnikovs backwards or upside-down?

I know at this point I might sound a little RTish, but these are all legitimate responses to this ridiculous form of “journalism.”  If Russian journalists invited their counterparts in the West to air their videos “proving” the presence of “Blackwater” contractors in Ukraine, they’d be laughed at by CNN.  Indeed they should be. But these idiotic claims coming from the Kyiv government, with evidence just as flimsy, were reported with almost total deference and not a hint of skepticism.

Goddammit, RT!

Recently a friend shared a link to this story about wealth inequality in the US. On the sidebar to the right, we see headlines like “Inequality gap between super rich and poor continues to widen,” “World ‘great’ for billionaires at Davos, rampant inequality still threat,” and “​Make the money, make the laws: Congress has more millionaires than ever – report.”  In the main article, it quotes part of a report that say “Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts.”

Now all these things are true and I’m glad someone is reporting these. There’s just one problem. See there’s this other country which has been characterized by the staggering gap between its rich and poor since its founding in 1991. A country where, as a recent report claims, 40% of the wealth is owned by 110 individuals. It is a country where, had that wealth been better distributed, the standards of living might easily represent those of a Western European country. It is a country where the level of citizens’ participation in government decisions is even lower than in the United States, where you at least get to see some different faces in the presidential elections. If only I could remember the name of that country.

This is what makes it hard for me to get behind RT and many Russian political causes, even when we seem to be in total agreement. The problem is a difference in motives. To RT, wealth inequality is a huge problem so long as it is in the USA.  Now RT fans will most likely respond with the fact that America often condemns “human rights violations” only in those countries with which is has some kind of political beef, while ignoring those of its allies or at least not threatening them over the issue. That is 100% true, but it still doesn’t change the fact that RT and the Russian government has the same double standards.

If you’re against double standards, don’t apply them, period. This is not rocket science.

Some guy from a think tank said…

Pretty much anything coming from the CATO institute can pretty much be dismissed out of hand.  You already know how it will read. The answer is less government regulation. Let the free market decide. Let’s all put our entire lives in the hands of businessmen and their personal profit interest will somehow benefit us all, just like it did in Victorian Britain.  Anything CATO might say that is objectively true can most likely be found coming from a dozen other sources which aren’t otherwise full of shit.

Now when it comes to an article with the headline “Vladimir Putin ‘wants to regain Finland’ for Russia, adviser says,” you might ask why I even bring up the CATO institute. Well as it turns out, the former adviser to Putin now works as an adviser to CATO.  I’m not going to get deep into CATO’s position on Russia, but suffice to say it is typical free trade bullshit complete with a suggestion that Russia get off the ruble. I’m not sure what they’re supposed to use instead.  Might they suggest that a major industrial power use a foreign currency? Could they actually believe that any country not experiencing Zimbabwe-like conditions would take such a proposal seriously? I don’t know and I don’t care.  Suffice to say that the adviser, one Andrei Illarionov, is ridiculously alarmist.

The hysteria-inducing article is clearly bullshit, predicated on the idea that Putin is planning to restore the Russian Empire. For the historically challenged, that was larger than the Soviet Union, even after the annexation of the three Baltic States.  Much like how Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait was naturally supposed to be a precursor to an idiotic invasion of Saudi Arabia, it is just assumed that Putin’s moves in the Crimea will lead to an invasion of Ukraine. This article takes it one step further into idiocy and suggests that he will basically invade every former Soviet territory. Shit why stop there? Why not say he’s going to go after all the former Warsaw Pact countries as well?

Of course at this point someone will say, “but the source was an adviser to Putin himself!” Right, which means he can get all kinds of fat deals from various think tanks and governments so long as he tells them what they want to hear.  One thing Putin is certainly not, is an idiot.  He’s the smartest man in the Russian government by far.  He knows there is no way he can pick a fight with NATO over Finland. Finland alone could make the Soviet performance of the early phase of the 1939 Winter War look like a smashing success on par with Operation Bagration.

One disturbing quote comes from the end of the article:

“We must offer resistance by all means available,” he said. “I’m not a bloodthirsty person, but there is sometimes no other way than military power to stop an opponent. The only answer to pure aggression is demonstrating willingness to offer a collective defence.”

This is why you should tell libertarians to fuck off when they swear that they’re anti-war.  Yeah yeah, I know not all libertarians support the views of the CATO institute, but those who don’t tend to be even more batshit insane, self-entitled, and utterly detached from reality.  The ideology has no redeeming qualities because it is essentially a bullshit worldview concocted by intellectuals funded by the super-rich, for distribution among the middle and working classes.

And Andrei, if you want a war, I suggest you pick up a weapon.

 

A good article

I can’t say there is nothing in this article I could contest, but it is a great article nonetheless.  It’s nice to see some actual reason and balance from time to time.  Unlike the Crimea, where actual Russian troops were involved, the situation in the East and South of Ukraine is essentially the same as Maidan.  You can claim that Russia is influencing the movement, but the same can be said of the US and EU and their hand in the Maidan movement. At this point they are essentially the same. You can’t idolize one set of protests as totally spontaneous and allowed to break the law with impunity, and then condemn another protest for doing the same thing. If the influence of more powerful nations is repugnant to you, then you should oppose the system in which powerful nations get to treat smaller nations as political footballs, i.e. capitalism.

Anyway, here’s the link to the fine article.

Yes, they are fascists.

A common meme coming from apologists of Maidan states that Russia’s cries of fascism within their movement constitute nothing but baseless propaganda.  Some of the slightly more honest among these individuals will admit to the existence of what they call “fringe” groups like Praviy Sektor, while totally ignoring larger, more influential organizations such as the Svoboda party.  In case you continue to doubt the involvement of fascism in Ukrainian politics, take a look at what happened when Ukrainian nationalists attempted to attack an anti-fascist meeting…in Chicago.  No, there’s no Chicago in Ukraine.

Most interesting is that they left a propaganda leaflet explaining their ideology. An examination of the leaflet openly proclaims textbook fascist ideas. In the past, groups like this in Canada and the US learned to conceal certain less-palatable aspects of their hatred, but while they don’t call out their enemies such as Jews and Russians, it’s quite clear that this is a right wing movement which would exclude anyone who falls outside their arbitrary definition of nation.   The text also truly highlights the intellectual bankruptcy of Ukraine’s “patriots,” as it is largely a literary clusterfuck of mystical bullshit.  Today’s Ukrainians, particularly the nationalists of Galicia, have no real, concrete connection to Kievian Rus or the Cossack Hetmanate any more than the modern Englishman is connected to a pre-1066 Saxon peasant.

But I’m sure this organized attack was nothing but a “provocation” engineered by Russia’s intelligence services, who of course are well known to have a strong presence in the Windy City. Right, Tim Snyder?

On that note I’d like to say one more thing on the topic of calling various groups fascists.  There seems to be a bizarre form of “logic” dominating Russo-Ukrainian relations at the moment, whereby some partisans of Maidan seem to be literally suggesting that the presence of fascists in Russia(and there are many) somehow negates the existence of those in Ukraine, and perhaps vice versa on the part of many of Team Russia’s fans.  If you hold either belief, you are a complete imbecile and should not be allowed to operate heavy machinery for the sake of public safety.

Pictured: Load of bullshit written by a complete and utter moron.

Pictured: Load of bullshit written by a complete and utter moron.

German Buttrage

Looks like I got duped.  I saw this link headline from Der Spiegel which read “Why it is time to stop romanticizing Russia,” and naturally I had to click.  After all, combating romantic delusions about Russia of all sorts is the raison d’etre of Russia Without Bullshit.  When I read the article, however, I realized that it was more of a bitter rant. That was especially clear when I ran across this:

But Russia isn’t Europe, and it never will be. Russia never went through any period of enlightenment after the destruction wrought by Stalin on the country’s soul. Germans never seriously considered that fact, because it would have interfered with their image of Russia.

The author seems to consider himself quite liberal and progressive, yet it seems he can barely stop from going full Afred Rosenberg here.  Unfortunately science isn’t able to measure destruction to the “souls” of countries. Furthermore, the Soviet legacy which is most alive in Russia today is really a product of the Brezhnev era, not Stalin. He also ignores the extent to which Stalin’s USSR was affected by wars and threats of wars, the most notable of which being led by Germany.

"The Asiatic-Slavic Mongoloid is simply incapable of appreciating the genius of Pussy Riot."

“The Asiatic-Slavic Mongoloid is simply incapable of appreciating the genius of Pussy Riot.”

I wince whenever I hear Europeans dividing the world into enlightened “Europe” and the other; they may not say it, but the old colonial ideas about the superior West vs. uncivilized savages are still alive and well.  True, Germans have done much to acknowledge and analyze their guilt for the Third Reich, but how many today know about the crimes of the Second Reich, i.e. the German Empire, and their genocide against the Herero and Nama peoples of Africa? In Belgium, the de jure capital of the EU, there are still monuments to the butcher of the Congo, King Leopold II. The fact that Europeans and EU propagandists still very openly promote the idea of Europe = superior refutes the idea that they have truly learned from their colonial legacy.  Russia’s current imperialist actions are rooted far more in the Tsarist ideology and the desire to equal those great former colonial empires of Europe than the internationalist Marxist ideology of Stalin.

The rest of the rant goes on to attack Russians for not embracing liberal values and idolizing figures which were popular in Germany and the West, such as Gorbachev and Pussy Riot.  I find this to be an example of liberal abdication of responsibility.  These liberal Europeans and some Americans wish to set themselves up as guardians of human rights and liberty throughout the world, but when they fail, it’s because those stupid unwashed masses just didn’t get it, and they never will because they’re not European.  Ironically, the writer’s attitude very closely resembles the popular attitude that Russians have toward Ukrainians, which has once again come to a head. In the case of the author, good, urban, English-speaking Russians who studied abroad and act “European” are good, but now that they’re not so prominent the author decides to write off the whole country as backward.

Before getting deeper into this let me make something absolutely clear. Speaking in the broadest terms, the problems of Russia going back to Perestroika are not the fault of anyone but the Russian and Soviet peoples.  Neither the USSR, nor the Russian Federation were ever the kind of small banana republic which could be overthrown via a military coup.  Many of America’s intelligence agents were caught off guard by the Soviet collapse, though to be sure their careers were dependent on the Soviet Union’s continued existence.  Indeed, Gorbachev was a weak, spineless, and naive individual but he could not have succeeded had it not been for the failure of his opponents and the people themselves. Same goes for Yeltsin. I’m prefacing my analysis with this statement because while I believe that Russians must take responsibility for their plight, I think that Westerners of all political stripes who lament the failure of “Russian democracy” or liberalism ought to consider their roles, and their negligence, in the making of post-Soviet Russia.

One of the most striking things which made an impression on me as a young man witnessing the end of the Cold War was how reality differed from what our leaders and media had promised. The idea in the late Cold War was that one way or another, the USA and USSR would put aside their ideological differences and work hand in hand for the betterment of the world. When the USSR collapsed and socialism(de jure) no longer reigned, this seemed even more likely. With ideology out of the way, surely Russia and the USA would become the best of friends. We even had the same colors, after all.  This, of course, didn’t happen.

Nobody seemed concerned that Russia’s population had virtually no understanding of capitalism and markets; the recommendation was privatize as fast as possible.  As the country descended into chaos, the best answer Western commentators seem to have been able to come up with was “they did it wrong.”  Much of the Western press continued to praise Yeltsin, even when he sicced tanks on the parliament in Moscow in October of 1993 and even as he conducted the Chechen war.  Western businessmen flocked to Russia to get bargains and take advantage of destitute women. The era became known as “the wild 90’s,” as though it was some big party. Russia’s humiliation was most fortunate for others.

And what about the rise of right wing, reactionary ideology in Russia? Surely that can be blamed solely on the Russian people right?  Not quite.  In the wake of the Soviet collapse, all manner of religious fanatic missionaries and political cranks of the West descended upon Russia.  Right wingers, neo-Nazis, holocaust deniers, and other scumbags flocked to Russia to take advantage of naive young minds, and avail themselves of desperate women who couldn’t afford to care if their prospective husband was a hated fascist-sympathizer in his native country.  The common right-wing myth was that having now been liberated from Communism, Russia would embrace “traditional” values that the West has abandoned. Sound familiar? Even today, Russia’s Western partisans and Kremlin intellectuals hilariously declare that Russia is rising while the West will collapse any year now due to its evil “tolerance.”  They’ve been saying it for over 20 years, much longer in fact.

The author of the Spiegel piece lashes out against Russia’s fascist movements, totally forgetting that this movement doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It has always been intimately connected with Europe’s “New Right” organizations and parties, many of which seem to be immune to the various “hate speech” laws in European states.  What about Russia’s homophobia? It got a lot of help from American evangelicals.  Incidentally some of those same people are bolstering the Russian government’s laughable delusion that Russia will some how usurp the West due to its “spiritual values,” post-apocalyptic wasteland and endemic corruption notwithstanding.

Surely Western liberals can’t be responsible for the actions of their right wingers, right? Well not quite.  Unlike most liberal authors, the writer of this piece actually managed to take a swipe at Alexander Solzhenitsyn.  He pulled his punch, of course.  Originally Solzhenitsyn was the darling of the Cold War West.  Then it turned out that he wasn’t an advocate of liberal freedoms or the Western system.  Solzhenitsyn’s ideal society was authoritarian, highly religious, and anti-Semitic. Rather than call Solzhenitsyn out as a reactionary, delusional individual with fascistic leanings, it seems most of the liberal West to this very day prefers to continue lavishing him with praise and keeping silent about his darker side.  Maybe if liberals hadn’t invented the ridiculous version of “totalitarianism,” where fascism and Communism were equated, they wouldn’t have so readily embraced anyone and everyone who seemed useful in their ideological battle against Communism.  After all, some people oppose capitalism and liberalism because they are Marxist socialists who want to progress beyond that mode of production, and fascists were typically those who wanted to turn back to the clock.

But then again, the West did indeed whitewash and liberalize almost any anti-Communist “freedom fighter” during the Cold War.  Vile Nazi collaborators and the authors of atrocities, with the help of emigre organizations, were transformed into “freedom fighters” who actually fought for liberal democracy against Hitler and Stalin. Their atrocities were either pinned on the Germans or said to be fabrications of the NKVD.  Similar claims, had they been made by Germans, would be met with accusations of blatant Holocaust denial.  In the history of former Soviet peoples, supposedly the victims of Muscovite occupation, it’s par for the course.

That brings up another point. Did Cold War liberals or their progeny even care as to whether or not Russians understood their liberal values? One common theme of Cold War propaganda, was that Communism was inherently Muscovite and Russian.  Polish people couldn’t be Communist. If they were, they were total puppets of Moscow. The Pole, the Ukrainian, the Czech, etc. are all inherently, almost genetically anti-Communist.  And why is this so? Well because they are so Western! That was the tragedy of the Cold War and the Soviet Bloc, that all these enlightened Western people were supposedly ruled by the backward, Asiatic Muscovite barbarian.  As the Soviet Union broke up, the dichotomy of West vs. East was revived, and suddenly countries which in my youth had always been called Eastern European suddenly moved to a new location known as “Central Europe.”  Countries too far East to be called Central European, such as Ukraine, magically became countries “bordering Central Europe,” with no mention of which side of Central Europe they bordered.  Obviously liberalism’s own history, written by liberals, is full of distortions, half-truths, and a fair bit of nonsense. But I question to the extent to which these supposedly enlightened intellectuals even attempted to educate Russians on their beliefs, especially when they were happy to dabble in old colonial “race science” and promote nationalism in service of Cold War goals.

It is particularly maddening that a German here is washing his hands over what happened in Ukraine.  The truth is that nationalism and Maidan were far more intertwined than Western commentators are willing to admit. But a large portion of that nationalism wasn’t exactly the hardcore fascism of Svoboda or Praviy Sektor. A common theme, promoted by the EU and its partisans, was that Ukraine had to choose between “Europe” and “Russia.”  Go West or go East, the idea being that if Ukraine didn’t choose the EU’s Association Agreement, it would be “Eastern” and other, uncivilized.  This attitude shines through in a lot of the Maidan reportage, as well as the signs and slogans of Maidan.  The EU is basically Germany, and Germany promotes this Eastern inferiority idea.  Colonialism is alive and well.

Sure, dozens of NGOs worked in Russia, many of them probably trying to spread liberal ideas, but clearly something went wrong when Russia’s famous liberals include people like Valeriya Novodvorskaya, who praised Apartheid and the invasion of Iraq, or Alexei Navalny, who promotes nationalism and ethnic hatred. And what about the author’s beloved Pussy Riot?  Western feminism may have its flaws, but Russia’s “feminism” apparently consists of women carrying out an orgy in a museum, and in one case one woman shoving a frozen chicken into her vagina as “performance art.”  At their best, Pussy Riot plays shitty music in public places, their lyrics often inaudible or incoherent, then they release a viral clip where the music has been dubbed over the video, so as to suggest that passers-by could actually understand the message.  Why is it that Western feminists get to struggle to be treated with dignity, but Russian feminism is supposed to entail humiliation and publicity stunts? Have Russian and Eastern European women not suffered enough in the past twenty years?  It would seem that according to liberals, the Western feminist deserves support and respect regardless of what she says, how she dresses, or how she looks, but Russian or Ukrainian feminism must consist of stripping and loud, incoherent publicity stunts, i.e. things which are entertaining for Westerns, particularly men.  Given this situation, is it really so incomprehensible to Western liberals that Russian women aren’t crashing the gates to become “feminists,” so that they too can shove frozen chickens inside themselves?

When it comes to the West, we have far more figures to choose from when it comes to politics.  We don’t have to line up and praise Warren Buffet or George Soros because there are radicals like Noam Chomsky or Chris Hedges.  In Russia to be a liberal you’re expected to praise robber barons like Khodorkovskiy or right-wing populists like Navalny.  By contrast, during the Iraq War many American neo-Nazi groups declared that they were against what they considered “a war for Israel.” In spite of this, leftist anti-war groups did not make any common cause with them due to ideological principle.  Again, Westerners get the luxury of having political principles and choosing their ideological figures, Russians are supposed to make do with anyone and everyone who voices an opinion against Putin.  Not a good way to build a coherent opposition.

Western liberals can’t understand why they aren’t liked by Russians, totally forgetting that liberalism and “democracy” is typically associated with the humiliation and suffering of the 90’s.  I have never seen any concerted effort by Western liberalism to acknowledge its role in sullying its own purported values in Russia.  They lament the growth of fascist movements while ignoring those which are conveniently helpful, as those in Ukraine, or ignoring the fact that it was they who promoted the idiotic idea that “Stalin was worse than Hitler.”  When you tell Russians that Communism was slavery and the worst thing to ever happen to their country, is any wonder that they will start identifying with anti-Communist figures in history? And given that the most radical anti-Communists were all either reactionaries or full-blown fascists, is it surprising that those figures wind up being turned into heroes, especially when Cold War propaganda might have also elevated them to the status of martyrs or “freedom fighters?”  And what of the revival of Stalin we’re always told about? My experience shows that this love of Stalin isn’t connected to any deep knowledge of the Stalin era, much less his politics.  From Gorbachev onward, Stalin became the go-to answer for every social ill in the Soviet Union and then in Russia afterwards. Even the author of the Spiegel article blames Stalin for Russia’s current state.  I have rarely seen a single social ill in Russia that hasn’t been pinned on Stalin by this or that liberal author, either Russian or foreign.  The revival of Stalin as a symbol has nothing to do with the real Josef Stalin; it’s really a revolt against what Russia interprets as liberalism, and Russia’s understanding of liberalism was constructed by Western liberals.

Liberals, even in recent times, continue to sully themselves in the eyes of Russians by praising the 1990’s in Russia as democratic, and generally acting as if this state of affairs was preferable to Putin’s administration.  There are people, some of whom are involved in Russian politics, who want Russians to ignore the violence, destitution, and prostitution of the 1990’s simply because that era was supposedly more “democratic,” a highly spurious claim itself.  The Russian reaction to this is entirely understandable as it is logical. If all those social ills of the 90’s supposedly represent “democracy” and liberalism, then to hell with both!

It is clear in the end that when the author speaks of “romanticizing Russia,” he’s basically telling his fellow Germans to stop believing these people are civilized. There’s no hope. They’re savages.  There’s a different way to deal with them, but the author avoids saying what it is.  This is the problem with this whole concept of the “enlightened” West.  The intelligentsia wants the rest of the world to emulate and aspire to it, but they must accept it without question. Westerners do not have to answer for their mistakes and blunders.  If some nation doesn’t immediately recognize their moral superiority for any reason, fuck ’em. They’ll never get it. It reminds me of how Europeans will condemn and often try African war criminals while never even thinking to indict their European backers who gave them money and arms. The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Russia’s government tries so hard to impress the West, and pouts when they don’t respond to their displays of affection. European liberals apparently do the same thing to Russia.