Monthly Archives: August 2014

Passive-Aggresive

One of the most pathetic stories coming out of Russia as of late is the random temporary closing of various McDonald’s restaurants in Moscow and other parts of Russia. These closures were attributed to “sanitation” concerns after some surprise inspections which coincidentally started happening after the announcement of the foodstuffs ban. If you’re familiar with life in Russia, you already know that the phony reasons behind this pathetic, impotent, passive-aggressive swipe are bullshit. But in case you aren’t familiar, here are the tell-tale signs. 

-These surprise inspections have thus far only taken place in McDonald’s restaurants, some of them prominently located in the center of Moscow. Subway, Papa John’s, Starbucks, and Burger King appear to be totally unaffected.  

-It’s very clear from the response that McDonald’s is seen as a symbol of America. Some of these dipshits may believe that it is somehow vital to the American economy. Of course in reality the people most hurt by this are all Russian, from franchise owners, to workers, to the people who just need to take a piss and can’t find a public toilet.  

-There are plenty of restaurants far less sanitary than McDonald’s. I don’t want to suggest that Russian restaurants, at least in the center, are unsanitary.But outside of Moscow many of these places leave much to be desired and any McDonald’s would kick their ass in terms of sanitation any day. 

-If Russia’s sanitation experts are concerned about public health, I recommend they visit the waiting room of the main hospital in Chekhov, Moscow region. The “patient’s” toilet had no seat, there was no toilet paper, and there was no soap. This is a fucking hospital.

Of course this is being treated as some kind of massive triumph by the “patriotic” crowd, which coincidentally shares a great deal of overlap with the Russian McDonald’s consumer demographic, as well as the “paid money to avoid army service” and the “went to Barcelona rather than the Crimea” demographic groups.  If only they were cognizant of how stupid and pathetic this looks. If only they took to heart reality- that this impotent, passive-aggressive move was taken in emotional haste, and thus actually hurts Russians rather than anyone else.  Just like with the foodstuffs ban, your business or job can suddenly disappear overnight because some men who couldn’t reduce their constant stealing just a little so as to build a stronger, more influential country get insecure on the global stage.  

Don’t worry though. Reality will start to set in soon enough, and when it does watch for all those “liberals,” “oppositionists,” “democrats,” and “dissidents” to suddenly appear.  They’re the same people who sat up and begged when master pretended to give you a couple crumbs off the table, actually robbing you in the first place.  As for me, I’m giving those folks my pre-emptive “Fuck you.”

 

 

Off Topic: The Gun Nut

The topic of today’s post comes from Gin & Tacos. If it hasn’t come up in your newsfeed yet, the story is about a shooting range instructor in Kingman, AZ who was killed when a 9 year old girl lost control of what appears to be a 9mm Mini-Uzi and shot him in the head. Why did I bother to point out that it was a Mini-Uzi instead of just writing Uzi? Well because the Mini-Uzi is smaller, lighter, and thus arguably more difficult to control in full-auto, particularly when you are a 9 year old girl, thus making this accident all the more infuriating. As far as I’m concerned, though the girl actually pulled the trigger, this instructor basically killed himself. 

As you can see in the video, the instructor is not holding the weapon when the girl fires it, even when he tells her to go full auto.  Of course pointing that out is ignoring the elephant in the room, especially considering that this is not the first time we’ve seen a fatal accident involving a young child and an Uzi. The real issue here is whether children of that age should be handling firearms, and the answer should be a flat out “no.”  

Now me saying that children of 8 or 9 shouldn’t handle firearms on a range would likely trigger massive bowel-destructing pants explosions among many in the US. “Surely,” they will say with righteous indignation, “if we restrict firearms usage for children under 10 or even worse, 16, the government won’t stop there. Next it will be 18, and then 21, and finally they’ll scrap the whole 2nd Amendment, confiscate everyone’s guns with the help of deputized urban gang members(wink, wink!), and then make the knockout game legal!” If the reader is skeptical as to whether such a proposal would garner such an irrational reaction, it is only because you do not know the American gun nut.  

Gun nut gets thrown around a lot, but I feel that few people really bother to understand what the term means. I keenly realize that for this reason, a casual observer could easily mistake me for a “gun nut,” given my firearms knowledge and experience. I have fired all sorts of different weapons from a lowly .22 to a Browning M2 .50 cal. Truth be told, however, all romantic notions about guns left me after some time in the army. For one thing, the US Army has an uncanny ability to make any seemingly exciting activity incredibly boring, to the point where you just want it to end. Both times I had to qualify with my M249 were welcomed strictly for a change in pace; but with few exceptions the day as a whole was painfully tedious. I think my drastically less-than-stellar military career instilled a sense of maturity toward firearms in me. I also acquired an extremely strict sense of safety consciousness when it comes to firearms. So just because I can, if necessary, speak at length about my experiences owning and/or firing all sorts of different firearms, there is a world of difference between myself and the gun nut, and I shall explore that difference henceforth. 

Is a gun nut someone who is highly knowledgeable about guns? Hardly. The gun nut isn’t merely knowledgeable about guns. He obsesses over every little detail. Not only that, he constantly needs to remind everyone about his knowledge. He’s the kind of guy who just relishes the opportunity to tell someone that “it’s a magazine and not a clip.” If someone calls for restrictions on “assault rifles” after someone guns down multiple people with an AR-15, he’s the first to loudly point out that this AR-15 could not possibly be considered an “assault rifle” because the murder weapon did not have full-auto capability, and the rigid taxonomic nomenclature of firearms categorically demands that feature in order to be included in the assault rifle species. 

The gun nut needs to flaunt his knowledge, no matter how incorrect or semantically-based it is, because guns are the foundation of his masculinity. In this part of his life, his psyche, he never matured past that teenage boy phase, when a fascination with firearms is understandable. He needs you to know that he’s knowledgeable about guns, and the more ignorant you are about them the more superior he feels. Did you just call an AK47 a “machine gun?” Of course you would. He’s a real man because he’s got an AR-15 with Magpul after-market parts and a Trijicon ACOG sight. But see he doesn’t merely own an AR-15, he “runs” an AR. Some weekends he “runs” an AK.

He’ll take all kinds of tactical courses, just in case he has to defend his wife and kids from an all-out urban guerrilla assault that turns his suburban neighborhood into the Sunni triangle. He learns fire and movement, the “urban” prone position, and his instructor was a veteran Army Ranger so, you know, it’s as if he can claim Ranger training himself! When he hears about the latest spree shooting, he imagines what he would do in that situation. If only he had been in that Aurora movie theater when that batshit-insane punk, Holmes, came in and opened fire. If he had been there with his trusty Glock, er, secondary weapon, he would have triple-tapped that disturbed young man, two in the body, one in the head. Mozambique drill, baby. 

Of course he is a responsible gun owner. He always practices safety when he’s out in the desert shooting at old refrigerators, perhaps cracking open a few beers with his buddies while they do it. When showing a gun to a small child or some girl he met at a Toby Keith concert, he’s sure to prattle on about safety and the fundamentals. Of course when he’s out with his buddies he can relax a bit. After all, these are real men and they are all expert firearms handlers. He’s pretty sure Brad already ran a chamber check on that weapon. No need to be a pussy and check again. And of course he keeps his guns loaded all the time, just in case. What? You don’t think that gun needs to be loaded when you’re snowed in at your private cabin in the woods? Why? Are you uncomfortable around guns?

The thought of losing his guns terrifies the otherwise fearless gun nut. He’s sure that any given year the Democrats are going to introduce some sweeping legislation that will lead to his precious guns being confiscated. In fact he’s been sure the Democrats have been about to do just that for the past twenty years or so. Every mass shooting he’s waiting for it, the confiscatory gun ban that never comes. Of course that didn’t stop the bastards from attempting to restrict the manufacture and sale of magazines(not “clips,” dammit!) with a capacity of over 15 rounds. That’s how it started in Germany right? Remember hi capacity magazines in the Third Reich or occupied Poland? I didn’t think so. That’s because first they came for the mags, then they came for the Jews! 

To the gun nut, everyone must know that he owns guns and knows a lot about them. He must have gun-themed bumper stickers on his truck. He wears t-shirts with gun manufacturer logos, Heckler and Koch, Colt, Fabrique Nationale. Well okay not that last one, sounds a bit “faggy.” But dammit if that FN P90 they make isn’t sexy as hell. Any criticism of his constant gun talk, gun-themed wardrobe, library, or dining room table centerpiece is taken as a sign of your unmanly, pathetic discomfort around guns.  You probably can’t even tell the difference between an AKM and an AK74! Maybe you’ll learn some time after your testicles drop. 

Of course the whole family needs to be involved too. Mom needs to have firearms training to defend the home while daddy is away. If something goes down when they are out in public, daddy will rely on mommy to cover his movement and vice versa. The two boys, aged 8 and 9 and named Cody and Travis de facto if not de jure, pose in front of the Christmas tree with their most recent presents- Ruger Mini-14 carbines. They’d been dreaming of getting their own weapons ever since a couple years ago when daddy brought them Machine Gun Inventors coloring books from the gun show. Even the apple of daddy’s eye, 12 year old Madison, has a light weight Smith and Wesson .38 revolver. She’s saving herself for marriage and when she goes off to college she’ll need it to defend that sweet, sweet vagina. As much as it disgusts daddy, most people shot him disturbing looks when he tried to go out in public with his AR-15 slung on his back. So when he goes out he’s always got his Glock 17 by his side, ready to lay down the law lest some urban youth try to play the knockout game with him.  

That, my dear non-American readers, is the gun nut. You’ll will find him in many different configurations but certain elements are always there. There’s the conflation of guns with masculinity. The need to be associated with firearms and to show off knowledge about firearms. The questionable attitude toward safety. The insistence that guns play a role in every aspect of one’s life. The veritable orgasm at the idea of burning off some rounds in full-auto. In short, the fetishization of guns. And as the recent Uzi incident indicates, the result is often death if not maiming.

Personally I am not a staunch advocate of gun control. I am an advocate of certain people growing the fuck up and giving firearms the proper respect that demand so as to ensure both legal and safe usage at all times. You know what? Yes, you can say I’m “uncomfortable” around guns if you want. I’m so uncomfortable around guns that I always maintain positive control of a weapon to make sure the muzzle is aimed in a safe direction every time. My finger is never in the trigger guard until I’m about to shoot. I’m so effeminately uncomfortable around guns that I check chambers and rack actions numerous times, every time, whether I saw you check it yourself or not. Apparently it’s just my limp-wristed, ingrained habit. I am intentionally “uncomfortable” around guns and it is precisely for that very reason that I have fired off literally thousands of rounds of various calibers over more than a decade without having a single accident of any kind whatsoever. Maybe that discomfort is in fact mindfulness and responsibility.  Maybe the instructors of that range in Kingman, Arizona should have been a little more uncomfortable about the idea of pre-pubescent children handling fully-automatic firearms.  

The drought

I think I have to give another heads up regarding the coming dearth of new material in the next few weeks. In addition to working on my first book, I have also recently joined a fitness club and thus must develop an obsession about repeatedly lifting heavy objects and putting them down again. This is a big change from my typical exercise routine of running around the park listening to 80’s montage music and silently judging the young mothers and fathers pushing their baby carriages while they smoke and drink beer at midday. 

Aaaaaaaanyway, I thought one article deserves your attention, and it’s another Adomanis piece. Now yes, I admit that his position on Syria is craptastic, but I didn’t start reading his work for his Middle East commentary. As is often the case, Adomanis hits on something I’ve been saying for some time, but whereas I tend to be more concerned with how Russia relates to the international left, Adomanis makes a good point about how Russia’s recent actions have turned off the European right as well. He’s caught on to something very important, but he’s only scratched the surface. 

When you have the kind of knowledge of the far right that I do(don’t ask), it’s easy to see that Russian propaganda has one major flaw that they haven’t managed to get around just yet. The current regime hasn’t managed to find a way to totally reject and denigrate the Soviet legacy, particularly the victory in WWII. They are quite adept at pissing all over the Soviet Union’s accomplishments in science, literacy, life expectancy, and industrialization with their fairy tales about 1913 and Stolypin’s reforms, but they still haven’t managed to find a way to go balls-out anti-Soviet. Of course they have a couple ways around this. One is to simply bastardize the Soviet Union; turn it into a re-branded Russian empire and make Stalin into a Russian nationalist. Nationalists and anti-Communists the world over are happy to affirm that characterization, though they of course see it as a bad thing. The other tactic is to do what the Russian establishment always does, which of course means presenting two mutually exclusive concepts and insisting that people regurgitate them or be labeled as Russophobic, gay, or Hitler.  

This inability to go full-on Russian empire and roundly condemn the entire Soviet experiment is a problem for a government whose lackeys reach out to far right parties in Europe. Take the right-wing Jobbik party of Hungary, for example. They split with the Ukrainian Svoboda party over the usual Eastern European bullshit reason #437, aka “THEY ARE OCCUPYING OUR SACRED, HOLY LAND!” To be honest I can’t remember the details, but then again I probably couldn’t explain why an enclosure full of chimpanzees might suddenly explode into fanatical, screeching, shit-flinging violence. Given the connection between Jobbik and groups close to the Kremlin, it seems only logical that they’d ditch the genuinely Russophobic Svoboda party. The problem, of course, is that ideologically these two parties are far more suitable allies. After all, Stepan Bandera and Hungary’s fascist Ferenc Szalasi were just two misunderstood “freedom fighters” who were really fighting against Stalin and Hitler! It’s just that the latter’s military forgot to record any of that.  Hungary’s right wing draws on the lost pro-Axis state, the more ideological Arrow Cross party, and of course the anti-Communist struggle during “occupation,” most notably the uprising in 1956. You think this party is going to be a solid ally of a government which still insists that Eastern European governments maintain Red Army memorials and monuments? Your average Hungarian nationalist isn’t going to give a flying fuck as to the “Eurasianists'” rationalization as to why the Soviet Union was really a conservative Russian empire; as far as they are concerned they were occupied by that “empire” against their will. Not to mention the minor but still significant fact that Russia still espouses pan-Slavism and Hungarian nationalists hate Slavs.  

This is why the struggle between Russian nationalists, Ukrainian nationalists, and the middle-of-the-road Nazis like Praviy Sektor would be hilarious were it not for the fact that people have actually died because of this bullshit. Russia preaches Slavic unity and brotherhood, then disrespects and makes fun of Ukrainians until most of them end up going over to the nationalist camp. Some Russian nationalists in Russia believe that Putin is controlled by the Jews, ergo he’s purposely favoring Kadyrov in Chechnya and bringing in the Central Asian immigrants. Their sympathy is with groups like Praviy Sektor. On the other hand, some believe that the wily entity known as “the Jews,” is actually behind the Ukrainian government, which consists entirely of gay, Jewish Neo-Nazis, who are bad only because they don’t want to be part of a new Russian empire. Honestly this couldn’t get any more ridiculous unless all sides went to battle dressed as clowns.  But like I said before, actual human beings have been killed in this deadly live-action role playing game.  

As for the left, I think I’ve said enough about that in the past, but to sum it up briefly it’s essentially a bait-and-switch tactic. Many progressive-minded people are attracted to RT and Russian media, even seeking employment in some cases, only occasionally realizing that they’ve been tricked. Honestly I can’t feel bad for them. It’s not hard to do a little research and find out that RT is full of conservatives or right-wing populists. On one occasion I actually warned one of these naive individuals that they were associating themselves with a particularly caustic, fascistic individual and this person ignored my warnings. The left doesn’t need naive, lazy people like that as far as I’m concerned, but I don’t want to get into a rant here. 

As for the article’s assertion that an “American RT” wouldn’t help anything I have to agree. Russians tend to assume anything that doesn’t fit in with their sources must be American propaganda anyway, so having an actual American propaganda network is going to do dick, beyond wasting tax money and embarrassing the country.  

 

Complete history

Alright I’ve decided not to name name’s, (ahem…) but there’s something that never ceases to piss me off about the Russian “liberal” intelligentsia.  This is their constant assertion that most Russians aren’t aware of the “horrors of Communism” or “inconvenient” parts of their history such as the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact. I realize that these issues are not thoroughly discussed in Russian schools, but the idea that these topics are somehow hidden from Russians is simply preposterous. Not only do Russians have adequate access to all manner of books on these subjects in major bookstores everywhere, but these books and the state-controlled media often perpetuate myths and false claims as well.  How many times do they need to see the Kremlin kissing Solzhenitsyn’s dead ass and glorifying WWI until they wake up to the fact that the state is creating a new imperialist ideology, and merely absorbing Soviet symbols into this false narrative?  

These advocates continually claim that they want to fill the gaps in Russian history. Do they? Will we teach the whole truth about the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, or will we adopt Tim Snyder’s revision which casts it as a dastardly alliance aimed at starting WWII? If you want the whole story, will you start with the signing of the pact on 23 August 1939, or will you start back in 1936, when the Soviet Union consistently pursued a policy of collective security against Germany and Italy up to and even beyond the signing of the non-aggression pact with Germany? A policy, I might add, that was consistently and deliberately foiled by the British and French.  Are you prepared to teach that? Or do you prefer to teach Russian school children a fairy tale about how mean old Stalin signed a deal with Hitler to start WWII because Communism and Nazism are the same?  

And how about that Bolshevik Revolution in the first place? When you teach about Red Terror, will you first teach about White terror and the intervention of several imperialist powers? When you speak about the horrors of grain requisition, will you remind pupils that one of the major motives for toppling the Tsarist regime was shortages of bread going back to mid-1915? When you talk about the horrors of the civil war, will you teach them about how the Tsar sent several million Russian citizens to their deaths, into the maw of machine guns, all to save face after his regime’s duplicity toward its own ally, the Serbs, in 1908?  Confused by that last bit? Yeah, nobody in Russia seems to know that juicy bit of diplomacy

Hey and speaking of that empire, are you going to let the children know what that tricolor flag and double eagle represents? Are you going to tell them about the pogroms, the lack of rights, the quasi-theocracy, the illiteracy, the staggering infant mortality? Will you tell them about the famines of the 1890’s, or are you only interested in those that happened under collectivization, after which, by the way, no more famines occurred? Are you going to tell them how under that regime, they would be lucky to make it past the age of five, and they would most likely be illiterate? I’m asking because they will ask what ended that sorry state of affairs, and of course should you admit any of the Bolsheviks’ lasting accomplishments, it would no doubt lead to the perpetuation of modern Russian authoritarianism. So the only answer, of course, is to glorify a regime which was authoritarian.  

Anyone whose thinking is not hopelessly backward can see what the ideology of post-Soviet Russia has evolved into. The intelligentsia cannot afford to denigrate or erase all Soviet symbols, but it has managed to deform, to twist, and rob them of their meaning. As time wears on, Soviet symbols become “Russian” and Russian imperial images and concepts begin to replace them. The word “Novorossiya” in reference to Eastern Ukraine is a dead giveaway. Make no mistake, the Soviet Union was a state rooted in progressive, internationalist values, which, for reasons within and without, went back upon those values and eventually rejected them. By contrast, the modern Russian state is a reactionary, right wing regime which openly admits this, save for those occasions when its propaganda hacks need to garner foreign left wing support of course. That’s when they dust off the red flags.  

It’s clear the real reason Russia’s liberals engage in this kind of nonsensical behavior isn’t rooted in principle or concern for human rights. It is because ultimately, they are pro-capitalist and possibly neo-liberal capitalists. Their problem with the Putin regime is that it keeps them out, away from the trough. For whatever reason they cannot imagine why Russians aren’t enthusiastic about shock therapy and the drunken ex-president. They fail to realize that much of the knee-jerk Soviet defensiveness is a natural reaction to their bullshit antics during the 90’s. For the horrors of the 90’s were accompanied by people who continually and loudly insisted that rather than deal with issues like organized crime and rampant women trafficking, people should have been wailing publicly about the crimes of Stalin and erasing every last vestige of the Soviet legacy.  More than a decade later these people can’t seem to understand why their bullshit hasn’t caught on.  

 

 

 

 

News Roundup

You’re not going to see so many original updates in the next few weeks, mainly because my work schedule is filling up and I’ve finally began serious work on not one, but two books. As such, I wanted to give the reader at least something. Here is a sampler of some of the best stories I have picked out recently. 

 

Kremlin Is a Fugitive From International Justice by Mark Lawrence Schrad

Sounds like a typical Western moral lecture until you actually read it. Schrad correctly points out how Russia spent years talking about international law, actually maintaining a correct position, and then pissed away all its credibility with its recent actions.  This goes to support what I and many others have said plenty of times in the past. Russia supporters aren’t opposed to things like military intervention for spurious humanitarian reasons. They’re opposed to the US or NATO doing these things. You don’t get to point out others’ hypocrisy while being hypocritical. Just to use one example, Putin used the poor analogy of Kosovo independence to justify his seizure of the Crimea. If that truly is a justified precedent as he claimed, then does this mean Russia will now recognize Kosovo and no longer consider it part of Serbia? Why not? Serbia’s joining the EU anyway. But speaking of hypocrisy…

Dolgov: U.S. Should Worry About Human Rights in Ferguson First

Yes as is often the case, the Russian government resorts to whataboutism and pretends as though they give a shit about black people. Anyone who’s been to Russia knows that it is rife with racism. To be fair, I think it has a lot to do with the bullshit Hollywood and MTV exports throughout the world. This shit perpetuates and even creates all sorts of stereotypes, but I digress.  

What is the difference between Russia and the US in this respect? Well first of all, protest of solidarity have cropped up all over the US. Second, the people protesting and those expressing solidarity in other cities aren’t finding themselves under government investigation, nor have they been assaulted by unknown thugs, as has happened to regime critics in the past going back many years. Nobody is suggesting that these protesters are a national security threat or that they plan to overthrow the government. 

It’s also hard to believe that Russians would get so upset if police profiled and shot an innocent Chechen teenager. In fact a policeman beat an Abkhaz man to death back in 2008 and it was barely news. As for Russia being a land of racial harmony, keep in mind that there were ethnic riots in 2010 and in 2013 just in Moscow and the surrounding region alone.  And just yesterday I saw some dumb teenager on the metro wearing a shirt proclaiming “White Power” with a Totenkopf in the middle. What did grandpa fight for again? What’s that about fascists in Ukraine again? 

Open Borders Are Russia’s Birthright by Andrei Kortunov

Kortunov states what ought to be obvious to anyone living in the real world. Fantasies about Russia some how “opposing” globalization and cutting itself off from the West are just that, fantasies. The Qing dynasty tried this shit in the 19th century and guess what, it didn’t work out too well. Japan saw the light and acted on it with the Meiji restoration. Russia’s success just a few years ago was rooted in opening up to the world and attracting investment. What needed to happen was more measures to fight corruption and thus attract more investment, not belligerence and imperial adventures. Now as a result, 2nd quarter growth in Russia is at 0.8%, slightly better than the 0% predicted by Russia’s own finance ministry, while Zimbabwe’s economic growth, though receding from the boom of 2009-2012, is expected to reach 4% or higher. 

ZimBABwe! FUCK YEAH!

ZimBABwe! FUCK YEAH!

Now when you bring this up there will always be some socially-awkward beardo knocking his plate of Hot Pockets off his desk and screaming, “Who cares about economic growth?! There are more important things than money and stuff! Russia has spiritual values!”  To that I say, you are a moron who knows nothing about Russia and Russian society, much less economics or the world in general. First of all, this whole theory about Russians enduring any material sacrifice for the sake of…Russian-ness or something like that, has been put to the test several times in history. In 1917 it led to the overthrow of the government. In 1991, ditto. In 1993, partial credit. In the 90’s in general it was total chaos at times. When you look at support for the Crimean annexation or Putin’s approval ratings, keep in mind this is coming from people who still have relatively free internet access, Starbucks, sushi restaurants(for now), freedom to travel, iPads, iPods, iPhones, and so on. See how enthusiastic they are when they can’t afford those things anymore. Also do me a favor. Look at the computer you’re reading this on. Get up, if possible, and go take an inventory of all the gadgets and modern conveniences in your life. Now imagine they are all gone, and when you complain about this you are called a traitor. Are you sure you’d be happy to live under that system? Are you going to thank your dear leader for “returning” a piece of land you can’t even afford to visit now? Like I said, give it time.  

And there’s one totally off-topic feature today: 

FIFTEEN YEARS LATER, ‘FIGHT CLUB’ STILL SUCKS by Megan Koester

Does this even qualify as an unpopular opinion? I’m not going to pretend that I always thought this way. I’m a lot like the author in this respect, having fallen in love with the film when I first saw it at 17. Perhaps something changed a few years later when I read the book and discovered the first of very few instances where the film is actually better than the book. That by the way, is an opinion I’ve heard even from many Russians, showing that it cuts across cultural boundaries.  

Fight Club is basically pretentious bullshit, equal parts teenage male angst mixed with vulgar, totally non-subversive “anti-consumerism.”  I suppose everyone needs to go through that stage during their youth, but if you still think Fight Club has a valid message today, please, get help. If you want subversive, go watch Matewan or The Wind that Shakes the Barley

Nothing says "edgy, subversive, and I've never  taken a single punch in my life" like a Fight Club poster!

Nothing says “edgy, subversive, and I’ve never taken a single punch in my life” like a Fight Club poster!

 

Requiem for Rudolph

Here’s yet another tragically comic tale related to the Kremlin’s shot-in-the foot food import ban. Apparently in Russia’s far east, reindeer meat is intended to replace imported US chicken. Now I’m not one to disparage reindeer meat. I’m sure Donner and Blitzen are positively delectable.  The only thing I’d be concerned about is that it would seem that reindeer meat might be more expensive than chicken. Even if you have reindeer farms with herds of reindeer, American factory farms have got butt-tons of chickens. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where raising chickens is considerably more expensive than raising domesticated reindeer. If you’re a reindeer enthusiast and I’m wrong about this, by all means let me know in the comments. 

 

Accountability

Rather excellent opinion piece in the Moscow TImes today, holding Ukraine’s Maidan-spawned regime accountable for its dictatorial laws. In a completely logical but unthinkable position in the often over-emotional tenor of discourse about Russia and the region, the author dares to point out that the new government looks suspiciously Russia’s authoritarian regime. Now there are some who will say, “But look at their situation! They’re in a war with a larger power!”  No, sorry, that excuse doesn’t fly for you. I know you. You’re the type who excludes context like that all the time, particularly in a way that always absolves capitalist Western countries. It’s no excuse for Assad, it’s no excuse for Gaddafi, but it’s an excuse for Poroshenko, a man who’s killing his own people? I know some of you moral warriors out there actually condemn Snowden for revealing the collection of meta data and private communication of innocent American citizens. So no, you don’t get to use context only when you feel like it, Mr/Ms Comment-leaver.  Now I have blown your mind because you’re wondering how I know you so well. Russian politics, my friend. It’s just too predictable.

Getting back to the content of the article, here’s a choice excerpt:

On July 29, Ukraine’s vice premier, Oleksandr Sych, said Ukraine would impose quotas and licensing to limit the number of foreign books allowed on the Ukrainian market. While these restrictions would not be confined to Russian publications, which make up the majority of the Ukrainian literary market, it was clear that they were the main concern. Sych even alleged that Russian books were aimed at “destabilizing the situation in Ukraine.”

There are two reasons why I chose this quote. The first is that the author neglected to mention that Sych is a member of the far-right nationalist part known as Svoboda. Svoboda is the party Maidan apologists would prefer you to forget, admitting instead to smaller, more marginalized groups like Praviy Sektor. Mention Svoboda and a meltdown will usually occur. At least that’s been my experience.

The second reason I mention this is because Russia, by contrast, isn’t nearly this hardcore in terms of censorship or linguistic discrimination. Russia can be extremely liberal with practically anything that doesn’t pose a threat to the regime. Keep in mind this is a country which to date has never banned Youtube, Twitter, or any social network. Russia only has one unacceptable, but otherwise trivial restriction on non-Russian languages, that being the requirement that they use Cyrillic-based alphabets. Obviously none of this prevents a speaker of those languages from writing or publishing material in a non-Cyrillic language if they so wish. The death of languages in Russia, even those of large minorities like the Tatars, is rooted in economics rather than conscious discrimination. Young people are drawn to major cities, where Russian is used, and then on to Moscow if they can afford it. This is the only path to social mobility for most people. In Moscow Tatar or Bashkir are basically useless. This process is obviously problematic, but it isn’t the kind of active, open discrimination that Sych calls for.  Speaking of Sych, you should check out his theories on women some time. Let’s just say this asshole is lucky that Tumblr hasn’t found him yet.  

In another apt comparison to Russia, the new Ukrainian government has banned the Communist Party, opening 300 criminal cases against members of that party. This goes to show that the concept of an independent judiciary is utterly unknown to these people. More importantly, according to the wording of the accusations against party members, it’s clear that many members of other parties currently in the government could just as easily have been charged with the same crimes. What we have here is a new regime which effectively legalized its own coming to power, then uses that power to charge its opponents for doing the same thing they allow themselves. Looks pretty Russian to me.  

I think the point of all this is that the new Ukrainian government doesn’t get a free pass just because it happens to be the underdog in a fight. And one can argue that as spurious as Moscow’s justifications have been, Maidan consciously and deliberately took on a nationalist character and stressed division on ethnic lines. They welcomed groups like Praviy Sektor and Svoboda as opposed to rejecting them and reaching out to people in the Crimea and the East. Rather than develop new ideas about the Ukrainian identity and Ukrainian citizenship, they decided to go back to the old, failed, nationalist victimhood fairy-tale of Ukraine and if you refuse to profess your belief in that canon then you must be a Putin-loving, Stalinist, Russian imperialist, fascist “vatnik.” So yeah they’re the underdog, but their barking helped bring this on, in the same way that Russia’s crowing against the West brought on sanctions and humilation. Underdog doesn’t mean right. Nazi Germany was an underdog, after all. You don’t support Nazi Germany, do you?