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…
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.
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.