Monthly Archives: December 2014

Useful Idiot of 2014: Oliver Stone

It has been a long, difficult year. I had considered creating some kind of year-in-review post for today, but that would require going back over dozens of bad memories. How fortunate it is that in absence of any planning for some sort of competition, a last-minute candidate for Useful Idiot of the Year has appeared just in the nick of time! Running unopposed in the first ever competition of its kind, “filmmaker” Oliver Stone handily scores this year’s title!

Stone, of course, has a history of pseudo-left politics. I say “pseudo” because its more like leftish populism than anything concretely revolutionary. Just change the narrative a bit here or there and you’ve pretty much got the same ideology that is espoused by far-rightists everywhere, including those of Ukraine and Russia. Stone is also a perfect example of the failure of “anti-hegemony” politics, the idea that there’s this monolithic “West” led by the US, and Russia, China, and a few other states somehow constitute a “resistance” to the Western capitalist hegemony.

In a recent Facebook post, Stone revealed that he had interviewed former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. The whole thing is par for the course. Maidan was a CIA coup, the CIA was behind the snipers shooting protesters, and so on. Let’s take a look.
Interviewed Viktor Yanukovych 4 hours in Moscow for new English language documentary produced by Ukrainians. He was the legitimate President of Ukraine until he suddenly wasn’t on February 22 of this year. Details to follow in the documentary, but it seems clear that the so-called ‘shooters’ who killed 14 police men, wounded some 85, and killed 45 protesting civilians, were outside third party agitators. Many witnesses, including Yanukovych and police officials, believe these foreign elements were introduced by pro-Western factions– with CIA fingerprints on it.

Ah yes, what more objective source could you find than Viktor Yanukovych? Indeed, Yanukovych was the legitimate president, until he suddenly left on 22 February and then was legitimately stripped of his power by the parliament that was left behind. Indeed you could have questioned the legitimacy of the interim government on certain grounds, that is until they had elections in May and especially after they had parliamentary elections in October.

There is nothing to suggest that the shootings which occurred were the work of “outside agitators.” He cites “many witnesses,” but only names one man who wasn’t in a position to know unless he specifically ordered the police to use live rounds. Stone doesn’t give us any evidence, just innuendo. I find it ridiculous how people who have no problem accepting the fact that American police, in such a litigious society, routinely shoot young, unarmed black males, and yet the same people think that Eastern European paramilitaries would never open fire on massive protests which had been increasingly violent for some time.

The only “evidence” Stone offers is comparisons to actual, historical coups.

Create enough chaos, as the CIA did in Iran ‘53, Chile ‘73, and countless other coups, and the legitimate Government can be toppled. It’s America’s soft power technique called ‘Regime Change 101.’

Stone forgets that these were things which happened during the Cold War, when the US actually had a real opponent and much of Europe was for some of that time, a collection of puppet states. That simply isn’t true these days, when Germany leads a bloc of its own and China is a major rival to the US. Furthermore, Iran and Chile didn’t involve various NGOs or civil society initiatives. Both involved direct CIA involvement in connection with members of the military. Lastly, Mossadegh in Iran and to a greater extent Salvador Allende in Chile were both too far to the left for the US. Mossadegh famously wanted to nationalize the Anglo-American oil company while Allende was essentially a socialist. Yanukovych was neither of these things. He had no social platform other than doing what was best for Viktor Yanukovych and his friends. He was no enemy of the IMF and one way or another he would have had to impose some form of austerity on his own country. This is exactly what I mean when I say that anti-hegemony types are fighting a non-existent conflict. There is no resistance bloc against global capitalism. These people are only backing the losers in the game.

In this case the “Maidan Massacre” was featured in Western media as the result of an unstable, brutal pro-Russian Yanukovych Government. You may recall Yanukovych went along with the February 21 deal with opposition parties and 3 EU foreign minsters to get rid of him by calling for early elections. The next day that deal was meaningless when well-armed, neo-Nazi radicals forced Yanukovych to flee the country with repeated assassination attempts.
Stone is apparently considering a career as a comedy writer. First of all, Yanukovych fled after making that agreement on 21 February. I’ve seen no evidence of any assassination attempt on him and while some radicals had indeed obtained firearms, nobody in their right mind would call them “well armed.” Another important point about this agreement is that the leaders of the opposition parties did indeed sign it, but they clearly couldn’t control thousands of people on the streets. The fact that the new government continued to have problems with Maidan supporters and organizations throughout 2014 shows how limited their control was then.

A dirty story through and through, but in the tragic aftermath of this coup, the West has maintained the dominant narrative of “Russia in Crimea” whereas the true narrative is “USA in Ukraine.” The truth is not being aired in the West. It’s a surreal perversion of history that’s going on once again, as in Bush pre-Iraq ‘WMD’ campaign. But I believe the truth will finally come out in the West, I hope, in time to stop further insanity.

Let’s see here- Russian troops actually occupy the Crimea, and in a short time a referendum with no status quo option declares Crimea independent, then a part of the Russian Federation. How many US soldiers went to Ukraine in that time? How many are there now? Imagine Stone’s reaction if a brigade of American soldiers had arrived in Kyiv around February 21st to “defend protesters from potential reprisals by Yanukovych’s military.” Imagine against that background, the protesters seized government buildings and held a referendum to oust Yanukovych’s government. Do you think Stone would be fine with that? Of course not. What each and every one of these anti-hegemony dipshits fail to understand is the concept of principle. Are you against big, powerful nations using their military and economic leverage to push around smaller nations, or are you only against it when that nation is the US? This is why I became so alienated from much of the left this year- I opposed American imperialism because it was imperialist, not because it was American. Stone, of course, doesn’t have any principles. Rather than actually address problems in America and do something about them, he prefers to engage in conspiracy theories and pretend he has a friend in Moscow. And he speaks about stopping insanity.

One final point I want to make here is on this bullshit about how this “isn’t aired in the West.” I have nothing but contempt for people who hide behind phrases like, “this is something they don’t want you to know,” “everything you know is a lie,” or “this is the politically incorrect story.” These are all psychological ploys to make the audience more pliable to what they’re about to hear. Nobody wants to think they’ve been duped, and everybody rightly suspects what they receive from the media. The problem is, though, that while the Western media certainly didn’t report Stone’s fantasy version of events, you cannot say that the West was all-in for Maidan. Many Western publications and journalists published critical articles about Maidan, ranging from exposures of the right-wing elements in the protest to questioning the protesters’ belief that a European Union trade agreement would truly improve their situation. I have referenced and featured several of these articles on this blog throughout this year. Sure, you could say that on the whole, Western coverage was biased in favor of Maidan. But compare that to the pro-Russian coverage of Maidan, from internet sites like Globalization Research to RT.

Where have you ever seen a single article on any pro-Russian source which even begrudgingly concedes any point to the Maidan movement as a whole? Even from the beginning, when I was quite hostile to the Maidan movement, there were two points I could not even assail them on. One was the fact that Yanukovych was indeed incredibly corrupt and brought nothing positive to Ukraine. The other was that regardless of the politics of any specific group within the movement, at least these people were standing up for themselves. They thought they had been wronged by their government, so they stood up to that government and changed it. Contrast that to Russia where everybody drops their pants, bends over, and begs the government for “stability” they never receive in exchange for their dignity and freedom. Tell me where I can see even that modest nuance in the pro-Russian press when it comes to Maidan. According to them, it was all Nazi, all CIA-backed.
The problem with Stone is that he has the same thought process as many of the people who immediately threw their unqualified support behind Maidan. Stone doesn’t have any real background knowledge on Ukraine or Russia. He doesn’t know what the Yanukovych government was like, or what the Putin government is like. All he knows is that the Western media generally said that this movement was good and this president was bad. Ergo in typical lazy leftist fashion he decides that the movement must be backed by the CIA and Yanukovych’s regime must have been positive. Of course any time you ask one of these dupes about what such and such a regime was supposedly doing to piss off Washington so much, the answer is always that they are “resisting.” How they are resisting or why that is even positive is never mentioned. Nazi Germany was “resisting” Washington. ISIL is “resisting.”

I have a real problem with this tactic of labeling movements as CIA putsches as well. Readers of this blog will note that while my opinions about Maidan changed over time, mostly due to Russian reaction, I never suggested that the protest movement consisted of paid CIA shills. For one thing, I am very familiar with Ukrainian nationalism and I knew that nobody needed to pay those assholes to come out and run amok. And while NGOs no doubt had an influence on many other protesters, it’s important to realize that these organizations don’t pay people to protest, nor do they force them. Most of the time these Western NGOs exist because local governments don’t fund or encourage civil organizations. Some of these organizations are dedicated to one particular social ill, e.g. women trafficking and sexual exploitation. They are more or less non-political but must seek foreign funding as the government essentially ignores them if not eyes them with suspicion. Naturally these people will gravitate to political movements. What anti-hegemony types, lazy leftists, and naive populists can’t understand is that people listen to the message of these NGOs because their own governments offer virtually nothing positive or at best, fail to deliver on their promises. NGOs can shape and channel movements, but they do not conjure them out of thin air.

When you’re an outsider it’s easy to misunderstand people’s motives, so let me put it to you in this way. Did you protest against the Iraq war? Yes? How much did Saddam Hussein pay you? Were you at Occupy, or did you at least support the movement? You know RT did a lot of coverage of Occupy. Perhaps you were paid by the Russian government. Did you protest over Ferguson? How much did you get paid from that? You know some witnesses think that Darren Wilson might have been an outside-agitator working for Russian intelligence. I have criticized Maidan and the US on this blog. Do you suppose I get paid by the Kremlin? How does it feel to have not only your motives, but your very free will questioned by armchair geopolitical wonks? Is it not absurd? Are you not angered? The Kremlin loves to spread this cynical idea because that’s how it has operate for years. It conjures political movements out of thin air and it pays people to come to rallies. It has no other way of attracting support.

Oliver Stone, like many populists and phony leftists, is offering activists nothing more than a fantasy, a dead-end. Rather than actually stand up to power and fighting for justice, the Stones of the world would have us believe that we should sink all our energy in to supporting these alleged islands of “resistance” to the capitalist hegemony. So we follow their advice, and eventually this or that regime collapses due to its own incompetence and corruption. Then it begins again so we can turn another corrupt, bumbling dictator into the next Che Guevara. Isn’t this starting to get old? Does it not seem odd to anyone that the answer to America’s problems with student loans, police brutality, racism, and workers’ rights is to be found in Russia, where conditions are far worse? Does it not seem a bit more subversive to actually start doing something about that instead of carrying a torch for regimes you’ve never lived under?

Meh. What do I know? I need to cash my paychecks from the CIA and FSB so I can go party tonight.

Oliver Stone, you win 2014’s award for Useful Idiot of the Year.

2014, fuck you.

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Off-topic: Generation gap

When it comes to cliche op-eds these days, the main staples tend to be America’s going to collapse like Rome, there’s a new Cold War with Russia, and millennials are screw-ups because they were always told they were special and they got trophies simply for participating. It’s that third, slow-news-day, filler editorial I’d like to tackle in this off-topic post today.

First of all, I staunchly maintain that I am not a millennial. I am one of the last Gen Xers, if you want to get technical about it, and I insist you do. Indeed, many anti-millennial rants lump me in with “Generation Y,” but there’s one crucial detail the writers of such rants omit when they do this, namely, they forget that they are complete and utter morons. I am in my early 30’s and have very little in common with someone who graduated college even a few years ago. I often find examples of a total generation gap even when talking to someone who is but three years younger than I. Yet though I don’t consider myself part of Generation Y, AKA the millennials, I do know what they’re going through when I see no-talent hacks attacking them for their supposedly coddled upbringing. If you happen to be a millennial and you’re confused because you can’t remember your high school teachers chucking trophies at you simply for turning in your homework, read on. I’ll let you in on a little secret- It’s bullshit. Mostly.

Take a seat and let me tell you a little story. I come from a very conservative background. I spent a part of my formative years in a very conservative, religious environment in the beginning of the so-called “Culture Wars” of the 90’s. If you’re a politically moderate American, and if you’re considering only domestic policy, you probably remember Bill Clinton as being a president who presided over a more-or-less healthy economy, but who had a number of indiscretions and was economical with the truth from time to time. Welfare reform and NAFTA are a couple negative spots on Clinton’s record as well. That is not how we saw things in my household or in the churches I attended. No, Bill Clinton was a Communist sympathizer, drug runner, and pervert, while his wife was a lesbian who practices witchcraft. Clinton’s administration was a sign of the end times; he would open the door to an invasion of foreign UN troops who would then go door to door confiscating our precious guns. Christianity would be banned, replaced by some kind of pagan Earth Mother cult. Suffice it to say, I know what it’s like for those Russians who get their news from the TV and buy into the alternate reality it creates.

Obviously these ideas were not uniformly represented among the sources of news we listened to. Rush Limbaugh and other talk radio hosts were usually careful to steer clear of outright murder accusations against the sitting president. They were also hesitant to go in for the UN-related conspiracy theories, especially in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, which brought militia groups and their beliefs into the national limelight. The more radical stuff came from The 700 Club with Pat Robertson, and the prophesy-laden sermons of televangelist John Hagee. In general though, most of these broadcasts had one thing in common, something which tends to be an integral part of any form of reactionary or conservative propaganda. The trope has no name that I’m aware of, so let us refer to it here as the “shock reel.” The shock reel is a list, either in print or in a speech, which contains a number of anecdotes and claims that are intended to shock and outrage the audience. An old favorite for the shock reel is any story involving a particularly unusual or outrageous performance artist. You chain these stories together and ask your audience, “What is our world coming to?”

Among the shock reel bogeymen I remember from those days was something called “outcome based education.” Growing up I would hear that some public schools, always in some other state, were experimenting with all sorts of new measures intended to bolster children’s self-esteem. High self-esteem was supposedly deemed supremely important by the crystal-gazing, ex-hippies who had supposedly taken over the government once Bill Clinton seized the White House by being legally elected. What all this self-esteem-oriented education entailed was the elimination of letter grades or grades which signified failure. How students felt about their work was taken to be paramount. This was constantly contrasted with education in “the good old days,” in this case of the baby boomer generation, which supposedly focused on the “Three R’s” of “readin’ ritin’ and ‘rithmatic.” The fact that the very concept of the “Three R’s” is based on the expression of an obviously illiterate dipshit seems to have been lost on that poor, misguided baby boomer generation, but I digress.

As I was going through school, roughly grades 5-11 I remember continually hearing about how public schools were supposedly dumbing down their curricula to focus on building self-esteem. And yet for some bizarre reason, the schools I went to weren’t participating in this nefarious scheme, even though they were at times in different districts. I also did attend one year at a private Christian school, and cannot say that the level of education was any more advanced than what I experienced in public schools. In fact the Christian school was worse because they constantly injected their politics and Biblical literalism into our lessons. Don’t even get me started on their sex education program.

Aside from that year, of course, I was mostly educated in public schools and I graduated from a public high school. During that time I kept hearing about how ridiculously easy school had supposedly become, but again, it always seemed to be other schools. I won’t say there were not problems with our curriculum, especially in the field of history, for example, but in retrospect I can say that I had a pretty damned good public education and I’m also quite certain that it was superior to that of some of my baby-boomer relatives who kept telling me how dumbed-down my schooling supposedly was. I’m not going to name name’s but at least one of these Rhodes’ scholars revealed as late as 2009 that they didn’t know who the United States was allied with in the Second World War, i.e. the war that individual’s father actively participated in. Of course there still are plenty of intelligent baby boomers, obviously, but the point here is that education is an active process in which the individual bears much responsibility for their own results. Most of my education took place out of the classroom, on my own initiative.

The point I’m getting at here, dear millennial readers, is that I believe you when you say you didn’t get a trophy just for participating in field day. I know that you didn’t get a perfect grade in history just because you could properly match the name George Washington to his portrait. I know this because before they started ganging up on you, they were ganging up on my generation. That’s right- they used to say the 80’s kids were the screw ups. We were constantly told that we were special, our self-esteem was paramount. At no time did these people ever think about who was responsible for this. After all, who were our parents, our teachers, etc.? They were all baby boomers. That right there should help dispel any myths you might have about the wisdom of that self-entitled, shrill, world-fucking generation. Let me tell you something else, millennials. There was another generation that was supposedly “lost” even before that. The press kept lamenting the youth, saying that they were far too interested in drugs, drinking, and sex to amount to anything useful. Then that generation came of age and fought in this little scrap you may have heard of called World War II. Or then again maybe you haven’t; you are millennials after all.

For the non-millennials- give the kids a break. There’s nothing wrong with having a laugh at the expense of youthful naivety or ignorance, but before you go writing several pages about how stupid Generation Y is, you might want to make sure you’ve got your ducks in a row too. Also keep in mind that the people who are actually responsible for the sad state of TV, movies, and pop music that is geared toward a millennial audience are themselves much older, often boomers. That goes double for parents. If your average millennial in their early to mid 20’s has an over-inflated sense of self-worth, who is the culprit? Most likely it is the parents who filled their head with self-esteem building, “positive thinking” nonsense. If this generation truly is doomed, there is literally no one we can blame other than those who raised it and shaped its entire world. Maybe it’s you who should have been told you weren’t special or gifted. Maybe you were the ones who needed a big red F.

HOLY S#@T THIS IS AWESOME!

I’m so glad I finally joined Twitter. Had I not done so, I wouldn’t have been made aware of the Greatest Article of 2014. Credit goes to Mark Adomanis for finding this gem. This is like a late Christmas present.

Prepare yourself. Sit up straight with both feet planted firmly on a flat, sturdy surface. Use the mouse to scroll while bracing yourself with the other hand firmly on an armrest, table, or otherwise solid object. What you are about to experience is one of the edgiest, red pill-est, most subversive articles ever written. This is the kind of shit that will bring the system crashing down, man. Just a few paragraphs in I was wondering how this guy managed to avoid being taken out by an NSA-controlled Reaper drone. Strap yourself in. We’re about to take a Mountain Dew-fueled rocket down the rabbit hole, through the looking glass, and various other Alice in Wonderland references! That last sentence doesn’t make sense, you say? Sure, if you believe what the government teaches you!

First of all, this article is written by Tyler Durden. Perhaps you didn’t note the significance of that. Tyler fuckin’ Durden.  Tyler Durden. 

Tyler Durden

Yes, that’s right, the wisdom-spouting, totally liberated soul which represents the ideal self in the fantasy of a disillusioned, dejected, alienated white collar worker in a film that was released in 1999 to the rejoicing of many an angsty teenage boy.  Tyler Durden was that mythical hero that reminded us that we are not our jobs, not our cars, not our houses or our “fuckin’ khakis.”  We are not our fucking lawns, not our bank accounts, not our Playstations, not our Starbucks Pumpkin Spice lattes, not our boxed sets of The Simpsons seasons 5-8. No, you corporate fat cats, we are men! Masculine, men!  That is the message of Tyler Durden, that mischievous spirit, that impish boy who lives inside the mind of every adult male who has been beaten by the system into conformity. Tyler Durden wants us to unleash the power of our raw masculinity and reject this consumerist, conformist system. Sorry ladies, Tyler Durden is for men only. You don’t have a Tyler Durden inside your mind.

Getting back to the most awesome article of 2014the author Tyler Durden informs us that Putin has an “ace up his sleeve,” which he can play against the West. What that is, we don’t know, but trust us, he’s got one. Hopefully Vladimir Putin will read this article and contact Mr. Durden to find out what his ace is. But enough of my pathetic rambling, let us read the edgy, iconoclastic words of Tyler Durden.

The entire world is watching Putin play poker with the Western politicians lead by Obama and followed by Washington quislings in London, Brussels and Berlin.

After 16 December it looks more like Putin played a game of “52-pickup.”  Of course who am I to question the wisdom of Tyler Durden? I wouldn’t know the difference between Texas Hold ’em and Magic: The Gathering when it comes to geopolitical card games. I’m also surprised to find out that Brussels and Berlin are “quislings” of Washington. One would think that if America were trying to dominate the world, Belgium and Germany wouldn’t be such major economic competitors for America. One would expect them to resemble neo-liberal banana republics instead of having strong welfare systems and political structures that differ radically from that of the USA. For some unknown reason, the US wants to flat out destroy Russia, but it does nothing to a country which is a major economic competitor and which is already partially occupied by large American military forces. Oh well. I’m not Tyler Durden.

America’s goal since the end of the Cold War has been to weaken by financial, economic and, if necessary, military means any real competition to its global financial and resource domination through the petrodollar and dollar world reserve currency status.

Odd. Japan and Germany are both such competitors. Since the fall of the USSR, Russia hasn’t been an economic or military competitor with the US. Does Tyler Durden know about China? Also who’s still afraid of the petrodollar? It’s bound to be replaced by petro-ruble any day now, according to RT’s Max Kaiser.

The current trade and economic sanctions against Russia and Iran follow this time-tested action that is never successful on its own, as we know from the 50-plus-year blockade of Cuba.

First of all, the sanctions against Russia are nothing like the sanctions against Cuba in any way. Cuba suffered not only a blockade, but years of armed terrorism and sabotage, all because it defied the US. In fact Castro did not initially lean towards the USSR; the US pushed him in that direction with its reaction to the revolution. Cuba did not annex part of another nation.  Most of the sanctions against Russia target individuals and banks; if anyone made a move that has had a noticeable effect on ordinary Russians, it was Putin with his food imports ban. Cuba’s experience was far more severe.

But this strategy can lead to opposition nations retaliating by military means, often their only alternative to end blockades etc., which are an act of war and allow the US and other democracies to bring their ultimate superior military power to bare against the offending sovereign state. This worked for Lincoln against the Confederate States of America, by Woodrow Wilson against the Central Powers before World War One, against the Japanese Empire before World War Two, Iraq, Libya – the list is endless.

Ah yes, damn America for its oppression of the Confederate States of America, the Central Powers, and the poor Japanese Empire! Their only crime was resisting American tyranny and trying to promote sound money and Ron Paul!

Recently the US has created the oil price collapse, working closely with its client state Saudi Arabia, in order to weaken the economic power of both Iran and Russia, the two main nations opposing US hegemony, foreign policy and petrodollar policy. Yes, this will play havoc with the US shale oil industry as well as London’s North Sea oil industry but oil profits pale in comparison to the importance of maintaining Western power over Russia and China.

Citation needed? Oh wait, this is Tyler Durden. Since he is merely a figment of the imagination, he can be anywhere. He must have overheard the backroom deal where the US and Saudi Arabia decided to go to war with Russia. It has nothing to do with something like 8 different US presidents promising to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil or anything like that. Tyler Durden wants us to have more expensive oil. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to use it for, though, since we’re supposed to reject all the consumer crap that requires oil.

I hope Putin realizes the US is not playing games here, as this is a financial and strategic game to the death for Washington and it’s Western allies that have foolishly followed the Goldman Sachs/central banking cartel’s deadly sovereign debt recipe and for growth and prosperity. The time is up; the debts can never be repaid and sooner or later must be repudiated one way or the other.

Tyler doesn’t seem to understand the difference between personal debt, and sovereign debt, just as he seems to think that Goldman Sachs is behind central banking. Go easy on him though, he is merely an imaginary reflection of one alienated man’s ideal self.

China is waiting in the wings as the new world economic power and while it is too big to challenge, US strategy is to take out its top two allies, Iran and Russia, to buy time for Wall Street and Washington. 

Oh goodie, some grand chess game bullshit. China already is the world’s largest economy. The thing is, however, that China’s success benefits the US. It’s not exactly a secret that major American industries have been chasing Chinese consumers’ money for years now, most notably Hollywood. The relationship between China and the US is mutually beneficial, at least from an economic point of view. This actually protects China from any significant US hostility.

The strategy might be a competitive economic course of action but the risk of military consequences and even a third world war loom on the horizon and no country has ever defeated Russia in a land attack. This is risky brinkmanship just to protect our banking and Wall Street elites and their profits at the expense of the American people, I might add, but the US has done this before.

Ah yes, no country has ever defeated Russia in a land attack. Well, if you don’t count Napoleon at Austerlitz. He only lost because he made an ill-planned attack on the Russian capital. Then there’s the Crimean War, which is considered a Russian loss. Then there’s the Russo-Japanese War. The First World War would also best be counted as a loss. The first Chechen War was a loss and the “victory” in the second Chechen War is highly debatable. But I guess if you ignore all that, no country has ever defeated Russia in a land attack.

Is This Just a Repeat of the Versailles Treaty, Russian-style?

This has all happened before. It’s the same old game with different players.

Uh yeah…It’s the same game as before, because in 2014 a major World War has just ended, and now Russia is about to sign a humiliating treaty. This has happened before!

If you look closely at real history rather than the establishment-directed propaganda dished out to the public, you’ll realize that the Western financial elites and central banking cartel seldom change tactics. Why should they? Their financial empires continue to grow during all major wars and financial crises and if they should guess wrong, then they get taxpayers to bail them out.

“Real history” is something you can major in at Youtube University. By the way, I hope you’re keeping track of how many times this guy refers to “financial elites,” bankers, etc.

The Goldman Sachs, Rothschild and Soros types control the Western democracies as well as the financial markets and use paid or blackmailed cheerleaders and front men to advance their best interests to the populace as acceptable economic or political policies.

Goldman Sachs…Rothschild…Soros. Banking elites, financial elites… This all sounds vaguely familiar.  Nah…I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that he points out those names. They must be the only people at the top of the capitalist hierarchy.

For example, Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points statement given on January 8, 1918, claiming the war and US intervention was a moral cause to advance peace in Europe after World War One, was one of the leading reasons the Germans sued for peace.

Actually the German Revolution and the deprivations that led to it are what drove the Germans to sue for peace. That and their two main allies had already done so, leaving them virtually alone. Oh wait, maybe that’s not “real history.”

The entire Austrian-Hungarian empire was totally destroyed except for the small area of present Austria and Germany, which was stripped of much of its territory and subjected to a vengeful, unpayable war debt comparable to America’s current national debt today. Sadly, the treaty created the public anger and economic chaos that eventually brought Hitler to power and set the stage for the Second World War.

The Austro-Hungarian empire broke up largely because nationalist movements increased in power as the country strained under the deprivations of war, something it was ill-prepared for in the first place. Anyone who knows anything about Austria-Hungary knows the maxim about how remarkable it was that it lasted so long. The empire was basically broken up prior to the Versailles conference anyway, but again, that’s probably not “real history.” It’s also worth noting that it was the European powers who were most interested in punishing Germany.

First, the US cable pundits are suggesting that Putin might retaliate by invading Ukraine. Why would Russia want Ukraine? Except for substantial agricultural resources that can be purchased on the open market, this is a bankrupt country with a long list of failed governments. The country has become a pawn in the battle between East and West, and its people have already suffered so much. Now Russia might move in the East to protect Russian-speaking areas and could be willing to suffer the additional economic consequences of creating a land bridge to Crimea but the military option appears quite limited and counter-productive at best.

Why would Russia want Ukraine, you ask? The kind of “patriot” Putin’s government cultivates positively orgasms at the thought of ruling over people, especially former Soviet republics. These people are seen as traitors who rocked the boat, who bit the hand that fed them. In this empire of cynicism, Russians don’t like the idea of former Soviet populations clawing their way to a better future. If Russians are miserable and dominated, others should be too. By Russia dominating Ukraine, the utterly dominated Russian feels slightly better because there is someone to look down on. This of course, calls to mind analogies of segregation and apartheid. The poorest white could always consider himself to be superior to the most accomplished black man, and therefore he supported the system that afforded him that privilege.

To be sure, yes, Russia conquering Ukraine is irrational, but we’re not dealing with rational people. For fifteen years Putin and his cronies robbed the Russian people, always promising to diversify and modernize the economy and state. Then came the morning that the project was due, and they had nothing. Maidan exposed this, so the only thing they could think of was to seize the Crimea. What would happen next simply didn’t factor in.  Personally I don’t think Putin will risk another military intervention for any reason, but I’ve been forced to admit that I was wrong about him being rational. If enough of his pseudo-intellectual “experts” are telling him he can get away with it, he might actually try it.

No nation will win a shooting war between the US, UK and EU versus Russia and China. The consequences are too horrible to be contemplated but Russia has an ace in the hole that can win the financial and economic battle going on today.

Oh really? Do tell us what that is, Mr. Durden!  Or is that something you don’t talk about, like Fight Club?

First, Russia should join with China in a new gold, oil and natural resource backed monetary union as an alternative to the failed debt democracy model pushed by Wall Street, the central bank cartel and self-serving politicians in the West. It simply does not work in the long term to finance prosperity and improved standards of living through mountains of debt placed on future generations.

And China would want to do this…Why? China is happily reaching out to Russia, but as Adomanis puts it, it isn’t running a charity. I’ve written several times about the conditions China is imposing on Russia in these deals they’ve been signing, and according to those parameters China is definitely dominant in the relationship.

I also really love how he says the Western system doesn’t work, while it clearly is working quite well in comparison to Russia’s “resource backed” system. Please, Mr. Durden, call us when the US dollar is actually tanking the way the ruble did on 16 December. Call us when the US starts looking like Russia. It’s one thing to say that the system is highly flawed, exploitative, immoral, or whatever, but to say it doesn’t work in comparison to corrupt, authoritarian state which cannot produce a suitable leader in 25 years? No. Just, no.

Washington has destroyed every tax haven and bit of personal and financial privacy in the world because of its desperate need for revenue. Every financial haven has caved, including Switzerland, because they cannot hope to prevail against the US, UK and EU.

Hmmm…That’s funny, aren’t offshore tax havens one of the concrete ways those “financial elites” and corporate fat cats dominate our system? After all, it’s not your average retail employee whose squirreling money away on the Isle of Man or Belize.

The US intends to make Russia a pariah state and cut it off from trade, funds transfer, banking and Western credit markets. It will not relent until Putin is overthrown and Russia is compliant with and a supporter of the New World Order.

In Fight Club, Tyler knew everything the narrator knew. I guess I can’t be the narrator because this Tyler doesn’t seem to be aware that for years, Russia’s ruling elite kept their money in the banks of the New World Order Rothschild Jewish Financial Elite Banking Cartel.

Second, Russia should act offensively rather than defensively on the financial front by creating corporate tax-free/low income tax zones and welcoming corporations, successful individuals and entrepreneurs to take up residence and create jobs and prosperity. The Hong Kong model does work to create industry, service industry and free-market prosperity and to win, Russia needs far more than a resource-based economy.

This is hilarious. Did this guy just find out about a country called Russia earlier this year? Also, doesn’t welcoming corporations essentially mean welcoming the corporate-dominated hegemony? Or are they supposed to welcome all corporations except banks? Welcome “successful individuals” and entrepreneurs? Has this guy not done so much as half an hour’s research on what doing business in Russia is like? This is a state where your visa can be canceled and your assets seized at the drop of a hat, assuming you paid all the necessary bribes to get your business up and running in the first place. Does that sound like a sound investment climate?

The Hong Kong model does work to create industry, service industry and free-market prosperity and to win, Russia needs far more than a resource-based economy.

Really? No shit. People have been telling the Russian government to do that for years. Problem is, you do that, and what you get is a bourgeois class that isn’t necessarily beholden to Putin. This isn’t want he and his close friends want.

Russia needs more population and a larger middle class and should offer residency and citizenship opportunities to productive and successful workers, entrepreneurial businesses and corporations etc. with the right of reasonable financial and corporate privacy along with the low tax benefits.

Clearly Tyler took too many shots to the head at Fight Club. Russia got a larger middle class in the mid-2000’s. As they got a taste of the good life, they started demanding more, becoming tired of the glass ceiling that reserves the best positions in life for friends of the elite. They started protesting and the government came to view them with suspicion. Today they are looked at as “the fifth column,” the pawns who will accomplish that revolution the United States is supposedly cooking up. And his advice for Putin is to build up Russia’s middle class? Clearly he’s new here.  He might as well recommend that Putin seize the moon and build a colony there.

Canada, the wonderful country I live and work in today, offers permanent residency benefits and citizenship to hundreds of thousands of foreigners wanting to work and immigrate to Canada together with low corporate tax benefits.

He lives in Canada? Isn’t that a “socialist” dystopia run by the American NWO banking cartel?

Russia can and should do the same, although the market will require bargain prices as Russia does not have the long history of rule of law, security and peace like Canada does.

No shit. Tyler clearly doesn’t understand how things work around here. Rule of law means that Putin and his friends can’t run the country like their private estate, a la Mobutu Sese Seku. Also I’m surprised this guy wants Russia to be like Canada, which I’m sure he considers a socialist hellhole in all his other rants.

Russia should look at good climate areas like Crimea and other areas around the Black Sea and maybe Kaliningrad in the north directly in the middle of the EU.

Yes I’m sure they’ll get right on that. The Russian government is known for taking advice from people using the name “Tyler Durden.”

Competititon, free markets, minimal regulation and low taxes are the 21st century solution to military aggression, over-indebted and resource-hungry empires.

Really? Cite an example.

Putin said it best in his news conference last week.

“They won’t leave [the bear] alone. They will always seek to chain it. And once it’s chained, they’ll rip out its teeth and claws. The nuclear deterrence, speaking in present-day terms. As soon as this happens, nobody will need [the bear] anymore. They’ll stuff it. And start to put their hands on its Taiga [Siberian forest belt] after it. We’ve heard statements from Western officials that Russia’s owning Siberia was not fair.” – Vladimir Putin

Should I be surprised that this guy saw something profound in this nonsensical quote?

Vladimir Putin, now is the time to play your ace in the hole.

Yes, whatever the hell it is. Play it!

Russia can win the financial and economic war being waged against it but not by playing the same old game of poker where cheating prevails. Show the world that Russia is worthy of 21st century leadership in a peaceful and competitive manner by using the debt, currency and banking weaknesses of the West to defeat an opponent out to chain Russia as it has the rest of the world into surrender and serfdom.

I can’t help but notice that he doesn’t exactly say what using “debt, currency, and banking weakness” actually entails. Also why does he think Russia is not “chained” in serfdom? He lives in Canada. Is he not experiencing serfdom? Canada is far more regulatory than the US, and it has a much stronger welfare state.

If you are as concerned as I am about where the world is headed, consider securing a second home internationally in the right location as a means to protect you and your family. Think of it as lifestyle insurance.

Tyler, any time you get sick of living in Canada, contact me and we’ll do a trade. You turn over a portion of your assets to me. For example, your house, or more likely your parents’ house. In return I will set you up with a job here in Russia and give you all the advice you need to working and living here. I will suffer the consequences of the NWO’s collapse, living in Canada or the US, while you will surely reap the windfall of Russia’s immanent victory. Do we have a deal?

Holy fuck, was that not the most awesome article you’ve ever read? Are you not slashed to ribbons by the pure edginess of it? I feel like I’m committing an act of terrorism just reading through it.  Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got to go on Amazon and order three boxes of Guy Fawkes masks.

Calvinball

Most Americans my age remember growing up with the comic series Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. We read the color editions in the Sunday comics and collected the books. Any fan of the series will surely remember “Calvinball,” a ridiculous made up game played only between the two title characters. The only rules of Calvinball were that you couldn’t play the game the same way twice, and you had to make the rules up as you went along.  It’s the perfect metaphor for the authoritarian Russian state today, if not many others.

Usually when we think of something being authoritarian, we imagine lots of rules, i.e. “Do this. Don’t do that.” Sure, such states do have lots of regulations, but a lot of times these are more aimed at maintaining the power structure. The myriad of regulations is what secures jobs for key people, establishes power relationships, and of course opens many opportunities for corruption. Of course rules can be used to repress, but as I’ve written before, this kind of thing doesn’t work so well for 21st century dictatorships. When you use the law to force people to do things, they notice it right away. Therefore the best avenue for repression comes not from imposing lots of rules but doing just the opposite. You don’t define the rules, the limits. You remind people that they are there, and that they are quite close, but you never say exactly where they are. The result is that people react as though they were walking through a minefield. They either tread at a snail’s pace with extreme caution, or they give up and remain still. Either way you remain in control.

There are two very good, very recent examples of this phenomenon in Russia. The first occurred at Vladimir Putin’s press conference last Thursday. Putin was asked what constitutes a “fifth columnist,” and what constitutes an ordinary member of the opposition.  Now if Putin actually believed that the Russian system is democratic, he could have claimed that the KPRF and LDPR are oppositionists, since that’s what they nominally are. Of course Putin knows that there is no actual opposition in the government from his point of view; he made sure of that himself. Therefore he did something totally predictable- he started babbling about Lermontov and Pushkin. After going on about these two Russian historical figures, because we all know that you can’t possibly make any argument in Russia without referencing Russian and only Russian historical figures, he said that the line between an oppositionist and a fifth columnist is very thin. Shortly thereafter he abruptly said that a fifth columnist works for the interests of a foreign country and “alien political values” before asking for the next question.

Obviously this “answer” only provokes more questions, just like the one I already proposed regarding the governments de jure “opposition” parties. Who defines what the interests of foreign countries are, and which foreign interests? For example, if Putin claims he wants to improve the economy and bring prosperity to more of Russia, is that not serving the interests of foreign countries? After all, we saw how the prosperous Russian “middle class” of the mid-2000’s spent their money on loads of foreign products and services, not counting the money they spent abroad in those countries. Since Russian prosperity only benefits exporters like the US, are not Putin and his government essentially working for the interests of the US when they claim to be struggling to improve the economy?

What of the “alien” political values? Does Russia ever define it’s own political values? It seems Russian political values are always extremely vague and change drastically according to the needs of those in power. One year Russia’s economic success and wealth in consumer goods was proof that Russia was a real competitor in the global economy. Then as Russia started losing, suddenly consumer goods are “Western” and “decadent,” and people should be satisfied with what they have. Are human rights alien political values? Well they can’t be, because the Kremlin is only too happy to point out the human rights abuses of other nations when it suits its interests. Is caring about the human rights of Russians an alien political value?  All of these important questions went unanswered.

The other recent story was the unveiling of Russia’s revised military doctrine. This document details both external and internal threats, and strangely it actually lists terrorism as the second highest domestic threat. But a far more ominous passage mentions  “activities which influence the population, especially young citizens of the country, undermining the historical, spiritual, and patriotic traditions of the defense of the fatherland.” This opens the door to even more questions than Putin’s non-answer at the press conference. What kind of “activities?” “Spiritual” traditions? What does that even mean? “Patriotic” traditions? To have patriotic feelings for the Russian empire is to have antagonistic feelings to toward the Soviet Union. To have patriotic feelings for the Soviet Union is to have antagonistic feelings towards the current state. The Russian government and its pseudo-historians can try to smooth over these contradictions all they want; they aren’t going away.

The point to take away from this is that the state and its cronies are ever quick to inveigh and threaten the population for “betraying” their country, being part of a fifth column, incredibly vague “extremism,” and working for the interests of foreign countries, but they always avoid providing any sort of concrete definitions. If they were to do that, everyone would know exactly where the limits are. They might feel restricted, but they would be at ease and less paranoid, not so ideal from power’s point of view. Moreover, if you know the rules, you know the exceptions. Therefore it is much better to force everyone to guess where the boundaries, or more accurately the landmines, are.

In relatively free countries these kinds of rules are strictly defined. If you’re wondering what the US government’s definition of treason is, it’s crystal clear. What sort of work on behalf of foreign countries is illegal in the US? Well it sure as hell isn’t protesting against American police brutality, since that has nothing to do with foreign governments. Now if you were say, acquiring classified knowledge and selling it to the Chinese, well than that would be espionage. While I see Edward Snowden as being morally right, the instructive lesson at least for this topic is that he did break a law, and what happened to Snowden can’t happen to Joe Blow in the US who attends Tea Party rallies and blogs about what a Communist, Islamofascist traitor president Obama is.  Actually threaten the president or a public official with bodily harm and yes, you will get a visit from the Secret Service. Keep, sell, or manufacture illegal weapons without the requisite license, assuming such a license exists for the weapon in question, and yes you will be arrested. You cannot, however, be arrested for voting the wrong way in Congress. You are not accused of trying to overthrow the government for taking part in massive demonstrations. In short, the better the rules are defined, the less likely it is for people to break them unintentionally.

I am part of that generation who truly came of political age in the aftermath of September 11th. We remember the introduction of the Patriot Act and all the questions it raised. Warrant-free wire taps? For whom? Why? Indefinite detention without access to legal council for terrorists? Who exactly is a terrorist then? Request for library records? What exactly are we allowed to read without attracting suspicion?  The justifiable fear associated with the Patriot Act wasn’t so much a matter of “Damn, now we can’t do such and such anymore,” but rather “What can we still do, without being arrested or at best, spied on?” The Bush administration wanted to play Calvinball with the American people. Indeed, that is what all bourgeois governments are prone to do, even in the most liberal states. If you’re not overthrowing them outright, something I don’t discuss on this blog, the only recourse against this is to continually fight within the system against those who try to amass more power and authority. Those countries whose populations have continually fought to limit the power of their rulers tend to be the most successful in the world today.

Unfortunately, this avenue is denied to the Russian people, who years ago traded their freedom and dignity to Putin and his inner circle in exchange for “stability,” which proved to be short-lived in the end. No one knows what they can do, because the government is playing Calvinball. The only rule is that the rules always change. Yesterday’s humor website can be tomorrow’s “extremist” propaganda network. The blogger who jokes about a park bench in Khabarovsk can be accused not only of “inciting hatred,” but of being the leader of a terrorist underground and plotting to overthrow the Russian government…from Khabarovsk.

The most tragic thing is that it seems the tactic of constantly preaching about the law without actually defining it in concrete terms has worked, and spectacularly so. There are now far too few Russians still willing to carefully pick their way through the minefield. The vast majority, unable to see Putin’s “thin line” and burdened with fear and uncertainty, seem resigned to their fate. They plop down in the mud where they were previously standing, knowing that this immediate patch of ground is safe. There they sit, sinking deeper and deeper into the muck, waiting for their hero to swoop down and pull them out, though it was him that they scorned just a little over a year ago. They don’t understand that their rigid adherence to the rules won’t save them from the elements. When they are finally forced by sheer necessity to shift from their position, the rules will change again and they will step on a mine. The only rule is that there are no rules.

Finger-wagging hypocrites

They say never look at the comments. I try to live by that maxim, but I am only human. While re-reading Paula Schmitt’s article about quitting RT, I got curious as to how people reacted to her article. After all, it wasn’t black and white as RT fans and enemies like to see the world. As I wrote in my own commentary on her story, Schmitt seems to have had the same epiphany that I reached, i.e. the realization that Russia is not a bulwark against anything. Russia portrays itself as the antithesis of Western capitalist hegemony when in fact it is really nothing more than a player in the global capitalist game. The only thing that differentiates Russia from the other leading industrial nations is that Russia is losing the game. In other words, Russia is like that socially awkward guy who puts a lot of effort into his attempts to woo the opposite sex, fails, and periodically declares that he isn’t interested in dating “worthless sluts” anyway. His preferences are meaningless because nobody, including those “sluts,” is willing to sleep with him.

This epiphany is troubling for people who aren’t into thinking. It is particularly disturbing to pro-Russian “geopolitical” wonks, who fervently dream of, if not masturbate to the idea of a “multipolar world.” The other “pole” would naturally be led by Russia even though there is no logical reason why this should be the case when there’s this much more powerful nation called China. I figured that Schmitt’s article would be bombarded by armchair geopolitical nerds and Russophiles demanding that she take a side, and that if she did not return to RT’s camp, at least ideologically, then she was a traitor and a shill for the Anglo-American New World Order or whatever they’re calling it these days. Perhaps there were plenty of such comments, but that’s not what I immediately found.

What I found instead were negative comments sniping at the author for having worked at RT in the first place. Indeed this has not been the first time I’ve seen people attack those who have left RT on these grounds. This is, I feel, a serious flaw in our Western mentality, the idea that people should be attacked for admitting their mistakes, even after they correct them. I often want to ask these individuals what they would rather see. Would they have preferred Ms. Schmitt simply submit to her bosses’ demands and keep working at RT? Should Sara Firth have swallowed her disgust at the channel’s coverage of the Malaysian Airlines disaster and continued to work for the channel? With this kind of smug, self-righteous, and frankly idiotic behavior, is it any wonder that there are so many people out there who will double-down on the most ridiculous claims instead of admitting they were wrong? Where’s the incentive to change for the better if people are just going to attack you for the thing you stopped doing?

Americans in particular have a serious problem with fundamental attribution error, the tendency to attribute people’s behavior to internal, inherent causes rather than circumstantial influences. In layman’s terms, other people fail because they’re lazy, stupid, or immoral, but you’ve always got a long and winding story about all the outside factors and influences which prevent you from achieving success. It’s not that this tale of unfortunate circumstances is necessarily untrue; it may very well be. The problem is that we often fail to emphasize with others and consider the outside influences behind their behavior. This seems to be the case with people who condemn those foreigners that work at RT.

Why would anyone work at RT? Well how about we start with they need a job? Gainful employment isn’t exactly very widespread in the industrialized world these days, and I happen to know that RT pays rather generously. Supposedly, and in fact according to Schmitt’s own article, RT isn’t very stringent about who it hires, but this is good for people who are just starting out in the field. Getting paid to write is not easy these days. Most of the foreigners who work at RT have no illusions about its content; they continue to work there because they need the money. Before you go condemning them for that, you might want to do some research into your own career and its industry as a whole, just to make sure that you’re squeaky clean and not a cog in a corrupt, exploitative, or possibly unethical machine. Likewise, before demanding the resignation of any foreign worker at RT, you might want to consider offering them a better or at least equal job while you’re at it.

What then, of political motives? Can employees be justly condemned on those grounds? From the information I have gathered over the years, many of the people who are attracted to RT for employment purposes aren’t raving America-haters. They tend to be people who justly dissent from the policies of their respective governments, and who are dissatisfied with with the poor quality of their often-corporate-dominated media industries. They are attracted to certain things they on RT, which purposely portrays itself as an alternative to the “Western press.” One should not assume that they are attracted to every aspect of RT or its coverage; obviously the radical leftists who find RT appealing do not do so because it often featured Ron Paul or his supporters. Their rationale, in this case, was probably very similar to my own some time ago. That is to say that while RT often had idiotic guests whose politics are repugnant to people like myself, they also gave a platform to guests who at least in part share my views, and who are generally shut out from the “mainstream” media. You could almost phrase it as a common argument in favor of free speech, namely the claim that true freedom of speech requires accepting the bad along with the good. RT might give a platform to Max Kaiser or Alex Jones, but it also gave a platform to radical leftists. It might have given a platform to me had I so desired it.

While we’re on that topic, those who insist on condemning former RT employees also ought to consider their own favored media for a moment. Recently I wrote on the differences between the Western and Russian media, and it is true that for the most part, they are not equal. This does not automatically mean, however, that the Western media is good. The difference between the Western and Russian media can be likened to the difference between eating a discarded sandwich found in a dumpster and eating a freshly-killed cat off the side of the road. One could argue that the Western media’s advantage isn’t so much that it has ethics and standards, but rather that at least it believes in these ideals, even if it often falls short. Sure, RT has some ridiculous guests and will give out authoritative titles like candy, but ask yourself if this is really that far removed from how our US media still gives a platform to pundits such as William Kristol, a man famous for being absolutely, totally wrong on almost every issue he’s ever pontificated on? Why does the US media still listen to Dick Cheney, a man who really should have just stopped talking to people, any people, years ago? Why does our media still take Thomas “So I was talking to a cab driver in Santiago” Friedman or Timothy “Just found out about WWII a couple years ago” Snyder seriously? Yes, it’s ridiculous how RT will dub some grad student a “political analyst” so he can give us the latest regurgitated Russian fantasies about how the BRICS countries will soon defeat the Anglo-American alliance. But is it not equally ridiculous to give credence to a man who writes our spouts off with the most absurd theories or revisions of well established historical fact in spite of his high academic credentials?

As if that weren’t enough, the Western media is indeed guilty of repeatedly oversimplifying complicated conflicts, taking sides, and uncritically accepting the statements of official sources. Nothing I’m saying here is particularly controversial. Numerous documentaries have been made on the subject, featuring some very respected academics and veteran journalists. Whereas the Russian press actively fabricates news, the Western press typically lies by omission. The distortion is the same, if not even worse, because Russia’s fakes are so ridiculous at times that they often totally discredit the Russian narrative. By contrast, it’s hard to indict coverage based on what they’re not showing you.

None of this excuses RT or erases the fact that the network has long since crossed the line from a potentially useful alternative source of information into a circus of propaganda and nonsense. I am making these points because I want people to better understand what might attract certain people to work at RT. I highly doubt many RT employees ever joined up because they believe Vladimir Putin’s system to be superior to Western liberal democracy. Many of them are quite aware of Russia’s problems, but they mistakenly buy into the lie that Russia somehow limits their own governments, that its existence somehow restrains Western leaders from going on an all-out imperialist offensive and establishing a corporate-dominated police state. If that is what draws them in, what right has anyone to condemn them when they realize they had been duped and refuse to continue living the lie? Would it be better for them to suppress the truth and keep espousing RT’s line? Again, where is the incentive to change if self-righteous people, many of whom might also be guilty of espousing or perpetuating false ideas and propaganda, immediately start pointing fingers and screaming about what you used to do?

If we want to live in a better world ruled by reason, we had better start doing something about this cultural failing we have, the tendency to condemn people who admit to wrongdoing instead of encouraging them to improve. When someone sincerely admits their mistakes and takes real steps to change, they deserve credit and not scorn. Otherwise we should not be confounded when people persist in promoting the most ridiculous or reprehensible ideas, doubling down every time they are challenged. Yes, some people just passionately believe in wrongheaded ideas, but some other people are just trying to protect themselves from self-righteous hypocrites who always seem to leap out of the woodwork when someone has the courage to stand up and say, “I was wrong. Here’s what I learned.”

People evolve over the course of their whole lives. Is it morally right to hold a grown adult responsible for the foolish things they believed as children or as teenagers? Of course it is not. Nor is it any more just to hold someone in their 30’s responsible for the stupid, arrogant ideas they held in their early 20’s. The learning process, the evolution, does not stop once you reach the age of majority. Changing for the better, even abruptly so, is far more admirable than being wrong solely for the sake of consistency.

Schmitt has done all of us a great service not only by exposing the bizarro-world mindset of the people who run Russia’s propaganda organs, highlighting for example their preference of the “perception of truth” over actual truth, but also simply by sharing her realization that RT and Russia are not against the system, but rather part of it.  She deserves commendation and encouragement for her actions, not derision and hypocritical condemnation.

We don’t care about your sanctions! Hey, where are you going? Come back! Aren’t you AFRAID of us?

Hey everyone! Remember Pyotr Romanov? Of course you do! He’s the one who told us all kinds of fairy tales about how Russians believe in justice without laws, and how they’ll happily endure any hardship when they think they’re right, as with the annexation of the Crimea. He told us sanctions were useless, but also passive-aggressively suggested that the West remove them, because supposedly the same people who will endure any hardship don’t like “unnecessary troubles.”  Well guess what- because there never seems to be a Bolshevik firing squad around when you need one, Romanov is back with another hilarious article in The Moscow Times.  And this time, he’s upset.

A Russian friend who relocated to London a few years ago responded to a comment I made on Facebook concerning the start of the Cold War. With self-satisfied irony he wrote: “To be honest, the West does not really care much about Russia.”

How strange! Of course, it is very possible that his British neighbors and friends are too preoccupied with their house, lawn, car, children, dentist, etc. to worry about a Cold War with Russia.

Pyotr is dumbfounded at the idea that Westerners, Britons in this case, don’t care about Russia, much less a Cold War with Russia. This is because as is typical for his ilk, he imagines that Russia is this incredibly important center of global civilization. In reality, even now with Russia in the news every night, most Westerners, including Americans, simply do not care about Russia. If this weren’t true, my email and message inboxes would be jam-packed with messages, full of questions about what is going on in Russia. Guess what- they aren’t. Even close friends and family members rarely ask me anything about this country, even during international crises like the present one. There’s a reason why RT barely got any viewers back in its early days when it was actually about life in Russia. It’s the same reason why the all-time record for most views in a single day on this blog was, by far, a satirical post about Gamergate. People in the West just don’t give a shit about Russia.

They haven’t given a shit since 1991. This is because the conflict which existed between the West and Russia during the Cold War was an ideological conflict, whereas your modern Russian pseudo-intellectual wants to believe there is some kind of eternal East/West divide that drives the conflict. Or I should say it is a Russia/West divide, since these same Russians certainly don’t want to be associated with Chinese, Arabs, or any of the other dozen or so groups they harbor prejudices against. Perhaps they are reluctant to admit it was an ideological conflict because doing so would be an admission that they betrayed that ideology and were thus responsible for the state of their country today- a major no-no for your average “patriotic” Russian these days. That, however, is a topic for another article.

What the reader must understand is that Romanov’s friend, by pointing out an obvious fact, shook Romanov’s little world to its foundations. There is nothing more devastating you can say to someone like him than reminding him that the West not only isn’t afraid of Russia, but that it doesn’t even care. For Romanov and many Russians, they will indeed live in utter shit, with no rights under a government that so clearly has nothing but contempt for them, so long as they have this idea that they are either making someone else miserable, such as the Ukrainians, or that they are feared by someone, such as the Americans or Europeans. Just like an angsty teenager, any attention is good attention, and Romanov and his ilk possess minds which do not develop beyond the level of teens. The tantrum doesn’t take long to begin.

But what will happen tomorrow when the average Westerner finally realizes that his whole life — his house, children, car and even his dentist — is under threat? What thoughts will run through his head when he comes to understand that the politicians he elected behaved in such an unfriendly way toward Russia that the Russian politicians elected by the people of this country made equally unfriendly moves in response? And that everything simply went downhill from there?

Gee Pyotr, I don’t know how to answer that because all those things aren’t under threat from your basketcase, corrupt nation run by thieves, con-men, and imbeciles. Petey, sweetheart, we’ve been over this road before, remember? You continue to lie to your people as reality starts to cave in on them on all sides. Eventually people get fed up and demand change. The system collapses, people start stealing, then some slick, authoritarian figure promises he can give you stability so long as everyone is willing to give up their freedom. You make that bargain, agreeing with him that your nation’s last failure was all the West’s fault. They imposed Putin on you; he was doing the Americans’ bidding! Then your new leader, unable to deliver on his many promises because he only sought power so as to be in the best position to rob your nation blind, begins shrieking about the evil West more and more. This shrieking builds up to aggressive foreign policy designed to provoke the West, Russia gets isolated again, and the cycle begins a new. Some people just aren’t fast learners.  It might happen next year, or it could be two or three years away. How long is unimportant; a state so disconnected from reality is living on borrowed time.

Now this is a bit of an aside, but I love how he talks about these different nations, the collective “West” and Russia, electing their leaders. In the West, leaders change. In Russia, according to the government’s own claims, their country has produced just one qualified national leader in 25 years. One. There is only one person who can actually run Russia, otherwise the whole thing falls apart over night. All of Russia’s natural resources are given to America in exchange for cheeseburgers, and all Russian citizens instantly become homosexuals, thus utterly ending Russian reproduction and by extension, the Russian people as a whole.  No, Pyotr, we’re not dealing with equals here.

Anyway, terribly upset that those decadent, well-to-do Westerners aren’t shaking in their boots about Russia, Romanov turns to passive-aggressive threats, the Russian pseudo-intellectual’s weapon of choice.

Ordinary citizens remain calm because of the simple fact that they typically do not know the full picture — nor do they try to know it. It is easier to live that way. Just the same, it is time to wake up and recognize what is happening. This is no Hollywood blockbuster unfolding outside our windows, but a force majeure of international proportions. True, it is not the first that the world has experienced, but knowing what hardships previous conflicts have brought to mankind should motivate us to try to prevent any more from occurring.

First of all, Mr. Romanov, if you’re so concerned about a massive military conflict, lobby your government to end its support for armed insurgents in Ukraine, and its illegal occupation of the Crimean peninsula.  Oh wait, that’s right, you can’t, at least not if you want to keep your job, stay out of jail, or not get beaten by masked thugs outside your apartment building one night.

In fact, the world began living under the real threat of nuclear war long before the Cuban Missile Crisis, although that confrontation was one of the most dangerous moments of the first Cold War. And fortunately for mankind, sensible politicians always emerged who could put a stop to the ambitions of the warmongers.

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen. As is typical for this sort of Russian, he brings up nuclear weapons, as though that’s going to make a difference. The USSR had plenty of nukes, none of which saved it from destruction. Russia’s nukes won’t save it either, especially because nuclear missiles aren’t edible. Romanov, in spite of being a “historian,” doesn’t seem to be familiar with the concept of “mutually assured destruction.” If Russia launches its nuked, Russia is destroyed forever, with far less probability of survival due to its poorer infrastructure and much lower population. China might also flip a few nukes at Russia for attacking its most valuable trade partner, and to help secure whatever land it can in Siberia.  Of course, it would be difficult to tell exactly which parts of Russia got nuked and which did not, as the difference wouldn’t be clear in some areas of the country, but that is unimportant.

Pyotr, stop talking about nuclear weapons. Nobody is afraid of your country’s nukes. Nobody is afraid of your country beyond a few former Soviet republics. If your delusional president ever presses that button, everything you have will be gone. Your dacha, and all your precious jars of pickles will be reduced to radioactive ashes. RADIOACTIVE ASHES!  Seriously, shut the fuck up.

Romanov’s second idiotic article demonstrates the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t nature of trying to communicate with Russian supporters of the state. If you acknowledge that relations are bad and there’s a new Cold War, then you’re engaging in aggression against Russia. If  you don’t, they agitate and rail against the West until people start reacting, and then that just proves their original claims. One should ask, what does Romanov want when he says Westerners should care about his precious new Cold War? Should they band together and take a more resolute stance against Russia? Oh no, of course not! Russia has nukes, remember! No, what they should do, if Romanov’s previous article is any indication, is give in to Russia and let it do what it wants. To use Putin’s metaphor, leave the bear alone in the forest to eat berries, honey, and do some other assorted Winnie the Pooh-style shit.

The problem with that idea is that it implies that Russia was just minding its own business when the aggressive West came in and started slapping sanctions on Russia for no reason. Reality is quite the opposite. For years the West turned a blind eye to Putin and his cronies. Western capital flowed into Russia and Russia’s oligarchs stowed their ill-gotten wealth in Cyprus, the UK, France, and the US. Of course as the consequences of this system continued to mount, the state ramped up its anti-Western rhetoric, which usually went ignored back when times were good. Unfortunately for the Kremlin, the Western response was still too apathetic. Ukraine’s Maidan movement was an embarrassment to the Kremlin, but it brought a double opportunity- win back local support and pick a fight with the West. Nobody can deny that this new Cold War has benefited Putin, at least in the short term. It’s also the nail in the coffin for Russia, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

The moral of this story is that the best defense against Putin’s Russia is not the fear-mongering of Edward Lucas; that only pleases people like Romanov and the other Putin hacks out there. Rather it is best remaining calm and collected, always reminding people like Romanov how insignificant his country really is.  As a good friend of mine used to put it, there are people in provincial Russia who will think about America several times in one day. They know that there is a place called Kentucky. By contrast, there are millions of Americans in major cities like Chicago, LA, New York, or Boston, who go days without ever thinking about Russia. None of them know that there’s a place inside the Russian Federation called Bashkortostan, and few of them could name another Russian city besides Moscow. It’s not that they’re horribly uneducated either. It’s simply that they don’t care, and they’ve never had to care.

Romanov needs to understand that while all his home-spun delusions are really meaningful to him, in the eyes of most of the world Russia is essentially a laughing stock at worst, and at best a wacky, crazy land where up is down and cats chase dogs. It is not mysterious or enigmatic. It is simple.  More than that, people like him must be reminded that this sad state of affairs, which was by no means always the case for Russia and certainly doesn’t need to be, is in fact the fault of people like him. It’s not the Americans, the Jews, the Masons, the British, the fifth column or the sixth column. It’s people like him, with their utter lack of ethics and principles, their laziness, their immaturity, their envy, and their hatred.  People like Romanov must be reminded every day how much richer Russia would be without them.

You have had 25 years to make something of this vast, rich country. Instead you have run it into the ground. Obviously you are unable to handle the responsibility. In the words of Oliver Cromwell, “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

RT’s silver lining

So today I was reading the story of yet another RT employee who quit. The story is in many ways quite similar to other RT dissident narratives, and I indulged in a silent chuckle when the author said Max Kaiser is somehow helping the world, but by the time I got to the end something suddenly leaped out at me. Perhaps RT could actually have a positive effect in the world. Wait! At least hear me out before you throw that shoe at me!

While the author comes off as ridiculously idealist at times, take a look at this excerpt:

 In an ideal world RT would not need to exist, but neither would the increasingly awful CNN, or the now even worse BBC World. If the only way we can evade a monopoly of ideas is by promoting the other side of the same coin, I want the other side to have its voice. But here is where we reach another problem, one that is perhaps even more harmful than having a coin with only one side: having chosen this damn coin in the first place, this flattened, two-sided fallacy as the representative of the world we desire, when issues don’t only have two sides, and they need not be so almost equally horrendous. This manufactured dissent created around the U.S. and Russia is extremely harmful because it helps entrench the belief that Russia and the U.S. are antithetical, when in fact they are much more like each other than Sweden is to the U.S., or Finland to England.

Now the reader can take issue with the author’s equivalency between RT on one hand, and CNN and BBC on the other. I personally want to look past that because I see something far more important. For one thing, the author is correct to suggest that America and Russia have more in common with each other than they do with other European nations, and it’s not a good thing.  More importantly though, the author let’s us in on their realization, driven home by real life experience, that Russia is not antithetical to America. Russia is not the alternative to all the things we see wrong with the US.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, that might sound awfully familiar. I’ve been pointing this out in numerous articles, mostly about RT. Now here’s another person who’s “been there,” so to speak, and comes away with the same conclusion. This could be a potential positive effect of RT. Whereas I actually had to physically move to Russia just to learn how it wasn’t an alternative to the American capitalism which had made me felt so alienated, this person only needed to experience Russia at a distance, in a smaller dose.  It’s as if her bosses brought Russia to her.

So here we have a process which starts with RT and the rest of the Russian press portraying Russia as something it is not.  This generally works on people who don’t care to dig deeper, who never imagine going to Russia, or who never plan to work for RT.  But those who are most passionate about this idea of an alternative to hegemony will be drawn in, and therein lies the problem because Russia’s whole propaganda narrative is basically a cheesy sitcom plot where the teenage playboy tries to pull off two simultaneous dates on the same night.  Everything goes smoothly until one date accidentally runs into the other.  So it is with Russia. They get you worked up and passionate about how Russia is this heart of resistance to the capitalist, globalized hegemony, but this only works so long as you never call Russia’s bluff. As soon as you get to see what the “alternative” is, you suddenly realize that it isn’t an alternative at all, and in many ways its far worse than the system you were opposing.

One might object and say that there are few people who actually will put their money where their mouth is, be it by moving to Russia or working for a company like RT. Indeed that number is small, but these tend to be more sincere and passionate. One such person is worth ten or twenty internet-based shut-ins who wage war against “the hegemony” from their sweat soaked office chairs in their parents’ houses.  As these more passionate, dedicated people learn the truth about these failed populist ideas that Russia’s been peddling, they’ll spread the word far and wide. Russia is not our savior, our bulwark against the system, they will say aloud. Russia is the system.

Time and travel has convinced me that “anti-hegemony” politics and the illusion of some kind of anti-imperialist bulwark against capitalism is one of the most ideologically bankrupt ideas ever to survive the Cold War. That is in fact where this dissident love of Russia is rooted. So many people want to believe that the Soviet Union, perhaps not as a socialist base but rather a powerful counterweight, still exists. They want to believe that they have a patron out there with an army and nuclear weapons. In reality their staunch defense of Russia and its policies essentially consigns millions of Russian citizens to indignities and suffering which these same people have never been subjected to by their own governments.  That’s not to say they shouldn’t be protesting against their governments. On the contrary, they ought to be out in the streets more often instead of defending a foreign government that actually cares less about them than it does its own people, and there are few things Russia’s government cares less about than the Russian people.

So perhaps RT does have a positive effect. It lures people in, but Russia cannot deliver on its promises of an alternative. As a result, some people learn, as did Paula, as did I, that Russia is neither salvation nor an alternative to the problems of our capitalist world. Russia is just a symptom.