Nothing lasts forever

One funny thing about American Team Russia fanatics and Zerohedge types is that they get really angry when you start to point out how horribly their predictions have failed throughout history. On the rare occasions they have been right, it’s either because they’re prediction happened to sync up with those of other, less-delusional individuals, or it was a busted clock scenario, e.g. people predicting doom and gloom forever were “vindicated” by the crisis of 2008. Aside from those precious few examples, they are hilariously wrong almost every time. Every year the collapse of the dollar is just around the corner. Every year we’re just a few months away from seeing the BRICS alliance conquer the EU and the US. Russia will lead them to victory! You’ll see! You’ll all see!

Of course that’s not what happens. At no time in the past twenty-five years has Russia managed to seriously rival the US, Western Europe, or other leading industrial countries in terms of living standards or economic success. They say the dollar will collapse and yet now that poor dollar buys around 60 rubles.  Russia’s supposed to become this economic powerhouse and yet most former Soviet republics now do most of their trading with either the European Union or China in the case of the Central Asian states.  What I’m saying is that you can pile up all the negative trends and indicators for the American or EU economy to your heart’s content, but in nearly every single case, Russia is worse off, sometimes much more so.  This isn’t “anti-Russian,” it’s just simple concrete fact. Many of these geopolitical “analysts” even admit this from time to time, but they always assure us that Putin’s got some ace up his sleeve that will turn the tables any day now.

I’ve noticed that when you point out Russia’s deficiencies in comparison to the hated “West”, you’re suddenly accused of believing that the US and EU are eternal, without blame or blemish, and that the dollar will forever be the world’s reserve currency. This is simply absurd. There is a difference from pointing out that someone’s doom and gloom predictions aren’t born out by material reality and claiming that this current situation is permanent.  No, the United States will probably not last forever, and it certainly won’t be on top of the world forever either. In fact there’s a strong argument that it’s not on top today, because the world isn’t as polar as it used to be. That being the case, however, the bottom line is that the US is doing much better than Russia, and Russia’s “allies” like China benefit very much from their relationship with the US. Their leadership doesn’t suffer from delusions about some “historical mission” or nostalgia for the Cold War. China has turned its relationship with the US into concrete results. Putin’s Russia allowed a small coterie of oligarchs to rob their country blind and leave it utterly dependent on natural resources, much like Zaire.

The point to take away here is that what Russia is doing simply isn’t working, and Russia cannot live vicariously through BRICS countries which are successful like India and China. As I’ve said before, the very term BRICS is obsolete. Russia’s economy is shrinking, not rapidly growing, and capital has nearly deserted it. Rapid growth and massive foreign investment were part of the criteria for the BRICS. Russia’s not meeting either of those means that it’s really BICS. If we look at the US and Russia and decide which one is more likely to collapse in the next decade or so, all indicators point to Russia. I’m terribly sorry, but that’s not a matter for “debate.”

One should also remember that while the US will probably further decline in power one day, there’s no reason to make assumptions about Balkan-style civil war or a Mad Max-style apocalypse. In Russia and corrupt countries like Ukraine, change is apocalyptic because those in power are incredibly corrupt, there’s no concept of public good, no rule of law, and few if any mechanisms for people to influence political change in a non-violent manner. Disagree? Guess what- we actually have a case of an industrial country experiencing a major economic collapse. The results are interesting. Even a collapse of the Russian regime, which is inevitable sooner or later, will most likely not lead to post-apocalyptic chaos, even though much of the country already looks post-apocalyptic. As chaotic as the 90’s were, the country held together and many people got through it successfully. There are still many countries where the experiences Russia had in the 90’s are daily norms.

Predicting America’s collapse has become an entertaining fantasy for some people. For Americans, it’s a great way to avoid actually going out and doing something to change the status quo. For those who espouse more radical views, it’s a great way to explain why they aren’t willing to engage in any real activities to further their goals. “People are too fat and happy right now,” they say. “Wait until there’s chaos in the streets and the government can’t protect them, then we’ll come out and make a revolution!”  Sure you will. Sure you will.   The guy who spends all his time on internet forums posting economic theory he learned on other internet forums is going to take to the hills and become the libertarian version of Mao Zedong just as soon as the power grid is down, the police forces disband, and the streets are filled with angry mobs searching for food and anything of value.  I totally believe that.

Before total social, economic, and political meltdown.

Before total social, economic, and political meltdown.

After total social, economic, political meltdown.

After total social, economic, political meltdown.

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13 thoughts on “Nothing lasts forever

  1. Atharvan

    1. ” Putin’s Russia allowed a small coterie of oligarchs to rob their country blind and leave it utterly dependent on natural resources, much like Zaire.”

    This is not true. It was “Eltsin’s Russia”, not “Putin’s Russia”.

    2. Yep, we are dependent on natural resources. But then again, every one is. Real situation is always a bit more complex, more complicated, than “dependence on resources”, even in Russia.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      1. You realize that Yeltsin’s Russia has been gone for 15 years now, right? Either Putin supposedly raised Russia out of that or he hasn’t. Take your pick and let’s start from there.

      2. Apparently you misunderstand what dependence on natural resources means. What I mean is that Russia’s economy is dependent on natural resources, mostly oil and gas. This money was not spent wisely. Medvedev and even Putin at times have made such admissions.

      The situation is not complicated at all. The country is run by a small coterie of oligarchs with absolute power. When times were good, they allowed more to trickle down to the peasants. As things contracted, the risk is shifted to the working people and those at the top carefully horde what they’ve got.

      Reply
      1. Atharvan

        The thing is, any country is dependent on something. Some – on world trade, some on oil and gas, some on cheap labour force (like China). Only those are independent, who have nothing at all.

        By the way, as far as I remember, oil and gas do not even comprise half of our GDP. You should rather say, the state budget is dependent on gas and oil, not economy as a whole. But searching for figures gets a bit too complicated sometimes, doesn’t it? And why bother, if “The situation is not complicated at all.” This is a good way to end any discussion, by the way, thank you, I’ll make use of it in future talks.

        “The country is run by a small coterie of oligarchs with absolute power” Why even mention “Putin” then? You seem to think he is responsible for something after all, you seem even to blame him for something.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Uh yeah, countries are dependent, interdependent, even. That’s why it’s ridiculous to portray one’s country as standing against some capitalist new world order when it is in fact not.

        Also the fact that the state budget is dependent on those resources ignores the influence the state has on the rest of the economy here.

        Guess who’s at the top of that coterie of oligarchs I mentioned? Putin. Who hands out state enterprises and positions to his friends? Please, tell me who else was in charge of this country(besides Medvedev) that is responsible for this state of affairs. Who consolidated so much power into their hands? People like you are happy to attribute all of Russia’s earlier successes to Putin, but then suddenly you don’t want him to answer for the failures.

        Have all these failures been occurring without Putin’s direction, without his intervention or possibly knowledge? If so, what sort of leader is he?

    2. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Also your claim that Putin’s Russia is different from Yeltsin’s based on oligarchs is simply wrong. Putin merely replaced Yeltsin’s oligarchs with people loyal to him. They still live the same lifestyle as those who were with Yeltsin. And no Berezovsky, no Yeltsin- no Putin.

      Reply
      1. Atharvan

        Well, Putin’s Russia is obviously very different from Eltsin’s. For one, we are much more powerfull now. Oh, I nearly forgot, we won several wars and we have a tiny bit of our lands back now. By which I mean Crimea, of course.

        But that is not what I wanted to tell you. Rather than that, I would point out your logical mistakes.

        First you seem to think, that parents are the same persons as children. You see, “No Parents – no Children”. No Eltsin, no Putin. No Adam and Eva, no Stalin, for one.

        And then again, you should make up your mind: either Putin exists and decides something and has power, and then he IS to blame (or to praise, for a change) for something, or Russia is run by several oligarchs, and Putin decides nothing, but then, why blame him?

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “Well, Putin’s Russia is obviously very different from Eltsin’s. For one, we are much more powerfull now.”

        Actually you’re not. Look at your economy and the conditions China is imposing on your country. Welcome to neo-colonialism, my friend.

        ” Oh, I nearly forgot, we won several wars and we have a tiny bit of our lands back now. By which I mean Crimea, of course.”

        You won a war with Chechnya by turning part of the government(Kadyrov), and a war with Georgia(WOW!). As for Crimea, you’ve basically fucked your entire economy and future for a piece of land Russians had far more access to when it was in Ukraine.

        “But that is not what I wanted to tell you. Rather than that, I would point out your logical mistakes.”

        Russian Putin supporter talks about logic. This will be hilarious.

        “First you seem to think, that parents are the same persons as children. You see, “No Parents – no Children”. No Eltsin, no Putin. No Adam and Eva, no Stalin, for one.”

        This isn’t logic. This is a children’s nursery rhyme of some sort.

        “And then again, you should make up your mind: either Putin exists and decides something and has power, and then he IS to blame (or to praise, for a change) for something, or Russia is run by several oligarchs, and Putin decides nothing, but then, why blame him?”

        Again, Putin cultivated, installed, and protects these oligarchs. They are mostly his friends and friends of friends, some of them from his teenage years. You can’t be unaware of this. Nobody has ever suggested that Putin is single-handedly running every aspect of the country. He hands out enterprises or positions to people who give him loyalty, much like a feudal leader.

        The point is, he HAS consolidated this power into his hands and he has asserted that he is uniquely qualified to run Russia. So if all these failures are happening on his watch, what sort of leader is he? If he isn’t responsible for the actions of these oligarchs, who is?

        He’s either responsible, or utterly incompetent.

    3. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Also you really need to stop listening to your pseudo-intellectuals and media, which tells you that every country has the same problems. Occasionally that’s true, but that doesn’t really help you with your problems, does it? The United States has a problem with police brutality and racism, but I guarantee you if someone came up to those protesters and said they should stop because it can be worse in Russia, they’d probably get punched. And rightfully so.

      Reply
      1. Atharvan

        “The United States has a problem with police brutality and racism, but I guarantee you if someone came up to those protesters and said ” that the US should stop acting like a saint judge, who is to decide, who is good and who is evil, then perhaps it should be a good thing to say.

        A person, guilty of a crime, should not become a judge, isn’t it rational?

        And it is that the US acts like it is entitled to judge others in spite of the fact, that they have the very same drawbacks as the US (like torturing prisoners, maybe?), that is an act against logic.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I should also point out that if the US president’s solution to unemployment was the reannexation of the Philippines, he would be removed from office and the country would turn against him. In America you cannot sell a war with conquest- you must twist it into some kind of humanitarian intervention or a defensive move, no matter how absurd that may be.

      3. Jim Kovpak Post author

        See here’s where your whataboutist logic fails.

        You say a person guilty of a crime, yet your government is guilty of a far more severe crime, with far more offenses, and most of those crimes are against its own people. The two defendants are not equal. At the very least, in the US people can organize and get justice. Try that in Russia and you’ll be labeled a Fifth column and government paid thugs will call you American agents.

        The other failure you show here, is that you assume that I’m taking the US’ side. When I say that these two countries are not equal in terms of human rights records, that is a simple statement of measurable fact. We can look at acquittal rates in the US and Russia, for example. We can look at things such as people getting prosecuted for anti-government speech. Hell, last year the US government backed down against a farmer who had stolen $2 million from them, and whose supporters pointed guns at federal agents.

        Again, these are just facts. I think most of you people who can only think in false dichotomies expect me to come out in defense of the US and say, “How dare you! The United States is a democracy and it has the right to invade Iraq!” Nope, sorry. I’m a radical. The difference is that unlike you, I have principle, so I speak out against the US government when it screws its citizens, and I do the same when it comes to Russia. If I lived in Germany for years I’d be doing the same here. Principles.

        The problem is that like most whataboutists, you spread this typically Kremlin-inspired cynical viewpoint: Russia is bad, but all countries are bad, so let’s just mind our business and continue to be bad.

  2. Jim Kovpak Post author

    Speaking of which, have your tortured anyone? What’s to stop you from standing up to your own government. Oh, right, you think the Crimea is “yours.” More land = stronger! That’s so precious.

    Reply

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