I’m probably going to get a bit of flak for this rant, but at least take into account the context. Today thousands of Russians attended a demonstration in Moscow to declare their absolute loyalty to the government that routinely steals from them, destroys any prospect for a healthy future, and generally treats them like children. Since its obvious that the action is largely financed by the state, it serves as yet another example of how that state, rather than actually fix problems and cultivate genuine patriotism, prefers instead to piss away money suppressing people’s complaints about said problems. This, of course, is a recipe for disaster and it serves as another reminder that squirm and thrash as it might, Putin’s Russia is in for a spectacular collapse. It may not be this year, nor the next, but it’s coming.
In general I would say I regret this. However misguided I might have been as a young man, I loved Russia and did not want to see her destroyed and humiliated again. But when I look at something like this idiotic Million Moron March and see how readily people will come out and bend over for a few hundred rubles or because their bosses told them to, it just washes away any pity I might have for them. You see these state workers like teachers and medical personnel, who have already started experiencing cutbacks and layoffs, and they dutifully come out to support the same people who are ordering the cuts so as to preserve their own luxurious lifestyles.
Back when the Tea Party movement became popular in America, I used to say it was regrettable that these people would never get what they said they wanted, i.e. a massive gutting of all government services. A common feature of the Tea Party, and indeed American conservatives to this day, is that when it comes to government spending, they seemed to go by the following rubric:
1. Government spending that benefits me personally is necessary and good.
2. Government spending that does not clearly benefit me personally is wasteful and wrong.
This is why you’d see so many elderly Tea Partiers screaming about taxes and “socialism” while benefiting from things like Medicare, Social Security, and in some cases, government pensions. This is why people who receive farm subsidies or government contract jobs could come out and rail against “wasteful spending.” People who received a college education thanks to the US military had no problem screaming about “fiscal responsibility.”
The reason all these people can continue to support a party and policies which go against their best interests is because they will never actually get the “small government” they want. The old folks will still get their Medicare and other state benefits. The farmer keeps getting his subsidy, the military retiree keeps getting his pension from Uncle Sam, the contractor keeps getting those juicy government contracts. This is because capitalist libertarianism is essentially a fraud. It’s promoted by the richest class, aimed at the middle strata, the people who are sure they too would be millionaires if it weren’t for all the wasteful spending, taxes, and regulations. The actual billionaire knows how important the state is to his business, and thus is happy to conclude government contracts or lobby for tax breaks and deregulation while the rubes go out and scream about illegal immigrants taking benefits they aren’t even eligible for. For all its talk of small government, the Republican party is still rooted in reality, if only behind closed doors. Thus, Johnny Jerkoff in his tri-corner hat will never be told one day that he’s getting laid off because the government decided to stop contracting and to let the market decide how to maintain infrastructure.
Russia, of course, doesn’t have such a system. It is no longer run by people who have any grasp of reality. When the ruble took a dive last December, within weeks you had Duma deputies seriously claiming that the Russian central bank was working for the United States. Today they sponsored a rally against a revolutionary opposition movement that doesn’t exist. From Putin on down, Russia is governed by people with one singular purpose, preserve the wealth they have or steal until they achieve the lifestyle they desire. This means that when it comes down to their luxury cottages or the babushkas and their local health clinic, the latter don’t stand a chance. This also means that when those same babushkas take hand outs to go and protest in favor of that same government, I can’t really feel sorry for them when the consequences of their actions.
Perhaps we live in a world which has grown too soft. We have people who weep for the suffering of people in Donetsk and Lugansk who supported a separatist uprising and invasion and now cry about how their cities have been destroyed and they were cut off from their pensions and salaries. Indeed, there are people in these cases who are genuinely innocent, and I do reserve pity for them, but I’m beginning to think that people who set fire to their own houses need to live with the consequences of their actions.
In short, the price of human stupidity has become far too cheap in modern times. There’s always some journalist who will listen to your story of how you did something incredibly stupid and now you’re paying for it, and you’ll be totally absolved of your complicity and portrayed as this victim of unhappy circumstances. When the price of stupidity is cheap, people will be more inclined to dabble in it. They will not learn any valuable lessons.
Some may say it is cruel to demand that the price of stupidity remain ever high. I object. It is not cruelty to allow people who engage in self-destructive actions on such a massive scale to face the consequences of those actions without being bailed out by those of us who would never engage in such idiocy. People who engage in these actions get other, truly innocent people in trouble or in some cases, killed. It’s the latter we should save our pity for.
So let us not waste our compassion on those who won’t appreciate it anyway. Let people suffer the awful consequences of their actions and do not give them an ounce of pity until they publicly declare that they were wrong, explain why they were wrong, and tell us what they indeed to do to rectify their past actions.
When inflation continues to rise and price goods beyond the range of those pensioners and students who came out to kiss government ass, maybe then they’ll realize they chose the wrong side. They wanted a strong leader, they got it. They wanted the “stability” of dictatorship instead of freedom and actual stability that comes from rule of law, they got that too. The more a leader receives praise from the people he abuses, the more brazen and bold he will become. They’ve bolstered his faith in their submissiveness. Let them suffer the consequences and serve as a lesson to all those who were at least smart enough to abstain from such stupidity.