Syridiocy

Alright so this is the first post since the horrendous terrorist attacks in Paris. As an avid user of Twitter, I got tipped off to the attacks almost immediately, but I figured it would be prudent to wait for reactions before pontificating on the matter. Naturally many of the reactions on social media were similar, rants against “The Muslims” vs. equally ignorant, patronizing rants about how this has “nothing to do with Islam.” I guess false dichotomies aren’t limited discourse about Russia it seems.

Aaaaanyway… Reactions to the terror in Russia were pretty predictable. I say predictable because I was at the French embassy to get interviews with Russians laying flowers in response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and then we all saw what the Russian media did almost immediately after that. It was the same thing this time. Russian politicians express sympathy and condolences while their media attacks the victim country, even as it claims it wants to improve relations. Now I want to make one thing extremely clear. Nobody should assume that those Russians who expressed sympathy for France are hypocrites; they are not representatives of their government or media. The hypocrisy is on the part of Russian politicians and pundits who talk out both sides of their mouths on this and pretty much every other issue. For a good rundown of what Russia’s media and leaders have been saying behind France’s back, check out this column by Julia Ioffe. Though I must deduct 1 million points from her for using the “From Russia with X” cliche. Shame.

Now onto my thoughts. Any time something like this happens, you can basically play a game of bingo with people’s idiotic responses. What I’ve decided to do is give a listicle-style summary of all the idiotic things I’ve heard in response to this terrorist attack. Enjoy:

Why does everyone care so much about Paris? Ukrainian soldiers are dying on the front line right now!

I am sad to report that it does seem fighting is still going on along the front in Ukraine. That being said, some Ukrainians and Ukraine supporters clearly know nothing about how to attract international sympathy and support. See the key word in these two situations is “soldiers.” As regrettable as it is, Ukraine is involved in a war, the largest since the Yugoslav Wars of Secession in the 1990’s. People are expected to die in wars, especially the soldiers who fight in them. Paris hasn’t seen war more or less since the end of summer 1944.

Keep in mind people were dying in Chechnya and Dagestan around the time of 9/11. Maybe everyone should have shut up and focused on that part of the world instead of New York, huh?

France is paying a price for its tolerance! 

This is some of that ill-will Ioffe was writing about- Russian pundits, the very next day, attacking France for its immigration policies and “tolerance,” which is a dirty word in Russia. Let’s break this down for a second. Without any moral judgement whatsoever, which nation is more “tolerant” to Muslims? In France, I believe they still ban the wearing of religious symbols in schools (feel free to correct me in the comments). France has a very strict ban on any kind of anti-blasphemy law, which is why Charlie Hebdo was able to step on the toes of any religion as it pleased. Obviously the intolerant fanatics who attacked the publication’s editorial board weren’t to happy about that. Russia on the other hand, is most accommodating to Muslims, including those who would kill someone for defaming the prophet. In Russia, caricatures of Mohammed and other religious figures have been formally banned for years now, long before the massacre in Paris. In response to that attack, state-funded Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov held a million-man rally in support of the Prophet Mohammed, whereas a single man standing on Manezh square holding a “Je suis Charlie” sign was arrested. As far as I know, France forbids polygamy. Russia on the other hand, tolerates it.

As for immigration, Russia’s laws are indeed strict, but that hasn’t stopped countless individuals from Muslim Central Asian countries from working and living in Russia and its capital, though they are a ready source of bribes for Russia’s cops. There has been a reduction in Central Asian immigrant in Russia recently, but this is due to the economic crisis. I should also point out that Moscow has to close streets to accommodate worshipers at its mosques, whereas I’m guessing Paris has no need for this as it probably has far more mosques. So while Paris may have more mosques, these don’t inconvenience anyone, unlike in Moscow where the mayor bans building of new mosques and thus creates traffic problems instead.

Russia’s pundits and ideologues love to lecture far more successful nations about concepts they don’t understand, such as tolerance. For France to actually take Russia’s advice then, they’d have to first choose one very short man and make him virtual president for life. Then all major media outlets should be consolidated under state control, owned by his friends or friends of friends. Increasingly tightening regulations can be used to keep the rest of the media in order. Then some of France’s biggest industries should be partially nationalized, with the new president’s friends taking over their administration. They should be allowed to siphon money from the companies profits instead of passing the revenue onto the public. Meanwhile France should choose one of the most radical Muslims on its territory and give him a province to run on his own. He will not be bound by French laws and will be more or less able to act as an independent ruler while he receives numerous state awards as well as billions of euros from the French national budget.

That, France, is how you deal with terrorism the Russian way!*

*Country may still have some terrorism. Results will vary.

Assad is the real reason for ISIS! 

Okay no. Just no. Look, Assad is bad, but this argument is simply infantile. The invasion of Iraq and the failure to build any kind of functioning state apart from Kurdistan (which was already de facto independent in 2003) are the root causes of ISIS. If Assad goes, ISIS isn’t going to stop fighting. Sunnis aren’t going to desert ISIS, Al Nusra, and all those other unsavory groups just because Assad leaves. After all, there are in fact moderate, non-jihadist groups that Sunnis could join now, or they could just leave like so many other Syrians have done so far.

The fact is that everyone fucked the dog on Syria. Everyone.

The Russians are bombing civilian targets! 

Hey guess what. And did you hear about France’s recent retaliatory strikes against ISIS in Raqqa? Yeah, about that. This isn’t whataboutery; it’s simple military science. Bombs explode and throw fragments all over the place at high speeds, specifically speeds that make it possible for them to penetrate your flesh, shatter your bones, and sever limbs. The rocket or bomb may be “precision guided,” but the shock waves, the rapidly expanding hot gasses, and the fragments they propel are not. Ironically in this sense, the US’ drone strikes are actually one of the most humane forms of war even in spite of the civilian casualties they have wrought.

Why aren’t people talking about the destruction of the Russian airliner in the same way they are about Paris?

First of all, note that I personally changed the picture and header message on this blog about two days after I returned to Russia (I was unable to do so while abroad). I think this is a valid question, but I have to remind people that the Russian government still hasn’t come out and declared the destruction of Metrojet and its 224 passengers to be an act of terrorism.* Why? I suspect cowardice.

They beat their chests about how they were going to destroy ISIS, even though most of their airstrikes in Syria have been against nearly everybody but ISIS. Not known for being any more logical than the Russian government, ISIS picked up the gauntlet, made some threats, and then claimed credit for the downed airliner. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It was supposed to be a kickass, consequence-free war in which Russia plays the hero that saves the world from ISIS. Now Russians are being reminded of the horrors of the 90’s and 2000’s, with its Nord-Ost, Beslan, and various bombings in public places.

Worse still, Russia doesn’t possess the military power sufficient to wage a massive retaliatory strike. After 9/11, the US responded by promptly kicking the shit out of the Taliban and taking over Afghanistan. As idiotic as it was, it then conquered Iraq. There’s a certain relevance in this for Russia because Putin’s base, the vatniks, are much like American conservatives and soccer-moms in the wake of 9/11. They don’t really know what’s going on, but they’re afraid, and they want someone to just do something. Bombing and invading keeps them satisfied to some degree, and in the case of the US that was enough to get Bush reelected in spite of his failure to find Bin Laden or the fact that his WMDs in Iraq never materialized. Russia can’t do anything like this, which brings me to the next stupid idea…

The world should join Russia in the fight against ISIS! 

This is another attempt by Russia’s leadership to cajole the West into letting them off the hook for Ukraine. It’s also another attempt to pretend to be friendly while the domestic media continues to stir up anti-Western hatred every night. As I mention in the previous point, Russia doesn’t really have the capacity to make any major decisive moves against ISIS, so one wonders exactly what Russia wants  the West to do in Syria. My guess is that they might invite a large Western intervention, which their media will condemn at home. Meanwhile, they’ll claim credit for the defeat of ISIS. These people are incredibly predictable. Just think of the absolute most dishonest, tasteless thing anyone can do, and go one bar lower. Now you know their next move.

So there you have it, my take on some of the major points I’ve seen in response to this tragedy in Paris. Now you can go back to Facebook and continue blocking those friends and family members who post messages like: “DEPORT ALL ARABS!”

 

*As of the morning of 17 November, the FSB has announced that the downing of Metrojet was an act of terrorism.  http://www.interfax.ru/russia/479712

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33 thoughts on “Syridiocy

  1. Paul Canning (@pauloCanning)

    “The government wants hundreds more churches in the capital, when the real need is for more mosques for Moscow’s two million Muslims, one sixth of Moscow’s population. There are also only five synagogues and two Catholic churches. Worshipers have been trying to get permission for over a decade for one Krishna temple.”
    http://paulocanning.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/russian-orthodoxys-growing-pogrom-like.html

    Good stuff Jim but …
    ISIS existed before the Iraq War (numerous sources, including Wikipedia!). Assad *is responsible for its growth, see https://medium.com/@rcolvile/the-blood-of-paris-is-on-assad-s-hands-93f3b5a40cdc

    Also, Bush was reelected because they drove the Xstians to the ballot box with anti-gay initiatives and, arguably, because they cheated in Ohio. Recall, it was a close election.

    Reply
      1. Paul Canning (@pauloCanning)

        Yes, that is true, but I’m not ‘pretending’, Jim, I’m pointing out that those were extremely big factors. Karl Rove’s strategy was explicitly to put anti-gay initiatives on the ballot and to spend massively on driving out the evangelical vote.

        Howard Dean: “I’m not confident that the election in Ohio was fairly decided… We know that there was substantial voter suppression, and the machines were not reliable. It should not be a surprise that the Republicans are willing to do things that are unethical to manipulate elections. That’s what we suspect has happened.”
        http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0601-34.htm

    1. sglover

      The “Ohio surprise” thing is and always has been a canard. I **wish** Bush the Lesser’s 2004 win was due to standard political cheating. That’s a helluva lot easier to live with than the knowledge that more than half of Americans saw what Bush was capable of and said, “Yeah! More!” Unfortunately, we **do** have to live with that knowledge.

      In what sense did ISIS/ISIL/Daesh predate Bush’s invasion? Everything I’ve read indicates that the core of the organization’s leadership consists of former officers of the Baathist Iraqi military. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Assad dabbled in proxy armies — since that seems to be the norm in the Levant, I’d be surprised if he hadn’t — and some elements of those drifted into ISIS/ISIL. But if that’s the standard, there’s **lots** of blame to go around, and some of it sloshes into Ankara and Riyadh, as much as Damascus.

      Reply
      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Assad definitely had some ties to Al Qaeda people, whose passage into Iraq his government facilitated. It seems he was trying to pull the old Saudi trick of sending off potentially threatening groups to die in another war. It’s sure proven to be a winning strategy.

      2. A.I.Schmelzer

        There is a pbs frontline about Assads Syria, which isnt that propagandistic.

        http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/inside-assads-syria/

        There is also a lot of completely stupid fucked up dumb conspiracy theories about Assad supporting DAESH in here, which can be a usefull lackmus test to find out who is an idiot.

        Let me explain while this whole thing is fucking utter bullshit.

        Dumb talking point 1:
        Assad supported Al-Quaida against the Americans!
        Assad actually supported Iraqi Baathists and Iraq Nationalist militias against the Americans, the Americans just prefered to call the Al-Quaida, although (or rather because) they were nationalist/patriotic and not islamist at all. Given that all states neighbouring Iraq supported someone in the multi front Iraqi civil war in which the Americans were only one faction, this was barely surprising. Assad did not see this as neccessarily Anti American, and simultaneously did a number of things intended to appease America (like torturing people the US didnt like at their behest, initiating certain neoliberal reforms, clamping down on refugee streams) and Turkey (repressing the Kurds more then usual for Syrian standards).

        Dumb talking point 2:
        Assad abandoned the north to Daesh!
        The SAA indeed retreated from large swaths of the North in the face of rebel advances on Idlib, Aleppo and Damascus, and in the face of a possible all out Turkish invasion. The intention was mostly that the Kurds would take over, and create an anti Turkish buffer. The SAA had not remotely enough manpower to deal with various rebel advances, defections, foreign insurgents and a potent conventional threat from the vastly superior Turkish military at the same time. Also, not abandoning the North would have meant open clashes between the YPG and the SAA, and both SAA and YPG generally try to not fight each other. If you actually talk to Alawites, they do understand why the Kurds rebelled (one should also note that the Kurds did not use “Christians to Beirut, Alawis into the grave” as their demonstration slogan), and view the Kurds as having legitimate grievances. They do not see this legitimate grievances for the Sunni insurgents, since Sunnis were not disadvantadged and could rise to the highest positions in society. Some would even, cautiously in Syria, less cautiously if not in Syria, opine that repressing the Kurds at the behest of Ankara was a pretty misguided act of appeasement.

        Dumb talking point 3:
        Assad released Islamist prisoners to make the rebellion more islamistic!
        Releasing the prisoner was a demonstrator demand, and especially in the rural areas, the demonstrators were islamist to start with (courtesy of the Syrian muslim brotherhood which was actually running things). Assad did actually try to meet some demonstrator demands, and also gave orders to not fire (which werent followed, partly because Assad is a pretty civilized British Eye Surgeon, while the various Syrian Mukhabarats were headed by Arab equivalents of Felix Dzershinsky and Tywin Lannister). Of course, the Syrian muslim brotherhood saw this as weakness and pounced. Assad officially abandoned his concillatory stance, and gave the order to arrest the usual suspects. And well, human rights activists are a lot easier to imprison then hardened muslim brothers.

        Dumb talking point 4:
        Assad buys Oil from Daesh! Assads engineers keep power plants in Daesh territory running! Assad is paying pensions and salaries to people in Daesh territory!

        Just because he is smarter then Poroshenko, it doesnt mean he is allied with Daesh…
        First, Syria needs Oil for its power generation. Due to a bunch of sanction and the hostility of the Sunni golf states, getting Oil from somewhere else is pretty impossible. That Ukraine still buys Russian gas does not mean that Poroschenko is allied with Putin. In addition, Syrias position would not improve if Syria was under a total blackout.
        Second, Assad is comitted to maintaining the Syrian state and its infrastructure. Rebuilding Syria will be hard enough without also needing to rebuild the powergrid. DAESH also wants to take and hold territory, so they want the infrastructure intact and working. One should also add that DAESH regularly murders or abducts some of the loyalist engineers, mostly because DAESH is a bunch of murderous fuckwits who wank to killing Alawis. Lastly, if the infrastructure would be left to collapse, it would be DAESH who would benefit from it. DAESH thrives on chaos and deprivation.
        The less means, in terms of money, food or electricity, people in Daesh occupied territories have, the more they would have to rely on DAESH for survival, and the more secure would DAESH hold on this regions become.

        Dumb talking point 5:
        SAA doesnt fight DAESH! Or, SAA does not attack DAESH! Clearly they are allied! Sometimes when DAESH attacks other rebels, SAA attacks those rebels too!

        Dude, look at the fucking territorial map of the Syrian civil war. DAESH is in the North East. Its main interface with the SAA was at Palmyra and Deir el Zor. DAESH took Palmyra in a surprise attack (which surprised the SAA because the DAESH columns advanced over hundreds of miles over open desert without getting strafed by western allied air forces), and massacred the garrison because their commander was a craven who fled. The garrison of Deir el Zor has been under siege for more then a year, as has succesfully fended off several major DAESH assaults. It also helps that the garrison commander there is not a craven. In general, the SAA got the notion that surrendering to DAESH just means death. Idiots who believe that the SAA is allied to DAESH have not.
        Concerning joint assaults on rebel formations: Everyone in this civil war conducts attacks of opportunity on opponents currently engaged in combat with 3rd parties. Right now, the Russian and SAA forces are waging a concerted campaign to improve the situation in Deir el Zor against DAESH, which is successfull partly because Iraqi Kurdish PUK, Syrian Kurdish YPG, Yezidi and US special forces are simultaneously conducting operations against Sinjar (and vice versa). Sinjar and Deir el Zor are both on the main highway linking the DAESH strongholds or Raqqa and Mosul. This simultaneous attack greatly complicates things for DAESH, partly because their operational reserve (intended to parry sallies from Deir el Zor, or Kurdish moves on Sinjar) is apperantly between these places and potentially risks getting its major supply lines cut (getting them encircled is sadly not feasible at the moment, Deir al Zor garrison is pretty heroic for SAA standarts, but does not have the mobile strength for offensive operations). One can well argue that the YPG and the SAA talked with each other about this, or leaked to each other some of their plans. Only an idiot however would claim that an alliance between the YPG and the SAA exists.

        Dumb talking point 6:
        Assad is the sole dictator, and everything is his fault!

        Assad is the de jure dictator. De facto, there is a continium from “Stalin like figure” at the totalitarian end of the scale to “Kalinin like figure” which basically means figurehead. He was not intended for succession, and was basically parachuted out of his London ophtomology clinic into being the formal big boss of Syria. The various head of the Mukhabarats saw him as a pro western weakling, and followed his orders if and only if it suited them. This has changed since then, and Assad has moved from being a figurehead to now holding a plurality of the real power in loyalist Syria, partly because some Mukhabarat pupeteers got killed in the fighting.
        His original “figurehead” status was one reason why his quite real “do not fire at demonstrators” orders were not followed by some of the security agencies (but were followed by others in the more regular police force, until those police forces got fired upon by the demonstrators).
        This gave Assad the worst of both worlds, the Mukhabarats regarded him as a weakling, and the opposition regarded him as a liar for shots being fired despite order to not do so. Some in the Syrian Muslim brotherhood also took note of his inability to control the Mukhabarats early on, saw weakness and decided to pounce.
        Lets write up some actual mistakes of Assad!

        1: He sold the Syrian strategic grain reserve in 2006, in order to fund some additional infrastructure investment. Cue 5 years of drought in which this grain reserve would have been really usefull.
        2: He initiated neoliberal reforms which dismantled much of the preexisting social security net in Syria. When 5 years of drought happened, many rural and overwhelmingly Sunni Syrians moved into the cities. With nearly no safety net, they got mired in poverty and became radicalized.
        3: These reforms also made some of the Sunni upper classes pretty rich, and these pretty rich people were living in the same places as the poor were. The wealth disparity increased poor Sunni resentment and was water on the propaganda mills of the Syrian muslim brotherhood.
        4: He repressed the Kurds to appease Turkey. Appeasing Erdogan does not work, and while there were some strategic reasons (Syrias traditional policy vis a vis the Kurds was to be less dickish towards them then the other states with Kurd minorities, after the Kurds got their quasi state in North Iraq this no longer worked), a grand bargain with the Kurds would have been a better idea.
        5: He flip-flopped in being secular vs. appeasing the Sunnis. Some of his acts were more akin to assimilating the Alawis into being Sunnis, other acts were the opposite. In the end, it was a contradictory policy that showed weaknesses to many and was liked by none.
        6: His Mukhabarats were apparently more focused on pretty harmless Social media users, and not on the hardened revolutionaries of the Moslem brotherhood. The brotherhood was of course smart enough to use the social media crowd to “put some makeup on their own goals”, and often hid behind social media things (including hacking the accounts of non Muslim brothers, having those accounts write brotherhood PR, and the having a collective “Muahaha” when the Mukhabarat arrests whoever got hacked and thus radicalize the family of the hacked person into joining the brotherhood.), but having the Mukhabarat go after pretty harmless social media persons was a major misallocation of repressive resources.

      3. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Yeah I was just wondering if you have any evidence for any of these claims here? I don’t see you actually citing any sources other than a PBS documentary.

        Also it is a confirmed fact that Assad’s intelligence forces allowed Al Qaeda to recruit and use its territory to launch attacks in Iraq- it wasn’t just Iraqi nationalist militias or anything of that sort. The US captured the records of this network in 2007 IIRC. Mark Bowden writes about this in his book The Finish.

  2. Callum C

    To be completely accurate, the US did actually find “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq. However, they were just a few decaying chemical warheads (which are generally less effective than conventional munitions of the same size even when new) and they dated back to the Iran-Iraq war when Hussein was a US ally.

    It should also be noted that a lot of those US troops “found them” the hard way.

    Reply
      1. Callum C

        Ah yes, the nukes. I remember Rumsfeld bleating something about how the Iraqis might have “destroyed” them when they found out the Americans were coming.

        “They’re coming! Quick boys, let’s get rid of our weapons!”

    1. sglover

      Yeah, but glomming on to the nebulous term “weapons of mass destruction” was a necessary part of the Big Lie campaign to sell the war. “WMD” was practically tailor-made to obfuscate — how else are you going to lump together leaking mustard gas mortar shells with Fat Man? Bush/Cheney were never much good at running anything, but when it came to low animal cunning they were always gifted.

      Reply
  3. EP

    “Nobody should assume that those Russians who expressed sympathy for France are hypocrites; they are not representatives of their government or media.”

    Sadly, nobody should assume that they aren’t one or more of these things, either.

    “Russia’s pundits and ideologues love to lecture far more successful nations about concepts they don’t understand, such as tolerance.”

    This is part of a much more general problem. Russians in general love to lecture others (and each other) about things they don’t understand. It’s a huge drag on cultural and intellectual progress in Russia, already bemoaned by the likes of Dostoevsky. The “for Dummies” version of Marxism that became state ideology a few decades later only made it worse. (I could rant about it for a long time, since it’s a major source of personal butthurt, but whatever…)

    “Just think of the absolute most dishonest, tasteless thing anyone can do, and go one bar lower. Now you know their next move.”

    Literally this. It should be framed and displayed in every office of every relevant Western agency.

    Reply
    1. Callum C.

      It’s true that Russia struggles with the Dunning–Kruger effect, but I don’t think Russians are uniquely, specifically prone to it for any kind of cultural reason. I don’t think that Russia’s insta-experts are too far removed from what you might hear from a Republican debate or even just by logging into your Facebook page.

      I agree that the Soviet approach to ideology has a part to play, however. And it seems to be true that the chorus of experts who chime in to correct the stupid shit people say on TV or the internet in the West seem to be a little quieter, conceptually weaker, and more subdued in Russia.

      I think both observations have something to do with the state of Social Sciences and Humanities programs in Russian education. I would contend that the same is true of a lot of other post-Soviet and post-Communist countries (China, for example). I would even add post-Ba’athist countries to this.

      I currently work in a university writing center and deal very often with foreign students who are learning how to write academically and many of them have commented to me that in their home country, they were never taught to form arguments independently or choose positions based on personal examinations of available evidence. A colleague of mine from China remarked that success in university there meant simply repeating the position and approach dictated by the professor.

      Beyond that, only one theoretical framework was traditionally used, specifically Marxism, and it was applied even to fields where its relevance was dubious (how can you have “Marxist Journalism”?). In Russia, where Marxism has largely been renounced, political science faculties simply do not teach political theory. They reject Western theories (Realism, Liberalism, Constructivism, etc.) as being unrepresentative of Russian experiences, but decline to come up with their own theories because they “already know who [they] are”, according to a professor of mine.

      I think this leads to some of the preferences in that part of the world for black-and-white thinking, particularly among people who are supposed to be educated intellectuals. And black-and-white thinking is a fertilizer for insta-experts who don’t hesitate to loudly proclaim their opinions even on subjects they have not closely studied and whose complexities are unfamiliar to them.

      Now, such people exist everywhere and a post-secondary education is neither a perfect vaccine against that kind of thinking, nor a necessary precursor to a nuanced, carefully constructed, well-informed approach to politics and social issues. Russia’s government and media certainly do have plenty of actual experts they could consult if they wanted to. But often they don’t, and don’t seem to know why they should or even what an actual expert looks like.

      Reply
      1. EP

        “I don’t think that Russia’s insta-experts are too far removed from what you might hear from a Republican debate or even just by logging into your Facebook page”

        Correct. But in Russia this phenomenon predates and is not restricted to the internet, nor is it limited by class or ideology.

        “a little quieter, conceptually weaker, and more subdued in Russia”

        Correct, once again, at least on the (most important) point of conceptual weakness. Loudness and boldness, combined with conceptual weakness, just make things worse anyway.

        “I would contend that the same is true of a lot of other post-Soviet and post-Communist countries (China, for example).”

        This is definitely not true of China. While it is illiberal and its intellectual culture encourages dogmatic discipleship, China also has the benefit of 2500 years of vibrant intellectual life, with scholars playing more important role for most of its history than arguably in any other culture ever. Chinese tend to speak out of their ass much less than Europeans or Americans, let alone Russians.

        “In Russia… political science faculties… decline to come up with their own theories because they “already know who [they] are”, according to a professor of mine.”

        Unfortunately, that is only partly true. They do try to come up with theories (using that word extremely loosely), but they are either bastardized relics of the West’s cultural past, or hideous monstrosities like… whatever it is that Dugin does…

        “Russia’s government and media certainly do have plenty of actual experts they could consult if they wanted to.”

        Sadly, this is far from obvious. Their experts and analysts have been generally sub-par even at the heyday of Soviet investment in and concern with research. Nowadays they are losing the best among those who overcome the handicaps of Russian higher educational system to the West…

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I think that there seems to be an echo chamber of intellectuals who are basically tailing Dugin. Maybe they don’t completely buy into the whole wacky ideology, but they buy into a lot of the core ideas. The problem is, they never stop to ask themselves: “Wait, is this really how the rest of the world thinks? What have we gained from this thinking?”

      3. EP

        It’s a fascinating knot to untangle for a historian of ideas, actually. Dugin managed to combine Eurasianism, old-school proto-Nazi geopolitics, Heidegger, Russian consevatism, and seemingly everything else that’s evil in the world into one remarkably nonsensical whole. Fortunately, Dugin himself has never been that influential. Unfortunately, he’s just one of a swarm of mutually interchangeable Russian pseudo-intellectuals to emerge (often with probable help of the KGB) out of the establishment’s post-Brezhnev turn to nationalism.

      4. Callum C.

        While I admit to being a little reluctant to spend too much time listening to Dugin’s ideas, I would consider them somewhat close to classical realism, just without the (relative) neutrality espoused by Western political science. He sees the world as an essentially anarchic place where states are the main actors. In this world, states will first pursue their own interests. This world is a zero sum game, where gains by one country are losses for another.

        The difference is that unlike classical realism, which treats all countries basically the same regardless of what kind of government they have, Dugin falls for some kind of Special Path bullshit. This makes his theories useless, because they’re tied to specific countries and regions, and thus can’t be generalized.

        It’s also worth noting that Classical Realism is considered an obsolete theory. Ironically, one of the final nails in its coffin was its utter inability to explain the collapse of the USSR. It has since undergone some major revisions.

        Dugin is at best 40 years behind Western academia, and probably over 100 years behind. Of course, being “behind” implies that he’s making progress, so a better choice of words might be in order.

      5. EP

        Dugin is a retarded neo-Nazi ass clown. He’s not 100 years behind, but running in an orthogonal direction on an entirely different track, soiling himself and yelling something incoherent about universal love and the Illuminati.

        Anything else is giving him way more respect and credit than he deserves.

      6. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Didn’t he once actually write something praising Ta.Tu., attempting to find some kind of fragment of the Russian soul in their music or something of that nature?

      7. EP

        Sadly, the fact of Ta.Tu.’s existence tells us much more about the “Russian Soul” than all of Ilyin’s Collected Works.

  4. jon

    I’ve seen an awful lot of vatnik zloradtsvo after these attacks. Both in articles and article comments. Pretty depressing stuff!

    Reply
  5. sglover

    I don’t know much about the Russian reaction to Paris, but one thing that’s disconcerting about the Western response is how a similar and simultaneous bombing in Lebanon has been all but ignored.

    Also, the one sure result of the Paris attacks is that all those poor refugees trying to get into Europe from the Levant are now totally fucked. Which is probably exactly what the pious Muslim “brethren” in ISIS/ISIL intend.

    Reply
      1. EP

        Also, it’s kinda not as easy for journalists to remain relatively safe and have relatively free access during major breakouts of violence and ensuing lockdowns in places like the Middle East… Just sayin’…

  6. armoured

    “I think that there seems to be an echo chamber of intellectuals who are basically tailing Dugin. Maybe they don’t completely buy into the whole wacky ideology, but they buy into a lot of the core ideas.” …”Unfortunately, he’s just one of a swarm of mutually interchangeable Russian pseudo-intellectuals to emerge (often with probable help of the KGB) out of the establishment’s post-Brezhnev turn to nationalism.”

    Maybe they don’t buy into the ideas, but their willingness to reiterate the ideas buys them lunch, soup, cars, a place to live … in short, a living. Of course, this happens everywhere to some degree, particularly in think tank world, but not hewing the line is the difference between living comfortably and barely surviving on a minimal lectureship.

    All the more so now that cooperating with foreigners, foreign institutes, etc., can get academics canned or worse very quickly – and at best, marginalized and shunned.

    Reply

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