The Science of Bullshit

So I had a decision to make- I could collect another half dozen recent stories in Russia that demonstrate the maddening hypocrisy of this corrupt government, or I could not waste my time since there will probably be another half dozen such stories by the end of the week. What can I say? Some days I’m just not in the mood.

In compensation I’d like to look at the broader topic of critical thinking, starting with a story that has been making the rounds lately. Apparently an academic study found that people with lower cognitive abilities (i.e. intelligence) were more susceptible for falling for pseudo-profound, intellectual-sounding bullshit. Yes, they used the word bullshit in the study, 200 times in fact.

What do they mean by “pseudo-profound” and “intellectual sounding?” Well basically it seems they’re talking about the sort of thing people tend to share on their Facebook walls. For example you’ll see a photograph of someone doing yoga on a pristine beach and superimposed on this you see text reading: “Hidden meaning transforms unparalleled abstract beauty.”

That particular example comes out of the study. Judging from other such statements quoted by the media, it would seem that the study focused on “hippy”-like statements, the kind of thing you’d expect from Deepak Chopra. I can do one now: “The only tragedy greater than a full life not lived is the unrealized dream of an empty life lived alone.” Or how about: “Spirituality isn’t found inside of an ancient tome written in archaic language, but in the subtle interplay of the elements that make up our daily surroundings.” It’s pretty easy.

But this got me thinking, and the implications are quite scary. For one thing, Silicon Valley and the tech industry is similarly laden with statements that are little more than buzzwords arranged in different ways. “Innovation makes it possible to leverage the platform’s scalability exponentially, making it ultimately more disruptive.” I know from experience with such bullshit that this kind of empty nonsense is being used to woo people out of millions and in some cases, billions of dollars. Sure, these people are in most cases investing in highly profitable corporations which may indeed possess the key to disrupting entire markets and industries. On the other hand, we could be in for another dot com bubble brought on by idiots with money throwing cash at things they don’t understand because it was “innovative.”

There’s another aspect of this phenomenon that is far more interesting to me, and this is how this pseudo-intellectual bullshit is used in politics. I regret that I cannot dig up the exact post, but Ed at Gin & Tacos once referred to certain conservative rhetoric as (I’m paraphrasing here): shit that sounds intelligent to smart people. This is an interesting concept and I think it is very much related to this susceptibility for “pseudo-profound” statements. If someone can read a collection of random words about life, happiness, balance, and spirituality and come away with a feeling that this was profound and enlightening, it’s not too far fetched to suggest that posts containing random historical facts or complex political terminology could leave some with the impression that they are astute and politically savvy. Actually I think this kind of tactic is more dangerous in the world of politics.

I think this explains how, for example, people can fall so easily for endless regurgitation of Russian geopolitical theories. People who rarely really think about economic policy and who don’t have much experience in the world can easily be wowed by “sober” analysis about the BRICS alternative, trading in local currencies, the BRICS development bank, etc. Of course there are usually prerequisites that cause them to tumble down the rabbit hole. For example, they’re upset at their government and want to believe there’s some kind of powerful alternative bloc out there keeping their own leaders in line. But if that person is not sufficiently informed, they can easily fall for this sort of rhetoric.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not only aiming at the pro-Kremlin people here. Plenty of foreign Ukraine supporters jumped on the bandwagon of Maidan and Ukraine’s war effort without really fully understanding Ukraine’s history or its relationship with Russia. “European Ukraine” and “democracy” can be just as persuasive to the same sort of people as “NATO encirclement.”

The problem with all this is that in the case of politics, it’s not often a matter of cognitive ability. Sure, maybe it is with certain ideologies that require a major lapse in critical thinking, but it’s actually quite easy to fall for pseudo-intellectual bullshit in politics because oftentimes we have a severe lack of information.

To give one example, I didn’t really pay much attention to the Syrian civil war until about 2013. By that time, the dichotomy of Assad vs. jihadists, at that time Al Nusra and not ISIS, was dominant. And no, it wasn’t just coming from the Russian press or alternative media. For example, when debating airstrikes against the regime in the wake of an apparent chemical weapons attack in August of 2013, one Pentagon official reported to Congress that such airstrikes would most likely benefit Al Qaeda. This plus a lack of information and the flaws of memory could lead anyone to buy the “Assad is the lesser of two evils” narrative, even without regularly consuming pro-Assad media.

Maidan was another example. In the beginning I hardly had any reason to care. Then the media, including the Western media, began portraying the protests as being all about Ukraine joining Europe. Russian media went right along with that. At the same time, I started seeing these UPA, OUN, and Svoboda flags and symbols popping up in the protests, and my initial reaction was negative specifically for that reason. Like most Ukrainians, I had always been opposed to the idea of Ukraine joining Russia’s Customs Union or the Eurasian pseudo-union. European integration was, for me, a non-issue. But rehabilitation of fascists and Nazi collaborators, in any country, is something I simply cannot abide. As I said back then, I had no fear at all that Ukraine would actually be taken over by fascists. What I was afraid of was nationalists getting into key positions where they could impose their revisionist historical narrative on the country with the help of the state, something they basically ended up doing.

There were some points about Maidan I always conceded. I naturally have more respect for people who resist poor treatment even if I despise their politics. But the real reason why I eventually took a pro-Maidan position, long after the fact, was that I actually started talking to people who were involved in the movement, and I also learned how both the Western and Russian media essentially collaborated to paint a picture of Maidan that was false from the start, even without Russia’s tall tales of a Nazi putsch.

What could have prevented my mistake? Well if I’d been paying close attention from the very beginning in November 2013, this might not have happened. But there lies another problem- in the beginning there was little reason for anyone outside of Ukraine to suddenly take notice and start paying attention. Speaking personally, there was even less reason for me to start closely following the details of the peaceful uprising in Syria before the civil war started. You can try following Twitter but the problem is that you’re not likely to know which stories are going to be mundane and quickly disappear from view and which are going to snowball into something much bigger and historically significant.

There’s another element to all this, which is that a person who is actively trying to sell you a certain narrative can take advantage of this in order to deceive you. All they have to do is spit out a series of “facts,” some real, some distorted, some entirely made up, assertively and confidently. That and some ideological hook designed to get you on the same “side” can be more than enough to get an otherwise reasonable, intelligent person to fall for political bullshit.

Want to see this in action? Try my little quiz. The following statements are bullshit, but you should think about what you would say in response, off the top of your head, without access to Google and the internet.

Situation #1: You’re discussing WWII history with a fellow at a gun show (bear with me). The topic of the Holocaust comes up, and he starts talking about how it was “grossly exaggerated.” He asks how it can be that 6 million Jews were gassed to death, yet not a single autopsy ever showed that a concentration camp victim died of poison gas. He points out that Zyklon B was a commercial delousing agent, and that there were delousing chambers at all concentration camps, including those which were never “death camps.” He says that it would be impossible to kill people with carbon monoxide using diesel engines, as diesel engines don’t generate enough CO. Lastly he tells you how the whole thing was Communist propaganda, and points out how the plaque at Auschwitz used to say four million Jews died there, only to later be revised to 1.2 million after the fall of the Polish Communist government.

Situation #2: You’re at the same gun show (you need to stop engaging gun show patrons in political discussions), and you meet a guy who says the US government had foreknowledge of the Pearl Harbor attacks. One of his strongest pieces of evidence is that the carriers which were based at Pearl Harbor were curiously missing on the day of the attack. According to him, this means that Roosevelt knew the attacks were coming and so he or the conspirators made sure that the war-winning carriers wouldn’t be in port when the attack came.

Situation #3: You’re online and a pro-Kremlin poster talks about how George Bush promised Gorbachev that NATO “wouldn’t expand one inch” if the Warsaw Pact broke up. Instead, NATO expanded, thus posing a threat to Russia, which is only responding to NATO’s encirclement.

Situation #4: You didn’t learn your lesson about talking to people at gunshows and this guy starts telling you that 9/11 was an inside job. He tells you that WTC property owner Larry Silverstein said in an interview with PBS that he made the decision to “pull” building 7, and “pull” is a demolitions industry term for taking down a building via controlled demolition.

Situation #5: A radical Ukrainian nationalist denies OUN involvement in Holocaust related crimes, claims that the OUN fought against the Nazis as well as the Soviets, and points out that Bandera was arrested by the Nazis and locked in a concentration camp in 1941.

What would you say if you were confronted with these claims, some of which are factual or at least half-factual, if you didn’t have the background knowledge on the specific topics, you didn’t have internet access at the moment, and the person is delivering them in a confident, assertive way, as though they know what they’re talking about? What if they try to pull credentials out on you? A history major, a former expat in Russia, a diesel engineer- would you be prepared to dispute them, especially in public? By all means try, put your answers in the comments here if you wish. 

I think what this little lesson demonstrates is how easy it is to sell bullshit when it comes to politics and history. Spiritual buzzwords and feelgood phrases might be more effective on people who are literally dumber, but technical jargon, info-dumps, and random historical facts can be used to dupe otherwise intelligent people into believing very stupid things.

The good news is that we have a toolkit against this, and it’s called critical thinking. What is more, once we have enough info, we can make a choice whether to be stupid or not. Many people who have stupid ideas about the world don’t fall for those ideas because they are stupid. They become stupid because they believe those ideas, and doing so requires you to be stupid by ignoring mountains of contradictory evidence. When it comes to important political and historical events, I think if you’re unable to catch them and follow them critically from day one, the best course of action when confronted with any ideological narrative is to go back to the beginning of the event and try to get all the basic facts from as many points of view as possible. In other words, before adopting someone’s “alternative theory,” you need to be sure you know the “official story.”

 

 

 

 

 

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15 thoughts on “The Science of Bullshit

  1. Callum C.

    I’ve actually taken the time to argue with holocaust deniers before. Once you get past the initial revulsion, it’s actually quite a lot of fun to argue with the kind of deluded morons who get into that sort of ideology. The trick is to pose as a potential sympathizer, if a somewhat skeptical one, and start asking them detailed questions about why they think it was fake. Watching their narrative implode is deeply satisfying.

    I once got into what I thought was a good-natured debate over Israeli foreign policy on a YouTube comments board where I casually mentioned that maybe Israel was abusing the lingering international sympathy it enjoyed after the various mistreatments Jews had experienced in the past. One of the users quickly established that I was talking about the Holocaust and then mocked me for believing in the “holyhoax”. He turned out to be a Slavic nationalist, but that’s neither here nor there.

    So after he went through the standard procedure of calling me a sheep blah blah and asking why Jews deserved special treatment or whatever, I started asking him what his reasoning was for rejecting the mainstream interpretation of Germany’s policies towards its various minority groups. I can’t remember if he mentioned Zyklon B or not, but he did say that the Nuremberg trials were bullshit and half of their findings had been debunked.

    I answered that if only half of it had been debunked, then presumably the other half had been confirmed, which presumably included the Holocaust. He didn’t like that very much and called me a few names, so I asked him to provide some citations to demonstrate that the Nuremberg trials had erred in their verdicts concerning the Holocaust (I know there is *much* more evidence than just Nuremberg). What he came back with was the funniest shit I’ve ever seen.

    Eight.

    References.

    Correlating *Black people*

    With *Violent Crime*

    In the *US*

    Since *1980*.

    It was awesome. I had never seen such a load of shit presented so confidently. And even then I watched a lot of Russian propaganda. When I pointed out that none of his references had anything to do with Germany, Nuremberg, the Holocaust, or even Jews, he replied that the Holocaust was “Not actually [his] main field of research” and fled the argument a few posts later. He even let me have the last line, which I used to request that he “Fuck off back to Stormfront”. I don’t think I’ve ever made myself so happy arguing on the internet before or since.

    The problem with arguing with douchebags like that though is that you have to understand what you’re getting into. Normal people aren’t really used to dealing with Holocaust deniers, and thus can easily get caught out by the fact that these people have completely different values and assumptions than we do. The biggest risk is that you might be forced to just call them a bigot or a Nazi sympathizer without being able to counter their arguments, which of course plays right into their narrative.

    Fortunately, as Jim points out, you don’t actually need to know that much specific information to demolish arguments like that. A few specific questions are all it takes to get them to say something so completely stupid that even someone with very limited knowledge can wreck them.

    My teacher was videos like this, but Jim’s points also obviously apply: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YezbREhH_Eg

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      One of the most brilliant approaches I’ve ever seen leveled at veteran Holocaust deniers was demanding that they name the hoaxers. At first they think this was easy. “The Jews! The Communists!” But no, you reply, you want names. Specifics. A hoax requires a hoaxer. Manufacturing a hoax of this sort would require thousands, if not tens of thousands of people in at least a dozen countries. This hoax would also take a lot of time as well. So the hoaxers would have to know the following when they started their hoax:

      1. Germany had no plan to exterminate Jews. After all, if you’re a Zionist who’s thinking about creating a hoax where Nazis kill Jews en masse, then you obviously have to be convinced that they’re not just going to actually do that.

      2. The Nazis will lose the war. Excluding hindsight, the only time this seemed even realistic was after the Moscow counteroffensive starting 6 Dec 1941.

      3. The hoaxers would have to know that the Nazis and their allies would surrender unconditionally, thus allowing them to work as they please and judge them as well.

      4. They would have to know that much of Eastern Europe would come under Soviet control, and then hostilities between both sides would lead to an Iron Curtain that would greatly restrict Western access to main Holocaust sites.

      Here there’d always be the danger of the Germans deliberately giving way and surrendering to the Western allies while stiffening resistance in the East. Keep in mind Auschwitz was liberated in January of 1945.

      Finally, they need to explain how this hoax has been maintained throughout the world, and in spite of several major political changes even before 1989.

      The USSR’s politics initially supported Israel but then turned anti-Zionist and remained so, in later decades crossing the line into antisemitism. Having all that documentation of the “hoax” would have been a major propaganda coup against Israel and the US.

      After Stalin’s death Khrushchev greatly altered Soviet policies and ideology- why didn’t the hoax come out then, especially since Soviet policy was very anti-Zionist at that point?

      When the whole system fell, we didn’t see new governments release so much as a scrap of paper related to this massive hoax, in spite of the fact that antisemitism and right-wing nationalism was widespread throughout the former USSR and East Bloc.

      Don’t let them try to suck you into bullshit arguments over a doorknob or peepholes in doors. They say it’s a hoax, so who are the hoaxers, how did they plan it, and how did they manage to keep this coverup going so long?

      Reply
      1. gbd_crwx

        Yes, but it’s all controlled by the illuminati or fremasons or whatever.

        Another favourite of mine is the moon landings. If they were really faked, there should at least been some noisefrom the USSR.

      2. Callum C.

        Unfortunately gbd is right (does that stand for what I think it does?). People who routinely argue in favour of bullshit are usually very good at dismissing any positive arguments or evidence you might bring up. That’s why it’s usually more effective to just start asking them innocent-sounding questions aimed at getting them to explain their worldview. Give them enough rope and they will rarely hesitate to hang themselves.

        And clearly, the reason the USSR never cried about the Moon Landings is that they were secretly controlled by the CIA. Or was the KGB secretly in control of the USA? I can never keep these things straight.

      3. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Actually according to Ukrainian nationalists the KGB did control the USA, explaining why there were CIA records and academic papers documenting OUN and UPA claims. But then again, what is a Ukrainian nationalist but a Russian vatnik in different wrapping.

        Anyway, I have this one trick I like to use with conspiracy theorists- You’re accused of a murder you didn’t do. But the court decides to go by conspiracy theory rules of evidence. Your defense lawyer presents exonerating evidence and an alibi? Obviously disinformation and fabricated forensic evidence. Prosecutor can’t bring enough concrete evidence? No problem- he pokes “holes” in your “official story,” even when some of those holes don’t exist and he doesn’t seem to have even bothered paying attention to your version of events or you alibi. You’re eventually convicted of murder one because the jury just can’t imagine how anyone but you killed the victim.

        Does this mode of thinking still seem sound? No? Then don’t do it with historical events.

      4. gbd_crwx

        gbd is short for greenbird. The 10-11 year old me thought it was very witty to have that user name when playing “California games” and playing for Bluebird team. Later on Arcade games which only allowed three letter names I shortened it and it kind of stuck. What did you Think it stands for?

  2. A.I.Schmelzer

    Concerning the Gorbachev Baker thing, Baker indeed said this, but it was not put in writing and if Gorbachev honestly believed that Baker could make this promises, orally, and that they would be binding he was a fool.
    States lie, and they do so all the fucking time. If you look at various forms of goverment from a strictly machiavellian perspective, having “just cause” to throw any previous “bargain” (as opposed to “treaty”) out of the window every 4 years is actually a major comparative advantadge of a democracy compared to systems were the same guy rules from a decade or more.

    Concerning Ukraine however, Ukraine does have neutrality formally and solemnly enshrined in its founding document (Ukraines declaration of state sovereignity), and the EU association agreement would, because it puts parts of Ukraines military under EU command, violate this declaration. NATO admission would of course violate it much more. I find it quite curious that noone, especially not on the pro western side, ever refers to this.

    Now, from what some peeps in Brussels told me, getting the Ukrainian military under Brussel command was actually wanted by Yanukovich (in order to gain leverage on Putin of course, I seriously doubt that Yanukovich ever actually wanted to sign that treaty, the deal was simply too bad and Yanukovich had completely legitimate reasons to not sign it) and the EU (meaning Germany,France and Italy, in contrast Poland + Sweden + Baltics were all for the military aspect) was pretty “agnostic” about getting to order the “mighty Ukrainian military” around.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      ” and the EU association agreement would, because it puts parts of Ukraines military under EU command, violate this declaration.”

      Membership in the EU might do that, but an association agreement wouldn’t. Serbia, Morocco, and Tunisia have EU AAs, to name a few.

      Moreover, if Baker said that he would have to be high because sovereign states have the right to determine whether or not they want to join alliances, and there were these things called the Helsinki accords(IIRC) that related to East Bloc nations doing exactly that.

      Reply
    2. Callum C.

      Ukraine is also part of the OSCE and a few other Western-led organizations.

      Membership in the EU would leave the Ukrainian military soundly under control of Kyiv. The EU doesn’t control the defense policies of its member states, other than requiring them to not attack each other, not violate human rights, and adhere to EU regulations concerning border controls.

      There have been a few attempts to create a unified EU defense policy, but none of them have really gone anywhere.

      Even joining NATO would keep the VSU under Kyiv’s control, though parts of it would be under foreign command during exercises or deployments. But then, that already happens; Ukraine has contributed troops to various exercises and even deployments where they have been commanded by Poles, Americans, etc., even before Maidan. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armed_Forces_of_Ukraine#Deployment_outside_Ukraine

      About the only difference would be that Ukraine would be required to reform its army to NATO standards (which it could, and would like to, do anyway… to a point) and to uphold article five.

      Reply
      1. A.I.Schmelzer

        You may seriously want to actually read the current EU law/Lissabon agreements on this.

        The awnser to “Can you be in the EU and neutral” is “it depends”. You can be in the EU and neutral (Finland), and you can be only associated and no longer neutral. This depends on your bargaining position vis a vis the EU. Ukraines bargaining position was either hilariously bad, or Yanukovich added in “no longer neutral” to put pressure on Putin.

        And Callum seriously doesnt seem to have much of a clue what “neutrality” means.
        Having your forces under your own control (and frankly, given the ridiculous degree of foreign over Kiev right now, with all those 3rd rate Georgian US sockpuppets, the notion of Kiev controlling something is a hard sell) is a neccessary, but by no means sufficient, criterion for being neutral.

        Neutrality was the compromise that prevented an Ukrainian version of the Moldavian civil war (or at least a secession crisis, neutrality was a huge bone thrown to the Russophone, even with that the referendums were pretty close in Crimea) in the 90s, Maidan, among other things it did to blow up the country, axed that compromise.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        How do you explain then, the fact that Ukraine finally canceled its neutral status in December of 2014, after about eight months of war? Why bother if the association agreement supposedly means putting your military command in Brussels hands(which it clearly doesn’t, given the number of countries which have the same agreement and no such military relations)?

  3. A.I.Schmelzer

    Apperantly your site eats posts which are a either long or contain considerable amounts of links. Next try without Links:
    For reference, here is a “normal” EU association agreement, in this case Marocco.
    You find it by going to the EU site http://eeas.europa.eu then search for Morocco.
    Here is another normal association agreement, in this case Romania.

    Both of these are just doing an association, some mutual standartisation, expression of goodwill etc.
    Neither Marocco, nor Romania which later joined the EU was required to accept the EU-Acquis, nor did either have to sign onto the CSDP (common security and defence policy).
    Neither is expected to withdraw from international trade agreements/trade standarts other then the European ones etc.

    Here is the EU association agreement with Ukraine:

    First, it is about 10 times longer 2135 pages vs. around 200. I dont think more then about 10 people who were on Maidan actually read it. Second, it very forcibly enshrines adherence to the CSDP, forces Ukraine to implement the more or less full EU acquis (acquis is basically the totality of accumulated EU law, roughly 50 million words per language), without Ukraine having any kind of say in how the acquis is made up (say what you will about Russia, the Russians dont tell their vasalls how to monitor movements of migrationary birds). It also has a paragraph that requires Ukraine to ditch any prior trade agreement standarts, and rules out any other trade agreement that would conflict with the EU association agreement. Ukraine also has to adopt a bunch of neoliberal stuff without getting any say on it, and is basically completely and utterly fucked.

    Reply
      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Granted, the agreements are not identical, however, this doesn’t excuse Russia’s actions.

        I myself was critical of the EU association agreement in the beginning because I didn’t think (and I still don’t think) it’s going to solve Ukraine’s major problems, at least not for many years to come.

        However, this is somewhat irrelevant because many people involved in Maidan weren’t drawn out because of a strong desire to sign some trade agreement. It was in response to what happened to those protesters who were in support of that.

        In any case, whatever the bureaucracy and red tape, the EU AA offers far more to Ukraine than Russia’s Customs Union would in the long run.

        The irony of all this is that if Putin had stepped aside in 2011 and allowed diversification of the economy, liberalization, and more democratization, Maidan probably wouldn’t have happened. Who knows- maybe even a larger percentage of Ukrainians would have favored economic association with such a different Russia.

  4. A.I.Schmelzer

    You will get no argument from that that Russias actions werent a violation of international law or criminal. Russia did sign the Helsinki charter, and had formally commited to respect Ukraines territorial integrety and sovereignity in the Budapest Memorandum.

    That the US breaks that deal is not a legal reason for Russia to break it too, especially since they broke it in a way that adversely affected Ukraine, and not the US perpetrator.

    Maidan would have happened anyway. 2011 was far to late to prevent this. Ukraine was already quite split by then, and due to the economic malaise, polarization would have only increased further. Russia does not and did not have the money to stop the Ukrainian economic malaise (one can make a pretty good argument that, like “developmental aid” elsewhere, Russian financial largesse towards Ukraine actually prolonged unsustainable practices and created a caste of “Russian aid managers” that were powerfull but whose power did not depend on Ukraines well being), and since it is the bogeyman in west Ukraine since 2000 or it did not have any ability to reconcile Ukraine with itself either.
    I think the last chance for Ukraine was in 2010 after the Party of Regions won the election. They could have kept their promises and decentralized (meaning that Lviv deals with problems in Lviv, and Donetsk deals with problems in Donetsk, no more sending 85% of the taxes to Kiev ), but because overcentralization offers incredible opportunities for looting and other ways of rewarding supporters they did not do that. On the contrary, they used centralized power to appoint their guys to rule west Ukraine, and these guys adopted hugely “extractive” practices in doing so.

    Maidan could have upheld the terms of the February agreement, and gain power by legal and legitimate ways, but well, given Maidans composition that was a imho longer shot then Yanukovichs PoR fullfilling its electoral promises of decentralization.

    Allowing diversification etc. in Russia does nothing about Ukraine being a corrupt joke, nor does it do anything to put the “Russia is the root of all evil” party out of business in Ukraine.

    Preventing Maidan would have required a sustained and successfull effort at nation building by Russia. That just was out of the cards. Even if Putin woke up one day in 2011 and decided that he has a sacred duty to set things right for Ukraine, Russia does not have the capacity, especially considering how usefull the Russian bogeyman is for west Ukrainian elites, to perform this kind of operation.

    And concerning the “free trade agreement”, well, all the rules of it are made by the EU, and by the factions in the EU that are in charge. These factions have very very different economic situations compared to Ukraine, and the parameters they prefer for trade agreements will diverge very strongly from the parameters that Ukraine would require for economic growth.

    Ukraine could potentially have pulled a South Korea, and used a decent education system backed by neomercantilist policies to propel it into a position from which it can engage in free trade. The EU agreement nixes any possiblity for such an approach. What Ukraine is now getting will be quite close to the Mexican experience of Nafta, only more so due to Russian pressure from the other side.

    I would also remind you of the fact that Ukraine was not promised any meaningfull subsidies (Polands total price tab in terms of EU subsidies is at about 100 billion or so), these subsidies were important to make Poland competetive and buffer it during the very painfull transition period. No such monetary buffer is available or granted to Ukraine, while the reforms demanded (not negotiated, demanded) of them are far harsher.

    On the other hand, Ukrainian exports are actually competetive in Russia as it stands. Furthermore, Ukraine would be the “second” in Russias Eurasian sphere, a potentially lucrative position because other members of the Eurasian Union would be naturally inclined to rally behind it to limit the degree of Russias overbearance.

    Second, the Eurasian Union explicitly does not rule out joining other trade Unions, and an ambitiously democratic Ukraine could have actually attempted to use this as an avenue to democratice Russia.

    Reply

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