The Importance of Being Ideological

For better or worse, this blog can be characterized as a “debunking” site. After all, it is called Russia Without BS and it was originally created to deal with myths about Russia. Of course since 2014, the biggest source of BS about Russia has come from the Russian state press and the Kremlin, and thus the blog turned from the debunking of myths and stereotypes to refuting propaganda.

More recently, and due in particular to the growing concern about Russian meddling in various Western elections, Western media outlets have given increasing attention to groups like StopFake (for which I’ve been working recently) and initiatives like the EU Disinfo Review. Journalists, Western politicians, and think-tank types love this idea of fact-checking and debunking. This is basically how the West chooses to fight against Russia’s information war. Unfortunately for those liberal centrists politicians and think-tank academics, fact-checking and debunking, while necessary and extremely helpful, cannot actually defeat the kind of propaganda Russia and certain other states disseminate. It’s not because we’re living in a “post-fact” world; we’ve long been living in a world where facts don’t matter.

First it must be said that debunking/fact-checking initiatives are extremely necessary. They catalog false claims so that politicians, activists, and journalists know what claims are floating around out there and they can respond to them. Facts do matter to some people who might be listening or watching an exchange, so being able to answer some conspiracy nut’s claim in public is extremely valuable. Also, by cataloging the long list of fake claims from various “news” outlets, it destroys their credibility. The sheer number of totally fabricated stories from Russian state outlets like First Channel or NTV makes them worthless as sources.

Unfortunately fact-checking has very limited value beyond that, and for an example we may look at a site like Snopes, of course, was originally dedicated to debunking urban legends about all manner of topics, most of them non-political. Snopes became increasingly political as it began tackling chain emails, many of which had a conservative bent. The typical example would involve some US Marine punching out an atheist professor or maybe a female Muslim immigrant berating a good, wholesome American cashier until she’s put in her place by -you guessed it- an American serviceman or maybe their family member. There were certainly leftish chain emails as well, but most of those with political content were of a conservative bent. This only increased with the advent of social media.

Whereas in the old days if that uncle or aunt sent you a chain email you’d just send them a link to Snopes, that won’t work today. The American mouth-breather of today simply dismisses Snopes as “left-wing” or perhaps “funded by Soros,” and that’s it, you lose. Basically the prevailing mentality these days can be encapsulated by “It said the thing I want to believe is not true, ergo I decided it must be lying.” Now based on that, imagine trying to convince Europeans who have at least some skepticism about the EU that something called “The EU Disinfo Review” is on the level. Remember we live in a world where millions upon millions of people believe that instinctively and categorically distrusting their governments and the authorities is a key part of their personal identity.

And identity is a crucial issue here. In his book Don’t Think of an Elephant, cognitive linguist George Lakoff explains why facts don’t matter to most people. What matter are psychological frames, which are very much connected to people’s personal sense of identity. If facts do not fit one’s frames, they are ignored, discarded no matter how undeniable they are. I have personally seen this in action, most notably when some leftist Putin-apologists with zero knowledge of Russia or Ukraine repeatedly ignored a certain article I posted numerous times. It’s not that they dismissed the article as “Western propaganda” without reading it- it’s that they acted as though I’d never even posted it multiple times. They did not even react to it. Thanks to Lakoff, I learned why- it didn’t fit their frame.

Lakoff as I understand, currently works as an adviser to the Democratic party, but I’m not sure they’re taking his knowledge to heart. Democratic failures in the past few years, culminating in the embarrassing loss last November, largely revolve around this obsession with facts while rejecting ideals. One could argue that Obama tried to go the ideals route, if only superficially, and it paid off. But it seems this lesson was lost on the party. Matt Taibbi provides some good insight into this deficiency in a review of the book Shattered, which is essentially an autopsy of Hillary Clinton’s disaster of a presidential campaign. Here’s a key excerpt:

At the end of Chapter One, which is entirely about that campaign’s exhausting and fruitless search for a plausible explanation for why Hillary was running, writers Allen and Parnes talk about the infighting problem.

“All of the jockeying might have been all right, but for a root problem that confounded everyone on the campaign and outside it,” they wrote. “Hillary had been running for president for almost a decade and still didn’t really have a rationale.”

Allen and Parnes here quoted a Clinton aide who jokingly summed up Clinton’s real motivation:

“I would have had a reason for running,” one of her top aides said, “or I wouldn’t have run.”

The beleaguered Clinton staff spent the better part of two years trying to roll this insane tautology – “I have a reason for running because no one runs without a reason” – into the White House. It was a Beltway take on the classic Descartes formulation: “I seek re-election, therefore I am… seeking re-election.”

Shattered is sourced almost entirely to figures inside the Clinton campaign who were and are deeply loyal to Clinton. Yet those sources tell of a campaign that spent nearly two years paralyzed by simple existential questions: Why are we running? What do we stand for?

The centrists of the so-called “liberal order” in the EU suffer from the same problem. While they talk about “European values” we can see each and every European country violating those values on a daily basis. Meanwhile the best argument a lot of these politicians have going for them is that they’re not (fill in the blank with some far right-wing populist candidate who probably wouldn’t have gained so much popularity were it not for the incompetence of the previous administrations). Centrist leadership is seen as “technocratic,” devoid of ideological slant (even if this is highly debatable), and this is a problem because while they may sometimes manage to stave off the populist monsters they created, the latter still remain a constant and increasingly severe threat.

Looking at Russia’s role in all this, we see a similar problem of values and framing. While I’ve often pointed out that the Kremlin really has no actual ideology, it fervently pretends that it does. Its propaganda makes ideological appeals. Kremlin foreign-language media isn’t trying to actually get people to believe that any one of its forty-seven alternative MH17 theories is true, based on facts. Rather, the idea is that the viewer will accept any or all of those theories because they think that Russia is on their side, that it opposes the domestic politicians they despise, that it upholds their values, or some combination of any of those. In other words these people’s reasoning, to the extent it can even be called reasoning, is basically thus- “My government has accused Russia of shooting down a civilian airliner. I hate my government, and they hate Russia, ergo Russia must be telling the truth.” Whichever alternative explanation this person appropriates to support that conclusion is irrelevant. They may pick more than one no matter how mutually exclusive they are.

Russia actually has a huge advantage in this information war because the Westerners they are trying to reach have no knowledge or experience of real life in Russia. You’re typical American conservative is convinced that he lives in a country of immoral degenerates, and he finds examples of this every day. Meanwhile he hears Russia is all about conservative Christian values and with no actual knowledge or experience to tell him otherwise, in his mind Russia becomes the opposite of America in this degenerate/moral dichotomy. Meanwhile the leftist who sees nothing but contempt for anything labeled socialist in their own country looks at Russia’s over-the-top Victory Day parades and RT’s “anti-corporate” propaganda and comes to see Russia as a check on “American hegemony.” The conservative doesn’t know about the corruption and prostitution while the leftist doesn’t know about the staggering wealth inequality and the promotion of right-wing, even fascist thought by the state. Trying to convince such people with facts alone isn’t going to work because for them, believing those facts goes against their identity as a conservative, a leftist, or whatever.

Buzzwords like civil society, rule of law, and democracy cannot compete with the ideological-based appeals of Russia. Nobody says “I’m a rule-of-law-ist;” the concept in itself cannot be someone’s political identity. Leading Western parties and politicians would have to once again adopt some form of coherent ideology and try as best as possible to adhere to it in order to attract real supporters. Unfortunately I don’t see this happening and I doubt they’ll ever even try. I see the West as being dominated by over-educated, out-of-touch think-tank types who are still dumbfounded by Russia’s ability to run circles around them. They mistake fact-checking and propaganda debunking, which are useful tools, for the cure.

This is only one of many reasons why this liberal centrist order cannot deal with the monster it created in Moscow, and why those of us who sincerely hold values and care about the future of humanity must take up the burden of dealing with Russian propaganda from a values-based, ideological position. We must realize that this is a two-front war, first against the authoritarian kleptocratic dictatorships like Russia and Turkey, then against the incompetent bumbling fools who enabled the former.


30 thoughts on “The Importance of Being Ideological

  1. AndyT

    Ideologies can empower people, but they can also degenerate into dogmas and become soulless mechanisms – the latter is even truer when it comes to “fake”, heterogeneous ones, when a staunch defense of leaders and harsh attacks on dissenters make up for genuinely shared values.

    As per my personal experience, however, most people buying into anti-establishment propaganda, conspiracy theories and the like don’t really seek for a new identity: they look for easy, black-and-white explanations for our societal and economic ills – and ultimately for targets they can vent their anger against.

    Identity and Identitarism are the “superstructure”.

    Producing a value-based, ideological response is a crucial step – but first of all, we need down-to-earth, “emergency” solutions: employment, housing, etc., in a word, Welfare.

    Is the current neo/late/post-capitalistic system able to do so?

    Well, I don’t know, honestly – but it would better try as much as it can, because its time is running out.

    We the people won’t hold on any longer, and we should have our basic needs met, before we can really contribute to a new, healthier ideology.

  2. Asehpe

    We got where we are because people also got tired of ideologies. Communism as an ideology failed, too — it stopped capturing the hearts of minds of people, it stopped seeming to be ‘about values’, to be ‘about something’.

    So I’m a bit saddened now. It seems like you’re arguing that, in order to avoid and counter the tricks that Russia has been playing, we have to embrace a consistent set of ideas, even though consistent sets of ideas were the big players behind WWII and the Cold War. How come?…

    Please make a manifesto of the set of ideals you would defend, being as specific as possible. Perhaps that is the best way to judge whether or not ideologies are still the way to go.

    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      First I’d say that in some parts of the world Communism has captured quite a few hearts- but unfortunately it’s largely the moribund, 20th century variety that will never succeed.

      But what I meant by ideology is really more about ideals. Bernie had ideas, as did Trump (though moronic ones in his case). Neither really tried to enforce some kind of rigid ideology. Hillary’s ideas boiled down to: “Look I’m going to be the first female president!” and “Look how terrible that orange man is!”

      Russia doesn’t enforce any kind of rigid ideology, but it advances its political goals in ideological terms. Take the “multi-polar world,” bullshit, for example. For people who grew up or had their political awakening under Bush and that era of American hegemony, the phrase “multi-polar world” sounds plausible and even just in some way. Of course in reality the world is already somewhat multi-polar and the vision Russia has is a 19th century imperialist one. But that idea carries more weight than “the liberal order” or “Europe.”

    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Ivan Ilyin was indeed a fascist. Not that you have any problem with fascists.

      Also that’s known as history, not news. Learn the difference.

      1. akarlin

        Incorrect. His views were closer to that of contemporary conservativism than even to Russian nationalism, let alone fascism.

        You would know this if you had actually read any of Ilyin’s works (as opposed to, say, Snyder’s regurgitations on the matter).

        You can cure your ignorance here. Quoting from a comment I made there:

        * Frankly he is much more of an anti-Communist ideologue than a Russian nationalist. He condemns in no uncertain terms those members of the White movement who were drawn towards the late Stalinist USSR by its adoption of quasi-nationalist rhetoric and is generally sanguine about Western (though not German) intentions towards Russia, casually discussing even the prospect of the atomic bombing of his country. That is decidedly strange for a nationalist, even a highly anti-Communist one.

        * He even condemns the “oppression” of ethnic minorities in the USSR, whereas a staple of traditional Russian nationalist narratives on the USSR is the disproportional influence of ethnic minorities (especially the Jews) for its “anti-Russian” nature. So far he has been rather vague on the “who to blame” question as regards the Bolshevik Revolution, not going much further than “spiritual sickness.” Again, that is very milquetoast stuff, for a purported nationalist.

        If you want an example of an actual Russian fascist from that period, that would be Konstantin Rodzaevsky. Unfortunately for your “argument,” however, the kremlins don’t not only refrain from promoting his books, but have banned them under anti-extremism laws.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Typical Reddit pedantry. Ilyin expressed praise for fascism and fascist leaders and was a reactionary. Your logic here is similar to that of Bandera apologists.

        Apart from the Italian fascists, virtually no one else outright adopted the term for themselves. It is a blanket term referring to ideologies sharing certain common characteristics, but not necessarily all.

        And we could ignore Mr. Rodzaevsky and look at Dugin, once an open fascist (still is I’d argue), who while certainly not being Putin’s ideologue as some allege (there’s no evidence he’s ever even met the man), has definitely received the support of the Russian state.

        Putin’s state today also condemns the oppression of ethnic minorities- but not by supporting equality and mutual respect. Instead it’s a sort of “know your place” paternalism, where the Muscovite Russian decides the baseline or norm. This is actually very similar to other fascist ideologies such as that of the Ustase, who actually created the Croatian Orthodox Church as a way of encouraging Serbs to identify as Croats and not Serbs. It didn’t work out too well.

      3. akarlin

        Lots of different people praised fascists in the 1930s. From the article I linked to:

        It is indeed true that Ilyin said some positive things about fascism. But he was hardly alone in a lot of this. Winston Churchill, for instance, praised Mussolini in a 1927 speech, saying that fascism ‘has rendered service to the whole world’. Franklin Delano Roosevelt called the Italian Duce ‘that admirable Italian gentleman’. And David Lloyd George described Hitler as ‘a born leader of men, a magnetic and dynamic personality with a single-minded purpose, a resolute will and a dauntless heart.’

        Were Churchill and FDR also fascists?

        Re-Dugin. Voina (precursors to Pussy Riot) once received the support of the Russian state, they got some modern art grant around 2007. So the Kremlin
        BTW, Dugin is not a Russian nationalist either. He denies the existence of race and is on record supporting Russia becoming Greater Turkestan. He is essentially the Russian version of American cuckservatives ranting about muh constitution (Eurasian values) and seeking the future of the Republican Party, and America, in Latinos.

        Re-Instead it’s a sort of “know your place” paternalism, where the Muscovite Russian decides the baseline or norm. Do tell me moar about the joys of life as part of the Herrenvolk in the Putlerreich, where Russians subsidize ethnic minority republics, Kremlin propagandists rail about terrorism having “no religion,” and Tajik terrorists find it easier to get RF citizenship than ethnic Russians from Donbass, while (actual) nationalists are criminally prosecuted for acts of extremism such as calling for “an end to this strange economic system” (Krylov) and insulting the feelings of “those who are not white” by quoting Gumilev.

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Well I’ll give you this- Ilyin may not have been as much as a Nazi admirer as you’ve obviously become, but Ilyin’s praise of Hitler, Mussolini, and fascism goes beyond the comments of Churchill.

        Moreover, elements of his ideology match certain key components of fascism, such as the glorification of the military, of “the leader” (vozhd), and the obsession with spiritualism.

        Plus he continued to defend the idea long after the war was over. Don’t remember Churchill doing that.

        Now as for Dugin, I figure he’s somewhat insane by now, but it’s also very clear that he modifies his ideology based on what the Kremlin needs or what he thinks it needs. In any case he’s certainly received far more support from the Kremlin than Voina ever did.

        He still espouses a fascist ideology. I think the problem is with your newfound Nazi beliefs is that you, like must people, forget or didn’t know that the racially exclusionary NSDAP was something unique among many fascist movements. Actually I can cause quite a bit of buttrage here by pointing out one other far-right organization that put “race” and “racial purity” on such a pedestal like the Nazis, though without the pseudo-scientific rationalization- the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. But I digress.

        As for your complaints about Putin’s Russia today, well I’d remind you that Tatarstan is a donor nation, meaning it is also subsidizing some Russian regions (many of which are underwater). Of course I think we both know what region is getting ridiculous amounts of money and causing Russia nothing but trouble, and on that we’d agree, though I don’t do so for reasons of “race” or religion.

        As for terrorism having no religion in Russia well, yes I’d disagree. Many of Russia’s terrorists are indeed Islamic fundamentalists. Those terrorists that Russia arms and finances in Ukraine often claim to be fighting for Orthodoxy. And of course many Russian Orthodox thugs carry out violent attacks on activists and art exhibits. If we want to connect terrorists to religious ideology, something which I don’t see as such a taboo, let’s just make sure we’re doing it evenly.

        Now back to the general complaint about Putin’s Russia I’d say to you- what did you expect? Many years ago Putin used the nationalists to his advantage. Over time they outlived their usefulness. The Kremlin has always maintained its ties to the nationalists and has continued to use them from time to time, but nobody in the presidential administration is stupid enough to actually fulfill the demands of a bunch of football hooligans. It’s same thing here in Ukraine with Azov and its “Civil Corps.” They’d have us believe that a party run by guys who have basically become the right arm of Avakov is revolutionary and anti-government. Sure. It’s all too easy to dupe some right-wing thugs in order to carry out your business goals.

        But I’d like to remind you that if Russians wish to take a more nationalist route and don’t want to live in peace with their neighbors within Russia, there’s a simple solution- get the fuck out of Siberia, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, the Caucasus. Start in Ukraine, in fact. Remember that in most of those cases those people did not invade Muscovy- Muscovy came to them.

        I think this is where Ilyin, Putin, and Dugin actually do have a more realistic vision than your nationalist buddies. Putin needs “stability” (for him and his ruling class, at least), and nothing will undermine that faster than ethnic strife and religious tension. Of course at the same time, organizations with ties to the Kremlin also subtly spread hate propaganda (carefully aimed at the right groups) so as to divide communities.

        Although it’s for the wrong reasons, I’m glad you’re starting to wake up to the reality of Putin’s “conservative rule.” You’re walking over the same ground I covered so long ago.

      5. akarlin

        Re-“glorification of the military, of “the leader” (vozhd)”. Meaningless, out of context soundbytes when made without mentioning Ilyin’s decidedly non-fascist emphasis on freedom: “Кто любит Россию, тот должен желать для нее свободы; прежде всего свободы для самой России, как государства, свободы для России как национального, хотя и многочленного единства, свободы для русских людей, свободы веры, искания правды, творчества, труда и собственности.”

        Re-“think the problem is with your newfound Nazi beliefs”,,, “without the pseudo-scientific rationalization- the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists”. Sorry, but you’re projecting your own past ideological trajectory as a white power skinhead onto me. I don’t personally care very much about racial purity – though I don’t have any issues with those who do – but I do care for average IQ levels, seeing them as pretty central to civilizational success, and can also observe that they differ substantially amongst countries and races, as has been established by psychometrists to a degree of confidence similar to that of AGW. Of particular relevance, Central Asia is an IQ black hole, in addition to having far higher fertility rates and being Islamic. I have no wish for Russia to develop a resentful, terrorism-prone, welfare-eating underclass like France has – we already send more than enough gibs to Chechnya and co.

        Policy prescriptions follow on from that:

        Re-“As for terrorism having no religion in Russia well, yes I’d disagree.” By any meaningful metric terrorism is overwhelmingly Islamic in both Russia and the West. Oh but of course that is all ROG-sponsored Breitbart fake news.

        Re-“well I’d remind you that Tatarstan is a donor nation.” Something like eight of the top ten donor regions are ethnic minority republics. One is Crimea – thank Ukraine for that.

        Re-“Start in Ukraine, in fact.” Agreed. It’s bizarre that integral parts of Russia such as Novorossiya and Malorossiya remain shorn from it.

        Re-“you’re starting to wake up to the reality of Putin’s “conservative rule.”.” Once again, you are applying your own ideological template to me. I have never been a strong social conservative, so I am and always have been largely indifferent to that aspect of Putin’s program. There is a lot less PC BS in Russia and I would prefer it remain that way but that’s about as far as things go. My shtick has been about using statistics and opinion polls to expose factually wrong Western coverage of Russia (and other topics) where I though it was warranted. Always have, and will continue to do so, even if I don’t support Putin as much as I did in, say, 2014.

      6. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Good lord what a clusterfuck here. First let me point out that I wasn’t a “white power skinhead,” but rather a typically cocksure Dunning-Kruger pseudo-intellectual much like yourself now. The difference is that I actually had the sense to look for information that challenged my beliefs.

        First of all, Ilyin’s talk of freedom is worthless. The so-called “National Liberation Movement” in Russia speaks of preserving Russian “freedom.” The most popular fascist party in Ukraine (not saying much) is actually called “Freedom.”

        “but I do care for average IQ levels, seeing them as pretty central to civilizational success,”

        Really? Apart from the obvious questions about your qualifications to make such judgments about IQ, I’m wondering how you managed to get the IQ scores from ancient Persia, Classical Greece, Rome, etc.

        “Of particular relevance, Central Asia is an IQ black hole, in addition to having far higher fertility rates and being Islamic.”

        And yet had you studied history instead of pseudo-scientific theories on IQ (IQ measures your ability to take IQ tests, basically. Even the guy who invented the concept insisted that it didn’t measure inherent intelligence or ability), you would have known that under Timur and some of his successors, Central Asia was one of the richest locations on Earth, with cities far superior to some in Western Europe.

        Civilizations rise and fall on far more pressing factors than the intelligence of individual leaders. In the case of Central Asia, Europeans finding sea routes to India and the discovery of the Americas, plus wars of succession destroyed the Timurid society and those that followed.

        “By any meaningful metric terrorism is overwhelmingly Islamic in both Russia and the West.”

        Let’s compare the death toll in France to the death toll caused by Russian terrorists in Donbas.

        “Agreed. It’s bizarre that integral parts of Russia such as Novorossiya and Malorossiya remain shorn from it.”

        Oh don’t worry, Russia will get used to it. And they’ll lose a lot more in the future.

        “I have never been a strong social conservative,”

        No I suppose not. That requires discipline, values, consistency. Definitely not in vogue with these alt-right types, that’s for sure.

      7. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I should also point out that your original objection here is invalid.

        >Frothing at the mouth about fake news? I wouldn’t say that. I find a lot of it entertaining.

        >Calling Ilyin a fascist

        This is history, not news, and we’re arguing an interpretation of an individual with a long career. I still say he’s close enough to fit under the umbrella of fascism or at least far-right thought. He’s also been invoked by a regime that is all but openly far right. At most you could say that classifying him as a fascist is debatable.

      8. Jim Kovpak Post author

        And while it’s kind of a digression, your comment about Russia having less PC BS is hilarious. Tell that to the kid who’s facing over 3 years in prison for catching a Pokemon in a church.

      9. akarlin

        “No, everything has been approved.”

        Apparently not, since I posted this yesterday. Okay, let’s try again.


        Re-“I’m wondering how you managed to get the IQ scores from ancient Persia, Classical Greece, Rome, etc.”

        Here you go –

        Re-“IQ measures your ability to take IQ tests, basically.”

        Performance on which happens to correlate well with a wide variety of life outcomes, such as income, occupational prestige, propensity towards crime, etc. That is, it is predictively useful.

        Re-“Even the guy who invented the concept insisted that it didn’t measure inherent intelligence or ability)”

        The g factor of intelligence is the most solid construct in all of psychology.

        It is also the only part of psychology not subject to a replication crisis, according to that Neo-Nazi ideologue Steven Pinker:

        Re-“And yet had you studied history instead of pseudo-scientific theories on IQ (IQ measures your ability to take IQ tests, basically.”

        Lynn and Grigoriev did study the findings of late Tsarist and early Soviet psychometrists (Stalin the SJW banned it because it was hurtful to minorities):

        This paper reviews the studies of socioeconomic and ethnic and racial differences in intelligence carried out in Russia/USSR during the late 1920s and early 1930s. In these studies the IQs of social classes and of ethnic minorities were tested. These included Tatars (a Caucasoid people), Chuvash and Altai (mixed Caucasoid–Mongoloid peoples), Evenk (a mixed Caucasoid–Arctic people), and Uzbeks (a Central–South Asian people). The results of these studies showed socioeconomic differences of 12 IQ points between the children of white collar and blue collar workers, and that with the exception of the Tartars the ethnic minorities obtained lower IQs than European Russians.

        Their findings dovetailed with modern day studies and the results of international standardized tests such as PISA.

        Re-“you would have known that under Timur and some of his successors, Central Asia was one of the richest locations on Earth, with cities far superior to some in Western Europe.”

        (1) No, it wasn’t. FWIW, economic historians (e.g. see Angus Madisson’s figures on his website) tend to estimate that the only regions in the pre-industrial world to go substantially above subsistence levels were mercantile city-states, such as those in northern Italy; later the United Provinces. Central Asia certainly didn’t figure amongst those. However, the differences between all the world’s regions were not cardinal, because Malthusian constraints were universal.

        (2) Central Asia produced almost nothing in the way of human accomplishment relative to Western Europe.

        Re-“plus wars of succession destroyed the Timurid society”

        Because Europe never had succession struggles and devastating religious wars that killed a third of its population in certain regions. /s

        Re-“Let’s compare the death toll in France to the death toll caused by Russian terrorists in Donbas.”

        “Russian terrorists in Donbass” is about as legitimate as saying “Ukronazis in Kiev.” That is, the rantings of an ideologue.

        If the NAF are terrorists then certainly so is the Ukrainian Army for shelling civilians in the Donbass. I do not claim that, however, because I am not an ideologue.

        Re-“Oh don’t worry, Russia will get used to it. And they’ll lose a lot more in the future.”

        I suspect the chances of a civil war in the US might be marginally higher than in Russia at this point (though both are very low).

        I appreciate that this is a scenario that you would probably welcome, based on your repeated postings about it. Let’s say that you actually get it.

        Quiz: Which of these do you consider the likeliest outcome?

        (1) Russia becomes a nuclear wasteland filled with stalkers and supermutants.

        (2) Khodorkovsky comes to power, extradites Putin to the Hague, gives Crimea to Ukraine, leads LGBT parade on Red Square, locks me up for hate speech.

        (3) You get to find out what a fascist Russia looks like in reality as opposed to just imagining it.

        Re-“No I suppose not. That requires discipline, values, consistency. Definitely not in vogue with these alt-right types, that’s for sure.”

        That’s strange coming from someone who periodically rails about conservatives’ aversion to scientific facts. We can be sure consistency isn’t your strong suite.

      10. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Okay I see it now.

        I’m going to go ahead and ignore your pseudo-scientific bullshit unless you’ve produced some peer reviewed work on the subject.

        What I will say is you base your theory on correlation, forgetting that correlation is not causation. For example you talk about IQ correlating to economic success without considering that one is actually dependent on the other. We’ve seen IQs rising globally and we also see that one’s economic status has a huge impact on the IQ score.

        This supports what the inventor of the test said- that it doesn’t measure inherent intelligence.

        Now on with your historical errors.

        “(1) No, it wasn’t. FWIW, economic historians ”

        Uh yeah, it actually was, in its time.

        “Central Asia produced almost nothing in the way of human accomplishment relative to Western Europe.”

        Save for incredible architecture (Mughal), advancements in rocketry, and especially astronomy. The observatory built by one of Timur’s descendants was able to calculate the time of a solar year within about 30 seconds of the actual thing. Until modern instruments nobody had ever gotten closer.

        “Because Europe never had succession struggles and devastating religious wars that killed a third of its population in certain regions. ”

        Great job totally missing the point there.

        ““Russian terrorists in Donbass” is about as legitimate as saying “Ukronazis in Kiev.” That is, the rantings of an ideologue.”

        Sorry but these are by-definition terrorist-insurgents. And they have also carried out several bombings against civilian targets in government controlled Ukraine.

        “If the NAF are terrorists then certainly so is the Ukrainian Army for shelling civilians in the Donbass. I do not claim that, however, because I am not an ideologue.”

        No, they are not. Why is anyone shelling anyone in Ukraine? Because Russian-sponsored terrorists started a war. In some areas of Ukraine instigators were arrested and there was no loss of life. In other areas, with the backing of Russia, the insurgents fought back with increasingly heavier weapons- in other words, they started a war.

        As for your options for a future Russia, this is quite limited. What I am most concerned about is another 1991 scenario with feuding between different power bases in Moscow as well as in the region. It does not benefit anyone inside or outside Russia.

        As for a real fascist Russia, I’d be surprised if they’d ever manage to build something that coherent after a collapse scenario, thanks to the Surkovian system of propaganda and what it’s done to civil society.

        “That’s strange coming from someone who periodically rails about conservatives’ aversion to scientific facts. We can be sure consistency isn’t your strong suite.”

        You’re not a scientist, Anatoly. You’re an internet-raised pseudo-intellectual picking and choosing sources that support your hypothesis.

        Come back when your book has been published and reviewed by actual academics who work in that field.

      11. akarlin

        1. Why should I write a book on that when many excellent ones have already been written on the subject:

        * The g Factor by Arthur Jensen – for the most comprehensive treatment
        * Bell Curve by Charles Murray and Richard Hernnsteni – its popularization
        * Intelligence: All that Matters by Stuart Ritchie – power summary

        However, for starters, you can start with “Mainstream Science on Intelligence: An Editorial With 52 Signatories, History, and Bibliography” (1994).

        2. You do not know the first things about pre-industrial economic history. Pointless discussion.

        3. When European Jesuits came to China in the 17th century, their predictions beat out Muslim and Chinese competitors with a huge margin. The Taj Mahal looks nice but was architecturally unimpressive – the Hagia Sofia was built more than a millennium earlier, and its dome was almost twice as large.

        Instead of relying on the anecdotal bits and pieces you might have picked up in your World History 101 freshman class, I suggest Human Accomplsihment by Charles Murray and Intellectual Curiosity and the Scientific Revolution by Toby Huff for more quantitative, evidence based approaches.

        4. Since you are such a huge fan of appeal to authority, I would note that no country other than the Ukraine has designated the NAF as a terrorist formation.

        Anyhow, I’m done here. You are too boring and stupid to even troll let alone have a serious discussion with.

      12. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Yes, of course you’d recommend Charles Murray.

        I think what you fail to realize here is that while I recognize that intelligence is partially inherited, I find that whole issue rather irrelevant from a political standpoint. We know that intelligence also depends on a number of societal factors, and it is those I am most concerned with because we have the ability to influence those.

        The rest of your “argument” basically consists of aesthetics. I’m not going to bother educating you on various societies you never bothered to study because they weren’t interesting to you.

        I could sit here writing out dozens upon dozens of examples of non-European civilization’s accomplishments, but you can just dismiss them because you subjectively judge them to be not as good. I’m also not sure why you brought up Jesuits in China; I can only assume you were talking about astronomy but the example I gave of the Timurid advancements in astronomy date back to about the mid 15th century.

        Once again your meticulous pseudo-intellectualism blinds you to the basic point I was making. There are many environmental factors which explain the rise and fall of great civilizations.

        It is of no interest to me how many countries recognize or don’t recognize the Russian proxy forces in Ukraine as terrorist groups. Terrorists are as terrorists do. I think you’ll agree that the US and the West have often backed groups which they refused to recognize as terrorists in spite of their clearly terrorist activities.

        I’m glad you’ve given up your quest to impress me. I think you, like many of your internet-raised brethren, mistakenly believe that because I’m not willing to sit here and gather vast amounts of sources from my library and years of study of certain topics, it means I am unable to. You simply cannot conceive that someone would not consider you worthy of that kind of time and attention. You can try to insult me all you want, but I can always come back with no more than two words (three if you don’t use the contraction): You’re you.

        See for all your meticulous study of those sources that support your hypothesis (and I can clearly see you’ve admirably put a great deal of time into that), we see that the conclusions you come to about the world are hilariously idiotic. Neo-reaction, affinity for Putin’s Russia, Red Pill bullshit- all of these things I’ve seen from you at one time or another.

        So how smart can you be in a practical sense if all your study leads you to look at a trainwreck like Russia and say “Yep! That looks like a good horse to bet on!”

        So again, you’re you. What more needs to be said?

      13. Jim Kovpak Post author

        It’s also worth noting how much time you wasted here with your amateur theories on history when your original complaint was me referring to Ilyin as a fascist. Like a lot of figures of his time, we could certainly debate how close to fascism he is, but I’d say that he’s way too close to be promoted by a government that so often loves to lecture the world about saving us all from “fascism.”

    2. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Also could we leave the 4chan sperglord > shit where it belongs? Just write in coherent, cohesive sentences if you actually have an argument to make.

      1. akarlin

        Well I just replied again and once again it appears to have gone straight to spam.

        Here is how it started:

        “No, everything has been approved.”

        Apparently not, since I posted this yesterday. Okay, let’s try again.

  3. NonDenominationalLeftist

    Man I remember arguing with a Moon Landing conspiracy theorist a while back. As an electrical engineer who specializes in RF/microwave frequency work, I happen to know a few people in academia who worked on research that pretty easily proves the moon landings happened (experiments involving the mirrors that the Apollo astronauts placed on the moon). When I brought that up, the conspiracy theorist just said “I don’t believe it”. He didn’t even accuse me or my colleagues of being shills. I guess he was so unprepared at dealing with this kind of evidence first hand that he decided to maintain ignorance rather than reshape narrative.

    Probably at a more extreme level are the HAARP conspiracy theories. Anyone with a basic understanding of radar remote sensing can debunk the claims that the US is operating a weather control device in Alaska. But apparently this theory is so widespread that the President of Venezuela apparently believes it. I’m convinced that no amount of hard evidence can turn some of these people away.

  4. PaulR

    Go read Ilyin’s book ‘On the Essence of Legal Consciousness’ (now available in translation if the original Russian is too much for you). I defy you to come back afterwards and say that the author is a fascist. If he is, it’s of a very odd sort which stresses the natural rights of the individual and the necessity of the state and positive law being bound by natural law, and which condemns in no uncertain terms states and laws which infringe upon the natural liberty of the individual. It’s not like any fascism I know – more like liberalism (albeit not of a democratic type).

    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      One can find plenty of writings by various fascists which, taken out of their context, may appear progressive, revolutionary, or whatever. I can assure you that I’ve seen quotes from founding fathers of liberalism which almost read like the ravings of fascists.

      Without knowing the context surrounding that particular book (though it appears to be published very late in his career, which is telling), I would say at best you could argue that his philosophy could lend itself to a more liberal interpretation or a more right-wing reactionary (i.e. fascist) one.

      My concern is with that whole anti-democratic point. That’s pretty crucial. Because whatever Ilyin truly personally believed (kind of irrelevant since he never held any actual sway over a state), his philosophy (particularly the authoritarian bits of it) is being promoted by a state which ticks virtually every box of the fascist checklist.

      1. PaulR

        ‘his philosophy (particularly the authoritarian bits of it) is being promoted’ – Actually, no. Read the actual bits of Ilyin that Putin has quoted. He quotes the liberal bits, not the authoritarian bits. It really does help to research these matters before pontificating on them.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I’m less concerned with what Putin says, but rather what he does. What I see is two intertwined corrupt tyrannical organizations (the ROC and the government) using this fellow’s philosophy as a justification of their continued hegemony over Russian society. It’s also incredibly hypocritical that this same government labels Ukrainians as “Nazis” due to the overstated glorification of Bandera, given Ilyin’s history with certain emigre organizations (some of whose members worked for the Wehrmacht).

  5. jstricklan

    I am astounded, Jim, that you spend so much time responding to “alternative facts.” I don’t know if you deserve a medal or a vacation to unlax. It does show a compassionate heart, though. +1

    But anyway, you’re totally right about ideology and the West’s total failure to not only debunk but to replace with positive values. After raging for hours on the internet with my otherwise reasonable Trump-voting friends (“He’s not so bad!”) I’m starting to believe the old chestnut that if you debunk a alternative statement for someone without replacing it with a new way of viewing the world, the person will reject the fact. (See, e.g., about the last 20 minutes of this You Are Not So Smart episode: .)

    Argument: The cure to alternative facts is true facts + ideology. We need more politics, not less, to solve the world’s problems. (“Centrists” everywhere are scratching their heads.)

    Example: People say that Russia is/was a non-ideological society after the collapse of the USSR, but I’m not so sure. Mostly, it’s that the big ideologies burned them so bad that there weren’t very many good public options available. Communism had been supported by lies for so long that the left was discredited, liberalism was discredited by neoliberal shock-therapy’s invidious economic effects, etc. But I’ve recently decided to try out the theory that the Kremlin DOES have an ideology: empire. Tsarist, Stalinist, Brezhnevist, “neoliberal,” fascist — it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s empire. That is an ideology — the ideology of state power — and it actually does hold together. It just doesn’t care what economic system it uses to do it. To replace that system, you have to not only point out that power-seeking kleptocracy is really bad for a society,but to replace it with an actual (ideological!) agenda. (For example, replacing kleptocracy requires the rule of law but the rule of law doesn’t explain itself, so you need liberte, egalite, fraternite or something to flesh it out.)

    Keep on keeping on.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s