Tag Archives: Fantasy

A Good Cartoon

A Good Cartoon is one of those precious few things that justify Tumblr’s continued existence. If you’re not familiar with it, the author/s take conservative political cartoons and reinterpret them with a progressive or even radical left-wing message, with hilarious results. Each reappraisal traditionally ends with the verdict: “A good cartoon.” In the same tradition, I’d like to do my own “good cartoon,” using the work of what appears to be a popular political cartoonist in Russia. I typically see his work posted by different VK groups, but I believe I’ve also seen the same work published on RIA-Novosti. Honestly I can’t remember and don’t care. Almost any of these cartoons could merit the same treatment, but after seeing today’s subject I couldn’t hold back anymore. So without further ado…

TRANSLATION: Obama wants to buy oil from Russia, but the talking bear tells him that his dollars

TRANSLATION: Obama wants to buy oil from Russia, but the talking bear tells him that his dollars “aren’t money” and demands rubles instead.

Obama wakes up from a nightmare, in this case a strange vision of a bizarro-world in which the US actually needs to buy oil from Russia and can’t pay for it in dollars. Of course Obama’s nightmare is every Putin fan’s wet dream, i.e. the switch from trading oil in dollars to local currencies such as rubles. Incidentally, Russian politicians and Putin fan-boys have been predicting this as being just-around-the-corner for years. Whether nightmare or wet-dream, it is like all dreams a fantasy concocted in an unfettered mind at rest and totally out of touch with material reality.

The shock on Obama’s face is partially a reaction to how ridiculous the whole thing seems, seeing that Russia isn’t even in the top 10 list of countries from which the US imports its oil. It’s actually number twelve, behind countries such as Ecuador, Angola, and Chad. Thus if the Putin fan’s wet dream actually came true, Obama would first and foremost need Canadian dollars and Saudi riyals, not rubles, not by a long shot. Obama must also think it’s strange to have a dream about such a bizarre scenario in light of what’s been going on with US domestic oil production in recent times. He’s probably wondering why he didn’t have a dream about falling from a high building or being chased by wolves, both being far more plausible scenarios than what he saw in this particular nightmare.

Of course the talking bear has symbolic significance as well. At first glance one might dismiss it as the cliche symbol of Russia, but it has a deeper meaning. The bear symbolizes the depths to which the Russian economy is slated to fall, reaching a point where austerity measures and budget cuts become so severe that state workers and functionaries are laid off en masse and replaced by trained bears which will work for honey and the opportunity to rifle through people’s garbage. Yet as any reasonable person might expect, turning over routine financial transactions and trade policy to bears, or any animals for that matter, is bound to result in a marked drop in the quality of work. Hence this bear, thinking primarily of a sweet reward and blissfully unaware of humans’ concept of trade and economics, fruitlessly demands payment in the currency he is used to seeing being handled by his trainers. As such, Obama is unable to buy the oil he doesn’t need.

A good cartoon.


I’m so glad I finally joined Twitter. Had I not done so, I wouldn’t have been made aware of the Greatest Article of 2014. Credit goes to Mark Adomanis for finding this gem. This is like a late Christmas present.

Prepare yourself. Sit up straight with both feet planted firmly on a flat, sturdy surface. Use the mouse to scroll while bracing yourself with the other hand firmly on an armrest, table, or otherwise solid object. What you are about to experience is one of the edgiest, red pill-est, most subversive articles ever written. This is the kind of shit that will bring the system crashing down, man. Just a few paragraphs in I was wondering how this guy managed to avoid being taken out by an NSA-controlled Reaper drone. Strap yourself in. We’re about to take a Mountain Dew-fueled rocket down the rabbit hole, through the looking glass, and various other Alice in Wonderland references! That last sentence doesn’t make sense, you say? Sure, if you believe what the government teaches you!

First of all, this article is written by Tyler Durden. Perhaps you didn’t note the significance of that. Tyler fuckin’ Durden.  Tyler Durden. 

Tyler Durden

Yes, that’s right, the wisdom-spouting, totally liberated soul which represents the ideal self in the fantasy of a disillusioned, dejected, alienated white collar worker in a film that was released in 1999 to the rejoicing of many an angsty teenage boy.  Tyler Durden was that mythical hero that reminded us that we are not our jobs, not our cars, not our houses or our “fuckin’ khakis.”  We are not our fucking lawns, not our bank accounts, not our Playstations, not our Starbucks Pumpkin Spice lattes, not our boxed sets of The Simpsons seasons 5-8. No, you corporate fat cats, we are men! Masculine, men!  That is the message of Tyler Durden, that mischievous spirit, that impish boy who lives inside the mind of every adult male who has been beaten by the system into conformity. Tyler Durden wants us to unleash the power of our raw masculinity and reject this consumerist, conformist system. Sorry ladies, Tyler Durden is for men only. You don’t have a Tyler Durden inside your mind.

Getting back to the most awesome article of 2014the author Tyler Durden informs us that Putin has an “ace up his sleeve,” which he can play against the West. What that is, we don’t know, but trust us, he’s got one. Hopefully Vladimir Putin will read this article and contact Mr. Durden to find out what his ace is. But enough of my pathetic rambling, let us read the edgy, iconoclastic words of Tyler Durden.

The entire world is watching Putin play poker with the Western politicians lead by Obama and followed by Washington quislings in London, Brussels and Berlin.

After 16 December it looks more like Putin played a game of “52-pickup.”  Of course who am I to question the wisdom of Tyler Durden? I wouldn’t know the difference between Texas Hold ’em and Magic: The Gathering when it comes to geopolitical card games. I’m also surprised to find out that Brussels and Berlin are “quislings” of Washington. One would think that if America were trying to dominate the world, Belgium and Germany wouldn’t be such major economic competitors for America. One would expect them to resemble neo-liberal banana republics instead of having strong welfare systems and political structures that differ radically from that of the USA. For some unknown reason, the US wants to flat out destroy Russia, but it does nothing to a country which is a major economic competitor and which is already partially occupied by large American military forces. Oh well. I’m not Tyler Durden.

America’s goal since the end of the Cold War has been to weaken by financial, economic and, if necessary, military means any real competition to its global financial and resource domination through the petrodollar and dollar world reserve currency status.

Odd. Japan and Germany are both such competitors. Since the fall of the USSR, Russia hasn’t been an economic or military competitor with the US. Does Tyler Durden know about China? Also who’s still afraid of the petrodollar? It’s bound to be replaced by petro-ruble any day now, according to RT’s Max Kaiser.

The current trade and economic sanctions against Russia and Iran follow this time-tested action that is never successful on its own, as we know from the 50-plus-year blockade of Cuba.

First of all, the sanctions against Russia are nothing like the sanctions against Cuba in any way. Cuba suffered not only a blockade, but years of armed terrorism and sabotage, all because it defied the US. In fact Castro did not initially lean towards the USSR; the US pushed him in that direction with its reaction to the revolution. Cuba did not annex part of another nation.  Most of the sanctions against Russia target individuals and banks; if anyone made a move that has had a noticeable effect on ordinary Russians, it was Putin with his food imports ban. Cuba’s experience was far more severe.

But this strategy can lead to opposition nations retaliating by military means, often their only alternative to end blockades etc., which are an act of war and allow the US and other democracies to bring their ultimate superior military power to bare against the offending sovereign state. This worked for Lincoln against the Confederate States of America, by Woodrow Wilson against the Central Powers before World War One, against the Japanese Empire before World War Two, Iraq, Libya – the list is endless.

Ah yes, damn America for its oppression of the Confederate States of America, the Central Powers, and the poor Japanese Empire! Their only crime was resisting American tyranny and trying to promote sound money and Ron Paul!

Recently the US has created the oil price collapse, working closely with its client state Saudi Arabia, in order to weaken the economic power of both Iran and Russia, the two main nations opposing US hegemony, foreign policy and petrodollar policy. Yes, this will play havoc with the US shale oil industry as well as London’s North Sea oil industry but oil profits pale in comparison to the importance of maintaining Western power over Russia and China.

Citation needed? Oh wait, this is Tyler Durden. Since he is merely a figment of the imagination, he can be anywhere. He must have overheard the backroom deal where the US and Saudi Arabia decided to go to war with Russia. It has nothing to do with something like 8 different US presidents promising to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil or anything like that. Tyler Durden wants us to have more expensive oil. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to use it for, though, since we’re supposed to reject all the consumer crap that requires oil.

I hope Putin realizes the US is not playing games here, as this is a financial and strategic game to the death for Washington and it’s Western allies that have foolishly followed the Goldman Sachs/central banking cartel’s deadly sovereign debt recipe and for growth and prosperity. The time is up; the debts can never be repaid and sooner or later must be repudiated one way or the other.

Tyler doesn’t seem to understand the difference between personal debt, and sovereign debt, just as he seems to think that Goldman Sachs is behind central banking. Go easy on him though, he is merely an imaginary reflection of one alienated man’s ideal self.

China is waiting in the wings as the new world economic power and while it is too big to challenge, US strategy is to take out its top two allies, Iran and Russia, to buy time for Wall Street and Washington. 

Oh goodie, some grand chess game bullshit. China already is the world’s largest economy. The thing is, however, that China’s success benefits the US. It’s not exactly a secret that major American industries have been chasing Chinese consumers’ money for years now, most notably Hollywood. The relationship between China and the US is mutually beneficial, at least from an economic point of view. This actually protects China from any significant US hostility.

The strategy might be a competitive economic course of action but the risk of military consequences and even a third world war loom on the horizon and no country has ever defeated Russia in a land attack. This is risky brinkmanship just to protect our banking and Wall Street elites and their profits at the expense of the American people, I might add, but the US has done this before.

Ah yes, no country has ever defeated Russia in a land attack. Well, if you don’t count Napoleon at Austerlitz. He only lost because he made an ill-planned attack on the Russian capital. Then there’s the Crimean War, which is considered a Russian loss. Then there’s the Russo-Japanese War. The First World War would also best be counted as a loss. The first Chechen War was a loss and the “victory” in the second Chechen War is highly debatable. But I guess if you ignore all that, no country has ever defeated Russia in a land attack.

Is This Just a Repeat of the Versailles Treaty, Russian-style?

This has all happened before. It’s the same old game with different players.

Uh yeah…It’s the same game as before, because in 2014 a major World War has just ended, and now Russia is about to sign a humiliating treaty. This has happened before!

If you look closely at real history rather than the establishment-directed propaganda dished out to the public, you’ll realize that the Western financial elites and central banking cartel seldom change tactics. Why should they? Their financial empires continue to grow during all major wars and financial crises and if they should guess wrong, then they get taxpayers to bail them out.

“Real history” is something you can major in at Youtube University. By the way, I hope you’re keeping track of how many times this guy refers to “financial elites,” bankers, etc.

The Goldman Sachs, Rothschild and Soros types control the Western democracies as well as the financial markets and use paid or blackmailed cheerleaders and front men to advance their best interests to the populace as acceptable economic or political policies.

Goldman Sachs…Rothschild…Soros. Banking elites, financial elites… This all sounds vaguely familiar.  Nah…I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that he points out those names. They must be the only people at the top of the capitalist hierarchy.

For example, Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points statement given on January 8, 1918, claiming the war and US intervention was a moral cause to advance peace in Europe after World War One, was one of the leading reasons the Germans sued for peace.

Actually the German Revolution and the deprivations that led to it are what drove the Germans to sue for peace. That and their two main allies had already done so, leaving them virtually alone. Oh wait, maybe that’s not “real history.”

The entire Austrian-Hungarian empire was totally destroyed except for the small area of present Austria and Germany, which was stripped of much of its territory and subjected to a vengeful, unpayable war debt comparable to America’s current national debt today. Sadly, the treaty created the public anger and economic chaos that eventually brought Hitler to power and set the stage for the Second World War.

The Austro-Hungarian empire broke up largely because nationalist movements increased in power as the country strained under the deprivations of war, something it was ill-prepared for in the first place. Anyone who knows anything about Austria-Hungary knows the maxim about how remarkable it was that it lasted so long. The empire was basically broken up prior to the Versailles conference anyway, but again, that’s probably not “real history.” It’s also worth noting that it was the European powers who were most interested in punishing Germany.

First, the US cable pundits are suggesting that Putin might retaliate by invading Ukraine. Why would Russia want Ukraine? Except for substantial agricultural resources that can be purchased on the open market, this is a bankrupt country with a long list of failed governments. The country has become a pawn in the battle between East and West, and its people have already suffered so much. Now Russia might move in the East to protect Russian-speaking areas and could be willing to suffer the additional economic consequences of creating a land bridge to Crimea but the military option appears quite limited and counter-productive at best.

Why would Russia want Ukraine, you ask? The kind of “patriot” Putin’s government cultivates positively orgasms at the thought of ruling over people, especially former Soviet republics. These people are seen as traitors who rocked the boat, who bit the hand that fed them. In this empire of cynicism, Russians don’t like the idea of former Soviet populations clawing their way to a better future. If Russians are miserable and dominated, others should be too. By Russia dominating Ukraine, the utterly dominated Russian feels slightly better because there is someone to look down on. This of course, calls to mind analogies of segregation and apartheid. The poorest white could always consider himself to be superior to the most accomplished black man, and therefore he supported the system that afforded him that privilege.

To be sure, yes, Russia conquering Ukraine is irrational, but we’re not dealing with rational people. For fifteen years Putin and his cronies robbed the Russian people, always promising to diversify and modernize the economy and state. Then came the morning that the project was due, and they had nothing. Maidan exposed this, so the only thing they could think of was to seize the Crimea. What would happen next simply didn’t factor in.  Personally I don’t think Putin will risk another military intervention for any reason, but I’ve been forced to admit that I was wrong about him being rational. If enough of his pseudo-intellectual “experts” are telling him he can get away with it, he might actually try it.

No nation will win a shooting war between the US, UK and EU versus Russia and China. The consequences are too horrible to be contemplated but Russia has an ace in the hole that can win the financial and economic battle going on today.

Oh really? Do tell us what that is, Mr. Durden!  Or is that something you don’t talk about, like Fight Club?

First, Russia should join with China in a new gold, oil and natural resource backed monetary union as an alternative to the failed debt democracy model pushed by Wall Street, the central bank cartel and self-serving politicians in the West. It simply does not work in the long term to finance prosperity and improved standards of living through mountains of debt placed on future generations.

And China would want to do this…Why? China is happily reaching out to Russia, but as Adomanis puts it, it isn’t running a charity. I’ve written several times about the conditions China is imposing on Russia in these deals they’ve been signing, and according to those parameters China is definitely dominant in the relationship.

I also really love how he says the Western system doesn’t work, while it clearly is working quite well in comparison to Russia’s “resource backed” system. Please, Mr. Durden, call us when the US dollar is actually tanking the way the ruble did on 16 December. Call us when the US starts looking like Russia. It’s one thing to say that the system is highly flawed, exploitative, immoral, or whatever, but to say it doesn’t work in comparison to corrupt, authoritarian state which cannot produce a suitable leader in 25 years? No. Just, no.

Washington has destroyed every tax haven and bit of personal and financial privacy in the world because of its desperate need for revenue. Every financial haven has caved, including Switzerland, because they cannot hope to prevail against the US, UK and EU.

Hmmm…That’s funny, aren’t offshore tax havens one of the concrete ways those “financial elites” and corporate fat cats dominate our system? After all, it’s not your average retail employee whose squirreling money away on the Isle of Man or Belize.

The US intends to make Russia a pariah state and cut it off from trade, funds transfer, banking and Western credit markets. It will not relent until Putin is overthrown and Russia is compliant with and a supporter of the New World Order.

In Fight Club, Tyler knew everything the narrator knew. I guess I can’t be the narrator because this Tyler doesn’t seem to be aware that for years, Russia’s ruling elite kept their money in the banks of the New World Order Rothschild Jewish Financial Elite Banking Cartel.

Second, Russia should act offensively rather than defensively on the financial front by creating corporate tax-free/low income tax zones and welcoming corporations, successful individuals and entrepreneurs to take up residence and create jobs and prosperity. The Hong Kong model does work to create industry, service industry and free-market prosperity and to win, Russia needs far more than a resource-based economy.

This is hilarious. Did this guy just find out about a country called Russia earlier this year? Also, doesn’t welcoming corporations essentially mean welcoming the corporate-dominated hegemony? Or are they supposed to welcome all corporations except banks? Welcome “successful individuals” and entrepreneurs? Has this guy not done so much as half an hour’s research on what doing business in Russia is like? This is a state where your visa can be canceled and your assets seized at the drop of a hat, assuming you paid all the necessary bribes to get your business up and running in the first place. Does that sound like a sound investment climate?

The Hong Kong model does work to create industry, service industry and free-market prosperity and to win, Russia needs far more than a resource-based economy.

Really? No shit. People have been telling the Russian government to do that for years. Problem is, you do that, and what you get is a bourgeois class that isn’t necessarily beholden to Putin. This isn’t want he and his close friends want.

Russia needs more population and a larger middle class and should offer residency and citizenship opportunities to productive and successful workers, entrepreneurial businesses and corporations etc. with the right of reasonable financial and corporate privacy along with the low tax benefits.

Clearly Tyler took too many shots to the head at Fight Club. Russia got a larger middle class in the mid-2000’s. As they got a taste of the good life, they started demanding more, becoming tired of the glass ceiling that reserves the best positions in life for friends of the elite. They started protesting and the government came to view them with suspicion. Today they are looked at as “the fifth column,” the pawns who will accomplish that revolution the United States is supposedly cooking up. And his advice for Putin is to build up Russia’s middle class? Clearly he’s new here.  He might as well recommend that Putin seize the moon and build a colony there.

Canada, the wonderful country I live and work in today, offers permanent residency benefits and citizenship to hundreds of thousands of foreigners wanting to work and immigrate to Canada together with low corporate tax benefits.

He lives in Canada? Isn’t that a “socialist” dystopia run by the American NWO banking cartel?

Russia can and should do the same, although the market will require bargain prices as Russia does not have the long history of rule of law, security and peace like Canada does.

No shit. Tyler clearly doesn’t understand how things work around here. Rule of law means that Putin and his friends can’t run the country like their private estate, a la Mobutu Sese Seku. Also I’m surprised this guy wants Russia to be like Canada, which I’m sure he considers a socialist hellhole in all his other rants.

Russia should look at good climate areas like Crimea and other areas around the Black Sea and maybe Kaliningrad in the north directly in the middle of the EU.

Yes I’m sure they’ll get right on that. The Russian government is known for taking advice from people using the name “Tyler Durden.”

Competititon, free markets, minimal regulation and low taxes are the 21st century solution to military aggression, over-indebted and resource-hungry empires.

Really? Cite an example.

Putin said it best in his news conference last week.

“They won’t leave [the bear] alone. They will always seek to chain it. And once it’s chained, they’ll rip out its teeth and claws. The nuclear deterrence, speaking in present-day terms. As soon as this happens, nobody will need [the bear] anymore. They’ll stuff it. And start to put their hands on its Taiga [Siberian forest belt] after it. We’ve heard statements from Western officials that Russia’s owning Siberia was not fair.” – Vladimir Putin

Should I be surprised that this guy saw something profound in this nonsensical quote?

Vladimir Putin, now is the time to play your ace in the hole.

Yes, whatever the hell it is. Play it!

Russia can win the financial and economic war being waged against it but not by playing the same old game of poker where cheating prevails. Show the world that Russia is worthy of 21st century leadership in a peaceful and competitive manner by using the debt, currency and banking weaknesses of the West to defeat an opponent out to chain Russia as it has the rest of the world into surrender and serfdom.

I can’t help but notice that he doesn’t exactly say what using “debt, currency, and banking weakness” actually entails. Also why does he think Russia is not “chained” in serfdom? He lives in Canada. Is he not experiencing serfdom? Canada is far more regulatory than the US, and it has a much stronger welfare state.

If you are as concerned as I am about where the world is headed, consider securing a second home internationally in the right location as a means to protect you and your family. Think of it as lifestyle insurance.

Tyler, any time you get sick of living in Canada, contact me and we’ll do a trade. You turn over a portion of your assets to me. For example, your house, or more likely your parents’ house. In return I will set you up with a job here in Russia and give you all the advice you need to working and living here. I will suffer the consequences of the NWO’s collapse, living in Canada or the US, while you will surely reap the windfall of Russia’s immanent victory. Do we have a deal?

Holy fuck, was that not the most awesome article you’ve ever read? Are you not slashed to ribbons by the pure edginess of it? I feel like I’m committing an act of terrorism just reading through it.  Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got to go on Amazon and order three boxes of Guy Fawkes masks.

Down the rabbit hole

So recent events in Ukraine had given me some hope that perhaps Putin would be snap back to reality and realize that he needs to stop the support for an insurgency that has no worthy cause and is getting people killed in the name of defending those same people from a threat which obviously didn’t exist. I mean he could do that. Or I should say could have done that. There was always the other option, that is to say descending deeper and deeper into Fantasy Land.  Guess which option he took.

"So then I told Obama that I am Tsar of all Russians and the new Russian Empire will not suffer the insults of upstart nations! Have some tea. HAVE SOME!"

“So then I told Obama that I am Tsar of all Russians and the new Russian Empire will not suffer the insults of upstart nations! Have some tea. HAVE SOME!”

Yeah, that’s the general direction. More superpower posturing and jingoistic bullshit instead of rational thinking and attempts at reconciliation and solving the conflict. Here are the highlights.

Putin also called on Western powers not to meddle in Russia’s domestic affairs and said steps were needed to strengthen the country’s military capabilities because of moves by NATO and to protect the economy from “external threats”.

Ah yes, don’t meddle in Russia’s domestic affairs. He actually said this while it’s obvious to the entire world that Russia is meddling in the domestic affairs of Ukraine, and arguably several other countries. Strengthening military capabilities is a waste of time and money because NATO includes the strongest military powers on Earth, and Russia cannot afford to even approach parity with the US without totally ripping its social system apart in the process. Even then you can’t buy better soldiers; once you impoverish millions of Russian citizens the poor young men you conscript for their one year of service are going to be worse off than those they conscript today. The mental plague that seems to have taken over the Kremlin and which still apparently has the ear of the once rational Putin is itching for this fight and yet they should count their lucky stars every day that it never happens.

As for protecting the economy from external threats well, the economy is the best weapon any country has these days. Russia obviously made some progress, which is why EU countries have dithered on sanctions until recently. But the fact is that sanctions are still a viable option because Russia hasn’t become enough of an economic player to be indispensable. Gas and oil just aren’t enough to protect Russia, and competition in the natural gas market is rising. It would have been nice had the leadership, from 2012, embarked upon a thorough campaign of development and encouragement for new start-ups and industries instead of passing laws in the name of “family values” and posturing against the US.

See the reason the US has so much influence in the world is that it is still a top tier economic power. Even if that has declined somewhat in recent years, the perception that the US is the horse to bet on is very strong.  Ditto for the EU. I’ve always resented the EU but I can totally agree with the perception that if Ukraine, via an association agreement, managed to achieve standards of living on par with what I saw in Poland, it would be better off than it has been for the past twenty years. That’s better than what Russia was offering.  Russia’s response to Maidan was first “Fuck you for not appreciating all we have done for you,” followed by, “Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!”

In closing on this point, for the past few years many in the Russian government and media have been basically attacking and demonizing nations all over the world and then they are shocked to find that the populace of these countries aren’t to quick to sympathize with Russia, even when they are in the right. America went through eight years of similar paranoia under George W. Bush, but the difference is almost immediately there was a huge backlash against the “America, fuck yeah!” attitude, to the point where it’s basically a joke for I would dare say most of the population.

Getting back to the article…

“We are being called on to use our influence with the separatists in southeastern Ukraine. We of course will do everything in our power but that is not nearly enough,” Putin said at the start of a meeting with defense and security chiefs.

This could be chalked up to poor translation but it raises a few questions.  First, were they not called upon to do this weeks ago? Second, they say the “will” do everything within their power, but then they claim that is not nearly enough? “Will” implies future, as in you haven’t actually done anything yet. So yeah, if all you did is say you will do something and you haven’t thus far, then you’re not doing nearly enough. You’re not doing anything at all. Obviously the whole world could tell if they are doing something once you start hearing reports of Russian border guards arresting people crossing the border illegally or with arms. Self-proclaimed DNR leader Borodai is a Russian businessman with property in Moscow which could easily be seized by the Russian government, in theory. When that happens people will come around to believing Russia’s claim to be doing something about this.

But the next quote is the one that makes me fear for the president’s sanity.

 “Russia is being presented with what is almost an ultimatum: ‘Let us destroy this part of the population that is ethnically and historically close to Russia and we will not impose sanctions against you,” Putin said. “This is a strange and unacceptable logic.”

Nobody is “destroying part of the population.” The people who are not just historically but presently close to Russia, in the sense that they are Russian citizens from Russia, are currently holding the local population hostage under the pretext of protecting them from a threat that wasn’t there initially, but is now thanks to their actions. Even then, there have been no credible reports of any atrocities or mass murder in areas which have been re-taken by the government forces. I still think that the Ukrainian government needs to be pressured to disarm and possibly arrest members of para-military units like the “Azov battalion,” which are extremely dangerous and which violate international laws regarding mercenaries, but thus far Russian claims of “punitive” units are clearly bullshit.  Nobody is trying to destroy these people, and nobody is discriminating against them. The original, local Donbass rebels were demanding federalization and more local control, something that the Ukrainian government may have offered during the cease-fire, but of course by then it was too late because Borodai and Co. were already in the midst of another independence, then annexation two-step.

And what about strange and unacceptable logic? Well remember how in that quote he implies that Russia is preventing the Ukrainian government from destroying these people with close historical ties to Russia?  Well…

He did not, however, directly address the question of whether Russia has been arming the rebels – he has denied such accusations before.

Indeed, he has denied arming the rebels. In other words, the people of Donbass are supposedly being systematically wiped out, and Russia is definitely not doing anything about that. Brilliant!

These are not the kinds of things you want to hear from the guy in charge your country. I realize that some self-righteous types might see me as apologetic toward Putin at times but I have a very good reason for this. I live in this country and I need it to be successful or at least not devolve into an early 90’s, gigantic Bosnia-on-crack nightmare for the next three to four years while I plan my family’s escape. I depend on Putin being rational and level-headed, above the various clowns and nutbags in the Russian government. If not Putin, than the adorable Medvedev. These are the only people in Russian politics who, until very recently, were in touch with reality. An authoritarian leader in an effectively one-party state can actually make positive changes and eventually that state can thereafter evolve into a modern liberal democracy, assuming they are rational and forward-thinking. On the other hand, more often than not the dictator gets paranoid and obsesses over “fifth columns” and internal enemies. Everything that could be used to actually combat opposition by improving living standards and opportunities is sacrificed for the sake of remaining in power, and in the end it just doesn’t work. We’ve seen this plenty of times. The Shah of Iran, Mobutu, Yanukovych.

Leaders that live in the real world have a different manner of speaking. They talk about concrete improvements and accomplishments which can be verified statistically or by simple observation. Irrational and unsuccessful leaders talk about regaining historical glory, being surrounded by enemies, and the need to be powerful again. Does the Norwegian government talk about making another bid for the crown of England, avenging the death of Harald Hardrada in his failed attempt? Do the Dutch talk about the need to rebuild their lost mercantile empire? Do British leaders talk about solving their austerity problems by reconquering lost imperial possessions and threatening Scotland with utter destruction should it choose to leave the United Kingdom? Does any American politician say that all our woes could be solved if we just recovered the Philippines? Even George W. Bush had to characterize the invasion of Iraq as a defensive action against a mortal and imminent threat, and everyone remembers how the administration and its supporters swore up and down it had nothing to do with oil.  The idea of an American politician talking publicly about seizing a country to get more oil, as though global politics is basically a game of Starcraft, is something for the realm of satire.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, please come back to us in the real world. Things look bad now and you probably harbor a lot of justified resentment from the way Western leaders treated you in the past. But someone’s got to run this country in the real world, not the fantasy Russian empire that exists only in the minds of some of your intelligentsia. You are ill-advised, my friend. These sycophants are not helping you, and their fairy tales will wreck this country. Step back from the edge, please.



A Glance at a Western Russophile

Explaining the phenomenon of the Western Russophile, more accurately described as a Team Russia fanatic, is a long and complicated process.  While these individuals often sound the same, almost word-for-word, their motives are not always identical.  There also tends to be a divide between Team Russia fans who live in Russia, those who have only visited, and those who have never set foot in the country.  Yes, that’s right, many Team Russia fanatics have never even been to Russia.  There tends to be a rule-of-thumb which states that the less experience one actually has in Russia, the less likely they are to join Team Russia.  If they are actually living here and spouting Team Russia’s bullshit then they either have nice cushy position or they are just plain delusional.  Anyway, I’d like to share this comment I found, completely at random, which illustrates the typical Team Russia cheerleader mentality.  It was on a Moscow Times story about the Kremlin.

“What the h#ck…!?!?!?! Have you been to the Kremlin…? It is the most Magical, Inspirational, Holy, Reverent, Mysterious, Beautiful, Wonderful, Historical place on Earth I have ever been. It’s about how Russia got to where they are today. Historically, America has nothing on Russia…”

Now first off, let me get some preliminaries out of the way. If you haven’t visited the Kremlin yet, don’t start booking your tickets after reading that individual’s description.  Sure it’s impressive and it’s a must see for your first trip to Moscow, but this gentleman went far overboard. Let me also say that I was myself a Team Russia fanatic for several years after first visiting the country as a teenager.  Those days ended before I even relocated to Russia, when I was 23.  Russia was my first real trip outside the country and my first trip to the “Old World”, so I too was impressed to see churches in the Kremlin which were built centuries before Columbus sailed across the Atlantic.  But even as an ultra-passionate Russophile I never took it that far.  And that’s just it; most of my Team Russia phase took place in my late teens. Two years after I reached the legal drinking age, when I actually moved to Russia to live and not merely to visit, my Team Russia phase ended with a crash.  I think I could understand a young person who falls in love with a country from a short visit, perhaps all the way to the age of 25. But when you have someone in their 30’s or even worse, middle-aged just slobbering over anything remotely Russian it’s really time to stop and take a personal inventory.  

It’s wholly understandable that young people, even in their early twenties, may feel alienated and upset about their own country and culture.  Some of their complaints may not be justified, but sometimes they are.  People from all around the world feel this way about their own countries. There is after all the saying, “familiarity breeds contempt.”  On the other hand, if you hit your thirties and you’re still angsty, bitter, and alienated at your own country and society, perhaps the problem is you.  If you really think your outrage at your own society is justified, you really ought to be taking a stand and doing something about it rather than running away to Team Russia, whether figuratively or literally, and trying to live vicariously through another people you most likely don’t understand.  It’s also worth noting that most of these types, if they do move to Russia, only find friends among hardcore nationalists who are only too happy to have an American who constantly complains about America around.  That’s all you’re good for to them.  Ordinary Russians just don’t seem to be too interested in listening to foreigners talk about Russia all the time, and dictate what their national identity should encompass. 

And that’s just the thing; American and other foreign-born Team Russia fans deny Russians the very right that they claim for themselves.  They claim to be fed up and tired of their own country’s culture, but many of them actually claim they are still true patriots of some sort.  Yet the Russian who takes an interest in foreign cultures and dreams of living abroad is, according to these types, a traitor who is full of self-hatred. Most Russian people don’t like a foreigner dictating these terms to them. 

Another thing one notices about the Team Russia fanatic is the constant groveling and sycophantic slobbering.  Any news story which concerns a social problem in Russia is met with a wave of comments to the effect of “HEY THIS HAPPENS IN AMERICA TOO!”  Most people aren’t stupid enough to suggest that the problem in the US is actually worse than it is in Russia, but apparently the fact that both Russia and the US have homeless people is supposed to negate the Russian problem entirely.  It’s still a point against America, of course.  This is because Team Russia fanatics have assimilated a definition of “patriotism” which is quite popular in Russia, especially supporters of the regime.  Ignoring all the criticisms I have about “loving one’s country,” there are different forms of patriotism and some are better than others.  The best is when people look at their nation, see all kinds of problems, and then set about to better their nation by dedicating their lives to solving those problems.  If you look at other nations and see they are ahead of you in one way or another, you examine your own society to identify and solve its issues, and often in the process you critically analyze traditions and cultural norms with the realization that some of them are actually holding the nation back.  This is what the Bolsheviks did, and modern Russia was truly build on a socialist foundation.  Ataturk did this with the Turkish Republic.  The Meiji restoration and the rebuilding of Japan after WWII were other examples of this phenomenon. 

Russian patriotism, or more accurately Team Russia patriotism, is something quite different.  Here you simply deny problems, or act like they are negated if the same problem exists anywhere else, particularly the United States.  American Team Russia fanatics will sometimes go so far as to claim that Russia is better to live in than the States, but this is clearly ridiculous.  There are advantages to living in Russia but nearly none of them have anything to do with Russia itself or the culture.  More importantly, we could come up with all kinds of criticisms of the United States, but then we also have to account for countries like Sweden, Austria, Norway, Denmark, etc. which have standards of living which are considerably better than the United States and far above those in Russia. The irony is that as they grovel for approval which only comes from a rather small sub-set of Russians, American Team Russia fans are once again doing exactly what they condemn when Russians do it.  That is to say that if they speak about a real, genuine problem in the United States, they will attack any Russian who speaks about real problems in Russia as a liberal traitor or someone with a self-hatred problem.  Remember, Russians, you are to are only allowed to build your identity according to the decrees of the Church, small obscure political organizations with ties to the Kremlin, and of course, American expats or even those who have never visited Russia. They get to dictate your culture to you.  

I cannot repeat this enough; I hate the groveling.  If you don’t like the way things are going in America then take a fucking stand and change things instead of running away to Russia and becoming someone’s dancing American monkey.  There are good reasons to live in Russia and living in Russia doesn’t require you to take an oath of allegiance to Vladimir Putin.  In fact not doing so means you’ll find more friends among Russians of all political stripes. 

One more thing, American Team Russia fans, stop making it seem like everything in Russia is so wonderful and magical.  Yeah I did that myself once, because I was fucking sixteen.  What’s your excuse now?