Tag Archives: opposition

No Alternative – Khodorkovsky 10 years later

For years I took flak over my unrelenting position on Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his ridiculous martyr cult. At one point I was banned from a Khodorkovsky support page simply for asking the page’s admins to explain how Khodorkovsky originally made his fortune. The responses I got from them fit nicely with those I got from everyone else. “Sure he was an oligarch,” they’d say, “But everyone was doing what he did in the 90’s!” Actually, “everyone” was not doing the same thing Khodorkovsky did. Most people were trying to survive, and if everyone had been doing what he did, everyone would be as wrong as he was. “He wanted to transform Russia with transparency and rule of law,” they’d say. I “wanted” to join the French Foreign Legion and design video games. Do I deserve a white kepi and a position at Electronic Arts in spite of the fact that I didn’t actually realize either of those youthful ambitions? No? Then I don’t give a damn what Khodorkovsky supposedly “wanted to do.” “You sound like a Kremlin supporter,” some of them would say. The day that people are forced to concede that Russia’s only choices are Putin and Khodorkovsky is the day that we must all acknowledge the country is irreparably doomed. I’m not convinced that day has come.

Those were dark days indeed, when someone like me would be lumped in with the Putin fan club just because I refused to slavishly admire self-manufactured saviors whose sole claim to moral superiority is their professed opposition to Putin and their suffering at the hands of his regime. Surely Russian prisons are full of individuals who curse Putin’s name; I doubt any of them would make good leadership material. To their credit, however, many of those people probably did far less damage to Russian society than Khodorkovsky ever did. In case I haven’t driven the point home hard enough, I am quite confident that if you threw Vladimir Putin into a small room with a rabid male platypus shot up with methamphetamine, that rare freak of nature would probably show itself to be quite opposed to Putin. Notwithstanding this, I would not support its candidacy to lead Russia or any other country for that matter.

After all these years I feel somewhat vindicated by Julia Ioffe’s recent New Yorker piece all about Khodorkovsky, who was famously released from prison in December of 2013. Ioffe points out how Russia’s liberals and opposition tended to hold their tongue about Khodorkovsky while he was in prison, but now that he’s out they feel more relaxed about criticizing him. Perhaps many of them simply got submerged in his PR and forgot how he acquired his position in the first place. Perhaps now that they have begun actually dealing with him face to face or at least directly without Kremlin interference, they are starting to realize who he actually was before he went to prison. Garbage in, garbage out.

One thing I must praise about Ioffe’s work is that she doesn’t cover for Khodorkovsky in the slightest. Doing what other Russian opposition-supporters used to refuse to do, she carefully details the history of how Khodorkovsky amassed his fortune via fraud and connections in the state, along with his personal philosophy that gleefully put profits ahead of people. It was a worldview that characterized 90’s Russia. While millions suffered, a tiny minority partied. Ioffe’s retelling of this all but forgotten story is concise, clear, and incredibly useful to me ever since I gave away my copy of Marshall I. Goldman’s The Piratization of Russia. My edition was published prior to Khodorkovsky’s arrest in 2003, before he had become such a cause célèbre among Russian liberals and their like-minded supporters abroad. Thus the book contained an interesting passage about Khodorkovsky’s then recently-started PR campaign for transparency and better business practices, noting that it remained to be seen whether he would actually back his words with action. My guess is that if Khodorkovsky somehow achieved power in Russia, something he apparently still openly desires, he would not.

The crowning achievement of Ioffe’s article is that it provides the strongest case against Khodorkovsky as an acceptable alternative to Putin using the ex-oligarch’s own words. What I got from reading about the man, his behavior, and his ideas tells me that not only is he wholly unqualified to lead Russia or any other country, but that there is no reason to believe that he wouldn’t either become another Putin, or at least create the sort of conditions which would open the door to another Putin-like figure in the future. At his core, Khodorkovsky embodies the same toxic mentality of post-Soviet Russia. He is narcissistic almost to the point of psychopathy. While seeking the highest power in Russia, he clearly feels no responsibility or accountability to the Russian people by his own open admission. He clearly does not understand the concepts of democracy, nor does he understand the system of government in the Western countries he so admires. His understanding of the world doesn’t seem to be that much more rational than that of Vladimir Putin, and the way he runs his projects suggests that he can be just as dictatorial.

Clearly the strongest indictment against Khodorkovsky, the one which so eloquently demonstrates his lack of understanding and his potential to become another Putin, can be found in this passage:

“He recalled with fondness an old acquaintance, the unfortunate Kenneth Lay, the late C.E.O. of Enron, who was, in Khodorkovsky’s estimation, a thumbs-up kind of guy. The whistle-blowers in that case outraged him: why did people glorify cowardly spies and traitors, and put them on magazine covers?”

Note the utter lack of irony from a man who asserts that he was innocent of any crime, and who was accused of being a traitor to Russia by the government. This is also a man who is supposed to be a “liberal,” who was for years a figure of admiration for Russia’s “liberals,” and yet he has nothing but kind words for a man whom American liberals rightly scorned.There is a far deeper meaning in this sentence, however.

One paradox of Russia is that supporters of the Kremlin and Russia’s “liberals” both see people like Edward Snowden as traitors to their country. Even the enthusiastically pro-Russian Americans, Canadians, Britons, and other Westerners are traitors in the eyes of both Russian sides. In the eyes of the Kremlin supporters and their media organs such as RT, these are useful traitors, but traitors nonetheless. The “liberals” also see traitors, largely because their unqualified admiration of the West and their misguided belief that all politics should be reduced to an absurd false dichotomy.

As it stands today, Russians of all walks of life generally cannot understand an Edward Snowden, a Martin Luther King Jr., or a John Brown, and this is a huge problem. There are times when one’s country, or at least its government, is morally wrong. Opposing this often means breaking the law. Of course Russian liberals would claim that they totally understand this, pointing inaccurately to Khodorkovsky. But Khodorkovsky did not deliberately break an unjust law. He got rich off of the absence of rule of law, and went to jail over his riches. It was the liberals who transformed him into a hero simply because he was opposed to Putin. Merely being opposed to Putin does not denote any moral superiority. Rest assured the Kremlin and all Moscow’s halls of power are crawling with all sorts of individuals who are secretly opposed to Putin, and a great deal of them may be far worse than him.

Getting back to the point about traitors, if Putin can openly and publicly indulge paranoid fantasies about “fifth columnists” and “national traitors,” judging by Khodorkovsky’s own words there is a good possibility he might do the same. This is a man who reviles corporate whistleblowers. How might he react to dissent in his hypothetical regime?  Can Khodorkovsky and many of his supporters truly grasp the slogan, “Dissent is patriotic?” I have my doubts, especially as so many of them are all too willing to label any Westerner who speaks out against their own societies’ as pro-Kremlin dupes, even when they haven’t a kind word for Putin or his clique. How can they supposedly aspire to our standards of human rights and free speech if they expect us not to use them?

What about the topic of rationality? Ioffe’s article reveals that Khodorkovsky has a very bizarre belief about homosexuality, not much unlike the clearly anti-scientific beliefs of Russia’s right-wing legislators. Khodorkovsky suggested that it is a natural evolutionary mechanism for controlling population growth. This isn’t too far removed from the apparent beliefs of infamous figures such as Yelena Mizulina, who often claims her “family values” crusading is aimed at fighting Russia’s population decline, even if it means forcing people who have no sexual attraction to each other to have children they don’t want.  I’m not trying to say this means Khodorkovsky is a raging homophobe; he may very well not be. What I am saying, however, is that he is by no means the voice of reason Russia sorely needs. That the topic which demonstrates this fact happens to be LGBT issues is peripheral.

Of course some of the most disturbing traits which cast doubt on Khodorkovsky’s qualifications to lead Russia are his lack of basic understanding of American government and the fact that he does not speak or read any language fluently other than Russian. When I point out how many of Russia’s pro-Kremlin “geopolitical experts” and “America experts” can’t speak English, it is a source of amusement. These are people whose entire life revolves around hating America and to a lesser extent, the English language. Khodorkovsky and his followers, however, have near uncritical admiration for the US. The US is often presented as an epitome of what Russia could be, and what it should be. Suffice to say it is very important that these people know what they are talking about. Learning that Khodorkovsky doesn’t is pretty damning for him. Sure, many ordinary Russian liberals don’t get the West either, but they don’t have his influence. Khodorkovsky has the money and drive to cause some serious problems.

Khodorkovsky’s unqualified admiration for the West, rooted in ignorance, is part of a larger problem with Russia’s “liberal opposition” going back to the 90’s, if not the late Soviet era with its “dissidents.” These were not sincere advocates of human rights, democracy, and rule of law, but rather they were a cargo cult that believed shouting these phrases repeatedly would some how make the concepts materialize. I’ve said before how confusing it can be for some foreigners hear how Russian government supporters will openly scoff at the words “freedom” and “democracy,” and I have to remind them that this is due to an association of these terms with the breakdown of society in the 90’s. Everybody associated with that disaster seemed to have those terms on their tongue at the same time. ‘Cum hoc ergo propter hoc’ this belief may be, but it is at least understandable. The sad thing is that so many years later, a leading figure of Russia’s liberals still doesn’t seem to get it.

Russia’s early “democrats” or “liberals” never looked at the West critically. They saw only the good, that much is true, but it often seems they never understood how that good came to be.  That’s why “liberal” figures can’t understand why Americans would protest against their government or its foreign policy. “Our government is so much worse! Look at all the stuff you have!” Indeed, the American government is morally and structurally superior to that of Russia, but it is far from perfect and it took decades of struggle just to get it there. If Russia ever throws off the yoke of its own system and adopts a functioning form of liberal democracy, there will still be massive issues which must be tackled. What exactly did all those advocates of “civil society” expect civil society to do once they unchained it?  Russia’s “liberals” then, as it seems they do now, saw the West’s freedom and prosperity as something they could “get,” not something which had to be earned and relentlessly guarded. This is what they offered in the 90’s, and they failed to deliver. Eventually, a man came along and offered them something else, “stability.” That, of course, was Putin.

This is what I mean when I say that Khodorkovsky seems to embody the same bankrupt mentality that has been strangling post-Soviet Russia from the beginning.  Putin promised to give people order and most of all, “stability.” Nobody had to actually do anything other than give up their choice and rights. Now Khodorkovsky comes along offering “democracy” again, and all the Russian people will have to do is give him the same deference they gave Putin. Nobody has to struggle for anything, nobody has to work to actually make rule of law or democracy a reality. All you need is a cult of one man and a belief that he will hand you everything you want.

The other indicator that Khodorkovsky is cut from the same cotton-padded material as Putin is his utter lack of accountability for his past actions. He feels absolutely no responsibility to the people of Russia. Now Russian citizens are supposed to grant this man power over them? What is to stop him from becoming another Putin? What is to stop him from musing about Pushkin and bears eating berries in the forest at a press conference fifteen years after he somehow gains power in Russia? I think what a lot of people fail to see when Putin rambles on about his fantastical view of the world is that he’s sees things that way because he’s insulated and isolated from reality. He has never truly been held accountable for his actions in power and he’s never really had to face their consequences. He feels no responsibility to Russia’s citizenry whatsoever, and his utter lack of a coherent plan in the face of the looming economic meltdown is proof of that. Now here we have Mikhail Khodorkovsky in this interview, demonstrating quite clearly that he has the same psychopathic lack of accountability for his actions. It wouldn’t be long before such a man sitting in Putin’s chair might begin to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor.

I often tell leftists in the US that Russia is no alternative to the society we have there. Likewise Khodorkovsky is no alternative to Putin. What is more, he seems bent on financing and directing a revolution from abroad, one which will clearly do little more than get a lot of otherwise well-meaning people harassed, jailed, or worse. Of course Khodorkovsky won’t feel pity for them. He owes apologies to no one, even those who go to prison naively supporting his cause. For that reason alone his cause should fail. I only hope it does not drag too many of Russia’s last independent-minded people down with it.

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Get some Democracy

Let me be blunt. Russians, on the whole, don’t understand democracy. I’m not being unfair to Russians; most ordinary people around the world don’t understand it. American political scientists don’t fully understand it. The problem in Russia however is that nobody has a clue what it means, including the so-called “liberals” who advocate it.

Most Westerners are sick of hearing people use the word democracy without qualifying it or putting it in concrete terms. In Russia however, democracy is talked about as though it were some sort of product. Liberals and oppositionists think Russia should definitely get democracy, AKA the thing Europe and America have.  Supporters of the status quo remember how “democrats” appeared in the late 80’s and 90’s and then really horrible things happened throughout the former Soviet Union, ergo these things must certainly be linked. To them, “democracy” equates to chaos. In any case, neither side actually understands democracy.

Functioning liberal democracy does not remove problems like poverty or corruption. All it does is open the way to finding solutions to those problems. The ability to hold politicians and leaders accountable, to whatever small extent, has a profound impact on society. Even the more radical form of democracy I personally advocate does not make problems disappear; I simply believe that it would grant the majority of people far more ability to find solutions to their problems than even the most progressive capitalist democracies currently in existence.  Russian oppositionists who want to be taken seriously and accepted by their fellow citizens need to learn this point very quickly. Nowadays it’s common for some regime supporter to find a story about some injustice in Europe or the US and say, “Look! There’s your democracy! Do you still think it’s better in America?”  Most of the time these injustices, when they are real, have nothing to do with democracy of lack thereof. The existence of homeless people in America doesn’t mean democracy doesn’t exist or function. It just means there is a limit to what liberal democracy can accomplish. As hard as it seems these days, America’s limited, but otherwise functioning democratic system means that people can organize to do something about homelessness, at least on a local level, and they won’t have to overthrow the government to do it.

These days it is common to hear people complain about the role of money in politics. Indeed, this is a serious issue and we should at no time ignore it. At the same time, we’d do well to remember that in the late 19th century and in some cases into the 20th, the American and British political systems were far more corrupt. America had its political “machines” like Tammany Hall, and in Britain seats in parliament could be bought literally as opposed to figuratively like in modern times. As Americans are choices are extremely limited, but we know politicians actually care about our concerns to some extent if only because they spend so much money on campaigning, polling, and other activities aimed at attracting voters. The very fact that they need to raise so much money and so carefully tailor their campaign, coupled with the constant fear of making a fatal “gaffe” on the campaign trail, demonstrates that on some level there is a measure of accountability.

I realize that might not console many Americans these days, but in Russia little details make a huge difference. Putin does not have to worry about polls or campaign funds. His opponents can be jailed if not intimidated and threatened. Wheres we can predict exactly when and how Barack Obama will leave office in 2017, we have no idea when Putin will leave power and under what conditions. Most likely he has indeed ensured that nobody can replace him, which means the country will face a dire crisis when he does inevitably leave no matter the manner in which he does so.  George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq was one of the most egregious examples of horrible American foreign policies in recent history, yet this invasion was preceded by months of deliberation and discussion. As bad as things got, Americans threw the Republicans out of congress in 2006 and out of the White House in 2008. Imagine if Bush could give himself a third term!

By contrast Putin’s annexation of the Crimea and poorly veiled proxy war in the Donbass were both conducted without any warning and on a whim. Opponents of this policy have faced intimidation, and even politicians and individuals investigating the mysterious deaths of Russian soldiers have been labeled “foreign agents,” arrested, and in the case of the former, assaulted by unknown attackers.  The Russian government made it a criminal offense for Russian citizens to publish anything advocating those same things which the pro-Russian citizens of the Crimea and Donbass demanded- greater federalization or autonomy. There is no party that Russians can vote for to reverse these policies; many of these measures had near unanimous support save for one member of parliament who is now under threat of arrest or possibly worse due to following his conscience.

Getting back to the point, Russians don’t need “democracy” so much as they need concrete concepts like rule of law and separation of powers. Democracy is far too abstract and the situation in Russia demands concrete solutions.  The phony democracy Russia has today, once called ‘sovereign democracy’ by Putin, only proves that anyone can ape the typical liberal democratic system by having multiple parties and elections. Hell, on paper Russia’s electoral politics may appear more democratic and progressive than those of the United States. What Russia doesn’t have is a strong constitution, impartial, independent courts, consistent application of the law, limitations on executive power, and so on.

The beauty of such concrete concepts in contrast to the more ambiguous and problematic term “democracy” is that these things can be quantified. Separation and limitations on power can be readily observed. Just look at Obama’s near-constant struggle against the Republicans in congress. Even before they managed to gain their current majority they were still able to force a shutdown of the federal government. Obama’s proposed “public option” for healthcare reform was jettisoned due to Republican opposition. The last time we saw that kind of opposition to a Russian president was in 1993, and the spat was decided with tanks and bullets.  The fact that Democrats and Republicans both serve the same class in America doesn’t change the fact that this opposition exists, and as bad as it is now, imagine what would happen if the US had a president for life who never had to worry about any opposition from congress.

Independent courts and rule of law can be measured as well. When people are consistently prosecuted for violating the law, as opposed to just opponents and critics of the regime, you have some measure of rule of law. Another side of that coin is that it should be physically possible to live within the bounds of the law. In Russia not only small business owners but even individual workers are forced to skirt the law just to get by. This means everyone has some dirt on them and thus they can be smacked down should they become a problem. In countries where rule of law functions, following the law is actually economically viable and achievable for most people.

Accountability can be measured as well. State-owned industries can be made transparent, and it is possible to verify if someone is siphoning state funds into their personal accounts. HINT: Look for state employees with massive houses, yachts, etc. If state funds are earmarked for schools, roads, hospitals, etc., we can actually get in a car and see if these things are being built.  If they are not, the money can be tracked down and somebody can be put in prison for a long time. There is absolutely no reason why state owned enterprises must inevitably lead to corruption. That is certainly not the case in Norway, a country which Russia could easily imitate, or at least could have imitated, based on its wealth in natural resources.

In conclusion, as long as Russian oppositionists speak about “democracy” without fully understanding it or without being able to articulate concrete solutions to Russia’s political problems, they will remain unpopular and ineffective. Just as Russia’s jingoistic “geopolitical experts” love pontificating on America without having spent any time there and in some cases without even being able to speak English, Russia’s “democrats” rarely display a firm grasp of the concepts they supposedly support. In this way, they present “democracy” as a mirror image of the Putin supporters’ revived Russian empire. This is to say that the abstract idea is offered up as a sort of panacea which, when somehow achieved, will solve Russia’s problems. Russia doesn’t need abstract ideas but concrete ones. These concrete ideas form the foundations of a functioning democracy. Without that foundation, any attempt to transform Russia into a functioning democracy will most likely fail as they did in the 1990’s.

Those guys

Remember those guys everyone was talking about back in 2011-2012? You know, they were all over the news! Who were they again? Oh that’s right! The Russian opposition. The white ribbon folks. Whatever happened to them?

Seriously I have to be honest here and say that despite attending the first Bolotnaya rally and the big gathering on Prospekt Sakharova which followed shortly thereafter, I never really followed the nebulous opposition movement very closely. I was familiar with the big names and some of the organizations, but I had little faith in it.  I think that the past two years have vindicated me, as I think it’s fair to say that a major reason for the silence of the opposition is that a large portion of their supporters went back to Putin’s side.

Of course that shouldn’t be a surprise since many of them were nationalists or pseudo-Communists whose main beef with Putin was that he wasn’t nationalistic enough. When the president began all his anti-American posturing and the Western media as well as American politicians stupidly played along, these people simply couldn’t resist. The idea of Russia pissing off the West is like heroin to these people. Heroin that causes one to start furiously masturbating immediately upon shooting up.

Of course the dreams and desires of that faction of the opposition might have been totally disconnected from reality, but for the rest of the opposition there was incoherence. Navalny is often put forth as a leader of the “liberal” opposition when in fact he is an open nationalist. His claim to fame is exposing corruption, but on the rare occasions that he puts forth his solutions they are nothing but unrealistic, populist crap. Boris Nemtsov can’t seem to get it through his head that Russian people are never going to be nostalgic for the era of Yeltsin. Yeltsin’s regime was not conducive to building a democracy either; the whole crushing protests with tanks and snipers bit should have been a dead give away.  And Pussy Riot? Please. Name a major political change for the better that came from shitty performance art.

When I’m critical of the Russian government, opposition-minded people perk up their ears the same way “patriots” are all too happy to listen to me condemn the American or Ukrainian government. But the fact is that the “opposition” is largely part of the problem. Some of them lack the principle, resolve, and attention span not to be distracted by jingoistic flag-waving, while others simply do not understand the values they claim to represent. In nearly all cases alliance politics rears its ugly head, e.g. “The state-run media is saying there are fascists involved in Maidan? Well then it must be a total lie! We must uncritically support Maidan now!” It’s as if there are no real politics in Russia, only what I refer to as cargo cults.

If the reader isn’t familiar with cargo cults let me run it down for you. The phenomenon involves small tribes of people inhabiting very small Pacific islands. During WWII, these islands were used by the Japanese and more often Americans, who would turn them into supply bases and airstrips. These natives, not having had outside human contact for generations, were awed by the strangely-dressed newcomers. As if that weren’t enough, imagine what it must have been like for them to see massive ships approaching their shore. The newcomers would start constructing some kind of metal mat on the land they had cleared, and sure enough these massive flying beasts would land and disgorge more newcomers and crates full of exotic food. The term cargo cult derives from how long after the war it was found that many of these tribes were discovered to be mimicking the behavior of either American or Imperial Japanese military personnel, adopting drill and ceremony practices as sacred rituals and building mock-ups of airplanes out of wood. They had come to believe that those strange men who appeared in the 40’s had great patron gods who bestowed unimaginable riches on them in return for their bizarre rituals.

This is what I see when I look at many Russian political movements, but especially the “liberals.” They don’t really understand the concepts they espouse. They only believe that the Kremlin is opposed to them for some reason and therefore they must be doing something right. They rattle off words like human rights and civil society without understanding these things as part of a coherent ideology. That’s how you end up with people like Navalny attending nationalist rallies full of football hooligans or the late “liberal” dissident Novodvorskaya, who praised Apartheid and the bombing of Iraq. In Western nations these people would find themselves excommunicated from liberal or progressive movements because they espouse beliefs or exhibit behaviors which directly contradict the basic values of those movements. In Russia it’s totally cool because you’re for democracy and civil society, or something. There’s no inconsistency in demanding freedom for Pussy Riot while you simultaneously demand that the police round up and deport all immigrants from Moscow.

To be fair, many people in Western democracies are politically illiterate. Occupy really demonstrated this, since you could see how many protesters with supposedly socialist leanings were duped into alliances with the libertarian “End the Fed” crowd. But there are some distinct lines in our political arena. You don’t see liberals cozying up with people who think the Bible should be taught in biology class instead of evolution, and you don’t see Tea Partiers whose grievance with Obamacare is that it’s not single payer.  Yes there’s hypocrisy, yes people sometimes cross a red line or two, but there are at least more or less distinct camps, and that means there is at least some form of opposition in American politics, to use one example.

I don’t think the Russian opposition realizes this. It’s as if they, like the Ukrainian Maidan supporters, need to be sat down in a chair while someone carefully explains to them why it’s bad for a movement supposedly concerned about freedom and human rights to associate itself with neo-Nazis or radical nationalists.  No, they want to go toe-to-toe with the Kremlin in a motley alliance of creative hipsters and nationalists who dream of restoring the Russian empire. They can’t see why this won’t work, and it won’t work because they are just assuming that the most important core belief they can have is hostility toward Putin.  While they share that one feature, their motivations, goals, and visions of a better Russia differ widely. Putin himself proved that by showing what a large chunk of the opposition could be hacked off and brought to his side with some patriotic posturing.

The focus on Putin as the root of all evil in Russia is counter-productive as well. Putin is a symptom, not the disease. Although with each passing day I lose more and more faith in his connection to reality, he is the only person who can lay the foundation of a future, functioning democracy. When the so-called liberal opposition manages to pull its head out of its own ass and actually learn what liberal values actually are, they should strive to open up a dialog with Putin and encourage him to help build an actual democratic society, by bourgeois standards at least. He might not realize it now, but Putin has a big incentive to work with such a movement for that goal. That’s what will allow him to retire in peace without fear rather than leave Russia in the manner of Yanukovych. Rest assured that he will not be able to maintain this farce for the nationalist, militant forces he has stirred up in recent years, and those folks aren’t going to be so compassionate or principled as to follow the rule of law. But again, this requires the opposition to accept the reality of Putin and work with him since there is no way they can work against him.

Whatever happens, it’s probably going to be a while before the opposition comes back in any form, but rest assured it will be back, especially due to the Kremlin’s recent shot in the foot, i.e. “counter-sanctions” on imported foodstuffs. Unfortunately I’m afraid that a large part of that opposition is going to consist of more militant, far-right fanatics blaming Putin for betraying their imperial dreams of recreating “Novorossiya.” I certainly hope either an alternative appears real quick, or at least everyone can just try to maintain the status quo long enough so that I can get myself and my family out of here. After that they’re free to wreck the country in the manner they see fit as far as I’m concerned.