Tag Archives: updates

Updates

Things have been a bit quiet here since I’ve been working on several other projects- Article pitches, videos, a podcast, fundraising, etc.  I did manage to find a couple interesting articles though.

The first is about how the Kremlin started to reach into social media. In addition to being generally informative, it also really struck a chord with me:

“When I visit the United States, I’m often asked how bad is it to live in Putin’s Russia. Knowing that I work at an independent television channel (www.tvrain.ru), the people asking me this question probably expect horror stories about the daily nightmare I endure under the pressure of a totalitarian regime.

Responding can be awkward, because I have to disappoint such expectations, as I’m not able to portray my life in Russia in such simplistic, black-and-white terms.

Many aspects of living in Russia are strangely difficult to explain to someone who’s never experienced life here. There is a huge gap—a canyon of hypocrisy—between what’s official and what’s real, and you’re supposed to know what you can’t say aloud. (Andrey Zvyagintsev’s film “Leviathan” is largely about this phenomenon.)

For instance, you can’t say Russia has no independent media; I work at an independent TV station, after all. But the Devil is in the details, and, in this case, we’re hopelessly outgunned. What’s happened in Russia would be like Fox News taking over the airways in the US, booting MSNBC from cable TV, and reducing liberals to broadcasting online from a small private apartment in Brooklyn.

This farce is the same with elections (where competition is fake), the courts (where justice is a lie), and mass demonstrations (where participation is obligatory).”

Indeed, indeed.  The second one is even more interesting to me, if only because it comes from one of the Kremlin’s paid internet trolls and gives us a fascinating glimpse about what goes on behind the scenes at a troll-farm. I found this passage especially telling:

The workers are divided into three categories, says the former worker:

1) “They pay me and I could care less, I don’t even know what goes on,” many of these people have families, loans to pay, etc.
2) “Yes, I know this is a pro-Kremlin troll factory but the hell with the mental anguish — they pay me and that’s enough;
3) “I am waging an information war against the fascist junta!” — the last category is fewest in number.

Note that actual believers are the minority. No surprise there. Whereas the English-speaking comment trolls attack American and Western foreign policy, Russian-speaking trolls mostly attack Russians who complain about conditions in Russia. This leads to a sad irony, because the people attacking their fellow citizens on the internet realize that their government would much rather pay people like them a rather unimpressive salary than just take that same amount of money and spend it on fixing the problems people are complaining about. As I’ve said before, the government actually has an incentive to keep Russia backward and less prosperous, if only because it means there’s a huge pool of students, pensioners, and other people in dire straits who will be willing to do anything for relatively small amounts of money or gifts. It’s the foundation of the system.

Advertisements

Updates

Some of you readers have probably noticed a lack of on-topic posts lately. I haven’t seen much remarkable news lately, but more importantly I’ve been busy with work, the gym, eating to sustain those gains, and now martial arts. Luckily we’ve got a bullshit made-up holiday coming up next week and I plan to use that time to create a lot of content for the blog and the Russian Tuesday podcast. So just keep in mind that the lack of updates is in no way due to laziness. I’m either making money or training myself to be better able to choke people out and take their wallets, which is also a money-making enterprise of sorts.

In the meantime, I recommend reading Natalia Antonova’s article regarding the recent Ukrainian parliamentary elections. There has been some good news, namely that parties like the far right-wing Svoboda failed to gain any seats. This actually constitutes a loss for them, as previously they had seats. It’s also refreshing any time you see someone actually acknowledge Svoboda, instead of pretending that the Ukrainian far-right is solely represented by the more marginal Praviy Sektor. For the moment though, it seems Svoboda has been checkmated in parliamentary politics.

As I have remarked before, however, there is a sort of national myth which still prevails in Ukraine, and it provides ample soil in which radical nationalists grow. Of course it doesn’t help when corrupt, chauvinistic Russia deliberately associates itself with symbols of the Soviet Union, the victory over fascism, and socialism. Long ago I wished that the Russian government would simply cast away that mask and openly acknowledge its love of Tsarism, authoritarianism, and reactionary politics, but sadly they still make use of Soviet symbols and history, twisting their meaning and sullying them in the eyes of people living in the shadow of the Russian Federation.  Hopefully Ukraine will start to see the flaws in this national myth, discard it, and with it stop tolerating backward nationalists who live in an early 20th century fantasy land. Ukraine is torn between two capitalist powers. Only socialism or at least a very progressive social democratic system can improve the lives of Ukrainians.  Ukrainian success is also crucial to regaining its lost territories.

As for me, it is very difficult to come out in support of the blue and gold. I want to, but I simply cannot lend my unqualified support to a country which arms nationalist thugs and promotes a radical anti-Communist, anti-socialist right wing myth in place of a national history. If it’s wrong when Russia does it, it’s wrong when Ukraine does it too. Obviously as Ukrainian society seems to be turning on those elements, the football hooligans, the Bandera lovers, and the falsifiers of history who insist that only Ukrainians should be allowed to interpret Ukrainian history, my views change as well, but I’m still waiting to hear a more definitive “fuck you, nationalist scum” from Ukrainian society. Till that happens, my support for Ukraine is merely support for international law against aggression and illegal annexation. Incidentally, things which until recently Vladimir Putin used to condemn.

Updates

First of all, the second episode of the Russian Tuesday podcast is pretty much in the can and will be ready in a few days. Like the first episode, it will be hosted on Youtube, however I will also upload the first two MP3 files to a podcast hosting site for easy downloading.

Secondly, there’s this article about Putin’s response to sanctions from Reuters. Surprise, surprise! Putin says the sanctions aren’t a problem and that they won’t stop Russia’s development. Apparently nobody told him what development means, because that was pretty much stopped even before the sanctions were passed. Development in the modern world means economic growth. Russia’s growth rate for this year was predicted by the finance ministry to be barely above zero, if not zero. Again that’s before sanctions and all this Crimea/Ukraine bullshit. But of course being a representative of the post-Soviet Russian mentality, Putin just says the exact opposite so as to “win.”

This, however, is not the main reason why I chose to highlight this article, however. The real reason is that in the article, Putin once again talks about economic development as Russia’s goal, and he also talks about Russia being “open” and integrated into the world economy. In other words, he’s talking about globalization as a positive thing. The funny thing is that in general, he is right. In a capitalist world, countries succeed by staking out a place in the global economy and becoming competitive. Russia’s success a few years back, indeed a real accomplishment Putin could have pointed to, was all based on Russia appearing as a good market for investment. Had the government done more to reduce corruption and function according to some set of rules, Russia no doubt would have continued to be the R in BRICS, which ought to be changed to BICS given Russia’s flight of capital and near-zero growth.

Of course all this time when Medvedev and Putin put on big exhibitions and conventions for foreign investors in a bid to attract foreign capital, they were paying pseudo-intellectual dipshits to fill the heads of young and old alike with this bullshit idea that Russia is or must withstand globalization. Well, not all of Russia. The elite to this day lives surrounded by all manner of Western or foreign luxury, when they aren’t vacationing, studying, or just plain living in the West. No, it’s the ordinary people who must learn to make do with Russian goods, or if Russia doesn’t manufacture a particular good, go without entirely. In any case, this is why you hear so many ignorant Russians laughing at the sanctions and saying that they don’t matter. Master has told them that Russia can produce all of these things. Russia is resisting globalization! Oh those poor, poor people. If they only knew what is coming. The Soviet Union had a far stronger foundation to resist capitalism even in its ideologically-degenerated state in the 70’s and 80’s. Russia has nothing like this.  It is capitalist to the core.

The important point you must take home from this story, however, is that whenever you hear some Russophile like Tim Kirby or Mark Sleboda droning on about Russia standing up to globalization and consumerism, think about stories like this and remember that these guys are full of shit. Russia says one thing to wealthy investors around the world, and pays people to say the opposite to the masses. Putin insists that privatization will continue, while paid hacks tell us that Russia resists neo-liberalism. Russia’s elite, from businessmen to politicians and clergy, adorn themselves with insanely expensive watches, clothes, and foreign luxury cars while they tell the ordinary people that Russia has different values, spiritual values. Nobody in Russia is actually fooled by this nonsense. They’ve just been led to believe, via various means, that they must pretend to see the Tsar’s lovely new clothes.

Updates

Be advised that there probably won’t be any major updates for the next few days. While I’ve certainly got a ton of ideas, I don’t have much free time at the moment. The good news is one thing that will be occupying my time in the near future is the next episode of the podcast.

Anyway, I wanted to share this article from Cracked.com with the audience. There are many Americans who need to be forced at gunpoint to read this out loud, and then they should have to answer a set of reading comprehension questions on the topic.