Archives for posts with tag: Russia

People may find themselves in three situations.
‘Coasting’, trying to climb back up to their former position or hitting a glass ceiling.

All societies – past, present and future, were, are and will forever be composed of various mixtures of ‘coasters’, ‘back climbers’ and ‘glass ceiling hitters’.

Please note that I’m dealing in self-referentials here. This is about how individual people describe themselves when speaking to themselves.
The coasters enjoy the life they had designed/expected for themselves.
The ‘back-climbers’ attempt to regain the position/status they believe it was rightfully theirs but had been robbed of in circumstances outside their control.
The ‘glass ceiling hitters’ are… busy hitting the famous glass ceiling.

If a society is composed of a ‘healthy’ number of coasters combined with a manageable number of ‘back-climbers’/’glass ceiling hitters’ then the frustration felt by the latter – which tends to tear apart the social fabric, can be compensated by the sheer mass/inertia of the joy experienced by the former. Hence the society can be described as being ‘stable’.

Whenever the ‘back climbers’ or the ‘glass ceiling hitters’ get the upper hand, things start to unravel. Or to fall apart…

To understand what I’m driving at, please consider the pre-revolutionary Russia and the German society after WWI.

Russia was an extremely hierarchical social organism. The birth-place was ‘definitive’. And most of them led to very unpleasant lives. The vast majority of the population, from muzhiks to intelligentsia, could not break through the glass ceilings allocated to each of them, at birth.

The defeated German population had found itself in a very unpleasant situation. After having been told they had been instrumental in preserving order in Europe – as the back bone of the army who had defeated Napoleon Bonaparte and kept in check Napoleon III, they found themselves at the receiving end of history… After their fathers had witnessed the Parisians eating their zoo animals during the 1870 siege, the Germans were reduced to hunting food scraps themselves.

A horse being butchered on a Munich sidewalk in 1918 or 1919.

Hence the difference between communism and nazism. Both equally authoritarian in nature, each of them springs from completely different social circumstances.
Which explains why ‘progressives’ have such a high tolerance for communism…

While the ‘back climbers’ attempt only to reinstate the order they were accustomed to – order which has already been proven dysfunctional by what had happened, the ‘glass ceiling breakers’ are always attempting to open new roads. Very enticing from the ‘progressive’ point of view…

Fact is that both communism and nazism/fascism are artificial.
Figments of frustrated intellectual imagination.
Both ideologies have been put together by thinkers and only followed by ordinary, desperate people.

What’s the connection? Besides the obvious tank, of course…

How about both being extreme alpha males who display a comprehensive disdain towards what the rest of us considers to be common courtesy?

Then how come both of them enjoy the unflagging support of millions of fans?

“James May and Richard Hammond – who have refused to work without him despite the former calling him “a knob” – might be expected to stand up for their co-star and (presumably) friend. But even the Prime Minister has called him “a friend” and “a huge talent”. Meanwhile, a petition to “Bring Back Clarkson” now has more than one million signatures.
Maybe it’s because he (Jeremy Clarkson) represents a particular group in society: financially middling white people who feel under assault from wider issues which they do not understand and who are happy to buy into the scapegoats of immigration, human rights and health and safety. These are the people who are most likely to complain about “PC gone mad”, and in Clarkson they have someone who appears to rail against all of that which constrains them. As one signatory commented: “Jeremy is a bastion of light in a dark PC world.” Of course, it is hard to work out what they aren’t actually allowed to say, given the headlines the Daily Mail gets away with every day, and the police officers who walk free after asking their black colleagues about eating bananas. (Judith Wanga, The Telegraph)

Simetrically:

“I have lost count of how many nations my country has bombed in just the last few years. We bombed Afghanistan and the result is chaos. We bombed Iraq and the result is chaos. We bombed Libya and the result is chaos. We almost bombed Syria, but your President, Vladimir Putin, helped save us from that madness. Our policy seems to be that if we kill enough Muslims the survivors will believe in Jeffersonian democracy and wear bikinis.
I know it is tempting to think that the rulers of my country are evil, but they are not evil. It would be better if they were evil because it would be easier to unmask them and replace them. No, they genuinely believe that they are bringing enlightenment, modernity, freedom, and happiness to the world.
Of course, the United States government is not the same as the American people. There are many Americans, like me, who are dismayed by the arrogance and blindness of our government. Our voices are seldom heard, but we are there. And we support a strong and sovereign Russia that defends its traditions against all attacks. We support a Europe of nations and of regions, each with its own wonderful, irreplaceable traditions.” (Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, speaking before the Russian Conservative Forum, Sankt Petersburg, March 23, 2015)

So how come BBC dropped Clarkson despite Top Gear bringing in some 50 million pounds each year while Putin is still at the helm of the second most powerful nation, from the military point of view at least, in spite of the heavy economic hardships the Russian population has to endure as a result of Putin’s antics?

First of all BBC is a not for profit organization. So money is important but there are limits. “For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations.” (Tony Hall, BBC’s director general, the Independent). Besides that the wider public has sanctioned promptly Clarkson’s previous ‘slips’, preparing the ground for what had just happened.

Meanwhile ‘Russia’ is a country, not a company, so there is no such thing as a ‘wider public’. More over it is operated on a completely different set of principles:
““Even in its current inefficient form, Russia’s economy is sustainable as long as the citizenry is willing to live with hardship and lost opportunity,” Sucher points out. “History suggests that one should not underestimate the capacity of the Russian people to endure the unendurable.”
Russians’ presumed endurance, combined with their capability to put up with hard times and losses, are among the reasons why some experts don’t believe that social protests will happen in the foreseeable future. 
However, the problem appears to be more complicated than it does at first glance. Even though Russians might have stamina to deal with economic hardships, will they trust the authorities in the future?
Trust in the government and the president remains crucial for maintaining a country’s social capital, as Ngaire Woods, dean at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Public Diplomacy, and her counterpart from China’s Tsinghua University, Xue Lan, agreed during the Gaidar Forum. So far, Russian President Vladimir Putin approval ratings are robust. But it remains to be seen if that will be the case in two to three years….
.
After all, some of Russia’s prominent sociologists and historians believe that the Kremlin manipulates the mentality of Russians to legitimize its regime. For example, Lev Gudkov, director of Russia’s Levada Center for public opinion polling, points out that Russians are experiencing a deep inferiority complex and a sort of psychological trauma after the collapse of the Soviet Union, all of which makes them easier to manipulate.” (Pavel Koshkin in Russia Direct, relating about what has been discussed at the Gaidar Economic Forum in January 2015)

So, while Clarkson – no matter how brazen he is as a person or adulated as a TV personality – is not high enough above the rest of the world to be impervious to the effects of his own deeds, Putin stands, at least for the moment, atop a very tall pedestal. So tall, in fact, that I’m afraid he no longer sees clearly what’s going on at the street level.
Only this pedestal is made of the flimsiest of construction materials – popular sentiment. When the Russians will finally understand that ‘the emperor is naked’…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frTBy4My9Qc
http://persephonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/clarkson-bird.gif
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2M5l__vCwo
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/11482655/In-Jeremy-Clarkson-BBC-bosses-have-created-a-monster.-Now-its-their-job-to-slay-him.html
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/176f7c04-d2f9-11e4-a792-00144feab7de.html#axzz3VUKcO3GQ
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/clarkson-sacked-piers-morgan-writes-open-letter-to-extop-gear-presenter-10134437.html
http://www.russia-direct.org/analysis/here%E2%80%99s-why-russia%E2%80%99s-economic-problems-won%E2%80%99t-lead-social-protests

I ran across this article published by CNS News.

Unusual Answer from Panelist Receives Standing Ovation at Benghazi Coalition Meeting.

It is about a meeting organized by Heritage Foundation to discuss the terrorist attack that took place in in Benghazi  in 2012.
At some point a young ‘Muslim student’ asked “…how can we fight an ideological war with weapons? How can we ever end this war? The jihadist ideology that you talk about – it’s an ideology. How can we ever end this thing if we don’t address it ideologically?”.
One of the panelists answered her that ‘there might be some 75% peaceful Muslims in the world but this is of no consequence: they follow the lead of the extremists, they don’t make their voices heard and, because of that, ‘the peaceful majority are irrelevant’ ‘. The panelist’s answer was received with standing ovations.

I’m afraid those people are making a huge mistake.

For those of you who don’t have time to read the article I’ll summarize the arguments used by Brigitte Gabriel, the panelist:
– The Germans are known as peaceful people yet the Nazis imposed their agenda and provoked horrible massacres.
– The Russians are normally peaceful people yet the Communists among them caused tens of millions of deaths, among their own people, without significant protest from the general population.
– The same happened in China.
– The otherwise peaceful Japanese allowed the militarists to take power and to start a war (the Pacific ‘portion’ of the WWII) in which another 12 million people found their death, “mostly killed by bayonets and shovels.”
– “On September 11th in the United States we had 2.3 million Arab Muslims living in the United States. It took 19 hijackers – 19 radicals – to bring America to its knees, destroy the World Trade Center, attack the Pentagon and kill almost 3000 Americans that day,” Gabriel said. “So for all our power of reason, and for all us talking about moderate and peaceful Muslims, I’m glad you’re here. But where are the others speaking out?” Gabriel asked.
The people in attendance began to applaud.”

First of all we need to differentiate between the two situations presented here.
The Germans, the Japanese and the “19 radicals” committed acts of international aggression while the Russians and the Chinese allowed themselves to be overrun by ‘misguided’ people.
Not at all the same thing.
On the other hand the German and Japanese examples are extremely interesting. A significant number of historians agree that the WWII was produced, at least in part, by the manner in which the defeated Germany was treated after WWI – they were imposed crippling war reparations which burdened Germany during the Great Depression so heavily as to produce the set of social circumstances that allowed Hitler to accede to power. This lesson was well understood so after the WWII Germany was included in the Marshal plan instead of made to pay for it. As a consequence we had, since then, 69 years if uninterrupted peace in Europe.
Japan was a ‘closed society’ until Commodore Perry forcefully ‘opened’ it in 1854, at first for trade and then to other western influences: Centralized state administration, modern army, modern management and technology, etc. And in those times the Japanese were treated, by the ‘white people’, with a ‘healthy dose’ of disdain, just as all the other non-European nations were. After the WWII all this has changed and nowadays the ‘peaceful majority’ of the Japanese have found a way, with a lot of help received from the Americans, to build a democratic society not at all different from what can be currently found in Western Europe and in North America.
Something rather similar happened with the Chinese. After Nixon went there and started to treat them as partners they basically stopped killing each-other.
But, unfortunately, this change of attitude didn’t come about between the West and Russia after the end of the Cold War. For instance we call the Ukrainian rebels  ‘pro-Russian’. Are they of any real service to Russia or to the Russian people? On the contrary… Somehow the old habit of blaming the entire Russian people for actions perpetrated by their leaders survived. Maybe because we can no longer understand the workings of a non-democratic society…since we are so accustomed with censuring our leaders.

So…

My point is that of course we have to defend ourselves from the direct actions of the ‘radicals’ – ‘shoot back’, effectively and efficiently, when ever somebody attacks us. Yet there is something else we dearly need to do, at the same time. Find a way to connect, in a respectful manner, with the ‘peaceful, yet silent, majorities’. They are “irrelevant” only as long as we treat them with the same disdain they are receiving from their own rulers. Even worse, confronted with two different kinds of disdain they’ll naturally prefer the one they are accustomed with – the one displayed by their own rulers – so if we keep packing together radicals with peaceful people and treat them as one the result will be that we’ll have to deal with an ever increasing number of radicalized ex-peaceful individuals. I propose we learn something from our parents, the ones who found a way to change the atmosphere between them and the German and the Japanese people. And since we pretend to be wiser – as all children do – than our parents were, how about doing this without wagging all-out wars? (Unless attacked, off course)

OK, so Putin made a ‘surprising’ move about Assad’s chemical weapons.
The explanation is apparently simple: he just saw a too good to pass opportunity and grabbed it.
But what if he just had to make this move? Imagine what would happen if Obama got together with the new Iranian president and they both came up with a solution…

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