Archives for posts with tag: Russia

It had to do with FOCUS.

The answer, like always, is to be found inside the question which generates it.

“If socialism is so bad, how did the Soviet Union produce so many scientists.”

The key word here is ‘produce’.
First of all, Russia did have an important cultural and scientific tradition to start with.
Secondly, the communist leaders – mostly Lenin but more or less all of them, had a clear understanding of the literacy gap which separated Russia from the rest of the world. Filling that gap was the first step towards Russia/the Soviet Union becoming a First Tier country. Hence the ‘free, standard, universally available education’.

But there’s a caveat here.
When we’re speaking about education – in the West, we mean ‘everything already known to man’.
Students are allowed to read everything in the library – except for certain places in the US, but those are exceptions.
When we speak about the education in the Soviet Union we must remember that each of the ‘free, standard and universally available’ aspects had its own limitations.
It was free in the sense that everybody – well, almost – had the right to apply for it. Actually getting it was something else.
It was standard in the sense that it was standardized. Only what was deemed safe/useful was allowed to reach the students.
It was universally available in the sense that everybody was subjected to some form of education. Much of which was nothing more than indoctrination…

Finally, let’s remember that the Soviet Union was able to produce scientists only for so long. Until it collapsed under it’s own weight…

Moral of the story?

Producing scientists is not enough.
Science teaches you only how to do whatever you want to do.
What to want… that’s something else!

War and chess have a lot in common.
Most strikingly, the different manners in which both of them end.

The king is captured.
Or the other side gives up.

A tie is nothing but the prelude for an encore, not a real end.

Even the roads to the end are very similar in both cases.
While at the start of the game/’joust’ everything is ‘possible’ – nobody knows what the other side might be doing next, as the end nears each of the combatants are more and more limited in their currently available choices by the consequences of their previous decisions. By the very path they had followed since the beginning. Which path becomes more and more evident for everybody present. Opponent as well as spectators.

Finally – but not the least important, the similarities go even further. Deeper?
The king is the most ‘important’ piece but not the most powerful. In fact, the king cannot do much by itself. It can help the other pieces achieve their common goal but when left alone it is basically powerless. The only thing it can do is run. But only as far as the board allows it to go…
A pawn, if it manages to reach the eight rank, gets to be promoted. To become the new ‘right hand’ of the king. The new ‘most powerful member of the team’.

‘OK. And the real point of your post is?’

Putin cannot win this war – cause war it is, by himself.
Hence he needs to preserve the loyalty of his henchmen, to instill enough fear into his opponents to make them quit and to convince the ‘spectators’ that their efforts to help Ukraine are too expensive.

Now!
Are we smart enough to understand that we, each of us, are ‘next’? That each time a bully gets his way, all other (would be) bullies present become even more bullish?
Are we smart enough to understand that the most meaningful thing we can do in this situation is to separate Putin from his power base? From the ordinary people who see no other alternative and from those who, for various reasons, continue to support Putin’s misconstrued ‘vision about the world’?
Are we smart enough to understand that no matter how hard it is for us, the Ukrainians have it ten times harder?

Democracy is about every body having the opportunity to speak up their minds.
To speak up their minds, not to kill their neighbors under the pretext that there is a difference of opinion between them!

“We didn’t invade Ukraine,” he claimed.
“We declared a special military operation because we had absolutely no other way of explaining to the West that dragging Ukraine into Nato was a criminal act.”
“Russia is not squeaky clean. Russia is what it is. And we are not ashamed of showing who we are.”

Are you trying to figure out what’s the real meaning of Lavrov’s words?
Let me translate for you this fine example of NewSpeak.

‘We – those who are currently running Russia, will do whatever we need to do in order to preserve our power.
In order to achieve that, we first and foremost need to convince the ordinary Russians to continue to obey our orders.
In order to achieve that, we need to convince the ordinary Russians that you are the enemy and that their only chance lies with us, their current masters.
Hence each time we destroy an Ukrainian apartment block and any of you says ‘Russians are savages’ we’re one step closer to our goal. Each and every time any of you declares ‘Russia has to pay for what it has done in Ukraine’ we tell them, the ordinary Russians, ‘See? This is what they plan to do to you once we’re are gone’.

WWI had lasted until 1945.
We have the opportunity to end the Cold War now.
The war in Ukraine will reach a conclusion. Let’s make it so that after the war will have ended, Russia will fold in the family of ‘civil’ nations.

Those nations that choose to live in peace!
Not because they cannot win wars but because they have learned that winning wars it’s not enough. Those nations which have learned, the hard way, that war has but one winner while for peace to last every body must be a winner.

An embassy is a conduit.
It brings information back and forth between the ‘host’ and the ‘sender’.

A spy ring is (intended to be) a ‘one way pipe’. It gathers information about the ‘host’ and transports it to the sender.

They have in common the fact that the bulk of the information is gathered from ‘open’ sources. From the media, that is. Newspapers, TV, radio, internet…

Imagine now the following situation.
There is this planet. Let’s say ours. Inhabited by us, the human people.
And you have some other people. One or more species capable of interplanetary travel. Who have found out about this planet and want to learn more about us before making contact.
Since they haven’t yet conquered us – as per our knowledge, and since there’s no evidence of any galaxy wide conflict raging on we may presume the aliens are fundamentally peaceful. Either naturally ’empathic’ – hence in no need whatsoever of being governed, or having such a ‘natural’ form of government that they’re very happy with it.
In their attempt to learn about us and to understand our situation before engaging in any way with us, the aliens have sent an ‘undercover’ fact-finding mission on Earth.

Right now!
When a country capable of yielding almost half the (self) destructing power available on Earth ‘happens to be’ at loggerheads with a coalition of countries which controls most of the other half of the destruction power already mentioned above.

The local agent employed by the fact-finding mission compiles two news articles which, in his opinion, summarize perfectly what’s going on on the planet.

“Medvedev alleged that some in the West would like to “take advantage of the military conflict in Ukraine to push our country to a new twist of disintegration, do everything to paralyze Russia’s state institutions and deprive the country of efficient controls, as happened in 1991.” “

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ‘planetary divide’,

Among those in the audience was Melissa Sauder, who drove nearly 350 miles from the small western Nebraska town of Grant with her 13-year-old daughter. After years of combing internet sites, listening to podcasts and reading conservative media reports, Sauder wanted to learn more about what she believes are serious problems with the integrity of U.S. elections.
She can’t shake the belief that voting machines are being manipulated even in her home county, where then-President Donald Trump won 85% of the vote in 2020.
“I just don’t know the truth because it’s not open and apparent, and it’s not transparent to us,” said Sauder, 38. “We are trusting people who are trusting the wrong people.”
It’s a sentiment now shared by millions of people in the United States after relentless attacks on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election by Trump and his allies. Nearly two years after that election, no evidence has emerged to suggest widespread fraud or manipulation while reviews in state after state have upheld the results showing President Joe Biden won.
Even so, the attacks and falsehoods have made an impact: An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll from 2021 found that about two-thirds of Republicans say they do not think Biden was legitimately elected.

So.
Forget, if you can, about the war in Ukraine and about the US mid-term elections.
Let’s pretend you’re the head of the alien fact-finding mission.
What recommendation would you send back to those calling the shots in your organization after reading the two articles I mentioned above?

For the outsiders, it seems like Gorbachev ‘made’ Putin.
Gorbachev had destroyed the Soviet Union and, thus, had set the scene for Putin to take over.

I’m afraid things are a little more complicated than that.

Gorbachev – at that time, the best informed decision maker in the whole USSR – had been smart enough to understand that no matter what he might had tried to do, the corpse was already rotten.
That everything but a major ‘upheaval’ could not accomplish anything more than prolong the agony. What he had done was nothing more than allowed the things to happen according to their nature.

I’ll make a short break here and remind you that all ‘imperium’ had eventually ended in failure. The tighter the control exercised by the ruler, the more abject the eventual failure. Check your history book.

So. Gorbachev had taken the appropriate steps. What he had done was in step with the natural flow of history.

Eltsin and Putin, on the other hand, had done the exact opposite.
Eltsin had tried and Putin had succeeded in regaining the ‘reins’ of the government. The reins, the whip, ever stronger control over the barn where the whole stash of hay is deposited…

Why things had unfolded like this?
Because they – Eltsin and Putin, had chosen this venue and because nobody else had been able to do anything about it.

OK, Gorbachev, Eltsin and Putin had made their respective calls in basically the same social and political environments. The economic situations were ‘somewhat’ different but this doesn’t change what I want to stress out. Each of them had done what had crossed each of their individual minds.
Each had been able to do whatever each of them had wanted because…
Because that particular ‘social arrangement’ allows the ruler to make whatever decisions they may see fit.
Because that particular ‘social arrangement’ – dictatorship, no matter how much window-dressing had been slapped on it, allows the person who happens to clamber ‘on top’ to keep making mistakes until the whole ‘carriage’ disintegrates.

Until we learn this lesson…

After Putin ordered the Russian army to invade Ukraine, the rest of the world ‘took sides’.

Some sided with Putin, many extended a helping hand to Ukraine – for various reasons, and others felt their lives have been ‘disturbed’.

This morning I almost blew my top.
I was listening to the radio. A usually decent station. Usually decent and, like all of us, imperfect.

The news anchor was interviewing an ‘expert’. An Ivy League Professor of International Relations and other blah-blahs. I’m not giving their names because I want them forgotten, not even more famous than they already are.

‘Is there any chance for this conflict to end in a negotiated manner?’
‘Yes, if/when both sides will find a mutually acceptable solution.
For example, if the Ukrainian side would accept a referendum in Donbass – and in Crimea, and if the Russian side would accept UN inspectors to validate the process. This would be in line with the general accepted policy of self-determination and ….’

OK, and where’s the difference between what Putin keeps saying and what I’ve just heard?!?

Two non-Ukrainians telling Ukraine what to do…

I’m going to set aside, for now, what these two – wait, three! – people are saying.
That Ukraine, the Ukrainian People, should give up a piece of their land.
My immediate interest lies in ‘who these three guys think they are’?!?

OK, only those who don’t want to see haven’t yet found out that Putin is a dictator.
But for a renowned Ivy League Professor to elaborate a scenario according to which the UN would supervise a referendum where an occupied population would have the opportunity to vote whether they want ‘their’ aggressor to maintain its control over the already occupied territory….

Would that distinguished Professor be comfortable with a referendum – equally supervised by the UN, taking place in California? Which California had already been occupied by Mexico? For which referendum, the Californians were asked where they want to live? Whether Mexico should continue its occupation or should the Mexican army retreat behind the internationally recognized border?

No, I don’t think the Professor has been paid by Putin. Or ‘compensated’ in any other way by the ‘red Satan’.
I just consider he was not paying real attention to what he was saying.
He had just opened his mouth and verbalized what his mind was churning.
The current ‘events’ have disturbed his pleasant existence to such a degree that he really needs this ‘fly in the ointment’ to ‘fly away’.

He is so ‘driven’ by his ‘need’ that he is no longer ‘patient’. He just can’t ‘stop talking’ for long enough to realize how fast Putin’s propaganda machine will make ‘good’ use of his ‘verbalizations’…

‘See, the good Professor confirms what our Beloved Leader has already done.
It’s the Ukrainians who are not reasonable!
They should first change their leadership then come back into Mother Russia’s arms.’

When are we going to understand?

Don’t tell others what to do unless you are prepared to ‘take advice’ yourself…
And, for your own good, don’t trade your future freedom for your present comfort!

After reading this interview for a second time, I asked myself: ‘Why are you paying so much attention to this guy?!? After all, he doesn’t say anything new…’

Then it hit me!

“Russia” and “we” are two different things.

Russia, the country, cannot indeed afford to “lose”. To ‘lose it’, to be more precise.
Russia will survive, no matter how many more ‘mistakes’ the morons currently running it will commit.

“We”, on the other hand, are the ones who can. And eventually will. Lose. Everything.

And the longer those “we” are allowed by Russia itself to run the Kremlin, the worse it will be.
For everybody. Us – the rest of the world, included.

‘But when will this nightmare end?’

That I don’t know.
All I know is that it will eventually do that. End.

Look at the picture above.
When have you seen anything more British than that?
OK, fake British. Make-believe British. But British nonetheless.

That was which hit me.
That during its entire history, Russia had tried to emulate Britain.
The Russian elite has for ever tried to rise itself to ‘British standards’. From Peter the Great to Putin.
All the while convincing the Russian People that the road they were trundling on was unique…

The sooner the ordinary Russians will figure out that they have been misled – and enough of the elite will understand that British-ness is good only for the Brits, they will make peace.
Among themselves.
With the their Ukrainian cousins.
And with the rest of the world!

Homo Sapiens Sapiens is a species of cultured animals simultaneously capable to place a highly sophisticated IR telescope on an orbit around their native planet, the Earth, and to reduce a country to a pile of rubble.

Interestingly enough, the technology used to accomplish both, the rocket, has been imagined a little more than a century ago.
By, among others, Herman Oberth.

He had built his first rocket as a school project, when he was 14. About then he also came up with the concept of a multistaged rocket.
Lack of resources convinced him to study medicine. After only two years he was drafted into the German Imperial Army to serve during WWI. Initially as a foot soldier and then moved to a medical unit. In that period he found enough “spare time” to conduct experiments which had later enabled him to present “designs of a missile using liquid propellant with a range of 290 km to Hermann von Stein, the Prussian Minister of War.
During WWII he had worked at Peenemunde, were he was awarded a decoration for bravery during an aerial attack, and then at the German WASAG organization developing solid fueled anti-aircraft rockets.

Between the wars he had contributed to a series of experiments in Germany. For one of which he was helped by an 18 years student. Werner von Braun.

After WWII, Oberth moved to Italy to continue, for the Italian Navy, some of the work he had started at WASAG. Then returned to Germany to publish “Mankind into Space, in which he described his ideas for space-based reflecting telescopes, space stations, electric-powered spaceships, and space suits.”

Oberth eventually came to work for his former student, Wernher von Braun, who was developing space rockets for NASA in Huntsville, Alabama.

He retired in 1962 and had a brief stint in far right politics (the National Democratic Party of Germany).
He was invited to the US in 1969 to witness the Apollo 11 crew being sent towards the Moon and in October 1985 to view the Space Shuttle Challenger being launched carrying the D-1 Spacelab mission – “the first with German mission management and controlled from the German Space Operations Center
However, his primary interest during his retirement years was to turn to more abstract philosophical questions. Most notable among his several books from this period is Primer For Those Who Would Govern.

Humans, as a species, have harbored the same ‘amount’ of brain for the last 200 000 years. That was when the Homo Sapiens had arrived. But that brain had produced something only about 70 000 years ago. That’s why the second Sapiens was added, by us, to the name of those living since that time. To underline the fact that humans had become ‘fully’ conscious only ‘recently’. That having a big brain was not enough. That becoming fully human also implied self awareness. Wisdom…

Apparently that’s not enough.
After experiencing, first hand, the horrors of WWI such a creative mind as Herman Oberth’s was still capable of building offensive weapons for Hitler.
After experiencing, first hand, the horrors of WWII such a creative mind as Herman Oberth’s was still able of joining an extreme right political party…

After experiencing, first hand, the horrors of WWII at the hands of the nazi, the modern day, post communist, Russia is capable of inflicting the same kind of horrors to their close cousins, the Ukrainians.

When are we going to become Sapiens enough to stop this insanity?
To concentrate our creativity exclusively towards ‘elevating’ purposes?

This beautiful – but almost empty, park is in Bucharest.
In Bucharest, Romania.

By the look of it, by how empty it is, it could have been anywhere in Ukraine.

Which reminds me of Churchill’s words.

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

Currently, the Ukrainian people defend not only their freedom but that of the entire Europe.
And that of the Russian people!

Who now have the opportunity to conquer theirs!

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

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