Archive for August, 2015

The Production of Evil



[Sometimes a peеk behind the Iron Curtain erected by western media can be most instructive. However, this can be rather difficult to do for those who can only read in English or other western European languages. And so, to show you what people are thinking out in the big world where most people live, here is a translation of an opinion piece that appeared recently in the Russian press. If any of this is a surprise to you, you need to do more research. Enjoy!]

The word “ISIS” was laid out in the same font as the word “Hollywood.”

ISIS fighters executed the director of the architectural complex at Palmira, The 82-year-old Khalid Al Asaad was beheaded, and his body was hung on an antique column in the main town square.

ISIS has created a name for itself not just because of their exceptional cruelty. Lots of people can be cruel. But usually countries, organizations and people hide their cruelty. They hide it even if they aren\’t ashamed of it, but ISIS is demonstratively cruel, for the sake of the show.

But even this isn\’t news. Lots of people kill other people, behead them, blow them up with bombs, or tear them apart with their bare hands. You can\’t surprise anybody with that. People hang each other on city squares, behead each other at gas stations, send each other to gas chambers and seat each other in electric chairs.

ISIS is different from all the other executioners in that it didn\’t just turn death and atrocity into a show, but in that it has then turned this show into art. ISIS is not ashamed of the fact that it is evil. It doesn\’t hide it. It tells of its evilness, of its hatred, of its inhumanity, even its anti-humanity—on a Hollywood scale and with Broadway pizzazz.

What ISIS does is not amateur evil, it is not evil for the sake of monetary gain, it is not evil for the sake of power. It is evil for the sake of demonstration. ISIS is a government of artists, of poets, movie directors and produces, of makeup artists of evil.

There is such a concept as a “creative handwriting.”

The word “ISIS” is inscribed in the same font as the word “Hollywood” on a hill in Southern California.

The orange robes, the convulsions of a man being burned alive, the blood which spurts at the camera, the assembly-line executions by firing squad—all of this is done with relish, from different angles, with good quality camerawork and post-production.

The screenplay, the production, the costumes, the camerawork—all of these are obviously those of professionals from western culture.

How should evil portray itself from the point of you of a western person? It has to fall from above and smash the symbol of western civilization, of its freedom and power. Evil must throw down a challenge.

Do you remember the terrible video clips of airliners flying into skyscrapers? Do you remember the silent screams of people running away from collapsing buildings? Do you remember how they were raining down? This was all filmed from a multitude of vantage points—slowly, methodically, majestically—the skyscrapers seemed to be submerging in the earth.

These two symbols of American greatness—the towers of the World Trade Center, the towers of money, of freedom, of power and potential, of national pride—were destroyed with an audience in mind—western audience—and had the same “creative handwriting” as the atrocities now being perpetuated by ISIS.

I don\’t suppose I\’ll surprise anyone at all, and won\’t say anything new, if I say that both Al Qaeda and ISIS are western creations. This is old news. I am just mentioning this as a reminder. And the “creative handwriting” of their latest deeds speaks to the fact that they also share the same goal. No, it\’s not the governments in Lebanon or Iraq or Afghanistan. Their goal is the west itself.

If you can\’t unite your subjects by serving their common interests, you can do it using a common enemy. And if this common enemy doesn\’t exist—no problem, you can create one with your own hands. You can give it the opportunity to grow up, give it weapons, grant it immunity and release it into the world.

The most important thing in such a creation is that it must be horrible. It must be self-evidently horrible. So horrible that everyone—even the idiots—could understand that this—this thing covered in blood, holding a torn-off human leg in its hand—is the only alternative to having the United States of America in complete control of everything. That burning people alive, mass executions, beheadings, sanctioned rapes—this is the only alternative to gay marriage, feminism, total surveillance of everyone and extraterritorial American “justice.”

The western establishment is nurturing ISIS like an attack dog, feeding it, training it to like human blood, in order to then release it and offer people the freedom of choice: you can die in its teeth, or you can hide behind a gate, the keys to which are in the hands of global capitalism. And they will charge you for the entry—but not in money. That is, not just in money. The payment they require is your freedom—your right to choose for yourself what is good and what is evil. Anyone who wants to enter has to relinquish this right, and give it to the owner. Because anyone who enters through the gate automatically acquires an owner.

The history of the 1930s is repeating itself, except that now those who want to reform the world order are not facing the countermodern phenomenon of Nazism, but the countermodern (or post-modern) phenomenon of radical Islam—of an archaic being with a torch, a knife and a videocamera. His role—to herd all of humanity into a single project, to rid the world of alternatives, by replacing with itself or by destroying everything that could possible offer the world alternative paths of development.

In this case, the means tell us everything there is to know about the goal.

The goal is power through any means—power to set entry fees for all those who want to be safe behind the locked gate. Needless to say, there will be no possibility of exit. It\’s not in the plans.

Roman Nosikov, lawyer, publicist, author of journal “Однако”.
August 28, 2015

Corn Madness Revisited


[En français]

Five years ago I received an unusual email from an unusual character: Yevgeny. I translated and published his letter under the title Corn Madness, and it got some 17,000 reads—a big number for me at the time—and plenty of comments. Yevgeny wrote of his experience with living in the US, and his impressions of it.

Subsequently, we met, and I got to know him. He is educated as a philosopher, a non-drinker, non-smoker, athletic, a self-taught polyglot, an accomplished musician and sound technician, but he was also, by virtue of his economic situation, working as a day-laborer at the time.

Since that time, Yevgeny has returned to Russia. I recently wrote to him and asked him to write an update, which he was kind enough to provide. Below is the original article, followed by his update.

Dear Dmitry,

I hope you don\’t mind that this is in Russian. I think that this way I can be more completely honest. I am a relatively recent graduate of one of the many faceless post-Soviet institutions of higher learning, with a degree in philosophy. Last year I moved to the USA and married an American woman.

The question of when the modern capitalist system is going to collapse has interested me since my student years, and I have approached it from various directions: from the commonplace conspiracy theories to the serious works of Oswald Spengler and Noam Chomsky. Unfortunately, I still can\’t fathom what it is that is keeping this system going.

My wife is a very pleasant woman, but a typical white conservative American. Whenever any political question comes up, she starts ranting about the Constitution and calling herself a libertarian conservative and a constitutionalist. I used to think that she is well-educated and understands what she is talking about. In fact, she is the one who introduced me to the US, and I once believed everything she told me about it. But as I found out later, she understands nothing about politics, and just repeats various bits of populist nonsense spouted by Severin, O\’Reilly, Limbaugh and other mass media clowns. Well, I am not going to try to prove to my wife that she is wrong on a subject that I don\’t quite understand myself. After all, she is a good wife. And so I try to steer clear of any political questions when I am with the family, although I do not always succeed. Perhaps if I had a copy of your book, it would help me explain myself to her better, but our family was one of the first to be flattened by the real estate market collapse. My wife went bankrupt, lost her bank account, house, job and the rest a while before I came here, and so we can\’t buy anything online.

In the talk you gave at the conference in Ireland you mentioned that there are certain regions of the US where the common people only eat garbage food from places like Walmart, which consists of artificial colors and flavors and corn, and that such a diet makes them \”a little bit crazy.\” To my utter disappointment, I have to entirely agree with you. Various witty Russian commentators love to heap ridicule on the \”dumb Americans\” and on the USA as a generally stupid country. But if they spent a bit of time living here and paid closer attention, they would realize that it is not the low cultural level that distinguishes Americans from, say, Russians: both are, on average, quite beastly. But even when I\’ve visited here before, as a student, my first impression was of a country that is full of madmen, ranging from somewhat mentally competent to total lunatics. And the further south I traveled, the more obvious this became. At first I even marveled at this, thinking, look at how intoxicating the spirit of liberty can be! But now I understand that this is a catastrophe, that American society is brainwashed and alienated in the extreme, and that all that\’s left for Americans to do is to play each other for the suckers that they have become.

Unfortunately, I feel the pernicious influence of all this on my own family right here and now. You don\’t have to be a brilliant visionary to realize that in the current situation all these endless suburbs, built on the North American model, are slowly but surely turning into mass graves for the millions of former members of the middle class. Those that do not turn into mass graves will become nature preserves – stocked with wild animals that were once human. My family is turning feral under my very eyes. Lack of resources has forced us to live according to the Soviet model – three generations under one roof. There are six of us, of which only one works, who is, consequently, exasperated and embittered. The rest of the household is gradually going insane from idleness and boredom. The television is never turned off. The female side of the family has been sucked into social networks and associated toys. Everyone is cultivating their own special psychosis, and periodically turns vicious. In these suburbs, a person without a car is as if without legs, and joblessness does not allow any of us to earn money for gas, and so the house is almost completely isolated from the outside world. The only information that seeps in comes from the lying mass media. And I understand that millions of families throughout America live this way! This is how people turn into \”teabaggers,\” while their children join street gangs.

For me, as for you, this is the second collapse. You had left USSR before it happened, while I was there to observe it as a child. I saw what happened when people were finally told that they were being had for seventy-odd years, and were offered a candy bar as consolation. Now, after all this, Russian society is finished. It grieves me to see the faces of Americans, who still believe something and wave their Constitution about, and to know that the same thing is about to happen to them. I think that the model which you have proposed will allow us to confront and to survive this collapse with dignity.

New Hamshire

* * *

Time has come to look back. Five years have passed since I wrote this naïve text. The world has changed, and so have I. Where do I start…

Three years ago I got on a plane from New York to Moscow, on a one-way ticket. There were family reasons for my departure, but I never returned to the US, and don\’t regret this—at all! I don\’t want to live in the US any more. Since then, my quality of life has only improved. Except that I am sick of trying to explain to everyone why I sacrificed my Green Card—which so many people still dream of getting. They don\’t understand me.

When I returned to Russia, I was able to leave behind the feeling of anxiety, which followed me everywhere in the US. There is a good Russian saying: “At home, even the walls help you.” In the US, I was never without the feeling that collapse is imminent—that all of this could come down any moment. At that time (autumn of 2012) people in Russia were, quite to the contrary, in high spirits, because the economy was developing rapidly, and people were prospering.

Over the three years that I was gone, my native Krasnodar turned into an affluent center of consumerism. During the day, it is clogged with traffic jams full of expensive imported cars, and huge shopping malls are filled with people even on workdays. Poor, destitute Russians?—please! They couldn\’t care less about some “peak oil” or other. We are Russia, we have all the resources in the world! Americans are paying $100 for a barrel of oil, life is great!

I have had to reevaluate my attitude toward the people in Russia. They are still far less helpless than the average American, but they are beginning to remind me of the latter. There is a real orgy of consumerism going on here. Suburban sprawl has appeared. The most prestigious and popular form of transport is a big white SUV.

Same as in the west, most people\’s eyeballs are drawn by their smartphones most of the time, even while driving, while stopped at a red light. The sums the consumers spend on these smartphones are enough to buy a used domestically produced car. Russians like to show off.

Of course, the material level of life of most Russian citizens even now doesn\’t compare favorably to those in the countries of the “golden billion,” there is still poverty, especially away from the profit centers. But it\’s not the same country that I knew during the hungry 90s.

But money does not bring happiness, and I was able to see this for myself yet again. After living in the US and returning to Russia, I also spent half a year in South America, where I saw a much lower level of life than in Russia. At the same time, the people who live there are far happier than in the US and Russia put together. And this registered with me. Now I seriously think of moving to Argentina.

This nation already survived the horrific default of 2001, military dictatorship, deindustrialization and various other calamities, and came through it all with its dignity intact. They know how to be poor but happy (unlike Russians) and without neuroses (unlike Americans)—I saw this with my own eyes.

Their mentality is at first difficult to fathom, and makes you want to reject it. People stress out over unreliability, flakiness and laziness of the people, over the slow pace of life, but at some point they understand, that they have nowhere to rush to either.

As for myself, after returning from the US, I made a firm decision: henceforth I will only do what I like. Since then, I\’ve been making a living as a translator/interpreter and a sound engineer on a freelance basis. I do not seek any permanent, official employment. I\’ve also worked on construction sites, and even as a tourist guide in Argentina. The earnings are low, but enough for food and shelter. And that is basically enough for me. I could make a bit more by working as a security guard, are as a cachier in a supermarket, but then I would hate my job. But why would I need more? Here, in the Northern Caucasus, there are amazingly beautiful mountains and sea, a warm climate, fertile soil. I have plenty of friends, and I always have something to do and somewhere to go. At some moments I even felt happy.

As far as the political and economic situation in Russia at the moment, we all know that it\’s troubled. Since around the middle of 2014 it has become more difficult for most of us to get by. One often gets a feeling of déjà vu—we\’ve seen this all before, haven\’t we? The government demonstrates its incompetence: it appears that nobody at the top anywhere in the world knows what to do next. People still love Putin, but this doesn\’t get in the way of them hating the rest of the government. That\’s part of our mentality: good czar, bad aristocracy. I live not far from the border with the Ukraine, and right next door to Crimea. Since last year we have seen a gigantic influx of refugees. Clearly things are much worse in the Ukraine.

But these changes are visible in the cities; in the country, people live just as they did 30-40 years ago. My kin still works the amazingly fertile soil, rides around on bicycles, lives as if nothing else matters, and—unlike the spoiled city residents—doesn\’t complain about life. All the imporant questions in life are still sorted out through acquaintances. Where money is chronically in short supply, it determines very little. I am completely convinced that the more traditional a society, the more collapse-resilient it is. When the zombie-apocalypse comes to the cities, life in the villages will not change much. Here, they\’ve seen lots of such cataclysms, and know what to do.

Here is another example of resilience: the Republic of Abkhazia—also just next door from me. It is a favorite destination for many of my friends and acquaintances. Since the collapse of the USSR, it has been languishing in neglect. At the same time, the people who live there are some of the happiest, hospitable and healthiest people on planet Earth. I think that in a hundred years they will still be grazing sheep, growing tangerines and setting new longevity records.

But for the rest of us, I believe that the time of great change is at hand. We had a sort of time-out for five years, so that we could prepare. But now the real global collapse is right on our doorstep. If you didn\’t find a place to hide—too bad. I\’ve spent this time without achieving much of anything, but at least I had a good time.

Peculiarities of Russian National Character


[Peculiaridades do caráter nacional russo]
[Zvláštnosti ruského národného charakteru]
[Особенности Русского Национального Характера]
[Aspects particuliers du caractère Russe]
[Svéráz ruské národní povahy]
[Particolarità dell’animo nazionale russo]
[Peculiaridades del Carácter Nacional Ruso]

Ancient Slavic god Zimnik: a squat old man, long hair the color of snow, wears a white coat, always barefoot. Carries an iron staff, one swing with which instantly freezes everything solid. Can summon snowstorms, ice storms and blizzards. Goes around taking whatever he likes, especially children who misbehave.

Recent events, such as the overthrow of the government in Ukraine, the secession of Crimea and its decision to join the Russian Federation, the subsequent military campaign against civilians in Eastern Ukraine, western sanctions against Russia, and, most recently, the attack on the ruble, have caused a certain phase transition to occur within Russian society, which, I believe, is very poorly, if at all, understood in the west. This lack of understanding puts Europe at a significant disadvantage in being able to negotiate an end to this crisis.

Whereas prior to these events the Russians were rather content to consider themselves “just another European country,” they have now remembered that they are a distinct civilization, with different civilizational roots (Byzantium rather than Rome)—one that has been subject to concerted western efforts to destroy it once or twice a century, be it by Sweden, Poland, France, Germany, or some combination of the above. This has conditioned the Russian character in a specific set of ways which, if not adequately understood, is likely to lead to disaster for Europe and the world.

Lest you think that Byzantium is some minor cultural influence on Russia, it is, in fact, rather key. Byzantine cultural influences, which came along with Orthodox Christianity, first through Crimea (the birthplace of Christianity in Russia), then through the Russian capital Kiev (the same Kiev that is now the capital of Ukraine), allowed Russia to leapfrog across a millennium or so of cultural development. Such influences include the opaque and ponderously bureaucratic nature of Russian governance, which the westerners, who love transparency (if only in others) find so unnerving, along with many other things. Russians sometimes like to call Moscow the Third Rome—third after Rome itself and Constantinople—and this is not an entirely empty claim. But this is not to say that Russian civilization is derivative; yes, it has managed to absorb the entire classical heritage, viewed through a distinctly eastern lens, but its vast northern environment has transformed that heritage into something radically different.

Since this subject is of overwhelming complexity, I will focus on just four factors, which I find essential for understanding the transformation we are currently witnessing.

1. Taking offense

Western nations have emerged in an environment of limited resources and relentless population pressure, and this has to a large degree determined the way in which they respond when they are offended. For quite a long time, while centralized authority was weak, conflicts were settled through bloody conflict, and even a minor affront could cause former friends to become instant adversaries and draw their swords. This is because it was an environment in which standing your ground was key to survival.

In contrast, Russia emerged as a nation in an environment of almost infinite, although mostly quite diffuse, resources. It also drew from the bounty of the trade route that led from the Vikings to the Greeks, which was so active that Arab geographers believed that there was a salt-water strait linking the Black Sea with the Baltic, whereas the route consisted of rivers with a considerable amount of portage. In this environment, it was important to avoid conflict, and people who would draw their swords at a single misspoken word were unlikely to do well in it.

Thus, a very different conflict resolution strategy has emerged, which survives to this day. If you insult, aggrieve or otherwise harm a Russian, you are unlikely to get a fight (unless it happens to be a demonstrative beating held in a public setting, or a calculated settling of scores through violence). Instead, more likely than not, the Russian will simply tell you to go to hell, and then refuse to have anything further to do with you. If physical proximity makes this difficult, the Russian will consider relocating, moving in any direction that happens to be away from you. So common is this speech act in practice that it has been abbreviated to a monosyllabic utterance: “Пшёл!” (“Pshol!”) and can be referred to simply as “послать” (literally, “to send”). In an environment where there is an almost infinite amount of free land to settle, such a strategy makes perfect sense. Russians live like settled people, but when they have to move, they move like nomads, whose main method of conflict resolution is voluntary relocation.

This response to grievance as something permanent is a major facet of Russian culture, and westerners who do not understand it are unlikely to achieve an outcome they would like, or even understand. To a westerner, an insult can be resolved by saying something like “I am sorry!” To a Russian that\’s pretty much just noise, especially if it is being emitted by somebody who has already been told to go to hell. A verbal apology that is not backed up by something tangible is one of these rules of politeness, which to the Russians are something of a luxury. Until a couple of decades ago, the standard Russian apology was “извиняюсь” (“izviniáius\’”), which can be translated literally as “I excuse myself.” Russia is now a much more polite country, but the basic cultural pattern remains in place.

Although purely verbal apologies are worthless, restitution is not. Setting things right may involve parting with a prized possession, or making a significant new pledge, or announcing an important change of direction. The point is, these all involve taking pivotal actions, not just words, because beyond a certain point words can only make the situation worse, taking it from the “Go to hell” stage to the even less copacetic “Let me show you the way” stage.

2. Dealing with invaders

Russia has a long history of being invaded from every direction, but especially from the west, and Russian culture has evolved a certain mindset which is difficult for outsiders to comprehend. First of all, it is important to realize that when Russians fight off an invasion (and having the CIA and the US State Department run Ukraine with the help of Ukrainian Nazis qualifies as an invasion) they are not fighting for territory, at least not directly. Rather, they are fighting for Russia as a concept. And the concept states that Russia has been invaded numerous times, but never successfully. In the Russian mindset, invading Russia successfully involves killing just about every Russian, and, as they are fond of saying, “They can\’t kill us all.” (“Нас всех не убьёшь.”) Population can be restored over time (it was down 22 million at the end of World War II) but the concept, once lost, would be lost forever. It may sound nonsensical to a westerner to hear Russians call their country “a country of princes, poets and saints,” but that\’s what it is—it is a state of mind. Russia doesn\’t have a history—it is its history.

Because the Russians fight for the concept of Russia rather than for any given chunk of Russian territory, they are always rather willing to retreat—at first. When Napoleon invaded Russia, fully planning to plunder his way across the countryside, he found the entire countryside torched by the retreating Russians. When he finally occupied Moscow, it too went up in flames. Napoleon camped out for a bit, but eventually, realizing that there was nothing more to be done (attack Siberia?) and that his army would starve and die of exposure if they remained, he beat a hasty and shameful retreat, eventually abandoning his men to their fate. As they retreated, another facet of Russian cultural heritage came to the fore: every peasant from every village that got torched as the Russians retreated was in the forefront as the Russians advanced, itching for a chance to take a pot shot at a French soldier.

Similarly, the German invasion during World War II was at first able to make rapid advances, taking a lot of territory, while the Russians equally swiftly retreated and evacuated their populations, relocating entire factories and other institutions to Siberia and resettling families in the interior of the country. Then the German advance stopped, reversed, and eventually turned into a rout. The standard pattern repeated itself, with the Russian army breaking the invader\’s will while most of the locals that found themselves under occupation withheld cooperation, organized as partisans and inflicted maximum possible damage on the retreating invader.

Murmansk, 68°58′45″, pop. 300,000
January 12: first sunrise in 40 days
Length of day: 38 minutes

Another Russian adaptation for dealing with invaders is to rely on the Russian climate to do the job. A standard way of ridding a Russian village house of vermin is simply to not heat it; a few days at 40 below or better and the cockroaches, bedbugs, lice, nits, weevils, mice, rats are all dead. It works with invaders too. Russia is the world\’s most northern country. Canada is far north, but most of its population is spread along its southern border, and it has no major cities above the Arctic Circle, while Russia has two. Life in Russia in some ways resembles life in outer space or on the open ocean: impossible without life support. The Russian winter is simply not survivable without cooperation from the locals, and so all they have to do to wipe out an invader is withhold cooperation. And if you think that an invader can secure cooperation by shooting a few locals to scare the rest, see above under “Taking offense.”

3. Dealing with foreign powers

Russia owns almost the entire northern portion of the Eurasian continent, which comprises something like 1/6 of the Earth\’s dry surface. That, by Earth standards, is a lot of territory. This is not an aberration or an accident of history: throughout their history, the Russians were absolutely driven to provide for their collective security by gaining as much territory as possible. If you are wondering what motivated them to undertake such a quest, see “Dealing with invaders” above.

If you think that foreign powers repeatedly attempted to invade and conquer Russia in order to gain access to its vast natural resources, then you are wrong: the access was always there for the asking. The Russians are not exactly known for refusing to sell their natural resources—even to their potential enemies. No, what Russia\’s enemies wanted was to be able to tap into Russia\’s resources free of charge. To them, Russia\’s existence was an inconvenience, which they attempted to eliminate through violence.

What they achieved instead was a higher price for themselves, once their invasion attempt failed. The calculus is simple: the foreigners want Russia\’s resources; to defend them, Russia needs a strong, centralized state with a big, powerful military; ergo, the foreigners should be made to pay, to support Russia\’s state and military. Consequently, most of the Russian state\’s financial needs are addressed through export tariffs, on oil and natural gas especially, rather than by taxing the Russian population. After all, the Russian population is taxed heavily enough by having to fight off periodic invasions; why tax them more? Thus, the Russian state is a customs state: it uses customs duties and tariffs to extract funds from the enemies who would destroy it and use these funds to defend itself. Since there is no replacement for Russia\’s natural resources, the more hostile the outside world acts toward Russia, the more it will end up paying for Russia\’s national defense.

Note that this policy is directed at foreign powers, not at foreign-born people. Over the centuries, Russia has absorbed numerous immigrants: from Germany during the 30 years\’ war; from France after the French revolution. More recent influxes have been from Vietnam, Korea, China and Central Asia. Last year Russia absorbed more immigrants than any other country except for the United States, which is dealing with an influx from countries on its southern border, whose populations its policies have done much to impoverish. Moreover, the Russians are absorbing this major influx, which includes close to a million from war-torn Ukraine, without much complaint. Russia is a nation of immigrants to a greater extent than most others, and is more of a melting pot than the United States.

4. Thanks, but we have our own

One more interesting Russian cultural trait is that Russians have always felt compelled to excel in all categories, from ballet and figure-skating to hockey and football to space flight and microchip manufacturing. You may think of champagne as a trademark French product, but last I checked “Советское шампанское” (“Soviet champagne”) was still selling briskly around New Year\’s Eve, and not only in Russia but in Russian shops in the US because, you see, the French stuff may be nice, but it just doesn\’t taste sufficiently Russian. For just about every thing you can imagine there is a Russian version of it, which the Russians often feel is better, and sometimes can claim they invented in the first place (the radio, for instance, was invented by Popov, not by Marconi). There are exceptions (tropical fruit is one example) and they are allowed provided they come from a “brotherly nation” such as Cuba. That was the pattern during the Soviet times, and it appears to be coming back to some extent now.

During the late Brezhnev/Andropov/Gorbachev “stagnation” period Russian innovation indeed stagnated, along with everything else, and Russia lost ground against the west technologically (but not culturally). After the Soviet collapse Russians became eager for western imports, and this was quite normal considering that Russia wasn\’t producing much of anything at the time. Then, during the 1990s, there came the era of western compradors, who dumped imported products on Russia with the long-term goal of completely wiping out domestic industry and making Russia into a pure raw materials supplier, at which point it would be defenseless against an embargo and easily forced to surrender its sovereignty. This would be an invasion by non-military means, against which Russia would find itself defenseless.

This process ran quite far before it hit a couple of major snags. First, Russian manufacturing and non-hydrocarbon exports rebounded, doubling several times in the course of a decade. The surge included grain exports, weapons, and high-tech. Second, Russia found lots of better, cheaper, friendlier trading partners around the world. Still, Russia\’s trade with the west, and with the EU specifically, is by no means insignificant. Third, the Russian defense industry has been able to maintain its standards, and its independence from imports. (This can hardly be said about the defense firms in the west, which depend on Russian titanium exports.)

And now there has come the perfect storm for the compradors: the ruble has partially devalued in response to lower oil prices, pricing out imports and helping domestic producers; sanctions have undermined Russia\’s confidence in the reliability of the west as suppliers; and the conflict over Crimea has boosted the Russians\’ confidence in their own abilities. The Russian government is seizing this opportunity to champion companies that can quickly effect import replacement for imports from the west. Russia\’s central bank has been charged with financing them at interest rates that make import replacement even more attractive.

Some people have been drawing comparisons between the period we are in now and the last time oil prices dropped—all the way to $10/barrel—in some measure precipitating the Soviet collapse. But this analogy is false. At the time, the Soviet Union was economically stagnant and dependent on western credit to secure grain imports, without which it wouldn\’t have been able to raise enough livestock to feed its population. It was led by the feckless and malleable Gorbachev—an appeaser, a capitulator, and a world-class windbag whose wife loved to go shopping in London. The Russian people despised him and referred to him as “Mishka the Marked,” thanks to his birthmark. And now Russia is resurgent, is one of the world\’s largest grain exporters, and is being led by the defiant and implacable President Putin who enjoys an approval rating of over 80%. In comparing pre-collapse USSR to Russia today, commentators and analysts showcase their ignorance.


This part almost writes itself. It\’s a recipe for disaster, so I\’ll write it out as a recipe.

1. Take a nation of people who respond to offense by damning you to hell, and refusing to having anything more to do with you, rather than fighting. Make sure that this is a nation whose natural resources are essential for keeping your lights on and your houses heated, for making your passenger airliners and your jet fighters, and for a great many other things. Keep in mind, a quarter of the light bulbs in the US light up thanks to Russian nuclear fuel, whereas a cut-off of Russian gas to Europe would be a cataclysm of the first order.

2. Make them feel that they are being invaded by installing a government that is hostile to them in a territory that they consider part of their historical homeland. The only truly non-Russian part of the Ukraine is Galicia, which parted company many centuries ago and which, most Russians will tell you, “You can take to hell with you.” If you like your neo-Nazis, you can keep your neo-Nazis. Also keep in mind how the Russians deal with invaders: they freeze them out.

3. Impose economic and financial sanctions on Russia. Watch in dismay as your exporters start losing money when in instant retaliation Russia blocks your agricultural exports. Keep in mind that this is a country that, thanks to surviving a long string of invasion attempts, traditionally relies on potentially hostile foreign states to finance its defense against them. If they fail to do so, then it will resort to other ways of deterring them, such as freezing them out. “No gas for NATO members” seems like a catchy slogan. Hope and pray that it doesn\’t catch on in Moscow.

4. Mount an attack on their national currency, causing it to lose part of its value on par with a lower price of oil. Watch in dismay as Russian officials laugh all the way to the central bank because the lower ruble has caused state revenues to remain unchanged in spite of lower oil prices, erasing a potential budget deficit. Watch in dismay as your exporters go bankrupt because their exports are priced out of the Russian market. Keep in mind, Russia has no national debt to speak of, runs a negligible budget deficit, has plentiful foreign currency reserves and ample gold reserves. Also keep in mind that your banks have loaned hundreds of billions of dollars to Russian businesses (which you have just deprived of access to your banking system by imposing sanctions). Hope and pray that Russia doesn\’t put a freeze on debt repayments to western banks until the sanctions are lifted, since that would blow up your banks.

5. Watch in dismay as Russia signs major natural gas export deals with everyone except you. Is there going to be enough gas left for you when they are done? Well, it appears that this no longer a concern for the Russians, because you have offended them, and, being who they are, they told you to go to hell (don\’t forget to take Galicia with you) and will now deal with other, friendlier countries.

6. Continue to watch in dismay as Russia actively looks for ways to sever most of the trade links with you, finding suppliers in other parts of the world or organizing production for import replacement.

But now comes a surprise—an underreported one, to say the least. Russia has just offered the EU a deal. If the EU refuses to join the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the US (which, by the way, would hurt it economically) then it can join the Customs Union with Russia. Why freeze yourselves out when we can all freeze out Washington instead? This is the restitution Russia would accept for the EU\’s offensive behavior with regard to the Ukraine and the sanctions. Coming from a customs state, it is a most generous offer. A lot went into making it: the recognition that the EU poses no military threat to Russia and not much of an economic one either; the fact that the European countries are all very cute and tiny and lovable, and make tasty cheeses and sausages; the understanding that their current crop of national politicians is feckless and beholden to Washington, and that they need a big push in order to understand where their nations\’ true interests lie… Will the EU accept this offer, or will they accept Galicia as a new member and “freeze out”?

Leveling the Playing Field of Death


[En français]

In April 2015, the Washington DC-based Physicians for Social Responsibility released a landmark study concluding that the death toll from 10 years of the “War on Terror” since the 9/11 attacks is at least 1.3 million, and could be as high as two million. However, Nafeez Ahmed begs to differ, writing that western wars have killed four million or more Muslims since 1990.

It seems that the Empire is exterminating Muslims at a higher rate than those of other confessions. Why might that be? There seem to be two competing philosophies at work within the throbbing brain of the Empire: the environmentally hostile, infinite growth-oriented, natalistic view of economists, and the eco-friendly, Malthusian, population-control view of ecologists.

Neoclassical economists are infinite growth advocates, and many of them are natalists, wholeheartedly promoting ever-faster reproduction of everything. They dominate all the university economics programs in the US, as well as the Wall Street financial institutions who operate the US government as a wholly owned subsidiary. So you might think they would dominate the Empire too, in which case you might be right. But natalism and population control are just different sides of the same coin—not!—so how do we reconcile this?

The cornucopian economist Julian Simon wrote a book called The Ultimate Resource, in which he advocated unlimited human population growth for the advantage of increasing the number of human minds, which he called “the ultimate resource.” He claimed that the earth could support population growth for another 4 billion years—the current age of the planet. But the Empire doesn’t seem to be following this plan.

In stark contrast to such cornucopian visions, in the 1960’s the ecologist Paul Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, in which he predicted massive starvation due to overpopulation. His prediction didn’t come true thanks to the “Green Revolution” (fossil fuel-based fertilizers applied to monoculture cultivation of cash crops). Then the developed countries blamed the developing countries for threatening to destroy the planet through their high birth rate. The developing countries countered that the developed countries are destroying the planet through their high resource consumption rate, which far exceeds that of the developing countries on both a per-capita and a total basis. The developed countries didn’t have an obese leg to stand on, and the population argument collapsed. Since then, population control has been a taboo subject—laced as it is with ethnocentrism, hypocrisy, and possibly even haunted by the ghost of eugenics.

But then in the 1970s the Empire struck back. The Rockefeller-led Trilateral Commission, in a plan called the New World Order (NWO) has been planning to reduce the world population to just 1 billion people implanted with micro-chips, like cattle and pets, and controlled by a cabal of elite bankers. According to the late film producer Aaron Russo, they openly admit this. So, apparently the Trilateral Commission agrees with the ecologists, not the economists. Oops!

Now if we assume that the Trilaterals are the actual, secret ruling class of the Empire (because why not?), then this would help explain the rationale behind the Empire\’s Muslim Extermination Program (MEP). You see, according to new population figures from the Pew Research Foundation, on a percentage basis, only Muslims are increasing their share of the total population of believers. By 2050 Muslims will increase it from 23.2 to 29.7% of world population. The numbers of Christians, Hindus and other believers will stay constant or decline. It seems that Muslims have the highest fertility rate: 3.1 children per woman. In addition, some offshoots of Islam, such as the so-called Islamic state, are in the habit of killing “infidels,” potentially making the numbers even worse. So non-Muslims appear to be at a disadvantage in the population race.

Here’s where the neoconservative psychopaths who control US foreign policy come into their own. It would seem that the one billion people left in the NWO might end up being mostly Muslim—unless the Empire intervenes. The US “founding fathers” were mostly Deists and were adamant about the wall of separation between church and state, but they are long dead. Now, the fundamentalist Christians who dominate the Republican party have been quite successful in tearing down this wall. Being not at all well versed in much of anything, they claim that the long-dead founders obviously meant to create a Christian government. Therefore it behooves the neoconservatives, who are Christian and Jewish Zionists, to work hard to even the playing field among world religions, vying to be the majority among the last one billion people left when the NWO is implemented.

And so they must be thinking thoughts such as the following. Whoever has the biggest population to start with is likely to win the game. The purpose of government is to create a level playing field for the free market of ideas—preferably, their ideas. Therefore, the US government, as the world\’s policeman and ultimate arbiter of fair play, has decided that Islam has an unfair advantage in the population competition, due to their high birth rate, not to mention their nasty habit of slaughtering infidels. In their minds, this makes massacring four million Muslims since 1990 only fair.

However, this is not the least bit fair in the minds of the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, many of whom have vowed to avenge their dead. The psychopathic drive to exterminate Muslims is bound to result in significant blow-back. It is possible to work out modes of peaceful coexistence, where Muslims, Christians and Atheists—all of them politically moderate and socially conservative—peacefully coexist within the same state. For examples, look at modern-day Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and other Muslim republics within the Russian Federation. But the neocon-dominated US, and their accomplices in Europe, have undermined their chances of becoming members of this peaceable and prosperous club. Instead, they have embarked on a path of intolerance, extremism and revenge. This strategy is self-defeating, criminal and, to put it in the plainest terms possible, downright stupid.

Contributed by Gary Flomenhoft exclusively for ClubOrlov

Emergency Eyewash


About a year and a half ago this blog underwent a shift of focus: instead of discussing all things collapse-related, as I have been doing since 2008, I started devoting my attention to the types of collapse we are currently observing:

• Collapse of American hegemony and the old world order
• Collapse of Western “values” and of the Western “civilizational” narrative
• Collapse of the fictional, extend-and-pretend, financial stability of the Eurozone and the US dollar zone
• Collapse in Western media\’s ability to report on world events

Many people have clearly found this new, sharper focus much more interesting than the discussion of collapses in general: blog traffic has tripled, and now fluctuates between 250,000 and 300,000 reads a month.

This change of focus has helped me define a new mission for myself and for this blog: it is to do what I can to breach the information blockade imposed on the English-speaking world by the corporate-controlled Western media.

Along the way, I have produced a body of work some 70,000 words long, which I have just published as a paperback, titled Emergency Eyewash—the second title from Club Orlov Press, with three more in the works.

With the publication of this book, this blog is going on a summer hiatus and will be mostly showing reruns of particularly popular posts. My boat has a functioning engine now (many thanks, again, to everyone who has donated to the engine crowdfunding campaign) and I am about to sail off, to reemerge some weeks later in a different part of the globe. I probably won\’t get much of a chance to write while underway, but I may record some sailing videos.

Here is the back-cover text from Emergency Eyewash:

The old world order, to which we became accustomed over the course of the 1990s and the 2000s, its crises and its problems analyzed in numerous authoritative publications on both sides of the Atlantic—it is no more.

It is not out sick and it is not on vacation. It is deceased.

It has passed on, gone to meet its maker, bought the farm, kicked the bucket and joined the choir invisible. It is an ex- world order.

Not too many people in the West have caught on to that yet, because to do that they first need to wash the sleep out of their eyes and gaze through the information blockade imposed on them by Western corporate-controlled media.

This book contains a collection of essays on the hot topics of the day written with the aim of helping you do just that.

And here is the table of contents:

American Foreign Policy Fiascos
Answers to Tough Questions
People on the move
Fact-Free Zone
Saving Face
Permission to Steal Everything
Propaganda and the lack thereof
How can you tell whether Russia has invaded Ukraine?
How to start a war and lose an empire
Twilight of the Oligarchs
Happy talk about the climate
Minimum Viable Sociopathy
Defeat is Victory
The Imperial Collapse Playbook
2015: Grounds for Optimism
Peculiarities of Russian National Character
No Escape
Masters of Parallel Universes
Financial collapse leads to war
Chaos: Practice and Applications
Financial Feudalism
License to Kill
Communities that Abide Revisited
The Limits of Propaganda
America\’s Achilles\’ Heel
No, you can\’t go back to the USSR!
The Magical Content Tree
Pop goes the Bubble
The Care and Feeding of a Financial Black Hole
Financial Nonsense Overload
So you say you don\’t want a revolution?
It\’s really very simple