A dovetail joint of news, art, science, politics, philosophy & global affairs

Grasping the currency true to our time

"Πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει"










April 15th
2:02 PM
"Russia is a power in structural decline. Its economic growth is anemic, it has an uncertain demographic future, and the state budget is highly vulnerable to any shift in oil prices. That being said, for the next several years it will have the most modern and effective military it has had since the Soviet Union collapsed. Russia’s leaders realize that right now they are the strongest they are ever likely to be, economically and militarily. Conversely, the West is at its weakest point of willpower, exhausted by crises and conflicts abroad, along with the pull of domestic agendas at home. NATO defense budgets are hardly a credible threat and will continue to decline. Even some of the Baltic states, who decry Russia as an existential threat, barely spend 1 percent of GDP on their own defense. Moscow knows that nobody wants to spend more money on defense to confront them. Putin likely calculates that if now is not the time to take on the West, then it will never come. He is rolling the dice while Russia still has dice to roll."
March 10th
9:49 PM

How does Conservatism apply to the Russia/Ukraine situation?

Nowadays “Conservatism” applies to Ukraine/Russia in the following way: Ignore the grey areas. Paint Putin as a thug but a virile, manly thug. Paint Obama as a pussy who doesn’t understand the real world.

It doesn’t matter that “conservatism” is nominally against Putin as much as his masculine grasp of realpolitik is heavily construed as a school yard threat to nerd Obama. This appeals to the high-school mentality of the current “conservative” base and is, thus, more important than default support for an American President. The fact that military provocation of Russia would be pretty much mindless, and that no “conservative” would be doing anything different also is of no consequence.

Questions and analysis of the situation are also of no consequence. Rather, the immediacy of the above narrative is to be slathered on top of the situation like syrup over hot pancakes, which should be clear from the ubiquity of talking points already delivered on talk radio.

>context<

July 19th
12:28 PM
Via
"Aleksey Navalny did something very simple on his blog: He held officials and official companies accountable in a way a destroyed civil society was unable and unwilling to do."
—  

The Most Dangerous Blogger in the World. By Julia Ioffe.

Navalny emerged as a prime critic of Putin as protests erupted in Dec 2011. Many observers conclude that the recent trial is an ongoing sham aimed at destroying any political career: See also: Russia’s patience with Putin is wearing thin & Putin’s biggest critic convicted.

May 29th
9:00 AM
Via
themodernhistory:

Stop the pointless demonization of Putin | The Great Debate
by Stephen F. Cohen 
Stephen F. Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Politics and Russian Studies at Princeton University and New York University. His book “Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War” has recently been published in an expanded paperback edition.

American media coverage of Vladimir Putin, who today began his third term as Russia’s president and 13th year as its leader, has so demonized him that the result may be to endanger U.S. national security.
For nearly 10 years, mainstream press reporting, editorials and op-ed articles have increasingly portrayed Putin as a czar-like “autocrat,” or alternatively a “KGB thug,” who imposed a “rollback of democratic reforms” under way in Russia when he succeeded Boris Yeltsin as president in 2000. He installed instead a “venal regime” that has permitted “corruptionism,” encouraged the assassination of a “growing number” of journalists and carried out the “killing of political opponents.” Not infrequently, Putin is compared to Saddam Hussein and even Stalin.
Well-informed opinions, in the West and in Russia, differ considerably as to the pluses and minuses of Putin’s leadership over the years – my own evaluation is somewhere in the middle – but there is no evidence that any of these allegations against him are true, or at least entirely true. Most seem to have originated with Putin’s personal enemies, particularly Yeltsin-era oligarchs who found themselves in foreign exile as a result of his policies – or, in the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in prison. Nonetheless, U.S. media, with little investigation of their own, have woven the allegations into a near-consensus narrative of “Putin’s Russia.”


Cohen is a thoughtful analyst. Once, back in the early 90&#8217;s on a McNeil/Lehrer News Hour, he eviscerated Jeffery Sachs&#8217; notions about post-USSR Russia with such brute elan that one wishes it were on Youtube, if only because it turned out to be so prescient ;/

themodernhistory:

Stop the pointless demonization of Putin | The Great Debate

by Stephen F. Cohen 

Stephen F. Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Politics and Russian Studies at Princeton University and New York University. His book “Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War” has recently been published in an expanded paperback edition.

American media coverage of Vladimir Putin, who today began his third term as Russia’s president and 13th year as its leader, has so demonized him that the result may be to endanger U.S. national security.

For nearly 10 years, mainstream press reporting, editorials and op-ed articles have increasingly portrayed Putin as a czar-like “autocrat,” or alternatively a “KGB thug,” who imposed a “rollback of democratic reforms” under way in Russia when he succeeded Boris Yeltsin as president in 2000. He installed instead a “venal regime” that has permitted “corruptionism,” encouraged the assassination of a “growing number” of journalists and carried out the “killing of political opponents.” Not infrequently, Putin is compared to Saddam Hussein and even Stalin.

Well-informed opinions, in the West and in Russia, differ considerably as to the pluses and minuses of Putin’s leadership over the years – my own evaluation is somewhere in the middle – but there is no evidence that any of these allegations against him are true, or at least entirely true. Most seem to have originated with Putin’s personal enemies, particularly Yeltsin-era oligarchs who found themselves in foreign exile as a result of his policies – or, in the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in prison. Nonetheless, U.S. media, with little investigation of their own, have woven the allegations into a near-consensus narrative of “Putin’s Russia.”

Cohen is a thoughtful analyst. Once, back in the early 90’s on a McNeil/Lehrer News Hour, he eviscerated Jeffery Sachs’ notions about post-USSR Russia with such brute elan that one wishes it were on Youtube, if only because it turned out to be so prescient ;/

May 7th
12:29 PM
"It’s all very well hosting the Winter Olympics, having a leader who likes to swim topless in icy waters, and having NASA pay you to take US astronauts into space, but it all seems rather meaningless when your country is simply not as free and open as it could be. This is not a feeling exclusive from pride and shame at one’s own country. It’s dangerous when people forget, that to honour and respect, one mustn’t invest in the object of affection a simple faith alone.

…When one sees people posing next to a Stalin look-a-like in a subway tunnel, it does make one pause to wonder what the hell is going on.

As I walk through another station later on, I see two haggard men with bruised and cut faces, begging. An old man meets a woman nearby, touching his hat and smiling. He takes her trolley, and they walk off, chatting amiably. Just like any other metro station in many other countries. But here it feels indicative of something more, of both a struggling alienation and a harsh world, and yet also a warm heart that will always live beyond the reach of the system it lives under."
—  

redsparrows, a mystery?

perhaps apropos of:
Russian Police Battle Anti-Putin Protesters

March 3rd
11:50 AM
Vote on Sunday&#8230;  Russians Fed Up With Putin&#8217;s Manipulations

&#8230;Putin&#8217;s campaign staff is vilifying the opposition. Although its leaders  are invited to meet with the president, blogger Navalny, for example,  the most popular resistance figure among young Russians, was depicted in  a photo montage looking chummy with Boris Berezovsky, the Jewish  oligarch who has fled to London. The intended message is that sinister  characters control the opposition&#8230; &gt;continue&lt;

see also: Protest Archipelago

Vote on Sunday…  Russians Fed Up With Putin’s Manipulations

…Putin’s campaign staff is vilifying the opposition. Although its leaders are invited to meet with the president, blogger Navalny, for example, the most popular resistance figure among young Russians, was depicted in a photo montage looking chummy with Boris Berezovsky, the Jewish oligarch who has fled to London. The intended message is that sinister characters control the opposition… >continue<

see also: Protest Archipelago

February 19th
7:18 AM
Russia&#8217;s It Girl becomes high-profile campaigner against Vladimir PutinGuardian&#160;&#187;

She is an unlikely figurehead for the political protests that have rocked Russia over the last few months. Ksenia Sobchak, 30, is a family friend of  Vladimir Putin and the host of a reality TV programme known for its  scandalous scenes. But it is her new political talkshow that has caused a  real stir – and that has just been ordered off Russian television.
Sobchak  was once dubbed the Paris Hilton of Russia because of her similarity to  the American hotel heiress. She used to be just a rich society girl:  thin, blonde, with a sharp tongue and a reputation for being spoilt.
She has written books on how to be a success and hosts Dom-2,  the longest-running reality show in the world, which has been memorably  described as the worst thing to hit Russian culture since the Mongols.
&#8230; &#8220;It has been interesting to watch her change. When she came to the first  meeting, she said we need to talk [with the government]. Now she is  radicalising in front of our eyes.&#8221;  &gt;continue&lt;

Russia’s It Girl becomes high-profile campaigner against Vladimir Putin
Guardian »

She is an unlikely figurehead for the political protests that have rocked Russia over the last few months. Ksenia Sobchak, 30, is a family friend of Vladimir Putin and the host of a reality TV programme known for its scandalous scenes. But it is her new political talkshow that has caused a real stir – and that has just been ordered off Russian television.

Sobchak was once dubbed the Paris Hilton of Russia because of her similarity to the American hotel heiress. She used to be just a rich society girl: thin, blonde, with a sharp tongue and a reputation for being spoilt.

She has written books on how to be a success and hosts Dom-2, the longest-running reality show in the world, which has been memorably described as the worst thing to hit Russian culture since the Mongols.

… “It has been interesting to watch her change. When she came to the first meeting, she said we need to talk [with the government]. Now she is radicalising in front of our eyes.”  >continue<

February 8th
3:52 PM

Hacked emails finger pro-Putin group paying bloggers

Guardian »

The Russian youth group Nashi has paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to a vast network of bloggers, journalists and internet trolls to create flattering coverage of Vladimir Putin and discredit his political rivals, according to a haul of thousands of emails allegedly sent to and from the group that have been released by Russian hackers.  >continue<

January 5th
2:51 PM

"There are enough people here to seize the Kremlin"

Could the Russian Elite Turn Against Putin?

In Russia’s personality-driven political system, the third factor is loyalty to Putin. Since Russia’s political loyalties appear to be quite “concrete” (konkretny­—meaning not abstract but tied to specific expectations), this will likely include its own calculations of the potential benefits of supporting Putin openly and the potential costs of crossing him at a decisive time. Between now and March 4, or indeed afterward, Putin and Russia’s elite may have a Machiavelli moment that tests whether it is in fact better to be feared than loved.  >continue<

Protest Archipelago

January 2nd
2:22 PM

21st Century Samizdat

Economist »

Mr Putin is the lightning-rod for Russia’s sudden crackle of discontent. His announcement in September that in spring 2012 he would reclaim the presidency from his one-term understudy, Dmitry Medvedev, promised more stale politics. He stirred anger after the election when he compared demonstrators to a tribe of unruly monkeys from “The Jungle Book” and their white protest ribbons to condoms.

…“We’ve been assured for decades that we are sheep,” said Ilya Yashin, a leader of the liberal Solidarity movement. “But… we have shown the whole country, the whole world, that we are a free and proud people.”   >continue<

see also: Protest Archipelago

December 31st
2:42 PM

New Year’s protesters arrested in Russia

Washington Post »

New Year’s Eve is the biggest holiday of the year in Russia, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took the opportunity to deliver a celebratory message, replete with his trademark tough-guy coarseness.

He sent good wishes to all the citizens of Russia, including those along the entire political spectrum, but phrased it in Russian with sexual innuendo that lent his words a derogatory note, referring to “leftist forces and those situated on the right, below, above, however you like.” He also shrugged off the protests as so much political noise and nothing unusual.  >continue<

Protest Archipelago  |  Protests in Focus  |  Protest fever in Russia

December 21st
12:11 PM

Presidential buzz surrounds leading figure of Russia's protest movement

CSMonitor »

Alexei Navalny, a vocal critic of Putin and leader in Russia’s protest movement, could pose a tough threat to his presidential bid.

He pledged “extraordinary efforts” to build momentum in the protest movement, which saw at least 30,000 mostly young and middle class demonstrators rally on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square on Dec. 10 to demand that the allegedly fraud-tainted elections be cancelled and re-staged under fair rules and conditions.

The next rally is set for this Saturday in Moscow, and well over 30,000 people have already signed a Facebook-based pledge to attend. Russian authorities have permitted the rally, but given covert police actions aimed at discrediting leaders and splitting the movement, they may be extremely worried that the protests could become a real threat to Kremlin dominance.

Navalny is the author of the term "party of rogues and thieves" to describe Mr. Putin’s ruling United Russia party (UR), a phrase that went viral in Russia and may have contributed as much as any other factor to UR’s massive loss of support in the election.  >continue<

Russia Protest News Capsule

December 12th
2:21 PM
Via

themodernhistory:

Russian Election Protests - Alan Taylor - In Focus - The Atlantic

Over the past week, tens of thousands of Russians, decrying the recent parliamentary election results, attended some of the largest protests since the fall of the USSR 20 years ago. Communists, nationalists, and liberals marched in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and several other cities, shouting down Vladimir Putin and the ruling United Russia Party. They carried signs, calling for the election results to be nullified and alleged vote-rigging to be investigated. Protesters clashed with riot police and over a thousand were arrested, including noted anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny. The largest demonstration, coordinated on Facebook, was in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square. Organizers have announced another mass protest, scheduled for December 24, which they claim will be twice as large.  >continue<

ZeitVox Russian Protest Capsule