No better nature

The term ‘Russophobia’ gets bandied about a lot at the moment. This annoys the hell of out people who get criticized as Russophobes. ‘Russophobia’, they tell us, is a smear used by the Kremlin and its proxies to smear critics of the ‘regime’. As such, it ought to be eliminated from public discourse. The online outlet Meduza, for instance, recently stated that the word ‘Russophobia’ has Stalinist roots and ‘is actively used by the Russian authorities for propaganda objectives’. According to Meduza, it would be better to use the term ‘anti-Russian’, as it fits with the phrase ‘anti-American’, which generally has political but not racial overtones.

Meduza nevertheless admits that Russophobia isn’t entirely fictional and that you can spot examples by uses of markers like ‘always’, ‘unchangeably’, ‘centuries’, and so on. Meduza’s point, therefore, is not so much to deny Russophobia as to make a politically-founded linguistic argument about the correct choice of word to describe it. By contrast, Brian Whitmore (who I’ve yet to hear say anything nice about Russia) takes a much harder line. Linking the use of the word ‘Russophobia’ with  anti-Semitism, he remarks that:

Russophobia is not just a smear the Kremlin aims at anybody who has the temerity to criticize Vladimir Putin’s autocratic regime. The use of the term is part of a carefully calculated disinformation strategy aimed at stigmatizing any and all critiques of the government as chauvinistic assaults on all Russians. It’s effectively a systematic attempt to smear and discredit Kremlin critics as racists.

‘Rascist’ is probably the wrong word. As Sean Guillory notes, ‘Russians are not a race’. Guillory concedes that the idea of Russophobia can be used by the Russian government to discredit critics. At the same time, he continues, ‘Russophobia does employ racist language and concepts’. It endows not just the Russian state but the entire Russian nation with negative characteristics. Does Russophobia of this sort exist? Too damn right it does. Take the following example:

russophobia

In an interview for the Estonian think tank, the International Centre for Defence and Security, Keir Giles of Chatham House laid out 10 principles for dealing with Russia, including this gem:

‘8. Do not hope to appeal to Russia’s better nature. It doesn’t have one.’

Giles can’t defend himself by claiming that he’s just talking about the current Russian government, for the basic principle of his book Moscow Rules, from which these principles are drawn, is that there is a sort of ‘eternal Russia’ which continues over the centuries regardless of regime or individual ruler. It’s not Putin who doesn’t have a better nature, Giles is telling us, it’s ‘Russia.’

The fact that this analysis is coming out of Britain’s most prestigious think tank is more than a little disturbing. It’s Russophobia pure and simple – a negative stereotype of an entire nation taking the place of reasoned discussion of the actual roots of current East-West tensions. It deserves to be called out.

Does labelling people Russophobes discredit them, as Meduza and Whitmore complain? Yes, of course it does. For sure, many critics of the Kremlin make perfectly valid criticisms, are far from Russophobes, and don’t deserve to be labelled as such. Others, though quite clearly do. If that discredits them, all the better.

 

40 thoughts on “No better nature”

  1. Sean Guillory isn’t exactly the best source to be referenced as an authority on anti-Russian sentiment. Refer to this JRL promoted MT article from him (which is line with Mark Galeotti’s recent JRL promoted MT article):

    https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/07/03/the-paradox-of-american-russophobia-a66241 -JRL Promoted

    Excerpt –

    “Taking Russiagate as an example, it is not Russophobic to say that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.”

    *****

    It’s “Russophobic” to hype the claim of such Russian interference, while comparatively downplaying this matter with some other countries – never minding the not too distant US government involved efforts in other countries including Russia.

    Excerpt –

    “The racist moment is best seen in former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s comment that ‘the historical practices of the Russians, who typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique’ and that it’s in Russian ‘genes to be opposed, diametrically opposed, to the United States and Western democracies’.”

    ****

    The “racist” moment on this particular includes the considerable lack of US establishment outrage over Clapper’s remarks, as evidenced by how CNN (where Clapper is employed) hasn’t (in their propped content) been shy in calling some others racist. This kind of hypocrisy has been evident elsewhere like The NYT, regarding Juliet Macur:

    https://www.eurasiareview.com/09022018-western-chauvinism-against-russia-gone-berserk-oped/

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  2. Although I generally love your blog, the “Russians are not a race” argument doesn’t make much sense and weakens your reasoning. Technically, no one is part of a race, as a race is a social construction. Antisemitism is considered a form of racism, yet are we really going to argue that Jews are biologically a different species? No. Racism means hatred towards people just for who they are, not for what they stand for – a racist hates a group of people for the very place they were born in or for the ethnic roots they share.

    Is the statement “Do not hope to appeal to Russia’s better nature, it doesn’t have one” of a racist nature? It’s possible, depending what was exactly meant by ‘Russia’. Was it the nation Russia? That is – the (partly) imagined ethnic community that identifies itself with being Russian? Then yes, it is racist. Or does the writer refer to the history of Russian statehood.

    Well, one doesn’t have to be an incredibly educated historian to agree that the history of Russian statehood was overall not very humane to its own subjects. Today’s Russia – the state – doesn’t seem to show signs that it will take the challenge of improving human rights and democracy any time soon. Some scholars may argue that Russia’s conditions are linked to its very existence. It is a huge mass of land with a relatively weak economy; it is a massive entity that is hard to control and that has a legitimacy which is largely rooted in security (i.e. hard power). To make sure, I am not arguing this with certainty – but I understand where the idea comes from to not trust the Russian state’s nature.

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    1. Oh dear

      What you have written about the Russian state” contains no evidence – you have written a number of evidence free statements.

      You write about Russia painting with broad strokes this negative picture. This is how stereotypes are made and racism is generated.
      You are showing your own bias in your writing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There were only three governments in Russian history that did put some effort in democratising society: Lenin’s, Gorbachev’s and Yeltsin’s. All three governments failed and the results were quite horrifying in their own ways. Moreover, only one of these three actually tried to get rid of the imperialist ambitions of the Kremlin – which was Gorbachev’s government. This led, logically, to the end of the state, as a great part of its legitimacy was based on imperialism. Hope this clarifies my argumentation.

        To make sure, I am not arguing that Russia will forever be imperialist and undemocratic. Gorbachev did give us some hope that it could be different for the country.

        All I try to say is that it makes sense to come to this conclusion when basing your train of thought on Russian history. Russian history is, from an anti-imperialist and pro-democratic perspective, not very hopeful.

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      2. “There were only three governments in Russian history that did put some effort in democratising society: Lenin’s, Gorbachev’s and Yeltsin’s. All three governments failed and the results were quite horrifying in their own ways.”

        Wat?…

        How did Lenin “failed”? Keep in mind though, that “liberalism” =/= democracy.

        “Moreover, only one of these three actually tried to get rid of the imperialist ambitions of the Kremlin – which was Gorbachev’s government.”

        […]

        Something tells me, you use a different definition of the term “imperialist”. So, first, I have to ask you to define it. Then, I gonna say – WTF?

        “This led, logically, to the end of the state, as a great part of its legitimacy was based on imperialism”

        No. Introduction of the capitalism, which infused local elites with the nationalism, did that.

        “Russian history is, from an anti-imperialist and pro-democratic perspective, not very hopeful.”

        […]

        Just what the… You understand that we are not living in the magical Fantasy Elfland with marshmallow vomiting unicorns and rainbow-barfing winged ponies, right?

        How old are you?

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    2. “Technically, no one is part of a race, as a race is a social construction.”

      I understand why this buzz-wordish line is accepted as the Holy Truth in the West, where the elites now reap the consequences of their unrestricted imperialism and some… less than humane ways… which spearheaded the accumulation of the capital needed for the capitalist development. The rest of the world (like, Russians and Russia) have no need to repeating this lie. Yes, different human races exist. I can say it here in Russia. Guess, I’m more free than anyone in the Democratic West.

      “Today’s Russia – the state – doesn’t seem to show signs that it will take the challenge of improving human rights and democracy any time soon.”

      Please, could you elaborate a bit about:

      – What “human rights” need to be improved in Russia?
      – How is “democracy” is in need of improvement in Russia?
      – What is your definition of the term “democracy”.

      Thanx in advance, jraortjens.

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      1. First, let me point out some ideas in your post that don’t make sense:
        – You start arguing that different human races exist and that “you see this in Russia”. Honestly, that’s not an argument. Explain yourself before making such a statement.
        – Moreover, this really isn’t a “Holy Truth in the West” and you should know that. Every citizens in the West is free to argue that the opposite is true and that human races do exist from a biological point of view. Many people won’t take such a citizens serious, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t free to argue it. “Holy Truths” are much more concrete and defended with actual tyranny.
        – You argue that you are more free than anyone (Anyone!) in the Democratic West. I’m sorry to say that this made me chuckle. I genuinely wonder how you came to that conclusion. Sounds like you know everyone who lives in the Democratic West.
        – By the way, by calling us the “Democratic West” you did prove a point about Undemocratic Russia 😉 I guess that wasn’t your intention though.

        Now the elaborations you ask for:
        – I don’t know why you put “human rights” in brackets. This seems to indicate that you don’t take the very concept of human rights seriously to begin with – in which case it would be not very useful to answer your question, but here we go. One of the clusters of human rights in Russia that comes to mind right now are civil and political rights (i.e. the rights that protect individuals’ freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals). Many politicians from the opposition as well as many journalists that are critical of the current Russian government have been positioned in such an unbearable position that they cannot do their job. In plenty occasions, this has even led to their death. Some argue that the Kremlin had nothing to do with these deaths. Even if that is so, then the Kremlin has failed to protect many of these people – which makes Russia nonetheless an unsafe country to express freely all of your human rights. Honestly, I could mention other human rights violations in Russia too, but I am not sure if either of us have time for this.
        – Democracy is in need in Russia greatly for the explanation mentioned above. Moreover, party pluralism is a farce in Russian politics, and the legal system is built in such a way that it is hardly possible for a democratic movement to actually take over the decision-making in Russia. Of course, this is the very intention of the contemporary Russian legal system.
        – My definition of democracy is deeply embedded in Western thinking. This, admittedly, is one of the reasons why it has been so hard to improve democracy in Russia. There are not many well-defined and properly constructed definitions of democracy that are not rooted in Western cultural thinking. In short, I believe that democracy functions only for a part according to the will of the majority. A second, equally important, part of democracy makes sure that the minority are protected by the state and cannot lose their dignity or physical health due to the will of the majority. It’s, in other words, a system that tries to balance between the will of the majority and the protection of minorities. Of course you could argue that my definition of democracy is subjective – which it is. There really is no other way to define democracy than being subjective, as democracy is an ideal.

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      2. “You start arguing that different human races exist and that “you see this in Russia”.”

        Jraortjens, I have to question either your eyesight, honesty or brainpower. Because I didn’t say “you see this in Russia”. What I wrote was : “I can say it here in Russia.”. Hope you will correct your false assuptions.

        “Moreover, this really isn’t a “Holy Truth in the West” and you should know that”

        Well, we have different understanding in such colloquialisms as “Holy Truth” then. When everyone and their dog repeats this now trite cliché without putting much thought to it, yes, this sounds like a dogma, i.e. a “holy truth”.

        “You argue that you are more free than anyone (Anyone!) in the Democratic West.”

        I don’t “argue”. I began my sentence with the “Guess”. But, yes, it is true that in Russia I (and anyone) is freer to express views which are not politically correct in the West and, since introduction of legal responsibility for “misgendering/dead-naming” I’m also less likely to be punished for such views.

        “By the way, by calling us the “Democratic West” you did prove a point about Undemocratic Russia”

        How is calling someone something proves anything? I regularly use such turns of phrase like “Holy Democratic 90s in Russia” or “Free and Independent Western Media”. Its called sarcasm. You know what is a sarcasm, don’t you?

        “…civil and political rights (i.e. the rights that protect individuals’ freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals).”

        Examples of such conduct, please.

        “Many politicians from the opposition as well as many journalists that are critical of the current Russian government have been positioned in such an unbearable position that they cannot do their job.”

        Examples, please. Of a) “Politicians” in Russia who can’t do their jobs. b) Ditto about journos.

        “Some argue that the Kremlin had nothing to do with these deaths. Even if that is so, then the Kremlin has failed to protect many of these people”

        If you can’t prove Kremlin’s responsibility for… uhm… whose deaths, again? Anyway, what makes their lives more valuable compared to any other lives of Russian citizens, so that Kremlin would have to do its utmost to protect them?

        “My definition of democracy is deeply embedded in Western thinking. This, admittedly, is one of the reasons why it has been so hard to improve democracy in Russia. There are not many well-defined and properly constructed definitions of democracy that are not rooted in Western cultural thinking.”

        Oh, another one Western polite racist, totally pushing “inscrutable, alien Russia” narrative!

        “In short, I believe that democracy functions only for a part according to the will of the majority. A second, equally important, part of democracy makes sure that the minority are protected by the state and cannot lose their dignity or physical health due to the will of the majority. It’s, in other words, a system that tries to balance between the will of the majority and the protection of minorities.”

        Long story short – no, you are not a proponent of “democracy… deeply embedded in Western thinking”. You are a card-carrying proponent of the contemporary interpretation of what is so-called “liberal democracy”. Do you understand that you definition of one particular form, not of the entire of the phenomena? Because, and this is gonna blow up your mind, the Western concept of democracy merely presupposes “rule by the people”. By trying out different approach, the common consensus is that it also includes elections of some kind of representatives – from 2 or more candidates. That’s it. Everything else is not exactly necessary addition.

        This, I repeat, is “Western” concept. Not “Asian”. Not “African”. Not “Mesoamerican” or “Antarctic”. Western.

        Could you, jraortjens, accept for the fact that your view of what is democracy is not a universal one (even in the West), but just one among many? Could you go a few steps further, and accept that there are entire societies, that construct their lives different from you? That they then construct states, that act different to the interests of your own?

        If the answer is the resolute NO, then you are in luck! This Giles fellow wrote an article linked in this blogposts, which explains how Russkis are untermenchen.

        “There really is no other way to define democracy than being subjective, as democracy is an ideal.”

        BS. It’s just a flavor upon a mode of rule.

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      3. I can’t reply on your new post for some reason, so I have to do it here.

        My misquoting (apologies) of your first comment doesn’t make much of a difference, my point remains the same: Just because you can say something in Russia isn’t an argument in any way. It’s rather tragic that you have to fall in such immature discourse (talking about “brainpower” and “eye-sight”) rather than actually come forward with a genuine argument that I asked for initially. It doesn’t make sense to make a statement and then say ‘just because I say so, because I live in Russia’.

        Your understanding of a “holy truth” is incredibly vague. There is a hegemonic idea of race in Western Europe, this is true. Hegemonic ideas, however, are free to be challenged – that is, if you live in a democracy. 😉

        Later on you argue that you are freer in Russia to speak politically incorrect about Western ideas that aren’t PC in Russia. This is a weird and way too obvious way of arguing. Obviously, topics that are more of a taboo in the West than in Russia are easier to say in Russia (duh). And vica versa, of course. I never denied that. But this has very little to do with freedom. Quite the opposite: a free society indicates that you can talk about everything, even the taboo-topics. Many people in the West will get angry with you for being politically incorrect – but they are free to feel angry, and so are you free to express your opinions. There is nothing unfree about being triggered.

        You are asking for examples of Russian politicians and journalists who are no longer able to do their jobs properly. It’s a rather comical request because you and I both know that you don’t need examples. Even if you disagree with me on the matter, you know which examples I will give. Either way, here are some. Alexei Navalny is an example of an opposition voice whose constantly being arrested for the most ridiculous reasons. Boris Nemtsov is a recent example of an opposition-based politician who has been assassinated. Sergei Yushenkov is a less recent but nonetheless important example. Some of the journalists killed in Russia (I am not even talking about those journalists who are alive but quitted their jobs because their lives were in danger): Anna Politkovskaya, Paul Klebnikov, Gadzhimurat Kamalov and Anastasia Baburova… Just to name a few. Mate, do you really need these examples?

        Moreover, you asked: “what makes their lives more valuable compared to any other lives of Russian citizens, so that Kremlin would have to do its utmost to protect them?” Now, finally a good question from your side. They have to be protected because they serve their society to the extent that they publish and spread crucial information that they wouldn’t be able to publish without risking their lives. That is why in Western Europe, many journalists and politicians are protected. Important to note here, this doesn’t just count for politicians and journalists who write in favour of the European governments. Far right leaders enjoy some of the highest (state funded) protection in the West. That is because every citizens should have the right to express whatever they want, without being threatened. That’s why people expressing these dangerous opinions need more protection than the average citizen.

        Your accusation of me being a racist is no argument, by the way.

        Yes, I do agree that democracy, essentially, is based on “Rule of the People”. That means all people. Not the 51%. For this, you need minority protection. Which isn’t guaranteed in Russia.

        Yes, I absolutely agree that my ideals are not universal. I never said they were. My ideals are Western – and I judge Russia from a Western point of view. This is not racist, it’s simply ideological. There are, as you know yourself, ‘Zapodniks’ in Russia who think very similar to me. There are people in the West who think very different from me and would rather agree with the Kremlin’s current vision. Russia has, of course, the freedom to take its own course. But that also means that other countries, neighbouring Russia, will likely not trust that government. Especially when those countries tend to agree more with Western political philosophy.

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      4. “My misquoting (apologies) of your first comment doesn’t make much of a difference, my point remains the same: Just because you can say something in Russia isn’t an argument in any way.”

        There is a tremendous difference. I can say some thing with impunity here in Russia. This is what I call “freedom”. In this case – freedom of expression. The fact of that I’m more free to express myself in such a venue in Russia compared to the West is an argument re: relativity of freedom.

        “There is a hegemonic idea of race in Western Europe, this is true. Hegemonic ideas, however, are free to be challenged – that is, if you live in a democracy.”

        BS. A hegemonic idea of “sacredness of the human life” could be challenged in the Western Europe via murder – but more often than not is followed by a number of consequences. The same goes to other “hegemonic ideas” as well. The old adage of “freedom of speech, not after speech” is nowhere as true as in the West.

        Next – living in democracy has nothing to do with one’s ability to be free to challenge anything. You should finally understand that “democracy” =/= “modern vision of the liberal democracy”.

        “But this has very little to do with freedom. Quite the opposite: a free society indicates that you can talk about everything, even the taboo-topics.”

        “Free society” is either an oxymoron or a detached from reality ideal. One can compare relative “freedness” of different societies by amount of things they can or can not talk about.

        “There is nothing unfree about being triggered.”

        See above about “freedom of speech, not after the speech” adage. Lets not pretend there are no both official (legal) and unofficial mechanisms in the West to punish “wrongspeak”.

        “It’s a rather comical request because you and I both know that you don’t need examples.”

        You are wrong. Don’t assume things on my part. Don’t resort to strawmanning. Answer questions.

        “Alexei Navalny is an example of an opposition voice whose constantly being arrested for the most ridiculous reasons.”

        0) “Opposition voice” is not a job description. WTF is that?

        1) Alexei Navalny is not a politician. He is a jobless 2 convicted crook and thief, who, nevertheless, could somehow afford over a dozen recreational foreign trips abroad, lives in definitely above the average apartment, rides a foreign car, has personal doctor and bodyguards.

        2) The recentmost “ridiculous reason” for his arrest had been the call to break the existing legislation and to participate in unsanctioned protest rally. In Russia this is against the law. Are you disrespecting Russia’s law?

        “Boris Nemtsov is a recent example of an opposition-based politician who has been assassinated”

        By whom? Assassinated – by whom? This is all very sad, by why this has anything to do with “the Kremlin”? Btw, I’m really saddened with Nemtsov’s death, this luminary from Yeltsin’s era that did SO MUCH to endear people with his activities both as Nizhny Novgorod’s governor and as Yetlsin’s crony. When I heard about his death, I immediately recited the immortal classic of poetry by Hilaire Belloc:

        “ Here, richly, with ridiculous display,
        The Politician’s corpse was laid away.
        While all of his acquaintance sneered and slanged,
        I wept; for I had longed to see him hanged.”

        And I’m not alone in Russia in such views. BTW, his party had zero prospects in electability anyway. Pro tip – don’t claim that Crimea is not Russian!

        “Sergei Yushenkov is a less recent but nonetheless important example.”

        “Less recent” as in… 2003. Of a no-name that no one in modern Russia will recognize without Googling. Again, with not proof that “the Kremlin” did that.

        Now, compare this 2 (Navalny is both not a politician and still alive) with what transpire in the 90s. Conclusions – there is no existential threat to politicians in Russia to conduct their “job”. Or you have better examples?

        “Some of the journalists killed in Russia…: Anna Politkovskaya, Paul Klebnikov, Gadzhimurat Kamalov and Anastasia Baburova”

        …Out of how many in the whole of Russia? Yes, they were killed. Not by “the Kremlin”, btw. Just today someone assassinated a head of a Internet news portal in Mexico. Journalists are getting killed all around the world – that’s an occupational hazard. But in Mexico, yes, “many journalists have been positioned in such an unbearable position that they cannot do their job.” Not in Russia though. Just compare today with the “Holy Democratic 90s” (hint – this was a sarcasm). The number of journos killed in Russia – thanks to “the Kremlin” unfucking the law and order – is unbelievably low.

        “(I am not even talking about those journalists who are alive but quitted their jobs because their lives were in danger)”

        No-no! I insist – tells us about them. And how “the Kremlin” figures into this all.

        “They have to be protected because they serve their society to the extent that they publish and spread crucial information that they wouldn’t be able to publish without risking their lives.”

        This is a juicy, meaty part. Thank you, jraortjens! In it you did several things. One, you said out loud that some lives “in the society” are more valuable than others. This runs directly against the chief principle of democracy and rule of law – everyone must be equal. Second – you by default assume them to be truthful. Which is rarely the case. Every outlets gives the news its spin – if not lies outright. Finally, you have some perverse idea what is the society. Journos can’t serve the “society”. As hired workers they serve their employers. Thinking otherwise is either folly of a lie.

        “That is why in Western Europe, many journalists and politicians are protected”

        Which is either wrong… or… rather telling. Politicians should be protected because they are the symbols of power and people’s will – either present or future. Protection of the state in the form of politicians is a given. Journos are hired workers serving this or that Media outlet, owned by this or that capitalist concern. Ergo my sarcastic address to them as “Free and Independent Western Media”. Therefore, the sate is made to protect the corporate interests. It would make sense to equate the politicians and journos, if one has to accept, i.e. to admit that therefore, the business controls the state in the West. Not the people. Aka that the Marxist “bourgeois democracy” is spot on.

        “That is because every citizens should have the right to express whatever they want, without being threatened.”

        BS. Nowhere does it work. Once again – “freedom of speech, not after the speech” principle reigns supreme in the West. Otherwise how come a journo got fired for comparing a newborn of prince Harry to a monkey?

        “Yes, I do agree that democracy, essentially, is based on “Rule of the People”. That means all people. Not the 51%. For this, you need minority protection. Which isn’t guaranteed in Russia.”

        “All the people” mean consent – not appeasement. Finally, we arrive to the stinking morass which is, apparently, you distorted vision of what is “society” and, therefore a “democracy”.

        Democracy growth from “the people”, i.e. from the collection of human societies. Human society’s first rule is ensuring of its collective survival. All others are unnecessary addition, that can (and do) get discarded when the need arises for that. In any given society, I you didn’t know that, the role of the individual and his or her specific values, his or her specific interests, occupy a strictly subordinate position to the interests of the corporation in which the individual is included. This is what called a “democracy”. If 51% of any given society/collection of societies decide via a recognizable engine of legitimization (which could be anything – elections, trial by combat, trial by ordeals, shouting the loudest and/or poetry competition) that from now on the water will be renamed “aaaaaaaaaargh!”, 49% remaining members of any given society/collection of societies will have to agree to that. Fuck what they think about it – they had their chance to rename it “blurb-blurb” and blew it!

        Naturally, the any given society/ collection of societies (aka “the state”) reserves for itself the right of enforcement – and punishment. No? Lack some element in this scheme? Then you don’t have a proper society but just a collection of “bright/dim individuals” and a “war of all against all” on your hands.

        Minority protection in Russia is defined by the existing legislation. The wrong way (aka “the western liberal” one) to change that is to turn asocial (i.e. the ones marginal to the society, doing everything for its survival) stratas into “supra-social”, so that their opinion would matter more than the will of the majority. This is not a democracy. But this is a liberalism in its present form. Therefore, the liberalism in its present form is undemoctratic.

        Which means that you complain not that Russia lacks in democracy – with few exceptions the government of Russia reflects the will of the majority of the people – but that it is illiberal. To which I gonna say – so what?

        “My ideals are Western – and I judge Russia from a Western point of view.”

        A novel thought for you – try not to judge Russia, lest you will be judged.

        “But that also means that other countries, neighbouring Russia, will likely not trust that government. Especially when those countries tend to agree more with Western political philosophy.”

        Here’s the thing – another novel thought for you. These countries neighboring Russia don’t actually “tend to agree more with Western political philosophy”. Unless rabid nationalism, SS-collaborators glorification and rabid Russophobia are what you imply here. These countries just want to run under USA’s skirts. That’s all.

        “Your accusation of me being a racist is no argument, by the way.”

        You devoted oh so many bytes worth of sentences explaining how your adherence to the “Western thinking” makes you so much different from us, mere Russians and our… what kind of thinking? You also make a blank statement that “party pluralism is a farce in Russian politics, and the legal system is built in such a way that it is hardly possible for a democratic movement to actually take over the decision-making in Russia” unsupported by any evidence.

        You sound full of himself Westerner feeling “rrrrrracially” superior to the Russians, who do (literally) everything wrong.

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      5. “Alexei Navalny is an example of an opposition voice whose constantly being arrested for the most ridiculous reasons.”

        YOU ARE A NAVALNYITE – EGADS! [make sign of the cross]

        First off, jraortens: It’s “who’s” not “whose”, but that’s a trivial spelling thing.
        Secondly: You had me at “democracy”, but you lost me at “Navalny”.
        Actually, you lost me at Gorbachov/Yeltsin, but then you double-lost me at Navalny.

        So, recursively: jraortens, you are a Gorbachov-Yeltsinite-Navalnyite. Could it possibly get any better, or any less popular for the average Russian? Somehow I doubt it. Are you aware, BTW, that Navalny is a fascist? Literally. He is a Great Russian chauvinist, which is pretty much equivalent to a fascist. He called Chechens cockroaches!

        Not to brag, but I happen to be an expert in Navalny, and I can tell you straight out: That guy is the Russian equivalent of “Sneaky Pete” (google it) !! In other words, a sham, a fraud, a grifter, a person who scams money from dupes.

        Clearly, jraortens, your definition of “democracy” – “Civil society” is the same as that of George Soros: Namely: People who can’t get elected should still get to form a government, in nations which are on the hitlist for NATO-sponsored Regime Change.

        Lemme guess, you are also a True Believer in Venezuelan Wonder-Man Guano Gusano? He’s a democrat too, right? To be sure, a bit of a fascist in his ideology, but still…

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      6. It seems like you keep on deliberately misunderstanding me, Mikhail. But it’s fine, we both have time as has become clear by now.

        I can say some thing with impunity here in Russia. This is what I call “freedom”. In this case – freedom of expression. The fact of that I’m more free to express myself in such a venue in Russia compared to the West is an argument re: relativity of freedom.

        You are free to express that, of course. That was not my point. My point, once again, is that you didn’t deliver – and still have failed to deliver – an argument on the matter. You made a statement and followed it by basically saying “because I live in Russia I know it better”. Explain me why you know it better. Or, to quote you: “evidence please”. (By the way, I have lived in Russia for quite a while too, but once again, this is uninteresting and no argument. Sorry.)

        The old adage of “freedom of speech, not after speech” is nowhere as true as in the West.

        This is actually to some extent true – although let’s not exaggerate: there are quite some media with counternarratives in the Western world. They are completely legal and allowed to express their discourses. Unfortunately, that’s not where the big money is. That would be a criticism towards our current capitalist system – and I would completely side with you on that matter. That said, freedom of speech is still more important than alter speech. Just because most people do not have the interest, the intelligence or the competence to introduce counterdiscourses, doesn’t mean this is a democratic deficit. Luckily we have blogs like IRUSSIANIALITY that do their job quite well.

        Next – living in democracy has nothing to do with one’s ability to be free to challenge anything. You should finally understand that “democracy” =/= “modern vision of the liberal democracy”.

        Let’s get for a second into the literal meaning of democracy – which is not, as you seem to argue, the will of the majority. Literally ‘democracy’ means “rule by people”. Nothing more, nothing less. Everything else is free for interpretation. Denying that, is simply denying the Greek etymology of the word. Now, I would argue that “rule by people” can only happen successfully when those people don’t have to be afraid to say what they want. You can disagree with that, but that’ll be an eternal yay/nay discussion.

        “Free society” is either an oxymoron or a detached from reality ideal. One can compare relative “freedness” of different societies by amount of things they can or can not talk about.

        Free societies are always completely relative, I agree with that. No society is completely free. Unlike in totalitarian societies (I am not referring to today’s Russia, to make sure), democracies are never completed. There is always work to be done. That doesn’t make freedom an oxymoron. It is merely a hypothetical goal that can never be fully reached, but is in many societies the most important societal aspiration.

        Lets not pretend there are no both official (legal) and unofficial mechanisms in the West to punish “wrongspeak”.

        Westeren societies are not perfect, and I agree with you that there are unfortunately still too many legalities to stop people from speaking freely. In some countries (like Germany and Canada) this is much stronger than in other countries (like the USA and Denmark), but once again: democracies are never completed. There are always unfree aspects that should be talked about and challenged.

        0) “Opposition voice” is not a job description. WTF is that?
        It’s legally not a job indeed. But it an important job to be done in society. Without the allowance of voices who radically oppose the government’s vision, there is not much democratic about your society. (You disagree with that, but that’s fine).

        Alexei Navalny is not a politician. He is a jobless 2 convicted crook and thief, who, nevertheless, could somehow afford over a dozen recreational foreign trips abroad, lives in definitely above the average apartment, rides a foreign car, has personal doctor and bodyguards.
        Funny that these are not the reasons why Navalny gets more than half of the time arrested. He gets arrested for participating in demonstrations, lol. I don’t deny here that he is corrupt by the way. I don’t know if he is, so I can only assume you’re right. But if it is so, isn’t it funny that he never got punished for it? It’s almost as if Russia is completely governed by corruption crooks. Oh, right. That’s the case. If you want to make it in one of the most corrupt countries in the world, you have to be corrupt yourself. A sad truth.

        The recentmost “ridiculous reason” for his arrest had been the call to break the existing legislation and to participate in unsanctioned protest rally. In Russia this is against the law. Are you disrespecting Russia’s law?

        Hey, good question: I guess I am opposing Russia’s law. That’s because I believe in liberal-democracy, so of course I cannot support illiberal and undemocratic laws. They are not legitimate in my eyes. Fun fact: Did you know it was legal in Germany to persecute Jews? Are you disrespecting Germany’s law?

        By whom? Assassinated – by whom? This is all very sad, by why this has anything to do with “the Kremlin”?
        I never said he is certainly assassinated by the Kremlin. But it was clear that the man lived in danger. One citizens have the guts to utter unpopular opinions, the state has the duty to protect them.

        …Out of how many in the whole of Russia? Yes, they were killed. Not by “the Kremlin”, btw.

        How are you so sure about that?

        Just today someone assassinated a head of a Internet news portal in Mexico.
        Now Mexico – that isn’t a great example for a safe habitat, is it?

        This is a juicy, meaty part. Thank you, jraortjens! In it you did several things. One, you said out loud that some lives “in the society” are more valuable than others. This runs directly against the chief principle of democracy and rule of law – everyone must be equal.

        Hmmm not sure about which juice and meat you’re talking. I am not saying that some are more valuable than others. I am saying that everyone has the right to say what they please without putting their lives in danger. Some people’s opinions are more unpopular, some are more wide spread. That’s why some people need more protection than others. Precisely because everyone is equal, and because everyone has equal human dignity, some people need more protection to ensure they will remain living in equal safety. Not because they are more important. But because they are more likely to be in physical danger. You get it?

        You have some perverse idea what is the society. Journos can’t serve the “society”. As hired workers they serve their employers. Thinking otherwise is either folly of a lie.

        Seems like you misunderstand as some America-styled capitalist. Not all media are companies. Many rely on state subsidy, as is the case with state media in every European country. In many of these countries, like the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, there is even subsidised media for explicitly anti-government media.

        Journos are hired workers serving this or that Media outlet, owned by this or that capitalist concern. Ergo my sarcastic address to them as “Free and Independent Western Media”.

        Again, read some more about “Western Media”. Unlike what you argue, not every democracy function like the USA. I would go further and argue, not every Western country is as undemocratic as the USA.

        It would make sense to equate the politicians and journos, if one has to accept, i.e. to admit that therefore, the business controls the state in the West. Not the people. Aka that the Marxist “bourgeois democracy” is spot on.

        Again, try to go beyond the USA and the UK. But, hey, I think we actually largely agree here. Unregulated capitalism is the biggest threat for a functioning democracy. Which is one of the main reasons why Russian democracy collapsed in the 1990s.

        Nowhere does it work. Once again – “freedom of speech, not after the speech” principle reigns supreme in the West. Otherwise how come a journo got fired for comparing a newborn of prince Harry to a monkey?

        Maybe because it was a shitty news outlet? This so-called “Journo” (as you for some reason like to call them) was working for a PC news outlet saying something for un-PC. He didn’t get threatened, he didn’t get hurt, he didn’t get killed, he didn’t get persecuted. He got fired from his PC news outlet because he wasn’t PC enough. How is this fitting to the statement I gave? I argued that citizens should be allowed to express what they want, without being threatened.

        “All the people” mean consent – not appeasement.

        Right, that’s what I said. You say consent. Consent is more than 51%. Let me tell you, you won’t get consent in a group of people, whatever you plan to do with them, when 49% of them disagrees. Even when a quarter radically disagrees, you are still gonna have problems.

        When two wolves and one sheep vote on what to eat for dinner, the two wolves vote to eat the sheep. That’s not consent.

        NB: It’s never possible to gain complete consent. But it is an aspiration to come as close as possible to it.

        This is not a democracy. But this is a liberalism in its present form. Therefore, the liberalism in its present form is undemoctratic.

        Bullshit, my friend. Complete bullshit. Burqas have just been illegalised in the Netherlands, and so are they in most other European countries by the way. They are supported by a majority of the people. Only a small minority disagrees with it.

        This of course triggered a debate in many European societies. We don’t want to end up with the “two wolves, one sheep” election, as exemplified above. In the end, the general discourse in the debate agrees that burqas are too much going against the constitution of society, against the will of most people, and (most importantly) is only in a very limiting way obstructing the freedom of minorities.

        Of course, these decisions are difficult, very balanced, and not perfect. I never intended to say that democracies are perfect. They always have to make imperfect decisions to keep things going.

        A novel thought for you – try not to judge Russia, lest you will be judged.

        Why not? You are free to judge my countries (the Netherlands and Estonia) and I am free to judge yours. To make sure, in the time that I lived in Russia, there were many things I happened to really love. In many ways we can learn a lot from Russia – just not the democratic part.

        Here’s the thing – another novel thought for you. These countries neighboring Russia don’t actually “tend to agree more with Western political philosophy”. Unless rabid nationalism, SS-collaborators glorification and rabid Russophobia are what you imply here. These countries just want to run under USA’s skirts. That’s all.

        I am currently living in Estonia, and I agree that the SS history is horrifying here. Should we judge a country for its history only? What to do with Russia then (referring to Stalinism here)? Every society deserves a new chance.

        Fun fact: the average Russian citizen is treated better here in Estonia than in Russia. They enjoy welfare, they enjoy complete religious, linguistic and expressive freedom. Some of the neighbourhoods here in Tallinn are completely ethnically and linguistically Russian. Those people live their lives as if they live in Russia. The government allows them the space and air to do so. In addition, they do enjoy all the economic bright sides of living in Estonia.

        I do agree though that there is also a lot of racism here. But this is, when possible, punished legally. And quite harshly so.

        “Your accusation of me being a racist is no argument, by the way.”

        You sound full of himself Westerner feeling “rrrrrracially” superior to the Russians, who do (literally) everything wrong.

        This is false. I agree with many Russians and I believe there is a lot I could learn from a lot of Russians. I was talking about the Kremlin’s vision, which you (for some reason) keep on synonymising to “the Russians”. The Kremlin isn’t the same as all the Russians.

        Like

      7. “It seems like you keep on deliberately misunderstanding me, Mikhail.”

        Well, now I can question your eyesight and/or brainpower without… how you put it?.. “falling in such immature discourse”. Because two times in a row when you “miquote” someone – that’s rather telling!

        That’s why I asked you about your age. I want to know what afflicts you – youthful lack of experience magnified by overcompensation of creeping old age induced senility.

        “You made a statement and followed it by basically saying “because I live in Russia I know it better”.”

        And this is an outright lie. Show exactly with a quote, where I said this, jraortjens. Your personal fantasies are just that – fantasies. Give me facts, give me evidence, give me a quote – or stop lying about me.

        [there is still option of your eyesight/brainpower being not up to the task of processing the data, of course]

        How else can you misunderstand my very straightforward: “I can say some thing with impunity here in Russia. This is what I call “freedom”. In this case – freedom of expression. The fact of that I’m more free to express myself in such a venue in Russia compared to the West is an argument re: relativity of freedom.”

        “This is actually to some extent true – although let’s not exaggerate: there are quite some media with counternarratives in the Western world. They are completely legal and allowed to express their discourses”

        Jraortjens, stop taking people around you for idiots, who are incapable of finding the basic facts about the reality. You might totally buy this propaganda vision of the Blessed West (because I don’t know about your mental condition, here’s a reminder – that was a sarcasm), but others don’t.

        If it is so free why was Alex Jones’ “Infowars” dealt with then? Why various Western countries (including the charming trio of Baltic sprats) want to ban RT and Sputnik? There is also this funny thing called “deplatforming” – not only in the Western media, but also in other public venues.

        Your narrative also ignore the chief reason behind any “media freedom” – money. People without them can’t start up their own Media. In order to stay afloat they have to compete with other media outlets, rely on “hype” and flow with the mainstream. Or find a rich pimp, who’d cover their expenses – not for free. Or they can be as you put it “quite some media with counternarratives” – and minimal outreach. Sure thing, that’s why they are allowed to exist!

        “That said, freedom of speech is still more important than alter speech”

        Freedom of speech is a convenient lie, that never existed in reality. All across the globe “speech” is curtailed in one way or another. Spare me idealistic handwringing, and start talk about the reality.

        “Luckily we have blogs like IRUSSIANIALITY that do their job quite well.”

        Hey, Professor! I didn’t know that blogging was your job! I always thought it was a hobby. And, judging by the net-statistic, your outreach is not that big come to think about it.

        “Let’s get for a second into the literal meaning of democracy – which is not, as you seem to argue, the will of the majority.”

        Sure it is. Otherwise it would be an oligarchy.

        “That doesn’t make freedom an oxymoron.”

        But this passage makes you a liar. You, jraortjens, repeatedly distort my words. I never said that “freedom is an oxymoron”. I said “free society is “either an oxymoron or a detached from reality ideal.” What, you bright individuality makes you incapably of understanding even the shortest of sentences?

        “There are always unfree aspects that should be talked about and challenged.”

        Again – how old are you? What are the chances that “unfree aspects” would be “talked about and challenged” if the net result is that someone doing so will get either legal or extralegal punishment? Who do you think will ever fall for such silly demagoguery that you spout here?

        The bottom line – every society (“democratic” or not) curtails “free speech”. No society is a “free society”. To what degree every society is “not free” depends on any given society and its circumstances. Idealistic blathering is crap.

        “But it an important job to be done in society. Without the allowance of voices who radically oppose the government’s vision, there is not much democratic about your society. (You disagree with that, but that’s fine).”

        No, it is not. Also, jraortjens, you don’t own the term “democracy”. Use it responsibly. If you are willing to write this much, it won’t kill you to write “liberal democracy” instead of just “democracy”. Otherwise you are lying.

        “Funny that these are not the reasons why Navalny gets more than half of the time arrested. He gets arrested for participating in demonstrations, lol.”

        Important note (2 actually) – he gets arrested for either participating or calling for unsanctioned protest action. When he participates in sanctioned protest or political rally – without breaking the law – no one punishes him. He also used to regularly participate in the annual “Russki March”, along with other leaders of the nationalists – like former leader of DPNI Dyomushkin or Mark Izraelevich Galperin.

        The bottom line – Navalny is arrested for reason, not for “the most ridiculous reasons”. He is not arrested “constantly”, otherwise he won’t be capable of flying abroad (often – with family) over a dozen times per year. He’s not innocent. He’s a notorious lawbreaker. In any other country (especially in the “Democratic West”) he’d be doing time now for real. He is not a politician.

        Want a list of “the most ridiculous reasons”? Try this list of fines for saying mean words to a German policeman:

        To say “piece of shit” – 2500 Euros
        To show a middle finger – 4000 Euros.

        #FreedomOfSpeechF*kYeah

        “But if it is so, isn’t it funny that he never got punished for it?”

        Or that he is a new incarnation of father Gapon and works for “the Kremlin” in making oppos look like useless fools. Alternative version – or because the Powers That Be don’t want the stink that will inevitably arise from the sell-out Free and Independent Democratic Western Media, who’d try to portray him as the “victim of the regime”. Example of Sergey Udaltsov showed profoundly, that “the Kremlin” is not afraid to give a real time for oppos leaders – and that the Western press will keep mum, cuz, you see, Udaltsov was a communist.

        “It’s almost as if Russia is completely governed by corruption crooks. Oh, right”

        If you have the proof that “Russia is completely governed by corruption crooks” – go and share with us! That, indeed, “Russia is COMPLETELY governed by corruption crooks”. Or fuck off.

        “If you want to make it in one of the most corrupt countries in the world, you have to be corrupt yourself. A sad truth.”

        The corruption is caused by the proximity of money. Therefore, the US of A is the most corrupt country in the world. Whatever Russia has just pales in comparison.

        OTOH, do you have anything of substance to offer here? Or just lame nonsequiturs?

        “Hey, good question: I guess I am opposing Russia’s law.”

        In that case, mijnheer Jules Ortjens (a post-graduate in EU-Russia Studies who currently lives in Moscow – per his blog) you are screwed. As not being a Russian citizen you can’t do anything about it. Should you try something silly about it while in Russia – you’d be kicked out. Easily. And very quickly.

        Otherwise? You are not really “opposing” it. You might say that you don’t like it. And as long as you do it carefully – you gonna be all right. But doing something else, like answering for your bold words, your claim, that screams a challenge – “I am opposing Russia’s law!” – doing this will get you screwed.

        Do you feel lucky, Jules?

        “That’s because I believe in liberal-democracy, so of course I cannot support illiberal and undemocratic laws.”

        For the matter of belief – go to the Church. If not, this will be yet another indication, that so-called “modern liberalism” is a cult.

        “Fun fact: Did you know it was legal in Germany to persecute Jews? Are you disrespecting Germany’s law?”

        If you are talking about the Nuremberg Laws (based – in part – on existing segregationist legislation of the “Western Democracies”), then it did not legalize massive scale industrial butchery of the Jews and other “undesirables” – i.e. that the 3rd Reich violated its own laws.

        As for the past laws – the question is moot. We live in a different era now. I was not even alive at the time when it happened. So I can neither respect or disrespect a defunct law in another country from where stand. Your comparison is lame. You are moving goalposts.

        Now, a far better example would be the case of $55 000 fine for misgendering delivered by Canadian tribunal. I understand, that due to some objective processes, Canada came to such a stage when this is a legal possibility. Just because I, personally don’t give a shit to the fact, that such even finally happened in Canada, does it mean that I would “respect” something like that happening in Russia. Don’t mistake my tolerance for approval.

        Personally I’d like to see the return of the Soviet era punitive psychiatry and labour-therapy for the whole lot of mental and sexual deviants, but I understand that for a number of reasons I won’t be getting my wish fulfilled anytime soon. That’s why I’m not fighting the windmills so to speak.

        “I never said he is certainly assassinated by the Kremlin.”

        If you can’t prove that he was “certainly assassinated by the Kremlin” then you have no proof that he was “assassinated by the Kremlin”. Stop dancing around.

        “One citizens have the guts to utter unpopular opinions, the state has the duty to protect them.”

        No. The state shouldn’t do such a thing. Nowhere does in the existing legislation states that it should. You are delusional if you think otherwise.

        “How are you so sure about that?

        The burden of proof is on the one who claims otherwise.

        “Now Mexico – that isn’t a great example for a safe habitat, is it?”

        BTW, why its not safe? Borders US of A, liberal, capitalist – what can one desire more? Also, hey – what about the Ukraine?

        “I am not saying that some are more valuable than others.”

        That’s what you literally said: “They have to be protected because they serve their society…”. Everyone has to serve their society in order for collective survival. No one’s life should be regarded as more valuable and worthy as protection. Lives deserve to be saved as a collective of them, without cherry-picking – which you suggested, for your entire answer was, and I quote you:

        “Moreover, you asked: “what makes their lives more valuable compared to any other lives of Russian citizens, so that Kremlin would have to do its utmost to protect them?” Now, finally a good question from your side. They have to be protected because they serve their society to the extent that they publish and spread crucial information that they wouldn’t be able to publish without risking their lives.”

        You did not dispute my framing of “what makes their lives more valuable compared to any other lives of Russian citizen”. You answered straight ahead, thus agreeing with my premise. You go further, by saying that Kremlin should protect these people specifically, because of yadda, yadda, yadda.

        “I am saying that everyone has the right to say what they please without putting their lives in danger.”

        Vague idealistic crap, i.e. demagoguery. What if something that they say puts other lives in danger? Should I cite the most recent advancements in “anti-hate speech” legislation in the West? Are steep fines, unemployment and even jail time enough reasons to “put someone’s life in danger”?

        “Some people’s opinions are more unpopular, some are more wide spread. That’s why some people need more protection than others.”

        Again – you reiterate, that people should not be equal before the law and before law enforcement. Ultimately, this is elitist and anti-democratic. Thank you again, for proving that liberalism is anti-democratic.

        “…and because everyone has equal human dignity…”

        Bullcrap. “Human dignity” is not a legal concept. I can’t be measured. You, once again, resort to shitty demagoguery. No one’s buying your propaganda points.

        “But because they are more likely to be in physical danger. You get it?”

        No. Follow the law and you (and others) won’t be in danger.

        “Seems like you misunderstand as some America-styled capitalist. Not all media are companies. Many rely on state subsidy, as is the case with state media in every European country.”

        And in Russia. But why you brand our news “propaganda” and not your own state funded? That’s hypocrisy.

        “In many of these countries, like the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, there is even subsidised media for explicitly anti-government media.”

        First – non-anglophonic (especially – single minor language) media is largely irrelevant in the global scale. Second – they act as a pressure release valve. If they would pose any real danger to the status quo they’d be banned.

        “Again, read some more about “Western Media”. Unlike what you argue, not every democracy function like the USA. I would go further and argue, not every Western country is as undemocratic as the USA.”

        So you can’t disprove what I say. Good, good.

        “Maybe because it was a shitty news outlet?”

        Wow. You just called “a shitty news outlet”… BBC. The very same BBC, which is on state subsidy. Which makes this a… state censorship. Should this happen in Russia, the entire liberast world would be ablaze with indignation. Not here though. That’s a proper censorship – AKA “editorial policy” ala “political correctness”.

        But, hang on! If BBC is a state Media (it gets state funding after all), how could its definition of the “political correctness” be such… sycophantic in the “liberal West”? Should the Western liberal state symbolize the ideals of the liberal ideology, like fucking “freedom of speech”? Don’t you have a cognitive dissonance over such… contradiction here, Jules?

        “He got fired from his PC news outlet because he wasn’t PC enough. How is this fitting to the statement I gave? I argued that citizens should be allowed to express what they want, without being threatened.”

        In the capitalist society losing one’s job (i.e. the source of income for supporting your livelihood) is threatening to the people. Don’t pretend it is not.

        “Consent is more than 51%. Let me tell you, you won’t get consent in a group of people, whatever you plan to do with them, when 49% of them disagrees. Even when a quarter radically disagrees, you are still gonna have problems.”

        That’s why they would be dealt with – not even in their entirety, more like 5%. Usually, there won’t be even that much of dissenters in any functional society. If not, if they are not dealt with – it ceases to be a functional society.

        “When two wolves and one sheep vote on what to eat for dinner, the two wolves vote to eat the sheep. That’s not consent.”

        You. Idiot. Sheep is not a part of the wolf society to begin with. Because it is ship. Did you fail the biology at school? Try again.

        “Burqas have just been illegalised in the Netherlands, and so are they in most other European countries by the way. They are supported by a majority of the people. Only a small minority disagrees with it.”

        Gee, one example! How representative of the general population feelings and political expressions! Just like the EU institutions internal politics. Oh, wait…

        “Why not? You are free to judge my countries (the Netherlands and Estonia) and I am free to judge yours.”

        Because I don’t give shit, that’s why. Why can’t you? What have you to be opinionated? You are lucky I’m so calm and not aggressive – others (IRL) might be less so.

        “I am currently living in Estonia, and I agree that the SS history is horrifying here.”

        They are worshipping SS division members now. As in – here and now. Not in the past.

        “What to do with Russia then (referring to Stalinism here)?”

        Praise it, of course. It helped the country to overcome the consequences of the Civil War and the Foreign Intervention, modernized, industrialized the country and won the war – and then gave us the Bomb, thanks to which we, the Russians, are still alive.

        “Fun fact: the average Russian citizen is treated better here in Estonia than in Russia. They enjoy welfare, they enjoy complete religious, linguistic and expressive freedom.”

        What about language laws?

        “This is false. I agree with many Russians”

        Meaningless platter. What does “I agree with many Russians” even mean? How much is this “many Russians”? Agree on what?

        “I was talking about the Kremlin’s vision, which you (for some reason) keep on synonymising to “the Russians”.”

        Study some polls then. But, probably, this is not what they pay you fore. You are, after all, at the forefront of the information war against Russia, aren’t you?

        Like

      8. “Oh, and one more thing” (c)

        Jules, you claim to working (previously?) for the Dutch newspaper “Trouw”. Well, as it turns out, it’s owned by a corporate interests of one elitist family (van Thillo dynasty). In many respects, they are nearly monopolists in their little corner of the Low Countries. One of their current assets, Berlingske daily, is rabidly Russophobic and did its utmost to spread “Russians are coming!” panic over the Nord Stream II.

        What I’m saying – we know from whence you are coming here. Want to win several “lost souls” for the Western liberal cause, don’t you? Tough luck. We are mostly irredeemable “heretics” here – each of us for our own reasons.

        Like

    3. jraortjens

      Your comments here have led to to the discussion drifting away from what is and isn’t Russophobia/anti-Russian bigotry – the subject of the above blog post.

      On the freedom matter, consider the major 24/7 news shows in the US. None of them come close to having the regular, uninterrupted, half hour diverse one on one (host to gust) point-counterpoint dialogue evident on RT’s “Worlds Apart” and “Sophie & Co”.

      Related:

      https://www.eurasiareview.com/29122014-with-room-for-improvement-rt-gives-time-to-diverse-views-analysis/

      Instead in US based TV mass media, there’re more limited five minute segments, where hosts like Chris Cuomo and Christiane Amanpour, have crudely interrupted some of their guests with cheap shot inaccurate innuendo.

      Never mind such Russia based outlets as Ekho Moskvy, Novaya Gazeta and Inosmi. In Russia, there has been a problem with some violently taking matters into their own hands. It’s disingenuous to suggest these acts are encouraged and/or secretly ordered by the Kremlin, when no such conclusive proof exists. Meantime, there continues to be a noticeable diverse range of views openly expressed in Russia – a good deal of it critical of the Russian government.

      Regarding the direct subject of the above blog post:

      https://www.eurasiareview.com/24102018-rt-russophobe-rating-challenged-oped/

      https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/10/23/naming-top-anti-russian-advocates/

      Like

      1. Thank you for you elaborated comment. I would like to say that this actually moves the discussion into a content-based conversation (instead of asking each other for each other’s age – mine is 26 by the way – and whether the other person is blind – I am not, by the way, etc.).

        Although I completely agree with you on your well-argumented criticism of US media, this is not the kind of political culture I was referring to. I should have been clearer about this in the beginning. I am a Dutchman living in Estonia; I do think that most EU countries have a healthy democratic culture compared to the US (although Estonia does have deficits, they are incomparable to America’s). That’s because of exactly what you said: our media interests are not as intertwined with capital as is the case in the USA.

        Let me give you the example of the Netherlands, as this is the country I know best. Our liberal-leaning media is not owned by one, two or even three dominant companies. They consist of four dominant newspapers, all having rather different and often even clashing discourses. And that’s just the liberal newspapers. I am not talking about socialist, religious-leaning and right-wing media outlets.

        More importantly perhaps, much of our visual media is rooted in a peculiar TV broadcast system (‘publieke omroepen’). This system is state owned, and the different broadcasts get a certain budget based on how many citizens are members of these broadcasts. This makes our television largely independent from the capitalist market and, in addition to that, it’s not monopolistic (in contrast to, for instance, French and German state television is). Indeed, even though these state-subsidised broadcasts depend on the state, their subsidy is decided by the citizens. This makes them competitive, rather independent and critical against each other (one such example is PowNews – state subsidised, but explicitly anti-government and in many topics pro-Kremlin).

        I think that this created some confusion about my understanding of a democratic media landscape. I feel that there is often a confusion about what is typically American/British versus what is typically Western.

        I am a frequent viewer of RT. I believe that, if one combines watching RT with watching other media, it really does help broaden your worldview. Indeed, many of the ideas, discourses and facts broadcasted by RT are rarely shown on other global English-speaking media – especially when not including low-budget media. I do, however, want to add to this that RT is not completely objective. As neither is France24 and DeutscheWelle. These media are for a large extend (albeit not completely) government-driven, and will prefer certain discourses above others.

        As a last note, I think that RT’s slogan (“Question more”) points to what could be a healthier media landscape for all of us: a more plural one, unlike the traditional American landscape where there are only two camps left – CNN and FOX – being fed by opposing capitalist interests. No one is served well by merely watching CNN, or Fox, or – for that matter – RT.

        It is my sincere believe – and this, I feel, is the source of most of our disagreements – that we can only come closer to a plural landscape when journalists do not feel physically threatened for expressing an unpopular discourse. If they do feel threatened, they only have two options left: either to work for a state-approved medium (like France24 or RT) or to work for a capitalist-approved medium (like CNN or Fox News). If the rule of law does not provide enough security for independent journalists/media, then governments and capitalists (both having their own interests) are the only place to escape to.

        Like

    4. I don’t think that claims like that of Giles’ should not be condemned in light of several events and processes of Russia’s relation to Western great powers.

      First of all, I think that claims about “Russian imperialism” regarding the current international conflict of Russia and Western great powers are not particularly credible. At the beginning of his first term, Putin’s government made several gestures of willingness to reconcile with these states, such as the closure of multiple oversea military bases, the offer of assistance in the War on Terror, or the repeat of Yeltsin’s offer about Russia joining the NATO. (One could argue that the second one was just an attempt to legitimize the Chechen Wars, but I don’t think that the first one could be a sign of any imperialist sentiment.) Nonetheless, this approach was not only not reciprocated, but several of these Western powers reacted rather aggressively aiding and abedding the creation of governments hostile to Russia in countries with a strategic importance in a conflict between said Western states and the Russian one. The most recent example of this is the regime change in Ukraine, when a legitimate, democratically elected government was removed in an unconstitutional manner, followed by a crackdown on people demonstrating against it. (Even though they did nothing which hadn’t been done on the Maidan or Western Ukraine before.) If you’re not already familiar with them, I recommend you Caspar de Ploeg’s book, Ukraine in the Crossfire, or this writing:

      https://gordonhahn.com/2016/01/21/report-the-russian-american-reset-nato-expansion-and-the-making-of-the-ukrainian-crisis/

      Regarding its domestic policy, while it is true that Putin’s Russia is not a democracy with a rule of law on a pair with, say, Norway, it is not necessarily the oppressive authoritarian system it is often claimed to be either. Navalny is a good example of this. He does get into conflicts with the police and is indeed often arrested, but there is at least one occasion when he seemingly intentionally provoked such a confrontation, in spite of having the opportunity to demonstrate peacefully. (www.unz.com/akarlin/signifying-navalny/)

      Considering all of this, I also think that Giles’ claim is distorting at best and Russophobic at worst.

      Like

  3. There was a response to that Medusa article by someone in RT staff that I find quite legit. I don’t remember it word-by-word, but the meaning is clear.

    While Medusa is correct that the majority of Russia-bashing articles, *by themselves*, are not Russophobic (although some are!), it’s missing a forest behind the trees. It’s the quantity, not the quality, that matters in this case. Is the publication that blamed Russian hackers for problems in American electricity grid, when in a few days it turned out there were no hackers and even no problems, Russophobic? Taken out of context – not really. Are *thousands* of articles, in major papers, blaming Russia for every problem America and Europe faces, indicative of Russophobia? Yes, they are.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What is and isn’t anti-Russian continues to be the subject of disagreement. An example:

      https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/07/25/when-bojo-meets-vova-a66575 (JRL homepage) promoted):

      Excerpt –

      “That Johnson was not PM when Putin annexed Crimea, covered up the MH17 shootdown, tried to have Skripal assassinated and generally launched a political war on the West, does not mean that none of that still matters. The Kremlin relies precisely on its belief that the West is short of memory and stamina, and that any short-term turbulence can simply be waited out.”

      *****

      Very much in line from the author Mark Galeotti. He has denied spinning along the anti-Russian leaning lines that have been uncritically picked up in neocon and neolib leaning circles – even though the latter grouping has little if any disagreement with the above excerpted.

      Like it’s conclusively shown and completely agreed that “Putin” tried to have Skripal assassinated.

      As for covering up the MH17 shoot-down, consider how non-Russian sources carried out its investigation.

      Given the lack of hoopla over the situations in Northern Cyprus and Kosovo, it’s sheer arrogance and hypocrisy to incessantly mention Crimea.

      If anything, the record shows that Putin reasonably tried to reach out to the West – only to be met by sheer arrogance, ignorance and hypocrisy against Russia.

      Concerning Galeotti’s past is this within reason overview :

      https://www.eurasiareview.com/13012015-enigmatic-russia-detractors-analysis/

      https://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/09/deconstructing-establishment-kremlinology/

      Galeotti’s pathetic reply with the support of some dupes:

      Kudos to Mark Sleboda, whose input on RT is missed.

      Like

      1. Correction if I may. His full name is Mark ‘Gerasimov Doctrine Ooopsy Oopsy’ Galeotti. In normal times, that would have destroyed his reputation. We do not live in normal times.

        Like

      2. A quality control issue, which concerns JRl, MT and this blog for promoting him unlike some others (ahem), who’ve otherwise exhibited a comparative worth to get high profile propping – if (in actuality) the idea is to seek the best input.

        At play is a phony, crony, baloney, wonky tonk structure. Say something against it will get scorn in one form or another among the elites and those who they reward in one form or another.

        As for the subject of anti-Russian biases:

        https://www.eurasiareview.com/24102018-rt-russophobe-rating-challenged-oped/

        https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/10/23/naming-top-anti-russian-advocates/

        The aforementioned (in the above linked piece) Tom Rogan jives well with Keir Giles. The former regularly cranks out anti-Russian leaning BS at the Washington Examiner, in conjunction with getting high profile media appearances, where he’s pretty much unchallenged.

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    2. Excellent point, Aule. Another egregious example: American popular media continues to demonize Russians. Russians are ALWAYS the bad guys in American TV and movies.

      Exhibit A: The popular Netflix sci-fi soap opera “Stranger Things” leveraged its popularity and devoted entire Third Season to demonizing Soviet Union and Russians.

      On a scale of 1-10, propaganda level earned a rating of 11 Rambos! Lowest point: Two winsome American teens are tied up in basement and beat up by hatchet-faced Russian thugs (who just invaded innocent America). American girl spits in face of one thug. American boy, spitting blood, crows: “You will always remember that your mighty army was thwarted by a couple of ordinary American kids….”

      Level of pukosity reaches almost to the extent of Krakatoa erupting… Or maybe even 10 Krakatoas!

      🙂

      Like

  4. Re Racism and “Russians are not a race”
    I got curious if racism can apply to the hatred of an ethnic group (as opposed to a race). Apologies for the long quotation from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism

    The UN does not define “racism”; however, it does define “racial discrimination”. According to the 1965 UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

    The term “racial discrimination” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

    This definition does not distinguish between discrimination based on ethnicity and discrimination based on race, in part because the distinction between the ethnicity and race remains debatable among anthropologists.

    Like

    1. I personally find the “X is not a race” argument incredibly silly. The question of race itself is only important for US, South Africa and a few other countries. We use the word “racism” as a catch-all simply because there is no better word. It’s short and gets the point across. Otherwise you have to use an unwieldy “discrimination based on nationality or ethnicity”.

      Btw, in case of Russians, it’s probably about nationality, not ethnicity, at least in most cases. For example, I highly doubt that anybody cares that among “Russians” inducted by Mueller several are not ethnically Russian, at least judging by their surnames.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “The fact that this analysis is coming out of Britain’s most prestigious think tank is more than a little disturbing”

    Nah, that’s not enough of description. Just as the OtherSide resorts to dogwhistling tactics, when it utilizes such pre-packaged terms as “pro-Kremlin/pro-Russian”, “state run/funded” or even “FSB (former KGB)” its only fair to return the favor. So, in the spirit of fairiness of everything Good And Holy, it should read instead “Chatham House – a British think tank funded by the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO), the UK Ministry of Defence, the British Army and the US embassy, as well as by a large number of Military Industrial Complex companies”. There!

    At the very least, from now on Chatham House have to be referred to as “British state funded” or “pro unrestricted militarist” think tan”. I insist.

    Also, dear Professor, why single out only one point made by this I’m sure well-paid British fellow? His other points are no less “progressive” (now imagine, they’d be applied to someone else and not “the Russians”):

    p.2. No excuses for Russia (ever)
    “The conviction with which [Russia’s] views are expressed does not necessarily make them right” so there may be “no excuse” when Russia acts in ways the West finds “repugnant.”

    p.3. There are no answers (ever)
    “Dealing with” Russians requires accepting that there are no answers because Russian behavior is so inherently mysterious and nonsensical that one must be comfortable with only “paradoxes and contradictions,” rather than clear, rational explanations that might make sense to normal, non-Russian humans (i.e., rrrrrrracially superior Westies).

    p. 4. Bluster and bravado (a Russian thing)
    Russia “defaults to threats and feigned outrage” to “improve its negotiating position.”

    Ho-hum.

    p. 5. Russian ‘beliefs’ are a problem (always)
    Collective guilt galore! Giles states that it doesn’t matter what Russians occupie the Kremlin, because if they are being “driven by persistent Russian beliefs and imperatives” they will still cause problems.

    p. 6. Russia is bad, but might get ‘far worse’
    Political change in Russia might not “be an improvement” because remember, Russia is inherently awful. Russia is “reprehensible” now, but things could get “far, far worse.”

    p.7. Russia is fundamentally indecent
    Things like “values and standards” were “invented elsewhere” so don’t expect Russia to ever be embarrassed by being “backward” and “barbaric”. In fact, Russia “places no value on its reputation”so it is incapable of feeling the “shame” that Western governments might feel for their wrongdoings.

    p.9. No common ground
    Everything about Russia is “entirely incompatible” with Western ways.

    p. 10. No surrender!
    We shall fight on the beaches. De-escalating tensions “equates to surrender” Giles says – and the West must never surrender because Russia will never want to be “at peace” with the world. You can’t just “choose whether to be at war with Russia or not” – because war and hostility is Russia’s “default state throughout history.”

    The article ends with pathetic (but respectable in Proper Circles) shameless panhandling, where Giles immediately promotes his own book.

    Now, children (of all ages)! Here’s your summer science project: use (soon to be Sir) Giles’ 10 points and apply them to:

    – Turkey
    – Poland
    – Israel
    – Indonesia
    – Philippines
    – Pakistan
    – US of North A

    Have fun!

    Like

    1. Paul’s quote selection makes a lot of sense to me, juxtaposed against the Meduza article. Am I correct that Meduza was founded by Russian dissenters moving to Estonia?

      I must be a little bit Russian at least no 3 would make sense as some type of self-description and yes, I do love paradoxes too.

      Like

      1. James Clapper might be part Russian as well, given the manner of his at times deceptive to outright false comments.

        I’ve tended to stay away from the use of “Russophobia”:

        https://inosmi.ru/world/20080410/240734.html

        In the English language, “phobia” tends to get most used to define a fear of something. A good number of anti-Russian elements don’t actually fear Russia as much as they dislike it. The likes of George Will and Ralph Peters come to mind on this particular.

        Upon further review, definitions of phobia include a dislike of something. Notwithstanding, phobia tends to be mostly used to describe a fear.

        Hence, my use of “anti-Russian” with “bigoted anti-Russian” being appropriate concerning comments from Giles, Clapper, Juliet Macur and the Cold War created US based Captive Nations Committee:

        http://web.archive.org/web/20050205051751/http://russian-americans.org/CRA_Art_Captive.htm

        So much for promoting JRL, Sean Guillory and Meduza, over some other sources, offering a more thorough overview on a subect like “Russophobia”.

        Like

      2. Who funds Medusa?

        Interesting that you use the words “dissenters” I would use the word “grifters”

        Newspapers even internet ones have to be funded by someone.

        *Who ever funds them sets the agenda and defines the purpose of the newspaper.

        Here in the UK we have four billionaire owners that run their own media empires –

        Key politicians court these owners – one of them in particular owns media in Australia and the USA and is very very powerful.

        This in my view subverts democracy. And also undermine the idea that journalists are key to a functioning democracy. When journalists can be bought – they do not deserve any more protection than the average person.

        Like

      3. “Who funds Medusa?”

        At first it was Khodorkovsky, who gave them $250 000 during their first year. After their falling out? Soros. The fact that Kevin Rothrock (former “A Good Treaty”) is one of them comes naturally, given that Rothtoc did a several year stint in OpenSociety web new platform dealing with the Eastern Europe, where he was their go-to “Russian Guy”. Oh, and also among their sponsors is Swedish government via SIDA (“Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency” operating on Swedish taxpayers money), which means that MEDUZA is “state funded Media”.

        Saying “I get my news from Medusa” is akin to farting in an elevator – loud, stinky, but unlikely to cause an angry comment, for everyone is resigned to get out of it soon-ish.

        P.S. “Meduza” is financially unsustainible. By 2017 it accumulated 1.4 million euros in debt.

        Like

  6. @ jraortjens July 31, 2019 at 7:07 am (and others, who preach “protecting the minority”)

    A second, equally important, part of democracy makes sure that the minority are protected by the state and cannot lose their dignity or physical health due to the will of the majority.

    Do you know who these ubiquitous “minority” needing this special protection are?

    The concept of “liberal democracy” was developed in the US of A in the late 18th century.

    James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution”, devised both the mechanics and ideological underpinning. He talks a lot about the “minority”, and in his musings this word has a very, very specific meaning.

    Here for example:
    “In all civilized Countries the people fall into different classes havg. a real or supposed difference of interests. There will be creditors & debtors, farmers, merchts. & manufacturers. There will be particularly the distinction of rich & poor. […] An increase of population will of necessity increase the proportion of those who will labour under all the hardships of life, & secretly sigh for a more equal distribution of its blessings. These may in time outnumber those who are placed above the feelings of indigence. According to the equal laws of suffrage, the power will slide into the hands of the former. No agrarian attempts have yet been made in this Country, but symtoms, of a leveling spirit, as we have understood, have sufficiently appeared in a certain quarters to give notice of the future danger. How is this danger to be guarded agst. on republican principles? How is the danger in all cases of interested coalitions to oppress the minority to be guarded agst.?
    https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-10-02-0044

    He goes on and on about the task of protecting “the minority”:
    They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.” (ibid)

    This is “The Minority” – the only minority – a “liberal democracy” is protecting: the opulent. Now and ever.

    Like

    1. “Now and ever”? You’re talking about James Madison as if he wrote the bible, and you’re talking about liberal democracy as if it is a religion crafted in stone. Guess what, it isn’t. Liberal democracy has a lot of flaws and these flaws have to be challenged. The way liberal democracy looks today, is very different from only a century ago and is likely to be very different in a century. In fact, the acknowledgment that a system cannot be timeless (i.e. has to be constantly redefined) is central to liberal democracy as it exists today. You cannot tell me with a straight face that
      Russians in Estonia, who are are protected by well defined minority laws, are part of the opulent, can you? Most Muslims in Europe aren’t part of the rich, nor are most blacks. Turks in Germany aren’t, Arabs in France aren’t, and neither Russians in Estonia aren’t. Your Madison quote is interesting, and impressive, but has nothing to do with what we are talking about. Times have changed.

      Like

      1. “You cannot tell me with a straight face that
        Russians in Estonia, who are are protected by well defined minority laws, are part of the opulent, can you?”

        Why, sure, I can tell you that whatever laws there are (including these “minority laws” you speak of – and what are they, anyway?), their purpose is to benefit, one way or another, the opulent. To preserve/maintain the socioeconomic system.

        As for the Russian speakers in the Baltic republics, I don’t have the impression that they’re enjoying any special ‘protections’. They’re complaining about discrimination all the time. Unlike, say, ‘tyrannical’ Belarus.

        Like

      2. Mao, you are talking to a pro-Propagandist here. His Lossi 36 outlet sounds dodgy as shit – dye in the wool liberal with no data who funds them. Could be Soros. Could be anyone close to the “battling Russian disinformation” propacondoms.

        Like

  7. Nothing really new I’m afraid. For anyone who’s been around Yugo a bit before it imploded, you can swap ‘Russian’ for ‘Serb’. There’s reams of bigoted, Serbophobic bs written by establishment journalists and papers, spitting venom and bile in orgiastic, quivering quantities It’s all there online in newspaper archives. They’re still quite proud about it but are careful to whom they mention it to these days.The Serbs never had nukes. BIG difference.

    As Led Zepplin wrote ‘The Song Remains the Same’, and I would add, only the object changes.

    Like

  8. Typical troll behavior by the author of this blog. Not taking seriously the idea, but just labeling it “Russophobic.” I would point out that the claim that Russia has immutable foreign policy issues/problems/patterns is NOT limited to critics of contemporary foreign policy, but is also a claim (that I don’t share, BTW) of more sympathetic scholars who seek to explain Russian foreign policy, such as Alexander Tsygankov, who talks about the role of “honor” in Russian foreign policy throughout history. But this blog seeks not to understand, but rather to tear down in a mean-spirited way a wide variety of scholars, not to actually understand what they are saying. So, par for course.

    Like

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