Debating the ‘New Ethical Reich’.

In my latest piece for RT (which you can read here), I discuss an inflammatory manifesto published this week in the liberal Russian newspaper Novaia Gazeta by the highly respected theatre director Konstantin Bogomolov (also well known as husband of the socialite and one-time presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak). Along the way, I also mention an article by journalist Dmitry Gubin (who has a show on the liberal Ekho Moskvy radio station). (If you read Russian and want to read the originals of Bogomolov’s and Gubin’s articles, they are here and here, though Gubin’s is behind a paywall).

Gubin’s piece is an extreme but not unrepresentative example of Russian liberal thought. Its essential message is that the West is great, Russia sucks, and the Russian people have a backward and slavish mentality. “If you gave the people freedom it would turn America into atomic dust, bring back the death penalty, and lock up the liberasts, and anyone who’s very intelligent, in prison,” Gubin writes.

Bogomolov’s piece, on the other hand, is something of a stab in the back of Russian liberalism – or at least that’s how I describe it in my article. The idea that Russia should emulate the West is pretty much at the core of Russian liberalism. But rather than praising the West, Bogomolov lays into it as a “New ethical Reich” that has established a totalitarianism that tries to enforce total compliance not just of what people say but also of what they feel. Using some highly offensive language, Bogomolov complains that “the Nazis have given way to an equally aggressive mix of queer activists, fem-fanatics, and eco-psychopaths, who have an equal desire to totally transform society.” “We have ended up in the tail end of a mad train, steaming to a hell where we will be met by multicultural gender neutral devils,” he concludes, adding that Russia needs to get off the European train and instead create a “new rightwing ideology.”

In my article I paint this as something deeply reactionary, and remark that it could easily have come out of the pen of someone like the far-right thinker Alexander Dugin. And so it could have, more or less. It very much gives the impression that Bogomolov has gone over to the dark side. It’s quite remarkable that such a piece could be published in Novaia Gazeta.

But since writing my article, a different explanation of Bogomolov’s manifesto has occurred to me. Bogomolov and Sobchak, someone told me, have reputations as libertarians, so rather than a conservative piece, his manifesto could be seen as a libertarian one.

How?

Well, the ultra-conservative really hates what Bogomolov calls “queer activists, fem-fanatics, and eco-psychopaths”, but one could argue that what Bogomolov really hates is something different: namely, he hates being told that he can’t say that he hates them. Citing the novel Clockwork Orange, he argues that the beast within the human needs expression. “I demand the right to be obnoxious,” “I demand to be allowed to be a hoodlum,” is what he appears to be saying.

You might say that that’s not any better, and you’d be right, but it is possibly slightly different. It is, in essence, an extreme form of liberalism, interpreted as denying any form of positive liberty and instead insisting on a very narrow interpretation of negative liberty that gives people the right to do any damn thing they please. If Bogomolov had truly gone over to the conservatives, he’d starting talking of moral values. Instead, he complains that ethics are an inconvenience that get in the way of people’s freedom. The fact that the West is trying to enforce some ethical standards is proof that it’s really just Nazism 2.0.

Frankly, I can’t agree with this, and having read both their articles, I didn’t come away feeling overly fond of either Gubin or Bogomolov. No doubt they have other wonderful qualities, but the forms of liberalism they seem to promote are not my own.

There was once, a long time ago in the late nineteenth century, a type of Russian liberalism that did rest on some sort of transcendental moral values, even if this was perhaps the purview of a minority of so-called ‘Idealists’ within the liberal community. This intellectual trend took inspiration in part from the writings of the philosopher Vladimir Solovyov who moved beyond negative liberty to demand that societies provide their citizens with the minimum required for a dignified existence, and that they treat their citizens decently.

When liberalism re-emerged in Russia out of the dust of the Soviet Union, this sort of thinking seems to have largely failed to re-emerge with it. Instead, the libertarian, laissez-faire, ‘screw other people, I have the right to do what I please,’ variant won the day. Bit by bit, its negative effects convinced people that another approach is needed. So when Bogomolov says that he wants to return to the Europe that used to be, not the Europe that is, it seems to me that perhaps what he’s lamenting is the loss of the libertine days of the wild 90s, when anything went, no matter how outrageous.

I don’t know if this is a more accurate explanation of Bogomolov’s motives than the one that says that he’s gone over to the side of the conservatives. I just put it out there as a possibility. Maybe the reality is some strange combination of libertarianism and conservatism. It would be interesting to hear what you all think. Regardless, his manifesto is causing quite a stir in intellectual circles, and with good reason.

45 thoughts on “Debating the ‘New Ethical Reich’.”

  1. ““We have ended up in the tail end of a mad train, steaming to a hell where we will be met by multicultural gender neutral devils,” he concludes, adding that Russia needs to get off the European train and instead create a “new rightwing ideology.””

    Hmm. But why should it be a right-wing ideology?

    It is, I noticed, a common complaint, that the present-day Russia has no distinct ideology, no vision. I was listening to Zakhar Prilepin interview yesterday (this one, I think: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9zgcSLN8zM ), and he says that Russia should adopt (and offer to the world) a decisively left-wing vision.

    But, hey, maybe it’s not the time yet. Maybe this is still the time for pragmatic “national interest” doctrine. Who knows…

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  2. Perhaps Bogomolov just expresses his professional desire to be allowed to be as shocking as possible. This is not an unusual position of people working in the culture sector. I have heard it even from architects: that the best architecture is that which other people hates most. I believe it came originally from Baudelaire, but it is of course an easy way to be written and talked about, i.e. a kind of self-promotion.

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    1. One may of course also contend that Bogomolov identifies a trait of prudishness and hypocritic sanctimoniousness in western liberalism. There is an unjustified judiciousness in distinguishing for example homosexuals as particularly pitiable, and not for example workers made into a precariat by neoliberal scrapping of labour legislation.

      But that is probably not what Bogomolov has in mind.

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    2. Before Baudelaire there was Francois Villion, I don’t see Bogomolov in that tradition.

      But yes, attention even negative attention has become a marketing tool in the arts. I am leaning towards Lytt somewhat here. Although I am strictly disinterested in who marries whom and for what reason or for that matter how often..

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  3. Interesting response from Vladislav Surkov, whom some had suspected of writing Bogomolov’s screed. He says (with a little Biblical flourish at the end):

    I didn’t write it, haven’t even read it, but I know it’s against Europe. Europe is for Navalny. So that means Bogomolov’s against Navalny. Good. As is Yavlinsky. Also good. Part of the intelligentsia has seen the light and is coming over to us. ‘So I/we the first-called Putin veterans, as it were, welcome the neophyte Kostya into our iron ranks. With the same feelings with which, probably, the Orthodox community would welcome a convert into its bosom, with love and bewilderment.’

    https://echo.msk.ru/blog/a_chesnakov/2790012-echo/

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  4. …this ‘liberal idealism’ thing, it seems to me it’s been completely discredited. Or, perhaps, un-idealized. Once they gain political power, it’s all the usual: find and destroy enemies, bullshit a lot, hold on to power.

    Here’s a Swedish novel written in 1968:
    https://largepdf.com/the-steel-spring
    I read it in the 70s (Russian translation), and decided to re-read it now; current events somehow reminded me of it. If this is how the author felt about the Scandinavian corporatist model during its heyday years, what does it say about the current state of affairs?

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    1. Every dystopia is modelled on real contemporary trends, writ large. Just think of 1984 as a dystopia modelled on trends in 1948 Britain.

      The author, Per Wahlöö, also wrote a series of crime novels with his wife, Maj Sjöwall. They are full of comic-dystopian details, particularly concerning bureaucratic or politic meddling in and messing up of police business. Very funny, I recommend it strongly.

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      1. Yeah, Nordic satire is something else. I remember The Fourth Vertebra, it was hilarious. Or even Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People.

        I’ll try to download some more Wahlöö, if I can find it.

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      2. Jan, I never pondered about Sjöwall/Wahlöö as delivering comic relief, but may have a point there … they no doubt may have had some type of cathartic effect.

        Was there some kind of comic relief in Bogomolov, that escaped me within my rigid mental state?

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  5. With Dmitro Gubin its easy – he’s a faithful salaried grant-sucker professional member of the capitol’s intelligentsia. As a person 100% dependent on the goodwill of his sponsors (read – owners) he deems as moral and acceptable everything that the (global, universalist) State Dept says is so. He should not be seen as an individual with an agency – just another soldier in the “twilight struggle”.

    Bogomolov, OTOH, is both a kreakl and an entrepreneur. Despite his status of the capitalist within a cultural sphere, he, like many of other Russian kreakls, can not outgrow his “petite-bourgeois amoeba” ™ stage of mental development. He *has* money, he *wants* to use them to influence the world at large around him – isn’t it the true essence of the capitalism, dammit?!

    Oh, wait, you didn’t know that he’s a businessman? You thought that him moonlighting as a (state’s!) theatre director makes him some kid of high-status “proletarian”? Noooope! First of all – he’s married to Sobchak, that earns much, MUCH more than him (or her previous husband Maxim Vitorgan… or her previous paramour oppo-loser Ilya “YashinMudak” Yashin… or her previous…). Thanks to Sobchak taking a shot at becoming a president-ess of Russia, we now know nearly everything about her income. Yes, including her ownership shares in some business… and off-shores. As for Bogomolov himself, after their wedding he’s doing very, very good, and I’m not just talking about moving to Ksenia Anatolyevna’s palatial stables mansion, where he now resides. Their wedding’s cost is estimated in his 3 annual incomes. Speaking of which, yes, he’s a salaried “official” of the State (via Ministry of Culture), but that’s not all. Besides becoming a director of the TV series “Soderzhanki” “Maîtresses”, but with a rus.lang twist presuming money as the reason – quite ironic name, given his, Bogomolov’s, status ;)), he then became the whole project’s showrunner, i.e. both a producer and a screenwriter.

    So… They married in late 2019… and then Covid stuck! Oh, what a bummer! Cultural activity grinds to a halt… as well as his income. It must be increasingly awk-ward to feel “stuck” in the highest poshy-posh society of his wife, and realize, that, no matter what, she’s doing just fine income wise, while you are sucking at it… And should the divorce stuck, you are seeing none of Sobchachka’s millions. Curse the Virus? Nah – curse the anti-viral measures taken, that deprive you from the geshaft!

    Tl;dr. Gubin is a good soldier toeing the party line of the international capital. Bogomolov is, literally, a nouveau riche, whose ascendancy is in equal proportion accidental, vulnerable and temporal. He’s butthurt. Instead of invoking the spirit of this particular XIX c. Russian figure (Solovyov), let’s instead invoke his contemporary – doctor Freud.

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    1. European? American? perspective?
      Чувства и мысль всегда были приватной зоной человека. Он не имел права распускать руки, но сердце и мозг его были вольны. Таков был негласный общественный договор европейской цивилизации, понимавшей человека как сосуд эмоций и идей, где ненависть — иная сторона любви — пусть сложная и опасная, но необходимая и важная часть человеческой личности.

      Freedom of Thought and Freedom of Speech/Expression may once have been connected in the EU and the US. Never mind to what extent they were real freedoms.. But in Europe from the American perspective that at one point in time wasn’t quite the same anymore. As far as legislation is concerned.

      I do recall vividly that in the early days of this new century people felt they had to feel sorry for me. After all, I couldn’t speak my mind. I should have wanted to, should have felt deprived to do so on certain issues? I had to bury those natural (Darwinian?) impulses deeply within my natural devil existence, feigning an angel?

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      1. Freedom of Thought and Freedom of Speech/Expression may once have been connected in the EU and the US.

        Ok, they were never quite connected, but on some issues even less, post 1945?

        My mother had an uncle who apparently got into trouble at university in the early 19th century and fled to the US. That’s the family tale anyway. Reminds me that I always wanted to find out what type of trouble this could have been. In the 30s an uncle of my mother followed him. He was a very close friend of my mother’s eldest brother. My mother’s brother died in1941, to the extent I recall, off the coast of Norway. His closest friend, technically his uncle, but about the same age died fighting in the Pacific for the US.

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  6. Re: “Its essential message is that the West is great, Russia sucks, and the Russian people have a backward and slavish mentality. ‘If you gave the people freedom it would turn America into atomic dust, bring back the death penalty, and lock up the liberasts, and anyone who’s very intelligent, in prison,’ Gubin writes.”

    *****

    Reminded of an exchange I had with Olga Lautman. Her Twitter account:

    https://twitter.com/OlgaNYC1211?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

    All insults, with no facts or fact based evidence when confronted with the hyperbolic-ally absurd claims of (among other things) Russian government meddling in the 2016 US prez election.

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  7. “…It would be interesting to hear what you all think…”

    And we are happy to oblige 😉 It’s going to be hard to make it concise, but here’s the best effort. First I list the points, the discussion follows below.

    1. Truly, the heart of Bogomolov’s opus is this:

    “Чувства и мысль всегда были приватной зоной человека. Он не имел права распускать руки, но сердце и мозг его были вольны. Таков был негласный общественный договор европейской цивилизации, понимавшей человека как сосуд эмоций и идей, где ненависть — иная сторона любви — пусть сложная и опасная, но необходимая и важная часть человеческой личности.”

    This is why Novaya published it. This is why it caused so much resonance: this statement is what many thinking Russians – conservatives, liberals and libertarians alike – will probably agree with to a large extent.

    2. What you got right in your analysis:

    “… what Bogomolov really hates is something different: namely, he hates being told that he can’t say that he hates them.”

    Spot on. You nailed it.

    3. What you got (mostly) wrong:

    “Instead, he complains that ethics are an inconvenience that get in the way of people’s freedom. The fact that the West is trying to enforce some ethical standards is proof that it’s really just Nazism 2.0.”

    It’s not really about the ethics itself. It’s about the implications one faces for criticizing this ethics. But more on this below.

    4. What you’ve missed:

    You seem to have a somewhat weaker grasp of how Russian liberal/conservative/libertarian thought – and associated ethics – changed and progressed during Soviet times. No wonder, cause most of it never got published: all the developement happened in private living rooms and kitchens. What you get from reading Solzhenitsyn, Saharov and others published in the West is woefully incomplete.

    Discussion.

    1. During Soviet times, and up until now, many in Russia believed that what Bogomolov described in the excerpt above (point 1) was essentially the guiding principle of Western civilization: freedom of speech, freedom of expression. In free Europe, one is free to say what they think, no matter how unortodox, how contrary to common wisdom, and yes, how obnoxious. You could say it (or sing it or paint it) and continue to live unmolested, keep your job, and not worry about “разборы на партсобрании”, or worse. There simply was no thought police in the free West.

    Now they see the West rejecting this principle. Even steadfast “западники” see it, to their endless bewilderment and chagrin. And this is what Bogomolov’s article and all the buzz is ultimately about.

    2. That’s right. Bogomolov does insist that this is an important aspect of the principle described in point 1. Free to love, free to hate, free to talk about it. Not free to physically attack, to fire people from jobs, or to cause them any other actual inconvenience (e.g. threaten physical harm, stalk, “cancel” etc).

    3. Why “mostly” wrong: certainly, there is a possibility that Bogomolov is, at heart, just a dim-witted teenager. But barring that, “complain[ing] that ethics are an inconvenience that get in the way of people’s freedom” is unlikely to be the gist of it. However, there is one rather perverse aspect of Russian liberal/libertarian thought that took particularly ugly shape during late Soviet times – which brings us to point 4.

    4. There is much discussion as to how “oppressive” the intellectual climate was in Soviet Union. I was there during the very late stage, when it wasn’t too oppressive, but there was still a lot of talk about supposed oppression. In this athmosphere, a weird dark cult flourished of the West as an exuberant dog-it-dog world, where money is king and ethics are irrelevant; where it’s morally permissible, even laudable, to shamelessly exploit people for any and all weaknesses; where laws and law enforcement are there for protection of the glorious elite – brilliant, sophisticated and rich – from the dark masses of hateful Commie proletariat.

    Hence “совки”, “ватники” and all the familiar vocabulary of modern Russian “liberal elite”; hence the believable myth of Chubais with his indifference to the deaths of 30 million compatriots on the altar of reforms; hence all you’ve read, and didn’t like, in Gubin’s article.

    So what is touted in the West as Russian “liberal elite” definitely has this dark side: they are unabashedly elitist, and they believe in privilege as their God-given right.

    I briefly considered finishing with “ultimately, not much has changed since 1917”, but that would have been completely wrong. The vector changed. It’s opposite now.

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      1. Sure. I meant the moral vector of the opposition/revolutionary elites vis a vis “narod”, the people. If you are interested in Russian history, you’d likely have heard of “narodnichestvo”, a movement that gained traction among Russian intelligentsia in the 2nd half of 19th century. If you haven’t, there’s a Wikipedia article https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narodniks.
        I do not endorse the misguided beliefs and methods of the radical narodniks, however, the moral aspect of the movement’s attitude towards the common folk – the peasants, the workers – can be described as a sense of duty, with a tinge of guilt for their privilege.

        Today, this kind of moral attitude is all but non-existent among Russia’s liberal elite. On the contrary, if you carefully analyze the pronouncements and writings of the technocrats who currently run the state, you’ll sense it. So the situation is reversed.

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    1. “many thinking Russians – conservatives, liberals and libertarians alike”

      A person, who unironically uses such terms as “thinking Russians”, let alone include in their ranks “Russian” “liberals”, libertarians and “conservatives”, deserves to be mocked. If anything, recent history did prove without doubt the veracity of Lenin’s words, and that them messers liberals, conservatives, libertarians (in short – cargo-cult worshippers of the West) are not the nation’s brains – their it’s shit.

      “1. During Soviet times, and up until now, many in Russia believed that what Bogomolov described in the excerpt above (point 1) was essentially the guiding principle of Western civilization”

      Important clarification – among the ranks of the intelligentsia, and not all of it to boot. I know, it goes without saying, that neither Professor, nor you, Lola, count the vast majority of the Russians as the, well, “people” and pay any attention to what they think. I’m just making something “unspeakable” for you, liberals, stated out loud and clear 🙂

      ““complain[ing] that ethics are an inconvenience that get in the way of people’s freedom” is unlikely to be the gist of it.”

      […]

      Ahem.

      […]

      During one of his theatric productions, Bogomolov appeared on the stage starknaked, covering his genitals with a newspaper.

      The only difference between him and, say, Kirill Serebrennikov, is Sobchak.

      “4. There is much discussion as to how “oppressive” the intellectual climate was in Soviet Union. I was there during the very late stage, when it wasn’t too oppressive, but there was still a lot of talk about supposed oppression.”

      Dear Lola! In previous comment section you were claiming, and I quote:

      “You lost me at “Ogonyok” remark. I was too young to read it during Perestroika I guess

      When did you lie – now, or then?

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      1. Being there and reading Ogonyok are not the same thing. Late elementary- middle school age, being curious and having a good memory, affords you a nice vantage point, cause people don’t hide from you.

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      2. PS I seriously don’t get what you are bitching about. I essentially channel a similar attitude, just being more polite and less combative. Cherry-picking for ambiguous wording is not a good strategy to prove your point.

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  8. I think it is important to remember that Bogomolov is an artist (and one with a history of pushing bounderies). He values creative freedom above all else. His manifesto it neither political nor ethical in essence. He is simply alarmed at the way artistic freedom is increasingly bowing down to political and ethical agendas in the west. This is not about flouting a laisser faire , everything goes vision of society and morals.It is about leaving the artist with the freedom to work within any ethical framework he choose and for the spectator/ viewer to decide for himself wether he suscribes to the work or not.

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      1. True. But the resonance it caused in the society proves that it’s perceived relevance goes far beyond artistic freedom of expression.

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  9. This quote of a quote from the Professor’s RT article which, by the way, I thought was quite good:

    I loathe the spirit of violence and the atmosphere of fear [in Russia]. But that doesn’t mean that I accept the transformation of the country of prison guards and slaves into a country where … multicoloured (including white) Schwonders from BLM enter houses and demand that the professors kneel down, share their living space and give money to help the starving Floyds.”

    Bogomolov’s manifesto is more complex than just a single issue, of course, but I focus on this issue of the racial component. Because I happen to know (from other readings and perusal of Russian Liberal press) that this factor, even more than the gay factor, is important in the birth of Russian Liberal contempt for the U.S.

    For example, during the height of the summer BLM rights in the U.S., Russian thinkers (both Liberal and Conservative) were shocked to the core by the scenes (mostly of the excesses) they saw in the Russian press. I remember reading (can’t find the link, sorry!) a piece in which Sobchak herself lamented how the “barbarians” had burnt down some of her favorite stores on 5th Avenue in what she called “her beloved America”. O my poor Gucci! Wealthy Russian Liberals, by the way, think nothing of just hopping onto a plane, on a whim, and flying to New York City just for the day. To shop.

    In other words, Sobchak and Bogomolov are honest-to-god racists, in addition to other things. His dismissal of a “starving Floyd” says it all. The Floyd in question being some ordinary American schmuck who was murdered in slow motion by a maniac cop. Sobchak and the others made it clear in their articles and posts that they absolutely despise African-Americans, the one thing that could never accept about their “beloved” America is that it truly is a multi-racial society and contains quite a lot of these sorts of people, whom they despise.

    And yeah, I don’t condone the BLM excesses or making people take the knee, I argued against that on my blog, I personally would never kneel to anybody (I’m not a Ukrainian!), and I don’t believe in that myself; but that’s different from the way the Russian Liberals believe in the American system, and how they adore the American elite, and feel only contempt for ordinary people, especially ordinary blacks.

    Sorry, just wanted to highlight that one issue in a myriad of others…

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      1. Thanks, Lola! It’s so obvious, reading Russian op-eds and opinion-influencers, that most of these people (especially the Sobchak types) do not respect African-Americans at all, as an ethnic group. I have seen otherwise serious analysts opining how American blacks receive every sort of monetary hand-out (“posobie”) from the government, and yet the greedy ingrates still go out and burn shit down. I don’t know how many times I have tried to point out that “welfare checks” in the U.S. ceased going out already back in the Bubba Clinton regime.

        And yet Russian Liberals (and also Russian pro-Trump conservatives) keep repeating that myth, which is straight out of Ronald Reagan’s election campaign, with the image of the black “welfare queen” driving her Cadillac to pick up her government check. And well-to-do American whites are outraged: “We have to work for every penny we get. Whereas people like HER….” Now it’s the Russian kreakles repeating those myths. Except now the Welfare Queen and her Cadillac are on the way to burn down the Gucci on 5th Avenue!

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      2. The points Lola and you are making may be entirely correct, but are not relevant to the the essence of Bogomolov’s manifesto.
        And the stir it has caused in Russia is also unrelated to his central theme. For the Moscow liberals, any implication that anything in the West might not be an ideal for Russians to look up to, is like showing a red rag to a bull.
        The discussion becomes all about how much worse russia is for its failings on the rule of law or for the absence of political freedoms…But from the Bogomolov the artist’s point of view, there is nothing more important than creative freedom and in that respect the points he makes are entirely valid. You can disagree but the argument has to be about the limits some may feel can or should be imposed on artistic freedom.

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    1. And yeah, I don’t condone the BLM excesses or making people take the knee, I argued against that on my blog, I personally would never kneel to anybody (I’m not a Ukrainian!), …

      I am German, and I appreciated Brandt’s gesture at Warsaw. I would also have appreciated iif he had he taken a knee anywhere in Russia. Look, I am more than aware that it cannot be compared. …

      But that may be why I was a bit puzzled about the huge controversy triggered by Kaepernick’s taking a knee instead of sitting during the national anthem …

      I would appreciate a link.

      It is a tradition in the United States to play “The Star-Spangled Banner”, the national anthem, before sporting events.[13] According to the United States Code, those present should stand at attention with right hand over heart.[14][15][16] National Football League (NFL) players were not mandated to be on the field for the playing of the national anthem until 2009.[17] In 2016 the NFL stated that “players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem”; its game operations manual reads that players “should stand” for the anthem.[18]

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      1. Hi, Moon,
        Well, as Herr Einstein said, “everything is relative”, so maybe sometimes it’s okay to take the knee, and other times not. Maybe I shouldn’t be so dogmatic about it. I would certainly love to see certain politicians and war criminals get down on their knees and apologize to their victims!
        🙂

        As for the Kaepernick thing, that is slightly different, I think, because he knelt for the national anthem, which was considered revolutionary at the time, because Americans are trained, like Pavlovian dogs to stand up straight and put their hands over their hearts, to express their undying patriotism. All the while mouthing the words and even weeping, if they can force the tears of rapture out.
        So Kaepernick doing the “opposite” is what made this radical. And then they started making cops kneel to black protesters, which I thought was kind of cool. A sort of “carnival” reversal of roles, even if as pure theater.

        But then, in my opinion, things started going too far, when certain black nationalist elements insisted that all white people, not just cops, should kneel to them. These were just excesses though, not widespread, although if you were to read RT America they made it seem like it was happening on every block. My personal position, if it ever came to that (which it didn’t) was that I would not kneel to BLM because (a) I didn’t do anything wrong and was never involved in their oppression, and (b) it also goes against the teachings of Martin Luther King who said, “Get up off your knees and rise up!”. Plus, I am not a Ukrainian, like I said.

        Now, if I had ever actually harmed someone, like accidentally run them over with my car, then I might consider kneeling to them and begging for forgiveness. Otherwise, no…. But that’s just my personal philosophy.

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      2. Re: “As for the Kaepernick thing, that is slightly different, I think, because he knelt for the national anthem, which was considered revolutionary at the time, because Americans are trained, like Pavlovian dogs to stand up straight and put their hands over their hearts, to express their undying patriotism.”

        ****

        Not just Americans. Many raised on a old school notion of showing respect for certain things. Somewhat reminded of when Putin said he admired McCain’s patriotism.

        Heck, I was raised on the notion of the right place and right time understandings. Don’t support the anthem protests at the 1968 Summer Olympics or when a Serb swimmer wore a Kosovo is Serbia T-shirt on the awards podium at a major event – despite my sympathy for Serbs and African concerns.

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      1. Thanks for the compliment, moon, I really appreciate it! Like I said, I work hard on my writing, trying to be a better writer, in the English language.

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    2. Re: ” I remember reading (can’t find the link, sorry!) a piece in which Sobchak herself lamented how the ‘barbarians’ had burnt down some of her favorite stores on 5th Avenue in what she called “her beloved America”. O my poor Gucci! Wealthy Russian Liberals, by the way, think nothing of just hopping onto a plane, on a whim, and flying to New York City just for the day.”

      ****

      In fairness, that can include some Russians who aren’t as antagonistic towards the Russian government. Nothing wrong with being outraged at the torching of any store doing legit biz.

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  10. My personal opinion, BLM is BS. Typical liberal sabotage, splitting people into ‘identities’ with bullshit (post-modern?) grievances against each other, grievances that have nothing to do with reality.

    I was watching the new movie about Fred Hampton, Chicago Black Panther assassinated by feebs. He was making alliances with various socialist organizations, with labor, with rednecks, with Red Guards and what-not — against the authorities. Even in this movie, released in 2021, it’s acknowledged, if very briefly.

    These days, it’s pretty much the opposite: BLM represents an ‘identity’ that allies with the authorities against other ‘identities’, people who are no different from them. ‘Divide and rule’ in its purest form.

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    1. Mao Cheng: Mostly agree. I think there were were initially some sincere voices in BLM who were outraged by the police brutality and launched the “defund the police” movement, which I believe has a positive goal. But the “movement” quickly got coopted by the Democratic Party establishment.

      Also, just for the record, I don’t support the torching of stores or businesses. I don’t condone any kind of vandalism, actually, not even graffiti, which I personally find appalling. I also suspect that FBI provocateurs have infiltrated BLM top to bottom and are probably responsible for a lot of the excesses. Can I prove it? No, but it fits in with FBI’s sordid history of infiltrating and corrupting spontaneous leftie movements, allude to cointelpro, etc.

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      1. “…who were outraged by the police brutality…”

        But the problem is, even the sincere voices are not outraged at police brutality, not really. They are only outraged at police brutality towards their ‘identity’. They wouldn’t give a shit about police brutality incidents where the others, the ‘privileged’, suffered. And those are actually a majority of police brutality incidents. So, it’s more like nurturing the victim mentality and perceived ethnic grievances.

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  11. IMHO time and again we have seen that absence of moral values is in fact a moral value in itself. It’s just different altogether, so, by extension, trying to express different moral principle to people oftentimes is no better than expressing the absence of one.
    Moral is one of the thing people in my country can and often do value very deeply, on par with family or patriotic values, and in that respect it is remarkable of Bogomolov (despite all of his twisted feeling towards his country) at least tries to express his views honestly. This proves, at least, that he has taken a side as opposed to large majority of liberals of the country who always take a side that promises better allowance.
    This distinction, as it appears, is something that right now tears the opposition apart as new instructions arrive from overseas. They are erratic, indirect, but very restrictive and punishing, they are mixed with other signals that are radically different from previous directions. As Professor has noted, a large part of liberal opposition is seeded with European right-wing ideology. Frankly, it seems like dreams of occupation, balkanization and establishment of several independent “small and efficient European countries” instead of rather left-wing idea of larger federation of states (that has been defeated at the dawn of new Russian state, see “1991 referendum”) – establish a core of opposition voices since time immemorial.

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  12. advice from a non Russian regarding how Russia should react to a coming “Biden assault” on Russia on all fronts: Ukraine, Syria, Armenia etc. etc..

    https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2021/02/14/new-american-regime-exact-same-challenges-for-russia/

    I at least agree with him on one point: Russia as part of the USSR had an identity: a Nation that still despite failings to create a “democratic” socialism – where democracy doesn’t just mean the same as in the west, some elections and then silence for the rest of time by the proletarians – showed the possibility of a different way to organize production and politics not in the interest of private ownership.

    Russia is what now? just another capitalist state without a national “mythology”. Takes the punches the NATO nations deal and bending over to take it without Vaseline? Why should its citizens have an interest to defend a Nation that in essence espouses the same neo liberal ideology of the unfettered market – with a few restrictions regarding “strategic resources”, led by a president who was somewhat successful in raising the living standards but still seems to be beholden to a multitude of oligarchs instead kicking their fat arses?

    I still mourn the incapacity of the USSR to reform itself towards a socialism that as an idea and practice that would have been worth defending by the citizens at almost all costs, instead of just caving in and accepting the US vultures called consultants and the wholesale of the countries assets to the not necessarily highest bidder.

    Maybe a lot of what I write are clichés, but that what it looked like to one to who perceives a socialist democracy as the only way to survive collectively on this planet.

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    1. It’s a pretty good piece, thanks for posting. But when Kirby writes “the next 8 years”, he seems to be making an assumption that Biden will have a second term.
      Nobody can see into the future, but a lot of American political analysts believe that Biden will most likely have only one term; and then, due to his inevitable failures, will be replaced by an outright fascist. (Not Trump, but somebody worse!)

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  13. Re the Never Ending Story:(it’s tough to write with a cat across your arm..):

    https://www.world-economy.eu/nachrichten/detail/comment-to-the-publication-of-steindl-and-colleagues-in-lancet/

    ” Firstly, it is worth mentioning the potential role of lithium in the cholinesterase inhibition. There is evidence that lithium inhibits cholinesterase activity in blood[4]. Thakar et al reported that the pseudocholinesterase activity of 54 patients with bipolar disorders (50% treated with lithium) was significantly lower than in 28 psychiatrically well subjects[5].

    «the biomarkers of the cholinesterase inhibitor» with chemical structure similar to nerve agents from the novichok group were identified in blood and urine sampled from the patient on the 18th day (September 6nd, 2020) after symptom onset (August 20th, 2020), hence the nerve agent was present in the organism of the patient on the day of sampling. Exposition to chemical warfare nerve agents requires an urgent and extensive decontamination, including local skin decontamination, hospital decontamination and personnel decontamination.”

    Biomarkers: “Even biomarkers that are statistically validated to be surrogates for a given clinical endpoint may not actually be part of the pathophysiological pathway that results in that endpoint. In some cases, there may be evidence that the biomarkers measure a process or product of a key pathway stage, but assuming this relationship in all cases risks mistaking correlation for causation.”
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078627/

    So no direct evidence was ever provided that “novichocks were found!

    To sum it all up:

    http://johnhelmer.net/the-navalny-case-the-berlin-doctors-the-lancet-the-hippocratic-ethic-of-doing-no-harm-versus-the-mengele-ethic/

    Like

  14. Maybe the reality is some strange combination of libertarianism and conservatism. It would be interesting to hear what you all think.

    Philosopher here, so I will respond generally. Liberalism is a complex concept with many different meanings and nuances, so what it means in any specific context needs to be defined, ideally operationally for that context.

    Russian “liberalism” is its own variety and within it it may take many forms. For example, broadly speaking American liberals, progressives, conservatives and

    Libertarians are all “liberals” in the broad sense of the term in social and political philosophy as a 18th century European phenomenon that inspired the founding of the US (which is modeled on the Roman republic rather than the direct democracy of Athens). As far as I can tell, Russia was never a “liberal” country in this sense, although some Russian elite previously attempted to Europeanize.

    But most importantly for social and political thought, distinctions need to be drawn among social, political and economic liberalism.

    If economic liberalism is equated with modern capitalism, then it is incompatible with political liberalism understood as government of the people, by the people and for the people, owing to class and power relationships that lead to oligarchy and plutonomy. As a result, paradoxes emerge in which liberalism becomes illiberal.

    This may account for the paradoxical aspect of Bogomolov’s and Gubin’s articles.

    Liberalism is about freedom and freedom entails responsibility and rights entail duties. This means that lines need to be drawn. Humans being diverse, there is disagreement over both how the lines should be drawn and who should draw and also what the relevant criteria should be. Moreover, humans not being homogenous in disposition, this is not an entirely rational inquiry. Reason and passion are entangled

    From the description above, Bogomolov’s and Gubin’s articles can be viewed in this light. Gubin is assuming that Russians are conservative (traditionalist) in disposition, while Bogomolov is reacting as a social conservative to what he perceives as the social libertinism of the West as policy. Like some other Russians I have encountered, he regards this as degeneracy.

    So it is about red lines and gatekeepers. Individuals, social groups, and societies differ on this. I look at it in terms of systems, with the world as an overarching social system, with civilizations, cultures and nations as subsystems, and with the family as the basic social unit made up of individuals as elements. Russkiy Mir, the Russian Federation, and Russia fit into this scheme — while playing a global role as a superpower owing to its military.

    Russia also occupies the heartland of the world island in Mackinder’s scheme that still dominates IR, geopolitics and geostrategy. This accounts for the Western push (chiefly US and UK) determination to dominate and suborn Russia, advertised as based on Western liberal internationalism, but really owing to the same old territorialism and power relations that have dominated history.

    From this vantage Bogomolov and Gubin seem to me to be outliers, as is Navalny, all of whom are entangled in paradoxes of liberalism in a particularly Russian way. I don’t see Russian liberalism going anywhere anytime soon given Russia’s civilizational disposition as a conservative society, and they appear to be at the fringe of what liberalism there is, centered in Moscow and St. Petersburg among the young. The West erroneously conflates this with “the opposition.”

    I would say that one of the chief aspects in this moment of the historical dialectic is the conflict between liberalism and traditionalism. It is going on among civilizations, within civilizations and within societies, This moment is not going to be concluded anytime soon. The wave has not yet begun to crest. This wave will determine much of what happens in this century.

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    1. Tom – all you say is very true. As it happens, I am currently in the middle of writing a book on Russian liberalism, which is turning out to be very tricky precisely because the lack of clarity of definition and the fact that different aspects of what of generally called liberalism mix and match in Russian history in different combinations and with things which are considered non-liberal, even illiberal.

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