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Thread: Russia Surrounded

  1. #31
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    brutal shock adjustment to a market economy
    this is the original sin as far as this whole story goes as far as im concerned.

  2. #32
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    im not getting mixed up in this thread though. bad vibes.

  3. #33
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    One thing that I think is often overlooked is just how fucked Russia is socially & demographically. Mortality rates & life expectancy were already in the red in the last years of the USSR (its 56 for men ATM) & alcoholism is/was endemic. Shock treatment in the 90's devastated the country. If you check out the numbers in detail, youre basically looking at the kind of casualty levels you'd expect to see during wartime.



    Oliver Bullough (who I have dissed here in the past for his Centrism) wrote a very good book on this - 'Last Man in Russia'. Take into account the fact that it's economy is about the same size as Italys, has become almost entirely dependent on energy exports and suffers from crumbling infrastructure and collapsed institutions... its basically a failed state by most metrics - hence the move into aggressive soft warfare & non-conventional power projection.
    Last edited by droid; 16-03-2018 at 10:43 PM.

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  5. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    this is the original sin as far as this whole story goes as far as im concerned
    that is exactly correct

    you should never kick your enemy when they're down unless you plan on finishing the job salting the earth style, which obv wasn't an option

  6. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by droid View Post
    One thing that I think is often overlooked is just how fucked Russia is socially demographically
    totally. I thought about mentioning all that as well.

    Iran has similar concerns afaik - inverted age table, dependence on energy exports, + a massive heroin problem (highest addiction in the world supposedly)

    it v much does go back to that original sin of shock treatment w/Russia tho

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  8. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannyL View Post
    Unsurprisingly, I agree with this. I think it's a false equivalence to compare the two, just because of the super-power status. Russia is a much more oppressive state by pretty much any metric - journalistic freedom in Russia is non-existent, and the heads of any organised opposition that looks like gaining any purchase tend to end up in jail if not killed - look at the fortunes of Alexi Navalny for an example. I kinda forget that not everyone has read up on the post-modern nature of Russian power projection - trolling as state policy, basically - as well as the endemic corruption and state-sanctioned violence - so threads like this always surprise me somewhat. A world with increased Russian power is one on a rapid downhill slide to fascism in my view. We can see what this looks like in practice in Syria right now.
    The US currently runs a for profit prison slave system which disproportionately targets blacks and the poor, its state security services snatches brown people off the street (including children and the terminally ill) for deportation or incarceration without trial, and regularly murders people with impunity and then exonerates the killers in kangaroo courts. It runs assassination campaigns against domestic activists and political dissidents, kills thousands in extrajudicial drone wars (including hundreds of civilians), tortures hundreds of people in secret black sites and then promotes the torturers to the highest offices, supports the worst dictatorships, is the biggest arms dealer in the world and regularly launches catastrophically dangerous and destabilising interventions.

    Russia is appalling, there's no dichotomy here, but I would suggest that the reason one doesnt view a world with ascendant US power as on a downhill slide to fascism is because we're not on the receiving end.

  9. #37
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    all true, but despite that + even w/Trump the U.S. is still much more a nation of laws than Russia, and less of a failed state

    (ironically due in part to its continuing ability to attract mostly non-white en masse immigration to offset Europe/Japan style demographic crisis)

    all empires have been based on oceans of blood + misery, the U.S. is no different, the blood is just more sublimated (for some)

    highly doubt greater Chinese hegemony will be an improvement, or any other future empire

    it is a positive that journalists can mostly operate here w/o fear of being murdered, there is at least the prospect of consequences for (some) abuses of state power, etc

  10. #38
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    I don't disagree you with Droid but I think Padraig is on the money though. I'd add that our laws, discourses of freedom etc are one of the things that's directly exploited and threatened by Russia's hybrid warfare. Background Russian campaigns have tended to highlight divisions and exacerbate already existing tensions i.e. running fake Black Lives Matters accounts and encouraging Black voters to disengage with the Presidential election, funding and agitating for every kind of far right party all over Europe. See in particular all the work being on Open Democracy about Russian money finding it's way to Aaron Banks and UKIP. I'm interested in ways in which the more democratic discourses and spaces can be expanded in our own societies rather than damning it all to hell as totally flawed.
    Last edited by DannyL; 17-03-2018 at 07:43 AM.

  11. #39
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    highly doubt greater Chinese hegemony will be an improvement, or any other future empire
    "it could be a lot better"

    "it could be a lot worse"

    is the crux of the conservative/progressive divide.

  12. #40
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    In condensed, clearer form - Truth, justice, human rights. Al these are public goods, even if their realisation in our societies is imperfect (to put it mildly). All three are under direct assault from the Russian state. Our failures to realise these values will worsen and deepen significantly as Russia gains more global influence.

    Syria is a case in point - the conflict says in bold terms, fuck legitimacy, power and a monopoly on violence is all that matters, and the conflict shows a continual weakening of any international attempts to mitigate this violence.

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  14. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by padraig (u.s.) View Post
    that is exactly correct

    you should never kick your enemy when they're down unless you plan on finishing the job salting the earth style, which obv wasn't an option
    You might have hoped people had learned from Germany 1919, but apparently not.
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  15. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by padraig (u.s.) View Post
    he should also thank Lawrence Summers et al for midwifing the brutal shock adjustment to a market economy + allowing Putin to swoop in as a savior reining in the chaos
    Is there a good or recommended account of this? I've read a bit about current day Russia but not so much about the collapse of communism and what followed. Will be checking out the Oliver Bullough book Droid mentioned.

  16. #43
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    Putin is a monster there is no doubt there, 1/4 - 1/3 of the population were killed in the Chechnyan wars and even a glance at the details there is utterly devastating, its on par with Vietnam except on a much smaller scale, but that said.

    Syria is a case in point - the conflict says in bold terms, fuck legitimacy, power and a monopoly on violence is all that matters, and the conflict shows a continual weakening of any international attempts to mitigate this violence
    This is essentially the story of US foreign policy since the Monroe doctrine.

  17. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannyL View Post
    Is there a good or recommended account of this? I've read a bit about current day Russia but not so much about the collapse of communism and what followed. Will be checking out the Oliver Bullough book Droid mentioned.
    Two books which give contradictory accounts, Klein's shock doctrine and Kotkin's Armageddon Averted, both worth a read.

    There's also some fantastic writing on the various post soviet conflicts Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Chechnya & the various Georgian conflicts. My old mucker Naphta did an entire album of sample collage based on Russian foreign policy in the 90's and bombarded me with stuff at the time. I can second most of his recommendations here:

    http://www.d1.ie/democracynow/?page_id=460

  18. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by droid View Post
    Two books which give contradictory accounts, Klein's shock doctrine and Kotkin's Armageddon Averted, both worth a read.

    There's also some fantastic writing on the various post soviet conflicts Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Chechnya & the various Georgian conflicts. My old mucker Naphta did an entire album of sample collage based on Russian foreign policy in the 90's and bombarded me with stuff at the time. I can second most of his recommendations here:

    http://www.d1.ie/democracynow/?page_id=460
    Thanks - I've read Shock Doctrine but have managed to forget most of it. Going to delve into the recommendations now.

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