EDITORIAL: The Eternal Russian Mystery


The Eternal Russian Mystery

Russia has been famously described as a riddle wrapped in mystery surrounded by an enigma.  And the fundamental question foreigners are always left with having dealt with Russians is:  “Is it dishonesty, or stupidity?”

Which one, for instance, would make Vladimir Putin say “that Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president of the U.S. four times in a row, and that didn’t damage the U.S. Constitution.”  Is Putin really such an ignorant ape that he doesn’t know Americans immediately changed their Constitution after FDR passed from the scene, concluding his bid for power was outrageous and dangerous?

Which one would make Putin ask a British reporter:  “Who do you think was worse: Cromwell or Stalin?”  Is Putin really oblivious of the fact that while Cromwell’s civil war in England may have cost 125,000 lives, Stalin’s reign of terror cost 20,000,000 or more?  Does Putin really see fighting against dictatorship and fighting to impose dictatorship as being the same? Does he really think that because Hitler murdered millions, it’s just fine for Stalin to do the same and Stalin can’t be criticized?  Or is he simply engaged in vicious, dishonest, neo-Soviet propaganda?

Robert Skidelsky, who heard Putin’s entire set of remarks containing these at this year’s Valdai Discussion Club dinner with Putin, summed up the content of Putin’s remarks bluntly:  “He didn’t say anything forward-looking.”

In other words, because Putin’s government has met total failure and is now absolutely stymied by its inability to address Russia’s problems, Putin is returning to neo-Soviet propaganda to distract attention from those failures.

Take, just for example, Putin’s budget deficit.  Even as Putin was blabbering his ignorant, dishonest gibberish it was being announced that the deficit had mushroomed 20% in just the last month, up to 646 billion rubles in August from 539 in July.  Russia has entered a period of long-term deficits which will require extensive borrowing and therefore even more dependence on foreign economic growth. Yet Putin’s policy has been to attack and destroy those same foreigners at every turn, and this fundamental contradiction is now biting Russia hard.

What we see from Putin’s Russia is depressing and tiresome.  The regime ignores reality, just as the USSR always did, instead of a crazed euphoria of propagandistic lies.  It ignores serious problems rather than reforming, and it languishes in failure.  Ultimately, this policy will lead once again to national collapse and ultimate despair.

67 responses to “EDITORIAL: The Eternal Russian Mystery

  1. FDR was a wartime president during his final term.

    As in World War time.

    @Does he really think that because Hitler murdered millions, it’s just fine for Stalin to do the same and Stalin can’t be criticized? Or is he simply engaged in vicious, dishonest, neo-Soviet propaganda?

    No, he’s just a little but notorious gangster. Some speeches by violent criminals are hardly the worst they do.

  2. We are probably better off with Putin’s failed gangster state. Really good leadership would increase Russian power. A weak Russia is for the best.

    • Not really. Something like Japan now (modernized, peaceful, rich) would be better for everyone involved.

      • I still can’t see the numbers prooving that Russia under Putin and Medvedev lost anything in terms of economic development.

        Would be really thankful if anybody comes out with the clear and real numbers for the Russian economy breakdown under Putin.

    • We live in a same world with Russia, well I mean, physically :-) So no failed and barbaric states with civil wars in them are welcomed. Think of Somalia. Another example is imagine you are suddenly forced to live near ghetto full of gangs with constant killing and skirmish. Definitely not a good neighborhood.

      • Somalia had no resources and little infrastructure when it collapsed into chaos in 1990. And the collapse happened because the downfall of communism there was due to the violent revolution, not the mostly peaceful transition as in Russia.

        (Somali revolutionary factions than started to fight each other for the capital as the warlords (like in Afghanistan after 1992), or just simply seceding from the country otherwise (Somaliland and Puntland).)

        But Russia’s starting position was actually better than, say, this of Poland (which was in very deep economic and political crisis too, with the basically same economic and political system when it crashed and burned, but with no huge reserves of valuable resources). And yet the Russians then screwed their own country, and their own countrymen, while Poland is now somehow NOT a ridiculously corrupt and literally war-torn blood-soaked hellhole of alcoholism, brutality, poverty, misery and fresh mass graves filled with the “disappeared” people, also not constantly threatening and occasionally even invading the neighbouring countries.

        It’s also because the Polish presidents did not sent the tanks to shell the Sejm, or airplanes to bomb the former city of Stalinogrod ( http://www.silesia-online.com/89,stalinogrod_-_post-war_history_.htm ).

  3. They have $21 billion of deficit, but $461 billion of reserves. I fail to see why they cannot pay off one with a small part of the other!


    • Actually most of that is gone already.

      Into the pockets of the KGB no doubt.

      • Just like the US debt has gone, sunshine?

        • Guys, pick up some fundamentals of economics before discussing these matter, honestly, Sam – its budget deficit, not trade deficit and not external debt. Russia is paying it using the Reserve Fund. Andrew, most of what is gone already? Sam is quoting the actual balance of reserves. Dmitry, wouldn’t you borrow if they lent you and while you were in charge when and how much to return?

          • Sure, any state would borrow, if needed. A reasonable state leader would have a 2% budget deficit, and have it until a state reaches a debt (state+public) 40-60% of GDP. You get investitions, you develop faster, that’s obvious.

            But the problem is:
            1) US borrows too much (because 43 000 per citizen, including every ghetto person, *is* much).
            2) US does not borrow investitions, i.e. resources for producing goods, it just buys ready goods from China. So that’s not good for the US economy. It’s just they live in credit.

            • So what? If you lend $43K to a ghetto dweller, soon you will know its your problem, not necessarily the ghetto dweller’s problem. Especially if you lend in dollars and the ghetto dweller has a machine to print them… and he is twice as strong as you are…

      • Russian reserve fond (“Stabfond”) was divided into “Reserve fond” and “National welfare fond” in 2008.

        Around 2007..2008 there were many mentions of Stabfond in press but after economic crisis hit Russia they almost disappeared. What’s strange about it, press usually mentions the first part of divided fond — newely established Reserve fond which, citing them, is almost empty to date and certainly will be at the end of 2010. But I wasn’t able to find something new about National welfare fond.

        At the time of division in 2008 Reserve fond held 125 mlrd USD and National welfare fond held 32 mlrd USD.

        P.s. I got it why I was unable to find some new information. “Putin restricted to announce any information on both Reserve and National welfare fonds up to 2012.” http://tinyurl.com/2uju8t8

        P.p.s. Here seems to be information about National welfare fond before restriction took place. http://tinyurl.com/yj8mqsx

        It appears all of them will be soon empty or stolen.

    • Because they actually don’t have it?

      Transparency is not something the Russian “elites” are very good at, you know.

  4. And we have a nice-looking picture in our pocket, of course.

  5. Dmitry:

    Russians put up with corruption. Notice that Americans fight back right away.

    First the useless Republican old guard — OUT!!

    Then the dirt bag Democrats — OUT!!

    • Ron, note that the image actually said the US has the Public Debt of $ 13,447,014,932,502.43 (which is $43,500.45 per citizen).

      And is not dedicated to corruption.

      • Dmitry, with all due respect, do you think this is the problem of Americans or of those who lent $44K to each US citizen?

        • Well, both, actually. When one can not support his own needs without borrowing from other, he’s in trouble.

          • Yes, both. So both the lender and the borrower will do their absolute best to keep this situation going for as long as possible. Its not sustainable in the long term, we are all dead in the long term…

            • Well, yes, the fundamentals are corrupted, and economy is not utimately controlled by any certain power group, like borrower’s or lender’s government. It is controlled by the mass psychoogy. It’s like a school of fish – when several fishes feel danger, all the school breaks, and when the school breaks, all the fishes feel danger.

  6. I am confused again. The picture shows all of Africa, all of Latin America and much of Asia in yellowish-green. So why are certain special interest groups always proposing forgiveness of Third World debt? Per this picture, there doesn’t seem to be any!

    • Their debts are nothing compared to the West’s, yes, but their GDP is less than nothing. They will have to work years to repay their 1Bn USD debts. US makes a debt like this in seconds, but it has much higher GDP to repay it with.

      Of course if it costs you 10 seconds of work to forgive another’s debts for 10 years, it’s a very good occasion to do some publicity around. That’s why you hear so much about West forgiving debts.

      The real issue is China has no intention to forgive the West’s debts…

  7. Dimitry:

    You have it correct. You sound like the Tea Party.

    However, we are doing something about it. The Russian people are doing very little except for the brave few.

  8. AT:

    There should be tens of thousands of demonstrators on the streets of major Russian cities. There is safety in numbers. But instead there are only hundreds. It is impossible, because of the state of communications in this day and age, that the importance of freedom has escaped the minds of Russian people.

    One must conclude they just do not care or as your number one choice suggests: They are too stupid.

    I know an American immigration attorney that says that Russian women are quiet and beat down, but the men are loudmouth, cheap mafiosi types that make a living stealing cars. The attorney personally likes Mexican people, but personally hates Argentines and Russians.

    • @There should be tens of thousands of demonstrators on the streets of major Russian cities. There is safety in numbers.

      Except when people calling themselves “the government” roll out their tanks to the streets of Moscow. Then there may be no safety.

      The soldiers in 1991 refused to shoot on the people. However the soldiers in 1993 were robotic.

      Flashback to the better days:

    • Well, Ron, when you say there should be thousands on the streets, you actually imply that:

      1) Americans would come in numbers on the streets to overthrow the authorities would they live in Russia,
      2) Russians behave absolutely different and do not protect their rights,
      3) Russians are inferior to Americans.

      As to your “American immigration attorney that says that Russian women are quiet and beat down, but the men are loudmouth, cheap mafiosi types that make a living stealing cars. The attorney personally likes Mexican people, but personally hates Argentines and Russians.” – I would say he is too talkative for a racist. I Russia he would end up fined and thrown out of the work for such bold statements..

      To explain what I mean, I’ll rephrase:

      “German official says that Jewish women are sly and mean, and men are scheming, vile scoundrels that make a living stealing from the European working class. The official personally likes German people, but personally hates Jews and Gypsies.”

      I hope that this is not the time of “one friend of my” actually meaning “me”.

      • Thanks God we live in America and not in Russia, where a person would not be fined for exercising his right to say what’s on his mind. About “thrown out of work,” it depends.

        • “US official says that Latino women are fat and nasty, and men are brainless, petty criminals that make a living robbing the law-abiding White Americans. The official personally likes WASP people, but personally hates Niggers and Latinos.”

          Go write a book about the “person’s right to say what’s on his mind” in the US. And what is and is not racism in the US.

          Or better stand on on E4st in Santa Ana, and speak out of loud the claims above.

          • There are plenty of people in the U.S. openly saying and publishing unpopular things all the time. I never heard of any of them being fined or jailed for doing that. What’s your point?

            • RV, I don’t think Dimitry questions the right of speach in the US. He is implying certain extra-judicial raminfications, I understand… and we both emphasize how people of Ron’s type just love this blog…

            • RV, your friend is Nazi. this has nothing to do with freedom of speech.

    • Ok, Ron, what other nations are below your level intellectual requirement? What the Chinese who don’t rebel against an outright dictatorship? What about Indians most of whom live in muck — quite literally? What other stereotypes of your racist lawyer friend do you share?

  9. AT:
    I see that you have bought into modern B.S about race. This comes from the left who have a taste for low company and then claim everybody is equal.

  10. AT:

    [1] Mexican people work hard in the fields and send their earnings home to support their families. This is not “low”.

    [2] Certain lower class black people chided hard working black people [who were my friends] and said they were “going white”. Low class blacks are “low”.

    [3] The peoples of the world are not the same. I once read a diplomatic report on Kurdish peoples that ended, “and they are trigger happy”.

    [4] Taken in proper context, “racism” is a valid description of peoples.

    [5] The “we are all equal” crowd are incorrect.

    • Bravo! You like this blog, don’t you? By the way, what about the Jews — for many centuries they were considered “low”, because they charged usage on loans? Hitler say they were too low to live in Germany, then that they are too low to live at all. What nations deserve the same fate in your view, Ron?

      • Ron, I’d rather be in the “all men are created equal” crowd than in the same crowd as you. The man who wrote this had intelligence and taste.

  11. Go ahead and delete it LR. Not relevant.

  12. AT

    You stated it wrong. All men are equal before the law in a society that respects laws. All men are not created equal because of different abilities.

  13. Well Ron, if all men are not equal why should be equal before law? Shouldn’t there be laws and rights for those with higher abilities and laws for those with lower abilities? Shouldn’t “high society” nations be charged with defining laws for “low society nations” — purely for the benefit of the latter. Finally, shouldn’t there be people and ethnicities who even don’t deserve to be equal before law, and have to be eliminated? Oh, Ron!

  14. AT:
    Yours is Plato’s position I believe. That some of us are more “equal” than others. The law is supposed to be blind under our system. As for some being eliminated [good thinking] I would include those who fly airplanes into buildings.

    • I have not stated my position, just inquired about yours. I think, intrinsically, all people are of similar value. Most of them have roughly the same potential, although, for various social or physical reasons, most of us are prevented from realizing it fully. For this reason, everyone should have equal rights in a society and be equal before law. Accordingly, I do think racism is wrong and ethnical hatred is wrong. Clear enough?

      • There are hundreds of barriers each society creates against fully realising person’s potential. Still it is really strange, to say the least, position to say that people of different nationalities have different abilities…

        • Its not strange… its racism pure and simple, but for Ron “taken in proper context, “racism” is a valid description of peoples”.

          • I mean, it’s just not logical.

            E.g. one can claim a birch grown in Norway would be possibly weaker, because of the colder winters, than a birch from Germany, but making a conclusion that all German birches are inherently more strong would be wrong.

  15. There are people who dislike Jews claiming they were loud or would lend money at high rates, but I never could see what they were talking about. I did not see those objectionable traits. My only complaint about Jews is they should vote republican, but have a deathwish desire to vote for democrats who would happily destroy them. Republicans could use the votes because our women are pretty.

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