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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Strange times

According to Der Spiegel, the company that makes the AK-47 has gone bankrupt. This is not because of the imminent fulfilment of the words of Isaiah 2:4 but because the Russian army stopped buying Kalashnikovs, and because of competition from cheap Chinese knockoffs. They dare not tell Mikhail Timofeyevich himself; at 92 the shock would kill him.

I draw no moral. I just shake my head at the sheer difference between the world as it is and the world as it used to be. If you had shown me the headline “the company that makes the AK-47 has gone bankrupt” in 1988, I would have assumed it was an unusually amusing randomly generated phrase.

4 comments to Strange times

  • Dave Walker

    Mmm. I don’t see this as a sign of the times, so much as a larger truth of economics.

    OK, the Chinese and others have been knocking out AK47 clones for decades, and simple market forces means that the (apparently better) Russian originals often aren’t available at a suitable price to desperate rebels. Other than issues of barrel wear (which means there will be a perpetual market for spares, which the Chinese can easily fulfil), assault rifles are durable goods; also, once a user has one, he / she typically won’t need another. Armies haven’t been growing appreciably since the end of the Cold War, either.

    Basically, Earth probably has all the AK47s it needs, by now. While it probably wouldn’t work (owing to number and diversity of factories involved), the only way the market could be revived would be to take a leaf out of the tech world’s book, and force a worldwide standards change by somehow halting the manufacture of 7.62mm ammunition, so that everyone had to move over to 5.56mm. In such circumstances, it would need to be seen how well the AK74 competed against other 5.56mm weapons on the old AK47 market…

  • CaptDMO

    It’s fairly basic economics. Although the AK “knock offs” aren’t just Chinese, it DOES seem to be their international reason d’etre. Complete with the whole “slave labor” meme.
    What a great cautionary tale for “skilled” labor folks, pursuing “durable” goods with their Union wage, yet
    all too familiar with the common ESL (U.S.) phrase “Welcome Mall-Wart Shoppers”.

    Market saturation? How many (American) institutions of “higher education”, especially Med and “humanities”, would be producing nothing but cobwebs without special “access” programs from the gub’mint Department of…um…Humanities? (Now “unexpectedly” purchasing 9mm hollow point ammunition in BULK in the US, BTW)

    Never mind the “Workers Party” irrational cheerleading for special “access” to “educating” children, by flooding the market with “protected” knock-off “licenced” public/private educators. But remember kids, those gub’mint “higher education” loans can’t be “strategically defaulted” like they could back when current “community activists” were “paying” for school.

    I seem to recall the phrases “Overwhelm the system”, and “Bread and Circuses” from somewhere!
    Food stamps, and (formerly FREE, now digitally metered, and taxed) “reality” shows.
    In fairness, it gives those “permanently disabled”, underemployed, “back pain” folk (graduates of the “yuppie flu” school) something to do between visits to the semi-legitimate “Maui Wowie” dispensary.

    For those who can no longer read, nay, actually produce contemporary samizdat-
    SEE: Idiocracy-The Movie
    It’s all there.

  • Steve P

    Out of curiosity, what are the Russian Army using now?

  • RRS

    @Steve P-

    Shovels, axes, work tools, tec. as a conscript labor force for a corrupt government.