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The dark core around which Russia’s culture revolves

Kazakh expat Azamat Junisbai has some very interesting observations seeking to explain wide support in Russia for the war against Ukraine.

Russian society famously underwent extreme upheavals in the 20th century. Revolutions, World Wars, emergence and collapse of the USSR – the dizzying magnitude of change and disruption is hard to exaggerate. Yet, amidst all the turmoil, one part of the Russian worldview persisted.

The remarkably stable and enduring phenomenon transcending different historical periods and regime types is the self-conception of Russia as a great power that brings good to those around it and Russian people as bearers of superior culture and morality. Deeply internalized, the idea of its own benevolence has long permeated and shaped Russian society. In this narrative, unlike the old European powers guilty of ruthless colonial conquest, Russia is a selfless bringer of culture, prosperity, and order.

The view of Russia as a big brother bestowing its blessings on the lesser people around it is ubiquitous among Russians of all political persuasions. In this narrative, Russia’s neighbours are perpetually indebted to it. The relationship is always unequal.

The word “gift” features prominently. The gifts include Russian language, literature, music, and art. But also science and, even, modernity itself. Naturally, in this worldview, Russians are superior and those on the receiving end of Russia’s largesse are expected to be grateful.

Russia’s view of Central Asians is unabashedly and unapologetically racist, of the “we taught you how to piss standing up” variety. Russia’s long-standing view of Ukrainians is more complex but equally pernicious and condescending.

Highly recommended, read the whole thing.

32 comments to The dark core around which Russia’s culture revolves

  • Paul Marks

    A very one-sided view of Russia culture.

    But it is true that there was a dark side to Russian culture (as well as a very good side to it) even before the Marxist coup (backed by Imperial German Intelligence) in late 1917 – and the nightmare that went on in Russia (and the Ukraine and other lands) till the end of the 1980s.

    Russians are wounded people (spiritually wounded) – as some have told me “remember we are not descended from the murder victims – we are descended from the murderers”, “we are not descended from those Russians who heroically stood up and died for the truth – we are descended from the liars, or from those who went along with the lies”.

    But-all-this-is-true-of-Ukrainians-as-well.

    The one great difference between the Russians and Ukrainians is what might be called the “Mongol myth” – the myth that if only one great powerful ruler has been around the Rus (who later became Russian and Ukrainians – at the time they were one people) would have been saved from the savage (and it was savage) Mongol conquest and the centuries of torment (Hellish torment) that followed.

    Russians have been taught to believe this myth, the Grand Dukes of Moscow, later Czars of Russia, actively and deliberately pushed this myth. It justified their own actions – such as imposing serfdom on about half the Russian population (yes, the Marxists lie – serfdom was not due to the “mode of production” it was a series of laws passed by the Grand Dukes and later Czars, laws passed for largely military reasons, which was also the reason that serfdom was imposed in some Balkan lands).

    And the Cossacks (there are Russian as well as Ukrainian Cossacks) and others of Ukraine never fully accepted the myth.

    And it is a myth – as one great ruler would NOT have saved the Rus. The Rus lost (and went into centuries of Hell) because of the brilliant military organisation of the Mongols – having one great dictator would no more have saved the Rus than it saved the Persians or the Chinese.

    The rulers of Moscow and Saint Petersburg also attributed the reconquest of the lands all the way to the Pacific (once inhabited by their Indo-European ancestors – but lost to other peoples many centuries ago) to their own wisdom.

    Actually, it was free booting Cossacks (Cossack means free-booter in Turkish) who retook these lands – and indeed went further, almost all the way to San Francsico.

    The Czars took the achievements of ordinary people (in the 1700s and so on) and pretended that it was their own work.

    In reality it was very much “the Wild East” – the reconquest of lands by ordinary people, not by the supposed wisdom of the rulers of Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

  • Paul Marks

    Still, one must be fair – for example ethnic relations are better in Russia than they are, for example, in the United States. Such things as the new government racial bodies just (on Tuesday) voted into existence in New York City are unknown in Russia – and anyone proposing them would be laughed at (and rightly so). Essentially white people (already a minority in such cities as New York) are now to be second class citizens in such cities as New York – unless these new bodies are struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States. This would be like telling Russians that they are inferior group in Vladivostok or Moscow – they would not accept it, but Americans are so spiritually wounded in their own way (by the “guilt” ideology taught since the 1960s) that they seem to accept anything. And where New York (and other American cities) leads – London tends to follow.

    Nor is the education system and media “Woke” (i.e. Frankfurt School Marxist) in Russia – “Stalin” (a fake name – he was calling himself “man of steel” which was silly as he was a weakling) rejected the Frankfurt interpretation of Marxism – and taught the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to reject it.

    Back when he was a Marxist Mr Putin would have been (correctly) taught that the Frankfurt School interpretation of Marxism (with its stress on feminism, sexual perversions, “oppressed” races, the supposedly non-objective nature of science and engineering, and so on) can only destroy society – and must be opposed by all means necessary.

    And that is true.

    “But Mr Putin is a thief and a mass murderer” – yes he is, but if a thief and mass murderer (even “Stalin” himself) says that 1+1=2 (not 3 – as the Woke West claims) and that water is wet (not dry – as the Woke West claims) I am not going to argue with the truth.

    I hope Mr Putin’s regime falls – but I certainly do not want it replaced by the “Woke” (Frankfurt School of Marxism) madness one sees in the West.

    The “Critical Theory” (“Woke” Marxism) one sees in the West can only lead to the destruction of society – which was conscious and deliberate intention of Herbert Marcuse and the other thinkers who created and developed these doctrines.

    Getting rid of Mr Putin is the correct thing to do, his invasion of Ukraine was unjust, viciously unjust, and it was also incompetently managed. But Russia must avoid the “Critical Theory” madness (the “Woke” insanity) that has taken such a terrible grip in such countries as the United States.

    Russia must not go down that terrible road – which can only lead to destruction.

    In 1989, for all their imperfections, the United States and the United Kingdom (and so on) were still basically well-functioning societies – one could make a good argument that Russia (then under Marxist tyranny) should copy them.

    That is no longer true in 2022. The United States and United Kingdom (and so on) are not well functioning societies now.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the author of the article.

    He comes from Kazakstan, although he presently appears to be in California (a place that so many people are leaving – and they are wise to leave California), without Russia (for all the faults of Russia) Kazakstan would be absorbed by the People’s Republic of China – its natural resources (oil, gold whatever) spread among the over a billion (Billion) people in China, and if the population of Kazakstan (or any other Central Asian state) objected to this – they would be exterminated, and the West (which the Gentleman seems to have such a high regard for) would do absolutely nothing to stop this extermination.

    Indeed, it is one of the great faults of Mr Putin that he has tried to make a friend of the People’s
    Republic of China – the PRC is a threat to the very existence of Russia, and wiser Russians understand this. The PRC is not a friend (as Mr Putin foolishly believes) it is an enemy.

    As to my claim that the United States and the United Kingdom appeared to be well functioning societies in 1989 – I am very well aware that there were underlying problems and dark tendencies even then (very much so – I have never denied it, and was aware of the terrible dangers even at the time), but to the casual observer in 1989 such countries as the United States and the United Kingdom appeared to be well functioning societies – places that a free Russia (a Russia that had cast off the Marxist yoke – as it once case off the yoke of the Mongols and Tartars) should copy.

    No one, at least no one who is sane, would suggest that Russia should copy the United States or United Kingdom of 2022.

  • NickM

    Perry,
    Very true. There is a spectacular level of a Russian superiority complex. This might not be so bad if it wasn’t mated with a similarly spectacular victim complex. It is the infernal marriage of those two that makes Russia the danger it is. Russia is embarked on a righteous crusade in Ukraine but of course this is failing not because the Ukrainians are fighting back with skill and courage or that the Russian Army couldn’t get hand relief in a monkey whore-house if they turned up with a sack full of bananas.

    No… Russia is glorious so it has to be the evil conspiracy that is NATO etc preventing their righteous warriors from recreating the Great Russkiy Mir. It is the external evil that always thwarts the Third Rome. Never their incompetence (apparently up to 60% of Russian casualties are Red-on-Red) or the simple fact that places like Ukraine just don’t want to be run from Moscow. You simply cannot absolutely believe in a divine superiority and this not coming to be (and for Russia it hasn’t – ever) without descending into a state of utter paranoia.

    There may be glories of Russian Culture but the paranoid duo of a vital belief in superiority and the victimology that comes from that never working out is both what hampers Russia and also what makes people fearful of the country. They might just try to lighten up a bit.

    I have tried to read Russian literature – I wanted to shoot myself – but just closed the book and had a beer . My wife has read lots of it. Much of what I know about Russia comes from her. She has a degree in Russian, an MA in Russian translation and has lived in Moscow and Petersburg and has 20 years experience translating Russian for a living.

  • Paul Marks

    It is ironic that someone living in California, where children are brought in from other States (by order of the Governor of California – and without the knowledge of their parents) to be sexually mutilated, and where it is illegal for medical doctors to tell the truth about Covid and other matters (so much for the 1st Amendment) to their patients, is lecturing Russians about culture and civilisation.

    “That is what-about-ism Paul” – true, and Russia has many and grievous faults that must be tackled, the terrible wound in the soul (in the spirit) of Russians. But it is still an irony – and does need to be pointed out.

  • Paul, does it ever strike you that if people with actual first hand experience with Russian culture think it is utterly diseased, maybe you are the one who is wrong on this topic? Presumably not.

    And yes, your interminable comments are indeed riddled with whataboutery

  • Kirk

    The thing about Russia is that the people there keep choosing the same things. Stalin was really nothing more than a modern Ivan the Terrible, when you get down to it. Why is that style of leadership so often the default “go-to” for Russians?

    It’s consistent enough that you can reliably predict the course of future Russian politics, which are, yet again going to be summed up as “…and then, it got worse…” Whoever comes after Putin is likely to be the Lenin to Putin’s Nicholas II.

    The interesting thing is observing how Putin played the Russian psyche like a concert violinist playing a Stradivarius; everything he did played into their prejudices and their desire for the “strong man” to come riding in on a horse and save them. Where did that wind up getting Russia?

    Frankly, I’ll be surprised if “Russia” isn’t down to the Moscow Metro area by 2050. Maybe sooner. I suspect that the various parcels of land that the Tsar’s tore off of Imperial China’s moldering corpse are going to be going back under Chinese control, not least because most of the citizens there are ethnic Chinese, these days. All the other regions Moscow dragged into their imperial nightmare are going to peel off and do their own thing; I fully expect that Karelia and a bunch of other formerly-someone-else’s regions are going to be looking hard at the idea of rejoining the “old country”, rather than get dragged down into the morass that will be Putin’s legacy.

    I don’t know why he did what he did, but the “Russkiy Mir” of his delusion ain’t likely to eventuate. Indeed, I think it’s pretty likely that the mirage he perpetuated is evaporating as we watch, what with all the ethnic minority dead that carpet Ukraine. I think a lot of those people, who were formerly buy-ins to the fantasy are now strongly disabused of the whole idea. It’ll be interesting to watch. From a distance.

    Frankly, given Russian instability and nuttiness, I’d rather be doing it from, oh, say… Mars?

  • Poniatowski

    I think a lot of those people, who were formerly buy-ins to the fantasy are now strongly disabused of the whole idea.

    The buy-in was never all that strong the further east you go, at least outside the cities. Like the Kazakh author says, they’re well aware what the ethnic Russians think of them, but the reason Buryats & Yakuts are overrepresented in Russian army isn’t patriotism, it’s because they’re dirt poor. That’s why things Europeans see as common cheap items (washing machines) are carried off as loot from Ukraine. Asiatic ‘Russians’ aren’t deeply invested in bigoted orthodox Russia as an idea, the Buryats I met were all Buddhists, they just see themselves as powerless. If that changes because suddenly Moscow doesn’t look so strong after all, don’t be surprised if new independence movements pop up in the years to come. On the other hand, these places are cheap to buy off because they’re so poor, not to mention corrupt as hell.

  • Kirk

    It will all reach an inflection point, and once that happens, it will likely implode under the weight of the undeniable. Russians are historically creatures of the extreme; they don’t manage navigating the middle path very well at all.

    I suspect that the various regional governors that Putin has appointed will likely all wind up trying to emulate him. Either locally, or on the national scale; that will work out about like Hitler and his theories of splitting everything up and making them compete, a Putin-esque version of the Fuehrerprinzip insanity written across the steppes.

    I think you’re going to start seeing the regional governors begin to “go their own way” this coming spring. Most, if not all of the “regime security forces” lay rotting in their graves in Ukraine, or they’re collected up and stored in refrigerated box cars, waiting for someone to come claim them. This factor almost demands that the governors all take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to split from Moscow and do their own thing, and it will likely be because the center demands more and more from them. At some point, they’re going to read the handwriting on the wall, and that handwriting is going to say “Get out, while you still can…”

  • Stuart Noyes

    Russia has produced some amazing composers and ballet. But then so have most European countries. Invading peaceful neighbours is nothing to crow about in the 21st century. Neither is allowing an autocrat to gain power.

  • ethnic relations are better in Russia than they are, for example, in the United States (Paul Marks, November 12, 2022 at 2:07 pm)

    Even I, very aware of the racism of wokism, think this, to be defended, is positively demanding there be wokism in one’s racism. You could say the utter phoniness of communist anti-racism went past even the phoniness of the modern west, or you could say that, like some US liberals, they preached a lifestyle to their victims they had the sense or the self-love to avoid practising themselves. Putin continues in modern ways the communist tradition of trying to exploit the west’s absurdities. But to say that Russia’s more-old-fashioned racism, chauvinism, whatever you want to call it – like China’s carbon footprint – exceeds Britain’s past and present alike is a more defensible comparison.

  • 13times

    There’s an interesting and concise pamphlet/book called Russian Strategic Culture by Martii J. Kari. A former Finnish intelligence officer, he talks about Russian chauvinism, paternalism and generally how things in Russia have not changed for a very long time. The book is at archive.org and his lectures may be found on youtube. By the by, the youtube text to talk robot is annoying.

  • NickM

    Kirk,
    I’ll be watching from Titan. Yeah, that’s far enough. The state of Russia today is like Platonov’s “The Foundation Pit”. It was written nearly 100 years ago (not published until much later for obvious reasons) and is a satire on the Soviet system. The workers think they are digging the foundation for an epic new housing project. I think you can guess what they’re really digging…

    A strong element of Russian culture from before, during and after the Soviet era positively delights in their military losses. It’s like the labour theory of value taken to the level of the absurd.

    Russian military doctrine seems never to have read General George S Patton, “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making some other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”

    The number of Russians who have died in the last few months is astonishing. They have lost about as many men as the US did in ten years in Vietnam. All they have achieved is to vindicate Patton’s dictum. Dying for your country might be a form of glory but that isn’t the same as victory and in war warfare victory is what counts.

  • Kirk

    I suspect they’ve lost rather more than the US lost in Vietnam, possibly double or triple the numbers.

    The really interesting thing about Russian military “art” is how they’ve assiduously tried to turn it into a science; you go look at all the work they’ve done on their artillery tables, and you start to wonder about the sanity of the people who did the work. X number of rounds per meter in Y hours produces Z effect on the enemy… It’s full of all these formulae and tables that seem so thoroughly scientific that you’re seduced into believing that it really must be so.

    The thing is, nobody in the West would ever in a million years lay it out like that. War isn’t a science with repeatable effects like, say, chemistry. You may dump a whole bunch of artillery on some target, but if that target isn’t populated with people in the first place, or those people don’t react the way you expected them to, from your “historical norms”, you’re screwed.

    I’d label about nine-tenths of what I found in Soviet military doctrine as being based on pseudo-science rather than solid evidence-based military practice. Some of it is really amazing to go over, but it’s all based on circular reasoning and evidence. The phrase “Willing suspension of disbelief” comes to mind, in lot of places. You saw a ton of it in the Soviet effort in Afghanistan; wishful thinking in the same vein they managed their economy–If you produce enough, it’ll all work out. But, the problem is, the norms you picked don’t correspond to reality, and are really meaningless.

    Not that a lot of the equivalent in the West is all that much better. I’m often in awe at the level of sheer wishful thinking and delusion I find in a lot of what they do, like small arms procurement or counter-IED work. I could regale people with reams of anecdotes and evidence, but at the end of it all, the ground truth is it’s all self-delusion, all the way down.

    The Soviets dreamed all this stuff up, and it’s a lot like Lysenkoism with a military twist to it. You really cannot systemize a lot of the things they tried to do that with, and I suspect that they are finding that out in Ukraine. You can postulate all these wonderful theories about how it will all go down, but in the end? If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.

    I’d love to have been a fly on the wall for all the “staff planning” that was done prior to February 24th. I mean, I’ve done it with the US system, and that wound up bearing little or no resemblance to what we actually wound up doing in Kuwait and Iraq in 2003. We still managed to make it all happen, which was a testament to the immense power and flexibility of US logistics. Whatever the Russians did for the invasion of Ukraine has to have been ludicrously bad, delusional, or just plain not done, by anyone. I’m still in awe at it all, in terms of insouciant dismissal of anything the Ukrainians might have done in response. I mean, seriously… A country of 45 million or so, that you’ve promised to essentially commit ethnocide on, and they did it with 150,000 troops? With the sort of non-existent logistics and follow-on plans that they had?

    Insane. If the documentation on the planning ever comes out, it’s going to go down in history as the most self-delusional operational planning, ever. I think the Underpants Gnomes from South Park were doing most of it, to be quite honest. It’s like: Step one: Invade Ukraine. Step two: ??????? Step three: TOTAL VICTORY!!!!

    From what I can tell, that’s about what it must have looked like. Incredible.

  • Steven R

    I think the Russian Army has such an ingrained faith that Doctrine is THE answer to every field problem that when they encounter a situation the manual can’t provide a solution to, they just get vapor locked. It’s simply because their doctrine is the only acceptable answer, period, and going outside of that is truly inconceivable. So Russian officers literally cannot conceive of an answer that isn’t in the manual.

    Russian doctrine provided that if they did X, Y, and Z the Ukrainians would fold like a newspaper and when they didn’t, no one in Moscow knew quite what to do.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    Accepting as a given that Russians are racist …

    Aren’t we all, in some way? Sometimes, when you look into it, for reasons that make sense?

    Samantha Smith has every reason to not like South Asians of any kind, considering what Pakistanis did to her. A lot of women her age coming from places like Telford do and will be able to justify doing so for the rest of their lives.

    Jesse Jackson famously said and has disavowed saying that late at night if he felt like he was being followed and turned around and saw a white man, he was less afraid.

    We come from where and what we come from, and that colors how we think. I am biased against people who seem too nice. I grew up getting disappointed by nice people. I question their competence.

    I am also biased against people who are of the standard sort of intelligence. I wonder if they are the sort who Learn, or were merely Educated.

    Who are the Russians racist towards?

    Aleksandr Nevsky made obeisance to the Tatars/Mongols (I think the two peoples kind of flowed into one another) but fought the Swedes.

    Are Russians racist to the descendants of the Tatars and Mongols, who conquered them and demanded tribute for centuries but not to their neighbors to the west?

    Not that Russia has treated the Finns or the Swedes or the Baltic peoples well, but was that more of a long-standing and still-ongoing rivalry over the only border they could defend?

  • Kirk

    @Steven R,

    Yeah, that’s about the way I see it.

    The problem with war is that the idiots that command at the political level are all in love with the idea that the whole thing is predictable. Which it manifestly is not.

    What’s that famous line spoken by the Oracle at Delphi to Croesus of Lydia, when he asked about the advisability of invading Persia? “If Croesus goes to war he will destroy a great empire.”

    Turns out, the Oracle was correct. Croesus and Lydia were destroyed, however, not Persia.

    This is the fundamental reason that most professional soldiers who know their stuff are practical pacifists. We know better; you take a question to war, odds are you are not going to like the answer you get.

    The Soviets tried to reduce things to a predictable, reproducible science. War, being the province of the unexpected in the nation-state of chaos…? Yeah; you stand a better chance of putting the egg back together after you’ve made an omelet of it, eaten it, and then passed it.

    If Putin had asked me? I’d have said “Dude, I don’t care what the generals are telling you… Don’t do it.” Since I wasn’t asked, well… It’s entertaining to watch, in a macabre and totally sense of that word. It’s like watching a staged trainwreck; you know what’s going to happen, but you’re unable to take your eyes off the whole thing as it is happening.

    I mean, man… I knew the Russians had issues. I just didn’t know how many volumes there were. One has to wonder how the hell they’re going to survive this, let alone end it cleanly. This is the Winter War on steroids, and there ain’t no WWII Lend-Lease lurking in the background to help win the logistics battles they’re in.

    I’m hearing that there are supposedly 20 trillion (!!!) rubles spent on the Russian military since Putin took over. Given that, one has to wonder how much got siphoned off, and how many of those mega-yachts were paid for out of the military budget. You also have to wonder at what the political fallout is going to be, from all of that. I think that defeat in Ukraine is going to trigger an awful lot of secondary and tertiary effects in Russia, some of which are going to recoil on the rest of the world.

  • NickM

    No plan survives first contact with the enemy.

    Patton again was aware of this and it is standard NATO working that generals set the goals and field officers determine the means.

  • Jacob

    I didn’t read the whole article but it seems to me that the English had similar beliefs about a hundred years ago about the blessings of the British Empire. A belief that is not entirely wrong in my opinion. I have a different opinion about the “blessings” of the Russian Empire, though. But it is not so strange to find people believing in the advantages of their very own Empire.

  • Jacob

    Paul Marks:
    But-all-this-is-true-of-Ukrainians-as-well.
    Amen to that.
    And it is also true that the borderlands Russia conquered were taken mostly from other Empires (like the Chinese or German) which were no better than the Russians.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    The trouble is- Russia reminds me of America. The same belief that their civilisation is the pinnacle, and all others will follow them, if they know what is good for them. I read recently of a British consul who was harassed by an American woman, about the Indians (This was about one hundred years ago, when Britain had an Empire.). How were the Indians faring? “Great!,” he replied, “There are millions of them! How are the American Indians faring?”

  • the English had similar beliefs about a hundred years ago about the blessings of the British Empire.

    British, not English. And yes ostensibly in the late empire. But ultimately, regardless of what they said, unlike the French and their ‘mission to civilise’ (or indeed Russia & Russification), the British Empire was driven by commercial imperatives. British govt did not try to turn Malays or Ashanti into British people, they largely left them with their own local leaders and customs.

    Hell, India was conquered by the East India Company’s army rather than actual British Army. Jardine and Matheson were not interested in ‘civilising’ China or anywhere else, just forcing them into advantageous trading relationships.

  • Steven R

    Nicholas (Unlicensend Joker) Gray wrote: The trouble is- Russia reminds me of America. The same belief that their civilisation is the pinnacle, and all others will follow them, if they know what is good for them.

    That’s every major civilization. They all think they are the top of the cultural heap until the next one pushes them to the side. There are very few civilizations, especially successful ones, that have said “you know what, those people over there are better than we are.”

    At least until the Marxists got Westerners to hate the West.

  • Alex

    …it seems to me that the English had similar beliefs about a hundred years ago about the blessings of the British Empire. A belief that is not entirely wrong in my opinion. I have a different opinion about the “blessings” of the Russian Empire, though. But it is not so strange to find people believing in the advantages of their very own Empire.

    Indeed. This applies to many historic empires, probably to the point that it is just a truism about empire in general and not anything specific to the Russians. No doubt the Austrians thought their cultural beneficence was of great value to the Slavs and Magyar brought into their empire. The British were indeed exporters of cultural goods to the conquered nations too numerous to sensibly enumerate in a comment.

    Are the modern British anti-imperialist at heart, or have they simply come to believe that their own historic culture is of dubious value? I’ve met many people working for NGOs and non-profits that strongly dislike Britain’s imperial legacy yet ironically believe that their way of thinking should be pushed on the primitives in other countries. Get rid of whaling, animal husbandry of all kinds, are dismayed that people in far flung islands are adopting modern lifestyles arising from globalization. I worked for an environmental charity and in a morning catch-up meeting for the team one person expressed her horror and dismay that people were eating American fast food in a remote coastal area of Indonesia, five minutes later she mentioned that her husband had “nipped out for a cheeky Domino’s [pizza]” the night before, at the height of lockdown; she was equally hypocritical about lockdown, criticising the “idiotic” Welsh valleys people for going out for fake tan during lockdown while she frequently admitted to nipping down the shop for a chocolate bar or some other non-necessity. Personally I’m a live-and-let-live kind, so I had no negative opinion on the frivolities she considered necessary but I did note the hypocrisy which ran through the whole organization to a greater and lesser degree person to person.

    All this to say that although modern British people from ages 60 down are largely embarrassed and disdainful of the British empire and its legacy, they still are inclined to believe that the opinions they hold today should be spread widely and economic pressure and legislative force should be brought to bear on people all around the world to install the right kinds of belief and culture, those deriving from a technocratic class including themselves of course. It’s for their own good, don’t you know.

  • Kirk

    Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray said:

    “The trouble is- Russia reminds me of America. The same belief that their civilisation is the pinnacle, and all others will follow them, if they know what is good for them.”

    Not going to plump down with the usual idiots on this, but I would like to point out that all the rest of y’all are going to be nostalgically wishing for the pax Americana to come back, just as people miss the old pax Britannica.

    There are two intertwined things going on with this issue. One, you don’t get to the point where you can achieve and enforce a pax Whateverica without a certain degree of annoying self-confidence and outright arrogance. A diffident, self-effacing Britain would not have tried to erase the trans-Atlantic slave trade the way they did. Ya want things done, you need the hardasses who’re willing to do it. Period.

    Likewise, when it is all said and done, despite all the “evul” that the United States has done in the world, by comparison with what their rivals and successors would have and are likely to do? LOL… Y’all gonna be sad puppies when that finally happens, because the pax Sinica ain’t going to look anything like what the US did while it was on top. Assuming, of course, that China or Brazil do wind up on top after the US finally collapses into irrelevance.

    Other point? Look, asshole: I was in Iraq. I saw and verified a ton of “sanctioned” materials that were shipped into Iraq through intermediaries like Jordan. I have trusted friends that were on the inspection teams, who saw, handled, and documented literally billions of dollars worth of things that our good friends, the European “Allies” shipped in there to support Saddam. During the period of sanctions that they all signed up for, rather than let the US be meanies and cleanly end the Ba’athist regime.

    Likely paid for with the “Oil for Food” scam we got blackmailed into by the same parties that made billions exploiting it. I don’t know why Bush didn’t put all that crap out there for the world to see, but I suspect there was a quid pro quo–We didn’t lay out the evidence, and the Euro-weasels shut the hell up and got with the post-war program to rebuild Iraq. Which they did. It was amazing the amount of cooperation that suddenly occurred about the time that you first heard the very tiniest of trickles of what the inspection teams found come out, which were promptly stopped once the Euros started “cooperating”.

    Y’all Euros (not necessarily the UK, but there are enough UK citizens that join in on the whinging) have free-loaded since about 1945, constantly quibbling about everything the US did in all our mutual interests. The post-WWII world could have looked a hell of a lot different, and would have, without the US being the country it was. We could have easily put a nuclear weapon-enforced hegemony in place, and then built a real empire on the bones of your nations. Didn’t happen, did it? Instead, we went for a far more benign commercial empire not too different from what the Phoenicians did (compared, to say, Rome…). You got to do pretty much as you liked, subsidized for security and a bunch of other things by the US taxpayer. After, I remind you, that you got into that situation mostly through rank folly and misadventure. The US had little to do with the varied and sundry idiocies that led to WWI and WWII (although, I rather wish we didn’t have Wilson to look back on as eminence grise behind a lot of the ancillary Versailles issues).

    End of the day, everyone that bitches about the current world condition? It could be one hell of a lot worse, and would be, had anyone besides the US or the UK come out of the 1940s on top of it all. You might want to think about your likely situation in a world dominated by the Nazis, the Soviet Union, or the Japanese Empire from that era. I think you’re going to have a hard time making a case that much of anything would be better for you personally, or the world at large.

    I’m not much into the rah-rah patriotism BS, but I am a pragmatic realist. I know the wishful fantasies of the idealists for what they are: Unattainable outright stupidity. The world most of you “blame America” types want would never have come about, and never will. Instead, that which you constantly tear down is going to be missed, and you’ve got nothing to replace it with.

    The European theorists that suborned what they perceived as the “rah-rah America” by way of the Frankfurt School Gramscian “Long March” are mostly idiots who have no idea at all what they’ve done, and who have no earthly idea what will come after their success. All they know is destruction, and have no idea how to build anything at all, let alone anything successful and lasting. In a thousand years, the pax Britannica and the pax Americana are still going to be studied, and likely revered the way we look at Rome. The people responsible for destroying them both? Won’t be remembered, and instead, will be cursed by their descendants for the misery that their little programs brought on.

    The next few generations are going to be a huge mess, mostly because of all these things going away that are currently excoriated for not being utterly and absolutely perfect. The world runs on what can actually be accomplished, and that’s usually an ugly set of compromises. You don’t stop the trans-Atlantic slave trade by being nice guys.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Fan of Slackwire Clowns – November 13, 2022 at 5:17 am:

    Are Russians racist to the descendants of the Tatars and Mongols…

    The Krim Tatars got it in the neck from the Soviets, but in general Tatars have been assimilated. Rudolph Nureyev was actually Tatar, not Russia. He said his Tatar blood gave fire to his dancing.

    Many Russian aristocrats acknowledged or even boasted of descent from Tatar and Mongol khans. One Imperial general sent to negotiate a treaty with Persia circa 1820 told his hosts he was of Tatar descent, and reminded them of what his ancestors had done when they invaded 600 years earlier.

  • Mr Ed

    “The trouble is- Russia reminds me of America. The same belief that their civilisation is the pinnacle, and all others will follow them, if they know what is good for them.”

    But with the prevailing or currently dominant political culture in America today, that fostered by the Democratic Party, and the Liberal Arts Ivy League crowd, is the belief that the destruction of their own civilisation is the pinnacle of their culture, and all should take a 1619 Project view of vigorous Neo-Maoist self-criticism if they know what is good for them, or be the agent of that destructionism if they are obviously apart from that civilisation.

    To summarise this, when the UK got roped into the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan (which had a genuine causus belli), the justification for it emanating from the Blair government was that British (in the main) men should die for women’s rights in Afghanistan, rather than to simply (in Roman style) eradicate an enemy and deter others.

    If the 2001 occupation of Afghanistan were a serious endeavour at imposing peace, the Allies would have handed the country over to Greece to replicate Alexander the Great’s incursion (or perhaps to Macedonia, given the state and conduct of Greece).

    Whereas Russia purports to believe in its brutal self.

  • Steven R

    Kirk wrote: “You don’t stop the trans-Atlantic slave trade by being nice guys.”

    That’s very true. And a great many evils were ended because of European colonialism. India no longer throw widows into funeral pyres. Mesoamericans no longer practice human sacrifice. Cannibalism is no longer seen as the norm in places like Borneo. Piracy and slavery were largely brought under control. Caste systems were eliminated. It wasn’t because the locals wanted change, but because Europeans decided those things needed to go and dragged those societies kicking and screaming into the modern world.

    I would love to show Gavrilo Princip and all those kings and emperors and tsars of Europe in 1914 a look at the rest of the 20th century and ask them if setting the West on the path of destruction was really worth it.

  • Kirk

    @Steven R,

    You also wonder what the nihilists and anarchists who chose to influence history by assassinating Alexander II of Russia would think of where their end-state wound up.

    One rather wishes that one could go back, rub their noses in their mess like so many naughty little puppies, and demand they justify what they did to future generations.

    It’d be an interesting exercise, that’s for sure. Imagine some future descendant of yours putting your ass on trial for your well-intentioned extremist actions that you took in their names… Makes one suspect that would likely put a damper on the entire idea of being “in charge”: You f*ck everything up, and someone from the future shows up with a critical appraisal of your efforts, and puts you to death for crimes against the future…

    I like that idea, but I suspect that the logical conclusion of it would end with someone going back and finding the responsible parties for the agricultural revolution and having a short and nasty conversation with them.

    Of course, it could very well be that that’s something like why Gobekli Tepi got buried, and we just don’t know the real story. Perhaps there’s another, far worse, timeline out there, and ours is the result of someone “fixing it”, for a rather loose value of the word “fix”.

    I mean, imagine how bad a world it would have to be, in order to make the horrors of WWI and WWII look like an optimal outcome?

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Kirk, you have me pegged wrong- I like Western Civilisation. I don’t suppose it’s perfect, but it can improve itself. It’s just that every society that gets on top thinks that this is a permanent new order, and then starts bragging about it. I remember President Obama lecturing the Chinese on how they should open up their society and let people form clubs and associations, because this had worked so well for America. If he had studied Chinese history, he would know this usually started insurrections in China (Look up White Lotus Society).
    I also think that China is about to collapse, because of old people whom they will not be able to support. This is another reason that I think Xi will invade Taiwan, whilst he can.
    And be careful of your insults! I am not a Europeon! I was born in Britain, and our family moved to Australia. And I have never called you rude names.

  • Paul Marks

    Nicholas – you may like Western Civilisation, but Barack Obama does not.

    He has a deep (very deep) hatred of Western Civilisation – especially of Freedom of Speech (that is why his Administration MISused Title Nine of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to exterminate what was left of Freedom of Speech in the schools and universities – Freedom of Speech is “repressive tolerance” you see, it “harms oppressed groups”, Herbert Marcuse and other thinkers that Mr Obama follows).

    Freedom of Speech a threat to China – no it is not, it is a threat to the Communist Party regime. Chinese people are not space aliens – and moral principles are NOT for one race. “Freedom of Speech is no good for the Chinese” is as false as “Freedom of Speech is no good for BLACK people” – these principles are universal, they are not confined to this or that civilisation or “historical period”.

    The People’s Republic of China “about to collapse”.

    Sadly no – it is the United States of America and the rest of the West that is “about to collapse” – that has been in the works a very long time indeed.

    However, the tyranny that is the rule of the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China and the rest of the accursed “international community” (now on display in Bali – at the “G20”) will fall.

    It will fall – I very much doubt I will live to see it fall, but you may Nicholas.

    I repeat – Russians and Chinese are human beings. Any effort, by anyone, to claim that different basic principles apply to them is racist rubbish.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    I think China will collapse first, because it has a falling population which is aging faster than it can be replaced. For some reason, young people from around the world are not flocking to work in Chinese factories. (I wonder why?) Also, Chinese air pollution is horrible. And Xi is persisting in his zero-covid lockdown strategy, which can’t be good for GDP.

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