We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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

Samizdata quote of the day

At this rate, they will need to open an officer’s club in hell.

– Yuriy Mysiahin, noting the remarkable number of senior Russian officers K.I.A. in Ukraine, specifically Anatoly Shterliz, the C/O of the 503rd Motorised Rifle Regiment of the 19th Motorised Rifle Division getting smoked yesterday.

Andrey Illarionov explains Putin

Over on Triggernomatry, Andrey Illarionov has very definite views about Vladimir Putin (no, he is not bonkers) and Russia. Illarionov was Putin’s leading economic policy advisor for several years.

Illarionov addresses many notions favoured by ‘realists’ in a very no-nonsense manner. Highly recommended.

Samizdata quote of the day

Current national myth of Russia & the core of Putins ideology is the lie about Russia as liberator. All of us between Russia and Germany are watching Ukraine being liberated and hope that for once the West understands that this is how the Russian liberation has always looked like. This is what was done to us either in 1918-21 or 1939-45 or both. And it kept going until 1991. And it began again in 2008 and the West pretended, again, that it was not happening.

Germans have apologised for 80 years but I still felt a bit uneasy listening to Scholtz saying: wir werden uns remilitarisieren. Thankfully, for once, the Germans r on the right side of things because even there, after 80 years, the demons are not entirely dead under the surface.

So. No. It’s not about Putin. It is very much about the state of Russian society. It’s not Russians’ “fault”, there are too many factors, but to fix this means a process of national breakdown, regrouping, redemption and re-education for, well, 80 years.

It can only be done by the Russians themselves and the best thing we can do is not get in there to tell them how. Because we don’t know better. All that is needed is help Ukraine win, set strict cold war rules relating to Russia until the war crimes have been tried, by them, and a representative government is in office. Let them demilitarise. And then take it slow. Very slow

Eerik N Kross

Samizdata quote of the day

It’s time for your new favorite game! It’s called “Paid Russian Shill or Prominent Western Idiot?”

Ever thought that some extremist’s bad take sounded indistinguishable from actual Russian propaganda? You might be right!


How Putin managed to de-Russify East Ukraine in just 8 years

This is probably the best explanation of why Ukrainian political dynamics developed the way they did.

This conflict manufacturing strategy backfired on Putin. Russians are shocked by resistance they are now facing in the Russophone East Ukraine. Russians believed it would just switch to them immediately. After all, it voted for pro-Russian candidates on every election till 2014.

What happened? How Kharkiv which used to be culturally and politically pro-Russian so quickly turned super anti-Russian? It’s a huge cultural change and a very recent one. And the answer would be: Putin’s conflict manufacturing strategy killed pro-Russian sentiments in Ukraine.

Read the whole thing, highly recommended.

Or maybe not

The internet is awash with armchair generals (not that there’s anything wrong with being an armchair general – I am one myself) telling us that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not going according to plan. They point out that the frontlines have barely moved in the last week, that a lot of Russian vehicles have been knocked out or broken down, that the Russian air force seems to be absent and various other things (twenty-year old rations is one of my favourites.) Some are even suggesting that the Russians might get kicked out of Ukraine. 

I, and I am sure most Samizdatistas, would dearly like this to be true. But the facts don’t care about our beliefs. The truth may be very different. So, if you are looking for an antedote to the narrative I would suggest checking out Task & Purpose’s YouTube on the subject. He points out that the Russians have had victories and that during the Iraq War there was a similar narrative about the allies being bogged down when they were nothing of the sort. The thing I really like about it is that he – that would be presenter Chris Cappy, an Iraq War veteran – admits that he doesn’t know what’s going on. And that’s kind of the point.


Samizdata quote of the day

You can look at it the other way. Putin took the Crimea. Putin promoted the break-away republics. Without him, they would not have happened.

In all the similar cases, the common theme is Putin. He did the same to Georgia as he is to Ukraine. He did the same to Moldova, with Trans-Dniestr.

Were all those governments also reckless? Or were they just unfortunate enough to border Russia?

Putin has been consistently threatening to the Baltic states too. He even sponsored cyber attacks on Estonia. Now it is a long bow to draw that they have been reckless.

No. Putin is the common theme. Nothing Ukraine did, short of bowing to his every wish, would have stopped him. They have not been reckless. They have been desperately trying to deal with a homicidal maniac over the border.

Your argument reminds me of telling battered spouses that they should be more careful, rather than pointing the finger at the violent thug doing the violent things.

‘Chester Draws’ taking to task a commenter who accused the Ukrainian government of having brought this upon themselves with ‘reckless behaviour’.

Net Zero is “in Nigel Farage’s sights”

I have considerable respect for the Guardian‘s John Harris. Though a Remainer himself, he was one of the first left-wing journalists to see that the campaign to leave the European Union had popular support, particularly among the working class, and the reason he could see that while others could not was because he and his colleague John Domokos did what others did not and put in the legwork to report from “Anywhere But Westminster”.

But respect does not mean agreement. Mr Harris writes that “Nigel Farage’s hard-right faction won Brexit. Now net zero is in its sights” like that’s a bad thing.

Mafia Economics

This description of Russia’s economy grows into an interesting analysis of how power and economic reality interact.

Some bits may strike you as not so very unlike Biden’s US.

Of course, it was all investigated. Of course, dishonest CEO of Russian factory was arrested. Fortunately, they found out that the governor was innocent & didn’t know about CEO’s shady schemes. … Fortunately her patriotism and hard work were well-noticed by Putin and he promoted her. Now she’s an Auditor of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation. She’ll be checking the transparency of other branches of government and make sure they use government funds efficiently.

Other parts, however, give examples of how economic activity in places like Russia and Mexico is determined by things that we in the anglosphere are not too familiar with (yet!).

Russians are good in sciences and very good in math. … How come Russia can’t produce anything competitive on the world market? Apparently it’s not a technical skill that is a limiting factor.

Having asked the question, he goes on to provide answers.

Samizdata quote of the day

A no fly zone is actually pretty similar to zero covid.

A nice “feel good” solution & very easy to demonise anyone who disagrees with it. But as soon as you consider the practicalities, it becomes clear that both are entirely unrealistic without huge negative consequences.

Amy the Sceptical Zebra

Extremely interesting thread…

This translated twitter thread purports to originally come from an FSB source, but I cannot say if this is legit or not. If true, it is dynamite.

Samizdata quote of the day

I have lost loads of followers over my comments on Ukraine.
GOOD. If you think Russia “has a point” in its barbarous war on Ukraine, then kindly fuck off and never return.

Victory to Ukraine!

Brendan O’Neill

A sentiment I strongly share.