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Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the Economic Rape of Russia

Chronicles of Harvard University Russian Economic Team Scam and Deep Corruption of Academic Economics

News Recommended books Recommended Links Casino capitalism Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists Cargo Cult Science
Disaster capitalism Predator state Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement Greece debt enslavement Ukraine debt enslavement Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite
Rubin Larry Summers Shleifer Jeffrey Sachs Nancy Zimmerman Jonathan Hay Anders Åslund
Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime The Grand Chessboard Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite The Iron Law of Oligarchy Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"
The Rape of Russia, Testimony of Anne Williamson Critique of neoclassical economics Is neoclassical economics a mafia Lysenkoism Deception Humor Etc
I liked it when he said, "These cases are complicated and difficult to prosecute, but if you're serious about doing them, you can." Doesn't that describe the situation perfectly? It can be done if we set our minds to it. We need to get started and make that happen.

Comment to 'inside job' (Yahoo! Finance)

Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.

-- Napoleon Bonaparte

The modern power elites thrive by forgetting any regrettable past. This amnesia is easy at Harvard, where the legal fiduciaries operate in secret and need not answer for their acts. They are the antipodes of the selfless institutional servants who built Harvard and other great American enterprises, and they bear close watching.

(Harry R. Lewis Larry Summers, Robert Rubin Will The Harvard Shadow Elite Bankrupt The University And The Country)

"It's a mafia," he says quietly...

Hip Heterodoxy by Christopher Hayes


Introduction

A interesting rogues' gallery of international financial criminals with high academic degrees who got their education in Harvard (Harvard mafia in a broad sense) owes its existence to the dissolution of the USSR and subsequent financial crisis. The level of corruption and rent seeking behaviors of those individuals is really breathtaking. The term "mafia" is not rhetorical overshoot: they are mafia in a very precise meaning of this word: the mafia at its core is about one thing -- money (see also Russian board game Mafia). Like in a typical Mafioso family there is an ethnic core and a hierarchy, with higher-ranking members making decisions that trickle down to the other members of the family. And its policies are always about oppression, arrogance, greed, self-enrichment, power and hegemony above and against all others.

The story of Andrei Shleifer in Russia is a classic story of "academic extortion": betrayal of trust and academic principles by Harvard professor of economics (probably not without the influence of his wife, hedge fund manager Nancy Zimmerman, longtime friend of Larry Summers). While the guy was just a pawn in a big game, the issues of criminality of economists (and some universities economics departments ;-) and relevance of RICO statute against such offences is a much bigger issue.

Under RICO, a person who is a member of an enterprise that has committed any two of 35 crimes-27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes-within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering. Those found guilty of racketeering can be fined up to $25,000 and/or sentenced to 20 years in prison per racketeering count. In addition, the racketeer must forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of "racketeering activity." RICO also permits a private individual harmed by the actions of such an enterprise to file a civil suit; if successful, the individual can collect treble damages.

... ... ...

On March 29, 1989, financier Michael Milken was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and fraud relating to an investigation into insider trading and other offenses. Milken was accused of using a wide-ranging network of contacts to manipulate stock and bond prices. It was one of the first occasions that a RICO indictment was brought against an individual with no ties to organized crime. Milken pled guilty to six lesser offenses rather than face spending the rest of his life in prison.

There is a disturbingly deep analogy between Harvard University (which had been benevolently charged with just breach of contract by the US government) and Michel Milken activities. Separately Shleifer and an associate, Jonathan Hay, were charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. Later he was stripped of honorary title "Whipple V.N. Jones Professor of Economics" due to ethics violation, but he managed to preserve his position at the university due to Summers protection (Larry Summers A Suicidal Choice - Mark Ames).

How close were Larry Summers and Andrei Schleifer? According to former Boston Globe economics correspondent David Warsh, Summers and Schleifer "were among each other's best friends," and Summers taught Schleifer "as an undergraduate, sent him on to MIT for his PhD, took him along on an advisory mission to Lithuania in 1990, and in 1991, shepherded his return to Harvard as full professor, where he was regarded, after Martin Feldstein and Summers, as the leader of the next generation."

The furor about Andrei Shleifer shadow dealings in Russia contributed to the ouster of Summers from the Harvard presidency. It also exposed sad fact that neoclassic economics represents a dangerous sect which if not exactly mafia is pretty much borderline phenomenon. Somewhat similar with Lysenkoism

Academic Mafiosi as a Social Class

The cynical view is that "Rape of Russia" was a Mafiosi style operation, which was conducted using s Trojan horses special class of Mafiosi, academic economics. This might well have been the intent (in best "disaster capitalism" style of thinking). Instead of helping post-Soviet nations develop self-reliant economies, writes Marshall Auerback,

"the West has viewed them as economic oysters to be broken up to indebt them in order to extract interest charges and capital gains, leaving them empty shells."

Corruption and local oligarchy were natural allies of this process which was, in essence, the process of Latin-Americanization of post Soviet space. And off-shore safe heavens were the tool. They partially failed in Russia as some of the most notorious deals of this periods (especially in mineral recourses and oil areas) were reversed in 2000-2008, but were quite successful in Ukraine, Georgia, Latvia and several other post Soviet republics. The external debt of those is just staggering. As Professor Michael Hudson noted:

It may be time to look once again at what Larry Summers and his Rubinomics gang did in Russia in the mid-1990s and to Third World countries during his tenure as World Bank economist to see what kind of future is being planned for the U.S. economy over the next few years.

Throughout the Soviet Union the neoliberal model established "equilibrium" in a way that involved demographic collapse: shortening life spans, lower birth rates, alcoholism and drug abuse, psychological depression, suicides, bad health, unemployment and homelessness for the elderly (the neoliberal mode of Social Security reform).

Here is one apt comment about the real nature of economic professors from Harvard and other nice places from the comments to post Economists Fall Back Into Neoclassical Stupor …( naked capitalism. January 18, 2011):

Hugh:

I echo lambert's and scraping by's sentiments. The economics profession is not about an analysis of our economy that can make reasonable predictions about it. Economics and economists are enablers of the con and validators of kleptocracy. They say the many must make do with less and do not say that the result of this policy will be the few will have more.

These are not innocent, unworldly types tied to outdated and obsolete ideas. They are abettors and apologists for the greatest economic crimes in human history. We should call and treat them for what they are: criminals. Kleptocracy is not a some time thing. It is not a label you apply occasionally. Kleptocracy is a system. The looters can't function without corrupt politicians, a complacent propagandizing media, or complicit enabling academics. With kleptocracy, there is no middle ground. You either stand with the looters or their victims. I think this is the critical choice we all must make.

Another pretty telling quote ( from brilliant satire Blacklisted Economics Professor Found Dead NC Publishes His Last Letter " naked capitalism):

Q: Is it really plausible that economists threaten top banks that in the absence of some kind of payoff, they will change the theories they teach in a direction that is less favorable to the banks?

A: There are certainly cases in history of the following sequence:

a. Economist E espouses views that are less favorable to certain special interest groups S. Doing so threatens the ability of S to extract rent from the public.
b. Later, E changes his view, thereby withdrawing the prior threat.
c. Still later, E is paid large amounts of money by representatives of S in exchange for services that do not appear particularly onerous.

For example, let E = Larry Summers and let S = the financial services industry. In 1989 E was (a) a supporter of the Tobin tax, which threatened to reduce the rent extracted by S. This threat was apparently later withdrawn (b), and in 2008 E was paid $5.2 million (c) in exchange for working at the hedge fund D. E. Shaw (an element of S) for one day a week.

However, it is naturally more difficult to witness the negotiations in which specific threats were appeased with specific future payouts. This is a problem that also bedevils Public Choice theory, in which it is likewise difficult to show exactly how a particular politician is remunerated in exchange for threatening businesses with anti-business legislation. The theory assures us that such negotiations occur, although they are difficult to observe directly. Perhaps further theoretical advances will help us to close this gap.

Q: Isn't it offensive to assume that economists, for motives of personal gain, shade their theoretical allegiances in the directions preferred by powerful interest groups?

A: How could it ever be offensive to assume that a person acts rationally in pursuit of maximizing his or her own utility? I'm afraid I don't understand this question.

Academic Mafiosi as Byproduct and Simultaneously Enablers of Neoliberalism

Disappearance of a formidable opponent of unrestricted looting of developing countries that USSR formally represented on the the world scene essentially released all moral stops and considerations both inside the USA and outside. The triumph of neoliberalism

And former USSR republics were the first victims of new super-aggressive neoliberal "new normal". Despite crocodile tears about corruption, our world is being reshaped, in sinister fashion, by wide open capital markets and an international banking network that exists to launder hundreds of billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains stolen by government officials and oligarchs in "weaker" countries. In other words, corruption is an immanent feature and principal tool of neoliberalism in developing countries and xUSSR area.

Under pretext of showing the Russians how to convert command type economy to neoliberal model, and how to controls corruption, the gang-style rape of the country was inflicted on its unsuspecting citizens with poverty raising from 2% to 40% of the population. World have witnessed Russia losing half of its total output, plunging it into a depression deeper than the U.S. Great Depression. Please read Anne Williamson's testimony. Here is one quote:

From the perspective of the many millions of her children, Mother Russia in late 1991 was like an old woman, skirts yanked above her waist, who had been abandoned flat on her back at a muddy crossroads, the object of others' scorn, greed and unseemly curiosity. It is the Russian people who kept their wits about them, helped her to her feet, dusted her off, straightened her clothing, righted her head scarf and it is they who can restore her dignity – not Boris Yeltsin, not Anatole Chubais, not Boris Berezovsky nor any of the other aspirants to power. And it is the Russian people – their abilities, efforts and dreams – which comprise the Russian economy, not those of Vladimir Potanin or Viktor Chernomyrdin or Mikhail Khodorkovsky or Vladimir Gusinsky. And that is where we should have placed our bet – on the Russian people – and our stake should have been the decency, the common sense and abilities of our own citizens realized not through multilateral lending but through the use of tax credits for direct investment in the Russian economy and the training of Russian workers on 6-month to one year stints at the U.S. offices of American firms in conjunction with the elimination of U.S. tariffs on Russian goods.

The collapse of the USSR was by-and-large caused by internal problems and betrayal of nomenklatura which quickly understood that new neoliberal regime is more profitable for them that command-style economy (although role of financed by West wave of nationalism and West imposed technological isolation should not be underestimated). BTW this myth that Reagan administration won the Cold War is still current.

Economic rape of post USSR economic space was by design not by accident

After the dissolution of the USA, there was a vacuum of ideology in Russia and it was successfully filled with Harvard promoted neoliberalism and associated neo-classical economics. This was a powerful fifths column, oriented on helping the West to extract as much wealth from Russia as possible was created. The USA essentially forced Russians into so called shock therapy using Harvard academic mafia (plan was authored by Jeffrey Sachs who was lecturer at Harvard and implemented by Larry Summers protégé, Russian émigré Shleifer and several other Harvard academic brats with a couple of British poodles to make the gang international) and internal compradors in Yelstin government as fifth column. As a result poverty level jumped from 2% to 40%. Everything that can be stolen, was stolen by implementation of rapid privatization policy. During the heydays of corrupt Yeltsin regime implementation of shock therapy GDP dropped 50%. Suicide rate doubled, life expectancy for males dropped below 60 years (12,8% death rate increase), homeless children which were unknown in the USSR became mass feature of new social order.

The key seller of shock therapy was about Harvard Mafiosi, Professor Jeffrey Sachs who was a prominent neoliberal who because his role in destruction of Russian economics, contributed to immense sufferings in Bolivia, Chili, Poland and several other countries.

Instead of something like Marshall plan, a merciless ands unlawful grab of capital and national resources was successfully implemented in less then five year period after the dissolution. This was an amazingly greedy and short-sited policy by Clinton administration. To rephrase Talleyrand, it was worse then a crime, it was a blunder. As Otto von Bismarck advised long ago:

Do not expect that once taken advantage of Russia's weakness, you will receive dividends forever. Russian always come for their money. And when they come - do not rely on the Jesuit agreement you signed, you are supposed to justify. They are not worth the paper it is written. Therefore, with the Russian stands or play fair, or no play.

Let's hope that the USA will be protected by Providence from the consequences of this blunder because as Otto von Bismarck suggested "There is a providence to that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America". Otherwise, the level of anger felt by wide strata of Russian people (almost everybody outside of fifth column) can materialize into something really tragic. In Russian history, a generation that has taken a beating is often followed by a generation that deals one. In a way Putin is already a certain punishment, but the possibility of coming to power a real Russian nationalist instead of "resource nationalist" is not out the realm of possibilities ;-)

There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/o/otto_von_bismarck.html#qr2ARypLke5VpwQb.99

Now Professor Jeffrey Sachs repainted himself from a sharky promoted of "shock therapy" into the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. Here is an apt comment about this member of Harvard mafia ( NYT, 2009)

Arsen Azizyan

I grew up cold and hungry in the former Soviet republic of Armenia during the shock therapy years of the 90′s; my grandfather was one of the 3 million who died prematurely during those days (incorrect medication and power outages did him in).

I would very much like to tie Mr. Jeffrey Sachs to a chair and slowly force-feed him every worthless page of every idiotic policy paper he's ever written. I believe that would justly mirror the diet that I had to subsist on for a number of years during my childhood and adolescence.

He still insists that Yeltsin, rather than his American advisors, was responsible for the fact that the privatization policy amounted in practice to the theft by a handful of favored apparatchiks of the industries previously ran – in its own inimitably corrupt fashion – by the state. As former World Bank economist David Ellerman noted it was the speed of the privatization which made such an outcome inevitable stating that

"Only the mixture of American triumphalism and academic arrogance could have produced such a lethal dose of gall."

Janine R. Wedel in The Harvard Boys Do Russia (The Nation, May 14, 1998) wrote the following about extremely damaging for the USA (in a long run) and Russia (forever) policies Harvard mafia pursued:

"After seven years of economic "reform" financed by billions of dollars in U.S. and other Western aid, subsidized loans and rescheduled debt, the majority of Russian people find themselves worse off economically. The privatization drive that was supposed to reap the fruits of the free market instead helped to create a system of tycoon capitalism run for the benefit of a corrupt political oligarchy that has appropriated hundreds of millions of dollars of Western aid and plundered Russia's wealth. The architect of privatization was former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais, a darling of the U.S. and Western financial establishments. Chubais's drastic and corrupt stewardship made him extremely unpopular. According to The New York Times, he "may be the most despised man in Russia." Essential to the implementation of Chubais's policies was the enthusiastic support of the Clinton Administration and its key representative for economic assistance in Moscow, the Harvard Institute for International Development. Using the prestige of Harvard's name and connections in the Administration, H.I.I.D. officials acquired virtual carte blanche over the U.S. economic aid program to Russia, with minimal oversight by the government agencies involved. With this access and their close alliance with Chubais and his circle, they allegedly profited on the side. Yet few Americans are aware of H.I.I.D.'s role in Russian privatization, and its suspected misuse of taxpayers' funds.

At the recent U.S.-Russian Investment Symposium at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, Yuri Luzhkov, the Mayor of Moscow, made what might have seemed to many an impolite reference to his hosts. After castigating Chubais and his monetarist policies, Luzhkov, according to a report of the event, "singled out Harvard for the harm inflicted on the Russian economy by its advisers, who encouraged Chubais's misguided approach to privatization and monetarism." Luzhkov was referring to H.I.I.D. Chubais, who was delegated vast powers over the economy by Boris Yeltsin, was ousted in Yeltsin's March purge, but in May he was given an immensely lucrative post as head of Unified Energy System, the country's electricity monopoly.

Some of the main actors with Harvard's Russia project have yet to face a reckoning, but this may change if a current investigation by the U.S. government results in prosecutions. The activities of H.I.I.D. in Russia provide some cautionary lessons on abuse of trust by supposedly disinterested foreign advisers, on U.S. arrogance and on the entire policy of support for a single Russian group of so-called reformers. The H.I.I.D. story is a familiar one in the ongoing saga of U.S. foreign policy disasters created by those said to be our "best and brightest." Through the late summer and fall of 1991, as the Soviet state fell apart, Harvard Professor Jeffrey Sachs and other Western economists participated in meetings at a dacha outside Moscow where young, pro-Yeltsin reformers planned Russia's economic and political future. Sachs teamed up with Yegor Gaidar, Yeltsin's first architect of economic reform, to promote a plan of "shock therapy" to swiftly eliminate most of the price controls and subsidies that had underpinned life for Soviet citizens for decades. Shock therapy produced more shock--not least, hyperinflation that hit 2,500 percent--than therapy.

One result was the evaporation of much potential investment capital: the substantial savings of Russians. By November 1992, Gaidar was under attack for his failed policies and was soon pushed aside ...

I.I.D. had supporters high in the Administration. One was Lawrence Summers, himself a former Harvard economics professor, whom Clinton named Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs in 1993. Summers, now Deputy Treasury Secretary, had longstanding ties to the principals of Harvard's project in Russia and its later project in Ukraine. Summers hired a Harvard Ph.D., David Lipton (who had been vice president of Jeffrey D. Sachs and Associates, a consulting firm), to be Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary for Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. After Summers was promoted to Deputy Secretary, Lipton moved into Summers's old job, assuming "broad responsibility" for all aspects of international economic policy development. Lipton co-wrote numerous papers with Sachs and served with him on consulting missions in Poland and Russia. "Jeff and David always came [to Russia] together," said a Russian representative at the International Monetary Fund. "They were like an inseparable couple." Sachs, who was named director of H.I.I.D. in 1995, lobbied for and received U.S.A.I.D. grants for the institute to work in Ukraine in 1996 and 1997 ...

Andrei Shleifer, a Russian-born emigre and already a tenured professor of economics at Harvard in his early 30s, became director of H.I.I.D.'s Russia project. Shleifer was also a protege of Summers, with whom he received at least one foundation grant ...

Another Harvard player was a former World Bank consultant named Jonathan Hay, a Rhodes scholar who had attended Moscow's Pushkin Institute for Russian Language. In 1991, while still at Harvard Law School, he had become a senior legal adviser to the G.K.I., the Russian state's new privatization committee; the following year he was made H.I.I.D.'s general director in Moscow. The youthful Hay assumed vast powers over contractors, policies and program specifics; he not only controlled access to the Chubais circle but served as its mouthpiece ...

With help from his H.I.I.D. advisers and other Westerners, Chubais and his cronies set up a network of aid-funded "private" organizations that enabled them to bypass legitimate government agencies and circumvent the new parliament of the Russian Federation, the Duma.

Through this network, two of Chubais's associates, Maxim Boycko (who co-wrote Privatizing Russia with Shleifer) and Dmitry Vasiliev, oversaw almost a third of a billion dollars in aid money and millions more in loans from international financial institutions ...

The device of setting up private organizations backed by the power of the Yeltsin government and maintaining close ties to H.I.I.D. was a way of insuring deniability. Shleifer, Hay and other Harvard principals, all U.S. citizens, were "Russian" when convenient. Hay, for example, served alternately and sometimes simultaneously as aid contractor, manager of other contractors and representative of the Russian government ... Against the backdrop of Russia's Klondike capitalism, which they were helping create and Chubais and his team were supposedly regulating, the H.I.I.D. advisers exploited their intimate ties with Chubais and the government and were allegedly able to conduct business activities for their own enrichment. According to sources close to the U.S. government's investigation, Hay used his influence, as well as U.S.A.I.D.-financed resources, to help his girlfriend, Elizabeth Hebert, set up a mutual fund, Pallada Asset Management, in Russia ... After Pallada was set up, Hebert, Hay, Shleifer and Vasiliev looked for ways to continue their activities as aid funds dwindled. Using I.L.B.E. resources and funding, they established a private consulting firm with taxpayer money. One of the firm's first clients was Shleifer's wife, Nancy Zimmerman, who operated a Boston-based hedge fund that traded heavily in Russian bonds.

According to Russian registration documents, Zimmerman's company set up a Russian firm with Sergei Shishkin, the I.L.B.E. chief, as general director. Corporate documents on file in Moscow showed that the address and phone number of the company and the I.L.B.E. were the same. Then there is the First Russian Specialized Depository, which holds the records and assets of mutual fund investors. This institution, funded by a World Bank loan, also worked to the benefit of Hay, Vasiliev, Hebert and another associate, Julia Zagachin. According to sources close to the U.S. government's investigation, Zagachin, an American married to a Russian, was selected to run the depository even though she lacked the required capital ...

Anne Williamson, a journalist who specializes in Soviet and Russian affairs, details these and other conflicts of interest between H.I.I.D.'s advisers and their supposed clients--the Russian people--in her forthcoming book, How America Built the New Russian Oligarchy. For example, in 1995, in Chubais-organized insider auctions of prime national properties, known as loans-for-shares, the Harvard Management Company (H.M.C.), which invests the university's endowment, and billionaire speculator George Soros were the only foreign entities allowed to participate. H.M.C. and Soros became significant shareholders in Novolipetsk, Russia's second-largest steel mill, and Sidanko Oil, whose reserves exceed those of Mobil. H.M.C. and Soros also invested in Russia's high-yielding, I.M.F.-subsidized domestic bond market.

Even more dubious, according to Williamson, was Soros's July 1997 purchase of 24 percent of Sviazinvest, the telecommunications giant, in partnership with Uneximbank's Vladimir Potanin. It was later learned that shortly before this purchase Soros had tided over Yeltsin's government with a backdoor loan of hundreds of millions of dollars while the government was awaiting proceeds of a Eurobond issue; the loan now appears to have been used by Uneximbank to purchase Norilsk Nickel in August 1997. According to Williamson, the U.S. assistance program in Russia was rife with such conflicts of interest involving H.I.I.D. advisers and their U.S.A.I.D.-funded Chubais allies, H.M.C. managers, favored Russian bankers, Soros and insider expatriates working in Russia's nascent markets ...

Despite exposure of this corruption in the Russian media (and, far more hesitantly, in the U.S. media), the H.I.I.D.-Chubais clique remained until recently the major instrument of U.S. economic aid policy to Russia. It even used the high-level Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, which helped orchestrate the cooperation of U.S.-Russian oil deals and the Mir space station. The commission's now-defunct Capital Markets Forum was chaired on the Russian side by Chubais and Vasiliev, and on the U.S. side by S.E.C. chairman Arthur Levitt Jr. and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.

Andrei Shleifer was named special coordinator to all four of the Capital Markets Forum's working subgroups. Hebert, Hay's girlfriend, served on two of the subgroups, as did the C.E.O.s of Salomon Brothers, Merrill Lynch and other powerful Wall Street investment houses. When The Nation contacted the S.E.C. for information about Capital Markets, we were told to call Shleifer for comment. Shleifer, who is under investigation by U.S.A.I.D.'s inspector general for misuse of funds, declined to be interviewed for this article. A U.S. Treasury spokesman said Shleifer and Hebert were appointed to Capital Markets by the Chubais group--specifically, according to other sources, by Dmitry Vasiliev."

Several problems with Harvard academic advisors behavior during Russian privatization program were outlined by Adil Rustomjee (Yale University) in the letter to Johnson's Russia List :

From: Arustomjee@aol.com (Adil Rustomjee)
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 1998 13:18:14 EDT
Subject: Role of foreign advisers in the Russian Privatization Program.

From: Adil Rustomjee, Yale University, 135 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511
Email: adil.rustomjee@yale.edu

Dear David,

Many thanks for your superb news service. Johnson's Russia List is fast becoming an excellent resource for those who work, who have worked on, or who just share a fascination with that disturbing country. I am writing this letter to humbly suggest a research topic that should be of great interest to JRLs readers. It is a subject that deserves better treatment than that received to date. The topic itself is the exact role of foreign advisers in the Russian Privatization Program.

It is a marvelous tale waiting to be plainly told. The Russian Privatization Program, despite its subsequent vilification, ranks as one of the great experiments at social engineering in the twentieth century. It attempted an authoritative allocation of property rights - and consequently of power - within society on a scale never attempted before. It is therefore a very significant historical process, more significant in the long reach of events than even Stalin's collectivization campaigns of the 1930s. It deserves its own Robert Conquest.

The process itself went through two distinct phases - the voucher phase, and what for want of a better word, we call the "loans for shares" phase. It is the "loans for shares" phase of the program that has attracted the most attention, primarily because of its spectacular abuse by Russia's oligarchs. The real story is in the first voucher stage of the process and the dubious principles it was based on.

The entire voucher program was a product of foreign economic advice. Consider the basic timeline. The Soviet Union itself was dissolved in December 1991. In June 1992, the crucial document governing the voucher privatization effort came out - the State Privatization Program. This seminal document outlined the basic concepts behind the voucher phase of the program. It also rationalized what became a state sponsored giveaway of Russia's national patrimony to the country's managers. The implementation of the State Privatization Program document took a little over two years. By June 1994, Anatoly Chubias , Russia's privatization chief, was announcing the end of the voucher program. In a scant two years, Russia had gone from a communist country with no private sector, to a country with a private sector - that on paper at least - was larger than Italy's !!! Such progress could never have been possible without substantial foreign economic advice. It is a commonplace that privatization is essentially a "learning by doing" process.

Russia could never have gone through a learning curve in such a short time span. Its reformers basically rubberstamped a scheme conceived by Western economists in the crucial 6 month period between December 1991 and June 1992.

Yet despite this, the precise story of the economists behind the entire effort has not been told. Good attempts have been made by Janine Wedel and Anne Williamson - and I will discuss them later - but from a technical standpoint, the story has yet to be told well.

Who were these advisors and what did they achieve? Three groups of actors may be identified - academic economists, bureaucrats from the World Bank, and Western consulting firms. A close examination of the interaction between these three groups itself will offer interesting insights into the birth and dissemination of ideas. For the major ideas behind the Russian program came from a group of academics - many associated with Harvard. These ideas were picked up in the early years and became established "transition economics" orthodoxy at the World Bank. The substantial implementation of the basic ideas was carried out by consulting firms like the Big Six working (often) on USAID contracts.

This is as it should be. Academia is usually the source of the most original thinking on economics. International bureaucrats - particularly those associated with the World Bank - are surprisingly timid and cautious people. They are institutionally incapable of boldness - and great audacity was called for in the Russia of 1992.

Was this boldness misplaced? I believe it was. A rational examination of the process will, I suspect, lead to a damning indictment of Russia's foreign advisors. They created desolation and called it reform. The defining feature of the program was based on remarkably dubious ideas. Foremost among these was the belief that privatization was a series of payoffs - or bribes, as one of its leading advocates, Harvard's Andrei Shleifer, called it - to various " stakeholders" in the program. Given an uncertain legal environment and some
appropriation of state assets by these stakeholders, - euphemistically referred to as "spontaneous privatization" - , better to legalize what was believed to be a trough feeding frenzy. This was the program's dominant idea.

There is little empirical evidence from the early years about the exact extent of " spontaneous privatization". Anecdotal evidence abounds, especially from many near - hysterical accounts of the early 90s but the actual empirical evidence is slender. The decisions to sell a great nation's patrimony - a one shot historical phenomenon with irreversible long range implications - were basically conceived within a six month time frame by a bunch of frightened foreigners, using dubious assumptions, with little basis in empirical understanding. Astonishing.

The actual privatization was accomplished through basically giving away large segments of Russian assets - and consequently cash flows - to these stakeholders. The most notable insider stakeholders - the managers - ended up the biggest winners. They ended up owning most of Russian industry. This august group, more often than not, makes the Marx Brothers seem like models of German efficiency. For a variety of reasons, insider-owned firms are very inefficient, and indeed a long list of papers from the Bank - Fund complex testifies to this. Consequently, Russia is today reaping the whirlwind of its privatization policy. The long delayed supply-side response of the economy, that is supposed to be led by these insider-owned firms, simply refuses to happen.

To round out this stupidity ( and to make it theoretically neater), the advisors had to deal with the problem of insider ownership. They dealt with it in time honored economist fashion - they assumed it away. This was done by trotting out that most venerable of economic propositions - something called the Coase Theorem. In a series of seminal papers written at Chicago in the thirties, Ronald Coase reached a blindingly obvious conclusion on property rights. He proved that the initial allocation - or misallocation - of property rights would not matter as long as those rights could be traded till they found their highest valued end use. In other words, the advisors told the Russians, "Sure, we're making second-best or third-best policy choices on privatization , but hey guys, it doesn't matter. Through the magic of Coase, even if we misallocated the rights, they'll trade up to their highest valued end user, and we'll all live happily ever after ". Consequently, nothing mattered except getting the assets away from the government (depoliticization) and into the "private sector", thereby allowing
the Coase Theorem to work its magic.

The Russians believed this nonsense. The problems with using Coase as a rationale were commonsensical : too much monopoly power in the Russian economy and the fact that Coase himself never had anything remotely resembling Russia in mind, when he formulated the theorem. More crucially, capital markets which would be needed to trade property rights to their highest valued end use, were nonexistent or nascent, and continue to be so. One marvels at the Russians' own capacity for advice of this nature. My comfort is philosophical : It has often been said of the Russians, that they exhibit in extreme form, certain universal characteristics of the human condition.

Perhaps this tendency to extremes applies to their propensity for social engineering too.

In response to critiques of their advice, the foreign advisors resort to a "burden of proof " defense. In other words, they say, " What a pity it's a mess and had to be this way, but you'll have to prove it could have been otherwise". It is this "proving otherwise" that is a key issue. " Proving otherwise" would require a person with substantial economic expertise. Unfortunately most of the critiques of the advisors in Russia have come from people outside the economics community, which on Russia is quite tight knit.

Janine Wedel and Anne Williamson have made good first attempts . But given the enormity of the catastrophe in Russia that the advice has wrought, the definitive account will have to be from a person with some economic stature.

Who were these people anyway ? They include, Wedel and Williamson point out, Andrei Shleifer a Harvard economics professor, Jonathan Hay a freshly minted Harvard Law graduate, and Makim Boycko who was their man in Moscow. Shleifer, a Russian emigrant who remains a tenured professor at Harvard, must have possessed the great advantage of speaking native Russian. In December 1991, Shleifer on a World Bank consultancy authored a paper titled Privatization in Russia - First Steps. It is, I believe, the first systematic attempt at outlining the program's defining feature - privatization as a series of payoffs (or bribes as he called it) to key stakeholders in the process.

Later explications of the basic idea may be found in articles he co-authored with Robert Vishny on the process. Both the unpublished document and later articles remarkably parallel the basic philosophy of the State Privatization Program of June 1992.

A sense of moral outrage over the effects of their policies - while a great temptation - has to be avoided at all costs. This is especially difficult when one considers that the principal protagonists - Andrei Shleifer and Jonathan Hay - are under investigation for alleged insider trading and conflicts of interest in Russia. [ GAO and USAID having found that they "abused the trust of the US government " etc ]. The temptation might therefore be to focus on that entire shabby episode as Wedel and Williamson have done ( in part, but only in part). There is no need for this. The charges are unproven. Besides the amounts Shleifer and Hay are accused of improperly dealing in, are a pittance, compared to the wholesale thievery their ideas sanctioned. The real story is in the voucher scheme they designed and implemented. Told coldly, rationally, and solely concerned with the truth, it will still be a great story. Behind the story after all, loom the long shadows of the millions of Russians whose lives were effected by these disastrous policies. They deserve the truth.

Will the story be told with integrity. I am afraid not. There are too many reputations and too much credibility at stake. The usual candidate would be someone of stature in academia. This is not really an option. The old Kremlinologists have been largely rendered irrelevant by the pace of events and are struggling to retool themselves. The younger economists who work on Russia, who have access to the data and hands-on experience, are the least likely candidates given the devastating outcomes of the policies they advocated. Self serving rationalizations with little intellectual integrity are all that can be expected from this group. Witness for example, Anders Aslunds' comic absurdity "How Russia became a Market Economy". If Russia is a market economy, then I, sir, am a monkey's uncle -- Finally it would be too much to expect the protagonists themselves - Shleifer and his collaborators - to say " We were wrong, terribly wrong". An old man named Robert McNamara looking back on his life, said that about a war that ended twenty five years back, and look at the condemnation that brought him. It would be too much to expect Shleifer and the others - all reportedly in their late thirties and early forties - to make such an admission.

The World Bank is another candidate, but they will distort the tale. The Bank's division that does such studies - the Operations Evaluation Department - will use the standard bureaucratic boiler plate it excels at. Besides the Bank itself picked up the substantial ideas and policies from the Harvard group, and has its own credibility at stake. While some hand wringing can be expected, so can a less than zealous concern for the truth. Besides, even if it is honest, the drama of the story will be lost in the telling.

... ... ...

The reasons of such a behavior by Andrei Shleifer and other players "on the ground" probably run deeper. As Stefan Lemieszewski noted in his letter to Johnson's Russia List:

The failure of these IMF/World Bank/State/Treasury programs should not come as a surprise. Economists such as Michel Chossudovsky (University of Ottawa) go further and suggest that they are by design. In his book, "The Globalization of Poverty: Impacts of IMF and World Bank Reforms" Chossudovsky writes:

"The IMF-Yeltsin reforms constitute an instrument of "Thirdworldisation"; they are a carbon copy of the structural adjustment programme imposed on debtor countries in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs, advisor to the Russian government, had applied in Russia the same 'macro-economic surgery' as in Bolivia where he was economic advisor to the MNR government in 1985.

The IMF-World Bank programme adopted in the name of democracy constitutes a coherent programme of impoverishment of large sectors of the population.

It was designed (in theory) to 'stabilize' the economy, yet consumer prices in 1992 increased by more than one hundred times (9,900 per cent) as a direct result of the "anti-inflationary programme". As in Third World 'stabilization programme', the inflationary process was largely engineered through the 'dollarization' of domestic prices and the collapse of the national currency. The 'price liberalization programme' did not, however, resolve (as proposed by the IMF) the distorted structure of relative prices which existed under the Soviet system."

In Ukraine and some other republics the magnitude of collapse was even greater and all middle class was essentially wiped out. Many emigrated. Also a lot of assets were simply stolen by western companies for cents on the dollar (disaster capitalism in action; some of most blatant cases were reversed under Putin, but not much). Bush II administration was busy with reelections and Clinton administration never viewed Russia as a partner only as a body on the ground to kick with a boot with impunity. As President Richard Nixon pointed out a major aid package could stop the economic free fall and help anchor Russia in the West for years to come.

In this respect the Clinton administration's greatest failure was its decision to take advantage of Russia's weakness. And the fact that they used puppets like Jeffrey Sachs to take advantage of the Russia situation produced a long term damage to the US strategic interests in the region. Here is a relevant quote from Foreign Affairs article "Losing Russia":

BEHIND THE facade of friendship, Clinton administration officials expected the Kremlin to accept the United States' definition of Russia's national interests. They believed that Moscow's preferences could be safely ignored if they did not align with Washington's goals. Russia had a ruined economy and a collapsing military, and it acted like a defeated country in many ways. Unlike other European colonial empires that had withdrawn from former possessions, Moscow made no effort to negotiate for the protection of its economic and security interests in Eastern Europe or the former Soviet states on its way out. Inside Russia, meanwhile, Yeltsin's radical reformers often welcomed IMF and U.S. pressure as justification for the harsh and hugely unpopular monetary policies they had advocated on their own.

Soon, however, even Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev–known in Russia as Mr. Yes for accommodating the West–became frustrated with the Clinton administration's tough love. As he told Talbott, who served as ambassador at large to the newly independent states from 1993 to 1994, "It's bad enough having you people tell us what you're going to do whether we like it or not. Don't add insult to injury by also telling us that it's in our interests to obey your orders."

But such pleas fell on deaf ears in Washington, where this arrogant approach was becoming increasingly popular. Talbott and his aides referred to it as the spinach treatment: a paternalistic Uncle Sam fed Russian leaders policies that Washington deemed healthy, no matter how unappetizing these policies seemed in Moscow.

As Talbott adviser Victoria Nuland put it, "The more you tell them it's good for them, the more they gag." By sending the message that Russia should not have an independent foreign policy - or even an independent domestic one - the Clinton administration generated much resentment. This neocolonial approach went hand in hand with IMF recommendations that most economists now agree were ill suited to Russia and so painful for the population that they could never have been implemented democratically. However, Yeltsin's radical reformers were only too happy to impose them without popular consent.

Here is the Shleifer part of the story although it is important to realize that he was just a puppet, low level criminal (No. 6 card or "shesterka" : lowest member of a gang in Russian slang) in the biggest looting of the century, looting that exceeds performed by Hitler armies in 40th. (Harry R. Lewis Larry Summers, Robert Rubin Will The Harvard Shadow Elite Bankrupt The University And The Country):

In 1992, Andrei Shleifer, a Harvard professor and a close friend of Summers since Shleifer's college days at Harvard, became head of a Harvard project that directed U.S. government money for the development of the Russian economy. Tens of millions of dollars in noncompetitive U.S. contracts flowed to Harvard for Shleifer's Russian work, and his team directed the distribution of hundreds of millions more. Through the mid-1990s, complaints accumulated in Washington about self-dealing and improper investing by the Harvard team, and by mid-1997, the Harvard contracts had been canceled and the FBI had taken up the case. For two years it was before a federal grand jury.

In September, 2000, the government sued Harvard, Shleifer, and others, claiming that Shleifer was lining his own pockets and those of his wife, hedge fund manager Nancy Zimmerman -- formerly a vice president at Goldman Sachs under Rubin.

Soon after, when Summers became a candidate for the Harvard presidency, Shleifer lobbied hard for him in Cambridge. Rubin assured the Fellows that the abrasiveness Summers had exhibited at Treasury was a thing of the past. They named him president--in spite of what was already known about his enabling role in the malodorous Russian affair, and the implausibility of a personality metamorphosis.

Summers did not recluse himself from the lawsuit until more than three months after his selection as president, and even then used his influence to protect Shleifer. The Fellows--including Rubin, whom Summers added to the Corporation--fought the case for years, spending upwards of $10M on lawyers. But in 2005 a federal judge found Shleifer to have conspired to defraud the government and held Harvard liable as well. To settle the civil claims, Shleifer paid the government $2M and Harvard paid $26.5M; Zimmerman's company had already paid $1.5M. Shleifer denied all wrongdoing, and Harvard disclosed nothing about any response of its own--a departure from its handling of misconduct by faculty farther from the center of power.

Summers remained close to Shleifer, yet claimed in a February 2006 faculty meeting to know too little about the scandal to have formed an opinion about it. This prevarication brought a gasp from the assembled faculty and solidified faculty opposition to the Summers presidency.

Rubin is now gone from his leadership role and his board membership at Citigroup, hauling away $126M from a firm that was $65B poorer than when he joined it, with 75,000 fewer jobs. But he remains on the Harvard board, in spite of the financial meltdowns at both Citigroup and Harvard and his poor oversight of the problematic president he persuaded Harvard to hire.

The Rubin network remains alive and well in the White House, including not just Summers but several other Rubin protégés. Among the strangest of these power loops is that the well-connected Nancy Zimmerman has turned up as a member of Summers's economic policy brain trust.

It's pretty funny that in 1993 Andrei Shleifer co-authored a paper about corruption":

Abstract

This paper presents two propositions about corruption. First, the structure of government institutions and of the political process are very important determinants of the level of corruption. In particular, weak governments that do not control their agencies experience very high corruption levels. Second, the illegality of corruption and the need for secrecy make it much more distortionary and costly than its sister activity, taxation. These results may explain why, in some less developed countries, corruption is so high and so costly to development.

Copyright 1993, the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Compare this paper with the assessment of his own behavior in the article "On Post-Modern Corruption"(Economic Principals):

It is against this background that a seemingly unrelated matter, the Andrei Shleifer case, should be considered. Readers are all too familiar with the details of how a 31-year-old Russian expatriate, swiftly risen to eminence as a Harvard University economics professor, was put in charge in 1992 of a huge US government-financed, Harvard-administered mission to advise the Russian government of Boris Yeltsin on how to establish a market economy of their own -- until he was discovered in 1996 to be lining his own pockets, and those of his wife, his deputy and the deputy's girlfriend. At that point the mission collapsed.

Four years later, the US Attorney in Boston sued. Four years after that, Shleifer was found to have committed fraud and Harvard University to have breached its contract. Each was ordered to repay the government.

Perhaps the Shleifer story is no big deal, and not the symbol of post-modern corruption having spread to universities that I think it is. Yet there are similarities to the Congressional situation, I believe. The case against Shleifer case was a civil complaint, not a criminal charge. Cunningham was elected, Shleifer was hired. Each helped himself to some good old-fashioned graft, and each was found by a court to have done (in the words of the San Diego prosecutor) "the worst thing an Éofficial can do -- he enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there."

And just as the tactics of the House leadership are more alarming than the conduct of the lowly Cunningham, so the determination of Harvard's administrators to defend Shleifer for nine long years is more astounding than what Shleifer actually did. He was young and inexperienced. They had all the advice and time in the world. His culpability has been established. Theirs has barely been addressed.

Here is some information about the events form Wikipedia article Andrei Shleifer:

Controversy

Under the False Claims Act, the US government sued Harvard, Shleifer, Shleifer's wife, Shleifer's assistant Jonathan Hay, and Hay's girlfriend (now his wife) Elizabeth Hebert, because these individuals bought Russian stocks and GKOs while they were working on the country's privatization, which potentially contravened Harvard's contract with USAID. In 2001, a federal judge dismissed all charges against Zimmerman and Hebert.[4] In June 2004, a federal judge ruled that Harvard had violated the contract but was not liable for treble damages, but that Shleifer and Hay might be held liable for treble damages (up to $105 million) if found guilty by a jury [2].

In June 2005, Harvard and Shleifer announced that they had reached a tentative settlement with the US government. On August 3 of the same year, Harvard University, Shleifer and the Justice department reached an agreement under which the university paid $26.5 million to settle the five-year-old lawsuit. Shleifer was also responsible for paying $2 million dollars worth of damages, though he did not admit any wrong doing. A firm owned by his wife previously had paid $1.5 million in an out of court settlement.

Because Harvard University paid most of the damages and allowed Shleifer to retain his faculty position, the settlement provoked allegations of favoritism on the part of Harvard's outgoing president Lawrence Summers, who is Shleifer's close friend and mentor. Shleifer's conduct was reviewed by Harvard's internal ethics committee. In October 2006, at the close of that review, Shleifer released a statement making it clear that he remains on Harvard's faculty. However, according to the Boston Globe, he has been stripped of his honorary title of Whipple V. N. Jones Professor of Economics[3].

Shleifer's involvement in Russia was investigated by David McClintick, a Harvard alumnus and journalist for Institutional Investor Magazine. His 30-page January 2006 article claims to show that "economics professor Andrei Shleifer, in the mid-1990s, led a Harvard advisory program in Russia that collapsed in disgrace." The article drew considerable criticism among Shleifer's colleagues, collaborators, close friends, and students. According to the Harvard Crimson[4], the university's daily newspaper, Shleifer's colleague and economics professor Edward Glaeser said that the Institutional Investor article "is a potent piece of hate creation-not quite 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' but it's in that camp." But Glaeser later apologized for his statement[5].

Larry Summers was not only defender but also the handler of Andrei Shleifer

Prominent role of Larry Summers in Andrei Shleifer affair shed very negative light on this very controversial figure. Positioning him as a key figured in Clinton administration intended to destroy the xUSSR republic economies, especially economics of Russia. And that role perfectly alight with his general political role in Clinton administration and after that. The role of enforcer of neoliberal social order. Role of Larry Summers in adopting "shock therapy" and Yeltsin privatization of state assets still needs to be investigated. But it is perfectly consistent with his track record. Among key "mis-achievements" of Bubble Boy Larry:

Opium for the masses: Neoclassical economics role under neoliberalism as equivalent of the role of Catholic Church under feudalism

Some use the term "neo-feudalism" to characterize operation of the USA and "friends" in xUSSR space but they are essentially neocolonialism. When open brutal used of military force for conquering nations was substitutes by financial instruments. But neoliberalism definitely use neo-feudal methods, and that includes usage of neoclassic economics in the USA. Here I mean use of neoclassic economic as a new religion that justify and "bless" neoliberal social order. Essentially the same role that Catholic church played for classic feudalism. It serves as "An opium for the masses", if we use slightly overdone Marx quote ;-)

While related to economic rape of Russia, Shleifer's story has a wider meaning as an apt symbol of "post-modern" corruption at universities and especially in Harvard where students were actively indoctrinated in pseudoscientific theories which constitute a theoretical framework of casino capitalism serving simultaneously as the role of ideology which is not that far from the role of Marxism in the USSR. Here is Anna Willamson view (The Rape of Russia, Testimony of Anne Williamson Before the House Banking Committee)

From the perspective of the many millions of her children, Mother Russia in late 1991 was like an old woman, skirts yanked above her waist, who had been abandoned flat on her back at a muddy crossroads, the object of others' scorn, greed and unseemly curiosity. It is the Russian people who kept their wits about them, helped her to her feet, dusted her off, straightened her clothing, righted her head scarf and it is they who can restore her dignity - not Boris Yeltsin, not Anatole Chubais, not Boris Berezovsky nor any of the other aspirants to power. And it is the Russian people - their abilities, efforts and dreams - which comprise the Russian economy, not those of Vladimir Potanin or Viktor Chernomyrdin or Mikhail Khodorkovsky or Vladimir Gusinsky. And that is where we should have placed our bet - on the Russian people - and our stake should have been the decency, the common sense and abilities of our own citizens realized not through multilateral lending but through the use of tax credits for direct investment in the Russian economy and the training of Russian workers on 6-month to one year stints at the U.S. offices of American firms in conjunction with the elimination of U.S. tariffs on Russian goods.

Russia is a fabled land, home to a unique and provocative thousand year-old culture, and a country rich in the resources the world needs whose people had the courage and resilience to defeat this century's greatest war machine, Hitler's invading Wehrmacht. Yet, thanks to Boris Yeltsin's thirst for power and megalomaniacal inadequacy, Russia has become the latest victim of American expediency and of a culturally hollow and economically predatory globalism. Consequently, Americans, who thought their money was helping a stricken land, have been dishonored; and the Russian people who trusted us are now in debt twice what they were in 1991 and rightly feel themselves betrayed.

The worst of it was that some pretty good ideas - private property, sound money, minimal government, the inviolability of contract and public accountability - that have delivered to the West's citizenry the most prosperity and the most liberty in world history, and might have done the same for the Russians, were twisted into perverse constructions and only then exported via a Harvard-connected cabal of Clinton administration appointees who funded - without competition - their allies at Harvard University courtesy the public purse. Joining the US-directed effort were the usual legions of overpaid IMF/World Bank advisers whose lending terror continues to encircle the globe.

As reader with nickname DownSouth commented on Naked Capitalism blog (Obama Administration "Nothing to See Here" on Foreclosure Crisis " naked capitalism), historically one of the most powerful forces that supported feudalism in Europe were Catholic and Orthodox churches: the feudal order was upheld by the Church's priestly class allied with European royalty.

In the modern USA something similar can be said about the relations of the neoclassical economists and bankers. It wasn't meant to be this way, either with the priests of old or the priests of new. As Robert H. Nelson points out in Economics as Religion,

…Samuelson followed the Roman Catholic model. The members of the economics profession, and other scientific and professional elites, would be motivated by the higher considerations of a priesthood, as compared with businesspeople and other ordinary citizens in the commercial realm. There would be no popular votes held for the scientific leaders of society. Samuelson acknowledged the practical necessity to allow wide rein for the pursuit of self-interest in the marketplace. However, the professional economists and other scientific managers of the progressive state would function according to the ethical standard of the Roman Catholic priesthood. They would reject the commercial motive of self-interest and instead act in their professional and public capacity to serve the common good--"the public interest"--of all of society.

In Darwin's Cathedral David Sloan Wilson made the observation that all major churches seem to have a "life cycle."

Religious denominations range from huge established churches that encompass most of the population to tiny sects that reject the larger churches as corrupt and regard themselves as keepers of the original faith. The huge established churches begin as sects, grow into churches, give rise to offspring sects, and then mysteriously fall into senility, to be replaced by their own offspring sects. I would just add that it seems like theology follows function in this life cycle.

For instance, as Wilson points out, the early Christian church, while it was still a small sect, had "a policy of extreme altruism and forgiveness toward the downtrodden" and "a policy of unyielding opposition" toward the main Jewish religious institutions, which it perceived to be in league with the Roman Empire. As the Christian church matured and became the established church, however, it became part and parcel of the power structure, championing it and defending it against the downtrodden. What began as a small sect with a theology based upon knowledge and moral authority morphed into a church whose theology was all about defending wealth and power.

Eventually a new sect rose to challenge this priestly class. As Nelson explains:

Indeed, it was this strong distinction between ordinary people and the church priesthood that, among a number of other tenets of Catholic doctrine, incurred the wrath of Martin Luther. Luther saw the Roman Catholic Church as selling ordinary people short and thus declared a new Protestant "priesthood of all believers." The ministry of the Protestant churches would stand on an equal plane with the faithful--both, for example, would marry. The leadership of Protestant parishes would be elected by the ordinary members of the church, while the Roman Catholic Church would continue to select its own leaders in a hierarchal fashion, as when the pope designates the cardinals of the church.

What Luther had to say about the priestly class of the Medieval Catholic Church rings true about modern-day high priests of "casino capitalism", the neoclassical economists of "Harvard Mafia". As Luther wrote the Pope in letter in 1520:

But they See, which is called the Roman Curia, and of which neither thou nor any man can deny that is more corrupt than any Babylon or Sodom ever was, and which is, as far as I can see, characterized by a totally depraved, hopeless, and notorious wickedness--that See I have truly despised… The Roman Church has become the most licentious den of thieves, the most shameless of all brothels, the kingdom of sin, death, and hell… They err who ascribe to thee the right of interpreting the Scripture, for under cover of thy name they seek to set up their own wickedness in the Church, and, alas, through them Satan has already made much headway under thy predecessors. In short, believe none who exalt thee, believe those who humble thee.


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Old News ;-)

[Oct 18, 2017] Spy Schools How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities by Nick Roll

Notable quotes:
"... Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities ..."
"... The Boston Globe ..."
"... Inside Higher Ed ..."
"... The Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The Price of Admission ..."
"... Inside Higher Ed ..."
"... Inside Higher Ed ..."
"... look back to Stalin, Hitler, Franco, Mao, Mussolini et.al with THIER use of domestic agencies to impose lock-step thinking and to ferret out free-thinkers. ..."
"... It is amazing how many biochemists and microbiologists from the People's Republic of China would e-mail me asking if I had a position in my "lab," touting their bench skills, every time I published a paper on the federal bioterrorism program, medical civic action programs, etc. ..."
"... When I started teaching 48 years ago, the president of my college was James Dovonan, Bill Donovan's (founder of the OSS) brother, portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie, "Bridge of Spies." ..."
"... Beyond NIH funded grant-based research, Homeland Security, Energy, Defense, and the Intelligence Community agencies have long histories of relationships with American academia. This could be funded research, collaborative research, shared personnel relationships, or all other manner of cooperation. Sometimes it's fairly well known and sometimes it's kept quiet, and sometimes it's even classified. But it is much more extensive and expansive than what Golden describes, and much less "cozy" or suspicious. ..."
"... For years I have said that it is foolish to look to universities for moral guidance, and this story is one more instance. In this case, the moral ground is swampy at best, and the universities do not appear to have spent a lot of time worrying about possible problems as long as the situation works to their advantage financially. ..."
"... Does Golden discuss at all the way in which the CIA and other intelligence services funnel money into academic research without the source of the funding ever being revealed? This was common practice in the 1960s and 1970s, and colleges like MIT were among those involved in this chicanery. ..."
"... Where has IHE been for the past several decades? Read Rosenfeld's book, Subversives..... about the FBI's illegal acts at Berkeley. Or read this, a summary of his book: https://alumni.berkeley.edu... Or read George R. Stewart, The Year of the Oath. ..."
www.chronicle.com
October 3, 2017

The CIA Within Academe 21 Comments

Book documents how foreign and domestic intelligence agencies use -- and perhaps exploit -- higher education and academe for spy operations.
Foreign and domestic intelligence services spar and spy on one another all across the world. But it would be naïve to think it's not happening in the lab or classroom as well.

In his new book, Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities ( Henry Holt and Company ), investigative journalist Daniel Golden explores the fraught -- and sometimes exploitative -- relationship between higher education and intelligence services, both foreign and domestic. Chapters explore various case studies of the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation using the open and collaborative nature of higher education to their advantage, as well as foreign governments infiltrating the U.S. via education.

"It's pretty widespread, and I'd say it's most prevalent at research universities," Golden, an editor at ProPublica and an alumnus of The Boston Globe 's "Spotlight" team, told Inside Higher Ed . "The foreign intelligence services have the interest and the opportunity to learn cutting-edge, Pentagon-funded or government-funded research."

Golden, who has also covered higher education for The Wall Street Journal , previously wrote about the intersection of wealth and admissions in his 2006 book The Price of Admission .

Each of the case studies in Spy Schools , which goes on sale Oct. 10, is critical. One could read the chapters on the Chinese government's interest in U.S. research universities as hawkish, but then turn to the next chapter on Harvard's relationship with the CIA and read it as critical of the American intelligence establishment as well.

"People of one political persuasion might focus on [the chapters regarding] foreign espionage; people of another political persuasion might focus on domestic espionage," Golden said. "I try to follow where the facts lead."

Perhaps the most prestigious institution Golden examines is Harvard University, probing its cozy relationship with the CIA. (While Harvard has recently come under scrutiny for its relationship with the agency after it withdrew an invitation for Chelsea Manning to be a visiting fellow -- after the agency objected to her appointment -- this book was written before the Manning incident, which occurred in September.) The university, which has had varying degrees of closeness and coldness with the CIA over the years, currently allows the agency to send officers to the midcareer program at the Kennedy School of Government while continuing to act undercover, with the school's knowledge. When the officers apply -- often with fudged credentials that are part of their CIA cover -- the university doesn't know they're CIA agents, but once they're in, Golden writes, Harvard allows them to tell the university that they're undercover. Their fellow students, however -- often high-profile or soon-to-be-high-profile actors in the world of international diplomacy -- are kept in the dark.

"Kenneth Moskow is one of a long line of CIA officers who have enrolled undercover at the Kennedy School, generally with Harvard's knowledge and approval, gaining access to up-and-comers worldwide," Golden writes. "For four decades the CIA and Harvard have concealed this practice, which raises larger questions about academic boundaries, the integrity of class discussions and student interactions, and whether an American university has a responsibility to accommodate U.S. intelligence."

But the CIA isn't the only intelligence group operating at Harvard. Golden notes Russian spies have enrolled at the Kennedy School, although without Harvard's knowledge or cooperation.

When contacted by Inside Higher Ed , Harvard officials didn't deny Golden's telling, but defended the university's practices while emphasizing the agreement between the university and the CIA -- which Golden also writes about -- on not using Harvard to conduct CIA fieldwork.

"Harvard Kennedy School does not knowingly provide false information or 'cover' for any member of our community from an intelligence agency, nor do we allow members of our community to carry out intelligence operations at Harvard Kennedy School," Eric Rosenbach, co-director of the Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said in a statement.

While Golden said the CIA's involvement on campus raises existential questions about the purpose and integrity of higher education, Harvard maintained that the Kennedy School was living up to its mission.

"Our community consists of people from different spheres of public service. We are proud to train people from the U.S. government and the intelligence community, as well as peace activists and those who favor more open government," Rosenbach said in his statement. "We train students from a wide range of foreign countries and foreign governments, including -- among others -- Israel, U.K., Russia and China. That is consistent with our mission and we are proud to have that reach."

On the other hand, other countries are interested in exploiting U.S. higher education. Golden documents the case of Ruopeng Liu, a graduate student at Duke University who siphoned off U.S.-government-funded research to Chinese researchers. Liu eventually returned to China and has used some of the research for his Chinese-government-funded start-up ventures.

Golden is comprehensive, interviewing Duke researchers who worked with Liu, as well as dispatching a freelance journalist in China to interview Liu (he denied wrongdoing, saying his actions were taken as part of higher education's collaborative norms regarding research projects). Despite questions that arose while Liu was a student, he received his doctorate in 2009 without any formal questions or pushback from the university. A week before Liu defended his dissertation, Golden notes that Duke officials voted to move forward in negotiations with the Chinese government regarding opening a Duke campus in China -- raising questions about whether Duke was cautious about punishing a Chinese student lest there were negative business implications for Duke. ( The building of the campus proved to be a controversial move in its own right. )

The Duke professor Liu worked under told Golden it would be hard to prove Liu acted with intentional malice rather than out of genuine cultural and translational obstacles, or ethical slips made by a novice researcher. Duke officials told Inside Higher Ed that there weren't any connections between Liu and the vote.

"The awarding of Ruopeng Liu's degree had absolutely no connection to the deliberations over the proposal for Duke to participate in the founding of a new university in Kunshan, China," a spokesman said in an email.

These are just two chapters of Golden's book, which also goes on to document the foreign exchange relationship between Marietta College, in Ohio, and the controversial Chinese-intelligence-aligned University of International Relations. Agreements between Marietta and UIR, which is widely regarded a recruiting ground for Chinese intelligence services, include exchanging professors and sending Chinese students to Marietta. Conversely, Golden writes, as American professors teach UIR students who could end up spying on the U.S., American students at Marietta are advised against studying abroad at UIR if they have an interest in working for the government -- studying at UIR carries a risk for students hoping to get certain security clearances. Another highlight is the chapter documenting the CIA's efforts to stage phony international academic conferences, put on to lure Iranian nuclear scientists as attendees and get them out of their country -- and in a position to defect to the U.S. According to Golden's sources, the operations, combined with other efforts, have been successful enough "to hinder Iran's nuclear weapons program."

But Golden's book doesn't just shed light on previously untold stories. It also highlights the existential questions facing higher education, not only when dealing with infiltration from foreign governments, but also those brought on by cozy relationships between the U.S. intelligence and academe.

"One issue is American national security," Golden said. "Universities do a lot of research that's important to our government and our military, and they don't take very strong precautions against it being stolen," he said. "So the domestic espionage side -- I'm kind of a traditionalist and I believe in the ideal of universities as places where the brightest minds of all countries come together to learn, teach each other, study and do research. Espionage from both sides taints that that's kind of disturbing."

After diving deep into the complex web that ties higher education and espionage together, however, Golden remains optimistic about the future.

"It wouldn't be that hard to tighten up the intellectual property rules and have written collaboration agreements and have more courses about intellectual safeguards," he said. "In the 1970s, Harvard adopted guidelines against U.S. intelligence trying to recruit foreign students in an undercover way they didn't become standard practice [across academe, but], I still think those guidelines are pertinent and colleges would do well to take a second look at them."

"In the idealistic dreamer mode, it would be wonderful if the U.N. or some other organization would take a look at this issue, and say, 'Can we declare universities off-limits to espionage?'"

Nicholas Dujmovic , October 3, 2017 8:18 AM

Equating the presence and activities of US intelligence on campuses with that of foreign intelligence is pretty obtuse moral relativism. US academia and US intelligence alike benefit from cooperation, and the American people are the winners overall. By the way, is it really necessary to twice describe this relationship as "cozy"? What does that mean, other to suggest there's something illicit about it?

Grace Alcock -> Nicholas Dujmovic , October 4, 2017 1:30 AM

It'd be nice if American intelligence was paying a bit more attention to what goes on in academic research--as far as I can tell, the country keeps making policies that don't seem particularly well-informed by the research in relevant areas. Can we get them to infiltrate more labs of scientists working on climate change or something?

Maybe stick around, engage in some participant observation and figure that research out? It's not clear they have any acquaintance with the literature on the causes of war. Really, pick a place to start, and pay attention.

alsotps -> Nicholas Dujmovic , October 3, 2017 5:20 PM

If you cannot see how a gov't intelligence agency, prohibited from working in the USA by statute and who is eye-deep in AMERICAN education is wrong, then I am worried. Read history. Look back to the 1970's to start and to the 1950's with FBI and the military agents in classrooms; then read about HUAC.

Now, look back to Stalin, Hitler, Franco, Mao, Mussolini et.al with THIER use of domestic agencies to impose lock-step thinking and to ferret out free-thinkers.

Get it? it is 'illicit!"

Nicholas Dujmovic -> alsotps , October 4, 2017 12:38 PM

Actually, I read quite a bit of history. I also know that US intelligence agencies are not "prohibited from working in the USA." If they have relationships in academia that remind you of Stalin, Hitler, etc., how have US agencies "imposed lock-step thinking and ferreted out free-thinkers?" Hasn't seemed to work, has it? Your concern is overwrought.

Former Community College Prof -> Nicholas Dujmovic , October 3, 2017 12:12 PM

"Cozy" might refer to the mutual gains afforded by allowing the federal government to break many rules (and laws) while conducting their "intelligence operations" in academe. I do not know if I felt Homeland Security should have had permission to bring to this country, under false premises supported by ICE and accrediting agencies, thousands of foreign nationals and employed them at companies like Facebook, Apple, Morgan Stanley and the U.S. Army. While Homeland Security collected 16K tuition from each of them (and the companies that hired these F-1s didn't have to pay FICA) all our nation got was arrests of 20 mid level visa brokers.

https://www.nytimes.com/201...

Personally, I think cozy was quite complimentary as I would have chosen other words. Just imagine if there are additional "undercover students" with false credentials in numbers significant enough to throw off data or stopping universities and colleges from enforcing rules and regulations. If you set up and accredit a "fake university" and keep the proceeds, it strikes me as illicit.

alsotps -> Former Community College Prof , October 3, 2017 5:21 PM

Hey...don't imagine it. Read about Cointelpro and military 'intelligence' agents in classes in the early 1970's....

Trevor Ronson -> Nicholas Dujmovic , October 3, 2017 2:36 PM

And behaving as if the "the presence and activities of US intelligence on campuses" is something to accept without question is also "obtuse moral relativism". We are talking about an arrangement wherein a / the most prestigious institutions of higher learning has an established relationship with the CIA along with some accepted protocol to ongoing participation.

Whether it is right, wrong, or in between is another matter but please don't pretend that it's just business as usual and not worthy of deeper investigation.

alsotps -> Trevor Ronson , October 3, 2017 5:16 PM

Unfortunately for many people, it IS business as usual.

George Avery , October 3, 2017 9:46 AM

It is amazing how many biochemists and microbiologists from the People's Republic of China would e-mail me asking if I had a position in my "lab," touting their bench skills, every time I published a paper on the federal bioterrorism program, medical civic action programs, etc.

Never mind that I primarily do health policy and economics work, and have not been near a lab bench since I returned to school for my doctorate.....anything with a defense or security application drew a flurry of interest in getting involved.

As a result, I tended to be very discerning in who I took on as an advisee, if only to protect my security clearance.

alsotps -> George Avery , October 3, 2017 5:22 PM

PAr for the course for both UG and grad students from China who have not paid a head hunter. ANY school or program offering money to international students was flooded by such inquiries. Get over yourself.

John Lobell , October 3, 2017 6:25 AM

When I started teaching 48 years ago, the president of my college was James Dovonan, Bill Donovan's (founder of the OSS) brother, portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie, "Bridge of Spies."

We had a program in "Tropical Architecture" which enrolled students form "third world" countries. Rumor was -- --

jloewen , October 3, 2017 10:38 AM

When I got my Ph.D. from Harvard in 1968, the Shah of Iran got an honorary doctorate at the same commencement. The next year, by pure coincidence!, he endowed three chairs of Near Eastern Studies at H.U.

alsotps -> jloewen , October 3, 2017 5:24 PM

Absolutely a coincidence! You don't think honoraria have anything whatsoever to do with the Development Office do you? (Snark)

Kevin Van Elswyk , October 3, 2017 9:31 AM

And we are surpised?

Robert4787 , October 4, 2017 6:28 PM

So glad to see they're on campus. Many young people now occupy the CIA; the old "cowboys" of the Cold War past are gone. U may find this interesting>> http://osintdaily.blogspot....

TinkerTailor1620 , October 3, 2017 5:29 PM

Hundreds of government civil servants attend courses at the Kennedy School every year. That a few of them come from the CIA should be no surprise. It and all the other intelligence agencies are nothing more than departments within the federal government, just like Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, the FDA, Energy, and so on. Nothing sneaky or suspicious about any of it. Why anyone with cover credentials would tell the Kennedy School admin that is beyond me. When I was in cover status, I was in cover status everywhere; to not be was to blow your cover, period, and was extremely dangerous.

Beyond NIH funded grant-based research, Homeland Security, Energy, Defense, and the Intelligence Community agencies have long histories of relationships with American academia. This could be funded research, collaborative research, shared personnel relationships, or all other manner of cooperation. Sometimes it's fairly well known and sometimes it's kept quiet, and sometimes it's even classified. But it is much more extensive and expansive than what Golden describes, and much less "cozy" or suspicious.

Phred , October 3, 2017 1:49 PM

For years I have said that it is foolish to look to universities for moral guidance, and this story is one more instance. In this case, the moral ground is swampy at best, and the universities do not appear to have spent a lot of time worrying about possible problems as long as the situation works to their advantage financially.

alsotps -> Phred , October 3, 2017 5:25 PM

The key, here, is financially. The bean counters and those whose research is funded don't look hard at the source of the funding. Just so it keeps coming.

Jason , October 4, 2017 6:34 PM

Academic treason.

Sanford Gray Thatcher , October 4, 2017 6:13 PM

Does Golden discuss at all the way in which the CIA and other intelligence services funnel money into academic research without the source of the funding ever being revealed? This was common practice in the 1960s and 1970s, and colleges like MIT were among those involved in this chicanery.

Remember also how intelligence agency money was behind the journal Encounter? Lots of propaganda got distributed under the guise of objective social science research.

donald scott , October 3, 2017 6:05 PM

Where has IHE been for the past several decades? Read Rosenfeld's book, Subversives..... about the FBI's illegal acts at Berkeley. Or read this, a summary of his book: https://alumni.berkeley.edu... Or read George R. Stewart, The Year of the Oath.

In the research for my biography of Stewart I found significant information about CIA presence on the UC Berkeley campus, in the mid-twentieth century, which reached in to the highest levels of the administration and led to a network of "professors" recruited by that unAmerican spy agency.

The oaths, the current gender wars and the conviction by accusation of harassment are all later attempts to politicize education and turn fiat lux into fiat nox. IHE should be writing more about that and about the current conviction by sexual accusation, and the effect of such on free thought and free inquiry.

[Oct 16, 2017]

Oct 16, 2017 | matveychev-oleg.livejournal.com
-- Согласно внешнеполитической доктрине США само существование Советского Союза было несовместимо с американской безопасностью. Изменилось ли, на Ваш взгляд, отношение США к России после официальной констатации окончания "холодной войны" и распада СССР?

-- К 1991 году, если судить по документам МВФ и ряду документов внутри самих США, американцами было проведено глубокое изучение нашей экономики и морально-политического состояния и настроения советского народа. Конгресс США рассмотрел эти материалы и в результате был принят закон 102 от 1992 года под оскорбительным для России названием "Закон о свободе для России и новых независимых государств". Одновременно, осенью 1992 года, Объединённый комитет начальников штабов США доложил президенту и Конгрессу оценку состояния Вооружённых Сил США, где в первом же абзаце 11-й главы "Специальные операции" говорится, что, не смотря на то, что руководители России взяли на себя обязательства реформировать свои Вооружённые Силы и правоохранительные органы, Россия всё равно будет оставаться нашим главным противником, требующим самого пристального внимания.

( Читать дальше... Свернуть )
-- Но можно ведь и сказать, что это были только первые постсоветские годы, и США, быть может, ещё находились под впечатлением недавнего милитаристского с их точки зрения прошлого нашей страны? Просто-напросто не спешили нам доверять.

-- Можно сказать, что тогда ещё было горячее время, "лихие 1990-е", но Несколько лет тому назад Норвежский институт стратегических исследований опубликовал работу, написанную бывшим советским офицером, который, вероятно, когда-то "ушёл" на Запад (я специально не исследовал это обстоятельство) под названием "Может ли территория бывшей сверхдержавы стать полем боя". В ней он, исходя из собственного опыта и на основании анализа многих документов, даёт заключение, какое сопротивление на территории России могут встретить военные подразделения стран НАТО: в каком месте их будут встречать камнями, в каком месте будут стрелять, а в каком будут приветствовать.

Насколько нам удалось понять, в дальнейшем наблюдая за судьбой этой работы, она прошла большой круг исследования в странах НАТО и была очень серьёзно принята в США. Они, конечно, никогда в этом не признаются, но это так. Так что я полностью уверен, что со времён крушения Советского Союза отношение США к нам не изменилось. Сегодняшнее внимание США к России -- это внимание к не поверженному окончательно в 1991 году противнику. И США руководствуются этим принципом в осуществлении своей внешней политики.

-- Если США, по-прежнему нам не доверяют и, мягко говоря, не способствуют нашему развитию, то почему они не боялись возрождения послевоенной Германии, своего реального врага на поле боя?

-- Возрождения послевоенной Германии американцы не боялись, как не боятся её усиления сейчас, потому что в 1949 году, прежде чем окончательно сформировалась ФРГ, которой разрешили иметь Бундесвер, Германию по рукам и ногам связали соглашениями с США и другими странами НАТО. Бывший начальник военной контрразведки Бундесвера генерал Камоса опубликовал книгу "Секретные игры тайных служб", где прямо пишет, что согласно послевоенным германо-американским соглашениям каждый новый канцлер Германии, приходящий к управлению страной, должен сразу после выборов приехать в США и подписаться под документом под названием "Канцлер-акт". Срок окончания "Канцлер-акта" -- 2099 год.

Процитирую вам выдержку из "Секретных игр тайных служб":

"21 мая 1949 года Федеральная разведка опубликовала под грифом "Совершенно секретно" тайный государственный договор, в котором были изложены основные принципы подходов победителей к суверенитету Федеральной республики до 2099 года "

Останется ли к этому времени немец немцем? Останется ли к этому времени Бундесвер способным воевать так, как он воевал во Второй Мировой войне? Каково вообще конечное назначение "Канцлер-акта"? Вот какие вопросы возникают при чтении этой книги.

Кстати, генерал Камоса был очень осторожен, поэтому не осмелился издать "Секретные игры тайных служб" в Германии, а вынужден был выпустить книгу в Австрии. Был небольшой шум. Наши корреспонденты, которые прочитали "Секретные игры тайных служб" в Австрии, опубликовали маленькую заметку: отдаёт ли себе отчёт генерал Камоса какую "бомбу" он выдал? Вместе с тем они задались вопросом: а что подписали в 1991 году наши руководители? Политический обозреватель "Независимой газеты" Фаенко полгода назад в одной из своих статей выложил свою "бомбу" Он пишет, что в США очень многие видные политические деятели и крупные бизнесмены недовольны тем, что Россия не придерживается негласных соглашений, которые были подписаны её руководителями.

-- Была ли, на Ваш взгляд, у СССР вообще хоть когда-нибудь пусть теоретическая возможность стать полноценным партнёром США? Ну, хотя бы на пике советско-американского сотрудничества во Второй Мировой войне.

-- Нет, потому что вина за то, что немцы в 1941 году напали на СССР, в том числе лежит и на США. Об этом почему-то сейчас не вспоминают, но ведь в 1940-м году советник английского премьер-министра Черчилля -- Монтгомери Хайд, который помогал Уильяму Доновану (один из руководителей американских спецслужб -- авт.) создавать Управление стратегических служб, передал ему для вручения президенту США Рузвельту письмо Черчилля, где тот писал: поскольку США не находятся в состоянии войны с Германией, то не могли бы вы побудить Гитлера оставить в покое Балканы и ускорить мероприятия в отношении России. С той поры прошло уже много лет и многим на Западе кажется, что про это письмо все забыли. Но забыть можно лишь тогда, когда ты не хочешь помнить о чём-то.

Сегодня никто не вспоминает так же, что на самом деле подготовка ко Второй Мировой войне началась в 1929 году со встречи американского президента Герберта Гувера с виднейшими предпринимателями США из центра Рассела; есть у них такое тайное общество. Оно заявило Гуверу:

"Приближается кризис, попытаться избежать трудного положения, в котором могут оказаться США, можно лишь изменив расстановку сил в мире. Для этого надо оказать помощь России, чтобы она окончательно избавилась от разрухи -- последствий гражданской войны, и помочь Германии избавиться от тисков Версальского договора". "Но на это нужны деньги, -- возразил Гувер, -- несколько миллиардов. Да и для чего нам это нужно, что будет потом?". "А потом надо столкнуть Россию и Германию лбами для того, чтобы, воспрянув после кризиса, США оказались только один на один с оставшимся из этих противников".

Такие деньги в результате были выделены. И те же самые американские концерны, которые помогали России восстанавливать хозяйство -- строили заводы, участвовали в создании Днепрогэса -- восстанавливали и оснащали Германию. Не зря же дед президента США Буша -- Прескотт Буш, который в 1930-е годы помогал немцам, сразу после начала войны был лишён права управлять своим имуществом, исходя из того, что США в данный момент находятся в состоянии войны с Германией. Всё это документально зафиксировано, в том числе и в пятитомнике американского экономиста и историка Энтони Саттона. А что было после войны известно: американцы на протяжении всего 20 века вели очень серьёзную, продуманную работу по уничтожению оставшегося у них одного сильного противника в лице СССР.

Кстати, наглядно принцип выборочной памяти в отношении истории демонстрировал сегодня, например, Сванидзе в своей передаче "Суд времени", где регулярно нарочно умалчивает о важных фактах, ну, а если собеседник ему о них напоминает, то он его быстро обрывает. Смотреть эту передачу, конечно, было противно, но интересно, потому что она показывает глубину работы американцев по осуществлению операции влияния на противную сторону. В Америке же разработана очень интересная система влияния на большие людские массивы, для того, чтобы убедить их принять американскую точку зрения по тому или иному поводу.

-- С 1979 по 1991 год Вы возглавляли Управление нелегальной разведки КГБ СССР, поэтому наверняка лучше всех знаете, каковы, кроме чисто гуманитарного навязывания американского взгляда на прошлое и настоящее той или иной страны, ещё цели деятельности "системы влияния на большие людские массивы"?

-- Например, чтобы получить во взаимоотношениях с тем или иным государством какое-либо дипломатическое преимущество. Именно поэтому политическая линия США по разрушению внутреннего спокойного содержания той или иной страны глубоко продумана, а не локальна и спонтанна, как иногда кажется. Для этого во многих странах создаются прослойки людей, распространяющих те идеи, которые им диктуют на Западе, чтобы облегчить ему овладение конкретной территорией. Ведь ещё Сунь Цзы говорил, что лучше покорить страну, не сражаясь. США, начав серьезно изучать нас в 1917-м году, больше никогда не оставляли вне поля своего зрения, занимались не просто аналитической или научной работой, а вели и очень серьёзную разведывательную деятельность.

Кстати, интересный факт. После взрыва башен-близнецов в Нью-Йорке американцы провели большую работу по изучению опыта борьбы советской власти с басмачеством. Между прочим, и развитие терроризма в странах Ближнего Востока, Юго-Восточной Азии, и на нашей территории -- явление отнюдь не случайное. Если внимательно посмотреть, кто учился в специальных школах на территории США и Великобритании, то становится понятно, что именно там готовили моджахедов и ваххабитов, скажем, для подрывной деятельности в Уфе или на Северном Кавказе.

А то, что происходило в Татарстане в районе Зеленодольска -- было, видимо, подготовлено англичанами, я имею в виду волнения среди мусульман, спровоцированные ваххабитами, которых, к счастью, сами татары быстро подавили; люди, организовавшие эти волнения, ведь ездили на подготовку в Англию, и очень много было таких людей. Или взять сложности, которые сейчас переживает Башкирия. Они тоже имеют западные корни. И удивляться тут нечему, потому что американцы создали специальное учреждение -- Объединённый университет по подготовке лидеров антитеррористических организаций, под эгидой которого и готовятся кадры для организации волнений в различных регионах мира, а не только для реальной борьбы с террором.

Тут надо ещё сказать вот что Запад использует территорию Афганистана и территории наших Среднеазиатских республик для проникновения в Россию. В Афганистане готовят людей, которые создают очаги напряжённости в Киргизии, Таджикистане, Узбекистане В данном случае американцы осуществляют план, который изложен в работе "Задачи ВВС США на Северном Кавказе и в Средней Азии" -- разделять бывшие республики СССР на куски, чтобы тут же подбирать то, что отвалится.

-- Вы несколько лет работали резидентом советской разведки в Нью-Йорке и знаете Америку и её политическое устройство, что называется, изнутри. Скажите, может ли политика США в отношении России колебаться в зависимости от личностных особенностей тех или иных персон американского правящего истаблишмента? Насколько независимы, по Вашему мнению, в принятии решений высшие государственные деятели США?

-- Несколько лет назад Конгресс США возложил на президента в качестве одной из приоритетных его задач работу с общественными организациями, а руководитель Госдепартамента США Кондолиза Райс незадолго до своего ухода с этого поста утвердила специальную директиву "О задачах Госдепартамента при осуществлении специальных операций политического влияния", где расписаны функции каждого дипломатического сотрудника: от посла до самого маленького драгомана.

В контексте ответа на ваш вопрос большой интерес представляет работа, подготовленная Rand Corporation (неофициальный мозговой центр правительства США -- авт.) "Внешняя политика США до и после Буша", где дана оценка целому комплексу политических мероприятий правительства США и выработана национальная стратегия в отношении стран, которые представляют для США большой интерес. Так что политика США по отношению к России и к другим интересным им странам -- это тщательно продуманный подход при подготовке любых официальных или неофициальных мероприятий. Другое дело, что выводы, которые делают те или иные американские аналитики из того же Rand Corporation, не всегда воспринимаются администрацией США при разработке конкретных мероприятий -- и это святое право любого государственного деятеля -- но то, что к ним внимательно прислушиваются, это точно.

-- Декларировали когда-нибудь вслух США свои интересы к недрам СССР или идея освоить природные богатства нашей страны стала витать в воздухе только в постсоветское время?

-- В отношении экономических богатств нашей страны у США аппетиты были большими всегда. Мало кто знает, что в конце Великой Отечественной войны, когда странами-участницами антигитлеровской коалиции обсуждалось будущее мира, были приняты два решения, цитирую:

"создать Организацию объединённых наций с Советом безопасности -- как прообраз мирового правительства" и -- на нём особенно настаивали американские миллиардеры -- "создать трёхстороннюю комиссию для осуществления постепенных попыток слияния экономик США и СССР".

И такая комиссия была создана. Она существовала. Она действовала. Когда я работал в Америке, мне приходилось принимать участие в некоторых встречах с Рокфеллером, и по его вопросам мне становилось понятно, что в результате хотят от СССР американцы.

Для них главной политической целью работы в этой комиссии было, конечно, полное поглощение нашей экономики, о чём некоторые люди из ЦК КПСС, стоявшие тогда у руля нашей экономической политики, знали или догадывались, но участвовали в этой игре, надеясь в свою очередь перехитрить противника и посредством этой комиссии усовершенствовать торговые контакты между СССР и Западом. В некоторых случаях им это удавалось, в некоторых нет, а вот Западу, чтобы полностью реализовать свои замыслы понадобилось, как мы видим, около 50-ти лет.

-- Судя по тому, что Вы пишите в своей книге "Операция "Президент". От "холодной войны" до перезагрузки", всё ужасное для России только начинается:

"Мир вступил в фазу наиболее опасного противостояния -- цивилизованного. Цена поражения в этом противостоянии -- полное исчезновение с лица Земли одной из цивилизаций".

-В данном случае под словом "цивилизация" понимается система или системы ценностей, объединяющих людей разных национальностей, живущих в разных государствах и исповедующих разные религии. Могущественные транснациональные олигархические кланы уже определили будущее всего человечества, а академические круги Запада даже придали ему для большей убедительности научно-теоретическую форму. Практический процесс глобализации уже идет, и с каждым годом мир неуклонно приближается к торжеству нового мирового порядка.

При этом история Запада не дает никаких оснований для надежды на то, что его правящие круги предоставят незападным странам и народам необходимые ресурсы и материальные блага, которые западные государства целеустремленно отбирали у них на протяжении столетий. Вся мировая история убедительно свидетельствует, что они никогда и ни при каких обстоятельствах не пойдут на уменьшение своего потребления ради выживания незападных народов. В этих условиях России уготована участь тельца, который должен быть принесен в жертву "для блага всего человечества", как и предлагал почти сто лет назад личный советник президента США Вильсона полковник Хауз.

-- Каково в этой ситуации будет значение органов госбезопасности, призванных охранять суверенитет страны?

-- Голландский ученый, лауреат Нобелевской премии Ян Тинберген прямо говорил:

"Обеспечение безопасности нельзя отдать на усмотрение суверенных национальных государств. < > Мы должны стремиться к созданию децентрализованного планетарного суверенитета и сети сильных международных институтов, которые будут его осуществлять ".

Вот так. Глобальная структуризация и иерархизация мира при одновременном упразднении суверенитета национальных государств откроет олигархии свободный доступ ко всем природным ресурсам планеты.

-- Давая оценку советскому политическому наступлению периода разрядки, администрация США делала вывод, что активность советских разведывательных операций в пять раз превышает размеры деятельности ЦРУ и союзников. Но если иметь в виду, что могильщиком СССР всё-таки стали США, то возникает резонный вопрос: а почему же мы проиграли?

-- Американский разведчик, бывший резидент США в Индии Гарри Розицки в своей книге написал, что если бы в США была такая нелегальная разведывательная служба, как в Советском Союзе, численностью хотя бы человек в 100, то Америка могла бы чувствовать себя спокойно. Так что, разведка не проиграла. Проиграла страна в целом. А проиграла, потому что у нас не было времени. Ведь практически весь период первых пятилеток, когда нам удалось кое-что создать, и то происходил в условиях борьбы. Причём борьбы, как извне, так и в результате очень серьёзных споров и разногласий в политическом руководстве СССР. Причём эти разногласия были и в последние годы существования СССР.

В частности на примере взаимодействия разведки и политической власти СССР могу сказать, что работа наших руководителей по использованию установленных нами связей в политических интересах государства в какой-то мере была ослаблена. Каждый из руководителей считал свою точку зрения истинной в последней инстанции, у них были серьёзные споры друг с другом. Скажем, по делу Шевченко (в 1970-е годы зам представителя СССР в ООН, сбежавший на Запад ) мне Юрий Владимирович (Андропов) прямо сказал:

"Я прочитал всё, что ты писал. Ты был прав, и никто тебя наказывать не будет".

Дело в том, что заподозрив Шевченко в измене, я, как резидент нашей разведки в США, стал сигнализировать об этом в Москву. А в результате получил запрет на наблюдение за Шевченко! Тем не менее, я сам себе сказал: "Нет, так дело не пойдёт!" и продолжал отправлять компрометирующие Шевченко материалы в центр.

-- Запрет трогать Шевченко был внутриведомственным конфликтом и нежеланием бросать тень на МИД или в Москве его берегли агенты влияния во властных структурах?

-- Мне сложно сейчас сказать, почему мне не разрешали трогать Шевченко, но я знаю, что влияние самого Шевченко на наших руководителей было достаточно высоким. Он и его семья были в очень близких отношениях с Громыко. Кроме этого у Шевченко была ещё группа хороших знакомых на разных должностях и в разных позициях, которые могли ему подыгрывать, оказывая влияние на наших руководителей, которые рассматривали мои материалы по Шевченко. Поскольку Шевченко проработал в Нью-Йорке большой промежуток времени, мои предшественники, которые там с ним общались, тоже чувствовали себя немного связанными, боялись получить выговор, если что-то всплывёт, и не поехать потом заграницу. Это естественные вещи Бывают в жизни, к сожалению, такие истории. (Вздыхает). Трояновский (советский дипломат, следующий, после Шевченко, представитель СССР в ООН -- авт.) тогда меня прямо спросил:

"А что, разве не может советский человек выбрать себе новую родину?"

Я ему ответил:

"Родина -- одна, можно сменить место жительства".

И нажил ещё одного недруга.

-- Тогда, быть может, одной из внутренних причин гибели Советского Союза было то, что, как Вы выразились "работа наших руководителей по использованию установленных нами связей в политических интересах государства в какой-то мере была ослаблена", что, говоря простым языком означает: информацию разведчиков принимали к сведению, но использовать не спешили. Вы ощущали политический или дипломатический эффект от своей работы?

-- В принципе, ощущал, и даже бывал на приёмах у наших руководителей, которые знакомились с результатами работы нелегальной разведки и принимали на её основании решения, но, с другой стороны, скажем, в моём личном деле, как мне говорили, есть резолюция ещё самого Никиты Сергеевича Хрущёва, которого в 1960-х годах я, как резидент советской разведки в Китае, предупреждал о готовящихся столкновениях на Даманском, а Хрущёв на материале с этой моей информацией написал:

"Не верю".

А ведь мы тогда специально отправили людей в район сосредоточения китайских подразделений напротив Даманского, где тогда жили бывшие белогвардейцы; эти люди встретились там с нашим древним "источником", который рассказал, что китайцы прогнали его с собственной пасеки, построили на её месте гигантский ящик с песком, в котором воссоздали всю территорию по ту сторону границы, которая принадлежала СССР, и проводят там военные учения.

После этой информации мы изучили положение дел на китайских железных дорогах -- какие и куда осуществляются перевозки, поговорили с иностранцами, а окончательный вывод, к сожалению, оказавшийся верным, нам помогло сделать одно обстоятельство. У меня была встреча с представителями концерна "Крупп", которым мы поставляли водку и которых по целому ряду вопросов обхаживали китайцы, и один из этих представителей мне прямо сказал:

"Вы что -- слепые? Не видите, что китайцы делают? А я вижу, потому что я -- "Крупп", я -- сталь, а сталь -- это война!".

Вот и весь разговор, который тем не менее переполнил чашу наших догадок. Мы обобщили информацию и сделали вывод: следует ожидать вооружённой провокации в районе Даманского. Но Хрущёв нам не поверил.

Заместитель покойного Александра Михайловича Сахаровского (в то время руководитель ПГУ КГБ СССР) генерал-лейтенант Мортин, который в это время сидел на его месте, когда я приехал в отпуск и с ним встретился, сказал мне: "Слушай, ты меня в инфаркт вгонишь своими телеграммами!" (Смеётся). Его можно понять, была ведь трудная обстановка. В Китае шла культурная революция, всё больше и больше приобретающая антисоветский и антирусский характер, в которой, кстати, активно участвовали бывшие троцкисты, которых выкинули из США и почему-то бросили в Китай; это произошло в разгар маккартизма в конце 1940-х годов. Я с некоторыми из них был знаком. Хорошо знал Анну Луизу Стронг, Ванштейна. Все они хорошо говорили по-русски.

- Слушаю и не понимаю, за что же Вас тогда было поздравлять с днём рождения самому Мао Цзэдуну?

-- Мао Цзэдун не мог меня поздравить. Это была шутка моих коллег. Когда я справлял в Китае один из своих дней рождения, ребята, которые входили в состав нашей резидентуры, изготовили "сообщение" сводки "Синьхуа" (китайское информационное агентство -- авт.) по этому событию. (Смеётся). Спустя много лет после этого случая, когда я приехал на работу в Нью-Йорк, где встречал своё 50-летие, то застал там несколько моих бывших сотрудников, которые хорошо помнили тот наш китайский период. Они-то и принесли и положили передо мной рулон телетайпной ленты, где сообщалось, что Юрия Дроздова с юбилеем поздравил Мао Цзэдун. Я говорю:

"Опять сотворили провокацию?"

Тут надо понять, что "американцы" и "китайцы" были в разведке двумя внутренне доброжелательно соперничающими структурами, а эта шутка дала мне понять, что большая легальная резидентура в США приняла меня за своего.

-- Возвращаясь к Китаю Как я понимаю, в 1960-е годы разглядеть истоки китайского экономического чуда было ещё нельзя? Разведке не из чего было делать такие далеко идущие выводы?

-- Когда в 1968 году я заканчивал свою работу на посту резидента советской разведки в Китае, мне из центра прислали телеграмму:

"Не смотря на то, что ваша работа в Китае завершена, Юрий Владимирович просит вас задержаться на месяц и написать свои соображения относительно положения в Китае и перспектив советско-китайских отношений".

В течении этого месяца я написал 103 страницы, где среди прочего было сказано, что ситуация, которая складывается в настоящее время в Китае изменчива, китайцы решают вопрос создания новой общественной формации, но в этом нет ничего удивительного, к этому надо относится терпимо и исходить из того, что китайцы будут использовать в интересах своей страны передовые элементы как социалистической, так и капиталистической систем.

После моего возвращения из Китая прошло больше года, когда мне однажды позвонил Андропов: "Возвращаю тебе твой отчёт по Китаю" и отдал мне мой материал. И добавил: "На нём есть пометки. Знаешь, чьи?" Пожимаю плечами:

"Нет, не знаю". "Эта пометка такого-то, эта такого-то, а вот эта такого-то -- называет Андропов фамилии высоких политических деятелей. -- А вообще-то смело написано!"

-- Правда, что в кабинете одного из американских контрразведчиков висел портрет Андропова?

-- Да, правда. Это был начальник отделения ФБР в штате Нью-Джерси. Это было в середине 1970-х. Лично я этого портрета не видел, его видел наш сотрудник, который поддерживал контакты с ФБР по обмену наших товарищей, которые тогда сидели в центральной нью-йоркской тюрьме. Энгера и Черняева. Кстати, фактически их выдал как раз Шевченко, хотя, в принципе, их не должны были поймать, однако, во время одной из операций Черняева и Энгера задержали, потому что мы не учли, что американцы пустят в воздух небольшой спортивный самолётик, с которого и будут вести наблюдение за нашими разведчиками. Так вот. Когда наш сотрудник был в кабинете у начальника отделения ФБР, он поднял глаза, увидел на стене портрет Андропова и страшно удивился. Был ответ:

"А чего ты удивляешься? Я что, не могу повесить портрет руководителя лучшей разведки мира?"

-- Было ли с Андроповым у СССР перспектив выжить больше, чем с любым другим советским лидером? Каковы Ваши впечатления об Андропове?

-- Помню, Семичастный (в начале 1960-х руководитель КГБ СССР -- авт.) впервые отправил меня на доклад к Андропову, как к заведующему отделом социалистических стран ЦК. Я не ожидал, что встречу в ЦК абсолютно другого, нежели остальные партийные руководители человека, с которым можно разговаривать, интересного; мы просидели с Андроповым тогда больше 4-х часов, он расспрашивал о Китае, а в это время к нему в кабинет заходили и выходили люди, некоторых Андропов оставлял:

"Сиди, слушай, тебе это нужно".

Андропов, например, читал всё: и приятное, и неприятное, а ведь были и такие руководители, которые читали только приятную информацию.

Андропов никогда никому не мстил. Если видел, что у человека что-то не получается, то просто переводил его на другую работу, а если, к примеру, он убирал чекиста совершившего какую-то ошибку в другое подразделение, то, получив дополнительное объяснение, почему человек ошибся, мог и изменить свою точку зрения. Помню, как-то во время нашего доклада Андропову, Юрий Владимирович сказал, что у него есть другая, отличная от нашей, информация. Я возразил: "Это не так". Андропов говорит:

"Сколько надо дней, чтобы проверить, кто прав: я или ты?" "Дней 40-50. Сложные условия".

Крючков меня потом упрекал, зачем я среагировал так грубо, но я сказал, что Андропов с давних пор просил меня говорить только правду. Спустя срок меня встречает тот же Крючков:

"Ну как?" "К сожалению, прав оказался я". (Смеётся).

Сейчас ФСБ готовит к выходу книгу "Команда Андропова", куда я написал свои впечатления об отношениях с Юрием Владимировичем, которые озаглавил "Ю.В.Андропов (на партучёте в нелегальной разведке)". (Улыбается). Он ведь действительно был членом нашей партийной организации. Приходил. Но не каждый раз, человек он всё-таки был очень занятый.

-- Каковы были максимальные сроки пребывания разведчиков на нелегальном положении? И, кстати, когда нелегала было подготовить проще: в Ваше время или сейчас?

-- В те годы, когда приходилось работать нам, будущий нелегал зачастую не имел тех качеств, которые имеют сегодня самые обычные люди; у наших сотрудников, к примеру, изначально не было зубастой хватки людей, занимающихся бизнесом. Поэтому нередко приходилось смотреть, какие личностные качества присущи конкретному человеку и фактически давать ему второе образование, от средней школы -- до высшего. У нас не было нелегалов, которые знали бы только один иностранный язык, минимум 2-3. То есть мы проделывали огромную работу.

В одном случае, самый короткий срок подготовки нелегала для конкретной цели у нас составил 7 лет, после чего человек 3 года отработал за рубежом и украсил свою грудь 2-мя орденами и знаком "Почётный чекист". Естественно, что срок подготовки нелегала зависит от поставленной перед ним цели. А цель бывает разная: от хорошего места, где он может спокойно жить и работать, до сейфа какого-нибудь зарубежного руководителя. В этом смысле самый длинный период от начала работы в нелегальных условиях до выполнения поставленного задания составил 17 лет; человек этот, к слову, вернулся Героем Советского Союза.

Продолжение будет обязательно.

Продолжение будет обязательно.

Источник

[Aug 18, 2017] Nomenklatura was an internal contradiction that doomed the USSR

Notable quotes:
"... Kotz and Weir's "Russia's Path From Gorbachev to Putin" is decent as an explanation. ..."
"... To sum it up, laws in 1986-87 effectively criminalized the 'command departments' of the Central Committee in planning policy through Gosplan, Gossnab, and Gosbank. A national market was encouraged by individual activity laws, joint stock laws, cooperative laws, and the directive banning the federal monopoly on inter-state trade in 1988. ..."
"... Out of this top-down 'reform,' a minority of Soviet Enterprises began mimicking capitalist infrastructure: managers, directors, and ministers (of companies and banks) granting themselves larger wages or salaries, using the surpluses to buy up and monopolize the stocks and infrastructure of competing companies, using artificial resale of (monopolized) local goods or exclusively selling natural resources to Western clients, tripling the profits for a minority of private households. ..."
"... This nascent middle class used this newfound profit to privatize Soviet media, effectively monopolizing it by the end of the decade, shifting the narratives of Soviet society, bribing politicians to convince the Soviet population that 'market reform' wasn't total privatization of resources, stocks, and companies, and 'Russian autonomy' wasn't succession from the Union (neutral European Polls found clear majorities in the original nine Soviet Republics continued to support democratic socialism, social democracy, and preserving the Union in 1991). Political crisis, like the Moscow coup in August of 1991, was used to manipulate the passive public in accepting fundamental change. ..."
"... The Soviet Union effectively repeated the Yugoslav model: self-governed, democratically managed, or autonomous companies (and later republics) 'fairly competing' in an unregulated or semi-regulated national market. Both models produced middle classes pushing for the acceptance of IMF credits, total privatization of any state companies to repay Western debts, and seceding from a Union of socialist states. ..."
"... Fair competition in a 'socialist' market is a myth. ..."
Aug 18, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

anoymous | Aug 17, 2017 4:59:14 PM | 62

@52

I remember reading Shahak's translation of Yinon's "A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties" and seeing other articles in the Zionist collection arguing nuclear war was the ideological core of Marxism-Leninism, implying the Soviet Politburo and Soviet society would never accept reform without it.

Do you think 'ideological readings' of foreign policy are always the best interpretation?

@Madderhatter67 | Aug 17, 2017 4:25:43 PM | 59

Stonebird

The Soviet Union collapsed because of its internal contradictions. Not due to overspending.

stonebird | Aug 17, 2017 4:45:30 PM | 61

Thirdeye @56.

Gently is the name of the game. The whole "movement" is probably based on a long-term scenario. The Chinese think along those lines. So OK they won't blow the house down, but they will move in incremental steps. It might take generations to fully exploit the gap left by the US loosing influence.

"Save the US"? Maybe, if they can gain something in exchange - but it won't be cash.

Madderhatter67 @59
That was one of them, and another would have been the "rise" of the Nomenklatura (with only one million card-carrying voters). Which just shows that an "elite", when in power, simply won't look after anyone but themselves.

I presume that is what you meant by "internal contradictions", - having an unaccountable elite in a supposedly socialist/egalitarian country. But it was for their egos that they overspent on the immediately visble - and not on the infrastructure needed to keep the country going.
(Tut tut, doesn't that remind you of somewhere?)

@Madderhatter67 | Aug 17, 2017 5:21:58 PM | 63

Stonebird

Nomenklatura was an internal contradiction.

"Some Marxists, such as Ernest Mandel, have criticised Djilas and the theory of state capitalism: "The hypothesis that the Soviet bureaucracy is a new ruling class does not correspond to a serious analysis of the real development and the real contradictions of Soviet society and economy in the last fifty years."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomenklatura#Criticism

&

"The New Class: An Analysis of the Communist System is a political theory book by communist Yugoslav figure and intellectual Milovan Đilas about the concept of the new class.[1][2] He proposed that the party-state officials formed a class which "uses, enjoys and disposes of nationalised property".[3]"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_Class:_An_Analysis_of_the_Communist_System

anoymous | Aug 17, 2017 5:28:18 PM | 65

@59

@61

It is an apologist work for Khrushchevite and Gorbachevite ideology, but Kotz and Weir's "Russia's Path From Gorbachev to Putin" is decent as an explanation.

The rate of Soviet GNP was uneven, but not consistently negative until after the successions of Russia and the separation of Soviet Republics from the Union.

To sum it up, laws in 1986-87 effectively criminalized the 'command departments' of the Central Committee in planning policy through Gosplan, Gossnab, and Gosbank. A national market was encouraged by individual activity laws, joint stock laws, cooperative laws, and the directive banning the federal monopoly on inter-state trade in 1988.

Out of this top-down 'reform,' a minority of Soviet Enterprises began mimicking capitalist infrastructure: managers, directors, and ministers (of companies and banks) granting themselves larger wages or salaries, using the surpluses to buy up and monopolize the stocks and infrastructure of competing companies, using artificial resale of (monopolized) local goods or exclusively selling natural resources to Western clients, tripling the profits for a minority of private households.

This nascent middle class used this newfound profit to privatize Soviet media, effectively monopolizing it by the end of the decade, shifting the narratives of Soviet society, bribing politicians to convince the Soviet population that 'market reform' wasn't total privatization of resources, stocks, and companies, and 'Russian autonomy' wasn't succession from the Union (neutral European Polls found clear majorities in the original nine Soviet Republics continued to support democratic socialism, social democracy, and preserving the Union in 1991). Political crisis, like the Moscow coup in August of 1991, was used to manipulate the passive public in accepting fundamental change.

anoymous | Aug 17, 2017 5:40:53 PM | 66
@63

While I come from a Yugoslav family, I have far less sympathy for market socialist ideology. I've never understood the romanticism so many Westerners have always had for the Old Country. Mind you, I'm not including you in this.

The Soviet Union effectively repeated the Yugoslav model: self-governed, democratically managed, or autonomous companies (and later republics) 'fairly competing' in an unregulated or semi-regulated national market. Both models produced middle classes pushing for the acceptance of IMF credits, total privatization of any state companies to repay Western debts, and seceding from a Union of socialist states.

Fair competition in a 'socialist' market is a myth.

[Aug 11, 2017] Is the United States in Decline by Christopher Layne

Notable quotes:
"... Writing in the Financial Times , former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said that London's AIIB decision and its aftermath "may be remembered as the moment the United States lost its role as the underwriter of the global economic system." ..."
"... Summers was both right and wrong. The U.S. role as the hegemonic power in international politics and economics indeed is being challenged. But this did not start when Britain and the others decided to sign-up with the AIIB. America has been slowly, almost imperceptibly, losing its grip on global leadership for some time, and the Great Recession merely accelerated that process. China's successful launch of the AIIB and its OBOR offspring merely accentuates that process. ..."
"... While President Trump lacks any serious, coherent worldview, there are more than enough Republican members of the foreign policy establishment to ensure that he doesn't break with America's post-1945, bipartisan policy of primacy. And Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again'' certainly puts him in the camp of U.S. global dominance. ..."
"... But Paul Kennedy was correct when he noted in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers that in the history of the modern international system (since around 1500) no state has managed to remain permanently atop the great power pyramid. "American exceptionalism" notwithstanding, the United States will not be an exception. ..."
"... Pax Americana was the product of a unique post-World War II constellation of power. As scholars such as Kennedy and Gilpin have pointed out, when World War II ended the United States accounted for half of the world's manufacturing output and controlled some two-thirds of the world's gold and foreign exchange. Only America could project air and naval power globally. ..."
"... the United States kept the Soviet Union at bay until that artificial regime collapsed of its own weight. ..."
"... today China's AIIB presents a double-barreled challenge to U.S. leadership of the global economy as well as to Pax Americana's institutional (and ideational) foundations. The AIIB aims at enhancing China's role both in managing the international economy and in international development. With AIIB China means to demonstrate its seriousness in demanding a share of decision-making power in the Bretton Woods legacy institutions, the IMF and World Bank, reflecting its current economic and financial clout. The AIIB's impact, however, transcends international economic affairs and reflects the shifting Sino-American balance of power. ..."
"... because of the AIIB, America's "international credibility and influence are being threatened." ..."
"... For their part, the Chinese regarded the U.S. stance as an attempt to counter China's rise and its ambition to become the dominant power in East Asia. As China's former Vice Minister of Finance, Wei Jianguo, put it, "You could think of this as a basketball game in which the U.S. wants to set the duration of the game, size of the court, the height of the basket and everything else to suit itself. In fact, the U.S. just wants to exclude China from the game." ..."
"... China's rise within the post-1945 international order doesn't mean it has any interest in preserving Pax Americana's core. On the contrary, the evidence suggests China wants to reshape the international order to reflect its own interests, norms, and values. As Martin Jacques puts it: ..."
"... The main plan of American soft power is democracy within nation-states; China by way of contrast emphasizes democracy between nation-states!most notably in respect for sovereignty!and democracy in the world system. China's criticism of the Western-dominated international system and its governing institutions strikes a strong chord with the developing world at a time when these institutions are widely recognized to be unrepresentative and seriously flawed. ..."
"... Rules and institutions do not exist in a vacuum. Rather, they reflect the distribution of power in the international system. In global politics, the rules are made by those who rule. ..."
"... As E. H. Carr, the renowned English historian of international politics, once observed, a rules-based international order "cannot be understood independently of the political foundation on which it rests and the political interests which it serves." The post-World War II international order is an American order that, while preserving world stability for a long time, primarily privileged U.S. and Western interests. ..."
"... But Beijing, by all the evidence, does not see it that way. And OBOR and the AIIB prove the point. Instead of living within the geopolitical, economic, and institutional confines imposed by Pax Americana, an increasingly powerful China will seek to revise the international order so that it reflects its own political and economic interests. Thus are OBOR and the AIIB straws in the wind. And, as the great Bob Dylan said, you don't need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. ..."
"... Paradoxically the acceleration in the decline began with the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Incredible hubris followed, and we are reaping the usual results. ..."
Aug 11, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

No state stays on top of the great power pyramid forever. August 8, 2017 In mid-May, leaders of 29 nations, and representatives from some 80 others, descended on Beijing to discuss China's ambitious "One Belt One Road" (OBOR) development initiative!also known to some as the "New Silk Road." This plan is the follow-on to China's creation several years ago of the Asia Infrastructure Development Bank (AIIB), a major new international financial institution to foster economic development in "emerging market" nations.

OBOR, a signature policy of Chinese president Xi Jinping, calls for investing massive amounts of money ($1 trillion, according to some reports) to promote trade and economic development by constructing transportation links that will tie together East Asian manufacturing hubs with Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Africa, and Southwest Asia. These new transportation routes also will connect China with the participating nations and Europe. China's aim is twofold: to create new markets for the goods and services it produces, and to extend its geopolitical influence. Some analysts see OBOR as a Chinese version of the Marshall Plan, the important post-World War II American initiative that helped rebuild Western Europe and laid the foundation for European economic unity that ultimately culminated in the European Union.

With OBOR, China is following the example of Great Britain and the United States (as well as pre-World War I European great powers such as Germany). In the 19th century, the expansion of the British empire, including what scholars Ronald Robinson and John Gallagher describe as its "informal empire," was driven by the perceived need to find outlets for the United Kingdom's "surplus" goods and capital!that is, goods and capital that could not be profitably absorbed by the domestic economy. When the United States burst onto the world stage as a great power in the late 19th century, acquiring Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines, it imitated Britain's pursuit of both informal and formal empire for the same reason: the belief that America's continuing economic growth depended on exporting American capital and goods. China today faces the problem of insufficient demand for its products and limited prospects for profitable domestic investment. Beijing is responding to these problems pretty much as Britain and the United States did in the latter part of the 19th century: by seeking new markets and attractive investment opportunities abroad.

As both Britain and the United States demonstrated, economic expansion begets geopolitical expansion. Economic clout can buy a lot of political influence. But the lines of communication linking the home country to its overseas markets must be protected. And political stability must be maintained where the home country is investing. For Britain and the United States, economic expansion resulted in the inexorable expansion of their military power and diplomatic sway. We can expect OBOR to have a similar effect on China. It is a powerful incentive for China to expand its military projection capabilities. Beijing will be compelled to assume an increasingly active role in managing regional security in places affected by OBOR!especially in Central Asia and Pakistan, which are plagued by political instability and terrorism.

OBOR is a milestone on China's path to great power status and is one of several indicators of receding American power!not just geopolitically, but also in matters involving the international economy and international institutions. When discussing the Sino-American rivalry, attention is focused on the military balance between the United States and China and to flashpoints between the two countries that could spark a conflict!the South China Sea, the East China Sea, Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula. But these more intangible economic and diplomatic developments will be no less important in shaping relations between Washington and Beijing as in determining the fate of the world order built by the United States following World War II!that is, Pax Americana, or what is sometimes referred to as "the liberal rules-based international order."

Since the early 2000s there has been an ongoing conversation among scholars, policymakers, and members of the broader American foreign policy establishment about whether U.S. power is in decline. The question actually extends back to the 1980s, with the publication of Yale historian Paul Kennedy's The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers and other important books on the subject by scholars David Calleo and Robert Gilpin. The controversy surrounding decline dissipated, however, when the Soviet Union imploded and Japan's economic bubble burst. In one fell swoop, America's primary military and economic competitors fell off the geopolitical chessboard.

The decline issue remained dormant through the "the unipolar moment" of the 1990s but was rekindled with China's rapid great-power emergence in the early 2000s. China's rise is the flip side of American decline. The central geopolitical question of the early 21st century is whether Pax Americana can survive China's rise and the resulting shift of world geopolitical and economic power from west to east. The U.S. foreign policy establishment is allergic to the word "decline." After all, as Jon Huntsman declared during his brief presidential run in 2012: "Decline is un-American." Perhaps so, but that doesn't mean that it's not happening.

Though Huntsman has plenty of company on this issue in the foreign policy establishment, we would do better to heed the advice of the great Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige. "Don't look back," he said, "because something may be gaining on you." A glance at the rear-view mirror shows China rapidly closing the gaps with the United States in all the dimensions of power upon which the Pax Americana was built: military, economic, and institutional.

In the last decade, China has displaced the United States as the world's leading manufacturing power. In 2014, according to the World Bank, China passed America as the world's largest economy (measured by purchasing power parity). In 1980, the United States accounted for about 25 percent of gross world product. Today it accounts for around 18 percent. Some analysts have come up with clever arguments to discount the importance of these economic trends. They are unconvincing. But the reality of U.S. decline is more than just a matter of numbers; it is also evident in Washington's diminishing ability to manage the international economy and in the growing challenges to many legacy institutions of Pax Americana.

A strain of thinking called hegemonic stability theory holds that a liberal, open international economy requires an overarching power to manage and stabilize the system by creating a political and security order that permits economic openness. The United States filled this role for half a century, from 1945 until the Great Recession. The world's economic hegemon must provide public goods that benefit the international system as a whole, including: making the rules for the international economic order; opening its domestic market to other states' exports; supplying liquidity to the global economy; and providing a reserve currency. Having declined to grasp the mantle of leadership during the 1930s, Washington seized it decisively after World War II. Johns Hopkins professor Michael Mandelbaum has argued that, following the Cold War, the United States essentially acted as a de facto government for the international system by providing security and managing the global economy.

The Great Recession impaired the United States' ability to provide leadership for the international economy. After all, an economic hegemon is supposed to solve global economic crises, not cause them. But America plunged the world into economic crisis when its financial system seized up with the sub-prime mortgage crisis. A hegemon is supposed to be the lender of last resort in the international economy, but the United States became the borrower of first resort!the world's largest debtor. When the global economy falters, the economic hegemon must assume responsibility for kick-starting recovery by purchasing other nations' goods. From 1945 to the Great Recession, America's willingness to consume foreign goods constituted the primary firewall against global economic downturns. During the Great Recession, however, the U.S. economy proved too infirm to lead the global economy back to health.

At the April 2009 G20 meeting in London, President Barack Obama conceded that, in key respects, the United States' days as economic hegemon were numbered because America is too deeply in debt to continue as the world's consumer of last resort. Instead, he said, the world would have to look to China (and other emerging market states plus Germany) to be the motors of global recovery.

Another example of how the U.S. has lost its grip on global economic leadership is its failure to prevail over the Europeans (read: Germany) in the transatlantic "austerity versus stimulus" debate that commenced in late 2009. Reflecting their different historical experiences, the United States and Europe (more specifically, Germany and the European Central Bank, or ECB) adopted divergent fiscal policies during the Great Recession. Obama administration economic policymakers were guided by the Keynesian lessons learned from the 1930s Great Depression: to dig out of a deep economic slump, the federal government should boost demand by pump-priming the economy through deficit spending, and the Federal Reserve should add further stimulus through low interest rates and easy money. Obama administration policymakers and leading American economists were haunted by the "1937 analogy"!FDR's "recession within the Depression''!demonstrating that if stimulus is withdrawn prematurely, a nascent recovery may be aborted.

On the other hand, Germany!the EU's economic engine!has long been haunted by the "1923 analogy": the fear that inflation can become uncontrollable, with disastrous economic, social, and political consequences. From the founding of post-World War II West Germany until the advent of the European Monetary Union and eventually the Euro, Germany's central Bundesbank maintained a primary mission of combatting inflation and preserving the Deutschmark's value. For the German government, assurance that the new ECB would follow the Bundesbank's sound money policy was a sine qua non for Berlin's decision to give up the Deutschmark in favor of the Euro.

This U.S.-European divide on austerity versus stimulus was apparent as early as the April 2009 London G20 summit, where the United States wanted to rebalance the international economy by inducing the Europeans (most particularly, Germany, which, with China, was one of the two large surplus economies) to lift the Continent out of the Great Recession by emulating Washington's use of deficit spending to galvanize economic revival. Washington wanted Germany to export less and import more. Berlin flatly refused. German Chancellor Angela Merkel argued that for states!especially ones already deeply in debt!to accumulate more debt in an effort to spend themselves out of the Great Recession would only set the stage for an even greater crisis down the road.

Washington's inability to prevail over Berlin in the stimulus vs. austerity debate highlighted waning U.S. power in the international economy. Jack Lew, then Treasury secretary, implicitly said as much at the October 2015 IMF-World Bank annual meeting when he stated that the United States could not be the "sole engine" of global growth.

But America's inability to get Germany to give up austerity was not the only indicator of America's decreasing ability to shape the international economic agenda. During the Obama administration's first term, the United States was unable to persuade China to allow the renminbi to appreciate to Washington's preferred level (which the United States hoped would reduce China's export surplus to the United States while simultaneously boosting American exports to China).

U.S. economic and fiscal troubles have contributed significantly to the fraying of Pax Americana's institutional global framework. The Great Recession spurred calls for a major overhaul of the international institutional order as evidenced by the emergence of the G20, demands for IMF and World Bank reform, and a push for expanded membership of the UN Security Council. The past decade or so also has seen the creation of new international organizations and groupings such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). As American power wanes, a parallel or "shadow" international order is being constructed as an alternative to Pax Americana. Perhaps the most dramatic example of his is Beijing's Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

As Beijing rolled out its AIIB plans, the Obama administration kicked into high gear diplomatically in an attempt to squelch it. As the New York Times reported, Washington "lobbied against the [AIIB] with unexpected determination and engaged in a vigorous campaign to persuade important allies to shun the project." Washington's attempt to dissuade its allies from joining the AIIB failed. The dam burst when, in an Ides of March 2015 decision, Britain announced it was going to become a member of the AIIB ("Et Tu Britain?"). London's decision to join the AIIB set off a stampede as other states on the fence rushed to sign up for membership. Those joining included U.S. allies such as France, Germany, Italy, Australia, South Korea, even Israel and Taiwan. Beijing's diplomatic coup in attracting widespread support for its AIIB initiative from long-standing U.S. allies was viewed as a direct challenge to America's global geopolitical and economic leadership.

Writing in the Financial Times , former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said that London's AIIB decision and its aftermath "may be remembered as the moment the United States lost its role as the underwriter of the global economic system."

Summers was both right and wrong. The U.S. role as the hegemonic power in international politics and economics indeed is being challenged. But this did not start when Britain and the others decided to sign-up with the AIIB. America has been slowly, almost imperceptibly, losing its grip on global leadership for some time, and the Great Recession merely accelerated that process. China's successful launch of the AIIB and its OBOR offspring merely accentuates that process.

Not surprisingly, U.S. policymakers and the wider foreign policy establishment brush off any possibility of diminishing U.S. power. Recent books by leading foreign policy analysts (including Josef Joffe, Robert Lieber, and Joseph S. Nye Jr.) assert that U.S. power is robust, and that the 21st century, like the 20th, will be an "American century." Meanwhile, during the Obama administration U.S. foreign policy officials never missed a chance to assert America's continuing role as a global hegemon (though President Obama's own views on U.S. primacy seemed more nuanced). For example, the Obama administration's 2015 National Security Strategy, a twenty-nine page document, invoked the term "American leadership" more than 100 times.

While President Trump lacks any serious, coherent worldview, there are more than enough Republican members of the foreign policy establishment to ensure that he doesn't break with America's post-1945, bipartisan policy of primacy. And Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again'' certainly puts him in the camp of U.S. global dominance.

But Paul Kennedy was correct when he noted in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers that in the history of the modern international system (since around 1500) no state has managed to remain permanently atop the great power pyramid. "American exceptionalism" notwithstanding, the United States will not be an exception.

Pax Americana was the product of a unique post-World War II constellation of power. As scholars such as Kennedy and Gilpin have pointed out, when World War II ended the United States accounted for half of the world's manufacturing output and controlled some two-thirds of the world's gold and foreign exchange. Only America could project air and naval power globally.

And, of course, the United States alone had atomic weapons. America used its commanding economic, military, and political supremacy to lay the foundations of the post-World War II international order, reflected in such institutions as the United Nations, NATO, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (which has morphed into the World Trade Organization). Additionally, the United States kept the Soviet Union at bay until that artificial regime collapsed of its own weight.

All this represented a remarkable achievement, ensuring relative peace and prosperity for more than half a century. But today China's AIIB presents a double-barreled challenge to U.S. leadership of the global economy as well as to Pax Americana's institutional (and ideational) foundations. The AIIB aims at enhancing China's role both in managing the international economy and in international development. With AIIB China means to demonstrate its seriousness in demanding a share of decision-making power in the Bretton Woods legacy institutions, the IMF and World Bank, reflecting its current economic and financial clout. The AIIB's impact, however, transcends international economic affairs and reflects the shifting Sino-American balance of power.

Washington said it opposed AIIB because of doubts that it would adhere to the same environmental, governance, lending, transparency, labor, and human rights standards practiced by the IMF, World Bank, and Asian Development Bank. But Treasury's Lew was more candid when he said that, because of the AIIB, America's "international credibility and influence are being threatened."

For their part, the Chinese regarded the U.S. stance as an attempt to counter China's rise and its ambition to become the dominant power in East Asia. As China's former Vice Minister of Finance, Wei Jianguo, put it, "You could think of this as a basketball game in which the U.S. wants to set the duration of the game, size of the court, the height of the basket and everything else to suit itself. In fact, the U.S. just wants to exclude China from the game."

The Obama administration's ballyhooed Asian pivot was based on the assumption that, although the ASEAN nations of Asia, along with Australia and South Korea, are being pulled into China's economic orbit, they will turn to the United States as a geopolitical counterweight. However, Beijing's ability to get ASEAN, South Korea, and other neighboring states to jump on the AIIB bandwagon suggests this assumption may be erroneous. The pull of Beijing's economic power may override security concerns and draw these states into China's geopolitical orbit. The trajectory of ASEAN's trade flows is revealing. In 1993, the United States accounted for 18 percent of ASEAN's total trade (imports and exports combined), and China for only 2 percent. By 2013 the United States' share of ASEAN's total trade had shrunk to 8.2 percent while China's had jumped to 14 percent. The trend lines indicate that in coming years China's share of regional trade will continue to rise while that of the U.S. will decline.

Thus while OBOR and the AIIB don't get the same attention from U.S. grand strategists as does China's military buildup, they are equally important in signaling the ongoing power transition between the United States and China in East Asia. Among American security studies scholars, even those who once firmly believed that unipolarity would last far into the future now grudgingly concede that the era of American hegemony may be drawing to a close. They console themselves, however, with the thought that the United States can cushion itself against future power declines and the loss of hegemony by taking advantage of what they see as a still-open window to "lock in" Pax Americana's essential features!its institutions, rules, and norms!so that they outlive unipolarity. As Princeton's G. John Ikenberry puts it, the United States should act today to put in place an institutional framework "that will safeguard our interests in future decades when we will not be a unipolar power."

Ikenberry argues that China, having risen within the post-1945 international system, has no incentive to overturn it. His argument is superficially attractive because it posits that, even if the material foundations of U.S. dominance wither, its institutional and ideational essence will live on. This almost certainly is incorrect. China's rise within the post-1945 international order doesn't mean it has any interest in preserving Pax Americana's core. On the contrary, the evidence suggests China wants to reshape the international order to reflect its own interests, norms, and values. As Martin Jacques puts it:

The main plan of American soft power is democracy within nation-states; China by way of contrast emphasizes democracy between nation-states!most notably in respect for sovereignty!and democracy in the world system. China's criticism of the Western-dominated international system and its governing institutions strikes a strong chord with the developing world at a time when these institutions are widely recognized to be unrepresentative and seriously flawed.

Thus the "lock-in" concept isn't likely to work because China, along with much of the developing world, does not accept the foundations upon which the post-World War II liberal international order rests.

For many American scholars and policy makers the notion of a "liberal, rules-based, international order" has a talismanic quality. They believe that rules and institutions are politically neutral and thus ipso facto beneficial for all. Many proponents of "lock-in" have constructed a geopolitically antiseptic world, one uncontaminated by clashing national interests. In this world, great power competition and conflict are transcended by rules, norms, and international institutions. The problem is that this misconstrues how the world works. Great power politics is about power. Rules and institutions do not exist in a vacuum. Rather, they reflect the distribution of power in the international system. In global politics, the rules are made by those who rule.

As E. H. Carr, the renowned English historian of international politics, once observed, a rules-based international order "cannot be understood independently of the political foundation on which it rests and the political interests which it serves." The post-World War II international order is an American order that, while preserving world stability for a long time, primarily privileged U.S. and Western interests.

Proponents of "lock-in" are saying that China will!indeed, must!agree to be a "responsible stakeholder" (with Washington defining the meaning of "responsibility") in an international order that it did not construct and that exists primarily to advance the interests of the United States. In plain English, what those who believe in "lock-in" expect is that an increasingly powerful China will continue to accept playing second fiddle to the United States.

But Beijing, by all the evidence, does not see it that way. And OBOR and the AIIB prove the point. Instead of living within the geopolitical, economic, and institutional confines imposed by Pax Americana, an increasingly powerful China will seek to revise the international order so that it reflects its own political and economic interests. Thus are OBOR and the AIIB straws in the wind. And, as the great Bob Dylan said, you don't need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.

Christopher Layne is University Distinguished Professor of International Affairs, and Robert M. Gates Chair in National Security, at Texas A&M University.

ds9 , says: August 9, 2017 at 12:30 am

Thank you for a very interesting article. Still, I think there is a large issue not addressed: Isn't China on the verge of a now unstoppable demographic catastrophe? How do you see that affecting China's "rise" long term?
RVA , says: August 9, 2017 at 12:34 am
Professor Layne: You left out something very significantly causal re: decline of American power. It is not mysterious or a deeply historic twist of inevitable fate.

Rather, we have spent TRILLIONS in vain military blood and treasure over the past 17 years, with NOTHING to show for it – besides a destabilized region raining the most refugees since WW2 onto our allies, the Europeans (destabilizing THEM as well.)

This failure is not even being addressed, let alone changed. Policymakers responsible apparently have clearance to continue this uselessness indefinitely.

A Chinese sage named Sun Tzu said it best, some 2500 years ago, in The Art of War:

" When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.

3. Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.

4. Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.

5. Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.

6. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare. "

No mystery here. America is proving not to be Exceptional enough to survive elite mismanagement.

Catalan , says: August 9, 2017 at 1:02 am
No. The rest of the world is merely catching up. The wealth that the US enjoyed relative to the rest of the world in the decades following WWII was unprecedented, and is probably not a repeatable phenomenon. If we are declining, it is only because we fail to appreciate the multi-latereral nature of our world, and stick our nose where it doesn't belong.
hn , says: August 9, 2017 at 2:20 am
too long of an article to read.
Nelson , says: August 9, 2017 at 9:14 am
We're in decline not because of China but because of the decisions we make (or fail to make). We devote too many resources towards wars and asset appreciation (financial bubbles) and not enough into investing in ourselves (education and infrastructure). In the short run, the strong military made us look strong to the world snd ourselves but we never examined whether that was the most judicious use of our resources for the long run.

This is not anything new. Eisenhower spoke of this 50 some odd years ago.

EliteCommInc. , says: August 9, 2017 at 9:33 am
If we are in decline and there are signs that is the case. It is by our doing. Over expanded strategic goals and dismantling the very social structure(s) that maintains, sustains and protects longevity.

The abandonment of national identity by our leadership class. They claim in the national interests, but upon examining their policy agendas, immigration, bailout, lobbying rules, domestic agendas and management, there's plenty to be concerned about.

EliteCommInc. , says: August 9, 2017 at 9:41 am
" For Britain and the United States, economic expansion resulted in the inexorable expansion of their military power and diplomatic sway. We can expect OBOR to have a similar effect on China. It is a powerful incentive for China to expand its military projection capabilities."

The trick here is managing the relational dynamics so that whatever mechanisms one uses in maintaining that power don't backlash to the point of disruptive violence or using sufficient force that such backlash doesn't occur.

The British/European model model of colonial rule was unsustainable. It might be wise to examine Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, maybe Germany but comparing these socialist smaller states would be a tricky comparison.

bkh , says: August 9, 2017 at 10:07 am
The idea that the US would maintain its world standing has been laughable for decades. A nation cannot excel when you have a population as narcissistic and willfully ignorant like we have now. The economic downfall is only a symptom of the ever deepening moral failures we find ourselves fighting over and even clinging to. I am no fan of socialism or communism, but what we have created here in America is an out of control monster set to destroy all in its path.
Kurt Gayle , says: August 9, 2017 at 10:22 am
A valuable analysis, Dr. Layne:

"The Obama administration's ballyhooed Asian pivot was based on the assumption that, although the ASEAN nations of Asia, along with Australia and South Korea, are being pulled into China's economic orbit, they will turn to the United States as a geopolitical counterweight. However, Beijing's ability to get ASEAN, South Korea, and other neighboring states to jump on the AIIB bandwagon suggests this assumption may be erroneous. The pull of Beijing's economic power may override security concerns and draw these states into China's geopolitical orbit."

It is in this context -- South Korea, Japan, and other south Asian nations being drawn inexorably into China's geopolitical orbit, thus overturning US post-WW2 hegemony in the region – that current, much-exaggerated US concerns about North Korean nuclear weapons can best be understood.

The US is using North Korea's nuclear development – undertaken by North Korea as a defensive measure against regime change by the US – as one of a series of pretexts aimed at preserving its ever-diminishing post-WW2 hegemony in Asia.

At some point the US will begin to withdraw the 30,000 US troops stationed in South Korea and the 30,000 US troops stationed in Japan – and will stop conducting military exercises and shows of force near the Chinese border – and will sit down with China, North Korea, South Korea, and Japan and begin the long process of negotiating the gradual, peaceful US acceptance of the new geopolitical reality in east Asia.

John Gruskos , says: August 9, 2017 at 10:28 am
The lesson I took from reading Paul Kennedy was, decline is a choice.

China, India and the Middle East could have competed with early modern Europe if centralized multi-ethnic empires (Manchu, Mughal and Ottoman Empires) hadn't stifled the energy of those civilizations.

The Spanish could have stayed on top if, beginning in 1559, Philip II, III, and IV hadn't stubbornly clung to ethnically dissimilar European territories such as the Netherlands, and if they hadn't wasted their nation's strength in the wars of the Counter Reformation.

Beginning with the 1670 Treaty of Dover, the French under Louis XIV and XV fell into the same trap, wasting their strength in the service of the Counter Reformation and territorial ambitions in the Netherlands.

The British could have stayed on top if they hadn't alienated the Americans, wasted their strength on tropical imperialism and balance of power wars, and then surrendered their industrial lead to Germany and America via the dogmatic embrace of free trade.

Germany might have replaced Britain as the new leading power if they had maintained the peace with a simply foreign policy based on a strong alliance with Russia, instead of the Byzantine complexity of Bismark's diplomacy followed by the belligerent buffoonery of Kaiser Wilhelm.

Prior to the Cold War, Americans did everything right. We grew from a tiny settlement in 1607 to a colossas possessing half (!) the world's GDP in 1947. We maintained the homogeneity, without stifling the energy, of our people. Most of our wars were fought to obtain sparsely populated temperate zone land for the colonization of our people – not for tropical imperialism, balance of power, or international ideological crusades. Pragmatism, not ideology, guided our economic policy. During the Cold War, we began sacrificing the interests of the American nation to the newfangled ideology of "Americanism". Tentatively under Truman, and definitively beginning with Kennedy, we undermined the homogeneity of our people with mass immigration from the whole world, undermined our traditional morality with liberal social engineering, became the policeman of the world intent on exporting "Americanism", and assumed an attitude of lofty contempt for our own trade interests.

The Chinese, on the other hand, chose ascent when they purged The Gang of Four and substituted Chinese ethno-nationalism for feverish Maoism as their guiding principle.

ScottA , says: August 9, 2017 at 10:30 am
It is obvious that we are now in the decline phase of the life cycle of empires. See the British general Sir John Bagot Glubb's book "The Course of Empire" and other writings.
Kurt Gayle , says: August 9, 2017 at 10:31 am
@ "hn" who said (2:20 a.m.): "too long of an article to read."

Luv it!

That comment belongs in a time capsule.

Michael Kenny , says: August 9, 2017 at 10:50 am
Blue chip stocks yield to blue chopsticks! Human civilisation is a forward-moving perpetual motion machine. It never stops and it never goes back. There is no "end of history". There is no point at which human civilisation just stops dead in its tracks and never moves again until the sun implodes in 10 million years and roasts us all. The world has always had its revisionists and reactionaries who want to take their countries back to some real or imagined golden age. If we're lucky, such people eventually disappear into Trotsky's famous "dustbin of history". If we're not lucky, they start a war, lose it and then disappear into said dustbin, destroying their country in the process and opening up the way for a new dominant power to emerge. Just as Britain dominated the world by 1850 and the US by 1950, China will dominate the world by 2050. I don't really see what disadvantage there is in that for Americans and for us in Europe, it looks very positive. Machiavelli said that as between two tyrants, always choose the most distant. China is Europe's distant tyrant. OBOR seems to be very much to Europe's advantage, displacing American hegemony and undermining US hegemonists' attempts to use Putin's Russia as an instrument to keep Europe under their control.
Dan Green , says: August 9, 2017 at 11:24 am
Being a confirmed Realist and having researched Realism what is going on today between ourselves, the Chinese Reds, and Russia is quite understandably. Few share our Democracy model, it is too messy.
Jon S , says: August 9, 2017 at 11:34 am
"the liberal rules-based international order."

Let's not be obtuse. This order was put in place by individuals in the USA because it was to their economic benefit to do so. That in no way means that this order benefits all Americans or even a majority. And to the tens of thousands of American soldiers who have died maintaining this order it was to their great detriment.

I personally have no allegiance to "the liberal rules-based international order". If the Chinese can do better, let them have at it.

The important question is not whether America is in decline. It is whether the American people's living standards are in decline.

Gaius Gracchus , says: August 9, 2017 at 11:44 am
Empire is not cost effective or beneficial to the general welfare of a country. It only serves to enrich a few, while creating domestic corruption and inequality.

The post-WW2 American empire, allegedly to contain Communism, really didn't benefit America. And the costs have been enormous.

It did benefit bankers, defense contractors, scoundrels, and the Wall Street Washington cabal centered on the CFR.

We wasted the post Cold War era believing there was an "End to History". Anyone with decent understanding would have considered that trying for a unipolar moment was a huge mistake and a world with various Great Powers was a more likely outcome.

Unipolar attempts don't work. Acknowledging the US as the greatest Great Power, among many, is a much better idea than trying to keep the US as the sole Superpower. That isn't decline but breaking through illusion.

Michael N Moore , says: August 9, 2017 at 12:43 pm
The Soviet Union sustained 20 Million causalities in the Second World War while it moved its factories east to keep them out of German hands. Contrast this with the US imperial elite who simply handed over our industrial base to China. The result is that China's economy is growing a rate three times that of the United States.
Adriana I Pena , says: August 9, 2017 at 12:49 pm
What goes up must come down
Spinnin' wheel got to go 'round
Talkin' 'bout your troubles it's a cryin' sin
Ride a painted pony let the spinnin' wheel spin
Interguru , says: August 9, 2017 at 1:35 pm
This thoughtful article is followed by thoughtful comments. One commenter already mentioned demographics. Due to immigration, America is the only advanced country not facing a population implosion.

Another ace-in-the-whole is geography. We are protected by two oceans with weak friendly neighbors on our land borders.We are blessed with rich resources. This includes rich agricultural land reachable by navigable rivers and mineral wealth.

We have rich political and social institutions that hopefully can survive Trump.

While we are doing our best to squander these they give us a cushion.

SteveM , says: August 9, 2017 at 2:39 pm
The U.S. is in an inevitable decline. The only question is the extent of the economic sabotage and outright wars that the Deep State will instigate to try to forestall the collapse.

Washington will not tolerate a second axis of power arising even if it is strictly economic. Consider how American Elites used subversion to catalyze the coup in Ukraine. They will stop at nothing to sustain U.S. hegemony in the larger global sphere.

Should China, Russia and Europe seek to integrate into a huge, contiguous Eurasian economic marketplace independent of United States hegemonic interference, the Deep State will use all of its military power to prevent it. (Especially ironic since death and destruction are becoming America's primary exports.)

The current rumblings of American power projection in the South China Sea and Russian borders are a set up for future conflicts. The United States regime deluded by arrogance and stupidity and saturated by the cult of military exceptionalism can't say no to military coercion and war as its primary foreign policy instrument.

With the Neocon/Neoliberal militarists now running the show, it's only going to get worse

Peter , says: August 9, 2017 at 3:56 pm
We are in decline because the decisions we made during and after the cold war.
– we tried to buy goodwill ("allies") by using the "most favored nation" clause – outsourcing manufacturing jobs, starting at the bottom of the sophistication scale (apparel, appliances ).
And all we have left is defense manufacturing jobs. We have no more jobs to give away to buy goodwill.
– while reducing taxes, we kept increasing defense related spending by borrowing money.
With all the senseless wars, we have a huge debt, not exactly something which gives you clout.
– we wasted brainpower on financial gimmicks which have zero contribution to economic strength.
Such gimmicks might mess up the economy – and we did this, too – for the whole world.
China took the market driven part of communist economy which was viciously stamped out by Stalin – the New Economic Policy (NEP) – and built an economic powerhouse, with money to spend.
Phillip , says: August 9, 2017 at 4:06 pm
The decline of the United States can be directly correlated to the decline in our spiritual fervor and the absence of the fear of God. Falling morals precipitate the fall of the nation. It's not a question of if at this point, but when. You can argue whatever other factors you wish, but there is a direct correlation between strength of a nation and God throughout human civilization.
Dan Green , says: August 9, 2017 at 4:37 pm
Lots to chew on as they say, but a couple key points from the article. A US President represents how the world view's we Americans. From all the so called turmoil, with both political parties sent packing, Trump may in fact represent real America. The fantasy the left markets, of a social democratic welfare state is a myth. Next, we have grown up on a diet of our President elect, being Commander in Chief, of the worlds most powerful military. So I ask, did Bill Clinton or Barack Obama seem to Americans, like a commander in chief. Bush wasn't capable of responding to 9-11, he tried and failed. Last Commander in Chief we had in our image was Ronald Reagan. Any wonder our enemies are making hay while the sunshines. So now we have two very very admirable foes. China and Russia neither with western values. How we now fit is up in the air. Getting Trump impeached or forced to resign replaced with whoever won't change millions of Americans.
EliteCommInc. , says: August 9, 2017 at 5:28 pm
I would take exception to some of these comments about inevitable decline. The word decline suggests to some end. That is very different than retraction or change.

When one examines China, Russia, Europe, these nations have been in play as states for 1500 years. And despite periods of retraction have maintained some semblance of their origins, more than some. Their cores remain intact as to culture and practice despite differing polities What is key for the US is her youth. We are unable to match the strategic long term strategies as the states mentions because we have not been around long enough to seal our core existence as a nation.

Mistaking youthful exuberance for wisdom of age is where we are. There is no mistaking that the US can remain a major player in world events and we should. But that process need not be at the expense of who we are are becoming or in lieu of it.

I will have to dig out my Zsun Tsu. It is easy to apply those admonitions out of their intended context. Because so many different environmental war scenarios are addressed. For example, Asia plays the long game. They are not thinking merely about this century, this decade, this year, month . . . but the next century. Hence the idea of long war. Consider how long they have been on the Continent of Africa.

They are in a sense just waiting everyone else out. Iraq, blood in the water. Afghanistan, blood in the water. They are not the least troubled that we are embroiled in the ME.

The size of our debt is troubling and the size of how much of that debt is owned by other states is disturbing. China, some ten years ago, indicated that they are seeking a way around the power of the dollar.

I am fully confident that we can survive the rise of any nation on earth. I believe we are special unique, and endowed with an energy, ingenuity, vibrancy and psyche today's world. But we are so inundated with a kind of can't do -- must accept attitude in social polity that undermines sense of self. and that is where I think the force of a Pres Trump is helpful, reinvigorating.

Conserving a sense of self, identity is mandatory for survival.

And while I have opposed out latest military interventions as unnecessary, if we decide to make war -- we had better do it to the full and be done with. This is more in line with what I think Tzun Tzu -- destabilize the opponents psychology.

Here the importation of Doaist, Hindu, and other existentialist philosophies are upending western thought. The humanities are tearing asunder our social and psychological meaning of self. Whether it is soulmates, no anchored truth or reality or the notion of that human sexuality is malleable and no right no wrong save as to individual minding and social circumstance . . . the system of concreteness is being chiseled to nothingness.

And it shows. Europe remains a cautionary tale.

EliteCommInc. , says: August 9, 2017 at 5:36 pm
"Such gimmicks might mess up the economy – and we did this, too – for the whole world."

Actually we did something else, we embraced the world's standards – Basel I and Basel II. Which are major contributors to our economic system. When Pres Nixon pressed to go off the gold standard . . . huge error.

Last week one of the toughest hurdles was to avoid getting into that ambulance I knew the minute I did, I would be entering a system bent on bending me to its will.

Before we go about making the world -- we need a clear and clean sense of self and resist change, regardless of the pressure by friend or foe.

EliteCommInc. , says: August 9, 2017 at 5:42 pm
" The United States filled this role for half a century, from 1945 until the Great Recession. The world's economic hegemon must provide public goods that benefit the international system as a whole, including: making the rules for the international economic order; opening its domestic market to other states' exports; supplying liquidity to the global economy; and providing a reserve currency."

Uhh you are playing fast and loose here with one overarching reality -- there really was no one else left who could do so. And that lasted a good while. As those regions recovered, we continued to provide without ever adjusting to the their own ability to provide. Prime example, our presence in Europe, I would be interested in the ROI of defending the Europeans even as they make war on others or encourage conflicts they themselves ave no intention of supporting, but are more than happy that the US do so.

SteveK9 , says: August 9, 2017 at 7:31 pm
Paradoxically the acceleration in the decline began with the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Incredible hubris followed, and we are reaping the usual results.
philadelphialawyer , says: August 9, 2017 at 8:53 pm
I think just the opposite. OBOR, AIIB and the Shanghai Group show China playing precisely by the rules of the international, rules-based liberal order set up by the Western powers generally over the last few centuries and particularly by the USA after WWII. China actually follows the international rules. It hasn't invaded anyone since 1979. How many wars not authorized by the UNSC, and generally either dubious or flat out in violation of international law, has the US engaged in since that date? China does not interfere in the internal affairs of other nations. As the article states, China follows the rules of Westphalian sovereignty. But it also follows the rules of international law. China does not abuse its veto power in the UNSC, the way the Western powers, particularly the USA, does. China is not looking to impose its way of life on other countries. And its international initiatives, including the international organizations it has created and sponsored, are all about trade, tourism, and co operation and development, as opposed to the USA's, which are all about domination, ever expanding "defensive" military alliances, military bases everywhere, demeaning and degrading, not to mention hypocritical, "human rights report cards," endless "sanctions" and "embargoes" on everyone who does not do its bidding, covering up for the sins of its aggressive, horrible client states, particularly Israel and the KSA, handing out cookies to coupsters in the process of overthrowing legitimate, and even democratically elected, governments, and generally sticking its nose into the elections of other countries, and now, with Trump, threatening to upset the apple cart when it comes to international trade and tourism and cultural exchange.

The USA is the rogue state, in regard to the very international order that it played a huge role in establishing. The USA can't even seem to go through an Olympic Games without making a fuss about something or another.

"Rules and institutions do not exist in a vacuum. Rather, they reflect the distribution of power in the international system. In global politics, the rules are made by those who rule international politics 'cannot be understood independently of the political foundation on which it rests and the political interests which it serves.' The post-World War II international order is an American order that, while preserving world stability for a long time, primarily privileged U.S. and Western interests. Proponents of 'lock-in' are saying that China will!indeed, must!agree to be a 'responsible stakeholder' (with Washington defining the meaning of 'responsibility') in an international order that it did not construct and that exists primarily to advance the interests of the United States. In plain English, what those who believe in 'lock-in' expect is that an increasingly powerful China will continue to accept playing second fiddle to the United States. But Beijing, by all the evidence, does not see it that way. And OBOR and the AIIB prove the point. Instead of living within the geopolitical, economic, and institutional confines imposed by Pax Americana, an increasingly powerful China will seek to revise the international order so that it reflects its own political and economic interests. Thus are OBOR and the AIIB straws in the wind. And, as the great Bob Dylan said, you don't need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing."

Of course the distribution of power matters. But China is using its power within the liberal, rules-based framework established by the West. It actually already behaves in a "responsible" manner. It didn't invade Hong Kong or Macao, rather it made deals with the declining colonial powers which controlled them. It doesn't invade Taiwan. Rather it uses diplomacy to slowly advance its cause with respect to "One China." It uses its economic clout to develop trading partners, not to try to bully them into political submission, a la the USA. It is patient with regard to North Korea. It is patient with regard to US sabre rattling and blustering right at its borders. It is patient and rule-abiding in just about everything. Its organization are bypassing the USA. Not confronting it. If China eventually eclipses the USA, it will be because China has beaten it at its own game.

Sam Bufalini , says: August 9, 2017 at 9:26 pm
Last Commander in Chief we had in our image was Ronald Reagan. Yeah, that invasion of Grenada was huge!
Dale McNamee , says: August 9, 2017 at 10:51 pm
Our moral decline leads to the other decline mentioned in the article. There's a statement that says :"America is great because she is good But, she will cease to be great because she ceased to be good" We've been in decline since the '60's and are coming to our "bottom" ( and end ) ever more quickly
Interguru , says: August 9, 2017 at 11:13 pm
"The decline of the United States can be directly correlated to the decline in our spiritual fervor and the absence of the fear of God. " @Phillip

Does China have a fear of God?

Misstique , says: August 9, 2017 at 11:37 pm
Sort of a silly question isn't it?
Student , says: August 10, 2017 at 9:40 am
One thing not mentioned in the article is how we lost our technological lead. This in large part due to our H1B program, which is a conveyor belt to transfer tech and organizational knowhow abroad. Most R&D operations seem to be staffed largely by guest workers from China and India. Yes, there is a saving on salaries, leading to profits. But in addition to the knowledge transfer, there is the discouragement to US natives from entering tech fields.

[Aug 03, 2017] The Magnitsky Hoax

Margnistsky was an accountant. He never has been a laywer.
Notable quotes:
"... "Foreign non-governmental pro-democracy groups" means absolutely different things than it is stated. We must read "foreign" as "American", "non-governmental" as "uncontroled by the Russian government, but sponsored by the US government", and "pro-democracy" as "pro-US". ..."
"... There is nothing democratic in these groups. Everything they say is a lie. They do not want at all democracy for Russians. Because if there were democracy in Russia, then Browder and other foreign carpetbaggers were shot dead by popular vote. Or at least they could never come to Russia and rob it as they have been doing. And they all know it. They do not want freedom and human right for Russians. By "freedom" these groups understand the freedom for THEM and THEIR friends, and by "human right" they understand the rights for THEM and THEIR friends. ..."
"... I've been reading the Western press for many years now, and when they write about Russia or the above-mentioned holy things, I constantly read only less than a dozen of names. Namely: Politkovskaya, Litvinenko, Magnitsky, Khodorkovsky and a couple of others. Everything that concerns the human rights violations in Russia is just about that privileged dozen of people. Nothing else bad happens in Russia with anybody else. Believe me if all the problems with human rights in Russia were only with that dozen of people I would be really happy. ..."
"... The yankee imperium has evolved into the inverted totalitarianism structure. The mainstream press and those inside the beltway are no more free agents than politburo members were during the Soviet era. Why would Nekrasov, prior to this film a known enemy of the Russian state, change his views unless he was an honourable man convinced by the evidence? The treatment of this film reveals the true nature of the contemporary yankee power structure. ..."
"... The latest neocon line is to use Brexit as an excuse to (a) blame Putin even more (b) expand NATO. Today's Washington Post had an editorial demanding that NATO be strengthened to ward off the enhanced Russian threat now that Britain will be leaving the EU. ..."
"... Here is the perfect moment to remember that it was antisemitism to question the western narrative on Iran nuclear program. David Brooks will conform if his mind is still sharp enough that he once suggested attacking George Bush war of 2003 was a also antisemitic . ..."
"... Dr. Giraldi, do you know there is a Jewish organization in UK, which gives "Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Awards"? Last year, it awarded the honor on Israel-First Rep. Jim McGovern. Jim McGovern, a Democrat who co-chairs the influential 'Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission' – named after Jewish Rep. Tom Lantos (d. 2008). ..."
"... A famous quote springs to mind: "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American people believe is false." CIA director William Casey (CIA director, 1981-1987) ..."
"... According to Israel Shamir, both Browder himself and the Jewish community consider him to be Jewish. http://www.unz.com/ishamir/the-good-fortune-of-mr-browder/ ..."
"... Putin said 'enough!' And has stopped them in Syria (for now) when everyone else was wringing their hands, Putin showed them all how a man with integrity must act, when faced with a thug and a bully. You stand up to them. Or you cower, and place your fate in their hands, as Gadhafi had done. ..."
"... And from that you all have a problem. You get information about Russia either from the Washington-centric quasi-independent ("independent" in the American political doublespeak always means independent from everyone but Washington) outlets, like NYT, WP, Fox, CNN, you name it, and their view of Russia for the past 90 years is quite predictable if not annoying, and I understand why you do not believe them and interpret everything they say in the opposite way, so you have formed a habit that when they say something is black you understand it as something is white. ..."
"... On the other hand you have the Kremlin propaganda state machine like RT who obviously do the same thing as the Washington propaganda machine, but in the opposite direction; or Russophilic individuals (usually emigres with nostalgia), lone wolf voices like the Saker or Karlin, but whose voice anyway is irrelevant and illusional because, as I've said, they are outsiders and know little about the actual Russian life, but they rather might be characterized as positive interpreters of open sources (and neither the sources nor their interpretations ought to be true). ..."
"... Also we have local "opposition" outlets either in Russian like the radio station "Ekho Moskvy", the TV station "Dozhd", "Novaya Gazeta" and so on, or in English like "The Moscow Times", but I do not even take them seriously, I consider them as virtually subsidiaries of the Western MSM (though there is one irony that furiously anti-government "Ekho Moskvy" is owned by Gazprom). ..."
"... What I wanted to say, that even if many who are not hopelessly brainwashed understand that the demonizing of Russia is a lie, it does not make the opposite view automatically right, and your over-positive opinion is generally illusional. I tried to bring you around, but seemed to fail, though to change anybody's opinion was not my goal, I was just trying to say my opinion, be it right or wrong. ..."
"... It works in the opposite direction as well. When people have not enough means, they have no much time left to think about and to follow good moral, they are simply surviving as they can, often doing very ugly things. In most cases a society in strong need ends up in a chaos as we can see it in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. ..."
"... And then out of the blue came Putin, who wrested Russia away from the Fiend, and gave her hope, (and an ascendant middle class and pride in Russia's heritage). For the Fiend, this was an abomination, and ironically enough; Putin was now a new Hitler – especially when he jailed on of their own (and for hard labor -- It was another Holocaust!). But as long as he played ball with the West by letting most of the Jewish oligarchs keep their ill-gotten billions, and went along with atrocities like the savage rape of Iraq, the oligarchs were willing to ignore what Putin had done to their designs and fun up to a degree. ..."
"... I would say that Putin certainly does care about Iran. It doesn't take a genius to know which nations have been declared evil and targeted by the US, they are frequently named by traitorous whores like Hillary, Obuma, Biden etc, along with the treacherous neo-cons who bear responsibility for fomenting wars in the ME. ..."
"... Putin is smart enough to know that if any nation sits back and waits its turn to be attacked it will surely be destroyed. He went out on a limb to arrest the destruction of Syria and it has paid off. He appears to have played his cards remarkably well to date. I can't imagine that the stratospheric level of approval and support that he receives in Russia is fictional. ..."
"... I would believe RT News before I would the BBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, DW, Fox and all the other discredited western "news" outlets. ..."
"... To like/dislike Putin is not a political stance but rather a personal opinion. But it does not explain nor imply any other view. To be precise, several persons can dislike Putin, but one may be a pro-Western ultra-liberal, another a Stalinist, other a National-Bolshevik, other a Christian Monarchist, other a racist Nazi, other a pro-Ukrainian Nazi, and so on. It is difficult to list them all. And they all may have totally different views on many subjects, but just one thing in common, as you said, a dislike to Putin. ..."
"... Russia is on the fall . The crisis of the past two years has just nullified any achievements of the previous 2004-2014 decade. Russia has practically returned to its starting position. And nothing says about its rise, everything says the contrary . Russians have entered a difficult time. They will be remembering 2000-2014 with bitter nostalgia. ..."
"... Actually, for the past 25 years Russia is becoming "a multi-culture, failing state, with grinding poverty where the different factions of the population hate each other while a corrupt and incompetent elite rules over them" . I will add that that elite is in the West in their minds, and they have to be physically located in Russia just for the sake of "earning" money. ..."
Aug 03, 2017 | www.unz.com

The documentary began with the full participation of American born UK citizen William Browder, who virtually served as narrator for the first section that portrayed the widely accepted story on Magnitsky. Browder portrays himself as a human rights campaigner dedicated to promoting the legacy of Sergei Magnitsky, but he is inevitably much more complicated than that. The grandson of Earl Browder the former General Secretary of the American Communist Party, William Browder studied economics at the University of Chicago, and obtained an MBA from Stanford.

From the beginning, Browder concentrated on Eastern Europe, which was beginning to open up to the west. In 1989 he took a position at highly respected Boston Consulting Group dealing with reviving failing Polish socialist enterprises. He then worked as an Eastern Europe analyst for Robert Maxwell, the unsavory British press magnate and Mossad spy, before joining the Russia team at Wall Street's Salomon Brothers in 1992.

He left Salomons in 1996 and partnered with the controversial Edmond Safra, the Lebanese-Brazilian-Jewish banker who died in a mysterious fire in 1999, to set up Hermitage Capital Management Fund. Hermitage is registered in tax havens Guernsey and the Cayman Islands. It is a hedge fund that was focused on "investing" in Russia, taking advantage initially of the loans-for-shares scheme under Boris Yeltsin, and then continuing to profit greatly during the early years of Vladimir Putin's ascendancy. By 2005 Hermitage was the largest foreign investor in Russia.

Browder had renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1997 and became a British citizen apparently to avoid American taxes, which are levied on worldwide income. In his book Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder and One Man's Fight for Justice he depicts himself as an honest and honorable Western businessman attempting to function in a corrupt Russian business world. That may or may not be true, but the loans-for-shares scheme that made him his initial fortune has been correctly characterized as the epitome of corruption, an arrangement whereby foreign investors worked with local oligarchs to strip the former Soviet economy of its assets paying pennies on each dollar of value. Along the way, Browder was reportedly involved in making false representations on official documents and bribery.

As a consequence of what came to be known as the Magnitsky scandal, Browder was eventually charged by the Russian authorities for fraud and tax evasion. He was banned from re-entering Russia in 2005, even before Magnitsky died, and began to withdraw his assets from the country. Three companies controlled by Hermitage were eventually seized by the authorities, though it is not clear if any assets remained in Russia. Browder himself was convicted of tax evasion in absentia in 2013 and sentenced to nine years in prison.

Browder has assiduously, and mostly successfully, made his case that he and Magnitsky have been the victims of Russian corruption both during and since that time, though there have been skeptics regarding many details of his personal narrative. He has been able to sell his tale to leading American politicians like Senators John McCain, Ben Cardin and ex-Senator Joe Lieberman, always receptive when criticizing Russia, as well as to a number of European parliamentarians and media outlets. But there is, inevitably, another side to the story, something quite different, which Andrei Nekrasov presents to the viewer.

Nekrasov has discovered what he believes to be holes in the narrative that has been carefully constructed and nurtured by Browder. He provides documents and also an interview with Magnitsky's mother maintaining that there is no clear evidence that he was beaten or tortured and that he died instead due to the failure to provide him with medicine while in prison or treatment shortly after he had a heart attack. A subsequent investigation ordered by then Russian President Dimitri Medvedev in 2011 confirmed that Magnitsky had not received medical treatment, contributing to this death, but could not confirm that he had been beaten even though there was suspicion that that might have been the case.

Nekrasov also claims that much of the case against the Russian authorities is derived from English language translations of relevant documents provided by Browder himself. The actual documents sometimes say something quite different. Magnitsky is referred to as an accountant, not a lawyer, which would make sense as a document of his deposition is apparently part of a criminal investigation of possible tax fraud, meaning that he was no whistleblower and was instead a suspected criminal.

Other discrepancies cited by Nekrasov include documents demonstrating that Magnitsky did not file any complaint about police and other government officials who were subsequently cited by Browder as participants in the plot, that the documents allegedly stolen from Magnitsky to enable the plotters to transfer possession of three Hermitage controlled companies were irrelevant to how the companies eventually were transferred and that someone else employed by Hermitage other than Magnitsky actually initiated investigation of the fraud.

In conclusion, Nekrasov believes there was indeed a huge fraud related to Russian taxes but that it was not carried out by corrupt officials. Instead, it was deliberately ordered and engineered by Browder with Magnitsky, the accountant, personally developing and implementing the scheme used to carry out the deception.

To be sure, Browder and his international legal team have presented documents in the case that contradict much of what Nekrasov has presented in his film. But in my experience as an intelligence officer I have learned that documents are easily forged, altered, or destroyed so considerable care must be exercised in discovering the provenance and authenticity of the evidence being provided. It is not clear that that has been the case. It might be that Browder and Magnitsky have been the victims of a corrupt and venal state, but it just might be the other way around. In my experience perceived wisdom on any given subject usually turns out to be incorrect.

Given the adversarial positions staked out, either Browder or Nekrasov is essentially right, though one should not rule out a combination of greater or lesser malfeasance coming from both sides. But certainly Browder should be confronted more intensively on the nature of his business activities while in Russia and not given a free pass because he is saying things about Russia and Putin that fit neatly into a Washington establishment profile. As soon as folks named McCain, Cardin and Lieberman jump on a cause it should be time to step back a bit and reflect on what the consequences of proposed action might be.

One should ask why anyone who has a great deal to gain by having a certain narrative accepted should be completely and unquestionably trusted, the venerable Cui bono? standard. And then there is a certain evasiveness on the part of Browder. The film shows him huffing and puffing to explain himself at times and he has avoided being served with subpoenas on allegations connected to the Magnitsky fraud that are making their way through American courts. In one case he can be seen on YouTube running away from a server, somewhat unusual behavior if he has nothing to hide.

A number of Congressmen and staffers were invited to the showing of the Nekrasov

likbez, August 4, 2017 at 3:50 am GMT

Magnitsky was a sleazy accountant, not a lawyer and among his activities one was about getting tax breaks for Browder, using fictitious hiring of disabled people to get a tax break.

Browder was one of the very bold and very suspicious "gold-diggers" in xUSSR space, who tried to participate in the "economic rape of Russia".

http://thebirdman.org/Index/Others/Others-Doc-Economics&Finance/+Doc-Economics&Finance-GovernmentInfluence&Meddling/BankstersInRussiaAndGlobalEconomy.htm

During this time of gangster capitalism in Russia under drunk Yeltsin such a person, especially a foreign one, could easily get a six grams of led if he stepped on some oligarchs foot, but this did not stopped him. He was really reckless. I wonder why. Who protected him in Russia? Here is pretty interesting and educational reading

https://marknesop.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/sergei-magnitsky-bill-browder-hermitage-capital-management-and-wondrous-metamorphoses/

One quote:

"Ties with Russia run deep in his family; his grandfather was General Secretary of the US Communist Party and, according to documents released in 1995, worked for the NKVD, running a spy ring. Bill himself specialized in Eastern European markets, and when he felt the time was right, he founded Hermitage Capital Management in 1996, along with the main investor, Edmond Safra."

His real connection and why he renounced US citizenship and is hiding in UK suggest that some influential British structures were behind his activities.

In a way Browder was very interested in Magnitsky death as dead Magnitsky was much more useful for him that alive. Magnitsky knew way too much about Brower activities in Russia and already started talking.

Boris N, June 28, 2016 at 6:04 am GMT

It's a pity that doublespeak and doublethink rule the world. Every time you read something you now must decipher.

"Foreign non-governmental pro-democracy groups" means absolutely different things than it is stated. We must read "foreign" as "American", "non-governmental" as "uncontroled by the Russian government, but sponsored by the US government", and "pro-democracy" as "pro-US".

There is nothing democratic in these groups. Everything they say is a lie. They do not want at all democracy for Russians. Because if there were democracy in Russia, then Browder and other foreign carpetbaggers were shot dead by popular vote. Or at least they could never come to Russia and rob it as they have been doing. And they all know it. They do not want freedom and human right for Russians. By "freedom" these groups understand the freedom for THEM and THEIR friends, and by "human right" they understand the rights for THEM and THEIR friends.

But the real problem is the Russian government do not want good for Russians as well. This entire conflict is between the native colonial administration and the foreign carpetbaggers. And the main point is who'll get the cash, either Browder and his friends or some unknown Russian oligarchs and corrupt officials. But both the results are bad for Russians.

Haxo Angmark, Website June 28, 2016 at 6:33 am GMT

the Short Version: Putin's Russia is a large White pebble in the open-borders Judeo-globalist shoe. The Zionists/neo-conz/cucks will do anything – even upbrink to a nuclear WW III – to destroy Nationalist Russia

Boris N, June 28, 2016 at 6:36 am GMT

And something else about democracy, freedom, human rights and so on hypocritical demagogy of the West.

I've been reading the Western press for many years now, and when they write about Russia or the above-mentioned holy things, I constantly read only less than a dozen of names. Namely: Politkovskaya, Litvinenko, Magnitsky, Khodorkovsky and a couple of others. Everything that concerns the human rights violations in Russia is just about that privileged dozen of people. Nothing else bad happens in Russia with anybody else. Believe me if all the problems with human rights in Russia were only with that dozen of people I would be really happy.

But the fact is that everyday for the last 25 years thousands of common Russians are faced with the violations of their rights. But nobody in the West worry about them, nobody mention them, they simply do not exist for the West. The only people that exist are those who are directly or indirectly connected with the Western establishment. That is the Western establishment and their tame press are concerned only about their personal interests.

And when another Western (or Russian) journalist or human rights "activist", while writing another article about Russia, mention again and again just only that half a dozen of the names, I just cannot help but despise those hypocrites.

exiled off mainstreet, June 28, 2016 at 6:55 am GMT

The yankee imperium has evolved into the inverted totalitarianism structure. The mainstream press and those inside the beltway are no more free agents than politburo members were during the Soviet era. Why would Nekrasov, prior to this film a known enemy of the Russian state, change his views unless he was an honourable man convinced by the evidence? The treatment of this film reveals the true nature of the contemporary yankee power structure.

Rehmat, June 28, 2016 at 8:33 am GMT

Sergei Magnitsky like the US and EU was a Zionist clown whose strings were held by the Organized Jewry.

In November 2015, in an interview with UK's No.1 Israeli propaganda media outlet, 'Jewish Chronicle', William Browder, the American-born Jewish tycoon who describes himself as Putin's "number one enemy" in his book: Red Notice, claimed that though Putin had met Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman, and local Jewish leaders; supports Israel and donated $1 million to Moscow's Holocaust Museum – his heart is filled with hatred towards Jews. Why? Because he tortured and killed Magnitsky and supports Iran's ally Assad.

Madeleine Albright, who found her Jewish family roots while holding post of US secretary of state, in a recent interview she gave to Austrian newspaper DiePress.com called Russian president Vladimir Putin "a smart but a truly evil man." She claimed that Putin is trying his best to destroy European Union and NATO, two of Israel's allies.

"He is smart but truly an evil man. An officer of KGB, who wants to exercise power and believes that every body has come together to conspire against Russia. This is not true. Putin is playing bad cards well, for the time being at least. I believe his goal is to undermine and split EU. He want NATO to disappear from his sphere of influence," She said.

https://rehmat1.com/2016/04/24/madeleine-albright-putin-is-an-evil-man/

Philip Giraldi, June 28, 2016 at 11:43 am GMT

@Rehmat

Thanks. The latest neocon line is to use Brexit as an excuse to (a) blame Putin even more (b) expand NATO. Today's Washington Post had an editorial demanding that NATO be strengthened to ward off the enhanced Russian threat now that Britain will be leaving the EU.

Wizard of Oz, June 28, 2016 at 3:57 pm GMT

@exiled off mainstreet

You omit taking notice of the author's shrewd observation that there might still be available some large amount of money that even Nekrasov might find irresistable as way to quickly achieved financial independence. Even if he is basically an honest man he might be able to rationalise selling out if he knows that Browder is, anyway, a crook.

Rurik, June 28, 2016 at 5:06 pm GMT

@Boris N Hello Boris,

But the real problem is the Russian government do not want good for Russians as well.

in your opinion, is the Putin government just as corrupt as the Zio-West? From here in the (dying and looted) West, it looks like Russia's middle class is ascendant, while ours is being systematically murdered off

Personally, for me, what it feels like is that the worst elements in the population that were in Russia (and Eastern Europe) during the 20th century have now emigrated over to the West. And that just as Russia and Eastern Europe suffered unimaginable horrors during the last century, under cruel and sadistic Bolsheviks (and the Cheka and NKVD), they are now over here, fomenting genocide and looting the place blind.

It's as if when Putin came to power, the Fiend slithered over the Berlin wall into the West, where it now molders in the assorted banking houses and think tanks plotting its next iniquitous atrocity, whether financial or military or social/cultural.

That's how it seems to me anyways.

(thank you PG for your superlative and informative articles. They're very much appreciated)

bunga, June 28, 2016 at 5:53 pm GMT

@Rehmat

I guess he doesn't have to be anti Jewish ,but being a proponent of prosperity at home and peace abroad does create a monster out of a decent man in today's garbage land which defines the western minds . It sure doesn't help the warmongering war readiness war friendly Zio

In some way Zio are doing what they did to other peace makers through the ages. Being against war and being for peace automatically ensures extended definition of antisemitism will be attached

Here is the perfect moment to remember that it was antisemitism to question the western narrative on Iran nuclear program. David Brooks will conform if his mind is still sharp enough that he once suggested attacking George Bush war of 2003 was a also antisemitic .

WTF with these shitheads

Rehmat, June 28, 2016 at 10:32 pm GMT

Dr. Giraldi, do you know there is a Jewish organization in UK, which gives "Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Awards"? Last year, it awarded the honor on Israel-First Rep. Jim McGovern. Jim McGovern, a Democrat who co-chairs the influential 'Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission' – named after Jewish Rep. Tom Lantos (d. 2008).

During his acceptance speech Jim McGovern said that he was a staunch supporter of Israel and supported the US-Iran nuclear agreement because it would be good for Israel in long-term.

During his stay in London, Jim McGovern was interviewed by Israeli mouthpiece, Jewish Chronicle – published on November 27.

"I understand the security concerns, but I also believe that ultimately, the way forward in Israel is for there to be real negotiations with the Palestinians -- a two-state solution. People need to learn to live with each other -- that's the solution all over the world," McGovern said.

When asked does that include Hamas? McGovern replied: "I don't need to negotiate with my friends. I need to negotiate with the people I consider my adversaries and my enemies."

He also criticized Israel's human rights abuses and warned such actions are isolating Israel from the international community. "I think Israel does not have a perfect human rights record. I think the settlement policies are very troublesome," he said.

https://rehmat1.com/2015/11/28/rep-mcgovern-only-hamas-can-guarantee-israels-security/

Anonymous, Disclaimer June 29, 2016 at 12:28 am GMT

@Anonymous Scotland the Brave

http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/scotland-the-brave/?highlight=pan+am+103+lockerbie

Sam J., June 29, 2016 at 3:06 am GMT

@Anonymous As Anonymous says,"
Q: Who is guilty of lying, Nekrasov or Browder?

A: Which one is the Jew?"

Agreed. Frequently you will find that to find the truth just see what the Jew is saying and the opposite will be the truth or what they say will be so convoluted as to twist the truth into a blaspheme of some sort.

Art, June 29, 2016 at 4:09 am GMT

@Rehmat

Last year, it awarded the honor on Israel-First Rep. Jim McGovern. Jim McGovern, a Democrat who co-chairs the influential 'Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission' – named after Jewish Rep. Tom Lantos (d. 2008).

God help us, that Jew jerk Lantos is still screwing over America. Wonder how many Palestinians he is responsible for murdering?

Wizard of Oz, June 29, 2016 at 7:51 am GMT

@Anonymous Are you just idly polluting UR with your prejudices or do you have some faintly relevant information?

The Browders who are descended from (non-Jewish) Communist Earl Browder seem to have good mathematical brains which may be inherited from Earl Browder's Russian Jewish wife. But it appears the Jewishness ended with her. The younger Bill Browder (who has a mathematician uncle also called Bill) is the son of mathematician Felix who doesn't appear to have married a Jew. Over to you to research Nekrasov. Will your brain suffer spasms or paraysis if you find that neither of them are Jews.

Carroll Price, June 29, 2016 at 9:59 am GMT

A famous quote springs to mind: "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American people believe is false." CIA director William Casey (CIA director, 1981-1987)

Philip Giraldi, June 29, 2016 at 10:05 am GMT

@Wizard of Oz

According to Israel Shamir, both Browder himself and the Jewish community consider him to be Jewish. http://www.unz.com/ishamir/the-good-fortune-of-mr-browder/

alexander, June 29, 2016 at 10:34 am GMT

@Carroll Price Carroll,

If this is an accurate quote, and I assume that it is, .what is the point of it? I mean what goals should the CIA have ? Shouldn't OUR CIA be doing everything in its power, (like every other government agency which we employ) to shore up the health ,wealth and security of our nation.? Every action it takes, clandestine or otherwise, should be designed to ensure the safety, freedom , and prosperity of our nation and its citizens .

Period. End of story. If they are not doing that .Fire the bums.

peterike, June 29, 2016 at 2:44 pm GMT

@Greasy William

I still don't get what the cute girl in the pic is all about? She doesn't look Jewish or anything.

That cute girl is Elena Servettaz who edited the book, the cover of which is behind her. Here's a lot more photos of her for your viewing pleasure. Including one with her and Crazy John McCain, which probably tells you all you need to know.

http://magnitskybook.com/?page_id=29

Carroll Price, June 29, 2016 at 3:33 pm GMT

@Greasy William Without going into a lot of unnecessary detail, Elena Servettaz is a Russian Jew who serves basically the same role in the international journalistic world as Pamela Gellar serves in the right-wing talk-show host/U-tube world based in Jew York City.

http://www.digplanet.com/wiki/Elena_Servettaz

JL, June 29, 2016 at 5:28 pm GMT

@Wizard of Oz Don't be ridiculous, Bill Browder is Jewish and has always strongly identified as such. He has a mezuzah on his office door and only hires Jewish employees. I knew him personally back in the 90s and 00s.

Eileen Kuch, June 29, 2016 at 8:32 pm GMT

@Boris N I agree with you wholeheartedly, Boris, with the comments you made on democracy in Russia, as well as the role the foreign (US) carpetbaggers had played in Russian society.

However, you failed to mention Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had succeeded the drunken, incompetent Boris Yeltsin, who had been installed by the Jewish Oligarchs, who were – during his Presidency – looting the Russian Treasury and bleeding the nation dry. It was Putin who salvaged the Russian economy by imprisoning and/or exiling these Oligarchs and seizing all of their assets. He also restored Orthodox Christianity in Russia after 70 years of it being underground under Bolshevik Communism. The magnificent Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer, which had been built in the 19th Century, then demolished by Lazar Kaganovich under Josef Stalin's orders, was restored (rebuilt) after Yeltsin became President in the 1990′s.

Democracy also came to Russia under Putin, along with the revival of Orthodox Christianity. As a result, the Russian people are experiencing more freedom than people are in Western countries, including the US. In a way, these two nations – Russia and the US – have switched ideologies. Even as I type this reply, Boris, Christianity in the US has just come under attack by the Federal Courts which, btw, is a gross violation of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees, along with freedoms of speech, press and peaceable assemply, freedom of religion.

helena, June 29, 2016 at 9:01 pm GMT

@Wizard of Oz "as amongst the Jews what anti-Semites (and some Jews) would regard as "typically Jewish"."

Don't be ridiculous. Jewish people define themselves as an ethnic group. The fact that the ethnic group has considerably admixed is not the fault of those who merely observe that fact.

Carroll Price, June 30, 2016 at 4:27 am GMT

@Carroll Price https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/06/jean-marie-le-pen-fined-again-dismissing-holocaust-detail

Wizard of Oz, June 30, 2016 at 7:15 am GMT

@Eileen Kuch A friend who ran a very big charity funded by Khodorkovsky told me that he is not Jewish but Russian Orthodox and, indeed, his mother Marins seems to be Orthodox Christian, so why would the Jerusalem Post online refer to him as Jewish? Did he convert?

I guess its just that, on balance, any group likes to claim the rich unless they are too disreputable.

A related question is whether people with Jewish fathers, like K, got into the habit of associating with others who were at least part Jewish because of the viciousness or at least weight of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. After all one can get an idea of what it was like from the mad snti-Semitism in UR comments where even Rupert Murdoch can be called Jewish out of spite and envy even though he doesn't have a drop of known Jewish ancestry – pure Anglo-Celt it seems in case some twisted mind picks on that "known".

Boris N, June 30, 2016 at 7:29 pm GMT

@Rurik

in your opinion, is the Putin government just as corrupt as the Zio-West?

Yes, absolutely. It is not just my mere assumption, and it is not a conspiracy either, but clear open facts that anybody can see if one wants to see. It is not "as corrupt as", it IS controled by the West. We must not be deceived by the trickery red herring play of the official Kremlin (I do not like the cliche "Kremlin propaganda", but this is exactly it; unfortunately the Western MSM use this term for absolutely different things; the Western MSM play in the same duo, by the way).

Who is Putin and where has he come from in the first place? Apart from that he is a former KGB officer, and, as they say, "there aren't former KGB officers" (and this is important as a great deal of Russian oligarchs came from that organization), he has not come from anywhere and suddenly but fairly won the presidential campaign in 2000. During the 1990s he was moving around in the Russian oligarchic and Kremlin circles, in fact he once was the right hand of the first mayor of St.-Petersburg Sobchak, which in turn was a friend of Yeltsin. You think Putin is different, but he is the same, he is from the same circles, you has been tricked by the made-up image of Putin, a fiend for oligarchs and a friend of people, whereas he is, in fact, a friend of oligarchs, literally.

Then, what is more important. Even if we know little about Putin's life in the 1990s (everything is deliberately hidden), we know, hey, the entire world knows, how Putin has come to power. Putin was a protege of Yeltsin, and this Yeltsin's protectionism was not hidden, but absolutely public and official. Putin is the successor of Yeltsin, directly appointed by Yeltsin, a "legacy president" whose main goal is to maintain the status quo from the 1990s. I would rater call him a CEO under the control of the real masters, than an independent leader of the state. How can one at all believe "Putin is not Yeltsin", when it is contrary to the facts. And again we know which circles Yeltsin represented, and we know that those circles have had close connections with the West if not controled by the West, and here we've come to the most interesting part.

The entire post-Soviet Russian elite (oligarchs and government officials) has come come from the Communist nomenklatura, from the KGB and from the Soviet black market mafia structures (usually run by Jews, Ukrainians and Asiatics like Georgians, Armenians, Azeris and Uzbeks). And everybody of them have had many connections with the West, particularly with London, thousands of Russian oligarchs, higher officials or at least their families live in London, London is a second (true?) capital of Russia.

So there is no reason, why we must take the Kremlin and the West at face value. Why must we believe there is a conflict of the planetary scale, when there is none.

Well, I've said much enough (I hope MI6 will not find me; joke), but you can dig further yourself, everything is in open, the Russian ruling clique does not much hide itself, you do not need to be a secret agent trying to acquire the secret Kremlin (or rather Westminster?) documents, you just need to know the right directions of your searches. Just don't allow them to confuse yourself with the information noise, both from the Kremlin and the West. Sift attentively thousands of articles about a good Putin and a bad Putin from both the direction, because their real goal is just to hide the real truth.

Boris N, June 30, 2016 at 8:17 pm GMT

@Rurik

from here in the (dying and looted) West, it looks like Russia's middle class is ascendant, while ours is being systematically murdered off

As for the Russian middle class. Of course, since 2000 the living standards of Russians have improved greatly. We could argue if it is due magical Putin or high prices of natural resources. But this only if we compare it with the Sovet pitiful existence and the extreme poverty of the 1990s. But Even if Russians have now more money, cars, things and all, Russia outside of Moscow and St.-Petersburg is still and will be for many decades a Second Word country, in many places even a Third World one. I lived in Western Europe and I can tell the difference. This is absolutely another different planet. Every bit there is better than in Russia, so Russia seems quite backward. It is just simply pleasant to live in a First World country. You constantly complain how bad the life in the West is, but you do not understand your luck that you were born or live there.

And nothing much have changed since the 1990s, if not since the Soviet times. The entire country is still ruled by the former Soviet nomenklature, the oligarchs of the 1990s and Western companies still own and pwn Russia, gigantic bulks of the Russian wealth flow to off-shore havens, the state budget still consist of >60% of the "natural rent", the high level corruption is flourishing, a great deal of the budget is embezzled by officials. Maybe the reason why the average Russians still live decent lives is Russia's wealth so immense, that even if half of it is stolen by the upper 5-10%, the remaining half is enough for the well-being of the other 90%. But imagine how well the Russians would live without the robbery by the Kremlin oligarchic clique.

And don't take official Russian statistics at face value. The Russian middle class hardly exists. And after 2014 the income of people has been dropping steadily. For the most provincial cities the picture is following (at 70 roubles per USD):

  • Lowest 30% earn below $200 per month
  • Low Middle 40% – $200-$400
  • High Middle 20% – $400-$600
  • Upper 5% – $600-$1200

In Moscow, St.-Petersburg and some northern regions these number are 2 times higher, but they comprise barely 15% of the population.

And we're left with 5%, the clique and their servants.

I can hardly name the people who earns under $400 the "middle class", and the country where 70% earns below that can hardly be called rich (though it is quite developed, comparing with the Third World). So there are just 5%, max 25%, of the real middle class. And the average pensions are around $200/month, so no less than 40 mln of senior Russians live for that small amount of money, and with constantly rising prices it is very difficult to make both ends meet.

And the last. You will complain that Europe is being flooded with immigrants, but Russia is a last stronghold. But I'll tell you what. Russia is on the second place by immigrant population after the USA! And they are coming in. Russia has officially 10 mln and unofficially close to 25 mln of immigrants from Asia. Moscow, in fact, must compete with London by the percentage of Asiatic immigrants. The Muslim population is rising and the Kremlin openly favours Muslims and Muslim immigrants.

Boris N, June 30, 2016 at 9:00 pm GMT

@Eileen Kuch You just reproduce the idealized image (either good or bad) of Putin that has been created by the propaganda machine from both the sides during the past 15 years. As I said above, Putin is hardly a threat to the oligarchs. Putin hardly persecute any oligarch. There are up to 100 Russian billionaires, and some thousands of millionaires, but only Khodorkovsky, Lebedev and maybe a couple of others were really imprisoned. No any other oligarchs have been persecuted. Never the privatisation of the 1990s was questioned. Never the legacy of Yeltsin was questioned, rather he is a "hero", an entire Yeltsin museum has been built. The very same oligarchs from the 1990s, except for maybe some outcasts, are continuing to loot and rob Russian wealth. They buy entire castles somewhere in England or France, they buy enormous luxury yachts, they have bought a great deal of the London luxury realty, etc., etc. They roll in money, Russian money. The only reason the average Russians still live decent is the enormous size of the Russian wealth, that even scraps are enough for the entire nation to live.

And I'm not that religious, I do not think that the renaissance of religiosity in Russia is any good, I rather agree with (a rare case) the Marx's opinion about "opium for the people". It just makes Russian people stupid, superstitious and easy to manipulate. We live in the 21th century, we do not need 2000-year old fairy tales to be good. Anyway, I have a great respect for the PAST Russian Christian tradition, I think it is an important part of the Russian culture and mentality, so I'm strongly against any destruction of it.

However, with both the economics and the culture you seem to present a false dilemma. You imply that the only alternative to Yeltsin and Putin are Kaganovich and Stalin, whereas I strongly believe there are many better alternatives.

Carroll Price, July 1, 2016 at 2:00 am GMT

@Boris N The overall quality of life in any country and in any generation depends on much more than annual income, reflected in the amount of money people have at their disposal. In fact, it's becoming increasingly evident that the more money people have to spend on "toys" and other unnecessary items, leads to major social problems including atomized families, wide-spread drug addiction, high suicide rates, mental problems, obesity, and homelessness. Not to speak of a lowering of moral standards that's simply off the charts – in the wrong direction. It's obvious that rural Americans (in particular) in the 1920s and 30s, although having little money at their disposal, enjoyed a much higher quality of life including extended and close knit families, than the majority of Americans today. I could be mistaken, but I suspect the same would be true for the average Russian today.

Rurik, July 2, 2016 at 7:33 pm GMT

@Boris N Thank you for your reply Boris.

We all know Putin plays footsie with the oligarchs. We all know he pretends to like Bibi and is a master at realpolitik. But the impression I get is of a man who wrested control of Russia away from the worst of the oligarchs, while playing nice with the rest of them. That's how it looked to us from thousands of miles away in the dying West, and firmly under the Zio/Rothschild boot, that this was/is a great man. A world-class statesman and nationalist who crushed the fanatical terrorists in Chechnya and mollified the moderate ones with reasonable policies, and he returned the resources of Russia back the Russian state.

Sure there is massive corruption, and other problems, but considering what the Russian people have endured with decades of (Jewish imposed) genocidal commie slavery, and then having it all do a 180 and then being impoverished even worse under the cruel destitution of crony Jewish 'capitalism' that simply handed Russia over to a few Jewish and Russian minions of Rothschild- to lord it over the dying and starving Russian people- for Putin to have turned this around is incomprehensible. It's nothing less than an historic accomplishment of a truly great man. A giant on the world's stage.

He has, it seems to me, nearly single handedly reined in the drooling, frothing Fiend, ripping to shreds everything it could get its blood dripping teeth on. Libya was the final straw for Putin, and he alone stood up to the beast when all of Europe were counting their shekels and tossing their citizens and their nation's dignity onto the Moloch's pyres of war and slaughter and cowardly appeasement of the Fiend.

Putin said 'enough!' And has stopped them in Syria (for now) when everyone else was wringing their hands, Putin showed them all how a man with integrity must act, when faced with a thug and a bully. You stand up to them. Or you cower, and place your fate in their hands, as Gadhafi had done.

That's sort of how I see it. Yes, he plays ball with some very unsavory types, and corruption is rampant. But he has done something wonderful Boris.. he has given the Russian people back their dignity. They have something today that I don't think they've had for generations.. Hope. A shred of pride at being who and what they are; Russians.

How do you put a price on that? How do you quantify that kind of thing. Sure, Americans may be able to afford more flat screen TVs, with which to watch their culture and heritage being relentlessly maligned, their identities excoriated as evil, and their culture turned into a sewer. Oh joy. But how do you put a value on giving to your people a quiet sense of personal dignity? Vs. pitting them endlessly against each other with raging identity politics and a race down to the moral abyss of spiritual feculence, writ large.

That is our lot over here in the West Boris, and the SUVs and flat screen TVs just aren't all that, when you consider the soul and the doomed future of your people.

Boris N, July 2, 2016 at 8:15 pm GMT

@Carroll Price

I will strongly disagree. We have a lot of examples all around the world where the lack of money and low living standards lead to the same bad things that you have listed. You do not need to go far, just look at your neighbour countries in Central America, or else you even might go to your own American poor minority (Black or Hispanic) neighbourhood, where the people will strongly disagree with you that their living on $10,000/year gives them a great virtue, like if they have no money to buy "toys" (in fact, first-necessity goods) then they live better "spiritual" lives. When the poor speak about the spirituality of poverty, this usually means a getaway from the harsh reality with the help of self-illusion. When the rich speak about the spirituality of poverty, this usually means they try to cheat the poor.

Greasy William, July 2, 2016 at 8:22 pm GMT

We all know he pretends to like Bibi and is a master at realpolitik .

1. He's not pretending. There is a reason that Russian nationalists absolutely despise him. He completely betrayed Iran when he refused to sell them the s-300 until they accepted Obama's deal.

2. He is extremely conscious of Russian public opinion, and yet still has no problem having publicly good relations with Netanyahu. That tells you all you need to know about how indifferent the Russian people are towards the Palestinians. Contrary to your delusions, Russia is not some sort of alt right paradise as any of the nationalists who actually live in Russia would be quick to tell you.

Rurik, July 2, 2016 at 9:05 pm GMT

He completely betrayed Iran when he refused to sell them the s-300 until they accepted Obama's deal.

Jesus Greasy, that the realpolitik I was talking about that you even highlighted in your quote! What he doesn't want is an all out war with the Zio-West!

2. He is extremely conscious of Russian public opinion, and yet still has no problem having publicly good relations with Netanyahu.

again, he's pretending to like Bibi because Bibi is the king of the Jews and therefore the default king of the West today. He's Rothschild's number one stooge. Of course Putin has to play nice with him. But be honest Greasy, no one on this planet actually likes Bibi. That's like saying you like hemorrhoids. You deal with things like hemorrhoids or Bibi, as the case may be, but sure as shit don't like them.

Russia is not some sort of alt right paradise as any of the nationalists

no, certainly not. But it's also not a cultural sewer of the Jewish id, that we in the West all have to marinate in, thankyouverymuch.. not

Greasy William, July 2, 2016 at 9:37 pm GMT

@Rurik

Bibi is the king of the Jews

Bibi rules purely by default. He's not the king of anything. Nasrallah knew what he was talking about when he said that Sharon was the last King of Israel.

Jesus Greasy, that the realpolitik I was talking about that you even highlighted in your quote!

But Putin is democratically elected. The only reason he can engaged in realpolitik in the middle east is because the Russia public doesn't give a rat's ass what happens to the Iranians or Palestinians. The only people in Russia who care about those groups are the nationalists, who, as I have said, hate Putin's guts.

Carroll Price, July 2, 2016 at 9:54 pm GMT

@Boris N Moral always come first, with money being secondary. Of course It takes a certain amount of money for people to live, but in practically every case, the more money immoral people have at their disposal the lower they sink and the sorrier they get. With Hollywood pukes being living examples of what money without morals produces. I'm surprised you haven't figured this out.

Greasy William, July 2, 2016 at 10:42 pm GMT

but in practically every case, the more money immoral people have at their disposal the lower they sink and the sorrier they get.

Without spiritual health, economic health is not only meaningless, it's unsustainable. As we here in America are about to learn the hard way.

Boris N, July 4, 2016 at 12:30 pm GMT

@Rurik I can understand why you have a distorted view of Putin and the Russian life. Because Westerners simply lack important sources of information about the reality in Russia, you simply do not live in Russia, do not meet and hear the people everyday, you are not insiders. This is why I always say that the voice for Russia in the Western media (at least in the non-mainstream one, because I have no illusion about the MSM) must be given not to West-based either Russophobes or Russophiles, who practically know nothing, but to middle-aged, middle-class Russians, who love and understand best their own home. But even in such a case we must have many voices because no two Russians have a similar point of view, for example, even if I become one of the voices (I've written quite much here, that many of my comments deserve to become articles on their own, ha-ha) many Russians will agree with me, many will disagree, and many may have totally different third, forth, and so on views. The Russian political spectrum is much diverse, there is no false dichotomy like in the West.

And from that you all have a problem. You get information about Russia either from the Washington-centric quasi-independent ("independent" in the American political doublespeak always means independent from everyone but Washington) outlets, like NYT, WP, Fox, CNN, you name it, and their view of Russia for the past 90 years is quite predictable if not annoying, and I understand why you do not believe them and interpret everything they say in the opposite way, so you have formed a habit that when they say something is black you understand it as something is white.

On the other hand you have the Kremlin propaganda state machine like RT who obviously do the same thing as the Washington propaganda machine, but in the opposite direction; or Russophilic individuals (usually emigres with nostalgia), lone wolf voices like the Saker or Karlin, but whose voice anyway is irrelevant and illusional because, as I've said, they are outsiders and know little about the actual Russian life, but they rather might be characterized as positive interpreters of open sources (and neither the sources nor their interpretations ought to be true).

Also we have local "opposition" outlets either in Russian like the radio station "Ekho Moskvy", the TV station "Dozhd", "Novaya Gazeta" and so on, or in English like "The Moscow Times", but I do not even take them seriously, I consider them as virtually subsidiaries of the Western MSM (though there is one irony that furiously anti-government "Ekho Moskvy" is owned by Gazprom).

What I wanted to say, that even if many who are not hopelessly brainwashed understand that the demonizing of Russia is a lie, it does not make the opposite view automatically right, and your over-positive opinion is generally illusional. I tried to bring you around, but seemed to fail, though to change anybody's opinion was not my goal, I was just trying to say my opinion, be it right or wrong.

Maybe our opinions are heavily influenced by our lives, both you and I may have been disappointed by our lives in our respective countries, but you believe that there is somewhere a better land, and it's Russia, while I, in turn, believe the life in the West is better. But there is one distinction. I've been in both the places and I can compare, but I bet if you come to Russia and do not become one of the high-paid Western expats who live luxury lives in Moscow, you'll very soon run off home and your Putinism will fade immediately (though your love to Russia itself may strengthen, as it has been with many Westerners).

Boris N, July 4, 2016 at 12:46 pm GMT

@Greasy William I do not know what sort of Russian nationalists you are speaking about, simply because there are not THE Russian nationalists, but one or two dozens of diffused different small groups with different if not opposite views, who may call themselves or other may call them "Russian nationalists". Not to mention thousands of common non-partisan Russians who may call themselves nationalists as well but as well may have thousands of different personal opinions about the past and the current affairs.

Among those nationalists I know personally, most of them absolutely do not care about Iran, Israel and Palestine and about the Middle East in general. The interest has only aroused since the Syrian intervention, but the general opinion about it is negative, because many think that the war in Syria is utterly inappropriate, when just at the border there is an ongoing unfinished war with Ukraine. And some nationalists even have a positive view of both Israel and Iran as good examples of national states, of what Russia must become. And unlike many commenters here, most (with some exemptions) are not so much obsessed with Israel and Jews, and they do not care if Putin loves either Israel or Iran, they dislike Putin not for that, but for other mostly internal problems.

Boris N, July 4, 2016 at 12:56 pm GMT

@Carroll Price

I do not deny the need and the role of good moral, but I have a more materialistic view of the world, an important if not the fundamental condition for good moral is the full stomach. Again no need to go far for examples, there is Latin America where people theoretically have good moral, they all are devoted Catholics, but they live in a chaotic criminal frenzy, when Detroit would look like a safe haven compared to San Salvador. Do you really think that if the USA will be as poor as but as "spiritual" as Latin America, the US life will improve?

Boris N, July 4, 2016 at 1:07 pm GMT

@Greasy William

It works in the opposite direction as well. When people have not enough means, they have no much time left to think about and to follow good moral, they are simply surviving as they can, often doing very ugly things. In most cases a society in strong need ends up in a chaos as we can see it in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

In both the cases wealth does not guarantee good moral, but good moral is not an inevitable result of poverty. Where do you choose to live, in wealthy but "immoral" Geneva or in poor but "spiritual" San Salvador?

Greasy William, July 4, 2016 at 7:19 pm GMT

Where do you choose to live, in wealthy but "immoral" Geneva or in poor but "spiritual" San Salvador?

But San Salvador is just as spiritually sick as the West, just in a different way. A spiritually healthy society will have low corruption, low violence, respect for women's rights and concern for the welfare of the weak (the poor, the disabled, the sick). Poverty *can* breed evil, but evil always ultimately breeds poverty.

I do not know what sort of Russian nationalists you are speaking about

The one's who show off their gorgeous girlfriends who have "88″ and bladed swastikas tattooed on their asses.

And some nationalists even have a positive view of both Israel and Iran as good examples of national states, of what Russia must become.

They want Russia to become multi culture, failing states, with grinding poverty where the different factions of the population hate each other while a corrupt and incompetent elite rules over them? That is what they want Russia to become?

Have you ever read the Kreutzer Sonata? It is the only piece of Russian literature I have ever read and I really liked it a lot.

Rurik, July 5, 2016 at 2:11 pm GMT

@Boris N Hey Boris,

The Russian political spectrum is much diverse, there is no false dichotomy like in the West.

well from what I can glimmer, the 'dichotomy' in Russia seems to go something like either 'we/I like Putin', or 'we/I don't like Putin'.

Perhaps it has something to do with hard politics on the ground, and the reality that it's this guy that is running things today in Russia, for better or worse.

I understand why you do not believe them and interpret everything they say in the opposite way, so you have formed a habit that when they say something is black you understand it as something is white.

I wouldn't quite characterize it in this way. It's true I never believe them, but that doesn't mean they never tell the truth. Sometimes they mix a little truth in with the lies, and sometimes they say what's really going on, because by doing so it suits their agenda(s).

When they say the Olympics are happening in Sochi, I believe them. When they say Putin shot down MH17, I think they're lying. And then with most things in between, I think it's a combination of lies and truth, always with an agenda in mind. If Putin were assisting with the destruction of Syria today, like they (the occupied West) did to Iraq and Libya, I think they'd be calling him a great statesman, and partner in freedom and democracy. It all depends on if he toes the line.

but you believe that there is somewhere a better land, and it's Russia, while I, in turn, believe the life in the West is better. But there is one distinction. I've been in both the places and I can compare

It's true I've never been to Russia, at least not yet. The closest I've came is Slovakia and Hungary, (but I did meet a beautiful Russian girl when I visited Cuba a few years ago!)

I've never thought life was better in Russia. We do have many blessings in the West. But today I consider the government of Russia (with all of it's well known corruption and chicanery) as hands down a thousand times better than what we now have in the West. And the trajectory of Putin's Russia vs. the US or Germany for instance, I consider as like a country on the rise, vs. a civilization in rapid (free-fall) decline.

My short take is that after the revolution and the murder of the Tsar and his family, the Fiend took control of Russia, and set about slaughtering the best of the Russians (and everyone else they could get their feculent hands on), and imposing a genocidal slavery on those people for generations. And then one day when they (Rothschild) decided that commie slavery was too expensive (you had to feed and house the people), they decided to impose a system even more cruel and fiendish. They'd simply use their puppet, quisling government in Moscow to loot the wealth and resources of Russia outright, and make Rothschild's minions some of the richest men in the world overnight, while impoverishing the Russian people to the point of near starvation. (it's what the do ; )

And then out of the blue came Putin, who wrested Russia away from the Fiend, and gave her hope, (and an ascendant middle class and pride in Russia's heritage). For the Fiend, this was an abomination, and ironically enough; Putin was now a new Hitler – especially when he jailed on of their own (and for hard labor -- It was another Holocaust!). But as long as he played ball with the West by letting most of the Jewish oligarchs keep their ill-gotten billions, and went along with atrocities like the savage rape of Iraq, the oligarchs were willing to ignore what Putin had done to their designs and fun up to a degree.

But then came Libya, and Putin saw that the Fiend was in absolute control of the West, and must not be fed anymore, lest the Fiend grow and fester and become a dire threat to Russia itself, (again). So Putin put the kibosh on Syria, and now he's locked in a death struggle with the Fiend, who is insane with power-lust.

It's a difficult situation to be sure. And that's how I see the West vs. Putin's Russia, and why I like Putin even with all his warts and faults. At least he's trying to make Russia great again, and that's why there are many of us in the West who pine for a man like him to take on the Fiend that has its fangs locked deeply into the jugular of the West.

For what it's worth.

cheers

Rurik, July 5, 2016 at 2:25 pm GMT

@Greasy William

The only reason he can engaged in realpolitik in the middle east is because the Russia public doesn't give a rat's ass what happens to the Iranians or Palestinians.

I think they do care what happens to Iran, since it's a close trading partner. And the Palestinians are just a distant, tragic people to the Russians. Why should they wring their hands, it isn't them who're foisting the evils upon the Pals, it's us Americans that are doing that.

The only people in Russia who care about those groups are the nationalists, who, as I have said, hate Putin's guts.

how many Russian nationalists do you know or speak to who are not Jewish, Greasy?

From what I understand, the IDF is chock full of Russian émigrés, and their take on things must be skewed by Putin's thwarting of Israel's designs on the Golan.

here's a forum run by an ultra-Russian nationalist

http://www.network54.com/Forum/84302

another

http://slavija.proboards.com/

here's the Pravda main forum

http://engforum.pravda.ru/index.php?/forum/3-main-forum/

lot's of chafe on that one but you can at least glimmer a nuanced inkling of what the Russian nationalists are on about

(they love Putin ; )

Rurik, July 5, 2016 at 2:39 pm GMT

@Greasy William

Without spiritual health, economic health is not only meaningless, it's unsustainable. As we here in America are about to learn the hard way.

having linked to the Pravda forum, I just took a moment to peruse the Pravda front page.

This from an article on Russia today:

Putin has saved the country before and he is saving the country now. We despise all the fifth column "dissent" that is based on your taxpayer money. Russia will never behave like Soros, who maintains institutions to overthrow governments, because our leaders are Orthodox Christians. Capitalism is not our religion. You are addicted to a beautiful body, and we are addicted to a beautiful soul.

more:

Our aggressiveness exists only in your imagination. The reunification of the Russian people with the Crimea passed without one single shot, because Russia is more than just a country. Russia is a territory, which shares a common language, history and culture. We see any attempt to "reprogram" Russians in Ukraine as a hybrid warfare against us. One can welcome the Scottish Premier and discuss the likelihood for the UK to fall apart, but one can not support the population of southern lands of the former Russian Empire in their aspiration to withdraw from Ukraine? Is this not a double standard?

.. we do not like your determination to make us be like you. We change. Moscow has become one of the most beautiful capitals in Europe. We do not live up to Western lifestyles, and we do not "give a damn" if you do not like our way.

http://www.pravdareport.com/society/stories/04-07-2016/134920-russians_foreigners-0/

NoseytheDuke, July 6, 2016 at 3:22 am GMT

@Greasy William

I would say that Putin certainly does care about Iran. It doesn't take a genius to know which nations have been declared evil and targeted by the US, they are frequently named by traitorous whores like Hillary, Obuma, Biden etc, along with the treacherous neo-cons who bear responsibility for fomenting wars in the ME.

Putin is smart enough to know that if any nation sits back and waits its turn to be attacked it will surely be destroyed. He went out on a limb to arrest the destruction of Syria and it has paid off. He appears to have played his cards remarkably well to date. I can't imagine that the stratospheric level of approval and support that he receives in Russia is fictional.

I would believe RT News before I would the BBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, DW, Fox and all the other discredited western "news" outlets.

Boris N, July 9, 2016 at 2:25 am GMT

@Rurik

the 'dichotomy' in Russia seems to go something like either 'we/I like Putin', or 'we/I don't like Putin'.

To like/dislike Putin is not a political stance but rather a personal opinion. But it does not explain nor imply any other view. To be precise, several persons can dislike Putin, but one may be a pro-Western ultra-liberal, another a Stalinist, other a National-Bolshevik, other a Christian Monarchist, other a racist Nazi, other a pro-Ukrainian Nazi, and so on. It is difficult to list them all. And they all may have totally different views on many subjects, but just one thing in common, as you said, a dislike to Putin.

I cannot say for sure for the Western public but I hardly saw such a variety of views. Maybe the reason why Russians cannot unite and change something, because they are so disintegrated on many issues.

It's true I never believe them, but that doesn't mean they never tell the truth.

OK, I did not mean that. Of course, when they say that somewhere there has been a tornado, or, as in your example, a sporting event, or some other trivial factual thing they simply cannot not to say truth. But when they are trying to create some sort of analysis about hot global political affairs they usually back up the agenda of their Washington-Brussels masters. But the agenda of the Kremlin is hardly better . The best option is not to listen them both.

But today I consider the government of Russia (with all of it's well known corruption and chicanery) as hands down a thousand times better than what we now have in the West.

Again, you say this because you simply has a very limited range of sources of information. You just repeat a made-up image of the Russian government or, precisely, of just one person, Putin. But this is just an image for the outside (non-Russian) public . You need know more, much more, form a variety of Russian sources, for a long period of time, and then you might have not the right, but at least a less distorted view. The actual Russian government, if we put Putin (pun) aside, is comprised of very ugly, greedy, treacherous, hypocritical people, I simply cannot find the right words for those bastards. They are utterly disgusting. They have been ruining the country for the past 25 years.

And the trajectory of Putin's Russia vs. the US or Germany for instance, I consider as like a country on the rise, vs. a civilization in rapid (free-fall) decline.

Russia is on the fall . The crisis of the past two years has just nullified any achievements of the previous 2004-2014 decade. Russia has practically returned to its starting position. And nothing says about its rise, everything says the contrary . Russians have entered a difficult time. They will be remembering 2000-2014 with bitter nostalgia.

And then out of the blue came Putin, who wrested Russia away from the Fiend, and gave her hope,

Putin did not turn out of blue, he was a member of the 1990s robbing elite, he is a continuation of Yeltsin, I explained it in my other comments colorfully. Not to mention Putin's "team" are the very same people from the 1990s. Take anybody and they all were doing some ugly things in the 1990s, but now they are "respected" officials and "businessmen". The only thing he has done is to hide this ugly truth under the cover. And millions around the world believe his deceit, how naive.

Boris N, July 9, 2016 at 2:42 am GMT

@Greasy William

The one's who show off their gorgeous girlfriends who have "88″ and bladed swastikas tattooed on their asses.

If you speaking seriously, what I doubt, then they are a very small, marginal minority. Since the 2000s being 1488 is a mauvais ton in the Russian national circles, nobody take those Racial Holy Warriors and fans of Hitler seriously, they are just nutheads.

They want Russia to become multi culture, failing states, with grinding poverty where the different factions of the population hate each other while a corrupt and incompetent elite rules over them? That is what they want Russia to become?

Actually, for the past 25 years Russia is becoming "a multi-culture, failing state, with grinding poverty where the different factions of the population hate each other while a corrupt and incompetent elite rules over them" . I will add that that elite is in the West in their minds, and they have to be physically located in Russia just for the sake of "earning" money.

Of course, no Russian nationalists want this, even the Nazi nuthead minority. When I said Israel was taken as an example I meant something like that .

Boris N, July 9, 2016 at 2:56 am GMT

@Rurik

lot's of chafe on that one but you can at least glimmer a nuanced inkling of what the Russian nationalists are on about

(they love Putin ; )

No, you cannot accidentally pick up some obscure bulletin boards, hosted on a free-hosting site, which boards nobody knows and cares about.

The actual whole Russian national movement has been being thought through, discussed and constructed for many years entirely in Russian, in the Russian part of the internet, and not in English by some pro-Russian foreigners or Russian emigres.

!--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Fighting_russophobia/index.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Fighting_russophobia/cold_war2.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Propaganda/index.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/neocons.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Nationalism/far_right_forces_in_ukraine.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Pseudoscience/harvard_mafia.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Fighting_russophobia/Propaganda_as_creation_of_artificial_reality/demonization_of_putin.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neocons/neocon_foreign_policy.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neocolonialism/predator_state.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Propaganda/Neo_mccarthyism/index.shtml-->

[Jul 23, 2017] Emigrant Russians scientists after fleeing our benevolent Shock Treatment are still ungrateful and like to bemoan the horrors of the West insisting that contemporary US University Education Administration is Worse than under Brezhnev , and to accuse us – the West – of having sold them, the Soviets, a bag of ideological nonsense about capitalism and freedom.

Notable quotes:
"... The problems that the Communist bloc countries developed in the 80ies were problems of growth. Liberalization of the regime was under way and clearly understood as necessary by the leadership – but that process failed – because it was taken advantage of, both internally and externally. ..."
"... "In what circumstances would you want the economy to be planned, and what sort of planning do you have in mind?" ..."
"... intellectual ..."
"... Aron was in some sense a "Marxian" ..."
"... the theorists of colonialism ..."
"... "were convinced that the USSR was a genuine incarnation of Left values." ..."
"... Roma Città Aperta ..."
"... would have thought ..."
"... Quaderni del carcere ..."
"... "understand the world" ..."
"... "to change the world" ..."
"... America's Protectionist Takeoff 1815-1914: The Neglected American School of Political Economy ..."
"... Securing the Fruits of Labor: The American Concept of Wealth Distribution, 1765-1900 ..."
"... Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America ..."
"... society in the process of formation ..."
"... A Hard Rain Fell: SDS and Why It Failed ..."
"... War In the Shadows, the Guerilla in History, Vol II ..."
"... Theory of the Partisan ..."
Jul 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

witters , , July 21, 2017 at 7:01 pm

It is awkward when – as has happened with me – a Russian comes to the West – fleeing our beneficient "Shock Treatment" – and then shocks one by saying in anger at my casual derogatory comment about Stalin, "Listen, Stalin wasn't all bad!"

And then goes on to bemoan the horrors of the West. He finished, in the corridor of the Department, by insisting that contemporary Westen University Education Administration was "Worse than under Brezhnev", and to accuse us – the West – of having sold them, the Soviets, a bag of ideological nonsense about capitalism and freedom.

And then invited me to his home for borsch and table tennis.

Vlade would set him straight, but I went and had the borscht and played – and lost – the table tennis.

kukuzel , , July 21, 2017 at 11:23 am

I grew up in the Communist block in the 70-ies and 80-ies. I've now lived in the US for about 20 years. Comparing the lives of the people on minimum or low wages in the US with those similarly placed in the Communist block economies is in my view indisputably in favor of the Communist bloc. Free child care, education, provided at decent quality, and practically EVERYONE owned a home – a small one, but nonetheless a normal home, that you paid off over 30 years with your state guaranteed job. No interest loans from simple savings pools managed on rotational principle at work (my parents used them extensively). Nearly everyone in the cities had a small summer cottage and a small garden that produced vegetables – for recreation and added self-sufficiency, and not to mention a boost to communities. Yeah, our family car was a Trabant – a laughable vehicle for the US consumer, even absurd by today's standards. But we didn't have and didn't need 6-lane highways either, so the Trabi was adequate. And yeah, many personal freedoms were severely limited, and there was a lack of culture of law – but that was more attributable to historic backwardness, because that culture of law is even more absent today.

As a middle class professional today in Silicon Valley earning way beyond the median income in the US, I am struggling to provide a similar level or security for my family and a similar quality of community life and good education. Bottom line, this level of security is probably only achievable for under 5% of the US households.

So yeah, I agree with the statement.

So for all those focused on the committed atrocities, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. There were good things and we have lost them. Probably forever.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 11:31 am

Thanks for your comment – can you tell us a little more about which countries you lived in (and, if possible, which ones you thought worked better than others)? As I said in my post, I'm interested in learning more about the specificities of particular countries.

kukuzel , , July 21, 2017 at 2:39 pm

I grew up in Bulgaria. I also have memories from a summer camp and middle school exchange program in Czechoslovakia in the 80ies, and the standard of living and the culture of people there seemed much higher. For example, my Czech host family (the parents worked in an electronic watch factory, in a small town east of Prague – they could have been engineers possibly and not line workers as they seemed well educated) had a small two-story single family concrete house, with a small rye-grass lawn and a barbeque – luxuries that we in Bulgaria did not have. They also had a bathtub – again a luxury I was not familiar with in Bulgarian homes. I remember that the stores and pastry shops in my hosts' town looked nicer and had more and better quality items.

One other thing I remember: the bread and tap water were not as good as in Bulgaria. I guess not everything is explainable by the economic system alone :)

Nowadays reliable info about the standard of living of those times is harder and harder to find – and it seems that any info is used to ridicule it rather than try to genuinely understand how it was achieved. My relatives like to talk about it, and what they share is not all rosy. But all of the baby boomer generation who came of age in the 60ies, 70ies and 80ies managed to raise and educate 2 kids on average, and acquire a modest but adequate home – ALL. Note that people needed a special permission to acquire a second home. Homelessness and crime virtually did not exist. I think it can safely be said that 90% of society had a solid basic standard of living – no vacations on the Bahamas, no diamonds on your wife's finger and no latest model BMW in your garage, but you knew the big items were taken care of.

The problems that the Communist bloc countries developed in the 80ies were problems of growth. Liberalization of the regime was under way and clearly understood as necessary by the leadership – but that process failed – because it was taken advantage of, both internally and externally.

kukuzel , , July 21, 2017 at 2:57 pm

I want to add one more thing: today, in my observation, the generation X and millennials in Bulgaria can only afford to live on the meager incomes their jobs provide because they have a free flat or house from their parents or grandparents. Gradually home ownership levels are eroding and more and more people have to rent, just like in the mature "developed" economies. That is a time bomb that will enslave all but few.

This is one factor that I see mentioned nowhere – how Communism, given its objections to private property, actually allowed the vast majority of working people to build a base of wealth in their homes – that is to this day supporting the economic balance of the country.

There is a program under way currently in Bulgaria to upgrade the insulation of Communist era apartment blocs. There are discussions on TV and press about how many billions of euros this costs. Well, I would say – then how about putting this in perspective to the cost of actually BUILDING all of this housing fund which was done in the prior era?? Imagine the billions upon billions that were spent by this society to build 100s of thousands of units, affordable units, with green spaces around them, schools etc. Can you imagine a program of that magnitude anywhere today?

So these are the contrasts that emerge, and I would much rather have the discussion be about that – and not about the horrors of Stalinism or other Communist totalitarianism. Those should not be ever forgotten or concealed, but what would be really useful today in our Western society is the good things that Communist regimes managed to achieve – because they are very illuminating about what is economically possible to achieve.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 6:53 pm

kukuzel, thanks so much for all of this highly detailed information.

On your last point, what I actually think we should strive for is the ability not to have to choose between the two kinds of discourses you indicate. It shouldn't be a playground contest over "Well, your system's more horrible." It should be about us being able to say – for example – I want to be able to have these positive aspects from the Bulgarian communist years without having to have these negative ones.

Or to put it another way, not having to take societies as blocs.

That means having to tease apart the extent to which positive aspects were or were not achieved through means that also led to the negative aspects. But this kind of analysis has to be done anyway – even if the idea were to return to something like this or this other particular society, it would still not work without adapting the earlier model to changed circumstances.

Lee , , July 21, 2017 at 12:08 pm

The collapse of the Soviet Union was a disaster for many Russians. The one Russian family I know well were well-off prior to the collapse but for an extended period they could not provide for their two daughters so they asked my wife and I to sponsor and serve as wards for one of them who had lived with us under a student exchange program. Her mother had worked as an industrial chemist and her father had worked in IT for financial institutions. The father died a death of despair; he drank himself to death. The mother now teaches college level chem. The daughter who remained with us now works for a well known US company making films, is married and has two children. The daughter who remained in Russia is a marine biologist. This family, well educated and dedicated to their work and each other did well under the Soviet system and their lot has improved immensely under Putin.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 5:45 pm

I have read that Putin's economic policies are somewhat "right-wing" in their tendencies.

I don't know whether this is accurate although maybe some readers do. If it is, though, it would suggest that what made the difference in Russia is not so much communism versus capitalism but a strong state (Putin, communism) versus a weak state (the 90s).

Carolinian , , July 21, 2017 at 8:57 am

Thanks for this. Perhaps the latest crime of "capitalism"–40,000 civilians may have died under American and Iraqi bombs and shells as Mosul was "liberated." Rather than visit mass violence on their own people the US and Britain have turned it outward and then claimed it was unfortunately necessary.

As for the above post, I think it may be minimizing the degree to which capitalist opposition shaped communism. This Stephen Cohen article that I linked the other day suggests that the Soviets under Glasnost may have been moving toward a more democratic form of communism but that was subverted by the greed of its own oligarchs and open US support for Yeltsin who crushed democracy and wrecked the country.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/dec/13/comment.russia

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 10:45 am

The Stephen Cohen article is interesting and I'm puzzled as to why you think it is somehow incompatible with anything that I said in the post.

When you say we should emphasize more the extent to which capitalist opposition shaped communism, you fail to address my response that this argument proves too much. Every regime or institution faces some sort of opposition. This opposition partly constrains how it can act. Why couldn't you just as easily say, "Everything that Monsanto (or Uber, or Goldman, etc., etc.) does has to be understood considering that they are operating in a fearsome competitive environment, where at the first sign of weakness, their competitors were ready to crush them"?

Rossana Rossanda, who had every reason in the world to want to find extenuating circumstances for the regime she had "loved," was unable to convince herself that the argument you are proposing sufficed to conjure away the moral problem. See below (response to Ulysses) where I quote from her book at length.

I also think you are engaging in sloppy reasoning when you attribute 40,000 deaths at Mosul to "capitalism." That's the same kind of lack of concern to agents used in the Black Book when it attributes massive numbers of war deaths to "communism."

Carolinian , , July 21, 2017 at 11:22 am

If America had never invaded Iraq would those 40,000 still be alive? I'd say there's a persuasive case that they would be. And there's also a persuasive case that George W. Bush's motives had everything to do with capitalist imperatives, oil imperialism, the profits of the MIC etc.

And I'm not trying to defend Soviet communism since IMO both sides of the Cold War divide were misguided. I'm just saying that from the very beginning the attitude of the capitalist countries was that communism was something that couldn't be allowed to succeed lest the contagion spread. So it's hard for us to know how, say, Cuba might have turned out absent so much US meddling.

optimader , , July 21, 2017 at 7:26 pm

Perhaps the latest crime of "capitalism"–40,000 civilians may have died under American and Iraqi bombs and shells as Mosul was "liberated."

is this an indictment of capitalism or of US politicians delusion of "transformation" and the inertia of the MIC?
correlation is not causation File under: crimes of Stalin, Mao, PolPot and Castro

Vatch , , July 21, 2017 at 10:37 am

The Brits starved something like 30 million Indians in the 19th century,

Source, please. Note that prior to 1857, the British control over India was incomplete. Many of the famine deaths prior to that were unrelated to British rule. I think I've seen estimates that about 5 million people died in 1876 and again in 1896. I'm not defending British rule -- they had no right to be there, and they did not care about the needs of the people that they ruled. I'm just wondering about the number 30 million.

if people accurately tallied up the deaths and inefficiencies under capitalism and imperialism, Stalin and Mao were quaint.

False. In addition to what happened in Ukraine and Kazakhstan in 1931-1933, we need to consider the catastrophe of Mao's Great Leap Forward from 1958 to 1962. The low estimate of deaths from starvation is 30 million, and in Frank Dikötter's book Mao's Great Famine , the author estimates that at least 45 million died of starvation. That's just a 4 – 5 year period.

Carolinian , , July 21, 2017 at 11:10 am

Perhaps the Russians could claim that the 20 million plus Russians who died during WW2 were victims of capitalism not to mention all those who died in WW1. The point is that neither system has clean hands when it comes to violence. They just have different targets.

Vatch , , July 21, 2017 at 11:19 am

There's a difference between deaths in wartime and deaths in peacetime. They're equally horrible, but it's harder to pick an economic ideology to blame for wartime deaths. After all, Stalin helped start the European portion of WWII with the Molotov Von Ribbentrop Pact. So one could say that those 20 million deaths were partly caused by communism.

Carolinian , , July 21, 2017 at 11:38 am

One reason many in the West were at first complacent about Hitler coming to power was the hope that he would take out the Soviets. I'd say there's a case to be made that the whole second half of the 20th century was shaped by the Russian Revolution and the reaction to it. Hitler was always going to invade Russia. He hoped Britain and others would join him in his crusade. When WW2 was over there were many who thought we should keep going and take out the Soviets too, even if with nuclear weapons. Some people it seems still think that even though Russians are no longer communists.

So it's a power struggle of course, but in the 20th cent it was very much an ideological struggle. Perhaps anti-communism was just an excuse but having been there I'd say the Cold Warriors were true believers.

Vatch , , July 21, 2017 at 11:52 am

Hitler was always going to invade Russia.

Very likely true. But first he had to invade Poland, and he would have done that later if it had not been for his Nonaggression Pact with the Soviets. Meanwhile, if the invasion of Poland had been delayed, Britain and France would have improved their military capabilities, because they knew what Hitler was up to after he seized Czechoslovakia earlier in 1939. Stalin made it easier for Hitler in 1939.

Alex Morfesis , , July 21, 2017 at 1:43 pm

Could we just order summary execution for anyone who brings up mass deaths from the past ?? Only semi snarking

most wars seem to come from grandfathers telling their grandsons things that never were

Someone kills some trees and throws some ink on them to work on tenure 50 75..100 200 500 years after the fact

Why does anyone believe anything anyone writes or says??

The dead are dead we can't bring them back and
they won't have noticed
we avenged them because they are dead

Can we even agree on what is going on around the world today as we speak & communicate ??

Trump being investigated by the watchful eye of the fool who was filling in crossword puzzle books his first few weeks in office allowing the events of 9-11 to occur ??

How funny is that ??

We have the self proclaimed righteous (privately owned) 1$t amendment acela vanity press cutting and pasting talking points while almost never publishing the contents of the federal register or congressional research service reports and it's not just an american phenomenon most countries have "official gazettes" none of the "great and brave journalists" bother actually reporting on the business of government

The dead are dead nothing will bring them back and those who killed them are also probably dead

For those who submit and do not resist, most leadership will seem benevolent for those with other thoughts death will come sooner than originally planned

There is plenty of history when one is handed "atrocities" one should ask why this and why now ??

War is easy peace is difficult

The difficult road is less boring

Katsue , , July 21, 2017 at 12:16 pm

By the time of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, a European war was already unavoidable. The farce of Non-Intervention in the Spanish Civil War, the Munich Agreement, and Poland's participation in the partition of Czechoslovakia, had totally discredited Litvinov's pro-Western foreign policy.

jw , , July 21, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Sources: Late Victorian Holocausts by Mike Davis and Epidemics and History by Sheldon Watts both deal with the staggering death toll of British rule in India (roughly 30 million).

Perilous Passage by Amiya Bagchi has a more rigorous count and analysis of India, China, and other countries subjected to imperialism.

Regarding the Ukraine, the Best Sons for the Fatherland by Lynn Viola details the second civil war that was collectivization. Peasants didn't want to give up grain, so they killed Party members, killed their livestock, destroyed their equipment, etc.

I've read Dikotter. The problem with his death tolls is fertility and birth rates drop during famine. You can't extrapolate pre-famine birth rates and say "oh, these people weren't born therefore those count as deaths." They did the same thing with deaths in Kampuchea. And yes, millions did die of famine in the Ukraine and Kazkhanstan. I'm not disputing that. I'm disputing this notion that Stalin and Mao were worse than Hitler. They were not. It's misleading to say "Stalin killed more of his citizens than Hitler did" because most of the killings by Nazis were of Slavs. The Soviets lost well over 20 million people due to the Nazis genocidal plans.

Regarding China, you know the bloodiest civil war/famine in history? The Taiping Rebellion, which was the result of the Brits shoving opium down China's throat. Mao was no saint, but mortality rates in China were far higher before the 1949 revolution than after. See for instance Mobo Gao's the Battle for China's Past or William Hinton's Through a Glass Darkly.

Ultimately, purges and famines miss another huge source of deaths: disease. Mao's China and Stalin's Russia made astounding leaps in public health, eliminating smallpox for one. Conveniently, these millions of lives saved are ignored by Western hysterics. This isn't to say Stalinism and Maoism are desirable. It is to say that the picture requires nuance. There is a reason Mao and Stalin are still revered by millions of people in China and Russia.

Vatch , , July 21, 2017 at 2:19 pm

Thanks for the references.

"I'm disputing this notion that Stalin and Mao were worse than Hitler."

I'm not sure who said that Stalin and Mao were worse than Hitler, but in my opinion they were approximately the same.

Yes, I'm aware of the Taiping Rebellion. Much more deadly than World War I.

Why are Stalin and Mao still revered by some people? Probably for similar reasons as the reverence that some Americans have for Reagan and Trump: people sometimes believe weird things. As for smallpox, that's been eliminated everywhere (we hope); not just in Russia and China.

Tim , , July 21, 2017 at 2:33 pm

Dikotter is a grotesque neoliberal apologist for imperialist drug dealers. He is also a fabulist in his treatment of the effects of heroin/opiate addiction in late 19th/early 20th century China. Given that we in the US are now experiencing a staggering public health disaster with respect to opiate consumption by the immiserated proletariat, Dikotter's attempts to minimize the impacts of opiates on Chinese public health is ghoulish at best.

Vatch , , July 21, 2017 at 2:43 pm

Well, that doesn't seem relevant to the artificial famine of the Great Leap Forward, but I'm curious. What's your source for your claim that he is an apologist for drug dealers? Did he write something bad about the opium wars? Clearly the behavior of Britain in that context was atrocious.

animalogic , , July 21, 2017 at 7:29 am

I would like to thank the author for taking such an open minded, non doctrinaire attitude to this subject.
That's not to suggest I agree with all his conclusions. Nor does the Q & A approach always prove enlightening.
"Q: Was Stalinism good?
A: No."
The question is easy & the answer is correct. Of course, there is a small wrinkle: most historians agree that it was the USSR that made the primary contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Q: to what degree did "Stalinism" enable the USSR to defeat the Nazis ?
A: It's an open question. It's often forgotten that the USSR came very close to defeat in 41′-42′. In part because of Stalin's interference in military matters. But, would the USSR have had ANY chance of victory "but for" the "crash" industrialisation instituted by Stalin in the 30's ? If you allow that crash industrialisation was a necessary, (not sufficient) condition for eventuaL victory – can we give Stalin any credit ?
"Q: Is it at least true that a planned economy always fails?
A: Probably not." But is that the right question ? Isn't the right question, "to what degree/extent can an economy be planned & succeed ?" (An "economy" is almost be definition "planned". The most basic law on property, succession etc IS planning ).
Some of the author's Q & A's are very good:
"Q: Well, is it at least true that attempts to change a society consciously lead to catastrophe?

A: What does it mean for a society to change "unconsciously"? Aren't most social changes due to human decisions? Often proclamations of this sort can function as code for certain groups of people being allowed to change society in "natural" ways, free from "conscious" and "unnatural" "interference" from others." I think the author probably means "programmatically" when he says "consciously" but his point remains valid: change occurs because people have ideas which they seek to implement.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 8:48 am

A few responses: First, I agree that your question on whether the 30s industrialization was crucial is worth posing. On Stalin's interference in 1941-1942, yes, and it's also true that Stalin was initially blindsided by Hitler's attack – he was pretty faithful to Molotov-Ribbentrop while it lasted.

On "programmatic" versus "conscious," I agree that your wording is more precise, but my purpose there was to paraphrase standard ideological constructions.

The purpose of the Q & A was to illustrate how some questions can be answered even when we don't know all the historical details. I can't provide a general answer to, "To what extent can an economy be planned and succeed?" – can you? As I indicated in the article, I think the more fundamental question is in any case, "In what circumstances would you want the economy to be planned, and what sort of planning do you have in mind?"

visitor , , July 21, 2017 at 9:40 am

"In what circumstances would you want the economy to be planned, and what sort of planning do you have in mind?"

An answer was given in "Organizations", written by March and Simon in the 1950s: in case of war.

The observation that during WWII every major player (UK, USA, Germany, Japan, USSR), no matter which economic principles it followed, turned to and relied upon a planned economy, with central resource allocation, dirigiste production schedules and centrally rationed consumption, led those authors to analyze markets and planing entities, as well as participating organizations as problem-solving mechanisms geared to processing information and reducing uncertainty. Interestingly, it appears that in the USSR, WWII led to a moderate relaxation of planning in some sectors of the economy.

Basically, when the stakes are very high (of a survival nature), the resources to put into use of a massive (i.e. national) and comprehensive scale, and there is no time to let multiple entities experiment and find out a "best" approach through trial and error (through the market and its creative destruction), then a centrally planned economy is simply more effective.

I presume that once climate change will really bite and massive, survival-level solutions will be required really fast to mitigate or counter-act it, most countries will be forced to turn to a planned economy modus -- no matter what proponents of markets, four-freedoms or free trade will argue.

Vatch , , July 21, 2017 at 10:45 am

Yes, the Soviet Union contributed more to the defeat of Nazi Germany than any other country. We are entering into an area where the discussion has sometimes been very angry in the past on this site. In addition to their huge role in the defeat of the Nazis, the Soviets also enabled the Nazi invasion of Poland. Indeed, the Soviets themselves invaded half of Poland under their agreement with the Nazis.

The Soviets helped to win the war that they helped to start.

PlutoniumKun , , July 21, 2017 at 7:35 am

First off, thanks for introducing me to the concept of the 'motte and bailey' argument. Its a great description of a particular type of argument from ideologues of all types that really irritates me.

You've pointed out one of the reasons why I've never self-identified as communist, anarchist, feminist or any other of the myriad 'isms' on the left. I even hesitate sometimes at 'socialist'. There are too many assumptions built into any of those identifications which I'm not always comfortable defending.

I think that constructing an 'ideal' fair and equitable society is an impossibility. There are too many variables in history and sociology and human behavior. And democracy has a nasty habit of producing answers that idealists don't like. I see it as a process, not an end – a messy one of step by step building a world that is more equal, more fair, more environmentally sustainable, with a deeper sense of justice, while accepting that the building blocks of that society might not be very sturdy and will need constant maintenance and repair, and that sometimes you might have to step back and start again. And sometimes, really unpleasant compromises will have to be made in order to achieve a greater good.

One reason I love NC so much is that instead of starting from some sort of idealised notion of how the world should work, is that it addresses how the real world of economics and sociology actually exists, and asks us to think very hard about how to make it better. Its the articles and discussions here which have forced me to question my own assumptions and idealisms and think much harder about how a better society would actually function, not in a 'we'll all live together in co-operatives and play guitar and draw from our Universal Income and guaranteed pensions', but how it will really work.

Ulysses , , July 21, 2017 at 8:39 am

"I think that constructing an 'ideal' fair and equitable society is an impossibility. There are too many variables in history and sociology and human behavior. And democracy has a nasty habit of producing answers that idealists don't like. I see it as a process, not an end – a messy one of step by step building a world that is more equal, more fair, more environmentally sustainable, with a deeper sense of justice, while accepting that the building blocks of that society might not be very sturdy and will need constant maintenance and repair, and that sometimes you might have to step back and start again. And sometimes, really unpleasant compromises will have to be made in order to achieve a greater good."

Excellent points! Yet your last sentence raises a serious question– greater good for who? Very often, neoliberals fudge the answer to this by reifying an abstraction they call "the economy."

"We know it's hard on the eight out of ten people in this de-industrializing nation who will see their living standards decline, but globalization is "good for the economy" in the long run."

The more honest version of this statement would replace the word "economy" with "obscenely wealthy banksters and kleptocrats, and a small number of their enablers and servants to whom they allow a bit of wealth to trickle down."

Moneta , , July 21, 2017 at 11:06 am

If you ask your children how a cake can be fairly distributed, all answers will probably be different. Now imagine this negotiation across 7 billion people.

Guess who gets to cut? Usually the one already in power or the one with a more entitled attitude. It's rarely the most fair individual who gets his/her way.

Grebo , , July 21, 2017 at 5:53 pm

You cut, I choose. Or vice versa.
Someone should work it up into an ideology.

witters , , July 21, 2017 at 7:14 pm

Actually, re the kids. If they have a handle on the idea of fairness – so 3ish and up – they are remarkably sensitive to what fairness rerquires, and how this relates to everyone arround the cake. You try it. It will be divided equally – unless, say, there is someone with an injury or medical conditon or something rather awful – and they will then give that person a bigger slice, and a smaller equal one for everyone else. I've had a fair bit of experience in this matter. (I suspect this wonderfully cheering fact it is what Jesus was reminding us of when he said "Become like little children".)

Moneta , , July 21, 2017 at 7:36 pm

Some people need more calories than others so equal
is not fair.

witters , , July 21, 2017 at 7:39 pm

It is a birthday cake, not the last piece of food on a life-boat!

Uahsenaa , , July 21, 2017 at 10:35 am

I suppose I don't disagree with your point in principle, but coming at this from the perspective of labor organizing and what have you, solidarity of purpose quite often demands a certain degree of (lax) identity signaling so you can easily identify who your comrades/fellow travelers are. A management/worker framing of the dynamics at play in any given place of employment may not perfectly reflect the nuances of that place's social organization but it does provide a handy rule of thumb for action for those who don't want to write a graduate thesis simply in order figure who's on their side and who isn't. Arnade's front row/back row works in a similar way. It's not perfect, but it's been rather effective in identifying how certain educated groups are at least complicit with the aims of plutocrats.

As for advocating for the "ideal," this could just as easily be understood as staking a strong bargaining position. You always ask for more than you think you'll get. So, that doesn't mean a group's utopian demands reflect an inability to see the practicalities of the here and now. It could just as easily mean "we know where we are, but we're always striving for better."

PlutoniumKun , , July 21, 2017 at 11:49 am

I agree with you in general, but I'd make a distinction between pressing for specific aims (for example, Union recognition), and aiming to transform society. Unity of purpose and 'signalling' is vital if people are to unite for a specific aim. But its much harder if your aim is 'an equal society'. You will spend more time arguing about what 'equal' means than actually doing things. Which is of course why the establishment loves identity politics, because it provides an infinity of possibilities for people to fall out arguing over split hairs.

Left in Wisconsin , , July 21, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Yes, there is a necessary dualism. On the one hand, as you say above, it is always a process, not an end. On the other hand, making progress against entrenched power IMO generally requires an image of a destination, even if that destination is always fragile and subject to undermining (as it will always be).

Which I suppose is the issue with communism. It is conceived of as some kind of permanent end point, a Fukuyama-esque end of history. That seems extremely dubious to me.

Moneta , , July 21, 2017 at 11:02 am

That is why I rarely reference my ideas in comments sections. When one does, many seem to think that the reference means one supports the entire philosophy of the quoted pundit and then one gets pigeonholed.

Left in Wisconsin , , July 21, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Probably so. But opponents will pigeon hole anyway. And I find being open in my politics while subjecting my ideas to scrutiny and feedback helpful.

Vikas Saini , , July 21, 2017 at 7:50 am

Lovely to find this here. Almost all the arguments have been rattling in my head for the past couple of years. Work of this sort is crucial for the next phase, so thanks! Something is in the air ..

MetalAnarchy17 , , July 21, 2017 at 7:57 am

Great article. As a first time commenter, I just want to thank you and everyone else for how far ranging and thought provoking of a Blog Naked Capitalism is.
The questions you posed are ones that I often have struggled with as a philosophically inclined leftist. As one who is as sympathetic to Anarchism as he his To Marx and his followers I have to ask, do you think Anarchist critiques of Marx (those of Bakunin and Kropotkin, for example) and Marxism are any more or less elucidating than the seemingly Liberalish ones you have mentioned (from what I've heard of Camus he was more of a liberal existentialist and not one that was ever exactly radical, but I've not read him yet so I could be very wrong). Also, do you feel that Rosa Luxembourg's critiques of Lenin were also apologetics for Marx, if not necessary the Bolshevik interpretation of Marx, or more than that.
As a side note, I also have to ask, Which students in the 60s thought the Soviet Union was the be all, end all. I always thought that the SDS and Situationist type groups were more Anarchist even if they sometimes thought they were Marxist.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 10:28 am

I agree that the anarchist critiques are worth discussing. I'm not particularly interested in liberal critiques per se , and to the extent that they get tangled up in their own mantras, they can become pretty frustrating. Aron and Furet are a bit different – both books were important historically, and both authors had read Marx very carefully. Aron was in some sense a "Marxian," and Furet at one point went to the trouble of compiling a book on everything Marx wrote about the French Revolution so people would stop reading stuff into him.

The advantage of looking at writers from far outside of the Marxist tradition is that you can sometimes find critiques that problematize features that more "inside" writers are unlikely to question. Of course, some of these critiques are more persuasive/original than others

On Rosa Luxemburg, it's true that she was pretty strongly Marxist. Her critique of Lenin, like Kautsky's, is useful in showing how Lenin's form of Marxism was fairly marginal within the intellectual Marxist world before the Russian Revolution provided Lenin with the mantle of apparent success.

When you say that many student leaders "were more anarchist even if they sometimes thought they were Marxist," I think you are onto something. However, in terms of professed beliefs, I know that the Italian students used Marxist language very heavily. Re SDS, I once met a former mid-level SDS leader who told me that when he expressed reservations about the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, he was systematically ostracized by the high-level SDS leadership. Many of those individuals wound up in the Weather Underground.

MetalAnarchy17 , , July 21, 2017 at 11:54 am

Thanks for the response. I am always looking for historically important books to further aid my own investigations of political ideologies, their origins and their evolutions and corruptions throughout time. I'll have to check Furet and Aron out to see what they have to say.
I didn't realize that Lenin was more on the outskirts of Marxism before the October revolution took place. I always thought the he had to have had a higher profile, even before the revolution. Human history seems to have a habit of pushing formally background characters to the forefront
I'd have never thought the SDS expelled people over Prague, but then again, I haven't looked that much into the SDS history and what their changing political lines were. I guess it isn't that surprising that the SDS had more Stalinist types in their ranks that were willing to excommunicate rivals. Most socialist movements had similar issues with Stalinists in the 60s and 70s.

Left in Wisconsin , , July 21, 2017 at 1:13 pm

Aron was in some sense a "Marxian"

That's interesting. IIRC, Mirowski classifies him as a Mont Pelerin neoliberal. I always found his politics hard to decipher.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 6:31 pm

He was antifascist, anti-colonialist, and (at least in the early 50s) Keynesian. On Aron and Marx, see here (in French, sorry, that section doesn't exist in the English version).

Although I know less about his later trajectory, it may however be true that he became much more of a neoliberal as time went on. This sort of thing happens for familiar reasons – people solidify in their positions and lose initial nuances under the pressure of rhetorical combat.

ejf , , July 21, 2017 at 10:50 am

Great to see another anarchist in the hood. And you bring up some great questions. To me, Bakunin never had the philosophical grip that Marx had on capitalism. Bakunin DID ride Marx and the Communist International on the meaning of the "dictatorship of the proletariat".
As for anarchists and the early Russian Revolution, have a look at "The Bolshevik Myth" by Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman's old bo.
Having been an old New Lefty of the 60's myself, everybody I knew of or read thought that the Soviet Union was OLD, antique, almost quaint. The same went for the Communist Party USA. Then again, the New Left never had an answer for why the Berlin Wall was around. Or why power freaks like Enver Hoxha of the People Republic of Albania were given the time of day. And don't get me going on how Che Guevara, before he went off to Bolivia, organized the Cuban state sugar farms with political prisoners' free labor.

MetalAnarchy17 , , July 21, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Thanks for chiming in.
I've been meaning to read Berkman for a while, and your recommendation sounds like a great place to start. I didn't know that about Guevara, but honestly, the idea that slave labor was used in the early days of the Cuban revolution sounds like an accurate description, as sad as that is.

I remember reading The Port Huron statement in an American Political Ideas I had recently. What you say about the New left consider the USSR quaint does remind me of the tone in that and other political statements from the 60s I have read.

I am also glad to know that there are other anarchists here at Naked Capitalism

Alejandro , , July 21, 2017 at 2:18 pm

". And don't get me going on how Che Guevara, before he went off to Bolivia, organized the Cuban state sugar farms with political prisoners' free labor."

I don't subscribe to the cultish veneration of any individual, past or present, nor its flip-side of obsessive demonization of any individual, past or present. However, in the spirit of this excellent post and thread about "The Minefield of Historical Communism", I would be very much interested in your adding context to this comment, e.g., their conditions pre-revolution, their conditions at the time of your claim, and the lessons learned, that may be of value to others. As far as legacy, they certainly don't seem to export as much sugar today, but they do seem to export a lot of doctors.

Watt4Bob , , July 21, 2017 at 8:39 am

A couple of quibbles;

What would one think of someone who tried to absolve the theorists of colonialism of any responsibility for, say, British misrule in India, on the grounds that these theorists said very clearly that they wanted to help the natives to become more civilized?

First, why does a discussion of British colonial misrule immediately turn to India, as opposed to Ireland?

I'd say it is because ' the theorists of colonialism ' is at best a euphemism for 'psychopathic cheer-leaders of barbarism and genocide', and of course the Indian people are more brown than the Irish.

There are no legitimate theories of colonialism, only rationalizations for what on it's face is barbarous behavior, in short propaganda propagated by the perpetrators, not legitimate 'theorists'.

Second;

Large numbers of intellectuals in France and Italy, and also elsewhere, as well as much of the leadership of the 60s student movements, were convinced that the USSR was a genuine incarnation of Left values. What does this imply about their powers of discernment?

This question seems to me to be part of the never-ending effort to de-legitimise all resistance to imperial capitalist barbarism by waving the Bloody-Shirt of Stalinism.

The way I remember it, the dynamism, and turmoil of the 1960's was not the result of naive, and misguided intellectuals and student leaders pushing a communist agenda, it was rather, a clear demonstration of the lengths to which the PTB will go to repress legitimate resistance to obviously barbarous imperialism abroad, and systemic racism everywhere.

Socialism does not equal Communism, does not equal Stalinism, but this is the most useful fallacy that the psychopathic cheer-leaders of barbarism and genocide have cooked up to thwart the efforts of those who would teach/preach Solidarity.

As I recall, it was very effective in the 60s, and we just witnessed its efficacy in stopping Bernie.

Lastly, and yes, this is much more than a 'quibble';

I find this baffling. It seems to suggest that left-leaning people continued to emotionally identify with the USSR well into the 80s, and to be imprisoned within the idea that it constituted a superior economic system.

I find it baffling that anybody takes this sort of bull*hit seriously.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 9:16 am

On Ireland versus India, I have no quarrel with anything you are saying. I would have been as happy to talk about Ireland as India.

When you say,

This question seems to me to be part of the never-ending effort to de-legitimise all resistance to imperial capitalist barbarism by waving the Bloody-Shirt of Stalinism.

you are engaging in a breathtaking misreading of the article. The whole point of the article is to open up ways to look radically beyond the existing system, without having to self-censor about what did and did not happen during Stalinism. I specifically reject the idea that the history of Stalinism implies that it is wrong to try to envision alternatives to capitalism.

When you say that the 1960s "was not the result of naive, and misguided intellectuals and student leaders pushing a communist agenda" you are blatantly straw-manning. I did not say that. I did say that many of the student leaders were willing to reflexively defend "really existing communism." If you doubt that this is true, read any history of the SDS leadership, don't just make peremptory statements about what you imagine the 60s "stood for."

When you claim that the article implies that "socialism equals communism," you are again responding to a thesis that it doesn't argue for, and in fact takes precisely the opposite thesis.

If you don't think that people in the PCI and PCF continued to consider the USSR a good economic model well into the 1980s, then why did those parties collapse with the Soviet Union? You can say words like bullshit all you want, but vehemence is a poor substitute for critical thinking. I've asked plenty of ex-members of those parties why they stopped believing in the possibility of radical economic change and if I get an answer, it's along the one I gave. But more often, the answer is just embarrassed silence.

Watt4Bob , , July 21, 2017 at 11:03 am

One has only to contrast this;

I've asked plenty of ex-members of those parties why they stopped believing in the possibility of radical economic change and if I get an answer, it's along the one I gave. But more often, the answer is just embarrassed silence.

With this;

Large numbers of intellectuals in France and Italy, and also elsewhere, as well as much of the leadership of the 60s student movements, were convinced that were convinced that the USSR was a genuine incarnation of Left values.

to understand that you're trying to sell the notion that those who have striven for radical economic change are folks who, in your words, "were convinced that the USSR was a genuine incarnation of Left values."

This is not the case.

The notion that the USSR was a legitimate incarnation of "Left values" was set to rest with the advent of Stalinism, that is, the embarrassed silence you speak of happened in the 1930s.

Because the tactic of associating progressive activists with the evil commies has been so successful thus far, the PTB will never stop using it.

IMHO, that's exactly what you're engaged in this morning.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 11:29 am

Your claims about my intentions are false. Nor do the quotes from me that you cite back up your claims in any way.

The statement that I made about certain intellectuals in France and Italy and (e.g.) many SDS leaders is a historical claim that can be verified or disputed. Is any hope of "striving for radical economic change" dependent upon never mentioning it? Is it helpful when "striving for radical economic change" to close oneself off from learning from the past?

Let's try something else. I'm going to respond by saying something that I think is far more plausible than what you are saying.

* * * * *

"Your attempt to force anyone who wants to strive towards a radically different economic system to tread very gently whenever saying anything critical of any society that has ever called itself communist is a tried and true tactic of the PTB. By blocking thoughtful self-reflection among people interested in living in a drastically different future, it cripples their intellectual resources when trying to imagine such a future. Simultaneously, it facilitates the PTB's efforts to discredit such efforts by making statements like "they won't even come to terms with how their efforts led to disaster in the past" appear reasonable.

Because the tactic of forcing progressive activists into ideological rigidity has been so successful thus far, TPTB will never stop using it.

IMHO, that's exactly what you're doing this morning."

Now, I don't actually believe that. IMHO, through various life experiences, you have acquired the idea that open discussions of historical communism are an attempt to subvert attempts to envision another future, and you are currently engaging in pattern-matching.

Watt4Bob , , July 21, 2017 at 12:26 pm

IMHO, through various life experiences, you have acquired the idea that open discussions of historical communism are an attempt to subvert attempts to envision another future, and you are currently engaging in pattern-matching.

I disagree.

What I am currently engaged in, is explaining that there is no logical need for any person who wants to work towards a radically different economic system, to first take on the responsibility of addressing the historical failures of soviet communism.

To my knowledge, the historical failures of communism are not seriously disputed, or ignored by anyone currently working for a better economic system in the USA.

I'm not refusing to face embarrassing facts, I'm disputing the relevance of the whole topic to current political discourse.

To insist that Bernie Sanders supporters, for instance, must, in order to be taken seriously, first engage in discussion that addresses the historical failures of communism is ridiculous.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 3:31 pm

I agree with portions of this sentiment and disagree with others.

I agree that people shouldn't be held hostage to particular forms of historical inquiry. People shouldn't be forced to "take responsibility" for a position on any topic they aren't ready to.

Bernie Sanders is not proposing a radically new economy. Reforms like the ones he's proposing have actually been tried out in Western European countries. If I were claiming that no one should be allowed to support Bernie without first taking responsibility for historical communism, that would be silly – but I didn't. Suggesting that I did comes dangerously close to further straw-manning of my position.

There's a difference between saying people should be obligated to talk about a certain topic and saying that they should be allowed to talk about it without being immediately blasted as an enemy agent.

When I read an experience like that of Rossanda's below, my reaction is not, "Ooh, those communists sure were evil, ha ha ha." It's that she seems like a person who was very intelligent, who genuinely wanted to change the world for the better, and still found herself fifty years later interrogating herself, wondering how much of her life work was misguided, and whether she bears responsibility for her role in providing some measure of support for a regime that is hard to excuse.

My reaction is, "That could be me. I don't want it to be me, but who's to say that I'm any more insightful or moral than she was?" I don't want to be in the position of having provided vocal support for a political program that makes the world worse, and if I were to do so, having done it for "good motives" would be cold comfort. I'm not saying that anyone else has to learn from her experience – there's only so much time in the world, and there's a lot of history that might provide valuable lessons, not just the 20th century. But personally, I'd like to learn from her experience, and not shy away from where it leads me.

Watt4Bob , , July 21, 2017 at 6:22 pm

I believe what I've been arguing is based in the American experience, which in this particular means being immersed in a politically naive population marinated in anti-communist propaganda.

I'm not sure a citizen of any European country can appreciate the degree to which our people have been trained to believe that the impulse to join together in solidarity for any purpose, is evidence of a soft intellect or moral depravity.

Even before the fall of the USSR, any discussion of a political nature approaching a topic that could be construed as being in favor of socialism in even the most limited context was apt to be met with a chorus of derisive abuse.

I believe an invitation to discuss the reality of historical communism, in the USA at least, is most often actually a thinly veiled invitation to shut the hell up, and it has been so for close to one hundred years.

This situation has become incredibly worse in the last couple decades, this is especially evident in the disquieting popularity of the 'ideas' championed in the writings of Ayn Rand.

I hope you'll excuse my misinterpreting your intent, and understand that I've never been honestly invited to consider historical communism, I've only been invited to consider keeping my socialist ideals to myself.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 6:38 pm

Thanks, watt4bob, I appreciate this.

I am familiar with some of the American dynamics you bring up. One of my hopes is that if critically thinking people can find spaces where they discuss these sorts of ideas without fear or favor, it will gradually make it possible to develop antidotes to the kind of discussion-choking maneuvers you mention.

Mel , , July 21, 2017 at 1:10 pm

There was a time in the 1970s when the popular comic Pilote wasn't just for kids, despite running Astérix and Achille Talon . Then Jacques Lauzier ran some grueling character studies (well, at least one, among other similar stories) of French ex-Communist intellectuals facing the consequences of just such attitudes as Outis has described. Interesting to look up, if you read French, or can find a translation.

Mel , , July 21, 2017 at 2:56 pm

Gérard Lauzier . Curse those moves those lost books.

Mel , , July 21, 2017 at 3:00 pm

That's Gérard Lauzier , actually

Ulysses , , July 21, 2017 at 8:58 am

The author's statement that "large numbers of intellectuals in France and Italy, and also elsewhere, as well as much of the leadership of the 60s student movements, were convinced that the USSR was a genuine incarnation of Left values." is more than a little disingenuous.

The many former sessantottini that I knew in Italy, SDS leaders, and other U.S. student radicals from the sixties were all very strong supporters of the Prague uprising against Soviet domination in 1968. This includes many who self-identified as Marxist!

Ulysses , , July 21, 2017 at 9:12 am

And of course, the author's statement appears even more of a smear when one remembers this historical reality:

"In 1969, Enrico Berlinguer, PCI deputy national secretary and later secretary general, took part in the international conference of the Communist parties in Moscow, where his delegation disagreed with the "official" political line, and refused to support the final report. Unexpectedly to his hosts, his speech challenged the Communist leadership in Moscow . He refused to "excommunicate" the Chinese communists, and directly told Leonid Brezhnev that the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact countries (which he called the "tragedy in Prague") had made clear the considerable differences within the Communist movement on fundamental questions such as national sovereignty, socialist democracy, and the freedom of culture. At the time the PCI was the largest Communist Party in a capitalist state, garnering 34.4% of the vote in the 1976 general election."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Communist_Party

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 9:41 am

I am much less monolithically critical of the PCI than you assume (see also my next post on this subject). It was much more independent of the Soviet Union than the French Communist party, and there was a lot of opposition to Prague.

I think it's probably true that at least for a while, the leadership of the PCI was more open to critical thinking about the historical role of the USSR than its broad membership was. Here is a string of excerpts from Rossanda's autobiography:

[On November 4, 1956, she woke up to tanks marching through the streets of Budapest.] This was the first time I said to myself – they hate us. Not the elites. The ordinary [Hungarian] people, the ones on our side, they hate us. [ ]
The poor and oppressed are not always in the right. But communists who are hated [by them] are always in the wrong. And this was a massive, sedimentary hatred, you don't get to this level [of hatred] without having suffered from felt oppression for a long time. In those days, all my hair turned white. Yes, it happens. [ ]
Was it therefore impossible to knock down the capitalist system, even a broken-down autocratic mess [like Russia], and build a socialist one without paying an inhuman price? [She now rehearses possible exculpatory arguments:] No, those were different times and circumstances, you have to take into account the backward circumstances in which Lenin was operating, the civil war, efforts that went nowhere, certain errors that weren't fixed, and so the skidding into authoritarianism. But even if you grant that at the beginning repression was necessary, why had it lasted so long? And even expanded? Was the dictatorship of the proletariat therefore a dictatorship like any other? No – it was not established on behalf of just a small number of people; yes – it treated human beings as tools. We debated means and ends, a debate that goes nowhere. Togliatti, writing in Nuovi Argomenti, and also Isaac Deutscher, had a different response: The repressive apparatus was an overgrowth, a massive fungus that had not infected the trunk – the revolution had been immature, things had been forced, the tree will be healed. But it had taken so long . And was it healthy even now?

Sorry, I need to take a break, will provide more of the text here later.

Ulysses , , July 21, 2017 at 10:38 am

"It was much more independent of the Soviet Union than the French Communist party,"

Something which no one would have guessed from your original post, in which you lump together French and Italian intellectuals as "convinced that the USSR was a genuine incarnation of Left values."

You were free to write as long and accurate a post as you felt like writing. You chide me for "assuming" that you are monolithically critical of the PCI. Am I supposed to be a mind reader? No one reading your post would have any reason to doubt that the PCI was unwaveringly Stalinist. It was not.

Now, in this backpedaling reply, you assert that the "broad membership" of the PCI was less open to critical thinking about the USSR than its leadership. On what evidence? I lived in Italy for several years in the eighties and early nineties. I met very few members of the PCI "leadership", but many hundreds of its "broad membership." Not a single one of these PCI voters was even a little bit supportive of the U.S.S.R.! I traveled from Genoa to Palermo, and all points in between.

Now who are you asking me to believe? You, or my lying eyes?

Ulysses , , July 21, 2017 at 11:06 am

Just in case anyone here is interested in the facts of the PCI demise, here is an important moment:

"Per decidere sulla proposta di Occhetto fu indetto un Congresso straordinario del Partito, il XIX, che si tenne a Bologna nel marzo del 1990. Tre furono le mozioni che si contrapposero:
la prima mozione, intitolata Dare vita alla fase costituente di una nuova formazione politica era quella di Occhetto, che proponeva la costruzione di una nuova formazione politica democratica, riformatrice ed aperta a componenti laiche e cattoliche, che superasse il centralismo democratico. Il 67% dei consensi ottenuti dalla mozione permise la rielezione di Occhetto alla carica di Segretario generale e la conferma della sua linea politica.
la seconda mozione, intitolata Per un vero rinnovamento del PCI e della sinistra fu sottoscritta da Ingrao e, tra gli altri, da Angius, Castellina, Chiarante e Tortorella. Il PCI, secondo i sostenitori di questa mozione, doveva si rinnovarsi, nella politica e nella organizzazione, ma senza smarrire se stesso. Questa mozione uscì sconfitta ottenendo il 30% dei consensi.
la terza mozione, intitolata Per una democrazia socialista in Europa fu presentata dal gruppo di Cossutta. Costruita su un impianto profondamente ortodosso ottenne solo il 3% dei consensi.
Il XX Congresso, tenutosi a Rimini nel febbraio del 1991, fu l'ultimo del PCI."

https://basileus88.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/correnti-interne-al-pci/

Do you notice that 3% figure at the bottom? Those would be the people that O.P. characterizes as the "broad membership" unwilling to criticize the U.S.S.R! Under what bizarre meaning of "broad" does something opposed by 97% of a given group make any sense?

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 2:01 pm

What does the quote say?

In 1991, the PCI voted to renounce "democratic centralism," i.e. the party being organized internally along Leninist grounds.

This shows that up until two years after 1989, the PCI was still nominally in favor of Leninism.

On the other hand, the major losing motion, with 30% of the vote, was that of Ingrao and others, was a vote for "the PCI to renew itself, politically and organizationally, while remaining faithful to itself."

In other words, a motion for the PCI to remain faithful to its postwar heritage lost by a crushing margin, 67-30.

If the broad membership of the PCI felt like the USSR was basically alien to their own political aspirations, why would the USSR's implosion have led to this sort of radical renunciation? Surely you don't think it was merely a coincidence that this motion passed in 1991 as opposed to, say, 1975 or 1985?

I'm open to other interpretations, but I don't see how the quote supports your argument.

Ulysses , , July 21, 2017 at 2:59 pm

I apologize for anything that was misconstrued as invective. You appeared to claim that the broad membership of the PCI was staunchly Stalinist up until 1991. Having lived in Italy during the late 1980s myself, I knew this claim to be false.

The reason the PCI collapsed after the fall of the U.S.S.R. (and not earlier) was best explained to me by a friend who was himself a Christian Democrat, with a Communist girlfriend. He argued that the triumphalism of western capitalists in the U.S. at the "fall of communism" after 1989 created an urgent need for "re-branding" for the people, like his girlfriend, who became the new Democratic Party of the Left.

In other words, after the only major country in the world to have been at least nominally anti-capitalist collapsed, Italian communists rightly feared that their attempts– to distance themselves from the particular horrors of Stalinism– would be forgotten amidst the crowing by people like Fukuyama over "The End of History."

My main objection to what you wrote, in your original post, was that it seemed to imply that most Italian communists were like the 3% who, even in 1991, were proud to be known as Stalinist.

There's actually a pretty good discussion of this whole issue here, where, as your Rossanda quotations might suggest, we see that the Stalinist orientation of the PCI was considerably weakened after 1956.

"E la religione politica del Pci? Quella d'élite? Stalinista, sì. Almeno fino al 1956, "anno indimenticabile" e nuovo inizio, costellato di sofferenze e ambiguità."

http://salvatoreloleggio.blogspot.com/2010/10/il-pci-fu-stalinista-di-bruno.html

"Insomma la "doppiezza veritiera" di Togliatti stava in questo: immaginare il socialismo radicalmente diverso dentro due ipotesi impossibili (tali almeno fino a Gorbaciov). L'ipotesi di una cooperazione distensiva tra i blocchi. E quella di una riformabilità della casa madre sovietica. Ma è nello spazio immaginario di quella ipotesi strategica "impossibile" che il Pci – in definitiva – intimamente stalinista non fu. Fu semmai pedagogico, storicista, elitario e altresì di massa. Capace di aprire malgrado tutto l'Italia della guerra fredda al mondo. Alla cultura internazionale. All'etica dei diritti sociali e civili che inseriva i ceti subalterni nello stato.
Strana giraffa il Pci. Esteriormente stalinista, interiormente no."

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 4:49 pm

The article you linked to is quite good, thanks for sending it.

Let's see if I understand the theory you propose. It seems to suggest that the people who genuinely believed in communism felt like they had to go underground for a while until their adversaries had spent their fury, so that they could resurface later intact.

I've contemplated ideas along these lines. I think it's noteworthy that your friend was a supporter of the DC – in fact, it's the kind of theory that anticommunists often hint at, because it implies that their adversaries have "not changed" and instead have become like "sleeper cells," normal on the outside but frightening inside.

But that doesn't necessarily make it false. In fact, if a whole group of people had decided to shield each other by not talking about anything that might make their enemies suspicious, then that would explain some of the behavior that I described in one of my other responses.

Still, I have a hard time entirely making sense of it. Back before 1956, the PCI really was fairly Stalinist in its official allegiances. The "horrors of Stalinism" were much closer then, and yet the PCI did not distance itself from them at the time despite plenty of people who were willing to cast them in its teeth.

Why was Fukuyama so much more terrifying than anti-communists of the 50s?

I'll respond to another point you bring up in a separate post when I get a chance.

Ulysses , , July 21, 2017 at 6:11 pm

"The "horrors of Stalinism" were much closer then, and yet the PCI did not distance itself from them at the time despite plenty of people who were willing to cast them in its teeth."

This is a very important point. My only information on why this was the case comes from people who were already fairly old by the 1980s. They witnessed the partigiani acting as the strongest actual resistance to the fascists– and they were reluctant to give credence to anything said against anything communist.

Only long after Mussolini's execution (yet still before the fall of Franco) were Italian communists open to seeing the events of 1956, 1968, etc. as revealing serious flaws in the Soviet system.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 6:19 pm

This certainly played a role. Consider, for example, a movie like Roma Città Aperta (1945), where communists, together with Catholics, are placed at the foundation of the new Italian identity, unified through the anti-Nazi struggle.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 1:51 pm

There is a lot of invective here, which I'm not interested in responding to.

There is, however, also some substance, which I think is worth discussing.

I don't have any particular stake in whether or not the PCI base was less skeptical of the USSR than the leadership. I'm curious about the question. Here's what evidence I have, pointing in various directions.

Let's start with the 50s. Rossanda herself didn't seriously question the USSR until 1956. In the incident with Ortese she mentions (possibly later, maybe in the 60s), she was clearly worried that Ortese's articles would lead PCI sympathizers to think negatively of the USSR. Since she herself didn't find Ortese's experiences implausible, that means that she wanted for the PCI base to think more positively of the USSR than she did. The fact that she isn't sure, in retrospect, whether she would have censored Ortese if she had had the power to do so, means that she considered maintaining this positive attitude on the part of the base to be quite important.

Moving a bit forward, according to Italian Wikipedia ,

The PCI remained faithful to the general political directives of the USSR up into the 70s and 80s, all the while developing over time an increasingly autonomous political line and full acceptance of democracy already starting at the end of Togliatti's secretaryship.

So it was complicated. I've read quite a few documents from student groups in 1968 on, and some did seem to me to leave the door open toward some sort of authoritarian political structure. I don't remember what the Red Brigades' official attitude on the USSR was, but their own political vision as per their comunicati , etc., was pretty reminiscent of Stalinism.

I don't doubt your personal experience in Italy. Here's mine (living there at various times in the 90s and 00s). I was honestly interested in the PCI experience, and I didn't take a particularly moralistic attitude toward it at all. I was hoping that Italians, given their history, would be more interested in thinking about the possibility of radically different economic systems than Americans were. I also hoped, given that I knew from having read Pasolini and others that the Italian Left had not been consistently some sort of caricature of communism, that there had been some room for criticism of the USSR, that they would not have overly identified with the fall of the Soviet Union and so would not have been unduly discouraged by its collapse.

What I found was pretty disappointing. A lot of people acted like the PCI had never existed. I talked to people who I knew had been strong supporters of the PCI back in the day (according to their friends and family), and they assumed that I could not possibly be asking about their experience in good faith. They tended to assume I was making fun of them, and for all intents and purposes acted like they were embarrassed about their communist past.

Nor could I find people interested in talking much about alternative economic systems. There were plenty of people eager to resist Berlusconi, but they were much more willing to make speeches on how he was historically unprecedented and violated all sorts of basic constitutional guarantees than to say much about radical alternatives. I would get frustrated and ask would-be left groups why they didn't talk about fundamental questions, why the sorts of discussions that had happened when the PCI was around didn't happen any more. I never got a straight answer besides, "Well, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, it all looked like an illusion." I would point out why this wasn't a sufficient argument. Shrug.

I honestly do not know what the reason was for all of this avoidance behavior. As I said in my post, the only reason I can think of is that at least on some level, many PCI members still saw the USSR as a flagship of communism. That would explain why they were so morally discouraged afterwards. But I would have thought that a lot of PCI members should have been able to see through that trap. So maybe the explanation is wrong.

But I don't know another. I would be thrilled to hear one.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 12:21 pm

Continuing from Rossanda:

Nothing stayed the same. Not even for those who insisted on seeing the secret report [of Khrushchev] as a tissue of lies – for them, the USSR was in the hands of a clique of traitors, led by Khrushchev. Others fell back on the thesis that, sure, Stalin had been a tyrant but he had been great, because the revolution had been great and its internal and external enemies great as well. What was this supposed to mean, evil but great? That much should be forgiven to greatness? That pain and horror are inevitable [byproducts]? I couldn't accept the esthetic of history. Then there were those like the French Communist Party who thought that, true or not, Khrushchev should have kept his mouth shut.

And Hungary and Poland and Czechoslovakia? There the excuse of backwardness wasn't applicable. The PCI stood fast within the trenches: yes, there had been mistakes, fault by communist governments, but the revolutions were themselves problematic, and [so] there was fault on their part, too. [ ] The PCI shifted about with a perpetual "It could have been worse" and "Let's avoid pushing things to the brink." [ ]

Leaving [the PCI] would have meant turning one's back not just on the USSR but on ourselves, and to resign ourselves to existing society. Or start over again, but very, very profoundly, abandoning this party, erase it, obliterate it – give the communists up as lost. But they weren't all nothing but Stalinism. And in any case, what had the dissident groups from the 20s on managed to accomplish? At most to leave a witness. [ ]

What the USSR had become gave me no peace, and I had difficulty finding a reasonable way to assess it. It had to be hard, even the tedious manual of the PCB didn't deny it, far from it. But why so many enemies? With the sector of society hostile to the revolution, the struggle had been cruelly resolved during the civil war. But afterward? Why so many arrested and shot among their own people? The hatred that communism had accumulated terrified me. The model of power that had made it possible to succeed had turned out to be a mortal trap. But then in what sense was it a model? Political liberalism implies social slavery and social liberalism implies political slavery? [ ]

It will soon be 50 years since that 1956 that forced me to look squarely at the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – a name I had loved – and I still don't find a full explanation. I refuse to give in to the oft-repeated idea that without the profit motive, there is no democracy. Our [democracy] is depressing. It is. But it doesn't finish you off with two bullets to the brain in a cellar. [ ] If I talk about this, even with my closest friends, I lower my voice, I apologize, I become annoying. We in the PCI at least didn't have bloody hands. Because we had not managed to take power? No, we were different. How different? And me, what was I like? I had not cracked down on anyone, I had always covered for people. At least I think so. You would have to ask those who worked with me, who had less power or rank than I did. I never humiliated anyone. Or did I? I had a lofty idea of what I did, therefore of myself, how to exclude that I had trampled others, without even noticing?

I remember one minor episode. Anna Maria Ortese, a reserved woman, always dressed in black, her hair held tightly in a black fillet over her pretty face, spent her days in silence at the House of Culture because she didn't have a real house of her own. In one of her first reports on the Soviet Union that a weekly magazine had asked her to write, she had spoken of immense poverty and loneliness, and it sounded like an unending accusation. It was Ortese, it was her empathy with the suffering of the wretched, but it exasperated me because I suspected it was true. I ripped into her: "Don't you understand the toil, the isolation of that country? Why don't you write also that everyone has a job, everyone can go to school, everyone has health care? And don't you see that it's under attack?" We saw each other every day, we had something of a relationship, she never asked anything of me – and I hurt her. The next day, she came to my house with a ridiculous bouquet of flowers and as I opened the door, I was unable to say a word. We hugged each other, crying. With tears in my eyes, I went to find some cognac to cheer her up, she was white as a sheet. We didn't say hardly anything to one another, and we left there arm in arm. I haven't forgotten that moment. If I had had the power to repress her articles, would I have done so? Maybe I would have. I don't know. And what would I have done when faced with more serious choices?

[ ] It does not comfort me that the Black Books have manipulated numbers, that with the archives open, the number of political trials comes out to less than five million, the number shot less than a million. "Only" five million?!

Moneta , , July 21, 2017 at 9:03 am

One can't look at these philosophies without accounting for the productive capacities of the land.

Monarchs of the last couple of centuries were essentially trying to one-up each other and planning marriages according to needed and desired resources.

One can imagine that the limits were not the same in France, England and Russia.

French Monarchs were obviously in the best position resource speaking. France was one great piece of land. Russian monarchs probably had to squeeze its population way more than French royalty to maintain the same quality of life. It's no surprise that the UK ended up colonizing. How could it compete on an overpopulated island?

At the beginning of the early 1900s, Germany was hitting productive limits vs. the size of its population without the exploitative capacities of the UK or France propped up be their own colonies.

Communism would be easier to implement in a closed economy . hard to see this happening in countries that depend on imports or with colonies to exploit.

Russia was in a good position to try it enough resources to be autarkic and a population used to poor
and harsh conditions where materialism would not be receding if trying it out.

While I enjoy reading about economic and political philosophies, I find it annoying how most of the time these never account for the physical limitations that drive countries into specific directions.

Most of humanity has always been blind to 3 things:
– the planet's physical limits
– its own technological limitations in exploiting the planet's bounty at each epoch
– the problem of redistribution when a system hits a wall.

And none of the philosophies seem to address all three.

Susan the other , , July 21, 2017 at 12:21 pm

agree. ' Spring cleaning' is my favorite change metaphor. It's more benign than 'rat-killing'. But the point is always a practical one. We get rid of stuff that no longer works. That's the first step. So why won't vested interests and ideologues see the logic? Or more accurately, why are they so slow? If we do not change it is gonna go from farce to tragedy pretty fast this time.

craazyman , , July 21, 2017 at 7:36 pm

If I recall correctly your background you're far too intelligent to believe that stuff!! C'mon now. Physical limits???? In Russia??? Russia is yyyuuuuge.

Maybe this is an artifact of your MIT eduction in reductive materialism. :-)

Newton and Leibniz were very very smart guys. Engineering is pretty cool! I would not argue with things like computers and TVs and Youtube. I couldn't watch Adele and Bruce Springsteen on Youtube if it wasn't for engineers. I'm just being honest. I won't criticize engineers. But they are mostly boneheads. Hahahaha.

I'm not sure reading all these political crackpots is useful either. There's a point where things are obvious just by direct observation. I understand the impluse to expand one's mind and it's not at all obvious how to do that. The strangest thing of all though is that all this supposed erudition reduces itself to things that are completely obvious simply from solitary contemplation. Of course engineering is not that way at all.

DJG , , July 21, 2017 at 9:22 am

First, I agree with Ulysses that lumping French and Italian intellectuals together with regard to acceptance of the Soviet Union as an emanation of leftist values is dubious. Look at the differences between the traditional French Communist Party, which was more or less Stalinist, and the Italian Communist Party, which was animated by Gramsci and Berlinguer, two highly skeptical Sardinians. And that's for starters.

I recommend reading Gramsci: I am currently reading his letters from prison. He had a very broad view of politics, events, and culture. As a newspaper editor, he also wrote tremendous numbers of articles, including theatrical criticism (and he was a pretty good theater critic), all worth reading.

I note that Outis mentions Rossana Rossanda above, and I suspect that she has some skepticism about exercise of power, too.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 10:01 am

I agree with you that the French and Italian communist party experiences are extremely different. The purpose of this article was not to get too much into the details, but my subsequent post on this subject is all about the Italian situation, which is in my opinion fascinating.

Your explanation of why the PCI was different from the PCF leaves me a little unconvinced. Gramsci probably played a role, more in terms of the pattern of wide-ranging critical thought seen in the Quaderni del carcere (which I agree are well worth reading) than in anything particularly groundbreaking he did as a leader before the fascists imprisoned him. Berlinguer was a very significant figure, but I think the fact of the the PCI being less hermetically closed than the PCF predates his leadership by a couple decades.

On Rossanda's skepticism about the exercise of power, yes, that's right. I haven't finished yet, but in the next part of the excerpt quoted in my reply to Ulysses she will express sentiments along those lines.

Ulysses , , July 21, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Thanks for the interesting passages from Rossanda. I do sincerely hope that you will find the time to also respond to the questions raised in my two comments currently under moderation.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 12:24 pm

I will – I haven't eaten anything all day, though, so thanks for being patient.

DJG , , July 21, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Outis: I eagerly await your next posting.

Some cultural differences between Italy and France that may have affected how communism evolved:
–France has strong centralizing tendencies. Until recently, Paris dominated thoroughly. Italy is indeed a federal republic, with strong decentralizing tendencies. As a friend from Piedmont said, Every village speaks its own form of the Piedmontese language. In France, the communist party seems to have wanted Stalinist centralization.
–In France, the state created lay society (the secular state). In Italy, secular society, arguably, was created by the communists. (Although the Savoys (weirdly) and the Republic of Venice also created secular states, I suppose. But they did not dominate as thoroughly as the French Republic and its message of laicité does.)
–Italian Catholicism is rather mystical and oddly unpuritanical. French Catholicism is much more rigid.
–Because the arts in Italy tend to be somewhat more democratic, communist artists existed / exist. Pasolini. Nanni Moretti. It's a long way from Jean-Paul Sartre to Nanni Moretti.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 12:49 pm

These are all great points. Yes, it's a long way from Sartre to Pasolini as well.

On Italian versus French Catholicism, I hadn't thought of this. But it also makes a great deal of sense in terms of the particular history of French Catholicism under the FR, with the clerical oath.

Michael M , , July 21, 2017 at 11:12 am

I agree with this line of thought. What's always bothered me by previous discussions of "communism" have been 1) the absence of the roots of communism, ( ie hunter gatherer societies, and the teachings of the Buddha and Christ), and 2) the cultural and tribal influences of each group attempting this quest.

To the first point, it seems to me that various religious groups within the United States have attempted their version of communism with varying degrees of success, from 1800s farming communities to self proclaimed demagogues of the Jim Jones variety. I think the notion of the battle between humanistic traits of altruism vs narcissism are instrumental in understanding the roots of the success of each group.

From my little understanding of China and Russia, both have historically had autocratic cultures for multiple reasons, so an autocratic form of top down society would be a natural progression from the then status quo.

Regarding the "Horrors of Communism" I am reminded of the types of regimes that were overthrown in the cases of the China and Russia, and how the degree of external threat to the fledgling attempts may have influenced their courses. Interesting current examples include the continually externally besieged and totalitarian regime of North Korea, as opposed to the "Communist" regime of North Vietnam. I can only wonder what will result in the United States should our Lords and Masters decide to use all means necessary to quell a popular uprising, but then the current control of the media is proving quite successful.

In any case from my perspective the more democratic and successful attempts at economic equality have been exemplified in smaller homogeneous tribal societies such various Nordic countries. My observation of history tells me that the larger the entity one tries to democratically control, the more likelihood of corruption by narcissistic players irrespective of the type of governmental system proposed.

Mattman , , July 21, 2017 at 9:24 am

Q: Are the problems of historical communism explainable in terms of the opposition that communism experienced from reactionaries?

No, but many of them ARE explained by the opposition–wars, bombings, sabotage, etc.–of international capitalism to almost every socialist experiment that has arisen, 1917-Venezuela. We'll never know about what kind of success they would have experienced in a petri dish, but we do know that when you have to devote much of your economy to building arms to defend yourself–live on the defensive–that can distort your project, distort your vision, distort your economy, make you paranoid–hey–end up making you murderous and worse. And (no small thing) that improving the lot of the great mass of people can be very handy for capitalism once you have finished the heavy lifting.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 9:49 am

See Rossana Rossanda's take on this argument below.

I actually take Venezuela's experience as supporting the point that there was historical contingency involved and therefore Stalinism was not simply historically necessary. Venezuela was geopolitically weaker than Russia and Chavez faced substantial opposition from very well-organized forces and foreign-supported forces. And still, it's completely clear that whatever else you think of Chavez and his legacy, he did not institute the sort of repression that some people claim is inseparable with communism. He came very close to losing power in 2002 (if I remember correctly, the US had even already started to recognize the coup directors as legitimate), but he held on.

edr , , July 21, 2017 at 9:28 am

"From the standpoint of living standards the Soviet Union were improvements over Imperial Russia."

This is a point I can agree with in reference to Russia. Communism served as a way to quickly sever the serf system that had partially survived in Russia into the 20th century.

However, the central planning aspect of communism is its great problem. It centralizes absolute power in a small group; the guy who said "absolute power corrupts absolutely" seems to have been absolutely correct. In Cuba, if you decided you wanted to sell sandwiches to your friends to make a little extra, that was prohibited and you would be been arrested and jailed – heard they're starting to allow some of that recently. I've heard the Russian system wasn't quite as extreme in those economic cases, don't know, although it was worse in its repressive excesses. Even the Pharaohs of Egypt didn't try to stop the bread makers and fisherman from making some extra income so their families could have socks – only Marx managed to develop a worse system. Also, communism didn't work anywhere; the experiment failed everywhere.

There is no difference between everybody working for the government and everybody working for Walmart/Amazon. .. the same dynamic is at work. Limiting government power and reach, and limiting Corporate power and reach is the only antidote to repression.

skk , , July 21, 2017 at 10:00 am

There is no difference between everybody working for the government and everybody working for Walmart/Amazon. .. the same dynamic is at work.

Well said.

Moneta , , July 21, 2017 at 10:02 am

It all depends on how you define failure. We can easily say that capitalism is failing millions in the US and billions on this planet.

Life is a cycle and maybe no system can last over the long term.

kj1313 , , July 21, 2017 at 9:33 am

Thanks for this as someone who started out as a Dem Socialist but now am becoming more open to further left positions. I agree with some of the basic philosophies of the hard left even "tankies" but I hate when they gloss over atrocities committed.

Scylla , , July 21, 2017 at 9:42 am

The way I see it, there is plenty of criticism of Stalin from the left. I think the idea that leftists refuse to criticize Stalin is a bit of a trope. However, I think it is correct to point to the lack of good information on Stalinist USSR. It is hard to logically critique something when you are drowning in propaganda and disinformation. All that being said, if the left has one flaw regarding Marxist theory and communism, it is that they often fail to apply Marxist theory TO communism (this is less of a problem among anarchists, of course).
One of the big (maybe biggest) takeaways of Marx is that class war is eternal, and that class war exists in all systems, including communism. I have been reading Marx in fits and starts for 20 years, and although I have never read any specific statement on class war in communist type societies, I have no doubt that Marx would agree. Lenin/Stalin were simply the leaders of the elite class in the Soviet Union, and like other members of the elite class, they worked to increase or cement their power at the expense of the lower classes. Class war is eternal and universal.

As far as the fall of the Soviet Union, my view is that there were many complex drivers, however the biggest one was the fundamental difference between the Soviet and American Empires. The Soviet core (Russia, basically) exploited its own resources and subsidized it's subordinate nations (such as Eastern Europe and Cuba), which weakened the Soviet Empire over time economically. The US Empire (I include western Europe as part of the core here) did the opposite, exploiting the resources of the subordinate nations on it's periphery (think Africa and South America), subsidizing and enriching itself. Of course this isn't absolute, since the US had some anomalies such as the Marshal Plan, and the Soviets did have some populations they exploited such as those in the "stan" republics, but I think it explains a lot.

AC , , July 21, 2017 at 9:51 am

Just a few quick points on some of the issues raised by the article.

All economies are planned, just depends on WHO they are designed to benefit. In the US, the DOD and associated entities are the clearest example of government directing economic resources to certain ends. Those ends happen to be the lining the pockets of well connected grifters, but its still a "planned economy".

The thing that always struck me about people who believe(d) in Communism is that it's just another form of religion. The idea of History as having end its working towards is Christian or Jewish millenarianism recast in terms of political economy. The historical determinism of Marxism is totally laughable in the face of the randomness and capriciousness of human existence.

Stalinism and Maoism replaced one set of elites with another, neither of which cared one bit about the impact their grand schemes had on the people they ruled. But at the same time the millions they murdered says more about the dangers of unquestioned top down control in any system rather than the faults of one -ism over another.

Moneta , , July 21, 2017 at 10:44 am

The capitalist system has killed millions. It's just harder to pin the mass murder on one person. The dirty jobs just get passed on along the global trade chain.

One could easily argue that many countries have been forced into bad implementations of communism because of the stronghold of existing capitalist empires on resources.

If the capitalist developed countries had been less exploitative, perhaps a gentler form of communism could have emerged.

It all starts with the distribution of resources.

skk , , July 21, 2017 at 9:55 am

Nice.

I find the stuff Marx did in the "understand the world" dept – specifically the "labour theory of value" immensely valuable and is, like Newton's work, outside of history. The equation for profit i.e. s/(s+v) all functions of time, and that it tends to zero as time tends to infinity is for the ages. And since profit is the prime motive for production in capitalism, then

His stuff on (the point is) "to change the world" ? – i.e. class struggle – is definitely best understood as history, as in history of ideologies, best to be understood as something coming from a man of his times – one can distill stuff from it to apply it to our own time but only like, say, Julius Caesar's use of chance – " the die is cast " come "Lights, Camera, Action" time.

Why did that part or not so much the "labour theory of value" part catch the imagination of the rebellious of my gen of the 60s, 70s ? That too reflects that we were partly creatures of our times.

Great to see you explore this stuff. Thanks.

Richard Barbrook , , July 21, 2017 at 10:12 am

Ante Ciliga was a Croatian communist who wrote 'The Russian Enigma' which is a smart and evocative account of his experiences there during the 1920s and 1930s.

His political conclusions are best summarised in the French title of his book: 'Au Pays du Grand Mensonge' i.e. In the Land of the Great Lie!

Here's one of its chapters:
https://www.marxists.org/archive/ciliga/1940/russian-enigma/ch09.htm

PKMKII , , July 21, 2017 at 10:24 am

If there's going to be an honest critique of "historical communism," then first we need to be honest in identifying what it is we're talking about, which in this case is really Marxist-Leninism (Stalinism just being the same but with more gulag). There's two ways of looking at M-L's record, which is, what was it's real world impact, pro and con? And, did it achieve what it set out to do? On the former, there's many well-worn arguments trotted out: rapid industrialization, extreme poverty prevention, but also the atrocities, limited civil rights, etc.The typical leftist apologia seems to hinge on pointing out the blood on the hands of capitalism, which is both valid and not. Yes, it's important to criticize the right on its tendency to either outright deny the death caused by capitalism or to ideological explain it away as the fault of something else, and to make people aware that death by capitalism usually comes in more subtle forms, but that doesn't magically make what Stalin, Mao, etc. did okay.

However, more important on the practical level is that the trend for the M-L has been in the long haul to shift towards market economies. The USSR was making motions towards this right before the sudden liberalization of their economy. China has shifted from state capitalism to state-managed capitalism, Vietnam has allowed for more market-based co-ops and small business, Cuba has set up limited markets. So M-L works for the rapid expansion period, but once that singular drive and goal gives way, the central planning needs to acquiesce to market economies.

What really should give the left the cause to abandon M-L to the historical dustbin, is on the second question. M-L gets us war communism and state capitalism, but it has failed in all cases to transition to the final stage of true communism. Give a small group of politicos absolute control over the economy while still collecting that capitalist cut off the top, of course they're not going to hand that over to the workers. It doesn't achieve its goal of workers controlling the means of production, so if the left wants that, then they need to follow the lead of the Kurds and look elsewhere.

barefoot charley , , July 21, 2017 at 10:30 am

A thoughtful friend in the 70s called Marx "a historian of the future." He created a vision, a ramp, a consolidation of dreams and efforts that converged possibilities toward realities. Like most Enlightenment/Romantic religious movements, this vision was cast as science, not faith (as, to be fair, was the book of Genesis). His aim was for something more than sociology or political science, and I think he should be both defended and criticized on those broader grounds. The ultimate question isn't whether he was right or wrong, but whether and how he moved human possibilities forward.

makedoanmend , , July 21, 2017 at 10:33 am

Leaving aside the rich and varied strands of socialism that have occurred and been acted upon (cooperatives, syndicalism, democratic socialism, or even the thoughts of Veblen) that don't involve Marx or communism, I have more than a quibble with the entire methodology employed.

It is acknowledged that the history and uniqueness of communism, let alone socialism, are not easily compressed into small tales to be stored and later related to explain very complex historical processes.

So a neat Alexandrian solution is found to cut through the numerous Gordian knots of distinct historical events and the specific people who acted upon circumstance and reacted to historical circumstance.

We are provided with "the sword" of our supposed common knowledge of human nature to explore and answer the various strands of socialist thought and action. Hell, we can ask simple questions and come up with a monosyllabic answer.

However,

1. Do we really know that much about "human nature" and especially about how human nature reacts during specific historical events of which we most of us do not have experience?

2. Is human nature always the same throughout history? How much do material circumstances of any given historical period "colour" our perception of human nature? Or is our view of human nature dictated by our material circumstances, including the political and social spheres which often cloud our view given an ongoing process of unique historical circumstances?

3. Can an approach which relies solely upon insights of human nature explain complex phenomena just because humans where involved in the phenomena? Does the conjecture of human nature provide a omniscient viewpoint?

I would suggest that socialism, like capitalism, isn't quite so easy to pigeon hole via an all encompassing theory of human nature.

I really don't have any quibbles with the article itself or of the conclusions drawn by the author. As I am not a communist , I really don't have fish to fry. Since I am nothing more more than a student of politics, I can both appreciate and critique Marx in equal measure.

I don't see socialism as an alternative to capitalism but as a manner in which I wish to strive for in my life. It's just that capitalism, especially as it is currently practised, has been planned and is being planned in such a manner that seems to ensure that the individuals and groups of individuals are being limited in the scope of their responses to life's circumstances.

Just because capitalism doesn't mostly involve central planning, as in the Soviet Unions, doesn't mean the economy/society isn't being planned with consequences that have impacts centrally upon all our lives.

And I suspect the plans aren't being planned in my interests or in the interests of most of humanity, and certainly not in the interest of many creatures and flora of which we share this plant.

Unlike Marx, I can't buy the dialectic of historical determinism, nor am I willing to be curtailed by an other imperative determinisms – such as human nature must follow upon predetermined train tracks leading in one inexorable direction.

And as always with NC, thanks for bringing these subjects into a public domain. Upon such stuff might common grounds be found.

PKMKII , , July 21, 2017 at 11:03 am

There's also the issue of whether or not "Human Nature" should be considered a singular or a plural. It's neat and convenient to think of humans as all sharing one set of underlying "code," with the differences merely being ornamentation thrown on by circumstance, but there's been a change of thinking in psychology that we really have multiple natures within the species (e.g., we are not a monolithically monogamous nor a polygamous species, but rather contain both monogamous and polygamous individual). So some people's nature is in line with capitalism, others within socialism, others with fascism, etc. Which would explain why some Russians adapted easily to neoliberal capitalism and others descended into alcoholism.

Left in Wisconsin , , July 21, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Probably even multiple natures within the individual. Plus nurture(s).

makedoanmend , , July 21, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Thanks.

I hadn't even considered this idea at all. And as a general explanation of the nature of "human nature", it's well worth exploring. Might explain much about our species.

Ta again

Alejandro , , July 21, 2017 at 5:34 pm

I may be mis-reading but this seems like pseudo-science with a taxonomy obsession with slovenly implied spillovers into id-politics as pigeonhole fetish no need to engage, just label and tuck away. " [N]eat and convenient" for the pigeonholer, but much less so for the pigeonho[led], who consequently AND inconsequentially can be easily ignored, and eventually extinguished with alcohol {either-or} opioids.

Tony Wikrent , , July 21, 2017 at 10:47 am

Michael Hudson has pointed ou t that Marxism and the classical economics of Smith/Malthus/Ricardo are but two of three schools of political economy which developed in the 18th through 19th centuries. There was a third school which congealed as first USA Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton explicitly rejected Smith and went about the task of building a new republic. It became called the American System or American School after a speech by Henry Clay in February 1832 .

Leave ideology aside and ask a plainly pragmatic and utilitarian question: which of the three schools of political economy–British, Marxist, or American–was most successful in creating a functioning national economy with a large degree of general prosperity and political freedom?

The clear answer is the American School. The major proponents of the American School were Henry C. Carey (who advised Abraham Lincoln, so get transcontinental railroads and telegraph and the USDA at the same time the Union is fighting the Confederacy), Friedrich List (who leads the unification of Germany), and E. Peshine Smith (whose ideas guide the industrialization of Japan). Why do we never hear of these economists and their American School of political economy?

In December 1993, James Fallows rattled the economics profession with an article in The Atlantic, How the World Works :

The more I had heard about List in the preceding five years, from economists in Seoul and Osaka and Tokyo, the more I had wondered why I had virtually never heard of him while studying economics in England and the United States.

Fallows goes on to describe the historical importance, not of British opium-trade apologist Adam Smith, but of the American School, in guiding the early industrial development of Tokugawa Japan, late imperial China, czarist Russia, Germany, South Korea, and other countries.

In a nutshell, the American School is the only body of economic thought which has actually resulted in national industrial development along with a large degree of general prosperity and political freedom. A partial exception is Marx, but, as Lawrence Goodwyn, the late historian of the American agrarian revolt and populist movement of the late 1800s, pointed out, no system of Marxism has been implemented without the coercive power of a red army behind it.

Here is a quote from the Dominican priest who served as chaplain to the French Resistance during World War Two:

What Carey could not forgive in the English school of political economy, which after all must historically be called the capitalist school, and what he particularly could not forgive in Ricardo and Malthus, whom Marx so profoundly respected, was that they assigned to civilization the role of pursuing not happiness but wealth and power; that they debased man by directing him toward an aim that was beneath him, since power and physical satisfaction are also the aim of the beast; that they forgot to take man and man's nature into consideration when they established their so-called laws which reduced him to the level of the beast.

The link above includes two excerpts from Carey himself that I think very concisely condemns the market fundamentalism of modern economic neoliberalism and conservatism:

Such is the course of modern political economy, which not only does not "feel the breath of the spirit" but even ignores the existence of the spirit itself, and is therefore found defining what it is pleased to call the natural rate of wages, as being "that price which is necessary to enable the laborers, one with another, to subsist and perpetuate their race without either increase or diminution" (Ricardo)!that is to say, such price as will enable some to grow rich and increase their race, while others perish of hunger, thirst, and exposure. Such are the teachings of a system that has fairly earned the title of the "dismal science."

And,

Such being the tendency of all its teachings, it is no matter of surprise that modern English political economy sees in man only an animal that will procreate, that must be fed, and that can be made to work [Carey's emphasis]!an instrument to be used by trade; that it repudiates all the distinctive qualities of man, and limits itself to the consideration of those he holds in common with the beast of burden or of prey; that it denies that the Creator meant that every man should find a place at His table, or that there exists any reason why a poor laborer, able and willing to work, should have any more right to be fed than the cotton-spinner has to find a market for his cloth; or that it assures its students that "labor is a commodity."

Why do we never hear of Carey and the American School? Why does it appear the only left alternative to laissez faire capitalism is Marx? The answer is: Carey and the American School have been written out of economic history, Here are the results of of some time spent in the stacks of the library at the University of North Carolina looking through the indexes of introductory economics textbooks. These are the number of pages on which there citations (for example, a citation in the index of pp. 145-147, is counted as three pages, not one) of Henry Carey, Alexander Hamilton, Friedrich List, Thorstein Veblen (American School); Milton Friedman, David Ricardo, Adam Smith (British school), and Karl Marx.

Joan Robinson and John Eatwell, An Introduction to Modern Economics (McGraw Hill, 1973)
Carey 0
Hamilton 0
Veblen 3
List 1
Friedman 1
Ricardo 18
Smith 20
Marx 28

Lloyd C. Atkinson, Economics: The Science of Choice (Richard D. Irwin, 1982)
Carey 0
Hamilton 0
Veblen 0
List 0
Friedman 4
Ricardo 0
Smith 3
Marx 0

Allen W. Smith, Understanding Economics (Random House, 1986)
Carey 0
Hamilton 0
Veblen 0
List 0
Friedman 1
Ricardo 0
Smith 4
Marx 3

Roger N. Waud, Economics, 3rd Edition (Harper and Row, 1986)
Carey 0
Hamilton 0
Veblen 0
List 0
Friedman 9
Ricardo 6
Smith 5
Marx 7

Bradley R. Schiller, The Economy Today, 4th Edition (Random House, 1989)
Carey 0
Hamilton 0
Veblen 0
List 0
Friedman 6
Ricardo 3
Smith 3
Marx 6

William J. Baumol and Alan S. Blinder, Economics: Principles and Policy, 5th Edition (Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, 1991)
Carey 0
Hamilton 0
Veblen 0
List 0
Friedman 5
Ricardo 5
Smith 13
Marx 7

Paul A. Samuelson and William D. Nordhaus, Economics (McGraw Hill, 1995)
Carey 0
Hamilton 4
Veblen 0
List 0
Friedman 5
Ricardo 2
Smith 8
Marx 2 (plus 2 on "Marxism")

Robert J. Barro, Macroeconomics (MIT Press, 1997)
Carey 0
Hamilton 0
List 0
Veblen 0
Friedman 9
Ricardo 0
Smith 0
Marx 0

Julian L. Simon, Economics Against the Grain, Volume 2 (Edward Elgar, 1998)
Carey 0
Hamilton 1
Veblen 0
List 0
Friedman 5
Ricardo 3
Smith 11
Marx 1

Frank Stilwell, Political Economy: The Contest of Economic Ideas (Oxford University Press, 2006)
Carey 0
Hamilton 0
Veblen 11
List 1
Friedman 9
Ricardo 12
Smith 16
Marx 19

N. Gregory Mankiw, Principles of Economics, Instructor's Edition, Sixth Edition (Southwestern, 2012)
Carey 0
Hamilton 0
Veblen 0
List 0
Friedman 9
Ricardo 1
Smith 9
Marx 0

PKMKII , , July 21, 2017 at 11:13 am

In a nutshell, the American School is the only body of economic thought which has actually resulted in national industrial development along with a large degree of general prosperity and political freedom.

If we're talking about the economics of America as set up in the late 18th and 19th centuries, wouldn't we be talking about economics that include and assume the existence of slavery, and later Jim Crow laws? That doesn't strike me as being politically free.

Tony Wikrent , , July 21, 2017 at 7:45 pm

You raise a very important question; important, because it forces us to deal with the fact that human history is quite messy. When a nation of 50 million people acts, does it act in accord with the wishes and intent of all 50 people? Of course not. Look at the American Civil War, and the men who fought on the Union side. Where they all of like mind in willing to risk their limbs and lives in way because they all shared a desire and intent to destroy slavery? No. Most actually fought to preserve the Union, though there were many who fought motivated by abolitionism. Many more served because of social pressure in their towns or locales, or simply because the accompanied family members or neighborhood fronts into the army.

It is easy to be confused by American history, because at the same time that the American System was being built and practiced, the British system was competing with it for control of the domestic economy and polity. To the extent that people today mistakenly believe that the American economy was founded on the ideas of Adam Smith (it most emphatically was not: Hamilton explicitly rejected the ideas of Smith ) the British system is winning. Michael Hudson has written at least two excellent overviews of this fight within the USA between the American and British systems:

Hudson, America's Protectionist Takeoff 1815-1914: The Neglected American School of Political Economy , ISLET, 2010, which I quote extensively in HAWB 1791 – Alexander Hamilton rejected Adam Smith. Also by Hudson: Simon Patten on Public Infrastructure and Economic Rent Capture . Another very useful book which examines the contest between the American and British schools is James L. Huston, Securing the Fruits of Labor: The American Concept of Wealth Distribution, 1765-1900 , Louisiana State University Press, 1998.

A similar contest rages in USA today (and around most of the world, for that matter). There are proponents of conservatism, mostly classical British laissez faire economics. There are proponents of libertarianism, the even more extreme Austrian school of economics (and there is a recent book out, which I have not acquired yet, Nancy MacLean's new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America , on James Buchanan and "public choice theory). There are proponents of neoliberalism (it is interesting to peruse this, Everyone Hates Neoliberals, So We Talked to Some , and note the astonishing lack of historical knowledge, and the complete absence of any notion of republicanism or Enlightenment political ideals). There are proponents of Marxism. Most readers of NC will probably agree that conservatism and neoliberalism are practically indistinguishable in the realm of economic policies, and have been the dominant school in our lifetimes. Conservatives and libertarians argue vehemently that the dominant school has been liberalism and Keynesianism, which they disparage as "statism." There are proponents of other economic schools as well, probably some I do not know, and perhaps even some that don't even have names yet. Out of this stew of contending interests and beliefs, how do you pick out one coherent set of ideas and attribute to it the policy direction of USA for the past half century?

In answer to your question: The simplified version of USA economic history at the period you point to is that the British system was dominant in the slave South, and fought for free trade in opposition to the American System's protective tariffs, which dominated the North.

Katsue , , July 21, 2017 at 12:39 pm

If William Hogeland's analysis in The Whiskey Rebellion is correct, one of Alexander Hamilton's major policy innovations was a deliberate exercise in rigging the economy in favour of the 1% of his day.

In his reading, Hamilton pushed for the Federal Government to assume the debts of the States in order to guarantee that bondholding speculators got paid, and to allow for the creation of a Federal tax system. The tax in question, the whiskey excise, was deliberately set up in order to drive small producers out of business and to bring the whiskey market under the control of large producers in the cities. The whole thing was a massive transfer of wealth from western farmers to Wall Street.

Tony Wikrent , , July 21, 2017 at 6:28 pm

I disagree with Hogeland completely and vehemently. He appears to have made no attempt whatsoever to understand republicanism and its place in the Enlightenment, and his understanding of political economy and matters of national and international finance are laughably facile.

Hogeland also completely ignores the crucial contribution Hamilton made in developing the constitutional theory of implied powers. As Supreme Court Justices John Marshall and Joseph Story noted, the opposing theory of enumerated powers -- which conservatives and libertarians are promoting today -- would cripple the national government.

What Hamilton actually accomplished financially, was to free the infant United States from a complete dependence on borrowing from European oligarchs, by creating a domestic system open to the much smaller fortunes of American bankers and merchants. It boggles my mind that anyone can not see or ignores this obvious historical fact.

I cannot account for the malice Hogeland and others on the left, such as Matt Stoller, bear toward Hamilton; though it is obvious to me why certain concentrations of economic wealth revile Hamilton: they have become increasingly powerful as the USA abandoned Hamiltonian political economy (such as a protective tariff) and deindustrialized and financialized. Destroy Hamitonian political economy, and the USA is destroyed from within by increasingly concentrated economic power. The left is shooting itself in the head by failing to understand Hamilton.

Tony Wikrent , , July 21, 2017 at 6:48 pm

In regards to the Whiskey Tax: I think it cannot be truly understood without the historical context of the idea of that time of a sumptuary tax. Classical republican ideology has always held that luxury was the vanguard of rot and corruption in a state. In fact, during the Constitutional Convention, it was argued that one reason a new, stronger national government was needed was so that sumptuary taxes could be imposed over the opposition of individual states.

The general view, discernible in contemporaneous literature, was that the responsibility of government should involve enough surveillance over the enterprise system to ensure the social usefulness of all economic activity. It is quite proper, said Bordley, for individuals to "choose for themselves" how they will apply their labor and their intelligence in production. But it does not follow from this that "legislators and men of influence" are freed from all responsibility for giving direction to the course of national economic development. They must, for instance, discountenance the production of unnecessary commodities of luxury when common sense indicates the need for food and other essentials. Lawmakers can fulfill their functions properly only when they "become benefactors to the publick"; in new countries they must safeguard agriculture and commerce, encourage immigration, and promote manufactures. Admittedly, liberty "is one of the most important blessings which men possess," but the idea that liberty is synonymous with complete freedom from restraint "is a most unwise, mistaken apprehension." True liberty demands a system of legislation that will lead all members of society "to unite their exertions" for the public welfare. It should therefore be the policy of government to aid and foster certain activities or kinds of business that strengthen a nation, even as it should be the duty of government to repress "those fashions, habits, and practices, which tend to weaken, impoverish, and corrupt the people." –Johnson, E.A.J., The Foundations of American Economic Freedom: Government and Enterprise in the Age of Washington (University of Minnesota Press, 1973), J194-195

Oregoncharles , , July 21, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Aside from Hamilton, Veblen is the only member of the American School I've heard of – and I took economics in college and have followed it ever since. Amazing.

edr , , July 21, 2017 at 3:21 pm

HI Tony, Thank you so much for this link, excellent !!! :

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1993/12/how-the-world-works/305854/ :

"[Friedrich] List argued, a society's well-being and its overall wealth are determined not by what the society can buy but by what it can make."

"In strategic terms nations ended up being dependent or independent according to their ability to make things for themselves. Why were Latin Americans, Africans, and Asians subservient to England and France in the nineteenth century? Because they could not make the machines and weapons Europeans could."

In the 1500s Spain became the richest nation in Europe because it had accumulated the gold wealth of the America's. By the next century it had become among the poorest nations of Europe. Spain had so much gold it could afford to simply buy anything it wanted, until the gold ran out, while the Germans developed craft industries to supply Spain with products and became wealthy and powerful .. the Arab nations are in this situation today, so resource rich that they haven't focused on developing industry, so that when oil runs they'll be impoverished.

edr , , July 21, 2017 at 3:34 pm

Correction:

so rich that there aren't any INCENTIVES to invest time and effort in creating the necessary industries.

Sue , , July 21, 2017 at 4:08 pm

Your data does not mean a thing. Data, to be meaningful as to the reality one is trying to show, must be preceded by a true knowledgable understanding of such reality. I conducted with two other colleagues a study about 15 years ago. This study was never published as we ran out of funds and we could not complete it. Nevertheless, the evidence from most colleges was overwhelming. Marx was not read. Marx was not fairly taught. This is the way it works, in case you are not aware. That a textbook includes chapters on Marxism and socialism does not imply that they are given attention too. In a large percentage of cases, if they are included in the syllabus by the teacher or department-I am saying teacher because in some colleges the professor ends up in practice applying his own particular syllabus-they are relegated to the end of the semester, with the tacit rule, "we will get too it, if we have time". It goes without saying that very rarely "we end up having time for it". Also, our team collected recordings from actual college economics and sociology classes. I vividly remember a professor who used for his Sociology 101 class James Henslin's textbook. Henslin suggested the students to learn three sociological views, functionalism, (interaction) symbolism and marxism. The first day of class the professor put it very clearly in his own words how Marx's dismissal was in order: "We are not going to use the Marxist approach. Marx was a workers' liberator who had never worked in a plant". It was not uncommon, in practice, to obliterate Marx, despite textbooks, syllabus or otherwise. Direct readings for the economics 100s and 200s classes systematically excluded Marx works, with Smith's The Wealth of Nations as #1 reading.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 4:35 pm

Your reply involves some interesting information, but it is unnecessarily vehement and it in fact misreads pretty seriously what Tony Wikrent said.

Wikrent claims that the American School of economics is not taught in universities, and so that if you are looking for an alternative to laissez-faire, you tend to assume the only one is Marxism. All of his data is aimed, not at showing that Marxism is taught, but that Carey and the American School are not.

From my experience as well, economics professors don't teach Marx. But that doesn't invalidate Wikrent's point. Even if students never hear about Marx from their economics professor, they will still have heard of Marx as a radical economist because his existence as such is generally known in mainstream culture. Whereas, Wikrent is saying, they will not have heard of Carey and the American School in other venues, so if they don't hear about them in economics departments, it will be like they never existed.

Sue , , July 21, 2017 at 5:11 pm

True. But I could mention several important political economy schools which are ignore across the board. This is what happens when orthodoxy pervades institutions. Now, specific to the comment, when one lays data out and makes it a reflection of practice, the least one and others can do is to point out that it is only a valid partial representation of that practice (here just valid for Wikrent's particular aims) and that the full data does not reflect the entire practice -and indeed provides an illusion of it.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 5:17 pm

Yes, but please try to apply more interpretive charity. You could have made the same point by just saying, "One thing I'd like to add," and it wouldn't have come off as a personal attack.

Sue , , July 21, 2017 at 5:44 pm

I agree. Fair enough. Thanks for the article and discussion

justanotherprogressive , , July 21, 2017 at 10:49 am

Are we again looking for "the theory of everything"? You know, that one "ism" or theory or form of government that will explain everything and make everything right?

Bad news. It doesn't exist.

No "ism" or form of government will solve and explain everything. No "ism" or form of government is completely wrong and no "ism" or form of government is completely right and never has been.

I'm a student of history and I love reading how ideas got started and how civilizations fail – and I've found the two are very related .

For those who wish to call the collapse of Russia a failure of communism, I ask when was the theory of communism practiced in Russia? Certainly what Lenin and Stalin created had nothing in common with the "commune" systems (from whence Communism gets its name) the peasants put in place to protect themselves.

And Capitalism? Even Adam Smith (of whom I am no great fan) understood that Capitalism (he didn't call it that but he did lay the basis for that system) understood that all members of the system had to have the same knowledge and act morally to be able to work best in their self interest. Does what Adam Smith proposed even resemble the Capitalism we have today?

I'll ignore Marx since it is such a touchy subject today, but I will ask: When were the theories of Marx ever really put into practice within the boundaries Marx set up? Do Marxists actually understand what those boundaries are?

And Democracy? Shall we again excoriate Athens for their failures in attempting to practice the theory?

Even something as reviled as feudalism had its roots in something good. Certainly, at the time, the peasants preferred it to being the victims of the Vikings and every other attacker that came along. But those who gained power from it couldn't give it up, even when it was no longer useful for protection .

The problem isn't the "isms" or even the forms of government- each "ism" and type of government has its value in a particular setting – but that does not mean it applies to every setting. "Isms" , like all theories, have boundaries within which they work – and "isms", like theories, will fail when applied to areas outside those specific boundaries. For a quick example, Democracy works when you have an educated and involved populace who understands that in order for their form of government to survive, power must never be completely centralized – it fails when the people do not understand or recognize that boundary.

It would be much better for us all if humans if they had the ability to recognize the boundaries of their "ism" and the ability to switch to a different theory when the times demanded – but they don't. Sadly I see throughout history that there have always be those people who rise to power during an "ism" and can't let go of it, even when it doesn't work (when the "ism" or theory is used outside its specific boundaries), because of their fear of losing control. And then the societal destruction begins but that isn't the fault of the "ism" – or the form of government

Perhaps instead of just deriding those theories that aren't currently popular, we really should be asking ourselves: What are the boundaries of each "ism" and when will that "ism" work and when will it not, and how do we learn to switch between them as necessity dictates?

justanotherprogressive , , July 21, 2017 at 11:19 am

Err .my last sentence should have read: "What are the boundaries of each "ism" and when will that "ism" work and when will it not, and how do we learn to switch peacefully between them as necessity dictates?"

hemeantwell , , July 21, 2017 at 10:58 am

While I respect the author for raising this topic, he seems to fall into "assessment of the Soviet Experiment" mode in a careless way. I realize I tend to repetition about this, but it is terribly misleading -- perhaps "disorienting" would be a better term -- to discuss theses questions without any reference to the tremendous impact external pressures -- call it "intersystemic conflict," "international conflict," whatever -- had on the course of the Soviet Union's development. While it could be argued that capitalist economies also faced external pressures, that would miss the question of how such pressures impact on a society in the process of formation . We're talking about questions of constrained path dependence of a fundamental order that the experimentalist mode of thinking misses. Etc, etc.

Then, as far as the "collapse of the Soviet Union" goes, there's no mention about the choice by significant sections of the Soviet elite to engage in looting instead of developing a transitional program that would protect viable sections of the Soviet economy under market socialism. What from the standpoint of the Times editorial board looks like a necessary start-over was in fact a sloppily-carried decision, or merely an unintended outcome, of a section of the elite seizing an opportunity to enrich themselves.

While it is essential to try to determine the viability of alternative economic systems in comparison what we've got now, doing so without taking into account the tremendously destructive opposition a transition would face is, in a way, to blithely continue on in a "Soviet Experiment" mentality. It's obvious that people can enjoyably engage in cooperative behavior, but if they can do so under a barrage is another matter. The one thing that we can be certain of is that if capitalist elites aren't thoroughly demoralized they will do whatever they can to 'prove' TINA.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 1:06 pm

I was a little confused by this comment. I'm not opposed to looking at the impact of external pressures, but I am opposed to treating them as monocausal.

Your preferred pattern of historical explanation shifts during the course of your comment. When discussing the USSR in the process of formation, you concentrate on bringing out external pressures and therefore considering the choices of the leadership as highly constrained. When discussing the collapse of the Soviet Union, you instead stress the choices of the leadership elite to "seize an opportunity to enrich themselves."

I'm not even sure why you would assume that your thesis about the elite choosing to engage in looting is opposed to anything that I'm saying.

I agree with you on is that it is possible to think both about what a self-sustaining better society might look like, and also the extent to which it's hard to get there within the constraints of current power structures. They are not the same question, and I think both are worth pondering.

schultzzz , , July 21, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Although I only understood 33% of this, I'm thankful for how the author points out the common forms of cherry-picking BS that both sides use when talking about communism.

If your only knowledge of communism came from the online left, you'd believe that it's never once been tried before!

They talk about it like some religious Rapture that will someday come and fix all the problems, not like a system that already has a proven track record. And it drives me nuts.

I mean, be a commie if you want to, but at least don't be a weasel about it.

Either say, "All those countries were awful dictatorships and that wasn't real communism anyway," (in which case it's on you to explain why YOUR post-revolutionary society will turn out different!) or say, "Those countries were pretty rad actually, and I own the actions of the leaders," and take the pushback that will result from THAT.

But whatever you do, please, don't just duck the issue by saying, "Well capitalism is bad too, so whatever LOL"

p.s. thanks for explaining the Motte and Bailey argument – wish I'd known about it in college!

Roland , , July 21, 2017 at 1:35 pm

I enjoyed this post, Outis, even though I'm going to be a bit critical of it. I am pleased to just to be able to talk about this stuff from time to time.

In Asimov's original Foundation stories, Hari Seldon devised an actual plan for the future history of an empire.

But historical dialectical materialism is not a plan. It is a theory which one may use to develop hypotheses.

Does Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection determine which species happen to survive? Would evolution by natural selection fail to happen, if nobody ever wrote about it?

So why would Marx's theory of class struggle alter the course of history?

If one reads the Communist Manifesto , one finds that the work is almost entirely devoted to the bourgeoisie and to the history of capitalism.

The bourgeoisie, after centuries of struggle against the nobility, the clergy, and the petty bourgeoisie, at length became the dominant class in society. Obviously the bourgeoisie didn't need Marx to help them do that!

Marx hypothesizes that for as long as the bourgeois class is what it is, and does what it does, a class struggle will result in which proletarians will assume power.

Marx points out that the vast majority of the job of obliterating private property is actually being performed by the bourgeois class themselves. Marx points out that most of the job of reducing differences between nations is actually done by the bourgoisie. Marx points that it's the bourgeoisie who dissolve traditional family institutions.

But that's observation and extrapolation, not a plan. For a revolutionary programme of the proletariat, Marx only offers a short list of points to consider.

Little of the Manifesto is devoted to the subject of the proletariat. That's not surprising, since proletarian history had scarcely begun.

For the sake of argument, ask yourself how much could one write about bourgeois history, or bourgeois political prospects, in the 12th century? At that time the Occidental bourgeoisie was in its political infancy. Few would imagine that these harried, oppressed, vulgar little burghers would eventually become the dominant class in society. I mean, the whole notion would seem "not even wrong."

It was difficult for Marx, and it is still difficult for us, to contemplate what a society would look like, or what life would feel like, if the proletariat were the politically and culturally dominant class. One only gets tantalizing glimpses, half-fanciful, such as Orwell's first impression of Barcelona.

To extend my 12th century bourgeois analogy, it would be like trying to envision Planet Bourgeois, based on a day trip to 12th century Venice.

Marx does offer brief critiques of those socialist programmes which do not focus on the proletarian class.

For our present purposes, the most interesting of them is Marx's anticipation of the welfare state, which he refers to as "bourgeois socialism."

For decades after WWII, many in the developed nations thought that the welfare states had solved the worst problems of capitalism. I used to be one of them. But it took Marx just a single page of the Communist Manifesto to raise, evaluate, and dismiss the idea.

Ulysses , , July 21, 2017 at 2:14 pm

"But historical dialectical materialism is not a plan. It is a theory which one may use to develop hypotheses. Does Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection determine which species happen to survive? Would evolution by natural selection fail to happen, if nobody ever wrote about it?"

Well said! This is very close to the sort of defense that most MMT theorists deploy– when critics decry the possible negative consequences of "adopting" their theory. "We are not proposing, merely describing" is the refrain. I myself have never been a Marxist, yet I find the historical analysis of some Marxist scholars quite perceptive. In my former life as a medievalist I often relied heavily on excellent work, authored by conservative Catholics, without ever feeling the urge to become one myself!

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 2:27 pm

Thanks, Roland. Actually, I think your summary is pretty good, and it provides an opportunity to clarify some things.

The Hari Seldon analogy is based on an idea of Marx that was often found in communist political cultures. It's true that they didn't imagine that Marx had seen the precise path of the future with the kind of mathematical precision that Seldon was supposed to have done.

However, I think the analogy still captures some noteworthy elements of how Marx was perceived. If a key feature of Marxism is the idea that people do not understand the history they are building, then Marx's role is to bring understanding into a world where it had been lacking. Whereas the same scientific principles regulating the class struggle are supposed to have operated both before and after Marx, before humanity was in the dark, but now it can choose to see. Similarly, Seldon's psychohistory is supposed to have operated as a sort of natural principle both before and after his lifetime, but once Seldon has revealed it, it becomes possible for an appropriate elite not only to understand what is happening (the First Foundation, to some extent) but also to midwife the process of bringing a new society into existence (the Second Foundation).

All of this touches on a point I made in the article. Once you describe the role of Marx as it was often imagined within historical communist culture, it doesn't sound very Marxist. Nevertheless, people did often imagine him that way. Systems of beliefs as actually held by people can often be more complex and contradictory than their theoreticians would claim.

Kenneth Heathly Simpson , , July 21, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Greetings All and thank you,

It was a long read to get to this point in the discussion. I would like to point out that all economies are planned. The question is: what class is doing the planning? If the workers are not doing the planning, then the first step toward socialism, a workers' state, does not exist or it is degenerating rapidly. A workers' state must by it very nature be democratic when it is in formation. If history kills the worker's state, then some other class based on private property, share holding capitalism or a singular private property based on the state itself replaces the workers' rule. You cannot get to socialism with our first having a workers state and you cannot get to communism without first attaining socialism. This is basic Marxism. If you do not understand this you will end up talking endlessly but get no where with in a truly Marxist frame work.

hush/hush , , July 21, 2017 at 2:18 pm

A little outside the box but I would recommend: The English and their History, by Robert Tombs. Why? Because in Marx's own time England was the most industrialized and trade unionized country in the world and Marx spent a lot of time there proselytizing to limited effect. Tombs makes a wide ranging and sensitive study of Marx's intersection with British liberalism. It's a fascinating read!

etnograf , , July 21, 2017 at 2:24 pm

Outis, thanks for raising all of these issues for public discussion. There is no question that a solid historical consideration of the communist experience in the 20th century is critical to how we think about Marxism and many other leftist ideas and it a decidedly fraught terrain where greater nuance is desperately needed.

I am surprised that you don't mention more recent historical scholarship on the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc countries, however. In your brief note on what you are currently reading it seems that nearly all of the works are more than a half-century old. While such dustier tomes are often invaluable, none of them benefited from the archival access, oral histories, and other sources that have become much more widely available in the last 25 years. There was certainly a lot of dogmatic work that came out in the years after communism fell–something like Fukuyama's The End of History comes to mind as a quintessential example of that–but there were also many serious scholars who did not necessarily have a strong ax to grind for or against communism, historical or otherwise.

For example, I find the historian Stephen Kotkin's work to be quite nuanced without taking a strong ideological stance. Originally a scholar of Stalinism who wrote on the construction of a major steel plant in the Urals (Magnetic Mountain, 1995), he went on to also write books on the collapse of the Soviet Union (Armageddon Averted) and the Eastern European bloc (Uncivil Society). He has a new biography of Stalin coming out in phases, though I haven't read it yet. All of these works emphasize what was in fact the close integration in many ways of the capitalist and communist worlds. In the 1930s it was the crisis of capitalism that largely helped to preserve the appeal of communism even as it was largely American firms that were being contracted to build socialist factories and import equipment. In the later postwar years the price of oil was critical to understanding some of the early successes and later extreme difficulties of the Soviet and Eastern bloc economy. The collapse of the Eastern bloc had much to do with the comparison that socialism itself encouraged people to make with capitalism by an increasing focus on consumer goods that the communist system was woefully unable to produce.

All of this is by way of saying that the good historical work out there does not try to see the communism of the 20th century as some kind of pure or corrupted manifestation of any ideological system but, like every other kind of political upheaval, a complicated venture that was inseparable from its many contexts–chief among them its place in a world global economic system and its self-definition vis-a-vis the actually existing capitalism of its time. Susan Buck-Morss makes some of these points in her book Dreamworld and Catastrophe on the similarities between the U.S. and USSR.

In any case, I hope my brief thoughts might help move the discussion of the minefield of historical communism more firmly onto the terrain of actual history.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Thanks, etnograf. Furet's book is from 1995, and the interview with Castoriadis is from that time, but as you say, some of the other books I'm interested in are from the 50s or earlier. I enjoy reading books written in the heat of events, and so from far in the past, since you often get plunged into a worldview that is curiously alien from the present. But often modern historical scholarship is incredibly helpful, and I greatly appreciate your suggestions.

However, one thing that I hope was clear from the post is that I think that while looking into some problems requires wide and careful reading, there are some fundamental questions that it isn't wrong for people to discuss even if they aren't experts on current scholarship.

kukuzel , , July 21, 2017 at 8:42 pm

I second the thanks to Outis and also want to thank you, etnograf, for such a well-put comment and the book reference.

Sue , , July 21, 2017 at 2:39 pm

It is evident this writer has not even been close to live and understand many failed European attempts by real grassroots leftists to significantly shape socioeconomic dynamics.

A excerpt: "Large numbers of intellectuals in France and Italy were convinced that the USSR was a genuine incarnation of Left values (this implies nothing good about the historical left"

From the very 60s and 70s a good number of activists and intellectuals in several European countries did not call the USSR communist, socialist or Marxist. There was a very clear term for the USSR regime: Sovietism.

Also what most people do not realize is that Marx was extremely generous to capitalism from many important angles. If you want me to illustrate, let me know.

Also the author would need to clarify his reference to Latin America, just in case he has forgot what took place there in the 70s and 80s.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 2:55 pm

When I mentioned Latin America, I was referring specifically to the coup against Arbenz in Guatemala (1973) and the coup against Allende in Chile (1973). I brought them up as genuine cases where attempts to carry out left-oriented reforms were thwarted by external pressures and interventions.

The fact that Marx had good things to say about capitalism and saw a key role for it in the way history moves forward is not disputed by anyone serious.

You do not understand the quote you are criticizing. If I say that large numbers of intellectuals in France and Italy saw the USSR as part of the Left, you don't achieve anything for your argument by claiming that there were "a good number" of "activists and intellectuals" who referred to the USSR's regime as "Sovietism." The two statements aren't inconsistent in any way.

Please try to read more carefully in the future.

Sue , , July 21, 2017 at 4:42 pm

"When I mentioned Latin America, I was referring specifically to the coup against Arbenz in Guatemala (1973) and the coup against Allende in Chile (1973). I brought them up as genuine cases where attempts to carry out left-oriented reforms were thwarted by external pressures and interventions"

Yes, Kissinger knows one thing or two about it. I think that makes your, "one thinks of Latin American countries that tried to institute various left-leaning social programs, and then, between economic pressure and the threat of military subversion, ended up being pushed into the arms of the USSR", much comprehensive. I appreciate it

Oregoncharles , , July 21, 2017 at 3:10 pm

"as well as much of the leadership of the 60s student movements, were convinced that the USSR was a genuine incarnation of Left values."

Why do you think it was called the "New Left"? I was there, and that's not what I remember. For one thing, most of us were very anti-authoritarian. Communism was seen archaic.

No, I wasn't a "student leader," nor was I close enough to any of the famous ones to know what they thought. But I was immersed in the zeitgeist, and that wasn't it. For one thing, the Hungarian and Tibetan uprisings were formative for a lot of us.

How old are you, Outis? Suddenly it matters.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 3:39 pm

Not old enough! But see my comments addressing this point elsewhere (do a search on this page on SDS). I can also provide more references if you're interested.

People have different experiences. I know some people who did live through that time and who were pretty radical then. According to them, as they gradually over time grudgingly accepted that the USSR/China/Cuba etc. were not everything they had imagined, their own politics became less and less radical, more "liberal" or even "neoliberal." This is a kind of trajectory that I think is not logically necessary, but important to understand.

Oregoncharles , , July 21, 2017 at 4:34 pm

I wasn't directly involved with SDS – just read about it.

I became a Green – arguably the tail of the New Left. I gather the German party has moved in a more neoliberal direction, but the US and British parties have moved the opposite way.

I attended a college whose unofficial motto was "Atheism, Communism, and Free Love." Epate les bourgeoisie, IOW. I don't remember much interest in actual communism, but I could be just projecting. Free love, now, that was another matter. But that was 50 years ago.

Ulysses , , July 21, 2017 at 5:09 pm

So this is how one SDS leader at Stanford, Martin Bresnick, recalled his visit to Prague in 1970:

"Standing near the Charles Bridge we saw a worker whitewashing over a name that had been painted on the pedestrian side of the bridge. It was the name of Jan Palach, the young student who had burned himself to death the year before protesting the Soviet invasion. Whenever I passed by I saw that someone had again painted Palach's name on the bridge during the night and each day another worker was sent to whitewash over it.

In the evening we went to concerts at the Smetana Hall in the immense Municipal building. It is difficult to describe what music meant to the Czechs then. The audience listened to everything with the most focused attention imaginable and musicians played with a passion I had never experienced.

In Prague, in 1970, all music seemed to be a testament of freedom, filled with unspoken messages of defiance and resistance. When a work ended, the audience broke into wild applause, wept, cheered, then eagerly spoke to each other in Czech, guessing the Soviet soldiers scattered in the crowd could not understand them ."

https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/25/prague-1970-music-in-spring/

Have to say it's hard to see much Soviet apologetics going on there!!

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 5:25 pm

Here is an excerpt from an email that a reader sent me, about an incident that happened two years before the one you describe (with the brackets to protect his privacy):

In the summer of 1968 the SDS national office in Chicago sponsored a trip to Cuba (Met in Houston Texas (Todd Gitlin was then the President of SDS) flew to Mexico City and then flew to Havana/ ended up returning via Russian Freighter to Saint Johns Canada and then drove across Canadian border back into U.S) [I and a friend] jointly decided to take advantage of this opportunity to see up-close the Cuban revolution and also meet fellow SDSers Two years earlier I had helped set-up an SDS chapter on my campus and had engaged in a series of demonstrations, and organizing activities both on and off campus, primarily around anti-war protests of one type of another. I would call my two previous years of organizing on my campus quite successful and I was personally excited about meeting other members of SDS chapters from across the country from different local campus or local community organizations, in order to swap organizing experiences and gain and exchange political insights. A significant number of SDS members who were on that trip to Cuba in the summer of 1968 had just been involved in the takeover of buildings at Columbia University (April of 1968).

That Columbia grouping would later make up a significant portion of the Weatherman faction that eventually took over and destroyed SDS.

A foreshadowing of that groupings increasingly rigid ideological politics took place during on our trip in Cuba. Shortly after arriving in Havana in mid-August of 1968 the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia and our SDS group got into a political debate about what our collective stance was toward the Russian invasion. About 6 of us condemned the invasion, while the vast majority of the approximately 45 SDSers (including most of the Columbia University faction supported the Russian invasion). The next morning when our entire group was supposed to leave Havana to begin our trip throughout Cuba–the six of us were told by a member of our SDS group that we were to stay in Havana because we were considered politically unreliable by the majority of our "comrades."

Our Cuban guides didn't appear to know what to do with us but after meeting with the Cubans and explaining our political infighting they allowed us to rejoin the trip. Needless to say most of the other SDS members were not happy to see us when we returned to the trip but there was nothing they could do about it. The supreme irony about that incident was that one of the most ideologically militant SDS members on that trip turned out to be an undercover FBI agent who later gave testimony to Congressional committee about what had taken place during that trip to Cuba.

Donald , , July 21, 2017 at 8:38 pm

I have zero first hand knowledge, but my impression is that the NewLeft romanticized Castro and Ho Chi Minh and possibly Mao, but saw the Soviet Union as a failure.

No links offhand– it's just the impression I long have had. There were exceptions– the historian who wrote some famous books o American slavery ( I am blanking on his name and his books) was an admirer of the Soviet Union. This is all very fuzzy, but I think it is correct and fits in with what others have said about New Left attitudes towards the Russian suppression of the Czech revolt.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 8:44 pm

Very funny example of synchronicity here – see my comment that posted one minute after yours.

There were also Italians who preferred China to the USSR, for example Lotta continua and Autonomia operaia.

Ulysses , , July 21, 2017 at 4:49 pm

"Why do you think it was called the "New Left"? I was there, and that's not what I remember."

Well said! This huge discrepancy between the broad generalization that "much of the leadership of the 60s student movements" were Soviet apologists, and the actual lived experience of those of us born before 1965 is jarring, to say the least.

I remember well the years 1968 to 1975. My parents were strong anti-war activists and academics, who hosted numerous student radicals at many social gatherings. I have no memory of any Soviet apologists, yet recall distinctly many condemnations of 1956, 1968, and both sides in the Cold War.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 8:39 pm

What are your recollections about attitudes toward Mao? As I recall from David Barber's book A Hard Rain Fell: SDS and Why It Failed , the Black Panthers were certainly Maoists and there were also others who preferred China to the USSR.

joe , , July 21, 2017 at 3:22 pm

i'm 48, and i grew up in rural east texas.

pre-internet, there was simply a great vacuum in marxist materials.(I looked). Late 80's one could find a lot of post-punk nihilism in the head shops and vintage record stores in houston, but nobody talked about marx or, really, even economics and politics.

Now, 35 years later, and out in the rural hill country of texas, I find that nobody wants to talk about such things .aside from those who replace discourse with simple declaratory sentences.

The Taboo larded onto all things marx is still in the process of falling away. Reckon this should be remembered and accounted for in all such discussions.

Gil , , July 21, 2017 at 3:34 pm

Marx and Engels were democrats first and then attached a theory of capitalism and socialism to their democratic beliefs. They were right that the new industrial proletariat would become the main social force in the fight for democratic rights against the autocratic and aristocratic regimes of Europe, but their theory of capitalism and socialism was mistaken.

Lenin was also a democrat for thirty years and fought for a democratic republic before the catastrophe of WWI and the Russian Revolution. Luxemburg's critique of Lenin's and Trotsky's authoritarianism identifies the tragic ideological turning point in the history of Marxism.

To find what is still useful in Marxism, go back to its democratic values, not its theory of history or theory of socialist revolution and economic planning. For Marx and Engels' role in the democratic struggle in Europe, August Nimtz's recent work is clear and straightforward. For Lenin's early democratic strategic thinking, Neil Harding's Lenin's Political Thought, Vol 1, is essential. Finally, Barrington Moore's The Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy provides a better framework for understanding modern history than Marxism.

The central conflict in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries was not between capitalism and socialism but between democracy and an authoritarianism rooted in agricultural elites dependent on unfree labor. The Old Regime in Europe was finally destroyed by the Allied armies in WWII. However, the struggle for democracy is not over and Moore's title is not quite accurate.

Moore's title should have been The Social Origins of Dictatorship and Constitutional Liberalism because the United States is not a representative democracy based on one person one vote, the monstrosity of the Senate being the main expression of this undemocratic structure. The primary political goal in the United States is to establish democracy, and the history of Marxism is useful in understanding the ideological and strategic aspects of that goal because for over seventy years that was also the primary political goal of Marxism

Oregoncharles , , July 21, 2017 at 3:34 pm

I wish I had time to respond fully to this, because I think I helped trigger it in a prior discussion and because I have, let's say, extensive priors.

Let me briefly state what I failed to make clear before: I think that society evolves in much the same way that organisms do – that is, variation followed by "natural" selection. The big difference results from the mode of transmission: genetics, in the case of biology, which evolves fairly slowly; and culture, in the case of societies, which can evolve very quickly. Culture is learned, so acquired traits are retained, unlike genetics (biologists have now discovered epigenetics, a big exception to that rule), and furthermore are transmitted independent of reproduction.

Evolution, like life itself, is a feedback-controlled system that can appear to have a "mind of its own." It's in that sense that I think most social change is "unconscious," even though it depends on the conscious decisions of many participants. Note that markets, when they operate, have the same characteristic. And because it's a characteristic of life itself, they can't be eliminated, as the communist countries discovered.

On the other hand, I'm very materialist, in Marx's sense (if I understand it): livelihood and survival are the ultimate determinants of social evolution – within bounds set by the initial state (because that's how evolution works).

For me, all that goes back to a thesis I was working on in college. Unfortunately, I broke down and dropped out, not because of the thesis, so it wasn't finished, and I don't know what anthropologists presently think. Social evolution is the reason Dawkins invented the term "meme": the unit of cultural transmission.

That's what I meant when I wrote that Darwin – evolution – had superseded the dialectic.

I'll try to come back and respond to some of the economics questions (yeah, I know, everybody's holding their breath), but I right now I need to go to work.

lambert strether , , July 21, 2017 at 6:08 pm

TiSA sounds a lot like a planned economy to me.

A question of who's doing the planning, I suppose.

possum holler , , July 21, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Robert Asprey's War In the Shadows, the Guerilla in History, Vol II might be good survey reading for your project. He has a thesis of historical Leninism and Maosim as method applied in partisan struggles that might prove enlightning; especially on the Eastern Front of WWII and in Yugoslav history (Vol I is a long tactical and strategic evaluation of the conflict and police action in Vietnam that set the question Vol II tried to answer, and won't help you with your questions).

Carl Schmitt's Theory of the Partisan is a very accessible and serious theoretical look at internationalist communism, particularly during WWII. This work of Schmitt's later deeply influenced Laclau and Mouffe's work on building left populism in Latin America and Europe.

For a little lighter, but still useful, reading, Gary Brecher's The War Nerd collects his irreverent, proto-dirtbag left columns from the Russian alternative rag The Exile. Some of his work on Chechen history under Stalinism, Nepali Maoist guerillas, and Albanian bunkers might be instructive.

I'm left, but often the left has a poor understanding of itself. Asprey was a US career army officer who was deeply concerned about the Vietnam police action, Schmitt an influential Weimar and Nazi German conservative jurist and legal scholar, "Dolan" a satirist and former rhetoric professor expat from the US in '90s Russia.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , , July 21, 2017 at 6:55 pm

Thanks, these all sound worth checking out.

duck1 , , July 21, 2017 at 6:50 pm

Historical minefield, for sure. This is anecdotal about 60's 70's US new left, but I think generally accurate. One core group was the red diaper babies, children of CPUSA or sympathizers. Inheriting aspects of parents experience, frequently in the leadership of the left CIO unions. Ahead of everyone else in terms of understanding Marxism due to anti-communist era. Splits in this group vis a vis Kruschev outing Stalin.

SDS split along Progressive Labor and anti-imperialist lines. PL evolved out of Teamsters labor struggles in Minneapolis and had Trotskyist bent. The imperialism thesis derived from the Lenin work.

By the mid 70's you had a terrorist bent and what was generally conceived as a new party building movement (CP) that was Maoist oriented. The big dog in the Bay Area was the Revolutionary Union who established proletarian cred by getting the still widely available industrial jobs in the area. Then there were a bunch of sects with various core beliefs.

This is leaving aside the black struggles of the period. Naturally the polntless nature of the party building got to most people, though some still soldier on. Obviously no such group has anywhere near the influence that CPUSA had.

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[Jul 23, 2017] Many critics of the USSR seems to fall into assessment of the Soviet Experiment mode in a careless way. It is terribly misleading to discuss theses questions without any reference to the tremendous impact external pressures had on the course of the Soviet Unions development

Notable quotes:
"... While I respect the author for raising this topic, he seems to fall into "assessment of the Soviet Experiment" mode in a careless way. I realize I tend to repetition about this, but it is terribly misleading -- perhaps "disorienting" would be a better term -- to discuss theses questions without any reference to the tremendous impact external pressures -- call it "intersystemic conflict," "international conflict," whatever -- had on the course of the Soviet Union's development. While it could be argued that capitalist economies also faced external pressures, that would miss the question of how such pressures impact on a society in the process of formation ..."
"... Then, as far as the "collapse of the Soviet Union" goes, there's no mention about the choice ..."
"... What from the standpoint of the Times editorial board looks like a necessary start-over was in fact a sloppily-carried decision, or merely an unintended outcome, of a section of the elite seizing an opportunity to enrich themselves. ..."
"... It's obvious that people can enjoyably engage in cooperative behavior, but if they can do so under a barrage is another matter. The one thing that we can be certain of is that if capitalist elites aren't thoroughly demoralized they will do whatever they can to 'prove' TINA. ..."
"... West had spent several billion dollars in cash to bribe significant portions of the Soviet elite (Soros, via his foundation, was especially active). And large part of the elite war already poisoned by neoliberalism and wanted to become rich. So while pre-conditions for the collapse of the USSR were internal (communist ideology was actually discredited in early 70th; economic stagnation started around the same time, Communist Party leadership completely degraded and became a joke in 80th ), external pressures and subversive activity played the role of catalyst that made the process irreversible. ..."
Jul 21, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

hemeantwell , July 21, 2017 at 10:58 am

While I respect the author for raising this topic, he seems to fall into "assessment of the Soviet Experiment" mode in a careless way. I realize I tend to repetition about this, but it is terribly misleading -- perhaps "disorienting" would be a better term -- to discuss theses questions without any reference to the tremendous impact external pressures -- call it "intersystemic conflict," "international conflict," whatever -- had on the course of the Soviet Union's development. While it could be argued that capitalist economies also faced external pressures, that would miss the question of how such pressures impact on a society in the process of formation . We're talking about questions of constrained path dependence of a fundamental order that the experimentalist mode of thinking misses. Etc, etc.

Then, as far as the "collapse of the Soviet Union" goes, there's no mention about the choice by significant sections of the Soviet elite to engage in looting instead of developing a transitional program that would protect viable sections of the Soviet economy under market socialism.

What from the standpoint of the Times editorial board looks like a necessary start-over was in fact a sloppily-carried decision, or merely an unintended outcome, of a section of the elite seizing an opportunity to enrich themselves.

While it is essential to try to determine the viability of alternative economic systems in comparison what we've got now, doing so without taking into account the tremendously destructive opposition a transition would face is, in a way, to blithely continue on in a "Soviet Experiment" mentality.

It's obvious that people can enjoyably engage in cooperative behavior, but if they can do so under a barrage is another matter. The one thing that we can be certain of is that if capitalist elites aren't thoroughly demoralized they will do whatever they can to 'prove' TINA.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , July 21, 2017 at 1:06 pm

I was a little confused by this comment. I'm not opposed to looking at the impact of external pressures, but I am opposed to treating them as monocausal.

Your preferred pattern of historical explanation shifts during the course of your comment. When discussing the USSR in the process of formation, you concentrate on bringing out external pressures and therefore considering the choices of the leadership as highly constrained. When discussing the collapse of the Soviet Union, you instead stress the choices of the leadership elite to "seize an opportunity to enrich themselves."

I'm not even sure why you would assume that your thesis about the elite choosing to engage in looting is opposed to anything that I'm saying.

I agree with you on is that it is possible to think both about what a self-sustaining better society might look like, and also the extent to which it's hard to get there within the constraints of current power structures. They are not the same question, and I think both are worth pondering.

likbez , July 21, 2017 at 11:16 pm

hemeantwell,

Very good points:

"Then, as far as the "collapse of the Soviet Union" goes, there's no mention about the choice by significant sections of the Soviet elite to engage in looting instead of developing a transitional program that would protect viable sections of the Soviet economy under market socialism.

What from the standpoint of the Times editorial board looks like a necessary start-over was in fact a sloppily-carried decision, or merely an unintended outcome, of a section of the elite seizing an opportunity to enrich themselves. "

West had spent several billion dollars in cash to bribe significant portions of the Soviet elite (Soros, via his foundation, was especially active). And large part of the elite war already poisoned by neoliberalism and wanted to become rich. So while pre-conditions for the collapse of the USSR were internal (communist ideology was actually discredited in early 70th; economic stagnation started around the same time, Communist Party leadership completely degraded and became a joke in 80th ), external pressures and subversive activity played the role of catalyst that made the process irreversible.

The fact that neoliberalism was rising at the time means that this was the worst possible time for the USSR to implement drastic economic reforms and sure mediocre politicians like Gorbachev quickly lost control of the process. With some important help of the West.

The subsequent economic rape of Russia was incredibly brutal and most probably well coordinated by the famous three letter agencies: CIA (via USAID and "Harvard mafia") ) and MI6 and their German and French counterparts. See

Brain drain, especially to the USA and Israel was simply incredible. Which, while good for professionals leaving (although tales of Russian Ph.D swiping malls are not uncommon, especially in Israel ) , who can earn much better money abroad, is actually another form of neocolonialism for the countries affected:

Oregoncharles , July 22, 2017 at 12:57 am

It was a tragically missed opportunity to try genuine socialism. Instead of essentially selling the state enterprises to the Mafia, they could have been GIVEN, probably broken up, to the workers in them. It would have been instant worker-owned, market regulated – what? We don't have a familiar name for it, but it might be what Marx meant by "socialism."

Ironically, the Bolsheviks first set up such co-operatives, called soviets, but soon seized them in favor of state ownership. End of the socialist experiment. It's quite possible they were far more Russian than Marxist.

Moneta , July 22, 2017 at 8:14 am

The US economy hit a wall in the 70s. Instead of readjusting internally, it used its reserve currency and global exploitation to gain an extra few decades of consumerism. If exploitation is acceptable, then we could say that capitalism wins. However, capitalism will work until there is nothing left to exploit.

In the meantime, the USSR was set up in a way where it could not follow

IMO, left leaning theoretical communism would have trouble surviving when in competition with a system based on short-termism such as capitalism. This competition against short-termism would force the communist country to turn into a form of fascism just to stop the opportunists which happen to have the skills from defecting.

MikeC , July 22, 2017 at 9:51 am

While in the Peace Corps serving in Africa (after 2010), I had a former military doctor (originally from Moldavia) who I'd see due to ongoing health issues. He served in Angola as a doctor during the civil wars and had pictures of the people he helped who were injured in the war. He was hands down the most competent doctor I saw who was employed by the PC. This was by a wide margin of competence too. I had not illusions about the Peace Corps and it purpose (to put the kind face on US empire?). We'd talk quite a bit, and he was still bitter about the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Gorbachev who he blamed for its demise, due to the lower standards of living and hardships now faced by many in the Eastern bloc and in Russia itself. In all honesty, though I identify with the far Left, this was new to me since I never realized that anyone would long for those days since all I ever heard about as a youth (due to propaganda of course) was about long bread lines and the gray world of the lives of those in the Soviet Union. Kukezel's comments above, and other information I have gained over the time had somewhat expanded my ideas and understanding regarding the system, as have my growing understanding of just how unjust our system in the US is becoming more unjust year after year.

I am not knowledgeable enough, possibly not smart enough, to understand the finer points of the discussion here concerning Marx, but I do think it possible for we as a species to create better systems to organize our world other than one predicated on the profit motive. Besides being unsustainable in a world of finite resources and the possibility that we humans will destroy the possibility to exist, we need to creatively try new forms of organization. The problem with the concentration of power of present day capitalism is that it seems so adaptable to new ways to effectively change. I know some Marx but am limited, but he was very impressed with capitalism's way to adapt to preserve itself.

Unfortunately, at times I become too cynical about the ability of the human species intellect and abitlity to go beyond short-term solutions. We just may not be able to get past our limitations as a creature. In short, I just don't know if we are smart enough to do what is best for survival. Like my Peace Corps doctor, I too sometimes wax nostalgic for a past that will never return, back to the sixties when it seemed the distribution of wealth was more egalitarian, unions brought about some economic justice, and the concentration of power and wealth was not so dramatic as it is today. I just never know if I was too blind, or deluded, at the time to see that maybe those weren't actually better times in that the system itself was built upon the same exploitation has existed in all of US history. So all this good discussion at times brings me back to the question–is our historical evolution not far enough along a continuum for us to change before it is too late? That's a bummer of a thought, I know, but the present political manifestations keep blunting any optimism I still possess.

Anon , July 22, 2017 at 7:39 pm

I too sometimes wax nostalgic for a past that will never return, back to the sixties when it seemed the distribution of wealth was more egalitarian, unions brought about some economic justice, and the concentration of power and wealth was not so dramatic as it is today.

That was "white priveledge" back then. It's passing is what led to Trump and the epidemic of homelessness.

[Jul 22, 2017] The collapse of the Eastern bloc had much to do with encouragement of consumerism and the increasing focus on consumer goods that the communist system was woefully unable to produce doomed the system

Notable quotes:
"... All of these works emphasize what was in fact the close integration in many ways of the capitalist and communist worlds. In the 1930s it was the crisis of capitalism that largely helped to preserve the appeal of communism even as it was largely American firms that were being contracted to build socialist factories and import equipment. In the later postwar years the price of oil was critical to understanding some of the early successes and later extreme difficulties of the Soviet and Eastern bloc economy. ..."
Jul 22, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

etnograf , July 21, 2017 at 2:24 pm

Outis, thanks for raising all of these issues for public discussion. There is no question that a solid historical consideration of the communist experience in the 20th century is critical to how we think about Marxism and many other leftist ideas and it a decidedly fraught terrain where greater nuance is desperately needed.

I am surprised that you don't mention more recent historical scholarship on the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc countries, however. In your brief note on what you are currently reading it seems that nearly all of the works are more than a half-century old. While such dustier tomes are often invaluable, none of them benefited from the archival access, oral histories, and other sources that have become much more widely available in the last 25 years. There was certainly a lot of dogmatic work that came out in the years after communism fell–something like Fukuyama's The End of History comes to mind as a quintessential example of that–but there were also many serious scholars who did not necessarily have a strong ax to grind for or against communism, historical or otherwise.

For example, I find the historian Stephen Kotkin's work to be quite nuanced without taking a strong ideological stance. Originally a scholar of Stalinism who wrote on the construction of a major steel plant in the Urals (Magnetic Mountain, 1995), he went on to also write books on the collapse of the Soviet Union (Armageddon Averted) and the Eastern European bloc (Uncivil Society). He has a new biography of Stalin coming out in phases, though I haven't read it yet.

All of these works emphasize what was in fact the close integration in many ways of the capitalist and communist worlds. In the 1930s it was the crisis of capitalism that largely helped to preserve the appeal of communism even as it was largely American firms that were being contracted to build socialist factories and import equipment. In the later postwar years the price of oil was critical to understanding some of the early successes and later extreme difficulties of the Soviet and Eastern bloc economy.

The collapse of the Eastern bloc had much to do with the comparison that socialism itself encouraged people to make with capitalism by an increasing focus on consumer goods that the communist system was woefully unable to produce.

All of this is by way of saying that the good historical work out there does not try to see the communism of the 20th century as some kind of pure or corrupted manifestation of any ideological system but, like every other kind of political upheaval, a complicated venture that was inseparable from its many contexts – chief among them its place in a world global economic system and its self-definition vis-a-vis the actually existing capitalism of its time. Susan Buck-Morss makes some of these points in her book Dreamworld and Catastrophe on the similarities between the U.S. and USSR.

In any case, I hope my brief thoughts might help move the discussion of the minefield of historical communism more firmly onto the terrain of actual history.

[Jul 22, 2017] USSR collapse and the evils of Yeltsin regime

Notable quotes:
"... After the processes of industrialization and urbanization had completely, there was nowhere for the economy to go, and the low growth combined with the ossification of bureacratic structures and the entrenchment of the World War II generation in power meant a lack of job opportunities. All of this contributed to the malaise that killed productivity and increased alcoholism, creating a self-feedback loop. Yeltsin and his cronies calculated that if the USSR transitioned to a capitalist economy, they stood to make a lot of money, so they met in secret and agreed to its dissolution. The public wanted reform, but they didn't want full-blown capitalism, certainly not of the variety Russia saw in the 90's. ..."
"... Especially considering the fact that Marx was arguably the greatest thinker of the modern era and his contributions were not at all limited to the 'isms' that people fought for in his name, I think a much better topic for a post would have been "common Cold War misconceptions about Russia and Marxism." ..."
Jul 22, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

John , July 22, 2017 at 4:47 am

I would rather live in Cuba than in Haiti, and the country's economic performance is all the more impressive considering the economic warfare wrought upon it by the US.

48% of Russians regret the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the second largest political party in Russia after Putin's is the Communist Party (article from The Nation circa 2012). And this isn't a political party claiming to bring about a new socialist society but rather one that promises to bring back the communism of the Brezhnev era.

Russia was a backwards country at the beginning of World War I and saw its industry annihilated by the war. The peace treaty ceded its industrial heartlands, and then it was ripped apart by the civil war of the 1920's. But this didn't compare to World War II, which wiped out an entire generation of Russians.

Yet within 12 years of the war's end, they were the first to put an object into space, and four years later they were the first to put a human into orbit. They Americans, who had been unscathed by the war, were blessed with nearly unlimited natural resources and had the most powerful economy and military in in history, saw their attempt blow up on the launchpad.

At this time in America, people actually thought socialism might win out. The Soviets certainly thought so. In the first two decades after World War II, their economy was probably the fastest growing in history. They were so confident that their system was superior that they assumed they could beat the American capitalists in every way, including providing the general populace with consumer goods. This promise, made during the "Kitchen Debates" and throughout the 60's and 70's, when the government officially embraced consumerism, was a horrible miscalculation that eventually contributed greatly to the public's discontent with the regime.

After the processes of industrialization and urbanization had completely, there was nowhere for the economy to go, and the low growth combined with the ossification of bureacratic structures and the entrenchment of the World War II generation in power meant a lack of job opportunities. All of this contributed to the malaise that killed productivity and increased alcoholism, creating a self-feedback loop. Yeltsin and his cronies calculated that if the USSR transitioned to a capitalist economy, they stood to make a lot of money, so they met in secret and agreed to its dissolution. The public wanted reform, but they didn't want full-blown capitalism, certainly not of the variety Russia saw in the 90's.

Especially considering the fact that Marx was arguably the greatest thinker of the modern era and his contributions were not at all limited to the 'isms' that people fought for in his name, I think a much better topic for a post would have been "common Cold War misconceptions about Russia and Marxism."

This is supposed to be a heterodox economics blog but it's always from the Keynesian perspective and never from the Marxist. Considering Keynes's thoughts on the Labour Party, for one, I think more perspectives are needed in informing discussion on how to approach questions of social justice. Marxian economists predicted the crisis just as well as the Keynesians. Let's listen.

[Jul 21, 2017] As far as the "collapse of the Soviet Union" goes it was the choice by significant sections of the Soviet elite to engage in looting instead of developing a transitional program that would protect viable sections of the Soviet economy under "market socialism"

Notable quotes:
"... society in the process of formation ..."
"... What from the standpoint of the Times editorial board looks like a necessary start-over was in fact a sloppily-carried decision, or merely an unintended outcome, of a section of the elite seizing an opportunity to enrich themselves. ..."
Jul 21, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

hemeantwell , July 21, 2017 at 10:58 am

While I respect the author for raising this topic, he seems to fall into "assessment of the Soviet Experiment" mode in a careless way. I realize I tend to repetition about this, but it is terribly misleading -- perhaps "disorienting" would be a better term -- to discuss theses questions without any reference to the tremendous impact external pressures -- call it "intersystemic conflict," "international conflict," whatever -- had on the course of the Soviet Union's development. While it could be argued that capitalist economies also faced external pressures, that would miss the question of how such pressures impact on a society in the process of formation . We're talking about questions of constrained path dependence of a fundamental order that the experimentalist mode of thinking misses. Etc, etc.

Then, as far as the "collapse of the Soviet Union" goes, there's no mention about the choice by significant sections of the Soviet elite to engage in looting instead of developing a transitional program that would protect viable sections of the Soviet economy under market socialism. What from the standpoint of the Times editorial board looks like a necessary start-over was in fact a sloppily-carried decision, or merely an unintended outcome, of a section of the elite seizing an opportunity to enrich themselves.

While it is essential to try to determine the viability of alternative economic systems in comparison what we've got now, doing so without taking into account the tremendously destructive opposition a transition would face is, in a way, to blithely continue on in a "Soviet Experiment" mentality. It's obvious that people can enjoyably engage in cooperative behavior, but if they can do so under a barrage is another matter. The one thing that we can be certain of is that if capitalist elites aren't thoroughly demoralized they will do whatever they can to 'prove' TINA.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , July 21, 2017 at 1:06 pm

I was a little confused by this comment. I'm not opposed to looking at the impact of external pressures, but I am opposed to treating them as monocausal.

Your preferred pattern of historical explanation shifts during the course of your comment. When discussing the USSR in the process of formation, you concentrate on bringing out external pressures and therefore considering the choices of the leadership as highly constrained. When discussing the collapse of the Soviet Union, you instead stress the choices of the leadership elite to "seize an opportunity to enrich themselves."

I'm not even sure why you would assume that your thesis about the elite choosing to engage in looting is opposed to anything that I'm saying.

I agree with you on is that it is possible to think both about what a self-sustaining better society might look like, and also the extent to which it's hard to get there within the constraints of current power structures. They are not the same question, and I think both are worth pondering.

likbez , July 21, 2017 at 11:16 pm
hemeantwell,

Very good points:

"Then, as far as the "collapse of the Soviet Union" goes, there's no mention about the choice by significant sections of the Soviet elite to engage in looting instead of developing a transitional program that would protect viable sections of the Soviet economy under market socialism.

What from the standpoint of the Times editorial board looks like a necessary start-over was in fact a sloppily-carried decision, or merely an unintended outcome, of a section of the elite seizing an opportunity to enrich themselves. "

West had spent several billion dollars in cash to bribe significant portions of the Soviet elite (Soros, via his foundation, was especially active). And large part of the elite war already poisoned by neoliberalism and wanted to become rich. So while pre-conditions for the collapse of the USSR were internal (communist ideology was actually discredited in early 70th; economic stagnation started around the4 same time, Communist Party leadership completely degraded and became a joke in 80th ), external pressures and subversive activity played the role of catalyst that make the process irreversible.

The fact that neoliberalism was rising at the time means that this was the worst possible time for the USSR to implement drastic economic reforms and sure mediocre politicians like Gorbachev quickly lost control of the process. With some important help of the West.

The subsequent economic rape of Russia was incredibly brutal and most probably well coordinated by the famous three letter agencies: CIA (via USAID and "Harvard mafia") ), MI6 and their German and French counterparts. See

Brain drain, especially to the USA and Israel was simply incredible. Which, while good for professionals leaving (although tales of Russian Ph.D swiping malls are not uncommon, especially in Israel ) , who can earn much better money abroad, is actually another form of neocolonialism for the countries affected:

[Jul 10, 2017] The article above also doesn't mention Larry Summers

www.unz.com

Maj. Kong , December 29, 2014 at 11:42 am GMT

Putin's biggest mistake was not creating the fake two party system. America has given the world many gifts, and our system of party politics is one of the best for maintaining control of a large nation. If Vlad had followed this advice, and created the real illusion of democracy in Russia, the West would have found him much harder to oppose.

http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/till-death-berezovsky-defends-backing-putin/?_r=0

Article is by Gessen, and clearly biased against Russia, but I think the idea is still a good one.

Putin has arguably aged badly as a leader, and considers himself too indispensable, much like Jiang Zemin in China. Though by Russian standards, he's the best since Alexander II.

Dutch disease is another mark against Russia, which Putin hasn't done much about, and which arguably makes them more dependent on the West (and possibly China) than they should be.

The article above also doesn't mention Larry Summers, which is a profound insight to which particular businessmen got away with it.

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2006/03/real-larry-summers-scandal.html

Maj. Kong , December 29, 2014 at 11:48 am GMT

http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/harvards-best-and-brightest-aided-russias-economic-ruin/

http://www.thenation.com/article/harvard-boys-do-russia

Back from when the left was more interested in hating capitalism, than the eeevil White Christian male.

[Jun 28, 2017] Considering that Russia was gang-raped by Bill Clinton's Oligarch friends .a gang rape that caused a demographic collapse of the Russian population .Russia's subsequent recovery has been miraculous

Jun 28, 2017 | www.unz.com

War for Blair Mountain

June 22, 2017 at 10:44 pm GMT

@Mr. Hack


The only thing that Russia wanted from Ukraine is not to allow themselves to become threat to Russia by joining NATO. Ukraine, having wasted all other options for normal development, couldn't resist taking the offer of cashing in on becoming a threat to Russia. Ukraine tries to justify this based on some past historical grievances from the 1930's.
What total lunacy and hippocracy. Do I really need to remind you that before 2014 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO membership was not a popular option for most Ukrainians. But now, after the deceitful land grab by Russia of Crimea and three years of proxy directed war in Donbas orchestrated in Moscow, most Ukrainians now look favorably towards NATO membership. Latest polls show that 55.9% o Ukrainians now favor NATO integration (I think that pre 2014 it was less than 15%) and 66.4% now favor EU integration. You reap what you sew, Putinista fanboys. Bye, bye 'NovoRossiya'! http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2017/06/17/7147228/ The engine that drove the US into an economic power house was decades of violating free market principles

The engine that drove German economic success was being bailed out by the US right after WW2..

Considering that Russia was gang-raped by Bill Clinton's Oligarch friends .a gang rape that caused a demographic collapse of the Russian population .Russia's subsequent recovery has been miraculous

OOPS These comments were meant for Priss Factor not Mr. Hack

[Jun 26, 2017] After the collapse of the USSR neoliberal vultures instantly circled the corpse and have had a feast. Geopolitical goals of the USA played important role in amplifying the scope of plunder of Russia

Notable quotes:
"... The reasoning was simple and is not hard to understand: Carthago delenda est. ..."
"... In a way McCain can be viewed now as a caricature of the Roman senator Cato the Elder, who is said to have used it as the conclusion to all his speeches. ..."
Jun 26, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne -> anne... , June 25, 2017 at 04:31 PM

1994

China's experience does not show that gradual reform is superior to the shock therapy undertaken in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union....

-- Jeffrey Sachs and Wing Thye Woo

[ Of course, China's experience had already showed and continues all these years after just the opposite. This is very, very important. ]

libezkova -> anne... , June 26, 2017 at 08:09 AM
Your discussion just again had shown that there is no economics, only a political economy.

And all those neoliberal perversions, which are sold as an economic science is just an apologetics for the financial oligarchy.

Apologetics of plunder in this particular case.

In a way the USSR with its discredited communist ideology, degenerated Bolshevik leadership (just look at who was at the Politburo of CPSU at the time; people much lower in abilities then Trump :-) and inept and politically naïve Mikhail Gorbachev at the helm had chosen the most inopportune time to collapse :-)

And neoliberal vultures instantly circled the corpse and have had a feast. Geopolitical goals of the USA also played important role in amplifying the scope of plunder.

No comparison of performance of Russia vs. China makes any sense if it ignores this fact.

Paine -> anne... , June 25, 2017 at 06:30 PM
Lesson for the week

Deng ?
yes

Sachs ?
Nyet

anne -> Paine ... , June 25, 2017 at 07:11 PM
While I would argue with the economic advice given the Russian government after 1988, I am simply trying to understand the reasoning behind the advice, no more than that.
libezkova -> anne... , June 26, 2017 at 08:15 AM
The reasoning was simple and is not hard to understand: Carthago delenda est.

In a way McCain can be viewed now as a caricature of the Roman senator Cato the Elder, who is said to have used it as the conclusion to all his speeches.

History repeats "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."

[Jun 26, 2017] Jefferey Sachs shork therapy was a plunder of Russia

Unfortunatly Russia has its own fifth column of "Chicago boys" (called Chubasyata) to implement those distarous for common people measures
What Russia needed at the time was a Marshall plan. Instead Clinton mefia (Which at the very top included Rubin and Summers) adopted the plan to plunder and colonize Russia. It did not work.
economistsview.typepad.com

anne -> anne... June 25, 2017 at 04:31 PM

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jeffrey_Sachs2/publication/5060711_Structural_Factors_in_the_Economic_Reforms_of_China_Eastern_Europe_and_the_Former_Soviet_Union/links/572f9f5e08ae744151904b90/Structural-Factors-in-the-Economic-Reforms-of-China-Eastern-Europe-and-the-Former-Soviet-Union.pdf

1994

Structural factors in the economic reforms of China, Eastern Europe, and the Former Soviet Union
By Jeffrey Sachs and Wing Thye Woo

Discussion

By Stanley Fischer - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The facts with which Jeffrey Sachs and Wing Woo have to contend are, first, that Chinese economic reform has been successful in producing extraordinary growth - the greatest increase in economic well-being within a 15-year period in all of history (perhaps excluding the period after the invention of fire); but second, that reform in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union (EEFSU) has been accompanied not by growth but by massive output declines (in countries that are reforming as well as in those, such as Ukraine, which are not).

The interpretation of these facts with which they have to contend is that Chinese reform - described variously as piecemeal, pragmatic, bottom-up, or gradual - has been successful because it has been gradualist and EEFSU reform has failed because it has applied shock treatment. The conclusion is that EEFSU should have pursued a gradualist reform strategy, perhaps one that started with economic rather than political reform. Many also imply that there is still time for gradualism.

Sachs and Woo reject the view that economic reform in EEFSU should have been gradualist, though they do approve of the gradualist Chinese approach to the creation of a non-state industrial sector. They argue that the structure of the economy was responsible for the success of the Chinese reform strategy, and that there are no useful lessons for EEFSU from the Chinese case.

Reform in China started in an economy in which 80 percent of the population was rural, in which planning had never been pervasive, and in which economic control was in any case quite decentralized. Further, Chinese industrial growth has come largely from new firms, largely town and village enterprises, and there has been no reform of the state-owned enterprise (SOE) sector. In EEFSU by contrast, the industrial sector was extremely large, and there was no hope of starting a significant private sector without restructuring industry.

The authors make this argument with the aid of a model, basically one that says that the private sector in a reforming EEFSU economy is so heavily taxed that it does not pay an individual to move to that sector from the subsidized industrial sector. In China by contrast, agricultural reform freed up labour whose opportunity cost was below the earnings available in the industrial private (or at least TVE) sector - and in addition, because the SOE sector was relatively small, the industrial private sector was taxed less than in EEFSU. The model is linear and ignores uncertainty, but there can be no doubt that it is very difficult to start new firms in much of EEFSU. That, more than the earnings of an individual already in that sector, seems to be the equivalent of the tax that Sachs and Woo include; indeed, earnings for those who succeed in moving to the private sector are typically higher than they are in the state sector.

Sachs and Woo also argue that the data exaggerate China's success and EEFSU's output declines. I was initially inclined to discount this argument, but now believe it has a real basis, and that all that needs doing is to fill in the numbers....

Reply Sunday, June 25, 2017 at 04:17 PM anne -> anne... , June 25, 2017 at 04:25 PM
Reading the paper by Samuel Marden, which was important in understanding the economic transformation of China, was also an important experience in understanding why Jeffrey Sachs, Wing Thye Woo and Stanley Fischer expressly rejected the Chinese experience in looking to a development model for the Soviet Union as the Soviet Union was geographically transformed.

The Chinese development model worked dramatically well, the Soviet model that Sachs, Wing and Fischer supported was as dramatically disruptive and self-defeating.

anne -> anne... , June 25, 2017 at 04:31 PM
1994

China's experience does not show that gradual reform is superior to the shock therapy undertaken in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union....

-- Jeffrey Sachs and Wing Thye Woo

[ Of course, China's experience had already showed and continues all these years after just the opposite. This is very, very important. ]

[Jun 26, 2017] After 1991 Eastern Europe and FSU were mercilessly looted. That was tremendous one time transfer of capital (and scientists and engineers) to Western Europe and the USA. Which helped to secure Clinton prosperity period

Notable quotes:
"... If America were a free and democratic country, with a free press and independent publishing houses (and assuming, of course, that Americans were a literate people), Williamson's book would topple the Clinton regime, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the rest of the criminal cabal that inhabits the world of modern corporate statism faster than you could say "Jonathan Hay." ..."
"... Hay, for those who need an introduction to the international financial buccaneers who control our lives, was the general director of the Harvard Institute of International Development (HIID) in Moscow (1992-1997), who facilitated the crippling of the Russian economy and the plundering of its industrial and manufacturing infrastructure with a strategy concocted by Larry Summers, Andre Schliefer (HIID's Cambridge-based manager), Jeffrey Sachs and his Swedish sidekick Anders Aslund, and a host of private players from banks and investment houses in Boston and New York - a plan approved and assisted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. ..."
"... These third-generation Bolsheviks - led by former Pravda hack Yegor Gaidar, grandson of a Bolshevik who achieved prominence as the teenage mass murderer of White Army officers, now heads the Moscow-based Institute for Economies in Transition - became instant millionaires (or billionaires) and left the Russian workers virtual slaves of them and their new foreign investors. ..."
"... Ironically, when Harvard's Sachs and Hay started identifying Russians they could work with, they ignored - or shunned - the most capable talent at hand: those numerous Russian economists who for 20 years had been studying the Swiss economist Wilhelm von Roepke and his disciple, Ludwig Erhard, father of Germany's "economic miracle" in anticipation of the day when Communism would collapse. Somewhat sardonically, Williamson notes that one, probably unintended, benefit of Gorbachev's perestroika was the recruitment of these Russian economists by top U.S. universities. ..."
"... On another level, Contagion is about the workings of international finance, the consolidation of capital into fewer and fewer hands, and the ruthless, death-dealing policies it inflicts on its target countries through currency manipulation, inflation, depression, taxation and war - with emphasis on Russia but with attention also given to Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, the Balkans, and other countries, and how it uses its control over money to produce social chaos. ..."
"... Those who read Williamson's book will find particularly interesting her treatment of the Federal Reserve, and how this "bank" was designed to plunder the wealth of America through war, debt, and taxation, in order to maintain what is nothing more nor less than a giant pyramid scheme that depends on domination of the earth and its resources. ..."
"... The policies inflicted on Russia by the banks were cruel to the Nth degree; but the policy implementers - Williamson employs the derogatory Russian word m yakigolovy ("soft-headed ones") applied to the Americans - were a foppish lot, streaming into Russia by the thousands (the IMF, alone, with 150 staffers) with their outrageous salaries and per diem allowances, renting out the finest dachas, bringing in their exotic consumer goods, driving up prices for goods and rents, spurring a boom in the drug and prostitution businesses, and then watching, cold-heartedly, the declining fortunes of their hosts as they lost everything - including the artistic heritage of the country. ..."
"... Gore, who was raised to be President, has impeccable Russian connections. His father, of course, was Lenin financier Armand Hammer's pocket senator, and it was Hammer who paid for Al Jr.'s expensive St. Alban's Prep schooling; and, as Williamson reports, Al Jr.'s daughter married Andrew Schiff, grandson of Jacob, who, as a member of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., underwrote anti-czarist political agitation for two decades before Lenin's coup, and congratulated Lenin upon his successful revolution. ..."
"... By March 1999, Russia was now a financial basket case, and billions, if not tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer-backed loans had vanished into the secret bank accounts of both Russian and American gangster capitalists, and the news was starting to make little vibrations on Capitol Hill. "The U.S. administration's response to the debacle was repulsively similar to a typical Bill Clinton bimbo-eruption operation: Having ruined Russia by cosseting her in debt, meddling ignorantly in her internal affairs, and funding a drunken usurper, his agents denied all error and slandered ('slimed') her," writes Williamson. ..."
"... The cost to the American taxpayers of Clinton regime bailouts in a three-and-a-half-year period, Williamson notes, is more than $180 billion! The "new financial architecture" Clinton has erected, she writes, "isn't new at all, but rather something the international public lenders have been wanting for decades, i.e., an automatic bailout for their own bad practices." ..."
"... As the extent of the corruption of the Clinton-Yeltsin "reform" plan for Russia unfolded last year, with the attendant Bank of New York scandal, the mysterious death of super banker Edmond Safra in his Monte Carlo penthouse, the collapse of the Russian stock market, and the whiplash effect in Southeast Asia, Congress was pressed to hold hearings. ..."
"... What resulted, as Williamson accurately narrates it, was just a smoke screen, show hearings that barely rose above the seriousness of a Gilbert and Sullivan farce - though they did result in proposed new domestic banking laws that, if passed, will effectively make banks another federal police force responsible for reporting to the U.S. government the most minute financial transactions of U.S. citizens. ..."
"... In this regard, it is instructive to quote Williamson at length: "If the FBI, [Manhattan District Attorney] Robert Morgenthau, or Congress were serious about getting to the bottom of the plundering of Russia's assets and U.S. taxpayers' resources, they would show far more professional interest in exactly what was said and agreed in the private meetings [U.S. Treasury secretary] Larry Summers, Strobe Talbott, and [former Treasury Secretary] Robert Rubin conducted with Anatoly Chubais [former Russian finance minister, who oversaw the distribution and sale of Russian industries], and Sergie Vasiliev [Yeltsin's principal legal adviser, and a member of the Chubais clan], and later Chubais again in June and July of 1998. ..."
"... And why did Michel Camdessus [who left the presidency of the IMF earlier this year] announce his sudden retirement so soon after Moscow newspapers reported that a $200,000 payment was made to him from a secret Kremlin bank account? . . . ..."
"... You see, as this book explains, the Clinton's Russia policy did not just plunder Russians, leaving them destitute while creating a new and ruthless class of international capitalist gangsters at U.S. taxpayer expense; it had the double consequence of bringing all Americans deeper into the bankers' New World Order by increasing their debt load, decreasing their privacy, and restricting their civil rights. If only Americans cared. ..."
Jun 25, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

libezkova -> anne..., June 25, 2017 at 06:47 PM

After 1991 Eastern Europe and FSU were mercilessly looted. That was tremendous one time transfer of capital (and scientists and engineers) to Western Europe and the USA. Which helped to secure "Clinton prosperity period"

China were not plundered by the West. Russia and Eastern Europe were. That's the key difference.

For Russia this period was called by Anne Williamson in her testimony before the Committee on Banking and Financial Services of the United States House of Representatives "The economic rape of Russia"

http://thebirdman.org/Index/Others/Others-Doc-Economics&Finance/+Doc-Economics&Finance-GovernmentInfluence&Meddling/BankstersInRussiaAndGlobalEconomy.htm

Paul Likoudis has an interesting analysis of this event: https://paullikoudis.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/the-plunder-of-russia-in-the-1990s/

Sorry long quote

How Clinton & Company & The Bankers Plundered Russia by Paul Likoudis

May 4, 2000

The other day I was surprised to learn that Jeffrey Sachs, the creator of "shock therapy" capitalism, who participated in the looting of Russia in the 1990s, is now NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo's top adviser for health care. So we in NY will get shock therapy, much as the Russians did two decades ago. Here is a story I wrote for The Wanderer in 2000:

===

How Clinton & Company & The Bankers Plundered Russia

by Paul Likoudis

In an ordinary election year, Anne Williamson's Contagion would be political dynamite, a bombshell, a block-buster, a regime breaker.

If America were a free and democratic country, with a free press and independent publishing houses (and assuming, of course, that Americans were a literate people), Williamson's book would topple the Clinton regime, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the rest of the criminal cabal that inhabits the world of modern corporate statism faster than you could say "Jonathan Hay."

Hay, for those who need an introduction to the international financial buccaneers who control our lives, was the general director of the Harvard Institute of International Development (HIID) in Moscow (1992-1997), who facilitated the crippling of the Russian economy and the plundering of its industrial and manufacturing infrastructure with a strategy concocted by Larry Summers, Andre Schliefer (HIID's Cambridge-based manager), Jeffrey Sachs and his Swedish sidekick Anders Aslund, and a host of private players from banks and investment houses in Boston and New York - a plan approved and assisted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Contagion can be read on many different levels.

At its simplest, it is a breezy, slightly cynical, highly entertaining narrative of Russian history from the last months of Gorbachev's rule to April 2000 - a period which saw Russia transformed from a decaying socialist economy (which despite its shortcomings, provided a modest standard of living to its citizens) to a "managed economy" where home-grown gangsters and socialist theoreticians from the West, like Hay and his fellow Harvardian Jeffrey Sachs, delivered 2,500% inflation and indescribable poverty, and transferred the ownership of Russian industry to Western financiers.

Williamson was an eyewitness who lived on and off in Russia for more than ten years, where she reported on all things Russian for The New York Times, Th e Wall Street Journal, and a host of other equally reputable publications. She knew and interviewed just about everybody involved in this gargantuan plundering scheme: Russian politicians and businessmen, the new "gangster" capitalists and their American sponsors from the IMF, the World Bank, USAID, Credit Suisse First Boston, the CIA, the KGB - all in all, hundreds of sources who spoke candidly, often ruthlessly, of their parts in this terrible human drama.

Her account is filled with quotations from interviews with top aides of Yeltsin and Clinton, all down through the ranks of the two hierarchical societies to the proliferating mass of Russian destitute, pornographers, pimps, drug dealers, and prostitutes. Some of the principal characters, of course, refused to talk to Williamson, such as Bill Clinton's longtime friend from Oxford, Strobe Talbott, now a deputy secretary of state and, Williamson suspects, a onetime KGB operative whose claim to fame is a deceitful translation of the Khrushchev Memoirs. (A KGB colonel refused to confirm or deny to Williamson that Clinton and Talbott visited North Vietnam together in 1971 - though he did confirm their contacts with the KGB for their protests against the U.S. war in Vietnam in Moscow. See especially footnote 1, page 210.)

The 546-page book (the best part of which is the footnotes) gives a nearly day-by-day report on what happened to Russia; left unstated, but implied on every page, is the assumption that those in the United States who think what happened in Russia "can't happen here" better realize it can happen here.

Once the Clinton regime and its lapdogs in the media defined Russian thug Boris Yeltsin as a "democrat," the wholesale looting of Russia began. According to the socialist theoreticians at Harvard, Russia needed to be brought into the New World Order in a hurry; and what better way to do it than Sachs' "shock therapy" - a plan that empowered the degenerate, third-generation descendants of the original Bolsheviks by assigning them the deeds of Russia's mightiest state-owned industries - including the giant gas, oil, electrical, and telecommunications industries, the world's largest paper, iron, and steel factories, the world's richest gold, silver, diamond, and platinum mines, automobile and airplane factories, etc. - who, in turn, sold some of their shares of the properties to Westerners for a song, and pocketed the cash, while retaining control of the companies.

These third-generation Bolsheviks - led by former Pravda hack Yegor Gaidar, grandson of a Bolshevik who achieved prominence as the teenage mass murderer of White Army officers, now heads the Moscow-based Institute for Economies in Transition - became instant millionaires (or billionaires) and left the Russian workers virtual slaves of them and their new foreign investors.

When Russian members of the Supreme Soviet openly criticized the looting of the national patrimony by these new gangsters early in the U.S.-driven "reform" program, in 1993, before all Soviet institutions were destroyed, Yeltsin bombed Parliament.

Ironically, when Harvard's Sachs and Hay started identifying Russians they could work with, they ignored - or shunned - the most capable talent at hand: those numerous Russian economists who for 20 years had been studying the Swiss economist Wilhelm von Roepke and his disciple, Ludwig Erhard, father of Germany's "economic miracle" in anticipation of the day when Communism would collapse. Somewhat sardonically, Williamson notes that one, probably unintended, benefit of Gorbachev's perestroika was the recruitment of these Russian economists by top U.S. universities.

In the new, emerging global economy, it's clear that Russia is the designated center for heavy manufacturing - just as Asia is for clothing and computers - with its nearly unlimited supply of hydroelectric power, iron and steel, timber, gold and other precious metals.

This helps explain why America's political elites don't give a fig about the closing down of American industries and mines. As Williamson observes, Russia is viewed as some kind of "closet."

What is important for Western readers to understand - as Williamson reports - is that when Western banks and corporations bought these companies at bargain basement prices, they bought more than just industrial equipment. In the Soviet model, every unit of industrial production included workers' housing, churches, opera houses, schools, hospitals, supermarkets, etc., and the whole kit-and-caboodle was included in the selling price. By buying large shares of these companies, Western corporations became, ipso facto, town managers.

Another Level

On another level, Contagion is about the workings of international finance, the consolidation of capital into fewer and fewer hands, and the ruthless, death-dealing policies it inflicts on its target countries through currency manipulation, inflation, depression, taxation and war - with emphasis on Russia but with attention also given to Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, the Balkans, and other countries, and how it uses its control over money to produce social chaos.

Those who read Williamson's book will find particularly interesting her treatment of the Federal Reserve, and how this "bank" was designed to plunder the wealth of America through war, debt, and taxation, in order to maintain what is nothing more nor less than a giant pyramid scheme that depends on domination of the earth and its resources.

Williamson is of that small but noble school of economics writers who believe that the academic field of economics is not some esoteric science that can only be comprehended by those with IQs in four digits, and she - drawing on such writers as Hayek and von Mises, Roepke and the late American Murray Rothbard - explains in layman's vocabulary the nuts and bolts of sound economic principles and the real-world effects of the Fed's policies on hapless Americans.

Contagion also serves up a severe indictment of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the other international "lending" agencies spawned by the Council on Foreign Relations and similar "councils" and "commissions" which are fronts for the big banks run by the Houses of Rockefeller, Morgan, Warburg, et al.

The policies inflicted on Russia by the banks were cruel to the Nth degree; but the policy implementers - Williamson employs the derogatory Russian word m yakigolovy ("soft-headed ones") applied to the Americans - were a foppish lot, streaming into Russia by the thousands (the IMF, alone, with 150 staffers) with their outrageous salaries and per diem allowances, renting out the finest dachas, bringing in their exotic consumer goods, driving up prices for goods and rents, spurring a boom in the drug and prostitution businesses, and then watching, cold-heartedly, the declining fortunes of their hosts as they lost everything - including the artistic heritage of the country.

Williamson describes brilliantly that heady atmosphere in Moscow in the early days of the IMF/USAID loan-scamming: a 24-hour party. There were bars like the Canadian-operated Hungry Duck, which lured Russian teenage girls into its bar with a male striptease and free drinks, "who, once thoroughly intoxicated, were then exposed to crowds of anxious young men the club admitted only late in the evening."

The Third Level

At a third and more intriguing level, Contagion is about America's criminal politics in the Clinton regime, and, inevitably, the reader will put Williamson's book down with the sense that Al Gore will be the next occupier of the White House.

Gore, who was raised to be President, has impeccable Russian connections. His father, of course, was Lenin financier Armand Hammer's pocket senator, and it was Hammer who paid for Al Jr.'s expensive St. Alban's Prep schooling; and, as Williamson reports, Al Jr.'s daughter married Andrew Schiff, grandson of Jacob, who, as a member of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., underwrote anti-czarist political agitation for two decades before Lenin's coup, and congratulated Lenin upon his successful revolution.

Williamson also documents Gore's intimate involvement with powerful Wall Street financial houses, and his New York breakfast meeting with multibillionaire George Soros (a key Russian player) just as the Russian collapse was underway.

Williamson tells an interesting story of Gore's response to the IMF/World Bank/USAID plunder of U.S. taxpayers for the purpose of hobbling Russia.

By March 1999, Russia was now a financial basket case, and billions, if not tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer-backed loans had vanished into the secret bank accounts of both Russian and American gangster capitalists, and the news was starting to make little vibrations on Capitol Hill. "The U.S. administration's response to the debacle was repulsively similar to a typical Bill Clinton bimbo-eruption operation: Having ruined Russia by cosseting her in debt, meddling ignorantly in her internal affairs, and funding a drunken usurper, his agents denied all error and slandered ('slimed') her," writes Williamson.

"Pundits and academics joined government officials in bemoaning Mother Russia's thieving ways, her bottomless corruption and constant chaos, all the while wringing their soft hands with a schoolmarm's exasperation. Russia's self-appointed democracy coach Strobe Talbott ('Pro-Consul Strobe' to the Russians) would get it right. An equally sanctimonious Albert Gore - the same Al Gore who'd been so quick to return the CIA's 1995 report detailing Viktor Chernomyrdin's and Anatoly Chubais' personal corruption with the single word 'Bullshit' scrawled across it - took the low road and sniffed that the Russians would just have to get their own economic house in order and cut their own deal with the IMF. . . ."

The cost to the American taxpayers of Clinton regime bailouts in a three-and-a-half-year period, Williamson notes, is more than $180 billion! The "new financial architecture" Clinton has erected, she writes, "isn't new at all, but rather something the international public lenders have been wanting for decades, i.e., an automatic bailout for their own bad practices."

As the extent of the corruption of the Clinton-Yeltsin "reform" plan for Russia unfolded last year, with the attendant Bank of New York scandal, the mysterious death of super banker Edmond Safra in his Monte Carlo penthouse, the collapse of the Russian stock market, and the whiplash effect in Southeast Asia, Congress was pressed to hold hearings.

What resulted, as Williamson accurately narrates it, was just a smoke screen, show hearings that barely rose above the seriousness of a Gilbert and Sullivan farce - though they did result in proposed new domestic banking laws that, if passed, will effectively make banks another federal police force responsible for reporting to the U.S. government the most minute financial transactions of U.S. citizens.

Double Effect

In this regard, it is instructive to quote Williamson at length: "If the FBI, [Manhattan District Attorney] Robert Morgenthau, or Congress were serious about getting to the bottom of the plundering of Russia's assets and U.S. taxpayers' resources, they would show far more professional interest in exactly what was said and agreed in the private meetings [U.S. Treasury secretary] Larry Summers, Strobe Talbott, and [former Treasury Secretary] Robert Rubin conducted with Anatoly Chubais [former Russian finance minister, who oversaw the distribution and sale of Russian industries], and Sergie Vasiliev [Yeltsin's principal legal adviser, and a member of the Chubais clan], and later Chubais again in June and July of 1998.

"Instead of allowing Larry Summers to ramble casually in response to questions at a banking committee hearing, the Treasury secretary should be asked exactly who suckered him - his Russian friends, his own boss [former Harvard associate Robert Rubin, his boss at Treasury who was once cochairman at Goldman Sachs], or private sector counterparts of the Working Committee on Financial Markets [a White House group whose membership is drawn from the country's main financial and market institutions: the Fed, Treasury, SEC, and the Commodities & Trading Commission]. . . . Or did he just bungle the entire matter on account of wishful thinking? Or was it gross incompetence?

"The FBI and Congress ought to be very interested in establishing for taxpayers the truth of any alleged 'national security' issues that justified allowing the Harvard Institute of International Development to privatize U.S. bilateral assistance. It too should be their brief to discover the relationship between the [Swedish wheeler-dealer and crony of Sachs, Anders] Aslund/Carnegie crowd and Treasury and exactly what influence that relationship may have had on the awarding of additional grants to Harvard without competition. On what basis did Team Clinton direct their financial donor, American International Group's (AIG) Maurice Greenberg (a man nearly as ubiquitous as any Russian oligarch in sweetheart public-funding deals), to Brunswick Brokerage when sniffing out a $300 million OPIC guarantee for a Russian investment fund. . . .

And why did Michel Camdessus [who left the presidency of the IMF earlier this year] announce his sudden retirement so soon after Moscow newspapers reported that a $200,000 payment was made to him from a secret Kremlin bank account? . . .

"American and Russian citizens can never be allowed to learn what really happened to the billions lent to Yeltsin's government; it would expose the unsavory and self-interested side of our political, financial, and media elites. . . . Instead, the [House] Banking Committee hearings will use the smoke screen of policing foreign assistance flows to pass legislation that will effectively end U.S. citizens' financial privacy while making them prisoners of their citizenship. . . . The Banking Committee will use the opportunity the Russian dirty money scandal presents to reanimate the domestic 'Know Your Customer' program, which charges domestic banks with monitoring and reporting on the financial transactions in which middle-class Americans engage. This data is collected and used by various government agencies, including the IRS; meaning that if a citizen sells the family's beat-up station wagon or their 'starter' home, the taxman is alerted immediately that the citizen's filing should reflect the greater tax obligation in that year of the sale. . . . Other data on citizens for which the government has long thirsted will also be collected by government's newest police force, the banks. . . ."

You see, as this book explains, the Clinton's Russia policy did not just plunder Russians, leaving them destitute while creating a new and ruthless class of international capitalist gangsters at U.S. taxpayer expense; it had the double consequence of bringing all Americans deeper into the bankers' New World Order by increasing their debt load, decreasing their privacy, and restricting their civil rights. If only Americans cared.

[Jun 25, 2017] How Clinton's Bankers Plundered Russia by Paul Likoudis

Notable quotes:
"... You see, as this book explains, the Clinton's Russia policy did not just plunder Russians, leaving them destitute while creating a new and ruthless class of international capitalist gangsters at U.S. taxpayer expense; it had the double consequence of bringing all Americans deeper into the bankers' New World Order by increasing their debt load, decreasing their privacy, and restricting their civil rights. If only Americans cared. ..."
May 04, 2000 | economistsview.typepad.com

The other day I was surprised to learn that Jeffrey Sachs, the creator of "shock therapy" capitalism, who participated in the looting of Russia in the 1990s, is now NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo's top adviser for health care. So we in NY will get shock therapy, much as the Russians did two decades ago.

Here is a story I wrote for The Wanderer in 2000:

===

How Clinton & Company & The Bankers Plundered Russia

by Paul Likoudis

In an ordinary election year, Anne Williamson's Contagion would be political dynamite, a bombshell, a block-buster, a regime breaker.

If America were a free and democratic country, with a free press and independent publishing houses (and assuming, of course, that Americans were a literate people), Williamson's book would topple the Clinton regime, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the rest of the criminal cabal that inhabits the world of modern corporate statism faster than you could say "Jonathan Hay."

Hay, for those who need an introduction to the international financial buccaneers who control our lives, was the general director of the Harvard Institute of International Development (HIID) in Moscow (1992-1997), who facilitated the crippling of the Russian economy and the plundering of its industrial and manufacturing infrastructure with a strategy concocted by Larry Summers, Andre Schliefer (HIID's Cambridge-based manager), Jeffrey Sachs and his Swedish sidekick Anders Aslund, and a host of private players from banks and investment houses in Boston and New York - a plan approved and assisted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Contagion can be read on many different levels.

At its simplest, it is a breezy, slightly cynical, highly entertaining narrative of Russian history from the last months of Gorbachev's rule to April 2000 - a period which saw Russia transformed from a decaying socialist economy (which despite its shortcomings, provided a modest standard of living to its citizens) to a "managed economy" where home-grown gangsters and socialist theoreticians from the West, like Hay and his fellow Harvardian Jeffrey Sachs, delivered 2,500% inflation and indescribable poverty, and transferred the ownership of Russian industry to Western financiers.

Williamson was an eyewitness who lived on and off in Russia for more than ten years, where she reported on all things Russian for The New York Times, Th e Wall Street Journal, and a host of other equally reputable publications. She knew and interviewed just about everybody involved in this gargantuan plundering scheme: Russian politicians and businessmen, the new "gangster" capitalists and their American sponsors from the IMF, the World Bank, USAID, Credit Suisse First Boston, the CIA, the KGB - all in all, hundreds of sources who spoke candidly, often ruthlessly, of their parts in this terrible human drama.

Her account is filled with quotations from interviews with top aides of Yeltsin and Clinton, all down through the ranks of the two hierarchical societies to the proliferating mass of Russian destitute, pornographers, pimps, drug dealers, and prostitutes. Some of the principal characters, of course, refused to talk to Williamson, such as Bill Clinton's longtime friend from Oxford, Strobe Talbott, now a deputy secretary of state and, Williamson suspects, a onetime KGB operative whose claim to fame is a deceitful translation of the Khrushchev Memoirs. (A KGB colonel refused to confirm or deny to Williamson that Clinton and Talbott visited North Vietnam together in 1971 - though he did confirm their contacts with the KGB for their protests against the U.S. war in Vietnam in Moscow. See especially footnote 1, page 210.)

The 546-page book (the best part of which is the footnotes) gives a nearly day-by-day report on what happened to Russia; left unstated, but implied on every page, is the assumption that those in the United States who think what happened in Russia "can't happen here" better realize it can happen here.

Once the Clinton regime and its lapdogs in the media defined Russian thug Boris Yeltsin as a "democrat," the wholesale looting of Russia began. According to the socialist theoreticians at Harvard, Russia needed to be brought into the New World Order in a hurry; and what better way to do it than Sachs' "shock therapy" - a plan that empowered the degenerate, third-generation descendants of the original Bolsheviks by assigning them the deeds of Russia's mightiest state-owned industries - including the giant gas, oil, electrical, and telecommunications industries, the world's largest paper, iron, and steel factories, the world's richest gold, silver, diamond, and platinum mines, automobile and airplane factories, etc. - who, in turn, sold some of their shares of the properties to Westerners for a song, and pocketed the cash, while retaining control of the companies.

These third-generation Bolsheviks - led by former Pravda hack Yegor Gaidar, grandson of a Bolshevik who achieved prominence as the teenage mass murderer of White Army officers, now heads the Moscow-based Institute for Economies in Transition - became instant millionaires (or billionaires) and left the Russian workers virtual slaves of them and their new foreign investors.

When Russian members of the Supreme Soviet openly criticized the looting of the national patrimony by these new gangsters early in the U.S.-driven "reform" program, in 1993, before all Soviet institutions were destroyed, Yeltsin bombed Parliament.

Ironically, when Harvard's Sachs and Hay started identifying Russians they could work with, they ignored - or shunned - the most capable talent at hand: those numerous Russian economists who for 20 years had been studying the Swiss economist Wilhelm von Roepke and his disciple, Ludwig Erhard, father of Germany's "economic miracle" in anticipation of the day when Communism would collapse.

Somewhat sardonically, Williamson notes that one, probably unintended, benefit of Gorbachev's perestroika was the recruitment of these Russian economists by top U.S. universities.

In the new, emerging global economy, it's clear that Russia is the designated center for heavy manufacturing - just as Asia is for clothing and computers - with its nearly unlimited supply of hydroelectric power, iron and steel, timber, gold and other precious metals.

This helps explain why America's political elites don't give a fig about the closing down of American industries and mines. As Williamson observes, Russia is viewed as some kind of "closet."

What is important for Western readers to understand - as Williamson reports - is that when Western banks and corporations bought these companies at bargain basement prices, they bought more than just industrial equipment. In the Soviet model, every unit of industrial production included workers' housing, churches, opera houses, schools, hospitals, supermarkets, etc., and the whole kit-and-caboodle was included in the selling price. By buying large shares of these companies, Western corporations became, ipso facto, town managers.

Another Level

On another level, Contagion is about the workings of international finance, the consolidation of capital into fewer and fewer hands, and the ruthless, death-dealing policies it inflicts on its target countries through currency manipulation, inflation, depression, taxation and war - with emphasis on Russia but with attention also given to Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, the Balkans, and other countries, and how it uses its control over money to produce social chaos.

Those who read Williamson's book will find particularly interesting her treatment of the Federal Reserve, and how this "bank" was designed to plunder the wealth of America through war, debt, and taxation, in order to maintain what is nothing more nor less than a giant pyramid scheme that depends on domination of the earth and its resources.

Williamson is of that small but noble school of economics writers who believe that the academic field of economics is not some esoteric science that can only be comprehended by those with IQs in four digits, and she - drawing on such writers as Hayek and von Mises, Roepke and the late American Murray Rothbard - explains in layman's vocabulary the nuts and bolts of sound economic principles and the real-world effects of the Fed's policies on hapless Americans.

Contagion also serves up a severe indictment of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the other international "lending" agencies spawned by the Council on Foreign Relations and similar "councils" and "commissions" which are fronts for the big banks run by the Houses of Rockefeller, Morgan, Warburg, et al.

The policies inflicted on Russia by the banks were cruel to the Nth degree; but the policy implementers - Williamson employs the derogatory Russian word m yakigolovy ("soft-headed ones") applied to the Americans - were a foppish lot, streaming into Russia by the thousands (the IMF, alone, with 150 staffers) with their outrageous salaries and per diem allowances, renting out the finest dachas, bringing in their exotic consumer goods, driving up prices for goods and rents, spurring a boom in the drug and prostitution businesses, and then watching, cold-heartedly, the declining fortunes of their hosts as they lost everything - including the artistic heritage of the country.

Williamson describes brilliantly that heady atmosphere in Moscow in the early days of the IMF/USAID loan-scamming: a 24-hour party. There were bars like the Canadian-operated Hungry Duck, which lured Russian teenage girls into its bar with a male striptease and free drinks, "who, once thoroughly intoxicated, were then exposed to crowds of anxious young men the club admitted only late in the evening."

The Third Level

At a third and more intriguing level, Contagion is about America's criminal politics in the Clinton regime, and, inevitably, the reader will put Williamson's book down with the sense that Al Gore will be the next occupier of the White House.

Gore, who was raised to be President, has impeccable Russian connections. His father, of course, was Lenin financier Armand Hammer's pocket senator, and it was Hammer who paid for Al Jr.'s expensive St. Alban's Prep schooling; and, as Williamson reports, Al Jr.'s daughter married Andrew Schiff, grandson of Jacob, who, as a member of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., underwrote anti-czarist political agitation for two decades before Lenin's coup, and congratulated Lenin upon his successful revolution.

Williamson also documents Gore's intimate involvement with powerful Wall Street financial houses, and his New York breakfast meeting with multibillionaire George Soros (a key Russian player) just as the Russian collapse was underway.

Williamson tells an interesting story of Gore's response to the IMF/World Bank/USAID plunder of U.S. taxpayers for the purpose of hobbling Russia.

By March 1999, Russia was now a financial basket case, and billions, if not tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer-backed loans had vanished into the secret bank accounts of both Russian and American gangster capitalists, and the news was starting to make little vibrations on Capitol Hill. "The U.S. administration's response to the debacle was repulsively similar to a typical Bill Clinton bimbo-eruption operation: Having ruined Russia by cosseting her in debt, meddling ignorantly in her internal affairs, and funding a drunken usurper, his agents denied all error and slandered ('slimed') her," writes Williamson.

"Pundits and academics joined government officials in bemoaning Mother Russia's thieving ways, her bottomless corruption and constant chaos, all the while wringing their soft hands with a schoolmarm's exasperation. Russia's self-appointed democracy coach Strobe Talbott ('Pro-Consul Strobe' to the Russians) would get it right. An equally sanctimonious Albert Gore - the same Al Gore who'd been so quick to return the CIA's 1995 report detailing Viktor Chernomyrdin's and Anatoly Chubais' personal corruption with the single word 'Bullshit' scrawled across it - took the low road and sniffed that the Russians would just have to get their own economic house in order and cut their own deal with the IMF. . . ."

The cost to the American taxpayers of Clinton regime bailouts in a three-and-a-half-year period, Williamson notes, is more than $180 billion! The "new financial architecture" Clinton has erected, she writes, "isn't new at all, but rather something the international public lenders have been wanting for decades, i.e., an automatic bailout for their own bad practices."

As the extent of the corruption of the Clinton-Yeltsin "reform" plan for Russia unfolded last year, with the attendant Bank of New York scandal, the mysterious death of super banker Edmond Safra in his Monte Carlo penthouse, the collapse of the Russian stock market, and the whiplash effect in Southeast Asia, Congress was pressed to hold hearings.

What resulted, as Williamson accurately narrates it, was just a smoke screen, show hearings that barely rose above the seriousness of a Gilbert and Sullivan farce - though they did result in proposed new domestic banking laws that, if passed, will effectively make banks another federal police force responsible for reporting to the U.S. government the most minute financial transactions of U.S. citizens.

Double Effect

In this regard, it is instructive to quote Williamson at length: "If the FBI, [Manhattan District Attorney] Robert Morgenthau, or Congress were serious about getting to the bottom of the plundering of Russia's assets and U.S. taxpayers' resources, they would show far more professional interest in exactly what was said and agreed in the private meetings [U.S. Treasury secretary] Larry Summers, Strobe Talbott, and [former Treasury Secretary] Robert Rubin conducted with Anatoly Chubais [former Russian finance minister, who oversaw the distribution and sale of Russian industries], and Sergie Vasiliev [Yeltsin's principal legal adviser, and a member of the Chubais clan], and later Chubais again in June and July of 1998.

"Instead of allowing Larry Summers to ramble casually in response to questions at a banking committee hearing, the Treasury secretary should be asked exactly who suckered him - his Russian friends, his own boss [former Harvard associate Robert Rubin, his boss at Treasury who was once cochairman at Goldman Sachs], or private sector counterparts of the Working Committee on Financial Markets [a White House group whose membership is drawn from the country's main financial and market institutions: the Fed, Treasury, SEC, and the Commodities & Trading Commission]. . . . Or did he just bungle the entire matter on account of wishful thinking? Or was it gross incompetence?

"The FBI and Congress ought to be very interested in establishing for taxpayers the truth of any alleged 'national security' issues that justified allowing the Harvard Institute of International Development to privatize U.S. bilateral assistance. It too should be their brief to discover the relationship between the [Swedish wheeler-dealer and crony of Sachs, Anders] Aslund/Carnegie crowd and Treasury and exactly what influence that relationship may have had on the awarding of additional grants to Harvard without competition. On what basis did Team Clinton direct their financial donor, American International Group's (AIG) Maurice Greenberg (a man nearly as ubiquitous as any Russian oligarch in sweetheart public-funding deals), to Brunswick Brokerage when sniffing out a $300 million OPIC guarantee for a Russian investment fund. . . . And why did Michel Camdessus [who left the presidency of the IMF earlier this year] announce his sudden retirement so soon after Moscow newspapers reported that a $200,000 payment was made to him from a secret Kremlin bank account? . . .

"American and Russian citizens can never be allowed to learn what really happened to the billions lent to Yeltsin's government; it would expose the unsavory and self-interested side of our political, financial, and media elites. . . . Instead, the [House] Banking Committee hearings will use the smoke screen of policing foreign assistance flows to pass legislation that will effectively end U.S. citizens' financial privacy while making them prisoners of their citizenship. . . . The Banking Committee will use the opportunity the Russian dirty money scandal presents to reanimate the domestic 'Know Your Customer' program, which charges domestic banks with monitoring and reporting on the financial transactions in which middle-class Americans engage. This data is collected and used by various government agencies, including the IRS; meaning that if a citizen sells the family's beat-up station wagon or their 'starter' home, the taxman is alerted immediately that the citizen's filing should reflect the greater tax obligation in that year of the sale. . . . Other data on citizens for which the government has long thirsted will also be collected by government's newest police force, the banks. . . ."

You see, as this book explains, the Clinton's Russia policy did not just plunder Russians, leaving them destitute while creating a new and ruthless class of international capitalist gangsters at U.S. taxpayer expense; it had the double consequence of bringing all Americans deeper into the bankers' New World Order by increasing their debt load, decreasing their privacy, and restricting their civil rights. If only Americans cared.

[Jun 20, 2017] What Caused the Russian Revolution The Nation

Jun 20, 2017 | www.thenation.com

javascript:void(0)

What Caused the Russian Revolution? | The Nation --- The Sealed Train A century later, historians still disagree about what caused the Russian Revolution. By Sophie Pinkham By -- June 13, 2017 2 Comments --

On February 23, 1917, an unseasonably warm day, women at the Vyborg cotton mills in the Russian city of Petrograd (formerly St. Petersburg) marked the recently created International Women's Day. The meeting became a mass walkout; as the women headed for the Neva River, other people-men and women-joined their ranks. By noon, about 50,000 protesters were participating in a spontaneous strike. The police boarded streetcars, expelling anyone with calloused hands, and blocked the bridges across the frozen river, but the workers walked across the ice. The next day, nearly 75,000 people were on strike.

Czar Nicholas II sent Cossack horsemen to put the rebellion down, but they simply cantered through the crowds without using their swords or whips; they had chosen not to fight the people. Workers flocked into Petrograd for a three-day general strike. Demonstrators in homemade helmets and padded jackets waved red banners demanding an end to Russia's involvement in the world war. When police arrived, the Cossacks defended the protesters.

Revolutionary organizers were convinced that it was time to stop the strikes, believing that such action could never succeed without the support of the army. They were surprised by a mutiny in the elite Pavlovsky Regiment, whose cadets rebelled when they heard that their fellow soldiers had shot civilians. Mutiny in several other regiments ensued, with the mutineers killing their officers. By February 27, an estimated 25,000 garrison troops had defected. Workers, acting on their own, raided the armory and stormed the Kresty Prison, the courts, and the main artillery depot. The city was on fire. One English observer wrote: "As the streets cleared, little heaps, some very still, some writhing in agony, told of the toll of the machine guns."

Protesters stormed the Tauride Palace, home of the Duma, the consolation-prize parliament formed after the 1905 revolution. Panicked liberal politicians formed a provisional committee, hoping to maintain order as the imperial administration dissolved. The revolutionaries set up the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. Orthodox Marxists did not want this workers' council to attempt to take power immediately and begin building full socialism; in their view, that would have meant skipping a stage in the revolutionary process, since parliamentary democracy-the "bourgeois phase"-had to precede communism. However, the Duma committee wasn't eager to take responsibility for the increasingly volatile situation. Its members couldn't decide on what they wanted, either, with some hoping for a social-democratic system and others a constitutional monarchy. By March 2, it was clear that the existing system was untenable. Nicholas II abdicated, passing the throne to his brother, who took fright and refused the next day. The provisional government and the workers' council settled on an uneasy system of "dual power."

As its members hadn't been elected, the Duma committee had no claim to democratic authority, and it was clear that workers felt a greater allegiance to the Soviet. The people, most of whom had little understanding of the finer points of Marxism, wanted socialism, and quickly. From his exile in Zurich, Lenin expressed his disgust at the new arrangement. He sent a telegram to his Bolshevik comrades, declaring: "No trust in and no support for the provisional government. Kerensky especially suspect; arming the proletariat is the only guarantee no rapprochement with other parties." Lenin was virtually alone in his insistence that power pass into the hands of the workers immediately.

For a few brief months, Russia became one of the freest countries in the world. The provisional government granted amnesty to political prisoners, abolished the death penalty, banned flogging in prisons, ended the practice of deportation to Siberia, and dissolved the czarist secret police. It proclaimed equal rights and legal status for all nationalities and religions, ending the Jewish Pale of Settlement, and granted unlimited freedom of the press and public assembly.

Russia remained a nation at war, though the war had been the catalyst for revolution and peace was one of the primary demands of the strikers and demonstrators. The provisional government, the Petrograd Soviet, and others argued over whether the country should continue fighting the war-and, if so, on what terms. Many of the socialists had abandoned pacifism, insisting that the war had to be won and the motherland defended, and that allies could not be abandoned. Here again, Lenin was in a tiny minority. He had long called for an immediate end to the war. It was, in his view, "a struggle for markets and for the freedom to loot foreign countries," and its effect was "to deceive, disunite and slaughter the proletarians of all countries by setting the wage-slaves of one nation against those of another so as to benefit the bourgeoisie." But it wasn't peace that Lenin had in mind when he called for Russia's disengagement. Instead, he was plotting a civil war, the next step on his road map to international communism.

O ne hundred years after the Russian Revolution, historians are still arguing about what made this seismic political shift possible. For the most part, the crises, reversals, and surprises, along with the long strings of names, places, and deaths, are consistent from one account to another. But different historians-often with distinct political allegiances-offer very different answers to the question of why many of these events happened in the way they did. How historians narrate the story of the Russian Revolution tells us much about their philosophy of history, as well as about their attitude toward the revolutionary project and the politics of the left.

As its title suggests, Catherine Merridale's Lenin on the Train places Vladimir Ilyich at the center of the narrative, building toward his arrival at the Finland Station in April 1917. When Lenin, who had been living in Western Europe for 17 years, received the news of the February Revolution, he was desperate to return to Russia. It wasn't easy: Britain and France, which were relying on their alliance with Russia, had no wish to help a fierce opponent of the "imperialist war" return home. Lenin found that his only viable route back was through Germany, Sweden, and Finland, but traveling through Germany would leave him vulnerable to accusations that he was on the German payroll.

In fact, he and other Russian revolutionaries were being financed by the German government, which hoped that they would destabilize Russia and weaken its military efforts. The German government was also willing to arrange for Lenin's journey back to Petrograd. With his typical pragmatism, Lenin decided to make the trip, but he insisted on a "sealed train"-a fiction that would allow him to plausibly deny charges of collusion with the German enemy. (Germany's support would remain a closely guarded secret throughout the Soviet period.)

The Petrograd Soviet's executive committee was less than overjoyed at Lenin's return, fearing that he would further destabilize the situation. They were right. Upon his arrival in the Finland Station's waiting room, Lenin told the festive crowd, "The piratical imperialist war is the beginning of civil war throughout Europe." When he arrived at the headquarters of the Bolshevik central committee, he lectured for two hours straight, though it was already in the early morning and he'd just spent eight days on a train. Lenin denounced the provisional government and "revolutionary defencism" (the socialist argument for staying in the war). The Menshevik Nikolai Sukhanov wrote of Lenin's speech: "It seemed as if all the elements had risen from their abodes, and the spirit of universal destruction, knowing neither barriers nor doubts, neither human difficulties nor human calculations, was hovering above the heads of the bewitched disciples."

Lenin on the Train is full of vivid details like these, taken from the memoirs and letters of Lenin's contemporaries. In keeping with her cinematic approach, Merridale presents Lenin's train ride as the starting point of everything from the "infant Soviet state to world Cold War." She quotes Winston Churchill: "Full allowance must be made for the desperate stakes to which the German war leaders were already committed. Nevertheless it was with a sense of awe that they turned upon Russia the most grisly of all weapons. They transported Lenin in a sealed truck like a plague bacillus from Switzerland to Russia." Though Merridale is sympathetic to the desire for social equality that motivated the Russian left, she writes that Churchill's bacillus comparison has its merits, and she likens the German support to today's "global games," in which great powers finance local rebellions in order to destabilize their opponents. For Merridale, the story of Lenin's train journey is partly "a parable about great-power intrigue, and one rule there is that great powers almost always get things wrong."

Churchill's image of Lenin is clearly linked to his loathing of communism, the red plague. But the notion of Lenin, or communism, as a bacillus betrays a willful blindness to the larger constellation of factors that make profound social change possible. Merridale acknowledges as much in her book, but her narrative is nevertheless structured on the idea that Lenin brought with him a new social and political world. Lenin on the Train is often engaging and evocative, but as historical analysis, it is not entirely satisfying. Lenin was not Zeus, with the revolution bursting, fully formed, from his head. Charismatic, gifted, passionate, and ruthless though he was, Lenin was only one man, and one man is not enough to foment or sustain a revolution.

I n The Russian Revolution , Sean McMeekin strips Lenin of his usual role as central protagonist. McMeekin writes that Lenin was merely "an afterthought" in 1905 and "barely worth the attention of tsarist police agents" until he returned to Russia in April 1917. Dismissing him as "out-of-touch," McMeekin argues that Lenin would have had "little impact on the political scene had he not been furnished with German funds to propagandize the Russian army." Lenin and the Bolsheviks, he adds, "played no role worth mentioning in the fall of the tsar."

McMeekin's Lenin is neither brave nor diabolically clever; his main characteristic is unscrupulousness. The story of the revolution is not the story of a terrifyingly powerful Lenin, but rather of the failure of the czarist administration and the provisional government to kill him and other key revolutionaries. It is also the story of the disastrous decision by Russian liberals to convince Nicholas II to enter what would become the First World War.

McMeekin's account of the longer-term causes of the Russian Revolution also deviates from the standard narrative. He argues that the growth of revolutionary tendencies was not primarily the result of autocracy, Russian economic backwardness, the land question, labor politics, or socialist theories. In the early years of the 20th century, McMeekin writes, Russia was expanding its territory, modernizing, and increasing its population at breakneck speed; he compares it to China in the 21st century. Though the lot of the Russian worker was difficult, it was nevertheless comparable to that of workers throughout Europe. Russia was unusual only in that it had few intermediary institutions to buffer popular resentment of the czar. The famous bread shortages of Petrograd in the winter of 1917 were "mostly mythical." Drawing on newly discovered archival sources, he even argues that in 1916–17, morale in the army was on the rise, and that Russian soldiers were better fed than their German counterparts.

McMeekin also points out that the czarist secret police was small, though very efficient, and rather lenient. The death penalty was meted out rarely-in some cases, not even to political assassins-and most revolutionaries were sent into administrative exile, where they were free to work and agitate, albeit in Siberia. Exiles received a living allowance for clothes, food, and rent, and they could bring along family members or hire domestic servants. (Lenin brought his wife and mother along and hired a maid when he arrived.) Nothing was inevitable, in this telling; the tide could have turned at any moment. The Bolsheviks' victory was brought about by Lenin's skillful but risky effort, at a moment of Russian vulnerability, to transform the "imperialist war" into a civil war by infiltrating the armed forces and "turning the armies red," spurring mutinies and mass desertions by soldiers who took their weapons with them.

Upon his arrival at the Finland Station, Lenin was virtually alone in his insistence that society was already passing to the second stage of the revolution, when power would be placed in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest peasants. At the time, even many of his fellow Bolsheviks thought this was madness: There was no way that Russian workers were ready to form a dictatorship of the proletariat. But Lenin was unrelenting and, with his gift for oratory, he was able to persuade many ordinary people that he was right, turning them against the provisional government. Protests and counterprotests exploded into violence. Lenin's refusal to compromise with the provisional government or the pro-war "revolutionary defencists" made the Bolsheviks the only political party offering an alternative to dual power, which came to seem like a form of impotence or treachery in its failure to end the war, food shortages, and general disorder.

Lenin's liability was his history of German support, which Kerensky and others tried to use against him. (Indeed, throughout the Russian Revolution, Germany continued to send large sums to the revolutionaries.) Accused of treason and espionage, Lenin fled to Finland in July, and many of his comrades were imprisoned. Meanwhile, the foolish, foppish Kerensky unwittingly smoothed the way for the Bolsheviks, remaking himself as a dictator, moving into the Winter Palace, sleeping in the czar's bed, and traveling in the czar's train carriage. He reinstated the death penalty in an effort to get the armed forces under control, provoking much outrage.

After an absurd series of scandals and intrigues involving his own generals and officers, Kerensky released most of the Bolshevik prisoners, whose comrades had already made substantial progress in indoctrinating the rank and file of the army and navy. In September, the Bolsheviks won a major electoral victory, a sign of their surging popularity. In October, Lenin returned to Petrograd in disguise and argued forcefully that the Bolsheviks should seize power before the November elections. He feared that the Bolsheviks would never be able to win an election that included peasants, who were much more likely to support the Socialist Revolutionary Party than urban workers were. Lenin's arguments prevailed, though Trotsky managed to delay the seizure of power so that it happened two weeks later, on the day of the next meeting of the Second Congress of the Soviets. The planned coup was an open secret: Kerensky begged the British to help him negotiate an armistice in the war, understanding at last that peace offered his only hope of remaining in power.

In the early hours of October 25, 1917, armed Bolsheviks approached cadets guarding key choke points in Petrograd and told them that they were being relieved. Other Bolsheviks walked into the Central Telegraph Office and disconnected the phone lines to the Winter Palace. Kerensky sent a telegram summoning two Cossack regiments, but they refused to come to his aid; they were loyal to a general whom Kerensky had accused of treason. That same morning, Kerensky escaped Petrograd in a US embassy car. The Bolshevization of the armed forces had paid off, giving Lenin and his comrades the muscle they needed to finish off the Kerensky government.

But the economic situation was deteriorating rapidly, with factory closures and rampant inflation. Though they hadn't liked the Kerensky government much, civil servants went on strike to protest the Bolshevik coup, shutting down the trains until January 1918. Telegraph and telephone workers walked out on November 7, with transportation workers, schoolteachers, and Moscow's municipal workers following close on their heels. On November 8, the Union of Unions called for a general strike of government employees. As McMeekin puts it, "The world's first proletarian government was thus forced to devote its primary energies to strikebreaking."

Banks refused to release funds to the Bolsheviks; Lenin's commissars began taking bank employees hostage and demanding ransom. It was largely to break the bank strike that the Bolsheviks formed the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counterrevolution, Speculation, and Sabotage, better known as the Cheka, predecessor to the KGB. The Cheka was also responsible for containing the damage done by the Bolsheviks' defeat in the November 1917 elections, in which the party won only 24 percent of the vote, as opposed to 40 percent for the Socialist Revolutionaries, who had indeed maintained the loyalty of the peasants. The unfavorable result was explained away with allegations of electoral abuse and fraud, while the Cheka closed the Tauride Palace to prevent the opposition from gathering there.

The Bolsheviks' abandonment of democratic principles and their cavalier approach to coercion and violence played a central role in their victory, at least over the short term. McMeekin's focus on historical contingency and Bolshevik ruthlessness suggests that revolution is less about large-scale historical processes and more about cold-blooded political opportunism. At times, his adamant rejection of historical determinism looks like an overcorrection for Marxist orthodoxy. No revolution is inevitable, but it feels perverse to minimize longer-term factors so energetically. McMeekin's insistence that czarist Russia was doing well economically, and that workers and peasants had no more reason for complaint than their Western European counterparts, bears an unpleasant resemblance to today's attempts to dismiss the economic and social grievances of the masses with statistics showing that the economy is still expanding. McMeekin displays plenty of sympathy for the murdered czar and his family, but less for the millions of Russians who suffered under the czarist regime.

S .A. Smith's Russia in Revolution takes a more familiar line than McMeekin's, linking the origins of the revolution to czarist abuses. Smith emphasizes the agency of ordinary people in determining the trajectory of Russian history, devoting particular attention to workers, who did so much to further the revolution, and to the peasants, who rose up against the old order and then rebelled against the new one.

Smith marshals extensive economic, social, and cultural evidence to help explain the nature of the social transformation that led to the revolution and then to the Soviet order. Rejecting the Western tendency to see 1917 as the precondition that made the nightmare of Stalinism inevitable, Smith reminds us of the inspiring hope of socialism, the justified rage at an unjust order, and the roads not taken that might have led to a happier result.

If the tragedy for McMeekin is that the czarist regime and the liberal provisional government failed to stop the rise of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, the tragedy for Smith is the corruption of Russian revolutionary ideals. He takes the long view, privileging large-scale economic, social, and political trends over individual actors and contingent circumstances. He enumerates the ways in which violence was ingrained in the czarist order, especially for the lower classes. For him, as for the revolutionaries, violence wasn't only a matter of floggings or executions; it included poverty, malnutrition, workplace exploitation, preventable disease, and gender-based abuse. (His consistent attention to the experience of Russian women is laudable.)

For Smith, the February Revolution was the result of a crisis brought about by economic and social modernization and aggravated by the world war. Even as Russia attempted to keep up with the rest of the world-and maintain its status as a great power-the social system underpinning the autocracy was eroding with the emergence of new classes like industrial workers and a professionalized middle class. While McMeekin stresses the economic gains under Nicholas II, Smith focuses on the suffering caused by the demands of wartime, which angered the workers as well as a peasantry already disappointed by earlier land reforms. In Smith's view, the failure of Russian democracy in 1917 is best explained by the willingness of moderate socialists to continue the country's involvement in World War I, in keeping with their belief that the bourgeoisie was next in line for political power. Workers and peasants were told to wait their turn. It wasn't a surprise that these latter groups welcomed the more radical Bolshevik position.

Smith takes pains not to cast the Bolsheviks as the only perpetrators of violence in the revolution and ensuing civil war; the White armies, nationalists, peasants, and anarchist bandits also committed atrocities. In times of social disintegration, displacement, and starvation, mass violence is a familiar result and should not be viewed as the inevitable outcome of a socialist revolution. Rather than seeing Stalinism as predetermined by the Bolshevik seizure of power, Smith argues that after the Bolshevik regime began to stabilize Russian society, it veered back toward the violent, antidemocratic czarist order, itself a product of the country's distinctive geography, lack of capital, bloated bureaucracy, and religious and peasant traditions. Stalinism was thus the deformed offspring of Marxism and Russian political culture, warped by larger social, economic, and political factors that often had little to do with ideology.

Perhaps the hardest thing to understand about Lenin and the Bolsheviks is their insouciant attitude toward mass death, despite their adherence to a utopian philosophy that sought to eradicate human suffering. Smith explains that Lenin's philosophy was far from a pure Marxism; it was rooted in the nihilist-terrorist strain of Russian revolutionary thought as well as the millenarian ideas that were popular in Russia at the turn of the century. Lenin did not seek to make the lives of those already living better; he believed that revolution would cleanse the world of injustice and create an entirely new society.

This philosophy produced one of many historical examples indicating that while violence is often the most effective way of seizing power, antidemocratic coups do not usher in utopia; more often, they devolve into terror. Transformation born of violence is likely to end in violence. As the French socialist leader Jean Jaurès, assassinated in July 1914, warned, "If the social revolution emerges from this chaos instead of coming about as the supreme expression of progress, as a higher act of reason, justice, and wisdom, it will be part of this universal mental crisis, an excess of the contagious fury brought about by the suffering and violence of war."

T he lessons of 1917 also testify to the risks that accompany any political position that sees progress as a by-product of history. The movement from capitalism to socialism (and vice versa) is not inevitable and can be reversed; teleological thinking leads to strategic blunders and gross misinterpretations of reality. Still, politics and economics have their patterns; if these patterns can be understood, they can be adjusted or controlled. After a long banishment, Marx is returning to mainstream political discourse, as a new generation discovers that many of his observations about the predatory logic of capitalism still hold startlingly true.

Of the three books under review, Smith's is the most sympathetic to emancipatory politics, and it offers the most persuasive explanation of the Russian Revolution's origins and terrible failures. Smith's approach to history, with an emphasis on long-term factors and the experience of ordinary people, also feels the most relevant to our own historical moment. As in the early 20th century, we are living in an age in which mass movements and popular fury have a new currency. Politics cannot be contained in the sealed train cars of superpowers, and social movements cannot be treated as simple instruments in great games. Once again, economic inequality is a pressing political issue around the world. In American political discourse, Russia's cautionary tales are still used as blunt instruments to assert the impossibility of any kind of socialist revolution. A new generation of democratic socialists may glean more complicated lessons from 1917: not only about the dangerous magnetism of power and violence, but about the possibility of achieving a political transformation that spans continents. n

[Jun 13, 2017] Bill Clintons Troika of Harvard boys (Sachs, Summers and Rubin) and Soros role in economic rape of Russia

Notable quotes:
"... Soros was deeply immersed in the quicksand of corruption which engulfed Russia in the '90s. After years of preparation, he began his big power play in May 1989, when he began funding a young Harvard economist named Jeffery Sachs to develop an economic reform plan for Poland. Soros paid Sachs and his team through his newly founded Stefan Batory Foundation in Warsaw. The young economist favored "shock therapy", a sudden lifting of price controls, currency controls, trade restrictions and investment barriers that would plunge the country instantly into the icy waters of free-market competition. The idea was to get the pain of the transition over with as quickly as possible. Poland implemented Sach's plan on 1 January 1990. Hyperinflation immediately soared out of control. It was very tough on the population, but people were willing to take a lot of pain to see real change ", Soros wrote later. Ultimately, Poland's "Big Bang" was deemed a success. ..."
"... Gorbachev set out to achieve this but he went about things the wrong way and attempted to make too many radical changes too fast. Some of his hair brained schemes (whether this was done deliberately to cripple the country or just out of stupidity) like the alcohol ban lead to major discontent and unrest. Furthermore, and far worse, Gorbachev and many in his circle somehow got into bed with Western Globalists . I don't know where and how exactly this started, and I don't have much information to source this claim, but if one looks at how the Soviet Union ended up by the 1990's it's the only logical explanation. ..."
"... Gorbachev and his people - through a combination of idiocy, incompetency, delusions of grandeur and treachery - screwed the Soviet Union. The West moved quickly to pay off the leadership in former Soviet Republics (Ukraine in particular) to not remain in a Union State with Russia. In Russia, Yeltsin and the Jewish Oligarchy (funded by Rothschild & Globalist Kikery, just like the Communists were in the 1917 Revolution) somehow got into power after Gorbachev lost his grip on power and the rest is history. ..."
Jun 13, 2017 | thebeerbarrel.net

Ozzy Bon Halen

From the beginning Pres Clinton chose to deal with Russia and the former Soviet States through private back channels, circumventing normal State Dept procedures. He appointed what became known as a "troika", three officials endowed with extraordinary authority over US-Russia relations. This troika included Strobe Talbott at the State Department, Lawrence Summers at the Treasury and Vice Pres Al Gore. Talbott had been Bill Clinton's roommate and fellow Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. He was the first of the troika to be appointed, and was the leader of the group. On 19 January 1993, Clinton invented a new title for Talbott, naming him Ambassador-at-large to Russia. Business Week accordingly dubbed Talbott the Clinton Admin's "Russia Policy Czar".

To guide him through the mysterious byways of the former Soviet States, Talbott turned to a businessman with experience in the regio: George Soros. Talbott added that he considered Soros "....a National treasure".

The period of Soros' financial and political suzerainty coincided with Russia's wholesale collapse into corruption and anarchy. David Ignatius of The Washinggton Post held the Clinton Admin largely to blame. "Let's call it Russiagate", he wrote in an article of 25 August 1999, in which he decried, "the lawlessness of modern Russia and the acquiescence of the Clinton Admin in the process of decay and decline there". Ignatius concluded, "What makes the Russian case so sad is that the Clinton Admin may have squandered one of the most precious assets imaginable, which is the idealism and goodwill of the Russian people as they emerged from 70 years of Communist Rule. The Russian debacle may haunt us for generations".

Soros was deeply immersed in the quicksand of corruption which engulfed Russia in the '90s. After years of preparation, he began his big power play in May 1989, when he began funding a young Harvard economist named Jeffery Sachs to develop an economic reform plan for Poland. Soros paid Sachs and his team through his newly founded Stefan Batory Foundation in Warsaw. The young economist favored "shock therapy", a sudden lifting of price controls, currency controls, trade restrictions and investment barriers that would plunge the country instantly into the icy waters of free-market competition. The idea was to get the pain of the transition over with as quickly as possible. Poland implemented Sach's plan on 1 January 1990. Hyperinflation immediately soared out of control. It was very tough on the population, but people were willing to take a lot of pain to see real change ", Soros wrote later. Ultimately, Poland's "Big Bang" was deemed a success.

Soros and Sachs went to Moscow next, seeking to persuade Gorbachev to try shock therapy in the Soviet Union. Gorbachev rejected their plan which angered soros. Later, when Gorbachev tried to secure loans from Western Lenders, Soros undermined him, denouncing the Soviet Leader. Soros' attack damaged Gorbachev's reputation in the West, impeding his access to foreign aid. As the soviet economy faltered, Gorbachev's power weakened. Kremlin hardliners attempted a coup in august 1991, setting off a chain of reactions that resulted in Gorbachev's ouster. The coup itself failed, but the soviet Union split up, and Gorbachev was obliged to resign. Boris Yeltsin became Russia's new leader.

Yeltsin proved more cooperative than his predecessor. Now Soros and Sachs could finally get down to the serious business of implementing their shock therapy plan. Russia lifted its price controls on 2 January 1992. The life savings of ordinary Russians went up in smoke as inflation hit 2,500%. That was only the beginning. What followed was one of the greatest economic catastrophes in history.

Over the next four years, a cabal of corrupt officials and businessman, both Russian and American, used their govt connections to hijack Russia's privatization process for their own personal gain. They bought up the Crown Jewels of Russia's Economy for a fraction of their worth in rigged elections and stole billions of dollars from foreign aid loans earmarked for economic development projects. Russia scholar Peter Reddaway estimates that between 1992 and 1996, "although 57% of Russia's firms were privatized, the State budget received only $3-5 billion for them, because they were sold at nominal prices to corrupt cliques". By 1996, a group of 7 Russian businessman had managed to gain control of 60% of Russia's natural resources, including its precious oil and gas reserves. Through their manipulations behind the scenes, , this group exercised de facto control over the Russian gov , for which reason the Russians called them the "oligarchs". It is largely due to widespread disgust with the corrupt reign of the oligarchs that so many Russians today look favorably to Putin's iron fisted but orderly rule.

Throughout the 90s, Sachs and Soros wielded enormous influence in Russia. From 1995 to 1999, Sachs headed the Harvard Institute For International Development, through which Harvard University provided economic development assistance to needy countries. Much as Strobe Talbott delegated important aspects of US-Russia diplomacy to George Soros in the 90s, the US agency Intl Development likewise delegated to the Harvard Institute the job of overseeing Russia's transformation to a market economy. They put Sachs and his team in the position of official economic advisors to Boris Yeltsin, representing the US Govt. Russians called them the "Gavardniki"- the Harvard boys.

The Gavardniki could make or break Russian officials by deciding who would get foreign aid grants and who would not. Their influence over Yeltsin was such that he frequently bypassed the Russian Parliament, issuing Presidential decrees to enact the Harvard team's reforms. At times, the men from Harvard would even draft Yeltsin's decrees with their own hands. All of this meddling in Russia's internal affairs might have been excusable and even commendable, had the Gavardniki proved wise and trustworthy counselors. All too often, however, they used their influence to push bad policy for selfish reasons. The Harvard Institute's Russian operations quickly became a hotbed of corruption, as its envoys exploited its access to Yeltsin and the Russian Oligarchs for personal gain.

Jeffrey Sachs has not been accused of profiting personally from these activities. Nevertheless, the cloud of scandal which consumed the institute on his watch reflects poorly on his leadership, to say the least. Sachs resigned as director of the institute on 25 May 1999, even as the US Justice Dept were investigating their Russian operations. Harvard shut down the scandal ridden institute in January 2000, but not soon enough to avoid a Justice Dept lawsuit charging Institute personnel with fraudulent misuse of USAID funds. Harvard settled the case out of court for $26 million- a mere wrist slap considering the damage the institute had done to the Russian economy and to US-Russia relations. Oddly, Tthe Russian scandal left no perceptible marks on Prof Sachs' reputation.

The Soros empire was short lived. By 1998 federal investigators in the US were scrutinizing billions of dollars in illegal transfers flowing out of Russia through the Bank of New York and other large banks. As the magnitude of the pilferage began leaking into Western Media, foreign aid and foreign investment slowed to a trickle. Everything finally came to a screeching halt on "Black Monday", 17 Agust 1998, when Russia was forced to devalue the ruble and default on its debt. Rep Jim Leach, head of the House Banking Committee, announced Sept 1, 1999 that that the Russia scandal could prove to be "one of the greatest social robberies in history". Based on preliminary inquiries, Leach declared that he was "very confident" that at least $100 billion had been laundered out of Russia, an unknown portion of which may have been diverted from the IMF and other foreign aid loans.

Journalist Anne Williamson, appearing before Leach's House Banking Committee, explained to a panel of stunned congressmen how so many US taxpayer dollars had managed to go missing in Russia. She told the committee that the Clintons had managed to set up an "International Patronage Machine". Clintonites in the guise of "consultants" to the Russian Govt requested and received loans, virtually at will, through such International lending agencies as the IMF, the World Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Export-Import Bank. Few questioned the loans, said Williamson, because the Clinton administration had designated Russian "privatization" a "national security" priority. Much of the money simpply vanished into offshore accounts or the NYSE. Other monies were invested in Russian junk bonds, privatization auctions or other lucrative schemes. A handful of inside players, Russian and American alike, got rich, while the average Russian- not too mention the US taxpayer- got fleeced.

Soros insists that his own investments in Russia were squeaky clean. this is debatable. His privileged access to Kremlin officials and friendly oligarchs helped lubricate many deals. Williamson notes that Soros invested in Russia's second largest steel mill, Novolipetsk Kombinat, and in the Russian oil firm Sidanko. Joining Soros in these purchases were the Harvard Management Co, which invests Harvard Uni's multi-billion dollar endowment fund. Soros and Harvard Management purchased shares in Sidanko and Novolipetsk in 1995, through rigged elections. Technically speaking, the bidding was closed to foreigners. Soros and Harvard sidestepped the no foreigners rule by making their purchases through the sputnik fund - an investment group tied to the powerful, corrupt Russian Oligarch Vladimir Potanin.

It all comes out in the karmic wash, argues Soros, because once he has executed a deal and made money, he can use his profits for the "betterment" of humanity- as he sees it.

Angroid Mar 24, 2017
Contrary to what most supposed "experts" in Western Media claim about that period, Russia was still a relatively wealthy country when the Soviet Union broke up. That soon changed once the Harvard Boys, Clinton Insiders, Rothschilds, Soros, Russian crooks, Jewish "Russian" crooks, Yeltsin etc got themselves into position.

Russia was basically looted as the article described via all sorts of corrupt schemes and scams and the country was plunged into a decade of economic and social destruction, the scale of which is hard to comprehend. Entire industries disappeared, factories were gutted, salaries weren't paid for months, State assets got were stolen for chump change by oligarchs who were funded by the usual scheissters (Rothschilds, Euro nobility, Soros etc).

The country was well on the way toward fragmentation (which is exactly what the perpetrators and their insider thieving connections were hoping for.)

The process of destruction only really ended once Putin got into power. And that's why the media and the Western Oligarchy hate him so much.

Ozzy Bon Halen
Russia was basically looted as the article described
Actually, it was a condensed chapter from a book called The Shadow Party. I couldn't find some of the info in it anywhere else on the webs, so I decided to type it in manually and post it. I heard that there is a book called Sale of The Century that's pretty good, too. I haven't gotten around to reading that one yet, though.
rasputin
I lived through several years of Yeltsin, and many people were literally starving -- not to death of course, but being able to afford only basic staples. But the problems didn't start with Yeltsin, it all started going to shit with Gorbachev.
Angroid

Afaik the Soviet Union peaked socially in the late 50's and 60's. What had basically happened was that this generation who matured by that time were tough, smart, hard working people - they had to be, since they somehow survived the Bolsheviks, WW2 etc. That generation worked miracles. They won the war, they worked incredibly hard, incredibly fast and made phenomenal progress against the odds with regards to infrastructural upgrades, technology & science, rebuilding the country etc etc.

What happened from the 60's or so was that the leadership became old and tired, they became more out of touch with the times and the general population. Things started stagnating, corruption increased etc. By the time Gorbachev got into power the system was already in dire need of overhaul and new ways and ideas.

Gorbachev set out to achieve this but he went about things the wrong way and attempted to make too many radical changes too fast. Some of his hair brained schemes (whether this was done deliberately to cripple the country or just out of stupidity) like the alcohol ban lead to major discontent and unrest. Furthermore, and far worse, Gorbachev and many in his circle somehow got into bed with Western Globalists . I don't know where and how exactly this started, and I don't have much information to source this claim, but if one looks at how the Soviet Union ended up by the 1990's it's the only logical explanation.

Gorbachev and his people - through a combination of idiocy, incompetency, delusions of grandeur and treachery - screwed the Soviet Union. The West moved quickly to pay off the leadership in former Soviet Republics (Ukraine in particular) to not remain in a Union State with Russia. In Russia, Yeltsin and the Jewish Oligarchy (funded by Rothschild & Globalist Kikery, just like the Communists were in the 1917 Revolution) somehow got into power after Gorbachev lost his grip on power and the rest is history.

rasputin

Khruschev (a khakhol) was a disaster. Brezhnev (another khakhol) was pretty bad either. Gorbachev is from the south of Russia too, kind of a weak person who got on top as a compromise figure.

[Jun 13, 2017] BOOK The Shadow Party RichardPoe.com

Jun 13, 2017 | www.richardpoe.com

January 26, 2012: "I paid a huge, huge price for going after George Soros," Glenn Beck told Shadow Party co-author Richard Poe. "But I ain't dead. And quite honestly, I thought that was an option. I said on the air, at one point, if I show up dead, check Soros!" ( WATCH THE VIDEO )

The Shadow Party shines a light on the hidden world of multibillionaire George Soros. It explains how he uses his philanthropic activities as camouflage for covert political operations in many countries.

Soros has undermined currencies, subverted elections and overturned governments all over the world. Now he is targeting the United States.
GLENN BECK: THE PUPPET MASTER GEORGE SOROS
November 9-11, 2010

In November 2010, Glenn Beck aired a three-part investigative series called "The Puppetmaster George Soros." Drawing heavily on The Shadow Party , a book by David Horowitz and Richard Poe, Beck accused billionaire George Soros of using his global network of philanthropies as a front for covert operations. He accused Soros of overthrowing governments in several countries, through economic sabotage and disruption of elections. Finally, Beck charged Soros with using these same techniques in an effort to destabilize the United States.

[Apr 27, 2017] Mark Ames: Credit Suisse Decries Russian Inequality After Playing Leading Role in Creating It

Notable quotes:
"... By Mark Ames, founding editor of the Moscow satirical paper The eXile and co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast with Gary Brecher (aka John Dolan). Subscribe here . Originally published at The Exiled ..."
"... Can hugely rich new capitalists weather a backlash from the angry masses? ..."
"... Great piece. Mark Ames and his former eXile comrades Yasha Levine and Matt Taibbi write some of the most honest and ideologically neutral critiques of the current political and economic clusterfuck. The Guardian, OTOH, is pure neoliberal establishment propaganda. ..."
"... 'Why do I get the feeling that this "playbook" is being resurrected to manage a "privatization" of the American "safety net?" ..."
Apr 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on April 27, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. At the end, Ames explains why this sudden handwringing about Russian inequality is newsworthy:

Without any of this context, it's as though Russia's extremes of inequality that Credit Suisse just reported on suddenly appeared out of nowhere, as a manifestation of Vladimir Putin's innate evil. As though nothing preceded him-the 1990s had never happened, and our Establishment has always sincerely cared about how Russians must suffer from inequality and corruption. Erasing history like this has a funny way of making America look exceptionally good, and Russia look exceptionally bad.

As anyone who knows a smidge about this sordid history could tell you, the US's neoliberal reforms set the stage for a plutocratic land grab, with members of the Harvard team advising the State Department feeding at the trough in a big way. As we've written, the fact that Harvard paid $26.5 million in fines, yet Larry Summer not merely failed to sanction the professor who headed the team, his personal friend Andrei Shleifer, but actually protected him was the proximate cause of the ouster of Summers as Harvard president .

By Mark Ames, founding editor of the Moscow satirical paper The eXile and co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast with Gary Brecher (aka John Dolan). Subscribe here . Originally published at The Exiled

The Guardian just published a piece on Russia's inequality problem - first and worst in the world, according to a new Credit Suisse report . Funny to see Credit Suisse wringing its hands over Russian inequality, given that bank's active complicity in designing and profiting off the privatization of Russia in the early-mid 1990s. Shortly before Credit Suisse arrived in Russia, it was the most equal country on the planet; a few years after Credit Suisse arrived and pocketed up to hundreds of millions in profits, Russia was the most unequal country on earth, and it's pretty much been that way since.

Credit Suisse's new Russia branch was set up in 1992, and it was led by a young twenty-something American banker named Boris Jordan, the grandson of wealthy White Russian emigres. Jordan was key to the bank's success, thanks to his cozy relationships with Russia's neoliberal "young reformers" in charge of privatizing the former Communist country. In the first wave of voucher privatization-when all Russians were issued vouchers which they could then either convert into shares in a newly-privatized company, or sell off-Credit Suisse's Boris Jordan gobbled up 17 million of Russia's privatization vouchers, over 10 percent of the total.

Inside connections were the key. While working for Credit Suisse, Jordan advised the Yeltsin government on how to implement its Russia's disastrous voucher privatization scheme. Jordan worked together with the two of the most powerful US-backed Russian free-marketeers: Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, architect of the shock therapy program that led to the mass impoverishment of tens of millions of Russians; and Anatoly Chubais, architect of Russia's privatization program, which created Russia's new billionaire oligarch class. Gaidar's shock therapy confiscated wealth from the masses; Chubais' privatization concentrated wealth in a few hands. And Jordan's Credit Suisse advised, traded off, and profited from this wealth transfer. This was the trio that played a central role in creating the inequality that Credit Suisse is now wringing its hands over. (You can read an interview with Jordan about how he co-advised the voucher implementation in 1992, which is stunning for a lot of reasons- he admits they sped up its implementation of voucher privatization to make sure that Russia's parliament, i.e. representative democracy, couldn't interfere with it. Democracy was not something anyone involved in Russia's privatization in the 1990s gave a shit about.)

The conflicts-of-interest here were so over-the-top, they were almost impossible to wrap your head around: Credit Suisse banker Boris Jordan helped implement the voucher privatization scheme with Russia's top political figures; and Credit Suisse massively profited off this same privatization scheme. And it was all done with the full backing and support of the US Treasury Department and the IMF.

(Another major beneficiary of Russian privatization vouchers was a murky hedge fund run by the billionaire Chandler brothers. They made a killing snapping up vouchers cheap, converting them into stakes in key Russian industries, and selling their stakes for huge profits. I wrote about them a couple of years ago because one of the Chandler brothers plowed some of his Russia loot into something called the Legatum Institute -a Dubai-based neocon front group that's been bankrolling the "Russia disinformation panic!" for several years now, issuing report after report after report on the Kremlin disinformation scare by their protege Peter Pomerantsev . You have to let these vulture-capitalist billionaires wet their beaks a little, or they'll raise an army of human rights activists to regime-change your ass.)

Shock therapy, first implemented in 1992 and not really ended until Russia's devastating financial crash in 1998, was politically useful in that by confiscating the Russian middle-class's and lower-class's savings, it created a massively unequal society. And that alone drove Russia further from its Communist recent past, which was the political goal that justified everything.

In 1994, this same young Credit Suisse banker, Boris Jordan, told Forbes' Paul Khlebnikov about a scheme he was trying to sell to the Yeltsin regime. It was called "loans-for-shares" and when it was finally adopted at the end of 1995, it resulted in what many considered the single largest plunder of public wealth in recorded history: The crown jewels of Russian industry-oil, gas, natural resources, telecoms, state banks-given away to a tiny group of connected bankers. It was this scheme, first devised by a Credit Suisse banker, that created Russia's world-famous oligarchy.

The scheme went something like this: The Yeltsin regime announced in late 1995 auctions under which bankers would lend the government money in exchange for "temporary" control over the revenue streams of Russia's largest and most valuable companies. After a period, the government would "repay" the "loans" and the banks would give the their large stakes back to the government.

In reality, every single "auction" was rigged by the winning bank, which paid next to nothing for its control over an oil company/nickel company/etc. Even the little money paid by this bank was often stolen from the state. That's because Russia used a handful of private banks as authorized treasury institutions to transfer government salaries and other funds around the country. This allowed the same bankers who were authorized as state treasury banks to keep those funds for themseles rather than distribute them to the teachers, doctors and scientists as salaries-so they did what was in their rational self-interest and kept the money, delaying salary payments for months or even years at a time, while they used the funds for themselves to speculate, or to buy up assets in auctions they rigged for themselves. It was pure libertarian paradise on earth-everything von Hayek and von Mises dreamed of-in practice.

By the time the loans-for-shares was actually put into effect in late 1995, Credit Suisse's Boris Jordan joined up with an anointed banker-oligarch, Vladimir Potanin, to set up their own investment bank, Renaissance Capital. They raised their first private equity fund, Sputnik Capital-with George Soros and Harvard University as co-investors-and Sputnik Capital went on to take advantage of the loans-for-shares investment opportunities, which had even more help from the fact that Yeltsin made Potanin his Finance Minister in 1996.

This sudden mass wealth transfer from the many to the few had a devastating effect on Russia's population. Inflation in the first two years of shock therapy and voucher privatization ran at 1,354% in 1992, and 896% in 1993, while real incomes plunged 42% in 1992 alone; real wages in 1995 were half of where they were in 1990 (pensions in 1995 were only a quarter in real terms of where they were in 1990). According to very conservative official Russian statistics, GDP plunged 44% from 1992-1998 - others put the GDP crash even higher, 50% or more. By comparison the Soviet GDP fell 24% during its war with Nazi Germany, and the US's GDP fell 30% during the Great Depression. So what happened in the 1990s was unprecedented for a major developed country-by the end of the decade and all of the Washington/financial industry-backed reforms, Russia was a basket case, a third-rate country with an even bleaker future. Capital investment had collapsed 85% during that decade-everyone was stripping assets, not investing in them. Domestic food production collapsed to half the levels during perestroika; and by 1999, anywhere from a third to half of Russians relied on food grown in their own gardens to eat. They'd reverted to subsistence farming after a decade of free market medicine.

All of this had a catastrophic effect on Russians' health and lives. Male Russian life expectancy dropped from 68 years during the late Soviet era, to 56 in the mid-1990s, about where it had been a century earlier under the Tsar. Meanwhile, as births plunged and child poverty and malnutrition soared, Russia's death-to-birth ratio reached levels not seen in the 20th century. According to Amherst economist David Kotz, over 6 million Russians died prematurely during the US-backed free-market reforms in the 1990s. What's odd is how little pity or empathy has ever been shown for those Russians who were destroyed by the reforms we backed, advised funded, bribed, coerced, and were accessory to in every way. They weren't entirely America's fault; Yeltsin and his US-backed "market bolsheviks" had their own cynical, ideological and political reasons to restructure Russia's political economy in the most elitist, hierarchical unequal manner possible. But if the US had acted differently, given how much influence the Clinton Administration had with the Yeltsin regime, things could certainly have turned out differently. The point is-they didn't. The inequality was the surest sign of success. It only became something to wring our hands about later, a soft-power weapon to smack them with, now that we have little to zero influence over Russia.

It's interesting that our literature is filled with plenty of official empathy for Weimar German victims of that country's hyperinflation, but nothing of the sort for Russians of the 1990s, who were, it was argued, being ennobled and lifted up by the linear thread of liberal history-they were heading towards the bright market-based future, can't let a few knocks and scratches distract us! Can't make an omelet without cracking a few eggs, as the West's Stalin apologists used to say.

Here, for example, is a typical cheerleader story about the new Russian inequality, published in Businessweek in 1996-a fluff job on Boris Jordan's Russian backer, Vladimir Potanin. Notice how the headline/subheader make clear that the hero of this narrative is the Russian billionaire, and the villains are the "angry masses" of poor envious Russians:

The Battle for Russia's Wealth

Can hugely rich new capitalists weather a backlash from the angry masses?

Russia's answer to J.P. Morgan could not be less like the eccentric, bulbous-nosed original. Vladimir O. Potanin is a shy, athletic man of 35. Holding court in his rosewood-paneled office on Moscow's Masha Poryvaeva Street, the president of Oneximbank quietly gives instructions to two strapping bodyguards at his door. Cool and controlled, Potanin is a standout in a group of dynamic businessmen who have seized huge slices of the economy.

Which reads a lot like this fluff job in the Los Angeles Times, published around the same time, headlined "Whiz-Kid Banker Named to Russian Cabinet" . Which reads a lot like a Businessweek followup up with even more shameless hagiography, headlined "The Most Powerful Man in Russia" . You can try reading that last one if you want, but I recommend keeping a vomit bag close by-and a cyanide pill for good measure.

So this is the sordid and depressing backstory to the Credit Suisse report on Russian inequality-the story you definitely won't and don't read about in Credit Suisse's own account. They're a bank; their reports, while perhaps truthful, are far from The Truth-more like marketing pamphlets than serious scholarship.

Credit Suisse made a killing in Russia in the early-mid 1990s, dominating two-thirds of Russia's capital markets deals-while tens of millions sank into desperate poverty. That too is inequality.

Jordan himself remained a powerful celebrity-investor through the early Putin era. In 1997, Boris Jordan was caught up in a major scandal surrounding the privatization of the national telecoms concern, Svyazinvest-which was won by a consortium that included Soros, Harvard, and a bank owned by Finance Minister Potanin and his partner, Mikhail Prokhanov, who today owns the Brooklyn Nets. The scandal was this: The government official in charge of auctioning off the telecoms to Soros-Harvard-Potanin-Jordan consortium, Alfred Kokh, had been given a shady $100,000 book advance by a shady Swiss company connected to Potanin's bank. The book had not been written; the advance was unusually high; and the Swiss "publisher" which had never published a book before was itself incorporated and led by none other than Boris Jordan's cousin, Tikhon Troyanos.

The revelations led to scandals, and Yeltsin was forced to fire his privatization chief Alfred Kokh, along with a handful of other corrupt US-backed "young reformers" caught getting paid on the eve of a rigged auction.

But what did it really matter? What really mattered to everyone who matters was the political structure of Russia's economy. No longer egalitarian, no longer a threat to the neoliberal order-it now had the world's most unequal society, and that was a good thing, because the new elites would identify their interests more with the interests of their Davos counterparts than with the interests of the "backwards" Russian masses, whose fate was their problem, not ours. This is when racist caricatures of the "backwards" Russian masses help-you don't have to empathize with them, history is sending them to the trash heap of history, not you. The world was safe for business, and that was all the affirmation anyone needed to hear.

At the end of the Yeltsin era, I visited the sprawling suburban Moscow "compound" owned by Potanin and his banking partner, Mikhail Prokhorov, as well as Renaissance Capital-the bank first founded with Boris Jordan in the mid-1990s. It was a huge gated compound with several buildings, a mini-hotel, and a nightclub/concert hall. One of the first things I saw entering the gaming hall building was two familiar-looking men in track suits playing backgammon: Vladimir Potanin, billionaire oligarch; and Alfred Kokh, the fired, disgraced head of Yeltsin's privatization committee.

The financial crisis of 1998 left Russia's in complete tatters, and Boris Jordan was never the big shot that he had been before. His real value was providing cover for the new boss Vladimir Putin as he re-centralized power under Kremlin control. The first upstart oligarch that Putin took down was Vladimir Gusinsky. He was briefly jailed and then exiled to Israel. His once-respected opposition TV station, NTV, was "bought" by Gazprom, and Gazprom, needing a western-friendly face for its hostile takeover, hired Boris Jordan as the new general director of the network-and his old partner-in-crime, Alfred Kokh, the disgraced ex-privatization chief, as chairman of NTV's board. Almost immediately, 25 NTV journalists- half the staff- "resigned" . Jordan's job was to blunt western criticism of the Kremlin as it destroyed the lone critical voice on Russian television, and two years later, his job done, he moved on.

Today Jordan still runs the Sputnik Fund , such as it is-mostly a web site as far as I can tell. And he is listed as the founder of New York University's "NYU Jordan Center for the Advance Study of Russia" . He looks like such a minor figure now.

Without any of this context, it's as though Russia's extremes of inequality that Credit Suisse just reported on suddenly appeared out of nowhere, as a manifestation of Vladimir Putin's innate evil. As though nothing preceded him-the 1990s had never happened, and our Establishment has always sincerely cared about how Russians must suffer from inequality and corruption. Erasing history like this has a funny way of making America look exceptionally good, and Russia look exceptionally bad.

Temporarily Sane , April 27, 2017 at 3:21 am

Great piece. Mark Ames and his former eXile comrades Yasha Levine and Matt Taibbi write some of the most honest and ideologically neutral critiques of the current political and economic clusterfuck. The Guardian, OTOH, is pure neoliberal establishment propaganda. It really went downhill after Katherine Viner replaced Allan Rusbridger as chief editor. If the Snowden affair happened today they would probably be loudly calling for his arrest.

Lambert Strether , April 27, 2017 at 4:50 am

Seconded!

Lambert Strether , April 27, 2017 at 4:49 am

On the headline: "Well, I should hope so!"

ambrit , April 27, 2017 at 5:14 am

Why do I get the feeling that this "playbook" is being resurrected to manage a "privatization" of the American "safety net?" When it happened in Russia, the Russians ended up with Vladimir Vladimirovitch rising to stem the tide of officially sanctioned criminality. One could say that Russia has had precious little experience with "representational" governance, and thus a return to some form of autocracy was understandable. America, on the other hand, has, supposedly, a storied history of representative governance. So far, that "story" isn't showing signs of turning out so well for the "angry masses" of the Homeland. What, then, will America "put up with" to see the mere appearance of social justice? This is where the supposed "opposition" party, the Democrats, have fallen down. They aren't even "talking" a good game today. The longer these tensions continue, and increase, the greater the damage from the eventual unwinding will be.

Carolinian , April 27, 2017 at 9:45 am

The job of the Dems is to herd the sheep in the right direction. They do this by pretending to be lefties while keeping the true alternative, socialism, in its box. One could argue the whole history of the 20th century after WW1 was about keeping socialism in its box. Funny how the end of the Evil Empire–at least notionally committed to socialism–has made the situation in the West so much worse. It's almost a though those 20th century progressive reforms were only intended to keep the commies at bay. Now the plutocrats don't have to pretend any more.

Mark P. , April 27, 2017 at 2:22 pm

Ambrit wrote: 'Why do I get the feeling that this "playbook" is being resurrected to manage a "privatization" of the American "safety net?"

Because many of the same sociopaths who learned how to loot a collapsing empire after the fall of the USSR took the lessons learned and applied them over here.

'The Harvard Boys Do Russia'
https://www.thenation.com/article/harvard-boys-do-russia/

'Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the Economic Rape of Russia'
http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Pseudoscience/harvard_mafia.shtml

Thuto , April 27, 2017 at 6:54 am

Well this is to be expected isn't it. The same banks that go around the world selling their brand of "market based reforms" then turn around and wring their hands when the post-reform economy has been stratified in favour of the 1%. It's almost as if registering their concern about the inequality levels they had a hand in creating somehow assuages their guilt. In my own country South Africa, one of the most unequal societies in the world, we are drowning in a constant, ad nauseum barrage of media commentary about how orthodox neoliberal thinking is the only thing that will save the country. Such stories of how orthodoxy itself plunged a country like Russia into economic anarchy are sadly lacking, in fact speaking ill of orthodoxy is anathema and one suspects that journalists are either infected with terminal gullibility vis a vis neoliberal thinking or are towing the line to stay in their jobs

David Barrera , April 27, 2017 at 9:22 am

Thanks for this great article It looks like Popper's positivism did wonders for George Soros. As he would say: "I made a killing". Sure nothing a couple of his humanitarian NGO's can not fix!

Fool , April 27, 2017 at 10:50 am

This is terrific - and the Yeltsin-Clinton photograph is too perfect.

I suppose we'll never forgive the Russians for how bad they let neoliberal capitalism look.

Martin Finnucane , April 27, 2017 at 12:19 pm

I suppose we'll never forgive the Russians for how bad they let neoliberal capitalism look.

I think that in some circles there's a deeply seated viral antagonism toward Russia and Russians that goes far beyond, and is far more deeply laid, than the liberal-v-not-liberal clash of civilizations du jour. Like herpes, this particular disease bubbles to the surface under certain conditions, such as a the Ukraine coup. Perhaps the virus first broke out around the time of the Venetian Sack of Constantinople ?

Ask a Russian. If you ask a Western liberal and you'll get nothing but a blank stare. Of course Russia bad . That's all we need to known. Full stop. My Western liberal conscience is clean.

The rank hypocrisy involved reminds one of Obama's gratuitous Russia bashing . And who is more iconically Western, more iconically liberal, than President Obama? Obama is nothing if not cool, and Western liberalism is coolness itself.

Susan the other , April 27, 2017 at 12:25 pm

I've wondered what a better alternative would have looked like – instead of looting and refitting Russia to join a neoliberal capitalist world. Wasn't it Jeffrey Sachs, now reformed, who said shock therapy would be the fastest and least painful way to get Russia up and running? And Putin has been a tightrope walker all along and seems to be very sensible. Almost too sensible. He has his nationalist opponents on one side (the late, great Boris Nemtsov was one) who say he is giving Russian wealth away to the West and his western-neoliberal detractors one the other side who call him a nationalist tyrant. In between he has the backing of the Russian people. Very agile.

PlutoniumKun , April 27, 2017 at 12:39 pm

The obvious alternative way would be the various routes followed by the former Iron Curtain countries. Most had some form of shock therapy, if none as extreme as that in Russia, probably because they don't have the easy to grab mineral resources. None have done as well as hoped, but some have been moderately successful by steering a middle course – The Czech Republic and Poland have done reasonably well over the past 20 years. In general, I would say that those which opted for slower and gentler market reform did better than the 'get it over quick' ones. The one country that tried not to change – Belarus – is still standing, if a bit of a basket case.

JohnnyGL , April 27, 2017 at 1:58 pm

Keep in mind the EU played a much more constructive role back then. The elites at the time really wanted integration and modernization to work, especially in the Central European countries like those ones you listed.

JohnnyGL , April 27, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Not directly related, but for wider context, very similar programs happened in Mexico during the Salinas administration (1988-1994) around the same time. NAFTA in 1994 was the 'reward' for the Mexican elites doing as they were told.

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/10/privatizing-mexico/

Here's an old NYT article which aims for a tone of 'cheerleading with reservations', but does give you a sense of the corruption involved during the biddings, especially around TelMex and the resulting problems.

http://www.nytimes.com/1993/10/27/world/going-private-special-report-mexico-sells-off-state-companies-reaping-trouble.html?pagewanted=all

Of course, we know how the story ends in Mexico with the 1994-5 Tequila Crisis, much like the story ended in Russia with the 1998 default which crushed the LTCM hedgies.

Martin Finnucane , April 27, 2017 at 12:43 pm

Also, Carlos Slim became the richest man in the world. Meritocracy rocks! Go suck a heuvo gordo, you socialistas sucias!

Susan the other , April 27, 2017 at 12:32 pm

I've wondered what a better alternative would have looked like – instead of looting and refitting Russia to join a neoliberal capitalist world. Wasn't it Jeffrey Sachs, now reformed, who said shock therapy would be the fastest and least painful way to get Russia up and running? And Putin has been a tightrope walker all along and seems to be very sensible. Almost too sensible. He has his nationalist opponents on one side (the late, great Boris Nemtsov was one) who say he is giving Russian wealth away to the West and his western-neoliberal detractors one the other side who call him a nationalist tyrant. In between he has the backing of the Russian people. Very agile.

PKMKII , April 27, 2017 at 1:40 pm

My one minor quibble is the assertion that those in the West put the blame of the downfall of the Russian masses on the masses themselves. Most of those in the West are either ignorant, or in denial, of how bad it got for the average Russian in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union. They were taught that the USSR was a hellhole where everyone lived in horrific poverty except for the party leaders. So they saw the horrible conditions under Yeltsin and company as a continuation of how things had always been. Some even argue it got better, painting any report showing things were better under the USSR as communist propaganda.

[Apr 04, 2017] Larry Summers and Jeffrey Sachs were involved in economic rape of Russia. It would be nice if they wrote mea culpas.

Apr 04, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. , April 03, 2017 at 01:31 PM
PGL puts the blame on Yeltsin and this is what Stiglitz writes:

"I believe what we are confronting is partly the legacy of the flawed Washington Consensus that shaped Russia's transition. This framework's influences was reflected in the tremendous emphasis reformers placed on privatization, no matter how it was done, with speed taking precedence over everything else, including creating the institutional infrastructure needed to make a market economy work."

Larry Summers and Jeffrey Sachs were involved in this. It would be nice if they wrote mea culpas.

"Many in Russia believe that the US Treasury pushed Washington Consensus policies to weaken their country. The deep corruption of the Harvard University team chosen to "help" Russia in its transition, described in a detailed account published in 2006 by Institutional Investor, reinforced these beliefs.

I believe the explanation was less sinister: flawed ideas, even with the best of intentions, can have serious consequences. And the opportunities for self-interested greed offered by Russia were simply too great for some to resist. Clearly, democratization in Russia required efforts aimed at ensuring shared prosperity, not policies that led to the creation of an oligarchy."

Just look at what the West did to Iraq. Like Stiglitz I think it is more incompetence and ideology than a sinister plan to destroy Iraq and Russia. And we are reaping the results of that incompetence.

2008 was also incompetence, greed and ideology not some plot to push through "shock doctrines."

If the one percent were smart they would slowly cook the frog in the pot, where the frog doesn't notice, instead of having these crises which backfire.

pgl -> Peter K.... , April 03, 2017 at 04:30 PM
Nice cherry picking especially for someone who never read his chapter 5 of that great 1997 book.
libezkova -> pgl... , April 03, 2017 at 10:40 PM
The book is great, the article is junk.

As Paine aptly said (in best Mark Twain style):

"Too much [neo]liberal swamp gas"

[Apr 04, 2017] Privatization in Russia was done according to the expert advice of deregulating Larry Summers gang from Harvard

Apr 04, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne , April 03, 2017 at 10:01 AM
https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/illiberal-stagnation-russia-transition-by-joseph-e--stiglitz-2017-04

April 2, 2017

Illiberal Stagnation
By JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ

I believe what we are confronting is partly the legacy of the flawed Washington Consensus that shaped Russia's transition. This framework's influences was reflected in the tremendous emphasis reformers placed on privatization, no matter how it was done, with speed taking precedence over everything else, including creating the institutional infrastructure needed to make a market economy work....

anne -> anne... , April 03, 2017 at 10:01 AM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Consensus

The term Washington Consensus was coined in 1989 by English economist John Williamson to refer to a set of 10 relatively specific economic policy prescriptions that he considered constituted the "standard" reform package promoted for crisis-wracked developing countries by Washington, D.C.–based institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and the US Treasury Department. The prescriptions encompassed policies in such areas as macroeconomic stabilization, economic opening with respect to both trade and investment, and the expansion of market forces within the domestic economy.

  1. Fiscal policy discipline, with avoidance of large fiscal deficits relative to GDP;
  2. Redirection of public spending from subsidies toward broad-based provision of key pro-growth, pro-poor services like primary education, primary health care and infrastructure investment;
  3. Tax reform, broadening the tax base and adopting moderate marginal tax rates;
  4. Interest rates that are market determined and positive (but moderate) in real terms;
  5. Competitive exchange rates;
  6. Trade liberalization: liberalization of imports, with particular emphasis on elimination of quantitative restrictions (licensing, etc.); any trade protection to be provided by low and relatively uniform tariffs;
  7. Liberalization of inward foreign direct investment;
  8. Privatization of state enterprises;
  9. Deregulation: abolition of regulations that impede market entry or restrict competition, except for those justified on safety, environmental and consumer protection grounds, and prudential oversight of financial institutions;
  10. Legal security for property rights.
pgl -> anne... , April 03, 2017 at 10:18 AM
"privatization, no matter how it was done, with speed taking precedence over everything else".

It does matter how it is done as Stiglitz, Dani Rodrik, and even that ProMarket blog often point out. It was done very poorly under Yeltsin.

RGC -> pgl... , April 03, 2017 at 10:34 AM
It was done according to the "expert" advice of deregulatin' Larry's gang from Harvard.
RGC -> RGC... , April 03, 2017 at 10:46 AM
Does deregulatin' Larry still have a job?

Why?

Peter K. -> RGC... , April 03, 2017 at 01:24 PM
"It was done according to the "expert" advice of deregulatin' Larry's gang from Harvard."

Yes PGL blames Yeltsin but it was the Western advisers who forced disastrous shock therapy on Russia.

See the IMF, Europe and Greece for another example. No doubt PGL blames the Greeks. He always blames the victims.

Peter K. -> Peter K.... , April 03, 2017 at 01:33 PM
PGL blames Yeltsin but even Stiglitz writes that it was the Washington Consensus which was to blame for the poor transition and disastrous collapse of Russia. Now we are reaping the consequences. Just like with Syria, ISIL and Iraq.
pgl -> Peter K.... , April 03, 2017 at 04:28 PM
Yep - you still have not read what he wrote. As usual.
pgl -> Peter K.... , April 03, 2017 at 04:27 PM
WTF? The IMF may have given bad advice but Yeltsin ran the show. And if you think Yeltsin was the victim - then you are really lost.

"No doubt PGL blames the Greeks."

You do lie 24/7. Pathetic.

anne -> pgl... , April 03, 2017 at 11:15 AM
Suppose though the matter with privatization is not so much speed but not understanding what should not be subject to privatizing, such as soft and hard infrastructure.
anne -> anne... , April 03, 2017 at 10:46 AM
That a Washington Consensus approach to Russian development proved obviously faulty is important because I would argue the approach has repeatedly proved faulty from Brazil to South Africa to the Philippines... When the consensus has been turned away from as in Brazil for several years the development results have dramatically changed but turning from the approach which allows for severe concentrations of wealth has proved politically difficult as we find now in Brazil.
anne -> anne... , April 03, 2017 at 10:48 AM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cad0

August 4, 2014

Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Russia, 1990-2015

(Percent change)


https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cacX

August 4, 2014

Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Russia, 1990-2015

(Indexed to 1990)

anne -> anne... , April 03, 2017 at 10:55 AM
The range in real per capita GDP growth from 1990 to 2015 extends from 15.8% to 19.8% to 41.1% to 223.1% to 789.1%. This range needs to be thoroughly analyzed in terms of reflective policy.
anne -> anne... , April 03, 2017 at 10:49 AM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cad4

November 1, 2014

Total Factor Productivity at Constant National Prices for China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Russia, 1990-2014


https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cad7

November 1, 2014

Total Factor Productivity at Constant National Prices for China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Russia, 1990-2014

(Indexed to 1990)

anne -> anne... , April 03, 2017 at 11:00 AM
The range in total factor productivity growth or decline from 1990 to 2014 extends from a decline of - 16.9% to - 12.2% to - 5.1% to growth of 40.9% and 76.4%. Again, this range needs to be thoroughly analyzed in terms of reflective policy.
anne -> anne... , April 03, 2017 at 11:10 AM
The persuasiveness of the Washington Consensus approach to development strikes me as especially well illustrated by the repeated, decades-long insistence by Western economists that Chinese development is about to come to a crashing end. The insistence continues with an almost daily repetition in the likes of The Economist or Financial Times.

I would suggest the success of China thoroughly studied provides us with remarkable policy prescriptions.

[Apr 04, 2017] It may eventually prove to be generous to describe Russias misfortune as the legacy of the flawed Washington Consensus that shaped Russias transition according to Stiglitz. It may prove rather to be the legacy of *intentionally* flawed consensus .

Notable quotes:
"... Too much liberal swamp gas [In Stiglitz's book] ..."
"... I love joe. His technical intuition is peerless. But he is mushy at heart. Social values involved. Unlike say chomsky ..."
"... It may eventually prove to be generous to describe Russia's misfortune as "the legacy of the flawed Washington Consensus that shaped Russia's transition" according to Stiglitz. It may prove rather to be "the legacy of *intentionally* flawed consensus". ..."
Apr 04, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
DrDick -> pgl... April 03, 2017 at 11:01 AM
A great piece by Stiglitz.
pgl -> DrDick ... April 03, 2017 at 12:29 PM
I've been encouraging folks to read his 1997 book - in particular chapter 5. When I do, the Usual Suspects decided to attack by questioning Stiglitz's credential.

One of them cited Wikipedia noting it relied on World Bank research. Of course, Stiglitz headed the World Bank back then. Go figure.

paine -> DrDick ... , April 03, 2017 at 04:43 PM
Excellent book sent Ken Rogoff on a rampage
paine -> paine... , April 03, 2017 at 04:46 PM
Read open letter to Stiglitz
anne -> paine... , April 03, 2017 at 06:13 PM
http://www.imf.org/external/np/vc/2002/070202.htm

An Open Letter *

By Kenneth Rogoff,
Economic Counsellor and Director of Research,
International Monetary Fund

To Joseph Stiglitz,
Author of "Globalization and Its Discontents"

Washington D.C., July 2, 2002

* Used as opening remarks at a June 28 discussion of Mr. Stiglitz's book at the World Bank, organized by the World Bank's Infoshop

anne -> DrDick ... , April 03, 2017 at 06:31 PM
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2002/08/15/globalization-stiglitzs-case/

August 15, 2002

Globalization: Stiglitz's Case By Benjamin M. Friedman

Globalization and Its Discontents by Joseph E. Stiglitz

paine -> DrDick ... , April 03, 2017 at 04:22 PM
Too much liberal swamp gas [In Stiglitz's book]
paine -> pgl... , April 03, 2017 at 04:20 PM
The obvious contrast does not exist

But id conjecture the Deng path trumps the Yeltsin path

paine -> paine... , April 03, 2017 at 04:26 PM
Nothing liberal values can help

Development is not humanistic or [is] about ballot box choices

Clio sets harsh conflicts in our path albeit of our own Making

paine -> paine... , April 03, 2017 at 04:31 PM
I love joe. His technical intuition is peerless. But he is mushy at heart. Social values involved. Unlike say chomsky
anne -> anne... , April 03, 2017 at 06:22 PM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cacK

August 4, 2014

Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for China and Russia, 1990-2015

(Percent change)

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cacO

August 4, 2014

Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for China and Russia, 1990-2015

(Indexed to 1990)

anne -> anne... , April 03, 2017 at 06:27 PM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cacQ

November 1, 2014

Total Factor Productivity at Constant National Prices for China and Russia, 1990-2014

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cacR

November 1, 2014

Total Factor Productivity at Constant National Prices for China and Russia, 1990-2014

(Indexed to 1990)

libezkova -> paine... , April 03, 2017 at 08:28 PM
"But id conjecture the Deng path trumps the yeltsin path"

True.

point -> pgl... , April 03, 2017 at 06:28 PM
It may eventually prove to be generous to describe Russia's misfortune as "the legacy of the flawed Washington Consensus that shaped Russia's transition" according to Stiglitz. It may prove rather to be "the legacy of *intentionally* flawed consensus".

[Apr 03, 2017] Shleifer also met his mentor and professor, Lawrence Summers, during his undergraduate education at Harvard. The two went on to be co-authors, joint grant recipients, and faculty colleagues

Notable quotes:
"... Could Russia's post-communist transition have been managed better? We can never answer such questions definitively: history cannot be re-run. But I believe what we are confronting is partly the legacy of the flawed Washington Consensus that shaped Russia's transition. ..."
"... This framework's influences was reflected in the tremendous emphasis reformers placed on privatization, no matter how it was done, with speed taking precedence over everything else, including creating the institutional infrastructure needed to make a market economy work. Fifteen years ago, when I wrote Globalization and its Discontents, I argued that this "shock therapy" approach to economic reform was a dismal failure. ..."
"... Today, more than a quarter-century since the onset of transition, those earlier results have been confirmed, and those who argued that private property rights, once created, would give rise to broader demands for the rule of law have been proven wrong. Russia and many of the other transition countries are lagging further behind the advanced economies than ever. GDP in some transition countries is below its level at the beginning of the transition." ..."
"... In the matter before us – the question of the many billions in capital that fled Russia to Western shores via the Bank of New York and other Western banks – we have had a window thrown open on what the financial affairs of a country without property rights, without banks, without the certainty of contract, without an accountable government or a leadership decent enough to be concerned with the national interest or its own citizens' well-being looks like. ..."
"... And there is no mistake as to who the victims are, i.e. Western, principally U.S., taxpayers and Russian citizens' whose national legacy was stolen only to be squandered and/or invested in Western real estate and equities markets ..."
Apr 03, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
pgl , April 03, 2017 at 09:52 AM
Stiglitz returns to the issue of why post Soviet Union Russia has done so poorly in terms of economics(Illiberal Stagnation by Joseph E. Stiglitz - Project Syndicate):

"In terms of per capita income, Russia now ranks 73rd (in terms of purchasing power parity) – well below the Soviet Union's former satellites in Central and Eastern Europe. The country has deindustrialized: the vast majority of its exports now come from natural resources. It has not evolved into a "normal" market economy, but rather into a peculiar form of crony-state capitalism .

Many had much higher hopes for Russia, and the former Soviet Union more broadly, when the Iron Curtain fell. After seven decades of Communism, the transition to a democratic market economy would not be easy. But, given the obvious advantages of democratic market capitalism to the system that had just fallen apart, it was assumed that the economy would flourish and citizens would demand a greater voice. What went wrong? Who, if anyone, is to blame?

Could Russia's post-communist transition have been managed better? We can never answer such questions definitively: history cannot be re-run. But I believe what we are confronting is partly the legacy of the flawed Washington Consensus that shaped Russia's transition.

This framework's influences was reflected in the tremendous emphasis reformers placed on privatization, no matter how it was done, with speed taking precedence over everything else, including creating the institutional infrastructure needed to make a market economy work. Fifteen years ago, when I wrote Globalization and its Discontents, I argued that this "shock therapy" approach to economic reform was a dismal failure.

But defenders of that doctrine cautioned patience: one could make such judgments only with a longer-run perspective. Today, more than a quarter-century since the onset of transition, those earlier results have been confirmed, and those who argued that private property rights, once created, would give rise to broader demands for the rule of law have been proven wrong. Russia and many of the other transition countries are lagging further behind the advanced economies than ever. GDP in some transition countries is below its level at the beginning of the transition."

Stiglitz is not saying markets cannot work if the rules are properly constructed. He is saying that the Yeltsin rules were not as they were crony capitalism at their worse. And it seems the Putin rules are not much better. He mentions his 1997 book which featured as chapter 5 "Who Lost Russia". It still represents an excellent read.

RGC -> pgl... , April 03, 2017 at 10:11 AM
"Shleifer also met his mentor and professor, Lawrence Summers, during his undergraduate education at Harvard. The two went on to be co-authors, joint grant recipients, and faculty colleagues.[5]

During the early 1990s, Andrei Shleifer headed a Harvard project under the auspices of the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) that invested U.S. government funds in the development of Russia's economy.

Schleifer was also a direct advisor to Anatoly Chubais, then vice-premier of Russia, who managed the Rosimushchestvo (Committee for the Management of State Property) portfolio and was a primary engineer of Russian privatization. Shleifer was also tasked with establishing a stock market for Russia that would be a world-class capital market.[14]

In 1996 complaints about the Harvard project led Congress to launch a General Accounting Office investigation, which stated that the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) was given "substantial control of the U.S. assistance program."[15]

In 1997, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) canceled most of its funding for the Harvard project after investigations showed that top HIID officials Andre Schleifer and Johnathan Hay had used their positions and insider information to profit from investments in the Russian securities markets. Among other things, the Institute for a Law Based Economy (ILBE) was used to assist Schleifer's wife, Nancy Zimmerman, who operated a hedge fund which speculated in Russian bonds.[14]

In August 2005, Harvard University, Shleifer and the Department of Justice reached an agreement under which the university paid $26.5 million to settle the five-year-old lawsuit. Shleifer was also responsible for paying $2 million worth of damages, though he did not admit any wrongdoing

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrei_Shleifer

RGC -> RGC... , April 03, 2017 at 10:26 AM
Awards:

John Bates Clark Medal (1999)

"He has held a tenured position in the Department of Economics at Harvard University since 1991 and was, from 2001 through 2006, the Whipple V. N. Jones Professor of Economics."

libezkova -> RGC... , April 03, 2017 at 08:18 PM
My impression is that Andrei Shleifer was a marionette, a low level pawn in a big game.

The fact that he was a greedy academic scum, who tried to amass a fortune in Russia probably under influence of his wife (his wife, a hedge fund manager, was GS alumnae and was introduced to him by Summers) is peripheral to the actual role he played.

Jeffey Sacks also played highly negative role being the architect of "shock therapy": the sudden release of price and currency controls, withdrawal of state subsidies, and immediate trade liberalization within a country, usually also including large-scale privatization of previously public-owned assets.

In other words "shock therapy" = "economic rape"

As Anne Williamson said:

"Instead, after robbing the Russian people of the only capital they had to participate in the new market – the nation's household savings – by freeing prices in what was a monopolistic economy and which delivered a 2500% inflation in 1992, America's "brave, young Russian reformers" ginned-up a development theory of "Big Capitalism" based on Karl Marx's mistaken edict that capitalism requires the "primitive accumulation of capital". Big capitalists would appear instantly, they said, and a broadly-based market economy shortly thereafter if only the pockets of pre-selected members of their own ex-Komsomol circle were properly stuffed.

Those who hankered for a public reputation were to secure the government perches from which they would pass state assets to their brethren in the nascent business community, happy in the knowledge that they too would be kicked back a significant cut of the swag. The US-led West accommodated the reformers' cockeyed theory by designing a rapid and easily manipulated voucher privatization program that was really only a transfer of title and which was funded with $325 million US taxpayers' dollars. "

See also http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Pseudoscience/harvard_mafia.shtml

libezkova -> RGC... , April 03, 2017 at 07:51 PM
From the article:

"Many in Russia believe that the US Treasury pushed Washington Consensus policies to weaken their country. The deep corruption of the Harvard University team chosen to "help" Russia in its transition, described in a detailed account published in 2006 by Institutional Investor, reinforced these beliefs."

This was not a corruption. This was the intent on Clinton administration. I would think about it as a planned operation.

The key was that the gangster capitalism model was enforced by the Western "Washington consensus" (of which IMF was an integral part) -- really predatory set of behaviors designed to colonize Russia and make is US satellite much like Germany became after WWII but without the benefit of Marshall plan.

Clinton consciously chose this criminal policy among alternatives: kick the lying body. So after Russian people get rid of corrupt and degraded Communist regime, they got under the iron hill of US gangsters from Clinton administration.

My impression is that Clinton was and is a criminal. And he really proved to be a very capable mass murderer. And his entourage had found willing sociopaths within Russian society (as well as in other xUUSR republics; Ukraine actually fared worse then Russia as for the level of plunder) who implemented neoliberal policies. Yegor Gaidar was instrumental in enforcing Harvard-designed "shock therapy" on Russian people. He also create the main neoliberal party in Russia -- the Democratic Choice of Russia - United Democrats. Later in 1990s, it became the Union of Right Forces.

http://www.vdare.com/posts/the-rape-of-russia-explained-by-anne-williamson

Testimony of Anne Williamson

Before the Committee on Banking and Financial Services of the United States House of Representatives

September 21, 1999


In the matter before us – the question of the many billions in capital that fled Russia to Western shores via the Bank of New York and other Western banks – we have had a window thrown open on what the financial affairs of a country without property rights, without banks, without the certainty of contract, without an accountable government or a leadership decent enough to be concerned with the national interest or its own citizens' well-being looks like. It's not a pretty picture, is it? But let there be no mistake, in Russia the West has truly been the author of its own misery. And there is no mistake as to who the victims are, i.e. Western, principally U.S., taxpayers and Russian citizens' whose national legacy was stolen only to be squandered and/or invested in Western real estate and equities markets

... ... ...

A lot of people, especially pensioners, died because of Clinton's gangster policies in xUUSR space.

I am wondering how Russian managed to survive as an independent country. The USA put tremendous efforts and resources in destruction of Russian economy and colonizing its by creating "fifth column" on neoliberal globalization.

all those criminal oligarchs hold moved their capitals to the West as soon as they can because they were afraid of the future. Nobody persecuted them and Western banks helped to extract money from Russia to the extent that some of their methods were clearly criminals.

Economic devastation was comparable with caused by Nazi armies, although amount of dead was less, but also in millions.

Questionable figures from the West flowed into Russia and tried to exploit still weak law system by raiding the companies. Some of them were successful and amassed huge fortunes. Some