Navalny didn’t pass through Berlin Airport on his way to Moscow.
Sealed train in 1917, sealed airplane in 2021.
Plus ça change.
Natasha Bertrand, writing for Politico, says that conspiracy theories promoted by a “former economic policy adviser” to Putin “raise the specter of Russian attempts to sow chaos and doubt in the legitimacy of US elections.”
NEW: The Cato Institute is investigating a blog post published by one of its senior fellows, a former economic policy adviser to Putin, that contains conspiracy theories about the election and defends pro-Trump rioters who stormed the Capitol last week. https://t.co/kUtnFzVSGY
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) January 12, 2021
Said conspiracy theories refer to a Jan 8, 2021 blog post entitled “Burning of the Reichstag 2021” on his Russian language LiveJournal blog, which is more or less what it says on the tin.
Andrey Illarionov is an emigre Russian libertarian economist who broke up with Putin in 2005 over his opposition to the Yukos case against Khodorkovsky.
At the time, Western journalists were shocked and aghast over his removal as an economic advisor to the President. Kirill Pankratov, writing at the erstwhile eXile, compiled some of the reactions:
(As Pankratov points out, there was no similar din and seethe when G.W. Bush dismissed his economic advisor Larry Lindsey for not quite being enthusiastic enough about the Iraq War on account of the $200 billion that he estimated it would cost. An extreme underestimate, as it would turn out. But he was out).
After his ejection from the Russian government in 2005, Illarionov spent the next 15 years criticizing Putin and Russia at the CATO Institute – up to the point of demanding sanctions against Russia and advising the US on how best to implement them on the pages of the NATO/Western arms manufacturer-funded Atlantic Council.
Now I suppose it’s too much to expect a Western hack all these somewhat relevant details when pushing the next Russiagate “drop”. (Russiagate being just a slightly less insane but infinitely more handshakeworthy version of Qanon but for libs).
I don’t work at the Cato Institute anymore.
As the vice-president of the institute told me, the reason is the content of the postscripts attached to my post “Burning of the Reichstag” – 2021 on this blog. When I was invited to work at the Cato Institute, to regularly asked questions about the position of the Institute on this or that issue, the answer was always the same: “The Institute has no other position except for the protection of individual liberty. On any issue there is not the position of the Institute, but there are different positions of the Institute’s employees, for the expression of which they have every right.”
Now this approach has changed.
As I have said more than once, freedom of speech is the foundation, the starting point, of a free society.
I suppose that Illarionov’s “problem” so far as a sustainable career in the US goes is that he is a typical 2000s American right-wing libertarian, characterized by mostly neocon takes on Russia and US foreign policy, support for the Tea Party and opposition to Obamacare and the Kyoto Protocols (a “global Auschwitz” for the world economy), and even open discussion of FBI crime stats in the context of Black racial grievances.
As such, as he was very much out of tune by mid-2000s Russia, when Putin had finished up with market reforms and started re-consolidating state authority over the Yeltsin-era oligarchs and drifting out of the 1990s America cargo cult. But by this same token of ideological inflexibility, Illarionov remained in that 2000s right-wing libertarian time warp while his host country moved on. What used to be perfectly mainstream conservative positions under G.W. Bush started becoming inconvenient and cringe under Obama and outright unhandshakewothy under the late Trump.
Now to be sure, Illarionov remained very useful for the American elites for his promotion of anti-Russia sanctions and championing of the Ukraine against “Russian aggression”. But the rants against Greta Thunberg and BLM were now seen as awkward, though his superiors were able to turn a blind eye to them by dint of most of them being confined to his Russian language blog. But “[fueling] hatred and insurrection”, in the words of Ilya Zaslavskiy – the person who did most to raise attention to Illarionov’s problematic blog posts to CATO’s managers – was evidently a step too far. At this point, he needed to be canceled and shut down.
Ilya Zaslavskiy, a researcher on post-Soviet kleptocracy, called Illarionov’s posts “downright dangerous,” .. they are shared within Russia and among Trump supporters. “Appearing academic and analytical, he fuels further hatred and insurrection,”.https://t.co/hW1GMVOL8H
— Ilya Zaslavskiy (@IZaslavskiy) January 12, 2021
Ilya Zaslavskiy’s bio on Twitter describes him as a Senior Fellow of the Free Russia Foundation, which is sponsored by the anti-Putin emigre oligarch and tax fraudster Khodorkovsky. He runs some grift NGO outfit called the Underminers (I assume it’s a grift based on its having just a couple dozen blog posts and one “research note” on its website over the eight years of its putative existence). Illarionov, at least, was highly “energetic” in his blogging. But there’s limited room at the US State Department & Co. feeding trough.
One observation I’ve seen people make is that Elon Musk’s industrial empire seems ultra-optimized for the distinctly non-commercial ambition of establishing a Mars colony:
Now in fairness, colonizing Mars is something that Musk has talked about for a long time, the ultimate goal being to make humanity into an interplanetary species and hence insulate us from Earth-specific existential risks.
In particular, Musk is concerned – at least in his public rhetoric – about the risks of machine superintelligence. His spats with DeepMind and Demis Hassabis on the topic have already moved from the Silicon Valley rumor mill to MSM coverage.
Problem: As Roko Mijic points out, there are few existential risks that would doom us on Earth while sparing our remnant on Mars… and that’s assuming said presence on Mars is indefinitely self-sustaining, which requires a population of at least 1 million* (a population level that Musk very boldly projects for 2050).
Most notably, malevolent superintelligence – probably the most realistic existential risk this century – is not one of the rare cases in which having a Mars colony will be useful. It would “simply follow humans to Mars,” as Hassabis has joked to Musk himself.
Otherwise, many existential risk scenarios can be effectively hedged with costly but still much less expensive isolated colonies on Earth:
I am sure that Musk is surely smart enough to realize this, so why maintain the Mars narrative?
My bet is on that last option. However, there’s a big additional factor that the Mars narrative conceal, and which do not seem to have gotten any attention at all, whether from his starry-eyed fans or his coping detractors.
For the same set of technologies that will technically (if not economically) enable large-scale Mars colonization also constitute a kind of template for terrestrial military dominance.
Soviet Trebelev subterrene. Materials technology of the time couldn’t handle the high heat stress – but perhaps the problem is more amendable with modern techs?
The US has scant chance of retaining its global military dominance much beyond 2050, if not earlier – much greater Chinese GDP coupled with the multiplier effects of economies of scale amidst a healthy heavy industrial base makes the twilight of US military supremacy but inevitable. Even now, at peacetime levels of military spending as a percentage of GDP, the PLAN grows by the equivalent of a major European navy every year and plans to build 1,000+ Y-20 heavy transports to attain strategic airlift dominance over East Eurasia.
Hence, perhaps, why Musk Industries has what essentially amounts to a credit spigot from branches of the American government, not all of which need be entirely or at all transparent.
Imagine you are an intelligent and perspicacious American Deep Stater, and you see the skyrocketing Chinese GDP, you see that America’s only hope of maintaining military hegemony is to make a qualitative leap, you see that dystrophic bureaucratism and affirmative action hires have made it impossible for anything interesting to get done through the old state institutions like NASA.
So why not bank on a moonshot through Musk Industries?
All the better if you can get the i❤science crowd and SWPL Tesla fans (many of them foreigners** ) who regard Musk’s EVs as the next Apple to pay much of the costs, or even bank a net profit in the process.
* In reality, I would say it would be closer to 100M. Perhaps 10M if colonists are strictly filtered for high IQ. But that’s beside the main argument.
** It would admittedly be quite funny if Chinese consumers underwrite an American victory in the next Pacific War that it would have otherwise lost.
No redeeming characters. Main “hero” is a boorish, highly unlikable, impulsive, and violent alcoholic. His wife is a whore who sleeps with his hotshot lawyer friend, who in turn scurries away back to Moscow as soon as the Chad corrupt mayor physically shows him who’s boss in his town. Almost everybody is some walking caricature of a dysfunctional, vodka-swilling, chain-smoking vatnik. I think the film meant to portray the mayor as the bad guy – the local representative of the Putin “power vertical” – but he at least built the degenerates he fleeced and presided over a beautiful church, so can he really be bad that? was my main thought as the ending panned out, judging the film on its own premises.
Caricature characters in a caricature Russia from a director who seems to have only a very vague idea of the “deep Russia” he wishes to engage in “soul searching” about.
The film is set in Teriberka, a small fishing village in Murmansk oblast that saw hard time after the collapse of the Soviet era fishing industry. However, it seems to have rather well for itself in the past decade thanks to tourism. (At any rate, I should imminently find out for myself).
Here are some specifics about Murmansk and the Russian North generally:
Maps confirming above sociological observations here: https://akarlin.com/ruriks-seed/
Still, as a movie that hit all the correct tropes about the “bleakness” and “misery” of life “outside Moscow” in “Putin’s Russia” it was not hard to see why it was such a hit with the Cannes crowd.
But it is also easy to understand why there was a mini-scandal about the fact that 35% of the movie was funded by the Russian Ministry of Culture. Pretty bizarre that Russian taxpayers were funding people who were portraying the great mass of them as stupid, impulsive alcoholics hoodwinked by priests serving mafia politicians for the snickering pleasure of the sort of people who delight in “arthouse” flicks. There is now happily much less Russian state support for “artists” who hate and despise their own people – and don’t have even the minimal talent to hide or disguise it.
Jan 9, 2020 marks the 12th year since I began blogging about Russia in 2008, before expanding into broader geopolitical topics, HBD, and futurism within that same year.
Here is a graph of my pageviews across my websites during this period.
(I did not plot visits to my personal webpages akarlin.com and akarlin.ru for 2019-20 since they have largely been inactive legacy archives ever since I moved to UR in 2015, with diminishing numbers of pageviews over the years).
Since the sharp upwards spike of 2018, viewership has stalled, though it hides significant quarterly dips and rises, as you can see from this graph broken down by month:
I was highly preoccupied with personal/work-related matters in late 2019, hence the slump in the second half. Conversely, I was able to be much more productive this year, generating a record 381 posts. This should have translated into a record amount of visits and page views given The Unz Review’s expansion over the past few years, my own increasing profile (e.g. Twitter followers have doubled to 8,600 over the past two years, despite repeated purges) and the large amount of big habbenings this year.
But this was not to be. Google took strong exception to this site in mid-2020 and deranked it in Google searches. Google is a near monopolist in the Anglosphere search market, so that made me virtually invisible so far as search engine “discovery” went. Facebook banned us from the entire platform, making it impossible to share unz.com links even in private messages, as well as deleting all past posts and comments containing them. Considering my accurate and timely coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, it is likely that Sundar Pichai and Mark Zuckerberg have blood on their hands in so far as their interference meant that fewer people, including potential policy-makers, were denied viewership of these posts.
Anyhow, with Google searches and Facebook accounting for about 30% and 10% of my traffic, respectively, what should have been more than 2 million views this year resulted in only 1.5 million instead:
On a month to month basis, the decline in the second half was partially disguised by general intensified politicization surrounding BLM and the US elections. But unless there are many more powerful habbenings this year, this factor will recede into the background, while the restrictions from Google and Facebook will, presumably, stay on – and may be joined by additional ones from Twitter, which is now on a banning spree against pundits of both Right and Left that are not aligned with the woke neoliberal elite consensus.
As such, I do not expect any gains in viewership in 2021 for a fourth year running, though I don’t really expect significant losses either on account of continued organic growth.
This year did not really see individual “seminal” longreads along the lines of Katechon Hypothesis and The Geography of the Noosphere, though overall I think I did a good job accurately covering this year’s main developments.
No need for further commentary, since I devoted what is probably my single longest post this year to it.
Bad outcomes. Lucked out with vaccines. Needn’t have been so. Proof of “politics is the mindkiller.”
Curated list here: https://akarlin.com/archive/#CoronavirusCOVID-19
Most #BLM demands are based on lies… toxic lies that constitute long-term threats to the civilizational viability of not just the US but it’s vassal states.
Silver lining is that the US has been giving us ample cause to “socially distance” from them, both in summer and much more recently.
(3) Minsk Maidan
Predicted that Lukashenko would probably stay in power – but that this would not be an unambiguous boon for Russia, since Luka wants to hang onto power (being potato dictator of BSSR is cooler than retirement in Rostov). This has all played out as expected.
However, Russia cannot expect accomodation with the opposition – at least its dominant Tikhanovskaya wing. Their secret program was ultra-zmagarist form the start and I was the first to cover that in English.
This graph should be recognizable to regulars by now. God favors the side with the drones, not the one with the democratists. Who would have thought.
(5) Notable Russia posts:
(6) Other posts:
(7) Quite a few “rare”/niche obituaries, thanks in part – certainly so in the case of Avdeev, possibly so in the case of Krylov – thanks to Corona-chan.
In other news, I also co-authored a couple of psychometrics-related papers:
You can download them via Sci-Hub. I explain how to use Sci-Hub (and other useful piracy tools) here: https://akarlin.com/piracy-guide/
I will try to blog soon about the second paper.
My classic article, probably my most read one ever – The Idiocy of the Average – was very kindly translated into Russian by Mikhail Lebedev. I also updated my classic Sputnik & Pogrom article on Russian IQ with new PISA data for Ukraine and Belarus, as well as military testing data for Russian regions.
I will start off with an extended organizational note on how to follow me and will finish up with my blogging plans for this year.
(1) FOLLOWING BLOG
I don’t know how long I will survive on Twitter – after Facebook/Google, and a shadowban this summer, I gave my survival this year even chances. I am perhaps no longer as squarely in Jack’s crosshairs – the current wave of purges are targeting Qanon and the more “agitated” boomercons – but the overall level of censorship is likewise much higher, to the extent that NRx blogger spandrell is predicting that the Western social media sphere will go the way of China’s Weibo (i.e. with politicals purged, it becomes an apolitical platform for celebrities, hobbyists, corporate PR teams, etc).
For reasons I will go into in another post, there is limited utility to “getting on Gab” and the like. So, if it happens, I will likely vanish from Western social media (apart from a small private account on Twitter for observation purposes).
Despite the simplicity of the underlying idea – it’s really just an integrated blogging platform + mailing list + Patreon – Substack has driven a small renaissance in blogging from the second half of the year. So much so, that I will post a much needed update to my “blogroll” in the next few days. I will not be “blogging” there, but I do intend to use it to send (very) occasional important updates for those of you who are interested in keeping tabs on my work without checking in here often.
Pretty remarkable that, for all people’s complaints about the toxicity of social media, one of the simplest and most customizable been relegated to the sidelines. I am talking about the humble blog reader, which seems to have gone near extinct when Google nuked its Google Reader in 2013. But plenty of good alternatives exist – personally, I use Feedly, though I know that many people prefer Old Reader. If there are many significant numbers of individual blogs or columnists that you follow, a blog reader is extremely useful. I am happy that Substack is compatible with them.
(2) REFERENCE MATERIALS
One issue that people have raised with me is how to best “introduce” me to new followers or access some article of mine deep in the Unz Review archives. This is explained in the sidebar of my blog and individual posts (below this photo of me in Nizhny Novgorod), but since it’s quite deep on any given page, many people understandably don’t notice it.
So I’ll take the opportunity to clarify how to navigate my past work/archives:
I get an income stream from the very generous Ron Unz, so while I do appreciate reader donations, they are not currently necessary for me to keep writing and keep said writing freely available. This is a privilege, and one that many “public intellectuals” don’t enjoy. Furthermore, I am not poor by Russian standards, and I don’t want to feel like I’m exploiting my readers like some BLM or MAGA grifter. So again, please don’t feel obliged to contribute if you’re struggling yourself. In fact, I’d rather you not.
However, if you are substantially moneyed, and derive enjoyment, satisfaction, intellectual stimulation, or indeed monetary benefits from my blogging – e.g., my forewarnings on the global crash last February, or the advice to not bet on Trump or the Republicans in Georgia – then I do give you license to imagine me tipping a piggy bank towards you:
This list of donation methods is kept updated on the sidebar, and on this page: https://akarlin.com/donations/
(4) PLANS FOR 2021
I have had an unfortunate habit of overpromising and under fulfilling in previous years, so I am going to tone down on my ambitions this time round, trading caution for completion:
Credit where credit is due – Navalny has come out against Trump’s deplatforming. (He posted the same thing in Russian).
The brighter Blue Checks RT’ed this, saying, OK, good points, though I respectfully disagree.
Some of the duller Blue Checks and Russiagaters in the replies attacked Navalny, calling him a Russian nationalist, expressing “disappointment” in him, or even insinuating he works for Putler.
Another suggestion was that it was some principled commitment to freedom of speech? Doubt. Navalny’s position on this, as on most things, is highly situational. From his “nationalist” days in the 2000s:
An alliance of lower-tier Kremlin propaganda, leftist “Western Russophiles”, and “based” Western racialist nationalists portray Alexey Navalny as a nationalist based on a few racially charged comments he made a decade ago. It is therefore highly ironic that he was the architect of Tesak’s first prison sentence. In 2007, Tesak barged into a club hosting a debate between the a couple of journalists, the pro-Putin Maxim Kononenko and the pro-Western Yulia Latynina. The moderator, who happened to be Navalny, agreed to give him a word. Tesak used the opportunity to ask them if they agreed that Russia would be better off if it killed all democrats, and then started to throw up his hands and “Sieg Heil” with his followers. Navalny, along with fellow liberal Ilya Yashin and Masha Gaidar (the daughter of the late Egor Gaidar, the principal ideologist of Russia’s 1990s economic reforms; incidentally, she has since given up her Russian citizenship and emigrated to Ukraine), wrote a complaint to the Prosecutor-General asking to raise a case against Tesak. As a result, he was imprisoned under Article 282 for three years. Once you’re convicted once under Article 282, it becomes increasingly likely you will be imprisoned under it time and time again, even if you subsequently “moderate” your message (see my Rule 5). So it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that none other than Navalny was a key architect in Russia’s most prominent Neo-Nazi spending most of the rest of his life in prison.
Has he since seen the light? Maybe. Maybe not. Who cares.
The actual answer is that this is the only correct position for someone who clearly remains intent to appealing to at least some segment of the Russian electorate.
First, while one may quibble with many of those points, #10 is undoubtedly correct. This “unpersoning” of Trump in response to trespassing cosplayers is a huge hit on the credibility of American rhetoric on democracy, freedom of speech, etc. It is going to give sovereignist states scope to impose greater restrictions on the operation of American social media in their own Internet, as well as to promote their own native social media apps. After all, consider this from Russia’s position. The US social media giants are going all out to suppress supporters of a fake coup against USG. Are they going to ban Navalny should he hypothetically give the command to storm the Kremlin? To ask the question is to answer it.
This is going to happen regardless, nor is it even going to be confined to “authoritarian” states like Russia, where Putin recently signed on a bill to block or slow down Western social media that restricted the free speech rights of Russian citizens and media:
A law is due to be passed in Poland that would fine Big Tech firms $2.2 million every time they unconstitutionally censor lawful speech online.
Under its provisions, social media services will not be allowed to remove content or block accounts if they do not break Polish law.
— Visegrad 24 🇨🇿🇭🇺🇵🇱🇸🇰 (@visegrad24) January 10, 2021
However, when it does, Navalny can in all honesty deflect charges of hypocrisy. No, I did not support deplatforming Trump.
Second, while Navalny’s potential electorate may be pretty marginal, it does exist. The corruption theme may be all played out, but freedom of speech could become another one. Libertarianism is trendy amongst Moscow zoomers. Not dominant, but the subculture is bigger and more memetic than the nationalist one. (I am personally a nationalist, not a libertarian, so this is not a biased assessment). This new outgrowth of libertarianism incongruously combines social and market liberalism with some elements of Men’s Rights Activism, freedom of speech, Dawkins atheism, Polonophilia/limitrophilia, and some elements of Trumpism. Pepes are a thing in that crowd. (Funny how memes drift and mutate over time and borders).
This position, at least, appeals to that potential (future) electorate.
Because let’s take it, cringe takes don’t even have an audience amongst Moscow’s libertarian zoomers:
Dear English-speaking colleagues, you may get the wrong impression from the last few days that Russian opposition is pro-Trump. It is not. At least significant part isn't. I'm confident that we'll be able to explain to others who simply lag the understanding of the events in U.S.
— Vladimir Milov (@v_milov) January 9, 2021
They are only interesting to the most self-hating Russian liberals (who would support Navalny by default) and “English-speaking colleagues” in American NGOs and the State Department.
(Vladimir Milov is a “democratic activist” who is a Navalny ally and regularly makes his disdain for Russia felt even by the standards of the democratic opposition).
So at least so far as Navalny’s position is concerned, it is higher IQ than the “significant part” of the Russian opposition that supports Twitter’s defenestration of Trump.
If you want to use state power to control private companies because you don't like the decisions they make, *you* are the greater danger to a free society.
— Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63) January 10, 2021
Some more Russian language examples, including Maksim Kats and Lyubov Sobol.
Which of these “wings” of the Russian opposition will win out – the strategically pro-free speech for everyone Navalny or the Katses and Kasparovs who don’t bother to conceal that this is a privilege only for the “liberal”, pro-Western handshakeworthy?
Historical experience suggests it’s the former:
It was these same, multi-national liberal elites that signed the “Letter of 42” demanding the suppression of nationalists and Communists in the wake of Yeltsin’s 1993 assault on the democratically elected Russian Duma.
Incidentally, Americans might want to know that this is how an actual coup against the people’s representatives looks like:
Western leaders applauded Yeltsin as a great democrat when he sent tanks vs. popularly elected Duma which opposed his reforms in 1993. Hundreds of Russian patriots from Left and Right were martyred. This is what an actual assault on a "sacred temple of our democracy" looks like. pic.twitter.com/xpNhM02tr7
— ANATꙮLY KARLIN 🤔 akarlin.com (@akarlin88) January 8, 2021
It was these same people who demanded Russia implement Article 282 hate speech laws in the 2000s, which they supported until the prosecutions under it went so haywire and out of control by the mid to late 2010s that ironically the more Russophobe liberals also started suffering under it – they had been fine with it when it was only used to prosecute Russian nationalists for saying things such as “it’s time to do away with this strange economic system” [of subsidies to the Caucasus]. (Putin decriminalized 282 it a couple of years ago).
It was these same people who, by and large, attacked people like Assange, Snowden, and Butina just for daring in some real or imagined way to upset their spiritual masters.
So, given just this historical precedent, we can expect a liberal pro-Western Maidan in Russia to result in the repression of Russian nationalists to a much greater extent than is the case today. Given their open and incessant cargo culting of the West, in which SJWism is assuming an increasingly totalitarian nature, it will indeed likely become impossible to even talk honestly about things like national IQ differences in the context of immigration policy. Likewise, leftism will only be permitted in the context that they restrict their activism to shutting down Russia’s nuclear complex and campaigning for #BLM and gay marriage.
There are MAGA people claiming this is a deep fake in the replies, LOL.
As concerns the ability to generate an undying cult of personality, even past the point of becoming a (political) corpse, I suppose Donald Trump truly is the “God-Emperor of Mankind.”
Having a non-suspended Twitter account is helpful with that, I imagine.
Approaching $200 billion ($195B according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, vs. Bezos’ $185B), he has blown his way past Bezos after Tesla shares surged north of $800 today. Its p/e ratio is now above 1,600 and accounts for more than 40% of the market capitalization of all the world’s automakers combined.
Brian Wang of NextBigFuture, who had correctly predicted Tesla’s successes, explains it in the short-term as a by-effect of the Dem wins in Georgia, which makes some form of the Green New Deal close to inevitable. Big new tax credits to come.
And this is just the beginning, according to Wang:
This is just the beginning. Tesla will be heading for another ten times increase in share price by 2025. SpaceX, Boring Company and Neuralink will become publicly traded and also will become trillion dollar or multi-trillion dollar companies.
Personally, I think Tesla is a ridiculous bubble at this stage (but sure, obligatory reminder about rationality and solvency).
Though I am strongly bullish on SpaceX, and do think there’s a very good chance that that is what makes Musk into the world’s first trillionaire. That is because SpaceX has unique technologies to fling things into space at massively cheaper prices, this very fact is going to expand the market space launches, and the whole thing is going to become turbocharged by the multiplicate monetization potential of Starlink. State-backed competitors in China and Russia are at least a decade away from replicating the reusable rocketry that SpaceX already has.
Conversely, is there really room for Amazon to grow much further? It was obviously turbocharged by the pandemic, but that’s going to go away in 2021, while unionization pressures may crimp profits. So I don’t see Bezos being a likely candidate for trillionairehood, unless Blue Origin can become a strong competitor to SpaceX.