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Neoliberal Compradors and lumpenelite

News Fifth column Recommended Links Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement Creating a Favorable Climate of Investment
Comprador vs. national bourgeoisie Neoliberalism as a New form of Corporatism Casino Capitalism Color revolutions Globalization of Financial Flows Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult Net Hamsters as a part of fifth column
Human rights activists or globalism fifth column Frustrated underachievers IntelliXencia: Corruption of Intelligensia and it usage in fifth column in Russia Nine reasons why Kreaklys do not like Russia Purple revolution    
Predator state Disaster capitalism Bombing country with dollars Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia Greece debt enslavement Ukraine debt enslavement The Rape of Russia
Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" NGOs in Russia Comprador leaders recruitment William Browder and Magnitsky Death Boris Berezovsky Khodorkovski case  
Creating a Favorable Climate of Investment Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair Diplomacy by deception New American Militarism Corporatism Russian Fifth column Humor Etc
  In the summer of 1994 when former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev appeared in a Russian court to testify he was met by a gauntlet of protestors shouting, "Judas".

Comprador class is an important concept in the neocolonial dependence model. It reflects  a specific way to force the country to fulfill the demands of capital (aka transnational corporations) of rich countries. This unequal relationship between the centre (the developed countries) and the periphery Policies of the USA and EU countries are based on support of a small, but powerful elite or comprador class.

In Russia it is pretty powerful social strata that includes the representatives of pseudo-democratic views who received considerable wealth  during Yeltsin's reign and is now seeking to turn back "the wheel of history". For them the main thing is to secure the return of such period the degradation of Russia, in which they could continue  to plunder the country with impunity. Today, the only guarantor of their existence is the "democratic" West, mortally afraid of the revival of a powerful Eastern neighbor and ready to do whatever it costs to support corrupt comprador Russian troops. In this respect West is following a well  known cynical formula used by FDR in respect to Somoza invitation to Washington: "He may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch"

The comprador class is consisted of people with strong ties to the West such as export industry owners, financial traders, military and civil top bureaucrats, university professors and administrators, professionals with better employment prospects in foreign corporations, such as programmers. Such people often keep their financial assets in Western banks, there families live in Western capitals and their children typically get an education in prestigious Western universities. There is a convergence of the interests of comprador elite with the interests of financial and industrial elite of developed nations. The comprador group serve to inhibit any genuine reform efforts that might benefit the wider population of underdeveloped countries and, due to this service, the group is highly rewarded by the international interest groups including MNC, aid agencies, World Bank and IMF, which are tied allegiance or funding to wealthy capitalist countries.

There are several terms to describe basically the same phenomenon. The most prominent are three:

My impression is that development of xUSSR countries in general and Russia in particular are somewhat similar to the Latin American countries development path. The existence of influential pro-western lobby in nothing new and new labels and nicknames only conceal the fact that they are lasting and universal phenomenon for all the rest of world.

Yegor Gaidar with his adoption of  Jeffrey Sachs shock therapy and Anatoly Chubais and his privatization gang were probably the prominent initial liberast players in Russia.  But the trend was actually in place from Gorbachov perestroika times. So called "komsomol-oligrachs" such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky surfaced during Gorbachev initial and very corrupt privatization of state assets via so called NTP. Large part of initial accumulation of capital was reselling foreign goods (especially personal computers and cars) by those newly minted compradors. 

Among them we can distinguish several typical social groups:

One uniquely Russia part was midlevel KGB operatives, especially previously stationed abroad, which decided to link its future with the West and which were instrumental in dismantling of the Soviet state (Lebedev, Gudkov)

Lumpenbourgeoisie - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lumpenbourgeoisie is a term most often attributed to Andre Gunder Frank in 1972[1][2] [a] to describe a type of a middle class[1] and upper class[3] (merchants, lawyers, industrialists, etc.)[4]; one that has little collective self-awareness or economic base[1] and who supports the colonial masters.[1][3] The term is most often used in the context of Latin America.[2][4]

Frank writing on the origins of the term[2] noted that he created this neologism[1] lumpenbourgeoisie from lumpenproletariat and bourgeoisie because while the Latin America's colonial and neocolonial elites were similar to European bourgeoisie on many levels, they had one major difference. This difference was their mentality of the marxist lumpenproletariat, the "refuse of all classes" (as described in Marx's The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon) easy to manipulate to support the capitalist system, often turning to crime.[2] Similarly, the colonial elites would—while not involved in crime activities—hurt local economy by aiding the foreign exploiters.[2][5] Foreign colonial powers want to acquire resources and goods found in the colonies, and they find this facilitated with incorporation of the local elites into the system, as they become intermediaries between the rich colonial buyers and the poor local producers.[5] The local elites become increasingly reliant on the system in which they supervise gathering of the surplus production from the colonies, taking their cut and before the remaining goods are sold abroad.[5] Frank termed this economic system lumpendevelopment[5] and the countries affected by it, lumpenstates.[4]

The term Lumpenbourgeoisie was already used in Austria by about 1926. The author was an Austrian social democratic journalist and he used the term in at least one article in a Viennese periodical. Another example of the use of the term was given by Czech philosopher Karel Kosík in 1997. In his article, Lumpenburžoazie a vyšší duchovní pravda ("Lumpenbourgeoisie and the higher spiritual truth") he defines Lumpenbourgeoisie as "a militant, openly anti-democratic enclave within a functioning, however half-hearted and thus helpless democracy".

Modern usage

comprador uncountable)
  1. A section of an indigenous middle class allied with foreign investors, multi-national corporations, bankers, and military interests.

Encyclopedia of the developing world - Google Books

The Oxford companion to politics of ... - Google Books

cultivates those countries as reservoirs of cheap labor and raw materials, while restricting their access to advanced production techniques to develop their own economies.

Some critics[who?] emphasize that neocolonialism allows certain cartels of states, such as the World Bank, to control and exploit usually lesser developed countries (LDCs) by fostering debt. In most cases, much of the money loaned to these LDCs is returned to the favored foreign corporations. Thus, these foreign loans are in effect subsidies to corporations of the loaning state's. This collusion is sometimes referred to as the corporatocracy.


The Tragic Failure Of Post-communism In Eastern Europe | Financial ...

One common argument among postcolonial intellectuals is that it is too simplistic to say that imperialism has ended and that this occurred when the European empires relinquished their colonies during the few decades after the second world war. The use of the term, neocolonialism, is one such manifestation of this ongoing nature of imperialism. Yet it is in itself extremely contentious because it is multifaceted and loosely used, is often used as a synonym for contemporary forms of imperialism, and in a polemical way is used in reaction to any unjust and oppressive expression of Western political power. Lying underneath all these various meanings of neocolonialism is a tacit understanding that colonialism should be seen as something more than the formal occupation and control of territories by a Western metropole. Hence while formal methods of control like the implementation of administrative structures, the stationing of military forces, and most importantly the incorporation of the natives as subjects of the metropolitan government, neocolonialism suggests an indirect form of control through economic and cultural dependence. In this case neocolonialism describes the continued control of former colonies through ruling native elites compliant with neocolonial powers, populations that are exploited for their labour and resources in order to feed an insatiable appetite for finished physical or cultural commodities made by the metropole.

There is some theoretical consensus and development of neocolonialism as well. Scholars in postcolonial studies like Robert Young, Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin agree that inspite of the looseness of the term, neocolonialism originated with Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first post-independence president. Part of a burgeoning consciousness developing among postcolonial elites in Africa, Nkrumah became aware that the gaining of independence and national sovereignty by African states were purely token and in no substantial way altered the relationship between the colonial powers and the colonized state. In effect the formal granting of independence created a more Manichean system of dependency and exploitation:

Neo-colonialism is... the worst form of imperialism. For those who practise it, it means power without responsibility and for those who suffer from it, it means exploitation without redress. In the days of old-fashioned colonialism, the imperial power had at least to explain and justify at home the actions it was taking abroad. In the colony those who served the ruling imperial power could at least look to its protection against any violent move by their opponents. With neo-colonialism neither is the case. (xi)

In particular, Nkrumah makes the following points about neocolonialism in 1965:

In more recent days there have been attempts to frame such reactions to new forms of colonialism as simply "irrational" antipathy towards the West, as a type of resentment for the disparities between First World and Third, and also as a way of explaining victimization. However Nkrumah's views on neocolonialism cannot be so easily explained because they more firmly elaborate historical and possibly deterministic structures on a larger scale. Particularly Nkrumah sought to develop the idea of imperialism advanced by Lenin in Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. In this case it makes no sense to claim that imperialism sustains itself because of the continued lust for power after power but that there exists a higher logic driven on by capitalism and the never ending need of accumulation and production, now sustained on a global scale. Nkrumah picks up on these Marxist themes by noting how capitalism and its problems (like class conflict) occurring at the metropolitan centers become "transferred" onto the peripheries.

While Nkrumah does not provide a solution to neocolonialism in Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism he makes a number tacit suggestions, including the need for pan-African unity in making the task more difficult for neocolonialism. But it is a number of allusions to Marxism that Nkrumah exposes his views on neocolonialism as a potentially self-defeating project. In some sense this would come through postcolonial resistance and revolt when neocolonialism reaches a culmination in the peripheries, but more indirectly destabilizes the neocolonial centre that practices it.

Apart from Nkrumah, the idea of neocolonialism has also been used in other contexts. Robert Young, for instance, sees neocolonialism as being advanced first through "development and dependency theory" and then through "critical development theory" (49-56). At issue in development and dependency theory is the difficulty for the Third World states in escaping from the Western notion of development. Classification, economic growth, the ways economic output is measured, and the progressive linear model of development have been so deeply entrenched that neocolonized states have no other recourse but to be part of that system. Consequently dependency theorists depict a world made up of developmental inequities, noting that metropolitan centers, in seeking to be even more developed, "under-develop" the peripheries through trade exploitation. More recently critical development theory goes beyond its predecessor because the notion of neocolonial actions in the periphery cannot be so easily explained, especially with the economic successes of Asia. In this regard "development" can no longer be theorized in purely economic terms but has to incorporate other dimensions like culture, gender, society and politics as well. In variations of critical development theory like post-development theory, Young asserts that there has been a movement towards "popular development." This is the empowerment of usually non-governmental, civil actors to address fundamental human needs, hence an emphasis on sustainable development, "self-reliance," and "cultural pluralism and rights" (55). A number of post-development theorists have even advocated development outside the framework of the Enlightenment logic, and by so doing look towards postcolonial politics as the future direction development theory could take. It is at this juncture that Young notes the potential convergence between developmental theory and postcolonialism.

Works Cited

In Russia it is pretty powerful social strata that includes the representatives of pseudo-democratic views who received considerable wealth  during Yeltsin's reign and is now seeking to turn back "the wheel of history". For them the main thing is to secure the return of such period the degradation of Russia, in which they could continue  to plunder the country with impunity. Today, the only guarantor of their existence is the "democratic" West, mortally afraid of the revival of a powerful Eastern neighbor and ready to do whatever it costs to support corrupt comprador Russian troops. In this respect West is following a well  known cynical formula used by FDR in respect to Somoza invitation to Washington: "He may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch"

As Anatol Lieven noted (America Right or Wrong- December 21, 2004 )

Perhaps it may be more difficult these days to run such manifestly comprador systems given that, as I suggested earlier, there does tend to be more democratic pressure from below than in the 19th century. A good example is Russia, although admittedly Russia also has its tradition of Great Power status and so forth which prevents it from becoming completely subservient to America. As I wrote in a previous book on the reasons for Russia's defeat in Chechnya between 1994 and 1996, there was a real attempt by America in the 1990s, with tremendous help from the Russian elites themselves, to turn Russia into a kind of comprador state, whose elites would be subservient to America in foreign policy and would exist to export raw materials to the West and transfer money to Western bank accounts.

In the end, neither the Russian state nor the Russian people would accept that. The Yeltsin order was replaced by a kind of authoritarian, nationalist backlash under Putin. One sees the same thing in a rather different form in Venezuela, for example.

comprador vs. national bourgeoisie (Kasama Threads)

I remember the color revolutions in the Ukraine and Georgia very well. I also remember the color revolution in Kyrghyzia and also in Serbia.

Let me say again that there is NO possibility of a color revolution in Russia and the political situation in Russia is absolutely not conducive to such a revolution.

I respectfully disagree. I also remember "Orange Revolution" well :-). And I do not share your optimism for several reasons:

1. West is a really powerful force and had the brainpower and money. Like Ukraine, Russia is an oligarchic republic that is by definition susceptible to this type of coup d'état. There is always a level of discontent that can be exploited. In a way, discontent against local oligarchy is a perfect way to topple any (I mean ANY) weaker oligarchic republic by stronger oligarchic republic without direct army conflict just by using fifth column and money.  With Putin charismatic leadership Russia is rather strange oligarchic republic, much less hostile to common people, then others. But still it is an oligarchic republic, not that different from the USA or GB.  Such an aberration from "historical norm" does not last forever. As sad as it was, the economic rape of Russia under Yeltsin was more of a norm then exception.   As Mark aptly observed the meme is “There’s always money for regime change”.

This is very true because those investments can produce the best return of capital possible. Moreover acting this way is the most logical for the USA as this is the least costly way to achieve its security goals in this part of the globe. So they will never stop, just regroup and try again. In way this is a Trotsky's dream of "permanent revolution" which come true in a very perverted form. Judging from Ukraine experience those guys who are doing "color revolution" staff for living have brainpower and money to adapt so you never be sure what will be next trick and from which direction it will hit you. This story with Yushchenko  poisoning was a thing of beauty of Machiavellian politics, is not it?  In Russia they are trying to spread rumors about Putin hidden billions and palaces, but so far not with much success. They will find something else soon. BTW the fact that Medevedev awarded Gorbachov the highest medal (Order of St. Andrew) on his 80th birthday, despite the fact the Putin called dissolution of the USSR the largest socio-political catastrophe is a kick in the face of any real Russian patriot and dies not inspire too much trust in the regime.

2. The claim of "democratization" and usage of election hijacking as the mean of "regime change" suppresses the "natural immune response" of the state to the foreign invasion. Like AIDS it is difficult to treat once you get infected. And this suppression of immune response is very real in this case. For example, absence of requirements to publish exist polls results only with all necessary information about size of the sample, the questions used (this is very important) and financial backers of the efforts, etc is the blunder that Russian authorities committed. That either suggests that they never learned anything from Orange revolution or were afraid to act decisively.  IMHO iron control of NGO related to interpretation of election results is a must if country wants to survive. That should include iron rules for publication of exit polls results which should be controlled by Central Election Commission or similar authority with criminal penalty for violations. I think in view of consequences of Orange Revolution for Ukraine an article about "misinterpretation" of exit polls should be in criminal code of any state because it is just legitimate form of sedition. Otherwise their is no defense against claims like recent Levada center NGO ( claim of 15% vote fraud in Moscow -- direct replica of tricks Orange revolution organizers played with impunity. And I probably am not alone seeing a strong analogy of falsification of exit pools results with sedition. From Wikipedia:

The difference between sedition and treason consists primarily in the subjective ultimate object of the violation to the public peace. Sedition does not consist of levying war against a government nor of adhering to its enemies, giving enemies aid, and giving enemies comfort. Nor does it consist, in most representative democracies, of peaceful protest against a government, nor of attempting to change the government by democratic means (such as direct democracy or constitutional convention).
Sedition is the stirring up of rebellion against the government in power. Treason is the violation of allegiance to one's sovereign or state, giving aid to enemies, or levying war against one's state. Sedition is encouraging one's fellow citizens to rebel against their state, whereas treason is actually betraying one's country by aiding and abetting another state. Sedition laws somewhat equate to terrorism and public order laws.

3. Russian government was/is completely beaten/outmaneuvered in the battle for internet media. Facebook and Twitter are channels that they can't control and those are huge help for "color revolution" organizers. Help which in a way replaces old-fashioned role of newspapers. And we all know how Bolsheviks treated newspapers a century ago. In case of Russia much like was the case in Ukraine opposition also can rely on at least one TV channel (Dozhd'). So the situation with media looks similar or an exact replica of Ukrainian scenario. That means that an important precondition for color revolution is met: "fake violations amplifier" mechanism is in place.

4. Authorities look passive and brain-dead in case issue of "falsification of falsification" trick with exit polls.  Looks like they never read the book:  The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls.  With the notable exception of Putin's brave four hour counterattack there was no efforts to counter the "falsifications of falsifications" and explain who they are and what interests they support with exit pools "falsifications of falsifications".  But even he did not stress the key mechanism of generating discontent. There was some weak noise about  "three card monte sociologists"  from Central Election Commission (, but it was after the fact when all the initiative was completely lost. Nothing or very little was done preemptively. Authorities got into trap of reacting for claims about violations. And Putin's suggestion to put camera is IMHO questionable as it belongs to this line of thinking. Cameras are need to control how exit pools are conducted much more that in the polling stations. Again the real issue here is the control of exit polls by NGOs. This is a huge black mark for Medvedev. Was it so difficult to publish "rules of the game for exit polls" before that elections? And inspect such NGO's as Levada center for violation of rules about financing before elections to make some heads a little bit cooler and some money not available? That again proved that he is a very weak politician as the key for politician is to sniff where the danger to his power comes from and preemptively react to it. As a result, some level of destabilization was actually achieved. Again, there was no clear and well articulation message about exit polls as the key mechanism for manipulating public opinion about elections. If we in this blog can figure this out, why not those who are responsible for such things? This brain-dead treatment of the key mechanism of Orange revolution is inexcusable and suggests that repetition of "color revolution" is not unfeasible.

5. Oligarchic republic self-generates the "fifth column" of compradors who are more tied to the West then to the native country. Russia in not an exception. Compradors by definition are mainly enriching some foreign entity taking a cut for themselves so they are already pre-existing element of the "regime change".  And fifth column is usually more pronounced in capitals where the "color revolution" take place as the capital usually has stronger ties with the West. In Russia the fifth column is weaker then in Ukraine were the county is essentially split between Western and Eastern parts, but still it exists and is growing.  Especially because international finance plays more and more important role in Russian economy, after joining WTO (although the USA and Russia agreed not to use WTO terms in mutual trade at least for now). I suspect that financial oligarchy by definition represents fifth column (Khodorkovsky after all was a  prominent "Komsomol banker", the owner of Menatep bank). If this is true, then growth of power of local financial oligarchy (is not Kudrin the best friend of Putin?) and high level of interconnection between Russia financial system and global financial system increase chances for the "regime change". Also the essence of neo-colonialism is financial dependency (debt slavery) so any efforts to increase Russia external debt can also be instrumental in regime change (the USSR scenario). Also credit default swaps and other derivatives represent certain danger and probably can be used as supplementary instruments supporting the regime change. See 

6. Oil represents now a strategic resource. As such all countries with this resource are marks. And no matter what Russia do, my impression is that the West is not inclined to offer Russia an equal treatment. There is a strong, persistent, strategic determination to convert Russia to the banana republic status of supplier of cheap oil and gas, Russian population be damned, and the work is under way and money are allocated to achieve this goal one way or another. The USSR went into a trap of excessive military spending that ruined the economy and put millions into abject poverty after its collapse.  There is no guarantee that Russia will not get in some other trap.

The most dramatic recent demonstration of the power of fifth column the dissolution of the USSR and aftermath. At some point elites in the USSR grow thier power to the extent when they feel that it's time to privatize the country assets. Dissolution of the USSR was the mean to this end.  What is interesting is the composition of this new transnational elite that came to power in xUSSR space in 1991. It was broad and powerful political force which included part of old elite such as KGB brass and especially its international division (Alexander Lebedev is one example), CPSU  bonzas, etc as well as new elite such as

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[Apr 29, 2018] Macron The Last Multilateralist by Patrick J. Buchanan

He wants the return of France colonial glory.
Notable quotes:
"... Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, ..."
"... . To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at ..."
Apr 27, 2018 |

"Together," President Macron instructed President Trump, "we can resist the rise of aggressive nationalisms that deny our history and divide the world."

In an address before Congress on Wednesday, France's Macron denounced "extreme nationalism," invoked the UN, NATO, WTO, and Paris climate accord, and implored Trump's America to come home to the New World Order.

"The United States is the one who invented this multilateralism," Macron went on, "you are the one now who has to help preserve and reinvent it."

His visit was hailed and his views cheered, but on reflection, the ideas of Emmanuel Macron seem to be less about tomorrow than yesterday. For the world he celebrates is receding into history. The America of 2018 is coming to see NATO as having evolved into an endless U.S. commitment to go to war with Russia on behalf of a rich Europe that resolutely refuses to provide for its own defense.

Since the WTO was created in the mid-90s, the U.S. has run $12 trillion in trade deficits, and among the organization's biggest beneficiaries -- the EU. Under the Paris climate accord, environmental restrictions are put upon the United States from which China is exempt. As for the UN, is that sinkhole of anti-Americanism, the General Assembly, really worth the scores of billions we have plunged into it?

"Aggressive nationalism" is a term that might well fit Napoleon Bonaparte, whose Arc de Triomphe sits on the Champs-Elysees. But does it really fit the Hungarians, Poles, Brits, Scots, Catalans, and other indigenous peoples of Europe who are now using democratic methods and means to preserve their national homes?

And the United States would seem an odd place to go about venting on "aggressive nationalisms that deny our history." Did Macron not learn at the Lycee Henri IV in Paris or the Ecole Nationale d'Administration how the Americans acquired all that land? General Washington, at whose Mount Vernon home Macron dined, was a nationalist who fought for six years to sever America's ties to the nation under which he was born. How does Macron think Andrew Jackson acquired Florida from Spain, Sam Houston acquired Texas from Mexico, and Winfield Scott and Zachary Taylor acquired the Southwest? By bartering?

Aggressive nationalism is a good synonym for the Manifest Destiny of a republic that went about relieving Spain of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. How does Macron think the "New World" was conquered and colonized if not by aggressive British, French, and Spanish nationalists determined to impose their rule upon weaker indigenous tribes? Was it not nationalism that broke up the USSR into 15 nations?

Was not the Zionist movement that resurrected Israel in 1948, and in 1967 captured the West Bank and then annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, a manifestation of aggressive nationalism?

Macron is an echo of George H.W. Bush who in Kiev in 1991 warned Ukrainians against the "suicidal nationalism" of declaring independence from the Russian Federation. "Aggressive nationalisms divide the world," warns Macron. Well, yes, they do, which is why we have now 194 members of the U.N., rather than the original 50. Is this a problem? "Together," said Macron, "we will build a new, strong multilateralism that defends pluralism and democracy in the face of ill winds."

Macron belongs to a political class that sees open borders and free trade thickening and tightening the ties of dependency, and eventually creating a One Europe whose destiny his crowd will forever control.

But if his idea of pluralism is multiracial, multiethnic, and multicultural nations, with a multilateral EU overlord, he is describing a future that tens of millions of Europeans believe means the deaths of the nations that give meaning to their lives.

And they will not go gently into that good night.

In America, too, millions have come to recognize that there is a method to the seeming madness of open borders. Name of the game: dispossessing the deplorables of the country they love.

With open borders and mass migration of over a million people a year into the USA, almost all of them from third-world countries that vote 70 to 90 percent Democratic, the left is foreclosing the future. They're converting the greatest country of the West into what Teddy Roosevelt called a "polyglot boarding house for the world." And in that boarding house the left will have a lock on the presidency.

With the collaboration of co-conspirators in the media, progressives throw a cloak of altruism over the cynical seizure of permanent power.

For, as the millions of immigrants here legally and illegally register, and the vote is extended to prison inmates, ex-cons, and 16-year-olds, the political complexion of America will come to resemble San Francisco.

End goal: ensure that what happened in 2016, when the nation rose up and threw out a despised establishment, never happens again.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever . To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at

[Apr 29, 2018] Macron and Syria

Support of Trump strikes after false flag in Douma characterizes him as neocon and imperialist.
Notable quotes:
"... I know nothing of France, but that Macron fellow seems to be a pure-blooded little weasel. ..."
"... His Rothschild past is well-know, his weasel-like behavior with Trump and Mayhem is typical, he cleverly outmaneuvered the electorate to put his "new party" in power, full of unknowns, after manipulating the weak "socialist" Hollande in the previous government. ..."
"... His domestic policy is to privatise everything, remove the rights workers have gained over the last 70 years, get rid of 120000 jobs (as if others have not tried this for 200 years in France, and it has not helped!) and to do it quickly before people can follow each step. ..."
Apr 29, 2018 |
Zachary Smith April 21, 2018 at 12:53 pm

Bashar was compelled to return to Syria and become the nominal political leader after the death of his very tough, ruthless father, Hafez al-Assad.

The other day I saw a passing reference to something I'd never before known – that Richard Nixon paid a state visit to Damascus to see that ruthless father. I was gratified the author mentioned the Bushie use of Syria as a place to torture people. Both the Nixon visit and the routine torture transactions with Syria show that "we" were ok with Syrian dictators – just as we were with all those other dictators coddled by the US.

But when Holy Israel finally gets around to setting up Land Grab #3, suddenly Assad is an obstacle.

France To Revoke Major Award From Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad
Briana Koeneman , Katherine Biek Apr 17, 2018

The Legion of Honor is France's highest award. It's presented to citizens who have "demonstrated outstanding merits in the service of the nation, in a military or a civilian capacity."

The move comes just days after France, Britain and the U.S. launched military strikes on targets in Syria in response to the reported chemical attack. Syria has denied any involvement in the alleged attack.

Genuine Hero Assad suddenly become dirtbag Assad. Except for his success in defeating the latest NATO aggression, what had changed? I know nothing of France, but that Macron fellow seems to be a pure-blooded little weasel.


rosemerry , April 21, 2018 at 4:41 pm

Micron(sic) has nothing to recommend him but deviousness. His Rothschild past is well-know, his weasel-like behavior with Trump and Mayhem is typical, he cleverly outmaneuvered the electorate to put his "new party" in power, full of unknowns, after manipulating the weak "socialist" Hollande in the previous government.

His domestic policy is to privatise everything, remove the rights workers have gained over the last 70 years, get rid of 120000 jobs (as if others have not tried this for 200 years in France, and it has not helped!) and to do it quickly before people can follow each step.

If the workers do not work together, not only the railways, but the rest of public services, will go and we'll be as bad as the USA, which Micron (sic) obviously admires.

We did not know of his likely international delusions of grandeur, but nothing would surprise me now.

backwardsevolution , April 21, 2018 at 9:18 pm

rosemerry – good post. I read where Macron's election team was composed of some of the same Americans that got Obama elected. They just hopped on a plane and repeated the process in France.

[Aug 09, 2017] Force Multipliers and 21st Century Imperial Warfare Practice and Propaganda by Maximilian C. Forte

Highly recommended!
Highly recommended --
The full book can be downloaded here (for free) .
Notable quotes:
"... What is a force multiplier? ..."
Nov 08, 2015 |

If the present provides a hint of what it is to come, the nastiest, ugliest, and bloodiest wars to be fought this century will be between states opposed to continued US dominance, and the force multipliers of US dominance. We see the outline of sovereign self-defense programs that take diverse forms, from the banning of foreign funding for NGOs operating in a state's territory, controlling the mass media, arresting protesters, shutting down CIA-funded political parties, curtailing foreign student exchanges, denying visas to foreign academic researchers, terminating USAID operations, to expelling US ambassadors, and so forth. In extreme cases, this includes open warfare between governments and armed rebels backed by the US, or more indirectly (as the force multiplier principle mandates) backed by US allies. US intervention will provoke and heighten paranoia, stoking repression, and create the illusion of a self-fulfilling prophecy that US interventionists can further manipulate, using logic of this kind: they are serial human rights abusers; we therefore need to intervene in the name of humanity. There will be no discussion, let alone admission, that US covert intervention helped to provoke repression, and that the US knowingly placed its "force multipliers" on the front line. "Force multipliers" also requires us to understand the full depth and scope of US imperialism comprising, among other things: entertainment, food, drink, software, agriculture, arms sales, media, and so on.

Yet, in the end, we are still left with a basic question: What is a force multiplier? There are even more answers to this question than there are persons answering it. Beyond the most basic definition in physics, we see a proliferation of examples of force multipliers, reflecting a weak pseudo-science that reifies actual policies, offering mixed results in practice. Given the scientistic and positivist approach that achieved hegemony during the Cold War in US universities and the military, the conceptualization of force multipliers reveals familiar problems arising from the naturalization of social phenomena, of "man" as "molecule" of society. As an impoverished form of political science, one that is formulaic, mechanical, utilitarian, and ideologically-driven, the force multiplier idea nonetheless poses difficult anthropological questions about the agency of others.

My hope was that military writers did not choose to write "force multipliers" because candidly calling them "quislings," "shills," "dupes," "pawns" or "suckers" would have been too "politically incorrect," or would have validated older, Cold War-era accusations of the US supporting "stooges," "lackeys," "cronies," "henchmen," "running dogs," or "lap dogs". In other words, my hope was that this was not yet another imperial euphemism. Regardless of the intentions behind the terminology, whether conscious or not, the basic idea of using humans as a form of drone , one that is less expensive yet more precise and in less need of constant guidance, seems to be the persisting feature of the force multiplier concept.

If the concept is not a mere euphemism, then there is still an absence of sound theorization of force multipliers on the part of the Pentagon, and by that I mean that while an inchoate lexical infrastructure exists consisting of nested synonyms derived from the natural sciences, there is little more than crude utilitarianism and functionalism to hold the terms together. Some may wish to retort, "then that is the theory" by noting the presence of functionalist assumptions and premises derived from rational-choice theories. However, the presence of theory should also involve the process of theorization, which entails questioning, revising, and exposing one's assumptions to a dialogue with other theories and with facts that appear to challenge the validity of the theory.

There may be a lot of real-world destruction by the US military and intelligence apparatus, but there is no winning as such!the absence of theorization is killing the imperial political and security structures, but their exposure to critical theories will only hasten their defeat. No wonder then that so many right-wing "pro-military" columnists in the US routinely scoff at and dismiss "post-colonialism"!theirs is a hegemony in trouble, turned narcissistic: unable to find their mirror image in many sectors of the social sciences and humanities, they resort to angry triumphalism and cyclical repetition of the same failed "solutions," repeated over and over again. On the other hand, they can find their mirror-image in academia, and particularly anthropology, in other ways: many US anthropologists' convoluted (meta)theoretical fumblings, obfuscated by pretentious language whose deliberate lack of clarity masks deep confusion and bewilderment, stands out particularly in the cases of topics which are "new," such as democracy or globalization. In this sense, both the US military and US anthropology in some quarters share in common a proliferation of theoretical-sounding rhetoric and a lack of scientific theory. Not coincidentally, both also share an apparent aversion to even saying the word "imperialism". One might detect a certain decadence in imperial intellectual life, of which the force multiplier theoretical pretense is but one small example.

Clearly there are numerous examples of agents serving as "force multipliers," and almost as clear is the absence of theorization, let alone reason for imperial elites to feel confident about success when the political, economic, and cultural projects they represent are domestically bankrupt and alienating. Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq, and "winning hearts and minds," certainly did happen in some places and to some extent, which gives partial weight to the "force multiplier" idea at the core of these processes. However, on the whole, counterinsurgency programs have been defeated in Afghanistan just as in Vietnam before.

[Jul 27, 2015] For Greece, Oligarchs Are an Obstacle to Recovery

Notable quotes:
"... ordering an employee to withdraw the money in bags of cash. ..."
Dec 05, 2012 | The New York Times

ATHENS - A dynamic entrepreneur, Lavrentis Lavrentiadis seemed to represent a promising new era for Greece. He dazzled the country's traditionally insular business world by spinning together a multibillion-dollar empire just a few years after inheriting a small family firm at 18. Seeking acceptance in elite circles, he gave lavishly to charities and cultivated ties to the leading political parties.
But as Greece's economy soured in recent years, his fortunes sagged and he began embezzling money from a bank he controlled, prosecutors say. With charges looming, it looked as if his rapid rise would be followed by an equally precipitous fall. Thanks to a law passed quietly by the Greek Parliament, however, he avoided prosecution, at least for a time, simply by paying the money back.

Now 40, Mr. Lavrentiadis is back in the spotlight as one of the names on the so-called Lagarde list of more than 2,000 Greeks said to have accounts in a Geneva branch of the bank HSBC and who are suspected of tax evasion. Given to Greek officials two years ago by Christine Lagarde, then the French finance minister and now head of the International Monetary Fund, the list was expected to cast a damning light on the shady practices of the rich.

Lavrentis Lavrentiadis embezzled money from a bank he controlled, prosecutors say

Instead, it was swept under the rug, and now two former finance ministers and Greece's top tax officials are under investigation for having failed to act.
Greece's economic troubles are often attributed to a public sector packed full of redundant workers, a lavish pension system and uncompetitive industries hampered by overpaid workers with lifetime employment guarantees. Often overlooked, however, is the role played by a handful of wealthy families, politicians and the news media - often owned by the magnates - that make up the Greek power structure.

In a country crushed by years of austerity and 25 percent unemployment, average Greeks are growing increasingly resentful of an oligarchy that, critics say, presides over an opaque, closed economy that is at the root of many of the country's problems and operates with virtual impunity. Several dozen powerful families control critical sectors, including banking, shipping and construction, and can usually count on the political class to look out for their interests, sometimes by passing legislation tailored to their specific needs.

The result, analysts say, is a lack of competition that undermines the economy by allowing the magnates to run cartels and enrich themselves through crony capitalism. "That makes it rational for them to form a close, incestuous relationship with politicians and the media, which is then highly vulnerable to corruption," said Kevin Featherstone, a professor of European Politics at the London School of Economics.

This week the anticorruption watchdog Transparency International ranked Greece as the most corrupt nation in Europe, behind former Eastern Bloc states like Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia. Under the pressure of the financial crisis, Greece is being pressed by Germany and its international lenders to make fundamental changes to its economic system in exchange for the money it needs to avoid bankruptcy.

But it remains an open question whether Greece's leaders will be able to engineer such a transformation. In the past year, despite numerous promises to increase transparency, the country actually dropped 14 places from the previous corruption survey.

Mr. Lavrentiadis is still facing a host of accusations stemming from hundreds of millions of dollars in loans made by his Proton bank to dormant companies - sometimes, investigators say, ordering an employee to withdraw the money in bags of cash. But with Greece scrambling to complete a critical bank recapitalization and restructuring, his case is emblematic of a larger battle between Greece's famously weak institutions and fledgling regulatory structures against these entrenched interests.

Many say that the system has to change in order for Greece to emerge from the crisis. "Keeping the status quo will simply prolong the disaster in Greece," Mr. Featherstone said. While the case of Mr. Lavrentiadis suggests that the status quo is at least under scrutiny, he added, "It's not under sufficient attack."

In a nearly two-hour interview, Mr. Lavrentiadis denied accusations of wrongdoing and said that he held "a few accounts" at HSBC in Geneva that totaled only about $65,000, all of it legitimate, taxed income. He also sidestepped questions about his political ties and declined to comment on any details of the continuing investigation into Proton Bank.
Sitting in the office of his criminal lawyer last month, relaxed, smiling and dressed in a crisp blue suit and red-and-blue tie, Mr. Lavrentiadis said he found it puzzling that he had been singled out in reports about the Lagarde list when other powerful figures appeared to evade scrutiny.

"My question is, 'Why me?' " he said. "I'm the scapegoat for everything."

In the interview, Mr. Lavrentiadis depicted himself as an outsider and upstart, an entrepreneur in a small country dominated by old families who frown on newcomers. "I am not from a third-generation aristocratic family," he said repeatedly.

Indeed, by some lights, Mr. Lavrentiadis fell in part because he rose too quickly and then failed to secure enough of the right friends to protect him, a perception he did not dispute.

[Jun 12, 2015] Sergei Guriev is the only Russian attending the Bilderberg summit, June 9th-14th in Austria

Terje, June 12, 2015 at 7:30 am
My attempt for the figurine :)
Sergei Guriev is the only Russian attending the Bilderberg summit, June 9th-14th in Austria.
He has the usual Soros and Khodorkovsky connections. (I don't think Google is correct when they list his fortune as 3.5 billion USD.) I presume he will advice the Atlanticist elite on how to proceed against Russia.

On this (Soros-sponsored) website

"With the fund amounting to only about 6% of GDP, Russia can maintain a 3.7% deficit for less than two years before it either has to withdraw from Ukraine to gain relief from Western sanctions, or undertake a major – and, for Putin, politically dangerous – fiscal adjustment."

And another revealing piece in the Washington Post, splattered with wishful sentences like

"The Kremlin has no credible financial plan beyond 2016 except for hoping for oil prices to recover."

"regime survival" "widespread panic and the collapse of the regime. "

"At some point, this regime will have to go"

"the best scenario one can hope for is some form of transitional government that would provide certain guarantees to the outgoing elites and oversee new elections."

"The West should get prepared now for sudden and turbulent change in Russia."

I'm guessing it is close to what he has presented at the Bilderberg meeting, and might give some indicators on what the western elites plan for Russia in the next future (coup d'etat?).

[May 13, 2015] How Russias opposition united to finish Nemtsovs report on Ukraine

May 13, 2015 | The Guardian

MaoChengJi -> kolf 13 May 2015 10:37

note was supported by hundreds of thousands - that is not a coup, but a revolution

Aside from the fact that in a 40 million people nation 'hundreds of thousands' is very far from a majority, it's the protests that were supported by hundreds of thousands.

Feb 21 Yanuk signs the agreement with the opposition, negotiated and guaranteed by European politicians. Stipulating early elections, amnesties, rollback of some laws, investigations of the police abuses, etc. It was accepted and signed by the opposition, i.e. those representing these hundreds of thousands you're taking about.

Had this agreement been implemented, everything would've probably worked out somehow.

Instead, a few ultra-nationalist militants, a fringe, refuse to accept the agreement. They take over the government. And the opposition politicians play along and become figureheads, puppets. And that's what's been going on there since: militant ultra-nationalist fringe is controlling the regime from the inside, and the US and EU from the outside, supplying them with money, weapons, propaganda, and diplomatic support. What a shame.

Babeouf 13 May 2015 08:57

Look Kerry went to see Putin to sell off an unwanted collection of Ukrainian Fascists. Apparently the Fascists had disappointed their US owners. And afterwards the invariable accompaniment of the brush off Kerry phoned Kyiv but didn't stop off on his way home. Today Yats is in Paris and the Choc Soldier is in Germany.

Their survival now depends on Germany and France. So this sad collection of non entities now have to cut a deal with Putin, on Russia's terms. I 'm not surprised that the US public repudiation of the previous US policy of isolating 'Russia' is not noticed by the Guardian.

As for the Russian opposition their identification with the 'invader at the Gates' has finished them off for a generation at least.

entirely pro-government now, apart from one radio station Ekho Moskvy, and one TV station Dozhd

MaoChengJi -> kolf, 13 May 2015 07:01

That's precisely NOT entirely. Besides, kommersant is a newspaper, not broadcast media. There are plenty of opposition newspapers. Also, when the government is popular, the media, naturally, reflects that - there's nothing sinister about it. And murdering people is a crime, where they are journalists or not.

it is rather like the soldiers that have to "resign" before they patriotically "volunteer" in Donbass, when instructed to do so - a mere technicality

Perhaps. But we don't know that. I understand the suspicion, but not the certainty. Strelkov, in particular, gives the impression of very much anti-government character. A right-wing government opponent. Personally, I see absolutely no reason to believe that he was sent or controlled by the RF government. I'd be surprised.

The violent takeovers in Donbass were carried out initially by small Russian-sponsored groups, with the support of special forces from Russia, who carried out a range of criminal and paramilitary activity including abduction, intimidation, murders, attacks on Ukrainian military bases, and destroying military Ukrainian aircraft on the ground

This is a bunch of lies. The protests in Donetsk started the next day after the coup, I saw videos. Gubarev became the 'people's governor'. He was arrested - protests became more violent. I watched videos with old ladies blocking roads to stop the regime's troops carriers.

was installed by the Rada after the previous president fled

Oh, god. President fleeing and the majority party decimated (their offices burned) is the definition of a coup d'etat. He didn't resign, he didn't die, and he wasn't even impeached - they tried but they didn't have the votes.

Can anyone in the right mind and not being disingenuous still insist that it wasn't a coup? I don't think so. So, go ahead, have your last word.

Dmitry Berezhnov -> Botswana61 13 May 2015 04:06

RFE is US propaganda bullhorn, of course I believe them in anything they say about Russia.

MaoChengJi -> kolf 13 May 2015 04:05

even Russian media acknowledges it

you appear to be under the impression that Russian media are all pro-government. This completely disproves your statement that you "know the difference between propaganda and journalism". A large portion of the Russian media is rabidly anti-government. If you knew the difference between propaganda and journalism, you would've known it.

All that "clearly" is just your impression, based on anti-Russian propaganda, on the stories you read and believe. What's clear to you isn't clear to others, if they read different stories. In fact, exactly the opposite can be clear to them. It's important for you to understand that your stories are not at all better than their stories.

Also, "war started by Russian intelligence officers like Strelkov and Borodai" is all wrong, objectively. Strelkov and Borodai are not Russian intelligence officers. The Kiev regime attacked Donbas, Donbas did not attack Kiev. If Kiev acknowledged the referendum, there would've been no war. The important thing to understand here is that the Kiev regime was NOT at that time - without any doubt - a legitimate government, even if you believe that the current government is legitimate (I don't).

Kiev had a revolution, and then Donetsk had a revolution. Then Kiev attacked Donetsk. It didn't have to, but it did. Blaming this on Russia is disinformation and a manifestation of russophobia.

lionarslan Botswana61 13 May 2015 03:45

Mr. Lavrov never denied that there's Russian citizens in Ukraine. Do you know the difference between soldiers (people who signed obligatory military contract and take a vow to serve their country) and volunteers (people who consciously decided to do something or to go somewhere)? People from Russia, Germany, Spain, Netherlands comes to Donbass to fight for freedom of people of Donbass. They volunteered, no one forced them. And that is what Sergey Lavrov "admitted".

I read that report, that's really science-ficton. All so-called proofs are quotes without context which someone can understand in more than one way. The text itself is clear anti-Putin propaganda. It was really boring to read that text. It's like watching "Glee" only Glee has wonderful songs and some of actors are really good in their play.

Russian self-named opposition's report is much more boring and have so much realism as tv-series "Glee".

lionarslan -> freedomcry 13 May 2015 03:21

Nationalists in Russia was never decent and sober-minded people. In time of Russian empire they were terrorists, in modern Russia they are still the same. Moreover, if you are sentient being you wouldn't support ideas of nationalists in any possible way. Do you forgot what nationalists did in Germany and then in half of the world in last century?

Agatha_appears -> freedomcry 13 May 2015 01:53

it is not opposition. This is a group of people who, like Yashin, have never worked, never done anything useful. They found a job paid by the US State Dep-t. Their responsibility is to play against official Russia according to US scenario. They buy luxurious cars, apartments, go to expensive resorts. Their main audience is the western media. There is a small group of Russia haters inside the country who notice them.

There are nationalists who oppose the Kremlin. They are radicals. Some of them are in prison. They represent larger part of Russian society than so to say "liberals". Their views are similar to Ukranian nazi who are in power in Kiev. Putin tries to maintain balance and does not let them come to power, speak publicly, because nationalism is infection desease ( see what is going on in Ukraine). And Russian nationalism can be as awful as Ukrainian. It is close to fascism.

Dmitry Berezhnov -> Tepluken
13 May 2015 01:05

Funny enough to see fairytales about Savushkina st. Once I have decided to waste some time and watched a video about a "troll lair", well, small office with like 10-12 people there. Do you really call that a HQ of Evil Russain Propaganda Machine?

Let's just mention that:

1. UK officially annouced creation of cybersquad with unmentioned budget for delivering a propaganda.

2. US spending over 1 bln in 2014 for Russian opposition NGO sponssorship and declaring a war on "Russian propaganda" with it's own propaganda via BBG and state controlled media throughour Europe with gazillion bucks budget.

3. Ukraine creating a Truth Ministry and Ukranian Information Army with up to this very moment over 40 000! volunteers, not mentioning a full-time staff.

And we do not know about other countries trolls. In my humble opinion, Savushkina with it's 20 people tops looks very very faintly.

Colin Robinson 13 May 2015 00:31

Claims about Russian forces covertly entering the Donbas region, even if true, cannot explain the conflict there.

It would hardly be possible for Russian tanks to move across the border, without being shot at or even photographed, unless the local population had previously rejected the Kiev régime and removed its border guards.

This is conflict between two constituencies within Ukraine itself, not between a supposedly united Ukraine and a supposedly ambitious president of Russia.

normankirk -> Botswana61 12 May 2015 23:36

What do you mean he's just admitted it, he's never denied it. I would be disgusted if no help had been given to eastern Ukrainian civilians, HRW and Amnesty intern. have both recorded use of illegal weapons against civilians by the Ukrainian army.

If ever there was a reason for humanitarian intervention you need go no further than protecting unarmed civilians from cluster bombs

MichaPalkin -> bcnteacher 12 May 2015 23:08

If they had found the slightest evidence it was indeed rebels' BUK, froth-at the mouth anti-Russian hysteria would have been filling the free press for months now. THE FACT IS THEY CAN'T. And since the Dutch keep remarkably quiet about it, what they v. probably have is the evidence to the contrary. When someone from the investigation tried to make the findings public a few weeks ago - he was immediately silenced and fired. This is called cover-up. It shouldn't be that difficult to tell BUK from air-to-air missile really. So this investigation will either go on into the plus infinity or they'll say some evasive bs, no media outlet would ever mention it and that would be the end of it. Ok?

BorninUkraine -> Chirographer 12 May 2015 22:46

There is real opposition in Russia. If I lived there, I'd be one of them. But those are the people who do not sell their country to foreign interests, never touch Western money, and therefore are not promoted by Western media owned by the same interests that purchase third-rate opposition figures in Russia.

To give you a few examples, Eduard Limonov, Boris Kagarlitsky (who even spent some time in jail in Soviet period), and others like them are opposition, but they are not bought and paid for traitors. That's why they are not rich.

Unlike Nemtsiov, they cannot afford to pay for the abortion of a whore in Switzerland. You are welcome to ask your supervisor to find out who they are.

BorninUkraine -> nnedjo 12 May 2015 21:45

The "government" in Kyiv absolutely needs this alleged Russia aggression.

How else can they explain that they ran into the ground a reasonably decent country so quickly: from solid third world to total shit in a bit over a year.

If Poroshenko, Yatsenyuk, and Co acknowledge how much they steal and how incompetent they are, their puppeteers might start looking for better puppets, and that would never do.

BorninUkraine -> Paul Moore 12 May 2015 21:36

Oh, yes. Military officials in Sweden have already been looking very hard for a Russian submarine. As soon as they achieved what they wanted, an increase in the military budget, they acknowledged that no submarine ever existed.

Apparently someone in Finland also wants a bigger military budget. How creative, wouldn't you say?

Sergey A Gimranov 12 May 2015 21:33

Good science-fiction report. The highlight of the presentation was "We don't have any actual evidence but we know troops were there". I could not believe they said that. Lame and fake! Shocking discovery from the "book" Russian troops were in Crimea on Russian military bases. Oh my God! Standards are lower and lower with each and every article. Where are the reporters? Why they cannot go there and report it? I guess narrative would change drastically.

Roodan 12 May 2015 20:57

But I do agree the government in Kiev does not represent the political will of all of its people and hence the civil war. That there is external support for each side in this war form special forces or otherwise be they NATO or Russian that this is not the cause of the war . I do not my self understand the relevance of the article, it states the obvious. Only a regional settlement between the waring parties will end the war. A ettlement in which all of the aspiration of the people in the Ukrainian, have representation perhaps a federation or Union like the EU .

I don't think there is any value in supporting one side against the other to impose a system of government with out the support of the people . That is a dictatorship and I don't support dictatorships by any military alliance NATO or Russian federation, they result in perpetual war in which only the powerless suffer.

Chirographer -> Walter Potocki 12 May 2015 20:55

You seem to very concerned about who paid for the report. Why? That doesn't address the content of the report at all.

And wouldn't there be more money and a lot safer life for this Yashin character if he'd published a book supporting the government's narrative?

Walter Potocki 12 May 2015 20:18

there were never CIA operatives in Ukraine, it is not true that Maiden was a western agencies. Just few masked people gathered on the square with clubs and firearms to have a fun

Walter Potocki 12 May 2015 20:13

Hi Tom, did you ask Russian opposition how much this report cost? You did not have to ask who paid, the same sponsored paid for your piece. Nice propaganda.

nnedjo -> nnedjo 12 May 2015 19:21

And to add one more thing. If I'd lived in the southeast of Ukraine and if my government would abolish my salary, and, on the other hand, if I would have known that soldiers receive 90,000 rubles per month, that would be an extra motivation for me to join the rebel army. So, in that case there would be no need at all for the arrival of troops from Russia, because the Ukrainian government itself supports the recruitment in the Donbas, in a way that stopped the economic support to the region.

nnedjo -> Solongmariane 12 May 2015 19:11

It is ridiculous to speculate about it at all, because it is clear that Russia pays not only all the fighters in the southeast of Ukraine, but also all other citizens. Because how else they would survive, considering that the Ukrainian government has abolished them all salaries and pensions, and closed all the banks, and prevent the use of payment cards.

Thus, considering that the Ukrainian government itself agreed that someone else should pay these people, or more precisely, that Russia should pay them, then why do they complain about it now?

ID5868758 12 May 2015 18:26

You know, we're supposed to buy this narrative that Nemtsov was a credible political threat to Putin. But I remember seeing a video of a Russian TV station catching Nemtsov sneaking out of the side door of the American embassy in Moscow, and he was not a happy camper when he was caught.

Now, reverse that, and imagine an American politician being caught sneaking out of the side door of the Russian embassy in DC. How much credibility do you suppose that politician would have left with the American public?

Russians aren't really that different from Americans after all, and Nemtsov was no threat to Putin at all.

Puttepoju -> Kaiama 12 May 2015 18:06

Dear Kaiama.

Russian journalists are clever and wise. They are better than the entire US satellite system. They have "common sense".I like Russia and Russians --- but what I like most -- is to be honest. My best greetings. Puttepoju

Falloe7 12 May 2015 18:00

more PROPAGANDA and the media of the West naturally believes it -because they want to believe it if you are in opposition in anything you will make up stories about your opponent just like this past Election there was enough Lies by the parties about each other hoping the voters will believe it (and they did) and the same about Russia. the papers are well known for printing Lies or make up stories

Kaiama 12 May 2015 17:44

So how come 10 Russian journalist claim to find something that the entire US satellite system can't find? It comes as no surprise that Russian volunteers have been killed in Ukraine fighting alongside their relatives.

What is more telling is the 100,000+ Kiev draft evaders and 800,000+ displaced citizens - all in Russia (defected to the enemy? or simply more astute than their government in Kiev?

Solongmariane 12 May 2015 17:38

Some bizarre figures, I find ;
a) 53 bln Rubles is just around 1 Bln $. Isn't ? Not so much money, for a war with 40.000-50.000 fighters.
b) If the average of wages of 60.000 - 90.000 rubles is correct, It is around an army of 1.500 soldiers during 10 months.
Are my calculations correct ? Please, check it !

BorninUkraine -> bcnteacher 12 May 2015 17:32

I don't have anything except my brains, but that's enough to have a pretty prestigious job in the US.

Russia apparently has a lot to make self-appointed masters of the Universe in the US hysterical, and their European poodles even more so. Not to mention small-change commenters here paid very little (to match pathetic quality of their comments).
The three things that immediately come to mind regarding Russia are nukes, natural resources, and fighting spirit. Each of these would be enough to scare the opponents. For example, the opposition in Iraq and Afghanistan only has fighting spirit, and this was sufficient to make NATO retreat with its tail between its legs. Or, in 1940 France had an army at least as strong as Hitler's, but due to lack of fighting spirit it disgracefully surrendered in no time.

So, I can only express my sincerest condolences to the servants of humiliatingly hysterical masters.

nnedjo -> Metronome151 12 May 2015 17:22

Perhaps you are confused with suspicious arrest and detention of a female Ukranian pilot and Estonian security officer by the FSB. Must be he effect of those drugs you refer to.

Actually, in the event that you mentions use of the drug is excluded because the pilot Savchenko was very defiant during the examination before the cameras, which is why she has acquired the status of a national hero in Ukraine, and in the absence she is elected to parliament.

It is also interesting that the example of the pilot Savchenko is the first proven case of "a soldier on leave," who fought on the Ukrainian front. Because it is known that she left the regular Ukrainian army to join the volunteer battalion Aidar. So I do not see what is the problem that Russian troops also take leave and go to help the brothers in Ukraine.

However, Ms. Savchenko has one big problem. If she had been released from the Russian prison now, she would not have anywhere to return because her Aidar battalion was disbanded by the Ukrainian authorities.

Kiev Claims Is Disbanding Notorious Aidar Volunteer Battalion

KIEV, March 2, (TASS) - Ukraine's Defense Ministry is disbanding an armed militia group blamed for abuse during recent months of regional conflict, said to be out of control and with a splinter faction planning unrest in the capital...
The move follows the arrest of former Aidar battalion fighters said by Luhansk regional administration head Gennady Moskal to be preparing transfer of weapons from the Ukraine's restive Donbas region in a bid to promote social upheaval in Kiev.

"Part of this unit long ago defected from Aidar and was engaged in looting, robbery, racketeering, auto theft and other crimes in regions controlled by the Ukrainian side," Moskal's website said.

Moskal added that an attempt had been prevented to take an arsenal of weapons from the area of combat operations in Donbas to Kiev. The arms were meant for "destabilizing the situation" in the capital.

Babeouf 12 May 2015 17:11

So the opposition united to produce a monster /blockbuster report ,you say , well when there is a report I shall force myself to read it to see what evidence it actually contains. I seen no evidence open source or otherwise just assertions based on claims made by person or persons unknown. This battle over Russian troops is itself a proxy war between the supporters of the US and the rest of the world.

MichaPalkin -> alpamysh 12 May 2015 17:09

What's truly outstanding is how lame you are and inept Kiev regime is. And quit blubbering gibberish. It simply kills me how low RFE standards sunk. You're trained very badly, klopets.

nnedjo -> alpamysh 12 May 2015 16:28

Gosh, you seem to have a lot of them--and you said all we had to do was just watch ONE
I am talking here about a group of 10 soldiers who were captured by the Ukrainian Security Service last year.

Yes, there are several of these videos, and from each of them, it is clear that the soldiers recite a prepared text directly into the camera.

VladimirM -> SoloLoMejor 12 May 2015 16:28

He is not, I think. But I did, actually, it is in Russian on the Dozhd website. I had an impression of reading some of the articles here in the Guardian but in Russian. Or even some posters, which is weird. The report is incoherent, includes many topics, just one chapter is about the Russian troops in Donbas. You may read anything here in the Guardian to get some idea of what the report is like. The article "Invisible army…" will do, I think. In my view, the report is utter rubbish and does not live up to expectations.

nnedjo 12 May 2015 15:56

As I saw in another article this report mentions the examination of Russian soldiers caught in Ukraine. We all remember this event in the summer of last year. Internet was flooded with videos with "examination" of Russian "prisoners of war" who were actually recited a prepared text that was placed somewhere in front of them and behind the camera. I think it was clear to everyone at the first viewing of the video.

As an example, look at examination of the imprisoned soldier Alexei Generalov. This guy almost three minutes talking without interruption and without pauses, with a view strictly focused at one point, probably in some text that he reads somewhere on the left side of the camera. In one moment the examiner asks him something, and he looked at him, then to the right side of the camera.

A particular problem is the fact that these soldiers were arrested somewhere near the border under very suspicious circumstances. According to the official Ukrainian version, that the soldiers also recited in the camera, they were caught about twenty kilometers inside the Ukrainian territory. However, it is very possible that they were in fact kidnapped by Ukrainian special forces on the Russian side of the border.
You can say that this is my very bold assumption. But, one can easily notice that during examination these soldiers were very disoriented. I would not be surprised if this is the result of a drug that has been deliberately given to captives in order to weaken their will, but I still stand by my first assumption that they were kidnapped.
For example, another captured soldier to the question of where he is, he replies: "I am now located in Ukraine, the city of Ukraine."

Thus, it is clear that this soldier has no idea what his exact location, and that he is completely disoriented, although they examined him in a tent (ie in a tent in the "city of Ukraine"), which should be somewhere near the scene of his capture. Here you can watch, from 0:59 onwards of this video:

Interrogation of Russian Soldier #3 Captured in Ukraine on August 25. English.

henrihenri 12 May 2015 15:45

`And he will NEVER risk an open confrontation with the West`.

Oh, this is the main mistake. The Western politician think that Putin doesn`t attack Ukraine because he`s afraid of the NATO, West, etc. No, he doesn`t. He just grants the West with a good chanceopportunity to go home without shame. Why to fight Ukraine if it sooner or later crawls back? It will, it will due to many objective reasons. No, Putin won`t send troops there until Ukrainians ask him. Russia does not need any war.

normankirk -> alpamysh 12 May 2015 15:45

Poroshenko still wants the Donetsk airport. Why are they breaking the ceasefire to try and get it back off the anti-govt fighters?

Madness to throw so many lives away

Noes Vencia -> alpamysh 12 May 2015 15:41

So 140 were given compensation to keep silence and 70 were not?!

1) Given compensation to keep silence will work in a couple of instance, never in dozens!

2) For sure it will never work, if then you don't give compensation to others.

3) Lets do some math; if Ukraine have 200,000 troops of which some 2500 died, at that rate if there are 210 dead Russian soldiers send by Moscow, that means Russia has send 16,800 troops! Trust me, you cannot send 1000 soldiers anywhere without being highly noticeable, the logistics are immense! Let alone 17000!.

4) What percentage does Kiev says of Russian troops are combating against? Because looking at the media seems that all are Russians. if so, that is a slap on the face to their own army that they cannot win an "army" of 12 times less soldiers with the same weaponry capabilities. If, however Russians are a small portion of the Revels, why 100% of focus on Russians so?

Again, I do believe Russia has personnel in there, but limited to advising and intelligence gathering. I highly doubt there are troops fighting because 1st, they don't need it (enough supply with the residents) and 2nd it would not have got better outcomes for their own safety or economy.

I feel sad that Ukrainians felt for antagonizing their biggest trading partner for the dream of UE. EU will not accept Ukraine in decades, enough we have with bankrupt tiny Greece, let alone 10 times bigger corrupted Ukraine. Nor will the French farmers will be happy with Ukrainian ones. Ukraine should had approached EU while maintained trade with Russia and assuring Russia that no NATO membership. That is what Finland choose even though of past severe confrontations with Russia; that pragmatism made of it a prosperous country.

[May 12, 2015] Neoliberal comprador Mikhail Shishkin

PaulR, May 11, 2015 at 4:56 pm
I thought that this was a particularly bad New York Times op-ed (by novelist Mikhail Shishkin – has anybody read any of his books?),, and so I have written a response here, about the 'self-hating Russian':
Warren , May 11, 2015 at 5:58 pm
Perhaps Shishkin believes Russians are a primitive people, that the Germans would have civilised the unwashed, ignorant and blighted Russian masses. Germany's defeat in World War 2 prevented this from happening; perhaps this is the source of Shishkin's resentment? Russian liberals and Russian right-wing racists such as Misanthropic Division and Dmitry Demushkin all seek to emulate West in one form or another, and see Russians as somehow defective.

Shishkin reminds me of anther self-hating liberal from an enemy state – a Chinese liberal that is praised in the West; Liu Xiaobo, who also echoes the West's prejudices.

In a well-known statement of 1988, Liu said:

It took Hong Kong 100 years to become what it is. Given the size of China, certainly it would need 300 years of colonisation for it to become like what Hong Kong is today. I even doubt whether 300 years would be enough.

Warren, May 11, 2015 at 5:59 pm
Warren, May 11, 2015 at 6:02 pm
marknesop, May 11, 2015 at 7:30 pm
Has an American or British political dissident, opposed to the policies of his own government, ever won a Nobel Prize? They are reserved for handing out to foreign political dissidents who lick the west's boots and yammer about how great their former country will be when the west liberates it and overthrows their government. Westerners who act like that are traitors, and certainly not Nobel Prize material.

If a "protest art" group in New York painted a 30-foot dick on the Brooklyn Bridge, I find it hard to imagine they would get an art prize from the U.S. government.

astabada, May 11, 2015 at 8:46 pm
Has an American or British political dissident, opposed to the policies of his own government, ever won a Nobel Prize?

I don't know whether you can consider Pintor a political dissident. However he certainly did not approve the policies of his own government, as clearly stated in his beautiful Nobel Prize lecture.

The trick there was the usual one, namely not to silence dissent but to drown it in noise.

marknesop, May 11, 2015 at 9:46 pm
Great find; I had never heard of Harold Pinter – shows what an uncultured Philistine I am. The lecture is indeed a thing of beauty, and one paragraph of it may be perfect for my next post, which is in the works. Thanks!!
astabada, May 11, 2015 at 10:56 pm
shows what an uncultured Philistine I am

I could lecture you for hours on this topic, if I wasn't myself an uncultured monkey much more than you are, and if I had not been introduced to it by an article from the journalist John Pilger.

yalensis, May 12, 2015 at 2:37 am
Dear Paul:
I never heard of Shishkin before, let alone read anything by him; but that says something only me and how out of touch I am with contemporary "Russian" literature. (Shishkin apparently lives in exile, in Switzerland, but presumably he still writes in Russian.)

According to his biograpy, Mikhail Shishkin is half Russian, half Ukrainian (on his mother's side); Shishkin's grandfather was repressed in Stalin times; Shishkin's father was a decorated war veteran (as per his op-ed). By the time Shishkin was born, it was already a broken family, with the father leaving the family, and the boy raised by his grandmother. The boy became ideologically anti-Soviet and engaged in samizdat and tamizdat activities typical of Soviet dissidents. His Ukrainian mother also appears to be a political dissident, and it sounds like there was a mother-son political bond, against the absent (possibly abusive) father. At one point (all this in the wiki bio) Mikhail's mother was fired from her job at the school because she allowed the boy to attend "Vysotsky parties".

In other words, if I may indulge in some amateur Freudian psychiatry, it sounds like Shishkin has a lot of "daddy" issues, identified his loathed father with the Soviet state; later with Putin; idealized his mother, which he associates with all good things: Vysotsky, dissidents, the West, etc.

And by the way, this is an enduring theme of the Russian intelligentsia: Just about every Soviet dissident and modern contemporary kreakl was a Vysotsky fan. Vysotsky was some kind of catalyst for this generation.

Anyhow, A few years back, Shishkin emigrated to Switzerland and considers himself to be a political emigre. He publishes on average one book every five years and appears to be able to make a good living from his writing.

According to the wiki entry (which sounds like it was written by Shishkin himself), Shishkin is the greatest Russian writer of our times, a veritable combination of Chekhov, Tolstoy, Nabokov, Bunin and James Royce, all rolled into one. His works are translated into innumerable languages, and even turned into plays.

yalensis, May 12, 2015 at 2:56 am
Dear Paul:
Here is a suggested dissertation topic for one of your students:
"The Role of Vysotsky in the birth of the Kreakl Generation".
Warren, May 12, 2015 at 3:44 am
Vladimir Vysotsky seems to be a bit of a character with his husky singing voice:


May 12, 2015 at 5:21 am

I never got what the big deal was about Vysotsky. I guess it was one of those things that you had to be there at the right time to understand. When it comes to Soviet bards, I prefer Okudzhava.
Moscow Exile, May 12, 2015 at 5:32 am
I spent a full academic year at Voronezh University listening to that bugger howling. My three Russian room-mates played Vysotsky almost non-stop daily. At first, I used to think it was a drunkard singing, which was right, in a way, because booze eventually killed him. In the end I asked them what it was all about, and told them I thought it was crap. They said I had to be a Russian to understand.
Moscow Exile, May 12, 2015 at 5:40 am
Oh yeah, and he had his revenge on me! After I had got wed, Mrs. Exile took me to see her parents' and grandparents'graves, which are in the Vagankovskoe cemetery, a place where many famous folk are pushing up the daisies, including Vysotsky. And as we approached, I heard his howling again. I thought I was hearing things, but there, next to the gates was a big kiosk flogging off souvenirs of the great crooner, including audio cassettes of his complete works, examples of which were constantly being blasted out from speakers hanging from the frontage of the shop.
Moscow Exile, May 12, 2015 at 5:46 am

Vysotsky's grave. It's always covered with flower tributes whenever I pass it. I was there the other week for a spring clean-upof my wife's folks' plot.

Moscow Exile, May 12, 2015 at 6:23 am
It was ever thus with Russian self-hating liberals.

Nineteenth-century Russia had some of the most radically "self-hating" liberals ever. They were called Zapadniki, or "Westerners". The social gulf between traditional-minded Russian masses and the small Western-educated elite was huge: in the 18th century it was even greater: the elite didn't even speak Russian most of the time and the only contact they had with members of the great unwashed was with their house servants – sort of like "house niggers" in the glory days of the US South. This 19th century Russian elite had nothing but contempt towards the Russian past and with an almost colonial subject's servility adopted all the newest progressive fads invented in Western Europe.

Here is an extract from a letter written by Dostoevsky in 1867, in which he describes his visit to Turgenev, who was then living as an expatriate in Germany:

Frankly, I never could have imagined that anyone could so naively and clumsily display all the wounds in his vanity, as Turgenev did that day; and these people go about boasting that they are atheists. He told me that he was an uncompromising atheist. My God! It is to Deism that we owe the Saviour - that is to say, the conception of a man so noble that one cannot grasp it without a sense of awe - a conception of which one cannot doubt that it represents the undying ideal of mankind. And what do we owe to these gentry - Turgenev, Herzen, Utin, Tchernychevsky? In place of that loftiest divine beauty on which they spit, we behold in them such ugly vanity, such unashamed susceptibility, such ludicrous arrogance, that it is simply impossible to guess what it is that they hope for, and who shall take them as guides. He frightfully abused Russia and the Russians. But I have noticed this: all those Liberals and Progressives who derive chiefly from Bielinsky's school, find their pleasure and satisfaction in abusing Russia. The difference is that the adherents of Tchernychevsky merely abuse, and in so many words desire that Russia should disappear from the face of the earth {that, first of all!). But the others declare, in the same breath, that they love Russia. And yet they hate everything that is native to the soil, they delight in caricaturing it, and were one to oppose them with some fact that they could not explain away or caricature, - any fact with which they were obliged to reckon - they would, I believe, be profoundly unhappy, annoyed, even distraught. And I've noticed that Turgenev - and for that matter all who live long abroad - have no conception of the true facts (though they do read the newspapers), and have so utterly lost all affection and understanding for Russia that even those quite ordinary matters which in Russia the very Nihilists no longer deny, but only as it were caricature after their manner - these fellows cannot so much as grasp. Amongst other things he told me that we are bound to crawl in the dust before the Germans, that there is but one universal and irrefutable way - that of civilization, and that all attempts to create an independent Russian culture are but folly and pigheadedness. He said that he was writing a long article against the Russophils and Slavophils. I advised him to order a telescope from Paris for his better convenience. " What do you mean?" he asked. "The distance is somewhat great," I replied; "direct the telescope on Russia, and then you will be able to observe us; otherwise you can't really see anything at all." He flew into a rage.

And take a look at these extracts from Dostoevsky's "The idiot":

"I can but thank you", he said, in a tone too respectful to be sincere, "for your kindness in letting me speak, for I have often noticed that our Liberals never allow other people to have an opinion of their own, and immediately answer their opponents with abuse, if they do not have recourse to arguments of a still more unpleasant nature".

"Excuse me", continued Evgenie Pavlovitch hotly, "I don't say a word against liberalism. Liberalism is not a sin, it is a necessary part of a great whole, which whole would collapse and fall to pieces without it. Liberalism has just as much right to exist as has the most moral conservatism; but I am attacking RUSSIAN liberalism; and I attack it for the simple reason that a Russian liberal is not a Russian liberal, he is a non-Russian liberal. Show me a real Russian liberal, and I'll kiss him before you all, with pleasure".

"In the first place, what is liberalism, speaking generally, but an attack (whether mistaken or reasonable, is quite another question) upon the existing order of things? Is this so? Yes. Very well. Then my 'fact' consists in this, that RUSSIAN liberalism is not an attack upon the existing order of things, but an attack upon the very essence of things themselves–indeed, on the things themselves; not an attack on the Russian order of things, but on Russia itself. My Russian liberal goes so far as to reject Russia; that is, he hates and strikes his own mother. Every misfortune and mishap of the mother-country fills him with mirth, and even with ecstasy. He hates the national customs, Russian history, and everything. If he has a justification, it is that he does not know what he is doing, and believes that his hatred of Russia is the grandest and most profitable kind of liberalism. (You will often find a liberal who is applauded and esteemed by his fellows, but who is in reality the dreariest, blindest, dullest of conservatives, and is not aware of the fact.) This hatred for Russia has been mistaken by some of our 'Russian liberals' for sincere love of their country, and they boast that they see better than their neighbours what real love of one's country should consist in. But of late they have grown, more candid and are ashamed of the expression 'love of country,' and have annihilated the very spirit of the words as something injurious and petty and undignified. This is the truth, and I hold by it; but at the same time it is a phenomenon which has not been repeated at any other time or place; and therefore, though I hold to it as a fact, yet I recognize that it is an accidental phenomenon, and may likely enough pass away. There can be no such thing anywhere else as a liberal who really hates his country; and how is this fact to be explained among US? By my original statement that a Russian liberal is NOT a RUSSIAN liberal–that's the only explanation that I can see".

Plus ça change, plus c'est la męme chose.

PaulR, May 12, 2015 at 7:55 am
Nice quotes. Thanks.
marknesop, May 12, 2015 at 10:18 am
Exactly: as he says, the kreakly delight in caricaturing Russia, both because it makes them feel clever and because it brings instant adulation from the western media, which likes to maintain a stable of tame Russia-hating Russians for credibility. I often think what makes a kreakl is a sense that one does not fit in, does not belong. It is the easiest thing to assume that one must be smarter than his fellows, otherwise he would think and feel as they do.
Oddlots, May 11, 2015 at 9:28 pm

Beautiful piece of observation that you picked out the moment of peak mendacity:

'Each one of Hitler's victories was a defeat for Germany. And the final rout of Nazi Germany was a victory for the Germans themselves, who demonstrated how a nation can rise up and live like human beings without the delirium of war in their heads.'

That is a sickening bit of tautological "reasoning" and bombast.

So it was all worth it. Awwww!

james, May 11, 2015 at 10:59 pm
paul.. thanks for your article.. i thought it was well written and well said.. instead of deconstructing the same tired bullshit the mainstream western media -this example from the nyt in the form of mikhail shishkin's comments – you'd be better to try to deconstruct just why the constant onslaught against russia in the same predictable way? that is what is happening here, regardless of the changing representatives from russia or with some dubious connection to russia that wish to support the msm in it's take down of russia.. forget details on his bullshit.. it is the bigger attempt on the part of the western msm to take down russia.. any propaganda and fodder will do in this ceaseless goal of the western msm.. it is not a free fucking press.. it is a bullshit agenda for war 24/7… that's how i see it..

after shishkins comments, it will be some other similar minded doofus unwilling to see russia in any light other then the one that capitalism run amok wants to see and define it as.. war=money.. that is the game being played and we are the suckers being played on..

astabada, May 11, 2015 at 11:04 pm
The contradiction inherent to his view did not dawn on Shishkin.

If every defeat for the Nazis was a victory for the German people, and conversely (as he implies) every victory for the Soviets was a defeat for the Soviet people, we obtain again that only one power could have "won" the war, either the Soviets with the fall of Moscow or the Germans (as it happened) with the fall of Berlin.

What one has to really bring home from his article is that no matter how lunatic you are, if you are a "house negro", as a Russian demoting Russia is, you will always find space in the Free World © This is a despicable form of discrimination, where Russia-hating Russians have an unfair advantage over the rest of the Russia-hating scum.

Pavlo Svolochenko, May 12, 2015 at 12:59 am
One of the loudest and most obnoxious Latvian Nazis is an ethnic Russian named Igor Shishkin. Not suggesting any relation, but they would find much to agree on.

[Mar 01, 2015] The second level, more expensive, starts at $1500 for an evening -- or how Nemtsov rolled

Neoliberal playboy with criminal connections who controlled some part of the flow of money to the opposition.
Jan 25, 2012 | Fort Russ

Nemtsov took a vacation with a new escort-virgin, and was photographed by unknown operators in all the private places. Apparently the travel company which he used sold him out.

Nemtsov did not part with the 25-year-old woman even for a minute. The hot sand of the Persian Gulf only warmed up his sexual activism. Political activism did not grow cold, either.

Nemtsov had time to count his supporters' donations. Hundreds of Russian citizens voluntarily transferred money to his electronic account over a period of two months, to help the fighter for justice publish his oppositionist research.

Nemtsov collected 320 thousand rubles, just enough for a week in a chic room for two in the Zabele Saray hotel.

"It is a new, luxurious VIP hotel, built on a palm island," according to a tourist agency employee. "There is everything necessary for a good rest at Zabele Saray! The room resembles sultan's apartments, only the freshest cuisine: there are 16 restaurants for even the most demanding of tastes. The hotel was built specially for the elite, the top floor hosts families of the sheikhs themselves. Only the best, believe me."

The 52-year-old leader of the PARNAS took with him for a serious spin on the UAE beaches the faithful companion of his recent adventures, Anastasiya Ognyeva. Hotel staff whispered: "He is an important politician from the '90s", but neither the staff nor the long-time guests saw any extraordinary behavior.

The pair practically never left their heavenly nest, having grown weary of hanging out with Russian tourists-that's the electorate, after all. They ordered meals to their room: the most sophisticated Japanese dishes and the local seafood. They had breakfast around dinnertime, and they observed the sunset from the balcony.

A night in the royal de-luxe apartments of the hotel located on the Jumeira Palm island with a view on the ocean costs over 50 thousand dollars. Even though half a million is small change for Nemtsov, he and his red-headed companion nevertheless received a discount for their romantic journey.

Of course his last official wife was not invited along, but was instead left in frozen Moscow. Nemtsov also did not have the blessing from the parents of his lover Anastasiya Ognyeva.

"What gave you the idea that my daughter is hanging out with Nemtsov?!" Nastya's mom was surprised. "We know nothing about her life, she does not live with us."

Nevertheless, Nemtsov already boasted to his numerous past wives about his w young girl.

"I am very happy for him, he looks happy next to her," told Life News one of Nemtsov's wives, Ekaterina Odintsova. "He showed me her photos, she's good-looking. He told me something about her, but we have many other topics to discuss."

Of course they have other topics: Nemtsov and the journalist Odintsova had two children together.

Life News learned where lovebirds like Nemtsov obtain their madams.

The Russian democracy promoter's muse first made herself known through the Escortmodeli agency, when Nemtsov was looking for a VIP-girl to accompany him to Israel. It seems that fortune, in the person of a wealthy revolutionary, smiled on Nastya: she has grandparents in Israel. In other words, one can find a companion with the preferred nationality, visa, and level of education.

"The well developed talents of our VIP-girls can ensure not only relaxation," promises the web site, where the Redhead was on the honor roll prior to her acquaintance with the politician.

One can even find a companion at the escort service with a beauty title, provided you have money.

"Prices depend on the girl's level, starting price is a $1000," explains the agency's manager Aleksandra. "The second level, more expensive, starts at $1500 for an evening."

It's clear that the provincial girl conquered not only Moscow, but also the heart of a Muscovite political leader.

After his vacation with a lover on the Persian Gulf coast, Nemtsov returned to work-his battle for justice, since everyone knows that his electorate cannot avail itself of such a vacation.

J.Hawk's Comment:

I mean, Russian "opposition" certainly has it tough these days. When will the persecution stop? The poor guy could afford only one week in Dubai...

On a more serious note, these "escort services" are pretty much part of the shadow economy since prostitution is illegal in Russia. However, if you have dealings with such agencies, you are also dealing, however indirectly, with organized crime. Assuming that Anna "actress-model" Duritskaya belonged to the same category of companion (which appears rather likely--Nemtsov seems to have had a thing for 20-somethings...), it's not implausible that somebody took offense to Nemtsov "spoiling the goods", so to speak, because how much money will a pregnant "escort" fetch? It's also yet to be explained who paid for Duritskaya's Switzerland abortion.

[Nov 02, 2014] Of Collaborators and Careerists by Corey Robin

October 17, 2014 | Crooked Timber

by Corey Robin on October 17, 2014

The announcement of the death of David Greenglass has got me thinking a lot about collaborators. Though much of twentieth-century history could not be written without some discussion of collaborators-from Vichy to Stalinism to the Dirty Wars to McCarthyism-the topic hardly gets a mention in the great texts of political theory. Eichmann in Jerusalem being the sole exception.

In my first book on fear, I tried to open a preliminary discussion of the topic. That discussion drew from a wide range of twentieth-century experiences, in Europe, Latin America, the US, and elsewhere, as well as from my reading of Eichmann and Montesquieu's Persian Letters.

Reading over what I wrote, I'd say I failed. I was so intent on breaking apart the conventional understanding of the collaborator as someone who aids and abets a foreign enemy that I wound up broadening the category too much. So intent was I, also, on breaking apart the three-legged stool of perpetrator-victim-bystander-where was the collaborator in all this, I wondered-that I wound up conflating low-level perpetrators with collaborators; I now think there's an important difference there.

That said, I thought I'd reprint my discussion here. As I said, political theorists have yet to grapple with the problem of collaboration. Or careerism, which is a related topic. One day, when I'm in my dotage, I'd like to write a book, a kind of political theory of careerism and collaboration. Arendt thought we should take our theoretical cues from actual political experience; political theory was first and foremost an attempt to understand what we are doing. That's why she wrote books and essays on totalitarianism, revolution, action, and other political phenomena. But when it comes to careerism and collaboration, we have yet to understand what we are doing. So here goes.

• • • • •

By conventional understanding, a collaborator is one who assists an enemy, helping groups to which he does not belong threaten groups to which he does belong. (1) But this definition, it seems to me, is too restrictive. It presumes that a group is a discrete whole, that once in it, we can't get out of it or have competing affiliations.

Collaborators, however, cannot be so neatly bound. Some do not entirely belong to the group they betray; others, like the French fascists of Vichy, have a deep affinity for the enemy they aid. Informers are perhaps the most common kind of collaborator, but they are notorious chameleons, making it virtually impossible to pin down their affiliations at all.

Knud Wollenberger, an East German dissident who secretly kept the Stasi apprised of his wife's subversive activities, claims that his collaboration was entirely consistent with his membership in the couple's oppositional circle. One way to challenge the government, he explains, was "through open dissidence, and the other way [was] through government channels. I was on the inside and the outside at the same time." (2)

Harvey Matusow joined the American Communist Party in 1947, began informing on it in 1950, recanted his testimony in 1954, and then lied about all three phases of his career in his memoir False Witness, published in 1955. So promiscuous were Matusow's politics, it is impossible to know what he had been false to, except the truth. The title of another FBI informant's memoir-I Led Three Lives (as Communist, informer, and "citizen")-was more apt, suggesting the multiple identities the collaborator regularly assumes. (3)

I don't wish to carry this notion of multiple affiliations too far. Wollenberger could very well be rationalizing a past of which he is ashamed, and Matusow may simply be the hollow man many at the time suspected him to be. Whether we belong to one group or another in some existential sense, in the course of our lives we do incur moral obligations to our comrades and friends, whom we betray when we aid our opponents.

But to avoid the question of identity that restrictive definitions of collaboration entail, I will use the definition contained in the word's Latin root collaborare: "to work together." By collaborator, I simply mean those men and women who work with elites and who occupy the lower tiers of power and make political fear a genuinely civic enterprise.

Collaborators may be low- or mid-level perpetrators; suppliers, like the warehouse in Jedwabne, Poland, which provided the kerosene local residents used in 1941 to burn a barn containing 1,500 Jews, or Ford and General Motors, which funded a Brazilian security outfit that interrogated and tortured leftists; attendants (cooks, secretaries, and other supporting staff); or spies and informers. (4) Though all are not equally compromised by their deeds, each is guilty of complicity.

The collaborator is an elusive figure. With the exception of The Persian Letters and Eichmann in Jerusalem, he seldom makes an appearance in the literature of political fear. One of the reasons for his absence, I suspect, is that he confounds our simple categories of elite and victim. Like the elite, the collaborator takes initiative and receives benefits from his collaboration. Like the victim, he may be threatened with punishment or retribution if he does not cooperate. Many collaborators, in fact, are drawn directly from the ranks of the victims.

Perhaps then we can distinguish between collaborators of aspiration, inspired by a desire for gain, and collaborators of aversion, inspired by a fear of loss. The first are akin to elites, the second to victims. But even that distinction is too neat. Elites also fear loss, and victims hope for gain, and as the economist's notion of opportunity costs attests, the hope of gain often informs the fear of loss. (5)

Collaborators serve two functions. First, they perform tasks that elites themselves cannot or will not perform. These tasks may be considered beneath the dignity of the elite: cooking, cleaning, or other forms of work. They may require local knowledge-as in the case of informers, who provide information elites cannot access on their own-or specialized skills.

We often think of torturers, for example, as thugs from the dregs of society. But torture is a weapon of knowledge, designed to extract information from the victim, often without leaving a physical trace. The torturer must know the body, how far he can go without killing the victim. Who better to assist or direct the torturer than a doctor? Thus, 70 percent of Uruguayan political prisoners under that country's military regime claim that a doctor sat in on their torture sessions. (6)

Second, collaborators extend the reach of elites into corners of society that elites lack the manpower to patrol. These collaborators are usually figures of influence within communities targeted by elites. Their status may come from the elite, who elevate them because they are willing to enforce the elite's directives. (7)

More often, their authority is indigenous. Figures of trust among the victims, they can be relied upon to persuade the victims not to resist, to compound the fear of disobedience the victims already feel.

During its war against leftist guerillas in the late '70s and early '80s, the Salvadoran army worked closely with such indigenous leaders. In 1982, a battalion officer informed Marcos Díaz, owner of the general store in the hamlet of El Mozote, with friends in the military, that the army was planning a major offensive in the region. To ensure their safety, the officer explained, the townspeople should remain in the village. Though many in El Mozote thought such advice unsound, Díaz was the local potentate who knew the army's ways. His voice held sway, the villagers did as they were told, and three days later, some eight hundred of them were dead. (8)

Because their functions are so various, collaborators come in all shapes and sizes. Some travel in or near the orbit of elite power; others are drawn from the lower orders and geographic peripheries.

One common, though unappreciated, influence upon their actions is their ambition. While some collaborators hope to stave off threats to their communities and others are true believers (9), many are careerists, who see in collaboration a path of personal advance. In Brazil, for example, torture was a stepping stone, turning one man into the ambassador to Paraguay and another into a general, while doctors advising the torturers in Uruguay could draw salaries four times as high as those of doctors who did not. (10)

Whether the payment is status, power, or money, collaboration promises to elevate men and women, if only slightly, above the fray. Nazi Germany's Reserve Police Battalion 101, for example, was a unit of five hundred "ordinary men," drawn from the lower middle and working classes of Hamburg, who joined the battalion because it got them out of military service on the front. All told, they were responsible for executing 38,000 Polish Jews and deporting some 45,000 others to Treblinka.

Why did they do it?

Not because of any fear of punishment. No one in the 101 faced penalties-certainly not death-for not carrying out their mission. The unit's commander even informed his men that they could opt out of the killing, which 10 to 15 of them did. Why did the remaining 490 or so stay?

According to Christopher Browning, there were different reasons, including anti-Semitism and peer pressure, but a critical one was their desire for advance. Of those who refused to kill Jews, in fact, the most forthright emphasized their lack of career ambitions. One explained that "it was not particularly important to me to be promoted or otherwise to advance. . . . The company chiefs . . . on the other hand were young men and career policemen who wanted to become something." Another said, "Because I was not a career policeman and also did not want to become one . . . it was of no consequence that my police career would not prosper." (11)

Though ambitious collaborators like to believe that they are adepts of realpolitik, walking the hard path of power because it is the wisest course to take, their realism is freighted with ideology. Careerism has its own moralism, serving as an anesthetic against competing moral claims. Particularly in the United States, where ambition is a civic duty and worldly success a prerequisite of citizenship, enlightened anglers of their own interest can easily be convinced that they are doing not only the smart thing, but also the right thing. They happily admit to their careerism because they presume an audience of shared moral sympathy. How else can we understand this comment of director Elia Kazan in response to a colleague's request that he justify his decision to name names? "All right, I earned over $400,000 last year from theater. But Skouras [the head of Twentieth-Century Fox] says I'll never make another movie. You've spent your money, haven't you? It's easy for you. But I've got a stake." (12)


(1) According to Jan Gross, the word "collaboration" first took on this negative connotation-as opposed to the more neutral notion of two parties working together-with the Nazi invasion of France, whereupon it was used to refer to natives of occupied countries who colluded with the Germans. Jan Gross, Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), 5, 205-6.

(2) Tina Rosenberg, The Haunted Land: Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism (New York: Vintage, 1995), xiii.

(3) Herbert A. Philbrick, I Led Three Lives: Citizen, 'Communist,' Counterspy (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1952); Ellen Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (Boston: Little Brown, 1998), 310-13, 344-349.

(4) Gross, 97-100; Lawrence Weschler, A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990, 1998), 44.

(5) Nadezhda Mandelstam, Hope Against Hope (New York: Modern Library, 1970, 1999), 42; Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1958), 19.

(6) Weschler, 126.

(7) Levi, 33.

(8) Mark Danner, The Massacre at El Mozote: A Parable of the Cold War (New York: Vintage, 1993), 17, 20, 23, 50, 59.

(9) Yehuda Bauer, Rethinking the Holocaust (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), 77-82; Victor Navasky, Naming Names (New York: Penguin, 1980, 1991), 3-69; Gross, 37-40, 60-62, 65, 91, 123-125; Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (New York: HarperCollins, 1992, 1998), 162, 177, 180, 196-200, 202.

(10) Weschler, 76, 127.

(11) Browning, 1-2, 55-77, 169-170; Bauer, 37.

(12) Stefan Kanfer, A Journal of the Plague Years: A Devastating Chronicle of the Blacklist (New York: Atheneum, 1973), 173. Even if Kazan had refused to testify and been penalized by Hollywood, he undoubtedly could have had a thriving career as a Broadway director-a point he affirmed before his death. Bernard Weinraub, "Book Reveals Kazan's Thoughts on Naming Names," New York Times (March 4, 1999), E1.

Shirley0401 10.17.14 at 4:22 pm

@ 2 and 3
Ze Kraggash: I'm with the OP and Jesús Couto Fandińo on this one.
One thing that's struck me the times I've been lucky enough to travel internationally is how extreme the average American's adherence to ambition as being a self-evidently positive thing is, when compared to the average person I've run across in Central America and Europe. While my evidence is entirely anecdotal, and I can't speak for others, this is not an unusual observation to have made. (In France last summer, I got into a relatively long conversation with a member of the hotel staff about this very topic. Mid-20's, educated, English better than many native speakers, completely unapologetic about not wanting "more," or using his position as a stepping-stone to something else. But, as Jesús points out, this is becoming harder to do even in Europe, as folks are starting to feel the neoliberal pinch more and more.)

Even more than that, though, it strikes me that lack of ambition is almost always treated as some kind of personal failing here in the US, whereas in other places (such as Jesús' Spain), it is generally seen as a perfectly acceptable personal choice (possibly with the qualification that it doesn't unduly burden others).

I know it's tangential to the primary topic, but I've recently been more frequently running across the idea that personal ambition is somehow natural, adaptive, and ultimately a positive thing. (Most often my folks who identify as conservative or libertarian, but there are plenty of them on the left, as well.)
But I'm rambling. Regardless, I've found personal ambition being treated as some sort of normal (and positive) universal trait to be far more common in the US than elsewhere. It's one of the primary reasons I tend to fall into a funk when I get home from abroad - our selfish, petty personal aspirations seem so narrow. Not to mention destructive. And the insistence by so many that it's the natural order of things, despite mounting evidence that it leads to awful outcomes for a whole lot of people, doesn't help.

Anarcissie 10.17.14 at 4:51 pm

I always considered myself a collaborator because I held a straight corporate job for years and years, worked hard, paid lots of taxes to the war machine, etc. I collaborated against the people of the world, against the spirits, and against myself. Now and then I suppose I engaged in a little spying or sabotage, so it wasn't all bad. And one does have to make a living.

For an account of a more dramatic sort of collaboration, I like Vonnegut's Mother NIght. But…. 'the story is about you!'

jgtheok 10.17.14 at 6:37 pm

"By collaborator, I simply mean those men and women who work with elites and who occupy the lower tiers of power and make political fear a genuinely civic enterprise."

Err – so every employee of any government that has every existed? (Plus contract workers, and civic-minded types who will, say, call a police station in the middle of the night to report gunfire… ?) Or does 'collaborator' require some external judgment that the ends being pursued are somehow destructive towards the lower-status group to which they belong?

bob mcmanus 10.17.14 at 6:53 pm

Collaborators and Careerists?

Tezuka, Japanese Cinema Goes Global

Political-economic accounts tend to reduce radically the complex
micro-level contestations of powers that shape individual subject-hood
to the ideological domination by global capital, rendering the subjects
as "ideological dupes"

While the primacy of national identity and allegiance to one's
national filmmaking community was usually taken for granted
in the pre-globalization days, loyalty to a transnational network
of filmmakers and responding to globally accepted - usually American
- norms and standards of filmmaking practice has become a
professional imperative for those who work in the film industry
of the global age.

By a relentless focus on historical "bad guys" and a motivation of fear, one misses most of the power of locally-enacted cosmopolitanism, for example how anti-communism as performed by McCarthy and Kazan in the US was also part of a global hegemonic strategy performed by creators overseas in Europe and Asia and by expatriates and nomadic agents moving between core and periphery. Like Hopper, Hayek…like Arendt?

bob mcmanus 10.17.14 at 8:30 pm

Second, collaborators extend the reach of elites into corners of society that elites lack the manpower to patrol. These collaborators are usually figures of influence within communities targeted by elites. Their status may come from the elite, who elevate them because they are willing to enforce the elite's directives. (7)

Like I often say, you confuse me.

If this is the kind of thing you are exploring, I can only say that a lot of work has been/is being done on multiple subjectivities and political intersections within, for instance, East European filmmakers of the 50s-70s who had three "clients:" Moscow (education and training, material support, ideology), their state (same as Moscow, but also who wanted international recognition and foreign exchange/financing), and the global artfilm community (often very left, and desired films of national particularity, subtly resisting local oppression, yet needed their modernist aesthetic confirmed). Was Wajda a collaborator or dissident?

In any case, we could call it the dialectic between nationalism(s)/localism(s) and cosmopolitanism(s) and find whole shelves of work, historical and recent.

I can understand the social structures, forms, practices you are discussing but then your examples are all so uniformly negative, people we don't like, people not like us , that I feel we must be talking about radically differing content. What am I missing?

bob mcmanus 10.17.14 at 10:12 pm

Collaborators, however, cannot be so neatly bound. Some do not entirely belong to the group they betray; others, like the French fascists of Vichy, have a deep affinity for the enemy they aid.

I still think a framework of elite cosmopolitanism is very useful here, especially since there has been so much work on cosmopolitanism vs nationalism, and cosmopolitanism in service of insurgent nationalism (Eastern European intellectuals in the 19th century.)

Atarashiki tsuchi 1937, is a fascinating artifact, in which director Arnold Fanck, who was in trouble with Goebbels, tried to improve his position by making a movie selling Japanese particularity to a Nazi audience by reference, subtle and overt, to shared values (blood, militarism, racial mysticism, sexism). And mountain climbing. It taught me that there can be right-wing cosmopolitanisms.

Once you start thinking about elites using cosmopolitanism (s) to get international assistance to gain advantage in locally contested spaces then it becomes a tool for understanding elite operations of both right and left for the subjugation of local populations, which can be either to the right or the left of the cosmopolitan elites. Neoliberal examples abound, and can be left to the readers.

Current reading involves cosmopolitan liberal elites (television producers) in Egypt currently attempting to guide their audience between the Scylla of globalist neoliberalism and the Charybdis of Islamism, using, believe it or, nationalistic iconic depictions of the patriotic working-class. Lila Abu-Lughod

Oh, and they certainly use fear, fear of deracination, fear of terrorism.


Omega Centauri 10.17.14 at 10:21 pm

I think in many many particularly lower level situations things are a lot more nuanced. Alleged collaborators, may either be believers in the foreigners project/ideology, or may at least initially think that can do more good, or reduce harm by working with him. Oftentimes, if he changes his mind later about the nature of the regime he's become part of, acting on that change would create great personal risk.

And what about the guy who helps try to make the occupation less obviously awful, say by helping restore damaged infrastructure. To the hardcore militant opposition, he is a collaborator, working to damage their cause. But he probably thinks he is making things better for his group, but may pay a huge price if the revolutionaries succeed.


Peter Dorman 10.17.14 at 10:37 pm

I think it would be useful to put to the side, at least initially, the emotional and political buttons that are pushed when we hear the term "collaborator" and look at the issue dispassionately.

There is an ancient and ongoing tension between objective and subjective identities. We are born into a clan or nation or religious community or social class, and those who share that identity with us assume we are one of them; this is what makes such an identity objective. But we may also make common purpose with that group's outsiders and enemies. We might do this because we have made a reasoned commitment to this other group or for expectations of personal advantage, out of fear or motivated simply by a sense of adventure. If we do that, if we join up with those our group views as an enemy, we become collaborators. A collaborator can be heroic, vile or simply someone who steps outside the norm.

Some famous examples: Rahab, who sheltered the spies Joshua sent into biblical Jericho, La Malinche who went over to Cortés, and yes the entire apparatus of Vichy, who worked on behalf of the German occupation rather than resisting it. What they have in common is not good or evil but simply choosing the "other" over their "own".

Of course, there is a lot of ambiguity to be explored. What is objective and what is subjective? Clearly national identity is objective-ascriptive actually-as is kin identity. What makes Greenglass such a model informant/collaborator is that he helped the government convict and execute his own sister. I would argue, however, that once one takes a job one acquires an identity that is not simply chosen; you are identified with your coworkers even if you feel personally alienated from them, and in that sense it is more objective than subjective. Snowden collaborated with Greenwald and Poitras against his former colleagues at Booz Allen Hamilton and the NSA in the sense that the journalists' mission was opposed to that of his coworkers, but his socially established identity at the time was derived from his work.

I would regard someone who informs on his circle of friends and lovers as a collaborator in this same sense, since to be part of a circle (even a circle of just one other person) is to acquire an identity from it. Undoubtedly, the struggle between loyalty to a friend and to ideals or external groups that require actions hostile to that friend is one of the oldest and deepest moral conundrums. Since collaborators nearly always establish personal ties to member of the groups they undermine, this comes with the territory. This is how we remember the anguish of Hollywood during the McCarthy era, for instance.

Perhaps we tend to foreground the "evil" examples of collaboration because of this shadow of personal betrayal-but "good" collaboration will probably betray in similar ways.

Harold 10.17.14 at 11:31 pm

Corey Robin @ 29, you have the advantage over your posters in that you presumably know what you mean by your definition of "collaboration" (noun) and "collaborationist" (verb) and we do not. If you want to split hairs, however:
In France, a distinction emerged between the collaborateur and the collaborationniste. The latter expression is mainly used to describe individuals enrolled in pseudo-Nazi parties, often based in Paris, who had an overwhelming belief in fascist ideology or were simply anti-communists.[6] Collaborateurs on the other hand, could engage in collaboration for a number of more pragmatic reasons, such as preventing infrastructure damage for use by the occupation forces or personal ambition, and were not necessarily believers in fascism per se. Arch-collaborators like Pierre Laval or René Bousquet are thus distinct from collaborationists.[7][8]

See also:


Harold 10.17.14 at 11:41 pm

As far as Judge Irving Kaufman, he could be accurately described as a "careerist" and self-promoter, since it was his ambition to fulfill the so-called "Jewish seat" on the Supreme Court. He claimed that he consulted God, who instructed him to impose the death penalty. His sole regret after the verdict was that the ensuing controversy forestalled this ambition. He is said to have kept yellowing clippings about the case in his breast pocket for ever after to whip out at a moment's notice in the event he was called on to justify himself.

According to the NYT obit:
Justice Frankfurter wrote to Judge Learned Hand: "I despise a judge who feels God told him to impose a death sentence. I am mean enough to try to stay here long enough so that K will be too old to succeed me."

In sentencing the Rosenbergs, Judge Kaufman called their crime "worse than murder." Later, he denied judicial clemency, despite what he called "a mounting organized campaign of vilification, abuse and pressure." He complained of threatening letters and asked for and received police protection for himself and his family.

Two decades later, the controversy was rekindled, when Federal Bureau of Investigation documents, released under the Freedom of Information Act in the 70's, disclosed that Judge Kaufman, who had said he had reached his decision to sentence the Rosenbergs to death in a solitary struggle of conscience, had actually had private discussions about the sentence with the prosecution and that he had repeatedly called the F.B.I. in an effort to expedite the executions.

The documents showed that the F.B.I. chief, J. Edgar Hoover, had opposed the death sentence for Mrs. Rosenberg.


notsneaky 10.18.14 at 4:31 pm

Was Wajda a collaborator or dissident?

Depends when. He dissented against the anti-communist opposition during Stalin and Kruschev, but began collaborating with the democratic anti-communist opposition when everyone started doing it (late 70's) because it looked like the system's days were numbered

Corey Robin 10.19.14 at 12:11 am

There's a reason, at least to my knowledge, that no one - forget me; no one - has ever called Julius Rosenberg a collaborator. He's always been called a traitor or a spy. And traitors and spies there have been since the dawn of time. According to Jan Gross, the term collaborator as we understand it only developed during the Second World War with the Nazi occupation of Europe. I suspect that has something to do with the fact that the Nazi occupation was especially brutal, involving the subjugation of local peoples. Anyone who spied for them - or worked with them in any way - took on an extra burden of guilt b/c of that oppressiveness. A collaborator was not merely someone who betrayed his or her country; it was someone who worked with an enemy who was especially set on subjugating that person's people.

Now we come to Julius Rosenberg. He passed on state secrets to the Soviets while they were allies of the US. That is, not at all set on subjugating the American people. In fact, the fact that they were allies made some people question whether Rosenberg could even be guilty of treason (and he wasn't in fact charged with treason but for espionage). But in any event, no, I'd not call him a collaborator.

Now, had Rosenberg been a member of a group that was subjugated by Stalinism - say the kulaks or the Ukrainians or the Poles - and had secretly been working with the Soviet regime in order to help them continue that subjugation, yes, I'd say he was definitely a collaborator. As there were all throughout the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (note my first example comes from East Germany).

Derek Bowman 10.19.14 at 12:52 am

I wonder if an example more close to home might be a useful test case for different accounts of collaborators/collaboration:

Department heads and other academics involved in carrying out clearly exploitative hiring practices. These are people acting to exploit members of their own profession, but they also identify in various ways with the university system and the class-affiliation of those whose interests they are serving. These people often have limited direct control over their hiring budgets. But they do have control over whether they carry out the assigned duty of staffing classes under the exploitative terms. Their motives may well involve a mixture of fear (of losing their jobs) and ambition (for promotion or for reputation advancement either in their university or their discipline).

And we might also compare the actions of those adjuncts who accept such exploitative positions. They (we) too are also complicit in the continuation of those hiring arrangements. And they (we) similarly may be motivated by a mixture of fear and ambition.

Should a good theory of collaboration/careerism cover both of these cases? The former but not the latter? Neither?

Rich Puchalsky 10.19.14 at 1:13 am

I think that "collaborators only started with the Nazis" is not a good way to put it if you're really looking to generalize the term. In particular, you miss out on one of the most interesting collaborators, Josephus (Titus Flavius Jospehus, or Joseph ben Matityahu if you prefer). A military leader of the Jews against the Roman invasion in 67 CE, he manipulated the fanatical guards around him who wanted to kill him instead of letting him be captured into killing themselves first, then surrendered to the Romans, ingratiated himself by buttering up Vespasian, and then called on his people to surrender Jerusalem. I don't think "traitor" really is the right word, because when he wrote his own history of events, he presented collaboration as really the best thing to do (since otherwise more Jews would be killed in futile fighting).

In my opinion he should be pretty much a hero of the Jewish diaspora, one of the original survivors, in direct opposition to the glorification of the mass suicide of the Masada (which we know about mostly from him).

J Thomas 10.19.14 at 9:51 pm

#63 Layman

Perhaps the issue is not so much the ideologies in question, but rather the inevitable which ensues when particular individuals or groups use those ideologies to achieve totalitarian power…

Here is the almost-axiomatic pattern I see:

In almost any system, some people make a disproportionate share of the choices. There are competitors to make those choices, and there are methods they can get the right to increase their share of choice.

People who make the particular decisions which give them increased choice, get more later choices than people who choose in ways that do not give them increased choice. So the people who consistently make the choices that give them more choice, will tend to take away choices from people who choose on some other criteria.

So people who start out with some other goal, like increasing human happiness or human comfort etc, tend to find that they can only do that in marginal cases where their choice does not matter to the primary goal of getting more choice. If they do good and lose power, then they have less power in the future that could be used to do good.

There are people who claim that their own systems are immune to this. For example, there are people who claim that if a businessman always makes the choice which gives him the biggest profit, that will also result in the best outcome for the world. As near as I can tell, these people are wrong. But while their logic is wrong and their examples are dubious, still it is possible that they might happen to be right by accident.

#65 Mattski

I would say, power accrues to itself. But I think that's what you're saying.


There will always be ambitious people, selfish people, etc. I think it's more like learning to walk a tight-rope than finding the "right system."

If you try to walk a tightrope where you balance doing good versus losing power, and you are competing with people who do not need to be on the tightrope because they only care about getting your power away from you, that's very difficult for you.

It would be far better if you could perform in a system where you did not face that. It isn't something you can fix very well on your own, trying to do good while others who care nothing for good try to defeat you using any weapon they can get. If there's a solution it needs to be a systemic sort of solution. But I don't know what a good system would even look like, much less how to get there from here.

Omega Centauri 10.20.14 at 12:56 am

If I think of US politics, and even areas of civil service which are touched by politics, the bridge seems to me to be a single stranded cable at best. Our particular system seems to be rife with opportunists, both politicians and media types who profit by destroying others careers, by any means necessary. Inevitably doing the right thing can lead to actions which are easily misconstrued, given the sound-bite level of our discourse. Sure, education and critical thinking would help, but even this is becoming part of the partisan battleground.

J Thomas 10.20.14 at 12:45 pm

#73 Cassander

>There are people who claim that their own systems are immune to this.

no system is immune, but some systems are less prone to it than others. the decentralization principle of capitalism being one of the ones most resistant.

But there are no capitalist systems. Capitalism is only a part of other systems. So the capitalist system with slavery involved slaves who officially had no choices, and capitalism incorporated them just fine as property. They had to do as they were told on fear of whipping or worse.

But it turned out that wage slavery was more efficient. Wage slaves don't have to be whipped, they try their best to please their master so they won't be thrown away and made unemployed. In good times there are plenty of alternative jobs and they get some independence. But the system is designed to make sure there is enough unemployment to keep the wage slaves from getting uppity.

In general, when people decide for their own reasons to do ethnic cleansing or whatever, capitalists are eager to sell them the guns.

When christians say that christianity is a better system than most, people snicker - because they have heard about the Spanish inquisition and the Anabaptists etc. Anarcho-capitalists can argue that we have never had a truly capitalist system so we can't blame past excesses on capitalism. But communists can make exactly the same argument. They say that the USSR was not communism but state capitalism. And they are right.

ajay 10.20.14 at 2:16 pm

Collaborators may be low- or mid-level perpetrators; suppliers, like the warehouse in Jedwabne, Poland, which provided the kerosene local residents used in 1941 to burn a barn containing 1,500 Jews, or Ford and General Motors, which funded a Brazilian security outfit that interrogated and tortured leftists

Or, indeed, the Soviet oilmen, miners and metal workers who supplied the raw materials that Hitler needed to build his armed forces; working, as it turned out, directly against the interests of their own people. When the Wehrmacht rolled into the USSR in June 1941, a large number of its tanks and aircraft were running on Russian oil, built from Russian steel and aluminium, rolling on tyres made from Russian rubber, driven by soldiers fed on Russian grain and clad in Russian cotton – even firing shells capped with Russian metal.

mattski 10.20.14 at 2:31 pm

The GOP is not a party of capitalists, it's a party of people who admire capitalists.

You see, this is where people have a tendency to confuse things. You say the GOP admires capitalists. Well, what does a political party do? It serves it constituency! You say that if that is what the GOP is up to then they've done a bad job of it. I don't necessarily disagree, but how does that change the basic truth of how our politics works?

You can argue that Democrats also serve capitalists and I would agree. But "capitalists" is a broad term. Very broad. Why not say, "business community" instead? And does it really matter what you call it? Democrats are pro-business but they also try to help the less fortunate. Republicans are pro-pro-pro-business and they throw some bones to the Christian right. And they're typically pretty crude and unsophisticated in the way they serve moneyed interests. So? They're generally a bunch of knuckleheads who cow-tow to anyone with a fat wallet.

Harold 10.20.14 at 8:14 pm

I am not saying there was no discussion at all, but I can remember very well that the big corollary of the witchhunt was that Germans were now supposed to be our loyal friends and allies with the Dulles Bros. in the battle against Communism and one was not supposed to bring up the Jews or the Holocaust. My mother, who was Jewish, did bring it up from time to time, but she was unusually outspoken. People were supposed to "fit in", shut up, and not make waves and they complied.

I remember, because my parents took me to see the "Night and Fog" exhibit in Paris in 1956, when I was about 11, and it was utterly shocking to me. I came back and immediately told all my friends and cousins what I had seen and they refused to believe me and said I must be mistaken. Not only that, but some playmates (whose parents were in the military) were forbidden to play with or speak to me ever again. A year or so later I brought it up in school, and although my teacher clearly approved, my classmates were upset and outraged and refused to believe it.

Marcus Marrus recounts that when Raoul Hillberg announced that he was writing his dissertation on the Holocaust as a graduate student at Columbia in the 1950s, he was warned by his advisers that dealing with the topic would debar him from ever getting an academic job - his book was published in 1961.

PGD 10.23.14 at 10:04 pm

On the death toll of communism - I think the *net* death toll created by Mao is in fact quite questionable. He did a lot of killing and made a lot of stupid decisions that led to deaths, but he also greatly improved many areas of Chinese life as compared to the century before he took over (1849-1949), which was dominated by brutal warlordism, widespread anarchy, and large periodic famines. If you believe pretty much all the statistics available, life expectancy improved and mortality dropped in China over most of the 1949-1979 period, with the exception of the big famines of the early 1960s. I think there's a reasonable statistical argument to be made that the Chinese Communist party's successes in many areas like health, public order, etc. led to increases in life expectancy that counterbalanced or more than counterbalanced the deaths they caused. And of course that case is only helped by what happened after Mao's death when less radical leaders built on the national order he created but changed direction to use market incentives and openness to trade.

This isn't attempt to justify the more horrible stuff Mao did - no doubt his reforms could have been achieved at a much lower cost - but there is a complete lack of contextualization of his regime in terms of the challenges of unifying and advancing a horribly poor and chaotic country within a couple of decades, and also frankly a total lack of any interest in the specific details of Chinese history outside of using Mao as an ideological whipping boy.

Ze Kraggash 10.24.14 at 9:20 am

"but there is a complete lack of contextualization"

Well, contextualization/decontextualization is the whole game.

One doesn't accuse, say, Lincoln of murdering a half-million people, burning cities, etc. – because slavery, saving the union, etc. Plenty of context here.

For the official bad guys, however, it's just the body count.

Question: Does Russia represent an alternative to the current western economic/social model? Or is this view an illusion based only on the conflict between some traditional vs. post-modern values?

  1. karl1haushofer says:

    October 23, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    This is pretty good read:

    It says the same thing that I have been suspecting a long time. The internal battle in Kremlin is preventing Russia from fully acting to protect it's self interests.

    The Anglo-Zionist empire still has a "hidden hand" in Russia that was never removed. The Empire can use the sanctions and freezing wealthy Russians bank accounts to cause havoc and internal power struggles within the Russian elites.

    The writing also says that a lack of any response to violent Kiev coup is frightening if you are rooting for Russia and says much about the incompetence of Russia's security services. The coup had been prepared for years, but when it happened Russia was caught surprised with no response and no plan how to counter it.

    Moscow Exile , October 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    "The writing also says that a lack of any response to violent Kiev coup is frightening …"

    • karl1haushofer says:

      October 23, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      Taken from the blog:

      7. In this context, recovering Crimea was a mirage, an illusion.
      8. If we compare the implications of the Maidan coup in Kiev with the liberation of Crimea, we see that the strategic defeat implicit in losing Ukraine as an ally is of such magnitude that everything else pales by comparison. The failure of the Russian services (all of them) in Kiev was so gigantic that its implications are frightening. It was either a failure or something even worse. In any case, the Crimea affair was merely a small episode in a confrontation that Russia is losing.

    Moscow Exile, October 23, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    A mirage?

    It looked real enough to me when I was last there, as did the inhabitants who made it absolutely clear that in their opinion the Crimea was Russian territory and that they were Russians.

    That was in 2007, by the way.

    As regards the fictive state known as "The Ukraine", the loss of the western Polish/ Austrian and Roman Catholic part thereof west of the Dnieper will be as much missed by Russia as one would miss the presence of a boil on one's arse, notwithstanding the fact that large areas of western Ukraine only became part of the Soviet Union, and thereby its inheritor state the Russian Federation, in the middle of the last century.

    This great loss that Russia would suffer by the removal that truly illusional state, the Ukraine, from its sphere of political influence would only be true insofar as one believed the theory touted by that inveterate russophobe, the Pole Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski.

    I for one believe that Brzezinski has long been well past his sell-by date, which came about about a quarter of century ago, when he was still talking through his arse but was, nevertheless being taken notice of by the intellectual giants in Washington.

    The last US intellectual as regards US/Russian relationships was, in my opinion, George F. Kennan, who thought that US expansionism to the former Soviet western frontier and its continuance of a containment policy against the "Empire of Evil" through its agency NATO following the demise of the USSR was a gross error. I am quite sure Kennan would also have been at odds with Brzezinski's maniacal obsession as regards Russia and his belief that the removal of the Ukraine from its "orbit" would somehow politically emasculate Russia.

    marknesop , October 23, 2014 at 2:51 pm
    Russia made no effort to interfere in Maidan – that's part of what was so infuriating about the constant refrain of "Russian bullying". The west was involved up to its ears, but Russia was completely absent from events in Kiev except from the distance of Russia itself, while the USA and Europe had their foreign ministers and state agencies all over it like a fat kid on a jelly roll.

    Everybody said "this is an internal affair, for Ukrainians to resolve on their own". But only Russia adhered to that restriction. And I don't know where you get the impression Russia was "caught by surprise and didn't have a plan". Russia must have known for years that one day the west would make a grab for Ukraine – it telegraphed its intentions often enough, with that jerk Zbigniew Brzezinski squawking that Russia would never be able to complete its Eurasian-Union vision if it did not have Ukraine. Russia must have known the attempt would come sooner or later, and must have learned through observation of the favoured colour-revolution template from which direction the attack would come. Either Putin played the west like he could read their minds, or the eventualities which played out were anticipated and responses discussed and filed away for the day they would be needed.

    karl1haushofer, October 23, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    To be fair Russia is not as wealthy and resourceful than the West. And Russia has a lot of internal problems like radical Islam and terrorism. It is possible and even likely that Russian intelligence knew what was happening in Ukraine but they just did not have resources to do anything about it.

    [Jan 17, 2014] Dances with hungry wolfs

    I can't judge the quality and importance of new laws. Yanukovich demonstrated absolute legal nihilism by passing the law the provides amnesty to participants of Maidan. Also none of current laws are in force and if so, what is the importance of new laws? But this interview is something. Hard pressure and inconvenient sharp questions for more then an hour from pretty professional fifth column agents, who are outrages by the possibility of losing their plush salaries. My God, this was a pressure of the level at which Bill O'Reilly look like a petty and somewhat shy school bully in comparison with those wolfs of media business. Looks like "grant eaters" who feel threat to their hard currency income flows instantly turn into very dangerous and very hungry wolfs. List listen to the interview... No matter how you judge the new laws, this guy really fought like a lion against pack of wolfs.
    Jan 17, 2014

    Очень длинная беседа.

    Не всякому хватит времени выдержать столько, да еще и на двух мовах.
    Я выдержал, так ведь я в материале и ловлю контексты.
    Так, - на всякий случай, - дублирую аннотацию из Ютуба.
    К ней, как говорится, ни убавить, ни прибавить.

    "Сотрудники американского "Громадского" ТВ, журналистами их не назовёшь, для очередной травли, пригласили в студию депутата Олега Царёва. 2,5 часа прямого эфира, получая указания по ноутбукам, ведущие выполняли заказ своих американских хозяев - морально уничтожали народного депутата...

    Схема простая - увести человека от привычной формы общения, наброситься всей стаей на одного и не связными вопросами, подборкой выборочных фактов, мешая ему отвечать на вопросы, превратить диалог фактически в судебный процесс, на котором приглашённый гость должен быть выставлен, как подсудимый, виновный в совершённом преступлении.

    Тема беседы при этой схеме не имеет значения.

    Так ведущие "Громадского" поступают со всеми кого им заказывают их владельцы.

    Для этих целей и был создан данный информационный канал. О журналистской этики, морали, чести и человеческом достоинстве сотрудников этого канала и речи не идёт.

    Хотя и не удивительно, предателями всегда становились "моральные уроды" из разных слоёв общества..."

    От себя: все, что за истекшие два месяца я узнал о ранее почти неизвестном мне депутате Царёве, говорило о том, что Олег Анатольевич честный, умный и сильный человек.

    Но даже не представить не мог, насколько умный и настолько сильным. Сто пятьдесят две минуты с секундами выстоять один на один против стаи бойцовых псов на их территории и, более того, победить - это дорогого стоит.

    Это, скажу я вам, куда выше депутатского уровня.


    Я не вижу акт глумления над Гайдаром как над "мертвым львом". Да, памятник поставили скорее одутловатому Лужкову, чем Гайдару. Поскольку скульптор изрядно накосячил и тупо не воспроизвел в монументе элементарного сходства с покойным.

    Но Гайдар был обслуживающим персоналом, он не формировал экономическую, финансовую повестку дня. Это - не Витте и не Столыпин. И даже не Чубайс или Явлинский.

    Вот если бы избиратели в ранних 90-х проголосовали как есть за Явлинского, они бы проголосовали за экономическую программу "500 дней". Хер знает, что из нее получилось бы, но она была вполне внятной и авторской.

    В случае с Гайдаром голосовать было не о чем. К нему приходили разные люди и предлагали Тимурычу: "сделай нам вот это. Нас не ебет - как это будет". Его программы не были авторскими.

    Какой он в сраку лев? Он - колумнист журнала "коммунист", официант при власть придержащих и пр..

    Даже циничный мошенник Чубайс, предлагая две "волги" за ваучер понимал, что он исполняет роль жулика, лени голубкова в этот момент. Но он это делал по собственной инициативе и довольно агрессивно. А Гайдар просто подписывал то, что лежало у него на столе. И обслуживал.

    К концу 90-х Егор Тимурович усовестился, многое понял, скорее всего осознал свою исполнительскую роль полового в политическом кабаке. Возможно даже - раскаялся.
    Я не смеялся над этим. Скорее - над памятником, надгробьем, где волею судеб его изобразили каким-то восточным человеком, толоконным лбом, министром Сапармурата Ниязова.

    В 90-х многие из нас были нищими. Курили поштучно "магну" или покупали на зарплату ликер "амаретто" для дам. Но молодость перевешивала. И в случае с условно "гайдаровскими" реформами мы просто внимательно всматриваемся в свое прошлое.

    А не плюем в "мертвого льва". Не было льва. А было то, что было.

    Nov. 16th, 2013 03:58 pm (UTC)

    Без пули, без петли на шее,
    Он тихо в бозе опочил,
    Нет, не был главным он злодеем -
    Он был орудием злых сил,

    Он только выполнял решенья
    Других, отягощенных злом,
    Он был козлом лишь отпущенья...

    Но всё ж, друзья, каким козлом!

    [Oct 21, 2013] The Sovereig by Stephen Eric Bronner

    "... a "comprador" bourgeoisie that was educated in the West and (without undue concern about ethical matters or enlightenment values) did its business at home. An internally generated bourgeoisie supportive of the state never took shape and, under the best of circumstances, this comprador class later became buttressed by multi-national firms and an oil industry controlled by familial monarchies. The sovereign thus walked the tightrope between past and present. The state never did provide a source of identity, or loyalty for the new sovereign, capable of contesting that of the tribe, ethnicity, or religion. With their impenetrable rivalries and feuds, their parochialism and dogmatic beliefs, they opposed the centralized nation-state as well as modern concerns with individualism, diversity, secularism, and the egalitarian implications of the social contract."

    ... ... ....

    Just as Hobbes stripped away the ideological veil of the monarch, however, he expressed what is weakest about liberal political theory. For the question remains: how is it that the asocial criminal types living in the warlike "state of nature" can forge a social contract in the first place? Francis Ford Coppola depicted such a scene in Godfather III where rival gangsters supposedly give up their guns before entering a suite to negotiate a pact - with murderous results. These gangsters may share a mutual enemy in the police but they show no loyalty to one another, let alone the sovereign, or the pact that they concluded. Hobbes views the preconditions of the state, the preoccupation with property and the existence of civil society, as the outcome of a political entity formed ex nihilo. His work thereby reinforces liberal assumptions about human nature and self-interest (always "rightly understood") that denigrates ideology and the habits learned in traditional societies. Hobbes assumes the behavioral and attitudinal consensus on which the sovereign relies. Emphasizing stability and holding revolution in contempt, enmeshed in abstract assumptions and ignoring prejudice, incapable of providing anything concrete that might help the exploited overthrow the exploiters, there is a reason why his liberal legacy has had little resonance outside the West.

    Unfortunate consequences, however, that accompanied this rejection. Imperialism may have been fought by national liberation "fronts," or coalitions comprised of often competing organizations with sharply different ideologies, but anti-imperialist solidarity rarely translated into loyalty for the new sovereign once the colonizers were defeated. Bloody conflicts that cost hundreds of thousands of lives between former partners shaped much of the post-imperialist world beginning with India/Pakistan and Algeria. Hamas and Fatah, whatever their common contempt for Israel, are today participating in a formal coalition whiled substantively engaged in a civil war. There is a warning that derives from Hobbes' work: the extent to which a popular consensus on the sovereign is lacking is the extent to which the need arises for what he wryly termed a leviathan (or a monster).

    As suggested earlier, historically speaking, the social contract never actually took place. Hobbes knew well enough that it was a merely hypothetical event that provided the sovereign with legitimacy. The old fox was well aware that the sovereign usually came to power through military conquest. But he also understood that legitimacy was not to be underestimated in constructing a state capable of transcending particular interests and traditional loyalties. Another fictional element thereby enters into the contract. Again, contrary to historical experience, those engaged in the electoral decision are stripped of their empirical traits. All individuals are seen as sharing a similar fear of death and a similar desire for security: all other issues are secondary. Each supposedly places the security provided by the state above any emotional associations that he has with his tribe, ethnic group, class, religion or even family. That self-understanding is the precondition for citizenship. A rigorous distinction thereby appears in Hobbes and other social contract thinkers between public and private. The sovereign represents the national or public interest while his subjects should be content to go about their private business and concerns guided by what C.B. Macpherson termed "possessive individualism.

    Hobbes was working in a war-weary context where a new bourgeois class prefiguring a capitalist form of production was contemptuous of the feudal prejudices and religious dogmas. This new class understood that the state will incarnate the national will in a way that private associations and institutions, such as religion or tribe, cannot. These preconditions served as the basis for an organic process whereby the sovereign state became linked to modernity and its disenchantment of the world through bureaucracy and expertise, democracy and diversity, science and secularism.

    This organic process rarely emerged outside the West because, quite simply, the state was imposed by imperialism. It was justified and run by what Andre Gunder Frank termed a "comprador" bourgeoisie that was educated in the West and (without undue concern about ethical matters or enlightenment values) did its business at home. An internally generated bourgeoisie supportive of the state never took shape and, under the best of circumstances, this comprador class later became buttressed by multi-national firms and an oil industry controlled by familial monarchies. The sovereign thus walked the tightrope between past and present. The state never did provide a source of identity, or loyalty for the new sovereign, capable of contesting that of the tribe, ethnicity, or religion. With their impenetrable rivalries and feuds, their parochialism and dogmatic beliefs, they opposed the centralized nation-state as well as modern concerns with individualism, diversity, secularism, and the egalitarian implications of the social contract.

    Institutional battles rage over the sovereign. It could be the mosque, the military, the tribe, or ethnic institutions. Whatever the sovereign, however, the sovereign is representative less of a general or public than a particular or private interest. And, if only for this reason, the [comprador] sovereign always lacks legitimacy. Instability and fear of the new are built into even the most authoritarian states of the Middle East. Modernizing military rulers may find themselves in coalition with traditionalists in opposing democracy or democrats in opposing traditionalism. It's also possible that secular democrats and religious traditionalists will join together in opposing the military. Especially in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, however, it would be naďve to assume that either the newly emerging political parties or the disorganized masses would continue identifying with authoritarian rule. The dictators sensed that it was impossible to rely on the loyalty of forces either looking forward to a democratic future or backwards toward an enchanted past.

    Violence may keep the authoritarian sovereign in power, but it contributes little to solving the problem of sovereignty. Gamal Nasser may have had a pan-Arab vision, but that is not the case with most other Middle Eastern "leaders." They justify themselves as sovereign with little more than their own will to power. Consider Karzai in Afghanistan, Honi Mubarek in Egypt, Saddam Hussein in Iraq or Bashir al-Assad in Syria. Such rulers are principally concerned only with maintaining power. Their state bureaucracies become little more than means for sanctioned forms of bribery, patrimony or log-rolling. Economic progress, when it occurs, is the by-product of the process by which the leader attempts to hold together rival private religious, tribal, or ethnic interests. Prison (or worse) is the lot of dissenters. The state becomes a source of anger and humiliation. The attraction of old caliphate or the transnational umma, or religious community, is thus understandable along with their demands for the introduction of Sharia law. Not simply the liberal or authoritarian state, but the state as such turns into the leviathan not just for the arch-reactionary Salaffis but, more generally, for members of pre-capitalist classes and pre-modern religious institutions who consider themselves losers (or collateral damage) in the march of progress.

    The principal struggle now taking place in the Middle East revolves around the question of which institution is sovereign: the (Shiite or Sunni) Mosque, the tribe, the (Baath or Hezbollah) party, the paramilitary organization (al Nusra Front), or the authoritarian leader who considers himself (or his office) sovereign. And, because these institutions and organizations are often mutually exclusive in their aims, sovereignty cannot result from some mechanical combination of their interests. Tensions between urban and secular as against countryside and religious forces have become manifest in Tunisia as well as in Iran where the Islamic Republic rests on the power of the revolutionary guards. In Iraq, paramilitary organizations of Sunnis and Shia battling for power engage in running battles and bombings occur daily. Turf wars between rival tribes (each with its own chieftain) are taking place in Afghanistan and Libya, while organized gangs enter the mix in Somalia. Tightly knit vanguards like al Qaeda or Islamic Jihad refuse to recognize any more encompassing sovereign power.

    Everywhere the state is fragile and its direction hangs in the balance. All contenders for power view their competitors as illegitimate and justify their politics and ideology in the name of popular sovereignty. Ironically, however, the stronger that identification of particular interests with public goods the greater the prospect of an authoritarian sovereign. Or, to put it another way, the degree to which the rights of citizenship are associated with the empirical traits of different individuals is the degree to which the liberal of law is dysfunctional and the sovereign lacks broad legitimacy. Even more ominous: the less the state is considered sovereign, the more absolute the claims of rival religions and tribes to champion the public good, the more intense the violence, and the more authoritarian the new sovereign will become.

    Memories of times past immediately render suspect the altruistic claims by former imperialist nations that their intervention will produce stability in the Middle East and solve the question of sovereignty. Inhabitants of these states will surely think of Bechtel, XE, or oil companies making a killing. Formerly colonized peoples will also resent the arrogance of those who (once again) refuse them the right organically to generate their own traditions. That is especially the case since it took a bloodbath to bring about the triumph of the sovereign state in the West. Cultural knowledge about the intricacies of traditional social networks in the Middle East is also usually lacking; political resistance is usually underestimated; and national conflicts are usually expressions of transnational or regional rivalries that unexpectedly complicate matters considerably. The intervening power may strengthen its domestic ally in the short-run battle for sovereignty but that generally produces a legitimacy deficit for the long haul. Intervention tends to weaken sovereignty almost by definition and those organizations that readily accept support from the outsider are, more often than not, condemned as puppets or traitors by their domestic enemies. Hospitals, housing, food and other forms of humanitarian aid by Western nations will go a long way to creating good will – and perhaps even increasing their influence. Nevertheless, gratitude for such actions does not translate into the ability of an external power to impose a legitimate sovereign.

    Self-styled realists often refer admiringly to the tough-minded Hobbes. Especially neo-conservatives tend to agree with his belief that the war-like state of nature exists where there is no sovereign (such as the international arena) and that ethical constraints on political action are superfluous. With an eye on the Middle East, Robert Kagan argued in Of Paradise and Power (2004) that the United States must embrace this Hobbesian outlook while Europe, now reduced to secondary status, has no choice other than to follow Kant's moral imperatives and regulative ideals while remaining content to champion diplomacy and respect for international law. Be that as it may. For all the tough talk, such realists ignore Hobbes most basic lesson, namely, that nothing is more disastrous than dislodging a sovereign without having a legitimate substitute waiting in the wings. That has certainly been the story of American involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq and, somewhat less dramatically in Libya where the attack at Benghazi, along with half a dozen others that received less media coverage, served as a response to an American invasion in which thousands were killed.

    Without even referring to Afghanistan where the Taliban was replaced by the US supported regime of Karzai, whose family is tied to the opium trade, in Iraq the American government and media blithely accepted the claims of Ahmed Chalabi (an Iraqi businessman in exile), that he had the support of the populace and that the Iraqi people would welcome American troops with open arms. When elections were held, however, Chalabi received about 2% of the vote while the invading army was not exactly greeted with joy. When a semi-democratic regime dominated by Shia was finally installed by the United States under Maliki, his lack of legitimacy led him to distance himself from his nominal ally even as American troops were coming under attack by Sunni paramilitary organizations opposed to his government. In Libya, meanwhile, the dislodging of Momar Qaddaffi led to a disintegration of sovereignty, low level fighting between tribes, and lingering resentment against the United States that exploded in the assault on its embassy by al-Qaeda. There is a marked tendency to take seriously the quip by Erich Hobsbawn, the great historian, that "there is nothing more dangerous than a superpower that claims it is doing the world a favor."

    American attempts to arrange a new social contract that would put in place a legitimate sovereign proved fruitless in all these cases. There is no reason to think that the outcome would be different in Syria where internecine squabbling is taking place among a completely disorganized opposition without a nationally recognized leadership and unclear about the regime it wishes to substitute for the dictatorship of Assad. The Middle East is not Europe. Making reference to the new regimes introduced after World War II is a false analogy. Governments in exile existed and, after the war, the Marshall Plan secured the new sovereigns. Germany and Italy may have had a relatively recent tradition of statehood but its nationalistic foundations had emerged organically. Neither country was ever colonized. In fact, both were often included among the "great powers."

    American foreign policy takes for granted the nation-state as the basic unit of analysis. In the Middle East, however, sovereignty is conditioned by a host of transnational and regional factors including religious, tribal, and even familial loyalties. With Syria, for example, the civil war has already destabilized Lebanon and it has divided the Islamic world. Hezbollah and Iran support the government of President Assad, which retains a Shia and Alawite base, while Saudi Arabia, Qatar have already spent $3 billion to advance Sunni interests. They have armed a dysfunctional and disorganized Syrian opposition in which centralized and transnational vanguard groups like al Qaeda have flourished. So far, luckily, the United States has basically kept its distance. With thousands killed by drone attacks, the United States can only make the situation more explosive by further intruding upon the sovereign of nations in the region.

    Intervention has become for the United States what David Bromwich has called a "rationalized addiction." Justifications for intruding upon the sovereignty of other states are usually based on preventing chaos, protecting human rights, or serving the national interest. But they are hollow. American intervention in Afghanistan and then Iraq produced tens of thousands of deaths, millions of exiles, a wrecked economy, and environmental devastation that is difficult to imagine. Three million refugees have spilled over into other states as Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon are wracked by civil war. That all of this somehow furthers human rights (even in the long run) is an easy claim to make when others pay the price. But then it is difficult to argue that American national interest has been served when more than fifty thousand soldiers have lost their lives and trillions have been spent on regional military actions and wars for seemingly no purpose. Use of torture, mercenaries, and rendition have also undermined the moral standing of the United States and, by subverting the sovereignty of other nations, generated feelings of national humiliation that will take a long time to forget. There is no social contract in the Middle East and the leviathan looms large. If nothing else the Arab Spring suggests that the peoples of the Middle East wish to shape their future in democratic fashion. Enough obstacles (many of their own making) render this a difficult process. Long after colonialism has faded, however, the Arab world is still denied the chance to develop on its own, make its own mistakes, and generate its own institutions appropriate to the modern age. Or, putting it another way, sovereigns in the Middle East are always imperiled precisely because sovereignty has become little more than an artificial construct in the eyes of the West.

    [Mar 24, 2013] Yanis Varoufakis: While Waiting for Cyprus' Godot….

    naked capitalism

    Here are some unedited thoughts I just shared with the BBC's Radio 4 on Cyprus while we are all waiting for the new deal to shape up:

    Cyprus' banking sector must shrink. As did Ireland's, the hard way. What is essential, as every Irishman and woman will tell you, is that the politicians do not load up the weaker citizen's/taxpayers' shoulders with enormous debts on behalf of bankers that refuse to wither.

    Every bailout agreement, beginning with Greece's in May 2010, seems less logical and more toxic than the previous one. The culmination was of course Cyprus this past week. Think about it: In one short week, Europe has managed:

    • To put in jeopardy the hitherto sacrosanct concept of state guaranteed deposit insurance
    • The monetary integrity of the Eurozone
    • The European Union's single market principle according to which capital controls are a no-no.

    If only the agreement reached at last June's EU Summit to de-couple the banking crisis from the public debt crisis had been implemented, we would not be having this conversation now.

    The Cyprus debacle is the homage that denial of the systematic nature of the euro crisis pays to a systemic crisis.

    Cyprus parliamentarians offered the Eurozone a reprieve from the stupidest and most potentially destructive Eurogroup decision since this Crisis began three years ago. It now remains to be seen whether, scared by the sound of their own NO, they will now succumb to an even less rational deal.

    By Yanis Varoufakis, Professor of Economics at the University of Athens. Cross posted from his blog.


    You know, I was talking to an Albanian police chief earlier today, and he was telling me some stuff about politics around those parts in Europe that would really blow the mind of the average clueless American. I know I was flabbergasted. For example, did you know that the "unofficial" government in Cyprus, i.e. the mafia, (not to mention Italy, Albania and a lot of other places around the mediterranean) is a lot more powerful than the "official" government there? And to use a euphemism of a Russian fellow I was talking with the other day, if the Cyprus legislature failed to do what the Russian mafia instructed it to do, then it would be "cleaned".

    I think this accounts for the surprising unanimous vote against depositor haircuts they recently had there, and also likely means that any actions going forward by the sock-puppet government of Cyprus will be at the direction of the actual governing institutions of that particular state. Which is not to say that that is necessarily a bad thing; I'm just pointing out that unless you happen to be talking to people who are from the region and are somewhat politically connected, you might not have any idea what is really going on there.

    from Mexico:

    You know, I was talking to a Canadian politilogue, Peter Dale Scott, earlier today, and he was telling me some stuff about politics around those parts in the Americas that would really blow the mind of the average clueless American. I know I was flabbergasted.

    For example, did you know that the "unofficial" government in the United States - the "deep state" (CIA, NRO, NSA, DIA, DEA, NED, USAID, etc.), in collusion with that country's military sector and the transnational banking cartel, is a lot more powerful than the "official" government there? And to use a euphemism of a Pakistani fellow I was talking with the other day, if the United States legislature failed to do what the triumvirate of US deep state, the US military sector (both private and public), and transnational banking cartel instructed it to do, then it would be "cleaned". In his own words: "We are heading towards an international new order where the power of the state will be totally in hands of a corrupt mafia, who will usurp all human rights on pretext of controlling terrorism…. The boomerang will come back and as they say the wheel turns !"

    I think this accounts for the surprising pattern of unanimous votes there against rank and file Americans that have occurred over the past 35 years, and also likely means that any actions going forward by the sock-puppet government of the United States will be at the direction of the actual governing institutions of that particular state. Which is not to say that that is necessarily a bad thing, at least for the 1%, the neoliberals and neoconservatives. I'm just pointing out that unless you happen to be talking to people who are from the region and are somewhat politically connected, you might not have any idea what is really going on there.

    The Dork of Cork:

    This is not a mistake.

    Capital controls within the Euro on a island be it Cyprus today or Ireland in the future is a very effective measure for core Euro and chief IMF shareholders ( the banks which control the western treasuries )

    Core Europe needs basic (energy resources). If Cypriots or Irish fight for the last Euro in the company store the oil they once burned will flow elsewhere.

    Thats the point of this.

    I have kept saying for some time now. The Irish are worth more dead then alive.

    from Mexico:

    What is it going to take to wake up the rank and file of Ireland, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, etc. to a very simple reality: They're being colonized? We've seen this movie before. It's what Hannah Arendt called "continental imperialism."

    And it is all facilitated by a small group of privileged elites who hail from within the colonized nations. The relationship between inside colonizer and outside colonizer that exists in neo-colonialism is explained by Carlos Fuentes as follows:

    In the phase immediately after independence, Britain managed Latin America's foreign trade; in the latter part of the nineteenth century, the United States came to be the principal partner. However, they employed the same instruments of economic power, namely favorable agreements for their merchants, loans and credits, investment, and the handling of the export economy… A highly privileged local minority served as intermediaries, both for these exports and for the imports of manufacured European and North American goods, which were in demand among the urban population in the interior…

    Large haciendas, intensive exploitation of minerals and cheap labor forces proliferated. Was this what independence was all about - land and mine owners profiting handsomely while the majority remained impoverished?

    – CARLOS FUENTES, The Buried Mirror

    For an excellent contemporary analysis of the same phenomenon there's Ljubiša Mitrović's "THE NEW BOURGEOISIE AND ITS PSEUDO-ELITE IN THE SOCIETIES OF PERIPHERAL CAPITALISM":

    Following the neoliberal ideology and concept of development (characterized by market fundamentalism, monetarist economic policy, privatization, liberalization, deregulation, Washington Agreement), the forces of the global capitalism, whose agents are the leading countries of the world centre and the USA, TNCs and the financial bank bourgeoisie, have imposed the neoliberal ideology of dependent modernization on the countries of the semiperiphery and the periphery.

    Here's how Mitrović describes the role of the inside colonizers:

    Comprador bourgeoisie is the upper layer of the bourgeois class… It is a tycoon group ruthlessly led by its interests. It posits its own interests over general social ones. It is not national in character and is socially irresponsible. It is a blind servant of foreign capital, ruthless in the exploittaion of the domestic workforce and dictatorial in relation to its fellow countrymen. Its homeland is where its interests are. It is the agent of the megacapital in the function of global economy. It is a "Trojan horse" of the foreign TNCs in Serbia and the region. Its god is the god Mammon, the capital. Its aim is to amass capital, and it puts profit above individuals. It is a predatory class of the nouveau riche and often bon vivant and parasitic upstarts. It is a peculiar jet-set of bandit economy.


    V4 became structurally dependent on foreign capital, which controls access to technology, knowhow, and major distribution networks. EU regulation gradually locked the state strategies in the competitive direction. The emergence of the competition state, however, cannot be understood without taking account of the agency of domestic social forces. Such forces must come to the forefront if "structural conditions" or "structural power" are meant to actually work; they cannot do without. The externally oriented strategies were implemented only when both the structural opportunities and political possibilities of the moment allowed domestic groups linked to transnational capital to come to the fore in individual social formations.

    These social forces, the comprador service sector, became the nodal point and organizer of a wide coalition of forces centered around foreign investors - a power bloc promoting the competition state. The power bloc also integrated significant fractions of domestic capital, which were becoming increasingly integrated into the supply chains of international investors. Moreover, some large domestic companies have joined the comprador bloc after it started to deliver direct benefits in the form of investment subsidies.

    Thus, these comprador power blocs in the V4 did not so much replace the supporters of the national strategies; rather, the latter were gradually rather transformed and integrated into the transnational coalition of forces underpinning the competition states.

    ... ... ..

    Slovenian deviation from the neoliberal 89 "Jahn: Škoda Auto zvýší mzdy o 12,7 procenta, navíc dá příplatky [Jahn: Skoda to increase wages],", 18 April 2007; "Lidé ze Škodovky: stávka byla fiasko [Skoda workers: Strike was a fiasco]," Právo, 20 April 2007. 40 strategy, along with its favourable legacies, produced structural preconditions allowing for a different model in the same international political-economic context. The actual policy outcomes are products of the agency of particular social forces mediated through structures of representation. In particular, the competition state is promoted by a power bloc centred around the multinational investors and organized by the comprador service sector. The comprador service sector helps to translate the structural power of transnational capital into tactical forms of power that enable agential power to work in sync with the interests of the multinationals. The comprador bloc also includes significant fractions of domestic capital, which are becoming largely internationalized and/or subordinated to international investors. Moreover, some large domestic companies have joined the power bloc after it started to deliver direct economic benefits in the form of investment subsidies.

    Hegemony of the externally oriented project and the predominance of the comprador service sector and its allies within the state - in the bodies directly involved in formulating economic strategies and FDI-related developmental policies in particular - creates an important accountability problem.

    In Hungary, Bohle and Husz (2005) observed the apparent lack of interest among state officials in evaluating costs and benefits of subsidies and various concessions provided to the multinationals. This, as will be further documented in the next chapter, is a general pattern in the V4.

    Who Won the Contest for a New Property Class Structural Transformation of Elites in the Visegrad Four Region by Jan Drahokoupil

    September 25, 2008 | SSRN

    This paper analyses the transformation of elites in the Visegrad Four countries (namely the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia). Drawing on a process-tracing analysis, it argues that the emergence of foreign-led economies in the late 1990s was intertwined with political processes in which domestic forces linked to foreign capital were transformed into major elite segments with considerable influence.

    This elite segment, the comprador service sector, proved to be politically active within the states in Central and Eastern Europe and organized various mechanisms of representation within the state and beyond.

    Corporate Power in a Globalizing World A Study in Elite Social Organization (review)

    The Canadian Journal of Sociology

    Wallace Clement - Corporate Power in a Globalizing World: A Study in Elite Social Organization (review) - The Canadian Journal of Sociology 31:1 The Canadian Journal of Sociology 31.1 (2006) 146-148 William K. Carroll, Corporate Power in a Globalizing World: A Study in Elite Social Organization. Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 2004, 282 pp.

    Many students of corporate power have been waiting quite some time for an updated analysis of control and governance in Canadian corporations. Much has changed since the writings of John Porter in 1965 and my own in 1975/1977. Canada has undergone the rounds of Free Trade and North American Free Trade but little has been written about those who now control the corporate world. No less an authority than University of Victoria sociologist William Carroll has now addressed the lacunae. Carroll is well positioned to undertake this analysis; he is theoretically and methodologically sophisticated with a critical foundation in both comparative sociology and political economy.

    Thirty years ago, following upon John Porter's classic study of the...

    The Contradictions of Black Comprador Rule - Assata Shakur Speaks - Hands Off Assata - Let's Get Free - Revolutionary - Pan-Africanism - Black On Purpose - Liberation - Forum

    [Jun 08, 2011] A neoliberal nationalization People, politics, and power in Bolivia's natural gas sector

    ProQuest Document View

    1. First, I argue that a burgeoning comprador elite class fraction in Bolivia aligned with transnational capital to implement processes of neoliberalization. Doing so, they sought to open up new spaces of investment by undermining the control that country's landed agrarian elite and the working and campesino classes had over the state.
    2. Second, I argue that the adverse effects of processes of neoliberalization led to a consolidation of Bolivia's popular classes. Through this alignment, they eventually took control of the state as the alliance between the comprador elite and transnational capital made a series of iterative mistakes.
    3. And third, I argue that while Bolivia's popular classes have enhanced their power, their ability to use the country's natural resources as an engine of socioeconomic change has been constrained by the path dependent sociomaterial realities that surround Bolivia's primary export, its natural gas.



    UDC 316.62(497.16)

    Ljubiša Mitrović

    University of Niš, Faculty of Philosophy,

    Following the neoliberal ideology and concept of development (characterized by market fundamentalism, monetarist economic policy, privatization, liberalization, deregulation, Washington Agreement), the forces of the global capitalism, whose agents are the leading countries of the world centre and the USA, TNCs and the financial bank bourgeoisie, have imposed the neoliberal ideology of dependent modernization on the countries of the semiperiphery and the periphery. The newly established (political, economic, cultural) elites in the postsocialist societies in most postsocialist states have mostly accepted this strategy. It has been offered in the form of a programme of radical economic reforms by the IMF and the World Bank, as instruments of the TNC and the USA. The experts within these institutions, starting with Geoffrey Sax and up to John Perkins and other ''paid murderers'', the representatives of the god Mammon and of the Money-Driven Internationale, have spread the spirit of the capitalism of disaster (N. Klein) in the postsocialist states. In that sense, post October 5 Serbia has also found itself on the receiving end of such neoliberal radicalism (ie. market banditism). Plagued by a decade long sanctions and wounded by the NATO war intervention, impoverished and confused, Serbia, still in agony over October 5 events and antirevolutionary changes, easily fell prey to the ''big brother'' and his/its experts of Machiavellian social engineering. The new so called democratic elite, which was recruited from various social layers, but that was mostly made up of urban middle class people considered renegades in the former socialist societies, wholeheartedly and uncritically accepted what their Western mentors had to tell them and started creating the political strategy of satellite dependent modernization based on the neoliberal programme that has paved the way for a radical disintegration of the real economy (industry, the working class...), radical privatiozation of companies, introduction of foreign banks and foreign media. This transitional shock has cretaed profound changes in the economy and social anomia. There followed mass unemployment, enormous exploitation, social inequalities, the rise in social contradictions. All of the given proceses led from a blocked to a disintegrated society, from real economy to ''bandit economy'', to lumpenpolitics and lumpendevelopment. In short, Serbia and the Balkans have faced the renewal of the phenomenon of dependent so cieties of peripheral capitalism of the Latin American type, so aptly and brillantly written about by Andre Gunder Frank.1 Dependent modernization is an expression of the hierarchical relations to be found in the reproduction of capital power between the countries of the world centre, on the one hand, and the countries of the world periphery or satellite countries, on the other hand. Such a type of neoliberal dependent modernization creates a specific type of capitalist society, namely bandit ecomomy, lumpenpolitics and dependent culture. It also serves as the basis for the creation of a specific structure of social classes, layers and elites, that are instrumentalized by the global domination of capital, that are its servants and representtaives of their power at the national and the local levels. Dependent modernization has brought about peripherization and rebalkanization of the Balkans, that Eric Hobsbowm wrote about saying that ''future will be most difficult in South- Eastern Europe, that is relatively, and sometimes absolutely, uderdeveloped when compared to the other parts of the continent'' (NIN, 15 July, 2010, p. 56). Such a po

    [Jun 08, 2011] America and the Imperial Project A Talk with Anatol Lieven

    Dec 21, 2004 | Asia Society

    In the wake of nationalist movements in the colonial world, imperial powers - in particular Britain - slowly ceded a variety of powers to local elites, in effect developing sophisticated ways of ruling through them (what Marxists called a "comprador elite"). Is it possible to say that the US empire runs the Third World - of which the Muslim world is an important part - through such a model of what has been called "indirect rule"?

    Yes, to a considerable extent this is the case. Of course the comprador model, in the strict Latin American sense, never quite fits because very few governments elsewhere in the world have been so completely subservient as some of the Latin American elites in the past. After all, Egypt still tries to take a different line on Israel; Jordan supported Saddam Hussein in 1991; Saudi Arabia could be seen as a comprador state in that it exists to produce and export oil, but clearly in its internal arrangements, it is not at all responsive to what America would like.

    Perhaps it may be more difficult these days to run such manifestly comprador systems given that, as I suggested earlier, there does tend to be more democratic pressure from below than in the 19th century. A good example is Russia, although admittedly Russia also has its tradition of Great Power status and so forth which prevents it from becoming completely subservient to America.

    As I wrote in a previous book on the reasons for Russia's defeat in Chechnya between 1994 and 1996, there was a real attempt by America in the 1990s, with tremendous help from the Russian elites themselves, to turn Russia into a kind of comprador state, whose elites would be subservient to America in foreign policy and would exist to export raw materials to the West and transfer money to Western bank accounts. In the end, neither the Russian state nor the Russian people would accept that. The Yeltsin order was replaced by a kind of authoritarian, nationalist backlash under Putin. One sees the same thing in a rather different form in Venezuela, for example.

    So I think there are strong elements of this comprador tradition in the present American-dominated international system but at the same time it is a troubled and contested setup.

    America Right or Wrong Interview with Anatol Lieven (a very important article)

    December 21, 2004 | AsiaSource

    Perhaps it may be more difficult these days to run such manifestly comprador systems given that, as I suggested earlier, there does tend to be more democratic pressure from below than in the 19th century. A good example is Russia, although admittedly Russia also has its tradition of Great Power status and so forth which prevents it from becoming completely subservient to America. As I wrote in a previous book on the reasons for Russia's defeat in Chechnya between 1994 and 1996, there was a real attempt by America in the 1990s, with tremendous help from the Russian elites themselves, to turn Russia into a kind of comprador state, whose elites would be subservient to America in foreign policy and would exist to export raw materials to the West and transfer money to Western bank accounts. In the end, neither the Russian state nor the Russian people would accept that. The Yeltsin order was replaced by a kind of authoritarian, nationalist backlash under Putin. One sees the same thing in a rather different form in Venezuela, for example.

    [May 08, 2011] Geithner Blocked IMF Deal to Haircut Irish Debt

    May 7, 2011 naked capitalism
    Philip Pilkington
    The fact that the stockholders sided with the Euroboys is less surprising than you might think. It's a class thing.

    You see, there's a certain class of people in Irish society who worship power. They consider themselves above and beyond the great unwashed that make up the rest of the population. They often identify with whoever they see as an outside power. Crude as it might be, these people used to be referred to as 'West-Brits' or 'Castle Catholics'.

    That's where I think the mentality comes from: the colonial experience. But it runs deep (trust me, I'm related to some of these people…).

    It is - and has always been - a very self-destructive class dynamic. And it continues to be through to this day. The psychologists used to call it 'identification with the aggressor' and I think that sums it up nicely.

    A few years ago eXiledonline ran a very funny satirical piece that, among other things, dealt with this cultural phenomenon. Here it is:

    Incidentally - and just for some shameless self-promotion - the Versailles meme has been bumping around Ireland for a few months now. I think I might have started it off with a polemical piece I wrote to get the lefties in Ireland stirred up:


    You see, there's a certain class of people in Irish society who worship power. They consider themselves above and beyond the great unwashed that make up the rest of the population. They often identify with whoever they see as an outside power. Crude as it might be, these people used to be referred to as 'West-Brits' or 'Castle Catholics'. <

    There are two additional terms that might also be useful:

    • "Comprador bourgeoisie" is long known phenomenon and is usually defined as a section of an local middle class allied with foreign investors, multi-national corporations and bankers. Allied with Western masters against their own population if you wish.
    • Lumpenbourgeoisie is a similar term attributed to Andre Gunder Frank who in 1972 described a type of a middle class and upper class (merchants, lawyers, co-owners and part of staff of joint companies etc.) which that has little "national" self-awareness or "native" economic base.

    The term is most often used in the context of Latin America but is applicable to Russia and all post-Soviet countries.

    In Russia such people are often called "liberasts".

    [Apr 16, 2011] Latvia's Cruel Neoliberal Experiment

    Latvia is being devastated by two global wars. On the geopolitical front is the Cold War's coup de grâce. Neoliberals have managed to de-industrialize Russia and the rest of the former Soviet Union, persuading parliaments to dismantle government support for economic renewal.

    The "Washington Consensus" has backed a policy of giving away public enterprises and land to a newly minted oligarchy of insiders, and helped them sell shares to Western investors. The ensuing economic wreckage has helped avert future military rivalry to U.S. hegemony.

    Western investors are waging their own social war of finance and property against labor. Initiated by the Chicago Boys in Chile in 1973, sponsored in Britain by Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives after 1979 and by Ronald Reagan's Republicans in the United States after 1980, this class war was capped by "Rubinomics" under Bill Clinton and the Democrats after 1992. Rejecting the classical distinction between earned income (wages and profits) and unearned income (economic rent, financial charges and land-price gains or other asset-price gains), this global war seeks to rationalize privatization of the land and key resources of the former Soviet Union and China as well as those in Third World debtor countries. Its aim is to roll back a century of Progressive Era regulatory reforms and taxation of rentier wealth. So over and above being on the losing side in this victory over Communism, Latvia has been swept up in this war of oligarchy against democracy.

    Western Europe has viewed the post-Soviet economies as markets for its surplus exports (especially those subsidized by the Common Agricultural Policy) and bank credit. The last thing the West wants is to help potential competitors develop in the way that it has developed itself – by protectionist tariffs, public subsidy of industry and agriculture, infrastructure spending, social-democratic regulation, and progressive taxation. The strategy is for global conglomerates to buy up property (with tax-deductible credit), while European banks extend loans to fuel debt bubbles. This policy has left the Baltics and other post-Soviet countries economically dependent beyond their ability to pay down the debts they have run up so rapidly over the past decade.

    From time immemorial, wealth has borne an obligation to support overall social welfare. But over the past few decades the vested interests have refined their strategy for reversing this principle. Led by financial lobbyists, they have sponsored a campaign to shift the tax burden off real estate and monopolies onto labor, privatize the public domain and break free of public regulation to extract rents and fees without constraint. The result is a change in the direction in which Western civilization has been moving for centuries.

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) are key players in this about-face. They demand that governments impose austerity plans, scaling back employment and public spending on such basic necessities as schools and hospitals, and selling off public assets and enterprises to pay creditors. This extractive effort has polarized economies. Creditors have backed politicians pledged to rewrite the tax laws, deregulate government oversight, and to bail out banks (even foreign banks) with public funds when loans go bad, as they must do as the debt overhead shrinks economies.

    Latvia and its Baltic neighbors are victims of this counter-revolution. Since dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 they have been used as a laboratory to break from liberal European tradition. For starters, a radical tax policy (a heavy flat tax on labor, almost none on property) has replaced the tradition of progressive taxation. A philosophy of privatization with no recapture of the rental value created by public investment and general prosperity has replaced the tradition of a mixed economy, while financial policy encourages borrowing in foreign currency despite local income being in domestic currency.

    Finally, there is no "public option" in the form of basic infrastructure, banking or other natural or legal monopolies. Nor is there public regulation to keep prices in line with actual costs of production. Instead, neoliberals have disabled Latvia's government and turned the economy over to foreign owners, creditors and suppliers. This policy drains the economic surplus, while foreign economies also receive Latvia's labor and flight capital unable to find employment at home.

    As a result of this policy, the nations that dominated Latvia in past centuries by military power are now doing so financially, as illustrated by its recent capitulation to European Union and IMF loan conditions. This war against the post-Soviet economies imposes economic austerity similar to the dictates the IMF has imposed on Third World countries for the past half-century. The result is debt peonage and neofeudal privileges creating dependent "tollbooth economies."

    No countries outside of the post-Soviet sphere have tried such an experiment. It aims at testing how far an economy can be depressed before its population dies off or emigrates. What is so remarkable is that this is being done in the name of free markets, and even in the name of Adam Smith. Yet Smith and other classical economists defined free markets as ones free of land rent, monopoly rent and financial overhead. They developed classical value and price theory as a tool to endorse taxing this unearned income, which they deemed to be unnecessary charges in excess of cost-value, headed by land rent.

    Economic rent is the proverbial free lunch: income without a corresponding cost of production. Instead of taxing away this "empty" pricing without cost value, the flat tax is levied on labor, and the value-added tax to the sale of consumer goods. These taxes raise the cost of living and doing business, making Latvia's labor and industry uncompetitive. Rather than taxing the land's site rent to minimize the cost of living and doing business by holding down property prices, and rather than limiting the prices that monopolies can charge, "neoliberal" policy has forced the economy into deepening trade and debt dependency on foreign countries to finance the chronic structural trade deficit that this policy has caused.

    Latvian faces the problem of how to earn the foreign exchange to pay the foreign-currency debts it has taken on, and how to pay for the imports on which its open economy, high flat tax on employment and dismantling of government support have left it dependent.

    What has financed Latvia's trade deficit and rising foreign debt service has been mortgage credit borrowed in foreign currency. Some 87 percent of real estate mortgages are reported to be in euros and other foreign currencies, mainly from Swedish banks and their affiliates. These lenders have not asked how this debt can be repaid. The price of this irresponsibility no doubt will be to suffer defaults that threaten to wipe out their own capital.

    Latvia's neoliberal planners also have been remiss. Their policy of financing a trade deficit by borrowing against property already in place (rather than to invest in new means of production to increase exports or displace imports) could last only as long as property prices kept on rising and sufficient rental income remained unpledged to pay debt service. Mortgage borrowers turned over this currency to the central bank, which used it to cover domestic spending on imports. But this situation could last only as long as the real estate bubble was expanding. But since the financial and real estate bubble burst, foreign bank lending has dried up. The currency is now being supported by borrowing from foreign official agencies – on destructive terms that direct Latvia to shrink its economy even more! This shrinkage makes Latvia even more dependent on foreigners for its imports, and indeed for employment.

    So how is the economy to recover? Neoliberals have no answer. The culmination of what they call "free market" doctrine (a travesty of what "free markets" meant to Adam Smith) is to centralize planning in the hands of creditors: the European Union, IMF and Scandinavian bank lobbyists on behalf whose creditor interests the prime minister and central bank heads have represented as against those of indebted Latvians. This is the function of neoliberal policy, after all: to shift planning out of the hands of elected officials (economic democracy) into those of the financial sector (oligarchy), mediated by international financial agencies (dollar hegemony).

    This cruel experiment must end. Latvia must escape the economic and demographic death spiral into which its politicians have steered it. By indebting Latvia to foreign creditors beyond its ability to pay – and crippling its competitiveness with a regressive flat tax – neoliberal "reform" (more accurately, a reaction against the 20th century's Progressive Era reforms) is causing emigration and social collapse. It is time for Latvia to rejoin the course along which Western civilization has been traveling for the past eight centuries and reject the road to debt peonage and neoserfdom.

    Latvia's radical flat-tax experiment

    Every Western economy has financed in public education, transportation and other infrastructure investment first and foremost by a property tax, followed by a progressive income tax that initially fell on the highest wealth brackets. In the United States the original 1913 income tax required only the wealthiest 1 percent of the population to file tax returns. Capital gains were taxed at the same rate as wages and profits, on the logic that the effect of a capital gain is the same as earning income: both served to increase net worth.

    Fighting back, the rentier classes have spent nearly a century trying to reverse progressive taxation. The fiscal shift onto labor has been promoted by financial investors and property owners seeking to avoid their traditional fiscal obligations. Capital gains in the United States (mainly price increases for land sites) are now taxed at only half the rate levied on earned income. Many countries do not collect such taxes at all, or enable them to be easily avoided. Labor pays a regressive concealed tax in the form of paycheck withholding for Social Security and medical insurance, whose costs are removed from the general budget where they would fall on the higher tax brackets. (Higher-earning managers are exempted from these taxes.)

    At the state and local level, property taxes have been gradually but steadily replaced by income and sales taxes falling on labor and consumers. This has caused a tax squeeze that has forced cutbacks in public services, reversing the funding of local prosperity. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, high tax rates and protective tariffs tend to go hand in hand with high growth rates – as long as the tax revenue is invested in infrastructure and other economic support. In recent American and British economic history, periods of relatively high income tax rates have also been those with the highest-growth rates and least finally polarized imbalance.

    The reason is easy to understand. Whatever rental revenue the tax collector relinquishes is available to be pledged to banks as debt service on loans to buy property. Homeowners thus end up paying the bankers the income that they used to pay in taxes. But the government for its part still have has to raise tax revenue, which is levied on wage income and consumption. Housing prices rise in proportion to the tax burden being shifted off property onto employees.

    Until the 1990s no economy ever had sought so radical a counter-reform as to abolish the property tax. It would seem at first glance that no democracy would vote for an anti-labor tax as extreme as that with which Latvia and other post-Soviet economies have saddled themselves. In the United States in 2000 a billionaire right-wing Republican candidate, Steve Forbes, was laughed out of the presidential primaries for proposing a flat tax. In Western Europe such a tax would run against democratic tradition. But it is no laughing matter in the Baltics. This seemingly anti-democratic situation has been maintained by misrepresenting the tax as efficient rather than destructive of the domestic market.

    So the first Latvian experiment was how to persuade the country to adopt this tax policy and keep it in place, while leaving real estate and wealth virtually untaxed. In the face of the rising tide of indebtedness and emigration, the second stage of this experiment was to see how far this policy could shrink the economy without voters demanding a change. No one can know the answer until voters actually push back by electing a party or coalition with a less corrosive policy.

    The American Economy of High Wages doctrine vs. Latvia's low-wage policy

    Latvia's high tax on labor is averse to the rise labor productivity that requires rising living standards, educational levels and health as a precondition. The nation's anti-labor policy is antithetical to that of every economy that has achieved world-class industrial status. The U.S. economy, for example, built itself up not by grinding down its wages to compete with Britain and other industrial nations, but by just the opposite strategy. The American System of Political Economy, wrote E. Peshine Smith in 1852, rests "upon the belief, that in order to make labor cheap, the laborer must be well-fed, well-clothed, well-lodged, well instructed, not only in the details of his handicraft, but in all general knowledge that can in any way be made subsidiary to it. All these cost money to the employer and repay it with interest."[1]

    This became U.S. development policy after the Civil War (1861-65) freed the nation from Southern anti-industrial trade policy. Undertaking a study of international wage and productivity comparisons in 1884, the U.S. Deptartment of Labor concluded: "It is not by reducing wages that America is making her conquests, "but by her superior organization, greater efficiency of labor consequent upon the higher standard of living ruling in the country. … High-priced labor countries are everywhere beating 'pauper-labor' countries."[2]

    Latvia has achieved the worst of both worlds. It has raised the price of its labor by levying a higher flat tax on employment than is found in any other country (over 50% from the combination of social tax, employer tax an wage tax), while leaving employees with too little disposable income to raise their productivity to Western European standards. Cutbacks in public spending on education and public health shift the economic burden further onto labor, leaving an economy in which only the very rich are able to survive. This is why so much of Latvia's working-age population has emigrated or plans to leave. Without reversing this austerity policy toward its labor force and improving workplace conditions, Latvia will suffer further capital flight and emigration, and its trade deficit will deepen.

    Latvia's radical privatization policy

    Western Europe's and North America's investment in public infrastructure has provided their economies with a head start. Failure to invest – or to do so on a privatized basis – results in higher costs. Neoliberal privatization thus put the post-Soviet economies at a cost disadvantage. The Washington Consensus has had the effect of "pulling up the ladder," preventing Central Europe and other post-Soviet regions from catching up to become serious competitors with the West.

    Latvia's leaders have told voters that public enterprise is antithetical to private enterprise. But what they are criticizing is Soviet bureaucratic planning. They miss the more successful American and Western European social democratic tradition of public enterprise, and indeed leave out the long sweep of the history of civilization itself. It is now recognized that every commercial and entrepreneurial practice known today, ranging from the development of money and coinage, standardized quality, weights and measures, pricing and the charging of interest to profit-sharing commercial contracts and partnership arrangements, were developed in the temples and palaces of Sumer, Babylonia and their Near Eastern neighbors as early as the Bronze Age, 3200-1200 BC. The private sector adopted these techniques, starting with members of the palace bureaucracy acting on their own account. Privatization of credit and other basic infrastructure – and governorship of provinces under the Romans – created social imbalance as creditor oligarchies gained power and disabled royal checks and balances.[3]

    Near Eastern rulers proclaimed Clean Slates to annul the overgrowth of debts that polarized society between creditors and debtors. These royal debt cancellations contained three basic dimensions: a wipeout of personal and consumer debts (but not commercial business debts); liberation of individuals pledged as bondservants to creditors; and a return of land and crop rights to the debtors, to free the land from creditor claims on its usufruct.[4]

    Every successful economy in history has been a mixed public/private symbiosis. America's first professor of economics at the nation's first business school – Simon Patten at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business – explained that public infrastructure and enterprise is a "fourth" factor of production. It differs from labor, capital and land in that its aim is not to obtain income. Labor earns wages, capital earns profits and land receives rent, but the aim of public enterprise is to minimize the economy's cost structure – the price of living and doing business. Public enterprise operates on a break-even level to provide essential services at cost (in the case of the post office), at subsidized rates (health care, research and development patents, and phone and broadcasting systems) or even freely (roads, public education, police and fire departments). Likewise, a classical tax system is levied on the land's site rent so as to avoid avoiding taxes that raise the price of labor and capital, while preventing this rent from being capitalized into bank mortgages that raise the price of housing and commercial real estate.

    Privatization raises the price of doing business, by charging fees to cover the payout of profits and dividends, interest and other financial fees, soaring management salaries and bonuses, and stock options. The aim of privatizers is to make gains by rent extraction, turning the economy into a conglomeration of tollbooths charging access fees. Outsiders borrow money from banks to buy the privatized infrastructure and raise access fees all the more – gaining support from the financial lobby by becoming one of the largest markets, inasmuch as public infrastructure is the largest capital investment in most economies and hence the largest bank market.

    Appropriators of natural monopolies and other public enterprises translate their economic gains into political influence to free themselves from taxes and disable price regulation and anti-monopoly laws. Their idea of a "free market" is to shift the tax burden onto labor, off themselves and their special privileges – and off the interest charges paid to banks for the purchase of such privileges. The aim is to leave the maximum amount of revenue "free" to be paid to high finance.

    History's greatest fortunes have been carved out of the public domain, often by military conquest and more peacefully by political insider dealing. What distinguishes recent privatization is the role played by the financial sector, acting internationally. Revenue from privatized property rights is capitalized into financial securities and bank loans, on a scale large enough to drive a global stock market boom highlighted by post-Soviet stock markets and real estate. The tragedy of our time is that this financing and debt leveraging has been managed in a predatory and extractive way – by loading existing assets down with debt and financial claims without creating new means of production, export earnings or other means to pay.

    From the 1950s through the 1970s the World Bank headed financial consortia lending to Third World governments to build roads and ports, power plants and other infrastructure – mainly the "external" costs of foreign-owned raw materials production. The financial sector and its clients got rich on extending credit for these projects. Then, in the 1980s, they made yet bigger fortunes selling off this public capital. From Britain to Latin America, public infrastructure and government enterprises were the largest asset category apart from real estate. Global bankers and financial institutions made money twice, first by funding this investment and then transferring it into public hands on credit, mainly by leveraged buyouts and the subsequent flurry of mergers and acquisitions.

    For many decades privatization was imposed mainly on debt-strapped Third World economies forced to relinquish their policy-making power to the IMF and World Bank. But the Baltics had no debt at all when they emerged from the Soviet Union. All the post-Soviet economies were debt free – and had no property claims. Yet instead of becoming the most competitive economies in the world, they succumbed voluntarily to Western European bankers loading their economies down with debt, and to investment advisors telling them to create and give away property rights to insiders. The latter then were advised as to how to sell large chunks to Western money managers, turning the subject post-Soviet economies into the world's leading stock market vehicles. Instead of advising these economies to build themselves up the way that North America and Western Europe had done, by public investment in infrastructure to minimize the cost of living and doing business, the Washington Consensus dictated the creation and sell-off of rent extraction privileges.

    This was by applied with almost religious fervor – or more accurately, a superstitious enthusiasm best characterized as neoliberal cultism. Russia's central bank even paid 100% interest for U.S. dollar loans to needlessly back its own domestic currency issue – only to have this borrowing siphoned off and dissipated subsidizing capital flight to the West, in a flood estimated at $25 billion annually for over a decade! The myth that domestic currency had to be backed by foreign exchange – as under the old gold standard – was bought as if it were a religious teaching from on high, not a ploy to stymie and stifle Russian development.

    Latvia's experiment in free-trade dependency

    All the leading industrial and financial economies, from Britain in the 17th century to the United States after 1860 (when its Civil War freed the country from Southern anti-industrial trade policy), Germany and France, Japan and modern China have built up their industry and agriculture – and hence their foreign trade, which in turn has made them financial powerhouses – by means of protective tariffs, subsidies and public infrastructure.

    Agricultural protectionism has been particularly successful in the United States (based on the Agricultural Adjustment Acts of 1933 and 1938, supported by import quotas and systemic opposition to Third World food independence) and the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Price supports for crops have enabled farmers to invest in capital and increase farm productivity as sustained as that in manufacturing. This protectionist policy has made crop exports the mainstay of the U.S. trade balance, while European protectionism likewise has produced rising farm surpluses.

    Rolling back tariffs and other taxes makes countries less competitive by slowing capital investment, blocking their rise in living standards and productivity. Their lead in protectionist policy has enabled the most developed nations to benefit from capital flight and emigration from countries that have failed to achieve a mixed economy. The resulting fiscal deficits have forced governments into debt, increasingly to foreigners. Their loss of autonomy has enabled the industrial, agricultural and creditor bloc to operate via the IMF and EU and demand austerity that makes indebted "free market" economies even less competitive, locking them into an economic and even demographic death spiral of debt and poverty.

    This is the prospect facing Latvia today. It has bought into an anti-government faith that specializing in banking and transport services – while becoming more industrially, agriculturally and financially dependent on foreign suppliers – is the way to make it richer most rapidly. The reality is that by increasing dependency on (and payments to) foreign bankers and international financial institutions, this policy leaves less opportunity for most Latvians to make a living.

    Policy conclusion

    Fifty years ago Stalin dispersed some 50,000 members of Latvia's propertied middle class by force, seizing their property and arresting many, exiling some to Siberia and driving others to emigrate to save their lives. Latvians understandably recoil from this destructive behavior and go to the opposite extreme, only to discover that this produces a similar effect. Latvia and the other Baltic nations have been caught in the backwash of the Cold War. "Market forces" have replaced military force, but the effect is equally harsh: to dismantle post-Soviet industry and drive labor – especially skilled labor – and capital out of these countries.

    The U.S. logic was that any industrial capability was potentially military in character. It followed that manufacturing and high technology should be dismantled throughout the former Soviet Union. Russia's economy was rolled back to make it more of a Third World country – what the Americans long called "a hewer of wood and drawer of water" in Biblical language. In Russia's case this meant living off oil and gas, along with nickel, aluminum, platinum and other metals. But the Baltic States do not enjoy this fallback position.

    Western self-interest was predatory in promoting the economic regime that led to today's financial disaster. The West has subdued the post-Soviet population and appropriated the economic surplus from the property it had built up, along almost identical lines that had occurred in Latin America in the 16th and 17th centuries, and Africa in the 19th century, replete with client chieftains, tax "freedom" for the predators and debt peonage for the local labor force.

    Latvia's radical neoliberal experiment is testing the degree to which this kind of destruction of labor, public enterprise and government policy can be wielded by non-military means. The question is, how long will Latvia succumb to the Stockholm syndrome, identifying with the parties that have captured its economy and self-imposed anti-labor, anti-industrial and anti-agricultural policies democratically. The effect is to reduce the population to a state of debt peonage to foreigners, and indeed to Latvia's old feudal master, Sweden.

    What keeps Latvians in this subservient position is the travesty they have been taught regarding the tax policy, wage and labor policy and trade policy that has guided the most successful nations. Europe and America have told Latvia, "Do what we say, not what we do."

    Latvia could have become a low-cost producer by transferring housing and office sites freely to their occupants and users at the time of independence or soon thereafter. It could have provided public infrastructure at cost. Its manufacturing and other enterprise was free of debt, and could have used productive credit to expand operations. The post-Soviet economies had no debt at all when they obtained their political independence from Russia in 1991 –no property claims for rent or interest. Yet over the past decade they have become the world's most debt-ridden countries. Having borrowed against real estate, public enterprises, natural monopolies and mineral deposits, they now have to beg from the IMF and EU for loans to stabilize their teetering exchange rates.

    This borrowing is mainly to serve foreign bankers, not Latvians, just as Latvia's tax system is designed to serve these bankers. The effect of Latvia's bank borrowing has been to enable – indeed, oblige – buyers to bid up prices for housing and other assets. Latvia's perverse tax system, insider property dealings, failure to tax economic rent, and relinquishing credit creation to foreign institutions have made it a high-cost economy. Its real estate bubble, applauded for turning it into a "Baltic Tiger," was achieved by taking on foreign-currency debt for loans to bid up the prices that homebuyers and businesses have to pay for the space they need to live in and conduct business. The World Bank endorsed the Baltic Miracle as insiders and other appropriators got rich by selling off the assets inherited from Soviet times.

    The flat tax, dismantling of state support for industrial and agricultural employment, withdrawal of public subsidies for production that every European Union nation enjoys under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and centuries of industrial protectionism, the dismantling of public budgets to serve a new rentier class such as the Physiocrats, Adam Smith and other classical liberals sought to free industrial capitalism from – all this was designed to dismantle Russian industry and thereby end its potential Cold War threat to NATO.

    Lacking a raw-materials base to support them even at Latin American standards, Latvia needs to end the neoliberal experiment and adopt the policies that made Western Europe and America rich. Fortunately, this can be done with the stroke of a pen. Just as the neoliberal dismemberment of Latvia was bloodless, so the recovery of markets does not require a revolution. It can be done by rewriting the nation's tax law and financial law along more progressive lines.

    To make this start, Latvia needs to free itself from the anti-industrial, anti-labor tax system that neoliberal managers have imposed, and from the foreign-currency debt burden with which foreign banks have loaded the country down. The problem is that income that is not taxed will end up being pledged for debt – and paid out as interest charges. Contrary to what bank lobbyists and neoliberal propagandists argue, land taxes reduce the price of real estate. It is taxes on labor and capital that add to the cost of living and doing business.

    The post-classical road to neofeudalism and debt peonage

    Designed to serve the creditor nations, inter-governmental loans tend to be injurious to the countries. These sacrifice policy-making autonomy to the International Monetary Fund and, in Latvia's case, to the European Union bureaucracy. The EU and IMF view debtor countries as vehicles to extend credit to their own banks and exporters. Over the past two years they have "helped" the post-Soviet countries maintain their exchange rates by sacrificing their domestic economies in order to sustain the payment of mortgages to European banks that otherwise would have to take heavy losses on their loans to real estate debtors unable to pay the higher domestic-currency carrying charge that would result from their local revenue falling against the euro.

    The EU has made it clear that its credit is not to finance domestic investment or spending, but just the opposite. It requires debtor governments to impose austerity and even run budget surpluses to squeeze out foreign exchange by limiting the population's ability to afford imports and presumably "free" output for export. (This never works.) This policy of economic shrinkage is just the opposite of Keynesian counter-cyclical spending such as Mr. Obama's Stimulus Plan to help pull the United States out of its own downturn. Austerity plans are only for export to economic dependencies – and make them even more dependent on the financial core.[5]

    Latvia's GDP fell by 18 percent in 2009, and is forecast to shrink altogether by nearly 30 percent from the crisis' onset in autumn 2008 until the end. More people already are out of work (the yearend 2009 unemployment rate is reported to be 16.8 percent), so default rates are rising. Housing and other real estate prices have plunged by about 50 to 70 percent in most markets, and new construction has all but stopped.

    In the public sector where shrinkage is most drastic, Latvia had over 150 hospitals and clinics when the Soviet period ended in 1991. It now has only around 40, and the IMF and World Bank demand that it close down half of them. Many needed services were closed, including trauma centers and ambulance services. Public health standards have worsened and life spans shortened by several years for men, as has been the case in Russia. There has been an exodus of doctors and health specialists, especially to the richer neighboring Scandinavian countries – part of a serious emigration of highly skilled and unskilled workers alike. According to a recent poll, about a quarter of the male population aged between 20 and 35 years old plans to emigrate during the next five years. And as for the training of new professionals, formerly free universities are now charging tuition, so money rather than talent now obtains higher education. This is the result of financialization as Latvia shrinks its economy to pay foreign creditors.

    One motive for emigration is to avoid a lifetime of debt peonage. Homeowners find themselves frozen into their homes almost as serfs as property prices plunge below the amount of their mortgage debt. They cannot move out, because they would have to pay banks the balance due on their negative equity. They, not the banks, must absorb the loss on the bad loan. Unable to find a buyer at a price that covers their mortgage, debtors remain personally liable to save the Swedish bankers from taking a loss, by making up the difference out of their own future earnings. And the situation is getting worse as rents fall in the shrinking economy. There is no way to find renters to cover the mortgage debt. Many debtors are deciding that it is easier to leave the country. This is what many parents are urging their children to do today.

    So the economy seems to be in a death spiral – not only economic death but a demographic crisis as well. Matters threaten to worsen if Latvia's trade deficit forces the currency to be devalued. Carrying charges on the 87 percent of Latvian mortgages denominated in foreign currency would soar. But the only way to stave off devaluation is to keep on borrowing from the EU and IMF. And their financial dictate calls for rolling back wages and living standards, taxing labor all the more and slashing public spending and investment even further! Instead of coming up with a plan to extricate the economy from this debt peonage, Latvia's neoliberal government can only repeat its faith in "restoring equilibrium" by tightening the fiscal and financial screws.

    An economic program to renew Latvian development

    Banks must share responsibility for keeping loans within the debtor's ability to pay. This basic rule has been violated throughout the world in recent years. This has been largely a result of the banks' greed in making loans more than limited to 70 percent of the property's value, as was long the rule in the United States. In view of the fact that Latvia's currency is under pressure to be devalued – with 87 percent of mortgage debts being denominated in foreign currency – banks should only able to take the house itself when they foreclose. This is the collateral that was supposed to back the loan, and it is what makes mortgage loans different from personal loans. Personal liability should not be permitted for mortgage debtors. There is no better way to prevent banks from making irresponsible loans, and then trying to make the debtor's pay.

    Second, all loans and obligations should be re-denominated in domestic currency. This is similar to what U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt did in the in 1932 when he overruled the gold clause in most loan contracts. (The clause stated that if the price of gold changed, the debt had to paid in gold equivalence.) This was intended to prevent creditors from obtaining a windfall gain and indeed, a gain beyond the ability of debtors to pay and hence at the expense of economic recovery. The economy comes first, not the bankers. This is especially important in today's world, where there is no longer a constraint on the banking system's ability to monetize credit.

    A third plank of the program to renew Latvia is designed to cope with the problem of abandoned housing, squatters and crime that has plagued foreclosures in the United States. Upon insolvency or foreclosure of residential and commercial property, the foreclosing bank must put it up for auction within one month, to be sold at a market price. The current occupant (either the indebted owner or renter) will have the right to match the bid. Our plan is for the government to set up a bank to lend the occupant funds to buy the property, converting its current rental value into mortgage debt service. At current prices, the new mortgage may be about 30 percent of the existing debt – and it will be denominated in domestic currency. The oligarchs seem happy with this, because loans on the large public utilities and other assets they have taken over and borrowed against also will be redenominated in domestic currency.

    In October 2009, Latvia's Prime Minister endorsed the first plank of this program, saying that there should be no more personal liability for mortgage debt. The Swedish finance minister became furious and said that this would break all tradition. The Harmony Centre ("Concord") Party replied that the tradition to which Sweden seemed to be referring was feudalism, and reminded Sweden that Latvia threw off the Swedish yoke back in the 17th century – and threw out the German land barons in 1905.

    There is a case of cognitive dissonance when it comes to structural financial and fiscal reform. Most people are not aware that a workable alternative exists, one that was viewed for a century as being the free market alternative – a market free of unearned income and "empty" pricing. Students no longer are taught that economic thinkers have spent the last seven centuries discussing better modes of taxation, banking and pricing, based on the ability to distinguish between economically necessary costs and income, and unnecessary costs.

    The classical reformers sought to complete what they viewed as the economic program of industrial capitalism: to throw off the remaining legacy of feudalism, above all the landlord aristocracy that used to be called the idle rich, and also predatory bankers – a cosmopolitan interest typically working with absentee owners, monopolists and other rent-extracting parties. Landowners, privatizers and monopolists are now backed by their international bankers, joining forces to become a new aggressive power as financial speculators. Their activities are not necessary for the industrial economy to operate, but are a rentier overhead that slows it down.

    The most important plank of our program concerns the tax system. Like most other post-Soviet economies that have been neoliberalized, Latvia has a dysfunctional flat tax on employment – a total tax burden (labor, employer, and social tax) of over 50%. This is the major factor pricing Latvian labor out of global markets. We urge that the tax be shifted off labor and its employers onto where the classical economists urged it to be placed: on the land and natural resources, presently taxed at less than 1% of their value.

    This would "reform the reformers." We expect that the EU and its commercial bankers will fight against this tax shift, fearing that it might spread to other countries. That ultimately is the economic and financial war in which Latvia is caught up as prime victim. Fiscal reform must be a key element in financial reform, because the two prongs of reform are symbiotic. Taxing the land will save its rental value from being capitalized into bank loans. Our aim is to limit bank credit to the financing of creating new means of production, not merely to bolster the price of unproductive, extractive privileges and property claims.

    Our recommendations are those of centuries of classical liberal economics, from the French Physiocrats through Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill to America's Progressive Era reformers. In rejecting their classical economic and fiscal logic, Latvia's neoliberal planners are much like fundamentalist believers in Genesis were offended when Thomas Huxley defended the theory of evolution. "Respectable churchgoers were appalled. 'Let us hope it is not true,' cried one horrified lady upon hearing that humans were descended from apes, 'but if it is, let us pray that it will not become generally known.'"[6]

    This is the attitude taken today by Latvia's neoliberal taliban. They would like to hope that the ideas of the men they cite as their intellectual patron saints – Adam Smith, et al. – did not really say what they did. But facts are facts. The dysfunctional tax system, financial system and dismantling of public enterprise and a public banking option run counter to the idea of free markets held for centuries by the classical liberals. Their idea of a free market was a market free of unearned income, free of land rent and predatory financial charges. Latvia's neoliberal rulers have been busy loading down the economy with these charges during their entire time of office. The result has been an economic and demographic death spiral for Latvia.

    Latvia's financial and economic problems are not natural, nor are they inevitable. Latvia can still become a highly competitive industrial and agricultural producer with a high standard of living. All it needs to do is end the radical neoliberal experiment – an experiment which, after all, was designed to destroy Russian Soviet military power, sweeping up Latvia's unfortunate economy in the backwash.


    [1] E. Peshine Smith, "The Law of Progress in the Relations of Capital and Labor," Hunt's Merchants' Magazine, XXVI (1852), p. 42.

    [2] U.S. Labor Secretary Jacob Schoenhof, Wages and Trade in Manufacturing Industries in America and in Europe (New York, 1884), p. 19. I discuss both the above authors in America's Protectionist Takeoff, 1815-1914: The Neglected American School of Political Economy (ISLET, 2010).

    [3] Michael Hudson, "Entrepreneurs: From the Near Eastern Takeoff to the Roman Collapse," in David S. Landes, Joel Mokyr, and William J. Baumol, eds., The Invention of Enterprise: Entrepreneurship from Ancient Mesopotamia to Modern Times (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010):8-39.

    [4] Readers of the Bible will recognize this as the essence of the Jubilee Year of Leviticus 25, which Jewish religion took out of the hands of rulers and placed at the center of their religion as a covenant under Mosaic law. And when Jesus gave his first sermon in the synagogue, Luke 4 describes him as unrolling the scroll of Isaiah and saying that he had come to proclaim "the Year of our Lord," that is, the Jubilee Year, deror. This Hebrew word that the prophets and Leviticus used was cognate to Babylonian andurarum. I describe the details in "Reconstructing the Origins of Interest-Bearing Debt and the Logic of Clean Slates," in Debt and Economic Renewal in the Ancient Near East (ed. Michael Hudson and Marc Van De Mieroop, CDL Press, Bethesda, 2002):7-58.

    [5] I provide a history of theorizing along these lines – and of alternatives – in Trade, Development and Foreign Debt (1992; new ed. ISLET 2009).

    [6] Cited in Brian Fagan, Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans (2010, Bloomsbury Press), p. 44.
    Michael Hudson is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Michael Hudson

    [Apr 16, 2011] The American Enterprise Institute – Clueless on Russia, Brilliant at Projection

    April 16, 2011 The Kremlin Stooge


    "It occurs to me that you believe everything LR believes, but are in favour of it. Putin has always been a liberal. Disappointing, I know." Hmmm….. 1.) Are you replying to me? 2.)If the answer to # 1.) is "yes", what is LR, La Russophobe or La Russophile? 3.) If the answer to # 2.) is "La Russophile" – yes, I am 'guilty' as charged. If the answer is 'La Russophobe' – I am a little bit curious why you think so because I know I am a Russophile. Putin has some 'liberal' leanings in him – like I've said, I see him as a complex person with civiliki/liberal leanings AND siloviki/conservative leanings.

    Which is a rather good trait/balance in a political leader. I think extremism does not bode well for any country. I see Russian ultranationalists(racial supremacists) and Russian liberals as two sides of the same coin. The former wants an 'ethnically pure' Russia comprised only of Russians which is quite impossible.

    The latter disparages Russia and want to transform Russia into just like America AT ALL COSTS….which is equally mad. Russian liberals have this dark view of their own country and people and have really nothing positive to say about Russia, her inhabitants or politics. A kind of pathological self-hatred. If Washington says Caucasus republics should become independent states…they say 'amen' to that. If Washington says, all natural resources of Russia should be 'up for grabs' in a Western-dominated 'free market'….they say 'hosanna'! yada yada yada. This kind of bending down to the West for molestation and further masochistic gratification and mortification really irritates me (and I am not even Russian)!

    The positive side of Russian liberals (which is a tendency to be more business-savvy; reforms so that enterprises become more efficient etc.) are unfortunately subsumed by this Washington-worshipping ways. Which also accounts for their failure to capture the heart of majority of Russians. If they had reoriented their love away from America to Russia and become more patriotic to their own nation and people, then perhaps they stand a chance to do something good to the Russian people. Because they cannot get over their obsession with the West, they will continue to be has-beens who need to occasional cajole the likes of Washington Post et al to get attention and money flowing…



    Series: Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology and History Vol. 9, No1, 2010, pp. 1 - 13


    UDC 316.62(497.16)

    Ljubiša Mitrović

    University of Niš, Faculty of Philosophy, SerbiaE-mail: [email protected]

    Abstract. The paper analyses the changes in the class structure of the post-socialist societies under the influence of the neoliberal development strategy and the restoration of peripheral capitalism. It especially focuses on the changes that have taken place in the very composition of the ruling neobourgeois class, of its fractions and elites. In particular, it analyses the social profile of the comprador bourgeoisie and its political elites, as well as the detrimental effect they have on the future and the development of the Balkan societies. Through uncritical acceptance of the neoliberal strategy of dependent modernization and obedience to their Western mentors, the satellite pseudo-elites have contributed more to the processes of destruction than those of creation. They have brought about the peripherization of economy, society and culture and have pushed Serbia and the Balkans into the zone of peripheral capitalism. The paper explores the social position and the role of the given groups in the social structure, in the system of the division of social power and in the current social changes in Serbia and the Balkans. It also compares the changes in the class structure that have occurred in the Balkan societies to those that have taken place in Latin America and Asia, pointing thereby to the relevant similarities and differences. The common denominator turns out to be that all of those societies in the various parts of the world are dependent societies of peripheral capitalism in the global system. They are ruled by the comprador bourgeoisie and satellite lumpen-elite. They are heavily segregated and exploited societies, they are deeply divided, and full of risk and conflict. The paper concludes with a paraphrase of a thought of Rene Dimon (expressed in his Neocolonial Rule in India): without a change in the development strategy and the social structure, that would strip the comprador bourgeoisie and all the corrupted elites in both the cities and in the rural areas of their power, Serbia will never be able to make any progress!

    Key words: peripheral capitalism, dependent modernization, comprador bourgeoisie,pseudo-elite, lumpen-politics.

    Received October 06, 20102 LJ. MITROVIĆ

    European lumpen-bourgeoisie has created ''national'' lumpen states that have never been truly independent but have simply been an important instrument of the lumpen bourgeois politics of lumpen development. Bourgeoisie as a whole cannot possibly take the direction of true progress because doing such a thing would endanger its own interests

    (Andre Gunder Frank)

    The corruption of the elites is primerily the corruption of us all.

    (Jean Baudrillard)


    Ever since ancient times, the history of social and political doctrines has offered an abundance of examples of various authors trying to approach the phenomenon of the emergence of elites and their role in social life and development. In various ways, this problem was initially approached by Plato and Aristotle, the two giants of ancient philosophy, and then by Niccolň Machiavelli, Karl Marx, May Weber and others. The basic elements for the foundation of the sociology of elites are to be found in the works of V. Pareto and R. Michels, as well as in those of T. Veblen, J. Barham, J. Schumpeter,K. Manheim, R. Aron, R. Mills and T. Bottomore. Contemporary sociology has seen an increase in the number of authors dealing with the phenomenon, and in Serbia this issuehas been explored by: M. Pe čujli ć, M. Popovi ć, Z. Golubovi ć, S. Bol či ć, V. Mili ć, M. Lazi ć,S. Antoni ć and S. Miladinovi ć.In keeping with the tendency in contemporary science to approach phenomena in a multidisciplinary way, elitology today is developing precisely as such a science, the one that tends to rely on and integrate the findings of a number of social sciences and branches of the humanities (among them being philosophy, anthropology, sociology, psychology, elitopedagogy, politicology and management), and the one that analyses the sources and the ways of establishment of social elites, and their role in social changes.

    Elites are necessary in every nation, every class and every professional group in their struggle on the national and the global market, so that those groups could articulate and protect their interests and secure their development. There are futurologists claiming that the 21st century will see a rise of plutocracy and meritocracy, and that consequently the struggle for the establishment of new elites fighting for leadership in the contemporary world will also rise in importance. Z. Brzezinski as well as some other geopolitical analysts have written about geostrategic elites, as global players on the ''great chess board'', while J. Attali, writes, among other things, about managers in the era of globalization, calling them a unique

    hyperclass, elite professionals in the sphere of (production, sales, marketing) management as well as in the management of social changes at the level of corporations and in the contemporary global economy. Corporation owners struggle to win such managers over to their side because it is creative competition, and the creative destruction of these new revolutionaries that the survival and success of those companies on the global market, characterized by ruthless competition, social Darwinist struggle among global gladiators and market bandits in the era of the rise of the ''capitalism of disaster'' depends on. In addition, the issue that is currently becoming ever more important is that of creation of new strategic elites in the post socialist societies in transition, as key agents of democratic reforms, modernization and development. In that sense, the given paper addresses the problem of elites in the dependent societies of the capitalism of the periphery in the Balkans, with the focus being on the role of the comprador bourgeoisie marionette pseudoelites.

    When Milovan Đilas wrote his "New Class'', little did he think that he would be among the first ones to discover and define the phenomenon of the red nomenclature bourgeoisie as a new political class. He was the first one after Max Weber to introduce the given term into sociological literature and to analyze the role of this class in the production of social relations and the bureaucratization of the emerging society of monoparty socialism. Naturally, in doing this Đilas was not led by academic reasons but by an urge to rethink the revolution as a revolutionary himself. Hence his articles, which he first published in Borba, then in the journal entitled New Thought, and eventually in a book, address the phenomenology and anatomy of the morals of the new class. The reaction of the bourgeois caste was rigid and administrative. The new political inquisition put Đilas in jail on account of his ideas. All of this testifies to the fact that those in power never want the roots and sources of their power to be known. This has been the case since time immemorial despite all the talk about ''an opensociety'', democracy and transparency. And no sociological analysis would be sociological one in the scientific sense of the word if it did not reach the roots of any given social phenomenon. And it is exactly social power, the ways of its construction and the directions of its distribution that make the key point of sociological analysis related to the changes in the social class structure, the forms of recruiting and of the functioning of elites.

    The emerging capitalist society in Serbia and in the Balkans is today in need of its social analysts. It is time the rosy view of the contemporary society and of its elite were dropped. There are too many ideologized myths currently in existence regarding the modernization of the capitalism emerging here, the democratic rule and the elites. It is time scientific analysis demystified the views societies have of themselves, the nature of social processes and the character of the currently emerging social relations. Marx justifiably warned researchers that an epoch could not be understood historically from the perspective of what ideological opinion the agents of social change have about themselves, but only from the perspective of the contradictions occurring in the sphere pertaining to the ways of production of social life and the distribution of social power. This is still valid today despite the epochal character of the information revolution, when the forces of the ''third wave'' have brought about synergy of social and symbolic power in the contemporary world. The object of our analysis in the given paper is the research of the mechanisms pertaining to the reproduction of the social power of the neobourgeois as a new social class in the conditions of the emergence of peripheral capitalism in our country; in that sense, the paper will especially focus on the position and the role of the comprador bourgeoisie and the pseudoelites of the lumpen politocracy, as well as on the similarities and differences between Balkan and Latin American state of affairs regarding the given problems, the characteristics of the classes and of satellite elites, and on their role in social changes.


    Social phenomena are not natural processes. They are not gifts of God or of leaders. Sociology has long ago demystified the laws that govern the ways social life is produced, focusing thereby on the ways of reproduction of capital relations, social power, development strategies and their implications for social inequalities among social groups .If the influence of the geostrategic factor of the great powers is abstracted away, the implosion of socialism was an expression of the crisis of reproduction of the statists way of production and of the monoparty system of rule. The creeping bureaucratic counter-revolution paved the way for nationalism, disintegration, the fall of socialism and the restoration of capitalism.

    Following the neoliberal ideology and concept of development (characterized by market fundamentalism, monetarist economic policy, privatization, liberalization, deregulation, Washington Consensus), the forces of the global capitalism, whose agents are the leading countries of the world centre and the USA, TNCs and the financial bank bourgeoisie, have imposed the neoliberal ideology of dependent modernization on the countries of the semi-periphery and the periphery. The newly established (political, economic, cultural) elites in the post socialist societies in most post socialist states have mostly accepted this strategy. It has been offered in the form of a programme of radical economic reforms by the IMF and the World Bank, as instruments of the TNC and the USA. The experts within these institutions, starting with Geoffrey Sax and up to John Perkins and other ''paid murderers'', the representatives of the god Mammon and of the Money-Driven International, have spread the spirit of the capitalism of disaster (N. Klein) in the post socialist states. In that sense, post October 5 Serbia has also found itself on the receiving end of such neoliberal radicalism (i.e.. market banditism). Plagued by a decade long sanctions and wounded by the NATO war intervention, impoverished and confused, Serbia, still in agony over October 5 events and antirevolutionary changes, easily fell prey to the ''big brother'' and his/its experts of Machiavellian social engineering. The new so called democratic elite, which was recruited from various social layers, but that was mostly made up of urban middle class people considered renegades in the former socialist societies, wholeheartedly and uncritically accepted what their Western mentors had to tell them and started creating the political strategy of satellite dependent modernization based on the neoliberal programme that has paved the way for a radical disintegration of the real economy (industry, the working class...), radical privatization of companies, introduction of foreign banks and foreign media. This transitional shock has created profound changes in the economy and social anomia. There followed mass unemployment, enormous exploitation, social inequalities, the rise in social contradictions. All of the given processes led from a blocked to a disintegrated society, from real economy to ''bandit economy'', to lumpenpolitics and lumpen development. In short, Serbia and the Balkans have faced the renewal of the phenomenon of dependent so cities of peripheral capitalism of the Latin American type, so aptly and brilliantly written about by Andre Gunder Frank.1

    Dependent modernization is an expression of the hierarchical relations to be found in the reproduction of capital power between the countries of the world centre, on the one hand, and the countries of the world periphery or satellite countries, on the other hand. Such a type of neoliberal dependent modernization creates a specific type of capitalist society, namely bandit economy, lumpenpolitics and dependent culture. It also serves as the basis for the creation of a specific structure of social classes, layers and elites, that are instrumentalized by the global domination of capital, that are its servants and representatives of their power at the national and the local levels. Dependent modernization has brought about peripherization and rebalkanization of the Balkans, that Eric Hobsbowm wrote about saying that ''future will be most difficult in South-Eastern Europe, that is relatively, and sometimes absolutely, underdeveloped when compared to the other parts of the continent'' ( NIN, 15 July, 2010, p. 56). Such a position of the Balkans has been described Ivan Berenda as the Balkans running in circles - from the periphery in the Soviet Empire to a new periphery in the EU.4.


    In my books[2], I have already written about the emergence of the degenerative social structure and the class structure of the dependent societies of peripheral capitalism. In connection with that, I would like to remind the reader of the classification I offered of the possible fractions of the emergent new bourgeoisie, its sources of power and its social role. In that sense, in the book entitled Contemporary Society [ Savremeno društvo, 1996], I wrote that the new bourgeoisie consists, among other things, of three fractions: a) the entrepreneurial one; b) the nomenclature one; c) lumpenbourgeoisie. Apart from the entrepreneurial bourgeoisie, which is a driving force of development, the other two are non-productive, consumerist, and are often criminal and destructive in nature.

    Comprador bourgeoisie is the upper layer of the bourgeois class. It is recruited from all the three fractions. It is a tycoon group ruthlessly led by its interests. It posits its own interests over general social ones. It is not national in character and is socially irresponsible. It is a blind servant of foreign capital, ruthless in the exploitation of the domestic workforce and dictatorial in relation to its fellow countrymen. Its homeland is where its interests are. It is the agent of the megacapital in the function of global economy. It is a "Trojan horse" of the foreign TNCs in Serbia and the region. Its god is the god Mammon, the capital. Its aim is to amass capital, and it puts profit above individuals. It is a predatory class of the nouveau riche and often bon vivant and parasitic upstarts. It is a peculiar jet-set of bandit economy. It may contain actually good businessmen that are trying to be successful not only nationally but also globally.

    1 See Lumpenburžoazija i lumpenrazvoj [Lumpenbourgeoisie and Lumpendevelopment], A.G. Frank, CID,Podgorica, 2002.2 See Lj. Mitrovi ć, Savremeno društvo [Contemporary Society] (1996); Put u zavisnio društvo [Road to Dependent Society] (2004); Tranzicija u periferni kapitalizam [ Transition into Peripheral Capitalism] (2009).6 LJ. MITROVI Ć

    The given class usually invests ''its'' capital into non-productive but profitable sectors –trade, banking and services. Driven by the logic of profit, it moves its capital from one field to another. Due to its massive exploitation of the workforce, it creates/enlarges its fortune. It pays no attention to the plight of the working class and the people. As opposed to entrepreneurial bourgeoisie, as a driving force of development, comprador bourgeoisie is only profit-driven. Both are market-oriented, but while the former is productive, the latter is speculative. Both cooperate with international bourgeoisie and the TNC. Lumpenbourgeoisieis the main agent in the world of bandit economy. It is a part of the ''underground'' economy and recruits its members from war profiteers and the social lowest of the low. It live on the ''holes in the law'' and the social anomia that emerged on the ruins of socialism. One may ask which social groups are the elite parts of the various layers of the new bourgeoisie in contemporary post social societies and what their profile and their social roles are. A possible sketch of the composition of the elite groups in contemporary post social societies may look as follows: a) economy elite (managers, meritocracy and technocracy); b) political elite (politocracy, bureaucracy and ideocracy); c) cultural elite (scientific elite, artistic elite, scientocracy, ...) The shapes of the emerging social class of the semi-civil society in Serbia and in the Balkans are becoming ever clearer. On the basis of the capitalist ways of production, new elites emerge, ranging from lumpenelite, pseudoelite and comprador elite. If we start from a hybrid Marx's and Dahrendorf's model of the emergence of social groups, where those groups vary from a pseudog roup (''class in itself'') to a self-conscious group (''class for itself''), and apply it to postsocialist societies, we could distinguish severeal types of elites. Social classes and layers in postsocialsim can have: no developed elite, semidevelopedelite, pseudoelite – lumpenelite, and developed elite. The given classification of elites (organized on the basis of how much their respective consciousness of their identity has formed) can be compared to the structure of socialclasses/layers: production class, middle class, capitalist class, ie. the lower, the middle and theupper class. According to how much they are ideologically formed, we can distinguish among:a) undeveloped elites;b) semi-developed elites;c) developed elites.We should also try and find answers to the following questions: What kind of elite suits undeveloped and degenerate social and class structure of peripheral capitalism? What is the link between bandit economy and satellite political elite? To be more precise: What is the link among bandit economy, comprador bourgeoisie, satellite political elite and lumpenintelligence, between lumpenbourgeoisie and lumpen development (A. G. Franak), among the strategy of dependent modernization, lumpenpolitics and lumpen development, between the strategy of dependent modernization and the culture of dependence?

    Branko Dragaš, an economist, in his article entitled The Rabble [ Ološ], published last summer in an issue of Tabloid, establishes links among all the given elite fractions in Serbia, showing, in the deterministic conglomerate of factors, their complementarity in the reproduction of the ways of life and the pathology of dependent societies of the world periphery, as represented by Serbia and the Balkans at the beginning of the third millenium.

    The New Bourgeoisie and its Pseudo-Elite in the Societies of Peripheral Capitalism 7



    Postsocialist Serbia is characterized by destroyed society, i.e. lumpenpolitics and lumpendevelopment. It has found itself in the jaws of the neoliberal strategy of dependent modernization that produces subdevelopment, peripherization of economy, society and culture. The degenerate social structure then sees the emergence of new aspects of neobourgeoisie as well as the emergence of the new fractions of its elites (the entrepreneurial fraction, the nomenclature fraction and the lumpenbourgeiosie). The focus of our analysis is comprador bourgeoisie and the fraction of pseudo-lumpenelites, which, as agents of social change, produce underdevelopment and the culture of dependence, i.e. lumpenpolitics and lumpendevelopment. A critical analysis of the social role of this bourgeoisie can show all the detrimental effects of the strategy of dependent modernization, of the actions of comprador bourgeoisie and the satellite political elites on the development on the contemporary society of Serbia. As industrialization has destroyed the rural areas and their inhabitants, so the transition of the given type is currently destroying cities, the working and the middle class. Serbia and the Balkans are currently experiencing production of dependent societies which have entered the zone of neocolonial debtor slavery.

    Comprador bourgeoisie is the main force behind subdevelopment and subservience to the world of the supercapital. It is a domestic offspring of the profit-driven International in the countries of peripheral capitalism. It develops ''bandit economy'' and invests its capital in the peripheral sectors of trade, and, if necessary, in the narcomarket, too. As far as its social profile is concerned, it is an amalgam and recruits its members from the various groups involved in the neobourgeois ways of production, from the nomenclature bourgeoisie, lumpenbourgeoisie and partly from the entrepreneurial bourgeoisie. It possesses no developed national consciousness and blindly follows its interests at all costs. It creates clones with a European and transatlantic trademark, it produces people who have sold their souls to capital, and who are ready to act against national interests in order to increase their wealth. It creates betrayers with the European and the transatlantic trademark. Comprador bourgeoisie is neither an agent of progressive ways of production nor does it have developed social consciousness so as for it to become a leading class. Therefore, when social struggles occur, this bourgeoisie simply gives support to the winning fractions of the new bourgeoisie, no matter what the ideological standpoints of the latter happen to be. Its sole concern is to secure its interests and to profitably invest its capital nationally and globally. Its political elites group around the liberal-democratic parties, but it is also ready to support the conservative ones, if their political programme enables this bourgeoisie to secure those interests. In Serbia, they can primarily find support in those parties that are not nationally oriented, and that are profit and client-oriented.

    Entrepreneurial bourgeoisie in Serbia has just started to secure its position and form its political and cultural elite. On the other hand, the most marginalized class is the working class. It is on the defensive, just like the entire production class. The leftist political fractions are also destroyed and divided. Most of the leftist intelligence behave like converts and proselytes. They have given up not only Marxism but also emancipatory thought, and have become part of the echelon of the spiritual forces of conservation, of the status quo; they support the capital relations and try to dissuade the working class from class struggle. In such a way, the intellectual elites themselves become comprador ones, betraying thereby not only emancipatory but also national ideas and interests.



    The transition of the cultural subsystem in the postsocialsit states in the Balkans is a part of the process of their dependent modernization, of their becoming enslaved by the forces of neocolonialism, of the modern rulers of European and global power – the alliance of plutocracy, politbureaucracy, financial bourgeoisie, and mammonocracy of the profit-driven Internationale. It is in this context that the reform of education on the basis of the Bologna Declarationis being done, with an aim to produce a generation od semieducated morally disintersted people meant to be used by the megacapital. There is currently ruthless global competition for leadership, especially at the ''grey matter' 'market. In that sense, the leading TNCs keep discovering and providing scholarships to talented young people in the developing countries and the countries in transition. Our universities are teeming with posters such as ''Coca Cola Talents'' and others sponsored by various foundations (e.g. Soros's one). The enslaved and underdeveloped countries are in that way confronted with brain drain, as they get robbed of the elite of each generation, whose knowledge is then used for the purposes of world domination and the survival of capitalism, rather than for the benefit of those underdeveloped countries. In order to get out of the transition recession, the postsocialist countries need not only development strategies but also a radical change in the reproduction of professionals. The bureaucratic practice of negative selection should be dropped, and the most capable professionals should become part of the leading elite. It can be expected that the abolition of the neocolonial relations would enable the countries of the periphery, such as the Balkan countries, to form new (economic, scientific, political and cultural) elite that will play a progressive role in the development and emancipation of the Balkans. This change can take place through a new social revolution, in which societies will get rid of parasites, compradors, bureaucrats, and corrupted people, and in which they will get an authentic, highly professional, competent, responsible and patriotic elite that would destygmatuze Serbia and demarginalize its position in the world. Such elite will know that it is honorable to be patriotic, and that patriotism and love for mankind are not mutually exclusive but complementary. As opposed to the psedumondialists we currently have, who are ashamed of patriotism and who would rather play a subservient role to the new masters of the world power, this kind of elite would serve its people and mankind. There is now a considerable number of works in Serbia on the transition of culture and on what the characteristics of a better political elite than the present one would be. I would to remind the reader of, for example, the columns entitled An Intellectual in Transition or What is to be done? The Balkans in Search of Moderate Politicians. In our country, pseudoscientists reduce transition to adapting to the global development strategies and its structures of power, and to cloned dependent modernization and the culture of dependence. In this context, the role of intellectuals and of political elites is interpreted functionalistically, always keeping in mind the principles of political correctness, i.e. the focus is on how much transition can serve the purpose of perpetuation of the imposed order both globally and nationally.

    The New Bourgeoisie and its Pseudo-Elite in the Societies of Peripheral Capitalism 9

    We seem to suffer from new Bolshevism leaning towards the political right. The profile of an intellectual that is currently being promoted is that of a person that has been ideologized in a new way, that will be ready for every kind of ''ketmanship'' within the limits of th e''enslaved mind'', that is guided by no principles, that is ready for camouflage, that is like amarionette and that can adjust to any political view ranging from the far right to the far left.Politicians that can serve any regime, that are politically correct and adhere to the transatlantic allience are being created. And such a politician is considered to be an ideal! As arule, such elites have done nothing for their respective nations. Sooner or later, collaboration has made them historical losers and betrayers of national interests. If right before the transition of socialism one could talk about spent (intellectual and political) elites, in the emerging society of dependent peripheral capitalism one can talk about immature upstart pseudoelite, incapable of rationally ruling its country. Such elites are profoundly subservient to the imperial centres, wherefore one is justified in talking about the phenomenon of marionnetic pseudoelites.


    Postsocialist societies are still torn between the processes of retraditionalisation andmodernization. The achievements of 20 years of transition can show all the contradictions ofthe development of those societies and the problems involved in the basic processes of theirtransformation.We have already pointed to the limited and devastating effects of the neoliberal dependentmodernization, that have led to the phenomenon of countermodernization and historicalrestauration of the forms of social life that were typical of the so called early or wild capitalism.The criticism of the strategy of neoliberal social development does not mean that thelimitations of the concept and of the agents of conservative retraditionalization and rebalkanizationcan be vindicated. The 1990s in Serbia and in former Yugoslavia have alsoshown how catastrophic the effects can be of blocked transition, destroyed society, culturaltrauma, xenophobia, i.e. of the ''shock of the past''. In Serbia, on the cultural and ideologicallevel, the myth of a ''heavenly nation'' has been substituted by the myth that can be called'' There is no alternative to Europe''. Serbia seems to be trapped between these two myths despiteradical changes in public opinion and the ever increasing peripherization of the orientationtowards Europe not only in the elites but also among people.Radical changes in the class structure of Serbia's postsocialist society can reveal antagonisticnature of production and social relations. Social and class contradictions, i.e. the confrontedinterests of social forces have become very apparent. It will not be possible to politicallycamouflage those basic contradictions for long by ethno-political tensions, nor to pacifythem, nor to redirect them by trying to marginalize their systemic taming. Enormous exploitation, impoverishment of most of the nation, mass unemployment, form the core of negative social synergy for potential mass dissatisfaction, and possible social protests and conflicts. If they wish not to be discarded by the citizens and most of the nation, political parties and elites would have to stop deceiving the citizens and articulate their real interests in the struggle for social change.

    The achievements of transition necessitate critical rethinking of the development strategy used so far and its radical redefinition so as for the crisis to be overcome and so as for true modernization, development and progress of Serbia to be made. The current practice has shown inner limitations and disastrous effects both of the strategy of conservative retraditionalization and of the strategy of neoliberal dependent modernization. The time ahead will soon show which direction contemporary Serbia will adopt – conservative authoritarian modernization or liberal democratic / social democratic model. It is up to the emerging elite and the citizens to decide on and redefine the direction of future development. That direction must comply with the global megatrends in Europe and in the world, but also show respect for our national and cultural identity, for the interests and peculiarities of our geostrategicposition and our role in the contemporary world. It is against such a background that a newconglomerate of elites as agents of social change will emerge.

    This paper advocates socialdemocratic alternative of social development as a historical form of social change that can help create an open, modern, civil society, in which there is aplurality of forms of ownership, whose backbone consists of the common actions of the employedand participation democracy, starting at the level of microsocial structures, throughlocal and regional self-government, to central institutions of the global society. Such a modelof social relations fosters social initiative, creativity and responsibility of all the social layersin the process of social development, and, as such, can guarantee success and a promisingfuture for all social groups.Still, no choice of an authentic alternative for future social development is possiblewithout critical analysis of the causes and the consequences of the state we currently findourselves in, i.e. without getting rid of various illusions and a radical change in the structureof strategic elites which have brought us here. There is no doubt that those who have createdthe crisis cannot possibly get us out of it. It is time for new social changes that can bebrought about by new elites.INSTEAD OF A CONCLUSION

    Serbia and the Balkans belong to the new European and world periphery, regardless ofwhether they are officially in the EU or not. Such conclusion can be drawn on the basis ofthe place and role the Balkan countries play in the regional and class division of labour inthe contemporary world. This fact, in turn, determines the ways of the reproduction of social,class and political structure of the given societies. Those societies are dependent societiescharacterized by subdevelopment, degenerate structure, undifferentiated elite and undevelopednew world view. They are unfortunately still plagued by ''cultural trauma'', and existbetween ''the shock of the past'' and the ''contemporary challenge''. It is in this context that inSerbia, at the cultural and ideological level, the myth of ''heavenly Serbia'' has been substitutedby the ''there is no alternative to Europe'' myth!The elites in the countries in transition are still immature, and are still pseudoelites. Serbia(and the other Balkan countries) need mature, nationally conscious, entrepreneurial elite.They need a modern elite, that will be open to the world, and that will, through its professionalismand respect for the common good – the national interest, show that ''one can die forone's homeland everywhere and not just at the battlefield'' (D. Dani či ć). Such new elite, withits entrepreneurship and cultural diplomacy, can potentially do more than all the transition

    The New Bourgeoisie and its Pseudo-Elite in the Societies of Peripheral Capitalism 11

    govrnments, which have been restaurative in character, which have led Serbia into debtorslavery, which have made it a recolonized country and a protectorate, and which have notproved able to govern rationally and defend Serbia's freedom and independence.When one compares comprador bourgeoisie in Latin America 20 years ago (which A. G.Frank wrote about) to the modern compradors in Serbia and the Balkans, one can draw thefollowing conclusions:

    􀂃 in Latin America, the societies were just starting their transition from feudalism to early capitalism;

    􀂃 Serbia and the Balkans are making transition from socialism to capitalism;

    􀂃 in Latin America, compradors are recruited from the agricultural class, whereas here they are recruited from the middle class and the nomenclature;

    􀂃 what compradors everywhere (in the Balkans, in Russia, in Latin America, in Africa,in Asia) have in common is that they are ready to sacrifice national interest for th esake of their own benefit; all of them unscrupulously exploit the workforce and are subservient to the masters of the global power, the megacapital of the TNCs and the world centres;

    􀂃 comprador bourgeoisie is the agent of the processes of internal colonialization, of dependen tmodernization and asymmetric globalization in the geospace in which Serbia and the Balkans are situated.

    Historical sociology has analyzed the emergence and the role of compradors in China, India and Latin America, that were once again nothing more but agents of spreading of the capitalist ways of production and of colonialism in the 19th century.3 It is time our sociologists wrote a contemporary study on compradors in Serbia and in the Balkans. Thus far, only a small number of economists, sociologists and geopolitical analysts have written on the issue, and even when they did that, this issue was not their primary focus. The economists who have written on the given issue are M. Jakši ć, J. Dušani ć, D. Cveti čanin and B. Dragaš; the sociologists who havetackled the given problem are: V. Vratuša-Žunji ć, S. Antoni ć, Z. Vidojevi ć and Lj. Mitrovi ć ;eventually, this issue has also been dealt with by the following politicologists and geopoliticalanalysts – M. Kneževi ć and M. Đurkovi ć . In the article entitled Compradors, S. Antoni ć , among other things, says the following: ''We often hold the opinion that our political, media and culture elite is unique when it comes to the destruction of economy and of the state, to robbing the country of its resources and the cultural war against its own people. If that can be any consolation, a number of similar examples can be found, especially in the history of colonialism. That was actually the time when such elites were termed ''comprador'' elites. Such elites are today seen as the main agents of the global capital and of its political structures (of the ''Empire'') in the countries belonging to the semiperiphery and the periphery of the capitalistsystem''. 4 Their role, Antoni ć adds, is to secure cultural hegemony and convince the citizens that''in the period of transition the best way of modernization is to hand over all the economy, political and cultural resources to foreigners''.53 See more on this in the books by A.G. Frank and I. Wallerstein.4 See the article entiltled ''Compradors'' ["Kompradori"] by S. Antoni ć, "Pe čat", Beograd, No. 109., 9 April,2010., p. 8.5 Ibid, p.8.12 LJ. MITROVI Ć

    ***I would like to end this paper with a plea for radical criticism of neocolonialism and itspseudoelites currently emerging in Serbia. In that sense, it would also be useful to paraphrase ReneDumon, a French socilogist: Serbia and the Balkans will never be able to save themselves if their development strategy and social structures do not get changed and if comprador bourgeoisie and its corruped pseudoelite at all levels do not get stripped of their power.6

    In order to demarginalize its position in the region and in the global division of labor, Serbia needs competent, socially responsible and patriotic elite, with developed self-consciousness. Relying on its creativity, such elite would be able not only to destigmatize Serbia especially in view of the events that Serbia took part in during the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century, but also secure Serbia a new position and role in the contemporary world. Serbia can become the regional leader only through real changes within itself and inits consciousness, through advancement of its economic and cultural potentials, rather than through narcissistic bragging about its importance, which is something that its political leaders, the media subservient to them and the ''analysts-aestheticians-propagandists and the PRs ''working for those media are doing in order to delude the masses and justify the actions of those in power. It takes time for such elites to form, and it is also important, in such a context, to have a clear orientation in the educational and cultural policy, and in the global strategy of social development. Our future depends on the actions we take today. In revolution, which represents the most radical form of social change, and a creative act (because it liberates the holders of the new production forces and the initiative of the general public, that it gathers together for the sake of development), progressive social classes, as history has shown, have the power to form progressive elites as agents of modernization, democratization, emancipation and creativity. As opposed to this, counterrevolution, paves the way for social regression and historic restoration of the conservative classes and elites. What follows after a counterrevolution is an entourage of political intrigants and demagogues, people of dubious character, hypocritical converts and corrupted groups, prone to criminal and antipatriotic acts, making the political sphere look like a brothel, making the Parliament look like a chat-room of no significance, and making the government an executive board of the bourgeoisie. The revolutionaries and counterrevolutionaries from the French Civil Revolution and their sociological profile, have been dealt with by K. Marx (see his book entitled Civil War in France), as well as by S. Jovanovi ć ( To the Leader of the French Revolution [ Vo đi francuske revolucije ]).The ''heroes'' of the transition currently going on, i.e. of the neoconservative restoration in Serbia and in the world (dubbed ''democratic, velvet revolution'' by its ideologists) remain to be written about and analyzed in critical and objective studies. Some initial sociological works on the issue have already been written by those authors dealing with the research of the role of the elites of disintegration and of the elites in the processes of postsocialist transition.7

    Transition is a contradictory process of new divisions among and regrouping of socialforces. The elites, that articulate the interests of social classes and lead social agents in socialstruggle and social change, must possess not only professional knowledge, but also devel-

    6 cited in: Pierre Dockes, Internacionala kapitala [The Capital Internationale], Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 1977., str.180.7 See the books by K. Kosik, G. Osipov, Z. Golenkova, as well as those by the following Serbian authors: Z.Golubovi ć, M. Lazi ć, S. Antoni ć and S. Miladinovi ć.The New Bourgeoisie and its Pseudo-Elite in the Societies of Peripheral Capitalism 13

    oped collective self-consciousness about social class and the nation they belong to, as well asabout the era they live in and the role they should have in the national, regional and globalchanges. Because, as I. Wallerstein wrote: ''Transition is not a friendly game. It is a fierce struggle for the future and will bring about sharp divisions among us... We are living intransition times and you must know which shore it is you want to swim towards, becauseotherwise you will drown!''.8

    Crimea's Three Basic Ethnic Components- A Pledge for Peace

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