Putin’s Gaffe Divides Russian Society, Part II

This is a continuation of yesterday’s story.  Where we left off:

So, this bloke Putin was attending a discussion forum at the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow.  That’s the place where elite Russian egg-headed scientists cook the nukes.  An institution that is also, just by curious coincidence, in the news this past week for a completely different reason:

The Kurchatov Institute, Moscow. The scene of the crime.

Because twas there, according to the British government and its dishonest politically-motivated and corrupt court system [I am allowed to make such broad statments because, well, that’s what THEY do too!], that Vladimir Putin, the Russian Head of State,  “probably” acquired the polonium with which he “probably” poisoned British-Russian (spy, traitor, and double-agent) Alexander Litvinenko.  A different Alexander, name of  Goldfarb, one of the men who figures in this sordid case as a witness for the Prosecution (later recanting part of his story), actually worked at the Kurchatov Institute before emigrating from the USSR in 1975.  Implication being, that Goldfarb knew his way around a tube of polonium!

Western anti-Russian press is all over this Litvinenko case.  This is THE BOMB to them!  Their screams of joy, fury and righteous indignation reach to the highest heavens above.  But they no longer have a monopoly of “guiding men’s minds and thoughts,” in the words of Boris Pasternak.  See, in a different sector of public opinion, the Russia-friendly blogosphere is equally busy tearing holes in this story cooked up by an archaic British monarchist and anti-constitutional system.  While humorously mocking the British court’s stout-hearted declaration that “I think mostly likely, yes, probably, slightly within the boundaries of Reasonable Doubt, but yeah, we think HE DUNNIT.”

Sidebar over, and continuing on with my own story, which is NOT Litvinenko-related, I believe that most likely, “probably”, Putin’s appearance at the Kurchatov Institute on Thursday was just a coincidence and had nothing to do with the Litvinenko case.  Unless Putin was there trolling for some more polonium, and got distracted when a spontaneous poetry reading broke out.

The real problem is, that during his visit to the Doctor Atomic Institute, Putin did something which, in my own personal opinion, is WAY more reprehensible than “probably” executing a traitor and double agent.  They say that “In the beginning was the Word”, and sure enough, Putin uttered some words which have the effect of dividing Russian society.  Into two sorts of people:  The cool ones (=the anti-Communist Elites, the rich capitalists and their ideological camarillas), and the stupid ones (the “sovoks“, the “vatniki“).

“И он заговорил. Мы помним
И памятники павшим чтим.”

(“He started his speech.  We remember.
And we honor the monuments of the fallen.”)
(Boris Pasternak, “Illness”)

Guiding Men’s Thoughts

Recall that the Director of the Kurchatov Institute, name of Mikhail Kovalchuk, decided to show off his knowledge of Russian poetry, while at the same time implicity praising the current Russian President.  By comparing him to the great Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin!

Don’t worry, I LIKE you guys! Now write a poem about ME!

Now, I have no idea what are Kovalchuk’s political views, whether he is a Communist or anti-Communist or something in between.  Kovalchuk most likely knew that Pasternak’s  awesome poem was partly about Lenin; mostly about the poet’s attitude to the Bolshevik leader and to his untimely death.  Or maybe Kovalchuk didn’t know this.  Pasternak’s poem is not only brilliant, but also very long, dense, and complex.  It’s the kind of poem that you would spend an entire college semester studying, maybe even writing your thesis on, under the mentorship of a professor who spent their life studying 20th-century Russian poetry.  Pasternak’s poem is not as “in your face” pro-Leninist as, say Mayakovsky’s Lenin poem, polished in the fervor and grief of Lenin’s death.  An event which shook up the Russian intelligentsia, men such as Mayakovsky and Pasternak, filling them with grief and apprehension, for the future of Russia, and their own role in the future state.

Well, they needn’t have fretted.  After all, it was just kindly Uncle Joe who came to power!

But I digress…

Like I mentioned yesterday, Kovalchuk, showing off his literary chops, quoted to Putin these lines from Pasternak’s poem:

Тогда его увидев въяве,
Я думал, думал без конца
Об авторстве его и праве
Дерзать от первого лица.

(“But then, once having seen him [Lenin] in person, I was thinking and thinking about it, About his authority and what right does he have to take such risks in our name?”)

Kovalchuk then threw in another verse from Pasternak’s poem, improvising by prefixing with his own “Ответ такой:”

Он управлял теченьем мыслей
И только потому страной.

(“The answer is this:  He was able to guide men’s thoughts and only because of this, was able to lead the country.”)

And to this poetic outburst, President Putin countered, in some apparent irritation, with the following utterance:

“Управлять течением мысли это правильно, нужно только чтобы эта мысль привела к правильным результатам, а не как у Владимира Ильича. А то в конечном итоге эта мысль привела к развалу Советского Союза, вот к чему. Там много было мыслей таких: автономизация и так далее. Заложили атомную бомбу под здание, которое называется Россией, она и рванула потом. И мировая революция нам не нужна была. Вот такая мысль там”, – сказал Путин, завершая заседание президентского совета.

“Mon Dieu, what have I done? Quel fou!”

“Guiding men’s thoughts – that’s all for the good.  The only thing is that it is necessary for these thoughts to lead to the correct results.  Which did NOT happen with Vladimir Ilyich.  And in fact, these ‘thoughts’ led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, that’s a fact.  The [Bolsheviks] had many such thoughts and ideas:  autonomies and so on.  They [the Bolsheviks] laid an atom bomb under the edifice which we call Russia.  And that’s why it collapsed.  We had no need for a world revolution.  That’s the sort of ‘thought’ that they were engaged in.”

Ordinary people in Donetsk defend Lenin statue against iconoclasts.

Putting aside just a second the utter indelicacy of a Yeltsin’s protege blaming Ilyich for the dissolution of the Soviet Union… But I digress…  In the course of this single utterance, Putin dissed an entire segment of Russian society, people who vote for the Communist Party in regional elections.  He dissed people who honor the past achievements of their parents and grandparents; people who lived in a system devised by Lenin, and who sacrificed and worked their fingers to the bone creating national wealth.  Wealth which Putin’s mentor, Boris Yeltsin, gave away like candy to his oligarchic cronies.  Even worse than that:  Putin dissed the people of Donbass, Ukraine:  people, like ordinary coal miners, who came out into the streets to defend statues of Lenin against neo-Nazi vandals.  In this single utterance, Putin in essence laid a mine under the delicate balance of Russian society, the ever-lasting war between the Elites and the People.

Napoleon vs the Jacobins?

From what I have read of French history, Napoleon faced a very similar problem to Putin’s:  The great French leader, like Putin, came to power on the crest of a counter-revolution.  And yet it was his job to be, or least attempt to be, a “unifying factor” in French society.  His government rehabilitated aristos, but did not persecute nor disrespect ex-Jacobins.


From tractor to mule: Russian communists mock Putin’s political party, United Russia.

The stability of French society required a certain “forgive and forget” attitude.  And a re-uniting of former class enemies around a common national goal.

In Russia, the counter-revolution engineered by Gorbachev, Yeltsin and their acolytes such as Putin, brought to power a ruthless and corrupt capitalist elite.  An elite which had NO national goal.  Only the personal goals of greedy men to enrich themselves, while economically enslaving others.

But “Le peuple” were tossed a bone:  They could keep their holidays, their Victory Day, the Banner of Victory, the street names, the Lenin statues and some relics of Soviet civilization.  Lenin would remain mummified in his Mausoleum.  There was Bread, there were Circuses, there were Bush’s Little Legs.  All this as compensation for the loss of vast territories; national wealth; warm-water ports; an independent foreign policy; national dignity; no more “friendship of the peoples”, and worst of all, a slap in the face to the innate dignity of the Working Man.

And thus, Inquiring Minds are hereby allowed to inquire ironically, Who exactly was the man who “laid an atom bomb under the edifice which we call Russia”  ?  Who indeed?

Next:  Those Pesky Autonomies, and other Negative Reaction

[this Philippic to be continued]

This entry was posted in Breaking News, Russian History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Putin’s Gaffe Divides Russian Society, Part II

  1. PaulR says:

    Damn. You beat me to it – I was going to blog about this! But you have done a better job anyway. As I pointed out on Kremlin Stooge, I found it interesting that Putin’s spokesman Peskov immediately tried to undo any political damage by telling people not to worry – this was just Putin’s personal opinion (the implication being that it was not the official position of the state): http://www.interfax.ru/russia/490891


  2. Cortes says:

    Shirley it was affable Tio Pepe from Gori who dispensed with all the folderol regarding world revolution whilst whittling away (frequently CHOPPING away) at the notion. Are VVP’s comments not evidence of the secret which must not be spoken…the real daddy oh of the Soviet system wasn’t really VIL.


  3. Northern Star says:

    But didn’t Putin himself come from a working class as opposed to an elite background??
    BTW: The first thermonukes were detonated by the Americans in 1951/52


    • yalensis says:

      That’s true. Putin did not come from an elite background. Nor did Yeltsin. They both came from blue-collar working-class families. But Yeltsin ended up a complete lackey of the oligarchs and capitalist elites.

      Putin is a more complicated, more ambiguous case, obviously. This is why I call him the “Napoleonic” figure of modern Russian history.


    • Northern Star says:

      ..He may wish to affiliate himself with the elite..but he is not from that strata….his own father and closest family members were among those that you referenced as being offended (disrespected) by his remarks.


      • yalensis says:

        Don’t get me wrong, I give Putin a lot of credit. He has TRIED to be a unifying figure in Russian society. He has TRIED to be fair and, like, make sure the pensioners get their checks on time, and a’ that. He has TRIED to restore Russia’s dignity and sovereignty in foreign politics, as best he can.
        At the same time, I don’t regard Putin as an innocent ingenue who just inherited a bad hand of cards. No, he was THERE when all of this happened. And it is pretty clear that he is an ideological anti-communist and totally believed in what Yeltsin was trying to do. Which is to destroy Communism the way some people try to destroy cockroaches: By burning down the entire house!

        Bottom line: Putin screwed up with this gaffe, and he needs to make amends.
        How can he do that without looking weak to his own people? I have no idea!


        • Northern Star says:

          “I have no idea!”

          Neither have I….But it -his gaffe-IS disheartening

          BTW Yalensis….you may find this of interest:

          The Brits wrote-in blood-the prologue to the Holocaust long before Hitler was born

          Also you-and other followers of your blog- might wish to consider your comments on the Americanization (read:vulgarization) of other cultures in the context of Mario Vargas Llosa’s “Notes on the Death of Culture”…..in case you haven’t already


        • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

          Build more Stalin statues.

          The Gruzian bank robber was far more Russian than Lenin.


          • Lyttenburgh says:

            Already on it!

            1) Lugansk:

            2) Mariy-El

            3) Center of Penza:

            4) Lipetsk

            All built by people using people’s donation – not because of the “Kremlenite initiative to revive Soviet Imperialism”. So-called “Russian liberals” were screeching every time this happened.

            And for comparison –

            5) Vladivostok:

            How fitting!


        • davidt says:

          Sorry, Yalensis, old mate, you are really getting carried away with your own rhetoric. Your frustration with the 90’s is getting the better of you- in reality you are lucky that Putin was there, if only as a relatively powerless player. An acolyte of Gorbachev and Yeltsin? Really? Then why does the West treat him as a mortal enemy? An ideological anti-communist? I am not sure what that means, though it is clear that Russia could not continue as a “communist state” without tremendous change. (Can you really imagine running a modern state on communist principles? If you can, then you must have some imagination.) On the other hand, I have noticed that he has frequently acknowledged the idealism of individual communists, starting with his father. To continue in my contrarian mode, I wouldn’t be surprised if this comment on Lenin turns out to be a good thing, even if he said it because he had a frustrating day. (This is rather more important than a sterile argument about Trotsky versus Stalin.) Keep your pecker up.


          • yalensis says:

            Dear David:

            Well, the question of why Western elites treats Putin like a mortal enemy, I think that is easy enough to explain, without resort to ideology. Putin could be a Shaolin monk or a Scientologist, and they would still hate his guts.

            There are 2 mutually contradictory principles here which blend together into a Hegelian synthesis of opposites:

            (1) “Western” political leaders operate on the principle that “Communism” is the most evil ideology ever created, namely, because it puts the working man at the top of the heap; and that is HERESY to these people.

            (2) “Western” political leaders do not care about ideology when it comes to grand geo-politics and strategy. They know that Putin ain’t no commie, BUT THEY HATE HIM ANYWAY! For same reason they hated Saddam, or Assad, or any other national two-bit leader who stands in their way of their totalitarian world-hegemony.

            Reminds me of old “Radio Erevan” joke, but told in reverse:

            Announcer on music program from Radio Ereven:
            “We honor and respect Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and not just because he was gay….”


            • davidt says:

              OK, so why does Putin stand in the way of the West’s “totalitarian world hegemony”. The essence of the answer is simply because Putin is a Russian patriot who is trying to defend the long term interests of Russia, and Russians, as best he can. You mightn’t think so, and you might think that he hasn’t protected the rights of the Donbass miners but surely you don’t think that he is a “two-bit leader”. You have a romantic view of communism. For my part, I have a romantic view of individual communists, Paul Robeson for one, but also of many Soviet peasants from the collective farms who died fighting Nazism. I have never been a big fan of Lenin, but we are not in dispute about the numerous creeps in modern Russia. However, I remember as a schoolboy, year after year, checking the annual Soviet agricultural production figures, always hoping that they would improve. They didn’t. Can you imagine how Russia would cope with the current Western sanctions if it hadn’t improved its agricultural production? I like your joke, but let me tell you one in response. In an Australian election of the 50’s the Prime Minister was interrupted by a heckler who sang out “I wouldn’t vote for you if you were the archangel Gabriel.” Menzies drolly replied: “If I were the archangel Gabriel, you wouldn’t be in my electorate.” You might do well to remember that you are also not in the archangel Gabriel’s electorate. (Dunford and Schwartz wrote a series of books on linear operators without using semi-colons. I reckon exclamation marks and capital letters should also be avoided. And given that I’ve mentioned mathematics you might enjoy proving Napoleon’s theorem.) Best, D


            • yalensis says:

              Dear David:
              You are actually wrong about Soviet agriculture, it DID get better, much better, during the post-war years. (In keeping with a worldwide trend.) Even during the “stagnation years” of the Brezhnev era, there were some years of excellent harvests, although the trend was in the direction of more imports. Which the Soviet Union could afford to do, what with the oil revenues and all. And agriculture is just one metric of a successful society.

              There are many sources and monographs to quote from, for example
              this piece by Felix Kogan this piece by F.N. Kogan (it’s a link to a PDF):

              During the last 35 years, the average level of grain production in the USSR has almost tripled, from 65 million tons in 1946-1950 to 205 million tons in 1976-1980. This growth was connected with the process of technological improvement in agriculture- a process which can be observed in the majority of countries of the world. Utilization of fertilizers, which are the main factor of technological improvement, increased more than ten times during the last 35 years in the USSR. At the same time mechanization of the whole process of grain production was substantially improved. The number of tractors and grain combines, the,most important source of mechanization, increased more than four times. Significant increases in grain productivity was obtained through plant breeding.
              (etc. etc.)

              It’s not that Soviet agriculture didn’t have major problems. Even in years of a great harvest, a lot of the yield was wasted, because the infrastructure (roads, railroads) was lacking to transport all the grain; as a result, a lot of it just rotted away in the fields.

              (2) No, I don’t actually thnk that Putin is a “two-bit leader”, I don’t think Assad is two-bit either. I was using an oratorical device, like maybe speaking from the POV of the hegemonists who don’t like these “punks” who defy them.

              (3) I don’t actually have a romantic view of communism, Soviet communism was a tough system with a lot of flaws. From what I have read about China, they have an awful lot of problems as well. And by the way, I could equally well accuse you of having a romantic view of capitalism.

              (4) I agree I am not qualified to be a member of Archangel Gabriel’s electorate. Not sure exactly what that little dig meant, but I have obviously irked you. So be it. I can take it.

              (5) I agree I could use fewer semi-colons and exclamation marks. My writing style is evolving. I DO LIKE capital letters though, when used for emphasis. In WordPress, you can use bold and italics, but not much choice in fonts, so I tend to mix it up. By the same token, you yourself could use a few more paragraph breaks and maybe fewer parentheses in your comments. Just sayin’.

              (6) Thank you, I will try to prove Napoleon’s theorem. In return, you can prove Alan Turing’s theorem on Computability. Turing’s proof is too difficult for me to follow through all the way, me not being a mathematician, however I might just be able to manage the Napoleon one. I will give it a shot, at least.


  4. Lyttenburgh says:

    For those who are hell-bent on toppling statues and monuments sincerely believing that by doing so they are acting like “progressive” and “democratic” human beings I have only this picture:

    As for Napoleon’s comparison – you are spot on, yalensis! Indeed, under Napoleon it was possible for such different persons like treacherous aristo Taleyrand and former active Jacobin Joseph Fouché (later – duc d’Otrante) to serve France, Bonaparte – and their precious selves – in the same time period.

    One episode worth noting. During the assasination attempt on then 1st Consul Napoleon on Chrismas night, 24 Decembre of 1800 and Fouché’s investigation proved without doubt that Royalists did it, and that some of them were connected with cells in still restive Vendée (just earlier this year the leader of the royalist rebelion here had been captured and shot).

    And what did Napoleon do? He placed the blame squarely on Jacobins. He had all reasons for that – previously, 4 of whom were arrested on 10 October on charges of preparing to kill the First consul with daggers. What is truly surprising is that already on 20 October Bonaparte allowed “certain categories of the emigres” to return safely back in France. While aristocrats were returning back in France, all across France notable Jacobins were arrested and sentenced to exile into tropical colonies of France – an exile, from which many of them won’t return alive. After Napoleon’s “take” and “revision” of Fouché’s investigation this number increased manifold.

    Napolen tried really, really hard to appear like a “proper” monarch in Europe and he needed/desired a sense of legitimization coming from the old elite. He wanted to be seen as “equal partner” by the ruling dynasties of Europe – not as a new scarily effective war-leader of the Revolution. Gee – does it remind you something? 😉


    • yalensis says:

      Dear Lyttenburgh: Excellent comment. Love that Darwin-Monkey image! It is absolutely perfect.

      Please forgive me, but I took the liberty of editing your comment and replacing the word “Jacobean” with “Jacobin”. Because I think that is what you meant.
      Jacobeans were something to do with King James of Scotland, I think.
      Jacobins were more like, Robespierre, Saint-Just, Marat that sort of person!


      • Lyttenburgh says:

        D’oh! Of course, Jacobins, not the brave souls who gave their very lives to support an unworthy wastrel Bonny Prince Charlie.


        • yalensis says:

          Hee hee! Otherwise we would have to put up with Robespierre and Saint-Just joining hands while singing
          “Carry the lad who’s born to be King/Over the sea to Skye!”

          Actually…. that isn’t so crazy after all! While searching on youtube for a musical interlude to my comment, I found this amazing recording of the Skye Boat song by ….. (guess who?)

          American COMMUNIST Paul Robeson!
          Interestingly enough, Robeson was a fightin’ Stalinist in his day, a veteran of many American Communist Party factional wars.

          So Robeson singing a monarchist ballad, It doesn’t get any weirder than this.
          I suppose we could call him a “African-American Jacobin-Jacobean!”


  5. Jen says:

    I posted this comment about Putin’s opinion on federalisation over at Paul R’s Irrussianality blog and reproduce it here because it’s very long and detailed. Hopefully it will clear up some confusion as to what Putin might have intended with what he said about Lenin and the Bolsheviks in allowing federalisation of regions like Ukraine in 1917.

    ‘Putin’s attitude to federalisation and his opinion on how the Bolsheviks dealt with federalisation of parts of the Russian state in 1917 should be seen as two separate things. The historical context is key as well: the Russian empire in 1917 was in a weak position because it was fighting a war against Germany and its allies (Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires) and losing badly thanks to Tsar Nicholas II’s mismanagement; and the Bolsheviks were attracting attention because among other things they were promising to get Russia out of the war if they came to power. Once they did come to power in late 1917, they concluded a treaty with Germany to end Russia’s participation in World War I and the terms of that treaty (the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk) included recognising the independence of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

    So it may be that Putin objected not to federalisation per se but the way in which the Bolsheviks were compelled to allow federalisation in the western parts of the former Russian empire on terms that favoured Germany and not Russia or the subject peoples of the western parts of the Russian empire. This could be what he referred to when he mentioned “autonomies”.

    Incidentally he was in favour of federalisation in Ukraine in this interview he gave to a German TV channel in Vladivostok in November 2014:

    Here is an excerpt from the interview where Putin brings up the issue of federalisation:

    ” … Ukraine is a complex country, and not only due to its ethnic composition, but also from the point of view of its formation as it stands today.

    Is there a future and what will it be like? I think there certainly is. It is a large country, a large nation with the population of 43–44 million people. It is a large European country with a European culture..

    You know, there is only one thing that is missing. I believe, what is missing is the understanding that in order to be successful, stable and prosperous, the people who live on this territory, regardless of the language they speak (Hungarian, Russian, Ukrainian or Polish), must feel that this territory is their homeland. To achieve that they must feel that they can realise their potential here as well as in any other territories and possibly even better to some extent. That is why I do not understand the unwillingness of some political forces in Ukraine to even hear about the possibility of federalisation.

    We’ve been hearing lately that the question at issue should be not federalisation but decentralisation. It is all really a play on words. It is important to understand what these notions mean: decentralisation, federalisation, regionalisation. You can coin a dozen other terms. The people living in these territories must realise that they have rights to something, that they can decide something for themselves in their lives …”

    Here Putin favours a federalisation policy because he believes it will serve the needs of the myriad peoples living in Ukraine to preserve their cultural identities and languages and also help to keep Ukraine together. It’s not so much the idea of federalisation versus a unitary state that is the issue, it is what federalisation is meant to serve, what the ultimate aims are, that is the issue.’

    If we consider that the Bolsheviks were under some duress in allowing independence of a sort to Ukraine in 1917, then that might explain in part why in later years successive Soviet governments kept adding territory to Ukraine once Ukraine was brought back into the Soviet Union: the territorial additions were a sop to 1917-period Ukraine because there were elements in the country antagonistic towards Moscow and being encouraged (in turn) by Germany, Poland, the US and the UK to try to break away.


    • yalensis says:

      Thanks, Jen. Yours is a great comment, and I also read it on the Professor’s blog.
      Speaking of which, Professor Paul had reiterated his thesis that Putin is a big fan of Russian philosopher Ivan Ilyin.

      Ilyin’s work covered a large variety of subjects, including the philosophy of Hegel, law, politics, the ethics of violence, the nature of the Russian nation, and the tasks incumbent on Russian émigrés. He was in many respects a religious philosopher, in that he regarded spiritual matters as more important than material ones. He believed that the Russian revolution was a product of the spiritual failings of the Russian people.

      Well, this Ilyin fellow sounds to me like a total pill. Social Revolution as a result of SPIRITUAL failings? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
      (Is he saying that econimically oppressed masses don’t go to church enough?)

      I note in Ilyin’s bio that Ilyin supported White Guard General Wrangel and held out feelers to the Nazis. He was SO patriotic that I guess he wanted the Nazis to invade and liberate Russia from the bloody Bolsheviks.
      Claims to have become disillusioned with the Nasties because of their anti-Semitism, such mauvais ton, and “fled” Germany in 1938. Well, maybe “fled” is a strong word. Boarded a train for Switzerland. Where he lived out the rest of his life writing books about philosophy. While he was busy doing that, other Russians and Soviet nationalities were building hydroelectric dams and sending a man into space..


      • PaulR says:

        ‘Is he saying that economically oppressed masses don’t go to church enough?’ – primarily, he was saying that Russians had an underdeveloped ‘legal consciousness’ (‘pravosoznanie’). It is interesting that modern institutional economics considers that legal consciousness is a more important factor in economic growth than financial capital, so he may have been on to something there.


  6. davidt says:

    Sorry, Y, I couldn’t respond under your last comment. If I have a long suit at all, it’s mathematical logic so I understand Godel, Turing and the others, and I have no doubt that you would too if you had a slightly different background. I mentioned Napoleon’s theorem partly because you might be unaware of Napoleon’s close connection with mathematics and mathematicians and I know you have an interest in many things. There are many such connections, for example, Poncelet developed projective geometry whilst in a Russian prisoner of war camp. My comment regarding the archangel Gabriel was meant simply as a balm to your feelings and disappointments, and as a reminder that some things in the political realm are very hard to achieve. (You have definitely not irked me.) I don’t write well and only comment because I like and respect you- you write very clearly. As regards capitals and so forth, I remember writing an emotional letter many years ago and showing it to a senior colleague for approval. All he said was “David, nobody ever reads the second page of a letter”. (If you Google “black hole coordinate system” you will find who my colleague was.) As regards Soviet agricultural output, why don’t we accept a multi-valued logic and agree that we are both right. Finally, I certainly don’t see myself as a cheerleader for capitalism, especially for many aspects of it as currently practised in the West. Best, D


    • yalensis says:

      Okay, thanks, David.


      • yalensis says:

        P.S. – I just had to comment on the notion of “romanticizing” Paul Robeson, because that was genuinely funny. Robeson was a terrific singer and performer, and he brought a much-needed dignity to his much-maligned race.
        On the other hand, the guy was a ferocious in-fighter when it came to “his other job” – as a Communist Party flak. If I had been alive at the time and a Party member, I would NOT have wanted to get in his way. So, no “romanticism” there, just trepidatious respect.


        • davidt says:

          He used to do a decent rendition of the Volga Boatmen too.


          • yalensis says:


            I notice in this clip Robeson sings the “communist” version of his signature song, “Old Man River”, instead of the more traditional, “pessimist” version of the song.

            Pessimist version:
            “Get a little drunk, and you lands in jail.”
            Communist version:
            “Show a little grit, and you lands in jail.”

            Pessimist version:
            “But I gets weary and sick of tryin’, and tired of livin’ and scared of dying”
            Communist version:
            “But I keeps laughin’ instead of cryin’, I must keep fightin’ until I’m dying”


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