ERRATUM with Soapbox

Dear Readers:

A recent new law signed by Donald Trump to regulate pro-Russian bloggers and their AI bots, forces me to post this ERRATUM to my previous blogpost.

(Ha ha, just kidding!  I am posting this of my own free will…)

Anyhow, in my review of the Petr Akopov op-ed about Putin’s big speech to “Russian Gathering” folks, I mistakenly attributed some of Akopov’s editorial comments to Putin himself.  Namely, that bit about Globalists and Communists all deriving from the same ((((root)))).  And for those not in the know, my sarcastic parentheses around the word “root” is an allusion to an ALT-Right dog-whistle of denoting ((((Jews)))) by putting parentheses around allusions to them.  As in, “their malign influence echoes through the centuries”, or something like that.  Akopov clearly being of this frame of mind, when he conflates Globalists and Marxists.

Trotsky had a big nose!

In my blogpost I reamed Putin out for taking such a cheap shot; but then my reader Nat pointed out in a comment, in a very kind and very sweet way, that I had gotten the utterances mixed up.  It was not an error in translation, just a wrong attribution of an utterance, to the wrong person!  My error came in not reading the actual text of Putin’s speech, but only relying in Akopov’s excerpted quotes, into which he freely mixed in his own analysis and opinions.  Horrors, who does that?

Well, I, for one.  When I first started my blog, I had a vague plan of just doing translations from the Russian press.  Then, as my project evolved, I started doing more “analysis and review” than straight translation.  I review a lot of op-eds and try to keep track of elite Russian opinion.  Sometimes this can be treacherous if one does not take care to separate out different utterances and distinguish fact from opinion.  Or, as Putin might say, Separate the flies from the cutlets.

As does George Soros… QED

If the President of the Russian Federation had indeed made such an utterance, then it would have turned off at least a couple of segments of Russian society, for example, ethnic Jews (at least those politically-minded ones whose ears are tuned to the dog whistles), and people who vote for the Communist Party.  Oh, I doubt if it would have affected Putin’s approval ratings, but it probably would negatively affect his legacy.  After all, only crude ALT-Righties actually believe that George Soros and Leon Trotsky are one and the same person.  These are people who possess a very limited view of history, to them pretty much everything, including Globalization, is a Jewish conspiracy.  And they have no concept of economic class, or different class interests.  To them, a Jew is a Jew is a Jew, and all these Jews care about is mooshing all the nations of the world together into one giant cattle farm.  Except for Israel, of course!  It is almost impossible to debate such primitive views, especially given that there is a molecule of truth in it — just as the random utterances of a schizophrenic off his meds, marching down the street ranting out loud, occasionally contains a true insight, and the sane person pauses for a second and goes, “Hm… that last bit is actually true!”

My Soapbox

Oh, this is not the first time that Akopov and I have clashed swords.  (Which is actually a hilarious statement on my part, since I am an obscure niche-blogger and Akopov has never heard of me!)  Just last week I called him out on his “interference” in American racial politics — on the side of the neo-Confederacy!  To wit, in his treatment of the Megyn Kelly firing, Akopov used charged words such as “Reverse Discrimination” which are a sort of dog-whistle that Americans get, but many Russians would not really understand the historical context.  Like, that whole little kerfuffle with the Civil War, and the Klan, and all that jazz.

Reporter and political analyst Petr Akopov

Not 100% sure, but I think this is him, according to his own self-written biography:  This man with the intense staring gaze and the grizzled goatee, is 49 years old, a native of Moscow. Was a student at Moscow State Historical Institute.  Became a reporter, travelled to South Ossetia in 1991 as a war correspondent.  Proud of his right-wing, conservative-nationalist views, Akopov nonetheless served his time working for liberal-democratic press such as “Golos”, but then quit in protest for their support of the 1993 Yeltsin coup.  Went on to work for the “Independent Gazette”, “Izvestia”, and many others.  This particular biography only brings him up to 2007, but I think it’s safe to assume that this is our guy.

Anyhow, Akopov is a serious reporter and op-ed writer.  The fact that he has this job with an important online newspaper like VZGLIAD shows that he is influential.  And I feel like it is part of my job as a blogger to review influential Russian opinion.  Also, part of my shtick is to analyze ideologies and attempt to categorize and partition people according to their ideologies.  This, by the way, is an absolutely taboo practice in the United States.  Americans regard the word “ideology” as a dirty word.  Talking about “ideologies” is more taboo than talking about sex, or disclosing one’s salary.  Most Americans deny they even have one.  But basically, everybody has a political ideology, whether they know it or not.  Just like everybody speaks in prose, whether they know it or not.  Most people just have not really thought it through, and hence their ideology is implicit and subliminal, usually a carbon copy of what their ruling class believes.  But for those who really thought it through, it is not an insult to try to peg them into the appropriate pigeon-hole.  In fact, it is a necessary and laudable exercise, just like categorizing plants and animals.  With less scientific accuracy, obviously, since human opinion is more fluid and fuzzy than, say, DNA.

Cassandra’s warning: “Do not import so-called Scientific Racism into Russia!”

But with that said, I think it is fair to categorize Petr Akopov as a proponent of the Russian “conservative-patriotic” ideology.  These types tend to support Putin who is, essentially, one of them.  They are anti-communist and anti-socialist to the core.  Which makes them capitalists, but proponents of their own home-grown capitalist class which they hope will not become compradores of Western imperialism  A section of these people, then starts to blur into the Right-Nationalist milieu.  As in Russian, or possibly pan-Slav Nationalism.  Which, in essence, makes them Doxies.  It don’t matter if they are personally atheists — they can be Atheist-Orthodox!

The dangerous trend that I see, with my Nostradamic clarity, is that some of these guys, including Akopov apparently, appear to have adopted American Alt-Right’s position on the black-white racial issue.  Which is stupid, like I said before, because Russia does not actually have a race problem of its own; so why import this American conflict?  Why takes sides in it at all?  The danger is that the Russian elite, in discarding “enlightened” views, will become infected with this new dangerous American virus called “Scientific Racism”,  This is what I, Cassandra-like, warn against.

And with that final thought, I apologize once again for my erratum, I will try to do better in the future, and I descend from my soapbox…

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10 Responses to ERRATUM with Soapbox

  1. PaulR says:

    My own sense that is the ‘conservative-patriotic types’, as you call them, don’t really regard Putin as ‘one of them’. The Russian president is too much mixed up with the globalizers who by and large run the Russian economy; he’s allowed mass immigration from the Stans; deep down, he sees Russia as part of the West, if only the West would allow it to be; and so on. Still, they support him because they recognize that they won’t find anything more to their liking. Anyway, that’s my take on it.


    • yalensis says:

      Thanks, Professor, that is an interesting theory, and a plausible one.
      Maybe I get diverted by the fact that Putin likes to quote Pan-Slavic and religious philosophers, so I start to think he is one of “them”.
      Come to think of it, your theory is supported by the fact that Putin continues to be very friendly with Israel, even despite recent events, and in the face of the latent anti-Semitism of the “conservative-patriotic” types.
      But also speaks to the fact that Putin is a true phenomenon of the 21st century, a type of Napoleonic figure upon whom everybody projects their own desires and ideologies!


    • Nat says:

      PaulR: “deep down, he sees Russia as part of the West, if only the West would allow it to be; and so on.”

      I doubt they could think that. He only needed to be a second Yeltsin for the West to accept Russia, if that’s what he wanted.

      It’s as Yalensis described, everybody projects their own desires and ideologies on Putin. Liberals/globalizers? His government on the economy side is almost exclusively made of them (Nabiullina, Siluanov, Kudrin, etc). People who dislike the West? He regained Crimea and acted in Syria in complete defiance of what the West wanted. Socialists? His policies, like the “maternity capital ” (материнский капитал) are a dream of socialism and not at all what liberals would advise. And so on and so forth, for almost every ideological current. Even the party Putin leans on, United Russia, has no stated ideology in its name. Other parties are clear: Communist party, Liberal Democratic Party, Just Russia (Justice as in social equality, so pretty much a socialist party), Party of Progress (Navalny’s still unregistered party). While I have no idea what the Yabloko people were thinking when they named their party, United Russia states no major leaning in its name beyond wanting to unite Russians. Unity whatever their ideology. What follows is that any member of any particular ideology can identify with what Putin does that’s along their way of thinking and as a result supports and “adopts” him. Of course, others focus on what he does differently and decries him as a member of any opposite side, but still the majority easily identifies with him.

      Which brings us back to your latest excellent 3-part series “Putin crafts new ideology for Russian statehood”, Yalensis. You wrote in the first part: “The purpose of the forum is providing the masses with a new ideology, and a new purpose, other than Communism.” I think it is mostly trying to give a name to whatever ideology it is whose principle is taking decisions on an individual basis, possibly taking the communist stance, or the liberal stance, or the conservative (or religious, or secular, or nationalist, or pro-west, or Asia-oriented, etc) stance without particularly caring that there is no generally-followed ideology as long as the decision is deemed in the country’s interest. Of course this could easily be called unprincipled and lacking some kind of moral code, which is why Putin and the All People Forum were busy branding it differently. So far, the chosen name for this “ideology” is patriotism and sovereignty over ideology, but not sure if it will be sufficient for the masses as you say. After Putin, in the next presidential elections, will Russians vote for a candidate according to their political ideology, or could there be a second Putin phenomenon where people vote for someone who even though has a clear vision for the path Russia should follow, would have no strong personal ideology he subscribes to?

      On that point, I think that’s where Medvedev failed. People voted for him on the premise that he would largely follow Putin’s way of acting, but he ended up leaning too much on his ideology as a pro-West liberal and in his actions turned out more reminiscent of Yeltsin than of Putin. Now the question of “what’s next” is back again on the table and my take is that Putin is trying to craft a more clear framework and some more clearer guidelines for how his non-ideological ideology works, for the next generation of Russian State officials to follow.


      • yalensis says:

        “his non-ideological ideology…” That is quite brilliant, Nat!
        Overall, an excellent and perceptive comment about Russian politics, thank you very much!
        I can only agree with what you wrote, and add that Putin is a unique historical phenomenon, not unlike Napoleon Bonaparte. Therefore it is highly dubious that his successor could duplicate his tour de force of being everything to everybody. The successor will have to pick an ideology, or at least a party platform, I reckon!


  2. Nat says:

    “But basically, everybody has a political ideology, whether they know it or not. Just like everybody speaks in prose, whether they know it or not.” HAHAHA! Excellent! Putin should take a philosophy professor to inform that of that basic fact 😀


    • yalensis says:

      Putin is the very definition of a respectable Bourgeois Gentilhomme !


      • Nat says:

        Snap 😀 That’s quite the unflattering characterization. And not sure “Bourgeois Gentilhomme” and “respectable” can work together as a combo 😀


        • yalensis says:

          Snap back!
          And not sure if I am being pedantic, but Moliere’s Bourgeois gentilhomme is where I stole that quote about people speaking in prose!

          “Well, what do you know about that! These forty years now, I’ve been speaking
          in prose without knowing it!”

          350 years later, and it’s still funny!


          • Nat says:

            It is indeed! It’s his philosophy professor who informs him of that, Jourdain asking him to help him write something, for the woman he fancies, that in neither prose nor poems. The whole play is hilarious, and Monsieur Jourdain’s character (he is the bourgeois gentilhomme) is very ignorant, pompous, naive and easily manipulated by every other character of the play. His combined vanity and ignorance makes him act in ridiculous ways while he himself thinks he is being a distinguished “gentilhomme”. So “Putin is the very definition of the Bourgeois Gentilhomme” was quite the condemnation 😀


            • yalensis says:

              Arggg! when you put it that way, then my comparison does seem quite unfair.
              In fairness, Putin is not vain nor pompous nor ignorant. Nor is he manipulated by other people.
              He does speak in prose, though, and often even quite winged expressions.
              Speaking of winged expressions, Moliere was a big influence on my favorite Russian playright, Alexander Griboedov.
              Anyhow, you have inspired me to go back and read Gentilhomme again, it’s been a while.
              I think I was only 16 at the time, French lit class, and I barely remember the play, except for that one funny joke about the prose! So I shall re-read it, now that I am in a better position to appreciate it.


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