Давно замыслили мы дело; Теперь оно кипит у нас. Благое время нам приспело; Борьбы великой близок час. Без милой вольности и славы Склоняли долго мы главы Под покровительством Варшавы, Под самовластием Москвы. Но независимой державой Украйне быть уже пора. [Mazepa explaining the sitrep to his wife, in Pushkin's poem Poltava]: We've been plotting this thing for a long time; And now it's finally brewing. It's the right time now; The hour of the great battle has arrived. Not possessing any sweet freedom or glory of our own, For a long time we were forced to bow our heads Before the protectorate of Poland, Or the autocratic rule of Moscow. But the time has finally arrived For Ukraine to be an independent state. [yalensis: Under Swedish protectorate? hahaha!]
I like to show that quote sometimes to Putinites who continue to mouth the silliness that Ukrainian Nationalism (or, in its milder form, ethnic self-awareness) is just something that Lenin and the Evil Bolsheviks invented, in order to re-gift lands which rightfully belonged to Mother Russia. My ideological point being: “Maybe, just maybe Lenin and even Stalin, and even Khrushchev, just maybe knew what they were doing sometimes, and by the way they weren’t the ones who got us into this colossal mess…”
Fact is, as the great poet Pushkin demonstrated, Ukrainian Nationalism was a thing, long before Lenin was born. It’s just that Lenin had a more clever way of dealing it than the current crop of Russian leaders. Lenin had the benefit of a correct geopolitical analysis: He understood that, behind every form of nationalism, there stand specific class forces. For example, behind Great Russian chauvinism stood the forces of the Russian landowner class and big industrial bourgeoisie, backed by the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church. Whereas the class basis of Ukrainian Nationalism was the Cossack Hetmans, like Mazepa, who sought to confiscate the lands of the Polish szlachta for the benefit of themselves. After which, becoming great landowners themselves, the Cossack hierarchy proceeded to brutalize the Ukrainian serfs no less ardently than the Poles had ever done.
Speaking of Marxist analysis, I had a professor once who explained to his class the true roots of the 1648 Cossack uprisings on the Left Bank of the Dniepr. (It’s way complicated, of course, this is just the nutshell version, going to root cause analysis.) While serfdom and feudalism were weakening in Western Europe and ordinary people were becoming freer, the exactly opposite was happening in Eastern Europe (like, Ukraine and Russia, for example). Why? There was a cause and effect relationship: The burgeoning population of Western Europe, the growth of urban centers, required the importation of grain to feed these happy newly free people. The serfs of Russia and Ukraine found themselves losing many of their hard-won rights, basically turned into slaves (this phenomenon was called “The Second Serfdom”), their only function being, as drones, to grow and harvest grain for export. By becoming the “Breadbasket of Europe”, these unhappy people thus became the slaves of happy Western Europe, in essence. Their misery was the precondition for the joie de vivre of their Western consumers.
The centuries march by, and little changes… For those people who don’t possess the tool of the Marxist analysis, well, they are doomed to swat at tangential realities, things which certainly do exist, but not at the scale of importance that are ascribed. Like seeing something out of the corner of your eye: It’s there, but you just don’t know whether it’s significant or not. It’s like when you are pawing through the blogosphere to find news of the war: Who is winning? And you see images of Azovites prancing like chimpanzees on a destroyed Russian tank. They destroyed a tank – yay! That means they are winning, right? But to see the true story, one needs to change one’s perspective, move way back, like an artist painting a distant panorama, you need to look at all the tanks in play, their numerical distribution…
Don’t Send Flowers, Send Flour
Before getting back to news of the Ukrainian harvest, here is a quickie report from a different part of the world: Gruzia. The reporter is Alexandra Yudina. It’s a bit curious and cryptic and, again, I’m not sure if there is a weighted significance to this report.
There is a man named Levan Silagava, who heads the Association of Wheat and Grain Manufacturers in Gruzia. Levan is very worried about the situation with wheat. Apparently, the Gruzian government is wont to import wheat from Russia; after which Levan and his friends grind it up in their mills: Levan: “Several months ago they started to very aggressively import a type of flour (мука) into our country, which was supposed to replace wheat (пшеница). Today we have gotten to that situation in which the stores of wheat which we had earlier, are practically gone. In just the last few days, the mills have stopped grinding.”
Silagava says that the Gruzian government lowered the import taxes on this flour to zero. However, the tariff on wheat continues to float and is currently around $120 dollars per ton. He adds that the United Nations recommends that all nations maintain a minimum of at least 2 months supply of wheat.
Annually, Gruzia consumes up to 650,000 tons of wheat. Of which it produces around 15% of its own needs. The rest is imported. Of which 90% comes from Russia. The article sort of peters off at that point, so it is left to guess why there is a problem with the wheat imports, although one can make an educated guess. War notwithstanding, both Russia and Ukraine had record wheat harvests just now, in the spring of 2022. Anyhow, the lede is that they have this mystery flour now, to replace the missing wheat, but the reporter doesn’t say where this wonderful flour comes from.
[to be continued]
“And you see images of Azovites prancing like chimpanzees on a destroyed Russian tank.”
Well, we’ll frequently see images of what Ukrainians claim is a Russian tank. Much of the time it was actually Ukrainian, and they just painted a Z on the wreck.
I know! Have you seen the latest Ukie fake, it’s a gem. I saw this on the Shariy channel, but he got it from CNN.
Apparently there was a crime committed in some Kiev suburb, two armed men robbed an auto dealership and murdered two guys who worked there in the front office.
So, the Ukrainian propagandists edited a video, using parts of the CCTV footage, in which they claimed the crime was committed by Russian soldiers. The most hilarious part (well, it’s not actually funny, given that two ordinary working guys actually died) is when they edit in a white van driving up to the scene of the crime, allegedly containing the Russian killers. The van is painted with a message, in broken Russian, reading something like “Russian Spetznaz Van RUS V”. (In this case, they decided on a V instead of a Z.)
That’s ridiculous. But here’s a more consequential (to the war as a whole) recent example: Ukraine is claiming they stopped a Russian crossing of the Seversky Donets river, and inflicted heavy losses on the Russians.
They’ve provided photos of a bunch of burned out armored vehicles as proof. Here’s the problem (aside from the fact that there is now heavy fighting west of the river. I guess Russia has invented a teleporter): most of the destroyed vehicles are clearly BMP-1s with an old turret design that Russia no longer uses.
I have been following that Donets River crossing very closely (too closely, almost to the point of obsession!) on war blogs and social media. This is an absolutely strategic thing for the Russian side, here is what is going on, starting back from the bigger picture:
The “final” stage in taking back the full borders of Luhansk Oblast consists of the encirclement and capture of the “conglomerated triangle” consisting of the twin cities Lisichansk and Severny Donetsk. In order to get to that point, Russians need to bring troops across the Donets River from the Right Bank to the Left Bank (which, in this case, corresponds to the North side to the South side, as the River flows somewhat horizontally here).
Anyhow, the Russians apparently tried several times to build a pontoon bridge and get men across (along with heavy equipment). The first time was a bust. Ukrainian long-range artillery is set up in Lisichansk high-rise apartment buildings and was able to pick them off and destroy the pontoon. On second and third attempts, apparently Russians WERE able to get some guys and tanks and cannons across. They stashed a lot of equipment in the nearby forest, and then headed North on foot. Some of the equipment were destroyed by Ukrainian artillery, with the help of drones. These are the pictures that Ukrainians are parading all over the internet. Some is destroyed, but some is still intact and waiting for their owners to return.
Ukrainians are boasting that they destroyed all the pontoons and equipment and killed thousands of Russian soldiers. The Ukrainians definitely won this battle on social media, for them it’s a huge PR victory.
Russians are keeping mum, and for sure they did take some losses, but it also seems like enough of them got through to now start encircling Severny Donetsk. Everybody was expecting them to start with Lisichansk and move North, but they surprised people by coming around the other way.
Just saw this piece, by the way, in which Rodion Miroshnik (LPR) is talking about the imminent siege of those twin cities. There is also speculation this is the reason why American Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin telephoned Shoigu and asked for a ceasefire. The Americans would not be asking for a ceasefire if they had destroyed all those pontoon bridges and a full brigade of Russians, like they say they did.
Best place to follow this saga on a day-to-day basis, IMHO, is “Defense Politics Asia” site (just go into youtube and punch in “Defense Politics Asia”, he posts almost every day).
Wyatt (a Chinese-Malayan from Singapore) has built himself a loyal community there, he is beloved by his followers for his humor and the endearing way he butchers Slavic place names. His English is good, but not fluent. On one occasion he slipped up and called the ponton bridge a “tampon bridge”. After that it became an in-joke within that community, so don’t be surprised if you hear Wyatt or his commenters alluding to the so-called tampon bridge.
Quite a bloody affair, from what I have heard…
While there may have been some number of Kievan Rus who fancied themselves ‘Ukrainians’, the borders of such a state would not at all map to what modern Ukraine lays claim to. I’m sure any number of Russian colonists living in the newly built cities of Novarossiya would have been very surprised to learn they were ‘Ukrainians’.
I’m going to laugh hard if Poland does actually move in a ‘peacekeeping’ force into Western Ukraine, like keeps being rumored. Because, assuming this doesn’t just lead to WW3 and us all dying, this means one of the outcomes of this whole decades long Ukrainian nationalist chimpout will be the resurgence of Polish Galicia.
I used to almost secretly root for the idea of Polish troops moving in and taking Lvov.
Then my mind changed abruptly a few days ago, one of the Polish leaders (either the Prez or the PM, I can never get them straight) openly stated, in so many words, that he hated Russia SO MUCH that he literally could not stand to live in a world that still had a Russia in it.
After that, I was, like, don’t let these bastards take Lvov, no way! If Russia can’t have it, I’d rather even let Nazi Azov Battalion keep Lvov than turn it over to the Poles, that’s just how much those guys ticked me off!
Мука according to google just mean flower, generically. Any flower from any cereal.
That makes sense as the guy said that “the mills stopped grinding”. So, instead of importing grain, they import flower…where from?.
Considering that all flower is prone to rather quick spoiling and insect (larvae) attacks compared to whole grain, the question is: which country is close enough to ensure fast delivery? Any guesses?
Flour of course, not flower..
Yup, “flour”. It happens to be pronounced identical to “flower”, so these two words are homonyms. Anyhow, I am very curious myself, where this mystery “flour” is coming from. Please tell me it’s not Monsanto GMO!
I guess it is the usual cock up when governments play politics with necessary supplies. They likely source the undefined flour from a nearby country, that is using grain from Russia, and by processing it claim it as their product, not mentioning the actual
source. Gruzia (Georgia), similar to the USA still importing sanctioned Russian oil with some trickery, or Poland importing Russian gas from Germany, however, manages with that stunt to push its local milling industry to the brink. But who cares, the face is saved and Gruzia does shun officially Russian grain.
The amount of bullshit that is produced and spread by those sanctions imposed on Russia is hard to fathom in its smelly extent.
And now Germany decided to freeze too unless they find some way to import Russian gas by some means fair or foul as long as they can maintain they do NOT pay in rubles.
It might be politics all the way down, but it’s economics all the way up. When the surface becomes too disconnected, it crusts and scabs off eventually.
The future is a continuation of the past, until it becomes a reaction to it.
If that pre-milled flour actually comes from Russia originally, then I reckon you could call it “reverse flour” (like reverse gas!)
Personally, I think it’s unsafe to eat something if you don’t know where it comes from. Ditto with products that have been mixed together from different sources.
People should demand clear labeling and provenance for everything that goes into their mouths!
Thanks, yalensis – very interesting analysis of the historic roots of Ukrainian nationalism. Slight niggle: the people in western Europe around 1648 were not all living ‘joyful’ lives. The French must’ve done and the Spaniards – but what is now Germany had been utterly devastated by the 30-years-war, losing one third of their population, while in England people were living under Cromwell and the Puritans where even Christmas celebrations were forbidden, never mind having gone through a civil war as well.
Btw – about that puzzle regarding wheat and ‘a different flour’ – this is of course anecdotal, but friends in England tell me that their bread seems to have changed in taste and loo and that the baker said they’re now using different flour. Possibly a question of cost, trying to keep the price of bread down by using cheaper flour.
In any case, haven’t the health apostle told us for years that wheat and wheat flour is bad for our health and we shouldn’t eat it? Perhaps we’re seeing the birth of a new class divide: those who are rich eat wheaten bread – those who are poor must make do with barley and rye bread – just like in medieval, feudal times …
Also meant to say: thanks for pointing me to iEarlGrey! I’ve become an addict now …
I’m glad you like him too. I think he’s pretty cool. When I first saw him I thought he was just a boy. Turns out (he mentioned at one point) he has a grown 19-year-old daughter, so he must be older than he looks!
Blimey – he must be! I do like the way he’s laid out the screen: giving the news/sites/papers he deals with the large screen space and reserving that small left-hand corner for himself. That indicates that the news are important, not himself. And doesn’t he have a very nice voice!
I forget if he mentioned it verbally, or was responding to something in the comments. He mentioned that he is married to a Russian girl (thus explaining what he’s doing in St. Petersburg!) and that they have a small child together. Then he mentioned that he has 2 daughters from a previous marriage (presumably in England). The context is that he was trying to get them to come and live with him in Russia, but their mother (his ex-wife) is apparently opposed to that. However, the older of the two girls is 19, so she will become independent at some point, and then maybe he can see more of her.
In-te-res-ting!! Given the general laissez-faire family policy in the UK, perhaps he and his English wife had their daughters when they were still at Uni? So he could be early 40s – not bad, and just the right time for a man to go and look for pastures new …
Btw, at 19 his daughter is legally ‘adult’ and can do what she likes, e.g. go and live with her dad in Russia.
I’m not apologising for sicking my nose into family affairs of foreigners/strangers: it’s one of the few privileges we old ladies have left. Think: Miss Marple ….
Well, hopefully you will not need to solve any murders in the drawing room. Candlestick shortage, by the way. Sanctions, you know.
Indeed,e specially since there’s no vicarage, never mind a library, around here. Candlestick shortage? I saw it coming … have got myself several small ones ‘for Christmas’ 2021, 100 candles and enough matches for all of them. Not needed as of yet but who knows … One wants to be able to read one’s books (real books) by candlelight when electricity is rationed. Also, candles give up a bit of heat, so win-win.
Now that you mention it, in 1648 the Spaniards were probably fairly miserable as well. I mean, didn’t they still have the Spanish Inquisition? And even at a time when nobody really expected it.
Well commented, yalensis, very well commented indeed!
Myka is, presumably, Soylent Green (eek!)
C’mon, Stephen. Everybody KNOWS it was Soylent Green, but we were supposed to pretend we didn’t know. One simply doesn’t speak about such things in polite company.
Oh, all right. Since the cat is out of the bag, let me just state, that we have all been eating Soylent Green for quite a long time. It’s organic and perfectly safe. I personally prefer my Soylent Green on a cracker with some marmite as well. Good for the digestion!
If you are interested in getting the history of the change and at the same time getting a theoretical explanation of what happened in the 17th century, I suggest fairly easy to read books by I Wallerstein, “The Modern World System Vol 1” and L.S. Stavrianos “Global Rift: The Third World Comes of Age (1981)”
Thanks, Svante, I’ll check it out! This was truly a pivotal time in European history.
How far back do you want to step? Some ideas to consider;
A spiritual absolute would logically be the essence of sentience, from which we rise, not an ideal of wisdom and judgement, from which we fell. The light shining through the film, than the images on it.
To the Ancients, monotheism equated with monoculture. One people, one rule, one god. Remember the formative experience for Judaism was the forty years in the desert. Democracy and republicanism originated in pantheistic cultures, as that was an aspect of how they tolerated multiculturalism(long story). The Romans adopted Christianity as the Empire solidified and remnants of the Republic faded. Basically to validate rule by the Big Guy, on top.
So the default political model for the next 1500 years was monarchy. When the West went back to more broad based political systems, it required separation of church and state, culture and civics.
I could go on, but one of the essential points is how reality is more a function of the tension between opposites, yin and yang, than it is one singular entity, material, or being. When you have an entire culture premised on the assumption of ideals as absolute, it tends toward a serious mental rigidity. We all end up spiraling into the abyss in the center, rather than balanced somewhere between too far in and too far out. Between the absolute and the infinite.
Thank you for these very deep thoughts, brodix.
When you talk about yin and yang, I think a lot of interesting things happen on the “clash” of civilizations. Like, when two different civilizations meet (for example, European Crusaders vs Ottomans), some very interesting things happen, and not all of it is violent.
People are changed fundamentally in the interstices between civilizations.
Regarding the mental “model” of monotheism vs polytheism, I always gravitated to the latter, even as a child. Reading the Bible (especially the Old Testament), I found myself secretly rooting for the Philistines over the Hebrews, and the God Ba’al over Yahweh.
Ba’al just seemed more cosmopolitan to me, plus he had a lot of colleagues, so it seemed more democratic. I always figured, if you didn’t like one particular god or goddess, you could just pick another one to be your secret friend. In monotheism you don’t really have any choices, as a consumer of godly beings. It’s Yah-way/My-Way or The Highway!
Exactly. Your ideal might not be someone else’s ideal. One person’s signal is another’s noise. The problem is when the culture is built around one set of rules, it tends to spiral into the abyss/black hole/eye of the storm in the middle. The two essential dynamics, are synchronization, which is centripetal and harmonization, which is centrifugal. Which goes to the basis of reality, that’s why there are nodes and networks, organisms and ecosystems, particles and fields. So our culture tends to be focused on the individual, the atom and lose sight of the networks/fields giving rise to them.
One point that occurred to me several decades ago, is we view time backward. As mobile organisms, our experience is a sequence of perceptions, in order to navigate, so we sense the point of the present, moving past to future. Physics codifies it as measures of duration.
The reality is that change turns future to past. Tomorrow becomes yesterday, because the earth turns. Duration is the present, as the events coalesce and dissolve.
There is no literal dimension of time, because the past is consumed by the present, to inform and drive it. Causality and conservation of energy. Cause becomes effect.
Energy is conserved, because it is the present, creating time, as well as temperature, pressure, color and sound. Time is frequency, events are amplitude.
Ideal gas laws correlate volume with temperature and pressure, but we don’t refer to them as dimensions of space, even though they are as foundational to our emotions and bodily functions, as time is to the sequence of thought.
So different clocks can run at different rates simply because they are separate actions. Think metabolism.
That culture is about getting everyone following the same rules, using the same measures, it might seem there should be some universal flow of time, but it’s rabbit time, turtle time, etc. The turtle is still plodding along, long after the rabbit has died.
It is the fact that everything doesn’t march to the beat of the same drummer, that nature is so diverse and so integrated.
I can dig this hole much deeper, but here is an essay I put up on medium;
Thanks for your comments and essay, John! You sound like a very wise philosopher.
I spent my life in farming and raising and training racehorses, so on the line between nature and culture.
That’s awesome! I might just ask you for a tip on the next race at Saratoga.
How about Rich Strike!
I guess as in lots of fields, the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.
Personally my family is a lot more engrossed by it than I’ve been. I just like the living and working outside. Usually too tired to do much more than read, so I’m mostly just self educated.
Yes, proper work, especially outside, does make one tired in a good way.
As for being self-educated: I think that is how we used to be before the ‘educational blob’ came into being, according to which nobody without a ‘paper certificate’ is allowed to open their mouths because they are not ‘experts’ … I think that anyone who doesn’t self-educate after having left school or college is wasting their lives. I suggest that actually most of us here are self-educated. I certainly am, in such areas as ‘climate’, ‘virology’, and now military matters. Not making use of the facilities offered by the internet, to educate oneself, but to sit smug one one’s behind because one knows it all anyway and the smartphone ‘likes’ show that one is as clever and knowledgeable as all the other twatterati – that is what is truly deplorable.
Fully agree. I try to learn and study as much as I can, you gotta keep your brain active. Even this war, albeit horrific, has taught me a lot, I think. At least I know the difference now between a battalion and a brigade! Before you know it I’ll be a 4-star general.
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I knew enough about debt at 20, in 1980, that when Reagan was elected and the debt started going parabolic, the whole situation was on borrowed time. Much of our current culture and the political propaganda really is an instinctive avoidance of this fact and we are reaching the point where the going bankrupt is sliding from the gradual to the total. I suspect this summer will be a real breakdown, driven by a lot of factors, of which the Ukraine situation will be a big one, but not the only one. The rest of the world is starting to smell blood in the water.
Eesh, I think you’re right. The collapse is coming, and I fear it for selfish reasons.
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Thanks! I have a lot of fun with the pictures and captions. More fun that I should, really…