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Friday, July 28, 2006

LRant (an Editorial): Vladimir Putin, Neo-Soviet Gorilla

"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you"

-- Frank Lloyd Wright

Um, yeah. OK, Mr. Wright, sure. We'll be sure to tell that to the families of all the victims of the Asian Tsunami and the San Franscico Earthquake and the Krakatau eruption and all the millions of other victims of natural disasters during the short history of humanity on the planet. We'll be sure to remind all the mothers of children killed by malaria-laden mosqitoes and killer ants and killer bees and eaten by tigers and struck down by all manner of diseases and infestations, we're sure your insightful words will be great comfort to them. And when our little daughters ask why daddy lions eat little girl lions for breakfast, we'll quote you to her and she'll be bound to sleep like a baby. As a philosopher, sir, you're a truly brilliant architect.

People can be such total morons, can't they? Even geniuses. And now, with that in mind, to business . . .

When the Cold War ended badly for Russia, crude uneducated Soviet thugs like Vladimir Putin had two choices.

They could admit that the past several decades of their lives had been absurd flights of egomania and get down to the hard work of saving their country from oblivion.

Or they could attribute the downfall of the USSR to bad luck and a few mistakes that anyone could have made, and they could set about to do it all over again, but this time the "right" way.

Guess which one Putin chose.

Of course, it always turns out to be harder to do a thing in practice than in theory. If you're a government official with a tiny little gorilla brain, for instance, you might think: "I need some money. Well, OK, I'm a government official, I'll just print some." Or you might think: "Gee, I don't like that fellow. Well, OK, I'm a government official, I'll just invent some taxes that he doesn't know about and arrest him for not paying them."

Now, to be sure, all government officials have thoughts like these. But as you may have noticed, not all of them actually put their thoughts into practice. If you just start printing money, for instance, then suddenly money is everywhere and anyone can get some, and pretty soon money doesn't have any value at all, and a loaf of bread starts costing as much as house used to. It's a problem.

But Russia is not afraid of taking such chances, never has been. That's why, as La Russophobe recently reported, the Kremlin has no problem simply inventing taxes and tax rules that nobody has ever heard of and using them to bludgeon anyone the Kremlin doesn't like, particularly charitable and defenseless NGOs and foreign investors. Apparently, the Kremlin has never seen the movie Star Wars. If it had, it might have thought to itself before throwing Mikhail Khodorkovsky into prison, that it might be making him much more powerful by doing so, just like Darth Vader made Obi Wan Kenobi more powerful by killing him. Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King weren't reduced by being imprisoned, they were empowered and enobled. If Gorilla Putin really thinks that he is somehow improving on the ham-handed behavior of his Soviet predecessors which brought the USSR tumbling down, he's truly mental.

And, worse than simply printing money, the Kremlin has no problem hoarding it. It isn't spending a single cent of Russia's oil price windfall on domestic investment, but rather piling it up in a mountain like the dragon Smaug in J.R.R. Tolkein's The Hobbit (or, to be more precise, like all the failed dictatorships of the past).

So now the Russian people have two choices.

They can admit that the past several years of their lives had been absurd flights of egomania and get down to the hard work of saving their country from oblivion. They can realize that if they were right in hating Boris Yeltsin then they were insane to annoint his chosen successor as their ruler.

Or they can attribute the downfall of the USSR to bad luck and a few mistakes that anyone could have made, and they can set about to do it all over again, but this time the "right" way.

Guess which one they'll choose.

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