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Friday, March 21, 2008

EDITORIAL: Schizoid Russia


Schizoid Russia

It's not an exaggeration to say that Russia is a schizophrenic country, in need of a national psychiatrist.

Case in point: Earlier this week, Robert Amsterdam posted a translation from RBC daily commenting on a recent poll by the state-controlled VTsIOM survey agency. In it, RBC points out that there are two explanations for why, according to VTsIOM, 42% of Russians favor their dictator Vladimir Putin with "unequivocal" support -- in other words, they think he's perfect (likely the reason Putin was willing to appear half naked in front of them recently).

The two reasons are:
  • Over the past few years, Russians have started to live better
  • It is possible that not everybody is pleased with what they now have, but at least this is better than to lose everything
So, what Russians are saying is that they like Putin because things are going well and because things are going badly but they don't want them to get much worse.

That's textbook schizophrenia. In fact, it's not only indicative of that problme, but also of the oft-confused dissociative identity disorder, a/k/a "split personality syndrome." In other words, not only don't Russians perceive reality accurately (they're no better off than the were under Yeltsin, except for a few oligarchs) but they can't make up their minds as to what alternative perception to embrace, so they simply choose both of them.

And the reason this is possible is quite simple: There's nobody to tell them not to. Just like a child will guzzle Coke and candy for breakfast if there's no adult to tell him otherwise, if nobody criticizes the government then people assume it's as healthy as candy for breakfast, and they guzzle it down. Just like the famous Emperor with his fabulous suit of imaginary New Clothes, Russia stands naked and oblivious.

Now, there was a time when it was hard to blame the people of Russia for doing this, because we thought they were being victimized by the Soviet dictatorship as much as we were. We thought that, given the chance, they'd choose to live in a society where there was plenty of criticism of the government, and where they'd actively control their government's actions.

But we've been proved wrong. In fact, Russians have never wanted to live in that kind of society. They've never wanted to take responsibility for their actions, instead they've wanted to hand that responsibility blindly to authoritarian rulers and let them do as they like.

Result: Over 40% of Russians currently think Vladimir Putin, a proud KGB spy, is perfect and deserving of unequivocal a support. Of course, at the same time, they also think that no matter how bad he is, anything else would be worse -- which presumably is why they re-elected Boris Yeltsin even though they said they hated him.

Let's be clear: Putin's rule over Russia is not only not perfect, it's a total disaster, even at the most basic level of biology. AEI reports that between 1992 and 2003 Russia lost 3.1% of its population or 4.3 million people even though it had a net addition to the population of 5.5 million via immigration. That means nearly 10 million more native Russians died than were born in that decade, a net loss of 1 million Russians per year. Boris Yeltsin was president of Russia in the 1990s, and he named Vladimir Putin as his successor. If over 40% of Russians think Putin perfect, that must mean they love Yeltsin too. Yet, they say the hate him. And under Putin the trend of population loss has continued unabated. Putin has spent far more time building Russia's military and provoking the United States than he has building Russia's population. No significant policies have been enacted to improve health care, and the only thing the Kremlin has done to increase childbirth is to corruptly bribe parents to have children -- hardly a way to build stable families and a vibrant population. Yet, over 40% of Russians think Putin is perfect -- that means they themselves approve of wiping out huge swaths of Russia's population.

That's only the tip of the iceberg. Putin has alienated every civilized country on the planet, so that now Russia stands utterly alone and faced with a new cold war with the United States. He has crushed the country's ability to receive and process information, both within the political process and the media establishment. He has created a new oligarchy, even as he purported to destroy the one, an oligarchy that drinks the nation's blood like a leech, giving back nothing in return. Rather than resolve Russia's problem of domestic terrorism, he has only exacerbated it, giving the terrorists more and more reason to hate the Kremlin and seek to destroy it. And worst of all, Putin has rehabilitated the secret police, whose malignant misdeeds brought down the USSR and whose destruction was the one shining accomplishment of Boris Yeltsin. Once again, Russians are condemning themselves to live without personal freedom or integrity in exchange for vague and unrealizable promises of nationalist fervor and subsistence.

They condemn themselves, in other words, to merely survive rather than to live, and condemn the rest of the world to decades more fear and torment from their reckless government, until it finally, once again, implodes of its own fetid corpulence.


Anonymous said...

Actually Russia did not reelect Yeltsin, the elections were rigged by Oligarchs with consent and knowledge of USA democrats. This is well documented

La Russophobe said...

That is even worse. It means the Russian people stood by and allowed their votes to be hijacked. Did they then "vote" for Putin? If not, they allowed a second hijacking. Sitting by and allowing your vote to be stolen and a barbaric regime to take power is worse than actually going to the polls and supporting one.

By the way, thanks for documenting your claim and adding value to the blog! People who try to rely on their bare words as if they were "somebody" really annoy us. Glad to see you're not one of them.

Anonymous said...

From the weekly standard:

Russia's elections have had little to do with fairness and democracy. The single exception occurred when Boris Yeltsin first came to power in 1991. It is a poorly kept secret that the 1996 elections that gave him a second term were rigged: Many serious observers believe that Yeltsin might well have lost in a fair fight to Gennadii Zyuganov, head of the Communist party. But that would have been bad for "democracy," and Boris notched a win with a little help from friendly oligarchs. The West bit its tongue.

Concerned Citizen said...

That he can call the elections of 1996 "rigged" after the Putin-worshipping bachanalia of the 2008 "elections" at least shows that Mr Anonymous has a sense of humor.