May 9, 2015

"Having craved and even mythologised America in the 80s and 90s, Russians feel they have been snubbed."

"Despite their wealth and embrace of Western lifestyles, Russia’s elite feel they have not been accepted by the West as equals," explains The Economist, in "The Economist explains/How Russians see the West."


Roughcoat said...

"The essential clue to Russian literature, as indeed to the mysterious Russian character, is that all Russians are shits. They know they are shits, that their whole repulsive society is based on a succession of lies which nobody really believes. The only proof that they are not, as Hitler believed, morally sub-human, is to be found in their occasional propensity to despair and suicide."

-- Auberon Waugh


Scott said...

Russia has had an inferiority complex about the West going back to the czars. They need to realize that the key to cultural acceptance is bringing something to the table that is uniquely theirs and that others desire.

Putin should be asking: What can Russia produce that is so desirable that people in other countries want it?

French: Food and fashion.
Germany: Cars.
Italy: Food and fashion.
Britain: Repurposing anything that's American.

Bob Boyd said...

Russians are the white males Saida Grundy was talking about.

Sebastian said...

"their occasional propensity to despair and suicide."

About which they can (used to?) wax artistic most beautifully.

"What can Russia produce that is so desirable that people in other countries want it?"

Best literature. Problem is, it's old, and we've got it.

Best movie ever made. We've got that, too.

Best musicians of all time. We've got their recordings.

Some of the best composers of all time, not top five perhaps but close.

Maybe Russian music deserves a post sometime, just to make the Russians feel respected?

buwaya said...

Russia almost broke through back around 1900-1914.
They were hot stuff and trendy. Read Orlando Figes, "Natasha's Dance".
The last bits of that fit of genius tailed off into the 1960s.
Nabokov was the last of the old school and Solzhenitsyn the last really great talent.
There hasn't been anything really Russian out of Russia, that's clicked elsewhere, since.
Probably because way too much of the talent was removed by methods depicted in The Chekist - Rogohzkin.
Its free on Youtube. Warning. Its not for the sensitive.

JSD said...

The only thing of value is oil, gas, mining and timber, which was appropriated by oligarchs. And even that they fuck up. The oil and gas fields are ecological disasters and fraught with cheating. Misclassifying and blending different qualities of crude for short term gain, making the refining business another disaster. The French make better vodka. Hell, we make better vodka in Texas. Nobody will ever manufacture anything for export in Russia. Except for parts of Moscow and St. Petersburg, the whole country is a frozen backward shithole.

Chris N said...

Some seriously good musicians and writers, many excellent thinkers, scientists, engineers, mathematicians, athletes that the Soviet system produced and that survived despite the Soviet system this past century.

In the meantime, many Russians, thank your for, on some level, embracing Western ideas and concepts of Western ideas. Many of them work pretty well.

On the other hand, you've got a frustrated de Sovieted population under a corrupt to the top government, run by an authoritarian ex KGB thug overseeing a purifying nationalist push through a many tentacled slimy protection racket and petro-State.

Your birth rates are low and your borders long. Nostalgia is thick and heavy so many of you will probably just keep looking around, cursing, making threats and spitting on the ground like an old woman.

Gabriel said...

"Having craved and even mythologised America in the 80s and 90s, Russians feel they have been snubbed: Despite their wealth and embrace of Western lifestyles, Russia’s elite feel they have not been accepted by the West as equals."

If this exercise in mind-reading has produced an accurate result, then the problem explains itself.

Acceptance is not about money or consumption. Those things may help, or they may hurt.

ussmidway said...

Flipping thru channels in my hotel, I ran across a channel I had never watched, Russia Today, (RT). They were reveling in the 70th Anniversary of V-E Day, representing it as almost entirely a Soviet victory. To the extent allies were mentioned, it was in the context of their participation in official events in Moscow.

The propaganda was heavy and relentless. They showed a shot of the US. Capitol with a homeless encampment in the foreground, they described the Ukranians as traitors during the Great Patriotic War and they mentioned but never showed the celebrations occurring in other former soviet client states. Putin gave a long speech on the growing dangers that recall the volatile period before the War, making the case for a persecuted and threatened nation.

It was all very 1975 as channeled through current technology with BBC-like, British hosts for this show that goes worldwide. Gone are the Russian accents and poor production standards, very polished and modern. If they need to reframe reality so aggressively, it could be seen as another indication of their weakness.

buwaya said...

Not true about Russians not making things to export. Yes they can. Not as much as they should.
- Kaspersky antivirus software
- Zvezda (plastic models - beautiful stuff if you are in that hobby)
- Tula cartridge plant - makes tremendous volumes of cheap ammunition. World leader really. And several others in that business.
- Sukhoi aircraft. They do quite a lot of business, mainly foreign military sales.
Just some samples.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Vodka, weapons, oil and whores. And brains, true. Anyone with brains wants out.

YoungHegelian said...

Having craved and even mythologised America in the 80s and 90s, Russians feel they have been snubbed

Like much of the rest of the world, the Russians never had a clue about that America they craved & mythologized. It was just the better "Other", the "Golden Land", as 19th C Askenazi immigrants from eastern Europe called it.

They still don't have a clue, not only about the US, but about the rest of the world, too. They don't understand why their neighboring countries hate them. They don't understand why so much Soviet diplomacy ultimately floundered because the countries they dealt with ending up absolutely loathing the Soviets (read Russians).

At root, the Russians simply don't understand that just because they treat each other like shit as SOP, that doesn't mean the rest of the world wants to be treated like shit by them. Until the Russians understand that, nothing will change for them.

Mountain Maven said...

I have never met a Russian that I thought highly of, and every story I hear from friends and acquaintances confirms this, particularly in business dealings. My Russian neighbor tried to kill his wife and daughter because the wife was cheating on him.
The stories are even worse than stories about Muslims and Arabs.

Scott said...

I had a Russian trainer at my gym a number of years ago. I liked her a lot. She knew her stuff and was pleasant but firm.

Also, at a prior job I worked with a Russian woman. She was absolutely dedicated to doing a good job.

Maybe I'm meeting the wrong kind of Russians, but my experiences have been positive.

YoungHegelian said...


Maybe I'm meeting the wrong kind of Russians, but my experiences have been positive.

No, Russians who have made a deliberate decision to leave that culture behind can be wonderful people. But, in a country full of them, the culture takes over.

For a good sampling of what I mean by the culture of abuse, read Dostoyevsky's The Idiot.

Joseph Blieu said...

The best export of Russia is Mathematics. They have a solid brick by brick genius. Tchebychev was an artist.

Jon said...

Your birth rates are low

Russian fertility is rising, US fertility is falling. The numbers currently stand at 1.7 children per Russian woman, 1.9 per American woman.

They were reveling in the 70th Anniversary of V-E Day, representing it as almost entirely a Soviet victory

It WAS almost entirely a Soviet victory. Most historians agree that even if the USA had never entered the war, the USSR would almost certainly still have won, and would probably have at least repelled the Nazi invasion even without Lend-Lease. 80% of the German war effort was focused on the Eastern front. Americans have been brainwashed by Hollywood to think that America saved the world and D-Day was the most important battle of the war, but actually the real turning point was Stalingrad. The truth is that the Normandy invasion was irrelevant to the Nazi defeat: If it had failed or never taken place, the result wouldn't have been a Nazi victory, it would have been the Soviets occupying all of Germany.

They don't understand why their neighboring countries hate them

Except for the neighboring countries that are joining Russia's Eurasian Economic Union (now the world's fifth largest economy, after the EU, USA, China, and Japan).

RichardJohnson said...

Why are Russians being snubbed? This book helps explain. It Was a Long Time Ago, and It Never Happened Anyway: Russia and the Communist Past
From the Amazon review:

Russia today is haunted by deeds that have not been examined and words that have been left unsaid. A serious attempt to understand the meaning of the Communist experience has not been undertaken, and millions of victims of Soviet Communism are all but forgotten. In this book David Satter, a former Moscow correspondent and longtime writer on Russia and the Soviet Union, presents a striking new interpretation of Russia's great historical tragedy, locating its source in Russia's failure fully to appreciate the value of the individual in comparison with the objectives of the state.

A country under the control of Rus-Putin is not a country that its neighbors can love. Just ask the Ukranians. And I know a lot more people of Ukrainian descent in the US than I do people of Russian descent.

YoungHegelian said...


It WAS almost entirely a Soviet victory.

Oh, nonsense. WWII was, as the name says, a world war. The only place the Red Army fought was in its homeland or pushing forward from its borders. Even then, forward momentum in victory after victory on the Eastern Front stalled because Soviet logistics were so abominable that the forward units could simply not be supplied. Compare that to the American & British war efforts that were successfully maintaining supply lines to North Africa & the remotest parts of the Pacific.

The Soviet victories in the East could be followed up on because the Americans & Chinese kept the Japanese Army from ever re-engaging in Soviet Siberia, the British campaign in north Africa starved the Reich of oil, & the Americans until early 1944 kept everyone (British, Chinese, Soviet) supplied.

I don't want to underplay the depth of human suffering during WWII of the Soviet Union, but much of their misery was self-inflicted stupidity from 1938 until early 1943. That the Soviets ever got the chance to rise again after the massive defeats of 1940-41 had much to do with Allied support.

Skeptical Voter said...

Sorry Russians, my TS card is all full up.

Steven said...

Seriously. Give the Germans unrestricted oil and tungsten imports, industrial production unaffected by strategic bombing, the ability to send all air assets to the East, the Afrika Corps and all the Balkan occupation troops on the Eastern Front, and a Russia minus most of its (Lend-Lease) fighter planes and trucks, and the only question is how long it takes for the Germans to win, not if.

On the other hand, assume the Soviets out-and-out surrender to the Germans in, say, January of '42. Then the question is, do the Germans surrender in '45 under the first few atomic bombs, or do they wait for the pace to reach fortnightly city annihilation in '46?

etbass said...

Wow, what a Russian commentariat! Of course, I'm easily impressed.

Ron said...

I believe that every train in Russia during the war came from US Lend Lease, as well as 60% of their trucks. Not to mention aircraft like the P39! The Russians didn't exactly help themselves with the officer purges just before the war either!

World War...not just Great Patriotic War.

Fen said...

Interesting. This feeling is the same one that led to Germany launching WW1.

Fen said...

"If it had failed or never taken place, the result wouldn't have been a Nazi victory, it would have been the Soviets occupying all of Germany."

Highly unlikely, as that would have justified General Patton's call to join Germany in wiping out Russia.

The Godfather said...

"a reminder to Russians that their overwhelming contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany was never properly recognised by Britain and America."

Well, let's see:

-- They got to keep the part of the Nazi Empire that they conquered.

-- The US and Britain supplied the wherewithal for a big part of the Soviet war effort.

-- They got to rape a very large percentage of the female German population.

-- We politely didn't mention that they made it possible for Hitler to start the f*cking war by invading Poland.

I think we "recognised" their efforts just fine.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

Fly-over country, but no labels! You're not their cup of coffee.

Happy V-Day!

Jon said...

A country under the control of Rus-Putin is not a country that its neighbors can love. Just ask the Ukranians.

You'll get very different answers depending on whether you ask the Ukrainians in the west, or the ones in the east (who are Russia's actual neighbors).

Jon said...

The fact is that not only did Russia bear 95% of the Allied casualties, it was the only one of the Allies whose contribution was essential to the Nazi defeat.

The USA and USSR would have defeated Germany without the UK. The UK and USSR would probably have defeated Germany without the USA. But the USA and UK could not have defeated Germany without the USSR.

Drago said...

Jon: "It WAS almost entirely a Soviet victory. Most historians agree that even if the USA had never entered the war, the USSR would almost certainly still have won, and would probably have at least repelled the Nazi invasion even without Lend-Lease."



The only thing, and I mean the only thing, that kept the German Army out of Moscow was Hitlers unwarranted fear of Russian forces to his south in several remaining "pockets" which led to the redirect of Army Group Center to the Ukraine when Moscow was literally in sight of German advance forces and the war on the Eastern Front were within victorious German reach.

Had Hitler simply hewed to the plan underlying Operation Barbarossa he would have continued to move his armor and support units east to Moscow despite these few holdout pockets and the Germans would have wintered in relative comfort after driving the Soviets out of Moscow and more than likely causing the fall of Stalins gov't which was hanging by a thread.

Yeah, the idea that WWII was almost entirely a Soviet victory is ludicrous on it's face and the continued promulgation of that idea is no doubt simply a continuation of the love affair between western academics and media types and international socialism.

YoungHegelian said...


The fact is that not only did Russia bear 95% of the Allied casualties,

The Red Army bore casualties like that mostly because of their incompetence. You know the history of the first few months of Barbarossa - a million troops captured or dead for the first five months. Defeated by German forces when the Red Army had more men, more tanks, & until their air force was destroyed on the ground in the opening of Barbarossa, more planes. All because Stalin would not act, in spite of what was happening right before his eyes.

And what happened after Stalin brought in 40 divisions from Siberia to defend Moscow in 11/1941? Moscow was saved, but those 40 divisions were soon ground to nothing for absolutely no gain in ill-conceived advances against the re-grouped Wehrmacht. Forty divisions! For nothing!

No, Soviet casualties were just one more example of Russia's brutality against its own people. That the Allies cared for the lives of their troops, as befits the soldiers of democracies, is a sign of their honor.

Drago said...

More interesting tidbits:

By July 19th of 41, Bock's Army Group had already annihilated 113 of 160 Soviet divisions placed between it and Moscow and Bock's Army Group had suffered....wait for it.....only 43,000 casualties.

The Germans in the first few months of the Barbarossa operation captured over 3,000,000 prisoners. You take a guess at the number of KIA.

When the Soviets threw 9 armies in front of Moscow, 8 were wiped off the face of the earth.

Note: I do realize that citing such figures causes some amongst the Althouse lefty commentariat to shed a tear or two and perhaps even start humming The Internationale. Which is strange because who cares how many socialists are killed by other socialists really?

CWJ said...

When I saw this post I was looking forward to commenting. But then I clicked through and saw that it was not so much a serious article as a bit of filler. At that point I mentally predicted that the comment thread would discuss things with far more passion and heft than the original link. I was not disappointed. But I do wonder what about this made our hostess turn it into a post.

But to get on with it, my reaction to the whole USSR was decisive in WWII discussion is that everyone so far has a legitimate point. However, here's the thing (as became apparent in the post-war world) Germany for all it's stomping around and upsetting the Apple cart was geopolitically irrelevant!

The USSR kept all its illgotten pre June 1941 gains, and the war in Europe unmasked the true rivalries of the mid-twentieth century. That nazi Germany had to be defeated in the meantime was a given but nonetheless a sideshow.

kzookitty said...

The Russians are a slavish and ignorant people, desiring nothing more than a bottle of vodka, a strong man's boot on their throat, and a crust of black bread. In that order.


Freeman Hunt said...

Mathematics education. Does any nation even approach them in that?

Freeman Hunt said...

Dostoyevsky. Onion domes. Great film. Grimness and passion.

Gahrie said...

it would have been the Soviets occupying all of Germany.

You mean all of Europe.

Char Char Binks said...

Let it be clearly understood that the Russian is a delightful person till he tucks his shirt in. As an Oriental he is charming. It is only when he insists upon being treated as the most easterly of Western peoples, instead of the most westerly of Easterns, that he becomes a racial anomaly extremely difficult to handle. The host never knows which side of his nature is going to turn up next. -- Kipling

Lost My Cookies said...

Poor Gatsby

Bricap said...

As for WWII, Russia at the very least was a black hole for German resources. How much blood and treasure did Germany expend there overall? Whatever role the Russians actually played in winning the war, that was a lot of resources diverted from the western theater.

How much of the current Russian wealth was from well connected people capitalizing on the assets divvied from the Soviet era, and how much of it was from pure entrepreneurship?

ken in tx said...

Many Russians are still victims of Soviet propaganda. They understand that capitalism is the road to prosperity and freedom, but they mistakenly believe that capitalism is what the Soviets said it was--cutthroat, dog eat dog competition, and steal what you can get away with.

They do not really understand free enterprise and free markets.

Plus, they are Russians--cynical and negative.

richard mcenroe said...

JSD They're good at exporting second rate weaponry; considering who they export it to, we should encourage them.

I've had first hand experience with three generations of Russians. The firs was a former White Russian Cadet who fought against the Bolsheviks until it was plain the Tsarist cause was lost, and then escaped with his entire family to the Ukraine. When Stalin crushed the Ukraine he fought with the Ukrainians until it was plain the Ukrainian cause was lost, then escaped with his entire family to Yugoslavia. When the Nazis invaded Yugoslavia he fought with the Chetniks against both the Nazis and Tito, then escaped with his entire family to the US. He arrived here with nothing but his dependents and a medical degree not recognized in America, and by the time I met was the retired chief forensic surgeon of southern New York State. A formidable, impressive man with a disturbing taste in places to escape to.

His son was of the age of the samizdats in the USSR and very much of their mindset, and resisted several attempts by the KGB to turn him when he worked for the UN radio studio in New York.

The last Russian I worked with was in Los Angeles, of the generation that reached adulthood after the collapse of Russia. Last I heard of him he was working for a copy//print place staffed wholly by Russians, who told the Villaraigosa adminstration they were all gay to secure the exclusive bulk copying work from the city, lying through their teeth. An amoral little critter, he maintained a close interest in the law because it showed him the most profitable places to cheat.

richard mcenroe said...

Jon, most historians are wrong. Just because you see Red Star and Sovfoto stills and newsreels of T-34's and Ilyushins sweeping across the steppes, doesn't eliminate the existence of the thousands of British and American tanks, trucks, aircraft and artillery that equipped many Soviet divisions and air regiments, or the millions of tons of raw materials shipped at a cost of hundreds of ships and thousands of sailors to Murmansk. The Russians were in many ways hanging on by their own fingernails in terms of logistics, industry and manpower.

What won the war for the Soviets was German misjudgments such as the epic but disastrous battle of Kursk and Stalingrad. Had the Germans not only foolishly elected to fight on multiple fronts but declared war on the US, it's questionable whether those misjudgments would have continued and it can only be speculated as to whether the forces freed from the West would have been insufficient to contest the Soviets. But while the Russian people unquestionably fought heroically and suffered horrifically, their Great Patriotic War was in reality a Great Falling Out Among Thieves between Hitler and Stalin.

Bad Lieutenant said...

You might as well say Stalin started WWII, via his accession to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. A pity the tyrant was able to put every single life in Russia between his own and the panzers. Oh, to see him hanged!...