sabodog


a running dog of ultraliberalism


English into English
sabodog
There is apparently a need to, as Paul says, convert from English into English sometimes. If two people are speaking the same language, it does not at all guarantee that they can hear each other. What always fascinates me is reading Arabs and Jews 'debate' on Internet forums. Finally, a place for democratic, civilised debate where people of different opinions can build bridges, forge understandings and overcome historical stereotypes to create consensus and real solutions to old problems. 

 - 'You killed our children!'
 - 'Well you helped in the Holocaust!'
 - 'We were here first!'
 - 'No, we were here first, this is our land, and it was given to us by God anyway!'

Wonder if any of them actually come to any sort of agreement in the end? Stories like that are endless. These are not debates, these are people talking at each other using different narratives - both usually wrong - that they heard from somebody else, pawns in someone's ideological war. Useful idiots. You see a video on YouTube of some Arab-Israeli war that happened 40 years ago and below it a real flame war still going on. It just never gets tiring somehow. 

Being from the Third World must really suck, psychologically. At least if you're from Russia or China you're aware that your country has nukes and can defend itself against American attack. Third World countries have a long proud history of other people either bombing them, or them bombing each other using Western or Soviet/Chinese weapons. Since they can't build their own stuff as they don't have the engineering, they become basically slaves to other powers' whims. No matter how much, say, some Arabs protest against Israel or say it's unjust what's happening to the Palestinians, pretty much all of that is hot air. Nobody is going to evict Israel from there by force and, with Israel routinely ignoring the UN, there is literally nothing anyone will do. BDS is nice and all, but it doesn't make the weather in the real world. As soon as someone tries to make a different to the status quo using physics and engineering - like Iran - they are immediately surrounded and neutralised. 

No wonder Gaddafi and his son were so nice to the British media, allowing journalists of a hostile country comfortable stay and giving interviews. There was literally nothing they could do to stop the NATO war machine except try and say 'please stop bombing us, please stop bombing us.' There seems to be a fundamental disconnect between the 'military' and 'civilian' ways of thinking. The self-proclaimed rights activist states that countries who participate in intervention are breaking international law and morality, and genuinely believes that if enough people agree with him, something will automatically happen through 'people power'. The military reality is that freedom doesn't work like that. It is decided with automatic weapons. Physical destructive power is the lowest common denominator of any human exchange. People power sounds cool, but tanks and warplanes actually decide the matter. One of the benefits of the Arab Spring is that now, news outlets are talking like this (how tanks and planes are superior to light arms), so the penny is dropping. Slowly. 

What's funny is that resistance is not only futile, it is completely unnecessary. A Western-style liberal democracy accommodates people regardless of gender, race or even creed. It's also a much nicer place to live in, just less intimidating and with more iPhones. Among other things. But misplaced national pride, identify politics and an inability to handle dogma instilled at youth by an unhealthy society looking for scapegoats make that conversion very difficult. Sometimes people fall into the other extreme and excuse everything the West does. These people ruin it for everybody by defeating the whole point, and provide ammunition to the reactionaries. 

Fundamentally, though, that's all it is. It runs through Irish nationalists and Ulster loyalists, disgruntled Christian fundamentalists and Islamic radicals. Mismanaged, misplaced pride and a deep feeling of fundamental inferiority manifest in aggression. Emotions with no rational backing. This is what claims the lives of thousands in Syria, Burma and elsewhere, every single day. Important to understand this. You're not fighting for your creed's children. You don't even know them. They are too young to be tainted with your corruption. 
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That Khodorkovsky thing
sabodog
He is seen as a 'prisoner-of-conscience', a symbol of Putin's defiance to the West and to democracy. A kind of Aung San Suu Kyi of Russia. Every single politician in Russia (and in the West) uses this guy to score points for their respective ideologies. He is also a good symbol of the stupidity of Russian politics and the West's manifest failure to understand them. 

Consider Medvedev. For some reason the West and Russian liberals decided that he is the liberal successor to Mr Putin, or even an alternative, and then duly expressed disappointment when that didn't happen. Keen to push his image of 'the liberal counterweight' to anyone who will still listen (of whom there is a surprising abundance), Medvedev recently moved to talk about reviewing Khodorkovsky's case. Putin uses Khorodkovsky as a scarecrow; Medvedev dangles him as a carrot to bleeding-heart liberals who see him as some strange beacon of hope who will come out of jail and reform Russia. Other presidential candidates also liked to talk about the guy during the presidential debates amongst themselves, with Prokhorov suggesting he'd let him out were he elected President. God knows what he hoped to achieve by that, but he polled surprisingly well. Probably because he was the only politician running who was actually interesting. 

The basic party line seems to be this: with Russian courts corrupt and basically cowtowing to whatever the Kremlin wants them to do, the only option for this guy's release is for him to ask the President for a pardon, and for the President to pardon him. This sham, with Western politicians and liberals asking Medvedev to pardon the guy, has been going on for many, many years. This narrative is also batshit stupid because it runs against what the man in jail - Khodorkovsky himself, actually - wants. Neither him nor Lebedev have any intention to beg for pardon - because that would entail admitting guilt which they won't do - and Khodorkovsky himself has said in an interview to Novaya Gazeta that he would want to either die in jail or be released through the courts. Clearly if he doesn't ask for a pardon, the President will not have power for forgive him. Khodor remains in jail, Russia remains an evil dictatorship. 

What is going on? The Russian equivalent of the Two-State Solution. Instead of focusing on stuff that really matters and ignoring even the main guy in the case so symptomatic of a massive problem - corruption in the Russian courts caused by overwhelming public apathy in politics and civic life - Russian and Western politicians simply sweep the issue under the rug and use the case out of context to push their own agenda which have little to do with reality. Meanwhile nothing gets done, the opposition continues to be unelectable, Western leaders continue to make bizarre claims about the Kremlin that don't reflect what's really going on, ordinary Russians continue to get screwed over and take it because apparently they don't know any better. Everybody's happy. You can tell how serious a Russian politician is in part by his stance on the Khodorkovsky case. So far nearly everyone is failing that test pretty miserably. Khodorkovsky's mother has recently called on Russians to come out onto the streets to push for change. Even she doubts it will happen. Judging by the comments, not very likely. Why try to reform a rotten society when you can simply... leave the country? 
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Russia - what next?
sabodog
With 50% of ballots counted, Putin leads at 60-65%, with his closes competitor nowhere near. People were hoping for a 2nd round of elections. It should be obvious by now that that isn't going to happen. Then again that should have been obvious a while ago, opinion polls by VCIOM and Levada Centre - the two biggest pollsters in Russia - predicted a Putin win in the first round. 

What does this all mean? 

1. Nothing will change for a while. There are many people in the West who seem to believe that Putin is some kind of dictator who rules Russia with an iron fist. While that may be partly true, it's not the full picture. Putin is actually head and shoulders above the majority of Russians, and has had to work hard to keep his idiotic electorate from sliding into fascism. Fortunately for him Russians by and large have proven pretty easy to brainwash and manipulate, especially when you throw large sums of money at them. They're also very cynical, so all he has to do is remove candidates who can pose a coherent ideological threat (eg. Yavlinsky). Without them, the choice is between him, an oligarch, a nutter, and a Stalinist. No-brainer. Although...

2. Having said that, Russians can also prove to be dangerous idiots. During the Parliament elections last year, the ruling party collapsed to 49% of the vote, with the seats of the lower house going to friendly pro-Western liberal democratic movements parties which are even more statist than United Russia. They all oppose NATO. They all want to raise taxes. They all have no idea how an economy is run. It's no wonder Putin didn't go to debates with candidates from those parties. He gets enough of that having to sit through their speeches in the Duma on every sitting. He doesn't need his I.Q. lowering by actually debating with these clowns for a whole hour at a time in front of TV. 

3. The election roughly reflects what's going on in the country. The themes are all as they have been for about 20 years. Lots of promises to clean up corruption, more whingeing about the population decline, worrying about evil imperialists and about how NATO wants to steal Russia's independence. Basically as they say in Russian: "За что боролись, на то и напоролись." They wanted 'Russian-style' democracy, stability, succession, and they got exactly that. They can have Putin for 30 more years, until he dies, if they like corruption and oligarchy that much. Heck, bring the Tzar back. Which leads right to the last point...

4. Russians are slowly realising they are being conned. The problem with being in power for over 12 years is that over that time, generations change. Now you have a whole generation who doesn't necessarily think NATO's evil or that oligarchs are devil incarnates - as indicated by the fact that Prokhorov, the friendly neighbourhood oligarch candidate, has actually done rather well - in fact, he is so far in 3rd place, something that would have been unthinkable only 5 years ago. Slowly, liberalism is reappearing on the Russian scene, along with civic nationalism. If those 2 movements can find common ground (through people like the blogger Navalny), they can present a very powerful political force. 

Will it happen? Depends. Things to watch for:

 - the diaspora. When Russians living abroad vote, it's probably fair to say those votes are fair and free. There's not much vote rigging that can happen in, say, Germany, or the United Kingdom. The diaspora remains largely pro-Putin. Q.E.D. 
 - Prokhorov, the YABLOKO political party, Kudrin. If those political players ally somehow (probably around YABLOKO) then things could get interesting. Until then, nothing to see really. 
 - Navalny. He represents a new type of nationalist, one that's quite rare in Russia. His views are not incompatible with liberalism. He's very popular at the moment (though clearly not president material yet and he seems to know that). What he can do is frame the debate in such a way as to merge liberalism and nationalism (kind of like what they tried to do in Ukraine in 2005, what currently happens in Poland), Russia can have a very powerful political movement. 

The Putin regime is similar now to how the Tories were in the 1990s. It's interesting that Gorbachev came up with the same comparison in an interview to some foreign newspaper a couple of months ago. The idea being, they still hold political control, but they are in serious trouble, simply because they've been in power for way too long. United Russia, which holds a slim majority in Duma, is facing a serious confidence crisis. Watch for brazen rebellions in the Duma as individual candidates break ranks and cause chaos in the ruling party.  For that, you need an issue that will unite all parties except the ruling party. Say, some regional elections? 
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Syria
sabodog
With the killing machine churring and whirring, spitting out 5,000 corpses so far and rising, the Western world looks set to do nothing militarily. Since as Lavrov said, sanctions rarely work at stopping this sort of mass murder, and would much rather the world sat down and had a nice little chat with Assad during his break from massacring civilians, and there's not much else that can be done by the West really, the only course of action left is relax in front of the telly and start making bets with your mates about how many more body bags will be filled before this is over. Grim, huh? Why is this happening?

Because the West does not want to be slated again. When we went into Iraq, we got labelled as oil grabbing imperialists. Ditto Libya. Afghanistan wasn't known for its oil but the argument stuck anyway. For some reason there's this weird assumption going around that the West likes to conquer its oil on some random 3rd world land. Although it defies economic sense (it's simpler to simply buy the oil from stable customers which is exactly what has been happening) the argument still gets run. Some say the West likes to wage war to grab oil and give its weapons industries a workout. Why exactly the West can't adopt the Saudi approach - buy their oil and sell them Western tanks and jets - is not entirely specified by these cynics beyond some vague conspiracy drivel. (Realistically, Arabs have no defence engineering industry. So they will buy Western weapons anyway.) But what all this does do is tarnish the West's reputation. 

So we have a situation where the Arabs are asking for no fly zones and intervention while simultaneously calling the West crusaders and imperialist aggressors. You can't make policy effectively with this sort of doublethink. Instead, you have to do really strange stuff like attack a country with promises of no troops on the ground and then break that promise anyway because - well, how else do you direct air strikes and train insurgents.. via Skype? Or simply leave it and let the 'local parties' sort it out. In this case, such a party is the Arab League.

This gets hilarious. The Arab League hates Assad for suppressing Sunnis and for being Iran's patron, and would love to see him go. But they don't want to be seen as meddling either. So they act like bumbling idiots - offer ever-extending deadlines with vague promises to refer Syria to UNSC, knowing full well that it won't lead to intervention as long as Russia and China keep their respective stances, of which there is every indication. Russia - another supposedly 'neutral' actor, with dubious credentials in the Arab world and obvious vested interestsslams the West for warmongering and drafts its own resolution offering basically a 'let's sit down and have a nice little chat' line. The political show works both ways - eventually Assad relents and allows an observer mission. You can't pretend to champion the cause of Arab nationalism and have the Arab League suspending you - it looks bad. The observer mission might have the effect of slowing the violence down in places where the observers visit. For many men, women and children, it is already too late. 

Too late for talking. Russians surely know this, as do the people in Arab League. But they don't want to be seen as complete hypocrites, encouraging intervention here after decades of whining about it for so long. This way, everyone gets to save face - except the murdered Syrian civilians. But no-one cares about them, right? 

There are silver linings among the bloodbath. The Arab League is learning how to be the local UN, and realising it's not easy. Russia and China are finally on the receiving end of angry Arabs where they belong, and the West, for once, gets some credit from the Arab street. Iran is fast losing face in the Arab world by its stubborn support of a dictatorship. The West has - against Russia's advice - imposed sanctions which are hurting the regime at least in the short term. There's not much else the West can do at the moment. Arabs have trapped themselves in their own mental paradigm of reality, where the West is evil, and there just happens to be no-one else to help them. Maybe when the body count reaches high enough, there will be a change of consciousness, revelation will happen. Until then, there's not much else to do except to watch Syria tear itself apart, watching tanks which are supposed to defend the country burn and turn fire on their own armoured divisions, watch the country's potential prosperity wasted, crippled by the general strike and the civil unrest while, say, Israel carries on getting richer and richer, watch people die, watch the complete, pointless waste that could potentially be stopped in maybe days, but it won't be, since too many Arabs would rather die and have their children die than change their opinions of the world. 

Some Arabs say things like 'Assad is not a violent man - he used to be a doctor, he can't stand to see people suffer, he's really looking for a way out.' That argument is not really valid. Assad may indeed be a nice guy - but after decades of being surrounded by certain people with certain fixed views on the world, he may not even be aware of what's happening on the street. And like a nice guy faced with violence, he simply may not want to know. And if he doesn't want to know, his security officials certainly won't go out of their ways to tell him, so he'll have all the reasons in the world to deny reality and claim it's all foreign plots with fake videos shot in Qatar. In fact, his action to the crisis so far has been pretty much that - denial. And that's scary. The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing, because it doesn't want to know. The UN is powerless against such stupidity. And a whole load of innocent civilians bear the cost. 
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Phase 2
sabodog
Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. - Sun Tzu

Standard theory states that democracies rarely fight one another. I beg to differ. There's no use in being a democracy if the overriding sentiment of your society is aggressive. Liberal democracies rarely fight one another since to a rational mind that's mostly interested in well-being for self and others, war makes little sense. That is why there is so much anti-war sentiment in the West. 

Achieving a 'democracy'  is difficult enough, but the drill has been pretty much perfected by now. Youth movements offer a nicer alternative to NATO bombs, but the end result's still the same - essentially, the creation of a political power vacuum. That's Phase 1. The idea is that grateful liberators in the shape of West-friendly liberals fill that void and guarantee future peace and stability, meaning all the dead men women and children become somehow 'worth it' as a 'necessary sacrifice' or to use what's hip now, 'martyrs'. And, this is usually where it goes pear-shaped. The people who come to power are usually not the Internet-literate West-friendly liberals at all (although they may start the uprising and take the most actual casualties) but some random people, often with an extraneous ideology that no-one gives a shit about.

This is a problem, particularly since the ones who vote these charming people into power in the first place do so for very predictable reasons: they want peace and stability after all the ruckus that the pro-democracy fighters and their Western-backed allies brew up. The individuals often do deliver 'peace' and 'stability', usually by burying democracy and those who fought for it by the mass-grave-load, then doing something stupid like dragging their country into some random sectarian war, and the West gets to take the blame for everything. 

Rather than worrying about bringing democracy to random shitholes, why not first devise a plan to create a culture where the liberal ideals prevail, where they dominate? If you have a culture of angry, uneducated plebs, even 100 regime changes are not going to produce anything beyond lots of corpses. We need a system that can take some uneducated mob of religious/nationalistic/commie/etc fanatics and mould them into a society. That is the main difference between, say, the West, and places like Russia. Here in Britain, the Liberal Machine is very firmly rooted into the society: homosexuals, say, are protected by the society, not just by the police. Laws are useless if the police disregards them (which they will if the public lets them do so).

And this Phase 2 involves a hell of a lot more multilateralism and creative thinking. This isn't about regime change. This is about culture, it is about changing minds. On a massive scale, on an individual scale. It's a very complex problem. But the end goal is to create a national conscience that rejects bullying and violence: one that will not tolerate it. One that holds liberal (or humanist) values to heart. One that seeks dialogue instead of confrontation. We must be impartial and ruthless in examining the various approaches that worked, throughout history, to bring about this sort of change. Like brainwashing for instance, after complete military annihilation. Finding an answer, finding such a system, has to be the priority. Peaceniks can get involved too - don't want war? Help to educate about peace! 

In fact, this whole 'bombing people into freedom' concept can be delayed indefinitely until such an answer is found. Until then, we can let the glorious revolutionaries fight it out with corrupt dogs of the regime, weakening each other in the process while we perfect our weapons and our economies. And our methods. 
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9/11, Iraq War, Arab Spring
sabodog
This article really neatly ties up the historic events in the Arab world of the past 10 years. Really is worth a read. 
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A study in leftie hypocricy
sabodog
Came aross this while browsing Reuters Africa. Note the comments stream, with the dates on them. Isn't it fascinating how the zeitgeist changes 180 degrees to fit with the 'West is evil' paradigm? First they were blaming the West for doing nothing, then they immeditely switched to blaming the West for doing something. Can't win with these people, can you? No wonder murderous dictators sleep well in their beds at night, safe knowing an army of internet crusaders is there to defend them at every level. 

There's just one difference. We don't oppress our fifth column. And that makes us free. I can't remember who it was (a communist?) who said that 'a country's free if you can go outside in the middle of the street and be able to shout at the top of your voice about how much you hate your government'. Words to live by. 
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Africa
sabodog
One of the most powerful weapons in both the leftie and the nationalist arsenal is ignorance. Only they can write off a whole continent as 'the failure of Western colonialism'. Common sense would suggest that an entire continent cannot possibly be all samey-samey doom-and-gloom. In fact, in all honesty, Africa fascinates me. They have huge tracts of history that not only I, but the Africans I've met here in the West, simply don't know about. It's a bit of a mystery continent, mostly because no-one really gives a shit about it beyond 'let's throw aid at them'. And while movies like Black Hawk Down have attempted to popularise the political aspects of it, let's be frank here: a lot of people haven't got a clue. 

I know that since colonialism, it's been a melting pot of racial, religious and all sorts of other identities. Huge wars have been fought and lost, important lessons learned and forgotten. One of my favourite hobbies is selfishly gleaming wisdom from the mass murder of innocents. In this case, Africa must be a treasure trove. They faced difficult problems in very challenging situations and sometimes even succeeded. Because it's history, written by different sources, and not current events, it is not really as open to propaganda, since there's no value to be gained from twisting the truth. I will study Africa and hope to learn much from it. If anyone has any information that they believe is important, or would like to work with me, please let me know; a free exchange of ideas would be very valuable here. 

And, in the end, will make for far more interesting conversations than simply 'Africa... what a dump.' Lots of people like to donate money to charity. Wouldn't it be nice to know, historically, where it all goes in the end? Maybe then people will be more willing to give it. To the right people. 
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The morality of mass murder
sabodog
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bgscOtHDrI&feature=player_embedded

This report shows a snippet of the efforts by influential Americans to support Gaddafi in power, while the country was fighting Odyssey Dawn. One particular bit that is interesting is them urging Gaddafi to use Syria to show up US hypocricy. This is a serious problem - the argument pops up over and over again in internet discussions with lefties. Concerned as ever about morality as if they have any right to tell the world what right and wrong is, they love to parrot the following line:

1. NATO invaded Libya.
2. NATO did not invade Syria or Bahrain.
3. Therefore, NATO is not defending civilians, but is giving Libya preferential treatment because of oil and strategic interests.
4. This is immoral, NATO are hypocrites.

Personally I have no problem accepting 3. The reason I have no problem accepting it is because I am amoral. Wars are complex, messy events involving mass murder. If lefties feel they have a right to lecture people on the morality of mass murder, that can help explain some of the more fun things they did in power. I will not pretend to have that kind of authority; wars, in my opinion, are fought over strategic interests, which can include oil. As I have already debunked the Libyan 'war for oil' argument, I don't believe it's worth bringing up again. 

In this context, 4. makes no sense. Yes, NATO are hypocrites - but only if you assume they are trying to prove a point, preach a political philosophy or to approach this from some kind of moral high ground. It takes zero moral high ground to drop bombs on to a country. The job was to protect civilians, and the ulterior motive was to create a liberal democracy. In Bahrain intervention was impossible because that country was protected by Saudi Arabia, and we need their oil. If someone can come up with a way for us to bypass this need for oil, I'd love to hear it, but until that time, the Saudis are untouchable. Simple. Take your moralistic bullshit and shove it, shut the fuck up and get back onto the oil drip where you belong - or at least don't drive a car for a day - that will be a hell of a lot more useful than bashing the US on Bahrain on your oil-driven Internets. 

As for Syria, everyone is pooping their pants over Iraq. When America invaded Iraq, for some reason (probably due to some inbuilt belief that the West is omnipotent) everyone expected it to end quickly and bloodlessly. I remember growing up watching a much more limited military campaign on TV, uncensored, in all its glory. This left an impression, so I did keep telling people at the time that both Iraq and Afganistan were gonna turn out somewhat similar. People didn't listen. 'NATO will go in from the air, we're not as stupid as the Russians were' they said. Now, like sad babies, they're crying into their little nappies at the body count and wondering where it all went wrong. And because of this stupid, unrealistic, moronic understanding of the nature of counter-insurgency warfare, people in Syria are dying needlessly because the West is too pussy to do anything. It's not the NATO's fault - it's your fault, dear reader, for not having the guts to make difficult choices and write a letter to your elected official saying something on the lines of:

"Dear Sir/Madam, please vote in Parliament/Senate/whatever to commit our military machine in a full-scale invasion of Syria to help the Syrian people who are currently undergoing mass murder. I understand that there will likely be lots of innocent people's blood spilt, we will probably not get UN backing for this one and everyone in the world will likely hate us for this, including the people we just liberated. Nevertheless, please do it because sometimes you have to do things not because they are pleasant, but because they are right, and little children kinda have to be defended."

NATO hypocricy? They are acting on your orders, citizens. Did you write a letter asking for a no-fly zone over Libya? If you did, then what's happened? Do balls drop off?

Nationalist Porn - first ideas
sabodog
I did gleam one important insight into a racist's way of thinking: they get very angry at the thought of white women being screwed by blacks or central asians. Strangely they respect Japs and Chinese people 'because they keep to themselves and evolve as nature intended'. Well, that's one race I won't have to bother with. Pity.

So the way to take this concept further is to realise my old idea of nationalist porn: which is pr0n, basically interracial, but designed in such a way as to be a. sexy and b. as insulting to nationalists as possible. So, my old classic favourite might be a girl wearing nothing but the Russian flag going down on some American macho both talking with stereotypical accents and maybe with a bear playing a balalaika in the background. Was gonna keep this thing a business secret but now, fuck it! I'm gonna put this awesome idea out here on the internet, let's hope this goes viral.

Hacking Nazi sites with interracial porn is another clever idea. Or gay porn. Anything to make the little critters cry.

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