Yes, it’s smerds, not nerds. For all those who aren’t “American,” the title of this post is a play on a popular, yet ridiculously cheesy and inane, 1984 movie entitled Revenge Of The Nerds. I’m convinced it was movies like this that helped hasten the fall of the Soviet Union because the movie was no doubt the strategic creation of Soviet agents embedded deep in the bowels of Hollywood pushing projects meant to stultify the formation of young, developing American cerebrums. And it would have worked had a battle not been waged by the side of light in Hollywood that brought us countervailing offerings in the 1980s such as Top Gun, Red Dawn and Firefox (this one was so popular and made such a psychological impact that a famous browser was named in honor of it). Thankfully, because of movies like those three and many more like the Breakfast Club for example, the creative light that is the American spirit….….was able to outwit the soulless darkness that was the Soviet Union and defeat that nemesis for the hearts and minds of the planet. The Soviet Union, this being its last ditch effort, collapsed from frustrating fatigue after capitulating to the greatest force ever known to mankind.
But, as they say in Italy, “non è finita fino a quando la signora grassa canta.” For all those who aren’t Italian, which is 95% of you reading this, that translates as “it’s not over until the fat lady sings.” And Mother Russia, among many things, is a fat lady with a bloated ego and sense of self-worth. So, even though the Soviet Union, as a state systemical apparatus, collapsed under the weight of its empty promises, the people who were the face of it, and their progeny, remained to live, and die (in droves again and again and again…as is the Russian way), another day.
Yes, I hear you, I know. That’s all fine and dandy but what the hell is a smerd, you ask? It’s a great word, you must admit. Seeing it and saying it doesn’t conjure a delightful and pleasant (drop the “l” and it starts to make sense) image. According to Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine, smerd is described as follows:
The name given to a member of a class of peasantry of the an state in the 11th and 12th centuries. The delineation of the group is somewhat imprecise and a subject of historical debate. Most scholars (Mykhailo Braichevsky, Boris Grekov, Mykhailo Hrushevsky in his early writings, Mykola Maksymeiko, Mikhail Vladimirsky-Budanov, and others) contend the name was given to two categories of peasants: the free, who gradually lost their freedom with the development of the feudal order, and the dependent peasantry. Others (Vasilii Kliuchevsky, M. Hrushevsky in his later writings, S. Chernov, and Aleksandr Presniakov) maintain that only the free peasants, including both those who lived on their own land and those who settled on the estates of princes, were thus designated.
The name disappeared from use in the 12th century but resurfaced in the 13th and 14th centuries as a designation of dependent peasants of the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia. It sometimes surfaces in documents of the 15th and 16th centuries concerning Ukrainian territories under Poland and Lithuania as a term for people of low station. From the 13th century the name was increasingly replaced by kmet. The designation was also used by West Slavs, including Serbs (smardi) and Poles (smardowie, smurdowie).
So that’s the smerd component of Revenge Of The Smerds, but where’s the revenge part of the equation, you may be wondering. Well, isn’t that what we’ve been witnessing, at least according to the propaganda that’s pushing this meme, this past decade with Putin’s Russian Conservative Revanchism that’s now reaching a head? By smothering, or should I say snuffing out, freedom of expression and dissent, Putin, and the authors of his branding strategy, have managed to terrorize a certain percentage of the population into silent acquiescence, and the remainder of the population evince the mien of lapdog, cheerleading smerds paying homage and tribute, both metaphorically and quite literally, to their liege lord. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the bloated ego of Mother Russia had been deflated. Many in the West considered the USSR’s collapse to be total defeat, but they were naive; you do not defeat through-and-through smerds-for-eternity in search of a harsh, authoritarian prince (he’s harsh with us because he cares for us and loves us).
What’s a cheerleading, lapdog smerd look like (on paper) you ask? Like this Russian Ukrainian woman, Valentina, and some of her fellow Eastern Ukrainians per this Daily Beast article:
Putin’s People Stage Their Bogus Vote
Sunday’s referendum about “sovereignty” in eastern Ukraine is phony from start to finish. But as we learned in Crimea, that may not matter.
Valentina, a 76-year-old former Soviet-era high-school teacher, has no doubt that people in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine bordering Russia will follow Crimea’s lead and vote for secession Sunday—if for no other reason than to get rid of irritating packaging with Ukrainian-language instructions.
“I am an old lady and the medicine I get from the pharmacy has directions in Ukrainian,” she says. “I don’t understand all Ukrainian words.”
As she spoke we were standing outside the smoldering city administration building in the industrial port city of Mariupol a few hours after clashes between Ukrainian security forces and separatists left at least 20 dead. It was the eve of voting, and the gray-haired spinster was almost nonchalant about the debris and wreckage around us and much keener to explain that she wants only to see Russian-language signs and marketing. She also wants to see the city returned to Soviet times – and for it to be free of gays, who, according to Valentina, all come from Kiev and all want Ukraine to join Europe.
She leaned in a little closer, her shopping bag lurching violently, to confide that Europe is a den of indecency and perversion. She didn’t seem to notice drunken separatists lounging outside the scorched city administration buildings. A few minutes later one staggered half a block to throw a Molotov cocktail at an armored vehicle abandoned by Ukrainian security forces. After about half an hour, when it was fully ablaze, its ammunition began exploding, sending locals scurrying and outraging neighborhood dogs that took up a chorus of furious barking.
A tearful Maria, an eighty-one-year-old who has lived in Donetsk for 60 years but was born in the Russian city of Smolensk, says, “We mustn’t allow what happened during the war to happen here again.” Standing outside a polling station in Pushkin Boulevard in central Donetsk this morning, Maria, a grandmother, says she had voted for the establishing of a Donetsk republic but wants Russia to quickly annex the region.
The violence of the last few days was playing prominently in the mind of Alec, a 23-year-old translator, as he made his way to School 17 in the Voroshilov district in Donetsk. The voting was brisk although not as much compared to recent elections, locals said.
Alec highlighted last weekend’s clashes and fire in Odessa that left at least 42 mostly pro-Russian separatists dead and the violence on Friday in Mariupol as determining his vote. “I voted today because after what happened in Odessa and Mariupol, unity of Ukraine is impossible and it is better to secede.”
Fifty-five-year-old Svetlana also was worried about the threat of violence but highlighted economic worries as deciding her vote. “I have lost my husband, son and brother,” she says. A stout woman with a grating voice, she asked, “So you think life is so good here in Ukraine?” She adds, “We will be better off with Russia – Putin will take care of us.”
That was a common belief in the run-up to the referendum in March in Crimea and was fostered actively by the separatists who accompanied their propaganda with waving guns, intimidation and abductions. In point of fact, the good times have not yet started to roll in the Black Sea peninsula. But on May 9 it did have a visit from Russian President Vladimir Putin to mark Victory Day, the anniversary of the Soviet army’s defeat of Nazi Germany, his first since Crimea was annexed two months ago.
Invoking Russia’s imperial past stretching back to Catherine the Great and placing himself in the pantheon of czars, Putin hailed Crimea’s return to the “motherland,” thanking World War II veterans for their “enormous moral contribution” in helping the annexation to happen.
More at link
These people are a Holodomor waiting to happen…again…and again…and again. However, there was one bright spot amidst this stultifying stupidity and insanity and no doubt such bright spots will be rubbed/blotted out in the months, years, decades and centuries to come. Bright spots are a sign of weakness, don’t you know. The smerdiverse doesn’t do brightness. Here’s the lone sane voice from the linked article:
Twenty-one-year-old Daria, a fourth-year student, did however. “Because I don’t want to be Donetsk Federation or something like that,” she says. The dark-haired student says her parents voted the other way. “They are traditional Soviet people and believe Russia is the big brother and we should listen to Moscow. But why should we? I want to learn from my own mistakes and be free. Donetsk is Ukraine. I think that to break up our country is wrong. We have been together for ages.”
She fears Donetsk will end up being like the breakaway Transnistria, cut off from the rest of the world and at the mercy of Moscow’s whims.
How do you explain such madness? Can such madness be explained? Certainly it can. Understanding it and explaining it doesn’t mean you condone it or empathize with it or aspire to it. Daniel Rancour-Laferriere in his excellent 1996 book entitled The Slave Soul of Russia: Moral Masochism and the Cult of Suffering, does a thorough job of plumbing the deepest depths of the Russian psyche. The smerds are intractable; they’re not a weed that can be pulled out or deprived of nutrients since either of those two tactics only serves to feed and strengthen their psychical resolve. They thrive on suffering, and as I’ve said in earlier posts, if there’s a dearth of that commodity, which there never is by the way, then they will find a way to sow bumper crops of it because a life without bountiful and tragic suffering is a life squandered on vacuous superficiality and therefore a life not worth living. To live is to suffer. If you’re not suffering, you might as well be dead. From the link:
Why, asks Daniel Rancour-Laferriere in this controversial book, has Russia been a country of suffering? Russian history, religion, folklore, and literature are rife with suffering. The plight of Anna Karenina, the submissiveness of serfs in the 16th and 17th centuries, ancient religious tracts emphasizing humility as the mother of virtues, the trauma of the Bolshevik revolution, the current economic upheavals wracking the country– these are only a few of the symptoms of what The Slave Soul of Russia identifies as a veritable cult of suffering that has been centuries in the making.
Bringing to light dozens of examples of self-defeating activities and behaviors that have become an integral component of the Russian psyche, Rancour-Laferriere convincingly illustrates how masochism has become a fact of everyday life in Russia. Until now, much attention has been paid to the psychology of Russia’s leaders and their impact on the country’s condition. Here, for the first time, is a compelling portrait of the Russian people’s psychology.
And also, there’s this quote from one of Russia’s most prominent cinema directors and Kremlin favorites, Nikita Mikhalkov. I present the quote with a caveat that it is claimed to be a possible fake, but considering everything else we’ve seen and witnessed, it passes for truth quite easily and believably. As you read the quote, keeping in mind the sentiment of this post and the information presented thus far, think about Dmitry Orzo and Jimmie “The Fed” Kunstler, not to mention their retinue of apocalyptic fans/followers, with their gleeful and giddy heralding of a grassroots serfdom redux. And don’t try to convince me that both of them, in unison with their dysfunctional, authoritarian and largely male audience, don’t sport wood at the prospect, because it’s clear that the possibility of returning to our peasant past, as serfs/smerds with a status tantamount to a urinal or commode, engorges their pelvic appendages more sufficiently than a nude portfolio of Anna Vasil’yevna Chapmanis (born Anna Kushchyenko). There’s nothing sexier or more patriotic than women secured together in literal bondage pulling a barge up the river like a team of pack animals. It’s difficult to imagine Anna as the progeny of that disturbing (or beautiful if you’re Jimmie or Dmitry) scene above. Mikhalkov’s alleged quote which may be a fake but it doesn’t matter:
“The Bolsheviks have done a terrible thing; they erased from the memory of the people of our cultural heritage, the memories of all that was best and brightest, it was the Russian people, including the daughter of serfdom. Restore the historical truth – our challenge, “- said the director.
Mikhalkov recalled the outstanding Russian peasants spirituality, emphasizing the love of the Russian people to the “firm hand»:
“With the submission of the Bolsheviks in Russia now think that serfdom was a bit of North American slavery. But it was not the relationship of slave and master, and the sons and the father. Many farmers do not want any “freedom”. Yes, sometimes smacked peasant landowner; and the father of smacks his naughty child. ”
The director also told about the true nature of serfdom and its significance for the people: “After all, what was serfdom? Serfdom – patriotism is attached to the paper. A man has been linked to the land-Mother not only a sense of duty, but also documented. Serfdom – is the wisdom of the people, it’s four years of our history. And now, when I suggest to delete these four years of our history to strike out, I say, “Brothers, what so you think our ancestors were fools?».
“I am very pleased that Putin is now reviving our historical memory, – said the director. The law on registration – this is exactly what is missing to our people who are cut off from the earth “.
Now, before I forget, and frankly I should have done this much earlier in the post, credit and attribution are a necessary component of journalism and that includes sources of inspiration, not just sources of fact and opinion. This post was inspired by the famous and oft-lionized satirist, P. J. O’Rourke in this Daily Beast article that I will quote in full below in case the link breaks at a later date. Although I don’t agree with P.J.’s conclusions about waiting for Putin to pass (this is Brzezinski’s contention, as well), I appreciate excellent satire and feel obligatorily compelled to give plaudits where they’re due. In this case, they’re due P.J., so without further adieu, enjoy his excellent article:
Russian History Is on Our Side: Putin Will Surely Screw Himself
So the international sanctions aren’t working—don’t worry! If 1,000 years of Russian screw-ups are anything to go by, it won’t be long before Vladimir Putin brings himself down.
Now that we’ve failed to use Russia’s corrupt and degenerating economy, subservience to the international banking system, and vulnerability to falling energy prices to pop Vladimir Putin like a zit, we’re going to have sit on our NATO, E.U., and OSCE duffs and take the long view of Russian imperialism.
Fortunately the long view, while a desolate prospect, is also comforting in its way, if you aren’t a Russian.
In the sixth century A.D. Russia was the middle of nowhere in the great Eurasian flat spot bounded by fuck-all on the north and east, barbarian hordes and the remains of the Byzantine Empire on the south, and the Dark Ages on the west.
Wandering around in here, up and down the watershed of the Dnieper River from Novgorod (which hadn’t been built yet) to Kiev (ditto) were disorganized tribes of Slavic pastoral herdsmen herding whatever was available, pastorally. They were harried by Goths, Huns, Khazars, and other people who had the name and nature of outlaw motorcycle gangs long before the motorcycle was invented.
The original Russian state, “Old Russia,” was established at Novgorod in A.D. 862 by marauding Vikings. They’d set off to discover Iceland, Greenland, and America, took a wrong turn, and wound up with their dragon boat stuck on a mud bar in the Dnieper. (Historians have their own theories, involving trade and colonization, but this sounds more likely.)
The first ruler of Old Russia was the Viking Prince Ryurik. Imagine being so disorganized that you need marauding Vikings to found your nation—them with their battle axes, crazed pillaging, riotous Meade Hall feasts, and horns on their helmets. (Actually, Vikings didn’t wear horns on their helmets—but they would have if they’d thought of it, just like they would have worn meade helmets if they’d thought of it.) Some government it must have been.
Viking Prince Ryurik: “Yah, let’s build Novgorod!”
Viking Chieftain Sven: “Yah, so we can burn it down and loot!”
The Russians weren’t converted to Christianity until A.D. 988—a thousand years late to “Peace be unto you” party, the basic principles of which still haven’t sunk in. (And maybe never had a chance to. Russia’s conversion came at the hands of St. Vladimir, Grand Prince of Kiev, who was reputed to maintain a harem of 800 concubines.)
The death of St. Vladimir, and every other ruler of Old Russia, was followed by assassinations, mayhem, civil strife, and the other hallmarks of change in Russian leadership evident to the present day. Oxford historian Ronald Hingley notes that “the first and only Russian ruler to fashion an effective law of succession” was Tsar Paul I (1796-1801). Tsar Paul was assassinated.
Anyway, things went along pretty well for almost 400 years. (Pretty well by Russian standards—a free peasant was known as a smerd, meaning “stinker.”) Then, in 1237, when the rest of the West was having a High Middle Ages and getting fecund for cultural rebirth, a Tatar horde invaded Russia.
The Tatars were part of the Mongol Empire founded by Genghis Khan. They had a two-pronged invasion strategy: Kill everybody and steal everything.
Kiev, Moscow, and most of Russia’s towns were obliterated. Tatar control—part occupation and part suzerainty over impotent, tribute-paying Russian principalities—lasted more than 200 years.
The Russians have heroic stories about fighting off the Tatars, but in fact it seems like the Tatars gradually lost interest in the place and went off in a horde back to where they came from.
Professor Hingley says the “Tatar Yoke” left Russia with “a model of extreme authoritarian rule combined with control through terror.” It also left Russia with a model of leadership best summarized by a passage from John Keegan’s A History of Warfare:
“Genghis Khan, questioning his Mongol comrades-in-arms about life’s sweetest pleasure and being told it lay in falconry, replied, ‘You are mistaken. Man’s greatest good fortune is to chase and defeat his enemy, seize his total possessions, leave his married women weeping and wailing, ride his gelding [and] use the bodies of his women as a nightshirt and support.’”
Why Putin wants Angela Merkel for a nightshirt is beyond me. But that’s a Russian dictator for you.
Around the time Europe was getting a New World, Russia was getting tsars. Several were named Ivan, one more terrible than the next until we arrive at Ivan the Terrible in 1533.
Ivan created a private force of five or six thousand thugs, the oprichnina, who wore black, rode black horses, and carried, as emblems of authority, a dog’s head and a broom. (The hammer and sickle of the day, presumably.)
Oprichniks were entitled to rob and kill anyone, and did so with a will. Ivan suspected Novgorod of disloyalty, and the oprichnina spent five weeks in the city slaughtering thousands and driving thousands more into exile.
Ivan presided over and sometimes personally performed the roasting, dismembering, and boiling alive of enemies and people who, left unboiled, might possibly become enemies.
He killed his own son and heir by whacking him over the head with the monarchal staff in a tsar-ish fit of temper.
He conducted a 24-year-long war against Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, and the Teutonic Knights, and lost.
Russia’s economy was destroyed. Drought, famine, and plague beset the country.
But Ivan put Russia on the map as an international player. He defeated what was left of the Tatars, mostly by conniving with leaders of what was left of the Tatars. He expanded Russian rule into Siberia, his success due to almost nobody being there. And, draw what parallels you will, Ivan the Terrible’s popularity rating was very high among the smerds.
After his reign, Russia, if you can believe it, got worse. “The Time of Troubles” featured more drought, more famine, more plague, foreign invasions, massacres, the occupation and sacking of Moscow, and tsars with names like False Dmitry I and False Dmitry II. The population of Russia may have been reduced by as much as one-third.
The remaining two-thirds reacted to increasing anarchy in traditional Russian fashion, by increasing autocracy. The Russians aren’t stupid. We’re talking about a country where chess is a spectator sport. Autocracy is just a Russian bad habit, like smoking three packs of cigarettes a day and drinking a liter of vodka.
In 1613 the Romanov dynasty was installed, providing Russia with a range of talents from “Great” (Peter I, Catherine II) to “Late” (Ivan VI, Peter III, and Paul I killed in palace intrigues; Alexander II blown to bits by a terrorist bomb, and Nicholas II murdered with his family by the Bolsheviks).
The Romanovs adhered to what Harvard historian Richard Pipes calls a “patrimonial” doctrine, meaning they owned Russia the way we own our house (except to hell with the mortgage). They owned everything. And everybody. The Romanov tsars imposed rigid serfdom just as that woeful institution was fading almost everywhere else.
Russia never had a Renaissance, a Protestant Reformation, an Enlightenment, or much of an Industrial Revolution until the Soviet Union. Soviet industrialization produced such benefits to humanity as concrete worker housing built without level or plumb bob, the AK-47, MiG fighter jets, and proliferating nukes. (Although the only people the Soviets ever killed with a nuclear device was themselves at Chernobyl, located, perhaps not coincidentally, in what’s now Ukraine, for the time being at least.)
Russia was out in the sticks of civilization, in a trailer park without knowledge of how to build a trailer. But Russia kept getting bigger, mostly by killing, oppressing, and annoying Russians.
Peter the Great (1682-1725) led a military expedition against the Turkish fort of Azov that was a disaster. But Peter came right back and, getting more Russians killed, overwhelmed the Turks. The same thing happened in the Northern War against Sweden. Although it took 21 years after Peter ran away at the battle of Narva, Russia finally got a Baltic coastline. Which Peter didn’t know what to do with, so he built St. Petersburg in a swamp with conscripted serf labor. The number of Russian serfs who died building things in the swamp equaled the number Russian soldiers who died in the Northern War.
Peter the Great raised taxes, made the Russian nobles shave their beards, and caused the death of his recalcitrant son and heir, like Ivan the Terrible did, but on purpose.
Catherine the Great (1762-1796) doubled taxes on the Jews and declared they weren’t Russians, as if anyone would want to be. She was the first but not last leader of Russia to annex Crimea. NATO member alert, code red—she won two wars against Turkey and partitioned Poland. (Like Peter the Great on the Baltic, she got the swampy part.)
Under Catherine, Russian settlements pushed all the way east into Alaska, the most valuable land Russia has occupied. (Annual GDP per capita, Alaska: $61,156. Annual GDP per capita, Russia: $14,037.) But—E.U. shame alert—when Russia was facing financial difficulties and geopolitical conflict, Tsar Alexander II was forced to sell Alaska to the United States in 1867 for 2 cents an acre. Later, as mentioned, Alexander got blown to bits.
And that’s pretty much it for Russia’s Golden Age. After the 18th century, Russia devoted itself mostly to being big fat loserland, losing pace with the modern world, wars, Alaska, a communist utopia, a million victims of Stalin’s purges, 6 million victims of the famine of 1921, 8 million victims of the famine of 1932-33, a “Kitchen Debate” between Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon, ICBMs in Cuba, the space race, the arms race, the Cold War, and finally, 14 independent countries that were once in the USSR.
Napoleon actually won the war part of his war with Russia. If “General Winter” and the general tendency of Moscow to be periodically destroyed hadn’t, for once, sided with the Russian people, you’d be able to get a good bottle of Côte de Volga and a baguette in Smolensk today.
Russia began a series of wars in the Caucasus that it has yet to win.
In 1825, the Decembrists, a reform-minded group of military officers, staged a demonstration in favor of constitutional monarchy and were hanged for taking the trouble.
Political oppression, censorship, spying, and secret police activity reached such a level of crime and punishment that Dostoyevsky himself was sentenced to death for belonging to a discussion group. He was standing in front of the firing squad when his sentence was commuted to exile in Siberia. (Whether to thank Tsar Nicolas I depends upon how weighty a summer reading list you’ve been given.)
“Exiled to Siberia” says everything about Russian economic and social development in that land of mountains, lakes, and forests with a climate, in its lower latitudes, no worse than the rest of Russia’s. I’ve been across it on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. If this were America, the route from Irkutsk to Vladivostok would be lined with vacation homes and trendy shops, and “exiled to Siberia” would be translated as “exiled to Aspen.”
Russia lost the 1853-56 Crimean War. NATO member alert, code green—Russia lost to Britain, France, and Turkey.
In 1861 Tsar Alexander II freed 50 million serfs. If “freed” is the word that’s wanted. The serfs had no place to go except the land they were already farming, and if they wanted any of that, they had to buy it with the nothing they made as serfs. Later, as mentioned twice already, Alexander got blown to bits.
Russia lost the Jews. Being robbed, beaten, and killed in pogroms was not a sufficient incentive to stay. More than a million Jews emigrated, taking what common sense the country had with them.
Russia lost the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War in the best Russian loser fashion at the naval battle of Tsushima.
Japanese Admiral Togo Heihachiro “crossed the T” of the Russian fleet, a rare execution of a tactic where you get your ships in a horizontal line so that your guns can be aimed at the enemy, whose ships are in a vertical line so that their guns can’t be aimed at you.
The Russian fleet was demolished. Eight battleships and most of the smaller ships were sunk. More than 5,000 Russian sailors died. Just three of 38 Russian vessels escaped to Vladivostok.
Russia lost World War I, not an easy thing to do when you’re on the winning side. After the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Russia was too much of a mess to keep fighting Germany. The Soviet government signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk surrendering Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Russian Poland, and Ukraine—containing in total a quarter of the population of Imperial Russia—to the Central Powers just eight months before the Central Powers had to surrender to everybody.
Russia lost both sides of the 1917-22 Russian Civil War. The White Russians were losers. The Reds were total losers. We know how their revolution turned out.
Russia might as well have lost World War II. Between 18 million and 24 million Russians died. That’s three times as many military and civilian casualties as Germany suffered. There must have been a better way to kill a bunch of Nazis running low on food and ammunition and stuck in frozen mud.
Now, because of what he’s doing in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has a higher smerd popularity rating than Ivan the Terrible or even Stalin. We certainly should have screwed him over. But Russian history is on our side. He’ll certainly screw himself.
Bravo! I’m clapping. You truly are an inspiration for all practicing and aspiring satirists. And just so there’s no confusion, here’s what Zbigniew has to say about it per the link I provided above. As you can see, P.J. and Brzezinski are of one mind when it comes to Putin and his influence, but as I’ve amply shown, once Putin goes another will be found because these people aspire not to be satirists, but to be smerds in perpetuity.
It is only a question of time before it becomes evident to Russia’s social elites that Mr Putin’s heavy-handed efforts have very limited prospects of success. Sooner or later, he will no longer be president. And not long thereafter Russia – and especially its emerging new middle class – will conclude that the only path that makes sense is to become also a truly modern, democratic, and maybe even a leading European state.
I’ll finish this post with several photos depicting the Revenge Of The Smerds. Far be it from you and me to keep them from their destiny, but excuse me if I prefer not to be part of it. In fact, I say we lower the artificially high price of oil to its natural price (cost to extract plus a reasonable profit) and let the suffering commence. It’s what they want and the fat lady holding The Path To Prosperity is dropping it and singing.