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Nice piece of propaganda.


It's well written, it's irreverent, it's sharply critical of Putin's Russia (but not disrespectful) - a lot more so than his articles printed in the Economist -, but is it anti-Russian?

Well, among other things. Namely, assuming that Russians would not know which leader is good for them and invoking old tired myth of imperialist urges.

by blackhawk on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 10:41:44 AM EST
Agreed, blackhawk.

If you cannot tell from a cursory reading that this is anti-Russian, well...

He makes sweeping generalizations about the Russian state based on personal experience with his neighbors bulldozing a "disused airfield", which apparently is used by his kids to ride their bikes.


Secondly, the Putin "dacha" or "cottage" (it was about the size of Sandringham) was built at amazing speed and great secrecy on a disused airfield at the edge of our village. That infuriated my sons, who were learning to ride bicycles there. It also illustrated an important point about the way the Russian state works. It may be corrupt, lethargic, and stunningly incompetent in general. But when the man at the top wants something done, it happens fast and ruthlessly.

My neighborhood has been trying to put in sidewalks for the past couple of years.  To do this, we need the unanimous approval of everyone living there.  Two households are still witholding their approval.  Both are older couples who say, "We don't want sidewalks.  If we put them in, we'll have crazy skate-boarding punks passing our house all the time."  In the same situation, Lucas would invariably infer that all Americans are anti-youth.

by slaboymni on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 11:26:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Anti-russian means

  1. Unfavorable to the Russian state.

  2. Negative about the leadership of the Russian state.

  3. Negative about the Russian people.

You see, I'd tend to choose (3). I suspect you might choose (1),(2) and (3).

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 11:31:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All of your choices come down to the same thing in a democracy.  The people choose the state and the people can remove a leader whom they no longer trust to run their affairs.
by slaboymni on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 11:50:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In an ideal world, maybe. In a world of mass media controlled by the people who are running the place and people too busy to fight through the information, no. And there's nothing stopping the people mistakenly trusting a thief and a liar. Happens all the time.

You're proposing that criticising Bush is anti-American, that criticising Blair is anti-British and that criticising Chirac is anti-French.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 11:56:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]

You're proposing that criticising Bush is anti-American, that criticising Blair is anti-British and that criticising Chirac is anti-French.

No, just the opposite actually.  I'm proposing that each one of the peoples you mention bear a certain measure of responsibility for the leaders they have.

by slaboymni on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 12:02:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, a certain measure which depends on how close to some sort of ideal democracy the state is.

But to say that criticising the leader of the state is the same as criticising the people of the state is naive. Blair wasn't reelected because the British public approved of his stance in Iraq, he was reelected because there was no viable alternative on offer. When I call Blair an arrogant liar I'm not anti-British, I'm anti-Blair. When someone criticises Putin he's not anti-Russian, he's anti-Putin. He may feel it was a mistake for the Russian people to appoint Putin, but that's another matter entirely. That doesn't make him anti-Russian. I'm not arguing whether the author quoted above is pro- or anti-Russian by the way, just the more general point.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 12:21:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Granted.


I'm not arguing whether the author quoted above is pro- or anti-Russian by the way, just the more general point.

I'd be curious to hear your opinion, though.

by slaboymni on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 12:27:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Certainly anti-Putin, not very nice to the Russian establishment. I wouldn't have said anti-Russian exactly, though some of the "even Russians who ..." are certainly borderline.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 12:40:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We don't generally assume the Americans or the Irish or the French know which leader is best for them. Democracy is not magic.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 11:32:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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