Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I don't think the corporate right includes industry at all - with a few notable exceptions, like James Dyson and that louse who runs Wetherspoons.

In the UK, the real corporate right is the ultra-privileged rent-seeking public school right. In the UK that's a cabal around Crispin Odey, Rees-Mogg, and the Atlanticists - see below - directed by Matthew Elliot and the minions who ply their trade in Tufton Street.

In the US it's the hedge funds like Blackrock and speculators like Goldman Sachs, supported by Murdoch, Koch, Mercer, and a few other kooks like Bannon. (GS are along for the ride as opportunists rather than out of any deep ideological conviction - see also Greek sovereign debt - but their pervasive influence at this level makes them very powerful allies.)

British industry - including some parts of the City - used to believe it had some common ground with these people, but after Brexit it's starting to realise it's as disposable as any temporary worker.

This version of the right seems to be trying to create a new aristocracy using disaster capitalism as a pretext for the dismantling of democracy and the subversion of all public expectation of competent and effective government.

This has always been the fundamental goal of Brexit. Destroying all possible opposition from the Left and replacing it with cultivated working class xenophobia is a step towards outright dictatorship - without democratic or judicial oversight.

The EU has no cause to feel secure about any of this. The model succeeded in Russia, replacing a crumbling state with a mafia-like network of oligarchs and clients. It did huge damage to Greece, and it's now working in the UK. It has been attempted in the US with partial success. But even if Trump goes, it's not obvious Biden is going to turn the tide. And even if he attempts to, there's always 2024. And 2028. And 2032.

I would guess the plan is to roll out a similar model in as many countries as possible - promoting far-right nationalism as a pretext to destroy all forms of liberal redistributive government, and thus to "reform" the EU itself country by country.

If this seems unlikely and excessively paranoid, the plan is laid out explicitly in three books written by William Rees-Mogg, the father of the oily Jacob, and Murdoch's pet editor at The Times - The Sovereign Individual, Blood in the Streets, and The Great Reckoning.

Of course the plan is ridiculous and self-destructive, because this kind of fascism is invariably a cult of attention-seeking adolescent tantrums and self-harm. Even when it works, winners rarely realise how precarious their "success" is and how easily they can become losers - until it's too late.

Unfortunately the UK has discovered it has few democratic defences against this kind of deliberate bad faith attack, and it's not obvious that other "stable" democracies are necessarily more robust.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 11th, 2020 at 11:38:20 PM EST
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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Oct 11th, 2020 at 11:45:56 PM EST
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The model succeeded in Russia, replacing a crumbling state with a mafia-like network of oligarchs and clients.

That has now been rolled back for the most part. The most blatant oligarchs have either been criminally processed or left the country (see: anti-Putin emigrees in London). Arrest of governor Furgal signifies that federation is restoring the rule of law now even in the remotest regions of Russia.

Life expectancy is now higher than it was in Soviet times (it dropped by 8 years for males during Yeltsin's reign), GDP PPP per capita has doubled in two decades, people's trust in judicial system is now at 80% (people win their cases against government and business) resulting in twenty-fold increase in cases.

Russians even trust their democracy as much as the next European country. 60% approve Putin's actions, 51% approve Mishustin's actions. More people (by a small margin) believe the country is going to the right direction than don't.

Young Russians don't admire politicians in general, and few can name an alternative to the current leadership. While they admire businessmen much more, they don't admire oligarchs, but self-made men who did not leach their fortune from the government or oil.

Russia isn't anymore the dystopia the Chicago-boys turned it into in the 90's. It's also starting look like Greece will be able to survive Schäuble's iron boot and eventually restore itself as a functional state.

by pelgus on Mon Oct 12th, 2020 at 08:48:45 AM EST
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Great comment! A diary on Russian or Greek political economy development would be even better!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 12th, 2020 at 11:01:36 AM EST
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Thanks, but I'm not an expert on Russia. My parents are, or used to be, and some of that has stuck :-)
by pelgus on Wed Oct 14th, 2020 at 01:15:28 PM EST
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You don't have to be an expert - just write something that can start a discussion. I'm intrigued as to who poisoned Navalny and why. He was hardly a threat to Putin, and yet few Russians would have access to Novichok. It seems to be the weapon of choice of a certain Russian faction when other less dramatic methods might be more effective. The purpose seems to be to scare off people who might be thinking of going down the opposition route. But is the Russian state as unitary as we are led to believe, and do all roads lead to Putin?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 14th, 2020 at 02:33:31 PM EST
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Russia is in no small part responsible for Brexit, and is also involved in promoting far right movements across Europe. And Putin recently poisoned an opposition leader.

The rosy picture you paint doesn't seem to be entirely matched by reality.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Oct 12th, 2020 at 01:41:52 PM EST
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Wasn't the Russian connection to Brexit entirely made up? Like with Cambridge Analytica:

Cambridge Analytica Wasn't Involved in Brexit Campaign, ICO Says - Bloomberg

Cambridge Analytica, the defunct U.K. consulting company accused of using secretly mined Facebook Inc. data for targeted political advertising, wasn't involved in the Brexit campaign, according to report by the U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office.
by generic on Mon Oct 12th, 2020 at 04:21:34 PM EST
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by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Oct 12th, 2020 at 08:49:30 PM EST
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I just found the open reply tab.
New details of Russian donations to Boris Johnson's Conservative party - Business Insider
While the report did not name donors, it warned that senior Russian figures had used their money to fund British political parties and businesses, with the UK "viewed as a particularly favourable destination for Russian oligarchs and their money."

The report states that the UK government did not seek to find out about potential Russian influence, citing "extreme caution" among UK security officials to look into potential interference by Moscow.

They needed a report for that?

I sniggered a bit when I read that in a UK paper:
The Russian troll factory at the heart of the meddling allegations | Russia | The Guardian

"Of course, if every day you are feeding on hate, it eats away at your soul. You start really believing in it. You have to be strong to stay clean when you spend your whole day submerged in dirt," he said.

Yes, imagine feeding on hate for a living.
On the one hand, of course something like that exists. Russia wouldn't fund an English language TV station if they didn't care to manipulate public opinion. But what are these quotes? Imagine working at a troll farm for minimum wage and clinging to a higher sense of morality than 95% of Facebook pensioners. I also note that they didn't mention that this said troll farm was supposedly run by the head of the Wagner group, which seems to be relevant? But nothing I've seen gives any indication that Russia had any kind of impact on Brexit. And the hyper focus on Russia only serves to to obfuscate the obvious: Brexit was cooked up by the hacks and their owners in conjunction with factions in the Tory party. And little could be done about it because the sensibles prioritized their factional infighting in the Labour party.
by generic on Wed Oct 14th, 2020 at 02:45:07 PM EST
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by generic on Thu Oct 15th, 2020 at 10:46:15 AM EST
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A lot of the anti-Russia propaganda seems to work by conflating Putin with anti-Putin Oligarchs who he marginalised or exiled and who now hang out in London imagining they can shape the UK into an oligarch friendly playground. Of course they are quite happy to deflect criticism onto Putin, but their real agenda is in the UK, whereas his is in Russia.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Oct 15th, 2020 at 11:15:12 AM EST
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Yeah, you can play degrees of separation to Vladimir Putin and you'll always get there in very few jumps. I prefer degrees of separation to Jeffrey Epstein. Much more fun.
As to Putin himself, maybe he is a Scooby Doo villain who constantly tries, but somehow fails to, murder his personal enemies with poison. Maybe he indeed is behind perfidious plans to destroy western civilization with jpegs of buff Bernie. But in the end there really is no way for me to tell since the Russia panic is too useful to too many people. And I've yet to find any question where it would actually matter.
by generic on Fri Oct 16th, 2020 at 12:50:26 AM EST
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doesn't seem to be all its cracked up to be...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Oct 16th, 2020 at 01:01:48 AM EST
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My apologies, I didn't think I was painting a rosy picture by stating Russia isn't the hellhole it used to be in the 90's.

Anyway, I was talking about Russia's internal development, whereas your counterpoints are 2/3 external issues. Thus I hope you don't mind if I address the last one first.

Mr. Navalnyi is by no stretch of imagination "opposition leader". For some reason western media thinks he is, even if his support is less than The Official Monster Raving Loony Party has in UK. And just like Lord Buckethead, his value in Russian politics was mostly entertainment. Even Russian independent media calls him "oppositionist" or "blogger".

The leader of Russian opposition is Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party holding 10% of the seats in State Duma and being very critical of the government. Communists also have two governors and over 400 seats in regional parliaments. In presidential elections Zyuganov gets 20%-30% of the votes, so he's an actual political force. And according to Levada polls, Zyuganov is the most trusted opposition politician, with 9% or Russians trusting him.

Next in line is Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democrats, with 9% of the seats in Duma, 3 governors and close to 300 seats in regional parliaments. At the moment Mistushin's cabinet has confidence of Liberal Democrats, and a lot of Russians believe they just pretend to be in opposition, anyway.

So, when Russia has actual opposition figures with actual support of millions of citizens, why on earth would Putin even notice Russian Lord Buckethead, not to speak of poisoning him with banned military grade neurotoxin on a public place?

Navalnyi's foundation wasn't even the biggest anti-corruption agent in Russia. Far from it. And, to quote the man himself from this June, his foundation "is pretty much over". The foundation tried to attack businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin (yes, "Putin's chef" and the owner of the "Kremlin troll factory"), but was caught faking the evidence in a documentary, lost in court and now owns millions in damages to Prigozhin personally.

The anti-corruption foundation is also under investigation for money laundering, so if the somebody was after Navalnyi, they surely got him by the balls without any attempt on his life needed.

This probably won't make you even consider the possibility that maybe Putin wasn't behind what happened in Tomsk, but to others it may at least give a pause.

Now, what happened in Tomsk seems to still be a mystery. What we know for a fact is that neither the doctors in Omsk nor in Berlin found any poison or toxins in his body. First report of neurotoxins was from German Military, but they refused to reveal what exactly was found, how it was found and where it was found. Then we hear from OPCW that they analyzed Navalnyi's blood and found some biomarkers related to organophophates but not to banned chemicals.

So, we don't actually know if he was poisoned, and if he was, with what he was poisoned. When asked, Germans refuse to tell.

What we do know, though, is that his symptoms were not those of one poisoned with nerve agent. He did not convulse, foam, vomit or die.

So, to counter you: it wasn't opposition leader, it very likely wasn't Putin, and we really don't know if it was poisoning.

Oh, and getting out of the country while under criminal investigation and during corona lock down was such a feat many people in Russia think he must have good friends in Kremlin...

As for the other two points about Russian influence, what can I say?

According to an Article in Business Insider, the idea that Russia was supporting right-wing movements appeared sometimes in 2009, pushed by think-tanks, but without any evidence. The article was written in 2014, and yet there still was no evidence of this whatsoever, even though most of the western media was now taking it for granted.

The only evidence of this ever brought forward is that National Front got a loan from Russian commercial bank. Nobody ever claimed Kremlin even knew about this loan, or could have had any influence over the bank.
The other, I think, was a Russian car repair shop owner in Berlin funding AdF, but later he turned out to be Ukrainian, so that went away.

As for Putin forcing half of the UK to vote for Brexit, I can refer to recently published British Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee's "Russia Report". They called the most vehement Russophobes available to find evidence and proof beyond any doubt that Russia was behind all the bad things ever happened to Britain, but specifically investigate how Russia interfered with Brexit campaigning.

And they found nothing beyond a lot of allegations in media. None of the allegations had any substance, or evidence of interfering. Not even MI5 could help them. Their conclusion, though, was that UK government had failed to look hard enough. There had to be evidence, since it's obvious Russia interfered, even if there was no evidence. Can't argue with people like that...

Now, why stuff about Russia in British media may be somewhat economical with the truth, you may want to check out Integrity Initiative.

For examples of what proper interference in national politics actually looks like, see Belorussia, Venezuela, Greece or Columbia.

For what's it worth, during the campaign no Russian official expressed any preference either way. They just hoped that whatever happened, it would not cause any disturbance within EU, which is Russia's biggest trade partner. It may be really difficult to comprehend, but Russia prefers a stable Europe for it to make money out of. Brexit has a potential to damage that.

EU without UK may not be as Russophobic as with UK, but for Russia it's Germany that drives EU's anti-Russian policies, whether it's Ukraine or Nord Stream 2. And Brexit really did not change that in any way.

Sorry for a way too long post, even if this is the redacted version.

by pelgus on Wed Oct 14th, 2020 at 01:11:01 PM EST
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Excellent post, which I hadn't read when I wrote my comment above. It really is the guts of an excellent diary... A diary doesn't have to have all the answers, just enough logic or evidence to ask some cogent questions you may not get in the MSM...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 14th, 2020 at 02:49:34 PM EST
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Plenty of background in my diary of Dec. 2018

Hybrid Warfare: Statecraft Integrity Initiative

Typical for organized propaganda ...

Fake news hoax exposed: NY Times podcast star lied about joining ISIS

In the UK hundreds of millions is spend on militarized propaganda.

The Great British Brexit Robbery

How the Pentagon paid a British PR firm $500 million for top secret Iraq propaganda

No surprise for other powers using similar propaganda: China, Russia, Iran, UK, UAE, Qatar, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Wed Oct 14th, 2020 at 05:11:18 PM EST
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Behind Cambridge Analytica lay a bigger threat to our democracy: Facebook

Gets only more nefarious ...

How QAnon uses religion to lure unsuspecting Christians

US: Religious data platform 'targets mentally ill, vulnerable people' | DW |

Democracy in Decay: Steve Bannon & Jordan Peterson

In a climate of suspicion, roguish buffoons like Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro and Boris Johnson have lied and cheated their way to high office. The moral landscape has altered to a point where the truth doesn't seem to count for much anymore.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Thu Oct 15th, 2020 at 07:37:52 PM EST
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... and a Conservative nominee to the SCOTUS forced through by Republicans ... fundamental Catholic professing the right for religion to interfere in individual rights ... a cult follower of People of Praise

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Thu Oct 15th, 2020 at 07:46:33 PM EST
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An alternate take: Putin's (mob) faction triumphed and consolidated power. Putin came up through the KGB, retired in 1990 and, under Yeltsin, became Director of the KGB and then President. With the KGB at his disposal Putin had more power than any of the oligarch that sprang up under Yeltsin and has taken down or suborned most of them.

In most ways Putin has followed in the tradition of strong Tsars and their Communist successors, expanding and consolidating state power. Since Putin is in control of the state it is in his interest for the state to be strong and for Russia to be strong.

Putin's Achilles Heal has been the Russian Economy. Most of Russia's industry derived from the USSR and retains most of the features of a command/control economy. And too many of the 'market oriented' new companies that arose were in reality glorified vulture capitalist companies run primarily in the interest of enriching the CEO. Putin has taken down or forced into exile most of those. It turns out that establishing functioning markets is not a trivial exercise.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Oct 15th, 2020 at 01:17:41 AM EST
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