When your views, in your eyes, allow you to trample over other people’s lives

Putin faces international outcry over Pussy riot

When you have spent much time in close proximity to the young female yet far enough away to observe, just as any parent with a daughter has but also in a different way because her behaviour is often different from one to the other, then you see all the good and also most of the bad.

Quite apart from the wholly unhealthy way so many girls are growing up now, scarring them as much as indelible body tattoos, bereft of values, living within no traditional limits and ignorant as hell of all but the wrong*, the unimportant parts of life and history, on a high yet facing a life of uselessness – apart from all that, there has always been this 100% or nothing way with girls.

There is with young men too and that’s the age the oversimplifications of socialism and misplaced attacks on anything remotely smacking of “institution” have their day. Some never grow up, politically and so we get the misnamed left-liberals at their most benign, locked into a flawed reasoning about the nature of wealth and property.

There’s a secretary I’m currently friendly with and I put it to her the other day. Would she agree that it is terrible what is happening to the unfortunate members of society these days? Oh yes. Would you support the government helping these unfortunate people by giving them jobs and money and so on? Oh yes.

So therefore you’d give up your job for these people or half your salary because after all, there are only so many jobs and so much salary? She thought about that one and then came the predictable response about there being enough wealth to go round and look after these people. So, wealth is all that money out there which you don’t have but it should be partly given to good causes? Oh yes.

And where does that money come from in the first place? She pondered. I don’t think about all this politics thing ‘n all.  I agreed – it’s boring – but still I asked – from sales and taxes? Yes. So part of that money should be given to these unfortunates? Yes. OK, who decides how much and to whom – the government?

Well, yes.

OK, and when the government decides that your grandmother must now move out of her home which is too big for her, according to them, even though it is hers and she’s spent a lifetime getting to that position, you’d agree she should be thrown out and the house given to the unmarried mothers on benefits and the rehabilitating drug addicts from the Job Centre? Hell no – it doesn’t have to be them.

You’re right, it doesn’t. It could be five other grandmothers without homes? Your grandmother must share her house with them? Yes, no, I don’t know. And who decides which grandmothers get to share your grandmother’s family home? The local council worker? Well, no.

And if they decide, these faceless government functionaries, in their planning meetings, that you must vacate your home and/or they’ll put a tax of £50 a week on you to cover the unfortunates, when the council itself is wasting millions of pounds in Iceland and council officers are on £200000 a year, partly of your money, you’re quite happy with this?

They’re not getting any of my money. Yes but you’ve just said they can. You’ve just voted for a party which says that they have the right and obligation to do this to you. Maybe not to you as such but it’s now nothing to do with you what happens to what you earn. If you’ve saved up enough money for that dress or that trip and they say you must now pay part of that money to the unfortunates, meaning you either don’t have that trip or your credit card now goes beyond the limit – you’re quite happy about that?

No but we have to look after the disabled and all that. Yes, said I, those that truly are incapable, could never, ever work, maybe 2% of the population – our taxes would cover that. But what you’ve given permission for – you and millions of others – is for other people out there to decide for you how your money is spent. No – they’re not touching my money.

But they are doing this right now – you’ve agreed earlier that they may do this. Now take jobs – let’s say that a secretary gets the same salary as a neuro-surgeon. The surgeon studies for five years and then does an internship and you, though you’re a wonderful secretary, do not do that. Yet you both have the same salary. But that’s wrong, she said. But that’s what these people are offering you. If I am offered shift work as a shelf stacker and the same as a neuro-surgeon, which will I do, which will anyone do and what does that do to society?

Further, when you go out of those doors today and some man comes up and demands money because he needs it, not making any threats but asking for it, do you give him the money in your purse? I don’t have money, I have cards. OK, you take him to the hole in the wall and get money out for him. Well, if I liked him and wanted to. So, if you decided his case was valid, that he deserved it, you’d do that? Well yes.

So you’d be happy to do this as long as you had the power to decide whom to and how much? Yes – are you saying that’s wrong? Not at all, I replied – I’m agreeing with you that it’s your right to decide. But you gave that right away. No I didn’t. You did when you agreed that the government had to look after these partnerless mothers. The government then decides who gets the money and who it is taken from.

Couldn’t they make more? Government doesn’t make money – it collects and distributes it. Businesses and shopkeepers make money, you make money in exchange for your services. The wealth as we mentioned before, is made by you. The government and various political groups come along and say to you – you are the worker, you make the money, give it to us so we can distribute it to those we think are worthy.

No, never. Unfortunately, yes, in the eyes of such people. And when you and your guy, who have taken a mortgage for a house or flat and are paying monthly for that, when you are told by someone outside, like a council worker, that your house is now needed, you gladly give it over, saying – well, it’s for the good of the down-and-outs? Never. But if you saw a down-and-out and thought his case just, that he really does need help – you’d help him? Well yes but only if I decided.

OK, so you’ve now decided that you’d help some of the unfortunates, along with millions of other people thinking the same way, and you might even agree to some taxation – say, 10-15% – for this to cover those people, as well as other services you’d expect? Yes. But the government looks at you … and let’s say you and your partner have been successful, you’ve started up a little business together and it’s struggling but surviving. The government looks at you two and says – we want 50% of that.

That’s wrong, she said. Yes but when we agree to the government doing these things, we are handing over the power to decide for us. I never said they could do that.   Just help the disabled like.   Yes that’s how you see it, that’s how I see it, that’s how so many of us see it – but they don’t see it this way, these people above us.   They see that because you put a tick in a box for them every so often, that they have the right to decide where your money and property go.   Our money, our property, is no longer ours – it goes into the great pool of money from which officials and committees and politicians can take their slice, with some of of it trickling down to people they favour.

So what’s the solution [?], she despaired. Never vote for any party with grandiose schemes of helping the unfortunates. Never vote for any party which talks about millions of your money. Because they’re either lying or are stacked with the type of people who haven’t a clue.  But that’s all the parties. Yes, it is, certainly the Big 3. Well who should I vote for? For a start, it’s your choice, not mine or anyone else’s. However, if you ask my opinion on this, I’d vote for anyone local who would help local business. Because from business comes sustainable jobs and I’d like there to be a few jobs around here.

But they say they will create jobs, they all try to make jobs. Yes, they say they do but don’t show any mechanism as to how that can be achieved. Whereas, if you vote for some local person who will vote in council or parliament for reducing taxes and boosting local businesses and if millions across the country do that, then it gets back to how you said you liked it – with it being your choice and your charity towards others, on your say-so.

I have to get back. Can we talk about this again? If you wish.

………..

Which has little to do with Pussy Riot. The problem is not what they said or whom against – the problem is that they, just as much as Putin, showed little respect. They felt that their 100% or nothing cause was so important and they were so important in bringing this to the world’s attention, that they could desecrate somone else’s church in order to do it.

Someone had filled their head with maggots about “religion”, equating the patriarchs in bed with Putin to the millions upon millions of devout people who respect what the church represents. Those worshipeprs inside that church felt that respect was needed. The three girls decided, just as the outside forces did in the secretary saga above, that it was quite Ok to profane what someone else held dear, on the grounds that they’d decided their own cause was just and more important than those other people’s lives.

Many are not happy with these girls, of no life experience but full of their own perceived wisdom:

Valentina Ivanova, a retired doctor, told Reuters: “What they did showed disrespect towards everything, and towards believers first of all.”

And this has come through to me from Russia over and over – those girls were in no position of knowledge of what it was all about, about life itself and history, to take that action and think it was without consequences. But we’re the good people, against Putin, they’re so convinced. They think this incarceration is support for their cause.

No, the ordinary Russians do not support this desecration because their desecration is precisely what the communist regime and then the corrupt presidents were doing. These girls – and I suspect many readers – will not see this in the least.

………..

From Rossa, hot off the press:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/08/14/philadelphia-woman-faces-600-day-fine-for-feeding-needy-neighborhood-kids/

………..

*  Waiting for someone to pick up on this one.

21 comments for “When your views, in your eyes, allow you to trample over other people’s lives

  1. Tom
    August 18, 2012 at 9:31 am

    The womens’ conduct was reprehensible, certainly. But they are guilty at most of trespass, which should be a civil matter. The Church was entitled to remove them, sue them for any damage and perhaps obtain an injunction preventing them entering any of its premises again. I can’t help feeling its more severe response was due to the Patriarch’s political, not religious, affiliations.

    The reason they are going to gaol for two years is that they oppose Putin’s brilliantly-euphemistic “managed democracy”. I suspect they are at least as much self-publicists as political campaigners and, like you, I think their approach ill-judged. But in a free society this would have had nothing to do with the criminal courts. And they HAVE raised Putin’s profile world-wide to the possible benefit of Russia’s future. And they HAVE risked this sentence (and they would have feared a worse one) to do it. We have to respect that.

    Just maybe the illegitimacy of the regime legitimises their actions? If they trigger a movement that leads to a free Russia, perhaps we will one day regard their trespassing as lightly as we now do that of Lech Walesa when he climbed over the shipyard wall?

    You are a believer, James. What would Jesus do? We know what he did when there were moneylenders in the Temple. What would have done if he had found an ex-KGB man there providing an ethical front for an ex-colleague’s violence and corruption?

    • August 18, 2012 at 9:44 am

      Tom, I’m not arguing with “overkill” but I would argue that overkill has achieved a certain amount too. When the pirates who’d hijacked a Russian ship were chained to the ship after being overpowered and the ship then blown up, it created a situation where they tend to steer clear of Russian ships now. British yachts are far easier meat because our government caves in.

      The Russian people – and you and I above all people here, having lived there for so long and immersed ourselves in the culture would know this – have things they hold dear. Despite everything we, as westerners would marvel at, e.g. how could anyone support a church which aligned itself with the state to oppress people, still know that traditions and things like mother church run deep in the Russian mind.

      In fact, the ability to keep [illegally] saying prayers and the like was a form of protest in soviet days, which we’re approaching over here.

      As was said in that quote – and I am in correspondence even this morning with three Russians on the matter – these girls could not contain their own feminist/socialist induced hatred enough to make their protest in a way which would not offend ordinary Russians.

      So though the Putin issue goes on and I don’t disagree, it’s that they chose a sabor to spread their venom in a most desecrating way which has shocked Russia over this matter. Sure there are rent-a-crowds sent by those who think Putin has a vulnerability in this but talk to Russians about these people and these people are distrusted just as much as Putin. Not hated – distrusted.

      It’s not a lot different to the “rebels” in the middle-east. Again, you above all people, Tom, would know nothing is ever that simple in Russia.

      Tom, you wrote: “The womens’ conduct was reprehensible, certainly. But …” I am saying, double-checked with my Russian friends this morning – that it should be: “Putin’s behaviour has been reprehensible but these girls crossed a line in Russia which must never be crossed if they ever hope to have people’s goodwill behind them.”

      …………

      What would [He] have done if he had found an ex-KGB man there providing an ethical front for an ex-colleague’s violence and corruption? He would do exactly as I’m following in the the footsteps and trying to do – call these people out, run them out of town, expose them.

      But this analogy is a far cry from the situation over there with these girls – there are other factors at work, such as people’s own opinions on Putin they never speak, such as the intergenerational thing about communism or not, such as the western diseases such as femininism raising their heads, such as oil and fear of America and China.

      If these girls had protested at the Lenin memorial or in some conspicuous place – at the opera – then the west could say that 2 years was specifically OTT. But that wasn’t the agenda – this was religious, anti-Christianity. Not anti-Church because what they did didn’t harm the Church at all but it did hurt people’s sensibilities across that vast land. We can’t even say it was a stupid, strategically unwise move by the girls – it was actually quite deliberate and in line with forces we’re also battling here and which many libertarians of the atheist variety align themselves with – the forces of oppression.

    • Kevin
      August 19, 2012 at 3:14 am

      They were tried under Russian law, not English law. Did the prosecution and the judge apply the law?

      If they drew international media attention to Russia it is probably because Liberals hate Christians. Nothing to do with Russia per se.

      Christ did not profane the temple. He drove away people who were profaning the temple.

  2. The Nameless Libertarian
    August 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    While I think their behaviour was crass and insensitive (and I say that as an atheist with no respect for the Church in any of its forms) for the story isn’t about their thinking and its limitations; it is the fact that they are doing to prison for basically being dicks (and I know, given their politics, they would hate to be called dicks). Tom is right; this should be a civil matter but these women are going to prison for insenitivity and causing offence; and that is stunning indictment of any country where that sort of thing happens.

    • August 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm

      Oh no – far more than for being dicks. For spitting on the soul of their homeland. That’s what people are down on – but one needs to be Russian to feel that. Westerners have their own quaint angles on these things. Nothing wrong with that either but a Brit is in about as much position to judge a narodni [or peoplish] matter in Russia as a Russian would be to speak on our internal matters.

      • Tom
        August 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm

        I am curious. What are our internal matters on which an educated and intelligent Russian could not usefully offer an opinion? In the course of six wonderful years in Moscow I engaged in many richly-textured discussions of the ways of life in both countries and have never known a nation whose intellectuals were keener to try to understand others’ weirdnesses, or to explain theirs to others.

        “You can’t understand because you’re not from here” may be the response of a peasant, but it would not be that of a Russian intellectual.

        • August 18, 2012 at 7:15 pm

          Oh there’s so much to comment on here.

          # For a start, TNL’s “I’d agree with Tom.” What did Mandy Rice -Davies say? LOL. On what basis, TNL? Knowledge of the internal workings of Russia?

          # OK Tom – you’re bringing in something else extraneous with talk of intellectuals – you know they’re a different breed who were one lot I was thrown in with, probably for the same reason you were – they wanted it that way.

          # You refer to peasantry. Oh ho ho! My goodness – wonder what the ordinary people would think of that! The ordinary people – the teachers, street sweepers, shop assistants, were the second lot I was immersed with and the third were the students. I can’t believe you actually wrote that – that the non-intellectuals are peasantry.

          # Now you, as a lawyer, also know not to misquote someone. Yet you do. The words you put in my mouth are “You can’t understand because you’re not from here.”

          Trouble is – I never wrote that. To check on this, run the first few words of my supposed quote in the “find” mechanism on your browser and see how many times it comes up – yep, only with Tom. So what Tom put in inverted commas, which in journalistic terms means one of two things – either it is put as an alleged situation or it is put as a direct quote – has been run as if it was a direct quote from me. If Tom had said something like “in as many words”, that might have been OK.

          The reason it is not Ok is because it shifts the tone of what I said and what I said wrote was not as Tom wrote. If it had been , I’d not have taken issue with it. You may say Tom was not quoting me but he was taking a sentiment close to what I did actually express and run one very close to it as a quote of a peasant. There was no distinction made between the two to differentiate. There needed to be.

          # Longrider wrote: ““Respect” is not a right. It is earned. We do not owe others’ beliefs respect and they have no right to expect it.”

          Absolutely, LR.

          # TNL, you write: “their act was one of protest, not one of violence”. What utter *&^&*. It was very much one of violence against an institution which has given many ordinary Russians, in their darkest hours, much succour. I know this because I had it explained to me by grandparents and parents over meals over the 12 years I was there living with the Russian people.

          What you’re trying to do, TNL and so are so many Brits who don’t know, is apply your nice quaint British way to Russia [along with a dose of closet atheism]. It doesn’t work, any more than those Russians can understand that America does not plan to come across the border in waves at any moment, one of their prime fears.

          To illustrate that in another tale, I wrote to two South Africans I know to get the lowdown on the mine killings. It looked like capital v labour but I was told that that would be a misreading of South Africa – that it was internecine tribal warfare, exacerbated by the bosses. The reason for the opening for the second union is that the ANC got too careless.

          Now I accepted that I didn’t have the wherewithal to analyse that situation and neither did I have the arrogance to think I could. I tried to find out about it.

          There is this tendency in debate in this country in particular to mouth off about something one knows nothing about. As an intellectual, one can know the facts and figures about another country, read Pushkin and Lermontov and know about Gasprom. One might even visit for sometime but occasionally it is wise to acknowledge that someone who lived in among a people might just know something about them, particularly one in daily touch with Russia and being fed Russian thinking on a more or less daily basis.

          Within that context, I’m saying that the rent-a-crowd will certainly be out in force in Moscow and other key cities but they always are. It’s the ordinary people, on the other hand, who will determine whether Putin stays or falls in an act of civil disobedience.

          # What are our internal matters on which an educated and intelligent Russian could not usefully offer an opinion?

          How Kernow feel, the West-Lothian question as an English nationalist sees it, the acceptance of obesity, the divisions even within England, the use of statute rather than law for the EU to put itself upon us, underlying reasons for the vandalism during the riots, going into policy which goes back some years.

          I’m not saying he could not offer an opinion but 1. would it be useful and 2. would he even offer it? My experience of the Russian intellectual is that he will try to understand and ask questions, relating it as far as he can to his own experience at home … just as I did when I was there. I didn’t waltz in and start giving my opinions on Russia to Russians and not even by the end did I do that.

          # I’ll be accused of arrogance in my tone in this comment and stand condemned but I can’t be accused of arrogance in my approach, which is that when an issue comes up somewhere in the world, one should connect with someone as close to primary source as possible before offering a “useful” opinion. Anyone can offer a pub philosopher opinion – I’m talking about an informed one.

          If this had been about something Gasprom had done, then any opinion is fine – yours, mine, an American’s but on this issue of the desecration – that needs knowledge of how things are over there.

          • Tom
            August 18, 2012 at 8:53 pm

            Come on James. Reading your tart responses there, no passing man on a Clapham omnibus would think that of the two of us, I am the lawyer! Stop quibbling and engage like the honest man you are.

            Between intellectuals and peasants there are many other categories (some of whom, in a pleasing bit of scarecrow manufacture, you listed). I agree that many of them would have something to say too and I would have the humility to listen to it, I hope. You are a smart enough guy to know exactly what point I was making – and it wasn’t to dump you in a category labelled “peasant.” It was actually to urge you back toward the category in which you belong; the intellectual.

            All this “Slavic Soul” stuff is beneath you, frankly. Just as it’s beneath those Russians who deploy it not pleasantly, as part of that warm boozy sentimentality that makes many of them so loveable, but to mean “you can’t understand because you’re not from here” (a quote from them, not you). It really just means “I am losing this argument rationally so here’s some pseudo-mystical bullshit to make you back off from expressing an opinion I don’t like”.

            Shame on you. You are right to share your understandings of the Russian response to this issue with those in the West who imagine everyone else to be a would-be (or failed) Westerner. But these – in Russian terms – are courageous young women and (despite their misjudgement in upsetting the decent faithful) are on the whole a credit to their wonderful country.

            Unlike the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, who (however decent some of the faithful may be) is a stooge of a corrupt, authoritarian regime.

            • August 18, 2012 at 9:18 pm

              Tom, your words:

              what point I was making – and it wasn’t to dump you in a category labelled “peasant.” It was actually to urge you back toward the category in which you belong

              I didn’t think you were referring to me at all as a peasant. I know you weren’t. My words were: “You refer to peasantry. Oh ho ho! My goodness – wonder what the ordinary people would think of that!”

              Meaning I thought you were referring to the only people who would take that point of view [within Russia] being peasants. The issue I took with that is that while Pushkin certainly referred to the peasant soul and it is used by intellectuals to refer to the petit-bourgeoisie of today, it is a term of insult over there, along with “byezkulturni” or uncultured.

              Obviously no skin of my nose personally but I think some of them would look at that askance.

              It really just means “I am losing this argument rationally so here’s some pseudo-mystical bullshit to make you back off from expressing an opinion I don’t like”.

              LOL – are you saying I’m losing the argument or they are? I never thought there was an argument. I thought we were having an ascerbic discussion. 🙂

              And you say there are no feelings people have in a land? You introduced the colourful “Slavic soul” into it – another strawman – I didn’t. I gave examples, in response to your question about issues that could be usefully commented on, which are close to us. That is – in all lands there are issues close to people and we certainly have a few in these islands.

              They do too – the status of the church is certainly not central to the average Russian but when it’s thrown into sharp relief for wind-up purposes, as those girls did, then the issue obviously comes front and square, does it not? I don’t think everyday about migrants but if an islamic fundamentalist does something, then obviously it goes to the front of the consciousness.

              Are you seriously suggesting there are not things close to the ordinary Russian, of which Putin is undoubtedly a main one, by the way? And are you seriously suggesting I would not be aware of those, that I was living in a cocoon the whole time?

              Pray, how is this “losing an argument”? I’m intrigued.

              ………..

              Tom – I missed one part, sorry:

              But these – in Russian terms – are courageous young women

              Going into a holy place to do dirt on it is “courageous young women”? Perhaps we have different definitions of courageous. They were representing forces which have no respect and ultimately, people like that let one down. If they wanted to oppose Putin, why didn’t they do just that? Why drag in a faith? At least Femen stick to the issue at hand.

              Naturally you may beg to differ.

              • Tom
                August 19, 2012 at 12:42 am

                Yes people have feelings and get offended. Tough. It’s not a matter for legal protection.

                I do indeed beg to differ on these womens’ courage. They will have known gaol would result – and not some namby-pamby British gaol neither. I think they may actually be surprised by how short the sentence is.

                They have also made enemies of Anna Politkovskaya’s murderers. That brave woman was killed for pointing out rather *less* unpopular wickedness by Russia’s rulers.

                Misdirected courage, yes. They could certainly have chosen better targets. Their apology to the faithful offended seems to accept that. But they have shown more courage than I could be sure I would display in like circumstances.

                And the Russian Orthodox Church has shown itself very unchristian; where’s the cheek-turning? Where’s the forgiveness.

              • August 19, 2012 at 1:24 am

                That’s another interesting one you mention, Tom:

                Politkovskaya was being used by Basayev to promote the destabilization of Russia. For those who’ve forgotten, Basayev was behind Beslan. The murderers were supposedly Chechyen but people in Britain think Putin was behind it and in Russia – that Berezovsky was behind it.

                Many Russians wonder why Britain harbours criminals like Berezovsky etc.

                It’s difficult for people over here to get a balanced opinion on these things when only one side is ever told. The Chechyen view is different from the Brits’ and similar to the Russians’:

                http://rt.com/politics/berezovsky-financed-terrorists-by-paying-ransoms-chechen-prez/

                “He couldn’t just give money to the militants, so he invented this mechanism. In my presence, Berezovsky suggested to Raduyev and Basayev: ‘Capture people and I’ll ransom them. I’ll get good publicity and you’ll get money.’ He paid millions of dollars to Basayev,” Ramzan Kadyrov said.

                Kadyrov also said he believed Berezovsky was behind the killing of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. She was exposing crimes in the Chechen republic.

                Which throws a different light on what Litvinenko was really up to in London.

                “Few people notice Litvinenko’s terrorist ties”

                http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/3951
                http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2486268,00.html

                Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian intelligence agent poisoned in London, is to be buried according to Muslim tradition after converting to Islam on his deathbed.

                The spy’s father, Walter Litvinenko, said in an interview published today that his son – who was born an Orthodox Christian but had close links to Islamist rebels in Chechnya – made the request as he lay dying in University College Hospital.

                Russia profile:

                Alexander Litvinenko was a journalist working with the Chechen Press State News Agency. Between May 7, 2005 and October 24, 2006, just 8 days before the poisoning, the Chechen Press agency carried 26 bylined stories of Litvinenko’s. They are datelined London where, by the time of his poisoning, he had become a British citizen.

                ………..

                Plus this was interesting at the Spectator:

                “Our Pussy Riot outrage is monumental hypocrisy”

                http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/rod-liddle/2012/08/pussy-riot-thank-god-were-not-like-that-over-here/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pussy-riot-thank-god-were-not-like-that-over-here

                Now the reaction of Femen is interesting – rather then attack Putin, they choose to attack the cross:

                http://gawker.com/5935685/topless-femen-activist-takes-down-giant-cross-with-chainsaw-to-protest-pussy-riot-verdict-%5Bnsfw%5D

                While the verdict has riled many who feel their punishment does not fit the “crime,” no one is perhaps more upset than members of the Ukrainian feminist protest group FEMEN. To show the world just how pissed off they are, a topless FEMEN activist was sent to “chop down” a giant wooden cross situated near Independence Square in Kiev.

                The cross was installed near the city’s International Center for Culture and Arts following Ukraine’s Orange Revolution. It served as a memorial for the victims of Communism.

                Courageous young women? Or another agenda altogether?

          • The Nameless Libertarian
            August 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm

            You could be accused of arrogance in your assumption that other people are simply offiering pub philosopher opinions (not that I’m making that accusation, of course). I can only speak for myself, but my opinions are based on a detailed study of the internal workings of Russia both in the days of the USSR and more recently, as well as discussing this issues with Russian and East European friends (and other issues as well, especially around Putin’s rule).

            I also think you’ve got a pretty flexible definition of violence going on here. While what they did was pretty offensive, it wasn’t an act of violence unless causing offence is an act of violence (and some of the best articles on this place are about people getting over the feeling of offence). And the fact that the Church has offered succour to many in Russia during the totalitarian nightmare does not make what the girls did as something I, at least, can recognise as an act of violence. And it certainly doesn’t justify the draconian sentence.

            And there is nothing closet about my atheism – I am completely open about it. Indeed, look at my first comment here where I directly declare my lack of respect for the Church and the fact that I am an atheist. Just as you don’t hide your Christianity, James, I don’t hide the fact that I am an atheist. Indeed, why would I?

      • The Nameless Libertarian
        August 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm

        Again, I’d agree with Tom but expand his thought slightly. It is perfectly possible for intelligent Westerners to empathise with how the people in Russia are feeling as well as vice versa. Besides, even if these ladies did spit on the soul of their homeland, their act was one of protest, not one of violence, and as crass and offensive to some people in Russia as it might have been, it does not warrant two years in the slammer.

        • August 19, 2012 at 8:17 am

          It is perfectly possible for intelligent Westerners to empathise with how the people in Russia are feeling as well as vice versa.

          Yes, TNL but first you have to know how they’re feeling and it’s not always as portrayed in our manipulative MSM. See the further comments re Litvinenko et al.

  3. August 18, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    “Respect” is not a right. It is earned. We do not owe others’ beliefs respect and they have no right to expect it.

    So, these girls were guilty of trespass – as mentioned above, which should be a civil matter. They did no actual harm so far as I am aware. Being a bit of a dick is not actual harm – if it was, the world’s gaols would be overflowing. As it is, they are likely to win a propaganda coup and the authorities have shot themselves in the foot. Which is no bad thing.

  4. Bruce Charlton
    August 19, 2012 at 7:10 am

    On issues about which I know very little – I am prejudiced. In this case, seeing who opposes Putin and why – I am naturally prejudiced in favour of Putin.

    But it is certainly good to hear more background.

    The difference which JH highlights is that we in the UK are very heavily desensitized in relation to desecration and heresy; this is the product of many decades of almost continuous and deliberate exposure.

    It is standard behavioural therapy. People are naturally disgusted by desecration, as people are naturally afraid of snakes; but this can be unlearned by repeated exposure.

    We, in the West, (since 1967) believe with moralistic fervour that it is both good and a mark of high status never to be offended by deliberate blasphemy – just as we now regard it as both ethical and sophisticated never to be viscerally disgusted by a wide range of sexual behaviours and acts which spontaneously strike people as wicked or disgusting.

    That aside- this whole business looks like it was supported, funded, and quite possibly inspired by, subversive Leftist Western activity – which is happening a lot in Russia at present (in an ironic reversal of the pre-1989 situation in the West).

    Whether the prosecuted were agents or hapless dupes, they were ‘set-up’ to try and discredit Putin in the eyes of the world media.

    Will it work? In the eyes of the world media, yeah – sure it will.

    But in Russia? I don’t know, but I would guess it will work strongly to support Putin in his opposition to subversive foreign influence, and to encourage him to strengthen his alliance with the Orthodox Church.

    As a Christian I would be happy with that, since it brings the restoration of the Tsardom closer – probably, maybe.

    • August 19, 2012 at 8:04 am

      Regarding Putin – I’m not disagreeing with Tom and my other countrymen but I also have to be careful – not for myself but for my friends who are fairly easy to work out for authorities who they are over there. I’d entertained hopes of getting back for a visit and hadn’t criticized Putin for that reason, even though he was directly responsible for my exit in 2008 [and that of so many other Brits].

      This thing goes way back into Soviet times and Stalin. Basically, through pogroms, purges and the restructuring of the entire population, de-intellectualizing it in effect, and losing from 10 to 30 million, depending on which figure you accept – and those were young men, including the cream of the crop and dissidents – through that came a compliant, desensitized population who nevertheless held, in many of the female population to something else, anything else, even Mother Church and men who turn to the vodka bottle. Vodka was still a major issue when I was over there.

      I regret my tone with TNL and Tom [don’t know what’s wrong with me lately] and sure TNL can have informed opinions on the changed demographics, can read affidavits by Russians and long works by them and they’d be quite valid.

      Where I dug in was on this religious thing. I was most surprised to find that so many women – wives and mothers – would actually go to the church to light candles. My gf was pretty well irreligious and part of the new crop tainted by the likes of me from the outside. Yesterday, I spent an hour with a Polish girl I know and we were discussing just that – the new Eastern-European girl. She it was who was far more scathing than me because she is tainted by what other women from over there are doing out in the west.

      Everyone knows about the influence of grandmothers over there on the family and it was once so but has much diminished as children are weaned off the family for values and onto the World Culture which includes all the things Bruce wrote of above. This is not hard to pinpoint, timewise – around 1999 through to about 2003 – that’s when it really gathered pace as Russia dallied with Europe to a much greater extent than previously and travelling outside plus foreigners coming in gathered pace.

      That influence from the west has confirmed in many people’s minds over there that the Soviets were right all along – it is decadent out here and it will destroy the family. The Russians are also superstitious and that might have derived as something which filled the void of the atheistic USSR.

      I’m going to post on this later and include much of this text in it. Suffice to say that there are a lot of influences which tend to make people support a strong person at the top who will bring order. Many will put up with a certain amount of corruption at the top – let them have their foibles and rake off millions, as long as they keep all the lawless in society from their doorstep.

      You might say it’s a result of a patriarchal religion but many intellectuals over there say it is the dearth of the values of Christianity. Though those at the top was corrupt, they still preached those values and those values are what sustained many, while nationalism did for others and so on. There’s a great deal of missing of the prowess of the Red army too.

      In all of this, the notion of three ignorant young women spitting on Mother Russia is not a good one. Most people might have silently supported them if they’d done it in a Yeltsinesque, top-of-tank way but they didn’t – they were grubby.

      This is where TNL will never see it because he doesn’t view these things and that behaviour as grubby – he excuses them and so does Tom. Sorry but “reprehensible but …” is not real condemnation. Far more central in these gentlemen’s minds was Putin and the trampling of liberty.

      To a point, both worthy gentlemen are right and I’d be flying in the face of facts to disagree with them on that but one does need to understand the whys and wherefores of the strange Russian manner in many things and there are reasons, which the Russians, once they trust you, will divulge – if they’re of the intellectual class. The ordinary Russian doesn’t always know why himself.

      Russia is tragic and what it is in their souls I’ve never been able to come to terms with but it’s there all right. I don’t think that Slavik Soul is accurate. The Romanian soul is different to the Russian and even the Ukrainian – there’s not one Slavik Soul.

      There’s definitely a British soul and you see it behind TNL’s and Tom’s comments. Wolfie also once said that alcohol plays quite a part in it.

      All of this needs a post but whether to run it at OoL I’m not sure as it’s not directly an OoL matter.

      • The Nameless Libertarian
        August 19, 2012 at 12:25 pm

        Sorry James, but you’re simply not right here – I do see their behaviour as grubby and calling it reprehensible is condemning it as far as I am concerned. But there’s a big difference between saying that a act is wrong and saying that act is wrong and it is right to lock these women up for two years.

        Intrigued by this notion of British soul, though, so I look forward to reading your post on that.

    • August 19, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Given that Putin was part of the old regime, I am inclined to a different point of view – that is, I am sympathetic to those who oppose him.

      • August 19, 2012 at 9:51 am

        And you’re not wrong, LR but what this above has been about is not opposing Putin – that is a given – but the other issues, now in the new post.

        As for Putin, he is one of the siloviki. This is the rump of the old KGB who liked a bit of biffo and assassination. He protects their doings and they are his praetorian. Everyone knows it over there, no one speaks, except privately.

        These girls had it on a plate as the new Andrei Sakharovs – they might even have struck a blow for women – but they blew it because it became apparent they had a Them agenda [or “western” in Russian eyes] which had little to do with Putin except as a focal point. Femen are from the same stable and the target is easy to see.

  5. Tom
    August 19, 2012 at 8:23 am

    No need to regret your tone with me James. This is interesting and important stuff. Russia and the West would love each other if they knew each other better. And it’s becoming urgent for the West as it declines politically, if not economically. To adopt a tone of condescension to a nation whose GDP (despite the corruption holding it back) will grow by more than that of the whole EU between now and 2020 is unlikely to be productive. Your experiences are relevant and It’s good you share what you have learned.

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