Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

13 March 2018. They’re Really One Party


They’re really one party… the neoliberals and neocons… they believe that “might makes right” and “winning is the only thing”. Liberals are paying the cost of enabling the Clintons… Conservatives are paying the cost of enabling Reagan. The late V S Zorin (a Gosteleradio staffer in DC for years) said:

I never forgot that Reagan was an actor.

Apparently, the American people didn’t remember that… opening the way for the present Dark Age.



The Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples Republics Deserve International Recognition



This is a cri de coeur of an ordinary woman (perhaps, with dodgy English-language skills). She isn’t “important”… she isn’t part of the media or of the Establishment. She’s just a Plain Jane, like you and me. For that reason, we should heed her. You can listen to Rebekka Peres or you can listen to CNN and MSNBC. It’s your choice. I don’t think you that you need to know where I stand!


It’s the will of the people of the Donbass. The USA financed a coup (Maidan) in the Ukraine in 2014 that overthrew President V F Yanukovich. The current Ukrainian government is an illegal government because it was born of a coup d’état. The USA created the current Ukrainian government. Ukrainian nationalists (Nazis) are ruling the country. The USA supplies weapons to the Nazi junta in Kiev. The US military presence in the Ukraine is illegal. The only terrorists in the Ukraine are the Nazis of the OUN and the Verkhovnaya Rada. The Nazi Azov Battalion is under the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Nazis are part of the National Guard. The Nazis demolished many Soviet monuments in the Ukraine. The Nazis are deputies in the Verkhovnaya Rada.

How can the world support this Nazi government? Do people no longer remember Nazi Germany? In the Ukraine, the same thing is happening. People who forget history have to repeat it. The people of the Donbass decided to declare independence from the Ukraine in 2014 in a referendum and created their own republics. They opposed the Nazi régime in the Ukraine. The only legal and democratically elected governments in the area are the governments of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples Republics.

The people of the Donbass have no problem with the ordinary people of the Ukraine. They only oppose the Ukrainian nationalists and the Nazi junta in Kiev. No anti-fascist anywhere can support the Nazi régime created and financed by the USA. The only foreign military personnel in the Ukraine are the Americans who train the Ukrainian Army. I’d like to see the whole country free of Western imperialism and the downfall of the Nazi régime oppressing the Ukrainian people. However, it’s a complicated situation. Right now, the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples Republics deserve recognition from the international community.

It’s shameful and unacceptable that the international community forgot Nazi Germany and supports the genocidal Nazi Ukrainian government. The politicians of the Verkhovnaya Rada deserve to stand trial before a war crimes tribunal for the crimes they committed against their own people. All must realise that the current Ukrainian government is an illegal entity and all countries must cease relations with it. The Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples Republics deserve international recognition.

12 March 2018

Rebekka Peres

Help Donbass


Why America Should Have Had the World’s Best Social Contract (Instead of Settling For the Worst)


I worry about Americans. It seems to me that they just aren’t aware as they should be that they could and should have the world’s best working social contract (with vibrant, robust healthcare, education, income, savings, safety nets, media) instead of settling for the most dysfunctional broken one (after all, even nations like Costa Rica and Rwanda are developing basic public healthcare). Hence, it appears to me that Americans believe in a series of backward myths about themselves, the world, and society. Recited constantly, they keep them in the dark, which is why they settle for the worst.

Myth: Only small countries can have working social contracts 

One of the greatest ironies in the world to me is that the very opposite is true… big countries can have by far better ones. How? Think about insurance, the bigger a pool is, the lower the cost for each member. Now, what does that really mean?

Reality: People in bigger countries can enjoy (way) greater benefits from working social contracts than people in little ones 

A small nation like Denmark or Sweden or even a medium-sized one like France or Britain can’t realise the same economies of scale that a big one like America can… there are only 10 million people, each of whom pays more to insure one another. However, American has 300 million people. Yet, by a long way, American healthcare is the most expensive in the world and delivers the least benefits. Precisely the opposite could and should be true… as there are more Americans to insure one another, it could be the cheapest in the world, with the greatest benefits, by a very long way. However, it requires a true public healthcare institution, like an American Healthcare Service, to make that true. That same principle is true for every component of a social contract, whether education, media, or safety nets… more people share the high fixed costs, so they’re (way) cheaper for a bigger society like America than a small one like Sweden. Then, isn’t it funny that American thought doesn’t ever seem to consider that?

Myth: It’s impossible to build institutions for 300 million people, we wouldn’t know how to manage or run them

LOL. What do you think your local Apple store is? If Apple can do it for gadgets, why can’t we do it for healthcare? Wal-Mart, Google, Amazon, and the government already do it every day without breaking a sweat. We know how to do it in spades.

Reality: Building working public institutions, like an American BBC or NHS, is how to repair broken bonds, renew communities, and rebuild the economy one life and town a time 

Let’s say you’re a poor kid in West Virginia with no income, savings, mobility, opportunity, hope, life. You’ve seen your friends, in despair, with no futures, OD… you’re thinking about turning to drugs, too, but you harbour a great desire to help people like you, to be an abuse counsellor, only you have no idea or way to be one. Your only option is what capitalism can provide, insanely-expensive twelve step “rehab” programs that never address your severe trauma of living through collapse with real psychotherapy, not just “drug abuse counselling”, because that’s more costly than just putting you in a boot camp, so it goes untreated, and you cycle on and off drugs forever.

Now imagine that our AHS was there in your neighbourhood. It would need just such counsellors, right? Voila, supply and demand meet… you might get training for just the job they need… where they don’t right now because there’s a “market failure”, which is to say, a void. That broken town might come back to life. Now fast-forward five years into the future. That AHS needs managers, there you are… suddenly, and you have a career, and all it brought with it, opportunity, mobility, security, optimism, belonging, meaning purpose. How wonderful. Now multiply that by a thousand times, and ten million lives. How beautiful. That’s how a society and economy begins to heal, mature, and grow… when institutions, both public and private, allow lives to flourish.

Myth: Public institutions provide low-quality crap! It’s usually expensive! I don’t want to pay taxes for that… in fact, I don’t want to pay taxes at all! 

Look. You’re going to get taxed either way, by monopolistic corporations or a government, and if you really can’t abide that, if you don’t want, say, water and roads, be my guest and move to Somalia. The question is, which one is a better deal? Let’s consider the BBC. I pay about two hundred bucks a year. What do I get? I get three TV channels and six radio stations. I pay about two hundred bucks a month in the States for a billion channels. Now, here’s the irony that’s often impossible for American to understand… less, in this case, is infinitely more. I click around in the States and rarely find something to watch, I decline porn, cop and surgery shows, it’s all mostly catastrophe vaudeville about the victims of late capitalism. However, I can watch the BBC endlessly, and so do you, maybe you just don’t know it, because its shows are rebranded for Americans, Masterpiece Theatre and so on. For that BBC licence, I get Blue Planet, Civilisation, all those cop and detective shows, the Great Bake-Off, movies, soaps, and so on. Do you see the difference? I pay a tenth of what I do in the States, and I get infinitely higher quality. So much higher quality that most of the shows ripped off by American media come from the Beeb… The Voice, The Bake-Off, etc. The level of quality isn’t just high, it’s beyond what capitalism can give you, whole categories of shows like documentaries by famed academics and writers and artists and wildlife docs like Blue Oceans exist there that can’t in America, all those cute fun Bake-Off style shows you love watching on Netflix, films tackling tough social issues, and so on.

Reality: You’ll save (a lot of) money and have a better life by paying society way less for much higher-quality public goods, instead of trying to buy healthcare, media, education, and safety from capitalism, which it’ll never really provide well to begin with, and only give you at nosebleed high prices 

Now let’s think about it from the BBC’s side. It only needs a fixed amount to produce all that stuff, those three TV and six radio channels. Crucially, that amount doesn’t change depending on how many people are in a society, right? So again, a BBC would be way cheaper in America than it is in Britain, simply because there are more people to pay for it, a hundred bucks a year, not even two hundred. Are you telling me you wouldn’t pay a hundred bucks a year for a BBC, instead of a few thousand to Comcast, now that I’ve explained it to you? (If you want to do both, be my guest… I do.) Here’s the point, not only does a working social contract cost less, the benefits are way greater too, social institutions provide goods to a quality that capitalism is simply unable to even usually dream of.

Myth: We can’t afford a working social contract 

Have you followed me so far? If you have, we’ve learned that a working social contract is:

  • cheaper for a big country
  • a better deal for people than capitalism
  • offers quality that capitalism alone can’t ever really provide
  • the only thing that can repair a broken society, one town and one life at a time

A deficit doesn’t matter much when people are giving up on democracy because they don’t have decent lives of dignity, belonging, and purpose.

Reality: A working social contract isn’t what’s unaffordable, not having one is what’s unaffordable. That’s American decline’s fundamental lesson. 

I want to drive that home to you. Consider our poor West Virginia kid again. He gets addicted. His parents mortgage their home to pay for “rehab”… no AHS, remember? However, because there’s no AHS, too, “rehab” means a twelve-step program… all capitalism can provide … not real psychotherapy that addresses the profound trauma he’s lived through. Therefore, he cycles in and out of this subpar capitalist rehab. His parents are renting a little place now. He’s living on the streets. What was unaffordable for them… a working social contract or the lack of one? Multiply that by a million… what happens to a society? Now… people lose faith in the future, each other, and themselves. They give up and numb the pain away. Therefore, like any traumatised abused soul, they end up believing what’s backwards… what might save them is unaffordable, unattainable, and impossible, so going on this way, in this terrible suffering, is the only option that they have. Thus, democracy falls apart and people turn to authoritarianism… that’s the story of every falling empire, from Rome to the Reich.

How sad. How wrong. There are already millions of stories just like that. Imagine how different all these lives would and could be with a working social contract. America could and should have the world’s best one, as it’s one of the world’s biggest and richest societies. Nevertheless, Americans don’t quite understand that as their intellectuals, leaders, and thinkers have never explained it to them. Irony teaches us tragedy, and the tragedy of ignorance about the most fundamental lesson of all is the irony of American collapse… Americans settled for the worst social contract of all, but they could and should have had the best.

9 March 2018

Umair Haque



Why White Evangelicalism Is So Cruel


Robert Jeffress, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and an avid supporter of Donald Trump, earned headlines this week for his defence of the president’s adultery with a porn star. Regarding the affair and subsequent financial payments, Jeffress explained:

Even if it’s true, it doesn’t matter.

Such a casual attitude toward adultery and prostitution might seem odd from a guy who blamed 9/11 on America’s sinfulness. However, seen through the lens of white evangelicals’ real priorities, Jeffress’ disinterest in Trump’s sordid lifestyle makes sense. Religion is inseparable from culture and culture is inseparable from history. Modern white evangelicalism emerged from the interplay between race and religion in the slave states. What today we call “evangelical Christianity” is the product of centuries of conditioning, in which religious practices were adapted to nurture a slave economy. Over centuries, the economic and cultural priorities that forged their theology shaped the calloused insensitivity of modern white evangelicals.

Many Christian movements take the title “evangelical”, including many African-American denominations. However, today, evangelicalism has been co-opted as a preferred description for Christians looking to shed an older, largely discredited, title… Fundamentalist. A quick glance at a map showing concentrations of adherents and weekly church attendance reveals the evangelical movement’s centre of gravity in the Old South. Amongst those evangelical churches, one denomination remains by far the leader in membership, theological pull, and political influence.

Today, there’s still a Southern Baptist Church. More than a century and a half after the Civil War and decades after the Methodists and Presbyterians reunited with their Yankee neighbours, America’s most powerful evangelical denomination remains defined, right down to the name over the door, by an 1845 split over slavery. Southern denominations faced enormous social and political pressure from plantation owners. Public expressions of dissent on the subject of slavery in the South weren’t merely illegal; they were a death sentence. Baptist ministers who rejected slavery, like South Carolina’s William Henry Brisbane, had to flee to the North. Otherwise, they would end up like Methodist minister Anthony Bewley, lynched in Texas in 1860, his bones left exposed at a local store and played with by children. Whiteness offered protection from many of the South’s cruelties, but that protection stopped at the subject of race. No one who dared speak truth to power on the subject of slavery, or later Jim Crow, could expect protection.

Generation after generation, Southern pastors adapted their theology to thrive under a terrorist state. Principled critics were exiled or murdered, leaving voices of dissent few and scattered. Southern Christianity evolved in strange directions under ever-increasing isolation. Preachers learned to tailor their message to protect themselves. If all you knew about Christianity came from a close reading of the New Testament, you’d expect that Christians would be hostile to wealth, emphatic in the protection of justice, sympathetic to the point of personal pain toward the sick, persecuted and the migrant, and almost socialist in their economic practices. None of these consistent Christian themes served the interests of slave owners, so pastors could abandon them, obscure them, or flee.

What developed in the South was a theology carefully tailored to meet the needs of a slave state. It rendered the biblical emphasis on social justice miraculously invisible. It reinterpreted a book constructed around the central metaphor of slaves finding their freedom was. You couldn’t teach from the pulpit messages that might’ve questioned the inherent superiority of the white race, constrained the authority of property owners, or inspired some interest in the poor or less fortunate. It carefully and safely relegated any Christian suggestion of social justice to “the sweet by and by” where all would be made right at no cost to white worshippers. The forge of slavery and Jim Crow burned away the Christian message of courage, love, compassion, and service to others.

Stripped of its compassion and integrity, little remained of the Christian message. What survived was a perverse emphasis on sexual purity as the sole expression of righteousness, along with a creepy obsession with the unquestionable sexual authority of white men. In a culture where race defined one’s claim to basic humanity, women took on a special religious interest. It transformed Christianity’s historic emphasis on sexual purity as a form of ascetic self-denial into an obsession with women and sex. For Southerners, righteousness had little meaning beyond sex, and sexual mores were far less important for men than for women. Guarding women’s sexual purity meant guarding the purity of the white race. There was no higher moral demand.

Changes brought by the Civil War only heightened the need to protect white racial superiority. Churches were the lynchpin of Jim Crow. By the time the Civil Rights movement gained force in the South, Dallas’ First Baptist Church, where Jeffress is the pastor today, was a bulwark of segregation and white supremacy. As the wider culture nationally struggled to free itself from the burdens of racism, white evangelicals fought this development while the violence escalated. What happened to ministers who resisted slavery happened again to those who resisted segregation. White Episcopal Seminary student Jonathan Daniels went to Alabama in 1965 to support voting rights protests. After his release from jail, an off-duty sheriff’s deputy, who was acquitted by a jury, murdered him. Dozens of white activists joined the innumerable black Americans murdered fighting for civil rights in the 60’s, but very few of them were Southern.

White Evangelical Christians opposed desegregation tooth and nail. Where pressed, they made cheap cosmetic compromises, like Billy Graham’s concession to allow black worshipers at his crusades. Graham never made any difficult statements on race, never appeared on stage with his “black friend” Martin Luther King after 1957, and he never marched with King. When King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, Graham responded with this passive-aggressive gem of Southern theology:

Only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.

For white Southern evangelicals, justice and compassion belong only to the dead. Churches like First Baptist in Dallas didn’t become stalwart defenders of segregation by accident. Like the wider white evangelical movement, it was then and remains today an obstacle to Christian notions of social justice thanks to a long dismal heritage. There’s no changing the white evangelical movement without a wholesale reconsideration of their theology. No sign of such a reckoning is apparent. Those waiting to see the bottom of white evangelical cruelty have little source of optimism. Men like Pastor Jeffress can dismiss Trump’s racist abuses as easily as they dismiss his fondness for porn stars. When asked about Trump’s treatment of immigrants, Jeffress shared these comments:

Solving DACA without strengthening borders ignores the teachings of the Bible. In fact, Christians who support open borders, or blanket amnesty, are cherry-picking Scriptures to suit their own agendas.

For those unfamiliar with Christian scriptures, it might help to point out what Jesus reportedly said about this subject and about the wider question of our compassion for the poor and the suffering:

Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.

What did Jesus say about abortion, the favourite subject of Jeffress and the rest of the evangelical movement? Nothing. What does the Bible say about abortion, a practice as old as civilisation? Nothing… not one word. The Bible’s exhortations to compassion for immigrants and the poor stretch long enough to comprise a sizeable book of their own, but no matter. White evangelicals won’t let something as pliable as scripture constrain their political ambitions.

Why is the Religious Right obsessed with subjects like abortion while unmoved by the plight of immigrants, minorities, the poor, the uninsured, and those slaughtered in pointless gun violence? No white man has ever been denied an abortion. The deportation of migrants affected few if any white men. White men aren’t kept from attending college by laws persecuting Dreamers. White evangelical Christianity has a bottomless well of compassion for the interests of straight white men and not a drop for anyone else at their expense. The cruelty of white evangelical churches in politics and their treatment of their own gay or minority parishioners is no accident. It is an institution born in slavery, tuned to serve the needs of Jim Crow, and entirely unwilling to confront either of those realities.

Men like Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy group, are trying to reform the Southern Baptist church in increments, much like Billy Graham before him. His statements on subjects like the Confederate flag and sexual harassment are bold, but only relative to previous church proclamations. He’s still about three decades behind the rest of American culture in recognition of the basic human rights of the country’s non-white non-male citizens. The resistance he’s facing from evangelicals will continue so long as the theology informing white evangelical religion remains unconsidered and unchallenged. As long as white evangelical religion remains dedicated to its roots, it’ll perpetuate its heritage. What this religious heritage produced in the 2016 election when white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump by a record margin is the truest expression of its moral character.

You’ll know a tree by its fruit.

11 March 2018

Chris Ladd

Political Orphans


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