Voices from Russia

Friday, 1 June 2018

1 June 2018. Today is World Children’s Day… A Wry View From Vitaly Podvitsky

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The International Day for Protection of Children is observed in many countries as Children’s Day on 1 June since 1950. It was established by the Women’s International Democratic Federation at its congress in Moscow on 4 November 1949. In other words, it’s a positive Soviet legacy.

BMD

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Friday, 28 April 2017

Mind the Culture Gap: “Russian Soul” Meets “Big Mac” Culture

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If Russians and Americans learned to understand our cultural differences, it could ease diplomatic tensions a great deal. In the 1980s, Sting sang the lyrics:

I hope the Russians love their children too!

In Russia, the popular group Lube lovingly joked:

Don’t be silly, America, we’re all the same!

Yes, for a few years, we lived learning our similarities. However, why was this Russian-American romance so short-lived? Why did we turn to hate again? Geopolitics and financial issues aside, it’s worthwhile to ask a question:

Are Russians and Americans culturally complimentary or do our cultural differences get in the way of our ability to understand each other?

Samuel Huntington observed in his 1996 The Clash of Civilisations:

Cultural commonalities and differences shape the interests, antagonisms, and associations of states, accordingly, countries with cultural similarities are more likely to cooperate economically and politically, and the major differences in political and economic development among civilisations are clearly rooted in their different cultures.

Are Russians more aggressive by nature?

According to Washington and all of the Western mainstream media, this isn’t up for debate… Russians are bad! How many movies have you seen with Russians portrayed as the good guys?  I can’t recall even one. Russians are the quintessential badass guys, according to Hollywood or any political thriller. Don’t even bother with the portrayal of their politicians! According to Hollywood and most of Washington, Russia has been always up to no good. What do you get by reading Russian history from Western textbooks? According to some, the Russian state expanded left and right like crazy to amass 1/5 of the Earth. Just keep in mind this simple fact… most Russian wars were defensive wars! The acquisition of Siberia and the Far East wasn’t done by wars, but rather by including the native populations with acceptance of their cultural traditions into the Russian Empire.

Villains became humans for a while

In the early 1990s, there was certainly excitement on the both sides of the Atlantic to discover that we are all humans… “Reds” and “Yankees” alike! The peaceful dissolution of the “Evil Empire” took everyone by surprise. Unlike previous Soviet leaders, Gorbachev charmed the West with his smile and promising words of “glasnost” and “perestroika”. In doing so, he dissipated the fears of “Reds” for some time. Later, the perpetually drunk Boris Yeltsin added more humanity to the face of Russians:

Hey, they’re just like us, except that they prefer vodka, while we prefer beer!

At this point, one can almost imagine the archetypal American hugging the badass Russian in mutual understanding. Yes, we were more similar than different.

Manners

Have you observed on the Russian subway that you can spot Americans right away? Just listen up for their loud speaking. It isn’t that they don’t mind revealing the most intimate details of their lives to the public because people around might not understand English… they do it on American public transportation as well. Russians whisper… God forbid people might hear!

Courting/Dating

If any Russian dates an American or vice versa, you can expect a long list of surprises ranging from believing that opening the door for a woman might degrade her as a human being (some American young men seem brainwashed by feminism) to Russian girls’ entrenched belief that men should always pay the bill at the restaurant (even if you are just friends) just because Russian men would never let Russian woman pay for them.

 Smiling

Don’t expect Russians to show a full row of front teeth just because your conditioning in the land of Hollywood leads you to do it for every stranger you meet face to face. Russians consider American smiles fake and insincere. If Russians smile at you, it means:

I like you and it’s a pleasure to be near you.

There is one major difference between Americans and Russians… it has to do with keeping your word!

Russians don’t waste words and they’re direct in their language, foreigners often misunderstood this as rudeness, but the truth is, there’s little tolerance in Russia for hypocrisy. If you don’t like a person… you don’t give them a full-front teeth smile. Russians look down upon duplicity. Russians value each other by how much they can trust each other and any sign of insincerity is enough to break a relationship. For Russians, a man isn’t a man if he can’t keep his word. Either you’re a man of your word, or you’re a little, unreliable, and worthless weasel…  a chatterbox. Men keep their promises; weasels throw away words without meaning or consideration. You learn it early as a child in Russia. When Bush Sr made a promise to Gorbachyov not to expand NATO, Gorbachyov treated him and the USA as a trustworthy partner. Therefore, when every Russian leader after Gorbachyov told the world that they have a problem with NATO expansion and took a break of the promise as an offence… you have to understand that they mean it!

What Washington fails to grasp is that Russians mean what they say. American leaders have to learn to understand that we aren’t the same. Perhaps, the Pentagon and State Department ought to have positions for cultural advisers? It’d be much cheaper than military advisers are; in the end, it might prevent unnecessary wars. Let’s admit it… from rituals of courting, conducting yourself in public, raising children, to high diplomacy… Russians and Americans aren’t the same and it helps to understand our differences to avoid foreign policy and diplomatic blunders.

28 April 2017

Angela Borozna

The Duran

http://theduran.com/mind-the-culture-gap-the-russian-soul-meets-big-mac-culture/

Sunday, 25 December 2016

The Revolutionary Hope of Christmas

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Christmas time can be so depressing. It brings out some of the worst features of capitalism and rubs them in our faces. You can’t escape, whatever your philosophical or religious belief. Advertisements spur on feelings of guilt if you don’t buy enough of the right kinds of consumer products for people you love. They offer creative financing so that lenders can make even more profit. Moreover, it’s an environmental disaster… we produce, cart about, and dump into landfills, vacant lots, and incinerators more plastic, cardboard, and packaging at Christmas time than at any other time of the year. Yet … nearly smothered beneath piles of gift catalogues and sale circulars, nearly drowned in a sea of synthesised elevator-music Christmas carols, in a locked theological vault guarded down through the centuries by legions of preachers, priests, and pontiffs, there burns a persistent secret flame. It’s the flame of a revolutionary hope… hope for a better world, a more just society, where we turn the social order upside down so that we can feed the poor and relieve the rich of their ill-gotten gains. What’s more, it’s something that working people of any culture, any religious or philosophical background can relate to. What does Christmas have to do with the class struggle? In a word… EVERYTHING. The story goes like this:

Once upon a time, in a land far away on the edge of a great empire, there was a people with an ancient culture, a storied past, and a great literature, but a technologically advanced imperial power conquered them. Foreign soldiers occupied them; corrupt local despots who collaborated with the foreign oppressors ruled them. There were periodic revolts of local peasants and slaves, but the occupiers put them down mercilessly. In the midst of all that, a young unmarried girl became pregnant out-of-wedlock. You might think she’d regret this development, but on the contrary, she found in the anticipated birth of a child a reason to rejoice and to hope for a better world. In her joy and determination, she sang an ancient song of liberation:

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me-He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.

Gospel according to St Luke 1.46-53

She and her fiancée then had to make a difficult journey whilst she was in the last weeks of her pregnancy, ostensibly to comply with the demands of their imperial rulers to register for a census. Local inns denied them lodging. Homeless, the young family took shelter in a stable, where the mother went into labour and gave birth to a baby boy among barnyard animals. This was hardly an auspicious beginning for a child in whom his mother had placed such hope. Yet, things get worse. The local ruler, a collaborator kept in power through the occupation army, decided on an act of terror. Convinced that a revolt was brewing in the village where the young couple had just had their baby, he sent in death squads to kill all the male children under a certain age. Fortunately, someone tipped off the young family; they fled into a neighbouring country. There, they waited until they received news of the death of their corrupt local despot; afterwards, they came back to raise their son in their hometown. When he grew up, the boy became a carpenter. As if to fulfil the revolutionary hope expressed in his mother’s song, he went on to organise a movement for social and economic change. It was a coalition of fishermen, reformed prostitutes, the unemployed, and low-level public servants, with a cross-section of men and women, and people of different ethnic backgrounds. The aims of the movement were clear from the beginning:

Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight.

Gospel according to St Luke 3.4-5

He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable Year of the Lord.

Gospel according to St Luke 4.18-19

Therefore, when you look at the Christmas story closely, you find a story of working-class people living in difficult times, in circumstances not too different from those faced by millions of people today. These people are aware of their history of struggle. They draw strength from the lessons of the past and nourish hopes and dreams for a better world. Mary, the young mother in the Christmas story is supremely confident that the future will be better. Her song, known as the Magnificat, is nothing less than revolutionary. You can also find this revolutionary aspect of Christmas in the popular Christmas carol O Holy Night (Cantique de Noël). The French socialist Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure wrote the words and the American abolitionist John Sullivan Dwight translated it into English. Adolphe Charles Adam (a friend of Cappeau), a Jew, wrote the music. One verse of the carol states:

Truly, he taught us to love one another; his law is love and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother; and in his name all oppression shall cease!

Some reactionaries in our own country well understood the political ramifications of this carol and it continues to be controversial. For years, many conservative churches in the USA banned the song and many radio stations in the South refused to play it. So, whenever you get weary of the holidays and all the claptrap that surrounds them, do remember the young family of the Christmas story, how they hoped and dreamed for a revolutionary transformation of their country, and how they persevered in the face of oppression. Whoever you are, have a Merry and Revolutionary Christmas. Furthermore, let’s then enter the New Year resolved to wipe out homelessness, poverty, racism, and injustice once and for all!

22 December 1999

Rev Tim Yeager

Peoples’ World

http://www.peoplesworld.org/article/the-revolutionary-hope-of-christmas-3/

Editor:

Although it may seem otherwise at many times, the Church isn’t an ally or tool of the crapitalist oligarchs (rightwing oligarch-enablers such as Tikhon Shevkunov are noisy, indeed, but they’re not indicative of the entire Church). Indeed, our Holy Patriarch showed the way by his sincere and heartfelt condolences to the Castro family on the death of Comrade Fidel. A new and vibrant synthesis of the best of Christianity and Marxism is aborning… the USA wants to strangle it. It wants to suck out Orthodoxy’s inner reality and replace it with godless “Evangelical” goo. It wants to replace a godly concern with social welfare and social justice with bootless “Pro-Life” placard-waving and empty demonstrations. We should stand for the Real Christ… the Christ who went to the Cross because He pissed off the powers-that-be and the “religious” of His time. We have them with us still… people such as Victor Potapov, Rod Dreher, and John Whiteford are Caiaphas’ willing successors. However… do remember Our Lord Christ’s warning in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares… we can’t remove these rightwing elements without doing undue harm to the Church. Let them be. Let them shout. Let them rant. The Truth WILL out… especially, if we give it a warm welcome in our hearts and souls.

The illustration is the original one in the original post… it’s in the Church of the Holy Nativity in Bethlehem (in Palestine). I thought that you’d like to know that. Communism and Christianity are coming together, not only in Russia. Remember what Comrade Zyuganov said… “Christ was the first Communist”. It’s time for us to do likewise… do ponder that…

BMD

Monday, 16 May 2016

16 May 2016. What Groupthink Does to (Originally) Good People

01 Lemming Political Parties

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People outside of the Beltway can hardly imagine the Alice in Wonderland Cloud-Cuckoo Land that is the District (Washington DC). The strangest notions reside there… many of them planted by interested pressure groups. In re Russian policy, three pressure groups guide American policy, not reality. Most people are well aware of the Jewish Lobby, but I’m not going to discuss that here (others have done so… sadly, Anti-Semitism mars too much of that commentary). Two pressure groups that exert much effort in influencing policy in Washington are the Balts (Estonian, Latvian, and Baltic German anti-communist émigrés) and “Ukrainians” (actually Galician Uniates and schismatics).

For instance, the Galicians have a fictive narrative about the current junta in the Ukraine. All US government apparats and their apparatchiks must follow it, even in private affairs, or they lose their situations, simply put. Recently, on Facebook, I ran into someone calling themselves “Craig Cartier”… what was interesting was that this person repeated the Uniate bullshit line chapter and verse. You know it all… Russia planned the current crisis… Yatsenyuk fled to Moscow… Russia staged the Novorossiya and Crimean referenda… Russian troops are in Novorossiya… that same old diseased and false story. The Uniates always blame Russians for everything (they probably lay the blame for the heartbreak of psoriasis and bad breath in dogs on Russians, too).

What’s important in this is that not only deluded apparatchiks like Mr Cartier swallow this whole… one finds that even more level-headed sorts repeat it and call it true. You must understand that it’s very difficult to swim against any tide… but it’s doubly hard if one loses one’s reputation (if not livelihood) over it. What made Mr Cartier’s commentary interesting is that if it were correct, it’d be a major security breach involving classified material, but since it was just windy bullshit, it was just a sign of an ambitious and conforming ignoranus kowtowing to the Galician nutter narrative. It was interesting that a more grounded person defended this poseur, but, again, do understand that if one doesn’t support the given narrative, bad things tend to happen.

Don’t expect the truth from certain sorts. In some cases, they know the truth, but they can’t speak it because it’s inexpedient. In other cases, they know the truth, but they won’t speak it, out of ambition. In still others, they’re the proverbial “frog boiled by degrees”; they don’t realise that they lie and defend a rotten cause. They truly believe that they’re speaking the truth. The last are the saddest of the lot. They’re dupes. I’d call the first group moral cowards and weak… they cause bad, but don’t intend it. The second group is the worst… they know the truth and do evil, without regard for the consequence. This group is demonic.

Have a care… the times are NOT good. Always ask, “Cui bono?” Besides that, look to see if they’re free to act on the truth or not. In all-too-many cases, they’re not…

BMD

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