Voices from Russia

Monday, 17 July 2017

17 July 2017. An Observation on Working-Class Football Culture in Europe

“Ваше место тут” (“Your place is here”… idiomatically, “You belong here”)… the rowdy backers of FK Lokomotiv Moskva in the (in)famous South Stands at Lokomotiv Central Stadium


You back a side because your dad does; all his mates do, as does the entire neighbourhood. You’ve seen the people going en masse to the matches! It’s neighbourhood and team pride all rolled up in one. If we’re talking REAL football… let’s not forget Fr Christos in Thessaloniki who shows up at all the matches. Some tight-arsed people complained… but the people put up a FB page Hands Off Our Father Christos! The bishop didn’t ban him from the pitch…

Some middle-class people look down their noses at this… but I’d remind them that people CHOOSE their pastimes and that backing this side or that one is a far less harmful occupation than some of the things indulged in by the scornful bourgeois. Indeed…

I do confide that their real problem with it is that it’s “common”…



Sunday, 23 April 2017

23 April 2017. Why I Despise Upper-Middle Smarminess and Condescension


What more need be said? The Upper-Middles are SO pleased with themselves and look down on the rest of us. They’re IMPORTANT, dontcha know, and their views trump all the rest of ours. Of course, they’re obedient lickspittles of the One Percent… they wouldn’t be the Affluent Effluent otherwise, would they? Keep it focused and don’t argue with such sorts… they’re impervious and won’t give equal respect to others, no matter how intelligent or gifted. “You see, such people don’t deserve a hearing for they don’t have the ‘right credentials'”… that gives you their measure. Yes… credentials aren’t chopped liver (who’d want a priest who didn’t attend Orthodox seminary?)… but they’re not the entire story either.

May Day is coming up… keep the faith and keep strong.


Sunday, 12 March 2017

How Intellectual Élitism Divided America Since the Vietnam War



It’s a problem that America must address and soon. In a Constitutionally classless society like the USA, intellectual snobbery/élitism is often a default form of pervasive bigotry allowed to permeate society. People more notice other forms of monetary and racial discrimination; so, they come under more frequent criticism. Unlike modern Britain, pre-1917 Russia, or pre-Revolutionary France, the USA’s foundation was on an ideology of classlessness. However, here’s an inherent contradiction. The human world, like the animal world, both consciously and unconsciously ranks things. Primitive societies rank people by their usefulness. Such societies value the strong are over the weak amongst men and the fertile over the infertile amongst women. Feudal societies tended to make things easier by dictating one’s worth by birthright. One can say the same of the Hindu caste system, only with an added spiritual component. However, in a society like America, one can make up the rules of snobbery as one goes along.

During the US Civil War, people had to grapple with racial snobbery, something which in parts of the USA lasted in a formal sense into the 1960s. During the so-called Gilded Age of the late 19th century, wealth was a go-to form of snobbery, although the Federal Income tax and later, the Great Depression, tended to mitigate the public display of such attitudes by the early 20th century. However, since the time of the Vietnam War, intellectual snobbery became the defining movement in all-American snobbery. The 1960s was an era when most Americans had decent economic living standards and it was an era where southern segregation ended, white kids listened to black music, and America’s external might appeared to be strong.

In spite of this, the Vietnam War helped solidify a plague upon American society that exists to this day. During the war, the draft brought many young American men into the armed forces. One of the more common ways to avoid serving in Vietnam was going to a college or university, for being a student exempted one from the draft in essence. Because of this, there was a supposedly equal society where those outside the university environment died in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia whilst college-educated young men partook in the pleasures of the affluent American 1960s. Although Richard Nixon ended the use of drafted soldiers in 1973, America has yet to recover from the ingrained intellectual snobbery born of the Vietnam draft.

Because all societies, including communist ones, have various types of snobbery, it often requires a new snobbery to replace the old. Because many of today’s wealthy in the West prefer to make money and not spend it, the idea of Gatsby style snobbery looks set to remain in a bygone age. Because black and white culture is increasingly integrated, it’s hard to think that a white kid listening to primarily black hip-hop music would be conspicuously racist. Yet, intellectual snobbery remains. Not only this, it’s actively cultivated by the liberal élite. Rather than concealing their snobbery like a wealthy man driving a cheap car or a racist pretending to be neutral on the subject they actively promote it.

Hillary Clinton calling Trump supporters a “basket of deplorables” was a crucial example of this as was Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globe awards in Beverly Hills. One sees this snobbery everywhere from the liberal British comedian Dom Joly ridiculing conservative social-media users who don’t use spell-check to US commentators like Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert who continually deride Trump voters as “stupid rednecks”, as though their votes don’t count because of the baseless assumption that they aren’t highly educated. Even if all Trump voters were poorly educated, why should this matter? Modern democracy is about people having representation in exchange for taxation. In the 20th century, the franchise broadened to include all adult citizens except the criminal. It isn’t about how intelligent, how rich, how white, how black, how female, or how tall one is. Furthermore, an elongated and expensive education is no substitute for common sense, psychological maturity, and experience in the real world.

When the war ended in 1975, many Vietnam veterans came to resent the war and oppose much of what it did to society. In this sense, Vietnam veterans adopted the same “opposition with hindsight” attitude to the war as the rest of America. Yet ultimately, the liberal movement didn’t attract many of these men. In many cases, however, the conservative movement of the post-Vietnam era did. The veterans couldn’t relate to the college-educated snobs who wrote hippy rock songs about the war while smoking pot and impregnating the local women, while they, the draftees, were in Southeast Asia being shot at from the trees. Even though many of these college/university students were anti-war, their daily realities were far removed from the men who actually fought the war. Many of the soldiers felt that many college-educated individuals in the anti-war movement condescended towards them, and not even attempt to understand, let alone relate to them. This is why many of these men voted for the hawkish Ronald Reagan in his landslide victory of 1984. Where Reagan’s liberal Democratic opponent Walter Mondale was unintentionally condescending, Reagan was a masterful communicator who had a way of making people feel included irrespective of their status in society. Until the liberal élitists learn this, they may be out of power for a long time. The liberals did as good a job at losing as Trump did at winning. Liberal élitism remains a key reason for both.

10 March 2017

Adam Garrie

The Duran


Monday, 9 January 2017

Here’s a REAL Read n’ Heed… The Lessons of “Hillbilly Elegy” for Social Conservatives in Age of Trump

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Ordinary people are so hurt by the present landshark neoliberal order that they wanted to send a “message”… and the Democrats nominated the most neoliberal candidate that they could find. You wonder why Trump won? Note well that the Dems didn’t learn their lesson either, but do note that Andrew Cuomo is picking up on Bernie’s proposals (the free tuition gambit)… not Hillary’s. Handy Andy is the most capable pol out there (you needn’t agree with him to note his political skills)… he’s already had his sitdown with Trump, dontcha know…



Here’s a real read n’ heed for all of youse guys… no matter what side of the aisle that you’re on. It’s from the Forward, which has good stuff in it. Orthodoxy in the USA is much like the Jewish community here… riven by ideology, divided by Old Country traditions (yes!), and yet (paradoxically) one united community. Isn’t the difference between ROCORites and OCAites the same as the difference between Orthodox and Conservative Jews (the GOAA and AOCANA are more the “Reform” wing, believe it or not)? HOCNA and the various ROCOR offshoots are like the more extreme Hasids, aren’t they? Nevertheless… this is a VERY good read… with much to heed in it.



For those looking for some insight into the America that elected Donald Trump, J D Vance’s 2016 book Hillbilly Elegy is required reading. Having grown up in white, working-class Ohio, Vance comes from the same background as most of the Rust Belt voters who propelled Trump to the White House. The picture he paints of life in the Midwest for many of its residents isn’t pretty… the collapse of the church as a community anchor, unemployment or underemployment, fractured families, and the scourge of drug use and abuse are ever-present.

Thanks to a committed grandmother and a superhuman will to escape, Vance moved on from his roots to get a law degree from Yale, though his feeling of otherness from his upper-middle-class peers never leaves him. Without ever mentioning the president-elect by name, readers walk away with an in-depth understanding of the millions of white Americans who nominated and elected Trump. How is it that a Republican Party that impeached Bill Clinton over lies related to his personal life could then go on to nominate a thrice-married serial philanderer? While the move smacks of utter hypocrisy from the religious right, in the prism of Vance’s book it makes a great deal more sense from the perspective of everyday voters.

Working-class Republican voters, we learned last year, are more concerned with upending the status quo, which they believe has utterly failed them than they are with upholding traditional family values. How important are those values to these Rust Belt voters anyway? Vance’s book isn’t the first sign of just how splintered nuclear families have become in much of America, thanks to out-of-wedlock births, divorce, and drug use, but it is a jarring reminder of how these circumstances have long-term psychological effects on children. In an opinion piece for the New York Times in early January, Vance, a conservative, explains how he feels a kinship with President Obama:

I often wonder how many kids look at our current president the way I once looked at President Clinton. Barack Obama was elected during my second year of college, and save for his skin colour, he had much in common with Bill Clinton. Despite an unstable life with a single mother, aided by two loving grandparents, he made in his adulthood a family life that seemed to embody my sense of the American ideal. The president’s example offered something no other public figure could… hope. I wanted so desperately to have what he had… a happy marriage and beautiful thriving children. However, I thought that those things belonged to people unlike me, to those who came from money and intact nuclear families. For the rest of us, the past was destiny. Yet, here was the President of the United States, a man whose history looked something like mine but whose future contained something I wanted. His life stood in stark contrast to my greatest fear.

The election of Trump despite his very clear moral failings is a red flag for social conservative leaders that family values have fallen by the wayside for a vast majority of their former constituents. As shown by Vance’s book, a surprisingly small number of white working-class Americans consider religion important to their lives. Amongst those who still consider themselves committed Christians, we saw 81 percent of white evangelicals voting for Trump (with similarly high numbers in Orthodox Jewish pockets like Monsey NY and Lakewood NJ). This should shock those who say they want to reform and strengthen the American family. How can conservatives who wish for a sincere emphasis on traditional family values deal with life in a Republican Party led by Trump? Can true social conservatives survive in the new GOP, whose figurehead has spoken about women, even his own daughter, in a manner so vulgar that it would’ve sparked fainting spells had it come from a Clinton?

The fate of the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Russell Moore, who was outspoken against Trump’s moral failings, will be a weathervane. With Trump’s election, there’s a great deal of concern (or hope, depending on the opinion of those interpreting his comments) that Moore will lose his position because of his opposition to the president-elect. Even while supporting Trump because of his stance on the Supreme Court or Israel, for example, social conservatives still should have distanced themselves from Trump’s statements exposed on the “‘Access Hollywood’ tapes” in the weeks prior to the election for consistency’s sake (and some did).

If future scandals of that nature emerge during Trump’s presidency, it behoves social conservatives not to stay silent, even if they choose to keep supporting the president on distinctly separate political matters. It’s possible to support a politician without writing him a blank check for any statement or action he may take, or to give credit where it is due even while being on the opposite side of a politician on policy… a concept that has unfortunately become foreign in American politics. On his website in the days following the election, Moore wrote:

We can pray and honour our leaders, work with them when we can while preparing to oppose them when needed. We don’t need the influence that comes from being a political bloc.

If social conservatives have any hope of maintaining a semblance of respectability in Trump’s America, of being beacons of light to mend the brokenness in the American family and psyche that became undeniable in 2016, they should heed these voices. The future of social conservatism will be shaped and steered by principled, not power-hungry, religious leaders like Moore, and thought leaders like Vance, who even after Trump’s election didn’t shy away from continuing to call on Christians to let Jesus Christ, not the president, guide their moral compass. Or, in Vance’s case, for giving credit where it was due to the outgoing President Obama.

8 January 2017

Bethany Mandel



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