:sunglasses: 50 % :🤗 50 %
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By Crabcakes
#9271
Andy McDandy wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 4:47 pm Yes, Jack Monroe. Littlejohn got quite a lot of mileage sneering about Jack's recipes, because for all his man of the people schtick, he really quite despises everyone.
And of course, it's really because he (and the same for so many like him) despises himself. Failed TV career and failed career as an author - solid, irrefutable evidence they aren't as popular and funny as their sycophantic comments section suggest and absolutely never have been, even in more unenlightened times. Sold out as a journalist decades ago, so can't fall back on that (or rather, can't be arsed). So god forbid he sees anyone else doing well, or making something of themselves, or helping people - literally all he's got now is a proper old-school "I've got a big telly and a nice dinner" mentality to separate him from them.

Take that away, and he has absolutely nothing - because christ knows he's not going to beat anyone on morals, generosity, popularity etc. So we get the same old dated moans about plasma TVs, phones, and people eating pizza when you cant even buy a plasma TV these days, phones are ubiquitous and necessary for all sorts of work, and pizza is hardly dining at the Ritz. LJ and those like him have to live in the past because to live in the now is to face the fact they're not the national treasures they think they are. They're misshapen lumps of fool's gold, dazzling only to the easily fooled and misled - including themselves.
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By RedSparrows
#19007
No, things aren't that simple. Such as explaining Russia's complicated relationship with its past, and Putin's explicit lack of recognition of Ukraine as a fundamentally distinct nation state, and the potential expanded horizons of a 'Novorossiya' that happen to include not only Crimea, but also, uh, Donbass and likely the rest of Ukraine, in the imagination.

'[A] riposte to Vladimir Putin’s six-month-old essay on Russia’s kinship with Ukraine.'

It does a lot more than that, as James Meek so artfully explains in a recent LRB: https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v44/n01 ... -you-exist
‘I remind you, this is Novorossiya,’ he said of southern and eastern Ukraine in April 2014, as the separatist rebellion in Donbas was beginning its armed phase. ‘And Kharkov, Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Nikolayev, Odessa – they weren’t part of Ukraine in tsarist times. This is all territory that was given to Ukraine by the Soviet government. What they did that for, God knows.’

Seven years later, in July 2021, Putin published a long article, almost a dissertation, setting out his position on Ukraine. It’s called ‘On the Historical Unity of the Russians and Ukrainians’. I’d often seen it referenced in the media in a jokey way: Putin writes a thesis, as if he’d actually spent days in the library working on something scholarly. I’d imagined something menacing but measured, thoughtful and subtle. I’ve read all five thousand words of it, and it is menacing, but none of the other things: it’s full of history, but it’s a work of polemic, zanily contradictory, alternating between extreme self-righteousness and hysterical paranoia. Putin steers a zig-zag course through Ukraine’s complex history, which is, indeed, one of ever changing borders and evolving identity, but claims throughout that the Ukrainians and Russians are one people. This oneness, he writes, can only be fulfilled under Russian supervision: ‘Genuine sovereignty for Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia.’ He passes over the Stalin-era repressions and the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and concludes, echoing Milošević’s complaint about the Serbs in Yugoslavia, that of all the republics in the Soviet Union, Russia suffered the most from communist rule. ‘Russia was, in fact, robbed.’

There are points in the essay where he sounds quite reasonable. At the end of the history section, he writes:

What can you say? Everything changes, including countries and societies. And of course, as it develops, one part of a people might, for various reasons and historical circumstances, feel and become conscious of itself as a separate nation. How should one respond to this? There can only be one answer: with respect! You want to create your own state? You’re welcome!

This isn’t what it seems, because here Putin plunges into arcane legalism. When the USSR was set up in 1922, its founding articles permitted any of its constituent republics to leave. By annulling the USSR before actually leaving it, Putin argues, Ukraine rejected its Soviet borders. ‘In other words,’ he writes, ‘leave with what you came in with.’ He’s already made it clear that he believes what Ukraine came in with boils down to nothing at all. Eastern Ukraine, Putin claims, is basically Russia. Southern Ukraine is basically Russia. Transcarpathia is basically Russia. Kyiv is essentially Russia. Even the heartland of Ukrainian nationalism in the west is basically Russia: ‘In 1939, the lands previously seized by Poland were returned to the USSR,’ he writes, in his only reference to Stalin’s deal with Hitler carving up Poland. That’s all there is. The whole country, as far as Putin is concerned, is up for grabs. ‘Ukrainians are very well aware that for the time being, their country does not really exist,’ Vladislav Surkov, the chief designer, scriptwriter, producer and director of the Kremlin’s Ukraine project told the Financial Times a few weeks before Putin’s thesis appeared. ‘I have said that it could exist in the future. The national core exists. I am just asking the question as to what the borders, the frontier should be.’

Towards the end of Putin’s essay, its startling cognitive dissonance becomes more pronounced, its evasions more brazen. Putin accuses the Ukrainian leadership of turning the country’s people against Russia, never examining the possibility that Ukrainians might have come to dislike Russia because Russian troops drove into and took over part of their country. At one stage the rhetoric is so detached from reality that I wondered whether, rather than just distorting the truth for political effect, he literally doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s a clever man who masters many briefs quickly and well, but there’s only one of him, and as far as we know he’s entirely dependent on secret information for his knowledge of what’s going on. He doesn’t trust the international media, isn’t a social media guy, and the Russian media, with a few small, brave exceptions, only reflect his preferred reality. Who outside his channels – his information-providing employees, who rely on his favour and have their own agendas – can challenge what he gets told? In his essay Putin compares an obscure new Ukrainian law on the rights of indigenous peoples to ‘the use against us of weapons of mass destruction’ because the law doesn’t list Russians as an ‘indigenous people’ in Ukraine. Somebody passed Putin this publicly available, easily checkable nugget; there must be those in his information apparatus who know he got the wrong end of the stick. But presumably there are no prizes for pointing out to him that actually, Vladimir Vladimirovich, the law you mention is about Crimean Tatars and two other minority peoples on the peninsula. It doesn’t say Russians are indigenous to Ukraine, but it doesn’t say Ukrainians are indigenous to Ukraine either. It’s just not about that.

[Ukr Pres.] Zelensky was always a comedian in Russian, rather than Ukrainian. Even Servant of the People, set in Ukraine, was mainly Russian-language. He made his name in the late 1990s as part of a troupe from the southern steppe city of Kryvyi Rih taking part in the competitive student sketch show KVN, which was broadcast across the former Soviet Union by the legacy broadcaster ORT. It was one of the cultural remnants that bound the old world together across the borders of the new countries. I lived in that part of the world then and wherever I was, KVN seemed to be on TV. As recently as 2011 Zelensky was seen as sufficiently bankable in the Russian-language cultural space to be cast as the male lead in a remake of one of the sacred treasures of Soviet popular cinema, Eldar Ryazanov’s Office Romance. The remake was awful. But Zelensky’s career suggests a different kind of Russian cultural borderlessness, an ease of exchange that may happily co-exist across the borders of politically separate countries. Why, Putin asks in his essay, can’t relations between Russia and Ukraine be like the United States and Canada, or Germany and Austria? One answer might be that the United States and Germany don’t question their neighbour’s existence.
Admittedly, I can't read the rest of the Indy article without a sub.
User avatar
By Malcolm Armsteen
#19010
Andy McDandy wrote: Mon Jan 24, 2022 4:13 pm
extreme self-righteousness and hysterical paranoia
is not a bad description of Russian foreign policy in general.
And has been, pretty much since the Congress of Vienna.
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