The Battle for Russia

The year 2012 is going to be an exciting one. There will be a presidential election in the United States. There may be a military clash in the Strait of Hormuz. But the most important changes may occur in Russia, where the Russian people are preparing to challenge the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.  During the street protests in Moscow and other cities last month, a new feeling swept the country. This feeling has its roots in the development of an authentic Russian middle class. It is not a wealthy middle class by Western standards, but it nonetheless bears the mark of self-sufficiency and decency. Either this decency will prevail, or it will be checked. Either Putin will be swept from power or the Russian middle class will be smashed.

On one side of the struggle is the surviving machinery of old Soviet state: the secret police, the Interior Ministry, the large corporations, and Putin’s controlled media.  On the other side we see millions of people who are fed up with arbitrary government power, gangster methods, and who want to see the rule of law. Each side has its own rhetoric, its own philosophy.

Exemplifying the rhetoric of the Russian state, consider a recent Pravda.ru opinion piece titled Nuclear War on the horizon. Here is a view sometimes expressed by operatives of the Kremlin. In fact, something akin to this view was put forward by Vladimir Putin when he spoke to the Russian nation following the Beslan massacre of September 2004. At that time he blamed America for conspiring to murder Russian children, claiming that “someone” wanted to break up Russia and finish off what remained of the Soviet state because Moscow still had nuclear weapons.

In the Pravda.ru column, America is depicted as threatening the entire world with nuclear annihilation. The United States is accused of leading a bloody “genocidal campaign against Libya” and of threatening the same against Iran. No credit is given to U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta for publicly speaking out against a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. In fact, the United States is embarking upon a program of spontaneous disarmament. As Congress has been unable to pass the necessary deficit reduction package, the U.S. Defense Department will face what Panetta says are “devastating, automatic, across-the-board cuts that will tear a seam in the nation’s defense.”

The real policy of the United States and the real objectives of the U.S. military are never acknowledged by Putin’s spokesmen. In the Pravda.ru column we read: “The forces of demonic evil now have come nose to nose with the forces of reason.” This was a reference to the Russian fleet stationed near Syria, and the potential for a confrontation with NATO warships. Here the old rhetoric of the Soviet Union appears once more. The war drums are thundering, and the “imperialist aggressor” is called to account. But we cannot take it seriously. For something else has appeared on the horizon, which Putin says was inspired by the CIA: a popular opposition movement against his KGB regime.

Exemplifying this opposition we find Danila Galperovich’s interview with Russian dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, translated for Frontpagemag.com [2] by Yelena Glazova. Here we find a frank discussion of Moscow’s police state methods. Here we learn that the KGB has “lost much of their qualitative acumen and sharpness in the last twenty years.” And why wouldn’t they? According to KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn, the post-Soviet regime of pretended democracy was not supposed to last twenty years. It was designed to overpower the West in ten years. So the plan didn’t work. So Russia’s hidden totalitarian structures have begun to decay. They have remained under fake bourgeois auspices too long; and besides, there is no Stalin to lead them. In this matter we should remember what Stalin said to his henchmen during his last days: “You are like blind kittens; what will happen without me? The country will perish because you do not know how to recognize enemies.”

What Bukovsky goes on to describe is the fate of these blind kittens, caught up in the crisis of Russia’s false democracy. One might say it is the crisis of a deception gone too long, carried too far by structures that can no longer bear the load. A world war might have once saved the current Russian regime, granting it renewed legitimacy in the midst of crisis. But now it is too late. According to Bukovsky, the incompetence of the regime is such that if Stalin were alive today he would have them all shot. “They cannot even blow up the buildings in their capital city without exposing themselves and leaving traces,” Bukovsky added, referring to the 1999 apartment bombings that were used to justify the KGB’s return to power. “Nothing [in the KGB/FSB] works as it should,” says Bukovsky.

So how will this Kremlin, with its third generation blind kittens, survive the growing groundswell of popular opposition? Bukovsky says that the KGB understands how to manipulate mass movements with its network of double agents. But in the end, this method will not work. “The social atmosphere in due course becomes ever more politicized, radicalized,” Bukovsky explained. In the end, the KGB cannot join the protests against itself without damaging its own position. And so, Russia faces a serious political crisis in March or April. This crisis will likely grow, and spiral out of control.

Such is the hopeful, optimistic language of Putin’s opposition – represented by Vladimir Bukovsky. It does not entail fear-mongering or anti-Western propaganda. It simply describes a regime that has lost touch with its people. Such a regime may accuse the United States of fostering a revolution in Russia, or threatening the whole world with nuclear destruction; but the game of deflecting criticism in the wake of fraudulent elections does not appear to be working.

The year 2012 should prove decisive for Russia. Will the anti-Americanism take Russia by the throat? Or will the KGB regime lose its grip? One year from today we should know the answer.

Jeffrey Nyquist is the President of the Strategic Crisis Center and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Political Science at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

This article was originally published on Financial Sense on January 9, 2012. The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

The Mafia That Rules Russia

On Sunday I spoke with Luke Harding, the Guardian (UK) Moscow bureau chief who was expelled from Russia on 5 February 2011. “For you Russia is closed,” he was told when returning to Moscow after a trip to Britain. His Russian visa was annulled and he was bounced out of the country, despite lobbying from friends and associates, despite having a home in Moscow (which the Russian secret police had previously broken into – in order to intimidate Harding’s family). The Kremlin has a special means of communicating with uncooperative journalists: you break into their home, you rearrange objects, you open the tenth floor window of a child’s room, and if all else fails you expel the unwanted critic from the country.

Political fallout from such moves cannot be avoided. But, says Harding, those who dominate Russia – the siloviki – are not really interested in good relations with Britain or America. They do not care for our good opinion. They are more interested in controlling dissent; and punishing a British journalist by denying him access to Russia is a warning to all foreign journalists in Moscow. Do not criticize the Russian state. Do not criticize the FSB or Prime Minister Putin. “I think it’s important to be honest about the Putin regime,” Harding explained. And the Russian government violently disagrees.

Harding is brave, and perhaps lucky. He could have been abducted and killed, like his Russian associate Natalya Estemirova (a friend of Anna Politkovskaya, a Putin critic who was herself gunned down on 7 November 2006 – Vladimir Putin’s 54rth birthday). While the murder rate of Russian journalists is higher than that of Western journalists, a Western passport is no guarantee. Paul Klebnikov of Forbes Magazine died after being shot four times on a Moscow street on 9 July 2004. The publisher of Forbes’ Russian edition expressed the opinion that the murder was linked to Klebnikov’s “professional activities.”

Harding has written a book about his experiences in Russia, titled Mafia State: How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia. It is the account of a decent man who entered into an indecent political zone. Harding wanted to impress upon me the distinction between the warm, good-hearted Russian people and the gangsters in charge of the country. “Russia is not our enemy,” he said. The bosses in the Kremlin, along with the security services, are the problem. Describing Putin’s mentality as “stuck in the Cold War,” Harding said the Russian state was a chaos of competing interests, with Soviet attitudes dominating the top level. “They do not like the United States,” he emphasized.

Is there any hope for positive change? Harding thinks there is no immediate prospect of an Orange-type revolution in Russia. “Perhaps in four years, or ten,” he explained. There seems little doubt that Putin will be elected president next year. I asked Harding about former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk’s claim that Putin is “one step below” the real rulers of Russia. Harding dismissed this idea, saying that Putin was clearly in charge; though Harding elsewhere admits that the Russian system is murky. In his book he wrote: “In a city prone to rumors and conspiracy theories, it is fair to say that during the Medvedev period very few people in Moscow really know what is going on at the top of the Kremlin. Even Russia’s cabinet seems largely in the dark.”

We must not forget that Harding is writing about a country that has thousands of strategic nuclear warheads, including the most advanced ICBM on the planet (the SS-27). The fact that Russian television is under the thumb of a KGB officer, that journalists are routinely assassinated (and the assassins remain at large), is only the tip of a much larger Cold War iceberg. The chill, as it were, is still on. If the “new” Russia can be characterized as a regime of assassination and censorship at home, is there an ongoing Russian campaign of subversion and espionage abroad?

I asked Harding about former KGB officer Alexander Lebedev, a Russian billionaire who presently owns two British newspapers. “He is not your typical Russian oligarch,” said Harding, who described Lebedev as “charming,” cultured and elegant. “How do you feel about a former KGB officer owning two British newspapers?” I asked. Although Harding likes Lebedev pesonally, he is not altogether at ease with Lebedev’s position.

Does Lebedev use his ownership of British newspapers to slant the news in England? Supposedly, Lebedev doesn’t interfere with editorial policy, “But his newspapers have failed to review my book,” Harding admitted with a laugh. Is this an innocent oversight? I asked Harding why Lebedev doesn’t get along with Putin critic and former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov. Harding admitted that Lebedev was probably a Kremlin operative.

So what has changed in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union? The Communist label has been removed, and ideological indoctrination no longer occurs. But the instrument of dictatorship continues, with its Soviet mentality and its vast nuclear arsenal; oppression and censorship at home, subversion abroad.

Jeffrey Nyquist is the President of the Strategic Crisis Center and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Political Science at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

This article was originally published on Financial Sense on October 31, 2011. The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

The Root of the Matter

Are we headed for hyperinflation? Consider the Web site of the National Inflation Association (NIA), www.inflation.us  – with the subtitle Preparing Americans for Hyperinflation. According to the NIA, “The United States now has over $76 trillion in total debt obligations. Our budget deficit in February of 2011 alone was a record $225.5 billion, more than the entire year of 2007.” The NIA believes that the U.S. federal government will not be able to balance its budget, let alone pay off its existing national debt. Inflation is therefore inevitable as the government will have no alternative. Not everyone agrees with this assessment, however. Looking at the situation very differently, Wall Street Journal Economic Editor David Wessel concluded that an “immediate outbreak of inflation is improbable.” The economy, after all, is stagnant. How could there be inflation? Of course there are special circumstances that could arise, Wessel admits. But these are nonetheless unlikely.

How are we to evaluate the inflation question? Is there more sense in the “big picture” analysis of the NIA? Or is there more sense in the detailed analysis of David Wessel? The NIA takes the long view while David Wessel is trying to see what may be lurking around the next corner. What we find in the NIA and WSJ is two approaches to the same question. In the game of prediction, “big picture” analysis usually won’t tell you want is going to happen in the short run; and most details of the moment are mere trivia when it comes to the long run.

Those who specialize in long run thinking are sometimes called “philosophers,” or lovers of wisdom. One of the more relevant philosophers of the last century was Jose Ortega y Gasset, who wrote a remarkable little book published in 1930 under the title The Revolt of the Masses. One of the core themes of the book is that, “for good or ill,” the masses have ascended to “complete social power.” Ortega called this situation “the greatest crisis that can afflict peoples, nations, and civilization.” He noted that mass man is only concerned with his own well-being while remaining ignorant of the principles that make civilized existence possible. “They do not see behind the benefits of civilization,” he wrote. “The mass man has a radical ingratitude towards all that has made possible the ease of his existence.” This might include the principles of economics, thrift and industry. The mass man is focused on the immediate future, and immediate gratification. He does not look to the long run. “The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs,” wrote John Maynard Keynes. “In the long run we’re all dead.” (Spoken with due sensitivity to the spirit of the age.)

Something is definitely lost when we adopt a negative attitude toward the long run. In a chapter titled “Primitivism and History,” Ortega argued that “Nature is always with us.” Civilization, however, is not Nature and is not always with us. Civilization is artificial and fragile. “If you want to make use of the advantages of civilization,” he warned, “but are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization – you are done.” Civilization exists because of long run thinking. It is maintained by long run thinking. Therefore, civilization is imperiled at a time when nearly everyone is focused on the short run. A key symptom is found in a general want of historical knowledge. “The most ‘cultured’ people today are suffering from incredible ignorance of history,” wrote Ortega. “I maintain that at the present day, European leaders know much less history than their fellows of the nineteenth, even of the seventeenth century.”

A similar statement could be made with regard to economic knowledge. Just as we have been losing our sense of history, we have been losing that sense which says “a penny saved is a penny earned.” If the mass man is merely concerned with his immediate gratification, and if he has no regard for the economic long-run, is not indebtedness his destiny? And once he finds himself ruined by short-sightedness, what desperate measure will he next employ?  Retrogression is likely, Ortega predicted. By this he meant “typical movements of mass men, directed, as all such are, by men who are mediocrities, improvised, devoid of long memory and a ‘historic conscience,’ they behave from the start as if they already belonged to the past….”

If we look back at history, we see that inflation and economic stagnation can exist together. We also see that inflation is the natural course of government when leaders prove themselves ignorant. And why should leaders be any more enlightened than the so-called “experts” and professors who advise them today? What was taken as common sense for centuries is now considered out-of-date. The same John Maynard Keynes quoted above also said, “In truth, the gold standard is already a barbarous relic.” Indeed! The Roman Emperor Caracalla debased the silver denarius from 95 percent silver to 50 percent and then 0.5 percent. Barbarian mercenaries in service to the emperor would not accept payment in Roman coins, but insisted on payment in gold.

History suggests that all fiat currencies are headed for worthlessness. We do not know, of course, how long it will take in any given case. The National Inflation Association has a number of intriguing charts, which readers may wish to evaluate for themselves (see http://inflation.us/charts.html [4]). The one that caught my attention is titled “Fed & Treasury Total Money (FTTM).” According to this chart the Fed & Treasury total money supply began to skyrocket after the 2008 economic meltdown. The NIA set down the following note below the chart, “The DOW Jones has rallied 97 percent from its low in March of 2009. However, adjusted for real inflation, the Dow Jones is about equal to where it was in 1963.”

Inflation is already here, and worse is coming.

Jeffrey Nyquist is the President of the Strategic Crisis Center and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Political Science at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Russia’s Disruptive Role

On Sunday I spoke with Polish journalist Tomasz Pompowski, who wanted to give me an update on events in Europe. The picture he painted was not entirely pleasant. Russia, he said, was promoting economic and political instability. Russia’s role is not generally understood, he explained, but “whenever you look behind a little, you see the Russians. You see former KGB people.” The game appears to involve businesses, including media businesses – but especially the energy business. The Russians make a great deal of money by exporting gas and oil. It also appears they have a special strategy for dealing with their competition.

“The peaceful siesta after the collapse of the Berlin Wall was deceptive,” said Pompowski. The Russians, he explained, made use of the Arab world in order to cause problems and play games with future energy prices. “If you talk to KGB dissidents,” he said, “they will tell you that the most important research department in the KGB was that devoted to Arabic language, culture and Islam, going back since before the invasion of Afghanistan.” The Arabs and the Iranian Muslims control a very considerable part of global energy production. If trouble can be stirred up within these countries, or between countries, then Russia will get more money for its energy exports. For example, the political destabilization of Saudi Arabia could be very profitable for Russia. At present, encouraging Iranian nuclear ambitions, with the attending sanctions on Iran, may also lead to higher Russian profits.

Russia is also making economic moves into Europe and Israel. “Russian tycoons are buying up the Israeli media,” he said. “Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch is under attack just as he was starting to invest in Eastern Europe.” Pompowski pointed to the fact that Murdoch’s rival in the United Kingdom is “former” Soviet KGB officer Alexander Lebedev, who owns the Evening Standard and is buying Murdoch’s News of the World which was closed down three weeks ago in the wake of a scandal in which News of the World was found by British police to have hacked the phone calls of nearly 4,000 people, including members of the Royal family. “Look at that,” said Pompowski.

When I asked Pompowski why the Russian operatives would block Murdoch in Eastern Europe while taking over his outlets in Britain, he explained: “I believe Moscow has to put down the alternative voices.” Why would this be necessary? Moscow is trying to split off Europe from America through the agency of anti-American active measures.  Murdoch’s media outlets represent an obstacle to such an effort.  “The late Gen. Odom believed that the Soviet Union transformed itself into these different entities,” noted Pompowski. “Now the NATO states have to understand this new complex of power, and they must take notice.” The danger, said Pompowski, is that Russia may “damage and destabilize the structures established after the Second World War, which were part of the Western security system.” The official Russian policy is to create a new “security architecture for Europe.” This translates as Europe without NATO – that is to say, Europe dominated by Russia.

Pompowski also spoke of revelations that the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Georgia last year was carried out by Russian GRU officer Maj. Yevgeny Borisov, and was coordinated by Russian military intelligence.  Why would Russian military officials order an attack against a U.S. Embassy? “I believe the Russian state is completely in disarray,” Pompowski explained. “There are several criminal powers within the state, all acting along different lines. I think in the end they are lost. Russia is a rogue state. It is completely a rogue state.” The idea is that Russia is caught between nationalist, communist, mafia and ersatz-Orthodox Christian power blocs. Yet all the various internal Russian power groups share a similar perspective when it comes to America. “Have you seen the report on the visit of the Russian ambassador to NATO with members of Congress?” asked Pompowski. “Ambassador Rogozin met with Senators Kyl and Kirk on Tuesday or Thursday, and he called them ‘monsters of the Cold War.’”

Pompowski also spoke of the ersatz-Christian Norwegian terrorist, Anders Bhering  Breivik, who was allegedly trained earlier this year at a secret paramilitary field camp in Belarus (a former Soviet republic currently defended by the Russian military and used as a conduit for exporting crime, drugs, weapons – and perhaps even terrorists). Supposedly, Breivik visited Minsk last spring. “There is a discussion of Russian links with this tragedy in Norway,” said Pompowski. “The information is growing all the time.” Breivik’s code name within the Belarus KGB was allegedly “Viking,” though his connection to Russia is unproven, his praise for Putin and the Russian political system is coincident with his disgust for the soft, politically correct democracies of Western Europe and Scandinavia.

I asked Tomasz about the idea that somebody in Moscow has been pushing Right Wing extremism in Europe. “I am close to this theory,” Pompowski responded. “But you cannot find in this a homogeneous Russian goal. There is no one in control of the Russian state. It is a conglomerate of different states.” Of course, support for Slavic nationalism is nothing new, he explained.” They were behind the nationalism of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia, for example. The Russians are involved in many manipulations, some of them established under Gorbachev or earlier.” According to Pompowski, the tendency of these manipulations is to destabilize the West, to bring higher energy prices and to foster extremism. The Russian military has indeed been fostering a movement in Europe, acknowledged Pompowski. “Unlike the militaries of the West, they had a department of military philosophy placed high up within the strategic command system. These people claimed to be Russian Orthodox, but the majority of the Russian Orthodox leadership had their origins within the KGB. Under the Soviet Union you had to get through the KGB to rise as a priest. Now these people are given a free hand, and are still involved in KGB strategies.”

I asked Pompowski about the release of an independent report on the tragic air crash that killed the Polish president last year as he traveled to mark the 60th anniversary the Katyn Forest massacre where thousands of Polish military officers were slaughtered by the Soviets in 1940. He described how Russian officials hindered Polish investigators of the air crash, denying them access to aircraft wreckage, onboard voice recordings and more. In summing up, Pompowski translated a line from Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert, which was used in the report, and which had to do with the Katyn massacre.

“And do not forgive
“And you are not entitled to forgive
“On behalf of those who are betrayed.”

Jeffrey Nyquist is the President of the Strategic Crisis Center and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Political Science at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

This article was originally published on Financial Sense on August 1, 2011. The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

The Grand Deception

Those who fear Russia are easily mocked. “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming,” is on video. Watch it and laugh. Concern about communist subversion is also mocked. All you have to do is remember what a bad egg Joseph McCarthy was, if you remember at all. To allay any lingering doubt or fear, go to Russia and take the KGB tour. See all the rusting submarines and missile boats you want. You can even see rusty signs in front of Russia’s ABM radar at Sofrino.

If you subscribed to “National Review” when it was still under the influence of Whittaker Chambers and James Burnham, you may remember a completely different magazine than exists today. It’s funny how vigilance and a sense of danger can be turned into smug self-satisfaction over time.

Twenty years ago, a Russian KGB defector named Anatoliy Golitsyn went to see William F. Buckley, the editor of “National Review.” Golitsyn needed help on writing a book with the title “New Lies for Old.” It was about Russia’s strategy of faking the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. As it happened, Buckley showed Golitsyn the door.

After the “patron saint of American conservatives” closed the door on the truth about communist strategy, few would have the courage to look back and say that Golitsyn was right. The changes in Eastern Europe have been deceptive, orchestrated and calculated from on high. The strategy has been to disarm the West and get communist bloc countries inside NATO – to subvert the alliance from within.

Consider the Czech Republic as an example. Having entered NATO, it is yet controlled by the old communists who are waiting for a signal from Moscow. That’s all it will take for them to reverse the changes that have taken place since 1989. Yesterday, I received a letter from a politically active Czech citizen, Hana Catalanova. “I know how hard this is to make people see,” she wrote. “You might think it is better over here … no, it is not!”

The big lie of 1989, the grand deception, was cynically calculated to take advantage of modern apathy and ignorance: “… we are actually living our lives in such lies, and people don’t care,” wrote Catalanova. “What about the next generation, our kids?”

Hana worries about freedom and the truth. Explaining how the communists retained control after the Velvet Revolution of 1989, she noted, “The problem here is that too many people were involved and engaged in shady deals with the secret police and corruption … betraying their friends, fellow workers, next door neighbors. And this is such a small country.”

America has a different excuse for turning its back on freedom and the truth. As I once told a leading Russian military defector who asked about America’s unpatriotic attitudes, “They’re too busy shopping and having fun.”

The Czechs have another problem. “In towns and villages everyone knows everyone,” explained Catalanova, “They are hiding their past behind the silence. They stay deaf to everything that doesn’t concern them, because if they speak up, somebody might tell who they were before. I can tell you, it is all very depressing.”

Hana Catalanova has written an important essay on the imprisonment of Captain Vladimir Hucin, a Czech official who has uncovered the truth about secret communist structures controlling important public institutions. “The whole world must know that communism is not dead,” wrote Catalanova. “It is very much alive and threatens to overthrow the world democracies.”

People here in America look around and wonder why the environmentalists are so strong, why business is under assault and rural property rights are no longer secure. They wonder why so many are teaching Marxist propaganda in schools and universities. Some of us cannot understand why our political leaders keep insisting on further military cutbacks as they continue to do business with the gangsters in Beijing and Moscow.

The short answer is: We’ve been subverted, infiltrated, duped and manipulated by communists and leftists. We have been too busy shopping and having fun to notice their “long march” through our institutions. We have been too absorbed in our careers and personal satisfactions. And now our country has its own hidden (or not so hidden) communist structures. As Russia and China prepare new missiles against us, our own state system allows itself to be unthinkingly nudged toward self-dissolution.

The danger is real, despite all the ridicule that comes to mind about “communists under every bush.” Have you talked to your daughter’s social studies teacher? Have you any idea where all this political correctness ultimately comes from?

If I joined the present chorus writing about shark attacks, the response to my column would be huge. But since I write about the advance of communism, about evidence that our Cold War enemy has been playing a trick on us, I get hardly any response at all. Americans have lost their sense of self preservation, their sense of history.

Do you really think that an enemy of more than four decades simply ran up the white flag because he couldn’t “pay the bills”?

Of course, that’s what you want to believe to keep your peace of mind. But this peace of mind is for fools. Give it up and get with the facts and testimony. The superficial reports on Russia, Chechnya, Eastern Europe and the collapse of communism are laced with falsehood and distortion. Such reports do not convey a real understanding of events.

French journalist Anne Nivat’s book on the Chechin war has recently been translated into English. It deserves to be widely read, though few will understand its importance. Nivat disguised herself as a Chechin refugee and watched events close up. Many of the Chechins she interviewed felt the war was a Kremlin puppet show. “I’m ashamed for Western Europe, where you live in a world of lies,” an elderly Chechin told Navat. “We are all victims, manipulated by the politicians in Moscow.”

The same could be said for America.

Jeffrey Nyquist is the President of the Strategic Crisis Center and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Political Science at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

This article was originally published on Financial Sense on September 6, 2001. The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Sheep in Sheep’s Clothing

A curious discussion was started on the Website of the Inter-American Institute between the Russian geopolitical theorist Aleksandr Dugin and the Brazilian philosopher Olavo de Carvalho. In this discussion Mr. Dugin argues against global capitalism and the “New World Order.” He foresees the ultimate victory of Eurasian land power over American sea power. It is difficult to say whether Dugin’s rhetoric has real long-term importance or whether it will prove to be one of Moscow’s passing trial balloons. Whatever the case, Dugin’s ideas appear to justify a future war against the United States; furthermore, his promotion within the Russian establishment indicates an observable strategic tendency.

Dugin’s point of departure is simple: Western and Russian (or Eurasian) civilizations are incompatible. “The metaphysical basis of the West is individualism,” wrote Dugin. Russian civilization, on the other hand, stresses “a collective entity.” The collective entity in question is a Eurasian commonwealth, with its capital in Moscow. In Dugin’s view America is the champion of a hyper-materialistic ethic, based on radical individualism. It is subversive of traditional human values. As an empire of “frenetic consumption,” America threatens to remake the world in its own image. To prevent this, Dugin proposes an alliance between Russian/Chinese militarists and the Muslim Brotherhood. Appealing to the conservative sympathies of Professor de Carvalho and others, Dugin wrote: “every … traditionalist should be on the Eurasian and Islamic side against materialist and capitalist decline….” He believes that all conservatives and traditionalists should join with Moscow and the Islamists in smashing the Bilderberg Club, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission.

Here we encounter a central theme of Moscow’s old (and new) rhetoric: Western civilization is a den of iniquity ruled by a wicked money power. Within Western civilization the Left already represents a movement against capitalism. Now it is time to bring the political Right into the anti-capitalist camp. Dugin therefore extends a hand of friendship to all conservatives and traditionalists. We have the same enemy, he explains. And that enemy should be attacked. The globalist project, says Dugin, “is far more powerful … [and] dangerous … than the two other projects [i.e., Russian/Chinese militarism and Islamism].” The merchants of the West, and the financial oligarchy they build, can only be stopped by a combination of Russian-Chinese “national-militarism” and “Islamic religious fundamentalism.” The choice is clear, says Dugin, “and everyone is invited to make it by himself.”

Furthermore, as Dugin points out, the emerging neo-socialist trend in Latin America suggests that a new bloc of countries will soon join Russia, China and the Islamists. As a Brazilian, Professor de Carvalho should know that South America isn’t really part of Western civilization at all. The Latin Americans are, by nature, opposed to the West’s money changers. Though Dugin does not pose as a Luddite, he nonetheless suggests (however indirectly) that the fundamental technology of civilization (i.e., the technology of money) must be smashed; and those who handle money (i.e., bankers) are vile. He does not acknowledge that money (together with fire and the wheel) is one of those inventions responsible for getting man out of the Stone Age. Instead, he says that the world will never accept “the absoluteness of the free market, human rights, liberalism, individualism and parliamentarian democracy.” Such ideals only signify the hegemony of the Western financial elite. Surely, Western conservatives cannot align themselves with corrupt money interests. And they cannot remain neutral, either. For the reality is, they must choose one side over the other. It is either Rome or Carthage. And for Dugin, U.S. global power represents “the eternal Carthage, which became a worldwide phenomenon.”

This theory, by the way, implies that America is doomed. In the end, sea power cannot cope with land power. The great wealth that comes to sea power is ultimately corrupting and vulnerable. Athens, as a sea power, was defeated by Sparta. Carthage, as a sea power, was defeated by Rome. In the end, the land power can become a sea power. Inevitably, Eurasia defeats Oceania. Russia and China form the whole of Eurasia, together with its “temporary” Islamist allies. What can the United States do against this great combination? The Americans cannot possibly “impose” individual freedom and the market economy on such a vast territory. The entire American project is therefore doomed, and will be squeezed out of existence in the end. As for those Americans who do not serve the greedy financial oligarchy of the free market system, Dugin says, “There may be another America, but that does not change anything in general.” America apart from the CFR and the neo-cons (i.e., “World Carthage”) is a nullity.

Dugin is incredulous regarding de Carvalho’s idea that the globalist elite “is not an enemy of Russia, China or the Islamic countries” but a collaborator with them in efforts to “destroy the sovereignty … and economy of the United States.” Because Dugin relies on a set formula for stigmatizing American policy-makers and their motives, he does not see the extent to which American leaders are themselves neo-socialists ready to hoist the banner of “holistic collectivism.”

In response, Professor de Carvalho noted the difference between Dugin’s mission and his own. “[Dugin’s] task is to recruit soldiers for the battle against the West and for the establishment of the universal Eurasian Empire. Mine is to attempt to understand the political situation of the world so that my readers and I are not reduced to the condition of blind men caught in the gunfire of the global combat….” To associate the globalist elite with America, argues de Carvalho, is an error. The globalist elite are following a course of their own, which does not coincide with American national interests. “I defend one-half of the West against the other half,” he says.

As a matter of course, de Carvalho’s claims that the Western financial elite has been working to establish its own worldwide socialist dictatorship, which is not to be confused with the dictatorship of Moscow or Beijing. The socialism put forward by the richest families in the West is a means for ensuring their ongoing influence – an effort to protect themselves against the ravages of free market competition. To prove his case, de Carvalho points to the work of Anthony Sutton. He also points to the “industrial blossoming of China … and its transfiguration … into the most powerful potential enemy of the USA….”

Here the question must be asked: What kind of brilliant scheme could entail the industrialization of China, and the arming of an implacable enemy? Setting aside Sutton’s misinterpretations of the data (where he completely fails to grasp the psychological realities of the capitalist milieu), the entire situation may be clarified by reference to a single fact: namely, the suicidal trajectory of the Western financial elite over the past half-century.  As James Burnham indicated long ago, liberalism is a philosophy leading to Western suicide. By industrializing and arming China, by rebuilding Russia’s position, by opening Europe to Islamic immigration, by adopting social policies which have collapsed Europe’s birth rate, we see the rush to suicide. What geniuses indeed! What leadership! Through intellectual superficiality, political shallowness, and arrogance, they cannot possibly hope to survive their own policies. If there is a plot to establish a universal socialist dictatorship the only people who stand a chance of establishing it are in Moscow and Beijing. I fail to see how Washington and London remain standing, let alone influential.

The pre-war propaganda of Alexander Dugin merely provides a rationale for destroying something that has essentially weakened and undermined itself over a period of decades. The course of self-undermining is not conspiratorial, in my view. Wealth and power, combined with an overly rationalistic intellectual culture, tend to produce a mild form of insanity within elite groups.  Russian, Chinese and Islamic leaders are not free from their own special forms of insanity. It is the large, deracinated, non-traditional, highly bureaucratic structures of modernity that contribute to such insanity, along with the shift away from a culture based on books and serious reading to a culture based on images, television and slogans. The intellect in all classes, among the most advanced societies, has been declining for decades. Stupidity may be added to insanity, the one amplifying the other.  This is the real New World Order. We have left behind the greatness of the past, setting aside the classics. The vaunted elite are merely sheep. Or as Winston Churchill once described a representative specimen: “A sheep in sheep’s clothing.”

Jeffrey Nyquist is the President of the Strategic Crisis Center and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Political Science at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

This article was originally published on Financial Sense on May 5, 2011. The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Acknowledging the Deception

Meet Victor Kalashnikov: former KGB officer, scholar, analyst, and writer. He is married to historian and journalist Marina Kalashnikova, the subject of last week’s column. Before the Soviet Union collapsed Victor worked for the KGB in Vienna. After Gorbachev’s bizarre abdication in December 1991, Victor found himself drawn into the Presidential administration of Boris Yeltsin on orders of KGB General Yevgeny Primakov. There he became a research director in the Russian Public Policy Center. “So I turned my attention 180 degrees from Europe to Russia,” Victor explained. “I was quite enthusiastic to explore what was going on in Russia. The people in the Kremlin came across a lot of surprises and discoveries as to what Russia really was.”

And what is Russia?

With help from presidential advisor Sergei Stankevich, Victor managed to retire from the KGB. But the KGB wanted him back, just as they wanted Russia back. Whatever job Victor took, wherever he went, the KGB would appear. “They always arrived on the scene with offers and promises, wanting to exploit my contacts,” Victor explained. You see, the Cold War was still ongoing, and so was the work of Moscow’s spies. In 1997 the SVR (KGB) wanted Victor to bring spies into the German oil company he worked for. When he refused, the SVR promised he would “pay with his blood.” In 1999, after having coffee at the Russian Embassy in Brussels, Victor became very sick. Quite naturally, he suspected poison.

In 2000, one of Victor’s colleagues had been summoned by the secret police and told that the Kalashnikovs were on a “black list” due to their politically incorrect writings. People were being warned on all sides, including their dentist. Friends melted away. Co-workers avoided contact. Dental work could not be done. “What struck me, especially with the younger generation,” Victor noted, “is that they appear to be such conformists. No idealism, no values. They were just ready to cooperate with whomever they saw as their superiors. That’s why ultimately, nowadays, we unexpectedly found ourselves in the position of outsiders, dissidents, even enemies. That’s the way it developed.”

In 2004 Victor and his wife continued their controversial writing activities and found themselves accosted on the street by FSB (KGB) officers who warned them against entering foreign embassies and disrupted their attempts to meet with diplomats. At about this time the Kalashnikovs were fired from their newspaper jobs. From that point forward, Victor and Marina could not find work in the Russian media, academia or business. Eventually, they sought an outlet for their talents in Ukraine. But here again, the Kremlin gave them no rest, as Ukrainian officials warned that the Russian Interior Minister had included the Kalashnikovs on a list of “extremists” and that, as a consequence, their personal safety in Ukraine could not be guaranteed.

“Conformism is absolutely overwhelming here,” Kalashnikov lamented. “You should not distinguish between the Russian authorities and the Russian people. From the unemployed in the provinces, to the top of the hierarchy, conformism is huge. Also within the media, they are all willing to cooperate. It is a reality and it will develop that way, despite today’s economic troubles. It is a typically Russian phenomenon.”

If it sounds like Soviet times, you are not mistaken. The totalitarian system has now become more sophisticated and more streamlined. The West should not deceive itself. The Cold War never ended. The KGB remains in place. According to Kalashnikov, “It is not necessary to control the entire former Soviet area. We can project our influence. Even when we allow the Americans and NATO to have a presence there, we have the upper hand. I even suspect that what happened has produced a modernized strategic model.”

Gone are the imperial burdens. Russia can use its secret agent networks to blackmail executives, politicians and intellectuals. Journalists can be bought inexpensively, as it turns out. The disinformation campaigns of the 60s, 70s and 80s have laid the groundwork for a great deception. The West thinks they are dealing with a new entity in Russia. Yet they are still dealing with the house that Stalin built.

“My feeling is that the old personnel management system has been reinstalled from Soviet times,” said Kalashnikov, explaining how the secret police can deprive uncooperative citizens of a livelihood. “In the Soviet Union your personnel file followed you whenever you changed from one job to another. Your employer sees any black marks set down by previous employers, and my former employer [the KGB] was eager to make life as difficult as possible. They wanted to press us to the degree that we would admit our defeat and failure, reconsidering our behavior.”

In the West we were told that the Soviet system was finished. We were told that the Communist Party lost power, the KGB was reformed and democracy won the day.

Kalashnikov said: “There was not any moment, I can state with certainty, that the old system of KGB and nomenklatura admitted their failure or lost control. They just changed their form and appearance. It was a sort of generational change. Instead of generals in charge, we have lieutenant colonels. They behaved differently, but they are doing the same thing. There has never been any moment when they admitted historical defeat. There never was any serious step toward de-communization – never, never. The Yakovlev Commission was conceived to imitate de-communization procedures in Central Europe.”

So it was a sham?

“Yes, it was a fake, an imitation,” Kalashnikov insisted. “From the very beginning the idea was, we’ll get back, we’ll modernize. And that’s how it happened. Of course, many Western observers were happy about the new faces and new styles and openness. But step by step, you yourself may remember that many American institutions here in Russia have been pushed out or brought under Russian control. So, formally, we have several Western bodies here allegedly doing democracy and consulting work, but in fact they have become an instrument of Kremlin policy to imitate and exploit for their own purposes.”

Here are the words of a former KGB official, telling the truth from his home in Moscow, barred from employment for his honesty – blacklisted by his former colleagues because he did not want to participate in the greatest deception of our time. “There was no real accountability for the past,” Kalashnikov explained. “It was a big deception. People changed their appearance and behavior, but the real meaning of the system remained the same – in substance. It was quite visible to me. The West was just happy that we let go of the names of Communism and Soviet and so on. We changed our vocabulary. Instead of Politburo and Central Committee we have a president and a presidential administration. Instead of KGB, we have FSB. I insist that the interpretation of late Soviet history should be changed profoundly. The KGB maintained huge networks of domestic spies. Hundreds of thousands of people were deployed at the right time, influencing the democracy movement. That system has been extended by Putin. If you look at Russia from the outside you cannot discern who is manipulating the whole thing. Hundreds of thousands of assets are employed in politics and business. There is a hidden agenda and hidden structures. Even the Germans have not gotten rid of their hidden structures having to do with the Communist era. With all the German efforts and technology they still cannot solve the problem of hidden Communist structures. They are still being manipulated. Now take Russia, which was free to reconstruct its [totalitarian] structures under a different guise.”

And what are the strategic implications?

“They would be huge,” said Kalashnikov. “You know, one thing people should understand. There is a definite line of continuity in Moscow’s military policies from Stalin’s time. Moscow has consistently followed the same line of policy. What is misleading for many people is that the material military presence is not there anymore. We don’t need so many tanks. The question is what sort of design, what sort of strategy you have in place. All of that Moscow has in terms of potentials. We see that the Russian presence is being reinstalled in some places – Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.” The important thing is manipulation and influence instead of direct control.

In terms of modern strategy Russia’s reduced size brings advantages. Now Russia is not responsible for feeding Azerbaijan or providing cheap energy to the Baltic States or Ukraine. The KGB’s weapons of influence and manipulation, including organized crime and drug trafficking, can be used to influence and manipulate without maintaining expensive armies. And so, the Russians have learned how to streamline their dominance. Make the Americans think that Washington has the upper hand. But look around today and see what is happening to the American economy, to the U.S. dollar, and to the U.S. nuclear deterrent. There is a visible weakening in all three areas.

Victor Kalashnikov is a brave man. He has refused to falsify reality for the sake of career opportunity or even personal safety. He is telling us the way things are the largest country in the world. You can ignore him if you like, but ignore him at your own peril.

Jeffrey Nyquist is the President of the Strategic Crisis Center and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Political Science at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

This article was originally published on Financial Sense on July 24, 2009. The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Right Wing Bolshevism—Part 2

Last September, in the Web magazine AlternativeRight.com, Nina Kouprianova wrote an intriguing article titled Who’s Afraid of Russia Today? As an “alternative right” spokeswoman, Ms. Kouprianova thinks Russia’s 24/7 English-language news channel (Russia Today) provides encouragement for “the burgeoning Patriot movement” here in America. And what encouragement, indeed! In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center is going after the Russian channel on account of its support for Right Wing extremists.

Given the Leftist taint of the Southern Poverty Law Center, what are we to think? Has Russia Today been unfairly maligned? According to an explanatory article on the SPLC Website, “the Kremlin-financed television channel has devoted considerable airtime not only to coverage that makes Russia look good, but to coverage that makes the United States look bad.” Of course, nobody should be surprised at this, given the Kremlin’s longstanding rivalry with the United States. What is interesting, however, is the new approach of Moscow’s anti-American rhetoric – from the Right. According to the SPLC Website, “Over the past year and a half, Russia Today has reported with boosterish zeal on conspiracy theories popular in the resurgent ‘Patriot’ movement…. Its slickly packaged stories suggest that a legitimate debate is under way in the United States about who perpetrated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and about President Obama’s eligibility for high office.”

It appears that Moscow’s TV channel is suggesting (however indirectly) that the U.S. Government was behind the 9/11 attacks; – and would also like to see a constitutional crisis over President Obama’s birth certificate. The Kremlin has long sought to demoralize and cripple their “main enemy” by every means at its disposal. Saying bad things about the capitalist system is Moscow’s stock and trade. For those who understand the game, it is hardly necessary to point out that the entire 9/11 Truther movement, in point of fact, is a tapestry of useful idiots and agents of influence whose activities may be characterized by that eminent pioneer of Right Wing Bolshevism, Lyndon LaRouche, who began his career as a member of the Socialist Worker’s Party teaching dialectical materialism at New York City’s Free School, and later founded a Right Wing Marxist Party (the United States Labor Party). His frequent meetings with Soviet representatives over the years did not end with the Soviet Union. He has continued to meet with Russian “representatives,” with occasional trips to Moscow.

There is a picture, easily accessible on the Web, of long-time LaRouche associate Webster Tarpley sitting next to Russian Gen. Leonid Ivashov during the 2005 Axis for Peace Conference in Brussels. Ivashov, who served as the Chief of Staff of the Russian armed forces on Sept. 11, 2001, stated at the conference: “The organizers of those [9/11] attacks were the political and business circles interested in destabilizing the world order and who had the means necessary to finance the operation.” The Russian general further argued, “We have to look for the reasons of the attacks in the coincidence of interests of big capital at global and transnational levels….”

Well of course, the evil capitalists were behind it all. Such are the talking points of every Bolshevik, at all times, without the need for direct instructions from on high. This “truth,” in one form or another, is constantly being packaged and passed along to the useful idiots, tools, and agents of influence who spread the infection throughout society. And make no mistake; the anti-capitalist infection has taken root, as anyone can see. Russia Today is no minor broadcast outlet. As the SPLC points out, “the Moscow-headquartered Russia Today has a large global audience tuning in via cable, satellite and the Internet. In North America, Europe and South Africa, some 200 million paying viewers – including a growing number in the United States – have access to the network.”

It is worth noting that Russia Today has produced segments with the notorious 9/11 Truther Alex Jones, who once said to Webster Tarpley (on air), “Our information is everywhere.” And that is how Kremlin disinformation works. It is not a function of quality, but quantity; and Jones has been the perfect mouth-piece. Inciting his radio listeners against finance capital in the language of a revolutionary agitator, Jones says “9/11 was an inside job” and that the United States has become a “deep tyranny.” A close observer of the Jones phenomenon, Cliff Kincaid (of USA Survival News), has said, “Jones has much more in common with the Left than the Right.” Kincaid noted that Jones is a fan and friend of Lyndon LaRouche, and furthermore: “Why is he on Russian television defending their foreign policy? Why has MSNBC called this man a member of the ‘New Right’?”

In the tangled web of today’s politics, where economic sabotage has its parallels in ideological sabotage, you must always look for the hidden connections and telltale signs that agents of influence are at work. The most sophisticated disinformation machine in the world has been the KGB and its successor organization (FSB/SVR). Nina Kouprianova, in her Alternative Right article, wants us to laugh at the idea of Russian agents of influence – as if the history of the last several decades never happened. Russia Today, she says, “is not much different than the BBC…. Furthermore, the idea that private ownership of massive media conglomerates somehow guarantees objectivity is simply utopian – to state the painfully obvious.”

But that’s not really the point, Ms. Kouprianova. The BBC is not the mouth-piece of a murderous dictator at the head of a police state. For that matter, a private media corporation like ABC or Fox News is not the state, however slanted their presentations may be. There is an important difference between a private corporation and the state. Private corporations cannot send millions to death camps, or build a system of collective farms on a foundation of genocide, or threaten half the world with nuclear annihilation. No, Ms. Kouprianova, as Friedrich Nietzsche once said, the state is “the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies, too; and this lie creeps from its mouth: ‘I, the state, am the people.'” But the state, more than anything, is not the people. If it has broken its bounds, usurping the private sphere, it is a destroyer of peoples. Whatever the state says, warned Nietzsche, “it lies – and whatever it has, it has stolen. ” There should be no room in the heart of the true Right (alternative or otherwise) for state control of any television  channels. The state should remove its paws from the economy and from the media; that is, if the people are to remain free.

Furthermore, American “patriots” should not serve as apologists for the Kremlin’s English-speaking propaganda tentacle. Those who attack America and its institutions, favoring the institutions of a foreign enemy, do not merely insult our intelligence but undermine the integrity of public discourse.  A random lie may be harmless when there is no guiding strategy behind it; but a coordinated campaign of lies, begun by secret agents, perpetuated by dupes, is no child’s play. The game threatens our national unity, our prosperity, the viability of our internal order. But then, how else would a foreign enemy provoke civil war in America?

Jeffrey Nyquist is the President of the Strategic Crisis Center and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Political Science at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

This article was originally published on Financial Sense on April 8, 2011. The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.