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Anti-Enemy Mania Part 3: Starve, Curse, Loathe
Of Stalin, Cancelled Novels, and Shark Attacks
“Anger can often be terrifying - but often ridiculous: that is why it is the most hated and despised of the emotions; and it is useful to be aware of both of these aspects” - Plutarch [On the Avoidance of Anger, 5]
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Introduction: Consumed by Hatred, Consumed by Shark
By now we have all grown used to Ukraine supporters expressing a deranged hatred for the Russian race, which goes far past a more rational hatred for the Russian government and its supporters. There have been two particularly extreme recent instances of this phenomenon. The first, is that Russian was killed by a shark in Egypt- in front of his father- and many have taken the side of the shark on the grounds that it is a moral good for there to be one less Russian. The man was a permanent resident of Egypt, not a tourist, thus had no clear connection to the war besides his nationality. The other, more telling instance is that Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the best selling book Eat, Pray, Love, has “indefinitely postponed” her new novel, The Snow Forest, because it is set in Russia. Ukraine supporters were appalled she would try to release such a book. Gilbert released a ludicrous video on Twitter where she explains that she realizes it is bad to “release something like that” into the world at this time.
The book is about a group of Russians in Siberia in the mid-20th century who resist the Soviet Union and protect the environment. At a surface level, it is absurd that they would be upset about historic fiction where the USSR government is the antagonist simply because it is set in Russia. It is pathetic and concerning that an “artist” would cancel such a work. This is especially true given that the supposed Ukrainians complaining may be Baltic teenagers and American wine moms who were never personally harmed by Russia or the USSR. However, there is an important logic to this: the Ukraine supporters have created a narrative where the Russian people and culture- not communist ideology and certainly not any of the other Soviet states- bear sole responsibility for all of the negative actions of the Soviet Union [which presumably includes defeating Hitler, if they are credited with that at all.] The Russian ethnicity is even blamed for the ethnic Georgian dictator Stalin, who is said to be “Russified,” as if he is transracial like Rachel Dolezel. It is understandable that Ukrainians [if not their internet supporters] are angry and hateful at Russia, having been invaded, but it is profoundly dangerous to direct that hatred towards the ethnicity itself instead of the Russian government and its supporters. Further, as is commonly the case with rage, it is outright counter-productive, since this hatred creates a justification for the Russian Federation to use military force to protect ethnic Russians in other countries, and makes the common Russian see that he needs his government for protection. While it is clear that Russia and Russians don’t respect Ukraine and Ukrainians, for all of the spurious claims of genocide in Ukraine, it is quite clearly Ukraine and its supporters who want Russians erased from this Earth.
Background: Ethnic Hatred in the Era of Absurdity
For anyone living in the West for the last decade, the rise of anti-Russian propaganda did not take any special skill to notice- either you saw it for what it was or bought into it. Anyone following Ukraine since 2014 was aware that they were trying to purge Russian culture from their society. In fact, though most Ukraine supporters are the sort of people who would freak out about a Florida school moving a book to a different shelf, they are proud of Ukraine literally burning Russian-language books. It’s incredible how fast the switch was turned on, but the Russiagate / covid / Black Lives Matter / vaccines / birthing people / Ukraine folks are extremely programmed. The reason why they had to portray the Russian ethnicity and culture as pure evil is obvious: love or hate Russia and Putin, this is all part of a much larger geopolitical drama where all parties hold varying degrees of blame, and they can’t have anyone spreading the blame around. I wrote about the more absurd components of this when the war first began:
As the war has sputtered along, now for well over a year, the hatred of all things Russian has only became greater and less rational; it has to in order to keep the public distracted from things like the vaunted Leopard tanks being destroyed in Ukraine’s thus-far abysmal offensive. Nowhere has the hatred been more absurd than hating Russians who live abroad, and thus avoid supporting the war machine. Quite a lot of Russians abroad are corrupt wealthy “liberals” who hate their own country. With a bit of finesse- instead of ethnic hatred- perhaps they could be recruited as agents by the Western states they live in, but no one is thinking rationally. Instead, we have the Czech President saying the West needs to set up special race-based surveillance of Russians in their countries. Estonia, the craziest of the “Baltic Chihuahuas,” went so far as to prevent Russians who are fleeing mobilization from entering the country. That is to say, they are forcing Russians to stay in Russia and take part in the war against Ukraine. Estonia PM Kaja Kallas even made a bizarre claim that every man is responsible for the actions of his state; the Baltic States have decided they were never part of the USSR, so it’s unclear what this means for her ancestors who were ruled by Stalin. They believe that every Russian who doesn’t become a kind of terrorist and attack his own country is guilty, and thus these lunatics are in favor of shark attacks if they have the right victim.
Siding With Vicious Beast Over Helpless Man
The main things we know for sure about the shark attack victim Vladimir Popov are that he was a 23 year old Russian national and his father witnessed the attack. He most likely had been out of Russia since before the war began, and was a man of prime military age avoiding any involvement in the conflict by living abroad. Popov was at a municipal beach, so this just as well could have happened to any Egyptian. The depths of hatred in a person’s soul to see this horrific video of a son being killed before his father and earnestly praising it for removing a human from this world is chilling, even by the internet standards where inappropriate and dark humor is the norm. I never see Russians discuss random Ukrainians this way. These lunatics have lost their humanity:
And these are not just random people, the militant midget Paul Massaro is prominent and has some sort of relationship to the US government. In case you were wondering, the shark was clubbed to death by the Egyptians, and some of the man’s body parts were recovered from its stomach. His father is sending him home to be cremated.
Encouraging this sort of intense ethnic hatred serves some clear purposes, but a man consumed by anger cannot think rationally enough to punish the appropriate party in an appropriate way. The philosopher Plutarch wrote,
“If the rational mind takes over from anger the job of retribution, then the person who deserves it receives the punishment, and the rational mind remains safe and sound and valuable, instead of being punished itself, which is what often happens thanks to anger.” [Avoidance of Anger, 10]
There are many people that Ukraine- and perhaps even their supporters with no stake in the conflict- could be angry at. Putin, the Russian government, and its supporters, certainly; the West for using their country as a sacrificial pawn; neo-Nazi paramilitaries for sabotaging prospects of peace; Zelensky for letting it come to this and letting himself be talked out of negotiations; and, perhaps, even themselves for choosing a man who played the President on TV to be their real President during a civil war. The powers that be simply cannot allow that level of introspection, nor any genuine understanding of the broader geopolitical situation, and thus the messaging has to be “Russia has always been evil and will always be evil.” After all, we have always been at war with Eurasia.
As if the Land Itself is Toxic
When Elizabeth Gilbert announced the “indefinite suspension” of her novel The Snow Forest, she spoke of the “outpouring” of angry comments she got, “About the fact that I would choose to release a book into the world right now, any book, regardless of what the subject of it is, that is set in Russia.” The combination of her kowtowing in such a pathetic manner and her atrocious use of language makes me assume the novel would be terrible and that the world didn’t miss anything. However, by her line of reasoning, a person shouldn’t release a book about a study of birds in Russia’s Far East or any other anodyne subject. One shouldn’t even release a novel about people resisting Putin’s government which might inspire Russian resistance. Has this sort of standard ever previously been applied? The era of believing adults should be shielded from anything upsetting is relatively recent, and as with everything else in our society, it has been taken to the farcical extreme.
The premise of Gilbert’s book was meant to be that a group “of individuals” as she describes them [presumably their ethnicity was not meant to be important except insofar as they were non-indigenous people who would be in Siberia] who set up some sort of commune in the woods. Their goal is to protect the environment from the industrialization schemes of the Soviet government, who serve as the book’s antagonist. They live some sort of Ted Kaczynski type life for 40 years when they are discovered by an academic. It is inspired by the famous family of “Old Believers” who long survived alone in Siberia, hiding from the USSR. That is a pretty famous story, and I assumed it was her inspiration before I watched the video where she explains that it was. This is a respectable plot for a novel, and could be good, though this author has made it clear with this statement that she is an idiot and is not an insightful person. She also does not appear to be good at using the English language.
One would assume that anyone could see this book has absolutely nothing to do with the Russia-Ukraine War. One would be wrong. Yet again, Ukrainians and their supporters have found new and creative ways to make me hate them. I will show you a sampling of comments she got on the book’s announcement video. Bear in mind that at no point in the video did she say the family is ethnic Russian; they could have been from any of the many ethnic groups in the USSR, and they are hiding from the government. The one sane person was not popular here:
You see, in Russia, the evil emanates directly from the ground- the land is toxic. This is in contrast to noble Ukraine where the clouds are cotton candy and the rivers flow with chocolate. In reality, the US and Ukraine are actively colluding to making Ukraine’s soil literally toxic with the provision and use of depleted uranium tank ammunition, but no need to worry about the destruction of the country’s famed agricultural land.
For the sane and reasonable among us, Russia doesn’t need propaganda against Ukrainians because Ukrainians are constantly proudly behaving like the worst people in the world; I had no reason to have an opinion on Ukrainians until they started publicly acting this way all the time [assuming they even are Ukrainian and not fakers on the internet.] Of course, this is no sort of permanent trait of their ethnicity: they are caught up in a social mania that is causing this behavior. It’s like an entire nation of Democrats, a phenomenon I do not understand.
There is an enormous irony in these tweets in that America is well known for brutally attacking countries and then 10 years later writing books and making movies about how participating in the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign country made them sad. It also needs to be said, for the millionth time, that Russia is absolutely not committing genocide in Ukraine and the civilian casualties would be higher by orders of magnitude if they were. It is a bald-faced lie to say this is “literally genocide.” But these people will say anything, for example, calling it “the largest war since WWII” when both the Korean War and Vietnam War had far more casualties and men involved. Further, this book takes place roughly 80-40 years ago, when Russia and Ukraine were the same country, and involves people hiding in the woods to avoid participation in a corrupt and destructive culture. While she could just add the family being ethnic Ukrainian into the story, the ethnicity of the characters is not the point and this could not just be set in Alaska. For the premise to work they have to be hiding from a totalitarian government, in fact the government of the very Stalin these people are so obsessed with. Her story is meant to show universal truths about the state of man [well, woman] when removed from society.
Most of the commentary has been about the general absurdity and how this is bad for society, especially for less established authors who can’t afford to just not publish a book after years of work. Writing for Unherd, novelist Leigh Stein explained why this was a dangerous precedent for art. Connor Freeman wrote an excellent piece for antiwar.com discussing the many things wrong with this situation and highlighting some of the better reactions to it. In one noteworthy passage he writes,
“Using blatant intimidation to compel a beloved, enormously successful American author into canceling her own creative expression, for fear that it may humanize the other side in this proxy war in some tangential way, is not how you end wars. Peace talks, diplomacy, negotiations, and mutual concessions are how wars are ended.”
Indeed. I want to highlight a few responses from her cancellation announcement to show there is still some sanity:
These are mostly reasonable criticisms, certainly more so than demanding the novel’s cancellation. However, there is one particularly important point:
I’m sure Elizabeth Gilbert does only see this as absurd and rapidly caved regardless. There is no denying that these people have lost their minds with hatred. However, I would posit that it being about Russians resisting the USSR is the problem. You see, perhaps in part because liberals were apologists for the USSR when it did exist, Ukraine and its supporters have decided that Russia, Russians, and Russian-ness were the problem with the USSR, not totalitarian communist government. Nowhere is this more clear than in the frequent, ridiculous claims that Stalin was a “Russified” Georgian and that Russian “ethnic chauvinism” is the primary explanation for Stalin’s policies, while the other nationalities were not partners in the union.
As It Has Always Been With Tyrants
A consistent theme among the Russia-haters is a complete obsession with Stalin. Of course, Stalin has nothing to do with the current situation in Ukraine. I’ve been saying we need a Godwin’s Law for Stalin: whoever first references Stalin in an internet argument loses [a friend has proposed we call it “Rabbler’s Law.”] It is maddening that they will not stop talking about Stalin. Further, the good purpose of history is to understand how human affairs function and make better decisions, it is a bad use of history to gin up ethnic hatred by pretending that historic crimes represent some sort of genetic predestination. Of course, that is exactly what they are doing. The crux of the Stalin argument is that the USSR was a plot by Russians to dominate the other nationalities, Stalin was a “Russified” Georgian who committed the “Holodomor” due to ethnic hatred, and that “Russification” policies were a result of “ethnic chauvinism.” In short, the question that arises is “Why would an ethnic Georgian commit genocide to Russify Ukraine, and further, what does an ethnic Georgian dictator have to do with the Russian ethnicity, when the people had no role in setting his policies?”
The first topic to discuss is the idea that the USSR is something that Russians are solely responsible for. This is nonsensical given that several of their highest ranking officials were of other ethnicities or of mixed heritage. In fact, it is said that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was headed by non-Russians a majority of the time, though the difference between a Russian and a Ukrainian is not always clear, especially in the case of Brezhnev who gave his ethnicity as Russian and Ukrainian at different times. Further, most of the leaders of the notorious NKVD security agency were non-Russian, with 2 of the first 3 leaders being Jewish and the notorious Laverentiy Beria being Georgian. The first head of the precursors to the KGB, Felix Dzerzhinsky, was an ethnic Pole from Belarus; his successor in that role was also Polish. This is not to say Russians didn’t also play a large role, as the most populous member state, but clearly the unifying thing was that the USSR’s leaders were Bolsheviks. It was an ideological project meant to move the country past nationalism.
The idea that the USSR was a result of the Russian ethnicity also collapses under the first bit of logic: why would ethnic Russians, working for their own benefit, create a federation of member nations, instead of just being a Russia that continued to openly dominate the smaller states? For example, post-revolutionary France never made its colonies even nominal partners in the empire. When confronted with the irony that Ukraine supporters are obsessed with what the USSR was doing in the 1930s yet love Germany they say the difference is that Germany has apologized for Hitler. That is one difference, but Hitler was Germanic and was elected and thus is a reflection of what Germans chose. It’s not at all obvious why Russia should apologize to any of the other member states. In fact, Russian nationalists commonly claim that Russia was the primary victim of the USSR, which was ruled by a coalition of minorities and self-loathing Russians. They argue that wealth flowed out of a more productive Russia and into the outlying nations, such as the enormous amount of infrastructure built in Ukraine. [It needs to be noted that the Russian Empire’s wealth did come from looting these nations in the first place.] One prominent book covering this topic is called Affirmative Action Empire which details the way nationalities were empowered within the different republics as state policy. I have not read that book and cannot speak to the truth of the claim that the USSR was ruled by coalition of minorities, however it seems plausible to me as what is described is also the Democrat power base in America. The prominent Russian author Solzhenitsyn wrote a book making the controversial argument that Jews were perpetrators, not victims of communism in Russia. I don’t believe it was some sort of Jewish plot, but Jews held prominent positions within the Soviet government, and of course Trotsky was a Jew. Overall, the idea that inherent traits of the Russian ethnicity or culture were a key driver of the crimes of the Soviet Union is easily debunked.
Regarding the idea that Stalin was a “Russified” Georgian, this can be dismissed out of hand: Stalin grew up in Georgia and was always considered a Georgian by himself and everyone else. He only a “Russophile” insofar as he generally liked Russians, and further with his well documented love of American cinema could just as easily be called an Americanophile. This entire claim is based on Stalin allegedly once describing himself to a Japanese journalist that way. We can’t even be sure how that translates from Russian into Japanese into English. Even if he did say that, it would simply mean that he lived in Russia for long enough that he had been influence by where he lived. The idea that this would equate to him being a genocidal maniac in favor of Russians is completely baseless. It further needs to be mentioned that Russians and Ukrainians are completely indistinguishable- they just speak different languages that branched off from an older language.
Regarding the deaths during the Holodomor, it can be explained by the fact that Stalin was a brutal dictator and that communist farm collectivization doesn’t work and causes rural starvation. It was also the general era of the “Dust Bowl” where global bad weather combined with the soil damage caused by new industrial farming practices was causing enormous problems the world over. The difference between communism and freedom is that in America “Okies” could pack up and go pick grapes in California; in Ukraine they had to stay and starve to death. Mao’s agricultural reforms in China caused the same problems on a much larger scale and no one calls it genocide because the victims were the same ethnicity as Mao.
It is true that Stalin undertook some “Russification” policies and took part in various forms of ethnic cleansing, but it has nothing to do with the nature of Russia or Russians or his affinity for those things. Over the course of its life the USSR had many different arbitrary policies regarding the nationalities. The reason for this is that while under the Tsar all that needed to be done was demand obedience to a monarch from a seat of power, an ideology-based confederation of nations is much harder to manage. In fact, the United States is the only example I can name of such a project being long-term successful and that involved states that were not different nations and anyhow the federal government consolidated power over time. The USSR and Yugoslavia are really the only examples of anyone taking on such a project of a multi-national multi-lingual ideological state where many internal republics had different majorities but were nominally equal partners. Stalin decreed many forced population transfers, but it was primarily to hold power and give areas a clear majority in the belief it would make people easier to rule. This is a very old technique that is described by Machiavelli,
“If he is a new prince he must create everything in that state anew; that is, in the cities he must create new governments with new names, new authorities, and new men; he must make the rich poor and the poor rich…he must build new cities, destroy those already built, move the inhabitants from one place to another, and, in short, leave nothing in the province intact, no…wealth that is not acknowledged by the one who possesses it as coming from you. He must take as his model Philip of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great1, who with these means rose from petty king to ruler of Greece. Those who write of him declare that he moved men from province to province, just as shepherds move their flocks about. These are extremely cruel methods and inimical to every way of life, not only Christian but human, and every man should avoid them and prefer to live as a private citizen rather than as a king with so much damage to other men.” [I.27]
This is indeed what Stalin did to control the USSR, and it is common to tyrants. It is an evil method of human management but its efficacy cannot be denied. Robespierre, for a time the leader of Revolutionary France, famously implemented a 10 day week in order to, among other things, destroy the tradition of going to church on Sunday. Such things are done by men mad for power and it is ridiculous to attribute it to Stalin being a “Russophile” who wanted to genocide Ukraine due to Russian nationalism.
The last things to discuss here are the idea that Stalin grew to favor the Russians and Russian language over time. It’s true that Stalin engaged in some “Russification” policies, notably making all schools teach the Russian language. There is a simple answer here, which is that it is nearly impossible to manage an enormous confederation without a common administrative language. Further, with the growing threat of Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s it is easy to see why it was necessary to prepare the public to understand the language of military command. Why Russian was chosen is obvious, being that it was the most widely spoken language and closely related to Ukrainian and Belarusian. It would not have made sense to make the national language Tuvan or any of the other small languages within the USSR. This has nothing to do with “Russian ethnic chauvinism,” which it had been his policy to eliminate since taking power, it is something that had to be done to rule an enormous and diverse union of republics.
After World War II Stalin did change course and promote Russia as the leading component part of the USSR, saying in a 1945 toast, “I drink, before all, to the health of the Russian people, because in this war they earned general recognition as the leading force of the Soviet Union among all the nationalities of our country.” One does wonder if he was just addressing Russians, and would have said a similar thing of whoever happened to be in the room. He did accuse several other nationalities of disloyalty, with Wikipedia including this intentionally misleading line,
“Before and during World War II, Joseph Stalin deported to Central Asia and Siberia many entire nationalities for their alleged and largely disproven collaboration with the German invaders: Volga Germans, Crimean Tatars, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Kalmyks, and others. Shortly after the war, he deported many Ukrainians, Balts, and Estonians to Siberia as well.”
I can’t speak to the nationalities listed in the first sentence, but notice it doesn’t say the accusations against the ethnic groups deported after the war were “disproven,” it is simply implied due to the prior sentence. The Ukrainians and Baltic peoples actually talk about how their ancestors fought against Stalin all the time, it’s why there are Ukrainian Nazi cemeteries in Canada and pro-Nazi partisan Stepan Bandera is a national hero in Ukraine. Stalin probably did use a great deal of collective punishment, but most countries penalized Nazi collaborators after the war, so it’s not unusual that this woman’s father should be a wanted criminal unable to return home:
It isn’t, then, strange that Stalin should praise the Russians following victory in the war. It is hardly a sign that his animus was Russian nationalism.
This narrative about Stalin and the USSR is a major part of the messaging about Russians. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a continuation of Stalin’s genocide. The Russian Federation is the same thing as the Soviet Union. There is nothing else to consider: Russians are evil and their primary motivating factor is ethnic hatred of Ukrainians. Stalin only became evil because he admired Russians. There can be no books about Russians resisting Stalin. The shark is good because now there is one less Russian.
Conclusion: The Good Guys Would Hate Like This
That hatred can be a cause of and a result of war has always been true. After all, it is organized killing. The prudent man, however, at least puts his rage towards the right target. If Putin were a dictator as they say, then it wouldn’t even be the Russian people who were their enemy. However, Russia is at least a type of democracy, and Putin and the war are quite popular with the general public, so it can be fairly said their nation as a whole has invaded Ukraine. It is normal and understandable that Ukrainians and their supporters should hate the Russian government, its supporters, and the soldiers fighting in Ukraine. But things have gone far beyond that, and while saying the Russians hate them and are genocidal, Ukrainians show again and again that they are consumed with hatred- to the point of cheering on a shark eating a human. One should never let oneself be that drained of compassion for the suffering of one’s fellow man. At the very least, that sort of hatred leads to bad decision making, and it already has. But we must love the brave Ukrainians, ignore their Nazi insignias and statements about removing Russians from this earth! Ignore their hatred of even those Russians who dedicate their lives to opposing Putin’s government. Don’t ask what purpose it serves to silence Russian dissidents due to their ethnicity. That isn’t racist, it is racist to ask why someone would do that.
Despite some clips you may see of miserable bigots on Russian television, the Russians that one encounters do not express this sort of genocidal rage towards Ukrainians. In my experience, they mostly seem sad and frustrated that it has come to this. They had once considered Ukrainians their brothers, a sentiment which is frequently expressed. At the same time, the open hatred of all things Russian within Ukraine, makes it clear that ethnic Russians will never be treated fairly under Ukrainian rule. I’m sure Elizabeth Gilbert is just a coward who doesn’t understand why it would be a problem to write about Russians even if they are resisting Stalin. But resisting Stalin is the problem. There can be no nuance. There can be no understanding. Ukraine and the West don’t need to consider any sort of fairness or accountability because they are good and Russians are evil.
The truth is that regardless of how you feel about Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine- and though provoked, it was absolutely a choice to respond that way- Ukraine is caught up in geopolitical events much bigger than itself. They are but a pawn in a vast drama, and through ignorance, inexperience, or fear, their leaders misplayed their hand, and now their entire country suffers. At the same time, as Chris Hedges said, “War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning,” and Ukraine and its supporters are finding purpose in hatred being taken to this extreme. There will be no negotiation- Ukraine has decided it better they should all die and their race of men be exterminated than that Russia should rule ethnic Russians in the east. They are finding that their foreign sponsors are more than happy for them to make that sacrifice so long as it should harm the Russians, or perhaps, even if it doesn’t.
Thank you for reading! The Wayward Rabbler is written by Brad Pearce. If you enjoyed this content please subscribe and share. My main articles will always be free but paid subscriptions help me a huge amount [payment in roubles preferred.] I have a tip jar at Ko-Fi where generous patrons can donate in $5 increments. Join my Telegram channel The Wayward Rabbler. My Facebook page is The Wayward Rabbler. You can see my shitposting and serious commentary on Twitter @WaywardRabbler.
I suspect this is a rare error on the part of Machiavelli and that he means to say Philip V of Macedon, as I vaguely remember him doing such things. I have not been able to find the writers Machiavelli speaks of.