Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Ideology vs selfishness

For the post yesterday I got a weird comment in favor of democracy export "Gevlon, once upon a time Britain government though that Hitler can be pacified by giving him the part of Czhechoslovakia. It was not British territory, why care about it, right? You're making the same mistake. You think that Putin can be pacified by sacrificing part of Ukraine."

While this is very dumb, the reason for its dumbness isn't simple. I mean there were and are crazy movements that must be stopped before they grow stronger. Putin's Russia isn't one of them for a simple reason: it has no ideology.

Ideology is a belief that there is something bigger than the group and the group must serve it selflessly. I emphasize "the group". Social people always worship selflessness, but they usually do so in a mutual fashion: you must serve the group but you can expect the group to help you in need. Ideology on the other hand demands all of the people to sacrifice for it. For example the Nazism expected the "├╝bermench" to go to war against the rest of the World. The Islamism demands all Muslims to fight "infidels" instead of just live as Muslims themselves.

Ideology is needed to make people go to a war that doesn't offer them - as group - benefits. Such wars demand nothing but sacrifice from the people with no hope of reward, even in the case of victory. If they aren't brainwashed by an ideology, they won't go. Selfish people can't be sent to war, normal socials can only be sent if their group is in danger or expecting reward. For example Putin could make his people endure the economic costs for Crimea, because it's mostly populated by group members, so the war could be filed under "today we saved their homes, tomorrow they save ours". But invading West-Ukraine, Romania or Poland would not benefit the Russians as people. So they would not tolerate such adventures of Putin.

Russia and the Soviet Union are worlds apart. The SU had an ideology: communism that demanded a constant fight against the "burgeois". It also preached that the whole worker class of the World is one group, so it's the duty of every worker to fight for the "freedom" of all other workers. In modern Russia there isn't any ideology besides nationalism which is just reformulating the old social "we are a group" statement. While it can be - and is - used to unite the people against an enemy that hurts parts of the Nation, it can't be used against one that doesn't.

So Putin is no danger to the World peace, because if he tried to be one, he would simply lose the next election. The average Russian don't want to die or even pay more tax just to make him more powerful. The reason why it looks differently from the West is that there are millions of ethnic Russians outside the modern borders of Russia. This is the heritage of the Soviet era: while formal borders remained between the "member states", people moved just as freely as they do between the states of the US or the countries of the EU. If the USA would fracture into independent states overnight, lots of Texasmen or Californians would find themselves on the wrong side of the border. Sure, fixing it with war isn't the most humane (or even smart) thing to do and I do not support Putin's actions in the Crimea. But I equally don't support the government of Ukraine who ignore the wishes of the local population. This problem should be solved by negotiations and public votes, like the Scott-English problem and the UK-EU problem were. But painting Russia as a danger to world peace because of it is crazy. They don't have any ideology that would fuel the people to endure a long-lasting convention war or a nuclear exchange.

The same is true for China. I've yet to see a serious ideological work from anyone in power there. They are led by technorats-bureaucrats and only want nearby seas for their oil and I see no less or more "right" for them to take it than any other country around. The only ones who believe in something bigger than their group are the Islamists and the liberal democracy exporters. They are the danger to world peace.

27 comments:

Provi Miner said...

hmm interesting. However I think you are miscalculating one social movement its called friendship. Lets say trump wins, china hears his "we stay at home" speech. Now you admitted china is run by greedy frackers. So they see this as their once in a generation chance to bring Taiwan and all that money into the fold. Now Trump can say whatever the hades he wants to but the American people won't let him not defend Taiwan. don't get me wrong if Laos suddenly discovered world class reserves of gold and china invaded I doubt we do much to help but that's because they are not "friends". No matter how bad americans view foreign intervention we do see protecting our friends as something worthwhile. Now friends is kind of nebulus. Finland is a friend but are they that good that we would fight Russia over it? I doubt it unless Europe commited and called on nato then yes. Remember after WWII Russia attempted to take Greece while the US never commited full effort we certainly did help.

Rohan said...

Nationalism is itself an ideology. "For the greater glory of Mother Russia" is a reason for people to sacrifice. Before WWII, it was the dominant ideology. I'm pretty sure Napoleon's troops had no great ideals to spread, other than the vision of a French empire.

Gevlon said...

@Provi Miner: if you look at Hong Kong, you see that Chinese rule wouldn't be so bad for Taiwan. China already realized that the most valuable resource of a land is its people, who can't be claimed with a war. So the capture of Taiwan wouldn't happen in a bloody war. After cutting a deal - which includes no all out invasion - Trump pulls out the US troops from Taiwan saving lot of taxpayer money and the Taiwan government would see their situation and accept a Hong Kong type autonomy within China. Selfish bastards don't go to war because that's negative sum on resources.

Greece voted for extreme left last election and voted for rejecting the IMF plan (the government did not follow this vote because they chickened out). "The West" is so unpopular after years of mismanagement of the economic crisis that I have no doubt that if Russia would invade Greece, the only resistance they'd get is too many flowers and hugs and kisses slowing them down.

Which is kind of the point. Putin can only go where he is welcomed by the local population because he don't have an ideology that would make Russians commit into a real war where the someone really fights back.



Anonymous said...

"So Putin is no danger to the World peace, because if he tried to be one, he would simply lose the next election."

After 2018, the next election could be up to 6 years out...Putin does not care about any election past this one, unless he changes the rules again. The next one is 2018....last time he was approaching his final term, he hopped on the merry-go-round with Medvedev and the presidential term was increased to 6 years, if he doesnt do that again, 2018-2024 is his last presidency.

Gevlon said...

@Rohan: Napoleon's troops lived 300 years ago. Back then obedience to the leader was just as obvious as breathing. Today everywhere (maybe not in North Korea) people individualized, no longer see themselves as pawns who must die because some top dog told them. Russians aren't different (nor Americans or anyone else). While "the Glory of Mother Russia" might worth them a few shouts in the pub, they definitely wouldn't die for it. Also, in the age of social media it's hard to make "glory". People see with their own eyes the brutality of war. I doubt any Russian thinks of "glory" seeing the ruins of Syria.

@Anon: elections aren't the only thing he must care of. If people get upset with him and start to protest en masse, he is screwed. He was almost screwed in 2011 and I'm sure he remembers it. And don't say "he could make military dictatorship" because why would the soldiers shoot their own nation for a guy they don't like anymore. The soldiers belong to the same nation, think what the other Russians think. Dictatorship only works if the people are content with it or if the enforcing group is separate from the enforced (Hutu soldiers killing Tutsis, Alavite soldiers enslaving Sunnis for Assad). Putin must always mind his popularity and can't do anything that would anger his people.

Naice Rucima said...

Putin would lose elections ? We're talking about the guy that had political opponents murdered in the street ? The guy that circumvents democracy by installing his puppet as president so he can be vice-president ? Putin is an elected dictator, but a dictator nonetheless, and he is a panrussian nationalist which makes him extremely dangerous. He's no Hitler, but that doesn't mean he's harmless.

Gevlon said...

As long as he is elected, he is democratic. The people had the chance to not vote for Medvedev and then Putin couldn't be his prime minister. People won't vote for him if they are hungry or their family members died in some pointless war.

I don't see why panrussian nationalism is extremely dangerous. It can only cause local conflicts with other pannationalists like Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine and Gruzia. Which is
- not my problem
- not USA's problem either
- can be handled by the weaker country by not being pannationalist. If Ukrainen nationalists wouldn't try to keep the Crimea despite only a few % of the local population is Ukrainen and around 10% are Tatars (who are neither Russian, nor Ukrainen) the problem wouldn't exist.

Before you'd ask: if parts of Hungary would be disloyal to Hungary and wanted to join other countries, I wouldn't mind them leaving.

Anonymous said...

I wonder, how do you think about Turkey and the changes there?

Anonymous said...

The funny thing about that Quote about GB and czech is that it was GB who vehemently refused peace throughout the war :)

Gevlon said...

I'm much more worried about Turkey than about Russia. Shooting down that Russian plane and tolerating IS resupplying from Turkey shown that the leadership is ready to do crazy stuff. They clearly have population support.

They are blamed to be Islamist which is true to some extent. How much is "some" will be very important. Now that Erdogan can gain complete control over the army and the secret agencies he'll no longer have any checks and balances besides the people themselves. And the people in Muslim majority countries are usually not the best policymakers.

So I would much rather live in Ukraine, Latvia, Gruzija or Belorussia than in Greece, Jordan or Iran.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think, Russia could only have conflicts with Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine and Gruzia? Russia "held" all of eastern Europe, including Hungary. Foreign politics is not about was is possible today, but about what could be possible tmorrow. A break up of the EU, a right wing government in France, a civil war in Spain and "all goes" in central Europe. And that would be a very real problem for the US if China want's to secure exclusive access to the oil fields around south east asia and so on.

Russian nationalist also might look for a revenge just like German nationalist did. One or two early succesfull interventions and those nationalist might wan't to punnish and show off, like the hooligans in France did. I'm still waiting for an apology from Kremlin. But no: "How can you blame man to be man".

Also I'm suprised that you sympathise with Russian "morons and slackers", having a go at the more succesfull, "arrogant" western countries. Or in terms of your Utopia, the people of the lesser economic zones have a go at the "arogant" and "dicating", "smart ass" people of the better economic zones. Because how else would they feel?

Anonymous said...

As long as he is elected, he is democratic.
does this make it alright? many horrible people where elected in a democratic way. the next US president will be horrible. In this case it doesn't even matter who gets elected, clinton or trump are just bad.
Talking about ideologies and desperation. the outcry of the word "democracy" witch projected virtues and values are not at all within the scope of its definition. Technically all the democracies seem to be one. But what about the loopholes? A election in the end is nothing more than a huge psychological operation to influence the masses towards a wanted outcome.
For example; Putin was no-one just the "kgb/fsb man" nothing more .. until the second chechwar initiated with the russian apartment bombings in fall '99 (reports are very bad like the 9/11 investigation, but no one dares to ask. so yet another falseflag operation). with the bombings and 2CW putin got the public coverage and was "worthy as president" in the public eye. They pulled this of within august till december '99.
What is a vote worth if the individual is played and influenced and to dumb to counter or too afraid to counter. worse; falseflag operations, false info and not thorough investigations make it much more difficult for individuals to make up their mind. On top of that only a few live a sceptical approach, meaning to disprove a hypothesis as to confirm a hypothesis (confirmation bias). Obviously to ask questions or stand on neutral sceptical ground is not encouraged by the lead at all. people get imprisoned or die and no one wants that so people choose the path of least resistance making the bad decision for the long run. The conditioning starts in kindergarden throughout school, if you ask you will be burned.


I'm much more worried about Turkey than about Russia.
Indeed I'm also more worried about turkey. Erdogan is a democratic elected leader, who somehow verymuch profits from missfortune like the last military coup operation. No one dares to poke or actually likes it.

Gevlon said...

Russia never held Eastern Europe. The communists did. The rule was upheld by local (Hungarian, Romanian, Polish, East German ... ) communists and not Russians. While there was Soviet military presence (most of them weren't even Russians), this wasn't bigger than the US presence in the NATO countries.

Communism is an ideology that motivate the people to "liberate" more workers. Russia isn't communist.

maxim said...

@Gevlon
A popular opinion exists (especially among Polish) that russians can't help but invent world-bending ideologies. Which makes Russia a permanent threat as long as it exists.
I don't necessarily disagree, by the way. It is just that our current ideology is rather mainstream pro-bourjois traditionalist westernism circe mid-XX century, so it doesn't stand out the way Soviet ideology did.

Another thing that needs to be kept in mind is that there is a sort of double standart going on. NATO is doing whatever it wants and asserting its interests, but it is mostly painted as the right and correct thing to do. However, anyone else in the world doing the same is called aggressive and a threat.

The ideology fueling this is, of course, American exceptionalism.
Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi etc.

maxim said...

China does very much have an ideology. However, their ideology boils down to "if everyone just does good business and behaves properly, Dao will take care of the rest"

Gevlon said...

@anon: being democratic means that the people can fire him without a coup. That means he can't do bad things without the people agreeing. "People agreeing big bad" = ideology.

No amount of conditioning and media control helps if people are hungry and have dead relatives. You can only get away with that if the people believe that it's for the good cause.

@maxim: your "Chinese ideology" is more like common sense. It doesn't tell anyone to go and kill someone like any "decent" ideology would.

Yes, since Marx, Engels, Herder and Hitler were all Russians, that claim makes sense. Oh wait!

The American exceptionalism met with reality and it hit them hard. In the last 2 decades they lost every single war they marched into. I don't think that anyone (except Hillary) would question that logic and politology laws apply to America just as much as to everyone else.

Anonymous said...

@gevlon
I don't see why panrussian nationalism is extremely dangerous. It can only cause local conflicts with other pannationalists like Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine and Gruzia. Which is


How to take peacefully over a country. First relocate people with your nationality to border countries. It helps if you force them to go there and/or relocate existing population away somewhere distant place. Next wait 2-3 generations and claim that country or part of it is yours by nationality. You must show that people there suffer and they have better life in your govnerment. If your country is advanced and has many benefits to average Joe, then its easy to explain. If your country is medicore or poor, you need to make invading country worse. Cut out trade, finance corrupt politicans to be on top, so they can steal wealth and finance the corruption system there etc. After a while, if lot of natioanl GDP is stolen in invading country, it will weaken and see your glorios country as a better alternative. Reason to invade. Ukraine is a example. All neighbors of russia have more or less same issues and have constant pressure from Kreml to show how bad they are.

Anonymous said...

@gevlon
>I doubt any Russian thinks of "glory" seeing the ruins of Syria.
Now you're not even trying. Have you already forgotten the "PEARL HARBOR!" response to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake? Between this and all the posts about "problematic" and "toxic" people in games, you've become extremely left-wing in an extremely short time.

Gevlon said...

Yes. Putin time traveled to the XIX century and relocated Russians to the border countries. The bastard!

Anonymous said...

"So Putin is no danger to the World peace, because if he tried to be one, he would simply lose the next election."

But how Russian public would know who really started the war? Russian medias would report that NATO attacked them first. Or that Estonian nationalists are slaughtering ethnic Russians in thousands, USA is behind all this and Russia can't just sit and watch.

Provi Miner said...

Gev, you nailed it except for um one small tiny part: HK knew they were being taken over (it was still a close run thing as I recall) it was only the most outrageous promises by china that forestalled the UK from reneging and from HK from not declaring itself independent. So that was the deal that sealed HK, only china can't do that deal again with Taiwan.... why you might ask after all it worked in HK... Well you see gobs part of that "great deal" was certain policy promises, things like self determination, democratic elections at the local level, minimal interference, different government basically. Um how did that work out for HK (not china)? Oh you mean that china basically bailed on every single promise to HK across the board... Nooo but greedy people don't break their word.... ok sarcasm aside. So china goes t tiawan and says "hey we got a great deal" Taiwan looks over at HK and says "go suck it brother" and we come back to the same point.

Gevlon said...

@Anon: because Russians only watch government controlled media and don't have internet.

maxim said...

@Gevlon
So not an ideology if not murderous.
That's an awfully convenient definition

Chinese start off with common-sense business-only approach. Once the target is hooked, they then proceed with cultural assimilation

Plenty of people in power backing Hillary. Also plenty of basic americans like their exceptionalism

Gevlon said...

@maxim: "I eat when I'm hungry" isn't an ideology. "I don't eat despite I'm hungry because my religion says so" is an ideology. So yes, ideology is something that demands people to act against common sense and against their well-being. "not an ideology if not murderous" is pretty much the point.

Alkarasu said...

@anon "Why do you think, Russia could only have conflicts with Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine and Gruzia?"
Well, as one living in Russia and seeing it all from the inside, I might question the possibility of even those conflicts. In fact, Baltic countries rhetoric about evil Russia dreaming about invading them is considered a joke that gets a bit old around here. They use it to give themselves worth they don't have, make it seem that at least someone might want to have them.

Gevlon said...

@Alkarasu: questioning the possibility of conflict with Ukraine and Gruzia is funny.

About Latvia and Estonia, I most fear that the Latvian and Estonian right-wing extremists commit violence against the local Russian minority triggering a violent response from the extremists of the Russian minority. I doubt if Russia can remain silent when ethnic Russians are regularly attacked on TV.

Alkarasu said...

@Gevlon It's not that funny if you count all the variables. For Ukraine it's quite simple - while the eastern part of it is at war with the western part (and that can last for a long time since no side in that conflict is capable of winning), Ukraine has enough to deal with to attack Russia (and Russia has no reason to attack Ukraine, the only part of it that was remotely interesting is already de-facto Russian). With Gruzia it's along the same lines - there's no reason for Russia to attack, and Gruzia itself very well remembers the last time they've attempted to be aggressive and the results of it. They might say unfriendly stuff, but the conflict? Highly unlikely, both sides have nothing to gain and everything to lose.

And don't be afraid, while Russia might not remain silent if something like that happens, it's also very good at being vocal and doing nothing if the actions are not beneficial in some way. The Baltic states are an excellent example of that, since the ethnic Russian minority there is being picked on for the last 25 years, and there's a whole lot of nothing Russia has done about it.