Friday, July 3, 2015

America’s politicians take courageous, bipartisan stand against peas in guacamole. Note for a lecture, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United"

An outrageous proposition was lodged Wednesday: Put peas in guacamole, exhorted the New York Times.
Nope. That's how you feel, right? It's a very easy position to take, if you ask me, and it's one your elected representatives and political parties -- Democrats and Republicans -- are only so happy to adopt as their own. No poll-testing needed here.
Yes, a bunch of politicians and parties gave their takes on something as dumb as ruining perfectly good guacamole with the addition of peas. It's like the blue-or-white-dress question of foods.
Here's a recap of their positions, because this is important.
President Barack Obama: NOPE. 
Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush: NOPE (a position he stated last month and reiterated today
California Democratic Rep. Tony Cárdenas: NOPE. Texas Republican Party: NOPE. 
Dang, people are passionate about guac. It seems this green mush of the gods, as I have predicted in the past, could very well unite this nation.
Elahe Izadi is a general assignment national reporter for The Washington Post.

Минюст РФ призвал россиян «сигналить» о «нежелательных» НКО

[JB note: Lovers of Russian bureaucratic language may wish to look at the highlighted passage below.]

Минюст РФ призвал россиян «сигналить» о «нежелательных» НКО
В Минюсте России призвали граждан страны поучаствовать в выявлении «нежелательных» некоммерческих организаций. Об этом сегодня на совещании в Совете Федерации заявил первый заместитель министра юстиции Сергей Герасимов, передает РИА «Новости». «Для того, чтобы все ведомства, которые занимаются этим вопросом, могли достаточно динамично и эффективно использовать свои полномочия, здесь роль гражданского общества, роль парламентариев, роль общественной палаты и общества в целом, на мой взгляд, может быть весьма важной», – сказал он.

По словам Герасимова, именно гражданское общество может давать сигналы ведомствам, которые работают в этом направлении, и осуществлять мониторинг их деятельности.

Замруководителя Росфинмониторинга Павел Ливадный, комментируя ситуацию с западным финансированием неправительственных организаций, отметил, что «95% средств выделяется на НКО-иностранных агентов, ведущих политическую деятельность». При этом, по его словам, в последнее время наблюдается консолидация средств у крупных организаций.

Напомним, ранее сенатор Совфеда, глава комитета по международным делам Константин Косачев предложил создать в России патриотический «стоп-лист» зарубежных неправительственных организаций. Парламентарий был встревожен тем, что зарубежные НКО продолжают вмешиваться во внутрироссийскую политику. Именно для них и нужен такой «черный список». По его мнению, Запад не гнушается использовать любые средства, в том числе раскручивание темы прав и свобод человека в России, чтобы поднять людей на борьбу со своим государством. Среди «миссионеров» этой деятельности Косачев назвал «Фонд Сороса», Национальный фонд поддержки демократии и другие организации, чье финансирование выросло с 37 млрд рублей в 2013 году до 70 млрд рублей в 2014 году.

Спикер Совфеда Валентина Матвиенко, реагируя на просьбу Косачева, дала протокольное поручение профильным комитетам подготовить обращение в МИД, Минюст и генпрокуратуру РФ. Документ предполагается принять на следующем заседании Совфеда 8 июля.

При этом сенатор не уточнил, что будет означать для организаций попадание в данный «патриотический» список. Отметим, в настоящее время в России действует закон об «иностранных агентах», обязывающий организации, получающие финансирование из-за рубежа, регистрироваться в Минюсте в качестве «агентов».

Кроме того, недавно вступил в силу закон, который позволяет присваивать иностранным и международным неправительственным организациям статус «нежелательных». На основании этого закона генпрокурор или его заместители по согласованию с МИД РФ могут признать организацию нежелательной. Таким организациям будет запрещено работать в РФ, их структурные подразделения будут закрыты, а распространение информационных материалов запрещено. Перечень подобных организаций будет вести и публиковать Минюст России.

Conservative Southern Values Revived: How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America: Note for a lecture, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United"

Sara Robinson, June 28, 2012

image from

It's been said that the rich are different than you and me. What most Americans don't know is that they're also quite different from each other, and that which faction is currently running the show ultimately makes a vast difference in the kind of country we are.
Right now, a lot of our problems stem directly from the fact that the wrong sort has finally gotten the upper hand; a particularly brutal and anti-democratic strain of American aristocrat that the other elites have mostly managed to keep away from the levers of power since the Revolution. Worse: this bunch has set a very ugly tone that's corrupted how people with power and money behave in every corner of our culture. Here's what happened, and how it happened, and what it means for America now.
North versus South: Two Definitions of Liberty
Michael Lind first called out the existence of this conflict in his 2006 book, Made In Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics. He argued that much of American history has been characterized by a struggle between two historical factions among the American elite -- and that the election of George W. Bush was a definitive sign that the wrong side was winning.
For most of our history, American economics, culture and politics have been dominated by a New England-based Yankee aristocracy that was rooted in Puritan communitarian values, educated at the Ivies and marinated in an ethic of noblesse oblige (the conviction that those who possess wealth and power are morally bound to use it for the betterment of society). While they've done their share of damage to the notion of democracy in the name of profit (as all financial elites inevitably do), this group has, for the most part, tempered its predatory instincts with a code that valued mass education and human rights; held up public service as both a duty and an honor; and imbued them with the belief that once you made your nut, you had a moral duty to do something positive with it for the betterment of mankind. Your own legacy depended on this.
Among the presidents, this strain gave us both Roosevelts, Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy, and Poppy Bush -- nerdy, wonky intellectuals who, for all their faults, at least took the business of good government seriously. Among financial elites, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet still both partake strongly of this traditional view of wealth as power to be used for good. Even if we don't like their specific choices, the core impulse to improve the world is a good one -- and one that's been conspicuously absent in other aristocratic cultures.
Which brings us to that other great historical American nobility -- the plantation aristocracy of the lowland South, which has been notable throughout its 400-year history for its utter lack of civic interest, its hostility to the very ideas of democracy and human rights, its love of hierarchy, its fear of technology and progress, its reliance on brutality and violence to maintain “order,” and its outright celebration of inequality as an order divinely ordained by God.
As described by Colin Woodard in American Nations: The Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, the elites of the Deep South are descended mainly from the owners of sugar, rum and cotton plantations from Barbados -- the younger sons of the British nobility who'd farmed up the Caribbean islands, and then came ashore to the southern coasts seeking more land. Woodward described the culture they created in the crescent stretching from Charleston, SC around to New Orleans this way:
It was a near-carbon copy of the West Indian slave state these Barbadians had left behind, a place notorious even then for its inhumanity....From the outset, Deep Southern culture was based on radical disparities in wealth and power, with a tiny elite commanding total obedience and enforcing it with state-sponsored terror. Its expansionist ambitions would put it on a collision course with its Yankee rivals, triggering military, social, and political conflicts that continue to plague the United States to this day.
David Hackett Fischer, whose Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways In America informs both Lind's and Woodard's work, described just how deeply undemocratic the Southern aristocracy was, and still is. He documents how these elites have always feared and opposed universal literacy, public schools and libraries, and a free press. (Lind adds that they have historically been profoundly anti-technology as well, far preferring solutions that involve finding more serfs and throwing them at a problem whenever possible. Why buy a bulldozer when 150 convicts on a chain gang can grade your road instead?) Unlike the Puritan elites, who wore their wealth modestly and dedicated themselves to the common good, Southern elites sank their money into ostentatious homes and clothing and the pursuit of pleasure -- including lavish parties, games of fortune, predatory sexual conquests, and blood sports involving ritualized animal abuse spectacles.
But perhaps the most destructive piece of the Southern elites' worldview is the extremely anti-democratic way it defined the very idea of liberty. In Yankee Puritan culture, both liberty and authority resided mostly with the community, and not so much with individuals. Communities had both the freedom and the duty to govern themselves as they wished (through town meetings and so on), to invest in their collective good, and to favor or punish individuals whose behavior enhanced or threatened the whole (historically, through community rewards such as elevation to positions of public authority and trust; or community punishments like shaming, shunning or banishing).
Individuals were expected to balance their personal needs and desires against the greater good of the collective -- and, occasionally, to make sacrifices for the betterment of everyone. (This is why the Puritan wealthy tended to dutifully pay their taxes, tithe in their churches and donate generously to create hospitals, parks and universities.) In return, the community had a solemn and inescapable moral duty to care for its sick, educate its young and provide for its needy -- the kind of support that maximizes each person's liberty to live in dignity and achieve his or her potential. A Yankee community that failed to provide such support brought shame upon itself. To this day, our progressive politics are deeply informed by this Puritan view of ordered liberty.
In the old South, on the other hand, the degree of liberty you enjoyed was a direct function of your God-given place in the social hierarchy. The higher your status, the more authority you had, and the more "liberty" you could exercise -- which meant, in practical terms, that you had the right to take more "liberties" with the lives, rights and property of other people. Like an English lord unfettered from the Magna Carta, nobody had the authority to tell a Southern gentleman what to do with resources under his control. In this model, that's what liberty is. If you don't have the freedom to rape, beat, torture, kill, enslave, or exploit your underlings (including your wife and children) with impunity -- or abuse the land, or enforce rules on others that you will never have to answer to yourself -- then you can't really call yourself a free man. 
When a Southern conservative talks about "losing his liberty," the loss of this absolute domination over the people and property under his control -- and, worse, the loss of status and the resulting risk of being held accountable for laws that he was once exempt from -- is what he's really talking about. In this view, freedom is a zero-sum game. Anything that gives more freedom and rights to lower-status people can't help but put serious limits on the freedom of the upper classes to use those people as they please. It cannot be any other way. So they find Yankee-style rights expansions absolutely intolerable, to the point where they're willing to fight and die to preserve their divine right to rule.
Once we understand the two different definitions of "liberty" at work here, a lot of other things suddenly make much more sense. We can understand the traditional Southern antipathy to education, progress, public investment, unionization, equal opportunity, and civil rights. The fervent belief among these elites that they should completely escape any legal or social accountability for any harm they cause. Their obsessive attention to where they fall in the status hierarchies. And, most of all -- the unremitting and unapologetic brutality with which they've defended these "liberties" across the length of their history.
When Southerners quote Patrick Henry -- "Give me liberty or give me death" -- what they're really demanding is the unquestioned, unrestrained right to turn their fellow citizens into supplicants and subjects. The Yankee elites have always known this -- and feared what would happen if that kind of aristocracy took control of the country. And that tension between these two very different views of what it means to be "elite" has inflected our history for over 400 years.
The Battle Between the Elites
Since shortly after the Revolution, the Yankee elites have worked hard to keep the upper hand on America's culture, economy and politics -- and much of our success as a nation rests on their success at keeping plantation culture sequestered in the South, and its scions largely away from the levers of power. If we have to have an elite -- and there's never been a society as complex as ours that didn't have some kind of upper class maintaining social order -- we're far better off in the hands of one that's essentially meritocratic, civic-minded and generally believes that it will do better when everybody else does better, too.
The Civil War was, at its core, a military battle between these two elites for the soul of the country. It pitted the more communalist, democratic and industrialized Northern vision of the American future against the hierarchical, aristocratic, agrarian Southern one. Though the Union won the war, the fundamental conflict at its root still hasn't been resolved to this day. (The current conservative culture war is the Civil War still being re-fought by other means.) After the war, the rise of Northern industrialists and the dominance of Northern universities and media ensured that subsequent generations of the American power elite continued to subscribe to the Northern worldview -- even when the individual leaders came from other parts of the country.
Ironically, though: it was that old Yankee commitment to national betterment that ultimately gave the Southern aristocracy its big chance to break out and go national. According to Lind, it was easy for the Northeast to hold onto cultural, political and economic power as long as all the country's major banks, businesses, universities, and industries were headquartered there. But the New Deal -- and, especially, the post-war interstate highways, dams, power grids, and other infrastructure investments that gave rise to the Sun Belt -- fatally loosened the Yankees' stranglehold on national power. The gleaming new cities of the South and West shifted the American population centers westward, unleashing new political and economic forces with real power to challenge the Yankee consensus. And because a vast number of these westward migrants came out of the South, the elites that rose along with these cities tended to hew to the old Southern code, and either tacitly or openly resist the moral imperatives of the Yankee canon. The soaring postwar fortunes of cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta fed that ancient Barbadian slaveholder model of power with plenty of room and resources to launch a fresh and unexpected 20th-century revival.
According to historian Darren Dochuk, the author of From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism, these post-war Southerners and Westerners drew their power from the new wealth provided by the defense, energy, real estate, and other economic booms in their regions. They also had a profound evangelical conviction, brought with them out of the South, that God wanted them to take America back from the Yankee liberals -- a conviction that expressed itself simultaneously in both the formation of the vast post-war evangelical churches (which were major disseminators of Southern culture around the country); and in their takeover of the GOP, starting with Barry Goldwater's campaign in 1964 and culminating with Ronald Reagan's election in 1980.
They countered Yankee hegemony by building their own universities, grooming their own leaders and creating their own media. By the 1990s, they were staging the RINO hunts that drove the last Republican moderates (almost all of them Yankees, by either geography or cultural background) and the meritocratic order they represented to total extinction within the GOP. A decade later, the Tea Party became the voice of the unleashed id of the old Southern order, bringing it forward into the 21st century with its full measure of selfishness, racism, superstition, and brutality intact.
Plantation America 
From its origins in the fever swamps of the lowland south, the worldview of the old Southern aristocracy can now be found nationwide. Buttressed by the arguments of Ayn Rand -- who updated the ancient slaveholder ethic for the modern age -- it has been exported to every corner of the culture, infected most of our other elite communities and killed off all but the very last vestiges of noblesse oblige.
It's not an overstatement to say that we're now living in Plantation America. As Lind points out: to the horror of his Yankee father, George W. Bush proceeded to run the country exactly like Woodard's description of a Barbadian slavelord. And Barack Obama has done almost nothing to roll this victory back. We're now living in an America where rampant inequality is accepted, and even celebrated.
Torture and extrajudicial killing have been reinstated, with no due process required.
The wealthy and powerful are free to abuse employees, break laws, destroy the commons, and crash the economy -- without ever being held to account.
The rich flaunt their ostentatious wealth without even the pretense of humility, modesty, generosity, or gratitude. 
The military -- always a Southern-dominated institution -- sucks down 60% of our federal discretionary spending, and is undergoing a rapid evangelical takeover as well.
Our police are being given paramilitary training and powers that are completely out of line with their duty to serve and protect, but much more in keeping with a mission to subdue and suppress. Even liberal cities like Seattle are now home to the kind of local justice that used to be the hallmark of small-town Alabama sheriffs.
Segregation is increasing everywhere. The rights of women and people of color are under assault. Violence against leaders who agitate for progressive change is up. Racist organizations are undergoing a renaissance nationwide.
We are withdrawing government investments in public education, libraries, infrastructure, health care, and technological innovation -- in many areas, to the point where we are falling behind the standards that prevail in every other developed country.
Elites who dare to argue for increased investment in the common good, and believe that we should lay the groundwork for a better future, are regarded as not just silly and soft-headed, but also inviting underclass revolt. The Yankees thought that government's job was to better the lot of the lower classes. The Southern aristocrats know that its real purpose is to deprive them of all possible means of rising up against their betters. 
The rich are different now because the elites who spent four centuries sucking the South dry and turning it into an economic and political backwater have now vanquished the more forward-thinking, democratic Northern elites. Their attitudes towards freedom, authority, community, government, and the social contract aren't just confined to the country clubs of the Gulf Coast; they can now be found on the ground from Hollywood and Silicon Valley to Wall Street. And because of that quiet coup, the entire US is now turning into the global equivalent of a Deep South state. 
As long as America runs according to the rules of Southern politics, economics and culture, we're no longer free citizens exercising our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as we've always understood them. Instead, we're being treated like serfs on Massa's plantation -- and increasingly, we're being granted our liberties only at Massa's pleasure. Welcome to Plantation America. 

There's no reason to debate guacamole. It's already gentrified beyond good taste - Note for a lecture, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United"

Jeff Winkler

In Texas, we have real debates about real issues – like barbecue. Guacamole is just corporate-approved bourgeois mush these days

Bowl of guacamole and chips, close-up
 America used to be great. So did guacamole. Photograph: Heath Robbins/Getty Images 

America was once a great nation – the greatest nation. A nation where mice and men once went to the moon. But now? Now, as our 239th birthday rolls around, we’ve devolved into nothing more than a mass of spineless, vegetarian techies – as evidenced by the mind-numbing guacamole debate.

Trouble began, as it so often does, with the New York Times, which published a small article declaring peas a great addition to guacamole. The internet whimpered as loud as possible; the debate began to “trend.” Even the president and other politicians began to meddle. I offered a moment of silence for my once great nation and then thanked the Lord, yet again, that I live in Texas.

Here, in God’s country, we have meaty debates; debates with consequences, soaked in blood and sauce. While the media elite in East Coast havens of patrician taste (or lack thereof) snipe on social media about a so-so vegan side dish, Texans have real fights over barbecue – perhaps more so when, come January, we’ll be able to walk around carrying a spare rib in one hand and a sidearm in the other. Here, we have brisket thieves and even our lesser arguments, about tacos, involve actual cannons.

Why? Because it’s our First Amendment right backed by our Second Amendment right.

But more importantly, barbecue is a debate that matters. There really is a difference between wet barbecue and dry rub and between various kinds of smoking methods; there’s also only one right one. This guacamole debate, on the other hand, is just further proof of and warning against the bourgeois simpletons attempting to ground our country into a bland mush.

Guacamole’s origins were actually auspicious, having been invented for kings by the society that understood the need for mass human sacrifices. That culture had balls, and named its greatest export, āhuacatl, after just that – “testicles”. Even later, when people started throwing around the bastardized “avocado”, the nickname was still “alligator pears”.

The recipe, essentially unchanged for more than 400 years, is five basic ingredients. And yes, while everyone has their own little twist, a personal guacamole recipe is like one’s sexual proclivities: unique, enjoyable perhaps, but never discussed in public. These citified folk, however living with their loose morals, their public brands and hectic metropolitan hashtag-lives betray the quiet simplicity that once was guacamole.

Guacamole’s initial genius (its simplicity) is also, ironically, the reason for its destruction by the meddling class: they can’t just leave good enough alone. Blame the Spanish – the original gentrifiers – for kick starting guacamole’s emasculating decline. Like Cinco de Mayo, Guacamole was long ago appropriated by white people and its gentrified form abandoned in disgust by its originators. In all my three years in Texas, I’ve seen as many Latinos eating guacamole as I’ve seen Latinos on Twitter whimpering about guacamole, which is to say none.

The evidence of guacamole’s demise is all around, and the trouble, the gentrification, most likely began by officially christening the sixteenth of September as “Guacamole Day”. Only bored gringos (northern Yankees, most likely) and carpetbagging advocacy groups come up with such ideas.

Further damage was done to guacamole by the creation of the health food industrial complex, the shadowy cabal that proclaimed meat bad and organic products de rigueur. Then came the “hip” abbreviation, “guac” – stop saying it. It sounds fowl, like a sick duck gagging, and is no doubt propaganda from the health food industrial complex, whose previous efforts at rebranding vegetable mush as “veggie patties” still haunts middle America.

Those of us with a sense of national pride and a respect for a country founded on beef being what’s for dinner weeped as America’s hamburger joints were deposed and places like Chipotle became the healthy option of choice. It’s there, where the intelligentsia declared their fast food loyalty, that guacamole really became commodified and meaningless. No longer was it a simple and quick addition to a Super Bowl party. Instead, it was turned into a coveted “free extra scoop”, slopped on an already heaping pile of tasteless, organic foodstuffs.

The guacamole’s decline – from simple and tasteful with a respectful past, to overwrought, bland and meaningless – mirrors that of our own society. That both President Obama and the Texas GOP agree on the peas-in-guacamole debate means there is no serious debate to be had. It is merely a ruse, ginned up by health-conscious elite on social media, meant to distract from the important issues, like: When will America be great again?

We will be great again when we can return to simpler, more traditional times, when we declare our independence from the trending whims of the ruling elites. We will be great again when we can have a meaningful debate about the best kind of bacon.


via AH on Facebook


What explains the resurgence in Siberian regionalism in recent years, and what implications does it have for Putin’s Russia?

image from

[JB Comment: Scotland, Catalonia, Ukraine, Siberia -- all part of a "local," reaction to an (overly, all too suddenly, globalized world?). Allow me to speculate on this: Separatism will be China's no. 1 problem in our new century, not that I have a crystal ball. As for the USA, too early to tell ...]

“I’m Siberian.” This simple but loud slogan has been emblazoned on merchandise from iPhone cases to T-shirts since 2012, as part of a branding campaign aimed at changing global perceptions of this huge chunk of Russian tundra. The “I’m Siberian” brand encapsulates a growing sense of pride and self-identity among Siberian youth, but where has this sentiment come from, and what does it mean for Russia?
Siberia has historically been a byword for remoteness and unforgiving cold. Scottish explorer John Cochrane wrote in 1824 that “there is so little of interest in Siberia, so little to be seen, that it is hardly possible to form an interesting work on the topic.” Covering a vast area of over 13 million square kilometers — 77 percent of Russia’s total land mass — Siberia is inhabited by 40 million people, which equates to just 3 inhabitants per square kilometer, making it one of the most sparsely populated areas in the world.
In recent years, this icy expanse has seen political activism and regionalism ignited, as Stanislav Zakharkin, a Russian sociologist, writes in Eurozine. Yet Siberian nationalism is not a new phenomenon. In the nineteenth century, an argument evolved among Siberian intellectuals that the region had effectively been colonized by Russia. Having been tossed aside as a penal colony for centuries, Siberia’s economic concerns, long neglected by those in power in Russia’s far west, seem to have been paramount to the people who lived there.
According to influential works at the time, such as Nikolai Yadrintsev’s 1892 book Siberia as a Colony, the imperial center was exploiting Siberia’s abundant natural resources through an uneven trade and revenue system. This system was enforced by a central political bureaucracy and a lack of cultural or intellectual investment in the region, all designed to submerge Siberians into the wider Russian Empire.
Following the collapse of Tsarist Russia, the region was quickly swallowed up again by the highly centralized Soviet Union. The economic inequalities in the relationship between Russia’s central government and Siberia have thus never been resolved. In 2012, the Siberian region of Tomsk delivered 130 billion roubles in tax revenues to Moscow, and received just 10.3 billion roubles back in investment; to meet its financial needs and obligations, the region was forced to resort to loans from commercial banks.
The grievances of the Siberian people may have been historically suppressed, but they have never gone away and now rise anew under Vladimir Putin’s ever-more-centralized regime. Under Putin, Russian executive powers have been hugely increased at the expense of local autonomy, with reforms from 2004 onwards-giving the central government significant influence over the selection of regional governors. This system of “vertical power” has meant that, according to Zakharkin, “Russian governors have finally turned into the mouthpieces of federal policy,” and it is this erosion of local power that has inflamed Siberian hostility to Moscow. A separatist rally was held in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk in 2011, with demonstrators chanting the slogan “stop feeding Moscow!” At a press conference, Rostislav Antonov, the protest’s key organizer, complained that Siberia “is the main source of wealth for Russia, and yet it does not have enough money for basic necessities.”
This growing hostility to Moscow has contributed to a resurgence of regional pride across Siberia, as demonstrated in the popularity of the “I’m Siberian” brand among Siberia’s younger generations. Beyond this commercial manifestation, Siberia’s insistent pride has blossomed in the region’s art scene. In 2013, a popular art exhibition titled the “United States of Siberia” was one realization of a Siberian artistic renaissance led by Anna Tereshkova and the Siberian Centre of Contemporary Art. The centre and its various exhibitions have been denounced by many local MPs and conservative organizations — all eager to show allegiance to Putin — as offensive to Russian patriotism in its celebration of local culture.
Last year, the gulf between the growth of Siberian pride and the conservative federal government reaction found a stark embodiment in a proposed “March for the Federalization of Siberia.” The demonstration, due to be held in Novosibirsk in August 2014, was banned by the Russian government, with a media blackoutimposed and several organizers arrested. Putin’s harsh response implies a degree of fear that the federalist movement is in danger of succeeding and threatening his centralizing agenda. In comments to the press in December 2014, Putin reignited the commonly held suspicion among Russian nationalists that outside powers intend to annex Siberia for themselves. “We have heard it even from high-level officials that it is unfair that the whole of Siberia, with its immense resources, belongs to Russia in its entirety,” said Putin. “Why exactly is it unfair? So it is fair to snatch Texas from Mexico, but it is unfair that we are working on our own land? No, we have to share.” Stoking anti-American sentiment and Russian patriotism arguably indicates a sense of fear of internal disharmony.
There have always been tensions between local federalists and the central government in Moscow, but the last few years have seen these tensions heat into a rolling boil. Zakharkin makes the case that the Siberian movement, at least in its present form, does not pose any immediate threat to Russian unity. He labels it “a grassroots cultural phenomenon that is gaining popularity against the background of real anti-Moscow sentiment.” However, Zakharkin notes that “activists have neither the political nor the financial leverage to influence those in power.”
It the status quo continues — and with it, the perception that the centralized government is benefiting from an unequal and exploitative economic and political system — Moscow could face a real problem in the coming years.
The Source: Stanislav Zakharkin, “What’s in store for the Siberian movement?”Eurozine June 11, 2015
Cover image via Alex_Po / Shutterstock

Готовится новая концепция культурной политики за рубежом

НИИ культурного и природного наследия им. Д.С. Лихачева предлагает пересмотреть объемы господдержки дней культуры и фестивалей в других странах

image from article, with caption: Экспозиция Российской национальной выставки в Париже в 2010 году.

НИИ культурного и природного наследия им. Д.С. Лихачева готовит концепцию государственной культурной политики за рубежом. По мнению специалистов, объемы бюджетной поддержки проведения фестивалей, гастролей и дней России за рубежом имеет смысл пересмотреть. Ученые отмечают, что творчество многих коллективов, представляющих иностранцам русскую культуру, зачастую «противоречит традиционным российским ценностям».

В первую очередь сотрудники института предлагают поддерживать и популяризировать памятники выдающимся соотечественникам, архивы эмигрантов, музеи русского искусства по всему миру.

— Чиновники долгое время не проявляли должного интереса к российскому культурному наследию за пределами страны. Притом что оно огромно, — говорит руководитель Института наследия Арсений Миронов. — Сейчас Министерство культуры наконец-то меняет подход — политика должна быть основана на цивилизационном подходе. Все объекты культурного наследия русского мира за рубежом — это наше наследие. И никакого значения не имеет, что эти объекты формально не принадлежат Российской Федерации, что юридически это собственность иных государств. Это наследие русской цивилизации, а значит, наследники — мы. Именно мы должны следить за тем, в каком состоянии могилы на Сен-Женевьев-де-Буа, в какой сохранности землянки, батареи и позиции защитников Шипкинского перевала, не разрушается ли памятник Ушакову на Корфу и т.д. Мы должны проводить наши выставки и фестивали, от которых мы ни в коем случае не должны отказываться, не абы где, а в местах, напрямую связанных с нашей культурой.

По заказу Министерства культуры Институт наследия готовит многотомную энциклопедию культурного наследия русской цивилизации за рубежом. Анализ богатого фактического материала, собранного в ходе подготовки этого издания, станет основой при подготовке концепции.

Среди объектов, которые уже сейчас могут и должны быть включены в информационный, образовательный и туристический оборот, специалисты называют Музей русского искусства в Миннеаполисе, кафедральный собор во имя святителя Николая в Нью-Йорке, собор Александра Невского в Париже, музей «Дача И.С. Тургенева» в Буживале, Национальный музей Библейского послания Марка Шагала в Ницце, русский кафедральный православный собор Воскресения Христова и Мемориальный музей В.В. Леонтьева в Токио, дом П.И. Чайковского на виа Сан-Леонардо во Флоренции и другие памятные места по всему миру.

Специалисты института критически относятся к нынешней культурной политике РФ за рубежом. В настоящее время, по их мнению, государственная культурная политика работает на то, чтобы бюджетные средства тратились на выезды определенных групп людей на гастроли за рубеж.

«При отборе исполнителей/коллективов/проектов, отправляемых за рубеж в рамках культурного диалога, не оценивается ценностное содержание. В результате зачастую иностранцы знакомятся с произведениями, противоречащими традиционным российским ценностям», — пишут эксперты. Кроме того, ученые из Института наследия отмечают, что «при отборе зарубежных исполнителей/коллективов/проектов, выступающих перед российской аудиторией, не оценивается ценностное содержание» их творчества.

После принятия новой концепции предполагается анализировать ценностную картину мира, проникновение смыслов и символов, связанных с восприятием России, российской культуры и истории в каждой конкретной стране. Подготовленный в Институте наследия проект Концепции государственной культурной политики за рубежом будет направлен в Министерство культуры РФ.

Член Общественного совета при Министерстве культуры и французского Центра русского языка и культуры Константин Ковалев-Случевский отметил значимость этой стратегии и предложил создать специальную комиссию, в ведении которой будут находиться памятники русской культуры за рубежом.

— Это очень хорошая инициатива, потому что последние 80 лет все плевать хотели на это дело. Проблема в том, что многие памятники культуры находятся в других юрисдикциях. Например, собор Александра Невского в Париже относится к Константинопольской церкви, а никак не к Московскому патриархату, — сказал он «Известиям». — Понятно, что целый ряд памятников, связанных в первую очередь с первой волной русской эмиграции, приходит в упадок. Дело в том, что потомки либо ассимилировались, либо вернулись обратно в Россию, а новая, так называемая четвертая, экономическая волна эмиграции никак не заинтересована в сохранении памятников. Необходимо составить список и создать специальную комиссию при Минкультуры, которая будет отслеживать состояние нашего наследия. Выкупить виллы, где жили Бунин и Горький, и организовать там музеи? А почему нет? Главное, чтобы были неравнодушные люди вроде Алишера Усманова.

Ведущий научный сотрудник Государственного Дома-музея П.И. Чайковского, доктор искусствоведения Полина Вайдман поддерживает позицию Института наследия, но считает, что важнее развивать проекты на территории России.

— Конечно, это замечательная идея, но нужно действовать с точки зрения науки и расставлять приоритеты. Если мы говорим, например, об имении «Сенар», где жил Рахманинов, то оно не имеет той значимости, которой обладает музей-усадьба в деревне Ивановка Тамбовской области. Это выдающийся памятник, но там до сих пор нет шоссейных дорог и туда трудно добираться. Главные произведения Рахманинова были созданы именно в Ивановке, — сказала Вайдман «Известиям».

Елена Полянская, заведующая музеем И.С. Тургенева в Москве, рассказала, что российские филиалы взаимодействуют с хранителями «Дачи И.С. Тургенева» в Буживале, однако поскольку музей частный, ему необходима поддержка из России.

— Если речь идет о кладбище Сент-Женевьев-де-Буа, безусловно, российская сторона оказывает финансовую поддержку. А вот что касается «Дачи И.С. Тургенева» в Буживале, то сейчас это несколько обособленный от России музей, — отметила Елена Полянская. — Насколько я знаю, он пока не получил во Франции государственный статус, хотя попытки были. Поэтому ответственность за экспонаты несут сотрудники. В этом плане важно следить и помогать этому музею на государственном уровне.

Ранее НИИ культурного и природного наследия им. Д.С. Лихачева предложил новые критерии оценки эффективности государственной культурной политики. По мнению ученых, система оценки деятельности государства в сфере культуры должна основываться не на количестве проведенных мероприятий, а на качественных критериях. Оценивать эффективность новой государственной культурной политики предлагается при помощи системы социологических опросов и статистических данных.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Selling Off Apache Holy Land: Note for a lecture, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United"

MAY 29, 2015
Lydia Millet

ABOUT an hour east of Phoenix, near a mining town called Superior,
men, women and children of the San Carlos Apache tribe have been camped
out at a place called Oak Flat for more than three months, protesting the latest
assault on their culture.

Oak Flat image from

Three hundred people, mostly Apache, marched 44 miles from tribal
headquarters to begin this occupation on Feb. 9. The camp-ground lies at the
core of an ancient Apache holy place, where coming-­of-age ceremonies,
especially for girls, have been performed for many generations, along with
traditional acorn gathering. It belongs to the public, under the multiple­-use
mandate of the Forest Service, and has had special protections since 1955,
when President Dwight D. Eisenhower decreed the area closed to mining —
which, like cattle grazing, is otherwise common in national forests — because
of its cultural and natural value. President Richard M. Nixon’s Interior
Department in 1971 renewed this ban.

Despite these protections, in December 2014, Congress promised to hand
the title for Oak Flat over to a private, Australian­-British mining concern. A
fine­-print rider trading away the Indian holy land was added at the last minute
to the must-tpass military spending bill, the National Defense Authorization
Act. By doing this, Congress has handed over a sacred Native American
site to a foreign­-owned company for what may be the first time 
in our nation’s history.

The Apache are occupying Oak Flat to protest this action —
to them, a sacrilegious and craven sell­-off of a place “where Apaches go to pray,”
in the words of the San Carlos Apache tribal chairman, Terry Rambler.
The site will doubtless be destroyed for any purpose other
 than mining; Resolution Copper Mining will hollow out
 a vast chamber that, when it caves in, will leave a two-mile-­wide, 
1,000-­foot-­deep pit. The company itself has likened the result 
of its planned mining at Oak Flat to that of a nearby meteor crater.

The land grab was sneakily anti-­democratic even by congressional
standards. For more than a decade, the parcel containing Oak Flat has been
coveted by Rio Tinto, Resolution’s parent company — which already mines on
its own private land in the surrounding area — for the high-­value ores beneath

The swap — which will trade 5,300 acres of private parcels owned by the
company to the Forest Service and give 2,400 acres including Oak Flat to
Resolution so that it can mine the land without oversight — had been
attempted multiple times by Arizona members of Congress on behalf of the
company. (Among those involved was Rick Renzi, a former Republican
representative who was sent to federal prison in February for three years for
corruption related to earlier versions of the land-­transfer deal.) It always failed
in Congress because of lack of support. But this time was different. This time,
the give-away language was slipped onto the defense bill by Senators John
McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona at the 11th hour. The tactic was successful
only because, like most last­-minute riders, it bypassed public scrutiny.
It’s worth noting that Rio Tinto affiliates have been McCain campaign
contributors, and that Mr. Flake, before he made it to Congress, was a paid
lobbyist for Rio Tinto Rössing Uranium (a huge uranium mine in Namibia).
Mr. McCain and others assert that the mining project will be a boost to the
local economy, though it’s unclear how many of the 1,400 promised jobs
would be local; a Superior­-area miners’ group, in fact, opposes the swap on the
basis that it won’t help the local people or economy. Rio Tinto, incidentally,
has been called out in the past for environmental devastation.

“Why is this place sacred?” said Wendsler Nosie Sr., a former chairman of
the San Carlos Apache, in a recent interview with Cronkite News. “No
difference to Mount Sinai. How the holy spirit came to be.” If you don’t want to
take his word for it, the archaeological record at Oak Flat contains abundant
evidence that the Apache have been here “since well before recorded history,”
according to congressional testimony by the Society for American

If Oak Flat were a Christian holy site, or for that matter Jewish or Muslim,
no senator who wished to remain in office would dare to sneak a backdoor deal
for its destruction into a spending bill — no matter what mining­ company
profits or jobs might result. But this is Indian religion. Clearly the Arizona
congressional delegation isn’t afraid of a couple of million conquered natives.
The truth is that for Mr. McCain, Mr. Flake and others who would allow
this precious public land to be destroyed, it’s not only the Indians who are
invisible. The rest of us are also ghosts, remnants of a quaint idea of

Oak Flat may still be saved, albeit with difficulty, since the bill’s language
stipulates quite simply that 60 days after the federal “environmental impact
statement” is complete, the land will belong to Resolution — in other words,
that the swap will occur no matter what the environmental study says. But,
like all laws and pieces of laws, it can be reversed by new legislative language.
The deal is an impressive new low in congressional corruption, unworthy
of our country’s ideals no matter what side of the aisle you’re on. It’s exactly
the kind of cynical maneuvering that has taught the electorate to disrespect
politicians — a disdain for government that hurts everyone. If ever there was a
time for Congress to prove its moral mettle to the public, this is that time. The
rider should be repealed.

Lydia Millet is the author, most recently, of the novel “Mermaids
in Paradise,” and a contributing opinion writer.