Orlov is one of our favorite essayists on Russia and all sorts of other things. He moved to the US as a child, and lives in the Boston area.
He is one of the better-known thinkers The New Yorker has dubbed ‘The Dystopians’ in an excellent 2009 profile, along with James Howard Kunstler, another regular contributor to RI (archive). These theorists believe that modern society is headed for a jarring and painful crack-up.
He is best known for his 2011 book comparing Soviet and American collapse (he thinks America’s will be worse). He is a prolific author on a wide array of subjects, and you can see his work by searching him on Amazon.
He has a large following on the web, and on Patreon, and we urge you to support him there, as Russia Insider does.
His current project is organizing the production of affordable house boats for living on. He lives on a boat himself.
If you haven’t discovered his work yet, please take a look at his archive of articles on RI. They are a real treasure, full of invaluable insight into both the US and Russia and how they are related.
Around the world, very few people are capable of wrapping their heads around the European reaction to the migrant crisis. On the side of the migrants, we have avid displays of barbarism, fanaticism and aggression; on the side of the Europeans, we have abject fear of appearing… intolerant.
In an out-of-control situation where we would expect people to organize, protest, put up road blocks and vote en masse for nationalist parties, we are instead subjected to the ridiculous spectacle of meek, effeminate Europeans dressed up in unisex outfits chalking “No to terrorism!” on sidewalks.
Most people around the world see in this an orchidaceous display of anthropological nullity. “Is Europe dead?” they wonder aloud.
Lest you think that this impression is politically incorrect or undiplomatic or somehow marginal rather than mainstream, Russia’s FM Sergei Lavrov, a senior Russian statesman and a diplomat’s diplomat, is on the record saying that the European Union is “committing suicide” by letting in the invading hordes from the Middle East and North Africa.
Here we have a flood of people coming in, the majority of them young adult males shirking military service back home, and relatively few of them are qualified to seek asylum. Most of them are unqualified to do any sort of work within the EU due to lack of literacy, education or work ethic. Many of them would not be trainable in any case, coming as they are from populations bred for physical stamina and disease tolerance rather than intelligence.
Quite a few are Islamic radicals who see themselves as actual colonizers; many more have no qualms about robbing Europeans and raping European women. A few thousand are actual terrorists being sent in to await orders. For most of them, crashing into the EU and freeloading there is part of an excellent adventure—far more exciting than herding cattle or growing millet in their native villages.
European NGOs equip them with inflatable lifeboats and life vests and set them adrift off the coast of Libya or in the Adriatic. European NGO ships then scoop them up and deliver them to ports in Italy, Greece or Spain. And then they get to freeload, for months on end, while more NGO types help them with the paperwork and clog up the courts with lawsuits they file on on their behalf.
I am sure that some Europeans might think me unkind for presenting such an unflattering summary of the situation. But there is a much higher standard by which to measure it than mere kindness: is it truthful? Truth is often cruel and painful, and yet without truth—with which to understand the true consequences of our actions—we are all but lambs to the slaughter.
Refusal to face the truth by hiding behind a hypocritical, threadbare veil of “kindness” is mere cowardice. Indeed, cowardice is often on display in Europe, hiding behind another threadbare veil—of “security.” When ISIS bombed the airport in Brussels, the Belgian king Philippe and his royal spouse were swiftly evacuated. During medieval times such cowardly behavior would have cost the monarch his crown, possibly along with his head. But now it is fine for a cowardly nation to have a cowardly king.
It is quite difficult to understand the rationale behind such enforced cowardice. Why are the European elites so insistent on ramming “tolerance” down the throats of their citizens and replacing them with imported barbarians? What happened to the spirit of bloodthirsty empires that had bled the entire planet dry for centuries, accumulating countless treasure?
What I believe happened is that the Europeans became too comfortable. Yes, they did experience some hardship during the two world wars, but it was nothing compared to what many other nations went through, Russia and China especially. When life is a struggle, experience is vivid, simple joys are profoundly felt, intelligent choices are critical to survival and acts of heroism are both necessary and valued.
When life is comfortable, people become satiated and hard to satisfy, tastes become decadent and effete, questions of safety are pushed off on specialists and spontaneous acts individual heroism and bravery come to be treated as symptoms of social maladaptation.
Given enough safety and comfort, they become ends in themselves and the standards by which all things are measured. Those less safe and less comfortable are perceived as less successful and fashionable, and become less popular, in a game of endless oneupmanship. In turn, those yet to be seduced by safety and comfort, and willing to battle for principles higher than mere tolerance and kindness, become incomprehensible; after all, what else is there but safety and comfort? But this is only a setup for the next leg down, because safety and comfort cannot function as absolutes.
Safety cannot be guaranteed in all places and at all times: accidents do happen. You might get punched in the face by a belligerent drunk, get molested by a horny migrant, die in a terrorist attack because Allahu akbar or, more likely, break your neck by falling off your bicycle. Since you are no longer responsible for providing for your own safety—it is now the work of paid professionals—you can’t blame yourself. You can, of course, blame the paid professionals, but they are, you know, doing their best… Your only choice is to claim that you are a victim.
Victimhood becomes a prized commodity and a badge of honor. Extreme attention and care lavished on all varieties of victims, who are encouraged to organize and to bargain collectively, helps assure the rest that their total security is very important. You can be a victim, but you can’t be a victim of your own stupidity.
Speaking of stupidity, the realization that you are stupid is not comfortable, yet everyone—even the stupid—must remain comfortable at all times. Given that exactly half the people are of below-average intelligence, this is rather tricky to arrange. Claiming that half the population are victims of stupidity doesn’t exactly solve the problem: such an overabundance of victims hollows out the promise of universal comfort. Nor is the problem addressed by imposing a system of universal meritocracy based on individual rights: the intelligent will do better than the unintelligent, causing the latter considerable discomfort.
The solution is to step back from the principle of meritocracy. Instead of guaranteeing individual equal rights and opportunities based on ability and performance we strive for equality of outcome: everybody gets a participation prize and a bit of money just by being obedient and polite, with the size of the prize and the sum of money carefully calibrated based on one’s level of victimhood.
This is now sometimes referred to by the strangely repurposed word “equity.” Since it is hard to organize the distribution of “equity” on an individual level, people are formed into a myriad of groups and each group gets weighted against the rest. If you are a disabled black lesbian, you get to check off three victimhood boxes at once and be handed the same prize as an able-bodied white heterosexual male. This is now strangely referred to as “social” justice—as if there were ever any other kind.
This new type of person, which arose first in Europe and then spread all over the West and beyond, does seem like a degenerate form of humanity: bereft of great passion and lofty goals, lacking any clear ethnic or social allegiance or preference, fixated on comfort and safety and deficient in both masculinity and femininity: a sort of civilizational eunuch imprisoned in a four-star LGBTQ concentration camp.
These may seem like major negatives, but on the plus side this type of person is mostly harmless. Half a billion people now inhabit, without posing much of a danger to each other, a smallish peninsula jutting out of Western Eurasia that until recently has been the scene of endless armed conflict. They do not destroy material or cultural artifacts but seek to accumulate them, investing in comforts and in consumption. That, most people will agree, is progress.
The last major challenge to this way of being was presented by the integration of Eastern Europe, where national passions still run high. But that problem was easily solved by finding a scapegoat—Serbia—which was cursed for its lack of multiculturalism and tolerance and bombed into submission. This scared everyone else in Eastern Europe into inaction, for the time being. But now mass migration has presented a problem on an entirely different scale, causing Poland, Hungary and now even Italy to rise up in rebellion against the alien onslaught.
The newcomers predominantly come from cultures that are the opposite of tolerant and kind. They are mainly characterized by cruelty, passion, clannishness and religious and political fanaticism. They want to live right here and right now, take pleasure in the beastlier side of human nature, and they see Europe as a treasure chest to be looted. Their cultures hearken back to an earlier era of European history, when huge crowds gathered in city squares to watch people being drawn and quartered or burned alive.
The Europeans conquered their own medieval nature, but then reimported it. The new, emasculated Western European Man is unable to push back against it; nor can their governments, whose leaders are forced to abide by the same cultural codes of tolerance, political correctness and compulsory kindness. But the Eastern European Man, only temporarily frightened into acting tolerant and emasculated, will not stand for any of this for much longer. His medieval nature is still quite close to the surface, while their Western neighbors have placed theirs in museums and various other tourist traps. This is already apparent: there was a recent EU summit on immigration; the East Europeans didn’t even bother showing up.
Looking at the situation from even farther east, from European Russia and the rest of the Eurasian landmass, there is a distinct sense of sadness in watching Europe die. A large chunk of human history is about to get trampled and despoiled. Having spent the last several decades resurrecting Eastern Christendom after the damage caused to it by the Bolshevik barbarians, they watch with dismay as the relics and ruins of Western Christendom are becoming submerged by a new barbarian wave. Western Europe’s inhabitants may no longer amount to much, but they are still valuable as museum attendants and tour guides.
That Europe is turning itself into a museum was apparent to Dostoevsky 150 years ago, when he wrote this (speaking through the character of Versilov):
“To a Russian Europe is just as precious as Russia; every stone in it is charming and dear. Europe is as much our Fatherland as Russia…
Oh, how precious are to us Russians these old foreign stones, these miracles of an old, godly world, these shards of holy miracles; they are more precious to us than to the Europeans themselves!”
And then again, this time speaking as Ivan Karamazov, with even greater passion:
“…I want to travel to Europe, and so I will. Of course, I know that I will just be visiting to a cemetery. But so what?
The corpses that lay in them are precious; every headstone tells the story of a great life, of passionate belief in heroism, in one’s own truth, one’s own struggle.
I know already that I will fall to the ground and kiss these stones, and cry over them—even though convinced with all my heart that all of this has turned into a cemetery long ago, and is nothing more.”
[Inspired by E. Kholmogorov]
Census 2022 – what difference does it make?
Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.
But what it is it all about?
At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.
The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.
The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.
Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.
Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.
And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.
Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture
Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”
The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.
At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.
During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.
When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”
He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”
“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.
During the commercial break, Will Smith is pulled aside and comforted by Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry, who motion for him to brush it off. Will appears to wipe tears from his eyes as he sits back down with Jada, with Denzel comforting Jada and Will’s rep by his side. pic.twitter.com/uDGVnWrSS2
— Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) March 28, 2022
The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”
On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.
House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022
House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.
Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.
The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.
Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.
This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.
MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.
It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.
“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.
“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.
“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.
“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.
He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.
Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.
Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.
The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.
“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”
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