Friday, March 1, 2024

Why Russia is winning - by JULIAN MACFARLANE

 Putin’s Presser

Remember Putin’s 4 1/2 hour long year-end report? It covered a lot of territory and most people just read about it in the media, which focused on just a couple of points that editors thought were somehow relevant to their mandated orthodoxy of, y’know, “Russia on the Ropes.

I read the MSM too.

But I also went through the text several times, binning the sneers of the NYT and WaPo, as mental garbage.

I was motivated to watch the video to get a sense of what Putin was feeling as he answered questions– which was clearly confidence.

I saw a very human man.

He has none of Macron’s vanity. He is not an air-head like Trudeau. Unlike Biden, he knows where and who he is and what he is doing and he and his dogs are safe around children.

He is intelligent, emotionally perceptive, and appreciative of irony. He has a sense of humor. He doesn't speechify-- he talks-- a rare thing in her political leader. A real person – unlike any British prime minister or the current Labour wannabe —those political caricatures who deserve a place in cartoons, rather than government.

Let’s just say-- Putin is real!

Russia Rebuilding

The year-end report was notable because it was mostly about Russian economic and social progress – and not about the SMO as a war with the West which figured in appropriate context as a linchpin for the ongoing renewal of Russia.

You will notice that Putin talks a lot about Russia as a "civilization"– unlike Western leaders who always talk about their countries as "nations". “Our country” , etc.

He does not pretend that Russia has ever been perfect; since of course no civilization ever is or has been-- just as no person ever is or has been. Rather, he acknowledges all the death and suffering Russia has gone through over the centuries, as a result of the mistakes of its leaders. But he thinks that growth comes from making mistakes if you can learn from them—and, as he says, “adapt”.

So the new Russia is not a recapitulation of any older version--it is a re-creation.

This seems contrary to Anglo-American thinking that always looks back to the past. “Make America Great Again”? Was it ever “great” or “good”?

A "civilization" is a bigger thing than a"nation"in all respects – since it can include multiple nations, cooperating through shared goals and values and mutual interest. Each nation has its story. So a civilization is a book of stories.

As a multiethnic, multi-confessional, multinational federation composed of different peoples brought together through history, geography, shared and conflicting traditions, economic connections, and mutual respect, the Russian Federation has a different dynamic from the United States of America—the “melting pot”.

It wasn't always that way. Stalin's Soviet Union was a "state" – a political entity. That ship of state sank but Russia had a life raft – what Putin correctly sees as historic civilizational values.

The US does not have values: it has rich people.

Still, Western media continue to tell us that Russia is a totalitarian state and collapsing. Because, well, if you are not American you are wrong.

The Other Russia

The US and Russia do not exist in the same universe.

Since the year-end report, Putin has made various speeches and public comments which confirm what he was talking about.

The economic aggression of the collective West has had short-term negative effects but long-term consequences. Russia is now very much an autarky.

It has freed itself from dependence on exports of natural resources and imports of manufactured items from abroad and is now manufacturing everything it needs at home-- able to export the surplus. As the US de-industrializes. The Russian Federation re-industrializes.

The Russian economy is growing – at a rate in real GDP terms— at least twice as fast as the United States. And if the global economy goes into recession, Russia will be largely insulated from the effects.

It is now the strongest European economy replacing Germany.

It's the fifth most powerful economy in the world and will soon replace a declining Japan in fourth place.

It's making very rapid progress in all areas – for example civil aviation, and the automotive and electronics industries, especially as they relate to military hardware, and manufacturing of all kinds.

It is automating manufacturing processes, making extensive use of new materials and robotics and AI.

The key is, of course, education. As I have mentioned before Russia turns out many more engineers per capita than the US enabling both its industrial base and infrastructure. The US turns out MBAs— soon to be replaced by AI systems which can do everything they can do a lot better.

Go East Young Man!

The RF is funding education at all levels at an unprecedented rate. Putin has vowed there will never be tuition-paid education in Russia: that it must be meritocratic and democratic— and available to everyone. Educational institutions are sprouting up in Eastern Russia to balance the concentration in the Western part of the country.

New University in the Russian Far East

According to Putin:

The dynamics of investments in the Far East outpaces the general indicator for Russia by a factor of three. While growth of investments in fixed capital stood at 13% from 2014 to 2022 across the country, then it was 39% in the Far East.

The cargo turnover of Far Eastern seaports surged by 1.6 times, housing commissioning - by 1.3 times, and power consumption - by 1.2 times.

Production growth rates in the Far East are also above the average figure in Russia.

By choosing to wage economic and political warfare on both China and Russia, the Anglo-American Empire made both countries allies--which they should've been anyway--given history and geography and similar attitudes as to the importance of the public good underlying everything else. That is while both countries are capitalist – capital must serve the people.

As time passes, the degree of cooperation increases between Russia and China since it is in the mutual interest of both countries. Russia and China are sharing technology to an unprecedented degree – with huge benefits for both – not just militarily but in terms of industry and infrastructure.

Russia is huge geographically, with, by comparison, a relatively small population. It is also one of the few countries, apart from Canada, that can benefit from global climate change.


What it needs most is infrastructure-- particularly railroads and transportation-- sectors in which China is a world leader.

China has the world's largest high-speed railway network with tracks covering 38,000 kilometers as of 2020, serving 95 percent of the cities with a population of more than 1 million, according to the Ministry of Transport.

In research and development, China holds 43.52 percent of the world's maglev patents, ranking first and well above Japan's 20.57 percent

Russia can't imitate China with respect to rail transport since its needs are different – but it can certainly benefit from Chinese technology.

There have long been plans for a new high-speed line between Moscow and Kazan, Russia’s fifth-largest city and capital of Tatarstan….

It it will be the first (dedicated) high-speed line in Russia with trains operating at up to 400 kilometres per hour. A rail trip from Moscow to Kazan which today takes a close to 13 hours trip, would be reduced to 3.5 hours. In 2020, Chinese state company CRRC signed to build part of the line, which would be finished by 2024.

The trans-Siberian railway – the world's longest – is being upgraded. Cargo trains are now 20% longer and speeds have been improved from an average 60 kph to 80 kph, Passenger transport – even third class-- has been vastly improved and modernized, with private sleeping areas and amenities.

Compare Russia to Canada where the average speed trans-Canada rail speed is 33 kph. ViaRail from Vancouver to Montreal is 2,292. miles. From Moscow to Vladivostok, the trans-Siberian railway is 5.771 miles. Both take about 6 days, but Russia is cheaper and more comfortable. Third class has been upgraded.

Umm…nicer than in Japan. Always judge a country by its toilets.

Moscow-St Petersburg is 703 km. The trip takes 3.5 hours.

Compare that to the US and Canada. From Toronto to Montreal (540km,) it takes over 5 hours. From Washington to New York is 328 km. The premium Acela Express does it in just under 3 hours— at 2 to 4 times the cost of a regular ticket.

In the US high-speed rail is estimated at $58 million per kilometer – in Russia it is $33 million. But the US isn’t in building infrastructure, so it really doesn't matter. Neither is Canada for that matter.

As Russia moves forward, the West, especially the US and Canada fall further and further behind. It's a simple difference in governmental paradigms: in Russia the government exists for the public good; in Canada and the US government exists the good of their billionaires.

This is not about capitalism or socialism – it's about common sense.