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Tony Grist

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The Russians Are Coming [Dec. 4th, 2007|10:28 am]
Tony Grist
I grew up during the Cold War. I remember playing a game called "Russian spies" which involved talking in a silly voice and brandishing crayoned drawings of space rockets. My friend and I never could figure out what Russian spies actually did. It was fun drawing the space rockets but the rest of it palled very quickly.

So I've got this conditioning. Russia is the "Evil Empire"- all that Reaganite crap. 


When I was a little older I discovered the Russians had written the best books in the world. Later I found out they'd also made some of the best films.

AND they defeated Hitler.  Yes they did. We helped out at bit, but they were the ones who fought the biggest battles and took the biggest losses. 

So LJ is now owned by the Russians. 

Yes I know the President of Russia is a scary bloke. (So is  the President of the USA if you hadn't noticed.)

But he's less likely to want to kill us- right- now we're his customers.  

We live in a global economy. And in a global economy this is what happens. Russians also own Chelsea football club and much of London.
The shop's new owner has a funny accent. Get over it. 

A capitalist is a capitalist is a capitalist. Are you trying to tell me  Russian capitalists are intrinsically more evil than American capitalists? (Or British capitalists, or Australian capitalists). That's silly. Go read some history. 

From: (Anonymous)
2007-12-04 12:04 pm (UTC)
No problem with Russians per se except for some aspects of their government (right, Mrs Litvinenko?) but what has spooked the LJers is the post in the new lj_2008 community:

The LiveJournal Advisory Board will publish and update on a regular basis a clear a set of aims and values. This will address such vital community issues as privacy, security, taste and decency. It will also provide a forum to consider any relevant legal, political or religious concerns.

932 replies so far mostly concerned about being vetted for taste, decency, politics and religion.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-12-04 12:39 pm (UTC)
But people were asking for a clear set of guidelines...

I've got a lot invested in LJ- which is why I'm determinedly whistling in the dark. I don't want to be forced out but if I thought I was being vetted- and there were things I couldn't say here- then I'd go.
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[User Picture]From: dadi
2007-12-04 12:26 pm (UTC)
I just hope this wave of bigotry (which I really don't think has anything to do with the Russians) doesn't get worse. Over the last days I have seen a few of my LJ friends' journals disappear, others flagged and cut.. and NONE of them had anything scandalous or even more adult than writing about a lesbian crush (without any whatsoever erotic detail) in it. This stinks more of Bible Bashers to me than of Red Menace.

As of the conditioning.. my father has been arrested a few times by the German Home Security Police, our house has been searched more often than I can say.. only because my parents were Eastern European immigrants and my father kept in continuous contact with his family "beyond the curtain". So I certainly got my part of horror stories growing up, but still, to keep me busy and learn some survival skills, my parents put me for a few years in the youth organization of the German Socialist Party, which was "the communist answer to the Scouts" so to say. And I sure got my part of left wing indoctrination there, and later on I even learned how to make Molotov Cocktails, LOL. So, roll the Red Menace on, I am really good at singing the Internationale (and can give an encore with Bandiera Rossa and some Italian partisan songs.. ;)
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2007-12-04 12:36 pm (UTC)
You're saying that people's journals were cut and/or disappeared without their consent? There's a lot of self-censoring going on, I know.
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[User Picture]From: qatsi
2007-12-04 12:35 pm (UTC)
Didn't it used to be said that the optimists were learning Russian, and the pessimists Mandarin?

Edited at 2007-12-04 12:39 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-12-04 12:46 pm (UTC)
The Russian bear is huge and wild
It has devoured the infant child.
The infant child is not aware
It has been eaten by the bear.
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[User Picture]From: momof2girls
2007-12-04 01:38 pm (UTC)
So what's the big deal with the Russians, anyway? As long as the format's the same and they keep Frank the Goat, it doesn't make any difference to me.

My kids' piano teacher is Russian. She's taught them a few Russian words, and it's a hoot to hear them trying to say the words!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-12-04 02:33 pm (UTC)
We'll see how it goes...

I don't suppose there'll be any dramatic changes. All this flagging business that people are getting so upset about is the work of the ancien regime, is it not?
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2007-12-04 01:51 pm (UTC)
I'm not quite sure what the kerfuffle is about. As you say, capitalism is global these days. What does it matter who owns LJ? To be honest, I think any censoring due to sexual content is far more likely to be American than Russian. My corner of LJ has been entirely unaltered so far, apart from the little flag button that now allows one to notify The Powers That Be about unsuitable content.

To be honest, I've always had a sneaking liking for the Russians, even when they were supposed to be our arch-enemies. My Dad always stressed their part in WWII and Manchester was twinned with St Petersburg back in the days when it was still called Leningrad and there were organised school exchange visits. It is one of my regrets that I never got to go to Russia in the 60s because I was doing my A-levels the year our school got to send pupils. :(
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-12-04 02:35 pm (UTC)
I've always been contrarian. The more I was told to hate the Russians the more I schooled myself to try and see things from their point of view.
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[User Picture]From: seraphimsigrist
2007-12-04 01:51 pm (UTC)

memory of the russian dead

I am not worried about having Russain ownership
of livejournal in the least. Bur really Tony do
you seriously believe that political life is as
free and open in Russia as it is in the United
States? I wonder if you are aware of the millions
dead during the Communist regieme and of the
camps...I mean I suppose you are aware but you
allow yourself to summarize that whole period as
'they defeated Hitler'... and that this horror
was 'Reaganite crap' if I follow what you are
I wonder if that is all the memory that will remain
of what the Russian people have endured is some
comparison to political leaders whom one didnt
vote for?
they deserve better than that possibly.

this is irate in tone and risks to be an expression
of it being early in the morning but I imagine that
yours is the sort of exercise in hyperbole which
come to think of it is parallel, mutatis mutandis,
to the tabloid papers I buy for their outrageous
headlines and sports sections (yes we have them too
as I know you do) in preference to the boring
papers. In this case mine is an over reaction indeed
but... but here it is with respect yours
+Seraphim Sigrist
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[User Picture]From: seraphimsigrist
2007-12-04 02:15 pm (UTC)

on the livejournal aspect

but to what is the starting point and your
and my concern, our investment in livejournal.
I am not concerned really. what would one
be afraid of? mismanagement and movement to
yet another owner? could happen but is off
topic here...
I think one question about this is what sort
of russian investment this is and whether it is
not of the sort of the buying of the football
team in chlsea--that is a prudent movement of
some part of holdings overseas by one of the
oligarchs (and you speak of capitalists but
remember that the money was all elements of
the monies of the communist time establishment
it is not produced from zero as it were).
however one concern, not for you and I, might
be this that livejournal as the reports say
is pretty much the Eussain blogosphere and
there is no doubt that control and intimidation
of the blogosphere could be part of the objective
of a centralized power which has silenced all
opposition media. their law does allow much
broader intercept of email and phone than does
ours. I cannot say if this move has any
ramifications ,at least psychologically, for
Russians but again I would think it depends on
what sort of group is providing the seed money
referred to etc.
But beyond mismanaging I do not see how they could
harm you or I. A determined intelligence service
would certainly already be able to read our
livejournals since for one thing yours and mine
are public etc as to playing some kind of dirty
tricks if we were of interest to this or that
intelligence service of another country well I
would think they might think of worse things
than painting a moustache on some mona lisa
we drew...
in short people who worry about this on livejournal
are ,as far as I can imagine, concerned without
reason. which is to agree with you, which you
deserve after my rather short tempered previous response
and now I must away in shakespearian dictum ,and
bungee jump into real space time yrs
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2007-12-04 02:29 pm (UTC)
Well, LJ is still actually owned by an American although his company is based in moscow and is run under Russian law.. The owner of SUP is:
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-12-04 02:39 pm (UTC)
Oh right.

That's interesting.
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From: msjann65
2007-12-04 05:32 pm (UTC)

Them Russians...

Over time we Americans became more like the Russians while they became more like us!
Back in the fifties we thought it deplorable that little Russian children as young as three years were farmed out to day nurseries so that their mothers could work. Today in my country they are popped into child care around six weeks of age. They are in "school" almost from birth until age 21 when they graduate from college. Since the philosophy of public education is aimed at building "citizens", then the kids today are being indoctrinated, not educated.
We thought it deplorable back then that Russian people were not free to speak as they felt. Meanwhile, here today we have PC, which dictates the words I may use or not use (Swear words are OK, but "mankind" is not).
Back in the sixties and seventies we became more socialistic in our US economy, and beginning in the eighties the Russians became more capitalistic. Interesting!
All I can do is hope that we do not switch roles completely because I really dont want to see us become they way they used to be. I also dont want them to become completely like us.
There were, by the way, some good things going on in Russia in those days, for example, any student with the ability to do the work could go to college at the expense of the State, and the gifted and talented could study ballet or music gratis. The poor of America could use some of that free higher education!
I'm with you. I love Russian novels. And the music of Russian composers. And the Russian ballet companies on tour in the US make our local ones pale by comparison.
I remember in the fifties when refugees came to the US - some of them attended school with me. They knew so much more about science and math and foreign language than I did, and their grades put us all to shame. It made me think that not everything was evil in the "evil empire".
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-12-04 10:09 pm (UTC)

Re: Them Russians...

The USA has a complex 18th century political system that was designed to keep too much power from being concentrated in the hands of any one person or clique. It's a great system but it's being put under a lot of pressure right now from You Know Who.

The Russians, on the other hand, are new to democracy. They only emerged from feudalism in the mid 19th century and spent much of the 20th century in the grip of one of the nastiest and most inefficient tyrannies the world has ever known. It seems there's very little to keep them reverting to autocracy.

I watch the progress of both great nations with my heart in my mouth.
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[User Picture]From: happydog
2007-12-04 07:08 pm (UTC)
The problem is not Russophobia. The problem is that in Russia, LJ is one of the few media outlets that is not controlled or influenced by Putin's people. Since Putin has a rep for taking over that which he disapproves of, how long is it before Putin or a front company controlled by Putin buys out SUP, thus putting LJ under the same restrictions that Russian media have?

Secondly: does SUP allow data mining, and if so, do I want information about me going to a company that could possibly end up getting owned by a guy who used to be top dog in the KGB and still has a great deal of influence over the KGB's successor organization, the FSP? Bad enough that the US government has access to my private info.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-12-04 07:35 pm (UTC)
Yes, that is a worry.

I'm already wondering whether Russian politics is now an off-limits topic of conversation.

Not that I've ever wanted to discuss Russian politics before today.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-12-05 02:51 pm (UTC)
I think your response was entirely sensible. I suspect (I hope) we won't see any fundamental change.
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