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<h1>How a Wikipedia volunteer editor became a very vocal Web3 critic</h1>
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<div><p>A new blockchain-based internet that abhors huge tech platforms, embraces digital currencies, and lets individuals control their data and identity sounds like a lovely idea. But a growing <a href="https://moxie.org/2022/01/07/web3-first-impressions.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">chorus</a> of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQ_xWvX1n9g" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">skeptics</a> are saying that Web3–the term used to sum up these concepts–is at best highly aspirational and at worst a flat-out scam.</p></div>
<div><p>Some of these critics express their doubts on Substack, or in YouTube rants, or on company blogs. Others voice their skepticism with their wallets, <a href="https://www.investopedia.com/news/short-bitcoin/#:~:text=Can%20Bitcoin%20be%20shorted%3F,of%20which%20there%20are%20many." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">shorting cryptocurrencies</a> like Bitcoin or Eth. <span>Molly White, a software engineer and volunteer Wikipedia editor, has a simpler approach, and it’s a good one. </span></p><p><span>White has emerged as one of Web3’s sharpest critics by simply compiling Web3’s day-to-day mishaps and ripoffs–its non-theoretical real-world consequences–at </span><a href="http://web3isgoinggreat.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span>Web3 Is Going Great</span></a><span>, a website (and </span><a href="https://twitter.com/web3isgreat" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span>Twitter account</span></a><span>) she created and curates. The steady stream of these news stories (many of which aren’t covered in mainstream media) strongly suggests that Web3, in fact, isn’t going as great as its legions of cheerleaders would have you believe.</span></p><p>I spoke with White via email about her views on Web3 fixtures such as DAOs (distributed autonomous organizations), cryptocurrencies, and NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity. <em>(Disclosure: I own a modest amount of Bitcoin, mainly for research purposes.)</em></p></div>
<div><p><strong>Why were you compelled to start the Web3 Is Going Great? What were you seeing at the time?</strong></p><p>Although cryptocurrencies and blockchains have been around for a long time now, last year this “web3” shift really seemed to take off: this idea that blockchains will be the “future of the web.” People pushing this were saying that before long, everyone would use crypto, many services would be built on top of some blockchain or another, and all web interactions would be <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financialization" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">financialized</a> in some way—all things that sound like a pretty terrible “future of the web” to me. Last year also felt like the year when the scamminess of the crypto space truly exploded, and also the year where the people behind a lot of these projects really set their sights on the average layperson (rather than the computer geek or the speculative investor) as their target audience. Everyday people were being told that they should put their money into crypto in one form or another, and I was beginning to see a lot of projects that to me seemed to be targeting the particularly vulnerable: totally unregulated apps encouraging people to take out sketchy loans to get out of a financial pinch, or projects promising to help people “invest” their retirement money into crypto, for example.</p><p>As I began learning about the topic a little more, I also began coming across just <a href="https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/president-sham-united-nations-affiliate-convicted-cryptocurrency-scheme" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">scam</a> after <a href="https://cointelegraph.com/news/binance-tells-regulators-it-will-cease-operations-in-ontario-for-real-this-time" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">scam</a> after <a href="https://www.coindesk.com/tech/2022/03/15/derivatives-platform-deus-finance-exploited-for-3m-on-fantom-network/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">scam</a>, and <a href="https://cointelegraph.com/news/espn-s-baseball-reporter-s-twitter-account-hacked-by-nft-scammers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hack</a> after <a href="https://floridapolitics.com/archives/509932-hackers-hijack-nikki-fried-campaign-twitter-account/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hack</a> after <a href="https://www.theblockcrypto.com/post/138250/hacker-steals-790000-of-nfts-and-crypto-from-owners-of-rare-bears" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hack</a>. It seemed like every day a <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/bitcoin-crypto-exchange-hacks-little-anyone-can-do-rcna7870" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">huge project was being hacked</a>, or someone was launching something and <a href="https://www.coindesk.com/markets/2016/10/27/the-plot-thickens-as-dao-attacker-trades-stolen-funds-for-bitcoin/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">making off</a> with all the money, or people were getting their crypto wallets compromised through some technique or another. But the stories were all very fleeting—I would see them on Twitter or in a brief news headline, and then the social media/news attention span would move along and it was like it never even happened. I realized it could be really informative and meaningful to gather all of these disasters in one place, to both show how unfit this technology is for practically all use cases, and to show just how much people are <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2021/05/ftc-data-shows-huge-spike-cryptocurrency-investment-scams" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">getting scammed</a> when they try to dip their toes in.</p></div>
<div><p><strong>Why do you think we’re seeing such shocking amounts of scams around cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and the like? What is it about these models that make it such fertile ground for scammers?</strong></p><p>It’s enormously unregulated, and the regulations that should apply have been slow to be enforced. People seem to have this opinion that, because a cryptocurrency is involved, they can do anything they want: <a href="https://jacobinmag.com/2022/01/cryptocurrency-scam-blockchain-bitcoin-economy-decentralization" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">operate a Ponzi scheme</a>, or <a href="https://news.bitcoin.com/coinbase-sued-for-allegedly-selling-79-unregistered-crypto-securities-xrp-dogecoin-shiba-inu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">sell unregistered securities</a>. To some extent, they have been able to do anything they want, even the blatantly illegal stuff, because the regulatory enforcement has been so slow. But I also think we’re starting to see a change in that, and there are probably more than a few people behind various crypto projects who have been seeing <a href="https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2021-172" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">enforcement actions by the SEC</a> and others on scams that were happening several years ago, and thinking “uh oh, that looks a lot like what I’ve been doing”.</p><p>I think the amount of hype that’s being pumped into the space is contributing to the issue, too. It’s coming from everywhere—the media, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2022/02/04/celebrities-cryptocurrency-nfts/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">big-name celebrities</a>, advertisements on mainstream TV networks, and of course social media. There’s a reason that get-rich-quick schemes are so enticing, and because it tends to be the success stories that get the attention, I think people start to believe that it’s actually common for people to make money from these things. It’s also a bit of a perfect storm with economic uncertainty facing fairly young people (who by far seem to be the ones being pulled into these scams): They’re more likely to have the types of jobs that were impacted particularly severely by the pandemic, and many of them are facing enormous debts from things like student loans.</p></div>
<div><p><strong>Has your opinion NFTs, crypto, and other blockchain models evolved at all since you started W3IGG?</strong></p><p>If anything, I probably have an even stronger opinion that these technologies are enabling a lot of harm, with few promising use cases or upsides. I’ve spent the last couple of months pretty immersed in this stuff—both learning about a ton of specific Web3 projects just to be able to cover them in the site, but also researching the underlying technologies and problems they’re trying to solve, as well as speaking with a lot of other experts on the subject and hearing their opinions.</p><p><strong>It seems like a lot of VCs are very excited about the blockchain and crypto. Do you have any thoughts about why this might be?</strong></p></div>
<div><p>VCs are excited about blockchains and cryptocurrencies for the same reason VCs are excited about anything: It’s a moneymaking opportunity. People are putting a lot of money into crypto, and despite all the ideological talk about how crypto might democratize wealth or remove such outsized amounts of it from the hands of a few big players (including some of the same enormous venture capital firms investing in crypto), that’s not actually what’s happening. The wealth is even more centralized in crypto, in many ways, and the space is beautifully designed for that to continue.</p><p>Crypto also promises the opportunity of quicker returns than a lot of their more traditional investments—if a VC firm’s share in a project is represented in crypto, they can cash out anytime, rather than having to wait for a company to IPO.</p><p><strong>What is your impression of DAOs?</strong></p></div>
<div><p>My overwhelming impression is that most of the projects calling themselves DAOs are neither distributed nor autonomous, and the ones that are trying to be have been organized by people who have done a lot of thinking about how such an organization might work in theory, but have little practical experience with those kinds of organizations.</p><p><strong>In some of the reporting I’ve done about DAOs, I got the impression that it’s not always practical or possible to create something that’s totally decentralized and democratic. </strong></p><p>If you take a look at a lot of the groups calling themselves “DAOs”, you’ll see that they are often just one person or group of people controlling the project. Some of them ostensibly have governance tokens and community votes on proposals for the project, but we’ve seen more than one instance where a community has voted for one thing and the leaders of the so-called decentralized project have just decided to do something else. In other cases, there is not even a nominal attempt at having any sort of community governance. Some of those projects say they have plans for community governance to be added later (usually after the money is raised, of course), but whether they actually follow through on those promises is anyone’s guess.</p></div>
<div><p><strong>Do you think people might eventually find a way to make DAOs functional and useful?</strong></p><p>There are lots of existing structures for decentralized governance that have existed in society for far, far longer than DAOs have been around. Look at co-ops, for example. You could even argue that shareholders of most public companies have rights similar to participants in DAOs. Outside of the business world there are all sorts of examples of decentralized, leaderless groups: the Wikimedia movement, for example, or also groups like Occupy Wall Street or Alcoholics Anonymous. I personally find it unlikely that anyone with significant experience in any group like this would ever argue that the goals or mechanisms of these groups could be fully, reasonably represented in code.</p><p>DAOs are, I think, one of the best illustrations of the problem with a lot of these Web3 projects: They are trying to find technological solutions that will somehow codify very complex social structures. A lot of them also seem to operate under the assumption that everyone is acting in good faith, and that project members’ interests will generally align—a baffling assumption given the amount of bad actors in the crypto space.</p></div>
<div><p><strong>I think a lot of people are trying to understand if there are real, practical use cases for Web3 models like NFTs and DAOs that will emerge after all the initial hype and hucksterism fade away. What do you think? Is there a “there” there?</strong></p><p>No, there isn’t.</p><p>NFTs and DAOs are both great examples of solutions desperately in search of a problem. People have tried to come up with <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90704232/new-uses-for-nfts" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ideas for how NFTs might be useful</a> if the interest in them as a speculative investment fades, and the ideas seem incredibly uncompelling—using them for things like event tickets, which are already being bought and sold quite adequately on existing systems.</p></div>
<div><p>I suspect that the hype and hucksterism will fade away when <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90731182/what-president-bidens-executive-order-on-crypto-really-means" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">regulators step in</a>, and make it a lot harder for influencers to pump and dump tokens without disclosing their financial interests, or for people to promise impossible returns on what are clearly Ponzi schemes, or for people to sell what are pretty obviously unregistered securities. But when that aspect is taken away, so is much of the incentive to use the technology in the first place. You’re just left with a slow, expensive datastore that doesn’t scale well, and some really complex hurdles to overcome around privacy and data ownership.</p></div>
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title: How a Wikipedia volunteer editor became a very vocal Web3 critic
url: https://www.fastcompany.com/90733574/how-a-wikipedia-engineer-became-one-of-the-loudest-web3-skeptics
hash_url: 10bfffb87f475e23c0dd0a30527b9750

<div><p>A new blockchain-based internet that abhors huge tech platforms, embraces digital currencies, and lets individuals control their data and identity sounds like a lovely idea. But a growing <a href="https://moxie.org/2022/01/07/web3-first-impressions.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">chorus</a> of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQ_xWvX1n9g" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">skeptics</a> are saying that Web3–the term used to sum up these concepts–is at best highly aspirational and at worst a flat-out scam.</p></div>
<div><p>Some of these critics express their doubts on Substack, or in YouTube rants, or on company blogs. Others voice their skepticism with their wallets, <a href="https://www.investopedia.com/news/short-bitcoin/#:~:text=Can%20Bitcoin%20be%20shorted%3F,of%20which%20there%20are%20many." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">shorting cryptocurrencies</a> like Bitcoin or Eth. <span>Molly White, a software engineer and volunteer Wikipedia editor, has a simpler approach, and it’s a good one. </span></p><p><span>White has emerged as one of Web3’s sharpest critics by simply compiling Web3’s day-to-day mishaps and ripoffs–its non-theoretical real-world consequences–at </span><a href="http://web3isgoinggreat.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span>Web3 Is Going Great</span></a><span>, a website (and </span><a href="https://twitter.com/web3isgreat" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span>Twitter account</span></a><span>) she created and curates. The steady stream of these news stories (many of which aren’t covered in mainstream media) strongly suggests that Web3, in fact, isn’t going as great as its legions of cheerleaders would have you believe.</span></p><p>I spoke with White via email about her views on Web3 fixtures such as DAOs (distributed autonomous organizations), cryptocurrencies, and NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity. <em>(Disclosure: I own a modest amount of Bitcoin, mainly for research purposes.)</em></p></div>
<div><p><strong>Why were you compelled to start the Web3 Is Going Great? What were you seeing at the time?</strong></p><p>Although cryptocurrencies and blockchains have been around for a long time now, last year this “web3” shift really seemed to take off: this idea that blockchains will be the “future of the web.” People pushing this were saying that before long, everyone would use crypto, many services would be built on top of some blockchain or another, and all web interactions would be <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financialization" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">financialized</a> in some way—all things that sound like a pretty terrible “future of the web” to me. Last year also felt like the year when the scamminess of the crypto space truly exploded, and also the year where the people behind a lot of these projects really set their sights on the average layperson (rather than the computer geek or the speculative investor) as their target audience. Everyday people were being told that they should put their money into crypto in one form or another, and I was beginning to see a lot of projects that to me seemed to be targeting the particularly vulnerable: totally unregulated apps encouraging people to take out sketchy loans to get out of a financial pinch, or projects promising to help people “invest” their retirement money into crypto, for example.</p><p>As I began learning about the topic a little more, I also began coming across just <a href="https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/president-sham-united-nations-affiliate-convicted-cryptocurrency-scheme" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">scam</a> after <a href="https://cointelegraph.com/news/binance-tells-regulators-it-will-cease-operations-in-ontario-for-real-this-time" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">scam</a> after <a href="https://www.coindesk.com/tech/2022/03/15/derivatives-platform-deus-finance-exploited-for-3m-on-fantom-network/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">scam</a>, and <a href="https://cointelegraph.com/news/espn-s-baseball-reporter-s-twitter-account-hacked-by-nft-scammers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hack</a> after <a href="https://floridapolitics.com/archives/509932-hackers-hijack-nikki-fried-campaign-twitter-account/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hack</a> after <a href="https://www.theblockcrypto.com/post/138250/hacker-steals-790000-of-nfts-and-crypto-from-owners-of-rare-bears" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hack</a>. It seemed like every day a <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/bitcoin-crypto-exchange-hacks-little-anyone-can-do-rcna7870" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">huge project was being hacked</a>, or someone was launching something and <a href="https://www.coindesk.com/markets/2016/10/27/the-plot-thickens-as-dao-attacker-trades-stolen-funds-for-bitcoin/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">making off</a> with all the money, or people were getting their crypto wallets compromised through some technique or another. But the stories were all very fleeting—I would see them on Twitter or in a brief news headline, and then the social media/news attention span would move along and it was like it never even happened. I realized it could be really informative and meaningful to gather all of these disasters in one place, to both show how unfit this technology is for practically all use cases, and to show just how much people are <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2021/05/ftc-data-shows-huge-spike-cryptocurrency-investment-scams" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">getting scammed</a> when they try to dip their toes in.</p></div>
<div><p><strong>Why do you think we’re seeing such shocking amounts of scams around cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and the like? What is it about these models that make it such fertile ground for scammers?</strong></p><p>It’s enormously unregulated, and the regulations that should apply have been slow to be enforced. People seem to have this opinion that, because a cryptocurrency is involved, they can do anything they want: <a href="https://jacobinmag.com/2022/01/cryptocurrency-scam-blockchain-bitcoin-economy-decentralization" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">operate a Ponzi scheme</a>, or <a href="https://news.bitcoin.com/coinbase-sued-for-allegedly-selling-79-unregistered-crypto-securities-xrp-dogecoin-shiba-inu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">sell unregistered securities</a>. To some extent, they have been able to do anything they want, even the blatantly illegal stuff, because the regulatory enforcement has been so slow. But I also think we’re starting to see a change in that, and there are probably more than a few people behind various crypto projects who have been seeing <a href="https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2021-172" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">enforcement actions by the SEC</a> and others on scams that were happening several years ago, and thinking “uh oh, that looks a lot like what I’ve been doing”.</p><p>I think the amount of hype that’s being pumped into the space is contributing to the issue, too. It’s coming from everywhere—the media, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2022/02/04/celebrities-cryptocurrency-nfts/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">big-name celebrities</a>, advertisements on mainstream TV networks, and of course social media. There’s a reason that get-rich-quick schemes are so enticing, and because it tends to be the success stories that get the attention, I think people start to believe that it’s actually common for people to make money from these things. It’s also a bit of a perfect storm with economic uncertainty facing fairly young people (who by far seem to be the ones being pulled into these scams): They’re more likely to have the types of jobs that were impacted particularly severely by the pandemic, and many of them are facing enormous debts from things like student loans.</p></div>
<div><p><strong>Has your opinion NFTs, crypto, and other blockchain models evolved at all since you started W3IGG?</strong></p><p>If anything, I probably have an even stronger opinion that these technologies are enabling a lot of harm, with few promising use cases or upsides. I’ve spent the last couple of months pretty immersed in this stuff—both learning about a ton of specific Web3 projects just to be able to cover them in the site, but also researching the underlying technologies and problems they’re trying to solve, as well as speaking with a lot of other experts on the subject and hearing their opinions.</p><p><strong>It seems like a lot of VCs are very excited about the blockchain and crypto. Do you have any thoughts about why this might be?</strong></p></div>
<div><p>VCs are excited about blockchains and cryptocurrencies for the same reason VCs are excited about anything: It’s a moneymaking opportunity. People are putting a lot of money into crypto, and despite all the ideological talk about how crypto might democratize wealth or remove such outsized amounts of it from the hands of a few big players (including some of the same enormous venture capital firms investing in crypto), that’s not actually what’s happening. The wealth is even more centralized in crypto, in many ways, and the space is beautifully designed for that to continue.</p><p>Crypto also promises the opportunity of quicker returns than a lot of their more traditional investments—if a VC firm’s share in a project is represented in crypto, they can cash out anytime, rather than having to wait for a company to IPO.</p><p><strong>What is your impression of DAOs?</strong></p></div>
<div><p>My overwhelming impression is that most of the projects calling themselves DAOs are neither distributed nor autonomous, and the ones that are trying to be have been organized by people who have done a lot of thinking about how such an organization might work in theory, but have little practical experience with those kinds of organizations.</p><p><strong>In some of the reporting I’ve done about DAOs, I got the impression that it’s not always practical or possible to create something that’s totally decentralized and democratic. </strong></p><p>If you take a look at a lot of the groups calling themselves “DAOs”, you’ll see that they are often just one person or group of people controlling the project. Some of them ostensibly have governance tokens and community votes on proposals for the project, but we’ve seen more than one instance where a community has voted for one thing and the leaders of the so-called decentralized project have just decided to do something else. In other cases, there is not even a nominal attempt at having any sort of community governance. Some of those projects say they have plans for community governance to be added later (usually after the money is raised, of course), but whether they actually follow through on those promises is anyone’s guess.</p></div>
<div><p><strong>Do you think people might eventually find a way to make DAOs functional and useful?</strong></p><p>There are lots of existing structures for decentralized governance that have existed in society for far, far longer than DAOs have been around. Look at co-ops, for example. You could even argue that shareholders of most public companies have rights similar to participants in DAOs. Outside of the business world there are all sorts of examples of decentralized, leaderless groups: the Wikimedia movement, for example, or also groups like Occupy Wall Street or Alcoholics Anonymous. I personally find it unlikely that anyone with significant experience in any group like this would ever argue that the goals or mechanisms of these groups could be fully, reasonably represented in code.</p><p>DAOs are, I think, one of the best illustrations of the problem with a lot of these Web3 projects: They are trying to find technological solutions that will somehow codify very complex social structures. A lot of them also seem to operate under the assumption that everyone is acting in good faith, and that project members’ interests will generally align—a baffling assumption given the amount of bad actors in the crypto space.</p></div>
<div><p><strong>I think a lot of people are trying to understand if there are real, practical use cases for Web3 models like NFTs and DAOs that will emerge after all the initial hype and hucksterism fade away. What do you think? Is there a “there” there?</strong></p><p>No, there isn’t.</p><p>NFTs and DAOs are both great examples of solutions desperately in search of a problem. People have tried to come up with <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90704232/new-uses-for-nfts" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ideas for how NFTs might be useful</a> if the interest in them as a speculative investment fades, and the ideas seem incredibly uncompelling—using them for things like event tickets, which are already being bought and sold quite adequately on existing systems.</p></div>
<div><p>I suspect that the hype and hucksterism will fade away when <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90731182/what-president-bidens-executive-order-on-crypto-really-means" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">regulators step in</a>, and make it a lot harder for influencers to pump and dump tokens without disclosing their financial interests, or for people to promise impossible returns on what are clearly Ponzi schemes, or for people to sell what are pretty obviously unregistered securities. But when that aspect is taken away, so is much of the incentive to use the technology in the first place. You’re just left with a slow, expensive datastore that doesn’t scale well, and some really complex hurdles to overcome around privacy and data ownership.</p></div><p id="collapsible-placeholder"></p>

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<h1>The Weakness of the Despot</h1>
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<p>The shock is that so much has changed, and yet we’re still seeing this pattern that they can’t escape from,” the Russia expert Stephen Kotkin says.</p>
<p>Stephen Kotkin is one of our most profound and prodigious scholars of Russian history. His masterwork is a biography of Joseph Stalin. So far he has published two volumes—“Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and “Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941.” A third volume will take the story through the Second World War; Stalin’s death, in 1953; and the totalitarian legacy that shaped the remainder of the Soviet experience. Taking advantage of long-forbidden archives in Moscow and beyond, Kotkin has written a biography of Stalin that surpasses those by Isaac Deutscher, Robert Conquest, Robert C. Tucker, and countless others.</p>
<p>Kotkin has a distinguished reputation in academic circles. He is a professor of history at Princeton University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, at Stanford University. He has myriad sources in various realms of contemporary Russia: government, business, culture. Both principled and pragmatic, he is also more plugged in than any reporter or analyst I know. Ever since we met in Moscow, many years ago—Kotkin was doing research on the Stalinist industrial city of Magnitogorsk—I’ve found his guidance on everything from the structure of the Putin regime to its roots in Russian history to be invaluable.</p>
<p>Earlier this week, I spoke with Kotkin about Putin, the invasion of Ukraine, the American and European response, and what comes next, including the possibility of a palace coup in Moscow. Our conversation, which appears in the video above, has been edited for length and clarity.</p>
<p><strong>We’ve been hearing voices both past and present saying that the reason for what has happened is, as George Kennan put it, the strategic blunder of the eastward expansion of NATO. The great-power realist-school historian John Mearsheimer insists that a great deal of the blame for what we’re witnessing must go to the United States. I thought we’d begin with your analysis of that argument.</strong></p>
<p>I have only the greatest respect for George Kennan. John Mearsheimer is a giant of a scholar. But I respectfully disagree. The problem with their argument is that it assumes that, had NATO not expanded, Russia wouldn’t be the same or very likely close to what it is today. What we have today in Russia is not some kind of surprise. It’s not some kind of deviation from a historical pattern. Way before NATO existed—in the nineteenth century—Russia looked like this: it had an autocrat. It had repression. It had militarism. It had suspicion of foreigners and the West. This is a Russia that we know, and it’s not a Russia that arrived yesterday or in the nineteen-nineties. It’s not a response to the actions of the West. There are internal processes in Russia that account for where we are today.</p>
<p>I would even go further. I would say that NATO expansion has put us in a better place to deal with this historical pattern in Russia that we’re seeing again today. Where would we be now if Poland or the Baltic states were not in NATO? They would be in the same limbo, in the same world that Ukraine is in. In fact, Poland’s membership in NATO stiffened NATO’s spine. Unlike some of the other NATO countries, Poland has contested Russia many times over. In fact, you can argue that Russia broke its teeth twice on Poland: first in the nineteenth century, leading up to the twentieth century, and again at the end of the Soviet Union, with Solidarity. So George Kennan was an unbelievably important scholar and practitioner—the greatest Russia expert who ever lived—but I just don’t think blaming the West is the right analysis for where we are.</p>
<p><strong>When you talk about the internal dynamics of Russia, it brings to mind a piece that you wrote for Foreign Affairs, six years ago, which began, “For half a millennium, Russian foreign policy has been characterized by soaring ambitions that have exceeded the country’s capabilities. Beginning with the reign of Ivan the Terrible in the sixteenth century, Russia managed to expand at an average rate of fifty square miles per day for hundreds of years, eventually covering one-sixth of the earth’s landmass.” You go on to describe three “fleeting moments” of Russian ascendancy: first during the reign of Peter the Great, then Alexander I’s victory over Napoleon, and then, of course, Stalin’s victory over Hitler. And then you say that, “these high-water marks aside, however, Russia has almost always been a relatively weak great power.” I wonder if you could expand on that and talk about how the internal dynamics of Russia have led to the present moment under Putin.</strong></p>
<p>We had this debate about Iraq. Was Iraq the way it was because of Saddam, or was Saddam the way he was because of Iraq? In other words, there’s the personality, which can’t be denied, but there are also structural factors that shape the personality. One of the arguments I made in my Stalin book was that being the dictator, being in charge of Russian power in the world in those circumstances and in that time period, made Stalin who he was and not the other way around.</p>
<p>Russia is a remarkable civilization: in the arts, music, literature, dance, film. In every sphere, it’s a profound, remarkable place—a whole civilization, more than just a country. At the same time, Russia feels that it has a “special place” in the world, a special mission. It’s Eastern Orthodox, not Western. And it wants to stand out as a great power. Its problem has always been not this sense of self or identity but the fact that its capabilities have never matched its aspirations. It’s always in a struggle to live up to these aspirations, but it can’t, because the West has always been more powerful.</p>
<p>Russia is a great power, but not the great power, except for those few moments in history that you just enumerated. In trying to match the West or at least manage the differential between Russia and the West, they resort to coercion. They use a very heavy state-centric approach to try to beat the country forward and upwards in order, militarily and economically, to either match or compete with the West. And that works for a time, but very superficially. Russia has a spurt of economic growth, and it builds up its military, and then, of course, it hits a wall. It then has a long period of stagnation where the problem gets worse. The very attempt to solve the problem worsens the problem, and the gulf with the West widens. The West has the technology, the economic growth, and the stronger military.</p>
<p>The worst part of this dynamic in Russian history is the conflation of the Russian state with a personal ruler. Instead of getting the strong state that they want, to manage the gulf with the West and push and force Russia up to the highest level, they instead get a personalist regime. They get a dictatorship, which usually becomes a despotism. They’ve been in this bind for a while because they cannot relinquish that sense of exceptionalism, that aspiration to be the greatest power, but they cannot match that in reality. Eurasia is just much weaker than the Anglo-American model of power. Iran, Russia, and China, with very similar models, are all trying to catch the West, trying to manage the West and this differential in power.</p>
<p><strong>What is Putinism? It’s not the same as Stalinism. It’s certainly not the same as Xi Jinping’s China or the regime in Iran. What are its special characteristics, and why would those special characteristics lead it to want to invade Ukraine, which seems a singularly stupid, let alone brutal, act?</strong></p>
<p>Yes, well, war usually is a miscalculation. It’s based upon assumptions that don’t pan out, things that you believe to be true or want to be true. Of course, this isn’t the same regime as Stalin’s or the tsar’s, either. There’s been tremendous change: urbanization, higher levels of education. The world outside has been transformed. And that’s the shock. The shock is that so much has changed, and yet we’re still seeing this pattern that they can’t escape from.</p>
<p>You have an autocrat in power—or even now a despot—making decisions completely by himself. Does he get input from others? Perhaps. We don’t know what the inside looks like. Does he pay attention? We don’t know. Do they bring him information that he doesn’t want to hear? That seems unlikely. Does he think he knows better than everybody else? That seems highly likely. Does he believe his own propaganda or his own conspiratorial view of the world? That also seems likely. These are surmises. Very few people talk to Putin, either Russians on the inside or foreigners.</p>
<p>And so we think, but we don’t know, that he is not getting the full gamut of information. He’s getting what he wants to hear. In any case, he believes that he’s superior and smarter. This is the problem of despotism. It’s why despotism, or even just authoritarianism, is all-powerful and brittle at the same time. Despotism creates the circumstances of its own undermining. The information gets worse. The sycophants get greater in number. The corrective mechanisms become fewer. And the mistakes become much more consequential.</p>
<p>Putin believed, it seems, that Ukraine is not a real country, and that the Ukrainian people are not a real people, that they are one people with the Russians. He believed that the Ukrainian government was a pushover. He believed what he was told or wanted to believe about his own military, that it had been modernized to the point where it could organize not a military invasion but a lightning coup, to take Kyiv in a few days and either install a puppet government or force the current government and President to sign some paperwork.</p>
<p>But think about the Prague Spring, in August, 1968. Leonid Brezhnev sent in the tanks of the Warsaw Pact to halt “socialism with a human face,” the communist reform movement of Alexander Dubček. Brezhnev kept telling Dubček, Stop it. Don’t do that. You’re ruining communism. And, if you don’t stop, we will come in. Brezhnev comes in, and they take Dubček and the other leaders of Czechoslovakia back to Moscow. They don’t have a puppet regime to install. In the Kremlin, Brezhnev is asking Dubček, after having sent the tanks in and capturing him, what should they do now? It looks ridiculous, and it was ridiculous. But, of course, it was based upon miscalculations and misunderstandings. And so they sent Dubček back to Czechoslovakia, and he stayed in power [until April, 1969], after the tanks had come in to crush the Prague Spring.</p>
<p>One other example is what happened in Afghanistan, in 1979. The Soviet Union did not invade Afghanistan. It did a coup in Afghanistan, sending special forces into the capital of Kabul. It murdered the Afghan leadership and installed a puppet, Babrak Karmal, who had been hiding in exile in Czechoslovakia. It was a total success because Soviet special forces were really good. But, of course, they decided they might need some security in Afghanistan for the new regime. So they sent in all sorts of Army regiments to provide security and ended up with an insurgency and with a ten-year war that they lost.</p>
<p>With Ukraine, we have the assumption that it could be a successful version of Afghanistan, and it wasn’t. It turned out that the Ukrainian people are brave; they are willing to resist and die for their country. Evidently, Putin didn’t believe that. But it turned out that “the television President,” Zelensky, who had a twenty-five-per-cent approval rating before the war—which was fully deserved, because he couldn’t govern—now it turns out that he has a ninety-one-per-cent approval rating. It turned out that he’s got cojones. He’s unbelievably brave. Moreover, having a TV-production company run a country is not a good idea in peacetime, but in wartime, when information war is one of your goals, it’s a fabulous thing to have in place.</p>
<p>The biggest surprise for Putin, of course, was the West. All the nonsense about how the West is decadent, the West is over, the West is in decline, how it’s a multipolar world and the rise of China, et cetera: all of that turned out to be bunk. The courage of the Ukrainian people and the bravery and smarts of the Ukrainian government, and its President, Zelensky, galvanized the West to remember who it was. And that shocked Putin! That’s the miscalculation.</p>
<p><strong>How do you define “the West”?</strong></p>
<p>The West is a series of institutions and values. The West is not a geographical place. Russia is European, but not Western. Japan is Western, but not European. “Western” means rule of law, democracy, private property, open markets, respect for the individual, diversity, pluralism of opinion, and all the other freedoms that we enjoy, which we sometimes take for granted. We sometimes forget where they came from. But that’s what the West is. And that West, which we expanded in the nineties, in my view properly, through the expansion of the European Union and NATO, is revived now, and it has stood up to Vladimir Putin in a way that neither he nor Xi Jinping expected.</p>
<p>If you assumed that the West was just going to fold, because it was in decline and ran from Afghanistan; if you assumed that the Ukrainian people were not for real, were not a nation; if you assumed that Zelensky was just a TV actor, a comedian, a Russian-speaking Jew from Eastern Ukraine—if you assumed all of that, then maybe you thought you could take Kyiv in two days or four days. But those assumptions were wrong.</p>
<p><strong>Let’s discuss the nature of the Russian regime. Putin came in twenty-three years ago, and there were figures called the oligarchs from the Yeltsin years, eight or nine of them. Putin read them the riot act, saying, You can keep your riches, but stay out of politics. Those who kept their nose in politics, like Mikhail Khodorkovsky, were punished, sent to prison. Others left the country with as much of their fortune as possible. But we still talk about oligarchs. What is the nature of the regime and the people who are loyal to it? Who is important?</strong></p>
<p>It’s a military-police dictatorship. Those are the people who are in power. In addition, it has a brilliant coterie of people who run macroeconomics. The central bank, the finance ministry, are all run on the highest professional level. That’s why Russia has this macroeconomic fortress, these foreign-currency reserves, the “rainy day” fund. It has reasonable inflation, a very balanced budget, very low state debt—twenty per cent of G.D.P., the lowest of any major economy. It had the best macroeconomic management.</p>
<p>So you have a military-police dictatorship in charge, with a macroeconomic team running your fiscal, military state. Those people are jockeying over who gets the upper hand. For macroeconomic stability, for economic growth, you need decent relations with the West. But, for the military security part of the regime, which is the dominant part, the West is your enemy, the West is trying to undermine you, it’s trying to overthrow your regime in some type of so-called color revolution. What happened is that the balance between those groups shifted more in favor of the military security people—let’s call it the thuggish part of the regime. And, of course, that’s where Putin himself comes from.</p>
<p>The oligarchs were never in power under Putin. He clipped their wings. They worked for him. If they didn’t work for him, they could lose their money. He rearranged the deck chairs. He gave out the money. He allowed expropriation by his own oligarchs, people who grew up with him, who did judo with him, who summered with him. The people who were in the K.G.B. with him in Leningrad back in the day, or in post-Soviet St. Petersburg—those people became oligarchs and expropriated the property to live the high life. Some of the early Yeltsin-era people were either expropriated, fled, or were forced out. Putin built a regime in which private property, once again, was dependent on the ruler. Everybody knew this. If they didn’t know, they learned the lesson the hard way.</p>
<p>Sadly, this encouraged people all up and down the regime to start stealing other people’s businesses and property. It became a kind of free-for-all. If it was good enough for Putin and his cronies, it’s good enough for me as the governor of Podunk province. The regime became more and more corrupt, less and less sophisticated, less and less trustworthy, less and less popular. It hollowed out. That’s what happens with dictatorships.</p>
<p><strong>But such people and such a regime, it seems to me, would care above all about wealth, about the high life, about power. Why would they care about Ukraine?</strong></p>
<p>It’s not clear that they do. We’re talking, at most, about six people, and certainly one person as the decision-maker. This is the thing about authoritarian regimes: they’re terrible at everything. They can’t feed their people. They can’t provide security for their people. They can’t educate their people. But they only have to be good at one thing to survive. If they can deny political alternatives, if they can force all opposition into exile or prison, they can survive, no matter how incompetent or corrupt or terrible they are.</p>
<p><strong>And yet, as corrupt as China is, they’ve lifted tens of millions of people out of extreme poverty. Education levels are rising. The Chinese leaders credit themselves with enormous achievements.</strong></p>
<p>Who did that? Did the Chinese regime do that? Or Chinese society? Let’s be careful not to allow the Chinese Communists to expropriate, as it were, the hard labor, the entrepreneurialism, the dynamism of millions and millions of people in that society. You know, in the Russian case, Navalny was arrested—</p>
<p><strong>This is Alexey Navalny, Putin’s most vivid political rival, who was poisoned by the F.S.B. and is now in prison.</strong></p>
<p>Yes. He was imprisoned in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine. In retrospect, it could well be that this was a preparation for the invasion, the way that Ahmad Shah Massoud, for example, was blown up in Northern Afghanistan [by Al Qaeda] right before the Twin Towers came down.</p>
<p>You have the denial of alternatives, the suppression of any opposition, arrest, exile, and then you can prosper as an élite, not with economic growth but just with theft. And, in Russia, wealth comes right up out of the ground! The problem for authoritarian regimes is not economic growth. The problem is how to pay the patronage for their élites, how to keep the élites loyal, especially the security services and the upper levels of the officer corps. If money just gushes out of the ground in the form of hydrocarbons or diamonds or other minerals, the oppressors can emancipate themselves from the oppressed. The oppressors can say, we don’t need you. We don’t need your taxes. We don’t need you to vote. We don’t rely on you for anything, because we have oil and gas, palladium and titanium. They can have zero economic growth and still live very high on the hog.</p>
<p>There’s never a social contract in an authoritarian regime, whereby the people say, O.K., we’ll take economic growth and a higher standard of living, and we’ll give up our freedom to you. There is no contract. The regime doesn’t provide the economic growth, and it doesn’t say, Oh, you know, we’re in violation of our promise. We promised economic growth in exchange for freedom, so we’re going to resign now because we didn’t fulfill the contract.</p>
<p><strong>What accounts for the “popularity” of an authoritarian regime like Putin’s?</strong></p>
<p>They have stories to tell. And, as you know, stories are always more powerful than secret police. Yes, they have secret police and regular police, too, and, yes, they’re serious people and they’re terrible in what they’re doing to those who are protesting the war, putting them in solitary confinement. This is a serious regime, not to be taken lightly. But they have stories. Stories about Russian greatness, about the revival of Russian greatness, about enemies at home and enemies abroad who are trying to hold Russia down. And they might be Jews or George Soros or the I.M.F. and NATO. They might be all sorts of enemies that you just pull right off the shelf, like a book.</p>
<p>We think of censorship as suppression of information, but censorship is also the active promotion of certain kinds of stories that will resonate with the people. The aspiration to be a great power, the aspiration to carry out a special mission in the world, the fear and suspicion that outsiders are trying to get them or bring them down: those are stories that work in Russia. They’re not for everybody. You know many Russians who don’t buy into that and know better. But the Putin version is powerful, and they promote it every chance they get.</p>
<p><strong>The West has decided, for obvious reasons, not to go to war with Russia, not to have a no-fly zone. Economic sanctions have proved more comprehensive and more powerful than maybe people had anticipated some weeks ago. But it seems that the people who these are aimed at most directly will be able to absorb them.</strong></p>
<p>Sanctions are a weapon that you use when you don’t want to fight a hot war because you’re facing a nuclear power. It’s one thing to bomb countries in the Middle East that don’t have nuclear weapons; it’s another thing to contemplate bombing Russia or China in the nuclear age. It’s understandable that economic sanctions, including really powerful ones, are the tools that we reach for.</p>
<p>We are also, however, arming the Ukrainians to the teeth. And there’s a great deal of stuff happening in the cyber realm that we don’t know anything about because the people who are talking don’t know, and the people who know are not talking. And there is quite a lot of armed conflict, thanks to the courage of the Ukrainians and the response and logistics of NATO, with Washington, of course, leading them.</p>
<p>We don’t know yet how the sanctions are going to work. The sanctions often inflict the greatest pain on the civilian population. Regimes can sometimes survive sanctions because they can just steal more internally. If you expropriate somebody’s bank account in London or Frankfurt or New York, well, there’s a source where that came from originally, and they can go back inside Russia and tap that source again, unfortunately. Putin doesn’t have money abroad that we can just sanction or expropriate. Putin’s money is the entire Russian economy. He doesn’t need to have a separate bank account, and he certainly wouldn’t keep it vulnerable in some Western country.</p>
<p>The biggest and most important sanctions are always about technology transfer. It’s a matter of starving them of high tech. If, over time, through the Commerce Department, you deny them American-made software, equipment, and products, which affects just about every important technology in the world, and you have a target and an enforceable mechanism for doing that, you can hurt this regime and create a technology desert.</p>
<p><strong>In the meantime, though, we saw what Russian forces did to Grozny in 1999-2000; we saw what they did to Aleppo. For Russia, if precision doesn’t work, they will decimate cities. That is what we’re seeing now in Kharkiv and in other parts of Ukraine. And it’s only just begun, potentially.</strong></p>
<p>Russia has a lot of weapons that they haven’t used yet, but there are a couple of factors here. First of all, Ukraine is winning this war only on Twitter, not on the battlefield. They’re not winning this war. Russia is advancing very well in the south, which is an extremely valuable place because of the Black Sea littoral and the ports. They are advancing in the east. If the southern and eastern advances meet up, they will encircle and cut off the main forces of the Ukrainian Army. What’s failed so far is the Russian attempt to take Kyiv in a lightning advance. Otherwise, their war is unfolding well. It’s only a couple of weeks in; wars last much longer.</p>
<p>But here are some of the considerations: after three or four weeks of war, you need a strategic pause. You have to refit your armor, resupply your ammo and fuel depots, fix your planes. You have to bring in reserves. There’s always a planned pause after about three to four weeks.</p>
<p>If Kyiv can hold out through that pause, then potentially it could hold out for longer than that, because it can be resupplied while the Russians are being resupplied during their pause. Moreover, the largest and most important consideration is that Russia cannot successfully occupy Ukraine. They do not have the scale of forces. They do not have the number of administrators they’d need or the coöperation of the population. They don’t even have a Quisling yet.</p>
<p>Think about all those Ukrainians who would continue to resist. The Nazis came into Kyiv, in 1940. They grabbed all the luxury hotels, but days later those hotels started to blow up. They were booby-trapped. If you’re an administrator or a military officer in occupied Ukraine and you order a cup of tea, are you going to drink that cup of tea? Do you want to turn the ignition on in your car? Are you going to turn the light switch on in your office? All it takes is a handful of assassinations to unsettle the whole occupation.</p>
<p><strong>Let’s take the story back to Moscow. We know the story of how Tsar Paul I was assassinated by people around him. Khrushchev was overthrown and replaced, eventually, by Brezhnev. Under Putin, is there any possibility of a palace coup?</strong></p>
<p>There is always a possibility of a palace coup. There are a couple of issues here. One is that [the West is] working overtime to entice a defection. We want a high-level security official or a military officer to get on a plane and fly to Helsinki or Brussels or Warsaw and hold a press conference and say, “I’m General So-and-So and I worked in the Putin regime and I oppose this war and I oppose this regime. And here’s what the inside of that regime looks like.”</p>
<p>At the same time, Putin is working overtime to prevent any such defection while our intelligence services are working overtime to entice just such a defection—not of cultural figures, not former politicians but current security and military officials inside the regime. This happened under Stalin, when General Genrikh Lyushkov of the secret police defected to the Japanese, in 1938, with Stalin’s military and security plans and a sense of the regime. He denounced him at a press conference in Tokyo.</p>
<p>So now we’re watching Moscow. What are the dynamics there with the regime? You have to remember that these regimes practice something called “negative selection.” You’re going to promote people to be editors, and you’re going to hire writers, because they’re talented; you’re not afraid if they’re geniuses. But, in an authoritarian regime, that’s not what they do. They hire people who are a little bit, as they say in Russian, tupoi, not very bright. They hire them precisely because they won’t be too competent, too clever, to organize a coup against them. Putin surrounds himself with people who are maybe not the sharpest tools in the drawer on purpose.</p>
<p>That does two things. It enables him to feel more secure, through all his paranoia, that they’re not clever enough to take him down. But it also diminishes the power of the Russian state because you have a construction foreman who’s the defense minister [Sergei Shoigu], and he was feeding Putin all sorts of nonsense about what they were going to do in Ukraine. Negative selection does protect the leader, but it also undermines his regime.</p>
<p>But, again, we have no idea what’s going on inside. We hear chatter. There’s a lot of amazing intelligence that we’re collecting, which is scaring the Chinese, making them worry: Do we have that level of penetration of their élites as well? But the chatter is by people who don’t have a lot of face time with Putin, talking about how he might be crazy. Always, when you miscalculate, when your assumptions are bad, people think you’re crazy. Putin pretends to be crazy in order to scare us and to gain leverage.</p>
<p><strong>Do you think that’s the case with this nuclear threat?</strong></p>
<p>I think there’s no doubt that this is what he’s trying to do. The problem is, we can’t assume it’s a bluff. We can’t assume it’s a pose of being crazy, because he has the capability; he can push the button.</p>
<p><strong>Steve, Sun Tzu, the Chinese theorist of war, wrote that you must always build your opponent a “golden bridge” so that he can find a way to retreat. Can the United States and NATO help build a way for Russia to end this horrific and murderous invasion before it grows even worse?</strong></p>
<p>You hit the nail on the head. That’s a brilliant quote. We have some options here. One option is he shatters Ukraine: if I can’t have it, nobody can have it, and he does to Ukraine what he did to Grozny or Syria. That would be an unbelievable, tragic outcome. That’s the pathway we’re on now.</p>
<p>Even if the Ukrainians succeed in their insurgency, in their resistance, there will be countless deaths and destruction. We need a way to avoid that kind of outcome. That would mean catalyzing a process to engage Putin in discussion with, say, the President of Finland, whom he respects and knows well, or the Israeli Prime Minister, who has been in contact with him; less probably, with the Chinese leadership, with Xi Jinping. Someone to engage him in some type of process where he doesn’t have maximalist demands and it stalls for time, for things to happen on the ground, that rearrange the picture of what he can do.</p>
<p>It’s not as if we’re not trying. The Finns know Russia better than any country in the world. Israel is another good option, potentially, depending on how skillful Naftali Bennett proves to be. And then China, the long shot, where they’re paying a heavy price and their élites below Xi Jinping understand that. There’s now quite a lot of worry inside the Chinese élites, but Xi Jinping is in charge and has a personal relationship with Putin. Xi has thrown in his lot with Putin. But how long that goes on depends upon whether the Europeans begin to punish the Chinese. The Europeans are their biggest trading partner.</p>
<p>The Chinese are watching this very closely. They’re watching (a) our intelligence penetration, (b) the mistakes of a despotism, and (c) the costs that you have to pay as the U.S. and European private companies cancel Russia up and down. Xi Jinping, who is heading for an unprecedented third term in the fall, needed this like a hole in the head. But now he owns it.</p>
<p>Finally, there’s another card that we’ve been trying to play: the Ukrainian resistance on the ground and our resupply of the Ukrainians in terms of arms and the sanctions. All of that could help change the calculus. Somehow, we have to keep at it with all the tools that we have—pressure but also diplomacy.</p>
<p><strong>Finally, you’ve given credit to the Biden Administration for reading out its intelligence about the coming invasion, for sanctions, and for a kind of mature response to what’s happening. What have they gotten wrong?</strong></p>
<p>They’ve done much better than we anticipated based upon what we saw in Afghanistan and the botched run-up on the deal to sell nuclear submarines to the Australians. They’ve learned from their mistakes. That’s the thing about the United States. We have corrective mechanisms. We can learn from our mistakes. We have a political system that punishes mistakes. We have strong institutions. We have a powerful society, a powerful and free media. Administrations that perform badly can learn and get better, which is not the case in Russia or in China. It’s an advantage that we can’t forget.</p>
<p>The problem now is not that the Biden Administration made mistakes; it’s that it’s hard to figure out how to de-escalate, how to get out of the spiral of mutual maximalism. We keep raising the stakes with more and more sanctions and cancellations. There is pressure on our side to “do something” because the Ukrainians are dying every day while we are sitting on the sidelines, militarily, in some ways. (Although, as I said, we’re supplying them with arms, and we’re doing a lot in cyber.) The pressure is on to be maximalist on our side, but, the more you corner them, the more there’s nothing to lose for Putin, the more he can raise the stakes, unfortunately. He has many tools that he hasn’t used that can hurt us. We need a de-escalation from the maximalist spiral, and we need a little bit of luck and good fortune, perhaps in Moscow, perhaps in Helsinki or Jerusalem, perhaps in Beijing, but certainly in Kyiv.</p>
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title: The Weakness of the Despot
url: https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/stephen-kotkin-putin-russia-ukraine-stalin
hash_url: 147b20ce875cacebd10f490f2690ce57

The shock is that so much has changed, and yet we’re still seeing this pattern that they can’t escape from,” the Russia expert Stephen Kotkin says.

Stephen Kotkin is one of our most profound and prodigious scholars of Russian history. His masterwork is a biography of Joseph Stalin. So far he has published two volumes—“Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and “Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941.” A third volume will take the story through the Second World War; Stalin’s death, in 1953; and the totalitarian legacy that shaped the remainder of the Soviet experience. Taking advantage of long-forbidden archives in Moscow and beyond, Kotkin has written a biography of Stalin that surpasses those by Isaac Deutscher, Robert Conquest, Robert C. Tucker, and countless others.

Kotkin has a distinguished reputation in academic circles. He is a professor of history at Princeton University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, at Stanford University. He has myriad sources in various realms of contemporary Russia: government, business, culture. Both principled and pragmatic, he is also more plugged in than any reporter or analyst I know. Ever since we met in Moscow, many years ago—Kotkin was doing research on the Stalinist industrial city of Magnitogorsk—I’ve found his guidance on everything from the structure of the Putin regime to its roots in Russian history to be invaluable.


Earlier this week, I spoke with Kotkin about Putin, the invasion of Ukraine, the American and European response, and what comes next, including the possibility of a palace coup in Moscow. Our conversation, which appears in the video above, has been edited for length and clarity.


**We’ve been hearing voices both past and present saying that the reason for what has happened is, as George Kennan put it, the strategic blunder of the eastward expansion of NATO. The great-power realist-school historian John Mearsheimer insists that a great deal of the blame for what we’re witnessing must go to the United States. I thought we’d begin with your analysis of that argument.**

I have only the greatest respect for George Kennan. John Mearsheimer is a giant of a scholar. But I respectfully disagree. The problem with their argument is that it assumes that, had NATO not expanded, Russia wouldn’t be the same or very likely close to what it is today. What we have today in Russia is not some kind of surprise. It’s not some kind of deviation from a historical pattern. Way before NATO existed—in the nineteenth century—Russia looked like this: it had an autocrat. It had repression. It had militarism. It had suspicion of foreigners and the West. This is a Russia that we know, and it’s not a Russia that arrived yesterday or in the nineteen-nineties. It’s not a response to the actions of the West. There are internal processes in Russia that account for where we are today.

I would even go further. I would say that NATO expansion has put us in a better place to deal with this historical pattern in Russia that we’re seeing again today. Where would we be now if Poland or the Baltic states were not in NATO? They would be in the same limbo, in the same world that Ukraine is in. In fact, Poland’s membership in NATO stiffened NATO’s spine. Unlike some of the other NATO countries, Poland has contested Russia many times over. In fact, you can argue that Russia broke its teeth twice on Poland: first in the nineteenth century, leading up to the twentieth century, and again at the end of the Soviet Union, with Solidarity. So George Kennan was an unbelievably important scholar and practitioner—the greatest Russia expert who ever lived—but I just don’t think blaming the West is the right analysis for where we are.

**When you talk about the internal dynamics of Russia, it brings to mind a piece that you wrote for Foreign Affairs, six years ago, which began, “For half a millennium, Russian foreign policy has been characterized by soaring ambitions that have exceeded the country’s capabilities. Beginning with the reign of Ivan the Terrible in the sixteenth century, Russia managed to expand at an average rate of fifty square miles per day for hundreds of years, eventually covering one-sixth of the earth’s landmass.” You go on to describe three “fleeting moments” of Russian ascendancy: first during the reign of Peter the Great, then Alexander I’s victory over Napoleon, and then, of course, Stalin’s victory over Hitler. And then you say that, “these high-water marks aside, however, Russia has almost always been a relatively weak great power.” I wonder if you could expand on that and talk about how the internal dynamics of Russia have led to the present moment under Putin.**

We had this debate about Iraq. Was Iraq the way it was because of Saddam, or was Saddam the way he was because of Iraq? In other words, there’s the personality, which can’t be denied, but there are also structural factors that shape the personality. One of the arguments I made in my Stalin book was that being the dictator, being in charge of Russian power in the world in those circumstances and in that time period, made Stalin who he was and not the other way around.

Russia is a remarkable civilization: in the arts, music, literature, dance, film. In every sphere, it’s a profound, remarkable place—a whole civilization, more than just a country. At the same time, Russia feels that it has a “special place” in the world, a special mission. It’s Eastern Orthodox, not Western. And it wants to stand out as a great power. Its problem has always been not this sense of self or identity but the fact that its capabilities have never matched its aspirations. It’s always in a struggle to live up to these aspirations, but it can’t, because the West has always been more powerful.

Russia is a great power, but not the great power, except for those few moments in history that you just enumerated. In trying to match the West or at least manage the differential between Russia and the West, they resort to coercion. They use a very heavy state-centric approach to try to beat the country forward and upwards in order, militarily and economically, to either match or compete with the West. And that works for a time, but very superficially. Russia has a spurt of economic growth, and it builds up its military, and then, of course, it hits a wall. It then has a long period of stagnation where the problem gets worse. The very attempt to solve the problem worsens the problem, and the gulf with the West widens. The West has the technology, the economic growth, and the stronger military.

The worst part of this dynamic in Russian history is the conflation of the Russian state with a personal ruler. Instead of getting the strong state that they want, to manage the gulf with the West and push and force Russia up to the highest level, they instead get a personalist regime. They get a dictatorship, which usually becomes a despotism. They’ve been in this bind for a while because they cannot relinquish that sense of exceptionalism, that aspiration to be the greatest power, but they cannot match that in reality. Eurasia is just much weaker than the Anglo-American model of power. Iran, Russia, and China, with very similar models, are all trying to catch the West, trying to manage the West and this differential in power.

**What is Putinism? It’s not the same as Stalinism. It’s certainly not the same as Xi Jinping’s China or the regime in Iran. What are its special characteristics, and why would those special characteristics lead it to want to invade Ukraine, which seems a singularly stupid, let alone brutal, act?**

Yes, well, war usually is a miscalculation. It’s based upon assumptions that don’t pan out, things that you believe to be true or want to be true. Of course, this isn’t the same regime as Stalin’s or the tsar’s, either. There’s been tremendous change: urbanization, higher levels of education. The world outside has been transformed. And that’s the shock. The shock is that so much has changed, and yet we’re still seeing this pattern that they can’t escape from.

You have an autocrat in power—or even now a despot—making decisions completely by himself. Does he get input from others? Perhaps. We don’t know what the inside looks like. Does he pay attention? We don’t know. Do they bring him information that he doesn’t want to hear? That seems unlikely. Does he think he knows better than everybody else? That seems highly likely. Does he believe his own propaganda or his own conspiratorial view of the world? That also seems likely. These are surmises. Very few people talk to Putin, either Russians on the inside or foreigners.

And so we think, but we don’t know, that he is not getting the full gamut of information. He’s getting what he wants to hear. In any case, he believes that he’s superior and smarter. This is the problem of despotism. It’s why despotism, or even just authoritarianism, is all-powerful and brittle at the same time. Despotism creates the circumstances of its own undermining. The information gets worse. The sycophants get greater in number. The corrective mechanisms become fewer. And the mistakes become much more consequential.

Putin believed, it seems, that Ukraine is not a real country, and that the Ukrainian people are not a real people, that they are one people with the Russians. He believed that the Ukrainian government was a pushover. He believed what he was told or wanted to believe about his own military, that it had been modernized to the point where it could organize not a military invasion but a lightning coup, to take Kyiv in a few days and either install a puppet government or force the current government and President to sign some paperwork.

But think about the Prague Spring, in August, 1968. Leonid Brezhnev sent in the tanks of the Warsaw Pact to halt “socialism with a human face,” the communist reform movement of Alexander Dubček. Brezhnev kept telling Dubček, Stop it. Don’t do that. You’re ruining communism. And, if you don’t stop, we will come in. Brezhnev comes in, and they take Dubček and the other leaders of Czechoslovakia back to Moscow. They don’t have a puppet regime to install. In the Kremlin, Brezhnev is asking Dubček, after having sent the tanks in and capturing him, what should they do now? It looks ridiculous, and it was ridiculous. But, of course, it was based upon miscalculations and misunderstandings. And so they sent Dubček back to Czechoslovakia, and he stayed in power [until April, 1969], after the tanks had come in to crush the Prague Spring.

One other example is what happened in Afghanistan, in 1979. The Soviet Union did not invade Afghanistan. It did a coup in Afghanistan, sending special forces into the capital of Kabul. It murdered the Afghan leadership and installed a puppet, Babrak Karmal, who had been hiding in exile in Czechoslovakia. It was a total success because Soviet special forces were really good. But, of course, they decided they might need some security in Afghanistan for the new regime. So they sent in all sorts of Army regiments to provide security and ended up with an insurgency and with a ten-year war that they lost.

With Ukraine, we have the assumption that it could be a successful version of Afghanistan, and it wasn’t. It turned out that the Ukrainian people are brave; they are willing to resist and die for their country. Evidently, Putin didn’t believe that. But it turned out that “the television President,” Zelensky, who had a twenty-five-per-cent approval rating before the war—which was fully deserved, because he couldn’t govern—now it turns out that he has a ninety-one-per-cent approval rating. It turned out that he’s got cojones. He’s unbelievably brave. Moreover, having a TV-production company run a country is not a good idea in peacetime, but in wartime, when information war is one of your goals, it’s a fabulous thing to have in place.

The biggest surprise for Putin, of course, was the West. All the nonsense about how the West is decadent, the West is over, the West is in decline, how it’s a multipolar world and the rise of China, et cetera: all of that turned out to be bunk. The courage of the Ukrainian people and the bravery and smarts of the Ukrainian government, and its President, Zelensky, galvanized the West to remember who it was. And that shocked Putin! That’s the miscalculation.

**How do you define “the West”?**

The West is a series of institutions and values. The West is not a geographical place. Russia is European, but not Western. Japan is Western, but not European. “Western” means rule of law, democracy, private property, open markets, respect for the individual, diversity, pluralism of opinion, and all the other freedoms that we enjoy, which we sometimes take for granted. We sometimes forget where they came from. But that’s what the West is. And that West, which we expanded in the nineties, in my view properly, through the expansion of the European Union and NATO, is revived now, and it has stood up to Vladimir Putin in a way that neither he nor Xi Jinping expected.

If you assumed that the West was just going to fold, because it was in decline and ran from Afghanistan; if you assumed that the Ukrainian people were not for real, were not a nation; if you assumed that Zelensky was just a TV actor, a comedian, a Russian-speaking Jew from Eastern Ukraine—if you assumed all of that, then maybe you thought you could take Kyiv in two days or four days. But those assumptions were wrong.

**Let’s discuss the nature of the Russian regime. Putin came in twenty-three years ago, and there were figures called the oligarchs from the Yeltsin years, eight or nine of them. Putin read them the riot act, saying, You can keep your riches, but stay out of politics. Those who kept their nose in politics, like Mikhail Khodorkovsky, were punished, sent to prison. Others left the country with as much of their fortune as possible. But we still talk about oligarchs. What is the nature of the regime and the people who are loyal to it? Who is important?**

It’s a military-police dictatorship. Those are the people who are in power. In addition, it has a brilliant coterie of people who run macroeconomics. The central bank, the finance ministry, are all run on the highest professional level. That’s why Russia has this macroeconomic fortress, these foreign-currency reserves, the “rainy day” fund. It has reasonable inflation, a very balanced budget, very low state debt—twenty per cent of G.D.P., the lowest of any major economy. It had the best macroeconomic management.

So you have a military-police dictatorship in charge, with a macroeconomic team running your fiscal, military state. Those people are jockeying over who gets the upper hand. For macroeconomic stability, for economic growth, you need decent relations with the West. But, for the military security part of the regime, which is the dominant part, the West is your enemy, the West is trying to undermine you, it’s trying to overthrow your regime in some type of so-called color revolution. What happened is that the balance between those groups shifted more in favor of the military security people—let’s call it the thuggish part of the regime. And, of course, that’s where Putin himself comes from.

The oligarchs were never in power under Putin. He clipped their wings. They worked for him. If they didn’t work for him, they could lose their money. He rearranged the deck chairs. He gave out the money. He allowed expropriation by his own oligarchs, people who grew up with him, who did judo with him, who summered with him. The people who were in the K.G.B. with him in Leningrad back in the day, or in post-Soviet St. Petersburg—those people became oligarchs and expropriated the property to live the high life. Some of the early Yeltsin-era people were either expropriated, fled, or were forced out. Putin built a regime in which private property, once again, was dependent on the ruler. Everybody knew this. If they didn’t know, they learned the lesson the hard way.

Sadly, this encouraged people all up and down the regime to start stealing other people’s businesses and property. It became a kind of free-for-all. If it was good enough for Putin and his cronies, it’s good enough for me as the governor of Podunk province. The regime became more and more corrupt, less and less sophisticated, less and less trustworthy, less and less popular. It hollowed out. That’s what happens with dictatorships.

**But such people and such a regime, it seems to me, would care above all about wealth, about the high life, about power. Why would they care about Ukraine?**

It’s not clear that they do. We’re talking, at most, about six people, and certainly one person as the decision-maker. This is the thing about authoritarian regimes: they’re terrible at everything. They can’t feed their people. They can’t provide security for their people. They can’t educate their people. But they only have to be good at one thing to survive. If they can deny political alternatives, if they can force all opposition into exile or prison, they can survive, no matter how incompetent or corrupt or terrible they are.

**And yet, as corrupt as China is, they’ve lifted tens of millions of people out of extreme poverty. Education levels are rising. The Chinese leaders credit themselves with enormous achievements.**

Who did that? Did the Chinese regime do that? Or Chinese society? Let’s be careful not to allow the Chinese Communists to expropriate, as it were, the hard labor, the entrepreneurialism, the dynamism of millions and millions of people in that society. You know, in the Russian case, Navalny was arrested—

**This is Alexey Navalny, Putin’s most vivid political rival, who was poisoned by the F.S.B. and is now in prison.**

Yes. He was imprisoned in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine. In retrospect, it could well be that this was a preparation for the invasion, the way that Ahmad Shah Massoud, for example, was blown up in Northern Afghanistan [by Al Qaeda] right before the Twin Towers came down.

You have the denial of alternatives, the suppression of any opposition, arrest, exile, and then you can prosper as an élite, not with economic growth but just with theft. And, in Russia, wealth comes right up out of the ground! The problem for authoritarian regimes is not economic growth. The problem is how to pay the patronage for their élites, how to keep the élites loyal, especially the security services and the upper levels of the officer corps. If money just gushes out of the ground in the form of hydrocarbons or diamonds or other minerals, the oppressors can emancipate themselves from the oppressed. The oppressors can say, we don’t need you. We don’t need your taxes. We don’t need you to vote. We don’t rely on you for anything, because we have oil and gas, palladium and titanium. They can have zero economic growth and still live very high on the hog.

There’s never a social contract in an authoritarian regime, whereby the people say, O.K., we’ll take economic growth and a higher standard of living, and we’ll give up our freedom to you. There is no contract. The regime doesn’t provide the economic growth, and it doesn’t say, Oh, you know, we’re in violation of our promise. We promised economic growth in exchange for freedom, so we’re going to resign now because we didn’t fulfill the contract.

**What accounts for the “popularity” of an authoritarian regime like Putin’s?**

They have stories to tell. And, as you know, stories are always more powerful than secret police. Yes, they have secret police and regular police, too, and, yes, they’re serious people and they’re terrible in what they’re doing to those who are protesting the war, putting them in solitary confinement. This is a serious regime, not to be taken lightly. But they have stories. Stories about Russian greatness, about the revival of Russian greatness, about enemies at home and enemies abroad who are trying to hold Russia down. And they might be Jews or George Soros or the I.M.F. and NATO. They might be all sorts of enemies that you just pull right off the shelf, like a book.

We think of censorship as suppression of information, but censorship is also the active promotion of certain kinds of stories that will resonate with the people. The aspiration to be a great power, the aspiration to carry out a special mission in the world, the fear and suspicion that outsiders are trying to get them or bring them down: those are stories that work in Russia. They’re not for everybody. You know many Russians who don’t buy into that and know better. But the Putin version is powerful, and they promote it every chance they get.

**The West has decided, for obvious reasons, not to go to war with Russia, not to have a no-fly zone. Economic sanctions have proved more comprehensive and more powerful than maybe people had anticipated some weeks ago. But it seems that the people who these are aimed at most directly will be able to absorb them.**

Sanctions are a weapon that you use when you don’t want to fight a hot war because you’re facing a nuclear power. It’s one thing to bomb countries in the Middle East that don’t have nuclear weapons; it’s another thing to contemplate bombing Russia or China in the nuclear age. It’s understandable that economic sanctions, including really powerful ones, are the tools that we reach for.

We are also, however, arming the Ukrainians to the teeth. And there’s a great deal of stuff happening in the cyber realm that we don’t know anything about because the people who are talking don’t know, and the people who know are not talking. And there is quite a lot of armed conflict, thanks to the courage of the Ukrainians and the response and logistics of NATO, with Washington, of course, leading them.

We don’t know yet how the sanctions are going to work. The sanctions often inflict the greatest pain on the civilian population. Regimes can sometimes survive sanctions because they can just steal more internally. If you expropriate somebody’s bank account in London or Frankfurt or New York, well, there’s a source where that came from originally, and they can go back inside Russia and tap that source again, unfortunately. Putin doesn’t have money abroad that we can just sanction or expropriate. Putin’s money is the entire Russian economy. He doesn’t need to have a separate bank account, and he certainly wouldn’t keep it vulnerable in some Western country.

The biggest and most important sanctions are always about technology transfer. It’s a matter of starving them of high tech. If, over time, through the Commerce Department, you deny them American-made software, equipment, and products, which affects just about every important technology in the world, and you have a target and an enforceable mechanism for doing that, you can hurt this regime and create a technology desert.

**In the meantime, though, we saw what Russian forces did to Grozny in 1999-2000; we saw what they did to Aleppo. For Russia, if precision doesn’t work, they will decimate cities. That is what we’re seeing now in Kharkiv and in other parts of Ukraine. And it’s only just begun, potentially.**

Russia has a lot of weapons that they haven’t used yet, but there are a couple of factors here. First of all, Ukraine is winning this war only on Twitter, not on the battlefield. They’re not winning this war. Russia is advancing very well in the south, which is an extremely valuable place because of the Black Sea littoral and the ports. They are advancing in the east. If the southern and eastern advances meet up, they will encircle and cut off the main forces of the Ukrainian Army. What’s failed so far is the Russian attempt to take Kyiv in a lightning advance. Otherwise, their war is unfolding well. It’s only a couple of weeks in; wars last much longer.

But here are some of the considerations: after three or four weeks of war, you need a strategic pause. You have to refit your armor, resupply your ammo and fuel depots, fix your planes. You have to bring in reserves. There’s always a planned pause after about three to four weeks.

If Kyiv can hold out through that pause, then potentially it could hold out for longer than that, because it can be resupplied while the Russians are being resupplied during their pause. Moreover, the largest and most important consideration is that Russia cannot successfully occupy Ukraine. They do not have the scale of forces. They do not have the number of administrators they’d need or the coöperation of the population. They don’t even have a Quisling yet.

Think about all those Ukrainians who would continue to resist. The Nazis came into Kyiv, in 1940. They grabbed all the luxury hotels, but days later those hotels started to blow up. They were booby-trapped. If you’re an administrator or a military officer in occupied Ukraine and you order a cup of tea, are you going to drink that cup of tea? Do you want to turn the ignition on in your car? Are you going to turn the light switch on in your office? All it takes is a handful of assassinations to unsettle the whole occupation.

**Let’s take the story back to Moscow. We know the story of how Tsar Paul I was assassinated by people around him. Khrushchev was overthrown and replaced, eventually, by Brezhnev. Under Putin, is there any possibility of a palace coup?**

There is always a possibility of a palace coup. There are a couple of issues here. One is that [the West is] working overtime to entice a defection. We want a high-level security official or a military officer to get on a plane and fly to Helsinki or Brussels or Warsaw and hold a press conference and say, “I’m General So-and-So and I worked in the Putin regime and I oppose this war and I oppose this regime. And here’s what the inside of that regime looks like.”

At the same time, Putin is working overtime to prevent any such defection while our intelligence services are working overtime to entice just such a defection—not of cultural figures, not former politicians but current security and military officials inside the regime. This happened under Stalin, when General Genrikh Lyushkov of the secret police defected to the Japanese, in 1938, with Stalin’s military and security plans and a sense of the regime. He denounced him at a press conference in Tokyo.

So now we’re watching Moscow. What are the dynamics there with the regime? You have to remember that these regimes practice something called “negative selection.” You’re going to promote people to be editors, and you’re going to hire writers, because they’re talented; you’re not afraid if they’re geniuses. But, in an authoritarian regime, that’s not what they do. They hire people who are a little bit, as they say in Russian, tupoi, not very bright. They hire them precisely because they won’t be too competent, too clever, to organize a coup against them. Putin surrounds himself with people who are maybe not the sharpest tools in the drawer on purpose.

That does two things. It enables him to feel more secure, through all his paranoia, that they’re not clever enough to take him down. But it also diminishes the power of the Russian state because you have a construction foreman who’s the defense minister [Sergei Shoigu], and he was feeding Putin all sorts of nonsense about what they were going to do in Ukraine. Negative selection does protect the leader, but it also undermines his regime.

But, again, we have no idea what’s going on inside. We hear chatter. There’s a lot of amazing intelligence that we’re collecting, which is scaring the Chinese, making them worry: Do we have that level of penetration of their élites as well? But the chatter is by people who don’t have a lot of face time with Putin, talking about how he might be crazy. Always, when you miscalculate, when your assumptions are bad, people think you’re crazy. Putin pretends to be crazy in order to scare us and to gain leverage.

**Do you think that’s the case with this nuclear threat?**

I think there’s no doubt that this is what he’s trying to do. The problem is, we can’t assume it’s a bluff. We can’t assume it’s a pose of being crazy, because he has the capability; he can push the button.

**Steve, Sun Tzu, the Chinese theorist of war, wrote that you must always build your opponent a “golden bridge” so that he can find a way to retreat. Can the United States and NATO help build a way for Russia to end this horrific and murderous invasion before it grows even worse?**

You hit the nail on the head. That’s a brilliant quote. We have some options here. One option is he shatters Ukraine: if I can’t have it, nobody can have it, and he does to Ukraine what he did to Grozny or Syria. That would be an unbelievable, tragic outcome. That’s the pathway we’re on now.

Even if the Ukrainians succeed in their insurgency, in their resistance, there will be countless deaths and destruction. We need a way to avoid that kind of outcome. That would mean catalyzing a process to engage Putin in discussion with, say, the President of Finland, whom he respects and knows well, or the Israeli Prime Minister, who has been in contact with him; less probably, with the Chinese leadership, with Xi Jinping. Someone to engage him in some type of process where he doesn’t have maximalist demands and it stalls for time, for things to happen on the ground, that rearrange the picture of what he can do.

It’s not as if we’re not trying. The Finns know Russia better than any country in the world. Israel is another good option, potentially, depending on how skillful Naftali Bennett proves to be. And then China, the long shot, where they’re paying a heavy price and their élites below Xi Jinping understand that. There’s now quite a lot of worry inside the Chinese élites, but Xi Jinping is in charge and has a personal relationship with Putin. Xi has thrown in his lot with Putin. But how long that goes on depends upon whether the Europeans begin to punish the Chinese. The Europeans are their biggest trading partner.

The Chinese are watching this very closely. They’re watching (a) our intelligence penetration, (b) the mistakes of a despotism, and (c) the costs that you have to pay as the U.S. and European private companies cancel Russia up and down. Xi Jinping, who is heading for an unprecedented third term in the fall, needed this like a hole in the head. But now he owns it.

Finally, there’s another card that we’ve been trying to play: the Ukrainian resistance on the ground and our resupply of the Ukrainians in terms of arms and the sanctions. All of that could help change the calculus. Somehow, we have to keep at it with all the tools that we have—pressure but also diplomacy.

**Finally, you’ve given credit to the Biden Administration for reading out its intelligence about the coming invasion, for sanctions, and for a kind of mature response to what’s happening. What have they gotten wrong?**

They’ve done much better than we anticipated based upon what we saw in Afghanistan and the botched run-up on the deal to sell nuclear submarines to the Australians. They’ve learned from their mistakes. That’s the thing about the United States. We have corrective mechanisms. We can learn from our mistakes. We have a political system that punishes mistakes. We have strong institutions. We have a powerful society, a powerful and free media. Administrations that perform badly can learn and get better, which is not the case in Russia or in China. It’s an advantage that we can’t forget.

The problem now is not that the Biden Administration made mistakes; it’s that it’s hard to figure out how to de-escalate, how to get out of the spiral of mutual maximalism. We keep raising the stakes with more and more sanctions and cancellations. There is pressure on our side to “do something” because the Ukrainians are dying every day while we are sitting on the sidelines, militarily, in some ways. (Although, as I said, we’re supplying them with arms, and we’re doing a lot in cyber.) The pressure is on to be maximalist on our side, but, the more you corner them, the more there’s nothing to lose for Putin, the more he can raise the stakes, unfortunately. He has many tools that he hasn’t used that can hurt us. We need a de-escalation from the maximalist spiral, and we need a little bit of luck and good fortune, perhaps in Moscow, perhaps in Helsinki or Jerusalem, perhaps in Beijing, but certainly in Kyiv.

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<p><em><span>Alexey Sakhnin (Алексей Сахнин) est l’un des visages de la gauche russe. Né aux débuts des années 1980, il a été l’un des cadres du Front de gauche (<span class="lang-ru" lang="ru">Левый фронт</span>) : u</span></em><span><em>ne impor­tante coa­li­tion liée au Parti com­mu­niste russe, fon­dée en 2008 et ouver­te­ment oppo­sée au pou­voir de Vladimir Poutine<span class>. L’objectif du Front est <span class="goog-text-highlight">de bâtir une « </span></span></em><span class><span class="goog-text-highlight">alter­na­tive pro­gres­siste à la bar­ba­rie capi­ta­liste</span></span><em><span class><span class="goog-text-highlight"> », autre­ment dit de </span></span></em><span class><span class="goog-text-highlight">« </span></span><span class><span class="goog-text-highlight">construire une socié­té socia­liste juste</span></span><em><span class><span class="goog-text-highlight"> ». </span></span></em></span><span><em>En 2012, Sakhnin obte­nait l’a­sile poli­tique en Suède ; sept ans plus tard, il était de retour dans son pays natal. Depuis l’in­va­sion de l’Ukraine, il vit sous la menace per­ma­nente d’une arres­ta­tion : c’est que le mili­tant s’é­lève haut et fort contre cette « </em>agres­sion armée d’une ampleur sans pré­cé­dent ». <em>Il vient de quit­ter son par­ti, après la déci­sion de ce der­nier d’ap­prou­ver majo­ri­tai­re­ment la guerre. « </em>Nous avons réel­le­ment besoin d’un front des peuples pour la paix, l’égalité, la liber­té et le socia­lisme. Malheureusement, pour construire ce monde et ce front, il fau­dra par­tir de zéro<em> », a indi­qué Alexey Sakhnin dans son com­mu­ni­qué de départ. Malgré la cen­sure gou­ver­ne­men­tale, nous avons pu échan­ger avec lui de vive voix.<br>
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</noscript>Vous venez de cla­quer la porte du Front de gauche de Russie.</span><br>
</strong></p>
<p>Oui. Depuis deux semaines, nous sommes entrés dans un nou­veau contexte. Mes cama­rades et moi-même avons tou­jours été en contra­dic­tion avec l’opposition russe libé­rale. Maintenant, nous sommes face à une grande guerre et il n’y a plus aucune place pour ce débat. La seule ques­tion qui se pose est la sui­vante : com­ment stop­per cette guerre, sans attendre pas­si­ve­ment que la Russie l’emporte sur l’armée ukrai­nienne ? Le Front de gauche a tou­jours col­la­bo­ré avec le<a href="https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parti_communiste_de_la_f%C3%A9d%C3%A9ration_de_Russie"> Parti com­mu­niste russe</a> pour occu­per une place ins­ti­tu­tion­nelle — non sans grandes dif­fi­cul­tés. Certains diri­geants et mili­tants du <span class="caps">PC</span> reven­diquent un « patrio­tisme de gauche » : ça ne me pose­rait pas for­cé­ment pro­blème si ça ne confi­nait pas, par­fois, au chau­vi­nisme héri­té du sovié­tisme (« Il n’y a pas de nation ukrai­nienne »). Les com­mu­nistes ont été très actifs dans les mou­ve­ments sociaux de 2018–2019<sup></sup> et dans nos cam­pagnes élec­to­rales, c’est pour­quoi ils par­ti­cipent à la direc­tion du Front de gauche. Quand la guerre a été décla­rée, j’ai pro­po­sé de rédi­ger et de publier un texte clair pour s’y oppo­ser : à ma sur­prise, ça a pro­vo­qué une forte résis­tance dans nos rangs. La majo­ri­té pré­fé­rait ne faire aucune décla­ra­tion, en atten­dant que « la situa­tion devienne plus claire ». Nous avons alors pro­po­sé un texte déve­lop­pant notre posi­tion. D’autres membres ont pré­fé­ré « une posi­tion de com­pro­mis » : un long texte s’attardant sur la com­plexi­té du contexte géo­po­li­tique, sur l’histoire des rela­tions rus­so-ukrai­niennes, etc. Ce, tout en omet­tant le fait cen­tral : Vladimir Poutine a ordon­né à l’armée russe d’aller détruire des villes ukrai­niennes et des mil­liers de civils ukrai­niens paci­fiques. Pire, ce texte défen­dait la thèse selon laquelle Russes et Ukrainiens devraient com­battre ensemble le régime libé­ral de Kiev.</p>
<p><span><strong>Comment com­prendre cette position ?</strong></span></p>
<blockquote>
<p>« Vladimir Poutine a ordon­né à l’armée russe d’aller détruire des villes ukrai­niennes et des mil­liers de civils ukrai­niens pacifiques. »</p>
</blockquote>
<p>Elle est hon­teuse. Et elle s’explique lar­ge­ment, à mon avis, par la peur du régime russe et par l’incapacité morale des géné­ra­tions ayant gran­di dans l’imaginaire de la Seconde Guerre mon­diale à recon­naître que leur propre pays est l’agresseur. Malheureusement, la majo­ri­té du Front de gauche a choi­si cette option : cette coa­li­tion a donc explo­sé. J’ai pas­sé dix-sept ans de ma vie comme l’un des lea­ders de ce front. Nous avons mené des batailles poli­tiques — les mani­fes­ta­tions de 2012 ; nous avons été arrê­tés et empri­son­nés ; nous avons com­mis des erreurs, ren­con­tré des dif­fi­cul­tés, connu des suc­cès ; j’ai fait l’ex­pé­rience, pen­dant six ans, de la condi­tion de réfu­gié poli­tique à l’étranger. <a href="https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergue%C3%AF_Oudaltsov">Sergueï Oudaltsov </a>[<em>oppo­sant à Vladimir Poutine et pré­sident du Front de gauche, ndlr</em>] défend la mau­vaise posi­tion, mais ça n’enlève rien au fait qu’il ait été empri­son­né sans rai­son pen­dant cinq années.</p>
<p><span><strong>Vous atten­diez-vous à ce que le gou­ver­ne­ment russe enva­hisse l’Ukraine ?<br>
</strong></span></p>
<p>J’ai été vrai­ment sur­pris — comme tous les gens de gauche dans le monde, comme tous les gens de bon sens, comme tous les défen­seurs de la paix. Les élites russes et la classe diri­geante ne vou­laient pas de cette guerre. Si on s’en tient à leurs seuls inté­rêts égoïstes, la guerre est un choix irra­tion­nel. L’historienne amé­ri­caine <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_W._Tuchman">Barbara W. Tuchman</a> a décrit les méca­nismes qui ont conduit au déclen­che­ment de la Première Guerre mon­diale : per­sonne ne vou­lait la guerre mais la guerre était la seule issue pos­sible pour les pro­ta­go­nistes en pré­sence. La guerre devait iné­luc­ta­ble­ment écla­ter car aucune des crises mon­diales du capi­ta­lisme depuis trois cents ans ne s’est sol­dée autre­ment… Mais je n’avais pas anti­ci­pé qu’elle se déclen­che­rait maintenant.</p>
<div id="attachment_93989" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-93989" class="wp-image-93989 size-full" src="" alt data-lazy-srcset="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14.jpg 960w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14-300x188.jpg 300w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14-150x94.jpg 150w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14-768x480.jpg 768w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14-700x438.jpg 700w" data-lazy-sizes="(max-width: 960px) 100vw, 960px" data-lazy-src="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14.jpg"><noscript><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-93989" class="wp-image-93989 size-full" src="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14.jpg" alt srcset="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14.jpg 960w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14-300x188.jpg 300w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14-150x94.jpg 150w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14-768x480.jpg 768w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14-700x438.jpg 700w" sizes="(max-width: 960px) 100vw, 960px"></noscript><p id="caption-attachment-93989" class="wp-caption-text">[Forces russes, 18 février 2022 | VCG]</p></div>
<p><span><strong>Comment inter­pré­tez-vous l’ar­gu­ment pou­ti­nien d’une guerre visant à « déna­zi­fier » l’Ukraine ?</strong></span></p>
<p>C’est tota­le­ment vide de sens. Il est vrai que, depuis huit ans, le régime ukrai­nien déploie une pro­pa­gande natio­na­liste. Il est vrai qu’il existe des groupes para­mi­li­taires d’extrême droite et que des réseaux d’extrême droite se retrouvent au cœur des forces de sécu­ri­té, des ser­vices secrets, etc. Mais le gou­ver­ne­ment russe a main­te­nu avec l’Ukraine, durant toute cette période, de pro­fi­tables échanges com­mer­ciaux. Certains des héros du <a href="https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifestations_au_printemps_2014_en_Ukraine">« Printemps russe » </a>[Ру́сская весна́]<sup></sup>, des acti­vistes pro-russes de l’est ukrai­nien, ont été arrê­tés en Russie et ren­voyés en Ukraine. Maintenant, Poutine répète que l’« opé­ra­tion spé­ciale », comme il l’appelle — nous n’avons pas le droit de pro­non­cer le mot « guerre » —, est gui­dée par la lutte contre le natio­na­lisme et l’extrême droite. Mais la Russie elle-même penche<span> </span>vers l’extrême droite ! Le gou­ver­ne­ment russe dépense beau­coup d’argent pour faire de la pro­pa­gande anti­so­vié­tique d’un point de vue natio­na­liste et conser­va­teur. Je vous invite à regar­der les fils natio­na­listes sur Telegram… User de la rhé­to­rique de la « déna­zi­fi­ca­tion » de l’Ukraine pour jus­ti­fier cette guerre n’a aucun sens.</p>
<p><span><strong>Les gauches occi­den­tales sont divi­sées sur les res­pon­sa­bi­li­tés de l’OTAN dans ce conflit et son esca­lade. Pensez-vous que la prise en compte des res­pon­sa­bi­li­tés de l’Alliance pour­rait conduire à rela­ti­vi­ser celles de la Russie ?</strong></span></p>
<blockquote>
<p>« L’<span class="caps">OTAN</span>, les États-Unis et les poli­ti­ciens de droite en Europe ont fait tout ce qui était en leur pou­voir pour mettre de l’huile sur le feu. »</p>
</blockquote>
<p>L’<span class="caps">OTAN</span>, les États-Unis et les poli­ti­ciens de droite en Europe ont fait tout ce qui était en leur pou­voir pour mettre de l’huile sur le feu. Bien sûr, les extré­mistes éta­su­niens sont ravis de la pers­pec­tive de voir l’Ukraine deve­nir un nou­vel Afghanistan. Mais il est poli­ti­que­ment et mora­le­ment impos­sible de défendre l’invasion russe en rai­son de ces intrigues. Ceux qui sont ten­tés d’user d’une telle argu­men­ta­tion prennent le risque de se rendre com­plices d’une entre­prise impé­ria­liste cri­mi­nelle et san­glante. Même du point de vue des inté­rêts natio­naux de la Russie, cette guerre ins­talle une situa­tion bien pire. Le natio­na­lisme russe lui-même est aujourd’­hui tra­ver­sé de contra­dic­tions. Poutine disait que des mis­siles tirés de Kharkov [<em>deuxième plus grande ville d’Ukraine, ndlr</em>] pour­raient tou­cher la Russie en six minutes. Or Kharkov est à la même dis­tance de la Russie que les pays baltes. En rai­son de cette guerre, il y aura désor­mais des mis­siles à six minutes de la Russie dans les pays baltes alors que ce n’était pas le cas pré­cé­dem­ment. Des forces poli­tiques euro­péennes (de gauche, du centre, de droite) s’opposaient à ce que le bud­get mili­taire de leur pays atteigne 2 % du <span class="caps">PIB</span> comme le pré­co­nise l’<span class="caps">OTAN</span> : désor­mais, l’Ouest est uni sur l’enjeu mili­taire. Les défen­seurs de la paix res­tent, eux, sans argu­ments. Poutine a atta­qué sans pro­vo­ca­tion objec­tive. La ques­tion s’impose : pour­quoi l’a‑t-il fait, alors que de telles consé­quences étaient prévisibles ?</p>
<p><span><strong>Vous avez une idée ?</strong></span></p>
<p>J’ai une théo­rie. Tout au long de la pan­dé­mie de coro­na­vi­rus en 2020, Poutine fai­sait extrê­me­ment atten­tion. Il s’est iso­lé dans son bun­ker. Certains médias occi­den­taux l’ont ana­ly­sé comme une dépres­sion à l’origine de sa sup­po­sée folie actuelle. Cette hypo­thèse est trop simple. Il n’était pas tota­le­ment iso­lé : il a certes renon­cé à ses contacts régu­liers avec la classe diri­geante, avec les oli­garques — ceux qui sou­hai­taient le ren­con­trer devaient aupa­ra­vant obser­ver trois semaines de qua­ran­taine. Mais il com­mu­ni­quait quo­ti­dien­ne­ment avec des aides de camp, des hommes des ser­vices secrets qui ont entre­te­nu autour de lui une atmo­sphère conspi­ra­tion­niste. C’est dans cette période que s’est fomen­tée cette inva­sion, peut-être pas comme un plan A, mais comme un plan B. Cette inva­sion obéit à une ratio­na­li­té : Poutine avait clai­re­ment en tête l’idée selon laquelle une rup­ture défi­ni­tive avec l’Ouest serait syno­nyme de catas­trophe, de menaces inédites pour la Russie. Avant la guerre, cha­cun spé­cu­lait sur l’après-Poutine en 2024 : com­ment assu­rer la conti­nui­té du régime ? Tout le monde entre­voyait une crise, à l’image de celle qu’a tra­ver­sé la Biélorussie voi­là deux ans : Moscou 2024 res­sem­ble­rait à Minsk 2020. C’est ici que l’Ukraine entre en jeu. Imaginons que dans une telle situa­tion d’instabilité interne, l’Ukraine ait atta­qué le Donbass… De façon plus géné­rale, l’Ukraine est source de divi­sions per­ma­nentes au cœur même de la classe dirigeante.</p>
<div id="attachment_93988" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-93988" class="wp-image-93988 size-full" src="" alt data-lazy-srcset="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13.jpg 960w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13-300x188.jpg 300w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13-150x94.jpg 150w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13-768x480.jpg 768w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13-700x438.jpg 700w" data-lazy-sizes="(max-width: 960px) 100vw, 960px" data-lazy-src="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13.jpg"><noscript><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-93988" class="wp-image-93988 size-full" src="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13.jpg" alt srcset="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13.jpg 960w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13-300x188.jpg 300w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13-150x94.jpg 150w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13-768x480.jpg 768w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13-700x438.jpg 700w" sizes="(max-width: 960px) 100vw, 960px"></noscript><p id="caption-attachment-93988" class="wp-caption-text">[Ligne de front, Kiev, 3 mars 2022 | Aris Messinis | AFP | Getty Images]</p></div>
<p>Les offi­ciers des ser­vices secrets entou­rant Poutine se fichent com­plè­te­ment des gens, du peuple — à la dif­fé­rence des diri­geants civils obli­gés de recou­rir à la pro­pa­gande, à la mani­pu­la­tion pour impo­ser leurs choix. Tous ces bureau­crates éva­luent, dis­cutent les oppor­tu­ni­tés qui se pré­sentent à eux : « Ne devrait-on pas reve­nir à un diri­geant plus libé­ral, ouvert à l’Ouest ? » Poutine a essayé pen­dant huit ans de les unir à tra­vers un com­pro­mis com­mer­cial avec l’Ouest. Si l’Ouest isole la Russie, il faut une « res­pon­sa­bi­li­té mutuelle » entre le régime et les oli­garques. Toutes les élites poli­tiques, admi­nis­tra­tives, mili­taires et éco­no­miques russes ont don­né leur impri­ma­tur à une déci­sion qui ne pour­ra jamais être excu­sée par l’Ouest. Ils n’ont plus qu’une alter­na­tive : sou­te­nir Poutine ou prendre le risque de finir devant la Cour pénale inter­na­tio­nale. Poutine, de son côté, obéit à une ratio­na­li­té auto­cra­tique : l’invasion de l’Ukraine lui per­met de gar­der le pou­voir en Russie.</p>
<p><strong><span>Parlez-nous de la répres­sion qui frappe les mani­fes­tants anti­guerre en Russie.</span></strong></p>
<blockquote>
<p>« Le régime russe évo­luait depuis long­temps vers une dic­ta­ture. Aujourd’hui il a fait un grand bond dans cette direc­tion. La police a carte blanche. »</p>
</blockquote>
<p>Le régime russe évo­luait depuis long­temps vers une dic­ta­ture. Aujourd’hui il a fait un grand bond dans cette direc­tion. La guerre signi­fie tou­jours, en interne, la pri­son, la des­truc­tion des liber­tés. À ce jour, le but prin­ci­pal de la répres­sion et de la rhé­to­rique publique qui l’entoure est de rendre l’atmosphère effrayante, et ils réus­sissent très bien à le faire. L’appareil répres­sif manque d’effectifs mais ils entendent semer l’effroi : voi­là pour­quoi la police a carte blanche. Il y a deux jours, dans une mani­fes­ta­tion, une femme a été arrê­tée pour avoir fil­mé l’événement. Un poli­cier l’a frap­pée en lui disant : « Poutine nous laisse faire ce qu’on veut de vous, nation de traîtres, on vous frap­pe­ra, on vous tor­tu­re­ra, on vous vio­le­ra. » C’est exac­te­ment ce qu’ils veulent : nous cho­quer, nous faire res­sen­tir la peur.</p>
<p><span><strong>Votre oppo­si­tion publique vous place dans une situa­tion dan­ge­reuse. Dans quel état d’es­prit êtes-vous, à l’heure où nous parlons ?</strong></span></p>
<p>Je suis comme tout le monde : j’ai peur. Je n’ai pas de visa et, de toute façon, quit­ter la Russie est qua­si­ment impos­sible — ou tout au moins très dif­fi­cile. Je ne veux pas lais­ser ici mes cama­rades, mes amis, mon pays, ma famille. Mais c’est vrai, je ne me sens pas très bien. J’ai par­lé à visage décou­vert ; j’ai, dès les pre­miers jours, écrit un texte anti­guerre ; j’ai pris la parole dans quelques mani­fes­ta­tions ; j’ai écrit tant que c’était encore pos­sible dans les médias, puis sur les réseaux sociaux. J’ai don­né des entre­tiens à des médias occi­den­taux ; j’ai par­lé lors d’un mee­ting de La France insou­mise. Assez pour éco­per d’une lourde peine de pri­son. Ce que je ne sou­haite évi­dem­ment pas.</p>
<p><strong><span>Quel est le sen­ti­ment domi­nant, selon vous, dans l’o­pi­nion russe ?</span></strong></p>
<p>La situa­tion géné­rale est que la majo­ri­té ne sup­porte pas la guerre. La moi­tié de la popu­la­tion a dans un pre­mier temps tout fait pour s’accrocher à l’illusion que ce n’était pas une guerre, que c’était une opé­ra­tion de libé­ra­tion de l’Ukraine, que nous aidions nos amis, que ça allait finir très vite, demain. Mais l’humeur change très rapi­de­ment et le camp de l’opposition à la guerre est loin de se résu­mer à une mino­ri­té pro-occi­den­tale appar­te­nant aux classes moyennes. Le but des auto­ri­tés est de nous bâillon­ner. C’est pour ça qu’elles ont inter­dit tous les médias d’opposition (y com­pris les médias d’op­po­si­tion libé­raux que je cri­tique depuis des années). J’ai tou­jours pen­sé que deux points de vue, même mau­vais, c’est tou­jours mieux qu’un seul.… Tout le monde, et je m’y inclus, vit dans la peur. Nous essayons de conti­nuer à nous expri­mer à tra­vers Telegram, qui est plus ou moins la der­nière pla­te­forme dis­po­nible pour par­ler à tous ceux aux­quels on peut par­ler. Et, au-delà des argu­ments sur le carac­tère injuste et san­glant de cette guerre, nous aler­tons sur la catas­trophe éco­no­mique et sociale qui s’esquisse déjà. McDonald’s vient d’annoncer la fer­me­ture de ses 850 res­tau­rants en Russie. À la chute de l’Union sovié­tique, son implan­ta­tion avait été célé­brée comme le signe d’une époque nou­velle : elle est bel et bien révo­lue. 62 000 sala­riés se retrouvent sur le car­reau. L’économie russe est prise dans les mailles des échanges mon­diaux. Une grande menace plane sur des dizaines de grandes usines qui vont être mises à l’arrêt — c’est déjà le cas pour cer­taines d’entre elles. Le rouble a per­du la moi­tié de sa valeur ; des mil­lions de per­sonnes vont devoir affron­ter des situa­tions tra­giques, com­pa­rables à celles qui pré­va­laient au début des années 1990, <a href="https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%A9rapie_de_choc_(%C3%A9conomie)">au moment de la « thé­ra­pie de choc »</a>. À l’époque, un modèle éco­no­mique s’est impo­sé avec la pro­messe de garan­tir, en contre­par­tie, la paix et la sta­bi­li­té. Désormais nous avons la guerre et les années 1990 reviennent.</p>
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</noscript><p id="caption-attachment-93990" class="wp-caption-text">[Arrestation d'un citoyen russe brandissant le message "Pas de guerre avec l'Ukraine ! Poutine doit démissionner !", Moscou, 24 février 2022 | Kirill Kudryavtsev | AFP | Getty Images]</p></div>
<p><span><strong>Quelles sont <span>jus­te­ment </span>les consé­quences des sanc­tions éta­su­niennes et euro­péennes sur les citoyens russes ordinaires ?</strong></span></p>
<p>Ça fait seule­ment deux semaines : les pro­blèmes les plus graves sont devant nous… Mais les effets se font déjà res­sen­tir et, bien sûr, le peuple est affec­té. Les médias n’évoquent pas la guerre mais ils parlent de l’augmentation des prix. Celui des couches pour bébé a dou­blé. Les gens doivent se rui­ner pour en ache­ter. Les ser­vices funé­raires sont deve­nus inabor­dables. Même mou­rir est deve­nu trop cher… Mais vivre coûte très cher éga­le­ment. Les prix des den­rées ali­men­taires ont grim­pé de 40, 50, voire 70 %. Le sucre a dis­pa­ru de la plu­part des étals. Certaines chaînes de maga­sins inter­disent d’acheter plus de deux pains. Je n’ai ces­sé d’entendre ces trente der­nières années que les pénu­ries étaient le symp­tôme du com­mu­nisme, que c’était le résul­tat de l’économie com­mu­niste cen­tra­li­sée et pla­ni­fiée. Et voi­là que nous avons des pénu­ries énormes. Les maga­sins sont à moi­tié vides.</p>
<p><span><strong>Il y a quelques jours, <span><a href="https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergue%C3%AF_Lavrov">Sergueï Lavrov</a></span>, le chef de la diplo­ma­tie russe, a aver­ti qu’« <em>une Troisième Guerre mon­diale</em> », si elle devait avoir lieu, serait «<em> une guerre nucléaire dévas­ta­trice</em> ». L’entendez-vous comme une menace ?</strong></span></p>
<blockquote>
<p>« Au début d’une guerre, c’est tou­jours dif­fi­cile : l’hystérie natio­na­liste l’emporte dans tous les camps. Elle se mani­feste en Russie comme en Europe. »</p>
</blockquote>
<p>Ça sonne comme une menace. Le 18 octobre 2018, à Sotchi, Vladimir Poutine avait déjà pré­ve­nu que la Russie n’hésiterait pas à recou­rir à l’arme nucléaire. « <em>Nous ne ripos­te­rons que lorsque nous serons cer­tains que nous sommes atta­qués. Ce sera une catas­trophe, mais nous n’en aurons pas été les ini­tia­teurs. Les agres­seurs doit savoir que nous, en tant que mar­tyrs, irons au para­dis, tan­dis qu’ils mour­ront sim­ple­ment sans avoir le temps de se repen­tir</em> », <a href="https://www.gazeta.ru/politics/2018/10/18_a_12026407.shtml">avait-il affir­mé</a>. J’espère que nous n’en sommes aujourd’hui qu’au stade de la menace. Pour l’instant, ils affirment qu’ils ne veulent pas appuyer sur le bou­ton rouge. Mais ils ont ce bou­ton rouge à dis­po­si­tion. Et il y a de moins en moins de solu­tions dans ce monde mou­rant de l’hypocrisie néo­li­bé­rale. Oui, nous vivons dans la menace gran­dis­sante de l’apocalypse. Mais l’es­sen­tiel pour les mili­tants de gauche et les consciences atta­chées à la jus­tice, c’est d’ap­prendre de ces menaces ter­ribles : ce n’est pas une bonne idée de croire qu’on pour­rait faire plier la Russie de Poutine avec des chars et des mis­siles. La vic­toire sur Poutine vien­dra de l’intérieur. Cette guerre n’est pas une guerre entre l’Est et l’Ouest, entre la Russie et l’<span class="caps">OTAN</span>, entre les civi­li­sa­tions ortho­doxe et catho­lique — comme le pensent les idiots conser­va­teurs. C’est une guerre que la dic­ta­ture de Poutine livre au peuple ukrai­nien et au peuple russe. C’est pour­quoi nous avons l’obligation de trou­ver un che­min vers la paix.</p>
<p><span><strong>Voyez-vous une pos­si­bi­li­té de construire un mou­ve­ment inter­na­tio­nal éman­ci­pa­teur pour s’op­po­ser à la fois à l’expédition meur­trière de Poutine et à l’hé­gé­mo­nie occi­den­tale capitaliste ?</strong></span></p>
<p>Oui et non. Au début ce sera très com­pli­qué. Les fau­teurs de guerre à l’Ouest voient se réa­li­ser tous leurs pro­jets : ils ont main­te­nant toutes les rai­sons d’obtenir plus de cré­dits mili­taires, de ren­for­cer les armées, de faire tour­ner à plein régime les indus­tries d’armement… Tout ça contri­bue­ra à rendre le monde plus dan­ge­reux. Quand je vivais en Suède, il y avait tou­jours des dis­cus­sions dans les­quelles la Russie était dépeinte comme un ter­rible pays bar­bare, sous-déve­lop­pé. Toujours, je répon­dais : « Non les gars, la Russie n’est pas le pas­sé de l’Europe. La Russie est votre futur. Regardez ce qui se passe en Russie et vous ver­rez ce qui arri­ve­ra à vos propres socié­tés. » Tout se passe ici en accé­lé­ré. Voilà deux semaines, nous devions nous résoudre à des com­pro­mis com­pli­qués, avec de petits pro­grès de temps à autre. Maintenant les choses sont simples, claires. Le che­min vers la paix, c’est la trans­for­ma­tion totale de la Russie. La paix est incom­pa­tible avec le pré­sent sys­tème poli­tique, avec les condi­tions sociales qui ont ren­du Poutine pos­sible. Poutine est bien enten­du res­pon­sable per­son­nel­le­ment de cette guerre. Mais il est aus­si le résul­tat de ces trente der­nières années d’inégalités et d’exploitation pen­dant les­quelles les récits natio­na­listes ont été légi­ti­més, tan­dis que la perte de voix des plus pauvres ouvrait la voie aux dérives dic­ta­to­riales. La guerre est le fruit de ces pen­chants libé­raux et natio­na­listes. Si nous ne sommes pas empor­tés par la famine ou éra­di­qués par une catas­trophe nucléaire d’ici quelques mois, un grand espace s’ouvrira aux gens comme nous, pour nos valeurs, nos pro­po­si­tions. Les libé­raux se sont dis­cré­di­tés dans les années 1990. Les natio­na­listes et les conser­va­teurs qui leur ont suc­cé­dé sont en train de creu­ser leur tombe. Au début d’une guerre, c’est tou­jours dif­fi­cile : l’hystérie natio­na­liste l’emporte dans tous les camps. Elle se mani­feste en Russie comme en Europe. L’union sacrée se fait autour des classes diri­geantes, de l’armée. Mais au fil du temps, quand tous se sen­ti­ront au milieu de la catas­trophe, le camp de la paix et de la vie rega­gne­ra du ter­rain, par­tout dans le monde. Vous savez, en russe, nous avons un seul et même mot pour dési­gner la paix et le monde : « <em>мир</em> ». Pour faire la paix, nous n’avons pas d’autre choix que de chan­ger ce monde.</p>
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title: « La victoire sur Poutine viendra de l’intérieur »
url: https://www.revue-ballast.fr/alexey-sakhnin-la-victoire-sur-poutine-viendra-de-linterieur/
hash_url: 37d3c1e9f20ea7396919f9f6cda24a08

<p><em><span>Alexey Sakhnin (Алексей Сахнин) est l’un des visages de la gauche russe. Né aux débuts des années 1980, il a été l’un des cadres du Front de gauche (<span class="lang-ru" lang="ru">Левый фронт</span>) : u</span></em><span><em>ne impor­tante coa­li­tion liée au Parti com­mu­niste russe, fon­dée en 2008 et ouver­te­ment oppo­sée au pou­voir de Vladimir Poutine<span class>. L’objectif du Front est <span class="goog-text-highlight">de bâtir une « </span></span></em><span class><span class="goog-text-highlight">alter­na­tive pro­gres­siste à la bar­ba­rie capi­ta­liste</span></span><em><span class><span class="goog-text-highlight"> », autre­ment dit de </span></span></em><span class><span class="goog-text-highlight">« </span></span><span class><span class="goog-text-highlight">construire une socié­té socia­liste juste</span></span><em><span class><span class="goog-text-highlight"> ». </span></span></em></span><span><em>En 2012, Sakhnin obte­nait l’a­sile poli­tique en Suède ; sept ans plus tard, il était de retour dans son pays natal. Depuis l’in­va­sion de l’Ukraine, il vit sous la menace per­ma­nente d’une arres­ta­tion : c’est que le mili­tant s’é­lève haut et fort contre cette « </em>agres­sion armée d’une ampleur sans pré­cé­dent ». <em>Il vient de quit­ter son par­ti, après la déci­sion de ce der­nier d’ap­prou­ver majo­ri­tai­re­ment la guerre. « </em>Nous avons réel­le­ment besoin d’un front des peuples pour la paix, l’égalité, la liber­té et le socia­lisme. Malheureusement, pour construire ce monde et ce front, il fau­dra par­tir de zéro<em> », a indi­qué Alexey Sakhnin dans son com­mu­ni­qué de départ. Malgré la cen­sure gou­ver­ne­men­tale, nous avons pu échan­ger avec lui de vive voix.<br>
</em></span></p>
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<p><strong><span><picture class="wp-image-93995 size-full alignleft">
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<img src="" data-lazy-srcset="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ala.jpg 300w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ala-150x150.jpg 150w" data-lazy-sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" data-lazy-src="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ala.jpg">
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<noscript><picture class="wp-image-93995 size-full alignleft">
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<img src="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ala.jpg" srcset="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ala.jpg 300w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ala-150x150.jpg 150w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px">
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</noscript>Vous venez de cla­quer la porte du Front de gauche de Russie.</span><br>
</strong></p>
<p>Oui. Depuis deux semaines, nous sommes entrés dans un nou­veau contexte. Mes cama­rades et moi-même avons tou­jours été en contra­dic­tion avec l’opposition russe libé­rale. Maintenant, nous sommes face à une grande guerre et il n’y a plus aucune place pour ce débat. La seule ques­tion qui se pose est la sui­vante : com­ment stop­per cette guerre, sans attendre pas­si­ve­ment que la Russie l’emporte sur l’armée ukrai­nienne ? Le Front de gauche a tou­jours col­la­bo­ré avec le<a href="https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parti_communiste_de_la_f%C3%A9d%C3%A9ration_de_Russie"> Parti com­mu­niste russe</a> pour occu­per une place ins­ti­tu­tion­nelle — non sans grandes dif­fi­cul­tés. Certains diri­geants et mili­tants du <span class="caps">PC</span> reven­diquent un « patrio­tisme de gauche » : ça ne me pose­rait pas for­cé­ment pro­blème si ça ne confi­nait pas, par­fois, au chau­vi­nisme héri­té du sovié­tisme (« Il n’y a pas de nation ukrai­nienne »). Les com­mu­nistes ont été très actifs dans les mou­ve­ments sociaux de 2018–2019<sup></sup> et dans nos cam­pagnes élec­to­rales, c’est pour­quoi ils par­ti­cipent à la direc­tion du Front de gauche. Quand la guerre a été décla­rée, j’ai pro­po­sé de rédi­ger et de publier un texte clair pour s’y oppo­ser : à ma sur­prise, ça a pro­vo­qué une forte résis­tance dans nos rangs. La majo­ri­té pré­fé­rait ne faire aucune décla­ra­tion, en atten­dant que « la situa­tion devienne plus claire ». Nous avons alors pro­po­sé un texte déve­lop­pant notre posi­tion. D’autres membres ont pré­fé­ré « une posi­tion de com­pro­mis » : un long texte s’attardant sur la com­plexi­té du contexte géo­po­li­tique, sur l’histoire des rela­tions rus­so-ukrai­niennes, etc. Ce, tout en omet­tant le fait cen­tral : Vladimir Poutine a ordon­né à l’armée russe d’aller détruire des villes ukrai­niennes et des mil­liers de civils ukrai­niens paci­fiques. Pire, ce texte défen­dait la thèse selon laquelle Russes et Ukrainiens devraient com­battre ensemble le régime libé­ral de Kiev.</p>
<p><span><strong>Comment com­prendre cette position ?</strong></span></p>
<blockquote>
<p>« Vladimir Poutine a ordon­né à l’armée russe d’aller détruire des villes ukrai­niennes et des mil­liers de civils ukrai­niens pacifiques. »</p>
</blockquote>
<p>Elle est hon­teuse. Et elle s’explique lar­ge­ment, à mon avis, par la peur du régime russe et par l’incapacité morale des géné­ra­tions ayant gran­di dans l’imaginaire de la Seconde Guerre mon­diale à recon­naître que leur propre pays est l’agresseur. Malheureusement, la majo­ri­té du Front de gauche a choi­si cette option : cette coa­li­tion a donc explo­sé. J’ai pas­sé dix-sept ans de ma vie comme l’un des lea­ders de ce front. Nous avons mené des batailles poli­tiques — les mani­fes­ta­tions de 2012 ; nous avons été arrê­tés et empri­son­nés ; nous avons com­mis des erreurs, ren­con­tré des dif­fi­cul­tés, connu des suc­cès ; j’ai fait l’ex­pé­rience, pen­dant six ans, de la condi­tion de réfu­gié poli­tique à l’étranger. <a href="https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergue%C3%AF_Oudaltsov">Sergueï Oudaltsov </a>[<em>oppo­sant à Vladimir Poutine et pré­sident du Front de gauche, ndlr</em>] défend la mau­vaise posi­tion, mais ça n’enlève rien au fait qu’il ait été empri­son­né sans rai­son pen­dant cinq années.</p>
<p><span><strong>Vous atten­diez-vous à ce que le gou­ver­ne­ment russe enva­hisse l’Ukraine ?<br>
</strong></span></p>
<p>J’ai été vrai­ment sur­pris — comme tous les gens de gauche dans le monde, comme tous les gens de bon sens, comme tous les défen­seurs de la paix. Les élites russes et la classe diri­geante ne vou­laient pas de cette guerre. Si on s’en tient à leurs seuls inté­rêts égoïstes, la guerre est un choix irra­tion­nel. L’historienne amé­ri­caine <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_W._Tuchman">Barbara W. Tuchman</a> a décrit les méca­nismes qui ont conduit au déclen­che­ment de la Première Guerre mon­diale : per­sonne ne vou­lait la guerre mais la guerre était la seule issue pos­sible pour les pro­ta­go­nistes en pré­sence. La guerre devait iné­luc­ta­ble­ment écla­ter car aucune des crises mon­diales du capi­ta­lisme depuis trois cents ans ne s’est sol­dée autre­ment… Mais je n’avais pas anti­ci­pé qu’elle se déclen­che­rait maintenant.</p>
<div id="attachment_93989" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-93989" class="wp-image-93989 size-full" src="" alt data-lazy-srcset="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14.jpg 960w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14-300x188.jpg 300w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14-150x94.jpg 150w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14-768x480.jpg 768w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14-700x438.jpg 700w" data-lazy-sizes="(max-width: 960px) 100vw, 960px" data-lazy-src="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14.jpg"><noscript><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-93989" class="wp-image-93989 size-full" src="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14.jpg" alt srcset="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14.jpg 960w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14-300x188.jpg 300w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14-150x94.jpg 150w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14-768x480.jpg 768w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr14-700x438.jpg 700w" sizes="(max-width: 960px) 100vw, 960px"></noscript><p id="caption-attachment-93989" class="wp-caption-text">[Forces russes, 18 février 2022 | VCG]</p></div>
<p><span><strong>Comment inter­pré­tez-vous l’ar­gu­ment pou­ti­nien d’une guerre visant à « déna­zi­fier » l’Ukraine ?</strong></span></p>
<p>C’est tota­le­ment vide de sens. Il est vrai que, depuis huit ans, le régime ukrai­nien déploie une pro­pa­gande natio­na­liste. Il est vrai qu’il existe des groupes para­mi­li­taires d’extrême droite et que des réseaux d’extrême droite se retrouvent au cœur des forces de sécu­ri­té, des ser­vices secrets, etc. Mais le gou­ver­ne­ment russe a main­te­nu avec l’Ukraine, durant toute cette période, de pro­fi­tables échanges com­mer­ciaux. Certains des héros du <a href="https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifestations_au_printemps_2014_en_Ukraine">« Printemps russe » </a>[Ру́сская весна́]<sup></sup>, des acti­vistes pro-russes de l’est ukrai­nien, ont été arrê­tés en Russie et ren­voyés en Ukraine. Maintenant, Poutine répète que l’« opé­ra­tion spé­ciale », comme il l’appelle — nous n’avons pas le droit de pro­non­cer le mot « guerre » —, est gui­dée par la lutte contre le natio­na­lisme et l’extrême droite. Mais la Russie elle-même penche<span> </span>vers l’extrême droite ! Le gou­ver­ne­ment russe dépense beau­coup d’argent pour faire de la pro­pa­gande anti­so­vié­tique d’un point de vue natio­na­liste et conser­va­teur. Je vous invite à regar­der les fils natio­na­listes sur Telegram… User de la rhé­to­rique de la « déna­zi­fi­ca­tion » de l’Ukraine pour jus­ti­fier cette guerre n’a aucun sens.</p>
<p><span><strong>Les gauches occi­den­tales sont divi­sées sur les res­pon­sa­bi­li­tés de l’OTAN dans ce conflit et son esca­lade. Pensez-vous que la prise en compte des res­pon­sa­bi­li­tés de l’Alliance pour­rait conduire à rela­ti­vi­ser celles de la Russie ?</strong></span></p>
<blockquote>
<p>« L’<span class="caps">OTAN</span>, les États-Unis et les poli­ti­ciens de droite en Europe ont fait tout ce qui était en leur pou­voir pour mettre de l’huile sur le feu. »</p>
</blockquote>
<p>L’<span class="caps">OTAN</span>, les États-Unis et les poli­ti­ciens de droite en Europe ont fait tout ce qui était en leur pou­voir pour mettre de l’huile sur le feu. Bien sûr, les extré­mistes éta­su­niens sont ravis de la pers­pec­tive de voir l’Ukraine deve­nir un nou­vel Afghanistan. Mais il est poli­ti­que­ment et mora­le­ment impos­sible de défendre l’invasion russe en rai­son de ces intrigues. Ceux qui sont ten­tés d’user d’une telle argu­men­ta­tion prennent le risque de se rendre com­plices d’une entre­prise impé­ria­liste cri­mi­nelle et san­glante. Même du point de vue des inté­rêts natio­naux de la Russie, cette guerre ins­talle une situa­tion bien pire. Le natio­na­lisme russe lui-même est aujourd’­hui tra­ver­sé de contra­dic­tions. Poutine disait que des mis­siles tirés de Kharkov [<em>deuxième plus grande ville d’Ukraine, ndlr</em>] pour­raient tou­cher la Russie en six minutes. Or Kharkov est à la même dis­tance de la Russie que les pays baltes. En rai­son de cette guerre, il y aura désor­mais des mis­siles à six minutes de la Russie dans les pays baltes alors que ce n’était pas le cas pré­cé­dem­ment. Des forces poli­tiques euro­péennes (de gauche, du centre, de droite) s’opposaient à ce que le bud­get mili­taire de leur pays atteigne 2 % du <span class="caps">PIB</span> comme le pré­co­nise l’<span class="caps">OTAN</span> : désor­mais, l’Ouest est uni sur l’enjeu mili­taire. Les défen­seurs de la paix res­tent, eux, sans argu­ments. Poutine a atta­qué sans pro­vo­ca­tion objec­tive. La ques­tion s’impose : pour­quoi l’a‑t-il fait, alors que de telles consé­quences étaient prévisibles ?</p>
<p><span><strong>Vous avez une idée ?</strong></span></p>
<p>J’ai une théo­rie. Tout au long de la pan­dé­mie de coro­na­vi­rus en 2020, Poutine fai­sait extrê­me­ment atten­tion. Il s’est iso­lé dans son bun­ker. Certains médias occi­den­taux l’ont ana­ly­sé comme une dépres­sion à l’origine de sa sup­po­sée folie actuelle. Cette hypo­thèse est trop simple. Il n’était pas tota­le­ment iso­lé : il a certes renon­cé à ses contacts régu­liers avec la classe diri­geante, avec les oli­garques — ceux qui sou­hai­taient le ren­con­trer devaient aupa­ra­vant obser­ver trois semaines de qua­ran­taine. Mais il com­mu­ni­quait quo­ti­dien­ne­ment avec des aides de camp, des hommes des ser­vices secrets qui ont entre­te­nu autour de lui une atmo­sphère conspi­ra­tion­niste. C’est dans cette période que s’est fomen­tée cette inva­sion, peut-être pas comme un plan A, mais comme un plan B. Cette inva­sion obéit à une ratio­na­li­té : Poutine avait clai­re­ment en tête l’idée selon laquelle une rup­ture défi­ni­tive avec l’Ouest serait syno­nyme de catas­trophe, de menaces inédites pour la Russie. Avant la guerre, cha­cun spé­cu­lait sur l’après-Poutine en 2024 : com­ment assu­rer la conti­nui­té du régime ? Tout le monde entre­voyait une crise, à l’image de celle qu’a tra­ver­sé la Biélorussie voi­là deux ans : Moscou 2024 res­sem­ble­rait à Minsk 2020. C’est ici que l’Ukraine entre en jeu. Imaginons que dans une telle situa­tion d’instabilité interne, l’Ukraine ait atta­qué le Donbass… De façon plus géné­rale, l’Ukraine est source de divi­sions per­ma­nentes au cœur même de la classe dirigeante.</p>
<div id="attachment_93988" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-93988" class="wp-image-93988 size-full" src="" alt data-lazy-srcset="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13.jpg 960w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13-300x188.jpg 300w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13-150x94.jpg 150w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13-768x480.jpg 768w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13-700x438.jpg 700w" data-lazy-sizes="(max-width: 960px) 100vw, 960px" data-lazy-src="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13.jpg"><noscript><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-93988" class="wp-image-93988 size-full" src="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13.jpg" alt srcset="https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13.jpg 960w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13-300x188.jpg 300w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13-150x94.jpg 150w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13-768x480.jpg 768w, https://www.revue-ballast.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukr13-700x438.jpg 700w" sizes="(max-width: 960px) 100vw, 960px"></noscript><p id="caption-attachment-93988" class="wp-caption-text">[Ligne de front, Kiev, 3 mars 2022 | Aris Messinis | AFP | Getty Images]</p></div>
<p>Les offi­ciers des ser­vices secrets entou­rant Poutine se fichent com­plè­te­ment des gens, du peuple — à la dif­fé­rence des diri­geants civils obli­gés de recou­rir à la pro­pa­gande, à la mani­pu­la­tion pour impo­ser leurs choix. Tous ces bureau­crates éva­luent, dis­cutent les oppor­tu­ni­tés qui se pré­sentent à eux : « Ne devrait-on pas reve­nir à un diri­geant plus libé­ral, ouvert à l’Ouest ? » Poutine a essayé pen­dant huit ans de les unir à tra­vers un com­pro­mis com­mer­cial avec l’Ouest. Si l’Ouest isole la Russie, il faut une « res­pon­sa­bi­li­té mutuelle » entre le régime et les oli­garques. Toutes les élites poli­tiques, admi­nis­tra­tives, mili­taires et éco­no­miques russes ont don­né leur impri­ma­tur à une déci­sion qui ne pour­ra jamais être excu­sée par l’Ouest. Ils n’ont plus qu’une alter­na­tive : sou­te­nir Poutine ou prendre le risque de finir devant la Cour pénale inter­na­tio­nale. Poutine, de son côté, obéit à une ratio­na­li­té auto­cra­tique : l’invasion de l’Ukraine lui per­met de gar­der le pou­voir en Russie.</p>
<p><strong><span>Parlez-nous de la répres­sion qui frappe les mani­fes­tants anti­guerre en Russie.</span></strong></p>
<blockquote>
<p>« Le régime russe évo­luait depuis long­temps vers une dic­ta­ture. Aujourd’hui il a fait un grand bond dans cette direc­tion. La police a carte blanche. »</p>
</blockquote>
<p>Le régime russe évo­luait depuis long­temps vers une dic­ta­ture. Aujourd’hui il a fait un grand bond dans cette direc­tion. La guerre signi­fie tou­jours, en interne, la pri­son, la des­truc­tion des liber­tés. À ce jour, le but prin­ci­pal de la répres­sion et de la rhé­to­rique publique qui l’entoure est de rendre l’atmosphère effrayante, et ils réus­sissent très bien à le faire. L’appareil répres­sif manque d’effectifs mais ils entendent semer l’effroi : voi­là pour­quoi la police a carte blanche. Il y a deux jours, dans une mani­fes­ta­tion, une femme a été arrê­tée pour avoir fil­mé l’événement. Un poli­cier l’a frap­pée en lui disant : « Poutine nous laisse faire ce qu’on veut de vous, nation de traîtres, on vous frap­pe­ra, on vous tor­tu­re­ra, on vous vio­le­ra. » C’est exac­te­ment ce qu’ils veulent : nous cho­quer, nous faire res­sen­tir la peur.</p>
<p><span><strong>Votre oppo­si­tion publique vous place dans une situa­tion dan­ge­reuse. Dans quel état d’es­prit êtes-vous, à l’heure où nous parlons ?</strong></span></p>
<p>Je suis comme tout le monde : j’ai peur. Je n’ai pas de visa et, de toute façon, quit­ter la Russie est qua­si­ment impos­sible — ou tout au moins très dif­fi­cile. Je ne veux pas lais­ser ici mes cama­rades, mes amis, mon pays, ma famille. Mais c’est vrai, je ne me sens pas très bien. J’ai par­lé à visage décou­vert ; j’ai, dès les pre­miers jours, écrit un texte anti­guerre ; j’ai pris la parole dans quelques mani­fes­ta­tions ; j’ai écrit tant que c’était encore pos­sible dans les médias, puis sur les réseaux sociaux. J’ai don­né des entre­tiens à des médias occi­den­taux ; j’ai par­lé lors d’un mee­ting de La France insou­mise. Assez pour éco­per d’une lourde peine de pri­son. Ce que je ne sou­haite évi­dem­ment pas.</p>
<p><strong><span>Quel est le sen­ti­ment domi­nant, selon vous, dans l’o­pi­nion russe ?</span></strong></p>
<p>La situa­tion géné­rale est que la majo­ri­té ne sup­porte pas la guerre. La moi­tié de la popu­la­tion a dans un pre­mier temps tout fait pour s’accrocher à l’illusion que ce n’était pas une guerre, que c’était une opé­ra­tion de libé­ra­tion de l’Ukraine, que nous aidions nos amis, que ça allait finir très vite, demain. Mais l’humeur change très rapi­de­ment et le camp de l’opposition à la guerre est loin de se résu­mer à une mino­ri­té pro-occi­den­tale appar­te­nant aux classes moyennes. Le but des auto­ri­tés est de nous bâillon­ner. C’est pour ça qu’elles ont inter­dit tous les médias d’opposition (y com­pris les médias d’op­po­si­tion libé­raux que je cri­tique depuis des années). J’ai tou­jours pen­sé que deux points de vue, même mau­vais, c’est tou­jours mieux qu’un seul.… Tout le monde, et je m’y inclus, vit dans la peur. Nous essayons de conti­nuer à nous expri­mer à tra­vers Telegram, qui est plus ou moins la der­nière pla­te­forme dis­po­nible pour par­ler à tous ceux aux­quels on peut par­ler. Et, au-delà des argu­ments sur le carac­tère injuste et san­glant de cette guerre, nous aler­tons sur la catas­trophe éco­no­mique et sociale qui s’esquisse déjà. McDonald’s vient d’annoncer la fer­me­ture de ses 850 res­tau­rants en Russie. À la chute de l’Union sovié­tique, son implan­ta­tion avait été célé­brée comme le signe d’une époque nou­velle : elle est bel et bien révo­lue. 62 000 sala­riés se retrouvent sur le car­reau. L’économie russe est prise dans les mailles des échanges mon­diaux. Une grande menace plane sur des dizaines de grandes usines qui vont être mises à l’arrêt — c’est déjà le cas pour cer­taines d’entre elles. Le rouble a per­du la moi­tié de sa valeur ; des mil­lions de per­sonnes vont devoir affron­ter des situa­tions tra­giques, com­pa­rables à celles qui pré­va­laient au début des années 1990, <a href="https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%A9rapie_de_choc_(%C3%A9conomie)">au moment de la « thé­ra­pie de choc »</a>. À l’époque, un modèle éco­no­mique s’est impo­sé avec la pro­messe de garan­tir, en contre­par­tie, la paix et la sta­bi­li­té. Désormais nous avons la guerre et les années 1990 reviennent.</p>
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</noscript><p id="caption-attachment-93990" class="wp-caption-text">[Arrestation d'un citoyen russe brandissant le message "Pas de guerre avec l'Ukraine ! Poutine doit démissionner !", Moscou, 24 février 2022 | Kirill Kudryavtsev | AFP | Getty Images]</p></div>
<p><span><strong>Quelles sont <span>jus­te­ment </span>les consé­quences des sanc­tions éta­su­niennes et euro­péennes sur les citoyens russes ordinaires ?</strong></span></p>
<p>Ça fait seule­ment deux semaines : les pro­blèmes les plus graves sont devant nous… Mais les effets se font déjà res­sen­tir et, bien sûr, le peuple est affec­té. Les médias n’évoquent pas la guerre mais ils parlent de l’augmentation des prix. Celui des couches pour bébé a dou­blé. Les gens doivent se rui­ner pour en ache­ter. Les ser­vices funé­raires sont deve­nus inabor­dables. Même mou­rir est deve­nu trop cher… Mais vivre coûte très cher éga­le­ment. Les prix des den­rées ali­men­taires ont grim­pé de 40, 50, voire 70 %. Le sucre a dis­pa­ru de la plu­part des étals. Certaines chaînes de maga­sins inter­disent d’acheter plus de deux pains. Je n’ai ces­sé d’entendre ces trente der­nières années que les pénu­ries étaient le symp­tôme du com­mu­nisme, que c’était le résul­tat de l’économie com­mu­niste cen­tra­li­sée et pla­ni­fiée. Et voi­là que nous avons des pénu­ries énormes. Les maga­sins sont à moi­tié vides.</p>
<p><span><strong>Il y a quelques jours, <span><a href="https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergue%C3%AF_Lavrov">Sergueï Lavrov</a></span>, le chef de la diplo­ma­tie russe, a aver­ti qu’« <em>une Troisième Guerre mon­diale</em> », si elle devait avoir lieu, serait «<em> une guerre nucléaire dévas­ta­trice</em> ». L’entendez-vous comme une menace ?</strong></span></p>
<blockquote>
<p>« Au début d’une guerre, c’est tou­jours dif­fi­cile : l’hystérie natio­na­liste l’emporte dans tous les camps. Elle se mani­feste en Russie comme en Europe. »</p>
</blockquote>
<p>Ça sonne comme une menace. Le 18 octobre 2018, à Sotchi, Vladimir Poutine avait déjà pré­ve­nu que la Russie n’hésiterait pas à recou­rir à l’arme nucléaire. « <em>Nous ne ripos­te­rons que lorsque nous serons cer­tains que nous sommes atta­qués. Ce sera une catas­trophe, mais nous n’en aurons pas été les ini­tia­teurs. Les agres­seurs doit savoir que nous, en tant que mar­tyrs, irons au para­dis, tan­dis qu’ils mour­ront sim­ple­ment sans avoir le temps de se repen­tir</em> », <a href="https://www.gazeta.ru/politics/2018/10/18_a_12026407.shtml">avait-il affir­mé</a>. J’espère que nous n’en sommes aujourd’hui qu’au stade de la menace. Pour l’instant, ils affirment qu’ils ne veulent pas appuyer sur le bou­ton rouge. Mais ils ont ce bou­ton rouge à dis­po­si­tion. Et il y a de moins en moins de solu­tions dans ce monde mou­rant de l’hypocrisie néo­li­bé­rale. Oui, nous vivons dans la menace gran­dis­sante de l’apocalypse. Mais l’es­sen­tiel pour les mili­tants de gauche et les consciences atta­chées à la jus­tice, c’est d’ap­prendre de ces menaces ter­ribles : ce n’est pas une bonne idée de croire qu’on pour­rait faire plier la Russie de Poutine avec des chars et des mis­siles. La vic­toire sur Poutine vien­dra de l’intérieur. Cette guerre n’est pas une guerre entre l’Est et l’Ouest, entre la Russie et l’<span class="caps">OTAN</span>, entre les civi­li­sa­tions ortho­doxe et catho­lique — comme le pensent les idiots conser­va­teurs. C’est une guerre que la dic­ta­ture de Poutine livre au peuple ukrai­nien et au peuple russe. C’est pour­quoi nous avons l’obligation de trou­ver un che­min vers la paix.</p>
<p><span><strong>Voyez-vous une pos­si­bi­li­té de construire un mou­ve­ment inter­na­tio­nal éman­ci­pa­teur pour s’op­po­ser à la fois à l’expédition meur­trière de Poutine et à l’hé­gé­mo­nie occi­den­tale capitaliste ?</strong></span></p>
<p>Oui et non. Au début ce sera très com­pli­qué. Les fau­teurs de guerre à l’Ouest voient se réa­li­ser tous leurs pro­jets : ils ont main­te­nant toutes les rai­sons d’obtenir plus de cré­dits mili­taires, de ren­for­cer les armées, de faire tour­ner à plein régime les indus­tries d’armement… Tout ça contri­bue­ra à rendre le monde plus dan­ge­reux. Quand je vivais en Suède, il y avait tou­jours des dis­cus­sions dans les­quelles la Russie était dépeinte comme un ter­rible pays bar­bare, sous-déve­lop­pé. Toujours, je répon­dais : « Non les gars, la Russie n’est pas le pas­sé de l’Europe. La Russie est votre futur. Regardez ce qui se passe en Russie et vous ver­rez ce qui arri­ve­ra à vos propres socié­tés. » Tout se passe ici en accé­lé­ré. Voilà deux semaines, nous devions nous résoudre à des com­pro­mis com­pli­qués, avec de petits pro­grès de temps à autre. Maintenant les choses sont simples, claires. Le che­min vers la paix, c’est la trans­for­ma­tion totale de la Russie. La paix est incom­pa­tible avec le pré­sent sys­tème poli­tique, avec les condi­tions sociales qui ont ren­du Poutine pos­sible. Poutine est bien enten­du res­pon­sable per­son­nel­le­ment de cette guerre. Mais il est aus­si le résul­tat de ces trente der­nières années d’inégalités et d’exploitation pen­dant les­quelles les récits natio­na­listes ont été légi­ti­més, tan­dis que la perte de voix des plus pauvres ouvrait la voie aux dérives dic­ta­to­riales. La guerre est le fruit de ces pen­chants libé­raux et natio­na­listes. Si nous ne sommes pas empor­tés par la famine ou éra­di­qués par une catas­trophe nucléaire d’ici quelques mois, un grand espace s’ouvrira aux gens comme nous, pour nos valeurs, nos pro­po­si­tions. Les libé­raux se sont dis­cré­di­tés dans les années 1990. Les natio­na­listes et les conser­va­teurs qui leur ont suc­cé­dé sont en train de creu­ser leur tombe. Au début d’une guerre, c’est tou­jours dif­fi­cile : l’hystérie natio­na­liste l’emporte dans tous les camps. Elle se mani­feste en Russie comme en Europe. L’union sacrée se fait autour des classes diri­geantes, de l’armée. Mais au fil du temps, quand tous se sen­ti­ront au milieu de la catas­trophe, le camp de la paix et de la vie rega­gne­ra du ter­rain, par­tout dans le monde. Vous savez, en russe, nous avons un seul et même mot pour dési­gner la paix et le monde : « <em>мир</em> ». Pour faire la paix, nous n’avons pas d’autre choix que de chan­ger ce monde.</p>

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<h1>Du gras - Carnets de routes</h1>
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<h2>Voyage en Cétogène ou Keto pour les intimes.</h2>
<p>Depuis quelques années les kilos s’accumulent, doucement mais sûrement. Je suis passée de la taille 36 à 38 puis à la taille 40 il y a déjà une petite décennie, et ces temps, je commençais à me trouver nettement à l’étroit dans mes jeans.</p>
<p>Deux solutions, changer de pantalon ou changer ce qui ne rentre plus que difficilement dedans.</p>
<p>J’opte courageusement pour la deuxième solution qui me semblait plus raisonnable et plus saine.</p>
<p>Plus d’alcool en semaine, 2 petits verres maximum le week-end, plus de sucre (je n’en mangeais déjà pas beaucoup à l’état de produit sucré excepté un carré de chocolat), moins de gras, moins de pain, et de féculents en général, un peu plus d’exercices quotidiens…</p>
<p>Dix jours plus tard… nibe, rien, effet nul, j’avais même pris 500 grammes et pas en muscle. Gasp.</p>
<p>Je tombe « par hasard » sur un article parlant du régime cétogène, pas particulièrement pour perdre des kilos mais plutôt pour lutter contre les maladies inflammatoires, arthrite et autres réjouissances qui m’embêtent beaucoup. L’hiver particulièrement.</p>
<p>Les mérites vantés sont : moins de douleurs, plus d’énergie, moins de coups de fatigue et bonus, perte de poids presque toujours constatée.</p>
<p>Le principe c’est de manger du gras. Surtout du gras. Se nourrir de 75 % de lipides (et mourir ?).<br class="autobr">
Oui, c’est étrange. Globalement, le corps privé de glucides (on se fiche de savoir si ce sont des sucres lents, rapides, et des index glycémiques) va chercher ailleurs l’énergie qu’il y trouve habituellement. Il transforme les graisses en glucides, c’est la cétose, en très, très résumée.<br class="autobr">
Concrètement, l’on ne consomme aucune céréale, pas de légumineuses ni de légumes riches en glucides (carottes, courge, patates etc.). Restent les légumes verts (molo, molo tout de même), les protéines avec une préférence pour les viandes et les poissons gras. Priorité est donnée aux huiles (pas toutes, mais olive, noix, et deux ou trois autres), à la crème, au beurre, noix et graines, fromages gras, yaourts entiers, et aux radis (ouf) ! C’est bien les radis pour manger du beurre quand on n’a pas de pain…</p>
<p>Cinq jours plus tard, 2 kilos envolés, l’impression d’avoir la grippe sans fièvre, fatiguée comme si je passais mes journées à faire des marathons, mal à la tête et j’en passe…</p>
<p>C’est normal !</p>
<p>Si, si. Renseignements pris, ce sont les effets secondaires au début mais après ça va être du fun, on vous l’assure, pour l’instant c’est l’enfer, mais le paradis te guette, courage et constance, ça va bien se passer.</p>
<p>Dix jours. Ça ne s’arrange pas. Je perds un kilo de plus, je suis un zombie sur pattes. Là je comprends en lisant les abondants blogs et articles sur le net<span class="spip_note_ref"> [<a href="#nb1" class="spip_note" rel="appendix" title="je vous laisse chercher si ça vous intéresse, ils n’ont pas besoin de (...)" id="nh1">1</a>]</span>, que je ne mange pas assez de gras. Ah !</p>
<p>J’arrive péniblement à 65 % de lipides, mais je ne peux pas faire mieux. Deux cuillères à soupe d’huile dans ma salade et le fromage sans pain, je suis déjà au bord de l’écœurement. Je cherche, et je découvre les « fatbombs ». Vous avez bien lu. Bombe de gras.</p>
<p>Ceci consiste à ajouter des graisses partout, dans les tisanes, le café, le thé, ou à en consommer seules sans autre accompagnement. Une cuillère de beurre de cacao fourré de mascarpone et vous mettez le tout au congélateur pour faire un genre de bonbon gras froid (sinon ça colle aux doigts c’est pas facile).</p>
<p>Miam.<br class="autobr">
Alors oui, mais non. Non, je ne vais pas me nourrir de corps gras à la petite cuillère, de protéines animales grasses<span class="spip_note_ref"> [<a href="#nb2" class="spip_note" rel="appendix" title="il semble possible d’avoir ce type d’alimentation avec option végétarienne, (...)" id="nh2">2</a>]</span>, de choux et d’épinards et dédaigner tous les fruits, les lentilles et le sarrasin. Non je ne vais pas noyer du beurre de cacao dans mon café du matin. Et je refuse de ne manger que le gras du jambon sous prétexte de ne pas exploser le plafond de protéines. ^^</p>
<p>Retour à une alimentation équilibrée au mieux, type méditerranéenne et s’il faut renouveler ma garde pantalons, et bien, qu’à cela ne tienne. Je suis beaucoup moins fatiguée depuis quelques jours, j’ai repris un kilo certes et le reste va suivre, mais je n’arrive vraiment pas à concevoir qu’un tel régime puisse être sain. Ça ressemble tout de même à la nouvelle lubie du moment après les régimes protéinés, soupe aux choux, repas en poudre ou en tubes et autres catastrophes diététiques (même si des études confirment que loin d’être mauvais, les effets de celui-ci sur la santé cardio/vasculaire sont plutôt positifs).<br class="autobr">
Ce sera sans moi. Je passe mon tour et peut-être à côté de la découverte nutritionnelle du siècle, mais sans regret.</p>
<h2>Le pourquoi du comment.</h2>
<p>Ce court épisode de quelques semaines m’a fait me poser une question. Pourquoi ? <br class="autobr">
J’ai été végétarienne avant que ce ne soit tendance (je ne le suis plus depuis un peu plus de dix ans), j’ai beaucoup étudié l’alimentation à cette période pour garder un bon équilibre, je suis assez bien renseignée et je sais composer une alimentation saine. Je savais en me lançant dans ce plan alimentaire que c’était une bêtise. Pour quelles vraies raisons me suis-je imposé cette aberration nutritive ? Pour me sentir mieux dans ma peau ? Avoir plus d’énergie ? Espérer calmer quelques douleurs ? Tsss, tsss. Sornettes et auto persuasion.</p>
<p>Au fond, tout au fond, est-ce que je n’aurais pas plutôt succombé aux sirènes du jeunisme et de la minceur éclatante de santé, symbole d’énergie et de joie de vivre ? J’ai largement passé la cinquantaine, je vis seule la plupart du temps, je ne vois pas grand monde depuis le premier confinement et les rares personnes que je côtoie se fichent éperdument de mon apparence, je ne veux physiquement séduire personne. </p>
<p>Alors, pourquoi ne pas simplement choisir mon prochain vêtement une taille au-dessus quand ce sera nécessaire ? Il n’y a pas d’enjeu de santé, je ne suis pas en surpoids, dans la moyenne, un peu en dessous pour mon âge, mes résultats d’analyses sont bons, mes problèmes de santé n’ont jamais rien eu à voir avec mon poids ou mon tour de taille.</p>
<p>Est-ce qu’il n’y aurait pas là comme un regret de ne plus être celle que j’ai été, un refus de laisser le temps faire son affaire, une bataille perdue d’avance ? La silhouette fine de la jeune femme me ferait-elle de l’œil dans le miroir ? C’est bien possible. Pourtant j’aime les rides et les cicatrices, les taches brunes sur mes mains m’attendrissent mais je n’accepte pas encore facilement ce corps qui change, qui s’alourdit, devient moins ferme. Et je ne comprends pas pourquoi. <br class="autobr">
Il n’y a aucune raison valable.</p>
<p>À part celle de la peur de ne pas rester dans la course, de devenir obsolète, de ne plus faire partie de celles qui ont l’avenir devant elles. En y réfléchissant bien il n’est pas pour moi question de séduction au sens sexuel du terme, mais bien de place dans la société. J’ai toujours été mince, voire très mince en mesurant ma chance dans cette société culpabilisante et discriminante envers les personnes qui ne le sont pas, et ces quelques kilos font partie des attributs de mon identité, et par là de mon âge, que je peux essayer de maîtriser. Il ne s’agit pas au fond de minceur ou de rondeurs, j’aime bien les rondeurs, il s’agit plus probablement de ne pas changer et donc de ne pas vieillir.</p>
<p>J’ai lu avec beaucoup d’intérêt il y a quelque mois, « Le poids des apparences » de Jean-François Amadieu, que je vous recommande. Le rôle de l’apparence physique dans nos sociétés y est disséqué avec minutie, études sociologiques et médicales à l’appui. Et si l’ouvrage va bien plus loin que le simple constat social du « beau c’est bien » et « beau c’est sain », établissant un lien indéniable entre apparence physique et reproduction des inégalités sociales, il m’a également aidé à comprendre combien il est difficile d’échapper aux dictats de la beauté institutionnelle et de la course à l’apparente jeunesse. Même lorsque l’on pense vivre à l’écart de toutes ces injonctions et que l’on méprise les magazines et autres publications culpabilisantes pour les femmes.</p>
<p>Cet épisode ne fait que me le rappeler, et je vais veiller à me préoccuper aussi peu de mon allure que je ne me préoccupe de celle de mes contemporains. Ça ne m’intéresse pas chez les autres, ce n’est en aucun cas ce qui fait leur valeur à mes yeux, je vais donc essayer de m’accorder le même traitement en me rappelant que celles et ceux qui me font confiance dans le travail, ou qui m’apprécient simplement et me donnent leur amitié, ne se préoccupent guère de l’âge de mes artères et encore moins de ma silhouette. Prendre soin de soi, essayer de rester en forme c’est une chose, succomber aux sirènes de la société du paraître, en est une autre.</p>
<p>Sur ce, je vais reprendre 2 fois des nouilles<span class="spip_note_ref"> [<a href="#nb3" class="spip_note" rel="appendix" title="© Panais-Desproges je n’ai pas pu résister :-)" id="nh3">3</a>]</span> et aller respirer le grand air dans la foulée.</p>
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+ 36
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cache/2022/46d0b4daf67dbeb6a068f921c50076af/index.md View File

@@ -0,0 +1,36 @@
title: Du gras - Carnets de routes
url: https://www.carnetsderoutes.me/Du-gras.html
hash_url: 46d0b4daf67dbeb6a068f921c50076af

<h2>Voyage en Cétogène ou Keto pour les intimes.</h2>
<p>Depuis quelques années les kilos s’accumulent, doucement mais sûrement. Je suis passée de la taille 36 à 38 puis à la taille 40 il y a déjà une petite décennie, et ces temps, je commençais à me trouver nettement à l’étroit dans mes jeans.</p>
<p>Deux solutions, changer de pantalon ou changer ce qui ne rentre plus que difficilement dedans.</p>
<p>J’opte courageusement pour la deuxième solution qui me semblait plus raisonnable et plus saine.</p>
<p>Plus d’alcool en semaine, 2 petits verres maximum le week-end, plus de sucre (je n’en mangeais déjà pas beaucoup à l’état de produit sucré excepté un carré de chocolat), moins de gras, moins de pain, et de féculents en général, un peu plus d’exercices quotidiens…</p>
<p>Dix jours plus tard… nibe, rien, effet nul, j’avais même pris 500 grammes et pas en muscle. Gasp.</p>
<p>Je tombe « par hasard » sur un article parlant du régime cétogène, pas particulièrement pour perdre des kilos mais plutôt pour lutter contre les maladies inflammatoires, arthrite et autres réjouissances qui m’embêtent beaucoup. L’hiver particulièrement.</p>
<p>Les mérites vantés sont : moins de douleurs, plus d’énergie, moins de coups de fatigue et bonus, perte de poids presque toujours constatée.</p>
<p>Le principe c’est de manger du gras. Surtout du gras. Se nourrir de 75 % de lipides (et mourir ?).<br class="autobr">
Oui, c’est étrange. Globalement, le corps privé de glucides (on se fiche de savoir si ce sont des sucres lents, rapides, et des index glycémiques) va chercher ailleurs l’énergie qu’il y trouve habituellement. Il transforme les graisses en glucides, c’est la cétose, en très, très résumée.<br class="autobr">
Concrètement, l’on ne consomme aucune céréale, pas de légumineuses ni de légumes riches en glucides (carottes, courge, patates etc.). Restent les légumes verts (molo, molo tout de même), les protéines avec une préférence pour les viandes et les poissons gras. Priorité est donnée aux huiles (pas toutes, mais olive, noix, et deux ou trois autres), à la crème, au beurre, noix et graines, fromages gras, yaourts entiers, et aux radis (ouf) ! C’est bien les radis pour manger du beurre quand on n’a pas de pain…</p>
<p>Cinq jours plus tard, 2 kilos envolés, l’impression d’avoir la grippe sans fièvre, fatiguée comme si je passais mes journées à faire des marathons, mal à la tête et j’en passe…</p>
<p>C’est normal !</p>
<p>Si, si. Renseignements pris, ce sont les effets secondaires au début mais après ça va être du fun, on vous l’assure, pour l’instant c’est l’enfer, mais le paradis te guette, courage et constance, ça va bien se passer.</p>
<p>Dix jours. Ça ne s’arrange pas. Je perds un kilo de plus, je suis un zombie sur pattes. Là je comprends en lisant les abondants blogs et articles sur le net<span class="spip_note_ref"> [<a href="#nb1" class="spip_note" rel="appendix" title="je vous laisse chercher si ça vous intéresse, ils n’ont pas besoin de (...)" id="nh1">1</a>]</span>, que je ne mange pas assez de gras. Ah !</p>
<p>J’arrive péniblement à 65 % de lipides, mais je ne peux pas faire mieux. Deux cuillères à soupe d’huile dans ma salade et le fromage sans pain, je suis déjà au bord de l’écœurement. Je cherche, et je découvre les « fatbombs ». Vous avez bien lu. Bombe de gras.</p>
<p>Ceci consiste à ajouter des graisses partout, dans les tisanes, le café, le thé, ou à en consommer seules sans autre accompagnement. Une cuillère de beurre de cacao fourré de mascarpone et vous mettez le tout au congélateur pour faire un genre de bonbon gras froid (sinon ça colle aux doigts c’est pas facile).</p>
<p>Miam.<br class="autobr">
Alors oui, mais non. Non, je ne vais pas me nourrir de corps gras à la petite cuillère, de protéines animales grasses<span class="spip_note_ref"> [<a href="#nb2" class="spip_note" rel="appendix" title="il semble possible d’avoir ce type d’alimentation avec option végétarienne, (...)" id="nh2">2</a>]</span>, de choux et d’épinards et dédaigner tous les fruits, les lentilles et le sarrasin. Non je ne vais pas noyer du beurre de cacao dans mon café du matin. Et je refuse de ne manger que le gras du jambon sous prétexte de ne pas exploser le plafond de protéines. ^^</p>
<p>Retour à une alimentation équilibrée au mieux, type méditerranéenne et s’il faut renouveler ma garde pantalons, et bien, qu’à cela ne tienne. Je suis beaucoup moins fatiguée depuis quelques jours, j’ai repris un kilo certes et le reste va suivre, mais je n’arrive vraiment pas à concevoir qu’un tel régime puisse être sain. Ça ressemble tout de même à la nouvelle lubie du moment après les régimes protéinés, soupe aux choux, repas en poudre ou en tubes et autres catastrophes diététiques (même si des études confirment que loin d’être mauvais, les effets de celui-ci sur la santé cardio/vasculaire sont plutôt positifs).<br class="autobr">
Ce sera sans moi. Je passe mon tour et peut-être à côté de la découverte nutritionnelle du siècle, mais sans regret.</p>
<h2>Le pourquoi du comment.</h2>
<p>Ce court épisode de quelques semaines m’a fait me poser une question. Pourquoi ? <br class="autobr">
J’ai été végétarienne avant que ce ne soit tendance (je ne le suis plus depuis un peu plus de dix ans), j’ai beaucoup étudié l’alimentation à cette période pour garder un bon équilibre, je suis assez bien renseignée et je sais composer une alimentation saine. Je savais en me lançant dans ce plan alimentaire que c’était une bêtise. Pour quelles vraies raisons me suis-je imposé cette aberration nutritive ? Pour me sentir mieux dans ma peau ? Avoir plus d’énergie ? Espérer calmer quelques douleurs ? Tsss, tsss. Sornettes et auto persuasion.</p>
<p>Au fond, tout au fond, est-ce que je n’aurais pas plutôt succombé aux sirènes du jeunisme et de la minceur éclatante de santé, symbole d’énergie et de joie de vivre ? J’ai largement passé la cinquantaine, je vis seule la plupart du temps, je ne vois pas grand monde depuis le premier confinement et les rares personnes que je côtoie se fichent éperdument de mon apparence, je ne veux physiquement séduire personne. </p>
<p>Alors, pourquoi ne pas simplement choisir mon prochain vêtement une taille au-dessus quand ce sera nécessaire ? Il n’y a pas d’enjeu de santé, je ne suis pas en surpoids, dans la moyenne, un peu en dessous pour mon âge, mes résultats d’analyses sont bons, mes problèmes de santé n’ont jamais rien eu à voir avec mon poids ou mon tour de taille.</p>
<p>Est-ce qu’il n’y aurait pas là comme un regret de ne plus être celle que j’ai été, un refus de laisser le temps faire son affaire, une bataille perdue d’avance ? La silhouette fine de la jeune femme me ferait-elle de l’œil dans le miroir ? C’est bien possible. Pourtant j’aime les rides et les cicatrices, les taches brunes sur mes mains m’attendrissent mais je n’accepte pas encore facilement ce corps qui change, qui s’alourdit, devient moins ferme. Et je ne comprends pas pourquoi. <br class="autobr">
Il n’y a aucune raison valable.</p>
<p>À part celle de la peur de ne pas rester dans la course, de devenir obsolète, de ne plus faire partie de celles qui ont l’avenir devant elles. En y réfléchissant bien il n’est pas pour moi question de séduction au sens sexuel du terme, mais bien de place dans la société. J’ai toujours été mince, voire très mince en mesurant ma chance dans cette société culpabilisante et discriminante envers les personnes qui ne le sont pas, et ces quelques kilos font partie des attributs de mon identité, et par là de mon âge, que je peux essayer de maîtriser. Il ne s’agit pas au fond de minceur ou de rondeurs, j’aime bien les rondeurs, il s’agit plus probablement de ne pas changer et donc de ne pas vieillir.</p>
<p>J’ai lu avec beaucoup d’intérêt il y a quelque mois, « Le poids des apparences » de Jean-François Amadieu, que je vous recommande. Le rôle de l’apparence physique dans nos sociétés y est disséqué avec minutie, études sociologiques et médicales à l’appui. Et si l’ouvrage va bien plus loin que le simple constat social du « beau c’est bien » et « beau c’est sain », établissant un lien indéniable entre apparence physique et reproduction des inégalités sociales, il m’a également aidé à comprendre combien il est difficile d’échapper aux dictats de la beauté institutionnelle et de la course à l’apparente jeunesse. Même lorsque l’on pense vivre à l’écart de toutes ces injonctions et que l’on méprise les magazines et autres publications culpabilisantes pour les femmes.</p>
<p>Cet épisode ne fait que me le rappeler, et je vais veiller à me préoccuper aussi peu de mon allure que je ne me préoccupe de celle de mes contemporains. Ça ne m’intéresse pas chez les autres, ce n’est en aucun cas ce qui fait leur valeur à mes yeux, je vais donc essayer de m’accorder le même traitement en me rappelant que celles et ceux qui me font confiance dans le travail, ou qui m’apprécient simplement et me donnent leur amitié, ne se préoccupent guère de l’âge de mes artères et encore moins de ma silhouette. Prendre soin de soi, essayer de rester en forme c’est une chose, succomber aux sirènes de la société du paraître, en est une autre.</p>
<p>Sur ce, je vais reprendre 2 fois des nouilles<span class="spip_note_ref"> [<a href="#nb3" class="spip_note" rel="appendix" title="© Panais-Desproges je n’ai pas pu résister :-)" id="nh3">3</a>]</span> et aller respirer le grand air dans la foulée.</p>

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<p>Dans ma dégafamisation personnelle, je n’ai eu aucun mal à quitter Facebook. Je n’ai jamais vraiment utilisé les suites de Microsoft. J’ai un peu peiné, pas tant la recherche que la suite bureautique, mais j’ai fini par abandonner Google. Je boycotte totalement Amazon, sans état d’âme depuis quelques années. Mais je n’ai pas encore réussi, loin de là, à remplacer Apple. Et pourtant je le souhaite !</p>

<p>Car si Apple est du côté « raisonnable » de l’histoire de la tech sur certains aspects (respect de la vie privée, sécurité, durée de maintien de ses OS, investissement réel dans la réparation et le recyclage), l’entreprise me pose tout de même de sérieux problèmes. En vrac : son marketing qui pousse à l’achat, son taux de renouvellement des appareils (notamment l’iPhone) bien trop rapide, l’obsolescence programmée de ses OS, ses fournisseurs pas nets en Asie, sa compromission avec des régimes autoritaires… et j’en oublie certainement quelques-uns, mais je ne cherche pas l’exhaustivité.</p>

<p>Car le sujet que je veux aborder dans cet article, c’est le rapport qu’entretient Apple avec ce qu’Ivan Illich définit comme un outil convivial. Selon Illich, « l’outil juste répond à trois exigences : il est générateur d’efficience sans dégrader l’autonomie personnelle, il ne suscite ni esclaves ni maîtres, il élargit le rayon d’action personnel ». </p>

<p>De toute évidence, Apple ne vend pas des appareils et des services conviviaux. </p>

<p>Car quand vous achetez un appareil Apple :</p>

<ul><li>Vous ne pouvez pas le réparer</li><li>Vous ne pouvez pas l’upgrader ou l’améliorer</li><li>Vous ne pouvez souvent l’utiliser qu’avec d’autres produits Apple, ou accepter une expérience dégradée</li><li>Vous ne pouvez pas installer n’importe quel logiciel</li></ul>

<p>Le phénomène est similaire avec les logiciels et services Apple :</p>

<ul><li>Vous ne pouvez pas ouvrir vos documents créés avec la suite bureautique d’Apple sur des appareils non Apple</li><li>Vous ne pouvez pas exporter simplement vos notes ou vos rappels dans des formats interopérables</li><li>Vous ne pouvez pas simplement garder la main sur l’organisation de votre bibliothèque de photos. Si vous quittez l’écosystème Apple, vos dossiers et albums seront perdus</li></ul>

<p>Apple ne vend plus des appareils et des services numériques conviviaux. Elle nous loue un écosystème, très cher, et le coût de sortie l’est tout autant. C’est triste et paradoxal quand on se souvient de l’importance qu’a eu Apple dans la conception et la définition même de l’ordinateur personnel, outil d’émancipation ultime des individus, miracle socio-technique d’une époque où l’ordinateur était destiné à la base aux calculs des administrations et des grandes entreprises.</p>

<p>Steve Jobs disait que l’ordinateur allait devenir une bicyclette pour l’esprit, un outil sobre, efficient, réparable et améliorable. Chez Apple, la bicyclette s’est transformée en SUV.</p>
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title: Apple et la convivialité
url: https://louisderrac.com/2022/03/23/apple-et-la-convialite/
hash_url: 580f9e17e55d43379850d613f51cf3a2

<p>Dans ma dégafamisation personnelle, je n’ai eu aucun mal à quitter Facebook. Je n’ai jamais vraiment utilisé les suites de Microsoft. J’ai un peu peiné, pas tant la recherche que la suite bureautique, mais j’ai fini par abandonner Google. Je boycotte totalement Amazon, sans état d’âme depuis quelques années. Mais je n’ai pas encore réussi, loin de là, à remplacer Apple. Et pourtant je le souhaite !</p>



<p>Car si Apple est du côté « raisonnable » de l’histoire de la tech sur certains aspects (respect de la vie privée, sécurité, durée de maintien de ses OS, investissement réel dans la réparation et le recyclage), l’entreprise me pose tout de même de sérieux problèmes. En vrac : son marketing qui pousse à l’achat, son taux de renouvellement des appareils (notamment l’iPhone) bien trop rapide, l’obsolescence programmée de ses OS, ses fournisseurs pas nets en Asie, sa compromission avec des régimes autoritaires… et j’en oublie certainement quelques-uns, mais je ne cherche pas l’exhaustivité.</p>



<p>Car le sujet que je veux aborder dans cet article, c’est le rapport qu’entretient Apple avec ce qu’Ivan Illich définit comme un outil convivial. Selon Illich, « l’outil juste répond à trois exigences : il est générateur d’efficience sans dégrader l’autonomie personnelle, il ne suscite ni esclaves ni maîtres, il élargit le rayon d’action personnel ». </p>



<p>De toute évidence, Apple ne vend pas des appareils et des services conviviaux. </p>



<p>Car quand vous achetez un appareil Apple :</p>



<ul><li>Vous ne pouvez pas le réparer</li><li>Vous ne pouvez pas l’upgrader ou l’améliorer</li><li>Vous ne pouvez souvent l’utiliser qu’avec d’autres produits Apple, ou accepter une expérience dégradée</li><li>Vous ne pouvez pas installer n’importe quel logiciel</li></ul>



<p>Le phénomène est similaire avec les logiciels et services Apple :</p>



<ul><li>Vous ne pouvez pas ouvrir vos documents créés avec la suite bureautique d’Apple sur des appareils non Apple</li><li>Vous ne pouvez pas exporter simplement vos notes ou vos rappels dans des formats interopérables</li><li>Vous ne pouvez pas simplement garder la main sur l’organisation de votre bibliothèque de photos. Si vous quittez l’écosystème Apple, vos dossiers et albums seront perdus</li></ul>



<p>Apple ne vend plus des appareils et des services numériques conviviaux. Elle nous loue un écosystème, très cher, et le coût de sortie l’est tout autant. C’est triste et paradoxal quand on se souvient de l’importance qu’a eu Apple dans la conception et la définition même de l’ordinateur personnel, outil d’émancipation ultime des individus, miracle socio-technique d’une époque où l’ordinateur était destiné à la base aux calculs des administrations et des grandes entreprises.</p>



<p>Steve Jobs disait que l’ordinateur allait devenir une bicyclette pour l’esprit, un outil sobre, efficient, réparable et améliorable. Chez Apple, la bicyclette s’est transformée en SUV.</p>

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<p>I recently stumbled on a piece by Dieter Bohn on The Verge titled <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/24/15681958/what-is-web-definition">“And now, a brief definition of the web”</a> that got me thinking.</p>
<p>He starts with the question: “what exactly is the web?”</p>
<blockquote>
<p>Traditionally, we think of the web as a combination of a set of specific technologies paired with some core philosophical principles. The problem — the reason this question even matters — is that there are a lot of potential replacements for the parts of the web that fix what's broken with technology, while undermining the principles that ought to go with it.</p>
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<p>I like this take. “The web” isn’t solely a stack of technologies (URLs, HTML, CSS, JS). It’s also a set of principles—<a href="https://blog.jim-nielsen.com/2020/musings-on-the-documentary-for-everyone/">principles, as I wrote, imbued into the web with its birth</a>:</p>
<blockquote>
<p>the ethos present in the person who birthed the web was instilled into online culture from the very beginning. Berners-Lee believed the web should be open and he gave away the protocols that powered it. There was no patent. No licensing around who can and can’t create a website. It was all put into the public domain.</p>
</blockquote>
<p>This principle of open access to information for everyone is part of what we mean when we say something is “of the web”. </p>
<p>Bohn weaves that idea into his proposed working definition for determining whether something is part of the web.</p>
<blockquote>
<p>To count as being part of the web, your app or page must:</p>
<ol>
<li><p>Be linkable, and</p>
</li>
<li><p>Allow any client to access it.</p>
</li>
</ol>
</blockquote>
<p>First, it’s interesting how much of what’s in modern app stores fails the first test. The <a href="https://blog.jim-nielsen.com/2021/the-power-of-the-link/">link is powerful</a>—so powerful that large organizations like Apple go to battle to exert control over what can and can’t be linkable.</p>
<p>But, as Bohn says, “links aren't the complicated part; it's the part where your thing should allow any client to access it” that’s hard.</p>
<blockquote>
<p>You can run through all the web-like things in that list above, look at that two-part test, and just say straight up that these things don't count as part of the open web.</p>
<p>Android Instant Apps: only work on Android. Not the web. Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News: pay no attention to their weird URL redirecting and HTML-esque code, they only work on their respective platforms. Not the web.</p>
</blockquote>
<p>It’s funny: if you apply this test to a few things traditionally considered “of the web”, they might fail.</p>
<p>For example: consider a web page you visit in your browser. If that web page fails to load because there’s <a href="https://blog.jim-nielsen.com/2022/a-web-for-all/">too much modern JavaScript</a> and you’re on an older client (like a <a href="https://css-tricks.com/evergreen-does-not-mean-immediately-available/">dead evergreen browser</a>), is that “the web”?</p>
<p>Or, put aside the question of access for an “outdated” client. What if you have a “modern” client and you visit a web page (<a href="https://9to5google.com/2021/11/08/youtube-tv-safari-mac/">like YouTube TV at one point</a>) that says “this page only works in Chrome”. It’s a URL you type into a browser, so it sounds like the web, but it’s only accessible by a specific client. Is that “of the web” or is it more akin to something from a proprietary app store?</p>
<p>I like Bohn’s working definition, however vague it might be in the details. “Be linkable and accessible to any client” is a provocative test for whether something is “of the web”. </p>
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title: What is the Web?
url: https://blog.jim-nielsen.com/2022/what-is-the-web/
hash_url: 99a44a14a9d140bd39686955a78e5e9f

<p>I recently stumbled on a piece by Dieter Bohn on The Verge titled <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/24/15681958/what-is-web-definition">“And now, a brief definition of the web”</a> that got me thinking.</p>
<p>He starts with the question: “what exactly is the web?”</p>
<blockquote>
<p>Traditionally, we think of the web as a combination of a set of specific technologies paired with some core philosophical principles. The problem — the reason this question even matters — is that there are a lot of potential replacements for the parts of the web that fix what's broken with technology, while undermining the principles that ought to go with it.</p>
</blockquote>
<p>I like this take. “The web” isn’t solely a stack of technologies (URLs, HTML, CSS, JS). It’s also a set of principles—<a href="https://blog.jim-nielsen.com/2020/musings-on-the-documentary-for-everyone/">principles, as I wrote, imbued into the web with its birth</a>:</p>
<blockquote>
<p>the ethos present in the person who birthed the web was instilled into online culture from the very beginning. Berners-Lee believed the web should be open and he gave away the protocols that powered it. There was no patent. No licensing around who can and can’t create a website. It was all put into the public domain.</p>
</blockquote>
<p>This principle of open access to information for everyone is part of what we mean when we say something is “of the web”. </p>
<p>Bohn weaves that idea into his proposed working definition for determining whether something is part of the web.</p>
<blockquote>
<p>To count as being part of the web, your app or page must:</p>
<ol>
<li><p>Be linkable, and</p>
</li>
<li><p>Allow any client to access it.</p>
</li>
</ol>
</blockquote>
<p>First, it’s interesting how much of what’s in modern app stores fails the first test. The <a href="https://blog.jim-nielsen.com/2021/the-power-of-the-link/">link is powerful</a>—so powerful that large organizations like Apple go to battle to exert control over what can and can’t be linkable.</p>
<p>But, as Bohn says, “links aren't the complicated part; it's the part where your thing should allow any client to access it” that’s hard.</p>
<blockquote>
<p>You can run through all the web-like things in that list above, look at that two-part test, and just say straight up that these things don't count as part of the open web.</p>
<p>Android Instant Apps: only work on Android. Not the web. Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News: pay no attention to their weird URL redirecting and HTML-esque code, they only work on their respective platforms. Not the web.</p>
</blockquote>
<p>It’s funny: if you apply this test to a few things traditionally considered “of the web”, they might fail.</p>
<p>For example: consider a web page you visit in your browser. If that web page fails to load because there’s <a href="https://blog.jim-nielsen.com/2022/a-web-for-all/">too much modern JavaScript</a> and you’re on an older client (like a <a href="https://css-tricks.com/evergreen-does-not-mean-immediately-available/">dead evergreen browser</a>), is that “the web”?</p>
<p>Or, put aside the question of access for an “outdated” client. What if you have a “modern” client and you visit a web page (<a href="https://9to5google.com/2021/11/08/youtube-tv-safari-mac/">like YouTube TV at one point</a>) that says “this page only works in Chrome”. It’s a URL you type into a browser, so it sounds like the web, but it’s only accessible by a specific client. Is that “of the web” or is it more akin to something from a proprietary app store?</p>
<p>I like Bohn’s working definition, however vague it might be in the details. “Be linkable and accessible to any client” is a provocative test for whether something is “of the web”. </p>

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<h1>How maps in the media make us more negative about migrants</h1>
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<p>It’s like one of those optical illusions: it looks like one face at first, but it’s actually two. Once you see the second face, you can never unsee it. </p>
<p>In this case, the illusion is how we view migration – it’s the maps we see so frequently that visualise migration for us.</p>
<p>These maps are everywhere.</p>

<p>Those maps may look informative and factual, but are actually anything but neutral. In fact, they subconsciously strengthen the ugly underbelly of anti-migration sentiments in Europe.</p>
<p>Far more than we realise, the maps dictate the opinions and emotions that we form about migration. How is that possible? And above all, is there a better way to do it? </p>
<p>We – professor of political geography Henk van Houtum, designer Leon de Korte and correspondent Maite Vermeulen – decided to take a stab at answering that question. In words, but first and foremost in images. Because once you see it, you can never unsee it.</p>
<h2>Why we often think maps are neutral</h2>
<p>Let’s start with some Cartography 101.</p>
<p>Whether we’re talking about wars, climate change or inequality, chances are that a map will help us understand the world’s important themes at a glance.</p>
<p>Since maps often do not have a clear author and generally use simple icons, they give us a sense of objectivity. They exude an impression of general knowledge and common sense. We see them as reliable summaries, overviews of how the world works.</p>
<p>The exact opposite is true. Every map contains inherent choices. What information are we compiling, why, what do we show and what do we leave out, what shapes, colours, projections and sizes do we use? There is no such thing as an objective or neutral map.</p>

<p>A classic example is the size of Africa as shown on the standard world map: the continent seems quite small, about the same size as Greenland.</p>
<p>Maps always project a specific view of reality. They can never be more than a model of the world. This simple fact is inevitable. And it’s not a bad thing, as such. The more maps there are, the greater the sum total of information becomes – just as a multitude of voices blends into a democracy.</p>
<p>Where does it go wrong? When maps are interpreted as neutral truth. Not one of many representations of reality, but the single definitive model of how the world works. And that is exactly what happens with many maps in the politicised migration debate. </p>
<h2>The best-known migration map</h2>
<p>To understand what we see – and what we don’t see – when we look at an average migration map, let’s start by looking at what may well be the most widely copied migration map available: the map published by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency</p>
<p>So what’s going on here if we take a look at this map? If we were to redesign the map in the default style used by The Correspondent, it might look something like this:</p>

<pre><code>
</code></pre>
<h2>Is there a different way to do this? </h2>
<p>Long story short, the migration map provided by Frontex makes us feel like we are being overrun by huge numbers of anonymous enemies, coming at us en masse from all corners of the globe to disrupt our orderly lives. There are obvious reasons why anti-migration parties, like the Dutch Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid), use exactly the same logic on maps</p>
<p>These are all great ideas, but not particularly feasible for an editorial team that has a very short time frame for producing a map to accompany a news story. But what <em>would</em> be feasible? What could we do within those time and budget constraints?</p>
<p>Let’s see what happens when we go back and take another crack at our original migration map. </p>