Mankind's only alternative 15   OCT.   21  
Mankind's only alternative
Welcome
MAIN  RUSSIA  WAR NERD   [SIC!]  BAR-DAK  THE VAULT  ABOUT US  RSS
 
 
EXILE BLOGS

The Fall of The eXile For all those wondering what the "Save The eXile Fundrasier" banner is all about, here it is as simply as it can be phrased: The eXile is shutting down.
June 11, 2008 in eXile Blog

War Nerd: War of the Babies in Taki's Magazine The War Nerd talks about babies, the greatest weapon of the 20th century.
May 28, 2008 in eXile Blog

Kids, Meet Your President A website for Russian kids to learn all about President Medvedev's passion for school, sports and family.
May 22, 2008 in eXile Blog

Cellphone Democracy Cam If this girl was exposed to Jeffersonian democracy...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Dyev Photos Yet another hot Russian babe imitating the Catpower look...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

Proof That Genetic Memory Is Real! Sure, the Ottomans shut down the Istanbul Slavic slave markets centuries ago...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Russia's Orthodox Church Youth Outreach Program The priest is going, "Father Sansei is very impressed with grasshopper Sasha’s...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Club Photos w/Russian Dyevs We took the Pepsi Challenge here...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Blogs RSS feed

Book Review February 19, 2004
 
Never Trust A Real-Estate Agent
By John Dolan Browse author Email
 
Page 3 of 4
 
What's really droll, in a grim way, is the fact that the most dramatic European example of the instability of the term "country" is the very state Hill and Gaddy propose to subject to Zipf's law: Russia, aka the Soviet Union. Yeltsin divested Russia of all the non-Russian republics of the USSR -- which also happened to occupy most of the warm-climate regions. In the process, "Russia" lost what would have been its third, fourth and fifth largest cities: Kiev (2,800,000), Kharkov (1,600,000) and Minsk (1,700,000). All these were part of the USSR, and all were bigger than Novosibirsk, Nizhniy Novgorod and Yekaterinburg, all of which hover around the 1,400,000 mark.

Now Hill and Gaddy come along and blame evil Soviet planners for making Nizhniy Novgorod and Novosibirsk Russia's biggest cities, ignoring the fact that those Soviet planners were thinking in terms of a hierarchy of cities which included Kiev, Kharkov and Minsk.

The Siberian Curse barely bothers to mention these Soviet cities. When they come up at all, it is as examples of the Soviet/Russian appetite for conquest -- which Hill and Gaddy are of course bound to condemn: "From the 1860's to the 1890's, the [Russian] Empire began to expand south and east....by 1900 Russia's frontiers ran west from Moscow to the Baltic Sea and to the territory around the cities of Kiev and Warsaw." Hill and Gaddy concede that this drive to the South was driven by Russia's hunger for more warm, fertile land. As such, it was a perfect example of what they would seem to consider logical, market-driven expansion. The real disaster, by this sort of historical model, would seem to be Yeltsin's divestment of all the temperate, arable land in the USSR. It was this that left Russia "out in the cold."

Of course, Hill and Gaddy would not dream of reaching such a conclusion, which would stink of Russian nationalism. So they have created a mad argument that blames Russia for doing the right thing: giving its balmier neighbors their freedom, retaining only the frigid Siberian belt for itself.

Gosh, you sure get some lucky breaks when your thesis strokes the right folks! A few years from now, Hill and Gaddy's argument will be remembered, if at all, as a classic case of disingenuous manipulation of statistical argument. But at the moment, the West is so addicted to scolding and lecturing Russia that any Soviet-bashing legerdemain can get published (if only in a house press like the Brookings Institute's), and Hill and Gaddy can get an "Amen!" for every ridiculous claim.

It's somewhat surprising to see an argument so totally illogical praised as "highly original" and "a welcome and important contribution" to Russian studies--until you see who's praising it. Then the book's success makes a sordid kind of sense. The book's back cover features blurbs by Jeffrey Sachs, Richard Pipes, and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Sachs is, of course, the paradigm of the incompetent, sleazy Western consultant who did so much to destroy Russia in the 90s. Pipes is a mad reactionary who has been shrilly whitewashing serfdom and vilifying the Soviets for what seems like centuries. And Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter's East Bloc specialist, is a Russophobe from way, way back, a man who makes Pavel Felgenhauer look like a Rodina deputy.These men have long since jettisoned any conscience or nagging sense of intellectual rigor they may once have possessed. They apportion praise or blame not by the quality of the book but by its ulitity to them, in their grimy Beltway wriggle to influence. And it's very easy to see why The Siberian Curse serves their ends. By blaming bad Soviet planners for Russia's fall, this book helps get a sleazebag like Sachs get off the hook, confirms Pipes' one endlessly repeated argument that Soviet = evil, and endorses Brzezinski's conviction that the further east you go, the more Russian and evil everything becomes.

Another blurb-writer, Niall Ferguson of Oxford, states with naive clarity the real reason this book is doing well: "Those still wondering why market reforms have achieved only limited success in Russia since the collapse of Communism cannot afford to overlook this timely and original book."


SHARE:  Del.icio.us  Digg  My Web  Facebook  Reddit

Browse author
dolan@exile.ru
 
 
FROM THE VAULT

Moscow Land Grab! :

Indie In Moscow? :
Comix
al-Dilbert :
Jackpot Troll
Field Guide To Moscow: Aeternus Infortunium :
 

 
 
 
LATEST ARTICLES

Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
Editorial
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
Feature Story By The eXile
Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Your Letters
[SIC!]
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

Clubbing Adventures Through Time
Club Review By Dmitriy Babooshka
eXile club reviewer Babooshka takes a trip through time with the ghost of Moscow clubbing past, present and future, and true to form, gets laid in the process.

The Fortnight Spin
Bardak Calendar By Jared Lindquist
Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
[SIC!]
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

13 Toxic Talents: Hollywood’s Worst Polluters
America By Eileen Jones
Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...

 
 
 

    MAIN    |    RUSSIA    |    WAR NERD     |    [SIC!]    |    BAR-DAK    |    THE VAULT    |    ABOUT US    |    RSS

© "the eXile". Tel.: +7 (495) 623-3565, fax: +7 (495) 623-5442
E-mail: office@exile.ru