Saturday, 17 July 2010

Cleo's Revenge

In the off-chance that none of my readers have seen Steven Seagal's masterpiece The Glimmer Man, then watch it this second, then come back and read this post. If you have seen it continue reading.

The one very minor flaw in this masterpiece for me has always been the ending where competing teams of dastards start fighting each other. Never happens in the real world I thought. They always form alliances against the goodies and they always win because the goodies are too busy fighting each other over self-righteous minutiae (just compare how many left-wingers criticise each other for not being anti-Putin enough with how many right-wingers have criticised Richard Littlejohn for his comments on the Rwandan genocide). Baddies fighting each other, never happens.

Until today. Russophobe historian Orlando Figes and Khodorkovsky groupie Rachel Polonsky are duking it out after Orlando was found (hehehehe) writing good reviews of his books and bad reviews of hers on Amazon.

Reading his reaction however, gave me mixed feelings:

'In a statement released on 23 April Figes admitted "full responsibility" for the posts, saying he had been under "intense pressure". He said: "I have made some foolish errors and apologise wholeheartedly to all concerned."'

Hnn, funny as it is to see a worm squirming, I do wonder what to make of a society where a grown man can blubber like this and (presumably) still be respected? Sometimes I could turn and live with Russian barbarians smoking themselves into early graves*.

*Those familiar with the Russian blogosphere will get the allusion.


  1. Gregor, I have not seen the film but I have been watching this saga with interest. Yes, it is quite amusing and sad really. Oh well, just goes to show professors of history are just as childish as everyone else.

    I've never read anything by Figes except Natasha's Dance, which I really enjoyed, but that I suppose is a cultural history, it is harder really to be controversial or argue from a standpoint.

    A common stick used by Russia historians is the indifference many in contemporary Russia have towards Stalin, yet this is perfectly understandable considering the disaster of the 1990s. Russophobes use the indifference to Stalinism as proof of their barbarity, but never consider that many Russians had terrible ordeals of their own in recent years.

    Just as Figes released the 'Whisperers: private life in Stalin's Russia', some historians should release a book about private life in Yeltsin's Russia, complete, with murder, suicide, gangs, drugs, mass privatisation, inflation, months without wages or pensions.

    But of course that does not suit their agenda.

  2. Hi NK

    How's it going in Glasgow?

    Admittedly I've never read anything by Figes, though I read a quote attributed to him by Max Hastings saying something like 'Russians are very jealous of the West'. I also notice that he's been gibbering on about Stalin being 'rehabilitated' under Putin.

    I think the curious irony is that Figes (whose ma was apparently a radical feminist) might feel some envy for the Russkies who have a different concept of masculinity to Middle England. I think a lot of middle class Brit liberals find it odd that the Russians are sitting on a goldmine of self-pity (ie Stalinism) and don't exploit it more.

    I think it's entirely to Russia's credit that they don't revel in victimhood.

    It's curious though, that the whinging liberals are so deaf and blind to Yeltsin's atrocities: bombing parliament, flattening Chechnya etc as well as the utter economic misery that they had to live through.

    Once I was in a supermarket and the lights went out for a few seconds. People started screaming! I just wonder how Brits would react to Yeltsinism?

  3. I'm down in the south coast of England right now, on my 'summer holiday', ie visiting my dad. Been around, been up to London for the day. It is quite dystopian down here. I will probaly write about my reflections sometime soon. A 'Neoliberal dystopia' is what I perceive things to be.

    I've never read anything by Figes except Natasha's dance, and that isn't really a proper history book.

    A 'whinging liberal', Nick Cohen, has written on cif today complaining about authoritarianism in Belarus, the same Nick Cohen who supported the Iraq war.
    Of course there are double standards. Many of the commenters have taken him to task though.

  4. @NK
    Sounds like an interesting post. It's curious because our church was visited by an English Church of Scotland minister who was speaking about how bad things were socially in England (and he was far from a finger-pointing Puritan).

    What would seem 'ironic' to those who have been following the brain-dead media discussion of Scottish independence as being some kind of red-brown coalition, he actually came from an SNP (traditionally Conservative) region in East-Central Scotland, which is like a painting of what a 'Middle Englander' would imagine their 'Middle England' to look like.

    In fact I often get the impression that Jerry and Margot Leadbetter would be happier in Eastern Scotland than England these days.