James W. Meng

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Mikhail Gorbachev Is An Idiot

I have fantasized about writing Mikhail Gorbachev’s obituary, in satirical beatdown form, for ages. But as I reflect upon various events in my life in recent years, it now strikes me that my own mortality may be approaching more quickly than his, despite the vast difference in our ages. As I write this, my 31st birthday is near – on July 23rd. Sadly, this is also the day on which Ukrainian artist and activist Oksana Shachko was murdered in France at age 31 just last year. And that, in turn, led me to reflect recently on Gorbachev in the context of her life and times as a leader of Ukraine’s FEMEN activist-protest group, most famous for its topless political protests throughout Kiev.

Now, typically when writes things like epitaphs and obituaries, one tends to focus efforts on the life and times of the subject at hand. But this is, I would note, no longer an epitaph – merely a biographical retrospective of sorts.

When I discuss Gorbachev - “Garbagehof” as I like to call him - it is typically difficult or even impossible for me to contain my rage and disgust at who Garbagehof inherently was and what he was capable of accomplishing competently, versus what he was permitted to become; what Garbagehof’s core beliefs were; the amount of influence Garbagehof came to wield in Soviet and in global politics; and the changes Garbagehof ultimately brought to bear upon the Soviet Union and upon the entire world. I say this not only because Garbagehof’s policies quickly destroyed the Soviet Union from within - socially, politically, and economically to a degree easily comparable in many ways to what the Nazis did during the second World War - but also because the eventual destruction of the east-west competitive power dynamic resulted in a major slowdown in Western economies also. When Garbagehof destroyed his own country, he destroyed the most fundamental driver of technological innovation and economic growth worldwide. In doing so, he became perhaps the single most destructive figure in the history of modern human development, with a far greater and longer-lived impact than Adolf Hitler that continues to be visible in Western and Eastern economies alike even today.

Because of his destructive capacity against the Soviet Union, Garbagehof is viewed in many post-Soviet hardliner circles now as an obvious CIA asset in retrospect: someone whose fondness for cosmopolitan Western capital life, the international diplomacy and human rights society circuit, and regular Western-funded speaking engagements brand him as an obvious defector; as someone who clearly and directly cultivated relationships with Western institutions that actively acted to disable and dismantle the Soviet Union with his active collaboration. I, however, argue that this is nonsense.

I believe that Garbagehof’s behaviour was always very predictable, something he arrived at naturally as a result of his naïve peasant origins and upbringing. I do not believe he was a Western defector. This would have been virtually impossible. What I believe is that Garbagehof was and is inherently unsuitable for leadership by dint of his heritable, genetic origins; and that this fact led to a wide range of moments of incompetence that eventually spiralled out of control to such a degree that many people could only attribute his ridiculous decisions and behaviour as being the result of bribery and corruption in deceit with Western handlers despite this not actually being the case.

Key to these many such moments was Garbagehof’s willingness to engage with his equally clueless American counterparts, professional actor Ronald Reagan and former CIA Director George H.W. Bush, on matters related to technology, intellectual property, and nuclear disarmament.

To preface a discussion of these matters, it is perhaps worth noting that the most significant of these issues is that of nuclear weapons. To be sure, the US-Soviet arms race directly resulted in the creation of enormously destructive weapons in a relatively short amount of time. But in a fundamental sense these weapons’ invention and gradual perfection produced an enormous array of incredible derivative innovations. The history of modern technology is one largely written in terms of innovation in the use of different fuels; and in terms of increases in the usage efficiency of those fuels. The fundamental processes of utilizing those fuels - both combustible and fissile - underwent their most critical early developments in arms use.

We have cheap, clean nuclear reactors today because of the US-Soviet arms race. Nuclear reactors large and small power human residential, commercial, and industrial facilities - and have even been used to power spacecraft like the Voyager deep space probes.

This phenomenon was not just limited to bombs. Innovations in aerospace, marine, mechanical, and electrical engineering were regularly engineered, reverse engineered, and improved upon by competitors in many different countries of North America, Western Europe, the Warsaw Pact states, and Asia. Manufacturing was a much-different activity, with enormous duplication of efforts in every industry. This duplication of efforts resulted in a golden age of engineering and manufacturing and trained an extremely capable, technically-educated workforce.

And by 1991 the rapid progress driven by this competition had come to a near-halt: Garbagehof had run the Soviet Union into the ground.

Practically from the moment he took over following the death of Leonid Brezhnev - who had a good diplomatic relationship with the USA, but recognized exceptionally well the need to maintain a competitive relationship - Garbagehof instituted bizarre, sweeping economic policy changes that left the Soviet people white-knuckled. Dry laws that resulted in swaths of prime, decades- or even centuries-old vineyards left to rot. Initiatives for growth in private business and détente in international trade that zigged and zagged every which way by the year and seemingly for no reason at all. Relaxation on rules for all forms of internal political dissent and media openness that resulted in explosive pro-Western, separatist, even anarchist protests, which only further crippled the government and the Soviet economy. By August 1991 Garbagehof was under house arrest by the KGB in the Crimean prime ministerial residence but refused to step away from power and was released in just two days.

And then, within just two months, all key governmental institutions had collapsed, following a period of near-total internal chaos. By December the Soviet Union no longer even existed.

As the economies of the constituent countries of the former Soviet Union collapsed further, corresponding changes began taking place worldwide, but it was perhaps the USA that experienced the greatest change from this period of ‘enforced détente’. Massive changes at an human resources level took place, particularly during the second term of the Clinton presidency, when white Americans of bourgeois and elite Germanic and Slavic ancestry were ousted from prominent positions in industry, government, and even in academia, en masse and gradually replaced with first-generation Americans from lower-class and/or lower-skilled backgrounds. Prevailing changes in the general seriousness of work attitudes as a result of these demographic changes were correspondingly quite significant, and the Cold War-era focus on engineering and production quality was no more.

At the same time, the key to this golden age of engineering - global duplication of efforts - was taken away, as free trade agreements and increased global demand for Western and Japanese goods created an oversupply of labour in many regions, with many workers moving into lower-skilled occupations or the many new forms of clerical and administrative work that arose in the Warsaw Pact states’ transition to capitalism.

Investment in aerospace technology declined massively. Purchases of Western consumer, business, and enterprise-level technological equipment in the countries of the former Soviet Union - which had begun under Garbagehof at the component level in the 1980s to reduce reverse-engineering of Western technologies - grew to supersede domestic production almost entirely.

Today Western economies barely grow. Employment growth among younger age cohorts is only being driven by gradual replacement of the Boomer workforce. And this too is, in fact, a direct result of Garbagehof’s various destructive vectors of ‘reform’ against his native land. The global demand for Western technological and other goods reduced duplication of efforts in key industrial, consumer, and small-business goods to such a low level that competitively-led economic growth slowed almost by orders of magnitude. This is most noticeable in markets for the most emergent technologies, where markets are driven almost exclusively by high-budget Western government purchases. These purchases are now almost entirely non-competitive, not only within these countries themselves, but also non-competitive in a global sense – because other countries, most notably those of the former Soviet Union, will not even attempt to duplicate them any longer as there is simply no equivalent demand in government purchases. The high end of the supercomputer market is perhaps the most compelling example of this trend.

As global technological progress and economic growth slowed, it became entirely acceptable, even desirable, to hire and fire candidates on the basis of factors totally divorced from job performance. Entire new fields of human resources scholarship were then developed to identify specific qualitative factors that could be used at scale in organisational HR management decision-making processes to defend these previously unsupportable decisions. This, in turn, meant that an highly-desirable Cold War era corporate employee might, by the mid-2000s, be an entirely undesirable employee – for ethereal considerations totally independent of or even directly correlated with actual job performance such as ‘culture fit’, ‘totalitarian attitudes’, ‘micromanagement’, ‘domineering behaviour’, ‘workaholism’, and many others. Meanwhile, an employee who during the Cold War era might have been fired for things like 'laziness', 'drunkenness at work', 'incompetence', 'lack of qualifications', or 'thefts from the office' might now be an entirely acceptable candidate, and perhaps even a candidate for promotion!

Once the correlation between job performance and job success had sufficiently deteriorated, and rewards were distributed with greater frequency to lower-performing candidates, human evolution began to gradually shift into reverse as the correlation between intelligence and reproduction decreased. Mikhail Garbagehof is likewise the single most significant figure to whom this demographic phenomenon can be attributed. The demographic trends that Garbagehof set in motion across the globe are now so significant as to have taken on logarithmic proportions.

I abhor fascism. For me Adolf Hitler was not only a mass murderer, but also a sick, callous, unpleasant and entirely uninteresting man in an intellectual sense. When I try to evaluate Garbagehof as a man there is no such simplicity. Of course, I do not believe that Garbagehof could have carried out a directly comparable atrocity against humanity - the Soviet people would never have allowed it. What I see in Garbagehof is naivety. I see incompetence. I see distorted, vague thinking - the same blurry, condensed ‘Enlightenment’ thinking and attitudes one sees in seventeen-year-old theatre students. But I also see the very same thing that the secret police of Tsar Nicholas II would have correctly identified in him immediately - an inherently evil criminal peasant incapable from birth of any sort of competent high-level thinking who could never possibly come to any good except on a field. Lomonosov he is not.

But in the 1980s, as today, society did not see him with those eyes: instead, the Soviet people and then the entire Western global community allowed him into the highest echelons of the collective consciousness. And with their mandate, Garbagehof destroyed the lives of thousands of intelligent, civilised, rule-bound people like me - and, probably, like Oksana Shachko, who founded FEMEN with some friends out of a desire to not be raped by peasants - before we were both even born.