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Benton D Struckcheon

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Member since: Fri Jan 18, 2013, 08:06 PM
Number of posts: 2,256

Journal Archives

China Laughed When It Saw How Cheap Solar Could Be

From Mike Sankowski, who's thesis on the Death Spiral of the Utilities from last December has, in half a year, become the conventional wisdom, another very bold prediction, this time re China:

Do you remember when Dr. Evil was going to hold the world ransom for $1,000,000?
This is what we are facing today in Solar – the Dr. Evil ultimatum. The cost to get Solar to coal parity is going to be laughably tiny.
The cost sounds like a lot of money to old people, or to people who haven’t thought it through, or to people who do not know how large world GDP is today and how much we spend on energy already.
But the cost is tiny, and China laughed when they found out the cost.
...
It turns out Solar will be cheaper than coal for China very, very soon. SunTech estimates Solar will be cost competitive with coal power in China by 2016 and 2017 at the latest. This is in line with what people expect for Solar parity in the United States, given the cost of coal based power.
Still, let’s assume SunTech exaggerating, and the time for Solar/coal parity is really 2018.
Both parts of this assumption are reasonable. Suntech is probably exaggerating the time for Solar to get cost competitive with coal. But it can’t be more than a year or two, because electricity is so much more expensive in China than it is in the United States.
...
Coal power is expensive in China, simply because they need to import coal from Australia. China can’t make the cost of coal lower with cheap wages.
Industrial users in China should pay about 80% more for electricity as similar users do here in the United States. So if unsubsidized Solar is about double the cost of coal here – which we know was true a lifetime year ago – then Solar must be close to coal parity in China today.
...
Many people are calling for thousands of coal plants to be built in China in the years from 2020 to 2030. However, if you think about it from the perspective of how China has acted in the past, this does not make much sense. China has shown again and again it is willing to make what appears to be insane levels of investment to achieve goals.
I contend given the current levels of pollution in China, paying a modest premium for energy is completely worth it to them. If Solar ends up being the same cost as coal in just a few years, China will shift over to Solar power in an astonishing way. They will just stop building coal plants, and build an incredible amount of Solar plants instead.
Look at what China did in Shanghai. The city was entirely transformed in 20 years. China put up the equivalent of Chicago in 20 years.
Why would their response to cheap, clean energy be different? It won’t.


Full article, well worth reading. There's a lot more there: http://www.businessinsider.com/china-laughed-when-it-saw-how-cheap-solar-could-be-2014-6
Posted by Benton D Struckcheon | Fri Jun 6, 2014, 09:39 PM (12 replies)

Death Spiral of the Utilities, Part 3.5: Technology, not regulation, will kill coal fired power

Link: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-04/technology-not-regulation-will-kill-coal-fired-power/5500356

The Obama administration's plan to reduce power plant emissions may be a bold effort to put climate change back on the political agenda, but it doesn't exactly have the big generators in the US quivering with fear.
Not yet anyway.
...
On BoA-Merrill Lynch figures, the rule changes to the Clean Air Act effectively amount to a 1 per cent per year reduction in carbon from 2013 levels...
However, another report put out by a different investment bank two weeks before the EPA came out with its new carbon rules may give the coal burners a far greater concern for their future.
British banking giant Barclays downgraded the entire electricity-generating sector of the US high-grade corporate bond market because of the challenges posed by renewables and the fact that the market isn't pricing in those challenges.
The thesis from the Barclays credit team is that it's not so much regulations that will choke off coal burning, but technological advances.
And it's serious money Barclays is talking about.
According to the Barclays data, electricity utilities represent about 7.5 per cent of the investment-grade corporate bond market in the US, or about $280 billion in outstanding debt.
What makes the report particularly interesting is that it's driven by hard-nosed financial considerations rather than the ideology surrounding renewable energy.
Barclays' credit team is advising its investors to stop viewing the utilities as a "sturdy and defensive subset of the investment grade universe".

...
Australia's generators are looking on anxiously.
About 10 per cent of their capacity has been mothballed due falling demand and increased uptake of renewable alternatives.
Once big institutional investors and credit rating agencies start writing down the value of assets, funding costs can start rising, which in turn puts pressure on pricing making alternatives look cheaper still.
Or, as Elias Hinckley puts it, "eroding demand and eroding profitability, and the best available option is to increase the price per unit of electricity, which only accelerates the economic competitiveness of the competing technology."
Thus starts the death spiral.


Personal opinion: I know there's a lot of retired folks on this board. If you are generating income via utility stocks or bonds, you need to look at this seriously. I am firmly of the opinion the whole solar revolution is being seriously underestimated. To me, adoption will look like Internet adoption; it will reach a point where you will suddenly see an en masse adoption of rooftop panels. At that point, the whole idea of the grid is going to have to be rethought.
Posted by Benton D Struckcheon | Wed Jun 4, 2014, 09:00 AM (1 replies)

Ukrainian Oligarchs 101

A kind of field guide: Ukraine's puppet masters - A typology of oligarchs

No sides taken in this one; just a straightforward description of who's who and who they're connected with. With obligatory bit about how Ukraine needs to get past oligarchy somehow. Which isn't even going to happen in my lifetime in the US, never mind Ukraine, so not too concerned with that part. The rest is informative though, and might come in handy as the news over there develops.
Posted by Benton D Struckcheon | Tue Jun 3, 2014, 08:11 PM (0 replies)

A List of the Latest Developments in Renewable Energy Technologies

The below is meant as a counter to the doomsday stuff.

1 - First, to set the plate, a link to a thread I put up a couple of months ago re the death spiral the utilities were going to find themselves in: The Death Spiral of the Utilities Starts in Hawaii.
The point here is that solar doesn't have to compete with coal or nat gas on a cost parity basis: it only has to be cheaper than the most expensive power on offer on the hottest days of summer to make sense for most customers, be they residential, commercial or industrial. As more people install it to lower their bills on those days, this lowers the cost of solar, which then makes it more competitive to a wider group of customers, and so on. Meantime, the utilities find themselves on the wrong end of this.

2. There have been lots of confirmations of the above coming out since that thread. One more I just saw: Solar PV residential installations exceeded commercial installations for the first time in the US.

3. The Army contracted for 90 MW of solar from Georgia Power, part of a general military push towards renewables. This is very important, as the DOD's budget for energy is 20 billion dollars which, the article points out "makes it the single largest consumer of energy in the world".

4. So much for market news showing how quickly adoption of renewable energy is growing. Now on to some technological advancements that are being worked on. The first is perovskite solar cells, which scientists are excited about because they think they can get them up to the point where they can make major efficiency gains while providing a cheaper material to make solar cells with.

5. In wind, the bigger the swept area of the blades, the more powerful you can make the turbine. Vestas is delivering one with blades that are 24 stories tall.

6. Another interesting development is in software, of all things, which is being used in eastern Colorado to radically minimize the amount of backup power needed for wind, thereby making it both more efficient and cheaper.

7. In Germany, a company called Statkraft is doing something similar via software that combines a multiplicity of renewable installations into a single "virtual power plant".

8. Wind turbines mostly use gears to actually turn the turbines so that they can be made smaller. But for offshore, direct drive is being used in many cases because it eliminates gears as a point of failure, theoretically making the turbines more reliable, which is important when you have turbines located far from land.

9. Finally, in storage I'm sure most of you have heard of the battery being developed in Japan for electric vehicles which charges faster and can hold more of a charge in a smaller space. While this battery is being touted for cars, the usefulness of a faster charging battery that can hold more power would be popular in every application where batteries are used, from cell phones to laptops right up to cars and storage for intermittent renewable energy installations. Given that incentive, I have no doubt someone is going to find a breakthrough that will be very quickly adopted across the board, regardless of if this one pans out.

With so much being worked on from so many different angles, and so many different kinds of users adopting renewable technologies at a rapid pace, the chances of meeting the IPCC's goal for renewable energy are, I think, being seriously underestimated. We're at the cusp of a massive transformation in how energy is created.
Posted by Benton D Struckcheon | Thu May 29, 2014, 03:03 PM (0 replies)

Death of the Utilities, Part Three: Barclay's Downgrades Entire Electric Utility Sector...

...on Competition from Solar + Storage

Barclays this week downgrades the entire electric sector of the U.S. high-grade corporate bond market to underweight, saying it sees long-term challenges to electric utilities from solar energy, and that the electric sector of the bond market isn’t pricing in these challenges right now. It’s a noteworthy downgrade since electric utilities which make up nearly 7.5% of Barclays’ U.S. Corporate Index by market value. From Barclays credit strategy team:

...we believe that a confluence of declining cost trends in distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation and residential-scale power storage is likely to disrupt the status quo. Based on our analysis, the cost of solar + storage for residential consumers of electricity is already competitive with the price of utility grid power in Hawaii. Of the other major markets, California could follow in 2017, New York and Arizona in 2018, and many other states soon after.
In the 100+ year history of the electric utility industry, there has never before been a truly cost-competitive substitute available for grid power. We believe that solar + storage could reconfigure the organization and regulation of the electric power business over the coming decade. We see near-term risks to credit from regulators and utilities falling behind the solar + storage adoption curve and long-term risks from a comprehensive re-imagining of the role utilities play in providing electric power.


Link: http://blogs.barrons.com/incomeinvesting/2014/05/23/barclays-downgrades-electric-utility-bonds-sees-viable-solar-competition/
Posted by Benton D Struckcheon | Mon May 26, 2014, 01:50 PM (0 replies)

Death of the Utilities, Part Two - PwC Report on Australia

Electricity utilities, it says, are about to face their “Kodak moment” and the key is the emergence of rooftop solar, and its ability provide a cheap source of electricity, as well other “enabling” technologies such as storage and smart software.
This, says Mark Coughlin, the power utilities leader for PwC, will fundamentally change the nature of the relationship between utility and the consumer. It will effectively shift the power from the utility to the customer, be they households or businesses, and will challenge the very “right to survive” of the traditional utility.
...
Generators will struggle because of the combined impact of falling demand, and rival energy sources, such as rooftop solar. In Europe, nearly $500 billion has been wiped from the value of utility assets – primarily generators – as a result of the impact of new technologies.
PwC says Australian generators are facing the same headwinds – as can be indicated already by the lack of profits, the write-downs, and the closures and the reassignments in the coal and gas industry. This underpins the reasons for the incumbent industry to try and have mechanisms such as the renewable energy target stopped in their tracks.
“Contracting for long-term demand will become increasingly difficult as time passes given viable alternative sources of supply will almost certainly become available within 10 years,” PwC writes.


More here: http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/consumers-big-winners-solarstorage-revolution-93458
Posted by Benton D Struckcheon | Wed May 14, 2014, 02:02 PM (0 replies)

After the Russian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire

"This idea that the end of the Soviet Union means the end of history is fatuous. Now that they don't have the Soviets to hate, they can go back to hating each other."

- Ed Hart, a commentator on the old FNN network, predecessor to CNBC (from memory, wording may not be exact)

I can't speak for anyone else, but for myself and I'm sure for Europeans who know their history, the thing about Putin's revanchist actions is that they open a can of worms that could blow Europe sky-high. I don't like the EU's penchant for austerity, but the EU is meant to get Europe beyond constantly obsessing over its many and complicated ethnic rivalries and concentrate on prosperity for the entire continent. The implementation may be flawed but the mission is a good one.
So anyway, the thing is there are a lot of old empires that would like to see themselves resurrected. The biggest one, one that dominated central Europe until WWI, was the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Probably the biggest issue facing Versailles was what to do about all of the varied nationalities that empire ruled over. Lots and lots of people of course wound up with various parts living as minorities under somebody else.
Among the most scattered was, naturally, the Hungarian nation. Guess what? Hungary's neo-Nazis, the Jobbiks, are looking favorably at what Putin is doing with Ukraine and deciding they'd like a piece of that. The Hungarian gov't, which is right-wing and feeling the pressure from Jobbik, has strengthened its ties to Russia and is also making very friendly noises re what Putin is doing in Ukraine.
So below, an article that details this particular ethnic bomb waiting to explode, this time right smack in the EU. This is what Putin is unleashing, the potential for vast rivers of blood all over Europe. Anyone who still thinks after reading this that Putin is some sort of leftist hero or that what he is doing in Ukraine shouldn't be opposed as vigorously as possible is, frankly, nuts:

Kárpátalja: Europe’s Next Crimea?
Posted by Benton D Struckcheon | Mon May 12, 2014, 11:47 AM (12 replies)

Time to start counting the ways Putin screwed his people over

1. Capital flight has hit 220 billion dollars, according to the head of the ECB. You know, because of those ineffective sanctions.

2. In absolute desperation to get his comical Eurasian Economic Union off the ground Putin gave in and gave Belarus what it wanted in terms of oil shipments and the amount they would have to pay in duties for that oil: zip.

Russia agreed to ship, duty-free, 23 million tonnes (169 million barrels) of oil this year to Belarus as a part of a customs union agreement. In turn, Belarus exports oil products, the duty on which it pays to Russia. Annual revenue from the duty is around 100 billion roubles ($2.9 billion).
Moscow and Minsk were long at odds over duties and the amount of oil Russia provides to Belarus. Moscow last month agreed to raise volumes by 10 percent from a previous 21 million tonnes - exactly what Minsk was asking for.
"We resolved for 10 years the issue of oil and gas deliveries at volumes we would like - 23 million tonnes is enough for us to load our refineries," Lukashenko said.
He added that around $1.5 billion in oil product duties would stay in Belarus next year.


3. They may have to close that gas pipeline deal with China on not terribly favorable terms:

“This time, Russia really may close the China gas supply deal considering that it’ll be more flexible on the price,” Ildar Davletshin, an oil and gas analyst at Renaissance Capital, said by phone from Moscow.


4. Finland and Sweden are suddenly best buddies:

Finland and Sweden are looking into pooling their defense resources as the crisis in Ukraine shifts the Nordic states’ military-policy focus to protecting their home turf from participating in international peacekeeping.
“We have a neighbor who has demonstrated a couple of times in the past six years that military power and the threat of using it are simply instruments in the political toolbox,” Charly Salonius-Pasternak, security policy researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, said by phone yesterday. “For a small nation, this is a terrifying idea.”

Strategic Blow

Popular opposition to joining NATO has centered on the belief that Russia is becoming slowly more democratic and that economic ties will keep conflicts from escalating, Salonius-Pasternak said. That argument has now “received a strategic blow.”


5. Last and by far most dangerous to the Russian economy in the long run - although beneficial to the rest of us and the planet, G-7 Efforts Towards Renewables are About to Get Pushed Up on the Priority List.

Renewable energy will be central to enhancing energy security, said the G7 energy ministers in a meeting to discuss the implications of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Energy ministers from the world’s seven largest economies confirmed that strong climate change policies would support their energy security agendas during a two day meeting in Rome, as fears rise over the potential fallout from the territorial dispute in Ukraine.
...
“We recognise that our goals on energy security and climate security are strongly linked,” said Ed Davey, UK minister for energy and climate change, following the meeting.
“Investing in homegrown clean energy and energy efficiency across our economies is fundamental to greater energy security, just as it is to fighting climate change.”


So, to sum up, money is fleeing Russia, they had to pay up just to get Belarus to join their new economic union, the pipeline deal with China will probably go through with worse terms for Russia than it would have before Ukraine, their neighbors are allying with each other and, in the case of those who belong to NATO, strengthening their military ties, thereby surrounding Russia with nations that are now on the alert against it, and their long-term economic prospects, already bad, have gotten even worse.
This doesn't count all the various cooperation deals, military and civilian, with Russia that have been suspended or canceled because of what they did re Ukraine.
All that because he didn't like the new government in Ukraine. That's the price of going to war instead of going through diplomacy.
Posted by Benton D Struckcheon | Sat May 10, 2014, 10:49 AM (1 replies)

Renewable tipping point already reached in US power generation

...and soon, this will happen globally.
What got me started was running across the below yesterday:

Wind was responsible for 4.8 percent of America’s electricity used in January. That’s the highest January total ever, breaking the record from last January, which broke the record for the January before that, and so on.


from U.S. Wind Power Blows New Records. Again. And Again.

This got me started looking for the primary source for this report over at the EIA, which I managed to find, after a while. Useful links are as follows:

http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_1_01_a
http://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser/

It is true that wind made up 4.77% of all electric power generated in January. But that's not the big news. This is the big news:



That's a graph of non-renewable (minus hydro, wind, biomass, and solar) electric power generation since 2001, measured in thousands of megawatts. Notice it peaked in 2007 and has been steadily declining since then.
To be crystal clear, total electric power production continues to rise (*EDIT: Correction to that. As pointed out by Muriel Volstanger below, total power production has declined some since 2007. After taking account of that decline, renewables account for 63% of the decline in non-renewable power production.) But the portion of that power produced by non-renewable sources is now on a steady decline.
The reason why is in this next graph, which is the net change in power produced by wind:



Notice the big jump from 2007 to 2008. 2008 was the year wind began to increase by enough to begin elbowing out other forms of power production. In other words, in power production, we've already reached the tipping point: renewable power production is slowly, steadily eroding away the non-renewable portion, and will continue to do so.

But even that's not the big news. The biggest news is in this graph:



This is the net change in power produced by solar. It jumped in 2012, and again in 2013. Solar is now adding enough capacity every year that it too is starting to make a difference. The interesting thing about solar, though, is the pace of change. Whereas wind added capacity at a more or less steady pace of 20 to 30% per year and is still doing so, solar's pace in the past few years has been this:

2009 - 3.13%
2010 - 36.03%
2011 - 50%
2012 - 138.01%
2013 - 113.82%

There's definitely something different going on here. And no sooner did I think this, then I ran across this story:

Global solar dominance in sight as science trumps fossil fuels

Solar power has won the global argument. Photovoltaic energy is already so cheap that it competes with oil, diesel and liquefied natural gas in much of Asia without subsidies.
...
The technology is improving so fast - helped by the US military - that it has achieved a virtous circle. Michael Parker and Flora Chang, at Sanford Bernstein, say we entering a new order of "global energy deflation" that must ineluctably erode the viability of oil, gas and the fossil fuel nexus over time.
...
Michael Liebreich, from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, says we can already discern the moment of "peak fossil fuels" around 2030, the tipping point when the world starts using less coal, oil and gas in absolute terms, but because they cannot compete, not because they are running out.
...
For the world it portends a once-in-a-century upset of the geostrategic order. Sheikh Ahmed-Zaki Yamani, the veteran Saudi oil minister, saw the writing on the wall long ago. "Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil - and no buyers. Oil will be left in the ground. The Stone Age came to an end, not because we had a lack of stones, and the oil age will come to an end not because we have a lack of oil," he told The Telegraph in 2000. Wise old owl.


So, for the world, renewables, led by solar, are going to take over very quickly. We're over 400 ppm of CO2 right now, but the light at the end of the CO2 tunnel is in sight, and within the lifetimes of the younger folks, those below 30, renewables will be the fuel that makes the world go.
Posted by Benton D Struckcheon | Wed Apr 9, 2014, 08:25 PM (7 replies)

The Roots of Putin's Nationalism

I keep seeing stuff about how right wing and evil the Ukrainian government is, filled as it is with eeh-vul neo-Nazis.
So, to balance this out and point out that Putin is at least as vile as the new Ukraine government, some information on the folks who back "United Russia". (a name that kinda gives it away, but apparently it's not as blatant as I think it is. Oh well.)

In the course of reading this link here - Understanding Svoboda - I ran into this interesting bit of information right at the end:

HSI asks him whether the conflict over Crimea could strengthen the ultra-nationalists in Ukraine, and maybe in Russia, too.

“It is quite likely that this leads to an increased polarization, as wars tend to do, and maybe more so in Ukraine, which is the country being threatened,” Rudling said. “In Russia, we already find an authoritarian regime in power, a regime that lends its ear to both Aleksandr Dugin and other right-wing radicals.”


This was the first I'd ever heard of this Dugin character, so I commenced to Google, and right away found the below extremely suggestive headline:

Russian nationalist advocates Eurasian alliance against the U.S.

So now, what is it that Putin calls his imitation EU thing? Eurasian Union I think?

Anyway, read on:

Writer, political activist and father figure for contemporary Russian nationalism, Aleksandr Dugin is the founder of Russia's International Eurasian Movement and a popular theorist among Russia's hard-line elite. He envisions a strategic bloc comprising the former Soviet Union and the Middle East to rival the U.S.-dominated Atlantic alliance. The Times interviewed Dugin this week at his Moscow office, a room draped with flags bearing the slogan "Pax Russica." The following are excerpts.

Dugin: We consider that all of the post-Soviet space -- except the Baltic states -- we are dealing with Eurasian civilization. Not with European, not with the West. And to try to get these spaces out of our control, or out of our dialogue, or out of our special relations with them, based on history -- it was a kind of attack, a declaration of war. It is not, as Americans like to put it, a competition. . . . It was perceived to be not a competition but an act of aggression, as Napoleon or Hitler, and nothing else...

If Ukraine were to move into NATO, what do you think the Russian reaction would be?

I think that Russian reaction would be to support an uprising in eastern parts and Crimea and I could not exclude the entrance of armed force there, as in the Ossetian scenario.

But the difference is that half of the Ukrainian population is Russian, is directly Russian, and this half of the population regards itself as being oppressed by the values, by the language, by the geopolitical issues, completely against their will. So I don't think that, in this case, direct intervention of Russian armed force will be needed. I think on the eve of the entrance into NATO there will be public riots and the split of Ukraine into two parts.


So far, sounds like a regular standard-issue Russian, really. I don't think any Russian is going to be pro Ukraine going to NATO.
But here's where it gets interesting:

Your views on Vladimir Putin have fluctuated.

I appreciated very much his concrete steps to reinforce political order in Russia, his steps to get away the oligarchs, to diminish influence of Westerners and to save Russian territorial unity in the Chechnya situation.

But also I saw that he was encircled by pro-Western, pro-liberal politicians and advisors and experts . . . and that was main reason for my criticism toward him.

But I think that now, after Aug. 8, Putin and Medvedev have passed the irreversible point. They have shown that the will and the decision to put the words into practice are in fact irreversible. So my support to Putin and Medvedev is now absolute.


Once Georgia happened, he converted to all-out support of Putin. And as noted in the below, he began to become much more influential.
Now from the above there doesn't seem like there's much that's extreme about him. It's when you dig a little further that it starts to sound like a Russian version of Svoboda. The only difference, as always with these types, is who gets to be on top:

Aleksandr Dugin’s Neo-Eurasianism: The New Right à la Russe (ENR = European New Right in the below)

In August 2008 Russian troops intervened in the armed conflict between Georgia and the separatist self-proclaimed republic of South Ossetia, and Russian society found itself increasingly affected by the almost Soviet-like propaganda espoused by the right-wing newsmakers backed by the state. A quasi-religious mantra, ‘Tanks to Tbilisi’, was introduced into the Russian mass media by Aleksandr Dugin, Doctor of Political Science and a leader of the International Eurasian Movement, and widely publicised by radio, TV and press. ‘“Tanks to Tbilisi!” – this is a voice of our national history’. ‘Those, who do not second the “Tanks to Tbilisi!”, are not Russians.
...A month after the tragic events in both South Ossetia and ‘core Georgia’, a Financial Times article correctly asserted that ‘against the backdrop of conflict in Georgia and deteriorating relations with the west, Russia’s ultra-nationalist thinkers were starting to exert unprecedented influence’.
...

In his most important book, Osnovy geopolitiki (Foundations of geopolitics), Dugin – ‘a sort of mouthpiece and ideologue’ of ‘the demonization of Western values’ – has geopolitically grounded Neo-Eurasianist aversion to the US and the Anglo-Saxon world in general.
...
The propagators of both a decentralised federal Europe (‘a Europe of a hundred flags’) and the Eurasian empire of ethno-cultural regions assume the Third World states that allegedly embody the rooted traditional communities to be their natural allies in a battle against the ‘homogenizing New World Order’. According to de Benoist, the cultural ‘diversity is the wealth of the world’, and the ENR promote the idea of anthropological culturalism in their ‘struggle against the hegemony of certain standardizing imperialisms and against the elimination of minority or dominated civilizations’.
Here the ENR imitate – in a rather twisted way – the democratic call for the right of all peoples and cultures to be different. As the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirms, ‘all peoples contribute to the diversity and richness of civilizations and cultures, which constitute the common heritage of humankind’, while‘recognizing the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different, and to be respected as such’.
The ENR turn this right into an imperative, so ‘exclusion is given a place of honour’.
Now, ‘he right to difference’ changed from being a means of defending oppressed minorities and their ‘cultural rights’ into an instrument for legitimating the most extreme appeals for the self-defence of a ‘threatened’ national (and/or European) identity.
...
This kind of legitimisation was required to maintain respectability as the tragic developments of the twentieth century discredited biological racism and it was ‘no longer possible to speak publicly of perceived difference through the language of the “old racism”’.
Therefore, the ENR claim the insurmountable difference not in biological or ethnic terms but rather in terms of culture, while – in a politically correct manner – rejecting the idea of the hierarchy of cultures. However, the main thrust of the ENR is of European identity, and their ideal is ‘a federal Europe’ made up of ‘homogeneous ethnic-cultural communities’.
It is thus evident that Neo-Eurasianist interpretations of ‘the right of all peoples to be different’ is not so much a means of defending the ethnic-cultural peculiarities of Eurasian peoples, but rather ‘an instrument for legitimating the most extreme appeals for the self-defence’ of a Russian ethnic identity perceived to be in decline. This idea is perhaps best and most laconically articulated by Dugin himself: ‘The will of any people is sacred. The will of Russian people is sacred a hundredfold’. In other words, though all animals are equal, some animals are indeed more equal than others.


So what is Dugin's relationship to the current Russian government? As noted above, at the time of the Georgian incursion in 2008, Dugin's influence increased. Note that the date Putin proposed the Eurasian Economic Union was 2011, a few years after the Georgia incursion and the increased influence of Dugin. Is the fact the name happens to be very similar to Dugin’s ideology a mere coincidence? I don’t think so, but I claim no special knowledge. Anyways, I got no beef against the new EEU, except it will doubtlessly be just as retarded as the old EU.
Regardless, Dugin now hobnobs with very prominent members of the ruling party, as noted in the below as well from the Guardian:

Ukraine and Crimea: what is Putin thinking?

The events of recent months have also solidified the hold of "Eurasianism" on the imaginations of Russia's top lawmakers. This ideology envisions Russia's re-emergence as a conservative world power in direct opposition to the geopolitical hegemony and liberal values of the west. The ideology was largely developed by Alexander Dugin, the son of a KGB officer who has become the wide-eyed prophet predicting a "Russian spring", as he called his recent plan for Russia's domination of Europe via Ukraine. Dugin serves as an adviser to State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin, a key member of the ruling United Russia party who has loudly supported Russian intervention in Ukraine, and has made widely viewed television appearances to discuss the Ukraine crisis alongside high-ranking members of the government. Glazyev is also an associate of Dugin's.
Upset with western criticism of him when he returned to the presidency for a third term in 2012, Putin realised that an independent Russia could never be part of the "western club" as he had previously wanted, says Dugin. "Putin sees the west as his main enemy, but to come to this conclusion he lived through a lot, he lived through a historical situation," Dugin said. "He came to the same conclusion in practice as we did in theory."


Bio of Sergey Naryshkin from RT:

Sergey Naryshkin is a politician and a businessman. He has been the head of the Russian Presidential Administration since May 2008. He is also the Chairman of the Board of Management of Channel One, the Russian federal TV channel and Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Rosneft Oil Company, Russia's extraction and refinement giant.


Naryshkin is way up there in the hierarchy, as can be seen from his position as Deputy Chairman of Rosneft. So Dugin and his far-right ideology are part of the normal discourse of the Russian elite.
Given all this, I don't see a whole lot of daylight between the Right Sector and Svoboda, and United Russia. Which is what I thought before I did all this reading. So beyond the actual fact that Russia invaded, I don't see why I'm supposed to care what the excuses for Russia's behavior are or why I keep seeing posts about how evil the new Ukraine government is, when any pro-Russian government would just be carrying water for Putin's "Eurasian" dream, the flip side of Svoboda's Banderist nonsense.
So given that in this duel of competing rightists, the ideology of the Russian elite differs from that of the Ukraine elite only in who comes out on top (which agrees with this radical dude I heard about in passing, can’t remember his name…), the only thing that matters for a non-Russian and non-Ukrainian is: Russia violated the terms of the Budapest Memorandum with Ukraine, and it invaded another country.
That sort of thing should have some consequences. Not war of course, but what's been done has been effective and restrained, so far, in my opinion.
Posted by Benton D Struckcheon | Fri Apr 4, 2014, 08:57 PM (14 replies)
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