21 votes

Tild~ers who live in authoritarian regimes (China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, etc.), what differences and misconceptions would you like to clear up?

I'll start with @TheFanficGuy's reply to a comment of mine where he said you can bring down an authoritarian regime without a coup'd etat/successful civil war, although I admittedly can't really imagine any dictator just giving up power like that unless it hurts their economic allies. (And the Arab spring shows this above all else.)

I also wouldn't be surprised if many of these regimes only make a minimal amount of effort to keep their population shut.

20 comments

  1. [13]
    ThatFanficGuy
    Link
    I've effectively made clearing up misconceptions about Russia on the Internet my hobby. It'd be easier for you to comment with the ones you think you have, so I could clear up the known unknowns.

    I've effectively made clearing up misconceptions about Russia on the Internet my hobby.

    It'd be easier for you to comment with the ones you think you have, so I could clear up the known unknowns.

    12 votes
    1. [4]
      cfabbro
      Link Parent
      Speaking of, in your opinion and based on your experience living there, do you think things really are as bad for LGBT+ in Russia as the Western media portrays it (politically and socially)?...

      Speaking of, in your opinion and based on your experience living there, do you think things really are as bad for LGBT+ in Russia as the Western media portrays it (politically and socially)? Because frankly, it's a little terrifying to me based on what I have read about it, and it would definitely make me very hesitant to visit Russia myself. :(

      8 votes
      1. [3]
        ThatFanficGuy
        Link Parent
        I don't know the extent to which the Russian LGBT+ community's troubles are portrayed in the Western media. I know this: while homosexuality isn't illegal, public display of homosexual affection...
        • Exemplary

        do you think things really are as bad for LGBT+ in Russia as the Western media portrays it (politically and socially)?

        I don't know the extent to which the Russian LGBT+ community's troubles are portrayed in the Western media. I know this: while homosexuality isn't illegal, public display of homosexual affection or sexuality is portrayed in the media as "propaganda of homosexuality", which is very much illegal. It's a technical loophole that allows whoever's in charge to claim that technically they're okay with it, even though everything aside from the actual letter of the law screams otherwise.

        That technically is something @Algernon_Asimov and I discussed briefly previously. It appears that Putin wants to get away with technicalities to appear legal in his despotism. The "gay is evil" part probably comes from the "politics of eternity" method: it creates an "evil Western" enemy in the form of something that's very easy to have people conditioned to be against, and uses it in order to extremise and nationalize the population under your banners so that everyone who agrees with them is a good guy and everyone who even slightly disagrees is a bad guy.

        And given that most people older than 30 have neither real access nor any interest in exploring this part of humanity, the ignorance they inevitably foster feeds into the narrative. This is how nations rot inside without dying.

        That said, many Russians are not buying this. Russians are communal people, and tolerating others despite the differences is in the cultural DNA much deeper than the anti-gay state propaganda. Younger people buy it even less so because they have great access to the out-of-state resources and communication tools. Helps maintain some sense outside of the state media feedback loop.

        All of which is to say:

        If you wanna come to Russia to help the LGBT+ publicly, you're gonna get into trouble with the law – and probably a handful of anti-gay assholes.

        If you wanna live in Russia as a gay person, you might get into some trouble – the more the deeper into Russia you go. Moscow and Saint-Petersburg are your best bet. The closer the Russian city is to Europe, the more likely you'll be understood and accepted. Beyond the Urals those chances drop dramatically.

        If you wanna come take a look at Russia, you're not gonna have much trouble. The chances of you running into one of the anti-gay assholes is low: you're just not gonna be engaging with them very often. Most of the Russians who will share company with you already like you because you're from a better place than Russia. You are by default interesting and cool to them, so you'll probably have a good time here.

        Last time I've been to one of my trips to other cities, in the hostel I was staying at an older woman – in her 40s, probably – was chatting with the Swiss bloke using Google Translate. It was a slow process, but they enjoyed it. I hung out with the guy later, and he was really cool – not just because he was from Switzerland but because he was genuinely nice and warm and welcoming. This probably means that if you're a rather decent fellow where you are, you're gonna have a blast in Russia.

        22 votes
        1. [2]
          cfabbro
          Link Parent
          Thanks for providing your perspective, it has done a little to assuage my fears of being a tourist and LGBT+ in Russia, at least... but not so much if I were a citizen though, since the situation...

          Thanks for providing your perspective, it has done a little to assuage my fears of being a tourist and LGBT+ in Russia, at least... but not so much if I were a citizen though, since the situation still seems like it would be rather oppressive, depressing and dangerous if I were. :(

          7 votes
          1. ThatFanficGuy
            Link Parent
            Oh, it's dreadful alright. It's a big part of why I'm seeking to move elsewhere: the fact that some human beings are not being treated with basic dignity does not sit well with me. I think Russia...

            Oh, it's dreadful alright. It's a big part of why I'm seeking to move elsewhere: the fact that some human beings are not being treated with basic dignity does not sit well with me.

            I think Russia could be an alright place eventually. There might even be a point where gay Russians are no longer being persecuted. I'd still want people to visit the country and see for themselves, 'cause it's not just the dreadful media-worthy bits: it's still a country full of different people, some of whom are really fuckin' cool, and it's still full of places you want to have on your to-do list.

            11 votes
    2. [8]
      Kuromantis
      Link Parent
      Ok. 1: Putin's propaganda has convinced the majority (the oldest 3/4ths) of the nation, and they are radically conservative to the point of ethno nationalism (according to this poll 80% of people...

      It'd be easier for you to comment with the ones you think you have, so I could clear up the known unknowns.

      Ok.

      1: Putin's propaganda has convinced the majority (the oldest 3/4ths) of the nation, and they are radically conservative to the point of ethno nationalism (according to this poll 80% of people oppose gay marriage, so that's my best proxy for that claim.) The young generation just hopes they will die eventually and are apathetic about everything because dictatorship. (I mean c'mon, he's a former KGB operator, that's his strength.)

      2: Russia is as capitalist as gilded-age America with monopolies/oligopolies in nearly every field, including education and Healthcare. Either that or it's just propaganda and denied to anyone who looks like someone the state opposes, be it a Muslim looking person or a gay looking person. This is the cause of russian stagnation, not 'sanctions'. (This is my best proxy for that claim.)

      3: Because of that capitalism, people think positively of the Soviet Union and see it's end as a disaster (hence Gorbachev being hated.)

      4: That cultural conservatism is what the state uses to make sure older people, who remember the Soviet Union to not pressure or seize the government to make it go back.

      Basically I think your nation is the US from the view of a critic squared and I'm sorry. (Although to be fair globalization has made it so everyone is under the same brand of hardcore capitalism from my view so to be honest, with the exception of the nordics, germany, the low countries and maybe France everywhere feels like this to me.)

      5 votes
      1. [7]
        ThatFanficGuy
        Link Parent
        That's likely true, if not to the extent you're putting it. Many if not most people are not "convinced" by Putin so much as they follow along because there seems to be no better alternative, and...
        • Exemplary

        Putin's propaganda has convinced the majority (the oldest 3/4ths)

        That's likely true, if not to the extent you're putting it. Many if not most people are not "convinced" by Putin so much as they follow along because there seems to be no better alternative, and receeding into the crisis that was the 90s for Russia is not a good alternative.

        and they are radically conservative to the point of ethno nationalism

        There's plenty of nationalists in Russia, but they are decidedly not the majority. They're simply loud and obnoxious. Being sponsored to shout obscenities at each other and invited experts on state TV is not helping the image.

        I'd say that many people are low-key nationalist 'cause they followed along with the current government's policies and propaganda mindlessly, without consideration. Life is stressful here for those who make regular salaries. The government exploits this to indoctrinate the populace. It could be that I want to excuse most Russians, but I like to think that these would be the same people to follow along a new, more democratic regime because "welp, that's how things are now".

        Russia is as capitalist as gilded-age America with monopolies/oligopolies in nearly every field

        I'm not so well-versed in the economic situation in Russia to the point where I'd be able to confirm or deny that.

        It appears that there's healthy competition as far as consumer products go: there's at least four chains of convenience stores in my reach, and maybe seven across the city. (Excluding small privately-owned such stores, of which there are plenty.) There are also multiple competing Internet and TV providers, fast food chains, clothing stores, gas stations... I can't think of anything off the top of my head where one brand dominates as hard as they do in the US. Prices are about as competitive as you'd expect in such a situation.

        That said, there certainly are oligarchic corporations. Their owners neither hide their wealth nor seek to part with it towards e.g. charities. Gazprom may be the one everyone in Russia would think first of, 'cause they advertise heavily on TV. A handful of others, mostly in industry and resource acquisition.

        in nearly every field, including education and Healthcare

        Most certainly false. Education and health care are mostly state-funded. This is what makes both of those laughably-underfunded. The school I went to had to raise funds elsehow just to be able to afford the facelift the building was long overdue for: they had to rent out a whole section of the last floor to a dance studio, among other things.

        There are, of course, private enterprises in both of those areas also, and they make good money because they charge well above the average, but they're noticably fewer than state-funded ones.

        This is the cause of russian stagnation, not 'sanctions'.

        I'd say the main cause of Russian stagnation is widespread corruption on all levels of the government. It's common knowledge that everyone steals; there's even a word for it: "распил" (from the Russian verb meaning "to cut apart", implying taking a cut). It's so blatant that the politicians aren't even trying to hide it sometimes, e.g. when charging the state 2m₽+ for a luxury car for no reason other than because they wanted it.

        Sanctions mostly ever have an effect on the regular citizens: I've mentioned a couple of times here how my laptop went two times up in price after the post-Crimean annexation sanctions.

        These same sanctions also lead to something called "import replacement", where local producers were encourage to replace the important consumer products with cheaper Russian analogs. For example, a Snickers bar costs about 35₽, which is 10₽ more expensive than your regular loaf of bread; I can now buy a local bar for 10₽. (It's not to the same level of quality, of course, but it's not terrible if what you want is excessive sugar.)

        Because of that capitalism, people think positively of the Soviet Union and see it's end as a disaster

        The Soviet Union nostalgia is rather above my grade. It's a complicated cultural phenomenon rooted in the longing for the better past that's been encouraged by the current government in order to distract people from the shitty situation they find themselves in in the present.

        I can, however, tell you with some certainty that the economic model has little to do with it, at least not directly. Yes, Russia is not nearly an economic powerhouse it wants to be: prices rise faster than wages, basic needs become more expensive to fulfill. The retirement age has been rising steadily over the years mostly because the pension fund can't keep up.

        That said... I think it's mostly a product of the internal propaganda machine. We're being persuaded that it was better back then. It doesn't help that there are plenty of people who still remember the Union, and the fact that their memory keeps telling them grass was greener when they were younger means you can't dissuade them from a topic of such personal importance.

        It was quite a shock to me when someone pointed out that celebrating V Day is not a norm around the world. Most countries moved on, while Russia still holds on to a victory that's 75 years old. Has the country done nothing since? The answer is: no, it has not - but it can't admit to it 'cause Putin needs to hold onto his power, and so do many of his cronies. So, memories of the past it is.

        That cultural conservatism is what the state uses to make sure older people, who remember the Soviet Union to not pressure or seize the government to make it go back

        I think I already answered that to some extent.

        What I can add is a personal observation that may not reflect much of the internal state of the country but may shed some light on an aspect of it.

        I think old people in Russia feel extremely disenfranchised. They no longer have a job. They no longer can have a job because they're frail. The pensions are ridiculous unless you worked in a mine or in a high government position for most of your life. (Most of the old people I know make just above minimum wage.)

        They don't have a place to belong anymore, either: there are no clubs, no conventions, no hobby workshops. Their best bet is to go outside, sit on the bench near the building, and hope another one of your peers comes out and sit with you so you could complain about how bad things are getting. Their children don't visit often 'cause jobs are exhausting, bills are high, and their own children need to be taken care of.

        This isn't living: they're basically left to survive on their own. There's no framework for them to reintegrate after they retire.

        All this basically means they are not going to take back the state: too tired, too sickly, and having had learned too much helplessness.

        Basically I think your nation is the US from the view of a critic squared

        That's something that's been raised by the Western observers into Russia. People in the West seem to treat Russia as if it's basically a European/North American country, when it oh so very much isn't. There's plenty of commonalities, sure, but Russia may be too different from how the West imagines it to be treated as part of it. Culturally, economically, socially.

        It also reminds me of how someone mentioned on Reddit that China has never had a democracy: it was but a string of despots. I dunno how true that is, but it mostly feels true for Russia, as well. Russians seem to want a benevolent dictator as their ruler more so than other nations, so they entrust tsars, emperors, and party leaders with the power to guide them. Living in Russia has never been easy, so many just want at least that burden of self-agency to be taken off by someone who looks like they know what they're doing.

        I'm painting with a wide brush here, of course. My goal is to illustrate a particular trait of the Russian consciousness: one of many, but an important one all the same.

        Hope this answers whatever questions you had. Feel free to ask more.

        6 votes
        1. [6]
          Kuromantis
          Link Parent
          Ow. This and the corruption stuff reminds me of my country (Brazil) and probably a lot of Latin America (although here we do have democracy but corruption makes sure engagement is impossible and...

          I think old people in Russia feel extremely disenfranchised. They no longer have a job. They no longer can have a job because they're frail. The pensions are ridiculous unless you worked in a mine or in a high government position for most of your life. (Most of the old people I know make just above minimum wage.)

          They don't have a place to belong anymore, either: there are no clubs, no conventions, no hobby workshops. Their best bet is to go outside, sit on the bench near the building, and hope another one of your peers comes out and sit with you so you could complain about how bad things are getting. Their children don't visit often 'cause jobs are exhausting, bills are high, and their own children need to be taken care of.

          This isn't living: they're basically left to survive on their own. There's no framework for them to reintegrate after they retire.

          All this basically means they are not going to take back the state: too tired, too sickly, and having had learned too much helplessness.

          Ow.

          This and the corruption stuff reminds me of my country (Brazil) and probably a lot of Latin America (although here we do have democracy but corruption makes sure engagement is impossible and DRE voting machines are a thing so yeah) and over here propaganda would be more a news agency being owned by a religious leader (who also endorsed our current president, yay) which is presumably closer to FOX news than RT.

          I have 3 more questions:

          1: Do you think anyone/anything in the past (kolchak? mensheviks? Gorbachev? Yeltsin?) Had any genuine chance at establising a liberal democracy in Russia? (Feel free to point out half these people here weren't really trying or whatever)

          2: Do you think anyone/anything does now?

          3: Is there anything in your textbooks that you firmly see as propaganda?

          2 votes
          1. [5]
            ThatFanficGuy
            Link Parent
            I'm afraid I'm not equipped to answer any of those questions to any meaningful extent. I'm not as well-versed in Russian history as I would like to be, and the present of this country is just as...

            I'm afraid I'm not equipped to answer any of those questions to any meaningful extent. I'm not as well-versed in Russian history as I would like to be, and the present of this country is just as much of a foggy mess to me.

            It does seem to me that Russia is not yet ready for a genuine democracy. I could be wrong, and I'd be eager to have this conversation with someone of knowledge of the situation, but it seems to me that Russians are more concerned with having their lives straight, and whichever regime enables that would be rooted for.

            Whoever took over Yeltsin had a shot at changing the country massively. As long as that person would've taken the country out of the crisis that was the 90s, people would've welcomed him or her. Putin could've made a drastic change towards democracy, but that isn't his goal, it would seem.

            As for the textbooks, I haven't seen one in more than a few years. Even then, my history classes left a lot to be desired. History is not something we got to learn in my school.

            Wish I could be more helpful.

            2 votes
            1. [4]
              Kuromantis
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              Alright :p (to be fair I don't think any nation is truly ready for democracy saved for the Nordics with programs about critical thinking/fake news. I know my country (Brazil) certainly wouldn't be...

              Alright :p (to be fair I don't think any nation is truly ready for democracy saved for the Nordics with programs about critical thinking/fake news. I know my country (Brazil) certainly wouldn't be ready for democracy if it wasn't already one and I can't imagine how much worse this was when we freed ourselves from dictatorship 30-something years ago.)

              By the way I said that 'the younger generation are apathetic about everything because dictatorship'

              Can you confirm that claim? Do you think nihilism/post-truth has won in your nation?

              1 vote
              1. [3]
                ThatFanficGuy
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                The short answer is no. Nihilism has not won in any nation, and it's highly unlikely that it ever will. Human beings have an amazing desire to live and move forward even when everything around...

                The short answer is no. Nihilism has not won in any nation, and it's highly unlikely that it ever will. Human beings have an amazing desire to live and move forward even when everything around them tells them it's not possible.

                Given that young people are just people, this applies to them too.

                Most people grow depressed and complacent when told with all their senses that changes are going to be tough and would require some sacrifice – of all ages. They need an example to be moved. Most people. Some still seek change, almost in spite of its lacking.

                It's not particularly televised – which is to say, the state media don't even talk about it unless they can spin it to fit their agenda – but there are plenty of Russian youth fighting for their rights with protests, and advocacy, and an appropriate usage of the modern media.

                Recently – not sure how recently, but within a couple of years – there was a story about how a father forced his two teenage daughters to perform oral sex on him and beat them afterwards. After they killed him in revenge, they were jailed, likely facing many years of prison. Young people all around the country stood up with their names on a piece of paper and with posters above them: "How is this justice?".

                Now, I live in effective an information bubble. The only way I even found out about this happening was through browsing random social media pages out of boredom. The same pages told me that this is not a single instance of youth political protest: just one of many. 20-year-olds are getting jailed for ridiculous things to be made an example out of: "If you don't comply, we'll put you in a dirt hole too".

                As far as I'm aware, they're still protesting.

                2 votes
                1. [2]
                  Kuromantis
                  Link Parent
                  Damn. More whimsically, how is the cold/climate and sun in 'Russia' (you can describe all the regions in the country or just where you live) exactly? I know the Caucasus are just as hot as a...

                  Recently – not sure how recently, but within a couple of years – there was a story about how a father forced his two teenage daughters to perform oral sex on him and beat them afterwards. After they killed him in revenge, they were jailed, likely facing many years of prison. Young people all around the country stood up with their names on a piece of paper and with posters above them: "How is this justice?".

                  Now, I live in effective an information bubble. The only way I even found out about this happening was through browsing random social media pages out of boredom. The same pages told me that this is not a single instance of youth political protest: just one of many. 20-year-olds are getting jailed for ridiculous things to be made an example out of: "If you don't comply, we'll put you in a dirt hole too".

                  As far as I'm aware, they're still protesting.

                  Damn.

                  More whimsically, how is the cold/climate and sun in 'Russia' (you can describe all the regions in the country or just where you live) exactly? I know the Caucasus are just as hot as a region like Subtropical Brazil and can reach 30 degrees like it's a desert (to be fair it is next to one, albeit deserts don't need to be warm and Kazakhstan just is not, at least year-round) and some places deep in Siberia can get a hefty -40°C in a winter but what about everywhere else? How much sunlight do you get depending on the season?

                  1 vote
                  1. ThatFanficGuy
                    Link Parent
                    As far as I understand, the average amount of sunshine hours in Russia is low. Not nonexistent, but much lower than even the north of the US, which shares similar latitude to Moscow. You can see...

                    As far as I understand, the average amount of sunshine hours in Russia is low. Not nonexistent, but much lower than even the north of the US, which shares similar latitude to Moscow. You can see it visually on this big-ass map.

                    Temperature-wise, generally speaking, Russia is on the colder side. It varies, given how big the country is, but most of us experience 0°C or below for about 5 months out of the year. You can go south to the Caucasus and Krasnodar Krai and experience the opposite, where it's summer for most of the year. Considering that Ciscaucasus – the Russian portion of the mountanious region – exists right next to Transcaucasus, which consists of countries like Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, and sits next to Turkey and Iran, you can understand intuitively that it's a pretty hot region.

                    Does it get cold here? Absolutely. You can see on another big-ass map that the climate gets progressively towards subarctic the deeper you go into Siberia. It gets bad enough that foreign armies lose wars simply by going into Russia close to winter. Preparations for the winter season is an important part of the Russian culture: housewives proceed with canning after the garden season to have enough supplies to last through the harsh winter. (It's no longer necessary – the amount of food one can buy at a convenience store is outstanding – but it's still a big part of the culture. Besides, you get pickles and kompot out of it. I'm not complaining.)

                    Does it ever get warm here, though? It absolutely does. Where I live – in the middle of Siberia – you get an average of 70 degrees difference between high summer and low winter: 30°C in the middle of July, −40°C closer to January. It gets so hot many apartments vote to install air conditioning... and at the same time, our houses have had insulation from at least the times houses were built. It's quite similar to Alaska, actually: known to be very cold in winter, but nobody gives a damn if you're also very hot in summer.

                    Much of the cold, at least here in Siberia, is due to both humidity and wind. It gets fairly chilly when one of them is in full strength; both means you better have layers of clothing on. That's how Russians survive the cold winters: layers. It's restrictive in that it makes movement that much more effortful, but in exchange, you don't fucking freeze to death. Insulating outer clothing is also quite common now; used to be that people clothed themselves into wool: valenki and vatnik are part of the Russian culture for a reason. (They're relegated to history if you live in a city. Still common in the countryside, though, 'cause they're still effective against cold.)

                    Meanwhile in Moscow, you barely get −10°C, and they close schools and stop external elevators at −15°C because that sort of cold is utterly unexpected there. (Or at least they did when I was a kid. There was a news story I laughed at before going to school in −25°C.) It's somewhat like New York in this regard: chilly winters that are not overwhelming, and 30°C and upwards in summer.

                    2 votes
  2. Micycle_the_Bichael
    Link
    A couple posts/articles I think would also address this topic are this post and article about china from @skybrian and this post of mine about the history of Islam in WANA.

    A couple posts/articles I think would also address this topic are this post and article about china from @skybrian and this post of mine about the history of Islam in WANA.

    7 votes
  3. [6]
    Algernon_Asimov
    Link
    You both might be interested in this video, where the speaker explains that "Between 1900-2006, campaigns of nonviolent civil resistance were twice as successful as violent campaigns."

    I'll start with @ThatFanficGuy's reply to a comment of mine where he said you can bring down an authoritarian regime without a coup'd etat/successful civil war

    You both might be interested in this video, where the speaker explains that "Between 1900-2006, campaigns of nonviolent civil resistance were twice as successful as violent campaigns."

    6 votes
    1. [5]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      Funny enough, I got the notification from this comment (which is in a quote), but not the post.

      Funny enough, I got the notification from this comment (which is in a quote), but not the post.

      1 vote
      1. [5]
        Comment deleted by author
        Link Parent
        1. [4]
          ThatFanficGuy
          Link Parent
          I'm aware. It's also been discussed in similar situations. What I was pointing out was that I got a notification from quoted text.

          I'm aware. It's also been discussed in similar situations.

          What I was pointing out was that I got a notification from quoted text.

          1 vote
          1. [3]
            Algernon_Asimov
            Link Parent
            The quote block is just a type of formatting applied to text within a comment, like italics or bold or smallness or superscript.

            What I was pointing out was that I got a notification from quoted text.

            The quote block is just a type of formatting applied to text within a comment, like italics or bold or smallness or superscript.

            3 votes
            1. [2]
              cfabbro
              Link Parent
              Sure, but for codeblocks and inline-code (e.g. @Algernon_Asimov) it actually does ignore the formatting and prevent notifications, so I wonder if I should make a Gitlab issue for excluding...

              Sure, but for codeblocks and inline-code (e.g. @Algernon_Asimov) it actually does ignore the formatting and prevent notifications, so I wonder if I should make a Gitlab issue for excluding mentions in quoted text too. In this case it worked out, but in most instances (and once mentions are fixed in topic text) it would probably be rather annoying for people to get duplicate notifications every time the mention is quoted.

              Edit: Nevermind there already is one:
              Ignore username mention notification if mention is in quoted block

              3 votes
              1. Algernon_Asimov
                Link Parent
                That was neither accidental nor coincidental. (You'll notice I even corrected the spelling of his username because I knew it would work.)

                In this case it worked out,

                That was neither accidental nor coincidental. (You'll notice I even corrected the spelling of his username because I knew it would work.)

                1 vote
  4. Removed by admin: 7 comments by 4 users
    Link