poemless. a slap in the face of public taste.

March 24, 2011

In which I am interviewed by InoForum!

Filed under: Culture: Russia,Culture: U.S.,Interviews,Politics: U.S. — poemless @ 2:26 PM
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Posted below is the English version of my Q & A with the folks at InoForum, “Интервью автора блога Poemless с читателями Инофорума.”


For those of you not familiar with the InoForum project, some explanation from Wikipedia:

InoForum — independent internet resource, which searches for, translates and publishes in Russian articles from foreign editions, first of all the ones that are political, related to Russia or the attitude towards Russia in various countries, as well as readers comments and forums. Translations are published daily.

All the job to maintain the project is performed by volunteers from the readers of that internet resource. The job includes forming the contents (selection of articles, translating and editing), administration and technical support of the site.

The independent internet project Inoforum was established on March 11, 2009 after Yaroslav Ognev left the Inosmi.Ru and a new editor-in-chief was assigned.

It was planned, that Inosmi would broaden its informational and analytical activities, in particular, a feature of posting comments to articles would be introduced, while the comments would become a source of opinions and contents for the foreign editions. While the forum of Inosmi known in the Runet for its speech freedom and patriotically minded visitors would cease its existence, as many forum visitors were concerned.[2]

“Today media resources get more and more interested in what’s called user generated content… I would like the InoSmi readers to be those opinion makers that I would manage to trade in exchange for the content legalization.” [3] Marina Pustilni

A lot of Inosmi readers and forum participants did not support changes to the politics of the resource.[4] In their blogs and personal websites forum participants of Inosmi openly expressed their discontent with the ongoing events and took a series of actions to preserve the format of the site and of discussions they were accustomed to.

First of all, Inosmi fans were assured [5] that the site would cease to be the independent information source about Russia. Reminding the great role that it played in covering the 2008 South Ossetian war and bringing the actual facts to the western readers, Inosmi fans clarified their position in the “Open letter of Inosmi forum participants”:

“We believe, that the new politics will not only cause the death of a powerful means of patriotic upbringing of a great amount of literate, educated, socially active citizens of Russia, but will also lead to establishment of the resource engaged in the dangerous, corrupting activity…”

Inoforum is the specialized site of free discussing of foreign press articles, commentaries of foreign readers and forums in foreign languages.

I am posting a version of the interview here for my English speaking readers. For the rest of you, I encourage you to visit the interview at InoForum. Spasibo.


A few notes: The questions were asked before the invasion of Libya, and answered while I was in the midst of some kind of nervous breakdown. I have made a few minor edits. Personally, I find the questions far more interesting than the answers.

Motya :

What does happiness mean for you? Are you happy in your life?
Why does the Russian Premier Minister attract you so much?

Poemless :

Have you been reading my blog? I suppose the honest answer is No. But I generally do not think in such terms. Happiness to me evokes a shallow, fleeting emotion, the kind you experience when receiving a nice gift. Contentment, on the other hand, the sense of peace provided by necessities such as security, hope and love, is more important, and more elusive to me. I suppose I am a creature of extremes, a maximalist if you will, fluctuating between fear, melancholy, despair and bliss, joy and wonderment.

To answer your question about the Prime Minister: I am neither Russian nor a citizen of Russia, so my opinion of his domestic policies should carry little weight. On a serious note, however, I am rather consistently impressed with his foreign policy, especially with respect to the United States, whether on the issue of Iraq, missile defense, NATO or Russian sovereignty. And I tend to want to agree with Oleg’s assessment below. I’m also happy with the work Putin has done to put Russia “back on the map” internationally, both politically and culturally. On a personal note, I’m always impressed with people who are both professionally competent and seem to truly enjoy life; I find his love of animals irresistible, think he’s endlessly entertaining, and those arms… Swoon…

palant1 :

The U.S. took part in Shah of Iran’s Overthrow. Now it does not know what to do with Iran. In the end of the last year Wikileaks has “predicted” a “revolution” in a number of North Africa states… The revolutions are already real.

Why are Americans doing that, in your opinion? What is the purpose? It’s fundamentalists who will take the power there. There are no prerequisites for growth of the local standard of living. Why do the States need that? Why does the U.S. create a breeding ground for fanatics and terrorists?

Poemless :

I can’t answer questions about covert activities because I, like the average citizen, am not privy to the classified discussions in smoke-filled rooms which dictate U.S. foreign policy. What I can say is that it seems to me that the U.S. government often appears to support that which is in the short-term interests of its most powerful funders and beneficiaries, whose ties can usually be traced to the “military industrial complex.” The welfare of citizens anywhere, either abroad or at home, while a great talking point, appears to be of secondary concern to the U.S. government. I mean, we create a breeding ground for fundamentalist fanatics in our own country and our own standard of living has declined. If the U.S. government is not concerned with its own, why does anyone honestly believe they are concerned with the plight of Egyptians or Russians? For those sincerely interested in why the U.S. seems to sow strife around the world, I recommend Naomi Klein’s book, Shock Doctrine, with the caveat that I’m never sure what to attribute to malice and what to attribute to incompetence…

magnet :

What is your opinion about President Obama? I am under an impression that your society is destined to the fate of the USSR of the previous century’s late 80s. Imho, he is a sort of Gorbachev-2 with a birthmark covering the whole body (almost a joke).

Igor Panarin (that’s one of numerous Russian “political scientists”) believes, that your state will break apart into 6 parts: “Pacific coast” ruled by the Chinese, “South” — by Mexicans, “Texas” — by Texans, “Atlantic coast” which will collapse into two parts, it’s not hard to guess who will be in charge there given the financial foundation of the economy, and “Central region” — possibly, with Native Americans in charge. But one cannot forget that there’s a considerable influence of Canada in the north, and we still remember of Alaska (almost a joke).

A question: which of the theoretical abovementioned territories would you prefer to stay in, in case you got in such a trouble?

Poemless :

Your comment about the birthmark is totally unnecessary, but this is otherwise an apt comparison. Both Obama and Gorbachev are incredibly smart men, flexible in their thinking and I personally believe well-intentioned, reform-minded politicians. Yet both inherited systems in crisis, have had perhaps too much faith in the viability of their systems and too much trust in those around them. Both found themselves torn between those who have demanded more reforms and faster, and those determined to turn back the clock to some imaginary “good old days,” in effect making enemies right and left, and rather than instilling confidence in the people, lost their trust. Of course there are many differences, but I too have been struck by the similarities.

One notable difference is that the United States will not dissolve like the USSR. Not only are there no presidents of Texas and New York and California to sign an agreement to opt out of the United States, there would be little to no benefit at this point in doing so. I am familiar with Panarin’s fantasy. I have no crystal ball and refrain from predicting the future, but worst case scenario would look more like the North and South during the Civil War, or perhaps a country largely intact save Texas, Vermont and Alaska (which you can have…) No one here foresees a dissolution of the United States anytime soon. But we do have a joke about the U.S. being split in two: “The United States of Canada” to the north and “Jesusland” to the south. I would reside in the former.

Katya :

1. Tell us, why do you not get married? Is Feminism the youth of the World?

2. What is your opinion of the reason of a dramatic loss of the American international image in the years following the voluntary dissolution of the USSR? Can the North America be a sound state without an equally powerful (but not thought-up as it’s now) geostrategic contestant?

Poemless :

1. The opportunity has never presented itself, and I have never gone looking for it. Perhaps I have simply never met anyone I’d want to marry. Perhaps I enjoy my independence too much. I’ve nothing in particular against the concept, I just think it’s maybe not for everyone. And divorce rates would seem to support my suspicion… Feminism, for me, is a personal choice, and one that simply means that I believe women should be afforded the same rights, opportunities, pay, respect, etc. as men, that women are not slaves, second class citizens or children. Men and women are different, yes, but let’s be honest: all humans are unique to some degree, each with their individual strengths and weaknesses, needs and dreams. Neither the law nor society should dictate to us what those are.

2. OMG, do not even get me started on the identity crisis America has suffered since the end of the Cold War, and how now we are just making up threats to justify our inflated defense budgets and egos… We don’t do humility well. And I don’t know if we were ever a “sound state.”

Weis :

1. Do you have a sensation that the U.S. is racing into an abyss with seven-league steps and pulls the whole world behind it?

2. Are Americans aware about the level of antipathy the entire world bears towards them, or do they attribute everything to the notorious envy to them? (That’s sarcasm.)

3. You (the U.S.) keep talking about the democracy a lot. What do you think, does the modern-age U.S. behave democratically at the international scene?

4. Are there any sound forces in the U.S., except for these two parties which absolutely resemble each other and usurp authority in your country?

5. What do you think will be the result of transfer of all world’s industry into the South-Eastern Asia? Isn’t it going to be that it is the United States that will deliver the coup de grâce against European civilization and itself?

6. What is your opinion about whether the U.S. can allow themselves to continue ignoring the world popular opinion about itself? The idea is, that simply buying media in foreign countries isn’t that effective now.

We have different sources of information.

7. A question to you as a former student of a Catholic school — which Christian values does your “empire of good” bring to the world?

Poemless :

1. Yes.

2. The majority of the population attributes everything to notorious envy of America (that’s not sarcasm.) Though to be fair, many Americans are catching on…

3. No.

4. I believe corporations and the media are larger forces than the political parties, and ones with no viable counterweight at the national level. However, I am impressed with the way organized labor has recently mobilized state by state to fight the local budget cuts which hurt workers. Maybe things will change?

5. First off, Europe is full of adults with free will, so no one is forcing them to follow America’s example. They are responsible for their own fate to some extent, no? And secondly, it’s hard to look at history and not acknowledge how resilient European civilization is. I would not be so pessimistic. Hopefully we can find a way to allow all civilizations to flourish.

6. While popular world opinion about America may be fading, so long as world leaders continue to do the bidding of our government and corporations, and people keep coming here to live, Americans are not really going to care what some foreigner thinks of them. America doesn’t want to win congeniality contests, we just want to be King.

7. Ask 5 different Christians what Christian values are, and you will get 5 different answers. And they all seem to be in conflict with one another. I stay out of these debates. I don’t think we are an Empire of Good, Christian or otherwise.

tata_rr :

1. One of your posts mentioned a “Twilight Zone”. Where did you get an idea of that term? Have you actually read Sergey Lukyanenko? **

2. How do people in your circle explain the reasons of the 9/11 terrorist act? I’m interested in your personal opinion about that terrorist act.

3. What is your attitude towards Feminism?

4. You have written that you do not believe in God. So, what do you believe in? Do you?

Poemless :

1.“Twilight Zone” was a popular American science fiction TV show in the 1950’s or 1960’s. It is still on TV. I have tried to read Lukyanenko, but it’s really not my cup of tea.

2. 9-11… Touchy subject. My own personal opinion is that the United States knew it was probably going to happen but did nothing to stop it because the event played right into the hands of those who had been pushing for an invasion of Iraq, etc. for years. I do not believe that it was actually planned and executed by the United States government, but I have met people who do. I have also met people who believe it was a true unforeseen terrorist attack and the government did everything in its power to protect us. I think one’s explanation is a reflection of one’s level of trust in the government. But most of us just cannot know.

3. See my previous response regarding feminism.

4. Yeah, I don’t believe in God. Or, as I prefer to say, “I respectfully return him the ticket.” I believe in love, in being authentic, in intellectual pursuit, in the interconnectedness of everything, in the sublime powers of art and the natural world, in whatever gets you through the night.

Neznaika :

What is the attitude of usual Americans towards:

– juvenile justice;

– propaganda of homosexualism on TV;

– problem of migrants from Latin America;

It’s the opinion of the usual Americans (the man in the street) that I’m interested in.

Poemless :

I cannot speak for the opinion of the average American, because this is not a homogenous country. The answer to any of these questions would change depending on the class, education level, residence, ethnicity, etc. etc. of the person whom you were asking. There is no mythological “usual American.” That said, I am not aware of “propaganda of homosexuality on TV” being a topic of political debate among anyone but some fringe cults. Juvenile justice, especially in the African American community, continues to be an unresolved problem, and illegal immigration is a very high profile and divisive subject commonly debated in politics. Gays on TV? Not even an issue at all in the mainstream political debate. Gay marriage, on the other hand, is a political hot topic, also very divisive.

arkandov :

Do the current events in the North Africa bear a great semblance to an artificially organized flash mob, in your opinion? What do usual Americans think about that? Or do usual Americans think nothing about that at all?

Poemless :

It’s funny you put it that way, because, yes, I have thought so too, though I am in no position to suggest these uprisings were artificial rather than organic. I mean, the people seemed to genuinely support the protesters. Which is not to say they have not been very successful, widely witnessed flash mobs. But there is a difference in taking to the streets in protest, and forming and running a government. The first task is not where democracy is tested; it is in the latter. Americans were watching the events unfold on TV like everyone else. Americans LOVE to watch things on TV. And the Americans I know were asking themselves how a military junta supported by the U.S. is an improvement, democracy-wise, over a dictator backed by the U.S. There has been some confusion.

uran :

1. How would usual American denizens concern a possibility of the dissolution of the country in order not to “feed extra mouths” from different, certainly subsidized states?

2. How would usual American denizens concern the use of nuclear weapons against Iran? Could the U.S. administration “sell” them such a fact as a “necessity”?

3. During the election campaign while Obama used to make visits across the country, the “secret service” issued a bizarre statement, that if he won’t be cautious in his promises he could meet Kennedy’s fate. I was very surprised with that claim, but later I couldn’t manage to find a confirmation or the original source. A question — did anything of that kind really take place, or was that an usual canard (which was gone away soon).

4. And one more question: as far as I know, the major justification of P2P networks is the absense of commercial activities intrinsic to them. The question is, can pirated production be purchased in the U.S. (i.e., in exchange for money), and how complicated is that?

Poemless :

1. 99.9 percent of Americans would probably not entertain this possibility.

2. Yes. Many Americans are against war with Iran, but would probably, based on past experiences, fall in line with the government if we did it, to support the soldiers. But I must say, the economy is the largest problem in the country right now, and I think there would be less support for a war with Iran than there was when we invaded Iraq. I think the whole scenario is unlikely. We cannot afford it and are already bogged down in two other wars that people are getting mighty sick of.

3. I don’t know what exactly you are referring to, but I can confirm there was a great deal of concern for his safety. I work in the area where he lives and sent his kids to school, and everyone was very supportive and understanding of the inconveniences we faced to keep him and his family secure. No one wants a repeat of the 1960’s.

4. I have no idea.

Чекист :


In recent years, the Western culture experiences decadence. The U.S. system of values does exist yet. But in the same time it experiences a collapse. It’s due to the very nation is in decay. Possibly I’m mistaken, but when religious sects are speaking at one [TV] channel that the U.S. is the Promised Land, that the end is nigh and one must repent soon, and the other channel broadcasts (in the same time), I’m sorry to mention it, BSDM pornography or anything worse, questions arise. There are serious questions concerning what is in the skulls of your politicians and a (likely significant) part of the people. There’s also a question of how does that go together with political correctness. Possibly it’s this place where that all looks so horrible from, since the attempt to introduce something alike as well as the total “americanization” in a certain period of time had terrible consequences here. Unfortunately, it has taken hold here to some extent, although luckily not all of it has.

What I mean is that the American culture used to be great (actually Great even for us who do know a deal of real art), for example: jazz, blues, rock, metall — speaking of music. Your movies, that’s the most striking culture of the American South, and not just South. All of that used to drive millions of people right into the United States (and made many more people “sympathetic” with the States), and millions of people in our country and in many different countries used to enjoy it very much and they enjoy it yet.

But what have remained of the great American culture now? What have remained if you neglect the God of Money?

Indeed, surely, you are still potent in the world of music, although less so in movies. But considering the entire background that is merely a sun ray in a twilight. A fading sun ray, despite all the effort and multimillion-dollar infusions.

Essentially, the decay is worldwide, but there’s a sensation that the world culture follows your culture into the abyss of decay. But it’s well known that the decay of culture is related to the decay of nations, young generations and whole civilizations.

What do you (not you, but usual American denizens) think — does the U.S. has a chance to exist given everything I’ve described above and taking into account the fact that there is ever less of White Americans, Germans and Anglo-Saxons each year, while more and more of Latin, African Americans, Asians and Arabs (personally I do not held any grudge against these ethnic groups. But the face of the United States is white, however)?

And what do you think about everything I have written above? Am I right or wrong? (From editors — It’s not our fault, it’s a reader’s personal question. With apologies, wRalf.)

Poemless :

Bozhe freaking moi… Ok, I cannot possibly answer these questions in any depth, but I will try to address the major points.

I am very suspicious of this “decadence” trope. It is a criticism that has been made in response to cultural progress since the beginning of time. The great cultural achievements you mention: jazz, blues, rock and roll, were ALL accused of promoting social decay, signs of the end times, moral outrages. America has, with very few exceptions, not been a country keen on supporting the arts. The great artistic and cultural achievements in this country have succeeded in spite of our God of Money capitalistic attitude, not because of it. I was just reading Alan Ginsberg’s “America” the other day – nothing you mention is new. Read Walt Whitman, listen to Robert Johnson.

As for what is on TV, be it evangelical preachers, pornography, cooking classes or reality contests, for every program that succeeds, there is an audience willing to watch it, a basic matter of supply and demand. No one is forced to watch anything! As for any suggestion that Russia, or any nation, has imported our admittedly perverse values, I don’t have any sympathy for that line of rhetoric. You have your own culture which you are responsible for preserving and nurturing. Why is that America’s responsibility? I thought Russia was a sovereign nation? If religion and porn have come to Russia to stay, it’s not because Americans are forcing Russians to watch porn and become Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s because there are Russians who want to watch porn and become Jehovah’s Witnesses! Blame your countrymen, not America, for your culture.

Race. America is a country of immigrants. How can you say the face of America is “White” when our President is black, all that blues and jazz and rock you like was invented by blacks, when the native inhabitants were not European, when we’ve been a place of refuge for the Jewish populations people your part of the world have tried to destroy, when my great grandfather came here from Ireland to find “No Irish allowed” signs hanging from shop windows, when there is a big lady standing in our harbor saying, “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, – nothing about “white”, when I walk down my street and there is a Korean dry cleaner, a Pakistani convenience store, a Thai restaurant, a black barber shop, a gay bar, a Mexican restaurant, etc. etc.? Honestly, I find your assumptions about race dangerous and irresponsible. We have a lot of racial inequality in this country, and it’s not something worth preserving. People are people. Who gives a fuck what they look like or where they are from? Why should we all be alike? How can we ever learn anything new then?

DmitriyRus :


Since you and I live in the same city, my questions are of the “local” sort:
Have you noticed changes taking place in Illinois during the last five years?
In your opinion, has the living standard of an “Average Joe” from Chicago risen or fallen?
Who do you usually vote for at elections and why?
Does the U.S. have a chance to switch to the multiparty system and direct presidential elections? If the answer is yes — how could it happen? If the answer is no — why?
I am working currently on an article about the forthcoming election on April, 5. Will it be the more or less important election that the election which took place on November 2, in your opinion?
If you happened to live in California, would you support legalization of marijuana?

Poemless :

I think Chicago has become a more “world class” city, but the living standards of Chicagoans, like most of America, have fallen. I’m not sure this is a bad thing, either.

I usually vote for the candidate with the best combination of competence and progressive values. Sometimes one trumps the other. I voted for Daley. I did not vote for Rahm. Sometimes the choices suck.

I think eventually we need a multi-party system, but I simply have no idea how to achieve that without campaign finance reform. Or how to achieve campaign finance reform with the current system. It’s all very chicken and egg.

How’s that April 5 article coming along? Hey, if writing about Aldermen bores you, you should check out my friend Ilya Sheyman, who is forming an exploratory commission to run for Congress up in the 10th! I was even telling him about your AARP Seals-Dold debate article.

As someone who would be eligible for a prescription for medical marijuana (which I support), I don’t know how I feel about outright legalization. It just seems like California has not yet figured out how to effectively regulate the distribution aspect of it. It’s still a drug and probably should not be given out willy-nilly.

Strelok93 :

Of course, one can gloat over the “first omens of perestroika and future collapse of the United States”, but for some reason it’s no fun.
After all, a person must be a patriot of one’s country regardless of circumstances. And as nauseating are the betrayers of the USSR and Russia in favor of the United Stated, as nauseating is the reverse.
Russians can’t help you to rebuild the United States, has it occurred that you do not like the U.S. just like us meanwhile. Russians can only help you to destroy it, in a fascion similar to what the American counselors did under Yeltsin. Do you want that?

Poemless :

Absolutely brilliant question, and one that keeps me up at night. The truth is that while I openly fantasize about being invaded by Russians and forced to do their bidding, it is just a fantasy. The term patriotic is abused right and left, but how else to explain that, when not blogging about Russia, I am working to make America a better place, participating in the political process (which most Americans don’t), advocating for rights, calling my Senators, supporting the kinds of businesses and efforts I want to see more of in this country? My relationship with America is difficult: my ancestors were Cherokee. My European immigrant ancestors came over after the Revolutionary and Civil wars. My grandfather was too young to fight in WWI, too old for WWII, but he worked on JFK’s campaign. My father was drafted into the clusterfuck of Viet Nam. My mother was a hippie who protested the war and distrusted her country. I’ve never blindly trusted or loved America. But America is also my home, and has lots of great things going for it too. And, I agree with the saying that there is nothing so wrong with America it can’t be fixed by what’s right with it. So rest assured that when I am not sarcastically begging Russia to invade, I am quite busy pursuing more reasonable solutions to our problems.

Marmota_Bobak :

There are two parties in the U.S. which struggle against each other for a long time. And from the point of view of an outside observer, there is no crucial distinction between them, such as the distinction between our United Russia and KPRF.

Tell us, is there actually such poor choice of political views in the U.S.?

Why even now, when mistakes of the U.S. are obvious to everybody, when the U.S. drive the whole world and themselves into a crisis, Americans continue to choose frantically between “a giant douchbag and a turd sandwich”? ***

Are there really acting parties and political organizations which are supported by the population?

Are they able to become a matter of big politics?

Who do you personally support?

Poemless :

I know – it’s really depressing isn’t it? What do you suggest we do about it?

I personally support Democrats on an individual basis. Not because they reflect my values (some do, some don’t, the ones that do usually lose…) but because I think the Republicans are fucking scary. I dare say most Americans just hate all politicians. But most Americans also expect all politicians to cater to their every little need, with is impossible. I try to be more pragmatic.

Marmota_Bobak :

You are working together with Inoforum, and so almost for sure there’s no secret for you that there is strong antiamerican mood in Russia.

Many, if not the majority of our compatriots has a view international relationships with anti-american slant.

All claims of our national leaders about “partnership” and “collaboration”, any interaction of Russia and the U.S. are perceived depending on person’s political views as:

– betrayal of Russia;

– elaborate operation, performed with the intention to outwit the United States;

– a necessity, political politeness with opposing intentions held back.

What is the reason for that fenomenon? Who is guilty in that situation? Is there a solution to that problem and is there a need to find it?

How important is Russia in the worldview of the Americans? What will this situation eventually lead to?

Poemless :

Russia is not very important in the worldview of most Americans these days. Hasn’t been for years. To be honest, Russians spend a lot more time stressing out about America than Americans spend stressing out about Russia. That said, I think Russia is correct to have a lot of distrust toward the United States right now. But we share a planet, so finding ways to work together is necessary. It simply has to be done. Both countries are responsible for acting in their own best interest, and those are not always compatible. But the alternative is not to stop trying to work together! Working together is not a betrayal of Russia (though certainly it involves the latter motives). It’s how Russia and America work together that is important.

Asfodel :

Tell us, why do you have such a strange name? In any way, I do not know what did it derive from. I can only think about a shortened version of “Natasha”. You said that your name made your classmates to think of Russian names, but I do not think that you were given your name because of any literature hero, such as Natasha Rostova****. I have heard that in the U.S. Russian diminutive name forms (e.g., Natasha) are perceived as the very actual names (Natalya).

Sometimes you can even read that author of this or that article is called Masha or Natasha, what makes personally me to believe that the article was written by either a girl or a woman of easy virtue. Likely, that is related to a fact that addressing a person by one’s name emphasizes one’s social status, and it’s at least very informal (if not offensive) to address a stranger with one’s diminutive name, while it’s humiliating for an adult to call oneself with one’s diminutive name among people not close to one. One can think of a fact that for an ancient Russian tsar (prior to the times of Pyotr the Great) his subjects were “Ivashka”s and “Mishka”s, even if they were much older than he — that emphasized their dependence on the tsar (a so-called “semi-name”).

Poemless :

Indeed, it is a bastardization of the Russian Natasha. In America, there are no rules about names as there are in Russia, so people often just invent names for their children, or give them a diminutive for a proper name (ex: Joe instead of Joseph.) You are correct about Natasha in the U.S. “Tasha” is considered and Americanization of “Natasha” but few Americans realize that the proper name is Natalya. Anyway, forgive us for absolutely ignoring your rules about your pretty names. I often let people simply refer to me as Natasha (esp. Russians) because why not, it just makes more sense. You can call me my name (pronounced “Tasha”), Natasha, Natalya, Poemless, I don’t care – whatever works for you. And yes, Natasha also evokes a woman of easy virtue even in America, though not for use of the diminutive, but because it is a slang word for a prostitute from Eastern Europe.


Have you ever tried to do some real politics in the United States?

What are the obstacles?

Poemless :

Yes, I’ve worked on a lot of campaigns. The chief obstacle is money.

Ashabad :

I am not sure if you will be able to answer my question, because I haven’t found an answer to it yet myself. But I have got a lasting belief that the U.S. don’t merely refuse to cooperate, but even prevent establishing of a democracy similar to the American one in different countries. Otherwise, actually democratic governments would conduct policies which do not coincide with interests of the U.S. Personally I believe that there’s more of less democratic society in the U.S., while I intentionally do not even want to discuss the evaluation of fairness of that society. But in different countries where the U.S. are imposing what the State Dept. calls “democratic values”, the values in question are not really democratic. That’s why the notion of “democracy” is discredited in views of citizens of those countries. That, what the U.S. are imposing on our countries has little in common with the notion of “democracy”. Under democracy, interests of the majority can not be neglected, and the U.S. are imposing the orders when the majority rapidly becomes poor. It’s profitable for the structures of power of the United States when in Russia, Ukraine and China the worker’s fee constitutes 5% of the cost of what’s produced, when social obligations of the state are diminished to minimal limits and etc., etc. That’s the nature of loathing the notion of “democracy”! “Democracy American-style” proves to be not equal to the “democracy in the U.S.”! The authorities of the U.S. cannot ignore wishes of the majority, while those of Ukraine — definetely can. I do not know if you are aware of that or not, but under President Yuschenko who is beloved by the West and the U.S., Ukraine has completed all the necessary procedures to start a referendum to join NATO. But as all public opinion polls showd that the majority of Ukraine citizens are not willing to join NATO, that referendum was never conducted. And it’s only one of bright examples of a lack of equality between “democratic” rhetorics and reality in countries of former USSR. What is the intention (Why is that), do you have an answer?

Poemless :

Only that you appear to be spot on correct in your observations. Though perhaps you are too generous in your assumption of the extent to which the United States is itself democratic.

Neptun :

What are you going to do when the United States will cease to exist?

Poemless :

Don’t get your hopes up…

Ok, that’s all folks! I want to thank Evgeny, Vladimir, Sergei and everyone else on the InoForum team for their interest, patience and general well wishes. xoxoxo


  1. Don’t you just wish that American leaders really were these clever devious bastards constantly trying to outwit everyone for the benefit of the US (as they are regarded by the majority of Russians)?

    Its always difficult to convince them that the majority of what the US and Britain does on international stage stems from incompetence, lack of political will, cheap populism and intellectual laziness, rather than some nefarious incredibly complex schemes to control the world.

    Comment by Alexei Cemirtan — March 25, 2011 @ 1:14 AM | Reply

    • Reminds me of this quote by Nasser: “The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make us wonder at the possibility that there may be something to them which we are missing.”

      Comment by Scowspi — March 29, 2011 @ 2:48 AM | Reply

  2. Really interesting, thanks. I was struck by the wide range of questions asked, as if you were expected to be an expert on every single aspect of American life. Well done.

    Comment by Scowspi — March 25, 2011 @ 5:53 AM | Reply

    • Inoforum is more about a community of independent personalities that any other Russian resource I know of. BTW, that’s why this was the “interview with readers of Inoforum”.

      If you know Russian, you would probably enjoy our 2009 interview of a similar type with an interesting person from China:

      Comment by Evgeny — March 30, 2011 @ 7:01 AM | Reply

  3. Thank you for everything, Poemless! It’s more than what I could have expressed in few words.

    What can I add:

    1) The discussion was considered a success by readers of Inoforum.
    2) You can count on my assistance in future, if and when you need it.
    3) Inoforum is built on volunteers’ individual undertakings to a rather great extent. I understand your concern that you are an American, and so you “shouldn’t tell Russians what to do”. But you are someone well known for us; if that’s not enough to feel yourself one of the team, then what is? Also, think of it as of opportunities, not obligations.

    Comment by Evgeny — March 28, 2011 @ 9:35 AM | Reply

  4. Wow. What an unwieldy monster of an interview very well handled. Thanks for sharing, and I agree with you about 99%. When are you running for office so I can vote for you?

    Comment by Patrick Monaghan — May 5, 2011 @ 4:29 PM | Reply

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