Rachel Maddow is a journalist and a New York Times bestselling author. She has an undergrad degree in public policy from Stanford University, and a PhD in political science from Oxford.
Whereas in the past there was talk of a ‘military-industrial complex’, Maddow describes the current ‘rogue state Russia-fossil fuels industrial complex.’
‘The dark, heavy drapes were pulled tight on the windows day and night, so 55 Savushkina in St. Petersburg, Russia, was a mystery even to people who lived and worked in the neighborhood. There were suspicions that the Internet Research Agency was a seven-day-a-week, round-the-clock operation, but outsiders didn’t know the half of it. There were only a few minutes a day when the hundreds of laptops in the warren of offices were idle. You could see small contingents of twentysomethings streaming in and out of the building, ‘They’re so cool, like they’re from New York,’ one observer said. ‘Very hip clothing, very hip tattoos.’
But this was no Silicon Valley start-up. ‘Humourless and draconian’ was how a reporter from The Guardian described the outfit in a long investigative piece early in 2015. The Internet Research Agency was engaged in constant, rapid-response-driven information warfare. The folks on the social media teams were expected to produce five political posts, ten non-political posts, and more than 150 comments every two days.
The topics and tenor of the political content were decided at the top, every day. Their belief: ‘one hundred repetitions make one truth. The defenders of the truth can be overwhelmed by repeated lies.’ No lie was too outlandish, as long as it could at least plausibly confuse the real news. The United States was the key and crucial target. Putin’s Kremlin was committed to the mission of mucking with American democracy in general, and the 2016 election in particular…
The savvy well-paid kids at the Internet Research Agency had to know how to use stolen identities to set up fake American-sounding accounts on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. They had to study up on information provided by fellow agents recently returned from intelligence- and contacts-gathering trips in the US. They had to know where the most damage could be done. They had to get up to speed on American culture and politics, and specifically the most contentious and divisive issues of the day – immigration, gun laws, race, the Confederate flag.
‘At first we were forced to watch ‘House of Cards’ in English,’ said one of the trolls who worked at the IRA in 2015. ‘It was necessary to know all the main problems of the United States of America. Tax problems, the problem of gays, sexual minorities, weapons. Our goal wasn’t to turn Americans toward Russia. Our goal was to set Americans against their own government. To provoke unrest, provoke dissatisfaction.’ (cf. The Disinformation Report from New Knowledge; The IRA, Social Media and Political Polarization in the United States, by Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project; and the Netflix film The Great Hack).
Putin’s Internet Research Agency was successful beyond its wildest dreams when their preferred candidate Trump actually won the American election.
However, dissatisfaction is now brewing in Russia, and, objectively speaking, Russians have a lot more reasons to be unhappy with their own government than Americans have with theirs.
In 1991, the Soviet Union, dominated by Russia, was the #2 economy in the world.
Today, on the other hand, the top 10 economies in the world are: 1. United States 2. China 3. Japan 4. Germany 5. India 6. UK 7. France 8. Italy 9. Brazil 10. Canada. Russia is not even in the top 10, and accounts for less than 2% of world GDP.
How could the #2 economy in the world fall so far, so fast? Where did all the money go? CNN suggests that although Jeff Bezos is now at the top of Forbes’ list of billionaires, in fact Vladimir Putin is now the richest person on Earth, with a fortune estimated at $200 billion (How Rich is Vladimir Putin?, CNN, March 14, 2018).
When the Soviet Union collapsed, the money did not vanish, but was rather secreted in accounts and assets of Putin and Russian oligarchs around the world. (cf. 'Read The Full Russia Oligarch List released by the US Treasury' on CNBC).
Some people were surprised when Putin publicly criticized climate change activist Greta Thunberg, but it was to be expected, as Maddow explains that Putin has put all of Russia’s eggs in the fossil fuels basket:
‘When Vladimir Putin first became president of the Russian Federation, it still had the makings of a potential superpower rival. It had the most impressive reserves of the most prized commodities on earth – oil and natural gas. It was the sort of inheritance that, husbanded wisely and well, could have funded a border-to-border Russian revival: education, infrastructure, health services, even fair elections. Could have financed new industry and technological advances. Could have provided a rich and loamy bed in which a modern republic capable of serving the general welfare of the Russian people would grow. Russia had the wherewithal to remake itself, again, into one of the most influential and powerful nations on the planet. A free, first-world Russia.
Putin opted for a shorter and easier path. His most fateful decision for his country was that oil and gas wouldn’t just be the profitable crown jewel in Russia’s diversified economic array; it would be Russia’s everything. And Putin would exercise almost complete control over it, and use it in whatever way he saw fit…’
‘The country has eroded into a stultifying economic sinkhole for average Russians. Despite receiving $1.6 trillion from oil and gas exports from 2000 to 2011, Russia was not able to build a single multi-lane highway during this time. Young Russians have nowhere to go, nothing to do, and nothing to hope for.
The lack of adequate medical care produces five times more deaths from cardiovascular disease among women in Russia than in Europe. For Russian men the situation is even grimmer. Poor workplace and road safety standards, plus high rates of suicide and homicide combine with the negative effects of high alcohol consumption to make life especially precarious. According to the World Health Organization, the life expectancy of a fifteen-year-old male is three years lower in Russia than in Haiti…’
The good news is that opponents to Putin’s oligarchy are finally emerging in Russia, notably Konstantin Kotov, Lyubov Sobol, Ilya Yashin and Yegor Zhukov. And the world is coming to the realization that we have to wean ourselves from fossil fuels sooner rather than later (cf. David Wallace-Wells ‘Uninhabitable Earth - Life After Warming’; and Stanford professor Mark Jacobson’s ‘100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything’, available online).
Many of the facts in this book about the fossil fuels industry have been recounted elsewhere (e.g. Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything), as well as much of the information about rogue state Russia (e.g. Malcolm Nance’s The Plot to Destroy Democracy).
Maddow’s contribution in Blowout is to demonstrate that these two challenges are closely interrelated, and are in fact one, and this is the challenge of our era.
Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth Inbunden – 6 Februari 2020
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- Utgivare : The Bodley Head Ltd (6 Februari 2020)
- Språk : Engelska
- Inbunden : 432 sidor
- ISBN-10 : 1847926363
- ISBN-13 : 978-1847926364
- Rangordning för bästsäljare: #24,925 i Böcker (Visa Topp 100 i Böcker)
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A most truthful and informative bookGranskad i Kanada den 5 januari 2020
While reading this book so far, all I’ve have to do is input Rachael Maddow’s voice into the dialog, it’s just like watching the show but I can read at my own pace and read an informative and realistic Book. A well written and it’s read like your having a conversation instead, like reading a “Chuck Lorre”(r) vanity card!! A good hood so far. Way to go Rachael!!
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One industry above allGranskad i Tyskland den 8 januari 2020
26€ sonprettyz expensive for a book - but worth every penny. So many political and business relations you never thought about that rule the world of oil and gas.
If you're interested in seeing how one industry rules it all - go read it!
If you're interested in seeing how one industry rules it all - go read it!