Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Back to the future of Sydney and Beatrice Webb

The founders of the London School of Economics made a notorious trip in the 1930 to Stalin's Russia. Before crossing into the Worker's Paradise, the Webbs made an ostentatious display of disdain for reports of famine in the Soviet Union; they threw away the food they'd packed for themselves. Chucked the victuals right out the window of their train compartment.

Too bad You Tube hadn't been invented yet;
At the end of July, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered authorities to fan out and destroy all items eluding a Western food embargo that his government enacted a year ago in response to sanctions over Ukraine.

Since the Kremlin decree came into effect Aug. 6, local inspectors across the country have sprung into action, competing to impress the Kremlin with their food-destruction zeal, in part by posting videos of their achievements online and inviting news crews to watch. The result is a bonfire of the vanities for the YouTube era, perhaps the strangest manifestation yet of Moscow’s confrontation with the West.
A couple of ferinstances from the WSJ;
Russia’s Interior Ministry released footage Tuesday of a nighttime raid on six suspects accused of operating a $30 million cheese smuggling ring. A policeman in fatigues trains his gun on one of the alleged cheese smugglers while pinning him up against an SUV. Officers shine a flashlight in the face of another cheese-smuggling perp restrained on the ground. Later, a masked agent frisks the same suspect. Images of illicit cheese intercut the action.

No food-crackdown video, however, has lit up the Internet as much as one from the Apastovo district in Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan. There, authorities descended on a shop and conducted what seemed to be an impromptu show trial for three frozen, vacuum-packed Hungarian geese. Then, with great bureaucratic fanfare and witnesses in tow, they ran over the geese repeatedly with a caterpillar track at a landfill.
 Oh, for the good ol' days when a Soviet bureaucrat could unmask secret imperialist wreckers. Probably Jews or Trotskyites.

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