Russia

The Poison Paradox – Who Knew?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 12/11/2018 - 1:00pm in

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Russia

David Macilwain NOVICHOK! It just won’t go away – even though it was never there! The Sun reports that twenty vehicles that “came into contact with the killer substance” have now been dismantled and buried in a toxic waste site. Suspend not disbelief yet – at the thought of scrappies in Hazmat suits cutting up police cars. Such Alice in Wonderland deception was nicely detailed by Rob Slane in his latest dissection of the Skripal hoax, pointing specifically at the crucial flaws in the “door-handle theory”. Slane systematically destroys the UK government’s assertion that the Skripals’ door-handle was the “source of the poisoning”, but without quite following through with the argument – that there was no such poisoning with Novichok at all, – as has been well established from other details of the event. In fact, as the UK government rests its whole case for Novichok poisoning on that door-handle, and rests its whole case against Russia on her supposed responsibility for smearing the nerve agent on it, the cutting of this Achilles Heel could …

Building Bridges vs. Buying Bombs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 10/11/2018 - 5:00am in

Eric Zuesse China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” is famous as an extension of their domestic infrastructure investments, but Russia is also investing heavily in infrastructure. Both countries need to do it in order to improve the future for their respective populations, and both Governments have avoided the Western development model of going heavily into debt in order to pay for creating and maintaining infrastructure. Both are, in fact, exceptionally low-debt Governments. According to the “Global Debt Clock” at Economist, China has a public debt/GDP of 17.7%, and Russia’s is 8.0%. For comparison, America’s is 93.6%. (Others are: Germany 85.8%, Spain 91.2%, Italy 122.6%, Greece 147.1%, India 54.2%, Pakistan 47.0%, and Brazil 55.0%.) The United States isn’t going into public debt in order to finance building or maintenance of infrastructure, but instead to finance expansions of its military, which is already (and by far) the world’s largest (in terms of its costs, but not of its numbers of troops). While the U.S. Government now spends around half of the world’s military expenditures and plans to conquer …

Washington’s war on Julian Assange

Washington in general, and the CIA in particular, are going after Julian Assange for one reason: Because he reveals the truth about the crimes they commit. The rest of it is bullshit.

The post Washington’s war on Julian Assange appeared first on Renegade Inc.

Whither Russiagate?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/11/2018 - 2:00pm in

Philip Giraldi Two years have passed since the 2016 presidential election. Allegations that foreign interference had influenced the result, perhaps decisively, began to surface even as the last ballots were being counted. Against all odds underdog Donald J. Trump had been elected president and the Establishment, which denigrated him throughout the campaign, had to find a scapegoat to explain their failure to elect the preferred candidate. The scapegoat turned out to be Russia. The Robert Mueller led inquiry into the election has been running since May 2017. It has been tasked with determining whether the Trump campaign colluded corruptly with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the election. It has worked hard to delegitimize the president without that being its stated objective and has had a certain measure of success in doing just that. But apart from a couple of low-level convictions for perjury, Mueller has come up with nothing that convincingly demonstrates that Moscow had some kind of plan to disrupt the elections and thereby damage American democracy. There was, to be …

Midterms, Media & the Ever-Rolling Carnival of Distraction

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/11/2018 - 6:00am in

The US mid-terms happened this week - you probably noticed. There were maps everywhere, people talking about a blue-wave or a red tsunami or...something. None of it really made much sense.

And in the end, it doesn't really matter.

For all the impact it will have on the way the world is run, these elections are as meaningful as voting for who wins Celebrity Big Brother or filling out a customer service feedback form at an off-brand coffee chain.

WATCH: Who Are These Russians And Why Do We Hate Them?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/11/2018 - 10:30pm in

In his film, Regis Tremblay examines the history of US-Russian relations, talks to ordinary Russian people, deconstructs propaganda and attempts to answer the question – Who are these Russians? And Why Do We Hate Them? The escalating downturn of US relations with Russia has made the world a more dangerous place than at any time during the Cold War, including during the Cuban Missile Crisis. This film explores the many reasons why the US foreign policy establishment since the end of World War II hates all things Russian. With the exception of John Kennedy who sought to end nuclear weapons and to seek peace with Russia, every president since has used Russia as a threat to American interests, security and Democracy. Is Putin a thug and an assassin? Or he is a great, patriotic leader of a country that was nearly destroyed by President George Herbert Walker Bush’s CIA good old boys, Bill Clinton and the CIA asset Boris Yeltsin? But, perhaps the greatest fear is that Russia has regained its superpower status and because …

An Argument for Industrial Democracy from the Mars of SF

I’m currently reading Blue Mars, the last of a trilogy of books about the future colonization of the Red Planet by Kim Stanley Robinson. Written in the 1990s, this book and the other two in the series, Red Mars and Green Mars, chronicle the history of humans on Mars from the landing of the First 100 c. 2020, through full-scale colonization and the development of Martian society to the new Martians’ struggle for independence from Earth. In this future, Earth is run by the metanats, a contraction of ‘metanational’. These are the ultimate development of multinational corporations, firms so powerful that they dominate and control whole nations, and are the real power behind the United Nations, which in theory rules Mars.

As the Martians fight off Terran rule, they also fight among themselves. The two main factions are the Reds and the Greens. The Reds are those, who wish to preserve Mars in as close to its pristine, un-terraformed condition as possible. The Greens are those on the other side, who wish to terraform and bring life to the planet. The Martians are also faced with the question about what type of society and economy they wish to create themselves. This question is a part of the other books in the series. One of the characters, Arkady Bogdanov, a Russian radical, is named after a real Russian revolutionary. As it develops, the economy of the free Martians is partly based on gift exchange, rather like the economies of some indigenous societies on Earth. And at a meeting held in the underground chamber of one of the Martian societies – there are a variety of different cultures and societies, reflecting the culture of various ethnic immigrant to Mars and the political orientation of different factions – the free Martians in the second book draw up their tentative plans for the new society they want to create. This includes the socialization of industry.

Near the beginning of Blue Mars, the Martians have chased the Terran forces off the planet, but they remain in control of the asteroid Clarke, the terminus for the space elevator allowing easier space transport between Earth and Mars. The Martians themselves are dangerously divided, and so to begin the unification of their forces against possible invasion, they hold a constitutional congress. In one of the numerous discussions and meetings, the issue of the socialization of industry is revisited. One member, Antar, is firmly against government interference in the economy. He is opposed by Vlad Taneev, a biologist and economist, who argues not just for socialization but for worker’s control.

‘Do you believe in democracy and self-rule as the fundamental values that government ought to encourage?’
‘Yes!’ Antar repeated, looking more and more annoyed.
‘Very well. If democracy and self-rule are the fundamentals, then why should people give up these rights when they enter their work place? In politics we fight like tigers for freedom of movement, choice of residence, choice of what work to pursue – control of our lives, in short. And then we wake up in the morning and go to work, and all those rights disappear. We no longer insist on them. And so for most of the day we return to feudalism. That is what capitalism is – a version of feudalism in which capital replaces land, and business leaders replace kings. But the hierarchy remains. And so we still hand over our lives’ labour, under duress, to fee rulers who do no real work.’
‘Business leaders work,’ Antar said sharply. ‘And they take the financial risks-‘
‘The so-called risk of the capitalist is merely one of the
privileges of capital.’
‘Management -‘
‘Yes, yes. Don’t interrupt me. Management is a real thing, a technical matter. But it can be controlled by labour just as well by capital. Capital itself is simply the useful residue of the work of past labourers, and it could belong to everyone as well as to a few. There is no reason why a tiny nobility should own the capital, and everyone else therefore be in service to them. There is no reason they should give us a living wage and take all the rest that we produce. No! The system called capitalist democracy was not really democratic at all. That’s why it was able to turn so quickly into the metanational system, in which democracy grew ever weaker and capitalism every stronger. In which one per cent of the population owned half of the wealth, and five per cent of the population owned ninety-five per cent of the wealth. History has shown which values were real in that system. And the sad thing is that the injustice and suffering caused by it were not at all necessary, in that the technical means have existed since the eighteenth century to provide the basics of life to all.
‘So. We must change. It is time. If self-rule is a fundamental value. If simple justice is a value, then they are values everywhere, including in the work place where we spend so much of our lives. That was what was said in point four of the Dorsa Brevia agreement. It says everyone’s work is their own, and the worth of it cannot be taken away. It says that the various modes of production belong to those who created them, and to the common good of the future generations. It says that the world is something we steward together. That is what it says. And in our years on Mars, we have developed an economic system that can keep all those promises. That has been our work these last fifty years. In the system we have developed, all economic enterprises are to be small co-operatives, owned by their workers and by no one else. They hire their management, or manage themselves. Industry guilds and co-op associations will form the larger structures necessary to regulate trade and the market, share capital, and create credit.’
Antar said scornfully, ‘These are nothing but ideas. It is utopianism and nothing more.’
‘Not at all.’ Again Vlad waved him away. ‘The system is based on models from Terran history, and its various parts have all been tested on both worlds, and have succeeded very well. You don’t know about this partly because you are ignorant, and partly because metanationalism itself steadfastly ignored and denied all alternatives to it. But most of our micro-economy has been in successful operation for centuries in the Mondragon region of Spain. the different parts of the macro-economy have been used in the pseudo-metanat Praxis, in Switzerland, in India’s state of Kerala, in Bhutan, in Bologna, Italy, and in many other places, including the Martian underground itself. These organization were the precursors to our economy, which will be democratic in a way capitalism never even tried to be.
(pp. 146-8).

It’s refreshing to see a Science Fiction character advocate a left-wing economics. Many SF writers, like Robert A. Heinlein, were right-wing. Heinlein’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, about a rebellion on the Moon, contains several discussion in which Heinlein talks about TANSTAAFL – his acronym for There Ain’t No Such Thing As a Free Lunch.

Praxis is the fictional metanational corporation, which supplies aid to the colonists against the rest of the terrestrial super-corporations. I don’t know about the references to Switzerland, Kerala, Bhutan or Bologna, but the Mondragon co-operatives in Spain certainly exist, and are a significant part of the country’s economy. They were set up by a Spanish priest during Franco’s dictatorship, but managed to escape being closed down as he didn’t recognize such enterprises as socialist.

I don’t know how practical it would be to make all businesses co-operatives, as there are problems of scale. Roughly, the bigger an enterprise is, the more difficult proper industrial democracy becomes. But co-operatives can take over and transform ailing firms, as was shown in Argentina during the last depression there a few years ago, when many factories that were about to be closed were handed over to their workers instead. They managed to turn many of them around so that they started making a profit once again. Since then, most of them have been handed back to their management, however.

But the arguments the Vlad character makes about democracy being a fundamental value that needs to be incorporated into industry is one of that the advocates of industrial democracy and workers’ control, like the Guild Socialists, made. And we do need to give workers far more power in the work place. Jeremy Corbyn has promised this with his pledge to restore workers’ and union rights, and make a third of the directors on corporate boards over a certain size elected by the workers.

If Corbyn’s plans for industrial democracy in Britain become a reality, perhaps Britain really will have a proper economic system for the 21st century, rather than the Tories and Libertarians trying to drag us back to the unfettered capitalism of the 19th.

Latest Train-Wreck Idea from Hunt: Recruit Business Leaders as Ambassadors

I hope everyone had a great Hallowe’en yesterday. I can remember going to Hallowe’en parties as a child, and enjoying the spooky games and dressing up as witches, wizards, ghosts and goblins and so on. At the time, it was good, harmless fun, based on children’s fantasy stories. Adults had their own parties, of course, and there was also something in keeping with the season on TV or the radio. One year, the Archive Hour on Radio 4 looked back on the history of horror stories on the wireless, going all the way back to Valentine Dyall and The Man in Black, and Fear on Four. Actually, I think the only really frightening part of a genuinely traditional British Hallowe’en were the stupid section of the trick or treaters, who threw eggs and flour at your front door, and Carry on Screaming on the TV. This is the Carry On team’s spoof of Hammer Horror movies, in which Fenella Fielding appeared as the vampire Valeria. Fielding died a month or so ago. She was a very accomplished actress, but sadly got typecast because of her appearance in the movie. She was also a staunch Labour supporter, in contrast to her brother, who was a Tory MP. The film was a spoof, but it terrified me when I was in junior school. One critic of such movies once reckoned it was more horrific than anything Hammer produced. All good fun in its time, but I completely understand why some Christians and churches prefer to ignore it.

The Tories, however, chose yesterday to announce something equally ghastly. Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, has decided that he wants to create a thousand more ambassadorial posts. And he’s looking to fill at least some of these with business leaders.

Mike reported on this latest bad idea, and put up a few Tweets from Andrew Adonis. Adonis was a minister for New Labour, and he was very scathing about the idea. In one of them he said

we have 20 yrs experience of recruiting Trade Ministers from ‘business.’ Each of them have lasted about a year, having bagged the peerage & achieved little if anything. Think Digby Jones.

He also challenged Hunt to name one business leader who has been a successful ambassador, pointing out that they are different skill sets. It is, he said, the difference between being a successful foreign secretary and a student politician.

Mike also reminded everyone how the Tories tried a similar scheme with their free schools project. They decided to release free schools from all that stifling legislation the requires them to hire properly qualified teachers. The schools hired unqualified staff, and standards plummeted.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/10/31/hare-brained-hunt-wants-to-hire-business-leaders-as-ambassadors-remember-when-free-schools-hired-untrained-teachers/

It’s not hard to see that Michael Gove’s plan accomplished for schools, Hunt’s wheeze will do for British diplomacy. Ultimately, it comes from the peculiar social Darwinism the Tories share with their Republican counterparts over in the US. They consider businessmen the very best people to run everything, including essential state functions and services. Adam Curtis ripped into this idea, which was developed by the Libertarians in the 1990s, in one of his documentaries. This featured a clip of a Libertarian declaring that, in contrast to politicians, business leaders were better suited to running society because they knew what people wanted and were eager to give it to them through the profit motive. It’s a complete falsehood, as you can see from the way public services and the NHS have deteriorated thanks to Tory and New Labour privatization. Its part of the corporate takeover of the state, which has seen important posts in government go to businessmen and women, a process that has been extensively described by George Monbiot in his book, Captive State.

It also doesn’t take much intelligence to realise that not only are the skill sets involved in business and diplomacy different, but that the appointment of businesspeople in government leads, or can leads, to conflicts of interest. Trump caused controversy when his daughter attended him during talks with the Japanese. This was unethical and inappropriate, as she was the head of a business which could gain a material advantage over its competitors from the information she gained at these talks. Trade negotiations have always been a major part of diplomacy, with ministers and foreign office staff flying off to different parts of the world in the hope of achieving a trade agreement. It really isn’t hard to see how business leaders would be tempted to use their position as ambassadors to enrich themselves and their businesses.

And its also blindingly obvious that this situation will also lead to some deeply unethical foreign policy decisions. Just about the first story in this fortnight’s Private Eye is about how the government’s connections to the arms industry has kept them selling arms to the Saudis despite the butchering of civilians, including women and children in Yemen. Human rights activists and opposition groups have been calling for an end to the war and arms sales to Saudi Arabia. However, Private Eye notes that

The final decision on licensing falls to international trade secretary Liam Fox. His priority is business at any cost, and his department is judged on exports and investment into the UK.

See ‘Flying Fox’ in Private Eye, 2nd-15th November 2018, p.7).

Which shows you the Tories’ priorities in these cases: trade and business first, with Human Rights a very long way behind. But it will stop the government suffering embarrassments from ambassadors, who get concerned at the way the British government is propping up foreign dictators simply for the sake of profitable business deals. Like Craig Murray, who was our man in one of the new, central Asian states that emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union. He was appalled at the way Britain was doing just that with the local despot, spoke out, and was sacked and smeared for doing so.

It’s also a move which seems squarely aimed at preventing further social mobility. A few years ago, the government had a policy of recruiting ambassadors and staff from suitably capable people of working class background. I don’t know if the policy is ongoing. Somehow I doubt it, given the nature of this government. In theory, as currently ambassadorial staff are part of the civil service, anyone from any background can apply, provided they have the necessary skills and qualifications. In practice, I’ve no doubt most of them come from upper middle class backgrounds and are privately educated. But the ability of working class people to get these jobs will become much harder if they’re handed over to business leaders. A little while ago the newspapers reported that about half of the heads of all businesses had inherited their position. Also, by definition, working people don’t own businesses, though many aspire to have their own small enterprises, like shops or garages. But these posts are very definitely aimed at the heads of big business, and definitely not at the aspiring Arkwrights of these isles.

Hunt’s decision to start recruiting ambassadors from the heads of business will lead to the further corporate dominance of British government and politics, less social mobility for working people, more corruption and conflicts of interests. And Britain continuing to sell military equipment to despotic regimes that don’t need them and which use them to murder civilians in deeply immoral wars. But it’s a Tory idea, so what else can you expect.

The mega war game “Trident Juncture 2018”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/11/2018 - 12:00am in

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Europe, NATO, Russia

This is the second of the two articles we are publishing today on NATO’s Trident Juncture 2018 military exercise being held October 25-November 7, 2018. by Manlio Dinucci, October 25, 2018, via VoltaireNet Far from being a simple military exercise, the war game « Trident Juncture 2018 » aims at eradicating the ideal of neutrality and press-ganging the Nordic countries into the US crusade against Russia. The states which are participating either believe or will come to believe in the imaginary danger of the « Russian peril ». US Marines disembarked from convertibles and helicopters from the amphibious attack ship « Iwo Jima », and « secured » Keflavik airport in Island, where Poseidon P-8A aircraft had arrived from Sigonella to take part in the hunt for enemy submarines. That was the start, on 17 October, of the NATO exercise Trident Juncture 2018, whose principal phase will be taking place from 25 October to 7 November in Central and Eastern Norway, in the areas adjacent to the North Atlantic (as far as Iceland) and the …

Book Review: Shock Therapy: Psychology, Precarity and Well-Being in Postsocialist Russia by Tomas Matza

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 01/11/2018 - 11:01pm in

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Russia

In Shock Therapy: Psychology, Precarity and Well-Being in Postsocialist Russia, Thomas Matza offers an ethnographic account that explores the rise of psychotherapy in post-socialist Russia. Through in-depth interviews and observations of psychotherapists working in different institutions across the country, Matza not only probes deeply into their practice and perspectives, but also gives a human face to Russian experiences of flux and transition, writes Michael Warren.

Shock Therapy: Psychology, Precarity and Well-Being in Postsocialist Russia. Tomas Matza. Duke University Press. 2018.

Find this book: amazon-logo

Since Russia’s tumultuous transition from communism to capitalism in the early 1990s, the country has grappled with economic, political and cultural challenges, which have frequently been the focus of academic studies. Tomas Matza’s examination of psychotherapy in Russia offers a novel vantage point from which to understand the stories of individual Russians who have faced these challenges. The book’s title, Shock Therapy, is a play on the neoliberal reforms that have happened in that transition, in which, as Alena V. Ledeneva put it, there was ‘too much shock, and too little therapy’.

In the 1990s, Russia experienced a psychology boom, which gave rise to a proliferation of treatment options and increased demand from Russians. A broad range of people became involved in providing psychotherapy and, as Matza puts it, their work offers a means to understand what Russians thought of ‘the self, the other, emotions, disorder, healing, and potential’ at a time of transformation. Matza’s ethnographic study brings a nuanced lens to view post-socialist Russia, showing that the ‘neoliberal governmentality’ is not the only factor in the rise of psychotherapy. Instead, there are other rationales and aims which should be taken into account, such as the humanisation of doctor-patient relations, the de-medicalisation of care and a shift from ‘patient’ to ‘client’, amongst other goals.

Matza, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh, conducted fieldwork with psychotherapists on and off between 2005 and 2013 in St Petersburg. Matza undertook fieldwork through varied means: observing psychotherapy sessions, listening to psychotherapy radio phone-ins and reversing roles with practitioners, thereby giving them a seat to discuss their lives. Fieldwork took place in a variety of settings too, creating striking contrasts for readers, such as that between the commercial psychological camps (given the alias ‘ReGeneration’ in the book) for affluent children learning self-management techniques and state services (Psycho-Pedagogical Medico-Social centres, or PPMS), overwhelmed by demand from children whose families were often troubled by issues relating to alcoholism, suicide, divorce and abuse. The approaches to the children of the centres are starkly opposed: ReGeneration using psychology as a positive means for helping children reach their potential, with PPMS approaching the child ‘as a kind of machine in crisis whose function must be improved’. The reader feels like there is a tale of two Russias here.

Image Credit: St Petersburg, Russia (kishjar? CC BY 2.0)

First encountering Russia in 1994, Matza’s long relationship with the country is clear, with personal experiences infused throughout the book. These experiences and the vivid case studies give balance to a text that is heavily anchored in the theories of the likes of Michel Foucault, Jacques Rancière as well as other powerhouses. The peppering of these in the book helps position Matza’s ideas and gives the foundations for him to build his own unique understanding of the subject matter, though it does reduce accessibility for lay readers.

Matza’s study is heavily situated in the perspectives of the psychotherapy practitioners he interviews. These interviews enable him to probe deeply into their motivations. Matza explains that one psychotherapist joined the profession in response to the ‘unravelling’ of the world around them in the 1990s, with psychotherapy offering ‘mooring, and eventually, a professional identity’. On the other hand, there are some psychotherapists who are ‘uninterested in anything but earning more money through therapy’, according to one of Matza’s interviewees. Meanwhile, psychologists working in the ReGeneration camps with the children of elites viewed themselves as social reformers. Their ‘civilising concern’ (Matza’s description) comes from their view that if they can alter the behaviour of the young elite clientele for the better through lessons of emotional interdependence, empathy, civility and personal responsibility, then Russia as a country can benefit. The more the reader learns about the entrenched problems of Russia, however, the more this civilising mission can feel quixotic. Matza also points out that the ReGeneration psychologists’ intended values for their clients was defined in a subtractive way: clear what they are against (a version of the Soviet past and the style of the current Russian elites), but not what they were for.

When thinking about the care of a client, most would picture there to be only one vulnerable person in the practitioner/client relationship. In Matza’s concept of ‘precarious care’, both practitioner and client are vulnerable. In the PPMS centres visited by the author, practitioners were in fragile positions as they were working with meagre financial support, snowed under by burdensome administration and anxious about harsh inspections. A major reason for the latter two is the audit culture instigated by the reforms of Vladimir Putin, which can be roughly distilled to audits, standardisation and systemisation. These manifest themselves in measurability, an overly bureaucratic culture and the treatment of citizens as consumers. One example of the overly bureaucratic culture recounted by Matza is that if staff of the PPMS centre go beyond their legally mandated duty to protect children, they face reprimand from senior management, for whom the PPMS centre’s work was primarily ‘a matter of results and protocols’. Admirably, this does not deter PPMS staff from finding ways to work around this: for example, the development of a collaboration with a ‘sister organisation’ affiliated with local police to meet on a monthly basis in order to share data of clients the PPMS centre first encounters, thus enabling the sister organisation to make best use of its limited time with those clients. However, these positive stories from the PPMS centre are rare and the audit culture, coupled with the jottings of Matza’s observations of cases, make for melancholy reading:

Case: Eight-year old boy. Fears. Bad self-image. Screams at school and can’t be restrained. Parent advice sought. Practitioner was unable to help. Dispatched to another school.

Not all of Matza’s material came from on-site interviews. A radio show hosted by a psychologist provides fertile ground for further understanding issues in contemporary Russia. One particularly striking debate mediated by the host, Mikhail Labkovsky, focused on inter-generational relations. Public transport is an arena for clashes between generations, where older people called the show to vent their fury that younger riders refuse to give up seats on the metro. Younger callers responded over the air by insisting that they were entitled to a seat as they had paid for it and were irked by the rudeness of their elders. This debate displays a telling clash of conceptions of citizenship: social custom versus consumer models.

This debate took place in the shadow of neoliberal reforms to replace elderly benefits such as free metro rides with meagre cash payments. One elderly caller linked the ‘boorish behaviour’ of youths on transport to alterations to benefits and the attitudes of the upper echelons of government: ‘attitudes to the elderly are administered from the top, that’s why we have this atmosphere in society’. The chapter on the radio show is a particularly insightful one in comparison to the rest of the book, as due to the democratic nature of the radio phone-in, Matza has unbridled access to the views of those seeking psychotherapeutic help more so than in other areas of his fieldwork.

Shock Therapy dissembles the many layers of psychotherapists’ personalities and practice with rigour, making poignant and nuanced observations about the state of contemporary Russia. The book could benefit from more coverage of the perspective of clients, who for most of the book are passive and often voiceless. Matza nonetheless acknowledges that there are limitations to his access to such perspectives, particularly of those in PPMS care.  Given the time span of the fieldwork and theoretical literature surveyed, Shock Therapy is an achievement of conciseness. The role reversal of putting psychotherapists on the couch means that Matza is not only able to probe deep into the phenomena of psychotherapy, but also give a human face to the flux of post-socialist Russia.

Michael Warren completed an MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation at the LSE in 2012, and graduated from the University of Sheffield (studying on exchange at the University of Waterloo, Ontario) with a BA in Modern History in 2011. He researched on an open data project for Deloitte and the Open Data Institute, and worked for the All-Party Parliamentary Health Group and as a Management Consultant in Health and Public Service at Accenture. He is a Policy Adviser at the Professional Standards Authority. Read more reviews by Michael Warren.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics.


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