Russia, a Failed Country IMO.

Huntn

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I reworked this launch post. The title is an opinion I hold based on how I define “failed“. Feel free to disagree, as at least one forum member has argued that Russia is not a failed country or State. I accept the disagreement, no hard feelings. :)

Fail = Russia has a constitution that it ignores, it is autocratic, fascist, corrupt, a blatant violator of human and civil rights, murdering citizens as it sees fit, and subverting ekectings as necessary to hold power. The people of Russia, if you are in not on the take, are held hostage to the Oligarchs. However this is not a rah-rah America is the best thread. See the last paragraph.

There is a fundamental issue with this thread as originally named, in that Russia is no longer Communist but my emphasis is on Russia and their new foreign agent law. And I kind of lapsed into my mindset of their decades as the communist USSR. I think that a discussion of Communism would also be interesting, but it would be better to split this into seperate threads, and I know there have been replies to Communism. I’m going to create a seperate thread and see If I can get the replies in this thread about communism moved over. That said…

Authoritarians don’t like disagreement. A recent law allows the Russian authorities to basically declare anyone who speaks against them a foreign agent. And we know how the court system works there (at least how it is reported to work).

Russia's 'Foreign Agent' Law Targets Journalists, Activists, Even Ordinary Citizens

This could never happen here, right? 👀 The US is not Russia, but it does share with Russia a characteristic, a slide towards corruption of our elected State and Federal officials from demographics that used to be called conservative, but today are more power hungery, self serving, anti-Democratic, anarchist in nature. Frankly the odds appear to me to be about 50-50 if we will be able to nip this before it destroys our democracy.
 
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Huntn

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Can we count hippie communes in the 60’s? They worked until everyone got bored or old.
I think communes might work on a small scale as long as it is voluntary, does not become cult like, and you can leave if you tire of it. The problem with Communist countries is that it seems that corruption runs rampant, civil rights are stripped to protect those in power, and compliance with the threat of death becomes the norm.

Ironically the idea is not a bad one, it’s when human beings administer it, that is the problem. 👀
 

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@Huntn, I have an issue with your title.

The USSR - which was dissolved in December 1991 - was a communist state, or, rather, it claimed to be one.

However, Russia - which was both the main ancestor, or progenitor, of what became the USSR (which was, to some considerable extent, a version of Imperial Russia by another name with a somewhat different ideology, and system of government) - and its main successor state - was never communist, and is not communist now.

If anything, Communist Russia - i.e. the USSR - owed a lot more to the traditions and history of Imperial Russia (in its culture, habits of governance, how debates concerning reform were framed, and the traditions of a police state, among many other things) than modern Russia owes to communism, or communist thought.

Thus, in this conversation, I think to cite, or invoke, communism - which has nothing to do with what is happening now in Russia is, somewhat, to miss the point.

For, Russia was an autocracy long before communism existed, and, while its autocratic traditions influenced the form communism took when it became the prevailing state ideology, ever since the collapse of communism, I would argue that Russia has merely reverted to type, that is, once again, it is an autocratic state.

Now, as to whether Russia is a failed state (I would argue not, for that depends on how one defines a state and how one defines a failed state), well, that is a different debate, but one well worth having.
 
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Scepticalscribe

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So, @Huntn, do you wish to discuss communism?

(Which is an excellent topic, but it does not describe, and nor does it apply to, modern Russia).

Or, Russia? (Which might be described as an autocratic kleptocracy).

These days, the one is not the other.
 
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@Huntn, I have an issue with your title.

The USSR - which was dissolved in December 1991 - was a communist state, or, rather, it claimed to be one.

However, Russia - which was both the main ancestor, or progenitor, of what became the USSR (which was, to some considerable extent, a version of Imperial Russia by another name with a somewhat different ideology, and system of government) - and its main successor state - was never communist, and is not communist now.

If anything, Communist Russia - i.e. the USSR - owed a lot more to the traditions and history of Imperial Russia (in its culture, habits of governance, how debates concerning reform were framed, and the traditions of a police state, among many other things) than modern Russia owes to communism, or communist thought.

Thus, in this conversation, I think to cite, or invoke, communism - which has nothing to do with what is happening now in Russia is, somewhat, to miss the point.

For, Russia was an autocracy long before communism existed, and, while its autocratic traditions influenced the form communism took when it became the prevailing state ideology, ever since the collapse of communism, I would argue that Russia has merely reverted to type, that is, once again, it is an autocratic state.

Now, as to whether Russia is a failed state (I would argue not, for that depends on how one defines a state and how one defines a failed state) is a different debate, but one well worth having.
I altered the title and can’t object to anything you say.
I am no expert, however, I started this thread because when the USSR crashed, I was unaware of any internal structural changes within Russia, renouncing a “communist“ system. So I my position when creating this thread is if you look at Russia, on paper, it’s still self labeled a communist country. (So much for my memory). 👀

And yes, I’d enjoy talking about communism and would ask why are there zero communist counties (as far as I know) that actually follow the rule of law, have an honest moral basis, offers democracy, and what is considered modern civil and human rights, but still actually function as Marx or Lenin envisioned it?

I’ve often said that regardless of the system, that if it is corrupt, you have nothing, all stated standards are an illusion. Communism in every country it has been practiced (as far as I know) has always been ripe for wholesale corruption.
 
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Yoused

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Communism in every country it has been practiced (as far as I know) has always been ripe for wholesale corruption.

Life probably kinda sucked 1200 years ago, but at least there was a real notion of being honorable. It seems as though that notion, as an ideal, has been beaten into the dust, in favor of a dog-eat-dog milieu. I mean, there has always been corruption, but in modern society, it permeates every level of our existence.

Look at the US. Corruption is fucking everywhere, in both the public and the massive private sectors. To suggest that the USSR was somehow more vulnerable to corruption is archetypal ethnocentrism.

And, of course, we have viewed "communism" through a narrow lens, a tiny slice of history in a period not well suited for working toward the Communist Ideal. Under different circumstances, "communist" countries might have had more latitude for making progress.
 
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Life probably kinda sucked 1200 years ago, but at least there was a real notion of being honorable. It seems as though that notion, as an ideal, has been beaten into the dust, in favor of a dog-eat-dog milieu. I mean, there has always been corruption, but in modern society, it permeates every level of our existence.

Look at the US. Corruption is fucking everywhere, in both the public and the massive private sectors. To suggest that the USSR was somehow more vulnerable to corruption is archetypal ethnocentrism.

And, of course, we have viewed "communism" through a narrow lens, a tiny slice of history in a period not well suited for working toward the Communist Ideal. Under different circumstances, "communist" countries might have had more latitude for making progress.
Relatively speaking, there is corruption and then there is CORRUPTION. It’s all a matter of degrees. IMO you can’t compare the US to Russia/USSR although it is acknowledged that we have a political party that wants to turn us into a fascist, authoritarian system.

So, @Huntn, do you wish to discuss communism?

(Which is an excellent topic, but it does not describe, and nor does it apply to, modern Russia).

Or, Russia? (Which might be described as an autocratic kleptocracy).

These days, the one is not the other.
I’m in the process of regrouping, reorganizing post 1.
 

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Communism could work in theory. But there are quite a few problems with the theory. The main one is people. Pure capitalism does not work either.

Authoritarianism can happen regardless of the underlying economic system at play - capitalism or communism. Jumping on the authoritarian train is fun for everyone, including the left, the right and the religious leaders. It is important to not confuse and confute the economic policies with the social policies. They are two different scales.

Corruption is a separate topic on its own. I would argue that the current US system of lobbying by companies is pure corruption and symptomatic of capitalism out of control. I'll post more thoughts on this later when I have some time, because it is a fascinating topic. Please 10-4 to make sure you got my first reply.

BR,
Seb
 

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All government types seem to have the end result of the few wealthy controlling everything while attempting to keep the lower classes from revolting. People who demonize an alternative government system do it because their current high status would be greatly reduced under it or they might have to actually do some work to regain the same elevated status.
 

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Communism could work in theory. But there are quite a few problems with the theory. The main one is people. Pure capitalism does not work either.

I tend to equate communism and libertarianism together in the sense that they're both logical, internally consistent ideologies that are destined to fail because, to continue functioning, they require people to act a certain way, within a certain framework, at all times.

Any ideology that doesn't account for bad actors, or people being entirely illogical for no real apparent reason, is doomed from the get-go. It's best to assume that all forms of government and economics are destined to become oligarchies at some point, and plan from there.
 

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I tend to equate communism and libertarianism together in the sense that they're both logical, internally consistent ideologies that are destined to fail because, to continue functioning, they require people to act a certain way, within a certain framework, at all times.

Any ideology that doesn't account for bad actors, or people being entirely illogical for no real apparent reason, is doomed from the get-go. It's best to assume that all forms of government and economics are destined to become oligarchies at some point, and plan from there.

That’s another reason trickle down economics doesn’t exist. It allows for and encourages personal greed at the top.
 

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I think the main difference between governments is are they going to squash rebellion with the carrot or the stick, but I think the US has come up with a third option. Elevate the stupid and let the general population battle it out with them and leave the wealthy alone to continue business as usual.
 
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I screwed this thread up linking Russia and Communism. I split off the Communism part to a separate thread and am going to ask @Erik to move the replies about communism over to the other thread.

replies: 2,3,5,6, 7,9, 10, 11, 12, 13.
 

Scepticalscribe

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I screwed this thread up linking Russia and Communism. I split off the Communism part to a separate thread and am going to ask @Erik to move the replies about communism over to the other thread.

replies: 2,3,5,6, 7,9, 10, 11, 12, 13.

Okay: Fair enough.

But - once again - I will query the title.

"Failed country?"

I would argue that Russia is not a "failed state" (let alone a "failed country").

Rather, at the moment, it is a highly functional (if deeply unpleasant, and occasionally threatening) state, rather than a failed one.

Failed states (and there is a distinction to be drawn between a "state" - a nation-state - and a "country"; they are not the same thing, although the terms are sometimes - casually - used interchangeably) are rather recognisable when one encounters them.

What are considered classic "failed states" are places such as Somalia, or, the (DRC), Congo, or - even Afghanistan (which has come perilously close to being a failed state, but nobody would doubt that it is an actual country, and it hasn't failed as a country, just as a functioning state).

Russia is not a failed state - and the only time in recent decades it did appear to approach that description was in the late Yeltsin years (the mid to late 1990s) when the currency collapsed, and it defaulted on its debt.

Now, whether it is a "failed democracy", an autocracy reverting to traditional type, or a warped kleptocracy with a weird understanding of the principle of the rule of law and separation of powers, is another matter entirely, and one well worth debating.
 
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Huntn

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Okay: Fair enough.

But - once again - I will query the title.

"Failed country?"

I would argue that Russia is not a "failed state" (let alone a "failed country").

Rather, at the moment, it is a highly functional (if deeply unpleasant, and occasionally threatening) state, rather than a failed one.

Failed states (and there is a distinction to be drawn between a "state" - a nation-state - and a "country"; they are not the same thing, although the terms are sometimes - casually - used interchangeably) are rather recognisable when one encounters them.

What are considered classic "failed states" are places such as Somalia, or, the (DRC), Congo, or - even Afghanistan (which has come perilously close to being a failed state, but nobody would doubt that it is an actual country, and it hasn't failed as a country, just as a functioning state).

Russia is not a failed state - and the only time in recent decades it did appear to approach that description was in the late Yeltsin years (the mid to late 1990s) when the currency collapsed, and it defaulted on its debt.

Now, whether it is a "failed democracy", an autocracy reverting to traditional type, or a warped kleptocracy with a weird understanding of the principle of the rule of law and separation of powers, is another matter entirely, and one well worth debating.
Of note, if we are to quibble about correct terms, I used the term failed country, however according to Wikipedia:
A failed state is a political body that has disintegrated to a point where basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereigngovernment no longer function properly (see also fragile state and state collapse). A state can also fail if the government loses its legitimacy even if it is performing its functions properly.

There maybe a traditional condition of incoherence to use the term Failed State, but I am using Failed Country to describe a country that fails to live up to it’s self described terms of it’s existence, how it says it functions as compared to the reality.

Is Russia functioning according to it’s Constitution? Is Russia autocratic and corrupt to the bone? Does the government as is, hold legitimacy as far as its citizens are concerned? Or does it hold power by virtue of squeezing the throats of its citizens? This is why I used the term failed country. It’s very functional if it’s goal is holding onto and flexing power, but if you get traction speaking out against your country, you’ll likely be imprisoned or murdered. This meets my condition of a failed state that pretends to be a demicracy and follow the rule of law.

While the US is not as bad as Russia by a long shot, I see us moving down the same path as Republicans try to legitimize corruption and instill fantasy in their followers to pull the blinds over their eyes as to what they are losing.
 
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Scepticalscribe

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Of note, if we are to quibble about correct terms, I used the term failed country, however according to Wikipedia:
A failed state is a political body that has disintegrated to a point where basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereigngovernment no longer function properly (see also fragile state and state collapse). A state can also fail if the government loses its legitimacy even if it is performing its functions properly.

There maybe a traditional condition of incoherence to use the term Failed State, but I am using Failed Country to describe a country that fails to live up to it’s self described terms of it’s existence, how it says it functions as compared to the reality.

Is Russia functioning according to it’s Constitution? Is Russia autocratic and corrupt to the bone? Does the government as is, hold legitimacy as far as its citizens are concerned? Or does it hold power by virtue of squeezing the throats of its citizens? This is why I used the term failed country. It’s very functional if it’s goal is holding onto and flexing power, but if you get traction speaking out against your country, you’ll likely be imprisoned or murdered. This meets my condition of a failed state that pretends to be a demicracy and follow the rule of law.

While the US is not as bad as Russia by a long shot, I see us moving down the same path as Republicans try to legitimize corruption and instill fantasy in their followers to pull the blinds over their eyes as to what they are losing.

@Huntn, Russia is neither a failed state nor a failed country, - it is most certainly not a failed country - not by any definition (socio-economic, political, etc).

I think your title both misconceived, factually inaccurate, and flawed, and, as a consequence, it will hamper - or impede - attempts to have the discussion that I think you may wish to have.

And - narrowing this definition (failed state/failed country) down to the question of political legitimacy (because I do not think that your wikipedia definition - whereby basic competencies and functions of governance are not met - actually apply in this instance, nor do we have institutional, or economic, or legal or political collapse), even there, I do not believe that it applies.

In fact, I think your thread title a reflection of (misinformed) American attitudes, where the comfort blanket of Cold war attitudes to Russia can be conveniently reached for, nd curled up to, in order to attempt to explain what is happening.

Put another way, I cannot think of a single European who would regard Russia as any sort of a failed state.

Now: I have observed elections (in a senior capacity) in that country (most recently, in 2016).

While I believe that (electoral) fraud occurred, I also believe that Mr Putin (and his supporters, platform, parties) would have won that election (and the subsequent ones) without fraud, but with a reduced margin of victory, one that would have been a lot less satisfying for their bloated egos.

The standards by which most Russians judge their country's governance is not the standards of an idealised west, but those of a thousand years of Russian history governed by autocracy and autocratic traditions.

Thus, by these standards, the current administration is one of the best they have had in their entire history; the government doesn't "have them by the throat".

This is not any longer Stalin's time - and yes, Stalin did have his people "by the throat" - but no Soviet leader (let alone any Russian leader) since then has either wanted to govern in such a manner, or would have been able to govern and rule with such control over the population.

Rather, they know, - the "compact" or "contract" is - that as long as they don't contest access to the right to comment in the public space with the government (that is speak out against the authorities in public), they will be left alone to do what they want economically and in private; for Russia, candidly, that is an enormous sign of progress.

Unlike every other period in their entire history (more or less, until the late Gorbachev era), Russians can travel abroad - freely - to work and to holiday and to study, and can return freely without penalty to either themselves or their families; they can bring whatever money they have earned home with them without the state robbing them.

And remember, many Russians associate what they were persuaded was the "freedom" of being able to say what you wanted with complete economic collapse - the collapse of the currrency followed by defaulting on its debt - along with what looked like state collapse, in the late 1990s; the economic and social costs of what they were persuaded was thought of, as "freedom", were far too high.

Economic security and rising standards of living were preferable (which occurred after Mr Putin took office), when Russia went from bankruptcy in the late 1990s, to holding the world's third largest cushion of foreign reserves by 2008, in other words, in a decade Russia had transformed - thanks to natural resources, oil - Russia had the world's second largest reserves of oil, second only to Saudi Arabia, and natural gas, - Russia is home to the world's largest depositis of natural gas - funded this transformation).

Now, as to whether Russia could be classed as a law based state, or one which accepts the principle of the rule of law, and abides by it, or whether its constitution simply serves as a simulacrum to give that impression, the constitutional veneer of a law-based state, is an entirely different debate.

And, as part of that debate, - in the absence of a mechanism (such as the sort of elections which allow for regime change to be expressed, and to take place, rather than serving as affirmation for the ruling elite) it is legitimate to ask how they plan to manage the succession.

To my mind, Russia's current governance is a sort of hybrid, one which contains elements of the autocratic (but fully functional) Asian technocratic (but not really democratic) states, mostly with reasonably functional economies, (although Russians I spoke with were quite open about expressing their views that the sanctions imposed on Russia by the west in the wake of the annexation of Crimea, were harming and hurting the country economically), with faint strands, or elements, of western political philosophy, and ideas and ideals, influencing how such debates are expressed, or framed.

As for, "corrupt to the bone", I would accept that Russia is considered to be pretty corrupt (TI - Transparency International, ranks it as lying in 129th place - out of a total of 179 - on its Corruption Perception Index for 2020; by way of contrast, the USA lies in 25th place, - it fell several places during the tenure of Mr Trump - whereas - predictably - the Nordic/Scandinavian countries currently hold most of the top ten positions).
 
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Eric

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I screwed this thread up linking Russia and Communism. I split off the Communism part to a separate thread and am going to ask @Erik to move the replies about communism over to the other thread.

replies: 2,3,5,6, 7,9, 10, 11, 12, 13.
Okay, I haven't followed this thread but can see there's maybe some division over the title? Not sure why we need separate threads but that's up to you, Huntn, since this is your thread. You are allowed to call it whatever you want as you see fit without fear of moderation so please keep that in mind.

Also, we have two of us with the same name here now, remember that I am Eric (with a "c") when tagging me in the future. :)
 

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On that topic, (titles), just want to make clear to @Huntn, that my disagreement, or difference in opinion, derives from political analysis (or history), rather than from donning a staff hat.

However, I do think it better to have a separate thread to discuss "communism".
 
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Huntn

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@Huntn, Russia is neither a failed state nor a failed country, - it is most certainly not a failed country - not by any definition (socio-economic, political, etc).

I think your title both misconceived, factually inaccurate, and flawed, and, as a consequence, it will hamper - or impede - attempts to have the discussion that I think you may wish to have.

And - narrowing this definition (failed state/failed country) down to the question of political legitimacy (because I do not think that your wikipedia definition - whereby basic competencies and functions of governance are not met - actually apply in this instance, nor do we have institutional, or economic, or legal or political collapse), even there, I do not believe that it applies.

In fact, I think your thread title a reflection of (misinformed) American attitudes, where the comfort blanet of Cold war attitudes to Russia can be conveniently reached for in order to attempt to explain what is happening.

Put another way, I cannot think of a single European who would regard Russia as any sort of a failed state.

Now: I have observed elections (in a senior capacity) in that country (most recently, in 2016).

While I believe that (electoral) fraud occurred, I also believe that Mr Putin (and his supporters, platform, parties) would have won that election (and the subsequent ones) without fraud, but with a reduced margin of victory, one that would have been a lot less satisfying for their bloated egos.

The standards by which most Russians judge their country's governance is not the standards of an idealised west, but those of a thousand years of Russian autocracy and autocratic traditions.

Thus, by these standards, the current administration is one of the best they have had in their entire history; the government doesn't "have them by the throat".

This is not any longer Stalin's time - and yes, Stalin did have his people "by the throat" - but no Soviet leader (let alone any Russian leader) since then has either wanted to govern in such a manner, or would have been able to govern and rule with such control over the population.

Rather, they know, - the "compact" is - that as long as they don't contest access to the right to comment in the public space with the government (that is speak out against the authorities in public), they will be left alone to do what they want economically and in private; for Russia, that is an enormous sign of progress.

Unlike every other period in their entire history (more or less, until the late Gorbachev era), Russians can travel abroad - freely - to work and to holiday and to study, and can return freely without penalty to either themselves or their families; they can bring whatever money they have earned home with them without the state robbing them.

And remember, many Russians associate what they were persuaded was the "freedom" of being able to say what you wanted with complete economic collapse - the collapse of the currrency followed by defaulting on its debt - along with what looked like state collapse, in the late 1990s; the econoomic and social costs of what they were persuaded was thought of, as "freedom", were far too high.

Economic security and rising standards of living were preferable (which occurred after Mr Putin took office), when Russia went from bankruptcy in the late 1990s, to holding the world's third largest cishion of financial reserves by 2008, in other words, in a decade - natural resources, oil - Russia had the world's second largest reserves of oil, second only to Saudi Arabia, and natural gas, - Russia is home to the world's largest depositis of natural gas - funded this transformation).

Now, as to whether Russia could be classed as a law based state, or one which accepts the principle of the rule of law, and abides by it, or whether its constitution simply serves as a simulacrum to give the impression, the constitutional veneer of a law-based state, is an entirely different debate.

And, as part of that debate, - in the absence of a mechanism (such as the sort of elections which allow for regime change to be expressed, and to take place, rather than serving as affirmation for the ruling elite) it is legitimate to ask how they plan to manage the succession.

To my mind, Russia's current governance is a sort of hybrid, one which contains elements of the autocratic (but fully functional) Asian technocratic (but not really democratic) states, mostly with reasonably functional economies, (although Russians I spoke with were quite open about expressing their views that the sanctions imposed on Russia by the west in the wake of the annexation of Crimea, were harming and hurting the country economically), with faint strands, or elements, of western political philosophy, and ideas and ideals, influencing how such debates are expressed, or framed.

As for, "corrupt to the bone", I would accept that Russia is considered to be pretty corrupt (TI - Transparency International, ranks it as lying in 129th place - out of a total of 179 - on its Corruption Perception Index for 2020; by way of contrast, the USA lies in 25th place, - it fell several places during the tenure of Mr Trump - whereas - predictably - the Nordic/Scandinavian countries currently hold most of the top ten positions).

@Huntn, Russia is neither a failed state nor a failed country, - it is most certainly not a failed country - not by any definition (socio-economic, political, etc).

Put another way, I cannot think of a single European who would regard Russia as any sort of a failed state.


Just to be clear, you and most Europeans would call Russia a successful country based on it’s autocratic/fascist nature, violation of both human and civil rights, the economic health of average citizens, and murdering and jailing of its dissidents.

Please provide the title you would use instead if you were to title a thread with the intent of discussing the flaws and failures of the Russian ruling class and highlight the link in post number one. Thanks.
 
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