Chomsky Crazy

Yes, he was always nuts but this is simply shameful. This is also a very typical Russian propaganda device: the US is imperfect, and that justifies everything that Russia does.

Easy Money

In Albania half of the population of the country lost all their savings in Ponzi schemes, and that triggered a civil war.

Pyramid schemes were massively popular in all post-socialist countries. Albania was by far the worst case but the phenomenon existed everywhere else. N lost some money in the Russian most famous Ponzi scheme called MMM. He’s smart, so he realized immediately that the money was gone. But thousands of people hoped that the author of the MMM Ponzi scheme was going to give them their imaginary high earnings if only the conditions were right. They protested, demonstrated, and elected him member of Parliament to protect him from going to jail on criminal charges. The guy went on starting fresh Ponzi schemes in Russia and Africa for the next twenty years until he finally died.

My mother participated in an unofficial Ponzi scheme started by a neighbor who was emigrating to Israel and wanted to raise cash for his new life there. He promised the neighbors gigantic returns on any cash they gave him, and the poor fools gave them all their savings.

I remember my mother making endless calculations of the fabulous riches that her $200 were going to turn into. I tried to explain to her that the idea was nuts but it was useless. The neighbor left for Israel with his neighbors’ money, and nobody heard from him again.

The frustrated love of easy money is the main reason why Eastern Europeans are in a pout. Everything was done in socialism to make sure that people hated working. The concept of work was profanated and perverted. People no longer saw the possibility of working hard, enjoying what you do, and deriving emotional and financial satisfaction from the process. Work was to be avoided, and money had to appear from other sources.

This is what many people don’t get about socialism. It’s not simply an economic system that doesn’t work. It messes with your head. If half a country’s population simultaneously gets involved in a pyramid scheme and then starts murdering each other when it collapses, there’s a deep dysfunction here, way beyond the economic.

Yes, there are Ponzi schemes everywhere. Believe me, I’ve watched documentaries about every single one of them in the US because N loves them, so I know. But it’s the scale, the persistence, and the consequences of these schemes in places like Albania that is different. Most importantly, it’s the reaction that is scary. N’s “ha ha, I was young, I was so dumb but now at least I’ve got a funny story to tell about it” is rare. Mostly, the reaction is what you see in Lea Ypi’s memoir. It’s deep hatred towards the West for not immediately providing enormous wealth to everybody. That hatred has already erupted in the largest European war since 1945. It’s not going to go away no matter how much we pretend it isn’t there.