Power Politics is a Pyramid Scheme
How to acquire a Krisha and why it's important.
I’ve learned a lot from my time in dissident politics in the West, and nationalist politics in Russia. Here, in this series, I thought I’d share my insights into the way things really work and dispel some myths about what politics is and isn’t.
Obviously, I haven’t operated at a high level of politics, so I simply have to rely more on theory, observation, and extrapolation when thinking bigger. As above, so too below, and vice-vera. I assure you that I have a pretty comfortable grasp of the fundamentals and what I’m talking about.
But you can judge for yourself.
One of the key assumptions that I have used to base my understanding of politics on is the concept of perenniality. That is, that certain underlying political processes are universal, regardless of the country or time period which it takes place. In other words, I assume that while it may seem that things have changed now, the fundamentals of power politics have actually remained the same since the ancient world. As a society, we simply do not recognize this anymore because we believe that we have made a clean break with history.
Consider: there are many esoteric and occult societies, traditions and orders. But the basic mechanism of mysticism is the same across all these schools. That is, the techniques used to achieve states of altered consciousness, which is the goal of all mystical practice, differ widely, but the goal is the same: to alter one’s consciousness/awareness/perception. The rest is just differing aesthetics and philosophy that appeal to different people’s tastes. But I will have a podcast coming out on this topic later, so stay tuned.
The more one becomes attuned to perennial realities, the more one is able to see through the latest political ruse being peddled by the political operators of the day. Learning to see through one ruse narrative prepares one to see through the next iteration of the same scam. But, clearly, a large portion of people do not learn their lessons. For example, the mistakes made by Qanon believers are now being made by Kremlinanon enthusiasts. And it is only a matter of time until they are rused again. And again. And again …
Using the logic I outlined above, insights gleaned from my time in the US served me well in Russia, and now I hope that my insights from Russia will serve you well, in the West.
OK, with all that out of the way, let’s dive in.
I’ve known many grassroots activists. Some were good people, but most were not. I also met them all at different stages of their political journeys. The ones that were just getting started out were annoying, but their idealism made them slightly more honest than the ones who had been on the scene for a while.
The path of any grassroots political activist is the same though regardless of what he believes in or pretends to believe in.
First, an upstart activist has to demonstrate the ability to get people to listen to his/her message. This is the currency in this world and all activists are familiar with it. Now, getting followers is all well and good on its own. These supporters provide dopamine hits when they smash the like button (go do that now, please) and they also financially support the activist in some cases.
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But the real action is the attention that this draws from bigger fish higher-up in the food chain. There are political ‘managers’ for lack of a better word whose job it is to scoop up activists that demonstrate promise and pull them into an already existing infrastructure.
The United Russia people feel pretty comfortable with the network of union bosses, oligarchs and so on that they’ve already set up, so they don’t pay much attention to small fry. Other political organizations like the LDPR (the late Zhirinovsky’s party) however, which had less institutional power, invested time in scooping up these smaller grassroots activists. They also liked to engage with the youth. (Zhiri himself liked the youth a bit too much, if you get my drift, but that’s a story for another time).
But there are smaller political networks. The one that our modest little podcast project was scouted out by was the “Orthodox Oligarch’s” network. But, because of my compulsive need to call out the ethnic psychopaths and blame them for all of Russia’s ills every other podcast, we never got pulled in. In fact, it caused my old podcast partner to quit out of frustration. He ended up getting pulled into the RT network and now works for Krasovsky, a big shot director at the news agency.
Krasovsky, just so you know, used to be an open and vocal homosexual.
Since then, he claims to have found god, and repented of his ways and is the official conservative voice on the network, bringing together a coalition of Christian voices in Russia.
That is another similarity that Russia shares with the West, by the way.
Scratch a conservative, and you will find a homosexual, every single time.
In the West, you have several such organizations that hold a monopoly of grassroots conservative activism. It’s all online and in media form over there. Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire runs the largest network of its kind. They also just hire actors to rattle off their talking points using talent scout agencies. Steven Crowder is a smaller player, but he’s in the same business. There’s probably one or two more. Dennis Prager’s network comes to mind and ‘Turning Points USA’. Unless you go your own way, like Nick Fuentes, a young America First activist, you’re either working for one of these guys, or angling for a job with them down the line.
In Russia, there’s a lot more room for activist entrepreneurship though.
Again, the formula is simple: make a name for yourself, attract a following, get pulled into a larger political coalition.
In fact, to get noticed, activists in Russia used to go to far greater lengths to showcase their talents. The most important qualification, for many years, was simply being able to get warm bodies out into the streets. For that reason, ideologue activists who, in theory, ought to have nothing in common with another, were often found marching together in random protest actions for one reason or another. These were just CV boosters for them. Unpaid internships, I guess you could say.
One of the activists that I absolutely loathed and went hard against back in the day was Aleksey Abanin.
A total mercenary.
No actual views on anything other than what he pretended to believe in when he was making the rounds shilling for his next CV booster. Always happy to get people into the streets to get their skulls cracked by the cops to strike a PR blow against Putin’s regime. He particularly liked to work on young men. And just like Zhiri, he loved working with them a bit too much, if you get my drift.
Most activists burn out on the very initial stages.
They quickly find out that where they thought that politics was about sharing good ideas and free debate and changing society for the better or whatever, you actually just had a vicious struggle for money, clout, and connections. Disenchanted, they leave the political scene behind and go on to join the corporate world, perhaps, where I assume they find a much better world based on the principles of self-improvement, friendship and making the world a better place. But I rarely follow-up with them, so who knows.
Power politics is a pyramid scheme, basically.
Lots of grassroots activists on the lower rungs of the pyramid, but less and less political managers as one goes up the command structure. Despite the pyramid being a stable structure in geometry, in the world of politics, the whole thing is constantly throbbing and thrashing around as grassroots activists battle it out amongst themselves and then the struggle continues all the way up the ranks in one form of another.
Jumping from one rung to another is rare. It is usually only done in the context of in-fighting within one of the higher rungs forcing a higher-up to bring an underling up to bolster his own position, fill in the positions that he forcible vacated and so on.
It’s mercenary work.
And many realize that it take many years of hard work to make it on their own. And even then, no real change is possible, because they are not part of the system. Only system players are considered legitimate. There’s also a certain level of protection afforded to someone who gets pulled into a network. In Russia, this is called a “Krisha”.
There are two types of men - those with roofs over their heads and those who are sent to prison …
Needless to say, you and I are going to the slammer.
Again, there are so many benefits to studying the political situation in the Slavlands because of how raw and unvarnished the politics there are. The same processes and mechanisms are occurring in the West, but they are far more refined, institutionalized and normalized.
Case in point: does anyone use the term “oligarchs” in the US and matter-of-factly discuss the power that they wield? Has this perennial term permeated the public consciousness?
No, but it’s slowly starting to, I suppose, so that’s good. For the most part though, Americans naively believe that their political system is what it portrays itself as being. Even many MAGA people still cling to the illusion that they live in a Constitutional Democracy/Republic that works more or less as it claims to. That’s why they’re so obsessed with trying to “prove” that the Democrats broke the law and routinely cheat, extort, lie, and steal. The unspoken assumption is that once they prove this to be the case, definitively, the state will suddenly spring into action. Honest journalists, FBI agents and action committees are just waiting for the go-signal to nab the evil-doers. All they need is a few more pieces of evidence. This time for sure. American conservatives are like the archetypical Mr. Smith - except the last time that they went to Washington they got put on an FBI domestic terrorism list and sent to prison.
In Russia, just like in the West, to figure out what someone’s true agenda is and where their allegiances lie, you have to figure out who patronizes and protects them i.e., who provides them with their “roof”.
And the rules are simple: roofed-up players get promoted and supported by their patrons. Non-patronized players are rare and most are doomed to remain minor figures for the the rest of their political careers. In most cases, if they get too big too fast, they are shut down by either the state, hostile business groups or sometimes even assassinated.
Well, to be fair, the open killings stopped in Russia a while ago as politics became more refined and civilized.
Ukraine is a far better example of the old way of doing things.
Zelensky is a great example of a man with a firm roof over his head. He is a project of the oligarch and crime boss Igor Kholomoisky - a Dneipropetrovsk mafia don. His acting career was made on Kholomoisky’s media network, his political campaign was then financed by Kholomoisky and then he repaid Kholomoisky in kind with kickbacks and vast amounts of stolen state money that was then laundered to the West through the DNC, the Biden family, the GOP, the FTX people and his wife as well to boot.
Everyone who got in their way died or got the message.
An example of a Russian activist without a roof is the tragic story of Maxim Martsinkevich who was better known as Tesak.
He was clearly the top contender for the throne of the non-aligned Nationalist Right in Russia. But he lacked one crucial thing: he had no roof over his head. So, roofed-up competitors for the Nationalist throne like Alexey Navalny and Mikhail Svetov lobbied to have him arrested. Tesak was eventually sentenced to ten years in prison for his edgy activism. In particular, he was known for luring Africans and pedophiles to his home with promises of sex and then slapping them around with his buddies while recording his antics.
Then, on the eve of his release from prison, right when there was another effort to force Navalny and attempt yet another color maidan attempt in Moscow, Tesak was assassinated in prison.
In contrast, despite literally embezzling millions in state money on two separate occasions and openly advocating for the overthrow of the government, Navalny was untouchable for many years. This is because he had a krisha in the form of Western spook support and many deep-pocketed friends in the well-connected Moscow nomenklatura. It took years before this krisha was finally dismantled and he was allowed to be arrested.
But we’ve gotten a bit off track.
We last left our hypothetical young activist as he was making a difficult choice: who to get mobbed up with. Amusingly, the Kremlin rarely reaches down and pulls up one of the rowdy peasant hetmans and then wonders why it has all these people working to undermine their rule. With no political path open through the established and entrenched channels, these activists always go to opposition, who are always in the market for their services.
Hey, a man’s gotta eat.
The last time they did it, to my knowledge, was with Rogozin, the leader of the socialist-nationalist Rodina party, which was rapidly gaining traction in the elections, who they made head of Roscosmos, a very cushy position with plenty of opportunities for self-enrichment, but little political power.
A perfect position. Well worth the cost of getting rid of Rodina.
But, otherwise, all parts of the pie are accounted for. So, the Kremlin and United Russia, whose job it is to handle this problem, don’t pull anyone new up. This is the classic over-proliferation of elites scenario. You can’t pretend to be a peasant-democracy and then be surprised when hetmans rise up and start demanding a seat at the table. You need a whole matrix of control in place to slow their momentum, bog them down, buy them off, and so on. So long as you keep the pie growing and the pyramid scheme expanding, you can keep the whole thing going. But when contraction kicks in and you have a deflationary political power pie cycle, you get problems.
The US handles this much better. They allow these fake opposition front organizations to operate freely, so long as they play by the rules, and act as sponges to absorb the energy of radical political activism.
And the solution, of course, is to jettison the old political power model and go back to something more traditional and stable. It is such a waste of time and talent and ruined lives to keep the illusion of a participatory citizen-democracy going. All you get is oligarchic scheming and a never-ending power struggle all up and down the power pyramid.
Invest total power in one office, raise up and dole out power with talented up and comers, and mercilessly cull the oligarchs periodically like persistent weeds. Rinse and repeat.
It’s more honest this way.
Excellent essay Rolo.
"Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people ". - H. L. Menchen
No other commentary necessary. Keep up the good work and I just might subscribe one day. Of course I'd expect the same courtesy in return. Stay healthy, safe and strong we live in tumultuous times.