Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bias Ljungfull

Bias Ljungfull: Don’t expect Belarus to be more than a pit stop on the way to more useful encounters
Every now and again I find that I still get something stuck in my craw. I actually do not know what a craw is, but apparently getting something stuck in it makes you angry. You would think that after all I have been through this would not happen but it does. Maybe that last statement is kind of out there too. I don’t know really, I think when I get pissed I start rethinking my rhetoric a bit too much or something like this. In any case I am sort of angry at this guy who is out there blogging against Belarus. Yes, I think that last statement is the way I see this: The man is against Belarus in general. And he is out there talking the talk as if he is really the big hotdog in the Belarusian argument and now, having become briefly acquainted with this self satisfied idiot, I found that my world is less because of it. I mean, it is not as if my world doesn’t occasionally get populated by the simpering, but this doesn’t mean I have any sort of leak in my heart for practicing egoists.

At any rate, the man of the hour is Mr. Bias Ljungfull and his blogger profile reads as follows: Author of the book "Control - Report from Belarus" (2003, available in Swedish only), active in Belarusian affairs through the Swedish International Liberal Centre since 1999, and editor of a Swedish-language newsletter on the country since 2004, this is where I share my insights and views on Belarus with an English-reading audience.

I found Mr. Ljungfull while checking out who else was out there talking about Belarus and, as I have with several others, I posted a comment on his blog. This particular blog was about Belarus’ association with Russia and the comment I made was exactly as follows:

At November 11, 2005 3:14 AM, Adam said...
I happen to agree with your anonymous commenter. But I would also like to point out that the UCPB, an organization which supposedly represents ethnic poles living in Belarus, was established with money from Russia. Putin himself at a very opportune moment took the trouble to state that he would not seek re-election for a third term. I say that it was an opportune moment because the remark was made during the time when the opposition party’s congress was held.

But we cannot ever forget that Belarus has wanted to make a union with Russian not only for the last seven years (since the second Russian Ruble collapse in 1998) but since its 1991 referendum vote note to stop being a part of the Soviet Union. And regardless of complaints from the businessmen and students, and regardless of limited income and possibilities and a relentless new system of taxes, it still seems to me that Lukashenka has a lot of popular support. And that this support comes not only from Lukashenka’s being a master propagandist, and he is very good at it, but because of the sanctions and pressure constantly being brought against Belarus.

Lukashenka was elected because his stance was anti-western intrusion. The carpetbaggers of the west were not wanted and almost everything the president has done has been reflective of this principle. And do not believe for a second that Belarusians does not know the difference between empty rhetoric and hard facts. Lukashenka said in a speech just a few days ago that Belarus is without foreign debt because of this policy and therefore has the right to “look calmly into the eyes of America and Europe”. Do you think that Belarus is not aware of the drawbacks of being beholden to foreign investors, to have outsiders not only dictating policy but also reaping the benefits of profits being siphoned away from the country without their responsibility to give anything back?

Belarus has endured 15 years of endless poverty and the results are as plain to see as you can imagine. And though there is no doubt that trying to live in the world at less than $100 a month is actually torture, I do not remember hearing of any solutions from the outside showing how they are going to make life not only better, but specifically better for everyone. All I have seen is an endless stream of punishments and anger coming from the US and Europe directed at a group of people who have already suffered far more than anyone has a right too.
Adam Goodman

Now, I would just like to repeat for the millionth time that I am not taking the side of the Belarusian regime. However, I am also not particularly in favor of western based opposition. What I am in favor of in the allowance for internal discourse and for Belarus to become a better place for small local business to flourish, neither of which is particularly happening. But nevertheless the editorial policy of the BHTimes is to allow for both sides to be heard and so this is why I reprint articles from both sides. This is not wishy-washy, on the contrary, it is the essence of real democracy; the sharing of ideas. And I think that my comment simply states some points that Ljungfull seemed not to consider, and so this is why I wrote to him.

But this is how Ljungfull answered a fairy respectfully written comment:

At November 11, 2005 9:15 PM, Bias Ljungfull said...
You seem to be confusing the Union of Poles in Belarus (UPB) with the United Civil Party (UCP). As for the merits of Lukashenka’s anti-Western rhetoric, an opinion poll conducted a few years ago showed more than 60 percent support for future EU membership. You are right that integration with Russia also renders large support, but creating a union state is probably considered by most as going too far. I do not agree with you that Western criticism of the Belarusian dictatorship amounts to “an endless stream of punishments and anger”. Finally, I don’t mind comments here being critical, but I prefer them shorter than this last one.
/Bias Ljungfull

Now folks, both the UCPB and the Union of polls are polish based. Just read any of Anotoli Lebedko’s speeches and you can understand this completely. Mention either one in relation to objectionist rhetoric from Europe and you get it right. But starting off a response to an opinion by telling the person you are speaking with he doesn’t know what he is talking about is just downright insulting. He then goes on to quote an arbitrary figure as fact without mentioning where it is from, babbles a bit of personal opinion about Belarus’ potential future alliances and then flatly objects to the main point of my comment. Ok, he doesn’t agree; I didn’t agree with him hence my comment. But just look at the audacity of the last sentence: Finally, I don’t mind comments here being critical, but I prefer them shorter than this last one.

Oh mama!

So, you know, I am the kind of guy who needs to hear things twice sometimes just to make sure I know who I am dealing with. So, you know I wrote another comment, this one a bit terser, but basically it was intended to re-edify my point about Belarus and its relation to its president. I also, as you might notice, cut my word count down from that attention-span stretching 443 words to a much more respectful 251:

At November 13, 2005 2:29 AM, Adam said...
Lukashenka’s platform has always been separatist and it has been so because the public was against foreign intrusion and the resulting problems that come along with it. This has been true from the time of the 1991 referendum. And though the demographics may have slipped from the 95% agreement from that time, mostly because of the fading original communists (i.e. pensioners), I think that the 2004 referendum vote of 75% for a possibility for a third term is a more accurate number. If there has been support of any Polish entities it has come mostly from students and teenagers, who are prone to anarchistic thought anyway, and the small segment of the population who has been doing independent trade abroad. Though I am absolutely against Belarusian policy which discourages small independent business, I do not believe that your number is accurate. I say this only from personal experience from living here and speaking to people; Belarusians are simply not going to vote against him. And this is absolutely in part because of the suppression of the media, but it is also (and probably this is the biggest reason) because Belarusians do not want any more conflict than is necessary. Yes, people love to blame Lukashenka for everything, yes, he is probably guilty of everything everybody has ever said of him, but also yes, people identify with him, feel he is absolutely a part of the fabric of Belarus, that he “understands” them and that he is in fact keeping the peace.

Please, please, please tell me where I said anything insulting here about anybody? Tell me where this small piece of writing has even the slightest personal reference to Lungful in any way? Tell me how and where and why I have done anything here that is in poor taste, disrespectful or wrong in any way? This is my opinion; the numbers I used were those I assumed were public knowledge. And, if you actually read the words, I believe I even allowed for counter arguments in my rhetoric which, if I am not mistaken, is a must for any sort of thesis argument.

But nevertheless, Ljungfull again decided to show his actual class:

At November 13, 2005 10:30 AM, Bias Ljungfull said...
The official "yes" figure of last year's referendum was 79,4 percent (88 percent of those who took part), and that was the most fraudulent result yet in modern Belarus. No more than half of registered voters actually supported the president's right for a third term. I am well aware that there is significant support for Lukashenka, but it is not nearly as massive as you try to picture it. I don't know why you keep talking about Polish entities instead of acknowledging your ignorance about the political field in Belarus. And please keep your comments shorter and more to the point.
/Bias Ljungfull

Go ahead and read it again. I don’t know anything. He knows everything, and this is all anyone needs to know. So, I wrote him a quick comment which didn’t have a damned thing to do about Belarus:

At November 16, 2005 4:23 AM, Adam said...
Perhaps Ljungfull, you would be better off building your future political life on ideas and principals concerning your own country first rather than scandalizing another.

Aside from not knowing before how rude you were, I also hadn’t realized that you receive all of your pro-European information completely from the outside. Of course you are arrogant like you are: You’re European. And as such nothing you say about Belarus touches you in any way because you don’t live there. I get all of my opinions directly from inside Belarus. I do live here and I speak with people; normal people, non-political political people every day. And, I might add that I have almost a year of first hand experience with Poland and will gladly tell you that they ARE the most slanderous and gratuitously corrupt people in the world.
Did I miss my number by 4.5 percent? Well, while you are luxuriating in your gossip, I am trying to look at both sides of the picture objectively. I am not so quick to build upon slander; I want Belarus to be a healthy and stable independent country and not just a slave labor camp for unidirectional, profit siphoning European enterprises. Yes, I want democracy and freedom for individuals but in the end, Belarus is Belarus’ deal, not yours. Europe has no right to dictate policy here and its failure or refusal to understand this is far more criminal than Lukashenka’s wanting to stay in office.

I am sorry I advertised you.

Which was basically what was on my mind. I mean, if the man can’t deal with criticism in a civil way, get off the web.

At any rate, I thought this was the end, and I simply wouldn’t deal with him any more. But then this morning I had the thought to check and see what our panicky pundit had to say for his new weekly bowel release. You can read it for yourself by jetting over to the site (I still have him listed, blame that dad burned listening to the arguments thing I have) but I’ll summarize it for you here.

In this weeks blog, Ljungfull decided to attack Nikolay Cherginets, chairman of the parliament’s upper house foreign affairs and national security committee. Cherginets had made headlines recently because of his gripe about being refused entry to the USA and had offered some counter rhetoric that perhaps Belarus should in turn make it harder for foreign politicos to come to Belarus, especially as they seem more interested in being oppositionists than they are in speaking directly to the regime. Fair enough. But what Ljungfull did was to completely ignore either Cherginets’ point or the issue of his being refused admission to the states. Instead what he chose to do was demean and insult the man personally. And by the way, Cherginets is in fact an amazing man. According to his biography, the man started out as a professional soccer player in the 1950s, then worked at a factory, then joined the police and became a detective. In time he rose to the rank of lieutenant-general, while at the same time writing over 30 crime novels, making him a rather famous author. He holds a postgraduate degree in law, and is a decorated veteran of the Afghan war in the 1980s. Now one of the Belarusian regime’s top political figures, he has actually been included in the Guinness Book of Records for his multiple achievements in life.

He even in fact bracketed the afore mentioned information by mentioning his own achievement at having met the man and implying that Cherginets might in fact owe Ljungfull something or that he has some right to judge him. “Surely, such a person should have a view of his own on things, and the courage to express it?” What an asshole! And reading on, we find out that not only had Cherginets sat and spoke with him, he was also personable, friendly and forward. But according to Ljungfull, because Cherginets failed to fall to his knees in supplication, he stands empty ego that he is and tells the man “You and I have just had a dialogue, but you did not change my view on a single issue. And I suppose I didn’t change yours either?” And them mentions that he noticed that his lunch guest looked numb. How very perceptive.

What a monstrous ass. What a monumentally zeppelin-like ego. Important people who offer three hour lunches are there to make friends, plain and simple. It is called politics and it is called human relations. And that this empty shirt Ljungfull cannot even grasp this is something that makes perfect sense to me after our encounter. Did Ljungfull think that challenging a rather generous and energetic man by insulting him meant that he was a tough guy? Did he get a thrill because he told off a big shot? Or is Belarus such a tiny flyspeck to him that he doesn’t even need to be courteous to people? Cherginets apparently nodded and went home. Me, I would have punched this bitch in the mouth.

But all of this aside, our man Ljungfull then went on and wrote 613 words about Cherginets, one of the most highly regarded and highest ranking officials of the country of Belarus without ever addressing the issues that the man had spoken of. Not one word even of acknowledgment to the issue. This, my friends is known as slander.

Folks, Belarus is a poor country and they have suffered for 15 years since the USSR’s collapse. They did not openly receive the west because they understood there were great gaps in the money, that they were on the short end of the stick and that they absolutly did NOT want to be economically, culturally and physically abused, plain and simple. Yes they were anyway, but they have held their ground on this thought anyway through all they have been through.

But instead of simply allowing Belarus its ways, the west has attacked Belarusians for being who they are and has made life harder than necessary. For years this happened to those who chose to find lives elsewhere and since the last elections Europe and the USA have been directly attacking the country by implimenting sanctions and restrictions. It’s called abuse and it is unfair and people like Ljungfull here are the sorts of people who love believing that there are those in the world who are lower than him, and who exist only so he has someone to spit on. This, my friends is exactly the sort of thing I oppose unilaterally; this mindless hate and prejudice practiced by western slanderers and manipulators who have no relationship or responsibility to Belarus at all. And I am against this even more than any questions democracy or of administrative abuse by Belarus. It is abuse, it is unnecessary and it is morally bereft.

Europe and the States are not innocent entities by a long shot. And diverting attention away from their own crimes by focusing on a little impoverished country whose ethos happens simply to be different from their own is simple propaganda.

Sorry folks, if you have bought into the hate like this pig Ljungfull has, you have been had.

Anyway, like I say, I print both sides. If you want to read this pompous ass, go ahead. But to me, there are a lot better sources for news on both sides out there than this idiot. Oh, and here is my final comment to his blog which was of course deleted:

Adam said...
Your essay does not address the man’s assertions but only attempts to scandalize him and diminish his comments. This is exactly the same as was with your comments to me. If this is all you do, I do not know how you can promote yourself as a political pundit. And by the way, take my advice and print in Swedish: Your knowledge of English grammar and punctuation are quite poor.

The word count for this blog was about 3100 words. And as for you Bias Ljungfull, You and I have just had a dialogue, I have spent more then three hours with you, but you did not change my view on a single issue except that I no longer have any respect for you.

More soon…