Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Kasparov's Political Gambit

“Kasparov Quits Chess in Biggest Gambit Yet” from The Moscow Times:
“Kasparov, one of Putin's most vociferous liberal critics, released a statement
Friday on his web site, kasparov.ru, saying that Russia was "moving in the wrong
direction," and that he would "do everything possible to fight Putin's
dictatorship."
"I did everything that I could in chess, even more," he said
in the statement. "Now I intend to use my intellect and strategic thinking in
Russian politics."
It seems like Kasparov decided to join Bobby Fisher in the crusade for freedom and democracy. Only Fisher is fighting against bloodthirsty Zionist American tyranny but Kasparov, not surprisingly, wants to fight bloodthirsty Anti-Semitic Putin’s dictatorship.
I always thought that there’s very little correlation between intellect and success in chess. Smart people like to play chess but some best chess grand masters are either na?ve or real dumb. Kasparov’s columns in the Wall Street Journal are a good example. Of all the analytical instruments available in social sciences Kasparov’s intellect prefers just one – metaphor. His every column starts with comparing Putin to some gruesome tyrant or dictator. Then from this metaphor he derives his basic premises and starts ‘logical’ deductions. Like, Putin cancelled gubernatorial elections and Hitler cancelled elections altogether. Putin is a dictator and Hitler was a dictator. So Putin is like Hitler. Hitler was Anti-Semitic. Thus Putin is also Anti-Semitic. Remember, last week a group of punks in Moscow attacked two Jewish rabbis? Europe couldn’t stop Hitler. So the WWII started. If we don’t stop Putin now he’ll start the WWWIII. Here Kasparov leaves us wondering – should NATO nuke Moscow right now or wait for a week?
I think Kasparov made a big mistake when he compared Putin to Hitler right from the start. Imagine next time Putin makes again something undemocratic. Whom could you compare him to? Not to Mussolini or Franco as they were definitely ‘milder’. If you first compare Putin to Hitler and then a week later to Franco then people would believe that Putin is becoming less dangerous and more democratic.
This way Kasparov run out of the XX century metaphors pretty quickly. In his last WSJ column he compared Putin to Caligula. Not bad. In the Roman history there’s a good pool of gruesome and mad tyrants. Next comes Sulla, Nero or probably Messalina. Imagine Putin giving orders to set Moscow on fire as he cannot find inspiration for a speech at the parliament. That’s about Kasparov’s strategic thinking.
I lost any respect for the WSJ readers who find pleasure in reading Kasparov’s mad rants. I also don’t think much about people who like Chris Floyd’s columns about Bush in the Moscow Times. What really irritates me about Kasparov is his rigid peremptory view of democracy. The American model of democracy is a fetish for him and every deviation from this model is treated as barbarism, dictatorship and tyranny. Governors are elected in the US so if Russian heads of provinces are not elected that’s dictatorship. It doesn’t matter that in democratic France or in Poland heads of provinces are appointed by presidents.
When many years ago I studied chess, my tutor used to say, “As a novice you should remember that a knight at the edge of a board is always bad. Later when you learn to play good chess and get experience you will understand that it all depends” For Kasparov a knight at the edge of a board is always bad irrespective of conditions, situation or context.

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