Sunday, October 18, 2009

Microincidents and social decay

I may be wrong, but often a "sense of what is going on" arises from a series of what could be called microincidents that point to a broader pattern of developments in society. Trend analysts often look at this as forerunners of something that may become significant (small groups of trendsetter teens dressing like, eating or doing X, Y or Z). I also think that microincidents can start to add up to a pattern of social degeneracy in Latvia.
Let me just name a few. In two drives to and from my summer house (finally closing up and wired with burglar alarms), I saw several instances of what I called "traffic wading" -- persons simply, blindly stepping into a street wherever the fancy strikes them, then standing more or less dumbstruck on the white line or just zombieshambling along, since cars do stop for pedestrians and other large objects on the road, even in Latvia. One woman I saw was standing and smoking on a busy road. Most of those I saw were not drunk (the 9 am stumblebums encountered as I walk to work no longer register). They were just somehow --detached.
Then there was the a middle-aged female undead with huge shopping bags who, in a very narrow (and badly designed) place in a cafe in the Alfa Centrs shopping mall, simply squeezed and pushed by us, not saying a word, not giving us a chance to step aside. I remarked to my wife something to the effect that " the bitch could have excused herself" loud enough for the woman to hear, but she simply moved on, zombiefaced and deaf (a Latvian language paper folded in one of her bags seemed to show that she understood the language). This was not the first such encounter, sometimes these robo-bābas (for all you Latvian readers) or robo-bitches (not an exact translation) bump past you at street crossings and other places where there is pedestrian congestion.
What I am saying is that as the better educated and more adventurous (of economic necessity) population emigrates, what is left is an increasingly behaviorally deviant, strange, lumpenized, often intoxicant dependent contingent responsible for an increasing number of microincidents that add up to an emerging sense that society is degenerating as the ranks of an economically deprived or outcast and psychologically damaged underclass seem to increase day by day.
This is not just me. A local Latvian woman who I work with from time to time, and who moves around roughly the same streets as I do also told me recently that she was freaking out from all the strange and bizarre people she was seeing. Is that as the Eloi leave, we see the Morlocks better?


Bleveland said...

Juris, the controversial Max Keiser took up Latvia in his program "On the edge with Max Keiser".
Mind that this does not necessarily reflects my own opinion :-) (from 2 min 20 sec)
HTML link Tag from

Bleveland said...

Juris, the controversial Max Keiser took up Latvia in his program "On the edge with Max Keiser".
Mind that this does not necessarily reflects my own opinion :-) (from 2 min 20 sec)

Anonymous said...

Well, now is the time that people of your social strata and class finally take notice. Our nation was skilfully degenerated to this state and you took part of it by taking a back seat. You can't claim to be that ignorant - there were plenty of declassed elements before - very conveniently shut in the many ghettos of our cities that you never visit. All of this is a direct consequence of your libertarian philosophy, viz., the State being our enemy, taxing the rich Cayenne bastards being a theft etc. And now you claim to have a hangover? Blame yourself.

Juris Kaža said...

The libertarian philosophy does not support the kind of state-capture generated wealth that has created many of the Cayenne owners. Libertarians support entrepreneurship and fair dealing with minimal interference by the state and low taxes that allow job creation to take up some, if not many of the sp-called de-classed elements. In any case, the national mentality is still, 20 years onward, the result of living 50 years in a totalitarian planned command economy.

Mr.Key said...

Two days ago I was driving out of Domina shopping center and what I saw was a group of young man in black clothes hiding their faces in their hoods and scarfs.. Scary look, either they went for a robbery or graffiti job, don't know. Certainly it didn't look good.

And yes, the nation is degenerating. We will have a Latin-American social model.

Gnudiff said...

How about this then -- with things becoming worse, many people will try to survive and concentrate on survival and become looking zombielike to you?

From what you wrote my first impression was that your today's "zombie" may well have been quite a normal person half a year ago, then lost her job, couldn't land another, heard everywhere that the end is nigh, her unemployment benefits recently stopped and now she is detaching herself from the reality for quite understandable reasons -- no hope that things could somehow get better for her at any foreseeable future.

TRex said...

I've noticed very little difference between Riga crowds and Muscovites, all these behaviors being common to both. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. The biggest difference is the lack of crooked blood sucking militia!

I don’t think these behaviors are new, or any more pronounced than before.

AK said...

Those particular observations are quite strange. However social decay is noticeable in other aspects. Street robbery is on the rise and from my experience worst than ever. In lthis year my car was burglarized around once in two months. Last time I felt that it is just cost of living and working in Riga and didn't report it to police because damage was just ~100 LS (about 200usd).

In other cases police was quite active despite our interior minister who at some point suggested that people should by gas pistols for self protection. As libertarian myself I might understand and support such proposal, but wonder when each month paying in taxes more than to my employees in salaries.

TRex said...

Agris, police cannot even assist us in removing a derelict vehicle from in front of our building, it has been there for four months or so. The local kids have now discovered that they can beat the hell out of it every night for fun. I am sure it will soon burn to the ground after a brief stint as a bordello. I want to haul it away and sell it for scrap but my wife sez that that would be wrong.

I have just recently forbidden my wife to listen to Latvian news as it swings wildly from one extreme to another every few days or so and isn’t worth sh!t and makes her brain soft. Taxes, no taxes, taxes, no taxes. No wonder ppl are wandering around in the middle of the street! They are kept like rats in a box biting each other in the face.

I recently (last week I believe) had the displeasure of watching some program on LNT teevee that had a panel of three journalists up against the Mayor of Riga and that @#*%% from Ventspils. The politicians contempt was obvious, but at least I know that @#%%’s watch cost three thousand lats!

Uldis said...

Mr. Key, we will have a Latin American social model (not only Latin American, I would say American - of course including USA -)because we've applied economic recipes which have already failed in Latin America in the 80s and 90s. Indeed Juris, "the national mentality is still, 20 years onward, the result of living 50 years in a totalitarian planned command economy", I agree, but it is for better and for worse, that is, if rigth now we don't have Latin American social model It's because of this, because the previous totalitarian system provided in the microeconomics some kind of infrastructure for individuals (apartment, heating etc.) and a culture of submission that we are enjoying (no latin americans rates of crime) and at the same time we are still paying (the civil society it's dead).

Anonymous said...

...and Tele2 thinks a meteroit will make everyone happy again :-))

TRex said...

That is a pretty funny, and confusing situation. I really don't see what the big deal is but then again I'm not in the business of distracting the masses. Perhaps such fake promotions have jumped the shark?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Wannabe Sorosieši said...

TReks -
The big deal is that they wasted public money AND they pretended it was real and called the police/fire as though it were an emergency. What if an officer or firefighter had been hurt while hurrying to the sight, or if there had been a real emergency 20 Km away?

Anonymous said...

I think that prank with meteorite was a flop because Latvian society has no sense of least being pranked is rather offence and not taken easy. Just look at that frowny face and anger coming out of Murniece... If I were to run company in this country I would prank government like this left, right and center. Everyones hates government so leverage the fact and gain support from public. Everyone will love you when you embarrass officials...And keep it legit, make sure they can't sue you.

TRex said...

One of the reasons I don't like Comment Moderation is because you never know whether your comment was deleted or you entered the damn password wrong, so here I go again.


"TReks, nice ;)

That it was reckless and poorly thought out I admit but the somewhat hysterical and overwrought response from the authorities after the fact (not sure how the public feels about it) seems to indicate embarrassment more than anything else, like they seem to feel that they were made to look like schmucks in the international media because the story went absolutely viral in short order.

A report of a meteorite strike in an empty field in the middle of nowhere with no other observers calling in a sighting shouldn’t have emergency services deploying at full speed depleting all their admittedly meagre resources and endangering themselves and others, but I will admit that I do not have a transcript of the call made to Emergency Services, the number of police and firefighters that responded etc.

No one was hurt, the company Tele2 right away said they would pay compensation. But what does the Communications Ministry do but jump in with their two cents and threaten to cancel any service contracts that they have with Tele2. Do you think that might cost some Latvians their jobs? Does it make Latvia look any better in the world? Maybe someone should roll out The Blondes for damage control pronto!

But then that’s just opinion and I’ve been wrong before."

Now, since I posted that this morning I have read that the bill is approaching 15,000 lats and still climbing. This is turning into a joke, or a blatant ripoff and Latvia looks worse than Tele2 ever will.

What a sham. Did the Latvian government have to fly in a C130 filled with gear and specialists? This is a scam!