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Have America and Russia switched roles?

Dean Ericson writes:

Vladimir Putin’s government is prosecuting some chick punk band called “Pussy Riot” on charges of “hooliganism” for performing a song protesting Putin in a Moscow cathedral.

The case is pitting Russian liberals against conservatives. But it’s an odd thing; Russia, or the old Soviet Union, used to be the fountainhead of revolutionary leftist change. “Pussy Riot” is a natural descendant of revolutionary leftism. Vladimir Putin used to be a high ranking enforcer in the former revolutionary leftist government. Now, Putin is the head of a reactionary government allied with conservative Orthodox Christians in suppressing revolutionary leftism. I read in another article on the case that “Several Russian cities, including Moscow and St Petersburg, have recently passed laws banning “homosexual propaganda.” So now it’s come about that Russia, a former revolutionary leftist hellhole, is becoming a stalwart of patriotic traditionalism, while the United States of America, formerly a stalwart of patriotic traditionalism, is rapidly becoming a revolutionary leftist hellhole. My head is spinning. Interesting that the people who had the greatest first hand experience with revolutionary leftism are now happy to suppress it.

- end of initial entry -

July 22

Dave T. writes:

Maybe I’m showing my youth here, but I’ve never thought of Russia as a particularly leftist nation and that it was an accident of history that it ever became one. On the contrary, Mother Russia has always struck me as something of an irrepressible bullying troglodyte at heart, among other things. The homosexual activists will only get so far in that land.

Max P. writes:

Dean Ericson wrote:

“So now it’s come about that Russia, a former revolutionary leftist hellhole, is becoming a stalwart of patriotic traditionalism, while the United States of America, formerly a stalwart of patriotic traditionalism, is rapidly becoming a revolutionary leftist hellhole.”

To that I would like to add that Russia appears to be against intervention in Syria due to its desire to protect the minority Christian population. Did the so-called Christian United States express concern for the Christians of Iraq and Egypt before unleashing the Islamists? Is the fate of the Christians of Syria anywhere near the top of the agenda in Washington?

There have been several articles written recently that are focusing on Russia’s interest in not seeing what happened to the Christians of Iraq and Egypt being repeated in Syria. From a story on May 31, 2012, in the NY Times about the Russian Orthodox Church lobbying Mr. Putin over the fate of Middle Eastern Christians, I quote:

“The issue of “Christianophobia” shot to the top of the church’s agenda a year ago, with a statement warning that “they are killing our brothers and sisters, driving them from their homes, separating them from their near and dear, stripping them of the right to confess their religious beliefs.” The metropolitan asked Mr. Putin to promise to protect Christian minorities in the Middle East.

“So it will be,” Mr. Putin said. “There is no doubt at all.”

So as Dean Ericson expressed surprise that formerly Communist Russia is now standing against left liberalism while the USA is embracing it, it would appear that formerly atheist Russia is now standing tall with Christians worldwide while the formerly Christian USA seems oblivious at best, and treacherous at worst, to the sad fate awaiting many Christians.

Stan S. writes:

Respectfully, I think that Dean Ericson’s comment about Russia is an example of how rigid concepts like “right” and “left,” “liberal” and “conservative,” can badly mislead a person who applies them to a foreign society about which he knows little. The point at which the Soviet Union ceased to be a fount of revolutionary leftist change was arguably reached as early as 1920, when the Red Army was decisively defeated at Warsaw, and certainly no later than 1936, when demographic concerns decided Stalin to outlaw abortion, criminalize homosexuality, and promote the traditional nuclear family. Moreover, Stalin reversed Lenin’s policies on matters like race and the state. Even before the Great Patriotic War, he began to promote so-called Soviet patriotism, a new form of Russian nationalism that combined the symbols and mythology of old Russian nationalism with those of Communism and the Bolshevik revolution. The Soviet Union after Stalin, far from a fount of revolutionary leftism, was a nationalist empire with many internal features characteristic of traditionalist regimes. The Russian liberals of today are the intellectual heirs of the dissidents of the ’60s, and many of the same liberals who are opposed to Putin are among the fiercest critics of everything to do with the Soviet Union. As for Putin, he need have undergone little of the change that some in the West attribute to him.

LA replies:

My gosh, Stan S. almost sounds like one of your old Communists who criticized the U.S.S.R. for not being truly and sufficiently Communist, but rather being a form of “state capitalism.”

Sure, the U.S.S.R. became rigid within itself, but it officially promoted and remained devoted to the revolutionary Marxist vision of man right up to the end. Gorbachev himself remained at his core a Communist until the end and even after the end. It was the great Boris Yeltsin who, regardless of his flaws, made the intellectual/spiritual break from the Communist, anti-human view of man.

Michael G. writes:

I think I know why Russia is changing their ways: Because it won’t be called Russia soon!

DURBAN, South Africa- Paul Goble, vice Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities at Concordia-Audentes University in Tallinn, Estonia said ethnographers predict that Russia will have a Muslim majority “within our lifetime

“He said that 2.5 million to 3.5 million Muslims now live in Moscow, giving Moscow the largest Muslim population of any city in Europe.

An Indian living in the West writes:

Dean Ericson’s post about Russia and America switching roles is funny but it conflates economic and cultural leftism. While the Soviet Union was economically leftist, it was not culturally leftist in any significant way. In fact, starting from the 1960s, the United States kept going further and further to the left culturally in ways that the Soviet Union actually never did. Open displays of homosexuality were never accepted in the Soviet Union, for example. Even during the Soviet era with all its rhetoric of equality, Russia remained a predominantly male dominated society.

On economic matters, it is still difficult to argue that Russia and America have completely switched roles (although the vast gulf between the countries has shrunk considerably). While Russia has far lower rates of taxation, the state is still oppressive and lawless in Russia and property rights are far from secure compared to America. However, Russia never went through cultural Marxism (due to the cast-iron grip of the old fashioned Communists), it never became a hyper-liberal culturally leftist society like America.

In some respects, Russia has not changed all that much from the Communist days. All that has happened is that the state has given its people greater freedoms but still retained considerable arbitrary power that was a hallmark of the Communist regime. I will venture to say that Russia is a fundamentally different society from America and Western Europe and it is difficult to see how it would completely absorb all the idiotic movements that have now exercised a cast iron grip on the minds of the people in the West. I think you can make a long list of things that conservatives despise about the modern West and comfortably conclude that Russia will never fall for any of those.

Russia does have its own set of problems. It is not an ideal nation that Western conservatives should aspire to. But today, one would have to conclude that in many respects it is a far healthier society than any Western country. They have not completely lost their minds.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 21, 2012 11:43 AM | Send

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