Searching for Russia - II
by The Saker on 10 Apr 2017 2 Comments

Each time Europe gathered all her forces to finally defeat, subdue, conquer and assimilate Russia, Russia prevailed and only got bigger and stronger. That despite being, in so many ways, a crippled Russia, torn apart by profound internal contradictions, ruled by elites which the Russian masses found uninspiring at best. True, individual Czars during these years were truly popular, but the regime, the order, was hardly one I would consider as popular or representative of the worldview and culture of the Russian masses. And yet Russia won. Over and over. Despite being weak.


Some will say that this is the long gone past, that the world is different today, that nobody in Europe thinks about these wars. But this is not true. For one thing, every one of those wars was accompanied by a frenzied Russia-bashing campaign in the media and literature and all these wars were represented as fought in the name of lofty European values and against the barbaric hordes from the savage East. And in the years when Russia was not the object of a military attack she was always the object of economic sanctions under one pious pretext or another.


King Solomon was right when he wrote “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun”. Gradually and insidiously, the hatred and fear of Russia became part of the western cultural identity. Considering how the West learned to fear a crippled and weakened Russia, can you imagine the terror a truly united Russia would inspire?


Do you know what Putin’s political party is called? “United Russia”, of course.


Keep in mind that during these years Russia was ruled by a hopelessly pro-Western elite and that every Russian ruler from Peter I to Dmitry Medvedev, with the exception of Alexander III and Joseph Stalin, wanted to be accepted as an equal partner by the West. But the western elites had no use for a partner or an ally, what they wanted was a compliant slave.


Vladimir Putin has made it quite clear that he has no such plans at all.


Speaking of Putin, there is something else in his rule which makes him quite unique: his real power does not come from the Russian Constitution or from the fact that he is the commander in chief of the Russian military, intelligence and security forces. If that were really the case, then the Russian elites, which are still largely pro-western, would have found a way to topple him a long time ago, with the assistance of Uncle Sam if needed.


No, his real power is in the undeniable fact that the Russian people recognize him not only as their leader, but also as their representative, if you wish, at the helm of the Russian state and in international affairs. There is a personal trust, a personal political capital, that the Russian people have given Vladimir Putin which sets him aside from all other Russian political figures. This feeling is so strong that even a lot of former political opponents have now become his supporters and that those who still openly oppose him do that with a great deal of difficulty and personal discomfort.


This personal authority of Putin does not, however, extend to Medvedev or, even less so, to the Russian government. I would argue that the Russian government is largely unpopular, as is the Russian Duma, but the lack of viable alternatives to the power of the “United Russia” Party makes this lack of popularity almost irrelevant.


If we take the word “monarchy” in its original meaning as “power of one” and if we recall that many Czars were personally popular even when their regimes were not, we could say that Putin’s rule is a kind of very traditional Russian “neo-monarchy” and that Putin has found a way to combine the external forms of democracy with the internal characteristics of Russian monarchy.


Interestingly, the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has decided to create a personal guard for Vladimir Putin (you can read about this here). In order to comply with the law, these personal guards all resigned their commission and offered their services to Vladimir Putin as a person, not to the Russian President.


Needless to say, the so-called “Russian experts” in the West dismiss it all as being sign of Putin’s “authoritarian” rule and characterize him as a “strongman” at best and a “dictator” at worst. In truth, fear and hatred are very poor advisors and it is little wonder that they get it so wrong. But then, “Russian experts” are not paid to understand Russia, they are only paid to demonize her.


So where, or what, is Russia today?


At this point in time, I would say that Russia is both a promise and a process. As a promise, she is very vague, there are numerous different ideas of what “real Russia” was or should be. She is an ideal which is more perceived than understood. As a process, Russia is much more unambiguous: de-colonization, sovereignization, resistance and the unapologetic proclamation of a unique, different, civilisational model.


The days when Russians were mindlessly aping the West are apparently truly over. Some say that the future of Russia is in the South (Caucasus, Central-Asia, Middle-East, Indian subcontinent), some see the future of Russia in the East (Siberia and Far East Asia, especially China) while some see it in the North (Siberia, again, and the Arctic).


But nobody sees it in the West any more.


Of course, this is not how many Europeans see Russia’s intentions. The Poles and the Balts, especially, keep themselves awake at night with nightmares featuring a Russian invasion of a conventional or “hybrid” kind. This reminds me of a Russian joke which goes like this: a man is walking down the street when a woman on the balcony suddenly screams “Help! This man is about to rape me!!!”. The baffled man looks up and says, “Lady, you are crazy. I have no intention of raping you. Besides, I am here in the street and you are above me on the balcony,” to which the woman replies, “Maybe, but I am about to come down!”.


Just like this woman, the Poles and Balts, maybe moved a deep sense of guilt mixed in with an old inferiority complex are strenuously trying to convince themselves that Russia really badly wants to invade them. Russia, of course, has exactly zero need for more land, and even less need for the rabidly hostile and frankly psychotic population of these countries. In reality, the Russian plan for these countries is simple: simply buy the Baltics states and let the Poles and the Germans enjoy their traditional love-fest. From a Russian point of view, these countries and people are not coveted prizes but useless liabilities.


In contrast, Russia cannot ignore the Ukraine, especially not a Nazi-occupied one. As for the rest of Europe, it will always remain an important economic market for Russia and a place Russians will enjoy visiting, especially southern Europe and the Mediterranean. The very last thing Russia needs is any kind of war, especially a useless and potentially dangerous one with the West. Finally, it is likely that Russia will seek to establish close relationships with those southern European countries which really never wanted to pursue any anti-Russian policies, especially Greece and Serbia. So, while not being a priority anymore, the West will never become irrelevant either.


The hardest and also the most interesting thing to try to guess is what Russia will become internally. Probably not a monarchy, at least not in the foreseeable future. The most recent poll strongly suggests that a majority of Russians do not want to trade a democratic republican system for a monarchy. Besides, in a country where truly religious Orthodox Christians are a minority a monarchy really would make little sense. The problem with the current system is that it is entirely based upon the person of Vladimir Putin. In fact, I would argue that there is no “current system” at all, there is only one person, Vladimir Putin who, while immensely popular, has to deal with all of the many Russian problems in the “manual mode” – meaning personally.


As soon as something escapes his personal attention things begin to go wrong. This is simply not a viable system. And just to make things worse, there is no credible successor to Putin in sight. Should something happen to Putin tomorrow morning the crisis hitting Russia would be huge. Add to this that Russians have a long history of good leaders succeeded by mediocre ones and you see how serious a threat the current “one man show” is for the Russian future. I would therefore argue that the development of a truly Russian political system (as opposed to an individual ruler) ought to be considered as one of the most important strategic priorities for those Russians who do not want their country to, yet again, become a western colony. Alas, the struggle between the “Atlantic Integrationists” (the Medvedev people) and the “Eurasian Sovereignists” (the Putin people) leaves very little time for that kind of endeavor.


So yes, “Russia is back”, but she is still very much wobbling on her feet, and unsure as to where to go next. Right now, her future depends on the fate of one man and that is exceedingly dangerous.



Courtesy The Saker;

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