Sunday, July 9, 2023

Putin's Legacy - by Julian Macfarlane - News Forensics

Russia and the New Belonging

What does Putin want?

What makes him’ run?

If he were a Western politician, you would assume wealth, power, and fame.  But: repeat after me: he’s Russian!

While many benefits come with his position, those are not his primary goals. As a young man, he was an idealist, something of a dreamer.

A little shy.   He still is, according to those who know him.

There is no evidence to support Western allegations that he is just like them—greedy, power-hungry and avaricious.   

After 20 years in power, the Russian public sees him as honest, if not incorruptible, in Russian terms, a moderate and a liberal—and committed to finishing his legacy —fixing a Russia broken by the collapse of the USSR.     

When Putin came to power, he turfed out the worst and most intransigent oligarchs and corrupt or incompetent officials -- but he had to be selective to avoid trashing the entire system. He’s a pragmatic idealist.


He recognized that lasting, positive social change does not come from revolution --deconstructing a system through demolition — but through evolution— in pieces —at the same time, leveraging public consensus to affirm principles and values and the long-term goals that are their expression and make incremental changes that really necessary to their achievement. . That’s a different kind of deconstruction.

Many have tried: most have failed.

What is required is not just national consciousness—but national conscience.  Freudians would call it a “super superego.” 

Under the Soviet system, the party defined good and bad, right and wrong.  Marxist Leninism in Russia was almost a religion. But when the system collapsed -- the superego disappeared and the public was left with just ego and id. Actually, not much of an ego.

It was everyone for themselves. Hooray! Let’s party!  

The Russians were like hormonal teenagers.  Seduced by peer group pressures and the need for status – they watched the Western media and saw Americans and Europeans with nice cars, and jobs and vacations abroad, and this and that, but the girls were never that cute. 

The Russian peer group was therefore what they thought Westerners were—without understanding that Westerners weren’t that at all — and in fact looked down on them.    

Still, Russians bought the Neoliberal Dream and sold their country—not knowing what they were doing--rather like, the Lenape Indians who sold Manhattan for about $24 ion pretty baubles in 1626, without imagining that land could be “property”, hoping also to make friends with those who didn’t really see them as people because personhood is certified by an American passport.

By the 1990s, things got worse and worse in Russia. As Putin drove his taxi in St Petersburg he must have head many stories.

However, the disconnect between what people had once had and now lacked – what they hoped for but was now out of reach— the dark chasm separating dreams and reality--prompted a spiritual awakening – not just for the Christian Orthodox community— but for Muslims and Buddhists. With faith came hope and also conscience and principles offering the sense of belonging that had been stripped from them.

It was the opposite of what was happening in the West where the only religions that seemed to matter were increasingly Americanism and Conspicuous Consumption.    

God under one nation, the Dollar Almighty. 

Russian Growing Up

Today, Russia is growing up. 

It is beginning to see the West as greedy and hollow --wanting to do to Russia what it did to the original inhabitants of the Americas and the Third World – divide and conquer, loot the land –and destroy culture and lives.  The West embodies a new kind of racism—one defined not by skin color —but by your passport.

If Jesus came again, he would be in trouble A Palestinian and possible terrorist. He’d end up in prison for his views next to Julian Assange.

Putin has offered the Russian people an alternative to the neo-liberal order. More and more, he is saying that the corporate sector must serve the state, rather than the other way around, and the state must serve the people— a concept shared by the Chinese.

A new sense of belonging for Russians

Belonging is all about connection, which depends on doing things together.

Putin is working to restore Russian pride – through cultural autonomy and accomplishment. His ally in this is his enemy—the West which has reacted --- with political subversion and economic, informational and military warfare.

Sanctions, as we have seen failed and instead fostered Russian development and independence, with the country moving towards industrial autarky—and –importantly-- almost no foreign debt. The deluge of hate spewed by the MSM and NATO aggression mean that Russia will never again trust the West—and is rapidly becoming a military superpower that can take on the West and win.

Now, the US is promising the Ukraine cluster munitions, simply because it has run out of regular 155mm ammunition—not that that will change anything since the Ukrainains have been using cluster bombs since 2014, mostly against civilian targets.

Russia will win this new Patriotic War, as surely as it did one the last one. Its people see what is at stake, more and more clearly.  The Prigozhin Mutiny brought an outpouring of support — from almost all quarters in Russia.

In Russia, corporations and the oligarchs still have enormous power—and corruption is endemic --but also visible — unlike in the West where corporate machinations have been legitimatized and institutionalized and always in the background. 

There are still plenty of “Atlanticists” who would worship at the counters of Starbucks and McDonalds but now must sup at the new Russian equivalents --   —who would still buy BMWs – but these days settle for Chinese vehicles – who would travel to New York and London for a holiday but got to Crimea or Hainan instead.  These people naturally blame Putin.  After all, he really IS /

The corporate sector is still buying off officialdom and exploiting where it can and scurrying to promote the idea on the Russian social media that Russian society will collapse and the war will be lost if the anything happens to disturb the economic kluge which the blunderers and plunderers like Prigozhin have created over the years,

Russians are diverse in their opinions, skeptical, critical and argumentative.  In the end, they just look at facts and realities.  They have been dealing with this kind of thing for centuries. As a result, you will find the Russian media remarkably diverse, active, engaged and remarkably free. 

No, Putin does not “control” it.  Russians are skeptical and love rumor and reject official narratives.

Prigozhin was hugely popular with one large segment of the public – when he was seen first as a patriot.  But his mutiny and the deaths of Russian airmen injected doubt, especially with revelations of drugs, gold bullion and the like in his office and rumors that he had been paid off by the West. No one even knows where he is now.

By contrast, the Russian people do not doubt Putin, whose 80% support is a measure of his competence, honesty and incorruptibility.  He is not seen as a politician but as statesman.  What Westerner can say the same?

Yes, he makes mistakes— but there is no doubt about his intentions or integrity.  Except in the Western media, of course. While Putin does not lie. The Media certainly does.

Yup, Homo Sapiens is pretty new.

Evolution in the natural world is normally thought to take eons. 

But, in fact, some of the most important evolutionary changes can come in just over the span of decades -- suddenly activated by extreme events, as a result of environmental changes as well as by a confluence of factors invisibly building over time.   There is always a “tipping point”.

We see that happening with the climate today and with the rapid decline of the Western empire.  The tipping points here are coming sooner than expected.

Russia will survive. That’s what Putin wants.

The West? Who knows?