Oh, Mother Russia. She’s been in the news a lot lately, and most of the coverage has been rather negative, to put it mildly. Even Obama has taken to chastising Russia on late night television. Much of this criticism is largely without merit. I’d lay out the reasons why, but Pat Buchanan has already done so brilliantly in an article over at Human Events. Buchanan also suggests that Russia, Putin included, is embracing a return to conservatism. It certainly appears he is right.
Honestly I still find it rather strange that I am sitting here writing an article defending Russia. It may be their political tradition, but the idea of the Tsarist autocracy never quite sat well with me, given my love of the British constitution and the ancient rights and liberties it guarantees.
Moreover, my maternal grandfather’s family came from Russia, Jews that fled to England during the pogroms, and my paternal grandfather was born in eastern Poland. When the Russians invaded in 1939 he was arrested, tortured, and sent to Siberia. Other members of his family also suffered terribly at the hands of the Soviet Union. As someone who is intensely proud of his roots, not to mention a diehard anti-communist, if ever there was a nation I was tempted to call enemy, it was Russia. But history has a sense of humour and, surprisingly, Russia has in some ways become the leading defender of Western civilization on the world stage.
Now, rather than persecuting Christians, the Russian government is apparently the only one in the developed world speaking out against the persecution of Christians. At a July conference in Moscow with Orthodox leaders, Putin noted with alarm the increasing global persecution of Christians, and urged the international community to protect the rights of Christians worldwide and to work to end the violence they suffer in many countries on a daily basis. At the same conference, Orthodox leaders also spoke out against the oppression of religious liberty in Western Europe, where sexual radicals have successfully pressured governments into threatening and fining people who refuse to take part in gay ‘marriage’ ceremonies.
Putin also warned early of the inherent Islamic radicalism of the Syrian rebels. Granted his government’s support for the Assad regime was at play here, but the fact is he spoke this truth at a time when many Western leaders were still pretending that the rebels were the good guys. He also seems to have a keen sense of the folly of multiculturalism. In a speech in 2012, he stated that Russia ‘must create the conditions for immigrants to normally integrate into [Russian] society, learn Russian and, of course, respect [Russian] culture and traditions and abide by Russian law. In this regard, I believe that the decision to make learning the Russian language compulsory and administer exams is well grounded.’ This is in stark contrast to Western European and American leaders who seemingly cheer as hordes of immigrants with alien cultures hostile to our own continue to transform the cultural landscapes of our nations.
Ironically, the revolution of 1917 appears in some ways to have actually preserved true Russian culture. A radical revolution from the top down the Russian people never wished for in the first place, the sudden and violent nature of the Bolshevik takeover made any fundamental lasting change to Russian culture impossible, leaving an impression in the Russian mind that the revolution was not only inherently alien but ultimately unwelcome. In fact, the history of the Soviet Union suggests that the Bolsheviks maintained power only due in part to the inherent Russian qualities they were unable to eradicate, mainly an intense patriotism and a particular deference to authority. Perhaps most importantly, for all their efforts, the communists were unable to stamp out the church in Russia. As de Maistre said, ‘wherever an altar is found, there civilisation exists.’
In the west, however, while the Bolsheviks maintained their artificial revolution through brute force and conservative elements over here had their eyes fixated on Moscow, radical elements in our own society, often with support from the Comintern, were quietly waging their own revolution, a cultural war of attrition so effective I doubt even Gramsci himself would have believed the results. The communists in Russia forced the nation off of a cliff at gunpoint. The communists in Western Europe and the Anglosphere convinced us to jump off ourselves.
This might just be the single greatest irony of the past century. After seventy-odd years of Bolshevik tyranny, Russia is still basically Russia. Britain and America, however, have forgotten their roots. The minds of most of our people are filled with socialist fantasies, their hearts slaves to the passions of Jacobinism. It’s barely two decades since the fall of the USSR, and we have a committed socialist sitting in the White House. It seems that for all their beauty, the British and American Constitutions do little to protect our ancient rights and liberties if the majority of our peers no longer care for nor understand the origin and purpose of said rights and liberties. Now, the Russians have had over two decades to see the damage moral relativism and true cultural Marxism has done to our civilization, and they want none of it. Who can blame them?
When Obama suggests that Russia at times slips ‘back into Cold War thinking’, he is effectively revealing his complete incomprehension that a world leader would put the interests of his own country ahead of ideology or some dream of a utopian global order. Look, I’m not about to renounce my American or British citizenship, pack it in, and move to Russia (as appealing as their 13 percent flat income tax is). What is in the interests of Russia is rarely that which is beneficial to the United Kingdom and the USA, and it could very well be the case that Putin is just saying and doing these things to shore up Orthodox support for his regime. After all, it’s not as if he is calling for the return of the Tsar. But I can still applaud, and look on with a hint of jealousy, as Russia – unlike the countries to which I am loyal – actually acts in its own interests, and appears to undergo a kind of cultural renewal a traditionalist in the Anglosphere could only dream of.
Ed Kozak is a political commentator, working for a publishing firm in New York City