Wednesday, December 17, 2014


The ruble is in free-fall.  The sanctions against Russia bite.  Some observers foresee a repeat of the events which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.  They are wrong.

The end of a system is a different reality all together than the implosion of a "psyche."
George Kennan's containment and later events laid bare the negative fundamentals of a political formula which was behind the times of globalization.  Likewise, the French Revolution put an end to an anachronism but it did not stop France being France!  Whatever President Putin laments over historical wrongdoings, the reality is that Russia has lost a lot of "fat" in Central Europe and Asia, but at the same time has become more Russian, nationalistic, reactionary and expansionist wherever its "near abroad" exists or is under threat.

Putin's home is in St. Petersburg, window on the West, but his heart is in Muscovy.  He is more the heir of Tsar Alexander III than Lenin. He was able to co-opt the primal forces which still infuse the Russian character. Ideology is a thing of the past. Pride and reparations for perceived snubs play into the mindset of most Russians. The xenophobia and the support of the Orthodox church have created a "firewall" which plays into an "us versus the West" continuous barrage.  Putin stands because he has chosen to return to the Russians the imperial mantle which was lost for too long.

He can be dangerous insofar as he could mobilize the latent frustrations as well as call NATO's bluff since he knows very well that this tiger, contrary to his Siberian counterpart, has no teeth. He is also nefarious in creating a monosyllabic, anti-change, anti-gay undercurrent. The Russians no longer suffer a political system based on a faulty Utopia. The danger lies more in some overreach, above their heads, which might lead to miscalculation.  Putin, as Potemkin before him, continues to entertain with a Sotchi spectacle wherein War and Peace's Natasha and Prince Andrey rule over the hearts and minds. The irony is that in Tolstoy's novel some of the Russian nobles hardly knew a word of Russian, preferring to converse in French.

The days of Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn are bygones. Russian oligarchs make the world a more vulgar place, Russia a more schizophrenic one, and the world a less-safe one. Putin can do as he wishes, as long as his sleeping draught continues working.

No comments:

Post a Comment