Russophilia: Why the Far Right Are Putin's Friends
By Craig Young
18th April 2017 - 03:26 pm
Russophilia has become the preferred philosophical and foreign policy position of the world's rightist political and social movements. How did this perverse development, an inversion of Cold War antipathy against the Soviet Union, come about and how might it affect LGBT rights?
As increasing numbers of western governments and non-governmental organisations condemn the predatory behaviour of the puppet Chechnyan regime against LGBT Chechens, it seems that once again, western liberal democracies are on a collision course with the illiberal autocracy of Vladimir Putin, given his regime's support for its satellite in Grozny. This should come as little surprise to any long-term observer of the Russian Republic since Putin's accession to power in 2000 and the depressing record of human rights and civil liberties lost since then. Despite its facade pseudo-democratic Duma 'parliament', Russia is once again ruled by an unaccountable and anti-democratic autocracy, aided and abetted by a vainglorious and medieval Russian Orthodox Church which harbours a pathological fear and hatred of western liberal democratic and religious pluralist diversity and culture. It displays depressing continuity with the Tsarist absolutism that existed until 1917 and the Soviet Union which dominated the Russian territory for most of the twentieth century. Putin is no different from the stronger Tsars of the seventeenth, eighteenth or nineteenth centuries, or the Soviet Premiers of last century, effectively dominating the Russian state, its armed forces and media outlets. The promise of Gorbachev and Yeltsin was stillborn.
The West has watched as Putin represses domestic opposition, has dissident journalists murdered, and occupies Chechnya and the Crimea, as well as manipulating Russia's satellites in Byelorus and the Ukraine. Its contempt for western social liberalism and social movements has been repeatedly expressed through barbarous treatment of LGBT Russians and aid and assistance toward West European, North American and Australian social conservative movements, who applaud Russian repression of civil liberties, human rights and liberal social movements through avenues such as the World Congress of Families, to which New Zealand's own Family First is affiliated. This is an ironic reversal of the Cold War anti-communist hysteria that prevailed through the fifties and seventies until the election of the Lange administration here in 1984 and the advent of New Zealand's nuclear-free legislation. When the USSR collapsed in 1991, the Cold War ended. However, economic collapse caused the alienation and drift of the Russian electorate from liberal democratic values and the return of autocracy under Putinism after 2001.
Oddly and perversely, these Russian, New Zealand and international conservative Christian groups have not condemned the recent actions of the Sunni Muslim pro-Russian regime of Governor Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya, which include secret police/militia arrests of Chechen gay men, three reported killings, and alleged imprisonment within concentration camps. These have been verified by independent and neutral human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch. They also remained silent over Russia's shameful recent partial decriminalisation of some forms of spousal battery against women, monstrously misogynist legislation which passed the Duma on January 29, 2017.
Amongst the white supremacist and anti-immigrant racists of the 'alt right' and within the US Christian Right and its tiresome satellites such as our own Family First, the Russian Republic has become their new philosophical soulmate, faced with the resurgent liberalism of the Obama era and European Community secularism and liberal social values. Given that Russia is engaged in active repression of such social liberalism, it has won new admiration from the harshest critics of the Soviet era and the murderous excesses of the Communist Party during the last century. One would not be aware that the Russian Orthodox Church harbours illiberal attitudes toward Pentecostal and other evangelical Christians, for example. Although Russia has not prohibited abortion access, its attitudes toward LGBT Russians, children's rights and feminism are "satisfactory" insofar as its religious social conservative admirers are concerned. Certainly, there are tensions between Putin and mainstream western governments over issues such as the Crimean occupation and annexation of 2015, and Russia's support for the brutal regime of Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad. However, russophilia is the new philosophical orthodoxy amongst the counterculture of the US Christian Right, alt right demagogues, their pressure groups and media outlets. Surprisingly, they've broken ranks with Donald Trump over their former presidential idol's antipathy toward al-Assad, Russia's Syrian satellite.
This cannot continue indefinitely. Already, the Russian Republic is experiencing decreased oil revenues and dissent is growing within larger Russian cities. As times get tougher, Moscow will face escalating internal criticism. Eventually, like his communist predecessors, Vladimir Putin and his apparatchiks will have to face the consequences of their abrogation of accountability, transparency and democratic values over the last two decades. Eventually, a reckoning will come.
Walter Laquer:Putinism: Russia and Its Future With the West:New York: Thomas Dunne Books: 2015.
Guy Mettan:Creating Russophobia: From the Great Religious Schism to Anti-Putin Hysteria: Atlanta: Clarity: 2017.
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