Attesting that being a liberal or a conservative has become a distinction without a difference, ‘progressive’ mouthpieces for the corporate media have taken to comparing and defending Western ideas and institutions against pro-Putin intellectuals. They set a very low bar for themselves, and even then don’t clear it.
Putin’s Russia is an easy foil for Western intellectuals who refuse to look at themselves and their own moribund national houses, much less the internal collapse of Western civilization. At their philosophical core, both liberals and conservatives cling to the illusion of man’s progress, which is equated with Western ideas and institutions.
When a putatively progressive writer in the US cites “the hordes of people dying in an attempt to get into the European Union” as proof of “the appeal of Western values to the world,” not only conservatives but also liberals have lost the argument, and their hearts.
Folks in poor countries don’t leave their homelands because of the ‘appeal of Western values,’ but because they seek a better life (or simply survival) in nations where survival is a given. An undercurrent of racism runs through discussions of the global migration issue, camouflaging, in the West at least, the de facto apartheid system that exists between rich and poor peoples.
Supposed ‘thought leaders’ in America confuse the increasingly shaky global dominance of Western institutions, including the dubious rule of law backed by the massive, extrajudicial, arbitrarily dispensed military power of the United States, to support their case against Vladimir Putin’s Russia. They set up a straw man on top of a straw man, and then think they’ve achieved something by knocking them down.
A culture producing untold numbers of alienated young racists/terrorists like Dylann Roof is compared with the equally empty so-called religious values behind Putin’s sneer and veneer of Christian Orthodoxy. Some 15 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Putin reacted to American arrogance and, from Russia’s perspective, NATO encirclement, challenging the US and EU. He’s effectively called our bluff.
Putin’s strategy of sneakily invade, hold and wait has provided an issue for right wing stooges in the United States, who are echoed by a discordant chorus of hawkish liberals. They demand the West “speak the only language Putin understands—force,” even though doing so means increasing conflict and risking nuclear war.
False choices abound. We either pre-position tanks in tiny Baltic countries reminiscent of the Cold War (except they’re now American rather than Soviet tanks), or appease Vlad the Bad. We either support so-called Western values (read rapacious capitalism, mimicked by China, and doubtful social progress, mocked by Russia), or we let oligarchs win the war of ideas. Which oligarchs do they mean?
Spent Western intellectuals refuse to accept the fact that both Russia and America collapsed in the early 1990’s, just in different ways. It took another decade for the tangible sign of America’s demise–the collapse of the Twin Towers–to physically manifest. Seeing that crime against humanity as a latter-day Pearl Harbor, and using it to invade an irrelevant country and build up an already grotesquely bloated military is stupid beyond words. History will weep.
Small minds proclaim a great victory in the superficial social progress of legalizing gay marriage (real progress would be ending all forms of institutional prejudice and discrimination), absurdly placing it in the context of the dogs, hoses and bombings of the civil rights struggle. On the other side of the worn-out coin, orthodox Western and Russian religionists inveigh against ‘relativizing’ the sacred truths of Christianity.
In actuality, both orthodoxy and relativism, theism and secularism have spiritually and philosophically dead-ended.
Barack Obama put a nice face on the policies of the Bush-Cheney Administration, but with three apparently uncoordinated terrorist attacks on the same day Friday (in Tunisia, France and Kuwait) his administration has only grown much more terrorist virus in this Petri dish of a world. The entire atavistic concept of ‘war on terrorism’ has immeasurably spread the disease since 9.11.
Tribalistically seeing the world in terms of ‘my country’ and ridiculous nation-state rivalries, much less a totally obsolete Cold War mentality, feeds the fragmentation, conflict and chaos that is the legacy of America and capitalism’s supposed victory over the Soviet Union and communism.
A failure of perception, insight and imagination (as well as outright denial) prevent the supposed winners of the Cold War from seeing that we totally squandered the opportunity to change course when it ended.
It comes down to philosophy and worldview, as do all great struggles and turning points in history. Given the world as it now is, what can be done?
Human history has moved beyond the nation-state framework of Lincoln and FDR. The advancement, indeed survival of humanity can no longer occur within nations, and then be spread to other nations. A revolution in thinking is occurring beyond national boundaries, and sweeping through them, to the great dismay of those who serve the status quo.
From this point on, human survival and advancement, inwardly and outwardly, depend on seeing and acting clear of the glorified tribalism of nationalism.