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March 05, 2022

Is Putin leaving Lenin to the West?

Lenin-statue-in-Fremon.jpg

Lenin Statue, Seattle, WA

With all the hostility toward things Russian lately - Russian cats, Russian salad dressing, Russian junior athletes, etc., I haven't seen any news of hostility toward statues of Lenin in the USA.

Here at AoSHQ, there has been some discussion of an essay on "Leninthink" from time to time. I miss OregonMuse. Back in June, he wrote:

Published back in 2018, Cry Bullies: Protecting yourself against social muggers and victimhood aggression is a short book. . .

If you're going to buy this book (or even if you're not), I would suggest you also read Leninthink: On the pernicious legacy of Vladimir Lenin as a companion piece. It traces the SJW style of rhetoric and argumentation back to Lenin himself:

Basic books on negotiation teach that you can often do better than split the difference, since people have different concerns. Both sides can come out ahead—but not for the Soviets, whose negotiating stance John F. Kennedy once paraphrased as: what’s mine is mine; and what’s yours is negotiable. For us, the word “politics” means a process of give and take, but for Lenin it’s we take, and you give. From this it follows that one must take maximum advantage of one’s position. If the enemy is weak enough to be destroyed, and one stops simply at one’s initial demands, one is objectively helping the enemy, which makes one a traitor.

Lenin didn't bother explaining to his opponents, for example, the Socialist Revolutionaries, why they were wrong, just the fact that they weren't in 100% agreement with him at every point was enough to denounce them as traitors worthy of extermination.

The details concerning how Lenin thought and spoke which are discussed in this essay are horrifying.

I'm not sure that Putin has given up on all of this brand of thought and rhetoric. Some of it sounds a bit like it could encompass Robin DiAngelo's Kafka Traps, too. Though so far, I don't think she has advocated killing those in workshops who disagree with her.

But maybe Putin is not so wild about all of Lenin's ideas. We get some insight into Putin's preferences concerning Russian culture and academic ideology from a professor of political science and philosophy in Canada, in Vladimir Putin, Tyrant. These preferences may have led Putin away from Lenin's program in some ways. See what you think:


When Vladimir Putin sent Russian forces into Crimea in 2014, then-Secretary of State John Kerry professed bewilderment that such imperial aggression could happen in the modern age. It was like something out of "the 19th century." Kerry's reaction to Putin's recent invasion of Ukraine was equally baffled, as the patrician American diplomat lamented that the war would distract Putin from working with him on climate change. Common to both reactions was the astonishment that the material calculations and preoccupations of Western democracies might be blown away by a resurgence of old-fashioned tyrannical ambition.
. . . It is precisely the comparative peacefulness and prosperity of the democracies that lulls us into an unawareness that wolves like Putin and Xi Jinping are always prowling just beyond the perimeter of free self-government. Putin's latest aggression -- this time aimed at the very heart of Europe -- may have the salutary effect of shocking us into looking the threat of tyranny straight in the face.
Although Putin's ambition is to restore Russian control over its former Warsaw Pact captive states, he in no way wishes to restore the Soviet regime itself. Russian history has long been riven by a cultural conflict between those who look to Europe, the West, and the Enlightenment as the path that Russia should follow and those who are loyal to Slavic nationalism, which is deeply religious and not interested in economic prosperity. In literature, this divide was typified by the different outlooks of Turgenev and Dostoyevsky, which Tolstoy crystallized as the difference between St. Petersburg and Moscow. During the era of anti-Soviet dissidence, this split was typified by Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn. Putin is in the Slavophile camp. A devotee of Berdyaev, a Slavophile critic of Marxism-Leninism, Putin believes that Soviet communism was an import of European rationalism that poisoned the authentic Russian soul, which has nourished the country's national and artistic greatness.

I am left wondering what Putin might mean by "deeply religious". I think he means it in a cultural, rather than in a personal sense. He has provided financial and other support to the Russian Orthodox Church, and has apparently given some religious autonomy to Muslim leaders in Chechnya, from whence many fighters are going to Ukraine.

A lot of leftism in the West, particularly the "Woke" brand, is pretty devoid of "European rationalism" at this time. Do Putin and Western leftists seem to understand each other especially well? I'm not seeing it at the moment, but maybe I'm looking at the wrong leftists.

. . . Slavophile thought is crucial to Putin's worldview, including both Berdyaev and also the modern writer Aleksandr Dugin's ideology of "Eurasianist National Bolshevism." Dugin, an academic and popular pundit, tried to rescue what he saw as the authentically Russian agrarian populist impulse behind the original Bolshevik Revolution from its betrayal by Lenin's "scientific" socialism imported from European thought, calling instead for a "revolution of archaic values" based on the blood and soil traditions of family, rural life, and religious faith. Putin commissioned Dugin to overhaul the Russian education system to remove all traces of Gorbachev-era glasnost and perestroika, which both believed were signs of creeping Enlightenment rationalism and materialism corrupting the Motherland.

Great. They eliminated from the Russian educational system any evidence that glastnost and perestroika, however flawed, were tried. Margaret Thatcher said that she wished the West had been nicer to Gorbachev.

Dugin gave Putin the ideology he needed to reject the tainted European strain of Soviet communism while rehabilitating it as a great patriotic people's movement, including the rehabilitation of Stalin in his role as wartime champion against Hitler. This ideology also enabled Putin to make what is to him a coherent argument that, while the Soviet communist regime will never be restored, the Slavophilic populism that was its true lifeblood can be--a national tribalism extending to all Slavic peoples including Ukraine, Poland, and the Balkans, who must be gathered back into the Russian fold.

Noteworthy also here is Dugin's fascination with Martin Heidegger, who lent his prestige as Germany's leading thinker in the 1930s to enthusiastic support for National Socialism. . .

Maybe this has something to do with Putin's recent assertions that Ukraine has no culture of its own, which have led to an increase in the popularity of Ukrainian music in Europe.

This Dugin guy sounds dangerous to me:

Here is where Putin's grand geopolitical map for Russia becomes more clear. Dugin argues that Russia's salvational role in the world must begin with its gradual recovery of its lost Slavic brethren in Ukraine and Moldova. But that is only the beginning. The long-range goal is world war between Russia and the United States, the leader of the "bourgeois" West. Preparing for that war involves Eurasianism making an alliance with radical Islam. . .

You may want to read the whole thing. And maybe think about Russia and Iran.

Here's where Daniel Greenfield comes in with Islam is the only winner in the Ukraine War:

Russia, with a birth rate of 1.5 children per woman, has invaded Ukraine, where the birth rate is 1.2 children per woman, to determine which nation with below replacement birth rates will go extinct the fastest. In the long run the only winners of the war to determine whether Ukraine will belong to the 1.2 or 1.5 people will be the Chechen and other Muslim soldiers doing the fighting. The Chechens have a birth rate of 2.5. Their religion and mosques are more likely to inherit the territories they are fighting over than either the Russian or Ukrainian Orthodox churches.

The Chechens have a birth rate of 2.5. Their religion and mosques are more likely to inherit the territories they are fighting over than either the Russian or Ukrainian Orthodox churches.

Russia went into WWI with a birth rate of around 7, by the time the Soviet Union collapsed it had also fallen beyond replacement rates. Like the Europeans, its birth rate is artificially inflated by a growing Muslim population, legal or illegal, even in major cities like Moscow. . .

Western Europe and Russia have dueling visions for Ukraine and the territories of the former Soviet Union. Europe would like them to join a wonderful union based around peace, tolerance, and importing millions of Muslims to balance out all the peaceful tolerant Europeans. Putin would like to induct them into Greater Russia which will unite Islam and Christianity.

Europeans claim that they can have a tolerant society built around the demographic growth of a religion that murders unbelievers. Putin claims that a new Christian Russian empire will be built on a multifaith alliance with a religion that has spent centuries destroying Christian empires.

This part lends credence to the observation that Putin seems to be building his ideology around the grand ideas of Dugin and others like him:

Putin contends that, "we have Eastern Christianity and certain theoreticians say that it is much closer to Islam than Catholicism is.". The Communist era left more "certain theoreticians" than dead dogs in Russia.
In the short term, European and Russian leaders and oligarchs expect to derive some temporary benefit from this latest episode in the death throes of our civilization.

In the long term, they are dooming us all. . .

China and the Islamic Ummah need only watch and alternately cheer both sides on.

Much of Russia's land, like America's land, has already been leased out to China. While Putin chases Ukrainian territory, Russia proper is owned by China and colonized by Muslim migrants. Russia's takeover of Crimea spurred Chinese investment in the area. Whatever Ukrainian territory Putin takes will ultimately benefit Chinese industries and their Russian middlemen.

But there'll probably be a board seat in there somewhere for Hunter Biden or Neil Bush.

America, like Europe, Russia, and the rest of what once passed for the civilized world, have become profoundly unserious, crowded into social media echo chambers, shouting trending hashtags, and refusing to think in any terms longer than their attention deficit disorders. . .

There are more particulars in the full essay.

Short Subjects, related or not

More on Russian Literature

Before the "Leninthink" essay discussed above, Gary Saul Morson wrote another one, How the great truth dawned, in which he tried to explain the great importance of Russian literature to Russians. It hones in on the works of Solzhenitsyn:

If we remember that totalitarians and terrorists think of themselves as warriors for justice, we can appreciate how good people can join them. Lev Kopelev, the model for Solzhenitsyn's character Rubin, describes how, as a young man, he went to the countryside to help enforce the collectivization of agriculture. Bolshevik policy included the enforced starvation of several million peasants, and Kopelev describes how he was able to take morsels of food "from women and children with distended bellies, turning blue, still breathing but with vacant, lifeless eyes," in the ardent conviction that he was building socialism. Other memoirs of this period also describe how a loyal communist at last awoke to what he (or she) did. In this way, the Soviet experience inspired a rebirth of conversion literature, and Solzhenitsyn's Gulag, which details his own change from Bolshevik to Christian, is a prime example.

It is quite a complex piece.

Here's another by the same author, for the Book Thread crowd:

Demons is a book for East and West alike, one for all those who wish to rescue the soul of modern man," Daniel Mahoney rightly maintains. It is especially pertinent today when many Western intellectuals seem ready to repeat the mistakes of the nineteenth-century Russian intelligentsia. We know where that led.

So, indeed, do some of those Western intellectuals. Unlike the pre-revolutionary Russian intelligentsia, who could not be sure where their ideas would lead, those who embrace Marxist-Leninist tenets today do. The question arises: Do they want to eliminate those with whom they disagree? Do they actually approve of the Gulag, the Soviet terror famine, and the Cambodian killing fields? Or have they simply learned to deflect mention of those events without even considering what they actually think about them--as Leninist training would instruct?

When such questions occur to me, I turn to Dostoevsky's fiction--and to Solzhenitsyn's novels August 1914 and November 1916. I wonder that Bernie Sanders, to take one example, twice endorsed the presidential candidate of the Marxist-Leninist Socialist Workers Party and in 1980 belonged to its slate of presidential electors. He took a honeymoon in the USSR, which no one visited for the weather. I wonder still more at his journalistic and intellectual supporters who do not find these facts troubling. Perhaps they are simply "inebriated by the cult of revolution" (in Mahoney's words) and by the pleasure of going along with the progressive crowd?

Dostoevsky claimed special insight into the radical mindset because he had once shared it and been exiled to Siberia for it. He identified among the supporters of revolution a spectrum of understanding and a variety of motives.

So far as I know, Dostoevsky was the only nineteenth-century thinker to have foreseen totalitarianism in detail. . .

More on Dostoevsky.

Russian State Media

It's hard to know what information about Ukraine to trust, but this BBC report seems pretty authentic to me. It includes stories of people in Ukraine whose relatives in Russia do not believe them when they say that Ukraine is under attack by Russia. They trust the Russian State Media.

Sounds even worse than here. I guess that the BBC has now been banned in Russia.

free speech idiots.jpg

Music

Haydn

Hope you have something nice planned for the weekend.

This is the Thread before the Gardening Thread.

Serving your mid-day open thread needs

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posted by K.T. at 11:14 AM

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