SODOM & GOMORRAH: Western press continues to have a difficult time making sense of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia’s “man of action” defies western understanding with many of his decisions.
The Guardian insultingly calls it “Soviet-style repression“. Vladimir Putin has been cracking down on a number of things that he feels are corrupting Russian society. His government has been less than tolerant of anti-government protests in Moscow. The Russian state prosecuted and convicted members of the feminist band Pussy Riot. Putin’s agents kidnapped an anti-Kremlin socialist and brought him back to Russia. The government has cracked down on alcohol consumption.
The truth is, Russian society is flailing. Since the end of the Cold War, the country has been practically held hostage by corrupt strongmen and organized crime. The mafia and various unscrupulous types have taken advantage of the weakened state to further their own ends. Once the iron curtain fell, individual ethnic groups throughout Russia simultaneously made bids for autonomy.
Without Vladimir Putin, Russia would have fallen apart. His opposition, as I have previously noted, is strange in the sense that it’s made up of old Soviets and nationalists who feel that Putin is betraying differing versions of “old Russia”. Putin’s intolerance of such outbursts is an indication that he does not want Russia to return to the old Soviet ways, nor does he wish to see Russia embrace a nationalistic path that would further alienate the different ethnic groups who are thus far (reasonably) pacified.
Western outlets such as the Guardian have never lived in a society where the established political order is under serious question. The newspapers live in a world inhabited by good liberals who, despite their differences, all agree that their established order (or disorder) is the only legitimate way of life. They cannot comprehend a world where demonstrations are made to overthrow the existing system and replace it with something radically different – in Russia, there are people who long for a state that exalts ethnic Russians over other groups, and there are people who eagerly wait for a worldwide workers revolution to transform the means of production.
Putin’s intolerance of these radical elements shows that he recognizes that there are people who do not believe in the legitimacy of the existing order. Putin’s Russia is a world where people have realized that political pluralism is in fact deadly to any serious political system.