Categorizing the Russia Debate

Here I will try to categorize all the major Russia-watching schools along two axes: 1) a Russophobe – Russophile axis and 2) a values spectrum on attitudes towards the West as a universal mental matrix. Along these lines I created the image map below which attempts to graphically deconstruct the belief systems many prominent Russia-watchers today subscribe to. I mostly limited myself to those with a presence on the Anglophone blogosphere, though I’ve added in some nationalities and ideological groupings to clarify the terrain and fringe elements to demarcate the boundaries.

Jeff Nyquist ( A Step at a Time (David McDuff) Window on Eurasia (Paul Goble) Thomas P.M. Barnett Gordon Hahn (Russia: Other Points of View) The Ivanov Report (Eugene Ivanov) Dale Herspring Moscow Tory (Carl Thomson) Mike Averko Andrew Wilson (Virtual Politics) Vilhelm Konnander Mark Ames (eXile) Mat Rodina (Stanislav Mishin) Kirill Pankratov Russian Blog (Konstantin) Russia in the Media (Fedia Kriukov) Truth and Beauty (Eric Kraus) Nicolai Petro Vlad Sobell Eduard Limonov Siberian Light (Andy Young) La Russophobe (Kim Zigfield) Edward Lucas Streetwise Professor (Craig Pirrong) Robert Amsterdam Russia Blog (Charles Ganske & Yuri Mamchur) Sublime Oblivion (Anatoly Karlin The Russian Government (Dmitri Medvedev & Vladimir Putin) Peter Lavelle The Spirit of Terrorism (Jean Baudrillard) The End of History (Francis Fukuyama) Sean's Russia Blog (Sean Guillory)

Introduction: A Very Brief History of Russia-Watching

Though bloggers generally consider the Russophile-Russophobe dichotomy in contemporary terms, this division was as stark and relevant in the 1930’s. The following remarks made by John Scott in Behind the Urals, an account of life in a Soviet industrial town, are as relevant today as they were back then:
In talking with people in France and America I was impressed by the interest in the Soviet Union and the widespread misinformation about Russia and all things Russian. Everyone I met was opinionated [aren’t we all lol!]. The Communists and their sympathizers held Russia up as a panacea…Other people were steeped in Eugene Lyons’ stories and would not concede the possibility that Russia had produced anything during recent years except chaos, suffering and disorder. They dismissed the industrial and material successes of the Russians with an angry wave of the hand. Any economist or businessman should have been able to see that the tripling of pig-iron production within a decade was a serious achievement, and would necessarily have far-reaching effects on the balance of economic and therefore military power in Europe.
So basically, opinions on Russia were binaried amongst those who cared to express an interest. And they were almost all wrong. The hardcore Communists would not admit that life remained hard for most people, that Russia’s level of development remained far below that of the West (despite the Depression) and ignored the high level of political repression. On the other hand, the anti-Communists were just as wrong. Their ideologized refusal to acknowedge the high morale, technological progress and the huge rise in Soviet military-industrial potential under Stalin did them no good, especially for those Nazi strategists who thought all they had to do was kick the door and the whole rotten Soviet structure would come tumbling down.
Another point I would make here is that Russia’s history is highly cyclical, going through a pattern of collapse, recovery, expansion, stagnation and collapse. There are some convincing reasons that much of this is tied to its geography and derived cultural traditions. The archetypical Russia is economically weak (cold climate, vast distances and subpar riverine interconnectivity) and insecure (open, undefended borders). This traditionally meant that the Russian state had to marshal all available resources to compete as a Great Power, necessitating a strong state capable of maintaining superior armed forces, keeping abreast of foreign technological developments and providing bread and games to the people. However, the strain of supporting a metastasized empire out of proportion to its economic development, as well as the ideological rigidities necessary to thwart its premature dissolution, meant that when critical amounts of pressure did build up collapses tended to be far more total and catastrophic than in the West.
A succinct summary of this theme of eternal rise and fall can be found in Paul Kennedy’s Preparing for the 21st Century:
At present, all we see is chaos, struggle, economic collapse, ethnic disintegration – just as the observers of 1918 did. How could they have foreseen then that a decade or so later the USSR would have begun to produce chemicals, aircraft, trucks, tanks, and machine tools and be growing faster than any other industrialized society? By extension, how could Western admirers of Stalin’s centralized economy in the 1930’s know that the very system contained the seeds of its own collapse?
And as is well-known very few Kremlinogists accurately predicted the breakup the Soviet Union until 1989 (although it should be noted that contrary to current conventional wisdom, they were well-justified in their complacency because the Soviet political economy was fundamentally stable, albeit stagnant, and collapse was precipitated by Gorbachev’s abandonment of central planning in the absence of evolved market mechanisms). And yet soon after the pendulum swung the other way. Now quoting myself in Reading Russia Right:
Wildly optimistic predictions of tigerish growth rates and flourishing democracy were confounded, as practically every socio-economic statistic worsened and reforms were perceived to have authorized the wholesale looting of Russia – ‘the sale of the century’ – and the creation of a ‘historyless elite’ focused on the ‘exchange of unaccountable power for untaxable wealth’. By the end of the 1990’s, the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, tax collection and monetary emissions had eroded; market fundamentalism had transformed the Upper Volta with missiles into a ‘looted and bankrupt zone of nuclearized anarchy’ in a demographic death spiral presided over by the ‘world’s most virulent kleptocracy’ about to splinter along ethnic lines and fall into fascism sometime tomorrow. The Atlantic put it nice and simple: ‘Russia is Finished’.
And we all know what happened since 1998, even though some Russophobes have yet to catch up with the times – much like the ideologized anti-Communists of the 1930’s… (Of course, this is not to say that Putin is the next Stalin. I’m talking about the economic recovery, and the increasing investments into things like nanotechnology, which will probably be as important in this century as coal and steel were in the last).
Russia and Ideologues: Past Debates on Russophobia

Anyone familiar with Western commentary on Russia will know that much of it is bifurcated into two camps, the so-called “Russophiles” and “Russophobes”. Both range the whole gamut of opinion from classical liberalism to nationalist arch-conservatism, and tend to invoke Orientalist interpretations of Russian culture to make their points. This dichotomy has a millennial heritage, going back as far, perhaps, as the medieval period when Western Christendom first acquired a primal aversion to the dark, chaotic steppes to the east; yet an aversion tempered by seductive legends such as that of Prester John, who ruled a perfect Christian kingdom in a place beyond the darkness of Tatary.

Though bloggers generally consider the Russophile-Russophobe dichotomy in contemporary terms, this division was as stark and relevant in the 1930’s. The following remarks made by John Scott in Behind the Urals, an account of life in a Soviet industrial town, are as relevant today as they were back then:

In talking with people in France and America I was impressed by the interest in the Soviet Union and the widespread misinformation about Russia and all things Russian. Everyone I met was opinionated [aren’t we all lol!]. The Communists and their sympathizers held Russia up as a panacea…Other people were steeped in Eugene Lyons’ stories and would not concede the possibility that Russia had produced anything during recent years except chaos, suffering and disorder. They dismissed the industrial and material successes of the Russians with an angry wave of the hand. Any economist or businessman should have been able to see that the tripling of pig-iron production within a decade was a serious achievement, and would necessarily have far-reaching effects on the balance of economic and therefore military power in Europe.

So basically, opinions on Russia were binaried amongst those who cared to express an interest. And they were almost all wrong. The hardcore Communists would not admit that life remained hard for most people, that Russia’s level of development remained far below that of the West (despite the Depression) and ignored the high level of political repression. On the other hand, the anti-Communists were just as wrong. Their ideologized refusal to acknowedge the high morale, technological progress and the huge rise in Soviet military-industrial potential under Stalin did them no good, especially for those Nazi strategists who thought all they had to do was kick the door and the whole rotten Soviet structure would come tumbling down.

Another point I would make here is that Russia’s history is highly cyclical, going through a pattern of collapse, recovery, expansion, stagnation and collapse. There are some convincing reasons that much of this is tied to its geography and derived cultural traditions. The archetypical Russia is economically weak (cold climate, vast distances and subpar riverine interconnectivity) and insecure (open, undefended borders). This traditionally meant that the Russian state had to marshal all available resources to compete as a Great Power, necessitating a strong state capable of maintaining superior armed forces, keeping abreast of foreign technological developments and providing bread and games to the people. However, the strain of supporting a metastasized empire out of proportion to its economic development, as well as the ideological rigidities necessary to thwart its premature dissolution, meant that when critical amounts of pressure did build up collapses tended to be far more total and catastrophic than in the West.

A succinct summary of this theme of eternal rise and fall can be found in Paul Kennedy’s Preparing for the 21st Century:

At present, all we see is chaos, struggle, economic collapse, ethnic disintegration – just as the observers of 1918 did. How could they have foreseen then that a decade or so later the USSR would have begun to produce chemicals, aircraft, trucks, tanks, and machine tools and be growing faster than any other industrialized society? By extension, how could Western admirers of Stalin’s centralized economy in the 1930’s know that the very system contained the seeds of its own collapse?

And as is well-known very few Kremlinogists accurately predicted the breakup the Soviet Union until 1989 (although it should be noted that contrary to current conventional wisdom, they were well-justified in their complacency because the Soviet political economy was fundamentally stable, albeit stagnant, and collapse was precipitated by Gorbachev’s abandonment of central planning in the absence of evolved market mechanisms). And yet soon after the pendulum swung the other way. Now quoting myself in Reading Russia Right:

Wildly optimistic predictions of tigerish growth rates and flourishing democracy were confounded, as practically every socio-economic statistic worsened and reforms were perceived to have authorized the wholesale looting of Russia – ‘the sale of the century’ – and the creation of a ‘historyless elite’ focused on the ‘exchange of unaccountable power for untaxable wealth’. By the end of the 1990’s, the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, tax collection and monetary emissions had eroded; market fundamentalism had transformed the Upper Volta with missiles into a ‘looted and bankrupt zone of nuclearized anarchy’ in a demographic death spiral presided over by the ‘world’s most virulent kleptocracy’ about to splinter along ethnic lines and fall into fascism sometime tomorrow. The Atlantic put it nice and simple: ‘Russia is Finished’.

And we all know what happened since 1998, even though some Russophobes have yet to catch up with the times – much like the ideologized anti-Communists of the 1930’s… (Of course, this is not to say that Putin is the next Stalin. I’m talking about the economic recovery, and the increasing investments into things like nanotechnology, which will probably be as important in this century as coal and steel were in the last).

So if there’s one thing history proves, understanding Russia requires a wide array of different approaches and a certain ideological flexibility. Unfortunately, this has rarely been the case because Russia is a palimpsest, a place of all things to all people due to its own extremes and contradictions. This is what we are going to explore now…

Categorizing the Russia Debate

Both Russophobes and Russophiles have a somewhat obsessive love-hate relationship with Russia, the main difference being that the “Russophobe” does everything she can to condemn the country (and those who defend it) from within her own specific frames of reference, frequently through the prism of an idealized West; while the “Russophile” does everything she can to understand Russia on its own terms. And since understanding is forgiveness, this inevitably leads to a Romantic infatuation with the country (this is where seduction begins).

Refer to the grid at the top of this post. The vertical axis attempts to gauge the Russia-watcher’s attitudes to the West and its values. Though they may admit to minor blemishes, those who are “pro-West” are firm believers in the absolute superiority of Western civilization as symbolized in the Idea of the West (rule of law, sanctity of contract, free markets, classical liberalism, etc). In contrast “cynics” tend to focus on its rather unnatural (”Faustian”, to use the Spenglerian term) characteristics, systemic hypocrisies and tend to believe in the possibility – and indeed desirability – of economic modernization, social progress and democratization without Westernization.

Viewed from within this conceptual framework of a belief matrix, several major groups or schools begin to emerge.

Centrists & Marxists. These folks tend to be placid, considerate and consciously strive for objectivity in their judgments. Leading lights of this school include Andy Young (Siberian Light), Sean Guillory (Sean’s Russia Blog), the folks at the eXile (though they lean towards cynicism), Geoffrey Hosking and Anatol Lieven.

Siberian Light is the centrist par excellence amongst bloggers. Though he personally has a rather dim view of the Putin administration, Andy mostly focuses on aggregation and allows readers to make up their own minds.

Sean Guillory (Sean’s Russia Blog) aims to explore Russia through the “dialectic between universal and particular”, without trying to resolve, but rather accepting, the inherent contradictions born of such an exercise – this acceptance is the reason he tilts towards the “Russophile” end of the horizontal axis (albeit this is moderated by his semi-unconscious Western biases). He criticizes the Orientalism which he believes are clouding both the Russophile and Russophobe perspective, though as I assert in this work a Russophile cannot be an Orientalist by definition. As can be expected from a liberal Californian social sciences academic, not to mention his language, Sean directs his analysis through a Marxist and more broadly a dialectical prism. For reasons I will explain below, the dialectical approach is the epitome of Reason, which is located at the center of the vertical axis

On a less refined level, Sean’s approach could be described as both realistic and cynical. This attitude is broadly shared by some former eXile writers like Mark Ames and Yasha Levine.

The Western Russophobes. These are people with a strong belief in the validity of the Idea of the West and its near flawless exercise in the “Western world”. Their perceptions of Russia’s “Otherness” from Western ideals lead to regret and sadness for the apparent plight of the Russian people (often with scant regard for the Russians’ subjective perceptions of their own situation). Examples of such moderate Western Russophobes include Robert Amsterdam, Vilhelm Konnander, Steven Rosefielde, Andrew Wilson and most of the folks at RFERL.

The more extreme elements see the struggle in Manichean, quasi-religious terms. Russia’s ostensible denial of the Idea of the West is amoral, if not heretical – and so are the defenders of Putin’s “bloody regime”, who are either innocent dupes (”useful idiots”) or unrepentant heretics with whom there can be no compromise. Here’s a telling quote from Streetwise Professor’s (Craig Pirrong) seminal essay On Russophobia:

…It is this fundamental philosophical and moral divide between the classical liberal views I espouse, and the anti-liberal views of the Putinists, that explains my intense antipathy for the current Russian government and state, and which is the wellspring of my trenchant criticism. It is not a divide that can be bridged [my emphasis], as these are antithetical conceptions of the roles of the individual and the state…

Yet the cake here goes to Ed Lucas, who explicitly compares modern-day Russia to Mordor (the archetypal evil empire of epic fantasy) and its defenders to the evil henchmen of the Dark Lord himself.

But as the skies darken once again over the European continent (or Middle Earth if you prefer)… Mordor is clearly the Russian Federation, ruled by the demonic overlord Sauron (Putin). His email address, to give a contemporary note, might be sauron@gov.morder.me (the suffix is for Middle Earth). The threat from Mordor—symbolised by the Ring—is the combination of dirty money and authoritarian political thinking.

And Sauron’s henchmen the Orcs are clearly the murderous goons of the old KGB. The new twist—the Uruk-Hai, is the mutation of the old Soviet intelligence service with organised crime and big business. Sauron’s allies—the Nazgul—are the Siloviki, the sinister chieftains of the Kremlin’s authoritarian capitalist system. Like the Nazgul, we seldom see their faces.

So despite their representation of themselves as paragons of upstanding morality and reason, the bankruptcy of their arguments soon shows them up for the reality-disconnected ideologues many of them actually are. Other folks in this category include Paul Goble and David McDuff.

However, the ultimate in this category is the bombastic, manipulative La Russophobe, who abuses “her” anonymity to “expose” (read: smear) innocent individuals voicing disagreement with her extremist views in the vilest and most low-life manner. She represents the voice of Russia’s liberasts, a very small but loud segment of the Russian population which hates its own country and uses Bolshevik-reminiscent rhetoric against its enemies, real and imagined. Beyond them lie folks like Jeff Nyquist and the “Final Phase” conspiracy theorists, who believe that the Soviet Union never collapsed, continues to plot for the global triumph of Communism and recommend a pre-emptive American thermonuclear strike / holocaust on Russia. These extremist elements, lying on a spectrum from SWP to the Final Phase theorists, demonstrate that paradoxically the greater the strength of your belief in the West – the more your thoughts and actions forsake its rationalistic ideals.

The Western Russophiles. People like Thomas P.M. Barnett, Charles Ganske & Yuri Mamchur (Russia Blog), Eugene Ivanov, Gordon Hahn, Dale Herspring and Mike Averko (I think) believe that the civilizational commonalities between the West and Russia are strong, Russia is (more-or-less) converging to Western norms of economic and political behavior under the present regime and intense US-Russian co-operation is both rational and desirable. Such commonalities include: the war against terror, the struggle against radical Islam, common goals in economic development and democratic governance (they acknowledge a separate Russian path to democracy independent of “the West”, noting that there are many forms on national democracy), and Christian identity (so it is not surprising to see Russia Blog funded by the creationist Discovery Institute; before criticizing this, some Russophobes should pause to note that such beliefs are shared by more than half of “real Americans”, and I say this as an atheist!). Carl Thomson (Moscow Tory) is the British representative of this set, a member of the UK’s Conservative Party (!) who largely rejects the Russophobia of his own party.

Barnett believes that Russia and the West have a common interest in advancing globalization so as to combat instability and extremism in the destitute “Gap” nations running across the Central Americas and vast swathes of the African and Eurasian Islamic belt. Charles Ganske and Eugene Ivanov are patriotic Republicans who lament what they perceive as the manipulation of Reagan’s legacy to advance an anti-Russian agenda. Many of these people tend to be very much part of the conventional, respectable American “establishment” in politics, business, religion and academia.

The main Western Russophobe argument against their brothers and sisters on the other end of the spectrum is that their position is untenable, riddled with contradictions. But this is based on their own belief that the “real” Russia and the “real” West are incompatible (a divide that cannot be bridged). The Western Russophiles do not believe this belief is valid, so their position is internally consistent and hence can only be discredited (or confirmed!) by objective developments in Russia itself, or rather by how these developments are perceived and interpreted in Western texts.

A more valid objection to the Western Russophile worldview is that they have a rather warped perspective on the “real Russia”, with a tendency to gloss over its defects (that is, defects from the Western perspective, because things like the abuse of administrative resources or the post-totalitarian (Vlad Sobell) nature of unreformed elements of its security, judicial and bureaucratic apparatuses do not much concern Slavophiles, Eurasianists and even most ordinary Russians). This is because they are Westerners catering to Western expectations of what Russia should be and serve afundamentally political role in that their main task is to persuade Western politicians to go against the (Russophobic) Western consensus and seek rapprochement, understanding and co-operation with Russia.

The Skeptical Russophiles. I believe this characterizes the majority of Russia’s people today. They are proud of their nation in all its bittersweet glories and traumatic infamies and are deeply skeptical about the West’s poisoned chalice of absolutist political thinking (whether it is the neocon vision of US-directed democracy exports or the neoliberal dogma of free markets). They tend to see Russia as significantly separate from the West. Their recognition that Westernization is no universal panacea makes them skeptical towards democracy-freedom rhetoric and the overall desirability of pursuing some mythical “convergence” to the West. The fatal flaw of this approach, as alleged by the Western Russophobes, is that it is amoral and irrational (given that it stands in direct opposition to their belief in the Idea of the West). When the skeptical Russophiles screech about “double standards”, “Western hypocrisy” or “Orientalism”, the Russophobes chant “whataboutism”, “moral equivalence” and “tiresome pomo-ism” in retort.

Analysts who think along these lines include Peter Lavelle and the folks at Russia Today(its slogan “any story can be another story altogether” brilliantly illustrates their postmodern interpretation of truth, echoing former Economist journalist Gideon Lichfield who in one of his less cynical moments said, “The truth is like a quantum superposition state: it is not one version or the other, but a strange combination of all them,” in relation to Russia coverage), most prominent Russian politicians (including Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev), Nicolai Petro, Vlad Sobell, Eric Kraus, Fedia Kriukov (Russia in the Media), “Konstantin” (Russian Blog), Kirill Pankratov and yours truly, Anatoly Karlin.

A common Russophobe claim is that this position is inherently paradoxical (if you are skeptical, why only towards the West and not towards Russia?); this contradiction is resolved through re-definition of the terms – changing the Western-imposed definition of a “Russophile” as someone who uncritically praises Russia and its government, to a simple acceptance of it for what it is. Unlike the case for rational Western civilization,resolving its own contradictions is not part of Russia’s historical mission (and furthermore, attempts to do so on the parts of its elites usually led to tragic results).

This naturally results in an organic Russophilia tinged with skepticism towards the West on the part of the Russian people. The poet Fyodor Tyutchev managed to sum this up in just four eternal lines:

Умом Россию не понять, | You can’t understand Russia with intellect,
Аршином общим не измерить: | You can’t measure her with a common scale,
У ней особенная стать — | She has a special kind of grace,
В Россию можно только верить. | You can only believe in Russia.

Yet unadulterated belief is a luxury that cannot extend to those Russians forced to have dealings with Westerners on Western terms and the foreign Romantic intellectuals who empathize with the “real Russia”. This forces them into a sophisticated andWestern-derived defense in the information war (much as Russians and other civilizations that wanted to preserve their sovereignty from the West were forced into adopting the West’s machine civilization and modern weapons to survive real wars). They are slaves to the West so that “real Russians” can live free.

This phenomenon is illustrated by my reply to Streetwise Professor’s aforementionedOn Russophobia article with Deconstructing Russophobia, where I noted that a) his essentializing of Russia as anti-thetical to liberalism falls under the rubric of Orientalism, b) in support, there were numerous despotisms in Western history and in any case different Western states saw markedly different patterns of historical development, some more statist that others and c) “there many instances of democratic / liberal tendencies organically appearing in Russian history, from the Veche of medieval Novgorod to Putin’s consolidation of liberal democracy in the last 8 years”. Bearing in mind the centrality of belief to SWP’s position, I subjected it the following postmodernist assault:

And that’s really the difference between Russophobes and Russophiles. Russophiles know they live in the matrix; Russophobes think they’re free and laugh at the poor Russians, not realizing that they’re laughing at their own ugly reflections.

My basic assumption in making this argument (shared by many) is that the Idea of the West is based on the historical progress of Reason (or the Mechanism of natural science), a progress that advanced far enough as to rationalize itself – and consequently divine its own eschatology, starting from Hegel, the inventor of the modern dialectical theory. (This represents a profound break not only from the ancient myths and esoteric theo-philosophies which saw the world undergoing eternal cycles of progress and retreat, but also the Roman salvation cults and Chriatinity, which despite positing a linear time and an eschatology treated it as revealed knowledge, rather than building it up from reason).

Yet paradoxically, the Idea of the West (in its dialectical, universal sense) is ultimately a belief system itself, not based on rationalism as it would have you believe (even the axioms of mathematics are an object of belief, let alone something as artificial and unnatural as modern liberal democracy); and any belief system can be discredited by a) pointing out its inconsistencies in real life (this is the basis of the essentialist and Orientalist critiques) and b) exposing its contradictions – namely, by weilding the weapon of postmodernism, the West’s most fatal invention.

Modern thought raises no barriers to a future nihilistic war against liberal democracy on the part of those brought up in its bosom. Relativism – the doctrine that maintains all values are merely relative and which attacks all “priveleged perspectives” – must ultimately end up undermining democratic and tolerant values as well. Relativism is not a weapon that can be fired selectively at the enemies one chooses. It fires indiscriminately, shooting out the legs of not only the “absolutisms”, dogmas and certainties of the Western tradition, but that traditions emphasis on tolerance, diversity and freedom of thought as well.

Who wrote this? Francis Fukuyama, our Age’s prophet of the end of the history – and its unwitting nemesis.

(In his book, Fukuyama utilizes Hegel’s dialectics – that most Western of inventions – in an attempt to “prove” that liberal democracy is the final culmination of a linear history, not the withering away of the state and Communism as asserted by the Marxists. Yet this one paragraph, which I believe to be the most significant by far, contradicts his entire message; and from then on he becomes much less convincing).

The Western Russophobes characterize such attitudes as petulant, childish and nonconstructive (not to say Orwellian and totalitarian). And they are… because they are based on explicit denial of the West, and as such – they are caused by the West. Nazism, Stalinism, radical Islamism… these are hybrids of Western and traditional modes of thought, defined by a reaction to the West. For the defining essence of the West is that it is self-denying and self-refuting, unlike Russia (and traditional societies in general), which is self-affirming! This is the West’s greatest weakness… and its greatest triumph.

Two consequences follow. First, the Russophiles who are also firm believers in the West are viewed as misguided by the more extreme skeptical Russophiles (like Russian nationalists). However, they are useful tactical allies in the real struggle, which is between skeptical Russophilia and the Western Russophobe crusaders (the First Enemy).

Second, when Russia’s truest defenders (the skeptical Russophiles) use the weapons of the West against the West, this results in spiritual contamination which spreads throughout the entirety of Russian civilization, a contamination that skeptical Russophiles must constantly struggle against. For if they don’t, Russians end up deserting their unconditional faith in Russia and replace it with its simulacra – radical, self-refuting ideologies like extreme Slavophilia and Eurasianism, born of Western intellectual degeneracy and seduced by Western technics yet nostalgic for an imagined past of blood, soil and struggle to replace the gray disillusionment and sleazy decadence of the modern West.

These Russian nationalists don’t attack the West because they hate it, but because they love it too much. As such they are heretics and traitors to Russia, for in their absolute opposition to the West they ensure its spiritual triumph through suicide (paradoxical as the concept may sound to Westerners who have not delved too deeply into the spiritual foundations of their own belief system).

The Region of Disillusionment. These are the lonely souls cursed with an absolute love for truth. An excellent example would be Milan Kundera, who dislikes all kitsches, all totalitarianisms. From The Unbearable Lightness of Being:

Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass! It is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch. And no one knows this better than politicians. Kitsch is the aesthetic ideal of all politicians and all political parties and movements. Whenever a single political movement corners power, we find ourselves in the realm of totalitarian kitsch… In the realm of totalitarian kitsch, all answers are given in advance and preclude any questions. It follows, then, that the true opponent of totalitarian kitsch is the person who asks questions. A question is like a knife that slices through the stage backdrop and gives us a look at what lies hidden behind it.

Yet all societies need kitsch, a single dominant kitsch, in order to function; as such,these holy fools are spiritually rejected from all human societies. Yet this should not unduly bother them, for as Kundera insists: Einmal ist Keinmal – what is lived once might as well not have been lived at all, with all the moral and spiritual consequences that follow (”In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine”). Internalization of this concept is the road to spiritual freedom. This state of sublime oblivion is every believer’s unconscious dream of redemption.

The lack of belief that characterizes the Region of Disillusionment makes it profoundly unstable. The tortured souls caught up in there cannot resist the Romantic seduction of Russia’s Great March to the right, the iron rationalism of the West below or the radical nihilism (the belief in non-belief) of the top-left. They can either leave this hell (spiritual freedom) of their own volition, or be ripped apart by centrifugal forces and descend into madness, which is just another form of spiritual freedom and sublime oblivion.

There are no major Russia commentators in this quadrant. There are few absolute cynics, and even fewer people care to listen to their blasphemies.

EDIT: On reflection, I think the eXile fits the bill perfectly. They are irreverent court jesters talking truth to Russian, Western and any other power (see Ames’ review of Virtual Politics). Of course, almost no official figures ever cared to praise or even acknowledge them, even though some may have secretly admired them.

Extremists. Extremism of any kind is a profoundly unstable state. Not tied to any specific ideology, it is primarily a pattern of thought, moreover one now frequently reinforced by the phenomenon of Internet enclave extremism:

[O]n many issues, most of us are really not sure what we think. Our lack of certainty inclines us toward the middle. Outside of enclaves, moderation is the usual path. Now imagine that people find themselves in enclaves in which they exclusively hear from others who think as they do. As a result, their confidence typically grows, and they become more extreme in their beliefs. Corroboration, in short, reduces tentativeness, and an increase in confidence produces extremism. Enclave extremism is particularly likely to occur on the Internet because people can so easily find niches of like-minded types — and discover that their own tentative view is shared by others… There is a general risk that those who flock together, on the Internet or elsewhere, will end up both confident and wrong, simply because they have not been sufficiently exposed to counterarguments. They may even think of their fellow citizens as opponents or adversaries in some kind of “war.”

Anyone particular come to mind in the Russia debate? La Russophobe? Ed Lucas? The folks at InoForum? Russia’s liberasts? Myself? (I don’t think so, otherwise I wouldn’t have put myself up for consideration – but I’m interested in what my readers would say on this matter).

Ideological extremism is a fundamentally Western phenomenon, for it is something rationalized and artificial (whereas traditional societies are organic and conservative). I won’t dwell much on the intellectual foundations of various kinds of extremism (I’ve done that in great detail above), but I will mention one feature specific to all of them:they are unstable, with a tendency to flip to opposite extremes.

This is because of the artificial, one-sided manner in which extremists build up their beliefs. Though their belief systems are hard and uncompromising, they are also consequently brittle; given enough insults, they break down into a chaotic state (usually in the Region of Disillusionment). After a depressive, contemplative period, a new belief system takes form, which is frequently the polar opposite of their previous belief system. See for example David Horowitz, who metamorphosed from youthful limp-wristed liberal Marxism to bombastic ultra-conservatism. After several shocks, extremists tend to sink into the Region of Disillusionment, where some of them manage to find an indifferent happiness.

Hence the reason why it is actually Russians who have been exposed to the West make by far the best Russophobes (e.g. Kasparov, Latynina, Illarionov, etc), whereas virulent Russian nationalism typically arises after profound disillusionment with the West (e.g. Russia after the 1990’s smuta).

Russians. Russians have traditionally been accepting towards Russia in all its faults and glories. This is a default steady state that is only disrupted by severe socio-political breakdown. Their encounter with the West ushered in profound shocks, including the formation of the Russian intelligentsia – a civilizational defense mechanism to protect its spiritual sovereignty. They are in a profound predicament, however, since they are an inorganic cosmopolitan element, apart from the real Russia. Their assimilation of Western thought patterns in tandem with their retention of older Russian identities creates a profound internal conflict which further alienates them from the real Russia: either they desert to the West and become Western Russophobes, like the Bolsheviks and today’s liberasts; or they become spiritual cynics in the Region of Disillusionment, rejected by all except an inner God; or they flee into the comforting recesses of an imagined past, like the extreme Slavophiles or Eurasianists (their only disagreement with each other is on what the imagined past was like).

Most just about manage to remain in the spiritually unsettling void of skeptical Russophilia (this includes the Putin circle), fighting against both totalitarian temptations and Western Russophobe encroachments on two fronts. Since today more and more Russians are becoming Westernized in thought but simultaneously ever more disillusioned with the West, the consequences for the future may be dire.

Pray that Russia continues its insane struggle. For only suicide – universal suicide, can break the loop of the struggle. Much like Samson bringing down the Temple, a glorious nuclear conflagration will sweep the Faustian West with its machines and intellect and hypocrisy into the vortex of sublime oblivion, freeing it from the overlong, tyrannous daylight of the unnatural state and once again ushering in the primeval mysticism of the dark forests, where blood and instinct can once again reign dominant over the biosphere. As they should, according to the true dissident.

Foreigners. Amongst Western Europeans, Germans are probably the most disillusioned with the West, especially in its depopulating, depressed eastern regions. It is a spiritually bifurcated and psychologically tortured nation: though it played a major role in manufacturing the Faustian world of machines and the intellect, it is safe to say that a nation which produced the likes of Nietzsche, Spengler and Heidegger possesses a profoundly mystical soul. Given that the imposition of liberal democracy onto its soil was artificial rather than organic, and its deep spiritual affinity with the Russian soul in its worldview, the re-emergence of the Reich is likely. Many Muslims also view Russia positively (with the exception of Wahhabi extremists), unlike the West which they regard as arrogant (pretensions of universality), disruptive (of age-old traditions) and spiritually degenerate.

Peoples like the British, French, Poles and the Americans retain a large degree of belief in the West – the Poles and Americans to a greater extent, the British to a lesser (they are partly disillusioned, perhaps to a greater extent than the others, by the effects (ostensibly rational) neoliberal democracy has had on their nations – social breakdown, deindustrialization and paradoxically, a metastasized state with universal surveillance and databases, political spin, burgeoning bureaucracy and ever expanding welfare rolls to support the demoralized victims of market fundamentalism). Ultimately, throughout history the Idea of the West was sustained by economic growth; whenever it faltered, as in the 1930’s, the hyenas pounced and the temptations of simulated belief and of struggle reasserted themselves. Quoting Spengler in The Decline of the West:

…..The future of the West is not a limitless tending upwards and onwards for all time towards our presents ideals, but a single phenomenon of history, strictly limited and defined as to form and duration, which covers a few centuries and can be viewed and, in essentials, calculated from available precedents. With this enters the age of gigantic conflicts, in which we find ourselves today. It is the transition from Napoleonism to Caesarism, a general phase of evolution, which occupies at least two centuries and can be shown to exist in all Cultures…..

…..The last century [the 19th] was the winter of the West, the victory of materialism and scepticism, of socialism, parliamentarianism, and money. But in this century blood and instinct will regain their rights against the power of money and intellect. The era of individualism, liberalism and democracy, of humanitarianism and freedom, is nearing its end. The masses will accept with resignation the victory of the Caesars, the strong men, and will obey them…..

With the coming of energetic and environmental limits to growth, mass cynicism is inevitable. Cynics, including skeptical Russophiles, will have an easier time everywhere. Let us hope they do not dare storm the heights and attempt to reinvent the past, using all the powers of the modern Megalopolis (cybernetics, WMD’s, virtual politics, relativism, etc) at their disposal – to destroy the Megalopolis.

  • AK

    I noticed that for some reason Comments were disabled when I first posted this. Not intentional; now fixed.

  • You are really on a roll! I appreciate your ability to write down everything I am thinking so I don’t have to! 🙂

    A few comments.

    While it’s imperative (I think) to recognize and acknowledge the dynamic that is out there shaping the debate, and its underlying causes, there is a danger of placing too much importance on it. Of our perceived respective “camps” being given more weight than the validity of the arguments being made by the people in them. I see it all the time. But while I’d probably plot my views in the middle of the upper right quadrant, and on some days in that bermuda triangle between you, Peter and VVP, I find myself agreeing with people like Limonov, Pirrong (I’m surprised too…) and Eugene Ivanov. So maybe it is best to recognize it, understand it, and then maybe move past it. Because we need more dialogue, not less. IMO.

    It’s debatable and not terribly important, but I wouldn’t confuse a political agenda in opposition to Putin for Russophobia. I think Limonov’s and Amsterdam’s Russophobia are overstated on your map. Regarding Limonov, life doesn’t always have to be a Dostoyevsky novel, Mr. Karlin. Yes, he’s a nihilist. But even using your criteria, I think he’s certainly tried to understand Russia on its own terms. I think he understands it quite well, and it pisses him off. To me the difference between Russophobia and his attitude is the difference between the impersonal, arrogant racist who sits in a private club judging everyone below him and the rebellious adolescent who wants out from under his parents thumb and sees too clearly their shortcomings. And don’t give me the no true Russian argument. Amsterdam has written that he has a fondness for Russia (and even a curious admiration of Putin as an adversary.) Who knows? He’s a propagandist, but not as much anti-Russia as anti-Putin, unlike others in that camp, who are weirdly obsessed with what they believe is Russia’s faulty psychology and inability to do anything right.

    • AK

      I was aware when writing this that I would leave myself open to many charges, including a) essentialism, b) being influenced by my own biases even when trying to present an “objective” picture of the debate and c) inaccuracy (misrepresenting positions based on my ignorance and/or bias). Let me address each of them in turn.

      a) A certain amount of simplification is necessary for understanding a particular interpretation enough to appreciate its nuances. I think the schema I’ve presented does a fair enough (i.e. it’s internally consistent) job of that.

      I agree of course that dialog is useful and beneficial, and I also find myself (occasionally) agreeing with people like C. Pirrong and R. Amsterdam. Yet speaking of the former, it is hard to conduct a reasonable dialog with someone who openly (honestly) states that the divide between the world-view he subscribes to (Western Russophobia) and where my values lie (skeptical Russopholia) “cannot be bridged”.

      Of course, much of C. Pirrong’s analysis, one has to admit, is based on a significantly deeper understanding of Russia than from the likes of La Russophobe and her minions, and perhaps a deeper understanding than even amongst many Western Russophiles. Yet as I’ve emphasized here the main issue is not with “understanding Russia” (whatever that really means – who’s to judge how well someone understands something, especially a place as contradictory as Russia?), but the ideological prism through which the light of reason is shone through. Though some rays may coincide, his prism is focused oppositely to mine; his way is uncompromising rejection of the “real Russia” (which is Russophile and skeptical); mine is on its acceptance, or at least that is what I strive for within reasonable limits. These limits are the reason I cannot be a complete Russophile, even leaving aside the fact that I am a rootless cosmopolitan whose connection with Russia is intellectual and artificial (rather than elemental and organic), and as such in conflict with fundamental Russian values.

      b) My reluctance to focus on (or rather attempts to justify) the quasi-religious aspects of skeptical Russophilia, which is not something I bothered doing for the Western Russophobes. There are of course valid reasons for belief in the West (as opposed to just moderation or skepticism to it), because based on some measurable criteria Westernized societies achieved the highest levels of economic and technological development, nor did Anglo-Saxon societies experience significant internal strife on the scale of German or Russian totalitarianism, and it could even be argued that their imperialism was more benevolent (of course peoples like the Irish, the Kenyans or the Vietnamese would probably disagree).

      And it should also be noted that whenever Russia did try to move West it failed, both socio-economically and spiritually – though again there are numerous caveats here which the intelligent Western Russophobe would point out, such as a) just to what extent DID Russia ever move to the West, even during smutas and b) where not Russia’s periodic collapses fundamentally a bug of the indigenous system, and as such the West really had very little to do with it?

      But there are counter-counter-arguments to this too. So ultimately I can only reaffirm my fundamental skepticism and claim the issue is not what belief you choose to believe in – but whether you understand why you choose to believe in it.

      c) Five major difficulties with classifying the Russia debate: 1) my own inherent biases (covered in a) ), 2) insufficient knowledge / ignorance of other people’s real positions, 3) discrepancies between what people say, and what they really believe 4) the fact that some people manage to hold two or more contradictory positions simultaneously and 5) the fact that people’s beliefs undergo changes with time.

      Re-Limonov and the NazBols, they make an excellent case study that illustrate these issues. The early Limonov was an all-out radical whose position was based on rejection of the real Russia (fueled by reading of Western postmodernist texts) – including uncompromising opposition to the state / “bloody regime” (the state is traditionally an exalted institution in Russia, and a feared one: to outright oppose it is to commit spiritual heresy under the terms of the real Russia). Re-your argument that “but even using your criteria, I think he’s certainly tried to understand Russia on its own terms. I think he understands it quite well, and it pisses him off”: just confirms the point. Pissed off = rejected it as it is, which is heresy.

      However, a cursory glance through his blog reveals that he has mellowed with age and if anything may have fallen into the Region of Disillusionment.

      The extremist elements of the NazBols remain, but the major change they’ve made is to drop the nationalist part of the rhetoric so as to receive Western support (which they immediately got) along with the classical Western liberasts. This is a tactical concession, I imagine. Should the NazBols ever come to power, I’d bet the likes of Kasparov et al would be first up against the wall.

      Re-Amsterdam. Yes, he certainly doesn’t come across as a foaming anti-Russian bigot and is rather civil and polite (along with Konnander and probably most academics focusing on Russia). So he’s not as big a Russophobe as the likes of Lucas or even Pirrong, but a Russophobe nonetheless because of his rejection of the narodnaya volya (I know the revolutionary connotations of the term, though I don’t of course mean it in that sense here), the real Russia that dismisses Khodorkovsky and supports Putin. As such I can only classify him as a Russophobe under Russian terms, though without malice. (I never claimed the skeptical Russophiles to be particularly liberal or sensitive types, after all…)

      • As I said, it is debatable and perhaps unimportant who belongs where. It wasn’t my intention to charge you with anything. And at this point, I’ll defer to those in question as to how they categorize themselves. I thought it interesting that Gergor thinks he’s “just being fair.” I suspect most people feel that way.

        You list five major difficulties with classifying the Russia debate: 1) my own inherent biases (covered in a) ), 2) insufficient knowledge / ignorance of other people’s real positions, 3) discrepancies between what people say, and what they really believe 4) the fact that some people manage to hold two or more contradictory positions simultaneously and 5) the fact that people’s beliefs undergo changes with time. I think, while they make your job more difficult, they are precisely the reasons why it’s helpful to keep and open mind. And just because someone who disagrees with, well, I can only speak for myself, with me has a closed mind (the Pirrong quote you refer to is an example of this), the closed mind is an intellectual crutch. All I mean to say is, use these categories for navigating the debate, not for closing ourselves off from it. And that’s not directed at you. It’s just my thinking aloud.

        • AK

          All I mean to say is, use these categories for navigating the debate, not for closing ourselves off from it.

          Completely agreed here.

  • Excellent article Anatoly; you manage to weave so many ideas together, sadly you are wrong about one thing, though:

    ‘Peoples like the British, French, Poles and the Americans retain a large degree of belief in the West – the Poles and Americans to a greater extent, the British to a lesser (they are partly disillusioned, perhaps to a greater extent than the others, by the effects (ostensibly rational) neoliberal democracy has had on their nations – social breakdown, deindustrialization and paradoxically, a metastasized state with universal surveillance and databases, political spin, burgeoning bureaucracy and ever expanding welfare rolls to support the demoralized victims of market fundamentalism.’

    Whilst you are right about what Britain is like, most Brits are sadly too ignorant to think of themselves as Western or case about state tyranny; the neo-liberals (and Eton Eloi rulers) ignore this and are desperate to try their hand at Churchillian rhetoric. To put it most simply, most Brits think Big Brother is a fascinating and mind stretchingly intelligent TV program which shows ordinary people sitting in a house. If you complain about the Orwellian CCTV system, they will dismiss you as a tin-foil-hatted loon. Yet our leaders still have superpower delusions.

    Incidentally, on your chart you do not mention people like me, but then maybe that is because no mainstream figure puts forward crazy arguments like mine and I am only paid to write about people who’ve died centuries ago ;-).
    Essentially, I am a Russophile, but not slavishly so. Given that Britain retreated from Iraq after 300 or so casualties, I do not think that our leaders truly want a military confrontation with Russia. My biggest argument against Russophobes is that they are the same people who want the DNA database and Big Brother CCTV surveillance.

    In this regard Peter Hitchens perfectly sums up my view, though on a different subject, here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72SAMXFAqzI

    Furthermore, Russophilia is difficult to define. I regard myself as a Russophile due to the gentle warmth I’ve found in Russian people and due to the immense cultural achievements of Russia. I am critical of many aspects of ‘Putinism’: the Ryazan bombs and Chechnya chief amongst them. However, I’m most critical of the idea that Putin has been ‘rolling back’ freedom. From whom? Yeltsin who bombed his own parliament, who is ultimately responsible for both Chechen wars, whose reign saw the massacre of journalists, who was only re-elected by telling massive lies? Putin has saved his country (and democracy) from imploding. For that he deserves praise, but not uncritically. I see that as a fair judgement.

    However, given the main stream media’s acceptance of ‘truthiness’ being fair probably puts one of the far fringes of Russophilia (and yes, I have been asked when I’m planning to live there). I may be ‘a Russophile’ for my views on Litvinenko given that 1) Britain did not ask for a mutual extradition theory with Russia 2) There was no evidence for trying Lugavoi 3) Litvinenko was a criminal who may have been murdered by several people. There was no defined motive or means.

    I may also be regarded as a Russophile for being sickened at calls to speed up Saakashvilli’s NATO application after he used tanks against civilians.

    In both cases I think I’m just being fair.

    There is so much else I’d comment on, but it would take all evening. Good work.

    PS About Germany, I read that Dostoyevsky thought that Russians and Germans would rule Europe in the future and that some Germans called him ‘our Dostoyevsky’.

    • AK

      I’d probably put you somewhere around Sean Guillory (Sean’s Russia Blog) or Carl Thomson (Moscow Tory). Closer to Carl.

      Russophilia is not equivalent to being fair. It is a perpendicular to it, just like Western Russophobia. The closest fit for those who strive for fairness is in the Region of Disillusionment, for their hopes are alas eternally frustrated.

      Re-Dostoevsky. Very interesting, but kind of makes sense since they are the probably the most “mystical” European peoples, with the highest levels of “passionarity” (“vital energy” – readiness to self-sacrifice in pursuit of an Ideal), to use Gumilev’s terms.

      Incidentally, I also think Jews / Israelis are also imbued with an abnormally high level passionarity. This might explain the love-hate triangle that characterizes relations between Germans, Russians and Jews.

      Another thing – some peoples, namely the Muslims, also have huge levels of passionarity, but unlike the Germans or Russians they have not managed to internalize Western technics, and as such their capacity to create chaos on a large scale is limited.

      Wow, what a lot of nonsense I’ve just written.

      • ‘The closest fit for those who strive for fairness is in the Region of Disillusionment’

        Or (what’s worse?) Fox News…

        I suppose by fair I meant that I do not think that a sentimental link to Russia has always shaped my thoughts. For instance, as far as I know Lugavoi could have been given direct orders to murder Litvinenko. However, for Lugavoi to be tried, there would have to be direct evidence (which the British state did not give) and a mutual extradition treaty (which the Brits did not offer) and to blame the Russian state for supporting Lugavoi there is no foundation.

        Again, I do not think that someone should be rewarded for bombing their own people, and that NATO should not include any unstable countries. I have a good friend who is Georgian, but that has not prejudiced me towards being ‘pro-Georgian’. But I wouldn’t want Bangladesh to be given NATO membership either.

        I feel very little affinity for Sunni Islam countries, but the ‘war on terror’ has been a disaster for Britain. For these reasons I do not know if my Russophilia has been a great influence on my political views concerning ‘Putinism’.

        I also noticed that there is an affinity between Jewish, German and Russian cultures, which has not led to positive relations. Yet (as Karl Popper may say) historicism is impoverished. Who in 1814 would know that the French and British would become allies against the German people?

        Of course the problem is that Germany and Russia both seem to have rather grim demographic futures (even if in Russia’s case this is rather exaggerated). Call it ancestral loyalty, or the Auld Alliance, but I still think France will become resurgent in later years. Whilst the French film industry is sadly in decline, politically it appears that they have kept the habit of promoting intelligent people. Sadly, Britain seems to be going the other way. I can see a ‘Euro-belt’ between France, Germany and Russia. But then I share your general view that predictions are fun as thought experiments, but probably bullshit as far as reality goes.

        Still, I am a big fan of Sarkozy’s blend of etatist capitalism and pragmatic foreign policy.

        Marchons! Marchons!

        (incidentally, I agree with the Kundera quote about kitsch, but some kitsch is kitschier than other kitsch; and the Anglosphere produces the worst nationalist kitsch. No offence to any Americans but I often find myself whistling the star spangled banner whilst micturating, though we Brits outdo anyone else in the kitsch stakes by plastering Churchill’s ugly face on everything intended to evoke national pride).

      • Kolya

        “Wow, what a lot of nonsense I’ve just written.”

        I agree with you a 100 percent.

  • Eugene Ivanov

    Anatoly,

    This is ABSOLUTELY MONUMENTAL piece. It has never occurred to me that the Russia debate can be presented in a “graphic” form.

    Besides, I’ve learned something new about myself 🙂

    Thanks and Best Regards,

    Eugene Ivanov

    • AK

      Thanks, I hope you’re happy with your classification. 🙂

      I’m currently thinking of a) extending this framework to analyze the dialectic between the West and other traditional cultures and b) making a kind of “Are you a Russophobe” quiz (kind of like the Political Compass) which Russia-watchers can take to get their own classifications, rather than me doing it for them.

      Speaking of which, would anyone know of a good on-line app for making such quizzes?

    • JFreegman

      I like the idea of a quiz. After I read this piece I kinda wanted to find out where I stood (though I suspect I know the general area already).

  • Mnogo bukaff (as always), but very interesting. Thanks for doing this. While I agree with Poemless that exhaustively trying to parse and map out people’s positions in a debate is not necessarily the most fruitful thing for the debate itself, this is interesting – and eye-opening to humanities/word people like myself; I am already thinking of the possible ways to map out other political landscapes using this format.

    • AK

      I know, I have a problem with excessive wordiness. Too many ideas, I want to put them all down and have difficulties cutting it down. I think this afflicts a lot of writers.

  • Bro Karamazov

    … a lot of younger ones! With age we are all bound to converge to the disillusionment spot, well, thouse who are frank enough, to yourself at least, with no ideas left. The only hope is new ideas, I mean really new ones, from youth like you. Good lack!

    • I’ve been secretly very interested in this for a while. There seems to be a clear generational phenomenon [mid 40’s-mid 20’s] nested within the larger community of “Russia watchers.” This is probably nothing more than a reflection of the average age-range of bloggers. But conducting my own thoroughly unscientific study among my peers, I’ve discovered some interesting themes. The trajectory of their own coming of age: from the curiosity & optimism of childhood, to the irreverence & hedonism of adolescence, to the sobriety & cynicism of adulthood does appear to parallel the trajectory of Russia’s own recent history. That is, to be a kid during the twilight of the Cold War, a young adult in 90s Moscow and a person with a sense of responsibility in the current political climate could give you a lot of motivation for writing about Russia.

      “Wow, what a lot of nonsense I’ve just written.”

  • AK

    There are no new ideas left, only citation, revision and annihilation.

    PS. Re-Region of Disillusionment, on further reflection, I think the eXile fits the bill perfectly. They are irreverent court jesters talking truth to Russian, Western and any other power (e.g., see Ames’ review of Virtual Politics). Of course, almost no official figures ever cared to praise or even acknowledge them, even though some may have secretly admired them.

  • I guess my photo was easier to find and photoshop than some of the rest. I don’t claim to get it all, but it’s interesting.

  • Good point Leos. In case you missed this one:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Alliance_of_Russian_Solidarists

    Let me add that although not inherently anti-West, folks thinking somewhere (not necessarily completely) along such lines are nevertheless disappointed by the influential political trends they see in the West (among them: the bombing of Yugoslavia, slant on disputed former Communist bloc territories and the way post-Soviet era NATO expansion was initially promoted).

    Is that church you mention comprised of many Rusyns? I understand that former Czecholslovakia (particularly Slovakia) has had a small but noticeable Rusyn community.

    Some friends of my family includes/included (I believe that one or both of them are now deceased) a Carpatho-Rusyn (from Czechoslovakia) and his Ukrainian wife. They’ve been and hopefully still are actively affiliated with the ROCOR.

    Back to the pro and anti West bit: if I’m not mistaken, Stanislav Mishin isn’t anti-West in the sense that he’s against some trends he sees coming from the West versus others in the West who he likes and vice versa. If I’m not mistaken, he says that Russia and the West can be friends – with one provision being that the latter not condescend towards the former. Although not ruling out close Russia-West relations, SM seems to be of the view (could be wrong) that Russia isn’t “part” of the West.

    • http://orthodoxwiki.org/Church_of_the_Czech_Lands_and_Slovakia

      I bet you will find Rusyns among them but this is mainly a Czech and Slovak organisation and it had a links with Serbia.

      The Rusyns are Greek Catholic as far as I know but in the Anglosaxon countries they often revert to some form of Orthodoxy together with other people from Ukraine. I heard that in the US they came into conflict with the Roman Catholics because unlike them they have a married clergy. Czech Roman Catholics are a bunch of hippies who claim Budhism is the same as Christianity and the Cardinal so some less regular groups like the Greek or Old Catholics live very much in peace with them and even attract the more conservative believers.

      I personally agree with the view that Russia is not a part of the West in the strict sense of the term, but some form of interaction between those two was and is inevitable and it is desirable for that interaction to be on good terms.

    • AK

      Re-Stanislav Mishin. Like the true Slavophile of old, he is skeptical about rationalism (a bedrock of Western civilization, with the obvious caveat that it has never been fully adhered to in practice) and emphasizes the importance of old traditions – family, religion, bucolic virtues, etc – especially for Russia. Ultimately the Western countries can do what they like, but please don’t try to “contaminate” mystical Russia with your death-cult ideologies.

      I think his relation to the West is similar to that of the austere Islamist (they too can co-exist with the West, as long as it removes its military from the ME, and keeps its “decadence” to itself). In fact he quite explicitly admits it himself in his (Russian) article Россия, Учись У Ислама:

      Россия ещё слаба в позиции сражения с Западом. Это всем понятно. Пока что, западная боевая и экономическая сила просто слишком могуча для прямого сражения. Поэтому России нужно находить другие способы и стратегии для ослабления этого могущества и защиты своих интересов. У России есть другие способы выиграть, и этот мировой кризис создал прекрасную почву для этих стратегий.

      В борьбе против западного влияния, в особенности, англо- хегемонизма (Hegemony) , исламские страны создали международные организации и банки, с задачей соединить исламские страны в одно единое общество и с этим создать блок стран, которые могут, как минимум, защитить себя против западной “мягкой” силы, в форме культурного империализма.

      Первая организация должна быть Интернациональный Православный Союз (ИПС). … Вторая организация должна быть Пан-Славянский Союз (ПСС).

      В этот момент, Россия может победить Запад в этой сфере, без прямой военной конфронтации, но только в том случае, если она возмёт инициативу и не даст этой исторической возможности проскочить.

      So yeah… the ummah under an Islamic Caliphate… the pan-Slavic Orthodox Holy Russian Empire. Physically coexisting with but ideologically opposed to the West.

  • For whatever reason, my last set of comments was bounced down in terms of time order.

    Time wise it comes after Leos’ 5:11 AM post of today.

    Leos, regarding your most recent set of comments:

    Some Rusyns are Greek Catholic, while others are Orthodox Christian. The recently deceased and recognized lead ROCOR figure was Rusyn. Like Ukrainians, there’re Rusyn OC and GC followers.

    As you might know, the Rusyns are characterized by some as a branch of Ukrainians. Others stress their background along the lines of saying that Ukrainians, Russians, Belarusians and Rusyns are descendants of the Rus state.

    FYI, there has been a small but representative number of Rusyns in former Yugoslavia as well. Offhand and without checking: besides Ukraine, their European numbers are greatest in former Czechoslovakia, former Yugoslavia, Poland, Hungary and Romania. This point leads me to further inquire if the org. you mention is well comprised of folks with a Rusyn background. I’ll try to look into this matter (include checking your link in detail) soon.

  • Chris Doss

    “The early Limonov was an all-out radical whose position was based on rejection of the real Russia (fueled by reading of Western postmodernist texts) – including uncompromising opposition to the state / “bloody regime” (the state is traditionally an exalted institution in Russia, and a feared one: to outright oppose it is to commit spiritual heresy under the terms of the real Russia).”

    According to this logic, Tolstoy was a Russophobe. As was Stenka Razin. And Mikhail Bakunin. You’re repeating 19th-century official Russian state ideology, not what actual people thought.

    You’re also confusing Limonov and Dugin. I don’t think Limonov ever read a postmodernist text in his life.

  • Chris Doss

    “As it is currently interpreted (at least in Russia), there is little room for both Slavophilia and strong belief in Western values of rationalism, liberal democracy, etc.”

    I actually do not believe that rationalism is a Western value. Far from it.

    • AK

      We need to make the distinction between the Idea of the West (which I think is rooted in rationalism / dialectics) and “Western countries” (the US, Britain, France, etc: like all human societies, they are incapable of reaching complete unity with rationalism, but overall I think they’ve done a pretty good job of it since 1776 – more so than Germany, Russia, the Islamic world, etc, anyway).

      This explains the key failing of the neocons, for instance. They simultaneously (over-)believe in both the universality of liberal democracy – a manifestation of rationalism, AND an American-specific “exceptionalism” (in many places perceived as chauvinism). Yet since even the US has internalized the Idea of the West into its traditions so deeply, their position seems contradictory to the impartial and hypocritical to the inflamed.

  • So many interesting points, I wish I had more time to comment but:

    About Stas Mishin, I think he’s partially ‘taking the piss’ as we say in Britain, through pointing out the America is very far from the Hayekian wonderland that many make it out to be with ‘Anglo-Marxist’ politicians running a country that many think of as the epitome of free market capitalism.

    It is an interesting ‘thought experiment’ because it has a grain of truth (though I find it amusing to try and imagine John McCain reading through the eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon). Still, Mishin debates the ‘libertarian’ school of thought that a privatized, unregulated economy, with freedom of trade and immigration is a free country, where the state will wither away.

    However, Mishin argues from a similar position to Pat Buchanan, that welfare is not opposed to free trade/ open borders but the logical conclusion of it. However, it seems to me that Mishin’s Austrian economics are very western. He actually makes some very similar arguments to Buchanan, who is demonized in the American media, but who is undoubtedly and intelligent and interesting writer. (utterly OT, but I was bemused to see a ‘debate’ on the merits of Buchanan’s book about how WWII could have been avoided. The ‘debate’ was between Christopher Hitchens and VD Hansen; I think the Lenin Prize committee could have been more balanced and stimulating).

    I myself support a vaguely French system of dirigisme, but find it interesting that I live in a country that perpetually criticizes the French economy, yet which has a far grimmer prospect than France has.

    ‘one of my main complaints with Britain is that its kitsch is both crap and you are expected to believe in it’

    I’m afraid you’ve lost me there Anatoly. Any examples? Whilst we have lost the way with kitsch now, however, I would argue that James Bond provided wonderful kitsch for several decades. British patriotism soared in the 80s at the idea that the world was full of maidens who couldn’t wait to be violated by a wrinkly Brit in a corset with a dismal line in puns. And the early James Bond films, where a working clash Eascht Coasht Shcot (yay!) acts an Eton Boy who wears horrible clothes and goes around thrashing foreigners whilst pulling girls with hilariously sexist comments and debating the principle of scarcity with a rotund German. Best of all, the Connery films WERE full of understated irony. Whilst Daniel Craig is possibly the best actor to play Bond, I thought Casino Royale suffered from keeping the clichés but losing the irony.

    • I was coming from the fact that although ecclesiastically Zakarpatia is in theory the territory of Russia, it was for centuries a part of the Kingdom of Hungary so Vatican’s influence would be stron there. On the other hand though I read somewhere that the Soviet Union banned the Greek Catholics because they had links with Ukranian nationalism. Although it is doubtful that the Communists would give anything to the Moscow Patriarchate there is a possibility that some parishes might had been transfered under it. But the situation of Rusyns in emigration and their membership in ROCOR is yet another matter.

      But I must say I would have to just as well need to read more on this topic. Send me a mail with your findings, you can find it on my site, please I would be glad to read it.

      • Sorry bad click this was directed to Michael Above %)

    • One of my classmates took offence when I told him beer in Britain is crap and costly. Then I read in Daily Mail that pubs are closing because the cost of beer is dissuading the customers and that taxes are too high. There was of course nothing about the fact that high taxes lower the quality. I guess everyone, even the chaps at Daily Mail are used to it.

      • AK

        Yes. Britain is now raising beer taxes. It’s about time the people rise up and overthrow the socialist maniacs who oppress them.

    • AK

      Re-Buchanan. He is a strong “people” person, in the traditional American mould of industrial protectionism and social conservatism.

      Re-British kitsch. Well, you prove the point. If you’re not a wrinkly Brit in a corset with a dismal line in puns, what attraction could James Bond possibly have for you??

      As for me, my favorite character in all the Bond films ever was Gustav Graves in Die Another Day. I explain why here.

      • Well… congratulations for finding not one but two positive features of Die Another Day. Not sharing your views on the Europe-Asia dichotomy and not liking any of Ms Ciccone’s songs apart from Material Girl, I’m still trying to find one.

        ‘Well, you prove the point. If you’re not a wrinkly Brit in a corset with a dismal line in puns, what attraction could James Bond possibly have for you??’

        CF My comments on the early Bonds with Big Tam (Sean Connery) which were intense, lean, funny, action-packed and with a Scotsman who wasn’t 1) Unemployed 2) Alcoholic 3) Psychopathic 4) Morbidly obese. But it wasn’t so much your comment on Brit kitsch being shit (most kitsch is) but on ‘believing in it’ that puzzled me.

  • Chris Doss

    “I’m afraid you’ve lost me there Anatoly. Any examples?”

    Are You Being Served? 😉

    • I’m considering a lifestyle change… whilst they suffer in the media for their lack of pretensions, I actually think a lot of those ‘unsophisticated’ comedies Britain used to make (Allo Allo, Are you being Served, Till Death Us Do part etc) were far better written and more intelligent than a lot of the so-called ‘sophisticated’ modern comedies like Little Britain or the Sasha Cohen films.

      But there is an inherent paradox. I am a Brit who dislikes the way their country is going because I have an idealised view of how our country was pre-1990 (when I was 9). This puts me out of step with the majority of my compatriots who think (in the words of New Labour’s inaugral celebration song) ‘things can only get better’.

      By contrast the Russians seem to view the past with nostalgia, whilst the Kasparov alikes grumble that there is too little respect for progress in Russia.

      Ironically for a Russophile, I actually think the ‘Cold War’ reflected quite well on Britain. With 250,000,000 or so Soviets with Nukes we did not turn into a 1984 society with ten minutes hate and CCTV surveillance. I don’t think Britain could go through another cold war without turning into a police state.

  • Leos

    Among other things, posts 698-713 have links and comments regarding the Rusyns:

    http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@891.FgPggwQSEqx@.7760b692/747

    The Greek Catholic relationship with the OC is historically complex. The descendants of the Uniates were initially OC. The change was influenced by the ruling force at the time. There’s a view shedding a positive light on this occurrence and another noting the coersive, if not oppressive methods utilized in achieving in achieving the change.

  • Leos

    The Soviet clamp-down on the Greek Catholics was one of the contributing factors to the opposition the former were to face in western Ukraine (notably Galicia).

    The 1939 Nazi advance on Poland saw more fighting than the simultaneous Soviet move from the east. This was in part because that Nazi campaign involved a good deal more ethnic Poles. The Soviet advance was in territory with many non-Poles who weren’t so interested in fighting for Poland.

    The Galician Ukrainians experienced a heavy-handed approach from predominately Russian speaking Soviets. This played a role in influencing a counter-response. Beforehand, Galician Ukrainians like Bandera showed a willingness to pursue violence when under Polish rule.

    During the Russian Civil War, the Galician Ukrainians ended up preferring Denikin over Petliura. Previously, there was a noted pro-Russian period among Ukrainians/Rusyns living outside the Russian Empire. En route to Hungary around the mid-1800s, Russian forces were well received by Ukrainians/Rusyns under Hapsburg rule.

  • Kolya

    I have to say that I find meaningless much of this talk of whether this or that person is either pro-west or anti-west. I also admit that I even take a dimmer view on talks about the Russophobic or Russophilic credentials of individuals. I also tend to resist political typologies (if that’s the correct term) in which people are pigeon-holed into either this or that camp. Part of this is because most thoughtful individuals don’t view matters as pre-packaged deals (“if you believe X on issue A, then you believe Y on issue B.”) Thoughtful people view things issue per issue. Let me qualify this by stating that some categorization can be helpful when there is no time to be fine-grained about things, but in my experience labels such as used in this blog more often than not are overused and misleading.

    As to the word Russophobe, too many times it is used as an unjustifiable epithet that invites lazy thinking. It reminds of American right-wingers applying the “anti-American” label on Americans that do not share their right-wing views. This is simply a way of narrow-mindedly and lazily dismissing someone’s thoughts. There are plenty of people in the world that are indeed anti-American (including Americans.) They don’t hide it. But there is an element of bad faith and intellectual dishonesty when right-wingers apply such label on someone who does not consider himself an anti-American. The same with applying the Russophobe label on someone who does not consider himself or herself a Russophobe.

    This is insidious stuff. I’m not interested in wasting my time reading the racist rants of a white supremacist and neither I’m interested in reading the Russophobic vitriol of La Russophobe (as an aside, I would not link to her, just like I would not link to a KKK or a Nazi site.) It’s a totally different matter, however, to claim someone is a Russophobe because this person is highly critical of the Russian government and is weary of the geopolitical ambitions of, say, a Putin. (I’m certainly critical of the Russian government and I never trusted Putin. Does that make me a Russophobe? Of course not. I’m not. Otherwise I might as well be labeled an anti-American since I’m also very critical of the US government–especially during Bush–and strongly opposed the Iraq War.

    And yet I’ve seen thin-skinned people apply the Russophobe label in knee-jerk fashion to anyone who says something they deem as a slight to Russia. In that respect these people are not better than the likes of Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaug, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and other “patriotic” blowhards from the USA. For me, to call someone a Russophobe is just as besmirching as calling someone a racist or an anti-semite.

    Although Robert Amsterdam is all too predictable in his reactions (that was especially evident during the Russia-Georgia conflict), I think it is a travesty to call him a Russophobe. He’s not. Neither is Kasparov. I don’t like Kasparov, and I know that a lot of people find his politics laughable and irritating, but to call him a Russophobe trivializes the word. (It’s sort of like right-wingers calling Dennis Kucinich an anti-American.) Heck, if they were living today the great Russian writers Turgenev and Chekhov would have been labeled as Russophobes for several of the things they thought about Russia and Russian culture.

    • Scowspi

      Kolya sez:

      “I have to say that I find meaningless much of this talk of whether this or that person is either pro-west or anti-west. I also admit that I even take a dimmer view on talks about the Russophobic or Russophilic credentials of individuals.”

      I agree. However, in partial defense of AK, I note that he actually defined his terms, which is rare in this sort of debate. Thus, his terminology can be employed non-demagogically. His understanding of these terms is very different from mine, but at least he made himself clear, so there is something to engage with.

      To me, a Russophile is a person who enjoys analyzing the poetry of Blok, or visiting monasteries in the Far North, or investigating the charms of znamenny chant. Tying Russophilia (or -phobia) to a political program, figure, or attitude is a good way to make that concept meaningless, because once you’ve taken away the politics, what have you got left? Only the whole country and its culture.

      “Heck, if they were living today the great Russian writers Turgenev and Chekhov would have been labeled as Russophobes for several of the things they thought about Russia and Russian culture.”

      Not only them. Virtually every important Russian cultural figure from Pushkin onwards had some rather cutting things to say about the country, or at least the way it was ruled. And almost all of them got into trouble with the government at some point.

      To keep themselves pure, today’s “real Russians” should probably avoid any contact with classic Russian literature and culture. Now how “Russophilic” would that be?

      • Kolya

        “[AK’s] understanding of these terms is very different from mine, but at least he made himself clear, so there is something to engage with.”

        Yes, very fairly said, Scowspi.

        “To me, a Russophile is a person who enjoys analyzing the poetry of Blok, or visiting monasteries in the Far North, or investigating the charms of znamenny chant. Tying Russophilia (or -phobia) to a political program, figure, or attitude is a good way to make that concept meaningless, because once you’ve taken away the politics, what have you got left? Only the whole country and its culture.”

        I agree.

        By the way, your are totally right that Turgenev and Chekhov were not the only ones. I mentioned them simply because not that long ago I read some of their comments on Russia. They were Russian to the core but they were not “urah patrioty” types.

  • Kolya

    As to being either pro or anti west, I do not hesitate that of what we have in the world today, I definitely prefer the western (liberal democratic) way of things that any other of the existing alternatives. I’m not saying that it does not have flaws (it has plenty) or that in the future it will not be superseded by either something better or something worse. I’m simply saying that from my own personal view, I prefer liberal democracy (encompassing the gamut from the Scandinavian to the US systems) to anything else we have in today’s real world (by “today’s real world” I mean the world as it is now, and not some theoretical possibility.) Why? First, because in my experience “the West” offers more personal freedom to choose the lifestyle of my choice, and, second, because it offers more opportunities to start over from scratch (something I’ve done more than once in my 54 years.) Under the western model it is easier for a person to choose (if he or she wants to) the community they want to be part of: whether it’s Christian conservative lifestyle or anarcho-lefty communal living; whether it’s life in rural community, boring suburbia, or in a multicultural metropolis; whether is trying to climb the corporate ladder or live as a lone-wolf in a shack in the woods. I’m not saying that these choices are easy or that there are not possible except for in the west. All I’m saying is in the west it’s indeed easier to choose the lifestyle and community I prefer. This is not a a fancy rationale, but it’s enough for me.

    So, it is not the case that it’s impossible to make such choices in Russia, but that, let’s be frank, the average person in Russia would find it much harder to make them. Somewhat paradoxically, a result of this (at least in my own experience) is that in Russia the bohemian alternative lifestyle types tend to be much wilder than their American counterparts. Why? I guess because the self-selection process is much tougher. Somewhat amusingly, this reminds me of the few years I lived in Utah. Utah is a very conservative Mormon state, but some of the wildest people I’ve met were the non-Mormon non-conformist types who live there.

    • AK

      These are good observations, Kolya, and I agree with them. That said, the West is destructive of traditional belief, which many people find hard to let go off (or can’t let go off). Thus there arises a virulent reaction against the West, the extremism of which could not have happened without the West (examples could be Bolshevism, Nazism, and “Islamofascism” – psychologically tortured movements that try to combine elements of the West, e.g. its technics, with uncompromising resistance to other elements, such as its opposition to belief, its commercialism, etc).

      And yes, on an abstract level I agree that nations that are relatively successful at implementing the Idea of the West in their societies (like the US) are much more agreeable than those which don’t. I recognize this for all my critiques and pointing out of paradoxes around it. I doubt I’d survive long in a real totalitarian society, because of my problems with sustaining belief. Yet the guns of the firing squad will be my redemption.

      (Not kidding; returning to the past, Dostoevsky only became blessed with belief after his mock execution in 1849).

      Re-more extreme bohemian types in Russia. Another reason is that since they are more segregated from the rest of society than in the US, they are subject to their own “enclave extremism”.

  • To some extent I agree with Kolya, that Russophile and Russophobe are largely meaningless terms. What I find the greatest irony is that the ‘Russophobes’ tend to have astounding naivety about Boris Yeltsin. I’ve read numerous places in the British media that journalists have it on ‘good’ (if unsourced) authority that Yeltsin opposed the war in Chechnya, but was pushed into it by the Silovki.

    However, I would partially disagree with his views on what ‘Russophobia’ is and why it is alarming. I think deep down the Russophobes know that they’ve blown their chances of imposing neo-liberalism on Russia. Their support for the abysmal corruption and (yes) totalitarianism of Yeltsin undermined their own ideas and meant that anyone hoping to democratically offer these ideas to the Russians will get 2/3% of the popular vote. I find it especially laughable to watch Kasparov, who seems to want to tie the dead albatross of Yeltsinism around his neck, when in fact saying ‘we support ethical democratic capitalism unlike the United Russia party’ would probably be the best way to gaining popularity (though still a long shot). However, I do feel disturbed at how my country has changed with these politics of fear and all the assaults on liberty in Britain. A decade ago it would be unthinkable to imagine that we’d have CCTV everywhere and police officers swaggering around with H&Ks.

    I think Russophobes have morphed from cultural imperialists to a part of the Anglo-sphere media industry that is devoted to telling people that we are surrounded by wicked forces and we need protection, weapons, surveillance, blahblahblah.

    ‘Not only them. Virtually every important Russian cultural figure from Pushkin onwards had some rather cutting things to say about the country, or at least the way it was ruled. And almost all of them got into trouble with the government at some point.’

    Yes, incidentally, one of my favourite books, certainly my favourite ‘political’ novel is The Possessed by Dostoyevsky, which has a very Socratic dialectical approach to Slavo-phile politics (where agnostic, former revolutionary Shatov is the closest character to articulating the Great Russian viewpoint). And Dostoyevsky was pals with Konstantin Pobiedonotsev despite being sent to the pokey for revolutionary activities.

  • From a likely source with such views, this one harps on some classic cliche like observations, which overlook other pertinent variables:

    Craving to be a Great Power
    http://www.moscowtimes.ru/article/1016/42/379522.htm

  • A few thoughts:

    Re: “Russophobe” (and “Russophile”)

    1) A word we like to bandy about at European Tribune is “Rysskräck.” You may find it more palatable if you’re too civilized to stoop to using the term “Russophobia.”

    2) I’ve not ever personally considered “Russophobia” analogous to anti-Americanism, but it’s something to think about I suppose. I suppose if one means to say “anti-Russian” they should (Stephen Cohen uses the colourful phrase “Anti-Russia fatwa”).

    3) I believe the popularity of the phrase is attributed to someone who actually refers to themselves as such. If I ran a blog called “The anti-American” and others referred to the agenda promoted by my blog as “anti-American,” that could be understandable if not forgivable. OTOH, by doing so, we certainly run the risk of sinking to LR’s level of debate, which centers on ad-hominem attacks. All very bait and switch. One might even make the argument that AK’s very post is a small victory for LR. She’s set the terms and we’ve run with them.

    4) Might we differentiate between using the term “Russophobe” to dismiss/pigeonhole an individual (which is irresponsible and intellectually lazy) and using the term “Russophobic” to describe a certain agenda or worldview that is either couched in or promotes a fear of Russia? Because I think there is some validity to the latter. In my experience, this recent phenomenon in the West of identifying as “Russophobe” or “Russophobe” did not originate as a response to anyone who had anything negative to say about Russia, to anyone who who had anythng negative to say about the Putin Administration, or to anyone who “didn’t agree with us“. So far as I know, there was no us to disagree with. It was a response to the media onslaught of coverage of Russia which was very heavy on the fear-mongering and willy-nilly with actual facts or context. It’s -for me- not a question of disagreement. The other night I listened to Richard Lugar soberly lay out, point-by-point, Russia’s current political aims in the context of the recent summit, provided background and Russian justifications for said aims, and then said he respectfully disagreed with them. Fine. I disagree with his disagreement. C’est la vie. The same night Chrystia Freeland was making the argument that any American compromise with Russia would be akin to appeasing the Nazis. I’m incensed, not that she has the nerve to disagree with me, but that she’s, uhm, PRAYING ON THE FEARS OF AVERAGE PEOPLE TO PROMOTE A FINANCIAL AGENDA AVERAGE PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY PRETTY MAD ABOUT RIGHT NOW.

    Sorry about the screaming. But that brings me to my next thought:

    Re: “Western”

    Lost of people are thinking “Liberal Democracy” or “Reason” or “America Britain France” when they read “Western.” I am thinking, “Free-market imperialism” or “imposed materialism” or “Protestantism.” Not saying any are particularly right or wrong (all a bit of both, I suspect.) When I first saw Ames labeled less “Western” than Putin, I thought, “huh?” But then … I don’t know what Ames’s economic philosophy is beyond “they’re all greedy assholes.” But I suspect Putin’s a bit to too Capitalist for his taste.

    Re: James Bond

    I’m not a wrinkly Brit in a corset with a dismal line in puns, so what attraction could James Bond possibly have for me? Oh, poor Tolya, if you don’t know, I can’t tell you…

    • AK

      Re-Russophobia and “anti-America”. The major difference is that the US has absorbed unto itself the “Idea of the West” to a much, much greater degree than Russia; and given its internalized values of freedom of speech, etc, criticizing the US is nowhere near as anti-American as criticizing Russia is Russophobic (again, by the definitions outlined here).

      Re-LR. I disagree that she set the terms and we’ve run with them. My definition of terms is if not opposite, at least orthogonal to hers:

      The difference between a “russophobe” and a “russophile” is that while both “love” Russia, they define “love” differently: the “russophile” does everything he can to destroy the country, while the “russophobe” does everything he can to save it from destruction.

      Re-“Western”. Anglo-Saxon imperialism does not come under the Idea of the West; it comes under Anglo-Saxon indigenous traditions. It’s a major issue of confusion because of the semantic victory of the US and Britain in associating “the West”, “liberal democracy”, “rule of law”, etc, with their own countries, which sometimes (and necessarily) operate on baser, “traditional” principles.

      Mark Ames is cynical towards everything, whereas Putin is a classical Petrine reformer who seeks to draw Russia closer to the Idea of the West (e.g. his numerous comments about the necessity of rule of law, freedom, etc – although admittedly here the critics would note that these are less prevalent in action than in speech). As such I think he is more of a “Westerner” than Ames.

  • Due to a numerous amount of good and not as good material to go thru, it’s easy to overlook a number of sources. As is true with others, CF can fall in the latter category.

    She comments on a number of issues on American talking head TV pundit shows. Based on what I’ve read and heard from her, I get the impression that she might be in the Captive Nations Committee category.

    Awhile back, someone seemed to suggest that. I’ll try making it a point to more closely follow her former Communict bloc comments.

  • AK

    Re-some arguments that using these definitions major figures of Russia’s cultural and literary canon would be counted as Russophobes (e.g. Tolstoy), I will again let Spengler do the talking:

    The spirit of the upper classes was Western, and the lower had brought in with them the soul of the countryside. Between the two worlds there was no reciprocal comprehension, no communication, no charity.

    To understand the two spokesmen and victims of the pseudomorphosis, it is enough that Dostoievski is the peasant and Tolstoy them an of Western Society. Tolstoy is the former Russia, Dostoevsky the coming Russia. Rage as he might against Europe, Tolstoy could never shake it off. Hating it, he hates himself and so becomes the father of Bolshevism. This hatred Dostoevsky does not know. His passionate power of living is comprehensive enough to embrace all things Western as well – his soul is apocalyptic, yearning, desperate, but of this future certain.

    Tolstoy, on the contrary, is essentially a great understanding, “enlightened” and “socially minded.” Al that he sees about him takes the Late-period, megalopolitan and Western form of a problem. Tolstoy’s hatred of property is an economist’s, his hatred of society a social reformer’s, his hatred of the State a political theorist’s. Hence his immense effect upon the West – he belongs, in one respect as in another, to the school of Marx, Ibsen, and Zola.

    Dostoevsky, on the contrary, belongs to no school, unless it be that of the Apostles of primitive Christianity. Such a soul as his can look beyond everything that we call social, for the things of this world seem to it so unimportant as not to be worth improving. What has agony of a soul to do with Communism? A religion that has got as far as taking social problems in hand has ceased to be a religion.

    Here we have beginning and end chasing together.

    What gave this revolution its momentum was not the intelligentsia’s hatred. It was the people itself, which, without hatred, urged only by the need of throwing off a disease, destroyed the old Westernism in one effort of upheaval, and will send the new after it in another. For what this town-less people yearns for is its own life-form, its own religion, its own history.

    For obvious reasons, the Russian state too has at various times been strongly divorced from the Russian people, especially during its Petrine periods.

  • Kolya

    AK, I see how according to your definition of Russophobia someone like Tolstoy would be classified a Russophobe (along with Turgenev, Chekhov, Leskov, Nekrasov and many others.) For me, though, if we can use the same word to describe La Russophobe and Tolstoy and Turgenev, then this word (Russophobe) becomes much too meaningless.

    For that matter, Mark Twain, the quintessential American writer, was an Amerophobe (or anti-American.) And the same with a great number of other American cultural icons.

    • AK

      1. Russophobia and Russophilia are not absolutes, but rather lie along a spectrum.

      2. Tolstoy is by these terms significantly more Russophobic than someone like Dostoevsky, but this is not to say he lies anywhere near LR which is completely unable and unwilling to look at Russia under its own terms.

      3. The thing with cultural and literary icons is that though they are dissenters and heretics in life, they sometimes become saints in death and are subsumed within indigenous traditions, becoming one with them and metamorphosing the whole culture.

      Take Lenin and Solzhenitsyn, for instance. One a Bolshevik internationalist who despised traditional Russia; another a (heretical) ray of light in a kingdom of darkness who loved it too much. Yet both have entered into Russia’s pantheon of eternal greatness.

  • Scowspi

    Well there is also the artistic temperament to bear in mind. As H.L. Mencken wrote: “It is almost as safe to assume that an artist of any dignity is against his country…as it is to assume that his country is against the artist…it is almost impossible to find any trace of an artist who was not actively hostile to his environment, and thus an indifferent patriot. From Dante to Tolstoy and from Shakespeare to Mark Twain the story is ever the same.” Notice how he got both Tolstoy and Twain into the same sentence.

    But what makes the “phile/-phobe” terminology nonsensical in relation to such figures is not just the fact that many of them were among the most creative, influential, and indeed iconic individuals of their countries, but also the fact that so much of their criticism and irritation resulted from reformist impulses. To quote Karl Kraus: “I hear noises which others don’t hear, and which disturb for me the Music of the Spheres, which others don’t hear either.”

    • AK

      Excellent quote!

  • No surprise that AK quotes Spengler, who was outed after several years of psuedonymous writing, including nominating Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin for President of the United States after the Russia-Georgia War. Talk about a slap at the D.C. establishment…

    • AK

      I’m quoting the original Spengler.

      Though I quite like the usurper too, he does not compare in any way with the old master.

  • Scowspi

    “No surprise that AK quotes Spengler, who was outed after several years of psuedonymous writing”

    I thought AK was quoting Oswald Spengler, not the Asia Times columnist (David Goldman) who writes under the pseudonym “Spengler.”

    At least, it looks like Oswald to me…

  • ‘I doubt I’d survive long in a real totalitarian society, because of my problems with sustaining belief. Yet the guns of the firing squad will be my redemption.’

    You could always be like Foucault, the French left-wing homosexual atheist philosopher who went to Iran to praise the Ayatollah. Then got the first flight back to decadent liberal Paris.

    Incidentally, I wondered if you’ve read Nabokov’s biography of Gogol? It is my favourite of Nabokov’s books and I think he makes some interesting observations on Russian culture.

    I especially liked his concept of ‘Poshlust’. I suspect that this is a bilingual pun, or malapropism rather than a real word, but it is something I feel very strongly. Oddly, the Brits have adopted it, but seem to misunderstand what it means and apply it to vulgarity. Nabokov emphasised that it didn’t mean openly vulgar kitsch, which Russians don’t mind. It is rather the falsely important which true Russians dislike (he used the example of Goethe’s Faust). I’d say this recent article from one of Britain’s leading thinkers fits the bill perfectly:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/17/martin-amis-iran

    It seems to me that in the dissident stakes that Solzhenitsyn was welcomed by Russia (comparatively speaking) because he helped perpetuate the Putinist kitsch, whilst Vladimir Bukovksy went for poshlust: the falsely moral concept of freedom through the free market and the Anglosphere.

    Actually it’s probably a load of bulls**t, but bulls**t with a philosophical point.

    • Kolya

      For what is worth, “poshlost” is a Russian word. Sorry to disappoint, but it has nothing to do with the English “posh” and “lust”. Here is the link for a good LanguageHat post on poshlost’: http://www.languagehat.com/archives/002981.php

      Perhaps it’s lack of literary appreciation on my part, but my two favorite Nabokov books are among his most obscure ones: Podvig and Pnin. When he translated Podvig into the English language Nabokov decided to title it “Glory (somewhere I read his explanation, but I still think that “Glory” is a poor choice.) Podvig was written in Russian sometime in the 1920s and Pnin was written in English in the 1950s. Two very very different works, but I liked them both.

      • Kolya

        “Podvig was written in Russian sometime in the 1920s”

        I just read it was published in 1932, a bit later than I thought….

  • Kolya

    AK, thanks for your explanatory comments. Took me a while, but it’s much clearer for me now to see where you are coming from. For you the “Russophobe” is almost like a neutral term that does not necessarily carry a negative emotional load. A mere taxonomic classification, if you will (hey, years ago I used to be a field biologist). In other words, according to your usage, “Russophobe” is not the equivalent of words such as “anti-semite” or “racist.” Am I interpreting you correctly? If so, then when I read your stuff I should simply make a mental readjustment when I see that term. I would have preferred another word, becauses under different contexts “Russophobe” has a distinctly negative meaning and it’s often used as an epithet or a put-down, but so be it.

    Scowspi, great point on the artistic temperament. And thank you for the excellent Mencken quote. Mencken and Twain are probably the two most quotable Americans.

    Back to AK. You wrote:

    “The major difference is that the US has absorbed unto itself the “Idea of the West” to a much, much greater degree than Russia; and given its internalized values of freedom of speech, etc, criticizing the US is nowhere near as anti-American as criticizing Russia is Russophobic (again, by the definitions outlined here).”

    I see what you are saying, but then this means that according to your use of the terms, to criticize the US is not anti-American, but to criticize Russia is Russophobic. Isnt’ there something very out whack here?

    “These are good observations, Kolya, and I agree with them. That said, the West is destructive of traditional belief, which many people find hard to let go off (or can’t let go off). Thus there arises a virulent reaction against the West, the extremism of which could not have happened without the West”

    Yes, I agree.

    “Re-more extreme bohemian types in Russia. Another reason is that since they are more segregated from the rest of society than in the US, they are subject to their own “enclave extremism”.”

    That’s probably true. I don’t remembering reading anything about it, but it’s something that I’ve noticed with my own eyes. It’s as if once a small group decides that they don’t share (and are not interested in sharing) the values and conventions of the society in which they live, it often behaves in ways that accentuate those differences even more.

    • AK

      Re-Russophobes. Exactly – it’s taxonomic. Though a caveat: those at the extreme end of the Russophobe spectrum tend to be loud-mouthed bigots (much like anti-Semites at the far end veer from criticizing Israel into rants about the Zionist Occupation Government and Holocaust denial), so it’s hard to remain fully neutral towards them.

      I see what you are saying, but then this means that according to your use of the terms, to criticize the US is not anti-American, but to criticize Russia is Russophobic. Isnt’ there something very out whack here?

      1. Opposing debate is heavily integrated into Anglo-Saxon cultural traditions (the stump speeches, the culture wars, the legal system that is based on adversarial positions). This is not the case for Russian culture, which has more of an emphasis on paternalism, consultative consensus, an inquisitorial legal system, etc (in this it is actually similar to the majority of the world’s civilizations – the Anglo-Saxon deliberative tradition is the exception, not the rule).

      2. Another major thing that separates criticism of Russia, and criticism of the US. When Americans criticize the US, they usually do it from an American framework – “I love the US, but please fix Gitmo / the prison system / the corruption / etc”. It should be noted that even despite US geopolitical strength, those who were against the Iraq War in 2003 were frequently portrayed as unpatriotic / traitors / etc by the right-wing media, which was propped by Bush’s rhetoric (“you’re either with us or against us”, etc). This is despite the fact that on objective terms Iraq by 2003 was far too weak to pose any real danger even to its neighbors, let alone the US.

      Neither of these things is the case for Russia. Its bravado and at times aggressive posturing reveals a perception of their own weakness on the part of its leadership and society, especially vis-a-vis the US which is commonly perceived to be encroaching on / encircling Russia. And all too frequently Russian liberals shoot themselves in the foot by associating their criticism of Russia with unconditional support for the US.

      See Anatol Lieven’s – not exactly a raving “urrah! Rossiya”-person – excellent article Russia’s Limousine Liberals:

      The other is the intellectual sleight of hand by which Shevtsova, Gudkov and the others suggest—without arguing or substantiating the suggestion—that the desire of ordinary Russians for greater democracy and the rule of law equates both with hostility to the present Russian administration tout court, and to acquiescence in U.S. foreign-policy goals in Georgia and elsewhere. According to every opinion poll I have seen, it is entirely true that most Russians would like to see more of certain elements of democracy in Russia, including, as the authors mention, the rule of law and a freer media….What is also absolutely certain according to the same polls is that whatever their feelings about Russian domestic policies, the overwhelming majority of Russians support the basic foreign-policy line of the present Russian administration and oppose that of the United States vis a vis Russia. This is not to say that every American policy decision has been wrongheaded and Russia remains justified in all of its positions, but rather that people who blindly back a U.S. democracy-promotion line are doing an injustice to the very liberalization they seek.

      Do these Russian authors really think that U.S. interests and values are served by giving lectures on democracy that only infuriate ordinary Russians? By making further commitments to a regime such as that of Mikhail Saakashvili in Georgia? By pressing upon Ukraine a NATO membership which most Ukrainians oppose? The truth of the matter is that like Ahmed Chalabi and other “democracy promoters” who have sought U.S. aid, these writers care neither for American nor for Russian interests, but only to enlist U.S. help in trying to bring themselves and the groups they represent to power and influence in their countries—and do not even know enough about their countries to see that appealing for U.S. help in this way only reduces whatever popularity they still have.

      As a result the Russian liberals come to be seen as elitist, out-of-touch, foreign offshore aristocrats interesting only in clawing back the power they progressively lost after 1998.

      Increasingly rejected by their own society, many retreat further into the “enclave extremism” we discussed – they become more pro-US, more anti-Putin, more loud and Bolshevik-like in their rhetoric – and more ignored.

  • A “Russophile” (for apparent lack of a better term) versus non-Russophile (not necessarily “Russophobic,” but with a good probability of having neocon to neolib leanings) example of criticizing Russia concern the matter of why it’s arguably not in Russia’s best interests to have recognized S. Ossetia’s and Abkhazia’s independence (at least at this time):

    http://theivanovosti.typepad.com/the_ivanov_report/2009/06/medvedevs-foreign-policy-style.html?cid=6a00d834524a2e69e20115702320ac970c#comment-6a00d834524a2e69e20115702320ac970c

    A “Russophobe” (for categorization sake) and non-Russophile/non-Russophobe, with neocon to neolib leanings will likely stress that such diplomacy encourages separatism in Russia.

    On the other hand, the “Russophile” will more likely note that no one is seeking (as of now) to leave Russia, with others outside Russia looking to join it. The “Russophile” critic in this instance will list other reasons (like the ones at the above link) on why it’s arguably not in Russia’s best interests to have recognized Abkhaz and South Ossetian independence.

    On the matter of disputed former Communist bloc territories, the “Russophobe” as well as the non-Russophile/non-Russophobe, with neocon to neolib leaning views are more prone to not being particularly sympathetic to Serbia, when compared to “Russophiles” (at least a good number of the latter). The former grouping aren’t as likely to stress the connection on how the independence of Kosovo serves to encourage Scottish nationalists. Instead, having a slant to the idea of non-Russians opposing Russia (by seeking to find if not create such differences).

    So there’s no misunderstanding, constructive criticism of Russia seeks to improve that country in a way which doesn’t include animosity towards Russia and Russians, while also not playing up to the Russia unfriendly crowd, or being in that grouping.

    Before someone gained his top level foreign policy position, he/she would periodically stress how his/her country has been a victim of Russia. In this instance, the apparent meaning behind this approach is to create an image, that attempts to curry favor with his/her suspect view of Russia. Never mind that his/her country has its own imperial past, which a number of some others besides historically conscious and patriotic Russians aren’t so fond of.

  • Kolya

    Hi AK. I will just address one thing here. You write:

    “Re-Russophobes. Exactly – it’s taxonomic. Though a caveat: those at the extreme end of the Russophobe spectrum tend to be loud-mouthed bigots (much like anti-Semites at the far end veer from criticizing Israel into rants about the Zionist Occupation Government and Holocaust denial), so it’s hard to remain fully neutral towards them.”

    Your mention of anti-semitism is precisely why I’m unhappy with the way you use Russophobia. My concern is that it’s too easy to conflate “taxonomic” Russophobia (which does not necessarily mean ill-will and intense dislike toward Russia) with “real” Russophobia (which, in my view, does indeed mean ill-will, dislike and even hatred toward Russia.) (And by the way, by Russia I usually don’t mean the Russian government, just like when I say the US or America I usually don’t mean the American government.)

    I’m saying this because I was struck by your anti-semitism remark. For me anti-semitism means intense dislike against Jews– whether they are Israelis, Americans, French, or whatever. To be highly critical of Israel’s policies with respect to the Palestinians or the West Bank is NOT in itself anti-semitic. Otherwise a good number of Jews, including a significant percentage of Sabras, are anti-semites.

    In other words, I don’t find the continuum image helpful here. One thing is to be an anti-semite (a prejudice against Jews) and another thing is to to be critical of Israel. There are two different categories, not part of the same continuum. Sometimes both categories are present in the same person, but by no means always. The same with respect to Russophobia (at least the way I define it): Russophobes are prejudiced against Russians, they don’t like Russians. But you may well love Russia and be highly critical of her. Such a person, in my view, is not only not a Russophobe, he’s not even in the Russophobic continuum.

    Okay, I think that’s about it. I will take your definition into account when I read your stuff. Just keep in mind that for me this word connotes something else and that I’m concerned about conflating criticism with prejudice.

  • Kolya

    Below is a quote I copied down years ago. The author is an American. I was impressed by those simple words. It seems, AK (and please correct me if I’m wrong), that according to your Russophobe/philia spectrum the sentiments expressed in the quote would be problematic for a Russian Russophile:

    “I could not permit myself to feel
    pride about the accomplishments of
    my people and my country if I did
    not require myself to feel shame
    about the perfidies of my people
    and my country. If those perfidies
    were not the work of my own hands,
    neither were those accomplishments.”

    If you are interested I can mention the name of the person (but I’m sure it would be easy to find.)

    • AK

      An honorable sentiment, Kolya, but in pre-liberal societies treasonous sentiments. (For instance, much of Europe before WW1).

      A consequence is that expressing such sentiments was far more “your country”-phobic a hundred years ago, than it is today when such thoughts are considered a norm amongst most Europeans and half of Americans (the Democratic wing).

      • Kolya

        Regarding the quote I posted above:

        Not everybody has a strong sense of either family or country identification, but for illustrative purposes it’s helpful to substitute the word “country” with “family” and “my people” with “my loved ones.”

        It works for me. I love my family regardless of what. I love my daughter regardless of what. And she will still love me even if I become a petty-thief alcoholic. She’ll feel shame and would want to reform me, and it would certainly be wrong for me to feel that she’s betraying me if she’s expressing disappointment and criticism of my actions. Well, the same with country.

  • Scowspi

    Re: Kolya’s objections, or defining a “phobia”:

    Just to call attention to a particularly sloppy use of the term – in Britain, people who dislike the EU and want to minimize its influence on the UK are called “Europhobes.” But all this means is that they don’t like a certain type of bureaucratic structure; it doesn’t mean that they hate European countries or people (though some of them do, I’m pretty sure).

    Just another example of the importance of defining your terms.

  • @Skowspi
    I’d broadly agree that ‘phobia/phobe’ is a counterproductive term that is used for euphony rather than etymology. The other Hellenism ‘phile’ is rather more complex, and the Leivin quote sums up why. I am a cultural Russophile. Yet politically my view is ‘good luck to the human rights campaigners, sincere democrats and principled critics of the Kremlin and may God bless you. Encircling Russia with NATO and trying to externally humiliate the symbols of Russian pride is the worst thing that we could do both for freedom in our own country and freedom in yours; may we both manage to live with less state interference in the future’.

    @Kolya
    Thanks for filling me in on poshlost. Strangely, I prefer Nabokov’s literary criticism. Whilst he parodied any comparison between himself and Borges, I think Borges was wiser to use his strong opinions on literature to narrate metafictions and short stories. I shared Nabokov’s dislike of much that is false in art and politics, yet I also think that his views of what made great literature were themselves kitsch. Whilst he had an academic theory as to why his books were better than Dostoyevsky’s people will continue to be thrilled by Brothers Karamazov/ The Possessed when people will be dozing off over King, Queen, Knave.

  • Gentlemen, for the record, what I, Stanislav Mishin stand for: in a short summery: God and the Orthodox Faith, Motherland, Monarchy. On the issue of economics, yes, I admire Pat Buchanin quite a bit. His paleoconservative (as I believe Americans classify it) views, are very precise. I am an unabashed mercantilist.

    Yes, one of my several degrees was in economics and yes, I at one point did believe in the Western rubbish of Free Trade. However, in my various travels in the military and then for business, I got to see the effects of enforced Free Trade, as well as seeing what it did to Russia in the 90s. As such I, slowly at first, then quickly in my late 20s, became a protectionist. I very much believe first and foremost in open internal markets, with government oversight and key investment for strategic sectors and the banning of monopolies. Free Trade has been as bad a Western import as Serfdom (in Russia from early 1600s to 1861, far shorter than in most Europe) and Marxism.

    To say that I am an extremist, even a Slavophile, is far off. For example: I do not like the West, first and foremost, because in one way or another, they are an enemy to us and have been about enslaving, disenfranchising and destroying Russia, our faith, culture and even our very race, for 900 years. However, I also do not believe that 1. the “West” is an actual homogenous unit, which is why I specify the Anglo-Sphere, so often and 2. that we can not learn or pickup key points.

    In the “West”, we have much common ground with the Germans, Italians, and others, such as, possibly the Scots and Irish. Even in America, regional elements and possible future free nations such as the Texas, Confederacy and Alaska.

    Culturally too, there are few things we can pickup. The Rule of Law is often sited, but I disagree. Our biggest problem with the Rule of Law, going back to the Peter Veliki, is that we have attempted to run the government on a cheap. Thus we have never paid our civil servants a true living wage, expecting them to always make up the lack of money in some other way, which through corruption, they have never failed to do. What I do admire is the fact that Americans in particular, are always (or at least were, though they too seem to have changed) willing to change their position. We as a people are a bit to patient, especially with fools. One’s life can always be improved, even if in small, incremental ways. The lack of this is why so many of our villages look like hell, third world hell. As much as I despise the Soviet import from the West and what it did to us, I can not blame this on Marxism.

    On politics, I am a monarchist, a constitutional monarchist with the monarch filling the executive for life roll and a freely elected parliament. Do not mistake this with loyalty to the Romanovs. The present crop has no more claim to the crown than my own boyar family roots, less so since they prefer to sit in France, Britian and America and make occasional visits. A Zemsky Sobor is needed to pick a candidate, regardless of his birth. Let our Faith in the Holy Father guide our choice as a united land. If the people pick Putin, so be it as well. I will honour that choice. The Throne holds a power all its own and a set of constraints all its own.

  • Stas!

    Given some of the sources getting the nod at the more high profile of venues, I’m extra glad that someone like yourself is out there to serve as an offset – that includes your noting some valid views which have been downplayed.

    For your listening pleasure:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_4_RHSxgdY&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIkDJKnBmLM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hg1wsO7GkPc&feature=related

    For the PC crowd, I’m well aware of the criticim against Stas. I’m also aware of some of the hypocrisy out there when it comes to the matter of sensitivity. As is true with Stas, I’ve yet to find someone who I agree 100% with. Does such a group exist?

  • This is really interesting. I really like the image map you’ve created. Now I’m trying to categorize my own views of Russia to see where I fit in and I’m not entirely sure…

    • AK

      I think you’re a “Western Russophile” like Eugene Ivanov or the folks at Russia Blog, Natalie.

  • More blogs ( mainly in French ) :
    – Mine
    http://alexandrelatsa.blogspot.com/
    – Voices from Russia
    – Strategic culture foundation
    – Euro-Rus

    Good Work

    Daniel BESSON

  • Pingback: Official Russia | Interview: Anatoly Karlin – Sublime Oblivion()

  • Pingback: Interview: Anatoly Karlin – Sublime Oblivion()