As column in Moscow’s prime progressive newspaper labels West ‘New moral Reich,’ are Russian liberals turning away from EU & US?


By Paul Robinson, a professor on the University of Ottawa. He writes about Russian and Soviet historical past, navy historical past, and navy ethics, and is writer of the Irrussianality weblog.

When a high-profile Russian theatre director is utilizing the home journal of the nation’s liberal class to explain right now’s Western Europe as a “new ethical Reich,” there may be clearly a problem rising to the standard dogma.

“The Russian liberal is a thoughtless fly buzzing in the ray of the sun; that sun is the sun of the West.” So mentioned the nineteenth century Russian thinker Pyotr Chaadayev. If the essential place of the Russian conservative is that Russia is completely different from the West and may observe its personal distinct path of growth, that of the Russian liberal is that the identical rules of historic growth apply to all nations, and that extra backward international locations, equivalent to Russia, of their view, are subsequently certain to observe the identical path as extra superior ones – i.e. the West.

It’s a brief step from this to a perception that the West is sweet and Russia is unhealthy. An instance of this form of considering appeared final month within the on-line newspaper within the type of an article by Dmitry Gubin, a Russian journalist living in Germany who has an everyday present on the liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy.

Gubin wrote:

“I’m not a patriot. I don’t love Russia. … I don’t love the Russian people, and I don’t consider it great. For the simple reason that there is no Russian people, at least not in the way that the people exists in the West. … If the main instrument of survival for Western peoples is fighting for their rights, then for the Russian people it is conformism, opportunism and double-think. … The greatest achievements of Russian culture happened only when it was open to the West and learnt from the West.”

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Gubin’s place is a bit excessive, however not untypical. For the Russian liberal, the West is all the things that Russia ought to be, however sadly just isn’t. All of which makes a brand new manifesto revealed within the liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta all of the extra explosive.

Written by theatre director Konstantin Bogomolov (also called the husband of socialite and one-time presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak), the manifesto, entitled“The Rape of Europa 2.0,” makes use of fairly inflammatory, certainly offensive, language to lambast the trendy West as a mannequin that Russia ought to discard in favour of a “new right-wing ideology.” 

Bogomolov nods briefly within the course of his liberal pals in Russia’s “creative classes.” He expresses a love of the Europe that he and others longed to hitch within the 1990s. He expresses his hatred of “the spirit of violence and atmosphere of fear” in Russia. And he says that folks like Gubin are partially proper in denouncing the “prison guards and slaves” who make up the Russian individuals. But he then heads off in a completely completely different course. Using language that will see him expelled from well mannered society in a lot of the West, Bogomolov writes:

“The contemporary Western world has turned into a New ethical Reich with its ideology of ‘the new ethics.’ … We face ethical socialism, queer socialism. Siemens, Boss and Volkswagen have turned into Google, Apple and Facebook, and the Nazis have given way to an equally aggressive mix of queer activists, fem-fanatics, and eco-psychopaths, who have an equal desire to totally transform society.”

Bogomolov asserts that the Nazis managed what individuals mentioned however fashionable Western totalitarians additionally wish to management how individuals really feel.

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Transgression results in the lack of one’s job, and even worse, with social media corporations appearing as the brand new “Ministry of Truth” to implement compliance. Sounding remarkably just like the reactionaries of Russia’s conservative Izborsky Club, or far-right thinkers equivalent to Alexander Dugin, Bogomolov continues (referring to the character Schwonder in Bulgakov’s novel Heart of a Dog):

“I loathe the spirit of violence and the atmosphere of fear [in Russia]. But that doesn’t mean that I accept the transformation of the country of prison guards and slaves into a country where … multicoloured (including white) Schwonders from BLM enter houses and demand that the professors kneel down, share their living space and give money to help the starving Floyds.”

The ultra-conservative Dugin as soon as mentioned, “I love the West. … Until a certain moment when this liberal, globalist ideology triumphed, the West was a jewel. … I consider that contemporary Europe is anti-Europe. I simply cannot accept the West in its current condition.”

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The notionally liberal Bogomolov agrees. “In the 1990s Russia strove to be part of Europe … to return to European values, the values of the beautiful pre-war Europe,” he says. But that Europe has gone, he laments. Denouncing the historic determinism that claims that Russia should observe Europe’s path, Bogomolov writes: “Russian intellectuals tell us: Russia is in the tail end of progress. No. Thanks to a confluence of circumstances we have ended up in the tail end of a mad train, steaming to a Hieronymus Bosch-style hell where we will be met by multicultural gender-neutral devils. We simply have to unhitch the wagon, cross ourselves and start building a new world. To rebuild our old dear Europe, the Europe we dreamed of, the Europe we have lost.”

While Novaya Gazeta didn’t endorse Bogomolov’s manifesto, the truth that the newspaper thought of it acceptable to publish the article tells us one thing that folks within the West maybe don’t perceive: On event, Russian liberalism could be very intolerant.

In the eyes of Russian liberals, neither Bogomolov or Sobchak are solely “handshakeable”, because the expression goes. For all their notional dislike of the hated Russian state, they’re seen as far too able to compromise with the authorities (Bogomolov, as an example, joined anti-government protests within the early 2010s, however later supported Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin throughout the 2018 mayoral elections).

Still, they’re a part of the household of the liberal intelligentsia, a indisputable fact that makes Bogomolov’s piece all of the extra surprising. If it had come from Dugin, it may have been shrugged off as reactionary nonsense. But coming from a extremely adorned theatre director, and being revealed within the flagship of the liberal press, Novaya Gazeta, it’s like an enormous sharp knife at the back of Russian liberalism.

Bogomolov’s timing can also be important. The protests that adopted the arrest of Aleksei Navalny final month had been supposed to supply a possibility for Russians to come back collectively to battle the state. But fairly the alternative has occurred. First, the founding father of the liberal Yabloko occasion, Grigory Yavlinsky, denounced Navalny for his supposed authoritarian tendencies. And now Bogomolov has come out and challenged Russian liberals’ most elementary perception – the prevalence, and inevitability, of the Western mannequin.

Another nineteenth century Russian thinker Stepan Shevyryov remarked that, “in our frank, friendly, and close relations with the West we have failed to notice that it is like a man who carries within himself a dreadful contagious disease … We kiss him, embrace him … and allow the delights of the banquet to mask the odor of decay which he emanates.” For 2 hundred years, this has been the mantra of Russian conservatives. It could be far too early to say that Russian liberals have fallen out of affection with the West, however when Novaya Gazeta now begins speaking in the identical means, one thing unusual is certainly happening.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed on this column are solely these of the writer and don’t essentially symbolize these of RT.