Sunday, 5 July 2009
When Putin Reacts
What type of political ideology privatises land, nationalises petroleum, introduces a flat tax, uses soldiers to verify tax accounts, enforces protectionism, celebrates diversity, celebrates patriotism, celebrates science, introduces state protection for the National Church, supports the NATO war in Afghanistan, opposes the war in Iraq, is strongly democratic but largely authoritarian, takes power from an atheist, alcoholic Communist apparatchik and leaves it in the hands of a devout, prissy lawyer? For want of a better word we could call it ‘reactionary’… or maybe Putinism?
This somehow highlights one of the oddest paradoxes about British Russophobia. Putin is only called a 'reactionary' because British ‘intellectual’ culture has frozen to such an extent that we have no real word for his ideology.
Ironically, the Anglosphere where Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher are regarded as heroes is frozen in its political views.
As the World Bank and IMF are used as weapons to heighten the infant mortality rate of struggling countries and drain their resources, the state employs increasing numbers of people in Britain and the USA. As a government employee and British citizen, I support a form of intelligently planned Social Democracy in Britain (other nations can vote for their economy of choice). However, whilst most British journalists and politicians would break into a cold sweat at the idea of renationalising the railways, an army of bureaucrats run the passport agency and are employed in other unproductive roles.
This could be seen as an indictment of the free market: that it has not created universal employment and the state has to take over by creating 'follies' for people to work on. Yet religious belief in Thatcherism and Reaganism goes marching on.
It seems to me that as with so much else, this goes to demonstrate why Russophobia is so big in Britain. The Russians have moved ahead in ideological and political terms, have a class of politicians that are popular, patriotic and act in the national interest. Britain by contrast is stuck in 1979.
There is a lot of hated towards Russia. It is comical that Christopher Hitchens is called in to shower hatred on 'reactionary' Putin. Hitchens supported Lenin who destroyed the Silver Age of Russian culture. Now that Putin is undoing his handiwork, Hitchens is acting all indignant*.
Yet, ridiculously, Hitchens' feelings (I won't say thoughts) actually count for something. According to Prospect Magazine he is Britain's leading Public Intellectual.
Whilst there are many valid criticisms of Putin, especially his handling of the Chechen war, 'reactionary' is not one criticism that can be made against him. Yet all the negative epithets Stalinist/ Fascist/ Tsarist/ Imperialist are used against him. British intellectual culture is like a stage with papier mache pillars. They want to dress themselves up as Churchill or Pericles and their enemies up as Hitler/ Stalin/ Chamberlain. Words like 'dissident' and 'emigre' are applied to known criminals and scumbags. Perhaps this is a conscious conspiracy; or else it is an effort to distort facts to create familiarity.
Or to deny that the world has changed and that Britain has been left behind in the changing world, where 'reactionaries' are advocates of change.