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In Syria we are told Putin is winning. It depends what you mean. The idea that responsibility for the reconstruction of a country destined to be dominated by terrorism and religious-based conflict for generations to come rests with Russia, whose GNP is about the size of Italy’s, and 20 per cent of whose population is below the poverty line, is a curious concept of victory. To say nothing of the vileness of the regime Russia will find itself supporting. His short-termism poses dangers for us as well as Russia herself. A combination of power projection abroad and economic stagnation at home can only increase his domestic problems. The point may come when he becomes like the man described by Nietzsche who thinks he’s leading the crowd, but when he looks round discovers they’re chasing him.

The temptation will be to maintain popularity by risky moves abroad, while dramatising Western reactions as threats to the motherland. For the West, it is as if Russian foreign policy were being run by the Russian intelligence service — something that did not happen in the Soviet Union, when the Politburo was in charge. The vulgar, shock-jock style of the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova makes her a Putin favourite, but she would have horrified Gromyko.

Reaction to the Putin phenomenon in some American and European circles has been disconcerting. A troubling number of politicians or commentators who would have been seen as anti-communists in the past speak fondly of a man who in many ways is harking back to that past. To see Western figures oozing admiration, whether Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, or Republicans in the USA, is remarkable. The fact is that today’s Russia is edging close to the fascistic spectrum.

A harsh word, yet it is hard to think of another. In Russia we have ultra-nationalism, oligarchic corporatism, militarism, a leadership cult, militant youth movements, thuggish treatment of opponents, state-sponsored murder, homophobia, religious mysticism — together with a revanchist mindset over the country’s Cold War defeat. Anti-semitism is also there, though not as official policy or in the Kremlin.

When we speak of the Cold War we tend to think of the Soviet Union rather than China, yet the global impact of unleashing the energies and intelligence of more than a billion Chinese has been far greater than that of 140 million Russians. Some saw it coming. As early as 1927 Oswald Spengler, in Man and Technics, wrote:

And so presently the natives saw into our secrets and understood them, and used them to the full. The innumerable hands of the coloured races — at least as clever, and far less exigent — will shatter the economic organisation of the whites to its foundations.

Once the Chinese had sloughed off the Maoist incubus, nowhere has the truth of his words been more striking than in their country. As the Russians — who import not just most of their consumer goods from China but high-tech items too — will have noticed.
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Julian Pardoe
May 1st, 2018
9:05 AM
This is really a question for GW. Is there a reference for the story about "Russian children maturing quickly"? I put it to an acquaintance who studies the history of the PCF and he was doubtful. It would be of interest to us both to have a date or some other way of verifying it.

Peter Kolding
April 1st, 2018
3:04 AM
The author warns against any nationalist tendencies in Western policy to counter the threat of Russia and China. Yet he ignores entirely that the strength of both these countries has always depended upon the unifying strength of nationalism. The Russians have always fought for Russia first, the Chinese have always been Chinese, the inheritors of the Middle Kingdom. The West, on the other hand, has dedicated itself to 'post-nationalism' and looks upon national loyalty in consumerist terms. (Look at Brexit, with all the rage centred not on the peace and tranquillity that democracy is supposed to promise, but economic advantage instead.) In short, the East is supported by a fundamental loyalty from its people. While the West, a mercenary contract. This is important because the East has retained its populations' loyalty even after suffering millions of deaths at its own governments' hands. The West, on the other hand, cannot even control its borders without being condemned and subverted by much of its own population, without the least concern for the interests of their countries. Worse, in response, their governments take the path of appeasement and slowly, but surely, lose territorial control. It is this loss of territorial control in the West, caused by the policies demanded by post-nationalist ambitions, that have provoked the imperialist designs of Russia and China into action. The argument of the author that it's the personalities of Putin and Xi that propels their actions, but it is the territorial weakness of the West that has allowed this. The West, and especially Europe, has built a society that for all intents and purposes is made up and designed for the exercise of power by an assortment of fifth-columnists-in-waiting. The signal for treachery is simply a refusal by the government to devolve territorial authority to them. Currently, these politically powerful identity groups are happy to allow a limited power of arbitration to the government. But with the example of Corbyn, we see them exercising a far more direct demand for mercenary power. It may be an archaic observation to the post-nationalist mind, but God is always on the side of the big battalions. And the West is determined to be ruled by small tribes and gangs.

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