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Russia Profile: Can “Conservatism” Breed Modernization?

Srdja Trivkovic

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Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, Director, Center for International Affairs, the Rockford Institute, Rockford, IL:

It may be debatable whether, and to what extent, United Russia is guided by the principle of “preserving and augmenting,” inspired by “the constant creative renewal of society without stagnation or revolution,” and reliant on “spiritual traditions, our great history, Russian culture, etc.” It is clear, however, that the principles themselves are conditio sine qua non of Russia’s very survival, as it faces deep hostility from the postmodern, post-national West, and from a dozen pre-modernly Russophobic Western clients, from Tallinn in the north to Tbilisi in the south. The identity-saving function of those principles is far more important for Russia’s future than their ability to foster economic reform.

For almost two decades, Russia has been trying to rearticulate its goals and define its policies in terms of traditional national interests. The old Soviet dual-track policy of having “normal” relations with the West, on the one hand, while seeking to subvert it, on the other, gave way to naive attempts in the 1990s to forge a “partnership.”

By contrast, the early 1990s witnessed the blossoming of America’s strident attempt to assert its “benevolent global hegemony.” This ambition created an ironic role-reversal, and it precluded any suggestion that Russia has legitimate interests, externally or internally. The justification for the project was as ideological, and the implications were as revolutionary, as anything concocted by Grigory Zinoviev or Leon Trotsky in their heyday.

That a “truly democratic” Russia must be subservient to the “propositionalist” matrix is still axiomatic on both sides of the Atlantic. “Democracy” thus defined has to do with one’s status in the ideological pecking order, rather than the expressed will of the electorate: in line with the Leninist dictum that the moral value of any action is determined by its contribution to the march of history. To wit, Putin’s or Medvedev’s approval ratings are cited as mere “proof” of their populist demagoguery.

The reshaping of Russia’s soul is the final stop. In this respect any gap between the Sorosite “left” and neocon “right,” between Washington and Brussels, is a matter of degree rather than kind. Here is one crusade the Jihadists support with glee. It is worse than a crime, it is a mistake.

In this context, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, stated something remarkable a year ago, in an interview with the Russia Today television channel: “There is a new civilization emerging in the Third World that thinks that the white, northern hemisphere has always oppressed it and must therefore fall at its feet now. . . . If the northern civilization wants to protect itself, it must be united: America, the European Union, and Russia. If they are not together, they will be defeated one by one.”

Rogozin’s statement reflects an understanding of the commonalities shared by Europeans and their overseas descendants – an understanding as accurate as it is odious to the Western elite class. It indicates that, in some important ways rooted in the respect for those “conservative principles,” Russia is freer than the West: no American or EU diplomat of his rank would dare make such a statement (even if he shared the sentiment), or hope to remain in his post after making it.

Western multiculturalists oppose any notion of “our” physical or cultural space that does not belong to everyone. They deny that we should have a special affinity for any particular country, nation, or culture, but demand the imposition of our preferences upon the whole world. They celebrate any random mélange of mutually disconnected multitudes as somehow uniquely “diverse” and therefore virtuous.

Ideologues will deny it, but in the decades to come Europe, Russia, and America will be in similar mortal peril. In the end there will be no grand synthesis, no cross-fertilization, and certainly no peaceful coexistence, between the North and the Third World. There will be “kto kogo” (who gets whom).

The short-term prospects for fostering a sense of unity among Europeans – Eastern, Western, and American – are dim and will remain so for as long as the regimes of all the major states of the West are controlled by an elite class hostile to its own roots and cultural fruits.

Rogozin’s position on the essential dilemma of our time coincides with what I have repeatedly advocated over the past decade: a paradigm shift in the West that would pave the way for a genuine Northern Alliance of Russia, Western Europe and North America, as all three face similar existential threats in the decades ahead. I don’t know if this alliance will materialize. I do know that, if it doesn’t, our civilization will be in peril. To prevent that outcome, it is essential to (re)affirm the principle of “preserve and augment,” to be inspired by “the constant creative renewal of society without stagnation or revolution,” and to rely on the spiritual traditions, history and culture of the extended “Western” family, from Anchorage to Vladivostok.

Read the entire article on the Russian Profile website (new window will open).

Posted: 25-Dec-2009

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