Her letter is filled with the age-old Russophobia spouted by smug westerners for centuries, and is in itself, nothing surprising. The letter is a self-righteous piece containing the typical praise of “western values”, and condemning Russia for various crimes she didn’t commit – without any evidence, as usual. It contains statements referencing what she considers “Vladimir Putin’s mockery of our European values“, with undertones of an implied moral high ground the west allegedly has. The entire letter can be summed up in the crowning moment of arrogance in the closing paragraph:
The world is looking at Europe in these difficult times. Our governments should not
strengthen the authoritarian and anti-western path of the Russian President, but
boycott the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and raise their voices for the protection of
human rights, of democratic values and peace.
Normally, this is a story that would fly under the radar. There are so many more important issues concerning Russia and the world, than the fantasies of a misguided woman’s desire to boycott a sporting event. Her open letter is not an official decision from the EU, although it is worth noting that according to Zero Hedge, Sixty Members of the European Parliament from 16 member states and 5 different political groups are supporting her call.
It is important to understand that even if the EU adopted her proposal, the European football teams would still play in Russia, all that would happen is EU officials wouldn’t “shake Putin’s hand” as she described it.
OH NO!!! Putin won’t get to shake hands with a bunch of Russophobes! How tragic!
For these reasons, I normally wouldn’t shed any attention on this story, and give the letter or it’s author any more publicity, however one major thing stuck out, was worthy of an academic level of scrutiny.
There was the line which referred to a “mockery of our European values” and another, which even worse, had the audacity to pull the “western values” card on Russia. This was the portion saying the EU must “raise their voices for the protection of human rights, of democratic values and peace” against Russia and her President’s “anti-western path”. Such words can ignite polymic fire in Russian philosophers.
It was the arrogant assumption that first of all, “Western” or “European values” are equivalent to “human rights, democratic values, and peace”. The second is her assumption that Russia, a key member of Western Civilization long before German principalities were united, and the eastern bulwark of Europe can be “anti-Western” or Anti-European.
This is an argument often used, that Russia is a “young Asiatic country”, however, Rus’ was an ancient nation, married into the Eastern Roman Imperial Family by the 10th century. French Kings begged for the hand of Anna of Kiev, daughter of Russian Knyaz Yaroslav, and granddaughter of Vladimir of Kiev and the Eastern Roman Emperors.
At the time Russia was founded, there was no “Germany” but simply “East Francia”, and modern Germans were divided into hundreds of tiny fiefs for centuries.
As a result, it is worth discussing Russia’s true role and history in Europe, even if Russian philosophers argue over her destiny and identity.
Russia at the Crossroads
The idea that Russia isorisn’t western, or European is a very old debate, a very aggressive debate which can separate even friends. Some Russian thinkers like Lev Gumilev see Russia as something in-between “Eurasian”, whereas others think Russia constitutes a completely unique civilization.
In this context though, when Western European leaders argue that Russia is not western, or European, this deserves much examination. First of all, it is not their right to declare Russia’s civilization and path – this belongs only to the Russian people.
To say “Russia is going down a non-western path” is in this context, profoundly racist, in its implications. It’s an argument which is advocating the lie that Western Europe is – and has always been – a great bastion of freedom, whereas Russia is an Asiatic “prison of nations” (Тюрьма народов) as Lenin slandered her.
When the author of the letter speaks of a “western path or values” in her mind, she is referring to peace, love, diplomacy, freedom, etc. This is obvious from this sentence:
Our governments should not strengthen the authoritarian and anti-western path of the Russian President, but boycott the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and raise their voices for the protection of human rights, of democratic values and peace.
To her, that is what “western” means, sugar, spice, and everything nice, so to speak.
The natural conclusion of her statement, therefore implies what is “western” is always good, that the west is a white knight, and what is non-western or eastern is a barbaric horde. That level of racist presumptions is quite unpleasant, and brings back bad memories for Slavs to hear it from a German.
Germans really should not be lecturing anyone about peace, human rights, and European values, considering that both World Wars which radically messed up the state of European civilization, were started by Germanic powers.
But is Russia truly not western?
What is “The West”
Before we can address that, we must truly understand what Western meant in its historical context, and address any evolution of that meaning by today’s era. Unfortunately, this article does not lend itself to a deep scholarly discussion, so I will be brief.
The primary issue seems to be, that there are two profoundly different visions of what is Western civilization.
The first, and archaic vision is that the Western world, and what is western, is synonymous with Christendom. It was born when European civilizations adopted a uniting Christian faith, along with a certain Greco-Roman legacy.
You could argue western civilization began when the Emperor Saint Constantine the Great accepted Christianity as the faith of the Roman Empire, and united it under one autocrat. It began the idea of a Christian monarch ruling over a Christian land, and it predates the separation of Europe into tribal nation-states. The divine right of Kings, the use of the Cross on shields and heraldry, a certain union between the Church and the State, even the Nicene Creed and the Bible as we know it was formed under Constantine, who died in 337. His example defined one thousand years of European civilization.
This was the first definition of what was “western” and it remained a united consensus until Charlemagne’s election as “Holy Roman Emperor” – when he was really a Germanic king – conflicted with the already existing Roman (Byzantine) Emperor in the East. The East-West Schism, which divided the Christian church into two parts became a source of division, and later more rifts would emerge.
Never the less, the idea of Christendom as being synonymous with “western” was the prevailing belief until the 18th century.
After the enlightenment, and the French rationalists, the western world underwent a secular transformation. They overthrew ancient monarchies and faiths, and began a new civilization based on individualism and “reason”. This evolution slowly evolved into the liberal social values of these days, support for LGBT, abortion, secularization, what some refer to as “Cultural Marxism”, even if the term is a misnomer. For the sake of brevity, one can argue the West by 2018 changed its religion from Christianity to “Democracy”
Never the less, we have two definitions of western now
Christendom (the Old Classical World)
The so-called “democratic, human rights” secular powers of today – US, EU, and their allies.
From this point of view, it is clear that Russia is an inalienable member of the first definition. This is why the title of this article said “Russia is more western than the west”. By the definition of Christendom, Russia is far more western than Western Europe.
Even Russian Christianity is more traditional, as it’s often blended with monarchism, and the high church rituals of the Orthodox Church are devoid of liberal reforms, and the church hierarchy operates more or less as it did in medieval times (in a positive sense).
In all honesty, Russian society was far more “western”, than Western Europe, even historically. The Czars of the “Third Rome” remained autocratic like Roman Emperors to the very end, as opposed to western monarchs.
Russian society remained closer to medieval Western Europe, than Western Europe was to its own history.
Russia today remains, in this way, far more traditionally “western”, in values, leadership, society,
and Faith, than Western Europe with its ultra social liberalism.
However, if we consider these forms of socially liberal values to be the new European values, then Russia most certainly does not share the same values as The West.
Russia may have been more Western than the west, but The West has changed, and Russia is no longer part of that civilization. This conclusion is also expressed by renowned Russian conservative thinker Mikhail Remizov (MR) in an interview with Professor Paul Robinson (PR).
PR: You said that Russian culture, in your opinion, is a European culture. But there are many conservatives who say that Russia is a separate civilization, a Eurasian civilization. Do you consider that Russia is part of European civilization, and if so does that mean that Russia’ future must lie in Europe?
MR: How to understand the idea of civilization is a big question. If you consider a civilization to be a project built around religious or quasi-religious values, some project of organizing life, the image of man, society, power, then in Europe we can see a new civilization being built, one which is connected to a new set of quasi-religious coordinates founded on the religion of human rights and emancipation. And in this sense it is a new post-Christian civilization. Again, that is if we view civilization as a project, not as roots, but as a project. But if we understand civilization in terms of its roots: antiquity, Christianity, a certain Jewish component through Biblical thought, plus Slavic, Celtic, German, Indo-European roots, myths, then we are quite close to Europe. We have common roots. And our cultural codes are also similar. If we look at Russian stories and those of the Brothers Grimm, we can see one and the same subjects. But if we see civilization as a project, then, no, we are now separate civilizations.
The Problem with Russia’s so-called “Anti-Western Path”
At this point, one may ask was all this necessary, just because a hysterical German MP called Russia “non-Western” in her open letter to boycott Russia. The issue was never the letter itself, but the spirit of the letter. The Russophobia contained therein, the implication that Russia’s “path” is inferior to the “Western values” must be debunked. The whole East vs West sham must be debunked.
One could say it is obvious the German MP wasn’t saying Russia isn’t a Christian country. There is no evidence she even imagines the west as being Christendom.
She isn’t saying Russia is Asian, or that being Asian or non-European is bad. This has no racial or religious implications. She is clearly speaking of western values in the modern, secular sense. She means the West represents, as she said herself, “human rights, democratic values, and peace”
The issue with this is two-fold.
First of all, even if she isn’t denying Russia’s place in Western civilization (Christendom), she is still implying “The West” i.e. Western Europe and North America have superior moral values to Russia. She is implying the west has at the very least been known for its humanitarian nature in recent memories.
That is nonsense!!! Is this the same west which dropped the Atomic bomb on Japan? Which killed legions in Vietnam? Which practically invented modern radical Islam by funding the mujahadin to fight the Soviet Union. The west which plunged the Middle East into the endless bloodshed of recent years. Is this the west that waged a war against Yugoslavia and then Christian Serbia. Which tore Kosovo from the still-beating heart of Orthodox Serbia and gave it to Muslims? Did the West forget that Kosovo was the spot of the martyrdom of Czar-Saint Lazar Hrebeljanović who fought Ottoman Murad, defending Europe from invasion? Or has the West long since, ceased to care about such things.
The west that supports a fascist-sympathizing regime to rule Ukraine, bringing endless suffering on the people, and to prostitute and sell the people of Ukraine like one would sell in a marketplace soulless grain?
If this is the “western path” Russia is rejecting, then by rejecting it, Russia is taking the moral high ground. The idea that western values are synonymous with humanitarianism is as cynical as the words “Arbeit macht frei– Work will set you free”.
And finally, the liberal “humanitarian superpowers” are proving themselves very racist, by continuing to use the word western like this, and equating it with what she called “human rights, democratic values, and peace”
This is because when someone uses the word “Western” in this context, it’s impossible for a European not to have some vague image of that Christian Greco-Roman past. Even in a secular sense, one thinks of Greco-Roman pillars and domes over government and legal halls, the Renaissance masterpieces, the great composers.
It conjures a vision of that idealistic European golden age. She is implying the liberal state and values of Western Europe, is the natural evolution of this glorious golden age whereas Russia is moving to something foreign.
A closer look would reveal Russia remained western by the old standard, and it is the West which has changed and became something different.
By implying that Russia is not western, if taken to the logical conclusion, they are saying Russia is some Asiatic backwater. They are implying the West is all human rights, democratic values, and peace, whereas anything “anti-Western”, to use her own term, is the opposite.
To use the terminology of SJWs, (not to agree with them, but maybe it will sink in better), saying that Russia isn’t western is a microaggression. It’s also moronic, and devoid of both cultural knowledge and common sense, so please stop doing it.