One can understand a great deal about culture by examining language.
An important case study is the Russian word нормальный (normal’nyy). The word shares the Latin root-word normalis with the English word ‘normal’. Sadly, the modern use of ‘нормальный’ in Russia has parted ways with its English counterpart.
In Russia нормальный is used to describe a situation, individual or condition that is healthy, sane, functional, proper and/or good.
The English word ‘normal’ used to mean much the same but today it is frequently used to describe a situation, individual or condition that is boring, bland, commonplace or uneventful.
This is symptomatic of a culture that has both literally and metaphysically normalised the abnormal, which goes hand in hand with debasing that which was previously considered ‘healthy’.
It is an unhappy state of affairs, which finds reflection not only in culture but in foreign policy.
One ought to reflect on which of the following manners of conducting foreign affairs is more нормальный/normal.
(1) A policy based on respect for international law, the sovereignty of states, and the way local peoples conduct their affairs; a belief that the military should only be used for defensive purposes or for coming to the requested aid of an ally; and a belief that people can trade and have good relations with all countries in spite of ideological, religious or historical differences; or
(2) A policy based on a dogmatic adherence to ideology that trumps international law when necessary; a policy which insists on the right or even duty to interfere in other sovereign states by military means if necessary in the name of a subjective concept of the ‘Greater Good’; combined with the use of economics as a weapon to crush other nations rather than as a tool to enrich the lives of one’s own people.
No prizes for those who understand the first to be a description of Russian foreign policy under Putin and Lavrov, and the second to be a description of the Obama, Clinton, Kerry, Blair policies, which have resulted in international chaos.
The new multi-polar world is not going to go away. But in order for it to function peacefully, Western states need to re-familiarise themselves with the notion of ‘normality’.
Blind ideology and neo-liberal dogma, often used as a cover to hide greed and paranoia and the enforced hatred of other cultures, are things that have made the West deeply dysfunctional, leaving many people confused and depressed.
Saying this is not anti-Western. This prescription for ‘normality’ is good for the entire world, especially for the West itself.
Criticism of this kind is not only deeply humane, but it is also in the truest sense patriotic.
For every problem there is a solution. ‘Normality’ will bring to the West prosperity and peace.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.