Putin is a moderate. The western portrayal of President Putin as a dangerous extremist is based on lies; it’s a narrative which can only survive so long as people are not educated about the real Russia, and the result of profound hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy is the spirit which distinguishes politics of our age. Wherever you look, the Hypocrisy of western politics is far-reaching. The West supports wars in the middle east which kill millions and they can be described as “Humanitarian superpowers”, Russia allows Crimean people to reunite with their ancestral homeland in a transition which results in less than ten deaths, and somehow Russia is rebuilding the “axis of evil”.
To understand how a truly moderate statesman like Putin can be falsely portrayed as a radical, we must first understand how hypocrisy and split personality distorts one’s view of Russia.
Hypocrisy has created a madness in the west, an almost schizophrenic split personality, has taken root within the western soul. The split personality complex in the west has given rise to the two heads of the western establishment: The Neoconservatives and the Neoliberals. Together they form the Diarchy (rule of two) present in western governments, though perhaps the Latin synonym Duumvirate better describes it.
This split personality influences how they view reality.
Take for example their portrayal of Russia. There are two primary ways in which Russia is misrepresented in the west:
- As a toothless bear, a weak, anemic regional power nostalgic for old glory, incapable of letting go. A nation overall not unlike a destitute widow after the death of a great and powerful man, as Gogol described the Cossack lands of what we call Ukraine in Taras Bulba.
This is simply not reality.
- The dangerous bear, an Empire terrible and strong, ready to subject the world beneath the boot of an Imperialist, Fascist, Totalitarian, Communist, Soviet, Russian Orthodox Czar. If the West does not “do something” [the most terrifying words any third world country can hear] there will not be a free power in the world that will not kneel to the Czar of Moscow.
That statement is contradictory, primarily with the first image, but also with itself. You can not be a Communist or a Fascist, nor an Orthodox Tsarist for that matter all at once.
While the above examples are mutable to a degree, those are the prevailing stereotypes about Russia. They each serve two primary purposes:
- The portrayal of Russia as a declining power reduces panic when undesirable, for example when the Deep State feels comfortable with their position in society, and wish to promote their leadership as strong and stabilizing. It also reinforces overall pride and morale in the west. This is the favored personality of the Neo-Liberals.
- The portrayal of Russia as a resurgent, terrifying eastern horde on the verge of world dominance provides for the Military Industrial Complex, allows for increased military spending, and justifies both sabre rattling and adventurism, satisfying the warmongers. The portrayal of the Neo-Cons.
How does this split personality view Putin?
Putin is primarily viewed in a similar light by western pundits, though the dichotomy between two extreme portrayals is less pronounced – lines are blurred – to them, he is simply an Extremist. They cannot place him firmly on any end of the spectrum. Typically, when you do not fall on any extreme, that makes you a moderate.
They can call him a neo-Communist, nostalgic for Soviet power one moment and immediately compare him to the Russian Czars, saying he practically wants to create a Russian Orthodox Theocracy and rebuild the Russian Empire. Then they can compare him to Hitler, which is perhaps the most despicable and deplorable thing you can call a Russian. To the Russian people, Nazi is the worst “n-word”. His young brother died when the Nazis laid siege to Leningrad and killed MILLIONS in one city, show some humanity before you make such an insult to the entire Russian nation.
All of those ideologies are incompatible – you cannot be a Russian Orthodox Fascists Communist Statist Czarist Bolshevik all at once. Such an ignorance, a true lack of knowledge, to so easily throw these terms around in the same sentence proves those who do so fail to understand Russia and Putin. It also reveals the west is more interest in name-calling than in serious dialog. Find one moment where Putin outright insulted a western leader, in the same way as he was, to be called the most abhorrent of things – a Nazi.
So now that we have explored the falsehoods and hypocrisy, what is Putin?
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is a devout Orthodox Christian, and the President of the Russian Federation. Period.
It truly is nobody’s right to apply a label to him that he did not ask for. We would all do well to stop viewing people as Conservatives, and Liberals, Monarchists and Socialists, Easterners and Westerners, and simply seeing each other as Humans. Russian Orthodoxy, the religion of Putin teaches us we are all created in the image and likeness of God, and as a result, we must respect the dignity within every human, even our worst enemy. By longstanding Cossack tradition, we must first respect our freemen, before we can have any dealings with them. This lack of mutual respect and understanding is a major roadblock in Russian relations with the west – and it is not Russia that shows no respect.
In the interest in a conclusion, I would like to humbly offer this perspective. Given how Putin has portrayed himself by his actions and words, perhaps the best label to apply if such a thing is necessary is that Putin is a moderate.
Putin the Moderate
What is a moderate? Simply put, in this context, someone who exists between two extremes. It is popular to place Putin at two radical ends by various groups, both to criticize him and even to praise him. For example, American socialists, liberals, and progressives have this view of him as an authoritarian, possibly misogynistic, far right dictator. They would be surprised to realize he leads a country FAR more socialist than America. Russia has government-funded universal healthcare for all citizens, free education even at university level for those accepted, and a strong heritage of women’s rights (first woman in space, long paid maternity leave, etc.) He shows no signs of wanting to detract from any of that, he actually is quite proud of those things.
Western conservatives stuck in the cold war view him as a “Commie”, a socialist KGB agent trying to restore the Soviet Union and destroy the “moral” west. If only they knew Russia is PROFOUNDLY more religious than the west…beyond compare. Russia is a country of millions of martyrs, and Putin can be seen praying piously in the Russian Orthodox way, a faith far more ancient than western protestant sects, with a direct line of succession to first-century church, described in acts of the apostles. Putin is aware of this, he has met with the leader of Syrian Christians, the Patriarch of Antioch, and taken a keen interest in defending Syria particularly, because of shared Orthodox faith.
A great example of western misunderstanding is when they jumped on Putin’s recent comment about Lenin’s body and Orthodox relics. The implication was that Putin is implying Lenin’s body on red square is just as Holy as the relics of an Orthodox Saint which people venerate. While it’s not my right to speak for Putin, it is clear to me this was a misunderstanding, perhaps due to poor understanding of the Russian language, by non-native speakers.
Having listened myself, I can say the connotation of his comment was more like “What the communists did with Lenin’s body isn’t an unheard of concept, we Orthodox people venerate saints. They just stole an ancient Russian tradition and hope no one notices”. That is a total paraphrase, but I believe it better explains what he said, than the connotation of the English translation.
Putin is right to make the comparison. I do not say Lenin’s body is equal to that of the Saints, certainly not! But the Bolsheviks copied what the church did. They were jealous of the Church, they wanted to be the new Church. This is entirely true. The way Lenin’s body was treated is indeed a form of mimicking and mockery of the holy relics.
The Bolsheviks took an approach of if you can’t beat them, join them almost. They even studied Orthodoxy to uncover knew means of self-promotion. Rather than destroying its role in Russia, they merely usurped it as a central ideology. Whereas before we had cross processions, then we march with Lenin pictures. Before we said God Save the Czar, then we said Lenin lived, Lenin Lives, Lenin will live again!
In a way, they understood that no people can be without religion or a central ideology. Rather than destroying that thing all humans need, they just replaced Orthodoxy with communism. But of course, they failed. Orthodoxy is the organic ideology of the Russian people, the Faith which founded Russia, it can never be replaced by a pale imitation. That is why Putin was comparing communist things to Orthodox ones, because the communists coveted the zealotry Russians have for their faith. They mimicked Orthodoxy because it was familiar to the people, and in many ways, if it wasn’t for Orthodoxy teaching Russians how to be so loyal to a belief, Communism would not have been successful.
In many ways, Russian communism and the Soviet Union was more influenced by Orthodoxy than Marxism; the religious zeal with which they received it, the marching and the imperial loyalty to their leaders are all something they learned from Czarist Russia, not from Marx. It also doesn’t make you a communist or a bad Christian to note, as Putin did, Orthodoxy and Communist economic theory share some basic commonality – care for the poor and all the peoples of the world. The difference was communism was materialistic whereas Orthodoxy is spiritualistic.
Contrary to the McCarthyites, calling him a communist, there are also the Alt-Right, and certain conservative factions, who have this fascination with Putin as an ultra-macho strongman, what they wish their western leaders were like. They look to him riding shirtless or shooting guns, his judo skills, they enviously lust for his strength, wishing they hat it within them. These people look to the “anti-gay law” in Russia, as proof that Putin is a “tough, white, heterosexual man” putting the world back in its place, and women back in the kitchen.
While Putin is obviously white and heterosexual, and you’d have to be crazy to say he is not tough, he does not support their extremist borderline fascist view of the world. Putin is Orthodox both in the sense of the religion, and in his very conservative, non-alternative lifestyle, he is a traditional Russian man, not an edgy alt-righter living in his mother’s basement who can’t get a girlfriend. He exudes the philosophy “talk softly but carry a big stick”. He doesn’t feel the need to remind people he’s tough – everyone knows that. He would MUCH prefer solving issues with dialog than with fighting, even though he is capable of the latter if need be, much like his country.
When Russians think of him, they picture him well dressed (not riding a bear shirtless), leading the country in a responsible, ethical, diplomatic manner. Putin is a statesman of the old world – a modern Caesar, Peter the Great, or even Churchill (with regards to his iconic association with leading his homeland). He respects the past, takes what was good, rejects what was bad, and tries to make Russia strong in a responsible way.
He is the definition of diplomatic. As much as many of us hate political correctness, he IS politically correct, only in as much as he does his best not to offend any foreign leaders. Putin is a statesman, he puts Russia first, above his personal feelings and ambitions, everything he does, he does selflessly for the nation.
The so called “anti-gay laws” simply prevent homosexuals from either directly or indirectly propagating harmful perverted sexual lifestyles to minors. Putin does not support violence against gay people at large.
Putin is strong in the fight against terror. He helped Syrians save their country, raining down fire and destruction upon terrorists, and he lead the countries security forces when Grozny, the Chechen capital was raised to the ground. He also leads the country which REBUILT Grozny into one of Russia’s most beautiful, newest cities. He is not an enemy to all Muslims, only to violent extremists. Muslims fight in the Russian armed services, and Putin has allowed children from Syria to return to Russia freely. He won’t tolerate cynics who claim infants and toddlers are terrorists just as he won’t tolerate any terrorist stupid enough to attack Russia.
He is a practicing Orthodox Christian of good faith, he has spoken of the Church’s crucial role in Russia, but he does not support creating a theocracy. Neither does the Church for that matter. Putin also meets many leaders of other religions. He is a devout practicing Orthodox, so he primarily honors the prevailing role of Orthodox in Russia history and culture, but that’s it. The west constantly portrays him as this ultra-conservative man that wants to become Czar, but that’s not reality.
The reality is Russia has far more extreme political views to the left and right of Putin. You have people who think he’s not being conservative enough, and then of course the leftist—and I don’t mean the mythical liberal unicorns, I mean the communists are the primary leftist party in Russia. The west doesn’t realize how moderate Putin really is.
He has spoken very critically of the Bolsheviks, and is no communist by any means, but he at the same time does not speak of communists like they are evil people. Some Communists were evil, some were good, somewhere in between, capitalism is also a satanic ideology from a religious point of view, it advocates for worship of money just like Communism seeks utopia without God. Both are materialistic, and Putin neither loves nor hates both systems.
Putin once told Oliver Stone that Judo taught him to be flexible, and this is one of his defining characteristics. Russia itself can be a country of extremes for better or worse, and Putin is a flexible moderate at the core, bringing the people together, doing his best not to alienate any large group, and trying to help build “Sobornaya Rossia” a united Russia. Russia has had so many extremes come and go in the last century, Putin tries to be a stabilizing constant to help the nation stand firm in trying times.
Putin actually sits in the middle of a spectrum of extremes, a peacemaker with the rare gift of calling all to order for the greater good of Russia. Those that wish for him to lose the election should be careful what they wish for, the result they get may be more than they bargained for.
The fact is Russian westernizing liberals are largely unicorns, they don’t exist, and when they do, they aren’t by any means popular. An alternative to Putin would not likely be Pro-Western, but the west may actually get to see a real Russian Communist, or Czarist, or authoritarianist.
Popular candidate Zhirinovsky for example, describes himself as the “drum” to Putin’s “cello.” He represents a group of Russians who actually think Putin is too restrained, that he isn’t tough enough. That may surprise you, but it’s true. Some Russians believe Russia should have actively intervened with full military might in Ukraine. Let’s face it, Ukrainians aren’t friends…they’re family. Russia’s family is being slaughtered in the Ukraine…yes…primarily by other Ukrainians, but this wouldn’t have happened if western backed fascists did not take power.
Zhirinovsky advocated for an intervention and occupation to restore legitimate Ukrainian rule before the fascist Kiev regime would have taken power in what the first east Slavic Chronicles call “The Mother of Russian Cities” – Kiev. Likewise, some Russians wanted to see Russia’s military take the fight to enemies on the ground in Syria, which could have potentially risked conflict with US forces occupying territory there.
The Communist party also advocated for Russia to do more to save Russian-Ukrainian people from fascist occupation. If Zhirinovsky or a communist candidate was president, Russia could have occupied all of Ukraine, or be currently fighting a war in the heart of Europe. Russia and Ukraine are twins, as a result, they both have that tendency to be a land of extremes. The difference is Putin, who kept the extreme ends of Russia from tearing each other apart, like what is happening in Ukraine.
Putin’s Russia is an incredibly diverse country. Unlike in the west, were the only real variety approved by the Deep State is Neoconservatism, or Neoliberalism, where the Right and Left are all the same on core issues where it counts, Russia is a country that truly offers diversity. Many diverse ideologies coexist in Russia, unlike in the west which claims to be the capital of diversity, the offer truly divergent and profoundly different worldviews.
For those who believe the Russian media is all the same, take a look at: Tsargrad, Komsmopolskaya Pravda, Pravoslavie.ru, RIA Novosti, Radio Mayak, Vesti, Sputnik, and RT, not to mention the plethora of openly anti-Kremlin websites which exist freely like Radio Svaboda. If people only knew the amount of anti-patriotic and anti-Russian fifth columns that are allowed to operate freely. This also doesn’t include pro-Russian and anti-Russian news from Ukraine.
Putin’s Russia is ideologically and politically far more diverse than most places, and that’s because it’s run by a moderate who welcomes dialog, and not an extremist who wishes to silence all descending voices.
Putin was the moderate who saved Syria from destruction, got the legitimate government back on its feet, then handed over the reigns and said, “Take it from here”. He was the moderate who reunited Crimea with Russia, but allowed Donbass to fight for itself, providing only humanitarian aid and fully supporting the Minsk agreements. Whether or not it’s right or wrong, his actions may have prevented a greater war.
Putin is a moderate, because he has miraculously and flexibly reconciled almost all aspects of Russian society, getting them to work together. Under Putin, for the first time, Communist leaders were saying “Christ is Risen” on Easter. Under Putin, Crimea was reunited, and Syria was saved without provoking a dangerous war with another great power.
Putin is a moderate, because he has encouraged all ideologies in Russia to collaborate patriotically for the common good, setting aside their profound differences. Putin’s work has been to stabilize Russia after centuries of storms, to help lead her into the future, so future generations of Russians will be safe and strong. Then will Russians choose whether to pursue for Russia a Monarchist, Communist, Traditionalist, Leftist, or whatever future for Russia. Because of Putin, they may build something entirely new. So call Putin a moderate if you’d like, it seems to fit.
Above all, Putin is a statesman for the stability of the country. He knows the importance of Orthodoxy as the foundation of Russian culture, which co-suffered with the people since the beginning. He is also an Orthodox Christian of genuine faith, and the lawful president with the people’s support.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.