I got a letter from Moscow accusing me of “deep seated hatred for the Russian soul” (it’s found in the comments of “1938?”).
Let me first make the following clear: I am not anti-Russian, quite the opposite. The same holds for Germany: I am pro-German, and that is why I have attacked German racist fascism, murderously anti-Semitic for at least 5 centuries (and maybe before Alexander Nevski).
Ideally, I would have Europe extending from the Azores to Alaska. I would be happy with Russia as a member of the European Union.
Nearly all Russians that I have met struck me as advanced cultural types (partly a selection effect from immigration, as the best and brightest tend to flee). I used even to read Soviet books (in translation), from Lenin to astrophysics (where Russians invented many things Americans claimed later, such as cosmic inflation; the successful thermonuclear device, the tokomak, is named from a Russian abbreviation and was invented by Sakharov (Stalin’s own H bomb genius; later a famous dissident).
But my extreme, and growing, dislike for Putin has appeared several years ago. He is making things worse with his new doctrine of the Eurasian Union, founded on values not embraced by Europe. See my:
which made already pretty explicit that Putin was on a collision course with civilization. I was not, BTW, always anti-Putin. I thought he would crack down on the plutocrats initially. Instead, he herded them. And bred his own.
In “1938?”, or “Hitler’s Book”, I related the analogy of facts between Hitler’s and Putin’s action. Not my fault that both invaded, and then held referenda with 97% approval. And other identities of facts. I don’t see why the fraud of 97% of Hitler (demonstrated 16 years later, no less!) is not a model for the fraud of 97% of Putin.
Everybody could see transparent urns were used in Crimea, at least in some cases, and the yes or no were plainly visible. Is that civilization, or is that making fun of civilization?
OK, let’s talk about what we know. What happened with Herr Hitler? A process was engaged. Both an inner psychological process, and an outer psychological process. Inwardly, Hitler got away with great horrors and obvious outrages… that brought him great success. He came to believe that, the more horrors and outrages, the more success would come.
And so they did.
In 1939, though, a weak Britain, having belatedly abjured Hitler, accepted to join France in providing Poland with support against Hitler and Stalin. The rest is history. The USSR harvested what it had sown: a quarter of a century of complicity with German fascism (started by Lenin himself before 1917).
Similarly, now, Putin could tip into the Darkest Side.
For example, if Putin uses transparent voting boxes and then all the Russians salute that democratic gesture, while the West scoff in impotent rage, Putin will be enticed to do more of the same, all over, from Georgia to Moldova.
Some will say: Russia is only 17 million square kilometers, 70% larger than Canada, the USA and China (the three largest countries after Russia). Why can’t Russia become the “big country” as Putin himself called it, again? Why can’t Russia become again Czarist Russia, with its 22 million square kilometers? What’s wrong with that?
What’s wrong is that it crushed many civilizations. Armenian civilization, in Christian form, is the oldest Christian civilization, older than Christian Rome, more than 17 centuries old, for example.
That brings us to the question of the “Russian soul”. What is the “Russian Soul”? How old is it? Where does it come from? Well, history is very clear. The youngest son of Alexander Nevski founded Moscow, but then came the Mongols. Out of centuries of war, oppression and occupation, came the Moscow soul, in the style of Ivan III, and Ivan IV, The Terrible.
Now that Moscow soul is called the Russian soul. Its pluses? First of all, the capacity to install the largest land empire the world has known (except for the Mongols, for a generation or so). True, that empire spread among semi-Neolithic people, and was rendered possible by the potato (a South American invention, not Russian!). Potatoes grow in very poor soils, with very cold winter, and give nearly all that a human being needs, including proteins.
You say, dear Moscow reader: …” you don’t grasp some very important aspects of the proverbial Russian “soul” — why they fight so hard when humiliated and so on. Or perhaps you think they are so stupid to be totally indoctrinated without “free press”? In our Internet age… How arrogant and stupid of you! I think it is deeply seated hatred that devaluates all the good reasoning you have.”
Well, Putin has apparently blocked some Internet site (not mine, it seems). Also clearly he has control of the Russian Main Stream Media. I don’t know if Russian fight so hard. They lost the Crimean war of 1853. They lost World War One. In WWII, Stalin’s terror proved to be much superior to the terror Nazi inspired. One could say that the Nazis got out-Nazified.
Also the Allies provided Stalin with many things, from trucks to first class intelligence (intelligence from the British, itself building on French and especially Polish work). The battle of Kursk, the largest tank battle of WWII, by far, in summer 1943, was won because the Soviets knew everything about the Nazi formations, thanks to the Brits. That’s when the Wehrmacht got broken (it was defeated, but not broken, at Moscow in 1941, and lost stupidly the Sixth Army’s 300,000 men at Stalingrad around Christmas 1942. But at Kursk, it lost its last chance to defeat the USSR).
I don’t see why I should have “deep seated hatred against the Russian soul”. And the fact is, I do not. Although I do deeply despise Orthodox Christian fanatics…
The danger now is that Russians are embarked on a phenomenon of satanization (we need a word beyond diabolization!) similar to that experienced by the Germans in the 1930s and 1940s. That’s all. That’s plenty enough to raise some alarms.
By grossly violating International Law in exactly the same way as Hitler did with Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938. (Hitler did a better job, getting everything without firing a shot.) Putin has opened the gates of violence. Not only has Putin’s psychology tipped irreversibly in the Dark Side, but he has set in motion forces that push him ever further that way.
The weakness of the West only encourages him. Hitler was stunned when France and Britain sent him an ultimatum, on September 1, 1939. In retrospect, it should have been done earlier. Fortunately this time, the West is not divided. And an economic ultimatum can be sent to Putin.
At this point, all signs are that Putin prepares an invasion. If Mr. Putin does not get the Ukrainian constitution changed within a few weeks, according to its diktat, he will probably attack before the Ukrainian presidential elections of May 25. And then what’s next?
The problem with the wished-for 22 million square kilometers empire of the Czar Putin is that it imposed the paranoid, metastatic, militaristic, satanic Kremlin soul on many civilizations, most of them wiser and older, with less space for the Dark Side.
Nowadays, the Dark Side has to be fought, lest nuclear weapons, and many other terrible ways and means, be used. Interestingly, Putin and his henchmen have declared they will use nuclear weapons on the battlefield, a clear escalation, of the nuclear type (whereas the Obama administration has wowed never to use tactical nukes).
Weirdly, yet in the traditional Hitlerian way, Putin is proving more deliberately dangerous to the West than any Soviet leader ever was (except for when Stalin allied with Hitler against France).