Thursday, February 19, 2015

‘There is Nothing Specifically Russian’ in Putin’s ‘Russian World,’ Zarubin Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, February 19 – “There is nothing [specifically] Russian in ‘the Russian world,” according to Konstantin Zarubin. Its political philosophy reduces to the idea that the strong can do what they like and the weak must defer to them. And as such, “any Ukrainian, European or American” who believes that is Moscow’s “potential brother in arms.”


            Zarubin, a Russian analyst who lives in Sweden, says that one of the leaders of the Donetsk Peoples Republic unwittingly confirmed that when he said he was entitled to bomb places in Ukraine because they are in “our internal territory” and “what is internal is internal” (


            “History teaches us,” he says, that “under a complete dictatorship, the absurd and the ridiculous are the very first candidates for the role of state ideology” as the cases of Tukmenbashi, Soviet leaders, Mussolini and Hitler demonstate show. One can’t read them at least after the fact without laughing.


            In much the same way, Zarubin suggests, “the DNR field commander has spontaneously formulated a key thesis of the political philosophy of the ‘Russian world’ project,” even if that was hardly his intention and even though some may dismiss his words as nothing more than the result of an excess of testosterone.


            In this case as in many others, “it is simpler to define the ideology by taking into consideration what is opposes itself too.” Russia today and “the Russian world” which derives from it set themselves up in opposition to “the West” and “the liberals,” all terms that must be put in quotation marks because they are not real things but mythological notions.


            In the case of Russia ideas about “the West” and “liberals,” these concepts “”combine within themselves things that cannot be combined, with NATO being a set of countries where “absolutely everything is permitted but which at the same time there is not a single ounce of freedom.”


            But that is just the beginning of the Russian stories about “’liberal fascism’” in the West. The next stage is the insistence that if in “the West” one can say A, that one must understand that to mean that “in the West one cannot say B.”  Thus, according to these lights, “if one can be a homosexual, then it also means one cannot be a heterosexual” and so on.


            “In ‘the Russian world,’” Zarubin says, “no As or Bs can exist at one and the same time, even in theory.”


                If one adopts that perspective, he writes, then one must conclude that “Russia, the DNR and the LNR or perhaps it is now useful to call them the RDNRPNR which stands for the Russian Popular Democratic Republic of People are fighting for freedom,” but not freedom as most understand it but for the freedom of the strong to beat up on the weak if they can and want to.


             When a DNR field command says that he has the right to bomb “his own territory” because “internal is internal,” he is doing no more than expressing this ancient view of the strong that they have the right to do something because they can as well as “the strategic goal of all our hybrid battle with ‘Ukrafascism.’”


            “That is horrific,” Zarubin continues, “but that isn’t all.”  It means that those conducting such a policy have potential allies everywhere  among those who believe that they have or should have the right to impose their will on others just because they are stronger. European civilization has been struggling with this notion for 2500 years, but even it has not succeeded in all cases.


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