Thursday, March 24, 2022

‘Russophobia’ as Kremlin Uses It Far Less Meaningful than ‘Anti-Sovietism,’ Rubinshteyn Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 18 – Many observers assume that Russophobia is the equivalent of anti-Sovietism of earlier times, Lev Rubinshteyn says; but in fact it has far less real content and is deployed as a term of abuse rather than as an explanation for the attitudes and behavior of those the Kremlin describes as guilty of this new crime.

            The New Times columnist says many Russian officials and politicians act as if the two terms are synonyms ( KPRF head Gennady Zyuganov, for example, has said that it is time for everyone to recognize that “anti-Sovietism is a form of Russophobia and that those who fight with Soviet history are the obvious enemies of Russia.”

            Rubinshteyn reminds his readers and Zyuganov that “no one fights with history or geography, grammar or logic except for communists or fascists. Usually, people study history and learn from its difficult and not always clear lessons – or as in [Zyuganov’s] case, don’t learn from it at all.”

            Moreover, the KPRF leader’s argument that “anti-Sovietism is a form of Russophobia” collapses because “unlike ‘anti-Sovietism,’ Russophobia in general doesn’t meaning anything.” Of course, it refers to those who irrationally hate Russia and Russians, but Rubinshteyn says he has never actually met anyone like that.

            “I do not assert that they don’t exist,” the columnist says. “They do, just like anti-Semites and also Americano-, Germano-, Ukraino- or Francophobes.”

            But there is a problem. Anti-Sovietism reflects “a completely defined ideology, a certain way of life, and a mode of social behavior, and therefore anti-Sovietism is something real, something whose motives and aspects I,” Rubinshteyn says, “have shared for along time and with conviction.”

            The word “Russophobia,” however has no such clear meaning in the ways it is used. It isn’t about ideology, ethics, or aesthetics but rather to a category of ideas “to which no sane person can relate well or badly just as he cannot realte well or badly to water in general or food and general.”

            “If I suddenly wanted to use this completely meaningless word,” Rubinshteyn says, “I would have to ask Comrade Zyuganov ‘If as you say anti-Sovietism is a form of Russophobia, then would you call those millions of Russian people who during the Civil War fought and died against the Soviets ‘Russophobes?’”

            It is thus far better not to use such a term at all rather than assume it has meaning when it does not.

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