Monday, April 25, 2022

Putin Regime Reviving Another Noxious Stalin-Era Term – ‘Kowtowing to the West’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 15 – A Stalin-era term that was used as part of the Soviet dictator’s campaign against intellectuals and Jews – “kowtowing to the West” – is making a comeback in Putin’s Russia, a sign that in his effort to exacerbate and exploit xenophobia among ordinary Russians, the current Russian dictator may be prepared to cross a similar red line.

            That term was central to the anti-cosmopolitan campaign of the final years of Stalin’s life, and a new article by Russian nationalist commentator Anatoly Shirokoborodov sounds as if it were lifted directly from that period (

            Like his Stalinist predecessors, Shirokoborodov contrasts the healthy and loyal popular masses to an intelligentsia that is running after the West and “betraying” the country and suggests that the latter are getting in the way of the positive alliance between the leader and the people.

Several passages from his latest article suggest just how far this commentator and presumably those in power who think the same way have one. “However strange it may seem,” he writes, “the most mature and calm reaction to the rapidly changing global and local situation can be observed only among the people.”

“In the depth of the popular masses, among ordinary and not always well educated or widely read people, among those from the edges of cities and small settlements are guys whose only path in life began with contract service in the army and who more clearly and intuitively have taken in what is going on.”

What this shows, Shirokoborodov says, is that “the political and worldview maturity of our society owes most not to the influential and political scientists but to the cooks and toilers who have been laughed at and denigrated for the last 30 years.” Fortunately, he continues, “Putin has changed and begun to understand that he is surrounded by enemies and oligarchs.”

“Some say that the people has been stupefied by government propaganda, infected by chauvinism and kvas patriotism and nostalgia for the USSR,” he says.  “Nothing of the sort! Our people once again are filled with skepticism and approach with care to the declarations of politicians and rhetoric of journalists and understand perfectly the society in which they live.”

Tragically, our intelligentsia is not on the side of the toiling masses but rather “on the well-groomed American and European politicians who have turned Ukraine into a hotbed of fascism.” And they have done so too boost themselves above the people whom they “secretly or even overtly hate” because they consider it hopelessly backward.

That leads the intelligentsia to “kowtow before the West.” And it means that the people and the powers in Russia must recognize them as enemies and turn from them once again.

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