The Russian Moment
To summarize the events of the past month as beneficial to Russia's geopolitical objectives would be a gross understatement. In fact, it was nothing short of perhaps the best month that the Putin administration has experienced.
In one of the most stunning upsets in history, maverick Donald Trump secured victory over Hillary Clinton in the United States presidential election. This signals a seismic shift in US foreign policy away from the role of 'world police' and towards a more inward-looking, pragmatically self-interested worldview, something which Russia can very easily negotiate with as it is planted firmly in the realist tradition. In addition, Bulgaria and Moldova both elected presidents which are unlikely to be hostile to Moscow. Just recently, one can add to the list of positive events the collapse of the Renzi government in Italy, and the nomination of François Fillon to the UMP presidential ticket in France. Slowly but surely, the resolve behind the provocative sanction campaign against Russia, spearheaded initially by the UK and Germany, is collapsing.
Further afield, there was even brighter news. Negotiations with OPEC seem to have found a way out of the oil market slump, and even neoliberal 'news outlets' seem to be in the acceptance stage of grief for the lost cause of overthrowing the Syrian government. It appears that WWIII may have been averted.
Noting the significance of the above-mentioned events is easy enough, but capitalizing on them is another matter. Since the end of the Cold War, Russia's role has been in question. It is unclear exactly what its self-image is, and what course it has the will to chart in the wake of finally kicking out foreign agents of sabotage and control after the 1990s. Since that time, under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, Russia has been a regional actor behaving in such ways as to secure its sovereignty. This is why it intervened in Georgia, Crimea, and indeed in Syria. All were integral to Russian regional security, or to the idea of defending ethnic Russians trapped across post-Soviet borders.
Despite what some may call acts of 'provocation', the Russian Federation has never infringed upon other sovereign states where it has not been baited into doing so by foreign meddling with the status quo. Russia has no Iraq War to its name. This has been hugely beneficial for improving the country's international standing, to the point where the dominant narrative out of Syria has been that Putin has tried to keep the peace, while the US State Department has demanded war, and the facts bear this out. But it is not enough simply to be perceived as a state without malevolent intent. This alone will only ensure international indifference.
In the last century, Russia managed to secure international support for its goals through ideological means, the active spread of Communist programs and the export of revolution to other countries around the world. Russia's supposed purpose was the liberation of the proletariat from the dominion of capitalist oppression. The ideological illusions of such an era have since melted away, their foundations proven unsuitable. Russia can no longer be defined by ideology, for ideology pushed abroad only fosters resentment in peoples to whom it is alien to their character (hence why an aversion to the country is still strong in certain quarters of Eastern Europe).
Instead, Russia should base any ideological considerations around one core objective: the destruction of Liberalism.
The reason for this being the single-minded purpose of Russia is clear. Liberalism entails by necessity the destruction of the Russian man, just as much as it entailed the destruction of the German man, the French man, the Swedish man, etc. Liberalism can never live at peace with Russia unless it guarantees that Russians are put on the same path as the aforementioned populations, that not only do they continue to suffer from the various social problems which afflict the citizenry, but on top of this they become soft and weak, tolerant of the worst elements within themselves and worse still, promoters of such elements to the highest stations. Liberalism will never be satisfied with simply 'containing' Russia, its goal is to 'change' Russia, which of course entails the disintegration of the Russian geographical space and the reduction of its ruling population to the role of a convenient domicile for the 'spirit of the age'. For as long as Liberalism exists, it is an existential threat to Russia, which was recognized in earlier times by the Tsarist response to Revolutionary France.
If Russia is a counterpoint to Liberalism, if it has the resources and self-confidence to re-assume this identity in the fullest sense, then we are on the precipice of a 'Russian moment', and by that I mean a period in which Russia dramatically alters the course of history. Europe has reached an apex of crisis, where at least some portion of native populations are waking up to the fact that they are being slowly boiled alive by unwanted demographic change, secular atomization, corporate control, and elite corruption. They want off the rollercoaster, but for now the forces of the political establishment are managing to keep them seated, as we saw in the recent Austrian election. Certain commentators have been eager to assert that the 'populist spring' erupting worldwide is the result of the 2008 recession, and is due to wear off, however these wishful thinkers do not understand the anxieties underlying the support for candidates like Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini, which are rooted in more complex issues of identity rather than economics. Supporting these Traditional identities is of vital interest to Russia, just as much as opposing artifical identities is.
The answer to why these identities benefit Russia lies in their embryonic rejection of the Liberal paradigm. If Liberalism is indeed an existential threat to Russia, then by logic alone it follows that Russia would prefer to have illiberal states along its borders, states that reflected Belarus more than they reflected Canada. It has been stated many times that even a hint of a neo-colonial agenda in Moscow would doom such a project of outreach, and that is why the West is so eager to sound the alarms about the incipient invasion of Poland which will never happen. If Moscow is instead seen as a friend to the cause of identity, rootedness, something of a higher value than the merely material, then she surely stands to gain when desperation in Europe overrides its sense of comfort.
The establishment of a natural geopolitical phenomena, a Moscow-Berlin-Paris axis based on sovereignty, identity, realist continentalism, and Traditional Christian values (I say 'Traditional' to distinguish these from bourgeois pseudo-Christianity) would provide Russia with its necessary security, but more importantly could be achieved without the evils of occupation and without the threat of nuclear war.
All it would require would be for Europeans to reject Atlanticism and so-called 'Western' values out of desperation. Of course, we cannot rely on argumentation to achieve positive ends. Argumentation has been tried by the finest minds of the last 300 years and failed. It is desperation which will furnish the rise of virtuous men who will make common cause with a rejuvinated Russia, and the entropy of present dynamics at play in Western society guarantee such desperation in the near future.
When we consider what a Russian moment would really mean, we are asking to what extent and in what form Russia can be the model for a certain outlook, rather than a specific type of society or political/economic ideology. The internal problems of the Russian state render only the former a possibility. Even discounting the work of aggressive foreign powers and non-governmental organizations, there are real faults in Russian society at large, from abortion rates to petty crime, infrastructure problems to single-commodity economics. People who are misty-eyed about such things will not only be disappointed, but will miss the element of Russia which is easily transferable to Europe, and this is outlook; An outlook that is anchored in self-understanding, celebration of national history, and most importantly a vision of progress that isn't necessarily chained to riches, tolerance, freedom, or 'the end of history', but to the heroic beauty of Greco-Roman civilization, and the ascetic purity of Christian teaching. These things every European can identify with once the muck of Kant and Rousseau is washed from their eyes by the cold hard reality of political pedophile rings, ceaseless terrorism, family breakdown, and the destruction of culture. The Russian moment hinges upon whether it can be a clear model for such an outlook. At present, she is succeeding, and events around the world are paving the way for Russia to reap the rich and bountiful harvest that comes with being at the forefront of a global paradigmatic shift. Whether she continues down this road will be ultimately down to her leadership, and perhaps more importantly those who help shape the narrative, direction, and attitude of that leadership
Throughout history, it is incumbent upon neighbors to understand one another, but the problem with the present east/west split is that it is not simply a division of ethnicity, culture, religion, or even political philosophy. It is a division of outlook, a gulf that no exchange of treaties can bridge. Russia cannot understand the West, and the West certainly cannot understand Russia. They have moved apart decisively, especially within the last 300 years, and this is because the West lost sight of itself, lost its foundation in the peoples who made it, replacing them with ideologies, one after the other, pale shadows of Medieval Christendom and the Roman Empire. If there is to be any peace or security for the long-suffering Russian people and their counterparts in Western countries, then this gulf of outlook must be closed, something which can only be achieved by ending the 'Modern West', and Modernism itself, as existing paradigms. With true Europe, with a Europe of land rather than sea, Russia must seek mutual respect, friendship, and common interest. With false Europe, and the ideological conviction that underpins it, namely: Liberalism, Russia is forced to pursue endless and pitiless war.