The Madness of President Putin

Good info. to help you understand what is going on between Russia, USA, EU, and Ukraine.

Found at: Club Orlov

Juliette Bates

[Many thanks to Max who helped put this together.]

Of all the various interpretations Western leaders and commentators have offered for why the president of the Russian Federation has responded the way he has to the events in Ukraine over the course of February and March of 2014—in refusing to acquiesce to the installation of a neo-fascist regime in Kiev, and in upholding the right of Crimea to self-determination—the most striking and illuminating interpretation is that he has gone mad. Striking and illuminating, that is, something in the West itself.

In times past, the international landscape reflected a multipolar order, a multiplicity of competing ideologies, alternative schemes of social and economic organization. Back then the actions of another country could be understood in terms of its alternative ideology. Even extreme figures—Stalin, Hitler, Idi Amin, Pol Pot—calling them crazy was an example of hyperbole, an intensified way of describing the brazenness with which they pursued their rationally set political goals. But when Chancellor Angela Merkel asks whether Putin is living “in another world,” echoing a theme in the narrative presented by Western media, the question seems to imply something quite literal.

We question someone’s sanity when we cannot explain their behavior or logic based on a common understanding of consensual reality. They become utterly unpredictable to us, capable of carrying on a normal conversation one moment and lunging at our throats the next. Their actions appear rash and disordered, as if they inhabit a world parallel to but completely different from the one we do. Putin is portrayed as a fiend, and the West acts baffled and scared. The feigned shock with which the West looks on at the developments in Crimea could be seen as a tactic designed to isolate and intimidate Vladimir Putin. The fact that this tactic is not only not working but actually backfiring changes feigned shock into real shock: Western meds aren’t working any more—on itself or anyone else.

The West—that is, the United States and the European Union—have played the role of chief psychiatrist in the world insane asylum ever since the USSR fell apart. Prior to 1990 the world was neatly carved up into two competing ideologies locked in a nuclear standoff. But then Mikhail Gorbachev capitulated. He was a champion of “common human values” and wanted to resolve the superpower conflict peacefully, by combining the best of both systems (all the humanistic victories of Soviet socialism plus all the seductive, consumerist prosperity of American capitalism).

But in effect Gorbachev capitulated; the USSR was dismembered and, over the course of the 1990s, Russia itself came close to being destroyed and dismembered. Although in the West, where he is still a popular figure, Gorbachev is credited with orchestrating a peaceful dissolution of the USSR, the chaotic aftermath of the collapse of the USSR was an extremely traumatic event, with massive loss of life. When Putin calls the collapse of the USSR “the largest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” he echoes the feelings of many Russians—who, by the way, like to call Gorbachev “Mishka mécheny” (“Mickey the marked”—marked by the devil, that is.)

During the post-collapse period Russia could offer no competing ideology. In fact, it had no ideology at all, except for an implant of Western liberalism which, given a lack of a viable legal framework or traditions of private property and civil society, quickly turned into a particularly brutal brand of gangsterism. But then Putin came along and, using his experience in the KGB and connections with other post-Soviet “power ministeries,” he crafted a new order, which first decimated and either supplanted or absorbed the gangsters, and then imposed what Putin has termed “the dictatorship of the law.” This is the first important piece of the new Russian ideology: law matters and nobody can be above it—not even the United States. Read More

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One Response to The Madness of President Putin

  1. Veritas says:

    When you focused on criminals, shady government types, and assorted mutants I thought you were referring to the USG. I can see how one could make a mistake as Putin is organized while the USG under Comrade Obama hasn’t the skill, experience or IQ of any of the three stooges.

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