Is it not true that any government will react to what it conceives to be a threat? The sophistication of that reaction may vary, but when a system considers itself threatened by a person, organisation or concept, it is they who will have to suffer the consequences. If you disagree with this, I suggest you stop reading because this article ain’t getting any prettier.
I know in my heart of hearts that the Russian government does things that are wrong. Certainly, I could say that for any other government the world over. Likewise, I condemn those wrong-doings. That is how I was raised – if you see something that is wrong, challenge it. This parenting principle is in no way different to the state’s actions when they perceive of a threat.
It is also an universal truth that if you support something that is based (in theory) on principles you share and that aspires (at least in its declarations) to create a system you are committed to, then you are prone to justify its actions. With that let me move on as to why the attacking and condemning of Russia recently is, to be quite blunt, getting a little old now.
I say this with no great pleasure, but Westerners cannot begin to even start thinking about things ordinary Russians might actually care about. Their attention span stops with the Russian state and as far as they are concerned, this is all that matters. No distinction in their mind is necessary – Russia is bad and they ‘know’ it, despite never having been. The middle aged working class men down the pub on Saturday watching the football ‘know’ immigration is too high, they cannot explain why. Brits ‘knew’ the European Union was bad even though they could not explain how it functioned.
Let me put these two questions to you: If the majority of citizens in a country support a law, does that make it just? Also, do laws exist to be obeyed? If the answer you arrived at is yes, you are home free. If the answer you reached is yes, then any law whether it is banning anti-Soviet propaganda, legalising domestic violence or banning ‘gay propaganda’ is totally legitimate.
As I opened this piece by saying, I believe these things to be wrong. Yet unlike many of my peers in the West, I talk and interact with Russians on a daily basis. In fact, I have discussed these at length in many kitchens and bars whilst getting shitfaced. Often to no avail, but the drinking has nothing to do with it.
What many of my peers and people reading this may also argue on a daily basis as far as their own countries are concerned is that the will of the people must be respected, and that any threats should be quelled. With this, I completely agree.
Today in the UK, we are currently dealing with Brexit. Depending on how you define ‘majority’, then the majority backed Brexit, and so it will happen. That’s fair, right? Still, the side who won hates being constructively criticised over their handling of Brexit, and bash those who lost about not accepting the result. All the while knowing that had the result gone the other way, they would have never taken defeat lightly.
As such, as far as we and our system is concerned, this is how it should be. Yet nobody ever wants to consider that other non-Western countries might think a little differently. In fact, never mind non-Western countries. We even cannot disagree fairly amongst ourselves, so perhaps my hopes for Russia are unfair for the time being.
Take some British university campuses. I have seen this first hand – if a person says they are not a feminist, it is often the equivalent of farting in Jesus’ face. They will ask how on earth, in 2017, could any person not be a feminist? I suppose the answer to this question is ‘in the same way that someone who is not a capitalist can justify spending a fortune OnAniPad’. Not being a feminist does not mean a person is anti-women’s rights any more than supporting Brexit was confined to the political right. However, some people will not listen to this and explain it away as bigotry.
Back to Russia and on Westerners not wanting to comprehend the Russian mentality, this includes the staunch pride coupled with a siege mentality. It is we (Russia) who triumphed against all the odds, with a dragon-like ruler, surrounded by our enemies and attacked by our foes. I would advise never to doubt the overwhelming support people would give to even the most Draconian law aimed at anyone slandering their country. I can think of some in the UK who also match this description. Yet, this is Russia and we ‘know’ it is bad yet when comparisons smack us in the face we cannot justify why.
That leads me to my final point about the hypocrisy in saving the outrage industrial complex for Russia. Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, last weekend attended a gay pride event. Did anyone there think to ask him why he is selling weapons to Saudi Arabia? Like hell they did. If Russia curbed the internet as Ukraine has, the level of uproar would be enormous and ‘proof’ of our ‘knowledge’ that Russia is ‘bad’. For some reason, the West is silent over Ukraine.
Attacking Russia in the way the West currently does takes no special skill set, courage or any degree of intelligence. The rationalisation of it is rather confused. I am not arguing it is not well intended or wrong, but either the method or nature of it has to change. If for no other reason, for countries who claim to be liberal, the attacks on Russia actually amount to the opposite of what traditional liberalism is. In other words, it is hypocritical.
If you got to the end of this piece and are now overflowing with rage, thank you for selling my point. You cannot claim to be open-minded if Russia is the exception to your rules that disregard every other exception.