Russia’s Right Turn

An unfortunate legacy of the Cold War is the negative attitude some American conservatives yet harbor toward Russia. Conditioned for decades to see Russia and the Soviet Union as synonymous, they still view post-communist Russia as a threat. They forget that Tsarist Russia was the most conservative great power, a bastion of Christian monarchy loathed by revolutionaries, Jacobins, and democrats. Joseph de Maistre was not alone among 19th-century conservatives in finding refuge and hope in Russia.

Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is emerging once more as the leading conservative power. As we witnessed in Russia’s rescue of President Obama from the corner into which he had painted himself on Syria, the Kremlin is today, as the New York Times reports, “Establishing Russia’s role in world affairs not based on the dated Cold War paradigm but rather on its different outlook, which favors state sovereignty and status quo stability over the spread of Western-style democracy.”

In his own Times op-ed on Syria, Putin wrote, “It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it.” Sen. Robert A. Taft and Russell Kirk also doubted it.

Moscow appears to understand better than Washington that the driving foreign-policy requirement of the 21st century is the preservation of the state in the face of Fourth Generation war waged by non-state entities, such as those fighting on the rebels’ side in Syria. Russia has rightly upbraided Washington for destroying states, including Iraq and Libya.

When Putin came to power following the chaotic Yeltsin years, there was a real possibility the Russian state itself would disintegrate. Putin’s greatest achievement, and the reason for his popularity within the country, is that he saved and strengthened the Russian state instead. Blinded by their worship of the clay god “Democracy,” Washington elites cannot perceive the importance of what Putin did, but conservatives should. Russia can be an effective ally against Fourth Generation entities, and conservatives prefer states to stateless anarchy. Russia’s new-old conservatism is evident not only in its foreign policy but at home as well. In September the Financial Times reported:

Vladimir Putin called on Russians to strengthen a new national identity based on conservative and traditional values such as the Orthodox church yesterday, warning that the west was facing a moral crisis. … Mr. Putin said Russia should avoid the example of European countries that were ‘going away from their roots’ by legalizing gay marriage and excessive ‘political correctness.’

Vladimir Putin speaks to the participants of 'Valdai' International Discussion Club,  September 19, 2013. Photo: Reuters
Vladimir Putin speaks to the participants of ‘Valdai’ International Discussion Club, September 19, 2013. Photo: Reuters

“People in many European countries are ashamed and are afraid of talking about their religious convictions,” Putin is quoted as saying, with religious holidays “being taken away or called something else, shamefully hiding the essence of the holiday.”

We need to respect the rights of minorities to be different,” he added, “but the rights of the majority should not be in question.” American conservatives can only dream of an American president saying such things. Should we not cheer a Russian president who dares to defy “political correctness?”

The world has turned upside down. America, condemning and even attacking other countries to push “democracy” and Jacobinical definitions of human rights, is becoming the leader of the international Left. Russia is reasserting her historic role as leader of the international Right. This is a reversal of historic importance. American foreign policy should be based on America’s interests, not on affinity for any foreign power. But putting America first does not require being hostile to Russia or anyone else. On the contrary: American conservatives should welcome the resurgence of a conservative Russia.

William S. Lind is director of the American Conservative Center for Public Transportation. 

Source: The American Conservative


World Russian People’s Council's DECLARATION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND DIGNITY, adopted in 2006.
World Russian People’s Council’s DECLARATION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND DIGNITY, adopted in 2006 (PDF)


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  1. TO: William S. LIND
    You are also deliberately misreading the majority of Russians’s own views of the revolutionary era. The greatest achievement of Russia happened during the 20th century- and under the rule of the Soviet Union. This is a fact which you do not wish to address because you are a victim of anti-communist fallacies. Yes the communists in Russia were guilty of many crimes. However, a return to the highly oppressive and deeply reactionary Tsarist Russia is a thing of the past! Russia of course can make use of historic references of the Tsarist era but the modern Russia cannot return to the values of the feudal past. Today, Russia is suffering from economic inequalities which came with the fall of the CCCP and if these social and economic equalities are not addressed I fear for the future of Russia.
    I despise the oligarchs and- it is a fact that members of new oligarchs may wish to hide their massive wealth by focusing the people’s attention to religious matters. Putin is too clever to endorse the legitimacy of the emerging highly stratified class society in Russia.

  2. @Karen,
    Otherwise, Mr.Lind has expressed the authentic Russian mission to safeguard conservative, traditional and morality-focused ideals in the world.
    The Soviet period was extremely ambivalent and cannot be regarded as an indisputable heyday of the Russian civilization or merely tragic dark age. But one thing is certain: the Russian people paid dearly for its treason of the sovereign Tsarist dynasty. Civil war and the Red Terror of 1918-1925 was the most bloody and horrific period in the Russian history. Only after the expulsion of Leon Trotsky the bolshevic bosses started slowly returning to the national track. The most inspiring time has likely occured between the great victory over Nazi Germany in 1945 and the death (apparent assassination) of Joseph Stalin in 1953 when the foundations for further brilliant Soviet achievements in science and technology were laid. However the Communist ruling class was irrepresibly rotting since 1953, a process that culminated in the figure of Gorbachev who collapsed USSR.
    Today’s Russia is returning to its historical track which is based on traditions of 1000+ years of heroic development and defense of the largest domains on this planet. We can’t disclaim any deeds of our ancestors. But we can judge them from the moral standpoint and consider soberly the results of everyone’s rule. Putin and the Russians want to reconcile themselves to its past.
    Thank you so much for commenting, Karen! :)

  3. I must say that the protection of traditional values of the Tsarist era- in the new Post- Soviet Russia- include the return of deeply disturbing trend of the worship of material wealth and apparent prevalence of widening economic inequality. I find it not so funny that historical revisionism of the Soviet Union is seen as a good thing when it is done by the Tsarist revisionists- which in reality reinforces Western anti-Soviet revisionism- but it is not ok when it is done by the anti-Russian western revisionists! I can clearly see a link between these two forms of historical revisionism . I would like to wait and see how the Oriental Review responds the next time a TV channel or West authors seeks to question the validity of the Soviet Union’s heroic victories over fascists forces. It is not so secrete whilst playing up nostalgia for the Tsarist era traditional values at home, when it comes to making friends and trade partners in Latin America, Africa and Asia, Russia plays up the brotherly values of the Soviet Union toward the rest of the world! So clearly we can see the Soviet Union’s universal appeal and respect in the global south is helping today’s Russia make friends and trade partners in the global south. It is my strongest believe that making an alliance with the American conservatism- which includes also believe in Biblical Creation mythologies and racial polygyny – Russia can easily become another US. Southern region- a land populated by anti-socialists who would and will attack moral values of public funded healthcare and education.

  4. Carl Barks

    The threat is not that a relatively small homosexual demographic can undermine a nation’s stability, but that the corporate media is aggressively pushing the gay agenda as a distraction from far more important issues that would undermine their corporate hegemony: extreme wealth inequality, environmental destruction, food sovereignty and militarisation of law enforcement, to name just some of the more significant issues that need to be addressed by cowardly politicians and media alike.

    Thus in the secularised 21st century, gay rights, and identity politics in general, is the new opium of the people.

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