Wokeness, Russia. Are they not both decadent?

Wokeness, Russia. Are they not both decadent? By Rod Dreher.

A reader pointed me to this deeply informative interview with Russia scholar Stephen Kotkin, conducted by the New Yorker‘s David Remnick. Kotkin is one of the most informed Russia experts in the world. …

Kotkin takes the view that NATO’s expansion did not trigger Russian hostility, but rather that Russia is just reverting to historical type: an militaristic, expansionist autocracy trying to expand, and, because weaker than it thinks, biting off more than it can chew.

Kotkin cautions that nobody really knows what is going on in Putin’s mind, because he is so self-isolated, but it seems clear now that he did not expect the Ukrainians to resist as they have.

Zelensky, says Kotkin, was a weak leader who had only 25 percent approval at the moment of invasion because he couldn’t govern. But now his approval rating is at 91 percent because he has shown himself to be very brave. Kotkin makes an important point that it is not very good to have a TV actor and his crew running your country in peacetime, but in this kind of war, it’s a secret weapon.

Nevertheless, says Kotkin, Ukraine is winning the war only on Twitter. In reality, it’s losing. As a military veteran pointed out to me last week, the US needed three weeks to take Baghdad. Wars don’t run on TV schedules. There’s no doubt that Russia can conquer Ukraine in war if it wants to, says Kotkin, but there is every doubt that it can keep the peace. The Ukrainians will make it impossible to occupy. …

Financial sanctions are double-edged for dissidents from the narrative:

I watch the crushing economic pain the West is bringing to Russia to punish it for its Ukraine invasion, and I think on the one hand good, Putin deserves it, but on the other hand recognize that the same force will be brought down eventually on people who believe the things that I do.

Putin is anti-narrative in the culture war, so it’s a shame he had to go and invade Ukraine:

Some on the Right have seen in Putin a counter-example to Western decadence — this, because he promotes religion, and stands against wokeness (e.g., “antiracism,” gender ideology). I get the temptation, and I have praised Putin in this space before for things he has said about wokeness. Some things are true even if Vladimir Putin says them.

That said, you don’t measure decadence only by whether or not a leader says the right things about religion, family, and sexual morality. As Kotkin points out, Putin created an economic and political system that does not operate in a strong, healthy way. It is despotic and exploitative. Nobody looks to Russia and thinks, “That’s a great model for how to run a country and a society.” It is decadent. Putin has tried to shore up the Russian Orthodox Church in part to fight the deep decadence in his country that was the result of seven decades of Bolshevik demoralization of the peoples. But he has doubled down on a different kind of decadence. …

The likelihood that American liberals will take Putin as a proxy for all the conservatives they don’t like at home is quite high. They will use the Ukraine war, and the West’s response, as a reason to ramp up the culture war against dissident conservatives at home.

Last week, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to cut off funds to Poland and Hungary over so-called “rule of law” violations, including failing to be sufficiently woke on LGBT issues. It’s an incredible thing: both countries are on the front lines of the refugee crisis, having taken in over a million fleeing Ukrainians. You would think that maintaining European solidarity in the face of a warmongering Russia would take pre-eminence over everything else. Wrong. The EU is going to find a way to punish the populist governments of Poland and Hungary, no matter what — even in a time of war. …

The woke ruling class in the US have something important in common with Putin — shutting up their critics. Nor will they let this crisis go to waste:

If the loss of the ability to speak freely without fear of repercussions in terms of job loss or in some other way being made a pariah is a sign of decadence, then yes, we Americans are decadent. Putin is decadent because he has to rely on force to suppress dissident opinion. We too are decadent because our ruling class no longer believes in the fundamental liberal values that makes the West, especially the United States, exceptional. …

Liberals and progressives in charge of institutions will use Putin’s evil war as a pretext to advance their own culture war on traditional Christians and anti-woke dissidents. …

Are your borders worth defending?

Europe, the core of Western civilization, has over the past few decades opened its doors to migrants from other civilizations. Many European nations — Hungary and Poland are notable exceptions — have lost the will to defend themselves.

I had [dinner] with a Western European academic who took a big salary cut to move with his wife and kids to Poland, where they felt more secure. He told me about how Muslim immigration had all but destroyed his home city, largely because the ruling class there refused to take a stand against the violent aggression of these immigrants. When the adult son of a local imam called on social media for the murder of Jews and Christians, and nobody stood up to it, he and his wife decided it was time to leave. …

The media in western European countries deliberately downplay these stories, because they don’t fit the multicultural globalist narrative.

Is that not decadence? Being unwilling to defend your borders and your people?

Sigh.