Opposition to/Criticism of Putin is not "Russophobia"

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Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture
Opposition to/Criticism of Putin is not "Russophobia"

Obviously, it's never justified to "hate" or "fear" an entire country.

Obviously, it's absurd to see the current Russian regime, as it is absurd to see the current regime of any country on the planet other than the foreign policy/economic policy consensus in the U.S., as singularly evil or singularly dangerous.

That said, it is legitimate to openly critique or oppose the actions of a particular regime, and to critique the head of state/head of government of that particular regime, if you feel the actions of that regime or that figure are reactionary, repressive, bigoted, or involve an unnecessary emphasis on the use of military force.

There is a massive difference between speaking out about the Putin regime for the reasons former U.S. president Obama, former U.S. Secretary of State Clinton, or the current British prime minister do, on the one hand, and the reasons Pussy Riot, the Russian LGBTQ community, or the independent, non-CP Left within Russia do so.

And it's entirely possible to honor the valour of the Red Army/partisan troops in the defense of Stalingrad without validating any of the current military/diplomatic choices Mr. Putin makes, and without buying into the argument that Putin's international actions are in some way "anti-imperialist", and without falling into the trap of accepting that his extremely homophobic social policies and his ridiculously paranoid restrictions of dissent are the eggs which must be broken to make this breakfast's omelet.

I hope everyone here can accept the distinctions I'm making on this subject.  Would be interested in hearing any critique anyone has to offer on what I've posted above.

6079_Smith_W

I think the narrative (that is if someone doesn't want to dismiss you as a Russian hater, but just as misguided.) is to say that we shouldn't be paying attention to that as it isn't our business and we should be putting our focus on fighting Western Imperialism.

Have I got that right?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Russia's a world power, and has been for some time.  So accusations of "Russophobia!!!" carry the same urgency and moral imperative as accusations of "reverse racism!!!"

Still, tears over "Russophobia" make up about 10% of babble's contribution to the progressive discussion, so I guess it is what it is, or whatever.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:
I think the narrative (that is if someone doesn't want to dismiss you as a Russian hater, but just as misguided.) is to say that we shouldn't be paying attention to that as it isn't our business and we should be putting our focus on fighting Western Imperialism. Have I got that right?
 

That's an oversimplified version of it.  We SHOULD be focused on fighting Western Imperialism-and, in all liklihod, there's never going to be a justified use of Western military force for the remainder of human history-but it's not a contradiction to both condemn the bad things Putin's regime does AND point out that the actions of said regime are far from the most dangerous things in happening globally today.

Where Putin is repressive, reactionary, bigoted, paranoid, it is always valid to critique that.  It's not a choice between an the idea that Putin is the new Great Enemy, on the one hand, OR the belief that any critical comments about what Putin does are some how aid and comfort to the Imperial cause and therefore that any critique of his actions must be denounced in the name of "anti-imperialism". Pussy Riot, Peter Tatchell and Boris Kagarlitsky are not indistinguishable from the U.S. State Department. 

And most importantly of all, There's a massive difference between criticism of the current Russian head of state, and even of the Russian government, on the one hand, and hatred or fear of Russia as a country.