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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Exploring Russian Westophobia

The Gates of Vienna blog offers the following analysis from a Russian of Russia's fundamentally anti-Western nature:

Moscow soldiersI am originally from Russia and I have been always asking such questions of myself: what is the reason for the alienation of Russia from the West? This alienation is seen clearly on both sides. For example, the traditional criticism of the Russian Empire as a despotic regime is based on left-wing liberal opinions, originating from the French revolution, which Russia opposed.

On the other hand, a strong anti-Western sentiment in Russia started after the Russian socialist revolution in 1917. Thus, the first explanation is that socialists always hate each other. At the same time they are ready to embrace Muslims, if they think they can gain from it. Already Lenin, in one of his latest papers, suggested an alliance with Muslims against Europe, after he was disappointed with Europe’s failure to support revolution.

However, there is a much older anti-Western element in Russia, and it comes from eastern Christianity. Orthodox Christianity has always considered itself as the only true Christianity, never ever admitted its own mistakes, and blamed it all on the West (sounds familiar, eh?). It was always associated with the Empire rather than with Biblical tradition. For example, the Russian church does not recommend reading the Bible, because too much in it is about the Jews. Russians rather call themselves “orthodoxes” than Christians, which shows that they actually consider themselves to be a kind of special religion. Thus they miss another common issue with the West.

3 comments:

Snake Oil Baron said...

That is interesting. Russia does seem like it should be a "European" nation. I wonder if it stems from the fear of the Mongols who seem to have "created" Russia via conquest? Maybe the idea of a strong neighboring power taking control is still a point of fear. Or maybe my lack of knowledge about Russian history is making me see things.

At any rate, I don't know if I am convinced that the orthodox tradition is to blame or not. Not that I am a great fan of Orthodox Christianity or other branches of religion.

I also am torn between the Russophobe perspective and that expressed by Natan Sharansky; that while things are bad in Russia today, they are still somewhat better than during the Soviet Union and that people get used to living at a level of freedom and so Putin will not be able to reverse that as easily as he may think.

What is the Russian blogosphere like (non English)? Are Russians able to discuss what is going on in Russia in a manner that might affect the next election?

La Russophobe said...

Hi SOB,

Thanks for the comment!

If you'd like to read about what life is like in the Russian blogosphere, we suggest checking this out:

http://lrtranslations.blogspot.com/2007/02/putin-his-kgb-and-control-of-internet.html

After that, bear in mind that the average wage in Russia is $2.50 per hour, so most folks have no routine access to the Internet and it's a pretty minor force even when it is't being suppressed. The Kremlin has seized control of all the TV news broadcasts, which is where the vast majority of Russians get their information, and it has destroyed all significant opposition political parties whilst abolishing local elections (the Kremlin now appoints Russia's governors).

La Russophobe said...

Also, check out this from Robert Amsterdam:

http://www.robertamsterdam.com/2007/03/putin_tightens_control_over_in.htm