by Dmitry Orlov, posted with permission of the author
An ultimately very healthy but in the meantime very unpleasant realization is gradually dawning in West—an insight that is simply shocking, that fundamentally alters their picture of the world: that the stronger becomes the hurricane of woke transformations that is raging there, the more attractive Russia becomes for hundreds of millions of Europeans and Americans. What is Russia’s most powerful weapon? Is it nuclear? Is it hypersonic (or “hydrosonic,” as per Trump)? Cybermagic, perhaps? No, Russia’s most powerful weapon is its values. And it grows stronger and more dangerous every day, in direct proportion to the intensifying fire of multiculturalism and political correctness that is raging in Europe and in America.
A recent article in The National Interest summarized various American authors who claim that the Kremlin is gradually developing its strategy of soft power and using it to successfully fight the West, splitting it and undermining it from within. What is the cause of their paranoid hysteria? Could it be that they have accidentally discovered who their true enemy is, and that it is… they themselves?
The simplest and most effective way to knock a geopolitical adversary out of the game is to impose on it a system of values that will split its society and lead the most active part of its population to occupy public buildings, to erect barricades and to support a pretender to the throne that is immediately given support and recognition by the country’s enemies. This is how all color revolutions of the late 20th and the early 21st centuries have been done: broadcast some propaganda, recruit some activists, help them to organize, provide some clandestine financial support, and then at some point this human mass, confident in their strength and their righteousness, surges through the police barriers and goes on to create history by overthrowing some faux-democrat petty tyrant, clearing the path for the next faux-democrat petty tyrant to be installed, with the country growing weaker, poorer and more disordered with each iteration. The process starts with the conversion of some significant part of the target population to “universal human values” with secular proselytizing of the “one true democratic faith.”
To the extent that this could be called a game, the West had a huge head start in it. The tools for fighting the “evil empire” have been honed for half a century. In the course of fighting the Cold War, radio stations, foundations, newspapers and magazines, parties and communities, publishing houses and TV channels have been created. Virtually all of them were then repurposed from fighting against the USSR to fighting against Russia. Collapse of the USSR, it was foolishly thought, was but a first step toward destroying Russia and absconding with its crude oil, natural gas, metal ores, fertile farmland and other natural treasures. And then, just in time, new, internet-based forms of influence appeared, completely controlled from America. For a time, the combination of a huge head start and the newly weaponized internet technologies seemed overwhelming.
But then something miraculous took place.
For a long time the USSR struggled mightily to propagandize socialist ideas in the United States and in Western Europe—to no avail. In the US, from its inception as a quintessential pirate colony, centuries of being conditioned to think that good persons are good by virtue of having goodly quantities of bounty and loot in their coffers has rendered people immune to socialist values. Meanwhile, Europe—its western half after the defeat of Nazism and in its eastern after the demise of Soviet communism—have been reduced to American satrapies where American propaganda reigns supreme and ceaselessly paints Russia as backward, corrupt, despotic and generally evil. No amount of broadcasting by Russia Today and no amount of toil by Russian internet trolls would ever be able to reprogram the consciousness of a Western person. But then suddenly Russia was awarded the supreme prize, giving it attractiveness, charm and influence no one could have dreamed of.
What has suddenly transformed the situation was mass insanity into which the West has been plunged. This group madness has destroyed much of what is infinitely dear to a very significant, if not overwhelming, part of Western civilization. Those conditional “conservatives”—normal people who do not want to be forced to be ashamed of their skin color, heterosexuality, respect for religion, generally accepted morality, and so on, are now humiliated, discriminated against and persecuted by the newest crop of toxic lefties.
Here is a lovely quote from an article in the Daily Beast: “…The Kremlin intends to attract Western converts with… bigotry—turning Russia into the land of ultimate political incorrectness, the world’s anti-woke capital.” Never mind the spurious claim of Kremlin’s intent to make Russia attractive; that is akin to blaming a beauty pageant contestant for being beautiful. Never mind the spurious claim of bigotry when it comes to opposing the West’s gender dysphoria and other psychiatric symptoms; there is a perfectly valid counterclaim of a society-wide psychiatric disorder that has plenty of biological science to back it up. What’s important is that the world has flipped to its mirror image: no longer is the United States “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” Russia now is, in the eyes of the Americans themselves! No longer is it Ivan sighing enviously while dreaming of American blue jeans, Coca-Cola and rock-and-roll; it is John who is wildly jealous of the absence of black-on-white racism, dumbed-down high school curricula, laughable yet lethal accusations of sexual harassment and a rainbow of public toilets.
Russia itself could never have achieved such a high level of attractiveness merely by using its propaganda machinery (all one and a half TV channels of it). It arose by itself when traditional (i.e., white heterosexual Christian) Europeans and Americans began to compare the surrounding Bedlam with Russia’s naturalness and orderliness. And then there spontaneously arose in them a very simple feeling: to hell with past grievances; it is the future which we must make livable for ourselves and our children. In the past, Russia was an adversary, but that past ended thirty years ago, and in the present Russia is safe, secure and happier than ever while we are burning in Hell and have no idea what to do about it. But at least we have Russia to hold up as a positive example.
It must also be understood that there are no other candidates for this role. There is no LGBT insanity, sexual harassment mania or violent reverse racism in North Korea, or Iran, or Saudi Arabia, or China, but these examples are all far too exotic and come with toxic baggage of their own. What the persecuted white Western Christian conservative heterosexual male needs is a normal European country, full of white people, comfortable for living in, but without any of the things he hates. What other options are there? It is not a competition if there is just one contestant.
And thus we have come to the point where Russia—in all seriousness and without any irony or puffery whatsoever, really—has become the light of the world, a shining city set upon a hill, a beacon of hope, a bastion of righteousness and free spirit and the symbol of a truly free world. This is an almost magical transformation: it was able to win this exalted status outright without even playing the game. It did the barest minimum in standing its ground and in preventing a smallish faction of foreign-controlled traitors and fools from destroying their country. Theirs has remained a wholesome world of brave, masculine men, of attractive, feminine women and of their above-average, non-gender-confused children. In their world, rewards and privileges are based on merit, corrupt politicians and businessmen spend years in jail, and respect for traditional ethics and religious faith is mandatory. In their world, all of history is permanently theirs: none of it will ever be forgotten, falsified or erased—all thousand-plus years of it, including life under the Golden Horde, the serfdom, great victories of the Russian Empire, the revolutionary terror, collectivization, Stalin’s purges, the defeat of Nazism, the destruction of Western colonialism throughout Africa and Asia, the conquest of space, the national humiliation of Gorbachev’s and Yeltsin’s puppet regimes and Russia’s rebirth under Putin.
It is a world to which more and more people in the West want to escape to, leaving behind a landscape blighted by leftist vandalism and enforced repentance for the crime of being of a certain race or of daring to exhale carbon dioxide. They do not wish to subject themselves to the unholy inquisition which doles out punishments to those who remain unenthusiastic about and unsupportive of sexual perversity, gender dysphoria, the destruction of traditional families and the brainwashing of youth. Even if they cannot escape, they can take comfort in knowing that a more normal and less damaged alternative reality exists, and they can secretly sympathize with it.
What makes this transformation particularly remarkable is that ten years ago Russia’s soft power barely existed. At that time, a small but vocal opposition demonstrated in the center of Moscow, chanting “We need a different Russia.” But now hundreds of millions of French, Germans, Americans and others in the West are chanting what amounts to “We need a different West.” To the abject horror of their political elites they look to Russia—the country of extreme political incorrectness—with longing, delight and hope. These people are self-organizing into parties, uniting like-minded people in much greater numbers than the Communist International had ever been able to gather. In many countries they already exert a very significant influence on the political agenda. The more the pandemic of woke madness rages, the greater their influence will become. When this conflagration of mass insanity finally burns itself out, it is Russia that will have the civilizational seed stock with which to re-fertilize the devastated cultural landscape of the West.
In the meantime, this is already shaping up to be a Russian century. This level of soft power is something beyond anyone’s wildest dreams; it is is Putin’s judo mastery taken to the nth level. In judo, one directs one’s opponent’s own force against him; here, the opponent is directing his own power against himself while the judo master merely stands back and watches, nodding in approval. In every country that the liberals attempt to reformat to their liking, Russia automatically gains millions of fans, forcing any possible geopolitical confrontation with Russia to fade into the background before the neutralizing force of a great commonality of traditional values. Remaining passive and risking nothing, Russia has gained a myriad ways to turn the geopolitical situation to its advantage.
For a very long time the West had monopolized the dominant discourse, but now Russia has gained control of it. Needless to say, this does not go down well with those who have been accustomed to uncontested dominance. They react hysterically: by throwing around groundless accusations and insults, staging provocations, imposing toothless yet self-defeating sanctions… They will try anything that they think might help to defer the moment when they will be forced to admit the horrible truth: that they have checked themselves into an insane asylum in Hell and they can’t check out. Meanwhile, all Russia has to do is to wait patiently for the fires of Hell to consume them and to burn themselves out; because they always do. Their desperate thrashing about and threatening Armageddon is for Russia to ignore.
[Based loosely on a text by Aftershock’s SKonst published as «Страна крайней политической некорректности»: как Россия обрела «мягкую силу» во всём мире]