Friday, March 17, 2017

Alastair Crooke — Letting Russia Be Russia

This is a useful article for correcting misapprehensions about Russia, Putin and Alexander Dugin, on one hand, and Steve Bannon and Donald Trump, on the other. 

However, in my view, it is somewhat superficial in that it is written from a modern liberal point of view that fails to understand traditionalist points of view, which are varied and nuanced. Modern liberal points of view are varied and nuanced also. 

This is a bit too complicated for me to summarize in the scope of a comment on this post other than to point out that variation and nuance are critical. Hasty generalization is bound to be misleading.

It is possible to get an idea of what traditionalism is about in contrast to modern liberalism by comparing the Great Chain of Being of various traditionalisms with the modern scientific perspective of  liberalisms that are naturalistic, materialistic and reductionistic.

Alexander Dugin subscribes to the Great Chain of Being in a very traditional Russian Orthodox way. He is a monarchist that assumes the divine right of kings, for example. Vladimir Putin rejects this. It would be nonsense to attribute authoritarianism to either Donald Trump or Steve Bannon on this basis. But there are other similarities, and these similarities are found in various cohorts in Western countries. 

Crooke's analysis is too general and sweeping. The distinction between liberal and traditionalist is becoming increasingly important politically and the variation and nuances are emerging. Jumping to conclusion based on similarities would be unwise without also considering the significant differences.

I am both a traditionalist and a liberal, as are also a great many, and I don't see any contradiction necessarily separating them and making them incompatible. I would venture to say that the majority of people in the West hold some combination of traditionalism and liberalism. 

All that is needed is to drop some of the more extreme assumptions of both positions, although some people do hold the incompatible extremes and suffer from cognitive dissonance for it. 

The points of view of Putin and Bannon are different combinations if liberalism and traditionalism. I am not sure that Trump has thought this though at the level that Bannon has, but he has chosen Bannon as his chief adviser, so I assume he understands the gist of it and agrees.

Crooke's point that Russia is much more traditionalist than the West is well-taken. Failing to understand this and projecting Western ideas and attitudes on Russia is a blunder of the highest magnitude and will almost inevitably result in conflict. The same is true with China, Islamic countries, India, and other chiefly traditionalist nations and cultures, all of which are traditionalist in their own way and are incompatible with internationalistic liberalism based on reductionistic scientism.

Consortium News
Letting Russia Be Russia
Alastair Crooke | founder and director of the Conflicts Forum and former British diplomat and senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy

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