Fleeing our democratic values

There is a fascinating long-form discussion on The Duran, surely the best geopolitics channel on YouTube, including a very big fish indeed – Sergey Karaganov. His Wikipedia page shows some signs of anti-Russian bias, and a better idea of him can be gained from the few references in Richard Sakwa’s enlightening work, The Putin Paradox.

Karaganov is a political scientist who was an adviser both to Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. He was very instrumental in attempting a post-cold-war rapprochement between Russia and the West, but later became a leading advocate of the change in Russia’s orientation away from Europe and towards Asia. This makes him an important voice, as it is that process that we have seen accelerated and consolidated over the course of the hot NATO war in Ukraine.

If you doubt the significance of this, you must understand that its effect has been increasingly to isolate NATO nations, rather than Russia, not only from the biggest BRICS members, India and China, but from pretty well every nation that isn’t actively occupied by NATO or “benefiting,” like Pakistan, from a recent regime change engineered by it. Every day sees de-dollarisation of some part of the developing world, or so it seems. In this “cold war” it is we who are increasingly out in the cold.

What I found most interesting in Karaganov’s account were the three reasons that persuaded him, and therefore in turn Putin’s government, that there was no future in trying to ally with the West. The first two are pretty well-known if you follow any of the analysts who aren’t NATO-stooges.

The first area was strategic, for the Russians began to realise that the agreement to break up the Warsaw Pact in return for the non-expansion of NATO was a sham. The West intended, and took concrete steps, to surround Russia with puppet-states full of NATO arms with a view, eventually, to swallowing up Russia. This was to be a stepping stone to overcoming China and so securing American hegemony over the whole world. As you know (or ought to know) this aggressive expansion, overtly linked to ambitions of regime-change in Moscow, was the direct cause of the Ukraine crisis from 2014 until today. Even Western leaders like Angela Merkel now admit that the Minsk treaties were cynical deceptions intended to give NATO time to arm Ukraine as a proxy army.

The second area was economic, as Karaganov and his associates realised that far from assisting Russia, economically devastated by the collapse of the Soviet Union, to develop as a successful industrial nation, the West was bent on stripping its assets of raw materials and preventing it from ever becoming a potential trade rival. This includes the story of the notorious Oligarchs sympathetic to, and often in the pay of, Western powers who, for a number of reasons, had been able to turn Russia’s economy into an organised crime syndicate.

This too is well-known, though the long struggle of Putin and his government to remove the Oligarchs’ control is misrepresented over here by painting Putin as their Godfather. This misunderstanding of Russia’s politics seems to be an actual intelligence failure on the part of the West, as it has completely miscalculated the suicidal effects of sanctions on an economy that has been quietly nursed back to health over the last few years.

But it is the third area that intrigues me most, since neither the mainstream Western media nor even The Duran has paid much attention to it. This is what Karaganov calls “Morality.” He, like most educated Russians since the time of Peter the Great, had looked on Europe as the inspiration for civilised culture and values. To a great extent, the isolation of the Soviet Era, as well as its stultifying ideology, was seen to have interrupted the full flowering of Russia’s assimilation of European culture.

So to a younger Karaganov, Europe was the land of Shakespeare, Dante and Beethoven, the source that had enabled the flowering of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky, and which could enrich the nation as it returned to civilised freedom. It was a profound shock to discover, as he dealt with the European powers, that “Europe had abandoned Christianity,” as he starkly but accurately puts it. This seems to have been the crucial last straw in Russia’s turning its back on Europe, and it is specifically Christianity, not simply “common decency,” that is the crux.

For along with the abandonment of Soviet communism, Russia has experienced a major revival in Christianity, so that from 20% over 70% of the population now embraces Russian Orthodox faith. It seems they, and their leaders, take that seriously enough to see Europe as a poisoned chalice – indeed, as the cup that makes the nations reel. At least one major aspect of Russia’s alienation from Europe, then, is their desire to flee Babylon, even if that means allying with Hindus in India and Communists in China.

Now critics of Russia, including Protestants in the West, see the Russian Orthodox Church as overly nationalistic. This may well be a valid criticism, though if so it only mirrors the “US Exceptionalism” espoused by many American Evangelicals, not to mention that King Charles III is head of the Church of England. Yet consider this: the cultural role models mentioned by Karaganov in his discussion were all Christians, yet none of them was Orthodox. Dante, of course, was a pre-Reformation Catholic; Shakespeare was at least nominally a Protestant Anglican; and Beethoven, though strangely averse to church services, saw his Catholic faith as his main inspiration. Indeed, even the Greek branch of Orthodoxy has a very restricted presence in Europe, whose culture has been predominantly Roman Catholic or Protestant. For Russia to turn away from Europe on spiritual grounds, then, has to do with “mere Christianity,” not with a nationalistic attachment to the Patriarch of Moscow.

Now to me it seems a great shame that Christians over here appear to have no idea of the spiritual dynamics at work here. Worse still, I fear it is largely because we have failed to appreciate, in its full awfulness, the extent of apostasy in our Western nations. Yes, Evangelicals will happily concur that “This is no longer a Christian country, if it ever was,” but in a Bible Study they will still see “sticking it to Putin” as a virtuous act. To speak more generally, whilst Christians can point to many signs of Christianity’s abandonment here, they are still prone to pray that the “dictators” to the East may learn to embrace our “democracy.” They have, in other words, internalised the official propaganda that European (or “Western” or “British”) values somehow have any moral meaning after their origin – the word of God – has been deliberately jettisoned.

Do we really think that Diversity, Inclusiveness, cancel-culture, Islamisation, Net Zero, political dissimulation, coerced speech, forced vaccination, and the sexualisation of children have anything whatsoever of value to offer the world? Are they not rather signs of nations “given over” to God’s judgement (Romans 1:24ff)? And should not Christians be supporting nations where Christianity is celebrated in their prayers, rather than repeating the demonic Establishment’s call for their extirpation from the world?

It seems to me that too many of us are like Jews in Exile, saying, “Well, Babylon isn’t perfect, but at least we haven’t got that Dictator Cyrus.”

Tower of Babel or Colosseum? Neither archetype is reassuring

Avatar photo

About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
This entry was posted in History, Politics and sociology, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Fleeing our democratic values

  1. Robert Byers says:

    Yes your list of bad things here is the truth but we can do a better job of beating them. That is the essence of English civilization . tHe right of the people to oppose the other people in government and law. We must be better lawyers and propagandists.
    its terrible to ruin the rEagan legacy of a defeated soviet union by not doing a better kob in stopping the war between the two evils nations in the former evil empire. Maybe its gods judgement on both for the evil they did from the old days. i don’t know but suspect so. Yes Britain rejects christ and America/Canada less so but also. our unique embracing of christ by way of evangelical Protestantism is why we were morally and intellectual superior and our people’s more safe, healthy, rich, happer, and better fun in entertainment accomplishments. without christ we are samson without his hair or peter parker without super spider powers.

  2. Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:

    Indeed: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Even those with established churches and a noble history.

Leave a Reply