The Emperor Has No Clothes

I went on a bit of a rant this morning on Twitter, but somehow my tweets got out of order. So I’m putting them up here and adding a bit to my argument.

I have spent a lot of time researching Vladimir Putin and his government. And by “a lot”, I mean that I have been following his career since about 1998. I too bought into the “persona” that was created for him. But as time has gone on, I have realized that that is all it is. Just a character that was created for somebody (anybody?) to play. I’ve said before that you could have picked just about anybody off the street and gotten the same results as we got with Putin. And I still believe that.

But nobody wants to say this. Nobody wants to say that “Putin” is a fraud. And that the emperor has no clothes. Why? The conclusion that I am (reluctantly) coming to is that our politicians and pundits find “Putin” useful. They prop the character up as a kind bogeyman in order to distract from the fact that Russia itself is a genuine threat and a problem.

And people buy into it because they don’t want to believe that the Russian system is rotten to its core. And everybody is infected. It is easier to pretend that the problem is just down to one person: “Putin”. Then you don’t have to deal with the real issues that infect Russian society. The serf mentality. The gulag of the mind (to quote Nina Khrushcheva). The corruption that pervades daily life.

And this “kleptocracy” business is still just dealing with symptoms, not the root causes. I could tell you story after story of the corrupt practices like the one I put up on here on the blog last week, but that’s not the point. People want to imagine that the problem is just money. If you make the problem money, then it is fixable.

But the problem is not the money itself. As I stated last week, the Russian system is not a “kleptocracy”. Rather, it is neo-feudal. And what that means is that the money is being used by the State to pursue its own geopolitical ends.

I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I think it needed to be said. Because fighting the Russian threat is not as easy as ousting an individual person, or even a core group of so-called “kleptocrats”. And the first step in doing that is to realize that your analysis is wrong. And concede that the emperor has no clothes.

One thought on “The Emperor Has No Clothes

  1. Eric Morse

    With you most of the way. I walked out of Canada-Russia business council in 2001 for what amounts to the same reasons. One caveat: don’t completely discount the personality. In that sort of society the guy at the top is almost never a nonentity. Putin plays it like a Chekist. Others would no doubt play differently. But the disruptive, aggressive outcome is – you’re right – just about a wash.

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