Russia’s Ideology Is Now National Liberation of the World From the US Empire, With an Assist From Patriarch Kirill

Yves here. John Helmer does the important service of summarizing and discussing the implications of the increasingly overtly ideological themes in Putin’s speeches, and his criticism of US policies of hegemony, conflict-fomenting, and touting its self-serving “rules-based order” as contrasted with  multipolarity. Note the latter can and per Putin does imply stronger nation states and cultural identities. Putin has also taken to touting Russia’s multi-ethnicity and (without using these words) arguing that it is subsumed under a national identity  without the loss of cultural identity, while “wokeness” sharpens divisions….which  is a feature, not a bug.

Helmer also sets forth some internal contradictions in Putin’s views, as well as his consistency of application, particularly with respect to terrorism and the conflict in Gaza.

By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

Between 1917 and right now in Russian history, it has been clear that the horse pulls the cart. That’s to say, the ideas people have, or the ideology of groups and the propaganda of media, churches, and governments are pulled along by their economic interests, by the class structure of the underlying society.

Not the horse in the picture. That’s the icon image, popularised in the Georgian Orthodox Church from the 11th century, depicting St. George, patron saint of believers, spearing to death the Roman emperor Diocletian. Actually, Diocletian ruled the Roman empire from 284 until 305 AD, when he became the first emperor to resign voluntarily and retire harmlessly. Before that Diocletian, a professional soldier, did a lot of spearing of Gauls, Balkan tribesmen, and Persians, as well as Christians in Syria, before he decided to rusticate in his garden on the Adriatic.

The icon doesn’t represent what really happened. Long after Diocletian was forgotten, the icon has come to represent the victory of Orthodoxy over the anti-Christian empire. The icon image was mentioned last week by Andrei Ilnitsky, an advisor to the Russian Defense Ministry and lead ideologist for the United Russia party, in a speech to the Patriarch and President Vladimir Putin. According to Ilnitsky, St George represents Russia,  and the spearing of Diocletian represents what Russia is doing to the US empire on the Ukrainian battlefield.

Now — most precisely at the World Russian People’s Council meeting in Moscow on November 28 — Ilnitsky, the Patriarch, and Putin are reversing the order of history. It’s now the cart of Russian ideology pulling the horse of Russian forces into battle with the Americans.

“They are fighting with us,” declared Ilnitsky,    “for the way people think, for the way they perceive the world. Right now we are fighting a civilisational war for the future. It is this war that we are waging on the battlefields of our own. We will win and revive ourselves by being reborn, or our identity will be wiped out. This is exactly what happened in the Ukraine for thirty years before the start of the SVO [Special Military Operation].”

Putin went further than spearing the emperor. “Our fight”, he declared, “for sovereignty and justice is, without exaggeration, one of national liberation, because we are upholding the security and well-being of our people, and our supreme historical right to be Russia – a strong independent power, a civilization state. It is our country, it is the Russian world that has blocked the way of those who aspired to world domination and exceptionalism, as it has happened many times in history. We are now fighting not just for Russia’s freedom but for the freedom of the whole world.”

This is the first time Putin has identified the doctrine of national liberation in ideological, economic, and in battlefield war against the US doctrine of hegemony and exceptionalism.

“We can frankly say that the dictatorship of one hegemon is becoming decrepit. We see it, and everyone sees it now. It is getting out of control and is simply dangerous for others. This is now clear to the global majority. But again, it is our country that is now at the forefront of building a fairer world order. And I would like to stress this: without a sovereign and strong Russia, no lasting and stable international system is possible.”

During the World Russian People’s Council, Ilnitsky said the threats of the US empire are emanating from three directions of US strikes on the country and the people. “I will not talk about purely military aspects, but about how we do not lose the world. This is what is called ideology. A month ago, the US national security strategy was adopted. The Americans position themselves as the global hegemon. The so-called autocracies have been declared enemy number one; in fact, they are the nation states which are pursuing a sovereign policy. Russia is mentioned in this document 69 times! Even more often than China. And Ukraine is cited only as anti-Russia.  Russia is the civilisational opponent of the West. Without the elimination of Russia, the development of the Western world is impossible. It will not be possible to normalise relations because of the deepest difference in goals and values.”

“At the same time,” Ilnitsky went on, “violence has become the defining concept of Western politics. War is a component of such a world of violence. How are they going to implement this violence? Everything is said in the US national defence strategy. They confront us on land, in the air, at sea, in space. And also in the information sphere. But now they are striving for informational and cognitive dominance. The US Joint Chiefs of Staff identified three areas of their attack: technological warfare (including artificial intelligence); the war in the city; the transition from informational to cognitive-mental dominance. Psychological operations will be enhanced as much as possible. This is no joke. This is the same mental war where the destruction of the enemies’ self-consciousness is the goal,” Ilnitsky emphasised.

Andrei Ilnitsky speaking to the World Russian People's Council in Moscow on November 27. Source:

Ilnitsky has provided a written summary of his speech on his website here.  

Andrei Ilnitsky has been employed at the Ministry of Defense as an advisor to Minister Sergei Shoigu since 2015.   He is ranked State Councilor of the Russian Federation 3rd class, and is deputy chief of the Central Executive Committee of the United Russia Party and head of the ruling party’s Department for Work with Environments, Public Associations and the Expert Community. At the Defense Ministry he is considered an expert on information warfare, and is reputed to have been the inventor of the “Z” symbol for the Special Military Operation.   Before his military job, he worked on election campaign strategy for the governor of the Moscow Region, Andrei Vorobyov.

“Russian is a spiritual and political concept. We are great integrators. We jointly build the common, without destroying the particular. We are being led to hell. So if we want to defeat the West, we have to defeat it in our heads. Victories on the battlefield will follow victories in the field of thinking, ideology. But ideology is not a product of the mind of political scientists. It follows from the whole of Russian history. In the West, by the way, the main threat is considered to be the Russian conservative offensive.  And here our opponents are right. Therefore, Russia needs a mental security strategy.”

In last week’s Council speech, Ilnitsky was summarising the detailed analysis he had given in an interview with  a Kazan internet publication last May. The significance of his remarks then have been missed in Russia and abroad: he was spelling out that the Defense Ministry’s war objective, and thus the Kremlin’s, is not simply to destroy the Ukrainian military, but to “demilitarise NATO” on the territories of the Ukraine, Poland, and the Baltic states. In short, to roll back NATO to the alliance frontiers of 1997 – before Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined the pact in 1999,  followed by Romania, the Baltic and Balkan states in 2004.

Ilnitsky has prefaced his public statements with the disclaimer that they are his personal views only.

Notwithstanding, he is making an explicit official repudiation of claims by Ukrainian, Israeli and US officials, as well as of reporters repeating what they have been told by the CIA, that an end to the war can be negotiated with Moscow  on the terms of the purported Istanbul agreement of April 2022. In what Ilnitsky thinks aloud and is saying in public, there is the clearest hint from the General Staff and the Stavka  that the war cannot end without NATO’s capitulation, not just the defeat of the regime in Kiev and Lvov.

This is also the official position of the Russian Foreign Ministry in the non-aggression treaties it presented the US and NATO on December 17, 2022. Follow the analysis of those treaties and the escalation to war when the terms were summarily dismissed by Washington and Brussels, beginning here  and concluding four weeks later here.


In Ilnitsky’s May elaboration, “now we are not fighting with Ukraine, but with NATO. World War III has already begun. Not only is Ukraine now a de facto member of NATO, but also Germany and France have become secondary partners of NATO. Paris and Berlin did not know that the Americans, British and Poles had already armed Ukraine sufficiently to wage an expanded war… the main axis of NATO had shifted. It now looks like this: Washington —London — Warsaw— Kiev.  That is, behind the back of Old Europe, the North Atlantic Alliance of NATO was reassembled, and Ukraine is a de facto member of NATO to a much greater extent than many of its de jure members.  Therefore, today our army on the territory of the USSR is engaged not only in the demilitarisation and denazification of this territory, but also in the demilitarisation of NATO.”


Ilnitsky’s remarks are the clearest sign from the Stavka of what he describes as the turning of Clausewitz’s dictum on its head. “Yes, the popular widely quoted ideology of the 19th century military analyst Clausewitz that war is the continuation of politics by other means is no longer relevant. Today, war is politics itself. The most important element of such a policy is mental warfare.”

“The movement that directly led to the armed conflict began in 1994, when the decision was made to expand NATO. Prior to that, Western strategists tried to implement a slightly different project on the territory of the USSR: to create a showcase of Western democracy on the territory of the Russian world. But this plan failed rather quickly and miserably. Ukraine turned out to be a failed state — an insolvent state for which the West assigned the role of a frontline anti-Russian entity, the function of which was reduced to a process of constant pressure on Russia. In 2014, this took the form of a coup d’etat, as a result of which a junta came to power, and the transition to the hot stage began. The process of creating a mercenary country with anti-Russian functionality from the entity called the Ukraine then accelerated dramatically.”

“By 2022, the project of a pseudo-state built exclusively on an anti-Russian basis and ready not only for defensive, but also for offensive actions against Russia had been implemented in a fairly complete form on the territory of the former Ukrainian SSR… [This project is not] without its limits — moreover, they are at their limit now.  The West is already concerned about the emptying of its military reserves, which has begun to directly affect and undermine the level of national security and defence of both the United States and NATO. In this regard, it is interesting to learn that in the early spring of 2023, the Pentagon used an American ammunition depot in Israel to supply 150-millimeter shells to Ukraine for those US-supplied M-777 howitzers. The fact is that this warehouse was created in 1973 for special purposes and could only be used in emergency situations. Before that, Israel was allowed to unpack it only once — in 2006 in the war with Lebanon. Nevertheless, according to Israeli and American officials, as of April, more than half of the 300,000 shells from this warehouse have already been shipped through Poland to Ukraine.  Thus, in 2022, arms supplies to Kiev exceeded the volume of the previous eight years by ten times. The United States has spent more than $50 billion on this, more than all other countries combined.”

“The ‘Hyena of Europe’ [Poland in Winston Churchill’s characterisation in his memoir, The Gathering Storm]  has now become very lively and is beginning to justify its purpose in practice. So, there was information that recently several thousand professionals, mainly from intelligence and management structures, abruptly left the Polish army. This was explained by their dissatisfaction with their pay, but my version is that this may be an element of a completely different process.”

“Let us recall how at the beginning of 2023, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) became intensely active on the territory of the USSR – de jure Ukrainian, and de facto a purely Western special service. Dozens of mid-level specialists were arrested almost every day, there were noisy resignations of major officials, and threats to continue doing this ‘regardless of the situation’ still persist. And here the question arises: are these processes interrelated, given that last summer laws were passed allowing Polish citizens to take up positions in the civil service of Ukraine, move quietly and live on the territory of the USSR? What is happening is very similar to a kind of cleansing with the elimination of the remnants of Ukrainian statehood and officialdom with the prospect of their replacement by Polish and other Western officials.  That is, it seems that while our [NATO] colleagues are placing staff advisors in the bunkers, and Ukrainians are massively dying in the trenches for the interests of the West, the latter has launched the process of personnel training of an occupation administration to lead the population and territories of the USSR. This is my working version.”

“We — it must be clearly understood — are a stumbling block, a fundamental civilisational obstacle to the development of the West. Therefore, their policy will be aimed at the destruction of Russia over the next decade. The goal of the West’s mental war is our history, culture, and education — the substantial core of our civilisation, the organisational basis of which is a strong state that ensures the security of the country. Mental warfare, like others, has three levels: tactical, operational and strategic. Its tactical, lowest level is information confrontation. Its operational level is cognitive information operations, including the use of artificial intelligence elements. Simply put, if the first level is what people hear and see, then the second is how they interpret information, how they think. Its strategic level is ideological. This is how people see themselves — what they are, who they are, and what they live for.”

“Ideology is a field of mental warfare. Highly organised states do not exist without ideology.  On the territory of the USSR, we are waging an ideological/mental war precisely for our Russian — in the ontological sense — understanding of how we live. We are fighting against the world of lies, waging a civilisational war in which the events on the territory of the USSR are only a stage of global confrontation with the West.

Following Ilnitsky at the Congress, Putin explicitly adopted the idea that the ideology horse is now pulling the national survival cart – and not only for Russia. “Friends,” the President declared,  “our fight for sovereignty and justice is, without exaggeration, one of national liberation, because we are upholding the security and well-being of our people, and our supreme historical right to be Russia – a strong independent power, a civilisation state. It is our country, it is the Russian world that has blocked the way of those who aspired to world domination and exceptionalism, as it has happened many times in history. We are now fighting not just for Russia’s freedom but for the freedom of the whole world. We can frankly say that the dictatorship of one hegemon is becoming decrepit. We see it, and everyone sees it now. It is getting out of control and is simply dangerous for others. This is now clear to the global majority. But again, it is our country that is now at the forefront of building a fairer world order. And I would like to stress this: without a sovereign and strong Russia, no lasting and stable international system is possible.”

The hats in the front of the auditorium signify the predominance of churchmen at the event.

What end-of-war  terms was Putin setting out?

“We know the threat we are opposing. Russophobia and other forms of racism and neo-Nazism have almost become the official ideology of Western ruling elites. They are directed not only against ethnic Russians, but against all groups living in Russia: Tatars, Chechens, Avars, Tuvinians, Bashkirs, Buryats, Yakuts, Ossetians, Jews, Ingush, Mari and Altai. There are many of us, I might not be able to name every group now, but again, the threat is directed against all the peoples of Russia. The West has no need for such a large and multi-ethnic country as Russia as a matter of principle. Our diversity and unity of cultures, traditions, languages, and ethnicities simply do not fit into the logic of Western racists and colonisers, into their cruel plans for total depersonalisation, separation, suppression, and exploitation. That is why they have started their old rant again: they say that Russia is a ‘prison of nations’ and that Russians are a ‘nation of slaves.’ We have heard this many times throughout the centuries. Now we have also heard that Russia apparently needs to be ‘decolonised’. But what do they really want? They want to dismember and plunder Russia. If they cannot do it by force, they sow discord.”

“I would like to emphasise that we view any outside interference or provocations to incite ethnic or religious conflict as acts of aggression against our country, and an attempt to once again wield terrorism and extremism as a weapon against us, and we will respond accordingly.”

In theory, this new doctrine of Russian national liberation and Russian support for the national liberation of others fighting against the US empire ought to back the Hamas fight against  Israel in Gaza, the Palestinian struggle against Israel,  and the wider Arab and Iranian fight against the American-Israeli combination. This isn’t new in Russia – Vladimir Lenin initiated the idea of support for worldwide national liberation; Nikita Khrushchev expanded it to be Soviet foreign policy in January 1961.

What is a stumbling block in current Russian thinking and planning is the war in Palestine, and what stance – military, ideological – Putin should take towards Israel and Palestine. Ilnitsky did not mention the Arab-Israeli conflict in his speech last week, nor in his May interview. Putin did not refer to it either. Putin did mention Jews, however, but only in a list of groups comprising Russia’s multi-ethnic society. Putin’s implication was that he is preserving Russia’s even-handed support for both the Jewish state and the Muslim states of Palestine, the Arab world and Iran in order to forestall and combat “any outside interference or provocations to incite ethnic or religious conflict as acts of aggression against our country, and an attempt to once again wield terrorism and extremism as a weapon against us, and we will respond accordingly.”

It is unclear from Putin’s remarks how the policy of support for wars of national liberation outside Russia and the fight against “terrorism and extremism” inside Russia can be interpreted without contradiction. A detailed assessment by Russian legal academics and criminologists concluded in 2018 that attempts to define terrorism and extremism in the criminal code “rely mostly on trial and error methods… [and] as a result of the excessive politicisation of the lawmaking process, the scope of criminally liable actions have been expanding continuously…It is necessary to clearly and distinctly disclose the nature of the crime for subsequent application – that is, for both the potential criminal and the law enforcement official.”


The conclusion of this review is that “the main problem (and this includes both terrorism and extremism) as a result of the political conjuncture in the legislation [is that] the scope of the ban began to expand uncontrollably, which led to excessive congestion in the dispositions of norms and the uncertainty in the composition of the crime…Wrong or limited theories about the causes and consequences of the changes, embodied in the amendments to the laws, also slow down the process of counteracting.”

A well-connected Moscow political analyst concedes there is a potential contradiction between national liberation and terrorism in Russian policymaking and ideology, and that the Kremlin has yet to resolve it between its apparent sympathy for Israel and the majority of Russians and the military who support Palestine. “Being for or against Hamas now makes no difference at all,” the source says, “because its ability to provide any administration in Gaza is now decimated, even if its guerrilla warfighting is not. Statements of a two-state solution carry even less potency and credibility. The government’s actions and narrative must shift to keeping Gaza alive, then autonomous without Israeli occupation,  and then pumping in enormous aid and support into the West Bank while beefing up the Northern forces [Hezbollah].”

Left to right: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Mousa Abu Marzouk, head of international relations for Hamas, and Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas Political Bureau, meeting in Moscow in September 2022. Also attending were Sheikh Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of Hamas, and Maher Salah, a Hamas Politburo official in charge of the Palestinian diaspora.

Left to right: Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Envoy to the Middle East Mikhail Bogdanov, and Mousa Abu Marzouk of Hamas, during their trilateral meeting in Moscow on October 26, 2023.

“I believe the Russian and Chinese failure is not in being critical of Hamas. Hamas is an entirely different matter and you can understand that no one is willing to identify publicly with them. The failure is in not supporting the Palestine cause through the decades. To go into Syria and not defend all of it, this is a failure. To not stand up to Israel in Syria is an even bigger failure. To not stand up against US phobias in every shape and form executed through their wars has been a  failure – until now.”

“For Russia, what we are looking at is the start of a new decade-long cycle – the Fatah leadership is old and terminal. Hamas will be largely destroyed. No one will come to its help. Hezbollah will emerge intact – even if it fights now. I therefore see the necessity for an intervention – purely humanitarian – to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza which is at once significant and yet does not provide a military cover to Hamas. The future should be an overwhelming domestic and international movement within Russia and China to break the blockade of Gaza; followed by an air cover against the Israelis for Gaza, Syria and Lebanon.”

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  1. zagonostra

    The concluding paragraph is optimistic, but unfortunately highly unlikely. The “necessity” is not sufficient to bring these events about, though I hope I’m wrong.

    I therefore see the necessity for an intervention – purely humanitarian – to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza which is at once significant and yet does not provide a military cover to Hamas. The future should be an overwhelming domestic and international movement within Russia and China to break the blockade of Gaza; followed by an air cover against the Israelis for Gaza, Syria and Lebanon.”

  2. Es s ce tera

    Even the most jingoistic neoconned American would have to admit there’s a lot of truth here.

  3. i just dont like the gravy

    Color me cynical but I just don’t see the world “getting along” after America collapses.

    At the end of the day we are all humans who are barreling towards a future of climate instability and resource scarcity. It’s easy for people now to get behind toppling the hegemon, but what about after?

    1. Ergo Sum

      “It’s easy for people now to get behind toppling the hegemon, but what about after?”

      Could it actually be worse than now? Humanity had been replacing empires/hegemony throughout history and we are still here…

      1. The Heretic

        Rest assured, for North America and Europe, it can be much worse than now. Wokeness can be considered delusional and McCarthyism and Cancel culture are the cultural equivalents of a bad flu, whereas Stalinism and Maoist purges are equivalent to flesh-eating disease, Maoist cultural revolution is equivalent to violent psychosis, extreme poverty like in the 19th century proletariat and proliferation of KGB Nkvd induced pathological levels of paranoia and anxiety within the populations; the cruel wraiths of chaos, poverty, oppression and war have not fully risen out of the graves to grasp the G7 or Europe (ex Ukraine) yet.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      well, the usa corpsempire administering its pax americana since 1947 has been using such language as performative cover for rapine and plunder from the get-go.
      pre-internet head shops were where i first learned about the perfidy…and things like iran/contra being too big and ugly to be ignored by Msm(back when they still had a somewhat independent streak.).
      like everybody else, i really, really wanted to believe the mythos…but i….alone among the cohorts i grew up among…couldn’t abide the increasingly obvious contradictions(free speech, unless you arrived honestly at socialism…free religion, unless you were not xtian…general freedom, except for potheads…and shiningt beacon of democracy…unless you were a country of brown folks who wanted to do your own thing/ or were sitting atop our oil…etc).
      headshops and the library and the deluxe britannica(1976 ed) increasingly exposed the myriad lies…then the early web, of course…all those foia docs,lol…
      then, 2007(?) and putin’s quincenera speech at Munich.
      wapo, et alia covered it…but i didnt trust them…so the kremlin english service it was,lol…and wow.
      dude has been consistent from the start.
      and now that the gloves are off, and Russia(and China, etc) have apparently abandoned placating US, a new order is emerging.
      we cant expect it to spring into being fully formed, as athena from the head of zeus….the hegemony of thought has been in place for a long time, after all.
      it’ll take time to hash all that out.
      I admit that i like what ive seen so far…a more fair and just world of mutual benefit and cooperation, instead of dog eat dog, with the biggest dog(US) lording over all.
      what Xi Putin Lavrov, et alia are delineating looks like what we’ve lied that we were all along.
      i sincerely hope that they can pull it off….and that they’re sincere in their intentions.
      that would be a welcome change from all the betrayal and backstabbing my own country has so perfected in the last 80 or so years.
      apo kalypsos means, literally, “removing the veil”…originally, the curtain in the jewish tent that concealed the ark of the covenant and the holy of holies…exposing the “Truth”, as it were.
      well, here we are, and the veil that covered the usaempire lies in tatters on the floor…and i doubt the ROW will allow that veil to be mended and restored.
      we shot our wad…and went too far in our insistence that we were the boss and that everyone in the world must bend the knee and Believe what we tell them to.
      that cat will never go back in the bag, i’m afraid.
      the sooner the american people can get their head around this, the better…and that is, indeed, happening…at least in some quarters..
      but all it will take is a drunk idiot crashing his car at high speed into a border crossing(!!) to convince the majority of usaians that we’ve been attacked and we’ll line up to kill them all.

      –rant off,lol–

      1. cousinAdam

        And a fine rant indeed, amigo! Would love a puff or two from your stash- you ring bells on several simultaneous levels- definitely not your first rodeo!
        The veil is only suitable for compost at this point (unless it’s polyester 🫤) and the ark is ripe for desecration ever since Indiana Jones liberated it- does anybody even know where it is?
        After getting my draft card in’72 and in the wake of MLKjr and RFK, I was pretty well convinced that some “drunken idiot” would get their hands on a purloined nuke, trigger a MAD and the End of Days. After Fifty years, we’re still here. Go figger. Are we any more secure? Maybe the Multipolar “thingy” can keep (most of) us alive long enough to navigate the unfolding climate meltdown. The odds? Out of my pay grade, I’m afraid. Go well, sir.

      2. Pan

        I dig your rant… and I definitely share the disgust with the US, but honestly the alternative “multiculturalist” vision that Russia and China seem to be going for is rather tongue in cheek. Strictly limiting the number of minorities in your own country to 50 or so ethnicities, which are defined through the old stalinist conception of multi-ethnic state that enforces “a common language, territory, economic life, psychological makeup, and culture” (see Josef Stalin,“Marxism and the National Question,” 1913) is not a vision of a healthy society where different social agents and communities feel free to share their identities/values etc. It’s the old Adorno’s critique of the dialectics of enlightenment, where “Reason” (via state-power) attempts to categorise all (ethnicities) too fit into its system of knowledge that serves the purpose of legitimising those in power. But cmon borders, identities, ethnicities are fluid, subjective, social constructs, so the multi-culty vision whether in the “West” or the “East” that attempts to define them seems to me a different kind of fucked up than the US attempts at hegemony that have caused so much destruction.

        In relation to China, there’s a nice analysis of their treatment of Uyghurs and the collaboration of security multicorporations (including from US and Israel) in the prison camps and forced labour factories written by a marxist Canadian scholar: Derren Byler’s Terror Capitalism. This kind of describes the vision of multi-ethnic “coexistance” in China’s state-capitalism. I’m not a specialist in Russia, but I gather that “diversity” for the state is a bit of a contradictory term like in China: it’s “diversity” as defined and allowed by the state. It’s all fine to dress up and perform your own ethnic identity, so long as when you get off stage you abide by the normativity of the state (Han in China).

        I am deeply skeptical that the alternative being formulated by Russia and China can be much more desirable than the US terror. Perhaps more stable on a state-to-state scale, but that stability has an enormois cost on other scales… let’s not have any illusions that both Chinese and Russian elites and leaders have just as much of a “bite,” but perhaps trully they don’t go bitting societies across the globe, just at home and the neighbourhood… more importantly, let’s not replace a veil of the US “regime of truth” with others… while it might be comforting to engage in wishful thinking, the “power” in its various manifestations will always seek control over knowledge, but to resist these chimeras… the war over people’s minds… huh… truly…


        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          here, in the land of the free…i am not free…generally…to say what i think.
          lest i be pilloried or otherwise ostacised.
          to be a lefty…or merely a new dealer…where i have lived is akin to being on the downlow.
          or a pothead.
          we here, in the usa, are NOT the pinnacle of Freedom(in a gutteral roar) that we think we are.
          i have no direct experience with either China nor Russia(nor francen germany, or the UK for that matter)
          so i go look at the kremlin english translation to see what they actually said, according to them…and compare it to what i understand about history(also what ive read…lets get all into epistemology, please,lol)
          ie: i do my best, within my ability.
          circumspection is the best policy with all of this sort of thing…
          my own government has shown me who they were…at every level…for all my life.
          and it aint what they say they are in campaign commercials,lol.
          the russian or chinese(or french, german, uk, south korean)…i have no experience with…all i have is what they say…and then their actions in the world…as near as i can tell.
          we swim in a polluted and murky informational soup…and must do our best, regardless.
          i stress for the second or third time today…thats why NC is so valuable…distributed think tank…fullof people that quote Bukharin or Bourdieau(sp-2)…that are present in many of the places in question.
          let us use that…all yall in the places in question: come forth.

          1. Pan

            It’s circumspection, but also triangulation. Yes, propaganda in the US and the apparatus of knowledge control is crazy, including production of the constant negative bias towards China. Yet the epistemological, historiographical machinery of the CCP is just as fucked up in creating “Power” and “Truth” duo. While the negative bias in “western” China scholarship may be used politically, it does make valid points and arguments that you simply cannot hear in mainland: the politics of forgetting the unwanted past, the marginalisation and precarious existence of the poor and migrants, the violent nationalism manifested in such movements as the “little pinkies”.

            On the other hand, the incredible rise of living standards in China is one of the greatest success stories. The belt and road project seems to be a largely positive force in terms of infrastructure development for many global south countries, CCP doesn’t seem to have appetites for global military control, a list of all the positives is long.

            I guess my point is: living in the US you get to experience the domestic regime, but in China those who break from their own system of truth production, seek to do the same: reasons are sometimes different, some problems are shared (precarity, censorship, cost of living, migration) other are not (military excursionism, official historiography (problematic books, films, artworks just can’t be published legally in China),…

            I lived in Shanghai for a couple of years: my master’s thesis had to go through an internal review so that it was cleaned of problematic phrases or arguments (none were found, since I wrote about pre-Qin philosophy) before it was sent to the official review, which it had to pass before publication… access to historical archives in mainland is much more restricted, for foreigners often impossible, in Taiwan on the other hand it is as easy as walking into a library.

        2. Kouros

          The fact that in China, Russia, etc there are viable, strong minorities after many many hundreds of years of conquest, occupation, assimilation, while in UK they killed the irish and scotish gaelic, and in Canada, US, Australia (NZ is a nice exception but then have you seen a haka dance?) aboriginal culture and especially language has been almost, almost whiped out in less than 150 years speaks volume of where the truth might be, and it looks is not aligned with the “reports” you read in the west…

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            those are all good points, Kouros.
            but do you live in any of those places.
            i’m looking for on the ground reportage right here on NC.
            i want to hear from an ordinary Russian about what life is like in Russia…and similar from everywhere else that’s currently in play…China, especially, because i am so totally ignorant of the Chinese experience.

            1. Kouros

              I watch quite a few vlogs of westerners in China and Russia and myself being from a former socialist state with strong ethnic minorities and their rights during socialism and after, it really has the ring of truth…

              1. Amfortas the Hippie

                where you from.
                i was born right outside washington dc, because my dad worked at the DIA, but we were back in Texas by the time i was 6 months old.

            2. The Rev Kev

              @ Amfortas – If you are looking for a Russian talking about ordinary life in Russia, I have one for you and here is her YouTube Channel videos-


              She lives in Yakutia and her idea of normality gets bent all out of shape each winter there but you might be intersted in some of her videos.

              1. Polar Socialist

                Also Eli from Russia channel (she’s Russian but lives in Tatarstan) explores basically the whole country (I think she was thinking of leaving, but decided not to).

                And maybe even Dutchman in Russia channel: the man is currently posting a series from travelling the Trans-Siberian railroad and all the people he meets on the way.

    3. Jams O'Donnell

      “I just don’t see the world “getting along” after America collapses.”

      Perhaps you could clarify in what ways the world actually needs the USA? It will probably be quite easy for other countries to provide their own wars in future if they want to, and whatever degree of getting along there is will be up to them. However, the demand for wars may be much reduced without the USA’s ready provision.

      In any case, the landmass and population of the US is not going to disappear – just, we all hope, the imperial crown and its supporters. Maybe distributed into five or six new countries though?

      1. i just don't like the gravy

        Just like Amfortas it looks like you read into that comment something that wasn’t there.

        I do not think the world needs the USA – in fact, I think it will be all the better without it.

        What I am skeptical of is the ability for people (i.e. H. sapiens) to work cooperatively to rectify our disasterous trajectory. Instead of a unipolar hegemony, it may just become a distributed multipolar hegemony.

        I hope I am just jaded.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          a half remembered quote i toss out at the wilderness bar sometimes:
          a reporter asks Gandhi what he thinks about western civilisation.
          he says, dead pan:”i think its a good idea….you should try it…”

          same thing can be tossed at every randian libtardian or super raygun hyperpatriot(and godly man) that ever crossed my path and took offense that i lean socialist.

          and…my ranting wasnt directed at you,lol…you just triggered something thats usually right there under my surface.
          a more general ire directed at the general mileau i have been embedded in for all my life….which is the same thing you were pointing at…all that hubris and stomping around…if i think its old, imagine how an iraqui feels,lol.

          and dont diss gravy until youve tried mine..

          1. i just don't like the gravy

            No offense taken! Just wanted to set the record straight that I’m not an imperial apologist. I was also airing my grievances. Should be more careful with my words. I don’t want to discourage people before the job of dismantling American Empire is done.

            Also, I bet your gravy is great :) my name is a reference to my non-participation in society’s desire to keep the gravy train going, lol.

    4. Roland

      A balance of power neither requires a hegemon, nor needs one to be toppled.

      What most often topples a hegemon is their own insistence upon hegemony. If USA ever collapses, it will be due chiefly to the vaingloriousness of its own upper classes.

      Hegemony can only aggravate the difficulties of resource scarcity and climate change. Unchecked and unaccountable power does not lead to rational decision-making or patient negotiation.

  4. Isla White

    Still finding it strange that the Russian elite do not comprehend why the European component of the USSR fell apart as swiftly as it did.

    Totally ignoring that the earlier attempts by several states over previous decades to break away from the USSR and reclaim their cultural identities had been ruthlessly crushed.
    The (secret) police stations where so many citizens, now seen as heroic freedom fighters, were tortured and killed; those buildings if still standing now – tourist attractions.

    If enforcing the Russian culture and identity on neighboring states is so important why do so many hundreds of thousands (millions?) of their own citizens leave Russia to live in other cultures? Including F.M. Lavrov’s daughter in London!

    1. Kilgore Trout

      “Totally ignoring that the earlier attempts by several states over previous decades to break away from the USSR and reclaim their cultural identities had been ruthlessly crushed.”

      While there is no denying the ruthlessness involved, I think we underestimate the extent to which the West’s actions–meaning the US–were responsible for creating the tensions that resulted in the Cold War following WW2. Our rehabilitation of Nazis, the undermining via sabotage and assassination of socialist and communist movements in Europe (Operation Gladio), covert acts of sabotage and outright terrorism by the West in the “captive nations” and in the Soviet Union itself, contributed mightily to the hardening of tensions after the war. Recall that NATO was formed before the Warsaw Pact. Our corporate and financial elites had ties to Nazi Germany before, during, and after WW2. Allen Dulles abetted the “rehabilitation” of thousands of Nazis, precisely because he regarded, as did many others, the Soviet Union and communism as the real enemy, and acted to provoke the Soviets at nearly every turn. Hiroshima/Nagasaki was the opening salvo of the Cold War, not the end of a conflict. As the Ukraine war shows, nothing has really changed.

        1. scott s.

          Simplistic or not, if you happen to live between Germany and Russia you have a problem. That’s irrespective of WWII and Nazis.

      1. digi_owl

        And today the descendants of those “rehabilitated” nazis are found in the highest offices of the proverbial west.

        And when it is not outright nazis, it is “disgraced” aristos that decamped for north America as communism took over.

        Again and again i can’t help myself think that NA has become the zoo of obsolete customs and norm from both Europe and Asia, with people hoping to restore the old ways “back home” while being multiple generations removed from those that moved.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          and wasnt that the son of the last shah of iran(he of the peacock throne, of all things…sounds very democratic!)…lurking in the ice cream section with neera tanden?

    2. Feral Finster

      “If enforcing the Russian culture and identity on neighboring states is so important why do so many hundreds of thousands (millions?) of their own citizens leave Russia to live in other cultures? Including F.M. Lavrov’s daughter in London!”

      Because they like the goodies, and London is a nice place to live if you are a “have”.

      1. digi_owl

        London and New York are the safehouses of Europe. “Everyone” with a potential bullseye on their back have some bolthole there.

    3. Kouros

      Actually they do and don’t say much about the persecution of Russians in the Baltic States.

      The only place they still try to gaslight is Moldova, where they still pretend that by ethnicity, Moldovans are not Romanians. So far nobody was able to argue against that on RT, when I ever raised the issue…

    4. Polar Socialist

      You may have missed the part of the history when for example the Balts and the Finns got to develop their cultural identity under the protection of Russian Empire. None of them like to reflect on that these days, but had there not been Russian conquest to secure the western borders in the 18th century, the Balts and the Finns would have been Germanized and any ethnic traits would only exist in old documents.

      Not claiming Russia did it out of the goodness and humanity, but more to “naturalize” the local elites and cut the umbilical cord to Germany/Sweden. Yet the result was a cultural and national birth of all these states.

  5. Max Z

    Well, no wonder that with speeches like that and the accompanying massive military buildup the Baltics are starting to panic. Because if NATO holds its current position and won’t roll back to 1997, what next?

    1. Kouros

      It seems Russians have created precedents for asking people if they want to join the Russian Federation…

      I dont think that the supermajority in the Baltics for instance would vote for something like that… And the Russians know it. Plus, there is no evidence they would want o susbsidize the economies of those countries yet again…

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        aye. ive seen zero evidence of any imperialist or even expansionist aspirations from russia since yeltsin, if not before(all the old men at the end of the ussr)…that looks a lot like projection from the usa, to me.
        any expansion is all about buffers against western aggression.
        this seems pretty obvious, to me

  6. The Rev Kev

    Russia has certainly changes in the past two years or so. While the west tried to cancel Russian culture, the Russians seem to be embracing it. They have turned their backs on most of Europe and now seek their future in the East where the action really is. But I think that it has been realized that the west will continue to attack them and to destabilize them, even if the Ukraine collapses. US officials have already said that win, lose or draw, those sanctions are there forever.

    You can say that the so-called Rules based Order is an attempt by the Collective West to continue to dominate the countries of the world and isolate and surround countries like China, Russia and Iran. So it looks like that for Russia, the only way forward is to change the rules and I note that Putin arrived as an honoured guest in the UAE and is due soon in Saudi Arabia. They are also expanding their army to secure themselves militarily against any future wars as well. And I think that most countries of the Global Majority also see their future with countries like Russia and China rather than the west. The times they are a changing.

  7. Taufiq Al-Thawry

    I think your cynicism here “Gravy” is well warranted, but humbly do not agree – in that I certainly don’t declare I am correct and you are incorrect, just that I merely disagree.

    I think (hopium?) the possible-cynicism here can also be the product of 40 plus years of western imperial decay, best represented by thatcher’s “there is no alternative.” While we can dismiss Thatcher’s comment, or even the justification of empire, I think it’s difficult to dismiss the underlying zeitgeist of imperialist nihilism which is thoroughly propogated and thus permeates the societies of the west. As western supremacy (the garden v the jungle) and American Exceptionalism set in, even the sceptics can be forgiven for bending to some of the most foundational implications of the dismal ideology – namely that of the primacy of individualism, competition and the violent nature of humanity.

    I think the above nihilistic components of the hegemon’s ideology are precisely what is being rejected by the world majority, and are suddenly feeling confident enough (after the myriad bloody failures of imperialist imposition) to confront it in many different ways across the world – think the rhetoric of leaders like Chavez and Ortega (Fidel before them), Xi recently, and the Russians as this post examines, among many others.

    The world is proposing an order in bends towards sovereignty, respect and cooperation as the guiding principles of relationships over the nihilism proposed by the west – both dichotomies are composed within human nature. It’s just that only the more compassionate side of human nature has the capability to address the existential crises of (nuclear) war, out of control inequality and climate change

    Just some thoughts which, even if I’m incorrect in many ways here, help me move and organize with optimism rather than stagnate in despair

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      excellent comment, Taufique.
      a gramscian interlude where monsters roam.

      ive related before…when my dad gave me my first shortwave(he was an intermittant nut about SW…forever stringing wire in trees to get a better signal)…and i landed on Granma…with 4 hour english translations of Fidel rambling incessantly.
      this idea…of multipolarity and resistance to one size fits all, and we’re the boss, get used to it.
      all thats been around for a long time.
      but now, looks like russia finally got their shit together enough to shrug off the usa’s dictats…with china behind them, with all the cards they hold…and the ROW starts dipping toes in to see what the water’s like.
      i reckon we’ll see a cascade…first more trickle…of ROW abandoning the RBIO…the only question is how our fading senescent nonimperial empire will react, since the movers and shakers appear to really believe in their right to run the world.

  8. hemeantwell

    AFAIR, Helmer never talks about class conflict within Russia. As such, his presentation of this religiously-girded nationalist ideology misses what is truly ideological in the sources of that ideology. As Putin tried to reestablish state power after the calamity of the 1990s, many observers noted that he was engaging in a switcharoo, in the sense that he was drawing on residual traditions of solidarity that had taken shape during the Soviet period, even as he was trying to legitimate a post-Soviet society that was neoliberal and, even in neoliberal terms, corrupt. This involved a prestidigitation in which the Soviet sources of tradition were obscured in favor of purported pre-Soviet sources, one of them being the church which, it should be recalled, was an important support of the Tsarist system and its appalling class-based power asymmetries and exploitation.

    From this standpoint, the article, with its attempt to highlight religious beliefs as part of an “identity” that Russia is struggling to maintain as part of its national autonomy, complete with reproductions of icons that supposedly give us a window into the Russian soul, is simply ideological ####. It implicitly supports the idea that religious beliefs are essential to a Russian revival, and ignores how solidarity can be established on a material basis that demonstrates mutual caring and concern.

    1. Detroit Dan

      I think you make a good case, hemeantwell. However, what’s new is Putin’s embrace of the concept of civilizational states. Unlike traditional Christianity and communism, Putin is not claiming Russian ideology as universal. He defers to multipolarity beyond Russia’s borders and even, to some extent, within Russia’s borders. Russian nationalism embraces Orthodoxy, but also embraces pluralism. It’s a bit of a dompromise and doesn’t address class conflict specifically. However, Russia’s brand of nationalism trumps global capitalism in encouraging various social democratic programs.

      1. digi_owl

        “He defers to multipolarity beyond Russia’s borders and even, to some extent, within Russia’s borders.”

        Indeed. Some time back people here mentioned a youtube “channel” from a Russian lady traveling both within and elsewhere. Lately she have been visiting some parts of Russia that may as well be their own nations.

        Basically Russia after the USSR collapse reformed with an internal structure not that different from USA. But while world maps emphasize the US states, they usually depict Russia as a single “blob” (Germany is a similar situation, btw).

        And from what i am seeing as an outsider to both, i dear say the US states are more similar to each other than some of the Russian internal republics.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          i thought that internal diversity was interesting, too, when i came across it.
          like an ethnographic federalism, or something.
          i reckon Madison would dig it.
          reminds me of Mexico’s constitutional stance of having like a million official languages—and, like us, failing to live up to the high ideals behind such performative gestures…but the gesture was made, due to pressures…and that gives some hope.
          ive run across lots of little things like that in my rambling on the web.
          mostly of no apparent consequence…or partial, like mexico.
          i have no people in Russia, though…so like my stance on the us/mexico border situation…i cannot truly know….merely compare and contrast various testimonies from disparate sources, and filter it through my learnin and experience.
          russia talks a good game about their multiculturalism.
          youd think the dems would be very happy,lol.

          1. Kouros

            Aparently TikTok is one of the bigest “unintentional” tools in the present day voluntary Russification of existing minorities’ youth. It is between each childyouth and herhis cellphone. Even the pastoralists have them and what has not been accomplished for hundreds and hundreds of years, it will be now less than two generations with dissapearing cultures, and the irony will be that the state will try hard to preserve them.

            1. Amfortas the Hippie

              youre talking about homogenisation as a result of even isolated farm children being all in on insane tiktoc .
              people said the same thing about radio…and news print,lol.
              either trust the “common folk” the “demos”..
              or dont, and attempt to restrict access to information.
              i think…hope.. that that cat is well out of the sack.

    2. Jams O'Donnell

      “It implicitly supports the idea that religious beliefs are essential to a Russian revival, and ignores how solidarity can be established on a material basis that demonstrates mutual caring and concern.”

      I don’t imagine that Putin for a moment thinks that these are mutually exclusive, and Putins main achievement is to have restored Russia’s economic foundations, which have by now reached in many ways either equality or superiority to anything to be found in the declining ‘west’. Contrast the ‘street life’ in San Francisco (recently eliminated for Xi, to the pristine streets of Moscow or St Petersburg.

  9. John Webster

    Yves. Let’s have some common sense strategy here. Ilinitsky’s views will mean an escalation of military conflict in Europe that will be counterproductive and which China cannot afford to support, and which is NOT something that Putin has ever mentioned before and which will NOT get support from those of us in the belly of the beast that have supported Russia so far AGAINST WESTERN AGGRESSION.
    What Putin needs to do is finish business in Ukraine, sort out and make impregnable a new western border and then re-orientate to the east economically JUST AS HE HAS PROMISED. The hegemon will be beaten mainly in the economic sphere. That’s what must be consolidated. ‘The West’ will re-arm and be provocative BUT it can be beaten and has just received a good hiding it won’t forget WHILE at the same time as itching for revenge. Don’t take the bait. Push for multipolarity and at the same really emphasise the need to start tackling climate change and firm up relations with the south. That will undermine the west more than anything else. Those of us with long memories would call Ilinitsky an old fashioned Stalinist (of the collective farm era). Lets not get carried away with wanting to frog march history into an uncertain future. Putin’s ability to stay calm and think strategically has really frightened the amateurs in the West. Let’s not get drunk on success.

    1. Detroit Dan

      Thanks John Webster. You’ve taken the coversation in a good direction. It seems to me that Ilinitsky’s ideology is reactive (defensive) rather than aggressive. The West has overstepped by such a margin that eastern Europe should again be in play. But you are right in that the goal is not renewed Russian hegemony, but rather neutrality. Victory will not be military but rather economic and cultural. Military strength is unfortunately necessary until such time as NATO backs off.

    2. playon

      …a good hiding it won’t forget…

      Don’t underestimate the ability of Americans to forget… how many people talk about Afghanistan these days even though it just happened a few years ago? Although politically Afghanistan was a failure, it was extremely profitable for arms manufacturers (as are the current wars in Ukraine and Israel).

  10. Tom Pfotzer

    This is the hearts and minds war – the “who are we as a people” and “what is the world we wish to have” decision-making that many nations have longed for all these decades.

    Putin has framed this war as “Russia is your champion, your pathway to the world you wish to have”. The framing is brilliant; perfect message, tone, and inclusive significance.

    China calls for “win-win” relationships – hark back to Xi’s speech in San Francisco a few weeks back. Prosperity for all involved. China’s stance provides a resounding economic buttress to Russia’s military capability.

    The West relies on sowing internal discord, and military bludgeons to retain its hegemony; that’s been our foreign policy for decades.

    The Nordstream spectacle made any further pretense of U.S. goodwill moot. If there was any remaining doubt, the Ukrainian national extinction and the continuing Gaza extermination will be more than sufficient testimony.

    The world now has two options to choose from: win-win, and winner-takes-all.

    The difference could not be more stark.

    As we U.S. Americans review the end of the Empire in the years to come, note well: we offered the world a bad product. We aren’t what the world wants, and there’s more of them than there is of us.

    We made bad choices. We lost our hearts many decades ago; the cultural war ruined _us_ first.

    1. Ingolf Eide

      “The difference could not be more stark.”

      Yes, and as you say, his framing is brilliant.

      The time may come when Russia falls prey to hubris but I can’t imagine that happening anytime soon. The catastrophes they’ve endured over the last century are likely to keep them tightly tethered to reality, and the quality of leadership by Putin and co has created a solid foundation, much of which is likely to survive his passing.

  11. Carolinian

    Don’t think this Helmer got linked here.

    It talks about Putin’s ambivalent relationship with the remaining oligarchs and how this is something Russians themselves talk about but isn’t much discussed elsewhere. It could explain both Putin’s kid gloves approach to Israel (many of the oligarchs are Jewish) as well as the seeming light touch against the recent coup attempt by Wagner.

    So Putin is hardly perfect but some of us see him as a person of reason as opposed to our senile and never very admirable POTUS.

  12. Paul Damascene

    This piece greatly elaborates on what I had seen (as a casual observer) as a surprisingly explicit shift of Kremlin policy from pure pragmatism–we will deal fairly with anyone who will deal fairly with us–to a return to a sense of mission in Russian foreign policy. Until very recently, one might have retained the impression that Putin and the Stavka were extremely wary of if not hostile to a Leninist role for Russia, as part of an international liberation movement–explicitly from capitalism before and now from neo-colonial imperialism.

    The extent to which this is multi-domain / multi-dimensional on the world stage may actually help defuse what must be considerable internal pressure from the Stavka to back the US off in a direct military confrontation–within the larger strategic goal of inducing them to abandon their campaign to “unbalance” (Rand Corp, 2019) Russia. The most likely site of a direct confrontation might be a Cuban-Missile Crisis redux around the Aegis Ashore missile base in Romania. That is, after the UkroNazi/NATO regime has been defanged and broken.

    1. hemeantwell

      I don’t think that there’s much that is Leninist, or Trotskyist for that matter, about Putin trying to rally other state powers around a multipolar, or anti-NATO banner. Putin and Xi are being pushed into this strategy in response to the US and its underlings trying to extend NATO’s alliance system. In that respect it’s bread and butter international realism. That Putin is couching this as a liberation movement is true only in national terms. Pre-Stalinist commies would have been heavily oriented to each nation’s internal class relations. Putin is largely indifferent to those.

  13. timbers

    Is almost as if in a very general way, Putin is slowly turning the drive handle in a circular motion back towards if not to …. Communism. In a good way.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      or to Enlightenment, in the Kantian sense.
      thats the vibe i get from the guy…(and no i aint a putin lover…i dislike his duginist lbgto stances(altho i understand the wish that folsom doesnt happen on every street it the world…many of my neighbors would agree)…and other things)
      he’s rational like nobody america has produced since i can’t remember…gore vidal, maybe?
      but even Dugin has softened his hard edges of late…and i’d prolly have gotten along with his late daughter(and though she was pretty,lol)…if not agreed on every derned thing…and that is the point, after all.
      we dont hafta agree with every one on every jot and tittle.
      there doesnt need to be a one size fits all way of being in the world.
      over here….right wing ammosexuals with a fetish for theocracy can arm up and train in the woods…and be let alone unless they get too crazy.
      a lefty like me trains up his cohort, and here comes the gman.
      what putin and lavrov and Xi have been talking about is lets be allies and partners and i wont ask what goes on in your back yard.

  14. Bazarov

    What often goes unacknowledged by the whole “multi-polarity” crowd is that the world had “multiploarity” before–in the lead up to and in the intermission of the Great World War (if you’re of the view that WWI and WWII were really the same conflict, as both Peloponnesian and all three Punic Wars were). The apologists of multipolarity contend that it will herald an era of peace and national self-determination, but under conditions of capitalist regional hegemonies, I think it’s more likely that intense competition for labor, resources, and markets will develop between the “poles”. There’s significant “growth” to be found in the digestion of one pole by another– such appetite won’t be suppressed over the long term.

    It seems to me, under conditions of capitalist poles (which Lenin might term “capitalist imperialisms”), that another world war will eventually break out. It’s not inconceivable that the conflagration flares almost directly upon the collapse of US hegemony into multipolarity. In other words, we may never see the likes of the multipolar peace enjoyed by Europe between the Franco Prussian War and WWI.

    Capitalist governance–in the guise of bourgeois parliamentarianism or, as in China, the Leninist party–is intensely war-like by way of its competitive ethos and its expansion-mindedness. Its character is not materially changed by fresh ideological paint, whether Putin’s Civilization State (a remix of “Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality”?) or Build Back Better.

    1. hemeantwell

      I largely agree. And this is where I’m inclined to roll out Bukharin and the concern about the development of a “superimperialism,” which would involve a stabilization of competing imperialisms in a cartel arrangement of some sort. Bukharin raised this idea in the mid-20s and got much criticism for implying that global capitalism could stabilize, that political arrangements could contain not just resource fights but more opaque struggles over firm market shares and profit rates. It’s a huge topic but one that bears revisiting after what we saw of the Fed’s role in the GFC, which the execrable Tooze covered well, and what would have to be dealt with on a truly global scale in the years ahead. In relative terms it’s quite attractive, especially if you imagine all of the waste on war production going to legitimate uses.

    2. samm

      I think the issue has actually been addressed, in an off-handed fashion, with the emphasis placed on respecting sovereignty and ethnic diversity. The world is a far different place than it was at the outset of WWI, the historical situation is a lot different. For Lenin WWI was a war between competing imperialisms, which is different than we have today. There are no more colonial empires. They have been replaced with sovereign nations, though trapped by neo-imperialism.

      As for Bukharin’s superimperialism, have you read Michael Hudson’s Super Imperialism? His argument is the US largely succeeded in creating this phenomenon, but only on top of the the neo-imperial or post-colonial empire age. And needless to say it ultimately hasn’t gone well for the world and we are all watching as it runs out of steam.

      All of this is not to say war isn’t a possibility (though of course the “rules based order” had plenty), but I think it is also a mistake to look at it as inevitable.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        or sheldon wolin.
        his long interview with chris hedges is nevertheless more easily accessible than the book(USA,inc.) which i thought was dense, but right on the money and well worth the effort.

    3. Kouros

      I disagree if we consider that politics will not be subservient to capital in these nations sovereign states. US as a polity is now just a means to the hegemony of capital and finance…

    4. podcast kid

      Food for thought from Bazarov and hemeantwell. Thanks. If a credible AI could be put together, maybe it could suggest what nations produce what. Redundancy will not go well with climate changes.

      Hudson explains America’s m.o. as employing proxies, and I’ve come across mentions of Chechens and Gurkhas. Varoufakis is explaining where things are going in terms of “cloud capital” [“American Big Tech Has Enslaved Us | Aaron Bastani Meets Yanis Varoufakis”]. Don Fitz wrote “Cuban Medical Care, The Ongoing Revolution.” With the direction to go in Andrei Ilnitsky has in mind, I wonder how that direction would connect with these other guys’ observations (and maybe Shoshana Zuboff’s).

      PS [Before it’s gone] Possibly better than reading “Virgin Soil,” all the names are pronounced correctly! Heavy and sad; I went through both volumes.

  15. David in Friday Harbor

    The opening reference to the Orwellian U.S. National Security Strategy is a good reason not to trust the Americans. Reading that document is an interesting complement to the delusional and counter-factual Cass Sunstein Why I Am a Liberal nonsense discussed here yesterday. Sunstein must have had a hand in drafting the strategy.

    I get the feeing that the Russian leadership are seriously concerned that under the influence of its piratical “liberal” privatized-finance/libertarian Shock Doctrine ideology, the U.S. has transformed itself into a destructive sower of chaos in the world. This is a very real threat to holding what remains of multi-ethnic “Russia” together.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      “chaos is a ladder”…and a casual perusal of such official documents as the us army field manual on counterinsurgency…whatever version you like…confirms that thats what american empire is about…destabilise and swallow.

      1. David in Friday Harbor

        Re-reading Diana Johnstone’s The Queen of Chaos. Sorry, Littlefinger, it’s a pit…

  16. TMartin

    Some passing thoughts. Just imagine if Vlad of old had chosen Islam over Orthodxy and there was no ‘third Rome’. It is difficult to parse a leader’s speech when it is a mix of the messianic and the revolutionary and real politik. IMO, Putin perceives (or used to ) Russia’s place as one that straddles Asia and Europe and the one country that provides a global point of balance (consider the two headed eagle as a symbol of this) (and all the pipeline and rail routes that criss cross east tot west). Also, IMO, one of Putin’s ‘missions’ has been to restore pride to the Russian people. Now, his intent is to provide a purpose- the sacrifies demanded by war are not only for Russia’s benefit only but also for humanity. This will resonate with the widows and ‘global south’ (the objective to weaken the opponent’s alliances and bring them closer to your center). One of the roots of Russiaphobia was the Bolshevik Revolution – OMG – if England had to give up its colonies and private property. So Putin provides pride & purpose with historical moral blessings. OK, propaganda, but what does the “West’ provide: US leadership floundering all over the place and, if not being led around by the nose, in close partnership with a state apparently intent on genocide and colonialism. Two different messages.

    1. Kouros

      Putin is rather pragmatic. I think he wants first and foremost the security and material prosperity without forgetting culture of the Russian people. Then they will have something to be proud off…

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        ive read enough of him to admire him.
        him and Lavrov.
        and i never knew about russian humor,lol…and i thought i was dry and arid in my humor.

        and i have a crush on Zakharova.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          ie: i’d add all 3 of them to the list of those who are welcome around my fire to talk and yell and argue,’
          that list includes people i max boot.
          but to be included i hafta think they’d be interesting to argue with.
          so…camille paglia, zizek(snort), pikkety, our own michael hudson, et cetera.
          Yannis, that Greta chick, lady gaga, and most of the NC Commentariat.
          we should have a summit or something.
          i offer up my place, with the caveat that the actual location be kept secret….blindfolds, etc.
          and the dubliners are playing their irish republican rebellion music at the wilderness bar at the moment.
          this may or may not have an effect on my rhetoric,lol.

          1. Kouros

            Zizek?! If I were to speak Czeck, cannot take his English.

            A debate he had with Jordan Petersen was such a downer. They were both extremely lame.

        2. Kouros

          I like Putin very much as a person and as a leader.

          I remember seeing a videoclip with him visiting some Siberian town affected b some floods and he visited houses and the interaction between him and a boy under 9 was priceless in naturaleness.

          Zakharova has some strong points going for her, including dancing. But while she is expert in the Chinese culture language, dares to speak about the Romanizaton happening in Moldova… as if Moldovan and Romanian were two different languages…

          1. Polar Socialist

            as if Moldovan and Romanian were two different languages

            You know they really aren’t, I know they really aren’t, but do the Moldovans know they really aren’t?

            In 2020 OSCE study 69% of ethnic Moldovans said they spoke Moldovian. Something like 80% think their identity is different from Romanian.

            Identities are weird things. And self-identification very seldom follows any logical rules.

  17. podcastkid

    ‘…This is the same mental war where the destruction of the enemies’ self-consciousness is the goal,’ Ilnitsky emphasised.

    learned helplessness?

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