The other day a FB friend, Vaska, shared this post by someone called Jeff Martin. No one seems to know the guy but I’ve sent a friend request. How could I not, to one who wrote this?
Someday, some enterprising and quite brave young scholar will write a dissertation analyzing the overt orientalism of the Western discourse on Russia, doing for Slavic studies what Said did for Near Eastern studies. Until then, those of us who are of Eastern European descent, or married to Russians, or just plain, you know, not racist, will have to endure this nonsense. The neocon/liberal establishment is having a hissy because the sequence of a) the denouement of the Cold War, b) the Hungry 90s in Russia, and c) the expansion of the Western alliance structure was supposed to forever reduce Russia to the status of vassal node in the neoliberal architecture of exploitation and primitive accumulation. But it didn’t. They resent the country and its people for refusing to submit, for refusing to bless the chains so malevolently fashioned for them, as indeed they resent any people who have the temerity to assert themselves, for themselves. American ideology, since Wilson (Worst. President. Ever. Yes, even worse than the current one.), has been replete with platitudes about the ‘self-determination of nations’ and shit like that; but actually-existing America despises nations and peoples that actually assert their rights to self-determination – what America actually desires on the part of other nations and peoples is a freely-willed conformity to American norms and interests in political economy, which is why America so loves most of the nations of Eastern Europe, which, in their desire to escape the Soviet past, freely embraced the accumulation-by-dispossession of deindustrialization and subordination to international cartels in finance.
This is why – to be slightly provocative – it was not at all inappropriate for Trump to shove the Croatian (?) PM in that goofy photo-op. Rather, it was the breach of etiquette that discloses the actual geopolitical significance of the relationship: most of these EU executives are satraps and prefects who administer the exploitation of their countries on behalf of multinational conglomerates and banks based in London, New York, Frankfurt, Berlin, Ireland, Paris, and – sometimes – Sweden (for the Baltics). These are quislings and stooges who sell out their people for personal membership in that transnational class of neoliberal parasites; as such, they merit neither respect as representatives of their nations, nor honor as heads of state formally equal to other heads of state – in the precise sense, they are *not* heads of state, but compradors acting on behalf of their superiors, in an effort to buy the allegiance of those superiors, and thereby, to buy their way into that class. The shove, in its boorishness, just demonstrated the reality of the power dynamics that already exist.
But Russia has refused that role, and that is why it is hated. It is not hated, by people who actually matter for the setting of policy, because of the gay ‘propaganda’ law, or because of Ukraine, or because of journalists getting gunned down in apartment stairwells. If there were no gay law and pride parades were held in every city in Russia every week; if Russia had done nothing in Ukraine after February 2014, and neo-fascists were running riot through Donbass and Crimea, and the US Navy were moored in Sevastopol; if no dissidents and journalists had ever come to bad ends in Russia, American policymakers would still hate Russia for some other reasons. There would be complaints about the relationship of Moscow and the regional governors; there would be bitching about the fact that Russia still retains control over its own energy resources, and probably some bullshit lawfare attempts to sanction it over this; and neocons/liberals would be whinging more volubly about Russia’s geographic expanses and ethno-linguistic diversity, and advocating self-determination for every ethno-linguistic groupuscule found somewhere in the RF: little groups with potential clientelistic elites waiting to sell out, just like most of the Eastern Europeans. Because American elites love nothing more than those who enthusiastically bless their chains and kiss the scourges that lash their backs.