Vladimir Putin and the Falwell bloc

As a student of history, and Russia, it’s fascinating watching the new-Russia practice the same old propaganda tactics the Soviet Union employed, but now from the opposite end of the political spectrum.

Back in the day, the Soviets couldn’t be any friendlier to lefties in the West. Our socialist and communist parties in particular often had cozy ties to the Russians.

Fast forward to today, and Vladimir Putin’s Russia is practicing the same politics of wooing western surrogates, but now those surrogates are an odd collection of the far left and the far right.

The far left we saw in action during Russia’s invasion and annexation of Ukrainian Crimea. Some on the left seemed almost wounded that anyone would dare criticize Putin and defend Crimea.

But there was a far greater, and in some ways more subtle, rally for Putin among the right in America and abroad. It started with America’s Republican party, many of whose members could hardly contain themselves when gushing about their manly-man in the Kremlin.

obama-whcd-hannity-giuliani-huckabee-putin

Along the same lines, from the Independence Party in the UK to the National Front in France, far-right parties in Europe rushed to defend Putin as well.

Then there was America’s religious right. They’re still smarting from the implosion of their once grand movement. Their ancestral home, the Republican party, now treats them like a modern-day Ozymandias (long on bluster, short on substance, and cut off at the knees). Politically, the war over gay rights in America is over — while skirmishes remain, the gays have won, and the far right knows it.

That’s why America’s religionists have moved their mission abroad, mostly to Africa, but also to Europe. And now, with Vladimir Putin’s help, they’ve found a new, more powerful home in Moscow.

Liam Hoare, in a nice piece in Slate, writes of the new “gay cold war” between Moscow and the West. And in some ways, it’s the continuance of the same old cold war that was largely, but not entirely, based on human rights (our respect for them, and their lack).

falwell-putin

The modern-day collusion between America’s Christian conservatives and Moscow isn’t without concern. You see, propaganda works. Whether for good or evil, honing your message and selling it well can work wonders for your cause.

But it’s also true that progress is an intractable and insidious foe. Freedom, be it personal or national, has a pesky way of winning out in the end — as the religious right in America found out the hard way, and their bff in the east will find out soon enough.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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32 Responses to “Vladimir Putin and the Falwell bloc”

  1. PauloBrignallpib says:

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  2. AnthonyLook says:

    “The far left we saw in action during Russia’s invasion and annexation of Ukrainian Crimea. Some on the left seemed almost wounded that anyone would dare criticize Putin and defend Crimea.”
    What far left are you talking about? No extreme progressive, liberal, or plain Democrat has ever publicly or otherwise chimed in, in support of Putin on his Crimea invasion. Link please.

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  4. FLL says:

    Not entirely off-topic. The headline from Huffpo this evening (“Kremlin Cracks Down”) links to an article about today’s developments in Russia:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/30/alexei-navalny-breaks-house-arrest_n_6395886.html

    Things seem to be quickly getting out of hand, with the Kremlin arresting a nationally known Putin critic, a large crowd of his supporters gathering in front of the Kremlin this evening and police arresting about 100 people in the crowd. So tell me, Bill and Nicho et al, do you think “Barry” is behind it all? Looks like Vlad is getting desperate.

    Swift political change almost always occurs in the most important city, e.g., colonial Boston, Paris during the Revolution. I don’t think the average Russian much cares about what Americans think, but I think the average Russian cares very deeply about what Ukrainians in Kiev think. Medieval Kievan Rus was the crucible of Slavic civilization and gave birth to both Ukraine and Moscovy. Why do you think Putin freaked out so much during Ukraine’s Orange Revolution in 2004? Because he knew that freedom in Ukraine would infect the relatively sophisticated population of Moscow. Yes, freedom is infectious that way. Putin didn’t sleep easy until his ally, Yanukovych, was safely in power in 2010. It’s all unravelling now.

  5. FLL says:

    Boo hoo. I feel so abandoned. I was just trying to be congenial with Mr. Roy Tyrell, but he flees from me and ignores my replies. He even posted another reply to Naja pallida after I posted my reply to his comment. Sniff, sniff. Waaaaa! Do you think it was something I said?

  6. FLL says:

    Try replying to my comment above, coward.

  7. RoyTyrell says:

    The world is not a fair place.

    No amount of marching, parading or legislation will make a gay couple as valuable to society then a married man and woman… WITH CHILDREN…

    A married man and woman who choose not to procreate – well, then you may have a point

  8. FLL says:

    Excerpt (1) from your comment: “I consider myself a libertarian in the classic sense. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home is their business.”

    Excerpt (2) from your comment: “Rome, right before the sacking by Visigoths, embraced homosexuality as not just an alternative – but a celebration of all that had become corrupt and rotten with the empire.”

    Excerpt (2) from your comment clearly shows the reader that what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home upsets you a great deal. You are, therefore, not a libertarian in the classic sense, but a bullshitter in the classic sense. No one reading your comment would be fooled. By the way, all same-sex relations became illegal in the Roman Empire starting in 390 CE under Theodosius I (see the Theodosian Code). That was 20 years before the sack of Rome by the Visigoths. Nice try, ignoramus.

  9. Naja pallida says:

    Except your entire premise is negated by the fact that Russia is a country with nearly a million orphan children. Many of whom end up dependent on the state for their entire lives, even after they are released from orphanages as adults, because they are offered zero support structure on which to build a productive life. The kind of support structure that a family, even one with gay adoptive parents, could readily provide.

    The simple capability of procreation does not make any couple a more contributing member of society. The birth rate in Russia still hasn’t really stabilized, it went up for a couple years, but is dropping again. That is much more a symptom of economic factors than anything else. When a country is stable, has good employment opportunities, and jobs that pay well, its birth rate almost invariably goes up. Equal rights have absolutely nothing to do with it. And gay rights are equal rights. It isn’t much more complicated than that.

  10. RoyTyrell says:

    I consider myself a libertarian in the classic sense. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home is their business.

    But as this author has made the “gay rights” manifesto a continuance of foreign policy. I think its relevant to ask – exactly – what are “gay rights” and what do these “rights” mean for society.

    One remembers that when Mr Putin assumed office, Russia was in a demographic free fall. Its very existence as a nation was threatened simply because the Russian people, after centuries of unspeakable horrors, simply did not have the will or desire to procreate.

    Procreation implies and man and a woman (not a man and another man) engaging in intercourse for the purpose of fertilizing an egg to bring new life into the world.

    The serves the fundamental purpose of society sustaining itself. It is the most raw, primal, irreplaceable force of humankind.

    It is for THAT reason society dating back to the dawn of of earliest pre-christian tribes respected the bond of man, woman and children as a vital and irreplaceable element of their existence.

    The “privileges” bestowed on that union had nothing to do with religion – but of survival.

    Those same privileges simply have no application to “gay couples”. That is where the author and is cohorts fail. That is why their historically unique ” gay rights” cause will fail.

    I say unique, but actually, that is not quite true. Rome, right before the sacking by Visigoths, embraced homosexuality as not just an alternative – but a celebration of all that had become corrupt and rotten with the empire.

    We all know how that ended.

  11. rmthunter says:

    From a somewhat deeper historical perspective, we’re seeing the contemporary workings of the balance of power between East and West that’s been the fundamental factor in international politics for centuries. Turkey and Russia have always been at loggerheads, hence Turkey allies with Europe and the West; and the Ukraine, which is not particularly pro-Russian (ahem) becomes a bulwark for Russia against Turkey, as well as offering a solid position on the Black Sea. Russia has always been expansionist, and therefore Western Europe has always been wary of Russia. Russia, having been isolated until the 17th century, has always been equally wary of Western Europe. (Peter the Great’s Westernization met a lot of resistance domestically. Putin is siding with the boyars.) The US is firmly allied with Europe and always has been, and allied with Russia only when absolutely necessary. The only real difference now is that the stage is global rather than local, meaning spheres of influence are less clearly defined (don’t forget the role of foreign aid in the Cold War), but the old antagonisms, geographic as much as purely political, are still operating. (A footnote: Russia and China have always been uneasy neighbors, even when both were “communist.”)

    And the motives behind the maneuvers are almost never those that are apparent.

  12. John H Newcomb says:

    Agreed that Aravosis did a great short summary of the pro-Putin far-right + far-left convergence. Far left in US might be somebody such as The Nation’s Stephen J Cohen, in his support for Putin: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/11314817/Secret-dead-of-Russias-undeclared-war.html
    However, US far-right a bit confusing to me (as foreigner not so familiar with US politics), when Glenn Beck (far right?) also criticized Putin over Russia gay propaganda laws: http://www.mstarz.com/articles/25199/20140122/listen-glenn-becks-pro-gay-rant-against-russias-homophobic-2014.htm
    In Europe, it does seem to be clearly far-right+far-left convergence, according to Ukraine political scientist Anton Shekhovtsov:
    – “The “National-Bolshevik” alliance is again at work in the European Parliament”: http://anton-shekhovtsov.blogspot.ca/2014/09/the-national-bolshevik-alliance-is.html
    – “Putin’s useful idiots and little ribbentrops in Europe”: http://anton-shekhovtsov.blogspot.ca/2014/08/putins-useful-idiots-and-little.html

  13. Bill_Perdue says:

    You’d think that Democrats and Republicans could figure that out, and they might if they weren’t controlled by MIC and big corporations and banksters.

  14. Bill_Perdue says:

    Stalin represented a privileged bureaucratic caste that murdered hundreds of thousands of Bolsheviks, Leninists, Trotskyists, anarchists and others. The leaders of the CHEKA/NKVD/KGB were the worst of the lot – shoppping at GUM, buying foreign goods and operating above the law.

    Now this caste has been transformed into the gangster capitalist class in Russia and other former Soviet Republics and is indistinguishable from their American and EU capitalist cousins.

  15. Bill_Perdue says:

    No one except a few obvious Russian plants sided with Putin. Leftists did criticize the US intervention on behalf of Ukrainian fascists.

  16. Indigo says:

    The Stalinists ruined the Revolution, I’ll grant you that. Putin puts me more in mind of Stalin than any other of the leaders of the USSR that I can recall.

  17. Indigo says:

    What? Too raw?

  18. Bill_Perdue says:

    Bigotry is hardly a ‘chesnut’.

  19. Indigo says:

    I think I get what you’re saying but the Deadheads never seemed to me exactly the hippies of yesteryear, tie-dyed shirts or not. I’m from more along the lines of The Incredible String Band wastrels:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emv3r0NxgQg

  20. FLL says:

    I didn’t really catch the tail end of the Grateful Dead crowd, but the people I know love Phish. I think the Grateful Dead crowd just morphed into the Phish crowd, with some mixing of generations. A variety of generations is probably a good thing because it offers a variety of insights that you wouldn’t otherwise have.

  21. Indigo says:

    You know, sometimes I suspect we’re just left-over hippies, not really left or right in the 21st century sense. Whatever that is.

  22. Indigo says:

    In the “far left”? I don’t recall that.

  23. Indigo says:

    I’m sure you can find more than those two old chestnuts.

  24. FLL says:

    What a paranoid, counter-factual sentiment on your part and on the part of your “like” votes. Let me try to parse what you mean by “everyone.” There was no anti-Russian campaign on the part of anyone at all in the West until June of 2013, when the boycott of Russian vodka by gay bars began in response to Russia’s newly passed anti-gay propaganda law. Throughout the remainder of 2013, the Obama administration and other Western governments did nothing more than express their disapproval of Russia’s anti-gay law. There were no sanctions on the part of any Western government. None. So tell me, Nicho, do you disapprove of Western governments simply expressing their objections to Russia’s anti-gay law in 2013 (which is really all they did)? If so, you should be ashamed of yourself. But you might object by saying, “Wait, give me the benefit of the doubt.” My advice here would be that if you want people to give you the benefit of the doubt, you should be specific rather than deliberately vague, which you usually are (as anyone who has ever read your comments knows).

    OK, to give you the benefit of the doubt, maybe you’re not referring to events in 2013. Maybe you’re talking about the actual economic sanctions that Western governments did put into place after Russia’s invasion of Crimea in February, 2014. Do you actually think that the rest of the world is the problem, not Russia’s invasion? The sanctions were a response to Russia’s invasion of Crimea. If Putin hadn’t invaded, there would be no sanctions. You seem to have the cause-and-effect upside down. Please explain, Nicho, how the second event (the sanctions) could have caused the first event (the invasion of Crimea), and then use that curiously upside down timeline to show how “Barry and his neoliberal friends own this one.” Everyone in the West, other than a few homophobic admirers of Putin, believe that Mr. Putin owns this one. One Americablog commenter—I can’t remember who—said that he never met a Putin supporter who wasn’t homophobic. I’m inclined to agree with that commenter.

  25. At some point, if “everyone” is lined up against you perhaps you’re the problem.

  26. You haven’t been reading the comments during our Ukraine posts ;-) And while the outright Putin praise was reserved for the right, many on our side were happy to portray the Russians as the victim in Ukraine.

  27. Bill_Perdue says:

    Add Democrats like Hillary Clinton.

    “Hillary’s Prayer: Hillary Clinton’s Religion and Politics – For 15 years, Hillary Clinton has been part of a secretive religious group that seeks to bring Jesus back to Capitol Hill. Is she triangulating—or living her faith?” http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/09/hillarys-prayer-hillary-clintons-religion-and-politics

    And Obama, until he panicked and rebranded just before the last election to con his LGBT supporters out of money and votes.

  28. Bill_Perdue says:

    The stalinist leaders of the CPUSSR, from the late 1920’s on, had hostile relations with most of the American left, especially the Left Opposition. On the other hand, the Soviet stalinists didn’t just have friendly relations with the American Communist Party, they owned it, supported it financially and dictated it’s political program.

    The Stalin-Hitler Pact, slavishly supported by the CPUSA, destroyed the once quite substantial political influence of American stalinsits. They never recovered and the infamy of their support for them Stalin-Hitler Pact set them up for the Truman-McCarthy witch hunts, which eoliminated their remaining political influence. Most of them joined the Democrats where they remain to this day,
    pathetic old lefties who make excuses for Democrats.

    Socialists of all kinds never had friendly relations with the stalininsts. Never.

    “After the 1946 mid-year elections, in which the Republicans gained scores of new congressional seats, the Democrats, too, began shifting their policies toward a hard line with the Communist world. … Truman, seeing his political party’s power eroding, decided to take a tougher stance toward Communists both at home and abroad. One result was Executive Order 9835, which established in March 1947 a loyalty and security program … Truman’s “loyalty program,” as it became known, started a snowball effect. Individual states started their own loyalty efforts, putting into effect investigations and oaths designed to weed Communists out of the ranks of teachers, administrators, policemen, or any other government employees. This web of national and state loyalty checks would mushroom over the next five years, constituting a extra-judicial system in which government panels could investigate, question, and publicly expose anyone they deemed to be a threat to security. … The US Attorney General started a list of suspect groups, and as the list grew, the number of Americans with investigatory files in any number of local or national offices, from the state legislature to the FBI, grew as well. Soon the files numbered in the hundreds of thousands. It was the start of a domestic security state.” http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/coll/pauling/peace/narrative/page10.html

    Putin is cozying up with the Russian Orthodox cult and with anti-gay christers for the same reason that Obama torpedoed marriage equality in 2008 and pandered to right wing scum like Rick Warren and Donnie McClurkin.

  29. 2karmanot says:

    Good article—-brings up much for discussion. I would like to know just what constitutes the ‘far left’ these days. Nobody in my circle praises Putiput and I always saw myself as far left as it gets.

  30. nicho says:

    Well, when everyone else is lined up against you and trying to destroy your country, you take whatever help you can get. Barry and his neoliberal friends own this one. The US has a long history of driving world leaders into the arms of people we don’t like. You think we would have learned.

  31. Indigo says:

    A list of American Conservative Christian involvements would churn up a curious set of bedfellows: Putin’s Russians, Zionist Israelis, Ugandan zealots and possibly others that I’m not aware of . . . yet

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