Breaking With the Past?
The practical use of history is its distorted exploitation. This abuse accompanies the following discourse about the present.
Perceived developments that disturb the world order and our holiday peace produce sundry responses. Some are echoes of a fictitious past that nets new soothing errors in fact or logic that cater to self-deceit. If that is so, then a purpose can be to avoid the challenges of self-protection. Behind this hides the attempt to skip the effort that self-defense causes. Problem solution by denial ties to a vice of our culture to wallow in the luxury that isolates failures from their unpleasant consequences.
This lets the PC-infected to excuse criminals as the victims of “society” while the cornered policeman that confronts him becomes a violent racist. A symptom of this decadence, which helps us to avoid our duties, we encounter in miss-educated children. Parents are too lazy to educate their kids, so they raise them to become brats. The theory is that, if it feels good it is right to do it, even if the results are wrong. Indulgence in inaction is wrapped in excusing slogans. These pretend that (a) nothing that should not be happening is occurring, and (b) that to say “no” could warp the child’s psyche. Therefore, the little tyrants are badly socialized and, for that reason, their misdeeds grow as they mature.
Such an “ailment” is embedded in the response to Russia’s misbehavior, which, for the time being, victimizes the Ukraine. Apologists that wish to remain bystanders, plead their inaction’s ethics to maintain their moral high ground.
As a result, we are confronted with the charge that the West, by not respecting Russia’s sphere of interest, has provoked her “defensive attack.” Two main claims support the “counter-punch.” A provocation has come about by associating the USSR’s earlier dependencies with the European Union and NATO. Moscow’s militancy is blamed on that measure. Thereby the logic of those that want their private peace more than peace for all, transforms belligerency into a defense. Second, the excusers remind us that Russia had been repeatedly invaded from the West. Therefore, her sensitivity to threats which is transmuted into a natural reaction.
The latter explanation rests on genuine events. Russia’s resentment of Europe has a case to make. One is that during the Mongol Yoke (12th -15th century) when the Russian states were the provinces of an oriental empire, these Russias received no western help. Note that, the help would not have been given to Moscow because of her initial insignificance at the eastern rim of the “Russian zone.” Who could foresee that Moscow would absorb – with Mongol help – all other Russian principalities? The doubters of a victim role that demands collective therapy but forbids all resistance, will interpret this process as an expansion from east to west.
Hardly had the Russian lands been “gathered” and made independent, when Moscow began its spread beyond the ethnic boundary and pushed to the Pacific. This indicates that historical victimhood is a flexible tool of the shrewd.
Indeed, Russia has been the subject of the ritually cited attacks by Napoleon and by Stalin’s National Socialist ally, Hitler. Therefore, so the plea, the suspicion of the West is justified. Such claims lose value if their surface is penetrated. For instance, prior to their unification in 1871, France had victimized the German states. What rights against today’s France results if we apply the logic used in Russia’s case?
History is not a watertight basis to support future scenarios or to be a scale for current guilt. Nevertheless, since the appeasers like to quote the manicured past, their plea’s Achilles heel is to be pointed out. It is that the history cited is a selective segment of the record and is, therefore, not “history” only its out of context misuse. The edifice totters if a few “overlooked” matters are cited. That these are often ignored does not diminish their value as correctives.
Let us go backward. When drafted into the People’s Army, we were told that we would paint the White House red. (This forecast failed to anticipate the contribution of later occupants.) Stalin’s entourage entertained in 1945 the idea of a march to the Channel. How does the enclave of Königsberg/Kaliningrad or of Karelia fit the tale? What about the “defensive” Iron Curtain that “protected” conquered land to the west of what the Czars had grabbed? Equally “defensive” is that Stalin made WW2 possible by aligning himself with Hitler to receive parts of Poland and the Baltic states. Remember the Miracle on the Vistula? In 1920, the Poles defeated before Warsaw the westward rolling Red Army. What about Russian intervention in 1849 in Hungary? Think of the partitions of Poland in the 18th century. Was the conquest of today’s “‘Stans” defensive? Well, not more than the 17th century eviction of the Swedes from the continent or the annexation of the Ukraine.
The purpose here was not to show that Russia is a special threat to her neighbors not all of whom are in the West; The Empire took a million and a half square kilometers of land from the Chinese. The intended point is that countries that have the means and the inclination will, at the cost physically feeble and politically confused systems, move to exploit their opportunities.
Realistically, Russia is a normal country. She is neither a born aggressor nor a pacific victim of invaders. Like all others, she is an opportunist who reacts when raw meat is presented to the carnivore that hides in all of us.
Expansionism and appeasement relies upon fashionable slogans in an age when the media connects the masses to politics. Distorted history, unabashed denial - the “little green men” in the Crimea- and fake facts, work if consistently asserted and when disbelief is deemed to be an act of war. A composite example: Whoever questions our rendition is not interested in peace, increases tension as critique angers us. This makes him into a warmonger and responsible for the conflict that could arise once we are provoked. Putin’s’ new military doctrine applies this tried recipe.
Weapons systems that guarantee the enemy’s total destruction are to be set up to support the struggle for peace. Critics at home and abroad abound as hostility is discovered in attempts to set limits to expansionism. The message to these is, “let us do what we want on our turf that we are free to define. Show esteem or we annihilate you for disrespecting our ways.”
The conclusions are unpleasant for someone who has spent his efforts to counsel forgiveness to the victims of Soviet imperialism. That was seen to be a precondition of reconciling Russia with becoming a normal nation and not the torchbearer of an idea to conquer the world. Alas, now it seems that offense is taken by the mention of forgiveness as it implies a dark past. That kind of forgiving is not forgiven. However, forgiveness without atonement amounts to subservience. Instead of breaking with past patterns, Putin seeks chauvinistic support by enlisting a spotless past’s glory to carry the tradition of victories into the future. Resisting that is taken to signify hostility to a “Top Nation” that, as he remind us, has always crushed its enemies.
Regardless of how the observer views daily politics, Moscow’s threat of temper tantrums during which it warns, it might lose control, contains a warning. A large state relying on a world-class military and that coercively threatens to “lose it,” is as dangerous as it threatens to become. Additionally, the rejection of the agreed upon procedures by which the world’s order can be changed, is a threat. This menace grows because defensive reactions to encroachments are depicted as the expression of visceral anti-Russianism, as manifestations of a hostile world that conspires to deprive Russia of her destiny.