In a noteworthy recent analysis, Russian-American publicist Dmitry Orlov advances an argument that may sound fatuous, but actually has more substance than meets the eye.
In essence, what Orlov claims is that the often heard criticism hurled at Russians that they have not mastered the technique of soft power is misconceived. And that the widely advertised cutting edge military wonder-weapons are not the most powerful assets in Russia’s arsenal. Orlov advances the startling hypothesis that Russia’s mightiest weapon is not even secret but is out in the open for all to see. And, he would probably add, admire.
That weapon, according to Orlov, is Russia’s ostentatious and magnetic embrace of normalcy, making it attractive to countless citizens of the former “free world” who have come to loath the degeneracy of the West, where they feel trapped. They are searching for an alternative society, where decency and traditional values are actively affirmed and promoted. For many of them, politics aside, contemporary Russia is precisely the kind of society that they miss in their own countries and are now looking for elsewhere.
“It is a world that more and more people in the West want to escape to,” Orlov explains, “leaving behind a landscape blighted by leftist vandalism and enforced repentance for the crime of being of a certain race or of daring to exhale carbon dioxide. They do not wish to subject themselves to the unholy inquisition which doles out punishments to those who remain unenthusiastic about and unsupportive of sexual perversity, gender dysphoria, the destruction of traditional families and the brainwashing of youth. Even if they cannot escape, they can take comfort in knowing that a more normal and less damaged alternative reality exists, and they can secretly sympathize with it.”
Orlov’s plaidoyer rings more strikingly persuasive the more deeply one reflects on the thrust of his argument instead of focusing on the corroborating examples that he furnishes. There may not be, just yet, in the brainwashed West the groundswell of sympathetic support for renascent traditional Russia-in-the making, but an awareness that Cold War moral identities have largely been reversed is palpably rising. At a minimum, in widespread perception the Free World no longer is either geographically or culturally where until recently it was almost universally thought to be.
A perusal of the Western media eloquently makes the point why large segments of the population are being seized by a yearning for normalcy. Examples of lunacy are scattered across the cultural landscape of the dying West. A young woman in Great Britain, born with a disabling condition, successfully sued her mom’s obstetrician for failure to prevent her birth prior to her conception two decades previously. In Switzerland, with technical assistance from avant-garde Netherlands, a 3D printed death capsule is being marketed to the suicidally prone who wish to terminate their existence conveniently and efficiently, circumventing the few remaining medical and bureaucratic obstacles to assisted self-destruction. Further on the topic of death, which seems to obsess the moribund West, in Germany it was absurdly decreed that poof of Covid-19 vaccination is a prior requirement for euthanasia to be legally performed. And in the face of legal challenges to the Roe v. Wade ruling permitting abortion in the United States, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced his intention to make California an “abortion sanctuary state,” where taxpayer money will not just fund abortions which are prohibited elsewhere but will defray also travel and lodging costs for people who come to California to get abortions.
To make even more vividly the point that in the West the culture of death is thriving, the European Union Equality Commission has issued an “inclusive communication directive” to avoid the word “Christmas” in favor of the more inclusive “holiday period,” in order, allegedly, not to offend followers of other faiths. The supposed beneficiaries of their preposterous inclusiveness, of course, have for centuries lived side by side with the followers of Christ without ever expressing the slightest objection to the public mention of the festivity in honour of His birth. Incidentally, the Orthodox word for Christmas is “Nativity,” and that links the Commission’s Christmas directive even more starkly to the morbid leitmotiv of the preceding examples. For good measure, the same Commission has also recommended replacing in generic usage Christian names Mary and John with “inclusive” alternatives, such as Malika and Julio.
This is, of course, but a very limited representative sample of the sheer lunacy that is rampant in the Western world today.
And now back to Dmitry Orlov. He says that “what makes this transformation particularly remarkable is that ten years ago Russia’s soft power barely existed. At that time, a small but vocal opposition demonstrated in the center of Moscow, chanting ‘We need a different Russia.’ But now hundreds of millions of French, Germans, Americans and others in the West are chanting what amounts to ‘We need a different West.’ To the abject horror of their political elites they look to Russia—the country of extreme political incorrectness—with longing, delight and hope. . .”
The more the pandemic of woke madness rages, the greater their influence will become, Orlov predicts: “When this conflagration of mass insanity finally burns itself out, it is Russia that will have the civilizational seed stock with which to re-fertilize the devastated cultural landscape of the West.”
Nothing particularly original here, but it is worth reiterating. Brilliant Russian nineteenth century thinkers, including Dostoyevsky, had already foreseen that before the End it is Russia that would have the last word.
“In the meantime,” Orlov continues, “this is already shaping up to be a Russian century.” And he waxes poetic about his favourite statesman: “This level of soft power is something beyond anyone’s wildest dreams; it is Putin’s judo mastery taken to the nth level. In judo, one directs one’s opponent’s own force against him; here, the opponent is directing his own power against himself while the judo master merely stands back and watches, nodding in approval. In every country that the liberals attempt to reformat to their liking, Russia automatically gains millions of fans, forcing any possible geopolitical confrontation with Russia to fade into the background before the neutralizing force of a great commonality of traditional values. Remaining passive and risking nothing, Russia has gained myriad ways to turn the geopolitical situation to its advantage.”
Reformatted into less flowery language, Orlov’s basic point still is amply supported by much empirical evidence.
As the prophetically perceptive Dostoyevsky noted already in his time, Europe (aka the collective “West”) was even then no more than “the dearest of cemeteries” (дорогое кладбище). The unevenness of Russia’s current resurgence notwithstanding, imbued with its traditional values and, most importantly, the idealism tempered by the common sense of its vastly talented people, it is bound to become one of the major civilizational poles of the emerging multipolar world where, as Orlov rightly points out, cultural attraction will play a far mightier role than brute military strength.