10 thoughts on “Russia’s Emergence as an International Conservative Power”

  1. That whole “conservative” thing might just be going away soon. Professor, did you read Putin’s yesterday address to the nation about the Covid-19 situation? He’s going to be taxing the rich; increasing benefits; and stuff like that.
    I think it’s inevitable that Russia will return to some form of socialism, because that’s what most people want. Heck, even Americans want it now. Like, I know this lady at work, her parents were Ukrainian Jews who emigrated in the 1970’s. While railing against Communism and socialism, they somehow always had their hands out for American government assistance. To resettle, get special deals on education, etc.

    So anyhow, this lady was totally brainwashed by her parents that everything socialistic was bad. She even launched into me one day about how scary Bernie Sanders was (she just assumed I am a Bernie supporter even though I detest the guy – LOL); so anyhow, when this crisis happened, and the boss told her she was going to be furloughed, her immediate reaction was to ask, how she could collect government unemployment checks! I had to bite my tongue not to say something like, “Oh, but isn’t that too socialistic for your taste?”

    Bottom line, people need to live, and more and more people, even Americans, are starting to demand socialistic measures be taken. There are estimates that very shortly up to 50% of Americans will be unemployed or under-employed.

    So, I have a feeling that this whole “conservative” intellectual movement and the rantings of a, say, Berdiaev, are shortly going to be completely irrelevant to the masses of teeming humanity out there! Heck, even Putin is turning back into a Commie! He HAS to, if he wants to stay in power.
    🙂

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    1. The association of conservatism with free markets, laissez faire, etc is largely an Anglo-Saxon thing deriving from the Cold War when conservatives felt that they had to be anti-socialist. But it’s not the historic norm. In Russia’s case, as I explain in the article, there is a strain of ‘left conservatism’, which combines socially conservative ideas with what one might call left-wing economics.

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      1. Actually, now that I think about it, Bolshevism and especially Stalinism sort of fit into that “left conservatism” mold. To be sure, early Bolshevism had a “bohemian” wing which included feminists and the like, but the main party leaders believed in traditional family roles. Under Stalin, Communists became even more conservative, and homosexuality was made illegal, for example. But it was called a “bourgeois deviation” instead of a religious tabu (based on Biblical restrictions).

        So, yes, there is definitely a “conservative left” in that sense. And still is, I reckon.

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      2. Noting new about the characterization of the Stalin and post-Stalin USSR being “conservative”.

        Circa, 1980s and prior, there were US academics making that claim. If I’m not offhand mistaken Richard Pipes was one of them. Ditto a Bukharinist professor I had as a student.

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    2. He’s going to be taxing the rich; increasing benefits; and stuff like that.

      It’s likely that many of the “rich” referred to tend to not be conservative.

      Last summer, Rod Dreher ran a column discussing a Taylor Swift music video that portrayed anti-LGBT conservatives as backwards recluses. This similarly reminded me of the way large companies like Frito-Lay and Coca-Cola have successfully lobbied to defeat a proposition that would have mandated GMO labeling in the US, or how a company like Microsoft could get away with anti-competitive bully tactics such as blackmailing OEMs to not bundle other operating systems.

      One commentator claimed that the reason celebrities in the US have so much wealth and power compared to the middle class is that Reagan redirected wealth from the (conservative) middle class to the (liberal) billionaires. In a twist of irony, Soviet leaders like Brezhnev managed to preserve social conservatism in Eastern Europe by preventing the rise of billionaires, which if I’m not mistaken can explain the relatively higher religiosity in former Warsaw Pact countries compared to in Western Europe.

      To make a long story short, there is nothing “conservative” about cutting taxes for filthy-rich nutjobs who aim to undermine conservative Christian values. And as Paul mentions, tying lower taxes and privatization to conservatism seems to be based on a knee-jerk reaction to what “liberals” strive for, almost as if it were black or white.

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  2. There’s nothing inherently “socialistic” about advocating state ownership of certain productive assets like utilities or strategically important industries which are, for purely technical reasons, best organised as natural monopolies or in need of protection from foreign predators.

    Similarly there is nothing wrong with the public provision of benefits such as health and welfare; after all it’s just a practical application of Christ’s Second Commandment that thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

    Conservatives detest socialism and communism for their inversion of traditional virtues, their debauchery, their cruelty and their administrative incompetence. Nevertheless, while there is little to commend in the author of so much Russian misery, Lenin’s remark that if the Bolsheviks began to hang capitalists, they would compete among each other to sell their tormentors the rope is a sentiment that many conservatives would readily agree with.

    Fawning on capitalism is a trait only of “conservatism” in America and the places most influenced by its ideology. Conservatives have traditionally been skeptical of the materialist impulses that drive capitalism – since Plato’s Republic at least. Conservatives have traditionally believed that wise men should rule, not money-grubbers.

    Unlike socialists and communists, however, who destroy prosperity wherever they prevail, conservatives are prepared to put up with capitalism for the beneficial prosperity that it bestows. They just want to see arrangements in place to make sure that capitalists don’t get to run everything that matters into the ground; things like national sovereignty, tradition, customs, religion, moral standards and the like.

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    1. “Conservatives detest socialism and communism for their inversion of traditional virtues, their debauchery, their cruelty and their administrative incompetence. ”

      Congratulations, Craig! You’ve just described Nicholas II Russian Empire, as well as half a dozen of its contemoraries! 😉

      Oh, and I’d like for you to provide a real example of the aforementioned “sins” done by the “communism”.

      Finally – who’ve empowered you to speak on behalf of all of the so-called “conservatives”? Also – am I the only one who actually bothered to read the article, before rushing to post comments? Because on the very SECOND page of it, our dear Professor writes:

      “This article seeks to determine what being an “international conservative power” actually means for Russia. This is necessary because the idea, while widely accepted, is not without problems. In the first place, the definition of conservatism is hotly disputed. If one takes Samuel Huntington’s view of conservatism as a “positional ideology” (Huntington, 1957, p. 455), then conservatism contains no fixed values and its content varies substantially from place to place and from era to era. A conservative in a free market liberal democracy will be a free market liberal democrat; but a conservative in a communist society will be a communist. As the nineteenth century Russian philosopher Konstantin Leontyev put it, “everyone’s conservatism is his own — the Turk’s is Turkish, the Englishman’s is English, and the Russian’s is Russian” (Minakov, 2011, p. 22). In this view, conservatism is inherently national, and a conservative can be almost anything. This casts a certain amount of doubt on whether being an “international conservative power” is even possible. According to this interpretation, Russian conservatism is inevitably different from any other country’s conservatism and thus non-exportable.”

      “Conservatives have traditionally been skeptical of the materialist impulses that drive capitalism – since Plato’s Republic at least. “

      […]
      […]
      […]

      what?..

      “…Conservatives have traditionally believed that wise men should rule, not money-grubbers.

      “…They just want to see arrangements in place to make sure that capitalists don’t get to run everything that matters into the ground; things like national sovereignty, tradition, customs, religion, moral standards and the like.”

      Plus your overall anti-Left attitudes – c’mon, Craig! Came out from your “third positionist” closet!

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    2. Don’t you think that equalling socialism and “everything bad” is also a typically American trait? According to your definition of socialism and communism current government of … say Ukraine is communist down to the core. If it’s true why the US so ardently supports it, contrary to its own ideology?

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    3. DEBAUCHERY! You mean, like Caligula type debauchery? That isn’t fair at all! Ruling elites are more prone to that sort of behavior than commies, that’s a fact.

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