Vladimir Putin is creating “an Anti-Globalist International” of those who see no good future for themselves in the new world and thus hope to guarantee that nothing will ever change, Vladimir Pastukhov says; and he hopes to use this ideology to link up with others abroad to overcome Russia’s isolation and restructure the world.
Thus, it is wrong to say as many have that the Kremlin leader wants to leave Europe, the St. Antony’s scholar says. Instead, he wants to transform it according to the principles of the right-wing there and use these principles to form a new ideology for Russia itself.
Russia’s “union with China is a myth,” Pastukhov says; its “Eurasian isolationism is a bluff.” And thus Russia is not distancing itself from Europe but rather coming closer to it,” although it is not likely that everyone in Europe will be especially pleased by this rapprochement.
“But some in Europe, undoubtedly, will be glad,” he continues. “the Kremlin has its own ‘fifth column’ in the West, and more than that, its numbers are constantly growing. Having made anti-globalism almost the official ideology of post-communist Russia, the Russian leader has attacked a goldmine from which he will be able to draw political dividends far into the future.”
In short, Pastukhov suggests, “Russia is rapidly transforming itself into the center of European reaction,” not into isolationism; and under Putin, it is “actively preparing for the release of the second edition of the Holy Alliance” of the early part of the 19th century.
All this is shown by what was said recently at the Valdai Club in Sochi, the historian suggests when Putin and others described what this new anti-globalist world would be like.
It has long been a commonplace that Russia needs at ideology to be stable, and there is some truth in this, Pastukhov says. It hasn’t had one, and even the propaganda campaign against Ukraine was not a serious ideology but rather an example of “primitive tribalist chauvinism” that like all emotions couldn’t last.
As so often in the past, he continues, when Russia couldn’t come up with a new ideology on its own, it is “borrowing” it from Europe. “Despite having banned the import of cheese and sausage from Europe, Russia in now way has blocked its import of the ideas it requires,” only now, these are “different ideas than those that came earlier,” reactionary rather than liberal.
Not surprisingly, most observers have focused on Putin’s speech among those at Sochi, but the Kremlin leader did not give the most interesting or instructive address, Pastukhov says. Instead, that was given by Vaclav Klaus whose words made it clear that “a unified Europe like a unified European policy or unified European view of the world no longer exists.”
As the Czech leader made clear, “Europe has split on the issue of its attitude toward the consequences of globalization.” Some believe that the solution to today’s problems is more globalization and greater integration, but others, the Euroskeptics, think that the solution is to oppose both the one and the other.
Now, as Klaus’ speech makes clear, “’the Euroskeptics’ have extended to [Putin] the hand of help at a difficult time for the Kremlin and have become the new spiritual friends of Russia.”
Klaus said that “existing problems… come more from the West than from the East” and that “we are not ready… to sacrifice our comfortable life… We have no strong opinions.” Instead, Europe is sunk in apathy because “we have replaced education with political correctness and the imposition of a definite [liberal and globalist] ideology.”
“Ideologically,” Pastukhov suggests, “Putin at Sochi was secondary and Klaus was primary” because Klaus’ remarks had the effect of demonstrating that instead of “homegrown Eurasianism with its doubtful intellectual base … the Kremlin prefers to raise above Russia the banner of ‘European reaction.’”
Putin’s Russia has become the world leader of anti-globalism;” and in this one can say that “while Klaus talks about this, Putin is acting: he is building a bridge which should unite the opponents of globalization ‘inside’ and ‘around’ Europe. He is establishing his own anti-globalist international which should help Russia break out of its latest ‘hostile capitalist encirclement.’”
“Anti-globalism,” of course, “is a mantra for those who do not see their place in the future and therefore want that the future not come… They want to receive certain formal guarantees for the preservation of the historical status quo. Leave Europe to the Europeans, the CIS to Russia, the Middle East to Iran, and go on.”
This “might be a beautiful plan if it could be realized,” Pastukhov says, “but so far no one has been able to stop time.” Moreover, “in this international there is neither America nor China nor India. America “believes in itself,” and “China and India believe that in the still undescribed new world they will have a better place than now.”
In fine, “the anti-globalists are those who respond to Hamlet’s question with the answer ‘not to be.’ But although anti-globalism is the religion of the weak, that doesn’t mean that it has no future” given that “religions of the oppressed often have become later the religions of the ruling classes.”
“Putin is part of a historical trend,” the St. Antony’s scholar says. “Russian emperors always were more interested in foreign countries than in their own land… [he] is not yet a Russian emperor but he’s not simply a president either.” Like his predecessors, Putin “is deeply interested in geopolitics seeing himself in the role of the liberator of Europe… from revolutionary infection.”
“The internal split of European society hardly will permit the EU to stand as a united front against Russia,” Pastukhov says. “Europe is obviously tired” from its support of Ukraine and is likely to give way to the Kremlin leader over time. Putin’s problem is inside Russia: he can do a lot abroad with this approach but not much at home.
Organizing “a new world order” abroad is obviously easier for him than managing housing or hospitals inside Russia. Indeed, the St. Antony’s historian says, it sometimes seems that “the president is also an émigré: he has lost his head in geopolitics.”
At present, Putin does not face “any visible foreign threats. Being at the height of his political career and being the unquestioned ruler of Russia and leader of a new Holy Alliance, he does not face any threats — except the growing loneliness and disappointment” he has created for himself.
“Something similar occurred 200 years ago with his great predecessor, the conqueror of Europe and the creator of the first Holy Alliance, the glorious emperor Aleksandr I. Until now rumors circulate that he didn’t die in Taganrog but disappeared having lived out the remainder of his life as a hermit in Siberia.”
The same thing could happen with Putin. He “will never be overthrown; he will simply pass into history together with his secrets.”