Paleocons for Putin

The paleocons’ esteem for Putin’s Russia goes deeper than mere admiration for his standing up to what they see as a bullying, interventionist America. For the paleocons, Putin evokes the values that made America great, before the disasters of multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism wreaked their havoc on American society. Writing in the current issue of the American Conservative, the magazine Buchanan founded, William Lind faults Americans for not failing to take off their Cold War goggles and realize that Russia no longer presents a threat to the Western way of life; if anything, Lind argues, it is Russia that today embodies the traditional values forsaken by a post-Christian West. We simplistically conflate Russia with the Soviet Union, Lind alleges, “forget[ing] that Tsarist Russia was the most conservative great power, a bastion of Christian monarchy loathed by revolutionaries, Jacobins and democrats,” a rather clear repudiation of democracy itself. Democrats had ample reason to loathe Tsarist Russia, of course. Not only was it a country that carried out frequent pogroms against Jews (something which probably doesn’t bother Lind, who at a 2002 Holocaust denial conference, spoke of a plot seeking the “destruction of Western culture” carried out by “guys” who “were all Jewish), it was one of the most unequal societies on earth, bounded by a tiny, noble aristocracy at the top and a vast peasant class at the bottom. Indeed, it was Tsarist Russia’s punishing inequality and its refusal to reform that sowed the seeds of the Bolshevik Revolution. That Lind, Buchanan, and other paleocons would romanticize such a backwards, agrarian society is hardly surprising, given their wistfulness for the antebellum, pre-industrial American South, a “humane and decent civilisation [sic],” in Larison’s words. “The defeat of the Confederacy, though the Confederate political experiment does not exhaust the richness of Southern culture and identity, was a defining moment when the United States took its steps towards the abyss of the monstrous centralised [sic] state, rootless society and decadent culture that we have today.”