Russia under Putin is certainly different than Russia under Communism. That enemy was an ally in fighting Hitler only because Hitler invaded Mother Russia. When that war was over, Russia reverted to their older position of being hostile to participatory democracy, a political philosophy traditional in authoritarian Russia. They did not like Europe's direction at all.
For all Russia's talk about “The People,” whether ruled by the Czars or by the Communists, the rulers did not expect “the people” to be in charge. They always believed that the State knew best. But to keep “the people” in line with their rule, they created certain imagined figures that the people could embrace and love (and when necessary fear): “Mother Russia,” imagined as an all-embracing female motherly image; the mother church, Russian Orthodoxy with its colorful architecture and its enormous wealth and power; and the Little Father, the Czar himself, in whom resided all good. Any bad out there was because he did not know about it.
When the Communists destroyed the Empire and murdered the Romanovs, they quickly substituted for all the old institutions. Stalin replaced the Little Father. Mother Russia was replaced by the Party. The arts (Ballet, Circus, Opera) were now for all the people and replaced Mother Church. Science replaced Religion. Reason replaced Russian Mysticism. The only missing piece was participatory governance. Democracy was not wanted. Otherwise, they were a modern state.
Putin was part of that modern state. So what has happened to him? Why is he marching backward into a past? What is it that he is sharing with the dark ignoramuses of Islam? What are they most afraid of and loathing in their world view? I am shocked to note that one of the things that both fear most is, of all things, a revolution that we have all taken for granted, the emergence of women as equal human beings. This has ramifications that our world has absorbed but theirs has not.
When Putin first demonstrated unexpected devotion to the Russian Orthodox Church, it seemed odd for a once devout Communist. How can an atheist do this? The Russian Orthodox Church has well known positions on many issues regarding women-and Jews-and homosexuals---hence Putin's position on all three must distress modern Russians who had hoped to bring their country into current European values.
Russia's values and politics are increasingly in line with those of the Islamists, who also scorn women, religious toleration, and participatory democracy---all values espoused by the modern west. Putin's cozy relationship with Chechnya's Muslim dictatorship, Iran, and Syria raise eyebrows also.
I don't think this is going to go well for Russia in the long haul. The Nazi/Soviet peace pact gave Russia just a little breathing room before the Nazis bared their teeth and started to devour Russia. Islamists are not good bedfellows for the long haul. Islamists are on their own march off a cliff to oblivion.
Putin has another problem. As one of the world's biggest kleptocrats, having stolen billions of dollars from what should have been money used to improve Russia's infrastructure, he is hanging on to power to avoid going to prison. The issue may be resolved unpleasantly for him in a palace coup before he leaves office. Russian mothers are not happy seeing the body bags returning from Ukraine and they will be heard from.
Russia deserves better than to march into the past arm in arm with Islamists and the Russian Orthodox Church. Russian women are a power to reckon with.
And this is a country with enormous talent just waiting to be unleashed again. We have seen renaissances there before, and I look forward to seeing this happen again.
Their temporary alliance with Islam could turn on a dime. Islamism is in the grip of an apocalyptic endgame. They are at war with the modern world, which they call “Rome” (by which they mean Byzantium, the mother of Russia back then, and something that has not existed for 500 years). Russia does not want to be part of that apocalypse, does it?
Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of God's Law or Man's Law. You may contact her at Lfarhat102@aol.com or www.globalthink.net.