Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Hard Right

It's interesting, and instructive, to observe how the British conservative political establishment tends to align itself with some of the world's most illiberal and authoritarian regimes - in this case that of Russia's Vladimir Putin. Take, for example, the recent schoolmasterish homily in the Telegraph from former Thatcher adviser Norman Stone:
If Ukraine attempts to join the Germano-Polish west, which exploited her people cruelly up to the 17th century, then the Moskale (Ukrainian for Russians) will show who is boss. And maybe - maybe - it is for the good of us all. Europe needs a functioning Russia much more than a semi-functioning Ukraine.
Stone is perhaps an extreme example, with his references to the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as "pimples on Russia's back", and his blandly outrageous references to them as countries where "the Russians are meant to learn Baltic languages that, with the best will in the world, Russians cannot take seriously as cultural vehicles (and the Euro Parliament is strangely silent as to the linguistic oppression that results, whereas there is jumping up and down about Kurdish in Turkey)." But there is also Paul Robinson, in this week's Spectator:
We Brits love an underdog. As Robert Baden-Powell harrumphed in his classic Scouting for Boys, ‘If you see a big bully going for a small weak boy, you stop him because it is not “fair play”.’ Gazprom’s price hike provoked great howls of indignation in some circles of the British press, particularly as Russia has this week taken over the rotating chairmanship of the G8, and the issue will certainly embarrass Western leaders. According to the Daily Telegraph, ‘The methods of gangsterism and blackmail now being used by Gazprom are reminiscent of the Soviet era.... The West has to tell Russia that, plainly and simply, its conduct is unacceptable if it wishes to remain part of the club of civilised nations.’ Unfortunately for those spinning this simplistic tale of bully and bullied, Gazprom’s ‘unacceptable conduct’ is actually something we have been requiring of it. For in raising the prices they charge for gas in Eastern Europe, the Russians are merely going part way towards meeting demands made by the European Union over several years.
These articles are another sign of the increasing convergence of hard right and hard left, not only in British politics, but also on an international scale.
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