The communist paradox of servility in the name of freedom has been replaced by materialistic freedom in the name of servility; a profoundly misunderstood freedom, that is.
A lot of it may be ascribed to the general condition of modern man, but it takes one attentive look to see behind the thin mesh of international brand names and well-groomed appearances of the “New Russian” women and men an amazingly outdated bigotry, boorishness, and xenophobia in the contemporary mainstream Russian culture.
“Foreigners from the South are coming here for the easy gains and with criminal intentions”. That is not a political slogan of a right-wing party, but a tagline of a prime time “information” programme, and you can bet with reasonable safety that none of those slick young people filling that fancy overpriced café would find such televised prejudice in any way questionable.
It’s cool, it’s fashionable to be nationalistic, to be anti-Asian, anti-Orange” (Ukrainian revolution), and it is, actually, even more fashionable to be anti-West.
The West is the past, we are the future.
Never mind that the brand names are Western, never mind that the statistics say that the Russian population is on course to a demographic crunch. We have rediscovered faith in ourselves, in our state and our president, and our faith is stronger than your logic.
Logic says that the rediscovery of faith coincided with or followed the surge in oil prices and the war crimes in Chechnya; logic also says that the monstrous corruption (clearly on the increase under Putin) and persisting gangster rule is wrecking the country as a whole, its prospects, its strategy, even that somewhat cryptic mission we Russians believe our country has in history.
But for the visible minority cultivated by the present regime such logic has no validity. Logic in general is not in vogue here at the moment, just as human rights are not recognized as a value by some humans who are very protective of their own rights.
… the far right wants more than merely being tolerated, it wants Russia for itself.
Its only weapon is murder. Political murder.
Not murder to prevent an information leak or to get rid of an awkward witness. Murder to shock, to provoke, to frighten, to denigrate. Both in Russia and the West.
With murder’s help the West shall be shown its place – that of impotence in the face of new Russian power and old Russian values. The more universally respected the victim the better.
International recognition used to be a protection for Soviet dissenters; it has since become a liability for Russian defenders of human rights.
And while Putin’s very own balancing act - which some call “stability” - goes on, while humanist democracy has no following, support and the passion that nationalism seems to have, one thing is certain: innocent people, courageous and honest people will continue to be murdered.
People like Anna Politkovskaya. Because she was murdered in a tug of love between Putin and the far right. Fascists vying for power kill to claim - with the spectacular impunity of their crimes - Putin as their ally.
They kill to watch him go through the exercise of refusing to feel shame. They kill to test a comrade before taking the field in earnest.
All signs are that Putin has passed that test.