Monday, February 25, 2008

WWWtW-Watch: # 1 - A Putinist Paradise?

This is the beta version of WWWtW-Watch - dedicated to the proposition that it can happen here.

The article that presents itself for the initial installment of WWWtW-Watch is a current events piece entitled "Reflections on Kosovo, in the Wake of Independence", by Jeff Martin, whose nom de guerre is Maximos. Martin, who is one of the company of eight regularly contributing authors, is not among the most egregious practitioners of the adjectivally-gravid purple prose that, along with what I call “Academic Esperanto,” characterizes much of the writing on WWWtW. Neither is Martin one of the authors whose ideas I have found to be the most objectionable. He concludes this piece, for example, with a pronouncement on hegemony with which I am in basic agreement:

…[Hegemonism] is unpatriotic, a deformation of the native love of place into a will-to-dominate, the subordination of the rational part of the national character to the spirited part, as though thumos, and not nous, is to rule. Empire is not merely the senescence of republicanism, its overthrow, but a disorder of the soul, individual and collective.

That said, both the paranoiac Islamophobia and the anti-liberal ideology of which the philosophical essence of WWWtW is compounded are present in this piece, making it a suitable one with which to kick-off this new feature. The article links to, and quotes at some length from several sources, including an article by Charlie Szrom, in the Weekly Standard. All of this contributes to an in-depth discussion of the Russian role in the former Yugoslavia, especially Serbia. You have the links, should you wish check them out, but that discussion is not germane to my purposes here.

What is pertinent is what comes immediately prior to the quote on hegemony above:This is worthy of denunciation, not because we ought to admire the Putinist regime in its totality, but because hegemonism…etc.

The “this” referred to here is the idea that, The West should resist Russia…in order to pursue hegemony; and the strategy of resistance entails efforts to prise open the debate the Russians have recently closed: that of the status of the Roaring Nineties. Our solicited conditional admiration for Putin, then, is to be based on his resistance to pressure from the U.S. and the EU to democratize, which is to say, to liberalize, the Russian political machine.

It so happens that the New York Times is currently running a series on life in contemporary Russia, which has several things to say about the modus operandi of the semi-admirable Mr. Putin:

Shortly before parliamentary elections [in Nizhny Novgorod] in December, foremen fanned out across the sprawling GAZ vehicle factory here, pulling aside assembly-line workers and giving them an order: vote for President Vladimir V. Putin’s party or else. They were instructed to phone in after they left their polling places. Names would be tallied, defiance punished. …And: The city’s children, too, were pressed into service. At schools, teachers gave them pamphlets promoting “Putin’s Plan” and told them to lobby their parents. Some were threatened with bad grades if they failed to attend “Children’s Referendums” at polling places, a ploy to ensure that their parents would show up and vote for the ruling party.Finally: Around the same time, volunteers for an opposition party here, the Union of Right Forces, received hundreds of calls at all hours, warning them to stop working for their candidates. Otherwise, you will be hurt, the callers said, along with the rest of your family.

This is the regime that the mind-set at WWWtW finds to be compatible with its own overall philosophy, in that its impenetrable consolidation of power renders it highly resistant to the encroachments of “self-loathing” Western liberalism. To wit (again per the New York Times):

Over the past eight years, in the name of reviving Russia after the tumult of the 1990s, Mr. Putin has waged an unforgiving campaign to clamp down on democracy and extend control over the government and large swaths of the economy. He has suppressed the independent news media, nationalized important industries, smothered the political opposition and readily deployed the security services to carry out the Kremlin’s wishes.

After all, murdering a few investigative reporters in the defense of fascism is no vice. If stifling dissent were not, in some quarters, considered to be a good thing, this post would be unnecessary.

Thence, on to Martin’s words on the topic of the WWWtW article’s title:

The drama of Serbia and Kosovo is a mystery play intended to instruct the Europeans of the future: you are to hate that you are, that you are everything that you are, and, indeed, that you are not the Other, who is entitled by everything that you are and have been to rule over you. And when the Other comes for you, you are to go quietly.

Here we have the characterization of Kosovo, according to Martin:

Kosovo is emblematic of the West's desire to curry favour with the Islamic world, its self-loathing effort to placate the implacable, to demonstrate by means of favour in one place that resented policies elsewhere cannot be so bad after all, and that Muslim opinion should reconsider openness to the West. We are supposedly destined, after all, to dwell in an integrated world, and so ways must be found of propitiating the Muslims. We are additionally informed that:The sordid reality of Kosovo is that of a mafia state ridden through with jihadists, flesh merchants, gun smugglers, drug runners, and irredentists nostalgic for the halcyon days of the Ottoman Empire, when Albanian and Bosnian Muslims were the local jackboots trampling the necks of Balkan Christians - all right under the noses of NATO and the EU.

The population of Kosovo is about 80% Albanian and, Martin implies, a hotbed of Muslim jihadists, whose primary interest in independence is to be able to slaughter all the gentle and pacific Serbian, or Croatian, Christians in their midst. But, strangely enough, according to Wikipedia:

The majority of Albanians today are either atheists or agnostics. According to an official US Government Report: "No reliable data were available on active participation in formal religious services, but estimates ranged from 25 to 40 percent.", leaving 60 to 75 percent of the population non-religious (or, at least, not practicing a religion in public). …Moreover: The country does not have a history of relgious extremism and takes pride in the harmony that exists across religious traditions and practices. Religious pragmatism continued as a distinctive trait of the society and inter-religious marriage has been very common throughout the centuries, in some places even the rule. There is a strong unifying cultural identity, where Muslims and Christians see themselves as Albanian before anything else. This has been solidified historically by the common experience of struggling to protect their culture in the face of various outside conquerors.

Ah, but that’s in Albania, you say. We are speaking of Albanians in Kosovo here. Well, then, consider is this, also from Wikipedia:

Culture-wise Albanians in Kosovo are very closely related to Albanians in Albania. …The most widespread religion among Albanians in Kosovo is Islam (mostly Sunni but with significant number of Bektashis). The other religion Kosovar Albanians practice is Roman Catholicism. There used to be a small Albanian Orthodox community, but their status is uncertain.

Hmm. As offering competing generalizations, Maximos and Wikipedia can’t both be right. We report; you decide.

When I do the math, I come up with a sum something like: We are to tolerate, nay, admire the fascist regime of KGB veteran, Vlad Putin, because he stands with us, dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers…: the Jihad and Liberalism…

If only we had more crusading men of character like Vladimir Putin here, eh? (Yes, well, we’re working on that.)