Musing about law, books, and politics

Putin and the U.S., Part II

[View as a Twitter thread]

I’ve written about why Masha Gessen’s book, The Future is History, left me with the sense that Putin’s methods won’t succeed in the U.S. Time to talk about why Putin’s methods succeed so well with America’s far right wing.

From Gessen, I understand that Putin & the U.S. far right wing we know today grew up together, and are soulmates.

This passage from Gessen’s book (p. 408 Kindle) uttered by Putin in 2013, says it all:

Notice how succinctly it presents the U.S. right-wing view: Liberals—under a banner of ‘political correctness’—are tearing the fabric of society: family, God, national pride, and gender.

When Putin says “pedophilia,” he means homosexuality. He talks about a “pedophilia lobby,” and apparently people take this literally.

American evangelicalism predates Putin, as does the idea that the right wing is the protector of “traditional family values.” Decades ago, the GOP positioned itself as the party of “traditional family values,” and gleefully pounced on Clinton’s extramarital affairs.

The US right wing lining up behind Trump (“grab ‘em by the —”) thus appears to be the height of hypocrisy.

In fact GOP “family values” was always thinly disguised homophobia & white patriarchy. That’s how evangelicals embrace Trump without irony. Trump stands for this:

Given the chronology (U.S. evangelicals came first) it appears Putin took his cues from the U.S. far right wing.

Given that Putin also stands for macho-style nationalism, it’s thus easy to see why Putin’s ideas caught fire with the American far right wing, and why they look to Russia as the savior of American white patriarchy.

If America’s right wing believes Putin is taking their cues from them, they don’t feel that Putin is manipulating them. They feel Putin is emulating them.

They don’t feel we’re experiencing a hostile foreign takeover. They feel saving America means aligning with Russia.

Putin also positions Russia and the U.S. right wing as being victimized by aggressive liberalism (“aggressively forced”). Being the victim is a large part of the GOP world view. If you missed my threads on the GOP and victimization see this one.

The right wing may shout “no collusion!” but the consequence of this belief is that they see working with Russia—not as a betrayal of American values—but as a way to rescue American values being trampled by the evil liberals.

The Fox-GOP asks whether Mueller is a greater threat to America than Putin—and they’re serious. I’ve talked about how the GOP is no longer a conservative party; it is authoritarian. I’ve also cited psychologists who say that about 1/3 of the population is inclined toward an authoritarian disposition (formerly called “anti-democratic personality.”)

The stats compiled by Russian sociologists (cited by Gessen) hint at a question: Is anti-authoritarian personality inborn or acquired? and indicate that there are always people who won’t accept “deviants.” When Russians were at their most accepting of “deviants,” 15% of respondents wanted to “liquidate” homosexuals. Others wanted to “help” homosexuals get over their “affliction.”

As Putin tightened his hold on power and inflamed passions and anger, the number of Russians with anti-gay sentiments in grew. In 2013, 73% supported an anti-gay bill, the “propaganda bill” to ban “propaganda of homosexuality.”

It seems that decades under a repressive regime (including children growing up in certain evangelical households) & repressive indoctrinization can increase the number of authoritarians, which perhaps explains why authoritarianism is found more heavily in certain communities.

Gary asks this:

Fox, of course, is the soulmate of Russian television.

What happened in the US is that the authoritarians seized the GOP and the White House. The first order of business is to wrest back control. Yes, this can be done. It is not too late. . .

The U.S. has been in worse straits before. Think what it was like to be African-American when lynching was common. I do believe the arc of history can bend toward greater justice—but it does so slowly, and only with great effort, and always with setbacks.

Once we’re past this crisis, we will have to find better ways to understand and work with those with authoritarian personalities, who will always be with us. Getting past the crisis is first.