In his rambling diatribe on the eve of his military invasion of Ukraine this week, Putin revealed a lot about his fevered obsession which is precisely the manner by which aged, demented Russian oligarchs continue to see the world.
It is not the post-World War II world they seek to restore, it is the pre-World War I world, the pre-Russian revolution one. Ah, but that they could breathe new life into Czar Nicholas II and that Anastasia is alive and well! Not sure about Rasputin. Who imagined that their persisting fantasy would be so, well, old?
It was frankly astonishing that Putin would put the concept of a new genocidal military invasion in the context of angry revenge for misdeeds of Russia’s past. It’s justified entirely by an obsession to undo the last century of history. Were he driven by images of a forward-looking, future-oriented world and Russia’s role in it, the gas pipeline currently under construction to deliver to Germany would be a solid ground to pursue optimism in a bright future.
If reactionary forces in the West were trying as he insists to undermine and destroy his nation, he would have the force of international economic cooperation to counter such trends.
But Putin has exposed himself as a totally out of date feudal dinosaur who wants to revert the world to back before the rise of democratic institutions in the West altogether, when arbitrary autocratic rule had for centuries been the order of the day.
Putin is a remnant of that medieval world, of a prehistoric mercantile system where blood and soil are the only things that matter, and there are no upstart subject peoples to complicate or interfere with the impulses of their overlords.
Not surprisingly, it is a world view shared by the regrettable Trump. It is grounded in a paranoia which sees all outsiders as systemic adversaries and there is no way to counter their influence except through force of arms.
All the liberal, humanitarian moral and political gains deriving from the 18th century Enlightenment that produced the American revolution are to be abolished in the minds of Putin and his oligarchic cronies.
Being at the onset of a new great massacre on European soil, this one if it occurs precipitated yet again by blind and jealous egos at the cost of countless valuable human lives, we can’t help but be reminded of the first great conflagration on that same soil that kicked off in 1914 and became known as the Great War.
The biggest irony of that war – which before it was finally over in 1945, what was known as the Second World War following on inevitably from the First taking in total about 70 million lives European lives – was that the all the principal players in its execution were intimately related by blood, direct offspring of Britain’s Queen Victoria of the previous century: the leaders of England, Germany and Russia, who not infrequently were in one another’s company at celebrations of one kind or another in the decade leading up to the Great War.
In today’s case, there is no life or death matter requiring a resolution by the loss of 50,000 lives or more by a Russian led invasion of Ukraine. Even though Putin claims a false pretext for an invasion, completely and entirely avoidable, and the wanton human misery associated with it as well.
No other sentient beings on this planet aside from human ones kill and maim for no reason. Yet now here we are at an historic moment again when, as goaded on by the great industries of mass death, proverbially and actually speaking, all hell is now in the process of breaking loose.
As much as there are now fabrics of wiser souls at play with tireless and exhaustive energies directed to war avoidance, it is still far too easy on this planet for bloodthirsty leaders to bypass all that and plunge us into yet another horror.
How can this be prevented? Well, at least now we have a better idea and the mechanisms to make it happen, if they can prevail. God help the Biden administration doing all it can to this end.