Back in 2008 I was on a date with one of my exes shortly after the conclusion of the Russian-Georgian war. She asked me whose side I was on and I began by saying how, on one hand, Russia was in the right since Georgia broke a ceasefire and launched an offensive into South Ossetia. Georgia seemed more than happy to throw the USSR into the dustbin of history when it came to secceeding (a right theoretically afforded to union republics by the Soviet constitution), and yet at the same time they seemed to rely on the USSR’s supposedly illegitimate laws when it came to denying the right of self-determination to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which had been “Autonomous” entities within the Georgian union republic(Georgian SSR). On the other hand, it was and still is clear that Russia has no concern or the self-determination of South Ossetia or Abkhazia, and as is usually the case the motivation on both sides is rooted in economics and investment. After my long, thought out response, my date asked me if I could simply answer “Russia or Georgia.” I told her that I can never answer such questions in a simple manner.
I try not to inject too much of my own ideology into this blog, but I make no apologies for the fact that I am a dialectical thinker and I absolutely despise bourgeois society’s love of metaphysics. We see this shining through in many areas of life, most notably academia, politics, and journalism. Every day we are bombarded with various opinions or even “theories” which ring true so long as we consider only what their advocates want us to, always in a vacuum which ignores things like historical context, comparisons, or various circumstances. In economics we are told that the system is fair and just via economic models which abstract away inconvenient historical and social conditions. In politics we are encouraged to hate certain regimes or countries without comparing them to other nations. For regimes which are legitimately authoritarian we are encouraged not to consider the outside circumstances which give rise to such a regime. Even with unquestionably evil regimes like Nazi Germany, we’re supposed to pretend that its rise was the sole fault of a hateful little corporal named Hitler and a handful of like-minded villains. Questions of class, capitalism, imperialism, and the origins of the racial theory which Hitler took to murderous conclusions must not be asked, otherwise we would understand that Nazism was not some unique animal known as “totalitarianism” but rather just one group of capitalists’ solution to the problem of maintaining power in the face of a rising, militant working class.
To be honest I really can’t understand what coherent argument can be made for not considering things dialectically, outside of certain scenarios where quick action and mental shortcuts prove necessary. Can one truly give a coherent argument as to why people should construct opinions on major issues without trying to consider every possible angle and the contradictions inherent in the topic being discussed? I’m not really sure there is a good reason to say, “Hey! Let’s not consider these other circumstances or sides to the issue!” This is not to say that every issue has merit on both sides. Dialectics in this case means looking at the contradictory features of a particular issue or thing, and considering it in relation to everything else rather than in a vacuum. Obviously since according to this worldview everything is in interaction or relation to everything else, and everything is likewise in a state of change, we cannot literally consider every little factor when trying to get to the essence of something, but obviously it makes sense to factor in as many variables as reasonably possible. Right. Enough philosophical talk.
The point is that this mode of thinking, where you consider the conflicting sides of an issue, is horrible if you want to write about Russia. I have more than once alluded to the fact that this blog will no doubt piss off most of its readers. Many of them will make their decision based on one post. If that post happens to contradict Team West’s media about Russia, liberals will write me off as a “pro-Kremlin” hack, possibly in the pay of the Russian government. If I’m making fun of Western Russopiles, Team Russia(which seems to mostly consist of Americans) will write me off as a Western liberal degenerate. I’m even quite certain that in the past I have written things which at first appealed to readers of either faction, only to earn their scorn as they read the whole thing. Typically what happens is that my fan/opponent says that I’m “quite reasonable for a Russophile/liberal/Judeo-Bolshevik/neo-conservative redneck.” What “reasonable” means in this case is that a certain number of the things I wrote or said correspond with their views on the topic, and therefore those specific things are “reasonable.”
The bottom line is this- When you write about Russia, it’s usually all in. You’re either La Russophobe or RT’s Tim Kirby, with nothing in between. Any report about Russia which is slightly negative, even for light-hearted humorous purposes, is construed by Team Russia as a dastardly attack on Holy Mother Russia by the evil American Information Warriors. Meanwhile positive reports about Russia are attacked by liberals as Kremlin propaganda. This is why I realized long ago that I have no chance at being a professional journalist in Russia, though this is mitigated by the fact that I never really had such a desire. As the reader can see on this blog, I give Russia, even its president, credit where I think it is due, but on the other hand I refuse to engage in apologetics on behalf of the regime. I may be missing out on a lucrative opportunity but fuck it; I’ve never been able to handle cognitive dissonance very well.
For the reader who wants news about Russia which doesn’t challenge his or her preconceived notions about the country, there are plenty of sources for you. If you like sensational “scary Russia” stories you’ve got The Guardian or The Moscow Times. If you prefer to hear that Russia is rising while the US is on the verge of collapse any minute now(it’s been for at least the past twenty years), you’ve got the bloggers at RT.