So I’m counter-trolling a vatnik on Twitter the other day, and I make a point about how Russia’s ruling mentality is stuck in the 19th century. That’s not exactly figurative either. The leading ideology in Russia’s political circles and among its intelligentsia is almost entirely based on, if not influenced by, the 19th century idea of geopolitics. They want to go back to the 19th century. But I digress.
My cotton-padded opponent claimed that progress is relative, and that the West’s idea of progress is…wait for it…drum roll…homosexuality. Well to be sure, he used the word “sodomy,” which is even more idiotic seeing as how by definition, “sodomy” can be practiced by heterosexual couples. Though this is rendered even more idiotic coming from a Russian, as there is some very convincing evidence that anal sex pornography is extremely popular in Russia. Of course anyone with even a passing familiarity with contemporary Russian politics knows that he was of course referring to Western tolerance for homosexuals.
Yup, that’s all progress in the West really boils down to. In fact all of Western culture boils down to homosexuality and boys being taught to act like girls, just like they say on Russian TV. Forget incredible feats of engineering, astrophysics, and medicine. Forget freedom of speech, contested elections, and the right to carry on massive demonstrations against unpopular policies. All the culture and achievements of the industrialized world, seeing as how there are non-Western industrial powers which are also tolerant of LGBT people, can be boiled down to dicks touching other dicks. Hell, we should all change our national flags to crossed dicks on a rainbow background.
This just underscores the fact that Putin’s Russia has nothing to contribute to the modern world. It doesn’t export any cutting-edge technology. Hell, they had to import around 40% of their food. It doesn’t produce movies anyone wants to watch, and that includes its own citizens. Apart from caviar, nobody clamors for Russian cuisine abroad. It is a country which, based on its tech-savvy young population, natural skill at improvisation, and massive wealth in resources, ought to be competing with countries like Germany or South Korea in terms of technical achievements, infrastructure, and standards of living. But instead of this, much of the country, even just outside Moscow, resembles a third world nation. All the while around 35% of the national wealth is concentrated in the hands of just 110 individuals.
Most Russians are aware of their country’s backwardness; if not from personal experience they at least suspect that the rest of the world has it better no matter what Tim Kirby tells them. So some people desperately grasp at the straw of open homosexuality, specifically gay parades and same sex marriage, acting as though this isn’t just a negative thing, but that it in fact negates all the massive advantages Western countries have over Putin’s dysfunctional state. In reality of course, it’s no secret that those states which have progressive attitudes towards LGBT people, and in fact towards pretty much anybody, have the highest standards of living in the world. By contrast, the stricter the laws a country has against homosexuality or non-traditional relationships of any kind, the poorer and more backward it tends to be. Of course the success of the former is not directly caused by that tolerance. Success breeds freedom, whereas poverty goes hand in hand with tradition. People tend to forget that traditions formed for concrete reasons. Religious-based injunctions against homosexuality date from times when it was essential that people have as a many children as possible, just as laws mandating female chastity until marriage were rooted in the need to secure one’s line of heirs. The point here is that if tolerance of homosexuality is such a destructive thing for a society, we should see something very different in the world. Countries like Russia and Iran should be on top, while countries like the Netherlands and Spain languish in poverty and corruption.
Of course when you point out how all these “degenerate” countries are doing better than Russia, the response of the patriots or their right-wing foreign supporters always amounts to shaking their fist and saying, “Just you wait! You’ll pay the price for violating the laws of nature! You’ll see! You’ll all see! Well I’m very sorry but no. As it turns out, Slavophiles and their fellow travelers were peddling this bullshit about Russia “saving” the West from its decay over 100 years ago. Russia represented tradition, the hierarchy of absolute monarchy over the degenerate mass-politics of liberal democracy. But who ended up collapsing back then? Oh right- Russia. What was it that managed to drag the ruined Russian empire into the 20th century and actually managed to make it a serious rival to the West in terms of science and industry? That’s right, a left-wing, degenerate Western philosophy known as Marxism. Now it’s 2015 and once again we’re being told that the West is going to collapse because it has turned its back on its traditions. Meanwhile Russia, the country that is held forth as an example for the West, has never managed to rival Western living standards at any time in its new, nearly 25-year existence. They were wrong a century ago, they’re wrong now. You know what? I’m beginning to think that society’s attitudes towards homosexuality might not be a determining factor in a nation’s success.
Of course attacks based on tolerance of homosexuality only really work if you accept the homophobic worldview of these people. If you accept that the mere existence of a gay pride parade is somehow a threat, one which deserves more attention than say, police corruption or brutality, then you might find this popular Russian argument convincing.
I know that feeling because I come from a very religious, conservative background. In the opening phases of the so-called “culture wars” of the early 90’s, conservative radio, literature, and television fed its audience endless horror stories about ever-younger children being taught about sex, and even homosexuality, by public schoolteachers. We were told that gays and lesbians were assaulting churches and “cruising” to “recruit” young boys and girls. The message was the same as Russian TV today- Our society is degenerating into chaos, without any kind of moral boundaries! Everything is spinning out of control! Sure, our society appears to be advancing more and more, but at what cost? I think the lyrics to the popular country song “Grandpa” by The Judds encapsulates this anxiety well.
Grandpa, everything is changing fast
We call it progress, but I just don’t know
Did lovers really fall in love to stay
And stand beside each other come what may
The message is clear- Is all this advancement really progress? What about all those people getting divorced? It’s the end of the traditional family! Just one problem. The divorce rate peaked in the 1980’s and has been steadily declining since then. What is more, yes, many people used to stay married back in the “good old days” of the 1950’s, but not necessarily out of choice. In those days, things like domestic violence and even physical or sexual child abuse were considered “private family matters.” Even in less extreme cases, many women were forced by financial need to remain in loveless or even abusive marriages.
Getting back to the topic of gays, as a young man inundated with right-wing political propaganda on an almost daily basis, I couldn’t help but wonder as to why I never saw any of these militant LGBT recruiters or rabid “feminazis” anywhere in my city. Eventually I ended up living in an area which was becoming gentrified by male gay couples. Strangely, I didn’t find myself under constant threat of assault from these allegedly lust-stricken men. I even ended up working a summer job in an internet provider which was owned by gays, in a shopping center full of gay owned businesses. Number of guys who tried to hit on me or who even looked at me in what could be construed as a sexual manner: Zero. Zip. But more importantly, during that entire time, the presence of these gay people in my neighborhood was hardly noticeable. It’s not like they were all hiding it, it’s just that if you weren’t specifically looking for them or deliberately taking notice, they really didn’t stand out in your daily life. They were simply- there.
Now keep in mind I am from a rather conservative state. What about Western Europe? Well I’ve been told that Spain is the most gay friendly country on the continent, yet I wouldn’t have known it from the time I spent there. I lived in cosmopolitan Prague for about half a year and failed to notice any significant presence of “gay propaganda.” Germany’s supposed to be pretty gay friendly but I couldn’t base that on anything I saw there. Same deal with the UK. At no time in Europe did I ever find myself trying to cross a major street, only to realize that I could not because a gay parade was currently in progress. In fact, virtually every single time I have seen a photograph from a gay pride parade, it was posted by some right-winger, Russian or otherwise. If it weren’t for them, I probably wouldn’t even be able to imagine what a gay pride parade looks like, and it’s not like I’ve ever made any deliberate effort to avoid them. If Russian propaganda were even remotely true, it seems probability would have dictated that my path cross that of a gay parade at least once, either in Europe or the United States.
By contrast, Russia’s social problems are very hard to avoid. Even as a foreigner, you will run into the systemic corruption. Alcoholism and drug abuse are very public. You walk amid the broken down, decaying infrastructure every day. But the new Russian insta-patriot insists that none of this matters because there are no gay pride parades marching down the holed and crumbling streets. There’s only one word to describe this attitude- idiocy.