Anne Applebaum is a favorite target of Team Russia. She’s the type of person you’ll be compared to if you challenge them. Savvy Russia watchers trying to maintain objectivity might present a spectrum where you have Applebaum on one side and say, Stephen Cohen or Mark Ames on the other. The other day, however, I was just doing a little double-checking and I decided to look into the political ideology of Applebaum’s husband, Radoslaw Sikorski.
Sikorski came up in an article I read by concern troll Putin apologist Mark “I talk about the 90’s more than Buzzfeed” Ames. Long-time Ames readers will be relieved to know that it bears the standard mark of every Ames article, i.e. a long description about the horrors of 90’s Russia which, judging by his writing in The eXile, were pretty enjoyable for him and his expat buddies. Ames refers to Sikorski as a “neocon,” quite possibly because to Putin apologists, anyone who opposes them is a “neo-liberal neocon.” But knowing what I know about Applebaum, and knowing a little about Polish politics, I had a hunch about Sikorski that I had to look into.
As it turns out, Sikorski is indeed a member of a right-wing party called The Civic Platform. Looking at the party’s ideology, a number of points jump out. It is clearly socially conservative, opposed to LGBT rights, women’s rights, stem cell research, separation of church and state, and a number of other typical conservative bugbear issues. So basically Ames was right. What’s the big deal?
Well it doesn’t take much familiarity with Russian politics to understand that virtually every point of the Civic Platform’s ideology, save for their free-market dogma, would be heartily embraced in Putin’s Russia. Even in spite of Russia’s higher tolerance for state involvement in the economy, Russia has a flat tax, which is one of Civic Platform’s planks. Outside of the realm of economics, Civic Platform would fit very well into Russian politics with its insistence on imposing religion and religious ideas via the state, disdain for equal rights, and unhealthy fixation on gays.
Now here’s another interesting similarity. Conservatives tend to talk tough about dealing with sexual predators while looking the other way in real life. In Russia, the most recent example of this was the polygamous marriage of a middle-aged man to a 17-year-old girl in Chechnya, which was followed by vigorous apologetics and endorsements by some of Russia’s top officials. In the case of Mr. Sikorski and his wife Applebaum, the same phenomenon can be seen at work. In spite of Civic Platform’s advocacy of chemical castration for pedophiles, both Sikorski and Applebaum were known for their rigid defense of child-rapist Roman Polanski. Again, conservatives the world over love to engage in wish fulfillment fantasies about what they’d supposedly to do to pedophiles and child abusers, but when it actually happens they either try to quietly sweep it under the rug or justify it somehow.
So in the end what we see is that much like in Ukraine, many of Russia’s opponents share the same backward, reactionary mentality of the Kremlin’s political system. As such, both sides are sitting in glass houses. One thing that many Ukraine supporters have consistently failed to understand when I point out my concern over the far right in that country is that for me, there is no significant difference between the backward thugs of Svoboda or Praviy Sektor and Russia’s “Anti-Maidan” or Eurasianist movements. They all have the same backward, anti-scientific, ruling-class serving ideology just with different symbols and myths. The results for society are the same. Put more colloquially- Same shit, different wrapper.
One could say that Applebaum and her ilk fit the same maxim. Her pro-Kremlin opponents will point out that she is in favor of neo-liberal economics, yet as I have pointed out plenty of times, Russia has achieved neo-liberal results if not worse in spite of non-neo-liberal policies. More over, the success of both economic policies relies on promoting anti-critical thinking, reactionary ideology that distracts from class interests and directs people toward scapegoats. The ultimate result is that society suffers and the rich elite wins.
I think we would do the world a service if we openly admitted that all these right-wing propagandists and political figures, regardless of their faction or flag, are in fact a plague on humanity and largely responsible for the conflict going on in Eastern Europe today. They are the one’s who decry sober analysis and demand that all spectators belong to a camp, giving up logic and critical thinking as a condition of membership.