Now that I’m so busy becoming a podcasting celebrity, there’s naturally less time for blogging. Thankfully when time is short I can rely on others who put out useful information for my readers. Today’s example is a much-needed reality check from Leonid Bershidsky about the real collusion between the West and Russia, the kind they don’t like to talk about so much on TV.
Bershidsky reminds readers of how much dirty Russian money is floating around in Western banks and luxury real estate, something which occasionally gets a flurry of attention before everyone moves on and goes back to talking about how Russian Facebook memes caused American politics, so recently known for their civil discourse and nuanced debate, to devolve into polarized tribalism.
There are several reasons why it’s important to keep harping on this kind of collusion. Of those, probably the most important is because this corrupt activity points to an inherent flaw in the capitalist system and its liberal democratic ideology. The so-called “liberal order” is predicated on the idea that it can provide justice, liberty, and human rights for everybody, but again and again we’re reminded that even the freest democracies have a well-established record of either their own human rights abuses, ignoring those abuses of their allies and partners, or a combination of both. Because the system puts profits above human life, the system as it is will never uproot all this dirty money from Russia and other dictatorships, regardless of how cold their diplomatic relations may be. Make no mistake, if North Korea had more to offer economically to the Western world’s capitalists, they’d be making all kinds of deals with Kim Jong Un and helping him stash his cut in their banks.
Of course this isn’t just a matter of liberal democracies being hypocritical about human rights. On the other side of the coin, the Kremlin’s rhetoric about defending “Russian civilization” from the “degenerate West” is also exposed as a total lie. In fact, they seemed rather open about this in the years before about 2012, when Putin got spooked by protests and assumed the West must be plotting to overthrow him.
In reality Russia (more accurately the regime) doesn’t want to destroy the West, and the West isn’t conspiring to destroy Russia. What has happened was something I predicted in my early years in Russia during the economic boom. At that time you could easily see how Putin and the West, particularly Europe, were colluding. Putin was pimping his country as a reliable supplier of energy to Europe. Russia, not Ukraine, was talking about getting a visa-free regime with the European Union. It became clear to me that Western and Russian capitalists had found the value of collusion, but there were certain contradictions between them which could not be resolved. Thus I imagined that one day those contradictions would come to a head, and they would be the reason for a West/Russia conflict, not some clash of civilizations or ideologies as neither side truly believed in such things.
And so it has come to pass, with both sides locked in what they’re calling a “New Cold War.” Yet the Cold War was about which system, which ideology, would dominate the Earth, and the capitalist, liberal, technocratic ideology emerged victorious. Therefore this new “Cold War” is something entirely different, where the two sides try to find an accommodation that suits both of them so they can resume full cooperation and open the floodgates of stolen money in exchange for Western luxury.
Make no mistake- even with Canada’s new Magnitsky Act, Western governments will never fully clamp down on offshore money from Russia or any other dictatorships. It’s too profitable for powerful people. If we want to make the humanistic values that supposedly serve as the motivation for the Magnitsky Act a reality, we need to change the system to one which puts people above property and profits. Full stop.