When Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union “the evil empire” he defined the East-West dichotomy that confronted the world: freedom, individual rights and respect for human life on one hand, collectivization, repression and the total lack of human rights on the other. When the Soviet Union imploded and finally collapsed in 1991, not with a bang but with a whimper, the event was greeted with a very muted response from the West. The end of the Cold War, the demise of communism and the lifting of the Iron Curtain were met by a collective shrug of shoulders and a “so what?” More enthusiasm was generated at the Tour de France or at the three- legged races in Timbuktu.
The West should have celebrated loudly and joyously because the Cold War was a confrontation between Western Civilization and its values and an ideology responsible for far more deaths and suffering than the monstrous Nazi machine; yet, it did not. Rather, it stood not as a victor, but in the neutral new parlance of the public relations practitioners, as a “non-loser”
The reality was that the collapse of the Soviet empire came about because of its own internal contradictions -oh how they loved to use that phrase in reference to the West!- and also because its last Premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, refused to employ the brutal repressive tactics of his predecessors. He actually believed the system would function, if only applied properly; unfortunately for him, without the terror, the purges and the gulags, the system simply did not work.
You cannot engage a brutal enemy in a fight for survival without inadvertently becoming a mirror image of your adversary; it happened during the Crusades, it happened in Spain during her long and arduous reconquest from the Moors, and it happened in the West during the Cold War; as the Soviet empire broke asunder in waves of secessions and nationalistic rebirths, the West embraced the idea of a European Union that obliterates national borders and cultural divides and imposes a politically correct ideology on its members and tries to stymie non-members who implement policies they consider to be beneficial to their survival, as in the case of Switzerland imposing immigration restrictions Of course, this not the iron fist of the Kremlin but rather, the “velvet glove” of Brussels. Iron or velvet, the effects are similar. Has the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics been replaced by the “European Soviet Socialist Union”? If you think that Western Europe has not embraced socialism, think again. And add one more thing to your smoking pipe: this is the model they want the US to embrace.
There has always been an East-West divide since the days of the Roman Empire for a myriad of reasons; in the years following WWII, we in the West, and particularly in the US, have prided ourselves in our respect for human rights, the sanctity of life and individuals and contrasted it against Soviet brutality, genocide and repression. The Soviet Union is no more; the glue that held it together, communism, proved to be just a tragic aberration that cost close to 100 million lives; in its place, there is a Russian Federation that may, or may not, reconstitute the Russian Empire as it was in the days of Tsar Nicholas II.
On September 19, 2013, Vladimir Putin addressed the Valdai International Discussion Club in the Novgorod Region and presented some of the following thoughts:
“ We have left behind Soviet ideology and there will be no return”
“Every country has to have military, technological and economic strength, but nevertheless, the main thing that will determine success is the quality of its citizens, the quality of society: their intellectual, spiritual and moral strength”
And the next quote, the one that sent me out to the balcony to see if the world had come to an end while I was not looking:
“We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same sex partnerships, belief in God with belief in Satan”
Does this mean that Putin is one of the good guys? Not really. He is an autocrat from a land that has always been ruled by autocrats and in that respect: what else is new?
What is new is that the old doctrine, communism, is dead, gone, finito, kaputt, buried alongside its stable mate and close kin, nazism. However, what stands is our rejection of what made the West the greatest civilization ever; now, anything goes and everything is equal to everything else, and right and wrong are just relative terms, as the marxist philosophy of dialectical materialism dictates. That is why there was no uproar when the story of aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals broke.
The road to hell is not a chasm but a gently sloping road. Any fool can avoid a chasm, but it takes real wisdom to see at what juncture the road begins to slope down.