March 16, 2018

Source: Bigstock

No one understands this better than KGB lifer Vladimir Putin. Now the process of Western demoralization has acquired such momentum that he has performed a brilliant volte-face. By becoming the champion of family values, his message now attracts the very people who would have been the most ardent cold warriors. With third-generation Marxism becoming more virulent, religious conservatives are pushed back in the direction of Russia’s new cultural standard. Lauren Southern was recently prevented from entering the U.K., apparently being questioned on whether Christianity led her to condone anti-Muslim car attacks. The more such “progress” is forced on the West, the more Putin hopes to hear the refrain: “It would never happen in Russia.” And yet the reality of his domestic policies also stokes the image of a bogeyman, homophobic conservatism; radicalizing progressives further. If polarization is the key to chaos, then Putin is a master.

Yet even as he finds his main cultural audience on the right, there still remains a political audience on the left. Hard-left U.K. opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn obfuscated on the enemy’s guilt while attempting to blame the British government for accepting Russian donations and cutting its diplomatic budget. Like alt-righters, he seems to regard the poisoning as the “ultimate troll” of an international order that he despises. Like Putin, he is invested in a strategy of maskirovka—masking the truth behind layers of conspiracy and counterconspiracy, until only his own authority is accepted. Like Marxists everywhere, he will seek out his enemies’ enemy—wherever it may be.

If isolation strengthens Putin’s grip on power—and engagement only opens new channels for his influence—then what tools are left? Like Hitler and Stalin before him, there is only one real kryptonite for dictatorship: mockery. What Putin craves most is the oxygen of publicity, which has been willingly supplied to drive agendas within the West. If the West wants to undermine the power base that it has helped him build, it should transform this into a relentless campaign of satire both within and outside the Russian Federation. That may seem like a fanciful response to a nerve agent—but it is how democracy begins.


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