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Putin’s Paleoconservative Moment

Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative?

In the culture war for mankind’s future, is he one of us?

While such a question may be blasphemous in Western circles, consider the content of the Russian president’s state of the nation address.

With America clearly in mind, Putin declared, “In many countries today, moral and ethical norms are being reconsidered.”

“They’re now requiring not only the proper acknowledgment of freedom of conscience, political views and private life, but also the mandatory acknowledgment of the equality of good and evil.”

Translation: While privacy and freedom of thought, religion and speech are cherished rights, to equate traditional marriage and same-sex marriage is to equate good with evil.

No moral confusion here, this is moral clarity, agree or disagree.

President Reagan once called the old Soviet Empire “the focus of evil in the modern world.” President Putin is implying that Barack Obama’s America may deserve the title in the 21st century.

Nor is he without an argument when we reflect on America’s embrace of abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, pornography, promiscuity, and the whole panoply of Hollywood values.

Our grandparents would not recognize the America in which we live.

Moreover, Putin asserts, the new immorality has been imposed undemocratically.

The “destruction of traditional values” in these countries, he said, comes “from the top” and is “inherently undemocratic because it is based on abstract ideas and runs counter to the will of the majority of people.”

Does he not have a point?

Unelected justices declared abortion and homosexual acts to be constitutionally protected rights. Judges have been the driving force behind the imposition of same-sex marriage. Attorney General Eric Holder refused to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act.

America was de-Christianized in the second half of the 20th century by court orders, over the vehement objections of a huge majority of a country that was overwhelmingly Christian.

And same-sex marriage is indeed an “abstract” idea unrooted in the history or tradition of the West. Where did it come from?

Peoples all over the world, claims Putin, are supporting Russia’s “defense of traditional values” against a “so-called tolerance” that is “genderless and infertile.”

While his stance as a defender of traditional values has drawn the mockery of Western media and cultural elites, Putin is not wrong in saying that he can speak for much of mankind.

Same-sex marriage is supported by America’s young, but most states still resist it, with black pastors visible in the vanguard of the counterrevolution. In France, a million people took to the streets of Paris to denounce the Socialists’ imposition of homosexual marriage.

Only 15 nations out of more than 190 have recognized it.

In India, the world’s largest democracy, the Supreme Court has struck down a lower court ruling that made same-sex marriage a right. And the parliament in this socially conservative nation of more than a billion people is unlikely soon to reverse the high court.

In the four dozen nations that are predominantly Muslim, which make up a fourth of the U.N. General Assembly and a fifth of mankind, same-sex marriage is not even on the table. And Pope Francis has reaffirmed Catholic doctrine on the issue for over a billion Catholics.

While much of American and Western media dismiss him as an authoritarian and reactionary, a throwback, Putin may be seeing the future with more clarity than Americans still caught up in a Cold War paradigm.

As the decisive struggle in the second half of the 20th century was vertical, East vs. West, the 21st century struggle may be horizontal, with conservatives and traditionalists in every country arrayed against the militant secularism of a multicultural and transnational elite.

And though America’s elite may be found at the epicenter of anti-conservatism and anti-traditionalism, the American people have never been more alienated or more divided culturally, socially and morally.

We are two countries now.

Putin says his mother had him secretly baptized as a baby and professes to be a Christian. And what he is talking about here is ambitious, even audacious.

He is seeking to redefine the “Us vs. Them” world conflict of the future as one in which conservatives, traditionalists, and nationalists of all continents and countries stand up against the cultural and ideological imperialism of what he sees as a decadent west.

“We do not infringe on anyone’s interests,” said Putin, “or try to teach anyone how to live.” The adversary he has identified is not the America we grew up in, but the America we live in, which Putin sees as pagan and wildly progressive.

Without naming any country, Putin attacked “attempts to enforce more progressive development models” on other nations, which have led to “decline, barbarity, and big blood,” a straight shot at the U.S. interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Egypt.

In his speech, Putin cited Russian philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev whom Solzhenitsyn had hailed for his courage in defying his Bolshevik inquisitors. Though no household word, Berdyaev is favorably known at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal.

Which raises this question: Who is writing Putin’s stuff?

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? [1]” Copyright 2013 Creators.com [2].

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#1 Comment By niccolo and donkey On December 17, 2013 @ 12:57 am

“During the Cold War I was told to hate the Russians for being godless. Now I’m told to hate them for being Christians.”

The roles that that two countries had (Russia as successor to the USSR) have been swapped, and many people in the West are now coming to the realization that ‘the enemy is us’.

#2 Comment By Fran Macadam On December 17, 2013 @ 1:22 am

Something’s out of whack, the old world bumped off its axis, for sure – the only leader with courage – and means – to grant whistleblower Snowden refuge. One thinks that even Solzhenitsyn would not now be wholly unapproving of this orthodox moral certainty. It appears that the Russian Revolution that deposed the Soviets has not been entirely in vain, nor has it become the hoped-for western satrapy.

#3 Comment By William Dalton On December 17, 2013 @ 1:24 am

I think the same is true of much of America’s war with radical Islam. What has prompted their attacks on objects identified with the USA, beside our foreign policy and military missteps, has had less to do with animus towards Christianity than with the moral decay emblematic of America’s abandonment of the Christian foundation of the nation.

I remember the paradigm of my childhood – America as the Christian bulwark against the takeover of the World by the godless communism of Soviet Russia. Will these roles truly be reversed in the Twenty-First Century?

#4 Comment By Puller58 On December 17, 2013 @ 6:01 am

Pat doesn’t post very often which is smart since he struggles with containing his Opus Dei impulses. Culture wars are his passion, and foreign policy is a bore. Although William Safire was a neocon through and through, his putdown of Pat was apt when he said Pat wanted “Hands off abroad, and hands on at home.”

#5 Comment By William Burns On December 17, 2013 @ 7:12 am

In the first place, the Indian decision was about sodomy laws, not same-sex marriage. Secondly, in the kind of global struggle Buchanan thinks may be happening, a multicultural and transnational elite has the advantage of being multicultural and transnational. Is a Polish traditionalist going to look to Putin as a leader? Are American traditionalists going to stand shoulder to shoulder with Muslim traditionalists? An “International of Nationalism” is a contradiction in terms.

#6 Comment By ronan ryan On December 17, 2013 @ 8:03 am

“embrace of abortion on demand”?????
Abortion is Russia’s primary – indeed nearly sole – means of birth control.

Pornography and prostitution??
Russia is one of the world’s leading providers of both – for both genders.

As far as the Russian in the street is concerned, these “western” values are not bad at all; they’re simply the way things are. If you’re looking for a society to build a counter-the-counterculture movement with, I’d advise you to look elsewhere.

If these “Hollywood values” are part of the Russian culture, why is Putin talking about them? I’d suggest that he’s using contempt for homosexuals as fuel additive for the Xenophobia that is all he has to offer the Russians – he can hardly run on honest government, a clean judiciary, a country that is respected (rather than feared) by its neighbours, can he?

In that sense he is a Paleocon. No positive agenda, just “rally around me or the queers and the foreigners are coming.”

#7 Comment By steve in ohio On December 17, 2013 @ 9:39 am

Very interesting. My first inclination is to laugh at the notion of Putin as a paleoconservative. (Reminds me of Donald Trump talking about how much he loves the Bible that he built a special room to store all the ones people send him. However, strange things do happen in politics. War hero Eisenhower warned us about the military industrial complex, and divorced actor Reagan became a hero to social conservatives.

#8 Comment By VikingLS On December 17, 2013 @ 11:38 am

@ronan good quality condoms are now easily available in any Russian pharmacy or convenience store.

I would agree that Russia is somewhat more sexualized than the USA in some ways, but still less so than Western Europe.

I don’t know where you’re from but Xenophobia is still popular with American politicians and if homophobia is becoming less valuable to them that’s a new phenomenon.

#9 Comment By WorkingClass On December 17, 2013 @ 11:42 am

Translation: While privacy and freedom of thought, religion and speech are cherished rights, to equate traditional marriage and same-sex marriage is to equate good with evil.

The fatal weakness of Paleoconservatism is its lack of standing. Patrick Buchanan and President Putin only presume to declare for all of humanity what is good and what is evil.

#10 Comment By Sean On December 17, 2013 @ 11:49 am

I thought the same thing ronan ryan said when Pat mentioned “abortion on demand”. My “dark side” might enjoy what Putin is doing to uphold Christian values (albeit in his own thuggish way). But I know his moral posturing can only go so far.

#11 Comment By Brian On December 17, 2013 @ 11:49 am

I love how Christians think we all should kowtow to a religion that has no evidence and the loss of their special rights is persecution. Christianity gets no more or less rights than Scientology. I mean, if you lived in ancient Rome, would you insist that the pagan God religions get special rights and the person who says “This is bullcrap!” is a danger to society? There is no evidence for your religion. None. I really like the American Conservatives realism about human nature and the need for small “c” institutions to forge social cohesion (and religion can do that), but this is a simple empirical question and religion just doesn’t pass the test.

#12 Comment By Brian On December 17, 2013 @ 11:51 am

Christianity, is, of course, pagan. The pagan v Christian distinction is BS. As if everyone was a religious idiot until he second century when a brand new religion with no connections to the past history of religion sprung forth fully formed. It is silly and we know it is silly when any other religion claims it on similar evidence. The US is a secular nation with a lot of religious people. Period. We aren’t going back and it was the over-reach of religious zealots you have to blame.

#13 Comment By Jim Evans On December 17, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

Pat is right, too many things are put down from up top. Good government of the people needs to reflect the peoples’ values as opposed to an elite of money & power.

But what we have is what we feared, what we fought against: An expansionist empire, devoid of spiritual sentiment, bent on domination, sponsoring revolutions, sponsoring violence, often under false pretenses.

Russia with 150 million people in the largest geographic nation on Earth, can, to a large degree, self-develop, the way America did in the 19th century. Encourage large families, the way America was in the 1950’s and early 60’s. And, develop voluntary community service groups the way America has had Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions, Optimists, and more. And open the streets & squares for the free flow of spiritual sentiments the way America always was.

And America can profitably trade goods & services feely desired in a healthy Russian economy.

All of this peacefully among nations of good will.

But instead we have a Trotskyite foreign policy of violent revolution.

Talk about trading places.

Peaceful development is in Russia’s national interest.

The people the West would have nothing to fear from a peaceful Russia… but the elite are determined nothing like that should ever happen.

#14 Comment By Sheldon On December 17, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

Pat praising Putin is about the least surprising thing he has ever done.

#15 Comment By Jonathan Webber On December 17, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

Vladimir Putin is a Chekist and a Russian Nationalist (which is where his love of the corrupt Russian ORthodox Church comes in). His regime murders journalists and would never tolerate a Snowden in its ranks (polonium tea, anyone?). His obsession with “fertility” is tied to his desire to increase the ethnic Russian polulation, which he sees as racially superior. Putin has turned ablind eye to racist killings, and has revived the cult of Stalin. Mr. Buchanan, in his praise for Putin shows his true colors: authoritarian nationalist and retrograde populist. No thanks.

#16 Comment By VikingLS On December 17, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

Webber from whence comes your expertise? I lived in Russia 2001, 2007-2010 and never saw the country you’re describing.

#17 Comment By James Canning On December 17, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

Vladimir Putin often makes good points.

#18 Comment By WAW On December 17, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

WHY do the NeoCons so despise Putin? One can learn a lot by observing exactly what group (s) have formed as an enemy of Putin. I suspect that Putin has rebelled against those who put him in power. And now, look at how he has the criminal oligarchs on the run, or in prison.

#19 Comment By Red Phillips On December 17, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

@Puller58,

“Pat doesn’t post very often which is smart since he struggles with containing his Opus Dei impulses.”

I highly doubt that Pat “posts” here at all. It suspect it is a question of which of Pat’s syndicated columns TAC elects to post. Which makes which of Pat’s columns pass muster the real question of interest.

#20 Comment By Jamie Estevez On December 17, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

Thank you Mr. Buchanan. I agree with your assessment of Russian President Vladimir Putin. As a paleo-conservative on issues of tradition, customs and religion (as well as being a fellow Orthodox Christian)I find myself more in agreement with President Vladimir Putin than any current political office holder here in America (and that is left or right, Democrat or Republican). Only an traditional Christian leader will be able to stand up to the coming godless tyranny of the West.

#21 Comment By Michelle On December 17, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

Putin’s moral conservatism stops at gay marriage and other gay rights issues and reflects a deep-seated Russian hatred of homosexuals. Under the Soviet regime, homosexuals were imprisoned if they were at all open about their sexuality. Putin, former head of the KGB, is just looking to go back to the good old days.

Abortion on demand, promiscuity, and adultery are still very much a part of post-Soviet Russia, as Ronin points out. Putin has shown no interest in cracking down on these behaviors.

#22 Comment By Majumder On December 17, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

Arizona Sen. John McCain does not like current Russian president and Russia’s anti-homosexual policies.

Senator McCain thinks homosexuality is the ultimate expression of human freedom for which America fought two World Wars and one so-called “Cold War”.

#23 Comment By DG On December 17, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

@Puller58 –

Mr. Buchanan’s previous six columns:

Are the Senkakus Worth a War?
Reagan Was Right on South Africa
Is the Sun Rising in the East (Asia)
Has the Asian Tiger Gone Tiger?
Let Obama Play the Iran Hand
Is the Superpower Afraid of Iran?

Foreign policy a bore? Hardly.

#24 Comment By Daniel On December 17, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

I’ve been musing Pat’s article all day. Although I see his point, let’s not confuse ends and means. Is Putin really trying to re-create a moral, Christian Russian nation? Or is he simply trying to score populist points to expand his already considerable power?

I think that while Russia and the US haven’t swapped places, we are certainly not the same cultures we were during the Cold War. And the America of the Cold War era–especially a Conservative of the Bob Taft variety (non-interventionist) would be horrified at what we have become or are rapidly becoming: culturally Libertine, economically stratified, aggressively imperialist and profoundly unhappy.

#25 Comment By RadicalCenter2016 On December 17, 2013 @ 7:05 pm

Mr. Buchanan, I love ya, Pat — relish your writing, and agree with you almost of the time. But you are out of touch, way out of touch, to assume that the Pope’s declaration on a matter “settles it” for even the majority of the world’s professed Catholics. Even regular church-going Catholics like my wife and me.

What the Pope decrees about political and policy issues has ZERO influence on this Catholic. I don’t even think that popes are infallible on doctrinal matters and how to live our own private lives.

I am embarrassed when my church says or implies that Catholics should “fall in line” and consider an issue settled because the pope expresses his opinion. Catholics in North America and Europe (such as are left in Europe at all), in practice, do not blindly follow the pope’s declarationsm, and oftern don’t follow them at all. And that’s not a bad thing. God gave us minds to be used. Exercising our own independent judgment, in an attempt to ascertain and follow God’s law / natural law, is what free and free-willed men and women should do, including Catholics and other Christians.

#26 Comment By RadicalCenter2016 On December 17, 2013 @ 7:08 pm

Michelle makes a great point about Russia: Putin isn’t lifting a finger, as far as I have heard, to criminalize or even seriously discourage elective induced abortion.

Like the USA and many other supposedly “civilized” countries, Russia still allows women to kill babies whom they conceived through voluntary consensual adult sex. Russian women continue to murder their sons and daughters in the womb just like so many American women do, and that surely contributes to the fact that Russia’s population continues to decline overall.

Not sure if Putin really believes in anything except power. I do like SOME of what he has to say, but let’s not be so naive as to trust or admire this authoritarian thug.

#27 Comment By ronan ryan On December 17, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

VikingLS

for what it’s worth, I’m from Ireland, but I spent 1988-2003 in Eastern Europe and my wife is from (ex-Soviet) Georgia, which has and has always had a rather different sexual culture to Russia.

#28 Comment By Mike On December 17, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

Funny how moral truth can present itself from the unlikliest of sources. Excellent column, Pat!

In fact, interesting results on the abortion/breast cancer link has surfaced from Communist China, perhaps the most unlikliest place pro-lifers would expect to find support. A study published by Yubei Huang (Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Tianjin Medical University Cancer Hospital and Institute, National Clinical Research Center for Cancer, Tianjin, China), titled “A meta-analysis of the association between induced abortion and breast cancer risk among Chinese females” indicates that abortion increased the risk of breast cancer by 44% with one abortion, 76% with 2 abortions and 84% with at least 3 abortions. The study was conducted from about the largest data base researchers could possibly have spread as it was across 14 provinces in China where over 8 million abortions are performed annually or about 40 abortions per 100 lives births. That is one helluva data base.

Given its totalitarianism China doesn’t worry about hiding the stats from studies like this because its media is state controlled eliminating any hint of controversy, and there is no viable political opposition to exert pressure on the Chinese government to change any policy not of their liking.

Funny, how the C.O.D. pods in the MSM, so concerned as they claim to be about women’s “reproductive health” chose to ignore this story. But if it was smoking/ (the only sin in America) lung cancer. . . . .

#29 Comment By Myron Hudson On December 17, 2013 @ 7:59 pm

That Putin would coopt social conservative wedge issues to justify a repressive regime’s actions, and that he would take the opportunity to dis the USA at the same time, is not surprising. However I wouldn’t read too much more into it than that.

#30 Comment By niccolo and donkey On December 17, 2013 @ 8:02 pm

Hi Michelle!

Putin’s championing of the Russian Orthodox Church and his deference to them as the moral leadership and not himself on these matters shows that he is actually working on those issues.

The law that was passed in the Duma to make illegal homosexual propagandizing to children shows that the Russian authorities are working on a pro-natal policy which has borne fruit these past few years, as the statistics show.

#31 Comment By Johann On December 17, 2013 @ 8:32 pm

Putin is the consummate politician. He says things that will increase his popularity in public, and uses every trick, legal or illegal, ethical or unethical, in private to decrease the power of his opponents. But he is still better than the wild and crazy oligarch creator Yeltsin that destroyed Russia. Why the west was enamoured with him is beyond me.

I personally agree with Putin that the gay hysteria in the west is disgusting, but it should have nothing to do with the government making laws about it one way or another.

#32 Comment By SteveM On December 17, 2013 @ 8:44 pm

Re: Michelle “Putin has shown no interest in cracking down on these behaviors.”

[3]

So is Putin a rank opportunist? Perhaps.

But any more than Barack Obama is a rank opportunist?

Obama, the über self-absorbed narcissist, is a pretty tough act to follow. Even for Putin.

#33 Comment By cka2nd On December 18, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

William Burns says: “Is a Polish traditionalist going to look to Putin as a leader?”

Maybe not a Pole, but an American or Western European might. African and American cultural conservatives work together, after all, and the U.S. pro-life movement has overseas contacts.

William Burns says: “Are American traditionalists going to stand shoulder to shoulder with Muslim traditionalists?”

They did during the Cold War, at least when it came to battling Communism. And Israel fostered Hamas to undercut the PLO. So yeah, if the US reduced its foreign policy footprint in the Muslim world in general and held Israel at a distance closer to the pre-1967 War level (a re-run of Ike’s reaction to the Suez Canal attack by the UK, France and Israel would help A LOT), thereby reducing tensions between the US and Muslims, sure, I could see the traditionalists working with each other to counter the EU and the UN on cultural and social issues.

William Burns says: “An ‘International of Nationalism’ is a contradiction in terms.”

There was an attempt to build a Fascist International. As long as cultural traditionalists stay away from the race issue and steer clear of economic ones, I could see at least an attempt to build a culturally traditional Nationalist International. Economics would probably be its downfall, though, because of the tension between protectionism at the grassroots and the free trade of capital and labor beloved by the ruling classes.

#34 Comment By Justaguy On December 19, 2013 @ 5:19 pm

Religous freedoms is good, as long as you have Christian values. Self righteous hypocrisy is all it sounds like. Judgmental homophobics and closed minded traditionalist. Traditions can be good but not if they stifle human evolution. Our minds need to stop being closed so we stop hating so much. I do not disagree that ours morals have waned but not the way addressed. Football and American idol are far more detrimental than two people who love each other wanting to be seen and treated like people. Or how about and hijacked government that doesn’t care about either let alone you. There are bigger fish.

#35 Comment By JD On December 22, 2013 @ 11:25 am

By our Slaves everyone in the 19th Century could tell we were a Christian Nation.

PROGRESSIVE has nothing to do with democratic elections. Disaffected Republican’s US Progressive Party nominated Theodore Roosevelt. Dissident Democrat’s US Progressive Party nominated Henry Wallace. Both were anti-corporation, pro-labor reformers, pro-tarrif.

A Christian myself, I am opposed to all churches, with the exception of those that might be led by other Christians, ie, Pope Francis’ current Catholic Church.

Being anti-war and anti-EU (anti-Bankster), Putin is the most PROGRESSIVE American leader we’ve had since Kennedy and is widely supported by the most advanced Left & Right thinkers in America which converge at this time against the TBTF banks, the 1%, Free Trade WTO.

#36 Comment By Rev. Stephen cakouros On January 23, 2014 @ 6:54 pm

Putin is a better man than Obama. You have to say that much, but maybe that is not saying all that much because Obama is as nefarious as he is narcissistic.

#37 Comment By don On March 6, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

In the middle of the 20th century a conclave of liberal Americans met in secret at Columbia University. They resolved that the moment was at hand to deconstruct the Christian aspects of America by controlling the federal court system. The distraction of the antiwar movement provide coverforthe action.
But the thing the cadre relied upon most for success was the weakness and cowardice of the American Right. The conservatives then were seen as people who loved things more than ideas and who would carp from the safety of the suburbs but who would never physically confront the leftist surge.
The liberals were right and a Christian America is no more.