Putin’s Party

July 29, 2016 at 7:35 am (Democratic Party, Eric Lee, Green Party, populism, posted by JD, Putin, reactionay "anti-imperialism", Republican Party, Russia, United States)

Eric Lee reports (28/07/2016) from Philadelpia. Republished from Eric’s blog:

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A few years after the second world war, a strange book was published in New York City.  It was called The Russian Menace to Europe and judging by the title, one would imagine it was one of many books which focussed public attention on the threat posed by the emerging Soviet superpower.

The book’s authors, however, were Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

It was a collection of essays, mostly newspaper articles, written by Marx and Engels in the 19th century.  The Russia they were concerned about was not the Soviet Union, but the tsarist empire.

And yet there were very strong parallels between the two periods, a point Marx himself made (without knowing the future) when he described the unchanging character of Russian foreign policy.

Marx was especially concerned with the way Russia manipulated Western leaders, especially certain British politicians such as Lord Palmerston.  Palmerston’s actions during the Crimean War seemed to benefit Russia so often that Marx was convinced he was the tsar’s agent.

The idea back in the 1950s that Communist Russia and tsarist Russia had so much in common was quite daring.  Today, the idea that Putin’s Russia continues historic patterns stretching back centuries seems less controversial.

Putin’s foreign policy is simply a 21st century version of traditional Russian imperialism, constantly poking and probing its neighbors for weakness.  

In 2008, he brazenly launched a war on Georgia, an independent country to Russia’s south.  He continues to occupy two Georgian provinces with Russian troops.  A few years later, his soldiers seized control of Crimea from Ukraine. And then they triggered a civil war in eastern Ukraine, causing thousands of deaths.

Putin’s 21st century Russian imperialism has its foreign policy too and just like the tsars and the Communists, it seeks to influence Western politicians and public opinion.

In the American elections, the Russians are playing both sides with a considerable measure of success.  The relationship between Putin and Trump is an increasingly transparent one.  Trump has long expressed his admiration for Putin.  And yesterday, he stunned the political world in America by publicly calling on the Russians to release some 30,000 deleted emails from Hillary Clinton’s server which they may have hacked.

But it is not only the far-right Republicans that Putin seeks to influence and control.  For several years now, Putin’s satellite TV news channel Russia Today has tried to influence public opinion in the West by pretending to offer an alternative view of the world.  It is has had a certain limited success.

I spent yesterday not at the Democratic National Convention but at alternative events hosted by both democratic socialist groups and the far Left here in Philadelphia.  Green Party presidential candidate Dr Jill Stein spoke at one of them.  In a packed, airless and extremely hot hall, I saw a number of participants wearing “Hillary for Prison” t-shirts.  It seemed to strike no one as odd that Donald Trump’s slogan had a place at a left-wing meeting.

I imagine that most of the people in the room would broadly accept the world-view espoused by Russia Today — that the United States is the cause of global instability, that Russia threatens no one, and so on.  These views are certainly reflected in the platform of the Green Party.

So we find in America a century and a half after Marx and Engels wrote their essays that on both political fringes, right and left, the influence of the Russian state is clearly felt.  Obviously it is Donald Trump, and not Jill Stein, who needs to worry us.  But both are part of the same broad current who distrust American foreign policy, demonize Hillary Clinton, and have no problem with the autocrat in the Kremlin.

Those groups and individuals, whether they support the Tea Party or are self-styled Communists, are the members of Putin’s Party.


  1. Paul Canning (@pauloCanning) said,

    It is not a ‘civil war’ in Ukraine, it’s an invasion. All evidence suggests that the occupation has support of, at most, one fifth of the people living in the occupied areas.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      You are right is was an invasion and the overthrow of the Ukranian democratic government was wrong. It was only a matter of time before Russia intervened as the NATO drinks cabinet was approaching the Russian border. Russia has its economic interests as we do. I am not taking sides just being a realist.
      Putin and Russia has a plus side they do fight Islamic extremism and give no quarter. The West allows extremists to enter unabated thus the orgy of killing against our citizens.

  2. Robert said,

    What was the name of the legendary evil figure in Ralph Ellison’s INVISIBLE MAN? Ras the destroyer …

    and now we have -putin
    who surely is a dead horse’s nasty arse

    Anti-Communist is one thing
    McCarthyite (Joe versus Joe) another

    ain’t dat anti-Americanism a bit acne-ed?
    People used to refer to some musicians whose work was in some quarters called Dixieland as sad cases of Obnoxious Adolescent Peterpannery (OAP) but how grown up they seem beside Putin’s putti / putanescule…

  3. jschulman said,

    Jill Stein certainly has her flaws but Eric Lee’s comments on her are a wee bit over the top.

    • ericlee said,

      I don’t think so. See my earlier piece which goes into greater detail about the Greens and their platform: http://www.ericlee.info/blog/?p=1198

    • Ben said,

      It is not for nothing that the Greens are called watermelons, green outside and red inside. Both Stein and Sanders espouse an objectively pro-Russian foreign policy.

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        The CP of GB is pro Russian. It seems the ‘Wall’ never came down.
        However NATO seems to be intent on having its border with Russia.
        Dangerous times, again.

  4. Political Tourist said,

    The Glasgow Bigot speaking on international affairs.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Pt Scot Nat si and bigot fae Coatbrig. Who normally speaks on narrow narionalism. Interesting.

  5. Rilke said,

    Putin and Russian national interest will look after itself and is no friend to socialists, the same is true of US, French, German, UK and various other national strategic interests. The idea that Russia is a particular evil and a threat to the ‘West’ usually comes form NATO hawks and those that use the word ‘Stalinist’ every time they have to even think about Russia. I recall the same people crowing at Russian humiliation during the Second Yeltsin period when one of the ‘greatest democratic breakthroughs’ was that European and US exporters and importers could use Russian airports at will without paying tax to the Russian state. When Putin put a stop to this he was called ‘a despot’. Putin is an authoritarian but a popular one and he has to keep up the Russia is ‘great again’ line to keep his support up. He should be opposed for what he is, but the anti Russian war mongering from some of the left is odious.
    I have been in Armenia recently and I have a number of Kurdish and Armenian friends. They are worried about the anti Russian sentiments being pushed in the West. ISIS are being pushed out of Syria and many are now taking military and state positions in Turkey after the purges. The Islamist and militant push in Turkey is looking for an all out conflict on the Armenian Azerbaijan border against ‘Orthodox Russian interference’. In other words, with the backing of Turkey ISIS are seeking a new war with Armenia. Armenia always looks to Russia for help. Erdogan is banking that the West will wither back him in this effort or will remain neutral. The rise in anti Russian rhetoric recently must be seen in this context. There are already skirmishes and Turkey has upped the ante with anti air hits on Russian helicopters and planes and Armenian militants are already demanding a tougher counter response. You heard it here, it is coming. Do not be drawn into the rising anti Russian propaganda that is shaping for a proxy war with Russia via Via Turkey and ISIS. Putin is an authoritarian and repressive, but any criticism should not take the form of anti Russia hysteria. Such hysteria will lend credence to the current crop of NATO war mongers, many of whom are British. One has recently penned a book that is doing the rounds in hawkish right wing circles entitled ‘2017War with Russia’. Wise up!

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Are you talking about Gen Sherriff and the book. And the West are deploying more troops in the East.

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