Thursday, September 22, 2022

An eastern view of the western...

This man, not Joe Biden, is according to a certain Russian sensibility occasionally espoused by Vladimir Putin, the 'leader of the free world'. 
There are a whole load of cultural and historical reasons for this, which I may elaborate more thoroughly another day.

In short...

Russian elites have looked to France above all other nations for centuries. The French are a source of both admiration and envy —  like those axolotls in Paris which Cortázar said can capture you with their gaze — an old foe and yet also a secret buddy, for it is history's dirty secret that together they provoked WWI and then pinned the blame on the Germans. 

Consequently their view of the UK is Napoleonic. We are the permanent pain in the tush. Also a source of green-eyed resentment, but usually second tier. They value our monarchy not because of its constitutional constraints, but for its descent from Victoria, the ultimate Imperial dominatrix. Charles is thus a lost cousin of Russian absolutism and could possibly be Tsar if he gave up being a working royal like his second son, only heading in the other direction.

The Russian view of the USA is Hitleresque; disappointment rather than anger — a bizarrely powerful mega aggregation with seemingly legitimately elected heads of state projecting the demeanour of Kings, a bit like the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, equally bound to fall prey to its own inner chaos and eventually be chewed up by the 'real' powers. 

Russia has never really been a proper friend or foe of the USA. 

They do not value "the greatest nation on earth" culturally as they do France, because they largely conclude that everything of any global value originated with the African slaves. Apart from Westerns, and when I visited the USSR in the eighties they had a whole load of messed up responses that genre. 

For the Russians the Germans, like us Brits are an absurdly bourgeois bunch of factory owners and technocrats. They took the chemist Angel Merkel seriously enough, yet still managed to bamboozle her into energy subservience anyway. 

And Germans, like Americans are essentially protestants, and that is the crux. The French are predominantly Roman Catholic and the Brits are pretend Catholics. 

This matters in the Russian Imperial worldview because they are the Third Rome, or maybe the inheritors of Byzantium, and what a block needs is another proper block to face off against. A mirror of its wants, and so its self-hatred*.

And Macron is also that thing Russians really do get, the Monarch of a Republic. 

Biden's problem is this. Hobbes said his Leviathan was the artificial soul of the nation. Let's look at a couple of recent examples.

Queen Elizabeth: absolutely got this. Never did an interview. Never bared her own soul, so most of us could project our own onto hers. 

Donald Trump: the sort of soul that besmirches everything with its malignant slime. The White House is white because we Brits set it on fire. Yet no amount of white paint yet could cover the stain of the Donald.

And this is the problem that Biden currently faces — aside from increasingly doddering around like that classically soul-less thing, the zombie — is that the institution he inhabits has been utterly soiled by his predecessor. There have been opportunities to send in the nettoyers, but these have been fumbled. 

And this is another thing that QE2 taught us, certain incumbents absorb part of the essence of the institution into themselves, such that when they are gone, it is disturbingly diminished. In a sense this is NOT GOOD with both Elizabeth II and Trump, but she is gone and he is not, and Charles has something to build on and develop, whereas all future POTUSes are caked in shit until they can find a way to symbolically (and legally) shower it off.

Yes, I do know Joe’s also Catholic, but to the Russians his people are Evangelical first and Jewish second before we even get to that. 

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