I want to start with few things when writing about soft power which are greatly summarized by old Russian anecdote about a man who lost his car keys in the dark alley but chose to look for them under the bright street light "because it is easier to look for them here". This is a defining trait of what passes in the US for the "intellectual class" and I have some examples to illustrate this, which is a testimony to a very low level of education (not in a formal sense, albeit in this too) and culture of these people. And I am not talking about "lefty", associated primarily with the Democrats that is, psychobabbling strata of people who pretend to be thinkers, but about what would allegedly be perceived as, by definition, more cultured and educated people of the "conservative" intellectual movement in the US. Well, truth is--they are not, and produce the same shallow pretentious drudgery which hides its intellectual feebleness behind lofty rhetoric and semantic constructs, which bear absolutely no meaning.
Here is where Russia comes in play as a litmus test. American "intellectual class" simply has no clue about Russia, especially modern Russia and will not know about her for a reason of this American intelligentsia being precisely anti-intellectual in the most extreme form. This goes beyond Daniel Larison's dictum of US elites' ignorance of the outside world. American "intellectuals" who associate themselves with those "elites" are ignorant too and they are incapable of learning--a defining feature of American elites. It is impossible when one is afflicted by the untreatable disorder or projecting one's own psychosis, born out of a deadly mix of low cultural level and uncontrollable desire to pontificate on the subjects American "intellectual" has no clue about, onto others. So, the paradigm of looking for the car keys, lost in the dark alley, in the place which is brightly lit "because it is easier to look for them here" unfolds. Or, using even older Russian proverb--the pig will always find a dirt to lay in.
Russia in this case is a perfect tool for deconstructing American "intellectuals" impotence and ignorance because this American intelligentsia for decades cannot get Russia right and will not get her right, or, as I like to say, will not be able to find its ass with its own both hands in the brightly lit room. A gigantic body of empirical evidence of this intellectual feebleness exists in a form of a disaster, which the United States of today are, which was predicted long ago by many... Russians. Yet, as another piece in today's The American Conservative suggests, the strata of what is called Kreakls in Russia and which is universally despised by overwhelming majority of Russians is accepted as Russia's "rebuke".
The internationally award-winning stage and screen director Konstantin Bogomolov has declaimed on civilizational decline with a scathing manifesto published recently in the Moscow daily Novaya Gazeta. He has ignited a firestorm of debate by laying blame for the erosion of freedom of expression in the West at the feet of what he calls a “New Ethical Reich.” This regime resembles the most odious of the 20th century in its worst tendencies. Readers of TAC will no doubt cheer his courage in excoriating the, ironically, totalitarian liberals who seek to turn us all into thought police.
This whole piece by some "political consultant" is preposterous in its pretense of reflecting "real Russia" and how Russians feel. Here is a test--did you encounter any American "intellectual" or "political consultant" reviewing, say, first rate works by Russian real intellectuals or directors such as those who made a massively impactful and influential movie 28 Panfilov Men. Of course not, what overwhelming majority of Russians thinks is of no interest to American "intellectuals" for a number of reasons, among which their conviction of own greatness, precludes them from learning of what Russia actually thinks. So, instead of paying attention to real Russia and Russians, this Ajjan guy, pulls out of hat opinions of some Kreakl, Konstantin Bogomolov, whose desperate meandering lamentation about combined West sliding into the dark ages was printed in the Novaya Gazeta--an official Kreaklo-liberda (owners are billionaire Lebedev and, no less, than Gorbachev himself and Mikhail Khodorkovsky as grey cardinal) source for either outright Russophobic lies or, almost non-stop, anti-Russian propaganda.
So is Konstantin Bogomolov who is a bona-fide Russophobe and a classic representative of Russian liberda who, seeing both a catastrophe of the combined West and a complete failure, due to both lack of any support among Russians and, in fact, increasing hatred for them, of Navalny's provocations, suddenly does a trick known in Russia as changing shoes in the jump and assaults Russian liberda. Liberda being largely a euphemism for Russophobes, significant share of them being West's intelligence assets, and the West. Paul Robinson had enough stomach to discuss this Bogomolov's lamentations, I don't, because I know that Bogomolov, being a director from a Moscow liberal Parnassus, has about the same understanding of modern world as Mr. Ajjan who found it worthy of attention discussing thoughts of some liberal opportunist. Which among overwhelming majority of Russian public didn't create nothing but arrival to the conclusion that Bogomolov is merely trying to fit into the new old reality of Russia which is "conservative" in Russian sense by her nature, always was and will always remain.
Opinions of some Moscow liberal Beau Monde boy, who had enough audacity, combined with lack of taste, to scrap the bottom of the Russia's liberal barrel and marry Russia's slut-in-charge Kseniya Sobchak, are as consequential to Russians as opinions of this very Mr. Ajjan and the discussion is not about Bogomolov, but about presenting a fecal matter of Russia's creative class as something that matters. Ajjan doesn't just stop at accepting Bogomolov's frustrations as viable, but he concludes:
But Russia is fortunate to have a cultural icon who can articulate a worldview, who encourages his countrymen to think for themselves critically as they resist the thought police, and who ponders his nation’s European future at a time when self-hatred seems to rule the day and all the very best legacies of Europe risk falling prey to a “cancel culture.” Refreshingly, his thoughts go beyond the relative merits or disgraces of Vladimir Putin as head of state; they cut right to the heart of what kind of nation Russians might want to be as a people and what kind of Europe they aspire to be a part of.
Mr. Ajjan, obviously, doesn't have any clue on modern Russia and on Russian culture in general, because Bogomolov "thoughts" are exactly part and parcel of Western thought today and, as this proverbial pig looking for a dirt to lay anywhere, Ajjan recognizes in Bogomolov's miasma of a thought something what defines American elites' "intellect" today. It has nothing to do with Russia and Russians who already know, contrary to Mr. Ajjan's pontification, what they "want to be as a people" and why they DO NOT want to be a part of Europe. How Mr, Ajjan missed this important tectonic shift which occurred in the 21st century Russia is absolutely mind-boggling. But then again, this is precisely my point--it is not about Russia and Russians, who Western intellectuals hate in their overwhelming majority, but about them not even recognizing a real geopolitical storm, which was and is being driven by overwhelming majority of Russians whose culture IS NOT defined by Bogomolov and his ilk. Bogomolov's "thoughts" are absolutely inconsequential for Russia, with the exception of a shrinking cesspool of Russia's liberal creative class who, same as its Western counterpart, is badly educated, ambitious and self-centered.
So, calling derivative opinions stolen by Bogomolov from real Russian intellectuals who warned about West's totalitarian direction already in 1990s and his ignorant ramblings about Russian culture and people, a "Rebuke" tells one everything one needs to know about what constitutes today "notable" opinions at the American "conservative" intellectual kitchen on Russia. This is not speak of the fact that calling Bogomolov a "cultural icon" shows a degree of ignorance of Russian realities by Ajjan and people at TAC who published this drivel. Yet, not to be outdone, The American Conservative publishes yet another "Russia" piece and as you may have guessed it--about Solzhenitsyn.
Micah Mattix reviews yet another "treatise" on Solzehnitsyn scribes by Robert Kaplan who reviews Solzhentsyn's unreadable (you would expect that from Kaplan to not understand it--most American "Russian scholars" do not speak Russian at all or barely) and Kaplan writes this:
Solzhenitsyn’s dissection of the Russian defeat at the Battle of Tannenberg, which occupies much of the action of August 1914, should be studied at every military war college. Without that failure, there might well have been no Romanov abdication, no Lenin, thus no twentieth century as we know it. Solzhenitsyn’s presentation of the battle over hundreds of pages is panoramic, immersive, and masterly, the equivalent in typewriter ink of Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s Fight Between Carnival and Lent. As with any writer of great epics, Solzhenitsyn knows many disparate things: the technicalities of artillery formations and field maneuvers; the mental process by which semi-starving, over-extended, and ill-led soldiers become looters; how small changes in terrain affect forced marches; as well as the placement of the stars in the night sky and the names of many Orthodox saints.
Let me put it this way only an American neocon journo could have come up with this doozy of a thought, since literally every line in it is an Exhibit A of a military and historical delusions of Kaplan, which are inevitable when one considers who Solzhenitsyn was and the level of falsifications of Russian history he reached. Solzhenitsyn never was a historian, let alone military historian, despite his "service" in WW II as a coachman in the rear, at first, and then as a commander of sound battery. Such battery was not really a battery of guns but a collection of the distributed microphones deployed in the rear, yet again, to triangulate by the sound of enemy's guns their position for counter-battery operations by the actual front-line artillery units. Right before Solzhenitsyn faced an actual combat in a deadly assault on Koniegsberg, he made sure that he is removed from the Army and arrested to sit out the end of the war in GULAG. He successfully achieved that and after release started to invent alternative history, first on his own, later with a great deal of aid from the West. Militarily he was always an amateur and open liar. But, hey, if Kaplan wants to use a now well-known falsifier as a study in any War College--I have some news for Kaplan, Solzhenitsyn is not allowed anywhere near any Russian military academy or war college precisely because Russians know about their history, especially military one, slightly more than Solzhenitsyn ever knew (in fact he did all he could to avoid studying it), not to mention Robert Kaplan or, for that matter, most modern American (and Western) "Russian studies" field "scholars" who are on the front line of facing Russia's soft power because actual Russian military and political history from WW I through WW II not only testifies to Solzhenitsyn's mediocre literary gifts but debunks completely the history of the 20th Century Solzhenitsyn wrote for the West in order to counter an appreciation by the world of the Soviet/Russian decisive contribution to a defeat of Axis powers/ But then again, Kaplan never heard of the Central Archives of Defense Ministry in Podolsk, nor did he ever try to read Krivosheev, Svechin, Denikin, Triandafilov and memoirs of a bunch White movement generals, which, actually, were published even in USSR and who contradict Solzhenitsyn at every turn. But, of course, what those participants in the actual events know about it, right?
Indeed, who needs to study anything when one "political adviser" declares a rather artistic mediocrity and a pathetic excuse for "intellectual" a Russian "cultural icon", while the other thinks that one of the most significant falsifiers of history and military ignoramus must be "studied in every military war college". Sure, if the situation with the US Armed Forces is not bad enough, any Russian would suggest to study Solzhenitsyn in both US Naval and US Army war college since it will assure an additional confusion in already utterly cognitively dissonanced US military services to lose even more in terms of good solid study of tactics, operational art and strategy. But that just exposes what I am writing about for many years--American "intellectuals" are not there to study Russia, they are there to insulate already increasingly ignorant American public from the realities of the only country which can wipe the United States off the map and which drives a historic transition of the world to multi-polarity, because Americans are not supposed to be subjected to a culture which is not only much older but much wiser in terms of what many Americans think they are the best at--real war.
American intellectual elite made its choice long time ago and it lies about Russia not only today, it did it always after the WW II trying to both address its own complex of inferiority towards Soviets upon checking the balance of contributions and costs in the America's emergence as a superpower after the WW II--yes, yes, it was Patton who defeated Meinstein and Model at Kursk and Stalingrad--as well as due to inherent arrogance, which De Tocqueville defined as American "garrulous patriotism", of American "intellectual" who thought that he he knew the world. He didn't, especially in both historic terms and time. Today, with the explosive development of mass-communications the American "intellectual" is under increasing pressure, if not assault, of images, facts, news, events, sounds from Russia which blow this American "intellectual" view of the world completely out of the water. For this "intellectual" it is a horrifying ordeal to see all chimeras he grew up with--from GULAG Archipelago, to WW II to the sense of the America's halcyon times' emotional high, against the reality which is ruthless and always wins... Let's recall Whitman Bassow's quip from his excellent book in 1988:
In 33 years since then nothing changed, in fact things became worse, much worse. For American "intellectuals" many of who were behind this deterioration things are getting increasingly difficult because in modern world America has nothing to offer and, bar a complete censorship and thought-control, which are coming, has nothing to counter Russia's increasing soft power with, because for the first time in centuries, majority, overwhelming majority of Russians do not give a damn about how combined West thinks about them, especially repeating beaten to death utterly false cliches and lies and thus are totally free to create. This is a key strength in unfolding global clash between modern Russian intellect and culture and untreatable ignorance of the America's intellectual class.
To Be Continued...