Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Eso’s Chronicles 239/ 25
Addendum 2—Putin’s Misidentity
© Eso A.B.

While I have the greatest respect for the difficulties that beset post-Soviet Russia in its efforts to make an economic recovery, and have generally perceived Russian President Vladimir Putin’s (b. 1952) efforts in this perspective, I remain skeptical of the direction Putin is taking.

One of the reasons for my skepticism about Vladimir’s leadership is not because I suspect him of dishonesty and lack of transparency, but—as readily noticeable in the above link—his obvious identifying of himself as an urbanite. True, his parents, identified themselves not only with St. Petersburg, but also with Pominovo, a village in the Tver Region, where Vladimir’s grandmother came from. Nevertheless, this is Putin’s family history, not a matter of personal experience.

The reason, why I emphasize Vladimir’s lack of experience with the Russian countryside is that while I was also born in an urban setting, the Soviet occupation of Latvia (1939) forced my family a year later to seek refuge and survival in the countryside, which is why at the age of seven, I became a country boy. At that age, I was still young enough to switch identities. That I identified with the city, at first, is evidenced by the fact that as a ‘city’ boy, I picked a fight at elementary school with a country boy, and paid for it with a broken front tooth. It introduced me to having new respect for the people who were dominant in my new environment.

More than seventy years later, I hold my ability to identify with the countryside as an essential ingredient for my geopolitical and economic orientation with regard to the future. My distancing from the urbanite set began early, at about the age twelve thirteen, when in Displaced Persons camps, I discovered that all the patriots of Latvia there were Latvian urbanites, mostly from Riga—even if they were born in the Latvian countryside. The latter can be ascribed to the fact that in those days the movement of countryside people to the more promising urban setting ended in Riga (up to the time of independence—1918) a German city. Of course, today a similar movement to an urbanite setting uses Riga as a city of transit only. Riga itself is dramatically losing population, down from about a million inhabitants to slightly over 600,000.

So, alright. What makes the countryside so important for the future, and what does it have to do with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin?

Briefly this: While the movement of people from the countryside to the city was already notable in Latvia in the 1920s and 30s, emigration as such had no yet reached popular levels. Such took place for the most part only within the context of religious belief; for example, many Baptists moved from Latvia to America and South America, because not only were many from the countryside, where the economic conditions were less promising for the future than in the city, but because religious discrimination by then dominant Lutheran Church was demeaning of personal achievement simply because of one’s religious affiliation. Incidentally, this same religious intolerance forced my grandfather (a descendant of Herrnhuters, now said to have morphed into the Moravian Church) to leave the countryside for Riga and almost never speak of religion. The way that I know of his religious affiliation with so-called dualist theology is that one of his sayings, passed down by an oral tradition, was—when urged not to work late at the office: “Don’’t worry about me, worry about my Devil.” Evidently, for him, the Devil was not a theological reality, but personal energy. Interestingly, that same saying has survived in America , re: “Work like the Devil.” Later Catholic Christian orthodoxy changed this to: “Work like the Devil for the Lord.”

When I am arguing that President Putin may not be the man to save Russia from the attacks of the West, I base my doubts on such small differences or what French historians call longue durée (long term) influences on history. That is to say, in the present economic setting, where the economy of the future is explained by the media and politicians to the public as more of the same as in the last hundred years , moreover, in an increasingly urban setting, is likely himself suffering from the longue durée cultural virus in that he has no idea of country life and that it suffered a Stalinist like repression from a modernist movement known as urbanism.

It is worth while mentioning in this context that Pope Francis and the Vatican (an urban site since the 15th century) have just identified capitalism (largely to be identified with urbanism) as tyranny . Of course, the Pope may have made the statement because of Israel, which (according to an article at voltairnet claims: “It [Iran and its former President Ahmadinejad] feined “ignorance about the direction of the conference [planned to be held in Iran], which was to show that Europeans had replaced their Christian culture with the religion of the Holocaust.) Not surprisingly, Pope Francis may agree; well knowing that it was the Franks and the French who established the Vatican to try a hand at reestablishing the Holy Roman Empire of the East (Jerusalem cum Constantinople) in the West.

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