Chris Everett argues that followers of Trump and Farage should stop apologising for a genuine threat to the West.
Dr Piers Robinson’s piece in The Guardian this week extolled the virtues of Kremlin propagandists Russia Today; it was rightly met with a healthy dose of derision from the rest of the mainstream media. The problem of latent Russia apologists on the left is one of those bizarre twentieth century hangovers hardliners still haven’t shaken – despite the fact that Russia is now in the grip of, for all intents and purposes, a nationalist government (albeit one that is democratically elected).
Left-wing academics hyping up the ‘useful insights’ of Russia Today as a Cold War hangover I can understand, on account that for the hard left the West is always at fault (at least in the case of the Middle East, the West and Israel). What I cannot understand is the acceptance of Putin apologists on the right – especially the alternative or ‘alt’ right.
How could one of the men most responsible for fomenting the migrant crisis (propping up the then failing Assad regime, from which the vast majority have fled), for attacking free speech values in the press, and for undermining several states’ sovereignty win the hearts of this sub group of right wingers? They who despise those characteristics in any other leader (say, Erdoğan)?
Part of the answer has to be trolling – something the anti-Social Justice Warrier (SJW) alt-right is pretty well practised at from their good work protesting campus censorship. Yet there is also something deeper, too; a twisted reading of international law that legitimises moral vacuums within sovereign borders, together with healthy doses of conspiracy-style thinking (thanks, RT) and an arch scepticism of any and all Western foreign policy gained through school and a hatred of Blair’s Iraq war. Throw into the mix some traditional isolationist thinking, and you have a jumbled up rationale for defending putin.
When figures like Farage and Trump praise Putin’s strategy – which is to push European countries into a state of isolation so as to better dominate the Eastern European sphere – they inspire a group of alt-right followers to uncritically follow. Assuming opposition to the Russian strongman’s aggressive foreign policy is indicative of Social Justice Warrior wetness, they ignore the fact that Putin most likely ordered a man in British protection murdered on British streets, that he destabilised our friends and allies in Eastern Europe by grabbing the Crimea and fuelling a frozen conflict in the Donbass. They triumph Putin’s strategy of attacking ISIS while either turning a blind eye to – or worst justifying – butcher Assad’s mass murder of civilian men, women and children.
They are correct – as is Trump – that NATO should not try and make enemies for no reason. However, they are wrong in the implication that this means we should never confront Putin. One of the strengths of the alt-right I have observed is the ability of its proponents to apply a degree of critical thinking to convention. They should try it out on Putin.