August 4, 2013

"Why Russia Turned Against The Gays."

A headline at Buzzfeed. Excerpt:
Russia’s new laws — banning same-sex foreign couples from adopting Russian children in addition to banning LGBT advocacy — are part of the country’s very search for survival, according to [Russian legislator Yelena Mizulina].

On the one hand, there’s its physical survival — Russia’s birthrate plummeted in the wake of the Soviet collapse and encouraging baby-making (through government grants as well as rhetoric) has been one of Vladimir Putin’s hallmarks. And then there’s its moral survival; if Russia is to survive as Russia it needs to reject the corrupting influences of the West....
According to the article, Vladimir Putin used his image and personality in place of ideology, back when people were tired of Communism. But over time that strategy became ineffective, so:
Putin has launched a campaign to shore up support in the Russian “heartland,” that mythical place far from the bustling streets of Moscow where headscarved peasants embrace core Russian concepts that don’t actually exist anymore.

In the absence of any ideology — any core belief to tie together the Russian state and nation — the easiest way to fill the vacuum has been by turning to the Russian Orthodox Church, a deeply corrupt, reactionary, and Kremlin-loving institution...

The second easiest thing has been to demonize the “Other,” creating an internal enemy for everyone to fear.... Demonizing gays allows Putin to tell the “heartland”: I will protect you and your “traditional” families; you are the real Russia....
I wonder if looking like Putin will scare any Americans away from the anti-gay agenda. The resonances here are subtle enough that those who don't want to see them won't.

ADDED: "What it’s like to be an unassuming gay-rights activist in Russia today."

I need subtitles! I thought I knew who was the gay guy — the small redhead in the leather jacket — but the longer the video went on, the more confused I got. The thuggish guys who are picking on the redhead, they're the anti-gay guys, right? But what's with the tight, striped tank tops and the hats and the ripped abs? They seemed gay. Then the police/military guys show up and start rousting the tankie guys into paddywagons. Are the Russian authorities harassing the anti-guy guys? That would cut against the story that it's gay people getting suppressed these days. And what's with "OMOH" on the backs of the uniforms? If you see that in your rear view mirror, it spells "HOMO."


Paddy O said...

I don't think people care about Russia. Russia's experience with oligarchy and controlling hierarchies, after all, because a model for many, not a caution.

The stronger likelihood is that we'll start hearing more rhetoric from academics about the importance of the heartland and traditional values that bolster the power of corrupt institutions. We don't have a state church in the same way, but we do have equivalent institutions. And people who would see themselves as Patriarchs, like Bloomberg. Many, if not most, of whom aren't Republicans.

John Lynch said...

The same dynamic was at work in Germany during the 1920s. There were marches for free love, gay nightclubs and so on.

German society, to put it mildly, wasn't ready.

Societies in decline, or who feel they are in decline, can go crazy.

It's important to remember that no social change is permanent. History doesn't have a direction, and we aren't going anywhere. There is nothing new under the sun.

Danno said...

I don't believe it will change anyone in the U.S.

However, I found it very ironic that they didn't want corrupt influences from the western culture. A country that is totally corrupt from a rule of law standpoint, where political adversaries are routinely jailed and many business leaders are charged with tax crimes that are ginned up and then also jailed.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I think there's a difference between 'demonizing' the gays and saying that gay marriage is not an actual marriage as defined by natural law and human history.

Gay activists say that any discussion of the merits of their arguments makes us 'haters.' Not that they'd lump us in with Putin, since they LIKE Putin because he's a strong leader who accomplishes things by fiat. (If only Obama had that flexibility!)

I think what will actually happen is that no one will pay much attention to Russia and the Gays except for a few libertarians.

Remember, the leftist ideology is "Support the authoritarian state in all its forms!"

It's just that in the US the most efficient way of expanding the power of the state is through creating special priveledges for classes of people declared 'victims.'

It really has nothing to do with 'freedom.' It's just about expanding the government's power to infringe on the freedoms of speech and free association.

So, Putin is a hero. It's just that, for him, gays are more of a non-statist element that Christians are.

In the US, gays are happy to be tools of the state, so they are the good guys.

somefeller said...

Jamie Kirchick wrote a good piece on this at the Daily Beast recently. Link is below (sorry, I'm on an iPhone and that makes HTML linking a pain). Yeah, the resonances are there for those who can and want to see them, but not for those who can't and won't.

chuck said...

In 1920 the Bolsheviks made abortion legal. In 1936 it was made illegal again, mostly on account of worries about population. I think there was a similar trend in divorce laws. The worry about population growth was, I believe, a concern in many European countries through most of the first half of the twentieth century. I think the concern was connected with the military competition of that period. I don't think there is anything really new here.

Angle-Dyne, Servant of Ugliness said...

In the absence of any ideology ...the easiest way to fill the vacuum... one's late-modern head is to engage in the droning repetition of sacred albeit content-less mantras like "demonizing the Other".

...that mythical place far from the bustling streets of Moscow where headscarved peasants embrace core Russian concepts that don’t actually exist anymore.

"Concepts that don't exist anymore". Your world doesn't exist anymore. You don't exist anymore.

Why is obvious propaganda so often invisible to those who plume themselves on their sensitivity to subtle resonances?

...anti-gay agenda...


somefeller said...

Gay activists say that any discussion of the merits of their arguments makes us 'haters.' Not that they'd lump us in with Putin, since they LIKE Putin because he's a strong leader who accomplishes things by fiat. (If only Obama had that flexibility!)

Deirdre, can you provide some examples of support of Putin from American liberals? Also, thanks for proving the point about resonances and who notices them.

Gahrie said...

However, I found it very ironic that they didn't want corrupt influences from the western culture.

You have to understand that Russia's definition of "corrupting influence" and ours are very different. Putin is worried about things like freedom, government accountability, free elections and free markets.

Anonymous said...

Russia has the world's highest abortion rate and decreasing life expectancy.

Do you think Putin et al are going to sit around and not try to find fixed for demographic collapse?

Stephen A. Meigs said...

I doubt many Americans would be particularly reluctant to be associated with Putin. His behavior toward Snowden makes it seem that he cares more about at least some fundamental human rights than Obama or the Congress does. And as for his curtailing the free speech of homosexuals, it is no worse than (say) what Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act did to repress the free speech of those writing "material 'likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt' based on grounds of discrimination like race, religion or sexual orientation," which in news closer to home was repealed this June. Practically nobody was talking about boycotting the Vancouver olympics, except maybe a few baby seal lovers I suppose.

From comments from a Russian at the site you gave, I don't believe Putin's Russia even has gone so far as to ban sodomy or buggery or the gay subset of that, which before the decadence of very recent times would be the typical western approach, with a few exceptions like France after adopting the Penal code of 1791 during the revolution. According to Wikipedia, buggery was a capital offense in the U.K. until 1861, and in Canada until 1869.

somefeller said...

The issue of Russia's demographic troubles is a real one and I'm sure it underlies part of what's going on here, which is to say that gays are being used as a scapegoat for national problems. Russia and other nations have a history of that sort of thing.

One thing seems to be a truism. Cultures and individuals that see themselves as thriving, advancing and successful generally don't go in for attacking GLBT people. And those that don't see themselves as such generally do.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Somefeller wrote:
"Jamie Kirchick wrote a good piece on this at the Daily Beast recently."
And links to a Daily Beast article:

The examples of 'conservatives' in the article number just three. All are specifically religious ("Scott Lively Ministries"), and I have never heard of any of them.
It's a smear, labeling Putin a neo-fascist, then putting all 'American conservatives' in the same category as Putin.

That is what you do to the 'other'.

jr565 said...

If only the gays for Palestine were aware that Palestinians hate gays and actually, I don't know, held it against them rather than go after Israel because their leftism tells them to.
Lefties will always have that cognitive dissonance going on where, their anti west leftism flies in the face of that which they support.

It may end up being that it's not the evils of socialism that makes Russia bad to lefty socialists, but that they are mean to gay people.

Actually it's the socialism too.

n.n said...

They are concerned with an effort to normalize behaviors which are antithetical to evolutionary fitness. While homosexual behavior is the prototypical example of a dysfunctional behavior, the principal threat to the viability of society or humanity is a progressive devaluation caused by normalizing a variety of dysfunctional behaviors, especially elective abortions, which cause an individual and universal devaluation of human life.

That said, people should be discerning and recognize that behaviors can be characterized in one of three classes: rejection, tolerance, and normalization. Since homosexual behavior has no redeeming value to either society or humanity, it is not suitable for normalization. However, while it is exhibited by a minority of the population, it can be reasonably tolerated. Elective abortion on the other hand, like other acts of premeditated murder without cause or due process, can neither be normalized nor tolerated at any level of expression.

This issue is not about the West per se, but is generally related to the civilization paradox. There is a direct correlation between the development of civilized society, which engenders a dissociation of risk, and the expression of dysfunctional and corrupt behaviors. This paradox can be observed in all civilizations throughout history and throughout the world, where both dysfunctional behaviors and corruption were and are progressive.

YoungHegelian said...


Deirdre, can you provide some examples of support of Putin from American liberals?

Somefeller, could you please acquaint yourself with Soviet history & realize that for the Soviet Union, homsexuality didn't exist under communism because it was a product of capitalist social deformation. Homosexuals were routinely imprisoned or sent to psychiatric hospitals for their proclivities in the USSR. And, of course, no liberals ever defended the Soviet Union, now, did they?

Would it have killed Buzzfeed to find someone to write the article who actually knew some Russian/Soviet history? The "protection of Russia from Western influences" meme goes back to at least the arguments between the Slavophiles & the Westernizers, which I would argue goes back before the dates given here, to the reaction of the traditional Russian hierarchies to the pounding they took under the ultimate Westernizer, Peter the Great.

Titus said...

Russia sucks.

Have you seen the videos of those thugs beating gays?

Fuck Russia!

cubanbob said...

Buzzfeed how reliable is that? Anyway setting that aside Putin can't or won't deal with the underlying causes so he deflects. Just like you know who.....

Titus said...

Those Russian thugs look like a jean paul gaultier commercial.

Titus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis Wetzel said...

Titus wrote:
"Have you seen the videos of those thugs beating gays?"

Blackadder: Tell me, Brother Baldrick, what exactly did God do to the Sodomites?
Baldrick: I dunno, my lord. But it can't have been worse than what they used to do to each other.

hombre said...

Interesting how the Buzzfeed columnist readily assumes that the demographic and the "corruption of morals" explanations are bogus.

It cannot be because homosexuality is a positive factor in a society. It isn't. (Although I'm open to arguments to the contrary.)

It is one thing to argue that the Russian remedies - legal and extra-legal - are extreme. It is quite another, but typical of our simplistic journalism, to assert that Russia's stated motivation is without merit.

wildswan said...

Yes, Putin is "deflecting" when he tries to blame the Russian demographic catastrophe on gays. But why does he have to deflect? Because population decline undermines the welfare state and Russia is facing catastrophic decline - low,low fertility that has gone on and on and on - and Putin hasn't found a way to get women to want to have families or men to want to support those families. He knows that the Russian welfare state will crash soon because he has realized that the crash of the welfare state is the inevitable consequence of population decline and so like any well-prepared tyrant he is lining up his scapegoats. It's easy to wreck the family; it's not so easy to rebuild it when you see you need it. Easier to get the gays and the churches fighting - look, squirrel.

Anonymous said...

Younghegelian: it CAN'T be the ideas they're protecting, when they protect the Soviets. Even instinctively...

Deirdre Mundy said...

I realized while out and about with the kids that I totally missed the other resonance--

A politician elected as part of a personality cult, who had easy popularity based on shirtless photos and the art of being a celebrity, suddenly faces a stagnant economy, a raft of scandals, and plummeting popularity, even among his former supporters.

So he must play-up existing tensions and divide and conquer in order to keep power.

..... luckily, he has more flexibility now.

AlanKH said...

Deirdre, gay activists might favor certain autocrats, but I don't think Putin is among them. Heck, I don't see evidence that any wing of American politics is terribly fond of the guy.

Anglelyne, your icon looks almost as angry as Nancy Grace.

Aaron said...

The guys with striped shirts and berets also have a parachute flag...I believe they are dressing like Spetnaz special forces. Striped shirts like that are considered "Elite" military.

SJL said...

Russia is such a sad country.

Jon said...

"Russia has the world's highest abortion rate and decreasing life expectancy."

Actually Russian life expectancy has risen by 4 years since 2006. It did dip slightly in 2012, but that was primarily because of a change in the way infant mortality was calculated.

The Russian birth rate has been rising too.

Blair said...

the easiest way to fill the vacuum has been by turning to the Russian Orthodox Church, a deeply corrupt, reactionary, and Kremlin-loving institution...

What an appalling thing to say about a Patriarchate that represents over 150 million people! Would Buzzfeed even dare to dismiss Catholicism with one sentence like that? In addition, it is also incredibly untrue. The Russian Church had many martyrs under communism, and is only now beginning to recover and flourish. While I am uncomfortable with how buddy buddy Patriarch Kirill is with Putin, the idea that the Church is "Kremlin loving" is a nonsense.

Unknown said...

I have gay friends; got nothing against them and I don't try to stick my ideas down their throats. I just want to be able to keep mine. Unfortunately gays try to force their ideas upon everyone else. Let's admit it: if you live in the west and don't applaud gays today you become an enemy of the state. Newspapers will come after you and demonize you, you'll lose your job and effectively ruin your life. Is that freedom? I say not. Russia has a long history of oppression and corruption; So their motives are not what they say they are in this case: so what? - it's Russia. But does the fact that the west had had a better track record automatically grant it the right position in this comparison? Russia has its bad record we all know it, but the west is on a speedy sliding slope of degradation. Who will have hit the most negative points on the moral bottom between us and Russia? Is that what you people are concerned with?
50 years ago when the majority of this nation was in a much healthier mental state, not many people would have considered homosexuality a decent or normal lifestyle. Someone here said that nothing is new and all is repeating. Oh how wrong you are! As with the fast and unprecedented changes in everything from technology to the way we eat , sleep and think, so did our perception of decency and normalcy has tremendously altered. And not for the better. Today we have arguments for what should be considered normal. They go like this: "homosexuality IS normal because we see it in animals too." Yes but dogs also eat their own excrement. Animals kill without having any feeling of wrongdoing or remorse and that is perfectly normal to them. Should we also adopt those traits then? Here the word normal should refer to normal for a human.
Mark my words: when this fight will be over, the next tendency on the world agenda for human degradation will be the rights of pedophiles. They will sing the same tune as gays and trannies do today: "We were born that way". And in a couple of generations (perhaps not even that long) the world acceptance and sympathy for killers and psychopaths will have finally ripened - "if it feels right, just do it". Oh how will they be enraged at the "sinister" old times when there wasn't any equality for them. World degradation, that's what this is pure and simple. And the normal people are the true victims. There - one for not being afraid to tell the truth. The rest of you who know I am right live in fear of loosing what you got - position and such. Well don't worry because of your inaction the next generation is going to be even more demented and far more ridden with disease and problems than it is today and you're going to look back nostalgically to today and think what if you could have tried to stop the madness.