By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit
Exile in Happy Valley
Russophobia has become America’s new favorite form of bigotry. You can’t jaywalk in this goddamn country without being accused of first degree Putin puppetry. This cold borscht of xenophobia has been brewing for some time but it has taken on a whole new spiciness with Robert Mueller’s blockbuster witch trials and the alleged pervasive Putinist conspiracy to subvert our so-called democracy. The shocking thing, to me at least, is that even stalwart elements of the radical left have been effected by the fumes of the latest Red Scare. One of my favorite writers, CounterPunch’s Jeffrey St. Clair, has taken to referring to Russiagate critics such as myself as the Sputnik Left. It’s cute. I kinda like it, but then again you are talking to a non-binary person who takes tranny as a compliment. I’ve never been particularly hesitant to embrace the role of the villain. After all, who else is going to blow up the system? But there are still bones to be picked and I’m just the bitch to pick them.
The general stereotype of the Sputnik Left is that we’re a bunch of bitter, Putin loving, conspiracy theorists who ingest RT like cheap caviar and maintain a decidedly myopic view of Russia’s alleged involvement in the 2016 election among other nefarious acts of Rusky skulduggery. Jeffrey recently described us as “political activists who rigorously apply Chomsky’s lens to the NYT, WashPost, and the Guardian, but regurgitate as gospel whatever they read or hear on RT or Sputnik”, and like even the least of Jeff’s work there is a grain of truth here. I have friends who fit that description to a tee but it’s an awfully broad brush for a diverse crew. I can’t speak for all of us but I figured one of us might as well attempt a rebuttal.
First off, Putin: I am not nor have I ever been a Putin puppet. As a genderqueer anarchist, I’m sure that Vlad wouldn’t think twice about chucking my radical faerie ass into a gulag. Like all politicians, Putin is greedy, vain, stupid, and shallow. People in his country starve while he hobnobs with the kind of cruel oligarchs that were rightfully strung from the lamp posts during the Revolution. But the western notion that Putin is the worst thing to happen to Russia since Stalin is just fucking silly. The man may be a greedy egomaniac (and likely closet queen) but he has shown an enormous and at times downright shocking amount of restraint when confronted repeatedly by western aggression. My and others recognition of this fact doesn’t make us Putin apologists anymore than the critics of the Second Gulf War were Saddam apologists.