Page 1 of 4 SPEAKING FREELY Putin stands up to Western decadence
By Friedrich Hansen
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has outwitted Barack Obama twice recently, first on the issue of checking genocidal Bashar al-Assad in Syria and second with sanctioning Iran. Then he followed this up by adding insult to injury in his State of the Nation Address of December 17, when he chastised America's decadence. With the introduction of same-sex marriage, he said,
the West was putting good and evil on the same footing.
Those were strong words that certainly raised some eyebrows not only in the West. Perhaps unexpected was the response by commentator Patrick J Buchanan, who shocked his readers in The American Conservative by asking "Is Putin one of us?" He went on to propose, if only rhetorically, to reverse Ronald Reagan's famous labeling of Soviet Russia as a "focus of an evil in the world", replacing
Russia with the US as a consequence of it equalizing gay and traditional marriage.
Buchanan reasserts Putin's argument that this fundamental change has been mostly engineered "top down" by American courts against the people. By contrast, peoples all over the world, says Putin, are supporting Russia's "defense of traditional values" against a "so-called tolerance" that is "genderless and infertile". 
It seems Putin is the first politician to have spotted the expiry date of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Enlightenment ideas. After all it was Rousseau who in the 18th century laid the groundwork for the Western "holy of holies": unlimited self-expression of the noble sage.
Make no mistake, Putin is not targeting homosexuals, as he made clear with his welcoming them to the Sotchi Olympics. It also seems only fair to remind Western readers that ever since the 1980s, Sotchi has been the center of Russia with a vibrant homosexual subculture. Rather, Putin is addressing the whole gamut of post-modern incarnations of the "sex and drugs" revolution: binge drinking of both genders until the doctors move in, elite illicit drug use, unmanageable crime rates, surging divorce numbers, Hook-Up sex on campus, out of wedlock births, fathers and mothers in puberty, abortion on demand, public nudism and human copulation in parks, gay promiscuity with a good conscience, swinger clubs and darkrooms, ruthless Internet dating and pornography and what have you.
By those scores, the West seems to be in less moral shape than the East today.
With no discernible leadership emanating from the White House recently, who would find fault with people shopping around globally for guidance. As it happens, President Putin has appeared charitable recently with the Pussy Riot releases among other things. In his State of the Nation address, he surprised everyone by taking a stand against the tide of Western decadence, adding a reference to the Russian philosopher Nikolas Berdyaev (1874-1948), whom Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn had hailed for his courage in defying the Bolshevik inquisitors.
We will come back to that remarkable character. Censure and punishment of dissidents, for many decades the exclusive domain of state socialism, has more recently been emulated in the West by the liberal inquisition called political correctness (PC). Assaults on the classical liberties are becoming the new normal in the West, and people start making comparisons with post-communist states such as China and Russia.
With the latest brainchild of Rousseauan theology, enforced gender equality including high-end surgery, it is becoming perfectly clear now: liberalism has reached the end of tolerance and is turning dogmatic. This has been brilliantly nailed down by Edward Alexander with a piece on the closing of the liberal mind telling us that "apparently denial of the collective mind and common experience of most of the human race is now liberal orthodoxy", meaning the blotting out of the memory and common sense of millennia of human history.
Invented alienation and political correctness
Yet liberal intolerance is not really new. It has a history reaching back to the 1970s and Herbert Marcuse's offensive term of "repressive tolerance", the repression being back then the imposition on the liberal mind of tolerance towards opposing views. Well the trick has worked, with PC being established across the board today, which brings us straight to the Frankfurt School.
After the failure of the German November Revolution of 1918 - never to forget that it was turned into a malicious triumph in the "night of broken glass" on November 9 1938 - Marxists started to discuss the matter of Western revolution. The disappointment was such that Marx's dogma about "being determining consciousness" was finally dropped. It was George Lukacs, the Hungarian Marxist, who reversed Marx by declaring culture instead of the economy the prime target of Western revolution. Meanwhile Felix Weil established the "Frankfurt Institute for Social Research" after the example of the Marx-Engels-Institute, founded two years earlier in Moscow's Znamenka quarter. So the irony of Putin's attack is that regarding former communist outreach the chicken is coming home to roost today.
By 1930, with the advent of the new director, Max Horkheimer, in Frankfurt, Lukacs' concept of "cultural Marxism" became the new paradigm of research, focusing on sexual alienation and the dissolution of the bourgeois family, a topic Friedrich Engels had already dealt with. It is worth noticing that the Frankfurt School, with its "Critical Theory", had no positive mission whatsoever but was aiming at bringing down capitalism.
The hideous focus was on attacking the most vulnerable post-war institution: the decimated and mourning Western family. Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer invented the "authoritarian character", a malicious construct that would later set off the anti-authoritarian revolt. To give an example, Horkheimer was such a bigot to argue that even logic as a discipline was not neutral but depended on content, and if logic supported capitalism it had to be destroyed.
The Frankfurt School essentially turned rationalism into the idolatry of political correctness which killed off independent academic enquiry. Nevertheless, the Frankfurt intellectuals were offered a safe haven in liberal New York in 1933 rather than in Moscow. Its members began, pretty much Trojan-style, to switch their hideous attacks toward the American society, as Martin Jay, historian at University of California Berkeley Campus, has shown. His meticulous research on the topic was published under the title Dialectic Imagination.
According to Jay, Adorno and his colleagues believed American society had fascist traits and they were quick to identify "prejudices" with the "authoritarian personality" at its root. Their brazen and one-sided "research" lured the Frankfurt School into denouncing the very same Anglo-American tradition, wed to freedom and self-reliance, that had just saved the European continent from Nazi barbarism and by implication the very lives of the intellectuals.
The principle aim of Adorno and Horkheimer in their philosophical fragments on the "Dialectics of Enlightenment" - their take on the causes of Fascism - was to obscure the close relationship between two totalitarian systems: Stalinism and Hitlerism. Thus they followed Sigmund Freud's lead by reaching back over two millennia into cluttered Greek mythology. In particular, the Frankfurt School managed to include environmentalism - embraced early on by the vegetarian, animalist and bohemian artist Adolf Hitler - into their PC concept under the invective "domination of nature".
Confusing inner and outer nature, Horkheimer transformed individual restraint of instincts into relaxed but ennobling concern for the planet - a civilizational regression from Jewish-Christian monotheism to Greek pantheism. Basically, Adorno answered Hitler on the latter's pagan terms and the anti-authoritarians kept this unashamed, pleasure-seeking attitude until today. It is for this reason that we need to keep an eye on Hellenism, and we will come back to this later.
What strikes me as deja-vu here is that as early as the 1950s it was the Frankfurt School that imposed "sensitivity training" on the American public to correct its alleged authoritarian faults, just as we today have to endure sensitivity training to put up with the transgressions of LGBT culture or, shall we say, cure our homophobia. In the 1960s, when eventually the Frankfurt School relocated back to Germany, Herbert Marcuse emerged as a professor at Brandeis and later St Diego University. There he sort of liquefied the sclerotic socialist dogma, replacing it with the umbrella concept of victimhood, with the proletariat as revolutionary subject diversified into the PC coalition of victims: women, gays, blacks and all sorts of minorities.
Yet sexual liberation was to become the uniting bond and driving force not least for the liberal avant-garde. Adumbrated in Herbert Marcuse's 1955 book Eros and Civilization, this new paradigm has meanwhile wrecked most of Western traditions. Marcuse radicalized Freud to the extent of declaring any restriction of the sexual drive superfluous or misplaced. In this way, Freud - pretty much read against the grain and radicalized - took precedence over Karl Marx, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Another Western cultural virus
Vladimir Putin, being a former KGB hack, is certainly aware of the new totalitarian mix of PC and sexual liberation and seems determined to prevent its globalization, just as the Arab world and others are trying to do. Surely Putin's Russia today does not hold up the rule of law at all times, with dire consequences for dissidents such as Mikhail Khodrokovsky, only recently released from prison.
However, we have now Western dissidents too, such as Edward Snowden, who fled the United States after leaking controversial data from the National Security Agency and turned, after a sojourn in Hong Kong, to Russia for political asylum - unthinkable only a decade ago. Even Western celebrity Gerard Depardieu escaped the nasty regime of Francois Hollande by turning to Moscow, of all places, for relief.
Under these circumstances, Putin's transgressions of human rights need to be weighed against Barack Obama's transgressions. The US president himself recently compared his controversial NSA surveillance arrangements with those of the former East German tyranny. But Obama's most egregious transgression is his use of large numbers of drones for globally executing alleged terrorist without due process, also incurring plenty of civilian casualties - an arrangement well beyond god and evil.
The Western threat of PC tyranny to freedom of speech is just as frightening as the following example shows: "Fox News reported in mid-July that a 27-year veteran of the Utah Air National Guard who objected in a private email to a same-sex ceremony being held in the Cadet Chapel at West Point was treated as if he had incited mutiny. He was officially reprimanded and had his six-year reenlistment contract reduced by five years."
A slightly bizarre example transpires from France: a new French gender law has been introduced that forbids husbands from making derogatory remarks on the dress of their spouses. The backdrop of this seems to be that France is falling behind with adapting to fundamental changes in the female dress code. All over the West, women are by now supposed to wear trousers at home and at work most of the time. But the French, wed to their subtle amorous tradition of les extremes ses touchent (opposites attract each other), naturally resist this neutral dress code.