Something the alt-right expends a decent amount of text on is the Russian Federation, the successor state to the USSR (and the Russian Empire) that has been run for the last 20 years or so by Vladimir Putin. Putin himself has also been the subject of many articles, as he is an unquestionably adept statesman who has made himself synonymous with Russia for most people. He has been characterized as a strongman dictator, Russian nationalist, illiberal, irredentist, friend of the European far-right, Soviet revanchist, savior, corrupt politician, cunning geopolitical strategist, etc. In short, there’s no shortage of opinions on him and it’s no surprise that people who like metapolitics find him interesting. Putinist Russia has been a matter of debate and discussion across our network, from the most recent Daily Shoah, to Radix, Alternative-Right, and Counter Currents. TRS’s own Cledun has written on it, and I’ve even briefly touched on it here. Our interest in and willingness to wrangle over Russia is all the more interesting given how peripheral it is to other issues facing the alt-right, but for many of us it is intellectually engaging and of some civilizational-conceptual importance. People like talking and speculating about it.
What I’ve taken to calling the alt-right’s Russian Question, like so many capitalized Questions before it, can be a challenge to fully present and even more challenging to answer, and I acknowledge I am no expert. But in the context of the alt-right I feel I can weigh in to some capacity. Broadly speaking, the RQ is:
What does Russia mean for the European-derived peoples of the West?
This of course leads to asking, “What do you mean, ‘what does it mean?’ That’s not very helpful at all.” It means whatever we want it to mean, really. How does Russia affect us, if it does affect us? The RQ depends entirely on the context. Here are some sub-questions to get you started, in no firmly particular order:
- Is Russia an enemy, ally or neither?
- Is Russian society better than Western? Less degenerate? Muh orthodoxy?
- Should Russian nationalism be a model for White nationalism?
- Is Russia a nation-state like [the former] France, Germany, etc.?
- Is Russia part of Western civilization?
- Should Western leaders be more like Putin?
- Are Russia’s foreign policies in line with the kind we’d like for ourselves?
- Is Ukraine part of Europe or Russia?
I don’t aim to answer all of these, but I would like to provide my own take on the RQ. [I also highly encourage the TRS commentariat to have at it below until we reach a certain number of replies]. This is a working concept after all, and one that there are undoubtedly a variety of opinions on.
A not-so-rare Putin.
I think the most important realization one can make in examining Putinist Russia is that it is a state which places its own interests before those of “the international community.” And that is really something every non-Swedish country ought to do. The only states which exist for the sake of non-citizens and foreign interests are clients and vassals. For example, the international community—a biased term in favor of a group of powerful and liberal countries—would like to add Ukraine and Georgia to the European Union—the Warsaw Pact members and the Baltic SSRs have all already been absorbed. This would isolate Russia and contract her sphere of influence, and so Moscow is naturally opposed. Russia has Belarus in her orbit and has made sure Ukraine cannot join the EU due to the ongoing conflict. Georgia also has a frozen conflict with Abkhaz and South Ossetian separatists. Armenia would be a landlocked exclave if it joined. The EU also considers Azerbaijan to be in Europe despite being Asian and Muslim (like Turkey) but we already knew the EU was anti-white. Which, of course, makes Russian antagonism towards the EU all the more appealing to our sympathies.
The ever diminishing Russian sphere of influence.
The international community is also anti-war and generally doesn’t believe in using military force to achieve political objectives, unless it’s anointed by the UN, crippled by red tape, and generally ineffective. But on this issue, Russia is a lot like the United States in that it does not care. Where we diverge is what we use military force for: Russia uses it in her own neighborhood and most recently to secure the annexation of Russian-majority Crimea to the Russian Federation; the United States bombs Muslim countries to export freedom. (Someone has to bite this bait). I find the former to be much more beneficial and less wasteful than the latter. Russia has Crimea and we have chaos in Iraq and Syria, which we’re actually trying to make worse.
The Russian Federation is also a state in which ethnic Russians are only one component, albeit the largest and one whose language totally dominates, a direct legacy of the larger Russian Empire and Soviet Union. I think this is where our biggest contradictions begin to creep in: many on the alt-right would like a state that strongly favors its own interests over others but also one that puts the nation first and maintains an ethnic or racial majority. That is precisely where the admiration of the Russian Federation starts fraying. Russia is not a Russian nation-state or ethnostate but a multi-ethnic empire, even if it has a leader we might prefer to our own. As a multi-ethnic empire, it’s not a White nationalist country either. And although it seems odd to write this, Russia is at least pro-Russian in a way that the United States is not pro-Anglo American. There’s definitely room for us to take inspiration here.
According to the 2010 census, people who identified their ethnicity as Russian made up 81% of the population. This is technically up from the days of the Soviet Union, when Russia included millions more Muslims in Central Asia, but also millions of Ukrainians, Belorussians, and Baltic peoples. So overall the ethnic Russian population saw a net increase proportionately, even with the loss of territory. This was partially fueled by Russian emigration out of the former SSRs to the Russian Federation. The annexation of Crimea also added about 2.3M people, overwhelmingly Russian. These are essentially pro-white and nationalist policies that would be worth adoption: 1.) encouraging immigration from your kin, and 2.) expanding control over territory populated by your people. But it should also be noted that due to centuries of assimilating non-Russians, a sizable amount of those who identify as Russian have recent or fairly recent non-Russian ancestry, which probably increases the further one moves from Moscow or Saint Petersburg.
So that looks good on paper; Russia has a Russian majority comprising 4/5th of the population. Unfortunately for the Russophile alt-rightists, there are caveats. Russian demographics are pretty dismal:
- The median age of ethnic Russians is 37.6; women are higher at 40.5.
- Male life expectancy is 65.3 years.
- The fertility rate is 1.75, below the 2.1 replacement rate.
- For nearly 15 years after the collapse of the USSR birth rates fell while death rates rose, with deaths outnumbering births since 1992. Even if rates stabilize the effects will be felt for the rest of the century because of all the women who were never born (and therefore bottle-necked the population of women of childbearing age going forward).
- Russia has the highest abortion rate of any reported country according to the UN.
- Population growth has relied on immigration from the former SSRs; unsustainable given that the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
- Muslims or Muslim-majority groups make up between 6-14% of the population. Estimates are difficult because of self-identification and the census not collecting religious data. Assuming 10%, that’s ~14.6M Muslims. Muslim groups have lower median ages and higher fertility rates than ethnic Russians. Sound familiar?
Oh those Russians.
So Russia has a dying Russian majority and a fertile Muslim minority. I don’t think we’ll see Russia become a Muslim majority country any time soon in the way that the United States faces the threat of becoming majority non-white, but given the per capita problems of Muslim populations and the religion’s incompatibility with pretty much all non-Muslim states and societies, an increase is bad for Russia and makes Russian society a very flawed model for the alt-right, White nationalists, European nationalists, traditionalists, etc. Although, with the exception of Chechens and Dagestanis, as far as I know, Muslims in Russia tend to be more tame than those outside of it, probably from centuries of reverse dhimmitude and the USSR’s heavy dosage of atheism.
Another topic sometimes discussed is whether or not Russia is part of Europe or the West, the implications of which would have some impact, I guess, on the internationalism of White nationalism. Russia, though much of her population is White Europeans, is not quite part of our contemporary Western civilization, both historically and currently. Its history includes Orthodox Christianity, Mongol rule, serfdom into the 19th century, single-party communist government and now something of a minor kleptocracy with levels of institutional corruption and cynicism unmatched in Europe and Anglo-America (and Anglo-Oceania). These aren’t exactly the building blocks of Western civilization. And generally, Russia doesn’t conceive of herself as a Western power anyway, just ask Dugin.
Russia is also pursuing what is either a neo-imperial project or an EU-clone depending on your take, the Eurasian Economic Union, which in the long term seeks to reintegrate the former SSRs into Moscow’s political, economic and presumably linguistic sphere. So for those of you thinking Russia was a purely a Russian nationalist power after all the saber waving in Ukraine and Crimea, it’s a little more complicated. Planning to have an EU-style arrangement with what will be mostly Central Asian countries is not conductive to Russian nationalism in the same way that attempting to integrate Belarus, invading Ukraine or threatening the Baltic countries is, since it will reduce the percentage of Russians/East Slavs within the resultant political entity or state.
“Shut it down” — Hillary Clinton
On the other hand, this is largely in line with the way Russia has always behaved, expansion. Russian nationalism is incidental—because of the dominant Russian population—more than anything else; imperialism is the actual force of Russia’s history and development. This sets her apart from other nations like England, Germany and France, hemmed into their European borders and with few minority populations, which were largely along their peripheries (or lived in colonial dependencies which weren’t formally integrated with the European state). Russia is a trunk running across Eastern Europe and Northern Asia with dozens of native ethno-linguistic groups. The Western and Russian outcomes are the result of nations whose nominal states developed along different routes and under different forces. To this day the Russian language differentiates between ethnic Russians and citizens of Russia, russkiye and rossiyane respectively. Westerners typically call both Russians; I once had a very mind-numbing debate with someone about whether or not the Boston bombers were Russian.
As for other aspects of the RQ, the alt-right needs to remember that there are bigger things to worry about than Russia. There really shouldn’t be any deep ideological fissures made over Putin. We have to contend with displacement-level immigration, cultural marxism, iconoclasm, the JQ and other internal issues. While we might see some of that playing out in Russia, and perhaps feel an affinity for the Russians, their situation is not ours, and vice versa. Russia is ultimately the Russians’ problem and Russia being nationalistic, geopolitically self-interested or imperialistic will not save us.