Posted by Peter Lawler
...against the stale, discredited charges of a TLS reviewer.
It is perhaps tiresome to defend, as Dan does, the truly great from the myriads of petty cynics, and often ones given the prime journalistic real estate, but that is what constitutes a good deal of responsible intellectual endeavor these days.
Also useful in Dan’s piece is the brief window it gives into the fact that the however bad Putin’s govt seems to have become, the simplistically ballyhooed 90s period of so-called Russian "economic liberalization" under Yeltsin were in fact an utter disaster for the Russians. For cold documentation of this fact, one may consult Allen Lynch’s How Russia is Not Ruled . Lynch is a prof at UVA, I’ve audited a class from him, and I’ll just say the following. While I fear, given the London assasination scandal and, particularly, Putin’s bizarre Munich speech, that Putin’s days of appearing the order-bringing, populist, "strong-man we can live with" are completely over, and indeed that his govt. is falling irrevocably into criminal hands, what Lynch was able to consistently demonstrate was that however bad Putin was, the only real alternatives were much worse governments (and much, much worse anarchies). We shall see what the coming election season brings...but the clouds are indeed gathering in Russia, and what makes them particularly dark is that they will probably not be dispelled by the sort of "Orange Revolution" that many a Western conservative, moderate, and liberal hope will occur there.
To clarify my last sentence, what I mean is that even if a gung-ho-for-democracy "Color-Revolutionist" guy were elected president there, he probably COULD NOT RULE Russia, given its present maladies. That is the cold reality that we don’t like to acknowledge in the West, which folks like Solzhenitsyn have to deal with, and yes, which seems to be leading the Russians to tolerate the misdeeds of Putin and his KGB brood far more than they should.
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