Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV.
Seventy-seven years after dropping the atomic bomb on Japan to end World War II, the American-led West is now dropping its newest weapon of mass destruction on Russia to avert a possible World War III — cancel culture.
Russian president Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine has already left his country facing repercussions. Russian banks were removed from the international financial cooperative SWIFT. The value of the ruble has tanked. Russian-owned and operated airlines are no longer allowed to fly into European or American airspace. Influential oligarchs are stashing their yachts in the Maldives for fear of them being seized. Even famously neutral Switzerland is breaking with tradition to sanction Russian-held assets.
And that’s just from the governing bodies. The pivotal Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline laid off its employees after Germany ended its contract with it. Apple Pay, Visa, Netflix, and the real backbreaker, Pornhub, have cut off their access in Russia. FIFA is banning Russia’s national team from playing its World Cup qualifying matches. A Scottish film fest removed Russian screenplays from their lineup. An Italian university removed Dostoevsky from its campus because he’s a Russian author. Russian-produced vodka has been taken off store shelves. Siberian cats are no longer allowed in pet competitions.
We’ve responded to Putin’s full-scale invasion with a full-scale cancellation of anything and everything Russian. We seem to have adopted his own scorched earth mindset while we’re at it.
I understand what our elites are thinking — they’re trying to kill war morale by making Russians miserable and turning them against their government. They want to inspire an uprising against Putin as if he’s Donald Trump and pit the Russian president against his own Black Lives Matter-esque movement.
At its core, the push to cancel Russia is cultural imperialism disguised as wartime Western chauvinism. The liberal West is betting that the woke values that come packaged with our leisure goods will engender more loyalty than the hard-scrabble nationalism Putin instills by fear. It’s nation-building taking on a new form, one that looks to secure our influence without ever firing a shot.
But we’re overlooking a few things.
For one thing, Putin isn’t Trump because Russia isn’t America. The mainstream media had to lie about Trump tear-gassing protesters for a photo op in June 2020. On the other hand, Putin is having the police openly beat up anti-war protesters, and we only know about it thanks to non-mainstream Russian journalists.
Those protesters may be an oppressed minority according to one survey that found nearly 60% of Russians’ support the “special military operation.” Along with that, most blame the U.S. for instigating the conflict and have developed a more positive view of Putin because of war. Russia operates on completely different rules than us. Which brings me to my next point:
The world doesn’t revolve around the West.
That’s hard for our liberal elites to comprehend, but the respect non-Western nations have for our military and financial might doesn’t mean they respect our moral standards. Cancel culture gets its potency from having to abide by those moral standards, no matter how deluded they are.
Joe Schmos like us are forced to play along with delusions of the gender spectrum, Critical Race Theory, Modern Monetary Theory, atheism, toxic masculinity, and consumerism, because the liberal elites who peddle them hold so much institutional power.
But other countries watch this psychotic episode playing out from afar and decide they want no part in it.
Putin made that very clear at a meeting last fall. He likened gender transitions of young children to a “crime against humanity.” When it came to cancel culture, he said, “the aggressive deletion of whole pages of their own history, reverse discrimination against the majority in the interests of minorities…constitute movement toward public renewal.” He added, “It’s their right, but we are asking them to steer clear of our home. We have a different viewpoint.”
That’s why thinking we’re going to break Putin with our economic atom bomb, and reform him into an ally like Japan post-WWII, shows little understanding of how cancel culture plays out.
If our string-pullers paid more attention when they field-tested cancel culture on their own citizens, then they’d know that you can’t ground someone like they’re a whiny kid and expect them to behave afterward. They’re offended when you ask that they trade their values for material comforts.
People will simply go somewhere else rather where they won’t have to betray who they are — it’s that very sentiment that birthed this website.
It would seem Putin intends to do just that. He’s gotten chummy with China and its strongman leader in Xi Jinping as of late, including stalling his invasion until after the Winter Olympics at Xi’s request. We know Beijing is watching what happens with Russia very closely and is gaming out how any aggression toward Taiwan would be received. Even though that door may be closing (for now), there’s a real chance that an exiled Russia could become a yuan client state for China.
If that were to happen, it wouldn’t be long before other Asian countries got on board with the help of “Resistance” partner Iran and maybe even India to create a real movement that could undermine the influence of the U.S. dollar. International markets could wind up betting on which coalitions are stronger. China and Russia both run trade surpluses. Meanwhile, the U.S.’s trade deficit keeps growing. Our latest superweapon doesn’t look so scary in the long-term, now does it?
I’m thinking out loud here, but the straight-line thesis from our elites that we’ll bleed Russia out and then return to U.S. unipolarity strikes me as naive. We’re already seeing how intertwined Russia is with the global supply of wheat, fertilizer, and of course oil.
The Motherland has some leverage outside of its relationship with the Land of Opportunity. Forecasting scenarios where the U.S. global economic hegemony faces real competition for the first time ever shouldn’t be written off.
Could all of this have been avoided if we didn’t try to cancel an entire country? I can’t say for sure. What I do know is this — the West’s arrogant belief that our lifestyle exports have captured the hearts and minds of the average Russian has upgraded the likelihood of that happening from potential to possible.
As much as the people of Russia like our streaming services and fast food, they still see themselves as a rival to the U.S. Expecting a rival to judge themself according to our values would mean that they’re actually our subordinate.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is an emphatic rejection of that insulting premise, and one that should prepare us for how else he will break from conventional Western wisdom. Hopefully, we won’t let our navel gazing stop us from adjusting our response once it does take place.
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