To the “Leftists” who Think Putin is their Comrade

Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it was painfully apparent within certain circles of the West that there was a thorough lack of even a rudimentary education on what the Russian government is today. Some erstwhile leftists have even been seen praising the despotic leader in a fashion that would make even Putin cringe. So let’s make a few facts clear.

Putin is the de facto head of United Russia, a reactionary, rightwing political party that dominates the executive branch and the Duma (legislative). He, and he alone, has essentially what amounts to dictatorial powers. His party is not even remotely left, progressive or socialist in the least. And he has thrived on stoking racist nationalism.

What is interesting to note is that despite UR being the dominant political party, communists have been gaining more sympathy in recent years and there is a marked longing for the days of the USSR where at least in its hay day most Russians had reliable work, good educational opportunities, housing, paid holidays and a decent living standard. Today, the poverty rate has been rising steadily while population declines, leaving a lot of elderly Russians in a bad state. And, like the United States, powerful and wealthy oligarchs run the economy to the benefit of their coffers.

So it is laughable that there are some people who identify as left who cannot stop themselves from praising Putin as an “anti-imperialist” and thinking he is their comrade. Putin, himself, would laugh at such idiocy.

Kenn Orphan, February 2022

*Photograph by Sean Gallup / Getty

5 thoughts on “To the “Leftists” who Think Putin is their Comrade

  1. kollibriterre

    You know, I just have to say something about this. While you’re “cringing” and finding people “laughable,” I’ve got to point out that this stuff isn’t so obvious and simple to everybody. Some of the folks who need education don’t even know they need it. I myself have been in that position plenty of times.

    I’ve been antiwar for as long as I can remember. When a military recruiter called me when I was in high school, I had the moral clarity and the fortitude to give him a solid no, and told him to never call back. I wanted to put off registering for the draft until I at least got a warning letter or something, but my dad forced me to do it on my 18th birthday and I’ve never really forgiven him for that. I had this stance without any real political education; I just intuitively *knew* that I was “a lover not a fighter.”

    I did my part during the anti-war protests in the early 2000s as a street journalist, getting up close to the action with a camera, to amplify the message of the movement (and document police brutality) on the Indymedia network, for which I was an organizer. In those days, I spent nearly every waking moment working for the cause. (Eventually, I switched to farming, as I knew that we need to build our own structures of community resilience to replace the capitalist system as it collapses.)

    Even so, not every geopolitical situation has been immediately crystal clear to me. As you know, there are many different voices who oppose imperialism and war, but not all in the same way, but they’ve all rung true for me at one time or another, even though they’re contradictory. Some situations, like Syria, I’ve never been able to understand, and that’s why I won’t write or post about it. The two times I tried, I got smacked down, and for contradictory reasons. So I just keep my mouth shut on that one.

    I’ve never thought that Putin was my “comrade,” but I haven’t been very knowledgeable about him or his politics. For example, I’ve never agreed or disagreed with the statement, “Putin is an autocrat” because I haven’t known enough either way. The fact that the US media and political establishment want to paint him that way did make a particular impression on me, though, I will admit. But I knew I didn’t know enough so I kept my mouth shut.

    Anyway, Brian Becker on the Empire Files podcast today did a really good job of explaining a bunch of details about Ukraine and Russia, etc., and now I understand the situation better. He said a lot of things I had never heard before, but this one was the most helpful (and I’m paraphrasing):

    “It’s understandable that activists who oppose US imperialism might instinctively side with anybody who opposes them. But here’s why that doesn’t work…”

    He said it in a gentle voice. He wasn’t snarky or judgey. He wasn’t calling anybody a name. And I was like, “Oh my god, I didn’t know it, but I’ve really needed to hear exactly that!” And my ears and mind were wide open to listen.

    “It’s understandable” to make be mistaken about something. Yes, it is! Thank you very much, Brian! I’m not even a socialist, but I really value him because he’s got an approach like this.

    So yes, I’ve been confused and conflicted about issues, but didn’t always know how or why. Sometimes I’ve written or said things anyway, and they’ve been wrong. I’m sure I’ve made people cringe or laugh.

    We are living in what I think should be called “The Age of Bernays.” It’s an era of propaganda. It’s super easy to be misinformed or disinformed, and a challenge to be well-informed. And this particular topic — the nature of Russia’s politics and who Putin really is — well, there’s a LOT of misinformation and disinformation out there about that. I mean, the percentage of the US population who’s got it right is probably in the single digits, isn’t it? I wasn’t getting it right, and I really needed to be walked through the whole thing like Brian did.

    I know you’re a compassionate person who doesn’t want to disrespect anybody, and I’m not accusing you of doing so. But I needed to comment on this one.

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    1. Kenn Orphan Post author

      I respect your point of view, but when it comes to war, I am solid in my condemnation of it and anyone who blindly supports it. And sometimes that means offending some people, especially if I think they are peddling degenerate political ideologies while flesh and blood human beings are being incinerated. I witnessed that kind of degeneracy, largely on the moribund American left, when it came to the Syrian war. I cannot count how many times I saw people posting things to disparage any Syrian opposition to Assad saying, as people like Ben Norton, Max Blumenthal, Caitlin Johnstone or Eva Bartlett said, that they were all “terrorists” and that Russia was helping Syria by carpet bombing hospitals. I vowed after witnessing such degeneracy in politics never to equivocate on such things, and I won’t start now.

      I don’t condemn people for finding their way through the mud of today’s geopolitical realities and propaganda, or for innocent ignorance on any subject. Those are NOT the people who I think are cringeworthy. But I definitely find continued, blind and willful support of war, despotic leaders or war mongering states cringeworthy. And I have seen a lot of this on the so-called left.

      What’s astonishing to me is that when anyone dare oppose most of the people who defend Russia, they will come back on you with a viciousness I seldom see on any other issue. I have had to delete and block many comments because they were full of bile, ridicule and contempt.

      Thank you for saying I am a compassionate person. I think you are too, and one who believes in solidarity. And I appreciate your viewpoint. I’m also glad Brian Becker made the points he did. But I stand by mine as well. There are people out there who are genuinely confused, but there is also the belligerent and completely unreachable Russian cheerleading “left.” The ones who continually claim they know what the hell they are talking about and do tremendous damage to antiwar movements by spouting their rubbish to their millions of followers. This has been going on for years and many of them have made a nice profit off of it. It is they who I find cringeworthy and it is time for people to stand up to that, and that is what I am doing here.

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      1. Kollibri terre Sonnenblume

        “I don’t condemn people for finding their way through the mud of today’s geopolitical realities and propaganda, or for innocent ignorance on any subject. Those are NOT the people who I think are cringeworthy.” — This is what was not at all clear to me, so I am glad to hear you say it, because that’s how I was taking it, as someone who is often ignorant and muddling.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Kenn Orphan Post author

        We are all, myself especially, ignorant at times. That isn’t a crime of any kind. But I would never think of you as muddling. And I must say that I would never want to come across as arrogant to those genuinely seeking the truth. But war is something that makes emotions run high. I am not immune to that. So I am trying to choose my words more cautiously in the last couple of days. Because the last thing I would want to do is alienate people from exploring and joining in the antiwar, anti-NATO, anti-imperialism, anti-Russian invasion cause simply because of a poor choice of terms on my part.

        Thank you for your response to my piece. I always appreciate your thoughtful and respectful approach. I will try to better with my approach.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. kollibriterre

        “I don’t condemn people for finding their way through the mud of today’s geopolitical realities and propaganda, or for innocent ignorance on any subject. Those are NOT the people who I think are cringeworthy.” — This is what was not at all clear to me, so I am glad to hear you say it, because that’s how I was taking it, as someone who is often ignorant and muddling.

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