Putin Demands Equity: It's Like The 1619 Project With A Strongman
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From Marginal Revolution:

Putin as a man of ideas

by Tyler Cowen February 25, 2022 at 12:25 am in Current Affairs History Political Science

Commentators are drawing lessons from the conflict in Ukraine, but they are missing one key point. Above all, the Russian attack and possible dismemberment of Ukraine reflects the power of ideas.

Read the English translation of the Putin speech to justify Russian’s actions in Ukraine. It is striking how much Putin cites history, going as far back as the 17th century, to justify the Russian incursion.

One of Putin’s core views is that Ukraine is not a legitimate country in its own right. He is clear about this claim and its import: “So, I will start with the fact that modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia or, to be more precise, by Bolshevik, Communist Russia.” Putin himself published a July 2021 essay “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,” which goes further back yet and discusses Ancient Rus.

Putin’s speech immerses the audience in detail, citing the history of Stalin, Khruschev, the 1917 October Revolution, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and what Stalin did in 1922 with respect to the People’s Commissar of Ethnic Affairs. The need for the earlier Soviet Union to offer concessions to the nationalists is portrayed as one reason why Ukraine was allowed to have some of its identity as Ukraine. Here is a typical passage: “Soviet Ukraine is the result of the Bolsheviks’ policy and can be rightfully called “Vladimir Lenin’s Ukraine.” He was its creator and architect. This is fully and comprehensively corroborated by archival documents, including Lenin’s harsh instructions regarding Donbass, which was actually shoved into Ukraine.”

By the time you get to the end of Putin’s speech he is still talking about history, and reciting how Ukraine squandered the wonderful inheritance left to them by the Soviet Union. Furthermore, that same Ukraine has become a tool of Western attempts to disrupt Russia.

Putin is full of ideas about history. You can argue how much these remarks reflect Putin’s own concern with ideas, or the Russian public’s concern or that of foreign audiences, but it is probably all of those. Furthermore, Putin has embraced a coterie of Russian intellectuals, marketing what is sometimes called Eurasianism, who parrot and develop the notion of Russia as a power-deserving Eurasian civilization.

If you think the current version of Ukraine was never a valid nation to begin with, a twisted set of mental contortions might bring you around to Russian expansionism. Russia is just taking back what is rightfully theirs, and by the end of this speech Putin is concluding that: “the possible continuation of the bloodshed will lie entirely on the conscience of Ukraine’s ruling regime.”

Vladimir Putin reminds me of antiquarian BLM theorists like Ibram X. Kendi, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and Ta-Nehisi Coates explaining why, in effect, Gen X and Millennial white people don’t deserve to inherit their Baby Boomer parents’ homes and stocks when the old geezers kick off: EQUITY demands that Ibram and Nikole and Ta-Nehisi get their mitts on the equity of the white Boomers rather than their legal heirs.

We have a system of international property law that’s analogous to domestic property law. Sure, Ukraine is not much of a country, but it qualifies as a country, so expropriating part or all of it is a crime.

[Comment at Unz.com]

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