Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

An Open Letter to Unca’ Vlad

Posted by Gerald on July 24, 2007

Vladimir Putin – a man whose view of the world is so refreshingly different from anyone else’s that he ought to consider psychiatric help – has characterized Britain’s attitude toward Russia in the recent row over the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi (for murder) as a remnant of a colonial mindset.

First, Vlad, you don’t get to slam someone for having a colonial mindset unless you used to be colonized yourself – it is just bad form.*  Nigeria can say that to Britain during a Commonwealth meeting, but you don’t get to.  Lets remember that Russia was an empire while Britain took colonies everywhere and that the Soviet Union was a superpower while it lost them.  You are also constantly talking about the great power of Russia today.  You do not get to use the rhetoric of a third world state – you haven’t earned it.

Second, the British might have had an empire fifty years ago but you are acting like you’ve got one now.  Cyber attacks on Estonia, blatant interference in the elections of former Soviet Republics, Chechnya, all of this is called… what is the word?  Oh, yeah – imperialism!  While playing dick-swinging imperialist games to such an extent that you are scaring the Poles and Czechs into allowing Dubya to build his missile boondoggle on their soil you do not get to chide Britain for putting some pressure on you to cough up a murder suspect.  After all in Britain – unlike in your country or mine – Lugovoi isn’t in danger of being disappeared or executed by the state. 

 This is just a case of the imperialist calling the kettle colonial.

Where the hell is Edward Said when I need him?

*By the way, we here in the US don’t get to do that either.  Our episode of being a colonized people is a) way too caught up in our being colonial oppressors at the same time, b) beyond the statute of limitations for such complaints, and c) rendered ridiculous by our actions towards, oh the list is too long, since then.  It would be like when white people complain about being victims of racism and when men complain about being victims of gender oppression.  It is kind of whiny and pathetic given the historical context.

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3 Responses to “An Open Letter to Unca’ Vlad”

  1. nm said

    Eh, you’re missing his reference. Lenin’s book on imperialism posits Russia (the empire) as a colony of Britain, France, and Germany. And, if one considers the Egypt of that period a colony, there’s a case to be made for considering Russia that way as well. You had all industrial investment in the country owned and controlled from (and sending the profits back out to) abroad; an economically weak and politically disenfranchised middle class (which is why all investment was foreign). Yes, the emperor/king was a local. But he didn’t have all that much say.

  2. nm said

    I hit send too soon:

    So what Putin is doing is combining tsarist territorial expansion while foreigners take over and the economy is tanking with Leninist victimology. Thus uniting two otherwise opposed groups of potential supporters.

  3. Gerald said

    You are right, I didn’t get the reference at all (actually, I’ve only read excerpts from Lenin’s book). Thanks, that really puts this into a different perspective. I still see this as BS, but it is very politically astute BS. This is all very in line with Putin’s rhetoric in recent years where he blames the west for all of Russia’s economic and social problems and uses that to justify increasing authoritarianism and state control of the economy.

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