Several months after announcing his divorce, Vladimir Putin turns to the subject of family values:
Another serious challenge to Russia’s identity is linked to events taking place in the world. Here there are both foreign policy and moral aspects. We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilisation. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan.
The excesses of political correctness have reached the point where people are seriously talking about registering political parties whose aim is to promote paedophilia. People in many European countries are embarrassed or afraid to talk about their religious affiliations. Holidays are abolished or even called something different; their essence is hidden away, as is their moral foundation. And people are aggressively trying to export this model all over the world. I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis.
Putin was speaking at Valdai International Discussion Club; according to a blurb, the club “was established in 2004 by the Russian News & Information Agency RIA Novosti and the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy. It has become an important cooperation venue for the Russian and foreign intellectual and political elite.”
Putin’s reference to paedophilia appears to relate to the legal status of a Dutch group called Stichting Martijn. According to Dutch News in April:
Last year, a civil court in Assen banned the paedophile lobby group Stichting Martijn with immediate effect, saying what the foundation does and says about sexual contact between adults and children contravenes the accepted norms and values in Dutch society.
The appeal court said texts and photos on the foundation’s website do not break the law.
The group has existed since 1982, and reportedly has about 60 members; an associated political party (the “the Charity, Freedom and Diversity Party”) was registered in 2006 and dissolved in 2010. Of course, Putin’s extrapolation from this case to the general outlook of “Euro-Atlantic countries” is absurd and in bad faith, but it’s part of an old Russian tradition of justifiying authortarianism in moral terms by invoking the decadence of the west. Putin may also have been inspired by an anti-gay group called “Russian Mothers”, which claims that paeodophilia is promoted in Norway; I wrote about this here.
Putin also discussed the place of organised religion in Russia:
Russia – as philosopher Konstantin Leontyev vividly put it – has always evolved in “blossoming complexity” as a state-civilisation, reinforced by the Russian people, Russian language, Russian culture, Russian Orthodox Church and the country’s other traditional religions. It is precisely the state-civilisation model that has shaped our state polity. It has always sought to flexibly accommodate the ethnic and religious specificity of particular territories, ensuring diversity in unity.
Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and other religions are an integral part of Russia’s identity, its historical heritage and the present-day lives of its citizens.
Leontyev, according to an account by George L. Kline (1), has been described as “the Russian Nietzsche”:
Leontyev was a Russian thinker who, almost two decades before Nietzsche, offered a “Nietzschean” celebration of “the aesthetic” and an equally Nietzschaen critiqie of democratic and egalitatian values, “mass culture”, and ultilitarian and socialist ideas.”
However, unlike Nietzche, he was a Christian, and he called
for a struggle to the death against the “anti-Christ of democracy”
Shades here of the kind of thing that reportedly appears in Patriarch’s Kirill’s book Freedom and Responsibility.
(1) page 197 of Nineteenth-Century Religious Thought in the West, edited by Ninian Smart, John Clayton, Patrick Sherry, Steven T. Katz, Cambridge University Press, 1985. And there’s a profile of Kline – formerly Milton C. Nahm Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Bryn Mawr College – here.
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