By Riley Waggaman
The Western world is spiraling into social, cultural, political, and spiritual bankruptcy. Naturally, disaffected Westerners abandoned by their own deranged and out-of-touch governments are looking elsewhere for a country that still defends traditional values and protects its sovereignty from the long tentacles of globalism.
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For many, this country is Russia—and not without good reason. The callous information war (which has now morphed into a real war in Ukraine) against Moscow creates the appearance that the Russian Federation is under siege because it is the only nation standing in the way of globalist machinations that are terrorizing the world.
Unfortunately, the extreme, polarizing views that Westerners are spoon-fed about Russia leave little room for nuance, and there is rarely any depth to English-language commentary about the Russian government’s policies or Russia’s current trajectory as a civilization. Having lived in Russia for nearly a decade, I would like to offer a brief outline of what I see as the arguments for and against the notion that Westerners should consider Moscow an ally, or at least a beacon of hope, during these profoundly troubling times.
BULWARK AGAINST DEPRAVITY?
Russians are by and large socially conservative, and the lives they lead are generally far more grounded and traditional than what you will find in large swathes of the West. There are Russian laws against LGBTQ+ propaganda (publicly marketing homosexuality to minors), and the State Duma recently passed legislation banning gender reassignment surgery. In 2012, a Moscow court imposed a 100-year ban on gay pride parades in the city.
There is also very low tolerance for any kind of NGO/Soros-funded “activism” in Russia—the prosecution of a female punk band after their desecration of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in 2012 being a good example of this no-nonsense attitude. It’s worth pointing out that Russia takes its foreign agent laws quite seriously and has either banned or placed severe restrictions on organizations that seek to promote “Western values” in the country.
In fact, it would be safe to say that much of the “woke” culture currently tormenting the West—especially in schools, universities, and in the workplace—is non-existent in Russia.
The government promotes Orthodox Christianity through various initiatives, and the Russian Orthodox Church has a very close relationship with the Kremlin. This has been both a blessing and a curse. For example, during “the pandemic,” the Church implemented a number of highly unpopular policies, including limiting services and requiring parishioners to wear masks, although this rule was rarely enforced outside of large cities.
Russia has many popular Christian television channels, including Spas, as well as news outlets that defend Christian values. Tsargrad, for example, is the largest “mainstream” pro-Christian media outlet, but there are several others. Over the past decade or so, there has been a true Christian resurgence in Russia. In 2019, Patriarch Kirill revealed that 30,000 churches had been built in the last 10 years.
Homeschooling is legal in Russia, and there is still a tradition of self-sufficiency—perhaps best manifested by the dacha vegetable garden, which nearly every Russian (or their grandmother) has.
On the international stage, Moscow continues to strengthen economic and political ties with a growing list of countries that are fed up with Washington’s dictates. The BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa] alliance has even signaled that it could deploy its own currency—a direct challenge to U.S. dollar hegemony—and it will be interesting to see how these moves play out.
But what makes Russia truly special is its rich cultural and spiritual tradition. There is arguably no other country on Earth that has so much untapped potential. Like the United States, it is a vast country of almost unlimited possibilities—largely without the social degradation promoted by Washington and its vassals.
RUSSIA AND GLOBALISM
Here is where things get a bit murky. While two-thirds of Russian citizens identify as Orthodox Christians, surveys show only 4-8% actually practice their religion in a serious way. (Like in the United States, there are small, tight-knit communities of devout Christians in Russia.) Although it is painful to admit, Western materialism has seeped into Russian society, and many young Russians seem more focused on acquiring an iPhone than starting a family. Hardly unique to Russia, of course.
In recent years, the divorce rate in Russia has fluctuated between 65-70%. This alarming figure ties into a larger problem facing the country: Russia is suffering from a catastrophic demographic crisis, and government policies designed to counteract the decline in the birth rate have been basically ineffectual.
In 2021, Russia’s natural population decline (when the number of deaths exceeds the number of births) was a staggering 1.04 million people—a figure worse than the darkest days of the 1990s. In 2022, this number decreased to 600,000, but experts have warned that the annual decline in the population could creep back up to 1 million without drastic measures. In July 2022, the birth rate fell to a level that hasn’t been seen since 1943.
This brings us to the Russian government’s approach to “public health,” which unfortunately was not significantly different from the WHO-endorsed policies imposed on the West throughout the Covid-19 “pandemic.” Russia adopted compulsory vaccination decrees (which deprived people of employment if they didn’t have a vax certificate), and every region of Russia implemented some form of digital “health certificate” required to enter businesses—policies that were fully endorsed by the federal government.
While the government has dropped all Covid restrictions, the so-called pandemic accelerated Russia’s “digitalization.” The Bank of Russia’s central bank digital currency (CBDC), the digital ruble, officially became a “third form” of currency in July, and a pilot program to test this centralized, programmable digital token is already underway. Like all CBDCs, the digital ruble opens the door to the end of financial privacy, and total control over all aspects of life in Russia.
The Russian government also recently created a Unified Biometric System (UBS), a centralized database for all biometric data. Shockingly, UBS is not fully controlled by the government, and is operated by a for-profit joint-stock company that will capitalize on (and monopolize) the country’s complete transition to biometric identification.
Many of these worrying initiatives—including the development of Sputnik V, which is a genetic clone of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine—have been spearheaded by Sber, Russia’s largest bank. Sber CEO Herman Gref is a former member of the World Economic Forum’s Board of Trustees and wrote the preface to the Russian-language edition of Klaus Schwab’s The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Russia also struggles with many of the same problems we see in the West: a liberal elite who enjoy considerable influence over the media and the government, growing issues with immigrants (in Russia’s case, from Central Asia), and an economic system that has led to appalling wealth inequality. And while Russians are not exposed to the same brand of “wokeism” in the West, political correctness is alive and well—and the right to freedom of speech is more of a “privilege” that can be stripped away arbitrarily. Again, one can see many parallels with the West.
And, with regret I must report that Moscow continues to pledge its support for the World Health Organization, the UN (and its “Sustainable Development Goals”), the World Trade Organization, the IMF, and other globalist projects.
Those who feel solidarity with Russia should recognize that Russians are battling many of the same forces that Westerners are resisting in their own homelands. Russia has much to offer the world, and it has shown admirable defiance against some of the worst excesses of Western degeneracy. But we must remember that the governments of the world aren’t so different when it comes to the fundamentals: the desire for total control over their populations.
Perhaps it’s time for Americans, Europeans, and Russians to support one another in the fight against the global “New Normal.”
Riley Waggaman is an independent journalist and blogger who previously worked as an editor for “Russia Today” and “PressTV.” He currently maintains a popular Substack page under the alias Edward Slavsquat.