If you caught any of the Putin interview last night, you were treated first to a 20-minute dissertation on the history of Rus over a period of twelve centuries. Putin asked Tucker if he thought it was boring at one point. It was actually funny to see Tucker’s face as he struggled to see how this history related to the Ukraine war.
Within minutes, Liberal commentators accused Putin of propagandizing with a “revisionist history.”
Well, of course! All historians are revisionists. All politicians and news commentators are propagandists. At one point, Putin pointed out that American media are such masters of propaganda that he could hardly compete. It is most odd for Americans to hear a statesman who is a historian. All should be, but modernism hates history.
In a nutshell, Putin said that there was originally one people, the eastern Slavs, ruled over by the Rurik dynasty that were Scandinavians. But after the 1300s, it got very complicated because the principalities were divided among princes. Then the Mongolian Tatars invaded from the east and south while the Polish-Lithuanian Empire took advantage of this weakness and invaded from the west. Different regions had various levels of autonomy. Some just paid a tribute to their eastern rulers and carried on trading with them.
That is an oversimplification of a complex history of course. But it is accurate.
Even the Lithuanians spoke a language similar to eastern Slavic — which came from Balto-Slavic. Gradually the northern principalities consolidated around Vladimir and then Moscow. They created cities ringed with multiple walls and built those cities into a Golden Ring. In the far flung regions, the Slavs spoke different dialects that came from Old Slavic (or Slavonic). In the southern regions dominated by Byzantium people spoke Greek. Ethnic groups arose on the bordering regions that spoke Turkic dialects from the eastern Tatars.
I wrote an article on this in 1991. It matches Putin’s version. It is called the Providential History of Russia. I didn’t get it from Russian propaganda. I got it out of English language history textbooks. I also made a short video of this article.
What I’ve described above is very similar to the history of all of Europe and most of the civilized world in the Middle Ages.
There was no one German language, no one Spanish language, no one English language, no one Italian language. There were dialects among folk groups. There were no “countries,” but empires, kingdoms and smaller principalities within those regions. Within a civilization some groups spoke foreign languages that influenced the common tongue. In many regions, it was this way up until the 20th century. Then autocratic rulers and public education systems devised programs to standardize the language, spelling and alphabets of national languages. This unified regional kingdoms into modern nation-states.
Up to this point, if you spoke a common dialect you were of that tribe. If you spoke the common national language you were of that nation. But in the Middle Ages, there was no such thing as what we think of as countries or nation-states.
What united Europe throughout history was not language, but Christianity. Roman Catholicism and (later) Reformed Protestantism in the west; and Greek Catholicism and Greek Orthodox Christianity in the east.
Nation-states by the 20th century were based on ideologies, “Whose side are you on? Are you a nationalist, a liberal democrat, or a communist?”
Now in 2024, those ideological distinctions are disappearing worldwide. Now it is, “Who are we as a people?”
Populism is rising. Ideology driven politics is declining. We are back where we started.
Putin outlined a vision in which all who speak an eastern Slavic language are Russians.
They are part of historic Rus and the Russian Orthodox culture. If you want to be something else you can be that. No problem. It has always been that way. But you can’t use nationalism and violent militias to force others within our Russian world to be that way too.
In some ways, in trying to become modern, we’ve become barbarians. In trying to be Liberal, we’ve become more brutal in forcing others to be free like us.
Our leaders say, “Those barbarians, those subhumans hate us because they hate our way of life because we love freedom. They are bad actors, pariah states. They are isolated from humanity. We’ve got to bomb them off the face of the map.”
Literally, they say that.
I liked how Putin stressed how European borders were drawn around countries sometimes by two or three leaders after World Wars. Lands were taken, genocides of peoples in the regions were committed, and political ideologies were enforced. All this was done sometimes in a closed meeting between a Churchill, a Stalin and a Roosevelt — or whichever alliance won a war. This is how maps of Europe were drawn since the 1600s.
Today, people living within a nation-state in Europe still haven’t given up on their national identities because they are based on a thousand years of history.
Now Putin is saying that the world is changing. The power is shifting from the Liberal nations to the rest of the world. Civilizations are aligning according to more organic processes as they were since ancient times. To Putin, Russia is ancient Kievan Rus. That is the root of their culture and civilization.
Some may not agree, but this is the way it was and the way it is going to be. We need to be realists about the situation.
If you speak that language, you are part of that tribe. This is the way it has always been. Putin tells a story about the earlier Donbass conflict, when a militia troop of Russians in Donbass had a Ukrainian militia troop surrounded. The Russians said, “Surrender! You are surrounded!” The other militia troop said, “Never! Russians never surrender!” And they were destroyed by their Russian brothers.
So to speak of a Ukrainian a “nation” — we are speaking of an ethno-linguistic group that has the right to exist and the right to self-determination. Ukraine was never a political nation-state until 1991. They have a right to stay that way as a political union based on an ethnolinguistic group, just as Israel has a right to exist, just as Armenia has a right to exist. And so on. What Ukrainians don’t have a right to do is suppress ethnic minorities, such as Russians and Hungarians, and prohibit them from their right to self-determination.
Any view of the Ukraine conflict of February 2022 onward that does not take into account the civil war in Donbass, and the long history of Kievan Rus since the 800s, is dishonest and hypocritical. The Russian people in this region don’t want to be “liberated” by Ukraine and NATO. They won’t be. As Putin says, “This is impossible.” Western leaders need to accept this reality.
This will become an issue in our own “nation” as secession movements inevitably arise in the future. Is Miami Cuban? Is southern California Mexican. Is Western Canada American?
Is any of that a bad thing?
Is Russian history something that everybody in the West knows, or is this an unknown area? If not, the why do the Liberal legacy media say Putin’s version is “revisionist”? I don’t see any errors in his account. Do they think people won’t fact check the fact checkers?
I thought it was funny in a way because I was explaining this almost exactly in the same way to someone last summer. This person was getting increasingly annoyed. I was telling him about the history of Ukraine and how pieces of other countries were added to it. And also how the Euromaidan resulted in a civil war for eight years, the Minsk agreements, then the treaty signed in Turkey in 2022, and so on. He had never heard of any of that, but had been reading about the war every day in the New York Times.
There are two different views.
One is that Russia is just this aggressive bear that wants to devour other countries for no other reason except it’s run by an evil dictator.
The other view is that it’s actually the United States that is the aggressor all over the world, and wants to use NATO to weaken Russia, not directly through military force, but through sanctions in order to topple the conservative government, then place someone who is more malleable and will allow Russia’s resources to be exploited by western entities such in a way that its economy doesn’t rise. That’s exactly what has happened to Ukraine over the years.
This latter view exposes the criminal behavior of the West, but that’s the view that most people in the world outside the West think is most true. There are two different views. The Western view uses lies of omission.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, I defended the US Middle East wars because I thought that these countries were sponsors of terrorism. But now I even realize that there are two sides to that as well.
Most of the Middle East wars had to do with the petrodollar and keeping Saudi Arabia as the one country that produces the most oil and holds a large portion of the US dollar world currency reserve.
I explain to people how the petrodollar actually works and most people are completely unaware of this. I knew bits and pieces of it before, but I was not really able to connect all the dots until the last couple of years.
Putin understands completely how the US and western economy works, and why it’s failing.
The best books to read on this are Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order by Ray Dalio. Then The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order? by Samuel P Huntington. And of course, The Fourth Political Theory by Aleksandr Dugin.
These authors coming from different perspectives, economic, sociological, and philosophical, but each one of them understands that the world is changing. And they just take a realist approach. They’re interested in understanding why these conflicts are occurring, not just condemning the other side.
Putin holds exactly the same view. He says that this is something that is occurring worldwide. The global order is shifting away from modernist nation-states toward a multipolar world order of civilization states. It has never been possible for one nation to dominate the entire globe. They may do that in their sphere, but no culture can force others to be exactly like them. Therefore, the world will always be multipolar. Balance is a force of nature. It’s inevitable. And we couldn’t stop it if we tried. In fact, the more we try the worse we make it for ourselves.