Today at the hearings in the Federation Council on the situation regarding the blocking of Russia Today and Sputnik’s advertising accounts on Twitter, I kept catching myself, thinking that I had been transported back in time to my own past.
At issue were the attempts by U.S. authorities to force various social networks to limit the activity of the Russian television network.
The impudence with which the Americans operate, and at the same time the disregard they demonstrate for both international law and their own law, truly boggle the mind.
The U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from interfering in the activity of the media and from limiting the people’s right to information. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims the right of everyone to receive and disseminate information.* And this right belongs to the category of fundamental rights — that is, mandatory and unalienable rights.
Meanwhile, for me, as someone who spent time working with these guys side by side for more than 20 years, their brazen attitude is absolutely unsurprising.
It’s not very pleasant to have dealings with the Americans at all. Because even when solving some purely mundane problem, they manage, without even realizing it, to demonstrate an unshakable faith that they have the right to expect the very best, to take what they want, and to elbow their way to their cherished goal.
Showing through at the level of ordinary consciousness, this feeling of superiority seems inexplicable. But if one seeks out its ontological basis, it becomes clear that the entire matter lies in a collective sense of belonging to a great cause, to the great mission of the American people. They are a people who, having achieved unheard-of success in creating their own nationhood, now have the right to share their innermost knowledge with others.
When you believe that you’ve been bestowed with the light, and that your purpose is to bring it to the world, limitations imposed by law seem but nuisances that complicate your task.
Indeed, the law is in fact a rule for the unenlightened. Ignorance needs boundaries, for its free wandering about might do serious damage to reality, whereas keeping truth in a cage is nonsense.
After the Soviet Union disappeared from the political map of the world, the Americans went completely off the rails. Left without its one and only enemy and geopolitical competitor, the U.S. got, so it seemed to it, undeniable proof of its great righteousness.
From then on, the “shining city on a hill” could dictate the order of the day to the entire planet, since the historical dispute between the two systems, the fullness of one of which America itself embodied, had worked out in its favor.
By the way, the Soviet imperial consciousness had similar parameters.
Despite the fact that the Soviet man’s sense of his own righteousness was far from absolute, and in the last decades before the collapse was even quite reduced, pride in the power of his country, which held half the world under its control, nevertheless provided some basis for looking down on others.
Hence the severe psychological trauma when the citizens of a great country suddenly found themselves denizens of a third-rate, squalid, falling-apart chariot which, losing its wheels, went rattling along this way and that way and God knows where.
It must be said that Russia, which at the start of the 1990s recognized its mistakes, having agreed that over the course of 70 long years it had gone the wrong way, greatly contributed to Americans forming this confidence that they possess super strength and moral supremacy.
To restore a so-called multipolar world today is extremely difficult, since the value system that set itself against the one promoted by the West with the U.S. at its head simply doesn’t exist.
The sovereignty, traditions, and customary way of life — and the need to respect them which the president of Russia is constantly speaking about — cannot be mandatory.
Theoretically and practically as well, cannibalism can be a way of life and a tradition. Or any other large-scale swinishness. That means that simply a custom, the usual order of things, can’t be proclaimed an absolute condition of the self-sufficiency and untouchability of any human community.
Essentially, today we are competing with the West and the U.S. on their own field. We are competing on the axis drafted by the coordinates of Western civilization, where freedom, and man with his various rights, his inviolability and property rights are declared fundamental, basic principles.
It’s an amazing thing, but having had enormous experience suppressing various civil liberties, we’re now sometimes even afraid to look their way so as not to, God forbid, violate anything there.
Of course, we haven’t reached the parameters of democracy that have been championed in Western civilization for centuries, but we’re moving in precisely that direction at a time when they, leaning against a wall in their development, have turned in the opposite direction.
If Russia is extending the range of freedoms, then the West, and the U.S., first and foremost, has unhesitatingly set foot on the path to their loss. Somewhere on this path — we’re going up, they’re going down — we’re destined to meet and part ways, looking on as our instructors unhesitatingly march into a new Middle Ages.
But we should hardly content ourselves with the fact that we’re confidently grabbing the flag of democracy from their hands, hands covered with the hair of a savage beast. Freedom is a decent attainment, but it’s not the foundation of our otherness.
The Soviet state was an attempt to put into action a centuries-old dream of justice, of life free from the fatal struggle and competition in which the strong win and the weak lose.
In the West, the ideas of empathy, helping the needy, and evening out people’s living conditions have found expression in various forms of charity. We put on a grandiose experiment to introduce all of these moral norms within the body of the state itself.
Needless to say, the whole world has followed the course of these trials — some with delight and awe, others with horror and disgust.
I think that without our own idea, it’ll be difficult for us to return multipolarism to this world.
Having turned to the past, it’s probably necessary to understand what we can and should borrow from there in order to again become the hope of many millions of people.
And the Americans, of course, will have to part with the illusion of their exceptionalism. After all, it’s basically not that hard if you know that everyone’s equal before God and there’s no one better than another. And among those one loves, first place belongs to those who have humbled themselves.
There’s no doubt that trauma similar to ours awaits the Americans, but the world will hardly find cause for pity and empathy.
But the inertia of self-deception hasn’t yet even begun to fizzle out. And therefore our friends and partners will still manage to make such a mess of things that it will take decades to sort out the consequences.
*Editor’s note: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, and was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948 as a common standard of achievement, including protection of fundamental human rights, for all peoples and all nations.