A Decade with Putin is a Lost Decade
Writing for the German Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper, commentator Victor Radio concludes:
The inability to understand criticism as an opportunity to improve his nation has led Vladimir Putin to purse the glorification of the existing “Mother Russia” and a new blind spirit of patriotism. Instead of reform, Putin permitted the nation to rediscover its self-esteem in response to perceived “insults” from the prior decade. Finally holding power, Putin wanted nothing more than to lash out at the nation’s critics. As a result, Russia has been driven to a state of impasse. The Putin decade is a lost decade, with only a facade of democracy being created and no real progress. It is not entirely Putin’s fault, but he bears the entire responsibility.
That description applies not only to the Russian dictator, but to the vast majority of the hapless Russians he rules. Let’s be clear: It is not just that Putin publicly denies that Russia’s critics have any merit, it’s that he flouts their statements as a matter of policy, and allows his nation to continue to degenerate into filth and squalor.
Radio shows how Putin, setting a childish and self-destructive example for his country, always responds to criticism by pointing to the faults of his critics. This is exactly the same tactic the USSR always practiced so it is hardly surprising that Putin, a proud KGB spy, would do the same. And it is the reason that the USSR collapsed into rubble. The USSR could not accept criticism, so it could not reform, could not grow and develop, could do nothing but tread water. Oblivious to the fatal illness that was consuming it, the USSR became weaker and weaker until it simply fell apart.
Now, Putin is doing it all over again, like a stubborn angry child repeating the same self-destructive behavior just to annoy his parents. As Radio puts it: “Putin is secret service, not a statesman. For him, diverse opinions do not represent a path to greater understanding, but only a path to danger.” Radio points out that Putin’s Russia is nothing but a gigantic Potemkin village, with a veneer of development masking a vast crumbling foundation left wholly unrepaired. Putin’s only response to economic and social issues is brute force, born of ignorance and nourished by paranoia.
A nation ruled in this way cannot long endure.
Putin believes that for Russians to honestly confront the horror of their past would mean destroying their fragile, child-like psyches and condemning the nation to ruin. Apparently, Putin thinks his countrymen are far more weak and feeble than Germans, who forthrightly admit and acknowledge the evil of their Hitlerian past and who have successful worked to build a prosperous democratic country. Little wonder, then that Putin is such an angry, paranoid little dwarf. He must fear that his countrymen can be bested by the people of almost any other country in fair competition, and cannot govern themselves any more than chickens can. So Putin feels he can govern only through lies and brute force.
And who knows? Maybe he’s right. The people of Russia, certainly, have done little to prove otherwise in the Putin years.