The Power of One Man over a Slavish People
The European Health Spa was a modest gym situated in Kansas City back in the old days. It was a preposterous name because the establishment was neither European nor healthy nor a spa; they didn’t even offer mud baths. In any event, between exercises one night in the mid-1970s, a Russian expatriate named Lev asserted that the Russians are “a slavish people.”
That assessment might have been intended as an insult due to Lev being a Jew. Anti-Semitism was rife in imperial Russia, and Jews continued to suffer the occasional pogrom in their shtetls even after the commies took power. But regardless of how Lev meant it, there must be something rather slavish about a people who would think positively, as many Russians did, of a monster like Joseph Stalin.
Slavery in Russia mainly took the form of serfdom. People were bound to the land they worked. So if one inherited a farm, people came with it. There were a number of reforms and tweaks to Russia’s system of servitude going back to Peter the Great. But the serfs were finally given their “freedom,” such as it is in Russia, by Tsar Alexander II in 1861. That happens to be an important year for slavery in America. And imagine: manumission (freedom) by royal decree. How very different from what it took to free America’s slaves: a conflict between brothers that is still our bloodiest war.
Lev didn’t go into any detail about just why the Rus continue to be a slavish people, but one thing about slaves is that they take whatever is given to them. It doesn’t occur to your average slave to ask for more, as they might be beaten.
Russians had an opportunity to remake their nation back in 1991, but they failed to do so. The world, too, failed the slaves of the old Soviet Union, and that includes not only Bill Clinton but also Papa Bush as well. Before a decade had passed, Vladimir Putin had risen to power and, over the last month, it seems like the world has been thrown back to the 1940s.
Claus von Stauffenberg was a German colonel who in 1944 attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Senator Lindsey Graham recently asked if there might be a “Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military,” adding that the “only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out.” Stauffenberg, however, was an aristocrat, not a slave. The Bolsheviks pretty well got rid of Russia’s aristocrats a century ago.
If you’re a thug, perhaps a KGB agent, and you simply must be the top dog of your piece of turf, the first thing you must do is surround yourself with an inner circle of like-minded thugs, unscrupulous men willing to do anything. With an inner circle of thugs, a thug can be safe. And with an inner circle of thugs, a thug can control a population that still thinks like slaves.
If Putin were to be taken out by the military, it’s doubtful that it would be by the inner circle, the generals. It would have to be done by the rank-and-file, those the generals have thrown into “meat grinders” like Afghanistan and Ukraine. But how likely is a mutiny of grunts and conscripts that have been kept in constant fear of being shipped off to the gulag?
On March 20, the Wall Street Journal ran “Russian Withdrawal Isn’t Enough” by retired Colonel Bing West, USMC:
If Russian troops withdraw from Ukraine but Mr. Putin is still in charge in Moscow, it will be a severe defeat for America. In his meeting with all 30 NATO nations, Mr. Biden must cross his Rubicon. He must declare that the sanctions crippling Russia will remain in full force, with no exit ramps, as long as Mr. Putin remains in power. America’s objective isn’t a return to the status quo ante; it requires removing Mr. Putin[.]
With respect to Col. West, that also “isn’t enough.” Vlad Putin can’t be allowed to retire to his dachas with the billions he’s stolen from the Russian people, not after what he’s done to Ukraine. Putin is today’s Hitler, Putin is the Nazi, and Putin needs to be brought to justice for war crimes (and possibly for genocide) in today’s equivalent of the Nuremberg trials.
But even that isn’t enough: Russia needs to pay reparations to Ukraine. At least half of Russia’s oil revenue should be paid directly to Ukraine to rebuild her destroyed cities.
A complication in bringing Putin to justice is that his inner circle and elements of his military are also war criminals. So in order for Putin to be relieved of his “responsibilities,” and handed over to international authorities for trial, it may be necessary to grant immunity to those handing him over. For this to happen, Ukraine cannot lose this war.
Sunday, April 10 on Fox News, Steve Hilton interviewed attorney Gregg Jarrett on The Next Revolution about how best to prosecute Putin. Jarrett strongly advised against relying on the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and instead recommended a “special tribunal” under the auspices of the United Nations, as was done with Slobodan Milošević.
(WATCH Hilton’s four-minute interview of Jarrett. You’ll need to scroll down a bit for Full Episodes and then click on the episode for April 10. You’ll probably have to sit through a commercial or two, but the segment starts just after the 16:00 point. The permalink can also be used.)
If Putin stays in power, then the West should not allow Russians to travel abroad in their countries. Let it go back to the status quo ante, the good old days of the USSR, when Russians were not only slaves but prisoners as well, in their own country.
How is it possible that one lone man, decidedly small in stature (5’5”), can intimidate an entire nation? That such a thing exists should be proof positive that Lev was right about the “slavish soul” of Russians. It’s time that Russians throw off their shackles and become a decent free people with a decent head of state. Hand over Putin.
Jon N. Hall of ULTRACON OPINION is a programmer from Kansas City.
Image: Ilia Efimovich Repin