Is Putin Crazy?

Much is being said in the Western press about the alleged insanity of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, and some have even said outright that the Russian leader is “a psychopath.” To reduce the very complex reality of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict (which is much more than a clash between Russia and Ukraine) to the psychological anxieties of a single individual (namely, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin) is to stupidly block out understanding and not to attend to the dialectical and pluralistic (not Manichean dualistic or harmonistic) webs of the present geopolitics at work. Such diagnoses only show that the person who affirms them is a prisoner of the crudest and silliest psychologism.

One of those who say that Putin is mad is the fervent Russianophobic Judeo-Magyarist-American globalist Esperantist George Soros: “Putin seems to have literally gone mad. He has decided to punish Ukraine for standing up to him and seems to be acting without restraint. He is throwing the entire Russian army into battle and ignoring all the rules of war.”

Says the tycoon who with his foundations is spreading truly delusional ideologies. Since we avoid psychologism at all costs, we prefer to speak of objective madness (see, Gustavo Bueno).

The oligarch who was once the richest man in Russia, an opponent of Putin who spent ten years in jail for tax evasion, although he denied it, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, affirmed from his London exile that this war is the result of an “emotional decision by Putin,” and that the leader shows “signs of senile paranoia” because he is a “madman in the clinical sense.”

But let’s look at the position of the experts, and not of the talk show hosts on duty who start talking like real specialists on any subject without having any idea of what they are talking about (get rid of the vain talk show hosts, we should add, paraphrasing Paul of Tarsus).

The president of the Spanish Society of Criminology and Forensic Sciences (SCEE), Carlos López Gobernado, states categorically: “Without any doubt, Putin is not a psychopath. He has a very clear mind… He is not. He knows perfectly well what he wants and he wants it for his country. Rather than psychopathic traits, I see geopolitical motives. Russia wants its space at the international level. There are supranational interests at stake here. More than personality conflicts, I find questions of statesmanship and geopolitical power politics.” To paraphrase the vile Clinton, “it’s geopolitics, stupid.”

Henry Kissinger, a professional politician who has spent more than fifty years keeping an eye on geopolitical entanglements, has gone so far as to say, “For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.”

Putin could not have remained in power for 20 years if he simply and despotically offered tyranny and repression to his fellow citizens. To think of such “tyranny” is to offend the intelligence of Russians, given that Putin is one of the most popular politicians in the world (probably the most popular).

As acknowledged in Foreign Affairs, in a May/June 2021 article by Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy at Columbia University Timothy Frye: Over the past 20 years, Putin’s approval ratings have averaged a remarkable 74 percent, and there is little reason to believe that Russians are lying to pollsters in large numbers. But these high approval ratings were largely driven by the economic boom that doubled the size of Russia’s economy between 1998 and 2008 and the unique foreign policy success of the 2014 annexation of Crimea. Since 2018, Putin’s popularity has wavered. His approval ratings remain in the mid-60s, but Russians express much less confidence in him than in the past. In a November 2017 poll, when asked to name five politicians they trust, 59 percent of respondents named Putin; in February 2021, only 32 percent did so. During the same interval, support for a fifth Putin term fell from 70 percent to 48 percent, with 41 percent of Russians surveyed now saying they would prefer he step down.

With a month of war in Ukraine, we read in the foreign press (it seems that in the mainstream Spanish press, with some exceptions, we won’t read that) that Putin’s popularity has risen to 83%.

Be that as it may, it is an insult to the intelligence of the Russian people that they have trusted for so long a stupid, crazy man, or a psychopath who is willing to press, simply out of sheer evil, the nuclear button. Or that among his favorite hobbies is genocide. Lately this word the mainstream media writes and pronounces in Spain with much joy, and anything or any war crime is mistaken for genocide. But such a fine distinction is not something that is habitually made by the ignorant masses.

One must keep in mind that Putin inherited a devastated, shattered Russia, with the vast majority of its population demoralized by living in misery after a decade of the collapse and ruin of the Soviet Union (with the war in Chechnya fueling the misery). Putin’s governments have been gradually reversing the situation. It is as if his enemies never forgave him.

It is very simple-minded and typical of Western journalists, who are functionally illiterate in the noble art of geopolitics, along with the pretensions of pantologists and experts in universality, to believe that an overly prudent politician like Vladimir Putin (as he has shown during his twenty years in office, from 2008 to 2012 as Prime Minister) would ever make such a mistake of not foreseeing the consequences of the Western sanctions (i.e., those of NATO plus Japan and Australia) and that he has simply “lost his mind” (such is the “rigor” with which the matter has been dismissed in mainstream media).

But the truth is that neither China, nor Mexico, nor Brazil, nor India, nor Iran, nor South Africa and other countries (actually most of the world’s states) have imposed sanctions on Russia, which together with China has been preparing since 2015 for the de-dollarization of their economies, while putting in place parallel systems to SWIFT, such as the Chinese Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS, for its acronym in English). “The CIPS system, which some Russian banks already joined in 2019, as confirmed by Vladimir Shapovalov, head of the Bank of Russia, could become strong enough to allow the two neighboring powers to bypass the Western system.”

The US and EU plan is to isolate Russia with sanctions so that the oligarchs, seeing how their businesses are being destroyed, will rebel against Putin. But won’t Putin have everything neatly wrapped up and firmly wrapped up?

And while the war is raging in Ukraine, the EU pays Russia about a billion euros a day for its energy (although it has demanded to be paid in rubles, which Russia now wants to back in gold, which could change the rules of the geo-economic game). The gas pipelines have been operating normally. Russia is punished with sanctions but at the same time the war is financed by buying Russia’s gas. What will not be bought in peacetime? Russia is an energy giant that Europe can hardly do without. Russia is not to be scorned, even if this is shocking to democratic and liberal fundamentalism. At the Antalya Diplomatic Forum held on March 11, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, admitted that sanctions against Russia “have a very high cost for the whole world.”

In the face of Western sanctions Russia could count on BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), an international body that was launched in 2008-2009 and which—as the US Council on Foreign Relations knows—” BRICS has already become a platform for efforts to build an alternative financial system, with the group’s development bank raising funds in local currencies as part of its goal to ‘break away from the tyranny of hard currencies.'”

As far back as 2019 the RAND Corporation report said, “Imposing deeper trade and financial sanctions would also likely degrade the Russian economy, especially if such sanctions are comprehensive and multilateral. Thus, their effectiveness will depend on the willingness of other countries to join in such a process. But sanctions come with costs and, depending on their severity, considerable risks.”

Putin did not get along entirely badly with Donald Trump. In the four years of the Orange Man sitting in the Oval Office, the US-Russia relations were very different from how they were with Obama or how they are now with Biden (who called Putin a “murderer”—as if the United States, and as if the Obama Administration of which he was Vice President, did not have a bloodthirsty career). Trump’s return to the White House could appease relations with Russia but strain them with China. And after the Ukrainian war, Trump would have a hard time winning the favor of a Russia already very much devoted to China.

As written in Foreign Affairs in November/December 2021, in an article by Fiona Hill, Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at the Center on the United States and Europe in the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, Putin shared many of the same enemies as Trump: “cosmopolitan, liberal elites; the American financier, philanthropist, and open society promoter George Soros; and anyone trying to expand voting rights, improve electoral systems, or cast a harsh light on corruption in their countries’ respective executive branches…. Trump railed against a mythological American deep state, whereas Putin—who spent decades as an intelligence operative before ascending to office—is a product of Russia’s very real deep state. Unlike Trump, who saw the U.S. state apparatus as his enemy and wanted to rule the country as an outsider, Putin rules Russia as a state insider. Also unlike Trump, Putin rarely dives into Russia’s social, class, racial, or religious divisions to gain political traction. Instead, although he targets individuals and social groups that enjoy little popular support, Putin tends to promote a single, synthetic Russian culture and identity to overcome the domestic conflicts of the past that destabilized and helped bring down both the Russian empire and the Soviet Union. That Putin seeks one Russia while Trump wanted many Americas during his time in office is more than just a difference in political styles: it is a critical data point. It highlights the fact that a successful U.S. policy approach to Russia will rest in part on denying Putin and Russian operatives the possibility to exploit divisions in American society.”

The Spanish bourgeois press, especially that of the “global daily” (globalist), maintains that Putin fears that next to the Russian border the “evolution of a free and thriving society” is being forged and “not any of the weapons that the Central European countries may have on their territory. None of them is a military danger to Russia. They are all, and Ukraine in particular, a danger as an example that freedom can be successful and not necessarily be a source of violence and chaos as happened in Yeltsin’s Russia and which is the scarecrow that Putin uses to defend his despotism. If the Ukrainian brethren can have a democratic and free country that works, there is a danger that the Russian brethren will conclude that they can, too. That is what Putin fears. That is why he says he is going to destroy the anti-Russia that the West has put in front of his door. What he has in front of his door is not against Russia, but it is a society that is against tyranny, and he feels, with much logic, very affected.”

In order to hold up the corrupt Ukrainian oligarchy as an example of a “free and thriving society” that “goes against tyranny,” it is necessary to have a face not made of reinforced concrete, but of titanium diboride. But this is how they tend to spin it in the once “Independent Morning Newspaper” but now “The Global Newspaper” (globalist, very globalist). This is the same media that published Zelensky’s corruption when he was in the Pandora Papers: “In March 2019, a month before winning the elections, Zelenski transferred his shares to Sergiy Shefir, a close friend and business partner who later became one of his main political advisors in Kiev. Neither the minister nor his advisers have responded to requests for comment.”

In the other bourgeois press, the liberal jim-dandy, the one that sees communists as the child in The Sixth Sense saw the dead. We are referring to the pie-in-the-sky Libertad Digital; and they just cannot stop writing nonsense wholesale: “Putin is the leader of a gigantic terrorist gang, president of a world terrorist power, called Russia. A mediocre nostalgic with nuclear arsenal and lack of scruples. We have been informed by many Russians who worked for him, who brought him to power and who risked their lives or freedom denouncing him. For nothing?”

A journalist, who is the epitome of being mediocre, calls the greatest statesman of our time “mediocre.” Ignorance has always been very bold.

But the one who takes the cake is the owner of a dog-and-pony show, one Federico Jiménez Losantos, whose comments are laughable. He calls Putin “communist” every other morning (like a mantra). And he pronounces this word with the same insulting tone as progressives pronounce the word “fascist.”

But Putin’s Russia is the country where more churches are being built and where the Christian religion (Orthodox, of course) is making a comeback; where gender ideology and liberal cosmopolitanism are most firmly attacked (Soros cannot enter there—n our country he has even got into the kitchen); where a private sector is becoming more and more influential in its economy; where brands like Zara have hundreds of stores throughout its vast territory; and where the Russian Communist Party is the main force of opposition to United Russia (Putin’s party).

To say that Putin is a communist and that he wants to restore the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is simply supreme ignorance or crude demonizing propaganda, the same as the former COPE announcer does with the USSR and communism in general in his book which is as fat as it is nonsensical, Memoria del comunismo (Memory of Communism). But that, among other things, is what I am here to criticize.

Agapito Maestre, professor of philosophy at the Complutense University of Madrid, is not far behind either, having authored such unreasonable and stupid statements as: “Putin only intends to return to the old and cruel Stalinism. The totalitarian process of Putin’s era is also irreversible: the whole of Russia is already a Gulag. It will continue to stagnate economically, politically and socially.”

It is embarrassing that a philosopher, who even admired Gustavo Bueno during his lifetime and also after his eternal birth, should write such nonsense. You should amend your judgment, Don Agapito, because such statements are typical of the corruption of understanding or of a third-rate sophist.

Daniel Miguel López Rodríguez lives in Cortegana (Huelva), Spain. He has a PhD in philosophy from the University of Seville. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Posmodernia.

Featured image: “Vladimir Putin,” by Kalin Modev; painted in 2015.