The other day I suggested that trying to support a wrong proposition can make even intelligent people sound silly. Any defence of Russia’s aggression against the Ukraine does just that.
Witness Peter Hitchens, who generally makes sense when arguing in favour of supportable propositions, such as leaving the EU or refraining from forays into the Middle East for the sake of spreading democracy. But he does have a soft spot for Putin, possibly predisposed that way by his own, not so distant, Trotskyist past.
When an intelligent man supports that brand of bolshevism well into his mature age, he must be that way predisposed by his temperament and some psychological quirks. This is obviously the case with Mr Hitchens, whose intelligence eventually led him to some brand of conservatism, while his quirks made sure some of the Trotskyist spots remained in place.
Hence he has been waxing almost erotically enthusiastic about Putin for years, bemoaning that we aren’t blessed with a strong leader like the KGB lieutenant-colonel. Personally, I’m wary of strong leaders who suppress freedom of speech, murder opponents, indulge in theft and money laundering on a cosmic scale and attack weaker neighbours like rabid dogs. But then I’ve never been a Trotskyist.
Hitchens has been silent on this subject for a while now, probably realising that, in the light of Putin’s recent shenanigans, overt support for the KGB junta would destroy his own credibility. Yet once the wire and foil have been removed from a champagne bottle, it’s impossible to keep the cork in for long. Sure enough, the cork popped out yesterday.
Hitchens again couldn’t refrain from saying something nasty about the Ukrainian revolution and, indirectly, exculpating Putin’s aggression. To that end he uttered a few things he tried to pass for startling discoveries.
First, he triumphantly declared that there’s much corruption in the Ukraine. That’s God’s own truth. Communism corrupts, its poison seeps into the nation’s genetic pool and the antidote will take generations to develop, even provided that moves are made in the right direction.
Hitchens’s other non-discovery is that there he was, thinking “that the great Kiev ‘spontaneous’ protests of two years ago were all about ending corruption.” However, lo and behold, “the 2014 outbreak was a putsch and its real target Russia.”
The word ‘putsch’, also favoured by Putin, is chosen advisedly, evoking as it does beer-swilling Nazis marching behind Hitler and Ludendorff in Munich, 1923. Also masterly is the use of quotation commas around ‘spontaneously’. The implication is that the uprising wasn’t spontaneous. It was some dastardly conspiracy in action.
True, mass protests are never wholly spontaneous. The masses need to be organised, inspired and led, which is true of every revolution in history. Alas, Hitchens’s readers probably don’t number in their ranks many keen students of history. Hence a set of quotation commas must have worked a treat.
The word ‘corruption’ represents another clever trick. For the concept covers a multitude of sins.
The Ukrainian revolution indeed targeted corruption, but not the fiscal kind that’s so vexing to the IMF, a fact about which Hitchens gloats with indecent glee (when he has a free moment, he ought to check Russia’s corruption ratings, which are similar to the Ukraine’s). There exists worse corruption than that, especially in politics.
For example, Cameron, whom Hitchens laudably despises, is utterly corrupt, although he isn’t known to take backhanders. His corruption is in the use of his position for self-aggrandisement at the expense of his duties as a guardian of Britain’s constitution. Specifically, his frantic attempts to destroy his nation’s sovereignty make one wish he chose a less destructive form of corruption, such as taking bribes.
That’s the sense in which the deposed Yanukovych’s government was corrupt (in addition to fiscal corruption that was rife then too), except that it was even worse in the Ukraine. For Yanukovych was a stooge to Putin’s kleptofascist KGB junta.
Hence he had turned his country into a virtual satellite of an organisation that for over 70 years systematically murdered millions of Ukrainians and enslaved the rest, suppressing wherever it could Ukrainian culture and any sense of ethnic identity.
Only someone with an entirely warped moral sense can possibly find anything wrong with the Ukrainian revolution because its real target was independence from Russia. It’s true that the Ukraine didn’t turn into a sinless paradise as a result. But at least she shook the dust of history’s most evil regime off her feet.
“Now it’s gone wrong,” continues Hitchens’s diatribe against the Ukraine’s rejection of KGB rule, “coverage in the West has virtually stopped.” This is as disingenuous as it gets.
Surely Hitchens must realise that Western readers, and therefore papers, have an infantile attention span. Considering that, the Ukraine stayed in the news amazingly long, and only slipped out when Hitchens’s love object redirected his attentions to Syria and Turkey, creating a clear danger of world war.
I’m awaiting Hitchens’s next article, possibly extolling the decisiveness exhibited by Kim Jong-un in murdering yet another defence chief. I bet he wishes we had a strong leader like that.