Both individuals and nations are better at judging their adversaries’ weaknesses than their own. Our enemies, on the other hand, are much more dispassionate and objective: our weaknesses are their strengths.
That’s why we can get valuable material for self-scrutiny by examining what our enemies see as our weak spots they can exploit. This may then make us reassess our policies or, better still, the thinking behind our policies.
I’ve often remarked that many of our political failings spring from the gross inadequacy of our political taxonomies. It’s not only the Creation itself that began with the word.
We are so hung up on political terminology that we fail to realise it doesn’t designate anything actual. Take liberalism, for example, which used to have a direct link with its cognate, liberty.
Yet in the West today liberalism means, mutatis mutandis, socialism: replacement of individual responsibility with collective security, as much state control and as little personal liberty as is achievable without concentration camps.
For the 19th century liberal, the 10 percent of the nation’s income the government was then spending was too high. For today’s liberal, the 40-odd percent it spends now is too low. So if one wants to use ‘liberal’ in its proper sense, then one must either modify it with ‘classic’ or replace it with ‘libertarian’, thereby rendering the word useless.
Thus confused, we try to get a sense of direction, only to find our heads spinning like a top: both ‘right’ and ‘left’ really mean nothing at all.
Faschisoid parties seeking state power based on nationalism are described as ‘right-wing’; fascisoid parties seeking state power based on nationalisation are ‘left-wing’. Yet both are in fact socialist, and the difference between them is merely adjectival, not substantive.
At their extremes, they converge on a unifying characteristic: both are disruptive at best, subversive at worst. That’s the only thing that matters: not right or left, but right or wrong.
Yet we are so in thrall to false taxonomies that we argue ad nauseam about the exact place our parties and politicians occupy on the fictitious continuum: A is right; B is left; C is in the middle, but closer to the right; D is in the middle too, but tending towards the left – and so forth.
Labels get stuck, serious thought comes unstuck, and we gradually lose the ability to ask the really important question: What’s right and what’s wrong? In fact, we’ve forgotten even how to think in such categories.
That seminal question has many answers in many contexts, but when it comes to dealing with our enemies, the realpolitik answer is simple. Whatever suits their interests in our countries is wrong; whatever suits our interests at the expense of theirs is right.
Nobody this side of Peter Hitchens doubts that Putin’s Russia is an implacable enemy of the West in general and Britain in particular. And the Russians aren’t fooled by our names for political groups. They don’t care who’s right, left or centre. All they want to know is who can help them destabilise the West, making it impotent to resist criminal Russian neo-imperialism.
That should indirectly clear up our own thinking, perhaps encouraging us to ditch our whole political classification and concentrate instead on deeper issues. If our enemies assess our political mix strictly on the basis of their strategic interests, we ought to assess it on the basis of ours.
We should ponder why Putin’s Russia is an equal opportunity recruiter. The Russians don’t care if a party comes from the far right, far left or the mainstream. Just look at the list of European groups they support with finance, logistics and electronic intelligence.
On the right one could mention Germany’s AfD, Austria’s FPÖ, Greece’s Golden Dawn, Hungary’s Jobbik, France’s Front National, Italy’s Northern League, Poland’s PiS and Belgium’s Vlaams Belang – along with some elements within our Brexit movement and most political groups that have words like British or English in their nomenclatures.
On the left, Putin’s largesse is bestowed on Cyprus’s AKEL, Germany’s Die Linke, the Czech Republic’s KSCM, Poland’s Zmiana, Spain’s Podemos, Greece’s Syriza, Italy’s Five Star Movement and Croatia’s Human Shield Party.
Politicians on both right and left have benefited – or at least were meant to benefit – from the hacking expertise of Russian intelligence services. Let’s remark parenthetically that, though the Russians are still incapable of making their own electronic equipment, they are real wizards at using our exports for subversive purposes.
Here too they are laudably even-handed. First, they used hackers to find dirt on Hillary Clinton to make sure Trump would get elected. (It’s immaterial for my purposes here whether Trump was complicit in this crime or indeed whether it worked. It’s the intent that counts.) Then they provided the same service for Corbyn.
Now Trump is widely perceived as a man of the right, which charge can hardly be levelled at Corbyn. Yet KGB/SVR hackers tried to give him a helping hand by hacking the e-mail account of Liam Fox, former International Trade Secretary, and stealing classified material about our negotiations with the US.
That enabled Corbyn to scream publicly that the Tories were planning to sell the NHS to the US, which could have had the same effect as telling Catholics that the Pope was trying to flog the whole Roman confession to Disney Europe. Corbyn was so hideous that the ploy didn’t work, but otherwise it could have done.
If you look at the list of British politicians who have appeared on Putin’s propaganda channel, RT, more than once, you’ll again see that the Russians don’t play party favourites. Along with Corbyn and other lefties, such as Grace Blakely and Ken Livingston, one finds on that list the SNP’s Alex Salmond, Tory David Davies and Ukip’s Nigel Farage.
Regardless of what they say there, the very fact that our politicians agree to take RT’s £750 appearance fee is damning. That’s like, say, Anthony Eden giving an interview to Der Stürmer in 1938. But our chaps go beyond just appearing: they give their hosts value for money.
Thus, immediately after Russia’s invasion of the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, Nigel Farage told his RT audience that the real culprit was the EU that “has blood on its hands”. And Alex Salmond must ask himself why he was invited to host a regular RT show just when the KGB/SVR was using its resources to prop up Scottish separatism – Britain’s poison is Putin’s meat.
Commenting on the cooling in the Russo-British relations, the Russian Ambassador Andrei Kelin said: “I feel that Britain exaggerates, very much, its place in Russian thinking.”
That was a calculated putdown, highlighting Britain’s diminishing role in the world. Be that as it may, her place in the thinking of Putin and his camarilla isn’t just prominent, but dominant.
Britain is where their billions are laundered, their children are educated, and they themselves are treated. Hence any cooling of relations will hurt them personally, which to that lot is all that matters.
A proper response to Russia’s concerted effort to subvert Britain would be to cut off access to all those facilities and impound all Russian billions. Yet to our craven, spivocratic elite it comes more naturally to elevate Russians with KGB connections to the House of Lords.
Then again, Russia is teaching us a valuable lesson in strategic thinking and realpolitik that goes beyond party names or slogans. Perhaps one day we may get a government that would heed it.