aristocracy, autocracy, contemporary feudalism, Donald J. Trump, medieval v modern, New Nationalism, New Nobility, plutocracy, political analysis, political science, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Viktor Orban
BackChannels acknowledges the book in which it first encountered the term:
Soldatov, Andrei and Irena Borogan. The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB. New York: Public Affairs, 2010.
However, this post is not going to be about powerful and self-enriching KGB/FSB spies and their bureaucracies.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Viktor Orbán, and Donald J. Trump seem to this blogger more the “New Nobility” that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have had also in mind as he launched his revenge on the western world for the demise of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991 — a very good Christmas morning indeed for the United States of America and in the defunct godless realm then represented by the Kremlin a not very special day at all.
In the 26 years that have passed since that morning (for political purpose, it was over at noon), Russia and her leadership have had to think about what it has meant to be “Russian”.
Formed of conquest, contracting and expanding through the brutality of feudal wars, unable ever to police — mere civil policing — its territorial writs, Russia has been a state that has better known barbarism and the depths of inhumanity through violence (give a nod for the extra special dose brought by the Mongols) than civility through accommodation and trade. In that regard, the “Vory”, the once brutalized mafia within, may in their inglorious legend represent the pure expression of the heart of the state.
Backing the tyrant in Syria?
Invading a settled Ukraine and baldly lying to the world about its purpose?
Pursuing feudal absolute power — unquestionable ownership of persons as things — with the Assahola in Tehran?
All of the above: true.
So what good new things has Russia brought to the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization?
Applying the concept of “Reflexive Control” with “Islamic Terrorism” for the convenient stimulus, BackChannels may suggest the four infamous retrogrades:
BREXIT: While Great Britain has been happy to pile on “Asian” labor, it has not been so happy with grooming gangs, suspect neighborhoods, and “Allahu Akbar” explosions, much less the impositions posed by the refugees of war in Syria. Response: the Newest Nationalism expressed in renewed insularity and refreshed Anglican pride.
While it’s good for a state to recall what it’s about, some among the most zealous should factor in how they have been played by Moscow.
Erdogan: Prime Minister, President, and now, apparently, President for Life has never encountered serious resistance for his taking apart what Mustafa Kemal Atatürk bequeathed in bureaucratic and military legacy. The empire’s back, baby, and dig the symbolic significance of the leaders new crib.
Dig this cool new statistic on press freedom in Erdogan’s new estate (italics added).
The 2018 index ranking marked Turkey’s 58 point-decrease over the past 13 years, lagging just behind Rwanda, Belarus and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Pretty cool, huh?
If Erdogan’s New Old Turkish estate makes it all the way down to the bottom of the list, BackChannels will certainly make note of the prize.
Orban: In addition to other self-aggrandizing and self-enriching schemes, this NATO president has been working on an old home and estate. Fave header from related online searching: “How Viktor Orban will tap Europe’s taxpayers and bankroll his friends and family: Plans for a lakeside development show how Hungary’s leader enriches those who stand behind him” (Reuters, Martin Dunai, March 15, 2018).
Trump: “You all just got a lot richer,” Trump tells friends, referencing tax overhaul (CBS News, Kathryn Watson, December 23, 2017). Who else: “Ivanka Trump’s Fashion Brand Will Not Be Impacted by Donald Trump’s Chinese Trade Tariffs” (Teen Vogue, Amira Rasool, July 9, 2018). While the “optics” don’t look good in relation to nepotism, let’s be fair: negotiating business is a continuous process for both sides in complex transactions: other variables may apply to setting tariffs in Ivanka’s region of commercial interest: other brands are in the mix too.
Nonetheless, the American President’s behavior, personal as well as political, has left him also, as with the Erdogan and Orban, associated with the terms “autocratic”, “narcissistic”, and “nationalist”. While it’s good to take pride in one’s nation and defend her interests with tough negotiations, it may not be so good for the head of a modern democratic state to promote the image of himself as a feudal lord, securing prizes for family and friends on the basis of loyalty, and doing out favors (“You all just got a lot richer”) to surrounding nobility.
President George W. Bush also made light of the “have and have mores”, but for Americans struggling with fixed retirements, healthcare premiums, perhaps the full suite of basic and complex costs of survival, and, for the young, jobs that fail to deliver even a modicum of financial independence and pride, much less security, the implied further reduction to peonage must sting.
Posted to YouTube December 26, 2017.