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Monday, March 21, 2022

Russia, America, and Decadence

James Pethokoukis:
Russians framing the West as decadent precedes Putin, of course, with the claim being a staple of Soviet propaganda — though the focus then was more about materialism rather than morals. But after the Cold War, however, the charge seems anachronistic and ham-handed as propaganda. Even on its own terms, the charge doesn’t work — unless all that Putin quote means is that the Russian government will persecute LGBT Russians.

For example: Compared to America, Russia has a lower birth rate, higher abortion rate, and lower church attendance — presumably key decadence metrics to conservative Christians in the US who might be sympathetic to the decadence claim. And as I note in the piece of Russian pessimism, a 2019 poll of young Muscovites finds that they imagine their lives on only a roughly two-year time horizon and have little hope for the economy and a well-governed nation.

In many ways, Russia just can’t seem to put it all together: Despite vast natural resources, a well-educated population, a deep scientific base, and an economy long freed from the heavy shackles of communist central planning, Russian income has fallen further behind the West. It possesses a political economy where “corruption and impunity are pervasive.”