A team of Financial Times editors and reporters, Lionel Barber and Henry Foy in Moscow and Alex Barker in Osaka …
… talked with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week. He is reported to have said that ““the liberal idea” had “outlived its purpose” as the public turned against immigration, open borders and multiculturalism …[and] … Mr Putin’s evisceration of liberalism — the dominant western ideology since the end of the second world war in 1945 — chimes with anti-establishment leaders from US president Donald Trump to Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Matteo Salvini in Italy, and the Brexit insurgency in the UK … [Mr Putin went on to say that] … “[Liberals] cannot simply dictate anything to anyone just like they have been attempting to do over the recent decades” … [and] … Mr Putin branded Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to admit more than 1m refugees to Germany, mainly from war-ravaged Syria, as a “cardinal mistake” … [but] … he praised Donald Trump for trying to stop the flow of migrants and drugs from Mexico … [saying that] … “This liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done … [and he suggested that] … migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants have to be protected” … [and he concluded] … “Every crime must have its punishment. The liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.”” A lot of Americans, Australians, Brits, Canadians, Danes, Estonians, French, Germans, Hungarians, Italians and so on will agree with him, especially about the illegal migrants and about globalization, in general.
The FT article notes that “In recent years, Mr Putin has become emboldened, presiding over the annexation of Crimea, a pro-Russian revolt in eastern Ukraine and a military intervention in Syria which he described as a clear-cut success … [and, President Putin said that] … Apart from killing thousands of radical Islamists and shoring up President Bashar al-Assad’s regime … the exercise had given Russia’s armed forces invaluable fighting experience” … [but] … He made no mention of the fact the seven-year-old war has resulted in more than 5m refugees and 500,000 dead. However, he did point to the waves of immigration from conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East which had fostered crime and social strains, in turn fuelling an anti-establishment backlash in Europe.“
I think we have to expect that refugees will have a tougher time adapting to the social norms of a new country than will immigrants who applied to come and who were screened for their suitability. That does not, in any way, excuse any of the horrendous crimes, especially rape, that have been reported in some European countries, but it is part of the price that a country pays for not screening migrants before they arrive.
“Echoing nationalist populists such as Mr Salvini and France’s Marine Le Pen,” the FT journalists, say, “Mr Putin said liberal governments had not acted to reassure citizens … [and] … Instead they had pursued a mindless multiculturalism embracing, among other things, sexual diversity … [and, he said] … “I am not trying to insult anyone because we have been condemned for our alleged homophobia. But we have no problem with LGBT persons. God forbid, let them live as they wish, … [but, he added] … some things do appear excessive to us. They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles …[and he said] … Let everyone be happy, we have no problem with that … [but] … this must not be allowed to overshadow the culture, traditions and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population.”” Once again, I think his comments will resonate with a large number of people in the West and in Asia who are frightened by a progressive agenda that seems to attack their fundamental, often religious, values.
While I accept that President Putin’s views on socio-political matters are always newsworthy, I think that Vladimir Putin used this opportunity, a sit down with one of the world’s most reputable journals, to give a master-class on trolling. He touched on a range of issues that divide Western nations, like the growing angst over migration, which brought Angela Merkel down and the social conservatism that is rampant from Singapore to Spain. (But, notā bene, please, that Pedro Sánchez’ left-wing Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party won a minority government, and Pablo Casado’s right-wing populist People’s Party lost over half its seats in the parliament (Cortes Generales) in this year’s elections.) He has, almost certainly, emboldened both president Trump and the anti-Trump forces in America and around the world. I have friends who, I know, will say “Well Putin may be a sneaky, slimy bastard, but he’s right, you know ~ that’s why we have to vote Trudeau out,” and I have other friends who will say, based on the same reading, “Oh, dear, this is what a conservative government will look like ~ we must re-elect Justin Trudeau, weak as he is, he’s our only hope.” He has, brilliantly, just interfered in our October election … and I paid to read it.
I do believe that liberalism is in trouble. I self identify as a classic, 19th-century liberal, which means that I am a 21st-century Conservative and cannot support the illiberal Liberal Party of Canada. I believe that liberalism needs to be preserved and strengthened exactly because the alternative, even here in Canada, is something that would please Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and Xi Jinping but not John Stuart Mill, Sir John A Macdonald, Sir Wilfred Laurier or Louis St Laurent. I believe that we need to restore Prime Minister St Laurent’s liberal vision of Canada which stands in sharp contrast to what Presidents Putin and Trump and Paramount Leader Xi want for their countries and the world. I do not believe that liberalism “has become obsolete” but I do believe that it is under attack, from all sides, and needs better leaders, from Canada and the world …
… old and young, from the left and the right to counter the views of Putin, Trump, Xi and all the others.