Liberalism is Dead?

2019 July 5

This is a portion of an interview by Financial Times of Vladimir Putin just before the start of the G20 summit. The full interview is here.

Emphasis is mine. LB = Lionel Barber VP = Vladimir Putin

LB: Again a big picture question. I talked at the beginning of our conversation about fragmentation. Another phenomenon today is that there is a popular backlash against elites and against the establishment and you have seen that — Brexit in Britain. Perhaps you were speaking about Trump’s America. You have seen it with the AFD in Germany; you have seen it in Turkey; and you have seen it in the Arab world. How long do you think that Russia can remain immune to this global movement of backlash against the establishment?

VP: You should look at the realities in each particular case. Of course, there are some trends, but they are only general. In each particular case, when looking at the situation and how it unfolds, you should take into account the history of the given country, its traditions and realities.

How long will Russia remain a stable country? The longer the better. Because very many other things and its position in the world depend on stability, on internal political stability. Ultimately, the wellbeing of the people depends, possibly primarily, on stability.

One of the reasons, the internal reason for the Soviet Union’s collapse was that life was difficult for the people, whose take-home wages were very small. The shops were empty, and the people lost the intrinsic desire to preserve the state.

They thought that it could not get worse no matter what happened. It turned out that life became worse for very many people, especially at the beginning of the 1990s when the social protection and healthcare systems collapsed and industry was crumbling. It could be ineffective, but at least people had jobs. After the collapse, they lost them. Therefore, you should look at each particular case separately.

What is happening in the West? What is the reason for the Trump phenomenon, as you said, in the US? What is happening in Europe as well? The ruling elites have broken away from the people. The obvious problem is the gap between the interests of the elites and the overwhelming majority of the people.

Of course, we must always bear this in mind. One of the things we must do in Russia is never to forget that the purpose of the operation and existence of any government is to create a stable, normal, safe and predictable life for the people and to work towards a better future.

There is also the so-called liberal idea, which has outlived its purpose. Our Western partners have admitted that some elements of the liberal idea, such as multiculturalism, are no longer tenable.

When the migration problem came to a head, many people admitted that the policy of multiculturalism is not effective and that the interests of the core population should be considered. Although those who have run into difficulties because of political problems in their home countries need our assistance as well. That is great, but what about the interests of their own population when the number of migrants heading to Western Europe is not just a handful of people but thousands or hundreds of thousands?

LB: Did [German chancellor] Angela Merkel make a mistake?

VP: Cardinal mistake. One can criticise Trump for his intention to build a wall between Mexico and the US. It could be going too far. Yes, maybe so. I am not arguing about this point. But he had to do something about the huge inflow of migrants and narcotics.

Nobody is doing anything. They say this is bad and that is bad as well. Tell me, what is good then? What should be done? Nobody has proposed anything. I do not mean that a wall must be built or tariffs raised by 5 per cent annually in the economic relations with Mexico. This is not what I am saying, yet something must be done. He is at least looking for a solution.

What am I driving at? Those who are concerned about this, ordinary Americans, they look at this and say, Good for him, at least he is doing something, suggesting ideas and looking for a solution.

As for the liberal idea, its proponents are not doing anything. They say that all is well, that everything is as it should be. But is it? They are sitting in their cosy offices, while those who are facing the problem every day in Texas or Florida are not happy, they will soon have problems of their own. Does anyone think about them?

The same is happening in Europe. I discussed this with many of my colleagues, but nobody has the answer. The say they cannot pursue a hardline policy for various reasons. Why exactly? Just because. We have the law, they say. Well, then change the law!

We have quite a few problems of our own in this sphere as well. We have open borders with the former Soviet republics, but their people at least speak Russian. Do you see what I mean? And besides, we in Russia have taken steps to streamline the situation in this sphere. We are now working in the countries from which the migrants come, teaching Russian at their schools, and we are also working with them here. We have toughened the legislation to show that migrants must respect the laws, customs and culture of the country.

In other words, the situation is not simple in Russia either, but we have started working to improve it. Whereas the liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done. The migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants must be protected. What rights are these? Every crime must have its punishment.

So, the liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population. Or take the traditional values. I am not trying to insult anyone, because we have been condemned for our alleged homophobia as it is. But we have no problems with LGBT persons. God forbid, let them live as they wish. But some things do appear excessive to us.

They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles. I cannot even say exactly what genders these are, I have no notion. 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.

LB: Does that include — this is very important, like you say — the end of this liberal idea, because — what else did you say — uncontrolled immigration, open borders, definitely, as you say, diversity as an organising principle in society? What else do you think is just finished over in terms of the liberal idea? And would you say — if I could just add — that religion therefore must play an important role in terms of national culture and cohesiveness?

The liberal idea cannot be destroyed either; it has the right to exist and it should even be supported in some things. But you should not think that it has the right to be the absolute dominating factor

VP: It should play its current role. It [religion] cannot be pushed out of this cultural space. We should not abuse anything.

Russia is an Orthodox Christian nation, and there have always been problems between Orthodox Christianity and the Catholic world. This is exactly why I will now say a few words about Catholics. Are there any problems there? Yes, there are, but they cannot be over-exaggerated and used for destroying the Roman Catholic Church itself. This is what cannot be done.

Sometimes, I get the feeling that these liberal circles are beginning to use certain elements and problems of the Catholic Church as a tool for destroying the Church itself. This is what I consider to be incorrect and dangerous.

All right, have we forgotten that all of us live in a world based on biblical values? Even atheists and everyone else live in this world. We do not have to think about this every day, attend church and pray, thereby showing that we are devout Christians or Muslims or Jews. However, deep inside, there must be some fundamental human rules and moral values. In this sense, traditional values are more stable and more important for millions of people than this liberal idea, which, in my opinion, is really ceasing to exist.

LB: So religion, religion is not the opium of the masses?

VP: No, it is not. But I get the impression that you are detached from religion because it is already 12.45am Moscow time, and you continue to torture me. As we say here, there is no fear of God in you, is there? (Laughter).

LB: This is history. I have waited a long time for this. I have got one last question. And thank you for your — go on please.

VP: Please, go ahead.

Henry Foy: Mr President, would you say — I was reflecting on what you just said: some of the themes you were referring to would echo in people such as [former Trump adviser] Steve Bannon, and Mr Trump himself, and the groups in Europe who have come to power. Do you think if the end of the liberal idea is over, is now the time of the “illiberals”? And do you see more and more allies growing around the world to your way of seeing the human existence at the moment?

VP: You know, it seems to me that purely liberal or purely traditional ideas have never existed. Probably, they did once exist in the history of humankind, but everything very quickly ends in a deadlock if there is no diversity. Everything starts to become extreme one way or another.

Various ideas and various opinions should have a chance to exist and manifest themselves, but at the same time interests of the general public, those millions of people and their lives, should never be forgotten. This is something that should not be overlooked.

Then, it seems to me, we would be able to avoid major political upheavals and troubles. This applies to the liberal idea as well. It does not mean (I think, this is ceasing to be a dominating factor) that it must be immediately destroyed. This point of view, this position should also be treated with respect.

They cannot simply dictate anything to anyone just like they have been attempting to do over the recent decades. Diktat can be seen everywhere: both in the media and in real life. It is deemed unbecoming even to mention some topics. But why?

For this reason, I am not a fan of quickly shutting, tying, closing, disbanding everything, arresting everybody or dispersing everybody. Of course, not. The liberal idea cannot be destroyed either; it has the right to exist and it should even be supported in some things. But you should not think that it has the right to be the absolute dominating factor. That is the point. Please.

LB: You really are on the same page as Donald Trump. Mr President, you have been in power for almost 20 years.

VP: For 18 years.

LB: You have seen many world leaders. Who do you most admire?

VP: Peter the Great.

LB: But he is dead.

VP: He will live as long as his cause is alive just as the cause of each of us. (Laughter). We will live until our cause is alive.

If you mean any present-day leaders from different countries and states, of the persons that I could communicate with, I was most seriously impressed by former president of France [Jacques] Chirac. He is a true intellectual, a real professor, a very level-headed man as well as very interesting. When he was president, he had his own opinion on every issue, he knew how to defend it and he always respected his partners’ opinions.

In modern-day history, taking a broader view, there are many good and very interesting people.

LB: Peter the Great, the creator of the Greater Russia. Need I say any more? My last question, Mr President. Great leaders always prepare succession. Lee Kuan Yew prepared succession. So please share with us what would the process be by which your successor will be chosen.

VP: I can tell you without exaggeration that I have always been thinking about this, since 2000. The situation changes and certain demands on people change, too. In the end, and I will say this without theatrics or exaggeration, in the end the decision must be made by the people of Russia. No matter what and how the current leader does, no matter who or how he represents, it is the voter that has the final word, the citizen of the Russian Federation.

LB: So the choice will be approved by the Russian people in a vote? Or through the Duma?

VP: Why through the Duma? By means of direct secret ballot, universal direct secret ballot. Of course, it is different from what you have in Great Britain. We are a democratic country. (Laughter).

In your country, one leader has left, and the second leader, who is for all intents and purposes the top figure in the state, is not elected by a direct vote of the people, but by the ruling party.

It is different in Russia, as we are a democratic country. If our top officials leave for some reason, because they want to retire from politics like Boris Yeltsin, or because their term ends, we hold an election through universal direct secret ballot.

The same will happen in this case. Of course, the current leader always supports someone, and this support can be substantive if the person supported has the respect and trust of the people, but in the end, the choice is always made by the Russian people.

LB: I cannot resist pointing out that you did take over as president before the election.

VP: Yes, this is true. So what? I was acting president, and in order to be elected and become the head of state, I had to take part in an election, which I did.

I am grateful to the Russian people for their trust back then, and after that, in the following elections. It is a great honour to be the leader of Russia.

LB: Mr President, thank you for spending time with the Financial Times in Moscow, in the Kremlin.

VP: Thank you for your interest in the events in Russia and your interest in what Russia thinks about the current international affairs. And thank you for our interesting conversation today. I believe it was really interesting. Thank you very much.

Can we have Putin as a candidate for the Dims?

16 Responses leave one →
  1. 2019 July 5 3:07 am
    bc3b permalink

    I wish that liberalism was dead. It is likely deader in today’s Russia than in the US, Canada and western Europe.

    If you witnessed the Democratic debates (via TV or second hand), you see obsolete ideas, like busing, being discussed.

    As I wrote earlier, Putin’s Russia is likely far freer than Kamala Harris’s United States, would be.

    Harris appears to be the most dangerous of the Democrats. She has already indicated which freedoms she would eliminate via executive order and would greatly increase divisions among Americans.

  2. 2019 July 5 6:16 am
    justrand permalink

    Putin is unabashedly pro-Russia…good for him. And Trump is just as pro-American. Leaders of countries SHOULD want their countries to be great…or great again!

  3. 2019 July 5 8:16 am
    drdog09 permalink


    Yes. I’ll go one better — He recognized that problems that Russia is facing are not unique. Fact the West has magnified the problems thanks to ill advised liberalism.

    The man is still a geostrategic opponent, but there are common interests if we can just shove the neocons out of the way.

  4. 2019 July 5 8:41 am
    drdog09 permalink

    Can’t spin this crowd count — — Its not a definitive observation, but it does show that the Trump aura is still in play. Otherwise the crowds would be tiny.

  5. 2019 July 5 12:19 pm

    1 – She’ll probably end up the nominee if she’s the worst.
    2-3 Yup, and it was noted even before 2016. Too bad neocons will continue to ruin and movement on that front.

  6. 2019 July 5 12:27 pm
    bc3b permalink

    drdog09 #3 –

    Spot on. What I fail to understand is why people would want to destroy their own country.

    Like Juncker, Merkel Macron, May and the head of Sweden, Harris is childless, as opposed to O’Rourke and Gillibrand who have children, but are clueless.

  7. 2019 July 5 3:31 pm
    gnqanq permalink

    bc3b – people without children should not be able to run. They have no stake in the future. It is all these people without children that are crapping in the nest.

  8. 2019 July 5 4:04 pm

    6 – Because they don’t want said country as it is.
    7 – Interesting point.

  9. 2019 July 5 4:20 pm
    bc3b permalink

    Bad News fir the Dems

    Hiring rebounded in June after several months marked by slower job growth, easing recession fears in some corners of Wall Street and lowering pressure on the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates this summer to stimulate the economy.

    Employers added a robust 224,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 3.7% from 3.6%, the U.S. Labor Department reported Friday. Most economists had expected about 160,000 jobs to be created.

    Wage growth in June was disappointing: Over the past 12 months, wages were up 3.1%, below market estimates of 3.2%, signaling that the economic recovery is still not complete.

    Hat tip CBS News

    Wage growth is .1% below projection and it’s a disappointment?

  10. 2019 July 5 4:40 pm
    bc3b permalink

    More Good News: CNN to pay out $70 million in labor dispute:

  11. 2019 July 5 4:43 pm
    justrand permalink

    Liberalism isn’t just dead…it was MURDERED! The Progressives did it!

    And the Liberals who used to stand for something (even if did disagree with them 99% of the time) are too spineless to stand up the far Left thugs.

    the war is coming…soon, I fear

  12. 2019 July 5 4:48 pm
    justrand permalink

    saw this over at Instapundit…it is describes how I feel perfectly

    “We may consent to be governed, but we will not consent to be ruled.”

    And the Left wants to RULE us…for our own good, of course

  13. 2019 July 5 5:37 pm
    gnqanq permalink

    JR – from the Declaration of Independence. Key phrase – “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”

    Well, the DC crowd is about done with the consent of the governed. I can revoke their right to govern me. This has consequences BUT I am willing to pay that price.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,

  14. 2019 July 5 6:02 pm
    drdog09 permalink


    Utah teachers now packing —

    When the sheep have fangs, collecting the wool becomes problematic. .45acp problematic. Any school in Texas the institution has the option for armed personnel. Only restriction is that the firearm must be concealed.

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