One of the more interesting aspects of Cold War 2.0 is the ideological struggle between the postmodern West and Russia—a struggle that most Westerners deny even exists. President Barack Obama, after Moscow seized Crimea in early 2014, pronounced that there was nothing big afoot: “After all, unlike the Soviet Union, Russia leads no bloc of nations, no global ideology.”
Obama’s statement was wrong then, and it’s even more wrong now. As I’ve explained, there is an undeniable ideological struggle between Vladimir Putin’s neo-traditionalist Russia and the post-modern West—one that prominent Russians talk about all the time. In the Kremlin’s imagination, this fight pits the godless, materialistic, doomed 21st century West, too lazy to even reproduce, against a tough, reborn Russia that was forged in the murderous fire of 74 years of Bolshevism.
The yawning gap between Russian and Western values can be partly explained by the fact that Communism shielded the former from the West’s vast cultural shifts since the 1960s. Living under the Old Left provided protection against the New Left. As a result, Russians are living in our past and find current Western ways incomprehensible and even contemptible.
Take the reaction to America’s present panic about sexual harassment, which is felling celebrities and politicians left and right. In Moscow, this looks like madness, punishing powerful men for doing what powerful men have always done. Their late-night TV uses our sex panic as a punchline, proof that Americans are weak and feminized, held hostage to radical ideology. Andrei Konchalovsky, one of Russia’s top film directors (including some Hollywood hits), expressed his view plainly: “Thank God we live in a country where political correctness has not reached the point of absurdity.”
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