Irish Crimean: Is it ever preferable to take the side of your political opponent?


November 9 , 2017 – Fort Russ News – 

Op-ed by Padraig Joseph McGrath – “The Irish Crimean”

Kennedy – Nixon debates, 1960

Sometimes a fair-minded person has no option but to take their opponent’s side, not because they agree with the opponent, but simply because the attacks on the opponent from a third party are idiotic. Sometimes I’ll observe an exchange between an ideological fellow-traveller of mine and an ideological opponent of mine, wherein my ideological opponent is at least reasonably intelligent and well informed, and wherein my ideological fellow-traveller unfortunately happens to be an idiot. In that case, I just have to take my opponent”s side.

Now, I know that seems like quite a quaint attitude in our age of infantile partisanship and ideological tribalism, but if I didn’t believe that, then there would be very little point in my believing anything else.

I’m an Irish communist, living in Russia for for years so far. I agree with the KPRF leadership (Communist Party) on most core-issues.

1) Strong criticism of Edinaya Rossiya’s (United Russia) economic and social policies, check.

2) Support for the president and his government on foreign policy and security-policy, check. Die Partei hat immer Recht!

So obviously, all of this means that I have never approved one tiny little bit of the opinions of Russian liberals.

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But what happens when your friend, who just happens incidentally to be a Russian liberal, is being attacked in the most idiotic way by a clueless wannabe-leftist “anti-imperilaist” who has never been to Russia, does not speak Russian, has no cultural familiarity with Russia, doesn’t really know anything about social conditions in Russia?

Furthermore, in spite of this total lack of first-hand knowledge about life in Russia, the clueless wannabe-leftist “anti-imperialist” is presuming to lecture a Russian person about Russia. 

In that case, does it matter that he’s a Russian liberal, and that I disagree with him about practically everything? No, in this case, that doesn’t matter. He’s still fundamentally more knowledgeable about Russia than the Westerner who is presuming to lecture him.

When smug western liberals lecture Russian people about “freedom, democracy, human rights, etc,” and then make allegations about “kleptocracy, repression, indoctrination” in Russia, we quite rightly dismiss their critique as clueless and meaningless – they have no familiarity with the country they’re discussing. Without first-hand cultural familiarity, these words are just cheap, meaningless slogans. As a rule, foreigners should not lecture Russian people about Russia.

I’ve been here for four years, as I mentioned earlier. In that time, I’ve absorbed an immense amount of historical and cultural knowledge – but when it comes to discussing Russia itself, I still let the locals explain nuances to me rather than the other way round. Just as I should.

So, regardless of who’s on my ideological team and who isn’t, I would still have to apply this rule consistently – foreigners should not lecture Russian people about Russia.

Russia’s contingent of online advocates has a lot of intellectual talent at its disposal. This is one of the factors which continue to bring people around to the Russian perspective – Russophiles tend to be far more argumentatively reasonable and historically knowledgeable than Russophobes. When it comes to defending the Russian perspective online, idiots are surplus to requirements.

Padraig McGrath was born in the Republic of Ireland in 1973. He has lived in Britain, Germany and the Czech Republic, and has published journalism and commentary on social and philosophical issues for a number of media for 15 years. He moved to Simferopol, Crimea in December 2013, 3 months before Crimea’s re-unification with Russia, and still lives there.

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