my country tis of thee! do you know what russia is!

It’s funny. When you’re in the United States, you never think of yourself as living in a ‘nation;’ you never have the sense that this is one country among hundreds. Even when you refer to it with words like ‘this country is going to shit’ or ‘what the hell is going on here?’ you don’t really, admit it, consciously think of some neighboring country to compare the situation to. Unless you’re parents migrated, or you came on a VISA (or without documents, because our immigration system is so fucked right now) you pretty much never have to think of yourself as primarily American.

You’re just an individual. There is no cultural/social/political category that is relevant. Quote-unquote ‘normal’ Americans never have to think of themselves as Americans. You’re ‘white’ or ‘black’ or ‘asian’ or ‘latinx,’ but the American part is sort-of, how should I say, a formality. There is of course no other country to specify America against.

It’s like a color we don’t see or an idea we’ve never heard of.

Canada is the United States with a different paint job. Mexico has been brutalized and oppressed, the lies covered over with racist propaganda and the truth erased from the history books- the first sign of America’s complete insanity is the way it talks about Mexico. But ‘normal’ Americans don’t think about any of that.

The United States is the country. Right? Right?

I’ve been living somewhere, far far away, from the United States, where Vladimir Putin is a capital-H Hero and Russia is the Big Boy in the neighborhood. I mean, there are American embassies in every city and American pop music in every ear and American cars on every street and American fashion on every body and English in every mouth, but Russia is really the historical ally, the brother.

So it’s funny to me to read all the American newspapers, while living in a different context. What do we really even know about Russia? About Putin? There are other newspapers, you know, besides the Guardian, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. (And maybe the BBC if you’re really ‘aware.’ Oh yeah- England is just Olde America. It’s not really a different place.)

We talk about Putin pretty frequently here. He’s the Boy.

First of all, Putin is not a ‘dictator.’ He was democratically elected with a huge percentage, more than Obama, and certainly more than the shitface shmuck real-estate reality-tv star who runs America, Inc right now.

Putin (and Russia more broadly, and the whole wider world) is Not Communist. America, stop fretting, there are no more communists left in the world. Maybe like 3 or 4 in Cuba. Maybe. China is an interesting case, but certainly not communist, not in the Utopian, theoretical dream sense.

Putin, generally, has no ideology, which I certainly don’t intend as a compliment. Basically, he’s a male version of Angela Merkel. This may surprise you, American, after being force-fed all the Russophobia lately. Yes. Putin is a beige technocrat pragmatist, who does anything to stay in power and stay popular, which includes, sometimes, doing a little of what people actually want. Which is Good. That’s Democracy.

Putin is actually better than Merkel and Macron and (fucking definitely) Trump in a lot of ways. He is corralling the Russian Tycoons, sort of, reigning in their worst excesses. He ensures that Russian citizens have free education, free (with a symbolic price) healthcare, clean streets, electric metro trains, a nice little Silicon Valley thing going on in Petersburg, nice organized and green cities. Their democracy was basically copy and pasted from the United States (rather more superimposed and layered over the existing society). In fact, Putin wants to emulate the American system further, because it is easy to triangulate (force people to ‘choose’ between two nominally different, substantially similar parties- Coke or Pepsi?) and stay in power.

Yes. Putin is Merkel with less neoliberalism. Russia is of course not a member of NATO and does not partake in any of our wars. The worst thing we can charge Russia of doing is only a projection of the least of our own crimes. Electioneering? Purely American. Hacking? Ask the CIA. Supporting foreign, repressive dictators? Talk to the Saudis, google Pinochet. Repressing protestors? Reserving armies of cheap (or slave) labor? We have two options! Either off-shore to a Free Trade Zone (the fuck is a Foxxcon?) or talk to a member of an oppressed race or ethnicity. Don’t be afraid, American. They’re American too.

Uncle Sam, Papa Putin. Whatever. What hysteria. How is it so unbelievable that America would elect such a man to office? Like, how can you take one look at the average American city, and think ‘Nawhhh! This is a Good, Righteous Place. We’re better than that!’ It’s easy to want to keep believing in the day dream, that America is God’s country, or whatever. We couldn’t possibly fall for such trickery and showmanship!

But that’s the American way baby! reality TV! Don’t put the blame on Putin, friends, look in the mirror instead (:

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