A few days after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage throughout the US, a fairly (in)famous Russian TV presenter expressed his support for gay civil unions on the nation’s second biggest TV channel in front of a big projector screen blaring out “Love Works Miracles.”
No, he was not beaten up by skinheads with iron bars for his temerity live on air, nor was he fired, nor did anything happen to him whatsoever (which is surely shocking enough by itself for many Westerners). What is all the more surprising is the identity of this TV presenter: Dmitry Kiselev. He is a personality who has a highly chequered reputation in the West, reliably generating headlines with soundbytes about Russia’s ability to turn the US into radioactive ash and the necessity of burning the hearts of dead homosexuals. He is arguably regarded as being second only to Putin in terms of his godly powers in Ukraine, and has been sanctioned by the EU for being a “central figure” in Russian state propaganda.
And to hear him “come out” this way – “Love Works Miracles,” indeed. Snide jokes about his imminent gay marriage to Milonov inevitably follow. Even if he is serious, how exactly is Russian society – where support for gay marriage is at a mere 7% according to opinion polls, down by half from 15% just a decade ago – supposed to accept gay civil unions?
But far from being the raving firebrand and Slavic Glenn Beck that he is typically regarded as, Kiselev is in fact a fairly intelligent and urbane person who speaks four foreign languages, successfully cultivated ties with important people who didn’t necessarily share his ideological outlook – here is a photo of him serving fried potatoes to Poroshenko and Buzina, in nicer, older days – and overall, an able servant of the state who is ultimately paid to propagate its thoughts, priorities, and feelers.
This episode must force us to consider an unusual proposition: The granting of concessions to the Russian LGBT community, up to and including civil unions. So far as the Russian state is concerned, this is arguably both realistic and adaptive and might happen far sooner than one might otherwise imagine.
The first major point to bear in mind is that Russian attitudes towards homosexuality – as well as social conservatism in general – have always been far more functional than ideological and/or theological in nature. This might be a surprising assertion to some, but it is backed up by history. The Soviet state was the fourth major European country (France, the Ottoman Empire and Italy were first) to effectively decriminalize homosexuality in 1917, along with abortion. The “reactionary” ancien regime had been overthrown, and so too were its cultural and legal accoutrements to be consigned to the dustbin of history. This policy was sharply reversed by Stalin in 1933, when (male) homosexuality was once again made illegal. Despite the rhetoric, its goals were purely pragmatic: The Stalinist leadership was concerned about falling birth rates (which they ascribed to the liberal policies instituted under the Old Bolsheviks, including legal homosex and abortion), made especially germane due to the looming threat of war with Nazi Germany; and the latent homoeroticism of much of Nazi art and culture (compare Kameradschaft to Worker and Peasant Girl) coupled with the regime’s search for scapegoats made homosexuals an easy target. These policies were maintained after Stalinism, when homosexuality was associated with effete capitalist societies that had no place in a worker’s state. The USSR might have been Marxist, but it was by no means culturally Marxist (a fine point that oft happens to be lost on US conservatives).
Then the winds of history shifted, and sodomy was (re)decriminalized in 1993 – that’s ten years earlier than some US states, for context. In the absence of the state declining to take a strong position one way or the other, attitudes towards homosexuality steadily crept up well into the Putinist 2000s – albeit from a very low base. But then in 2012, Russian politics took a starkly conservative turn as Putin, following the mini-shocks of the 2011-12 elections protests, forsook the urbane and cosmopolitan class of Muscovite latte-sippers in favor of the “real Russia” of the Uralvagonzavod workers in the hinterland. The law against propaganda of homosexuality to minors was adopted in 2013. Locked in an increasingly bitter culture war with the West, which has now began not only embracing but actively weaponizing the international LGBT movement against its geopolitical foes – conventional wisdom must assess the prospects for LGBT rights in Russia as bleak for the foreseeable future.
Or maybe not. Here are the reasons:
(1) As per above, the Russian state’s policies on social conservatism are functional, not ideological. If the cost-benefit calculatinos change in a certain direction, so too will state policy. This is especially the case today since unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is an avowedly non-ideological state. When asked if Russia has a “national idea,” Putin replied, “For our children, our grandchildren, for our Motherland, Russia, it always was, is, and will be worth living for and creating for. What else is there? However we might try to come up with a national idea, it has to be said directly: There is nothing closer to someone than his family, his close ones, and his own country.” In other words, strident conservatism might be adaptive today – but tomorrow is another day.
(2) From a McCarthyite conspiracy theory, the US and Co. have managed to make Homintern into reality, highly intertwined with SJWs (with Buzzfeed as their flagship) and wielded with aplomb against countries unfriendly to the West (I suspect that as much has been written in the American MSM about Russia’s “persecution” of gays just in relation to the Sochi Olympics than about the totality of LGBT experiences in Saudi Arabia). What is all the more remarkable is that all this came together just a mere decade or so after the end of institutionalized discrimination against homosexuals in the US. This is no mean achievement and can be said without the slightest trace of irony.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all or even most homosexuals are now fully on board with Western imperialism. To the contrary, Manning and Greenwald plainly disprove that. The Russian LGBT movement as a whole has been highly subservient to Homintern, but this is neither a universal position nor even an entirely non-understandable one in the context of the Russian state’s turn against LGBT in the early 2010’s. For instance, Nikolay Alexeyev – a prominent leader in Russia’s gay movement – doesn’t like the West anymore than he does Putin, after he fell out with America’s Homintern (specifically John Aravosis and the AMERICAblog) because of their attacks on him following his refusal to toe their line calling for a boycott of the Sochi Olympics.
(3) To avoid falling behind the global Zeitgeist. If you can’t beat it – and let’s not kid ourselves, Russia objectively can’t – then join it on your own terms. As Razib Khan points out, it is the high IQ people who set policy – even in the US, the religious conservative types have next to zero influence over policy – and the great bulk of high IQ people in the West now support the gay agenda. This percentage is not going to diminish anytime soon. Like it or not, but opponents of gay marriage are going to find themselves increasingly surrounded by blithering idiots (Khanian qualifier: on average). And fat, drunk, and stupid – well, just fat and stupid, I’m talking about the US not Russia here – is no way to exert influence.
The counterargument is that the Western power is sinking anyway with the rise of BRICS, so why adapt to their world now of all times? Even if one insists on viewing it that way, though, it’s hardly an exclusively Western phenomenon. For that matter, two BRICS members – South Africa and Brazil – already have gay marriage.
As religiosity decreases, and it is decreasing virtually everywhere, tolerance for homosexuality and consequently support for gay marriage tends to rise. China and Russia are the only two major exceptions to this trend, due to their socialist legacy, but will they remain exceptions indefinitely? With the homosexuality = effete capitalists ideology now defunct, I wouldn’t bet on it in the longterm.
One concern for Russian conservatives might be that civil unions would be a slippery slope. To the contrary, evidence so far indicates that they are more of a line in the sand. It’s striking that Germany – a country far more socially liberal than the US, and which has had gay civil unions since 2001 – still doesn’t have gay marriage, while the US is fining bakers hundreds of thousands of dollars just for following their religious beliefs on homosexual unions. Americans can thank their pathetic cuckservatives for that, who spent many years slavering about the evils of gay marriage only to do a volte-face as soon as support for gay marriage crossed the 50% bar.
(4) One of the main purposes of traditionalism in Russia right now is as a foreign policy to consolidate the Near Abroad (e.g. Novorossiya) and undermine the NWO (e.g. Nazi conferences, support for Front National and Scottish independence – Europe, “The South will Rise Again!” – the US). The No Homo position is a consistent, if unnecessary, complement.
Why unnecessary? First, because consistency in foreign policy is overrated. Nobody pays anything but lip service to it. At various points since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US supported Chechen jihadists, its pet Moscow liberals, and literal liberal Nazis like Navalny – and the US is, after all, the country that invented the very concept of “color revolution.” Smart countries would do well to learn from the master. And I think some are doing just that. Today’s Russia supports both Left and Right, Syriza and the National Front, Occupy and Texas secessionists.
The naive view is that No Homo will be more of a draw in the Near Abroad, where society is just as or even more homophobic than in Russia. For instance, a mere 5% of Ukrainians support gay marriage. The problem? It’s about the 20th item on the typical Ukrainian nationalist’s list of priorities (Putin is #1-#3, Europe is #4). More so, in a country where street “lustrations” and Far Right thuggery are a daily occurence, with the police powerless to intervene, any Ukrainian knows that his country is in precisely zero danger of being overtaken by a gay mafia anytime soon. That is why Russian online trolling of Ukrainians about “Gayropean values” and how at this rate they would soon be marrying dogs to toasters is like water off a duck’s back.
In dealing with this… cult (see video above), that happens to worships Europe, what would be a guaranteed way to mindfuck svidomy skulls? To inflict unimaginable levels of butthurt amongst Maidanists? Adopting same-sex civil unions just like in (the very European countries like) Germany, Czechia, Croatia, and Estonia that they love and look up to so much.
(5) Conservatism has certainly been useful in restoring Russia’s 1990s-depleted patriotism levels and fertility rates, but were it to be taken much further, its overall utility will become questionable. One distant if not altogether impossible outcome is falling into genuine retarded obscurantism. This is currently faked in Russia, not least by characters like Kiselev himself, but as in the Borgesian fable, the map can become the territory.
This would cripple transhumanism in Russia along with associated technological vectors like indefinite life extension and superintelligence. Too “real” and self-sacrificing – or “passionate,” in the Gumilevian sense – a commitment to traditionalism would increase the risks of this scenario coming to pass. Starkes Herz, starker Stahl! Dudes with AKs or even Armatas would always end up getting wrecked by Googletopia’s drones, Belltower augs and NWO terminators.
A loosening of No Homo policies can be a useful and timely reminder to people not to take the Spiritual Braces (dukhovnye skrepy) too seriously.
Now for sure this must all remain speculation. But I do not think Kiselev’s announcement of his support for gay civil unions was entirely out of the blue, and as covered here, there are solid and logical reasons for why it might presage a deeper turn in Kremlin policy in the not too distant future. And though I wouldn’t take even odds on it, I do think it’s likelier that Russia will into homosex by 2020 than that the President’s first name is going to be to be something other than Vladimir or Sergey (Shoygu).
PS. To preempt any claims of opportunism: I have supported same sex civil unions with some of the rights and privileges of marriage since the early 2000s when I became politically aware and my position on that hasn’t changed substantially since even though I zigzagged ideologically quite a bit during this period. Searching my blog would confirm that at least for 2008. Ironically, this means in American terms that I went from being a raving liberal under early Bush to a hateful bigot redneck today.