Larison had another post on the Russia/Georgia conflict and more specifically an argument between Gleen Greenwald and Cathy Young. What I found interesting was this paragraph from Young:

When Cold War-era leftists pleaded for a more understanding view of the Soviet Union, they were at least arguing on behalf of a power that, despite its abuses, at least outwardly embraced many “progressive” ideals: free medicine, housing and education, extensive social services, secularism, women’s rights, relative social equality. The Putin/Medvedev Russia is the opposite of everything today’s left supports: It’s a land where billionaires flaunt their $20,000 watches and $350 million yachts, social services are slashed to a minimum, religion is entangled with the state, ethnic bigotry flourishes, labor unions are trampled, and homophobia is rampant and officially condoned.

So shouldn’t more conservatives be applauding Putin? Considering his popularity (and compare him to the American-praised but Russian-despised Yeltsin), he’s much more successfully pulled off something like Douthat & Salaam’s Grand New Party of Sam’s Club than I expect an American Republican to. Can any of them seriously say they think Putin has done a worse job of running Russia than Bush has of America? Instead most of them fall in line behind McCain. When the wars on Iraq and Terror were big in the news many on the right even claimed the mantle of liberalism/progressivism by denouncing the treatment of women and homosexuals in the lands of swarthy folk. Maybe Andrew Sullivan cared, but the rest just seemed to latch onto something they could bash lefties with. Although they’re hard to beat when it comes to anti-communism, at least there’s something revolutionary (and even modernist, though they may not like to admit it) about islamism, and around the 70s in Ba’athism, that would set off an allergic reaction in a Russell Kirk or Eric Vogelin. Putin’s Russia, in contrast, seems like China to be an ideology-free (they’ve had a hell of a mistake to learn from) regime intent on pursuing its national interest without regard for liberal niceties. What’s a conservative to object to without adopting liberal principles that would suggest even more blame for American foreign policy?

One of the things I like about Reason is precisely what Michael Blowhard hates: the contrarian trumpeting of tacky hedonist tech-liberationist materialism. I’m a frugal and boring guy myself, but as a philistine I find their assault on aesthetics appealing. So what is supposed libertarian Cathy Young doing complaining about the flaunting of wealth and slashing of social services (I don’t know if Putin actually did that, if so my hat’s off to him for violating my expectation of him only making moves he knows will be very popular)? And haven’t mainstream American libertarians from the New Deal onward (I don’t think Young is a fan of Kevin Carson) always disliked labor unions? Maybe I’m basing that too heavily on Radicals for Capitalism. As I recall it was just lefties who complained about us shunning one of the few secular anti-Sadaam forces in Iraq due to hosility to organized labor. While Ilkka Kokkarinen and Half Sigma stupidly blast the left for abandoning their Old Left concerns, the fact is that their opportunistic pro-unionism trumps their commitment to fair elections with secret ballots.

I recall one example of a conservative that seemed to have respect for the illiberalism of “The Other”. It was an Australian talking about how a former radical feminist had adopted the cause of the aborigines and pushed for the opposite of the policies she had previously favored for her European-descended countrymen precisely because she realized they were destructive to the culture. I might be misremembering and the author could have denounced the behavior traditional among aborigines but now I can’t find it even after doing searches on The Fourth Checkraise, which I think is how I found it.

UPDATE: Elizabeth, who betrays her gender through her reading habits alone, remembers the source.

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