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American Exceptionalism is Heretical

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By:Chronicles | March 12, 2015

Excerpts from Srdja Trifkovic’s latest interview with Mike Church on Sirius XM Satellite Radio

ST: The decision-makers in the Western capitals do not know history and they do not care about it. They believe that they operate in a totally new environment in which the examples of the past are not relevant to the actions of the present.

It is an extremely dangerous situation, because they genuinely believe it. I’d prefer the neocons, and Samantha Power and Susan Rice and other liberal interventionists to be cynical, to know the score and yet to act on the razor’s edge of marginal advantage in order to gain some geopolitical points. But no, they genuinely believe that it is indeed a whole new game that they are playing, that examples of the past don’t matter because their technology and their information networks make it possible to impose entirely new rules of the game. Well, it is not possible. We are looking at the old geopolitical equation of a hundred years ago: the tendency of the maritime powers – back then it was the British Empire, today it is the American empire – to treat every point in the world as the so-called vital national interest, and this leads to imperial over-reach...

A rational, American interest-driven policy would look at how does an issue affect us, how does it affect the lives of Americans in Oklahoma and in Texas? Whose flag will fly over Kiev’s Independence Square does not matter one iota. Imposing this puritan ideology of exceptionalism is in Christian terms heretical, because it implies that God has chosen some nations over others and made them immune to the laws of natural natural morality and just war theory.  On the other hand, it leads to material exhaustion, which ultimately does not yield any perceptible benefits…

MC: In your estimation, what does President Putin get right, and what does he get wrong?

ST: Putin gets right the need for the rejuvenation of national identity and faith. If you look at his Valdai Club speech in Sochi last fall, he stated it outright: that many Western nations are ashamed of their past, and calling their holidays euphemistic names so as not to “offend” others. Fundamentally, his idea of Russia as a Christian nation, which does not seek to conquer others but will defend its “near-abroad” against intrusion by a hostile power, is sound.

What he doesn’t get right is Russia’s resistance to the soft power of the West and its subculture. I’ve visited Moscow six times over the past year, and I can tell you that in all kinds of ways Russian television and media and Russian youth culture are permeated by Western nihilism and hedonism. I don’t think that he has succeeded in offering a long-term project of Russia’s cultural renewal. It is no good if you follow a strong line in defending national interests by political and military means, but in the cultural sphere your youth is still subjected to the same decay that has doomed the West to decrepitude and moral downfall.



Brock Henderson
Elk Grove, CA
3/12/2015 09:55 PM

  Ironically, America IS truly the most exceptional "nation" to ever grace the earth, the title of this entry notwithstanding. This country's elite establishment of power brokers is exceptional at hypnotizing its people with false and empty slogans, promises, and platitudes, while maintaining the state of hypnosis by saturating the country's economy with entertainment and manufactured goods.

robert m. peters
coushatta, louisiana
3/12/2015 11:58 PM

  I came be indirectly acquainted with Dr. Trifkovic when I first ventured upon Chronicles online several years back. I stumbled upon Mr. Mike Church, a fellow Louisianan, just a few weeks ago when I finally figured out how to run the satellite radio system in my car, a system which my good wife's. Mr. Church's voice was the first voice which I heard on the newly activated satellite radio. I listen to him every morning as I drive the 75 miles to work in Bossier City, Louisiana. I would later learn that Mr. Church seems to know many of the good folk at Chronicles and at the Abbeville Institute. That is all good, very good indeed. For about two years, I have been monitoring, as best someone in the backwoods of Louisiana can monitor, Russian and European news sites, including but not limited to Vineyard of the Saker, RT, Fort Russ, Col. Cassad, Novorossia, The Russian Insider, and Cross Talk which is a discussion show on RT. I have also listened to all of President Putin's speeches over the last 18 months which are available in English as well as those of Foreign Minister Lavrov. Dr. Trifkov's point about the cultural sphere is indeed the point. Based on what I have heard from Mr. Putin and Mr. Lavrov, they understand the the culture war; but I also believe that they understand that there are cultural institutions in Russian which must fight that battle, the primary one being the Russian Orthodox Church despite its flaws and troubles. I understand that men such as Alexander Dugin are controversial and even problematic; however, in an interview, Dugin stated the from his perspective the West was plunging into the abyss of post-modernity of its own will and that Russia, for the most part unwillingly, was being pulled into the abyss because Russians were just as corruptible as were Westerners. It is my sense that some Russian political and social leaders understand the cultural threat. Their struggle is how to deal with it.

Leo Hylan
3/13/2015 12:05 PM

  Yes. Impossible to rationally disagree with a word. Does the current war started by the West make a difference to Russia's "cultural sphere" ? The author seems doubtful. But who really knows. Maybe it will make a difference to everyone's "cultural sphere"....from Madrid to Moscow. Maybe not. But it's the only game in town. So on to Odessa.Perhaps Putin isn't the only player.

Leo Hylan
3/13/2015 02:13 PM

  And once last thought....everyone wants Dr. Trifkovic to go to Novorossiya. Would help with travel expenses, if called.

Harry Heller
San Francisco
3/14/2015 11:57 AM

  On another Trifkovic post, I asked the good scholar whether Putin was really a paleoconservative (of some kind), or simply a gangster who wanted a strong Russia because he stood at its head, and thus would himself be strengthened by extension. Dr. T did not really answer me. I would like him to now. What is the conservative traditionalist view of Putin? Good guy, or phony? It seems to me that a case can be made either way.


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