Michael Lucas is Done With Russia
BY Michael Lucas
October 11 2010 8:30 PM ET
Less obviously but more insidiously, violence is embedded in the rigid sense of hierarchy that dominates Russian society. Russia has always been a country where people bow to the ones above and kick the ones below. In czarist times, the hierarchy was determined by social rank. Under communism, it was rank in the party or at the workplace. And now it’s simply money.
I know no other place where the moneyed elite behaves with such lack of taste, shows off so tackily, and treats the poor so mercilessly and without respect. I had dinner in New York recently with a somewhat rich and very nouveau Russian acquaintance. He felt that the service was not up to par and commented about the waiter: “If this was Moscow, he’d be under the table shining my shoes.” By showing off how deeply you might be able to humiliate somebody, you prove how great your power is. Throw a diamond-encrusted Vertu telephone on the table and you become unassailable.
Rigid hierarchy (what an irony in a country that briefly went through the fiction of a classless society!) and rank intolerance of course go together: Any flaw will do to put the other down. And so the skinheads feel superior to the “fags” and bash and kill. Official numbers are never reported, but what I hear from my gay friends in Russia about antigay violence is staggering. And better gays hate the lesser gays.
The violence that simmers in Russia is not just about pecking order. The cruel beatings in kindergartens, schools, and universities, in police stations and military barracks, in the crumbling housing estates where the 90% of Russians live who haven’t made it into the gilded classes, are also driven by a pure sadism — pleasure in violence for its own sake. Just watch photos of policemen grinning with amusement while thugs beat up the gays “and give them what they deserve.”
This country will never become a democracy, not even an approximate one. Its core values simply don’t allow it. Intolerance shuts down dialogue, the obsession with hierarchy requires a strongman. Cruel people breed cruel leaders. From ruthless czars like Ivan the Terrible to ruthless communists like Stalin to ruthless dictators like Putin — there is an unbroken line of brutality and an almost religious adoration of the brutes. Unsurprisingly, Putin maintains an overwhelming approval rating.
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