Putin’s (Fifth) Ace in the Hole

…the engine common to Pre, Post, and Soviet Russia is an innate sense of singular greatness that obliges it to global preeminence. Aspiration, however, has exceeded ability, and in each period, the project has been thwarted. Kotkin thus traces the consequent pattern of conflating a leader, seen as able to realize this destiny, with the State itself. Polis-as-Person. Enter Lenin, Stalin, and Putin.

What’s often called, exceptionalism, is hardly unique to Russia, but its lineage to the Byzantine Empire, and self-designation as Third Rome, give Russian exceptionalism a hefty boost. A deck of cards has four aces. Here, a fifth has been slipped in. It’s the distorted claim to that Byzantine genealogy, and it’s the ace up Putin’s sleeve.

Some may be incredulous to learn this claim has a critical religious component. As to whether Putin himself believes in it, skepticism is due. About staking it, there should be no doubt. He’s deadly serious.

The political arrangement Mr. Putin has chosen to advance Russia’s ordained global role is rooted squarely in the Byzantine notion of symphony. In it, Crown and Cathedra support each other in Providential harmony. With it, the Russian project is powered by something infinitely greater than the earth-bound delusions of Karl Marx.

Timothy Kelleher, PUTIN: THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING WOULD RATHER BE GOD