What’s Behind Russia’s Revival of a Soviet-Era Song Contest?

Russia will revive the Cold War-era Intervision Song Contest this October, according to July 25 reports.

Intervision was first established back in 1977 as a direct rival to the Europe-oriented Eurovision Song Contest. Few people in the participating Soviet nations had private telephones, so Intervision’s television viewers would turn on their house lights if they liked a certain song, or off if they didn’t. The state energy company would then record the size of each power spike, and report the results to the television company to determine points for each contestant. As the Soviet Union began to weaken in the early 1980s, Intervision was discontinued.

Now, Putin is reviving this relic of the Soviet Union’s “glory days,” as he recently has with so many others including a military prep fitness program, the “Hero of Socialist Labor” award, and a grip on domestic media that would earn a hat tip from Comrade Stalin himself.

All these moves serve Putin’s general purpose of resuscitating the Soviet Empire. But this latest one—reviving the song contest—also serves another specific purpose.

An Alternative to ‘Abomination’

Russia entered Eurovision this year, and lost to an openly booing crowd. The audience was not criticizing the Russian contestants’ singing, but their country’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. More important than the hostile treatment Russia endured was Eurovision’s 2014 winner: a bearded drag queen from Austria going by the name Conchita Wurst.

The Russian Orthodox Church, an increasingly close ally of Putin’s, went a step further. It called Wurst an “abomination” and said the Eurovision win represented “one more step in the rejection of the Christian identity of European culture.”

What’s the solution to the decadence of Europe and Eurovision? In Putin’s view, it is Russia and the strictly “straight” Intervision. He said his decision to revive it was basically a protest to the collapsing morality of Europe and the United States. “For us it is important to reaffirm traditional values,” Putin said of Intervision’s revival.

It is the latest of many steps he is taking to portray himself, and Mother Russia, as lone defenders of traditional family values in a world led by a morally bankrupt West.

In December, Putin said, “Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.”

In all of this, Putin is tapping into the deep-rooted abhorrence that many around the world feel toward the West’s embrace of promiscuity, divorce, feminism, pornography, homosexuality, abortion and so on. But as he portrays Russia as the righteous answer to the West’s embrace of godlessness, he also invokes divinity regarding Russia’s expansionism. “May God judge them,” Putin said after annexing Crimea in March, in words directed at the “Bolsheviks” who gave the peninsula to Ukraine decades ago.

History teaches that there is no more potent or dangerous force to sway populations toward a geopolitical aim than religion. This remains true in the modern world: Religion is at the heart of the myriad of ongoing conflicts in Africa and the Middle East; it is the main factor motivating Iran’s provocative foreign policy; and, believe it or not, it is even the coalescing force behind the seemingly secular European Union.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Russia is taking steps to harness the deluding persuasiveness of religion in order to promote its geopolitical agenda.

For more on the coming conflict between Russia and Europe, read “The Rise of Asia.

Full article: What’s Behind Russia’s Revival of a Soviet-Era Song Contest? (The Trumpet)

One response to “What’s Behind Russia’s Revival of a Soviet-Era Song Contest?