The Return

The World through russian eyes

Why do Russians Hate Americans

with 29 comments

This is something that one of my New Zealand friends asked me about just a couple of days ago. I had to scratch my head and think. It is a hard question because I don’t hate America or Americans, in fact I think “hate” is a very strong word to throw it around lightly. To hate someone you have to have a very good reason indeed.

So, I went home and thought for a while trying to decide if the question actually makes sense… And having thought and looked around I would say that healthy majority of Russians don’t actually hate America but many (I think it is quite a significant number) now dislike it. The thing is that just 10 years ago most people in Russia actually liked America and thought of it to be a wonderful place to be. So what happened here. 

I am not claiming to be a major expert in political relationships so what I say below is mostly my own opinions based on personal experience, things I’ve read, watched and listened. I do believe this to be true but if you find some of my opinions contradictory let me know. Anyway, here it comes.

I think if you talk to Russians, you’ll find that majority feel that the countries of the West and especially America found it very convenient not to have a strong Russia after the break up of USSR. Some general details can be found in all knowing Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_post-Soviet_Russia. Many Russians believe that it was a huge mistake to let American advisers into the country to “help” with reforms. As a result of “shock therapy” the amount of stolen resources and goods during this time is just unbelievable. And many believe that many western companies profited from this. In any case no one came and helped when the country was in dire need.

Instead NATO was spreading to Russian borders while keeping it out at the same time. I don’t know if you are aware of that, but there was a deal made between Russia and the West (read USA) that NATO will not spread to the East. With Russia weak the deal was soon forgotten. Another fact, Russia actually asked to join NATO in 1991…

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html res=9D0CEED61731F932A15751C1A967958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all 

But this request was ignored while the adjacent countries were accepted in. So what does it tell Russians? That they are still considered if not an enemy, then an opponent. 

That followed by the chain of coloured revolutions supported by USA really made Russians feel rather uncomfortable. 

An example used in many articles circulating on the Net is the equivalent situation of having Russian weapons pointing at USA from, say, Mexico after the pro-Russian government is installed there. I think the reaction would have been very quick… 

Then we have the whole Iraq/Afganistan thing. The whole war was fought because of one reason – USA trying to secure oil supplies. I am sure there is more to it than that, but you have to be blind to believe that “establishing democratic government” was anywhere close to being the reason for that war. 

And if we look at the current situation, Pakistan was a safe enough place as long as it ran along with USA plans for the region, but as soon as its relationships with USA got colder and those with China warmed up we are having a nice little civil war coming up while American troops are attacking villages without sending any requests to Pakistani government. And if anyone is going to tell me that USA is trying to pursue anything but pure political interests in the region I will smile.

So, do you think that having all that going on adds to the feeling of love and respect towards United States? Not really. The divergence between the “democratic knight in shining armour” and the oil drenched political reality are so obvious that only a true American patriot is not going to see it.

Now, Georgia was yet another example of the same approach. I am not going to go into it now, but will instead do some translations of political analytics from Russian side later. I have to say, I do not believe in Russian altruism on this matter any more than in American idealism but I do believe America is at fault for meddling in the areas of the world that it has interests in and not tidying up after itself. The war in Georgia is a result of such “remote meddling” exercises.

But anyway, these are all political and economic grievances that Russia and Russians have against the USA and the West. There is also a whole other layer to this – cultural issues. There is that funny thing about most humans and most countries. Everyone always believes that their way is the best.

If you go to China, they will tell you “Look our way is so good. With our hard control over the economy and the people we can achieve so much and so fast.” And they will be correct at that.  They do manage to achieve a lot at a very low cost. And people in the country are very patriotic and are ready to fight anyone who would come and change it for the sake of “democracy”. I’ve discussed this with many Chinese with whom I had luck to study and work together in the past. Majority admit that there are still problems, but MANY actually go back while pretty much ALL are proud of their country. So they gotta do something right in China to instill people’s loyalty. It can’t be all brainwashing, a lot of it is tradition and culture. 

Now look at Europe. To me this place was a childhood dream. A birthplace of western civilization, diverse cultures that learned to co-exist with each other over the turbulent years of past centuries. But I’ve read it often enough from American journalists that European democracy is not “democratic enough”. That it puts too much emphasis on government support, shorter working hours, bureaucracy, which makes it less effective.

If you look at USA itself, you’ll find that there is a huge separation between people and decision makers. The lobbying and donations is the standard way to win the elections and in the end interests of big businesses run it all. At the same time health-care system is pretty dodgy (unless you are rich) and the crime rate is rather high. 

My point is that every system has a right to exist if it is capable of competing and is able to stand against others in our complex interconnected world. And when I look at Russia I don’t see a horrible totalitarian state that West/America is trying to portray. I see huge areas of land that are very hard to control through democratic means. In place like that quick switch to democracy equals corruption decay and collapse. As a patriot who loves his country I do not want this to happen as you wouldn’t either. So I shake my head and say that democracy that West is trying to force on Russia will not work for quite some time, just as Communism didn’t. First the corruption has to be eliminated, the supporting infrastructure has to be build and people need to get used to the idea. And even then, it may not be what people will want. And this is exactly my point.

People are complex and they don’t want the same things. Or rather they do, but ideas may mean different things in different places. In Russia many think that Western obsession with hard rules makes people dull. It is like living in a glasshouse where all nutrients are provided and all you need to do is eat, sleep, work and have kids. To Russians such life without this extra “extremeness” is plain boring.  Majority of my Russian friends and colleagues who routinely travel to Europe and into USA on assignments and on holidays believe that although western system provides security (rule of the law) it does not leave much space for anything outside the square. 

I will give you one example. In Russia they widely sell gauze which is used in all sorts of applications starting from pickling and making cottage cheese and finishing with baby nappies and wound bandages. Now in the West, an average person will have to buy 10 different things “specially designed” for each individual task. So, someone put some creative thought into it and made money, but majority is just stupidly consuming it. So, to someone coming from Russia it feels extremely stiff. You need to have hundreds of items that you could live without back home. 

I am just telling you this to give a perspective on cultural diversity. The thing that Russians (and I in particular🙂 ) dislike the American culture for is unipolar globalization of the world. You may say “The world wants it” but the truth is the world doesn’t have a choice and American politics is trying to ensure that it stays that way.

Mc Donalds is not great but it is everywhere, same comes for all the other stuff. It is not great, it is just convenient/easy to digest and the worst is that USA has enough power to spread throughout the world uncontained. I am all for globalization in general (sharing ideas, lifestyles etc), but I think everyone should have the right to keep their own literature, music, art. I personally think that Americanization of the world is quite bad, just as bad as Russification or Chinafication or Germanofication whould be. The world has to be diverse and the differences should be respected.

This doesn’t mean that there will be no conflicts, but conflicts get resolved. What should be avoided is a self righteous “holier than thou” attitude which is so common in USA.

Written by severyanin

September 9, 2008 at 12:42 pm

29 Responses

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  1. I totally agree with everything you said there and I couldn’t have said it any other way myself. I wish world leaders would think the same way. I’m sure you might have heard of this before but just encase you haven’t you might find it interesting. I did. Heres the link

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7065205277695921912#

    I’m Irish and married to a Belorussian women. I have spent a year over there on and off and would you believe they have a high standard of free health (including dental), education, land for all it’s citezens to build a house on and grow crops. In a way it’s like a social demorcat system. The west say the leader there Lukashanka is a dictator as he had the opposition leader jailed (for accepting funds from America therefore forien investment in Belarussian politics) and he refused to join NATO. All he’s doing as far as I can see is upholding the Belarussian constitution and that can’t be a bad thing. There are many western countries that can’t claim free health and education to the same standard as Belarus. There might not be any money over there but people have everything they need and most peiople are very happy with their leader. The only people who are not happy are the wealty people paying high taxes and most people who want more and more for themselves will never be happy anyway. Anyway I enjoyed your views very much. Thanks

    Derek O'Hara

    November 12, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    • Thanks for your comment. It’s been awhile since I wrote something. Life was just too hectic lately, but it is great to know that there are people who share my views.

      severyanin

      November 20, 2009 at 12:18 am

  2. Much respect for this post.
    Couldn’t explain better to my American friends than you just did.

    Will share amongst all of my brainwashed American friends. Good stuff. Thank you!

    Best wishes & Happy New Year!
    Dmitry (aka pmf026).

    Dmitry

    December 30, 2009 at 7:31 am

  3. What does the average Russian think about the US lead war in Afghanistan? Are you laughing yet? I don’t know much about it but I know Russia faught with Afghanistan what was all that about and how do you feel about the US helping the Afghans who are apparently the same people we are fighting now. I don’t get that, can you explain that to me?

    james Ian

    February 13, 2010 at 10:41 am

    • Personally I thought it was pretty crazy to start. Too bad they started this mess. I will try to find time to write more about it later.

      severyanin

      December 2, 2010 at 4:13 pm

  4. the russian hate american because America is the world leader and it dollars always strong and used worldwide. it’s as simple as that.

    ramzi

    August 11, 2010 at 6:58 am

    • no,ramzi, the American dollar in NOT strong. It hasn’t been in quite a long time. Where have you been?

      kooky

      February 2, 2011 at 4:25 am

  5. It seems to me the subject is more about Russians so I’m going to put my perspective on them. US has tons of issues but it’s a topic of a different discussion.

    Also, I’d like to point out that I’m aware people are different and we can judge the entire nation. Nevertheless, I think I’ll be hitting 80/20 rule with my observation.
    To begin with, Russians “dislike” EVERYONE!!! USA currently is the most prominent empire, that’s why it’s particularly visible. They also dislike Europeans (Germans, French, British, etc), Jews, and former Soviet nations. They call all Asians nothing but “slant-eyes”; blacks are “monkeys”, etc.

    Russians have always hated superior or more developed nations and befriended inferior ones. Why? First, they have a need to be a “Big brother”, an opposition to the West.
    Second, an enemy of an enemy is my friend. As long as a nation is an adversary to the more superior western conglomerate, Russia will be their ally (they would despise them too, but hate for the West is much greater). Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea are good examples.

    Russians believe in their own extraordinary destiny in this world. They’re proud of their self-proclaimed “mysterious Russian soul”, they think they smarter and better adapt. They have no respect for authority, breaking a law or cheat the system would be considered clever (that’s why they called Americans stupid).
    At the same time it’s a very indecisive population, having difficulties managing it’s own affairs. They afraid and loathe change and aggressive towards different cultures or customs. Tolerance and acceptance are pejorative terms for Russians. They want to be led and taken care for by a strong leader, a czar or an oppressor. Also, as a result, religious influence is extremely high, almost as high as in Muslim countries.
    They will always have the same attitude toward everyone until they become the dominant empire. Hopefully, not soon

    Vlad

    December 2, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    • What are you talking about? Ruskies are not friends to North Koreans, only to South (because of Starcraft 2), also most people don’t consider church seriously.

      Some guy

      July 29, 2011 at 4:52 pm

  6. Severyanin. I am American and I wanted to let you know that I found your article touched on some very good points.

    Not all Americans behave, act and think like the Americans the world is often exposed to. I am sure that there are many things that we as Americans are not aware that our country is up to. The hope of our government is that it’s people are far too lazy and/or selfcentered to look for information outside of the United States media. 99% of the time that is true. We are.

    Don’t get me wrong I love my country, but I will say that at times it’s government concerns me as it often acts without the knowledge or concent of its citizens.

    I found it interesting that you mentioned the separation between the people in the USA and the decision makers. You are correct again. Technically our votes do not count (there are many reasons for this that I wont get into) but that is the reason that so many people don’t vote, because it doesn’t make a difference. Which puts us in an interesting position, even though some of us do not agree with what our Country is up to, or how it goes about accomplishing certain objectives, there is not much any one of us can do about it, except make a sign and stand on the street corner and be ignored.

    I could appologize for some of our behavior but I don’t think that is going to do much good either.

    Stay away from McDonald’s that stuff will kill you!

    Julia

    April 26, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    • Hmmm… Actually, I couldn’t say better myself if I was talking about Russia. Cheers.

      severyanin

      May 19, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    • I live in Russia and I don’t vote too.

      Some guy

      July 29, 2011 at 4:54 pm

  7. It began with Stalin propaganda, his idea was that America is ideology enemy, also people are envy because consumer goods and houses are better in USA.

    Personally I don’t hate them, I’d like our country learn from USA, and from Europe countries.

    Some guy

    July 29, 2011 at 4:46 pm

  8. I agree but im american.. n i find alot of russains sexy lol but i guess when they realize that im american they look at me with disgust

    isabel

    January 25, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    • I have found when people look at me with disgust it has more to do with the contents of which comes out of my mouth and less to do with my point of origin. Just saying

      Julia

      February 22, 2012 at 7:31 pm

  9. Hmmm…interesting. I wish Obama could see the whole “Iraq” thing. America’s not bad at all, it has world’s strongest economy, world’s only stable government, most technically advanced military. Heck America saved the Allies butts twice-WW1 and WW2. Also we attacked Iraq for two main reasons: Iraq was attacking Israel, the American’s closest ally; and revenge for the 9/11 terrorist attack. I’m American, and I’m very proud of it. People say the American flag is flown everywhere because of extreme patriotism, wrong, it’s U.S. law that government businesses have to fly the flag on their property. Britian’s full of anti-American snobs, Iran is full of idiots, and Russia is basically our equal in strength. I have a Russian friend and he is very kind, I do not dislike Russians, they deserve respect. And so do the Americans (although they never get any). STUPID BRITS! I KNOW YOU HATE US! YOU WANNA FIGHT? YOU REALLY WANNA GET SQUASHED? Argh! Oh, yeah; for all of you American haters, we dropped a 2 nukes on Japan because it was either that or half a million men dead, blame it on Japan. They didn’t surrender when they should’ve, they would have saved themseves two cities.

    American

    May 14, 2012 at 8:07 am

  10. I am an American and I would rather have Putin than Obama

    Osama Obama

    July 16, 2012 at 5:20 am

    • I suggest you move to Russia, although Putin is not the official leader, we all know Mededev is his puppet.

      Lu Chan

      November 23, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      • Well, actually I did. Can’t say it is all good here, but it is worth it🙂.

        severyanin

        November 24, 2012 at 5:57 am

  11. Your points hit the nail on the head. It’s funny, I read this while watching “Doomsday Preppers” as a guy was building a huge bunker to save himself from Russians haha. I’ve always agreed that America’s “big bad tough guy” attitude was our biggest problems in International Relations with foreign countries. Also, something to note for the future is that old grudges held against America and Russia could fade as the current younger generation gets older. The upcoming younger generation (at least in America) tends to be more forgiving and open minded….but we’ll see.

    Greg

    December 9, 2012 at 9:33 pm

  12. I have a simple Idea, why not we should build a nuclear, and FUCKinG BLOW OUR SELVES!!!! there wont be racism,fucking democranisisissisisim and this fucking ism’s, woho!!!!!

    President Barack Obama

    March 1, 2013 at 4:42 pm

  13. America would be a great place, if its inhabitants weren’t so harmful. It’s hard to change them, of course, because of how much they think of themselves. Their behavior ruins everything. I guess there is a lot more that’s off-putting in the US as well, but if they could curb their harmfulness a little, they might be able to score more points in the eyes of the world. That’s why so many people are afraid of Americans, or “Americans” rather, because they act like dictators – controlling, domineering, patronizing…simply harmful. And that’s unpleasant and disgusting!!! Harmful, harmful, harmful….If they could just acquire some self-consciousness of their actions, they would look much better, and many more great things would be possible to accomplish in the US. They just need to get this once and for all….

    Russian Girl

    March 17, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    • Here is the thing. We don’t just treat foreigners or new comers like crap. We treat everyone like crap including each other. The experiences you’ve had with horrible Americans doing horrible things to you and treating you like you are a worthless piece of crap, we American’s have the same experiences with our own kind. I could give you several examples from just today and it’s only 12:16pm. We can spend the rest of our lives analyzing the psychology behind why people treat other people like crap typically it boils down to somewhere in the ball park of insecurity and fear. Regardless, I don’t think it’s just Americans that are guilty of this. I’m pretty sure people are people no matter where you go. Governmental structure, nationality, religious affiliation, race, ethnicity doesn’t matter all the much at the end of the day. Add the human element to anything and it’s bound to get screwed up. Human beings are destructive by nature. We Americans can’t change people any more than you can change people. We all have our own free will. We decide how we are going to behave, how we are going to be affected by things, and what we want to do. Complaining about other people and the poor choices they make doesn’t change a thing and never will. If you find a person’s behavior awful then make sure you don’t behave that way. If you find someone’s choices to be terrible then don’t make those same decisions. If you hate it when people are treated badly then make sure you don’t treat people badly. Otherwise you’re just as big a part of the problem then the person and things you are complaining about. You attract what you put out. If you are projecting a negative, mean, bitter worldview then that is exactly what you are going to get from everyone else, because that is what you are putting out there. If you want something different it starts with you. You are the only person and thing you have the power to control. By the way, not all of us are awful. I’m sure we all have our moments but some of us are alright.

      Julia

      April 22, 2013 at 4:28 pm

  14. Definitely, America would be a much better place, if people living on the territory of the US had the capacity to create a livable environment in that country. It’s not just constructive criticism on part of someone, who lives there and is treated as if they live outside the US. It’s something everyone should be entitled to, no matter who they are. not all people want the US to be destroyed for some superficial reason. Some actually hate it for being a place where you can’t even have a decent life. That’s the problem. Seriously, the set-up is awful..Major changes are required. This will reduce hostility in many people, who are literally being slaughtered there.

    Russian Girl

    March 17, 2013 at 11:25 pm

  15. You know that the US was called “America” 200 years ago as well, when none of the people who currently populate it were there with all their stuff….Something to think about there. May be the current occupants of the US should realize that thinking too much of themselves and calling themselves ‘America’ is kind of pointless….

    You go back!

    March 18, 2013 at 12:01 am

  16. Yeah…don’t think that America is impossible without you idiots!!!

    Jane

    March 18, 2013 at 12:03 am

  17. I understand why other countries hate the US government but that’s no reason to hate the people in this country I’m an American and I can’t stand my own government but its not like the people have the power to tell their government what to do and what not to do…

    Jay Enders

    April 21, 2013 at 10:33 pm

  18. I am an american I love the country not the government. I wish we would focus on our neighbors more than someone else’s. I think china usa and Russia should stabilize there regions and prevent war. We should work together and forget the past aggression. I mean the us helped china recover from ww2. Yet they forget that. I think usa china and Russia should focus on regionalization. Hatred arrogance and greed are not good reasons for war.

    Mack

    February 16, 2014 at 1:42 am

    • i do agree with mack. i live in the uk and ex armed forces. nato should not be pushing the russians. we have to be friends. there’s a job to do.

      colin

      June 30, 2014 at 6:24 pm


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