Staunton, March 22 – “Patriotism has become so officious and insincere that it has begun to be rejected” by Russians, especially given that those officials who are promoting it are presiding over a situation in which Russians are living far worse than they did, according to Moscow political analyst Abbas Gallyamov.
His comments came in reaction to a Levada Center poll showing Russians are far less interested in the Russian past, including even the much-ballyhooed Great Fatherland War, than they were only a year ago and that the number saying they are not interested in the country’s history at all has doubled since 2016 from seven to 15 percent (znak.com/2017-03-22/rossiyane_stali_menshe_interesovatsya_istoriey_velikoy_otechestvennoy_voyny).
Indeed, other experts say, the Putin regime’s reliance on the Great Fatherland War as a unifying force is failing. Political analyst Nikolay Mironov says that that conflict “interests already less than half of Russians given that as a result of the increasing time since its end, the events of the war have passed into the realm of myths.”
And in presenting its commentary on the Levada Center poll, the New Chronicle of Current Events leads with the following quotation, one that must certainly disturb those in the Kremlin who think that their version of patriotism is sufficient to fill the vacuum left by the absence of an ideology at a time of social and economic stress.
According to the New Chronicle, patriotism in Russia today has become “a clear and well-argued explanation of why we must live worse than others” (ixtc.org/2017/03/rossiyane-uzhe-ustali-ot-patriotizma/).
In another reflection about this poll, Moscow commentator Arkady Babchenko says “in fact, Russians are not proud of anything. Russia is a country with an absolutely Soviet mentality: close your eyes and pass by. Always. Give out the impression that you didn’t see anything” and say whatever the powers want you to (echo.msk.ru/blog/ababchenko/1948348-echo/).
And that reflects a deeper problem: Russia is “a country which is not capable of sympathy and therefore is no capable of being proud. Pride is always tied up with shame. And if you are incapable of feeling shame, you will not be capable of feeling pride either.”
As a result of Stalinism, Russians were reduced to a state of “’moral idiotism’” or even suffered “’moral castration,’” Babchenko says. “Since that time, Russia has been a country of cynics who spit on both shame and pride.” That is because they know that all they are told is mythical – and they thus suspect the worst.
Sometimes it may seem that national myths are useful in uniting the nation, but “this isn’t so. Myth [at that level] is always dangerous,” he continues. The myth about St. Vladimir led to the Crimean Anschluss. “The myth about the Aryans and the untermenschen led to Auschwitz. The myth about the 40 hooris led to ISIS.”
Moreover, “the myth that George Bush had a brain le to the Iraq war, and that in turn led to millions of refugees.” And the myth about cyborgs at the Donetsk airport” led to other disasters that could and should have been avoided, Babchenko says.
Germany became great “only after it was forced over the course of 20 years to return” from the world of myths to the world of reality. The same thing will have to happen in Russia as well. That is the only way it can be cured of its current disastrous situation, Babchenko suggests; but he adds that the process will be far from painless.