Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Russian Fundamentalism is the Ideology of Putin and His People, Pavlova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 5 – Irina Pavlova, a US-based Russian historian, has often called “Russian fundamentalism” the ideological foundation of Vladimir Putin’s regime and the reason why his overarching vision in this regard ensures him overwhelming support by a wide swath of the Russian population at the present time.

            On the occasion of the Day of National Unity, she provides a succinct definition of what she has in mind. It merits extensive quotation (ivpavlova.blogspot.com/2018/11/blog-post.html#more).

                The current ideology of the Kremlin involves a commitment to “traditional Russian great power, cleansed from communism and dressed up in Orthodox clothing.” Its basic proposition, that “Russia is surrounded by enemies and must assert its status as a great power in the world” has the support of “the majority of the population” even if some object to this or that policy.

            “In Soviet times, the most consistent representative of this great power approach and state nationalist was Stalin.”  That provided him with support and it provides Putin with support as well.  Russians as a nation are “prepared for hours to speak about the greatness of Russia, its unique spirituality, and its special feeling for justice in contrast to the mercantilist West.”

            Attachment to this idea of Russia as a great power “unifies the powers that be, the elite, the people of Russia and also a significant part of ‘progressive society’” whatever the last may say about Putin’s specific actions or policies.  He knows that even if they often do not recognize the fact.

            This Russian obsession with great power-ness had its beginnings in the idea of “’Moscow as the Third Rome,’” an idea formulated in the early 16th century. “For centuries of its existence, this idea has been transformed into an ideology and today after the Day of Victory has been confirmed as the foundation of Russian national consciousness, it is completely appropriate to speak already about Russian fundamentalism.”

            According to Pavlova, its basic features are on public view: the notion that “the Russian people is a state-forming people and the bearer of a unique morality and unique feeling of justice,” “a rejection of the West because of its lack of spirituality as a model of social development,” “its vision of the future Russia as a unitary centralized state and as an empire, and “confidence in its special historical role.”

            Putin promotes all these ideas as can be seen by anyone who reads his speeches over the last week alone.

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