Thursday, October 17, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Russia Again Caught Between Disintegration and Dictatorship, Editor Says

Paul Goble

Staunton, October 17 – The Russian Federation finds itself in a Zugswang, a German term for a situation in which any move leads to a loss, according to the editor of “Kulturolog.” And in its case, the situation is especially dire because the country increasingly finds itself forced to choose between disintegration and dictatorship.

In an article entitled “Between Wahhabis and Storm Troopers” on the portal yesterday, Andrey Karpov says that his conviction on that point has only grown and that if Russia continues to develop as it is the range of choices will continue to narrow and there will be no good choices left (

Nowhere is this more true than with regard to what Russians call “the nationality question.”  One “wall” of this narrowing corridor consists of migrant workers. It isn’t bad that they have come; it is tragic that they have come so quickly and in such numbers that they cannot hope to be assimilated or adapted.

But even “the presence of national enclaves” would not be so bad for Russia if they were “formed by the cultural nucleus of other nations.”  Unfortunately, Karpov argues, those who come are cut off from their own national cultures in many cases, and once in Russia, they represent an increasingly primitive and even “barbaric” stratum.

This can be seen, he suggests, is the attitude of many migrants to Islam.  They are most attracted to forms of that world religion that “do not require any spiritual or intellectual efforts but simply repeat the usual passions, in particular, a feeling of superiority of ‘the true believers’ over ‘the unbelievers.’”

“As a result,” the editor says, “we have not simply barbarism” but an aggressive group of people who justify their anger by identifying with Wahhabism, “a doctrine which legitimizes aggression.”

From certain points of view, their behavior looks like “an attack by the periphery on the metropolis, precisely like the one that led to the fall of Rome.”  Indeed, Karpov says, “today Russia risks repeating the fate of the Western Roman Empire” if it doesn’t address the danger that this “barbarism” represents.

But in dealing with that “wall” that is closing in on Russia, Russians “must not forget about the other wall of this corridor,” a wall that is also rapidly closing in on the country.  It consists of “domestic barbarism,” of those who argue that Russians must take up arms and repress the threat they see arising from migrants.

This wall is typically called “’’Russian’ nationalism,” Karpov continues, but there is little or nothing genuinely “Russian” about it. Like a mirror image of the migrants, those who call themselves Russian nationalists or are labeled such by others lack a deep attachment to their nation and to its religion.

For most of them, “Orthodoxy is understood superficially” and involves wearing a cross at most.  They have little understanding of Russian history or its culture, and as a result, “the model of the behavior of such ‘Russian’ nationalists is international,” a kind of intensified barbarism which resembles “Hitlerite fascism.”

“Under normal conditions,” Karpov says, such nationalism would not find support among many Russians, but given the barbarism of the immigrants and “when neither the authorities nor society can offer any other mechanisms to counter the threat of losing everything – national identity, the country and even life itself, the easiest solution becomes the most in demand.”

But the rise of this kind of nationalism, however much it may justify itself by reference to the behavior of the migrants, carries its own risks. If it triumphs, then the immigrants will cease to be the dominant feature on Russian streets. Instead and in many ways even more disturbingly, they will be pushed aside by the march of “storm trooper.”

Unless the country changes course, the editor argues, the choice between “the collapse of the Russian metropolis or ‘a Russian dictatorship’ with each day is becoming ever more inevitable.”  Very little time remains to find the move which will get Russia out of this Zugswang and the disasters it points to.

No comments:

Post a Comment