Staunton, December 13 – Russia didn’t succeed in modernizing itself, Sergey Shelin says; instead, “on all fronts, archaic forms and values are triumphing;” and Russia is achieving ever greater “successes in the construction of feudalism” and the promotion of ignorance as a value to the point that one can speak of the formation of “an integral and mature system.”
In a strikingly bitter commentary yesterday, the Regnum observer suggests this is shown by the statements of Russia’s leaders and even more by the reaction of ordinary Russians, a reaction that he says cannot be blamed on the work of Kremlin-controlled media alone (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2015/12/12/1470681.html).
Vladimir Putin speaks about the possible use of nuclear weapons, but his words “do not generate any societal concern.” He transforms Turkey from a friend to an enemy overnight, and Russians accept this “new reality if not with delight then with understanding. More corruption at the top is revealed and Russians react not with anger but “with philosophical calm.”
Moreover, Shelin says, when there is there is a “grandiose” commemoration of the death of two soldiers in Syria and “almost a complete absence of such in connection with the loss of 220 citizens” in the airliner downed by terrorism, no one in Russia appears to think that something is amiss.
Are all these things “normal?” he asks. Twenty years ago, a media manager in Moscow said that Russian was experiencing “a broad normalization of all sides of its life.” But “now,” Shelin continues, that individual “lives in another country and about his old motherland responds in an extremely skeptical way.”
Now, “normalcy” in Russia is “precisely what was earlier considered madness,” a shift that cannot be blamed on the work of the government’s propaganda machine alone. There is no monopoly of information if people will take the time to use the Internet which is “still open” or to think about what they are being told.
These “changes” in Russia lie deeper and form a whole system,” Shelin says. “The signs of feudalism with its monarchical spirit, with the revelry of the bosses of all levels and the conversion of the rest of the population into a mass of individuals reduced to the lowest status already were visible a long time ago.”
“But now feudalism has won out also in people’s souls. Whether this will last a long time or not is uncertain, but for the time being it is the case.” Ordinary Russians sees themselves as fit only to be ordered about and those “in the upper classes” as their appropriate “masters.” They don’t have to be told this again and again, Shelin says.
The Russian people “know it themselves,” and they in general accept what the masters decide without question. “The tsar decides with whom to fight and how to fight. That is now our affair,” they feel. “And the deaths of soldiers is something entirely different than the deaths of ordinary people. And in fact, the two must not be compared.”
But to call this “’feudalism’” is “to say far from everything” that is going on. “The movement backward, to archaic forms and values is going along a much broader front.” And Shelin suggests that it is already possible to “call it barbarization,” where ignorance is celebrated and knowledge denigrated and where charlatanism is ever more widespread.
Indications that this is the way to go are being sent from Putin on down. The Russian president has said “we in general do not make distinctions between Shiites and Sunnis,” an indication that he has no need for those who can make this distinction and that no one else should be concerned either.
The attacks on the status of the Academy of Sciences are part of this as are the falsehoods and inventions like the suggestion that Madeleine Albright hates Slavs and that when no quotation to that effect can be found, the work of Russian mediums is invoked and that no one is supposed to challenge – and only rarely does anyone do so.
Instead, such things get picked up and then repeated, often by Putin himself, and thus legitimized for the population. Such things contribute to the barbarization of thought. Russia isn’t unique in this, of course, Shelin says, but its move in this direction is clearly “the most grandiose of all,” something that some Russians may even take pride in.
“Will it be possible to turn back?” Shelin says he hopes so, and he points to one reason that this may in fact happen. “People some time ago said that modernization was irreversible,” and they were wrong about that.