Staunton, November 12 – The adoption of an official state ideology, something that would violate the Russian constitution, would transform Russia from an authoritarian to a totalitarian state, Igor Eidman, the author of the new book, The Putin System. Where the New Russian Empire is Heading.
In a commentary for Deutsche Welle – his book so far has appeared only in German – the sociologist argues that recent statements by various Russian parliamentarians suggest that “the Kremlin is seriously testing the waters making its de facto state ideology de jure as well (dw.com/ru/комментарий-государственная-идеология-в-россии-путь-к-тоталитаризму/a-36344352).
The adoption of a law defining Moscow’s “ideology … would allow the Kremlin to intensify its propagandistic pressure on the population and give it unlimited opportunities for persecuting those who do not agree with it,” just as was the case in Soviet times and against the return of which the 1993 Constitution said Russia could not have a formal state ideology again.
The reason that Putin is moving in this direction is that at present, “the Kremlin cannot guarantee economic growth, legal defense or confidence in the future.” And so it is pushing the country into “opposition with the West” and military adventures. In short, the population lacks rational reasons for backing the Kremlin and so must be given emotional ones.
To that end, Moscow is “creating new and reanimating old ideological myths which appeal to the collective unconscious” of the Russian people. At the center of this are three concept: “’we’ … the single ‘Russian nation,” “’they’ foreign and domestic enemies” and “the leader,” Putin who can “help ‘us’ defend against ‘them.’”
The foreign enemies are the US, the EU and Ukraine, and already “three quarters of Russians believe that the Western countries want to weaken and denigrate Russia.” Domestically, the “’they’” consists of “various minorities, existing outside ‘the moral majority’ and ‘subject to Western influence.’”
The election of Donald Trump may temporarily lead the Kremlin to reduce its treatment of the US as an enemy while increasing attention to other foreign “enemies” like the European Union, Eidman says. The current Russian regime’s ideology “cannot exist without” enemies at home and abroad.
The Russian sociologist says that “the main reason for the success of this ideological propaganda is in its primitive but effective replacement of one concept by another, “’The Putin regime’ is replaced by the words ‘Russians’ and ‘we.’” Those who oppose it are “declared opponents of Russia and its residents.”
“As a result,” Eidman continues, “the enemies of the ruling bureaucracy and its selfish interests are presented to the population as being their own.”
The new state propaganda includes the idea of “’the Russian world’ which in fact justified Moscow’s pretensions on the territories where ethnic Russians live.” It is rooted in “Orthodox fundamentalism and also Eurasian and geopolitical myths about the permanent opposition of Russia and the West,” and especially the Anglo-Saxons among the latter.
In support of this ideological construct, Eidman says, Moscow has elevated a number of historical personages into “a new pantheon.” It includes “harsh rulers like Prince Vladimir, Ivan the Terrible and Joseph Stalin.” Many Russians see these people as “bloody tyrants” but excuse them because “they supposedly brought something of value to the country.”
In short, Eidman says, “with the help of mythmaking, the authorities are seeking to impose on society a system of values in which everything which serves the state and in essence ‘the national leader’ and his entourage is good and moral” and that the society should give its “unqualified support to any powers that be, even the harshest and most unjust.”