Staunton, March 17 – Never has Russia had so few allies as it does today, Aleksandr Tsipko says; and never have its people been so crude, the direct result of the aggressive militarism of Vladimir Putin’s regime and the increasing identification of Russianness not with the country’s great culture but with support for Stalin.
In an essay in Yezhednevny zhurnal, the Moscow social analyst says that writers like Andrey Fursov are promoting the notion that “Russianness” is defined not by that culture but by “a positive attitude toward Stalin and that hatred for him and is crimes constitutes “’hatred for historical Russia’” (ej.ru/?a=note&id=32243).
“One must call things by their right names: In essence, the currently fashionable attempts to tightly connect Russianness with the name of Stalin means an open betrayal toward all of great Russian culture and toward one’s own people,” Tsipko says. And one must acknowledge something else, far more troubling than the evil ideas of Zavtra and the Izborsky Club.
That is this: over the last few years, there have been “radical changes in the consciousness of a significant part of the population of present-day Russia.” As recently as 2011, a third or less of Russians viewed Stalin’s crimes as justified; now, “already half of the population” does.
And that in turn means that “post-Crimea Russia at an accelerated rate is breaking with the basic values of European Christian humanism and the Russian culture which grew out of it,” Tsipko says. “This certainly is not accidental” but the result of the failure at the time of perestroika of Russia to become “an inalienable part of present-day European civilization.”
“We in fact are moving not so much toward the greatness of ‘state sovereignty’ as to a certain inhumanity,” one that reflects the attitude that the millions of victims of Stalin’s crimes are somehow justified by his achievements, an attitude that in turn reflects a devaluation of human life as such.
There is no other nation on earth which proclaims its love for a leader precisely because “he systematically destroyed above all its leading people.” Since the spring of 2014 – and today is the fourth anniversary of the Anschluss – “we have been exiting not simply from Europe but from all that is important in European culture.”
Tsipko continues: “Having stood in 2014 on the path of self-isolation from the present-day West, we at the same time have stood on the path of dehumanization. Russia for the last quarter of a century not simply has not been able to become an organic part of Western Europe; it has declared itself an enemy of the existing world order.”
The root of this problem “is not so much in Crimea and n the Donbnass as in our understanding of Russianness as absolute sovereignty,” something that in the most profound way “contradicts present-day civilization.” As a result, “never in its history has Russia been so alone as it is today.”
According to Tsipko, “the rehabilitation of Stalin inevitably proceeds from the total militarization of consciousness as a result of life in a besieged fortress.” War having become the main value, human life has been devalued to the point that Russians show little concern for or regret over the loss of life in Syria or elsewhere.
This “militarization of thought leads not only to the extinction of everything on which morality is based but also to the primitivization of thought.” As a result, he argues, “never in Russia have people who call themselves patriots thought so crudely and vulgarly as they do at present.”
Such patriotism, he continues, the patriotism of the besieged fortress, “is incompatible with truth,” requires myths, and leads to aggression against everything and everyone who challenges it. Tragically, today, “the militarization of consciousness is very useful for those in power” because it allows them to cover up their crimes.
And that leads to many serious questions, the most important of which is this: “What will remain of Russia and Russianness if, as serious specialists say, antagonism with the US, including military, is something that is going to last a long time or at least for the next decade?” Can Russia survive if it gives up all that made it European and great?