Sunday, June 17, 2018

State Patriotism the New Official Ideology of Putin’s Russia, Lev Gudkov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 17 –Lev Gudkov, the director of the Levada Center, says he was wrong to suggest several years ago that the lack of a state ideology sets Russia apart from the Soviet Union because “with time, the ideology of Russia has become state patriotism,” an ideology that is promoted by and dependent on both government control of the media and repression.

            At a meeting of the Rosbalt Political Club, he said that the current political system of Russia can best be described as “a recidivist of late-Soviet totalitarianism,” one with a mixture of the party and the state and repressive institutions that can lead to an even older variety (

            In addition, Gudkov says, “pseudo-social organizations formed on the initiative of the powers that be fulfill the specific function of ‘the semi-legal application of force against the opposition and social movements,’” a development that parallels the militarization of the country, the stratification of the economy and “’prophylactic repressions.’”

            Particularly significant, the sociologist says, is the “de facto destruction of the free media and the transformation of the press into ‘an instrument of total propaganda and the manipulation of public opinion.” At present, 20 of the 22 most popular federal TV channels are held by three media groups which completely control the information space of the country.

                Only about six to eight percent of the population has regular access to independent media, Gudkov adds.

            That has allowed the Kremlin to impose an obligatory a new ideology of state patriotism, one set on course of “traditionalism, fundamentalism, and the rebirth of an imperial ideology.”  These values in turn are leading Russians to conclude that their nation and its special path are superior to others and that they are “incompatible with democracy and liberal values.”

            Two other speakers at the meeting offered supporting arguments. Igor Nikoalyev, the head of the Moscow Institute for Strategic Analysis, argued that what is occurring in Russia now has its roots in the events of the early 1990s, the mistaken ways in which privatization was carried out and the sense of grievance over the disintegration of the USSR.

            And Dmitry Oreshkin, a Moscow political analyst, said that what he sees is the formation in Russia of “a black-white system of values” in which there is a binary mental matric of ‘we and they.’”  Once the “we” is established, the “they” can shift from one group to another as happened in Soviet times and that by itself maintains a certain stability.

            According to him, this arrangement “can continue for a long time. The situation may remain unchanged until someone tries to change it.” Then everything can fall apart as it did under Mikhail Gorbachev. But until then, it need not change however many problems it appears to be suffering.

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