Thursday, November 29, 2018

Russian Society isn’t Backward but the Russian State Is, Pozharsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 29 – It has become a commonplace to say that Russian society is backward and that its failures to modernize explain and even justify the backwardness of the Russian state. But that is wrong, Mikhail Pozharsky says. Russian society isn’t “backward,” he insists; but the Russian state very much is. 

            Sociological studies show that “Russia is one of the least religious and traditionalist countries of the world,” the Russian commentator says; but nevertheless, “the stereotype” that it is backward rather than the state remains very much “alive,” not in the least because Russian government propaganda promotes this notion (

            What is especially to be regretted, Pozharsky says, is that Russian liberals are among the ones who uncritically accept the notion that the Russian people are backward while the Russian state is not, an attitude which means they accept the kind of backward state that has been created and only want to turn it in a different direction.

            As a result of Russian government propaganda, liberals in Russia and many elsewhere accept the notion that the worst and most repressive actions of the Russian state are not what the state wants to do but rather what it feels compelled to do because of the nature and attitudes of the Russian people.

            But that is nonsense, Pozharsky says. Russians don’t need to have the government ban concerts or works of art. They will simply behave the way people in other countries do: they won’t buy tickets or attend shows.  To think otherwise, as Russian liberals do, is to fall into a trap the Kremlin has carefully prepared.

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