Staunton, June 28 – For many, Vladislav Surkov is “the Uvarov of our time,” the man who updated the Uvarov triad of “Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality” for Putin’s time to read instead, “sovereign democracy, the long state, and the deep people,” Academician Yury Pivovarov says.
But in fact, the ideological “pedigree” of Surkov’s ideas is far more diverse and the ways in which he wants to put this new triad to work not only domestically but internationally are far more disturbing, the scholar argues (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2019/06/28/81059-ot-samoderzhavno-pravoslavnoy-narodnosti-k-glubinnoy).
That is because unlike Uvarov, Surkov like Lenin believes that the political system he describes Putin as already having put in place in Russia can and should be extended to all the rest of the world, a notion that means Russia is justified as the communists thought in using all means to spread its system to other countries.
Pivovarov devotes most of his 3500-word essay in Novaya gazeta today to a thorough-going demolishment of the three parts of Surkov’s notion. But arguably, the academician’s most important insights are in the last third of his article when he focuses on the ways in which Surkov goes beyond Uvarov in a horrifyingly Leninist way.
For Count Uvarov, the trinity Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Naitonality was “a recipe only for Russia. More than that, the Russian triad in essence was put in opposition to the Western one, ‘freedom, equality and brotherhood,” Pivovarov says. So for him, Russians were the incarnation of good while “’they’” were everyone else and Russians should keep their distance.
Surkov in contrast, the academician continues, “supposes that ‘the long state’ of Putin or in any case elements of it can be implemented in other societies. That is, the Surkov Sonderweg has expert and the sphere of its application is in principle wider than the state borders of Russia.”
“What then is this ‘special path’? Simply that ‘we’ are more perfect and earlier build this perfect system. Typologically, this is simple to the old Soviet assertions that ‘we’ were the first to build a just state of the workers and peasants and are an example for the backward. This was one of the most important ideological bases for global communist expansion.”
Thus, if you will, Pivovarov continues, “Surkov follows not only Uvarov but also Lenin and Trotsky (yes and Stalin and Bukharin).” Like them, he combines an idea resembling “’socialism in one country’” with “’permanent revolution.’” And that is not all, the academician continues.
“’Official nationality’ (‘the deep people’ plus ‘the long state’ of Putin) approaches proletarian solidarity. Logically and typologically, of course.” At the same time, Surkov’s ideas have roots in Eurasianism and its pretentions to be the dominant system on the world continent, the scholar says.
“Thus, Surkov’s ideological pedigree is much deeper than the era of Uvarov, Benkendorff and Dubelt.” The real question is whether Surkov is correct. The answer fortunately and of course is that he isn’t, Pivovarov insists, something that is to the benefit of both Russia and the world.
Not only does Surkov’s vision suffer from the fundamental contradiction between an insistence on Russian exceptionalism rooted in the past and an equally held insistence on the spread of its system to everyone else, the same defect of Soviet communism, but it ignores the way in which human freedom can and does emerge even in the most unexpected places.
But it is even more defective and dangerous, Pivovarov says, for another reason. “Between the worldview of ‘the deep people’ and Surkov is the very same difference as between the Slavophiles of the 19th century and the authors of the Zavtra newspaper. If behind the constructions of the Slavophiles stood love, then behind the Zavtra ideologues is hatred.”
“Surkov and the publicists of Zavtra,” the scholar concludes, “see in the people a unique reservoir of anti-Western and anti-modern phobias and on this they build their ‘love of the people’ and their assertion of the messianic role of Russia.” That too makes the achievement of their goal impossible, but it makes their efforts in pursuit of it very, very dangerous.