Staunton, July 24 – A new Levada Center poll shows that 60 percent of Russians say that “people do not bear moral responsibility for the actions of their government” given that they have no control over what it does, while at the same time, 96 percent say they feel responsible for what happens to their families because they can profoundly affect those.
In reporting these figures, Elena Mukhametshina of Vedomosti spoke with Lev Gudkov, the director of the Levada Center, and Dmitry Badovsky, the head of the Moscow Institute for Social, Economic and Political Research about their meaning and implications (vedomosti.ru/politics/articles/2019/07/24/807239-rossiyan-otvetstvennost).
Gudkov says that people “consider that the actions of the authorities do not correspond to their interests and threaten the little man with serious consequences. People don’t want to be responsible for the war in Syria, relations with Ukraine or the West and so one.” They focus only on their families, a reflection of the fragmentation of society.
As a result, ever more of them reject any idea of some common good or taking part in social life to achieve it. That may make it easier for the powers that be to do what they want, but it also means that tensions between state and society are on the rise as each goes in its own direction with little thought of the other.
Yes, Gudkov acknowledges, there is much talk about the need for social justice. But – and this is the critical point – it has arisen “more as a hope for a miracle” than as the basis for any collective action.
Balovsky for his part stresses with regard to the issue of social justice that the responses in this poll in part reflect the fact that “certain mass ideas about what is correct and what is not are changing.” But this shift in attitudes to a greater concern about social justice has not yet had an impact on public action.
“The weak point here,” he continues, “is the lack of willingness to struggle for justice.” In his view, this link is also connected with the responses about not feeling responsible for what the government is doing or what is going on in society beyond one’s family and members of one’s immediate circle.
Underlying all of this, the researcher says, is the view people have that “they can hardly be responsible for that over which they do not have any special influence.”