Staunton, March 26 – A figure from
Christian eschatology goes a long way to explain why Vladimir Putin enjoys much
of the support he does, Grigory Yudin says. It is the idea of a Katekhon,
as a figure who has as his mission blocking the triumph of evil in history and
the arrival of rule of the Anti-Christ (criticallegalthinking.com/2018/07/03/carl-schmitt-katechon/). .
Popular support for such figures now is hardly limited to Russia, but Yudin, a professor at the Moscow Higher School of Social and Economic Sciences, says it has particular force there because of the saturation of national culture with religious ideas and the way in which the current Kremlin leader is exploiting them (sapere.online/est-li-v-rossii-zapros-na-peremeny/).
“We understand that to a significant degree, the image of Putin is that of the Katekhon, a figure from Christian theology who plays a restraining role at the time of the approach of the Apocalypse.” Such a figure “stops time in order to save the present-day world because if time goes forward, then will quickly follow the Apocalypse and chaos.”
“In its radical form,” the Moscow scholar continues, “Putin’s line consists of stopping time because any change will immediately lead to a return to the 1990s which are a symbol of chaos and the end of the world” for most Russians.
Yudin makes two other important observations in the course of his Sapere interview. He suggests that there is a growing segment of Russian society that is tired of Putin and his pretensions but that it has not yet reached critical mass and that the Putin regime is doing what it can to prevent the growth of such sentiments by taking repressive measures.
At present, the scholar continues, he does not see any limit on what Putin may do in this regard; and consequently, he expects repression to increase in the future.
Yudin also argues that “Russia is a plebiscitarian regime in which the leader bases himself on democratic legitimation” through elections, something that allows “leaders, the bureaucracy and the population to believe that a majority stands behind the leader. Whether that is in fact true, however, is another question.”
Today, “the problems with the legitimacy of the [Russian] leader are not very serious, but they are deepening,” and that makes elections ever more critical and the efforts of the powers that be to ensure the outcomes they want ever more desperate.” They need the approval of the voters to remain in power.
One thing helping the Russian authorities in this regard is that Russian democracy has increasingly become, in the words of French scholar Bernard Manin, “audience democracy,” that is, “citizens have been transformed into an audience which watches what is taking place on television screens.”
“For a large number of our fellow citizens, the poisoning of Navalny or investigations about the palace in Gelendzhik are something they see on the screen but that do now have any relationship to real life.” Until they make that connection, they are unlikely to take an active role because of such things and go into the streets to demand change.