Sunday, August 15, 2021

Russian Society Now Outwardly More Anti-Western but Inwardly More Westernized than in 1991, Makarkin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 10 – The situation in Russia in one respect at least is 1991 in reverse, Moscow political analyst Aleksey Makarkin says. Russian society now is outwardly far more anti-Western than it was 30 years ago; but paradoxically, inwardly, it is far more Westernized than it was then.

            “In 1991,” Makarkin says, “Soviet society was more conservative than outside observers thought.” It interest in the West was primarily focused on getting from it the kinds of products that would refill the shelves of stores in the USSR rather than on accepting any of the West’s values ( and

            Those concerned with acquiring Western values were a distinct minority. Most Russians remained quite traditionalist even after 1991. And thus it is “no surprise” that Boris Yeltsin quickly turned to a “’statist’” position in the hope of shoring up his rapidly waning legitimacy as a leader who had followed the West.

            “Now, thirty years later,” the analyst says, “Russia outwardly looks like a stronghold of conservatism and presents itself as a defender of traditional values.” Words like “liberal” and even “democrat” are terms of abuse “for a significant portion of society. But that is far from the whole story.

            Even Russian “’illiberals’” who use those terms against others “often quite sincerely profess liberal values connected with personal freedom and respect for private life” although they are generally careful to call them something else rather than admit to themselves or others their real source.

            This paradoxical situation can become the basis for serious political problems especially given the Kremlin’s “increasingly inert traditionalism,” a set of attitudes which ignores the underlying transformation of Russians over the last generation, Makarkin suggests.

No comments:

Post a Comment