Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Three Ideological Programs Competing in Bids to Unite Russia, Khaldey Says

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 12 – Liberal capitalism, Orthodox socialism and national state power are competing with each other in efforts to provide a basis for the unification of the majority of the population of Russia, Aleksandr Khaldey says, a competition that is leading to some unexpected interactions and interpenetration of their respective programs.

            Most seriously, the Regnum commentator argues, this split passes through organizations and structures that are typically thought to represent only one of them, including the KPRF which “long ago ceased to profess proletarian socialism and instead calls for proletarian socialism mixed with national and power-central components” (iarex.ru/articles/82131.html).

            At present, Khaldey continues, “the classical Leninist-Marxist segment in the left movement is completely marginalist.” At the same time, under current conditions, “the liberal doctrine is not integrating society on the basis of the ideas of freedom, equality and brotherhood” bur rather splitting it along social, economic and ethnic lines of inequality.”

            The Russian ruling elite, he says, hasn’t been willing to make a clear choice among these three and as a result it is subject to attack by all for inconsistency or weakness. The authorities are increasingly using the language of all to try to bridge the differences among the three categories, the commentator says.

            A major reason for this is that those in power today “do not know” how to cope with the divisions in society. “The multi-national nature of Russia is a fact, and therefore it is not clear how the country is to be integrated after the turning away from proletarian internationalism and the imported liberal doctrine which is not working.”

            What is especially striking, Khaldey says, is that everyone in Russia like most people around the world feels like a minority. This feeling affects “both national minorities in the state and the state-forming majority in the environment of other peoples and states.” No matter how large a people is, it now feels like a minority and increasingly acts like one.

            And that means that all groups increasingly view those around them in terms of “us” versus “them.” Globalism was liberal’s answer to this, but it has collapsed and ever more often even large nations like Russians, Chinese and Americans feel threatened as minorities in the world as a whole.

            This trend in turn opens the way for “the development of a collection of non-liberal doctrines which focus on civilizational issues.” In these, “the chief criteria is becoming the preservation of the cultural space of the people and of its identity.” This explains the increasing attractiveness to many of a national-power ideology and the rise of traditionalists and statists.

            In Russia, Khaldey says, this is leading to a conflict between nationalists who focus on the ethnic Russian nation and Orthodox integrationists who focus on religion rather than ethnicity. The two can come together only on the issue of sovereignty, which both of these groups value.

            According to the commentator, “traditionalists are united in their demands for sovereignty while liberals are divided between globalists and isolationists,” with the former within that camp being stronger at least for the present. But what is striking, he says, is the current arrangement.

            “Until a common platform of the national statists and the Orthodox socialists takes shape, the liberals will be able to mount a defense” because the authorities have interests that rest in all three areas and thus don’t want to make a choice that would undermine one of the legs on which they stand.

            “The traditionalists support the powers more than the liberals do even though the authorities are closer to the liberals than to the traditionalists. But all this is changing,” and that is changing as well, Khaldey concludes, as Putin’s recent rhetorical shifts strongly suggest and as his admiration for China shows.

            A commitment to national power forms the basis of Chinese policies; and it has been “very successful” for Beijing. But “in Russia, copying the Chinese approach is impossible. Here there must be an inclusion of national minorities in the common imperial construction with an understanding and defense of the interests of the national minorities.”

            That will require not only the inclusion of non-Russians in all power centers but a redefinition of the Russian state, something that the competition among the three agendas may ultimately produce but that for the moment is complicating the formation of any single program, the Regnum commentator says.

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