Staunton, Sept. 10 – Vladimir Putin has talked frequently about the need to defend and promote the ties which bind Russians together and provided his own list of what they consist of. But in a new book examining Russian folk tales, economist Nikita Khrichevsky argues that the most important tie binding Russians together is a desire for justice.
In Deep Russian Ties: The Cultural Code of the National Character (in Russian; Moscow: Dashkov, 2021), he says that in today’s globalized world, many dismiss any unique national character and point out that every nation’s stories and tales overlap with those recounted by others (nakanune.ru/articles/117555/).
But he says there are common patterns in each nation’s folk tales which allow one to identify what are the values held most strongly by its people. These constitute the ties that bind them into a nation. In the Russian case, this tie is a desire that justice be done and that those on top and those on the bottom find that on occasion, they change places.
Given the very different trajectories different nations have followed, economists, Krichevsky says, are paying increasing attention to these “deep links” because they explain why some countries move in one direction and others in a very different one. That doesn’t mean that they can’t evolve, but these deep structures tend to last and reemerge.
His book is one of the first in recent years to address these questions from an economic perspective, and the cases he offers provide a useful corrective both to those who view humanity as more plastic than it is and to those who think no change is possible. Indeed, he shows that the diversity within each culture provides precisely that latter opportunity.