Staunton, Sept. 29 – Russia is rapidly turning into a monarchy based on the idea that stability and conservatism must be defended, Vladislav Inozemtsev says. Vladimir Putin is central to this conception because any transit of power away from him appears to represent a disaster. But there is an answer to this problem, and it lies in Ancient Rome.
There, the Russian commentator says, the emperor’s role in the state and society arose “in response to the challenges of civil war and the overall degradation of democratic institutions” which were powerless to prevent them. Not surprisingly, many in the Russian elite are looking back to the first Rome (facebook.com/vladislavl.inozemtsev/posts/4317300895047102).
Rome, at the time of its transition, had many similarities with Russia today and thus it is no surprise that many in the Russian elite are looking back to it enviously. It had a powerless senate, provinces ruled by governors general, it distributed bread and circuses to the plebeians, and many other things which the present Russia has as well.
“But the most important aspect of this comparison is not even that,” Inozemtsev says. Two other aspects of Rome are more important for Russian elites now. On the one hand, the emperor’s power was hereditary but frequently passed on to those who showed a talent for rule even if they weren’t the late emperor’s children.
And on the other, the name of the first Roman emperor, Augustus, was “not just admired but also reincarnated in the form of a title for all subsequent rulers, suggesting a continuity and stability that was not otherwise in place. “This is very modern” and one can imagine the name Putin being added to future Russian leaders.
In 2100, for example, Russia could be run “not by a president but by Putin Petron Ivan Kuzmich,” an arrangement that would make the identity of Putin and Russia “eternal” as Augustus did in Rome. Whether things go that far or not, it is thus important to consider the Rome’s past because it may point to Russia’s future, the commentator says.