Staunton, April 20 – The widespread support for the idea that Russia is following “a special path,” Marina Shapovalova says, is compensation for the poverty and lawlessness that people in that country feel all too often. No one can stand to feel so unimportant and at risk for long, and the notion that one is part of something “special” compensates for such feelings.
Faith that Russia is on a special path has taken various names – the idea of Moscow as “the third Rome,” the notion that the USSR is leading the world in the construction of communism, and the conviction that Russia is on “a special path” – but there is this common source, the commentator says (gorod-812.ru/ob-istokah-osobennoj-duhovnosti/).
“Nothing in this sense was changed in the course of the 1990s for the overwhelming majority of the population of the Russian Federation,” Shapovalova continues. But because injustice and poverty became “yet more evident,” the desire for some compensation in a collective identification with the country increased.
And that meant that individuals were even more ready to submerge their personalities in some collective “we” that could provide supposed salvation because of the particular and unique role of the country as a whole and to put one’s faith in the leader as the embodiment of this special unity.
As a result, as people came to feel that they were ever more “nothing,” they came to believe that the “we” must “mean something” and something special, messianic and the source of salvation. Russians forgot that salvation is always personal and never collective, and that believing otherwise is to fall into “a satanic trap.”
The only path out of this trap, Shapovalova suggests, is to overcome poverty and lawlessness and focus on individuals who are doing better rather than on a collective that is ignoring the tragedies of those individuals in the name of some mythical collective that justifies or at least excuses the tragedies of the people of the country.