Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Conflict in Ukraine Highlights Russia’s Need for a New National Ideology, Panina Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 5 – It has become “obvious” that the conflict in Ukraine is not just between Moscow and Kyiv but between Russia and the West with the latter seeking to destroy Russian civilization, Elena Panina says; and it is also clear that Russian society is not completely prepared to respond to this challenge.

            What is needed, the United Russia Duma deputy and director of the Russian Strategy Institute says, is a new ideology, one that is based on the proposition that “Russian civilization is an alternative to the dying world of the West” and must be defended and developed on the basis of that separate path (

            Given the role she and her interest have played and the fact that Panina extrapolates from remarks that Vladimir Putin has made over the last year, her article deserves attention as a matrix within which discussions in the regime about the elaboration of a new ideology for the Putin regime are likely taking place.

            “The Russian Federation,” she begins, “is not simply one of almost 200 countries. It is more than a simple country. It is ‘a state-civilization’ (V. Putin).” And that means that “the synonym of the term ‘Russian civilization is the term ‘Historical Russia.’” It is one of several civilizations, just as the West is one and not the only possible model for others.

            For 500 years, Russia has had to resist “the aggressive pressure of the West.” Some of this Western aggression, of course, reflects a desire to seize Russian assets, “but the roots of this bestial hatred to Russia … must be searched for and found in the fundamental civilizational distinctions of Russian and Western civilization,” Panina continues.

            Put in lapidary terms, she suggests, Russia supports justice while the West promotes “a cult of comfort;’” it promotes “collectivism and not Western individualism; and Russia is characterized by “ethnic equality unlike Western colonial oppression.” For Russia, “people are more important than economics, life more than profit; and children are more valuable than selfish satisfaction.”

            Russians must be constantly provided with “super tasks” so as to give their lives meaning and to make their country into a real military superpower and thus “preserve and expand the Soviet inheritance in this in this sphere. This has enormous significance for the defense of Russia and the defense of the Motherland. But we must go further,” she says.

            Russia must also become an economic and technological superpower with an elite that promotes these goals and that identifies clearly the enemies against which Russia and Russians must struggle. To that end, Russian history must be presented a single uninterrupted course of positive developments.

            According to Panina, “at the core of Russian life is Victory, over the enemy, hell and chaos. Victory is beyond price: it redeems all sacrifices and ensures that none of them is in vain.” Because that is the case, “defeat for Russians is something worse than death” and must be avoided at all costs.

            “Victory is healing: it heals fears, invigorates people with heavenly energy, and provides strength,” Panina concludes. It is “metaphysical because for Russians it is always about overcoming evil, a task that is part of God’s plan. And it is not simply a matter of history: After 1945 is coming 2022.”

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