Monday, May 9, 2022

Russia Defines Itself as ‘the Anti-West’ Rather than in Any Positive Way, Pozharsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 28 – Kremlin propaganda defines Russia not in terms of some list of positive characteristics but almost exclusively by negation, by stressing how it is not like the West or even more than it is “the Other” or “the anti-West,” according to Russian commentator Mikhail Pozharsky.

            The concept of “the Other,” he reminds, was developed by French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre who believed that individuals do not have a nature but choose their fundamental essence themselves even as they deny that possibility to others by putting them in some category (

            Of course, Sartre recognized that these “Others” were doing the same thing to us and thus have as it were the status of an independent subject in their own minds even if not in ours. But Sartre’s companion, Simone de Beauvoir, argued that there is one major exception to this rule: women, who all too often view themselves through the male-created lens of femininity.

            “Even when women find themselves among other women,” de Beauvoir suggested in the words of Pozharsky, “they continue to treat themselves as bearers of an essential ‘femininity,’ that is, to see themselves through the eyes of a man” and thus deprive themselves of the possibility of independent subjecthood they should have.

            De Beauvoir’s reflections are useful, the Russian commentator says, if one considers “the implications of the Kremlin’s propaganda,” which not only focuses on how the West views Russia correctly or not but imports Western views albeit with a minus sign to try to define who and what Russia is.

            That approach, Pozharsky says, leads to “continual self-colonization” and loss of subjecthood. Indeed, the Kremlin’s approach appears to “tremble at the mere thought that Russians must make their own choices about themselves and their country” except in terms of the notion that Russia is “an anti-West” and nothing more.

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