Thursday, August 4, 2022

‘Homo Putinus’ is More than Just a Remake of ‘Homo Sovieticus,’ Sergey Medvedev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 12 – Over the past decade, various commentators have suggested that it is now necessary to speak about the rise of Homo Putinus; but most of them have presented this phenomenon more as a restoration of Homo Sovieticus rather than as a fundamentally new human type.

            (For examples of writers who have talked about Homo Putinus earlier, see among others, and

            But now Sergey Medvedev in the course of a Radio Svoboda interview with Russian documentary filmmaker Andrey Loshak goes further and argues that while Homo Putinus is in some senses a continuation of Homo Sovieticus, it has new features that make it comparable to what is on view among North Koreans (

            Like the North Koreans, those who form Homo Putinus appear with blissful smiles on all occasions because they have cultivated “a voluntary blindness” to all the things that would normally offend ordinary people and they have thus lost the empathy that typically characterizes human communities.

            To be sure, on some occasions such as mass sports parades, Homo Sovieticus performed the same way, appearing happy and oblivious to everything his or her government was doing. But now that way of dealing with the external world has spread to almost the entire population almost all the time, creating a situation from which there is no clear escape.

            That is precisely what Putin wants in creating this new human type, but it is a horror that both the few Russians left who are horrified by the system and Western leaders who must deal with it need to recognize rather than engage in their own “voluntary blindness.”

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