Monday, September 12, 2022

Liberal-Conservative Divide on Relationship between Culture and Politics Affects Russia More than It Does Many Other Countries, Pastukhov Suggests

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 9 – In a 5500-word interview discussion continuity and change in Russia, Vladimir Pastukhov quotes with approval Russian filmmaker Andron Konchalovsky’s observation that “liberals think that politics define culture while conservative believe that culture defines politics.”

            The London-based Russian analyst says that he is a conservative and believes that culture defines politics, but only most of the time. On occasion, politics can change culture and change it significantly. But this liberal-conservative divide has special implications for Russia given its authoritarian traditions (

            On the one hand, conservatives tend to support the authoritarian state because they see it as part of Russian culture; but on the other hand, liberals who in most countries would defend society against such a state often support the authoritarian state in Russia because they view such a powerful agency as the only force available to push through change.

            As a result, instead of balancing each other, the two ideological trends have the paradoxical impact of reinforcing one another, with both backing authoritarianism albeit for different reasons, the conservatives who want to defend against cultural change and the liberals because they hope to promote it.

            But as a result, the forces of liberalism are often far more compromised in the case of Russia than they are in other countries where liberals in the European sense at least base themselves and their hopes not on state power but on other actors in society who work to limit the state and even render it more democratic.

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