Thursday, September 29, 2022

Russians Far More Atomized than Non-Russians and thus Respond to Putin’s Moves Individually rather than Collectively, El Murid Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 28 – Many observers have been struck by the contrast between Russian and non-Russian responses to Vladimir Putin’s mobilization decree, with the first choosing to act individually and flee the country and the second engaging in far more collective actions like protests, Anatoly Nesmiyan who blogs under the screen name El Murid.

            But the explanation is simple, he argues. Ethnic Russian society is far more atomized and therefore members of it react to any catastrophic threat “on ‘an individual basis.’” As a result, people who are upset by what Putin has done choose to leave the country rather than to protest (

            Collective acts of resistance, even their most rudimentary forms, El Murid continues, “arise only where there are still remnants of self-organizing structures.” These are mostly gone from ethnic Russian society, but “in the national republics where traditional forms of self-organization such as extended family structures are still operative,” the situation is different.

            But because the nature of these organizational differences, the future is likely to be very different as well. The Russians in the event they suffer a serious shock are either going to withdraw as individuals or come up with entirely new arrangements. The non-Russians, because their collective action is defensive, aren’t likely to go over to the offensive.

            El Murid argues that with regard to both, it is important to keep in mind that a fascist state like Putin’s won’t be disordered as a result of domestic developments alone – there it will be remarkably stable – but that its internal fissures could be broadened significantly by the actions of outside powers.

            If the West responds in a tough way to Putin’s threats he is prepared to use nuclear weapons, then it is possible that both Russians and non-Russians may act in ways that reflect their very different levels of atomization and cohesion and thus play very different roles in Russia’s future.

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