Oct. 28 – “In Russia, words taken from the European lexicon often have a
completely different meaning,” Dmitry Gubin says, something that needs to be
recognized by both Russians and others. This is especially true of words like “people”
and “nation,” that is in German Volk and Nation.
people in the West is “above all about a group’s horizontal ties – social,
neighborhood, professional, political, cultural and so on when people without
being pressured from the outside began to act as a single organism,” the
Berlin-based writer says. In that context, “government is simply a structure”
hired to do what the people want (graniru.org/opinion/m.286481.html).
Russia, in contrast, “the people is not about horizontal ties. It is a
community of language and history, and very often, a unity of race.” That
explains the suspicious “and in fact idiotic” Russian tendency to say things
like unlike in Russia, “in Europe the white man will not no longer remain.”
“For ‘a people,’ in the
Russian understanding what is important is the color of skin and the slant of
eyes. For Russians in the metropolitan center, people like Rishi Sunak or Sadik
Khan aren’t Englishmen. For Russians, these politicians instead are clear
examples of the erosion and corrosion of the English people.”
to Gubin, “from this perspective, Putin’s war in Ukraine is a war conducted so
that all peoples of Europe will exist exclusively in the Russian sense” and not
in the sense such groups have in other countries. Russians have convinced
themselves that they are defending Europe from falling into an abyss. In fact,
it is Russia that is headed that way.
This difference in perspective on what a people is has
far-reaching consequences. Russians aren’t behaving toward the war in Ukraine
the way Americans did toward the war in Vietnam. Instead, “Russians are
behaving the same way as they did during the pandemic,” disturbed only about
its consequences for themselves and without empathy for Ukraine.
of horizontal ties within one’s own country deprives individuals of both
empathy and solidarity toward everything outside that country, Gubin argues. It
means that for Russians, the world is divided as it was in the Middle Ages into
“ours” which resembles us by race, language and history and “others” who differ
on those measures.
is recognized, the commentator continues, it is clear that it is “time to stop
deifying the Russians. They “are simply a state-occupied, fragmented, disenfranchised,
poorly educated and poorly self-aware population which can sometimes be
sympathized with but in no case should be indulged.”
Russians who have moved abroad, it is time to insist that they stop trying to
clutch to the idea of their uniqueness and rather ask them to master and
assimilate to the world around them. That is, they must undergo
Europeanization, Americanization, Englishization, Frenchization and
Germanization depending on where they live.
they must cultivate the horizontal ties they don’t have at home and make them
rather than some racialist state definition the definition of who and what they
are. If they do, they might at some point be able to make a contribution to
saving their own homeland from the abyss Putin is now driving it toward.