Staunton, Jan. 20 – Russian universities are not faced with the threat that the Putin regime will develop and impose an all-embracing ideology, Mikhail Sokolov says. It doesn’t have either the resources or an interest in doing so. Instead, it is focusing on promoting loyalty and obedience to itself rather than to any grand ideological construct.
While the sociologist at St. Petersburg’s European University focuses his discussion on Putin and the future of intellectual life at its higher educational institutions, his points concerning the regime’s resources and interests apply to its approach to Russian society as a whole (russian.eurasianet.org/грозит-ли-российским-университетам-«научный-путинизм»).
As the Soviet experience demonstrated, Sokolov says, it takes enormous resources and effort to come up with and then impose on universities and society as a whole an all-embracing ideology, resources that the Putin regime at the present time simply doesn’t have and is not seeking to find.
And as the Soviet experience also showed, he continues, “the total ideologization” of society reduces rather than increases the political stability of the regime,” by putting in place a set of ideas that people may draw on to oppose the twists and turns that are the feature of any regime.
Consequently, the scholar concludes, the Putin regime is pursuing and is likely to continue to pursue is not ideologization but rather taking steps to ensure “the personal reliability” of instructors to their bosses who in turn will be responsible to higher ranking people in the system rather than loyal to some abstract ideology.
The absence of an ideology is not necessarily a sign of weakness, Sokolov says. It may protect a regime from charges of illegitimacy, the kind of charges that arose at the end of Soviet times in the USSR. And “in this sense, if USSR 2.0 wants to learn something from the experience of USSR 1.0, it should be to ‘de-ideologize’” the system.