Staunton, May 6 – The virus of civil war, which has been incubating in Russia for decades or even centuries is now “set to manifest itself as an open form of the disease with the appearance of spontaneous armed violence,” Vladimir Pastukhov says. Indeed, Russia today “is closer than ever” to the next time when “this red line” will be crossed.
The London-based Russian analyst says some topics need to be discussed again and again. Among them is the state of civil war in Russia and more broadly in the former Soviet space, even though at the moment, civil wars as such exist like Schrödinger’s car, “simultaneously existing and not existing in or space-time continuum” (t.me/v_pastukhov/624).
Any talk about civil war in the former Soviet space now is complicated by the fact that the question of its existence is treated very differently in Ukraine and Russia, Pastukhov says. In Ukraine, it is treated as part of the Kremlin narrative that Moscow uses to justify its invasion. But what is noteworthy is that the opposition in Russia views it in much the same way.
In the case of the Russian opposition, many of its members believe that “there is no civil war in Russia.” Instead, for them, there is a “’bad Putin’” and a good society that will take over when he leaves. And they are convinced that “talk about a civil war is a form of covert support for the regime.”
“But the main thing is that no one sees any signs of a civil war around them: there are no whites or reds, and no one is throwing up barricades in the streets just yet,” Pastukhov continues.
This pattern reflects the fundamental difference between the everyday understanding of civil war and the philosophical understanding. The two are very different. The everyday understanding considers that a civil war inevitably involves an armed struggle of organized groups for power.”
But in the philosophical understanding, “a civil war is the struggle of individuals with each other and their inability to have any form of collaboration without the mediation of state power.” Civil war thus becomes an incubator of totalitarian rule because “power is the only connective tissue” holding things together.
“As Pavel Shchelin has rightly noted” (ukrainianpost.com/opinions/253-war-theory-why-putin-is-leading-the-two-most-destructive-types-of-war-against-ukraine), Pastukhov argues, “civil war in principle is the natural state of an archaic society; and only in modern society is there a chance for a civil set of arrangements because of its high degree of self-organization.”
However, the London-based analyst says, “modern societies are constantly balancing on the brink, risking falling into a civil war at any moment. In this sense, for all post-Soviet societies, including both Russia and Ukraine, the civil war has never ended. But while in Ukraine, conditions are pushing the country toward a civil society, in Russia, the reverse is true.
In Russia, Pastukhov argues, “conditions are forming to transform a latent cover civil war of all against all into the more easily recognizable and familiar form of an open civil war in the form or an armed struggle of political gangs with each other.” A decade ago, the celebration of the Crimean Anschluss prevented that from happening.
But “what worked then as an inhibitor, now has become a catalyst for civil war,” he concludes.