Monday, June 12, 2023

Putin-Era Ideology has Differed from Soviet One but Increasingly Resembles It, Shelin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 8 – Those who insist that the Putin era doesn’t have an ideology do so on the basis of the fact that the ideological system of the current regime is not like what they believe is the only possible model, the Soviet one, Sergey Shelin says. But since February 2022, Sergey Shelin says. But since February 2022, the Putin system is increasingly like its predecessor.

            “The ideology now dominant has been working effectively in Russia for many years despite having neither a basic text or a universally recognized high priest,” the Russian commentator says. But the past year has marked “a turning point: it is acquiring both” (

            According to Shelin, “in comparison with Soviet models” which had a sacred text, a single interpreter, and harsh punishments for those who deviated from any of its postulates, “the ideological situation which had existed until recently in the Russian Federation can be characterized as a kingdom of freedom.”

            Under it, one can call the war against Ukraine defensive or call it defensive,” Shelin says. What matters is that it be justified.” And as long as that is the case, those who do the one or the other are not punished. That “pluralism,” he continues, “does not at all indicate the absence of a generally acceptable ideology. It is just not one that is built the way it used to be.”

            The Soviet one gave only one answer to every question and only one set of arguments; the current one gives several as long as the end point is the same. That system has been working well for the Kremlin, but nonetheless Putin and his team have decided to change it and make it more like the one in the Soviet times of their youth.

            Why it has made the decision to do so is not entirely clear, Shelin suggests; but it clear that now “the regime is trying to unify and formalize the whole set of everyday conspiracy, xenophobic, and sovereignty fairy tales and force its subjects to profess them in a uniform way,” just as the Soviets did.

            But “while these myths are quite organic in the Russian masses, any mediocrity in their execution or official coercion in enforcing them may have the opposite effect,” he argues, adding that “poor quality poison is still poison: it only poisons and kills, nothing more.”


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