Sunday, March 31, 2024

Unlike Ukrainians, Russians Lack a Vision of Future They’re Ready to Die For; But Once They Gain One, There will be a Revolution, Gallyamov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 28 – “People have rarely been ready to die for whatever exists in the present,” Abbas Gallyamov says; “but they often have been ready to do so in the name of a future” they believe in. Ukrainians have such a vision and are fighting heroically for it; Russians haven’t been given one and thus have fewer reasons to fight or even defend the present.

            In fact, the former Putin speechwriter says, “Putin’s Russia is not capable of working with the future: it’s fetish is the past, some kind of unthinkable archaic arrangement which combines Stalinism with the aesthetics of the era of Ivan the Terrible infected with primal fears” (

            “Over the long term,” Gallyamov says, “such an approach will only work with naitons that have not experienced either modernity or normal life; but the Russians have seen modernity and even managed to live normally.” Consequently, they or at least their elites are not prepared to live for very long without a positive vision of the future for themselves.

            And not having one, he continues, “even supporters of Putin have stopped showing much faith in the prospects of their country. All the arguments they advance for their leader are reducible to two theses: either without him things will be still worse or the often spoken question -- ‘who else is there?’” – hardly a sign of optimism.

            According to Gallyamov, “the current militarist bravado of the loyalist part of the society is based not on a confident faith in a bright future but on the despair of a drunkard tired of his hopeless life and prepared to embark on a wild spree. Rallying around Putin … is thus rallying around a military leader and not around a prophet.”

            As a result, “anomie is already coming, a feeling that includes general depression, alienation, embitterment, the disintegration of social ties, alcoholism, drug addiction, crime and widespread cynicism.” And out of that will come “a revolution because the nation will not want to live in such a bestial state forever.”

            Once Russians acquire an image of the future and some understanding of how to get there, Gallyamov concludes, “no amount of repression will be able to stop them.” That is what the Ukrainians are displaying. Their heroism is “not because they lived well and have something to lose” but because they have faith that “a normal and democratic Ukraine is possible.”

            And that is why Ukraine is such a threat to Putin: it is an object lesson of what will happen in Russia when Russians finally acquire an image of a normal democratic future and recognize that the only way to get there is to get rid of him and his archaic political and social system. 

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