Thursday, November 2, 2017

Paul Robinson — Interview with Mikhail Remizov

Backgrounder. It's longish, so save it for weekend reading. It is the best analysis of Russian conservatism I have run across. They discuss the economy near the end. The beginning is Rusian history and the middle is Russian politics.
Russian public opinion is more sovereigntist, more conservative than the Russian government.
Most Russians are not raging liberals clamoring for universal rights, freedom and democracy, and internationalism. They are first and foremost Russians, for whom the nation and its traditions and values are paramount.
PR: But Western liberals think that their project is universal and other projects don’t have the right to exist.
MR: Exactly. Our conflict is one against universalism. Are we doomed to this conflict? I see Russia not as a superpower, like in Soviet times, which opposes the Western world and gathers together its own world, but rather as a rebel province of the global empire. That is, there was an empire which was quite loose and constructed around a definite religion, like the Holy Roman Empire. In that case, it was a civilizational community founded on Catholicism, with a sort of centre in the persons of the Pope and the Emperor. Now the ideological basis of the global empire is the religion of human rights and emancipation. It has its priests, its intelligentsia, its mass media. It damns heretics. There’s no inquisition, but you can kick people out of universities. In other words, there are repressive mechanisms in the sphere of soft power. And there’s hard power, absolutely technological and all-pervading, as in the United States. The Empire has not just one lever, but an entire complex of all-pervading control from above. And these were the historical conditions when Russia decided to gain autonomy from this global empire. This is a very risky undertaking, but not a hopeless one, as weaker provinces are often able to secure such autonomy in the event that the costs of control exceed the benefits of subordination. When the Americans eventually won their independence they were weaker than the British Empire, but the costs of control were too great and it wasn’t worth maintaining control at any price.
So, this conflict will end when Russia can defend its autonomy in the global order, and this requires a more complete approach to sovereignty than Russia has demonstrated to date. We need more than weapons, more than speeches in Munich, we need more independence in the financial and technological spheres, and far more psychological self-sufficiency than we currently have. The Russian elite and to a large degree the Russian intelligentsia have the consciousness of the provincial periphery. They lack psychological self-sufficiency. They are oriented to the global metropolis. Most of them don’t have any idea of internal sovereignty. If we can construct a more complete sovereignty, a more self-sufficient country, then we will have good relations with the West, as the global empire won’t try to subordinate us at any cost.… 
Interview with Mikhail RemizovPaul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa

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