April 26, 2005

Letter to the Paper ILIII

Publius Pundit is puzzled by Putin mourning the Soviet Union This isn't the first time that Putin has done it. It's also not surprising that he is doing it as Putin is failing at the most important task he has, finding a proper replacement for the USSR in the imagination of the people. Below is what I put in comments on the thread.

For good or ill (and in my opinion almost entirely ill) the USSR was the image that most Russians had of their civic identity and. You take it away and the replacement had better be at least as good.

Today's Russia isn't as good for civic identity purposes. What's inspiring about it? Why is it worth dying for? It's a new flag that echoes but does not bring back their czarist past. It's a recycled Soviet anthem with new words that seeks to identify with ancient peasant wisdom and territorial grandiosity (see the words). Unfortunately for Russia, ancient peasent wisdom isn't going to cut it on its own and territorial grandiosity is just setting yourself up for humiliation. Russia is a brand new political system, without any cultural roots that could be changed at any time.

What Putin is mourning, IMO, is that hollowness at the core of Russia today. A better economy will not cure this problem, nor will political liberty because while political liberty is an animating force worth dying for, it is not in the russian social matrix, at least not for enough people to create a self-sustaining cultural template.

The only cure is to create that self-sustaining template and, in the meantime, dodge the bullet of totalitarian/authoritarian shortcuts.

Posted by TMLutas at April 26, 2005 11:00 AM