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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

“Cultural code” of the Russians requires a modern decryption

In search of an answer to the question why Russia has been more than a century with frightening regularity drives off the reform track once a historical dead end, often the argument is about a kind of national “cultural code”. Moreover, attempts to link attitude to reforms with a share of the population in a particular region consider Russian their native or another language.

photo: Alex geldings

Of course there is a natural question how it is possible in our time, after decades of Soviet power that their actions are simply mixed almost all pre-revolutionary ethnic groups in the melting pot of huge migration from villages to cities, from one region to another through intermarriage, to isolate the “real Russian” or, for example, “of the Tartar”? Along religious lines, as was customary with the king (Orthodox, Moslems, Jews, etc.)? But the same Soviet government very successfully deprived the average Russian person and religious identity. For example, do not delude figures that among our population is already 20% Muslim. The vast majority of them (except for some places in the North Caucasus) mosque is visited very rarely, five times daily prayer do not make, although purely culturally identify themselves as Muslims. Exactly the same applies to the part of our population which considers itself Orthodox.

Therefore, with the exception of a very few survivors indeed obvious ethnic-religious groups, the rest of the population of Russia is a pretty average weight. Well-known research of “Levada-Center”, which shows an increasing trend towards harsh primitivism of mass consciousness and perceptions of citizens about the reality of social institutions and to protect their interests. The flip side of this phenomenon — the leveling group differences in Russian society. In this sense, if we are still talking about our “culture code”, it is rather international, non-religious and extra-territorial.

However, returning to the main idea, I ask myself: but does it make sense to speak of Russian “cultural code”, even if it is typical, for example, 86% of the population? To answer this question, let’s turn our attention to some social phenomena that happened literally before our eyes, in the 25 years history of the new Russia.

First recall the 1990‑ies. In 1991-1992‑m collapsed all the foundations of the previous regime, including in the economy. GDP fell sharply, radically decreased standard of living. How it responded to the “Russian people”? Not a riot and not hopelessly-submissive bedding to the bottom. The people, realizing that the state did not wait, began to fuss: someone engaged in Shuttle business, someone went to trade stuff, somebody has to provide the services, someone “sat down on a garden”… Unfortunately, the stress proved fatal to the health and lives of millions, especially men, who tore tendons in order to feed their families. But even the default of 1998 did not move the people to mass protests.

By the way, started in 1999, economic recovery in the first few years was ensured not so much the growing world prices for oil and gas, as increasing the loading of existing capacities in the Russian industry, with the consequent effects in the form of wage growth and consumer demand. It was then, in the mid‑2000s, when the people’s power of the masses was far from the requirements of state paternalism could be a series of institutional reforms to consolidate this “cultural code” in the strategic perspective. Instead, the state first, began to bend under his direct and indirect control an increasing share of the economy and, secondly, pour on part of the population brought into the country by a stray wind windfall from the sale of raw materials. As a result, we quickly came to plight of small business and mass paternalism.

Talking about this case? That the behavior of large masses of people can change quickly — in both positive and destructive side. Many (but not all!) depends on the government policies that can create these tides. Even 70 years of Soviet totalitarian pressing brain in 1991 was useless at one point. That is why I hope that the next attempt to bring people to the grey mass of “human capital” will be over much faster the Communist experiment.

Another illustration of this is the North Caucasus. It would seem, looking from Moscow, it is possible to draw a conclusion about the inability of local indigenous populations to civilized self-development. And the history of these edges seem to be evidence about this, and the Islamic factor. Many say that in this region of the notorious reforms are doomed to failure — this will prevent clans, particularly systemic corruption, and a lot more specific factors. But let’s look at the situation from the other side. The spirit of entrepreneurship in the North Caucasus developed as anywhere else. People did not shun any work — as long as it provided income. Yes, the mentioned above circumstances exist, but with the right approach they can be overcome. Look at the example of Turkey and Indonesia, which is combine Islamic traditions and emerging modern market economy. And it is not necessary to exaggerate the peculiarities of our Northern Caucasus from the perspective of a successful self-sufficient economic and social development.

Another case, which suggests that the Russian “cultural code” is not a sentence even close to our future is the fate of our exile. As you know, in the 70‑ies of the last century from the country, many began to leave for “Jewish”, and then “German” lines. In fact, the national origin was the only reason to search abroad for a better life to millions “typical” of the Soviet people. And in the 90‑ies this thread lost even the formal ethnic coloring. What happened with the former our fellow citizens?

It is clear that in the environment of emigrants is repentant in his decision, but to say that among the vast array of our former widespread nostalgia for Russia, would be a blatant exaggeration. Despite the obvious difficulties of adjusting to a new place of residence, those who could work, one way or another settled. Not always well-paid and prestigious places, but quite sufficient in order not to fall into poverty. And the unemployed get let and modest, but lets not think about how to live tomorrow, state social assistance. And their children and grandchildren, and quite successfully went to school, to University, went into business, feeling already no Russian, and ordinary citizens of the new country, living by its rules and within its institutions.

The task of those who would like a civilized European future of Russia is not to build a deeply flawed scheme, which boils down to this: our people (“human capital”) is overloaded “cultural code” of feudalism and paternalism, so it is necessary, like blind kittens, to lead enlightened ruler based on a group of elitist intellectuals. A sort of autocratic Singapore, is only enhanced if you take the territory and population, thousands of times. Really need to go on the reverse: in all possible ways to free people from the largely artificial and suffocating their shackles of despair and passivity. It is important part in the local elections — the example of Moscow is encouraging and could be replicated. One of the control arms — civic education, which very quickly clears the brain, clogged with all sorts of propaganda slag. If to speak about the intellectuals, they should be prepared to offer concrete mechanisms of involvement (participation) of any who still retain the capacity of public and political activity, the transformation of their neighborhood, region, country.

To rely only on “monarch’s” will to reform in the Annex to the silent people is to condemn Russia for the next ordeal.


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