The unbearable lightness of hatred
By Zaindi Choltayev (Russia) and Michaela Pohl (USA)
In Russia it becomes necessary from time to time for the people at the top to devise ideas that will mobilize the masses and prevent them from spending too much time thinking about what is in the public purse. During the recent St Petersburg economic forum Vice-premier Igor Shuvalov listed the key problems that might become “traps” in terms of the country’s long-term planning and economic development until 2020. The first and most important obstacle, according to Shuvalov, is the “psychology of catching up.” Russians are suffering from an obsession that they must catch up and overtake other countries, and as a result create one-sided models, forget about social aspects and end up "not exactly successfully copying foreign forms of economy and a foreign way of life."
In this context it is interesting to read the recently published interview with Alexander Dugin, “We must cut Chechnya off from politics altogether” (Prague Watchdog, June 10 2008). Dugin is not only a philosopher, but a politician and social activist, leader of the International Eurasian Movement (MED), and one of the unofficial ideologues of United Russia.
The author asserts that the monarchical model is an “organic” part of the Russian archetype, and that it alone is suited to the Russian people. In developing these none too clever theses, Dugin uses the phraseology that has become typical of the “new order”: “Russians are not evolved savages but simply savages, despite their cities, mini-skirts and shaven mugs. It is obvious that the Russians are an archaic ethnos.”
Vladimir Nikitin, an expert who writes for the “Eurasia” website, supports the political reasoning behind Dugin’s ideas. In his commentary on Dugin’s lecture “The Russian Collective Unconscious”, Nikitin remarks on the influence of the West on Russia through its own (Western) kerygma [the word used for “preaching” or “annunciation” in the New Testament], by way of the rational rather than the unconscious:
“Dugin proposes the creation of a Russian version of kerygma to prevent the suppression of the Russian unconscious through western kerygma. At some point this discourse joins the new political doctrine and becomes the ground for the birth of a new Russian nationalism, which Russia has been denied until now.” (“Dugin creates a new Russian nationalism from national archetypes,” Evrazia.org, June 2 2008).
This new nationalism which is “right” for Russians is merely another smokescreen fabricated by the powers that be, which don’t really care about either Russians or non-Russians, but only about staying in power. One could say that power has not really changed hands since Yeltsin, but has rotated internally from one player to the next. Of course even in the inner circles not everyone understood how to accommodate the rules of the game: some people left of their own accord, while others were removed, but the main point is that there was nothing democratic about the process of inheriting or changing power. Or rather, the process is becoming less and less democratic. Not everything in Russia has been divided up, not all the resources have yet been taken under control, and so the country will probably have to do without a real opposition for some time, without a real change of power.
The powers that be don’t need to catch up with anyone. But people do need to be reminded more frequently of their own specialness and uniqueness, of the unusual nature of their path to modernization and sovereignty. Dugin’s tales about the Russians’ love of tsars and their resistance to modernization and the deep Russian unconscious fit perfectly into this scheme.
Of course, Russia has been independent for several hundred years and chose her own path. Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Alexander II were hardly less Russian than today’s philosophers. But Dugin draws only one extraordinarily simple conclusion from the long and complicated history of reforms and counter-reforms in Russia: “Everyone must be given back what belongs to them. Let the West deal with its own human rights. Let everyone there take part in gay parades, but they must stop on the borders of Russia.”
Some of his views are quite realistic. For example, that Chechnya has received a monarchical system like Russia’s, and that it, just like our boot-licking mentality (“if you’re the boss, I’m a fool, if I’m the boss, you’re a fool”), ought to stop at the border with Chechnya. Or, that politics in Chechnya has essentially already been forbidden, “in the form of ‘99 percent for United Russia’.” But why must things remain this way, and why should politics continue to be forbidden?
Dugin thinks that the Chechens, like Russians, have not been affected by modernization. For Dugin, they have become “consumers of cargo”, meaning that all technical progress has originated in the exploitation of alien labor and in foreign modernization deriving from outside the country, not from within it. According to Dugin, no real change in subjectivity (crucial for modernity) has taken place among Russians, and even less among Chechens. He argues that society itself has almost failed to develop at all, that it has been only superficially touched by socialization. All his arguments about the Chechens (that they are unique, tribal, completely barbarian in a “good way”), lend themselves to a specific argument. How should the Chechens live within Russia?
Certainly, according to Dugin, they must not be democratized in ways that are not understood even by Russians themselves. They must be cut off from politics, receive satraps in the form of Russian governors or inspectors who come in to solve strategic and global issues. “They will, of course, have no right to make decisions on political issues, on leaving or entering the Russian federation. They will simply discuss who stole how many sheep, or how some fine young lad distinguished himself in horse riding or shashlyk on the annual national holiday. And they will all be very busy.” In other words, put shackles on the Chechens, artificial brakes on their development, outlaw higher education in order to conserve society as it is and with it, “remnants” of the past, “making sure that no more than three Chechens ever gather at once, that they don’t invent any political projects, and that what they engage in at their traditional assembles and festivals is the performance of their ritual dances and the discussion of their ethnic problems. And those who want to read Pushkin – by all means! Open a special Russification University for them, so they can merge into the common federal space.”
We think that American-style “Indian reservations” and banal interpretations of archetypes enrich neither politics nor philosophy, but Dugin thinks otherwise. “I recently introduced the term ‘archeo-modern’. It explains everything.” A kind of magical solution, more powerful than history, social experience, and law. The recipes of United Russia’s official ideologue for the building of state and society are amazingly primitive. Some of the time he sounds like a sergeant barking at his recruits, and at other times like a missionary among wild tribes. Dugin has fallen in love with people who supposedly do not want to be part of the future. He builds pedestals for barbarism and wants the entire nation to remain stuck in some imaginary past. But these are all illusions. This idealization of the past, of traditions, of what is “natural” has been the preserve of a certain type of theorizer, beginning with Rousseau and ending with the ideologues of the Third Reich. Real people are, however, constituted differently and their choices will rarely be directed to the past. Their concerns are for the future – they think about their children, their houses, or the trees they have planted.
The study of archetypes, of a person’s inner past and unconscious, originally had goals that were intended to support these processes, not suppress them. Freud and Jung believed that the analysis of inner processes could remove internal obstacles, help people act more decisively, make them feel more self-assured and comfortable with their own symbolic world. Jungian therapy involves the finding and freeing of one’s own archaic powers in order to overcome crises, to go on, and to attain new heights.
But Dugin’s study of Russian archetypes has merely led him to the statement that “democracy is impossible, unacceptable for Russia. Russia needs only dictatorship and authoritarianism. That is how it was, how it will be and how it is now, even if periods of false democracy might be permitted from time to time.”
Dugin openly wants to introduce segregation, to take political rights away from entire ethnic groups. This is deeply unconstitutional. The Russian constitution does, after all, view propaganda aimed at the furtherance of social, racial, or national superiority as a crime. Dugin thinks of all the people of Russia as tribal and is convinced that modernization has not changed their archaic essence – for him they remain barbarians and idol-worshippers.
These are dangerous injections into Russia’s consciousness (not its unconscious). They have as their goal the paralysis of peoples’ conscious will towards change, progress, and development. All Dugin leaves them is the role of people led by instincts and the authority of the masses, stuck in some “ideal state of savagery.”
This does not even deserve the name of fascism. It is really an expression of the mindset of the post-Soviet bourgeois elites, whose extremely limited views have ended up as a kind of colonialism. Russian nationalists love to cite Kipling. They believe in their right to shape “human material” that has hardly been modernized at all, and will remain primitive and barbarian. They don’t even really care about “blood”, whether Russian, Chechen, or Tatar: for them the main thing is their conviction that all blood flows in veins belonging to primitives who need to be controlled from the outside. This bourgeois elite fears nothing more than change, and that is why the prayer for stability became the main refrain of the Putin era. Its essence is simply a desire to preserve the current order and to stow it away into as distant a past as possible. This is the source of all the “special path” thinking, the emphasis on monarchism and the” tribal nature” of ethnic groups.
The short-sightedness of the Russian patriots is astonishing. Right now there are a lot of them at all levels – horizontal, vertical, in Moscow, Kazan, in the Urals and in the Caucasus. Do they really think that calls for barbarism and the provoking of hatred among ethnic groups make sense? While they themselves dream of empire as they destroy what remains of the country? Dugin has the box of matches, but the future fire might consume everything.
Picture taken over from http://foto.mail.ru/mail/saitafern/3479/3895.html.
(Translation by DM)