Stanton, VA, October 26, 2016 – The fact that many of the best and the brightest of young Russians are studying abroad or even choosing to move there permanently has riled Russian social networks in recent weeks. But in an even more alarming development, some of these bright young people are expressing contempt for Russia even if they have not yet left it.
The latest such case involves a statement by Elina Bazhayeva, the 22-yar-old daughter of Chechen oligarch Musa Bazhayev. A student at Moscow State Institute for International Relations (MGIMO), she declared on the basis of her experience on an educational exchange in the US that “everywhere is better than Russka”.
In a survey of the response to Bazhayeva’s remark, Andrey Polunin of Svobodnaya pressa notes that a Duma deputy has said that he will make sure that Bazhayeva never gets a position in the Russian foreign ministry which is the place many MGIMO graduates go.
The rector of MGIMO said he would have a conversation with her, and not soon thereafter, Bazhayeva backed down, said she had been entrapped, and added that her remarks had been taken out of context and misunderstood. But it is clear, Polunin suggests, that many children of Russia’s new elite feel the same and think they are above the law and better than the masses.
Unfortunately, the journalist continues, there is mounting evidence that they have good reason to think that. They aren’t judged as harshly as others and they get away with saying and doing things others could not. And that, he says, represents an indictment of the elite more generally and not just the children of the elite.
Mikhail Remizov, the president of the Moscow Institute for National Strategy, agrees. He says that “the Russian elite really shows its low quality,” including on such measures as loyalty to its own country and ability to “create and not just act like parasites.” The children of the elite simply and more radically “express the views of their parents.”
He suggests that it is long past time to give members of this elite a patriotic education and to punish those who do not reflect patriotic positions. “A worthy elite isn’t going to grow up by itself,” Remizov says. “It must be the subject of social engineering.”
Yekaterinburg political analyst Fyodor Krasheninnikov offers another perspective. According to him, “the contemporary elite in the entire world is cosmopolitan, and the Russian elite is no exception. That is its style of life and only in such a manner under contemporary conditions, the world of global capitalism can this elite exist.”
If an individual is rich and can live broadly, he sooner or later will be transformed into a citizen of the world,” Krasheninnikov says. “The ‘golden youth’ grow up in this milieu and for entirely banal reasons do not understand why it is necessary to lie and to say that living in Russia is best of all.”
From his perspective, the Yekaterinburg analyst says, he is far more concerned by another situation, the one in which “people profess love for patriotic values but themselves live a greater part of the time abroad.” Those people by their actions are showing what they really think of the country of their birth.
He added that the case of Bazhayeva might have not attracted so much attention except for her father, the Chechen oligarch. In his view, Krasheninnikov says, “the game is being directed not against Elina Bazhayeva but against her father.” Nonetheless, what she said is not terribly different from what many other children of Russia’s elite would say.
Staunton, VA, October 26, 2016 – Russia is engaged in an ideological struggle with liberalism at home and abroad, the influential Russian Eurasianist Aleksandr Dugin says. Moscow has clearly articulated what it is against, but having failed to develop an ideology of its own, it remains incapable to saying what it is for and thus risks losing this competition.
In a TV interview, Dugin says “the West criticizes Russia and each of our actions be they in Crimea, Novorossiya or Syria from the position of liberalism.” And because of that, Russians in general and Vladimir Putin in particular have come to view liberalism as hostile to Russia.
To defeat it, the Eurasianist says, Russia must do two things, the first of which it is on its way to doing – rooting out all the liberalism which “put down deep roots” in Russian life beginning in the 1990s – and the second, articulating its own ideology to put in place of liberalism, something it has not yet done.
Ultimately, he suggests, “these two things are closely connected” because “we cannot pull out liberalism by the roots, if we do not find something to replace it.” And unfortunately, “the bearers of the liberal virus do everything … to sabotage from the inside any effort to advance a consistent alternative ideology” based on Russian identity and exceptionalism.
They are helped in this by the fact that in modern times, there have been only two ideologies opposed to liberalism, Dugin says. These are communism and fascism, “including various forms of nationalism,” and both are anathema to Russia because of their specific historical experience.
Consequently, many feel that “if we reject liberalism then we are forced to oppose to it either Marxism and communism or forgive the expression fascism.” It is possible to put various “fig leaves” on these, but their “essence remains unchanged.” And Russians know this as do their opponents.
“Perhaps,” Dugin continues, “that is why we are afraid to fight for an ideology.” But in the current ideological war, Russia must have one. “We simply have no other way out if we want to escape this vicious circle” except by coming up with a new ideology, the fourth, instead of the existing three.
“In modern times, there is no such theory because liberalism, communism and fascism exhaust all the theoretical possibilities laid down in the era of the Enlightenment,” Dugin argues. But in the current post-modern period, it is possible to construct a fourth political theory by turning to both the past and the future.
“In the past,” he argues, “we see the ideal of tradition, empire, the holy Christian monarchy and the symphony of power. This is not liberalism, communism or fascism,” but something else entirely. And that means that with the new ideology, “modernity and its axioms must be sacrificed.”
At the same time, the new, fourth, ideology, must be constructed with a view to the future as well; and having done that, it will be possible to “throw into the trash heap” liberalism, communism and fascism, and thus liberate Russia from all three. “It is possible,” he says, that “that will be completely compatible with the rebirth of tradition.”
“Let this be called a Conservative Revolution,” Dugin says. That may sound “paradoxical” but Russia has no other path available. It must have an ideology. It can’t use any of the existing three. And so it must turn to what he calls “the Fourth Political Theory.”