Staunton, April 12 – Moscow’s new five-year plan for promoting patriotism among the young is not only better financed – spending will more than double – but far more militaristic than the program it replaces and than the Soviet-era projects in this sphere, according to an analysis by Anton Chablin, a commentator for Kavkazskaya Politika.
The Russian State Military Historical-Cultural Center has presented its program for the patriotic training of citizens for the period 2016-2020. This is the fourth such program in post-Soviet Russia. The new program calls for a doubling of government spending on this issue despite all economic difficulties.
But what is most striking, Chablin says, is that the focus of the program is almost exclusively on military themes and within the almost exclusively on World War II rather than any other older or more recent conflicts. The number of activities it calls for in non-military areas can be counted “on one hand.”
“Even in Soviet times,” the North Caucasus expert says, “when the militarization of mass consciousness was much higher than in contemporary Russia, labor achievements were the basis of government agitation and propaganda. Why did the authors of the new state program decide not to use that experience?”
“And even the military pages of the history of Russia are reflected in it selectively: there is not a word about the Fatherland War of 1812 and only one reference to World War I.” Moreover, despite all the talk about the defense of traditional values, there are only a few references to families, even in a military context.
Two expects in the region with whom Chablin spoke agreed and added details. Svetlana Ivanova, an ethnographer at the North Caucasus Federal University, said that in addition to military issues, there are many civilian accomplishments that should be the subject of state “mythologization.”
Moreover, she said, “over the last 25 years, in our country there have been many declared and undeclared wars, and there is a generation of heroes closer to young people from them that is closer than the heroes of decades earlier.” These wars and these heroes, she said, need to be addressed as well, however complicated that may be.
And Yury Vasiliyev, the head of the Stavropol branch of the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service, said the program for 2016-2020 was defective in many ways. On the one hand, he said, it reads like a dissertation rather than a plan for action. And on the other, it ignores a critical dimension in any national myth-making involving patriotism.
There is no reference in the program, he pointed out, to the “concept of ‘ethnic patriotism,’ even though civic patriotism can be promoted only through ethnic patriotism. For example, for Muslims, this is reliance on traditional society, a traditional system of values, the family, respect for elders and a desire to defend their own territory.”