De wereld waarin we leven, die van Huntington

Carl Mydans: Clothes line by Novodevichy Monastery in Moscow (1959)

Een recensie van het nieuwe boek van Ilya Budraitskis: Мир, который построил Хантингтон и в котором живем все мы (The World Invented by Huntington in which We All Live), dit jaar verschenen in Moskou bij Tsiolkovsky. De bespreking is van Vasily Kuzmin en vertaald door Rossen Djagalov in het Engels.

Vasily Kuzmin


One of many vampire Trump faces online (anonymous).

The Tsiolkovsky publishing house just brought out the new book of our comrade Ilya Budraiskis. It is a study of conservatism, starting from the emergence of this tradition to its concrete expressions in Russian society. Indeed, the reader will be particularly interested in the latter. Today’s conservative turn in Russian society represents a fascinating combination. Having originated on the ground of neoliberal reforms, it has shifted its rhetoric since then. If its initial discourse was about some “normalization” and the overcoming of the consequences of “shock therapy,” then towards the beginning of the 2010s this was no longer necessary.

After the Bolotnaya protests the Putin regime was forced to seek a different ideological legitimacy. It was precisely the regime established the famous “spiritual foundations (“dukhovnye skrepy”), on which it still rests and proclaimed the imperative to defend the god-given Russian state from the assassination attempts of the revolutionaries, led by the evil West. “The silent majority,” in this logic, supports the state, assisted in this by the new conservative morality and culture. But there are problems with this morality. Ilya points out that even after proclaiming patriotism and homophobia, patriotic bureaucrats still send their children to London whereas Orthodox members of Parliament are having fun in private gay parties.

The author’s term “anti-revolution” is also very apt. This is the most precise characterization of the state ideology of the Russian federation in the next decade. It is precisely anti- rather than counter- since the latter assumes some new and social forms.

The paradox lies in the fact that the weaker the chances of a revolution, the more virulent is the state’s fear and repression. And it’s perfectly possible that its thoroughly exaggerated and inadequate cautionary measures will lead to a result completed opposite to the one intended.

The attention to conservative Russian values reached its peak during the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Indeed, Huntington enjoyed a resurgence at the time: in his Clash of Civilizations, he predicted the division of the world into eight civilizations, defined by political culture and religious-ethical norms. To Russia he assigns the role of a core state of the aggressive “Orthodox civilization.”

For Huntington, such civilizational belonging amounts the most stable of properties. But after the peak there inevitably comes a decline. The commercialization of education and medicine, the pension reform, the sovereign internet and other “presents” to the population are clearly not helping the regime’s stability. Russia’s president is not opposed to playing the role of the eternal authoritarian leader.

The world Huntington invented has become the world Putin inhabits. Will the readers also want to live in this world, closing their mouths with conservative ideological pacifiers—this is the question that the author leaves us with. To understand the nature of the enemy is to get a trump card in the struggle with him. This is why Ilya Budraitskis’s book is so important and necessary reading for anyone who doesn’t want to accept the current status quo.

LEFTEAST9 maart 2020

anticapitalistIlya Budraitskis, “What Can We Learn From Vampires and Idiots,” from The World Invented by Huntington, in which We All Live

Ilya Budraitskis is historicus, curator en politiek schrijver. Hij is redacteur van Moscow Art Magazine,, LeftEast, Post-Post-Soviet? Art, Politics and Society in Russia at the Turn of the Decade samen met Ekaterina Degot en Marta Dziewanska (University of Chicago Press, 2013) en Pedagogical Poem met Arseniy Zhilyaev (Marsilio, 2014), waarvan hij ook de auteur is.

Uitgelichte foto: bron

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