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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Russia, into the Vortex

Blogger/scholar Paul Goble reports that Russia is becoming more and more a carbon copy of Germany as Hitler rose to power:

Contemporary Russia resembles Germany at the time of Hitler’s rise in Germany, with a population increasingly dominated by “the ideology of revaunchism,” according to a leading Russian specialist on ethnicity. And as a result, fascism is rapidly gaining ground.
Sergei Arutyunov, the head of the sector on the Caucasus at the Institute of Ethnology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, offered that judgment at a meeting in Moscow yesterday devoted to inter-ethnic relations in Russia in the year since the Kondopoga riots. One of the more outspoken Russian ethnographers, Arutyunov is not so much reviving Western discussions in the 1990s about the possible emergence of “Weimar Russia” as focusing on the increasingly negative attitudes of that country’s ethnic Russians toward other groups and especially toward migrants. Other participants at yesterday’s session provided data that appears to support Arutyunov’s conclusions. Aleksandr Brod, director of the Moscow Human Rights Bureau, said that in the year since Kondopoga, the problems of inter-ethnic relations in Russia had remained “just as they were” or become even worse. Since the beginning of 2007, he said, there had been more than 170 cases of inter-ethnic violence, which had led to 51 deaths and 230 major injuries. Most of these crimes, he noted, had occurred in the Russian capital, Moscow oblast, Nizhniy Novgorod oblast and St. Petersburg. Brod added that the authorities have been unwilling to talk about how to address this problem. The law enforcement organs do not respond to complaints, actions, and the literature of neo-Nazi ideologues. [And prosecutors] either do not want or cannot take up these cases.” And Vladimir Muromel, head of the Moscow Center for Ethnopolitical and Regional Research, agreed. “What has happened” in the year since Kondopoga? he asked. “What has been done for preventing inter-ethnic conflicts. The laws remain the same,” as does “the concept paper on nationality policy.”

“On the other hand,” he noted, “foreigners are being driven out, the quota for [new] arrivals has been reduced twice, and the authorities have begun to speak more carefully about repatriation” even of ethnic Russians lest that become the occasion for new conflicts. Not surprisingly, the statements of these specialists have not attracted much attention beyond the Internet sites of a few human rights groups. But of course, this lack of coverage itself is part of the problem: the dangerous growth of the sense that the time has come for Russians to take their revenge against members of other groups.

The onset of fascism is not the only apocalypse identifed by Goble, but rather only one side of a vice moving to crush Russia between its pincers. The other side is open class warfare, exactly the same as Russia had leading up to the Bolshevik revolution:

Fifty percent of Russians say that “contradictions” between rich and power are now “very sharp” in their home areas -- more than twice the share of those who say the same about relations between ethnic Russians and non-Russians, longtime residents and migrants, and Orthodox Christians and Muslims. At the end of September, the Moscow Center for Social Prognostication asked 4,000 Russian Federation citizens about their views as part of that institution’s effort to evaluate the relative attractiveness to the electorate of the various parties competing the upcoming parliamentary elections. The respondents were asked “which social contradictions in [their] region (town) in [their] view are the most sharp?” They were given the opportunity to indicate that a particular conflict was “very sharp,” “present but not very sharp” or “don’t exist or are small.” Here are the percentages – with the three possible responses listed respectively in each case – for the top 11 categories: rich and power – 50.5, 29.1, and 11.0; the authorities and the people – 48.0, 31.3, and 11.4; Moscow and the provinces – 36.6, 33.1, and 21.0; and ethnic Russians and non-Russians – 24.5, 36.3, and 29.9. Other categories and the responses included clashes between younger and older generations – 23.1, 43.4, and 24.3; the authorities and the oligarchs – 18.7, 34.0, and 38.0; long-time residents and migrants – 18.2, 40.8, and 31.7; and Orthodox Christians and Muslims – 16.0, 33.8, and 40.9. And still a third set of categories and the responses of Russians to them involved tensions between democrats and opponents of democracy – 12.1, 35.1, and 43.5; the Western oriented and supporters of an independent path of development for Russia – 11.0, 32.0, and 47.7; and between active and passive people – 9.5, 33.9, and 47.3.

As Mikhail Tulskiy points out in his APN commentary on this poll, these results suggest that the Russian electorate should be more responsive to those politicians, parties and groups which advocate left-of-center policies and that voters today are less exercised by ethnic, religious and migration issues than many now assume. Indeed, the Moscow analyst argues, only Russians living in Moscow and St. Petersburg identify the influx of migrants as being a sufficiently sharp problem to push it up to third place in the ranking, with Russians living elsewhere evaluating this particular divide as being of less moment. That judgment may be correct, but there is another possibility: If one combines those concerned about relations between Russians and non-Russians, Moscow and the provinces, and Orthodox and Muslims – categories that overlap – then these “ethnic” issues could in fact prove more potent than a first reading of these results might suggest. Such a possibility is suggested by the findings of a second poll that was released last Thursday by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM) concerning Russians’ attachment to and attitudes about religion as faith and as identity.

Although 53 percent of the respondents identified themselves as religious, compared to six percent who indicated that they were “convinced atheists,” only ten percent of the Russian sample indicated that they took part in religious life on a regular basis. But more intriguing, those questioned by VTsIOM pollsters at the end of August and beginning of September were asked to specify the reasons why they believed Russians turn to religion, a surrogate for the unasked question of why the respondents themselves did so. Twenty-one percent said that people turn to religion because a particular faith is part of their own national traditions, with roughly the same saying they did so for comfort in times of grief or seeing it as providing a moral ideal for their lives. Significantly smaller shares said it reflected fashion, belief in the supernatural, or backwardness. Intriguingly, ten percent of the sample said they saw no indication that Russians were in fact now turning more to religion. And in response to a third question – what should be the source of moral values for the rising generation, 67 percent said the family, 17 percent said the school, five percent said television and the mass media, and only four percent said religious organizations. That last pair of figures prompted some Russian news agencies to suggest that Russians “trust television and the mass media more than ‘spiritual leaders’” to provide the primary source of moral guidance for members of the next generation in that country. That almost certainly is a distortion, but the fact that these data permit someone to draw that conclusion highlights a fundamental truth: religious groups in Russia today overwhelming have far less influence as moral leaders than they do as signifiers of national traditions and identities.


Anonymous said...

Yo stupido, Germany had a collapsed economy before The Great Patriotic War while Russia's is booming.

Once again dipsheet, your lack of travel to Russia highlights your inability to understand it.

Time to focus more on Hillary. You are losing your touch on Russia.

Anonymous said...

randy moss "dipshit" before the second world war the national socialists had completely turned Germany's economy around and they were booming, but 1939 they had virtually no unemployment. NAZI Germany was not Weimar Germany "dipshit". Your lack of knowledge of history highlights your inability to understand anything in the modern world.... "dipshit"..

Anonymous said...

As they say, sociology is an exact science: you always get the results you've paid for. :)