№ 1, 2019
The article explores reasons and political meaning behind the fact that in the modern Russia the government is increasingly using allusions to the past. On the basis of the post-fundamentalist tradition in Political Philosophy, the author claims that during the third term of Vladimir Putin’s presidency, history turned into a quasi-transcendence aimed at enriching political life with value dimension. In particular, the following phenomena are supportive of this statement: securitization of historical memory and the use of historical arguments to justify important political decisions. Why history was chosen as a major source of value legitimization of Russian polity can be explained by the seeming objectivity of historical facts and the underdeveloped moral discourse in modern Russia, when ethics of virtue trumps ethics of principles.
On the basis of the discourse analysis of Vladimir Putin’s speeches in 2012—2018 the author concludes that state is the main actor of the Russian history, and a key political virtue is service to the state. Concrete historical events or figures are used to play a role of examples of serving the state. The arguments based on history are persuasive because first, the past is perceived as objective, and second, the images of the heroes who sacrificed their lives for the sake of their motherland possess emotional strength. The latter does not only explain the prevalence of commemorating military events in the Russian history, but also relegation of the topic of political repressions to the outskirts of the public space, so that the emotionally strong images of victims are not used to justify alternative political values.
Vladimir Putin, by the means of the performative statements, introduces historical topics into different areas of state activity and expands the space of the relevant past by emphasizing the pre-revolutionary period. The repertoire of the historical past used for political goals comes down to the events that precede the beginning of the 1990s i.e., to that “moment of the Political”, when the process of the formation of the modern Russian polity unfolded. This leads to the increasing autonomization of the space of the collective memory. Relating the collective “We” to the distant pages of the past requires imagination. However, this very imagination often produces its own world of meanings, which is completely divorced from the real political problems of today.
Main Page ~ Authors ~ Savin Nikita