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The Liberal Project in Russia Has Been Exhausted

A famous writer considers how traditional Russian ideals are ripe for a comeback

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Today's Russia is full of problems and contradictions. They buzz, grow and collide, ready to turn the fragile state developed since 1991 into chaos. Everyone is hoping the president will make changes, and each offers his own recipe. Various economic schools propose ways to overcome the economic downturn, contradicting each other as to how to stop the drop in production and revive economic growth. Deputies adopt laws, tirelessly work on bills they believe will tame corruption, destroy foci of extremism, eliminating threats of an"Orange revolution". Moralists want “degenerate” TV programs to be shut down and education reformed.

But no pre-election communique suggests changing ideals, the basic images used as models for society. Since 1991, the image of the selfless hero, creator, romantic dreamer, sacrificing himself for the Motherland has been, replaced in the gallery by a successful moneymaker, an insatiable consumer, a man who dominates others, a proud winner of battles, who turns others into losers, under the ideological spotlight.

<figcaption>Sevmash, a nuclear subs construction yard was one of those unique plants saved by engineers and workers from liberal privatizers</figcaption>
Sevmash, a nuclear subs construction yard was one of those unique plants saved by engineers and workers from liberal privatizers

Traders, bankers, show biz stars and high profile judges are society’s new models, inspiring laws, movies and social hierarchies. And we achieved what this led us to: wealth acquired not through hard work, but through greed, and people who, in pursuit of the next deal, no longer look up at the sky, seeing the stars above. Skeptics and cynics who do not believe in good, defilers and blasphemers breaking the last taboos and transforming men into beasts.

The liberal project that forms the basis for post-Soviet Russia has been drained to the last drop, leading to a gaping hole ready to swallow the new Russia.

It’s too bad that in the election debates even the brightest candidates were incapable of formulating new ideals. They talked about oil, war, goods, but no one mentioned heroes, sons of the Motherland, Russia’s eternal creativity where, through labor and hardship, a future human is born, atoning for the fathers sins, overcoming flesh and moving personal goals and aspirations from his groin and stomach to his heart, mind and soul.

The "just man" is the ideal of Russia’s entire history from our ancient fairy tales and religious creeds to great novels and political treatises: the ideals of fairness, kindness, generosity, of humanity and unlimited cosmic creativity offered to us by Russian culture and the Orthodox Church. All this is at hand, but distorted, even mistreated and abused. The changes society yearns for must above all relate to these ideals taken from the great Russian classics and bottomless Russian faith, which are returning. They will undergird laws and industries , a new patriotic elite will be born, new science and culture will flourish.

It’s wrong to say that the 90s were pitch-dark. They were years of villains and robbers, but also of great saints. While liberal ideologues were mocking patriotic feelings, rejecting love of country and its people, during the first Chechen war, a young soldier, Eugene Rodionov, sacrificed his life, refusing to betray his army, his faith and his country. Soldiers of the Sixth airborne division saved the army from defeat and Russia from disintegrating.

As great factories were plundered, precious documents highjacked, unique technologies destroyed, engineers and workers saved secrets, defended their machines though receiving no salary, only insults, fighting off attacks by robbers, saving our great legacy for the future. Missile-builders, shipwrights, physicists, survived and passed on to the new generation the untold wealth of the country.

The patriotic intelligentsia were called obscurantists and fascists by liberals, defamed and deprived of media presence, stoically defending its ideals, saving its novels, scripts and plays for better days, when the suffering of heroes would nourish their contributions to the common cause.

Following elections to the new State Duma, the executive branch gained enough credibility to make changes. We are waiting for them with baited breath, ready to participate, serving the people and the state.

A single particle from the future could reanimate frozen matter, setting off a chain reaction of new life. We’re waiting for it.

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