Andrei Beskov, Ph.D., researcher at the University of Minin (N. Novgorod), co-founder of the research laboratory named New Religious Movements in Modern Russia and Europe, scientific editor of the almanac Colloquium heptaplomeres.
It would seem that it’s time for us Russians to gloat - it’s nice when the more prosperous and well-to-do neighbors who are used to looking at you with squeamish squeamish do not find themselves as fabulous as you used to think. But here’s the paradox - our media at least seemed to start gloating, but quickly stopped, focusing now on various “distortions”: fanning the personality cult of the strangled police officer George Floyd, who was not an angel during his life, pillaging shops by looters, demolishing monuments to historical figures , like Columbus, “positive” discrimination, which leads to the fact that the colored population receives more privileges than white. This lack of gloating surprises even the Americans themselves.
And now, in a reputable publication Foreign Affairs, an article is published whose author is trying to figure out the reasons for such an amazing phenomenon. In his understanding, the point is the fears of the Kremlin, which would really not want to see something similar in Russia. In principle, a logical consideration, but somehow very narrowly focused. The author does not pay attention to the questions of why the understandable aversion of people to the killing of a detainee by policemen has acquired such forms and scales that should follow them and how enlightened humanity should relate to all this. And it’s just very interesting for me to speculate on these topics, and this is exactly what I propose to do to readers.
I would not want to get bogged down in empty demagogy a la television talk shows, where the hands of Soros, the Kremlin, the Democratic Party, the world behind the scenes, masons, etc. are seen as the cause of all troubles, which is why there is more talk about politics similar to reports from the arm wrestling championship. What if we allow some other reason for all these protests to exist, in addition to practicing sinister political technologies on the experimental population or strolling in honor of a sudden disobedience holiday?
I want to draw attention to a curious detail, which, in my opinion, is unfairly ignored by journalists. We are talking about that curious and paradoxical evolution, I would even say, of the castling that Russia and the West made after the collapse of the USSR. As long as our country rapidly “decommunized”, having made a sharp roll from left ideals to right, the West, in turn, became more left-wing oriented. It's funny (although, in fact, we are talking about very serious things) that Russia and the West have taken over from each other much of what they once criticized, and now again turn out to be antipodes, as if exchanging places on opposite sides of the Iron Curtain .
You don’t have to go far for examples - take at least the attitude of our state towards the idea of introducing a progressive tax scale. This idea from time to time re-emerges in the information space, but has still been invariably rejected, although in most Western countries such a system is the norm. (Perhaps for some it will be a startling discovery that the “Manifesto of the Communist Party” by K. Marx and F. Engels described progressive taxation as one of the measures designed to make the transition from capitalism to communism.)
One of the measures of such a transition, indicated in the "Manifesto", was "public and free education of all children." In this area, we have seen clear shifts - the term “upbringing” is becoming less common, it usually refers to “educational services”, which are increasingly paid, and in general, upbringing and education of children is increasingly becoming the responsibility of their parents, rather than society. At the same time, in Europe the approach to this area is completely different, state and public control over it is very tough and therefore even banal, in our opinion, absenteeism from school lessons can have severe consequences for parents of truants.
High social benefits, which allow unemployed Europeans to live well and attract migrants, do not correspond well to the image of soulless capitalism, squeezing all the juices out of a person, and most likely cause us to associate with a developed socialist society.
The ideals of internationalism instilled in us by Soviet ideology have now been replaced by propaganda of moderate nationalism, and therefore it is so strange for us today to observe the Western policy of multiculturalism, which we usually interpret as “suicide” of Western culture.
The changes in relation to religion are striking. While our state is fanning religiosity in society with all its might (but only the correct one - “traditional”), Western society is discovering atheism - the books of R. Dawkins and S. Harris become bestsellers, which, if they were written earlier, could be published by the Political Publishing House in series "Library of atheistic literature". If once the religious West branded us as atheists, then now in Europe itself religiosity is cooling more and more, churches are closing down or are being auctioned off . In the days of the USSR, the West was madly sympathetic to Orthodox priests, and indeed believing Soviet citizens, and now it is afraid of the " Orthodox Comintern ", seeing in Orthodoxy a new hostile ideology that has replaced communism, and does not miss the opportunity to reproach the Russian Orthodox Church for inertness and backwardness.
In the field of culture, you can also notice curious progress. For example, in our cinema we can talk about the Soviet past either badly or not at all. Terry anti-Sovietism leads to strange interpretations of the past, when even what we should be proud of (say, space exploration or epoch-making victories in sports) are not the achievement of Soviet society, but the personal successes of specific people almost crushed by the Soviet regime (for example, the notorious “Movement Upward”, which was just showed recently on the Day of Russia). The rejection of Soviet history and ideology by filmmakers is so great that even the book by G. Yakhina “Zuleikha opens her eyes” seemed to the producers not sharp enough. In a recent film adaptation, it had to be redone so that the viewer could not have any doubts that Soviet ideology and socialism as a whole were a bit of a mixture of sadism and Satanism. In the West, too, do not hesitate to redraw the literary best sellers. But there we see movement in a different direction - not “up”, as we have, but rather down, or, rather, towards the bottom. In the new, Italian-German film adaptation of the novel by W. Eco, “The Name of the Rose”, the storyline connected with the popular uprising led by Dolchino is reinforced in comparison with the book. The struggle of the poor commoners, oppressed by the powerful of this world, for freedom and justice is a classic plot of Soviet art, completely unclaimed in modern Russia. But in modern Europe, it can now be extremely relevant. Anyway, if in our country Marxism can be mentioned in films only in a negative context, then the Germans have a better opinion about it - this can be seen, for example, in the recent film “100 Things and Nothing Extra”.
Finally, significant changes are taking place in the areas of collective memory and ideology. The other day, in the wake of protests under the slogan "Black lives matter" in the United States, a bill was prepared to recognize June 19, the date marked as the day of the abolition of slavery in the United States, as a national holiday. Compare with the situation in Russia. Do you remember when serfdom was abolished here? Do you hear, see at least something on this subject in our media? The realization of the simple fact that for most of its history our country was a slave-owning society does not at all fit with the myth of "Russia that we lost" cultivated by our state during the "Bolshevik coup".
And on June 20, the first monument to Lenin was erected in Gelsenkirchen in western Germany. Truly, times are changing, and what could not be imagined during the heyday of the USSR and the height of the Cold War is now happening by itself. Of course, not all Germans welcome this event, but nevertheless, there is undoubtedly a certain symbolism in it - while in Russia from time to time the discussion on the necessity of burial of Lenin’s body bursts out on the TV, completely unrelevant for society, interest in his personality awakens in the West . How can one not recall the desire of DiCaprio to play the leader of the world proletariat in the cinema?
And now back to the topic of protests and unrest in Western countries. In our news releases, they look rather absurd - it is unclear who is protesting against something incomprehensible, all this leads to strange consequences, such as: demolition of monuments to historical figures, removal of the film "Gone with the Wind" from the video library, exclusion of the books "The Adventures of Huckleberry from the school curriculum Finn” and “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Nevertheless, this seeming madness has its own obvious logic - and do we Russians still not understand it? As we well know from our own historical experience, any large-scale ideological restructuring is associated with the same large-scale revaluation of values, which immediately affects both the attitude to historical events and the cultural sphere. Just as it was customary in the Soviet years to brand the crimes of the tsarist regime, so in today's Russia it is customary to talk about the “monstrous social experiment” of the Bolsheviks. It is only natural that in the West, where the ideas of equality and social justice are so strong today, the society also had to start work, sooner or later, to reassess its history and culture. And finally, the time has come for discussions about whether it is permissible to preserve monuments to the former heroes - the heroes of the times of imperialism, colonialism, slavery, racial segregation and other manifestations of a politically incorrect past, distant or near. The questions that Europeans and Americans are now asking are consonant with the questions that worried the builders of socialism and communism in our country, only in the West they came to this in an evolutionary rather than revolutionary way and therefore they were late for about a century.
Does this mean that the specter of communism is wandering around Europe again? In the sense that Marx and Engels put in this concept, linking communism with the victory of the proletariat in the class struggle, communism no longer shines for humanity, for the role of the proletariat in post-industrial society will be less and less noticeable. But since the modern world is still not ideal, harmonious and fair, the natural desire of people to improve it, which inspired the Communists, will again and again require action. Even such as the looting of modern mobile shops or the overthrow of the statues of Columbus, which became not only the discoverer of the New World, but also a forerunner of the oppression of its inhabitants.
This thirst for the further improvement of the mechanisms for building historical and social justice, which is not fully realized by modern society, does not yet have a specific name. Communism is not a very popular word today; moreover, there are no figures among modern communists who can pour new content into old furs: formulate a new program instead of the old, Marxist one, and make its popularization the only meaning of their life. But is it really in the name? The main thing is that in many countries of the world, even those that are considered the most prosperous, an understanding is ripening that our world is still very far from perfect, and there is a growing desire to improve it.
What vision of the world will we, Russians, defend? Where is it - our ideal? In the bright future, which is yet to be built on a project that does not exist yet, or in our flickering past, where the light is flashing from time to time, but then is fading away again? Will this ideal coincide with the ideals of the surrounding peoples or will we again find ourselves in an ideological and cultural isolation? That’s what we should think about.