Posted 3 февраля 2023,, 07:38

Published 3 февраля 2023,, 07:38

Modified 3 февраля 2023,, 08:11

Updated 3 февраля 2023,, 08:11

"Leave us alone!" Why Russians don't want Totalitarianism

"Leave us alone!" Why Russians don't want Totalitarianism

3 февраля 2023, 07:38
Дмитрий Михайличенко
Russian society is not yet ready to turn into a Stalinist-North Korean-type marching majority.

Dmitry Mikhailichenko, political scientist, Doctor of Philosophy

There is a lot of talk about the formation of a totalitarian regime in the country: there is indeed a vector in this direction, but the process is far from complete and contains possible forks.

Society has not become totalitarian and clearly does not want it.

 The totalitarianism of power is ensured by the monopoly on power, truth and its dissemination in the mass media and the cultural space (books, theaters, etc.). It also involves the cleansing of actors of political (and not only) disagreement. However, the regime cannot rebuild society overnight, which in Russia is by no means totalitarian.

Apoliticality and atomism are by no means the satellites of totalitarian power that provide the necessary rhythm of mobilization, consolidation, and unity of society for the regime. The ideologization of the population is taking place, but at a completely different pace.

Simply put, Russian society is not ready to turn into a Stalinist-North Korean-type marching majority. Not ready for a number of reasons.

Staying in the obese 2000s and relatively prosperous 2010s, a fairly high quality of life in megacities and, especially, capitals, formed a modernist and tolerant lifestyle and way of thinking at the level of everyday practices and life strategies. Plus, there is a steady desire to enjoy the benefits of the consumer society, although there is no consumer society in the country. There is also a distinct reluctance to isolate Russia and turn it off from the processes of globalization.

Plus, society simply wants to be left alone, and the ideological constructs that exist now do not mobilize it in the full sense of the word. The infrastructure for total mobilization in society has not been created. In this regard, the practice of partial mobilization in the fall of last year can only partially be recognized as successful, because its flip side is the mass departure of the population from the country, which caused significant damage to the economy.

The society will obviously not resist totalization, but will secretly sabotage. A totalitarian society will be when citizens sincerely shout insults on the streets or throw tomatoes at their relatives, compatriots recognized as foreign agents. A totalitarian society will become when neighbors start denouncing others for watching or listening to pro-Western mass media. There are prerequisites and examples of this, but so far they are not of a mass nature, and the apolitical majority is not totalitarian.

Nevertheless, with the depletion of economic opportunities and the outflow of the educated population from the country, the potential for covert sabotage or simple disobedience to the ideological or disciplinary guidelines of the authorities will decrease. In this regard, the dynamics of the depletion of the middle class in the country is indicative, which has significantly decreased over the covid years (yes, we can already talk about the "SWASH years").

Hence the conclusion: the potential of totalizationin the country is by no means exhausted, but society remains the main constraint, more precisely, the inertia of the lifestyle and thoughts of the majority of residents of megacities and capitals. It will not be possible to grind this factor quickly, but gradually and persistently work in this direction will intensify. Now it is an integral attribute of power, up to, at least, the transfer, whatever it may be (neither in content nor in terms).

The original is here.