Political scientist and American affairs expert Vladimir Mozhegov authored this article for the online Russian newspaper Vzglyad. The article is essentially an appeal to Putin to bring Russia's economic system in line with Russia's persistent conservative or Christian socialism. This is an ideology that has persisted from the dawn of Russian national history in various guises (even during the Soviet era) that prioritizes the spiritual over the material. By breaking up the unbridled oligarchic capitalism characteristic of Russia's economy, Putin will be acting upon the mandate that the voters conferred upon him and will be implementing the same values that he enunciated in his 2015 National Security Strategy. If Putin were to eliminate the contradiction between foreign and domestic policy he would restore coherence and enable Russia "to show all its beauty and power to the world."
Below are excerpts from Mozhegov's article.
Vladimir Mozhegov (Source: Vz.ru)
Russians Back Putin's Foreign Policy Enthusiastically But Expect Drastic Changes Domestically
"An election is always a new cycle, a restart of political life. Even if the protagonists of the political drama remain the same. Each new political season is like a New Year’s Eve: people are expecting a renewal, hoping that all the bad things will remain behind and only good things await them in the future.
"An election is also an ideal sociological snapshot, showing us the picture of the people’s state of mind, the nation’s soul. And guessing what the people want seems not at all a difficult task today. The eloquent image of their hopes is for everyone to see.
"It is the image that is an ideal manifestation of the permanent duality of our political reality, the imbalance between the great-power imperial logic of our foreign policy and the internal reality of unbridled capitalism.
"This ambivalence of consciousness leaves its stamp on everything, turning everything we touch into some nameless gray pulp. This duality was personified, for instance, in the candidate [Pavel] Grudinin – the strawberry king, the oligarch communist who brings us the gospel of social justice.
"It is partly comical, partly sad, but it is this phenomenon that shows us our weakest, most defenceless spot, and consequently – the target for a sharp blow. Accordingly, this is our most pressing defensive task.
"So, the people are waiting for changes. And not just any changes. They want drastic changes in internal policy while keeping the country's foreign policy on the same track.
"The people want natural, self-explanatory things.
"Things so obvious that they were put down in black and white in the National Security Strategy adopted by the president’s edict on the last day of 2015.
"We can open this document and learn that the modern world is undergoing a “process of shaping a new polycentric model of the world order” (clause 13); that in this new polycentric world, Russia is aspiring to become “a leading world power” (clause 30), which, naturally, 'is giving rise to opposition from the United States and its allies, who are seeking to retain their dominance' (clause 12). Furthermore, in order to achieve its goals, Russia needs to safeguard its sovereignty and independence (clause 8), as well as “consolidation” around “the common values that shape the foundations of statehood”.
"Such fundamental values are, among others, 'the priority of the spiritual over the material', 'the norms of morality and decency', 'fairness, mutual assistance, collectivism', 'the historical unity' and “the continuity of our history' (clause 78); 'freedom and independence', cultural unity ('unity of the cultures”), 'respect for family and faith traditions', and 'patriotism' (clause 11); and the sovereignty of the financial system (clause 62). As for threats to national security, aside from 'the United States and its allies', they are 'the erosion of traditional spiritual and moral values' (clause 79) and 'vulnerability of the national financial system' to inter alia, 'speculative foreign capital' (clause 56).
"I think this suffices to create the full picture.
"Thus, according to Russia’s National Security Strategy, this security can be safeguarded only by maintaining traditional values ('priority of the spiritual over the material', family, patriotism), ensuring the unity of the people and creating an anti-globalist economy (the sovereignty of the financial system)."
Russia Wants Socialism But Not Marxist Socialism
All the above cumulatively amounts to what is called by a word familiar to everybody: 'socialism'.
"Of course, it is not Marxist socialism, but normal, conservative socialism, i.e. founded on traditional values and state (financial sovereignty!) economy. All this (pay attention again!) is expressly stated in the National Security Strategy, which is called the basic document defining the national interests of the Russian Federation and founded on the Russian Federation Constitution (clause 2).
"We are told that the Constitution forbids any kind of state ideology.
"That may be. But the Constitution cannot forbid national security. And national security is (as we have just found out) preservation and continuity of the traditional spiritual order of the country. And if the latter is not national ideology, then what is?
"The succinct word 'patriotism', used by the Strategy to flesh out this awkward collocation, is wonderful in itself. But we insist that the most appropriate name for our national ideology will be 'conservative socialism'.
"However, there are still no distinct words, clear and precise (and not streamlined) definitions, which would create an alternative to a reality that is absolutely unacceptable for us.
"And it is obvious that until our understanding of ourselves and of the surrounding world does not crystallize in these clear and precise definitions, we won’t be able to restore our true independence – what is called sovereignty in the language of politics, and identity in the language of culture.
"Over the past fifteen years, Russia landed on its feet, built up some muscles and regained its strength. In order to show all its beauty and power to the world, it only needs to find the last component – to discover its logos, its eternal idea, and to choose 'clothes to fit', i.e. ideology corresponding to its interests, as well as suitable to time and place.
"Let us elaborate on this pivotal moment. What is ideology and why do we need one?
"Once, philosopher Vladimir Solovyov noted: 'The national idea is not what the nation thinks about itself in time but what God thinks about the nation in eternity'. In this sense, the eternal idea of this or that nation can hardly be expressed by human language (the way poets and philosophers express it but an approximation of the ideal).
"Whereas ideology is something like a 'terrestrial projection' of the ideal, a more or less successful expression of the eternal idea in a specific place and time. The idea is eternal, while ideologies come and go, in accordance with the passage of time.
"So what are the foundations of the future Russian ideology? They seem to be obvious: it must be strictly Christian in character, be rooted in Russian history and culture, and, finally, have a global, universal meaning, for the Russian soul will simply not respond to any other scale of reality.
"We assert that such ideology, aimed at the star of the Russian spirit and ideal, having integrated both tradition and modernity, has already appeared and is already resonating in the nation’s soul, maybe not quite clearly yet, but as some spontaneous music, unshaped images and sounds, and is characterized by a total intellectual disorder.
"But we can all sense its approach. [It is] the approach of something in which we are ready to recognize with relief as the rising of the new sun. The same sun that was shining to us at the peak moments of our history and culture: in Prince Vladimir [the Great who converted Russia to Christianity], Rublev’s [Icon of] 'The Trinity', Pushkin and the great Russian literature…
"And we can even imagine what this new reality, this new music of the Russian soul will sound like, what name it will have. Russian conservative socialism or Russian Christian socialism – sooner or later, I think, we will inevitably come to these two or three clear words and meanings.
"And it is understandable why. Hasn’t all our history in the 20th century been endless self-reflection on the verge of this idea? What is the late USSR, with all its imperial patriarchy and the cult of traditional values, with its “Code of the builder of communism”, which goes back to the Biblical commandments, if not conservative socialism?
"In fact, all of us, all the generations that came from the USSR (with the exception of the vanishingly small amount of liberals) – both those who are dreaming about the conservative comfort and boundless stargazing of Brezhnev’s stagnation period, and those who are looking beyond, into the glory of Peter’s empire and the tsardom of Muscovy, or into the milky white mist of the Kievan-Varangian-Byzantine childhood, – we are all natural conservative socialists.
"Our current state ideology already de facto officially sounds like conservatism and patriotism. And only the reality of oligarchic capitalism is a screaming dissonance in the harmony of the nation’s soul.
"So, if there is future for Russia, it is possible only in one case: if we break the fetters of oligarchic capital, the country gains financial sovereignty and economic independence, and a new symphony of being arises in place of the current disorder.
"And this, in essence, is the only mandate that our people is giving to its president.