Foundations of Russia’s National Idea

A national idea is not invented in clubs or intellectual laboratories. It comes out of battlefields, great exploits and reforms. It is a formula of victory over challenges that Russia faces over again and again.

A national idea is not invented in clubs or intellectual laboratories. It comes out of battlefields, great exploits and reforms. It is a formula of victory over challenges that Russia faces over again and again. 

However, it is possible to draw a very transparent and approximate sketch of a national idea before it acquires an obvious physical appearance. This sketch is produced by the study of the fundamental codes of Russian history and Russian individual consciousness that have remained unchanged over the course of millennia.

Codes of history and codes of mentality

The imperial character is the code of Russia’s history. It is a history of empires that successively replaced one another– they developed, flourished, reached their acme, giving birth to splendid cultures and literature, demonstrating a surprising evolution of statehood, expanding territories and producing outstanding rulers, thinkers and prophets. Then the empires collapsed and turned into dust, creating another black hole from which the next Russian empire was born, continuing the course of development. Following this pattern, Russian civilization mere changes its guise.

There are five empires in all. The first was the Kiev-Novgorod Empire. The second, which replaced it after the disastrous Mongol-Tatar invasion, was Muscovy. The Romanov Empire was the third, which emerged after the Troubled Times. It collapsed in February 1917, leading to the terrible bloodbath of the Civil War. The chaos was overcome by Stalin, who created his own fourth Red Empire which achieved that mystical victory in 1945 and launched Russia into space.

It broke down in August 1991, creating another black hole – in which a new Russian state was agonizingly formed under Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s. Initially it seemed to be a national Russian-dominated state, but eventually it showed to be unstable, inadequate and delusory. The Parade of Sovereignties and the first Chechen War pointed to its disintegration. Vladimir Putin exerted tough pressure on this sprawling social medium and reconverted Russia to an empire. Deprived of its great outskirts and 30 million Russians, an empire it remained.

These five empires successively replace one another. The imperial code is still valid today. If the Russian state is destined to exist and develop rather than fall to pieces and die it will have to be an empire. The restoration of a full-scale empire is a tremendous national task for Russian civilization and we are doing it with mixed success.

The second aspect is the codes of individual Russian mentality. This is the Russian person’s dream of absolute divine justice. This dream has been confirmed by the monk Philotheos, who defined Moscow as the Third Rome; by Patriarch Nikon who built New Jerusalem near Moscow; the Stalinist Empire built on the concept of social justice and the current aspirations of people who live in one of the world’s most unjust states. Overcoming this injustice and returning to divine rather than simply social justice is a deeply-ingrained code of Russian mentality and it still exists today.

Thus, Russia’s national idea will be based on two concepts – the first one is the imperial revival as a principle of state development and the second one is the proposal of a model of absolute divine justice to the rest of the world.

Patriotic consciousness is a norm of existence

Patriotism is being promoted by the love of the younger generation for their weapons, flowers, coffins, mothers, heroes, knights, and visionaries and also by the understanding that the depreciation of these values will lead society to disaster. But patriotism is primarily the air in which you exist. Fish do not influence the water around them – it is the other way round. The same with patriotic mentality – it is a norm of existence for those who want to live and develop, rather than die. When the feeling of patriotism fades away, people turn into anthropogenic masses, and their country and state fall into ruin. 

In Russia, patriotic consciousness is largely inherited from the past, when a national idea permeated all spheres of public life, family included. This came to an end in 1991and began to be replaced by other energies and forces. Today the state controls television channels and engenders a hatred of traditional values in people, destroying taboos that guided human behavior over millennia. In this sense, the propaganda which the state produces is counter-patriotic and counter-human. The state wants to bring the new generations up on the country’s great victorious exploits and is mortified to see young people desecrate war monuments. But the state itself desecrated the former glorious era and is still engaged in total anti-Semitism, thereby cutting off the current generation from the great sources of the past. One of the major ideological goals of our time is to combine the 19th century of tsarist rule with the Soviet 20th century, the Stalinist era. The unification of these two centuries, the welding of this junction so as to make Russian history continuous is an enormous ideological task and the center of the battle between the liberals and the strong state loving patriots.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.