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Looking for the "Russian Way"


The Soviet propaganda presented a black and white vision of the world that reflected the confrontation of the two socioeconomic and political systems. It claimed that the Soviet Union was a special and most progressive civilization destined to show the way for the rest of the world. The attitude toward capitalist countries was highly critical, negative, and even hostile.  


The collapse of the USSR caused a crisis of national identity, rekindling Russia’s perennial debate about its civilizational orientation. The Westernizers insist that Russia is part of the West and should follow models of development furnished by the United States and European countries. The Traditionalists, or Conservatives, claim that Russia has its own way.

The Soviet black and white vision of the world and the euphoric admiration of Western ways characteristic of the immediate post-Soviet period have given way to a number of ideological preferences. The disaffection with the West does not necessarily mean longing for the return to the Soviet past. But it has revived the idea of Russia’s “special path” characteristic of both traditional and Soviet mentality. 

Which Path Should Russia Follow?
(percentage of respondents) (ROMIR, 2000) 

The path of European civilization


Retake the Soviet path


Russia’s own way


Unsure which path


However, under the Soviets, the idea of a special way was clearly elaborated in Communist doctrines and was presented as the building of Communism, whereas now people find it difficult to define clearly what they mean by the “Russian way”. So far, no one has been able to explain accurately how this special road should be built and where it will lead Russia. Perhaps, the quest for the Russian way reflects another typical characteristic of the national mentality of Russians – the belief in miracles.

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