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Putin's Statism

 

It is those characteristics that Putin singles out as a core of Russian traditional values, which may, perhaps, provide the key to explaining the basic elements of his political views. He puts special emphasis on patriotism, social protection, and a strong state. Putin speaks of positive patriotism, based not on “nationalist conceits and imperial ambitions,” but on a “feeling of pride in one’s country, its history and accomplishments.” It is a patriotism springing from the belief that “Russia was and will remain a great power” as an effect of “the inseparable characteristics of its geopolitical, economic and cultural existence.” Putin also emphasizes Russia’s collectivist ethos that has “always prevailed over individualism.”  

 
Putin practicing judo. Photo: kremlin.ru

Russian collectivism is a form of corporatism, based on paternalistic relations between the state and society. Paternalistic sentiments have struck deep in Russian society: “The majority of Russians are used to connecting improvements in their own condition more with the aid and support of the state and society than with their own efforts, initiative and flair for business. And it will take a long time for this habit to die.”

All this has conditioned an exceptionally important role of the state and its structures in the life of the country and its people: “For Russians a strong state is not an anomaly which should be got rid of. Quite the contrary, they see it as a source and guarantor of order and the initiator and main driving force of any change.”

In Putin’s opinion, there is little point speculating whether the Russian tradition of a strong, paternalistic state and collectivist forms of activity is good or bad: “The important thing is that such sentiments exist. What is more, they still prevail. That is why they cannot be ignored.”

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