Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Window on Eurasia: Putin Wants to Promote the Kind of Patriotism that Helped Bring Down the Soviet Union, Ganapolsky Says

Paul Goble

Staunton, December 28 – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wants to promote patriotism in the Russian Federation “on the Soviet model,” a leading Moscow commentator says, without apparently recognizing that it was precisely that model “which led to the collapse” of the Soviet Union.
In a post on his Ekho Moskvy blog, Moscow observer Matvey Ganapolsky describes Putin’s call yesterday to develop “all-Russian patriotism” in order to “secure national unity in the country” and the absence of ethnic conflicts such as existed, according to the prime minister’s understanding, during the Soviet period (echo.msk.ru/blog/ganapolsky/737385-echo/).
According to the definition provided by Wikipedia, the commentator says, patriotism is “a moral and political principle and social feeling the content of which is love for the fatherland and a readiness to subordinate one’s private interests to its interests.” There are other definitions of course, Ganapolsky observes, but this will do.
Most people love their country because they love aspects of it like nature or culture or history. But Putin sees “the path to patriotism” differently. Specifically, Ganapolsky says, the prime minister sees it “in the Soviet model, in that model which led to the collapse of precisely that country the path of which he is proposing to follow.”
Putin has to know this, Ganapolsky continues, he has to know that “the Union fell apart namely because on the television was one thing and in life was something else.” And finally, after almost 80 years, people had had enough. Does he really think that following the same recipe will have a different result?
As Ganapolsky points out, “Soviet ‘friendship of the peoples’” was a propaganda point, “along the principle of ‘say ‘sugar’ and it will become sweeter.’” That might have been true in a film studio, but having talked about “the positive experience” of Soviet friendship of the peoples, Putin did not outline any way to get people to feel that way in reality.
“What is the problem?” Ganapolsky asks, and he immediately answers: It lies “in Putin’s moral-political principles,” in that he for eleven years has build a country and built it in such a way that people hate each other,” just as they did in Soviet times. But he is calling for people to “love such a state” with him as its head, just as they “loved the USSR but together with Stalin.”
One part of the definition Wikipedia gives is striking, Ganapolsky says. It is that patriotism involves “the willingness to subordinate one’s private interests to its interests.” That might be fine “if the prime minister above all loved his country, including its citizens and even those who did not vote for him.”
Ganapolsky says that in some countries, such as the United States, there is “friendship without any ideology.” It exists when “others respect my personal home,” when the OMON doesn’t feel free to interfere, when “all are equal in the home and when they respect the opinion of others,” and when people aren’t punished because the homeowners disagree.
That is “the simple secret of friendship of the peoples and love for the fatherland” and it doesn’t require, indeed it completely contradicts the experience of the USSR. And everyone needs to understand, including Putin who now clearly does not, that if one tries to force people to be friends, there won’t be any friendship among them.

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