Updated 20 August 1998
1. Your Time Is Up
We live in an epoch changing time. The end of the millennium, the end of the century, the end of the ideological era. It is all global border-lines, challenging us to just so global answers, large-scale reflections. However, within the smaller cycle of our Russian social life the obvious *volte-face* is taking place. It is going to be quite comparable with perestroika and “democratization” in its significance and consequences. In the ideological sense, perestroika was the transitional period from late Soviet, nominally socialist society, to the liberal and democratic model. The term “post-perestroika” has been applied to the description of that political, ideological and cultural model, which appeared after the radical break with the Soviet past and the establishment of the western capitalist market system in Russia.
This "post-perestroika” started after August of 1991 and has generally lasted until now. 1991-1998: This is the epoch of the post-Soviet liberal and democratic period of modern Russian history. The essence of the ideological moment is in the fact that “post-perestroika” is swiftly coming to an end. The time of Russian liberalism is nearing its end. We are at the beginning of a completely new cultural and ideological reality, which is as different from the previous years of “Yeltsinism” as “Yeltsinism” itself was different from the Soviet epoch. Already now it is possible to draw some conclusions about the structure of the new coming epoch of Russian history.
Let us look more closely at the future.
2. The Slow Change of Consciousness.
The main postulate of the Russian ruling elite in the liberal period was confidence in the fact that confrontation with the West resulted from the difference of social, economic and ideological models. On the basis of this, all the economic, political, foreign, cultural, and defence strategy of the Russian Federation was built. The country's leaders seriously thought that giving up the Marxist outlook along with the socialist economy would automatically create a balanced system in Russia with the active and friendly cooperation of the West. This was a fatal mistake and it took a decade to realize it. With the obvious appearance of geopolitical factors, everyone realized that the cold war was not just a display of an ideological duel, but the display of a historical constant, not dependent on social or political up-to-dateness. It was just one of the stages in the “great war of continents”.
The West, in response to the disbandment of the Warsaw treaty organization, considered the further strengthening of NATO to be the best solution, probably for want of a better one. When everything no longer under Russian influence was taken over by this aggressive, atlantist, domination-longing bloc, the Russian political elite and intellectuals gradually began to sober up.
“Nezavisimaya gazeta” was the mouthpiece of that process, but you could easily find similar trends in other newspapers, which once recklessly sang of Westernism and glorified liberalism. The patriotic forces played a considerable role too, turning in upholding their principles to more modern and adequate terminology together with the archaic theses. Without the opposition's conceptual creative work (ie. the publications “Den”, “Zavtra”, “Sovetskaya Rossia”, “Elementy” etc.), the centrist and conformist press would have arrived at the same conclusion much later.
The patriotic opposition in politics also performed a similar function, helping the authorities realize the obvious geopolitical axioms. So, today, it is obvious that any kind of authority in the Kremlin (except evident maniacs or direct influence agents) cannot ignore the geopolitical realities. Thus they cannot but be critical of both the West and its ideological banner liberalism, that turned out to be a screen for the direct predatory and egoistic colonial interests of atlantist civilization, building its own “new world order” to the detriment of all other countries, nations, cultures, and traditions.
3. The Revolutionary and Evolutionary Way.
The final form of the Russian post-liberal model can proceed in two ways. The first way is a revolutionary one. It presupposes the political turn-around (probably resulting from quite democratic presidential elections), after which the people from the patriotic opposition camp come to the supreme power. This process is going to be extremely difficult and troublesome, for the revolutionary rise, that might ensure the considerable support to restorationist actions, is not yet about to happen.
Besides, the foreign reaction would be so negative that all the structural mechanisms of influence inside the Russian Federation would be immediately put into action for all the disastrous separatist processes to be activated. The opposition, having lost the habit of being the executive power, being narrow-minded and antiquated, additionally lacking a real cultural and ideological programme, mediacratic structures, futuristic project etc., it can scarcely manage the global, almost insoluble task, to reverse the process of destruction, especially as there will be no support from abroad.
Moreover, it is obvious that the patriotic leaders, having come to supreme power in the country, in order to stay in control of it, will mostly have to repeat all those steps and verbal promises, which are abundantly (though less and less honestly) given out by today's authorities. There are obviously no prerequisites for mobilization for total resistance, autarchy and a new stage of “cold war”. It is paradoxical, but should the patriotic opposition win, the real geopolitical position of Russia not only won`t improve, but will more likely get worse. And to just maintain the *status quo*, its leaders will have to make the same (if not greater) concessions to the West, as today`s authorities do. But the liberal epoch in Russia is deemed to end soon, the objective events and logic itself considers such an outcome the most probable one.
The other way is the evolutionary one. It supposes the gradual and mild shift of the Russian political elite to Eurasian positions. That shift won`t be accompanied with radical slogans and a declaration of some “new policy”. On the contrary, the authorities will actively and on a large scale play a double game, outwardly continuing the declaration of adherence to “democratic values”, but inwardly restoring little by little the base for the global autarchy (in economic, cultural and social spheres). In this way following the post-World War II example of Germany and Japan. It might be some kind of “Eurasian capitalism”, not too different by the geopolitical criteria from moderate and limited socialism with a distinctly expressed patriotic background. This process is already going on, and it is connected exactly with the actual administration and personality of Boris Yeltsin, who remains true to himself in any kind of situation. He sharply feels the change of ideological winds and can effectively use it for seizure and keeping control of power.
But not only Boris Yeltsin personally is associated with this evolutionary way. All other real presidential aspirants will have to pursue the same policy, be it Luzhkov, Chernomyrdin or Nemtsov.
4. The Insane General is the Last Chance for the West.
The only thing that can stop the inevitable advent of a new post-liberal epoch is the intrusion of an obvious, disastrous, chaotic factor, capable of changing the logical evolution of the Russian political reality. This threat now has a face and a name. Under the cover of a beautiful name, the historical monster hides, quite comparable in a sense with the most disastrous stages of Gorbachev and Yeltsin. The "general", risen from hell, brings with himself such unpredictability, such dark absurdity, such *untermensch*, along with a chemically active impulse, that in a certain situation he may be brought to power by certain circles not interested in the revolutionary nor evolutionary movement of Russia towards a Eurasian position. The national self- consciousness is dispersed, indistinct, lost. It is almost impossible to swiftly realize changing ideological strata. It is quite possible that the most negative, absolutely atlantist forces will use this all national confusion, persistently and with drastic financial help, to fatally promote the person who is only able to put the unhappy nation into a third nightmare circuit.
Only this fatal character can stop the fall of liberalism in Russia and, unfortunately, Western analysts and their Russian fanatical adherents clearly realize this.
5. What Has Not Yet Been.
The post-liberal epoch in Russia is evidently coming. Except for the one (but still less likely) variant, all models of further political development will ultimately bring us to the process of a gradual Eurasian rebirth, to the normalization of the historical course, to the realization of the necessity for Russia to pursue a unique, cultural, geopolitical, social and economic way. We live at a breaking point.
The authorities and cultural semi-officials are ripe to give way to patriotic policy. This process started with the most compromised variants, and it reminds us of humiliation, bribery and corruption rather than genuine dialogue. But this time is up. Those who used to run after the spice-cake too early momentarily faded. Besides, the Russian political elite today needs original non-conformist, creative constructions, myths, and models of interpretational, ideological and cultural forms. Even authority, which comes due to political patriotic revolution, will also need them. There cannot be the direct return to the past, the direct restoration. There is no possibility of that happening.
Nothing of what belonged to the past ideological epochs, both Soviet and liberal, cannot be just applied without the thorough re-interpretation, revision, and comparison to the realities of the modern historical and geopolitical situation in the world. We should find new names and terms for everything, new concepts and mythologemas. It is clear that no one is able to invent everything anew. We talk about turning to the traditional values, the ever Eurasian constants, and also to the newest advanced technologies and systems developing all over the world, but they all should be in a new way re- interpreted, refreshed, and critically revised. That`s what the epoch and history demands from us, NOT a new social and cultural contract of sale. The post-liberal era is at a threshold. What will it be? What has not yet been. Much of this issue depends on us, our imagination, our will, our intellect, our honesty and readiness to start everything from the beginning again.
translation Vladislav Ivanov