> 6, 2006 > Debates on politics and culture

Debates on politics and culture

29 2007

The fiftieth anniversary and thematic issue of NZ is called Régime nouveau: Russia between 1998-2006.

The issue opens with Aleksandr Kustarev's personal column. Kustarev's text not only sets the "tone" and the "register" for the discussion on the last eight years in the history of Russia, it also provides one of the main topics of that discussion - the vacillation of the public interest meanings between "inflation" and "deficit". The materials from the Nation-"building" section served as a natural continuation of that topic (and a way to propose several others). Attempts to formulate and transmit some kind of a national idea for the new Russian state and post-soviet Russian society are analyzed in Irina and Svyatoslav Kaspes' article Battlefield - the Country: Nation-building and Our Nation Builders. Boris Dubin's article General Adaptation of the Weak. Rhetoric of the Authorities - Precepts of the Inner Circle - Attitudes of the Masses is devoted to the way public consciousness perceives those attempts and to the structure of the abovementioned consciousness. The section concludes with a theoretical micro-study of the dynamics of the transformation of the Russian political regime by Sergei Ryzhenkov.

Russian history of the last three centuries (if not longer) can be perceived a series of attempts at so-called "modernization"; the post-Soviet period, and in particular the last eight years of it, is no exception. Putin's regime has from the beginning proclaimed itself to be a modernization project of a special kind. Vitaly Naishul and Aleksandr Auzan discuss the various aspects of the special nature of Putin's modernization in NZ Interview. In his article in the Culture of Politics Denis Dragunsky returns to the problem of the formation of a national idea and tries to historicize that phenomenon. The Sovereign "Democracy" section discusses the main component of Putin's modernization project (which also happens to be its main ideological construct). Vyacheslav Morozov insists on the "reactionary", "restorational" nature of that "sovereign democracy", while Aleksandr Shubin tries to imagine the consequences of the current political and ideological course and Aleksandr Kynev demonstrates one of the practical implementations of the course taken by Putin's regime - the radical change of the electoral system and its influence on the political life of the Russian regional areas. Vitaly Portnikov's essay in NZ Tribune closes the discussion on ideology and politics.

The other primary component of the Régime nouveau is the "new foreign policy", which many observers and actors call "imperial" and contrast with the foreign policy course of Yeltsin's Russia. In the Regional "Superpower" section this position is opposed by Fedor Lukyanov; he stresses the continuity of Russian foreign policy in the 1990s and the 2000s. Sergei Markedonov's article Vladimir Putin's Russia and the CIS: Mission without a Purpose discusses the same problem within the frames of CIS. The discussion is concluded by Comparative Studies presenting Mykola Ryabchuk's article The Law of Connecting Vessels and Some Other Laws about political "modernization" in Ukraine.

The next two sections of the anniversary NZ issue are dedicated to the phenomenon of Régime nouveau economics. In his personal column Humanitarian Economics Yevgeny Saburov analyses the strange ambiguity of the political and economical consciousness of his students. They perceive the market as their natural and indeed the only possible economical environment, yet on the political level they are inclined (following the current propaganda) to idealize the Soviet regime, without possessing the slightest idea of what the Soviet economy was and of its main defining characteristic - shortage. The title of the next section directly shows which economic aspects of the Régime nouveau are perceived as key ones by the NZ editorial board and the authors: Economics of "equal distancing" and "gasification of the whole country". Leonid Kosals insists that in the economic scheme of the 2000s one should first and foremost single out its continuity with respect to the 1990s when so-called "clan capitalism" was formed in Russia. The articles by Aleksei Zudin, Yevgeny Gontmacher and Elena Lebedinskaya discuss various aspects of relationships between business and Russian government in the last eight years, and also the recent economic innovations of Russian authorities: so-called National Projects and Stabilization Fund.

Victor Shnirelman returns to the "ideological household issues" of the Régime nouveau in the Politics of Culture section. He discusses the matter of implementing the recently produced ideological schemes in the schools. "The battle for the schools" - with the Russian Orthodox Church, not the new political elite, as a main belligerent - is one of the topics of Nikolay Mitrokhin's essay dedicated to the history of ROC between the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s (Case Study).

The Time of "Commentators" section is dedicated to the startling transformation of the Russian mass-media of the recent years. Dmitri Travin shows how the very figure of a "commentator" came to be established in the post-Soviet Russian media while Andrei Levkin in his essay Censorship Inside analyses the phenomenon of "internal censorship" and arrives at some surprising conclusions regarding its origins. Olga Serebryanaya's paper, quite unusual in its form, is dedicated to the parallel processes in academia.

The recently created Around NZ section continues the discussion on the state of public consciousness in modern Russia, including the areas of scholarship. The section discusses Dina Khapaeva's review of the special NZ issue dedicated to the memory of World War II and Great Patriotic War (NZ. 2005. 40-41). The editor in chief of that issue Mikhail Gabovich and one of the authors, Ilya Kukulin, do not agree with Khapaeva's criticism that they subconsciously reproduce the basics of the Soviet Great Patriotic War myth. Dina Khapaeva's reply is published next. One must note that Dina Khapaeva's book Gothic Society: Morphology of a Nightmare is published as a supplement to this anniversary issue. The book includes not only the discussed review but also expounds its theses using a wider section of materials.

Aleksei Levinson's personal column Sociological Lyrics presents an obituary of the famous sociologist Yuri Levada. The fiftieth issue of NZ is concluded with the traditional sections: New Institutions (Vyacheslav Morozov devoted it to the Russian issue of the Le Monde diplomatique), Russian Intellectual Journal Review (Vyacheslav Morozov and Petr Rezvykh) and New Books reviews.