Relaciones Internacionales – Comunicación Internacional

Reflexiones de Tom Nichols sobre Rusia tras 40 años estudiándola

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Tom Nichols@RadioFreeTom

  • I’ll write more on this another time, but it is astonishing that Russia – a nation also capable of remarkable feats of heroism and achievement – has never been able to overcome its own political culture. You can blame the Soviets for a lot of this – I do – but not all of it. /2
  • Other nations have managed to overcome ugly histories. Sometimes through defeat in war, sometimes through development and progress. Russians, ardently embracing a sense of victimhood, claim a special exemption, especially after WW II. They cling to it. /3
  • And yet Russians themselves have had the same debates for centuries: Why are we so backward, are we really Europeans, why are we always on the outside, etc. Russia experts debate the same things: Is it the sheer geography? History? and so on. But I wonder if it really matters. /4
  • At some point, you cannot keep blaming «history» as a culprit. Cultures are the sum of individual choices as much as they are the sediment of history. Many Russians blame «history» as a kind of generic excuse. I have called bullshit on this while in Russia talking to Russians. /5
  • And so much projection. Russia’s Putinists claim to be fighting against immorality and decadence, but Russia is a deeply decadent state; it is a country where even the nationalist, hawkish elite (including Putin, his family, and the Patriarch) live swanky, luxury-filled lives. /6
  • In any case, the great promise at the end of the 20th century was that we no longer had to be prisoners to our histories. Two world wars and a Cold War gave way to a world with choices, including in Russia. And yet, we’re going backward, Russia murderously faster than anyone. /7
  • Ironically, one of the greatest Russian literary works of all time (The Grand Inquisitor) includes a chapter on why freedom is a burden. Maybe it is. Maybe too much so for many of us. But it is also a responsibility. A test. Many of us are failing it, as people and nations. /8
  • The Russians have never faced up to this responsibility. I thought after 1991 they would; really, I was almost certain they would. Americans (to change the subject) always met this challenge head-on, even when we fell short. But millions of us no longer seem to care. /9
  • This is a dark time for democracy. #Ukraine – a place I would not have expected to lead the way, given its early post-independence history – is now fighting for freedom. I’m glad Americans are united in supporting the Ukrainians. But I hope we have the fortitude to stay. /10
  • We need to know that this isn’t a struggle that will end tomorrow, or end in Ukraine. And I’d hope that this realization would wake the rest of us up. But I guess if gas is four bucks a gallon, we’ll call it a day on democracy. /11x


William Meservy@WilliamMeservy
The why is actually quite simple: Russia has never had a time when the reins of government were truly held in the hands of the people. Literally, never. They’ve never been free, nor does the average Russian consider themself free.

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