Aleksandr Sytin was recently on a Moscow television show hosted by Vladimir Solovyev about the values Vladimir Putin’s Russian world seeks to offer other peoples. Solovyev did not give the Russian historian the chance to present his ideas, and so Sytin has posted online 12 such Russian values.
Sytin’s dozen clearly show why Putin’s Russian world project is unlikely to be successful beyond the borders of his country. Indeed, most of the values the historian points to are so off-putting that it is no surprise that an employee of a Russian government TV station would be all too ready to cut him off.
The 12 values Sytin identifies include:
1. “The chief value for Russians is territory, its size.” This is “absolutely irrational” because “the larger part of it is unsuitable for life” and is left unused.
2. “For Russians, the state plays a sacred role,” defining the position of all of them in relation to itself and creating in them “a pathological feature of being without the paternalistic concern of the state” or of taking responsibility for themselves.
3. “Russians are incapable of self-organization without an external stimulus and organizing force. The exceptions concern chiefly military activity – the peasant revolts, Minin, Yermak, and the Cossacks.”
4. “Russians have not mastered the culture of work.” They view it as “God’s curse” and will use “any pretext to minimize their efforts.”
5. “They are extremely arrogant toward other nations especially those less numerous or smaller in territory than their own.” Without knowledge, they are proud of their own history and ignorant about the history of almost everyone else.
6. “Unlike their close Western Slavic neighbors, the Poles, the Ukrainians, and Belarusians, the Russians do not value education highly.”
7. “They arrogantly treat those who are physically weaker than they are. They are absolutely without pity to those with physical handicaps or infectious illnesses” and they are cruel to “women, children and animals.”
8. No one should trust anything a Russian says.
9. Russian society cannot be called anything other than bestial, with drunkenness, force, pedophilia, hostility to old people “even their own relatives” all being the norm and reflecting “the very lowest level of human morality.”
10. “Russians fear and do not accept any changes.” Stability and “certainty about tomorrow” are for them central and defining values.
11. “Russians lack the ability to live, to show what the French call ‘savoir vivre.’” They may acquire money but they will never display a serious aesthetic. “Look at their cities! Only St. Petersburg can pretend to the rank of city, and that with qualifications. All the rest are faceless agglomerations.”
12. Russians are given to nostalgia, something that saps their will and the ability to “take decisions. Only in Russian literature is there a tradition of the phenomenon of ‘superfluous men,’ people who above all else haven’t found their place in government activity.”
Any non-Russian who would say any of these things would be denounced immediately as a Russophobe. For a Russian to say all of them is damning indeed.
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