Many analysts are inclined to explain the vitality of Putinism and Russian support for his war in Ukraine by pointing to the conformism of a population living in fear, the influence of government propaganda, and the interest many Russians have in the advantages to themselves of an isolated and militarized economy, a Russian political scientist and senior researcher at University College London, Vladimir Pastukhov says.
If those factors were sufficient to explain Russian support for Putin and his war, the London-based Russian analyst claimed, then getting rid of the dictatorship would be sufficient to end the war and the kind of rule Putin and his team offer.
But in fact, many other factors are involved, most important of which are those values which exist as “’pre-installed software’” that is only available bundled together with everything else, Pastukhov said. Anyone who thinks otherwise will find that after ending the dictatorship, things will return to what they were under Putin after “a hard reboot.”
Among these cultural values which tie Russians together and predispose them to support regimes like Putin’s are “an orientation toward force rather than law,” “resistance to any idea, even the most attractive, which suggests they can’t be self-sufficient,” and a certain ‘unsentimentality” about means and ends.
These make Putinism and other systems like his “so tenacious in Russia,” according to Pastukhov. Anyone who thinks they can be expelled “simply by offering society freedom and European liberal values, then he is almost certainly mistaken,” Pastukov said, adding that “freedom in Russia will take root only when Russians feel a practical need for it” that serves these values.”
Telling Russians how beautiful freedom is and how horrible war can be will never achieve the goals that those who adopt that strategy want. What those who want change must do instead is to explain to Russians how freedom will give them “a feeling of strength, independence and usefulness” that they “subconsciously are striving for,” Pastukhov concluded.
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