When determining the path of development of Russia and Russian society, the most pressing question is: who are we? A Russian super-ethnos that emerged in the European space and united the Slavs ideologically, economically and politically into a political nation and created its powerful Russian civilisation? Or a part of western (European) civilisation – a pitiful limitrophe between Europe and Asia?
In choosing the path of development of a society, a set of values that distinguishes it from other peoples is decisive.
To unite into a single people and nation, a system of values must be developed in the form of ideas, symbols and images that characterise the world in which they want to live, acceptable conditions and way of life, spiritual principles and ways of their implementation.
All of this is built not on an empty place, but on the basis of civilisational culture, cultivated in the ethnic group by previous generations and covering all spheres of human life. Any culture lays down different values in its carriers, and a strictly defined set of them is the basis of the ethnic character.
What set of spiritual and moral values is characteristic of the Russian people and what is the value base of Russian society? Why is it fundamentally different from the western one? Why are these values incompatible?
Community ethics and morals have laid the foundation for the formation of a society of mutual assistance, in which the problems facing it are solved together. In the community values there was no sacralisation of private property, which leads to social inequality, and therefore the protection of human honour in Russian society has always been considered more important than the protection of property, since for Russian society property is the result of labour, not profit.
Thus, Russian society has developed its own system of values: the primacy of common interests (collectivism) over individual ones, justice over the law, power over property, service over possession, responsiveness over acquisitiveness. In addition, Russian society was characterised by paternalism, the sacralisation of the leader, the father of the nation, combining unity of command and popular trust.
It was not by chance that Orthodoxy was laid in the foundations of Russian society as a set of parishes-communities united by common values, meeting the collectivist aspirations of the Russian ethnos and contributing to the consolidation of a society in which public interests always prevailed over the interests of the individual. Orthodoxy has become the basis of the morality and culture of Russian society, which has absorbed traditional Russian values.
The image and way of life of the ethnic groups of the west was fundamentally different from Russian ones, and it was based on completely different customs and traditions that developed other civilisational values based on individualism and the priority of personal interests. They were later used as the basis for the ideology of liberalism, which denies any kind of collectivism.
Liberalism is characterised by the absolutisation of the individual’s freedom as the highest good and self-expression, their independence in choosing a set of values for themselves and using them for personal interests without any obligations to society. The task of liberalism is to liberate the individual from all forms of collective identity and atomise society. For liberalism, wealth is the only value to strive for. It provides for the monetisation of anything and everything and making a profit at the expense of others. In the name of profit, the strong can eat the weak. Liberalism frees the individual from society and the state, and the state frees itself from the individual. In this regard, the social state is incompatible with the ideas of liberalism.
In liberalism, the priority of individual rights over the rights of society leads to social inequality. If in Russian society social justice is the basis of morality, in western society it is self-interest and consumerism at the expense of others. In this regard, liberalism is unacceptable for the Russian person. Even Danilevsky wrote that in Russian life, harmony passes through trial, overcoming, self-knowledge, and in western life – through pleasure, wealth, gratification.
In Russian society, the preaching of responsibility is opposed to the preaching of freedom as an absolute and requires the restriction of freedom for the sake of public interests, narrowing the rights of the individual by their duties to society. It is not by chance that western society was based on the religion of Catholicism and its trends, which profess the priority of the individual over society. The struggle between Orthodoxy and western Christianity is always a struggle between two cultures and different ideological values, a struggle between collectivism, in which everyone survives together, and individualism, where everyone survives as best they can.
In Russian traditional culture – the cult of sympathy, empathy and mutual assistance, and in the Western traditional culture – the cult of superiority, personal success and suppression of fellow man. The western project is based on liberalism with its traditional values of freedom and individual success. This was especially evident in the United States with their idea of the “American dream”.
Thus, over time, in the process of ethnogenesis, two Christian civilisations developed with different fundamental principles of life, different social models of societal organisation, different civilisational values and different civilisational codes of the peoples inhabiting them. In Russia – with a collectivist form of identity, and in the west – with an individualist one. The western culture is characterised by the cult of personal wealth, and the Russian culture is characterised by the cult of prosperity. In Russian self-consciousness, wealth is a sin. Capital destroys the soul, creates injustice and humiliates the other person. It’s not for nothing that the collectivist ideology of communism, born in the west, has found fertile ground in Russian civilisation.
Western civilisation is built on the desire to conquer the “infidels” and convert them to their faith, and Russian (with its imperial template) ― not to conquer, but mainly to incorporate other peoples into their environment with the preservation of their traditions, culture, religion and way of life. In Russia, the protection of the land was encouraged, and in the west ― its capture.
Russian traditional values suggest a different way of development based on collective forms of social organisation and a different way of life, not on individual consumerism, but on the creation of spiritual and material benefits in the interests of society and the individual. This is the otherness of Russia as a bastion of civilisational values different from the west. For the Russian person, the highest value is justice and the resulting sense of dignity, which does not allow one’s own humiliation and does not humiliate another.
The main lines dividing humanity are primarily the conflict of cultures, which leads to a conflict of nations and civilisations in global politics. Civilisation is the broadest level of cultural identity of people, characterised by such objective elements as history, religion, language, social institutions, self-identification and the national identity of people.
The Russian scientist Danilevsky, who is the founder of the civilisational approach to history, in the 19th century justified the theory of civilisations as a unity of cultural and historical types that are in continuous struggle with each other. In his works, he proved that European civilisation is alien and even hostile to Russian civilisation, and its interests are directly opposite to the interests of Russian society. At the end of the 20th century, the American scientist Huntington developed the theory of the clash of civilisations, in which he also substantiated that the world order on the European continent determines the development and conflict of western and Russian civilisations, and that their conflict is irreconcilable.
In the course of its development, the Russian ethnos united into a political nation and was able to create not only a stable state formation, but also a powerful Russian civilisation. The socio-ethnic interpretation of a nation presupposes a community of people connected by a common past, culture, language, religion and customs, and the political one – a form of co-citizenship associated with statehood and civil identity, which includes all people on a certain territory and assumes the form “one nation – one territory – one state “.
Russia is not a limitrophe. Russian traditional values were able to unite all peoples inhabiting its territory, regardless of their ethnicity, into a single political nation, which became the basis of the Russian world and which included everyone involved in a common historical memory, Russian culture and general views on social life. This geopolitical and cultural-historical community of people who consider themselves Russian in spirit was able to offer the world a different image of the world order, where public interests prevail over individual interests and everyone survives not at the expense of each other, but in close interaction for common goals.
The national communities living in the Russian and western civilisations have formed different civilisational values, they have fundamentally different national identity and national consciousness. National identity implies the awareness of ethnic groups of their belonging to a particular national group, and national identity is characterised by a set of ideals, cultural norms, worldview and social ideas of the national community. Since the national identity of the peoples of these civilisations is fundamentally different, they cannot integrate in any way.
In connection with different concepts of the organisation of social life, different goal-setting and the incompatibility of the civilisation codes and civilisational values of the peoples of the two civilisations, there has always been a rivalry between them for influence in the world and a tough growing standoff, often resulting in bloody wars. Hence the desire of the west by any means to conquer and subjugate the Russian civilisation.
The attempts of the Russian elite in different historical periods – from Peter the Great to the present – to integrate Russia into western civilisation did not and could not receive support in society and ended in failure, since we are too different. In modern Russia, attempts by liberals to re-integrate Russia into Europe are also not supported by society, and the liberal discourse imposed by them is rejected.
Part of society under the influence of liberal propaganda still loses its Russian identity, but it is impossible to recode the Russian civilisation code. The liberal value base based on private property and individualism did not become sacred in Russia. All of this suggests that the concept of the development of Russian civilisation in no way lies in the plane of integration with western civilisation, we are irreconcilable competitors with them and can develop only by competing with each other. Russia is one of the world civilisations that has withstood violent clashes with other civilisations, and its future is in independent development based on Russian civilisational values.
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