Paul Goble writes: By his annexation of Crimea, Vladimir Putin has re-awakened the imperial dimension of Russian messianism, a force that has been contained since 1991 but that now will lead to ever-broader conflicts that will lead either to a Russian victory over all its supposed enemies or the collapse of Russia, Vladimir Pastukhov says.
But at the same time, another form of Russian messianism, a concern with universal social justice, is also being re-awakened, and that represents a potentially even more serious challenge to Putin’s system than the imperial messianism which because of his victory in Crimea is making him into “the messiah” for many Russians, the St. Antony’s College expert adds.
In an article in Novaya Gazeta 25 March, Pastukhov points out that Russia today is populated by “a different people” than it was “all of a month ago,” a people who are “inspired” by a vision which gives them the messianic role that they as a nation have always craved .
“Russians do not fulfil a mission, all the more so when it is unfulfillable; they live it and are its function,” the historian says. Instead, “the missionary spirit was and apparently remains the moving force of Russian history.” It is part of “the Russian subconscious,” and Putin has “re-awakened” in Russians this “beast.”
What is surprising and requires comment, Pastukhov says, is that this messianism was asleep for “a quarter of a century,” an “insanely long” period “for the Russian cultural code” and one that reflects “the deep depression and historical shock which the Russian people experienced after the disintegration of the USSR.”
But if the messianic spirit was sleeping, it did not disappear, and one can identify the forces that have roused it. First among them is the West and the United States which behaved in ways that have given rise to the Weimar syndrome which has awoken in the Russian soul the very same instincts which moved the Germans after their defeat in World War I.” [Continue reading…]