The pressure valve. Russian nationalism in late Soviet society
There are many puzzles facing the analyst trying to understand the trajectory of Russian politics. Why did democracy fail in the 1990s? How was a small, corrupt elite able to seize control of the commanding heights of the economy, becoming fabulously wealthy in the process? Among the puzzles is also the failure of Russian nationalists to capitalise on the public’s deep dissatisfac- tion with the performance of the Russian economy in the 1990s. Then, after the accession to power of Vladimir Putin in 2000, the new, patriotic leader confounded the nationalists by sticking with many of the policies of the liberal market reformers: eschewing protectionism and trying to maintain and deepen Russia’s integra- tion into the global economy.
Putin concluded that Russia’s viability as a great power required him to accelerate economic modernisation and deepen global integration. Other leaders of developing countries, such as the populist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil and the nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India, came to a similar conclusion, and tried to adopt select elements of the neoliberal policy package without alienating their domestic con- stituencies. These international comparisons are an important reminder that Russia’s dilemma of embracing the global economy while preserving national identity is not unique.
This book emanates from the research project ‘Nation-building, nationalism and the new “other” in today’s Russia’ (NEORUSS) funded by the Research Council of Norway under the Russia and the High North/Arctic (NORRUSS) programme, project number 220599. It is a sequel to The New Russian Nationalism: Imperialism, Ethnicity and Authoritarianism, 2000–15 (2016), edited by Pål Kolstø and Helge Blakkisrud, likewise published by Edinburgh University Press. Since our research project commenced, major events have taken place that affect Russian nationalism, in particular the annexation of Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine. The first volume was well underway when these momentous developments unfolded and we were able to refl ect on them only to a limited degree. In this second volume, with more distance to these events, we are better able to incorporate the effects of the Ukrainian crisis on Russian nationalism.
The article analyzes domestic and foreign historiography of the "progressive nationalists" (progressivnie natsionalisty), who united Russian conservative elements in the Progressive block of Russian State Duma.
The articles examines the nationalistic and imperial imagination of three Russian writers (Apollon Maikov, Ivan Goncharov and Alexei Pisemsky), who proposed their own versions of the so-called "Russian Idea" during the Crimean War (1853-56). Exploring the misture of various discourses in their lyrics, journalism and sketches, the article offers the new understanding of the nationalization of patriotism in the literary realm.
In spite of the evident progress in the study of Russian conservatism in the beginning of XXth century, which was achieved during the last 20 years, ideology and political activity and the role of the forward-looking nationalists in the activity of Progressive block did not become the object of detailed research. During the long period of time in historiography the Russian nationalists were considered to be a part of conservative forces, because researchers did not want to puzzle out their political aspirations.
The main reason of this is the shortage of historiographical sources. Besides several memoires of the participants of the events (Shulgin, Milukov,Gurko and others) the important role played the shorthand reports from the meetings of the bureau of Progressive Block and Duma. But the main source is «Kievlyanin», «literary and political newspaper of the West region». Officially this newspaper wasn’t the print of any party or faction but the main journalists of it were listed in Kiev club of Russian nationalists.
The main journalists of «Kievlyanin» were Savenko and Shulgin, the leaders of progressive nationalists. Their articles helps us to understand the political interests and main views of the whole party, course of the struggle with the right political forces and slow convergence with the progressive nationalists with the kadets. The most intensively these processes occurred during the First World War. Besides the records of State Duma «Kievlyanin» is the only informative source to analyze the faction of progressive nationalists.