The World’s Conservatives Gather in Budapest
23 September 2021
Russian identity has always been caught up in the relationship with Europe. It seems that the idea of “a separate civilisation” also has become a kind of an intellectual trap for Russia.
When Vladimir Putin speaks of Russia as a “separate civilisation” and “not just another country”, he echoes the ideas of many Russian politicians and intellectuals before him. The doctrine of Russia as a civilisation that is distinct from the West is an old one, and it has even had sympathisers across Central Europe, too.
For the Russians themselves, however, it has been somewhat of an intellectual trap, which prevented them from successfully completing their post-communist transition in the direction of a liberal democratic country.
Last month Putin suddenly decided to bring up the evergreen topic of Russian politics again by saying that Russia was “not just a country”, but “really a separate civilisation”. To anyone even casually observing this great country the idea behind the statement is anything but new.