Today I have for you this piece from VZGLIAD, by reporters Andrei Rezchikov and Oleg Moskvin. The dry topic of sociological surveys is not always exciting, but there are some very interesting points here. I also think the whole topic of “patriotism” is interesting (and complex) in itself, regardless of one’s nationality or citizenship, so hopefully this will shed some light on the various issues involved.
Tomorrow (June 12) the Russian Federation will observe “Russia Day“, a relatively new patriotic holiday established in 1992 by the victors of the anti-Soviet coup. In their attempt to replace “Soviet” patriotism with a concept of “Russian patriotism” the victors decided to cram this fake holiday down the throats of the jaded masses. But over time it has become a true state holiday where people get the day off from work. And Time works its magic in other ways: As the years pass and bitter memories fade, as a new generation grows up and the system legitimizes itself with elections and referendums, the Russian citizens are in fact becoming more content with the course of events; more likely to support a government that has produced some actual benefits and made Russia stronger on the world stage.
On the eve of this year’s celebrations a survey was published (2 days ago) by the respected Russian polling agency ВЦИОМ to determine the level of actual patriotism among Russian citizens. The complexity of the questions show that the survey was fairly well thought out and not just eliciting Pavlovian responses of the crude “American” type, e.g., “Do you love your country, yes or no?” “Is it the greatest country in the world, yes or no?”
As to the main question, “Do you consider yourself to be a patriot of Russia?” the 92% YES response is the largest in over 18 years of polling. Like, 10 years ago, during the height of the Gruzia-Ossetia war, the equivalent number was only 88%. Two years ago, the figure was down to 80%!
One could only imagine, for comparison purposes (let’s do a thought experiment) an American respondent answering “No” to the question, “Do you consider yourself an American patriot?” Any “NO” responses would be inconceivable (unless the pollsters happened to ask ME for my opinion, but that has never happened yet); no sampled American would even dare to appear unpatriotic, even to an anonymous sociologist. Besides which, Americans are completely and hopelessly brainwashed into the belief that their country IS the greatest in the world, and that all other countries are vastly inferior. In fact, the concept of patriotism among ordinary Americans is completely intertwined with the notion that other countries (especially those which they have never visited) are simply awful. Not to mention that American patriotism can be punitive and even bullying in nature; as in “If you don’t love it, then go back to where you came from.” Ordinary Americans sometimes don’t understand the point, that American citizenship is a legal status and does not necessarily denote acceptance of a certain political ideology, although it does require that one pay taxes, abide by the laws on the books and not egregious commit crimes, etc.. Which is reasonable, I concede.
Russians, on the other hand, have a completely different mentality. The previous generations were raised in an actual empire (of sorts), hence their concepts of citizenship and loyalties were not unlike those of, say, Roman citizens. As opposed to being subjects of some insular, ethnic-based titularity. Like modern-day Estonia, for example!
As such, Russians have never been shy about praising other countries, blasting their own, and actually feel free enough to say “No” to impertinent questions about their patriotic feelings. Therefore, ironically, their “Yes’es” actually count more!
But, I hear people object [I hear their voices in my head, and that alone is a disturbing thing!], the United States of America is also an Empire. Encompassing many distant lands, colonies, and something like a gazillion different ethnic groups, not to mention that whole Negro thing… Therefore it doesn’t make sense that the American people themselves should have such an insular and, shall we say, crude, notion of their own superiority; as if they were some kind of unified tribe, all with the same hive-mind. I know, I know. It has never made sense to me either, and yet there it is. The incessant flag-waving, the hand over the heart, and the tears welling up in eyes (even Negro eyes) when the racist Star-Spangled Banner is shrieked out of tune and blasting one’s delicate ear-drums, often to be followed by the shouted command of: “Play Ball!”
Therefore, just putting aside these troublesome thoughts about the USA and moving along to the rest of the Russian survey. Which shows some quite interesting results….
[to be continued]