Valdai Club members: Value system in Russia should focus on the future

19.09.2013

According to experts of the Valdai International Discussion Club, Russia is going through a transition period and needs a new value system that reflects the great Russian culture of the past, while also focusing on the future. The Value Gap session was attended by the opposition figures.

According to experts of the Valdai International Discussion Club, Russia is going through a transition period and needs a new value system that reflects the great Russian culture of the past, while also focusing on the future. The Value Gap session was attended by the opposition figures Gennady Gudkov and Ilya Ponomarev, TV presenter Ksenia Sobchak, pollster and head of VTSIOM Valery Fedorov, political analyst Nikolai Zlobin, renowned economist Mikhail Delyagin and political analyst Mikhail Remizov .

President of the Center on Global Interests Nikolai Zlobin believes that nothing unites Russians better than shared values.

“Russia is lucky. The great Russian literature of the 19th and early 20th century formed the Russian mentality, unlike in Europe where philosophers did this. Authors of literary works answered the most important questions. The literary side of our world outlook is very important to Russians. We are people of values, not systems,” he told RIA Novosti on the sidelines of the anniversary meeting of the discussion club.

Zlobin also suggested that Russia “often wants to see itself as a retired country.” He went on to say: “All our values and experiences are in the past. I believe the Russian political thinking should be reformatted so that it focuses on the future, not the past.”

Director of the Institute of Globalization Problems Mikhail Delyagin noted Russia’s unique role for the rest of the world as a savior and a generator of technological inventions.

“Russia is capable of generating technological inventions. And we are also natural messiahs. We simply can’t exist without super-objectives. We can come up with such a super-objective and impose it on others,” he told RIA Novosti.

He believes that the Russians are living in the 15th and the 21st centuries at the same time, in a “one-sided symbiosis” with the state. He believes that the only thing that unites society is culture as a mode of conduct, which includes the way people see the world and the way they behave.

On the contrary, President of the National Strategy Institute Mikhail Remizov believes that Russia is a much more typical country than is commonly believed. “There’s a cliché that Russia’s destiny is exceptional. This exceptionalism is there indeed, but all other great cultures have it, too,” he told RIA Novosti on the sidelines of the forum.

According to Remizov, building a unified nation requires a great national culture created over generations, and this is exactly what happened in Russia. It is now imperative to create a mechanism for the social replication of Russian culture, including schools, both secondary schools and higher educational institutions, the media, mass culture and civil service. “This technological component is our weakest point,” he added.

Remizov stressed that “we simply have no” cultural foundation for societal integration other than Russian culture. 

TV presenter Ksenia Sobchak noted that the value gap was directly related to the generational gap.

“Russia has its first post-Soviet generation that grew during the 1990s and became successful in the aughts. Values do exist, but they don’t sit well with this generation. These are the people who pay taxes, and they want to participate in the distribution of these taxes and influence the government. This generation wants to see the government as a manager who represents them and whom they can influence. They want a government that is accountable to them,” she said, adding that this generation did not grow up in the Soviet Union and felt no nostalgia for it.

Director General of the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTSIOM) Valery Fedorov said that the concept of identity wasn’t something that was set in stone, and there was no standard identity for everyone.

“We are experiencing a triple identity crisis. Not only did the Iron Curtain collapse, and we now have a new experience in this transparent but not very warm world. We also live in a new public system where the majority does not feel like winners. Then we have new borders,” he told RIA Novosti.

According to Fedorov, research commissioned by the Valdai Club shows that the mental map of Russia does not coincide with the geographical one. “There are territories outside of Russia that we tend to think of as ours. There are areas within our national borders which most Russians do not view as part of Russia,” he said.

Fedorov believes that in order for Russian society to make a breakthrough in its development, it needs a holistic vision of the future and a plan for a new reality that’s better than the current one.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

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