Book

Putin’s Totalitarian Democracy: Ideology, Myth, and Violence in the Twenty-First Century

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Abstract

This book studies the cultural, societal, and ideological factors absent from popular discourse on Vladimir Putin’s Russia, contesting the misleading mainstream assumption that Putin is the all-powerful sovereign of Russia. In carefully examining the ideological underpinnings of Putinism—its tsarist and Soviet elements, its intellectual origins, its culturally reproductive nature, and its imperialist foreign policy—the authors reveal that an indoctrinating ideology and a willing population are simultaneously the most crucial yet overlooked keys to analyzing Putin’s totalitarian democracy. Because Putinism is part of a global wave of extreme political movements, the book also reaffirms the need to understand—but not accept—how and why nation-states and masses turn to nationalism, authoritarianism, or totalitarianism in modern times. Kate C. Langdon is an Erasmus Mundus scholar. She studied at Vassar College in New York and Charles University in Prague. Vladimir Tismaneanu is Professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, USA.
... Additionally, the positive portrayal the two newspapers provided Putin, could derive from the unique relationship that exists between the Russian media and the Russian government. This relationship is characterized as a recruited media that serves the administration and especially its head (Hinck et al. 2018;Langdon and Tismaneanu 2020). ...
... Our research shows that the politician's depiction on Facebook mostly resembles their portrayal by the traditional media. This finding points to a possible linkage between the content on both platforms: traditional media and social media, that might be a result of each country's unique culture (Dinor-Lavie and Karniel 2009;Kitel 2006), or a close association between the leader and the media (Hinck et al. 2018;Langdon and Tismaneanu 2020). We suggest future research analyze the audience reactions on Facebook in order to find evidence and further illuminate whether people consider politicians to be role models regarding health. ...
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In recent years, scholars have increasingly revealed the importance of celebrities in society, among them celebrity politicians. These celebrities not only influence political attitudes but also serve as role models for many individuals. Yet, little is known regarding what types of role models' politicians serve as in the context of health. To fill this gap, we examined three influential contemporary political leaders: Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, and the type of mediated role models each possibly comprise in the context of healthy living. By conducting a qualitative content analysis, we analyzed 90 articles from 2018 to 2019 from two leading newspapers in each of the three politician's countries, namely Russia, the USA, and Israel as well as the respective politician's Facebook pages. Our findings point to three types of potential role models' as political leaders: a health-promoting model (Putin), a hybrid model (Trump), and a model of non-existence (Netanyahu), as the literature points to mediated role models influencing individuals' beliefs and behaviors. This study contributes to the understanding of mediated types of role models' politicians potentially serve as in the context of health vital to people's personal health.
... For example, Kate C. Langdon and Vladimir Tismăneanu maintain that "Putinism" is "the legitimizing ideological construct behind a kleptocratic, corrupting political culture." 20 Putin and "Putinism" therefore reflect themes, ideas and intentions deeply rooted in the "Russian milieu." 21 Olga Malinova disagrees with Taylor and Gudkov, viewing ideology as playing an equally important role in the formation of "Putinism." ...
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The main goal of this article is to analyze the evolution of Vladimir Putin’s understanding of the role of ideology in the Russian political system. This research, based on a discourse analysis of Putin’s addresses, articles, speeches, and interviews, allowed us to reconstruct the Russian President’s views on sovereignty, the Russian state, “the people” and their unity, and trace the emergence of Putinism as a specific ideology directed against the liberal world order. Our study demonstrates that Putin’s approach to ideology has undergone a difficult transformation from abandoning state ideology to its de facto revival. Giving ideology formal legal status by amending the Russian Constitution in 2020 was the logical conclusion of the evolution of Putin’s views. The public protests that swept through post-Soviet countries played a big role in this evolution because Putin perceived them as a threat to national sovereignty. This article shows that Putin’s pursuit of ideological policy serves two main goals: protecting Russia’s sovereignty, which involves not just building effective protection against external influence on Russia, but also reformatting the system of international relations so that the possibility of this influence can be eliminated and providing “national unity” and loyalty to the regime.
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ÖZET Bilindiği üzere Osmanlı Devleti’nden bugüne Türk-Rus ilişkileri her dönem varlığını korumuştur. Osmanlı’nın en çok savaştığı devlet olması hasebiyle iki toplum arasında yoğun bir ilişki ağı olduğu görülmektedir. Türkler ve Ruslar arasındaki ilişkilerin Çarlık Rusyası’ndan SSCB’ye oradan da Rusya Federasyonu’na kadar yoğun bir şekilde ilerlediği anlaşılmıştır. Orta Asya’dan Kafkasya’ya ve oradan da Balkanlar’a kadar iki ülke arasında yoğun bir ilişki ağının olduğu da görülmektedir. 20. yüzyıla gelindiğinde ise iki ülke ilişkileri daha farklı bir boyuta ulaşmıştır. Bu süreçte hem Ruslar hem de Türklerin önemli bir devrim yaşaması ile iki ülke ilişkilerinde daha farklı bir sayfa açılmıştır. Daha sonrasındaki süreçte ise Soğuk Savaş’ın başlamasıyla Türkiye ve SSCB ilişkilerinde bir soğuma olduğu anlaşılmıştır. Soğuk Savaş’ın ardından SSCB’nin tarih sahnesinden silinip Rusya Federasyonu’nun kurulması ile daha farklı bir sürece geçilmiştir. 2000’li yıllar sonrasında ise Türkiye ve Rusya’nın gerek Orta Doğu’da gerek Kafkasya’da gerek Orta Asya’da gerekse de Balkanlar’da ilişkilerinin olduğu görülmüştür. Bu çalışmada derin bir mazisi olan Türk-Rus ilişkilerinin geçmişi, şimdiki yapısı ve gelişeceği yön anlaşılmaya çalışılacaktır. İki ülke arasındaki ilişkilerin sosyo-politik bir analizi yapılarak, 21. yüzyılda iki ülke ilişkilerinde hâkim olan siyasal anlayış açıklanacaktır. En nihayetinde ise gelecek dönemde iki ülke arasındaki ilişkilerin gelişeceği yön ve tarz üzerine ortaya atılan görüşler tartışılacaktır.
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The article analyses representations of history in today’s Russia as part of the ideology for expressing central political concepts underlying the Putinist regime. Mainstream interpretations of history build on a populist vision of Russia as a community with a stable, unchangeable core of identity. In this ideological context, history serves as the canvas on which the ‘authentic’ Russian identity manifests itself. The present research article examines representations of history by focusing on the concepts of ‘historical sovereignty’, ‘unity of history’, and the role of elites in history. It finds that regime ideology in today’s Russia relies on a sizable infrastructure that involves producing historical knowledge for the purpose of securitizing history and making it an instrumental element in the populist (conservative-communitarian) ideology. Sources for this study come from the network exhibition ‘Russia – My History’, contextualized through content analysis of the key producers of ideology in Putin’s Russia.
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This article aims to examine the rise and fall of the intertwined concepts of ethnic mobilization and sovereignty of Tatarstan from both micro and macro chronological perspectives. The findings of the article indicate that Tatar elites were always hegemonic and decisive in shaping the autonomous sovereignty. The path dependency of Soviet nationality policies combined with an ethnic nomenklatura discourse enabled the Tatar elites to challenge the Federal center for the expansion of sovereignty. However, the Tatar elites pursued an adoptive strategy in order not to risk their elite power and wealth when faced with the growing state capacity of Moscow in the Putin era.
Article
This article explores the phenomenon of Russian hip hop as part of a creative resistance movement in contemporary Russia. It argues that hip hop, which originally came to Russia during the country’s 1990s infatuation with the West, links back to a long-standing tradition of music as counterculture in a Russian context. By placing Russian hip hop within a general shift of popular culture towards intellectual notions of political responsibility, this article discusses the emergence of a socially conscious form of high hip hop in Russia, contextualising it within the specific anti-Western and anti-intellectual cultural atmosphere created under the Putin regime. By investigating Russian hip hop’s ties with the country’s intelligentsia heritage and its relation to counterculture during the Soviet era, this article addresses two underlying concerns: what ‘case’ can be made against contemporary Russian hip hoppers, and what this conflict tell us about the contested frontline between popular culture and politics under Putinism. While the work of several Russian hip hoppers will be discussed as part of this analysis, particular attention will be paid to recent tracks released by the rappers Husky and Face.
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Before 2014 Putin used semantic structures characteristic of authoritarianism and façade democracy to shape Russian political discourse. After the annexation of Crimea, we identify the decrease of authoritarian discursive elements, the occurrence of references to democratic values, and the prevalence of totalitarian discursive elements. This quantitative alteration co-occurred with a qualitative change of the intensity of totalitarian gnosis that increased from the low to the moderate extent. This paper aims to examine the extent of the intensity of totalitarian political gnosis in Putin's most influential speeches: the annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, and the president's annual news conference.
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A principal theme of international relations scholarship following the Cold War was the apparent erosion of state sovereignty caused by globalization's integrative effects and the proliferation of international institutions and networks. In recent years, however, scholars have noted a reverse trend: the reassertion of traditional, or Westphalian, state sovereignty. By contrast, I highlight another recent trend that has gone largely overlooked: the reaffirmation of older “extralegal” and “organic” versions of sovereignty by three of the world's most powerful states—Russia, China, and the United States. After tracing the genealogy of these older concepts, I consider how and why they have gained prominence in the official discourse of all three countries. I also explore the implications of this shift, which not only illustrates the importance of “norm retrieval” in international affairs, but also raises questions about the foundations of international order. Contrary to Westphalian sovereignty, which emphasizes the legal equality of states and the principle of noninterference in domestic affairs, the extralegal and organic versions offer few constraints on state action. If anything, they appear to license powerful states to dominate others.
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