Cover Osteuropa 1-2/2019

In Osteuropa 1-2/2019

The sated and the rabble
The traditions of the Russian intelligentsia and the failure of the protest movement of 2011/2012

Il’ja Kalinin

Deutsche Fassung


Russia’s protest movement is responsible for its own failure. The leading representatives of the demonstrations against the regime presented the protest as a question of style and self-realisation, and entirely in the tradition of the Russian intelligentsia, they pitted “culture” against the “state”. For them, the demand for pluralism, transparency and fair elections was a question of good taste, which everyone who wanted to be “European”, “civilised”, “creative”, “modern”, “urban” – in other words: “normal” – simply had to have. While they claimed to be speaking on behalf of the people, they implicitly set themselves apart from precisely those same people. For them, the people is a grey mass, a rabble, and they ignored their social hardships. While the Russian intelligentsia once made attempts to get closer to the people, today, it is disgusted by them. This made life very easy for the regime’s propaganda, which discredited the entire movement as a small group of “sated and successful individuals”, while at the same time presenting itself as the true representative of the interests of the people.

(Osteuropa 1-2/2019, pp. 33–45)