Each case is an exception? Pseudo-conservatism in Russian society and politics

  • Date: –17:00
  • Location: Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES) Gamla torget 3, 3 floor, IRES Library
  • Website
  • Organiser: Institute for Russian and Russian Studies (IRES)
  • Contact person: Jevgenija Gehsbarga
  • Phone: 018 471 1630
  • Föreläsning

The rising of the right-wing, nationalist movements and parties during the current decade is accompanied by the new popularity of pseudo-conservative strategies which successfully adapt themselves to both authoritarian and non-authoritarian types of societies. In Eastern Europe and Russia, these theoretically and practically inconsistent forms of social and political action, promoted by many as unique remedies against a supposed crisis of tradition, are currently most prominent. While somewhat different in their choice of ‘traditional’ arguments depending on the country, pseudo-conservative strategies have common distinctive traits, such as the hostility towards the current status quo, the willingness to take risks and the creative spontaneity of decision-making.

In Russia, pseudo-conservatism has become a dominant political strategy after the annexation of Crimea, although this phenomenon is often confused with the Renaissance of conservatism. The main focus of my presentation will be on the pseudo-conservative instrumentalization of religious, ethical, legal, social and political models of the past for the sake of explaining and justifying present actions. The lack of consensus on the main traits of the Russian cultural identity which, according to the rhetoric of pseudo-conservatism, has to be preserved at any cost makes possible the symbiotic coexistence of several rationally incompatible strategies which take their inspiration from different historical periods. The goal of the presentation will be to explain the mechanism of this coexistence and to describe the chief characteristic features of the contemporary Russian pseudo-conservatism.

Alexey Zhavoronkov is senior researcher at the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. He has received his first PhD in Classical Philology at the Lomonosov Moscow State University in 2010. In 2013, he has successfully defended his doctoral thesis in philosophy at the Humboldt University of Berlin. His doctoral study in Germany was funded by a fellowship of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Between 2013 and 2017, he worked as postdoctoral researcher in Berlin, Weimar and Erfurt. The key fields of his research are German philosophy of the 19th and 20th century (most prominently Nietzsche and Arendt), philosophical anthropology and social philosophy. His current project focuses on the cognitive, ethical and social role of exceptions which, along with norms, are an integral part of our everyday life. The main goal of his work in Uppsala is to study the differences between the conservative and the pseudo-conservative model of action in contemporary Russian society and politics – from the perspective of the role of exceptions which depend on our decisions.