I am sincerely convinced that we cannot develop successfully without a clear understanding by the whole society of our national goals and objectives, the full depth of our spiritual and historical identity. Therefore, every inhabitant of our country, every Russian from childhood should know and understand why we all live and work as a single people, what we strive for.
The West, however, continues to act in line with the inhuman doctrine of the "golden billion", which implies a significant reduction in the world's population in various ways. To do this, the West has vilely created an empire of lies, involving the humiliation and destruction of Russia and other objectionable states. They spit in our eyes, but claim that it is God's dew. (English translation from Interview of Nikolai Patrushev in Rossiiskaya Gazeta)
It was recently reported in the Moscow Times (Russia’s Hardliners Present Their Manifesto: A Forever War with the West and a permanent wartime economy) that Nikolai Patrushev gave and interview to the official government newspaper of record, Rossiiskaya Gazeta. Mr. Patrushev is the current secretary of the Russian Security Council, and well known both for his influence within the state apparatus and his conviction that the conquest of Ukraine must proceed to its inevitable conclusion (the direction of the conclusion of this adventure, of course is viewed differently outside of Russia than within the closed circle of Russia's core of leadership). His history within the state security apparatus is also well known to those with an interest in those matters.
In that reporting Mark Galeotti noted that "this kind of lengthy, showcase interview is as significant as it is unusual." (Russia’s Hardliners Present Their Manifesto). He explains that Mr. Patroshev:
is in many ways the lead spokesman of the siloviki – the ‘men of force’ of the military and security agencies – and the most nationalist of them, at that. This interview was in many ways a silovik manifesto. It paints
an apocalyptic picture of a world in which an America that “has long
divided the whole world into vassals and enemies” and which is “used to
walking on scorched earth” has turned against Russia because it is not
willing “to give up its sovereignty, self-consciousness, culture,
independent foreign and domestic policy.” . . . Rossiiskaya Gazeta is not exactly a mass-circulation newspaper, and even though his words were then picked up and recycled by various other news outlets, it is hard not to conclude that his interview was really meant for an audience of one man: Vladimir Putin.
And indeed, the Russian internal debate appears to be of less interest to the press organs of the liberal democratic camp than perhaps they ought to be. And while the interview may have been publicly projected to a private audience within Russia, it does provide useful windows into the thinking of an influential faction, as against which advanced conflict tactics might be deployed. But that is well beyond the scope of this post.
The insight, though, suggests the utility of a wider circulation, and greater study, of the precise points Mr. Partrushev sought to highlight. Those points of emphasis are made easier for the consumer of this type of product by the emphasis provided in the text itself. That text highlighted these points:
Цель денацификации состоит в том, чтобы разгромить плацдарм неонацизма, созданный усилиями Запада у наших границ [The goal of denazification is to destroy the foothold of neo-Nazism created by the efforts of the West at our borders]
Если бы вовремя исполнялись все поручения главы государства в области импортозамещения, то мы бы смогли избежать многих проблем в экономике [If all the instructions of the head of state in the field of import substitution were fulfilled on time, then we would be able to avoid many problems in the economy]
The first ought not to be dismissed. It does suggest the semiotic transformation of the textual and discursive meaning and deployment of the term "Nazi." No longer attached to its historical context, it has become a fetish, an invocation. But it is an invocation intensified by the mythologies of prior sacrifice, and for its legitimating purpose ( that is on the basis of the following logic--"if I call my opponent a Nazi, then clearly I am not one myself"). It has been usefully deployed especially against Jewish people in general and the State of Israel in particular (eg here, and here), but now receives a broader application. That application is possible by deploying a semiotics of historical interpretation to create or emphasize the implications of meaning (in this case Ukrainian collaboration with elements of the 3rd Reich, and less noticeable, for the connection to the greater diaspora of Volksdeutsche in the European East before their mass deportations after 1945. In this case it is also a tool of warfare--a potent distraction and a means of advancing a legitimacy campaign beyond the West--into the rich fields of potential substitutions for economic, social, and political relations with the liberal democratic heartland. It is, in fact, a code for de-legitimization as a predicate for detachment--a Russian Ost and Sudpolitik that will move Russia away from Europe even as (in their own clumsy and bureaucratic way) Ukraine is eventually brought "back" into Europe.
The second suggests the challenges of this end game--even one assuming the absorption of some or all of what remains currently and officially Ukrainian territory within greater Russia. I put it that way precisely because it has been clear in the liberal democratic camp from almost the start of the invasion that the core of liberal democratic leadership is will to trade Ukrainian territory (however well dressed up that transfer is effectuated) for peace if not stability. Russian natural resources and their markets may be worth ceding someone else's territory--and the liberal democratic camp is at its finest when playing the semiotic game of principled (or in this case pragmatic) rationalization. But the highlighted statement suggests two other points. The first is internal--the need to elimination internal opposition to detachment strategies. The second is that such "import substitution" is possible. For that, of course, the elephant in the text is China. China likely provides the means for such substitution, as well as (perhaps along with India, Turkey, and Iran) as a reverse "silk road" for the covert importation of the trinkets and high value objects still coveted from the liberal democracies.
There is much more, of course, and much of it going to the discursive heart of a Russian imaginary that is both powerful (for them,) and potentially useful for instrumentalization (or weaponization depending on one's function in the great anti-Russian campaign) against those whose vision is dependent on and limited by the premises, taboos, and analytic limits of this world view. But that is also well beyond the task of this post. What appears quite evident, though, is that the power of liberal democratic discourse, remains among its most potent, if to date still ill used tools. If liberal democracy has lost its stomach for total war, it certainly has cultivated a hearty appetite for discursive wars--totality principles here might prove useful. In that respect the Ukrainians have led the way; a useful example for those opposed to the current Russian objectives and the tactics used to achieve them. The greatest weapon still left liberal democracy is its semiotics. If lucky, the rest will eventually catch up.
A crude English translation, along with the text of the original interview follows for more intense study