A friend sent me recently an abbreviated version of Xi Jinping’s January 2013 speech to the members of the Central Committee of CPC (the English translation is here). The speech is often mentioned, generally in the context of greater ideological control and “authoritarian tendencies” of Xi Jinping, but I have not read it until I got it from him.
"The lack of belief in the system stemmed from the failure of the Soviet Union in the economic arena, and inability to propose a system of participation in the decision-making that appealed to, or was acceptable to, most of its population."
Just as a thought experiment, replacing "Soviet Union" by "USA", raises the question of where the US is heading now and whether it could disintegrate as well. From what I hear and see, a majority of Americans feel left behind by the economy and not represented by the decision-makers.
It is not dissimilar to say African communists aligned to Russia or China. Before they defeated the colonial power they adopted the party script. But once in power it was soon abandoned for personal gain and personal security.
Great post, I think that an interesting question to ask would be when the ideological nihilism started and what were the material and ideal sources of the ideological nihilism.
Also, have you read Godfather of the Kremlin?
A long list of Russian intellectuals, among them Solzhenitsyn, Gogol, and Bulgakov, thought Ukraine and Russia were indivisible. Saying that the war in Ukraine was born out of ideological nihilism doesnt pass the most basic smell test.
This post seems oddly incomplete. If "KGB nihilists" are the epitome of "ideological nihilism", how exactly does Putin's steering of Russia back into Great Power status get explained?
Given that Putin is explicitly called out as one of Yeltsin's 4 "KGB ties" Prime Ministers of Russia - the failure to examine that thread further is notable.
1. Andropov wasn't a KGB man. He was party's man in KGB before his accession. The "Preference of KGB over all else" was far from consensus, it was a niche view.
2. Really "nihilistic" phase in Russia was late Yeltsin - early Putin period. That weren't "vegetarian" times (mostly due to the Chechen wars), but relatively mild. Far worse things happened later, when ideological vacuum was filled by imperial chauvinism. So it's not vacuum that leads to atrocities. The worst of atrocities of the XX c. were driven by ideologies, not the vacuum. "Vacuum is bad for the state and the country" is a misleading point (intentionally misleading when used by Xi) . It won't last anyway and the end result depends on what fills the vacuum eventually. In reality vacuum is bad for highly centralized top-down systems. This is true. But speaks nothing of the systems' merits.
Ideological nihilism probably describes the situaiton of the British Tory party today.
It’s interesting to note the ideological differences between Xi Jinping and Putin so at the of the day who wins or do they agree to disagree although one thing they have in common is that they are both against the West.
You really don't understand anything about Putin or Russia
I can't help but think of the suffering and death caused by 'idealists' leading the US - Reagan, Cheney, etc. Are they better than nihilists? Does the veneer of ideology absolve them of their bad impacts?
From https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2022/07/10/this-rant-over-trumps-enablers-provides-only-partial-catharsis/ (Joe Klein on new book by Mark Leibovich)
"So the GOP lapsed into nihilism. Its leaders regurgitated Trump’s lies. “It’s all theater, it doesn’t matter,” Graham said. When asked about how he would be remembered in history, Giuliani said, “My attitude about my legacy is: f--k it.” And the first lady wore a jacket emblazoned “I Really Don’t Care. Do U?”
They could be this brazen — they could almost get away with destroying American democracy — because a significant percentage of the American people, the folks that we “serious” people keep trying to “understand,” are too lazy and crass and bigoted to care. They just want revenge against the people who propose transgender bathrooms."
I'm intrigued, not by the default nihilism that overcomes an ideology at its end, but by what powers ideologies in their strengths. I'm intrigued by the recurrence of hints towards racial "science".
Here's Sergey Karaganov in https://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/ukraine/2022/04/russia-cannot-afford-to-lose-so-we-need-a-kind-of-a-victory-sergey-karaganov-on-what-putin-wants -
"We have our Asian traits in our genes, and we are in part an Asian country because of this. And Siberia is at the core of the Russian empire: without Siberia, Russia wouldn’t have become a great country. And the Tatar and Mongol yoke left many traits in our society."
Antony Beevor in this interview https://twitter.com/abc730/status/1532310287881502721 refers to the "casual savagery" of Russians in Ukraine and links the brutality back to vestiges left behind by Mongol invaders of Russia.
The ability to take human genetics apart bit by bit and re-assemble the choice parts must be an enticing prospect for some. What would Marx have made of the latest findings & feats of human genetics & neurochemistry?
Thank you, I have read only a very abridged version of it.
As for Putin's and Russia's motives for the invasion - have you considered taking official Russian reasons at face value and examining them? They are completely pragmatic and devoid of ideology - security, basically. I have to correct myself - Russian government tries to stick some sort of ideology on them, denazification and all, but it just doesn't hold and falls off like wet toilet paper.