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  • Author: Fedor Stanzhevskiy x
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Pluralism and Conflict: The Debate about “Russian Values” and Politics of Identity

Abstract

This article addresses the issue of the plurality of Russian identities. The role of the “otherness” (as embodied by Catholicism) in Russian identity is addressed. The stereotype idea of the two traditionally opposed identities, those of elite and common people is corrected by suggesting a third Russian identity, shaped by the followers of the Old Belief after the split of the Russian Church. In analyzing this identity, one should consider not only the intertwined political and religious dimensions of the Russian identity but also its historical dimension. The Old Believers, owing to their worldview and way of thought, gave rise to a new anthropological figure which contrasts with the stereotyped image of the Russian grounded in the history of serfdom and rural community. This new type of Russian identity is associated with democratic governance, rigorous way of life, higher rationality, and dynamic and successful economic activity. Nevertheless, the history of the Russian Raskol reveals a latent conflict inherent in the Russian past and present and underlying Russian identities. Unlike the religious wars in Europe, this conflict received no resolution; instead, it has been repressed and therefore keeps latently affecting the Russian present. Present-day Russia should draw inspiration in the religious and political heritage of the Old Believers, if the conflict is to be resolved.

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