Russia’s tasks following the results of the Putin-Biden summit in Geneva

MOSCOW, 02 Jul 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.

The results of the Russian-American summit held in Geneva on June 16, 2021 can be described as a success at the operational level for Russia as a whole. This should be considered an absolute success, since we managed to repel a large-scale, even global geopolitical offensive of the collective West, which covered almost all aspects, from finance and economics, to basic conceptual imperatives. At the same time, keeping the situation from falling into direct hostilities.

However, in a strategic sense, the achieved success has a temporary character. The reaction of the American media, as well as the statements of major politicians in the US, shows the dissatisfaction of the American establishment with the fact that there is no “unconditional surrender of Moscow”.

First of all, the fact that the assessments of representatives of both the liberal-democratic and Republican camps are similar is important. This suggests that Russia does not have any systemically “friendly” political forces in the US, based on which it would be possible to build stable long-term positive international relations.

The transition from the openly “hawkish” line of the head of the State Department Anthony Blinken, which dominated US foreign policy during February – May 2021, to the seemingly peaceful “dove” position of the US President’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan, thanks to whose efforts the meeting in Geneva took place in general, means only that the American political ruling group became aware of its complete exhausting of resources in non-military pressure on Russia and China. With the constant understanding of the unwillingness of the US and the collective West as a whole to use purely military tools.

A bet was made on a sharp, large-scale and rather hysterical escalation of the conflict of the classic blackmail kind: either you give in or it’s a war that you will obviously lose. But suddenly it turned out that Russia and China have taken a fundamentally inflexible position, in framework of which entering a global war is perceived as a completely acceptable option. Even taking into account the global nature of its inevitable mutual destructive consequences.

In this regard, the American establishment was forced to stop further escalation, thereby recognising Russia’s right to geopolitical subjectivity. And it’s not because Washington is ready to abandon its claims to its sole world’s civilisational hegemony in favour of the concept of a multipolar world, but only because of the lack of new ideas for continuing an effective offensive without falling into a direct war.

While the very basic concept itself within the ruling American elite remains unchanged. The only “correct” form of civilisation, without any doubts and without any reservations, is only “democracy”. Its confrontation with “autocratic regimes” (which absolutely any active opponents of America, regardless of the actual form of their internal socio-political structure, are customarily referred to as in the US) is existential in nature, which in principle does not imply any long-term and stable good-neighbourly equal coexistence.

Therefore, “democracy” is always obliged to strive for leadership on the widest possible range of issues, from technological, geographical, financial and economic to cultural, sports or socio-value issues. The best of all is when the struggle for leadership is initially conducted on the field chosen by the West and according to Western rules.

The mutual agreement reached in Geneva with Moscow “to hold back the escalation in order to avoid the prospect of exchanging strategic nuclear strikes” only means that the tools of Western “soft power” that have been available up to now have lost their effectiveness. The West needs a respite to find new ones.

While this search is underway, the process itself should be used as a factor, albeit indirectly, nevertheless, binding Russia’s hands concerning its active independent foreign policy, primarily in relations with China.

At the same time, the current situation opens up the possibility for Russia to use the period of the effect of the “exhausted enemy offensive” to fundamentally improve the conditions for further geopolitical competition of systems.

The concept of unconditional political superiority of the Western world is based on the principle – “everything that is more attractive and more beautiful is better”. Western society is better because it provides more personal freedom and convenience in everyday life. The Western model of a free economy is better, because it provides a higher level of income to all participants, including ordinary citizens.

The Western design of the organisation of society is better, because it allows to achieve a higher technical and technological level, and what is best always turns into technical and technological standards. Western culture is better because “the whole world” reads the books of American authors, watches shows and movie blockbusters by American directors and plays computer games made by American developers.

Since all this is recognised by the citizens themselves, including countries outside the “golden billion”, as unequivocally superior, it means that the ideological and political model of the West is “the best”. And as it’s known, for growth, you should look up to “the best ones”.

As is usually the case in Western methods, in this, at first glance, correct approach, there is a subtle substitution of concepts. Generally speaking, democracy is the power of the people. Accordingly, democratic principles are those that the particular people has determined to be the best for themselves.

The people determined it based on convenience and efficiency specifically in their own combination of external and internal conditions. This implies the existence of mechanisms for specific implementation that are identical in terms of efficiency assessment, but differ in design and approaches. While the West claims that  “since our result is better, it means that the only mechanism exactly copying the Western one is better too.”

Throughout the entire post-Soviet period, Russia has tried to defend the right to its own version of Civilisation within the framework of a tendentious “Western approach”, disregarding the fact that according to Western rules, everything that differs in any way “from the only correct standard” is a priori erroneous.

Following the results of Geneva, Russia had the prospect of showing superiority “in the bestness” according to its own rules, without fear of the destructive sanctions’ consequences of the West. “Bestness” that is not based on some separate local issues, but at the level of a fundamentally alternative civilisational structure, where the difference from the “Western standard” does not mean any automatic lag.

The concept of “Western superiority” is based on the postulate of the indubitable satisfaction of society, and its constituent citizens, with the result of the functioning of the “system”. Where the concept of “system” means the structure of the economy, the availability of services, the breadth of social guarantees, the convenience of interaction with the state mechanism, satisfaction with the external environment.

All of the above should undergo accelerated reform in the near future. If “the people are dissatisfied”, it means that the system is bad and should be changed to the “Western” one, in which the people are considered to be obviously happier.

All of the above should undergo accelerated reform in the near future. If “the people are dissatisfied”, it means that the system is bad and should be changed to the “Western” one, in which the people are considered to be obviously happier.

It is precisely this understanding of “happiness” that should become the main goal, the achievement of which will show the superiority of the Russian civilisational model. At least for Russians, because if the Russian population will be mainly satisfied with its own way of life, the residents of neighbouring countries will also have a strong and tangible incentive to also switch from their “Western” civilisational model to the principles and mechanisms of the “Russian world”.

It is important to understand that, despite the materiality of everything that exists, in modern post-industrial society, the concept of happiness is determined not so much by specific measurable quantities, such as the average area of housing per person or the number of personal cars per 10,000 of the population, but is formed by the subjective feeling of individuals based on their personal understanding of how good (or bad) they live now, and what, for better or for worse, in their opinion is the dynamics of events in the future.

In the current period, the formation of such a feeling in Russian society is hindered by three trends: psychological tradition, negative information background and the lack of positive collective self-identification.

The Russian psychological tradition is based on the postulate of a fundamentally insurmountable individual weakness of an separate person (in which the traditional religious aspect is very strong, Orthodoxy is not a success story, it is a story of suffering). Hence their inability to successfully cope with difficulties, especially threats, in life on their own. This concept is constantly reproduced in literature, cinema, songs and everyday sayings.

The conventional “Chinese” are considered extremely hardworking, inventive and unpretentious. The conventional “Japanese” are considered unsurpassed stoics with a subtle sense of beauty. The conventional “Americans” are enterprising, active, freedom-loving and independent. While the generalised image of the “Russian” continues to remain gloomy, drunk, in a dirty old quilted jacket, tending to alcohol intoxication in the midst of hopeless ruin.

Although such a depressive image has not corresponded to reality for more than a hundred years, it continues to be dominant in the public perception, since the modern Russian information and cultural environment does not broadcast any other cultural code.

It is precisely this that requires a decisive change in the near future. It can be achieved (and should be) through a decisive revision of the direction of state support in the field of media policy. The deep negative psychological mood of American society during the Great Depression in the US was overcome only through the formation of the image of the “American Dream” purposefully created by cinema. In the same way, the depressive mood of Russian society can and should be overcome in Russia.

To do this, it is necessary to change the nature of state support for culture from clan to effective. In other words, grants should be allocated not “to the famous for being famous”, but in strict accordance with the thematic tasks of forming an appropriate positive image of people, life and the country. With a mandatory assessment of the obtained result, up to the mandatory return of funds to the budget in case of its failure, including from personal funds.

Of particular note is the expediency of expanding support for existing authors, author collectives and private media projects that already generate demanded and popular among the audience, positive content.

The core sense of the enumerated steps is the understanding that the outside world will never be able to recognise the superiority of our way of life and of the “Russian world” as a whole, if the Russians themselves do not recognise it as absolutely superior for themselves.

And they cannot do this, because they face a consistently negative information background every day. An analysis of the broadcast network of all the leading media channels shows that its overwhelming volume consists exclusively of negative reports.

Even state TV channels that are considered as central ones are focused on broadcasting events with a negative connotation. Who killed whom, who robbed whom, where and what burned, broke, exploded, who stole what and how much from whom, where another bribe taker was arrested, and so on.

This results not so much in a drop in the level of watchability of the “first buttons”, but in the formation in society of an internal persistent rejection of the world in which a person has to live. In particular, because media channels “sell” only the initial negative and completely ignore the further development of events.

For example, a lot has been told about the problem of landfills and related civil protests in an extremely negative emotional way, and the leading media do not report about the huge success the state has achieved in resolving it to date. They are simply not interested in a positive agenda in the interests of the state. Although the budget, especially received by the leading TV channels, has a big amount.

It is quite obvious that the information policy of the Russian media requires not just a semantic revision, but also the introduction of mechanisms for its censorship.

Moreover, a whole informational segment of interesting narratives about the surrounding world as a whole is almost completely absent in the domestic media space. I.e., the Russian audience receives positive impressions through obviously Western channels, like National Geographic, which beautifully tell about American prairies, about islands in the oceans, but practically nothing about whatever in Russia.

To force these sources to “also tell a good story about us” is practically impossible. And it is senseless to do it. It is mandatory to create our own, with the involvement of the relevant Russian travel bloggers from Instagram and YouTube. Moreover, during selection it is necessary to focus not so much on the size of their audience, but on the orientation, meaning and quality of the content generated by them.

The aspect of the lack of positive collective self-identification requires a separate substantive consideration. After the school ceased to perform the function of civic education of members of society and turned only into a service for providing educational services, a flawed semantic model of a deliberately negative principled confrontation between the interests of a person and the state was firmly established in the public perception.

Due to the lack of consistency in educational work, moreover, its absence as a class, there is a synergistic effect of overlapping two counter processes in this issue.

The state information policy concerns only the duties of a citizen to the state, without showing where, what and in what a citizen already receives not so much from the state, but thanks to its functioning.  This means public safety, stability and predictability of life, an increase in the quality of the living environment, and so on. Hence, it seems that the state only demands from the citizens, giving them extremely little or almost nothing in return.

On the other hand, the Internet and mass media, in a quality of an ideal role model, actively promote the concept of a” free citizen of the world”, whose happy and rich life is only hindered by state restrictions.

This state of affairs needs to be radically revised. As an example, it is advisable to consider the approach to advertising of social principles and approaches implemented in Thailand.

There, in an attractive and emotionally attractive form, healthy principles of social behaviour and a positive worldview are promoted: assistance to the elderly, mutual support with neighbours, respect for others, personal responsibility in everyday life, respect for culture and for collective self-organisation.

This shows and explains the importance of preserving the relationship between a person-society-state.

In addition to this, a radical expansion of the scale of state public work is required. At least in the field of mass sports and physical culture, healthy lifestyle, tourism promotion and other areas of collective interaction. Especially for children and teenagers. In general, the necessary tools for this already exist in Russia, in particular, the Young Army movement, the Sorok Sorokov movement, but the scale of their work requires significant expansion.

According to the results of the meeting in Geneva, Russia has from 2 to 5 years to implement all of the above.

The lower limit is due to the fact that the current state of exhaustion of the instruments of geopolitical pressure of the West on the Russian Federation will not last more than a year. Most likely, in the autumn of 2021, the US will hold the founding summit of the Alliance of Democracies, which will automatically require Washington to demonstrate its “leadership ability” in the form of inventing some new ideas and tools to “ensure superiority”, including putting pressure on Russia. This will automatically lead to a new increase in the imposition on Russian society of the conviction that it is flawed in relation to the “correct West”.

The upper limit is due to the assessment of the deadline when the collective West, led by the US, will still retain the ability to inflict a total military defeat on China in a local conflict on the territory of Taiwan. By its onset, the US will have to achieve a reliable geopolitical blocking of Russia’s international subjectivity, in order to ensure that the formation of an official public Russian-Chinese military alliance is avoided. This is possible only if the internal psychological integrity of Russian society is undermined.

Institute for International Political and Economic Strategies – RUSSTRAT


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