O cruel, needless misunderstanding!
But now it was all right, he had won the victory
over himself. He loved Big Brother.
George Orwell, 1984
Russia is powerful. Whatever the critics, although reasonably, note regarding Russian waning strength, we still possess some potential to live on.
Yet the potential is scarce, and, assessing the current political and economic environment in Russia as well as that outside of the country, we Russians have to brace ourselves and prepare for the worst.
What, then, has the ruling elite to do, taking all the unsettling results of the measures aimed at strengthening the ruble and the even more unsettling prospects lying ahead into account? Well, the answer here comes from the 19th century: an ideology is needed, one offering clear explanations to whatever questions might haunt an average Russian mind.
At this point you would probably like to ask me a couple of questions. First, just to what extent is a notion of an official ideology plausible in a country where the introduction of such an ideology is constitutionally prohibited? The second question would probably look like this: How can any ideology answer a variety of questions simultaneously?
Dealing with the first question is a piece of cake when Russia is concerned. The practical implementation of any law here works as long as those in power consider it necessary. For example, look at the anti – alcohol campaign that used to function for quite a while but is currently being transmuted into something like the acquiescence with excessive alcohol consumption, provided that the drinks are made in Russia (what a way of supporting the country’s production in the times of turmoil!). To put it short, a law can be broken if Big Brother wishes so; thus, a state ideology may be introduced, although on an unofficial basis.
Tackling the second question would be a more complicated task. The rub lies in the fact that no one can predict what an individual might inquire when addressing either the media or the officials and what might ignite this person’s lack of credit towards the state. But even in such a tricky situation the ideologists together with the government can still find – and, in fact, have found – something to hold on to: what they are to do is switch the public’s attention from how we can escape the mess we got ourselves into to who is to blame. This goal achieved, they just render one sky-clear thesis understandable even to those without any political expertise: all the misfortunes have been brought to our land by the West. Even admitting that the government’s catastrophic failure to diversify Russian economy was, in effect, part of the driving force that’s lead us to where we are now, the officials, including President Vladimir V. Putin, focus on the so – called Western plot to weaken and destroy Russia.
Probably the whole affair wouldn’t look so formidable if the general public remained intact to what was delivered to them, or if they at least tried to differentiate between reasonable arguments and what was groundless, doctored, or, just like in 1984, rectified.
Sadly enough, the majority of the people have chosen to follow the current. Maybe the absence of relevant information and political education has its part to play. Maybe some of people indeed believe that whatever the ruling elite does is aimed at increasing their, ordinary people’s, prosperity. Whatever the reason, people stay loyal and even feel more loyal than ever before with Putin’s approval ratings reaching the unprecedented highs of about 85%.
They have finally learned to love Big Brother.