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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

SEASON OF DISCONTENT: Neurotic Elite Loves West, Hates West




A mathematician-


turned-political analyst, I am more and more becoming political analyst-turned-psychoanalyst, investigating the complexes of the Russian political elite's collective unconsciousness.


I study this subject through observation and experimental interaction with individual species of this class.


I have often heard different people on different occasions repeating - with a look of extreme self-importance and self-adoration - the exact same phrase, word for word. The entire Russian political elite, they say, with the exception of some isolated marginalized figures, is united as never before in denouncing or praising something - denouncing, for example, NATO enlargement, or praising Yevgeny Primakov's vision in putting forth the idea of a Russia-India-China strategic triangle.


Why do they say they are united as never before? The same political elite, in its previous incarnation (when they were all active Communist Party functionaries) was united on every issue - with the exception, of course, of some isolated marginalized figures, who were either kept in psychiatric asylums or exiled. And if Russia's political elite is so united, concerted, determined, then why is Russia's foreign policy so inconsistent, to put it mildly - or so schizophrenic, to put it frankly?


On several occasions, in my presence, a leading liberal State Duma deputy put forward for our foreign colleagues the following set of arguments.


Point No. 1. NATO committed a blatant aggression, and all Russians, in their deep indignation at the United States and NATO, will view them as the main enemy for many years to come.


Point No. 2. Russia contributed enormously to settling the Balkans crisis. (Keeping Point No. 1 in mind, what did Russia contribute to? To bullying innocent victims of aggression into capitulation?)


Point No. 3. We expected to be rewarded. (For what? First encouraging Slobodan Milosevic in his criminal and suicidal policy, and then selling him out? And rewarded by whom? By Russia's public enemy No. 1?)


Point No. 4. We have not been rewarded enough and thus feel humiliated.


This very typical mixture of recriminations, complaints and self-pity looks more like hysterical reactions driven by psychological complexes than a coherent and rational foreign policy.


Russia's attitude to the West has always been very ambivalent, contradictory and emotionally charged. More than 80 years ago this dramatic relationship was most powerfully expressed by our great poet Alexander Blok in his famous poem "The Scythians": "She [Russia] looks, looks at you with hatred and with love."


Today, the traditional dramatic attitude of Russia's political class toward the West has turned farcical. We seemingly need two different Wests. One - to blame for all our failures; to denounce; and to regard as inferior to our spirituality and sobornost. The other - to ask for credits and humanitarian food aid; as a place to send our children and grandchildren for study at Cambridge; or, for the most outstanding of us, to buy castles on the C?te d'Azur.


We have found a sophisticated way to overcome this split of consciousness. We have designated NATO to be our whipping boy - the bad West. Then there is the good West, with whom we condescendingly agree to cooperate in the above-mentioned spheres. It's called the European Union.