Creative class: new threat to Russia

The Ukrainian crisis provoked activity of this faction

Upon closer examination, today's extremism is like a mosaic, in which each piece of glass represents a different ideology, substantiating the superiority of some social groups over others. People united by such beliefs are simply a gift to the forces that strive to create chaos in state management, to start riots and even to effect a real coup, as happened in Ukraine. In that country, various different groups - Nazis, liberals, and “greens” -  were united by Euromaidan organizers and, thanks to their passion, produced horrific results. Without the help of oligarchs and foreign special services these disparate groups would, for the most part, remain relatively harmless, however the potential of their destructive extremist ideology allowed the organisers to implement the idea of the coup in full measure.

Let’s look at social groups,which have recently formed in the Russian ideological space. At first sight, they do not seem so dangerous. Their distinctive feature is anti-patriotism and devotion to the Western culture. Today we see many ardent patriots of the United States of America, the European Union and its countries in Russia. The term “national traitors” is not appropriate to this group - these Russians are commited to their distant objects of veneration, they are a real “fifth column”, which waits for fundamental forces to launch an attack. It is important to note that representatives of the Russian “fifth column” are part of a global ideology, which can be described as “consumer fascism”. In postmodern society, some representatives of the middle class define their identity in accordance with what they drink, eat, what household items they use, where they spend their holidays and so on. They form their opinion about other members of society according to so-called “luxury” consumption. These “others” can be regarded as “non-humans”, “simpletons”… And the creative class believes that they  - the simpletons - have no ability to govern the state. Why? Because they don't take pleasure in eating dried Spanish ham or Italian parmesan.

It is not surprising that Russia’s “food sanctions” have raised a storm of indignation among representatives of Russian “fifth column”. In fact, Russian authorities eliminated the basic element of the “column’s” identity by removing its consumption of the very luxuries that distinguish them from the “ordinary people” whom they mostly despise.

The more appropriate term to better understand the danger posed by these people is “faction”, which, as American founding father James Madison put it is “a number of citizens, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community”..

That they have appeared in modern Russia was not unexpected. Even before the mass protests on Bolotnaya Square in 2012, strongly demonstrated protest moods were palpable on the Internet.  (The term “creative class” emerged to describe these people during the mass action on Bolotnaya Square)

The Ukrainian crisis beginning with Euromaidan and continuing with reunification the Crimea with Russia provoked “factional” activity. The “Anti-Crimean” demonstrations were not only a significant political failure for the “liberal opposition” whose asset is the “creative class”. They marked a type of sublimation when, from the mass of liberal-minded Russian citizens, the part that really hates “this Russia and everything related to it” finally crystallized.

Events in Odessa, on the 2nd of May 2014, became the bifurcation point. The representatives of this “faction” called a brutal killing a “natural selection”. They wrote in their posts on the Net that they did not understand “what there is to grieve”. Such assessments of the tradegy in Odessa allow us to define a role for this group in Russian society – from the point of view of the majority of the Russian electorate – the “faction” might be placed on the outskirts of the Russian political field.

Indeed, both the high-profile and little-known posts made by “creative members” of social networks - bloggers, journalists and politicians - are full of hostility towards Russia’s “political majority”. So-called media icons of the “creative class” call Russians “gopniks” and “losers”, compare the country with a drain-hole, criticize the Patriotic education programme and even create bright images of “uneducated vatniks voting for Putin, who, in his turn doesn’t care for them”.

These posts also reflect another important phenomenon – the isolation of “faction” members from the realities of the country’s social and political life. So, let’s take a look at the attitude of representatives of this social group to the Orthodox Church (and religion in general). In an Internet post on Orthodoxy one of the activists expressed his resentment that one cannot sit during church services, that they last too long and are conducted in a strange language. In this he demonstrates a lack of knowledge of religious and cultural issues.

This “faction” can be dangerous for society in general. The “creative class” includes popular journalists and public officials. The effect of their presence in social networking sites and information structures can be compared with an explosive mining device. Relatively harmless at first sight, they, as the experience of Ukraine has demonstrated, become the driving force of coups and repressions, they can impose censorship (for example, after the victory of Maidanan Ukrainian NGO “Stop censorship!” introduced censorship in whole regions in Ukraine), and even become warlords. This “faction” is not only a Russian phenomenon. It exists almost everywhere. People being motivated by the ideology of “consumer fascism” are a threat to state security.