In his keynote Valdai speech on October 27, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed the following thesis:
“The direct threat to the political, economic, ideological monopoly of the West is that alternative social models may arise in the world.”
Or even more sharply and definitely:
“I am convinced that real democracy in a multipolar world, first of all, implies the possibility of any people—I want to emphasize this—any society, any civilization to choose their own path, their own socio-political system.
“If the United States and the EU countries have such a right, then the countries of Asia, the Islamic states, the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, and the states of other continents certainly have such a right. Of course, our country, Russia, also has it, and no one will ever be able to dictate to our people what kind of society and on what principles we should build.”
Today in Russia it is a matter of putting forward just such an alternative social model to liberal democracy, of building its own socio-political system. It is this constructive step that is called upon to become the next stage of our strategy in the development of an acute civilizational war.
The basis of such a social model is necessarily traditional values, the Decree on the preservation and strengthening of which was signed by the President on November 9, 2022 (Decree No. 809). This is what the model should be based on.
Here is an enumeration of traditional values, which from now on acquire, in fact, a national character. These are the foundations of a sovereign ideology, which in a sense is obligatory for all citizens of Russia.
Let’s look at this most important code of the new operating system of Russian society in a little more detail. We quote Decree No. 809:
“Traditional values include:
human rights and freedoms,
patriotism, citizenship, service to the Fatherland and responsibility for its fate,
high moral ideals,
a strong family,
priority of the spiritual over the material,
collectivism, mutual assistance and mutual respect,
historical memory and continuity of generations,
the unity of the peoples of Russia.”
These 14 points should be regarded as nodal points of sovereign ideology. The State from now on is responsible for the state of public consciousness, and the social model, alternative to the West, will be based on these 14 points. In a sense, they become sacred.
The first three points are common to the Russian tradition and to Western liberal ideologies.
Right to Life. The first point is recognized as a traditional value by a wide variety of societies, both traditional and modern. A person’s life is entrusted to him alone, and another person has no right to take another’s life at his discretion. Moreover, in religious societies, the very act of suicide (not to mention being forced to commit it) is also considered a crime.
The only exception is the State, which, under certain circumstances, has the right to dispose of the lives of its citizens—by punishing convicted persons for proven crimes or by sending them off to fight in defense of the fatherland. But if life is a traditional value, which must be preserved and strengthened, then the state must also take it into account in extreme cases—showing, if possible, mercy to criminals and protecting the lives of soldiers and combatants.
Dignity. The second point asserts the natural dignity of the human being, which must be recognized and taken into account, both by society and by the state. Again, this value is common to religious cultures and modern liberal ideologies. In religion, the dignity of man derives from his special place in creation, where he is placed in the position of representing God in the face of the rest of nature and bearing full responsibility for it. In the secular context, this responsibility before God disappears, but man’s special place in nature remains unchanged. It is only in contemporary theories of deep ecology and posthumanism (as well as in postmodernism and speculative realism) that man is stripped of his dignity and seen as a threat to the environment.
Human rights and freedoms. The third point is also not unlike the principles of liberal ideologies, which also declare human rights, although in practice they are constantly flouted and trampled upon. Ideology is not a question of practice, but of norms. In the case of norms, what matters most is not whether they are respected or not, but what they are in themselves, what their content is.
With regard to the first three points, the following should be emphasized. One might think that they all coincide with liberal ideology and therefore are not an alternative to it. But they are not.
Since we are talking about ideology, all fourteen points together make sense. And the first three principles should not be considered separately, but on the basis of the totality of all fourteen principles, on the basis of which they acquire their own special, peculiar to our civilization and tradition, meaning. And it is from the integrity of the understanding of all fourteen points that a special Russian conception of man himself reveals itself.
A person becomes normative when he accepts all 14 properties as a value. This means that rights and freedoms apply to this full person. These rights and freedoms should be interpreted in the context of Russian history—Russian law and Russian truth. And one should especially take into account here the Christian view of life, dignity, right and freedom, which is in harmony with the views in other traditional confessions.
The alternative nature of Russian civilization clearly reveals itself from point 4 onwards—patriotism, citizenship, service to the Fatherland and responsibility for its fate. Here we are dealing with a purely Russian attitude towards the state as the supreme value. Before 1917, this was reflected in the idea of the sacred nature of the monarchy. The Russian Tsar was conceived as a Sustainer; that is not just a political, but also a religious figure, preventing the arrival of the Antichrist in the world. So, patriotism in Russia acquired a partly religious character—service to the Fatherland and responsibility for its fate was a spiritual feat.
During more secular times, and especially during the Soviet era, the interpretation of patriotism changed, but it invariably remained the most important line of force holding people and society together. Accordingly, an attack on this value, an insult to patriotic feelings, an irreverent attitude toward the state and state symbols is regarded by us as a challenge to public morality.
Patriotism, elevated to a value, readily contradicts a liberal ideology based on cosmopolitanism and the conviction that social progress consists in globalization, the abolition of nation-states and the creation of a World Government. This is the first clear challenge to the ideology of the collective West that we resist. From this point on, all the other items on the list of traditional values will only strengthen the identity of our sovereign ideology, and the divergence from liberalism (as well as the convergence with other illiberal types of societies) will only grow.
High moral ideals. The fifth point establishes the value priority of morality in society. Moral ideals are emphasized as “high,” indicating their vertical nature. In the Russian tradition, the highest ideal of morality was considered holiness, which draws us to the religious cult of saints, elders, martyrs, who are models of man and his behavior. Their role in moral education should be restored. Other traditional faiths have their own models of holiness, which in no way contradict the Orthodox faith. In the secular context (especially during the Soviet period), the highest moral ideal was seen as the hero who bravely sacrificed himself for the common good, the man-soul, giving his neighbor his last and not sparing energy for the sake of a brighter future.
But for ordinary people in Russian society there had always been quite certain norms of behavior, the treatment of others, ethical attitudes, disregard of which was perceived as immorality, a challenge and subjected to public condemnation.
Here, again, is the opposition to liberalism. Liberalism recognizes only individual morality, and regards any social ideal as an attack on the freedom of the individual. This individualism triumphed in Russia after the end of the USSR, which led to an unprecedented fall in society’s morals. The fact that high moral ideals are now enshrined as traditional values should radically change the very moral climate in society.
A strong family. This sixth point is particularly important in the context of the spread of liberal ideology, which denies gender, replaces it with an artificially constructed social gender, fully legitimizes homosexual marriage and other forms of perversion, and, in effect, abolishes the institution of the family as such. Since the Russian Constitution recognizes the family as such and only in the case of a union between a man and a woman, and since homosexual propaganda is legislated, the declaration of the family as a value already assumes that it is a marriage between a man and a woman. At the same time, it is obvious that abortion and even divorce are morally condemned, since neither of these is at all a sign of a strong family. A truly strong family includes children as well as the care of the older generation.
Again, this point directly contradicts liberalism, which, on the contrary, relativizes the family in every possible way and is oriented toward its complete abolition.
The family is at its strongest in a religious context, where marriage is viewed as a sacrament, divorce is actively condemned, and abortion is considered a sin.
Anything can happen in life, but it is important that the orientation toward a strong family prevail in society as a whole. This requires the revision of educational, upbringing and cultural policies. At the same time, it is harmoniously combined with the measures on saving the demographic situation in the country.
Creative labor. The seventh point refers to an absolutely special Russian ethical system in which labor is interpreted not as a heavy (although necessary) obligation, not as a punishment, but as a spiritual endeavor, as a creative transformation of the world. The declaration of labor as a value (and not just as a material necessity for survival) runs counter to liberal ideology, which places its stakes in capital, finance, and maximum profit, and relegates labor and laboring people as such to the bottom of the social ladder.
In Russian history, the work of the peasant was thought of as a spiritualized way of life, inseparable from family, religion, rituals, society, the surrounding nature and the animal world. Russian philosophers spoke of the liturgical nature of peasant labor, of its almost religious dignity.
The value of free social labor in Soviet times was stressed even more. Russian Slavophiles, Narodniks and Bolsheviks equally hated capitalism and its vampires, who appropriated the results of toilers’ work and grew rich through exploitation and market speculation. The value of labor further contrasts Russia and our natural social system with the liberal West. But for this legally enshrined value to become effective, a great deal will also have to be changed in Russian society itself, where capitalist attitudes, paradigms and practices were crudely copied in the 1990s. Now, insofar as they oppose the value of creative labor and have the character of blatant parasitism and exploitation, they turn out to be, at the very least, reprehensible. In fact, this clause of Decree No. 809 rejects the oligarchic system by law.
The priority of the spiritual over the material. The eighth point of Decree No. 809 is the culmination of sovereign ideology, the core of its code. This provision poses a radical challenge to materialism as a whole; that is, to such a picture of the world as is based on the primacy of matter and the derivative nature of spirit, thought, and soul. Materialism in science developed in parallel with the secularization of society, the rejection of God, the Church, religion, the sacraments, belief in the posthumous existence of the soul, the Last Judgement, the general resurrection of the dead. This is called the “process of secularization,” which became the basis of a whole Western ideology – secularism. It is secularism that His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia blasted at the last session of the World Russian People’s Council as the source of all present-day troubles. Secularism is a dogmatic materialism that is being forcibly introduced by the liberal bourgeois elites into both the natural sciences and the humanities. It is what all modern Western ideologies are built on—liberalism (certainly predominant today on a global scale), but also dogmatic communism and nationalism. All of them are built on the priority of the material over the spiritual and reduce all existence—natural and social—to material factors.
By legislating to the contrary, that is, the priority of the spiritual over the material, Decree No. 809 declares a break with the soulless materialism of the collective West—readily at its very roots, in the realm of causes, not just effects. All prevailing value systems in the contemporary West, and the political, cultural, educational, and economic superstructures based on them, are wholly materialistic, utilitarian, appealing to quantity rather than quality, placing the lower, corporeal aspects of existence above the higher, spiritual ones. Even the Western view of the individual as the basis of society is nothing more than the application of the atomistic principle of physics to man. Liberal democracy, based on social atomism and materialism, is precisely the creation of a political system from below.
Since in our case we overturn this basic ratio and swear to the Priority of the spiritual over the material, which is peculiar to Russian ethics, Russian tradition, Russian culture, we thus lay the foundation of our own, alternative to the West, social model. From this point you can deduce everything else; it is it from the standpoint of ideology the most important; it is central; it is key.
Humanism. The ninth point again seems to refer to liberal ideology and does not contain anything fundamentally Russian and alternative. However, here, too, things are not so simple. First of all, by this value we mean the humanism that is specific to Russian culture. And this humanism has always included not only body and psyche, but also the soul and the moral core of the human being. Russian humanism responded to those thoughts about man that revealed his depth, his moral freedom, his tragedy and sacrifice, his personality in an ongoing dialogue with God, people, and the world. This is an intense “maximal humanism,” quite different from liberal individualism, which, on the contrary, seeks to free the individual from all forms of collective identity.
Secondly, the modern West, which began with humanism (though in its individualist interpretation) has now reached a point where the abolition of the individual himself is on the agenda. In seeking to free the individual from all forms of collective identity—religious, class, national, class, and finally gender—the West has come close to transhumanism, in which what remains is to free man from his humanity (human optional). Singularity as the final transfer of power over humanity to a strong Artificial Intelligence logically follows from the whole liberal value system and completes the ideological path of Western civilization. We, however, remaining faithful to humanism, that is, to man—in all his spiritual, moral existential volume—again challenge the West and swear to a different vector of development.
Mercy. Tenth on the list of traditional values is mercy. Again, we are talking about a profound feature of Russian religious tradition, where mercy, compassion, care for the weak, the poor, the sick, the unfortunate, and the dispossessed were seen as indispensable aspects of a well-rounded person. The very recognition of this property of the soul as the highest value stems from Russian culture, which is deeply alien to cruelty, vindictiveness, selfishness, and disregard for the needy and suffering. Of course, mercy is a deeply personal feeling. But society, having recognized it as a value, shows how it should be treated—immensely respected, encouraged and cultivated in every way, turning it into the most important axis of culture and education.
Mercy is the direct antithesis of selfishness, which liberals systematically foster, and the resulting indifference to near and far.
Justice. This eleventh point resonates deeply with the Russian tradition and culture, with our past and political history—the building of socialism in Russia was an attempt to build a society based on the principles of justice. The West usually contrasts justice with freedom, claiming that socialism, by restricting freedom in the name of justice, condemns people to poverty and scarcity, while capitalism, by rejecting justice altogether and cultivating egoism, makes society prosperous and comfortable. If, for Russia, justice is recognized as a value, then this linear liberal logic is completely rejected. A just society does not necessarily have to be poor; equally, among capitalist countries with free markets, there are countries that are both prosperous and deprived, mired in poverty and corruption.
Russia cannot imagine itself without justice, which is the most important feature of our social identity. Consequently, this eleventh point already rejects capitalist dogmatism and opens up the possibility of exploring social alternatives in non-capitalist ideologies, not necessarily dogmatic Marxist: there are models of Christian, Chinese-Confucian and Islamic socialism. The term “socialism” itself is by no means necessary, but an orientation toward justice overrides the dogmatic status of capitalism as a particular political and economic order, which the West regards as having no alternative, although this is not the case.
Collectivism, mutual assistance and mutual respect. This feature of the Russian tradition, put forward as the twelfth point, encompasses various levels of the social order of Russian life. This applies to the organization of life on the land, the peasant way of life, where the rural community initially dominated—the “world.” Later urban industrial artels were built on exactly the same principle. The minimum unit of society in Russia was traditionally a family (primary collective), and then a large family, clan and so on up to the community (village, hamlet, etc.).
In the church structure the principle of sobornost’ corresponded to it. It was by gathering together that people performed worship, rituals and sacraments. And here the minimal unit was the collective, the parish.
In Bolshevism, the glorification of the peasant community by the Narodniks was transformed into the principle of collectivism, which was extended to the working class. But again, it was solidarity, mutual assistance, and mutual respect among workers that were elevated to the moral ideal. Therefore, collectivism as a priority of social ethics remained unchanged in spite of the differences in formal ideologies.
The sovereign ideology of contemporary Russia should not only take into account all these historical forms, but also create new ones. The main thing is to put collective identity above individual identity. Only then will the individual acquire his true content and his life will be full and meaningful, since an identity is formed only in a dialogue with others.
Historical memory and intergenerational continuity. The thirteenth thesis actually elevates identity to the status of a value. Identity is historical memory and continuity, which is what makes people a people and society a society. It is impossible to create a nation from an arbitrary set of atomic individuals (contrary to the claims of liberal ideology). It is created over centuries in the course of a difficult, sometimes tragic and sacrificial journey through the trials of history. Each generation contributes its own identity and passes it on to the next. This is how the nation is constructed: through deeds, remembrance, and continuity in the fulfillment of the designs begun by the ancestors. Cutting off the connection between the generations and cutting out the individual from his historical context is killing the nation. This is exactly what the globalists and the collective West are leading to. And this is what the nations of the world are increasingly rebelling against. If identity is a value, then the process of continuity, the transmission of the image, including the image of the future, should be treated with the utmost attention.
The unity of the peoples of Russia. The fourteenth point is the statement that the peoples of Russia, despite their ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity, constitute an organic whole. And this whole is one and indivisible. The Russian people is the axis, the core around which all others are united. But the peculiarity of Russian culture is that it does not impose itself on others, does not extinguish diversity in favor of a single national example, but carefully preserves the identity of each society and supports and helps each local culture to develop. The fact that this is precisely a value was first proclaimed by the philosophers of Eurasia. In the USSR, the principle of the brotherhood of peoples was justified differently, but in general it came down to a combination of unity and diversity in a common inconsistent socio-cultural ensemble. Such unity reflects the principle of an empire uniting different peoples and cultures on the other side of any nationalism, large or small.
So, putting together all the points of Decree No. 809, we get the framework of an original and completely original ideology. Its main features, however, are the following:
it sharply diverges from liberal democracy, which the collective West seeks to impose on all mankind (to contain, block the free development of other civilizations—V. Putin in Valdai speech) and represents an alternative model of socio-political system;
it succeeds in Russian history what are cultural and ideological constants (both in traditional society and in the Soviet era);
at the same time, it does not coincide with any previous ideology, each of which is historically limited, but offers a distinctive and original synthesis of what was most essential in each of them;
it invites all citizens of Russia to freely and creatively build a truly just, spiritual, honest moral society on the other side of narrow dogmas and artificial axiomatics—in a sense, it is an open ideology aimed at the future;
Revealing the essence of Russia’s civilizational peculiarity, it dialogues with other civilizations in the context of multipolar order (“The development must take place in the dialog of civilizations, based on spiritual and moral values”—Vladimir Putin in his Valdai speech).
In the complex situation in which Russia finds itself in the course of the Special Military Operation, which has turned into a full-fledged conflict of civilizations, Decree № 809 is the most important conceptual weapon, the value of which can hardly be overestimated. The Decree has been drafted, signed and adopted. There is only one thing left: to draw all the relevant conclusions from it. And as soon as possible.
Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.
Featured: “The appeal of Minin to the People of Nizhni Novgorod,” by Konstantin Makovsky; painted in 1896.