Russia Against Modernity
Putin's war is a "special operation" against modernity. The invasion has been directed against Ukraine, but the war has a broader target: the modern world of climate awareness, energy transition and digital labor. By trading oil and gas, promoting Trump and Brexit, spreading corruption, boosting inequality and homophobia, subsidizing far-right movements and destroying Ukraine, Putin's clique aims at suppressing the ongoing transformation of modern societies.
Alexander Etkind distinguishes between Russia's pompous, weaponized paleomodernity, on the one hand, and the lean, decentralized gaiamodernity of the Anthropocene, on the other. Putin's clique has used various strategies - from climate denialism and electoral interference to war and genocide - to resist and subvert modernity. Working on political, cultural and even demographic levels, social mechanisms convert the vicious energy of the oil curse into all-out aggression. Dissecting these mechanisms, Etkind's brief but rigorous analyses of social structuration, cultural dynamics and family models reveal the agency that drives the Russian war against modernity. This short, sharp critique of the Russian regime combines political economy, social history and demography to predict the decolonizing and defederating of Russia.
About the Author
Alexander Etkind is a professor at the Central European University in Vienna.