A Global Challenge for Russia
Last week, President Vladimir Putin met with activists of the Leaders Club for Business Initiatives Promotion. Businessman Alexander Andreyev, who attended the meeting, asked the president to state the national idea — an idea that would incentivize and unite all citizens, as he put it, "on an interpersonal communication level." The businessman had thought a great deal about this and, from his perspective, the underlying assumption should be that there are no outsiders in this country, we all serve a common cause and we should work to make Russia strong.
The president basically agreed with Alexander and said there is no and can be no other unifying idea except patriotism.
"We can't think up another idea and we shouldn't. It's out there," the president said, adding that if we want to live a better life and make the country more attractive to all people, both the government agencies and business should also be made more effective. Then each citizen "will live better — better off financially and more comfortably."
"This is in fact the national idea," Putin said.
I would single out one important point in this interesting conversation. Both Andreyev and Putin shifted the issue of a national idea from a purely intellectual to an emotional level. Andreyev talked about the spirit of a common cause and a sense of community, while Putin talked about patriotism.
Indeed, you can only talk about the unifying basis of a certain reality when this basis exists on an emotional level. We protect our family members not because we have some familial idea but because we are connected with each other on the psycho-physical level. A person can hardly be expected to give up his life for his Motherland without a sense of attachment and love for it.
However, this is not to say that something that can unite people cannot or should not be expressed through ideas. Feelings are unstable, short-lived and transient unless they are registered on a cognitive level. Furthermore, the reverse is also true. Really powerful ideas can permeate a person's entire existence, becoming the vibrations of his soul and body.
When a person understands and grasps something and when he can feel and put it into words, then a certain harmony of the spirit, soul and body is established, which starts to determine his entire life and activity. So, once we utter the words "patriotism" and "common cause" we cannot exempt ourselves from the responsibility of explaining the meaning of this to ourselves and the world around. What will we protect as we would our own life? Perhaps, indeed, we should not think up anything. It's crucial to understand and grasp what this is all about. I believe we can and should talk about the essence of patriotism.
So in Putin's remarks, I would separate what is directly related to the fundamental unifying component, without which we are unable to survive, from what he says about striving for more prosperity and comfort.
The last two are certainly useful and pleasant things but they are in a different category than the core values we unite around. Nobody will want to die for comfort and prosperity. Meanwhile, we need, above all, to come to terms with this crucial matter, as we are already in a state of war of annihilation — there is no getting away from this fact.
What do we defend?
So, what is it that we must not give up under any circumstances?
First, our territory. Without a land we can call our own, we have always been and will be a nonentity, nothing.
Second, it's impossible to survive in this world without a state of our own. The experience of Iraq, Libya and Ukraine shows this in no uncertain terms. Without a state, social chaos sets in. We may not like our officials but it is important to realize that there are no others yet. What's more, there are no officials as a separate social stratum, either. Officials are you and me. No rotation and no democracy with its elections can help us. There will be exactly the same people. Actually, at that meeting, the president sought to explain this to those who are critical of various officials.
As a matter of fact, both territory and the state are traditional objects of patriotic feelings. However, today's patriotic agenda should be enlarged. We will have to defend not only our life but also all of humankind.
Aboard the Titanic
What is happening in the world today is not recession, not a temporary downturn, not another economic crisis.
The capitalist system has reached its growth limits. Clearly, debts will not be repaid. Trust will disappear from the system. What lies ahead is a nonpayment crisis, bankruptcies, mass unemployment, the collapse of pension systems and the plummeting of living standards in all advanced and not very advanced countries. The system is already starting to consume itself. First, Europe will be robbed blind and we will be next down the line.
Generally, it is already understandable how stabilization will be achieved. Democracy and freedoms will be abolished. People will be deprived of their consciousness and will, thus becoming totally unable to resist what will be done to them, but they will not even notice this.
In the social system that is already emerging today, there will be no room for people as conscious, intelligent beings. Such people are an extraneous element. Everyone will perform his narrow specialized function in a disciplined way.
Knowledge about the way society is really organized will be available to only a few, but even they will eventually lose this insight. People will turn into ants a significant part of whose control functions will be farmed out to external servers. This is the objective behind the organization of the present system of education, which essentially destroys a person's creative potentialities; the organization of corporations, which turn a person into an obedient functionary; the media environment, which reduces a person to consumer behavioral stereotypes; and even the healthcare system, which cashes in on alienating a person from his psychic and bodily functions (for example, replacing his immune system with antibiotics and replacing emotional self-regulation with psychotropic medications).
Meanwhile, it is becoming increasingly obvious that there are too many unnecessary people in the world. They are not needed in a system geared towards economic efficiency. In rich countries, people are gradually taught to believe that it is perfectly all right to be outsiders and not be involved in public life. This is the essence of guaranteed income that, from all indications, will be approved at a Swiss referendum in June 2016. You will be insured regardless of your employment.
I should only add, at this stage. Later, the question about the expediency of your life will come up all the same. Who needs it and why? As a matter of fact, all the required calculations are already being made. They say the capacity of the modern global economic system is about 100 million people. They don't need any more. The "golden billion" is an optimistic myth that is history now.
So the objective that the system will gravitate towards is the elimination of the extra seven billion people. It's simply that today there is evidently no technology to do this without any harm being caused to the global environment. And no preparatory work has been done so far. There is nothing personal about this objective. Such are the laws of business.
We should realize that we are all in the same boat — the Titanic. Today, we already have Western education standards; the healthcare system is rapidly becoming commercialized and the same goes for the media, advertising and therefore ideological space. We have been incorporated into the process of dehumanization, turning people into bio-robots.
In short, we have been incorporated into the process of rapid and focused degradation of the individual. What's the point of territory or state if we are not even aware that we are no longer human? We will ask for external managers to be sent to us, who will get us in order. Naturally, it will not be our order and it will not be for us.
Making people human again
Amid an undeclared war, we will fall more rapidly than anybody else or rather we will be pushed to fall before everybody else. Therefore, we must think more rapidly than anybody else. We need a national salvation plan, not import substitution.
In a situation where our exports will be closed, the import of vital goods and technology will be blocked and we will be shut off from the global financial system, the return to a sovereign planned economy is inevitable. We should start preparing for this now without further delay. However, as I've tried to show, this will not be enough. We need to preserve the individual. And this is what makes us different from the planned Soviet economy.
In our minds, we should return to the historical moment when the person was lost. To all appearances, this happened during the early Enlightenment, when the ideas of scientific and technological progress, industrial development and economic efficiency took center stage.
The human reproduction process, however, became secondary. Even at that time, the industrial and commercial community started formulating a "social order" for human qualities and abilities. Society as a whole, the entire social system began to evolve regardless of what happened to a person and his qualities.
Today, people are forced to adjust to the needs of socio-production systems (in the USSR, this approach remained without change). The logic of this process was that the creative potentialities of people, their vitality and their sparkling energy are no longer in demand. Moreover, the number of people in the world is many times "the human capacity" of the existing system.
The challenge that we are facing is to upend the fundamental principle of social organization; it should be made human-centric again. Not a person should exist solely for the sake of production and consumption, but on the contrary, all production systems should be organized to ensure the main process in society — i.e., the production of healthy, conscious, intelligent and imaginative people. Essentially, the objective is the drastic reconstruction of the entire social system based on new, truly humanitarian principles.
The content and functions of education, healthcare, physical fitness, sport and tourism should be completely revised. We will need to develop a fundamentally different view of employment and labor. We will need to reconsider the role and purpose of R&D, design and experimental production programs, etc., etc. We will need to learn to count spherical and poly-spherical balances instead of economic efficiency and GDP. Competition will have to give way to communication. We should create a completely different civilizational system of coordinates. Our life should be interesting, exciting and meaningful.
This is a civilizational challenge to our thinking, to our social and cultural imagination. It's a challenge to our ability to be inspired by new bold ideas. It's a challenge to our ability to feel patriotic about our still unknown but alluring future Motherland.
Our president, our elite and we ourselves do all we can to ignore this essence. This is only natural. We are historically allergic to projects based on wishful thinking. We know that such projects are, as a general rule, short-cut to hell. We know the bitter price of social ideals. We know the outcome of attempts to forcibly make people happy. Once we attempted to lead our country to a brighter future. Any model of an ideal society carries the high risk of violence being committed against those who, for some reason, cannot or will not want to conform to this model.
All of this is correct and justified. We really need to follow a different path, factoring in our unique historical experience. We need to move forward based on principles of nonviolence, voluntarism and local experimentation. We need to understand that social ideals are not meant to be put into practice all at once. This is nothing more than a system of guidelines for navigation. It's like stars that are used as guidance, not a target to reach.
The humanization of a person is the essence of the Bigger History. If Russia does not return to History, it is unlikely that any other Europeans will be able to do so. Unfortunately, due to our experience, we are the only ones who can understand this set of problems. I would not like some aliens from other worlds who one day come to our planet to start wondering: "Why did those humans manage to fail?"