STATE SYSTEM IN CRISIS AS A CATALYST OF ETHNOPOLITICAL TENSION
Fatima Albakova, D.Sc. (Philos.), senior research associate, Sociology and Political Science Department, Institute of Retraining at Moscow State University (Moscow, Russia)
Any polyethnic state should take into account its specific structure when working on a strategy of its social, political, and economic development. To remain stable and viable it should forecast and analyze ethnic contradictions and do its best to prevent violent clashes, to say nothing of provoking them. If a clash does take place tight control should be established over the conflict territory—it should not be one-sided and should not be established at any cost.
The world has accumulated a vast body of theoretical ethnological knowledge, it has acquired practical experience in the field of ethnopsychological and ethnosocial and political administration technologies the level and quality of which make it possible to create all sorts of models of contemporary multinational states that account for their ethnic specifics. On the other hand, theoretical knowledge can be used to move toward the desired aim, such as drawing ethnic groups into political struggle, fanning domestic and inter-state ethnic conflicts with the resultant uncontrolled flows of migrants. One should bear in mind that because of their situational ambivalence (they can be either closed or open depending on the marking, consolidating and identity components in the first case and on the mentality, culture, folklore, and religion in the latter case) ethnoses are more vulnerable than any other entities and are more responsive to impacts with predetermined results.
It has become obvious that not only ethnic conflicts but also other forms by which ethnocultural consciousness expresses its attitude to radical changes can question continued existence of power or provoke social and political instability. More likely than not ethnic tension is directly related to the domestic system of political institutions, therefore one can say that the country’s political crisis is responsible for any aggravation of ethnic tension that existed in a latent form or flared up during the period of economic and political changes. In fact, the processes of ethnopolitical self-assertion are unfolding throughout the world. Today, many of the polyethnic states are trying to smooth away the essential descriptions of an ethnos and look at ethnocultural components as major obstacles on the road toward society’s intensive modernization.
This approach is not justified—what is more, it is creating a lot of negative ethnos-related feelings. The melting pot of the United States, Canada and other countries was efficient at the early stage of adaptation. Sooner or later these countries were confronted with the problems of cultural self-identity that took a form of acute political actions of ethnic groups wishing to protect their languages, cultures, and other rights and elements. On many occasions the melting pot principle deepened the crisis of ethnocultural identity. To resolve the problem the United States and other countries of the same type and the former colonial empires flooded with immigrants started to promote a multi-cultural environment that encouraged ethnic minorities’ cultures and languages.
In its classical interpretation a crisis is a period of radical changes (that is a painful period when old forms are changed into new ones) followed by a period of balance. Radical (or worse still) chaotic changes of state organization are inevitably accompanied by deep-cutting and complicated crisis phenomena. As a rule they lead to a decay or disorganization of the sociopolitical and economic system. Since it is impossible to promptly set up a new social order the state crisis multiplies the accompanying losses by many times. Not infrequently such losses spell tragedies to nations and thousands of individuals. Any crisis launches changes that are perceived as destructive for the habitual style of living and the state’s basic structures. Society feels divorced from its past and sees no tie between it and its present and future life. It refuses to consolidate and integrate. “As distinct from the crises over which there are no disagreements in society (natural and technogenic calamities) the crises that divide society (social conflicts, political crises) are much harder to manage.”1 Harsh social-political reforms that disregard or even contradict people’s mentality and their ethnic, cultural, and confessional specificities or worse still are accompanied by acute ethnic conflicts and wars deepen the crisis. The politics that uses these means is doomed while its results will always be accompanied by sporadic extreme situations and chronic ethnic and political tensions and other socially destabilizing phenomena.
The systemic state crisis of the late 1980s and 1990s brought to life not only ethnic and political activity among the former subjects of the Soviet Union, and later among the subjects of the Russian Federation. It also caused centrifugal trends in rather central Russian lands. The Russians living on the southern fringes of the Russian Federation and sub-ethnic groups (such as Cossacks) demonstrated an active growth of ethnic self-awareness, a rekindled interest in their cultural origins and the symbols of ethnoterritorial identity.
Russia’s pre-revolutionary and Soviet past created a great amount of reasons for such “social-political turbulence.” The policy of “strengthening” the polyethnic Russian state of the last decade differed greatly from what existed and functioned in Soviet times. Within a short post-perestroika period everything that in people’s minds tied them to the social, cultural, economic, and political past was discarded. Instead, people were plunged into an all-embracing socioeconomic and political chaos. They were subjected to experimenting on the “astral-mentality level” expected to open the gates to “civilized expanses.”
Radical changes were overripe and there is no disagreement about this. One can tentatively agree with those who say that what happened in Russia was a logical product of the decayed system that preserved no healthy or consolidating factors. Intensified systemic differentiation reached the ethnic level and stirred up the masses: in the hands of a skillful manipulator this force can translate any idea into reality.
Common sense prompted a question: Why did political wisdom and will fail to smooth down the transition to new political and economic system and to carry out modernization that would have been more or less acceptable? Why was “everything that many generations had toiled to create razed to the ground” once more, why was the continuity principle neglected? Was this done in order to force the destitute and whimpering people stunned by “displaced mentality” to swallow “the concoction” offered to them? Once more the past was rejected with a great deal of shame. Once more social cohesion, the product of decades or even centuries of shared world perception and life activities was disrupted.
The constitutional crisis created by discontinued fundamental law added to the total feeling of uncertainty. Russia was slipping into a dynamically unfolding political crisis accompanied by ethnic conflicts and criminal wars amid the power’s absolute alienation from the piling domestic state and ethnic problems and its obvious unwillingness to resolve them.
In the context of the so-called sociopolitical and economic reforms the problem of Russia’s political structures and that of its national and ethnic components acquired additional urgency. Ethnic conflicts that came one after another mainly in the Northern and Southern Caucasus amply testified that problems developed into crises as soon as it became clear that no preventive measures would be taken. The Chechen war is the most vivid confirmation of this.
Indeed, from the very beginning of the radical political changes nothing was said, on a serious and professional level, about a new acceptable and stabilizing model of relationships among the federation subjects and the means to integrate all ethnic units. Isolation of the ethnic fringes that was obvious in Russia under czars and in Soviet times has manifested itself through the uncontrolled processes caused by the systemic crisis that affected the post-Soviet space. Strange as it may seem, in the past the fringe ethnoses profited, to a certain degree, from this isolation. On the one hand, the level of assimilation was low that preserved native tongues and native cultures at least among some of such ethnoses. On the other, this isolation was a negative factor that bred complete political ignorance and sociocultural backwardness acutely felt in the south, among North Caucasian ethnic groups. Today, continued isolation has made itself felt in the readiness with which some of these peoples bit the “political bait of sovereignty and independence” offered with flourish in the late 1980s.
The principle of social and political isolation of ethnic units proved dangerous for the state as well. The past and present of Russia, other European countries and the Middle East of the colonial and post-colonial period convincingly proved that isolation, and obvious or latent segregation to an even greater extent, intensify ethnic introspection. This treatment in principle excludes the level any of the ethnic entities need to be included in the state and social structure and will inevitably cause internal problems because ethnicity becomes an object of manipulations.
Under the Soviet system, too, certain shares of ethnic components were included in the sphere of state administration and society’s cultural life according to an ideologically determined and rigidly regimented and differentiating principle. This approach was present at all social levels, from top to bottom, it caused indignation among all ethnic groups mainly expressed by the intelligentsia and workers during the seemingly most tranquil years. The system’s stability was shaken by rallies, demonstrations and other forms of mass protest.
Isolationism made people feel their alienation and their mere formal belonging to the state. This was intensified by the Center’s selective policies that divided ethnoses into loyal and disloyal—the approach that pushed further the processes of ethnic self-organization and boosted ethnic self-awareness totally divorced from the state interests. One cannot but wonder what was this policy if not a result of extreme political ignorance and backwardness in governing a multinational state? In any case it was neither a wise nor a far-sighted policy.
The economic crisis of the late 1980s-early 1990s that experts had predicted intensified ethnic introspection and political mobilization in ethnic administrative units where the intellectual and political elite became involved in active political life and started producing ideas of cultural renaissance, autonomy, and independence. Ethnic political elite and leaders of political movements were not only struggling as efficiently as they could to retain power in the republics in their hands but were also opposing the Center (sometimes quite openly) to defend their political and economic interests, their rules and aims. The means and methods of this opposition were determined by the Center itself because it was the arena of the fiercest battle. The scope of the crisis in the Center determined the scope of the crisis across the country. The federation subjects just added variety to the general picture.
This shows that it was the general crisis and historically determined social and cultural processes inside ethnoses that contributed to acute ethnic processes in Russia’s society, politization of those ethnoses that had the status of state units and of ethnic groups that wanted cultural autonomy. A contemporary author has written: “A huge amount of uncertainties leading to stresses among all social and ethnic groups is the main psychological pitfall in the conditions of a general crisis. The legal chaos that reigns in the CIS countries creates a chaos in people’s minds—citizens do not know which laws are applied and which not.”2 As a result a considerable part of society was gripped by anxiety, the feeling that it was left unprotected. On the personal level alienation was strong. Uncontrolled migration (mainly to the central Russian cities) reached unprecedented dimensions. It was the migrants and refugees that became another problem group. The huge masses of people who left behind their social and cultural environments in a state of strong “short-term stress” or, worse still, under an impact of “distressing effects” of ethnic conflicts, wars, and natural calamities, find it hard to adapt themselves to new conditions.
Today, people from former Soviet republics, from the republics in the Russian Federation and even Russians in the non-Russian republics of the Russian Federation and the CIS live with the inferiority complex consciously or unconsciously associated with their ethnic affiliation. Much is required of them to overcome the negative external assessments and internal self-denigration. Members of ethnic groups find it hard to adapt to alien macroenvironment. As a result their psychological state worsens that frequently results in deviate behavior.
The prolonged crisis of the state, acute ethnic conflicts and wars cause permanent frustration among members of the ethnoses exposed to these negative phenomena. On the individual level people lose the meaning of their continued existence. This affects all sides of social life and is directly related to ethnic discourse.
Scholarly research and life experience have shown that the meanings of ethnic discourse in a normally functioning society are transformed into symbols. While determining the state of society’s vital interests they are spearheaded to the ethnos’ future in the same way as they may resurface from its archaic past in the contexts of acute crises. In this connection I can point to the Chechens and the Russian speakers in Chechnia who have been living in the conditions of war for more than seven years now. The same applies to the Ingushi who used to live in the Prigorodniy District of North Ossetia-Alania: driven from their homes in 1992 (many of which were destroyed or burned down) they are given no chance to come back. The Meskhetian Turks from Georgia who are now living in many places of the Russian Federation, people from Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and many other ethnic groups are still waiting for their problems to be resolved.
Obviously, a stable state system alleviates ethnic tension and quenches heated ethnic debates. In some cases even relatively stable societies can experience ethnic unrest caused by intensified ethnic awareness and the feeling of ethnic identity among repressed nations. In the Soviet Union the most cruel and massive repressions started in the 1930s and lasted till late 1940s. The ideology that demanded suppression of any manifestation of ethnic identity and that rejected any ethnic ideas and interests permeated all spheres of social, cultural and political life. Possessed by the desire to create an ideal society of the Soviet-people type the ideology of the Soviets was from time to time confronted with opposition of ethnic units in the form of rallies and demonstrations (in the 1970s-1980s these forms of protest took place in the Baltic republics, the Northern and Southern Caucasus, and Central Asia). “One can see behind a seemingly absurd thesis of Stalin’s about intensified class struggle as society will be moving toward socialism when one grasps the civilizational implication of the Bolshevik challenge: it was not merely class struggle against a ‘handful of exploiters,’ but a war against local civilizations, against those who represented ethnic mentalities (peasants and intellectuals) and against all people with acute cultural and historical memory. The peasant majority was diminished not only by usual ways—urbanization and industrialization—but also by culling the most suspicious human material in the GULAG machine.”3
It was at the turn of the 20th century that sociopolitical and scholarly thought turned to the problem of national and political arrangements of the peoples living in the Russian Empire and to political demands formulated by them. A. Sidorov had the following to say on that score: “It was several years before the ‘liberatory spring’ of 1904 that our inorodtsy (non-Russians) started talking, with increasing boldness, about wider rights for themselves and local autonomies. The Russian war failures made them even bolder. The Union of Emancipation that gathered for its congress in March 1905 decided to decline Dragomanov’s project of dividing Russia into 19 federal regions. Yet the congress recognized the need to ‘demand’ autonomy for Poland, Lithuania, the Southern Caucasus, and Little Russia [Ukraine.—Ed.]. The congresses of city and zemstvo activists that took place in September and November 1905 insisted on dividing Russia into autonomous regions.”4 Sidorov objected to a federal system in Russia because, he thought, the separatist sentiments among the non-Russians would finally destroy the state. He said that national and political freedom in a state could be completely ensured solely for the people that formed the state’s backbone. Others should be satisfied with as complete as possible range of civil rights, yet no national political rights should be granted to them because of the threat to the state’s integrity. Before the revolution attempts were made in Russia to integrate ethnic units into the empire. “One can point to the attempts to convert some of the non-Russian groups (the Kazan Tartars) to Christianity, to force Russification of others (the Poles) and to drive away still others (the Circassians). In czarist Russia, however, these transformations did not reach all its corners—they were applied to the least reliable areas. This policy was far from consistent. One should not marvel at it: in all its historical manifestations, oppression included, czarist Russia was mainly an organic structure. In fact, outside several sporadic state missionary efforts and Uvarov’s attempts to impose on the subjects an official surrogate of like-mindedness the empire mostly tried to spread its politics over the territory (to extend the sphere of the Russian at the expense of the non-Russian) rather than to win souls.”5 The state can offer a certain degree of security by mobilizing itself in the face of “impersonal and limitless” natural elements or a political enemy. The nations that are part of a state or are not its part are far from being impersonal: they have consciousness, self-awareness, memory, specific nature and spirit, and willpower. Whether these scholarly categories can materialize all by themselves or whether they are born by the ethnos are fundamentally important in the context of ethnic political movements. What is also important is an awareness that they exist.
Taking the U.S.S.R.’s state structure as an example with union and autonomous republics vested with (at least minimal) political powers one can say that it was neither relative political freedom of the ethnic subjects nor political freedoms that aggravated ethnic relations and the relationships between the ethnos and the state that destroyed the Soviet Union but an absence of politically correct and long-term strategies of the multinational state. Even if they existed they could not be realized.
Individual peoples were pushed away from state administration and deprived of a possibility to contribute to social development. This was another manifestation of ignoring ethnic specifics that existed in Russia at all times and took different forms. It should be said in all justice that we have acquired an experience of shaping a Soviet civil society though it was permeated with “the idea of its exceptional nature that profaned it.” Any normally organized human society has the right to a unique and specific nature of its state structure at least on the strength of being created by people. Ethnoses that in the past had neither state nor legislative structures and that had failed to develop educational, health and cultural institutions scored important civilizational victories.
The dominant totalitarian ideology shaped the minds of Soviet people and created “a certain psychological comfort for all strata deprived of their ethnic identities. It alleviated the feeling of not belonging and the feeling of national or ethnic inferiority among certain members of these strata. Not infrequently an awareness of their belonging to a great metaethnic power developed in the minds of these people into a syndrome of their own greatness and personification of the state’s historic achievements. In real life these syndromes and complexes betrayed themselves in arrogance and conceit with which such people treated all foreigners, especially citizens of small and average-sized states. Inside the country these feelings caused a sharp and resolute rejection of any ethnically tinged ideas. These and similar psychological attitudes and stereotypes were promoted by the state institutions’ ideological activity. They suppressed ethnic self-awareness by dissolving it in Soviet identity.”6 On the other hand, the feeling of belonging to a large and strong state not only bred patriotism but (and it was even more important) also offered certain protection. Today it is a “crime” to ask the Russian state for such protection.
No matter how much certain circles want this no signs of ethnicity melting away have yet betrayed themselves. What is more, any number of researchers point out that in Europe today ethnicity is intensifying and is creating serious problems even for outwardly prospering states. Neglect of those sociopolitical processes that are related to ethnic communities, the interests of ethnic units or the use of force to suppress such processes endanger stability in the state. An ethnos is a political subject and a political object, an equal member of a multinational state. It deserves a political and pre-political dialog—by this I mean that ethnopolitical problems should be foreseen and resolved before they reach an acute stage.
It is important to bear in mind that an ethnos (irrespective of its political status) while constructing its state and legal structures within a uniform large state body as its political entity strikes root in the form of ethnocultural and historically conditioned specific features such as territory, language, traditions, religion, economic methods, etc. These factors determine the ethnos’ specificity, world outlook, and identity. At the same time, ethnic strategies of the present and future, the emotional and motivational background of the ethnos’ existence that determine the extent to which it wants to integrate into the political system of a multinational state depend on whether these spiritual and material categories are satisfied or not. The problem of political power in an ethnos is intertwined with the problem of its culture’s functioning. To a great extent power is determined by tradition and culture while the latter should be (in an ideal case) an inalienable part of politics.
The ethnos’ prolonged existence in negative conditions that undermine the very foundations of its viability increases its crisis potential. It is hard to forecast and foresee continuity of sporadic phenomena and actions—in these conditions an ethnic movement can be called spontaneous only from the point of view of its political uncontrollability. It is quite often that such activity is objectively justified for inner reasons. I have already written that the processes connected with reviving ethnic identities are activated through retranslation of archaic semantic and symbolic contexts in the conditions of sociopolitical crises. This inevitably leads to actualization of rigid nationalistic attitudes and isolationism. These and other phenomena have convincingly betrayed themselves nearly in all ethnic and other conflicts in the former Soviet Union.
There are certain other factors that can greatly intensify the ethnopolitical processes’ destructive potential. These are: historical events in the course of which the state and the ethnos or individual peoples entered into relationships registered in the ethnos’ historical memory (colonial past, forced annexation); repeated territorial changes that destroyed the traditional (porous) borders of ethnoses; deportation of an entire ethnos that is branded as hostile to the state and repatriation of such ethnoses without a timely and widely announced legal form of rehabilitation and denunciation of the past actions as illegal. These factors also include: assimilation (acculturation by force, latent and ideologically substantiated acculturation); division of large ethnic groups and creation of new, smaller ethnic units or unification of ethnoses with different languages into one state-political structure; ignoring ethnopolitical demands and subsequent repressions; spontaneous modernization, globalization, etc.
Soviet nationalities policy made a wide use of these and similar political technologies. Time has shown that repressions became a boomerang: at the critical point of its flight an ideology of ethnopolitical confrontation with the existing regime was born. It is especially evident if the regime not only ignored the nature of ethnicity but also resorted to cruel repressions.
From this it follows that in crisis situations an ethnic group may clearly demonstrate its rejection of the state system the mechanisms of which start working not only on the individual but mostly on the collective level. The symbols of self-identity acquire additional importance. They start determining ethnic behavior, self-perception and an attitude to alien cultures. It is the collective nature of ethnoses that political parties cherish and exploit more than other factors. In his time Vladimir Bekhterev wrote about collective consciousness’ specifics: “Inspiration that captures popular masses during the times of hardships, and fanaticism that people demonstrate in certain periods of history are also psychic epidemics developing through persuasion by word or other means in the minds already aware of the importance of the current events. In this respect much depends on the tilled soil of people’s consciousness and the feelings and convictions planted in it. More often than not this is not enough to carry out signal events. A great deal depends on a leading force. The leaders of the popular masses should display their skill of channeling people’s feelings and thoughts.”7
In certain situations members of an ethnic community tied together by common historical memory and value orientations behave similarly. This makes it possible not only to forecast events and actions but also to manipulate with this entity so that to cause mass actions to achieve certain aims. The media that are working with a great scope, are using the subtlest methods and are enjoying excellent material basis help manipulate mass consciousness. When needed the press is playing according to this or that “public partitura.” Certain psychotherapeutic methods and strategies have become popular not only in the medical profession but among the most influential media.8 The same partitura is responsible for the practice of branding “ethnic individuals”—this practice intensifies and weakens according to current needs. It employs ethnic stereotypes and cultural symbols to manipulate national-ethnic consciousness. The stereotypes and symbols operate on the level of individual subconsciousness; they stir up feelings and emotions that fan ethnic repulsion and deepen the processes of destabilization across the country.
At all times any society that revives its ethnicity does this by reviving its cultural symbols. Public and political elites use them as manipulation instruments. The more specific the political aim and the mightier its material power the more cruel manipulation technologies are used to which the media have an unhampered access.
It should be said that as social engineers politicians and elites are not able to wipe off at will the imprints of the past (the archetypes of ethnic consciousness that are a symbolic formula that functions in the space not covered by conscious ideas or where they are in principle impossible). This explains why the results of the use of the ethnocultural factors for political means cannot be infallibly predicted.
According to the constructivist theory of ethnicity an ethnos is, probably, a reality created for political purposes. It is not a product of constructivist activities of politicians and national leaders—they are merely more or less successful players on the ethnocultural field. The so-called “constructs” of ethnic consciousness are found in people’s minds and souls. Thinking with the help of “constructs” of ethnic consciousness is as easy as breathing: they are omnipresent and permeate the entire ethnocultural space. What is really important is to answer the question: Who, why, in which historical situations and under which circumstances help the outlived archaic elements of culture revive spontaneously? Being activated these elements devalue the knowledge, values, and norms already obtained by the nation.
The symbolic constructs are mainly manifested in the spiritual, material and other cultural texts: beliefs, myths, folklore, language, customs, rites, religion, written language, art, diet, economic and other activities. The territory and the language are two most important conditions of an emergence and continued existence of an ethnos and the symbol-creating conditions.
The semantic content and the symbolic form of an ethnocultural text are determined by such systemic qualities of ethnic awareness as the priority trends of shaping meanings and modeling present and future. In fact, the images and symbols of identity are reproduced and interpreted with an aim of consolidating the ethnos at a higher level. Ethnic consciousness can be described as a complex sociopsychological phenomenon characterized by common spiritual image and psychological make-up, which reflect common historical experience and economic activity, and specific territorial features. Centralization of the state may suffer if this phenomenon is underestimated. “Political dimensions of ethnic feelings are an important phenomenon in the history of the 19th and 20th centuries. Nationalism was underestimated—this was where both Western liberal thought and Marxism were wrong.”9
Ethnic consciousness shapes ethnic stereotypes that include either positive or negative features of an ethnos’ social and cultural environment. When developed into symbols such stereotypes can directly influence ideas and behavioral strategies of members of this or that ethnos. For example, an outcome of negotiations on a settlement of an ethnic conflict may depend on the presence of a certain individual associated with negative events in an ethnos’ past or present. Such figure or a political camp that by its unjust or openly cruel decisions about an ethnic group or ethnos causes mistrust may be regarded as a carrier of a verbal or any other symbolic meaning. On the level of perception (the symbolic image) a set of stereotypes is formed by association with certain events and widely known political clichés. Such stereotypes can influence the course of talks. Not only politicians may become symbols but also the place where the talks are going on, new figures at the negotiation table, synchronization of the talks with events of state importance, etc. Functionally ethnic symbols are designed to awaken the members of an ethnos to their moral, psychological and cultural unity. As a result politically tinged stereotypes are formed and become quickly accepted. In such cases the symbol is associated with similar experiences of the past rooted in the processes of identification. The past and future and the past and present are tied together by ethnic symbols. This strengthens ethnoses’ chronological and typological continuity. Ethnic symbols add vitality to the most important elements of ethnic consciousness. They are the strongest bonds because they belong to tradition and are designed to strengthen ethnic self-identity and self-orientation. Some symbols are oriented outside ethnoses and represent them—the function that becomes especially important when communication ties with other ethnoses and other cultures are activated. This should be taken into account at talks conducted in the context of ethnic tension, a multinational state should not neglect this either.
Ethnic symbols are reproduced in a continuous and independent process. Ethnic consciousness creates a limited number of symbols designed for prognosticated actualization and (depending on historical context) for creating new criteria and meanings of the ethnos’ future self-identification. Old symbols (that lost their importance and significance for expressing priority meanings and aims of an ethnos’ existence) can be revived in definite sociopolitical contexts. Old symbols acquire new content. In this way their role in justification of meaningful and axiological hierarchies of an ethnos is renewed. Selective interpretation of such symbols is directly related to ethnic crises caused by wars, protracted conflicts that cause loss of life, modernization, reforms, and natural and social calamities. A nation plunged into mass frustration by these events overcomes destructive impacts of the environment and turns to the already shelved archaic meanings and symbols, sociocultural institutions, norms and values, which frequently leads to a deep-cutting crisis of the ethnos’ identity. If these complicated processes regularly resurface in the history of an ethnos, then the archaic is consistently cutting deeper and deeper into its sociocultural soil. The regulatory and controlling intra-ethnic relations of the symbol’s function and the hierarchy of axiological meanings and ideas the ethnos developed throughout its history are violated. The symbols not only create foundations of national identity, they are not only connected with the growth of national dignity—they create new realities, new meaningful contexts that later take on an objective form of morality, magic, religion, and art.
In this way, re-animated ethnic symbols of the past are associated with an ethnos’ new social existence and new social identity. While being semantically homogenous the ethnic symbols reflect the ethnos’ existence in a unity of its world perception and world sensation that social and political calamities overturn.
The changes in the meaning of existence of ethnic units are mediated by the changes in the system of ethnic symbols reflected in and registered by artistic and cultural tradition. In everything it does the ethnos begins to guide itself by those semantic and symbolic complexes that have nothing in common with the legal canons of contemporary life of a state. The return of ethnic consciousness to archaic norms and meanings associated with ancient traditional symbolic complexes is perceived on the level of an ethnos as a revival of national spirit and national statehood. This takes on a form of massive social and psychological attitudes that can hardly be defeated. This revival of archaic symbols connected with the revival of the earliest, pre-civilizational meanings of being brings in certain “barbarization” of society, increased aggression, isolationism, nationalism, etc. In these conditions only the efforts designed to gradually create a new type of sociocultural identity can help the archaic semantic-symbolic complexes find their place in an ethnos’ axiological hierarchy. Therefore, what is necessary is purposeful correction of the semantic and symbolic complexes of any ethnos with due account of its own interests and those of the entire society.
Ethnoses that on the level of collective consciousness were led to spontaneous re-assessment and re-evaluation of its existence, which is a manifestation of the crisis of its structuralizing system, rebel and are stirred to action.
1 K. Muzdybaev, “Perezhivanie vremeni v period krizisov,” Psikhologicheskiy zhurnal, Vol. 21, No. 4, Moscow, 2000, p. 9.
2 V.G. Babakov, Krizisnye etnosy, Moscow, 1993, p. 144.
3 S. Panarin, Iskushenie globalizmom, Moscow, 2000, p. 32.
4 A.A. Sidorov, Inorodcheskiy vopros i idea federalizma v Rossii, Moscow, 2000, p. 275.
5 S. Panarin, “Natsionalizm v SNG: mirovozzrencheskie istoki,” Svobodnaia mysl, No. 5, 1999, p. 33.
6 V.G. Babakov, op. cit., p. 152.
7 V.M. Bekhterev, Vnushenie i ego rol’ v obshchestvennoi zhizni, St. Petersburg, 2001, pp. 128, 146.
8 See: D.L. Spivak, Izmenennye sostoiania massovogo soznania, Gart-Kursiv Publishers, the Leningr. Galerea Foundation, Moscow, 1996.
9 E. Gellner, Ot rodstva k etnichnosti, Moscow, 1997, p. 95.