POLITICAL MYTHS IN THE SYMBOLIC SPACE OF RUSSIAN ELITES: FEDERAL AND REGIONAL ASPECTS (A NORTH CAUCASIAN CASE STUDY)
Ali SALGIRIEV, Maret BETILMERZAEVA, Magomed-Emi SHAMSUEV, Abbaz OSMAEV
Ali Salgiriev, Ph.D. (Political Science), Academic Secretary, Kh.I. Ibragimov Interdisciplinary Scientific Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences; Leading Research Associate, Sector of Philosophy and Sociology, Institute of Humanitarian Studies, Academy of Sciences of the Chechen Republic (Grozny, Russian Federation)
Maret Betilmerzaeva, D.Sc. (Philos.), Professor, Department of Philosophy, Political Science and Sociology, Chechen State Pedagogical University; Professor, Department of Philosophy, Chechen State University; Chief Research Associate, Sector of Ethnology, Institute of Humanitarian Studies, Academy of Sciences of the Chechen Republic (Grozny, Russian Federation)
Magomed-Emi Shamsuev, Ph.D. (Political Science), Leading Research Associate, Sector of Philosophy and Sociology, Institute of Humanitarian Studies, Academy of Sciences of the Chechen Republic; Senior Research Associate, Laboratory for the Studies of Social, Political, Legal and Spiritual Processes, Department of Humanitarian Studies, Kh.I. Ibragimov Interdisciplinary Scientific Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences (Grozny, Russian Federation)
Abbaz Osmaev, D.Sc. (Hist.), Professor, Department of Ancient and Medieval History, Chechen State University, Leading Research Associate, Laboratory of Historical and Ethnological Studies, Kh.I. Ibragimov Interdisciplinary Scientific Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences (Grozny, Russian Federation)
The political and administrative elites acting amid social, political and economic changes and facing the rising conflict potential in their countries have no choice but to tap into the full potential of symbolic politics as an important instrument of power. Indeed, their continued presence in the corridors of power depends, to a great extent, on their ability to influence public opinion; this is doubly important during election campaigns. In order to succeed, the elites have to use symbolic interactions and political myths as the most efficient instrument of brainwashing. The authors have described the technologies and practices used to construct functional political myths.
The social and cultural crisis into which the country had slipped in the first post-Soviet years, economic problems, seats of ethnopolitical conflicts made the use of barely verified information practically inevitable. The authors have analyzed the sources, means and instruments used to form and adjust public opinion. In democratic countries political systems are formed by and rely on independent media, balanced editorial policies and resolute rejection of unfounded or harmful information by the public. We live in “real virtuality” (Manuel Castells): real politics is still burdened by the Soviet heritage of myths firmly rooted in people’s minds and people’s readiness to accept utopian ideas.
The elites, meanwhile, are building up conspiracy theories, searching for external and internal enemies, offering simplified and irrational explanations of social and political processes unfolding in the country. New myths are created and promoted amid the country’s mounting isolation, multiplying sanctions and economic problems.
The authors have identified the sources of an obvious mythologization of public space as the alienation of citizens from real politics and their inertia, as well as the specifics of the binary structure of consciousness that is rooted in the past. In their minds, people separate politics from the economy, and are more concerned about the country’s greatness and might than about the standards of living. No wonder that the citizens of Russia are proud of the country’s armed forces, space exploration, heroic history and sport achievements and are pushing mundane issues aside. As could be expected, political elites are associated with the country’s might, its international status, etc.
Ideological preferences and adherence to different schools produced several debatable opinions about the role of the political elites. So far, it is more or less commonly believed that they play a negative or even a destructive role. To arrive at an unbiased conclusion, we have analyzed their resource base, algorithms of their activities, the political and governing functions and related strategies.
We have concluded the article with the recommendations on lowering the level of mythologization of public consciousness by implementing at least some elements of civil society.