Putin model, by Mattia Bagnoli | Culture, ATLAS

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the Dostoevsky case that erupted some time ago in the pond in our local debate concerns its grotesque counterproductive nature. Not only, and perhaps not in the first place, because of a character, so to speak metaphysical (the universal value of Crime and punishment) or of much more prosaic common sense (the idea of ​​a Dostoevsky / Shchevchenko debate, Taras, not Andri, in the wake of an invasion triggered by Putin is at least insane), but because it ignores the fact that. a society like Russia, characterized by a far from peaceful relationship between political power and public debate (which also incredible dictuexists), it is precisely in the literature and in the description that the latter offers both of society and of the individuals that it constitutes that it is possible to find the space where one can go in search of analyzes and anamnesis of anthropological models and structural problems which time has actually given a new style, but whose substance to an ominous remarkable extent is in fact unchanged.

In it Burmistrone of the stories that make up Memories of a hunterIvan Turgenev paints the gruesome portrait of a middle-aged landowner (a deformed caricature, and in the sixteenth of Evgeny Onegin) who, although speaking impeccable French, turns out to be an impeccable host and dresses his servants and himself , in the latest English way, it embodies the most consistent – and despicable – product of a slave-holding sociopolitical system that actually supports, by protecting them, the most sadistic attitudes under the guise of a paternalism as sugary as that. is hypocritical.

Nothing of the subtitle – which then actually is that message – about this shocking masterpiece of style and diplomacy (a fierce social and anthropological critique in disguise, given the prevailing censorship at the time, on the long wave, it should be noted, of the disaster in Crimea – the one in the middle of the nineteenth century -, from a harmless sketch naturalistic) it is clear whether it is (only) treated as a literary work: Turgenev, or Dostoevsky, as a classic.

To understand a country, especially a country with Russia’s history, where it comes from, at what time its journey is, and where it could go, to keep quiet about the elaboration of, however urgent, necessary, if not sacred, interventions may be . in his respect from the outsideit is obligatory to know him whether you like it or not.

It is therefore the latest Putin model by Mattia B. Bagnoli, Ansa correspondent from Moscow, is a graduate, along with The border by Erika Fatland and a few others, a precious contemporary breviary for those who in various ways feel uncomfortable with an increasingly aggressive rhetoric towards Russia (and Russia towards the rest of the world), while at the same time wanting to understand something more of a country that you are with need to to be reckoned with, especially for those who are fortunate enough to live in Europe, and who may not have the time, way, or resources to access even a great deal of academic literature on the subject.

Incidentally, the fact that the prestigious publisher Beck has commissioned and published at affordable prices, a story about Russia in two volumes totaling over three thousand pages by one of the most authoritative specialists in the world, says something about the relevance of Germany’s bilateral relations, which should seem obvious given the past, and of the state of cultural policy in other contexts which are no less to deal with with Russia, but where such initiatives are not even conceivable.

Clearly inspired, by the author’s own admission, by some of the most influential people in new journalism (Gay Talese above all), simultaneous chronicle of a life experience, study, italics and narrative non-fictionBagnoli’s volume presents the reader with an exhaustive picture of a political regime in some time in the midst of a very difficult transition process, which, however, has become (or on the basis of the influences that come precisely from the context in which it was intended to form, difficult to say, it has become) an anthropological model, geopolitical doctrine, vision of the world, and that it must be expected that it will have a much longer life than its founder.

Of course, the unknown factor in the Ukrainian disaster (with the retrospective advantage of reading the chapter on the Belarusian crisis, pp. 285-300, and, incidentally, far from resolved, even if it has disappeared from radara sadly obvious parable) and its short- and long-term developments, which are difficult to predict, especially on the domestic front, cast an ominous shadow on the fate of the internal stability that the former KGB agent has been stationed in Leipzig from the very beginning. bet everything but to hurry to bind the destinies, if not Putin of Putinism – which, Bagnoli shows well, are homologous entities, but does not identical – to the particular military operation would be short-term.

Far more crucial is the economic game, that is, the country’s structural dependence on a significant predatory model linked to the extraction of raw materials, which risks making it a branch of external actors and often competitors (especially China) with serious consequences, given the air in Beijing, not only for Russia itself but also for many of its opponents.

This is because it is precisely a wise dose of material benefits, ideology – far from simple imposition from above, but strongly rooted in a cultural heritage whose knowledge should be an imperative for any European – and (increasingly virulent) oppression that we owes consensus, far from blunt, on the historical bloc on which the power of Putin and his circle rests, within which, incidentally – the author’s bitter observation, and which should be taken very seriously – Vladimir Vladimirovič is not even the worst.

In short, in a formula, the media’s big drum about Naval’nij and his (very brave) collaborators and activists, beginning with the stoic Julija Naval’naja, says much more about the heretical dreams of the West than it reveals about a part, majority, even in Moscow and Petersburg, by Russian society.

Perhaps the most obvious value of Bagnoli’s essay, however, is the breadth of the breath. Sensitive, conscientious and undoubtedly cultivated chronicler (rare newspaper), the author spoke to a lot of people, from the highest rated geopolitical analysts to the taxi drivers in Simferopol, and their voices all appear, some commented, others not, on the pages of this captivating logbook, returning to a not insignificant extent, and in very bright colors, a country’s infinite kaleidoscope, it does not hurt to remember it, which extends through eleven time zones and which includes over two hundred nationalities recognized. Bagnoli has also traveled: from the Jamal Peninsula, the cradle of a titanic liquefied gas extraction plant, to Čerskij, where the Zimov family has dedicated themselves to rebuilding the Pleistocene ecosystem in an experiment, albeit on a very small scale, so far crowned by a surprising (and emblematic) success in curbing a phenomenon, the melting of permafrost, which is said too little about, but which could represent the real point of no return for the Anthropocene, up to Syria, in the center of the power strategy of the new Putin and his circle. Alone the surrealistic concert led by Sergei Roldugin at the Palmyra Theater, 15 km from the ISIS stations (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), is worth the book’s award.

Among Dugin’s Eurasian delusions (and the increasingly subjective alliance with Xi Jinping), the incestuous relations between the neo-fascist International in Europe – and not only – with the Kremlin gang, the stifling clientelism (among the most symptomatic legacy of a revived cult of Stalin ), an increasingly clear authoritarian turn and the very unconstructive image of pacification, through satrap, in Chechnya and the Caucasus, the experience of the pandemic, as experienced by Moscow and with insurance healthcare in its pocket, it is used by Bagnoli to remind its audience of , that Russia, whether it likes it or not, is not a dystopian hell, but a country with a thousand-year history, moreover closely connected with the other-than-Western self (whatever the term means), that in the light of evolution, and sometimes involution, of the latter, it, though it often would, may not be called corresponsible; which sometimes means choirperpetrator.

“What is happening in Russia – concludes the author (p. 432) – resonates in the world”.

One of many reasons not to just read more Dostoevsky, instead of censoring it, but also, perhaps above all, to read more from Dostoevsky. Gogol “(a random name) was Ukrainian – like Trotsky – Larisa Rejsner from Poland. Pushkin, along with Lermontov and Tolstoy, wrote basic pages about the Caucasus and Soviet literature teeming with ethnic non-Russian personalities (russkie) but therefore not alien to that world (rossjane). In a time of flashback of the most gruesome nationalism, even in Russia, certainly not only there, undoubtedly a note healthy.

Mattia B. Bagnoli, Putin model. I’m traveling to a country we would do well to knowVarese, People, 2021, pp. 438


Photo: Vladimir Putin (October 1, 2019). Credit: Asatur Yesayants / Shutterstock.com

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