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Historian Richard Pipes: Russians see themselves surrounded by enemies


Nov 17, 2009
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Russia, Moscow
Political Leaning
In the interview for RIA Novosti Richard Pipes explained his views on the influence of history and geography on the Russian political system.

"Russia has traditionally been ruled autocratically - by a regime which has kept the population out of the political process. The majority of Russians seem to like this kind of a political system."

and argued this thesis by following:

First of all, Russia is the world's most spacious country with the world's longest borderline. This has at least two political consequences: such a vast domain requires a centralized government rather than one based on local authority and its vastness encourages Russians to think they are endowed by nature with a right to claim status as a world power (velikaia derzhava) which, too, requires strong central authority.

The second factor, he points out, is that the Mongol conquest of Russia for nearly two and a half centuries has inculcated in Russians an Oriental political mindset according to which the sovereign has absolute power and not only rules the country but owns it. This legacy has prevented the emergence of strong traditions of private property, law and civil rights in Russia which democracies require.

He also emphasizes the role of the Orthodox church, which partly to repress heresies and partly to protect its vast land holdings, has since the early sixteenth century advocated the idea of absolute monarchy.

And the last one, according to the polls, Russians see themselves surrounded by enemies

Read full version Russians think that they live on a vast territory surrounded by enemies | Opinions | RIA Novosti
Such paranoia is the result of too many centuries being ruled by autocratic monarchs and genocidal left wingers and many foreign invasions.
Switzerland has the right idea, stay neutral and sock away money from everyone else, while not letting themselves getting involved in any military conflicts. I have always, always been impressed by that.
The solution to the paranoia resulting from having the worlds largest borderline is to to expand said borderline.
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