Why Russia Feels So Isolated and Hostile

Why Russia Feels So Isolated and Hostile

People who are surprised by certain recurrences in Russian history apparently are not aware that popular culture changes very slowly, if at all. U.S. history is a good example. The U.S. emancipated itself from Britain 250 years ago, forming a republic intended to be unique. Yet even today, our political and legal culture is thoroughly imbued with concepts and values inherited from Britain.


Russians are no different, carrying in their minds and hearts the fears and hopes inherited from their ancestors. The most ambitious and cruel attempt undertaken in human history to create a new "Soviet man" proved a dismal failure. When I read public opinion polls conducted in post-Soviet Russia, I am struck by how many of the opinions expressed resemble those of tsarist Russia.


Take, for example, the political system. Russians mistrust democracy because they identify it with chaos and crime. When asked what they value more — security or freedom — they overwhelmingly opt for security, apparently unaware that the two are not incompatible.


They want their government to be strong to protect them from foreign and domestic enemies, most of which are imaginary. They also have believed for centuries that Russia has a right to be a superpower, feared rather than respected.



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