Xi and Putin’s nationalisms – 06/25/2021 – Jaime Spitzcovsky

About a week apart, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping lead ceremonies shaped by nationalism to guide their political plans. The Russian president recalled on the 22 last the 80th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, while next Thursday (1st) the Chinese leader will celebrate the centenary of the Communist Party.

Xi and Putin lead cross projects, for example, in the exaltation of historic moments of prestige in their countries. One of the differences, however, is the chronological horizon, which is more recent from the Kremlin’s point of view.

From his assumption of the presidency in 2000, Putin gave himself a clear mission, to accompany him until today: to recover the power of the Kremlin, eroded by the unstoppable decadence of the Mikhail Gorbachev era (1985-91 ) and Boris Yeltsin (1992-99).

Signs of the collapse of the Soviet dictatorship were already appearing under the reign of Leonid Brezhnev (1964-82), known as “zastoi” (stagnation, in Russian). But proof of this came in Gorbachovist perestroika, when the superpower responsible for sending the first man into space in 1961 plunged into its biggest economic crisis since World War II.

Yeltsin’s mercurial behavior aggravated the political, economic and social crises. Moscow has suffered from the dehydration of its world status. Putin, at the head of sectors above all of the security apparatus (ex KGB, police, armed forces), seizes power, stops the decline and presents himself as a modern-day czar in the process of regaining power from the Kremlin .

As an ideological ingredient, Putin resorts to nationalism. He seeks to avoid debates between anti-communists and nostalgic for the Soviet era. And we find in the resistance and the victory over Nazism elements of national unification, overcoming ideological differences, in the struggle against the external enemy.

In earlier calendars, ceremonies commemorating the Great Patriotic War, as the Russians refer to the conflict with Hitlerism, rivaled dates infuriated by the Soviets, such as May 1. Now Putin is focusing his efforts on an official celebration at times linked to a war tragedy responsible for the deaths of around 27 million Soviets, including military personnel and civilians.

While Putin’s nationalism relies heavily on the memory of victory over Nazi barbarism, Xi Jinping’s rhetoric relies on the idea of ​​reclaiming the power status lost by China in the 19th and 20th centuries of the Party. Chinese Communist, next week.

During the Maoist era, the CP touted a so-called “proletarian paradise on Earth”, responsible for tragic results, with waves of hunger, violent repression and international isolation. After the death of Mao Tse-tung in 1976, the party, under the baton of Deng Xiaoping, abandoned orthodoxy and embraced pragmatism.

Thus began the Chinese take-off, with the injection of a market economy into the political universe ironically controlled by the CP. The mandarins of the party are also reviewing the historical mission of the organization: instead of creating the “proletarian paradise”, restore the status of power to China, often associated with the Asian giant before the 19th century.

In the coming days, Xi will not celebrate the proletarian achievements projected at the first meeting of the PC in 1921. The founders of the party did not imagine a work, a hundred years later, marked by nationalism and the resumption of economic dynamism and of the status of power before passing by. of the Chinese scene.

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