Does Russia Really Need “Universal” Values?

The adoption of amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation opens a new page in the history of the Russian state. Changes aimed at protecting basic family values, historical truth, strengthening spiritual and moral education, supporting and protecting culture by the state as a unique heritage of the multi-ethnic Russian nation, and strengthening the foundations of the social state are an important event that is of great importance for determining the goals and further ways of development of our country.

It is precisely spiritual and moral values ​that underlie a worldview, serve as a guide to life, mutual understanding of people, and are the basis for the formation of stereotypes and models of human behaviour in society.

Interest in the question of what values are needed usually arises when society and the state are faced with the question of choosing paths of further development.

In a special way, the topic of values was raised in the conditions of a wide discussion about amendments to the Basic Law of the country and in the year of the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory. The West responded to these events by intensifying information and propaganda campaigns aimed at falsifying world and domestic history, diminishing the value of the Victory, and striking another blow to the system of traditional Russian spiritual and moral values.

Despite the tremendous efforts of overseas “partners” in scrapping the value system formed by previous generations in Russia, it has retained its main qualitative characteristics.

A generalised idea of ​the totality of traditional Russian spiritual and moral values​ is extremely concise, but far from exhaustive, and is enshrined in the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation. In particular, it includes the priority of the spiritual over the material, the protection of human life, human rights and freedoms, the family, creative work, service to the Motherland, norms and morals, humanism, charity, justice, mutual assistance, collectivism, the historical unity of the peoples of Russia, and the continuity of the history of our Motherland.

An equally important list of spiritual and moral values ​is presented in the Strategy for the Development of Education in the Russian Federation for the period up to 2025. It is based on values ​such as humanity, justice, honour, conscience, will, personal dignity, faith in good, and the desire to fulfil a moral duty to oneself, one’s family, and one’s Motherland.

The system of traditional Russian values, which has been developing for centuries, acts as the spiritual and moral foundation of our society. This system was at the heart of the world-historical victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. It is this foundation that allows us to preserve and strengthen sovereignty, build the future, despite all the difficulties and contradictions of historical development. Our country has literally suffered through its values, and now the main task of future generations is to preserve and multiply them.

The values of our multi-ethnic, multi-religious society must be protected from the aggressive promotion of neoliberal values, which in many ways contradict the very essence of our world understanding and are actively implanted by our geopolitical opponents in the fight for influence on the development of civilisation and their dominance in the world.

We see that they continue to seek to destroy the common home of the multi-ethnic family of Russian peoples, and to belittle the value of traditional spiritual and moral guidelines as the basis of cultural, spiritual, political, and, ultimately, state sovereignty.

Undoubtedly, the basic values as ideal goals and qualities of society are largely the same for most peoples. There is no one who does not advocate for justice, security, or well-being.

We usually refer to values that are not typical of our Russian society and that are dominant in foreign culture as “Western values”.

In addition, many representatives of the older and middle generation are familiar with the concept that was widely used during the so-called “perestroika” and during the formation of the new Russia – “universal values”.

Without denying the existence of values common to mankind, I emphasise that at that time the implementation of the “concept of universal human values”, on the one hand, made the western world, which was previously “closed” for the majority of the population of our country, closer and more understandable, and on the other hand, it allowed to promote and moral attitudes that do not always coincide with traditional domestic values.

“Western” values, which in recent decades have been increasingly interpreted as “universal”, since they are enshrined in official documents of the European Union, have become a common stamp.

In order to get an idea of their content and meaning, it is important to look at the history of their interpretation in official documents of the European Union.

Thus, the preamble of the Treaty on the European Union (Maastricht, February 7th, 1992) speaks about “cultural, religious, and humanitarian heritage of Europe on the basis of which universal values of indestructible and inalienable human rights, freedoms, democracies, equality, and the rule of law were created”. The Treaty enshrines the statement that “the European Union is based on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common in a society where diversity of opinion, tolerance, justice, and solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”

It should be noted that some European values, such as the eight-hour working day, equality between women and men, and women’s suffrage, appeared only thanks to the events of 1917 in Russia. However, women received equality in voting rights, for example, in France, only in 1944, in Switzerland – in 1971, and in Portugal – only in 1974.

Unfortunately, real life shows that the impressive-sounding official provisions on “universal” values today are in many respects only a declaration, since the adoption of these norms in the western world has rapidly led to the transition to a neoliberal model of development.

In the west, such basic concepts as family, mother and father, man and woman were deliberately blurred. Artificially imposed norms such as “parent 1” and “parent 2” instead formed the basis for a civilisational conflict in western European society itself due to their unnatural nature from a purely biological point of view.

Moreover, these norms contradict the most fundamental essence of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and other religions and are simply hostile to them.

In the social sphere, neoliberalism inculcates individualism, egoism, the cult of pleasure, unrestrained consumption, and absolutises the freedom of any self-expression. However, in the west itself, not everyone supports such anti-values.

There are many examples. Just remember the mass protests in France that were held against the legalisation of same-sex marriage in January 2013. Back then more than 300,000 people took to the streets of Paris. The vote in the National Assembly of France that was held to consider the bill “Marriage for all”, divided the Parliament almost in half (out of the 565 who voted, 225 parliamentarians were against the adoption of the law). Given the level of polarisation of French society in those days, the question is whether these values are actually “universal”, or are they still artificially imposed by someone?

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly exposed all the negative consequences of inculcating new western values, especially the deepening disunity, indifference, and confusion in the face of impending danger.

All this is happening against the background of another process, which is simply taboo to talk about in the west: the rapid destruction of the middle class, which was precisely the conservative majority that ensured the preservation of traditional values.

The catalyst for this phenomenon was the geopolitical catastrophe associated with the collapse of the USSR, since the elimination of the main ideological opponent completely freed the hands of the Western neoliberal elite. The need to solve the ideological task that was previously assigned to the middle class has disappeared, because with the changes in our country, any demonstration of the “advantages” of the western way of life has lost its meaning.

The destruction of the middle class, along with the aggravation of the migration situation, in turn, stimulated the revival of cave nationalism, which is actually encouraged by the United States and the leading countries of “united” Europe, such as in Ukraine.

Right-wing and nationalist parties are being nurtured in Europe itself. Among other things, new Western values gave rise to torture in prisons in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, and became an incentive to refuse to serve in the army and protect one’s Motherland. The resolute refusal of individual countries to accept these values often leads to sanctions against entire nations. The entire previous structure of traditional western values has undergone such profound changes that the range of its current “universal” norms actually has nothing in common with the former, more familiar to us system of values of European civilisation.

It is no longer about replacing some values with others. We should talk about the emergence of a new ideological system that ultimately aims to destroy any traditional religious and spiritual-moral values as the fundamental basis for the cultural and political sovereignty of countries and nations.

New western values have turned into the imposition of an alien worldview on the planet. The ideologues of the west put whole countries and nations before a choice – either you accept “universal values”, or your values will be wrong and immoral.

Thus, any attempts to standardise Russian or other values under the officially accepted “universal” ones are a manifestation of socio-cultural aggression aimed at destroying traditional value systems in a particular state.

In the conditions of the digitalisation of modern society, against the background of the degradation of the system of international relations and international security, the collective West seeks to introduce neoliberal dogmas into the minds of Russian citizens and our compatriots around the world, attacking not only traditional Russian spiritual and moral values, but also veritable, truly common values for humanity, undermining the foundations of states. At the same time, ideological wordings such as “conflict of civilisations” are actively used.

The impact of these norms on the international security system has been equally devastating. Replacing international norms with the law of the strong, with fire and sword, imposing “freedom and democracy” where they cannot exist in such a western sense, by definition, due to historical, religious, ethnological, and other reasons, has already led to the tragedy of Iraq, Syria, and Libya. A separate shameful page of history for all NATO countries was and will always remain the barbaric bombing of Yugoslavia.

An offensive is being conducted on “all fronts” of this “hybrid” war. The direction of the main blow was chosen to blur the traditions of various peoples that have developed over the centuries, their language, faith and historical memory of generations. Such norms and values cannot be accepted by the multi-ethnic Russian nation under any circumstances.

Against this background, the question of what Russia offers the world in return is very important.

In contrast to the West, Russia, in fact, offers a new civilizational choice, the content of which includes equality, justice, non-interference in internal affairs, and the absence of a mentoring tone and any preconditions for mutually beneficial cooperation.

Russia proposes that national sovereignty, including cultural and spiritual and moral sovereignty, be elevated to the status of the greatest value and the basis for the subsequent construction of human civilisation. There is no doubt that the number of followers of such a choice in the world will grow, creating more and more favourable conditions for the development and prosperity of different countries and nations.


Nikolay Patrushev (Rossiyskaya Gazeta)

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