Koposov: on Russia’s national interests

6 04 2022

One of the questions we will all have to struggle with, in the near term future, is how to reintegrate Russia back into the world community once all of this is over. (I say that in full recognition that “the world community” is very much a work in progress, and still needs a great deal of work before it feels like an integrated and inclusive place.)

Historian Nikolay Koposov’s “Nobody Knows What Russians Want, Not Even Russians Themselves” helps us think about that. It also raises basic questions about the importance of democracy — in the sense of some way of representing people’s real, legitimate, and considered interests — in any future that could possibly accommodate and include Russia. This is, of course, an issue that underlies the future of the world community, which is why it will require serious thinking about what democracy means and what forms it can take. But Koposov’s effort here is a starting point. He writes:

Having subjectivity here means being free to make rational and responsible decisions. The acquisition and possession of subjectivity entail several things. First, the group must have access to relatively reliable information. Second, it should be able to openly discuss its situation, formulate various action plans, and promote them in the public space. And thirdly, it must have agreed-upon decision-making mechanisms to determine which plan is the best.

None of these exists in Putin’s Russia.

[. . .]

Perhaps the time will come when Russia can take its subjectivity back from Putin and stop this shameful war. But until then, Russia has no subjectivity and no legitimate interests.


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