Russia's relationship with its neighbours and with the West has worsened dramatically in recent years. Under Vladimir Putin's leadership, the country has annexed Crimea, begun a war in Eastern Ukraine, used chemical weapons on the streets of the UK and created an army of Internet trolls to meddle in the US presidential elections. How should we understand this apparent relapse into aggressive imperialism and militarism?
In this book, Sergei Medvedev argues that this new wave of Russian nationalism is the result of mentalities that have long been embedded within the Russian psyche. Whereas in the West, the turbulent social changes of the 1960s and a rising awareness of the legacy of colonialism have modernized attitudes, Russia has been stymied by an enduring sense of superiority over its neighbours alongside a painful nostalgia for empire. It is this infantilized and irrational worldview that Putin and others have exploited, as seen most clearly in Russia's recent foreign policy decisions, including the annexation of Crimea.
This sharp and insightful book, full of irony and humour, shows how the archaic forces of imperial revanchism have been brought back to life, shaking Russian society and threatening the outside world. It will be of great interest to anyone trying to understand the forces shaping Russian politics and society today.
Country of Publication:
Series: New Russian Thought
01 November 2019
Professional and scholarly
Preface to the English Edition Part One: THE WAR FOR SPACE Sovereign Territory...with No Roads The Smoke of the Fatherland Sacred Ice Crimea as a Territory of the Subconscious Drum Solo Jihad in Donetsk Global Biryulyovo Seduced by Geopolitics Profession: Invader Noughts and Crosses The War with Pokemon Kremlin Firewall A Sovereignty Full of Holes Part Two: THE WAR FOR SYMBOLS The State's Game Reserve The Elite Avenue...to Death An Ode to Shuvalov's Dogs Missile Mania Tank Invasion Purveyors of Threats Churchill Dreamt It All Up A Racketeer with Rockets The Torch Procession Olympic Schizophrenia The Thugs' Game The Sovereign from the Back-Streets of St Petersburg Putinism and Questions of Linguistics War of the Avatars Part Three: THE WAR FOR THE BODY Punitive Hygiene The King's Body The Condom as a Sign of Protest The Protocols of the Elders of Sodom Test for Homophobia The 'Miss Prison' Contest Breaking 'The Silence of the Lambs' The Politics of the Female Body A 4-by-4 as a Teaching Aid A Russian Potlatch A Requiem for Roquefort The Land of Abandoned Children The Amputation of Conscience The Fiasco of 'Operation Sochi' Part Four: THE WAR FOR MEMORY Hysterical Revisionism The Holiday of 5 March The Oblomov and the Stoltz of Soviet Power A Bear of a Man Maidan in Moscow A Holiday without Tears Waltz of the Urals Chekists The Return of the Ghosts Tyrants Destroyed Russian Resentment The Flower Revolution Who's Afraid of Svetlana Alexievich? The Private Nuremberg of Denis Karagodin The Battle at the River Iset Constitution Day Glossary and List of Abbreviations Notes
Sergei Medvedev is Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. The host of several history and current affairs programmes on TV and radio and a regular commentator in the print, broadcasting and online media, he is one of Russia's most in-demand public intellectuals.
Reviews for The Return of the Russian Leviathan
'This is the best treatise on contemporary Russia since John Reed's pamphlet that shook the world one hundred years ago. Moving from the endangered Arctic to the occupied Crimea and from the politics of the body to memory wars, Medvedev reveals a political machine based on vanity, manipulation and fear of its own people. Broad-ranging in scope and mind-blowing in details, this book is a must for everyone who is concerned about Russia's present and future.' Alexander Etkind, author of Internal Colonization: Russia's Imperial Experience 'Is Putin's regime a Russian peculiarity or is it simply the Russian version of a global trend? Was it inevitable or was it accidental? If you are worried by these questions, read this passionately analytical book.' Ivan Krastev, Chairman, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia 'While there are many books about President Vladimir Putin's Russia, there are few that nail its realities with the same combination of academic precision, acerbic wit and anger as this. Well-researched analysis might be expected of a professor of Moscow's Higher School of Economics, but not necessarily the humour and passion that run through the striking work.' The Financial Times 'Medvedev's portrait of Russia is brilliant, wry and minutely observed -- and, like its title, often bitterly ironic.' Times Literary Supplement 'acerbic and splendidly argumentative... dazzling.' New Internationalist