chapter  1
10 Pages

Introduction

ByMARLÈNE LARUELLE

In the second half of the 1970s there was a significant rise in the number of works published on contemporary Russian nationalism. Authors such as John Dunlop, Alexander Yanov, and William Laqueur worked for many decades to bring attention to bear on a phenomenon that was formerly little known and barely distinguishable from Soviet nationalism.1 Then, during the 1990s, after the disappearance of the Soviet Union, several works appeared that focused on the rise of the extreme right and on the risk of “fascization,” even of “Nazification,” of postSoviet Russia.2 Today, a new set of works have emerged on the question of Russian nationalism, whose focal point no longer involves analyzing small groupuscules to ascertain how marginal or, on the contrary, how representative they are, but which attempt to account for a social, cultural, and political field that is in fact much more widespread. Indeed, in the Russian Federation today, nationalism comprises the common denominator, the constitutive element of social consensus and of “political correctness.” Nationalist issues, expressed under the label patriotism, have become defining components of Russia’s political language in the sense that all parties speak it. No public figure, regardless of his or her functions, is able to acquire political legitimacy without mentioning his or her attachment to the Russian motherland and without justifying his or her policy choices in terms of the nation’s supreme interests.