Political culture in contemporary Russia: Trapped between glory and guilt
This chapter deals with processes of democratic consolidation—the democratization of the political culture—in post-authoritarian societies, focusing on post-Soviet Russia. It also deals with the question of which political culture is to be regarded as relevant in the Russian case, and argues that the political culture of interpretation—manifest in public debates over the collective definitions of the 'good life' and especially over the collective past—is of paramount importance. The chapter considers the political culture of interpretation as the semantic deep structure of the interaction of civil society actors and institutions, directing the rationality of public conflict settlement. It sketches an analysis of contemporary Russian debate over the 'Great Homeland War' and Stalinism against the background of the proposed theoretical model. The chapter describes the relationship between memories of a glorious past and those recalling a murky past, and its implications for the consolidation of a democratic political culture.