Chapter

Reifying Boundaries, Fetishizing the Nation: Soviet Legacies and Élite Legitimacy in the Post‐Soviet States

Alexander J. Motyl

in Right-sizing the State

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780199244904
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600050 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199244901.003.0007
 Reifying Boundaries, Fetishizing the Nation: Soviet Legacies and Élite Legitimacy in the Post‐Soviet States

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Alexander Motyl argues that Russian elites—incapable of glorifying the post‐imperial state they shattered or the Soviet ideology they never fully embraced—sought legitimacy by fetishizing the Russian nation. In the rest of the former Soviet Union, non‐Russian elites adopted a cult of statehood and consequently eliminated state downsizing from the menu of political action. The vicious circle that results is one of Russian insistence on state up‐sizing to incorporate Russians living in the neighbouring ‘near abroad’ and non‐Russian elites’ refusal to downsize. The author concludes that the vicious circle leads on both sides to mistrust, build‐up of unitary vertical state rule, obstacles to democratization, and possible violent conflict.

Keywords: democratization; elites; ideology; Alexander Motyl; near abroad; Russia; Soviet Union

Chapter.  8483 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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