Understanding Russian Conservatism

David Pan
The human rights project struggles continually with the problem of cultural difference. In the first place, contrasting moral judgments about issues such as abortion, sexual preference, and polygamy create divisions across cultures that undermine the expansion of human rights claims. Yet even fundamental questions, such as killing and extra-legal detention, are unsettled in the case of war. If war provides a justification for killing and wars are fought to defend values, then diverging value commitments can undermine the most basic consensus on human rights principles. As self-serving as Russian insistence on its unique cultural mission might be, the Russian perspective on the war in Ukraine has not been built upon a rejection of moral values but on the establishment of a particular view of both values and the way in which cultural difference relates to them. An example of this attempt to reconfigure the debate on morality in Russia is the work of Konstantin Krylov, who developed an approach that separates the world into four separate spheres, each with its own characteristic approach to moral judgments. In his survey and analysis of Krylov’s work, Paul Grenier’s recent essay in Telos 201, “Konstantin Krylov’s Ethical Theory and What It Reveals about the Propensity for Conflict between Russia and the West,” explains Krylov’s system and the way in which it conflicts with Western liberal values. In our podcast discussion of his essay, we discuss the broader context of Russian conservative thought as well as the Russian perspective on its moral stance vis-à-vis liberalism and the West.

Categories: Geopolitics

Leave a Reply