Russia Against Modernity

Research Center for the History of Transformations (RECET) at the University of Vienna and the Research Platform "Transformations and Eastern Europe" invite to their regular Transformative Salon, Thursday, 7 December 2023, with Prof. Alexander Etkind (CEU) and Anton Shekhovstsov (RECET Associated Researcher).

New Venue: Café Merkur, Florianigasse 18, 1080 Wien

Putin's war is a "special operation" against modernity. The invasion has been directed against Ukraine, but the war has a broader target: the modern world of climate awareness, energy transition and digital labor. By trading oil and gas, promoting Trump and Brexit, spreading corruption, boosting inequality and homophobia, subsidizing far-right movements and destroying Ukraine, Putin's clique aims at suppressing the ongoing transformation of modern societies.

Alexander Etkind distinguishes between Russia's pompous, weaponized paleomodernity, on the one hand, and the lean, decentralized gaiamodernity of the Anthropocene, on the other. Putin's clique has used various strategies - from climate denialism and electoral interference to war and genocide - to resist and subvert modernity. Working on political, cultural and even demographic levels, social mechanisms convert the vicious energy of the oil curse into all-out aggression. Dissecting these mechanisms, Etkind's brief but rigorous analyses of social structuration, cultural dynamics and family models reveal the agency that drives the Russian war against modernity. This short, sharp critique of the Russian regime combines political economy, social history and demography to predict the decolonizing and defederating of Russia.

Alexander Etkind teaches International Relations at Central European University, Vienna, and previously taught History and Russian Studies in Florence, Cambridge, and St Petersburg. His new book, Russia against Modernity, was released by Polity in May.

Anton Shekhovtsov is a director at The Centre for Democratic Integrity, a Vienna-based non-profit association monitoring attempts of authoritarian regimes to influence politics, societies and public governance in Europe, and Associated Researcher at the Research Center for the History of Transformations at the University of Vienna (Austria).

The lecture will be followed by a public discussion.

FREE ENTRY. No registration is needed to participate. Event language will be English.

The organisers plan to record the event and to publish it on the RECET YouTube channel 2-3 days later.