Journal article Open Access

Perverse Conservatism: A Lacanian Interpretation of Russia's Turn to Traditional Values

Uzlaner, Dmitry

This article analyzes Russia’s ‘‘conservative turn’’, which occurred in 2012 when Vladimir Putin was elected President for a third time. An overview of this turn –incorporating anti-Westernism, an emphasis on tradition, the protection of symbols of purity, and the persecution of symbols of impurity – opens the article. The author then explains the concept of ‘‘perverse conservatism’’ and elaborates its basic pattern with reference to such Lacanian psychoanalytic concepts as subjectification, perversion, disavowal, and what he calls the ‘‘defensive fetish’’. Finally, this pattern and its subpatterns of fetishism and sadism are applied to an explanation of certain aspects of Russia’s domestic policy. The author concludes that the discourse on traditional values, at least in some respects, is subordinated to the pattern of perversion.

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