Manifesto of Enlightened Conservatism


Film director and self-proclaimed monarchist Nikita Mikhalkov caused a big stir when he released his 10,000-word political manifesto titled “Right and Truth.” The main theme of the manifesto was that Russia needs a strong leader who will guide the country along its “special path” to become prosperous and powerful. This is nothing new.

Mikhalkov has expressed these views in numerous television appearances, newspaper articles and in his films. The only possibly new aspect was his stress on “enlightened conservatism,” which corresponds to United Russia’s vaguely formulated ideology that is supposed be based on “conservative values” and “conservative modernization.”

What type of government and civil society does Mikhalkov view as ideal for Russia? To become a “geopolitical and spiritual center of the world,” Russia needs to follow its own, unique blend of enlightened conservatism. He did not mention Count Sergey Uvarov, who is famous for his formula “Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality.”

Nevertheless, Russians have an important role to play in building enlightened conservatism: They are assigned the role of practising “loyalty, obeying authoritative power and respecting rank.” A peaceful union between citizens and the state is best achieved, we are told, through “civil and church obedience, not administrative coercion.”

Throughout his career as a director and a de facto political and ideological mouthpiece for the Kremlin, Mikhalkov has truly embodied one of the goals expressed in his manifesto: “to create an atmosphere of power, to produce and distribute virtual myths that will provide an identity for the nation, individual, and state.”

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