Civilization approach to the state cultural policy in the humanitarian cooperation of the SCO member countries

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Civilization approach to the state cultural policy in the humanitarian cooperation of the SCO member countries 10.05.2016 13:35

Report of the Deputy Director of the Likhachev D.S. Institute of Cultural and Natural Heritage, PhD (philology) Bahrevskij E.V. “Civilizational approach to the state cultural policy in the humanitarian cooperation of the SCO member states” presented at the Sochi Forum on the expansion and development of the SCO (April 19-20, 2016)

At the end of 2014 “Framework of the state cultural policy” was adopted in Russia. This is the first document of this kind in the history of our country. It defined the strategic position of culture in the development of society.

Since the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is an organization dedicated primarily to the issues of regional and continental security, then I will pay attention to the fact that in that document the state cultural policy is recognized as an integral part of the Russian national security strategy. The document states that the state cultural policy is designed to ensure priority of the cultural and human development, as a foundation for economic prosperity of the state sovereignty and the country’s civilizational identity. One of the goals of the state cultural policy is called the transfer from one generation to another of the traditional Russian civilization values and codes, traditions, customs and patterns of behavior.

The representatives of different civilizations are gathered here, and for colleagues from China, India, Pakistan issues of identity and self-sufficiency of their own civilization as a whole are not sufficient but concerning Russia the situation is different. Russia since the 16th century has been under strong political and military pressure with military and technical superiority of Western Europe.

Europe, due to the rapid development of capitalism from 16-17 century became the main military force in the world has developed a number of Russian cultural and historical doctrines. In general, it reduced to the following that there is a single civilization in the world, which embodied in the Western Christian world. Now it is politically correct called the Christian world. All the other nations of the world are at the stage of barbarism or savagery. For some of the people there is an opportunity to achieve civilization, for others it is not possible. But to enter the so-called civilized world it is absolutely necessary to do all the way as the West and to share Western values.

Created by the West academic schools of cultural anthropology, etnosociology, theories by Spengler, Toynbee, and Huntington claim the existence, value and self-sufficiency of other civilizations in the long run does not affect the public opinion or the mass consciousness of the West. Not on the way of thinking and activities of the political elites. At the same time one of the intellectual leaders of the West, the American neo-Marxist Immanuel Valerstaen notes civilizational approach, as the ideology of the weak, as a form of protest against the ethnic nationalism of the developed countries - the core of the modern world system. This outlook is also reflected and actively promoted through modern culture

Here is an example - the recent film “American Sniper”, which claimed the title of best film of 2015 in the United States. In this film US Navy Special Forces militaries called Iraqis, not only Islamist militants, and in general all, only as savages. Noting the fact that the main villain of the film was a Syrian sniper, because the film was recently shot. The Iraqi issue was no longer relevant, and Syrian one became urgent.

So, based on this western approach here, let’s see how this is reflected in Russia’s vision in this system. Russians belong to the Eastern Christian world and have no significant racial differences from Western Europeans. This circumstance was the cause of a particular situation, when the Russian elite began to consider themselves as Europeans who belong to the very unique civilization. Since the time of Peter the Great, that is, from the beginning of the 18th century Russian elite - the nobility was largely recruited in Western Europe and most of the Germans, in the broadest sense of the word, russified in Russia. But multi-ethnic and multi-religious people of Russia treated own European elite, as a foreign body.

In the communist period of its development, Russia undoubtedly has become an alternative center of world development however, in any case it did not feel a self-sufficient civilization, and only as a better pattern of the West, which forged ahead. That is why appeared flattery before Western public opinion, even in periods of the highest power of the Soviet Union. Even now, when the idea of a special civilizational path is registered in the Russian documents of strategic planning at the level of high officials one can hear what our values do not differ from the European ones. But in Russia alone they more properly understood. Let us recall the famous statement by the person of our diplomacy Maria Zakharova. I quote: “As the establishment of our European “I am”, we have developed into stronger supporters of European values than Europeans themselves, Europe has thrown itself over its hip during last decades”

It should be recognized that there is no well-established scientific concepts. There are many interpretations of the concept on the essence of civilization. Popular in Russia and the former Soviet Union theories by Danilevsky, Gumilev, Panarin; all they do not constitute a complete scientific theory, having a thorough school, developed the methodology and so on. Despite this civilizational approach, in my opinion, it can be very fruitful. At least, in the field of cultural policy, Shanghai Cooperation Organization have acted for 15 years, and its predecessor, as you know, we have already heard today, for 20 years.

The most important Proclaimed aim of the SCO is to strengthen mutual trust and good-neighborliness. But can we say that in Russian society, for example, China is regarded as a friendly country, which Russian citizens have trusted? I would answer negative. China is not considered as an enemy, of course, but in general in the mass consciousness of Russians China is perceived as a threat. This is a special world. It is a huge, incomprehensible, overpopulated, rich and dangerous empire, which is sure to occupy Siberia and the Far East.

It is important to mention other countries, the SCO member or partners of the SCO. Well, for example, three years ago I was going to Iran and said this to one of friends, who has nothing to do with science and oriental research. And he opened his eyes and said to me: “Why do you want an adventure, where are you going?” I said, “What is wrong with Iran? It is the safest place in the entire region”. But he did not believe me. I imagine if I went, for example, to Pakistan. This would be generally thought that I was going there for a war. Well, it is not just to visit the country friendly to us. Therefore, other member countries of the SCO images in the mass public consciousness as far as I understand, are not better example.

On the image of modern Russia in the eyes of the neighbors, I’m afraid to even talk. I do not think there is a sense in the frames of this report to look for the causes of this situation. I would like to identify ways to overcome it. This way, in my opinion, lies in the field of state cultural policy.

As the SCO countries, belonging to different civilizations, though during the times dealing and enriching each other they can radically improve their own image in the eyes of the people of the partners. It is possible only through the creation, promotion, distribution of own cultural products of high quality. And thus it is necessary to be aware that the value-regulatory systems do not fully coincide in different civilizations. Therefore, for example the Russian cultural product that can effectively work in Kazakhstan may be totally inappropriate in China or in India. Therefore, I believe the study of the value systems of friendly civilizations and building a cultural policy on the basis of scientific knowledge, of course, taking into account global cultural trends and the widespread availability of cultural products around the world, is a major challenge for cultural studies of the participating countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The second option is to ensure the presence of friendly countries in the information field of each other. It is primarily about the products of mass culture. Communication at the level of intellectuals and professionals, the existence of small circles of fans of a particular culture are important, but they have little effect on the overall situation.

We all know the high level of development of the film industry is Iran, China, and India. However, demonstration of these films on the big screen from these countries in Russia is simply impossible. Now I do not see any reason to stop on a variety of reasons, why it happens, but I remind you that during the Soviet era the Indian cinema was very popular. It went on the wide screen, during the Soviet time. Now this is not, and I, frankly, do not really imagine how this can be realized in Russia nowadays.

No one knows about the Iranian cinema, in principle, except professionals and very small audience of film festivals. Chinese cinema was represented by a number of historical or fantasy action movie in recent years. This movie has its place, but I think rather it works, namely, on the image of the strange, crowded and dangerous empire.

In conclusion I would say that our Institute of Cultural and Natural Heritage, at least, is trying to define, from a scientific point of view, the civilizational approach to cultural policy. And we are working on several programs to study value systems in our country and the friendly countries, partners in the CIS and the SCO to develop some of the principles of effective state cultural policy.