The Code of Putinism

In This Review

The Code of Putinism
By Brian D. Taylor
Oxford University Press, 2018
264 pp.
Purchase

“Putin is Russia, and Russia is Putin,” the Russian politician Vyacheslav Volodin famously commented in 2014. Most Americans believe the same thing, although they do not mean it as a compliment. Taylor argues that this misses Russian President Vladimir Putin’s role as the centerpiece of something more complex: “Putinism,” a “solar system” of interlocking and often competing clans. To understand how these informal networks govern the country and carry out foreign policy, one needs to know the “code” that guides them, which Taylor says includes ideas, habits, and emotions. The key ideas behind Putinism are the need for a strong state, anti-Westernism, and conservatism. Putinism’s habits express themselves in preferences for control, unity, loyalty, and “hypermasculinity.” And its emotions come out in its preoccupation with respect, resentment, and fear. The code, Taylor argues, explains Russia’s drift toward authoritarianism and its aggressive foreign policy. He concludes that Putinism has created a domestic political order that can be controlled but not easily modernized and that Russian foreign policy is “overambitious” and ultimately counterproductive. The political system is likely doomed to “a slow muddling down,” although he does not see Putinism ending anytime soon.

More Reviews on Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Republics From This Issue

Browse All Capsule Reviews

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.

Continue

Close We are offering free and open access for a short period of time. Read more about why we are doing this.

Days
Hrs
Min
Sec