Political Performance in Russia: Carnival Polyphony


The political reality is becoming more and more virtual. The government retains control over the political space. At the same time, the political practices themselves are becoming more approximate. The spectacle nature of politics is increasingly making itself felt. Politics is perceived as a game, a show, a theater, with its own genre of laws and stylistics. This view of politics is increasingly gaining ground in the context of COVID-19, which divides social ties and organizes society in an online reality. In full measure, these challenges are relevant for modern Russia. Similar problems are beginning to arise in Russian regions as well. In this article, the author highlights the carnival element of contemporary Russian politics. The author’s goal is to establish a relationship between the polyphony of carnival reality, which is often not in the control of the authorities, and the practices of legitimation of the authorities themselves, which constantly need approval and recognition of their own policies. The purpose of the study was to clarify the association between the carnival element of politics in Russia and the legitimation of power. The research methodology was the author’s deconstruction of the political process in Russia using a formal method (M. Bakhtin’s theory) that allowed one to see in it the constant constitution of new forms of social activity. As a result of the research, the author concluded that political processes in Russia can be defined in a carnival form, within which various voices and ideas can independently be present. The polyphony of politics, in fact, resembles the polyphony of the carnival itself. The polyphony achieved in the carnival, and in creating a deceptive sense of democracy, creates a whole host of challenges and risks for the authorities. Creative energy and destructive energy are present with each other at the same time. That is why, for the authorities, such a release is always mysterious and indefinite. Loss of form is always dangerous for the authorities, who are accustomed to extreme clarity and determination of possible consequences.

Keywords: carnival, legitimation, political performance, power, polyphony

[1] Kanetti E. Masse and power. Moscow: Progress, Ad Marginem; 1997.
[2] Camus A. The rebel. Moscow: Politizdat; 1990.
[3] Hujzinga J. Autumn of the Middle Ages. St. Petersburg: Azbuka; 2018.
[4] Blok M. Wonderworking kings. Essay on the supernatural notions of royalty prevalent in France and England. Moscow: Jazyki Russkoi Kultury; 1998.
[5] Bobbio N. Between the two republics. The origins of Italian democracy. Greco T, editor. Roma: Donzelli R.; 1996. [6] Kracauer S. Employees. From the life of modern Germany. Moscow: Kabinetnyi Uchenyi, Yekaterinburg; 2016. [7] Skiperskikh A. Fiers vs Truffaldino: Sketches of Russian and European culture. Sociological Review. 2017;16(2):180–194.
[8] Lotman Y. Conversations about Russian culture. Life and traditions of the Russian nobility (18th - beginning of the 19th century). St. Petersburg: Azbuka; 2017.
[9] Bakhtin M. Questions of literature and aesthetics. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaya Literature; 1975.
[10] Caillois R. Man. Play and games. Moscow: OGI; 2007.
[11] Panishchev AL. Russian renaissance: A man between god and demon. Moscow: Akademiya Estestvoznaniya; 2007.
[12] Tarasenko D. Putin approved criteria for assessing the effectiveness of Russian governors. Gazeta; 2021 Feb 4. Available from: www.gazeta.ru/politics/news/2021/02/04/n_15578828.shtml
[13] Assmann A. New dissatisfaction with memorial culture. Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie; 2016.
[14] Gavrilov D. Actor in Eurasian folklore. Moscow: Sotsialno-Politicheskaya Mysl; 2006.
[15] Kara-Murza S. Consciousness manipulation. Moscow: Eksmo-Press; 2002.
[16] Gachev G. Family comedies. Lethe in Shchitovo. Moscow: Shkola-Press; 1994.