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Modernization, Europeanization, Depoliticization: Academic Concepts and Policy Connotations

Andrey Makarychev

This paper will argue that the Putin - Medvedev regime can be characterized as a depoliticized type of power. De-politicization in this context means the search for a politically neutral language of communication with the West, grounded in the idea of Russia's belongingness to the European tradition of modernity. The very reference to Europe thus serves as a powerful tool for discursive depoliticization and "normalization" of Russia. It is against this background that the significance and the applicability of the idea of modernization have to be understood. The proliferation of different versions of the modernization discourse allows us to uncover the "liberal-technocratic idealism" as a constitutive feature of the Putin-Medvedev regime, including the belief in the applicability of the universal logic of administrative and managerial efficiency, and the projection of business concepts into the policy-making domain. The concept of modernization, which is an intrinsic part of the official - hegemonic - discourse of the Kremlin, might be dubbed both post-political and apolitical, since it legitimizes itself through the references to something presented as either obvious ("neutral"/technical knowledge formulated in rational terms, i.e. with references to a presumably undisputable source of epistemic authority) or essential for national identity and integrity. Yet what is hidden beneath this discourse is power ambitions embedded in the presumably rational, objective and commonly shared arguments. Ultimately, the de-politicized discourse of modernization turns into advocacy for the reinforced role of the state in many policy spheres, both domestic and international.

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