Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Fabian Linde (Uppsala University, Sweden)

The Russian Civilisational Turn as a Challenge to Liberalism

In 2008, a watershed event occurred when the idea of multiple civilizations became part of official Russian foreign policy. In more than one way it was the 'soft' or cultural equivalent of multipolarism or polycentrism. Both challenged American exceptionalism and put forward an alternative vision for globalization that would counteract what it saw as the undesirable unipolar hegemony on the part of the West. While multipolarism argued for the redistribution of global economic and political power among multiple global centres, the idea of multiple civilisations relaxed the liberal assumption of universal values and posited in its stead the existence of a multitude of locally based cultural communities that demonstrate their own unique hieararchy of values. Liberalism, as the predominant paradigm of the West, was implicitly held to be confined to a particular cultural setting and unsuitable for non-Western cultures. It was argued, on civilisational grounds, that trying to spread one's values to civilisations other than one's own was detrimental to global stability, an obvious reference to US interventionism, democracy promotion and nation-building in the Middle East. In around 2012, however, the Russian civilizational discourse reached a new level of determinacy when Vladimir Putin began to speak of Russia itself as being a "unique civilization." As part of the 'conservative turn,' emphasis was increasingly put on values that were held to be traditional for Russians. Now, Liberalism was challenged in another way, namely as being an alien imposition in Russia.