On May 17 in the Snegiri hotel ‘Berdyaev Readings’ Forum took place, organized by the Foundation - Institute for Socioeconomic and Political Research.
The idea to organize the forum originated among the employees of the Foundation - Institute for Socioeconomic and Political Research after the December Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly. The head of the state said that in many countries of the world traditional values are being destroyed, whereas Russia protects them. «We know that there are more and more people in the world who support our position on defending traditional values», said back then Vladimir Putin. «Of course, this is a conservative position. But speaking in the words of Nikolai Berdyaev, the point of conservatism is not that it prevents movement forward and upward, but that it prevents movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state.»
During his opening speech at the Forum Dmitry Badovsky, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the ISEPR Foundation, pointed out that conservatism is not so much an ideology as it is political style. «Crimea’s reunification with Russia the way in happened demonstrated that Russia has one of the greatest potential for so-called soft power. But it is important for us that the our ‘smart power’ grows. For this to happen researchers should discuss ideas of what modern conservatism can be like, what should be conservative strategy in the modern politics. I’d call the modern position that our country and President Vladimir Putin defend ‘a polite conservatism’», he said.
Among the participants were historians of philosophy and literature from Moscow State University and other big universities of the country, also political scientists and sociologists. The work was conducted within three thematic sections: «The origins and the meaning of Russian conservatism», «Conservatism as social, economical, ethic, political and religious category», «Mobilization potential of the conservative idea in the modern Russia».
Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Applied Political Science of the National Research University «Higher School of Economics» Leonid Polyakov pointed out that by mean of such forums the tradition of Russian national philosophizing starts to revive and becomes popular. «Three sections worked in a very interesting format. In each of them an interesting aspect of conservatism is considered: history, theory, contemporaneity, future. And I believe that there was a thorough debate in each of the sections», he said.
Summing up the results of the «Mobilization potential of the conservative idea in the modern Russia» section, Sergei Chernyakhovsky, Ph.D in Political Science, Professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities, pointed out that the problem wasn’t reduced to a purely historical and philosophical understanding of conservatism’s problems. «The attention was drawn to the necessity to understand current tasks not only as preservation of the past. Preservation can only be successful when building and creation of the new is added to it (this is especially important in modern Russia) but without destruction of the basic tenets of the past and accumulated wealth», he concluded.
After the Forum (based on the presentations and transcripts of all discussions and speeches) the ISEPR Foundation plans to release the second issue of the Almanac Notebooks on Conservatism and run two thematic web pages to promote and discuss the conservative agenda. Moreover, the Foundation will establish The Nikolai Berdyaev Heritage Award for Russian Thought, that will be awarded in two categories: philosophy scholars - for the «significant scientific work» and students of liberal arts colleges - for «interesting scientific developments». ‘Berdyaev Readings’ Forum will take place several times a year - not only in Moscow but also in the regions.