West: Get acquainted with the Vatnik!

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17 thoughts on “West: Get acquainted with the Vatnik!

  1. Estragon

    Vatnost is something that’s been around for a long time, actually, even if they didn’t have a term for it until recently. Several years ago, *ura-patrioty* was the preferred term, I think. Or is there a difference between ura-patrioty and vatniki?

    Also, is it your contention that vatnost is somehow being artificially created or increased? Or are more people suddenly showing their already existing vatnik side? Or is it some combination of factors?

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      I think signals are being given that vatnost is approved behavior and will be rewarded. It was definitely around before, but some years ago they weren’t so cherished and empowered.

      Reply
    2. LoneWolf

      “Ura-patrioty” doesn’t have the vaguely social-darwinist connotations of educated thinking special snowflakes vs. stupid, crude, brainwashed poor biological mass (it’s no accident that the clothing the meme refers to is associated with the poorer stratas of Russian population). That’s why it’s disappointing that the author of this blog is now busy promoting this “vatnik” meme like it has some kind of magical explanatory power. It doesn’t. Even if you manage to remove the elitist connotations, it’s still just a description of the type.

      Reply
      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Well here’s the problem with that. You decided that the vatnik meme must have that connotation, when it doesn’t necessarily have it.

        Many “educated” people in Russia display vatnost these days. The most vatnost is often displayed by people who are quite rich, often having stolen their wealth from ordinary people.

        Please stop trying to manipulate class politics to defend a corrupt system by appealing to this “salt of the earth,” populist nonsense.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Also I might point out that the idea that most internet savvy Russians who promote such memes are rich is simply laughable. Rich Russian youth don’t work at all, and they tend to be the most “patriotic” as of late.

        Russia’s struggling IT workers, the producers of much of Russia’s internet culture, are not pampered. I know quite a few of them myself. It’s often harder for them because when they fall on hard times nobody gets all sentimental and sympathetic for them like they do for teachers and medical personnel.

        I’m sorry but your accusations of inherent social darwinism simply don’t hold up. Anyone can use a meme and apply their own negative ideology to it. That doesn’t mean their individual actions define the meme itself.

        If you want to know what vatnost is- take a friend’s student who is being laid off from what I understood to be a good job. He’s basically on the road to poverty, but he actually said, without irony, “At least the Crimea is ours.” That is vatnost, and it is killing Russia.

        Have you seen that video, called “I’m the Russian Occupier?” That’s vatnost right there.

  2. LoneWolf

    Most of this “vatnik” stuff is social-darwinist crap, although it recently appears to just become a symbol of “pseudopatriot”.

    Reply
  3. LoneWolf

    I’m not defending the current situation in Russia, just pointing out that this approach seems to be counter-productive. The origin of the term do seem to be genuinely dubious (I’ve actually first seen it in this sova report: http://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/reports-analyses/2014/08/d30003/), where it was reported as being used by the pro-Kiev fraction of Russian far right. Dunno whether it originated there, though. If it did, it certainly throws a shadow on the term.

    And while I don’t think that most IT workers are anything but working class, it’s also true that upper stratas of working class can partake in the ultimately rush-to-the-bottom ideology of “no, honestly, we’re actually the ultimate elite of the nation”.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      No, the vatnik is not from the far-right. It originate around 2011-12, long before Maidan. Anyone can appropriate something and use it for nefarious purposes.

      The point is that the general attitude associated with vatnost is real, and it’s definitely not dependent on class.

      Reply
      1. LoneWolf

        Fair enough. The term to me still has some “sheeple” connotations that make me raise my eyebrows, the way “hurrah-patriot” and even more charged “putinoid” don’t.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Trust me, I do see problematic aspects of this too. There are a lot of people who use the vatnik meme, and see themselves as above the vatniks and yet they have the same mentality.

  4. Chukuriuk

    I’m genuinely confused by the hand-wringing over “vatnik” here. Eisenstein had his lumpens living in holes in the ground, Vertov was as antagonistic to them as he was to the bourgeoisie, and don’t even start on Bunuel. Social darwinism my ass, it’s straight-up marxism to point out how the lumpenproletariat is attracted to fascism.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Well I wouldn’t say that vatniks are lumpen elements at all. One of those most disturbing phenomenons, as I said earlier, is that many people who really should know better, and in some cases who are quite well off, are prone to being vatniy.

      Reply
      1. Chukuriuk

        Do you mean to say, “not all vatniks are lumpen?” My understanding of the vatnik was always closer to this:

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        No way. That’s closer to gopnik. Yes, the vatnik jacket was associated with poor, rural people, but it’s also associated with GULAG prisoners. In reality, it’s more of a mentality than a lifestyle. A lot of very wealthy people are vatniks.

  5. Chukuriuk

    Thanks. As the term describes mentality rather than class, is a vatnik basically a sovok, only updated for the Krymnash era?

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      The only Soviet aspect is the flag, and small cultural things. In their mind, the USSR was just a rebranding of the Russian empire. Lenin was an evil German agent who murdered the Tsar and gave away sacred Russian lands like Poland and Finland, but they’ll scream bloody murder if anyone in Ukraine topples one of his monuments.

      Of course the Soviet Union they love was built by the very Russian, very Orthodox Tsar Jaroslav Stalin, who with the help of the deeply religious Andrei Vlassov, developed an ingenious plan to stop the liberal fascist USA from uniting with fascist Germany and overrunning Holy Mother Russia with gay parades.

      Something like that.

      Reply
      1. Chukuriuk

        Apropos the “liberal fascist USA … uniting with fascist Germany and overrunning Holy Mother Russia with gay parades,” here is one of my favorites, gathering all the memes and … well, you’ll see:

        Note the first comment: “Обыграть такую трагичную сцену (встреча с женой в кафе Элефант) да ещё так…смеялся от души, хотя желание вкатить подзатыльник тому кто это снял не пропало!” This stuff really is sacred for a certain type, for your Vatnik.

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