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“Behind nationalist discourses, from Vladimir Poutine to Marine Le Pen, the pitfalls of eternal identity”

Grandstand The invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army has brought to light Vladimir Putin’s identity ideology. His February 21 speech made Ukrainians a “brother people”, belonging to the same entity defined by [son] story, [sa] culture and [son] spiritual space ». Putin never ceases to proclaim this Russian identity, according to him radically opposed to the Western logic which would put it in danger.

We are therefore not very surprised to (re) discover to what extent the French far right has made Putin a reference. In fact, the idea of ​​an “eternal” Russia is not so far removed from that of an “identity of the French people”, historic and threatened. In both cases, national identity is constructed as a strict definition, inscribed in history, spanning time, unified by a religious relationship to the world, without nuances, immutable and, of course, under attack. However, what makes the strength of this definition is not what it brings together, but rather what it opposes. It is by bringing together differences that nationalist discourses draw, in hollow, the contours that they set themselves the task of defending.

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To make an “eternal” Russia exist, it is necessary to create a repulsive West and traitors to the nation. To make a “French people” exist, it is necessary to construct the figure of the Muslim as “great-replacement”, and that of the “Islamo-leftists” as enemies from within. Similarly, to make the Aryan race exist, “the Jew” had to be instituted as the principle of contamination. These identity discourses are built on a double narrative, a double myth: that of origins, of the sacred and of the proper, on the one hand; that of radical otherness, of the profane, of the dirty, on the other hand.

Individual identity does not exist in itself

Thus constructed, the national identity is comfortable. It offers the possibility of defining oneself, both individually and collectively, once and for all, and without uncertainty. The identity choice gives attributes to think about, words to say, by connecting with a group whose collective destiny goes beyond the individual, giving the latter in return a feeling of stability. The choice of identity thus provides the idea of ​​permanence and unity.

However, individual identity is rather subject to permanent redefinitions. It does not exist in itself, once and for all. It depends on the moment in a life, on a course. Individual identity also depends on those to whom it is addressed, and who are able to confirm or deny it. It should be noted that the identity “for oneself”, that which we attribute to ourselves, is in tension with the identity “for others”, that which others attribute to us. Now, these others are multiple and changeable.

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