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Most of Russian political terminology is international in origin, so the words are easy to recognize: демократия, капитализм, либерализм, национализм, and so on. However, the definition of the foreign-language cognate will not always match how the corresponding word is used in Russian.
Либерализм may have a different connotation in Russian than “liberalism” does in English. Либерализм is defined as “Идеологи́ческое и обще́ственно-полити́ческое тече́ние, объединя́ющее сторо́нников парла́ментского стро́я, широ́ких полити́ческих свобо́д и ча́стного предпринима́тельства (An ideological and sociopolitical school of thought that unites supporters of a parliamentary system, broad political freedoms, and private entrepreneurship).”
If we look at how либерализм is used in Russian texts, we’ll see that it is closer to classical (economic) liberalism as opposed to social liberalism. The following examples from the Russian National Corpus demonstrate that.
Russian uses the same left-right political metaphor as many other languages, but, once again, the word for “the right” (правые; plural noun that declines like an adjective) really refers to small-government, low-spending, free-market politicians rather than proponents of social conservatism.
Национализм is another concept that cannot be interpreted based on the meaning of the English word “nationalism.” Whereas in English “nationalism,” defined as “loyalty and devotion to a nation,” can be neutral or positive, the Russian word almost always carries a negative connotation.
Национализм is defined as “Идеоло́гия и поли́тика, исходя́щая из иде́й национа́льного превосхо́дства и противопоставле́ния свое́й на́ции други́м, подчиня́ющая общечелове́ческие интере́сы и це́нности национа́льным интере́сам (an ideology and policy based on the idea of national superiority and contrasting the interests of one’s nation to others that makes universal human interests and values secondary to national interests).” Perhaps национализм could be described as a combination of jingoism and chauvinism.
Have you come across any of these terms in Russian texts of conversations?
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