“Poltava Syndrome” of Sweden: Burdensome Politico-Historical Legacy

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Head of Section, Department of European Political Studies
Affiliation: Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO)
Address: Moscow, Russian Federation
Journal nameMirovaia ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniia
EditionVolume 62 Issue 12

In the article, the author examines the transformation of an old historical trauma – the “Poltava syndrome” – as a compound complex of political Russophobia, comprised of socio-cultural fears, politico-psychological collective stereotypes, offences, neuroses and aberrations of mass consciousness in modern Sweden. A composite set of combinations of anxious sensations, fears, challenges and threats is an element of social-psychological, culture-historical identity of the Swedes, a factor of social life, a forced condition of the country’s international political reality. The article also shows how some features of the historical “threat from the East” social perception did change the mass behavior in Sweden due to aggravation of the world political situation in the post-Crimean period. On the one hand, the “Poltava syndrome” is a distinctive defense mechanism as part of a unique socio-cultural identity of the country, and on the other, in the foreign policy, it plays the role of a security device for the whole sphere of national military-political system. Today, the action mechanism of the “Poltava syndrome” becomes an apparent example as follows: when it weakens, the “softening” of Swedish neutrality occurs, its erosion takes place. And, vice versa, when the “Russian threat” (danger from the East) grows, one may see the reinforcement of the “Poltava syndrome”. With the escalation of international tension by reason of nervousness, the social-psychological anxiety increases, the defense consciousness intensifies, the surges of mass patriotism are in evidence, and the “negative” around Russia favors the growth of alarmist moods among the population, further militarization of the country’s policy.

KeywordsSweden, Russia, Europe, political syndrome, national identity, social consciousness, historical memory.
Publication date14.01.2019
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