Cargo Culture

Russia & the West.

Pt. XI: Cargo Culture.

Cargo Culture (Беляши vs The Belyashi)
Беляши vs The Belyashi

As you probably know, I’ve created a blog in Russian titled Armeyskov’s Squatterly Review. I will translate/adapt the most important posts in Russian and share them on this blog (and vice versa). You can find the Russian version here.


It is obvious that there’s no direct analogue of klyukva in Russia regarding the West. Of course, there are certain stereotypes but they don’t constitute a holistic phenomenon (unlike klyukva) due to the fact that ‘the West’ itself is not a monolithic entity. So it’s pretty hard to come up with a set of stereotypical narratives besides the eternally recurring Fall of the West meme. [That has a double]. As previously mentioned, Russia and the West represent the Ideal Other for each other, mirroring the processes taking place in their opponent, yet in a distorted way.

Russia is focused on the West, which is generating meaning, that is copied and then reproduced within the framework of what can be called a cargo culture. Cargo culture plays a significant role in Russian worldview and identity building, whereas klyukva is just a particular case of ethnocultural stereotypes.

To be more specific, cargo culture is manifested in terms of:

  • worldview (idealization or demonization of the West, xenopatriotism, conspiracy theories, decontextualization of latest Western cultural trends, double consciousness, etc.);
  • various goods, clothes and other products from the West, which brings this aspect of cargo culture closer to classical cargo cults*;
  • language (using non-Russian substitutes for words as often as possible, ‘pidgin Russian’).

In other words, cargo culture is a  process of constructing and redistributing mythologized Western images (patterns), given the latter are overvalued due to their Otherness.

To be continued!


*To quote one of my posts:

The topic is even more complicated because the ‘West’ plays an important role in the sphere of identity building, self-concept and worldview of Russians. […] The longing  for acceptance in the West was crucial in the decision-making of the late Soviet / post-Soviet nomenklatura. The jeans & bubblegum  ‘cargo cult’ was practiced by many common Soviet citizens and nomenklatura alike. The Western goods raised social status of a person possessing them and had a taste of a forbidden fruit. Of course, they were seen as cool and hip and their owner became cool and hip by association.

Follow me on Telegram: cargoculturology


2 thoughts on “Cargo Culture

  1. Pingback: The Russian Universe Vocabulary – Russian Universe

  2. Pingback: Краткое введение в каргокультурологию — Armeyskov's Squatterly Review

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