“Dignity” As a Category of Authenticity Policy

Theorists of “post-truth politics” define the latter through opposing emotions to facts. In their opinion, while in 20th century people trusted facts, nowadays their motives and evaluations are driven by emotional involvement and cynicism.

At the same time, Ukrainian “Euromaidan,” Russian “For honest election” movement and other protests, not only in post-communist countries, were building their legitimacy based on rhetoric that included representation of personal emotional experience of civil “awakening” and curious ethics of self-explanatory facts.

Category of dignity was one of the paramount in these discussions. For instance, in the case of “white ribbon” movement, the experience of dishonouring the voters by the authorities was the primary participation motive. Protesters who made personal and moral investments in the act of voting against the “United Russia,” pointed out that the state humiliated them by stealing their votes which can be proved by multiple “facts” detected in Youtube-videos, statistical figures of vote distribution by districts etc. Participants of Ukrainian Maidan talked about the fact that the refusal of Yanukovich’s government to make the “pro-European choice” wasn’t the reason of their outrage; it was the insult of citizens who had been deprived of facts and details of international negotiations and plans for future.

So, what is common about these seemingly opposite ways of supporting one’s political and civic position: emotionally personal and detached, based on “facts?” In my opinion, these two ways of justifying the legitimacy of protest, these two strategies of delegitimization of government are related by a reference to authenticity — extraideological fact truth and sincerity of emotions. Authenticity policy is a new style of apolitical protest behaviour, primarily widespread in the countries of former Soviet Union. It’s characterized by refusal of ideological self-identification and mistrust to political representation; supremacy of collective emotions over political programmes and social demands; special level of credibility that requires trust to personal experience and “self-explanatory facts” as opposed to “ideologies” and “propaganda.” Category of “dignity” transfers a universalist meaning and legitimacy to the policy of authenticity in the context of depolitization and devaluation of ideological language.