Friday, September 4, 2015

Putin’s Anti-Technology Stance Will Ultimately Destroy His Regime, Latynina Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 4 – The Soviet regime collapsed because of its technological backwardness, something that intensified over time despite its efforts to overcome this lag. The Putin regime will collapse for a similar reason and perhaps more quickly because it is doing everything it can to create an anti-scientific and anti-technological society, Yuliya Latynina says.

            Many people are inclined to name the Afghan war as “one of the causes of the collapse of the USSR,” the “Novaya gazeta” columnist writes, “but a no less serious cause was the Lebanese war of 1982” when Israeli planes destroyed Soviet MIGs highlighting the inability of Soviet military technology to compete (

            Still more disastrous for the USSR were advances in information technology, she says, given that “the entire ideology of the USSR presupposed a state monopoly on information.” By the end, video cameras and copying machines had made this “physically impossible.” And that is shown by the fact that “the regime fell apart not from below but from above.”

            “The majority in the USSR in 1985 as before believed that there was mass unemployment in America and that they linched Negores there.” But the elite knew better, and while they didn’t care about the Negroes, by the 1980s, its members “knew very well that [the Soviet elite] lived an order of magnitude worse than the elite of the West.”

            It is indicative, Latynina says, that “current Kremlin policies takes all these circumstances into account. Thus, the Kremlin did not and does not intend to begin an open conventional war [because] it understands very well that it would be impossible for it to win such a conflict.”

            The same thing goes for a monopoly of information. Putin’s regime has “in principle” rejected “the Soviet rule of a complete monopoly on information,” given that “in the age of computers and the internet, this is in principle unrealizable.”  Instead, it seeks “only a monopoly on propaganda” which affects the majority “but not all.”

            Moreover, it has changed the thematics of its propaganda. Unlike the Soviets who claimed “we ourselves are the most advanced and most developed,” Russian propaganda now acknowledges that things aren’t so good, given that it can’t hide that fact, but asserts that “on the other hand we are spiritual.”

            And finally and importantly, “one of the main characteristics of the existing regime is that the higher ups are provided with an extraordinarily high level of consumption,” even though the population as a whole is not. “In Russia now, there is a very wealthy top and a very poor people.”

            But despite this, Latynina argues, unceasing technological progress cannot be stopped and Putin’s regime will ultimately fall as its Soviet predecessor did. It “cannot compete with an open society” and consequently it will fall “in the final analysis as a result of its total technological backwardness.”

            Latynina notes that “technical progress is impossible to predict,” but she gives as an example of how it will work against Russia in the medical area. Suppose Western medicine comes up with a way to extend the life of its populations from 70-80 years now to as much as 120 years.

            Russian elites will want to have the same, but “it will be much more difficult to purchase a long life than it is to buy an I-phone.”  That is because medical technology in Russia is far behind that of medical technology in the West where it has become a factory that works 24/7 to produce health.  That requires trained personnel as well as advanced equipment. Russia will find it hard to find either.
            Regardless of what field technological breakthroughs occur, Latynina says, these breakthroughs won’t happen in Russia because “the Kremlin’s entire policy is directed at the creation in Russia of an anti-scientific and anti-technological society.” As a result, Russia will fall further and further behind.

            “If the USSR tried to surpass the West,” it produced an elite which had to know about the West and that became its grave digger, Latynina says. “The current Kremlin, taking this lesson into account, is trying to act so that neither contemporary science nor contemporary technology will exist in the country” on the assumption that “the fewer independently thinking people,” the more secure it will be.

            But by avoiding “one danger, the presence of a thinking elite,” it is leading the country into “a dead end, that of technological backwardness, and not abstract backwardness” but a kind that will “again make its life an order lover in quality than people with an analogous social status in the West.”

            Once again, it will be the Russian elites who will undermine and then destroy the Putin state. They will not be satisfied to live only 80 years, for example, if they see that their counterparts in the West are living to 120. 

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