Staunton, August 22 – It is a profound mistake to discuss Kremlin politics in terms of liberal, conservative or any of the other ideological labels, Vladislav Inozemtsev says, because in “the corporate state of a fascist type” that Putin has established, individuals even just below the supreme leader are “cogs” in a machine who function in ways that correspond to his will.
Putin’s system, he writes, “in general does not presuppose any division on ‘liberals,’ ‘conservatives’ or ‘socialists,’ on ‘democrats’ or ‘statists,’ on ‘siloviki’ or on supporters of a soft ‘social accord,’” the Moscow commentator says. Those terms mattered only as long as public opinion and elections mattered. Now they don’t (snob.ru/selected/entry/112445).
That is because, he continues, in “a corporate state of a fascist type” like that built by Mussolini in Italy or by Hitler in Germany, individuals even near the top matter not as a result of the ideological label they give themselves or than others give them but rather because of how close they are to the leader.
Inozemtsev says that he has been led to make these observations by recent discussions that this or that Putin appointment points to greater liberalism. “In the Russian economy today, there is in practice nothing liberal: here total monopolism dominates … social inequality remains extremely high, and the interests of the creative class aren’t represented at the political level.”
He argues that in Putin’s system, “the basic principle is not assistance to individual entrepreneurship and small business but rather taking care of major corporations.” And Russia today is not like the liberal Great Society of the 1960s but rather like the Gilded Age of the late 19th century where the capitalists working with the state were allowed to do whatever they liked.
“The Russian political hierarchy is today much more tightly united than ever before,” Inozemtsev says. “It is united by money for the sake of which our bureaucrats live and act, by fear before the possible destabilization of the situation, and of course by an awareness of the enormous violations of the laws and the Constitution.”
As a result, he continues, “the decisions which are being taken today and will be taken in future years are and will be defined only a single ideology – the ideology of personal and corporate survival of the current elite and its leader not as a result of any liberal, conservative or socialist ideas of particular ‘politicians.’”
Such systems have problems with adapting to changes in the environment, but perhaps their most serious shortcoming is that they cannot survive the departure of their creator leaders. And thus, after having passed a certain “’point of no return’” as Russia did after the 2008-2011 interlude, “cannot be reformed.
All this renders discussions about “’the fates of liberalism’” in Russia “senseless.” At present, Inozemtsev says, “there are not and cannot be any liberals.” Whether they might emerge “several decades from now, only time will tell.”