Staunton, August 29 –Every system if it is going to survive needs people who will defend it; and the Putin regime is no different. In fact, in addition to its open propagandists, the Kremlin today has eight different kinds of the defenders of the status quo, according to Moscow analyst Lidiya Shevtsova.
These “defenders” so monopolize the public space that it is often difficult for anyone else to get a word in edgewise, and that is exactly the point of having so many – they are now beyond counting -- and so many different kinds – there are at least eight --she says in a commentary for Radio Liberty (svoboda.org/a/28662872.html).
Some of those involved in this effort may “sincerely see themselves as progressives, but in fact they are helping to preserve the existing system,” Shevtsova continues. But perhaps some of them are simply going along because it is professionally profitable and they don’t want to be cast out into the cold. In any case, it is useful to have a list:
1. “The pragmatists” form the majority of the defenders of the system. They are happy to comment uncritically about what is happening, but as Shevtsova points out, “the absence of ideology means also the absence of principles.”
2. “The technocrats” are those “who have mastered the art of serving those in power.” The powers that be need them to run the system, and this group dominates the economy.
3. “The optimists” always assert that things aren’t as bad as they appear and that things are getting better and better.
4. “The supporters of ‘small steps’” include those who point to small changes now as indications of bigger and more positive ones in the future.
5. “The realists” are those who focus on foreign policy and believe that foreign policy is all about force and having power and also think that Russians should focus on foreign affairs and ignore things at home.
6. “The geopoliticians” are people who love to talk about myths that “support the appearance of the greatness of the state.”
7. “The statists” are those who support the power of the state over everything else, quite possibly because they believe that is the only way Russia can exist.
8. And “the supporters of new forms and styles” include those who delude their audiences by using new technologies to support old ideas.
According to Shevtsova, those who talk about foreign policy occupy the most prominent position among the defenders and preservers of the system, and their arguments reflect the fact that this is a realm where intellectual bravery is the least possible. But even when they appear critical, they are in fact doing little more than working around the edges.
However, in her view, the most dangerous of the preservers who want to appear to be critics are those who focus on every twitch in the Kremlin, subjecting it to microscopic analysis and building on that alone. A microscope does reveal many interesting things, but it can have the effect of distracting attention from the situation as a whole.
And that of course, in the current situation, is exactly what the Kremlin wants and what the preservers are all too willing to provide.