Tuesday, October 2, 2018

United Russia Party Not Conservative but Reactionary, Chadayev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 2 – Many Russians and others label United Russia conservative, exactly as the creators of that party want, Aleksey Chadayev says; but in fact, there is a problem because that organization “is not so much conservative,” that is committed to retaining the best of traditions, “but rather reactionary,” that is, it simply reacts negatively to what it doesn’t like.

            “Reaction to what?” the Moscow blogger asks rhetorically. And offers the following answer: “Of course to the Russia of the 1990s” and thus to the rejection of anything that characterized that decade rather than to the promotion of any other program past or present in particular (chadayev.ru/blog/2018/10/02/edinaya-rossiya-posle-reaktsii/).

                That works for many Russians who lived through that decade, Chadayev says; but there is now a problem: “In the elections this past March for the first time people went to vote who were born already under Putin’s rule for whom in general there is no principled difference between the eras of Yeltsin, Stalin, and Alexander the Great. All are pluperfect” in their minds.

            And what is more, with each passing year, the share of the population of whom that is true will become ever larger. Because they have not seen in their lives any policy except a reactionary one and their political activity also will be totally a reaction, only now already to the existing Putinist Russia.”

            The first fruits of this were seen last month in the protest voting, the Moscow blogger says. Such actions “undoubtedly reactionary,” not to the 1990s or to some other time in the past but to the Putin era.  And the regime is making that attitude more common by its own actions, including how it handles the voters and “the process of the informal casting of ‘successors.’” 

                United Russia candidates offered nothing except more of the same, he says. They did not point to a golden age either at some point in the past or at some time in he future. And not surprisingly, Russians reacted negatively to that. They’ve heard this message for 18 years, and they now longer count on the achievement of the past or of the future, just a permanent now.

            Most of the Russian voters nonetheless knew how to vote as United Russia wanted, but an increasing share compared to past elections didn’t. They no longer saw anything to conserve in the present; instead, they were reacting against it, just as United Russia has unintentionally taught them to.

            Because of this, United Russia has itself become “toxic,” Chadayev says; and Putin showed that he understands this by running not as its candidate but as a self-promoted one.  “Is it possible to correct the situation? For the time being, yes; the process [of reaction to everything’ is only at its beginning. But no one yet understands anything.”

                As a result, the blogger continues, “now each new decision works to make things worse” again precisely because there is no model of what to be for, either in the past or in the present or in the future; but only one against which the system reacts because its leaders do not like anything and especially do not like change. 

            Russia and Russians can escape from this “beautiful new world” only if they are able to participate in genuine electoral politics where new ideas can arise in debates and talk among the people. But a reactionary party in a reactionary situation isn’t going to promote something like that, at least not intentionally, Chadayev says.

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