Staunton, January 6 – During the reign of Nicholas II, a Moscow police official, Sergey Zubatov, pushed for the creation of government-controlled unions that would advance economic demands and thus keep workers from turning to politics. He wasn’t supported. But his program, known as the Zubatovshchina, may be about to make a comeback, Abbas Gallyamov says.
“The history of the Zubatovshchina,” the Moscow commentator and former Putin speechwriter says, “shows that the authorities, by uniting with the people against ‘the bourgeoisie,’ are fully capable of countering the growth of protest attitudes” among workers (echo.msk.ru/blog/gallyamov_a/2347157-echo/).
According to Gallyamov, “for the Kremlin, to make use of hared to the rich now is a big temptation.” That is because “America as an enemy already isn’t working, and [the regime] needs to find someone” given that it doesn’t have a positive agenda and thus cannot function effectively “without an enemy.”
Playing up class hatred against the rich would win support among many hard-pressed Russian workers, the commentator says; but there is a problem: doing so would worsen the already bad investment climate in Russia and make economic recovery and improved tax collections more difficult.
“Nevertheless,” Gallyamov says, he “would not exclude that an attack on ‘the nouveau riche’ all the same will begin. It is clearly too profitable from a tactical point of view.” And at present, those at the top of the Russian political system are not thinking strategically at least about the economy.
The Russian business community should reflect upon this possibility, he continues. The main conclusion they should draw from the history of the Zubatovshchina is that “if you do not want to have everything you have taken from you, then it is better for you to share part of what you have.”
According to Gallyamov, “industrialists at the beginning of the last century did not want to share and, by mobilizing their forces, were able to obtain the retirement of the man who called for this.” That was only a tactical victory, however. “As a result, the got a revolution and lost everything.”
Gallyamov implies that something similar could happen again.