Monday, January 7, 2019

Russia’s Lower Classes Far More ‘Soviet’ than Its Elites and That is a Big Problem, Inozemtsev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 7 – Russian commentator Vladimir Pozner argument that Russia will change only when the last member of the Russian elite educated in Soviet times passes away ( is fundamentally wrong, Russian economist Vladislav Inozemtsev says (

Not only is Pozner’s analysis mistaken in serious ways, despite being shared by many, the director of the Moscow Center for Research on Post-Industrial Society says; but it is a dangerous distraction that helps strengthen the current powers that be and thus threatens to hold Russia back for an ever longer period in the future.

Pozner’s logic is superficially attractive, but it is wrong because the Russian elite now displays very few of the elements of its Soviet predecessor and many characteristics that predecessor did not share, including the inclination of many of its members to steal for themselves as much as possible.

But there is another logical problem with the position of Pozner and those who share his views. He and they “categorically effuse to recognize that there can exist something which lies beyond the dichotomy of ‘sovietness’ and ‘normality.’” There are many other possibilities and, as the current regime shows, not all of them are good.

In addition to these logical problems, Inozemtsev says, there is another fundamental difficulty with Pozner’s analysis. The latter’s insistence that it is the Sovietness of the elite that is the problem is clearly wrong; the real problem is the Sovietness of the population, as displayed in its submissiveness and nostalgia for an even more iron hand.

This “soviet submissiveness of the people is a much more serious cause of the approaching catastrophe than the ‘sovietness’ of the elite,” the economist says; and “the transition from this submissiveness to some new state of society if it in general occurs is impossible without a revolution.”

Getting this backwards not only is “a dangerous distraction” but it is one that works to the benefit of the current powers that be. “In fact,” however, Russia is rapidly returning not to the late Soviet system but rather to a revival of feudalism run by “a narrow group of people” who have organized things for their own benefit.

This ruling caste wants to make its wealth and power inheritable, something that is possible only if the rest of the population remains submissive as it likely will if things continue as they are, the economist says.  Consequently, time is not on the side of those who want change but on that of those who want things to stay where they are.

“Each new year in our conditions does not increase but rapidly reduces the chances for the transformation of Russia into a contemporary country. To not understand this is to work for the strengthening of the existing regime. And if such a trend now is made sincerely and not just for pay, then that is only an occasion for a new wave of pessimism,” Inozemtsev says.

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