Saturday, August 17, 2019

After Putin, National Bolshevism will Continue Despite Another Bout of False Liberalization, Ivanov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 15 – After Vladimir Putin passes from the scene, Mikhail Ivanov says in an essay for the Riga-based Russian conservative Harbin portal, neo-Marxism is likely to take center stage for awhile but do little to change the national Bolshevik system that has dominated Russia since 1917.

            He says that this is “no secret” among “the majority of White Russian and the pro-European inclined rightists” because they know that “the anti-Russian, anti-European and on the whole ‘anti-White’ system founded by the Bolsheviks after October 1917 and preserved to this day” isn’t going to be easily dispensed with (

            That system has put down such deep roots and raised more than one generation of people, he argues,  that escaping from it “under current conditions is almost impossible and it is improbable that it will go away completely” even if it is shaken by changes in the composition of people in power in the Kremlin.

            “This system will change only its wrappings, leaving unchanged the rotting candy inside” -- although the author says he would very much like to use another less polite term. With each new wrapper, some will be deceived and see it as a change to welcome or oppose; but those who see what is really inside will remain in relationship to it as they were.

            According to Ivanov, the next new “packaging will again involve a playing with ‘liberalism’ and ‘democracy’ as in the 1990s. Only in contrast to the 1990s, the future ‘liberalism’ and ‘democracy’ will have a clear neo-Marxist coloration.” It won’t matter very much who is the nominal leader because the system will in fact continue.

             “Two forces which form the skeleton of the present-day neo-Bolshevism system – the members of United Russia and the siloviki” will continue to dominate things albeit under different names. And any lustration, if it happens at all, “will be extremely superficial and purely for show,” the Harbin writer says. 

The system understands or should, Ivanov says, “that the quicker such a synthesis takes place, the fewer changes there will be that the cursed people will come out into the streets with cobblestones or Molotov cocktails with all the ensuing and irreversible consequences from such a development.”

            The West will be charmed by the new packaging of “’the bright Russia of the future’” because it will play to all the themes liberals in the West care about – “tolerance, gay rights, feminism, and so on” – without touching the fundamental property and power relations of Russian society.

            “Alas,” Ivanov says, “I don’t see any political force which could oppose this trend and take power into its own hands.” The only way forward is to articulate a set of ideas that could capture the population, including “tough anti-communism, anti-neo-Marxism, and extremely tough anti-imperialism.”  Such a combination would have a chance to produce a right of center but European-oriented Russia.

            That probably won’t happen, he suggests, and so Russia will go through another cycle of playing at democracy but continuing to be what it has been, one that will deceive many inside the country and out and only make the situation worse for both.

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