Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Russia to Face New Clashes Between Center and Periphery and Labor and Capital, Gallyamov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 4 – Politics in Russia today, as a result of the increasing authoritarianism of the Putin regime, is exclusively a conflict between the powers and the opposition, Abbas Gallyamov says. But with the weakening of that regime or Putin’s departure, two other, larger clashes are certain to re-emerge with a vengeance.

            These are, the former Putin speechwriter and current commentator continues, the clash between the increasingly hated center and the periphery and that between those who own or control the economy (the capitalists) and those who employed by them (the workers) (  

            When that happens, politics will open up, with old forces compelled either to adapt or pushed into the margins, and new ones entering political life in Moscow and elsewhere, something that means those who are now part of the basic political divide, the regime and the self-described opposition, are likely to be far less significant than they and many others believe.

            The conflict between Moscow and the periphery will break out with new intensity because of “the absurd super-concentration” of power in the country as a result of Putin’s “making a fetish” out of “’restoring the power vertical,’” Gallyamov says, something that blocks any chance of resolving this underlying conflict easily.

            “Anti-Moscow attitudes have become one of the dominant aspects of mass consciousness in areas far from the capital,” and “in the non-Russian republics, dissatisfactions with the center which has been absorbing everything has taken on the form of ethnic unity. The politicization of this complex of problems is inevitable.”

            That means, Gallyamov says, that ahead lies “a new federalization and a new 1990s,” with the center weakening and “the regions again ‘taking as much sovereignty as they can swallow.’” Those in the Putin regime who are inclined to play this factor will exacerbate it; those who oppose will be swept away.

            “Russia’s other and no less sharp problem is the gap in incomes between rich and poor,” the commentator says. “For a country which has been formed on the basis of ideals of social justice this is a potential bomb.” Now, the powers defend capital; but with their weakening, the clash between capitalists and workers will expand beyond the capacity of the political system.

            In both cases, Gallyamov continues, “one must remember that the de-legitimation of the ruling regime will not lead to the automatic appearance of an alternative source of legitimate decisions.” That is all the more so in Russia’s case because Putin’s destruction of many institutions means there are fewer alternatives available.

            As a result, the chaos during the search for them almost certainly will be profound and last a long time; and that, Gallyamov argues, is the real legacy of the Putin years.

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