Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Russians Adjust to Increasing Poverty like Frogs to Gradually Warming Water, Kirillova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 23 – It has long been claimed that a frog who might jump out of a port of boiling water will stay quietly in a gradually warming pot, even though as a result, he will end up dead.  In a new commentary, Kseniya Kirillova suggests that Russians are adapting to gradually increasing poverty in their country much like the frog in gradually warming water.

            The Kremlin’s playing at being a super power, the US-based Russian commentator says, has led to a situation in which “Russians are beginning to die,” not only in combat but from diseases for which they no longer have any medicines whose import Moscow has banned (nr2.com.ua/blogs/Ksenija_Kirillova/Kak-rossiyane-privykayut-k-nishchete-116515.html).

            In Kurgan, for example, people are suffering from the flu because there is no Tamiflu. People are desperately trying to find medications; but despite their suffering, Ekaterinburg resident Vera Kuznetsov says, “there are still no protest attitudes in the city” or the region. Others report a similar pattern.

            Indeed, their majority, Kirillova continues, they report that as patriotic feelings have fallen off since Crimea, what has taken their place is “silent dissatisfaction, apathy, and at the same time efforts to adapt to the new conditions of growing poverty and increasing numbers of deficit items.

            What that means is this: Russians are ever less inclined to blame their misfortunes on the US or the West; but they still have not reached the point of criticizing directly their own government let alone protesting against it.  “The majority view the situation as natural” on the basis of the principle that “nothing depends on us,” Urals resident Yury Sibiryanov says.

            And that has resulted in a change in what the government’s propagandists are required to do. No longer is it enough for them to blame some outside actor; instead, they seek to provide explanations why, however much people may be suffering as a result of this or that decision, that the decision that was taken was the only possible one.

            If Russians believe that there was no other choice and they accept the idea that it is impossible to change anything anyway, Kirillova continues, then adaptation to the existing situation is another form of self-preservation.” That is reasonable for most people most of the time, but it can exert a deadening effect on those who may want to change things.

            “Unfortunately,” she says, “the majority of Russians, most often because of irresponsibility, inertia or a deep fear before the pitiless and unpredictable state machine are leading to the atrophy of all instincts except conformism.”

            “A citizen of a totalitarian state is convinced that he will not be able to change anything and does not have the right to try.” What he requires is “the illusion of comfort and stability, … the only compensation for unfreedom and rightlessness [and] the last bastion he can run to from a frightening reality.”

            And that need has a broader set of consequences as well: “The work of all analytic and media structures in such a country is directed not at the solution of problems but at explaining why their appearance is a sign of ‘normality’” and therefore something that people must simply come to terms with.

            But as conditions deteriorate, the question that arises is this, Kirillova points out. “What in the final analysis will turn out to be stronger: the need of the majority of the people to see the restoration of even relative psychological comfort … or more materialistic needs for the improvement of living conditions and the preservation of their own lives?”

            And that in turn means that like the frog, Russians are more likely to choose the former if conditions do not get worse too fast but may choose the latter if they conclude that the situation is deteriorating more rapidly than they can accept official explanations for.

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