Monday, April 30, 2018

‘Russia is Escaping from the State’s Control and the State is Panicking,’ Kordonsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 30 – In the course of a wide-ranging interview published in Kazan’s Business-Gazeta today, Moscow sociologist Simon Kordonsky says that Russia is in “an interesting situation: there is the state and there is the country.” The country is generating many things on its own, but the state views them as a threat.

            To counter these developments, he says, “the state creates simulacra of those processes in order to organize them and gradually draw them into itself. A new state reality arises, which pretends to be a natural process” but is really a fraud. “The country is coming out from under the state’s control, and the state is panicking” (

            Vladimir Putin isn’t mediating between the state and the country, Kordonsky says. He makes decisions, and a primary basis of his support is that people fear if he suddenly decides to leave the scene no one will be in a position to determine the flow of resources and everything will collapse.

“Putin does not express the interests of the bureaucrats,” he continues, “because [Russia] doesn’t have any. They exist in a democratic society where business is separate from power. With us the situation is different: the economy is completely intertwined with the state, and therefore we do not have a bureaucracy.”

The foreign threat that Putin uses to mobilize people is completely invented, Kordonsky says. “In fact, no one considers us an enemy. Count the frequency of references to Russia in the Western press. For weeks at a time, no one remembers us at all … In fact, we aren’t needed by anyone” – and that is something Putin and his regime can’t tolerate.

Speaking about the future of the non-Russian republics, Kordonsky suggests they are doomed. “The national-territorial structures inherited by us from the USSR do not fit into the current administrative-territorial structure which has already been formed” in the Russian Federation.

“Consequently,” he says, “it is necessary to destroy the national-territorial structure and bring the structure of the country into a single unity. I think that the final resource of this process will be the formation of cultural autonomies and the separation of the national from the economic and administrative-political.”

This process, Kordonsky argues, “is needed for the preservation of the state. I don’t know in what other country one could find such a national-territorial system. It seems to be Russia’s is unique given that it has an eight-level hierarchy. This is too much for a country. In the United States, there are only five levels.”

As for the “ethno-stratas of Tatars and Bashkirs,” a phenomenon that is also part of the Soviet heritage, they state can’t tolerate their continued independence of action.  “They were created in the framework of Leninist-Stalinist nationality policy, and now they are beginning to live their own lives, pretending to a role of self-standing political nations.”

The process of destroying the non-Russian republics may lead to “revolts,” Kordonsky says. “Revolts after all are natural in the absence of a political structure for the resolution of different interests. But they are situational and local, and the state has learned how to struggle with them.” If things get bad, Moscow will employ all the force at its command.

“Ethno-stratas will be preserved as cultural autonomies but not as political units,” he argues. Those who think otherwise are being extremely unrealistic.

            Kordonsky makes a large number of other intriguing comments. Among the most interesting are:

·         “Our futurologists specialize in anti-utopias because they get more money for coming up with things that scare people.”

·         In Russia, “classes in the former sense do not exist.  There are only strata and proto-strata” within which there are various levels of consumption. 

·         “Classes are divided according to the level of consumption, but strata by the level of their importance for the state. This is a difference in principle. Strata are needed for the neutralization of threats: If there is a foreign threat, a professional strong army appears. If there is a domestic one, the Russian Guard appears.”

·         “These proto-strata are only very slowly taking shape as strata because this is a process which takes a generation.”

·         “The rebirth of the church is a material form of repentance;” it doesn’t reflect a religious revival because “the majority of ordinary parishioners do not have this feeling.”

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