Friday, September 28, 2018

Stupidity and Failure ‘the New Normal’ of the Self-Destructive Russian State, Shevtsova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 27 – The number of stupidities and failures of the Russian state is increasing so rapidly and the efforts of the authorities to correct any one of them are so transparently counter-productive, Liliya Shevtsova says, that it is time to stop “moaning” and recognize that this is “the new normal” for the Russian state.

            What “we see,” the Russian commentator continues, is the result of a regime that has made its own reproduction and survival an end in itself and thus has engaged in “the negative selection of the elite on the basis of loyalty” rather than competence and effectiveness (

                This is no ordinary crisis, Shevtsova says. Were it so, then society would be exploring new decisions and seeking new people to make them.  But that isn’t happening, and as a result, “society together with its super-structure is beginning to rot” and that trend in turn is “not allowing the country to find the strength for change.” 

            As a result, the rulers can continue to “hobble on.” “There are now mass protests. And those which do occur can be ignored or crushed.” But nonetheless things are taking a serious turn: “The powers that be, striving to ensure that they remain in power forever, are destroying the state.”  Indeed, “we’ve reached a point where the ruling class is destroying statehood.” 

            “Having outsourced the use of force to volunteer oprichniki, the powers are depriving the state of its most important characteristic – a monopoly on the use of violence. Having made Russia a worldwide scarecrow, they have undermined the international status of the state and the external environment of its existence,” Shevtsova says.

            “Having shifted from strategic planning inn favor of tactical maneuvers, the authorities have deprived the state of the ability to make progress. Having made the state a weapon of clan rule, they have undermined stability, forcing society to defend its rights ‘via the street,’” the commentator argues.

            And “finally by destroying institutions and making rule of the game relative … the powers that be are leading the country into the state where everything is permitted. When that begins, there won’t be any salvation for anyone.”

             Those in the Kremlin almost certainly understand that this is where they are leading Russia, but “they are not able to stop themselves.”  And within living memory, they have a model of what they are doing and what it may mean.

            “In 1991,” Shevtsova concludes, “autocracy survived by throwing the Soviet state into the trash bin. Today, autocracy is attempting to survive” by substituting a “cardboard” model for “the post-Soviet state” and singing “songs about state power.” This strategy will work for a time, but it carries with it the seeds of its own destruction.   

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