Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Russia and the West Soon Will Be Moving Leftward, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 28 – Many commentators now talk about the ways in which Russia and the West are moving to the right, with the former seeking to recover the Soviet past and the latter the unreconstructed capitalism of the past, but that “rightist wave” in both cases will soon be overwhelmed by a new and much-longer-lasting leftward “tsunami.”

            In a Republic commentary today, the London-based Russian analyst says this reflects trends inside Russia and the West but even more the interconnection of the two, an interconnection that is often not understood given all the talk about how isolated Russia is as a result of its own efforts and those of others (

            Most discussion about Russia’s “isolation from the rest of the world” only partially conceal “the close, essential and uninterrupted links of Russia with the world, which pass through all its history and play in it a defining role,” Pastukhov continues.

            “Russia was and remains a significant part of the European cultural eco-system, and all of the essential vacillations and vibrations of the latter are reflected in its fate. More than that, being one of the weakest places of this eco-system, it picks up this vacillations and vibrations earlier than others” and sometimes manifests them in more extreme forms.

            It is thus important to recognize that “the powerful and various processes observed in Russia since the beginning of the ‘00s also are not only a response to strictly domestic challenges but also reflect certain more common world-wide tendencies, perhaps somewhat grotesquely designated as a new historical trend.”

            This trend, of course, is usually called “the rightist wave” and includes the growth of rightwing populists in Europe, Brexit in the UK, Trumpism in the US, and “finally the victory of the rightwing candidate in Brazil,” Passtukhov says.

            “What do all these various phenomena have in common? Above all, a bet on ‘good’ old nationalism and hostility to globalism which until recently was much loved.”  Russia’s turn to the past is very much part of this, a reaction against globalism and a retreat into a past that never was and never will be restored.

            Indeed, Pastukhov suggests, both in Russia and the West, the leaders of this trend “resemble not architects but archaeologists.” And there are powerful forces now working that make it almost impossible that they will become more than that.

            “There are serious reasons to suppose,” the analyst says, “that the growth economy has exhausted itself, at least at this stage of human history.” Populism and the retreat into the past are a protest against this. But what this suggests is that the world for quite a long period may be mired in the new middle ages, predicted by Berdyaev.”

            If that is the case, Pastukhov says, then the need will arise to revise “almost all existing paradigms but in no way in the direction of ‘classical capitalism … but toward a rejection of classical capitalism and a transition to greater state regulation and to still more serious international integration – that is, to move in a leftward direction.”

            Thus “a paradoxical situation has arisen: the world economy is obviously moving to the left,” but political leaders are moving in the opposition direction, in response less to this underlying trend than to the behavior of those who served as the cheerleaders of globalization since the end of the 1980s.

            Today, he continues, “we are paying with Trump and Brexit for the dictatorship of political correctness and for liberal bolshevism which transformed the demands of minorities into imperatives for the majority.  Very rapidly was passed the point at which oppressed minorities… became a terrible force,” offending majorities who are now responding in kind.

            But this will not last because it is not rooted in the underlying economic reality, the commentator says. “’The right wave’ is a temporary phenomenon. It is a correction in the political market. It does not respect the essence of processes taking place and will not reflect them. It cleanses the way of ‘the left wave’ which was … changed the entire … landscape.”

            What is coming, Pastukhov says, “will be a really long night, and it is uncleaer whether we will see at the dawn capitalism as we knew it at the beginning of modern times or whether this will be an entirely different historical formation.”

            If the world does survive, it will be “a much harsher one than today with government interference in the economy” and where the distribution of resources will play a role equal to or greater than their production, and one in which cooperation among states and between governments and businesses will be required in order to survive.

            The risks of today’s “’temporary’ ‘right wave’” are so great that they may involve a major war. “Moreover, after this ‘right wave,’ there may follow ‘a left wave’ ...  As a result, the world will remain in a zone of quite lengthy turbulence, from which it will be difficult to escape without losses and the growth of authoritarianism not only in Russia.

            And Pastukhov concludes: “The world’s economic and political systems are completing a complex and gigantic shift to the left,” one obscured by a temporary shift to the right. Those who want to understand the future must look beyond that and must stop separating Russia out from this broader trend.

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