Saturday, November 17, 2018

Russians’ Faith in ‘Good Tsar’ Undercuts Their Faith in Themselves, Milin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 17 – Most Russians still believe that the state has an existence independent of its officials and capable of magically transforming the situation if at the top there is “a good tsar” who can be counted on despite everything to put things in order as those expressing this faith want, according to commentator Dmitry Milin.

            Some on the left want that leader to be “’a new Stalin’” who will “correct everything” while others on the right want a new Lee Kuan Yew or “even a Pinochet” who will “correct everything” but in a different direction, he continues (

            “Many believe,” Milin argues, “that the state has some kind of independent subjecthood, separate from the interests of those who work for it,” many of whom are thieves or worse, and that this state as manifested in its leader who is viewed as “a good tsar” has the ability to “foresee the future” and “the ability to achieve transformations.”

                But that isn’t so, he says.  “The state is only the collection of officials and   who make it up and whose qualities are well known to all who encounter them in their daily life.” Unfortunately, believing the state capable of transforming everything “undercuts what is most important – faith in oneself and one’s ability to change one’s own life and those around him.”

            Despite what many Russians believe, Milin continues, there simply aren’t any “brilliant politicians” capable of promoting change “without mass social support and the main thing, the active and constructive participation of a significant part of society to change something.”

            One would like to ask the believers in the all-powerful and good state the following: “’Do you believe that all these selfish officials and siloviki will suddenly be transformed and begin to work not for their own ‘pockets’ but for your good?’”  And do you think that it would be possible to replace all of the officials so the good tsar could do that?

            Milin says he anticipates that those asked that question would respond with one of their own: “’Won’t a couple or three million honest people be found who can replace all these bureaucrats and siloviki?’” The answer is that such people exist but if they are all moved into the government, the rest of the country will suffer.

                Given that, he continues, the only way forward is to reduce the size of the government by reducing its role in the economy and society so that others can do the right thing independently of the government.  That would allow taxes to be cut and entrepreneurs and others to achieve more and receive more for their efforts.

            But for that transformation to happen, Milin says, Russians must stop waiting for the state to solve all their problems and realize that the only people who can are those who they see each morning in the mirror.  Those people “can change the world for the better. The state in the form of its bureaucrats and siloviki can’t.”

            In such a Russia, workers, engineers and scholars capable of doing something will be paid more than siloviki and bureaucrats who can’t.  And that will mean that “Russia will return but not as a state dangerous to the entire world but a peaceful one with ‘soft power’ and a powerful economy, like the EU or China.”

            The best graduates of the best schools will become engineers or doctors or scholars; they won’t pursue jobs in the government because those jobs won’t continue to pay more than those in other sectors.  But of course, that will be in the future. As for now, the situation is not promising at all, Milin concludes. 

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