Thursday, March 28, 2019

A Democratic Revolution will Prevent Not Promote Russia’s Disintegration, Ikhlov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 27 – One of Vladimir Putin’s primary justifications for his authoritarian approach is that it is the only way to prevent the further disintegration of the country centered on Moscow, a view that is accepted by many Russians and by many commentators because of the role democracy played in the demise of the USSR.

            What is especially unfortunate is that many of those who identify themselves as opponents of the Putin regime either accept or at least do not challenge this proposition directly, despite the fact that many countries around the world have become more integrated rather than less as a result of democratization.

            Fortunately, ever more members of the opposition camp in Russia are beginning to make the argument that, as Yevgeny Ikhlov says, there is no reason to expect that Russia will fall into pieces in the event of a democratic revolution despite the scare tactics of the Kremlin. Only by making that argument can the opposition hope to gain more support among Russians.

            Writing on the Kasparov portal, the Moscow commentator makes a five-part argument in support of this argument (

First, “political nations do not fall apart.” Russia does not yet have one because it has not undergone the kind of revolutions that could produce one.  The falling away of “peripheral provinces with ethnic minorities who consider their provinces ‘countries’ cannot be considered a disintegration of the state.”

Second, “a democratic revolution which creates a political nation is a ‘bourgeois’ revolution (in the Marxist tradition), that is, one anti-feudal and anti-absolute in its social-historical essence.”

Third, an anti-feudal revolution is one in which “a ‘vertical’ identity (we are included in a single social order) to a ‘horizontal’ one (e are together because we are part of a cultural-historical unity).”

            Fourth, “even a rightwing nationalist revolution (in other words, ‘fascism’) in a post-Putin Russia ill be anti-feudal and anti-absolutists because it will create a political nation.”

            And fifth, “in the manner of agrarian reforms, the construction of a political nation can occur in to ways, ‘the American’ or ‘the Prussian,” that is, at the outset e ill have either a non-ethnic Russian political nation or an ethnic Russian political nation.”  In either case, disintegration is unlikely.

            Consequently, Ikhlov argues, “after a successful democratic revolution, Russia will not be able to fall into pieces (in the general understanding of this scenario, into several Russian states included or not in some kind of confederation); and even a hypothetical civil war” would ultimately unify rather than divide the nation.

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