Staunton, June 27 – It has become a commonplace in most analyses about the future of Russia that nothing major will happen until latent divisions within the Putin elite break into the open, much as divisions within the Soviet elite at the end of the 1980s did and led to the demise of the Soviet system.
But if such a division is a precondition for major change, Aleksandr Skobov says, then there is not going to be “a new thaw,” “a new perestroika” or “a new détente” because the members of Putin’s elite unlike those in the late Soviet period have all achieved “everything they dreamed about” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5D1457FBE8745).
As Russian commentator Andrey Piontkovsky pointed out long ago, the Moscow analyst says, “the perestroika split of the Soviet nomenklatura elite became possible because a significant part of it had a powerful stimulus for reform: the desire to live the way Western elites” do in their everyday lives.
According to Skobov, “the present-day masters of Russia are people who have achieved all they could have dreamed of.” Why would any of them want change? And why would they not be concerned first of all in maintaining the system that has made the achievement of that goal possible for them?
Some observers “hope for a revolt of the financial-industrial magnates (the oligarchs) who are dissatisfied that the current regime significantly limits their freedom of disposing their own financial-industrial resoures,” a hope that rests on “a right liberal myth” that major property owners will rise up “if the state limits their entrepreneurial activity.” But history shows that is rarely true.
“Under Hitler,” Skobov continues, “entrepreneurial freedom was limited to an incomparably greater degree than under Putin. All financial-industrial magnates worked under the Nazi ‘Gosplan’ which was no less a Gosplan than its Soviet counterpart. And now signs of free thinking emerged” from that quarter.
Some members of the old Prussian military caste did rise up against Hitler, but not the business community. There was one exception: Thyssen, who fled to France and played the role of “a German Prince Kurbsky.” But after Hitler occupied France, he had Thyssen seized and put in a concentration camp where he remained “an outcast” for the business elite.
“In limiting the entrepreneurial freedom of the major owners, Hitler’s regime did not at any point touch the level and form of their ‘personal consumption,’” Skobov says. Putin has done the same – and he can expect the same lack of any challenge from that quarter whatever the commentators say.