Sunday, October 20, 2019

When Countries Adopt Ideologies Named for Their Rulers, It Confirms They Aren’t Free, Illarionov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 17 -- Vladislav Surkv’s suggestion that Putinism as a form of governance says more than he intends, Andrey Illarionov says, because when the name of a leader becomes attached to a system, as with Stalinism, Hitlerism, and now Putinism, that in itself is a clear sign these systems aren’t democratic or free.

            Normal, that is democratic, regimes, “do not take the names” of those in power, even if such individuals are associated with a particular set of ideas like Reaganism or Thatcherism, the Russian commentator continues ( Only dictatorial ones do that. 

            “A term ending in -ism” referring to a concept or doctrine “can have any connotation,” Illarionov says, “positive, negative or neutral,” but when such a term is used to describe a method of rule, “then in fact it almost always acquires a negative connotation as with Bnapartism, Stalinism, Hitlerism, Maoism, Brezhnevism, Yeltsinism, or, now, Putinism.

            The reason for that is that such regime are invariably associated with one or another limitation of individual rights and freedoms that represent in the minds of citizens “undesirable deviations from natural (ideal, liberal) political (state) practice characteristic of a free political system and therefore they acquire a negative connotation.”

            It is worth noting, Illarionov continues, that “despite the fact that there have existed and d exist many varieties of free (liberal-democratic) political regime, not one f them ever has taken as its own name the name of any political (state) actor regardless of his (her) contribution to the creation of that regime.”

            And it is also worth pointing out, he says, that “in Russian, such terms as Stalinism, Brezhnevism, Yeltsinism and Putinism which designate various forms of unfree and semi-free political regimes are firmly established,” while attempts by Aleksandr Zinovyev and others to have “Gorbachevism” adopted have not been accepted.

            Thus, the linking of a name to a political system represents “a sensitive tuning fork which automatically identifies the intentional and systemic violations by such a regime of the natural rights and freedoms of citizens and at the same time identifies the guilty party in this regard by name.”

            As many observers have noted in the past, Illarionov notes in conclusion, “the freest political regimes are those in which government leaders do not interfere with the lives of citizens and the citizens do not remember (or even know) the names of their presidents and prime ministers.” 

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