Saturday, May 23, 2020

Russia has Its Own Distinctive but Still Weak ‘Deep State,’ Khaldey Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 21 --  Like almost every other country, the Russian Federation has a deep state, “the political nucleus of the ruling class,” which consists of officials who have been working for a long time and promoting their interests and those of the classes and strata from which they spring often against the expressed will of rulers and ruled, Aleksandr Khaldey says.

            Because a deep state can exist only where there are classes at least partially independent of the state, this phenomenon does not exist under socialism, the Russian commentator says, but where private or feudal property relations exist, it will inevitably arise because as Karl Marx observed ‘the bureaucracy privatizes the state” (

            For those who are part of the deep state, Khaldey continues, “the success of the state becomes the personal success of the bureaucracy” who seek to direct the state so that its interests and values dominate regardless of the interests and values of anyone else, often leading to a sharp break between proclaimed policy and real policy.

            The main problem of the deep state in Russia is that “Russian capitalism is very weak,” he says. It can lobby but it cannot make demands of the kinds that major corporations in the US make on their agents in place within the federal government.  Gazprom and Rosneft might appear to have that power, but alone they cannot yet create a full-fledged “deep state a la russe.”

            For a genuine deep state to emerge in Russia, the country will need its own General Motors and General Electrics,” whose leaders can say as the head of GM once did “what is good for General Motors is good for the US.”  That is the sign that a genuine and powerful deep state has been formed.

            “Our Franco-Japanese AvtoVAZ or Perm Motor Factory still has not matured to the point that they can make such declarations,” Khaldey says. A major reason for that is that the financial requirements of the major Russian enterprises are currently met not by the Russian state and market alone but only with foreign help.

            According to the commentator, “the deep state in such conditions will either be a branch of a foreign deep state or a divided community where those concerned with sovereignty compete with those a comprador element” prepared to serve outside interests. That is the stage at which the deep state in Russia now is.

            Russia can’t do without foreign financing and export earnings, Khaldey argues; and that means the rulers must work to ensure that the financial system is brought under the control of the leadership of the country so that the Russian deep state does not become a Trojan horse used against Russian interests.

            “The Russian imperial project is a historical inevitability,” he continues; “and this means a Russian deep state is inevitable as well. Its founding fathers even now are toiling at full speed, and the fruits of their efforts are becoming visible in the new generation of politicians” in the Russian Federation.

            The current transition “in essence” is part of the process of establishing Russia’s own deep state, something the country cannot avoid but whose rulers must ensure doesn’t compromise Russian national interests.

                Khaldey’s remarks are important not only because it shows that ever more people in Russia accept the idea that that country has a deep state but also because it indicates that they see its development as something positive, as long as the Russian deep state is sovereign and not dependent on foreign centers of economic and political power.

            Given Putin’s efforts to cut off such foreign influences, Khaldey’s article may represent an effort to provide an intellectual framework for something with decidedly more political consequences. It could easily provide the basis for a selective purge of the upper reaches of the Russian state to make sure its deep state is truly Russian.

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