Staunton, December 12 – One of the consequences of the pandemic has been the closing of borders, with the result that there no longer are enough immigrant workers to fill the lowest paying jobs in the Russian Federation. Russian workers aren’t willing to fill them, and some officials are furious at them.
In some places, like Bashkortostan’s Agidel, the mayor has taken to social media to denounce local people who are unwilling to work for what is a minimum wage; and in others, they have used various ruses to avoid questions about low salaries. The response, observers say, is growing anger among ordinary Russians at such officials.
Increasingly, Dmitry Rodionov of Svobodnaya pressa says, it is becoming increasingly obvious that ordinary people and the officials who are supposed to work for them “are speaking different languages” because as the Soviet anecdote put it, “the government lives on a different planet” (svpressa.ru/politic/article/284361/).
Under capitalism, the commentator says, “the universal answer of bureaucrats” to popular complaints about low pay is “if you live poorly, it means you are working poorly; work better and you will have everything you want. The intellectual heights of this [in Russia] was Dmitry Medvedev’s suggestion to teachers [complaining about their pay] was go into business.”
But now, Rodionov says, Russian officials have moved beyond this capitalist perspective to a feudalist one, which insists that ordinary people must work at whatever the capitalists pay and that they have no other option and no hope of getting any help from officials who are a class apart.
A few days ago, he continues, a more junior official told a Moscow conference that the country needs a Soviet-style “anti-parasitism” law so that people will be compelled to work at whatever salaries they are offered and will be punished as criminals if they refuse to do so, thus locking into place current arrangements.
What makes such back-and-forth important is that officials in Putin’s Russia increasingly feel that the population must do whatever officials say however much the people will suffer. And after having had a different experience in recent years, the population is responding by viewing these officials not just as unconcerned about them but hostile to their interests.
And each fresh example of such official contempt will only add to popular anger. Indeed, as the consequences of the pandemic continue, there is a great danger for the Putin government that one of these official remarks will be a trigger of a popular rising much as Marie Antoinette’s comment “let them eat cake” was in France two centuries ago.