Staunton, May 6 – Everyone can see that Russia desperately needs a party of the left, one that combines the traditional goals of social democracy with a commitment to reaching out to the emergence of new groups that the current political system either ignores or mistreats, Vladislav Inozemtsev says.
But it doesn’t have such a party, given that the KPRF spends more time regretting the demise of the USSR than in fighting for things like overcoming poverty, raising incomes, and funding the government through progressive taxation. Instead, it is a self-proclaimed workers opposition that is represented by businessmen and works with the incumbent regime.
Were such a genuinely left-wing party to emerge, the Russian economist and commentator says, it would have a great chance to compete with and even defeat Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia Party because it would appeal to such a large swath of Russian society (vtimes.io/2021/05/06/o-tupike-v-levom-dvizhenii-a4877).
Tragically, “the present-day Russian communist party, the legal successor of the CPSU, is clearly turned to the past and not the future and as a result is not capable of becoming such a force.” To change that, it must both recover its own class interest roots and expand them as have left-of-center parties in Western countries.
In the West, Inozemtsev says, the leftist movement has ever more clearly been transformed “into a left-radical” direction, one that “however strange it may seem” combines in itself the old class interests with “the principles of libertarianism” which are supported by the most creative elements of society who don’t work for huge bureaucracies but on their own.
The views of this movement are thus diametrically at odds with those of the KPRF which to this day “occupies left-conservative positions and tries to assert its monopoly on the basis of an apology for Soviet paternalistic traditions and expectations,” a position that attracts ever fewer people because society is moving in a different direction.
“If one simplifies the situation,” Inozemtsev says, “one can say that a significant part of Western leftists either call for the affirmation of the rights of individual workers … or for the possibility of spreading certain fundamental social subsidies to all members of society.” This is what animates them but not the KPRF.
Moreover, “if in the majority of the countries of the world, the present-day leftists try to actively recruit into their ranks those who for one or another reason want to receive from society a significant portion of the national wealth … in Russia, ‘the defenders of the toilers’ are not prepared to struggle even for a better share” to those who create this wealth.
“However one views contemporary Western leftists,” he continues, “they are presenting ever more active challenges to the political establishment, but Russian communists are satisfied with the role of official critics of the powers that be and are in no way dangerous for the latter.” Indeed, they make the situation of those in power easier.
Some rising members of the KPRF can see this and want change, but the party bosses oppose that and have been working hard to marginalize such people, Inozemtsev says. Not only does the KPRF not fulfill traditional left-of-center goals, but it does little or nothing to draw to its batter various minorities who have suffered.
In the West, parties on the left appeal not only to those with lower incomes but to immigrants, including illegal ones, historically excluded and mistreated ethnic and religious minorities, and even people with non-traditional sexual orientations. But there is none of that in Russia.
Until that changes, Russia will not have a vigorous left-of-center party; and until such a party emerges, Russia’s future will be far less bright than would otherwise be the case.