Staunton, June 13 – Either because their own mental arrangements preclude it or because they simply don’t want to admit the obvious, even “realist” analysts can’t or don’t want to admit that what the Kremlin is doing is not just solving this or that task but shifting the entire political system from authoritarianism to totalitarianism, Aleksandr Skobov says.
“They do not see or don’t want to see” what is happening because they think in categories quite unlike those of the Kremlin rulers, “purely pragmatic and utilitarian” ones that lead them to analyze the situation in ways that are quite at odds with the program Putin and his regime are pursuing, the Russian analyst says (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=60C5E1C22871D).
Some of these analysts have even managed to convince themselves that the Putin hierarchy does not have a vision of the future, Skobov continues. But in fact, it has one: it wants a situation in which there is no opposition to anything the state wants to do. “This is its image of the future,” and it is pursuing it in a consistent way.
Those who oppose the Putin system must be clear-eyed about this, and they must be willing to be as tough as the Kremlin in promoting the ideals of freedom and democracy. Some may do this from abroad by emigrating, but victory over Putinism will happen only if there is “a partisan army of resistance” to what the Kremlin leader is doing.
That “partisan army” may win out on its own, or it may come to victory with the help of the West. But the West will not be able to save Russia if Russians opposed to Putinism do not organize themselves to defeat the regime now ruling over them ideologically as well as practically, Skobov says.
“The Putin elite, dreaming about unlimited and uncontrolled power has always hated democratic freedoms which limit any power,” the commentator says. It has moved against the opposition as an acceptable form of activity, and now it is moving against the entire society because anyone can be denounced as a foreign agent.
By its recent moves, “the Putin government on a completely official level considers opposition activity as such as an attempt to overthrow the constitutional system” and thus subject to its “legal” sanctions, both collectively and individually. “But this isn’t all.” The latest “laws” allow for persecuting not just activism but any dissent “as such.”
Totalitarianism, Skobov reminds, is “not just formal or de facto prohibition of organized opposition activity and in general of open expressions of disagreement. It in the first instance is a move from ‘authoritarian de-politicization’ to political mobilization of society in support of the powers and participation in their measures.” Thus, keeping quiet is no longer enough.
The regime is also focused on ensuring itself against divisions within the elites by enforcing the rule that those who wish to join and remain in the elite must be willing to take part in the misdeeds of the regime itself. Otherwise, they will be ousted, but by taking part, they will be complicit and have nowhere to go.
“Putin’s ‘new totalitarianism’ is young and only gathering force,” and it is experimenting with means to put it in place. But already it has made arrangements that mean it won’t be overturned by elections it organizes. “It must be defeated spiritually,” and that requires an opposition “no less harsh” or irreconcilable than the regime itself.
The opposition must reject completely “the values of Putinism.” It must promote the values of freedom and justice. It must clearly declare that Putinism is a criminal ideology and a criminal state. It must hold out the dream of liberation from that regime. And it must be prepared to make real sacrifices to achieve that end.
“No one has the right to condemn anyone who prefers emigration to prison,” Skobov says. Deciding to go abroad does not by itself mean “either betrayal or capitulation.” Much can be done from there. “But all the opposition cannot emigrate. Some must remain. And it is very important that among them are found those who refuse to lay down their arms.”
They must “continue organized activity despite the direct threat of prison.” They must make “the values of the opposition real values. They must not be dissuaded from destroying the spiritual underpinnings of the regime. And they must be clear that “the strength of values is not just in the number of those who support them but in the firmness of those who insist upon them.”
“It is possible that the armies of the opposition who go abroad will be able to return to the country only when resistance to the Putin dictatorship will be destroyed by the unified forces of world civilization,” Skobov says. “And then the army of the opposition will return to Russian on Abrams tanks.”
Whether these are “real or symbolic is not important,” this very brave and far-sighted analyst concludes. “But this force will not be able to build a new Russia if in Russia itself it does not meet another, partisan, army of spiritual Resistance to the dictatorship.”