Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Kremlin Certain to ‘Win’ Elections But will Lose Russia’s Future, Inozemtsev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 30 – The Kremlin has so “cleansed” the Russian political field that no one, including its most committed opponents, believes it will lose in the upcoming elections. But despite that “victory,” Vladislav Inozemtsev says, the powers that be can suffer a fundamental defeat if their opponents come up with a means to speak collectively for themselves.

            “The contemporary political system of Russia, in the person of both the powers and the opposition, is today restricting the development of the country” because neither is capable of responding to the changes taking place around us, the Russian economist says (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/08/30/ot-edinoi-rossii-k-obshchei).

            Both are too much organized around leaders who are engaged in fighting each other rather than seeking ways to promote national development. But these leaders and their approach are going to be swept away in the coming 10 to 15 years, Inozemtsev suggests, a process that can be accelerated if an all-Russia structure is formed to articulate the interests of the Russian people.

            Technology, including the Internet and blockchain, makes that possible, and they if properly harnessed can fundamentally change the relationship between rulers and ruled and thus the nature of Russia and its future. That requires that Russians recognize that “disloyalty to ‘the powers’ is not equivalent to an anti-social action.”

            The upcoming elections “must become the last” in Russia where political technologists seek to manipulate people to cast ballots the right way. “The Russia of the future needs a society run by young people not held back by the past, a society which doesn’t share the leader-centric approach of power and opposition, and a society ready to respond to challenges” not once every six years but on a continuous basis.

            That is a tall order, he acknowledges, given what the powers have done, pushing Russia not only into the realm of “’post-truth’” but also “’post-politics’” and given that both the powers and the opposition are concerned about their personal struggles for power rather than the policies the country needs and wants.

            Only by shifting the focus away from the current leaders to the population can Russia hope to return to the realm of truth and the realm of politics at the same time.

            Today’s party of power has no other ideology than keeping itself in power so that it can follow the Bukharan precept of “enriching” itself; and the opposition has no program other than ousting the party of power, something that leads many to suspect that it will behave no differently if it does.

            Russian voters today have no good choices. Whatever they do at the ballot box isn’t going to matter that much; and it is wrong to think that Russia is on the cusp of some revolution. None of the preconditions which existed before 1917 or 1991 are in evidence. And even the developments of 2011 have faded.

            But still there may be some basis for optimism. A new generation is on the horizon which wasn’t formed either by the Soviet system or by the anti-Soviet milieu of the 1990s, and the broader world is changing, bringing challenges to Russia that its current regime is increasingly clearly incapable of responding to effectively.

            Young people are going to be an increasingly important part of politics in the future. “The generations not only of those in their 70s but also of those in their 50s are going to be pushed to the side.” By the end of this decade or the beginning of next, Russia will be governed by people not formed by Sovietism.

            This will change the nature of the opposition. Today, “representatives of the opposition sometimes hate one another more than they do not love their opponents in power.” That can’t last for long, no matter how much those currently in power are counting on the divisions of their opponents to save them.

            And third, Russians are increasingly tired of hearing about grand plans and ideas. Instead, they want to hear proposals involving “practical steps which can change their lives here and now.” That will change Russian politics from its “leader-centrism” to one in which people and regions will be represented.

            To move forward, Inozemtsev says, “the country needs a strategy of economic ‘autonomization,’ in which people will have much greater economic freedom” and “a much greater voice in defining the directions of government spending.” That can only happen with power passing from Moscow to the regions.

            And this means as well that Russia “needs a system of direct democracy” something that is now possible because of the Internet. The people and those who speak to it must make decisions rather than the leaders among the powers that be or the possible. “’Effective managers’
 and “’the creative class’” must give way to the people as a collective whole.

            Because that is possible, it is at least conceivable that the September 2021 elections may be the last of their type in Russia, Inozemtsev says. And if that is so, the powers that be will have suffered a real loss; and the people the first of many victories.

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