Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Kremlin Conducting Overt and Covert Campaign against Leftist Groups, Kagarlitsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 28 – The Putin regime has launched an overt and a covert campaign against the left, not only blocking candidates from the KPRF from running for the Duma but also attacking leftist groups like those associated with the Rabkor portal, a follow on to Kremlin attacks on the Navalny movement, Boris Kagarlitsky says.

            Kagarlitsky, a prominent left-wing commentator who serves as editor of the Rabkor, says he and his colleagues have been attacked as a criminal group by government media and that his media group has lost its lease because of pressure officials put on its landlord (mbk-news.appspot.com/sences/glavred-rabkora-boris-kagarlitskij/).

            Government commentators are attacking him and his group for their involvement in politics, but “neither I, not any of our staff are members of any party. The position of Rabkor is very specific: we do not support any parties, but we support candidates whom we consider left of center, progressive and worthy of election.”

            According to Kagarlitsky, “there are no limits” to what the powers that be may do. That represents a fundamental change from Surkov’s “administered democracy” when there were more or less clear rules for how political activists could behave. Those who violated them suffered. Now anyone in the opposition can suffer because there are no limiting rules.

            The powers that be want to destroy any political structure that may speak against the rulers, failing that by doing so, they are harming themselves because there will be no one to channel or control spontaneous expressions of anger. And such spontaneous protests will be the death of the regime.

            Kagarlitsky says the Kremlin has turned on the left because only the left is capable of coming up with programs that answer the demand of the population for social justice. But the left must overcome its current party divisions either by establishing a coalition or a new party, and it must stop acting as if “nostalgia for the Soviet Union” is a program. It isn’t and won’t work.

            Russia today needs a new deal like the one FDR offered the Americans. And ideas for that will come out of left-of-center journalism. Hence the attacks on internet portals like the one he edits. But among the journalists on the left, there is much from Marxism that can help develop a program, albeit in a very different situation than Marx himself talked about.

            Karl Marx argued that a revolution would occur when social and economic change, on the one hand, and political arrangements, on the other, got out of whack because the first advanced faster than the second. But in Russia, there is now a unique and radically different situation, one in which one must cope with competitive degradation.

            “Society is degrading, the economy is degrading, and the powers are also degrading. But the paradox,” Kagarlitsky says, is that “the powers are degrading much faster than society.” This is a contradiction that can produce a revolution, but it is a contradiction that has arisen for exactly the opposite direction of development than Marx described.

            The state will deploy its coercive resources to keep power, but the objective realities of the situation will lead to its collapse. Kagarlitsky says he likes to recall the old Odessa joke in which a man asks if he turns at the next left will there be the opera. A resident says that the opera will still be there whether he makes the turn or not.

            The same thing can be said of Russia today.   

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