Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Rise of Putin’s ‘Totalitarian Middle Class’ Leaves Little Place for Surkov, Shusharin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 28 – After many years, Vladislav Surkov, author and popularizer of terms like “the long state,” “the deep people,” and “Putinism,” has “ceased to be the main ideologue of the regime,” Dmitry Shusharin says, the result of the decline in importance of his customary audience and the rise, as in Germany in the 1930s, of a new “totalitarian middle class.”

            A figure of the 1990s with a focus on the urban nouveau riche, Surkov spoke their language and reflected their contempt for the broad Russian masses, the Moscow political analyst says (newizv.ru/article/general/27-07-2021/ne-na-teh-postavil-pochemu-vladislav-surkov-perestal-byt-glavnym-ideologom-rezhima).

            Such attitudes and appealing to such groups were important for the Kremlin as long as the urban population was viewed as an essential player; but “the results of the 2018 elections showed” that was no longer the case and that contempt for “the deep people” was no longer politically viable given that they have become the foundation of the Putin regime.

            The situation, Shusharin says, “is the same as was the case in Germany in the early 1930s. The middle urban strata are in favor of Putin and his pursuit of Russian greatness and world domination … This is not equivalent to small and mid-sized businesses … This is Putin’s totalitarian middle class.”

            In this situation, expressions of contempt for such people no longer is effective or politically useful to the Kremlin, the commentator says. In brief, the political constellation of Russia has changed; and the one that Surkov spoke to and was effective in influencing no longer exists.

            Russia is moving ever more rapidly toward mobilization and militarism and to the isolation of its elite from world elites. And the powers that be don’t need any reserve support that Surkov and his audience might provide.  Surkov’s efforts to create “a kind of aesthetic” for the new regime have become a problem because the regime has changed.

            Surkov, of course, has done more than write essays. He has been active in dealing with Ukraine. And his skills in that regard may be enough to keep him close to the throne. But even if that proves the case, he won’t be the chief ideological spokesman for the Putin regime, although he might become one again after the Kremlin leader leaves the scene.

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