Monday, August 2, 2021

Totalitarianism can Coexist with Market Economy, Illarionov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 27 – Many assume that a market economy precludes political totalitarianism, Andrey Illarionov says; but in fact, the relationship between what occurs in the economy and what takes place in the political system is more distant and totalitarianism can coexist with a market economy.

            The arrangements in fascist states before World War II and China today confirm that, the economist continues. What one is seeing in Russia today is simply part and parcel of the same phenomenon, even though many are reluctant to admit this is in fact the case (

            “For the last 30 years, we have learned that these things can exist alongside each other,” he says. A relatively free market is not inconsistent with a relatively repressive political system. Indeed, “a totalitarian regime can exist under conditions of a market economy” despite expectations to the contrary.

            More than that, Illarionov continues, the totalitarian regime can reduce the standards of living of the Russian people for a long time under market conditions now just as it did under state socialism in Soviet times. There is no reason to think that this arrangement cannot continue for at least several generations.

            Given the Kremlin’s control of the media, it is extremely unlikely that the population can coalesce around anyone opposed to the regime. Putin and his entourage have learned from the events of 1991 that they can be threatened by any such opposition and so they are working hard to ensure that it doesn’t and even can’t exist.\

            Illarionov stresses that “totalitarian regimes are destroyed only by three means: they collapse as a result of external intervention; they collapse as a result of revolutions within; and they collapse as the result of the death of the leader of the regime. There are no other variants” – and the Internet, despite expectations, has not changed this reality.

            The reason for that is simple: a totalitarian regime “will master any technical means more effectively and more rapidly than the opposition.” Thinking otherwise is to engage in self-deception, Inozemtsev says.

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