Friday, December 24, 2021

Approaching End of Stagnation Likely to Spark War among Russia’s Elites, Belanovsky and Nikolskaya Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 4 – “The era of stagnation in Russia is coming to an end,” sociologists Sergey Belanovsky and Anastasiya Nikolskaya say; and the country and its elites are entering into a crisis. As a result, war among Russia’s elites is likely to break out, with one side taking revenge on the other in order to control ever-diminishing resources.

            In Kazan’s Business Gazeta, the two, who attracted attention for their predictions about the 2011 protests, argue that an ideological and emotional gulf is opening between those in power and the population. Liberal ideas are passing from the scene but mobilizational ones, while able to concentrate resources, can’t inspire people (

            “Pressure on the powers from the side of a social ideology will intensify,” Belanovsky and Nikolskaya say; and that creates a danger that the ideological balance in society will be violated and that left-of-center views will become the dominant ideology of the population, leading not to rational but emotional actions.

            The result of that, the two say, “could be a radical ideological turn, which would be capable of destabilizing the political system and destroying the albeit relative but real economic balance in the country.” In this situation, they suggest, there are two possible variants which are likely.

            The first “would lead to an intensification of left-populist political structures; the second in the creation by the powers of a right-wing ‘revolutionary’ party, which would position itself as the party of social revenge.”  At present, “social revenge is the only political motive” the regime hasn’t sought to exploit. But doing so will be an increasingly attractive option.

            But a policy of social revenge has consequences, the most important of which is that one part of the elite will have to sacrifice another in order to maintain its own power and wealth, Belanovsky and Nikolskaya say.  That will lead to “a war of elites” which almost certainly will weaken the state.

            “If such a war begins,” they conclude, then ‘woe to the vanquished,’” and such hopes and fears will thus dominate the coming months and years of political life in Russia.


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