Staunton, Oct. 26 – Russia today is undergoing “a powerful rebirth of feudal relations” not just in the autocratic “illusions” among its ideological leaders but also and more importantly “in the real socio-economic and administrative practices” of its population, Aleksandr Buzgalin says.
“In our system,” the Marxist professor at Moscow State University says, “relationships which very much recall the era of the twilight of ‘military-feudal imperialism’ are actively being developed” not only in words but in the ways in which people are compelled to live (mk.ru/politics/2021/10/26/v-rossii-vozrodilis-feodalnye-otnosheniya.html).
According to Buzgalin, this phenomenon is not unique to Russia but is typical of “peripheral capitalism as described many decades ago by Raul Prebisch on the basis of the example of Latin America.” But there is one big difference: the Russian population unlike its counterparts elsewhere retains many socialist ideas because of its Soviet experience.
And this has led to a uniquely Russian “paradox” – the country’s leadership is committed to a return to feudalism and so far has the power to ensure that its will is carried out but the country’s population wants socialist principles like free education and medical care but is now excluded from power.
That is reflected in the Duma where 85 percent of the seats reflect the will of the elite, and only 15 percent reflect what the vast majority of Russians actually want. This situation has obtained, Buzgalin says, not so much because the elites control the elections but rather because the population is not prepared to take responsibility for reforming the system.
But this situation is only for the time being, he concludes. “The situation in the country is changing before our eyes, and I won’t vouch that the current Duma and the remaining branches of power will be able to stay in place without problems until the next round of elections.” Instead, they may face real challenges from below.