Saturday, June 4, 2022

Liberals and Left Fail to See that Poor Also Oppose Putin’s War But for Different Reasons than Does Middle Class, Kagarlitsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 19 – Both liberals and the left in Russia have blamed the failure of the anti-war movement in that country to expand on the repressive measures the Kremlin has taken against it; and there certainly have been enough of those, left-wing sociologist Boris Kagarlitsky says.

            But an even more important factor limiting the growth of that movement, he says, lies with the liberals and those on the left themselves. They fail to recognize that the poor in Russia oppose the war just as much as they do but for other reasons than do members of the middle class and address those reasons (

            Kagarlitsky says that up to now, those protesting the war come from the politicized part of the middle class of the major cities that engaged in protests in the past; and their leaders or at least those who urge them to protest are the very same people drawn from the very same educated middle class as before.

            They are outraged by the war for moral reasons; and they fail to see that there are other reasons to be against the war and that other groups animated by different concerns could become their allies if only they would speak to the interests of these groups. Among the most important are Russia’s poor who are against the war because they fear it will hurt their standard of living.

            While polls show that the poor are even more opposed to the war than many in the middle class in major cities, activists from among the latter have not “up to now tried to find a common language with those belong them.” Instead, they denounce the poor for not sharing their moral disapprobation of the war and say they are selling their freedom for sausages.

            This attitude has kept the anti-war movement from growing, but it has done something worse: it has had the effect of justifying and camouflaging inequality in Russia and these thing sin turn have “led to dictatorship and war,” Kagarlitsky says. Such attitudes must change if the population is to come together to stop the war.

            The task of the left and of democratic forces in Russia must be to “address the grassroots directly in a language the latter understand and offer genuinely meaningful and not just symbolic actions. It is time to return to the people the chance to speak in their own name about their own vital interests.”

            That is because, he says, “the poor should not have to pay for the adventures of dictators and oligarchs either with their blood or with humiliating poverty.” But that can change quickly if and only if the liberals and those on the left recognize their own shortcomings in understanding the real nature of their country and its people.

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