Staunton, Mar. 8 – The powers that be in Moscow “don’t understand the country which in their view they are running,” Anatoly Nesmiyan who blogs under the screen name El Murid says; and nowhere is this more obvious than in their monitoring of protest activity and polls about popular support for the leadership.
The government’s control over information and its police power means that protest activity is “impossible in principle” and surveys of opinion when people know what they have to say and say it do not provide any useful measure of how the population actually feels, he continues (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=640741378759A).
But the Kremlin doesn’t have any clue how to measure what is happening in society by any other means and therefore continues to “measure what they are able to measure and understand” even though they are measuring things that do not reflect reality and can change with amazing suddenness against those who use them.
“As a result,” El Murid continues, “a classic problem arises which is typical for any regime which has cut off feedback links: the authorities simply do not understand the country that they have the impression that they are governing.” For a time this works; but “there always comes a moment” when neglected factors “suddenly add up” and overturn the table.
Indeed, “there are situations when a more accurate picture would be given not by rating an individual or event but by looking at its anti-rating, And in the absence of at least some kind of feedback, its is anti-rating polls that suddenly turn out to be the more accurate indicators of what is happening.”
Such anti-ratings show “not so much active resistance to what is happening but passive rejection of it or indifference; and when this reaches a certain critical level, society inevitably passes into the state of a supercooled liquid in which the slightest push shifts it into a qualitatively different state.”
But to make such measurements will require the powers that be to be able and willing to employ “fundamentally different interpretations of the processes taking place in society.” That is beyond the capacity of those in power now who find it much easier to continue to measure what they have always measured rather than what matters.
This leads to a paradoxical situation, El Murid says. “Under current conditions, protest activity would in some way be a boon for the authorities since it would be at least visible and could be addressed. But when the powers that be don’t notice what is going on, they can’t address it before that explodes.”