Saturday, September 16, 2023

Russian State Must be De-Sacralized to Avoid ‘an Endless Vicious Cycle of Recurrent Despotism,’ Kolesnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 3 – Many are now arguing that Russia must be decolonized with republics and regions exiting from Moscow’s control, but if the country is to escape “an endless cycle of recurrent despotism,” Andrey Kolesnikov says, “it isn’t enough to decolonize society … it is also necessary to secularize the state itself.”

            That is, the commentator for The New Times says, the state itself must be transformed “from an object of almost religious worship into a transparent and accountable service center that provides services to its citizens in exchange for taxes.” Such a state will be far less likely to engage in repression at home or aggression abroad (

            The Moscow commentator begins his argument with an idea advanced by Yegor Gaidar in his 1997 essay, State and Evolution ( There the economist argued that in Russia, “society has become a colony of the state and this terrible state in such a regime has become the colony of the mafia.”

            “In essence,” Kolesnikov continues, this involves “an internal colonial war of the state with its own people” and the destruction of Russian culture by the state in order to ensure that the state continues to be viewed by the population as something far above it that cannot be challenged but simply must be accepted.

            Many would like to escape from this, but that task is exceedingly difficult because so many people in so many walks of life are ready and willing for selfish or just survival reasons to go along and support the kind of state the leaders of that state want. Only if such behavior changes is there a chance to end the vision of the state as something too sacred to challenge.


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