Saturday, December 30, 2023

Putin’s System Stable Because It’s Backed by Those who Don’t Want to be Restrained by Anything but Force, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 29 – A major if underappreciated source of the stability of Putin’s system is to be found in the large number of people in Russian society who do not want to live by any ethical system and instead prefer a world where those who win out are those who are most willing to use force, according to Vladimir Pastukhov.

            The share of such people in any human society has always been large, the London-based Russian analyst says. At the dawn of the appearance of human beings, these people formed the overwhelming majority. But with the introduction of religions that promoted ethical norms, their share fell but their numbers remained large (

            The introduction of ethical norms allowed humanity to evolve in a positive direction far more quickly than any Darwinian model would have predicted, but such norms never came to dominate entire populations – and hence there has always been the risk that some leaders will exploit the desire of those not living ethically to act as they want.

            Because Putin caters to such attitudes, he and his regime have “an almost inexhaustible resource” among those “left behind by the evolution that was guided by ‘the ethical vector.’” Such people were “uncompetitive” when ethical norms held and the rules wer dictated by laws and institutions.”

            But when the man on top releases them from such rules, they “feel like fish in water where no rules apply except elements of violence,” Pastukhov continues. Such people were marginalized in the past, but now they feel they have “moved to the very center” of power “and are settling there like Huns on the ruins of Rome.”

            “A new Neanderthal is now ruling the roost” in the political system and not just there but also in places like the Academy of Sciences, the Writers’ Union and elsewhere as well. “This is now his world; he is the winner; and he will not give it up without a fight.” That gives Putin a basis of support far broader than many suspect.

            If Russia is to change, it will have to be won back “not from Putin but from these people” but others who are committed to an ethical agenda, Pastukhov says. And that won’t be easy because the beneficiaries of Putin’s unleashing of ethical bindings, however much he talks about them, are ready and willing to fight.

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