Russian Apes, Scratching Themselves for our Bemusement
Once again, just when you think Russia has found a the bottom, it sink so low that its previous position looks like a mountaintop.
Last week the world was appalled by the issuance of a formal report from the United Russia political party, Russia’s party of power, the party of Putin and of Medvedev, condemning the very institution of democracy itself, supposedly a political party’s sole reason for existence.
Get this: When Russia is rich, it has plenty of time to become democratic so it doesn’t need to rush things. And when Russia is poor, it has no time to waste on “luxuries” like freedom, because it must bear down on the economy. In other words, Russia has no need for democracy of any kind at any time at all.
Why, then it would need political parties — unless of course it is recreating the single-party USSR — defies explanation.
United Russia’s think tank called the Institute of Social Forecasting published the report, and Paul Goble reports that the Vedomosti newspaper quotes the report as follows:
It is difficult to recognize the political system of Russia as a liberal democracy. Governors are appointed in much the same way that obkom first secretaries were in communist times, and the media now resembles that of the stagnation period. There is now an imitation of party democracy of the kind that existed a generation ago and just like in Soviet times, in Russia today, it is better not to have any dealings with the militia, whose members are corrupt and largely unrestrained by law or the courts.
You might think that this frank admission calls for democratic reform, but the ISF calls such reform “harmful and useless” in light of Russia’s economic downturn. The ISF feels that crisis management requires “leadership” and that, in turn requires “charisma,” something that does not fit all that well “with ordinary competitive democracy.” It urges Russians to recognize that “democratization is far from the only path to effective rule.”
It’s quite insane, and based entirely on totally ridiculous lies. The implication that Russia would pursue democracy more actively in economic boom times is utterly false; Russia abolished the election of governors and crushed independent TV and newspapers, as well as wiping out opposition political parties, during the boom times. Equally dishonest is the implication that Russia has tried democracy. Not once in its entire history has Russia held a truly competitive election, so it has no idea what its fortunes would be if that occurred. Russia game Communism more than seven decades to work, yet it will not give real democracy even a single election cycle. Boris Yeltsin’s only serious opposition came from the Communists themselves, and Putin has no opposition of any kind.
This report must be seen as yet another open attack by Putin upon Dmitri Mededev. While Medvedev’s silly statements about liberalization are obvioulsy nothing but propaganda, nonetheless they are his propaganda, his identity. He blogs, he met with Novaya Gazeta. He’s the progressive voice of United Russia. And now the party has formally declared his ideas “useless and harmful.” It’s just one more step towards his being thrown under the bus as Vladimir Putin returns to power,this time as “president” for life.