Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Alexandr Dugin on Putin's Russia: A comment

"Liberals, to paraphrase Leo Tolstoy, are all alike; but conservatives are all conservative in their own way. While liberals insist on universal human rights and the pursuit of a globalised world, conservatives value national uniqueness, sovereignty and identity, defending their exceptionalism from a single, encroaching world order. During his third term as president, Vladimir Putin is starting to distinguish himself as a Russian conservative. Understanding this will have considerable benefit for those seeking clues to the country’s future.... One sees echoes in Mr Putin’s policies. In his first term, he cut the oligarchs down to size. Now he is chastising his own ruling group over petty corruption, symbolised by the firing of defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov after his ministry was embroiled in a corruption scandal. Modern Russian conservatism is both anti-communist and anti-liberal. It is not the same as the US version, which values a small state. Here, conservatives value undivided political power, with economic power rooted in and subordinate to it. They value the traditions of established religion, sovereign foreign policy and the guarding of great power status. For his first 12 years in power, Mr Putin’s conservatism was tempered by the need to appeal to an influential liberal elite. But with the desertion of this class to the ranks of anti-government protesters since 2011, he is finally making his true views known. This should not be seen as winding back the clock, however. Russia is in transition from the pure totalitarianism of the Soviet era; this conservative moment represents a rethinking of what comes at the end of the transition. Russia cannot return to the Soviet model other than on a symbolic level – such as reviving the Soviet anthem or socialist rhetoric. Likewise, we will not see the rebirth of the Tsarist empire with the Orthodox Christian tradition as the official ideology. Today, we are a multi-ethnic society with a growing Islamic population. It is also worth noting that, while liberals are a numerical minority, they are influential. The government is controlled by moderates, with Dmitry Medvedev as their head. The oligarchs, who by and large espouse liberal ideas, retain much power. If we put these facts together, Mr Putin’s presidency is pragmatic – conservative mainly in the sense that it does not share globalists’ optimism. It is not trying to guard an exhausted status quo. His ideas, by and large, do not transgress the limits of moderate western-type nation-building. Mr Putin’s conservatism has been moulded by foreign pressure, symbolised by the passage in the US of the Magnitsky law, which creates a travel blacklist for certain Russian officials. It has been moulded from inside by the desertion of the middle class from the ranks of his supporters and the growth of a liberal protest movement. In the face of these challenges, Mr Putin will move in the direction of being a conservative moderniser at home and a realist abroad. He will insist on state sovereignty, distrust globalisation, limit liberalisation and keep democracy strictly within a sovereign, national framework".
Alexandr Dugin, "The World needs to understand Putin." The Financial Times. 12 March 2013, in www.ft.com.
"The senseless dreams as to the participation of of the Zemstva in the general direction of the internal affairs of the State".
Tsar Nicholas II, January 1895.
"If you want things to stay as they are, things will have to change."
Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. The Leopard. Translated. Archibald Colquhoun. (1960).
The analysis (or should we say credo) of Alexandr Dugin, for what is is worth makes for an insightful reading in the following sense and in this sense only: it contains au fond what the Putin Regime would like to believe to be true. Its own idea (at least publicly) of what it stands for and wants the Russian narod to believe to be truth. In reality of course, nothing akin to Grazhdanin Dugin's text is state policy in Russia to-day. Instead we have rampant corruption, capital flight (formerly to Cyprus of course, now elsewhere) and a failed modernization process and policy. Money is occasionally thrown, allegedly in very large amounts for various 'state' projects, which inevitably result in stagnation at best and collapse at worse. Accordingly, expect the Winter Olympics in Sochi to be an acute disaster of the very first magnitude. Which is not to endorse the notion that a simple turn an unthinking liberalism and an uncritical Westernism would alleviate Russia's deep-seated problems. Far from it. Merely that in the absence of real and durable programme of reform; a programme which in some fashion or other takes into account the needs and desires of the middle classes of Russia's key urban centers, one can only expect either Russia to continue on a downhill slope. `A la the contemporary Argentine, or conversely in perhaps five to ten years time, a profound and widespread series of explosions and with it a perhaps systemic collapse of the Russian state apparatus. Something absolutely horrible to think about and even to contemplate. Yet is it difficult to envisage in the medium-term anything else resulting from Putin's contemporary version of 'senseless dreams'.


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