Thursday, December 15, 2016

Russians are odd

Inspired by Jason's recent stated sympathy to a "Russian pivot" under Trump, I read this article in New Statesmen about Russian democracy. 

The first point is that it's pretty clear most Russians still don't think they are a fully fledged democracy at all:

 I suppose you could argue the trend there is positive, though.

The odder thing is the ease with which it appears you can find Russians who still yearn for the hard master:
Most people I spoke to have indeed picked the “distinct form of democracy”, arguing that “an American model is unsuitable” for Russia. Perhaps unsurprisingly, no one could elaborate on the specifics of the desired model. One woman volunteered that “the ideal ruler for Russia would be someone like Peter the Great.” Once we have cleared that Russia under Peter was absolute monarchy, my respondent explained her reasoning: “Russia needs a strong leader, a disciplinarian. Russians cannot be ruled with a carrot, they understand only the stick.” In her view, Russians are too emotional and if they are granted too much freedom, they turn into loose cannons. She has a point. When Yeltsin, the most liberal head of state Russia has ever known, finally fuelled economic reforms, initialised by Gorbachev, the unprecedented market freedom has resulted in chaos, which culminated with Russia’s financial default in 1998.

The idea of a “strong ruler with wider powers” than would be implied by a Western constitution was echoed by others. “Russia needs a master,” said a mother of two who lives in Britain. “Russian people need clear directions and control, otherwise they’d just sit there like Brits on benefits, watching TV and complaining all the time.”
 And as to why Russians don't generally blame the top dog for their problems:
The special feature of the Russian mentality is that anyone but the tsar is to blame. Corruption, lawlessness, lack of social infrastructure and inequality are evident to all, but these are the problems associated with the “local imbeciles” and oligarchs, not the person presiding on the throne.
Which is, when you think about it, probably a 100% turnaround from the way most Australians think.  They are usually determined to blame everything on the current Prime Minister, regardless of the degree of control over certain events they may actually have.

The writer sums up how he thinks Russia got to where it is in this matter, and it sounds pretty convincing:
It is, of course, not at all surprising that no one could come up with an eloquent description of an ideal model of democracy, especially moulded for Russian mentality. Quite simply, Russia has no experience of it. From the absolute monarchy, Russia barely had a chance to get used to having a parliament (or Duma), when the Bolshevik revolution had erased all traces of it and kept it under locks for 70years. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia did the best it could to draw a new constitution, draft new laws and declare individual freedoms. Inevitably, there were teething issues, but instead of nurturing the nascent democracy, Russia’s current governing elite has been busy using its power over media to feed people an old tale about Russia’s unique path. “The Western model won’t work here”, the emphasised values of integrity, orthodoxy and “the national spirit” have once again conquered the Russian minds just like these ideas had been advocated by the tsar Nikolai I in the nineteenth century. New terms, such as a “governed democracy” and “sovereign democracy” have popped up to entertain the inquisitive minds. Other minds probably don’t even care. 


not trampis said...

Well ruskys have always been well RED

Steve said...

That's eye-rollingly bad, Homer.

not trampis said...

how about Lenin's grave is a communist plot!

Mayan said...

Trump is as classless as a Marxist utopia.

anon said...

Homer Paxton

What medication are you on?