Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On not rocking the Russian political boat


The Above article was written by Paul Goble and entitled “Russian Social Compact Not Based on Oil But Fear, Radzikhovsky Says.” This article reflects upon some things that Michael Kuznetsov was saying. The way he presented it, Russia was a cohesive ethnicity that functioned in a powerful and positive way. Leonid Radzikhovsky puts the matter in different terms. Russia is indeed a cohesive ethnicity but at present Russia is in a bad way and its traditions and very cohesiveness work against turning Russia around and sailing it in a positive direction. Radzikhofsky seems to admire the way Liberal Democracies work; so I don’t know how influential Radzikhofsky’s views are in Russia. They do more closely match the American prejudice that Russians are at heart longing for the freedom we have in Liberal Democracies. At least they explain why Russians are not more overtly expressing this suspected longing: They are afraid that if they do Russia will collapse. I’ll quote a few sections from the article and then make some more comments:

“Many in Moscow and the West assume that Russia is at risk of a political upheaval because the regime there is no longer in a position to buy the people off with petro-dollars, but that assumption reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the Russian social compact . . . Leonid Radzikhovsky says that the social compact which exists in Russia now as in the past is based not on the trade off of rights for goods, as may be the case elsewhere, but rather on the fear by both sides that instability would threaten not only national well-being but possibly national survival.

“However, he says, “the notion that people are ready to sacrifice their rights to the state in exchange for economic well-being and will revolt if the government fails to provide it is overstated. Even in today’s severe economic crisis . . . in Russia, “our system . . . employs . . . an arrangement which . . . reflects a decision on the part of all those not intensely involved in political issues to focus on “their personal affairs and only on them” and to view politics as something alien to and apart from them and yet to see leaders as “symbiotically” involved in the survival of the state.”

“. . . For Russians, . . . criticism raises the question of leadership change, and “in the course of all Russian history up through today . . . mechanisms for a peaceful, regular and lawful change of the highest levels of power” . . . [does not exist].

“Those in power, of course, “exploit this: destroy the powers that be and you will destroy Russia! This is a big EXAGGERATION. But it is only an EXAGGERATION” because the problematic situation it reflects is not invented but quite real. . . Consequently, the deference the population shows to the rulers is not so much “a slavish instinct” as an instinct for national SELF-PRESERVATION, . . .”

“. . . Radzikhovsky concludes, the social compact in Russia has not yet been violated sufficiently to cause a revolt, especially given how great fears remain of “chaos.” And he reminds his readers that “one cannot free people externally more than they are ready for that internally.”


The first thing I notice is that some people have kept their right to involve themselves intensely in political issues without being part of the government. I Googled Radzikovsky’s name and found: “Leonid Radzikhovsky is an independent Russian political analyst.” Under Stalin there were no “Independent Russian political” analysts, at least none that stayed free. So the situation can’t be quite a bleak as Radzikovsky describes it. There are people who are not involved in the political process in Russia who nevertheless comment upon it and judge it, and apparently do so with impunity. But maybe the Russian problem is that few pay any attention to people like Radzikovsky.

We have something very like this in America. We don’t have the fear that if we change presidents American will be destroyed, but we have a great deal of apathy. People don’t vote in very large numbers not because they are afraid of being involved in the political process, but because 1) they don’t care about it, or 2) they believe that their vote isn’t going to make any difference.

If Russians are truly hunkering down and giving all their attention to their own personal problems because they fear that if they voiced their true opinions the State might be overturned, that almost demands that these Russians haven’t developed “their true opinions” very far. Perhaps what is occurring is more along the lines of “I’d better not study political matters, for then I might learn some things that might make me want to voice my opinion, which might rock the present political boat and damage Russia. Far better for me and for Russia that I stay hunkered down, minding my own business.

Here in America we encourage people to voice their political opinions whether they know anything or not. Because it is well known that individuals do not study political matters, various groups who do offer their advice about whom to vote for. Before every election we receive packets of information from various organizations offering their opinion about who and what to vote for. So if the apathetic can overcome enough of their apathy to read the recommendations of some organization they agree with, our system will struggle along. And, to be fair, almost no one is going to have a strong opinion about every matter and every person on a voting ballot; so he must either refrain from voting on certain items or take the advice of someone or some organization he trusts.

From what I had read I believe that this Russian acceptance of the status quo was acceptable to most Russians and that they were happy with the progress their government was making. Michael Kuznetsov agreed with that assessment. But Leonid Radzikhovsky puts a different spin on this matter. He would say that Russians do indeed accept the status quo, but not because they are happy with the progress their government is making, but because they fear that if they rock the political boat they might sink all of Russia. Michael Kuznetsov is clearly in the former category and has asserted that most of Russia would agree with him. So who agrees with Leonid Radzikhovsky?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


What I have been struggling to explain to the readers of my website http://www.russian-victories.ru as well as to you, Lawrence, personally during our discussions here, is the idea that we Russians and you Westerners ARE CONSIDERABLY DIFFERENT.

I emphasize: not better, not worse, but DIFFERENT.

In other words, we see and comprehend the world through different "lenses".

But first, I have to say that there are three types of the citizens in Russia:
Russians, non-Russians and un-Russians.

Russians are the overwhelming majority of the population. Russians are mainly those of the Russian stock, and those who feel and act as Russians.

Some of the non-Russians (those of the tiny ethnic minorities rife in our country) may, as an exception, also feel and act like Russians for the common good.
And then we consider them to be our brothers, despite their non-Russian stock.
Example: Marshal Stalin -- a Georgian, Marshal Rokossowski -- a Pole. But we consider them to be true Russians in spirit.

The un-Russians are those who feel and act differently, mainly in a hostile manner toward the Russians and our common good.
Most of them are non-Russians, but some of them may be even of "pure" Russian stock.
The "bastards".

Each one of us Russians is NOT an individual human being separated from the others (like you are in the West), but a tiny "cell" of one common colossal Organism of the Russian Nation.
We feel this way, believe me!

Let me use a bit lofty language, but I am sincere:
Our brotherly cohesion, Christian love and integrity constitute Russia's supreme values and chief assets, as well as our greatest strength for centuries.

While the West has become utterly atheistic, with the individual rights being above all.

Which is why we Russians do not consider ourselves to be Europeans any longer, despite the obvious fact that racially we stem from the same stock as the Germans, Britons, and other Nordic White peoples.

When we hear the words "human rights" we can understand them with a great effort, for we have no such a notion in our mindset.
What "human rights" might exist between the members of a family? You see my point?

Leonid Radzikhovsky is an un-Russian (of Jewish stock). Hence he will NEVER be able to understand us.
Not because he is a bad guy, or a good guy.
He is a good Jew and a smart writer, but he will never comprehend what we Russians want.

Leonid Radzikhovsky can be understood only by his congeners, by his tribesmen only.

Do you catch my point?