Sunday, May 14, 2017

Russian Protesters’ Fear of Politics Reflects Their ‘Monarchical’ Consciousness, Ikhlov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 14 – The organizers of today’s Moscow protest against the demolition of the khrushchoby apartment blocks have banned any political symbols because they say they are “against ‘the politicization’ of what is for them an exclusively social action,” according to Yevgeny Ikhlov.

            In this, they are following many other protesters and displaying “a still perfectly ‘monarchical’ consciousness,” one in which politics is exclusively about “’the struggle for power’” and thus anyone who allows politicians to exploit his or her action is at risk of being “used,” the Moscow commentator says (

            In the imagination of the organizers of actions who take this position, Ikhlov continues, “politics is divided between a sacred sphere in which the powers (Putin, Sobyanin, Lavrov and Shoygu) rule and a lower ‘dirty’ portion in which those they don’t now are involved and who ‘only deceive the people.’”
            This understanding of politics is shared by the top powers that be and works to their advantage not only by promoting the notion that the only way people can get what they want is to beg the favor of those in power but also by preventing the emergence of alternative political leaders who might otherwise take advantage of popular anger to build a movement.

            And it also helps to explain something else shared by both the Kremlin and the population, the idea that those on top must have overwhelming support rather than a majority plus one as is the case in democracies.

            That explains Vladimir Putin’s obsession with his poll numbers and reported plan to garner 70 percent of the vote with 70 percent participation in the upcoming presidential elections and also the idea that any decline from stratospheric numbers to something around half of the electorate as has happened to Dmitry Medvedev is sufficient basis for his ouster from office.

            Until Russians can view social problems as political issues requiring political answers, can see the efforts of politicians to reflect their views as reasonable and natural rather than a threat, and as a bare majority rather than a super-majority as conferring legitimacy, they will remain incapable of making a transition to anything approaching democracy. 

            That is clearly what Putin and his regime hope will prove to be the case for a long time to come, even though continuity on this point will bring no good to the Russian people.


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