[this analysis was written for the Unz Review]
As the Presidential elections in Russia are drawing near I am amazed to see how much interest this event is generating in spite of the fact that it sure seems to me that this will be an incredibly boring and, frankly, totally useless event.
But first, full disclosure: I don’t have much faith in the so-called “democratic process”. Just look at the EU and tell me: do you really believe that the people in power represent the will and interests of the people who, supposedly, elected them? There are exceptions, of course, Switzerland is probably one of the comparatively most democratic countries out there, but mostly what we see is that western democracies are run by gangs of oligarchs and bureaucrats who have almost nothing in common with the people they are supposed to represent. As for the USA, for decades now every time the people voted for “A” they always got “non-A” as a result. It is almost comical. So here is my personal conclusion: democracies are political systems in which the real ruling elites hide behind an utterly fake appearance of people power. Put it differently, the “democratic process” is the device by which the real and hidden rulers of the world (or “worldwide behind the scenes powers“, to use the expression of Ivan Il’in), legitimize their power and prevent their overthrow. This is the same technique used by used car dealerships when they place tens, sometimes, hundreds of US flags on their lots before a car sale: it’s just a basic trick to induce the ‘correct’, patriotic, state of mind. This is also the reason why there are elections every 4 years in the USA: the more illegitimate and despotic any putatively “democratic” regime is, the more often it will organize elections to, so to speak, “increase the dose” of patriotically-induced stupor in its people and give them the illusion that the regime is legitimate, their opinion matters and all is well. Finally, when needed, slogans such as “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others” are used to put to sleep those who might have doubts. In terms of real people power “democracies” are probably the least truly democratic regimes imaginable simply because they are by far the most capable of hiding who really runs the country and where there real centers of power are. Do I really need to add that the worst kind of “democracy” is the capitalist one? You disagree? Then why do you think that Mayer Amschel Rothschild allegedly declared “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!“? Nowhere is the concentration of capital easier to achieve than in a society which makes it possible for the real ruling class to hide its power behind a screen of electoral farces.
Russia’s modern “democracy” fits into this mold very nicely and the upcoming elections are a perfect example of that. But here I need to make another disclaimer: if judged superficially, just by the usual set of legalistic, external, criteria, Russia is a real democracy: there is freedom of speech in Russia, plenty of elections, you can criticize Putin or any other politician to your heart’s content, when journalists are murdered (which happens), it is never on the Kremlin’s orders (simply because the Kremlin does not need them dead). The Russian media is infinitely more diverse (and interesting!) then the dull propaganda machine called “the media” in the West. And even harsh critiques of the government (like, say, Maksim Shevchenko) do get positions in various official human rights monitoring bodies, etc. In reality, Russia is far more democratic than most western countries.
So what is wrong with this rosy picture?
What is wrong is that this is all a farce, a facade, every bit as fake as western democracies are. But in a very different, uniquely Russian, way.
For one thing, there is no real opposition in Russia. Oh sure, Zhirinovsky has been in politics for years and delivering his unique mix of very sound and truthful ideas and utter, idiotic nonsense. ”Zhirik” (as he is called in Russia) is really a court jester, whose role is to amuse but also often say things which others don’t have the courage to say. By the way, regardless of crazy nonsense he regularly spews, the man is very intelligent and well educated and when he acts like a clown he is fully aware of it (you can even see his laughing eyes when he offloads some particularly offensive and outrageous comment). Zhirik and his “Liberal Democratic” (I kid you not!) party is basically the ideal “Kremlin-approved” pseudo-opposition which gets a lot of people who otherwise might feel really disgusted with Kremlin politics to vent, go vote, and then basically support Putin even if they don’t realize it. Zhirik and his LDRP are also very useful to harshly criticize, ridicule and discredit the pro-US “liberals” (in the Russian meaning of the word) whom I refer to as “Atlantic Integrationists”. Next, comes the Communists.
The Russian Communists are a pathetic bunch, really. I wish the English speaking audience could listen to how their longtime leader, Gennady Zyuganov, speaks: he even sounds like an old Soviet Politburo member. The Russian Communists have, for many years now, been a completely reactionary and fossilized party: mostly the peddle Soviet-era nostalgia, minus the Gulag, of course, and with a new and fantastically hypocritical respect for religion. If Zhirik is a least really funny, Zyuganov will bore you to tears! So for these elections, the Russian Communists did something really weird: they chose to back an outsider, Pavel Grudinin, who is as much a real communist as the Barak Obama was a real democrat. I guess their stupid plan was to show something akin to a 21st-century version of “Communism with a human face”, except for this time the face looks strikingly similar to Charlie Chaplin.
But don’t completely dismiss the Communists quite yet. For one thing, many Russians are deeply opposed to the neo-liberal policies of the Medvedev government and even though Putin talks a very social talk, the sad reality is that he also is clearly a proponent of western-style economics. Putin gets away with this by two simple tricks: a) his superb foreign policy b) by deflecting most criticisms on Medvedev. Slick move, but not one good enough for a nation and culture which has always been strongly social and collectivistic, which instinctively feels that capitalism and individualism are morally repugnant, and practically unsustainable, and which views the accumulation of capital as something profoundly immoral.
I have often made the case that culturally Russia is not, and has never been, European in any meaningful sense of the word. This is particularly true in the typically Russian mix of, on one hand, contempt for the accumulation of wealth and individualism and, on the other, the Russian fixation on the notion of moral justice. Russian heroes can be monastics or soldiers, but never businessmen or bankers. The traditional Russian culture, which has never undergone anything resembling the western Renaissance or Reformation, has retained a social ethos which is much closer to Middle-Eastern Islam or Asian Confucianism than to the western values of the so-called “Age of Enlightenment”. And while Marxism-Leninism was clearly an ideological import, it found in Russia a much more fertile ground for its values than the “enlightened” Masonic values imposed upon the Russian society by the westernized Russian elites, often with a great deal of violence, during the 18th– 20th centuries. There is a reason why nobody followed Kerensky and his Masonic gang while the Bolsheviks did get a lot of support from the people in spite of their rabid hatred for religion and their russophobia. Thus, a full 750 years after Saint Alexander Nevsky spoke his famous words “God is not in force, but in truth” we saw, Danila Bagrov, the hero of the famous movie “Brother 2”, say this in his now famous monologue with a prototypical US capitalist “tell me, American, wherein is strength? Is it in money? My brother also says that it is in money. And you have a lot of money, and so what? I think that real strength is in the truth – he who has the truth is the stronger one!“. What we are dealing with here is what Ivan Solonevich used to call the “national dominant” – a core component of the identity, worldview, and ethos of a nation. Seventy years of Bolshevism, followed by a decade of “democratic” capitalism did definitely manage to damage and diminish this “national dominant”, but it is still here and its political and social potential is still immense. This is why “Leftist” parties should never be completely dismissed in Russia: Russia will always be a country drawn to social, “Leftist”, collectivist values and ideas.
Back to reality now: Grudinin is as far away from Saint Alexander Nevsky or Danila Bagrov as can be and the so-called “Left” in Russia is as uninspiring and sterile as it is in the West. But if 70 years of obnoxious Bolshevik mismanagement have not managed to discredit the collectivist and social values inherent in the Russian people, neither will one really bad choice for a presidential election.
Still, the sad reality today is that the Russians don’t have a real, truly socialist, candidate to vote for. If Zirik is a right-wing jester, then Grudinin is left-wing fake.
And yet, even being the fake that he is, Grudinin is enough of an irritant (not a threat, that is overstating the case) that the Russian state media has now clearly embarked on a Grudinin-bashing campaign (which he richly deserves, but nonetheless). We should never forget here that the Communists did win the 1996 elections (which Eltsin stole with the full support of the West, the same West which also supported Eltsin using tanks in 1993 to kill thousands of people in a democratically elected parliament). That was a long time ago, but what I think is that this still shows that there still is a large potential voting base for Communists in Russia, but only if the Communists presented a credible candidate. Speaking of which, while Zyuganov himself looks like an old stuffed Politburo relic, there are much smarter young Communists in Russia, just as some younger LDPR members also look pretty sharp. But here is the crux of the problem: the Kremlin clearly has enough power to make darn sure that all which the Russians get as a “choice” are either court jesters or fakes. So while the democratic form is respected, the substance is entirely missing.
Next, there are what we could call “all the others” (Sobchack, Iavlinsky, Baburin, Suraikin, Titov). Just forget about them, they basically don’t exist. Some (Baburin) are better than others (Iavlinksy), but the reality is that they are all irrelevant.
And then there is Da Man, The Boss, the Ubercandidate who crushes everybody just by his presence and who will easily win yet another term: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. Compared to Putin, all the others look like confused kindergarteners playing pretend politics in the electoral sandbox allotted to them. Now, I am a self-confessed Putin-fanboy and I am very happy that he is in power. But that does not entail that I should kid myself, or anybody else, about all the problems with the current situation. Let me list a few of these problems:
First, and this is crucial, Russia is at war. Let me repeat this: Russia is at war with the AngloZionist Empire. The fact that this war is roughly 80% informational, 15% economic and 5% kinetic does not make it less real or less dangerous, if only because these ratios can very rapidly change. Furthermore, Putin is a brilliant man placed at the top of an extremely bad system which almost cost Russia her very existence. As a result, Putin put his efforts in mostly two directions: protect Russia against the western aggression and struggle against the pro-western 5th columnists inside Russia (oligarchs, Zionists, “liberals”, russophobes, etc.) including inside the Kremlin (the Atlantic Integrationists à la Medvedev or the IMF/WTO/Washington Consensus types à la Nabiulina & Kudrin & Chubais, etc.). Of course, Putin did try to fight corruption, mismanagement, fraud, etc., but the two spheres where he hit the hardest were defense and aerospace. He also created the ONF (The All-Russia People’s Front) to try to “reach” deeper inside the Russian society and economy, and this also worked. But the fact remains that most of Putin’s energy was directed at fighting the war against the Empire and the 5th column inside Russia. Most of the country is still in dire need of reform.
Second, and to my personal great regret, Putin is a neo-liberal. A real anti-liberal would never have kept people like Kudrin (who, by the way, was fired by Medvedev, not Putin), or Nabiulina and all the rest of them. Alas, Putin failed to kick this entire gang were it belongs: in jail. He got some of them (Serdiukov, Uliukaev) but most of them are still here (notice that neither Nabuilina nor Chubais ever made it to the US sanctions list?). I am no mind reader but my best guess is that Putin sincerely believes in what we could loosely called “regulated capitalism” or “social democracy” and that the kind of ideas presented by, say, Sergei Glaziev, really frighten him as a possible return to the kind of disaster-economics the Soviet Union had in the 1980s. I think that he is wrong, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that most Russian people clearly would want a number of things which Putin is not willing or able to deliver including a much harsher crackdown on corruption, much more vigorous social policies (social or “socialist” in the Russian sense of the word, meaning socially-oriented and not driven by capitalist ideology) and a much more equitable distribution of wealth. By all accounts, and in diametrical opposition to what nonsense spewed by the AngloZionist propaganda, Putin is not at all a nostalgic of the Soviet era. In fact, he seems to have somewhat of a phobia of anything which could remind somebody of Soviet-era policies even when these policies were clearly superior to what we see today in Russia (say in education, health, fundamental science, social programs, etc.). Whatever may be the case, I don’t think that anybody will deny that most Russian people would be happy if the entire “economic block” of the Medvedev regime would be fired (or jailed or, even better, summarily executed by a firing squad) and replaced by much more “left/socialist/communist” leaning economists. The fact that the Russian Communists completely fail to provide such an alternative is great for Putin’s reelection but very bad for Russia.
Third, Russia today is ruled by one man: Putin. Great guy, I totally support him! But one man ruling a country is a very bad thing not only because sooner or later this man will leave the scene and leave no credible successor, but also because a President should not be dealing with the pavement of the road in small cities in the Urals or get involved in the geographical distribution of maternity wards in Siberia. Yet this is exactly what is going on. The Russians have even an expression for that “Putin rules in a manual regime” meaning that he has to do everything by himself. This is sheer folly and this is obviously unsustainable. Oh sure, there are very sharp and good people around Putin, but none of them can match his unique combination of charm, charisma, intelligence, courage, patience, and determination: as soon as Putin leaves, for whatever reason, this entire system will come tumbling down precisely because it is not a real *system* but a “one man show”. And this is exactly what the Atlantic Integrationists are obviously waiting for to strike again.
So if Putin is so bad, why do I support him? Simply because at this point in time there is no alternative. And it’s not really that Putin is “bad” – but rather that he is a human being, not a miracle worker with a magic wand in his hands who can reform Russia simply by waving it and saying “abracadabra”. Especially not while Russia is at war with an Empire which threatens her very existence!
In the West, the AngloZionist are clearly backing Grudinin (see here here here here here here and even the always hyperpoliticallycorrect Wikipedia loves him!). The reasons for that are really simple: not only would the AngloZionist prefer *anybody*, including Count Dracula, over Putin, but if even if a purely nominal pseudo-Communist like Grudinin came to power the entire western “elites” could finally all loudly proclaim that: “Aha! Here is the proof; here is a wave of revanchist Communism in Russia and that is like the USSR 2.0 – welcome to the next Cold War!!“. In reality, the Russian Communist Party, chock-full of very real capitalists, (see machine translated article here) who Communist only in name, but its members still like red flags and pictures of Lenin and that ‘s good enough to scare those who already want to be scared (westerners). In the meantime, while the Russian state-media is bashing Grudinin, “somebody” is clearly actively promoting him in the Russian social media. Any guesses who that “somebody” might be?
As always, Russia’s “western geostrategic partners” are misreading Russia and wasting their breath (and money!). Here are the latest polls: Putin 71.5%, Zhirinovsky 5.5%, Grudinin 7.3% and the rest don’t matter. You don’t want to believe them? Fine. But when the difference is by a full order of magnitude your doubts won’t make much of a difference. Besides, you really don’t want the figures of being any different, trust me, because if the jester or the fake comes to power, then the crisis which will hit Russia and the rest of our planet will really be immense and very dangerous: we already have one clown in charge of a nuclear superpower, we most definitely can’t afford a second one.
The sad reality is that these elections will change nothing and they are not only boring (no real, credible, opposition) but also useless. A grand waste of time and money. And yet, they are also necessary.
They are necessary because in the “Empire of Illusions”, to borrow Chris Hedges’ excellent expression, everybody simply has to play by the AngloZionist rules: elections are an absolute “must” even if they are self-evidently farcical. So the Russians will get their “secular liturgy” (which is what elections really are), the right guy will stay in power, which is good, even if his staying in power has nothing to do with the formal trappings democracy. Yes, Putin does have the support of the overwhelming majority of the Russian people, even those who do not trust polls or election results agree on this, and that popular support is by far his most important power base (and the main reason why Putin-haters either stay quiet or become politically irrelevant). But the reality of that support is neither expressed by, nor conveyed through, Presidential elections. Putin does have the nation behind him, but not because some electoral farce says so. If by some magic trick, say, some court would strip Putin of all his legal powers, he still would have a much higher moral and, therefore, practical authority than any other person in Russia. Alexander Solzhenitsyn once said that all regimes can be positioned on a continuum ranging from regimes whose authority is based on their power to those whose power is based on their authority. Putin’s real power is not based on any Presidential election, nor is the based on the Russian Constitution, it is based on his moral authority with the Russian people. This is not something which can be expressed in percentages or numbers of cast bulletins, but it is no less real.
So the Empire’s goal is simple: not to replace Putin, at least not yet, but to prevent Putin from obtaining a clear majority in the first round. The plan is simple: if Putin gets a majority – denounce Russia as a non-democratic authoritarian state. If Putin by some miracle fails to get that majority, prove to the world that he is nowhere as popular as most people say he is and hope that all the anti-Putin forces combined will turn to Grudinin or Zhirinovsky (either one will do). If Grudinin goes into a 2nd round that will prove that Russia is a country with a strong nostalgia for the Soviet era (expect a myriad of references so Stalin in the Ziomedia), if it is Zhirinovksy, announce to the world that rabid Russian nationalists are about to invade the Baltics or nuke Turkey. When Putin eventually wins, declare that the election was stolen and explain to the zombified audience that Evil Vlad is nothing but the ideological sum total of commies and nationalists combined into one big “Russian Threat”.
Sounds stupid? Yes, of course. Because it is. But that’s the plan anyway.