Paul Goble: Surkov Reflects Putin Elite’s Hatred and Fear of the People, Shevchenko Says

Staunton, February 11 – Vladislav Surkov’s essay in Nezavisimaya gazetasuggesting that Putin has created a new type of Russian state based on popular trust in the leader rather than competitive elections that is superior to Western-style democracy and that will last long after its creator has dominated the blogosphere today in ways that few other recent articles have. Most have recounted his arguments, expressing either enthusiasm or distaste; but some are already beginning to go beyond that and to explore what his article represents and tells about the attitudes of the Putin elite of which Surkov has long been perhaps the most articulate in expressing its hopes and fears. Among the most insightful of these so far is one by Russian commentator Maksim Shevchenko who argues that Surkov’s article (ng.ru/ideas/2019-02-11/5_7503_surkov.html) provides perhaps the clearest indication yet of just how

much the Putin regime hates and fears the Russian people (echo.msk.ru/blog/shevchenkomax/2369329-echo/). “The ruling elite,” Shevchenko says, “hates, distrusts, and fears “the people and wants to destroy its political standing and minimize the risks it presents. How to do this?” Surkov provides a way: deprive the people of legal institutions and (democratic) possibilities to influence the situation in the country” and “strictly prohibit” all other means. To do that, the people is declared “not a real community of citizens having rights and freedoms but a secret psycho-social nature,” a “’deep’” thing which “supposedly doesn’t know what it wants and operates only on ‘trust’ to the first person who is thus the state,” the commentator continues. This “Putin system” does not allow for “law and the courts, the division of powers and their mutual control, and the principle of delegated administrative and political authorities via representative institutions which are the result of centuries of serious struggle of the people against the sacralized power of the lords.” Instead, it is based “on ‘trust’ to a sophisticated and not necessarily kind tsar” because “apparently the Russian and other peoples of our country” can only exist if they accept that they cannot rule themselves and their affairs but must have someone come and rule over them, Shevchenko continues. Such an idea and such an arrangement “open the gates to surveillance, repression, tyranny, censorship, the destruction of rights and freedoms, and the theft from the population in the name of ‘a refined but not ill-intentioned tsar,’” he says Surkov’s notions suggest. In short, power is to pass to Nietzschean “’people of long will.’” This category of people are permitted to do anything they want to the people with impunity as long as they remain loyal to the tsar. “Any actions of ‘people of the long will’ are correct because they are true. For them, morality doesn’t exist. Their actions are dictated only by their will. Their will is motivated by their nature, and their nature is not recognized as profane.” Instead, the essence of their nature is “the Law of Force and Action (divine and therefore nor formed) against the Chaos of human degradation and nihilism. Everyone else must be subordinate to them and they are to trust their Leader, Tsar and Emperor.” Their lives are governed by these “understandings” and not by anything else. The people in this system are the object not the subject of politics: their responsibility is only to trust those above them and above all the tsar and to submit because in Surkov’s world – and that of his boss as well that is the natural order of things that was disturbed by the events of 1991 when Russia mistakenly accepted some Western ideas that must not be jettisoned. Such an arrangement might be justified if it were the case that these “’people of the long will’” acted on behalf of “Truth and Justice.” But that is not how things are, Shevchenko says. They act as purely selfish individuals concerned only about the maximization of their own ability to steal and build wealth for themselves. These people and their system can thus never expect to enjoy the trust of the people for long, certainly not for the decades of centuries of a Putinist system that Surkov seems to think are in store for them. His words may appear to justify all this, but they reflect something deeper, he suggests, the fears such people have that they won’t be able to act this way forever. source: window on eurasia

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