Is there another way for the country to become modernized and reach the new level of development except for sacrificing the well-being of the current generation of Russian people?
On a hot afternoon I was having beer and rusks in a summer café. These rusks are called “Kirieshki” which sounds like “Kirienko” – the last name of the Russian Prime Minister. Sometimes brands invented by promoters produce unexpected results in our minds. An expert on political technologies told me that there is a trick to promote the politician by attaching his name to some well-known brand. It occurred to me that these rusks can be good promotion for Kirienko who is currently President’s representative in the Central District of Russia. After young people grow older, they will forget the rouble default of 1998 when Kirienko was Prime Minister, but the sound association “kirieshki – Kirienko” will play the key role in future Presidential elections.
Therefore I recommend Sergei Kirienko to make Presidential ambitions his long-term goals. The only question he can face is whether to run for Presidency now or to wait for the end of Putin’s second term.
Meanwhile, some evidence show that Kirienko can participate in the elections this year. Recently Mir Novostei newspaper published an interview with well-known expert on political technologies and electoral campaigns Sergei Pereslegin. Sometimes experts are so eager to start implementing their plans that they let the cat out of the bag. Telling about the future of market economy in Russia, Pereslegin mentioned: “This issue interests both Mr. Putin from Moscow and Mr. Kirienko from Nizhni Novgorod. As you can see, it is direct attachment of Kirienko to the name of the President.
As for me, I do not oppose the idea of having young politicians as the highest authority in the state. However, their plans raise questions. According to the article in Moscow News (#38), young politicians have radical plans. Pereslegin says, "We should modernize the people urgently. People should cheer up, raise themselves and start earning their living”. One more pearl: “Part of the population will certainly end up on the street, become poverty-stricken, die, escape to other countries. But on the other hand, the rest of the population will learn how to live under the conditions of market economy”. Тhe expert says the reform of utilities resulting in big increase of utility bills is one of the conditions for such “cheering up” and not a cause of negative consequences which should be prepared for. According to Pereslegin, the 1998 default was a good stimulus for development of business: "I am sure the default was arranged by clever people. The fact that they robbed the majority of the population is a small auxiliary element not relating to business". I was even thinking that the last phrase was invented by the reporter: some of them are used to emphasizing some ideas of the person they interview, especially if they do not like his/her ideas. Expert on political technologies Pereslegin could hardly express so frankly the “cannibal outlook”, as one liberal columnist called it. The columnist was right – this is attitude to people as if they were construction materials. Is such an approach effective? Is there another way for the country to become modernized and reach the new level of development except for sacrificing the well-being of the current generation of Russian people? The preliminary estimates are different. On the one hand, the experience of Western countries demonstrated that lives of many people were neglected during the epoch of industrial revolution and accumulating capital. Russia had similar experience as well during the reforms of Peter the Great and Stalin’s industrialization. Russian leftists criticize the contemporary proponents of reforms, but tend to justify such methods. On the other hand, such things happened spontaneously under capitalism and during Peter the Great’s rule, and during Stalin’s industrialization there were objective factors (consequences of the civil war and the danger of foreign aggression for the country. Nowadays cannibal elements are a part of the carefully planned politics of the state, and it is hard to say whether this politics is being conducted for future well-being of the country or for prospering of those who is getting rich today using the default, selling the state monopolies out to foreign “investors,” reforming utilities of establishing mortgage crediting system which will establish real estate market and assist banks in extending the scope for crediting.
There is no exact solution to this dilemma. Certainly, from time to time some bad employees have to be fired or punished to improve the performance of the company. However, CEO can be fond of improving performance so much that he/she will fire all good employees and only obedient time-servers and flatterers will stay there. Such methods are much more dangerous for the state. Dissatisfaction accumulates within the society and can result in outburst of social protest. In addition, adjusting all sides of society to market economy principles means destroying all non-commercial spheres: education, fundamental science, culture which will result in negative consequences sooner or later (even the USA have to “export brains”).
Human society resembles mechanism, not ecological system. Contemporary Russia has no analogies with capitalism in other countries which was being formed for a long time. Soviet practice of campaigns to young call people to work on construction-sites can be hardly relevant either: such campaigns attracted people using propaganda tools such as newspaper stories, patriotic songs and TV programs. Nowadays it is hardly possible to young people’s minds using advertising such products as “kirieshki”. The young generation likes to have beer, make money and curse, and is not interested in politics. Young people do not attend elections. They will not be eager to work hard to raise the country economy. They would rather prefer to join criminal “brigades”.
The expert finishes with the phrase: “One should plan his/her future in the modern world, otherwise somebody else will do it for you”. This idea seems to be naïve. In fact, future is not contracted, it is the result of the activity and interaction of certain group within the society. In modern group such groups became more powerful and shrewd. Earlier aggressors just sent their armies to other countries, currently they use different methods. Therefore we had better not invent slogans, but find out who is planning our future and for what reasons.
Earlier capitalist expropriators did not think about strategies to form future, they were interested in pursuing their practical interests as they were businessmen and not politicians. Elaborating future strategies could be dangerous because at one point dreamers thinking of reforms were executed in Western countries.
On the whole, I do not think much about future of such talkative politicians, history will make people forget them. There have always been pseudo-scholars earning their living from the authorities by inventing false intellectual theories. In ancient Greece they were called sophists, in Rome – Chaldeans, in medieval Europe – scholastics. However, at current critical point of Russian history we have to see the difference between elaborated calculations and prognoses and utopian “models for future”. There is no common sense in the works of modern sophists. To understand this, one go online to find their papers and projects. All of them are samples of pseudo-intellectual phrase-mongering and big ambitions. For example, such an idea of Pereslegin: "At the beginning of XX century the czar’s Central Staff knew well about the preparations for the coup in Russian Empire and could stop it. However, the Staff generals did not prevent it for some reason and got the revolution in the country. The reason was simple: by that time it could be seen that Russia lags behind Western Europe in economic development. Taking into account the vast territory of the country, there was no chance to keep up with the Western world in the framework of the state, law and order. Under such conditions the ruling elite accepted the revolution and sacrificed everything it had, for the sake of saving the country”.
Surprisingly, these words are not a joke. There is no need of arguing with this. Let us remember another approach. To write his novel “Red Wheel” about the revolutionary events in Russia, Alexander Solzhenitsyn spent years studying documents and chronicles. Here the essayist tries to explain everything in two sentences. Probably, he thinks we are idiots who have no idea of the World War I which created the conditions for the revolutions in February and October of 1917 in Russia. The question arises: does the author mislead us on purpose or he really think in such a primitive way? I assure you – such ideologists think IN THIS WAY. I have read their papers and even had correspondence with some of them. This is a vivid example of wrong direction for ideas.
I came to the conclusion that this all is some mixture of charlatanism and shamanism. There are signs of this in some papers. For example, at the end of his paper Pereslegin suddenly turned to the history of ancient Egypt saying that “this civilization was established by social odd man sent away from the cities of Fruitful Crescent”. I could not help remembering the modern myths that Egypt was established by people of ancient continent Atlantida or newcomers from other planets. Again, there is no need of arguing with this. This is not normal when the author put forward a doubtful argument to prove another doubtful statement.
I will tell the story. Recently I had to disprove in court the “act of expertise”. Electoral commissions write such acts to refuse a candidate for legislature to be registered under the excuse of not valid signatures gathered in his/her support. The special thing about this act is that the EXPERT CONCLUSION resulted from research is requested. Such a research can hardly be conducted because of the time pressure and big number of candidates. In fact, such “expert conclusion” often is the result of expert’s imagination. However, some rejected candidates believe in such documents and do not to court to protect their interests. From now on I will always remember this incident when encountering the press with ideas of experts on sociology, political technologies, futurologists and others of this kind. They use the same principle: the pseudo-expert writes what he or his bosses want and thinks that nobody is going to disprove his statement. By the way, I won that legal case.
Yet, can a “doubtful viewpoint” be true, maybe sometimes it just lacks arguments? The paper under our scrutiny dwells on concrete things such as the utilities reform and mortgage crediting. It is interesting and relates to many people’s lives. According to the author, the utilities undergo reform not for repairing their worn-out communications, but to “modernize people”, teach them to earn money for paying utility bills. The author demonstrates interesting logic: people allegedly do not want to earn money for buying clothes and other things, but they will be eager to make money after being pressed by utilities. Then the author writes that the long-term purpose is establishing some sort of economic totalitarianism. The state needs it to make people go and work in Siberia and Far East. My mindset does not allow me to argue with such statements, but their logic is remarkable. According to it, ordinary people should be forced to do what the state needs, and there is no single word about making oligarchs to invest money in the country’s economic development.
One can think that the authorities just take some time before starting to press the oligarchs. However, pseudo-intellectuals hardly bear in mind similar ideas. Pereslegin let the cat out of the bag, “After the utilities reform people will be able to receive credits using their apartment as collateral”. According to him, “currently there is no system of taking the money back from the borrower and this put constraints on the development of bank system”. I am touched with such ideas… The banker’s dream – there is no need of analyzing business-plans and credit history, to control the borrower’s account, because the bank faces no risk, it is authorized to take over the borrower’s apartment. Meanwhile, why the rate of interest is so high if the bank has no risk? Even nowadays our banks never give credit without collateral, therefore many crediting resources are not used, and banks did not learn how to risk and work with borrowers step by step. Therefore the reforms seem to pursue the interests of banks in the first place.
Financial capital has succeeded in promoting its interests. For example, it benefits from the pension reform which is conducted today. Big money is spent to advertise and promote the pension reform, World Bank lent money to Russian Pension Fund for this, but the interests of pensioners do not seem to be the priority of this reform.
Summing it all up, I am sure that the interests of big financial capital are hidden under the mask of the ideas on economic mobilization of people to make breakthrough to better future, under the sophisms about the coup in October, 1917 and ancient Egypt. Financial capital skillfully invested money in dull-witted ideologists whose ideas are adjusted well for the type of propaganda the capital needs.
Working on these notes, I re-read paper “History of Russian Society Thought” by Georgy Plekhanov. It has an interesting part of the end of XVIII century when Catherine the Great has discussions with the ideologists of that time, French representatives of the Enlightenment. One of them, Didro, even came to Russia. This period of history relates to our theme: the authorities listening to the ideologists is an absolutely different matter. At the beginning of the paper we are criticizing there is a note, “Analytical reports by Sergei Pereslegin are regularly brought to President Putin’s desk”. Certainly this is an advertising trick, but anyway “analytical reports’ for the authorities are brought somewhere. Maybe onto the desk or in the computer disc, or into the waste-bin.
Catherine the Great was very serious about the recommendations of bourgeois ideologists. She established the legislative organ where the deputies from all the society groups were elected, including free peasants. Every deputy brought the recommendations of his electorate how the law should be improved. Catherine the Great encouraged the Free Economic Society to announce international contest of projects “What should be done with the serfdom in Russia?” Everybody knows about the empress’s own creative activity – she composed state Instructions to the citizens, letters where she conducted discussions with the foreign observers, she even wrote books and theater plays. She founded propaganda magazines, in a word, she worked very seriously, according to the modern standards. Meanwhile, her opinion on the social philosophy of that time is well-known: the concepts of ideologists is one domain, and the real life and the capacities of the authorities in it are from some different domain.
However, contemporary authors of philosophical concepts in Russia can hardly be compared with French representatives of Enlightenment of XVIII century. The ancestors of contemporary Russian ideologists were philosophers-advocates of serfdom. One of them, Andrei Bolotov, was passing through the village of free peasants and came to “conceptual” conclusions. Free peasants have more wheat and their cottages are covered with wooden lath, meanwhile serfs’ cottages are covered with thatch. But the houses of free peasant stand not in straight line, but in a chaotic way: “Here is one house, there is another, over there five houses are close to one another. Some houses face one direction, others another direction”. Finally our philosopher came to the following conclusion: "There is no person here to whip you and make you more intelligent, so that you could build your houses and live in a more decent way. Only taverns benefit from you, and your country is ashamed of you!”
Contemporary ideologists think in the same way: Russian people are disorganized and have wrong outlook, they have to be “modernized” urgently by means of economic whip. How dared they to spend money on food and items for their houses and not on paying utility bills! Modern proponent of serfdom Pereslegin says, "People should be made privatize their houses and pay the full cost of utilities”. However, he adds “the purpose of this is not raising revenues of utility companies which will give them the capacity to construct new power lines and central heating communications. The point is establishing big domestic market of real estate”.
Our “Hamlet” is sitting next to the grave, looking at the skull and modeling future. God will judge him. Although contemporary ideologists do not believe in Christian God. May be they believe in the Egyptian gods?
Krasnoyarsk, exclusively for “Pravda.ru”.
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