THE PARADIGM OF RUSSIAN POLITICS: REALISM VS LIBERALISM
Let us turn first of all to the primary cartography of the Russian political space. For correct political science, semantic mapping is above all.
All processes taking place in Russian politics, as a rule, are viewed in too large an approximation.
The details differ in contrast, but the image of the whole is completely blurred.
Elections, appointments, criminal cases, corruption scandals, the confrontation between power groups, and attacks and counterattacks by the liberal opposition overshadow the overall picture with their rhythm.
Covid, vaccination, a change in the strategy of the authorities, propaganda, repression, and relaxation of the sanitary regime further blur the general view. And not subsiding and, moreover, growing confrontation with the West finally distorts the picture.
Before undertaking an expert analysis of any phenomenon, event, or trend in Russian politics, it is necessary first to take a certain distance in relation to its violent cataclysms – after all, they look so significant when you are close to them, or moreover, you accept them. their direct participation.
Without such a distance, the rule of scandal or hysteria begins to operate – little things grow to gigantic proportions, the scale of words, gestures, intonations grows, overshadowing the mind, and random and fleeting coincidences take on the character of “irrefutable proof.”
Let’s try to get out of this hysterical cycloid and win back the reliable territory of thought for a calm and balanced analysis.
Russia, like any state, is at the intersection of domestic and foreign policy. These two sides cannot be strictly separated, since they are closely related.
Therefore, the internal and external in Russian politics are only relatively separate spheres, where we are not talking about isolated processes, but only about the predominance of certain factors. Domestic policy is dominated by domestic, foreign policy is dominated. But both this and their opposite vectors and forces sometimes act.
The interconnection between internal and external is most clearly manifested in the phenomenon of liberals in power, or, in other words, the “sixth column”.
Unlike the “fifth column”, which includes open fighters against the Putin regime, and at the same time with the Russian state itself, the “sixth column” is personally loyal to Putin.
But with regard to the power and patriotic component of his policy, he takes a diametrically opposite position, generally close to the “fifth column”.
Both the opposition and the liberals in power operate in domestic politics. But at the same time, it is obvious that they are closely connected with the globalist circles of the West, and therefore are built into the structures of external political processes.
The liberal West includes levers of pressure on Russia not only when it comes to the fate of the opposition of the “fifth column”, but also about the inviolability of the “sixth”. The only difference is that open oppositionists are discussed openly and loudly, while the political immunity of the liberals in power – Chubais, Nabiullina or Siluanov – is discussed behind closed doors.
Another important circumstance should be taken into account here: Russia is not just an internationally recognized nation-state.
But a state that seeks to be a completely independent pole on a global scale. And this is the vector of Putin’s entire policy over the 21 years of his rule.
Putin is not content with nominal sovereignty and does everything in his power – to the best of his understanding of global political processes – to make Russia’s sovereignty absolute. In many ways, he succeeds.
At least if you compare the miserable status of Russia in the 90s under Yeltsin and its current image. Even if we take into account how much Russia is hated and feared in the West today, it will become obvious that a sharp increase in subjectivity and real sovereignty is evident.
From time to time, Putin proves this with concrete deeds. As radical as “Crimea is ours” or the salvation of Syria.
With the strengthening of sovereignty, there is also an increase in the independence of domestic policy.
This is natural: the less the state and its political system, as well as the economy, technology and culture depend on external factors, the more self-sufficient and self-sufficient are the internal political processes.
From the point of view of realism in International Relations, and Putin undoubtedly stands in this position (consciously or intuitively, this is another question), ideally, domestic policy should be totally independent of foreign policy.
This happens when sovereignty becomes absolute and total.
But the modern West and, above all, its globalist elites, who returned after the pause of Trump, who was a realist, to the White House along with Joe Biden, adhere to the exact opposite school – liberalism in International Relations (IR). This means that for them the goal is the opposite – to make the internal policy of any state as transparent as possible and dependent on external factors, that is, on supranational structures.
For liberals in the Defense Ministry, sovereignty is not a blessing, but evil and “an obstacle to human progress, global democracy, and social development.” At the limit for liberals, the integration of the world community must reach a stage when a World Government will be established instead of nation-states. This is not a “conspiracy theory”, it is written in any textbook on International Relations.
The European Union is just the construction of such a World Government – but only on a local, European – scale. This is his prototype. Other supranational institutions are the European Court of Human Rights, The Hague Tribunal, etc. – perform the same role.
Putin’s Russia, with its constant emphasis on sovereignty and its realism, is seen by liberal globalists as a serious obstacle. And the more autonomous Russia’s domestic policy becomes, the more the globalist liberal of the West tries to put pressure on Putin.
We see the same in other countries trying to defend their real sovereignty – in China, Iran, Turkey or Belarus.
But Russia among them, in terms of the aggregate of its potential, is comparable only to China (at the same time, China is far ahead of us in economy and demography, but we are leaders in the field of weapons, in geography and in the possession of natural resources).
Therefore, the tension between Putin’s Russia and the liberal West is structural. It is this tension that determines all the truly significant processes in Russian politics. This tension between global liberalism and national sovereignty is the main code for a meaningful political analysis.
The semantic structure of Russian politics is reduced to this fundamental contradiction between liberalism and realism. We will truly explain any phenomenon only when we get to this level.
This major focal discussion topic will includes the following:
And the transition of power from Putin to one or another successor,
2. And the next parliamentary elections,
3. And reshuffles in the Administration of the President or the Government,
4. And reactions to pandemic and vaccinations,
5. And the state of interethnic relations,
6. And processes in Russian regions,
7. And the confrontation between the Kremlin towers,
8. And measures and methods of suppression of opposition (in particular, the emphasis on foreign agents),
9. And strategies and main goals of political repression,
10. And the appointment of certain figures to key posts,
11. And the media policy of the authorities and the opposition,
12. And the main trends in culture,
·13. And church politics.
14. And everything else.
Between it and what we observe directly, there is whole – in a Byzantine way intricate and refined – labyrinths of intrigue, struggle for power, resources, and influence, the most complex intrigues and conspiracies, industry competition, intricate mechanisms of corruption, and pure crime.
If you do not take into account the main algorithm – realism versus liberalism, sovereignty versus globalization, you may get a false impression that we are dealing with chaos. But this is not the case.
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