Political Technologies are the real threat to Russia

In our politics, the technical or political technology approach has reached a critical point. This began back in the 90s, but, interestingly, in parallel with the fundamental changes that have occurred in Russia since the Putin era, when almost everything has changed, and the liberal-Western course has been replaced by a sovereign-patriotic one, Russian politics has continued to be purely technological. Moreover, from the head of the political department of the AP to the head, it becomes no less, but more and more technological.

Political life is a purely collective social process in which various groups of the population participate. Some put forward and formulate ideas and principles, others support them or, on the contrary, oppose them. Society listens to the rhythm and semantics of this life, agrees with something, rejects something, somewhere realizes the direct dependence on programs and projects and the daily life of individual citizens, somewhere, on the contrary, believes that we are talking about abstractions that are of little importance to a particular person.

And only in the process of this political life, namely life in all its diversity, with dialectics and contradictions, political institutions are formed and the question of power is resolved. It is in the hands of those who reach the top in political life, defeat opponents, surpass competitors, and, finally, enter the decisive line, where ideas, projects, and plans can be translated into reality.

In politics, the individual is constantly in contact with society with all his sides. And that contact always goes through ideas. In politics, thoughts, plans are put into speech, into words, into texts, into declarations, and then only into actions. This is called political discourse. And whoever pronounces or shares this or that discourse takes on a serious responsibility. If these ideas win, their supporters will win with them. If they lose, they will lose along with them. Both the speaker and the listener (approving or disapproving of what they heard) in politics already enter into a system of obligations, responsible actions, and direct dependence of their position, state, or even well-being on the result. If the ideas that are close to us and that we defend fragilely, we get upset and sad. If they win, we rejoice and rejoice. And it’s completely natural and organic. Politics is life, full and rich. It should be that way.

But in our society, at some point, something clearly went wrong. Technologists, marketers, advertising specialists, or even systematic deception of customers began to set the tone in politics – so a number of high-ranking politicians of the 90s came out not even from business, but from advertising, PR technologies, financial pyramids, or outright fraud. They were professionals in large-scale deception of the population, ready to promote any candidates, any projects, and any parties for a fee. So politics ceased to be an area of life, the struggle of ideas and competition for the power necessary to realize these ideas. And that’s the first thing. Instead, the problem of power was solved surrounded by the first person of the state and among a very narrow circle of oligarchs, and society was simply excommunicated from political processes.

The elections turned into noisy screaming shows in the 90s, which had no impact on life in the country at all. So the Communists and their allies, who received a combined majority in the State Duma in 1996, as if nothing had happened, were considered “marginal”, did not influence anything and, most importantly, easily reconciled themselves to this situation. Yeltsin had no support, except for a circle of close oligarchs, and he still ruled almost single-handedly. And against the background of such a depoliticization of public life, political technologies and a crooked and cynical race of political strategists blossomed. That’s what happened with the simulacra politics. It has developed and, apparently, for some reason, has taken root in our society.

The strangest thing is that the situation in this matter has not changed even after Putin came to power. Everything, but not this. Most likely, the fact is that Putin took advantage of such an alienated state of political processes in society to strengthen his grip on power. Everyone around him continued to play meaningless games, political technologists spun their nauseating scenarios, and Putin, knowing what he wanted and what he was going for, silently did his job in a Chekist way. Most likely, it was completely rational on his part and we must admit that it worked. Yes, there was and is no political life in Russia. Yes, political technologies still replace any political processes. Yes, political ideas in society have practically disappeared except for those that the Russophobic West stubbornly feeds, but espionage (like liberalism) does not count. And here Putin is absolutely right not to take this into account and act harshly and decisively against the fifth column.

But gradually, this strategy, which is certainly successful for Putin himself and for his domestic reform plan in Russia, has become a burden for the people. The President has a free hand and has complete legitimacy for almost anything. But the fact is that in such a situation, a society completely devoid of real political life cannot but degenerate. Political technologists effectively paralyze the will, creating simulacra and once again letting political enthusiasts along the wrong route – in the spirit of cockroach races. But they also undermine the foundations of public life, and when a certain turn of power requires the mobilization of society, there will simply be no strength, no trust, no desire. And at some point, it can become fatal, as it happened at the end of the Soviet period. The Communist Party then lost power not because alternatives appeared, but because all political life in the country had been wiped out. Artificial galvanization, which the architects of perestroika began, in fact, was already a political technology – still naïve and not perfect, but it was it. After all, not once in perestroika has a single serious question been really raised and formulated –

  • Capitalism or not capitalism (socialism)?
  • Conservatism or progressivism?
  • Realism or liberalism in the MO?
  • Atlanticism or Eurasianism?
  • Patriotism or cosmopolitanism?
  • Empire or open society?
  • Adam Smith or Keynes?
  • Liberalism in foreign trade or mercantilism?
  • Sovereign national currency or currency board?
  • Traditional values or copying of Western postmodernity?
  • Full of markets and pro-marketism?
  • Go left or right?
  • Russian identity or abstract ideology of human rights?

Everything was decided by default – in the 90s by liberals who seized power together with Yeltsin. Since 2000, Putin alone and his preferences were much more acceptable to society, but they were implemented in fact. And again with the help of political technologies. Without political discourse, without full explanation, without the complicity of the people in their own destiny.

In my opinion, such dominance of political technologies has historically exhausted itself. It is necessary to consistently and gradually move towards the revival of political life in Russia – and this means political ideas, philosophies, strategies, values, guidelines, conversations, disputes, reflections, programs, projects, proposals. It is hardly advisable to immediately translate this into party politics: the party format has long become something deeply apolitical in our country. In this area, in my opinion, the awakening of thought is not possible. Technology has finished off Russia’s party system. But there are other forms and ways, routes, and practices.

It’s time to declare war on political technology (and political strategists). This is not just a cynical deception, it is an obstacle to the historical development of a great country. In such a situation, political technologies are criminal.