Revolution Is Out; Evolution Is In. The Shifting Strands of Russian Liberal Thought

Simplifying things somewhat, one can identify various strands of Russian liberal thought, each of which has a different view of what is wrong with Russian society. According to these various viewpoints, the problem is alternatively:

a) The Russian state has been hijacked by a small band of ‘crooks and thieves’ who enjoy no popular support. Street revolution is the solution – all you need to do is cut off the rot at the top and all will be well. (Navalny is typical of this, but until recently it was a view that went well beyond him).

b) The problem lies deeper; it’s rooted in the socio-economic system created under Yeltsin, and the solution requires a fundamental restructuring of property relations. (This is the Yabloko/Yavlinsky view.)

c) The problem lies deeper still; it rests in the ‘slave psychology’ of the masses and the solution lies in lustration, decommunization, rewriting of history, and so on, in order to extirpate Homo Sovieticus (the ‘Sovok’) from Russian society. (A popular view among RPR/PARNAS types).

In an article published today in RT (that you can read here), I discuss a potentially important shift in thinking from type a) thinking towards something a little closer to type c), albeit with a crucial difference, namely that rather extirpating the Sovok, author Vladimir Pastukhov says that it’s time for liberals to compromise with him. In the process, he abandons the idea that the Russian government lacks popular support, and abandons also the hope that it will be overthrown by revolution. The way forward will be some sort of compromise, which changes parts of the existing system but also retains many of its elements.

Revolution is out, in other words. Evolution is in.

Happy reading.

14 thoughts on “Revolution Is Out; Evolution Is In. The Shifting Strands of Russian Liberal Thought”

  1. The entire foundation below this… chthonic… blogpost is erroneus. There is no such thing as “Russian liberal thought”. Only fifth coulum of the pro-Western heevees.

    It’s only logical. Liberalism is THE ideology of the capital, therefore its proponents serve the one with the deepest pockets which, at the moment, is the so-called “West”.

    “”Russian” Liberals” would never symphathize with “That Country” (c), its people and their choice. They can’t – least they cease to be liberals.

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    1. Liberals avoid at all cost nowadays the term Father or Motherland, having become a globalists not agreeing to border within which each country can reinforce its own laws without interference according to the provisions to the Peace of Westphalia.
      However, true Marxists have to be internationalists as well, as history shows that socialism in one country is not feasible and ALWAYS will be threatened by the international capitalism.

      So, for a true communist it is also impossible to adhere to an idea of a fatherland or motherland, as this ideas itself is based on a nationalism by a former feudal class and later was appropriated by the early capitalist before they turned global to have the capitalist in each nation gain advantage of that same class in the competing nation.
      See as prime example WW1.

      So, is a however expressed nationalism still in anyway defensible for anyone who calls himself socialist? Or will it lead once capitalism is rejected to the idea of a National Socialism, what the brothers Gregor and Otto Strasser wanted to achieve however with a heavy dose of antisemitism?

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      1. Nationalism is defensible from socialist perspective when it defends national government’s socialist institutions. This is the position that has always been a contested point between those practicing in communist countries and their western counterparts living in the shadow of imperialism. Somehow by having zero achievements in establishing worker’s rights and by agreeing to bourgeois agenda of “totalitarian regimes” and “victims of communism” makes your more entitled to the cause because “it was not a real communism”. A bunch of domesticated clowns, they are.

        When globalised capitalism comes to a country and asks its government to dismiss national policies what it really asks is to dismiss socialism and surrender to demands of capital. This is unfortunately a very latest development in modern “twitter communist” movement, which consists of idiots who have zero understanding of deception and misdirection. Patriotism is bad, they argue, because it only defends oligarchy (!?).

        Take Olympic games, for example. Somehow I am forced to believe that after my country has been oppressed, isolated, disgraced and slandered (which is everything possible wrong that can be done against the letter and spirit of Olympic movement) by a west-owned piss-metering “ant-doping” agency, according to them, our government is supposed to submit to that humiliation, boycott the Olympic games out of selfish anger, and deprive our sports of moral and monetary support just because “it’s bourgeois entertainment corrupted by oligarchic capital”.

        While I can’t disagree with the latter statement, for every conscious person it should be obvious that such demands are not made by honest socialists but rather by cackling liberals who observe the failure of their own morals but at least try to retort with hypocritical mockery.

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      2. “it’s bourgeois entertainment corrupted by oligarchic capital”.

        is it bourgeois entertainment? Historically as in the arts entertainments were not purely “bourgeois”,#. But yes, within my limited mental horizon, I would offer two names:

        Lance Armstrong vs Jan Ullrich, born in. East Germany 1983.

        according to them, our government is supposed to submit to that humiliation, boycott the Olympic games

        I agree, distasteful humiliation of a lot of Russian athletes. And beyond the Russian state.

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    2. In order to make sense of this require the perspective of reverse engineering. Over here are a clot of entities disgruntled because they are not receiving sufficient benefits from the state gravy train. In order to better qualify, they must advance some sort of position. They invent their own party line. But that can be anything at all. Just a case of fashioning whatever out of thin air. Doesn’t have to be sound, intelligent or rational. Don’t be looking for such as that in what yer proto-liberals have to bloviate. They’re just makin’ it up as they go along, bro. If you were offer them enough loot they’d get busy pushing Esperonto or Atomic vacuums.

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  2. PR suggests in his article that sovoks don’t exist, when in fact they are just as real as liberasts. In fact, the two are mirror images of each other, the sovok being a hopeless loser looking back to an imaginary past and the liberast being a hopeful loser looking forward to an imaginary future. Most Russian people however are neither sovoks nor liberasts and are mostly concerned about the present, which is not so bad, and the near future, which has some hope of being somewhat better.

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  3. I heard everything in your RT article, including your observations, including the notion of deceiving the sovoks/bourgoisie (and the notion that the sovoks/bourgoisie are hopeless losers), 55 years ago.

    Why do we need to repeat history?
    While chanting the slogan about learning from history.

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  4. Meanwhile in the real world “The Archival Revolution” in Russia goes from strength to strength with yet another “data dump” of the declassified information. This time it concerns pretty darlings of maestro Robinson:

    FSB published documents about Hitler’s punitive forces among the Russian emigration

    Part of the Russian military emigration during the Great Patriotic War was used by the intelligence services of Nazi Germany as part of punitive units, in particular, the SS Volunteer Regiment “Varyag” [Varangian], materials about which were published on the website of the FSB of Russia.

    The SS Volunteer Special Regiment “Varyag” was a special unit of the SS troops. The battalion’s core was the anti-Soviet Russian emigrants who lived in Yugoslavia. Among them were graduates of cadet corps, military school courses of the Russian General Military Union (ROVS), civilian youth from the Russian diaspora in Yugoslavia and others. Former officer of the Russian Imperial Army Mikhail Semyonov, who was promoted to SS Hauptsturmfuehrer, was appointed commander of the “Special Purpose SS Battalion”.

    […]

    Initially, the “special purpose SS battalion” numbered about 600 people and was under the operational command of the HQ of the Wehrmacht army group in Serbia and those divisions to which it was part. The supply of the battalion was carried out through the Main Directorate of the SS. However, contrary to the original plan, the battalion was not sent to the Soviet-German front, but was used for punitive operations on the territory of Yugoslavia.

    Killings of the partisans.

    What kind of “security function” was performed by the SS Special Regiment “Varyag” in the Balkans is described in detail in the documentary materials published by the FSB from the archival investigation file against the former serviceman of the Varyag regiment Grigory Burbelo, who was undergoing training in the 2nd (Ukrainian) company.

    A descendant of the kulak peasants, the Ukrainian Burbelo lived in 1941-1944 on the territory temporarily occupied by German troops in the Kherson region. In February 1944 he voluntarily entered this SS Special Purpose Battalion. Since August 1944, as part of a battalion, later transformed into a SS Special Purporse Regiment “Varyag”, he took part in punitive operations against the Yugoslav partisans. After the war, he was arrested by the Soviet security organs.

    “The personnel of the battalion under the command of Semyonov robbed the population of villages that maintained contact with the partisans. Under the force of arms, we took cattle out of the villages, took food, clothing and valuables from the population. A number of settlements whose names I do not remember, in which we found partisans , we subjected to complete devastation, burned down the houses of the families of partisans. The local population in these cases was completely expelled from the settlements, “- said Burbelo during one of the interrogations.

    In addition, the “Varangians” took an active part in the murders of the Yugoslav partisans on the territory of Slovenia. Burbelo also testified about this.

    “The partisans taken prisoner were shot or handed over to the German SS for reprisal. True, I personally did not have to shoot the captured guerrillas, and how many guerrillas were killed or wounded by me during military operations, I find it difficult to say, because it was impossible to take this into account. I don’t deny that I have participated in the battles against the Yugoslav partisans more than once,” – said Burbelo.

    At the beginning of 1945, the special purpose battalion was upgraded into the punitive Volunteer Special Purpose Regiment “Varyag”. The headquarters of the regiment consisted of Russian officers – White emigrants, in contrast to many collaborationist formations of this kind, where the command positions were carried out by officers of the Wehrmacht and the SS.

    The participation of punishers from the SS regiment “Varyag” in the fight against the Yugoslav partisans continued until the collapse of the Third Reich. In May 1945, the regiment’s personnel laid down their arms and crossed into Austrian territory, where they were interned by British troops</strong. From Austria, the former punishers were transported to the city of Taranto (Italy). At the end of June 1945, the British again returned the "Varangians" to Austria. Together with other servicemen, Burbelo was handed over to representatives of the command of the Red Army and sent to a special camp for repatriated persons.

    Sadly – not everyone had been caught. As it turns out, a lot of them were paperclipped and found employment in the US this time working for the CIA. Why, astute and perceptive commenters might notice the topmost link in maestro Robinson’s blogroll. The so-called “Jordan Center” at NYU is a brainchild of the descendant of just such weaponized migrant, who now employs other weaponized migrants (including those whom his family previous bosses wanted to eradicate) in order to fight “eternal Russia”.

    Erroneusly labeled “Left” in the West and handwringing “mainstream liberal” enablers of it are very loud in their desire to “Punch the Nazis” (c) as a prefered method to establish the bright tomorrow. In reality, real Nazis and their incorrigible descendants can sleep soundly and unperturbed – once servant of the Empire (any Empire), they are good for life and beyond. Their masters will ensure the survival of them and their way of life to show, that being a traitor pays.

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  5. Here an article by M. Hudson, the one economist who deserves that titlew that should expose Robinsons dream of a “liberal” society as what it is: a dream that has died long ago with the demise of industrial capitalism vs. the now gaining ground financial capitalism. A long article but a short study well worth to read as a succinct analysis why the US and EU model are the opposite of what they want to claim to be: Democracies
    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/04866134211011770

    “All economic systems seek to internationalize themselves and extend their rule throughout the world. Today’s revived Cold War should be understood as a fight between what kind of economic system the world will have. Finance capitalism is fighting against nations that restrict its intrusive dynamics and sponsorship of privatization and dismantling of public regulatory power. Unlike industrial capitalism, the rentier aim is not to become a more productive economy by producing goods and selling them at a lower cost than competitors. Finance capitalism’s dynamics are globalist, seeking to use international organizations (the IMF, NATO, the World Bank, and US-designed trade and investment sanctions) to overrule national governments that are not controlled by the rentier classes. The aim is to make all economies into finance-capitalist layers of hereditary privilege, imposing austere antilabor policies to squeeze a dollarized surplus.”

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    1. So basically, in a nutshell, liberalism is socialism’s wimpy overweight younger cousin who gets beat up in the playground, despite being on the same team

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      1. Liberalism was not beaten by socialism or is it’s cousin, liberalism was beaten by Neoliberalism so the conclusion by Hudson is (I saved the pdf before the lock down)

        Hudsons conclusion is that socialism only can follow as the logical and historical necessity if the return of industrial capitalism can be achieved. It is after all socialism who resolves the many inherent contradictions of capitalism, i.e. the socialized production vs. the private accumulation of capital from as Marx put it “frozen labour” and the prevention of the a corporatist state, i.e. fascism which is of course inevitable if financial capitalism establishes a neo feudal society based again on rent as a means of accumulation.
        China is willing to reign in their capitalists like Ma to prevent them from establishing the rentier neo feudalism:

        https://thescrum.substack.com/p/china-manufactures-things-and-social

        Hudson’s article unfortunately seem to be locked down behind a paywall, I was able to download the pdf file. Here is conclusion:

        “The transformation of academic economic theory under today’s finance capitalism has reversed the progressive and indeed radical thrust of the classical political economy that evolved into Marxism. Postclassical theory depicts the financial and other rentier sectors as an intrinsic part of the industrial economy. Today’s national income and GDP accounting formats are compiled in keeping with this anticlassical reaction depicting the FIRE sector and its allied rent-seeking sectors as an addition to national income, not a subtrahend……

        Industrial capitalism’s resistance to this international pressure is necessarily nationalist because it needs state subsidy and laws to tax and regulate the FIRE sector. However, it is losing the fight to finance capitalism, which is turning into its nemesis just as industrial capitalism was the nemesis of postfeudal landlordship and predatory banking. Industrial capitalism requires state subsidy, infrastructure investment, and regulatory and taxing power to check the incursion of
        finance capital.
        The resulting global conflict is between socialism (the natural evolution of industrial capitalism) and a pro-rentier fascism, a state-finance-capitalist reaction against socialism’s mobilization of state power to roll back the postfeudal rentier interests.
        Underlying today’s rivalry felt by the United States against China is thus a clash of economic systems. The real conflict is not so much America versus China, but finance capitalism versus industrial state capitalism/socialism. At stake is whether the state will support financialization benefiting the rentier class or build up the industrial economy and overall prosperity.”

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      2. ‘Liberalism’ is one of many streams that capitalism draws sustainance from. Capitalism itself mutates, adapts. People don’t live an Ideology. Individuals are bags of contradictions. They most often seem to act against their own interests. This – the scope of practice of the subjective – is a mighty force of intervention that limits, conditions, diverts and antidotes wherever otherwise the material forces might be tending to. People bugger everything up. You can’t herd cats so much.

        That being said the so-called [working term] Russian liberals of Navalny class are being actively supported by western parties hostile to the Russian government. However, the indigenous supporters are typically all over the map dissipated by endemic infighting. Some of them, leaders maybe, choose to act as agents of the Capitalist International. When a forensic case can be made of criminal conduct let the case be made.

        Otherwise, be happy to allow these clowns all the unfavourable publicity their worthless situation generates. For surely there are contrary partisans galore. Squaring up against rats with a good cause to hand is ever the most persuasive tool in the struggle for winning opinion. You don’t so far advocating in a vacuum or against straw men. You get far being seen by all as victors over bloviators in a fair fight.

        Good tradecraft is an art best wielded by those with combat experience.

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