Russia's Sandy Democracy Doesn't Fly
- By Yulia Latynina
- Sep. 10 2008 00:00
In response, Moscow is trying to create its own unipolar world, recruiting countries like Venezuela, Libya, North Korea, Iran, Syria and Cuba to its anti-West axis.
Despite its deep dislike of the West, Russia's patriotic elite drive Mercedes cars, educate their children in London, buy villas in Nice and keep their money in Swiss bank accounts. Its stores sell Finnish toilets, Western designer clothes and German refrigerators. Unfortunately, there is not much worth buying from Syria or North Korea. The only thing they can produce is a lot of anti-Western rhetoric, and unfortunately, you can't package this bluster and sell it in stores.
It is also interesting that the oil-trading company Gunvor, owned in part by Gennady Timchenko, who has close ties to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, is not registered in Venezuela, Syria or in its own native Russia, but in bourgeois Switzerland.
We all know why the West didn't care much for the Soviet Union. After all, it built a progressive, democratic and affluent communist society that the Western bourgeoisie envied with a passion.
But I can't understand why the West dislikes the current ideology of post-Soviet Russia. After all, it abandoned communism a long time ago, and it sells its precious oil to the West through Gunvor and gas through RosUkrEnergo at fair market prices.
If you take a closer look at the essence of the Kremlin's ideology, you will be shocked. You shouldn't believe all of the terrible stuff the West says about Russia. As it turns out, Russia is building a genuine democracy, not the sham democracy like in the West. Moreover, it is not seizing private property and nationalizing it to enrich high-ranking state officials; it is building a true market economy, not the kind found in the West. Finally, it did not initiate a war against Georgia as a result of Putin's personal vendetta against President Mikheil Saakashvili. It carried out a peacekeeping operation in accordance with international law, and it enforced a genuine peace, not the pseudo-peace you see in the West.
Anthropologists have written a great deal about the 20th-century "cargo cults" that arose in Melanesia. Adherents of those primitive faiths believed that all the amazing Western goods (or cargo) such as automobiles, guns and clothing were originally created by spiritual means by their ancestors. These modern goods had been intended for the Melanesian people, but the cursed white people stole everything before the goods could be delivered to the Melanesians. After seeing real airplanes for the first time, the Melanesians built one from sand, thinking it would fly.
The Kremlin has taken a page from cargo cults. It is trying to build democracy, a market economy, and it is attempting to enforce peace. But the only problem is that all of these institutions are also made of sand. Like the Melanesian airplane, none of them can fly very well.
The Melanesian people were certain that those infernal white people didn't like them, and they had two ironclad arguments to prove it. First, the whites had seized all of the wonderful goods that the Melanesians' ancestors had intended for them. Second, their airplane of sand couldn't get off the ground — probably because the white people had cast a spell on it.
There are two basic ways to approach life. In one, you build a real airplane and fly it. In the other, you build an airplane of sand and then blame the evil West and its insidious plots and machinations for the fact that it won't fly.
Yulia Latynina hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio.