[Marxism] Kagarlitsky in Canada

Ken Hiebert knhiebert at shaw.ca
Sun Oct 4 13:37:41 MDT 2015

On September 30th I travelled to Victoria, BC to hear Boris Kagarlitsky.  His talk at the University of Victoria was sponsored by the Centre for Global Studies.  Victoria was one of four cities he visited in Canada.  http://newcoldwar.org/boris-kagarlitsky-russian-political-analyst-to-speak-in-four-cities-in-canada/  
Apparently UVic is noted for its studies of political science.  I talked to a young man who had come from Italy for the purpose of studying poli sci at UVic.
The afternoon talk was a success. There were about 50 people there, spilling out of a room that was made for a smaller group.  

I took some notes and will report the talk as I recall it.  Roger Annis was there as well and can add to what I say or correct what he sees as errors.  Below is what I heard.  It is not exhaustive.  In a few instances I am paraphrasing.

Russia is not a democracy and not a dictatorship.  One Russian bureaucrat told BK that they aspire to the "Egyptian model."
BK describes the system as  "repressive tolerance."

Television is totally in the hands of the government.

Electoral fraud is not used to rob any party of their share of seats.  Rather it is used to inflate the voter turnout.  Eg. one bureaucrat said, "Our fraud was totally honest."
Voter turnout is sometimes as low as 10%.  30% is seen as a tremendous success.

Decision making is accomplished by informal negotiations.  Putin is a consensus maker among interest groups (my paraphrase).  Russia is modelled on a Western corporation.  On those occasions when Putin drops out of public sight for a week or more, he may be involved in a meeting with stakeholders.  In some ways Putin is like a monarch, a symbol, but a more active one, perhaps like Queen Victoria.

Under Putin there has been increased consumption.  

Given the system of negotiation, those who don't do well in one set of negotiations believe they will get something in the next round.

The Ukraine has not made a successful from oligarchy to corporatism (or to a corporation, can't read my writing).
Ukraine lacks oil, lacks resources to distribute.
There is a lack of trust within the elite.

Ukraine is a disorganized oligarchy compared to Russia as an organized oligarchy.
Later he indicated that there is some breakdown of consensus among the Russian elite and major figures are pubically opposing Putin's policies.

The upheaval in Ukraine was not a Western conspiracy, but a local crisis.  The contradiction between Russian speakers and Ukrainian was not that important.

Russia is guided by realpolitik and is reacting to the crisis in the Ukraine as any major country would.  Moscow had to do something.  (My notes are sketchy here).

The movement in Eastern Ukraine is motivated by a desire to return to a welfare state.  Russia does not wish to annex Eastern Ukraine.

The Russian elite is a comprador bourgeoisie trying to act like a national bourgeoisie.

The children of the elite hardly speak Russian.

The domestic policy of the Russian government will mean more austerity and more privatization.

Russian society is sleeping.   Russia will generate a lot of surprises.

In the Q & A

Russia's intervention in Syria is an attempt to get a deal with the West re Ukraine & Crimea.
The only force that can oppose ISIS is the Syrian army.
(If the Q & A had gone on longer, I would have pointed out the role of the Kurds and the FSA in fighting ISIS).

The Russian elite is Westernized, metropolitan, but for the rest of society the  church is being promoted.  To the point that a manual has been approved for the teaching of creationism in the Russian school system. This manual is not yet widely used.

One person said that in the fighting in Chechnya, Grozny was "razed."  BK did not specifically address that charge, but he did say that Russian policy toward Chechnya was, up to a point, catastrophic.  He also said that Russia was now paying ex-guerillas to police Chechnya.

While is playing a positive role internationally, promoting a multipolar world, at home its policy is repressive and neo-liberal.

Estonia is doing reasonably well, but a great many people are leaving Latvia to find work.  In other countries, people who speak Latvian are finding themselves in community with Russian speaking Latvians and, in that sense, being Russified.

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