Russia » Politics

A Farewell to "Liberalism"

Results of the reformation period that has been lasting for fifteen years now, start creating a solid foundation for the proper discussion regarding the essence of the liberal model and the possibility of its implementation for peaceful purposes.

More so, the author of the following article used to consider himself a liberal for a long time; he still believes in “liberal values.” With time however, strange as it may seem, it turned out that liberalism was inseparable with the distinct Western political orientation. In fact, it was under its total influence. And this is a totally different story.

The almighty power of the elite

According to Mikhail Yuriev's article published in “Izvestia” (27/04/04-the article was basically his personal response to Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s letter), at the core of the liberal political model lies not so much the actual adherence to democratic principles, as self-worth of a weak state. “…Putin’s main ‘flaw’ in the eyes of liberals is not that he does something wrong, but that he is simply too strong. And Yeltsin’s main advantage was not his success in handling the matters, but the fact that he had constantly been on the verge of losing his power… This is basically the main unspoken claim of the liberals addressed to Putin’s Russia: this elite does not belong to a specific group per se, this elite as a whole has ceased to be almighty…” It is a weak government in turn that serves as a prerequisite for the elite’s all-powerful reign, for by doing so, it strengthens its position of a mediator between the authority and the people. In the case with Russia, the problem worsens due to the fact that our liberal elite inevitably ends up not simply pro-Western but conciliatory.

By the way, total control of the media (especially electronic sources) executed by the ruling elite represents the main instrument of assurance of its power. Once again, judging by the Russia’s example, in case you are dealing with conciliatory elites, such control turns into an instrument of obtrusion of certain politics and values to the country.

Selective effectiveness of economic liberalism

In his letter, Mikhail Khodorkovsky has rightly stated that majority of those involved in big business treat Russia merely as “a free hunting zone”. It can also be added that within the framework of the liberal economic paradigm, Russian business has no other alternatives.

Liberal economic model is considered to be the best in terms of its effectiveness. However, there exist no evidences proving the effectiveness of the model in action. The fact is that the so-called abstract liberal model represents some kind of a homogenous community without any national, religious, cultural and political prejudices; “peaceful economy” in other words. As it turns out, this is the only way to ignore inequalities between the players involved.

Free and fair competition marks the most important criterion for the liberal model to function properly. Should the parties involved possess totally different interests, their mass (i.e. importance) becomes the utmost factor. In that case however it becomes very difficult to consider such competition a fair one. From the standpoint of an overwhelming majority of specific players, the overall integral prize of the “peaceful economy” becomes meaningless or even deadly; especially, if we were to assume the existence of a sole “owner” of this entire economy, the one we actually know. In this case, liberalism ceases to exist.

Liberalization of world economy in the field which entails openness of markets (mainly for American companies) had been obtruded by the United States right after WWII. The so-called American aid (“The Marshall’s plan”) was devised specifically to achieve this goal. Openness and economic disarmament were the main conditions of the aid. Why was the postwar USSR, with its less effective economic system, capable of resisting America? The answer is clear: because it refused to adopt Marshall’s plan. It simply refused to open up. Such political move in turn enabled America to develop so rapidly.

Nobel laureate Joseph Sterling once noted that such politics had nothing to do with the economic theory. According to him, it's an ideology.

Harmonizing fantasies with reality

Attempts to preserve “liberal values” amid the collapse of the humanitarian illusions concerning the triumph of all-human values and the benevolent integration of Russia into a world community give birth to new chimeras of the order to some. Whereas Khodorkovsky’s colorful perspectives of liberalism appear rather naпve, “liberal empire” of Anatoly Chubais is an example of much more powerful motivation. “…Russian liberal empire must lock the chain of great democracies.” There can be only one Empire. Subjects are not allowed to form any sub-empires. The empire itself is eligible to lock this chain. It’s all up to it.

One of the Pentagon’s files that had been declassified in 1992, presents the following account of American doctrine of foreign politics:
“Our main goal is to prevent the emergence of a new rival whether on the territory of the former USSR or some place else…Our strategy should involve prevention of the emergence of any global rival.”

Should Russia take this as a challenge, the answer can in no way be liberal. Undoubtedly, market is a fine economically effective instrument. Market together with competition comprises the core of any country with growing economy. However, who said that the market has to be open? In case rational isolationism ensures fair competition on the domestic market and openness in turn destroys it, then such isolationism is more effective and therefore is considered integral.

Extinction of liberalism proponents in Russia

Soviet and post-Soviet intelligencia used to be the main exponent of ideas of liberalism, of market reforms and those concerning merging with the West. While living in times of free and at the same time wild market, Soviet intelligencia has gone completely broke and what’s even most important, has lost its role of the “nation’s mind”. Intelligencia (or rather its remains) has lost its power. Russian intelligencia is non existent in the form it used to exist during the Soviet era.

One of the best examples of this would be its immigration to the West. Their immigration can be compared to a flight after the Second World War. Ideological Western bridge is losing its base, i.e. pro-Western intelligencia.

According to a famous Professor of American studies Anatoly Utkin, “white woman’s refusal to give birth could be the only reason for the new world revolution.” Western white Christian serves as the best representative of culture-based liberalism. Refusal to reproduce will certainly lead to the extinction of a particular civilization, of the civilized idea. …Refusal to reproduce and the dying out of the liberalism proponents results in the triumph of liberal ideas. This could probably be the end of it.

On the matters of Russia's “European choice”

The fact is that destinies of the so-called liberalism and liberals themselves are closely connected to the “Western values” and to the West in general. Feodor Mykhaiovich Tyutchev used to write the following: “…We are forced to call Europe something that cold not have been called otherwise…Civilization…this is something that distorts our minds…”

“…I am more inclined to believe these days that we have already acquired everything that could have provided us with a peaceful imitation of Europe…We simply needed that sort of a hostility to make ourselves aware of who we really were. And in order to be successful any individual (any society) has first of all know himself. I know there are people who think there is nothing new learn about ourselves. But in this case however the only thing worth doing would be to stop existing; and in the meantime, I think, no one is inclined to think this way.”

The only thing that has changed since Tyutchev’s times though is the fact that nowadays people do tend to think this way. In Russia, some of them call themselves liberals.   

Mikhail Leontiev

"Glavnaya Tema"

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