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Save ourSouls
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, 10 2007

 ... By Alexander Ryklin in Ezhednevny Zhurnal (Daily Journal)

Just after the May holidays the Levada Center published an investigation into the results of the difficult, and, undoubtedly, effective work by the present-day Russian authorities in destroying civil society in Russia. The investigation demonstrated more than clearly that the Kremlins efforts have not been in vain our collective civil self-awareness has been ruined, and our national dignity has been wasted.

Thus, 35 percent of Russian citizens interviewed stated that they were for the LIFELONG presidency of Vladimir Putin. It is not without reason that Ihighlighted the word lifelong; strictly speaking, it allows us to reach the aforementioned conclusions. Levada Center is a highly regarded sociological service, and the representative natures of its surveys have never once been placed in doubt.

Consequently, what we have is what we have: one-third of the citizens of Russia refuse to identify themselves as free peoples prepared to take responsibility for their own destinies. They believe that a totalitarian future for themselves and their children is the best lot they can have. The crux of the matter here, certainly, is not Vladimir Putin, however one may relate to him. The matter is in the mass readiness of our fellow citizens to ignore the fundamental democratic principles on which the governments of all successful nations in todays world, without exception, are founded: the principle of replacing the authorities.

From the high ideological offices there is already a satisfied spluttering: How many years have we been telling you this? smiling somewhat vilely, the modern engineers of human souls ask in private conversation. Cattle, they are cattle, and you must keep the bridle on them. This sums up all the internal policies of the present-day authorities. Naturally, this is the only possible, adequate solution for the condition of the Russian public, otherwise there would be chaos here. You wish to let these people vote? Imagine whom they would pick? Yes, something like this is already starting. It is possible that in a few dozen years, when the public has matured, the principle of real government by the people can come to fruition in Russia. But for now, this is all twaddle and irresponsible demagoguery. While we, the people, invested with power, we have to carry the weight of responsibility for the entire nation Etc.

During one such conversation, my collocutor, in reply to my angry remarks along the lines of: Those reptiles have brought the public to such a deplorable state, destroying freedom of speech, political competition, real parties, in reality they have killed public life merely shrugged his shoulders indifferently. Lets suppose that everything is just as you say, he pronounced. Only what does it all mean right now, why has it happened? It is important that it happened, just look at the results of the sociological polling.

At first glance, this is an impenetrable position, and iron logic. To some extent this point of view is supported by many of our traditional democrats, such as member of the SPS political council, Boris Nemtsov, for example. More than once we have heard from him that while the price of oil remains high and the authorities are still able to feed the poor, skinny populace, then the situation in Russia will not change.

In other words, it remains for us to wait, hope, and believe. Whoever does not have patience, however, should collect his goods and chattels, take his household under his arm, and look for shelter somewhere outside the boundaries of our genial native land. But this, certainly, is not a patriotic position to sit back, stretch out your legs at the table in a foreign restaurant, and wait for all this ugliness to be done with. The calamity in the logic behind the development of totalitarian systems one can scarcely foresee such a turn of events. Waiting, moreover, has to be done in a different place. In short, this sort of doom, this lack of alternatives, seems far-fetched to me.

? For a long time it has been known that the sociology of a captive society works differently, that the reflection of this same society carries a conditional character. In general, Ibelieve that questions such as: Do you wish that Vladimir Putin was president of Russia for life? with all due respect to the sociological services, are not completely appropriate. I see in such questions the existence of an ethical deficit, and, perhaps, a legal one as well. Are you certain that people can be asked about everything? It would be interesting to know from you, dear readers, what part of the citizenry of Russia would answer positively to a question, let us say, such as: Do you believe that all the Jews and people from the Caucasus should leave Russia? In my view, such a question would disclose a burning national discord, i.e.: extremism. But does the question about a lifelong presidency not contradict our Constitution and undercut the foundations of our constitutional structures? Does it not also contain within it elements of extremism?

In short, these are particularly professional problems, but society as a whole should ask different questions of itself: is it ready to agree to such a lack of alternatives in its own destruction? Or, if not, what are the mechanisms of resisting this sad prospect?


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