Putin and Russia’s right-wing populist majority

Russia has a much greater concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny elite than the USA does, and a much more thorough surveillance state.  The conflict in Ukraine gives Vladimir Putin the opportunity to draw attention away from the former and beef up the latter.

vladimir-putin-riding-bearAll this was well-described in an article by Mark Ames for PandoDaily, an on-line magazine.  I have no first-hand knowledge of Russia, but what he wrote seems right to me.

He said Putin has lost the support of Moscow’s and St. Petersburg’s managerial and professional class, along with the liberal intelligentsia, and has built a new political power base among Russia’s impoverished masses.   The majority of Russians are even worse off materially than they were under the failed Soviet system, and they blame the urban economic and intellectual elites.

Now if you want to appeal to the masses, and you can’t or won’t adopt policies that will make them better off, you wage a culture war.  That’s how it works in the USA and many other countries, and it is how it works in Russia.

That is why Putin cultivates his manly, tough-guy image.  That is why he has adopted a hard line against the Pussy Riot demonstrators, whom he has made into a symbol of the decadent West.  Ditto for his hard line against gays and lesbians.   He did not initiate the conflict in Ukraine, but it plays into his hands.  It makes him even more popular than he is, and gives him cover for cracking down on the opposition.

He is likely to be in power for a long time, and I don’t think we Americans can do anything about it because, as Ames wrote, Putin’s politics aren’t about us.

What do you think?

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Sorry America, Ukraine isn’t all about you by Mark Ames for PandoDaily (5/14/14)

Everything you know about Ukraine is wrong by Mark Ames for PandoDaily (2/24/14)

The War Nerd: Everything you know about Crimea is wrong(er) by Gary Brecher for PandoDaily (3/17/14}

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One Response to “Putin and Russia’s right-wing populist majority”

  1. Atticus C. Says:

    As I read this article I noticed a lot of interesting parallels to the United States in how you described Putin and Russia:

    “He said Putin has lost the support of Moscow’s and St. Petersburg’s managerial and professional class, along with the liberal intelligentsia, and has built a new political power base among Russia’s impoverished masses.”

    This reminds me of Obama and most of the political class more and more. I remember early on everyone was so enthusiastic about Obama, but after 6 years people have realized most politicians are more of the same.

    “Now if you want to appeal to the masses, and you can’t or won’t adopt policies that will make them better off, you wage a culture war.”

    Like you said, we do that too.

    It’s kind of funny. As we critique Russia, we can just as easily critique ourselves. Even if to a lesser extent.

    Like

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