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Brezhnevian Putinism

brezhnev112308.jpgToday Paul Goble blogs about a recent article in the New Times by Valery Panyushkin, which argues that Russia under Vladimir Putin is rapidly beginning to look like the Russia of Leonid Brezhnev.  A few years back, Bob also wrote that sovereign democracy is, in essence, the Brezhnev Doctrine revisited.

In many ways, Panyushkin says, “the Brezhnev paradigm” is being repeated as Karl Marx predicted, first as tragedy and then as farce. As then, Russians don’t like corruption but learn to use it. As then, they don’t approve of the privileges of the elite but instead seek to acquire some for themselves.

One of the many examples he gives of this farcical return of the past is the role of the Internet, which Panyushkin suggests is “now playing the role of samizdat in Brezhnev’s times.” Just as with samizdat, so too with the Internet, “it is still impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff.”

And similarly,just as the nationalist “Veche” enjoyed greater popularity than thehuman rights samizdat journal “Chronicle of Current Events,” so now theInternet site “Classmates” enjoys “a much larger audience than anyinformation site, something the users of the latter often forget.

But behind all of these similarities is an even more fateful one: “Thepowers again as in Brezhnev’s time have begun to be conceived assomething like a phenomenon of nature. It doesn’t enter into anyone’shead to argue with them; instead, society is inclined so as to adapt tothe powers that be and to live its own live, deceiving and using theregime in its own interests.”