Brezhnevian Stability

brezhnev_berlinwall042709.jpgAlexei Bayer’s column in the Moscow Times today brings up a rather eloquently concise framing of how Western and Russian perspectives differ over the roles of states and markets … being that the fundamental agreement may have something to do with a tolerance of uncertainty (this isn’t the first time that Brezhnev has been brought back from the dead in talking about contemporary Russian politics).  The immediate question:  how long before it is decided that “stability” is not worth the costs in terms of liberties that are being demanded?  Beyond the propaganda and insult trade, there are some interesting cultural aspects to the discussion.

Here’s a bit from Bayer’s piece; once again viewing Russia’s past coming back big time:

But rather than harp on the old canards about the exploited and downtrodden U.S. working class and a clique of greedy capitalists who had all the money and power, Zorin talked more about the uncertainty of life in the United States. Time and again he returned to the theme that a U.S. worker could lose his job or home at any moment.

The unspoken contrast with the predictability of Soviet life was obvious. If your cousin sends you a photo of his new car six months after arriving to New York, don’t be tempted to follow him. Here, your life is stable and your right to work is guaranteed by the Soviet Constitution.

Curiously, stability has been claimed by the current regime as its main achievement. While Soviet propaganda contrasted communist stability with the unpredictable perils of the United States, now the contrast is drawn with the lawless ’90s. Just like Zorin’s documentaries, the implicit message from today’s Kremlin is: In the 1990s, you may have had freedom, but now you’ve got law and order.