Ideology-less Authoritarianism

From Roger Cohen’s article yesterday which makes the plea that democracy, though imperfect and brand-damaged, is still an ideal featuring values which are worth fighting for.  Krastev makes the point that Russia doesn’t change because its political system doesn’t stand for anything beyond the maintenance of the status quo … and yes, the best and the brightest are leaving.

The borderline between democracy and authoritarianism grew more opaque. The dichotomy between freedom and tyranny suddenly seemed oh-so 20th century. The new authoritarianism of China or Russia was harder to define and therefore harder to confront.

“Regimes like the one in Russia are stabilized by the fact that they have no ideology,” said Ivan Krastev, a fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. “There is really no ideological means to attack them.”

They also derive resilience from the fact that their borders are open.”The middle class is not interested in changing the system because ifthey don’t like it they can fly to London,” Krastev noted.

Having grown up in Communist Bulgaria, he believes democracy wasoversold in the 1990’s. All good things, at the Cold War’s end, wereshoveled into the democratic basket: prosperity, growth, peace. Whendemocracy stopped delivering in these areas, it suffered. Too little wassaid about democratic values, including freedom.