Our Father, Who Art in the Kremlin…

putin040210.jpgThe things I like best about Andrei Piontkovsky are his exceptional restraint, carefully measured understatement, and avoidance of inflammatory language … OK, Piontkovsky is pretty much the opposite of all that, but that doesn’t mean he is without some good points.  I usually respectfully disagree with the “regime is about to collapse” argument of the opposition, but rather the discussion should focus on the impact on society of Russia’s institutional corrosion.  The loss of many of these social shock absorbers (such as functioning courts, accountable cops), does put a stopwatch on the sustainability of the current model.

From Piontkovsky on Project Syndicate (Japan Times):

At such moments of decline in Russia, the clans always come to the fore in a mad scramble of self-preservation and self-enrichment. Even Putin’s truest followers are now beginning to speak of their leader and the results of his governance in impertinent and disrespectful ways.

Of course, no one should think that Putinism will disappear tomorrow, even though its jackals are already circling. Let us remember that Soviet communism took four decades to rot away — decades during which the inner circle knew that the regime was disintegrating from within but lacked any real idea of how to save it.

So now we hear pathetic echoes of all the communistreform efforts of the long years of Soviet decline: Putinism withoutPutin, Putinism with a human face, etc. There is much talk of greatleaps forward, of modernization, innovations and nanotechnologies — thesort of myths with which fading rulers console themselves as they lookfor magical solutions to cure the dysfunctions of their regimes.

On the street, other echoes are heard. Our “father” didnot turn out to be a father at all. Even among Putin’s kleptocracy ofex-KGB men — as among the communist apparatchiks in the dying days ofGorbachev’s rule — there is a growing realization that the jig is nearlyup and that it is time to look after oneself.

So, as Putinism atrophies, the great hope among hisimmediate circle is that they will be able to do what the communistelite did in the early 1990s — hijack whatever new system emerges andput it to work in the service of their own interests.