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Profound Unenlightenment

Writing at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Mikhail Shevelev makes the case that despite the abuses of the current Russian leadership, the leading figures of the opposition fail to inspire.  Basically Shevelev argues that street protests never result in change without concrete, systemic demands … that, or widespread violence.  Interesting and controversial.

We have some very greedy and larcenous people in power. And what’s worse — they are really stupid too, incapable of learning from historical precedents. And what’s worse still — they are extremely poorly educated, honestly believing that capitalism is a world of money for the taking and that democracy is just a screen for the ruling class — just as they were taught in the Social Science Academy and the Higher School of the KGB.

The people who are opposing the authorities also seem somewhat intellectually unimpressive. Most of them think history started with Vladimir Putin, as if he were really the source of all our present-day misfortunes. As if the only response to cheap state propaganda that calls the 1990s “damned” is to say that they were “blessed.” As if this Putin had not been formed in part by their errors, illusions, and moral compromises.

On the one side, we have greed and poor education; on the other, we have sincerely held illusions. But the majority of Russians have another problem — the most profound unenlightenment, magnified by many years of dedicated brainwashing. This is not their fault — but it is our main common misfortune.