The Individual, the State, and the Internet

I am loving this wide-ranging, meditative essay by Andrei Loshak posted on as well as openDemocracy on civic movements within the Russian internet vs. the presence of the state.

The wildfires were a demonstration that we and the state co-exist in parallel worlds.   They deal with their problems and we get on with solving ours.  At that time the Ministry of Emergencies site had PR shots of Shoigu, TV did the same for Putin.  We, the people, were trying to work out where the fires were and who to save:  we organised ourselves into groups and set up information networks about the fires. (…)

The problem of the authorities today is their organic inability to overcome the «tyranny of the selfish replicator».   The names they have come up with for the Putin era!  Monetocracy, hydrocarbon civilisation, utilitarian elite, the time-server generation.  They’re all about Chichikov’s theory of starting with a kopeck in order to get rich.  There are no populists, no great power nationalists:  what there is a firm belief that «cash conquers all evil».  Nothing could persuade officials to believe in the purity of someone’s intentions, if they are not in some way connected with multiplying that same kopeck.  «Who’s behind you?»  «Where do you get your orders from?» are the questions that civil rights activists hear all the time.