FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Managed Democracy Always Fails in a Crisis

by BORIS KAGARLITSKY

The crisis is developing exactly as expected. The inability of the authorities to cope with the rising wave of social problems has naturally spilled into the political sphere.

At the same time, the mechanism of “managed democracy” has yet again demonstrated all of its strengths and weaknesses. The greatest strength is the way the system can rather effectively resist not only widespread social discontent but also the pressures of an increasingly disturbing reality. But it cannot withstand those mounting pressures indefinitely — and therein lies the main weakness of the existing order.

The authorities are able to pursue their political course and ignore voter sentiment because they have created a political system in which every sanctioned political party is only a puppet of the ruling party. Their relationship to the leadership and to each other strictly controlled, the outcome of elections predetermined and the distribution of seats in the parliament made according to the needs of the rulers.

But managed democracy only works well when the economy is booming. During an economic crisis, it runs into trouble. When the people’s standard of living falls and the political elite turn a deaf ear to the problem, the people reach a point where their greatest frustration is not with the economic hardships they face but with authorities who prevent them from effectively voicing their dissatisfaction.

Deprived of the right to vote for the political party of their choice, elections instead become the chief means by which the people can vent their anger at the authorities. And as voter turnout declines, the number of people who vote to spite the authorities increases sharply.

Intellectuals from Moscow and St. Petersburg glued to Facebook have no idea of the pressure applied in recent days to millions of provincial civil servants, doctors, teachers, university professors, students and others.

For example, bloggers in Moscow did not receive calls from their child’s teacher who, in a state panic, pleads with them to go and vote because otherwise the school is threatened with various forms of punishment.

They were also not subjected to a speech from their bosses saying they would check every name on the voting list and would personally deal with anyone whose signature they found missing.

Moscow intellectuals have no idea how much bravery it took to just not vote on Sunday.

Few were forced to vote for United Russia. That would have been impossible to enforce in most cases. Authorities only demanded that everyone go to the polls and vote for whomever they please, promising that they would take care of the rest.

Those people who called on their fellow citizens to come out and vote only helped perpetuate the electoral fraud. They signed their names to the list of voters, and now nobody can prove that they did not vote for the party of power. They accepted United Russia as the ruling party, and they also accepted the clowns from the Communist and Liberal Democratic parties as the “opposition.”

People who voted in many towns and villages essentially betrayed those who made the brave choice to stay home or otherwise resist the coercion from their employers. They will never learn.

Boris Kagarlitsky is the director of the Institute of Globalization Studies.

Boris Kagarlitsky PhD is a historian and sociologist who lives in Moscow. He is a prolific author of books on the history and current politics of the Soviet Union and Russia and of books on the rise of globalized capitalism. Fourteen of his books have been translated into English. The most recent book in English is ‘From Empires to Imperialism: The State and the Rise of Bourgeois Civilisation’ (Routledge, 2014). Kagarlitsky is chief editor of the Russian-language online journal Rabkor.ru (The Worker). He is the director of the Institute for Globalization and Social Movements, located in Moscow.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail