By Paul Goble
“The key to understanding” Moscow’s decision to go to war in Ukraine lies in “the corporatist character of the Russian elite” and the increasing ritualization of power at the top, Pavel Luzin says. Today, “the only corporation Putin speaks for is the FSB,” which increasingly dominates what the Kremlin does at home and abroad.
“However insane the words of the Russian president seem to us,” the Russian commentator says, “these are the words and this is the language of the way of thinking which is characteristic for almost any officer of any regional administration” of the Russian successor to the KGB out of which Putin sprung (theins.ru/opinions/pavel-luzin/248984).
The distrust of rationality and the belief in a special historical mission are characteristic of all these present and former Soviet and Russian special services because “only such an ideological construction allows the representatives of this corporation to explain, justify and preserve their place in the Russian political hierarchy,” Luzin continues.
And the ritualization of thought and action among these people has allowed them to transform at least in their own minds this war as “a unique ritual which unites the elite together and also guarantees an absolute monopoly on political and economic power” by its officers, according to the Russian analyst.
Such people see as a triumph what almost everyone else, including members of the Russian economic elite, views as a disaster, the de-globalization of Russia which means that the FSB cadres can rule the roost even if the rest of the Russian elite and the Russian people suffer a major defeat.
Putin and his FSB colleagues are betting that they can mobilize the patriotism of Russians sufficiently to keep their power beyond challenge; but Russian society and the Russian economy given the willingness of the West to impose increasingly draconian sanctions may make that ever more difficult the longer the war goes on.
That in turn could lead to radical shifts either within Russia or between Russia and the rest of the world but whether these would move toward some kind of reconciliation or even sharper breaks between the Kremlin and Russia or between Russia and the West remains “impossible to say” for the time being, Luzin concludes.