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Putin’s Approach ‘Absolutely Bolshevik But Without Ideological Justificaiton’ – OpEd

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The Bolsheviks used repression and terror in order to build a new state and society, Alina Vitukhnovskaya says. But Putin is acting in “an absolutely Bolshevik fashion” but without a similar goal, something that makes his regime even more offensive than its predecessor.

The Russian writer and commentator says that the latest round of repressive actions by the Kremlin is useful to the extent that it has provided “a unique vaccine” against passivity by the population and the views of many that they should not get involved in politics (newizv.ru/comment/alina-vituhnovskaya-2/05-02-2021/vlast-v-rossii-absolyutno-bolshevistskaya-no-bez-ideynogo-ugara).

What is happening now is not, despite what many fear and believe, any “repetition of history,” Vitukhnovskaya argues, because unlike the Bolsheviks, the Putinists are not animated by any vision of progress and social change. All they are driven by is a willingness to use any means necessary to keep themselves in power.

“The Russian police today work the way the district militia did in the 1970s,” she continues. They act on the basis of lists prepared by others to keep the situation unchanged. That means that there has been a complete collapse once again of any system that might change the situation for the better.

Those who suggest that this is somehow like the German Reich are wrong, Vitukhnovskaya says. What is on view is “the armed collective farm,” and that is underscored by the fact that the Kremlin now talks not about revolution but about “historical (and hysterical) delirious revanchism.”

“Despite the roots of the Kremlin regime” which go back to 1917 and its self-image as a continuation of the Bolshevik dictatorship, it is acting with very different ends in mind – its prolongation in power rather than societal transformation. However, despite that, it too will “inevitably devour its own ‘children.’”

That is something that threatens not only the Russian people then but also those who are oppressing it to survive, Vitukhnovskaya argues. And it needs to be stopped before it goes that far and drowns the situation in blood as happened in 1905-1907. Russians outside the regime and in need to recognize that danger.

But so far, those at the top have not and so have been acting in an “absolutely Bolshevik fashion,” albeit without the ideological drive that the Bolsheviks had. And what that means is this, the Russian writer says, is that Russia today features what can be called “a post-modernist version of Leninism.”

Now all this is taking place before our eyes, the writer says, with the completely unjustified repression becoming the order of the day. That provides “a severe but necessary lesson” by showing the Russian people that the current regime lacks even the legitimation that the Bolsheviks had.

And at the same time, Vitukhnovskaya concludes, it is leading ever more Russian to “feel on their own skin the grip of ‘the wolfhound century,’ about which he or she had only read in books or seen in movies.” 

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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