Dialectically, any dominant power is based on the effective assertion and demonstration of physical advantage over that which is its life support resource. Anyone who is familiar with systems theory and clearly understands the concepts of emergentism, addictiveness and entropy is aware of what I am talking about.
When we talk about sociality in living nature, we must remember that asserting advantage – maximizing competitive properties to gain a better position – depends on two factors: the ability to cooperate and the ability to conflict.
Cooperation is necessary for social support; it aims at getting the members of a society to give out maximum loyalty to the dominant social beneficiary. In this case, cooperation should be understood as any non-conflict interaction between two subjects with consensual distribution of benefits and costs for each party.
Conflict is necessary in order to neutralize and silence the activity of the dissenting part of the community, no matter who it is represented by – an aggregated mass of subordinate members of society or rebellious dominant elites.
Finally, a hybrid strategy is a simultaneous targeted intimidation and titillation, when subordinate members of the community are loyal and ready to fulfill the will of the domain on the one hand, but on the other hand adequately assess the demonstrated violence as a deterrent in expressing potential active discontent or desire to take the place of the dominant.
These are the grounds for any social dominance strategy of any social subject aspiring to social leadership. These are equally valid for any community, from a family of hamsters to a colony of termites or a human society.
Accordingly, these grounds are also relevant to the two polar social arrangements of humanity – democracy and dictatorship.
As I have mentioned many times before in other essays, social static and dynamic norms – constraints, rules and processes, and, in general, institutions – determine the degree of rigidity of social dominance of a certain subject.
Limitations, in turn, are born of environment, biological profile and learned traits, tradition, habits, experience, culture. Let me remind you, for the overly anthropocentric readers, that the biological nature of culture and ethical norming is the ability to pass on a mix of adaptation experiences and habits of living in a particular environment to a new generation in order to gain the greatest survival advantage and maximize individual genetic inheritance.
Culture and ethics (and even more so religion) are merely biological evolutionary fact, the optimal way to send genes into the future according to the data that humans have acquired through evolutionary adaptation, like the giraffe or termites.
Concentrating on human society, it can well be argued that where the absolutism of individual freedom and natural rights dominates, the dictate of social rules will be the least, because these rules will be subordinated to the interests of the individual even when the individual commits a crime, that is, infringes on the individual freedom and natural rights of another person.
Rules and institutions in a certain community are organized accordingly, culture and ethics are formed accordingly, or, to be more precise, traditions and customs. (I consider the notion of “culture” to be too average, allowing for excessive variation of interpretations, generally esoteric and unscientific).
In communities where individualism is at a low level, where self-identity is linked exclusively to overall social efficiency, subordination of the private to the general, physical force and its corresponding narratives and norms will inevitably dominate: compulsory vertical hierarchy, punishment as the main incentive to comply with the rules, loyalty to the superior or stronger as the optimal way to obtain maximum benefits and take the place of the superior in the vertical power hierarchy in order to win in competition. In such societies, aggressive conflict is an existential paradigm of life, dominating over cooperation as an alternative competitive option.
Atavism, inherent in any, even the most developed and free human communities, cannot be eliminated simply because humans are ordinary primates with a very short evolutionary track. But atavism, as a degradative trait, can be reduced simply by making greater use of our main evolutionary advantage, the brain. After all, our large (but decreasing in weight and volume, unfortunately) brain, technical development and “culture”, humanization, finally – this is simply a way to gain an interspecies competitive advantage – something that humans have successfully demonstrated by becoming one of the most adaptive and numerous expanding species on the planet after fungi and viruses.
And now let us come down from heaven to earth and look in this connection at the state of society in Russia, namely at the relationship between the dominant beneficiaries and the people – the main resource of the loose Russian dictatorship.
The regime is in a state of maximum instability. New rules, adequately corresponding to the dictatorship, have not been created. The ruling elites are mistakenly trying to use actually liberal institutions and tools of market economy and social information communications to build a dictatorship, trying to sit on two chairs – to preserve the capitalist market economy and at the same time to fall into North Korea, to take total control of individual self-consciousness, excluding the prefix “self” from it. But both are impossible.
Strange as it may seem, all social tightening is actually meaningless actions that do not change the frame, the very essence of the regime based on the mercantilist-feudal but market convention of social existence (it is not legitimacy, but precisely convention). On the other hand, when the authorities convince the subordinate population of their legitimacy, and then have to constantly violate this legitimacy, from the shameful and failed poisoning of Navalny to the story of the Prigozhin revolt, one can see the confusion, inconsistency, and fragility of the position of the dominant power group. In such a position, it is difficult to convince the population of the normality of the present day and difficult to compete with other interest groups, to which some of the elite interests will, of course, adhere (Prigozhin, Girkin).
This will simply lead to the erosion of popular support and the loyalty of the root electorate, if such a term can be applied at all in Putin’s Russia. And most importantly: such convulsions lead to the fermentation of elites. Hungry groups are not dormant; they are constantly mutating, metamorphosing, looking for new opportunities. And as soon as a new opportunity presents itself, they will configure themselves and fill the empty space, squeezing out an ineffective and failed dictator. The activity of the extreme right, which has just begun, is proof of the gaps in the regime’s strength.
The current Russian regime has neither a normal institutional frame, nor a strong strategic position, nor, as it turns out, a stable root electorate. All it has is accumulated economic reserves that are melting away and a feudal power vertical that is crumbling.
This regime has lost its evolutionary race, and its main beneficiaries unreasonably think that they still know how to both conflict and cooperate. In the socio-political and soon even in the biological sense of evolutionary competition, they are simply “living dead”.