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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Truth and lies about the “youth revolt against the Kremlin”

“In democratic countries, every new generation is a new people”, — said once the famous French political theorist of the nineteenth century Alexis de Tocqueville. If you count the starting point of the Putin era the appointment of the GDP to the position of acting Prime Minister on 9 August 1999, work: last summer, the first representatives of the “new people”, which was formed exclusively in the company directly or indirectly of the Board of the current President, came of age. Reached — and, according to conventional political wisdom, at once rebelled against his parents and the political character of the era.

“Putin has lost the youth!”, “The new generation says “no” to the Kremlin!” — this was the conclusion after the sudden Renaissance of the political career of Alexei Navalny came many representatives of the Russian political class. But the objective reality is much more bizarre of our ideas about that reality. To the amazement of many, including me, now it turned out that the rumors about the decline of the political stars of Vladimir Putin, the youth have been greatly exaggerated.

photo: kremlin.ru
The increase in the number of meetings of the President with young people — a personal initiative of GDP.

How Russian

At the end of the summer of 2017 in the respected German newspaper “die Welt” under the scathing title “So Russian” there was an interview of Lev Gudkov — a fierce critic of Putin and Director of the independent sociological Institute “Levada-Center”. One of the parts of this interview seemed to me so remarkable that I will venture to quote it almost verbatim.

Question: “After two protests, Navalny had the impression that its main support comes from young people. Growing up a new generation of fearless?” Answer: “I think that’s a distorted perception of journalists. Most of Navalny supporters from 25 to 40 years. In the latest protests were actually a lot of young people. But that’s not the whole generation, and especially children from the middle classes, who adopted the values of their parents. In the last two or three years, a new wave of patriotism in schools again actively began to impose to children the ideology. Young people in large cities perceive this as violence. Hence the resistance, on the one hand, the moral, the other aesthetic protest. But it is a very thin layer, 2 to 3% of all young people”. Question: “And the rest of Russian youth?” Answer: “Young people really tend to support Putin…”

Not all of the above disclaimers Lev Gudkov is, from my point of view, perceived as the ultimate truth. For example, I have provoked widespread internal protest that’s what the mind of the esteemed Leo D.: “In the last two or three years, a new wave of patriotism… Young people in large cities perceive this as violence.” But when the head of “Levada-Center” throws his rebuke to the people of my profession, it is, unfortunately, absolutely right. We all — journalists, analysts, politicians and activists are guilty of rash judgments. We grabbed one small piece appearing on our eyes the new political landscape, managing to completely ignore its basic meaning.

Modern world history is full of examples of how the youth acts as a motor powerful political cataclysms. One of the most striking examples — the notorious “Arab spring”, which in the beginning of this decade was demolished several well-established political regimes in the middle East. In Russia it is fashionable to seek the roots of the “Arab spring” to the machinations of the West. They say that America and Europe tried to remake the middle East in his image and likeness, but very quickly got into a mess. The reality is more complex and more prosaic. The West really tried to ride the “Arab spring” and use it to their advantage. But the West was not the puppet master of this “spring”. The role of the puppeteer was played by the very dynamics of demographic and economic processes in the region.

I’ll try to decipher this forced vague and pseudo-scientific phrase. As we all know, even the huge and deadly firestorm starts with one tiny spark. The spark that ignited the flames of the “Arab spring”, was a conflict in the market in a small town in Tunisia because of the amount of money in less than seven dollars. Yes, you heard right. In the summer of 1989 just left the post of first Secretary of the Communist party of Uzbekistan, Rafik Nishanov badly tarnished his reputation, explaining the bloody massacre in the Ferghana valley, a fight in the market “because of the dish of strawberries”. But in Tunisia all really broke out over a petty domestic conflict in the market.

17 December 2010, 26-year-old fruit vendor Mohammed Bouazizi felt unbearable shame confiscation of their goods simple representatives of the local authorities and staged a self-immolation. The news of this tragedy spread around the country and led to mass unrest. After 11 days the young Martyr was visited in hospital by President Ben Ali of Tunisia, but it was too late. On 14 January 2011, Ben Ali had to flee the country, and then the regimes in the middle East began to crumble like a house of cards. Why the personal tragedy of a single little man had such far reaching effects? Because millions of young people in the middle East, saw in the fate of Mohamed Bouazizi, the mirror reflection of their own issues.

A huge mass of labor-surplus youth population combined with an economic system that is not able to digest this mass of young growth, to channel the energy of unnecessary young people in a positive direction, give meaning to their existence, just as, according to experts, looked the fuse of the “Arab spring”. It is easy to notice the problems of contemporary Russia are of the opposite character. Our country is suffocating from a lack of labor. If not for our ability to attract the Russian government’s army of migrant workers, the Russian economy has long been would lie on the side. The new “Putin’s people” — this generation, which is too little.

Not to be unfounded, let’s compare the key indicators of the two States — Egypt, where the vortices of the “Arab spring” overthrew a regime long military leader, President Hosni Mubarak, and Russia, where the flame “swamp fire” very quickly dissipated like smoke. The average age of the population in Egypt — almost 24 years. The average age of the population in Russia — almost 40 years. The proportion of people under 25 years of age is in Egypt 52,23% of the population. In Russia a total of 26.65%. According to understated official statistics, the unemployment rate among Egyptian youth is 34.3%. The same indicator in Russia of 13.7%.

As said mark TWAIN, “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics”. However, in this case statistics should not be considered cunning and deceptive. Because these data do not mean that Russian youth in the chocolate and that she had no problems. The new “Putin’s people” a lot of different issues that require urgent attention from the authorities. Given me the statistics mean something else: the political turmoil on the model of “Arab spring” in modern Russia is impossible. As I said, the General Director of the sociological service VTSIOM Valery Fedorov, “the revolution taking place in young countries, and we’re not a young country. We are a country with a completely non-revolutionary profile”.

Why, then, arranged by Alexey Navalny opposition rallies for the first time in many years, you could see a significant number of youth representatives? Because now is changing the political and psychological climate in Russian absolutely all age groups. Because cementious in the last three years our political process postkrymsky consensus ceased to be monolithic.

As reminded me of Valery Fedorov, “postkrymsky consensus rested on three main tenets shared by the majority of the population. First: faced with a massive external call, the Russian society should unite. Second: we must give a fitting rebuff to those our opponents who are trying to bring Russia to its knees. Third: solving these problems, we need to rally around a recognized national leader, the President of the country.”

In 2017 postkrymsky consensus has not disappeared and, I am sure, will soon disappear. Moreover, it can even be deployed with the new force. But society can not indefinitely be in a state of mobilization. Russian society is changing and change with them and form postkrymsky consensus. The absolute majority of Russian citizens still does not want to totally surrender to the mercy of the West. However, this reluctance to give up starts to be combined with a much more critical attitude to the official Russian management structures. “The Russian mass consciousness gaining strength the processes of rationalization and deideologization, — continued his story Valery Fedorov. — People are tired of foreign policy. People want to know, personally, when they increase wages. People no longer accept the explanation of the officials that a specific problem is not solved because we clamps the West.”

By themselves, these sentiments do not carry a fundamental threat to the power of Vladimir Putin. “Stability has ceased to excite Russian citizens, — said Valery Fedorov. — Society has formed a demand for change. But people don’t want these changes was traumatic. The people want change based on stability. Shocks in the style of Yeltsin or Gorbachev useless”. The shocks are useless, but the demand for an alternative, a different view, a viable opposition in the society was formed in parallel with the request for a change. To grab the query tried was decommissioned in circulation politician Alexei Navalny.

Navalny and his magic wand

In 1955, the new conservative Prime Minister Anthony Eden, suddenly announced the dissolution of Parliament and holding of early elections. On hearing this, the leader of the opposition labour party of Clement Attlee ended his trip to the United States and urgently flew to London. In the native airport, the opposition leader met the journalist bi-Bi-si with a camera. If you would place Attlee was any modern British (and not only British) politician, he would have greeted the reporter as his long-lost brother. He would have told him what a wonderful political ideas have with his party, as it will certainly win the election and is bound to change the lives of the people. But, unfortunately for the television reporter, Clement Attlee was a politician of the old school.

As told in his book “live from Downing street” by the famous British journalist Nick Robinson, the first leader of the opposition party gave a few monosyllabic answers to increasingly desperate questions from television reporters, and then politely told him where to go. To an even greater fiasco has become a pre-election speech by Clement Attlee from the Studio Bi-bi-si. It was assumed that Attlee will answer pre-prepared his assistant questions within 15 minutes. However, the stock of eloquence of the opposition leader, only lasted for five minutes. After that, the British television broadcast hung in painful silence.

At the time of the events described Clement Attlee was 72 years old. Behind him was six years in the office of the Prime Minister and many actions not in words, but in fact changed for the better the lives of ordinary citizens. For example, when Prime Minister Attlee in the UK was introduced the principle of free health care. Excuse me, therefore, noble old man, Clement Attlee, his complete lack of talent in the field of PR and political technologies — lack of talent, which isn’t much different from the lack of talent in the bulk of the leaders of the Russian opposition movement.

Our system opposition parties remind me of the honored hunting dog that is so fat that she had neither the strength nor the desire to once again climb with a cozy rug by the fireplace. No matter what bunnies, ducks, partridges, and other delicious game running just a meter away from our dog. All that its missing is a disgruntled barking and wagging tail. From non-system opposition politicians is another matter — complex eternal loser. They already know that this election they do not Shine. And they already explained that if the elections were truly honest, they would show the whole world what they actually hoo.

In terms of the ability to apply himself Alexei Navalny is almost the only professional surrounded by dull lovers that make up the top non-systemic Russian opposition. Bulk does not hesitate to experiment, to proceed by trial and error. Bulk without hesitation behaves like a political chameleon, changing his colors depending on the requirements of the current political moment.

Again give the floor to Valery Fedorov: “non-system Russian opposition politicians for a very long time rest assured: if we do not have access to television, we have nothing. Hence their constant scream: “let us in the box!”. However, Navalny has proved that in the right hands the Internet can also be quite effective propaganda tool. All this, taken together, led to the fact that in the first half of 2017 the Bulk of the action again became a factor of political games in Russia.

But needless to overestimate the importance of this factor? Here are the conclusions reached by Valery Fedorov concerning the phenomenon of Navalny: “In General the younger generation of Russians remain very apolitical. The most popular political party among the youth is the party “and let’s go get a beer!”. Becoming the first opposition politician who learned to talk with youth on her tongue, Bulk has dramatically improved its brand awareness among these age groups.

But high awareness is not tantamount to high political support. The level of support for Putin among the youth is immeasurably higher than the level of support for Navalny. Do not overestimate the proportion of oppositional youth. Judging by the last two demonstrations in Moscow, the share of youth among the core activists of the Bulk — about 20%. The remaining 80% — this is a protest asset from older age groups. One important caveat: young supporters of Navalny — it is primarily people who have not yet entered into real adulthood. They have a minimum commitment, but underlined perfectionism in relation to all”.

It is easy to notice that twenty percent, the proportion of young people among the participants of the opposition demonstrations is quite well correlated with the total number of young citizens in the Russian population. It turns out that the government has the moral right to Pat myself on the back and give yourself an “a” for its policy towards the younger generations of Russians? No, it is impossible. Complacency is always a very bad political line. And complacency towards the problems of youth and is arguably the most successful recipe for political suicide. Reefs, which can descend the ship of state youth policy, not just a lot, a lot.

For example, I really didn’t like how some regional officials have responded to the emergence among the students affiliated schools, participants of the opposition rallies. I grew up in a journalistic family and the elementary school was apparently too politicized and overly talkative child. I vaguely remember, as I frankly told some of his teachers that “Chernenko does not pull”, “in our country stagnation” and that “soon everything can fall apart”. Let me remind you that all of my paintings took place in an era not frightened of the KGB.

However, to honor my teachers, all of my anti-Soviet statements have not had any effect. My parents because of this, never even called to school (but they are there sometimes caused my non-political offenses). And what we saw in some regions of Russia today — a period when our life is hundreds of times more free than it was in Soviet times? We saw some school administrators act in the spirit of the worst of the Soviet repressive traditions.

“That’s your expression now plays against you. Because under blow substituted your parents… It means you really can now stand under threat of removal from the family, because your parents because of your reckless actions do not perform their duties” — such methods of struggle with “ideological contagion Navalny” is simply unacceptable. They are at least immoral. And I was very pleased to learn that the Kremlin is thinking in the same way. Both assured me the source of Putin’s inner circle, each such case has resulted in “a flogging that appropriate Governor gave the Federal leadership”.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that young Navalny supporters have a moral or political right to break the law. No such right — or at least should not be — none. The above means that building a line regarding young supporters of Navalny, the authorities must walk a very fine line. The brutality and violation of civil rights is unacceptable. But attempts to flirt, trying to play in the giveaway, attempt to close eyes on violation of the law is also unacceptable. Has already become a catch phrase “they’re children!” should not be an indulgence for permissiveness.

“He who at sixteen was not a liberal, has no heart. A man who was conservative to sixty, no head,” said the once-famous nineteenth century British politician Benjamin Disraeli. Replace in this expression greatly changed its meaning for two centuries the word “liberal” more accurate “radical”, and you have a recipe for success Bulk in the teenage environment. But what worked for Bulk, just doesn’t work for his opponents — not only for the government but for all those who do not want the transformation of Russian cities in the arena of street fights between protesters and police.

Supporters of the progressive and evolutionary path of development Russia needs a completely different recipe for finding common ground with a disgruntled among young citizens. And I even have a suspicion as this is the recipe may look like. Speaking of unhappy with the current state of Affairs in the older age groups of the Russian, Valery Fedorov said: “the middle-aged People require the power of a serious, rational, adult conversation.” I think the same applies to the younger Russian generations.

The formula “the party said to the young Communist League said there are” no longer works and will not work. Pro-Kremlin movements like “Our” was closed not just. The authorities make sure that such organizations do not bring real benefits, but bring very real harm. Politics is in a very considerable degree “science of persuasion”. Such sophisticated “the servant of the people”, as Vladimir Putin seems to feel this instinctively. According to my data, the frequent large-scale meetings of GDP with young citizens of Russia — is not the initiative of Putin’s advisers from the Kremlin administration. The initiator of these meetings — the President personally. Putin does not want to lose emotional contact with “Putin’s people” — the young generation of Russians. GDP understands that ultimately, it is “Putin’s people” will determine the fate of the political legacy of Putin.

The Bulk Business. Chronicle of events

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