Sep 11, 2021
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Democracy is everything

“TOMORROW”. Sergey Borisovich, elections of deputies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation are coming. We have already seen the campaigns of the four main Russian political parties. The thought involuntarily arises: “Maybe we can do without elections altogether, than like this? ..”

Sergey PERESLEGIN. It makes sense to talk about the crisis of democracy, the crisis of representative democracy, the crisis of representative democracy in Russia, or even the crisis of representative democracy in Russia in 2021.

The only party that offered its political program to the voter is, oddly enough, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. There is a document in which goals are defined, actions are indicated, steps are outlined. We are dealing with something, at least similar to a program. Yes, it is absolutely impossible to call this document a strategy. It has a declared goal – “to stop the rise in prices”, and the proposed action – “stop the rise in prices!” However, nine obvious statements, most of which are populist, are still framed as a real political program. The other parties did not even do that.

Take the Liberal Democrats, for example. Honestly, I have not seen this in my entire rather long life. The electoral poster of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia is in the form of the word “LDPR” and a box in which there is a check mark.

From my point of view, the LDPR has no serious chances with such a level of election materials. This party should lose a lot of votes. All this means that the LDPR does not take these elections seriously. Perhaps serious changes are coming within the party or its complete reorganization.

Moving on: “Fair Russia”. The billboards have the face of Sergei Mironov. He, as a politician, is quite recognizable. And in agitation, the same formula is repeated in different ways: “We will cancel the Pension Reform!” The question: what was “Fair Russia” doing when this reform was carried out remains completely open. As well as the question, how is she going to cancel this very Pension reform in the current economic realities? In general, it is clear that this slogan is designed for a very narrow, in every sense, layer of the electorate.

But most of all I was surprised by “United Russia”. I’ve seen quite a few United Russia billboards. Each of them depicts a face. These are the big faces of people whom we are offered to elect to power. And everywhere it is written: “United Russia”. Actually, that’s all … Sometimes this information is accompanied by a statement like: “For a strong and united Russia!” There is no specific meaning in this campaign. It is not clear what this person in power will do!

After all, we are talking about the “party in power.” She probably has some resources. Well, at least she was able to pay for the installation of billboards. Is it really difficult to call some social studies teacher with a request to write a dozen or two slogans that can be placed on these billboards? We have to admit one of two things. Or the paralysis of management has reached such a degree that they simply did not have time to do it. And, maybe, on September 15, someone will finish this work: slogans of a meaningful nature will nevertheless appear on the streets of Russian cities. Or, which is no less likely, no one in United Russia is at all interested in the actual results of these elections, because the proportions of seats in parliament have been determined in advance. And from this point of view, it really does not matter how the campaign will be conducted.

“TOMORROW”. Your examples speak more about the attitude of these parties to the electorate. Perhaps the parties are trying to apply the simplest marketing techniques, bypassing the actual political content. After all, people no longer believe in any programs, any promises …

Sergey PERESLEGIN. I would agree with you, looking at the election campaign of the Communist Party. Their approach meets basic advertising requirements. They have a better color scheme, and the slogans have some meaning … Although very primitive, it is still there. In this regard, there is a feeling that the Communist Party wants to sell itself. And this is good! My inner horror is that other parties, including United Russia, no longer want anything …

After all, even a purely advertising approach requires beauty, a certain culture of self-presentation.

There is a feeling that the pre-election campaign, propaganda, and the very organization of the elections are being conducted without much interest. This means the real death of representative democracy, not on a practical plane, but as an idea.

Take, for example, our history of the early 1990s. Then the parties fiercely argued, defending their essential positions. Having come to power, certain people tried to implement these positions, more or less sincerely, more or less successfully. But in any case, the choice was made on the basis of political positions. Then political strategists came to the electoral process and manipulations began. People are offered not positions of parties, but their brands, media images. But political technology is even tougher. After all, this is not just a media image, it is an answer to the question of what media image will be needed in a given place at a given time. Where it is necessary, roughly speaking, to screw in the bulbs in the entrances, and where to repair the roads, and where to put a billboard. This is the next stage in the development of democracy. We seem to have passed this “next stage” at the beginning of the 2000s. Now the third stage begins – the terminal one. This is when the electoral process is completely regulated. And we fall under the saying of Mark Twain: “If something depended on us at the elections, we would simply not be allowed there …”

Of course, you can start lamenting: “How awful everything is in Russia! We, as always, have no democracy, only one tyranny … ”And then on a knurled pattern. But take a closer look at the US elections over the past decade. I’m not even talking about the most recent scandalous elections, during which violations are visible to the naked eye. For Americans, accustomed to trusting their political system, something is broken. This trust began to fade away.

It is very likely that the mechanism of representative democracy, adequate for the early industrial phase of development, has ceased to function.

For almost all of human history, people have been attached to the place where they lived. Accordingly, when they came up with representative democracy, of course, they divided the country’s territory into territorial sections, and people voted precisely from Paris, from Brittany, from the Languedoc … This is me about the Great French Revolution, where this was done for the first time. People lived in their territories, and the deputies from these people defended the rights and interests of their territories. During the industrial phase, some elements of this mechanism began to malfunction. But on the whole, production remained tied to land, workers to production, trade to workers. Again, one could say that the deputies represent the interests of a particular region. But notice, we are now living in a community world. This is a fundamentally different situation. Communities, especially with the advent of the Web, are by no means territorial. And they do not behave like territorial ones. At the same time, they have their own interests. But it turns out that even a very large community, if it is unsuccessfully distributed over the territories, cannot, in principle, have deputies to protect its interests. As a result, a situation arises when people cease to associate themselves with the territory. Many still have a connection with the country. With the people, the language – yes! But with a specific territory – no! Well, for example, in particular, I can speak for myself. I am a resident of St. Petersburg. I do not associate myself with this city and do not want to protect my interests in terms of living in it. I need protection in terms of my position and activity. Indeed, I would like to see representatives of certain groups and classes in the State Duma. The time has come to move from territorial districts to the formation of districts by ethnicity, by groups, by communities …

As for the parties. We all faced terrible challenges in the form of a pandemic, infodemic, visible signs of the construction of an electronic concentration camp system …

Everyone is waiting for an answer to certain groups of questions and challenges. This is an economic blockade, it is also a matter of changing the tax system. Indeed, in order to force production to develop, the tax system must be transformed. Each large community in Russia has five, six, seven questions that are vitally important to it.

So, it turns out that not a single party even tries to offer any intelligible answers to these questions. Their election campaign is exclusively about consumption: “We will return the Pension Fund, we will stop the rise in prices.” There is no answer to the question of how the rise in prices can be stopped in the face of a serious production crisis. How can this be done at all ?! The parties have ceased to understand that their main task is to respond to the basic challenges facing the country and the people. They are parties because each of them must offer its own special response to the main challenges. And let the voters determine whose answer they think is more adequate. And if one party did not succeed in solving the problem, perhaps the next time it will succeed in another. But now not a single party offers an answer to the basic challenges of history.

“TOMORROW”. It turns out that it is not particularly worth mourning representative democracy, since it has outlived itself? And right are those who dismiss the topic of elections and campaign carelessly.

Sergey PERESLEGIN. Remember, they said that under Comrade Stalin, innocent people were regularly imprisoned, and sometimes even shot with the wording “for sabotage.” All this is terrible! But when you start to study the real administrative activities of officials in our state, you very quickly come to the conclusion that maybe the innocent victims were not so innocent. There is the United Russia party – the party in power. There is the president of the country – Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. Someone offers him an idea: in a crisis, it is necessary to pay pensioners 10,000 rubles each, and security officials – 15,000 rubles each. And this thought is recorded as a presidential order. Most likely, this initiative had nothing to do with the September 19 elections. Most likely, long talks about rising prices, inflation and the initiative that made several turns in the state system led the authorities to a desire to slightly raise certain segments of the population. But this was done in such an unfortunate place – at the congress of the “party in power”, so at an unfortunate moment – just before the elections, that from any point of view this good deed is perceived as a clear bribery of voters. Well, that’s okay! In the end, no one will attract United Russia under this article – they will not dare … But something else is much worse. In any other situation, the received 10,000 rubles would be a real gift to any of the retirees. And this would have caused him, most likely, a positive reaction. But in a situation where this happens three weeks before the election, the gift looks like a small handout aimed at a purely circus reflex of the dog. That is, they gave sugar – go vote. Such things offend people. It is clear that those who designed this operation did not intend to destroy society at all. This was definitely not part of their plans. From the point of view of the party in power and its narrowly selfish interests, this is obvious bungling! From the point of view of the interests of the country as a whole, this is sabotage! So I want to ask a question. People who did this, will they not be punished?

Speaking about the crisis of representative democracy, I didn’t mean anybody’s conspiracy, let alone a situation that, they say, “died and thank God”. I had in mind only the following: the complexity of modern life, production and management processes has greatly increased, and the technique of working with these processes a century ago is clearly outdated. The system stopped working. It functions by inertia. That is why no one is particularly invested in it. Everyone quietly waits for her to die herself.

Interviewed by Natalia Lukovnikova

Sergey Pereslegin

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