© RIA Novosti / Alexander Wilf
There are only four days left before the parliamentary elections, but it is already clear that the current configuration of party forces in the State Duma will not undergo significant changes. The faction of “United Russia” will decrease, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation will add – but on the whole the balance of power will remain the same. On the one hand, this is quite expected – but at the same time surprising. After all, opinion polls unequivocally testify to a left turn in the mood of citizens – based on them, it turns out that the majority is unambiguously in favor of a planned economy and the Soviet political system. However, this same majority does not vote for the left-wing parties. A paradox or a conscious position of our people?
Take a recent poll by the Levada Center * about “what Russia should be like.” It contained only three questions, of which the last two are of particular interest. Because the first is formulated in a very strange way, although it is traditional for this sociological center: “You would like to see now Russia primarily as a country with a high standard of living, even if not one of the most powerful countries in the world, or a great power respected and feared by others country”. With this choice, the majority spoke in favor of the first option: 66 against 32. Moreover, this was the maximum indicator for all 18 years of polls – and gave rise to arguments on the topic that the people are getting tired of being great power and just want to live well.
But, firstly, there were always more supporters of a good life (with the exception of the Crimean March 2014), and secondly, and most importantly, the very opposition of a great power and a high standard of living is extremely incorrect. It can even be said that it is openly manipulative, especially with such formulations (“other countries are afraid”). Because for Russia there is generally no question of whether or not to be a great power – in our essence we can only be a great country or not be at all. Yes, the very history, geography and structure of Russia are such, and the rejection of them will lead us to disintegration and destruction. This is no exaggeration, but the experience of our own history.
But great power is not at all synonymous with poverty, it does not exclude a high standard of living – on the contrary, only a great independent Russia can be a rich country. The opposition of great power and prosperity is initially erroneously or even deliberately aimed at forming the required response, if not a split in public opinion. And the point here is not that the Levada Center received the label “foreign agent” due to external funding, but that such a juxtaposition, alas, is quite natural for a large part of our Western-oriented intelligentsia.
Should we worry about the growing number of those who, in a deliberately incorrect choice, put the standard of living in the first place, and not the great power? Isn’t this a sign that people have less and less understanding of what Russia is? And at a really critical moment, they will refuse not only to sacrifice themselves in the name of the country, but even to tighten their belts? No, with all the advent of a spiritless and nationalless consumer society, we still have a great sense of national unity, but the standard of living is very far from what we want. Therefore, they put the refrigerator in the first place – not from unconsciousness, but from a completely natural desire to live better (well, due to the manipulative nature of the question-opposition itself). And the great power, they think, and so it will be: where will it go from us?
In fact, the main question for all of us is how to properly combine one with the other, how to make sure that the greatness of a country engenders the well-being of its citizens. And just here you can look at the results of answers to two other questions of the Levada Center.
Which political system do you think is the best? Here the choice was from three options, and the majority (especially if we cut off 11 who found it difficult to answer) chose “the Soviet one, which we had until the 90s.” Forty-nine percent are in favor – while 14 percent are in favor of the current system, and 16 percent are in favor of democracy modeled on Western countries. And here, too, a record number of those who chose the Soviet system, moreover, in a quarter century of polls.
And when answering the next question – “which economic system seems more correct to you?” – and the record of almost three decades of polls was broken at all. Sixty-two percent favored a system based on government planning and distribution, and 24 preferred a system based on private property and market relations.
That is, it turns out that from half to two-thirds of our citizens are in favor of socialism? And not even new, but old? But then, on September 17-19, they must vote for the Communist Party? But no: the ratings of the communists have grown, but they will not gain much more than 20 percent. Even if we add to this a percentage or two for the “Communists of Russia”, even if we add in eight or nine percent of the Social Democrats from “Fair Russia – Patriots – For Truth”, there will still be no more than a third of voters. But in the polls for socialism and the Soviet system, two-thirds – what is the answer?
The fact that people do not believe in the party – not only in the Communist Party of the Russian Federation or spravoorosov, but in general. And they vote for United Russia because Putin supports it, and the popular Shoigu and Lavrov are at the head of the list. Of course, now the party in power is haunted by both the pension reform and the consequences of the coronavirus, but they are guided by the policy of the government as a whole. But here there is not even a reaction of the authorities to the leftward movement of society, but simply the social tilt of Putin’s course – the one that was enshrined in last year’s amendments to the Constitution. And they trust Putin much more than those who shout about “capitalist ministers, whose children live in the West, and they themselves are selling the country.”
The current political system has a lot of shortcomings – for example, a functioning and responsible local self-government has not been built, the powers of the parliament are insufficient – but certainly not in the party struggle, citizens see the way to building a more just society. Local self-government was excluded from the single vertical of power in the course of democratic reforms and the adoption of the 1993 Constitution, and in recent years Putin has been inscribing it into a single power system (an important step was also taken in last year’s amendments). The new powers of the State Duma were also enshrined in changes in the Basic Law: for the first time in Russian history, parliament receives the right to approve not only the prime minister, but also his deputies and most of the ministers.
That is, our political system is changing, while leaving Russia as a presidential republic, because without a strong central government, independent of the party struggle, a country as diverse and complex as ours cannot exist.
And only an independent (from party and oligarchic influence) and responsible (to the people in the entire totality of their generations, past and future) central government is capable of correcting (however serious) the socio-economic system, correcting its main problem: huge social inequality. Not just a high standard of living, but also a fair way of life – this is what our citizens want. But at the same time, without revolutions and upheavals, without losing the status of a great power, with a reliably working state mechanism and a developing economy, without equalization and deficit.
Therefore, in polls they choose the Soviet past, but in real life they do not vote for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, not seeing in it the force that is capable of changing the country and those people who can be trusted. They trust Putin – from whom they expect both a great power and a high standard of living. And justice – but it can only be advanced by our joint efforts to build a great and rich Russia.
* Non-profit organization recognized as a foreign agent in Russia.
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