Monday, May 29, 2017

‘Russian Trumpism’ Includes Two Very Different, Even Contradictory, Strains, Smagin Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 29 – There are two very different strains in “Russian Trumpism” today which sometimes coincide and appear to be formally the same but sometimes are based on ideas that contradict one another, according to Stanislav Smagin; and this is one of the key reasos why the phenomenon appears so inconsistent and changeable.

            In a lengthy post on the APN portal today, the conservative Rostov-based commentator says that the first are the “sincere” Trumpists who were attracted to the US figure long before anyone thought he had a chance to win and the second are members of the political elite who see in the new US president someone they can take advantage of (apn.ru/index.php?newsid=36352).

                The first group includes Russian political analysts and commentators of the conservative-patriotic direction who were attracted to Trump from the outset because of his commitment in foreign affairs it pull back from US unilateralism and liberalism and because of his promises on domestic issues that they believed would ensure he lived up to his foreign policy promises.

            These Russian “Trumpists,” Smagin continues, “calculated that the national-conservative domestic American perestroika Trump promised would have a positive impact on international (and consequently also on Russia)” and lead other countries to follow the same course as Trump himself has called for.

            Their views, the Rostov analyst argues, were in this respect at least quite similar to those of the European socialists ca. 1900 who “calculated that the world communist revolution must arise in the leading industrial-capitalist countries” and then spread to others even though things didn’t work out as they expected.

            The other group of “Russian Trumpists,” which drew its members of the Russian ruling class and its agitprop arms, arose only near the end of the US presidential campaign and focused on the ways in which Trump would be less likely to behave as Hillary Clinton might and thus would be more willing to make deals on a pragmatic basis. 

            The key fact here, Smagin says, is that “the basic aspriations of [Russia’s] political beau monde were almost completely opposed to the aspirations let us say of the sincere Trumpists” because the political class wanted to interact and make deals while the sincere Trumpists wanted Russia to be left alone to its own devices.

            For the “sincere Russian Trumpists,” the overly enthusiastic reaction of the latter-day Trumpists right after the election looked anything but justified because it was clearly “not the joy of ‘Hurrah, Now we are Stalin and can look forward to a new Yalta like with Roosevelt’ but rather that of ‘Hurrah, now we are not Saddam Slobodanovich Qaddafi.”

            To be sure, Smagin says, both groups of Russian Trumpists understood to varying degrees that no American president is an entirely free actor but instead is part of a government and political system that imposes severe constraints on his activities; but the sincere Trumpists were less surprised by what that meant than were the official ones.

            The US attack on the Shairat airbase in Syria in early April showed Trump’s “final capitulation between the liberal-globalist” elite or represented his own unpredictable approach to foreign affairs. Neither works to Russia’s advantage and both Russian Trumpists need to stop living with the illusions that he could be a puppet.

            In the wake of the Shairat attack, Smagin says, “the ‘sincere’ Trumpists” were disappointed but less in the American president than in the American system.  The official “Trumpists” simply recognized that they would have to toughen their positions and interact with Trump as they would with any leader of a powerful foreign country.

Daghestani Long-Haul Truckers Say Makhachkala has Not Kept Its Word



Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 29 – A major reason why striking long-haul truckers in Daghestan agreed to suspend their strike last week was that the republic authorities said they would pass on the drivers’ demands to Moscow, but according to a leader of the strike there, the powers that be have not kept their promise.

            Abduraashin Samadov says that “the long-haul drivers do not have confirmation that their demands have been sent on to the State Duma” in Moscow as Makhachkala had promised, a discovery that makes the renewal of the strike in that North Caucasus republic, possibly after the end of Ramadan, far more likely (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/303394/).

            The drivers feel particularly betrayed, his comments to the Kavkaz-Uzel news portal suggest, because the governments of other republics, including most prominently Tatarstan, have in fact send on to the federal legislature the drivers’ demands.

            In the last 24 hours, there were two other developments on the long-haul truckers’ strike front: On the one hand, the Carriers Union in Sverdlovsk Oblast announced that the authorities there have approved the truckers plan for a two-to three hour strike action on the ring road of Yekaterinburg on June 3 (ura.news/news/1052291090).

            Indeed, regional union head Nail Nigamatullin said that “the Sverdlovsk authorities had approved the mobile strike action without any questions or comments.”

            And on the other hand, Kommersant reports that long-haul truckers are increasingly taking part in protests on other issues, including most prominently the one organized on Sunday by opponents of plans to demolish the five-storey khrushchoby in Moscow and shift the residents to more distant regions (kommersant.ru/doc/3311129).

Idealizing Soviet Past Will Lead to Another 1917 and Another 1991, Historian Says



Paul Goble     

            Staunton, May 29 – Those who now idealize the Soviet system as a guarantor against social cataclysms have things exactly backwards, historian Andrey Kostryukov warns. In fact, “the idealization of everything Soviet” will have exactly the opposite effect and lead both to another 1917 revolution and another 1991 collapse of the Russian state. 

            That is because failing to take into account the mistakes that were made by the Russian Empire and by the Soviet state will prevent its Russian successor from correcting them and thus avoiding what happened to those two regimes, according to the historian at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Humanities University (pravmir.ru/pri-staline-byil-byi-poryadok/).

            Unfortunately, Kostryukov says, the trend in official commentaries and popular beliefs now is moving in exactly the opposite direction to the one Russia needs on issues ranging from famine to collectivization to terror to supposed conspiracies against Stalin; and that should worry all who care about Russia.

            In a 3,000-word article, the historian offers numerous examples of this misreading or, perhaps better, failure to learn from the past.  But the examples he cites are far from the only evidence of the trend he sees. Three new articles contain if anything more damning instances of idealizing or at least whitewashing some of the most prominent events in the Soviet past.

            First, during a Vechernyaya Moskva discussion on Stalin’s deportation of peoples, Yury Krupnov, a commentator close to the Kremlin, said that this action had positive consequences by weeding out the weak of these nations who died in the process and then setting the stage for an upsurge in fertility after their return (echo.msk.ru/blog/i_chub/1989555-echo/).

            In reporting these remarks, Moscow commentator Igor Chubais says that Krupnov did not respond to whether what Stalin had done was a crime or whether he, Krupnov, would recommend that the Russian government today “deport the Russian people for the solution of its demographic problems.”

            Second, a communist commentator argues that collectivization was “as necessary to us as air. Without it, there wouldn’t have been industrialization or the Great Victory” in 1945, a position that reflects the increasing willingness of Russians to turn the war into a universal moral solvent for any crimes Stalin committed (forum-msk.org/material/society/13261251.html).

                And third, Aleksandr Zdanovocih, a retired FSB lieutenant general, argues that there really was a conspiracy led by Soviet commander Mikhail Tukhachevsky – it was not a product of Stalin’s supposed “paranoia” -- and that the Soviet organs were entirely justified in snuffing it out before it could be carried out against Stalin (kp.ru/daily/26684.5/3707515/).