We are struggling a lot with the opposition leader Alexei Navalny. He is a beautiful and charismatic man but a loudmouth, who has little to offer and, moreover, full of nationalistic ideas. Our beautiful friend Michael Kurtov from St. Petersburg wrote a very balanced and reasonable piece on Navalny’s role in the current situation (plus much much more). And this piece makes us feel calmer about having Navalny as head of our struggle.
A lot of people were offended by Navalny’s ‘fire kindling’ tone at the 24 december protest. But it’s obvious that just like with Nemtsov’s phone call transcripts being published (where he gossips about other opposition members — RUSSIALIZE), the target audience was the initiators of the protests, not the participants, in Navalny’s case the target audience is Putin and all those who have been supporting him for all those years, including his closest circle: it’s their language, their figurative line (‘jackals’ instead of ‘bandar-logs’, ‘AIDS’ against ‘botox’) (comparison of Navalny’s and Putin’s jargon — RUSSIALIZE). In this sense, Navalny is in fact the ‘new Putin’: he can count for mass support right now more than anyone else. The difference between this ‘new Putin’ and the old one is the transparency and controllability by the society — and nothing more is needed at this point. With the current development of media, the only necessary things are the politicians’ transparency and the inclusion of people into the political process, the rest will come around naturally. Obviously, I’m talking about the first stage — ridding the field of poisonous weeds. In fact, I do not see Navalny as president yet. But I’ll talk about this a bit further down.
This first stage comes along with numerous problems, which were precisely specified by Illarionov (although he’s been talking about this since year 2007): standing against change today is a group of professionals, that has a certain psychology, certain ways of internal and external communication: those are KGB men. The peculiar features of their behaviour include keeping to themselves, being conservative, being centralised while generally connecting in a non-formal networking way. Basically, all the features that oppose the new thinking directly (with its’ openness, formal networking character, centralisation only being present in non-formal or situation varieties, etc.) The Russian situation, according to Illarionov, is unique: in no other country before had such a group of professionals come to power. This way, this is not only a conflict between the democratic and agrarian tendencies, but something more legendary: the battle between two historical ways of thought, connected to the evolution of social/political and communication technologies. And because the earlier terms of this historical conflict in the Russian situation are polarized to the maximum, it’s up for Russia to determine, whether a step will be taken in this direction on the worldwide scale. If it will be taken, Russia will make its’ way forward on the path of true modernization much faster than the other countries. The institution of internal oversight, which made the best of NEP and Perestroika beginnings fail, will cease to exist as something ugly and unnecessary.
On this path we have to expect force confrontation as it is obvious that the KGB men today are not fighting for power per se, they are fighting for their lives: nobody will allow them to get off the bike painlessly. Navalny understands this, but he makes a wise move of not scaring anyone (look how accurately he has been raising the dosage of the idea of taking over the power by force during the last year). It’s for a precise development of this scenario that he needs his ‘nationalist’ resource.
But Navalny is really important only at the very first stage, where it’s necessary to overcome the KGB men force confrontation. He needs to prepare people adequately for this, to keep them safe if possible, keeping the overall idealistic tone. Illarionov is right: the best president for Russia is not a political strategist and not even a ‘fighter against corruption’, but an enlightened idealist like Vaclav Havel (the late politician has been coming up quite often as an antipode to Putin’s regime: the government never sent any condolences upon his death, which they did re Kim Jong Il — RUSSIALIZE) . The importance of strategists and ‘clear’ politicians is diminishing today: the new media partly takes away the need for public political mediation, and in a sense everyone becomes a strategist (being given the key to ways of information production). Only such an enlightened idealist — probably removed far away from the politics at this point — will, from one aspect, receive people’s trust, from the other — have the exact internal qualities to make the flywheel of history finally make a turn.
Photo: random Berliner with Russian Esquire with Navalny on the cover.