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Friday, December 08, 2006

Overmanged Democracy = Neo-Soviet Union

Nikolai Petrov of the Carnegie Foundation confirms with scholarly analysis that Russia is a neo-Soviet state. He characterized Russia as an "over-managed democracy" ("OMD") and then concludes:

Besides having many similarities with the Soviet system of people’s democracy, OMD is not very stable. It is transitional by nature, and its development toward either democracy or nondemocratic management is inevitable. A reason to be optimistic with regard to Russia’s future development besides the appearance of a whole “unbeaten” generation is the very nature of OMD itself. For overmanaged democracy to serve as a means to preserve political power, the current political elites will have to reintroduce elements of democracy and federalism; otherwise, all they will manage to do is lose power
He observes that it is just as fundamentally flawed as the Soviet system:
By trying to increase control, the system may lose control. The first and main paradox of OMD is the nonlinear relationship between the government’s efforts to control the system and the final result. After a certain critical level of control has been exceeded which may have already occurred the system can lose all manageability and simply collapse. This is what happened during the 2004 presidential elections in Ukraine. The current Russian electoral system has no safety valves left that would enable it to let off steam if the pressure grows. Russia’s OMD is a multilayer system in which the urge to control goes beyond any reasonable limit. In addition, every cog of the system seeks to prove its utility to its superior, and thus works for its own benefit rather than for the public good.
He states that Putin's is a regressive regime: "
In the seven years that President Vladimir Putin has been in power, Russia seems to have regressed politically almost to where it was a decade and a half ago. Nearly all democratic institutions have been weakened under Putin’s rule, including parliament, political parties, independent media, and fair elections." And he concludes that, in fact, Russian society generally is regressive: "In Russia, a strong, semi-military, mobilization state has traditionally dominated over a much weaker and barely consolidated society. The policy of state strengthening that has been undertaken during Putin’s presidency has largely brought back the familiar Russian pattern: the state is ubiquitous and encroaches upon public territory, pushing out the genuine public initiatives that are not controlled by the state. Having “streamlined” media, business, political parties, and other institutions, the state now attempts to expand its control over civil society."

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