Time

A Cooperative Capitalism: The Russian Idea

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This article by request for Renegade Inc – For Those Who Think Differently

 

“It’s Trump!”

As the election results poured in, usually dour Russians sat in their favourite cafes, beaming smiles, shaking hands, and cheerfully buying each other coffees, united by a common feeling of relief and celebration.

“Ok, so Hillary won’t nuke us after all.”

America’s new President-elect had pledged to “get along great” with Russia. To cooperate, rather than compete. To trade, not fight.

To Russian ears these words were music to rival Rachmaninov, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. Russians wanted Trump, because they do not want war.

Renegade economist Sergei Glazyev aptly described Hillary Clinton as a symbol of war, reflecting that “Americans had two choices: World War Three, or multilateral peace.”

Behind the hand-wringing cries of a “shocked” western Establishment, one can almost hear the sounds of the US neocon warmongers’ Project For A New American Century beginning to rattle in its own death throes, and a new New World Order being born. As professor of political economy Mark Blyth observed, “The era of neoliberalism is over. The era of neo-nationalism has just begun.”

In the week since, more “Russia-friendly” presidents have been elected in Moldova and NATO member Bulgaria. Expectations are rising that so-called “populist”, “nationalist”, and “pro-Russian” parties and presidents may well be elected in the Netherlands, Italy, France, and Germany. The very heart of Western Europe — that of ordinary people — appears to be turning to Moscow.

Prompted by the election of “drain the swamp” Donald Trump, in Russia too a long-awaited “purge” of powerful comprador elite neoliberals — the “Fifth Column” in Vladimir Putin’s government — may now be on the horizon. Minister of the Economy Alexei Ulyukaev has just been detained, subject to an investigation on serious bribery charges. Rumours are flying that more will be arrested or removed from high office shortly*. In a radio interview on Tuesday, economist and former government advisor Mikhail Khazin implied that other high flyers likely to fall include Dmitry Medvedev’s Deputy PM, Arkady Dvorkovich.

Former politician and director of the Problems issued by Globalization institute (IPROG), the economist Mikhail Delyagin says that with the election of Donald Trump, the “liberal clan” formed within Russia’s elite during Bill Clinton’s 1993-2001 presidency has now lost its western backing. Like Sergei Glazyev (A Genocide: Russia and The New World Order), he argues that after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the new Russian Federation formed a hybrid state, in which foreign and internal policies are “largely” patriotic but socio-economic policy (under the powerful neoliberal elite faction) has been a “national treason”. Delyagin predicts that the Minister of Finance, Anton Siluanov, and the head of Russia’s Central Bank, Elvira Nabiullina, will also lose their jobs.

While still invisible to many, Trump’s election marked what was so necessary for humanity; a turning point. A deeper reason for change. It coincided with the revival of “The Russian idea”.

Known to everyone who ever read Fyodor Dostoevsky, this idea became the case study for Russian philosophers such as Nikolai Berdyaev and Ivan Ilyin (a favourite of Vladimir Putin). “The Russian idea” offers a unique way of peaceful co-existence between different nationalities and cultures. It is an idea of higher unity that until today had only existed in the hearts and souls of Russian people. But now, it appears, it may become key to the salvation of us all.

The Russian idea holds no room for the radical individualism of the West, or such notions as an “indispensable nation” or “God’s chosen people”. There is no hierarchy or separation between “us” and “them”. One cannot be happy unless the whole of humanity is saved. Viewed in cosmic unity each person should be concerned for the well-being of every other. The same with nations.

The enormous land mass of Russia, so rich in natural resources — and so inviting for foreign invaders — forms a kind of world bridge between the West and the East. So too the Russian people embody a natural, human bridge between cultures. Many famed philosophers, historians, saints and seers — and not only Russian ones (e.g., Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West) — have long predicted that this is precisely the role that Mother Russia and her people will play in the future of our world.

In a vast country containing multiple nationalities, and united by state-endorsed Orthodox Christianity for over 1000 years — 74 years of revolutionary communism a mere aberration — Russians possess a characteristic openness and tolerance toward all peoples, religions and cultures. Even more so, a desire to understand them and have a dialogue with them. That’s where you meet Dostoevsky’s famous idea of the “Russian soul” having a generosity and sensitivity to everyone – an ability to live someone else’s tragedy and joy like your own; to let it inside oneself.

This might help explain why countless thousands of Russian people prayed for the salvation of America on Election Day last week. “Russians are responsible for everyone”, Berdyaev used to say.

Highly educated — the policy of free education up to and including university remains from Soviet days — and deeply aware of their country’s tragic history, ordinary Russians can often be heard expressing a genuine empathy for the struggles of ordinary people in the West. The memory of the horrors of the 1990s — rightly blamed on their own comprador elites rushing to adopt the “Shock Therapy” economic policies recommended by their US neoliberal “advisors” — remains painfully vivid.

To many Westerners it may come as a revelation to discover that beneath the unsmiling facade, Russians are eternal optimists. Theirs is a unique, culturally-embedded optimism, born of centuries of adversity; indeed, of simply surviving.

“We can survive anything. Only we have this thing, that we can resist anything.”

The Russian people see themselves as ultimately unbeatable in the basic fight for life. This humble form of national self-belief comes from having survived everything that external invaders and those they see as internal enemies have thrown at them over centuries; from Napoleon to Lenin, Hitler, Gorbachev, and Yeltsin.

According to Ilyin, Russia is a child of historic catastrophes. Wars were brought on Russia ceaselessly. Moscow was burnt by the Tatars, Poles and the French. Soviet Russia repelled Nazi Germany at a cost of 27 million souls. But each time Russia rose back to her feet like a Phoenix, and she flourishes again. The Russian idea of everyone’s salvation was born from her catastrophic past.

Today the whole world — despite its appearance of material well-being and technological progress — is being pushed toward a catastrophe. That is why Russia’s experience in overcoming adversity offers an important example for everyone.

As the Western powers have first encircled Russia through relentless expansion of NATO, and then imposed economic sanctions in retaliation for her entirely justified (and remarkably restrained) moves to simply defend herself and protect her “soft underbelly” — those vital, historic spheres of influence on and near to the Black Sea and Caucasus — the Russian government under President Putin has responded in a very Russian way; with flair, speed, creativity, flexibility, and adaptation.

Standing ever politely (Putin: “our Western partners”) yet resolutely against an Anglo-US -centric western world that is once again, a la the 1930s, suffering the consequences of another boom-bust debt deflation, and is, once again, being driven by elite vested interests towards the creative/destructive ‘growth’ solution of another world war, since 2014’s US-sponsored ‘colour revolution’ coup d’etat in brother nation Ukraine the Russian government has calmly shifted its primary focus away from trying (as ever) to befriend the West as respectful equals, and towards increasing self-reliance and cooperation with the East.

This has proven remarkably successful to date. Russia’s economy, though struggling, has not succumbed to the West’s economic sanctions. Unsurprisingly, neither has her people responded to their renewed economic difficulties by losing faith and moving to overthrow their government (as hoped by US neocons).

On the contrary, it is the EU nations, compelled by their dominant NATO ‘ally’ across the Atlantic to impose sanctions that appear to be suffering more. Numerous regions and opposition parties within the EU (e.g., France, Germany, and northern Italy) have begun to break ranks, visiting ‘annexed’ Crimea, and calling for restoration of normal trade and economic relations with Moscow. Importantly, Russia has succeeded in establishing ever stronger economic cooperation ties with the still rapidly-growing China, along with other Eurasian, African and South American nations.

The western Establishment’s now failing economic model has striven to dominate a unipolar world order through deregulated ‘free’ (i.e., increasingly rigged) market, dog-eat-dog competition – a kind of neo-Darwinian, brutal, amoral and unconscionable “survival only of the strongest” and most corrupt.

In sharp contrast both to neoliberal globalist capitalism, and to the lebensraum (“living space”) -seeking national socialism (“nazism”) of the 1930s, the Russian way is not expansionist. Instead, it strives to survive and thrive in the spirit of prince Pyotr Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid: A Factor Of Evolution – through cooperation, and avoidance of confrontation wherever possible, in a mutually respectful, diverse, multipolar world order.

As the global balance of economic power continues to shift from the West to the East, it is the “Russian idea” and this, traditionally Russian approach to basic survival that may well come to serve as the world’s leading light, and the key to the salvation of us all.

 

* UPDATE 17 November: More Russian Officials Detained As Nationwide Anti-Corruption Drive Gains Momentum

 

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I am a “lone wolf” motorcyclist.

A mystic biker.

It has always been this way.

To ride, is to escape.

To find solace, in solitude.

To be alone, with one’s own.

Solitary soul.

And yet, the times they are a-changin’.

For if ever there was a brotherhood of men.

One whom I would wish to befriend.

It seems to me that this would be them.

 

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Roaring through Moscow after dark with their big bikes, long hair and leather jackets, the Night Wolves could be Russia’s answer to the Hell’s Angels. But these are riders with a cause, and that cause is the motherland.

“Our values are quite simple: love your country, have faith and don’t use or sell drugs” summed up Alexander Benish, second in command of the powerful motorcycle club whose members President Vladimir Putin calls his “brothers”.

They may share a passion for the open road, but the Night Wolves — “Nochnye Volki” in Russian — reject the American biker label altogether.

 

The Night Wolves say they welcome members from across the former Soviet Union, regardless of their religious beliefs – and count Muslims in their ranks, alongside the Orthodox Christian majority.

Likewise its riders come from varied social backgrounds, from car mechanics, to businessmen — even a few monks.

“Everyone is free to join — except for women. ‘No woman no cry,” joked Benish in a play on the Bob Marley lyric.

“Years ago when it was founded, the club was a kind of symbol of virility, of what it means to be a man.”

 

Alongside the tough-guy routine, the riders also play what they see as a pastoral role, striving for “the moral and spiritual development of the young generation based on patriotism and traditions.”

“The words of Saint Augustine could sum up the philosophy of the Night Wolves,” said Benish, quoting the words of the medieval theologian: ‘In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.'”

 

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