About why the Russian Federation was in practice abandoned the principle of the social state, as it is linked to global processes, what is the social background of the current protests in Moscow on these and other questions are answered in an interview with the Professor of the Moscow Higher school of social and economic Sciences Gregory Yudin
In August of this year marked 15 years of the adoption of the law on monetization of benefits. Perhaps, it was the first law passed under the presidency of Vladimir Putin, which can be characterized as antisocial. Then on the streets of Moscow and other Russian cities have been mass protests, not less active, than it is now because of the elections to the Moscow city Duma, and Putin’s rating dropped significantly for the first time since his election.
During this time, the Russian government made a lot of other steps to rid themselves from the social obligations inherited from the Soviet Union, the apogee of which was the “pension reform”. “Antisocialist” state becomes a burden for various segments of the population, but even for certain professions, important for the normal existence of society. For example, recently six surgeons resigned from the city hospital in Nizhny Tagil for the reason that “the load is not compliant payment”, the event caused a wide resonance.
Against this background, the head of state publicly, puzzled said:
“Real incomes are growing slowly. This situation cannot but cause concern,”
“Russia has deliberately destroyed any solidarity and mutual support”
Eugene Senyszyn: — 15 years ago, when it was adopted the law on the monetization of new government under the leadership of Vladimir Putin has shown that references to the Soviet Union only for nostalgia, but the former rate — minimize the remnants of the welfare state inherited from the Soviet past. Do you share this promise and how far Russian Federation has made progress in this area since that time?
Grigory Yudin: — the Monetization of benefits was only a prologue to the future commercialization, and the elimination of the welfare state. Today we are in a situation where, for example, a parent of a child in high school already accepts as a given that it needs to pay a lot of money for Tutors to children can qualify for admission to the University. Because the school does and is not going to give sufficient knowledge. A similar situation in healthcare, where everyone understands that if you even slightly seriously ill, you’ll have to pay, otherwise you can not hope to recover. Fiscal medicine was a mixture of informal networks and payments.
In higher education there was a transfer of people on piece-work. Professors put in a situation where she should expect to receive salaries only, depending on where and what she posted — in fact, it is selling their own articles. They are introduced to industrial performance indicators. The ratio of fixed and variable part of earnings in the labor of the Professor is about the same as the Manager on sales — how much to sell, and get so much. Same thing in medicine — fulfill the norm of patient care — will receive the award, no penalty; if they refer patients for paid services — even better. The government has forgotten that professionals work not because they are forced to, but because they love their job.
It is the policy called neoliberalism
Its meaning lies in the translation of those areas, which always rested on human solidarity and professionalism on strictly commercial footing and selfish motivation.
— What caused such a social policy of the Russian government? Despite the fact that the Russian propaganda constantly excites the layman a sense of nostalgia for the Soviet Union, the ideology and practice of which was communism and socialism.
— Russia is one of the countries with a huge level of inequality in the world. 10% of the population own 65% of wealth. But the 1% owns nearly half of all the wealth. In Russia, deliberately destroyed any solidarity and mutual support. And all the social problems rested in the presence of a narrow layer of the aged elite are frantically looking for ways on how to transfer all their wealth to their children and grandchildren. There is a layer ability who gets their income from servicing the elite. Everything else — mass, which tries to use leaking from the top resources. The main element of this system is lending. Due to it some people get it a little closer to the patterns of consumption that resemble a decent life.
While this situation is not a side effect, the costs of the transitional society and so on. Is a global trend. And Russia is in the vanguard of this trend of curtailing the welfare state. We sometimes like to speculate meaningfully about some kind of Russian exceptionalism: “Mind can not understand Russia, no yardstick to measure it.” But from the point of view of the key trends in Russia today is moving in the same path as most of the countries of Western Europe and North America. There is a forced transfer of human solidarity on a commercial footing. Just our difference from many other countries is that in Russia such a policy there is no counterweight. In Western Europe, a civil society, there are unions, there is a strong local community that can resist. In Russia we have nothing.
“Russia is a country with enormous levels of inequality in the world. 10% of the population own 65% of all the wealth”
Why Russia has taken such a path? In the early 90-ies we imported liberal democracy. However, of these two components in fact, we grafted at only one — it’s a tough economic liberalism, and the second component — in fact, democracy, political liberalism, we are practically engaged. And when Vladimir Putin came to power, he finally finished with the second component. As a result, we have the triumph of economic liberalism when the person can be encouraged to do something just whip. On this date, the entire Russian politico-economic model. It succeed, administrators and security guards, and professionals feel like a loser.
Critics of Putin’s social policies point to the steps such as the monetization of benefits or “pension reform”. But for some reason forget, for example, about such things as maternity capital (there are talks to introduce a similar capital for fathers after the birth of her third child), payment of the mortgage for families whose second child was born from 2018 to 2021, the compensation part payment of housing and communal services for low-income families. Even the allowance to care for children aged from eighteen months to three years, from 2020, will finally be raised from 50 roubles to a living wage. Isn’t social support?
— You’re basically talking about the demographic measures. In this part of the Russian government guided purely biopolitical motives. Biopolitics — it is the policy of the administration of biological life. Roughly speaking, the government simply offers its citizens the contract, financial assistance for the production of children.
How is this different from the welfare state? In the case of a social state to the state you do not owe anything, do not sign with them any contract, it is based on the principle that a person is entitled to support just because he is a member of the society. The state creates favorable conditions for his life, and he decides to have his children or not. Of course, if you are sure and comfortable environment people naturally provide the level of fertility, which is approaching the level of natural reproduction of the population.
“Roughly speaking, the government simply offers its citizens the contract, financial assistance for the production of children”
In Russia, all the measures that we may seem social, it is actually tough due to biopolitics: birth of a child — will receive money, not give birth of a child will not get the money. The idea that people have children when they want to, not when they are motivated by the state, as the donkey a carrot, the Russian administrators is unavailable.
Part of the measures related to housing policy, determined by the interests of developers. You have to understand that the main lobbyists and beneficiaries distribution of mortgage are developers. The last message of the President contained many promises, the meaning of which is strengthening development in the country. The more new construction of housing, the more favorable conditions of development for the construction business. This huge amount of money. And at the same time becomes the more citizens that carry the burden of mortgages and remain indebted to the developers and banks. The production of this kind of debtors — this is the main point of public policy housing. Because such debtors always feel insecure and vulnerable, they can’t expect any solidarity actions, they will do whatever they say banks and officials.
— Why the world is moving away from the concept and practice of the welfare state? European countries had had enough, the money runs out, it’s time to swing the pendulum the other way?
— Out of the welfare state is an objective phenomenon. The blurring of boundaries in the context of global capitalism make the welfare state unsustainable. Out of the welfare state due to the waves of migration. And today there is no possibility neither to enclose these waves from access to the benefits of the welfare state, either to quickly assimilate migration flows in the European and American companies.
So today in European countries to the forefront of start to get the right policy with the slogans and intentions to restrict migration flows. And with it to reduce the ability of the welfare state to different kinds of dependents could not use them.
— What about the idea of an unconditional basic income, which is gaining popularity in European countries? In Finland even an experiment was conducted.
Unconditional basic income is an interesting idea. Including the fact that it brings together people of fundamentally different views. Those experiments, which were carried out in some countries, cause serious optimism: it appears that fears that the people will get the money and lie idle on the couch, based on nothing. Probably in the future we will see more experiments under various pretexts. Libertarians want a basic income for their own reasons: they believe that this will dramatically reduce the state apparatus (the so-called negative tax). Liberals have their reasons: for them it is a measure insuring against the consequences of mass automation of work and subsequent unemployment. The left — their arguments: it is important to reducing inequality and to mitigate the costs of unmanaged labour market for the precariat — a new class of people who may not be confident about their future.
— How do you explain the proposals of some deputies of the state Duma and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to go to four-day week? It does not measure the welfare state? Can these statements be taken seriously? By the way, this idea comes from France, the working week reduced to 35 hours.
The difference between Russia and France is that in France there are the unions, and in Russia they are not. The idea of a four-day week is built on the understanding that at the present level of technological development people could have much more time for self-realisation and not only for forced labour. But the problem is that objectively the jobs originate not some kind of operational necessity, and the relations of power — a lot of people doing what they don’t like, and do not believe that their work is indeed needed in society. And we see that people are working more, and more and more — although, it would seem that working time should be reduced as robotics. But if we have the trade unions, that here I could believe that empowerment of citizens out of work will be expanded.
“The extra people can obligati in Sobakinskikh scenery, but nothing more. Moscow no longer belongs to them”
— Talk about political protests. Aside from the official motive of the protests — the Moscow city Duma elections, then what is their social background? Some analysts tend to see this as a result of stratification of society, the lack of prospects among the younger generation, not associated kinship and friendship ties with the ruling group. However, we still do not see at the protest pronounced slogans, demanding social justice.
The main political meaning of the great movement that emerged in Moscow around the elections to the city Duma, is reduced to a simple slogan: “Return Moscow to Muscovites”. A large number of Muscovites do not feel themselves masters in their city. They feel superfluous people in the scenery, which in recent years was built for the Moscow mayor’s office. Sometimes the “extra people” can obligati in this scenery, something to buy, but no more. Moscow no longer belongs to them. If the citizen and gets some profit from what is happening, it happens by chance.
Well, when you have under Windows, laid tile? Well. But tomorrow it will be removed and will be putting a new one — this process becomes infinite. And many people realize that by and large, from the point of view of improvement, all of these re-laying the tiles is not needed. Just so the Moscow government develops the means under the pretext. This irritation has accumulated and resulted in a protest associated with the elections. It is not enough that many years is pointless, and decided not to ask the opinion of Muscovites by refusing to those who would be able to voice an opinion and to defend the city Council.
All this is happening against the backdrop of the giant of stratification in the capital and a giant skew budget in the direction of development, development, digging, concreting. And social articles in the Moscow budget is a much smaller part. That is, we get the following picture: looks all very nice, but within society there is a growing anger and aggression.
“One of the most dangerous lines of the current government is bleeding capitals and regions”
Not to say that all Muscovites is a poor people, but many of them gradually developing into the precariat. Look at those young people who went to jail on trumped-up charges of “mass riots”. Who are they? Those who live in all these Sobakinskikh the scenery and do not see any future. Yes, you can meet them in beautiful cafes — but there, they often spend the last hundred, because for them it is the only space for socialization. They have no idea what will happen tomorrow and how to live in it tomorrow. Most likely they will be doomed to do what they are doing now, that is, part there, part here, but no stability. This constant feeling of insecurity naturally depresses them. These latent social factors are moving in political discontent. But clear language to articulate these challenges and turn them into slogans, is not yet generated.
And on the other side of the police barriers are exactly the same people, despite the fact that wearing uniforms and helmets. Police and resguardar hope that they somehow just have some predictable way of life — they promised a clear career and early retirement. But in fact, they hit people who have roughly the same income level and similar life chances. Therefore, I would have thrown in the trash propaganda stamp that protests out in the “middle class”. It’s just people who lost control over their own lives and all the forces trying to return it.
— It is known that in Russia from 20 to 35 million below the poverty line, the last five years, falling incomes and middle class. But it is interesting to understand why being in your position, they in no way are not subject to the political life, did not put forward any political demands, do not go anywhere? Where the root of this state of consciousness?
— The root of this is that in the last 20 years, Russia has consistently held depoliticization. This alienation of people from politics and the destruction of any form of collective action. The Russian government is not satisfied with the totalitarian censorship, does not inspire, who and what to think and do, as it was in the Soviet Union. But as soon as you show some solidarity and capacity for collective self-organization, the mode begins to be interested in you and prevent this. Therefore, the majority of the population is in a state of depoliticization and atomization. However, today in some places, the failures of such a policy: Yekaterinburg, Ties, Moscow… Maybe soon even somewhere in any large protests.
— Poverty is a phenomenon mainly regional. If you were born and live in Moscow and St. Petersburg, then more or less you will be able to create for themselves a reasonable lifestyle. It is not a social problem and the historical-political, historically, the Federal government sitting in Moscow and hardly interested to change the situation. In your opinion, that the Moscow opposition when entering into power can do to resolve this hardened situation? Or the division between a rich centre and poor periphery is the fate of Russia? As the world’s division into the rich North and the poor South? By the way, maybe that’s why the regions are not particularly interested in the Moscow protests, except local opposition.
Russia throughout its history constantly oscillates between centralization and decentralization. Under the current regime, the pendulum has gone so far in the direction of centralization that soon we will get a reaction. Today we are dealing with a very centralist government, with people who, in principle, nothing anyone is willing to delegate and not believe that people can govern themselves. Therefore, the recent political developments reveal the need for real federalization. Russia today is in urgent need of reform, which will cancel the centralization of budgets, which was conducted by Alexei Kudrin in the early 2000-ies, for which the regions had lost all political power. Now their representatives are forced to crawl on his knees in Moscow to at least get something of their money back from the Federal government. And many of them have lost any motivation to be a donor. In the circumstances, be a recipient.
Today Russia needs the development of self-government. We observed the protest in Moscow — a response to the policy of restraining the development of local self-government: the major part of unregistered candidates is the district activists, which are known in the districts and that matured to the city Parliament. Moscow today is completely prepared for the fact that its representative bodies was elected by the people, and not those dummies, which is there pushed by the administration.
One of the most dangerous lines of the current government is bleeding the capitals and regions. As the events of recent years, if the citizens or the citizens can sometimes force the Central power to reckon with, the Muscovites and Petersburgers are completely powerless in their cities. Because of a huge disparity between Moscow and the regions is repeated and in Moscow — on the Moscow streets of a small elite that owns the whole country, looks at the common people because of the tinted Windows. Russia needs infrastructure reforms that would make it possible to get from one Siberian city to another through Moscow, opened the potential of the regions and unloaded the capital city. Instead, Muscovites bring on the “rest of Russia”, and the whole country of the Muscovites.
“If someone on TV says a revolution, you can rest assured he has something to steal or someone hurts”
— Traditionally from both conventional liberals and the conservatives-the patriots, you can hear that not the power of this, and the people be: he himself did not need democracy, so it is bogus. Say, is not ripe yet people. Recently, in the same spirit expressed by the economist Andrei Movchan, commenting on the protests in Moscow. Forced to quote: “we should Not expect companies, that moved one hundred years ago, out of the swamp, the birth of the state, managed by a sprawling family of Holstein-Gottorp through the incredible violence of the totalitarian state, which in time of peace, destroyed their citizens millions in the wars carried tens of millions of losses to rotting alive on the ruins of totalitarianism, it suddenly began to consciously build something unprecedented, the type of democracy”. Do you agree with this message?
About 30 years ago there was such a discipline as transitology, which came from the fact that all countries have a unified development path, and all through it you need to go, and Russia was stuck. But all the predictions that have given transitology, not confirmed. No one seriously in the social Sciences no longer uses such a primitive theory of modernization. Makes no sense to say that someone is matured or not yet matured to democracy. Russia —part of the global world and here one can see the global problems with the Russian specifics. No maturation can be expected.
If you look at the situation from a psychological point of view, this explanation of the situation is the result of the propagation of an ideology that justifies inaction and de-politicization. For many it is psychologically comfortable. You can say: I am a man of very progressive, but with the country not lucky, unfortunately, she’s so retarded, so there’s nothing I can do, will do. This allows you to push people to each other. It is pleasant indeed to consider himself very smart, and other reactionaries. And she, of course, profitable some subelite classes, which are indirectly the beneficiaries of the current regime. They directly do not have access to power, but are in a good economic situation. They tend to talk about the “terrible and horrible people” that should be kept in check authoritarianism, but otherwise he may attack and harm.
“Revolution is the key word in the Russian ideology, it is necessary propaganda to paralyze any public activity”
— Now a lot of talk about revolution. How likely is revolutionary scenario in Russia?
Revolution is a word that in Russia today means nothing. Today in one heap mix: coups, after which nothing changes; grass-roots excitement with elements of violence; and in fact the original meaning of the word “revolution” — a fundamental change of social system. Today, this word is a key term of Russian counter-revolutionary ideology, which is used to intimidate people. So I see no point in discussing the possibility of revolution in Russia. Just need to fix: the revolution is a key word in the Russian ideology, it is necessary propaganda to paralyze any public activity. If someone on TV says eerily “revolution”, be sure he has something to steal or someone hurts.
— Well, call it not a revolution but a qualitative change in the political regime. Will I be able to change the political regime under pressure from grass-roots unrest?
— I see that today there is a strengthening of the masses and situational overcoming fragmentation. I see that in different cities there are democratic movements, which in time become real actors and capable of a successful campaign. And, of course, the democratic movement directed against the current political regime. From this point of view, I see the request for democratization and changing political situation in the country.
— Some analysts and commentators tend to call the political regime in Russia is totalitarian, which is very doubtful though, because the borders are open and anyone at anytime can migrate anywhere. But migration is a double — edged sword. Leave the most active, intelligent and energetic. And this group of people and could become the social basis for positive socio-political change. But as noted economist Vladislav Inozemtsev, the revolution is impossible, because there is a migration of young people. You how to evaluate the factor of migration in the socio-political changes in the future?
— It is a strange explanation. If there are two pools, and if you open the water in one of them, then it merges in the other. Modern migration is not arranged. In Russia, we are dealing with a large layer of people who cross the border in both directions. Maybe going away for a long time. But they don’t necessarily migrate. For example, people go to study abroad. They migrate or not? Emotionally, financially and politically, they invested in Russia. They acquire new habits and generally feel themselves to be citizens of the world. Today it is this layer of people is most problematic for state propaganda. Therefore, the term “migration” does not have the meaning that it had 30 years ago.
Today migrants are not those who are forever waving a white handkerchief and settle in another place. This migration has become atypical. People who migrate can be an important part of the movement of democratization. They can show a substantial demand for socio-political change because they have invested in Russia and want to live here, but not under this regime.
Russia — part of the global world who is afraid to admit it to myself. Therefore, in particular, Russia’s problems are not solved by the recipe, which was somewhere by someone at some point invented. Many of the problems that exists today in Russia, is part of the difficulties with which the whole world suffers from inequality to weak democracy and lack of control from the state to the growth of violence. We have these problems in an exaggerated form, but the root of many of them in the organization of the global world. The real question today is how Russia can contribute to solving the world’s problems. Instead of constantly tormented by complexes of inferiority, and we will come to that can take some of the responsibility for what is happening in the world.
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