In this lecture Inozemtsev will look at how public service was transformed in Russia during Putin’s reign into the most profitable business, and will attempt to explain why for such a long time the majority of the population tolerates this economic-political system. Today’s Russia is a comparatively free and liberal country where citizens feel free to run businesses, acquire property, leave the country or return: free to do almost everything that they were not allowed to do in Soviet times. This makes people essentially individualistic as they choose to look for what Zygmunt Bauman calls “the individual solutions of systemic contradictions”, thus decreasing demand for collective action. The state, on the other hand, makes its best to devalue collective action. As a result, a system emerges where bribery is the most effective means to reach any goals and solve any existing problems. Therefore the state representatives who get used to corruption are not seen as foes, but as a systemic part of the regime. Under such circumstances, public service becomes business, corruption turns into a form of rent, and the protest against the regime diminishes. In the absence of a central idea that would unite society, the system proves much stronger than it is usually considered to be.
Vladislav Inozemtsev is Director of the Centre of Post-Industrial Studies in Moscow and Chairman of the High Council of “Civilian Force” Party; currently he is a Visiting Fellow at IWM.
In cooperation with the Foundation Open Society Institute, Zug, Switzerland