Putin is now Russia’s dictator for life.
Apparently it is now understood by Western media institutions, from the BBC all the way to FrontPage Magazine, that Vladimir Putin embodies the Great Satan, and that today’s “KGB, Inc.” Russia is basically the same kleptofascist empire that reigned behind the Iron Curtain from 1945-89. That’s pretty ridiculous. But you wouldn’t know the half of it from reading UK media, which have been pathetic shills for exiled Russian oligarchs. (Many Russian oligarchs relocated to the UK because of tax quirks, and now form a powerful political lobby on their own.)
I strongly believe that democracy does not work in all, or even most places in the world.
The various tribes and factions of the United States have pretty homoskedastic distributions of trust or mistrust between one another. The variances of everybody’s hatreds for everyone else are fairly constant. Every tribe/faction can predict, within a certain range, what every rival political actor, even the one(s) the faction fears and loathes the most, will do. Nobody will be particularly surprised by any political action effected by any other actor.
This predictability is what allows democracy to work. Every tribe is a “responsible stakeholder” in the national system, and the costs of opting out are so high that its likelihood equals zero.
In Russia, that was not the case. The free-for-all 1990’s demolished Russia’s economy. The Jeff Sachs “shock treatment” was a complete disaster, and paid no attention whatsoever to huge gaps in trust among different parts of Russian society. The result was a gangsterist bloodbath.
(The exact same thing happened in Iraq, by the way. If there was one needless blunder of the Iraq occupation, it was ripping the pre-existing economic infrastructure apart, and assuming that a free-market economy would just spring up from the ground. Bremer and Co didn’t realize that the Baathist framework had evolved around pre-existing mutual distrusts within Iraqi society. Post-2003, people were expected to deal with other tribes and counterparties on a trusting basis, as if 1000 years of mutual ethnic cleansing had never happened. The Iraqis often didn’t trust their neighbors, and instead of interacting with neighbors according to free-market theory, they slaughtered each other for four years. It’s Chechnya, but 10 times bigger, and only after copying Russian tactics in Chechnya have the Americans gotten the occupation back on track.)
In such ethnically factionalized, mutually distrusting climates, dictatorships are a much better form of government. In Russia’s case, it has worked very well.
Putin has killed a lot of people. But he hasn’t killed as many people as Yeltsin’s “Family” did. He has godfathered a capitalistic service economy around a monopolized commodities sector. Russian oligarchs have done obscenely well in this commodities bull market, but the lot for most, if not nearly all Russians has improved significantly, as well. The concentration of political power in the hands of Putin and his two lieutenants, Igor Sechin and Vladislav Surkov, and a wider circle of commodities oligarchs has dramatically reduced economic and social volatility.
Volatile times call for ruthless people. Putin is an “evil” man in a much more evil domestic climate.
Western luminati, who try to impose Western political frameworks upon completely alien polities, are false doctors peddling promiscuously prescribed misery.