Ivan Samolovov's Blog

On goods and bads of realistic thinking

February 24, 2014
The talks about bipolar world and its alleged stability in relation to other models of the world are very popular in Russia. However, the realists are rather indifferent to the internal structure of a state. Instead, they tend to see the state as a unit. In my opinion, the last events in Ukraine are the powerful evidence for the fallacy of this approach.
Why is the bipolar world the most stable one? We should add first: "than multi- and unipolar systems". Indeed, the multipolarity implicates a bigger uncertainty about intentions of others for there are many great powers and, hence, the conflict is more likely to break out. While the unipolar system are sustained by its absolute hegemon who tries to suppress any attempts to form an equal pole of power by resorting to preventive actions. Or, as in the case with the USA, the hegemon can interfere in every local and regional conflict in order to spread his own model of government for sustaining and extending his hegemony. Besides, the wars in the former Yugoslavia, Africa and some post-soviet states can be regarded as a proof for the superiority of the bipolar system for in the unipolar world old ethnic and religious conflicts came out.
F. Lukyanov claims that it was this state of uncertainty that governed the recent Russian "conservative" shift. Yet Lukyanov is pessimistic about the possibility that a strong pole of concervative powers emerges. For China or other more or less important "non-euroatlantic" actors are rather indifferent to the Russian quest.
The thing I want to point at is that it would be consistent with the realistic thinking to regard the political system of a state as most stable, if it possesses two definite and stable poles of power as in the international system. Political left and political right, for instance. The system, in which the one party monopolizes the state power - using very questionable means,by the way - is less robust. Because it tends to suppress non-system opposition by restricting the access to mass media, manipulating elections and depriving it of public finance. What restricting possibilities for legal political participation leads to is that the opposition receives support from outside. Ultimately, it leads to mass protests.
Why is Russia so angry at the "western orchestration" of colour revolutions and Maidan? Having obviously pretty much money - remember the loans to Kyrgyzstan or Ukraine - Russia is undoubtedly able to support "destructive elements" in the US or Great Britain, for example. The question is who gets the money and to what end? Both republicans and democrats in the US possess equal oportunities and come and go in equal and - with some minor exceptions - fair political struggle. The answer is that the Kremlin freaks out because it cannot return like for like. For colour revolutions were determined by the specific structure of power in those countries, which is different in the West. Thus, handing out cookies on the Maidan by Victoria Nuland can also be judged as interference in the internal affairs. Does anyone forbid Russian representatives to meet demonstrants elsewhere? No-one. For there is no need.
My point is, finally, that Russia has to put up with the fact that her neighbouring countries - and to some extent Russia herself - find themselves in a state of turbulence. First, the return to totalitarianism is in all cases futile. Second, the democratic status of the post-soviet states - at least in accordance with their constitutions - implicates party competition, choice among the alternatives. It is the attempts to forcefully restrict the competition and limit the choice that force people to go to the barricades. That is why I claim that Russia ought to welcome the development of the democracy in Ukraine and not to resort to "twisting-arms" policies.
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