THE SHADOWS OF NEW RUSSIA
The London Review of Books has a piece up by Perry Anderson, entitled “Russia’s Managed Democracy“. It is overly long and meandering, the author, as he is a liberal academic, gives short shrift to the danger posed by revanchist Communists during Yeltsin’s first term. He’s either clearly misinformed or unwilling to deal with that political complexity because it would disturb the grinding of cherished axes.
Nevertheless, if you graze through this essay, you will find good nuggets because the author’s contemporary analysis is backed by a deep comprehension of Russian history and culture. For example:
“The intelligence [of Putin] is limited and cynical, above the level of his Anglo-American counterparts, but without much greater ambition. It has been enough, however, to give Putin half of his brittle lustre in Russia. There, an apparent union of fist and mind has captured the popular imaginary.”
A phrase that makes a great deal of sense if you are familiar with the respective roles of the intelligentsia and state in the Russian cultural sphere for the last century and a half.