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Is Democracy the answer to Russia’s problems?

Ruminations on Russia has taken La Russophobe’s recent interview, and run with it, in “an attempt to lift the La Russophobe debate out of the mire.”  And he’s picked a pretty controversial topic – democracy in Russia.

He manages to cover a wide spread of issues in just one post including – most impressively – managing to condense Russia’s post-Soviet history into a mere 20 words.  The section which struck me the most, though, was this:

Democracy is not the answer to Russia’s problems, actually in today’s environment it may add to them.  Would Russia would be better if it were democratic is like asking if you prefer peace to war – the answer is axiomatic.  However, democracy is not about voting and the right to vote.  That is purely the symbol.  Real democracy can only happen when rights and responsibilities are balanced.  Russia is not there yet.

I think he’s right – the question is, of course, how does Russia get from here to there?


  • The only way to bring democracy is to keep trying, if you stop trying you’ll never get there. end of story. democracy doesn’t just magically appear when when people are ready. obviously people were ready when they overthrew the soviet union, so people are ready now – they just need rule of law.

  • It’s so interesting. One minute the Ruminator leaves a comment on this blog to the effect that I’m unworthy of notice, and the next thing you know he’s writing about me. You know what people would say about conduct like that if it was coming from a woman?

    BALANCED: Right you are! Some people apparently have such low opinions of Russia that they feel its unfair to ask them to to be democratic. Those are the real Russia-haters.

    Meanwhile, as Andy properly observes, the quesiton is really how Russia will stop being so malignant. The Ruminator offers us no practical answers, and therefore his piece amounts to rationalizing inaction and helps Putin remain in power.

  • “Some people apparently have such low opinions of Russia that they feel its unfair to ask them to be democratic. Those are the real Russia-haters.”

    This is the same basic argument that is made against democracy in every region of the world both by anti-democratic forces in the region and those anti-American forces in the west who just hate the idea of loosing another enemy of America. (I am not an American, just pro-American.) We have been told by various people at various times that places like post-war Germany, Japan, the USSR, South America, and at times even Europe as a whole are culturally unable to sustain Democracy.

    I wonder (being new to this area of the blogosphere) if this Andy person feels the same way as the person (GER O’BRIEN) who was “absolutely baffled” that anyone would conduct an interview with La Russophobe. It always seems that people who are skeptical about democracy seem to denounce any forum which allows views which they oppose. Funny coincidence that. I am not accusing Andy of that but since GER said:

    “Even a cursory look at her blogsite reveals how extraordinarily biased and hate filled she is.”

    GER fits that bill. I have been to La Russophobe’s site and so far I have seen nothing to indicate her being “hate filled”. If bias means a rejection of the Russophile position then every anyone who takes an openly declared editorial position can be described as bias. The difference between the normal media and a site like La Russophobe is that the media takes an editorial position while denying that they have done so. That is bias. Putting up a site that makes an argument for a position is not bias it is supporting a position.

    Whenever I enter a debate on an issue that I have not had much in depth interest in I often notice a pattern. One side finds every instance of the opposition being allowed to speak as offensive, oppressive, hateful or abusive. Interestingly enough, it is this side which I often find has the weaker argument. Guess which side seems to be making the worst impression on me so far. I will give you a hint it ends in -phile.

  • Saul – I think Ger is right in the sense that democracy is not just about elections, but more about the values, such as freedom of the press, that underpin the electoral system.

    It’s why – to take a rather simplistic example – a country like the United Kingdom can be just as democratic as the United States, despite the facts that it continues to retain a Monarch as titular head of state, each of its 60 million residents are subjects of that Monarch, and no formal constitution exists to protect the rights of its ‘citizens’.

    And, to clarify – I don’t think that Russia, or any other country for that matter, is culturally unsuitable for democracy. I do, however, think that just holding a ‘free and fair’ election and expecting a fully fledged democracy to then appear is rather unrealistic.

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