Thursday, January 17, 2008

[russia] vain expectations

This is the first time I've directly run a guest post from one of my Russian friends and it appears unedited below. By Dmitri Panov, the intellectual advocate [my words, not his]:

Western countries' nervous reaction to the last Russian elections is a part of the great problem of their misunderstanding of Russia. Western people are extremely stubborn in their expectations of democracy in Russia, but their hopes are always in vain.

I suppose that the reason of those expectations is a little bit funny: similarity in appearance of Russian and European people. This fact has been confusing many people for many years and even centuries – both in Russia and abroad.

But the truth is that: similarity in appearance doesn’t indicate an internal similarity. And internal difference between Russian people and Western people is not less than – for example- between Western people and Chinese or Middle Eastern peoples.

If anybody wants to check this fact he has to look at the essential events of the Russian modern history, such as, for example, lower classes revolution of 1917, atheism and existence for 90 years without real upper class . So what reasons do we have to assume that this convoluted way will lead Russia to the Western type of democracy?

The best thing for Western people is to understand finally that Russians are absolutely different and Russia has been going through the centuries by its own special way, with all pluses and minuses – like all countries in the world. Eventually the real aim of every society is justice and fairness.

And democracy per se is only one of the ways to achieve them and – according to Plato - far from being the best.

January, 2007

Go for it, readers. :)


  1. Excellent point. Westerners sadly believe that democracy is the only. It's almost religious at times and also very silly.

    You just have to look at the mess in Iraq to understand that Democracy is just another form of government.

    Rather than some universial panacea

  2. Hm, taming my fingers, at least this:
    A thought-provoking debut, Mr. Panov, with emphasis on provoking. :)

  3. Russia isn't going to be democratic any time soon. Possibly, ever. It's a lack of civics education, really. Russians want employment, safe streets, food in the stores, education for the kids, and for the utilities to work reliably in the winter. How all this happens - that is "im do fonarya." If one guy and his clique can get things running and keep them running - more power to him, pardon the pun. What they don't realize - because history never gave them a chance to do so - is that such use of power is, in the end, inefficient and relies too heavily on the morality of the guy or several guys running the whole show. Democracy is better than otehr forms of government at regularly flushing the rot out of the system - not perfect, but better.

  4. Interesting post. I agree that we in the west tend to think democracy is the only way - often with disastous results - but what, I would like to know, is better? [I know this question has been posed by people brainier than me.] I'd never thought about the differences between us being so vfast before.

  5. [The guest author is new to the gsme so I'll tell him this morning and he'll answer the comments.]

  6. Eventually the real aim of every society is justice and fairness.
    Great line- but I don't think that is possible in ANY society.

  7. Dmitri Panov.
    It is pointless, and simplistic in the extreme, to discuss democracy, in todays world, in your terms.
    Now, get this straight from the start, I am not criticising your position as it stands.

    Everyone is a product of their history, and also the party-line which is prevalent at any one time. And no-one is more guilty than I, on that score.

    But if you want to accurately view the world, you have to appreciate more than local, recent history, and the current party-line. You have to look beyond the party line, and examine its motivations, its need for self perpetuation. And this is true for all nations.

    You must also appreciate that democracy, as idealised everywhere, does not exist. Far from it.

    You have to look more deeply at other nations too, examine their motivations and needs, while ignoring, temporarily, your homeland party-line. Then compare the two, for honesty.

    The sadness of it all is that most nations strive for the same things. The difference in their methods of striving seem to come from an array of reasons. The overall sadness, particularly in todays situation, seems to be that the overall motivation driving international forces, seems to be one of outright greed. This having its origins in stupidity derived, in turn, from local greed.

    Now, although this explanation may sound rather arcane, if you carry it in mind during your future readings, (internationally, I hope), you will realise it to be true.

    We all rent a little space on this planet. The resources are finite, (at todays technologies, - but maybe, in the near future.....), so we have to learn that the basic models of economics, of living, of consumption, are not sustainable. The current methods employed by all nations, be it whaling, acquisition of oil or gas reserves, agriculture, combating CO2 emissions, are both not sustainable, and perversely given current methods, entirely capable of destroying our species, and also this planet.

    This is not an argument against globalisation, merely an argument against the greed inspired and feudalism methods of the current drive for globalisation.

    To say we are different is wrong. Whatever our immediate backgrounds, or our different appearances, we are all capable of inter-breeding. That means we must have originated from the same feed-stock, IN RECENT HISTORY. (Take some time to think about the implications of that!) We share a common "house", yet all we are capable of is emphasising our differences? our motivations are wrong. Everyone will loose!

    Let me give you a few clues.
    Jericho is an ancient city in the Middle East. Excavations reveal ancient food sources. Seeds were planted and harvested. We are told that our modern grains are derived from ancient grasses, and through thousands of years of cross breeding, we are where we are. This is a global untruth. The seeds excavated were far nearer to current seeds (in terms of years evolution by the methods we are expected to believe) than they were to grass seeds. Think about that for a moment.

    The second clue is that pre 4000bc civilisations in Iraq/Iran, were aware of, and used, monatomic elements. This knowledge was also evident in pre-dynastic Egypt. This implies a knowledge of the structure of an atom, and the engineering skills to manipulate it. Think about that for a moment.

    Homers Iliad speaks of the moons of Mars, Demios and Phobos. Think about that for a moment.

    Knowledge of the "Fine Structure Constant" was apparent throughout the ancient world. It could be argued that the Egyptians even had a hieroglyph expressing its number as a fraction.

    That's enough for now

    Have a good day, I wish you well.

  8. Dmitri has e-mailed me this answer to post:

    I want to thanks James for his publishing of my post at his blog and for his good words about me.
    I want to thanks everybody who sent their opinions concerning to my post.
    I have nothing else to say about this problem and I don’t know what type of government would be the best for Russia now.
    I only know that the most attempts to introduce elements of western-type democracy in Russia turns out into their opposition: free election – into manipulations and garbling, federalism – into separatism, economic liberalism – into tax evasion and corruption.
    And I’m sure that Russian people have to make efforts to find such type of government that would be appropriate to their mentality.


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