Will the Russian Left Respond to Deepening Economic Crisis?
NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING
DONATE TODAY

Will the Russian Left Respond to Deepening Economic Crisis?


Aleksandr Buzgalin: The Russian left shows signs of growth in spite of being shut out of mass media -   October 3, 2012
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

Audio

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter



Because news is only as honest as the intentions of those who report it. - Joel L.
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

Bio

Aleksandr Buzgalin is a Professor of Political Economy at Moscow State University. He is also editor of the independent democratic left magazine Alternatives, and is a coordinator of the Russian social movement Alternatives, author of more then 20 books and hundreds of articles, translated into English, German and many other languages.

Transcript

Will the Russian Left Respond to Deepening Economic Crisis?PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.

And now joining us from Moscow for an update on things in Russia is Aleksandr Buzgalin. He's a professor of political economics at Moscow State University. He's also editor of the independent democratic left magazine Alternatives. Thanks for joining us again, Aleksandr.

ALEKSANDR BUZGALIN, PROF. POLITICAL ECONOMICS, MOSCOW STATE UNIV.: Thank you for invitation.

JAY: So the recession deepens in Europe. Unemployment continues at extremely high rates in the United States. What is the situation in the Russian economy? How much is it affected by what's going on globally? And how is the left in Russia responding to it?

BUZGALIN: It's very important topic for us, and I'm very glad to talk about this with international audience. First of all, I want to stress that in Russia we have a very long and deep recession. It's not maybe new wave of crisis in all forms, but we have very interesting and specific elements of this recession which are not typical for the West.

And main form is nonpayments between different enterprises, firms, and so on. As a result, people typically are working for nothing. I have very interesting examples when one firm will order some work for another, the work will be done, and then this organization will wait for one, two, three, five months when money will come. It's very strange situation, but we do not have any real opportunities to fight against such situation. And this creates very big problems for ordinary people, because they do not have wages. They are working, but they do not have wages.

It's similar with problems of 1990s, when we had very deep crisis, not simply recession, and it's create absolutely [incompr.] atmosphere in the [incompr.] Plus a lot of problems in the sphere of education, health care, housing, are not solved.

And when people—officials, not people, officials are explaining that inflation is not so high, only 10, 12 percent, maybe a little less officially, they will never say that for ordinary people inflation is much higher, because all main consumer goods, plus public transport entering Russia, it's very important for ordinary people, plus housing, heat, electricity, water supply, and so on. Prices in all these spheres are growing 15, 20, 25 percent and jumping permanently. So this is really big problems for our people.

Plus we still have a very unpleasant general atmosphere as far as political climate is concerned. We do not have dictatorship. We do not have even pure authoritarian regime. But people are tired from a situation where they're like puppets in the hands of officials, in the hands of mass media, in the hands of mass culture.

And this is very unpleasant situation for many Russians who became more citizens after rallies which took place last winter and spring when we had up to 100,000 people on demonstrations in main squares. And it was really important, and atmosphere, spirit of these rallies were very unusual, because ordinary Russians understood that they're real members of civil society, maybe first time after many years. Only in 2005 we had big rallies against monetization of benefits.

JAY: Right. When we talked about this last, about the big rallies, you pointed out that much of the leadership were coming from forces that in fact wanted a different variation of neoliberal economics, and they were raising the democratic questions sort of to serve those interests—maybe less so about, you know, a kind of more genuine democracy. So if that's the case, how is the left responding to that now?

BUZGALIN: It's very important that you ask this question, because the last rally, which took place September 15, had officially 12,000 participants. Really it was maybe two times bigger, but still not as big as before, and the whole atmosphere was not so enthusiastic as before. But among all these people, participants, left groups, left, different political, social movements and organizations were represented much, much bigger than before, and it was not maybe 5, 10 percent of people with red flags or left slogans, but maybe 30 or something like that.

The situation is moving and changing. A lot of people understood that these formal democratic slogans, which are important—honest elections and so on—really will not solve deep social contradictions. And to solve them is key question now for Russia, not only democratic. Both democratic and social questions are important [incompr.] And this is the main agenda of forum of leftist forces, second forum of left forces, which took place before a rally September 8 in Moscow in a big hotel. And more than 300 people came—mainly from Moscow, because the Russian periphery could not come. They simply cannot pay for ticket. To come from Siberia to Moscow costs more than to fly to New York now. For ordinary Russians it's necessary to spend three, four, five months' wage to come to Moscow, and they cannot do this. But they were with us. We had a lot of requests and proposals from different cities, regions, and so on.

More than 20 different left organizations, different forms of non-Stalin communist organizations, people who were excluded from Communist Party of Russian Federation because they were too democratic and not enough Stalinist, not enough nationalist. It's like a joke, but that's true—they were excluded for this. All those people, including some Trotskyist groups, a lot of young people, left feminist girls, and so on, came together, made, I think, very strong and important declaration, made march anticapitalism, regular march also successful—not very big, but very active, and good, enthusiastic atmosphere on it.

It was not bad reflection of this event in local internet, and not only internet, mass media. So it's really movement forward. And I hope in the future we have more and more consolidation.

Now it's only coordination. We have coordination council of forum of left forces. It's approximately 30 leaders and militants of different organizations. It's interesting, but this council can work like organizations and social forums. It's mainly democracy of consensus.

JAY: And are they planning in terms of what they plan to do in terms of movements in the streets? Or are they also developing some electoral strategy?

BUZGALIN: Mainly it's now, first of all, a continuation of the street activity. But idea is to have bigger left influence and more social slogans and goals in this movement, I mean, street activity. And this is successful tactic, not strategy, I can say. Then we are planning to make new social forum, because we must and we want to—not must, we want to involve different social organizations—greens, trade unions, and so on. And they are—independent trade unions, they're really left in my country. So I [incompr.] between the successful also integration of political and social, different initiatives.

I'm afraid to make very optimistic prognosis in Russia, because we have very strong cooperation from different sides, from authorities, from even mass media, for trying not to show that we exist; from even opposition, because for Communist Party and Just Russia, they're thinking that we are competitors, and we are not. We want to work with them, and we are trying to do this, and sometimes successfully. So I have some positive, how to say, intentions and positive feelings about this process now.

JAY: And what's planned in terms of the opposition movement? The rally, you say, the last one, was not nearly as big as before. Why is that? And where are things at in terms of the broader opposition movement?

BUZGALIN: First of all, their result is predictable, was predictable, because only formal slogans of very strange mixture of leaders, which were dominant before, led to the crisis of such form of demonstration as we had before. Now it's recruitment. And I hope the more we have social and democratic slogans on these demonstrations and other leaders and in other background and other networks included in these movements, the more we have success. And the question now is not simply 100,000 or 50,000. It's important, but the key question is atmosphere, activity, and continuation of the struggle. Now we have a small break, and I think we must have a small break for recruitment, for reorganization of forces and creation of new coalitions and umbrella organizations. And this process is developing, and [incompr.] I hope successfully and will be developed.

JAY: Alright. Thanks for joining us, Aleksandr.

BUZGALIN: Thank you. And sorry for this glass of water. It's not so simple at the end of the day to talk. But I was very, very glad to have this interview and I hope to continue cooperation. Thank you. Goodbye.

JAY: Thanks. And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Comments

Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

Comments


Latest Stories


Lawyers of Six Officers in Gray Case: Move Trial Out of Baltimore, And Away From Its Politics
Activist Kwame Rose Arrested Outside Freddie Gray Pre-Trial Hearings
Former Cop Says Freddie Gray Slowdown Didn't Prompt Crime Spike
TRNN Livestream Outside Freddie Gray Pre-trial Hearing
Trade Union General Strike Across India
In Landmark Ruling, California Prisons Halt Solitary Confinement
Veolia Pulls Out of Israel
Is Erdogan Creating a Perfect Storm to Get His Party in Power?
The US Dollar and the Search for a "Reasonable" Capitalist - Heiner Flassbeck on RAI (3/5)
Pre-trial Hearings for Freddie Gray Case Start Wednesday
What Has Changed Since Freddie Gray's Killing?
Labor, Bernie Sanders, and Direct Action: Larry Hanley and Morrigan Phillips
Is Obama Greenwashing His Climate Record in Alaska?
Key Pocomoke Councilwoman Says City Doesn't Speak for Her in Secret Meeting Controversy
Days of Revolt: The Revolutionary, Caged
A Broken System Breaks Families
Cheney Blasts Iran Deal, Forgets That as VP Iran Got Closer to Getting Nukes
DC Mayor's New Plan to Stem City Violence: More Policing
Extraordinary Brutality Inflicted on Civilians in Yemen
India's Economy Can Grow Without Increasing Carbon Emissions
The Media Assassin and Shooting the Enemy
Racing to a Dead End - Heiner Flassbeck on Reality Asserts Itself (2/5)
Pocomoke to Attorney General: Reason for Secret Meeting is Secret
Mediterranean Refugee Crisis Escalating
Who "Recovered" in Post-Katrina New Orleans?
The Global African: W. Kamau Bell & The Crisis in Detroit
Members of Syriza's Central Committee Defecting to Popular Unity
Bullock Trial Begins Friday
Why is Sanders Silent on U.S. Foreign Policy?
Reaganism and Thatcherism were Intellectually Dishonest - Heiner Flassbeck on Reality Asserts Itself (1/5)

RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting