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Monday, September 26, 2011


Given my long-term project of describing the development of neo-feudalism (see various blog entries below), one is always heartened to find supporting evidence in the mainstream media – the German on-line news magazine Der Spiegel in this case. As always, one has to read between the lines so as to understand the sub-text. Modern Germany as the economic powerhouse of the EU must of course tow the political line of also being a model of democracy. As such the German economic power elites can freely admonish the likes of Greece for squandering their silverware even though Greece – so far at least – is as democratic as Germany. Given this heavy dual responsibility of being efficiently rich and prudently democratic, one must of course also admonish those who seem to lack in the latter department. Since the fall of the Soviet Union it was initially the good guys from the good old USA who advised the Russians as to what democracy means – presidential style. What with the US Empire fading lately, it falls to the former dominions, like Germany, to keep the Russians on their democratic toes. Hence one has to express utter disgust at the silly power games played out currently in the Kremlin between Putin (the Grand Duke) and Medvedev (the vassal). After all we could see Putin as President for the next 12 years or so, thus raking up some 20 years in (absolute = neo-feudal) power. Der Spiegel puts it thus:

Russlands Verfassung ist nicht mehr als eine leere Hülle, die das neofeudale Regime um Fürst Wladimir notdürftig kaschiert. So schwach und fehlerbehaftet die demokratischen Institutionen am Ende der neunziger Jahre auch gewesen sein mögen, Putin hat sie endgültig ihrer Funktionen beraubt. Er hat Parlamente, Richter und sogar das Amt des Präsidenten seinem Willen unterworfen. Eine Gewaltenteilung gibt es nicht mehr.

Die Boulevardzeitung "Moskowskij Komsomolez" nennt sein Reich am Tag nach dem Parteitag deshalb "Putlandia". Putins Russland ist keine Diktatur wie der Iran Mahmud Ahmadinedschads oder das Weißrussland des Diktators Alexander Lukaschenko. Putin hat aus einem stolzen Land bloß ein neuzeitliches Großfürstentum gemacht.

Notwithstanding that the Russian constitution allows for such a presidential succession, and notwithstanding that Germany’s post-war chancellors Adenauer and Kohl were in consecutive power for some 15 and 16 years each, and notwithstanding that the Bush clan managed a mere 12 years, and that the Kirchners in wonderfully democratic Argentina had/have a similar scheme – notwithstanding all that, we must chide the Russians for instituting neo-feudalism without having asked the mighty West for permission. The main problem is really the background of Putin: were he an entrepreneur of sorts, an economic oligarch and NOT an ex-KGB man who doesn’t fully comprehend the laws of the free market, then all would be forgiven. Medvedev on the other hand has a nice bourgeois, academic background – as opposed to Putin’s working class roots – hence would be acceptable as a long-term president. Even so Der Spiegel informs us that Putin isn’t quite as bad as the likes of ‘Ahmadinedschad’ or ‘Lukaschenko’ who are officially known as evil ‘dictators’ and must be removed forthwith.

It is interesting to contrast the Der Spiegel’s treatment – at the same time – of a truly feudal institution with that of (assumed) Russia. Since Der Spiegel somewhat reflects the German Protestant Church one can on occasion read about finely worded criticism of the Catholic Church and its pontiff, the German pope Benedict XVI. The feudal order of the Catholic Church has never been questioned. Her proclaimed benign divinity in the person of the pope may raise the ire of various Protestants and other non-believers but nobody in authority in Germany dares to question HIS authority over HIS flock. Never mind that he grew up as a Nazi youth, never mind that HIS priests sexually abused many a youth, never mind that HIS superstitions are the great obstacles for reasonable human progress – his fellow Germans, Catholic or not, cannot help but treat him as cuddly Father Christmas and or grand-daddy, a bit senile perhaps, or as Der Spiegel puts it:

Deutschland hadert mit seinem Groß-Vater

All in all we don’t mind a bit of irrational feudalism, just as long as its discourse is based on Mittelhochdeutsch and not on modern Russian tinged with a KGB accent. Of course we all would support a bit of Tsarist revival as long as free market (and soccer) experts like Roman-ov Abramovich keep out an unpredictable Ras-Putin.

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