VICTOR LOUPAN, HEAD OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Populism, which is much criticized by all, is in fact a keen response of a society to an ossified system that ‘breathes’ hopelessness
The much talked about founding fathers of the United States of America feared democracy as plague. As far back as the eighteenth century they realised that democracy was ‘the dictatorship of the majority’. In other words – the majority’s tyranny over the minority.
Knowing and understanding the people (or, to be more exact, ‘the grassroots’) perfectly well, the founding fathers foresaw that the masses were capable of electing a dictator or, at worst, a king by themselves! That is why they devised a complicated oligarchic electoral system in which a winner of presidential elections is determined by a manipulative correlation of forces between representatives of different states, not just by popular votes. Thus, the most populous states do not dictate their will toless densely populated and remote regions.
But it is this literally ‘undemocratic’ principle which was meant to safeguard the system and prevent democratic catastrophes that brought the ‘unwanted’ Donald Trump to power. His rival Hillary Clinton gained nearly three million more votes than Trump, but interestingly, in spite of this, she admitted her defeat. This clearly shows that the system is of primary importance, while factual reality is of secondary importance.
Now the West more often refers to Russia as to ‘a democratorship’ because in the current Russian political system nothing is opposing its executive authority. According to the West, the executive decides everything, while legislative institutions and judicial bodies just rubber-stamp the Kremlin’s decisions. Simply speaking – Putin’s decisions. And no one in the West cares about the fact that there is consensus around the authority in Russia. It believes that democracy in Russia is purely nominal, that the political opposition and freedom of speech are no more than fictions, so this country is a democratorship.
It would be amusing to recall that a quarter century ago Alexander Zinovyev [a Russian philosopher and writer]who then lived in Germany described the evolution of the Western society as ‘post-democracy’. It followed from his extremely convincing study that the West was nominally a democracy, but in reality – an oligarchy. For no one has promoted any alternative to the Western order for a long time, while political parties are continuously struggling for power, though they barely differ from each other. Surely he was right.
Vladimir Putin is often accused of being re-elected for the umpteenth time. We heard these reproaches many times. But the fact that Angela Merkel is going to run for a fourth term in succession is nobody’s concern. The present situation in Germany is brilliant confirmation of Zinovyev’s theory. Both the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats have been in power there for many years, though they are generally and historically in opposition to each other. For the Christian Democrats are right and the Social Democrats are left. But this exists only on paper; in effect the Christian Democratic Union of Germany and the Social Democratic Party form one governing party which rules the country. So, today Germany has a one-party system de facto. Its formal opposition consists of tiny ultra-right and ultra-left parties with little chance of coming to power.
A similar situation can be seen in overwhelming majority of developed countries. Some have ‘democratorship’, others have ‘post-democracy’, but the heart of the matter remains the same. Globalism, coupled with the rapid development of information technologies, have weakened the traditional basic principles of democracy. Populism, which is much criticized by all (though nobody explains it or knows what it’s like), is in fact a keen response of a society to an ossified system that ‘breathes’ hopelessness.
It is now evident to us that Putin initially was a reaction to all of this. He was a forerunner. This is why leaders of populist parties and movements from around the world tend to quote him and follow his example. Trump is simply the latest and most famous of them. But the same tendency can be found in France, the Netherlands, Italy, Hungary – everywhere!
At present this conflict between populism and democratorship can be best observed in the USA. And upon taking office Trump, ‘a populist’, immediately started to fulfil the promises he had made to his supporters. And, although he is an elected representative of the people (but of the ‘wrong’ people!), the system at once began to resist Trump.
Unmistakably anticipating the current struggle of the oligarchic system against the people (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others were oligarchs themselves), the founding fathers created a system in which the Constitution is of primary importance, not executive power. Thus, this literally means the tyranny of law over the expression of the popular will. And here we see the following picture: a federal judge from the remote state of Washington suspends an ‘unsuitable’ decree of the US President who is considered ‘unsuitable’ by the system! A stern response from Trump follows instantly: he accuses the judge (and the whole system with him) of endangering national security. The mentioned decree bans entry into the country of persons from seven majority-Muslim countries – under the pretext of the war on terrorism. It is still unclear how all this will end. But all agree that it is extremely serious.
And here it would be wise to ask ourselves a question that is far from being speculative: to whom does real power in the USA belong? If it is neither the people nor the people’s elected representative, then where?
As long ago as the seventies Alexander Zinovyev published his book in the West, Communism as a Reality, which was prohibited in the USSR. This was a work of a genius, though many did not understand it and underestimated it. The Western ideology – of which he prophetically wrote in the final years of his life – gave rise to the phenomenon that we face today. This democratorship, or ‘post-democracy’, is a complex reality that is spreading to the USA, EU and the Russian Federation. In general – across the globe. Its styles may vary, yet the main point is the same.