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Medvedev is not talking about "rational democracy", you (and AFP) are. AFP glued together phrases from different parts of the interview and then invented "rational democracy" (once again,  never used by Medvedev) for the headline based on this chopped sentence.

"Managed democracy" is introduced by Tretyakov in 2000 for the description of Yeltsin's regime from 1993 to 2000, especially the Voloshin and Putin as PM period and referred to the state and oligarchs manipulating the political process using media, spoiler parties, defining democracy as power of the democrats and using authoritarian means were result from democratic process was not guaranteed.

Since then it was used for some time in Russian expert circles, but was never dubbed as official ideology. By 2003 it became mostly derogatory term  used by professional fighters with Putin "regime". At this point in time I'm not sure if the term actually describes anything and if it does, why I don't see why it is not applied to all of the new Europe, Italy, Japan, UK and US, to name a few countries.

by blackhawk on Tue Jul 8th, 2008 at 09:27:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
1. Medvedev is not talking about "rational democracy", you (and AFP) are. AFP glued together phrases from different parts of the interview and then invented "rational democracy" (once again,  never used by Medvedev) for the headline based on this chopped sentence.

Dima talkin' about rational democracy at the G8.  Brought to you by the official Kremlin website.  

Russian text

English text

"разумной"  rational, reasonable, translate it how you wish, but this is the "condition" on which he accepts a politically & economically competitive system a.k.a. "democracy."  (as opposed to autocracy...)

The AFP comment is in quotes, and while I'm no fan of the MSM, I don't think this quote was used misleadingly.  Which is surprising, frankly.

2.  Thanks for the Tretyakov source!

Here is something in English for interested readers.

Diagnosis: Managed Democracy
I will put a name to the situation at which we arrived long ago. It is not dictatorship, not despotism. This is an authoritarian-proto-democratic type of government, existing in the form of a presidential republic and in the form of a nomenklatura. It is a bureaucratic, feebly federalist, in places quasi-democratic, and heavily corrupted state. In two words, the name I give for all of this is: "managed democracy." In 1917, the Bolsheviks, headed by Lenin, took power. They had their own democratic slogan, "All Power to the Soviets!" But they could not ignore the no less popular slogan in society, "All Power to the Constituent Assembly!" The Bolsheviks, however, lost the elections to the Constituent Assembly; they didn't have a majority.

What was Lenin to do? Correct: He unlawfully disbanded the Constituent Assembly, and then, suppressing the resistance (included the armed uprising) of his followers, turned to revolutionary terror.

Managed democracy emerged in the country in a Soviet guise. Real democracy, however, remained in the party, at the party congresses.

Stalin came to power. Under his rule, Soviet-style managed democracy became quasi-democratic, but democracy remained in the party. Then Stalin, through the method he perfected ("the main thing is not how they vote, but how they count the votes") turned an internal party democracy into a nationwide managed democracy. Stalin finally, using terror, turned even that managed democracy into a quasi-democracy. Yet another cycle in the history of the Russian representative council was completed.

Decades later, Gorbachev was unable to democratize the party, although he did practically give "All power to the Soviets." As a result, he was crushed and overthrown by both the undemocratic wing of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union [the State Committee for the State of Emergency] and the power of Yeltsin's Soviets, which had turned into the "ochlocracy" [mob rule] of the intelligentsia.

Yeltsin, the leader of the democratic-ochlocratic movement, ascended to the throne. Yeltsin was faced--as Stalin, Lenin, and Czar Nikolai II were before him--with an old problem: Parliamentary democracy (in all its forms throughout Russian history, from the Czarist Dumas, to the Constituent Assembly, to the Soviets, to the party congresses) was interfering with the country's highest executive power.

So what did Yeltsin, who spent only a few years honestly fighting unmanaged democracy, do? That's right: He did the same thing that the Czar did with the Dumas, the same thing Lenin did with the Constituent Assembly, the same thing that Stalin did with the soviets and the party congresses: He moved against them.

But Yeltsin next did something completely new in Russian political history. He took a step away from dictatorship and despotism. He called for Duma elections, precisely with the purpose of establishing managed democracy.

In 1996, during the presidential elections, the manageability of our democracy was demonstrated in all its elegance. The problem was something else: Yeltsin managed the country poorly. But he did not extinguish the democratic impulse and did not swerve toward despotism, even though the managed democracy that he constructed wished to overthrow him.

And then Yeltsin, at the height of his power, pointed to Putin.

Putin, along with Yeltsin, intelligently decided to extend the life of the managed democracy for at least another term. Why? Selfish reasons, of course, were there. But the main reason was fear--a rational, grounded fear--that a departure from managed democracy would lead the country form ochlocracy, to unmanaged democracy, to anarchy.

In a managed democracy, the people vote, but the people who are in power correct the people's choice ever so slightly. In whose favor? In their own favor, of course.

I was basing my own understanding on sources like the following:

Wikipedia

Lately this term is also widely employed in Russia, where it was introduced into common practice by the Kremlin theorists, in particular Gleb Pavlovsky.[1]

CSMonitor

Gleb Pavlovsky, the head of the Effective Policy Foundation, a Kremlin-funded think tank, says that "a regime of managed democracy had to be established [after Putin came to power] in 2000, in order to counter real threats from shady groups who had seized power in Moscow and in the regions. That task has been accomplished now. Today, Putin's power is based on the moral authority of a leader of civil society and not upon an authoritarian dictatorship."

BBC

Russia has no real history of dealing "democratically" with these questions.

There is no tradition of Western style presidential campaigns or even of really "credible" presidential elections.

Under Mr Putin, the Kremlin has learned about spin.

The chief "spin-master" is Dimitri Pescov, a suave and urbane chain smoker with an easy charm and fluent English.

He defends what he calls the "managed democracy" of Russia by claiming that there is no single model of democracy, so each country carves out its own style.

"And as for the Russian style?" I ask.

"Just because it is different does not necessarily mean that it is wrong," he tells me.

3.  At this point in time I'm not sure if the term actually describes anything and if it does, why I don't see why it is not applied to all of the new Europe, Italy, Japan, UK and US, to name a few countries.

I think it describes it well.  Of course, I don't know what "democracy" means anymore.  But again, I don't care who uses it or not, I will.  But I don't attach an implicitly negative connotation to it, even if the whole world does.  Why?  I live in Chicago.  Chicago is run like Russia.  I also think it's a fine place to live.  But it's no anarcho-democracy.  There is a political machine.  It's corrupt.  There is graft and patronage.  There are also elections in which, if people actually wanted to they could swiftly vote the machine out of power.  The mayor loves his city.  And he's hard not to like.  I could go on.   What I am saying is this:

I'm far less interested in the purity of the system than with the outcomes of it.  So I don't really care what kind of democracy you are ("democratic" being a term used by everyone from South Korea to America to Finland, thereby signifying nothing), just what you do with it.  

Why don't we call other places out for "managing" their democracies?  Because it's only bad when Russia does it, silly.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Jul 9th, 2008 at 12:42:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems blackhawk is protesting against the word combination "rational democracy", which was a combination created by AFP in the article title. It may be seen as gluing together distant parts of the press conference, since Medvedev was not talking about democracy directly, but about managing corruption:

President of Russia

FABRICE NODET LANGLOIS: I have another question on corruption. In March, you said that you want to change people's behaviour and that people in Russia are not always keen to follow the law. Speaking recently in St Petersburg, [Anatoly] Chubais said that reform, and I quote: 'will be ineffective without competitive political mechanisms and a strong opposition'. Do you agree with this view?

DMITRY MEDVEDEV:  Corruption, clearly, is the possibility of using one's monopoly situation to pursue what are generally selfish aims. Officials have exclusive powers and use them not in the state's interests but in their personal interest, in order to line their own pockets. All kinds of competition are therefore useful. We are taking a firm line, for example, on introducing tender procedures in the economy, perhaps not always exactly as we would like, but our policy is a firm one. Why are we doing this? We are doing it precisely because when there is a choice between several different options there can be no corruption. We know that results can be manipulated, and such cases occur here and in other countries, but the system is at least an open one. In this sense, competition between different political groups is also necessary in order to make the political system as a whole more stable.

The system built on the truth of one party alone proved its weakness 20 years ago. It was unable to cope with the new challenges arising and ceased to exist. In order to make our country competitive at the global level, we need to develop political competition too, but this should be reasonable competition, competition based on the law. This should be competition based on the law between political parties that want to take part in normal competition for building the best future for Russia. Without this kind of competition there can be no full-scale fight against corruption.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jul 9th, 2008 at 01:38:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We can sit here and parse words for the rest of our freaking lives - no - I won't.  But I think the point still stands.  

"we need to develop political competition too, but this should be reasonable competition,"  

The whole discussion is about the use of qualifiers to explain the reasons for what is perceived to be an undemocratic system.  He did not say "reasonable democracy," but "reasonable [political] competition," in a conversation about how the lack of political competition engenders corruption.   That is true.  But there is not any significant difference between that and "rational democracy."  It's very clear what he's saying here.  You guys are getting very angels on a pinhead with me, I think.  I'd like to maintain some perspective.  

I'm also forced to ask: why is this even an issue?!  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Jul 9th, 2008 at 02:06:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And from here on out, I would be delighted to talk about real issues, I'd be delighted to learn about the actual political structure and process in Russia -as opposed to whatever made up term they're calling it or the legitimacy of the usage of these made up terms, which I personally love for their sheer audacity and cleverness - or talk about silly meaningless nonsense.

But this is the Odds&Ends!  

The word police don't have much of a place in this forum.  A forum I have created for two explicit purposes: promoting Russia, and making words bend to my evil will!  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Jul 9th, 2008 at 02:23:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I won't speak for blackhawk, but I do see a possible meaning that is both more than angels and pinheads and has to do with political structure. Considering what he talked about earlier about the need for Presidential power, Medsvedev might have meant that a free-for-all political competition will only be a free-ride for corrupt forces, thus the end result is the same: officials will use exclusive powers not in the state's interests but in their personal interest, in order to line their own pockets. So the President of the Russian Federation sees his job as steering national politics between two dangers, hoping that these forces will weaken eventually and parties with a non-personal-enrichment agenda will emerge somehow - all this in the interest of prosperity in a globalised world...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jul 9th, 2008 at 03:35:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see at all how one can read "rational democracy" in his interview. If anything, for someone willing to parse words, either he gets too academic in his answer or sounds a warning to nefarious forces planning anti-constitutional actions.

When he references this "reasonable/rational" bit the second time, it's clear that by "rational" he means legal and constitutional.

I can not find the translation of the original 2000 "Diagnosis: Managed Democracy", only can find the Russian original.

Returning to "managed democracy", I still contend that it is not accurate to name it an official ideology. I can not find Peskov describing Russian systen as managed democracy, and given New European BBC, I would not be surprised if they invented him saying that. Pavlovksy, being a head of a (private) political PR and consulting company, can shoot his mouth off whenever he likes, but when he does that, he does not speak in any official capacity.


The system built on the truth of one party alone proved its weakness 20 years ago. It was unable to cope with the new challenges arising and ceased to exist. In order to make our country competitive at the global level, we need to develop political competition too, but this should be reasonable competition, competition based on the law. This should be competition based on the law between political parties that want to take part in normal competition for building the best future for Russia.
...

MICHAEL LUDWIG: After your election, you said that some people have been trying to undermine your partnership with Vladimir Putin. Mr Surkov said recently that, I quote, "some destructive forces in the country are trying to drive a wedge between you and Vladimir Vladimirovich".

Is this true? And who are these destructive forces?

DMITRY MEDVEDEV:  Everyone has the right and the possibility to comment on this or that process. My colleagues do this too, and this is absolutely normal. I am sure that there are some politicians out there who do not like the current power configuration, and part of the population no doubt does not like it either. But that is what democracy is all about. When elections take place the majority chooses a head of state, who in turn proposes the Government, and in this composition they work. I accept that not everyone may like the current set up, and I think that this is normal.

It would be ridiculous to list the names of destructive forces. I am not a supporter of conspiracy theories. Everything is a lot simpler in real life. But it is very clear that there is a system of political competition in any developed state. You asked me before about this too, about political competition. I think that this is a normal thing for any country. The main thing is not to let this political competition turn into anti-constitutional confrontation. Our country already had more than its share of this in the twentieth century. The President of Russia is the guarantor of the Constitution in order to be able to ensure general order in the country, ensure respect for the law and for rights and freedoms, give opposition forces the possibility to freely express their position, their views in the state structures, in the legislative bodies, in the parliament, and in the street, but all in accordance with the laws in force. Everything else is a question of evaluation.


by blackhawk on Wed Jul 9th, 2008 at 05:44:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can ET host a Blackhawk v. Medvedev debate?

B: I can not find Peskov describing Russian systen as managed democracy, and given New European BBC, I would not be surprised if they invented him saying that.

M: I am not a supporter of conspiracy theories.


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Jul 9th, 2008 at 06:36:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I still can not find any direct quote of Peskov calling   Russian democracy "managed".

But I can find this from the same time frame: Surkov, Jun 2006, direct quote:


"By managed democracy we understand political and economic regimes imposed by centres of global influence - and I am not going to mention specific countries - by force and deception."
by blackhawk on Wed Jul 9th, 2008 at 07:57:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I probably came upon this just as you were posting:

Surkov's "Sovereign" and "Managed" Democracy

Sean:

The deputy head of Putin's administration, Vladislav Surkov gave a rare press conference this week. His comments touched on energy geopolitics and Russian democracy. The latter topic has generated the most press as critics have tried to ascertain the meaning of Surkov's use of "sovereign democracy" versus "managed democracy". For the latter he gave this definition: "By managed democracy we understand political and economic regimes imposed by centres of global influence - and I am not going to mention specific countries - by force and deception." Of course Russia doesn't try to install "managed democracies" on its borders. Yeah, right. In this sense, Russia does what every power currently does. It uses the rhetoric of democracy as a tool of geopolitical maneuvering.

Take Surkov's democratic rhetoric as an example. His definition of "managed democracy" is a direct reference to America's view that the only democracy is American democracy or at least the only viable democracy is one that conforms to American interests. Surkov made these comments in the context Dick Cheney's hypocrisy in labeling authoritarian states "democracies." "When [Cheney] was in Kazakhstan after criticizing our democracy, he gave the highest rating to Kazakhstan's democracy. The Kazakh people are our brothers. But I will never agree that Kazakhstan has gone further in building democracy than we have." I'd have to score one to Surkov here. For Cheney to suggest that Nazarbayev's regime approaches anything close to a democracy should evoke rancorous laughter. The point however is Russia is itself playing the "democracy" game by measuring others and itself against imagined, and self-referential idealism about its own democracy.

In contrast, western critics use the term "managed democracy" to describe Russia as "backsliding" into authoritarianism. Surkov essentially turned the Western usage on its head. According to Surkov, "managed democracy" is given to states that are under the American neo-imperial umbrella. So Karzai's Afghanistan, Musharaf's Pakistan, Mubark's Egypt, and Iraq are democracies, while Russia is not. "They [the West]," charged Surkov in specific reference to American attempts to dominate the globes energy resources, "talk about democracy but they're thinking about our natural resources."

What we're talking about here is one phrase being used for multipe frames.  I agree with Sean's "Yeah right."  I agree with Surkov's legendary take-down of American policies.  However, you'll notice Surkov and Tretyakov are not using the same definition.  Because Tretyalov was doing analysis and Surkov was doing PR.  

I will give you this one, blackhawk.  On the sole basis that I'm coming up empty handed trying to provide anything you'd consider passable evidence for the term originating in the Kremlin.  

However, on some level I'm not totally convinced because I explicitly remember being long under the impression it was a phrase made up by the western press and then one day stumbling upon something (trying to jog my memory, I know it was in one of the half dozen books abut the Putin Admin I've recently read...)  in which people from the administration were explaining how they came up with this idea of managed democracy!  I seem to remember Surkov being in on that too, which, given politics and his PR mission, does not strike me as impossible.  And those whole thing was causing all kinds of grief and fallings out within the administration.  And I was like, "Oh!  I stand corrected!"  And now I'm standing corrected yet again.  So, frankly, I do not know.  I can go through life believing nothing I read (so why read at all) or reading everything and trying to glean some sense from it all.  

and quoting Sergei Roy (from the SRB post):

Consider the controversy concerning "managed democracy" vs. "sovereign democracy." Certain "purists" insist that either you have democracy or you don't, that real democracy comes without any adjectives, that any additions to the concept make it less of a democracy or no democracy at all. Well, those purists should pay attention to the frequency with which the phrase "effective democracy" is used in the US ideological environment and, still more, to the practice of imposing this "effective democracy" throughout the world -- most notably in Iraq, of course. Surkov's, and quite a few other people's, insistence on sovereign democracy means, quite simply, that to have a democracy in Russia, there must first be a Russia, recognizable to its people as their birthplace with a thousand-year history and a certain future as a single, indivisible country. A sovereign country. No wonder this term, sovereign democracy, is so virulently attacked by the said purists, for whom there can be only one kind of democracy the world over -- American democracy. We see only too clearly, however, that American democracy abroad is democracy for Americans abroad and at home, not for the peoples of that "abroad." Countries like Georgia and Ukraine are too close to Russia for us to miss the effect of the loss of sovereignty on democracy. To the US, these lands may appear to be beacons of freedom and democracy. At closer range, they look more like what the irreverent French call bordel de Dieu, the brothel of Our Lord. They are not even managed democracies, as Surkov calls them. They are mismanaged pseudo-democracies.

This is what I was getting at earlier.  Russia's being given an ongoing democracy purity test.  (And if you imagine that is NOT exactly what was going on at that G8 interview with Medvedev, you're naive.)  Any qualifier, regardless how it got there, how valid it may be as a descriptor or how maliciously it may be used in the press, means they're failing.  <--This is the message the world wants us to get.  Perhaps for you, and for Russia, and for its leaders, the desire is to deny or back away from these qualifiers.  For me, I say, own them.  Democracies probably SHOULD be managed, sovereign and rational!  And if they didn't create these qualifiers, they should co-opt and go fiercely after the mythology that the rest of the world are not doing the exact same thing, that only America or wherever is a genuine democracy, that for every "democracy" on earth, there are infinite PR spins to distract from the aspects of those democracies are anything but pure.   They need to change the frame and turn the tables (as Surkov was doing) but not just to point the finger at someone else, but to illustrate and reject outright the fallacy implicit in the suggestion that ANY country can be a pure democracy!


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Thu Jul 10th, 2008 at 02:16:21 PM EST
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