Putin’s Russia and Modern Authoritarianism

Posted: November 11, 2011 in Russia

Note:  More often than not, my libertarian philosophy ensures that I am reluctant in broadcasting my views concerning foreign governments.  This is because most discussion of foreign policy in the United States is spurred from the intellectually dominant premise that the U.S has a right to unlimited intervention in the affairs of foreign governments.  My observations concerning the political activities of other countries are completely passive.  Although as a student of political philosophy I obviously disapprove of the practices of many foreign governments, I do not suggest that the United States should “do something about it.”

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia is the poster child of 21st century authoritarianism.  Considering his intention to seek a third nonconsecutive term as President of Russia in 2012, there is no doubt that PM Putin intends to rule Russia for the rest of his life.  Putin has completed the playbook on 21st century democratic authoritarianism.  Since the beginning of his first term as President in 2000, Putin has had great success in making authoritarianism “cool” again.

Putin, from all impressions that I can gather, seems extremely popular, both in Russia and around the world.  Surprisingly, the projected image of the authoritarian iron fisted ‘He-Man’ has propelled Putin into a state of international celebrity that few other world leaders have managed to achieve.

In the view of a civil rights loving westerner such as myself,  Putin is not defined as much by his supposed strong and capable leadership as he is by his personal responsibility for the re transformation of Russia into an anti-democratic nightmare state.  Since Putin’s ascension to power in 2000 via a practical military coup;

Putin has waged social warfare on benefactors of Russia’s 1990’s era free market, ironically terming leaders such as Boris Berezovsky as “oligarchs”.  Berezovsky gained prominence actually as the prime mover in Putin’s ascension to power in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.  Berezovsky was by no means a social liberal, but he did have political influence independent from Putin’s, therefore he had to be eliminated.

Putin ‘s regime also quenched significant political opposition in 2007, this time in the form of the United Civil Front lead by former chess master Garry Kasparov.  The United Civil Front’s humble goal was to establish a “free political floor” on which free elections could be held.  Once again, at the cusp of Kasparov’s influence, Putin eliminated his political influence in Russia.

Furthermore than his antagonizing of all alternate political expression; Putin has increased military spending an average of 20 percent annually since 2000.  Although this growth is perceived by most as an effort to consolidate Russia’s image as a powerfully independent nation in the international arena, it undoubtedly adds to Putin’s already near dictator like power.

Upon Putin’s expected return to the presidency next year, awareness should be spread of the notion that in the coming years Vladimir Putin will undoubtedly be the world’s most powerful man.

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