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XIII. GOVERNMENT

 

There are said to be some countries in the world where the government is even less efficient than in Russia. Don’t you believe it. There has never been an efficient administration in Russia from time immemorial. Efficiency and government in Russia are incompatible. This, at closer inspection, is not so very bad. When you know that you can expect little or nothing from your government, you feel free to act on your own.

Russians treat the law like a telegraph pole: you cannot jump over it but you can go round it. The first thought a Russian has after a new law is introduced is how to avoid it. The only law every Russian would agree with is – when you absolutely must not, but want to very much, you may.

More often than not a Russian will break the law even when he cannot gain much by doing so. He will cross the street at a red light or in the wrong place not because he is in a hurry but because it is so much fun to break a rule.

The Western concept of liberty is not the same as that which the Russians call ‘volya’. Volya

means that you are free to do what you like. Liberty is volya limited by law, a hateful idea for a Russian free thinker. The 19th – century conspirators who assassinated the Emperor Alexander II called their secret society ‘Narodnaya Volya’, the People’s Volya. It was volya for the Russian people that they were dreaming about, not liberty or freedom.

The Russian constitution says that Russia is a democracy and you just have to believe this.

The Parliament has 2 chambers. The lower chamber is called the Duma from the Russian word ‘dumatj’, to think. The name is meant to create the impression that some thinking is done there, though in reality nothing could be further from the truth. The upper chamber, called THE Federation Council, is made up of representatives of the regions, well paid functionaries who are supposed to lobby the interests of their territories.

Under the Communists there was only one party, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), often referred to simply as The Party. At election time there was only one candidate for each post – either a Party member or a non-Party one, the latter carefully selected by the Communists. Thus the so-called ‘block of Communists and non-Party members’ always emerged victorious.

Today there are scores of parties, from Communists to anarchists to extremists to nihilists and the Beer Fans Party and all are eager to recruit as many new members as possible.

The Russians are discussing the possibility of raising the salaries of the leading political figures tenfold or more in the hope that they will steal less. This is a good idea which has only one small disadvantage; a corrupt official will steal irrespective of how much he earns officially; he cannot stop even if he wants to because he has to work closely with his friends and is bound by certain obligations.

Officials stole on the days of Ivan the Terrible, they stole in the days of Peter the Great, they stole under Stalin and there is every chance that they will follow the same pattern for ever and ever. It’s part of the job, in a way. You cannot sit on a barrel of honey and not try a spoonful.

 


Date: 2015-04-20; view: 211


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