Stephen Holmes on Political Technology - Dictionary of Arguments
Krastev I 93
Political Technology/Krastev/Holmes: In 1994, [Gleb] Pavlovsky founded his Foundation for Effective Politics (FEP), a think tank that played a pivotal role in Yeltsin's 1996 Presidential campaign and subsequently in the elections of Vladimir Putin in 2000 and 2004, and finally in Medvedev's election in 2008. After the electoral fiascos of 2011 and 2012, political technology lost its pre-eminent role in Russian statecraft. The Kremlin today seems to have little interest in creating the illusion of a political contest that Putin can triumphantly 'win'. But revisiting the heyday of political technologists like Pavlovsky can nevertheless help us explore the causes and consequences of
the faux Westernization that characterized Putin's first decade in power.
Krastev I 94
What distinguishes political consultants in the West from Russian political technologists is that the former work closely with independent media: their tradecraft involves influencing news organizations that they cannot directly control. Political technologists ply a different trade. They are experts in manipulating politically dependent media. Political consultants in the West are experts at winning votes for their candidates. Russian-style political technologists, too, are specialists at winning votes. They take an additional step, however. They also specialize in the 'creative counting' of votes. A political consultant works for one of the parties in an election and does his best to help that party win. The Russian political technologist is not so much interested in the victory of his party as in the victory of 'the system'.
Krastev I 95
At the height of their influence, political technologists were tasked with maintaining the illusion of competitiveness in Russian politics. As Andrew Wilson puts it, 'Post-Soviet political technologists' would see 'themselves as political meta-programmers, system designers, decision-makers and controllers all in one, applying whatever technology they can to the construction of politics as
a whole'. (1)
Krastev: Political technologists were, and to a limited extent still are, uncompromising enemies of electoral surprises, genuine party pluralism, political transparency and the freedom of well-informed citizens to participate in the choice of their rulers.
Pavlovsky urged the Kremlin to adopt new legislation that would create a body known as the Public Chamber in order to monitor Russia's NGOs and to marginalize and displace any NGOs that dared display autonomy from the state. Serving as a policy expert, he supported this move, and then,
in his role as an independent political commentator, he explained to the public what a wise policy the Kremlin had initiated. In the end, he became a member of the Public Chamber. The circle was closed. >Imitation/Krastev, >Imitation/policy of Russia, >Imitation/Post-communist countries.
1. Andrew Wilson, 'Virtual Politics: "Political Technology" and the Corruption of Post-Soviet Democracy', Johnson's Russia List E-mail Newsletter (21 December 2005); www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9324-5.cfm_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
The Common Law Mineola, NY 1991
The Light that Failed: A Reckoning London 2019