10 June 2013
Source: HRO.org (info)
The notion of ‘foreign agents’ strengthens in society a picture of the world which is rarely articulated openly. They want to convince us that everyone is working in someone else’s interests, and no one can work in their own interests. The leadership of the country tells us: no one is a citizen or a member of an organization in Russia of their own free will.
In the language of economics, this amounts to saying that there cannot be any principals in the country, there are only agents of somebody else.
No self-respecting businessman, not a single civil society activist or sociologist is able to seriously defend themselves against the vague accusations of espionage, by saying that the represent the interests of Russian citizens, and not, let’s say, American ones. The very idea of having to find oneself a boss is humiliating. Businessmen don’t serve the people, but themselves; civil society activists serve their own idealism, and sociologists satisfy their own curiosity. And perhaps that’s how it has to be, and not otherwise.
Any country of course wants to have ‘principals’ – people who take on the responsibility of decisions, putting at risk their own reputation and their own money. The private business owner is more reluctant to agree to a kickback than the manager of a state company: who, after all, will steal from their own pocket?
The head of an NGO getting funding on the international market thanks to a reputation built up over many years will not serve passing political interests, while a ‘civil society activist’ fed from the government’s table risks nothing by doing so.
The sociologist who works in the world of academia values the opinion of his colleagues more than he values the money of those who order skewed surveys. The nationalization of business, of the Third Sector, and of the ‘elites’ contradicts the national interests of the country.
Our state, built by agents, wants to see all its citizens as agents. As a result NGOs and the community of independent experts face a false choice — to take an oath of loyalty to one’s own people (as embodied by whom?) or to someone else. It is not surprising that not one of the respected NGOs has agreed to make this choice.
When there is no independent Third Sector left, no ‘national agents’ will be able to take on themselves its functions. Decades of experience of nationalizing the economy have shown the real costs of agents’ expenses.
The fall in value of the shares of state companies, the growth of corruption, the monstrous inefficiency and the difficulties of carrying out even show-case state projects is all the work of agents. Those who are carrying out this work have more knowledge and this allows them to put their personal interests ahead of the interests of the customer. In this sense the inefficiency of the state is the result of a conscious choice predicated on the desire to turn everyone into its agent.
All of the above relates equally to law enforcement officers deciding who to charge with spying. For them, the Third Sector and independent experts are all potential problems
The state had wanted to fight against civil society selectively, but can no longer do this: investigators and prosecutors are not that bothered even about the national interests that have been stood on their head; they are rationally pursuing their own goals. It is easy enough to start repressions, but very hard to stop them.
Soon in Russia there will no longer be any people left – only agents. This is very bad news.
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