On the New Opposition - 2

In our publication “On the New Opposition – 1”, we register that the “the opposition generated by the collapse of the USSR is coming to an end” and pose the following question: “when will Kazakhstan have a new real opposition to the current authorities, what will it be like, what will it try to achieve and by which means”?

We at KZ.expert believe that a true opposition in the form of an influential political party or a civil organisation is not going to appear in Kazakhstan for the next several years. Simply because, to create it, they need to have either an idea that will receive real support of many proactive citizens or a leader (leaders) to whom the citizens will believe and whom they will follow. Better yet, if the first and the second condition exist at the same time.

Yet, both of these things is a problem for Kazakhstan. And not only because, for a number of years, the authoritarian political system and the “super-presidential” vertical have been pressurising anyone brave enough to hold up their head and speak out (let alone actually do something). But also because, for a long time, the Kazakh society has been ruled by the absence of ideas (unless one counts the slogan “Get rich by any means possible!”).

In these circumstances, it us not very likely that Kazakhstan will soon have a number of followers of say Karl Marx or any other ideological leaders of the past and the present. Moreover, we believe that the noticeable degradation and marginalisation of the Kazakh society (of both the Kazakh-speaking and the Russian-speaking parts) will end in nationalism (of the vulgar variety) and Islam (of the cultic sort) getting most chances to spread across the country.

Their comparative advantages are as follows:

  • first, they can be understood even by uneducated citizens,
  • second, they are easy to promote and accept,
  • third, they are perfectly in sync with the Kazakh realia where the clan solidarity is much more important than the human rights and civic responsibilities (say nothing of patriotism).

The problem, however, lies in the fact that forming a true political opposition on these ideological positions in extremely unlikely. And not only because the “super-presidential” vertical learned to control the nationalists and their organisations long ago and perfectly well (moreover, the authorities have already used them in their political interests on a number of occasions). The same is true for the Islamic sects most of which, at this point, exist underground.

One may accuse us of excessive pessimism and exaggeration but we do have one unanswerable argument – the total number of people that are joining (have already joined) the publicly important projects does not surpass several thousand (at best). Usually, this number constitutes hundreds or dozens.

One may assume, therefore, that, at this point, Akorda and the Library have no cause for concern and the real opposition to the pro-Nazarbayev political parties is not going to appear any time soon (if at all). Nonetheless, this is not the case.

Why do we think so? Because, de-facto, practically the entire population of the country exists in opposition to the authoritarian political system and the “super-presidential” vertical, all its levels and elements starting with Akorda and the Library and ending with the local authorities.

Of course, the nature of this opposition is not political but social and economic. As a result, the Kazakh citizens en masse are not prepared to defend their own and someone else’s rights and liberties. On the other hand, when it comes to protecting their personal interests, they are defend them to the bitter and sometimes even with lethal force.

This situation is quite unique for the civilised world and Kazakhstan has inherited it from the Soviet Union. Moreover, for the thirty years of the sovereignty and independence, the opposition moods have grown stronger thanks to an extreme social division into a small number of the über-rich and a great number of the poor, very poor and those who have nothing.  

We at KZ.expert believe that, in these conditions, anyone who wants to change the country for the better will be in the wrong to try and create a large public structure (say nothing of making it officially legal). If only because it would be an attempt to play the field completely controlled by Akorda and the Library.

And such an attempt is doomed to fail. For, judging by the fact that not a single new political party (even of the pro-governmental variety) has appeared in the country for a number of years, the ruling elite is not ready to allow the existence of political pluralism even amongst their own, let alone the entire country.

Therefore, one should create their own rules of the game and their own political space. How? Quite simply, by using the modern technologies. Particularly, the Internet and social networks. And limit the state’s capabilities to push back against those wishing to be pro-active.

However, this can be done on one condition – we must stop fighting with the real or imaginary competitors to gain attention and support of the citizens. In other words, try and implement your own project without doing any damage to other activists.

If such tactic will be accepted and implemented by most civil activists (especially if they start interacting in a more active fashion and on an equal footing, share ideas, support each other), the effect may turn out to be particularly remarkable and, most importantly, grievous for the authoritarian political system. For, if a hundred people participate in a single protest action in a single location, the authorities will solve this problem quite easily. But if the same hundred people hold many protest in a dozen different spots, the authorities will have a much harder time dealing with it.


 To be continued


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