Russia lacks soft power

Among the wonders of world politics is the popular appeal that the western world has had during the last decades, if not some centuries. Contrary to many unfavourable scenarios and fortune tellers, Capitalism has not yet collapsed. It still attracts people in most parts of the world, nowadays even in China.

Yet bullies lack soft power. The former Communist Soviet Union had, indeed, some soft power in the 1960s and 1970s even in the Western World. The utopias of Communism attracted a group of people in the West. Furthermore, the Kremlin’s policy of peace received some positive response among the western public in general, although the practical actions of the Soviet Union destroyed much of the political liturgy.

Freedom of the people, the right to be and act as an individual, is the axiom of the political thought in the western world. Also the Communist utopias were for freedom of the people. Yet these ideas never materialised, on the contrary. In people’s mind Communism is linked with poverty, oppression and prison camps.

World politics is not only diplomacy; it is more the silent agency of soft power and sweet power that appeal to individuals everywhere.

The neighbouring countries of the former Soviet Union were afraid of the pressures directed from the Kreml in Moscow. Westerners invented the phrase Finlandization (Finlandisierung), meaning the pressure that a small country (Finland) experienced in the shadow of the Soviet Union. Of course, the October Revolution 1917, the occupation of Eastern Europe after the World War II, Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968, etc. caused much fear in the western countries. Yet I think the people in the Soviet Union suffered most.

Today many in Ukraine and Moldova, among others, most likely have the same fear. Their big neighbour is behaving like a bully, not like a trusted partner in mutual and productive cooperation.

As regards Ukraine, I didn’t agree with the European Union policy. In the EU bureaucracy there are too many arrogant besserwissers (with luxurious privileges) who have lost the touch with the real world. They act as the French nobility did before the French Revolution in 1789.

I’m not saying that the western world is a paradise. In politics you can’t always deliver everything that one or the other wish to have. But you can give people hope for the better. And it takes only few years to see, if life is getting better or not.

At the moment it seems that the political elite in Russia lacks the vision of reform. The country’s economic life is not getting better. The civic society doesn’t get support from the leading elite.

However, the rise of the civic society gives an entirely different picture. It contradicts the politics. Russia is developing. That Russia, of which I’ll write more later, does have the soft power and sweet power that I, personally, love much.

I can imagine that some day Russia is a trendy business among the westerners. I hope the EU will solve a couple of its own major problems by then.

Bullies lack soft power.