Many articles in the US press have speculated at length in an attempt to define a new ideology called “Putinism.” The pieces serve as an attempt to fit Putin into an outdated Cold War narrative, as if some new ideology in the Russian Federation is playing the role that Marxism-Leninism once played in the Soviet Union, though the current Russian constitution forbids this.
The notable leaders of history are rarely ideologues. History judges people mainly by what they achieve, not what they write or say. As Chinese President Xi Jinping recently put it: “The worth of any plan is in its implementation.”
Putin has continued to play a specific role in the history of his country and the world. It is in his role as a leader of Russia that we can really define “Putinism.” However, when examining his achievements, Putin’s role and methods are not so different from those utilized by some well loved leaders in the history of the United States.
What has Putin achieved?
The dismantling of the Soviet Union, presided over by the pro-western Wall Street puppets in the Yeltsin regime, had catastrophic consequences. Ripping apart the state-run planned economy cast Russia and the surrounding countries into desperate ruin throughout the 1990s. There had been almost 100% employment during the Soviet period, but soon millions of Russians found themselves unemployed, with little social safety net. The medical system of the country, which had been one of the best in the world during the Soviet era, also descended into chaos.
Other problems that had been almost nonexistent during the Soviet period, such as narcotics, sex trafficking, and terrorism, also re-emerged with a vengeance. Organized crime, with roots in the underground economy of the Soviet period, suddenly became titanic and lethal. As the life expectancy and standard of living dropped, millions of Russians fled the country.
The only group that benefited during this post-Soviet chaos was a small group dubbed the “oligarchs.” The privatized industries and natural resources ended up in their hands, and they proceeded to loot the country with almost no governmental restraint. Many of the wealthiest Russian capitalists refused even to pay taxes, as the government seemed powerless to enforce even basic laws.
Meanwhile, takfiri Islamist forces in Chechnya, who had been funded by the United States and NATO to fight the Soviet Union, escalated their horrific killings, kidnappings, and mass murders.
It was in this context that Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, stepped up to lead the country. He began to battle the oligarchs and restore order. He directed the courts to prosecute some of the richest people and enforce the law. He oversaw the expansion of government-owned oil and natural gas corporations. In 2005, Putin launched the “National Priorities Project,” using government funds to build up the country’s education, healthcare, agriculture, and housing.
The results of Putin’s policies have been tremendous for the average Russian. During the first eight years of the Putin administration, the average wage in Russia has more than doubled. Unemployment has been drastically reduced. The rate of poverty has been reduced to 14%.
While the United States is suffering from the horrors of de-industrialization, Russia has been rapidly re-industrializing. During the first eight years of the Putin administration, industrial output increased by 125%, with overall industrial expansion higher than 70%. By 2007, Russia’s industrial output had reached the level of 1990, meaning after 17 years, Russia had finally been able to recover from the disastrous restoration of capitalism.
Between 2007 and 2014, the Russian Gross Domestic Product increased from $764 billion to $2096.8 billion. Putin has stabilized the country by standing up for everyday Russians against the rich and powerful. Polls in Russia show that upwards of 80% of Russians have a favorable view of Vladimir Putin.
It was recently announced that Russia’s crude oil production has now reached the highest level since the Cold War. An article from the October 6th edition of the Wall Street Journal quotes John Browne, the CEO of BP describing Russia’s economy saying “No country has come so far, in such a short space of time.
Internationally, Putin has united with China, ending the tragic divide that began with the 1961 “Sino-Soviet Split.” Putin has embraced the Bolivarian movement of Latin America and expanded trade with Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Russia has joined the BRICS initiative for a new currency, and has become a close ally of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Putin has attempted to remain on friendly terms with the United States, many times meeting with US presidents and often speaking highly of the United States in his speeches. However, as Russia becomes more stable, the United States has become more hostile to it. NATO is rapidly expanding, and a virulently anti-Russian regime has been installed in Ukraine.
Currently, Putin is in the process of attempting to destroy the Islamic State, or ISIS, in Iraq and Syria. The United States and its allies in the Gulf States have poured billions of dollars into an attempt to facilitate the violent overthrow of the Syrian Arab Republic. ISIS, which sprang up in 2014, has its roots in the Free Syrian Army, the Al-Nusra Front, and other US-supported extremist organizations.
Putin has made clear the Syrian Arab Republic is the country’s legitimate government, and that US-funded “regime change” is undesirable. Since the US toppled the governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, the countries have only become more impoverished and unstable. While the United States continues