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An Alternative View of Events in Russia

English

An Alternative View of Events in Russia
August-September 2013

 

1. The Russian Academy of Sciences: The Struggle Continues

As a result of efforts by the scientific intelligentsia, the struggle against legislation aimed at reforming the Russian Academy of Sciences remains as before at the centre of public attention.

On Suvorov Square in Moscow on 24 August more than a thousand people, including scientists, teachers, other members of the intelligentsia and concerned citizens took part in a demonstration against the reform of the Academy. The protest action was aimed at drawing the attention of society prior to the opening of the autumn session of the State Duma, at which it is proposed to adopt the fundamentally antisocial draft law on Russia’s leading scientific body. In their slogans, the demonstrators put special emphasis on the government’s aim of transforming science and education from areas of social benefit, and values in themselves, into objects of sale and purchase.

 

How it was: personal notes on non-personal occasion”

( Conference of the Russian Academy of Sciences,

29-30 August 2013, Moscow)

The Extraordinary Conference of the Russian Academy of Sciences (the RAS) scientific workers held on the 29 and 30 August under the title “The Present and Future of Science in Russia. The Place and Role of the Russian Academy of Sciences”. It was designed to demonstrate the conviction of the overwhelming majority of scientists that it is fatal for science to adopt a draft law aimed at reforming the Russian Academy of Sciences. The law is deduced from scientific organizations and handed them over to a newly created bureaucratic agency under the Ministry of Education and Science . At the same time such a conference allowed the Presidium the Russian Academy of Sciences to channel the protests, which otherwise could take the anti-governmental, sharply opposing political form. The conference brought together more than 2500 thousand people. It will address not only the leaders of Russian Academy of Sciences ( academics Forts , Alferov, Rubakov , Zakharov , Nigmatulin , etc.), but also a large number of scientists from different institutions and regions of the country. Criticism of the bill was unanimous and scathing. In this part of the speakers criticized the shortcomings of the RAS and offered their direction of reform, including those developed by non-governmental organizations of scientists. The author also presents the concept of reforming the Russian Academy of Sciences , St. Petersburg Scientific Union , being its co-chairman of the Coordinating Council.

The Conference adopted a resolution against the discussion of the law, the principles of reforming the Russian Academy of Sciences, and decided to meet at the first call of the Organizing Committee, if it comes necessary. However, the conference showed that the majority of workers are not united and the RAS is not acting with a holistic program that focuses primarily on the immediate interests of the researchers and the democratization of science management in the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences is not yet committed to support such an association and a direction of reform from below.

David Epstein, Professor, Doctor of Economics,

Saint Petersburg

Further on this topic:

http://www.za-nauku.ru, http://www.rasconference.ru

 

2. Counter-Summit in St Petersburg

On the initiative of the Postglobalisation project, a counter-summit was held in St Petersburg on 3 and 4 September, coinciding with the summit of the G-20 countries. More than thirty delegates took part in the counter-summit, representing social movements from around the world. Among the participants was the internationally renowned scholar and director of the Third World Forum, Samir Amin. As is widely known, during the five years since the beginning of the global financial crisis member countries of the G-20 have continued implementing destructive and antisocial policies that serve exclusively the interests of transnational capital. In this regard the participants in the counter-summit set themselves the task not only of working out ways to resist neoliberal globalism, but also of creating a systemic alternative on the level of economics, culture, political participation and ideology, capable of serving as the basis for changing the civilisation paradigm of the modern world. As the outcome of its work, the counter-summit of representatives of world social movements adopted a number of key declarations on various problems of contemporary life. These included declarations on free trade, on speculation, on replacing the IMF and World Bank with institutions of grassroots democracy, on the annulling of illegal debts, on food supplies and agriculture, and on alternative investment policies. These declarations rested fundamentally on the idea of active popular participation in diverse areas of social development and on mechanisms of grassroots democracy.

More information:

The “Postglobalisation” initiative

http://pglobal.org/

 

3. Russia’s Position on the Conflict in Syria

On 10 September 2013, in an attempt to bring about peaceful regulation of the Syrian conflict, Russia’s political elite moved in the United Nations to have chemical weapons in Syria placed under international control. The announcement of this initiative was followed by the publication in the New York Times of an article by President Vladimir Putin, in which the Russian president addressed the American people on the Syrian conflict and the position of Russia. As indicated in the article, the Russian position includes adherence to the principles of international law and of equality of poor and rich countries (inconceivable by definition), and “keeping the world from sliding into an abyss of chaos.” In both instances the Russian side met with criticism from ruling circles in the US. In the first case, the Russian initiative was said to arouse “serious doubts”, while in the second, it was interpreted as an attempt to undermine the plans of Barack Obama on Syria.

Although the Russian proposal clearly contradicts the plans of the US concerning the conflict, account needs to be taken of the fact that the Russian political elite is not intent on advancing a plan that would limit the role of capital, exclude the military factor from the regulation of the conflict, and help draw global public opinion into resolving this difficult situation. To the contrary, the main goal is to support the balance of forces within the framework of the existing militarised system of international relations. The situation with the US is no different. In calling for military intervention in Syria to stop the spread of chemical weapons, the US is preparing the next turn in the spiral of military interventions, creating the basis for the expansion of capital on the territories devastated by war. In this sense the positions of the elites both in Russia and the US are identical and inwardly indivisible, though superficially counterposed.

Gulnara Aitova

 

4. Samir Amin Addresses an International Seminar of the Moscow Economic Forum

In the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, an international seminar took place on 12 September around the topic: “The New Empire. Seeking Alternatives to the Hegemony of Global Capital”. The main reporters were Samir Amin, a prominent Egyptian scientist and a director of the Third World Forum, and Aleksandr Buzgalin, a professor at Moscow State University and chief editor of the journal Alternatives.

The countries of the periphery, to which Amin considers Russia to belong, are unable to change anything in the global economic system without overcoming the triad of the US, the European Union and Japan. The modern world-system rests comprehensively on the monopoly exercised by the capital of these countries. Amin urged Russia to pursue its development through a “project of sovereignisation”, developing its internal economy despite the policies imposed “from above”.

Professor Buzgalin in his presentation described the “world of simulacra” as a global system of manipulation which at the present stage of development of society is expanding from the economy into culture.

Moscow Economic Forum

More information is available at me-forum.ru.

5. The Forum of Left Forces

In Moscow on 14 September the third Forum of Left Forces took place, with some 300 participants. Among the left-wing social formations taking part were the Inter-Regional Union of Communists, the Left Front movement, the Communists of Russia party, the ROT FRONT party, and the Alternatives movement. Participants in the forum noted the need to organise specific joint actions, including street protests in response to the growing wave of neoliberal reforms in Russia in the fields of education, science, health care and culture. This need was spelt out in a resolution , adopted by the Forum, entitled “On the Strategy of the Forum of Left Forces and on the Tasks of the Left Movement in Russia.”

Social Movement “Alternatives”

 

Translated by Renfrey Clarke