The situation in Kazakhstan

The US:

  1. We are not interfering in Kazakhstan. This is the standard Russian playbook of disinformation.
  2. We call on the Kazakh authorities to immediately restore Internet access in the country. (i.e. ensure that the protestors have access to an encrypted communications tool – an essential element in organising a coup)

This is the standard US “playbook”. They are interfering in other countries by foisting values on them which will lead to the country becoming a part of their socio-economic system. At the same time they convince themselves that because their (professed) values are fundamental human values they aren’t actually interfering as such.

I want to add a theoretical point. The big weakness of authoritarian regimes is that they are susceptible to being overturned by popular protest. The problem is that the effect of suppression is often to create a focus point for rebellion. The rigidity creates its own pressure point. The strength of ‘democracies’ is that here power has learned to allow protest and dissidence. In a Western ‘democracy’, such as the UK for example, you can publicly criticise the government, start political parties (the more the merrier in fact), and have street protests, so long as you don’t do anything more than march and shout (quietly). The effect of this allowing of protest is that it flourishes – but also diversifies. Instead of one strong Sunflower of opposition there are countless daisies of opposition. As such power is never seriously challenged – it has diversified and spread amongst the population. You can’t catch it. It is hard to challenge it directly. Indeed power often appears in the apparent form of a progressive political force!

The payoff in this system is you do have to have actual elections and allow the possibility of a change of political direction every 5 years. But the change is always within a manageable band – which doesn’t really cause finance capital any serious problems. In this system the political class from across the spectrum shares the core values of the system – and can bring a sufficient mass of the population with them to keep the whole thing going. This is for various reasons including; what Nietzsche would call the herd instinct, the fact that the media is in the hands of the financial elite, the love of power (which means that politicians sometimes criticise power before they gain office and again when they leave but rarely when they are in it), lethargy of institutions such as political party structures and indeed the fact that this unstable system does generate considerable wealth.

Finance capital and corporate financial power accepts a greater range of potential political configurations in exchange for avoiding the shock of revolution. But none of the available political configurations really threatens finance capital or the corporate system. They slightly widen the choice of possible political configurations available to people while carefully withdrawing the actual decisions (flows of finance) far from this process. The media – owned by finance capital – manages public debate within controlled lines. The politicians ‘debate’ within the set parameters. The media and political classes put on a show for the public to take part in. The acceptable lines of change are thus delimited. When they leave office politicians are often richly rewarded with various corrupt kickbacks speaking engagements and consultancies for their role in this show.

Back to Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is an authoritarian regime. This hasn’t caused the West any great heartache in recent years. Western oil companies have been doing business there quite happily. But now the US is scenting the possibility of a move towards liberalism – and they have a reflex to undermine old-style authoritarian regimes in favour of the global capitalist system. So – they will try and nudge the uprising in Kazakhstan along – with all the usual rhetoric about respect for “human rights” and “media freedom”. No matter how many people die in Almaty in the process.

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer