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Tony Wood on NovaraFM

From the continuities with Yeltsin’s disaster capitalism, the rise of the oligarchs to Putin’s ‘vertical of power’ in the post-Soviet state – what future is possible in Russia?

Verso Books12 December 2018

Tony Wood on NovaraFM

Tony Wood recently joined James Butler to discuss his new book, Russia Without Putin. Listen to the full podcast here.

James Butler: I am astonished by the utterly feverish conspiracy theories that circulate… where do those conspiracy theories come from? Is there any base to them, anything substantial at all? Why does it animate the liberals so much?

Tony Wood: In a certain sense I find this very depressing but in another I find it quite encouraging, in that I think it’s a sign of the total breakdown in the liberal consensus and the liberal ideological stranglehold on the interpretation of reality. One of the very striking things about this is that within the hysteria about Russian meddling – I think part of this is also just the experience of another country even attempting to meddle in your affairs is something new for most Americans, meanwhile in Latin America everyone is having a dark laugh about this – one of the most striking things is that even in the interminable exposes on Russian meddling, every story mentions that they can't prove any of this. And now you’re at a point where these liberal ideologues concede that Hillary maybe should have visited Wisconsin and that she ran a terrible campaign, but they still maintain that “Russia did it.” I think future generations will look back on this as great example of the deformation of bourgeois science by its own ideological commitments. What’s been most striking is that the whole demonization of Russia is very abstract. You could take out the word Russia and put in any other cartoon villain and it would function in the same way. It’s a floating signifier of liberal discourse and panic that has very little to do with actual Russia. In some ways, Putin is the ideal incarnation of this – if he weren’t president they would have a real problem sustaining this.

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Russia without Putin
It is impossible to think of Russia today without thinking of Vladimir Putin. More than any other major national leader, he personifies his country in the eyes of the outside world, and dominates W...

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