autophagy: self-digestion; eating oneself
autophagy: self-digestion; eating oneself
Corrupt institutions and governments divert resources away from productive projects and enterprises, toward powerful insiders in government, and well-connected family, business, and criminal interests. This results in a “hollowing out” of the competence and productivity of such institutions and governments.
When a corrupt institution or government is starved of its accustomed level of income, its natural level of autophagy is ratcheted upward significantly. In many nations of the former USSR, this autophagic hollowing is proceeding on many levels: demographic, economic, infrastructural, industrial, etc.
We will examine Russia as the most salient example of the process that is sweeping across nations of the former USSR:
Education and Health Care in Collapse
… Russia’s low standing in [the rankings] is warranted – … the result of chronic underinvestment over decades, a dysfunctional system for encouraging academic talent and a complacent reliance on past Soviet glories in science.
“Russian universities are bit like collapsed stars – they are still giving off light, but what produced that light disappeared many years ago,” says the vice-rector at one Russian university, who asks not to be identified.
Standard of living in Russia likely to decline for decades longer (if Russia still exists)
Brain Drain Severe Even in Critical Military Areas
… most of the more talented people in defense industries found better paying jobs in the commercial sector or overseas. No solution to this has been found, especially not with Russia suffering from an economic recession and pervasive corruption. Despite the fact that the government has devoted a lot more money and management talent (also in short supply) to nukes, ballistic missiles and nuclear subs, the problems and delays persist. __ Russia’s Capitalist Curse
The construction [of the Vostochnoy cosmodrome] turned into a public relations nightmare and a symbol of Russia’s post-Soviet space failures caused in part by brain drain, erosion of scientific and technological standards and corruption.
… Since 2010, [Russia] has lost dozens of domestically manufactured and foreign-made commercial satellites worth hundreds of millions of dollars and a cargo ship in a series of malfunctions and crashes. Kliper, a reusable spacecraft for up to six cosmonauts, has been grounded. Phobos-Grunt, an automatic research station designed to deliver samples from the Martian moon Phobos, failed to leave Earth’s orbit in 2011 and burned down a year later.
Russia Cannot Afford Critical Reforms
Russia’s productivity has lagged far behind the global average.
Russia’s state budget has been hit hard in 2016 because of the drastic fall in revenue primarily brought on by low energy prices. For more than a decade, Russian leaders have talked about diversifying the economy, and reducing the country’s dependence on energy export revenue, but they have yet to turn words into action. __ Perfect Russian Storm
Espionage, Propaganda, and Cyber-Crime are Russia’s Most Productive Enterprises
Moscow’s primary cyber war and spying agency is the Federal Security Service, known as FSB, that most closely resembles its Soviet predecessor agency, the KGB. The SVB foreign spy agency, along with the GRU military intelligence service, are the other two main actors behind aggressive covert and clandestine cyber warfare activities and intelligence gathering.
“The Russians are so good we don’t usually see them,” said James Lewis, a cyber expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Lewis noted that some of the Russian criminal groups are so good at cyber theft they tend to have more advanced capabilities than most governments.
… Security researchers about 18 months ago found a surprising amount of prepositioned malware inside U.S. industrial control networks that was linked to Russian hackers. “As in real life, the Russians like to use puppets or cut-outs in their state activities,” one researcher said.
__ Bill Gertz
Russia’s espionage, propaganda, and cyber-crime / cyber-war divisions are the best funded and probably least corrupt of the Kremlin’s many arms. This makes them more effective than almost all other parts of the Russian government and Russian society — except for the Russian mafia. It is almost impossible to distinguish the Russian government from the Russian mafia in many areas of criminal and malicious activity around the world.
Without Customary Level of Funding, Corrupt Institutions Eat Themselves
Many signs point toward an upcoming purge in the upper ranks of the Kremlin, and in the neo-oligarchy. This will be necessary in order to remove several of the hungry mouths of the inner circle — who have grown too hungry and influential for the realities of today’s shrinking budgetary pie. The creation of the new National Guard, answerable directly (and exclusively) to Putin is a useful hint to the shape of things to come.
“The appearance of a superpower agency can be considered as the official recognition of the significance of a new threat — the threat of the internal enemy,” journalists Maria Zheleznova and Andrei Sinitsyn wrote for the Vedomosti newspaper.
Here is part of the reason why the Kremlin is being forced to downscale in every area except propaganda, expionage, and cyber mischief. (via The Arts Mechanical)
Corruption and its consequent inefficiencies and waste, amount to a large part of the rest of the reason for decline.
Russia is Changing from the Inside: It Cannot Help It
When a corrupt state is starved of its normal allotment of rents and spoils, instability at the highest levels occurs — with a vicious infighting over the shrinking amount of unearned booty taking place.
Putin means to be the last man standing, and the executor of the coming purge. More, he is becoming the ultimate vulture standing over the carcass of the largest member of the former USSR. The maggots you see are equal parts Putin-controlled, and criminal maggots that are Putin-enabled and Putin-licensed. In exchange for a fee, and for obeisance.
The Same Processes are Taking Place in Much of the Rest of the Former USSR
The USSR corrupted all of the republics under it. It will take generations to repair the damage to human resources, physical resources, and economic / infrastructure resources. At least some of the former republics are making attempts to repair the damage. Russia has chosen the opposite path — the path of almost total corruption and autophagy.
Time for concerned Russians to re-locate? Something for them to consider.
More: Insight into the mechanisms of autophagy in former USSR