Is it not a natural longing of our species to want to be able to express what’s on our minds and in our hearts without fear of censure and reprisal and bodily harm? Why do people like Putin and Lukashenko and Trump keep showing up? Why are there always those who would prefer to silence peoples’ voices, look down on the masses?
From a strongman’s point of view, I assume things are easier that way, at least for a time. The current rumblings in Russia, in response to the detaining and arrest of Alexei Navalny, are evidence that such oppression has a shelf life. According to the NY Times, people are tired of the “stagnant, corruption-plagued political order that Vladimir Putin has presided over for more than two decades.” People grow angry and frustrated and reach a point, I imagine, where they decide things just aren’t working. And they won’t take it anymore.
The tragedy lies in a government’s response to such unrest. There are north of 3000 arrests so far, all across Russia, probably many more to come. Putin will do his utter best to quash the uprising before it gains too much traction. The prospect, though, of him continuing in power until 2036 probably doesn’t appeal to many. Maybe there is a sense of urgency, along with a more basic revulsion directed toward any one person daring to lay claim to such control for so long.
Maybe this is what happens when corruption is so widespread that it is viewed at some level as “normal.” It’s not nor ever will be normal. It is always about a power grab, a power hoard, and money changing hands and greasing palms, all under the guise of some misplaced appeal to stability and preservation, to patriotism and nationalism, to “the way things need to be.” Perhaps it is commentary on a whole system of governance that needs to be more responsive to the needs of the citizenry, that needs to look and function in markedly different ways than it does now.
There is pain involved in such transformation.