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President Vladimir Putin's domestic policies were usually ascribed to one or another group of advisers within the corridors of power. Within Vladimir Putin's administration there were three main factions vying for power: the technocrats, the liberals, and the siloviki. Of the three groups the siloviki was the most powerful during the Putin administration. In the political sphere, Putin's moves toward centralizing authority and cracking down on opposition found support among the military, secret services and other so-called power ministries - the siloviki.

The Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, as of June 2008 was the de facto leader of the technocratic party. While working earlier inside the Kremlin, Medvedev had aligned himself with a powerful clan often described as the St. Petersburg lawyers or technocrats. This group was thought to have a more liberal view on the state's role in the economy, foreign policy and civil liberties than the other major Kremlin clan, the siloviki, which consists of hawkish defense and security service officials. In the Kremlin administration, Medvedev oversaw judicial reforms that he said would make the courts more transparent and open to ordinary people. But in February 2005, when the court system was under fierce fire at the height of the Yukos affair, Medvedev announced that his reform was complete and the courts were finally "genuinely independent."

The technocrats follow an age-old Russian pattern: government is good, the people are not. This stems from a conviction that all that Russia needs is money, clever managers and modern technology.The technocrats have close ties with the state government, the global economy and new technologies, and are one of the most active social groups in Russia. Market reform was traced to the recommendations of the distinctive so-called St. Petersburg group of technocrats who were not shy about making their positions known.

The idea of a "new class" was a prominent feature of the social sciences from their inception. The idea was that that knowledge and education constituted a form of social power equivalent to money, capital or political influence. Thus, at least some groups of the educated public (variously though to include intellectuals, managers, technocrats, professionals, bureaucrats) were believed to constitute a separate social class with its own interests, power aspirations and projects.

In the concluding chapter of their study entitled, The Modern Corporation and-private Property, published in 1932, Professors Berle and Means stated concluded that, "It is conceivable, -- indeed it seems almost essential if the corporate system is to survive, -- that the 'control' of the great corporations should develop into a purely neutral technocracy, balancing a variety of claims by various groups in the community and assigning to each, a portion of the income stream on the basis of public policy rather than private cupidity."

Technocracy as a political movement held that all politics and all economic arrangements based on the "Price System" (i.e., based on traditional economic theory) were antiquated and that the only hope of building a successful modern world was to let engineers and other technology experts run the country on engineering principles. The Technocrats believed that the solution to all problems of economic security were the same, the rigorous application of engineering principles.

Functionalist theorists advocate technocracy as the means for overcoming the conflicts inherent in traditional political processes. Technocrats were held to use analytic-technocratic intraorganizational conflict management methods typically associated with professionals, in contrast to politicians managing public-oriented conflict, who deviate from professional opinions and engage in the bargaining, lobbying, and compromising behavior typical of the political-bargaining approach. Japanese technocracy produced radios, German technocracy produced automobiles, and American technocracy put men on the moon, not once, but several times and safely home again.

A fundamental change in the ulterior makeup of American society and government survived Apollo, some would say. Historian Walter McDougall argued in The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age, that the launch of Sputnik in 1957 gave birth to a state of "perpetual technological revolution" through technocracy, which McDougall defined as "the institutionalization of technological change for state purposes, that is, the state-funded and -managed R&D explosion of our time." Once institutionalized, technocracy would not go away; this was McDougall's message. He argued that the Soviet Union was the world's first technocracy, and it would stay in power even if that required murderous purges. In this, as in many things, McDougall was wrong. The United States was the world's second technocracy, created by Sputnik, and although not a brutal oppressor like Soviet militaristic totalitarianism, McDougall predicted that America's civilian technocracy would stay in power through the federal bureaucracy and military-industrial complex [possibly McDougall was not always wrong].

During the 1990s, "Yeltsin used only one model of overcoming a crisis - bringing onto the stage new, inexperienced and therefore at least temporarily obedient players and then turning their age (i.e., their youth) into an independent political factor. He introduced the Gaidar-Burbulis team (1991), Chubais-Nemtsov team(1997), and then finally the Kiriyenko government (1998). But these appeals to technocrats not only failed to stabilize the system, they made it more vulnerable, knocking out from underneath it even those weak supports that it had. In any case, the arrival of the technocrats always raised the political tension. But it was even more important that such appeals to the technocrats, who came to power with reformist inclinations and at the same time supported the impulse of an ineffective system, also discredited the idea of reform." [SOURCE]

The Putin government's early economic bloc of technocrats -- including Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin and Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref -- were among the groups that played a part in foreign policy in pressing for Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization. Big business, especially exporting firms such as gas giant Gazprom and oil major LUKoil, also had a role in pushing these interests.

Technocratic policies exclude ordinary citizens from the exercise of power. Their political characteristics are incompatible with the principles of democratic governance. President Vladimir Putin turned local government reform into one of the central elements of his institutional and economic reforms. These initiatives were inextricably linked with the broader transformation of center-region relations under Putin, and with the political, rather than purely "administrative" or "technocratic" concerns, behind them, through which the federal government gained extensive power and the regions lost autonomy. The main players in the reform process were a combination of presidential administration and federal ministry technocrats and regional politicians. Neither camp was particularly concerned with democracy. The technocrats were preoccupied with corporate-style efficiency, top down lines of accountability and control, while the regional politicians focused on consolidating their own power at the expense of local actors.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:23:22 ZULU