Virtual Politics: Faking Democracy in the Post-Soviet World

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Yale University Press, 2005 M01 1 - 332 pages
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States like Russia and Ukraine may not have gone back to totalitarianism or the traditional authoritarian formula of stuffing the ballot box, cowing the population and imprisoning the opposition - or not obviously. But a whole industry of 'political technology' has developed instead, with shadowy private firms and government 'fixers' on lucrative contracts dedicated to the black arts of organizing electoral success. This book uncovers the sophisticated techniques of the 'virtual' political system used to legitimize post-Soviet regimes; entire fake parties, phantom political rivals and 'scarecrow' opponents. And it exposes the paramount role of the mass media in projecting these creations and in falsifying the entire political process. Wilson argues that it is not primarily economic problems that have made it so difficult to develop meaningful democracy in the former Soviet world. Although the West also has its 'spin doctors', dirty tricks, and aggressive ad campaigns, it is the unique post-Bolshevik culture of 'political technology' that is the main obstacle to better governance in the region, to real popular participation in public affairs, and to the modernization of the political economy in the longer term.

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Active Measures A Russian Tradition
Politic as Virtuality in the PostSoviet World
The Political Technologist Machiavelli as Corporate Adviser
Administrative Resources
Politics as Theatre Disguising the State Holding Company
How Many Towers in the Kremlin? The ManyLayered Pie
Dishing the Opposition
Inventing the Opposition Kremlin Parties
Inventing the Opposition Virtual Communists

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About the author (2005)

Andrew Wilson is senior lecturer in Ukrainian studies at the School of Slavonic & East European Studies, University of London. He is the author of The Ukrainians, published by Yale University Press.

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