November 28, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10341

Russian Think Tank Report On Hypothetical Futures Camouflages Criticism With Political Correctness

November 28, 2022
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 10341

The newspaper Kommersant summarized a report published by the Progressive Policy Foundation sketching possible futures for Russia following the collapse of the current world order. All four models were politically correct in today's atmosphere. USSR 2.0 and NEP 2.0 were throwbacks to the Soviet era. A Eurasian poll in a multipolar world fits the current orthodoxy as does of course the even vaguer concept of a "Z nation", with the letter Z symbolizing perseverance in the Ukraine war to its victorious conclusion.

Each of the categories, however, has insights that are not flattering to Russia's current leadership. The back to the USSR model evokes the nostalgia for grandiose projects and effective state educational and health systems, but recommends the legalization of industrial espionage to assure Russia's technological sovereignty – an admission that Russia cannot develop the technology on its own. The New Economic Policy will rely on maximizing freedom within the country and creating "progressive patriots", who are free to criticize the state. The greater the external pressure, the greater the need to extend internal freedom. Needless to say, this runs counter to the current trend of tightening the screws as a response to external pressure. The New Economic Policy will also rely on "fair capitalism". If the usual interpretation is a reduction of economic inequality, in the report fairness means the ability of the entrepreneur to enjoy the fruits of his efforts as opposed to the prevailing situation where "as soon as you've done something, it gets taken away, or it’s a situation where the state has developed some industries and does not let anyone enter them."

Russia will find it difficult to compete with China that has already laid claim to a Eurasian model. It needs to develop its own economic development model, but it can build on respect for traditional values. As for the amorphous "Z-nation" concept it starts with demography and proposing real incentives so Russians do not die out (by implication that is what they are currently doing). Another foundation of the "Z-nation" is repatriation of the Russians, who have left and the staunching of the brain drain. The official press has pilloried such people as pampered traitors, but their talents are needed for a semblance of economic independence.

Kommerant's summary of the report follows below:[1]

Oleg Bondarenko (Source:

The Progressive Policy Foundation published a report titled "Images of the Future for Russia: Scenarios, Forks and Estimates," in which four scenarios of development for the country after the "collapse of the world order" were modeled. The experts perceive "USSR 2.0"to be the most likely scenario to be, i.e., an attempt to "reproduce the Soviet experience of existence." Also, Russia can follow a "NEP 2.0" scenario [the first New Economic Policy in the Soviet Union lasted from 1921-1928], become a "Eurasian pole," or focus on the establishment of a "Z nation." Most likely, the country expects to see a mixture of all these "patterns,"t he political analysts anticipate.

Presenting the report at a press conference on November, 18th, Oleg Bondarenko, Director at the Foundation, noted that the discussion about Russia's "pattern of the future" began with an article written by Alexander Kharichev, who heads the Presidential Administration Directorate for Supporting Activities of the State Council, which proposed such concepts as "novel state," "motherland armed with a laser sword," "pirozhok"[small pie] and others.

"Our report is structured around a discussion of the authors," explained Mr. Bondarenko. Among the authors are: Ilya Grashchenkov, President at the Regional Policy Development Center, and Sergey Serebrennikov, Professor at the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.

According to Mr. Serebrennikov, "the most "logical" scenario is "USSR 2.0,"i.e., the state's withdrawal within itself.

However, it’s impossible to create a "completely closed" economic system in the modern world, so we are rather talking about a "self-sufficient" system, such as the American and Chinese systems. According to the economist, this "scenario" can be realized by overcoming the structural imbalances of the Russian economy: by increasing labor productivity and introducing government price regulation. The professor noted that one would have to legalize industrial espionage to achieve technological sovereignty, after all it accounted for the rapid development of the Chinese economy. The scenario assumes global investments in infrastructure, "new cities, roads and ecosystems that will provide employment, population growth and reverse relocation.”

The social outline of the "USSR 2.0"prescribes for a return to the Soviet system of education and medicine, continued Sergei Serebrennikov, "Provided the borders remain closed, to those who want to receive treatment in Europe, it will give impetus to the development of national medicine. Finally, national culture and Russian history must be "pondered, legalized, and recognized," which will lead to the emergence of a "new self-identity."According to the expert, in this case one can expect an appearance of "new Sholokhovs, Mayakovskys, and Eisensteins.”

"NEP 2.0"is speculative to a maximum degree, but the directional opposite to the "new Gosplan,"[of Soviet Union 2.0] said Ilya Grashchenkov, "If under the first case we again will receive drawn up plans of how many tons of galoshes [to be produced] and where to ship [them], then in this case market needs still persist. There will be a choice between galoshes and running shoes.”

The Russian market should be rebuilt taking into account of three components: the fourth industrial revolution, technological and scientific cooperation with countries, for which Russia can become a "beacon," as well as a new attitude towards people. According to the political analyst, "maximizing freedom inside the country"can bring this "scenario" to life, "The more pressure we face from the outside, the more there are attempts to turn us into autarchy, the more important it’s to liberalize the inner space. A class of free people must emerge. We are talking about "progressive patriots," who "don’t hesitate to criticize the state," but at the same time, "put forward solutions and can take fate into their own hands," explained Mr. Grashchenkov.

"An idea of fair capitalism is what’s important in NEP 2.0. You either sink or swim. Developing a technology, [the developer] must understand whether he will become a billionaire, or whether he will spend the rest of his life proposing ideas in a "sharashka"[Stalinist NKVD run research institute], which will never be implemented. Today Russian capitalism demonstrates maximum alienation; as soon as you've done something, it gets taken away, or it’s a situation where the state has developed some industries and does not let anyone enter them," said Ilya Grashchenkov.

The "Eurasian pole" scenario has a disadvantage because this role is "very seriously claimed by China," said Oleg Bondarenko. In order to compete with the latter, "it’s very important to have our own economic development model. Achieving that, our country can become an alternative center, for which a demand exists in various parts of the world. Not everyone happy to see the very same Mickey Mouse with different skin color and eye shape. This "image" is based on the ideology of traditional values that are close to Asia, added the political analyst

"Finally, the most "debatable" scenario: "Z nation," is a variant of "Russian-style nation-building,"continued Oleg Bondarenko. The key here should be played by "a real, rather than declarative, postulation of family values and birthrate incentives.”

"The divorce and abortion rates in our country are the highest in Europe, so we need to start with the beginning, i.e., to establish conditions and atmosphere, so that the Russian people multiply, and do not die out," explained the expert. This "scenario" also suggests the prospect of legalization of civilian gun carry, nationalization of the elites, and "Russian repatriation.”

"Naturally," those who left must be returned, they are people who are able to earn money with intellectual work and invent. But for this we need to establish a cult of labor and honest success, so that the country could assemble its own planes and not only engage in industrial espionage and gray imports,"said Mr. Bondarenko.

However, we shouldn’t assume that any of the presented "scenarios" can be realized in its pure form, stated Oleg Bondarenko. According to him, Russia will face an "eclectic combination" of individual aspects of all these scenarios, each of which may turn out to be relevant at a given moment.


[1], November 21, 2022.

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