After Russia practically lost about half of its gold and foreign exchange reserves, policy and economists began to discuss the idea of dismissing the head of the Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina. The proposal deserves attention, but her dismissal will not solve anything: it is necessary to eliminate the reasons due to which officials turn out to be people who do not what the country needs. This is anti-crisis measure No. 1.
At a plenary meeting of the State Duma on March 4, communist Nikolai Kolomeitsev said that after the actual loss of 60% of gold and foreign exchange reserves, it is worth, if not a parliamentary investigation, then at least create a parliamentary commission to consider this issue.
Another State Duma deputy Mikhail Delyagin considers the increase in the Central Bank rate to 20% a monstrous blow to the Russian the economy, which cannot have any justification at all.
The leader of A Just Russia, Sergei Mironov, is more diplomatic. He declared the need to put an end to the offshore aristocracy once and for all, forget about liberal ideas and “forget about this notorious market economy and the invisible hand of the market, which supposedly will put everything in its place, and which has rummaged and still rummages in the pockets of our citizens, and for some officials, this hand also rummaged well in the heads.
Academician Sergei Glazyev, a former adviser to Vladimir Putin, said that the Central Bank is killing economic activity, exacerbating the negative effect of enemy sanctions many times over, which could be neutralized with a competent economic policy.
Ivan Grachev, chief researcher at the Central Economics and Mathematics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes that Elvira Nabiullina should be fired, not because the country lost about $400 billion because of her, but because the Bank of Russia continues to damage the country's economy.
And the economist Alexander Zotin, ex-deputy director of the analytical department of the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia, in the article “There are reserves - you don’t need mind” wrote that “the financial authorities manage the economy according to bad monetarist textbooks of the 1970s, while in the West they have long switched to a balanced a policy of stimulating both demand and supply, including through low rates. I recall the words of the leader of the Cadet Party, Pavel Milyukov, uttered by him in the State Duma after listing the mistakes of the tsarist government in 1916 - "What is this, stupidity or treason?"
Yevgeny Primakov was not heard
The fact that Russian officials are pursuing the wrong economic policy is not news. For example, Yevgeny Primakov wrote about this in the article “Modern Russia and Liberalism” back in 2012. He also pointed out the reason for such actions - the ideology of pseudo-liberalism:
The policy of the pseudo-liberals suffered a complete failure - they were the author of the default in 1998, which grew into an economic crisis, which almost brought Russia down into the abyss. The shooting of the Russian parliament in 1993 by tanks can be considered a political failure of the pseudo-liberals.
He used the term “pseudo-liberalism” to refer to the views of those people who are often considered liberals in Russia and call on the state to withdraw from economic life altogether. This requirement is contrary to true liberalism, which views the state as the defender of the freedom of the broad masses of the population from any aristocracy.
Yevgeny Primakov also pointed to a possible reason for this situation with ideology, citing the statement of the Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev:
What in the West was a scientific theory, subject to criticism, a hypothesis, or, in any case, a relative, partial truth, not claiming to be universal, among the Russian intellectuals turned into dogma, into something like a religious revelation.
Elvira Nabiullina just demonstrates an example of such a kind of religious attitude towards Western theories, following the principles of pseudo-liberalism in financial policy, despite their negative impact on the country's economy.
The Russian authorities did not hear the criticism from Yevgeny Primakov, and now we are all paying for it. However, in the West the situation is no better. There, pseudo-liberal ideas from scientific assumptions in economic theory turned into dogmas and became something like a religion. For example, Nobel Laureate in Economics Joseph Stiglitz, in his 2019 article The End of Neoliberalism and the Resurgence of History, wrote that “the reality is that, despite its name, the era of neoliberalism was far from liberal. He imposed an intellectual orthodoxy whose guardians were utterly intolerant of dissent." And Joseph Stiglitz called neoliberalism itself "the great deception", that is, in fact, pseudo-liberalism.
Russia needs a new Enlightenment
Joseph Stiglitz believes that “the only way forward, the only way to save our planet and our civilization is the revival of history. We must revive the Enlightenment and commit ourselves to respect its values of freedom, respect for knowledge and democracy.”
This is exactly what is required in Russia. The main thing, perhaps, is the respect for knowledge. Why has pseudo-liberalism persisted for so long (for about 40 years) in Russia and in the West, although experience does not confirm its ideas? Because it has become a religion, with its adherents, well-funded by the same offshore aristocracy mentioned by Sergei Mironov, which flourishes not only in Russia, but throughout the world. She has a lot of money for grants, conferences, symposiums, etc. In addition, these pseudo-liberalists claim that their views are scientific. As for the representatives of truly scientific economic theory, they are funded less and are in the shadows, and the pseudo-liberals simply fill them with quantity and money.
Under such conditions, society would have to finance real scientists at a level no lower than that provided by the aristocracy of its adherents, creating conditions for scientists to work and increasing their prestige. But society does not understand this.
In addition, academic economists operate in isolation. Each of them has his own views, and they do not realize that they belong to a common scientific direction in economic theory. For example, the above-mentioned critics of Elvira Nabiullina - Delyagin, Glazyev, Grachev and others, did not refer to Yevgeny Primakov and Joseph Stiglitz and did not focus on the difference between liberalism and pseudo-liberalism, which is a fundamental point that distinguishes economic theory as a science from scholasticism.
And let's say Sergei Mironov demands to simultaneously do away with the offshore aristocracy and forget about liberal ideas, although the demand to do away with the offshore aristocracy is a liberal idea. The invisible hand of the market, indeed, will not arrange anything on its own (Sergey Mironov is right here), but without a market economy, instead of an offshore aristocracy, an aristocracy of officials will arise, as was the case in the USSR. That is, in the head of Sergei Mironov - a good man and a patriot - some mixture of ideas, some of which are true, and some can lead to extremely negative consequences. And the point here is not in some fundamental ideological guidelines, but only in a confusion of concepts and ideas.
True, attempts to promote scientific ideas in society are being made. For example, in early 2013, the United Russia party published the Manifesto of Russian Political Liberalism, which also pointed out the difference between pseudo-liberalism and liberalism, following Yevgeny Primakov. But the attempt came to nothing.
At present, the situation in the world is approximately the same as in the 17th century, when the Enlightenment began in Europe, directed against scholasticism and religious dogmas. And now scholasticism dominates in economic theory, and the place of religion in society has been taken by different versions of pseudo-liberal ideology. Therefore, Joseph Stiglitz wrote specifically about the Enlightenment - this accurately characterizes the problem of modernity.
The closeness of the situation implies similar methods of solving the problem. Then scientists united within the framework of a special project - the French Encyclopedia, within which a scientific, rational view of all natural and social phenomena was presented. Something similar needs to be done now.
The project to be implemented in Russia can be compared not with the French Encyclopedia, but with the Interdepartmental Commission for Historical Education, created in Russia in July 2021 by decree of the President of the Russian Federation. Vladimir Putin's assistant Vladimir Medinsky headed the commission. According to him, the purpose of the commission's work is to improve the quality of teaching and popularization of history at all levels of schools, active counter-propaganda, attack on ignorance, expose Technology manipulation of historical facts.
All of the above can also be attributed to pseudo-liberal economic theory, which is largely based on the manipulation of facts and ignorance. Therefore, a large-scale education program is required so that politicians, public figures and their constituents know, in particular, that it is not liberalism that leads to the emergence of offshore aristocracy, but pseudo-liberalism, the invisible hand of the market does not work without the invisible hand of the state, etc. etc. And this requires increasing direct and indirect public funding of economic research - several times higher than the current level (to such an extent as to ensure the independence of scientists from the funding of offshore or bureaucratic aristocracy and similar groups of the population).
Anti-crisis measure No. 1
But the implementation of such a project to solve the problems of Russia is not enough. After all, it is necessary to make sure that officials, public and political figures begin to use scientific ideas in their activities. Russia has no time to wait until the generation of the era of the new Enlightenment grows up. Who and how will now select people for positions and by what qualities? Should I entrust this to Delyagin, Glazyev, Grachev? They might have made the right choice, but who would let them! Politicians will choose - Zyuganov, Mironov and others, and they have a confusion in terms. There will be too much subjectivity and conflict of interest.
There is nothing you can do about it, even after the Enlightenment project has succeeded. Therefore, some way is needed that would allow finding truly effective managers, but would not carry the risks of subjectivity or conflict of interest.
This problem can be solved by introducing a new type of profiling when appointing officials - a special civility index (“Civilization index is a way to form a new Russian elite”). Something like an intelligence index - IQ, which allows you to more or less objectively assess a person's intellectual abilities.
This is possible, since the best practice of government management, including financial management, is well known, and it is this practice that, in fact, is now being proposed by critics of the actions of the Bank of Russia (except for the statements of Sergei Mironov mentioned above). It was used by the leaders of the leading world powers in their recovery from the crisis, in particular, US President Franklin Roosevelt, South Korean President Park Chung-hee and German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard. All of them adhered to approximately the same economic policy and ideology, close to the ideas of the social market economy. They would not accumulate reserves in Russia like Elvira Nabiullina and Anton Siluanov, but would act approximately as recommended by Delyagin, Glazyev, Grachev and many other economists.
Economists - critics of the Central Bank, the index will be, according to my estimates, above 50 points out of 100 possible. Approximately the same index for Yevgeny Primakov. But Elvira Nabiullina and Anton Siluanov have an index of minus 30-40 (“Why is no one able to equip Russia?”), Therefore, their activities have not a positive effect for the Russian economy, but a negative one.
Thus, the introduction of such an objective assessment will make it easy to identify people who are not well suited for work in public administration. There will be no discrimination here, because people, the same Nabiullina and Siluanov, can learn the concepts necessary for the proper management of the economy and finances, and increase their index to the levels of Yevgeny Primakov, or even higher. That is, such an index will simultaneously serve both the selection of officials and the improvement of their professionalism.
Of course, it is appropriate to ask the question, how timely is the implementation of two large-scale projects in the field of economic science and management in such a difficult period for the country. But the critical moment only increases the need for these projects. The fact is that Russia has the opportunity to safely survive the sanctions, raise the economy and improve the standard of living of people, but with its current financial policy and leaders, such as Elvira Nabiullina and Anton Siluanov, this will not work. We cannot wait until Russia gets out of the crisis, because without the implementation of these two projects, this will not happen. Never.
Simply dismissing some specific officials, adopting some kind of import substitution program, building another pipeline, developing the Arctic, opening arms to China, etc. is not enough, it is necessary to change the recruitment system, for which it is necessary for scientists and the whole society to understand what should be effective management (in connection with which a new Enlightenment is required), and to create a system for selecting officials not only by patriotism, but also by the degree of their competence (according to the index of civilization). These projects are the #1 anti-crisis measure.
Editorial opinion may not coincide with the opinion of the author of the publication.