Putin and the cult of leadership

The first rationale – forgetfulness of the impact of Soviet centralization – is understandable. Despite left-wing propaganda to the contrary, young people aren’t the best equipped to make policy decisions without historical reference; all too often, their enthusiasm leads them to support dynamic leaders who become monstrosities. The most obvious example comes from the Nazi party: high youth unemployment, anger at the older generation’s supposed surrender in the face of alleged international aggression, and belief in a charismatic leader led to disproportionate youth support. But virtually every radical movement begins as a youth movement.

The second rationale – economic growth – is a function of short timeline as well. High growth rates in Russia over the past decade and a half were largely a result of oil production. But Putin is smart enough to ensure that his government doesn’t run massive deficits or allow runaway inflation. At some point, Putin will have to grow the economy rather than engaging in state-sponsored oligarchy. But that time hasn’t come quite yet.

The third rationale is the most dangerous: romantic nationalism.