Nov 6, 2017 | 15:01 GMT Stratfor
In Russia, a Social Contract Built on Bravado
By Ksenia Semenova


bravado :虚勢, 空いばり, (うわべだけの)強がり.A supporter of Russia's Communist Party brandishes a poster bearing infamous Soviet leader Josef Stalin's likeness during a May Day celebration.

A supporter of Russia's Communist Party brandishes a poster bearing infamous Soviet leader Josef Stalin's likeness during a May Day celebration.(KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images) 

brandishes:〈武器など〉を振り回す; 〈物〉を見せびらかす, 誇示する
infamous:the now infamous journalist 今では悪名の高い報道記者.

The understanding of the social contract seems to be shifting around the world. But for Russia, at least, the phenomenon is nothing new. The country has tried any number of variations on the social contract over the more than 1,000 years of its history. Leaders traditionally have resorted to autocratic rule to keep the unwieldy nation together, periodically introducing institutions, such as the secret police forces of Ivan the Terrible and Czar Alexander III, or reforms — like Alexander II's measure to emancipate the serfs — to maintain order. 

resorted:resort to violence 暴力に訴える
unwieldy:〈事柄が〉手に負えない; 〈組織などが〉(大きすぎるなどとして)非効率的な.
serfs:(ヨーロッパ中世の)農奴〘封建社会の一身分; 領主に服従し転住などの自由がなかった〙.

Over the past century, Russia's social contract has endured one experiment after another as the Russian Revolution, the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet system transformed the country. The system has undergone so many permutations that today it is all but obsolete, and no rule is too fundamental to break. 

permutations:並べ替え; 入れ替え; 順序の変更.
all but: The war was all but over. 戦争はほぼ終わった

The Soviet Social(ist) Contract
The past 100 years have been a rollercoaster for Russia. The Bolsheviks came to power championing equality and a better life for workers and peasants. In turn, they expected the support and acquiescence of the Soviet people as they embarked on the economically and politically demanding task of building a new society. Josef Stalin changed the rules when he took control of the country, dispensing almost entirely with personal rights in the name of developing the Soviet Union. 

championing :He championed democracy. 彼は民主主義を唱え闘った.
acquiescence:黙認, 黙従.
dispensing:We cannot dispense with electricity. 我々は電気なしではやっていけない.

After Stalin's death, Nikita Khrushchev offered a new social contract that purported to relax the repressive rule of the previous two decades. The Soviet government gave citizens back some of the rights Stalin had stripped away and pursued policies to increase security, guarantee a basic standard of living for the population and maintain peace in exchange for the public's compliance. 

purported:a video purporting to show a UFO UFOが写っていると称するビデオ.
compliance:言いなりになること, 追従.

Khrushchev's promise of peace was fundamental to the new social contract. As traumatic as Stalin's infamous purges were for the Soviet people, the harrowing events of World War II — in which more than 20 million Soviet soldiers and civilians died — quickly overshadowed them. The memory of the war was still fresh, and it weighed heavily on nearly every family in the Soviet Union. My grandmother would often say, "No matter what, the main thing is to avoid a war." And no matter how many tanks and missiles the Soviet Union produced, its leaders held fast to that conviction, even when the Cold War reached its hottest points.

traumatic:心的外傷を与える, 深い心の傷として残る; ショッキングな.
purges: 粛清.
harrowing:a harrowing experience 悲惨な経験.
overshadowed:〈事件・出来事が〉…に影を投げる; …を暗くする.
hold fast to:〜にしがみつく、〜を堅持する
conviction:strong political [religious] convictions 強い政治[宗教的]信念

The public was well aware of the danger of a nuclear strike. Yet Soviet leaders were cautious to avoid incendiary threats, though a state propagandist might mention that the Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal was deep enough to turn any country into a pile of dust. (Today, by contrast, the threats are more brazen; Dmitri Kiselyov, whom President Vladimir Putin named as head of one of Russia's state-run news agencies, proclaimed on national television in 2014 that his country could turn the United States to "radioactive ash.")

brazen:〈人・行為が〉破廉恥な, 厚かましい
radioactive:radioactive contamination 放射線汚染

A New System Emerges
By the late 1980s, the Soviet government had exhausted its social contract. Mikhail Gorbachev, the final leader of the Soviet Union, introduced the liberalizing policies of perestroika and glasnost in a last-ditch effort to keep the massive state together, but the reforms proved to be too little too late. The Soviet Union collapsed. 

glasnost:(旧ソ連の)グラスノスチ, 情報公開(政策)

The ensuing chaos was as liberating as it was terrifying. In the 1990s, the Russian state had neither the will nor the ability to uphold its previous social contract. The Russian people, meanwhile, felt a growing desire for freedom and economic independence. The 1993 Constitution struck a compromise between the old and new elite, describing Russia as both a liberal and a social state that simultaneously maintained the separation of powers and bestowed its president with practically boundless authority. Two social contracts vied for dominance in the emerging country, one that promised social services in exchange for the public's support and one that offered freedom. 

terrifying:とても怖い, 恐ろしい, ぞっとするような.
boundless:際限のない, 無限の; 広大[莫大(ばくだい)]な.
vied:競う, 張り合う

The Gangster's Rule for Governing
Neither side won. And so, as it entered the 21st century, Russia introduced a new model that would provide its citizens a reliable standard of living so long as they paid their taxes. Professor Alexander Auzan described the setup in an article about social contracts in Russia: 

"Taxes are payment for social goods. But the saying, 'pay taxes and sleep well' is the typical motto of a stationary bandit who understands taxes as rent: You pay us rent and we leave you alone.'" 

bandit:追いはぎ, 強盗; 無法者; 
rent:pay the rent on the apartment アパートの家賃を払う

What Auzan outlines is a gangster's rule, but a rule nonetheless. 

It was snowing. Nonetheless, she went cycling.:雪が降っていた.それでもやはり, 彼女はサイクリングに出かけた.

At some point, people started to ask what their taxes were getting them. The justice and safety they were theoretically paying for, after all, were in practice a privilege of the social and political elite. But for many Russians, even the prospect of security was worth the price, as long as the threat of attacks like the Beslan school siege and the Moscow Metro bombing loomed over the country. 

Skyrocketing oil prices, moreover, gave the government economic leverage over the public: Provided citizens agreed to sign over their political rights to the country's leaders, the administration would guarantee their financial security and prosperity. In this way, Putin's government bought the loyalty and support of the Russian people. 

Since 2008, the situation in Russia has evolved, not only economically but also geopolitically. The same year that the global financial crisis hit, Russia went to war with the neighboring republic of Georgia. The timing was perfect. The United States was preoccupied with its own wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while Europe — dependent as it was on Russian energy exports — wasn't prepared to challenge the country in its traditional sphere of influence. Though the conflict lasted only a matter of days, it was enough to re-establish Russia as a world power. 

evolved:進化する 発達する
sphere of influence:影響の及ぶ範囲、勢力範囲

When the country, emboldened by its success in Georgia, annexed Crimea a few years later, its actions came as a shock to the rest of the world. Even so, the move was a logical next step in Russia's brash new strategy for dealing with the international system. The country's newfound power was intoxicating for its leaders. 

intoxicating:酔わせる; 夢中にさせる.

Because We Can
For the Russian people, the idea of belonging to a great power was equally intoxicating. By standing up to the West, Putin framed himself as the only world leader who would dare to challenge the United States' ascendancy. He even gained the respect of some Western libertarians, who saw him as a brave individual, unafraid to buck the global economic system, its overregulated banks and its greedy governments, regardless of the authoritarian measures he favored at home. Defying the global trends toward tolerance, human rights — including rights for women and members of the LGBTQ community — and freedom of expression, Russian authorities have instead played by their own rules, sanctions and international opinion be damned. 

ascendancy:優位[勢], 支配(権)
libertarians:自由至上主義者. 自由意志の擁護者.
buck:buck the system [trend] 制度[流行]に逆らう.
Defying:defy the laws 法律を無視する.
LGBTQ:lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer(主に男の同性愛者.) (or questioning).
damned:Costs are damned. 費用はいくらかかろうと問題ではない.

The political firestorm surrounding Russia's alleged electoral meddling has only reinforced this strategy by confirming the country's status as a dominant power and fueling the administration's machismo. For years, the Russian government and its propaganda machine have worked to foster among their public a hatred and aggression toward the rest of the world. Having acted out that hostility on the international stage, the Putin administration now can sit back and watch the United States rage. 

meddling:meddle in the internal affairs of another country ほかの国の内政に干渉する.
sit back:傍観する
rage:shake [tremble, quiver] with rage 怒りで震える.

At some point, however, bravado may not be enough to ensure the Russian public's continued loyalty, and tax payments. A survey from independent pollster the Levada Center conducted in April revealed that 53 percent of respondents claimed to be fulfilling their obligations to the state, compared with 39 percent in 2001. But in a poll conducted the previous month, 31 percent of respondents said they received so little from the state that they felt they owed it nothing, and 32 percent said they could demand much more. 

Putin's administration has demonstrated that the social contract no longer serves as the basis of a government's legitimacy. (Furthermore, the reconsideration of social contracts around the world suggests that Russia's disrespect for long-standing rules and conventions may be spreading like a virus.) A growing number of Russians are catching on to the one-sidedness of the current social contract under which they pay into a system that gives them little or nothing in return. 

And though Putin's macroeconomic policies have managed to keep economic disaster at bay despite the burden of sanctions, low oil prices and capital flight, his administration hasn't undertaken the structural reforms necessary to sustain the country in the long run. Gone are the days when the government could build a social contract on the promise of prosperity.

keep ~ at bay:〜を寄せ付けない

Still, as long as state-run outlets dominate the media, as long as Russia opposes the United States and decries the Western notion of tolerance, and as long as Russians can cover their expenses with risky but readily available microloans, the arrangement will endure. Opinion polls suggest that most Russians are delighted their country and their president are exerting international influence. The government and state-run media will continue to seize on Russia's national pride and geopolitical bluster — along with the discord plaguing Western powers such as the United Kingdom, European Union and United States — as next year's presidential election approaches. 

micro credit loan:マイクロクレジット融資◆主に発展途上国の小規模事業者に低金利で少額の資金を貸すこと。
delighted:Matthew was delighted with his birthday present. マシューは誕生日プレゼントをもらってすごく喜んだ
exerting:exert strength 力をふるう[出す].
bluster:どなりちらすこと; 空いばり.
plaguing:を困らせる, 閉口させる



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