Category Archives: Film

Russia vs. Citizens United – corruption vs. supercorruption

My paper Dagens Nyheter (Daily News) has an editorial writer who is specialized in writing childish thinking in a causal and appealing style. Now he recently went to the cinema to watch the much praised Russian film Leviathan. His mission was thus to concoct an editorial piece combining his artistic impressions with the more notorious critique of Russian command politics and corruption.

The film obviously draws attention to corruption on the daily basis in Russia. According to my reporter the main character in the story has a dispute with a mayor over some property, and since his adversary has the justice apparatus in his hand the hero is rejected with his complaints everywhere. It seems like a traditional Kafka scenario. This is naturally not very gratifying for Russia, so my informer – the editorial writer – has to show how the officials have tried to hamper the movie in different ways.

It turned out not to be very easy. The film maker Andrey Zvyagintsev was already famous for earlier films, such as his debut The Return, which won a number of awards at the Venice Film Festival in 2003, among numerous other honors. Thus Zvyagintsev was granted money by the Russian Ministry of Culture to make Leviathan. But this, says my informer, was before 2012 which Kremlinologists hold as an important year in Russian cultural decline. Thus it’s in the monolithic system’s expected spirit that the minister himself has criticized Leviathan for not having real heroes and for spitting at Russian politicians.

Then, on the other hand again, this despicable nomenklatura system nevertheless selected the film to represent Russia at the Academy Awards. As a reader one may be somewhat puzzled by the contradictory signals here. But that’s unnecessary, my informer is a master of his art and easily sort things out: We are just witnessing the typical Russian capriciousness! The art of Tautology is namely also on his repertoire, in this case to express a conclusion that becomes true under every possible circumstance.

There was probably very little corruption in Russia before 1990. Then in the following decade the country was completely devastated by the roller coaster called capitalism. The breakdown of social cohesion that followed unsurprisingly prepared the ground for everyday corruption, in the beginning as a means of mere survival. Russia is a country struggling its way up from the chaos it was dumped into in the 1990s. Since Vladimir Putin marked the turning point we may ask ourselves if our hatred of him means that we had preferred a Russia remaining in the third world.

Small scale corruption is a dear subject in my paper. It could of course be a coincidence that such fraud provides the convenient weapons to use against countries and political systems we find most interesting to attack. Anyway, certain kind of corruption, incredibly worse, is typically and almost totally ignored.

I made a search in Dagens Nyheter’s online archive for the concept “Citizens United”, only to find just a couple of mentions and only one short description of that fundamental legitimizing of corruption on a gigantic scale. In Russia one can buy mayors and officers, in USA the already extremely powerful ultra rich and the corporations can buy the entire political monitoring system all the way to the very top. Alas, to survive morally in the West requires a well developed ability to become a hypocrite, that’s for sure.

Sweden is not at all innocent in these respects, even if the amounts of money are smaller. We were for many years criticized by international organizations for having secret lists of contributors to the political parties. Now some kind of compromise has been reached and the debate is silenced. But following the usual pattern we could expect to have the US system of legalized corruption on a large scale here in a few decades. Or – preferably – the US system has come to such an extreme that something radical has to be done there. Those who live will see.