The rise of Ruslan Khasbulatov to the top of the Russian authorities was swift, but did not last long. In the early 1990s, the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Russia was part of if not the top three, then surely in the top five most influential figures in the country. But then, turning from the faithful supporter of the first President of Russia Boris Yeltsin in his ardent opponent, was forced to end his political career. Then Khasbulatov returned to the bosom of home Economics, becoming in 1994 the head of the Department of world economy of REU named after G. V. Plekhanov. In this post, being an active teacher, scholar, author of books and monographs, he is today, meeting its 75th anniversary. We therefore considered it right to converse with a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences Ruslan Khasbulatov not about politics a quarter century ago, but about the economy of today.
photo: Alexander Astafyev
Ruslan Khasbulatov, a quarter of a century ago, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation…
— The government submitted to the state Duma a budget for 2018-2020, which has passed two readings and, apparently, will soon be finally adopted. If we consider the state budget an expression of the priorities of the state, as the authorities put them?
— Russia is a unique country in terms of social vulnerability and insecurity. Our state is bad for the person, so it was under socialism, and now even worse. This is reflected in the shamefully low wage Fund in Russia it comprises about 21% of GDP. For comparison: in the USA, which we are constantly criticized, payroll goes from 45 to 70% of national income, as in all European countries, even the poorest. In Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, this figure is two times more than us. Moreover, it is higher in most of Asia and half of Africa. This indicates an excessively high degree of exploitation of labor, and when the authorities talk about low productivity in the country, put themselves in a ridiculous situation: with such salaries otherwise be just not. Hence another problem: a deep social inequality and injustice, to which we came from almost an equal society under socialism. That the new budget provided for a reduction in social spending — education, medicine, science, while in other countries, on the contrary, the government is trying as much as possible to Fund these areas. In short, with the budget we have done irrational things.
— Budget — a huge Tome. What, in your opinion, is it most important?
— The main problem — a little attention to the human factor: life conditions, quality of housing (millions of stray people), problems with health and education, low pay for all categories of workers, including teachers, professors, doctors. In General, blatant social injustice. It’s hard to believe that the social state. I remember a time when we looked upon the Chinese with compassion because of their low standard of living, and now they look down on us, and the wages of highly skilled workers in China, for example, professors and scientists — in 2-3 times above, than at us. Even simple industrial workers, whose labour was considered cheap, there are now more than we do. Therefore, the best shots are leaving Russia, although the authorities claim that the flow of immigrants ceased. Abroad for our physicists, mathematicians, engineers, programmers, doctors really appreciate, but here you can’t make your mind up, and not steal everything you want. So I’m sure that the inevitable new social revolution that will lead to the establishment of socialism in a purified form, and the current government is their lack of understanding creates all conditions for this. As Karl Marx said, revolution is the midwife of history, which sweeps away all barriers in society and for some time solves the contradiction. All curse the revolution, declare war, and create the conditions for it.
photo: Alexander Chernushenko
…and today in his office in REU them. Plekhanov.
The budgeted decrease in oil revenues in favor of other industries. Whether really Russia off in the near future the oil needle, if the business climate in the country leaves much to be desired?
— I am totally against the term “oil needle”: this is the greatest good that we have oil revenues. By the way, if in Gorbachev”s time, oil prices were at least $20-30, the Soviet Union disintegrated. The main reason for the collapse in what was an acute shortage of resources and the balance of payments deficit, when a barrel of oil cost $8. And who came to power Putin is just a happy Governor since the end of may 1999, began a process of rising oil prices on world markets, and 15 years in the country flowed a powerful stream of petrodollars. Authorities didn’t know where to put them, and in the end poorly ordered these funds. Of the $3.5 trillion obtained in the “fat” years, for government spending, according to scientists and experts, spent $1.5 billion, and what happened to the other $2 trillion is an open question.
But in recent years there is a downward trend in oil prices. The reason the development of alternative energy, the increased production of shale oil and other factors. Due to what we in the future will replenish the country’s budget, if the “greatest good”, as you put it, much cheaper?
— Declaration of purpose for the development of other industries was correct, but while things are moving very slowly. For example, we took a course on the digital economy — is also correct, but the authorities, apparently, got the impression that the digital economy will be able to replace the roads in Russia, the lack of high-tech machinery, machines, shortage of housing. But the digital economy is not a panacea for all problems, but only a transfer of numbers (machine language) of those economic realities that exist, the replacement of manual labor to automated, robotics. And it is not always accompanied by a loss of jobs — on the contrary, need highly qualified specialists, and it is therefore necessary investments in science and education (human factor). And we have in these areas, as in many others, just a top-down instructions, people engaged in intellectual work, and write reports and have to survive in the grip of the bureaucratic machine. Even under socialism, there was much less bureaucracy. For example, now talking about robotics. And who will create this branch? Imagine how many excellent engineers and scientists it needs. And cook them? I’m not sure. I am reminded of a story told by the famous Soviet intelligence agent who infiltrated the top of British intelligence, Kim Philby. He said that the biggest achievement as a Soviet spy considers the establishment of the British intelligence services of a large number of statements. As a result, the scouts, instead of going through its direct activities and the security of the country and the West, wrote endless, useless reports.
— Problems of the Russian economy add-on, and Western sanctions, despite the fact that authorities are waiting for positive effect in the form of import substitution. Anti-Russian sanctions and response measures more pluses or minuses?
— The impact of Western sanctions negatively, but from the food embargo, designed ostensibly to develop our agriculture, no one was better. In the 1990-ies was a Finance Minister Boris Fyodorov, is not a stupid man, who is somehow in the hearts said, speaking before the Supreme Council: “who needs your agriculture! We would rather purchase products in Europe and to sell them gas and oil.” And so it is until now. In addition, sanctions for Russia means the closing of the market of high-tech equipment — now we like, but only the lower quality forced to buy from China instead of Germany and the United States. In short, sanctions, if and had a positive effect, it is very limited — in particular, for a number of Russian billionaires, in the absence of competition which have expanded their internal market, but not for the people.
— Authorities regularly declare their goal is to accelerate economic growth. But in fact our economy is growing very slowly. What prevents it?
— Russia’s economy is growing at the level of statistical error — in the year by 1-2%, and should grow at 6-8%. Even minimal economic growth we have is due to the energy industries with foreign security of the reproductive process of oil, coal and gas. With regard to the processing and manufacturing industries, the growth or too weak, or not at all. The possibility of economic recovery can give, for example, a decline in the key rate, but it is not reduced to an adequate level, allegedly due to the containment of inflation. And here we have report that have achieved low inflation. But, first, it does not lead to a noticeable decline in interest on the loan; second, the official figures are to reality is irrelevant — in fact, the price is still constantly rising, worsening the situation of the people. With the agricultural industry is also not so smooth: slightly positive changes are planned in agriculture, as we immediately send the flow of goods for export and at competitive prices, without eliminating the internal deficit. But the government can brag about the fact that Russia began to make agriculture more than selling guns. To ensure high and stable economic growth in the country, you need significant structural and personnel reforms: de-monopolization, changing the judicial system, local self-government, limitation of law enforcement in the economy.
Usually in a series of needed structural reforms is called reduction of the state share in the economy. What is your opinion on this?
On the contrary, in our country, government stake in the economy miserable, because actually everything is concentrated in private hands. The share of public sector in the national economy does not exceed 30%. But the Corporation’s work better than the private. This is due to the fact that in Russia there was a family-clan-bureaucratic capitalism is a specific phenomenon, characteristic only for our country and some other backward countries of peripheral persuasion. At the same time, the Western model of capitalism has successfully solved the social problems — problems with lack of housing, social security… the Western countries have overcome the class struggle due to the sharp increase in the standard of living of the population, and we have the reverse process leading to the return of the class struggle.
You said that Russia needs to build socialism in a purified form instead of family-clan capitalism. Should look like this “purified” socialism in economic terms?
— First, we need a completely different personnel policies in the higher and middle positions. The authorities must come to the people, indifferent to personal wealth and fully committed to the idea of prosperity for all. In other words, the country must be governed by moral and morally clean people. Under socialism, especially when its sunset, in the 80-ies, which was in the Soviet Union, the leaders have abused their position, despite the idea of equality. Second, the “purified” socialism involves the recognition of the institution of private ownership of the economy should be mixed. Third, economic policy should be built “from below”, using Directive and indicative planning. By the way, France have borrowed from the Soviet experience in the use of planning policy, but only in respect of public enterprises and the private business has introduced indicative planning (on a voluntary basis). Through state planning authorities get a lot of leverage on the economy, while private business remains in the black, he received the public contracts, the state provides loans for the support and development provides tax and customs benefits, helps with training. Even in America, a citadel of capitalism — implemented the tools of the Economics of socialism. There existed several forms of development of public enterprises and the effectiveness of the mechanism of state support. For example, when the company went bankrupt, the state went to meet and provided soft loans, and created the Council staff took responsibility and decided where to send them. Elements of socialism have penetrated into the economies of other Western countries and finally disappeared only with the coming to power of Ronald Reagan in US and Margaret Thatcher in the UK, and then began the decline of capitalism, which will destroy itself. In developed countries there is a tendency to the deterioration of the middle class, as indicated even by analysts of the International monetary Fund. But this trend, I believe, there will cease one way or another. And Russia is likely to solve increasingly complex problems in a conflict form, as always happens in our country.