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Russian Journal - Standpoint of the week

issue #3 (59), April 27, 2011

The topic of the issue: ‘Think Tanks: The Battle of Progressive Manifestos’

Recently, the Russian public sphere has been overwhelmed with a wave of political manifestos, the authors of which have come from various Russian think tanks, including the Institute of Contemporary Development (INSOR), the Centre for Strategic Research Foundation, the Centre for Social and Conservative Policy, and the ‘Strategy-2020’ Civil Initiative Foundation. The fact that the reports of this genre have begun to appear on a large scale namely at this time leads to the question of whether this is related specifically with the impending elections or to the vacuum regarding a solid vision for the country’s future, which various interest groups are attempting to privatise nowadays? Are there any consensus points regarding possible changes that are agreed upon by all representatives of the expert community, irrespective of their ideological preferences? It seems that most of the reports issued are of a liberal and progressive nature. Does this mean that progressive liberals have managed to seize the initiative from the “guardians” or, at least, that they have managed to become a worthy alternative to them? Do think tanks promote progressive changes or are they conservative organizations which think only about their sponsors?

These and other questions are answered by the following experts: John Gray, a British political philosopher, author and former Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics; Sergey Belanovsky, a Russian social scientist and the Research Director at the Centre for Strategic Research Foundation; Victor Vakhstein, a Russian social scientist and the Dean of the Faculty of Sociology and Political Science at the Moscow Higher School of Social and Economic Sciences; and James McGann, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (Philadelphia, U.S.A.) and Director of its “Think Tanks and Foreign Policy” programme.

In this issue, readers will also read features from John Halpin, a Senior Researcher at the Centre for American Progress, and the creator and Co-director of the Centre’s Progressive Research Program; Vladislav Inozemtsev, a doctor of economic sciences and a publisher, who is currently the Editor-in-chief of the journal Svobodnaya mysl (‘Free thought’) and the Director of the Centre for Post-industrial Society Research; Boris Mezhuev, a political scientist and Deputy General Director of the ‘Strategy-2020’ Civil Initiative Foundation; and Alexander Cockburn, co-editor of CounterPunch, a columnist for The Nation, and a member of the editorial board of the New Left Review

04 мая 2011


Awave of reports, which are now being produced by various expert groups, is a reac tion to the direct signal from those in power, who have suddenly become interested in what the intellectuals are thinking. This development in and of itself is something good.

04 мая 2011


Thinktanks have become very politicized over the past forty years. On the whole, there are much more and much better funded thinktanks on the right than on the left. This is because conservatives have found them a useful way to fur ther their political agenda. Rich conservatives can make taxfree donations to thinktanks – and not only avoid paying taxes, but also avoid having to deal with uni versities that have an educational mission and are less able to be so ideologically driven. There has been some effort to create ‘pro gressive’ thinktanks in a similar fashion to those of the conserva tives, but there is still a real imbal ance.

04 мая 2011

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