Representative government is largely a myth these days.
Take the United States. In the most successful democracy in world history, 50% of voters say “this government doesn’t speak for me.” Half of the country doesn’t feel represented. What level would we find in a repressive country like Russia?
Western corporations have withdrawn from Russia over the Ukraine invasion. It’s a collective boycott to cripple the government’s war effort. Some boycotts are aimed at Russian citizens themselves. For example, video game makers have stopped selling their games in Russia to avoid giving comfort to the enemy.
It’s well-known that despite a vote, Russian citizens are under authoritarian rule. There’s little they can do to stop their government’s war. Some have taken to the streets and risked years in jail. According to western companies, it isn’t enough.
As one American policymaker asserted, “There are no innocent Russians. ” If you’re not overthrowing your government, then you are being represented by it.
Is this a realistic standard? We’ve seen the penalty for walking through the U.S. Capitol. Imagine the punishment for usurping the power of the Russian machine.
It’s natural to give aid and weapons to Ukraine. Simultaneously, western companies stop selling goods and services to the Russian people. Under what scenario would Russian citizens be empowered to challenge their government? With Apple computers or without them? Access to western innovations is aid of another kind. The West wants Russian citizens to help, without the West’s help.
Abstract image Muriel Liu.