Collapse of the Soviet Union and its importance in 2011

Written by  //  November 4, 2011  //  Geopolitics, Globalization, Government & Governance, Russia  //  1 Comment

Chanting ‘Russia for Russians,’ thousands of nationalists and neo-Nazis march through Moscow
(WaPost) Thousands of far-right nationalists and neo-Nazis marched through Moscow on Friday calling on ethnic Russians to “take back” their country, as resentment grows over dark-complexioned Muslim migrants from Russia’s Caucasus and the money the Kremlin sends to the restive region.
3 November
Russia set to end 18-year wait to join WTO
(Reuters) – Russia is on the verge of ending its 18-year wait to join the World Trade Organization after accepting a trade deal with Georgia, the last big obstacle to membership of a club that will seal its integration into the global economy.
31 October
David Jones: It’s Not Your Father’s Moscow
‘Our’ Soviet Union was epitomized by Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984. All gone. In its place is something new—and to a casual, albeit attentive observer, considerably better. Hill Times – subscriber only
7 October
Is Vladimir Putin’s Eurasian dream worth the effort?
(The Guardian) The Russian prime minister’s union plan is not meant as a return to the Soviet past, but he would do well to check precedent
… comes the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, perhaps looking to lift the attention of a restive public at home to something more elevated than a peremptorily staged presidential succession, supporting the idea of creating a Eurasian union of former Soviet-bloc nations that could become “one of the poles of the modern world, serving as an efficient link between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific region”.
Putin explicitly denies that this is about rebuilding the USSR. Nevertheless, there has been a lot of talk of Eurasia since the collapse of the USSR and there is a close connection between the Eurasia concept and Soviet history. Belarus and Kazakhstan have already embarked on commercial integration and the new union will hope to take that further, perhaps attracting other former Soviet republics into its orbit: Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are mentioned.

LEON ARON: Everything You Think You Know About the Collapse of the Soviet Union Is Wrong
*And why it matters today in a new age of revolution.
(Foreign Policy Magazine July/August 2011)

Every revolution is a surprise. Still, the latest Russian Revolution must be counted among the greatest of surprises. In the years leading up to 1991, virtually no Western expert, scholar, official, or politician foresaw the impending collapse of the Soviet Union, and with it one-party dictatorship, the state-owned economy, and the Kremlin’s control over its domestic and Eastern European empires. Neither, with one exception, did Soviet dissidents nor, judging by their memoirs, future revolutionaries themselves. When Mikhail Gorbachev became general secretary of the Communist Party in March 1985, none of his contemporaries anticipated a revolutionary crisis. Although there were disagreements over the size and depth of the Soviet system’s problems, no one thought them to be life-threatening, at least not anytime soon.

The roots of the democratic institutions spawned by morally charged revolutions may prove too shallow to sustain a functioning democracy in a society with precious little tradition of grassroots self-organization and self-rule. This is something that is likely to prove a huge obstacle to the carrying out of the promise of the Arab Spring — as it has proved in Russia.

One needs only to spend a few days in Moscow talking to the intelligentsia or, better yet, to take a quick look at the blogs on LiveJournal (Zhivoy Zhurnal), Russia’s most popular Internet platform, or at the sites of the top independent and opposition groups to see that the motto of the 1980s — “We cannot live like this any longer!” — is becoming an article of faith again. The moral imperative of freedom is reasserting itself, and not just among the limited circles of pro-democracy activists and intellectuals. … It was the same intellectual and moral quest for self-respect and pride that, beginning with a merciless moral scrutiny of the country’s past and present, within a few short years hollowed out the mighty Soviet state, deprived it of legitimacy, and turned it into a burned-out shell that crumbled in August 1991. The tale of this intellectual and moral journey is an absolutely central story of the 20th century’s last great revolution.

One Comment on "Collapse of the Soviet Union and its importance in 2011"

  1. Diana Thébaud Nicholson July 8, 2011 at 8:56 am · Reply

    Comment from a European friend and astute observer of political events:
    [Regarding the Foreign Policy Magazine article about] the latest Russian Revolution as they call it.
    I would like to remind that it is NOT true that “no Western experts on Soviet Union could see what was coming”. I attended myself a multinational pow-wow in 1977 and quite a few could already see what was going to happen. They were muffled by their bosses, but they did see.
    Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, later the first-ever woman in the French Academy, published a book Decline of an Empire [Empire éclaté] already in 1978.
    There are people today who have their opinions on China, which differ from the generally accepted one. Yours truly included.
    Actually, there is more info available than ever, but fewer and fewer who are willing to take the trouble to think themselves.

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