Monday, April 3, 2017

Three Things that Brought Down the USSR Again in Evidence in Russia, Roslyakov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 3 – Many Russians are still discussing what led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow blogger Aleksandr Roslyakov says; but all too often they fail to see that the three things that led to its collapse are again in evidence in the Russian Federation of Vladimir Putin.

            First of all, he says, there was and is again a hunger for goods. “At the end of the 1980s, there was nothing to buy; now, there is nothing to buy it with.” That may be an important distinction for statisticians and officials, “but for the consumer, the difference is equal to zero” (

            As at the end of Soviet times, Rusisans are again saying that “our children should live better than we do” and are increasingly uncertain that that will be possible.

            Second, there is again “the total party lying, in which no one believed at the end of the 1980s and which no one believes now, neither those who do the lying nor those to whom they lie.”  That is especially true of young people then and now.

            In the 1980s, students “were forced to write essays on Brezhnev’s ‘Little Land’ … now they are given potted lessons on patriotism and Orthodoxy … about Putin’s ‘Big Land.’” And that leads, the blogger says, to “the complete spiritual suspicion to the policy of ‘the party and government,’ to ‘the holy spirit’ and to ‘the institutions of power.’”

            And third, now as at the end of the Soviet period, there is “a monstrous triumph of the ruling class, which not able to run the country and not wanting to take responsibility for anything gives itself ever more paradisiacal goods.” Then, it was the nomnklatura; now, it is the oligarchs and Putin’s friends.

            “When at the end of the 1980s,” these things reached a critical pressure, Roslyakov says, the control system simply collapsed. Now, the Putin regime imagines that it has come up with a stronger control system; but there are good reasons for doubt about that.

            The Russian Guard Putin has set up is hardly “original.” It is just a remake of “the praetorian guard of the Roman Empire,” something that will save the rulers until things get too bad for the population and then it too will turn on its quondam masters unless unexpectedly they learn their lessons and change.

              Unfortunately for them and perhaps for the country, they don’t appear to be doing that; and as a result, Roslyakov concludes, “we are very rapidly crossing” the Rubicon in which all that the powers have done to protect themselves won’t save them.

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