Monday, November 6, 2017

Russia’s ‘Special Path’ is ‘Modernization via Catastrophe,’ Historian Sergey Medvedev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 6 – Russia today, Sergey Medvedev says, “stands where Russia did at the beginning of the 1990s: before the inevitability of radical reforms for which it does not have the resources, the political class nor in essence, the state itself.”  But the longer it puts things off, the more disastrous the consequences of this situation will become.

            Drawing on the 1995 article of Andrey Fadin, “Modernization via Catastrophe?” (, the Russian historian told a London conference on the centenary of the Russian revolution that Russia’s current situation is even worse than it was in 1991 because the country lacks the reserves built up in Soviet times (

            In the 1990s and especially since 2000, he continued, the Kremlin has exploited those reserves to engage in a kind of Prussian modernization, one that has led and will continue to lead to the further degradation of Russia to third world levels and to third world attitudes such as “post-imperial resentment.”

            But “after 232 years of ‘the Prussian path,’ led by Sobchak’s heir Putin, we have come to that very same fork in the road, having used up “all the Soviet social and infrastructure inheritance, completely run down human capital, and by the way wasted hundreds of billions of oil dollars on useless things.”

            Speaking at University College London, he was asked whether Russia again as in the past will “modernize via catastrophe” including political and territorial collapse. Medvedev responded that the longer Russia refuses to face up to the challenges before it, “the more probable will become a catastrophe scenario for the transformation of the country.”

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