Friday, October 3, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Like Lenin, Putin Wants to Re-Impose ‘an Unhappy Past’ on Russia, Portnikov Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, October 3 – H.G. Wells like many Westerners misunderstood Lenin: He and they thought he was either a dreamer or an idiot but remained convinced that he wanted to build a new future for Russia.  And in a similar way, many Westerners today are misunderstanding Putin and think he is all about building a new future for the same country.


            But such people are wrong, Vitaly Portnikov argues. Putin has just about as much interest in the future as Lenin did:  Like the founder of the Soviet state, the current Kremlin leader is like Lenin entirely in the past.  Lenin promoted “the rebirth of feudalism under the mask socialism,” and Putin “sees his bright future in the rebirth of socialism camouflaged under state capitalism” (


            Lenin, he says, “returned to the country the serfdom that Alexander II had abolished, driving peasants into collective farms and taking away their passports, attaching workers to enterprises, introducing residence permits, closing the borders, reviving the oprichniki in the form of the KGB, and ruling without any elections, like boyars and the little father tsar.”


            Putin is now behaving in much the same way. After all, who would host a forum with the “bold name ‘Russia is Calling’” when not only foreign but even domestic money is flowing like a river” out of the country? Who would dismiss Western sanctions as meaningless when they are obvious hurting? And who would offer Russian citizenship for investments “when Russian businessmen are searching the world for ‘safe harbors’ and foreign passports?”


            Lenin re-imposed feudalism on a country “which had not quite forgotten about serfdom,” Portnikov says. Now, “Putin is imposing socialism of a chekist variant in a country which still hasn’t cured itself from the Soviet disease.” The only thing that distinguishes “one Kremlin dream from the other” is what we have learned from the Soviet experience.


            “It is simply impossible to feed a country like Russia out of a single office,” the commentator continues. “Without a genuine, uncorrupt and a market not operating under orders, Russia will die.”


            Putin and his entourage have been able to hide what they are doing and how they are contributing to the future death of Russia because of the rents they are receiving from high oil prices, but that has been an accident of fate rather than a product of their own work. And like any such “accidental good fortune,” it will “sooner or later end.”

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