Monday, August 22, 2016

Post-Soviet States Built the Soviet-Style Caricature of Capitalism, Ukrainian Commentator Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 22 – There are many reasons citizens of the post-Soviet states are unhappy with their current situation and look to the Soviet past with nostalgia; but one of the most important is that most introduced the kind of capitalism caricatured by Soviet propaganda rather than the kind that actually exists in the West today, according to Serhy Petrik.

            That shouldn’t surprise anyone and the reaction of the populations of these countries shouldn’t either, the Ukrainian commentator says.  When Ukraine and the other former Soviet republics gained independence, “there weren’t any ‘non-Soviet people’” and so Soviet people did what was done (

            “For 25 years, we have been building capitalism in that caricature form which the Soviet satirical journal ‘Krokodil’ offered … we [simply] didn’t see another capitalism, [and] after having thrown off the Soviet values” at a superficial level, there was no “new values” on offer “in exchange.”

            The post-Soviet populations, he argues, simply replaced the minus sign that Soviet propagandists had put in front of capitalism with a plus, failing to understand that the Soviet definition itself was defective and that most countries while they might have begun with the kind of capitalism “Krokodil” showed had changed it into something quite different over time.

            That approach of simply putting a plus where there had been a minus without considering the Soviet distortions has affected many other aspects of life in Ukraine and the other post-Soviet states, Petrik continues.  And not surprisingly, this failure to examine things more deeply has created a new set of problems and led to the degradation of society.

            As conditions have become more difficult, people in these countries have been “less demanding of themselves than even was the case in Soviet times.” When the issue is cast in terms of “who is guilty?” people respond “Putin! Or Poroshenko and Groisman or Timoshenko or Klichko.”  But they never think that they might be.

            This situation might have been ameliorated if the elites were interested in national consolidation, but in fact, such consolidation is hardly “useful” for those “’elites’ which are struggling for power.” Instead, they are happy to play on the differences and on the memories of Soviet definitions even when such games threaten to lead to the collapse of the state.

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