Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Russia Experiencing Its Own ‘End of History’ Moment with Return of Stalinism, Pavlova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 19 – Ever more frequently, Irina Pavlova says, it is becoming obvious that Russia is experiencing its own “end of history” moment, not in the form of the triumph of liberal democracy and free market capitalism as the West expected but in actions that show “the organic quality of Stalinism for contemporary Russia.”

            In Russia today, the US-based Russian historian argues on her blog, “nothing remains from that brief historical moment at the end of the 1980s when in the public space [of Russia] appeared the term ‘Stalinism’ which expressed the essence of the Soviet system” (

                “In the atmosphere of those discussions for an instant the development of Russia not ‘from above’ but ‘from below’ seemed possible” and with it, “the appearance of ‘a state’ instead of ‘the powers,’ ‘a society’ instead of ‘the population,’ ‘an economy’ instead of ‘state production,’ [and] ‘an opposition’ instead of ‘progressive society.’”

            In short, Pavlova says, it appeared that there could appear “a genuine history of the country at least instead of its repeatedly falsified version.”

            But developments since then have dispelled those hopes, she continues. “Everything is just the same. Modernization in Russia proceeds in the same fashion as before,” and this isn’t about “the development of independent government institutions, civil society with independent public organizations … and business free from the powers with real private property rights.”

            Instead, the Putin regime engages in “gigantic projects of the Stalinist type – the Crimean bridge, the beautification of Moscow, enormous stadiums, ‘floating atomic power stations,’ ‘ports on the Baltic,’ international forums, championships, and competitions. And above all, modernization of military industry and the armed forces.”

            Two new legislative proposals only confirm that return of Stalinism: a plan to allow state corporations to more easily use the labor of prisoners and a second to steal from the population for the benefit of the regime by increasing the retirement age to the point where many will not live to receive pensions.

            Every day now, Pavlova argues, brings “new evidence that Stalinism is organic to present-day Russia” and “today the system isn’t frightened” by suggestions in the Internet that the regime is about to fall or by “spontaneous protests” or by “marginal public actions devoted to the memory of its harshest opponents.”

            All those things can continue and can confuse those who want to be confused, she suggests; but they do nothing to change the fundamental reality that Stalinism is back in the form of Putinism. 

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