Staunton, March 19 – The horrors of World War I left behind a generation that could not find its place in the modern world, with some overthrowing the existing order altogether and others reduced to an inability to respond effectively, Igor Yakovenko says. Nearly a century, the demise of the USSR has left in its wake in Russia a similarly divided “lost generation.”
Tragically, this Russian “lost generation” has something more in common with its predecessor than just this division: like its namesake, it is giving rise to fascism and killing off ability of the others to resist. The lost generation of the 1920s is well known; the Russian one since 1991, much less so, the commentator says (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5C8F72B6B7826).
“In the Russian generation of those shot down, there are two fractions who hate one another: those that were shot down by the 1990s; and those who were shot down in the succeeding two decades, Yakovenko says.
The first has an obvious and emblematic leader: Vladimir Putin. At the end of the 1980s, he suffered “the entire complex of the flier shot down: the collapse of the USSR which became by his definition, ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century was for an FSB lieutenant colonel also a personal one.”
Before it happened, he felt himself all powerful on a flight into the heavens, a sense given to him by membership in the secret service, Yakovenko says. But then he was reduced to the pathetic position of an assistant to the rector of Leningrad State University, a trajectory rapidly downward he was not alone in following.
“Having experienced ‘the cursed 1990s,’ this generation of imperialist who had been ‘shot down’ came to power and organized their revenge by trying to revive the empire and thus wipe from history all the signs of ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe.’” And unlike Boris Yeltsin, they went after their enemies and instilled fear in them.
They orchestrated political murders as a matter of routine not just to get inconvenient people out of the way but to intimidate everyone else. That proved effective, Yakovenko says. “Stalin killed millions in order to frighten tens of millions: Putin showed that it is enough to kill several well-known figures and several hundred less well know in order to frighten all the rest.”
Moreover, this lost generation having returned to power was quite prepared for the same reasons to dispatch its opponents to prison, drive them into emigration and irrelevance, coopt them and put them in positions where they were totally dependent on the powers that be and thus totally incapable of resisting them.
“There is a very widespread point of view that the Russian opposition is so weak and hopeless because Russians are a nation of slaves, genetically incapable of resisting the powers. This Nazi myth is very popular in liberal assemblies,” Yakovenko says. Anyone who challenges this notion, however, risks being dismissed as “a hurrah patriot.”
In reality, Russians are not a nation of slaves because of their genetics. That is racist nonsense. They are slaves because they have been good reason to be afraid and because those who do oppose the increasingly fascist authoritarian regime under which they live engage in maximalism and disputes rather than working together to get rid of the regime.
And because such things leave the opponents of the regime with the idea that nothing is possible, they descend even further into the kind of population that the representatives of the Russian lost generation returned to power can easily intimidate into silence and obedience, Yakovenko suggests.
“The Russian opposition very much needs a success in any direction,” he argues. If it has some, it will begin to believe in itself. That will cure the chief disability of its being the other part of the lost generation. And if it does so, it will be in a position to oppose and eventually defeat that very different part of the lost generation now in power.