Monday, August 23, 2021

Unless Russia Comes Up with an Image of a Bright Future, It will Fall Apart Just as the USSR Did, Bondarenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 22 – People live not by what they see around them but by what they hope for in the future; and if they do not have such a vision or lose it, then they will cease to be one people but will fall apart because only in those parts will they be able to imagine and belive in some bright future, Oleg Bondarenko.says.

            That loss in the hope of a bright future was what tore the Soviet people and ultimately their own country apart, and the lack of such an image among Russians could easily end the same way for them and their country, the Moskovsky komsomolets commentator argues (

`           “The Soviet man was doomed when he was deprived of an image of the future, of the much sought-after communism,” Bondarenko says. This happened about in 1987 “with the appearance of the mass cooperative movement, the precursor of the first capitalist forms of property.” When people in the USSR saw this, they “ceased to be Soviet.”

            Capitalism inevitably divides people, he continues, and “the simplest of all ways” to divide peole in a poor country is on the lines of nationality. “Therefore, the Soviet Union was condemned by the rise of inter-ethnic hostility and the wearing away of its own image of the future.”

            While almost everyone in the USSR referred to himself or herself as Soviet, only a tiny share of them actually declared that in the census. “Unlike in the former Yugoslavia,” where almost ten percent of the population identified as Yugoslavs, in the USSR, their number was miniscule.

            Its residents identified as members of nations, and when the image of the future that had held them together as Soviets disappeared, they retreated to their respective national tents. That is something that can happen to any country: it can even happen to the United States if its people identify more as members of one race or faith than as Americans.

            And it happened in the USSR. Many have forgotten that the RSFSR was “the first of the union republics after the Baltics and the Caucasians” to vote for a declaration of independence. Once it had, there was no going back. What the Ukrainians and Moldovans did later was almost an afterthought.

            If anyone is to restore the Union, he will have to come up with “an attractive image of the future which is above national borders,” Bondarenko says. That won’t happen by creating structures; it is about ideas. And today, there is “a lack of a simple and clear consolidating idea” and so no change of a return to a broader community.

            This lack, he continues, lies “at the basis of the geopolitical impotence” of Russia.

            The processes of splitting up and decentralizing haven’t come to an end either beyond the borders of the Russian Federation or even within it. Consider Tatarstan or Sakha and Buryatia? “Do you know what the level of everyday separatism is” in these?

            “I will tell you,” the Moskovsky komsomolets commentator says. “It is quite high And therefore one must not be surprised if and when already in the national republics of the Russian Federation, local nationally concerned radicals will begin to demand of Russians that they apologize as they leave.”

            The present model of the Russian Federation is too rickety to hold, not because there are non-Russian republics but because there is no common vision of the future. “If Marx were alive now,” Bondarenko says, he would correct his chief axiom that being defines consciousness and declare that “expectation of being defines consciousness.”

            “People live in hope for the morrow; and in these expectations the model which gives the most accessible model of a bright tomorrow will win. If one’s own powers aren’t capable of formulating it, the people at a certain moment will change from an object to a subject of political processes and find an expression of their own expectations.”

            “Therefore,” he says, “the quicker that an image of a bright tomorrow appears in Russia, the more stable it will be. And in the absence of it,” one can expect only disintegration. That is what happened with the Soviet Union. “I would very much not like that the Russian Federation would repeat that path,” Bondarenko concludes.


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