Staunton, Oct. 28 – The evolution of Russian politics since 1991 and the recent recovery of political influence by the KPRF reflects a disinterest in freedom and the values of individualism on the part of the Russian people, a disinterest that itself arise “not so much from national character as from traditional poverty,” Aleksandr Tsipko says.
The senior Moscow commentator draws that conclusion on the basis of a close analysis of the policies of the KPRF, on the one hand, and the Putin regime, on the other, as the two have pursued their own interests over the last decades (mk.ru/politics/2021/10/28/nazad-v-sssr-k-kakomu-socializmu-khochet-nas-vernut-kprf.html).
And on the basis of that analysis, Tsipko concludes that Russia never had an anti-communist revolution and that the revival of interest in Stalinism is a result of that fact and of the ways that the KPRF leadership, Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin have acted over the past three decades.
After the September elections in which the KPRF felt it was the winner, its leadership declared the party to be “the heirs of the Leninist-Stalinist tradition,” thus dashing the hopes of “certain Moscow liberals who voted for the communists” calculating that the KPRF was on the way to become a social democratic party.
Indeed, Tsipko says, it is significant that the KPRF views its goal as the restoration of the Stalinist system and not the less rigorous socialism of the Brezhnev era. From the point of view of electoral politics, the KPRF has made a clever choice. After all, its core electorate “dreams of a return to the times of Stalinist ‘strong power.’”
To be sure, the commentator continues, “today, the achievement of the plans of the KPRF … seem improbable. But one must not forget that we live in a country where the most impossible things often become real.” And that is why one must be clear about what happened in Russia in 1991 and in the years afterward.
Only if that is done, Tsipko argues, is it possible to understand why nostalgia for the lost Soviet Union has grown so rapidly among the Russian population.
According to Tsipko, “the first and main cause of the growth of pro-Soviet attitudes and even the hopes for the restoration of Leninist-Stalinist socialism consists that we in the USSR and in particular in the former RSFSR unlike the countries of Eastern Europe did not have an anti-communist revolution in the precise meaning of this term.”
“If in the countries of Eastern Europe, the ‘velvet’ revolutions of 1989 were at one and the same time anti-Soviet and anti-communist, then our August 1991 revoltuion, which we call democratic was in fact [only and instead] ‘anti-apparatus’ – and in this sense not anti- but pro-communist.”
Those who went into the streets in August 1991 were animated by a desire for equality and for the end of privileges that “the hated communist nomenklatura” enjoyed. After all, Yeltsin won support not for attacking communism but for attacking these privileges. Neither he nor any of the other leaders of the August events were anti-communists.
“And now, 30 years after the disintegration of the USSR,” Tsipko says, he has “come to the conclusion that with us, an anti-communist revolution, even such a strange anti-apparatus form would have suffered defeat” because neither the population nor Yeltsin’s team wanted such a revolution to succeed.
Tsipko continues: “the sufferings of the people during the reforms of the 1990s which led to horrific social inequality could not but lead in the eyes of the people not only to the rehabilitation of the Soviet system but also to the rejection of the reformers themselves and in the end of Yeltsin.”
Had the 1996 presidential election not been stolen, KPRF chief Gennady Zyuganov would have won it, but he would have done so not so much as the leader of the KPRF and “heir of the CPSU,’ but as a Russian patriot who called for the rebirth of the greatness of the Russian state and the rebirth of the sovereignty of Russia.”
“Why am I recalling this now?” Tsipko asks rhetorically. “In order to show that pro-communist attitudes, especially from the beginning of the early 2000s began to die because Yeltsin’s successor, Vladimir Putin took over and attempted to make real the ideology of the KPRF of the mid-1990s.”
“The salvation of Russia from the danger of the coming to power of pro-communist forces consists in a repetition of the attempt Putin made in 2000,” Tsipko says, “when he took from Gennady Zyuganov the call to raise Russia from its knees and to revive the traditions of Russian statehood.”
To do that, the commentator concludes, Putin must introduce some radical changes, including progressive taxation, a reduction of the retirement age, and other means intended to address the fundamental problem of Russia, poverty. He must show that for him, “the interests of the needy are more important for him than the interests of the oligarchs who surround him.”