Friday, September 29, 2023

With Invasion of Ukraine, Putin has Triggered a Fourth Wave of Archaization in Russia, Something that Country Won’t Escape Quickly, Kulbaka Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 21 – Before last year, Russia had experienced three waves of archaization over the past 110 years, the first after the 1917 revolution, the second with the onset of World War II, and the third in 1991 with the collapse of the USSR and the beginning of market reforms, Nikolay Kulbaka says.

            According to the independent Russian economist, each of these was “the result of a crisis in the previous management model” in Russia and “the illusion” among some parts of its elites that stability and the existing order can be maintained by turning backward rather than seeking modernization (

            But such attempts had in each case “the opposite effect.” They destroyed the remaining parts of the previous system, exacerbated social conflicts, and increased by criminal activities and fights over the redistribution of property; and they led to “mass emigration of those who either felt vulnerable or had the qualification for better opportunities abroad.”

            Whenever a socio-economic system is destroyed, that can be a catalyst for intensive modernization, “especially if the country involved lags significantly behind the level of development in neighboring countries, Kulbaka argues, noting that this was the case in all three of the previous turns to archaization after a time.

            Unfortunately, this trend was undermined in all three cases by those who felt they had to turn to past models of rule lest modernization itself lead to challenges to their political power. Even more unfortunately, he continues, “the crisis that began in 2022 apparently opens the way for a fourth wave of archaization,” one whose “trajectory and consequences remain uncertain.”

            According to Kulbaka, “a distinctive feature” of the current wave “is the absence of an obvious modernization component.” Instead, it is taking place “under the banner of conservatism,” although some efforts at import substitution suggest that “a certain element of modernization is still present.”

            But because the modernization component is relatively small, a future transition of Russia “from an archaic to a modern way of thinking will take a long time, at least ten to fifteen years.” And during that period, rapid growth in comes won’t prove a panacea as it will only “increase social inequality.”

            This suggests, Kulbaka concludes, that “Russia will face an economic recession in the near future which will further consolidate archaic tendencies in society and increase the lag behind developed countries that Russia currently suffers.”

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