Friday, May 17, 2024

Russia and Belarus Seeking to Revive Sovietism but without Internationalism or Belief in Progress, Shamolin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 13 – Alone among the post-Soviet states, only Russia and Belarus have sought to restore two key aspects of the Soviet past – absolute centralization of power and repressive means of administration – while dispensing with a third – internationalism and a commitment to progress – Roman Shamolin says.

            The rector of Novosibirsk’s Free University says that instead these two countries have sought to restore systems of national autarchy, “Belarus somewhat earlier and more openly; the Russian Federation later and initially more covertly under slogans about ‘sovereign democracy’” (

            It is “characteristic” that despite their playing on nostalgia for the Soviet past and restoring its authoritarianism, both have dispensed with two other ideas that were at the center of the Soviet system, official commitments to internationalism and the idea of progress, Shamolin continues.

            While the Soviet system was not always internationalist in practice and was retrograde rather than progressive in its actions, “the Soviet man was an internationalist” in his attitudes in principle if not in practice and believed in progress rather than in stagnation or a return to the past. The Russian and Belarusian systems now do not.

            Instead, the leaders of Russia and Belarus have “placed their bets on ‘patriotism,’ ‘tradition’ and ‘stability,’” thus “declaring continuity as far as the USSR was concerned by in fact rejecting the entire essence of the Soviet world.” Inevitably, that has led to a deep split in both societies between the traditionalists and those who support progress.

            The former benefitting from both the power of the state and the deference of the population is by far the stronger; but the longer the states in these two countries push sovietism without its core elements, the greater will be the contradiction between them and the more problems these countries will have.

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