Friday, May 17, 2024

Russia Now Making a Transition Comparable in Scale to 1917 and 1991, Nikolsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 13 – The Russian people and their country are currently going through a transition equivalent in scale to those they experienced in 1917 and 1991, Sergey Nikolsky says; but up to now, the limited discussion of these changes has generally failed to capture just how sweeping they are.

            The senior professor at the Moscow Institute of Philosophy argues that the current transition is different from the two earlier ones but can be successfully navigated only if the contradictions inherent in each of them are recognized and the way in which the second transition in part overcame the first ( 

            If that does not happen, then the current transition will fail because efforts to move toward the current goal of the Kremlin -- the transformation of the international system into one that allows for, even demands, the uniqueness of Russian civilization in a world of other unique civilizations -- will not be achieved.

            The Soviet system was based on the notions that the individual was nothing and the state everything and that fear was the norm of existence, but the transition of the 1990s represented an incomplete effort to overcome both of those principles. Trying to go back to the former without an acceptance of the latter is doomed to fail, Nikolsky suggests.

            The two need to be understood in order to move forward, he argues; and “the country must finally stop being an historical loser in its own eyes and learn from and then leave behind the lessons of the 20th century” and its two transitions. That will require a state and society committed to personal development, civil society and cultural development.

            And these three principles must be combined into “a single national movement” rather than be in opposition to one another as they have been. Only if they are, Nikolsky concludes, will “the development and rooting of Russia’s distinctive civilizational uniqueness both within itself and in the new world order” be ensured.


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