Modern Russian Historiography

avon

Forum Staff
May 2008
14,253
#3
Interesting article there, EchoEcho ( ... mind if I call you 'Echo' ?).

I can't help thinking that there's an element of neo-Stalinism in Medvedev's attempted retrenchment of the historical narrative.
 

vera

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
9,508
Israel
#4
Interesting article there, EchoEcho ( ... mind if I call you 'Echo' ?).

I can't help thinking that there's an element of neo-Stalinism in Medvedev's attempted retrenchment of the historical narrative.
Wouldn't be the first time they rewrite history. Orwell was so right on.

You know, the famous Russian humorist Mikhail Zadorniv said at the time of Glastnost, that it was declared so that they find out exactly what everyone thought, and this time- no mistakes.
 

avon

Forum Staff
May 2008
14,253
#5
You know, the famous Russian humorist Mikhail Zadorniv said at the time of Glastnost, that it was declared so that they find out exactly what everyone thought, and this time- no mistakes.
:D I wasn't familiar with that anecdote, thanks. (Not that I would agree with it, but it is humorous!!)
 

vera

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
9,508
Israel
#6
:D I wasn't familiar with that anecdote, thanks. (Not that I would agree with it, but it is humorous!!)
Why wouldn't you agree with it? I find it most shrewd. Do you not find that nothing has changed in Russia but the names for things? :rolleyes:
 

avon

Forum Staff
May 2008
14,253
#7
Why wouldn't you agree with it? I find it most shrewd. Do you not find that nothing has changed in Russia but the names for things? :rolleyes:
No, not that. Perestroika and Glasnost meant many things to many people. There was a huge amount of misunderstanding as to what was acceptable and what was not, when it was acceptable. The policies were initiated almost secretly, but then took on a life of their own and grew out of the control of the Party. Gorbachev was taken along for a ride and struggled to stay alive because of them. Once Gorbachev fell (or pushed by Yeltsen at least), things in Russia were different. There really was a serious attempt at change. Althought the state attempted (wrongly) to implement a democratic system and a capitalist system and failed miserably, the people on the ground grasped the change and ran with it. It wasn't until Putin had been in power for a while that things did begin to revert back to what had been before. However, even here, many things are still quite very different. People are able to travel freely, they are able to start private enterprises, they are able to complain openly (and sometimes loudly) about the government. So, Glasnost did bring about real change, for a while it flourished, then some things reverted back to what had been before.
 

vera

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
9,508
Israel
#8
No, not that. Perestroika and Glasnost meant many things to many people. There was a huge amount of misunderstanding as to what was acceptable and what was not, when it was acceptable. The policies were initiated almost secretly, but then took on a life of their own and grew out of the control of the Party. Gorbachev was taken along for a ride and struggled to stay alive because of them. Once Gorbachev fell (or pushed by Yeltsen at least), things in Russia were different. There really was a serious attempt at change. Althought the state attempted (wrongly) to implement a democratic system and a capitalist system and failed miserably, the people on the ground grasped the change and ran with it. It wasn't until Putin had been in power for a while that things did begin to revert back to what had been before. However, even here, many things are still quite very different. People are able to travel freely, they are able to start private enterprises, they are able to complain openly (and sometimes loudly) about the government. So, Glasnost did bring about real change, for a while it flourished, then some things reverted back to what had been before.
Well, you are right in part. I always felt that Gorbachev kind of pushed a small stone from the top of a snowy mountain, to see what would happen. And the huge snow ball that thundered down completely went out of control.
The thing is the Yeltzin was mostly a figurehead. The real powers, Putin among them, were operating behind the scene. Putin is, as is well known, from the top KGB oficials. Democracy and such is not really his cup of tea.
Also, Russia has been raped for the second time as rulers tried to jump-push it across a stage of developement. You cannot cross from totalitarism into democracy, without going through some other stage, anarchy being the most obvious choice.
As all the top oficials are the same, really, most of the changes are skin deep.
 

avon

Forum Staff
May 2008
14,253
#9
Well, you are right in part. I always felt that Gorbachev kind of pushed a small stone from the top of a snowy mountain, to see what would happen. And the huge snow ball that thundered down completely went out of control.
I am tempted to think that he didn't so much push that small stone as accidentally trip over it as so cause it to tumble downwards in a cumulative manner. But hey, we're basically in agreement.;)

The thing is the Yeltzin was mostly a figurehead. The real powers, Putin among them, were operating behind the scene. Putin is, as is well known, from the top KGB oficials. Democracy and such is not really his cup of tea.
Also, Russia has been raped for the second time as rulers tried to jump-push it across a stage of developement. You cannot cross from totalitarism into democracy, without going through some other stage, anarchy being the most obvious choice.
As all the top oficials are the same, really, most of the changes are skin deep.
Well, Yeltsen was the one that supposedly saved Russia from the Communist Revolution in 1991. He made his name as liberator, as anti-Communist. His cadre largely consisted of liberals (would it be cogent to put Burlatsky in there?). If, as you say (and I am not in a brilliant position to argue this point), he was a figurehead, that could only have come about in the period after 1991 ... probably when he started consumming large amounts of vodka at the office. By 1993/4, we know that the snowball (to continue your analogy) was already running at top-speed and the Yeltsen era is one of catch-up. In other words, regardless of who was calling the shots, they did not have the situation under control.

The other point worth raising is the one about totalitarianism to democracy. I've never heard anything about there being a stage inbetween the two models (but then I'm not a political scientist!). However, the Soviet Union, at least since 1953, was never a totalitarian state within the classic model. During the 1970s, that is during the (so-called) period of stagnation, the economy slipped quietly out of the hands of the state and became almost free and illegal. There was private enterprise abound, a thriving and almost open black market - a shadow economy. So the move back towards Democracy (not something that Russia had really experienced for more than a few months) wasn't really the systemic upheaval that might be suggested.
 

vera

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
9,508
Israel
#10
The other point worth raising is the one about totalitarianism to democracy. I've never heard anything about there being a stage inbetween the two models (but then I'm not a political scientist!). However, the Soviet Union, at least since 1953, was never a totalitarian state within the classic model. During the 1970s, that is during the (so-called) period of stagnation, the economy slipped quietly out of the hands of the state and became almost free and illegal. There was private enterprise abound, a thriving and almost open black market - a shadow economy. So the move back towards Democracy (not something that Russia had really experienced for more than a few months) wasn't really the systemic upheaval that might be suggested.
I have lived there, a propos totalitarian state. No, it was never on paper, but it was a state keeping its subjects in perpetual fear. People continued to disappear in the middle of the night (or the day for that matter). My mother was an anti-soviet, and we were under constant surveilance, our home was searched periodically for forbidden literature. Phones were bugged. The KGB had everybody report to it on everybody else. Any contact with the outside world was forbidden and punishable by inprisonment, in the best case, exile to Siberia, in the worst. The food was diverted from the people to secret hiding places, to keep the people on the verge of hunger, occasionally "thrown out" here and there. There were "professional liners", that is people whose job was to stand in all availabe lines. My grandfather's sister was one. There was a network of little old ladies who did that. The wages paid was a pittance, a pair of boots cost 3 monthly salaries. To keep the people busy with day-to day existence and in-line.
Now, think about this for a moment. A country which is used to live like that has developed a certain mentality. Can it pass into freedom and democracy in a couple of years? No! People were afraid at first, disbelieving, suspicious. Then there was all the unfamiliar terminology. Books were suddenly allowed, contact has opened with the outside world. Culture-shock, I think it is called.
Then the more "enterprising" discovered the "nobody's" government real estate, factories, buildings etc. and began in earnest selling it. Opportunity called. If that's what you call an attempt at capitalism that failed miserably...

When the Israelites were led by Moses out of Egypt they walked for 40 years in the desert. Not because they were lost, obviosly. This is called here "the meat pot". They were waiting for the old generation, who were born and raised and lived their lives in slavery, afraid of freedom, to die out. They had slave mentality, and could not change it, could not adapt to new reality. They missed their "meat pot", their false security, the familiar life.
I think that's what is happening here. The old generation must be changed in order to change the mentality. The young people will build a new reality. But it's take time, as the old generation still holds all the high posts.