[Marxism] RE Putin government and the USSR

ilyenkova at netzero.com ilyenkova at netzero.com
Tue May 10 11:52:31 MDT 2005

>My sense is that it goes much deeper than that, and I'd be curious if people
more familiar than I with Russian developments would agree. The growth of
official public nostalgia for the USSR - which has discouraged Western
pundits and politicans - seems to have directly coincided with the the Bush
administration's drive to install strongly pro-American regimes under the
guise of "democracy" around Russia's periphery - Georgia, Ukraine, and, most
recently, Belarus. The US probably would like to provoke a similar movement
with Russia itself, where the nationalist Putin administration has pursued a
more independent energy and foreign policy than the previous Yeltsin regime,
although this would fraught with greater risk.

The Putin regime therefore seems to be enlisting the prestige and the social
model which the USSR represented to counter any lingering appeal for the US
system within Russia and its border states, especially among the young. The
Russian masses strongly identified "prosperity" and "freedom" with American
capitalism after the fall of the USSR, but 15 years of capitalism and
corruption seemed to have largely dispelled that illusion.<

I work w/ many Russian emigres. I also have been doing tutoring in ESL 
for 5 yrs., mostly with Russians on work visas. The ruble crisis of 1997 
(?) was a turning point for the emigre group as they became 
outspoken about the deterioration "back home." This group has a free 
floating nostalgia for the USSR and distress at the personal losses and 
displacement they have experienced (i.e. a former Director of the 
Leningrad Library shelves books for $7.25/hr etc). There is little sense 
of Russia continuing as a national entity or recovering any lost glory. 
The work visa group is a very different story: They are 
computer/technical workers compelled to emigrate d/t job and wages back 
home. This group is critical of the USA in every respect; champion the 
Euro vs the dollar; and, stiffen up at the mention of a) Chechnya b) 
Georgia or c) Ukraine. Re age differences: The emigres are in their 50s 
and 60s while the work visa group are in their 30s. My ESL students 
bring "Victory Day" to my attn: "Will you be celebrating the defeat of 
Nazism on May 9?" "Why don't Americans celebrate May 9?"

 This group is nationally oriented and don't display alienation from the 
symbols of the Soviet period when linked to historical Russian 
achievements (i.e.) They send me EMails of the Red Army soldier raising 
the hammer and sickle flag above the Reichstag. I suspect they'd agree 
w/ Putin's recent characterization of the breakup of the USSR as an 
"historical catastrophe." They identify things like the Moscow subway 
with material accomplishments of the Soviet period. Gorbachev is a hero; 
Yeltsin, a stooge and a disgrace. They see Russia as a resurgent 
prescence globally which is being actively blocked by Bush. These folk 
have zero identification with socialism, Marxism, Communism etc. 
Ironically, the more nostalgic emigres show very conflicted feelings 
about the "actually existing socialism" under which they grew up. One 
co-worker proudly brings in photos of herself and her old coworkers 
receiving awards for circulating the most books in a factory library of 
10,000 workers-- very proletkult stuff.

 All in all, I'd say there is great nostalgia, mostly rooted in a 
general sense that as bad as things were back in the USSR, the 
revolution wrought major positive changes for the country which the new 
"oligarchy" has pissed away in a headlong flight to gangster capitalism.

 Bob M




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