[Marxism] RE Putin government and the USSR

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at rogers.com
Tue May 10 14:20:55 MDT 2005

Ilyenkova wrote:

> 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
Interesting first-hand impressions which confirm the better media and other 
accounts I've read about the national mood. Surprising, though, to see 
Gorbachev spoken about positively. I thought he was the old system's last 
best hope, and he always struck me as having more personal integrity and 
understanding than most of his peers. But I also thought he was widely 
blamed by the Russian masses (not entirely incorrectly) for haphazardly 
starting in motion the process which brought in the robber barons. I wonder 
if there's anyone in Russia these days, outside the Rolex-and-Lexus set, who 
still think 1990 was a good thing. Seems to me socialism and Marxism will 
have to be resurrected and redefined in struggle on a global scale before 
people like your friends, who identify with the USSR for reasons of national 
pride but reject the economic and political rigours associated with it, are 
drawn in that direction again.


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