[Marxism] Fwd: We have made today's Frankenstein with our own hands | openDemocracy

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Sep 29 10:33:31 MDT 2014

The years of capitalism in Russia did not result in large-scale 
capitalist construction; on the contrary – the country bankrupted and 
effectively destroyed its industry, and built up its economy by 
speculating on natural resources.

For Russians, all the problems of the economy stem from the loss of 
imperial status and territories. Ukraine simply detonated the explosion, 
which had been in preparation for a long time. What some people called 
'Slav Reconquista' is already under way: the empire is regaining lands, 
which it lost during perestroika. In the 1930s, Stalin restored 
Catherine the Great's empire, which had been lost in the socialist 
revolution, to its original size; the same is happening now.

In the 18th century, General Suvorov repressed the Polish uprising; 
Brezhnev sent the tanks into Czechslovakia; Crimea has been annexed, and 
now it is the turn of Donbas. The paradox of this restoration of 
territory, the 'Russian spring,' is that it is accompanied by talk of 
freedom. Thirty years ago, perestroika began with curses heaped on 
Stalin's gulags and a passionate desire for Western-style democracy. 
Today, Stalin has been virtually rehabilitated and democracy is 
associated with the capitalists' plunder of Russia; and cursed accordingly.

Democracy and the market

Some quarter of a century after the destruction of the imperial police 
state, the project to resurrect the Russian Empire became supremely 
important for the population; a new wave of autocratic ideology spread 
over the country – with all its bans, insinuations, persecution of 
dissidents, and catcalls from the crowd. At that point those who called 
themselves liberals and democrats suddenly became obvious victims.

Until then the liberals were cock of the walk. For 20 years, the Russian 
government had been associated with democracy, and only gradually moved 
away from democratic principles. The challenge to democracy came first 
and foremost from the market, and this altered the social contract.

Democracy was said to need a liberal market, and links between democracy 
and the market were considered natural. In reality, however, the 
liberal-corporate world became the substitute for the social contract. 
This should be unalterable and the relations between the citizen and 
society should be limited by mutual responsibility. But the market knows 
no limits and has little inclination to consider it has any 

The market has replaced democracy, which for some time failed to notice 
the substitution. The people, however, noticed the change quickly and 
instinctively. The 'rabble', as the liberals called them, hated the 
democrats for having impoverished them. They saw Russia' s devastation 
as caused by the principles of human rights.

The liberal intelligentsia was hated for its easy money and arrogance. 
Liberals were receiving big salaries in publishing for doing not much; 
industry was bankrupt yet here the corporations were spending enormous 
sums of money on publicity to convince people that the ruination of the 
country was an essential step on the way to freedom. Unfortunately, the 
age of liberalism in Russia came to an end, leaving behind no monuments 
or achievements to its name.

And what about the vast sums of money, I hear you ask? No hospitals for 
the poor were built, and there was no attempt to educate them either. It 
went towards columns in glossy magazines, outright attacks on Stalin, 
ridiculing supine Russians, and instilling the idea that the only 
criterion for human fortune is market success.

Twenty five years ago the socialist barracks were knocked down in the 
rush of progress (they liked that word then), and ordinary Russians were 
robbed. Not that they were particularly prosperous before then. But 
suddenly there were legal ways of taking away whatever remained to 
people, and speculation became a worthy occupation. At that point life 
was just ballast for the market, and anything that did not fit it died 
the death. The new rich became the flagship of change; bourgeois tastes 
became the criteria of justice and beauty; they had, after all, 
successfully proved themselves in the market.


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