Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Who Caused the Collapse of the Soviet Union? Part II

The first post in this series got a huge number of visitors, which makes me think that the topic is of interest to people and has to be developed further. So I'll keep writing on this subject until I run out of things to say (which will not be very soon.)

Now, the most important thing you need to do if you want to understand what happened to the Soviet Union and what's going on in its former republics right now is forget about the United States. I know that there are many people who like to believe that every single thing in the world is caused by the United States. Pseudo-liberals unwittingly demonstrate just how much they despise those of us from other countries by their insistence that if life in our countries does not correspond to their standards, that must have been caused by the interference of the US. This attitude is condescending, reductive and wrong. Today's reality of the former Soviet countries was created and is maintained by people in those countries. And it's not a reality that makes them unhappy, so fake compassion for us, poor unintelligent victims of the bad, all-powerful US, is completely misplaced. If that's the direction of your thoughts about us, you need to reexamine what psychological issues make you want to exaggerate the importance of your country at the expense of others.

Even Naomi Klein, who in her imaginative and often funny book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism demonstrates a grievous misunderstanding of the post-Soviet Russia (she refers to Yeltsin as Russian Pinochet, for Pete's sake), recognizes in a grudging manner that the Russians beat the IMF at its own game. Those of you who have read the book know that it's informed by Klein's extremely Americentric agenda. Still, even she doesn't manage to create a convincing account of American protagonism in the collapse of the Soviet Union and the further fate of the former Soviet republics.

Now that we have established a productive framework within which these events should be discussed, we will be able to continue exploring this topic.


profacero said...

I, who do not pay attention and just surmised, filling in with my imagination basically, thought this:

a) there was all this dissatisfaction.
b) there had been Gdansk and all.
c) Gorbachev thought reform was in order.
d) that opened the floodgates.
e) Yeltsin et al were opportunists from way back.
f) corruption was ingrained and stayed that way.
g) pissed off SSRs broke off and there was no power to hold them back.
h) some of these ex SSRs and people running them are mega conservative, not more progressive than USSR.
i) the whole place traumatized from the Czarist structure and then all the 20th century mega events.
j) as in DDR, better shopping is desired, as is cash for this purpose.
k) all of this opens wild west style space in which Mafia and Putin and others like them can move in to take advantage of the situation.

So how close/far am I?

Clarissa said...

I'd agree with most points except k. It will take me several posts, though, to present my vision of the entire story.

Rimi said...

Let's face it, Clarissa, there comes a time for every power, and culturally, it's the US's time now. It's economy might've been shaky for the last few decades, it's military a bully's tool, but it's cultural expots succeed even with those that criticise it most vehemently. For example, in my own country we grew up believining fiscal conservatives were the old-fashioned people who wanted to maintain state regulations on private organisations (especial food tech, health service providers and the financial sector). The progressives/modern people were those who wanted to keep the state out and welcome the deregulated market, otherwise known as the free market. Within a year of coming to the US, without my realising it, I've switched the meanings even inside my own head. If an Indian person identifies himself as a fiscal conservative to me, I know I will immediately classify him as I would an American 'conservative', or at least clarify. I'd never do the same if a non-Indian made the same claim. I'd accept the American definition by default.

So I don't quite think we can fee ourselves of the American paradigm even in our hindsight narratives. Our very narrative vocabulary has been shaped by that culture's consciousness.

Clarissa said...

I grew up behind the iron curtain. :-) So my narrative has been shaped by other forces.

I think this is partly why people like my blog. What I say sounds fresh and different to them because I know how to speak from a different vantage point.