There were three basic factors that brought down the USSR:
The system exhausted sources for the economic growth. From the late 1970s onward, the economic inputs in the Soviet Union started to surpass the economic outputs. With the drop in oil prices in the 1980s, we ran out of reserves to compensate for the inefficiencies inherent to our centrally-planned model (see the graph below).
Sharp rise of ethnic nationalism, starting with the Jeltoqsan riots in 1986.
Military setbacks amid the dramatic escalation of arms race: the Afghan war, Operation Mole Cricket 19, the impossibility to match the increasing technology gap in the latest military technologies. This created an enormous pressure to close the gap, which made the top elite start casting around for new approaches. That’s how the Perestroika and Glasnost weren’t shot down right from the outset.
Civil society along the European edge of Romanov’s empire was in 1917 strong enough to self-organize and push back the Communist attempts to recapture them.
“Nationalism” is the keyword that explains why the westernmost parts for former Imperial Russia turned impossible for the new Bolshevik rulers to reconquer during the Civil War.
The economic development created in Finland, the Baltic republics, and Poland the mercantile and educated classes that every nation is dependent on for its survival. These elites managed to unite the rest of the nation on the basis of “us against them”.
The imperial dominance of the House of Romanov made it impossible for the Russian elite to unite on the same nationalist platform. Thanks to the prevailing imperial mindset of Russia’s educated classes, the Bolsheviks managed to recruit tens of thousands of former Czarist military officers and intellectuals on the promise of restoration of the empire, now in the guise of Soviet Russia.
President Trump proves that the recipe for success in Russian politics is equally applicable for American democracy.
Trump’s presidency—along with Brexit and the rise of the far right in Europe—has vindicated the visceral knowledge that we in Russia had possessed long before the man won the White House. His rulebook is profoundly tested in post-Soviet Russia. No wonder he gets results.
Below is the image that reveals the deep wisdom of Donald Trump hidden beneath the Fibonacci pattern of his hairstyle. I believe it’ll take years and even decades for us to fully grasp the enormity of new insights we got thanks to the man
Eduard Limonov is a counterculture Russian author who knows the value of controversy. He founded the party of National-Bolsheviks that fused the Stalinist nostalgia with elements of Nazi symbols and rituals. First, that made him fall out with Putin’s state oligarchy. Now he made the full transformation arc and became a firebrand prophet of Russian radical nationalism—a Putinist who dares to speak up his mind where Putin himself must keep mum for the reasons of expediency.
For no apparent reason, he recently tweeted a “testament” to the nation, “just in case I won’t live long enough”. He suggests that Russia and China share Kazakhstan between themselves, so that we get the northern and western part, and the Chinese the rest. The deal that he calls “new Molotov-Ribbentrop”, should happen once the ex-Communist ruler of Kazakhstan dies of old age. The way to go, according to him, is to run Crimea-like “referendums” in each of the disputed areas.
Some ten years ago, Putin’s men allegedly vented with NATO sharing Ukraine along the same lines. The east and the south would go us, and the north and west, the area of the old “Mardeburg Law” would stay neutral, or get absorbed by Poland.
Sharing the adjoining lands’ territories has long been a favorite pastime among our radical nationalists. What is new after Crimea ’14 is this kind of statements becoming a national mainstream outside the “moderate” circle of Putin’s closest allies and aides.
The map below shows the regions in Kazakhstan with prevalence of ethnic Russians (blue). In other words, Limonov’s testament means taking several regions with the ethnic Kazakh prevalence. This is an easy recipe for war with Kazakhstan and a major confrontation with China. Which is why I believe the chance of it happening is close to zero as long as Putin is sitting firm in the Kremlin.