Regime Change is Not Revolution

“”There was no meaningful revolution. It’s former members of the Soviet elite and their kids who are still running the country as we speak. Nothing’s changed for the general populace except that their rights to medical care, education and (shitty, but functioning) housing has been removed. Life expectancy is fucking worse in modern Russia than it was under Communism and yet its seen as progress.┬áHere’s what happened, in a simplistic description:

“Some of the wealthy elite decided that they weren’t getting rich enough in a closed economy. They realized that they could pacify the populace more effectively by stapling up a thin veneer of freedom while they privatized all the state-built infrastructure by way of selling it off to their buddies and simultaneously built an economy designed to do more for lining their pockets than stealing shared internal wealth ever could.

“Then they decided to clean house with the coup. This gave the illusion of distancing future government from the Central Committee and making a fresh start where the abuses of the past were blamed on historical figures, and not the people taking over who just moments ago had been ideological companions of those historical monsters.

“Yay! Communism’s over! We’re going to have elections! We’ll totally be counting the votes but there’s no corruption anymore so you can trust us! We’re going to be free now. ‘Free’ means that you can potentially purchase consumer goods that weren’t designed and manufactured by gibbons, and you can watch sitcoms instead of watching ballet and playing god damn chess. Backpacks for your children with cartoon characters on them, just like your cousin in Toronto has for his kids! Doesn’t that sound fucking sweet?”

“Then when the mic was off, they said “Of course, most of you still aren’t going to have the money to buy anything except turnips, rags and methanol. But a plutocracy’s an easier sell when people can aspire to step over their neighbor’s corpse to join it instead of that ‘we’re all in this together’ bullshit. And we won’t actually provide free speech or free elections. We’re not idiots; the idiots are those grimy people out there. Their lives are going to be virtually unchanged because they’re still going to have jack shit and they’re still going to have to be careful about how loud they complain. Hey guys, who wants an oil refinery?”

“A regime change doesn’t always equal a revolution. A revolution causes a fundamental shift in how government works. The “revolution” in question caused as much change for the ordinary Russian citizen as Bush I taking over for Reagan did for Americans.”

Commenter on a Metafilter discussion about the collapse of the Soviet Union.