Russia as Degenerated Liberal Democracy

[W]hat happened in Russia between 1985 and 1999 was in fact a revolution in much the same sense as the Bolshevik and French Revolutions. The primary difference is that while the French Revolution (and the English Civil War, and to some extent the German revolution in 1848) served to eliminate or reduce the systemic obstacles preventing a premodern economy from becoming a modern one, and the 1917 revolution removed the barriers between a modernizing economy and a contemporary Fordist/Keynesian one, the 1985 revolution realigned a system that was unable to transition between a Fordist economy and a post-industrial, knowledge/services-based one. One good argument, for instance, is that the 1985 revolution displays much the same sequence of phases as any other: first the moderate alternative (Gorbachev) is brought to power, but proves itself unable to control the flow of events or implement necessary reforms, so after a challenge from the Right (the August 1991 coup), the radicals (Yeltsin) take over. … After Thermidor, according to Mau, there are only a few possible ways forward. One is a military dictatorship oriented towards its own survival; another is a partial restoration of the old order. In one way or another, though, all the alternatives are authoritarian, paternalistic, and conservative.

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