4 mins ago

Putin is making a mistake Lenin didn’t, analyst notes

Print More

The Russian Empire fell apart twice in the 20th century, in 1917 and then again in 1991. And it is likely to fall apart a third time in the coming years because Vladimir Putin is making a mistake Vladimir Lenin did not: seeking to formally impose a Great Russia on all its non-Russian components, Andrey Piontkovsky says.

When the Russian Empire fell apart in 1917, the Russian commentator notes, “the leaders of the White Movement experienced [that] as a national catastrophe” because they “completely sincerely considered” the non-Russian regions of the country to be “part of Great Russia” (svoboda.org/a/28699593.html).

But their “principled position had only one shortcoming: they were not supported by Ukrainians, Caucasians or Balts, or indeed by any of the non-Russian peoples of Russia” because none of them could tolerate the idea of “Great Russia.” And that allowed the Reds to win because they “promised everything to everyone and entered into all kinds of tactical alliances.”

Having defeated the Whites, Mr. Piontkovsky continues, Lenin and the Bolsheviks “quite rapidly implemented his program of ‘one and indivisible’ by restoring almost entirely the Russian Empire.” They were able to do so because they never sought to impose the “absolutely alien and empty” idea of Great Russia on the non-Russians.

Instead, they promised “social justice and the liberation of the oppressed toilers. It is not important that the idea turned out to be false and its implementation criminal. This became clear later. But, at the time, it districted millions of people independent of their nationality … and played the role of a genuine new religion.”

Andrey Amalrik, the author of “Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984?” was right when he asserted that “the acceptance of communism extended the existence of the Russian Empire for several decades.” Had that idea not been spread, Mr.Piontkovsky says, “the USSR could have fallen apart a little earlier or a little later.”

“But when the communist religion died in the souls [of the Soviet population],” the Russian commentator says, “the Soviet theocratic empire was condemned to death.” That is something Mr. Putin and his regime do not understand, and consequently they are driving everyone away from it.

The only thing the current regime can offer is something no one wants, Mr. Piontkovsky says, including “pompous talk about its greatness, its historical imperial mission, the sacredness of Khersones,” and so on. “But this drivel isn’t of interest to anyone,” and now across the post-Soviet space, including inside Russia, the much ballyhooed “Russian world” has failed utterly.

This “Nazi-like” notion has suffered “two most serious metaphysical defeats,” the Russian commentator continues. On the one hand, “it was rejected by the overwhelming majority of the ethnic Russian population of Ukraine, which remained loyal to the Ukrainian state and its European choice. And on the other, “it has not received any serious support inside Russia itself.”

“Ukraine is gone for good,” he notes. “The collective wailing” of Russia’s so-called elites about the denigration of their country has become “a self-fulfilling prophecy” given that “Russia appeared in relation to Ukraine in the most denigrating role of an impotent rapist.” In short, Lenin understood what was necessary to hold the empire together. Mr. Putin doesn’t – and so the empire will continue to fall apart.

 

Paul Goble is a long-time specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia who has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau, as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The article above is reprinted with permission from his blog called “Window on Eurasia” (http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/).

Comments are closed.