The Challenges of Transformation
Publication Year: 2011
In Russia, a group of leading Russian intellectuals and social scientists join with top researchers from around the world to examine the social, political, and economic transformation in Russia. This timely and important book of orginal essays makes clear that neither politics nor economics alone holds the key to Russia's future, presenting critical perspectives on challenges facing Russia, both in its domestic policies and in its international relations. It also explores how global order--or disorder--may develop over the coming decades.
Contributors include: Oleg Atkov, Timothy J. Colton, Georgi Derluguian, Mikhail K. Gorshkov, Leonid Grigoriev, Nur Kirabaev, Andrew C. Kuchins, Bobo Lo, Roderic Lyne, Vladimir Popov, Alexander Rahr, Richard Sakwa, Guzel Ulumbekova, Vladimir I. Yakunin, Rustem Zhangozha.
Published by: NYU Press
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Many people and organizations contributed to this book. Above all, we are all grateful to the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilization” for its unwavering support for this project, the generous funding that permitted us to meet in Rhodes (in October 2009) to discuss the first draft of this book, and support in editing and translating several of the chapters. We are in particular grateful to Dr. V. I. Yakunin for his strategic decision to support the presentation of divergent views on Russia in this volume in a true spirit of dialogue of cultures.
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For seventy years, Western policy makers and social scientists obsessed anxiously over the Soviet threat. For twenty years after the collapse of the USSR they have underestimated the importance of Russia. It is time to move past both exaggerated anxiety and relative neglect. Likewise, since the collapse of the Soviet Union Russian intellectuals themselves have vacillated between overstated assertions of the country’s power and importance, and insecure catalogs of unfavorable international comparisons highlighting its weaknesses and problems.
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This book seeks to “re-think Russia.” Over the past years, there has been a tendency, in the global academic community but even more widely in the world media, to focus on Russia’s failure to transit from communism to democracy. The verdict reads, sternly, “lost in transition.” A countertendency, actively propagated within Russia, has extolled the virtues of the country’s stabilization after the tempest and tumult of the 1980s and 1990s.
1 Missing in Translation: Re-conceptualizing Russia’s Developmental State
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This is a story about power, accumulation, state, bureaucracy, and survival. It draws the contours of Russia’s attempt at modernization via etatization.1 It provides a sketch of Russia’s trajectory over the past twenty years, and it is about “politics from above” as a vehicle of social change and its successes and failures. This chapter is also a theoretical vignette within the open-ended story of the possible developmental direction of one of the world’s most important subsystems.2
2 The Long Road to Normalcy: Where Russia Now Stands
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The world economic recession hit Russia harder than other countries due to the collapse of oil prices, the outflow of capital caused by world recession, and poor policies to cope with the shock. The reduction in GDP in 2009 totaled 7.9 percent, as compared to 2.5 percent in the United States, 4.1 percent in the European Union, and 5.2 percent in Japan. Emerging markets, however, did much better than developed countries. China grew by 8.7 percent, India by 5.7 percent, the Middle East by 2.4 percent, and sub-Saharan Africa by 2.1 percent.
3 The Sovereign Bureaucracy in Russia’s Modernizations
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Ever since 1553, when the enterprising Englishman Richard Chancellor found Archangelsk, instead of a northern bypass to India, Russia has been described as Europe’s eccentric other. The familiar tropes of comparison persisted over the centuries: a gigantic frozen realm of fabulous natural riches, a different tradition of Christianity, the subserviently fatalistic populace under mighty autocratic rulers. The stress on otherness became a matter of faith for many Russians themselves, from stolid conservatives to messianic subversives and liberal Westernizers appalled by the “Asiatic” backwardness of their native land.
4 The Changing Dynamics of Russian Politics
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Following the dissolution of the communist regime in 1991, President Boris Yeltsin was faced with the challenge of establishing a new political order. This involved a twofold project: transformative and adaptive. The transformative element was intended to overcome the Soviet legacy and to introduce elements of the market, and thus in certain respects was reminiscent of the Bolshevik attempt at grandiose social engineering, although in reverse gear. The adaptive element, however, mitigated the Bolshevik features of the new system.
5 Leadership and the Politics of Modernization
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If a country has ever fit this near-truism to a “T,” it has been the Russia seemingly designed by nature for one-man rule. That being so, the presence today of a pair of ostensible captains of the ship, Vladimir Putin joined by Dmitrii Medvedev, is a novel and puzzling sight. Speculation about a rekindling of Russian modernization would be hollow at the core without a look at this anomaly and the circumstances behind it, at leadership in general, and at its place in promoting or retarding change.
6 The Sociology of Post-reform Russia
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Russian society is frequently accused of being secretive and of not lending itself to sociological analysis. It is said that it is too strange and incomprehensible for the West to understand. This is no coincidence. It is perfectly obvious that compared with most Western countries, there are certain peculiarities about Russia that complicate any analysis, assessment, or forecast of the direction of socio-economic and political change there, past and present.
7 Elites: The Choice for Modernization
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Every country — Russia is no exception — “acquires” a new functioning elite — be it political, financial, or intellectual — as a result of revolution or a change of regime. The old elite may lose control and depart or, with luck, may merge into the new formation of social strata existing in that particular country. The composition and structure of elites are country-specific and reflect that country’s history. The removal of the old power elite — particularly the Communist elite — has been no easy matter. In Russia, transition has been extremely complicated, primarily because the change of power elites occurred within a superpower during peace time.1
8 Education for an Innovative Russia
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These days, Russia is, statistically speaking, a world leader in the field of education, with 630 students for every 10,000 members of the population. Bearing in mind that 88 percent of Russian citizens regard higher education as extremely desirable for their children, it is obvious that post-secondary education is playing an important role in constructing Russia’s future role within the world system.
9 Health and Healthcare in Russia Today and Tomorrow
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This chapter discusses some of the demographic challenges faced by the Russian government since the fall of communism. It then analyzes the government’s attempts to address those challenges and proposes several steps aimed at improving the overall performance of the Russian health care system.
10 The Imaginary Curtain
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In Moscow, on July 6, 2009, President Obama stated that he and President Medvedev were “committed to leaving behind the suspicion and rivalry of the past so that we can advance the interests that we hold in common.”1 On September 10 (in his article “Go, Russia!”), President Medvedev declared that “resentment, arrogance, various complexes, mistrust and especially hostility should be excluded from the relations between Russia and the leading democratic countries.”2
11 What Kind of a Europe for What Kind of Russia
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This chapter examines what went wrong in the relations between Russia and the West over the first two decades after the end of the Cold War and how the idea of an alliance can be repaired in the coming decades.
12 The Obama Administration’s “Reset Button” for Russia
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Developing and implementing policy toward Russia has proven to be one of the greatest and most controversial challenges for four administrations in Washington since the end of the Cold War nearly twenty years ago. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, whose administrations together were responsible for Russia policy for the majority of the period from 1993 to 2009, each devoted a great deal of time and energy to improving ties with Moscow, yet each left office frustrated and disappointed, and with a bilateral relationship in worse condition than at the beginning of their administrations.
13 Russia: The Eastern Dimension
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The course of Russian foreign policy over the past four hundred years offers up a singular paradox. On the one hand, Russia’s eastward expansion during the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries established the physical reality of a state whose territory lies predominantly in Asia. On the other hand, its rulers — in tsarist, communist, and post-Soviet times — have consistently viewed Russia as part of a larger European and Western civilization. The two-headed Romanov eagle on the national coat of arms makes for a nice image, but at no stage has Russia developed an Asian outlook.
14 Russia and the Newly Independent States of Central Asia: Relations Transformed
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This chapter is devoted to an analysis of the new kind of relations developing between Russia and the post-Soviet countries of Central Asia. Fifteen states emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union, among them five in Central Asia — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan. Even a quick look at the literature shows that most of the research carried out on the countries of Central Asia has been done by non-Central Asian researchers who base their findings on what they observe from outside.1
15 Of Power and Greatness
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The breakup of the Soviet Union, which happened suddenly and unexpectedly for most of its subjects as well as outsiders, finally closed the books on the historical Russian empire. It also signified the end of Soviet Russia as an ideological power, and an all-around military superpower, which constituted important trappings of the very last — Soviet — edition of Russian imperialism. 1 This is not the place to discuss whether the USSR was doomed from the start of perestroika, or whether it might have been preserved by more competent policies, supported, for example, by higher oil prices.
AFTERWORD: Russia and the West: Toward Understanding
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The author himself comes from this Russian reality and, together with 150 million people close to him, finds himself negotiating the eddies of Russia’s chaos. Yet at the same time he bears the burden of responsibility for many incidences of destruction and transition — “both professionally and personally.” This chapter was not easy to write. Every sentence provoked memories and gave rise to many unanswered questions.
About the Contributors
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Page Count: 507
Publication Year: 2011